Give Your Critical Voice A New Job!

All of us have experienced the nagging of our critical voice.  My theory is that this is the function of the ego trying to keep us safe.  It can be annoying, discouraging and persistent, I know.  Ahhhh…
And we are fully capable of becoming more aware of the inner criticand redirecting that conversation.
1.  Begin by observing what you are saying to yourself inside your head all day long.  Warning – this can be shocking!
2.  Be grateful for the part of you that is keeping you safe.  Pat your heart and say, “thank you for keeping me safe – I’ve got this”.
3.  Set an intention to catch yourself and shift to a more positive, encouraging thought.
4.  Be gentle with yourself as you practice noticing what is going well in your day.  We are reprogramming our minds to pay more attention to what goes well and less attention to potential danger – creating new neuro pathways.
5.  Pause when you notice the critical voice, shift your awareness to what feels good and savor the goodness for 10 seconds.
6.  Rinse and repeat.
Let me know how you do with this practice.  You can even practice when meditating – rather than struggling to quiet your mind.  Ahhhh…
Today I am enjoying a lovely avocado and packing to prepare for a four day yoga retreat weekend with my sister friends.  Take very good care of yourselves and happy practicing.

The Amazing Vagus Nerve Complex

The Amazing Vagus Nerve Complex
 
The Vagus Nerve is a cranial nerve that extends up into our brains, even though it is not shown in this image.

Following is a somewhat technical description of our amazing vagus nerve complex.  This is a cranial nerve which, quite elegantly, travels from within our brains, down through all of our major organs, and into our gastro-intestinal system, governing taste, speech, circulation, digestion and so much more.
I am suspecting that our so called gut-brain is influential in so many of our chronic illnesses and conditions.
In our practice on Monday, let’s see if we can imagine sending loving kindness and appreciation to this wonderful and complex part of our bodies.
The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve.
Sensory: Innervates the skin and larynx. Provides visceral sensation to the heart and abdomen.
Special Sensory: Provides taste sensation to the epiglottis and root of the tongue.
Motor: Provides motor innervation to the majority of the muscles of the pharynx, soft palate and larynx.
Parasympathetic: Innervates the smooth muscle of the trachea, bronchi and gastro-intestinal tract and regulates heart rhythm.

Anatomical Course
 
The vagus nerve has the longest course of all the cranial nerves, extending from the head to the abdomen. Its name is derived from the Latin ‘vagary’ – meaning wandering. It is sometimes referred to as the wandering nerve.
In the Head
 
The vagus nerve originates from the medulla of the brain stem.
Within the cranium, the auricular branch arises. This supplies sensation to the posterior part of the external auditory and canal external ear.
In the Neck
At the base of the neck, the right and left nerves have differing pathways:
  • The right vagus nerve passes anterior to the subclavian artery and posterior to the sternoclavicular joint, entering the thorax.
  • The left vagus nerve passes inferiorly between the left common carotid and left subclavian arteries, posterior to the sternoclavicular joint, entering the thorax.
Several branches arise in the neck:
  • Pharyngeal branches – Provides motor innervation to the majority of the muscles of the pharynx and soft palate.
  • Superior laryngeal nerve – Splits into internal and external branches. The external laryngeal nerve innervates the cricothyroid muscle of the larynx. The internal laryngeal provides sensory innervation to the laryngopharynx and superior part of the larynx.
  • Recurrent laryngeal nerve (right side only) – Hooks underneath the right subclavian artery, then ascends towards to the larynx. It innervates the majority of the intrinsic muscles of the larynx.
In the Thorax
In the thorax, the right vagus nerve forms the posterior vagal trunk, and the left forms the anterior vagal trunk. Branches from the vagal trunks contribute to the formation of the oesophageal plexus, which innervates the smooth muscle of the oesophagus.
Two other branches arise in the thorax:
  • Left recurrent laryngeal nerve – it hooks under the arch of the aorta, ascending to innervate the majority of the intrinsic muscles of the larynx.
  • Cardiac branches – these innervate regulate heart rate and provide visceral sensation to the organ.
The vagal trunks enter the abdomen via the oesophageal hiatus, an opening in the diaphragm.
In the Abdomen
 
In the abdomen, the vagal trunks terminate by dividing into branches that supply the oesophagus, stomach and the small and large bowel (up to the splenic flexure).

Sensory Functions
 
There are somatic and visceral components to the sensory function of the vagus nerve.  Somatic refers to sensation from the skin and muscles. This is provided by the auricular nerve, which innervates the skin of the posterior part of the external auditory canal and external ear.
Viscera sensation is that from the organs of the body. The vagus nerve innervates:
  • Laryngopharynx – via the internal laryngeal nerve.
  • Superior aspect of larynx (above vocal folds) – via the internal laryngeal nerve.
  • Heart – via cardiac branches of the vagus nerve.
  • Gastro-intestinal tract (up to the splenic flexure) – via the terminal branches of the vagus nerve.

Special Sensory Functions
 
The vagus nerve has a minor role in taste sensation. It carries afferent fibres from the root of the tongue and epiglottis.

Motor Functions
 
The vagus nerve innervates the majority of the muscles associated with the pharynx and larynx. These muscles are responsible for the initiation of swallowing and phonation.
Muscles of the Pharynx
 
Most of the muscles of the pharynx are innervated by the pharyngeal branchesof the vagus nerve:
  • Superior, middle and inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscles
  • Palatopharyngeus
  • Salpingopharyngeus
An additional muscle of the pharynx, the stylopharyngeus, is innervated by the glossopharyngeal nerve.
Muscles of the Larynx
 
Innervation to the intrinsic muscles of the larynx is achieved via the recurrent laryngeal nerve and external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve.
Recurrent laryngeal nerve:
  • Thyro-arytenoid
  • Posterior crico-arytenoid
  • Lateral crico-arytenoid
  • Transverse and oblique arytenoids
  • Vocalis
External laryngeal nerve:
  • Cricothyroid
Other Muscles
 
In addition to the pharynx and larynx, the vagus nerve also innervates the palatoglossus of the tongue, and the majority of the muscles of the soft palate.

Parasympathetic Functions
 
In the thorax and abdomen, the vagus nerve is the main parasympathetic outflow to the heart and gastro-intestinal organs.
The Heart
 
Cardiac branches arise in the thorax, conveying parasympathetic innervation to the sino-atrial and atrio-ventricular nodes of the heart.
These branches stimulate a reduction in the resting heart rate. They are constantly active, producing a rhythm of 60 – 80 beats per minute. If the vagus nerve was lesioned, the resting heart rate would be around 100 beats per minute.
Gastro-Intestinal System
 
The vagus nerve provides parasympathetic innervation to the majority of the abdominal organs. It sends branches to the oesophagus, stomach and most of the intestinal tract – up to the splenic flexure of the large colon.
The function of the vagus nerve is to stimulate smooth muscle contraction and glandular secretions in these organs. For example, in the stomach, the vagus nerve increases the rate of gastric emptying, and stimulates acid production.

Total Lunar Eclipse on Friday – Transformation or Chaos?

“The full moon on the night of July 27, 2018, presents the longest 
total lunar eclipse of the 21st century. The total phase of the eclipse – 
called the totality – spans 1 hour 42 minutes and 57 seconds.” www.earthsky.org
That’s exciting news!  And, unfortunately, we won’t be able to see the eclipse from north America this time.  I did find a place in Israel that will be live casting at www.bareket-astro.com, if you would like to follow the event. If you are in Asia or Africa – enjoy!
I’ve also been hearing a lot of conversation about the astrological and emotional implications of this full moon and the eclipse.  So I got curious to see what I could learn.
1.  Be aware that we will feel the emotional effects of the eclipse before, during and after the event.  No wonder I wrote about all of the dust and emotions I stirred up last week in my garage.  Ahhhh…
2.  This is a great time to review, reconsider, rethink and reflect on your core values.  As a life coach, I get excited about Visioning meditations and asking powerful questions:
–  What have I been resisting, denying or putting off?
–  What are my core values and how do I honor them?
–  Where am I out of alignment with what is truly important to me?
–  How may I deepen and nurture my relationships?
–  What will give me greater ease, comfort and wellbeing in my body?
Now is the time to be open to change.  Be patient with yourself and others.  Be open to surprises and unexpected opportunities.  Practice extreme self-care and patience with the process.  Ahhhh…

What is Visioning Guided Meditation?

The purpose of Visioning guided meditation is to open a place in our consciousness for fresh ideas to be revealed.  We center ourselves in the silence, establishing awareness of the Divine within us and opening to our inner wisdom, intuition and guidance.
Visions may appear in the form of images, colors, sounds or feelings.  At times nothing may be revealed.  We accept whatever comes or doesn’t come without judgment, knowing that more will be revealed.
The questions:
 
1.  What is the HIGHEST VISION for my life/health/career?
2.  What must I RELEASE to fulfill this vision – what am I releasing or transforming that no longer serves me?
NOTE:  This is the perfect time to utilize your EFT tapping practice to release whatever wants to be released or forgiven so that you can move forward.
 
3.  What must I EMBRACE to fulfill this vision – what am I welcoming into my experience?
 
 4.     What must I BE for this vision to be fulfilled – what qualities will support me in this transformation and growth?
 5.     How can I take INSPIRED ACTION to fulfill this vision?
6.  Give Thanks for the Vision, for the guidance, for the opportunity to connect with your intuition, body wisdom and Divine guidance.
Following your meditation you may record your insights in your journal and/or share the vision with a trusted friend or coach, who will help you affirm your greater good.
I thought I’d share with you the results of one of my Visioning meditation sessions, to inspire you to join me in this amazing practice.  I copied this right out of my journal:
Vision – In a meadow, most glorious, with nothing allergenic – sunshine, perfect temp, little breeze, flowers and trees, Disney butterflies, a stream running over rocks. It’s not just my spot; it’s irresistible to everyone else. They all want to come play with me here. Coming into this space opens people’s hearts. A place they find themselves, what they’re looking for within themselves. Find other people to play with. It’s utterly safe. It’s a place that calls forth possibility. People want to be part of the solution here. They want to connect here. It’s very open. People can come and go freely. We bring their best selves to this circle. There’s a feeling beyond everything being possible; everyone can have what they want here. Together everything can be solved.
 
Release: “Nobody wants to play with me.” Really clear. Loneliness. I don’t know how to do it – create community, invite people. Doubt. No matter what I do, it isn’t good enough. Will this work? Will this sustain me?
 
Embrace: Fun, big fun! Nature. Beauty. Community. Creativity. Learning. Teaching. Traveling. Collaboration. More fun. Music. Somehow my photography is in there. Adventure. Generosity. Worthiness. Excellence. Success. Joy. Celebration. Lots of people to play with. I get the image of dropping a pebble in the water and the rings expanding out, out, out. Natural expansion that’s effortless, easy, joyful. Dancing in the moment.
 
Being: Strong. Healthy. Confident. Joyful. Playful. Excited. Welcoming. Creative. Adventurous. Grateful. Peaceful. Curious. Content.
 
Gratitude lives in my body – in my heart.
May this guided meditation connect you with your intuition and Divine guidance and move your forward with clarity, confidence and enthusiasm!

Powerful Questions To Reduce Your Stress

 Here is a simple practice to reduce stress, when traveling or when you are home:
1.  Begin with a few minutes of Energization exercises, stretching or yoga postures.
2.  Sit quietly in Meditation and visualize how you want to feel in your daily life.  Really notice the sensations, the energy in your body when you are feeling calm, relaxed and healthy.
3.  Ask yourself – What do I need to STOP doing to feel better?  What am I saying NO to?  And write that down.
4.  What do you need to START doing to feel better? What are you saying YES to?  And write that down as well.
5.  Choose one action you can take this week and commit:
________________________________________
6.  Resistance to change is a nature part of the process of change.  What comes up for you when you make a commitment to take action to improve your own well being?
________________________________________
Continuously release resistance – this is a GREAT thing to tap on to reduce the charge on the resistance.
7.  Bonus Question:  What did you learn about yourself in making a commitment and taking action?
8.  Take action this week and celebrate your success!
HAVE FUN – BE CURIOUS – BE GENTLE!

Releasing 2016 – Your Best Year Ever in 2017

Happy New Year!
I hope that your holidays were warm and wonderful and that you enjoyed some time of rest, play and connection with loved ones.
January is a wonderful time to reflect on the past year and to set intentions for the new year.
How will you create your best year ever?
I am a big believer in the power of intention.  I recently read that those of us who write down our intentions are at least 50% more likely to receive what we desire.  Wow!  That’s very encouraging.
In January I love to return to the VISIONING practice that invites us to meditate and create a vision for our lives that includes asking the following questions:
What is the VISION for my life?
What am I RELEASING that no longer serves me?
(Identifying what we want to release and then using EFT tapping to acknowledge those feelings and circumstances to release them is a powerful key to healing and moving forward.)
What am I WELCOMING IN to fulfill this vision?
What am I BEING as I step into this vision?
I have been enjoying this practice for many years with great results.
Here are my notes from my VISIONING from five years ago:
My Visioning Notes – December 14, 2011
 
“Vision – In a meadow, most glorious, with nothing allergenic – sunshine, perfect temp, little breeze, flowers and trees, Disney butterflies, a stream running over rocks. It’s not just my spot; it’s irresistible to everyone else. They all want to come play with me here. Coming into this space opens people’s hearts. A place they find themselves, what they’re looking for within themselves. Find other people to play with. It’s utterly safe. It’s a place that calls forth possibility. People want to be part of the solution here. They want to connect here. It’s very open. People can come and go freely. We bring their best selves to this circle. There’s a feeling beyond everything being possible; everyone can have what they want here. Together everything can be solved.
Release – “Nobody wants to play with me.” Really clear. Loneliness. I don’t know how to do it – create community, invite people. Doubt. No matter what I do, it isn’t good enough. Will this work? Will this sustain me?
 
Embrace – Fun, big fun! Nature. Beauty. Community. Creativity. Learning. Teaching. Traveling. Collaboration. More fun. Music. Somehow my photography is in there. Adventure. Generosity. Worthiness. Excellence. Success. Joy. Celebration. Lots of people to play with. I get the image of dropping a pebble in the water and the rings expanding out, out, out. Natural expansion that’s effortless, easy, joyful. Dancing in the moment.
 
Being – Strong. Healthy. Confident. Joyful. Playful. Excited. Welcoming. Creative. Adventurous. Grateful. Peaceful. Curious. Content.
Gratitude lives in my body – in my heart.”

I want to remind you that, if you have my Guided Meditation CD, you can pull it out again and listen to the VISIONING guided meditation to set your intentions for the new year.

And you are always invited to download the meditation at:
Please join us on Monday at 1 p.m. at Synergy in Napa to Vision together for a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Joyful new year.

For Pain Relief – You Might Ask Yourself- What Am I Avoiding?

If you, like me, live with chronic pain, you might want to ask yourself – what am I avoiding?
  • Is there someone you are avoiding seeing or speaking to?
  • Are you putting off an important health care appointment?
  • Where in your life are you procrastinating?
  • Are you pushing yourself and avoiding rest?
  • What is the last thing you are willing to pay attention to?
OK, confession time.  As I sit here at my desk, gazing out at the humming birds zipping in and out of my garden this morning, I am looking at the piles all around me on my desk and, once again, putting off (procrastinating!) doing my filing and organizing.
Ahhhhh…
I know that the stuff is taking up space in my consciousness.
I know that it will only take a few minutes to clear it up.
I know that I will feel so proud of myself when I do it!
I know that putting it off is not serving me.
And still I procrastinate!
What in your life are you avoiding?
Might your willingness to stop avoiding something – anything – in your life help heal your chronic pain?
Will you join me in making a commitment right now to choosing one thing you will pay attention to today that will relieve some of the pressure you put on yourself?
Let’s do this!
Not put it off one more minute, one more hour, one more day…
I will post a photo of my clean and organized desk on my Facebook page by the end of the day today.  Here’s the link:

https://www.facebook.com/permissiontorelax/

Besides, I’d love to have you join me on my Facebook page where I post photos, share the books I’m reading and generally rant about what is up for me that doesn’t fit in with this weekly lesson.
I keep having urges to write essays or articles or whatever and feel that this space is sacred space where we meet each week to practice, inspire and connect with one another for healing and learning.
Please share with me (on the Facebook page) what you are choose to focus on today to release some energy and relieve pain.  And join us on Monday at Synergy for Meditation & Tapping for Pain Relief.

Calming Down the Fight or Flight (or Flee) Response

  This week I thought we might practice calming down the stress in our lives.  There is plenty of scary stuff happening in our world and maybe not enough reminders to slow down, breathe deeply, move mindfully and ask for support.  Ahhhh…   Causes of Stress   The flight or fight response in the body is an automatic function designed to help us survive when we are in danger.   When every day experiences keep firing the stress response our immune system is impacted, which can lead to fatigue, insomnia, depression and illness.   I believe that we always have a choice about how we respond to life.   As we move into the fall and winter months, give yourself permission to slow down, nurture yourself with comforting activities and release anything that pulls you off of your center.   Activating the Relaxation Response

  • Mindfulness of your breath throughout the day
  • Meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong practice
  • Walking, swimming, biking or other exercises
  • Asking for support from family and friends
  • Tapping while focusing on stressful circumstances

Action:  Choose one practice or activity that feels really good to you.   Continue for several weeks and see how much calmer and rested you feel.  Be patient and gentle with yourself.  Ahhhh…   Here’s a link to more information for those of you who are interested in the full scoop on this topic:   http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response   This article from Harvard Health also includes terrific information about how to calm the Fight or Flight response and activate the Relaxation Response.  Yay!

Self-Care for Caregivers

IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE
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.