Filtering by Tag: positive thinking

“Look blissfully upon all you have created and celebrate your accomplishments – both good and bad.”

Look blissfully upon all you have created and celebrate your accomplishments – both good and bad.
— Eleesha

I recently found out that a proposal I submitted to a national convention was accepted! When I opened the email, I was ecstatic. As I continue to build my coaching business, I have been researching and submitting to conferences and workshops all over the country. Even though I so badly want to expand my audience and business, it is also terrifying and a huge step out of my comfort zone to put myself out there in such a public way. Finding out that my proposal was accepted was an awe-some moment. I immediately wanted to share within everyone I knew, but then I stopped. My subconscious began to take over. Should I share with people? Will they think I am being narcissistic?

Celebrating yourself is very hard for some of us. Many of us our taught from a young age to not boast or celebrate our accomplishments in public for it may make others uncomfortable or come across as egotistical. Instead, we have the belief that one should celebrate in silence.

However, we should feel free to celebrate ourselves in both the big and small ways. When we take the time to celebrate ourselves, we are actually showing gratitude for our accomplishment and honoring ourselves. It helps us to vibrate on a higher frequency and continue to attract more positive energy and opportunities.

It is also important to celebrate the small things especially during the more challenging times. In grad school, my colleagues and I had a “small victories” board in the grad office. The pressures of grad school at times were very overwhelming and having a place where we could celebrate ourselves and each other helped to get us through. There were days where “didn’t cry today” or “actually took 15 min for myself today” were staples on that board.

I have recently joined an online community of women where we support each other not only during times of need, but also during times of celebration. At first, it was a little hard for me to share some of my accomplishments. But over time, I have become more comfortable with myself and the women in the group to be able to share both the small and big achievements, whether it is making it halfway through my running program or booking a new gig. It is a wonderful feeling to be celebrated by others and recognized for your hard work. It’s in these moments that we continue to build the inner strength and confidence that helps us to work through the harder times. Equally, it feels great to celebrate and support the other women for their accomplishments. It inspires me to always strive for my greatest potential.    

What small and big accomplishments you would like to celebrate? Who are the people in your life that you could share those “small and large victories” with? At the very least, take the time to celebrate and honor yourself during these times whether that is through having your own “victory board” or a special ritual you create for yourself.

 

Are you looking to shift your mindset and learn to celebrate yourself more? 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.

“Your life is a story of transitions. You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving onto the next.”

Your life is a story of transitions. You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving onto the next.
— Unknown

If you asked any of the performers I have worked with what my major pet peeve is when it comes to a show or a dance piece, they would tell you, transitions. Transitions are an integral part of the flow of a show. In fact, the transitions can make or break a show. For example, in the Broadway production, “An American in Paris,” there was a great amount of detail given to the transitions. The set changes were choreographed into the dance phrases so that the performers were moving the audience from one scene to the next. As an observer, I was never taken out of the world that was created, and it was beautiful to see how the performers not only interacted with each other but also the environment around them.

Here is another example how art imitates life. Transitions, and our approach to transitions, can make or break our happiness in our lives. I, like many, do not always enjoy transitions because it means that some sort of change probably took place. Change is hard; it is usually accompanied with turmoil, unknowns, and angst. We are so worried and focused on getting to the next place, event, or milestone that we forget about how we are getting there.

If we shifted our view on transitions and decided to allow ourselves to really engage in the transitions, we would realize that they are actually pretty magical. It is during these times that we learn and grow the most as people. We are usually challenged to step out of our comfort zone. Every time we do that we are adding/reinforcing our foundation and becoming stronger individuals. Ideally, we would approach transitions the same way we approach getting to the next place, event, or milestone so that the Flow and engagement in our lives is not disrupted. This is the true manifestation of being present.   

So what are some ways we can shift our mindset on transitions?

Remain Open.

Many times, when we are faced with change and new challenges our “fight or flight” instinct kicks in and we shut down. If we remain open, then we are allowing ourselves to approach the transition with a positive outlook. Helping us to maintain an upward spiral and not downward spiral.

Be Curious.

If we approach transitions with curiosity, then we are continuously asking questions and engaging with the environment around us. We never know what new idea or path may present itself. By saying “Yes,” this new opportunity could lead you to a place that gives you more than you could have ever imagined.     

Find Your Breath.

Your breath is your foundation; it is your life force and energy. Connecting to your breath in times of anxiety, frustration, and confusion will help you to continue to stay open and be curious. A strong breath practice is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

 

I am always reminded that in order to become a beautiful butterfly, the caterpillar has to engage in the transition. If we want to be seen as we are truly intended to be, then we, too, need to engage in all the transitions or our journey.  

 

Do you need help working through and approaching transitions with a new mindset? 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.

 

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be what you were meant to be in the first place.”

Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be what you were meant to be in the first place.
— Unknown

This week the idea of “beliefs” has come up in a variety of situations and conversations with clients and friends. The word Belief can be defined as follows: “an opinion or conviction; confidence, faith and trust; and confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.” So where do we get our beliefs? Many of our beliefs are not actually our own. They are learned or passed down through our family, the schools we attend, and the communities we are a part of. In his book, "The Biology of Belief," Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about how the conscious and the subconscious play integral roles in our lives.

[The] conscious and subconscious are interdependent. The conscious mind – which represents the seat of our personal identity, source, or spirit – is the creative mind…[it] holds our wishes, desires, and aspirations for our lives…the subconscious mind is primarily a repository of stimulus-response tapes derived from instincts and learned experiences…[it] is fundamentally habitual.

Knowing this, we can begin to separate which beliefs come from us and which beliefs have been programed from others. Our subconscious is actually developed between the years of 0-7. If we remember back to that time period, we were all little sponges just soaking up everything around us. We didn’t have the autonomy to choose or the ability to really question the beliefs that were being instilled in us. Unfortunately, many of our fears or limiting beliefs are housed in our subconscious.     

The title quote of this blog popped up in my timehop the other day and further confirmed the importance of writing about this week’s topic. Our lives and finding our way is really about figuring out which beliefs we have that work for us and which beliefs work against us. Once we acknowledge the ones that don’t work for us, it is then our job to release them and replace them with ones that do serve us. We have so many tools for us to use in order to achieve this: thought stopping/positive replacement, journaling, and visualization are just a few. As previously discussed, these tools are not a one shot deal; they are to be used as a practice in the process of undoing in order to be fully realized as we were intended.  

As we go through this process, there will undoubtedly be times when we get frustrated by our limiting beliefs and where they came from, whether it be a parent, a teacher, or a mentor. It is important to remember that it is not helpful to our journey to hold anger or resentment toward that person. They were only doing what they knew to be true and what beliefs had been instilled in them. However, we can break the cycle. We have the power in ourselves to create the beliefs that support us, allow us to be our best self, and help us to manifest the life we want and deserve.

Take some time to think about which beliefs are working for you and which beliefs are not. Here are some categories and questions to get you started: your beliefs around money – How much do you believe you deserve? Is the energy you bring to money open or resistant? Your beliefs around work – What jobs do you value? What does it mean to be successful in your work? Can your passion be your work? Your beliefs around relationships – Do you believe in a partnership? Are you settling because you don’t believe you deserve more? Once you have written down the beliefs that don’t serve you, re-write them to be beliefs that will serve you. Then, take the old beliefs and burn them. They are no longer a part of you. These new beliefs are your mantras and affirmations.

Your beliefs and thoughts are what create your reality. YOU are in charge of your own beliefs so CHOOSE to believe only that which lifts you up.

 

 

Do you need help releasing the beliefs that are holding you back? 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.

“I believe you are never past the point of creating opportunities for yourself.”

I believe you are never past the point of creating opportunities for yourself.
— Felicia Day

The birds are chirping and buds are starting to appear; Spring is definitely trying to make an entrance. Last blog, I talked about energetic “spring cleaning” by clearing out negative and stale energy using the chakras. This week, I would like to go further in offering tools to help plant the seeds of your intentions/goals so that your dreams can also bloom.

A few months ago, I wrote about proper goal setting and how to create a plan to help you succeed. I always advise my clients to start with brainstorming all the things they may want to shift in their lives. I have them think about the different categories of their life: family/friends, career/income, travel, health, etc. Goal setting is a great practice to have when really focusing on a couple these major changes you want to achieve.

Another way to brainstorm in a more creative way is to make a vision board. A vision board is a collage of images of the things you want to manifest in your life. The images can be found, created, written out, etc. This week, I spent time re-creating my own vision board. I took a trip to the craft store and bought some glittery, fun supplies to help. Then, I went through some of the magazines I was planning to throw out and cut out images/words that jumped out at me. I felt there were still some images missing, so I went to the pile of cards I was also planning to discard. Not only did I have a nice trip down memory lane, but I also found the perfect visuals to represent what was missing. What I love about this is that I am also incorporating the positive energy from a thank you or a birthday card from loved ones (which also made me feel less guilty about throwing them out). Now comes the fun part! You get to arrange the images however you want. I even added some chakra inspired colored gems to mine. Once you are done creating the vision board, make sure you hang it somewhere in your room that you will see it every day. Your intentions have now been given to the Universe.

The other change I made to my home this week was to add the color red to my door. In Feng Shui, red doors are thought of to be very powerful. They protect the residents and also provide prosperity and abundance. Because I live in an apartment building, I am not allowed to paint my door red, but I can hang something on the door. I spent the week looking for a red ornament or wreath I could hang, but I couldn’t find anything I felt drawn to. So I decided to make my own. Though I consider myself to be creative in many ways, crafty is not high on the list. However, I did find a wonderful “no-stitch” tutorial to making a wreath on pinterest. I had such a fun time picking out what fabrics I wanted to use and then putting the wreath together! Not to mention, I felt very proud and accomplished once I finished it.

What I love most about these two tools is that you get to be creative as you take steps towards manifesting the life you deserve. As adults (or teenagers), we don’t always give ourselves the time and space to be creative and make something with our hands. Both of these activities don’t take a lot of time out of our lives; in fact they are actually therapeutic and energizing. Plus, you get to see the beautiful creation you made every day, which will continue to allow positive energy to flow through your home.

 

Do you need help manifesting the changes in 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.

“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.

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.

I first heard this quote a few years ago while taking a yoga class. The teacher was leading us through a beautiful vinyasa flow class and used this quote while we were in warrior II so we could visualize something we wanted to release or manifest in our lives as we pulled back our imaginary bow and launched it into the universe. I found this physical, visual, and meditative sequence to be so empowering. We came back to it a few times throughout the class and each time I loved it even more.

Many times throughout our journey, we feel we are taking steps backwards. No matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t seem like we are making any progress. Most of the time we are focusing on concrete changes or feedback to validate whether we are being successful in our goals: for example, being recognized for a job well done at work in the hopes of getting promoted or getting on the scale and seeing a lower number. When these things don’t happen we may begin to loose motivation.

However, change is a process and many times there are major shifts energetically and internally that need to happen before we see a physical manifestation. Just because a boss doesn’t verbally recognize you doesn’t mean she/he doesn’t appreciate your hard work and have more in store for you. Not losing pounds doesn’t mean that your body isn’t getting in better shape. Muscle weighs more than fat.

When working towards one of your goals, if you find you are losing motivation think of this quote. Use it as a mantra to help you stop the downward spiral and trigger you into thinking more positively. You can go even further by making the mantra physical. Warrior II is a pose that everyone can access (video tutorial). When you are in this pose, take your front hand and hold the imaginary bow in front of you. Visualize your goal or anything you feel is standing in your way. Then, take your back hand and pull the imaginary arrow back to your cheek and when you are ready, let it go. Do this sequence a few times on both sides. Remember to connect your breath to your movement.

The more we, “the arrow,” get pulled back the harder we fight against it. Persistence and hard work due pay off. Keep building your foundation, staying present in the work you are doing, fall back on your tools if necessary so that when that arrow finally launches you are fully ready to receive all that you deserve!

 

 

The New Year is a great time to get clear on our goals and make the changes we have always wanted to make. I would love to help and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call.

 

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. “

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
— Bill Vaughn

I always find it interesting (especially now with social media) that in the matter of a few days people’s posts go from pictures of family and friends, holiday decorations, words of love and encouragement to posts of desperation for the current year to end and proclamations for what has to be a better year to come. Why does this shift happen? Are we programmed to look back at things and only see the negative when an “end” is coming?

A few years ago when I was reading a lot about energy frequencies and the Law of Attraction, I began to think about New Year’s differently. I used to be one of those people who couldn’t wait to get rid of one year and truly believed the New Year would provide all that was lacking. However, it became clear to me that even though the ball dropping is a magical moment that I love watching, that ball doesn’t have the power to help me release my negative feelings and help me focus on positive ones. Only I was capable of doing that. If I truly wanted to step into the New Year and attract new opportunities, happiness, health, etc., I needed to leave the previous year radiating on a high/positive energy frequency. This meant I needed to make a major change in the way I viewed my life on a daily basis.

The easiest way to start shifting our mindset is gratitude. There are several ways to start a gratitude practice, which I have already highlighted in a previous post. However, there is one practice I started specifically in relation to New Year’s. Each year, I start with an empty mason jar and throughout the year I write on little note cards and post-it notes enjoyable moments. They range from vacations I went on to professional achievements to impromptu game nights with friends. On New Year’s Eve before celebrating, I read each moment and spread them out on my bed. It’s amazing the amount of things we forget even over one year, but truly incredible to be reminded of them. You can’t help but feel happy, full, thankful, and excited to continue to live this journey you have been given. This practice is so simple and easy to do on a daily basis, yet its payback is so great.

A new practice I am starting this year is to write myself a letter with the intentions I would like to set forth for the New Year. I am not a big fan of “resolutions” as I believe many times resolutions are just statements and not actual goals. This letter will serve as the basis for the goals I would like to set, but more importantly will be a private letter to myself reflecting on this past year and giving encouragement for the intentions I set for the New Year. I will then seal this letter and open it at the end of the year. Reflection is a useful tool in our journey and this letter will be a fun new way for me to do that.

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year! I leave you with this link, which I hope helps to inspire your positive energy frequencies as you approach 2016.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/2015-was-okay

 

And don’t’ forget, I’m currently having a special on Intro Packages. I would love to help you get clear on your goals for 2016 and support you in your journey! 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.

 

“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!

“Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”

Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.
— Sadness, "Inside Out"

One of my favorite movies of 2015 was Pixar’s Inside Out. Though it may seem like Joy would have been my favorite character from reading my previous blogs and the importance I place on changing our mindset to think positively, Sadness was actually my favorite. Without Sadness, there would be no Joy.

If you aren’t familiar with the movie, Inside Out, here’s a quick summary. The five emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear) are humanized as characters and occupy mission control in young Riley’s head. They are in charge of holding onto her memories, which get turned into colored memory balls correlating with each emotion and stored in the memory bank. Pixar even goes so far as categorizing them into long term, short term, subconscious, etc. Without giving too much away, Joy and Sadness go on a journey to help save Riley’s core memories, which make up the essence of who she is.

There are so many things I loved about this movie, but the main thing was that it showed us the importance of all different types of memories. Each memory, whether it’s a happy one or a sad one, makes us who we are. We learn from them and hopefully grow from them using the reflection tools we’ve already discussed (journaling, affirmations, visualization, etc.).

One of the reasons I appreciated Sadness was that she reminded us that it’s ok to feel crappy. It’s ok to cry. It’s even ok to take a day and binge watch a show because you are feeling down on yourself. We need these moments in order to understand and really value the joyful moments.

We often hear people tell us when we are upset or depressed to take it one step at a time and climb back up that ladder or mountain. In that visual, we are assuming that the pinnacle of the journey is happiness. Therefore, it is also assumed that with one faulty step we will fall all the way back down. I like to visualize our journey as more of a circle or a cycle. The goal is to try and stay on the top half of the circle. It’s comforting to know that one wrong step or set back isn’t going to make us tumble all the way down, but instead maybe sway back and forth a little on the top curve. This allows us to be less hard on ourselves and instead gives ourselves the space and time to work on balancing back on top. Happiness isn’t one pinnacle point that we are trying to obtain, but rather the act of engaging in the circle of life. (And yes, that is a The Lion King reference. )

 

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!

“We are only as strong as the foundation we build.”

We are only as strong as the foundation we build.

I found myself saying this many times this week in a variety of situations. First, in a workshop proposal for a women’s leadership conference focusing on success, then when I was teaching yoga to my faculty class and was stressing the importance of proper alignment, and finally when mentoring some of my young adult clients on decision making. So what is our foundation, how do we build it, and how can it help us?

YOU are the foundation for the life you are building. The stronger your foundation, the better you are at making decisions, dealing with adversity, and living a fuller, more successful life. Through observing that which serves and does not serve us, we can lead a more authentic life. There are so many outside ideas and opinions of what we should be doing or thinking, but we need to take the time to figure out what of those things actually align with our authentic selves. It is ok to question and decide to make new rules for yourself. Figuring out what makes you feel alive and what you are passionate about makes you more confident and proud to be who you are. Knowing these things will help you to create a practice that maintains and supports your foundation through using your positive self talk techniques and engaging in activities that continue to fuel your energy not drain you.

After reading an article in Psychology Today about anxiety in college students and working with my private young adult clients, I realized the universal need to teach coping skills. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic in our society, which goes beyond just our youth, to turn to unhealthy vices as a quick fix to help us feel better, to deal with stress and anxiety, and sometimes to feel that we belong. Drugs and alcohol are the most common of these vices, but we cannot forget over eating, smoking, etc. These vices provide us a quick pleasurable experience, which we mistake as happiness. The more we pursue this “happiness” we begin to create bad habits that can stick with us for a while. Having a strong foundation helps us to turn away from these vices and instead find ways to release the stress that help us to create good habits that will continue to serve us throughout our life.

One of the techniques I have begun to use with my clients is having them list the things that give them a “natural high” and make them feel empowered. Acknowledging the places and things that feed our authentic selves can help us in the areas where we struggle. For example, I may not be an active musical theatre performer anymore but I still remember what it feels like to be on stage and the joy it gave me throughout my life. When I am feeling down, stressed, or overwhelmed, I turn to musical theatre to “cope.” I’ll put my headphones in and listen to “One Day More” from Les Miserables and let the chords vibrate through my entire body changing my energy frequency. Sometimes, I’ll go into my room and belt out “Someone Like You” from Jekyll & Hyde giving me that instant gratification and allowing me to “let off some steam.”

What in you life makes you feel empowered and gives you that natural high? Maybe it’s physical, like playing a sport or doing yoga or building something? Maybe it’s more mental, like doing a crossword puzzle? Or maybe it’s more creative, like writing a poem or painting? The next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed and want to reach for that chocolate bar or glass of wine try to do one of the things you just wrote down and see how you feel after that.

 

Are you ready to build your foundation and lead a more fulfilled life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min 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!

 

"Social media is more about Sociology and Psychology than it is about Technology."

Social media is more about Sociology and Psychology than it is about Technology.
— Anonymous

Social media has become a major component in people’s everyday lives. Though I believe it has many positive qualities when used correctly, there is no denying it has changed the culture of our society and sometimes not for the best. However, this week I was reminded, via #Timehop, of a fond memory from the final moments of my Yoga Teacher Training:

“1 year ago….  
As I write my final paper for Yoga TT, I am reminded of this great verse:
            'It is better to strive in one’s own dharma* than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma, but competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity.’                           ~ The Bhagavad Gita”

In the age of social media, it is so easy to get wrapped up in how we compare ourselves to other people’s “news worthy events.” We start to judge ourselves, especially if we are not where we think we should be in our careers, in our love lives, in our health goals, etc. The inner voice becomes a critic not a motivator. If we allow this critic to take over, we give in to the downward spiral. Luckily we have our tools (our litany, thought stopping techniques, trigger words, and positive replacement) to help us maintain our center and empower us.

It is also important for us to be mindful of what we share on social media. All of our posts are a reflection of ourselves and give off a certain energy. The energy we put out into the world is what we attract back to us. We have the power and control to choose to fill our energy with positivity and purpose. We do ourselves a disservice when we surround ourselves with clutter and negativity.

We need to remind ourselves that life is not a competition, but a journey and a process. One of my FB friends posted this the other day, “Just because you’re taking longer than others does not mean you’re a failure. Keep going.” It is in the enjoyment of growing and helping others that we find true fulfillment and therefore, happiness and real “success.”

* dharma - “designates human behaviors considered necessary for order of things in the universe, principles that prevent chaos, behaviors and action necessary to all life in nature, society, family as well as at the individual level. Dharma encompasses ideas such as duty, rights, character, vocation, religion, customs and all behavior considered appropriate, correct or morally upright.

 

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!

“It is not happiness that brings us gratitude, it is gratitude that brings us happiness.”

It is not happiness that brings us gratitude, it is gratitude that brings us happiness.

Earlier this week, I was having coffee with a friend when an alarm went off on my phone at 9 am playing a whimsical melody. Confused, my friend asked what it was. I explained it was the reminder to write in my gratitude journal. This sparked a conversation about what a gratitude journal was and then the question, “what if you don’t have anything to be thankful for?”

This week’s focus is on the practice of gratitude. Gratitude is defined as the “quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” For some, this practice may come easy and for others, there may be some challenges because we are used to talking about all the things we don’t have and all the things we wish were different in our lives. The great thing is that we can use our positive replacement tool to help us see our lives through a different lens.

Years ago, I started a gratitude practice where I bought a special journal (there is nothing better than buying a new journal) and I wrote on the first page, “Things I am Thankful For. No Negativity Allowed.” I made a commitment to myself to write every day at least 10 things I am thankful for. At first, this was hard, especially on the days when I was struggling with who I was and where my life was going. I forced myself to dig deeper and always came up with 10 things. Then there were other days when I couldn’t stop writing things I was thankful for. I started realizing that after a while I looked forward to writing things down and that my overall outlook on life had shifted.

There are many ways to start a gratitude practice. You can dedicate a journal to just the things you are thankful for and decide to write in it every morning when you wake up or right before bed. Nowadays, with technology there are apps that are digital gratitude journals where you can even upload a photo to each day’s entry. (This is what I actually use now since I travel a lot.) Another practice I started a few years ago was on Jan 1st to take a big mason jar and throughout the year write special moments, exciting accomplishments, etc on colored post-its and place them in the jar. On New Year’s Eve, I open the jar and spread the post-its out on my bed and read each one of them. It’s amazing the amount of things we forget over the year, and I love getting to relive each memory even for just a second (not to mention the different colored post-its make an aesthetically pleasing collage).

I did answer my friend’s question, “what if you don’t have anything to be thankful for?” There is always something…waking up each morning, being able to eat, having a loving family, supportive friends. Living in NYC, I am always reminded to be thankful that I have an apt with a bed, heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer. These may sound like givens, but for many they are not. Even when it feels like everything is going against us, every experience offers a space to grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and for that we should be thankful.

The small amount of time it takes to stop and be thankful will be rewarding in so many ways. I challenge you to start a practice of your own and after a week reflect on how you feel, how you view your life, and how you see the world around you.

 

Are you ready to shift your lens and 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!

“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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