Latest "Mind-Body Health" Posts
Sharing the Gift of Gratitude with the Ones You Love
Are you being thankful and living every day to its fullest?
This has been another challenging year when I find being thankful difficult. And yet, I’ve been given great opportunities to see the power of grace, gratitude, and thankfulness in action. With the world seemingly in chaos with natural disasters, fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, the threats of nuclear war, an absurd government, as much “fake” news as actual information… We have all this craziness surrounding our everyday lives, and then there is life. I am reminded this year, more than ever, how precious life really is.
My step-son has been battling lung cancer for the past year and a half. As I write this, we are not sure how much time he has left. By the time this posts he might still be here, or he might be gone. But what I’ve seen unfold in what just might be the last few weeks of his life has been amazing! You see, my step-son Logan believes in miracles. He has fought through it all without complaint. I’ve never heard a “why me?” or even a second of sniveling because he hurts, feels like crap, can barely breathe, has difficulty speaking, chemo has kicked his butt twice… There have been surgeries, stem-cell therapy. They’ve tried almost everything! Up until a week or two ago he was still going to the gym, playing golf, and even continued to play ice and roller hockey with his buddies. Can you imagine playing hockey and sprinting up and down the ice post-chemo with only one working lung? Now, as tumors have spread from his lung to his spine causing pain and paralysis, he’s still putting on a smile. He has more energy than the rest of us and eagerly and graciously wants to see and speak with everyone that is stopping by to show their support. At any given moment, there are at least 10-40 friends and close family at the hospital – all packed into his room swapping stories, sharing laughs, and cherishing every minute we have to be together. This is the art of being thankful in action.
I am thankful to have been gifted the opportunity to have Logan as a step-son. I am filled with gratitude to see the army of “earth angels” that are surrounding him to show their support, love, and compassion. Logan’s presence is a gift to us, and our presence is a gift to him. The energy exchange is palpable. And while there is sadness, it is still being overpowered by pure joy.
Why am I sharing this personal story? Because it’s the best example I have right now of being thankful. Sure, we give lip service to this idea on a regular basis. But why wait until push comes to shove to live in gratitude and be filled with thankfulness? Can you imagine what it would be like if this concept was a part of our actual being? It is for some people. Like Logan. Every day is a miracle, and he exudes thankfulness from every fiber of his being. And it’s reciprocated ten-fold by his close friends, their wives, mothers, and fathers. In fact, everyone who knows him.
We shouldn’t wait for big, life altering experiences to be thankful. There is a lot of power in embracing the gift of gratitude for the little things in life, too. A wet kiss from your puppy, watching a butterfly, the sun on your face, wind in your hair, listening to the birds sing, children on a playground, music, art, good food, friends, a restful night’s sleep, a funny joke, the purr of your cat, listening to a thunderstorm, learning something new…
My clients have expressed thanks over the years for things that Pilates has helped them achieve to enjoy a better quality of life: being able to get up off the toilet, being able to bend over and tie their shoes, the ability to balance on one leg to put their pants on, being able to more easily turn their head to check for cars for a lane change, walking without foot pain, using their arms without shoulder pain, being able to take a deep breath, being able to walk up and down stairs without fear of falling… and the list goes on. None of these are earth-shattering challenges. But, to live and enjoy a healthy life, it’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest difference; we shouldn’t wait until we’ve lost it all to appreciate and be thankful for what we have.
Give yourself the gift of gratitude and appreciate how the power of being thankful for what you can do, the health you do have, and the support that surrounds you impacts your well-being. The mindset of being thankful can help carry you forward with grace and gratitude.
This Thanksgiving I encourage you to take a moment and reach out to people in your life that you are thankful for. Perhaps you’re already close and see each other often. Don’t take your time together for granted – tell them how special they are and how thankful you are that they are a part of your life. Perhaps you have people in your life that you rarely see or visit with, but in some way, they have made a huge impact on your life. Reach out. Thinking about someone is nice, but sharing your heartfelt appreciation with them is better. Maybe it’s just a note, phone call, text message, or email. Create a quick video to send them to share your thoughts. Or maybe you are fortunate enough to get together for an old-fashioned face-to-face chat. Cherish your friends, be grateful for your family, and give thanks for your mentors.
We’re on this planet together, let’s show each other how much we care.
I challenge you to reach out to 5 people who have made a positive impact on your life and share with them your gratitude for their love and support. Let them know the role they’ve played and how important they are to you. Put into practice the art of being thankful. It’s a beautiful thing.
Ready, Set, Go forth and Give the Gift of Thankfulness.
(Logan Vinopal, 7-11-1988 to 10-28-2017)
Vagus Nerve Stimulation Might Be A Missing Link for Better Health
How in touch are you with your Vagus Nerve? Do you struggle with inflammation, depression, or other chronic health challenges? Has anybody ever suggested that you do anything specific to support your Vagus Nerve or suggested Vagus Nerve Stimulation? Do you even have a clue as to what it is, where it is, or what it does? I know…me neither. The Vagus Nerve links communication between the head, heart, and digestive tract. And of course before you go running off willy-nilly seeking the Holy Grail of answers for your health problems on the internet, check with your doctor and get proper medical advice before doing anything!
I saved the link to an article on the Vagus Nerve Inflammation Connection months ago because it interested me. Unfortunately, I am just now getting around to looking at it and realized that the website it’s posted on is no longer being updated, but I’ll go ahead and post the article link (below) that prompted this post.
I’m not much of a research junkie because I get lost in the technical mumbo-jumbo. However, in my personal struggle to maintain good health, I appreciate insights from every angle. Western medicine has failed me more times than I can count, and for many of my issues it’s been a struggle of mind over matter since finding a solution has been a nebulous quest. While it would be great if there were a magic pill, potion, or food that would “fix” it all, our bodies are complex organisms and there are a lot of factors involved in getting everything to function optimally.
Inflammation has been a HUGE struggle for me throughout my life, that along with depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, Optic Neuritis, joint pain, and muscle aches. I’m hyper-sensitive to foods, chemicals, and smells. Sometimes I can get away with more, other times I’m over the edge and in-trouble faster than I can blink. For some reason this past fall and winter were particularly challenging. My lows have been lower and I fall faster to the pit of despair than I ever have in my life.
It’s scary, but I’m also talking about it because I know I’m not alone. I am also sick of people saying; “It’s just a choice!” “Choose to feel better.” “Choose to think positively.” “Choose to be happy.”
You, my friend (or psychologist), obviously have never spent a day in my body where the norm is to wake up every morning trying to fight off the feelings of wanting to be 6 feet under. TRUST ME, nobody would willingly want to spend their life feeling like crap – physically, mentally, or emotionally. These are reasons why I’ve always exercised. Physical activity is my “drug of choice” because I really can’t take medications. Most of the time I feel better when I am physically active. But sometimes even that doesn’t help.
Continue Reading ‘Vagus Nerve Stimulation May Help Reduce Inflammation, Depression, and More…
10 Tips to Tune-In to What Your Body is Telling You by Improving Your Mind-Body Connection
It’s crazy all the ways we’ve conditioned our bodies to over-ride our mind-body connection. Too many people these days don’t listen to what their body is telling them and act accordingly. Sadly, we’ve been told that we need to “push thru the pain,” or “go for the burn” to get benefits from exercise. When we’re tired, we reach for a high-caffeinated beverage or sugar-filled snack to boost our energy instead of catching a quick cat-nap or planning to get to bed earlier for a better nights rest. Who do you know that has to start their day with coffee, and end it with a sleeping pill? It’s not normal that this is what we need to function! And food… our portion sizes are out of control and the fast-food, pre-packaged, processed foods being consumed are too high calorie and low nutrient to give us the fuel we need for a healthy body. We’re starving for nutrients and eating more and more “empty calories,” and the population as a whole is getting fatter, sicker, and dying at a much younger age.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! Making a change to tune in to what your body is telling you starts with YOU. Honor yourself. Be brave. Learn to listen to that small, inner voice inside you. Improve supportive conversations with yourself. Trust that what you feel, or sense that your body needs, IS what it needs – and provide it without doubt or question.
To really live in a healthy body we can’t zone out, but instead need to zero-in on DOING what supports our health. Improving our mind-body connection is the first step in actually noticing what we’re doing good, bad, or otherwise.
Years ago I had a Pilates client Dr. Dave, (not his real name) who would show up for his weekly private sessions like it was the movie Groundhog Day. We had been working diligently together for a long time, but every session he was clueless about what to do, how to support himself and find the right muscles, or even what the exercises were that he had been doing over and over again in his weekly workouts. I like to think I’m very patient with my clients. It’s ok if you don’t “get it” right away; I’m going to hang in there with you and support the process of learning new skills and figuring out what you need to improve your health. But one day with Dr. Dave I lost it and blurted out, “You realize that Pilates is about developing the mind-body connection? Ultimately, that means you should be able to remember what you’re doing, know your exercises by name, the breath patterns, repetitions, equipment set-up, and be able to make corrections to your technique when you notice that it could be improved. All without me telling you what you need to fix, right?”
And at that moment the sea parted…and we both had a revelation. His reply to me, “I’ve always exercised to tune-out, and get away from having to think.” And believe me, his form and body mechanics clearly demonstrated this fact! But Dr. Dave now clearly grasped the importance of needing to pay attention to what he was doing to really improve his health during exercise and not get hurt. He “got” how important developing the mind-body connection was. AS a result, our training sessions shifted from a Groundhog Day experience, to really making strides for improving his mind-body connection and progressing his exercise program. In my mind, it was a miracle! For him it was life-changing because he finally started getting real benefits from his exercise program.
- Sometimes we’re just not aware of what we’re doing, and having a helpful mentor or teacher help point things out to raise our conscious awareness level can make the difference.
- Sometimes we are aware, and make the choice to ignore, over-riding what might have been the best choice for our body.
- And sometimes “baggage” from past traumas can be in the way, blocking our ability to tune in.
I had another client, Becky, (not her real name, either) who was a sweetheart. But as much as we worked on developing her core support, she could never “feel” that she was using her abdominal muscles. I’d have my hand on her belly, telling her “that’s great, your abs are working.” But Becky just couldn’t seem to make the connection to feel what was going on. Then one day, as she was lying on the Cadillac, she paused and said, “If it seems like I’m a little distracted…I’m still working on integrating my multiple personalities.” And then she proceeded to tell me a very small part of her story. Learning what she’d gone thru and the coping mechanism she developed to survive, explained to me why it was such a challenge to “feel” anything in her center! Of course it was going to be a challenge, she had chosen to disassociate from her body, and that was her primary defense mechanism.
But you know what, she continued to show up for Pilates, and it was a great asset in her healing process. Together we worked on searching for her center, strengthening her center, and gaining confidence in feeling it support her.
There is a lot of power in improving your mind-body connection. Whether the trauma you’ve experienced was emotional or physical (car accident, sports injury, falling out of a tree as a kid), compensation patterns accumulate until we take conscious steps to change habits and shift both our thinking and our actions.
When I’m stressed, I like to eat! When I’m emotionally drained, stressed, and upset, I like to eat specific foods… (Chocolate: Oreo cookies, Little Debbies, Twix/Reeses. Cheese: Mac and Cheese, Cheese Curls, Cheese Curds, Cheesecake, Chips, French Fries and Cheese…). How do I know this? Because one day I went to the grocery store in a really bad mood, and the only things I put in my cart were “comfort foods.” As I was checking out, I realized what I had done. So I purchased everything anyway, took it home, ate a few bites – and ceremoniously threw everything in the trash. When I crave these foods, I now know that I have two choices: 1. Deal with the issue that is stressing me out, or 2. Avoid the issue and cram my guts with crap that will make me feel worse instead of better.
Are you aware of the habits you have that might not be serving your good health? How often do you tune-in to what your body is telling you, and harness the power of using your mind-body connection? It’s not always easy, but it is possible to develop your skill set in learning to listen to your body.
My first Pilates Mentor, Romana Kryzanowska, had a great phrase about this. It’s all about using the 5 Parts of the Mind. I believe this applies to exercise, eating, and everything we do in life!
Guided by Your WILL,
Fueled by Your IMAGINATION,
Assisted by Your MEMORY,
And Enhanced by Your ESP (or INTUITION)
These 5 Parts of the Mind are what we need to be using to develop our Mind-Body Connection!
Still Reading this and wondering, where the heck are my 10 Tips to Tune-In and Improve Your Mind-Body Connection? Here we go:
- Use your INTELLIGENCE – Your brain is the “master computer” to guide your every thought, movement, and action.
- Let your WILLPOWER guide you to make good choices. (Won’t-Power will never get you results!)
- IMAGINE what it feels like or looks like to achieve successful results.
- REMEMBER what works and do it over and over to reinforce positive results.
- LISTEN to your Inner Voice – INTUITION is a powerful force.
- Be PRESENT – Be in the moment, and stay in your body to notice what it needs.
- HONOR yourself – You are Worthy.
- Be BRAVE – What you need is what you need. Stick Up for Yourself!
- It’s OK to Talk to Yourself! Improve supportive, loving, communication, and conversations.
- TRUST that what you feel or sense IS what you need – and provide it without doubt or question.
With Pilates, the goal is to make the last repetition of each exercise the best one possible; leaving your muscles with the memory of how to work well for optimal form and function. I’d like to encourage you to take this philosophy and apply it to your exercise program and your LIFE. Make today, and every day, better than the last by paying attention to what your body needs and improving your mind-body connection.
Help Yourself with this Hand Exercise
Embrace the power of healing hands. We all know how good a massage feels, and how important touch is to provide calming, healing energy. But did you know there is a simple way that you can work with your own hands to help heal yourself?
I’m always so amazed to learn and experience the benefits of the mind body connection. There are many, many different modalities and techniques out there. In India when they work with healing hands it’s thru Mudras. But this simple hand exercises to balance energy and emotions is from the ancient Japanese form of touch therapy called Jin Shin Jyutsu.
Improving balance between the mind and body means that we are in sync or in “flow” not only within ourselves, but in relation to the world around us.
Our emotions are intertwined with the health and well-being of our mind and body. This simple Jin Shin Jyutsu technique can be done anywhere. You can work on one specific area, or do a whole-body balance by working through all of the fingers on both hands.
Eastern philosophies connect Emotions, Organs, and Physical Symptoms, a shift or healing can help bring everything into balance. Use the chart below to help determine which finger(s) you should hold for this simple hand exercise to balance your energy and emotions.
How To Do this Simple Hand Exercise:
Hold the finger that’s connected to the emotion you want to calm, or the organ you want to heal for 3-5 minutes while breathing deeply.
||Worry, Depression, Anxiety
||Stomach Aches, Headaches
Skin Problems, Nervousness
||Fear, Mental Confusion, Frustration
||Digestive Problems, Wrist, Elbow, or Upper Arm Discomfort, Muscles and Back Aches, Teeth/Gum Issues, Addictions
||Anger, Irritability, Indecisiveness
||Liver, Gall Bladder
||Eye or Vision Problems, Fatigue, Migraines, Frontal Headaches, Menstrual Cramps, Circulation Problems
||Sadness, Fear of Rejection, Grief, Negativity
||Lung, Large Intestine
||Digestive Problems, Respiratory Issues, Ringing in Ears, Deep Skin Conditions
||Overdoing It, Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, Judgmental, Nervousness
||Heart, Small Intestine
||Bone or Nerve Problems, Heart Conditions, Blood Pressure, Sore Throat, Bloating
Learn how this simple technique has been used with Cancer patients in the article by Dyani Main and video you’ll find here.
Personally, I’m always looking for simple techniques to incorporate into my day for health improvement. This looks like a fabulous way to balance mind and body! Try it and let me know what you notice. Share what you discover by quietly breathing and holding your finger(s), or hands.
Give Yourself a HAND, and Have a Happy & Healthy Day!
Are Fitness Trends – Helping or Hurting Your Whole-Body Health?
I just read the article The Massive Fitness Trend That’s Not Actually Healthy at All by Jonathan Angelilli. And it’s worth your time to read. This is a very well-written article with good reasoning for learning to listen to your body.
Developing the mind-body connection is one of the reasons that I truly LOVE and appreciate what Pilates has helped me to achieve (and continue to work on) on my own personal journey to achieve, and maintain, balanced whole-body health – Mind, Body, and Spirit.
So many people believe that if they’re not busting their hump in the gym daily, that it’s not even worth trying.
So where does that leave you when you’re dealing with chronic pain, an injury, or other ailment? Do nothing but rest and eat? Only to recover, work out too hard and repeat the injury-inactivity cycle?
Yes rest is important, and cross-training is immeasurably beneficial. Somewhere one has to find their own personal happy place, where the training methods you use you enjoy fully so that exercise is FUN, and the activities you participate in not only help you stay healthy, active, and fit, but injury-free!
Not every meal we eat can be a gluttonous Thanksgiving Dinner. (Can you even imagine?) So why does every workout have to be “balls to the walls” challenging, or long, or repetitive, or with super-heavy weights? Train for your sport if you are an athlete, Yes. But overtraining regardless of athlete or everyday person and sooner or later your body is going to break down and protest the pounding. What your body will let you get away with at 20 is much different than at 40 or 50. And trust me, I love exercise and enjoy how my body feels after a good workout. But there’s a difference between creating trauma and effective training.
You can gain as many benefits from a calm, gentle training session as you can from training for a triathlon. And sometimes stillness IS the best exercise – just ask a Yogi or Tai Chi Master about that.
I believe efficient exercise with good body mechanics is vital for BOTH your “easy” and more challenging workouts. Without paying attention and learning to use your muscles and joints correctly – injury will result. (And over-fatigued muscles can’t support healthy movement habits) The magic happens in Pilates with low repetitions 3-5, up to 10, with the goal being that the last repetition you do is the very best one you’ve ever done, so you leave your muscles with the memory of how to work correctly. Brilliant!
Are you one that’s on the bandwagon for the latest massive fitness trend, regardless of how it might be affecting your health, or are you learning to listen to the inner wisdom of your Soul which can speaks volumes to help you make good exercise choices, and work at an appropriate pace to help you be healthy.
Health and Success – Paying Attention and Making the Transition with the Green Horse Energy Shift
While I am not an expert in Chinese Astrology, I do find it interesting. And from my training and teaching Bigu Qigong and studying Yin-Yang and Five-Element Theory, I am always fascinated about the relationship between what I know as a Western American, and what I feel happening physically, mentally and emotionally in my body and my world relative to a Chinese Medicine or Astrology.
While officially the Chinese New Year starts on January 31, 2014, and the Year of the Horse begins on February 4th. I am already keenly aware that there is an energetic shift happening.
Since I felt the shift before I knew what “Astrological Year” we were transitioning into, it prompted me to do a Google search to learn more about what to expect in 2014.
Continue Reading ‘Welcoming In the Chinese New Year – 2014: The Year of the Horse
Do You Love Your Body? I have to admit, my answer for most of my life has been NO! I’ve been working on an attitude adjustment, and struggled with loving my body, body image, and self-esteem my whole life! I’m still working on it –being both an athlete, and professional in the health and fitness industry for my entire life you’d think this wouldn’t be an issue for me, but it is… and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
It makes me sad to know that I’m not the only one who needs to shift my mental state and embrace my body with an attitude of gratitude, and a little more love and affection. If you struggle with loving how you look, read on and I’ll share a little bit about my story and a few secrets I learned last week that are helping me shift my perspective and helping me move closer to truly loving my body…
Continue Reading ‘Do You Love Your Body?
There are many ways to increase energy. Food is too often the go-to substance for a pick-me-up, as food is a primary source of nutrients to provide energy to our cells. Meditation is a way to manage and focus our energy. Daily meditation helps calm our mind and our body to reduce stress and improve energy. And exercise, especially mind-body activities like Pilates, is a form of moving meditation. Not only does Pilates help deepening the connection between mind and body to reduce stress and improve focus, but by enhancing our strength, flexibility, and fitness we develop stamina. Ideally exercise should not wipe you out and leave you exhausted, but instead energize you so that after a long day at work, you have an abundance of energy to enjoy life, have fun, and play. Add to your reserve stockpile of energy, Do Pilates!
Ever wonder what stops you from making great choices to exercise and be fit for an active and healthy life? Is it lack of exercise, or lack mentality? Does your attitude ever get in the way wreaking havoc on how you “feel,” and blocking your motivation to get up and move?
Perhaps these simple mind-body health training tips can help you enjoy an active life with a sound mind and healthy body. Joseph H. Pilates believed that it is everyone’s birthright to enjoy good health! And this fact is true. But without effort everything falls to ruin. So how can you keep your Mind and Body in sync to stay healthy?
Continue Reading ‘Mind-Body Health: 7 Training Tips To Help You Enjoy An Active Life with a Sound Mind and a Healthy Body
Are you still out shopping and looking for great fitness gift ideas for the health enthusiasts in your life?
What could be better than wellness solutions for better mind-body health from your head to your toes.
These are perfect fitness gifts for Pilates students, Runners, Walkers, Athletes, Dancers, and regular everyday folks who are inspired to improve their health and fitness at home, at the gym, or on the road. Check out these easy to use, products, books, and resources from the whole-body health experts at Centerworks® and give the gift of good health for the Holidays!
Continue Reading ‘Merry Fitness! 10 Great Fitness Gift Ideas from Centerworks®