Archive | February, 2013

STOP!!

27 Feb

Stop the MadnessNeed a simple strategy to become more aware RIGHT NOW?

If you struggle with road rage (I often find my ugliest self comes out on the road- what is up with people who pull out without looking?!); feeling like your brain is going to jump out of your skull with racing thoughts; never feeling like you can get ahead with your 10-mile long to-do list; and irritated at the slightest of situations, try this:

When you recognize you’re acting like a crazed person or you notice you’re trying to avoid what’s right in front of you (distracted, eating when you aren’t hungry, for example):

Say to yourself STOP
S: stop and recognize where you’re at and what you’re doing
T: Take a breath…two…even three, big deep ones
O: Observe what’s happening for you in the moment (IN YOUR BODY)…is there tension?  Where?
P: Practice responding in a way that’s congruent and matches your goals.

Your breathing is always with you. Use it to your advantage. Tune into how one big, deep breath changes your physiology and how the tension dissipates. When you are better able to be with your breath, you are more internally aware.

Try doing this a few times a day.

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Too Much of a Good Thing

19 Feb

We are fickle, fragile, frivolous beings. Yes, yes we are.

We crave novelty, yet we fear change.

We desire security, yet we’re unwilling to take risks to move toward it.

We want intimacy, but we’d like to forget the vulnerability that goes along with it.

Try to Get Less ExerciseIs it ever good enough? We’re always searching for what we don’t have, yet when we find something we like, that feels right, and that seems to “fit”, we latch onto it. Can there be too much of a good thing though?

I pride myself on having a somewhat open minded nature (although some of you might disagree– if you’re reading, SHHH!). I work toward being flexible and not getting locked into having to do things a certain way. And I mentor others in recognizing the frailties of the human mind and its tendency to gravitate toward the familiar and routine and consciously challenging that paradigm to live more fully and less rigidly.

Inevitably, however, I catch myself getting sucked into the vortex of categories and dichotomous thinking, pushing to have it my way and believing that if it isn’t the world will crumble. More often that not it isn’t a catastrophic feeling that accompanies the merger toward the familiar; it’s just an “A-ha! I’ve caught you doing it again!” revelation and subsequent change of direction.

A few weeks ago I was grocery shopping and was standing in my favorite section of the store– the produce aisle. If you were to ask me where my “happy place” is– that image I’d use during a visualization exercise to attain a relaxed state– I would describe the space between the avocados and the zucchini. Gourds make me happy. So do cruciferous vegetables.

On this particular day I was enamored by the large bulbous heads of cauliflower …my heart skipped a beat when I  felt the firm, fresh, crisp flowerettes beneath my fingers. I gently placed one head in my cart but turned back quickly to grab four more. One head would last me one day. No, one was not enough. I quickly made my way home, excited about steaming up a storm.

cauliflowerThe following week I consumed all five heads of cauliflower. I was in a pillowy dream world of steamed, roasted, mashed, sauteed, and rice goodness. More than half of my meals each day was cauli-loaded heaven! The only downside was I would come home to what smelled like an unflushed toilet. Meh–  inconsequential in light of my amazing culinary adventures.

Prior to flying out for a work trip I made sure I had eaten every last morsel of my fiberful friend. Gone. I’d have to restock when I got back, I thought.

I noticed something different in the days just before I left that made me pause.  The fingers of my right hand, particularly the joints at the tips of them, were red, swollen, and incredibly painful. I’d wake up in the morning and barely be able to make a fist. Strange, I thought. Maybe I was eating too much beef. I had a 1/4 of an organic cow in my freezer and 3 of my 5-6 meals a day were beefalicious. Gout? I Googled for information. Family history of RA? Check. But how odd for it to pop up now, right? And only in 3 finger of my right hand? Hadn’t changed my vitamins lately or made any big changes to my nutrition. I’d give it a few days and see if things changed.

By the time I left for my trip, ironically the ends of my fingers looked like heads of cauliflower! I had club fingers! I wondered if the change in weather had something to do with it and thought it positive that I was going somewhere else to see if that made a difference.

I arrived home with normal sized phalanges. My nutrition had been different while I was away, no doubt. Less food all around because of the travel, less gluten I realized too. But it would be hard to pinpoint what my finger fiasco was all about without removing one food at a time. And it if was the beginnings of RA symptoms, it wouldn’t be unusual for it to rear its head and then remiss. Whatever it was, I was just glad to be able to make a fist– cauliflower can be tough to separate after all.

After arriving home I threw myself back into my work as is customary. My mom continued to ask me how my fingers were. “Fine,” I would say. I was documenting anything I’d notice, but there had been nothing to note. Another trip rounded the corner, and when I arrived home this time, and opened my frig to get some meals together for the following day I realized it had been at least a few weeks since I’d been to the store. “Man, I wish I had some cauliflower to just throw in a tupperware,” I thought. So easy.

CautionAnd it was then that it hit me! “A ha! I’ve caught you doing it again!”

CAULIFLOWER! I had become a uric acid cesspool!

Since my trips I had not purchased any cauliflower. And since my trips I had no club finger phenomena to speak of.

More Googling commenced, and I reached out to a friend who is a veggie maven. I posted a note to her on Facebook, and social media came through. Into my messages appeared a link to a medical website detailing how cauliflower and a few other choice veggies (all of which I happen to love), if consumed in copious amounts can cause a backlog of purines that increase uric acid accumulation!

“So what does your penchant for purine-loaded veggies have to do with anything?” you’re asking. Nothing if you look at it from the perspective of Kori just ate too much cauliflower. But if you put it in the context of life, it’s a funny and much less damaging (although my joints beg to differ) example of how we can easily get locked in a categorical conundrum just to feel good. This way or that way. Good or bad. Have to have a goal or if I don’t I’m hapless. On or off. Good diet day or bad diet day. Great workout or sucky workout. Wrong or the right side of the bed.

You get my point. But where does going all categorical get you?!

comparison is the thief of joyCategories prompt comparison and comparison far too often leads to dissatisfaction (read my previous blog for more info!). For some reason we think that if it isn’t like it was before then it’s not right. And if I don’t get the same or better results this time, then why do it at all? Except, what about what we just experienced?

Confused yet? Don’t be. Just remember to start approaching your circumstances with greater consciousness through a reduction in comparison to enhance your ability to create exploration to avoid categorical conundrums.

And for good measure, watch your cauliflower consumption.

Wanted: Happiness

17 Feb

A recent post of mine received a comment about happiness all the time not leading to happiness.

After reading this I thought, “Hmmm…really? I’m not so sure about that.” Thank you, reader, for inspiring me to think and expand on that topic a bit!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappiness is a choice, yes, and while each of us is born with a predisposition toward optimism or pessimism, we also know that these traits are malleable. We can practice optimism to become more positive. The positive psychology movement wouldn’t have gained so much ground if there wasn’t utility in it.  In fact, we can also become happier more often by practicing happiness.

The research bares that happiness does not increase with the accumulation of material goods after a certain point. As a matter of fact, a study conducted in April of last year by the Maris Poll for Public Opinion found that what used to be the happiness tipping point of $75,000 if we’re talking yearly income, has been lowered to $50,000.  Good news, right? You can be happier with less. In fact, you see some of the happiest individuals being those who live with next to nothing. If you don’t believe me, go watch Happy!  But be careful how you read that previous sentence. The “next to nothing” is in comparison to what I or you might be living with or believe to be necessary to “don’t worry, be happy.”

Compare yourself to the Joneses all the time, and you’ll be perpetually just trying to keep up, attain more, and have a  more difficult time appreciating what’s right in front of you!

Happiness is in an attitude of gratitude. Sound cliche’? Studies consistently show that individuals who frequently and intentionally focus on what they are grateful for are happier. Why? They are that much more likely to notice more keenly the beauty of the small things in life.

If I always think about needing more, not making enough, thinking that others have it so much better than I do, what do you think my focus will be?

Dalai Lama- HappinessIf I intentionally and consciously practice a spirit of appreciation, compassion, and gratitude no matter what my circumstances or experience (after all, it’s comparison against some ideal or belief that often leads us to the decision that we just don’t have it good enough or that it needs to be different in some way), doesn’t it stand to reason that we’ll be more satisfied and happier?

So I do believe that happiness all the time can lead to happiness. Practice happiness to be a happier person.  But don’t get stuck in the belief that by practicing happiness you should never experience any other emotion. You’ll bounce back a lot quicker from whatever those other emotions are though by practicing happiness.

Want more evidence? Check out my recent articles in the latest issue of Alpha- The Evolution of Fitness.

Can you trust your struggle?

13 Feb

Lean Into DiscomfortI’ve been practicing more and more  “leaning in” to my anxiety.

Using what I notice my body is conveying to me– the racing mind, lack of focus, tense shoulders, heavy sighs, and fidgitiness — as a signal to tune in to the feeling as opposed to galvanizing my energy to run away from it, I find I’m not less comfortable like you might think would occur. In fact, when I realize that I am the same as my experience (I am the anxiety), there is nothing to run away from.

When I do this I think of the saying,  “Wherever you go, there you are.” We suffer most when we attempt to push away from us what we are experiencing, right?

If we are our experience though, we are one with it. If we absorb our experience, we relieve ourselves of rigidity. If we refrain from building a wall that we mistakenly think will protect us from it, we respond with greater flexibility. We are more resilient.

Like the reboundability and quick recovery that athletes practice — the  mental toughness that we all desire more of.

Trust Your Struggle

Like a willow tree that bends in the wind yet remains firmly planted in the ground.

Like the water you slide into when you immerse yourself into a warm bath.

If we learn to lean into our discomfort, won’t we suffer less? Grow more?

Can you trust your struggle?

What belief are you clinging to?

8 Feb

When we suffer…when we feel we “just can’t get a break”…when we are uncomfortable and fearful and trying so hard to avoid uncertainty…

maybe we need to ask “What belief am I clinging to?”

We’re all so hell bent on being happy all the time. Sure, I’m a big proponent of being positive, of anticipating the “good”, of acting compassionately toward myself and others. But is happy all the time realistic? Life brings “hard” and disconcerting, anxiety….PAIN. Count on it.

If we didn’t feel we’d be robots.

If we didn’t experience pain would we be able to experience rapture and bliss and beauty?

What belief are you clinging to?

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