Breaking the Habit of Hesitation

Release the Idea of Needing Motivation, and Start Taking Action Today!

Many aspiring entrepreneurs constantly live in a state of limbo. They have great ideas, but they’re not quite sure if they should pursue them or not because it could be too risky. The thought of taking the leap into something new is paralyzing to some people– and for good reason! It can be an intimidating task, which is why I’m here to tell you that there’s no need to hesitate anymore. 

You don’t have to keep waiting around for someone else to invest in your idea; just take action and start making things happen. If you’re uncomfortable then you are on the right track. If this sounds like you then this blog post is perfect because it’s time we break the habit of hesitation once and for all.

It’s easy to look at someone you admire who has success and start to believe that they possess something you don’t. That success came easy to them or that they are full of motivation. You’ve bought into this idea that at some point you too will have the courage and confidence to pursue your dreams. 

You know how it goes… 

  • Once I have more money I will do it.
  • Once I lose weight I will start.
  • Once the kids are out of the house I can focus on myself.
  • Once I get that promotion things will change.

These hesitations are keeping you stuck. I know because I’ve been there too, and I know that someday will never come unless you decide to make it happen. 

Right now.

Where you are.

With what you have.

Begin Today!

I have a lifelong friend who is such an inspiration. She’s a single mom who started her custom clothing line while living in a 500 square-foot studio apartment. She’d always wanted to go for it, but the time was never right. Stuck at home with an infant and in a place of needing to figure it out, she went all in. 

Today she has a successful clothing line making custom clothes exclusively for the wives, girlfriends, parents, and children of professional athletes. A niche industry that caters to helping family members stand out in the stadium on game day. 

She created a market out of need and found success when she let hesitation go. 

She was not confident when she was setting up her printer between the baby’s crib and the small kitchen surface she had. But she decided to go for it and it completely changed her life. 

Hesitation Brings Doubt

Somewhere along the line, we decided it was more comfortable to stay stuck dreaming about our future lives than actually taking the steps to create that dream life. We started relying on the voice of hesitation. Our brains are designed to protect us from danger and anything unknown is a potential threat. Hesitation is our reasoning mind thinking it’s keeping us safe. But in order to start that business, be that partner, follow that dream, you are going to have to spend a little time in uncertainty.

Mel Robbin’s book, “The 5 Second Rule”, talks about this. She says it’s responsible for changing the course of her life. She says “If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.” She suggests when you have an idea you give yourself 5 seconds to act on it. Literally doing a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown to propel you into action. 

When you think about all the things you’re going to do tomorrow it’s easy. Your mind is motivated to say…

  • I’m going to get up early and meditate tomorrow
  • I’m going to start eating healthily tomorrow
  • I’m starting my gym routine tomorrow
  • I’m starting to put pen to paper on my book tomorrow

And you really mean it! You’re seriously ready. But then the next day you just aren’t motivated to do it. You’ve already hesitated on the idea, what’s one more day? You can always start tomorrow. And it’s true, you can always start tomorrow, but if you’re waiting for motivation or courage, or confidence to get started then you will never begin.

As amazing as your ideas are, nothing happens if you don’t get yourself up and moving. 

You’re never going to feel like doing the scary stuff–the stuff that requires learning new skills that intimidate you like taking control of your finances or learning the dynamics of solid SEO skills. You will always only feel motivated to do the things that are easy and that feel good. But I’m sorry to tell you that is not the way to success. 

Successful people show up and do the work even when they aren’t motivated or sure what will happen. They understand that it’s more important to be consistent than to be motivated or confident. They just keep on keepin on.

Breathwork for Hesitation

When you feel a strong urge to move on something and hesitate, your brain starts to rationalize all the reasons why you are right for hesitating. You can train yourself to act by utilizing Mel Robbins 5 Second rule, or you can turn to your breath. 

Whenever I have a big decision to make I sit down on my mat and breathe. I ask for clarity and do alternate nostril breathing, balancing out the two hemispheres of my brain so I can get in tune with my inner knowing. Using that knowledge–that gut feeling that my heart is leading me to do–I can easily begin down a road without hesitation. Now having a foundation of trust within my heart. 

Intuitively I always know which way I want to go, but when I hesitate doubt will have me sitting in limbo for far too long. Alternate nostril breathing has helped push that mind-chatter out, leaving me clear and concise on the direction I need to go. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Find a comfortable seat on a meditation pillow.
  • Be sure you are sitting with a nice straight spine, shoulders rolled back and down, with your chin slightly tucked. 
  • Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath.
  • Ask yourself: Why am I hesitating on this decision?
  • Place your right hand in a pranayama mudra (fancy hand placement) by tucking your first two fingers into the palm of your hand, allowing the ring and pinky to remain as straight as possible. 
  • Bring your right thumb up to plug your right nostril and inhale for 4 seconds starting through the left nostril only. 
  • Use your ring and pinky figures to pinch the left nostril as you hold your breath.
  • Release your thumb from the right side and exhale for 4 seconds. 
  • Stay here and inhale into your right nostril for 4 seconds.
  • Pinch your thumb to your right nostril while holding your breath.
  • Release your ring and pinky fingers and exhale 4 seconds out of your left nostril.
  • You have completed 1 full round. 
  • Repeat these steps for 5-10 more rounds to find balance and clarity.

However you decide to work on your habit of hesitation is fine. We all have different ways of moving into clarity. The reality is that there is more information in this world and choices to be made than you have time for. So decide what is the right path for you and then get out of your way so you can do the work. 

Doubt will always be there, but it doesn’t need to be behind the wheel. Take control of your life by moving into a place of action and see how quickly things begin to change. 

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know how alternate nostril breathing is working for your decision-making or what other tips and tricks you use to help beat the hesitation within you. 

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. 

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.

The Connection Between Breathwork & Cold Exposure

Reset Your Nervous System by Doing This Chilling Practice

If you’re paying attention to the breathwork community at all then you’ve no doubt heard of Wim Hof. Better known as the Ice Man, this multiple world record winner has a passion for life and turned his own healing into a powerful method used around the world today. 

If you’re looking for a simple and effective way to boost your immune system, then look no further than this chilling therapy technique. 

The Wim Hof Method (WHM) uses cold exposure to trigger your sympathetic nervous system. Then you use your breath to calm it back into a parasympathetic state. While your mind races your blood slows. The temperature drop in the body puts your nervous system on high alert; focusing on your breath, you learn to control the experience. Once out of the cold your body starts pushing blood out to the extremities and inflammation is reduced. 

The release of adrenalin has been a huge draw for admirers worldwide who are also finding relief from auto-immune disorders, inflammation, injury, and blood circulation. 

An experience that sounds uncomfortable becomes euphoric through your own self-regulation. 

Controlling your core temperature and your breath helps drop you out of the constant mind-chatter we find ourselves in and into our bodies that we are all so disconnected from. 

Why You Should Do It

By exposing yourself to this extreme discomfort for a short amount of time other things begin to shift inside. 

  • You find that using your breath to calm yourself under this immediate threat helps you strengthen your ability to handle stressful situations. 
  • You find your endurance and patience are more accessible through breathwork used to calm the mind. 
  • You find your body temperature is more regulated and that a sudden shift in temperature doesn’t feel so scary anymore. 

The results: more energy and lower stress the natural way. Something pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to hear, but it’s true. Popping a pill for discomfort in our mind and body is sometimes necessary and helpful, but if you’re looking for long-term support– the more natural way– this approach helps you connect to a deeper mind-body connection. Drugs separate us from our bodies. They don’t take away the pain, they disconnect you from it. This detachment only leads to more detachment and more pain down the road. 

A year ago I finally took the leap. After months of avoiding The Hof-Man, thinking no way and that he was too macho for my taste, I gave in and I haven’t looked back since. 

You might be wondering, What does the WHM look like? Here’s a simple breakdown of what to expect. 

Breathing

1. Get comfortable – you can either perform the method in a seated or lying position. If you’re new to breathwork I recommend lying down. Be sure your head is flat, with no pillow or support so you can breathe fully.

2. Perform 30-50 deep breaths. Inhale and exhale through the mouth. Inhale as far as possible, and then release the air without exhaling fully. Don’t take a pause between the inhales and the exhales. This might cause a tingling sensation; that’s normal.

3. After the last deep inhale, exhale all the air out and hold your breath with no air in your lungs, for 1 minute, or until you experience the gasp reflex. 

4. Take a deep breath, inhaling fully, and hold your breath again, but this time only for 15-30 seconds.

5. Repeat the first four steps 2-4 times.

6. After that you will return to your normal breath and start meditating on it. Try for at least five minutes focusing your attention on your breath. 

Cold Therapy

Your breath is now warmed up and you are ready to go. 

You can start training at home in your shower. I like to get in and get the water going at a comfortable temp first. Then I go from cold to hot for 20 seconds each. At least 3 rounds. 

You are in control here so you can start with just exposing a leg at a time, then your arms, and build up to full immersion. 

Or you can just go for it.

I am not great at cold showers and prefer the full immersion of an ice bath or a nice alpine lake. This version doesn’t allow for any cheating on my part and I’m all in. 

You will most likely find the initial shock to cause some hyperventilation to occur. Here’s where you focus back on deep breaths. Allow your body to shake and concentrate on calming your core. 

It takes practice to get out of your head, but the deeper your breath the calmer your mind will become. 

By doing this you are strengthening the small muscles around your veins. When these muscles are working your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body. 

We all know that our true character comes through in times of stress and discomfort. And we humans do not like to be exposed and vulnerable, yet it is inevitable for growth to accrue. The WHM is one way to train yourself to be ready for these life stressors and help you to grow with more ease because you are comfortable in the discomfort.

The renewed sense of empowerment you get every time you get out of the cold is also good for your self-esteem. Again and again, you prove that you can do hard things, and stay in control when things get tough. 

I suggest heading over to youtube and check out one of Wim’s videos. He is dynamic and crazy, and you can’t help but love the guy. 

Give it a go, and when you’re ready to try an ice bath let me know and I’ll put you on my waiting list for my next Breath, Mindset, & Cold Exposure Workshop.

Note: for safety, don’t perform this technique while driving or in the bath (or anywhere else you might pass out). Also, consult a doctor if you’re pregnant or have another medical condition, to check if this approach is suitable.

Change Your Breath, Change Your Mindset

Change the way you see the world one breath at a time.

From your first breath when you are born, to your last exhale when you leave this world, you are habitually breathing. It happens automatically and without thought. But what happens when you become aware of your breath? 

There are profound healing effects that can take place when you move to a conscious practice of breathing. 

  • You begin to see patterns 
  • You begin to release blockages
  • You begin to find more clarity of thought
  • You feel more in touch with yourself and your surroundings
  • You nourish your body from the inside
  • You increase blood flow
  • You calm the nervous system

Your breath is an amazing and under-utilized power that we are all born with. Taking small steps daily to consciously connect to that source can change your whole perspective. 

Change Your Breath, Change Your Mindset

Most of us, most of the time, are walking around breathing fast and shallow. Thus our thoughts and actions become short and shallow. Why? Because where the breath goes the mind flows.

When you are breathing shallow it’s much easier to be triggered by your surroundings. Think about the last time you were sad, mad, or angry with someone. Feel it in your body. What happens? Your chest tightens and you can feel your breath pump fast and shallow. This is natural. This is what naturally happens in these high-intensity states. The problem is many of us are living in this state all the time. 

Slowing your breath down by consciously taking deeper inhales and longer exhales creates an immediate shift internally. This is why when a child is on the verge of a breakdown we calmly guide them to breathe. Why? Because this slows the mind. Your breath and your mind are like two peas in a pod. 

2 Peas in a Pod

Let’s think about this. When your mind starts to spin into a negative thought pattern your heart rate goes up and your breathing gets more short. Hence, your breath simply follows orders from the brain. And it works the other way too! When you notice that you are in a negative spiral you can, at that moment, make a conscious effort to slow your breath. Instantly your brain will take the queue and slow down too. Once you understand this it’s easy to start to see the link between your breathing patterns and your mindset.

Mindset and the Breath

Breathwork is the gateway to meditation. Whether or not you are someone who meditates or is interested in meditation you most likely have some thoughts built around it. Perhaps you think it’s hard or that you don’t have time for it. You can say the same for breathwork. It’s so easy that it’s hard to remember to take time to dedicate to it. This is where mindset begins. You can begin by dedicating 5 minutes a day to sitting and consciously noticing your breath. 

That’s it. 

Five minutes.

Let your whole mind be in tune with only your inhales and your exhales. 

Soon you will find that you’re craving more than 5 minutes because you will start to notice things shifting inside of you. 

  • Your outside world will begin to reflect on situations in a much broader and clearer way. 
  • You will feel less like a victim to your circumstances and your mindset of life and your connection to it will be altered. 
  • You will notice addictive thoughts and behaviors and use breathwork as a tool to break free from those habits. 
  • You will create space for change to occur that leads you to insights you couldn’t see before. 

We all have a certain amount of trauma we carry around and we all hold a certain amount of shame around that trauma. Your mindset around these situations can be altered by breathing through the pain buried in your body because of it. Once light has been shown to it, you can begin unlayering that pain and shame. 

When you actively change your breathing patterns so too are you changing your thought patterns. 

Mindset work comes naturally when you are consciously breathing. In this type of meditation, your breath reveals to you your triggers and ways to set through them to heal. 

Release

Our thought patterns are shaped by every experience we have. As we age we see examples of our thoughts reflected back to us in all our relationships. We are wired to pick up and see things that mesh with our deep-rooted beliefs. This can be great, but it can also be toxic. 

For instance, if your Mother didn’t show you love as a child, you would have a deep rooted feeling around Moms being distant or unloving. Then, throughout your life, you would pick up on examples of this everywhere you went. Your mind would be completely closed off from the thousand of models that suggested otherwise. 

Breathwork helps break through these hard anchored thought patterns. They are uncomfortable at times, as all growth is, but your mindset will begin to alter and you will start to notice examples of loving mothers all around you. 

This kind of mindset work can only happen when you make the effort to do the work. Breathwork is just one way to walk that path. 

Spirituality and Love

Insights found while consciously breathing help you to see and maintain a healthy love for yourself and your body. This is the ultimate key to finding your true self. Once on that path, your mindset will be your spiritual teacher. You will begin to notice that every time you get up from a breath session that you have new clarity and insight. You might even find yourself linking up with new opportunities and people that before you hadn’t even noticed were there. 

The world is in a funky spot and people everywhere are struggling. Disconnected from each other and ultimately from themselves. We are on so many prescription drugs that numb us from our minds and bodies. It’s hard to find healing in a world like that. 

Using your breath to release old ways of thinking allows your mind to tap into something more authentic within yourself. 

Mindset and Clarity

Slowing your breath and your mind is not only good for your mental health, but it helps you find clarity in your thoughts as well. The deeper you breathe the deeper your awareness becomes. This helps you to be more present in a stressful situation without the risk of a freakout. Clarity helps remind you that we are all connected through our breath. That you can alter someone’s energy by slowing your breath or give in to their energy by raising your breath. The choice really is yours. Because of the high-stress world we live in it’s easy to think that brain fog is normal and anger is just something we all experience. But breathwork helps you to tune into something greater. Something more profound and much more energizing. 

Breath is your life force. As your breath becomes deeper and centered so to will your thoughts. Your mindset can be altered to create powerful positive changes in your life and the lives of those around you, and you hold the tools inside of you to make it happen.

Breath and Belonging

Using your Breath to find True Belonging

We are at a crossroads in our society. It appears that everyone is stretched between the desperate need to fit in and belong and the deep inner knowing that sets them apart. We are presented with so much information on a daily basis that it’s hard to focus on any one thing and find our own place of belonging. True belonging can’t be bought or earned. True belonging is belonging to yourself. And your breath can guide you to that inner peace. 

Keeping up with the Jones is a part of your heritage. Every ad you see tells you that your life will be better if you use this product or buy this thing. 

And you fall for it!

You try to break free from these chains and then end up losing yourself in being anti-whatever. But that’s not you either. This is a real problem. This constant looking outside of yourself while knowing the answers remains buried inside your soul. 

Inward motion

Looking inside is scary. It means you are taking responsibility for what you find. There’s no one else to blame when you’re dealing with yourself. There’s no easy framework or how-to guide that helps lay a foundation for where that story goes. And that is freakin scary!

You have been raised in a society that has told you time and time again that vulnerability is bad and shameful. A society that has told you that what you think and feel might not be right. That you should look to an outside source for the answers. Looking to those around you to see what the standard is. 

We keep each other bound by the expectations of our neighbors and friends. We want to appear that all is okay even if we are dying on the inside. This is apparent now more than ever. 

All the choices you’re presented with on a daily basis are paralyzing. With so many directions laid out before you, how could you possibly choose? And what if you chose wrong?

Consumption of information is killing our creative thinking. 

We have no way of knowing what is real or not. 

  • Is something real because you read it on the Internet? 
  • Is it real because your teacher told you? 
  • Is it true because you were raised to believe it? 

Everything you believe to be true or not can be debunked and belittled by someone. So how do you know what to believe and where to turn for guidance?

The short answer: There is no road map.

You must discern for yourself what resonates with your soul. What feels right and brings you peace. No one else can do that for you. No one else should. You must connect to your inner knowing and that is how you belong. 

Belonging

The incomparable Brene Brown has a mantra, “I belong to me.”

When I first heard her say this in an interview with Lewis Howes on the School of Greatness podcast it just hit. Like so much of Brene’s work, it resonates truth. It felt uncomfortable and was hard to sit with because it means I have work to do. 

You have work to do.

There are so many educators out there that can help guide you to a place of belonging. It is your job to find the ones that resonate with you. Not because it’s what you want to hear but because the message feels like growth and understanding. One of the fastest and easiest ways to connect to others is to first find a connection within yourself. That takes work.

You’re not going to find any system outside of yourself that is a perfect fit, but you will find guides and teachers on a similar path that can point you in the right direction so you can continue to belong to yourself. 

Once you belong to yourself you will be comfortable being uncomfortable. Using your breath you can break through the chains of uncertainty and lack. You can breathe into a life of abundance because you will feel at ease in your skin. 

Breathing

The reason your breath is a powerful guide is that it is the connection between the inner and outer world. It gives you a focus that allows you to shut out the external with time and practice. Awakening you to a deeper connection to self because you are inside. Breathing into sensations you haven’t felt and subtly moving energy around opens you up to yourself. To a deep knowing of what is the right path for you. 

The struggles remain. You still have to decide to breathe through challenging situations and conversations. Life is still going to offer an endless stream of information that changes daily. The difference is that now you have a tool to guide you into discernment. A tool that can be used to help you clarify and identify your true nature to yourself. 

You belong to yourself. Your breath belongs to you, it is a gift you share with the world. Because at the end of the day we are all connected, so it is impossible to not belong. At the end of the day, you get to decide and create your own path. This is an awesome responsibility that breaks you free from lack and into true belonging. 

Breath Practice

One of my favorite breathing practices is Heart Coherent Breathing. It is so simple that it is often overlooked. But as we know sometimes the simplest things are the most challenging to do. 

  • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, or if on a chair move away from any back support so you can have a straight spine. Plant your feet on the floor, a hip-width distance apart.
  • Round your shoulders back and let your chest feel open.
  • Tuck your chin slightly.
  • Soften or close your eyes.
  • Bring your attention to your breath. Make no effort to change your breath pattern, simply notice it.
  • Begin to slow the breath by inhaling to the count of 5, and exhaling to the count of 5.
  • Bring your attention to the inhale. Feel the breath flow in through your heart center. 
  • Exhale and notice the breath leaving your heart center. 
  • Do 10 rounds of breathing like this, focused on your heart. If it feels good you can place your hands over your heart to help keep your focus and attention there. 
  • After 10 rounds or so let the 5×5 pattern go and continue to breathe with ease keeping your attention inside. 

This simple and effective practice can be done anytime day or night for clarity. I recommend starting by just practicing the steps above. After you feel more comfortable keeping your attention internal and your breath and heart you can add a question for clarity or intention. You will be amazed at the things your heart and breath begin to open up to you in these subtle moments when you truly belong to yourself. 

Continuing to Breathe through this ongoing pandemic

A year and a half in and still we struggle to breathe

How are you handling all your big pandemic feelings? Are you still using caution? Or do you find the summer sun and great outdoors has you hiding less and less behind a mask? New variants are using the summer travel season to make their way around our great nation and it appears no one is showing up to help you breathe through this pulmonary attack!

Frustration continues to rise all around. Everyone has a strong opinion about EVERYTHING!

  • To get vaccinated or not 
  • To wear masks or not 
  • To Travel or not 
  • To live with caution or throw it to the wind
  • To trust or not trust our medical system
  • To believe science or not 

No matter where you stand on these issues, the only truth I see is that they are all here to stay. At least for the unforeseen future. 

Truthfully I’m nervous about this fall. I see spikes starting to happen all around me. As someone who helps people to breathe, I find the attack on our lungs to be a huge problem. 

The Nose is for Breathing, The Mouth is for Eating

Your nose is the amazing filter built right into your body. When you breathe through your nose you are filtering out harmful toxins in the environment. Your nasal cavity also produces nitric oxide (NO). NO increases blood flow through your lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. When you breathe through your nose NO goes directly into your lungs. Breathing through the nose produces higher oxygen into your bloodstream and helps you feel healthier and have more endurance and the ability to fight off more disease. 

We are terrible about breathing through our noses. Many are breathing through their mouths and taking in toxins that should be filtered out. Our mouths are made to take in and absorb, so this creates a real problem. 

The role of nitric oxide in the body

NO is a natural gas produced by almost every cell in your body and has three principal actions.

  1. Dilates the pulmonary arteries and increases blood flow through the lungs
  2. Dilates the airways and increases oxygen delivered to the lungs and blood
  3. Inhibits the growth and spread of disease in the lungs. 

There is a belief that NO has a direct antiviral effect. You can read more about that here.

View your nose as your first line of defense against any toxins floating through your environment. Your nasal cavity is filtering them out. When you breathe through your mouth you are inviting everything in your environment in.

The best thing you can do to help you stay as healthy and safe as possible during this pandemic is to practice breathing through your nose. It truly is a powerful way to fight off a viral infection.

Breathing in a Mask

Masks are making our breathing worse! More and more people are training themselves to breathe through their mouths once the mask goes on. They have a false belief that the mask is preventing them from breathing. This might only have some truth if the mask you are wearing is cotton. But surgical masks are 100% breathable. 

I know a lot of people who hate wearing anything that fits closely around their necks. They feel as though the turtleneck or choker necklace is physically restricting their breath. This isn’t true, but it’s a common feeling. The same goes for wearing a mask. We see it as restrictive because it is (hopefully) covering both our natural breathing devices. 

The truth is most of us have a CO2 (carbon dioxide) deficiency issue. The air isn’t being limited to you with a mask on, but you might tend to not breathe as deeply or you might start to panic decrease the amount of gas in your blood (CO2), causing you to feel lightheaded and short of breath. Your brain starts to think “I can’t breathe!” But you can, you just need to take a nice deep inhale through your nose and calm your nervous system down.

Try and see your mask as a training device. Every time you put in on you can work on consciously breathing. Inhaling in the nose and exhaling out the mouth. 

You can adjust to breathing in a mask by playing a game

One trick I like to do when I realize I’m mouth breathing in my mask is to close my mouth and do this trick. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling out the mouth. I feel like I can breathe more naturally this way. 

You can also play a game with yourself in lines. I consciously breathe in and out through the nose while in line at the grocery store. I like to guess how many rounds of breath it will take before I get to the cashier. You can also add a count in and out as you go. Inhaling for a 5 count, exhaling for a 5 count.

Home Alone

When you are in your home and safe from all the toxins of the outside world, work on consciously breathing in and out through the nose. Get in the habit of strengthening this filter so you can better protect yourself against disease while out and about in the world. 

Your nose is designed to help ward off disease, so help your system along and practice breathing in and out through your nose.

The deeper you breathe the more oxygen and blood flow to all your cells. This helps to aid in keeping you healthy and fit. 5 minutes of conscious breathing a day can make a huge impact on how you survive this pandemic. 

When Life Moves You Out of Alignment, Take a Step Back & Breathe

The Benefits of Breathing into Alignment

In order to live an authentic life, we must be in alignment. Meaning our outward actions must be in agreement with our inward intentions. Conscious breathing is a great way to line up the inner and the outer world. 

We spend so much of our existence seeking answers and things outside of us. This throws our system out of alignment. It starts subtly and ends up reflecting back to us images and lifestyles that we don’t even relate to. Following your breath is a significant way to guide yourself back into alignment. 

Breathwork offers effective techniques so you can…

  • Manage intense emotions 
  • Show up authentically in your life
  • Make inspired decisions
  • Feel calm
  • Improve your sleep quality
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Increase mental and emotional resilience
  • Balance energy levels

We all go through times in our life when things aren’t going well. Where every move we make seems off. You are probably aware that your alignment is off, but can’t quite figure out how to nudge it back to the right place. Simple and effective breathing is a great tool to use anytime you’re feeling off. 

Balancing the nervous system is one of the many benefits of breathwork. Helping you to identify the areas in your life that are out of alignment in your evolutionary experience. 

Below are 3 breathing exercises to help you breathe your way back into alignment. 

Balanced Breathing

Balanced Breathing is performed by breathing in and out in equal parts. 

  1. Begin by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor. Or, if you prefer, lying down. Be sure legs are not crossed, but you may like them elevated. 
  2. Close your eyes and bring your attention to the tip of your nose. Notice the natural rhythm of your breath.
  3. After a few rounds of natural breathing, begin to slowly count to 4 or 5 as you inhale.
  4. Take a moment at the top of the inhale before slowly counting out to 4 or 5 as you exhale.
  5. Take a moment at the bottom of the exhale before returning to the inhale
  6. Continue in this pattern, breathing in and out slowly to the same count with a pause at both the top and bottom of each breath.

By breathing in and out in equal time you are balancing out the nervous system. This helps bring you up if you’re feeling low and helps guide you down if you are too anxious. 

Balance is the key to many breathing practices. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Another great example of equal part breathing that helps nudge us back into alignment is Alternate Nostril Breathing. In this pattern, you will breathe in and out through alternating nostrils.

Before getting into the technique, let’s chat about hand placement. 

  • Look at your right hand and fold the first two fingers (the pointer and middle) into the palm.
  • Use your pinky to help guide the ring figure up to your best degree.
  • Your hand will look similar to the hang loose hand gesture. 
  • Keeping your hand in this mudra you will perform the technique.

This is best done sitting in a comfortable seated position. Either on the floor or in a chair with your feet firmly placed on the floor and your back free from support.

  1. Place your left hand on your left knee.
  2. Exhale completely and bring your right hand up to your nose, closing the right nostril with your thumb.
  3. Inhale through your left nostril and pinch both nostrils closed at the top of the inhale.
  4. Open your right nostril by removing your thumb and exhale out the right nostril only.
  5. Stay here and inhale in the right nostril while your ring and pinky finger press closed the left.
  6. Pinch both nostrils at the top of the inhale.
  7. Release your ring and pinky finger and exhale out the left. 
  8. That is one round. 
  9. Continue in this cycle for 10 rounds or 5 minutes. Always ending the practice by exhaling out the left nostril.

Focus on keeping your breath slow, smooth, and continuous; nothing labored.

Abdominal Hollowing

Abdominal hollowing is the more active of the three described here. I recommend doing this one laying down so you don’t overwork your back muscles while actively pushing out the breath.

  1. Lie on your back with the souls of your feet planted about hip-width distance apart.
  2. Begin breathing in a slow and controlled manner.
  3. After a few rounds, activate the breath by deeply breathing in for a five-count.
  4. Exhale all the air out of your lungs as you push your belly button all the way back towards your spine. There is no count on the exhale, but it should be at least 2 to 3 counts longer than the inhale.
  5. With your abdominal area completely hollowed out, hold empty for 5 counts.
  6. Repeat this cycle of a triangle (breathing, inhale, exhale, hold) for 10 rounds or roughly 3 minutes.
  7. After the last active round, go back to your natural breathing pattern before moving on.

Abdominal hollowing works into your underworked deep abdominal muscles. Making it beneficial for those suffering from lower back pain. As an option, you can drape something over your belly to add extra pressure to the exhale. This is helpful because it assists in flushing out all the stagnant air trapped at the bottom of your lungs. A pillow, yoga block, or light sandbag all work great. 

Taking the time to breathe consciously as a daily practice has the power to move your life from a place of chaos to one aligned to your inner calling. 

We All Face Challenges

Working with all kinds of people in helping them reconnect to their breath, I have come to understand that these simple breathing patterns can have a profound impact on one’s life. Like meditation, it gives you an opportunity to let go of the mind-chatter and reflect within. 

I cannot tell you the number of times students come up to me and thank me for helping them to sleep better or breathe through a difficult emotion. Although it is a true honor to share these practices, I did nothing to help them that they couldn’t do on their own. 

Sometimes getting in alignment means having someone like me to guide you through the work. Giving you an opportunity to sink deep into a practice while a guide does all the counting, observing, and keeps you on track. This is part of re-connecting to your alignment. 

If you are interested in going deeper with your breath practice I am here to assist. Contact me at mary@heart-lightstudios.com to find out more. 

How the conversations in our head can falsely shape our worldview.

The Story You Tell Yourself Shapes All Your Interactions

Every day you play through a list of stories about your relationships, your job, your family, how you see the world, and how others see you. This self-talk has the power to cast doubt about your value and others you interact with. Some of these stories you’ve been telling yourself for so long that finding a bridge out of them seems impossible. 

You are human and you are a good person –a person with flaws who’s made mistakes, but nothing too crazy. You are worthy of love and forgiveness. And if you believe this is true about yourself then wouldn’t it make sense that others feel this way about themselves too? Yet we hold others to these high standards of unforgivable actions that they did or said five maybe ten years ago. Since then they have grown, just like you. 

The stories you tell yourself about other people or situations in your life trap you and them into a past identity that might not even be true.

Let’s say you had a conversation with your boss three years ago where you felt disrespected. Since then you have been playing a story in your head about what happened. Then every time you need to meet with her you have in your mind that it’s not going to go well and she’s going to say something to offend you and you begin to wonder if you should even bother bringing it up. In your mind, it’s clear she doesn’t like you anyway.

All of this might only be true in your head. In your boss’s mind, she might have just been commenting on a project as a matter of fact, and it was you who took offense to it. Not her being offensive. She might have noticed that over the years you have been cold with her and it’s been reflecting in your work. Then the story she begins to tell herself is that you are an uninterested employee and she begins to treat you as such. Passing you over for promotions and opportunities. 

Two stories from two minds spawning from one conversation. 

We are all a Collection of Stories

We all have a history of events that have shaped our lives. To you, a friend canceling your dinner date might spring up thoughts of getting left behind in the lunchroom at school. This is your story, not the truth. To your friend, who’s canceling, the story might be that his anxiety is too much and he’s certain it’s a courtesy dinner you didn’t want to go on anyway. 

Communication is so important because we are often unclear about the story someone is telling themselves. 

It’s important for each of us to remember that we are the thinker of our thoughts, but we are not our thoughts. 

We think things that aren’t true all the time. Very often we know they aren’t true but get stuck in a loop based on past beliefs about ourselves, the world, and those whose behavior we know so well. 

Once you become aware of these stories you can begin challenging them. I don’t mean replacing the negative with positive or finding the silver lining. No, I’m talking about finding ways to make peace with the story so it no longer has control over your life. This can be done by trying to see things from the other perspective. 

A lot of our self-talk is negative and assumes the worst about other’s intentions. How many times have you known the way a conversation was going to go before you even had it? This is because you are looking for those signs and clues that prove your story is true. 

Challenging your stories

What if you decided to share with others the story you tell yourself? This might sound scary, and it can be. But here’s the rub…

The stories you tell yourself that keep you trapped in negative self beliefs about your worthiness of love are having a profound effect on your body. 

The power of your thoughts can literally show you a future that is worthy of you or trap you into a life you don’t even want to wake up to. Your thoughts shape your environment and how you interact with the world. 

When your story is seen from the lens of 

  • Discomfort
  • Everyone out to get you
  • Your belief that you are not worthy of more

Then that is what you get. These thoughts end up harboring space in your body. 

When you feel attacked, or scared, or misunderstood, your body is acting from a fight or flight response. It’s impossible for you to digest food, sleep, or allow your heart to open to love when you are stuck here. This, in turn, brings on inflammation in the body because you are not processing food, or nourishing the body with rest. You become tight and rigid. Your back starts to hurt, your shoulders get tense, and the issues start to compound. 

What are the stories you’re telling yourself that are unhealthy?

  • That you aren’t smart because of the time in second grade you were humiliated at the school spelling B.
  • That you are ugly because of teasing from the girls in middle school.
  • That you are unworthy of love because your heart got broken in 10th grade.
  • That you can’t hold down a job because you changed careers at 27 and 32.
  • That you are camera shy because you wear a size 16.
  • That your opinion doesn’t matter because it’s unpopular.
  • That you don’t deserve money because you didn’t go to college.

What is the root of your story? And is it worth holding onto as truth? Ask yourself: what’s the benefit of staying with these stories?

The truth is most of us can remember an insult thrown at us in elementary school from some kid whose name we can’t even remember, but don’t hear all the compliments showered in our direction daily. 

It’s a matter of what you chose to focus on. 

Breathwork is a great tool for shifting that focus. It offers an opportunity to step outside the clutter in our mind, stop the stories in their tracks, and begin a new conversation. 

Because most of our self-talk is negative and because this negative self-talk pushes our nervous system into the fight or flight mood, I recommend starting by lowering your heart rate variability (HRV). This helps your nervous system to be balanced and flexible. This can be accomplished by slow mindful breathing, which lowers the number of heartbeats per minute and guides you into a rest and digest state. 

5×5 Breathing. 

This coherent breathing pattern is great for slowing your thoughts and helping you feel more relaxed. 

  • Start by sitting in a comfortable seated position or laying flat on your back. If you are in a chair, move your back away from any support and place your feet hip-width apart and plant them onto the floor. 
  • Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds.
  • Notice the natural pause at the top of the inhale.
  • Exhale through the nose for 5 seconds.
  • Notice the natural pause at the bottom of the exhale.
  • Repeat this cycle for 3-5 minutes or a minimum of 10 rounds. 

After you go through this simple and effective breathing pattern, review the story you’re currently obsessing over and see if you can approach it from a calmer state. Look for the best-case scenario. They must be believable to you, but this is where the work begins; when your body is relaxed and your mind is clear.

Journey into the Slow Mindful World of Yoga

My incredible journey towards finding my breath

Take your practice to the next level with breathwork

Hot, sweaty, fast-paced vinyasa classes fill up all day every day. It’s clear why. When you’re moving your body and raising your heartbeat you can feel the workout aspect of your yoga practice. It feels good to sweat it out, but it’s not the only way to practice yoga. In fact, very often a slower more mindful practice is the key to a deeper connection with self. 

When I started on my yoga journey over six years ago, I had a very different idea of what I was getting into. I thought the more sweat the better. I believed that forcing my body into a variety of binds was the goal. I didn’t consider myself a real practitioner because I couldn’t do a headstand. Then one day I accidentally found myself in a yin class. I was immediately attracted to the slow steady holds. Grateful for the opportunity to focus on my breath and actively use it to work into the shape. As I laid in Shavasana at the end of the hour I knew I had stumbled upon something special. 

Slow movement connecting first with the breath

It became clear over the following year that the yoga high I was chasing was my breath. What really attracted me about yin was the gift of diving inward using my breath to explore my body. In my regular yoga classes, there’s a lot of talk about breath, but I constantly found it to be treated as more of an afterthought. As someone who struggles with identifying her right from her left, I found the teachers’ instructions to be too fast for my twisted body to follow. I would lose my breath constantly and stumble along the way. 

Yin helped me realize that the world of yoga is much bigger than a hot, fast and sweaty practice; and I was hooked. 

Once my eyes were opened to the power of breath, I began to find new doors to help guide me further. Before long I was practicing Kundalini a couple of times a week and meditating every morning. 

This encouraged me to get others involved as I opened up to the experience. I had a message for the world. This secret world within the walls of Hatha yoga that no one was talking about. I started inviting everyone I knew to come to try this breath-focused practice. It was common to hear people make statements about not being flexible enough to do yoga. I kept going back to this idea that is common in our collective mind that… 

  • Yoga is for the flexible
  • Yoga is sweaty
  • Yoga is hard
  • Yoga is for the young
  • Yoga is for a certain body type

I understood this pushback because I had felt this too. 

Moments of zen bring mindfulness

The Journey into Breath Begins

I began to ask my teachers more about the breath and where I could go to learn about it? No one really had an answer. I finally asked one of my teachers if she knew of any breathwork classes and she said she’d never heard of such a thing, explaining that all yoga is breathwork. This drove me to dive deeper: if all yoga is breathwork why is it treated as an afterthought? I decided to become a yoga teacher and start introducing others to more subtle, slow, mindful yoga, using the breath as the focus. 

Determined to identify and assist those, like me, who were looking for something more mindful, I continued my journey into breath by becoming a breathcoach. Leading me further down the path of true transformation. Not only educating myself on the subtle joys of conscious breathing, but learning the powerful science behind it. 

Working at a hot yoga studio I sometimes feel like a second-rate teacher because I don’t teach Hatha or Vinyasa. They seem to be the classes that everyone is gravitating to, yet I have zero desire to teach that kind of yoga. When I show up on my mat I am looking to go deep within. I’m looking to practice a moving meditation. As I twist and turn I want to move slowly, feeling every move along the way. I want to breathe through the tension, not rush to my final expression. 

Busy Vinyasa classes will twist you up and spit you out.

These yoga practices are beneficial, and I encourage you to try them out. Perhaps you find, like me, that you are not attracted to the fast pace feel of these intense workouts. Come give subtle, slow, mindful yoga and breathwork a try. Big impact awaits those willing to breathe through the discomfort and come out whole on the other side. 

The World of Slow, Mindful Practice is on the Rise

My classes continue to grow as I become more focused on the breath. Everyone is looking for a deeper connection to self and a way to heal from the inside. Utilizing a more slow, mindful practice is key. Learning how to balance your nervous system and optimize your brain through the breath is something we all have access to. The flexibility required is only in your mind, which is sometimes harder to accomplish and 10 times more rewarding. 

It’s amazing to watch students who’ve been practicing for years jump leaps and bounds by switching their focus to their breath. I love hearing about all the ways breath continues to transform people’s lives on and off the mat. Just last week a student excitedly shared with me that she ran her first 5k that morning without stopping once. Proclaiming “This breath stuff really works!”

Breath has helped me find meaning in my existence and it is becoming my privilege to share what I’ve learned with you. Where this journey will take me next I don’t know, but I do know my breath will continue to guide that experience in an ever-present flow of giving and receiving.