Stress, stress..go away.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a close friend. She and I were first roommates and then turned into friends sharing the same wavelength on philosophy, humor etc. Life took us to different cities and we both became occupied with our lives. In the past few months her work and studies demanded a lot of her time which led to us not being in touch daily. Now that you have the background, let me get to the core.

She mentioned that there was a lot of stress at work, school and personal life too (sounds familiar?). For someone who believed in planning everything in life and being calculative about each decision, she gave into the stress and booked herself an ‘escape’ trip all by herself to a city she had never been to. She told me that she had fun for two full days where she cared for nothing and splurged with abandon. While she was giving me descriptive details of all the fun she had, it also took me back to times where I had indulged in some kind of escape. It struck me that often times when we feel like breaking free and escaping from any stress we tend to choose activities like drinking, smoking, drugs, casual sex, and extreme sports. Any mood altering activity that lets us numb ourselves and the vehicle we choose is our body.

I wondered why is that in an attempt to numb the pain and to create momentary pleasure, we end up abusing our bodies. While we are engaging in these band-aid/feel good solutions, I don’t think it even occurs to us that we could perhaps be abusing ourselves.

The other question being, does this approach really work? Perhaps for a short time (if that’s the goal) and then it resurfaces the next time our emotional immunity is at a low. If only we could learn to be kinder towards ourselves, then we would think of learning different ways of coping with stress. Having said this, I know that we are not meant to be perfect and can take a fall every once in a while.

Some of my favorite coping mechanisms include talking to a friend, writing, exercising and being in nature. What are yours?

My best to you,

Pooja

Dead wild goose

My typical drive to work wasn’t as typical today. I left home knowing that I was running late ( well..coz I woke up late). I was driving on my normal route which had regular traffic as you would expect in a busy Chicago suburb. While passing through one of the intersections and singing along with the radio, I couldn’t help but notice a goose fluttering its wings by the side of the road. It was a busy intersection with an exit to an interstate. I couldn’t stop right away and drove a couple of miles while my mind was trying to reason whether or not to turn around since I was already late. My conscience won the battle since I knew I wouldn’t have been at peace knowing that I could have perhaps done something to help the innocent creature lying on the street. I turned around and prayed that I get some help if I need any. Right when I turned by the spot, another man did too. We knew why were there. Our hearts couldn’t simply pass it by. I asked him if he thought we could help the bird. He looked and said it’s probably dead and checked to confirm the same. I asked if we could just move the body to a place where it wouldn’t be hit again although it was dead. He said, he would if there was something to lift it with. I searched my car and found some papers I didn’t need. The gentleman then moved the bird and we parted ways.

If it was me alone over there, I would have simply acted out of emotion and tried to move the body with my own hands without bothering to protect myself. I wouldn’t know how to check whether or not the bird was actually dead.

What I learned here was that while we try to do a good deed, we also need to think about our safety which is easily forgotten or frowned upon several times. Also, letting your conscience take the final call is a good idea. It only hints to the notion that one is capable of compassion despite the busy mechanical lives we lead. I also knew in that moment that I perhaps did what I could and worrying about how the body will be dealt with by some landscapers working there wasn’t going to help. I prayed over it while I was with the body.

As I am getting ready to post this blog, an image of a white swan pops up on my reader. Wonder what’s that about:)

Sending my best to you,

Pooja

The Power of Suggestion – how it influences our daily living.

This morning I was reading an article where the author was discussing whether Angelina Jolie’s recent decision to undergo mastectomy was medically hexed? Reading this article by Lissa Rankin I felt inspired to write my own blogpostJ

Sitting in front the television watching commercials, all I see is the commercialization of emotions. When you make a decision to buy insurance, you are sold to the emotion of fear. When you watch a commercial of the latest anti-depressant and how it promises a better quality of life, in your mind you feel hopeful. Commercials by food giants, sell you a perceived sense of happiness when you take a bite of a certain McWrap. One of my friends who is in the field of Marketing had done research on how advertising is all about emotions. Some of her findings helped me understand why we go and buy a product after we have watched a commercial regardless of whether there is a need or not.

Having worked in a restaurant for a couple of years I have watched the owner of the restaurant ‘sell’ an entrée or two even when the guest had begun with wanting to just eat light. All he used was a suggestion that his guest may enjoy a certain combination better than the other. Now, of course there is a whole field of study called Neuro-Linguistic Programming which uses the power of suggestion to increase sales.

When a mother tells her child that she is ‘stupid’, it is a suggestion that gets implanted in the child’s mind. Alternatively, when someone is told you are told that you can do anything you ever want to..we know how that works.

power of suggestion

power of suggestion

On an individual and professional level I often recommend the use of affirmations and healing light visualizations to my friends and clients. Hypnosis as a branch of healing is very well known to utilize the power of suggestion. One of my friends who was getting frustrated with the medical system of diagnosing one piece of the puzzle at a time tried affirmations in combination with healing light visualization and is beginning to experience improvement with multiple health conditions that she is dealing with.

Hundreds of suggestions are offered to you everyday by family, friends, co-workers, media, governments, religious texts etc. Be careful what you give power to!

Hit the DELETE button

You may wonder where? I am referring to our minds and the thoughts we create:)

Similar to the manner in which we delete posts, sentences and words on facebook/twitter or word documents, we can also choose to delete the thoughts we create and do not like! This perhaps never occurs to us but it is a possibility available to us. As we assume ownership and the right to manipulate the content that we want to post, we can do the same with the thoughts in our mind.

Lets take a situation: You are driving and look at a fellow driver stranded with a flat tire. You find yourself worrying if something of this sort would happen to you. We all know when we worry and right at this point, you can choose to delete this worrisome thought and replace it with a new desirable thought. It can either be connected to the event/situation you just witnessed or a random pleasant thought that you would like to have in your headspace. Mentally visualize the thought deleted as you would on a computer screen and see it replaced with the new thought. The new thought could be a visual of you always riding smooth or you enjoying your favorite vacation.

The intention here is to not avoid unpleasant thoughts all the time but simply become aware and also know that you can change the thought because even the earlier ‘worry’ thought was created in your own mind. You are the owner and you can change it:)

The Meaning of Anxiety

All of us have felt ‘anxious’ at different points of time in our lives. We feel it as

  • restlessness: in the mind (too many thoughts), body (inability to sleep, muscle tension)
  • in the doing mode
  • feeling of being overwhelmed
  • feeling like ‘there is something still to be completed’

This is a state of dissatisfaction, unrest. One is constantly waiting to arrive and never does. Our focus is on the future and our inner peace is dependent on some future event which is yet to happen. When at its worst, you do not feel safe in your own body and have a sense of being flighty.

Santa Cruz - relaxing

Santa Cruz

 

From a psycho-spiritual perspective, anxiety arises in the consciousness when one is not true to one self. You are not all that you can be. You are compromising your needs, desires, dreams etc hoping to please everyone else and thereby find your own happiness. You are leading a life based on how someone else (person, society, religion, media) expects you to live.

At the very center of your being, this knowledge exists and surfaces in the form of anxiety. There are several ways to subside the symptoms but healing does not occur unless you work on the sources of the anxiety.

Bringing your awareness into the present moment using various relaxation/visualization techniques and mindfulness can be a good start. The feeling of ungroundedness can also be abated by connecting to earth in some way i.e. gardening, walking barefoot on earth, hugging a tree etc.  Finding the courage in accepting that you are not living your full meaningful life will need some therapeutic work.

Five stages of Grief

This video covers a portion of Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s work on grief, death and dying. The video talks about an individual’s response to death & dying.

Five stages of grief include:
1) Denial
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression
5) Acceptance

I draw from her work to support my clients through the process of grieving surrounding various life transitions.

Link

Allow yourself to grieve.

Grief is a natural response to any kind of loss. Loss of a loved one, losing your sense of identity, or even a perceived sense of loss. It is hard to lose someone who has lived and now is not around. It is sometimes harder to let go of the losses that occur during a divorce, break up, physical moving to another place etc. No loss is bigger than the other and no one’s pain is lesser than the other. Grieving is necessary to heal. Most cultures have a group ritual/ceremony around a death which brings people together for support and provide a platform to release the pain and hurt.

You can create your own ritual to help you grieve. 5 healthy ways to grieve include:
1) Writing a letter to the person mentioning everything you would have liked to say. You can even read your letter out loud.

2) Collecting pictures and making a collage in memory of the deceased person.

3) Allowing yourself to be angry if that is what you feel.

4) Lighting a candle or incense for a certain number of days in memory of the deceased.

5) Stay in silence for a few days and or scream out your pain.

You can choose to burn the letter/ pictures. You can also do a combination of the above. Just follow your heart. It is also important to understand that grieving the loss of your ‘old’ self is as valid as grieving the loss of a loved one. You know a sense of loss intuitively and do not let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Above all, seeking professional help from a compassionate individual is always an option.