Self-Care for Caregivers

No one wants to ignore their loved ones when they need support and it’s simply not healthy or practical to completely ignore our own needs either.
This week I worked with three different clients who are caregivers. One taking care of a spouse, another helping with her 90+ year old mother-in-law and another young person taking care of her grandmother.
All of us will be called on, at one time or another, to be a caregiver for a loved one.  This can be one of the most challenging responsibilities we ever take on.  I don’t have children, however I imagine that caring for your own children is different, although filled with it’s own challenges, than caring for a parent or spouse.
Have you been putting yourself 
at the bottom of your To Do list?
There are so many demands and details, especially when we are caring for others, that our own self-care may slide to the bottom of the list.  This often leads to exhaustion, frustration, irritation and may also lead to anger and resentment.  Ahhhh…
There are several, simple ways to stay balanced when you are caring for loved ones:
1.  Make sure you are hydrated and properly nourished.
2.  Keep a regular schedule for sleep and rest, as much as possible.
3.  Get outside to stretch and breathe – especially if you are spending time in the hospital or care center.
4.  Always allow some time to goof off with your favorite activities.
5.  Remember to ask for help whenever possible – are there other family members, neighbors, friends or church members who are willing and available to help?
6.  Find ways to exercise regularly – even getting out for a walk.
7.  Practice patience and loving kindness for yourself and others – this is so important as you are required to make important decisions for your loved one.
8.  Check in with a loving friend, counselor, coach or therapist to share your experience – you are definitely not alone.
Your daily self-care – exercise, rest, meditating, tapping and play and vitally important to your health, sanity and well being.
Always remember to include yourself on your To Do list.
Book Recommendation:
Self-Care For Caregivers by Pat Samples & Diane Larsen

Forgiveness & Letting Go of the Past

We are all affected by the world around us, as well as our own thoughts and beliefs.  Sometimes the world feels like a scary place and we are not sure how to respond or maintain our balance.
This week I want to share some thoughts on forgiveness with the hope that these suggestions will help you return to your center, open to wisdom, insight and clarity and gain peace within.
Ask For Guidance to Healing
When centering in Meditation, you might ask to be guided to a memory from the past that will assist you in your healing.  Trust where you are guided and work with that information with tapping, journaling and in forgiveness practice.
EFT tapping is very effective to help us re-imagine and heal something from the past that may still be held in our subconscious mind.
Add Forgiveness to Your Set Up Statement
I find it helpful and comforting to say “I love and accept and forgive myself” when I begin tapping with a Set Up statement.  I also find myself saying “I am open to the healing and I’m willing to let go of the past”.
What Does This Remind You Of?
When a condition or circumstance is disturbing us in the present, it can be enlightening to ask “What does this remind me of?”  “When have I felt this resentment and frustration before?”  Or “Might there be a pattern here that I might be willing to release?”.
All of these suggestions come back to our willingness to forgive ourselves and others.  When we realize that holding onto the past does not serve us, it’s time to relax, release and let it go.
Freedom To Choose
This does not mean that we passively accept behavior or circumstances that are harmful or unhealthy.  A practice of forgiveness actually frees us to choose our response – to choose how we behave in the present moment.  We are able to establish healthy boundaries and ask for what we need to feel safe.

Centering and Quieting Your Wandering Mind

I’ve had conversations with several folks recently about their challenges with quieting the mind for Meditation.  Ahhhh…
Somehow we think it will be easy to center ourselves and be quiet – resting our bodies and minds.  That is not always the case, as you may have noticed.
I’ve heard from several of my students that they are able to settle when we practice together in class or in a private session and not so much on their own.  There is a definite benefit to practicing with a group or with a teacher to guide you.  That is how I learned to meditate and that’s why I love to teach and practice with y’all.
I thought it might be helpful to remind you of the simple tools to help you with your meditation practice at home.  It’s not necessary to do all of the steps listed below – find what works well for you.
Be patient with yourself as you integrate the practice into your schedule – even for a few minutes each day – you will enjoy greater mental focus and clarity, ease, calm, peace of mind and relaxation.  Ahhhh…
The test of your success in meditation is not whether you have visions, but rather how you are changing as a person in everyday life – whether you are becoming a happier person.  The goal is to have your whole life become a meditation.
Preparing for Meditation
  • Create a comfortable and pleasant place to meditate.
  • Set aside a specific time to meditate – best times are dawn, dusk, noon and midnight – but most importantly – be consistent about when you meditate.  The best time is when you will do it!
  • Find a comfortable sitting position in a chair, on a cushion or on a meditation bench, so that your spine is long and open.
  • Relaxation – do some yoga postures or stretching exercises.
  • Say a prayer and ask for guidance and support for your practice.
  • Close your eyes and place your hands palms up on your thighs.
  • Inhale and hold your breath, tensing the entire body; then throw the breath out and relax.  Do this three times.
  • Sing a chant, such as “All is well now, all is well.”
  • Practice a measured breathing technique and finally breathe normally.
  • Practice a concentration technique, such as Hong-Sau:  As your breath flows in, mentally repeat the sound “Hong”; as your breath flows out, mentally repeat the sound “Sau.”  Let the natural flow of breath indicate the pace. Hong-Sau means “I am Spirit.”
  • Let go of all technique and simply relax in the presence.
  • Come out of meditation slowly, perhaps ending with gratitude.

The Simplest Way To Quiet Your Mind

  When my mind just won’t quiet down, I turn to humming or chanting to help relax, calm down and quiet the thoughts.
 It’s fun.  It’s comforting and healing and it works! You can simply hum for a few minutes before sitting in silence. You can chant Om. You can chant the Loving Kindness chant. You might sing your favorite song. Really, it all works. The sound and the vibration is very comforting and relaxing to the body and your mind will ease up and become quiet. Ahhhhh… When you’d like to add an additional feature to your humming, you might practice gently sending the hum down into your body. You might place one hand on your heart and one hand on your abdomen and imagine that the sound is relaxing and aligning your organs, muscles, bones and fluids.Imagine that the hum is going wherever it is needed in your body.  Be gentle.  Don’t push.  Relax and Enjoy!

Is my pain physical or emotional or both?

Is my pain physical or emotional or both?
As you continue down the path of practicing Meditation and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping to support you with your health and well being, you may have already enjoyed the amazing benefits of pain relief with this practice.
Thank goodness for EFT!  It’s simply magic.
If you have yet to try tapping or have yet to truly integrate it into your self-care, now is the time to begin.
Pain relief is one of the simplest and most effective applications for EFT.
When I first learned tapping, it was for relief of really nasty chronic back pain.  I tapped every day for two weeks and the pain was gone!  Really. It’s never come back, except briefly last summer, when I changed my exercise routine.
Yes, it scared me and I tapped and went right back to the strength training exercises that had been working for me.  Within three days, the pain was gone.  Yay!
You may also have discovered that pain is not simply physical.  Often we have strong emotions, memories and beliefs associated with the pain.
This is significant.
It can be effective to ask for clarity in your Meditation and then tap on the information that is revealed about the SADNESS, ANGER, FEAR OR FRUSTRATION that comes with the pain.
Simply say, “All this sadness”, or “All this fear”, as you tap around on the body points.
Then check in with your physical symptoms and sensations.  Most often you will gain relief, clarity and ease with the physical pain.
Remember to add CHOICE STATEMENTS to your final round as you relax and let go of the pain:
“I now choose to relax and let go.”
“I choose to accept this healing now.”
“I give thanks for the comfort and ease that I feel.”
And practice a little bit every day to really see results.
May this practice help you to be a healthier and a happier you.

A True Story of Forgiveness

A True Story of Forgiveness

When I was 17, my best friend stole my boyfriend.  Yes, it’s true!

I have been listening to the Tapping World Summit all week and during one session, I focused on healing a current relationship with a dear friend.
When I asked, as we are encouraged to do, when I’ve felt this hurt in the past, I zoomed back in the space of awareness to being 17 years old.
I was a senior in high school, having a wonderful time.  I loved school, I was dating a terrific guy – we’ll call him Mike.  My best friend – we’ll call her Jane – and I would go often to Huntington Beach and life was good.
Then, suddenly I wasn’t hearing from Jane or from Mike.  My heart was broken.  I was hurt, confused and lonely.  Didn’t celebrate my graduation or enjoy the summer with my friends.  Very painful time of my life.
When I connected with this memory, I realized that I’ve had a pattern of friends disappearing out of my life for years.  I thought this related to the loss of my relationship with my mother – and perhaps it did relate.
Now that I have clarity about this pattern and the event that may have set the pattern in motion, I can tap on the memory, forgive my former best friend and heal the pattern of loss in my life.  Ahhhh…

Bringing More Good Into Your Life

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something. For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes – they will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~ 

I still feel guilty sometimes when I take time off to relax and play …

I still feel guilty sometimes when I take time off to relax and play . . .
When I launched my photography business, 30 years ago, I didn’t have a clue about work/life balance.  Never even heard the term until years later.
I threw myself into the business and loved every minute of it.  Worked in my home office, marketing and doing paperwork, all week long, then went out to photograph weddings and families on the weekends.
And I did that for 15 years until my body gave out and I was forced to slow down.  Ahhhh…
Gradually I learned to take Fridays off and one week of vacation each year.  I still vividly remember the first time we landed in Hawaii and stepped off the plane.  Now that’s a great place to relax!
Eventually I learned that it was challenging for me to relax at home, because I worked from a home office.  I could really relax when we went to the ocean or away on a trip.
The physical and emotional collapse taught me the hard way – how to slow down and rest.  Even when I take time off to rest and play now, I still feel guilty sometimes.  As if it’s not OK to stop working.
Do you feel guilty when you relax and take time off?
Well, you are not alone.  It is scary!!
Giving yourself permission to relax takes some practice.  You may need to ease into it slowly.
*  Take part of a day off and see how that feels. 
*  Take a full day off and see how you do.
*  Schedule a weekend, without work, only fun!
*  Work your way up to a week away to relax & play.
This past holiday season I allowed myself two full weeks off from teaching and coaching and it felt great.  Big difference in my level of enjoyment and ease – instead of taking only one week off between Christmas and New Years.
Things will not fall apart while you are unplugged – I promise.  And you can always Meditate & Tap on the anxiety, guilt and doubt that you feel about not working – and let go of the worry, fear and tension.  Ahhhhh…

Overcoming Resistance to Change by Examining Your Limiting Beliefs

  “As much pain as negative beliefs can cause, we aren’t always 
taught to evaluate them.  Whether we adopted them from 
our immediate environment or they were passed down to us 
from our parents, they often appear disguised as facts.  As we get 
older we tend to settle into beliefs and think what we believe is 
just how the world is – and, more dangerously.  This is just who I am.”
 Jessica Ortner, author of The Tapping Solution for
Weight Loss & Body Confidence
    We all have stories we tell ourselves about who we are and how we are.
     What is your story?
      Do you find yourself struggling to start a new activity or continue once you’ve started?  Do you procrastinate about daily self-care and chores.
      I suggest that this is a simple and very familiar resistance to change.  We are all creatures of habit.  We have our routines.  We have our schedules.  We have our To Do lists.
     See if you can observe your inner dialog, the story you are telling yourself all day long.  Question those thoughts.  Where did they begin?  What did you decide about yourself based on your upbringing and your life experiences?
     With Meditation and Tapping practice – even just a little bit every day – you can tap while telling the story – to neutralize those thoughts and feelings and choose a new story of Health, Clarity, Connecting, Joy, Love and Abundance.
  EFT setup phrases to help you with release limiting beliefs:
   While tapping the karate chop spots on the side of both hands, repeat these    phrases out loud, (or use your own words).
  “Even though my limiting beliefs and fears are holding me back in life, I now choose to release the past with love and acceptance.”
  “Even though I’m holding onto my old story,  I’m willing to forgive myself and others, with  love and acceptance.”
  ***Now for the phrases that focus on the issue to acknowledge and release the past – while tapping around on the body points:
   All these limiting beliefs about myself *** I thought they were facts *** All these limiting beliefs about others *** I inherited them from my family *** All these limiting beliefs *** I’ve been repeating them over and over *** “I’m not good enough” *** “I don’t deserve to be loved” *** All these limiting beliefs *** I’m ready to release them now *** I accept myself even though I have all these feelings ***  They have felt true in the past *** I have the ability to change my beliefs *** I am open and receptive *** I am able to change *** I am confident ***  I am strong ***  I am smart *** I am enough *** I am loved and appreciated for who I am
   May this practice help you relax and find peace within.

Simple Breathing Practices to Ease Your Meditation

“There’s nothing like illness to get your attention.
The soul comes to us through our bodies.  And the good news
is that there’s always hope, no matter what.”
Goddessses Never Age by Dr. Christiane Northrop
Simple Breathing Practices to Ease Your Meditation
Many of my students and clients have been saying that they are not able to settle into Meditation, for one reason or another:
  • Can’t quiet the zooming thoughts
  • Concerned that they don’t “know how” to Meditate
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Not finding the time to Meditate
Do you relate to any of these?  You are not alone.  Ahhhhh…
Fortunately, we are blessed with some simple, effective techniques to help us ease into Meditation.  Our breath is free, continuous and completely accessible.  Thank goodness!
We are primarily focused in our heads when we are awake all day long.  Seeing, speaking, listening, thinking and keeping track of everything.
One of the most effective ways to relax into our Meditation practice, is to begin by breathing deeply into the abdomen, allowing our body to be supported and to release the activities of the day with a sigh.
Each time we take in a slow, deep breath, we are oxygenating our bodies and our brains.  Each time we exhale, we are releasing tension and toxins from the body.  Being more conscious of the breath is a wonderful practice in itself.  Rather than focusing on the future, we are invited to rest in the present moment.
No where to go, nothing to do – just present here – focusing on the breath.  This calms the nervous system, reduces stress and allows us to pause from activity and to simply be.
3 Simple Breathing Practices
1.  Double Breath – This is the two inhalations through the nose and two exhalations through the mouth that we do with the Energization exercises.  We call it “sniff, sniff, ha, ha”.  Do this three times, including tensing your whole body on the inhalations, and relaxing everything on the exhalations.  This can be done standing or sitting.
2.  Measured Breathing – While seated comfortably, inhale to a count of 7, hold the breath for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 7.  Adjust the count, so you feel comfortable with it.  Feel the breath flowing up the body as you inhale, hold, concentrating at the point between the eyebrows, and feel the descending breath taking you deeply into inner peace.  Repeat for several rounds, then allow the breath to flow naturally and focus your awareness of the sensations of the breath.
3.  Alternate Nostril Breathing – This is a bit more involved and is very effective for quieting the mind and body.  In a seated position, take a few slow deep breaths into your abdomen.  Using your right hand, place the thumb next to the right nostril and the ring finger next to the left nostril.
Close the right nostril and inhale through the left for a count of 8.  Hold the breath for a count of 8.  Open the right nostril and close the left nostril, exhaling to a count of 8.  Repeat six times.  Do not strain.  Shorten the count if that’s more comfortable for you.  Slowly increase the count as you are able.
You may be reminded of the sound of ocean waves as you breathe.  Ahhhh…
May these simple practices bring you ease and well being when you Meditate.