Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Playful Way to Shift Your Anxiety

I read an article in Self Magazine a few years ago about creating names for different parts of our personality, especially our really challenging traits.  I named my negative self-talk, "Edithia" (sorry if that's your name).  She's nerdy,  anxious and always sees the catastrophe in every situation.  When she starts to tell me her opinions, I simply say, "Thanks for sharing Edithia." 

Although I know that my negative self talk is a part of me, it helps to think of it as a separate entity.  This practice, of creating a character around a personality trait, helps to separate my true self from my negative/worrying self.   When I give myself space from the worry I'm able to see my relationship with the problem at hand instead of feeling I am the problem or that I am the worry.  

What practices have you found to help you with your Negative Nelly's?  

Photo, 123RF

Monday, May 21, 2012

Understanding Our Cycles in a New Way

Today I listened to a Ted Talk by Alisa Vitti, called Loving Your Lady Parts to Success, Power & Global Change.  She owns a holistic center in Manhattan called Flo Living, where she uses food to naturally correct hormonal imbalances.  She learned how to heal her body of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with lifestyle and food.  In this video, she not only talks about her recovery to health, but she also breaks down the four stages of our monthly cycles. Alisa shares how we're a different person week after week of our cycles and how to use that to our advantage.  So, if you read my last blog about clearing your clutter, it sounds like you should wait until your luteal phase to get that done.

I certainly notice that I dream a lot more during the luteal and menstrual phases of my cycle.  I'm also more introverted and would prefer to stay home and watch a movie or read a book during that time.  Whereas, during the follicular and ovulatory times.  I'm much more social and energized.  Do you notice any changes in your personality or mood during the four phases of your cycle?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bastrika-Breath of Energy

Looking for ways to increase your energy and vitality?   One way is to do some spring cleaning.  Let the baby that is coming into your life see that you're making room for him or her.  Unpack old boxes, donate clothes that no longer fit or flatter you, and share some of your books with friends.  Better yet, bring a box/bag of stuff to a workshop that is being held in Evanston this weekend, called Clutter Bust Your Life.  Your facilitator, Brooks Palmer, has a compassionate way of assisting you in making room for the new things to arrive in your life. 

Another way, is to practice the energizing breath Bastrika.  In this video, I demonstrate how it's done.  It's a great breath to practice when you have a lot weighing on your mind, which zaps your energy too. What are some ways that you increase your energy?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Need Support on your Journey?

Believe it then Conceive it:
A 6-week journey for women trying to conceive
Spring flowers in Chicago

Are you trying to conceive? Or know of someone who is? This fertility journey is hard.  Trying to conceive can create stress on your marriage, work, and friendships.  Others don’t seem to understand what to say to be supportive and often end up hurting rather than helping you feel better.  Please join others, like you, as we share, uplift and encourage one another towards your dream of becoming a mother. For more click here.

Facilitated by : Jenilyn Gilbert, LCSW, CYI
Where:  Tiffani Kin Institute,  310 W. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60654
Dates: Thursday nights, starting May 17th-June 21st
Time: 6:00-7:00pm
Class fee: $95 (for 6 weeks)
How to Sign up:  Call 312-260-9000 or email

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Breath of Joy

This week, in one of my meditation support group classes, I taught the Breath of Joy.  Although the video is from two years ago, you'll still get the idea of how to practice this uplifting breathing technique.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Laughter Yoga: A Great Tool to Help Relieve Your Stress

Laughter Yoga Students in India

Are you taking life too seriously? I know I have been.  That's why for my 42nd Birthday this April, I hired a Marian McNair, a Laughter Yoga Instructor, for my party and boy did we have a good time.

Many books speak about the negative effects of stress on the reproductive system, but knowing this sometimes makes you more stressed.  Besides support groups, meditation and talking with someone about your stress, laughter yoga is the most fun way to cope with stress.  Here is a clip of John Cleese interviewing the founder of Laughter Yoga in India.  Laugh along while you're watching.  

Have you ever taken a laughter yoga class?  How did you feel afterward?
(If you live in Chicago or the surrounding burbs, contact me for information on where to go for classes.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to Think Like a Yogi During the Two Week Wait

A peony in Lincoln Park (Chicago)
When it comes to trying to make a baby, the negative mind sometimes takes over. Fears, worries and feelings of doubt can seize the mind especially during the two weeks of waiting for the pregnancy test results.  But then there are all these books and movies that say it's important to remain positive, which can create a lot of pressure, especially when you're feeling so anxious.  This tug of war inside the mind can leave your body exhausted.  

According to the teachings of Kundalini Yoga, the mind is made up of three parts; the positive, negative and neutral mind.  The positive mind is like a parent who thinks you can do no wrong.  It's the optimistic part of our thinking, it collects information about your life and figures out ways to project your goals forward into the future.  The negative mind is like an overprotective parent, it helps you see what you need to avoid in order to progress.  We need both perspectives in order to make sound decisions, however usually one is dominant.  The neutral mind is mindful of both the feedback from the negative and positive minds, but is unattached to the outcome.  It's a more balanced way of looking at life, a more yogic perspective.  

For someone trying to conceive, the neutral mind would sound something like this, "I may be pregnant and I will be fine and I may not be pregnant this month and I will be fine."  Can you even imagine this?  It takes practice to achieve a neutral mind.  Just having an awareness of where you're coming from can create some peace.  You might find yourself thinking, "Oh, I see that I'm coming from the negative mind and that's ok at least I noticed it."  This is a great step towards the neutral mind.    

How do we experience the neutral or yogic mind?  Through the practice of meditation.  Any form of meditation works.  You could even start right now.   

Practice:  Read through to the end of the paragraph.  If you have a phone that has a timer, set it for one minute.  Open the nearest window and focus on the sounds outside.   Some of the sounds you hear you may label as negative, like an airplane flying overhead or a garbage truck in the alley, and others you may label as positive, like the birds chirping or a couple laughing.  See if you can focus on each sound without labeling it and just have the experience.  Breathe nice slow breaths the entire time.

How do you feel now?   Did you have trouble focusing on the sounds outside?  It takes practice.  Keep trying this for a minute and then eventually increase the time to three or five minutes and see how that feels.  As you focus outside your mind, you create some distance from the constant chatter of the negative and positive minds and connect more deeply to the neutral mind.  When you live more of your life from the yogic mind, you feel more centered, balanced and calm.  Then when you're in that two week waiting window, you feel more relaxed along the way.   What practices do you have that calm your mind? 

For another article on a similar topic, click here for The Negatives of Positive Thinking-denial, optimism, and pragmatism in infertility treatment.  Dr. Lisa Rouff, a therapist who specializes in fertility, talks in her blog about the power of practical thinking over positive thinking. 

Seibel, Machelle M. and Hari Kaur Khalsa.  A Woman's Book of Yoga. NYC:  Penguin Putnam Inc., 2002. Print.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

From May Day to Mother's Day

Today is May Day, also known as Beltane, which is a spring holiday of fertility that celebrates all living things, including our creativity.  Whether we create a baby, sing, or design a business plan we're in the same energy of creating.  When we're cooking, gardening, blogging or designing we're tapped into that creative force.  Whether a woman has a baby or not she has a fertile lifeforce within her.  She is a powerful creator who touches people's lives with her nurturing heart, whether she is caring for children, her clients or her husband.

During the festivities of May Day, some cultures dance around a mayppole and focus their intentions on what they want to manifest in the new year.  Holding the intention of becoming a mother and seeing all the ads for Mother's Day can make May a particularly painful month for some.  It may feel that you'll never receive a Mother's Day card, get a gift at brunch or enjoy the homemade gifts that so many other women receive.  In many ways, being on the fertility journey can be isolating and this is one of those holidays that can bring up those feelings once again.  

This year, is there a way that you can protect yourself a little from the sadness that may come up over Mother's Day?   Perhaps schedule a massage or pedicure, spend a little less time at a Mother's Day Celebration or at the end of the day reach out to a trusted friend in which you can safely share your feelings and dreams.  You can also re-frame your experience and remember all the other women today that are dreaming of the day that they are included in the festivities too.  

I wish you a wonderful May Day and Mother's Day.  I'm so grateful that you love others the perfect way that you do.  You are a wonderful mother to many people and your acts of kindness ripple out to many far and wide.  Your perfect creative expression of you is a gift to the world.