Summer without stress

I’m off! Today is the day I have been longing for – for months – the first day of the summer holiday!

I am off to spend 3 delicious weeks in a summer-house by the sea.

I can hardly wait.

Summer

Summer

I am so excited and at the same time I know it’s important to plan ahead, so that we make the most of it. Successful holidays don’t just happen. Holidays can be disappointing! We all have expectations and dreams and they may not turn out the way we wished, hoped and longed for. Unfulfilled expectations cause stress and disappointment!

The time leading up to the holidays can be particularly stressful.

We all need our holidays – to recharge, rejuvenate and fill ourselves with new energy.

So how can we increase our chances of fulfilling it …

This is “my” plan for a stress-free summer:

  • Unplug. Actually turn of all electronics and be out of reach. Yes, no need to check emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs etc.
  • Mindfulness – live in the moment. Practice mindfulness, breathe, and be in the moment.
  • Meditate – to reconnect with myself through daily mediations
  • Read books – instead of computers and internet, I want to read great books, in the shade …..
  • No plans – be spontaneous. No schedules, just feel the flow and be part of it.
  • Play – God yes, be crazy, play let go, have fun, look silly
  • Bare feet – connect to the earth and the ground -lots of research on this …. great idea.
  • Go slow – nothing I need to do or nothing I need to get to – just inhale the moment – remember to stop and smell the roses.
Smell the roses

Smell the roses

“Every Sweet-scented rose tells from it’s heart the secrets of heaven and earth” –Rumi

Bare feet in the sand

Bare feet in the sand

Beach

Beach

I know this will not be easy and I am sure I will have withdrawal issues for a while ūüôā But I also know how vital, how crucial, it is to disconnect to reconnect – and recharge.

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” And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”

Khalil Gibran 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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The Power of Relationships

If there is one thing in life that can completely create imbalance in our lives, emotionally and physically – it’s troubled relationships.

Relationships between our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, co-workers, or our boss – any relationship out of balance has the potential to create havoc in our lives.

Relationships have a huge impact on how we thrive, our health, our overall well-being and enjoyment of life.

We are genetically wired for connection and we need connection, we need relationships to survive. So when our relationships are challenged we feel enormous stress, we feel threatened and our bodies suffer Р causing anger, resentment, guilt, sadness and pumping out stress hormones causing us to be on alert, a constant fight or flight mode.

Our relationships live in the sacred space between us, which is sacred – Martin Buber

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Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is one of the most important cornerstones of emotional and physical health. If we don’t accept ourselves and value our needs and emotions, it will stress our body and deeply¬†affect our well-being.

It’s so easy to find beauty in other people, to honor them and be kind to them. But to do the very same thing to ourselves, can be very difficult. Few people have learned how to accept and appreciate oneself and for the most we are not even aware of how unkind and hard we can be to ourselves.

Compassion and kindness starts within ourselves – the more compassionate and kind we are towards ourselves the more caring and loving we can be to others.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha

I came across an amazing series and I would love to share it with you.

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Sounds True is a multimedia company that among many things offers free podcasts – with amazing teachers. It was founded by Tami Simon. She is a wonderful woman and an amazing interviewer, it’s a real pleasure to see her at work.

This particular series is called the “Self-Acceptance Project”.

Tami Simon explores the important questions: “How can we befriend ourselves?” and “How can we be kind to ourselves?”. She interviews experts and people renown within psychology and neuroscience, for example, capacities like Kristin Neff, Harville Hendrix, Geneen Roth, Brene Brown and many more.

It’s a 12 week video program, it has already started, but it’s possible to sign up and enjoy the previous episodes.

It’s such an amazing opportunity and it’s FREE.

Check it out and sign up here 

Enjoy!

Meditation changes the brain

I recently read some research concerning how meditation affects and supports us. I always find it encouraging to find research that proves it is possible to improve our health and life-balance naturally Рresearch that challenges and changes the way we think of the world.  Professor of psychology and psychiatry, Dr. Richard Davidson, a pioneer in the research of neuroscience, has made revolutionary discoveries. He became fascinated with meditation in the 60s and has been meditating since he was a medical graduate student at Harvard University. He is passionate about meditation and his research concentrates on how meditation affects us and changes the brain.

Professor Richard Davidson’s latest research has been with war veterans from Iran and Afghanistan. Soldiers who returned home with deep traumas and wounded souls, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and high anxiety. He studied how meditation affected them. And he has shown that meditation has a tremendous positive effect on the war veterans suffering from¬† PTSD and anxiety.

His research shows that the brain is elastic and that it is an organ that is transformable.

A Danish Documentary (in English) called Free The Mind, has been made about Richardson’s work – it has just been released.

Free The Mind Рread more about the documentary and see the trailer here 

“You should sit in meditation for 20 min a day -unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour” – Old Zen adage

The sacred space between us

True connection between us is a “sacred space” and is what brings us together and make a difference, it nourishes and feeds us.

What can truly make a difference in the world is creating more of that sacred space between us.

The other day my dear neighbor came in for a short visit.¬† My husband was preoccupied on his phone trying to get a hold of our teenage daughter who had gone for a walk to the beach and had said she would come home for dinner but hadn’t yet returned. At one point he looks at our neighbor and he says “I’m sorry that I’m not present with you, but I just have to make sure that Kathleen is okay, I will be there with you in a min.”

The next day I saw my neighbor and she said “You know, that was so nice of Hugh that he told me he was sorry he was not present, he didn’t have to do that”- I told her that it is something we consider really important in our family, to be there and to be present with the people we meet, no matter who they are. Of¬† cause that is not possible all the time, but then we make a point of saying it. To the kids ” sorry Love I really want to be present with you and hear what you are saying and right now I am busy. Let me come back to you so I can hear you properly.” We do the same with each other or if people call us or drop by at a time that is not convenient. The message is ” You are important to me”.

We have all been in the situation where we feel that we are not being listened to or not being taken seriously – for example, at the doctor’s when he is too preoccupied with other things. Or perhaps your therapist nodded off while you were in the middle of a story.¬† I tried that once and I crawled right back into my hole. Of course, I was furious but then I did not know what to do about it and I turned¬† the anger inwards. Today I can laugh about it but then it felt awful.¬† When this happens we feel worse than when we came.

Arnhild Lauveng¬† was schizophrenic and deeply psychotic – she has written 2 amazing books¬† ” Tomorrow I was always a Lion” and “As useless as a Rose”. In the books, Arnhild tells of how she came back to reality and how the nurses and doctors who were able to be there for her, trust her, connect with her and be authentic with her – those people helped her back. This story shows just how powerful authentic connection is – it can heal!

Arnhild returned to study and today she has a degree in psychology. She works as a psychologist at the Kongsvinger Psychiatric Center in Norway and helps people with schizophrenia.

You can read more about her here

A Ted Talk I came across with Hedy Schleifer – The Power of Connection says it all so beautifully! I had the honor and privilege to attend a weekend workshop for therapists in Denmark with Hedy. She truly is an incredible woman. I hope you will enjoy this!

Compassion

Be positive – is something we hear often or even say to others. However it is very hard to be positive in an authentic way if there is something underneath that is bothering us or even hurting us. It is like a beach ball, if we try to hold he bugger down down under water, but it keeps coming up to the surface as soon as we let go of it. Shame, pain and worry are all signs that we need to find a place where we feel safe to talk – share how we really feel from the heart with someone who knows how to be compassionate and listen.

Quite often when we find out that we are not alone shame disappears and the pain dissolves – feelings are not dangerous. They are there to guide us.

When we suppress our needs and feelings, it creates an imbalance that we may experience in many different ways: lack of sparkle, stress, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, overeating or addictions etc. These symptoms are also the body’s way of getting our attention to the fact that something is wrong ‚Äď that we have become disconnected from ourselves.

Underneath dissatisfaction, stress or low self esteem are feelings. Many of us have had to disconnect from those feelings because they were not accepted where we came from when we were little. That is totally natural and in fact very wise, we needed to survive. The problem is If we cannot feel them we will not know how to protect ourselves, set boundaries or feel what is good for us. Feel what it is that we need to do in order to feel content again. The feelings have a message for us and we need them in order to navigate in our lives. Feelings are our personal GPS they are part of our true nature and when we start to sense them again, we receive balance and harmony in return, a sense of contentedness and freedom. This is where positive and happiness comes natural and not as a thing we try to pretend we are.

Jung said: Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens

If you feel there is something underneath that stops you from feeling content and happy I recommend:

  • Meet with a trusted, supportive and compassionate friend and share
  • Consult your diary – diaries are great. Here¬† you can write anything and no one needs to see it. Pour your heart out on the pages
  • You may want to find a good therapist, coach or psychologist
  • Be compassionate and mild with yourself
  • Meditate, take some time to be alone

Even if we are not quite sure what is bothering us talking, sharing, writing and meditating are all ways to heal.