BE PLAYFUL—20 QUESTIONS FOR JOY

Being playful requires that you don’t take your Self so seriously. Set an intention for joy in your life. Joy comes from your heart. Happiness is fleeting—it is of the moment and in the experience. Joy remains and sustains. It is a vibration, a resonance.

To Be Or Not To Be Is Not The Question, To Be is All! —Wei Chen, Ancient Chinese Poet

See the humor in your life. Give your Self permission to laugh. Feel your experience of your own laughter. Get to the heart of the matter of what matters to the heart. When you are living from your heart, you have a resonance that attracts your desires. Love your self unconditionally. Enjoy your self. Then see the world around you share your joy.

Start in your heart.

Quench your thirst for joy to the bone. Embrace your funny “bone” … the body remembers everything. Unresolved emotional issues cause chaos in your body. Emotional trauma gets stuck in the body and manifests as discomfort or disease. Get to the core of when the event happened leading to the diagnosis. Stop recreating the past. Go back, observe the event objectively —recall it without re-experiencing the pain—and choose to let go of the belief system erroneously embraced. Give it new meaning. Reframe it.

Ask supportive questions.

Consider you questions carefully. Ask with your heart and in a way that reveals productive answers. Seek and ye shall find.

  1. “What feels joyful in this experience?”
  2. “What is my biggest dream?”
  3. “When did I last laugh out loud?”
  4. “What am I grateful for?”
  5. “ Which are my most memorable moments?
  6. “What fills me with joy?”
  7. “Where is the joy in this moment?”
  8. “How can I choreograph a life of joy?
  9. “What inspires me here, now?”
  10. “Am I smiling?”
  11. “Why am I so lucky?”
  12. “How did I create these awesome opportunities?”
  13. “What limiting beliefs can I let go?”
  14. “What supportive habits shall I cultivate?”
  15. “How will I make my life more meaningful, today?”
  16. “How shall I change someone’s life for the better today?”
  17. “Who shall I spend time with today?”
  18. “What is one thing I’ll do differently today?”
  19. “What is life calling of me?”
  20. “When all is said and done, will I have done more than I’ve said?”

Get out of your head and into your heart. Ask clear questions. Your mind will seek answers to anything you ask. Be wise in your queery. Only ask what you desire having answered (instead of “how did I mess up so badly” ask “how did I make this work out well?”).

Question everything without judgment. Question your Self. Continue to question. Everything…

The answers are there, inside of you. Listen with your joy filled heart!

Share Heart-to-Heart Hugs

Around the world, humans are hugging loved ones liver to liver. Instead, let’s embrace heart to heart! Here is the technique. It has long been forgotten, and we are working to remind the world of heart-to-heart hugs.

HOW TO HUG HEART TO HEART

Happy mother embracing and kissing her sonLean to the right. Bring together left shoulders to come together heart-to-heart, embrace one another, and share heart energy (add a kiss if you desire). When we hug heart to heart, our energy fields expand together.

Lead by raising your left arm and dipping your right arm. What happens when
you do this? In this time of creating a habit with the heart-to-heart hug, the other person may get thrown off balance, take a miss step, or stop in their tracks and beseech you with an inquisitive look.

If this happens, take a moment and explain that “this is a Heart-to-Heart Hug.”

njabuls-heart-to-heart-slowdanceLike a dance, this hug is choreographed by leading with left arm raised, taking a slight dip to the right, and embracing so that our hearts physically connect, sharing heart feelings; love, compassion, empathy.

SHARE HEART ENERGY—NOT LIVER ENERGY

This is a shift from our current habit of hugging with our right shoulders coming together. In this embrace we share the energy of our livers where our emotions of anger, resentment, and trauma are stored. No thank you!

Instead, let us come together in heartness, heart to heart. Connect and share appreciation with each other—hugging stimulates your nervous system, decreases loneliness, combats fear, increases self-esteem, defuses tension.

Open your heart to give and to receive. Linger in the embrace. Go through the moment of discomfort and allow your self to relax. Take a breath. Feel the gentle drumming of two hearts in a chord of accord.

HUG YOUR WAY HEALTHY

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” — Virginia Satir

A hug has an almost immediate impact on health, lowering heart rate and inducing a calming effect while also leading to an improved mood! Hugging is as beneficial for the person giving the hug as for the person receiving the hug due to the reciprocal nature of touch.

Your body produces oxytocin in response to physical touch. The neuropeptide oxytocin, released by your pituitary gland, is a naturally occurring hormone in your body with incredibly powerful, health-giving properties.

WRAP UP YOURSELF IN HEART TO HEART HUGS

So, hugging is an incredible way to bond with others and to boost physical, and emotional, health. Make an effort to hug the people close to you and get hugs in return! Make every hug a hearty heart-to-heart hug.

Managing Stress & Making It Work

Seven No-Cost Stress Busters That Are Worth Your Time

It is saddening that many feel the need to trip out on drugs in order to “cope” with the stress of their day. One single mom defended that spending her last $10 on her fix was important to give her a break from the stress of not being able to make ends meet, to feed her children and take care of them.

Oh, dear, perhaps your choices are leading to your inability to feed your children—$10 can buy a loaf of bead and a jar of peanut butter, and a jug of milk. That’s many meals …

The need to rejuvenate is fully understood. And supported. However, when you look at your options and your resources, there are choices that would serve you better. Spend the money on food to feed your self and your family. And spend some time to refresh your soul. Here are seven of the many ways one can “escape” with a little time, and no money at all.

MOVE. Get in motion. Go for a walk. Dance in your room. Stretch or strike a yoga pose. March in place. Do jumping jacks! This will elevate your mood and help your health. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. They interact with receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain. This is a key benefit of regular physical activity. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. That feeling is often accompanied by a bright outlook on life. Exercise also leads to improved self-esteem.

MIX IT UP. Get a new perspective. Rearrange your habits. Take a different route on errands. Straighten your closet or your room. Step back and ponder the patterns of your life—the daily routines that shape your existence. How could you tweak your routine to make your day more pleasant? A simple adjustment in a daily regimen can make a huge difference in your happiness.

MASTURBATE. Give yourself a hand. Love you. Escape in a moment of personal pleasure. When just thinking about sex, the brain releases dopamine, giving us a sense of pleasure. As we engage in sexual activity, endorphins are released, providing a sense of well-being. Learn to love yourself and you will be more open to love from others.

MAKE SOMETHING. Create a poem. Hum a new tune. Draw a picture of a daydream. Enjoy the journey as you manifest anew. Activities that put you into the “zone” slow your brain waves and stop the constant mind chatter. Whether it is cooking, painting, writing, sewing, gardening, photography, or working with clay, do something imaginative. Let it inspire you and lift your mood.

MEDITATE. Stop. Breathe. Ponder. Pray. And find a supportive mantra to repeat so you have this peace any time of the day. You can repeat a simple, neutral sound such as AUM for several minutes—or use a word or phrase with meaning to you (this can have stronger psychological impact). Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Ponder or say your word or phrase silently as you breathe out. When stray thoughts come by, gently release them. Continue focus on your mantra. Do this exercise for 10 to 15 minutes each day. Mindful self-compassion can relieve anxiety under conditions of chronic psychological pressure.

MELT DOWN. Cry. It can be therapeutic. It is one of the most cleansing experiences you can experience. Deep sobs open your chest and your diaphragm. This releases bound-up energy and helps to free your heart of muscular tension. A good cry will enhance oxygen delivery to your cells. And, crying stimulates release of neuro-chemicals in the brain that promote relaxation. Tears are also considered to be healing—evidence suggest that the nerve growth factor in tears has medicinal functions. In any case, a good cry feels like relief.

MEET UP. Get together with a friend. Swap stories. Laugh. Cry. Communicate your way to a brighter mood through connection. When we feel connected to another, we feel more calm. When a friend expresses support, sympathy, and compassion for your difficult situation, it reduces anxiety. This act of kindness goes a long way to relieve tension and provide a sense of comfort.

There are many more possibilities. Make time for yourself every day. Take a break from the info-stream and the constant press of info. Step back and look at the opportunities to serve your highest and best. Please share how you cope, productively, in times of stress.

 

A Moving Experience

tableware-555203_960_720The commitment of moving in with your significant other is fun—like breakfast in bed, housewarming parties, or decorating together. It’s a big step for your relationship; also for your stuff. Sort out things beforehand for a smooth move.

First, build a strong foundation for your finances. Financial aspects of your new life together can affect everything from rent or mortgage payments to grocery expenses. Create a plan to manage your debt, expenses, and credit. Then outline living arrangements such as chores. Take these steps to get a handle on matters and smooth out details ahead of time, so you’ll avoid disagreements and hard feelings later.

BUDGET Disclose your gross income and your liabilities, and what you afford for household expenses. Then outline the budget for your combined monthly living expenses. Include these items.

  • Rent (or down payment and mortgage)
  • Utilities- Gas, Electric, Water, Cable, Network
  • Household Insurance
  • Food and Supplies
  • Miscellany – including saving for repair, lean times*
  • Entertainment – hosting a party, decorating

Also figure out when your monthly bills are due to avoid late payments. Track your spending as a couple (apps and online programs can link to your bank and savings accounts, as well as sync yours and your partner’s app accounts for these). Stay aligned with your financial commitments and goals.

ACCOUNT Open a joint checking account, and an attached joint savings account. Savings* is where you keep a minimum of $1000 and aim to have enough money to cover 3-6 months of expenses should an emergency strike. Commit to ante up for share of bills on a certain date monthly or weekly (if one of you brings home a significantly larger paycheck than the other, you might choose to divvy up the responsibility differently).

Maintain separate accounts for personal savings, investments, clothing, cellphone, medical, treating one another, dates, and etc.

CHORES Outline chores. Split them. Be flexible.

ROLES Define roles will each of you play in running the household. If you rent an apartment, both partners should put their names on the lease. If one of you is renting and the other is the owner, clarify responsibilities of landlord and tenant.

STUFF Living together likely means you won’t be able to keep all the stuff you both have so take time together to choose what stays and what goes. Invest in a storage space for personal items that don’t fit in but you desire keeping.
Rearrange your space together.

  • Keep track of furniture and household goods ownership for.
  • For major purchases that are separate, keep them documented.
  • Make joint purchases in both names.

Remain unattached to most things. Focus on what is most essential. Be respectful of one another.

COMMUNICATE Consider how you will manage disagreements. Remain objective when discussing perspectives about spending and saving and sharing. You don’t want to resent your partner because you ended up paying for something you didn’t think was fair. Check in with one another always. Express appreciation to one another for everything.

AGREEMENT  The above outlines your agreement and reflects validation of the importance of your relationship by your willingness to put in writing your rights, responsibilities and obligations to that relationship, and to one another. Be firm and flexible as you commit to the well-being of your partner and your relationship.

Summarize how much each partner will pay for rent, who will cover what household duties, when bills are due, and other space-sharing arrangements. Revisit this agreement whenever necessary, such as when one partner’s income level changes. Revise it as you require.

Merging household and finances can be stressful. With planning and open communication, you can smooth the merger. Should moving in together expand to marriage or children, you may require taking budgeting to another level. Evaluate and re-evaluate finances as a couple under one roof as a practice that will ensure staying aligned.

Designate responsibilities to make sure that one person isn’t taking on more housework than the other. Then move on to the fun of setting up your household. Manage expectations and set up ground rules before sets you up for a smooth move.

Making Relationships Work

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. How do we honor the bonds that bind? John Gottman PhD has spent his lifetime studying marriage.  Based on his findings, he has culled seven essential keys to the success of a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.  Here are the principles espoused from:  Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

Maintain a love map. Love is in the details. Get familiar with those details. In your memory, create a detailed “love map” of relevant information about your significant other. A favorite movie, a current stress, a life dream. And share yours with them.

Foster fondness and admiration. Choose to see the best in your significant other. Embrace shortcomings with compassion. Show respect for each other. Hold a general positive view of each other.

Turn toward instead of away from one another. Relationships thrive in the day-to-day little things. Let your significant other know you value them. Show it regularly during the daily grind life. Encourage one another. Take time to listen and respond—even if it means postponing an important discussion till you can give it your attention.

Accept influence. Consider your significant other’s perspective and feelings. Make decisions together. Find the common ground. Let your partner influence you and share your influence, too. Honor and respect each other in the relationship.

Solve solvable conflicts. There are two types of problems: conflicts that can be resolved and perpetual problems that can’t. Determine which ones are which. Here are five steps for resolving conflict:

  • Start the conversation without criticism or contempt.
  • Make and receive repair attempts—actions or statements that reduce tension.
  • Soothe yourself and then your significant other. Admit when you are overwhelmed and take a 20-minute break (the time it takes for your body to calm down). When you’re calmed, offer soothing to your significant other. Ask each other what’s most comforting and do that.
  • Compromise. In conflict, always take your partner’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. Find common ground. List non-negotiable points. List what you can accept. Share these with each other. Find agreements, common goals, and feelings.
  • Be tolerant of each other’s faults. Compromise is possible when you accept your partner.

Cope with conflicts you can’t resolve. Manage perpetual problems by moving from gridlock to dialogue. Usually gridlock is due to unfulfilled dreams. It is a sign that life dreams aren’t being respected by each other. Realize  the importance of assisting each other in manifesting dreams. Talk through issues to build understanding.

Create shared meaning. Develop a culture with shared rituals. Appreciate your roles. Outline goals that align direction and vision. Understand what it means to be a part of the relationship.

Wow.  Think about it, this could also apply to friendships, parent-child relationships, employee relations, and etc…  some really helpful concepts.

Mindful Munching

Mindfulness is a key attribute to conscious living. One exercise that helps intensify awareness is concentration – like in this food meditation.

The idea is to slow down in order to enjoy and appreciate the food that you eat and the effort that went into creating it. Consider doing a food meditation with, say, honey roasted almonds almonds, or whatever is your favorite. Pick up a nut and really take it in—its feel, the way it smells. Now, think about the journey your morsel took from growing and harvesting and shelling and toasting to get to you at home. Let it touch your lips as you put it in your mouth and then chew it purposefully, taking in its texture and flavor. Isn’t that the best bite you ever ate? Absolute heaven!

Truly, this is food for thought… and thought for food, I guess.

From Limerence to Love

There is a psychological and physiological state that comes about when “falling in love” called limerence. You know, the initial year or so of a relationship where there is rapture and joy from infatuation.

I remember when I couldn’t eat for the flurry of butterflies, couldn’t sleep for the adrenaline rush through me, couldn’t wait to get past this nascence to the “comfy worn-in-jeans” stage when I could relax into the depth of knowing another. And, there are those times I wish to stay in the agitated state of getting-to-know-you stress.

Be the right person in your relationship—it is as important as finding the right person to be with.

Then there are explorations of power and honesty in relationships. There is a time of balancing demands of intimacy with the need to be our own solitary person. Truthful discourse, which can be very difficult, is critical to making relationships work. It takes constant awareness to reveal oneself, to allow and accept another, and to protect the confidences.

Consider this. You are the most dangerous person to your partner or to your best friend because you are the one with whom there is greatest emotional connection, because you know every vulnerability. Make the choice to protect your significant one and keep them safe. Even if you sever the relationship.

We invest our hearts in significant ones… and we strengthen our ability to love through these relationships—with friends, siblings, parents, spouses, children. Here’s to connecting.

Filling Character Cavities

Sometimes we fall… In the dark moments, we realize the cavities in our character; thus, can root them out and begin the repair. My current focus is on expressing my feelings productively. So that I learn this lesson well, I have been given the pain of betrayal, plus the sting of inequity, and the agony of abandonment. In this, I realize my vulnerability to those I love and my emotional based reactivity.

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. – William Shakespeare, 1564-1616

At times I have allowed pain-filled rage to rule me. This behavior is learned, so can be unlearned. Now to remove the blemish and replace it with strength, wisdom, consistency. I enlist all the senses to make peace with the past and overcome hurt. It is said that through adversity one finds great growth…

The wonderful thing about character is that you can build it. And it is one of the few things in life that no one will ever be able to take away from you. Your choices are your own. Here are the steps I follow to build my ability to respond rather than react—even to the deepest emotional pain.

  1. Understand the reactivity. Look at past choices, observe feelings and actions. Identify triggers.
  2. Determine values that will guide me: Self Control, Respect, Caring, Courage, Responsibility … and Wisdom.
  3. Outline a set of tools to employ when upset. Consider every productive, healthy option. Things like: observe the feeling and respond to it, take a time out, talk with a friend or counselor, journal through the pain, go for a walk, get sleep, go within, cry.
  4. Decide behavior changes to align with my desired self. Be conscious of every decision, however big or small, and how each brings me closer to being the person I wish to become.

Occasionally still, I fall, though each time not so far, not so hard. Thrive.

Manage Monkey Mind

Do your thoughts get in your own way? Those nagging thoughts based in belief or fear can hold you back from achieving your goals. Belittling or bothersome thoughts—often referred to as Monkey Mind—pop up and distract you. They can diminish focus and eat away at confidence. But here’s the thing. You have the power to tame them. Get control of your Monkey Mind in three easy steps.

  1. Recognize when Monkey Mind takes over. Notice when you doubt yourself or allow fear to derail you from pursuing the next step in your journey.
  2. Remove the interference by acknowledging the thoughts and wiping them from your mind.
  3. Reframe your thinking to work for you.

There is a site upon which I stumbled while hiking the internet—called Inner Peace. It offers free self-counseling software for creating personal serenity. Try the Monkey Mind program, even if you don’t have much time. It shows you how your negative thoughts can interfere with your progress. Plus, it shows you how easy it can be to tame your Monkey Mind and stay committed to your goals.

BREATHE AWAY STRESS

If you’re feeling stressed or a bit anxious, or if you just need a pick-me-up, consider trying the following breathing exercise; it can help bring energy and clarity to your mind.

The first time, do it for just 15 seconds, increasing the duration by five seconds every time until you can complete one full minute. Always breathe normally between exercises (and don’t do anything if it doesn’t align with your Doctor’s orders).

  • Sit upright with your back straight, eyes closed, and shoulders relaxed.
  • Place the tip of your tongue against the bony ridge behind and above your upper teeth.
  • Breathe rapidly through your nose, in and out, with your mouth slightly closed.
  • Keep your inhale and exhale short and equal. Your chest should be almost mechanical in its movements—rapid, like air is pumping through it.

Inhale and exhale three times per second, if you can, keeping your breath audible. Ideally, you will feel the muscular effects of this breathing exercise at the base of your neck (just above the collarbone) and at the diaphragm (by your tummy). Put your hands on these areas to get a sense of the movements.

Breathing is the key to releasing stress and re-energizing your body—so out with the bad air, in with the good. Inhale…Exhale…that’s it…

image: blowing kisses by sharpiechick