The Dreaded Feeling of Being Completely at the Mercy of Someone You Love

Lessons in Love and Letting People Be

One of the most challenging experiences in life is to watch someone you love go through hardship. You may have all the right tools to help them, but it is they who must pick up the information and be open to receiving it. Allowing loved ones to walk their own path is HARD! After all, heartbreak is one of the many costs of love.

Parents are incredible. They watch as these tiny adorable beings grow and develop into teenage monsters desperate to find an identity separate from everything you’ve taught them. Sure they remain your precious angel and help develop you into a better, more patient human, but you do it at the cost of watching your heart walk around outside of yourself forever. 

I am not going to pretend that I understand such awesome love, but I do know what it’s like to feel helpless at the mercy of someone you love. 

My dad and I have never viewed the world through the same lens. We have always been at odds with how to live life. At some point, my dad quit arguing and just relied on his famous saying, “Live and learn, Mary. Live and learn.” to which I would roll my eyes. 

I can only imagine how hard this has been for him. His well-meant guidance was so often completely ignored. And yet, he loves and accepts me still. 

Don’t get me wrong, we have an awesome relationship. Heck, I gave the man a kidney! Our differences have helped us both to grow and learn and become, I think, better humans. 

Shifting Roles

At some point, if you’re lucky enough to make it to mid-life with your parents still alive, the roles you play in each other’s life start to shift. 

Not to say that my dad doesn’t still have well-meant advice for me to ignore, but now I too get to watch helplessly as he ignores the knowledge I have to share. 

The circle of life is incredible and sad. One day you’re just a kid – carefree not thinking that your actions affect anyone, and the next day you’re 45 and wishing you had taken that well-meant advice. 

Perhaps if you had, he’d be listening to your advice today. 

My dad has lived a very structured life in all areas outside of his health. And because of these choices, he spends a lot of time and money supporting a body that has failed him. 

It was no surprise when he was rushed to the hospital last week unable to calm a fast-beating heart. He lost his breath completely and spent two days trying to recover his breath.

The entire focus of my business is helping others to breathe.

This is actually what I do. Daily. I help people to transform their lives and take hold of their health by developing a strong mindful breath practice. And here is my dad, unable to breathe.

This is maddening!

With all the resources out there and all the conversations about using your breath to feel into your body that I know would help him, completely ignored!

It’s a reminder that we are all surrounded by resources we are unable or unwilling to see. 

Everyone has something of value to offer you, but it only works if you are willing to listen and learn. Just like my dad so lovingly showed me the door to a mainstream life, it was up to me to decide to walk through that door, but I chose to keep it locked. Now it is me knocking at a locked door wondering why he chooses to not listen to reason. 

Allowing others to be and accepting them for who they are despite all their flaws. This is love. This is torture. This is one part of the journey. 

Reflections

The cycle of worry continues as my dad makes his way back home with all good intentions to take better care of his health. To work on his breathing, to walk more, to eat better, and to get off diet soda. And I will be there to offer him the advice and support that I can. 

But I too am human, flawed, and know how hard it is to change, even with the best of intentions behind me. Just as he has lived allowing me to come to decisions on my own, I too must respect his choices along his journey. And we will continue to love each other and support each other despite it all. 

This is what my life is about. This is what led me to find my breath in the first place. All we can do is be living examples of our values and try to allow others to be an example of theirs. At the end of the day, who wants to live in a world where everyone agrees with them and sees things the same way? There is no growth in that. There is no way of knowing what you value until it is tested. 

This might be the ultimate test of love and compassion. Maybe the ties that bind us to love are there to remind us that we have work to do. That our way isn’t the way for everyone, and that accepting those we love for their differences guides us to offer the same gratitude and understanding for those we don’t know and don’t love. 

Every breath you take is an opportunity to grow, to change, to see things from a new perspective. This I know because if you are still breathing it means you are still alive. 

I invite you to breathe fully into your life. Breathe deep into the dark parts, the hard parts, the unknown, and exhale out the tension you’ve built around them. Shed light onto others by breathing acceptance into your own experience. Then perhaps by pure example, you may find others are releasing their need to control the outcomes of love, and just be in the moment. Grateful for the time you have and awake to the messages of love. 

Discover the One Tool You’re Missing for Complete Personal Transformation

Moving Beyond the Mindset

If you are into personal development then you understand how important mindset work is. It’s really really important. But in order for growth to take flight you need to move beyond the mindset. 

Mindset devolopment helps us identify patterns that hold us back and gives us tools to release these blocks as we expand our thinking around our lives and circumstances. This is important work. It helps us to be better humans and it helps others to be open to seeing a way out of their limiting mindset as well. The more work you do the more you want to share that work with others because you can see the shifts and enjoy the benefits. 

But what if there was a way to create a deeper connection to your transformation? A way to implement sustainable changes in your life with lasting impact?

Along your path inward to deeper understanding you will hit roadblocks and come up against long-held beliefs that are hard and challenging to grow through. It’s perfectly understandable why so many people stop at mindset work and skip the deep cognitive work that takes place in the more subtle aspects of your body. 

In fact, I’d say most people would rather skip the uncomfortable reality of feeling into their body at all. You are given one vessel to guide your spirit through this world, and we spend much of the time obsessing over it and completely ignoring it all in the same breath.

Breathwork is the tool to help you move beyond the mindset and settle into something much more impactful and rewarding. 

From the moment you are born into this world, and into your body, you have your breath to support you and guide you, yet it is often an overlooked asset. Your breath is the super highway between the external and internal worlds we live in. This alone makes breathwork a sustainable tool for complete transformation. 

Breathwork uses your greatest resource as a guide to dive into the root of your limiting beliefs. It has the power to uproot and dislodge stuck energy. Once this stored energy has been released your nervous system has the power to process and remove the buried trauma from your body. 

Unleashing stagnant trauma-filled energy can be challenging and without the support from all the mindset work you have done it could feel impossible to work through. But you do have your mindset work to guide you through the uncomfortable. You understand that on the other side of this pain lies strength, courage, and a happier, healthier life. 

Breathwork moves you beyond the mindset.

No doubt you’ve heard about breathwork. It’s taking the world by storm right now. Every therapist, coach, and yoga teacher is jumping on this trend because YES! Breathwork is the key. As more and more people become aware of the life-changing practices of utilizing your breath effectively, the more mainstream the practices will become. 

If you are looking for a way to move beyond the mindset then look no further than the rapidly growing phenomenon that is breathwork.

Breathwork can release trauma from the body without the painful reality of having to relive the experience. Breathwork does bring up strong emotions, sensations, and images, but it has been known to accomplish in a short time what years of therapy can do. 

Pair this with a solid mindset routine and you are on your way to…

  • Releasing old limiting beliefs about yourself, your income, and your success
  • Attract more of the energy you want to flow through your life
  • Transform your life into a new way of being

Breathwork uses simple and effective breathing patterns to assist you in releasing blocks. Breathwork also allows you space to identify more clearly where in your body you are holding on to trauma and beliefs that you are ready to release. 

It’s time for you to heal, grow, and take that mindset to the next level. So instead of continuing to fill your head with all the latest mindset research that you’ll probably forget anyway, turn towards your breath. Your greatest resource in helping you grow beyond your comfort zone so you can truly take your mindset to new heights. 

Looking for ways to start your breathwork journey? Join me over at Breath Mindset and discover the right path for you. 

3 Breathing Drills for Swimmers to Drop Time Fast

Manage Your Breathing For Better Results

Swimming is a full-body workout that relies heavily on breath control. Whether you are a competitive swimmer or just looking for a way to stay active and in shape, the inhalation of oxygen plays an important role in providing the body with energy. Managing your breath is essential for improving your time and sustaining you through a workout. 

As someone who grew up in the water and swam competitively for the first 22 years of my life, I have experienced firsthand the importance of using my daily conditioning to incorporate proper technique with breath management.

Managing the Breath

There’s a lot to think about as you travel back and forth in the pool. As in almost all activities, there is a lot of focus on technique to help improve your strength and mobility, but not a huge focus on the breath. 

Because we can’t survive more than a couple of minutes without breathing, it becomes vital for a swimmer to learn proper breathing techniques–something many coaches and trainers spend very little time talking about. 

Swimmers learn very early on the importance of timing their breath. They have to work the breathing into the pattern of the technique and develop their own rhythm so they don’t become hungry for breath during a turn or just before finishing a race. These are the most common areas you can learn to use your breath to drop time. 

Anyone who’s ever raced has been there. You’re neck and neck with the swimmer in the lane next to you, your heart is racing and you’re hungry for breath. Your focus becomes scattered and your need for oxygen outbids your need for speed. You take that last breath and you lose. Why? Because you haven’t learned to use your breath as a weapon. 

It’s the same at the end of a grueling workout when your lack of breath control has you breathing every other stroke. The good news is that you can learn to develop breath control to help improve your time and sustain your energy through a full workout. 

Below are 3 breathing drills to improve your swimming experience. 

  1. Abdominal Hollowing

Abdominal hollowing is an excellent dryland breathing exercise. Not only does it improve your breathing, but it’s a deep-core stabilizer too.

Having a strong core in swimming is really important, and deep core stabilizers are muscles that don’t conventionally get trained. By performing this exercise you are essentially getting the best of both worlds AND the best part is that you only have to do a couple of reps before your workout.

Here’s how it’s done…

  • Sit, or lay on your back 
  • Contract and pull in the abdominal muscles without moving the spine or pelvis
    • Visualize yourself sucking your belly button all the way back to your spine or the floor. 
  • hold this for a 5-second count and slowly inhale.
  • Do 10 rounds

This exercise trains the core muscles to better stabilize the spine and pelvis. Allowing you to have complete exhalations while competing so when you inhale again you are able to take in as much air as possible. Super handy for hard training sets and during races when you want to breathe as little as possible.

  1. Use Breathing Patterns

Your workout is a perfect time to practice breathing patterns. The struggle for oxygen can be tested by playing with the pattern in which you breathe. You can do drills in your workout to strengthen your breath by starting slow and building. 

Using breathing patterns is great since it’ll help you not only to be ready to swim on low oxygen at the end of your race but also to learn to control and maximize your breathing efficiency.

Here’s how…

  • Start slow and progress from there. 
  • Pick a set and start breathing every 9th stroke. 
  • Gradually increase the stroke-breath ratio.

Here’s an example of a ladder swim I love that helps me. All Freestyle with a 30-second rest in between each.

  • 50 breathing every 9th stroke 
  • 100 breathing every 7th stroke 
  • 150 breathing every 5th stroke 
  • 200 breathing every 3rd stroke 
  • 200 breathing every 3rd stroke
  • 150 breathing every 5th stroke
  • 100 breathing every 7th stroke
  • 50 breathing every 9th stroke

This is effective and engaging. It also gives you a solid 1000-yard workout. This can be done in reverse breathing to yards swam as well. 

Breathing patterns are a terrific way to train, but they can and should feel challenging. 

It’s important to remember that sometimes saving your oxygen for longer swims might be more beneficial than practicing retention. Incorporate here and there, but don’t feel the need to practice it during every workout. However, it is a good idea to find a stroke-to-breath ratio that works for you and train consistently using that pattern so it becomes second nature as you develop your breath control. 

  1. Don’t Hold Your Breath

A majority of your time spent swimming is done with your head underwater. Learning to not hold your breath but develop a slow exhale out the nose while swimming is going to help you take full inhales when your head is turned.

The reality is that your body tells your brain when you need to breathe, but it’s typically not from a need for oxygen but more because you’ve built up too much carbon dioxide (CO2). By slowly exhaling out the nose while swimming you are offsetting the CO2 allowing you to stay streamlined longer.

Here’s how…

  • Start swimming and begin as you take your first inhale
  • Once your head is back in the water slowly begin releasing air out the nose. 
  • Count the strokes in between breaths to stay consistent
  • Inhale more fully on your next breath because you’ve expelled more CO2 from your lungs

The idea is to maximize the airflow when you inhale while resisting the urge to hold your breath as you swim. More experienced swimmers do this very naturally. If you are new to swimming, learning to exhale out the nose underwater takes some time. 

You can think of this type of breathing much in the same way you exhale while moving into a flip-turn. Flip-Turns require a more aggressive exhale, but it holds the same principle. Just be careful to not inhale through the nose underwater. It’s not a fun experience and one that sticks with you all day. 

With enough practice, you will no longer find yourself gasping for air in the water.  The drills might even become a fun experience and a way to challenge your breathing muscles. 

Notice Your Breathing 

As you learn to breathe more effectively in the water you may begin to start noticing your breath out of water too. 

My obsession with breath began because of swimming. I have always found swimming to be meditative; an hour a day I can move my body, focus on my breathing and process my thoughts. 

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the value of what was happening in the water. Now I use my breathing on dryland to induce the same effects. 

Once you learn to control your breathing in the water it becomes easier to manage your breath in other situations as well. 

Situations that were once hard to breathe through become manageable. You will find that you can keep control over your breath and emotional state when life gets challenging. 

Your breath is your greatest asset in the water and in life. Learn to control and manage it and you can accomplish almost anything with more ease. 

My History and Training

If you are interested in learning more about breathing drills for swimmers or for managing stress, reach out. I am in the Seattle area and have worked with local high school swim teams, both on land and in the water. 

I was blessed as a young swimmer to have an excellent swim coach, Bryce Jensen, who still coaches today, and manages the Lindbergh Swimming Pool. He takes his swimmers training beyond the pool with dryland drills and visualizations. He helped move me from a swimmer who had plateaued during my sophomore year of high school to a swimmer who was breaking all her personal records in both my junior and senior years. 

3 Breathing Practices You Can Start Today to Build a Better Connection to a Healthy Happy Heart

Discover the Intimate Relationship Between Your Breath and Your Heart

Your body needs oxygen-rich blood to function properly. Your heart and lungs work together to create something called the Pulmonary Loop. This is a system that helps circulate blood cells through the body. 

When you are breathing short and shallow your blood isn’t getting enough oxygen to allow your body to function properly. Resulting in a build-up of carbon dioxide that makes our blood become acidic. And an acidic environment is a breeding pool for disease. 

By developing breathing practices that focus your breath deeply through the body, you are creating a foundation for good mental and physical health. 

Learning to control the breath both cleanses and strengthens the respiratory system. 

Stress and the Heart

Stress has become a normal part of our daily life and we often hear people using their stress as a badge of honor. It’s not something to be praised. It doesn’t mean you’re doing more. It’s actually a health hazard. Stress creates irregular breathing patterns that can result in heart conditions, like heart disease. 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States

High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease. Closely followed by cholesterol levels, alcohol dependency, smoking, and physical inactivity. These are all related to chronic stress that causes inflammation in the body. 

The good news is you can start to manage your stress levels and improve your heart health by adopting a few simple breath practices into your daily routine. You will be amazed what as little as 3-5 rounds of conscious deep breathing can do. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that lifestyle doesn’t play a significant role here. Things, like not smoking or limiting your intake of alcohol and caffeine, and adding more fruits and vegetables, are essential too. As you steer yourself in that direction you can add in breathing practices to start feeling immediate relief.

Here are 3 Breathing Practices that you can start today to build a better connection to a healthy happy heart.

Heart Coherent Breathing

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 down and let your chest be open.
  • Tuck your chin slightly to allow the back of your neck to draw long.
  • 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. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This is a practice that takes some getting used to, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Alternate nostril breathing is exactly as the name describes. It’s a great practice for improving heart health because it helps lower blood pressure. 

You will forcefully direct air in one nostril and out the other using your right hand – using just your thumb and pointer fingers. 

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Place your left hand on your left knee or in your lap.
  • Exhale completely.
  • Use the right thumb to close the right nostril.
  • Inhale through the left nostril.
  • Pinch the left nostril with your pointer finger.
  • Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
  • Stay here.
  • Inhale through the right nostril.
  • Pinch closed this nostril.
  • Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
  • This is one cycle.
  • Continue for 5 to 10 rounds.
  • Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.

Not only does alternate nostril breathing balance your autonomic nervous system, it also supports the circulatory and respiratory systems. Helping you to feel more centered and relaxed. 

4-7-8 Breathing

This is a popular technique made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil. It is a calming breath practice often used at night to help fall asleep. This pattern involves a breath hold that reoxygenates the body. 

  • Sit or lie down allowing your spine to be straight. 
  • Inhale through the nose, allowing the tip of your tongue to rest behind your top front teeth, and count to 4.
  • Hold your breath at the top as you count to 7.
  • Purse your lips, tongue still resting against the roof of your mouth, and exhale making a whooshing sound as you count to 8.
  • Repeat 5-7 rounds.

You can start with a lower count if this is too challenging or you become light-headed or dizzy. Once you get the pattern down you can gradually build your count. Just be mindful to allow the exhales to be twice as long as the inhale. This allows you to take in more fresh oxygen-rich air.

So many of us are up late at night, wired but tired. This breathing practice relaxed the mind, allowing stress to melt and you to more quickly fall asleep. 

These are just 3 of the many breathing techniques that are beneficial for your heart and overall well-being. Try them all and find the one that creates the most ease in your body. As stress creeps in throughout the day these techniques can quickly calm your heart and mind. 

Cardiovascular health is vital and so is your breath. Together they work in perfect harmony to guide you into a more mindful way of living. 

If you are interested in deepening your relationship with breath, check me out on Instagram, breath_mindset, and start developing that relationship today. 

Regulate your Mind and Body by Paying Attention to All Four Parts of Your Breath

Finding Your Power in the Pause with Breath Retention

Did you know there are four parts to the breath? Most conversations centered around breath are broken into two parts: inhalation and exhalation. The space between the inhales and exhales is equally as important. Without the pause that comes at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale you would be breathing much too fast. Hyperventilation is an example of how breathing looks when the pause is removed. 

As you breathe throughout your day this pause is minimal, almost unnoticeable. Every day you breathe in and out over 20,000 times while giving zero thought to the significance. A function of the respiratory system that happens automatically and is vital from your first breath to your last. 

Paying Attention to the Pause

The Navy Seals understand the power of the pause probably better than any other organization. They use it as part of their training because it is an optimizing breath practice that helps you stay calm while improving concentration. It’s no surprise this technique is used by a group of high-performance individuals who are known for being put in extremely tense situations. They understand the importance of all four parts of the breath and how it aids in lowering blood pressure. The Seals need to think clearly at all times and slow, stable breaths help them do just that. 

Breath retention practices help you focus your attention on the pause both at the top and bottom of your breath. By consciously extending the pause to create a breath hold you bring your attention inward. This concentrated activity focuses the mind intently on what’s happening in the body. 

Your breath is your life force, and when you practice breath retention you are cutting off that life force in a controlled manner. Training your autonomic nervous system to stay calm in high-stress situations. 

Regulate Your Mind & Body

This incredibly efficient tool not only teaches the nervous system to remain calm, but it also improves concentration as unnecessary mind chatter becomes less important when your breath is on the line. Your mind begins to devote all attention to the activity at hand. When you are practicing a 30-second or one-minute breath hold your mind has only one focus: a desire for breath. 

Plus you are training your body to be less reactive to strong needs and desires. Slowing the breath and practicing retention from a controlled space helps you to show up more intentionally. Reminding you how good it feels to be in control. And that nice inhalation of air after a retention hold is the best breath of the day. Energy pulses through the body sending a sense of relief to every cell. 

Your breath and your brain are interlinked. One will always follow the other. If you can calm your mind, your breath will follow and if you can calm your breath, the mind will follow. This, of course, works the other way too. If your mind is spinning out of control in rage, lust, or uncertainty, so will the breath. Forcing it to be short and shallow. Moving you into that hyperventilation state where no pause is accounted for. 

Practicing breath retentions help us recognize when we are out of balance and guide our mind and body back into regulation.

Box Breathing

Box breathing is my all-time favorite breath practice. It has been the single best practice for me to clear my mind, feel into my body, and find inspiration. It is as simple as it is effective. 

Conscious breathing does wonders for our health as the respiratory system is connected to all aspects of the body working properly. 

Dedicating time to not only notice your breath but also to pay attention to the pause is incredible healing. It has helped me to see my intrinsic connection to all things as I receive breath, hold breath, offer breath, and am breath. 

Simple 5-minute practice

  • Set a time for 5 minutes
  • Find a comfortable seat, crisscross or hips to heels on the floor, or if in a chair: move to the edge so your feet are firmly planted and your spine is straight.
  • Soften your gaze
  • Bring your attention to your breath.
    • Notice where your breath naturally wants to travel
    • Allow your body to move gently with the breath
    • Guide your breath through your lungs and into your abdomen
  • Exhale all the air out through pursed lips
  • Seal off the lips and inhale deeply through the nose filling up your belly, ribcage, and chest as you count to 4.
  • With your body full of air, hold as you mentally count to 4 again.
  • Exhale slowly and unrushed as you once again count to 4
  • At the bottom of the exhale close off the mouth and hold as you count to 4
  • Inhale and repeat the 4x4x4x4 cycle until the 5-minute alarm sounds.

The first few rounds might feel uneasy or lopsided. But if you stick with it the process begins to be something you can feel. You become calmer and relaxed.

If a 4-count feels easy, count to 5. If it feels tough, count to 3. There is no rule. The best way to begin working with breath retention is to start. Teach yourself how to control your breath. Notice where your breath is traveling. Get curious about what comes up both emotionally and sensationally. These are all clues that will help you better understand yourself and your connection to the world around you. 

5 Minutes a Day

Breathwork is a meditation, and in 5 minutes a day, you will set yourself on a path to health, insight, and growth. Breath retention becomes a fun and relaxing activity that you won’t want to miss. You will begin to notice that moment when your inhale becomes an exhale, and when your exhale becomes the wave of the next inhale. There is a powerful connection between your breath and the world around you. If you are looking to deepen your practice and want some guidance along the way, check out my 4-week self-led online course, Breath Mindset, and feel free to leave me a note here as well. 

Learning to Create Your Own Algorithm Through Visualization

Your Life is a Mirror

What do you see when you look in the mirror? If you’re not mindful of your thoughts you could get stuck in a repetitive cycle of constantly focusing on what you don’t like. Your life mirrors your thoughts, both good and bad, so the question is: Are you happy with the images and thoughts you’re reflecting?

Feeling content and happy with your life comes as a result of where you are putting your focus. I saw a post yesterday from Brendon Burchard, “Something weird I noticed this year: many people are very active every day on social media and replying and commenting to random people, but they won’t return text and voice messages of their real friends and family for days.”

Ouch! How many of us fall into this? Sometimes I find myself so busy building my business and connecting with people that I don’t take the time to check on those I love. It’s easy to mask who we are and get lost online when we do this. 

Social media is here to stay and has the potential to blur the mirror of who we really are. 

The perfect Instagram life is shallow. A messy reality is deep. 

But social media can be helpful in attracting your eye to the things and people who interest you. This all affects your mindset and can help you to develop the vision of your life into a clear path of who you want to be. 

Visualization helps us reflect the mirror we seek. 

Take a look at your Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever platform you use to express and experience our collective web. The images and products aren’t there by accident. They are an algorithm of your likes, comments, and follows. 

It’s easy to see how this mirrors your thoughts, so again, you should ask: Do you like what you see? Is it helping you feel good about yourself and the world around you? Are they bringing you closer to the vision you have for yourself so you can wake up each morning excited about the day?

We are lucky to live in a time when we have so many choices! Achieving big goals and living a life suitable for you is more accessible than ever. Believing that your goals can be a reality for you is as simple as directing your focus on what you want and reaching in that direction. 

Simple, yet not always easy. 

The easy thing to do is get caught in the self-perpetuating cycle of why certain things and lifestyles are not possible for you. 

Focusing on the reasons you haven’t achieved your goals is dangerous because your life is at risk of becoming a mirror that reflects failure, pain, and regret. Then you start attracting more of that into your life and resentment and shame start to show up everywhere. 

True desires and feelings will be expressed in positive or negative ways, and it all depends on your focus. 

If you find yourself shallow thinking or enviously focused, don’t worry! We’ve all been there. 

Turning the mirror from a negative to a positive cycle can start happening the moment you decide your life is worth it. 

If you are experiencing a plateau in your life and are feeling stuck, begin by moving your thoughts to what you’d like to see happen instead of what you are currently feeling. 

Even in a repetitive cycle of focusing on the negative, there is something to find light in. Something in your life to help you back to a neutral starting point. It might be that you didn’t have to sleep outside in the cold, or that you are able to buy yourself a cup of coffee. Anything! Start there. It’s a practice in gratitude. 

If you haven’t had practice in gratitude work it will feel a little bit like you are lying to yourself. But soon you will start to see all that you have to be grateful for, and from this space, the mirror of what you want to see will grow. 

Realizing you need work in this space is about developing your mindset, and mindset work is always a worthwhile skill to develop. 

Breathwork is my tool for visualizing my own reality and it helps me take back control of where I’m placing my attention and helps redirect me to where I want to go. I do this some days over and over again until I get it. 

Learning to Focus Your Breath

I love breath practices because they are so accessible and everyone has the mechanics to start consciously using them to their benefit. 

Conscious breathing practices put you in your body, and harness you into the moment. This is a great place to jump into meditation or visualization. 

Headphones can be a great ally in this process because here you can focus on your breathing while being led into some deep visualization techniques. There are a ton of great things out there and I am a huge fan of the Calm app because you can find the voices that are best attuned to your frequency. Calm has practices that range from 5-45 minutes in length in making it accessible for your life as well. 

When you are ready to get serious about visualization I highly recommend Dr. Joe Dispenza. He has a couple of recordings free on YouTube, but they are only pieces of the pie and only give you a taste of what he offers. His recordings hold a cadence that takes time to feel into but is always worth the ride. 

Along with the breathwork and visualization, you can also create something of a vision board to gaze upon. Physically seeing your desires is a great tool and this is how I suggest you set up your social media scrolling. Only bringing in the good you want to reflect out. There is a company called Lifebook that can walk you through all areas of your life and help you create your perfect vision. They have a range of options to help make it accessible, but the guidance is valuable. 

There are a ton of online options and you can create your own. Visualization is powerful. And when supported by your breath it can move you into a new reality. Helping you to ask yourself over and over: Am I creating the reality I seek? 

A Prosperous and Abundant Future Await Those Willing to Breathe Deep 

Take a Closer Look At Your Nervous System and Get Ready For Change

The new year is right around the corner, and just like that, another year of your life has passed. If you are ready to make big leaps in 2023, better review the highs and lows of this past year. How you handled stress and build bridges towards your goals can tell you a lot about where your work is to create a better future. 

A more prosperous and abundant future awaits those who are ready to ask and reflect on questions designed to both challenge you and move your forward with intention. 

If that sounds like you then let’s get to it. 

  • How did you feel emotionally this past year?
  • How was the quality of your thinking? 
  • Were you able to stay focused on what you wanted to see? Or did you spend too much time in anger and regret?
  • What was your relationship with money?
  • Did you see the growth you were hoping for in your personal and professional life?
  • Did you practice self-care? Or were you continually burnt out?

As you reflect on these questions, take note of how they feel in your body. Are any other lingering truths or excuses popping into your thoughts?

Now raise your hand if you’ve felt awkward or uncomfortable asking for your needs to be met over the last year.

My hand is high in the sky! This past year has continued to challenge me at every turn. Every time I made a leap in the right direction I was tested. As though the universe just wanted to make sure I really wanted something to go a certain way. 

These challenges reminded me that change IS challenging! But if you want to keep moving forward and achieve big goals, then you must get ready to be uncomfortable. 

Getting Uncomfortable

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with big and challenging changes in your life, you are not alone. If you feel like your mind is constantly rationalizing you out of your desires, this is normal. 

Getting uncomfortable is a sign that you are pushing through a comfort area. This is good! It means you are ready for growth and opportunity. 

If the questions in your head sound like any of these…

  • They’ll think I’m a fraud
  • I can’t afford to invest in my business
  • I’m asking for too much
  • Do I really need a coach or counselor for my healing?

And if they are coupled with these sensations in your body…

  • Lump in your throat
  • Knot in your stomach
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Shallow breathing

That means you are being pushed to your edge. Your growth edge. This is where…

  • Fear of rejection is met and challenged
  • Guilt from past events are exposed and released
  • Shame you keep hidden is brought to the light and dissolved

These are not feelings any of us wish to have. But it is on the other side of any discomfort that you will see and benefit from growth. 

Listen to Your Body

Your body is constantly giving you signals. Learning to listen to those signals is a great place to start your growth journey. If you’re ready to make the most of this upcoming year, then pay attention to the stories you’ve been telling yourself. You know, the ones that are holding you hostage in a life you don’t even like. 

Your body can tell you if what you are doing at any moment is helping or hurting you. The stories in your head are sending signals to your body that are either working towards building a healthy and beautiful life or keeping you stuck in an old one. 

The real question here is… What is your worth? And are your thoughts worthy of you?

Your Head and Your Nervous System

The stories you tell yourself day after day about what is happening in your life and what is and is not possible don’t actually live in your head. They live in your nervous system. 

Deep within your nervous system is the root of all your stories, and in order to change, you must identify these stories and pull them out from the root. 

Your nervous system houses your emotions and your energy, and it adjusts itself to protect you always. If your stories are constantly fear and lack-driven then your nervous system is reflecting that. This is why your nervous system is a great place to start. 

You can ease your body, and mind by calming your nervous system. 

This doesn’t mean problems will dissolve. But it can mean that how you react to problems will dissolve. Helping you move faster in the direction of the life more worthy of you. 

Let’s imagine what is possible for this upcoming year…

  • Feeling excited to move forward in your business
  • Ready to create more wealth and abundance
  • Spending more quality time with family and friends
  • Getting your finances in order
  • Practicing more self-compassion and health

All of this is available for you now! When you heal the root of your nervous system stories and embody your worth. 

Now is the time to stop running in circles and move into the new year with ease. 

Breathwork is the Ticket!

The simplest way to heal past stories and move into a more abundant and clear future is through breathwork. 

Breathwork helps you attract and manifest your true desires. Taking the time to slow down and consciously breathe energy and life into your body, you begin to realize where you’ve been stuck. Creating an embodied relationship with yourself is vital for transformation. Breathwork can help unlock these blocks, identify the roots of negative stories, and guide you in visualizing a future worthy of you. A total transformation from the inside out. 

Make this year the most abundant yet!

Give breathwork a try and see how it can calm your nervous system in under 5 minutes. Opening you up to see the world and your place in it through a new lens. More clear, more focused, and ready to break through old limiting beliefs. 

Below is a simple 4×4 breathing technique to get you started. 

You are also invited to watch any of my breathing videos on my youtube channel or purchase Breath Mindset, a self-led 4-week online breathing course designed to help move your mindset and breath into coherence. 

4×4 Breathing

  • Be mindful of your posture. Move your back away from any support and plant your feet firmly on the ground.
  • Begin by inhaling through your nose to the count of four. Let the breath come from your belly.
  • Take a slight pause at the top and feel the air move through your body.
  • Exhale fully through the nose to the count of four. Consciously let go of thoughts and toxins that no longer serve you.
  • Take a slight pause at the bottom and feel the stillness in your body
  • Repeat for five cycles.

3 Mindful ways to invite more peace into your busy holiday season

Skip the Stress and Bring More Presence Into Your Life

For so many the holidays are more draining than energizing. By the time January comes around, we are exhausted instead of ready to concur a new year. Why is this? How can you put a little more “merry and bright” into your season as you bounce from place to place creating holiday cheer?

At every turn you are being bombarded with…

  • Holiday movies and commercials
  • Work requests
  • Family obligations
  • Tradition upkeep
  • Decorating and meal planning
  • Shopping for the perfect gift

Unrealistic expectations of what the holidays should be surround us. I cannot think of a single human I know in my 40 years who’s ever received a car with a huge bow on it for Christmas, yet I see the ads year after year that would indicate that this is actually a thing.

One trip down Pinterest lane and I feel completely unqualified to decorate my home. Picture after picture is gorgeous, and every title exclaims easy and quick tips. Translating these images into my messy life can feel exhausting.

Choose Mindfulness instead

What if you decided to skip the stress this year and approached it from a place of mindfulness? 

  • Being more mindful in your conversations, 
  • Being more mindful about your spending, decorating, and gift giving
  • Being more mindful about your time, energy, and values

How much more rejuvenated would you feel if you felt fully present with those you loved?

I know what you’re thinking… Easier said than done, right?

Adopting a “go-with-the-flow” attitude takes work and time, but the payoff is worth it.

  • It helps you observe your perfect imperfections. 
  • It helps you see where your mind is about things. 
  • It helps you better understand the resistance and pull towards certain activities. 
  • It helps you to stop judging holiday experiences and how others approach them with more tolerance, understanding, and acceptance.

Mindfulness is essential for your mental health. And during the holidays we could all use a dose of that. 

Connecting to more peace in your inner world will help us see and connect to more peace and joy in your outer world. 

The key is to identify mindfulness activities that work for you that you can easily refer to when you feel overwhelmed with obligations. Here are 3 Mindful ways to invite more peace into your busy holiday season.

#1 Breathwork

The best antidote I have for overwhelm, anxiety, worry, and exhaustion is breathwork. Simple breathing practices calm my nervous system when my emotions are running high.

Your mind and your breath are like two peas in a pod: whatever one does the other will follow. When you are stressed and anxious your mind starts spinning and your breath becomes shallow and fast. Taking 3-5 rounds of mindful deep, long breaths will help you feel more centered and calm. And you can do this almost anywhere and at any time. It takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll instantly notice the difference.

Here are 3 breathing practices that can regulate your nervous system and help build resilience against stress during the holiday season.

#2 Focus on what feels right 

Every holiday I am so grateful that baking cookies is not a beloved past-time in my family. Don’t get me wrong, I think it sounds lovely, and I sure enjoy being on the receiving end, but I see the stress it creates. With a bazillion things going on it’s hard to find the time for everything, especially when it comes to activities you are doing out of obligation instead of joy.

From the pressure of holiday parties to the perfect gift, maybe it’s time to slow down and ask yourself…

  • Does this really matter to me? 
  • Who am I doing this for? And is that really important or necessary?
  • Do I have the energy to put into this?

Focus on what energizes you instead of drains you. This is how you can avoid holiday burnout. It helps you to show up and be present in a more mindful manner instead of being filled with resentment. 

#3 Unplug

The busier you are the more important this one becomes. It’s challenging in our busy lives to unplug and spend some needed time with yourself. No distractions. 

This means turning off your phone, no radio, no social media, no beeping, no buzzing, no kids, no friends, nothing! Just you.

Get away from the news and go for a walk, or take a bath. Learn to befriend yourself. Treat yourself like the more important person in your life and selfishly spend an hour nourishing that relationship.

Doing this for an hour will help you be more present with others. As the saying goes, you cannot fill from an empty saucer. 

Peace and Calm

These are just 3 examples of ways to build your resilience against holiday stress. There are a ton of options out there and the best ones are the ones that work for you. Find things that help you come back to calm amongst the chaos. For you it might be a trip to the yoga studio, shopping alone, or getting a drink with an old friend. Find your things and make time for them. Treat them as vital because they are, and your mental health is worth it. 

Gain Better Control Over Emotions By Practicing Being Responsive, Rather than Reactive

Moving From a Reactive to a Responsive Mind

Do you ever find yourself getting upset about something completely out of your control?

Do you find yourself ruminating on a small inconvenience and making a situation bigger in your head than it actually is? 

Do you ever catch yourself jumping from one ego-driven thought to the next only to find yourself angry and upset over nothing?

Last week this quote came up in an email I subscribe to…

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This resonated with me for a couple of reasons.

  1. Because this principle is at the core of breathwork
  2. Because this is what is practiced by doing ice baths and cold exposure
  3. Because I often catch myself reacting instead of responding

Even with a solid breathwork practice and work with cold exposure, I still find myself having to actively work on this vital statement. 

Over the past week, I have found myself building up an unnecessary story about a situation at work that is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. In the long run, this situation works in my favor in many ways. 

I started a new job less than two weeks ago. One of the things I had mentioned I was anxious about was what to wear because I’ve never had a job where business casual was the attire, and my wardrobe consisted solely of jeans, leggings, and t-shirts. They offered great suggestions to get me going and I went shopping for new work clothes. It was fun! I actually feel a little fancy, and for this low-maintenance babe, it has been quite a treat!

Well, two days ago it was announced that we would be transitioning from our business casual attire to uniform. 

Umm…. What? 

You mean a week after I went out and spent a bunch of time and money updating my wardrobe? Now you tell me I can wear my jeans to work? The very thing I expressed anxiety over last week? 

You couldn’t mention the switchover coming 7 days later? You couldn’t suggest I start with one new pair of pants because change was on the way?

Clearly, I am agitated by the change. But here’s the thing. I actually don’t mind uniforms at all. The idea of not having to think about my clothes is awesome! And I can wear my jeans, so that rules. Bonus and bonus! 

You can feel my frustration in this example; spending time purchasing new clothes that I now have little to no use for and I’ve worn just about all of them once in the last week and a half. Tags are off and it’s a mild inconvenience. When they told us at the all-staff meeting I took it personally. I began to ruminate on how terrible this company was being managed and how poor communication is. 

I realized whoa!

Is this really how I’m going to respond?

And then this quote came through in my email to hit me in the face and remind me of why I do the work that I do. 

I don’t want to react. I don’t feel good getting wrapped into a frenzy over something out of my control–something that I am actually happy about.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Have you ever gotten upset because you weren’t invited to an event you didn’t want to go to?

Do you ever find yourself filling empty space with an argument over nothing in your head? Having imaginary conversations about what you would say to your boss, family member or friend who you are making out to be the bad guy. 

Maybe you’re guilty of complaining about something as silly as the weather. (As though the weather has anything to do with you at all.)

What if instead you learned to accept the flow of life and matched your thinking patterns to a more pliable nature? 

Instead of, It always rains on my day off, you thought, Oh good, we needed this rain.

Viewing your life and surroundings through this lens can have a profound effect on your life.

Moving from Reacting to Responding

This sounds simple, but it’s not always easy. Working on adopting new and healthier ways of thinking sounds simple, but the key is to catch yourself in the moment and make the decision to move from reacting to responding.

Right now, as you read this it seems simple enough, but you’ll find it becomes much harder in the moment. 

Why?

Because your emotions are involved. 

When your thoughts have been triggered into a story about what’s happening in the world around you, you feel it emotionally. You are used to reacting from the ego and your mind becomes busy plotting revenge or feeling sorry for yourself. These triggering emotions are highly addictive AND it’s how you’ve allowed your mind to react for so long that it feels normal and natural. 

Choosing to jump off of a highly charged emotional ego-based story is tough! Your mind will acknowledge that you are creating a fabricated story, but it won’t want to stop. It feels too good. Even if it feels awful, it’s giving you a huge dopamine drip of feelings that validate your ego. 

With practice, you can train your brain to stop the story before it spirals. You can use breathing practices to calm your thoughts and bring you into the present moment. Then you can look at what’s happening in your life and respond from a clear mind. You choose how you want to show up in this moment. 

It does take work at first. After a while, it will become easier and this right thinking will begin to bleed into other areas of your life and more and more positive change will appear all around you. 

Mastering Your Life

In order to become a master of your life you must learn this one skill…

You must be willing to move from a reactive mindset and start showing up in a more responsive way. 

Stop fueling your energy towards stories and events that you can’t change or that have little to nothing to do with you. 

The fastest way to do this is to slow down, connect with your breath, and learn to accept what is.

There is a term used widely in AA meeting that I heard and love; “Acceptance is the key to all things”

Acceptance helps us to surrender to what is and know that it could be no other way. This step alone helps us to respond in more healthy ways. 

The next time you find yourself quickly reacting to new information, jump as fast as you can out of the story you are creating, and start to bring yourself into acceptance with slow mindful breaths deep into your belly. Then from a more focused mind, you can respond accordingly. 

Looking for assistance as you start this process? Join Breath Mindset! This 4-week, self-led course will set you up with all the tools for success!

Grief, The Messy Gift We All Share

The Gift of Grief

Grief brings out an onslaught of emotions ranging from depression to rage. One of the toughest parts of grief is that we all walk the road alone. Even when family, friends, and a community of loved ones gather around us to share in that sorrow, each of us has our own unique relationship with the process. Grief is a gift in remembering love in a deep and meaningful way. Grief is a gift none of us want to unpack, but a gift we all have in common. 

Once your heart knows grief, it becomes a part of who you are. From turbulent times to spiritual moments of clarity, grief offers us a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. 

Grief is so powerful that we often feel we need permission to open up about how we feel. Grief, in all its forms, helps connect us and when shared is a powerful tool for healing. 

Whether you are in the heat of grief or mourning the loss of someone lost long ago, we need each other to share in this breath. And we need to have open conversations about other types of grief as well. Grief from a divorce, or loss of a job. Grief from letting go of a long-held dream or parting ways with a dear friend. Grief comes in many forms, and it’s more than losing someone to death.

More than losing a loved one

On the rare occasion that grief is discussed openly in our society, our minds automatically turn toward death and dying. But grief runs much deeper than that.

Grief is one of those words that encompasses a sea of experiences. Attempting to describe it is futile. Grief, like love, has to be felt to be understood. 

  • The grief of a pet stings differently than the grief of losing your mother. 
  • The grief from leaving a relationship feels different than the grief of never finding one.
  • The grief of letting part of your identity go sits differently than the grief one feels from war.

We all face grief. It is the risk of love. It runs deeper than death and it is not dependent on where we come from, or our age, gender, sex, religion or choices we’ve made (both good and bad), our finances, our dream, or our faith. 

Loss and the grief that comes with it are universal.

Grief is the pain we feel on some random Thursday at 3pm in the middle of a lecture. It is the whisper of a memory that catches us without armor on a Tuesday morning drive to work. Grief is the complicated emotions you have around the shattered relationship you thought you so neatly cleaned up 15 years ago. Grief is an unexpected earthquake that wakes you at 4am as your entire life feels like it’s crashing down around you. 

Grief is love that hasn’t been allowed to be expressed.

Grief is a gift

Grief is a form of transition. Without warning or invitation grief comes into our lives. Like love, grief comes without a timeline and without rules. Grief teaches us compassion for other humans in a way that nothing else can. Grief reminds us that the time spent with those we love is important and fleeting. Grief connects us to each other and is a messy gift that we all share.

If we can learn to open up about our grief then we can begin to heal from our grief. Our society treats grief as though it is a dirty little secret that no one should talk about. Yet it is something we all feel. The more you can be open and vulnerable in the story of your grief, the more others will feel safe and connected to you. 

Grief is a part of who we are. It is a gift that unites us. We shy away from grief because it reflects our own pain and sadness; things we don’t want to feel. Much like love, when you grieve you are exposed to feeling hurt. 

Grief is one of the unbreakable bridges that connect us to other human beings. It sheds light on the darkness and reminds us that we are all the same.

Learning to see your grief as a gift can transform you into a more compassionate human. Someone who understands that people and experiences and cultures might be different, but we are all victims of circumstance and that there is nothing more true about love than the grief it brings. 

An Invitation for grief

I invite you to step into your grief and begin to heal yourself and the world around you. Allow it to take you deeper into understanding the web of human connection. Become a witness to your grief and allow others to find solace in your vulnerability. Inside of you is the courage and strength to find meaning in your pain. Find freedom from your fight against grief and allow the waves to take you into surrender and trust. Allow your life to grow beyond the garden of grief within you and learn to share those blossoming flowers with the world around you.

It isn’t going to be easy work, but the rewards are worth it. 

Find your breath again, and let it move deep within your spirit. Bringing life to your body, and purpose to your world. Peace is inside of you now. No matter what stage of grief you are in, feel it. All of it. Allow it space to be felt and be seen because the transformation is what connects us to our humanity and brings us closer to the light. 

Breathing Thru Grief. Sunday, December 4th, 2:30-4. St. Matthews Lutheran Church, Renton WA. -Grief as a Gift- All are welcome.