Everybody Wears the Mask to Camouflage Their Identity

This Halloween Try Taking Off Your Mask, Not Putting Another One On.

Halloween is just around the corner and children of all ages are planning out their costumes. From princesses to zombies and all the creativity that pours into stepping out in the perfect costume begins. Excitement is in the air as we collectively decide to take off our daily masks in exchange for a little dress-up. Where did our oppression with Halloween come from? And what is it about dressing up as someone (or something) different that puts us in such a good mood?

Halloween might have been born out of the idea of scaring off bad spirits, but today we celebrate to escape the identity that confines us. 

Over the past year and a half, we’ve become accustomed to wearing a mask in our daily lives. Both figuratively and literally. Hiding from each other and ourselves. Pretending everything is okay when really we are cracking at the seams. 

Emotional Masks

Siloed away from society we started to hide behind our own emotional masks out of fear that life as we knew it had ended. Collectively we started baking bread and enjoying strolls through the neighborhood as we longed for the community of people we had become accustomed to complaining about. 

Isolated and online we continue to feel fear as the media drives a divide further and further into modern culture. Without seeing our neighbors and friends we let divisive comments tear us apart. Families are not speaking, friendships have been lost, and still, we wear our emotional masks that everything is okay. Surrounding ourselves with others who echo our thoughts so we can feel less alone in our separation and seen by others to validate our own existence. 

We have become so insecure about life as we know it that we have given our power away.

Every time we turn around another bomb has been dropped in our laps that has us continuing to question what the hell is going on! This leaves us unsure, so we… 

  • Hide behind our fear
  • Hide behind our anger
  • Hide behind our anxiety
  • Hide behind our stress
  • Hide behind our loneliness

We hide behind comfortable masks so we feel less alone. Becoming accustomed to pretending everything is okay when really we know it’s not. 

The more isolated our lives become in a physical way the more we pretend.

What masks do you wear?

Masks are a natural coping mechanism. They help us feel less like an imposter in our own lives. 

  • Admitting that your marriage is on the rocks is scary, but pretending everything is okay is comfortable.
  • Admitting you need help is scary, acting as though everything is fine is comfortable.
  • Admitting you hate your job is scary, showing up every day and doing it anyway is comfortable.
  • Cutting ties with a toxic relationship is scary, putting up with the abuse is comfortable.
  • Taking responsibility for your health is scary, sleeping in is comfortable.
  • Admitting you have a drug or alcohol problem is scary, numbing the pain is comfortable.

We have spent so much time in our heads building up these walls to protect our thinking that we forget that there is a world of support around us. 

We fear the discomfort of being seen so we continue to wear masks. Afraid of what the world will think if we took off the masks we wear and let our true selves be seen. 

We cannot grow unless we are willing to be seen. Until you can shed the mask that holds your perfect life together and let your true self be seen you will never feel free. Always confined to the balmy air of a mask.

Halloween is an opportunity to try on a new mask and explore in a safe way. What if you allowed yourself this freedom year-round?

Taking off the Mask of Uncertainty

You have so much potential inside that you have disconnected from. You have lost your identity to an idea and now the mask is hard to remove. Being seen is scary, and you will get pushback and might even be judged. But your life, your skills, your creativity, your spirit, can’t grow until you take off that mask and step into uncertainty. 

The masks you wear are stealing your potential and adding to your anxiety and stress. Removing the mask, although scary, offers a certain amount of relief. It’s exhausting hiding behind an idea of who you are or what your life should be. 

The more masks you wear the harder it is to breathe. And if you aren’t breathing properly true healing cannot happen. 

Deciding to breathe through uncertainty is showing ourselves and others that we are worthy of growth and being seen. 

Watching children on Halloween is fun because they are at play. Able to take off the mask when the evening is done and let their true selves be seen. What is stopping you from doing the same thing? 

Ask yourself…

  • What am I gaining from continuing to wear the masks of my life?
  • What am I missing out on by wearing these masks?
  • What would happen if I decided to take this mask off?
  • How would I benefit from removing my mask?
  • What am I willing to give up so I can be free of this burden?
  • What am I risking if I choose to be seen?
  • How uncomfortable am I willing to let myself be in order to live without this mask?

Asking these types of questions helps us to realize the power of these masks and the challenges you will face once they are removed. 

Be Uncomfortable

I love Halloween, but some of the costumes and movies designed around this holiday make me uncomfortable. Like going to a haunted house. Not a fun activity for me because they make me super uncomfortable. I can rationalize that it’s all fake and the clown chasing me with a chainsaw is really zero threat to my life, but in the moment it can feel like it does.

What I’m saying is you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable in order to grow. All the dangers and roadblocks in your head are often nothing more than that, a thought in your head. 

When you decide to be seen, to ask for help, to reach out, to make a change it will be uncomfortable. You will feel like grabbing that mask and putting it back on, but it will be at the risk of your own health and happiness. 

This Halloween instead of trying on a new mask, try instead to set down one of your old ones. And when the world scares you, instead of reaching for that old familiar mask, shock everyone by standing firm without one. 

5 Reasons Why Stepping Outside will Improve Your Health

Fall is the Perfect Time to Step Outside and Breathe in the Fresh Air

Something about being in nature helps us to slow down and appreciate our surroundings. Generally, we all feel good after a nice walk in the woods or a stroll through a city park. Spending time outside has plenty of benefits. It can help you destress and slow down both mentally and physically. Being in nature is a perfect place to work on mindfulness and conscious breathing. Mother Earth is a great teacher in the art of living more purposefully and in tune with our surroundings. 

A quick walk or drive to a park bench is sometimes all we need to shift our whole day. Take the time to breathe deeply and let go of any stress or anxiety building inside. 

Five minutes of breathing in nature is a natural reboot to your nervous system. This can improve your overall wellness. Your mental, emotional, and physical health all benefit from time spent outdoors. 

Any time of year is a good time of year for you to unplug and get outside. The turning of the leaves and the crisp autumn air make this time of year my favorite time to get outside and breathe. Regardless of what time of year you like to get outside, Here are 5 reasons why taking time to consciously breathe in nature is good for your health.

  1. Clean Your Lungs

Finding a place to sit amongst the trees and do breathwork is not only soul cleansing, it’s lung cleansing too! Getting away from the harsh chemicals that plague our air and stepping back in time to sit with the trees is powerful. Consciously breathing in fresh air improves the quality of the air you’re bringing into your lungs because you begin to breathe slower and deeper. Your lungs dilate more from the increased amount of oxygen and a cleansing effect takes place. With every exhale you are releasing toxins naturally and replacing them with the fresh air of your surroundings. 

  1. Digestion Aid

All that increased oxygen is going to benefit your overall health. Your digestive system is one of those areas most benefited from fresh air. An increased flow of oxygen helps you to digest your food more effectively. Slow, mindful breathing takes you out of a constant state of fight or flight. When you’re in a fight or flight state your body is too busy trying to protect itself from unseen danger to work on proper digestion. Time spent in nature can have calming effects that move you into the rest and digest state of your nervous system, allowing you to properly digest your food. 

  1. Improved Blood Pressure

The balance between your nervous system acting from the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state and the fresh air in your environment both help improve your blood pressure and lower your heart rate. Heart rate variability (HRV) is something we all need to pay better attention to. HRV is the measurement of time between heartbeats. This number is helpful in bringing awareness to how your breath affects your nervous system. Knowing this number can help you find healthy ways to respond to stress. For instance, getting into nature and breathing. 

  1. Strengthen Your Immune System

Our white blood cells function properly when they receive the proper amount of air and good quality of air. Breathing fresh air deep into the lungs is helping the exchange between O2 (oxygen) and CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) work more efficiently. Helping your Immune system to fight off and kill bacteria and germs that enter the body. 

  1. Clarity of Mind

The more oxygen you get helps increase the amount of blood flow to your brain. That paired with the natural calming that occurs in nature helps you to think clearer. More serotonin is produced so you feel good, and we all make better choices from a relaxed, happy place. Once you return to your life indoors you will feel more focused, have more energy, and concentration. 

And So Much More!

Getting outside to breathe is a healthy way to stay connected to our magnificent earth and give yourself some time to slow down and take it all in. Bad breathing habits are born from a lack of attention placed on how we move and show up in our bodies. Getting outside is a great way to work through those tough days. A 5-minute break to consciously breathe in nature helps you feel refreshed and allows you to come back to your daily activities with a sharper, more relaxed mind. 

Don’t let stress take you out of a state of peace. Try deep diaphragmatic breathing and reset your day. 

Beginners guide to breathing in Nature

  • Get outside! 
  • Find a park bench, or a rock, or the grass. Whatever space feels welcoming to you. A place you will feel comfortable letting yourself relax for a few minutes. 
  • Get comfortable either….
    • Sitting on a bench with your feet hip-width distance apart
    • Sitting on the ground in a meditation seat (either cross-legged or hips to heels)
    • Laying down in a meadow
  • Place one hand over your heart and the other on your belly. 
  • Close or soften your eyes and bring your attention to your breath
  • Start to bring your breath fully into your belly on your next inhale, allowing your hand to gently move up and down with the inhales and the exhales.
  • Take a couple rounds to naturally elongate the breath deep into the belly.
  • Then begin a rhythm of breathing in this way (belly breathing) 
    • Inhaling for 4 seconds
    • Exhaling for 4 seconds
  • Take time to connect to a count that works best for you and slows you down. 
  • Do 10 rounds in this way
  • Blink your eyes open and take in your surroundings
  • Continuing to breathe deeply, consciously take note of the fresh air entering your body on each inhale.
  • Give gratitude to the moment and space
  • Mindfully get up from your seat and continue your walk from a deep place of connection with your breath and environment. 

How You Become Addicted to a Life You Don’t Even Like

You know that friend who is constantly complaining about her partner? Or that coworker who always points out what is wrong with management? Always complaining, but never doing anything about it. Do you ever wonder why they put up with all the hassle? It could be that they have become addicted to their problems. We see it so often: people addicted to a life they don’t even like.

We are constantly living by a set of daily rituals: things we do every day that trigger different emotional responses within us. We have conditioned ourselves into the state of our lives. When you decide to change the way you feel about something it threatens a whole host of responses you’ve been relying on for years. This is challenging and takes work that many of us have decided is too hard. Many would rather stay trapped in a life or situation they don’t even like and that often lead to major health concerns. 

Dr. Joe Dispenza is one of my favorites. In his book, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”, he goes into the science behind our bodies being the subconscious mind. The idea is that all of our thoughts and memories are stored in the body. So the thoughts you think signal the body in different ways, creating emotions and reactions related to those memories. Essentially, those negative thoughts create a negative reality. 

In order to change the life you live you must change your thoughts by breaking down old belief patterns. 

This is tricky. We store memories because they have an effect on us. Sometimes going as far back as childhood trauma. Memories and reactions are stored to help keep us safe. And, sometimes they keep us looped into negative thinking patterns. 

All of us have been through some sort of trauma in our lives. These scars literally change the way our brains work. The good news here is that the brain is pliable. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to modify its connections to rewire itself. Meaning you can reprogram your thoughts and beliefs into the life of your dreams. Knowing this, why is it that so many would choose to stay stuck in a life they don’t even like?

The Devil You Know

Our identity is at stake when we change. Change means taking responsibility for ourselves. Change is uncomfortable. Our human nature is to mold in with our environment. If complaining has been your way, then who are you without it? And when you are programmed to see the negative how can you evolve into seeing inspiration?

All of this means taking a look at how you’ve played a role in where you currently are in your life. It’s choosing to no longer be a victim to your current circumstances and quit the blame game. 

  • It’s not what your partner is doing to you. 
  • It’s not that your boss hates you. 
  • It’s not the break up that left you high and dry.
  • It’s not your family.
  • It’s not your finances.

It’s deciding to own what you can change instead of continuing to focus on what you don’t want.

Thoughts Become Things

If you are constantly complaining about your life then you start to look for signs in the world that prove your thoughts are right. Your body has a reaction and the emotional triggers are hit. The trick is to start to generate new thoughts in line with where you want your life to go. Just scroll social media and you will find everyone proofing that their beliefs on a subject are correct based on an article or shared post. We look for these confirmations and then get a hit of dopamine when it is reflected. 

Knowing this, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to focus on things you do want to show up in your life? Can you imagine the shifts that would begin to take place if you started acting like you loved your life? What if you spoke only positively about your partner? How would that change your life?

Dr. Joe talks in the book about how our body doesn’t know the difference between a thought you’re having and what’s actually happening. Think about it…Have you ever played out a scenario in your head with so much emotion that you got angry? Or started crying? Your body experiences that as though that event was actually happening. 

If you are constantly playing out a scenario that happened last week, last month, last year, 5-10 years ago, your body doesn’t know that it’s not physically happening. Your body assumes that this mind-induced trauma is happening now and fires off the same wiring that is keeping you stuck, and mad, and frustrated with your current life. 

Remember that the brain is pliable though. It can be molded into observing the changes you wish to see. 

This means that right now you can begin to think yourself into a life you love. 

You just need to start showing up differently in your life. Begin to visualize your life as something you love. Why not love your life? What do you have to lose? 

At first, it will feel forced or fake, and that’s okay. Your body is just not used to these new experiences and thoughts. You might find yourself sliding back into a negative conversation about a coworker because that is the familiar past. But the past is past, and every time you notice this happening and redirect your energy back to the life you love, it’s a win. Soon you will begin to fire new networks in your brain that signal and connect you to a more positive state of being. 

More Than Just Positive Thinking

This is hard work and it takes more than just thinking positively. You must commit to change and refuse to be a victim of your own life. As Dr. Joe likes to say, “Moving from thinking, to doing, to being.” Simply act on your positive thoughts into action in order for your life to become what you want it to be. 

Thinking negatively makes you feel depressed and worthless. Your set of old patterns has you stuck doing activities or hanging out with people who you have outgrown or who are unhealthy. You are caught in your own routine of thoughts and feelings and this perpetuates the same reality you have been complaining about. You must choose different thoughts and then be ready to act on them. 

I know this is super scary. So take it slow. Begin with observing your thoughts. Where does your mind go naturally in any situation? Take note and then reflect on how it feels in your body. Ask yourself if there might be another way to look at it. 

Once you get this down it’s time to align your thoughts with the way you want to feel. Your thoughts and feelings must align in order for this to work. For instance, let’s say you are headed to Thanksgiving dinner and you just know your cousin is going to say something to set you off. You expect it. So naturally when it happens boom! You are triggered and the old patterns move along.

Now imagine you are headed to Thanksgiving dinner and you focus your thoughts on how nice it was to see your cousin. You can visualize the two of you laughing or hugging or connecting in the way you want to connect. Then when they start in on the old pattern you are aware of your trigger and can choose to not react. Perhaps even laughing at the comment. Agreeing “Yes I can be like that sometimes.” What a difference that would make. You cannot change the people around you, but you can change how you choose to react to them. 

Conditioning

Life is full of ups and downs and things are always going to come up that are uncomfortable. If you decide you want to thrive in challenging moments, you have to do the work now so you are prepared. It’s daily choices that create your conditioning. You can decide to not let external realities determine your internal state. 

You can begin to condition the body to support ideas, emotions, feelings, and events that you want to see in your life. At this very moment, you can choose to be grateful despite your chronic back pain. Start associating your thoughts and feelings with the life of your dreams. You can train your mind into expecting good things to happen and feeling them now in your body. Remember, the body doesn’t know the difference between a thought or a real event. And what you send out is what you get back. 

Whether you believe you can or can’t you are right

Whatever is coming up in your life is something you are perpetuating by your thoughts. 

  • Are you always short on cash?
  • Are you always in dead-end relationships?
  • Are you always late?
  • Do you always miss the fun?

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can overcome your programming by continuing to tell the brain how you want to feel. When you find yourself in these old loops, start testing your new skill out, and don’t stop until it feels right and natural in your body.

  • I always have enough
  • My relationships fill me with love
  • I have perfect timing
  • The fun happens when I’m around

It’s the principle of cause and effect. As you think about how you want to feel…you begin to feel the way you think. You are a magnet. And you are attracting to yourself all the things you are constantly thinking about. So stop telling yourself that you are lazy, dumb, depressed, and start acting how you want to feel. 

We can’t think greater than we feel

So stop conditioning yourself into the role of a victim. If you stay there too long your body is going to react. The longer you dwell in self-pity the harder it will be to change. If you need help, get it. Then start owning your life, and step into a life that you love. 

Fall Into Yourself This Autumn

Time to Slow Down and Reflect

Did you know that your lungs are associated with sadness and grief? According to Chinese Medicine, each of your organs is connected to an emotion. Although sorrow comes in many forms, all sadness and grief can be associated with change. 

Change in…

  • Relationships
  • Status
  • Lifestyle
  • Employment

When you are grieving or sad these emotions are held in your lungs, making them weak. In steps the large intestine, associated with letting go. Together these two organs can help you process hard emotions and breathe through the process of letting them go. 

Fall seems the appropriate time for this internal reflection. We see the rich beauty of nature showcasing how lovely the process can be. Trees spend their summer pushing nutrients out to their leaves and producing fruit. As the season turns to Fall the trees begin to slow their output of nutrients to the leaves, focusing more on what’s happening internally, their leaves turn and eventually fall.

So too must we do this internal reflection: Using nature as our reminder of how nice it is to let go. Knowing that the fall of this year’s leaves is not the end of the tree, but rather just part of the process of growth and renewal. 

You can support your lungs and large intestines by slowing down. Allowing yourself to feel the deep, hard emotions with the knowledge that it is completely normal. Understanding that these emotions are not who you are and don’t need to control your life. These emotions are a gift that holds a candle to where we need to reflect and let go.

Whether your grief or sadness is small or big it’s important to give yourself space to allow and reflect. Processing these emotions is a way to help you let go of them. 

Start externally. Take time to de-clutter your home or workspace. Get rid of those old clothes that don’t fit. Create space for the new and unexpected to grow. 

When you are feeling any kind of sorrow your breath naturally becomes more shallow. You begin to take quick short breaths high into your ribcage. Just think of the last time you cried. You can almost feel yourself breathing in this manner. Not good. 

It’s natural for our bodies to do this, but unnatural for us to stay in this panicked and high-intensity breath pattern. When you are working through hard emotions and letting go, this is bound to be the case. 

A great way to slow the breath is by following your breath in for 4 counts and out for 8. Or whatever number works for you. The point is to breathe out longer than you are breathing in. 

Letting go is how you heal. Use your lungs as the medicine to heal your sorrow. 

Healing allows you to let go of the dismissive. Taking the time to look inside takes self-compassion. How often have we been told that we must serve others? That the needs of everyone else should come before our own healing? This leads to more sadness, grief, and overwhelm.

Fall is an opportunity to go deep within and find acceptance of yourself. Advocating for your needs, and holding to your boundaries. 

Deep healing is about embracing your own sensitivity. Letting go is about letting other people’s energy and emotions be just that. You are not in charge of how anyone else feels, you are only responsible for your own feelings. And you cannot give out if you yourself are not full. Over-giving without analyzing and reflecting on what you need to let go of leads to mental illness and leaves you feeling sick and powerless. 

Fall is a reminder that you are not broken when all your leaves begin to fall. Emotions are yours for a reason. They are meant to guide you and remind you that you are in fact still human. Emotions are what they are. 

  • You’re the one who assigns meaning to them. 
  • You’re the one giving them power. 
  • You’re the one that builds a story of who you are or are not around them. 
  • You’re the one who associates them to a person or trait.
  • You’re the one that determines how they affect your life.

Emotions are a gift. They help you understand and hear signals from your body. They are here to give you depth and connect you to your body and experiences. 

Fall teaches us to find balance within. Your nervous system is constantly seeking balance and your lungs are the highway to that balance. 

We have fallen out of balance because so many of us are afraid to connect to our emotional bodies. We have become accustomed to feeling out of balance thinking it’s an easier road than looking at hard felt emotions. Emotions that lay dormant in our lungs. 

When you decide to consciously breathe deeply into your body, you start a conversation back to self. Breathing deep into your lungs unclogs passageways that have been burdened with grief and begins to shake them loose. Allowing you the insight to start to redirect the energy in a more mindful way. Breathing through the mud can be scary and revealing, but isn’t that also a part of fall? It isn’t until the tree lets go and sits barren through the winter that we can see the life of spring appear on its branches. 

4×8 Breathing Practice

  • Find a comfortable seat or feel free to do it while lying in bed. If you are in a chair be sure your back is free from any support and your feet are firmly planted on the ground. 
  • Let your spine be long but not rigid. 
  • Soften your gaze and bring your focus to your breath.
  • Taking a moment to settle in by focusing on your natural inhales and exhales.
  • After a couple rounds begin to control the flow by inhaling to the count of 4.
  • Slowly exhale through a controlled count of 8. The goal is to be empty as you hit 8 and not before. Completely clearing out old stagnant air from your lungs. 
  • Repeat breathing in for 4 and out for 8 for 10 rounds.
  • Noticing your mind slow as your thoughts stay centered around the steady slow flow of air moving in and out.