Cultivating a Positive State of Being

As I’ve mentioned before, I receive weekly “Wellness Wednesday” emails from master healer Sonia Sommer, and they’re always full of inspiring insights and practical tools. I wanted to share one of her most recent articles with you because this practice is so easy and simple, yet so potentially powerful. Here it is:

Form Is Content

by Sonia Sommer

I first heard the concept in a parenting book. Kids are sponges for their environment. Not so much the physical things in it, but more importantly, the emotional state of the people around them. The emotional environment.

The idea was, as long as you create a calm, loving state within yourself, what you say and do will be the optimum environment for your child to learn and thrive.

On the flip side, negative states such as anxiousness or anger will send your child into fear and protection mode, which stunts growth and learning, amongst other things.

The form: your state of being, is the content delivered in your life.

Here's the thing, this is true for all of us, all the time.

The primary thing to cultivate is your state of being. This pretty much takes care of everything! Wait that's a bold statement....but, yeah I'm sticking with it.

When you're in an optimal state such as gratitude or the less tangible but uber powerful love, you'll naturally say, do and create optimal things. 

And ... get this ...

So will the people around you. That's nice isn't it? Sustained higher states of being always entrain lower states upwards. (That one I learned in Rolfing school decades ago).

You are effectively, the transmitter and receiver of the content of your life. You create and receive according to your internal state of being. 

This is a huge relief and super awesome I reckon. Because it's much easier to just go internal and cultivate your state than it is to try to figure out exactly what to do in every moment. Especially when shit's hitting the fan, other people are chucking a tantrum or things just aren't flowing.

I invite you to try this experiment today and see what happens

·         First thing in the morning, sit quietly and bring to mind a time when you gave or received love. Think of your kids, parents, pet, good mates, whatever works for you. 

·         Cultivate this state of love with all your senses. What does it feel like in your body, what are the words, sights, smells. Really bathe yourself in this sea of love.

·         Hang here with great focus for 2 - 3 minutes (longer and your mind starts wandering).

·         Enjoy your day.

That's it! 

If you want to boost things, you can set a timer to go off 3 times during the day and repeat the process. I begin all meditations with this process and try to stay with it for the entire time. If you bump into something or someone a bit challenging during the day, go straight to your form. You'll access the full bandwidth of optimal outcomes.

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What do you think? Sounds so simple, but I can see how it has the potential to change everything. Try it and let me know how it goes!

I’ll be taking some family vacation time in July, so the blog will be on break until the beginning of August. See you then!

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The Big 7 Ways to Boost Happiness (Quickly and for Free!)

I just got these 7 tips on how to boost your happiness in Sonia Sommer’s “Wellness Wednesday” email and had to share them with you! Here’s what she says:

I used to struggle with depression and anxiety. For years. If this is you, I know how it feels mate. I thought I'd stay like that for my whole life.

But I didn't.

These days, I jump out of bed feeling joy. Even when life serves up the shit sandwich, emotions pass through very quickly and I go right back to my new baseline of genuine happiness.

You're supposed to feel happy most of the time too. That's why I've been throwing joy spaghetti on your walls lately, so that something will stick.

It's actually natural to feel joyful. Stress and anxiety are an unnatural state.

Joy tip #4 the Big 7

My fantastic colleague Brian Johnson sent me this and I have to share it with you because it's a beaut summary of many of the methods I used to create my happiness baseline. 

This comes from a compilation of research by Neil Pasricha, author of "The Happiness Equation."

If you do any of these seven things for two straight weeks, you will feel happier.

Three Walks + The 20-Minute Replay + Random Acts of Kindness + A Complete Unplug + Hit Flow + 2-Minute Meditations + Five Gratitudes

Let’s take a super quick look at our Big 7 ways to boost our happiness and remember that science says the Happiness Equation STARTS with happiness.

It’s Happiness —> Great work —> Success NOT Great Work —> Success —> Happiness.

1. Three Walks. Exercise is as effective as Zoloft in reducing depression. Even just three brisk walks can do the trick! Remember that *not* exercising is like taking a depressant and get out there and MOVE YOUR BODY.

2. The 20-Minute Replay. Writing for 20 minutes about a positive experience is a GREAT way to boost your happiness. Scientists call it savoring. Groove the good stuff!

3. Random Acts of Kindness. Did you know that THE fastest, most reliable way to boost your mood is to do something nice for someone else? Yep. Find ways to do something nice!
 
4. A Complete Unplug. We’ve gotta make waves. Fully on. Fully off. Repeat. Are you training your RECOVERY as much as your “on” phases? Remember that it’s not that we work too hard but that we don’t recover enough. 
 
5. Hit Flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi tells us that the optimal state of human experience is found when we are engaged in activities that stretch us such that the challenges match our skills. Too much challenge = anxiety. Too little = boredom. The right match? FLOW. Find it!
 
6. 2-Minute Meditations. Meditation is huge. I meditate every single day because it's changed my whole life. You don’t need to be a levitating monk in the Himalayas to experience significant benefits. Even just a couple minutes a day keeps the gremlins away.
 
7. Five Gratitudes. As Neil says, “If you can be happy with the simple things, then it will be simple to be happy.” Find things to be grateful for and focus on them often. What are YOU grateful for today?

Thanks Brian. That's awesome!

I'm loving the 20 minute replay. It's like mainlining joy !

Which ones are you going to try today ?

xox, Sonia

Aren’t those tips amazing? If you’d like more info on Sonia Sommer and what she offers, check out her website at www.soniasommer.com.

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Dreams for 2018

Yesterday I received Sonia Sommer’s weekly email newsletter; in it, she called this week between Christmas and New Year’s the “bridge between years.” What a lovely idea. It does feel like that—neither here nor there, a sort of limbo between past and future. It’s a time for rest and reflection—which is good, because that’s all I feel like doing! I don’t know how your year was, but mine felt astonishingly busy. And while much of the work was enjoyable and fulfilling, it still has left me a little worn out and in need of a break. And after baking, cooking, and cleaning my way through Christmas, I am really ready for some good, old-fashioned lying around! I spent Tuesday curled up with hot tea and a novel. Ahhh!

I’d like more of that all throughout 2018. I’ve been so productive over the past few years; I’d like to lie fallow for a while. I have a huge stack of amazing books I’ve been gathering, and I want to read them—and truly take the time to absorb their messages. I want to read, and think, and write just for myself. I want time to be fully present with my husband and son. Instead of rushing through my days, I want to move intentionally, with calm purpose. I want a more creative year in terms of having fun, making art, and creating just for creating’s sake. I want to play more and be more free. I want to travel and explore, learning and growing through new experiences.

2018 feels momentous to me—like it will be a really fun year of change from the ordinary routine. Yes, please! I’ve been such a good, hardworking, business-before-pleasure kind of girl. I’m ready to let loose a little! Or perhaps a lot—who knows?

I feel like this book I’ve been reading, The Lotus and the Lily, and the process it is guiding me through will help facilitate that (see previous post, “Forgiveness Is the Cash”). In a few days I will make an Intention Mandala, setting down my dreams for the new year. This book has led me on a fascinating mental journey over the past several weeks. I actually can’t wait to finish it so I can re-read everything and cement all the concepts in my head.

I’m ready to leave behind all my old baggage and step lightly and joyfully into 2018. How about you? What sort of dreams are you dreaming? I hope that you get everything you wish for and more! Happy New Year!

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Lighthouses: People + Books That Have Lit the Way for Me (Part 1)

When I began this quest for joy, I wandered all over the map, metaphorically speaking. At first I was stumbling along in the dark, but the books, classes, and coaches I’ve found as I searched have lit up the path like little lighthouses guiding me forward. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

(This is Part 1 of the book list, because if I tried to list each one that I’ve read and loved, we’d be here all day.)

Books

“Wherever You Go, There You Are,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn: the first book I remember reading on this path. It introduced me to the concept of mindfulness, which was radical to me at the time. Very gentle and straightforward.

“The Joy Diet,” Martha Beck: such simple, clear instructions for finding joy—and lots of great humor, too.

“Expecting Adam,” Martha Beck: the magic!! Oh, the magic. And the love.

Actually, you know what, I should just put “Everything ever written by Martha Beck,” including all of her columns in “O” magazine! They each have had a real impact on me. Other books are: “Finding Your Own North Star,” “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World,” “Steering by Starlight,” “Leaving the Saints,” and “Diana, Herself.”

“Loving What Is,” Byron Katie: Man, she’s tough. And so right: “It’s not the problem that causes our suffering, it’s our thinking about the problem.” This is a book I need to read over and over, because “The Work” really does work, but I have trouble consistently practicing it.

“The Gifts of Imperfection,” Brené Brown: I love me some Brené Brown! She is so smart and funny. If you haven’t watched her TED talk on vulnerability, do it now! As a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist, I really appreciated this book’s advice about owning and embracing who we are.

“The Power of Now,” Eckhart Tolle: I’m still working my way through this one. Brilliantly simple yet also kind of a lot to wrap your mind around. Hmmm … funny I wrote that, seeing as how the whole premise is that you are not your mind; you can only connect with your true nature when your mind is still. See what I mean?

“The Untethered Soul,” Michael A. Singer: I read this just before I started “The Power of Now,” and it was an excellent introduction to the concept Tolle expounds upon. It’s very easy to read and presents the idea that we are not our minds clearly and concisely. It also presents some fascinating thoughts on opening your heart, energy, nonresistance, etc.

“Eat, Pray, Love” and “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” Elizabeth Gilbert: The first book inspired me to live my life more fully and the second inspired me to be more creative. Her concept that ideas come to you, and if you don’t want to or can’t bring them to life, they move on to someone else—and the story she tells about her personal experience with that—wow!! It will definitely motivate you to take action! Her practical advice is wonderful, and her honesty and compassion shine off of every page.

 “A Gift from the Sea,” Anne Morrow Lindbergh: I first read this as a young girl, and was struck by the beauty of the writing. I’ve re-read it countless times, and each time something new speaks to me. It’s like a little handbook for living. She compares the phases of a woman’s life to different seashells, and she’s just spot on with every observation.

People

Carla Robertson: Carla is a life coach who specializes in nature-based coaching. I discovered her as a fellow participant in an online class several years ago. When I went to her website (www.livingwildandprecious.com), I immediately connected with a tagline that was on there at the time: “Less worry, more wonder.” Yes!  I had a magical weekend retreat with her and several other women in St. Francisville, LA a few years ago, where I discovered quite a few things about myself. She has also helped me cut to the core of some practical issues and figure out a way to handle them.  Her blog is very insightful, and her Instagram feed is beautiful—so many tiny miracles in nature!

Sonia Sommer: Sonia is a Master Healer who, as she puts it on her website (www.soniasommer.com) “bridges the gap between woo woo and doable.” She combines physical, mental, and spiritual tools to help people feel their best in all of those aspects. Her Feel Awesome Again online course taught me all sorts of techniques I’d never heard of before—and they really worked. Her newsletters are full of helpful ideas and fascinating exercises. She has some great tip-filled videos, made even better by her wonderful Australian accent!

Anna Kunnecke: Anna is a life coach who helps women “declare dominion over their gorgeous lives” (www.declaredominion.com). I’ve taken several of her courses and subscribe to her weekly newsletter. She has excellent practical advice about how to improve your life by getting organized, adding beauty and bliss to your day, and making wise decisions. Also, as a “heathen mystic,” she can teach you how to protect your tender parts. Her guidance on how to be an EFBA (Epic Fucking Badass) is just awesome.

Martha Beck: As you’ve probably guessed by now, I really, really like Martha Beck (www.marthabeck.com). Her books opened the door for me into the world I’m now exploring, and the teleclasses I’ve taken have been transformative.  She combines clarity and integrity with extraordinary compassion and snort-milk-up-your-nose humor. Just listening to her talk soothes my soul, and when I actually implement her advice—wow. Life-changing.

Koelle Simpson: Koelle is a life coach and “horse whisperer” who offers Equus Coaching®: “a unique experience with horses that offers an individual the opportunity to gain a visceral understanding of how their inner dialogue affects their relationships and everyday life.” (www.koelleinstitute.com) I haven’t had a chance to work with her yet, but attending one of her Equus workshops is one of the top items on my wish list. For now, I just enjoy reading her newsletter, but she is up ahead on the path, giving me something to look forward to!

I highly recommend all of these people and books. I hope that one or more of them will help light your way, too.