Mindful Monday no. 82 – How to Tap In to Your Intuition

jens-lelie-15662

The definition of intuition is, “to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

How often do you pay attention to your intuition? Do you follow it?

Making decisions based on intuition can seem like a scary concept to those who are distanced from following their gut instincts. It’s possible that you’ve made decisions in the past based on your intuition and it has led you down a path you didn’t want. You might want to ignore your intuition because you want to protect yourself from getting hurt, or you’re nervous about what could change in your life. You may be imagining different situations when you’ve ignored your intuition because of the question that normally follows, which is, “What if…?” The “what if” questions we ask ourselves can prepare us for some things, but they can also prevent us from taking a chance on something new or cause us to stay in negative situations for too long.

Have you ever seen something happen or seen someone do something and thought, “I knew it.” That’s your intuition. Have you said no to an opportunity and then felt a physical pain in your stomach or chest when you’ve thought about what you missed out on? That’s also your intuition.

Why is intuition important for caregivers? Tapping in to your intuition can help you notice when something is amiss with your loved ones and trigger you to take action. It can let you know when it’s time to ask health care professionals questions that you might normally stay quiet about. Listening to your intuition can help you notice when you’re doing too much and might need to take a break or get some help.

As mentioned, tapping in to and following your intuition can be challenging when you’re not feeling confident that it will lead you in the right direction. If you’re ready to see what it can feel like to get in touch with your intuition, try the guided meditation below.

When was the last time you listened to and followed your intuition? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 81 – 5 Mindfulness Apps

meditation-1287207_640

“You have only moments to live.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Sometimes you need to tune in to tune out, and a mindfulness app might be the tool you need to get you there. There seems to be an app for everything these days, and mindfulness is no exception! Our devices our a huge factor in our struggle with mindfulness, so it might seem counter intuitive to log on to an app to help you be present, but receiving a notification to remind you to put down your phone or having a voice on hand to guide you through a meditation at the click of a button can be incredibly useful.

Interested in trying one out? Read on for some mindfulness app suggestions!

Insight Timer | Over 2,000,000 guided meditations, offering everything from binaural beats, chanting and mantras, to mindfulness for releasing anxiety. Oh, and it’s free!

Headspace | This app is great for beginners or anyone who is struggling to fit meditation in to their day. It asks only 10 minutes a day from subscribers and checks in with you daily to make sure you’ve taken the time to listen to their guided meditation. Sign up is free, but there is a cost after the introduction period.

Smiling Mind | A not-for-profit organization that is trying to make mindfulness available to everyone, Smiling Mind provides mindfulness programs for people of all ages and needs.

Stop, Breathe & Think | This app is helpful for anytime you’re in the throws of an intense emotion and need to re-centre. The app lets you check in and then guides you through a short breathing exercise. You can try it for free!

Mindfulness Apps | An app with meditations by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, aka the meditation guru.

Have you tried any mindfulness apps? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you in our comments!

Did you like this post? Please share it with a friend!

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

 

5 Minutes to Relaxation: An Exercise by Jennifer Dibnah

17883525_1328058607276092_8780189336070434838_nYou might think of Yoga as a flowing, strengthening and stretching in a series of flowing movements that benefit overall health; and yes it can be!

 

But Yoga can also be used to reduce stress and help you relax. If you can breathe, you can do Yoga. The following are simple, yet effective ways that anyone can use to reduce stress and anxiety, relax and prepare for sleep, regardless of previous experience, age, or mobility. The following steps outline simple, yet effective technique using breathing to reduce stress and anxiety or to relax and prepare for sleep-regardless of age, experience or ability.

 

Get Started

 

Sit or lie down on a comfortable surface. Feel your body completely supported by the surface you have chosen. Make sure you are a comfortable temperature and will not be distracted by phone calls, animals or people.

 

1.) Place your left hand over the top of your chest (breast bone) and your right hand over your belly. (Try changing your hands around to see what works best for YOU).

2.) Relax your eyes by closing them or softening your gaze. Place your tongue in your lower palette and focus on feeling your breath at the tip of your nose. (If your nose is plugged breathe through your mouth, preferably pursed lips to slow the breath). 

3.) Draw the breath into your belly; feel your belly expand into your hand and then into your chest, pushing your belly and chest out on your inhale. Then exhale focusing on your breath moving out of your body as your hands soften towards your spine. Breathe in and out slowly counting in for four, out for four (In your mind’s eye, say to yourself “IN, 2, 3, 4…OUT 2, 3, 4… IN 2, 3, 4…OUT 2, 3, 4…”. 

Notice the pause between the inhale and exhale. Count for ten breaths (in and out equals one round) and then return to your natural breath. Notice how you feel. 

Slowly bring movement back into your body by wiggling your toes and fingers, making small movements. Flutter your eyes open and carefully ease your body into a more active position. 

 

Return to the practice whenever you need.

 

Tip: Try to relax just 5% more with each out-breath, imagining a layer of yourself dissolving each time. 

 

Do not hold your breath. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, open your eyes and return to your natural breath.

j.jpg

 

Jennifer Dibnah is a certified Yoga and Meditation teacher with a degree in Psychology. She teaches people how to find balance, compassion and appreciate their bodies using Yoga, Meditation, Psychology and many other techniques. Her passion is teaching people how to breathe, de-stress, manage anxiety and ultimately live their best life. 

 

Want Jennifer’s FREE 15-minute guided meditation MP3? Get it here! 

Mindful Monday no. 80 – 3 Ways to Nourish Yourself

hand-1522837_640

I was reading the latest blog post on Free + Native this morning and was struck by this line:

“…especially in the West, we focus on deprivation and overexertion. From cleanses to vigorous exercise, there is little focus on adding nourishment to our lives. In Ancient times, and still today in certain cultures, women incorporate non-negotiable rituals of self-care.”

I read it over a few times to really let it sink in. “There is little focus on adding nourishment to our lives.” Isn’t this true? Often when we feel overwhelmed and stressed, our tendency is to either work harder so things feel more manageable, or to retreat completely, which often creates more work when we return to our to-do lists and find they’ve only lengthened.

What if instead of adding more work or trying to take away stress all together, we focused on finding ways to nourish ourselves?

I love the word nourish! It reminds me of the way you feel after eating a healthy meal – satisfied, full, and energised. Eating is something we have to do to survive, and perhaps nourishing ourselves in other ways should be treated with the same importance. Read on for three self-nourishing suggestions!

Soak up the sun or bask in the shade. This is a wonderful time of year to take advantage of beautiful weather. Spending time outside can feel like a mini vacation! Grab a book or a newspaper and find a comfortable spot under a tree. Take an umbrella to the beach and slide your toes in to the sand. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths and listen to the sounds that only summer can provide.

Take a long shower. Allow the hot water to run for a little longer than you normally would. You do not have to take a cold plunge in the west coast ocean to reap the healing benefits of water! Use a shampoo that smells good and really spend time working it in to your scalp. You could even close your eyes and pretend you’re under a warm waterfall! Just remember to hold on to something for safety.

Make your bed the most comfortable place in your home. Treat your room like a sanctuary. Wash your sheets and tidy up your space so you feel relaxed as soon as you open the door. Consider trying some sleep rituals or a morning routine to help make a calming environment for you to relax in.

In what ways do you nourish yourself? We’d love to hear from you!

Were you inspired by this post? Please share it with your family and friends!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 79 – How to Use Positive Affirmations

agapanthus-1465146_640

The messages we send ourselves carry a great deal of power, and we are constantly sending ourselves messages, whether we’re aware of it or not.

How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Are you energized? Is there something you’re looking forward to?

What do you think when you look at yourself in the mirror before leaving the house? Do you smile at your reflection?

How do you react when you can’t find your keys, or when you knock over a full mug of coffee? Are you frustrated with yourself? 

In isolation, reactions to our daily happenings may not seem significant. Trouble occurs when our responses to daily events are negative, and it doesn’t matter if that negativity is directed towards ourselves or to other people. It can all add up and effect the way we see the world.

Have you ever tried saying positive affirmations to yourself?

It may feel funny at first, but it can change the way we see ourselves and the way we feel about our lives.

Saying positive affirmations is not tricky, but there is one key: they must be positive. Do not look in the mirror and say things like, “I am not…” or anything that includes the word “but.” For example, if you are feeling nervous, do not say, “I am not nervous” or “I am nervous but I can be confident.” Instead, try, “I am confident.” The trick is to train our brains to focus on the positive. Positive affirmations can be said any time, but I find they’re most effective first thing in the morning or when I notice I’m feeling insecure, frustrated, or low on energy.

Ready to give it a try? Read on for the how-to!

Stand in front of the mirror and adjust your posture so you feel secure on your feet. Wiggle your toes in to the floor and roll back your shoulders until you feel grounded and safe. Look at your reflection, and really focus on your eyes. If this feels uncomfortable – that’s okay. Just notice the feeling and let it go. Take a deep breath and watch your belly rise in the mirror, and then let it all out – through your throat and out your mouth. Repeat three more times.

Fix your eyes on yourself and say what you need to hear. It can be anything, but try to focus on what you need. This morning, I used the following positive affirmations:

I am calm.

I am kind.

I am capable.

I repeated these phrases until I really felt they were true.

Have you tried using positive affirmations before? What was it like? We’d love to hear from you!

P.S. – If you like this post, please share it!

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

Mindful Monday no. 78 – Morning Meditations

sunrise-430694_640

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aureliu

Most people know the saying and question, “Did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” Though we may be tempted to ask someone that query, it never feels good to hear. What it should tell you is that the way we start our mornings have a heavy impact on the way the rest of our day will go. If you wake up late and have to rush to get ready and eat breakfast before running out the door, you may feel scattered for most of the day.

Have you ever tried meditating in the morning?

Taking 10 minutes to sit and be with your thoughts can have a profound impact on your mental state. There are lots of ways to get your day off to a great start, and practicing meditation is a good one. Practicing meditation can reduce stress, encourage a healthy lifestyle, increase self-awareness, happiness, acceptance, and it can even slow ageing. Kick starting these benefits first thing in the morning could very well change the course of your day.

There are many ways to meditate, and if you’ve never practiced before it might seem hard to get started. Never fear, the internet is here! YouTube provides many free meditation videos that can lead you through a short practice. People respond differently to forms of meditation, so it may take some trial and error to figure out what works for you, but here are some examples to get you started:


Do you practice meditation or have other ways to mindfully start your day? We’d love to hear from you!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 77 – How to Get to Sleep When You’re Feeling Stressed

bed-1586110_640

“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama

Ah, sleep! Why is it that so many of us can’t seem to get enough, even though we need it so badly? A good night’s sleep restores our energy and gives us what we need to manage the obstacles that come our way. Unfortunately, when challenges in our life mound, it can make it harder to get the sleep we need. This can start an unhealthy cycle that can be tricky to break!

We’ve written about tips for a good night’s sleep, sleep rituals, and a sleep meditation on the blog before, and all are worth reviewing to build your self-care toolkit to help you get the shut eye you need.

Today we’re offering tips for what to do when you’re under stress and need to get some sleep! Take a look below for some ideas.

mae-815567_640

Make a worry script. Sometimes getting your fears out of your mind and on to paper can help settle your mind and body, so you can put them aside and allow yourself to fall asleep.

Eat a banana. Lacy Phillips recommends chowing down on the fruit when you’re having trouble sleeping to fill you up and reap the benefits of its “generous amounts of magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan content.”

Move your body. The racing feelings of stress can settle in your head, chest, and stomach. Sometimes the best way to shake them off is to get moving! You do not have to run a marathon. Try dancing in your living room to a favourite song, or going for a brisk walk around the neighbourhood. Warning: exercise can be energizing! Schedule in movement at least two hours before going to sleep.

Call a friend. Talking to someone you trust to be a good listener can also help you unload your worries so you can lie down with a clear head.

What do you do when you’re having trouble sleeping? We’d love to hear from you!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 76 – 8 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Month

amazing-736881_1280

“The more you truly show up for life – not hanging back but really investing yourself heart and soul – the more life will show up for you.” – Marianne Williamson

My favourite part of the Passion Planner is the monthly reflection questions asked at the end of every calendar month. I’ve gotten in to the habit of sitting down for 15 minutes on the first day of every month with a coffee and my day planner and answering them.

Taking the time to reflect on the past month can do two important things: it can zero in on the beautiful moments in your life that you may not be paying attention to, and it can highlight the things that are causing stress, and perhaps give you the perspective you need to work through them. 

  1. Here are Passion Planner’s seven questions to help you reflect on your past month:
  2. What was the most memorable part of this past month? Describe it.
  3. What were the three biggest lessons you’ve learned in the past month?
  4. Are you happy with how you spent your time? If not, what steps can you take to adjust your priorities?
  5. How are you different between the past month and the month before it?
  6. What or who are you especially grateful for this past month?
  7. Name three things you can improve on this upcoming month. What concrete actions can you take to work towards these improvements?
  8. From 1-10, how do you feel overall about this past month?

Do you have ways of reflecting on your months? Are the questions different? We’d love to hear from you!

For some other ways to reflect on your life, read this post on reflecting on your family tree, or this post on solstice reflections. 

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 75 – 5 Things to Say and Do When Someone Is Grieving

fog-1803877_1920When I was in my early twenties, my friend’s mother passed away. She had been battling cancer for around three years and was cared for at home by her two children, husband, and a health care team.

I didn’t know what to do.

My first instinct was to let her know that I was thinking of her, that I was there if she needed anything, and to tell her that I was sorry for her loss. I thought I should stay away to give her and her family space.

When I passed on these instincts to a mutual friend, she said, “No. I think we should cook a meal that can be heated up to eat when they’re ready for it. We should stop by her house and be prepared to stay or leave. We have to do something.” So, that’s what we did.

I am so grateful for this friend’s advice. By showing up and offering a hug and a meal, we let our friend know that we cared and we eased some of the day-to-day stress by taking one thing off her to-do list.

What strikes me all these years later is my initial reaction to my friend’s loss. Death is something that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives, and it is never easy. So why is it hard for so many of us to know what to do, or what to say?

Sheryl Sandberg worked with psychologist Adam Grant to address this topic in her latest book, Option B. They call it “the elephant in the room.”

SHERYL: When I saw someone two weeks after Dave died, or even two months, and they didn’t acknowledge it at all, I felt totally invisible. I felt like they didn’t get it at all, and I felt really alone. And I know that just like I had done, when I was on the other side, they just didn’t know what to say, so they didn’t say anything at all.

ADAM: Psychologists years ago came up with a term for this. They called it the Mum Effect.

The Mum Effect: People avoid discussing upsetting topics

ADAM: Knowing that nobody likes to pass along bad news. Some people are afraid that, you know, the messenger will be shot.

ADAM: But in other cases, you know, it’s just as likely that people don’t want to remind others of something painful. One way that people are able to overcome the Mum Effect is to open up. To say, hey, you know, this is what I’m going through.

“I think the most important thing we can do for someone who is dealing with hardship is to acknowledge it,” says Sandberg. People often stay silent because they don’t want to remind someone of the pain they’re experiencing, as if it would take another person to remember. “The problem with that silence is that it doesn’t acknowledge pain.”

It can be challenging to know what to say or what to do when someone is suffering, but it is not harder than what the other person is going through. If you’re struggling to know what to say or do for someone who has lost a loved one, here are 5 examples:

“I know you’re suffering, and I’m here to talk if you want to.”

– Sheryl Sandberg

“How are you doing today?”

– Sheryl Sandberg (Sandberg believes that including “today” in this question is a short-hand way of letting the person know that you are aware they are going through a hard time, and that you want to know how they’re doing in that moment.)

“I’m sorry for whatever challenges might lie ahead for you, but I’m here and willing to help. Would it be okay if I call next week just to check in with you?”

Ed Preston, The Elephant Journal

Show up.

Phone calls, emails, and text messages are great, but showing up (with no expectations to stay) with a hot meal will have more of an impact.

Be specific.

The sentiment behind statements like, “Let me know if there’s anything you need,” is a kind one, but when someone is in pain it can be hard to reach out. Ask the person what their favourite breakfast is and bring it. Ask when you can come to do their dishes and wash their clothes.

Have you lost a loved one? What helped? What hurt? We’d love to hear from you. 

For more posts on coping with grief, read this, this, or this.

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 73 – 4 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Stuck

cobweb-259283_1920

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott

Feeling stuck is such an awful feeling, isn’t it? People often use this term when they’re frustrated and can’t think of anything they could do in that moment to change their situation. A stuck feeling sometimes accompanies fatigue, sadness, anger, and even shame.

A close friend’s family has a property near Kamloops, BC. The snow falls heavily up there in the winter months and it is only accessible by a long dirt road which isn’t always plowed. Four of us drove up there a few years ago in a vehicle that had never made the trek before. Sure enough, our driver overestimated the turning radius and we ended up in a snow bank. We were stuck in a very literal sense of the word. After realizing that no amount of pedal pushing would get us moving, we had a few options. We could call for help, we could start shovelling a path so the wheels could get some traction, or we could walk the final few kilometers to the house with our luggage in tow. We were tired and we were frustrated, but we had to do something if we didn’t want to spend a night sleeping in a cold car.

I think of this scenario often when I’m feeling stuck. In this day and age with cell phones and satellites, getting a car stuck in the snow is not usually a dire situation. Compared to the stresses of caring for loved ones, making sure we can pay our bills on time, and meeting the demands of work and social lives, getting a car out of the snow just doesn’t seem like a big deal. What makes the comparison so appealing is the role our attitude plays when dealing with any situation you may feel stuck in. There were things we could do when we realized our car was stuck in the snow, but we could have also lamented the fact that we didn’t leave the city earlier, that we didn’t have better tires, or that we didn’t arrange for the road to be plowed.

When we free ourselves from the feeling of being stuck, we may still have a growing to-do list, stresses, worries, and problems to solve. Even though the situation is the same, once we can see our options, we are able to do something.

So, what can you do when you are feeling stuck? Here are 5 suggestions.

Go for a walk.

One of the best things you can do when you’re feeling stuck is to change your physical environment, even if it’s just for 10 or 20 minutes. Leave your phone at home and get outside. If mobility is an issue, find a comfortable bench or even sit beside a window in your home for a few minutes and really notice your surroundings. This mini-escape can often be enough to change your perspective.

Do a quick grounding exercise.

My favourite grounding exercise takes less than a minute and can be done anywhere without anyone being the wiser. Take a deep breath, in and out. Focus on three things you can see. Right now, I am looking at my fingers type on the keyboard, the words moving across the screen, my notepad reflected in my coffee mug. Focus on three things you can hear. I can hear the air conditioner whirring above my head, the printer ejecting paper, and a colleague’s heals clicking down the hall. Focus on three things you can feel. I can feel my feet on the floor, a hair on my forehead, and my forearms resting on the desk.

Talk it out.

Feeling stuck often comes as a result of thoughts whirling around in your head until you’ve thought yourself in to a corner you can’t get out of. Talking to someone you feel comfortable with that will listen to what’s going on for you and help you sort it out can help give you some perspective on your situation.

Ask for help.

When you’re feeling stuck, you may also feel like you’re in it by yourself. By asking just one person for help with some of the things on your to-do list, you may find that feel a weight lift and realize that there are ways to handle your current situation. Asking for help can be tough! For more tips on how to do it, read this post.

If you would like more tips on what to do when you’re feeling stuck, read this post, or this one. 

What do you do when you’re feeling stuck? Please let us know in our comments!

Cassandra Van Dyck