Filtering by Tag: mindfulness

“Let there be space in your togetherness."

Let there be space in your togetherness.
— Rumi

This week, I had the first class in a three part series to get my Reiki I certification. Reiki has fascinated me for many years, but only a few months ago did I actually receive a session. After a couple of sessions, I was even more intrigued and decided to continue going deeper by getting my level I training. After this week’s class, I began to think about the idea of space: physically, energetically, and emotionally. What does it mean to create and hold space?

Being a dancer and a teacher, space is an idea I often find myself exploring. It is the element of Dance I spend the most time teaching and talking about: how we take up space, the ways in which we move through space, how space limitations can change our movement, designing the space, etc. As a teacher and coach, I am very aware of space in terms of energy and providing a place where my students and clients feel safe to express themselves.

It is important to me that when holding the space for others to sift through their ideas in order to find a deeper connection to their authentic self that the energy is one of openness and compassion. I truly believe that as the holder of the space it is my responsibility to understand that my behaviors and beliefs will affect the inhabitants of that space. As I discussed last week, beliefs can be both debilitating and facilitating for people and many times the beliefs we hold do not even come from us. I am mindful of the questions I choose to ask and the opinions I choose to share. For, it is important to me that I am not influencing the space besides holding it open for self-discovery.

You don’t have to be a teacher, parent, or coach to create and hold space for others. We hold space for our friends when they need support. We hold space for our partners as they continue to grow. And we bring our energy into every space we encounter.

Take a moment to reflect on how you create and hold space for people in your life. Then take a moment and reflect on the spaces where you feel most comfortable and safe. Are they places that you created and hold for yourself, like your bedroom or home? Or are they places where others hold the space for you, like a yoga class, special interest group, or a close friend?

Notice if you are always holding space for others or if you tend to always take up space. It is important that we find a balance of holding and taking up space. If we are constantly holding space for others, we do need to find a way or place where we are being held and cared for. If you observed that you mostly take up space, then try to take a step back and maybe offer holding the space for others more. Energy should always be in a constant flow, when it gets stuck that is when we experience uneasiness and turmoil. By simply shifting how we hold and take up space, we can release the energy and restore balance.

 

Do you need help shifting and moving the energy in and around you? I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation.”

Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation.
— Alan Cohen

About a year ago, I was taking a beautiful vinyasa flow yoga class and the teacher began with the beginning part of this quote. It resonated deeply with me. I made sure to write it down as soon as class was over. Recently, I have been revisiting the idea of fear when working with my clients and it got me thinking about this quote again. When we are scared it is usually because we are afraid of something; the fear is taking over in our mind. It then manifests itself physically, whether that is literally running away from something or pain in the body caused by stress and anxiety. But what if we stopped and shifted our mindset about fear? Maybe fear isn’t always negative or debilitating, maybe it’s actually a positive indicator and can be used to facilitate.

We are programmed to think when the knot in our stomach starts churning that whatever is causing it is bad and we should remove ourselves from it. But sometimes that knot is telling us something else. It’s reminding us that we have a lot of energy towards whatever is causing the reaction and that we can choose to view that energy as a positive thing. Instead of allowing our mind to downward spiral, maybe the knot is there to tell us that finally something has come along that challenges and excites us. So why are we doubting ourselves?

For example, say an opportunity presents itself, and this could be the very thing that you need to take that next big leap in your career. At first, you are super excited, but then that knot comes in and you begin to “read” it as maybe it’s not the right time, how will this effect your personal life, do you actually have the skills to be successful? The list goes on and on. However, sometimes we aren’t actually afraid of failure, but really of succeeding. What if you do get what you have always wanted and it’s not what you thought it would be? Allowing yourself the space/time and self freedom to really understand where the fear is coming from can help you to realize that fear is not always bad. In fact, a little fear can go a long way in guiding you in the right direction. We have to push ourselves into the unknown in order to create new and amazing things. If we don’t, we stay complacent.

This week lets go back to journaling. Think about some of the goals you have created and ask yourself: “What is holding me back in taking the next step? What am I afraid of?” Then just start writing. Don’t stop to judge or analyze what you have written, just continue writing until you have gotten it all out. After some time, go back to what you wrote and observe (without the critical eye) what you wrote. Are there any new realizations? Has it become clearer the reasons you are holding back? What if you gave yourself the freedom to release the negative energy around these thoughts and instead looked at them through a positive lens? Maybe the thing you are most scared of will become the thing that is most sacred to you.

 

Do you need help shifting your mindset about fear? 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.

“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.”

Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.

Last week I began to discuss creativity and the importance of “play.” Creativity is essential to everyone in order to live a fulfilling and engaged life. Play is the most basic form of improvisation, which is necessary during the creative process. The creative process is not exclusive to artists and the act of making art; each of our lives is its own creative process. For one to be successful in a creative process, it is crucial to have a safe environment where we feel we can experiment, take risks, fall and get back up, and be vulnerable. Without all of these elements, we can’t and won’t grow as an individual.

In Sport Psychology, we have two categories for environments: task oriented and win oriented. In a task oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of mastering the skill to build confidence and grow. They are intrinsically motivated. In a win oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of being better than others rather than for self improvement. They are extrinsically motivated. As we discussed previously, in order to reach a Flow state, or optimal performance, we need to be intrinsically motivated, comfortable enough to take risks, receive timely feedback, and proper support. A task oriented environment provides the appropriate structure, where a win environment feeds into negative competition, self doubt when “failing,” and can perpetuate the downward spiral.

Improvisation/play is a great example for an activity within a task oriented environment. There is no one correct answer, and participants continue to engage in the activity because of its enjoyment and the discoveries they make. Unfortunately, many of the environments we find ourselves in as we get older are more often win oriented environments. Schools like to say they are nurturing and more task oriented, but many times the learning that is happening is directed towards a specific outcome. The constant testing and the pressure of grades provide a win environment where students are constantly comparing themselves to classmates and even students outside their school.  This environment makes it much harder to achieve a flow state and enjoyment of the material, leaving many students worn out and skeptical about being a lifelong learner.

Reflect on your own life and the decisions you have made. Did you decide to get that certificate because you wanted to better yourself as a manager and a person or because you knew you would get a salary bump? Did you go into a field of study because you felt it would provide you a more “successful” job rather than studying something you loved and would make you happy? Knowing your motivation can help you to make decisions. Doing something that motivates you intrinsically, will help to fuel you and fulfill you. Doing something that motivates you extrinsically, will most likely drain you and lead to unhappiness. If you continue to make decisions based on what resonates with your authentic self you will create a life of fulfillment.

Now reflect on your environment, both personal and professional. Who are the people you surround yourself with? Do they lift you up, support your accomplishments, and energize you? Or are they competitive and drain you? What activities are you engaging in? Do these activities support a healthy lifestyle: mind body and spirit? Or are they distractions? We have the power to create a task oriented environment, where we are not only supported but also encouraged to be our best self!

This week, take the time to journal about the environment around you. Notice what is serving you and what is not anymore. Remember to observe without judgment. From there, brainstorm some changes you can make so that you can begin to create or strengthen the environment you want. Even the smallest changes will shift the energy around you.

 

Do you need help creating the environment you deserve? I would love to help 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.

“10 things to help you enjoy the holidays”

10 things to help you enjoy the holidays

1. Take time for yourself. This could be through guided meditation, visualization, journaling, or just sitting still. Taking 10 min a day for yourself can change your mindset and keep you balanced. 

2. Practice mindful listening. Being present in your conversations will make your time spent with family and friends more meaningful. 

3. Connect to your breath. Your breath is your life force. Breath exercises can help to relax, energize, and balance you. 

4. Redirect your negative thoughts. The holidays can be stressful at times and your negative self talk can start to take over causing a downward spiral. You can choose to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.  

5. Be thankful. Gratitude is the greatest gift you can give yourself and those around you. There is always something to be thankful for. 

6. Stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water when you first wake up. Try to get to 8 glasses a day. You can always add lemon or cucumber to make it more exciting. 

7. Be active. During the holidays our routines are altered and we tend to be less physically active and more indulgent of the goodies around us. Take the time everyday to stretch or do 20 min of cardio or yoga. Moving your body helps to clear the stale energy out. 

8. Rediscover your inner child. The holidays are a perfect time to connect with your inner child and remember that life is truly magical. Play a new game, laugh with friends and family, make something, etc. 

9. Be kind. Do something everyday that gives back to the community. Maybe it's small like helping someone with their bags or maybe you volunteer at a local shelter. 

10. Smile. Smiling will not only make you feel better but you never know when it will brighten up the day of someone around you as well. 

 

I’m currently having a special on Intro Packages. Treat yourself and start 2016 on a positive note! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call and to hear more about the package.

“The wind does not blow to make trees dance, but to test their roots.”

The wind does not blow to make trees dance, but to test their roots.

This past semester in both my dance and yoga classes, I have been emphasizing the important relationship between stability and flexibility. Some students have an amazing capacity when it comes to flexibility. They can fold themselves and lift their legs in ways I only dream about. However, it is important that they also build up the musculature needed to support them. Other students have such strength in their ability to hold a balance or yoga pose for a lengthy amount of time. However, it is important that they also take the time to stretch themselves so they can go deeper in their technique/practice.

The balance between stability and flexibility not only serves us in our physical practice, but also our mental and emotional practice. Having a strong foundation provides us stability so that we can become more flexible in other areas of our life. For example, a person with a daily meditation practice is creating a resilient internal foundation that will help them when dealing with adversity. Being able to adapt to change, or be flexible, allows us to approach new situations with an open mind. We can use what we learn from each situation as a way to continue shaping the person we want to be, a process that is never ending.

However, being too rigid or too flexible can be detrimental. It becomes debilitating when we are so stuck in our routine that the slightest change throws our day off. Likewise, it is unhealthy if we spread ourselves too thin or we are always accommodating to other people’s needs. Knowing when to stay grounded and say “no” allows us to be more resilient and durable. I like to visualize the image of tree blowing in the wind. Even when the wind is forceful, the tree does not crack and break. Instead, its roots provide stability so that the branches can move freely.

Through self reflection, we can determine whether we tend to be more of a rigid person or more of an accommodating person. If you find you are more rigid, maybe you change one little thing in your routine a day. Or maybe each month you set a goal to try something new and completely out of your comfort zone, challenging you to let go a little more. If you find you are too flexible, maybe you set up a daily mindfulness practice to help ground yourself. Or maybe you take the time to prioritize the things in your life and commit yourself to supporting these priorities. Finding and maintaining a balance of both qualities is ideal in a healthy and fulfilled life.

 

Need more guidance in finding your balance? Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call!

“Relax the mind; Renew the body; Revive the soul.”

Relax the mind; Renew the body; Revive the soul.

Happy Thanksgiving! The holiday season is officially underway. The next few weeks will be filled with decorations, Christmas songs, holiday parties, family and friends, shopping, acts of kindness, and love. Though it is a wonderful season, it can also be overwhelming and stressful at times. It is important to take care of ourselves first so that we can then take care of those around us. Using our visualization practice for relaxation can help to calm the mind and release the tension our body is holding. 

To begin this type of visualization, I like to start with the breath followed by a body scan. My favorite breath technique for relaxation is Yogi Breath, also known as 3 Part Breath. Laying on your back or sitting in a chair with a long spine, close your eyes and begin to observe your natural breath. Once you have settled, start to lengthen your inhales and exhales. Begin by inhaling through your nose and filling up your belly, then, ribs, then chest. Pause for a moment and then exhale through your nose chest, ribs, and belly. Continue this for at least five cycles. With every inhale you breathe in health, happiness, and harmony; with every exhale you breathe out tension, toxins, and troubles.

A body scan allows us to go even deeper in relaxation. I like to start at the crown of the head, the 7th chakra, and imagine a white light radiating above me. Invite this white light into your body and visualize it flowing, swirling, and filling up every nook and cranny. As this peaceful white light travels through your body, it gently massages and releases the tension and any negative emotions that do not serve you anymore. Once the white light has reached your toes, do one more quick scan and send your breath to the parts of your body needing a little extra attention.

For some people, this may be enough to relax your mind, body, and rejuvenate yourself. For others, you may want to go even further and begin to visualize a place that brings you peace and comfort. For example, walking on a beach at sunset, feeling the sand in between your toes, hearing the soothing sounds of the waves, smelling the cooling salt water, and seeing the beautiful colors of the sky as the sun goes to sleep. Continue to be vivid with your images and control outside and negative thoughts. Experiment with the perspective you are using and continue to use your breath as your foundation. The more you engage in this practice the stronger the impact the images will have on your mind and body. You can begin to use the words like beach, sand, or waves as trigger words for those times when life gets overbearing. A reminder that trigger words can be a single word or phrase that initiate a process or course of action. In this situation, the word “beach” initiates the feelings of relaxation, peace, and balance because of your visualization practice.

This week continue to keep your visualization log, but this time focus on relaxation. Begin with your breath and body scan. Then experiment with imagery. Try to maintain the 3 min a day or challenge yourself with longer sessions. This will increase your ability to focus and concentrate. At the end of the week, observe how you feel. Do you feel more grounded? Maybe more able to manage the stresses in your life? Maybe you can make it a habit to take at least 5-10 min a day to step away from the chaos and connect back to yourself.

 

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!

 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
— Lao Tzu

This past weekend I had the privilege of watching a few friends run the NYC Marathon. To be honest, it was my first experience watching at marathon in general. I never understood the purpose of going just to watch. However, within 5 minutes of standing in the first location I went to I was in tears. I was overwhelmed with the determination and perseverance of each runner and the amount of support and positivity each spectator was giving out. It was amazing to see people genuinely cheering on runners they didn’t even know at all. When talking to one of my friends who ran the marathon the next day, she tried to articulate the feelings she had throughout. She, too, was overwhelmed by the support from friends, strangers, and fellow runners. During the miles where she felt she might not be able to do it, it was this support that helped her through it.

It’s obvious that running a marathon not only takes a lot of physical preparation, but also a huge amount of mental training as well. If a runner goes into the process only focusing on the 26.2 miles that can become daunting and seemingly impossible. They need to set up a training program that takes them step by step and mile by mile over a period of time. If they stick to this plan, chances are they will reach the finish.

The same goes for manifesting the changes we want to see in our lives. Proper goal setting is the key to seeing our dreams become realities. When working with clients, I guide them in creating a plan made up of SMART goals.

          S – specific

          M – measurable

                                A – attainable

                  R – realistic

                  T – time sensitive

We begin by creating a macro-goal, a larger goal to be achieved over a period of time. Next, I have them list all the things they need to achieve this goal. This could include learning a new skill or an increase in finances. One thing everyone always needs is support. Even if we are extremely independent, it is crucial to have a support system to help you through those rough patches. The support can come in a variety of forms, whether that is a coach that is there to hold you accountable and help you to strategically work through obstacles or family and friends that are there to love you unconditionally.  Then, I have them list all the possible obstacles and distractions. By recognizing the problems we may encounter, we can then make a plan to overcome them. Many times these obstacles are not physical, but are actually rooted in mental and emotional blockages. Finally, I guide them into making medium size goals and then micro, or small, goals for each of the medium goals. When that is done, we now have a step by step plan, similar to the marathon training program, to achieve that long term goal. The impossible just became possible!  

 

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 discovery call!

"Learn to let go of the things you can’t control"

Learn to let go of the things you can’t control.

I just spent a wonderful weekend filled with master classes, mock auditions, and pre-screens with my My College Audition family in Boston, MA. Upon returning to NYC, many of my private students were clicking submit on their early action college applications. A common theme emerged as I coached these students to take the next step, “control what you can control and let go of what you cannot.” Even as I write these words, I am reminded of how important this is in my own life.

We spend so much of our energy worrying about “what if’s” and the unknown, all things that are out of our control. Instead, we should focus our energy more on the preparation of the things we can control. For example, my students preparing for college auditions can control what they choose to wear in the audition to present themselves in a professional manner. They can choose to smile and make eye contact when slating their name and audition material. All of these things do not take a lot of energy or time to prepare, but they do create an impression and set the stage for a positive experience. They can’t control whether the pianist will know how to play their song perfectly or if the adjudicators are running behind and therefore cutting everyone off half way through their songs or how many performers of their exact type are auditioning that day. By worrying and stressing over unknown elements, they are allowing negative energy to fill their mind and body, which can turn into anxiety, low self-confidence, debilitating self talk, and possibly low motivation. All of which are distractions and common obstacles for optimal performance.

Worrying about things outside our control means we are not fully present in the moment. By not being present, we are not engaged preventing us from reaching a Flow state. As talked about last week, being in a Flow state allows us to find fulfillment in our lives, which leads to happiness.

So how does this all pertain to everyday life and what tools are there to help us? We all can reflect on times when we were trying to control things outside of our capacity; maybe it’s a relationship with a colleague, or waiting to hear back from a new job, or starting a business and trying to build your client list, or planning an event for your community. My two favorite tools to use for the things we can control are “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.”

Simply put these are about preparation of the mind and body. Even if you don’t feel completely confident in what you are doing, walking and holding yourself up like you are will go a long way. It’s amazing the effect our body has on our mind and energy. Walking into an interview with your head held high, chest open, and a smile shows the other person you are ready, prepared, and confident even if on the inside your stomach is in knots. What you say about yourself and the language you use, whether out loud or in your head, is important. We know this already from the several posts on self-talk. We want to be mindful that we are supporting our positive self-talk allowing for us to create an upward spiral and not giving energy to our negative self-talk which creates a downward spiral. By always “walking the walk” and “talking the talk,” we can be confident that we are putting our best self forward and that is all we can ever ask of ourselves.

Now, for the letting go part. As much as we may want to we cannot control other people. Letting go is about being present. For the next week, if you find you are trying to control something out of your control, check in with your breath. Take a “time out,” focus on your breath for 5 min, and then come back. Use your thought-stopping and positive replacement techniques to change any negative self-talk that may be creeping in. Go back to your litany and repeat the mantras you created for yourself. This is where your practice comes in to help you and be there for you. Lastly, there has to be an element of trust that everything will unfold in the perfect time/space sequence.  

 

 

Do you need more guidance in letting go and creating a more present and fulfilled 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!

 

TOMORROW, Oct 24th - Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

 

"The key element of an optimal experience is that it is an end in itself. Even if initially undertaken for other reasons, the activity that consumes us becomes intrinsically rewarding."

The key element of an optimal experience is that it is an end in itself. Even if initially undertaken for other reasons, the activity that consumes us becomes intrinsically rewarding
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Last week during one of my middle school dance classes, we were talking about pathways. When I asked the students to tell me what are some examples of pathways in life, one girl answered “the pathway to a career.” Though not the answer I was looking for, she was absolutely correct. I was looking for more tangible pathways like hallways, a staircase, or a dirt road. My student’s response stuck with me. I started thinking back on my pathway to a career, and oh boy has it been curvy, sometimes filled with diagonals, other times seemingly random, but without all the twists and turns I wouldn’t be where I am now and who I am now.

This week I would like to focus on the “Flow Theory.” Flow is a state of consciousness that needs to be obtained in order to feel genuinely satisfied in an optimal experience. Optimal experiences are sometimes thought of as being major events like a performance or a game or getting the job you always wanted, but really our entire life should be one optimal experience. Csikszentmihalyi, the creator of the Flow Theory, identifies eight major components:

-       A challenging activity that requires skills

-       The merging of action and awareness

-       Clear goals

-       Timely feedback

-       Concentration on the task at hand

-       The paradox of control

-       The loss of self-consciousness

-       The transformation of time

We have all experienced Flow at some point in our life. When was the last time you said “time flies when you’re having fun?” Think about what you were doing and see whether the 8 components were present. Most likely they were. It’s easier to experience Flow when we are involved in a task that means a lot to us, for example working on a big project at work or preparing for an audition, but it is harder to reach that Flow state when we are involved in more mundane tasks. And lets be honest much of life is filled with mundane tasks that are necessary to get through in order to achieve that greater goal.

So how do we make it easier to obtain a Flow state with mundane tasks? First, we need to make sure we are fully engaged and being present in the task. We already know mindful listening is a good technique to help with being present. Second, even the most mundane tasks can be fun. It’s about changing our mindset about them. We have many tools to help us with that, positive replacement being one of them. Maybe we make getting through an inbox full of emails into a game? Third, we need to limit the self-talk that becomes distracting. Here’s where our trigger words come in handy.

At times, we may seem lost and that our path is turning into a dead-end or keeps going in a circle. It’s at these times when we need to trust that there is still forward motion. By staying engaged, being present, and trying to maintain a Flow state, that sense of “lostness” will dissipate and be replaced with fulfillment and purpose. We are all capable of achieving this. We have the tools and the skills. Now, we just need to use them to create our practice.

 

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

ONE WEEK left to sign up for the workshop I will be running on Oct 24th - Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

 

"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!

“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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