Maria Connolly Somatic Psychotherapy CoachingConnect with me on LinkedInLike us on Facebook

Tips on How to Squeeze a Summer Vacation into Your Busy Schedule

Tips on how you can squeeze a summer vacation in even if you have a tight scheduleAre you going to take some time off this summer to refresh yourself and recharge? Or are you going to be like the majority of workaholic Americans who won’t get away from work? Nearly three-quarters of Americans feel they’re too busy to use their paid vacation days and 15 percent don’t use any of their vacation days at all! That’s more than 150 million unused vacation days every year. Is this making us a healthier and happier nation of people? Absolutely not!

Did you know that much of Western Europe takes from four to six weeks off? In Italy, where I grew up, workers get 31 days of guaranteed paid vacation. And they take those days and enjoy them with their families. Every year I make a point of recharging by attending retreats that are both educational and promote personal development and emotional growth. My hope for you is that you can enjoy a similar experience.

But what if you can’t be away for an entire week because of unusual circumstances? Does that mean you should give up on the idea of having a vacation? Not at all.

Here are some suggestions so you can squeeze in some time away:

If you can’t block out a large chunk of time, why not split your time up into short, two or three day vacations throughout the year?

Strategically plan ahead for your vacation days. Of course, you won’t want to leave in the middle of a project, therefore make sure you wrap things up before you go so you’re not worrying about it.

Be willing to delegate. It’s worth it to train someone well in advance who can step into your shoes while you’re gone. And if you’re worried about your home, hire a reputable house sitter or have a friend stop by to check on things.

Put your vacation time on your calendar as non-negotiable.

Inform and periodically remind your clients, co-workers, and boss that you’ll be gone so it doesn’t catch them by surprise.

Leave your office and home organized. This relieves your mind of nagging, unfinished business, as well as, gives you a clean place to come back to. Nothing destroys the vacation bliss faster than coming home to a chaotic mess.

Unplug. Even if you have to force yourself, disconnect from technology, including the television. Use the time to reconnect with your loved ones and feed your mind on books, art or another creative outlet.

Don’t expect to hit the ground running on your first day back. It’s so much better to give yourself a day to ease back into your routine and catch up.

The truth is if you want to achieve business excellence, you must take time to recharge your battery. You’re health and your relationships will improve, too, because you’re finally getting relief from the constant stress. Plus you’ll discover some great opportunity to fuel and tap into your greater creativity.

Want to get into the vacation mood quicker? Why not schedule a session of somatic coaching to calm your mind and reconnect with your body? Contact me and I’ll help you get started on that summer vacation you deserve.

Teaching the Body How to Program the Brain for Health

The Feldenkrais Method® teaches your body to program your brain for optimal mental and physical health, self-confidence and enjoyment of life.“We act in accordance with our self-image.” ~ Moshe Feldenkrais

According to the latest report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. That’s a staggering amount of human suffering and lost productivity. Are you one of them?

Pain and mobility issues typically come from two sources — an underlying physical condition (like an injury or inflammation) and the subconscious way you hold your body and your movement (like tension or habitually walking with your head down). It becomes a vicious cycle of inflamed muscles aggravated by poor posture, which inflames the muscles more.

While medical treatment addresses physical conditions, they often neglect the subconscious choices. How can you find the most effective solution if you’re ignoring a major component of the problem? That’s why the Feldenkrais Method® teaches a person to uncover the underlying way your brain and body are working, or not working together.

Let us be clear – The Feldenkrais Method® is a learning process, not a treatment. It helps you learn to better understand what your body is telling you and to improve your movements and interactions with the world around you. Through it, you engage muscles you’ve not used for quite awhile or didn’t even know you had – in a non-invasive, very gentle way. Many people, after trying it, marvel that so much can be accomplished with such little movements.

What are some of the benefits, besides pain relief, of Feldenkrais? You will…

  1. Improve the Basics: Achieve better balance and higher performance by learning to sit, stand, and walk with dynamic stability and balance. Learn skills for improving your sensory acuity and self-awareness.
  1. Move Smarter: Recover from injuries faster and understand how the whole body participates in the process of recovery. Encourage the development of new neuro-pathways.
  1. Sleep Better: Teach your body to rest well, improving sleep function for restoration, relaxation, and repair.
  1. Improve Posture: Learn to move more efficiently, with less effort and highest skeletal support
  1. Improve Your Self-Image: Moshe believed that our self-image is smaller than our potential capacity. Awareness Through Movement creates a favorable training ground for enhanced learning, improved thought processes, more efficient movement and positive learning, which in turn, improves the awareness of the person in relationship to self, others and the world.
  1. Have Fun: Feldenkrais is fun! Learning is fun! Feldenkrais is a way of learning how to learn rather than a therapeutic method to fix aches and pains.

There is an indisputable connection between the mind and body. And it is only by engaging the whole person that you can become aware and make mindful choices that support you. Are you ready to learn what you’re body and mind have been trying to tell you all these years? If you live near Ashland, OR, please contact my office to discuss the best option for your situation.

How I Eliminated Chronic Pain and Began Teaching The Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Re-education

Maria Connolly teaching Awareness Through Movement® from The Feldenkrais Method®Six years ago, before I decided to sign up for The Feldenkrais Method®, a 4-year intense course in Eugene, Oregon, I often suffered from lower back pain. It seemed as if it would come up all of a sudden with no warning and no clue as to how it happened. At times, I would have to clear my schedule because the pain was so intense and debilitating. Perhaps many of you with high stress jobs where you sit in front of the computer all day can relate to having intense back pain for no apparent reason.

During the training, I learned to sense into myself more accurately and deliberately. The daily practice of body awareness through movement was a delightful discovery, an opportunity to know myself through my body in motion. Feldenkrais has enhanced the perception of both how I move and why I move. I loved it so much that the student has become the teacher. That’s me in the above photo teaching some of my clients an Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lesson.

What is The Feldenkrais Method®?

I realize that many haven’t heard of this method, so let me give you a little background. It was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist, engineer, judo master, soccer player and gymnast. After a knee injury, he began to pay attention to his own movements. Opting out of surgery, he turned to his knowledge of physics and using his own body as a research subject. Feldenkrais created a means of learning to move beyond habitual patterns of movement.

He believed that the central nervous system plays a key role in a person’s comfort, so he focused on encouraging awareness of the skeleton, muscles, and joints. This new awareness allows each body part to participate more fully in every action so that no one part is stressed more than another.

The skeleton is able to provide its intended support so the muscles feel more relaxed. This leads naturally to a decrease in tension and an expanded range of motion and flexibility. This new awareness helps a person understand their customary negative patterns of posture and movement and learn to create more functional ones.

He developed his discovery into a program called The Feldenkrais Method®. It allowed him to increase efficiency and range of movement, reduce stress, improve posture and flexibility, function and self-image with greater comfort and ease. After helping himself, he went on to help many others experience that same relief. Is that something you’d like?

How can you learn The Feldenkrais Method®? There are two ways of learning this technique:

Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lessons. Generally these are group lessons. In a non-judgmental learning environment, the Feldenkrais teacher verbally guides the students in gentle and easy movement sequences. Students are supported in accepting themselves and their bodies by moving only within their ranges of ease and comfort. The emphasis is on curiosity, discovery and exploration, attending to the quality of movement, and especially observing one’s own internal process while performing the movement.  The above photo illustrates one of these lessons.

Functional Integration® (FI). This is done in individual, hands-on lessons.  The client lies fully clothed on a low table while the teacher uses gentle touch to explore ways that she can move more comfortably. The lessons are tailored to the individual and will be different each time. The quality of presence and touch in an FI lesson reassures the nervous system and can help restore inner balance.

Are you interested in exploring how this easy-on-the-body method can bring lasting pain relief and increased personal confidence? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can work out lessons that help you become more aware of movements that support you as a person.  If you know someone who could benefit from this, please refer them to me so they can benefit, too.

The 90-Second Secret to Mastering Your Emotions

90 second secret to mastering your emotions“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus” ~ Bruce Lee

Psst…Want to know a secret?

How do successful people perform so well, whether it’s on the ball court or in the boardroom or on the stage? They’ve learned to control their emotions and make them work for themselves rather than against themselves. They know how to tap into the power of their own natural brain processes by fully utilizing the 90-Second Secret.

In an earlier blog, we discussed how the emotional response from cortisol only lasts 90 seconds in your system. How you react after that is within your own choice. You can either perpetuate the cycle or you can shift your focus to a more positive thinking process. Your thoughts are powerful. And it does only take 90 seconds to make significant changes in your emotional responses. One secret is to utilize visualization.

Here’s the key that many don’t tell you when they discuss visualization: Most of us visualize before we want something to happen. However, it’s much more powerful to use 90 seconds during or after an incident and visualize a successful outcome.

Here are five steps to making the most of those 90 seconds.

  1. Relax your body by breathing deeply and slowly until you have 6 to 8 breaths per minute.
  2. Be fully present in the moment, blocking out what others may be thinking or doing.
  3. Be aware of how you’re feeling, but don’t give in to it. Count to 90 and remind yourself that you get to choose your emotions.
  4. Engage both hemispheres of your brain. Often we’re taught to replace our thoughts and redirect our attention towards more positive and relaxing topics. However, this means you’re still relying solely on the left hemisphere of the brain. Before the thoughts take root in your left hemisphere and become your reality, move them to the right hemisphere, by choosing to focus on what you smell, taste, see, hear and physically feel.
  5. Visualize in great detail or play a movie in your mind of successful outcomes. What outcome do you want and how will it feel? Again, engage your whole brain by incorporating ALL of your senses – what you see, smell, taste, touch, and hear as you do this. It only wastes time and energy to replay negative emotions. You don’t want them to become your reality.

In practical terms, how can you apply the 90-Second Secret to real-life situations? Here are some examples:

  • You begin your day feeling unfocused, not knowing where to start. Take 90 seconds to visualize your desired results for that day’s important goals. (Feel the confusion leaving as you become totally centered.)
  • You have good intentions to accomplish so much, but days and weeks go by and you feel like you have nothing to show for yourself. Take 90 seconds every night and be grateful for what you have accomplished and the steps you’ll take to accomplish your goal for tomorrow. (Feel how this grounds you and keeps you on track.)
  • You really want XYZ in your life but it seems elusive and you tell yourself, “It’s never going to happen”. Take 90 seconds and visualize what you want, how you want it to happen and how it feels when it happens. (Feel your inner peace and confidence return and joy when it does happen!)
  • You feel the stresses of the day piling up on you until you want to scream or cry. Take 90 seconds to reboot and change the course of the day from that point onward. (Feel the tension release and the frustration dissolve.)
  • You’re tired and can’t focus. Take 90 seconds to recharge yourself with calming deep breaths and body movements. (Feel your energy and ambition renew.)
  • You’re nervous about an upcoming speaking engagement or difficult conversation or meeting. Take 90 seconds to become more deliberate as you go in with a positive attitude. (Feel your muscles loosen and peace and harmony return.)

This technique isn’t hard to learn, however, it does take some effort. Want me to walk you through this process in more detail? I’d love to help you master this technique so you can live a more intentional and peaceful life. Contact me and we can get started right away. It’s time to master your emotions instead of letting them control you.

NLP Can Help You Find Happiness and Self-Confidence

NLP can help you find happiness and self confidence “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~ Thomas Merton

Daily we use verbal language to communicate thoughts and feelings. If we’re observant, we can also understand others by the body language they use. If you’re good at it, it’s almost as if you can read someone’s mind.

Could it be that you’re actually tapping into their brain language?

Does the brain really have a language? Think back to a time when you were extremely happy… Did you consciously tell your lips to spread into a wide smile, your eyes to shine and your body to relax? Of course not. Your brain is sending signals, or speaking to those parts of your brain in response to the situation you’re in. Its chemical and electrical interactions are telling you how to position yourself. That’s a powerful language skill! And people who can read your body language can also read the language of your brain. They know, “he’s bluffing” or “she won’t back down”.

What if you could teach your brain to speak differently to your body, so you could choose to be happy and confident all the time? NLP and Somatic Coaching can help you achieve that.

What is NLP?

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is an approach to communication and personal development created in the 1970’s. The name refers to a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”), and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience (“programming”) and can be organized to achieve specific goals in life. NLP Coaching services aim to find ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives. By paying close attention to the language we use, as well as becoming more aware of the nonverbal patterns in our environment we can become more deliberate and purposeful in our thinking and actions.

NLP presupposes that the mind and body are part of the same system. I spoke about the integration of mind/body/spirit earlier in connection with Somatic Coaching. When you recognize this connection, you can use NLP’s set of guiding principles and techniques to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors as you desire. It also gives you the ability to choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of wellbeing. It teaches you a new mind/body “language”.

Sometimes you may feel like something is broken inside. Yet NLP reveals that nothing is ever broken or wrong. Instead you just need to find a process that enhances your strengths. All humans come equipped with an exceptional sense of inner intuition, a sense of knowing that is intimately linked to your physical experience.

Unfortunately, due to upbringing and life experiences we often disconnect from that in order to adapt and survive in our environment. When we have a ritual, which NLP and Somatic Coaching can teach you, you can reconnect with your own inner experience embracing whatever arises within, with peaceful awareness and clear intention. Then you can fully experience and process each emotion – joy, grief, anger, amusement, pain, energy, etc. And often, you’ll discover the strength of developing and cultivating an attitude of patient, loving presence that allows the emotions to flow according to your own natural rhythm.

Are you ready to discover new ways to update yourself and function at higher levels in relation to your surroundings? My approach is best described as integrative. Contact me and I’ll bring together a number of therapeutic approaches, one of them being NLP, and unify them into a unique working model just for you.

Recent Posts

About Maria

Our Address