Daily Bliss – August 11

The Angels remind us that leadership is not about being “in charge”.  It’s taking charge of ourselves–our emotions, actions, and healing and growth needs–and holding authentic space for others to do the same.  We have opportunties to be an example of this every day, if we’re willing to take the leap.

For more info and inspiration to Awaken, Heal, and Lead, visit www.aspiritledlife.org.

Love Full Out – Being Present

close up, topless woman body covering her breasts

As you know, I started off this year with the inspiration to Love Full Out.  In doing so, I’m keeping my focus on three main practices in my daily life:

  • Be present
  • Be curious
  • Be open to receiving

Last week, I got my first big opportunity to practice being present.  You may have noticed I didn’t post an article last week.  All week long, I had a sinus headache, an earache, and felt all-around lousy. I thought it was allergies or the changing weather, but apparently, it was a cold.

As per my usual, I don’t have time to be sick.  It’s the first of the year, after all, and there is planning to be done.  After a break from work and school, we were all trying to get into a normal routine.  I needed – wanted – to write, to work, to get back into my groove.

So I tried to rally. I didn’t miss any work, but by the time I got home each day, I was exhausted.  Early bedtimes, Echinacea tea, and even hot toddies didn’t give me the energy I sought.  I finally acquiesced. The cold simply had to run its course.

Such is the way of being present.  My reality was having a cold.  Period.  No matter how much I wanted to pretend or ignore or fight, my body needed rest.  It needed nurturing.  And it needed me to be present to its needs.

How often when we consider being present, do we forget out about our most important instrument, our bodies? 

How often do we run ourselves ragged, while our bodies faithfully preserve to keep us moving? 

How often do we ignore the aches and pains and cries from our bodies to slow down and pay attention?

BEING PRESENT – LOVING FULL OUT – INCLUDES KNOWING AND RESPECTING THE VOICE OF OUR UNIQUE BODIES

Yes, our bodies talk to us. They tell us what they need and want to stay healthy and functioning, but we’re usually too busy to really listen.  Or we don’t believe they actually have this capacity.

So how do we stay present? 

We get in touch with our unique bodies.  We sit in quiet contemplation daily and slowly scan our bodies from head to toe.  We notice how each part feels in that moment.  We ask our bodies what they need from us.  Then we stay quiet and listen for what comes up.  Really, truly listen.

We tell our bodies how much we love them and we thank them for being the vehicles that ensure we move forward.

We apologize for any harsh words we’ve said.  For the moments of disdain and disgust.  For the times we wished for a different shape or size or color.

We touch our bodies gently and tenderly, like we would any other love in our lives.  For this love keeps us alive.

We trust that when our bodies tell us they’re sick or sad or tired, they are.  And we take care of them.  In return, they will trust us back.

For many of us, it will be the first time we’ve given our bodies this kind of attention and compassion.  It may feel awkward and uncomfortable and we may not even fully believe what we’re saying and doing just yet.  Presence is a practice.

Make a daily commitment.  Pick just one of these and repeat it until you really feel it in your heart and soul as truth.  Then add to it.  Make it your own.

Above all, commit to being present with your body.  It’s the first step to being present in all other areas of your life, and to Loving Full Out.

Love & light,
Ashley

http://www.aspiritledlife.org/articles/love-full-out-being-present

8 Tips to Make YOU a Priority this Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again.  The holidays.  It’s one of my favorite times of year, yet it also can bring with it a great deal of stress.

I love the decorations and music, time off with my children, and visiting family. I love the sights and sounds that accompany Christmas, and especially the traditions.  We pick out a live tree, the kids trim the house in a nauseating array of snowmen, glass figurines, poinsettias, and lights.  We bake sugar cookies and the kids take great pride in creatively decorating each individual one with homemade icing and sprinkles.

At the same time, I have so much internal pressure to accomplish my to-do list that I tend to overbook myself, both physically and energetically.  I stress about finding the most perfect, thoughtful present for each person.  I spread myself too thin with arbitrary activities and deadlines.  I try to fit everything into a short span of time, while neglecting my self-care for fear of neglecting something else that’s just as important.  In no time, I feel overwhelmed, irritable, and exhausted. I start canceling plans, shuffling commitments around, and feeling like a human game of Tetris.

Do you do that too?  Or do you have holiday stress conquered?  Let’s share our best tips and tools for staying grounded and peaceful this holiday season!

This week, our focus is on how to make ourselves a priority in spite of all we have to accomplish.  Below are eight tips to remind you to take care of your whole self:  body, mind, and spirit!

  • Take time for you.  Spend 5 minutes (or more) just for you every day –you deserve it!
  • Breathe. When you feel stressed, take a few deep breaths. This too shall pass.
  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep causes stress & irritability. Make it a priority to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night (7-8 is even better!).   Take power naps when you can. Find time for a 15-minute snooze, even if you have to forfeit something else. Your body & mind will thank you!
  • Watch your sugar intake. Too much sugar can make stress worse. For a sweet fix, grab some fruit instead! Eat your greens! Counter the rich holiday foods with healthy, nourishing green vegetables. A nourished body is less stressed!
  • Don’t over commit. There are so many opportunities & expectations. Prioritize your activities against your values—what really means the most to you—and stick to it.
  • Exercise. Don’t use the busyness of the holidays as an excuse not to work in some movement. Just 15 minutes a day for a brisk walk, yoga, or even stretching will help reduce any stress you’re feeling!
  • Be present. Don’t worry about the future or the past. Simply show up for the people around you, and especially for yourself.   It will all get done, or it won’t and then it will be in the past and you’ll be on to something new anyway.
  • Mind your energy.   When we get frazzled, it’s likely because energy is going out in all directions and not coming back in to us.  Sit quietly, visualizing yourself surrounded by white, healing light, and allow yourself to simply receive.

What tips do you have to share that keep your stress levels in check over the holidays?  What one item from this list will you commit to do for yourself to ensure more peaceful holidays this year?

Love light,
Ashley

Feeling Our Way Through Sadness

Concept tristesse

Recently, two respected co-workers left one of the organizations where I work just weeks apart, and with each departure, I found myself unexpectedly sad.  These were professional colleagues, not even people who I spent time with outside of work.  Yet up came a strong sadness, without warning, taking me a bit by surprise.

Historically, I’ve avoided sadness and other difficult emotions.  I find that I’m not alone.   Almost everyone who comes to me for healing work recognizes they need to shift something.  Many aren’t aware that what they need to shift is a deep sadness, carried for months or even years and often masked by anger, depression, stress, busyness, and other emotional layers of protection.  It’s often surprising and personally challenging to confront someone else’s sadness, because it inevitably taps into my own raw, unhealed places.

Through years of my own work, I’ve experienced the value of working through and allowing emotions as a healthy part of a self-care routine.  Though we often think self-care means avoiding anything painful or disturbing, in reality, healthy self-care entails allowing and supporting ourselves to move through difficult emotions and painful experiences.  In moving through, we may temporarily feel discomfort, but we also have the opportunity to discover our strength and to experience the contrast between the shadows and the lighter side of life.  It’s like a controlled forest fire; sometimes we need to allow parts of our internal forest be burned up in order to make way for new growth that follows the devastation.

That’s why it’s so important to have a dynamic toolbox of self-care techniques to address emotional triggers and deal with sadness and other emotions as they come up.  Below are six tips that I’ve cultivated (and am still learning) for my own self-care routine and share with women I support in their own healing work.

Give in – When you feel the waves of sadness coming, don’t fight it.  Yes, it can be scary to feel the intensity of those feelings.  Yet like waves, they will pass and bring with them a sense of clarity and cleansing.

Breathe – Most of the time when we encounter something difficult or painful, we hold our breath.  We take shallow breaths, which restricts the oxygen to our lungs, cells, and other organs.  Taking deep, purposeful breaths is not only relaxing, it gets the oxygen where it needs to go to counteract the fight or flight response which happens with stressful experiences.  Childbirth classes teach breathing exercises for a reason—because it helps to get you through painful experiences.

Hold space – Don’t let your feelings wash in and drown you.  Set a sacred container for the sadness to enter and be enclosed in a safe and intentional way.  This can be ritualistic, such as setting up an altar, or involve enlisting the help of a trusted counselor.  It can also be energetic, by creating clear energetic boundaries for your personal space, practicing mindful movement like yoga, and using healing techniques, such as energy work and Epsom salts baths, to keep moving the shifted energy out.

Take a break – Working through intense emotions is difficult work.  It can’t always be completed in an hour, a day, or even a week.  Sometimes it takes years, depending on the magnitude and depth of the situation.  Give yourself the gift of taking time out to take care of yourself in other ways.  Go to work, tend to your family, nurture yourself with good food.  But be sure not to let the important work go until it feels complete.

Be open to more work– Sometimes we feel things are complete and we’ve moved on, only to unexpectedly face them again.  This is normal.  We did all the work we needed to earlier.  We weren’t ready for this wave.  Or the timing wasn’t right then, and now it is.  Follow the same process of giving in, staying connected to your breath, holding sacred space for yourself and your feelings, and give yourself a break when you need it.

Know when to ask for help – Sometimes, no matter how much you breathe and feel and hold space, it’s simply not enough.  You need something more.  You must be willing to be honest with yourself and ask for extra support when you need it to see you through safely.    This might include talking with a good friend, finding a support group, consulting a therapist, or scheduling a session with an energy healer.  This might be a whole team of people supporting you.   As long as you get the help you need.

What experiences do you have with sadness?  What self-care practices help you get through difficult emotions?  Do you feel like you need support working through sadness?  Feel free to reply with your comments or questions and let’s chat about whether energy healing might be the support you need.  I’d love to be on your team!

Love and light,
Ashley

Daily Bliss – January 19

The angels want to remind us that we spend a lot of time focused on what we offer the world, and not nearly enough time on what we can offer ourselves.  We have an overwhelming abundance of love, joy, and peace inside, and what slivers we have left after a long day, we still often squander away on something else.  Find 5 minutes,  just 5 minutes today to give just to YOU.  I promise to do it too. ❤