Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Seek Your Truth To Speak Your Truth

by Jen Perry

Do you ever notice how some days go smoothly and then very similar days can be so difficult? Sometimes the difference is obvious, like when we are getting through a workday with a cold or some other malady. But often, it is far more subtle. Checking in on ourselves is an important component of daily self-care. We are contextual beings and taking into consideration even just a few of the myriad influences affecting us from day to day can really make the difference in our self-care and self-support throughout the days and weeks. Just asking the question, “How am I?” and seeking your truth ~ the truth of yourself right now ~ with an intention of caring for yourself and taking into consideration the context of your life right now ~ can make a huge difference. We can practice self-compassion and self-care by attending to our needs of the moment instead of ignoring them and expecting ourselves to be a robot that operates the same way under any set of conditions.

How often do we override our basic needs? Push? Fail to take into consideration our stage in life, or the quality of our sleep, or the seasonal affects around us? Weeks filled with the business of end-of-school-year or the pre-event party planning tornado or the post event collapse after vacation ~ all of these may mean that our needs are different. Seeking your truth so that you can speak your truth to yourself and meet your needs is a simple and quick essential form of daily self-care. Find your style and what works for you. Here is an example of the steps I like to take (adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn and Kristin Neff):

1.     Simply asking, “How am I?” And really listening as you would a good friend or dear one. Perhaps you feel tired, rushed, sore. Or maybe it is a moment that you can celebrate and you feel good, content, happy.
2.     Fully contact this present moment. Mindfully. The sweet spot here is to meet how you are without minimizing or exaggerating your experience. It is happening either way, meeting it with curiosity and kindness for yourself.
3.     Connecting with Universality: Opening up and connecting in your heart and mind with all the other humans around you having a similar moment. Recognizing that no matter what you are experiencing, you’re guaranteed not to be the only one who is enjoying the pleasant weather, was up all night with a new baby, got bad news from a doctor, is thrilled with a new car, has a difficult conversation they need to have with someone, or whatever it may be … it is part of the human experience and you are not alone. Not at all.
4.     A wish for us all to  …. Fill in the the blank here ~ based on the last few steps, what do you wish for yourself and anyone and everyone in your similar situation? May we all take a deep breath and enjoy this moment… May we all find peace … May we all sleep better tonight and be gentle with ourselves today … May we all be safe, happy, at ease.
5.     Based in the step above, is there a need that you can fulfill for yourself? A simple breath, a walk or stretch, a call to a friend. Now that you’ve found your truth, and spoken it to yourself, the answer to how to best support yourself in this moment should be much easier to find.

Jen Perry is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, Peaceful Parenting Educator and Coach. Jen’s approach to her client’s mental health and wellbeing focuses on implementing mindful self-care and self-compassion practices. Jen can be reached at jen@heartfulnessconsulting.com or 215-292-5056.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Infinity of Each Moment

by Elizabeth Campbell, LPC

“Wherever you are, be there totally.” – Eckhart Tolle. 

In our culture, there is a lot to pay attention to.  There are the daily happenings of work, family, and relationships in addition to the onslaught of information we are faced with every day in the form of news, tweets, texts, Instagram photos, snap chats, and more. The list is endless.  If we are paying attention to all of this, are we really checking into each and every moment?  Our divided attention may rob us of the depth of experience that each second brings. 

One of my yoga teachers once said that every moment is endless.  At this exact second, there is a ton of sensory information occurring.  You may not notice the hum of your computer or the AC draft coming towards you if you don’t consciously check in.  Physical sensations or feelings may be present.  In addition to your experience, the billions of people in the world are also each having their very own vast encounter as well.  

Often, checking out is a sign that we are overwhelmed.  Scanning through Instagram or Facebook may indicate that we need a break from whatever is bringing us stress.  I invite you to notice if there are certain patterns to phone, television, or social media usage.  The practice of noticing these patterns can help you to build awareness of what you are experiencing in those moments – and begin to check in instead of checking out.

Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention to every moment, whether we are meditating in nature or feeling the deepest pain one can experience.  Obviously, some moments are more pleasant than others!  The ubiquitous distractions available to us make it very easy to check out when we feel uncomfortable, sad, anxious, or angry.  But this also takes away our opportunity to build our self-regulation tools.  If we check in, the feelings don’t build up and overwhelm us.  We find ways to manage those feelings.  Mindfulness is an empirically supported approach to treat a range of medical and emotional issues.  It calms our body as we experience the feelings and stress that comes with life, and this helps us become more able to thrive during stressful times. 

Elizabeth Campbell is a Licensed Profession Counselor who provides empowerment and strength-based support to individuals in personal growth and change.  She specializes in play therapy with children, family therapy, creative counseling for adolescents, and trauma-informed treatment for all ages using an integrative, mindful approach to address the whole individual and promote healing.  If you would like to connect with Elizabeth, reach out at elizabeth@elizabethcampbellcounseling.com or 610-757-8163 or learn more at www.elizabethcampbellcounseling.com.

When Life Throws You a Curveball

by Karen Steinbrecher

We know where we are going and what we want to do.  Then due to forces outside of our control, things don't go as we had planned and life changes – sometimes in the blink of an eye.

After helping my husband heal following a major back operation, I was feeling lighter, breathing deeply in gratitude. Then I found myself facing my own personal health crisis. And the fear returned.

My long-time QiGong practice supported me in that moment, inviting me to take a deep breath and open my mind to a new opportunity – with the knowledge that curve balls are a way of keeping us awake. Sometimes curveballs are even a gift.

Breathing in gratitude in the face of life’s curveballs is not always easy to do! This morning, as thoughts rushed through my mind and my body filled with anxiety, I returned – as I do each day – to the gentle flowing movements of QiGong. And as I began to move, flow, and stretch my body with the many movements that I practice and lead, I began to feel better.

QiGong provides us with an opportunity to release any energy that gets blocked and can stagnate in response to the stressors of life. The flowing movements send a signal to our brain, the body's repair and maintenance manager, to rebuild our joints, muscles, and tendons. QiGong exercises body, mind, and spirit and helps support an internal alchemy of balance and integration, creating our own personal medicine.

Karen Steinbrecher teaches QiGong classes at The Resiliency Center on Tuesdays at 2:30 pm and Thursdays at 6:20 pm. Cost is $10. To RSVP, contact Karen at Karensteinbrecher@msn.com  or 215-836-7184.