Interoception vs. Exteroception

When you struggle with mental health, it is not something that goes away; it is not something that vanishes. It is something that can creep back in, slowly or in a straightforward trigger. A recent bout of anxiety that caught me off guard taught me that. One of the lessons in the shadows of that moment was the concept of interoception and exteroception. To truly understand or embody ideas sometimes we have to experience them, more on that later.


Many years ago when I was studying with Tracey Sorghrati she mentioned these concepts to me and I had no idea what they were, of course. I asked questions which she answered, but then I went on to study and learn more. During my time developing trauma awareness workshops and classes, the terms resurfaced when looking at yoga as a healing modality.

Exteroception is the sensory nerves that sense and respond to the world outside our body. Yoga can help us explore this concept through teacher verbal or physical adjustments in poses, voice or sound in cues, intonation and the words we use, also where we choose to focus our gaze on (dristi points). In our day-to-day life this can show up in relationships, or how we relate to the world outside of ourselves. It can look like people pleasing, being a yes person, or always needing external validation. During my bout with anxiety recently I learned that as much as I have worked on all of those aspects of my life, I still am strongly affected by external sources. An example we all may be able to relate to is social media. I have had so many conversations about social media and how it makes people feel, how it can lead to external sources of validation, or even not feeling adequate. I also started to notice that even something as nourishing as self-care has become an external thing, it has become something to place on a to-do list, book a massage, exercise, cook healthy food, for example, instead of something organic. So even during the downtime it still can be a response to the world outside of us.

Interoception, on the other hand, can be defined as stimulus coming from inside the body, the ability to feel what’s happing inside the body (Butterflies in stomach, pulse, breathing etc.). It is the ability to sense the activity of our inner self; heartbeat, stomach grumble, a muscle stretch; all give us the representation of our embodied self. Interoception can be the awareness of what’s going on within the boundaries of our skin. It is a deeper layer where we can see the material me and relates to how feelings from our bodies determine our moods, sense of wellbeing and emotions. There are three parts to this:

1. Our visceral experience,

2. Our motivation to act and

3. The effect it has on the world outside our visceral experience (mood and emotions).

Yoga is a tool we can use to explore interoception. We can direct our attention to noticing how poses feel in our body, experience our breath, use philosophy as a tool to examine our inner thoughts and emotions. In our daily life, we can look at how experiences make us feel, how we react to situations, what creates fire or drives us, versus what creates sadness and pain.


Through exploring both of these concepts in our day-to-day actions we can choose to be guided by external or internal sources, both have value. Taking the time to reflect in your day over your choices and responses can help you check in with yourself to help you connect with what is happening not only in the physical body but also the mental realm. One of the biggest lessons in my own life is that just because you love so many people or things and have lots of creative ideas doesn’t mean you have the time to do it all and to get quiet and listen to what is a top priority.

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What is Hiding in Your Cupboard?

Our household pantry can tell us so much about ourselves, like our relationship with food or our habits of shopping. No matter how organized and planned someone is the pantry an area in the home, over time, can tend to look like a junk drawer. In every home just as we would vacuum or clean our house, our pantry also needs to be cleaned out. I like to think about cleaning it out every season as a great time, because you can stock it up with stuff you will use in seasonal recipes. For example, in the winter I will make more stews and curries so I will have more beans, coconut milk, canned tomatoes and broths. In the summer my pantry is barer because I buy most of my things at markets, so I use this time to go through my baking things and kinds of pasta. Once a season plan before you go shopping for the week to clean out your pantry and get rid of the stuff you aren’t going to use.  Not only may it help you get ideas for meal planning, but also it will help you decide what you need for a grocery shop.

So what’s in your pantry? Look, we all are guilty of that extra throw in the cart at the grocery store or the latest new trendy health food or a snack we pray our kids may eat, but what happens if we forget to use it or try it and hate it? Most of us will put it back in the cupboard or tell ourselves we will try it again instead of getting rid of it or offering it to a friend. What happens then is, these sit in our cupboards until they expire (or even longer) and eventually in 4 years we throw them out. If we clean our cupboards every 3-4 months not only will we maybe try something new again we can get honest with ourselves if we will use the product. 

Another benefit to cleaning out our pantry is to see how many staples we have in our house, what we need more of and what we need less of which helps us budget better and save money!

Cleaning out a pantry can be done in 1-3 hours depending on the size. First put on some music, make this a fun experience! Make sure you have garbage bags, cleaning materials and a counter to place things. Then the real fun begins, take things out! I like to pull things out and look at the expiry date, if I will actually use it, and then create piles of things that work together, ie. Baking supplies, canned goods, snacks. Once the cupboard is bare wipe out the shelves and establish an organizing system that works for you as you place items back in. I like to have my phone handy (I use a grocery store app) and anything I am low on add to my list, or anything I have lots of, add to my meal plan for the month. 

Cleaning out your pantry is rewarding not only for your home but  it can inspire you to get back into the kitchen and create!

Karen GnatComment
The Importance of Vitamin D, Especially in the Winter Months

Sunshine on a cold winter day not only does a body good, but it feels fantastic. As a wellness practitioner who looks at the whole body, during the winter months it’s important to focus on many nutrients, but especially on Vitamin D. Most people know how vital vitamin D is and how we can get it from sunlight. However, in the colder months most of us spend so much time indoors and we don’t get the sunlight as often. I decided February would be a great time to discuss the importance of Vitamin D. So let us look at Vitamin D, what it is, how it affects our body, how our body absorbs it and how we can make sure we are getting enough. 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that absorbs through the food you eat or your skin and then through your liver and kidneys for cell growth, immune function, bone repair, and helps reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to aid in the prevention of osteoporosis, prevention and treatment of diabetes, hypertension, MS and other medical conditions. An area that is currently heavily researched is vitamin D’s role with mental illness. Researchers had recently found vitamin D receptors on cells located in regions in the brain, the same regions that link with depression. There is still not a clear picture however studies suggest it has to do with the link between Vitamin D and serotonin. It is crucial to recognize although vitamin D supplementation may improve mood, vitamin D is only a small, but critical, part of treatment for depression. Studies show that a deficiency can prolong and impair recovery. To read more about mental health and vitamin D, this is an excellent article with many reviews.

So how do we get this remarkable nutrient in our body? Through our diet and sunshine, some people can store vitamin D and never become deficient. However, many people are still low at these levels.  At this time of year I recommend all my clients get tested to see their levels (it costs $30 from your doctor), those levels are significant to look at and to know and understand. 

As a wellness practitioner, it’s important to look at the whole person. In the winter it’s important to go outside 2-4 times a week between 10-3pm for 10 minutes (without sunscreen) to get vitamin D. From there we also look at the whole body and its ability to assimilate the nutrients we take in and address this. Due to its fat-soluble nature it gets stored in our liver however if our liver, kidneys, or digestive system aren’t functioning at an optimal level, we might not even absorb all the vitamin D we do receive from the sunlight or the food we eat. There are also specific populations that are at risk for deficiencies.  Vitamin D requirements are not provided enough by human milk alone, so breastfeeding children also need to supplement with Vitamin D. Older adults are at increased risk of developing a vitamin D insufficiency in part because, as they age, skin cannot synthesize vitamin D as efficiently. As well vitamin D absorption depends on the gut’s ability to absorb dietary fat, which people with certain health conditions may struggle with (examples liver disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease, as well as ulcerative colitis). 

We have looked at digestion and access to sunlight, but we can also impact our levels by the food we eat. However, few foods naturally contain vitamin D, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, also beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese do. Most people may read this and feel conflicted about egg yolks.  Many people believe egg yolks are bad because they have cholesterol, but they also contain many other nutrients that are so good for our body. Instead of cutting out a full egg from your diet, maybe look at the other areas in your diet and lifestyle that can raise your cholesterol. It is also essential if you eat fish to include it in your meal plan at least once a week. 

Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for physical and emotional well-being. We need to make sure we spend a little time outside in the sunshine, that our digestion of fats is good, and we are eating optimally. It also doesn’t hurt to take a supplement (of course speak with your doctor as we are all unique). I love the liquid drops for my whole family. Reach out if you have any questions about Vitamin D!

Karen GnatComment
2019: My WHY

    If you have been in my yoga classes, you know I always start my class by grounding into the physical body, but also intention setting. Many of you know my personal intention/word is to pause (I will reflect on this halfway through the year) but my work intention is and has been for years, creating an understanding around philosophy and the seasons, trauma, mental health and stress.

    A few years ago I became fascinated with how our brain works; how our experiences imprint on our mind, how our brain forms habitual reactions to skills and how our brain can change through neuroplasticity. I also began to study trauma very profoundly and how it relates not only as a wellness practitioner but also as a human connecting with other humans on this planet.

    My passion has always been in mental health for personal reasons based on my upbringing, as well as for a community that I feel personally connected to and want to help. My work has led to helping people cope with the stress of our society, eating disorders as well as assisting clients privately and groups with anxiety and chronic stress.

    Throughout 2019 my vision not only for my business, but also for this blog is to look at ways that we can support our mental health even if we don’t define ourselves as having mental issues, as well as to be able to get clear on how to help those around us. So, many of my blog posts are going to be educational, as well as tips for our own day-to-day living. Many of my posts will also be about nutrition, supplements, yoga and more.

    As I always suggest, it is essential to set intentions for how we move forward with awareness and purpose. Please feel free to email/message me any of your own personal questions that I can help you with.

So grateful for my community.

 

Xo

Karen

 

Karen GnatComment
Loneliness

“We are in a spiritual crisis, and the key to building a true belonging practice is maintaining our belief in the inextricable human connection” (Brown BTW, pg. 118) 

 

Connection is something humans are hardwired for; we all long for it and need it in order to thrive. As a social species, humans rely on a safe, secure social surrounding to survive and thrive. Perceptions of social isolation, or loneliness, increase alertness for threat and heighten feelings of vulnerability while also raising the desire to reconnect.

 

Loneliness is defined as a distressing feeling that accompanies the perception that one’s social needs are not being met by the quantity or especially the quality of one’s social relationships. We have over the past few years seen an increase in loneliness which has led to many health crises, one example which will be later examined in depth is mental health. Recently Time Magazine published an entire issue dedicated to understanding mental health and even how loneliness is contributing to it. We have all been affected, I believe, by mental health directly or indirectly. In the news we hear about celebrities who are battling with mental illness, whose lives are rich in material things but yet struggle with connection. Humankind is struggling with something we can help correct by our actions.


When you study the effects of loneliness, research shows how not only is it bad for our mental health but also our physical health. We have all heard that stress is bad for us; it causes many of our modern day health concerns. We know in order to lower our stress we need to sleep more, eat better, say no, etc. But did you know when deprived of regular contact with companions, people may live in a constant state of mild stress, this constant state of stress can increase inflammation and lead to disease according to Jeppe Henriksen a researcher from Denmark.  

 

So many of us eat a specific way to decrease the inflammation in our body, but how many of us take the time to nurture ourselves with relationships that truly light us up. As much as self-care is important in terms of the food we eat, it is equally as important as the company we keep.  Loneliness is associated with a 26% jump in mortality risk, according to research from Brigham Young University that puts it on par with smoking and obesity. Loneliness puts you are risk for other conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This is just another good example of how connection is so important.

 

Who is affected by loneliness?  Studies have shown that most of us are at some point in our lives. The teenage and young adult culture, as many of the older adults remember, is a hard time, manly because of all the transitions that this time of life dictates. The movement from schools, friends, and new jobs creates between 6-12 years of constant transition, new friends, new cities and new beginnings. This can create a space for loneliness to creep in. According to the University of Pittsburgh, people between the ages of 19-32 who spend 2 or more hours on social media are twice as likely to feel isolated. As we all know social media has an impact on our culture and combined with the transitions at this time, can lead to a period of loneliness.

 

Another period in our lives according to Penn State has shown risk of loneliness. During the age of retirement, changes in lifestyle have lead to an increase of loneliness especially in a culture of big box stores take out, and online delivery. As well, most people in this age group also don’t live close to family. The rates of people without kids, spouses or family near them are on the rise.

 

Also, many of us read stories on social media of post partum depression or families suffering with mental illness. These as well put people in places of isolation and loneliness.

 

While it is good to know the statistics and studies, a question always to ask is how can we create safe connection? What does it mean to be connected? How do we connect with one another?  We are around people all day long, we ask how was the weekend, what are your plans, what’s new, how are you? But what about the real questions? How are you holding up? What lights you up?

 

This next quote will strike a cord within most when you slowly read it. “We are not good to each other. Our tribalism is to an extremely narrow group of people: our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. Our society is alienating, technical, cold, and mystifying. Our fundamental desire as human beings is to be close to others and our society does not allow for that.” Junger Pg (94)

 

What would it feel like if we connected with each other, put down our phones and practiced compassionate listening with each other?

 

“The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good” Junger pg 59

 

Connection to others is serving. It is a part of something more significant than you. It is walking into a yoga class you haven’t been to in a month, and feeling like your fellow yogi’s, without words, feel grateful you are there. It knows you are alone as no one knows what it’s like to be in your skin but also knowing everyone feels pain, anger, hurt, joy, happiness.

 

“Why are you focusing on how different you are from one another, and not on the things that unite us?” Yehuda, Junger Pg 127

 

So often we focus on what is wrong, how disconnected we are from one another and the differences between us. But what if we focused on being a human, and having a human experience?

 

So what are the practical tools we can use to connect with one another? Maybe you remember a time when your mother’s had book clubs, Tupperware parties or street parties. All of these are work however, the work never felt like work because it was in order to create a greater good, Community. In order to help our epidemic of loneliness, because that is what this is becoming, we need to create times and spaces for connection, real connection, hugs, looking at one another and practicing real true listening.

 

Mindful listening is a lost art really; it requires full attention, no phones or distractions. Look at a person, eye contact, listen fully, respond back with empathy and notice how you feel when they are speaking.

 

The epidemic of loneliness is a real thing, real studies are being conducted. If we know that all humans need connection and love, what are we doing? How are we spending our time?

 

 

Sources

Tribe, on Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger, Harper Collins, 2016

Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown, Random House, 2017

Mental Health A New Understanding, Time Magazine Special Edition, 2018

 

 

 

 

Karen GnatComment
Back to school prep

We are close to the beginning of September, which for many of us means back to school, routine, lunches and programs. All of my email and social media feeds have been filled with products and ideas for back to school. One of my favourite emails I received this week was from Lisa Borden.  It contains so much information and resources for healthy back to school tips (click here to read the post)

In our house, we like to keep it simple. Here are our top five back to school or routine tips:

Tip 1:

Make a new meal plan with fresh ideas. This can be for dinners, lunch or even snacks.

In our house, we eat seasonally not just because it tastes so much better but also because it helps to save money! So every year at this time we look at what’s in season, bring out our cookbooks, bring back old late summer favourites and get inspired for new recipes to try. By keeping your meal plan seasonal, it also helps to keep from recipes getting stale.

For kid’s lunches, you can go back to my blog from last year for a refresher but at this time of year I grab a new kids cookbook and sit down with my daughter, and we make a list of old favourites and new recipes to try. I try to make a list of 10 recipes so that it keeps her lunches fresh and exciting.

Tip 2:

Clean out the closets/lunch container cupboards.  To prep for the fall take stock of what you have and what needs to be replaced.

It can be so tempting to go shopping for back to school right now.  Kids may want new outfits and you may be tempted to buy the cutest new things. Instead of buying a bunch of clothes you don’t need or won’t use, start by cleaning up the closet. An organized closet helps so kids can get dressed quickly in mornings too (and also prevent the morning insanity). Then go out and buy the clothes you need and maybe one particular outfit for that exciting first day. 

The lunch container cupboard: Does anyone else hate the storage containers cupboard? It’s essential for lunches to make sure you have a wide variety of sizes for lunches and doubles in case something is in the dishwasher. It’s also a time to make sure you have a thermos, a clean lunch bag and water bottles (I like to have many water bottles because they tend to get lost during the school year and now is a natural time to find containers and bottles).

What are the best containers seems to be the question asked at this time of year; bento boxes, glass, stainless steel etc.? The most important thing to remember especially with young kids is can they open it and is it durable. From a health perspective, most people agree on stainless steel, while expensive is the best for health and durability. I love the ones with latches for the younger kids. Amazon and Well.ca have many options for every budget. Costco also has lots of glass containers in sizes that can work for lunches or leftovers.

DON’T FORGET WHEN GOING THROUGH CLOTHES AND CONTAINERS TO LABEL EVERYTHING!

 

Tip 3: Organize files, schoolwork, desks or school supplies and see what you need to replace.

Like spring-cleaning, this is a great time not just for kids but for adults to clean out desk drawers, file away papers and start fresh. Check supplies or pencils, if markers work etc., and make a list of staples for the whole house, printer paper, ink, pens, staples, envelopes etc. 

 

Tip 4: Look at your supplement cupboard and stock up on healthy supplements to keep your and your families’ immune system healthy during the transition to school and colder weather.

Just like cleaning out a pantry, go through your supplements and see what has expired or is running low. It's never fun once you are sick to have to make the run to the health food store or order oils at the last minute. It’s also a great time of year to look at supplements for focus, anxiety, stress and sleep (This fall I will write more on this). Last November I posted a blog for colds and flu’s read here for a refresher.

 

Tip 5: PAUSE, as it takes much planning and effort it to gear up for this time of year.

In my classes this week we looked at the pause in the breath, in life, to be present and savour the moments. This time of year has everyone feeling a sense of sadness, as we wait for summer all year and soon it will be coming to an end (remember though it doesn’t end until Sept 21 so we still have 1/3 left). Enjoy these last few weeks and moments. Hopefully, this weather will keep up until late October, so make the most of it. Plan hikes, picnics, family time and adventures with friends.

 

For more information on happy & healthy families for the fall, my colleague and I are running a workshop in September for more info click here

 

 

 

Karen GnatComment
Community

Over the past few weeks, life has thrown my routine off course and those who know me know that’s hard for me. I crave routine always.  I have been working and creating things I love and serving all those around me. I spent part of my time building a community event for my daughter's school, taught lots of classes and workshops and have been in study mode a lot (new project coming out this fall).  The theme that has emerged in my practice, life experiences and work is the value of community.

 

I have fallen into a book called Tribe by Sebastian Junger. It is an excellent book for those interested in PTSD and community. The premise of the book is that we are stronger when we come together and how our world pulls us apart. There is a theory called the self-determination theory, which holds that we need three necessary things to be content, feeling competent in what we do, feeling authentic in our lives and feeling connected to others.

 

If we look at this from a yoga perspective, feeling competent in what we do means we feel valued. Part of this value can come from feeling our work is needed. In classes I teach we look at the importance of smiling at one another, remembering to say thank you for the person who checks out your produce at the grocery store. But it can also mean feeling seen and heard and accepting that.  How often do people thank us and we are too busy to let it land and make eye contact to feel valued. Feeling competent in what you do means people are seeing you and validating you. So often in our world, we don’t do this for each other, we focus on the negative not each other's strengths.

 

Feeling authentic in our lives is a significant point for happiness. When we live and move from our place of real truth, that’s when the magic happens. To live from your real truth takes self-study and a real ability to listen to your inner knowing. It is something we cultivate or work towards. As someone who loves everything consistently moving I always have to reground every month and connect, does this feel like going through the motions or WOW that filled me up. As busy as we are these days I only want to spend my time with things that fill me up. What does it mean to live from your authentic place? That is a big question. Do we pause do we listen to how things make us feel.

 

What does it mean to be connected to others? “We are not good to each other. Our tribalism is to an extremely narrow group of people: our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. Our society is alienating, technical, cold, and mystifying. Our fundamental desire as human beings is to be close to others and our society does not allow for that.” Junger Pg (94) What would it feel like if we connected with each other, put down our phones and practiced compassionate listening with each other.

“The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good” Junger pg 59 Connection to others is serving. It is a part of something more significant than you. It is walking into a yoga class you haven’t been to in a month, and feeling like your fellow yogi’s, without words, feel grateful you are there. It knows you are alone as no one knows what its like to be in your skin but also knowing everyone feels pain, anger, hurt, joy, happiness.

 

“Why are you focusing on how different you are from one another, and not on the things that unite us?” Yehuda, Junger Pg 127

So often we focus on what is wrong, how disconnected we are from one another the differences between us. But what if we focused on being a human, and having a human experience?

 

Over the next few weeks explore as we move into a busy season or perhaps a slower one. How do we connect with the world around us? Not just our loved ones but also everyone we encounter. Do we help? Do we support? Do we love?

 

* Junger, Sebastian Tribe- On homecoming and belonging, 2016

Karen GnatComment
The issue is in our tissues

Most people who come to my yoga classes know I incorporate some philosophy into my class, which was inspired by the teachings of both Seane Corn and tracey Sorgrathi. This style of teaching for me has been a way to explore more than just the physical realm of yoga. The beauty for me in that is that I always am reading, studying and learning, but I will save that for another day.

 

Many people have heard of the idea that we hold our stuff in our physical body, for example, stress with shoulders up around your ears that gut feeling or butterflies in your belly. As a teacher and an active person my body sometimes gets cranky and over the past year or so I have been working through some hip flexor stuff on my left side. I believe strongly in self-care so I rest, use my amazing oils, and when needed go to a chiropractor, this specific one helped my wrist a few years back. She had told me to see her massage person about my hip after we had worked at it for a few weeks, I was a little skeptical because I didn’t think it was truly a muscle problem. Regardless I am always game to try something someone I trust recommends.

Now I have done Rolfing (look it up, its very cool, intense but is awesome), but this was DEEP tissue massage and muscle testing. So he poke and moved stuff and I felt stuff. Pretty cool. But what I found the most fascinating was my minds experience. My mind went crazy, in one area I had a memory, in another a thought about myself and another an amazing idea.

So why I found this fascinating, I started to notice the chakras and where the areas where. I also noticed old trauma. I study philosophy and the body a lot. I love it. I could read every day all day. However this was the pure physical experience. Now I have been in a yoga class and cried. I have been in a pose and noticed my thoughts and patterns. Now on a massage table too!

This helped me believe even stronger about the studies, research and more that its true the stuff in our body’s can be more than just our bones and muscles. It’s our outer package. It’s the layer that holds it all together. So therefore of course when we feel happiness, grief, anger, pleasure. It will leave an imprint on this layer too. So it’s important not only to move the physical body for strength and tension release but also to release our mind, our stories, the stuff in our head too.

 

But with that its also I believe so important to do this with people you feel safe with. People you can count on. Yoga, massage, even an exercise class is so much more than our physical bodies. Who can we trust? 

Karen GnatComment
Digesting Our Emotions

As the seasons change and we enter spring (finally), I like to reflect on winter. A few years ago I took and amazing course with one of my teachers Tracey Soghrati. It was her one-year journey course. Through this course I learned a lot about how the seasons are connected to Chinese medicine, chakras and more. I have been using this amazing knowledge in my own practice and teaching now for a number of years.

 

Now, entering into spring we are moving through the Chinese meridians of the liver and gallbladder.  In my classes this month we have been exploring these meridians. The gallbladder meridian emotionally speaks to making decisions. The liver meridian is about the movement through emotions like kindness, benevolence, compassion, and generosity; its darker emotions are anger, irritability, frustration, resentment, jealousy, rage, and depression. As a human being on this planet we all experience these emotions. I have learned though these feelings, sometimes it is so hard not to numb out, and there is an importance to feeling all of it, the good and the bad.

 

A few weeks ago Tracy wrote an amazing piece on the process (read here) and this linked for me the correlation of how we digest our emotions and experiences. If the liver and gallbladder help us maintain our internal homeostasis as a healthy balanced individual then I also believe it’s our ability to be able to process our emotions and experiences.  

 

One thing over the past two years I have seen and learnt is that we really do need to be present in a moment and live life daily, and not just be goal oriented. As Tracy says,  “the purpose is the process – the process is the purpose”. So it becomes more of a moment-by-moment experience and though we have our ideas, goals, wishes and dreams we take in every moment. Good or bad and process them all. Through this process we grow, shift evolve and adapt.  

 

This spring as we emerge from a dark and cold winter I wish for new growth and success for all my students, friends and family

Karen GnatComment
Words and Their Power

“Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.” #halfmoonfortunes

 

Over the past month I have been focused a lot on language and the words we use. I went to a wonderful talk by the author Caroline Myss, who spoke about the power of words and their impact.  I loved her description that words are like a wardrobe; you can decide what to say, just like what to wear.  She spoke about the power of choice in the words we use and how they can impact our experiences and perceptions of the world.  I thought a lot about this and how so many of us just speak without thinking and it reminded me of a course I took with Michael Stone.  In his course he spoke of the Buddhist precept that we need to look at the words we use, not only if they are honest, but also if they are beneficial.  Myss went on to discuss that most people’s vocabulary in their head is the worst.   In order to thrive we need to stop and pay attention to the language we are using in our own head.  Is it helpful or hurtful?  It asks the question, how do we change what the voice in our head says? In order to create change we need a practice. I often say to my yoga students, watch self-talk when you fall out of a balancing pose or when you feel you SHOULD be able to create a shape with your body. Can we learn on our mat to reframe our self-talk so that off our mat we can apply this idea? When you wake up in the morning, how do you frame it in your mind? Are you happy, excited and engaged or hurt, negative about pain, or are you angry that your kids are waking you up too early?

 

Another concept she spoke about was to stop labeling experiences before they happen. So much of the time we think we know what will happen or how something will make us feel. She encourages people, just like in yoga, that in order to be in the moment you have to let go of the language you are anticipating and actually be present with moment. When you use a word there are consequences if you use a different word there will be different consequences.

 

She gave a great list of words to never use again and one of my favorites was “TRY”.  This actually means no, you won’t can’t or don’t want to. “Do you want to come over later?” “ I’ll try my best”.  Start to notice when you use this word and how you actually feel when using it.

 

In a mindfulness course I took last year there was this great idea of pausing and minding the gap. Bringing mindfulness into speech helps to counteract the strong habits we develop that can lead to ineffective communication. Talking slower and paying attention to what our intention is, why are we saying the things we are, is the intention to create connection or separation? We need to start looking at the words we use and how so often they become habit, like I love you at the end of a phone call, or good night. Even if the word still fits in situations are we just saying them or is there a meaning behind it. Words are so powerful. As you move through your day start to notice what are your most commonly used words? Do you mean them, or is it habit? Are you forecasting, or present in the moment?

 

 

Karen GnatComment