Doing Enough?

Uptight.

Are YOU doing enough today?

Are you doing enough at your job?  I’m sure you could be doing better.  What about your health?  Your eating clean.  But are you exercising?  Are you getting daily sun exposure?  Are you working on your emotions?  Are your kids happy?  Is your wife happy?  When does it end?  Most of us are taught something here.  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DOING ENOUGH!  There is always something else we could be doing better.  There is always something we could be resolving.  So where do we find a balance?  Many people are truly not doing enough.  Many of us are trying to do too much.  So how do we figure this out?

PRIORITIZE:  Create priorities for your life.  We tend to focus too much on the things that don’t really matter and not enough on the stuff that really matters.  The ironic thing here?  When we focus on the stuff that REALLY matters, we find that we don’t strive so much on the little things.  What are the things I would advise working on?  Focus on the big things in life first.  GOD, FAMILY, HEALTH, RELAXATION, PASSION, PURPOSE, INNER PEACE AND HAPPINESS, FRIENDSHIPS, etc.  Don’t stress so much about how clean your car is, how much you can bench press, what your “macronutrient” ratios are, what you are NOT doing, etc.  These just are not important.  In fact, when we find ourselves focusing too much on TRYING to be perfect on superficial things; it often tells us that we are not listening to something bigger going on.  Why do you feel the need to vacuum your house every day?  Why do you feel like you have to defend yourself against what people think about you?  Why do you change the channel to avoid viewing something uncomfortable to you?  We need to build our houses with the proper foundations.  Tomorrow I will discuss the proper way to do this.  In the meantime, remember you’re a human being.  Remember that most of us are doing the best we can.  Often, it is WHERE we are putting our efforts that is the problem.  Remember to take time to rest and relax.  Remember you ARE doing enough in a lot of areas in your life. =)

-JOE

“ACTIVE” RELAXATION.

Dandelion wind

You REALLY should relax man!  Take a deep breath.  Find your center.

Is taking a small break from our stressful lives really all that we need?  A moment in the midst of calamity can do wonders, don’t get me wrong.  But are we actively unwinding our clocks on a regular basis?  Stress winds us up a lot.  We don’t usually take much time to just BE and RELAX.  This is especially true if we are going through stressful events, rough jobs, health problems, bad relationships, problems with children, etc.  Add to that bad food choices and malnutrition.  It is so easy to wind up and never unwind.  Enter “Active Relaxation.”

ACTIVE RELAXATION:  This is something you set aside time for.  It can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour or longer if you wish.  10-20 minutes would seem ideal for most people.  What does active relaxation look like?  It can look like anything you want it to.  The main ideas?  SLOW your breathing, relax, and let go of tension.  Some good examples of activities that promote active relaxation of the body would include tai-qi and qigong, some slow yoga, very slow walking, belly breathing to meditation music, laughter, slow spiritual reading, or plain old meditation.  Affirmations is a great way to relax as well.  Repeating phrases with our breathing can help rapidly calm the system.  Phrases like “I unwind and relax with ease,” or “I deserve a breather” are great.  Affirmations can be anything you want them to be.  Anything that helps put you in a state of deep calm.  For most of us, we only realize how stressed we have been when we truly relax.  It is unfortunate, but most of us rarely reach the state of true relaxation.  We let the worries and stresses of the day wind us up more and more, then we get stuck there!  So let’s learn to un-stick ourselves and practice a little “active relaxation.”  I can’t help but share the 5 principles of “REIKI” with my readers.

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL NOT WORRY

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL NOT ANGER

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL DO MY WORK HONESTLY

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL HONOR ALL LIVING THINGS

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL COUNT MY MANY BLESSINGS

Enjoy =)

-JOE 

WE vs. I?

Herd of elk

WE vs. I.  What does that really mean?

We come into this world as an “I.”  If conditions are met, we slowly realize that we are also a we.  WE are part of a larger whole.  We are part of the rest of the people who are also I’s and We’s.  The more deep healing work we have done, the more we realize this to be true.  From a biological standpoint; this makes perfect sense.  A baby needs its mother.  It will not survive on its own so it needs to think about itself first.  We can’t help the world if we don’t survive =)  If the baby has a mother, situations are non-traumatic, and all is well; the child starts the slow but steady climb into personhood.  It learns as it grows that it is not as dependent on everybody else around it.  It has autonomy and a “self.”  Therefore, it does not need to be focused on “I” so much.  What if the child doesn’t think it got the love it needed?  Another block in the road.  We all have issues growing up.  We all have stuff that could use a little work.  If I drew a picture of how most of us live, would we be connected?  Or would we be SEPARATED PEOPLE LIVING TOGETHER?  What is the problem with all of this?  WE ARE WE’S!  We live together.  We are all part of this thing going on here.  The irony of it all?  The best way to help the world is to help yourself first.  I am not talking about material goods like helping yourself to bigger tv’s, nicer clothes, and more women.  I mean helping yourself spiritually.  Loving yourself enough to go through the hard work and grow.  What starts happening?  The more we resolve the “I” issues that we saw as unmet growing up; the more present we can be in the world today.  We become more INDEPENDENT.  We don’t live in FEAR as much.  If we don’t live in fear as much, we live in LOVE more!  What does love naturally want to do?  HELP others.  GIVE.  SHARE.  BE WE’S.  In fact, noticing how often you think about and do things for others seems to be a pretty reliable gauge (unless you are doing it for yourself).  Ultimately, we are human beings.  How does the system work?  In my view, God has created it pretty wonderfully.  We are designed to love ourselves enough to grow.  To go through the hard stuff.  As we grow, we can then in turn help others to grow as well.  We become “part” of the collective whole.  As we realize this, we want to help others as well.  If we haven’t found or acknowledged the pain and suffering in ourselves; how are we supposed to see it in others?  There is nothing that says we can’t work on ourselves WITH others.  Many people in the world are afraid to show others their true feelings.  Does this sound like WE behavior to you?  Love is said to be the only thing you can give away and have more of.  Let’s see if this is true.  Let’s start working together on becoming WE’S

-JOE
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OUT WITH THE OLD / BEING PRESENT

English: My closet

OUT WITH THE OLD.

The old standby right?  Sometimes the only way to take in new in our lives is to get rid of the old.  This doesn’t necessarily mean throwing things away.  It can mean altering things.  It can be a new frame of mind.  It can be getting rid of old habits.  A lot of times we think of throwing out old junk.  Well let’s look at different types of “junk” we carry with us.

STUFF:  This is the one most people think of first.  It is an important one as well.  Physical “stuff” weighs us down if we let it.  Extra furniture.  Clothes we never wear.  Gadgets we have long forgotten.  Maybe a bunch of spare books lying around.  It is very hard for us to let go of our “stuff.”  We are taught to accumulate things in this country.  To save things.  To build up your stuff.  But does that really do us much good?  Look at the other animals in the wild.  They are not burdened with stuff.  They move wherever they go.  For most people, moving is a big deal.  Moving when you are young, energetic, and have relatively few belongings seems simple.  As we get older, less vital, and accumulate more; the idea of moving becomes a lot bigger challenge.  Take inventory of what you really need and get rid of the rest.  Often times, getting rid of old things makes room for new things that we actually need in our lives in the present day.

WEIGHT/BODY GUNK:  Gross I know.  But this is the case with many people.  Our sedentary lives and eating styles cause us to gain weight.  In my opinion, it isn’t just the weight that is the problem.  It is the toxins, gunk, and clogging that come with it.  We get bogged down.  Our livers, kidneys, and colons get clogged up.  We feel heavy after eating.  All of these things bog down our lives.  We can’t go through life with much enthusiasm or energy when we have all this stuff in our bodies that is not supposed to be there.  The answer?  CLEANSE.  IMPROVE THE DIET.  Cutting out processed foods, gluten, and pasteurized dairy is a great place to start.  Doing some simple herbal cleanses can make a world of change as well.

EMOTIONS:  We have emotions for a reason guys.  When we stuff them down, they just come back later.  Have you cried lately?  Hit a punching bag or some pillows?  All of us accumulate this stuff.  We hold frustrations towards people, God, ourselves, life, etc.  If we want to be truly present in our lives, we need to let these things out every once in a while.  

MENTALITY:  This is a tough one.  Is it worthwhile?  You bet.  Sometimes the biggest thing holding us back isn’t our weight or our stuff.  It is our mentality.  Do you think you will never get ahead?  Do you worry all the time?  Maybe your view of yourself, God, or society isn’t a good one.  This isn’t so much about removing bad mentality as it is about reframing your own view on things.  This is a basic problem for all people.  It is hard to change our mentality.  We are taught to think a certain way.  Usually, changing our mentality means facing resistance from ourselves, friends, and family.  Sometimes changing mentality will lead to big changes in our lives.

FEAR:  This is the big one guys.  All of these things usually boil down to a fear on some level.  Why are you afraid to let go?  What is the underlying issue really going on here.  Look at what you are afraid of eye-to-eye and face the tough stuff.  When you can start truly facing your fears of your own past, present, and future; you will be on the path to living in the moment.

Ultimately, removing the old from our lives is one of the best ways to make room for the new.  Don’t all of us want a little new in our lives?  New clothes, new jobs, new vacations, new LIFE!  Our old baggage, unhealthy bodies, and fear usually is what stops us from living our dreams and passions.  Let’s learn to constantly take out the “used” and make room for the PRESENT.

-Joe

GROWTH Vs. PROTECTION?

Worried

ARE YOU GROWING? OR ARE YOU PROTECTING?

 

 

Bruce Lipton, author of “Biology of Belief,” asks this very question.  Honestly, I haven’t read the entire book.  I have skimmed portions of it.  It got a little too much into the science of everything than I wanted to go at that time.  So what is the idea?

 

 

There are two main modes for animals (including humans) to be in.  Growth and Protection.  Let’s look at a few characteristics of each of them.  There is no good or bad here, just observations.

 

 

GROWTH:  Anabolic, building, healing, repairing, relaxing, recovering, digesting, eliminating, love, joy, laughter, etc.  This is the phase most animals like to be in.  It is one of peace with the world around us.  It is one without fighting, fear, or striving.

 

 

PROTECTION:  This is the realm of fear.  Fighting.  These are mechanisms in place that help us defend against “threats” in our world.  These threats can be real or “perceived.”  The belief is what truly makes it real for you.  Worrying about work.  Worrying about our children.  Fear of getting in car accidents.  Fear about the economy.  Fear about our lives.

 

 

Now, I don’t want to criticize protection mode here guys.  I believe it has its uses as well.  But you have to take an honest look at your life and figure out which one you are living in most of the time.  This is not a black and white thing.  More like a scale.  The greater your level of protection, the less your level of growth and healing will be.  Most people do not have to worry about being too stuck in growth mode.  But what happens when we get stuck in protection mode?

 

 

On the short scale we may worry about the little things.  Will we be late to our appointment?  Did we forget to check the mail?  Maybe there was something that NEEDED done that we just couldn’t remember to do.  This scale unfortunately progresses.  Are we making enough money to feed our family?  Will our child survive his health challenge?  Will we be able to comfortably retire?  Is our mate going to be happy with who we are?  Will the people in my life accept me with all of my faults and flaws?  These are all questions that tend to provoke protection reactions in us.  These reactions are a bit more severe.  They tend to focus on LONG-TERM SURVIVAL NEEDS.  As humans, we have the ability to look into the future with greater accuracy than animals (for the most part).  As such, we plan more.  We worry more.  This has it’s benefits and drawbacks.  Finally, there are SHORT-TERM SURVIVAL NEEDS.  These are those which immediately snap us into protection mode.  This is the realm of PTSD.  Of trauma.  Of terrible accidents.  Of health crisis.  Of war.  These are things that we cannot ignore “for the day.”  Hostage situations, torture, mauling by animals, and terrible car crashes all fit into this category as well.  These are actually scenarios that often demand protection mode.  I would hope that if you were getting attacked by a grizzly bear you would not be in healing mode =)  So what is the problem?  In nature, these events are not meant to happen for long.  But what happens when they are continuous?  War veterans.  Serious health challenges.  Our energy and psyche tends to get so locked in fighting for survival that it can get stuck there even when we are through the trauma.  So what is going on with all of this?  WE GET WOUND UP!

 

 

We get wound up so tight in the modern world.  When is there a day that goes by that we don’t worry about something?  We worry about work.  We worry about our families.  We worry about bills.  We worry if we are doing a good enough job with taking care of ourselves.  When does it end?  This is not about ignoring the issues of our modern world.  It is about learning to live in harmony WITH them so that we don’t take the burden of living in protection all of the time.  Is there anything we can do?  There is always something you can do =)

 

 

INVENTORY:  This step is often the most painful.  It requires us to take a good, hard look at what we are afraid of.  Are we worriers?  Are we living in the past?  Do we have unresolved emotional trauma or conflicts that are keeping us locked in protection mode?  Maybe an old scar from a past relationship.  Maybe some health problems that have plagued you for years.  Did we not have enough food or money at a time?  Looking at your fears means looking at yourself.

 

 

DECIDE:  Decide on the things that are WORTH being afraid of.  The problem with our modern world?  There are a lot of small things that we let ourselves get wound up about.  Most of them have nothing to do with SHORT-TERM SURVIVAL.  Decide on the things that you can let go.

 

 

WORK:  Often the things most worth doing take the most work.  This may mean taking a good hard look at the “man in the mirror.”  Are you trapped in an abusive relationship?  Are you fearful for your health?  Maybe you are a war veteran with PTSD.  This stuff is not easy.  It’s like a muscle that has been holding on for a REALLY LONG TIME.  It gets really tired and probably cramps up a lot.  The way to fix it?  Massage, unwinding, meditating, rest, etc.  I would like to point out that sleep and rest are related but different things.  You can sleep in a very stressed out state.  True rejuvenation comes when we blend the two together.

 

 

TOOLS:  Use tools to help you work through the tough stuff.  This doesn’t happen over night.  Often, we need tools to work with to help us along to our goals.  There are no right or wrong tools here.  Whatever helps you unwind.  Good tools may include massage/bodywork, meditation, affirmation exercises, EFT, self-care, water-work, laughter, joy, love, etc.  Anything that makes you SIGH RELIEF afterwards is probably a good thing.

 

 

ULTIMATE SOLUTION:  The ultimate solution is to realize every day that we have limited power on this planet.  We REALLY don’t like that do we?  We want to be able to control all the little details?  Why?  Because we were taught that this was the only way to control the outcome.  But is it really?  Is living in fear really the way to go?  Most people I know live with some level of fear in the background at all times.  Maybe not death-fear.  But fear.  Figure out the things you can let go of.  You may find that you need to make some changes in your protection mode along the way.  There are many people blissfully unaware of things they are doing that thwart their long-term survival, health, and happiness.  Listening to the universe is the correct step to figure out where we are off-balance with it all.  Protection mode has its place.  For most of us however, its “place” has become the norm.  Let’s scale back on the protection and move back into growth where we belong 90 percent of the time =)

 

 

-JOE

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New YOU!

 

English: Independence Day fireworks, San Diego.

2013 HUH?  WE MADE IT.

 

 Hopefully it was a good year for you.  If not, it is time to rejuvenate.  It is time to rethink your life.  It is time to make peace with the old so that you can more efficiently let in the new.  Our past has a bad habit of tying us down and holding us back.  Our past wants to be resolved.  This could be anything.  It could be past emotions or trauma.  It could be a sick body.  It could be a gunked up computer.  It could be a messy apartment or an old wardrobe.  Look at things in your past (present) that are affecting you today.  Is it really in your past if it actively affects your present?  We all want to evolve.  We all want to grow.  To heal.  To learn.  So what are some simple steps we can take to get moving on it?

 

INVENTORY:  Take inventory of things you don’t need anymore.  Only keep the things you can honestly keep out of LOVE.  Maybe that means taking a hard look at some feelings or thoughts that should be let go.  These could include grudges, conflicts, traumas, resentments, fears, etc.  Maybe you don’t particularly want some family heirlooms that were passed on to you.  Maybe you really want to improve a damaged relationship.  Maybe you really don’t ever wear those clothes, use that cologne, or put on those shoes.  Do you read those books ever, or do they sit on your shelf?

 

DECIDE/COMMIT:  Decide to let go of the things you don’t need.  This is really the hardest step.  Most of us keep at least an unconscious inventory of our “stuff,” or our “baggage.”  Deciding to let this stuff go is often the step that trips us up.  Letting go of books, old magazines, clothes, fitness equipment, etc isn’t too complicated.  Letting go of long-standing emotional issues may be a lot more challenging, but can also be some of the most rewarding decisions you will make.  Committing to following through with your decisions is an important part of the process.  Often this means going up against resistances.  Resistance usually comes from inside ourselves.  It can also come from outside.  We have to be brave enough to pass through these to achieve our goals.

 

WORK:  Do what it takes.  This is a tough one as well.  Sometimes jobs are easier than we thought.  Sometimes they are harder.  It can be like writing a short paper or it can be like writing an exhaustively long book.  Taking out some old clothes or books is one thing.  Selling off some old furniture may be a bit more challenging.  Dealing with long-standing emotional traumas or faulty thought patterns may be yet more challenging.  Do what it takes.  Commit to the things you really want to change.  We all have ideas in our heads about the things we would like to change.  Sometimes these are external things like our “stuff.”  Sometimes these are internal things like our feelings or thoughts.  Which is more important?  Honestly, I would take a look at the inside first.  Internal processes are what is going to have the biggest impact on your life.  Is it the most visible?  Maybe not in the beginning.  We are constantly reminded in our country that what is on the outside is what matters.  What can be “seen.”  I think outside success is great, but it usually comes from inside first.  Let’s do the work it takes to create new OPTIMIZED INDIVIDUALS.

 

-JOE

 

RECOVERY?

Rest

What does recovery mean to you?  

Does it mean rest?  Relaxation?  Time off?  Healing?  All of these could apply.  What is my definition of recovery?

RECOVERY:  Giving your body, mind, and spirit everything that it needs to recuperate after periods of stress.  Giving yourself time, space, and permission to allow different parts of you to affirm this recovery. 

What kind of stress depends on what type of recovery you may need.  Do you lift weights too much?  Maybe you need some time off from that.  Maybe you work too hard with your mind and need some time-off to recharge.  Sometimes our daily lives are so hectic that recovery is not possible without changing critical factors in our lifestyles.  Maybe you are in an abusive relationship that is creating havoc in your emotional world.  Is your job physically exhausting you beyond your capabilities?  Maybe your diet isn’t one that advocates good health.  There are several factors that will determine your ability to recover.  Let’s look at a few of them.

DIET:  Diet is critical to recovery.  WHERE you need the recovery may depend on what types of things you are working on.  Fresh, whole foods are best for everyone.  A wide variety of foods are good for everyone.  After that, things start to differ.  Are you primarily a mental worker?  Possibly more fruits, veggies, plant fats, etc.  Doing a lot of physical stuff?  You may be  drawn to more protein and animal products.  Just make sure whatever you eat feels right for you.  If it is non-processed and properly prepared (ie: not fried, roasted, pasteurized, boxed, etc), trust your taste buds to let you know what is right for you.

SLEEP:  Sleep is obviously huge.  This simple step is missed by a lot of us.  We either get distracted and busy, or we get overly stimulated by stress and our environments.  The end result?  Most of us don’t sleep enough.  We “get by” on a certain number of hours.  Sleep is our bodies recovery system.  It is like recharging a battery.  Sleep with the seasons if possible.  A lot of new research is pointing to stimulation of hormones by our favorite electronic gadgets.  Blue lights, computer screens, microwaves, HD tv’s, etc.  People attempt to sleep next to power strips, cellphones, computer cords, etc.  These things all have the ability to “trick” our bodies into hyping up.  This is a tough one to crack.  As far as the lighting goes; there are really only two solutions.  One is to avoid looking at these lights past about 7 at night to let your body naturally wind down.  The other is to get an inexpensive pair of “blu-blocking” sunglasses.  These things block out the stimulating effects of the light while allowing you to check email, write blogs, surf online, etc.  Making your bed an “electronics-free zone” will also produce noticeable improvement in your sleep.  Most of us sleep in the midst of dozens of wireless networks these days.  Turning off your wireless at night is a great thing to do.  Getting grounding mats is another wise choice.  These things help discharge static build-up and negate much of the negative effects of airborne wireless devices.

EMOTIONS: E-motions are HUGE.  Emotions can dramatically interfere with our ability to relax, unwind, and sleep.  Are you constantly in conflict over something that happened to you last year?  Are you fighting with your spouse?  Do you worry about the kids or your job?  Mental and emotional states are big.  Technically, they are separate categories but I am throwing them together here.  Figure out where your stress is coming from.  There are only two places.  Externally or internally.  They are tied together, yet distinct.  We can both have the same experience and perceive it differently.  Maybe flying down the highway is fun for me.  Maybe it freaks you out.  The external event is the same, yet the stress created in you will be dramatically more.  So what is the point?  Figure out what stresses YOU out.  Is it something coming from the outside?  Things like a bad work environment, bad relationships, financial pressures, working too much, etc can all fall into this category.  These are things that tend to stress most of us out.  Internal events may include worrying, depression, emotional conflicts with family members, God, or friends, and thinking too much in general.  All of these can interfere with your ability to recover.

ACTIVE RECOVERY:  Active recovery would refer to things you can do to “aid” your recovery process.  These include working-in exercises like qigong, tai-chi, gentle stretching, slow walking, etc.  They also include bodywork such as massage and physical therapy.  Things we can do during the day to aid our bodies in their processes.

TIME:  This one has the potential to be annoying, yet it is a huge part of the process.  We live in a society that is driven by time-constraints.  Everything takes up time.  Recovery is no exception.  Are you willing to put in the time to recover?  Are you willing to change some of your other plans?  Sometimes intense periods of stress require large periods of time to recover from.  Sometimes we take our boat pretty far away from shore before we realize that we need to get back to the island and sleep a bit.  Sometimes we end up having to sleep on that boat on the way to the island =)  Let’s create the time to dedicate to recovery.

Recovery is a big part of life guys.  Ultimately, the goal is to not wear yourself thin in the first place.  Take steps to ensure that you are living within your own limits.  We are human beings that sometimes choose to live more as robots or machines.  We need good food.  We need sleep.  We need connection and love.  We need time off.  We need time off.  These really are not optional.  Let’s give our bodies, minds, and spirits room to recover =)

-JOE