Filtering by Tag: health

“Incidental events do not directly cause natural evolution; they just remove the obstacles as a farmer [removes the obstacles in a water course running to his field].”

Incidental events do not directly cause natural evolution; they just remove the obstacles as a farmer [removes the obstacles in a water course running to his field].
— Sri Swami Satchidananda

This past weekend, I had the privilege of going deeper into my yoga practice by attending a Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra training. It was such a special weekend being able to immerse myself in the power of restoring our body not just physically, but energetically as well. When reflecting on the weekend, I was reminded of one of my favorite Sutras (the quote above).

I really love what Satchidananda had to say about the guru being an agriculturist and removing obstacles to reveal what has always been there. I visualize a current of energy that is forever present in our body and soul. Our body/soul is constantly striving towards perfect health and free flowing energy, but sometimes we get in the way and create barriers. When I first started going to my chiropractor, he told me that his job is not to “fix” the person but to remove the obstacles away from the nervous system so that the body can get back to its healthy state.

I believe gurus, or teachers, come to us in many different forms whether they are people, events, situations, physical practices, and even animals (my cat has been one of the best teachers I have had in the past few years). Everything we need to know we already do know deep down inside, but sometimes we need these teachers to help guide us.

Teachers come into our lives to provide us lessons in order to grow and continue on our journeys. They are not there to do the work for us, but to help us remove the blocks so we can live from a more authentic place. There are times when we are not ready yet to learn certain lessons, but the universe will continue to send people or situations until we are ready. It is best when we are open and willing to receive what these teachers have to show us. This is something I sometimes struggle with because of the fear of the unknown. I want to control what’s happening and feel anxious when that control is lost. However, when I look back on different points in my life I see that when I was open to receive and trusted in the process it has always proven to be fruitful, many times providing much more than I could have imagined.

The most important teacher you will have throughout your life is yourself. By using the many tools we have talked about and engaging in practices that resonant with your authentic self, your energy will continuously flow freely.

 

Do you need help clearing the obstacles from your life? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Visualize the things you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.”

Visualize the things you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.
— Robert Collier

This week a few of my clients had auditions for college Musical Theater programs. Many of them get very anxious for the dance portion, specifically being able to pick up the choreography quickly and be able to execute it properly in a small group. When we get to visualization in our sessions, I teach them the many beneficial uses of a strong visualization practice, one of them being skill acquisition. In this case, they use visualization to remember the sequence, to be able to practice the combination even when they need to be still on the sidelines, and to increase their confidence. I am happy to report that they all felt very proud of themselves post the dance audition and fingers crossed they all get accepted to the program of their dreams!

Last week, I talked about the foundations of a strong visualization practice and using the 5 senses to create vivid pictures in our head. In addition, it is important to control the amount of outside thoughts and negative thoughts that enter the visualization. This week, I would like to discuss the different lenses we have to look through when we visualize. This becomes very important when we are trying to see what it is we want and then be able to embody what it is we want.

There are three lenses we have when visualizing: external, internal, and external/external. In the external lens, you step outside of your body and see yourself engaging in the action you are visualizing. In the internal lens, you are inside of your body, feeling what it is like to be in the action, and seeing everything around you. In the external/external lens, you see someone else executing the action you hope to embody. This lens should really only be used if you are having trouble visualizing yourself. For example, maybe you are trying to learn how to serve the ball in tennis and you can’t quite imagine yourself doing it correctly, but you can imagine your instructor executing the form perfectly. You may visualize this way for a little while until you feel more confident. However, it is crucial that you switch to seeing yourself executing the activity at some point.

In the external lens, you get to see yourself fully engaged in the activity of the visualization. You can even slow the visualization down or speed it up. By being able to see yourself being successful in your visualization, you begin to become more confident and your goal becomes more real. It is important to be able to switch the lens to internal after a while. Being able to visualize through the internal perspective allows your mind and body to connect. You begin to embody that which you hope to manifest. You can start to feel what it means to obtain that goal, emotionally and psychologically.

You can use the visualization technique for many aspects of your life. For example, maybe you have a big presentation coming up at work. By visualizing yourself externally and internally, you are able to practice and embody your presentation without actually verbalizing anything. You can zoom your lens to be able to see even the smallest details. You can make changes to the things you think are not working. And most importantly, you can see yourself being successful, which enhances your confidence and will help you to perform optimally when the time comes. Or maybe you just want to improve your golf game for the next time you go out on the course with your friends.

This week, continue to keep your visualization log, but this time pick one of the steps of the goal that you created during our goal setting week. Begin with the external lens (external/eternal if you need to) and set your timer to at least 3 min. When you are done, write down your reflections, taking note of how vivid you were, if you could stay consist in the lens perspective, if you were able to control outside and negative thoughts, and things you would like to improve upon in your practice. After a few days, switch the lens to internal and do the same. At the end of the week, observe (without judgment) how your practice is going.

 

Are you ready to manifest the changes you want in your life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call!

 

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.”

Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.
— Bo Bennett

As a child, I used to pass the time during church or when I was bored in class mentally running through the various dances I was learning at my studio or rehearsing for a show. Sometimes, I would even fantasize what my life would look like living in NYC and being immersed in the hustle and bustle of the musical theatre world. In high school, when I was stressed or overwhelmed and had trouble falling asleep I would close my eyes and imagine each muscle of my body relax starting at my head and ending at my toes. Little did I know at the time, but what I was doing in each of these situations was building a foundation for a practice that continues to change my life on a daily basis.

Last week, I talked about making a plan using proper goal setting techniques in order to make the changes we want in our lives. This week I would like to offer a very powerful technique to help throughout the process, visualization. Visualization is a cognitive process where one uses mental imagery to simulate or recreate visual perception. Visualization can help improve self-confidence, manage pain and stress, acquire new skills, and manifest changes in our lives. Like everything else, visualization is a practice. It may come easier to some than others, but the good thing is that through repetition we can become more skilled in it.  

When teaching visualization, the first thing I talk about is being able to close your eyes and practice seeing vivid and clear images. Think of the five senses (see, hear, touch, taste, and smell) as a starting point. Be as detailed as you can when visualizing the images or the scenario. Next, implement your mental and emotional feelings into the visualization. This allows the visualization to penetrate and connect the body, mind, and spirit. Finally, make sure that you are controlling your mind by not allowing outside thoughts to distract you or negative thoughts to creep in.

For the next week, try to visualize once a day. Set a timer for 3 minutes and close your eyes. Start by noticing your breath and lengthening your inhales and exhales. Then, begin to imagine a place you know well, your bedroom, office, etc. See that place in as much detail as you can using the five senses as your guide. It may be difficult at first to complete the 3 minutes without outside thoughts coming in, but go until the timer goes off. If you find 3 minutes is becoming easy, extend the time and start to zoom into specific areas of the room so you can get even more detailed in the picture you are creating. Keeping a visualization log reflecting on each session will be helpful in observing your progress. In the log, write down if outside or negative thoughts crept into the mind, whether you were able to access all five senses, and how specific you could get when zooming in.

Once we have the foundational skills for a strong visualization practice, we can use it in all areas of our life. Next week, I will go into more specific ways to use visualization. For example: how to use visualization when preparing for an audition, interview, or big presentation; and how visualization can be combined with trigger words to help with stress and anxiety.

 

Are you ready to manifest the changes you want in your life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call!

 

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
— Buddha

This quote has presented itself to me several times this week, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. The next month is filled with many wonderful opportunities starting with presenting at a national conference this week followed by two different workshops I will be leading in different cities. Though I am very excited and ready for these opportunities, I am also anxious and nervous about them. Sometimes, I begin to stress over how “successful” they will be, how many participants I’ll have, etc. I remind myself of this quote. Using it as a trigger word, I take a deep breath and then focus on being present

Being present is not as easy as it sounds; it is a practice. But just like the mental tools we have to shift our mindset, we also have tools to help us be more present. This week I would like to focus on mindful listening. Have you ever had the experience where you are talking to someone, but instead of listening you are just waiting for the person to stop talking just so you can what you want to say? This happens often in life whether that be in meetings and wanting to share our brilliant idea or in a fight with your significant other when our hurt is the only thing we feel matters. Many times what we have to offer when we aren’t listening doesn’t even make sense when we step back.

Whenever thinking about mindful listening, I am reminded of when I am coaching actors in a scene. With many young actors, they are focused on what their lines are and when they say them. They just want to hear their cue line and then deliver the line with what they think is raw emotion and great acting. However, it usually comes out as fake or contrived. That’s because they were too focused on what they had to say and not focused on listening and responding accordingly.  

The theater saying, “acting is reacting,” can be helpful when practicing mindful listening. In order to react authentically, we need to listen actively. Here are a few techniques for practicing mindful listening that can be applied to both private conversations and group conversations:

-       Can you repeat what the person said to you?

-       Are you making eye contact?

-       Before you respond, take a breath and ask yourself “is what you originally intended to say still relevant?”

-       Are you making space for others to share or do you dominate conversations?

-       Are you offering and participating in the conversation or do you hide?

The last two techniques are very useful when engaging in group conversations. There tends to be the people who always voice their opinions, have an idea, a concern or a solution. Then there are the people who never share their opinion or offer suggestions. Take a moment to figure out which group you most identify with. I challenge you if you are in the first group, to make space for others, concentrate on your breath, and ask whether what you feel compelled to say is necessary. If you are in the latter group, I challenge you to actively listen and find a time where you decide to participate, owning what it is you have to offer to the group.

Mindful listening provides us with a fuller experience where we are engaged with the people around us. Consequently, it leads to stronger and more meaningful relationships. Try some of the techniques this week and then reflect on the changes you notice in how you engage with others and your fulfillment in what you do.

 

Are you ready to live a more fulfilled and authentic life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

Check out the workshop I will be running on Oct 24th - Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

 

“Teach your mind to listen to what your body and spirit are saying.”

Teach your mind to listen to what your body and spirit are saying.

Well it happened again…I was feeling overwhelmed and a little anxious at the beginning of the week. When I walked into morning yoga on Tuesday, there it was playing again, Ingrid Michaelson’s “Keep Breathing.” I smiled, laughed to myself, unrolled my mat, and listened.  The teacher started class by telling a quick story about getting her hair done and talking to the hairdresser that was in-training. He had taken years to follow his passion of becoming a hairdresser because a voice in his head kept telling him, “the world doesn’t need another gay hairdresser.” Finally, he decided enough was enough. He silenced the voice and followed his dream.

Many of us can relate to this story, myself included. The message the Universe was sending me that Tuesday morning was clear…don’t let the negative self talk stop you because you don’t think what you offer is needed. There is always a need for you to pursue your passion and be true to yourself. We all have gifts and they should be honored and shared.

This week’s focus is on trigger words and it is clear that “keep breathing” is my newest trigger word. Trigger words can be a single word or phrase that initiates a process or course of action. I’d like to go even further and say they can also be an object like a bracelet or necklace. Trigger words (or objects) can be used for negative thought stopping, as reminders to step back and re-focus, and to provide quick information when executing a skill.

One of the most common trigger words for negative thought stopping is stop. However, when working with clients I like them to come up with words that hold more personal meaning. Maybe they have a practice to help with relaxation where they visualize themselves lying on the beach listening to the waves crash and then the words “beach” or “waves” become trigger words for them when they are anxious. When I am teaching movement classes, I use trigger words all the time to remind my students of proper technique. Some of my favorites are “headlights” when referring to correct hip alignment and “flip flop” when referring to weight placement in releve.

Try coming up with your own trigger words. Begin with just a couple and commit to using them for a week. You will find that using these words in addition to the other tools we have discussed will help shift your mindset quicker than you think!

Are you ready to say no to your inner critic and follow your dreams and passion? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

 

Time out...Time in...

Time out…Time in…

Labor Day has come and gone, Starbucks is already serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and school is officially in full swing for everyone. I am reminded of some of my favorite shows growing up, specifically “Saved by the Bell.” Being a teenager on the east coast, I fantasized about going to school right near the beach, having school dances where I could break out “the sprain, ” and hanging out at The Max. But one of the most memorable things about SBTB, was Zach’s “Time Out,” where he could freeze whatever conversation he was in (usually one where he was in trouble), talk out his problem with the audience, and then unfreeze and redirect the conversation in his favor. Little did I know at the time, but Zach Morris was exercising another powerful mental training tool, thought stopping.

Thought stopping is when we acknowledge the undesired, or negative, thought briefly and then choose to stop the thought and let it go. To go even further, you can then replace the thought with a positive statement, also known as positive replacement. For many of us, getting in the habit of just stopping the negative thought and fully letting it go will be challenging enough. Establishing this practice is the first step. In order to enhance your practice by redirecting your mind with positive replacements, try doing this exercise. Write out a list of negative thoughts you may have had or make some up and then next to each statement re-write the statement in a more positive way. For example:

Negative thought-  “I am never going to loose this weight.”     

Positive replacement-  “I work out everyday and feel better each time."

Another helpful exercise is to keep a thought stopping log. In a notebook or on your phone, write down the negative thought, when it happened, what the situation was, and then a positive replacement. After doing this for a week, you can look back at the log and make observations of when your mind started to downward spiral and then figure out why. By adding the positive replacement thoughts, you begin to re-train your mind, helping to keep it on the upward spiral. Remember you are observing yourself, not judging yourself.

Next week, I will go further into enhancing our thought stopping practice with additional techniques.

 

Do you want to change your thoughts and feel more empowered in your life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

"Breathe, just breathe..."

Breathe, just breathe…

After a long day of meetings and feeling very overwhelmed, I put my iPod on shuffle (yes my iPod classic because I'm old school) and the first song that came up was T Swift's "Breathe" followed by Ingrid Michaelson’s "Keep Breathing" and then Journeys’ "Don't Stop Believin'.” Coincidence? I think not. It was the universe reminding me that everything is going to be OK. All you have to do is breathe, do the best you can, and trust in the process. We don't need to have or know all the answers (I know easier said than done). Our job is to keep breathing, be present, honor our true self, and enjoy the journey.

Last week, I introduced the concept of self talk and its importance in building our confidence through positive thoughts. I discussed how negative thoughts can lead to a downward spiral. For the next few weeks, I would like to offer you some specific tools so that you can build a strong practice and train your mind to work for you, not against you.

The first is to create a personal litany. A litany is a group of positive statements one can say to themselves silently or out loud. They help to increase our self-confidence by utilizing positive self talk. The litany can be for a specific aspect of your life: career, love, personal, etc. For example, if you are trying to change to a healthier lifestyle you may have ones like, “I am taking action to create healthy habits,” or “I know there will be days where I struggle, but it is ok because I am strong and I know I can do this.”  The litany can also be more generic and incorporate all aspects of your life. For example, “I choose love over fear,” or “I know I may feel overwhelmed at times, but it is ok because I have the tools to work through it.” (I said this one to myself several times during that long day of meetings.)

Once you have created your litany, hang it up where you can see it everyday or maybe laminate it so you can carry it around and pull it out when needed. In order for this tool to work, you need to say it everyday, maybe several times a day, and make it a practice. The more we say these affirmations or mantras, the more we believe them, embody them, and the more powerful they become when we need them the most.  

Take the next few minutes and create a litany for yourself. Commit to saying it everyday for a week. Then check in and see how you feel. Write your observations down in the journal you started last week. These are just observations used for self reflection, not judgments.

Next week, I will offer another mental training tool so stay tuned!

“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”

One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.

As the summer dies down and another school year is about to begin, my one-on-one coaching sessions with seniors start to rev up. Whether they are preparing for college auditions to get into dance or theater programs or they are prepping their essays and supplements to get into the academic institute of their dreams, I always start our first session the same: the importance of self-confidence and self talk in order to achieve peak performance.

As much as we may want to deny it, self-confidence comes from within not from outside sources. In order for us to perform optimally we need to have the self-confidence that we can succeed and that we are worthy of succeeding. Sounds easy, but unfortunately we know that is not always the case. Our inner voice becomes the key to building and maintaining a strong and healthy self-confidence. In more technical terms, this is called self talk - the act or practice of talking to oneself, either out loud or silently. It is important to train ourselves to limit the negative self talk and foster the positive self talk.

One of my favorite images to use when explaining how thoughts can quickly change the way we perceive a situation or evaluate ourselves is a spiral. A spiral is a curve that develops from a central point and gets progressively farther from that point as it grows. One small positive thought can lead towards an upward spiral resulting in confidence and uplifting energy, while one small negative thought can lead towards a downward spiral resulting in self pity and defeated energy.

For example, when learning a new skill if we tell ourselves we are open and ready for a new challenge our mind will continue to approach learning that new skill in a positive way even when faced with some difficulties. However, if we tell ourselves we aren’t ready or can’t learn the new skill our mind will continue to find more reasons why we can’t, especially when faced with difficulties, until we finally close ourselves off. The same theory can be used in all areas of our lives, our relationships with family and friends, our role within the office, etc. In fact, the more we use these tools in both our personal and professional lives the deeper our mental practice becomes and the stronger we will be in overcoming adversity and maintaining a healthy self-confidence.

Can you think of a time in your life when a single thought created a downward spiral? How about a time when a thought created an upward spiral? Reflect on these moments and write them down. Through self reflection we can understand an abundance about ourselves and the patterns we have created.

Next week, I will offer more tools to help train and strengthen our mental practice. Stay tuned!

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