Are You Acting Like a Victim?

I recently heard that when we complain about anything, we immediately assume the role of
victim. Instead, our choices are to either leave, implement change, or accept. For example,
let’s look at something as ever-present as the weather. Imagine it’s raining and you had
hoped for a sunny day because you wanted to do something outside. Here are your choices:

  • Change your location to somewhere it’s not raining – this might mean a drive of a
    couple of hours. Weather patterns can be pretty unusual and it might not be too far
    away that the sun is shining.
  • Put on your raincoat, galoshes, and get an umbrella and head out into the rain.
    Unless it’s thundering and lightning, it might be fun strolling in the rain
    and splashing in puddles
  • Realize that your trip to the beach or your picnic in the meadow isn’t going to
    happen today. It might be a better day to see the exhibit at the museum you’ve been
    reading about.

Whatever it takes, avoid being a victim. That’s just no fun.

Doing

“Doing is a quantum leap from imagining.” Barbara Sher

I received this quote earlier this week in an e-mail and I just loved it.
As women of a certain age we start to wonder what our lives can look
like. For some of us, it might be the first time in a long time that
we have this luxury. For many years we might have simply fallen into
our roles as daughter, wife, mother, or sister. There was often
someone else defining our existence and often that was just fine — but
not always. Now, especially if we have had children and they are on
their own or we were married and that isn’t part of our life anymore
through death or divorce or we have been “orphaned” as our parents
have passed on, now we have a new opportunity to imagine what our
lives can hold.

Bust a Gut!

“Bust a gut.  A little laughter, daily, raises
the number of natural killer cells and
interferon.” – JJ Virgin, Nutritionist

Have you ever not felt good after laughing at
something or with someone? It really does have
beneficial effects that have even been
scientifically proven.  So, what’s stopping you
from laughing today? What can you do about your
laughter deficiency (if you have one)? Contact me
if you’d like a couple of ideas …
Barbara@GetYourLaughBack.com

Are You Frowning In Your Mirror?

Someone once said, “Life is like a mirror; if you
frown at it, it frowns back.  If you smile at it,
it returns the greeting.”  Is life frowning at you
or smiling?  Can you accept that you might have
started either the downward or upward curve?
That’s not a reason to bonk youself over the head
and pout in the corner – NO!  That’s good news
because if there are more frowns in your life
right now than smiles, you can do something about
it.  Figure out what it will take to lighten up a
bit and then, go about your business creating more
smiles. Enjoy what happens next!

Are You a Procrastinator?

“When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.”

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” Spanish Proverb

We’ve all done it. Sometimes we do it so often we lose track of our original intention or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’ “. It’s been said that procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Yet, we put off ‘til tomorrow, or the next day, or next week … what we could do today. What are we thinking? Probably there is some sense that we really aren’t up to the task at hand. We’re worried that the job is too big or overwhelming. We think that if we just put it off, we can forget about it for a while and ease the pressure.

In reality, we make it worse.
“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” William James. What we are delaying takes on a life of its own. Even when we think we are ignoring it, it lurks somewhere in our psyche and colors our day.

I speak from experience. Even when I make a “to-do” list and put something really important that I’ve put off right at the top, it often ends up on the bottom and slips into the next day – sometimes for days on end.

When I notice what I’m doing I usually beat myself up about it … and, continue to avoid taking the action necessary. However, if I stop, take a moment to examine or analyze what I’m doing, I gain a new perspective on the situation. Usually I realize that fear is playing a big part in not following through. By addressing that fear I often find out that it’s mostly unfounded and generally made up in my head. This allows me to move forward.

Even better, if I go through that process with someone, it goes much faster, resolves more quickly, and I feel supported. When I work with a participant in my programs the same is true – change takes place more easily when we don’t do it alone. There is a saying, “Inspiration without action is merely entertainment”. If you are struggling or even procrastinating, contact me for a Breakthrough Session – Barbara@GetYourLaughBack.com. I would love to hear from you! And, whatever you do, do not put it off – seize the first chance you get to laugh!

50 Shades of Sassy After 50

50 Shades of Sassy (after 50)
1. Sleep enough
2. Talk about things that bother you with the appropriate person, then let them go
3. Stay in the moment or, at least, keep coming back to it
4. Always have fresh flowers somewhere in your home
5. Eat fresh, unprocessed food
6. Stand up straight
7. Walk on the sunny side of the street
8. Take Easy Street whenever possible
9. Spend time outdoors
10. Buy some sexy underwear
11. Read something funny
12. Rent a limo for a few hours
13. Put high-thread count sheets (in a yummy color) on your bed
14. Turn off the TV
15. Invite a good friend to go with you to a funny movie
16. Avoid energy vampires
17. Giggle
18. Clean out your underwear drawer and throw away any granny panties
19. Take a nap
20. Smile at a stranger
21. Leave an extra big tip for a deserving server
22. Do something kind, anonymously
23. Be
24. Practice saying NO
25. Practice saying YES
26. Know the difference between NO and YES
27. Skip
28. Suddenly, bust out a dance move
29. Get in touch with your desires
30. Try on outrageous shoes
31. Take a yoga class
32. Discover your favorite way to MOVE
33. Try a new food
34. BREATHE
35. Drink water
36. Schedule your priorities
37. Remember that everything is a choice
38. Assume personal responsibility
39. Stay in touch with friends
40. Push your personal envelope
41. Focus on love
42. Create an adventure and do it
43. See how many times you can smile and laugh during the day
44. Expect things to get better
45. Practice resilience
46. Keep your self-talk positive
47. Appreciate everything
48. Prime your brain with affirmative messages
49. Keep a gratitude list
50. Practice Profound Self-Care
51. Remember, pleasure is a nutrient
52. Don’t whine
53. Start your day centered (meditate)
54. Aspire and then, Inspire
55. Flirt

(I couldn’t think of just 50 that I loved – so I gave you a bonus 5 – because I LOVE giving you extras.)

Meditation – It’s Not What You Think

For many, the word meditation conjures up an image of mystery and the unknown.  I would like to demystify it for anyone and everyone – in fact, I like to think of myself as the Meditation Maven.  Simply put, it’s a way to find our way back to ourselves.  For me, it’s the ultimate means of getting in touch with my whole, sexy self.  If we are looking to live our lives more fully, we have to be able to show up for them.

Ask anyone what they think or know about meditation and usually, they will mention something mysterious about it.  My goal is to demystify meditation for the masses.  Anyone can meditate and it can be done in nearly any position at any time.  In fact, after developing a practice, nearly everything becomes a meditation or could be.

While there are probably different styles that would all fall under the heading of meditation, I generally teach and practice Insight or Mindful or Vipassana meditation.  These are all basically the same and generally believed to be the technique Gautama the Buddha taught over 2500 years ago.  For me, this is a very straightforward way to meditate with absolutely no religious connotation.  It should be noted that Buddha would probably not have approved of Buddhism.  He was adamant that what he taught was a universal “way of living” and that it was compatible with any traditions or rituals.

Why meditate?  I see it as a way to develop a steady, resilient core that allows us strength in any situation.  Like the bamboo tree, we learn to be flexible yet steadfast.  When we are building our physical core in order to have a healthy body we learn to repeat certain exercises and also to balance rest with activity.  In the same way, our minds can be trained and we need to respect their need to recuperate and be restored, too.  If we ran until we could run no further due to exhaustion it would be normal for us to rest, either by lying down or at least, sitting down and we would not move until we felt able again.  It is the same with our minds.  We work them all day long, sometimes putting them through grueling exercises and often not allowing for any rest.  Then, we wonder why we don’t feel as sharp, why our minds seem to be out of control, racing around yet not being effectual.  We become forgetful, can’t seem to reason well, and so on.  Our minds need to rest up and recover just like our bodies.

At this point, you may be asking yourself why you can’t simply sleep at night or take a nap and rest your mind.  The simple answer is that, of course, you can.  If a person could get enough, good-quality sleep, they could probably function quite well.  Unfortunately, many people have trouble in that area and sometimes it’s because they simply can’t quiet the mind enough.

Meditation helps us instill discipline into our mental ability.  Without it, we are like the untrained puppy – jumping on the furniture, misbehaving, acting out, and trying to figure out what’s right and wrong – metaphorically speaking.  Most people tell me that they can’t meditate because their mind jumps around all over the place.  We usually call this monkey mind.  It swings from idea to idea, never really staying very long in one place, easily distracted, and constantly chattering.  This is the nature of the mind without guidance.

If we chastise ourselves for this unruly thinking it is the same as scolding or even beating an animal into submission.  While the critter may seem to “behave”, there will be great resentment and a sense of waiting to rebel.  So in meditation, we need to come to it with love, courage, and deep compassion for ourselves.  Rather than saying to oneself when catching the mind off on a tangent, “Oh, I can’t do this.  I’m a failure.  My stupid mind/thoughts are all over the place AGAIN,” I recommend first realizing that you have actually noticed that your mind is wandering.  This is the introduction to awareness.  Then, I find that a helpful phrase is, “Isn’t that interesting”.  It implies neither good nor bad and sets us on a less judgmental course.

So, meditation can help quiet the mind AND there are some other bonuses.  These can be explained through a brief course in brainwaves (measurable brain activity) – Brainwaves 101:

  • Beta brainwaves (fast moving) are associated with active, awake awareness.  If we get involved in too much beta-thinking it can be exhausting and it may contribute to increased muscle tension and blood pressure.
  • Alpha brainwaves show up during resting time and the beginning of sleep cycles.  They are slower than betas.
  • Delta brainwaves have the slowest frequency and appear in our deep, dreamless sleep.
  • Theta brainwaves are slower than alpha but a little faster than delta.  They are present when a person is in a deeply relaxed state, yet the mind is alert.  Theta waves are usually linked with a positive mental state.
  • Finally, there are Gamma brainwaves that are fastest of all, generally weak and hard to see on an EEG and considered an indicator of intensely focused thought.

During meditation there is a combination of alpha and theta brainwaves.  What this means is that while the meditator becomes relaxed and the metabolic rate slows down along with the heart and respiration rates, the mind actually stays awake and alert.  The experience is one of calm awareness, which is quite different from “monkey mind”.    And where do the gamma brainwaves fit in?  Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin has been conducting studies for the past several years where Tibetan monks have had their brainwaves measured during meditation.  Not only do the alpha and theta waves show up, but also gamma waves are prevalent.  Additionally, a synchronicity between right and left brain waves is apparent which strays from the usual way that right and left brain wave patterns rise and fall independently of each other.   Simply put, meditation lowers the body’s energy demand, helps induce a feeling of relaxation, and promotes clear thinking.

The Buddha taught that much of our suffering was caused by cravings and aversions.  These are the stories we keep going in our minds – how much we like or dislike something, someone, someplace.  When we reach a space where we feel equanimity we are able to simply be with what is.  Does this mean that we become zombie-like?  Not at all.  In fact, when we are really able to be present much of the time, we feel very deeply.  This is another important part of meditation.  Staying in the moment.  This is where we do our authentic living.  We have become accustomed to going over the past again and again.  Or, we are trying to figure out the future.  Both of these are futile exercises leaving us frustrated or worse.  The practice of meditation brings us into the present, which is manageable.

How do we meditate?  Very simply, actually, yet not so easily.  We learn how to be in the moment by connecting with our breathing and sensations in our bodies.

I usually start clients with a body scan.  So many people have lost touch with their bodies.  This exercise usually takes at least 20 minutes and can last almost an hour.  Beginning with either the feet or head, a person is guided through the body and encouraged to feel each part, noticing any sensations or lack of, along the way.  It is sometimes the first opportunity a person has to realize how challenging it might be to stay in the present moment and as they notice that they may also experience frustration.  This can be a wonderful thing because they might also get to observe where in their body the frustration manifests itself – for example, a feeling in the pit of the stomach, tightness in the chest, etc.

When we move to focusing on the breath I have people watch their breathing, without judging whether it’s too fast, slow, deep, or shallow.  Then, we take some deliberately controlled breaths in and out, and finally move on to simply connecting with the breath by focusing on it and noticing when we have become distracted.  The idea is not to block out everything else, but to eventually feel like we are in choiceless awareness.  We are awake, alert, and we do not allow our minds to take us on elaborate stories and fantasies.  Instead of practicing letting go, we work on letting things be.

 

With practice, we develop the ability to drop down into our centeredness with ease and grace and we develop a practice through practice.

Below is a list of some of my favorite books, in no particular order.  While I love them, I usually need to remind myself that this is not an academic exercise.  With meditation, I am well aware that I teach what I need to learn or at least, constantly reinforce.

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Art of Living, Vipassana Meditation by S.N.Goenka

The Art of Meditation by Joel S. Goldsmith

Going on Being by Mark Epstein, MD

Mindfulness in Plain English by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana

Meditation for Busy People by Dawn Groves

 

Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche

 

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

I’m All Shook Up….

“We must wait for the water to settle; then, it
will be clear. Can you keep still until what is
needed becomes clear?” – Lao Tzu

Picture yourself in a situation that shook you up
either a little or a lot.  It could have been
something very personal, world-wide, or somewhere
in between.  Can you recall how you felt – palms
sweating, stomach churning, a sinking feeling in
the pit of your stomach?  How about your thinking
process?  Jumbled thoughts, half-formed sentences?
Sometimes we need to react quickly to take care of
the immediate problem.  What happens though is
that we continue to react instead of letting the
dust settle and then figuring out the best next
step.  Life is easier, with fewer regrets, less
fence-mending if we can just wait for a little
more clarity.  Everyone benefits and is happier.

Why Aren’t You Always Funny, Barbara?

Q: “Why aren’t the tips for Get Your Laugh
Back always funny?”

A:  Getting your laugh back isn’t so much about
being funny and turning comedian (although, your
inner Rita Rudman-I was going to have cosmetic
surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office
was full of portraits by Picasso/David
Letterman-USA Today has come out with a new
survey. Apparently, three out of every 4 people
make up 75% of the population might emerge from
time to time) – it’s more about feeling good
enough to see the humor (and, maybe even the
irony) in almost anything, even the challenging
stuff.  It’s about treating ourselves in such a
loving, special way that the world around us seems
to improve – and, indeed, it actually does.  And,
it’s so much more … feel free to contact me to
continue this discussion. Q: “Why aren’t the weekly tips for Get Your Laugh
Back always funny?”

A:  Getting your laugh back isn’t so much about
being funny and turning comedian (although, your
inner Rita Rudman-I was going to have cosmetic
surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office
was full of portraits by Picasso/David
Letterman-USA Today has come out with a new
survey. Apparently, three out of every 4 people
make up 75% of the population might emerge from
time to time) – it’s more about feeling good
enough to see the humor (and, maybe even the
irony) in almost anything, even the challenging
stuff.  It’s about treating ourselves in such a
loving, special way that the world around us seems
to improve – and, indeed, it actually does.  And,
it’s so much more … feel free to contact me to
continue this discussion.

Put your brain on an amusement diet…

What are you feeding your brain?  Are you constantly sending it negative distress signals?  This might take the form of continuously going
over something that didn’t go so well for you or repeating something disturbing you heard again and again in your mind.  There is good news — our brain reacts only to what we feed it, so change that tape in your head.  Replace it with a really pleasant memory or create some new, happy thoughts
and experiences.  Put your brain on a healthy diet of amusement.

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