Category Archives: Day to Day

Why I welcome tears

How often do you cry?

You feel like it’s too much? Too little?
Does it make you uncomfortable to cry? Maybe you even try not to?

I know people who cry every day, people who haven’t cried in over five years, and everything in between.

Some comments I hear from clients are:

“If I start to cry, I’m afraid I won’t stop.”
“If I start to feel it all, it’ll just be too much, too overwhelming.”
“I hate to cry.”
“I only cry by myself, never in front of other people.”

Men, specifically, have told me that thinking about crying feels more or less equivalent to being punched in the stomach.

For such a universal human experience, isn’t it a bit odd how uncomfortable it makes us?

Like most of us (before we’re socialized), I was naturally a pretty sensitive person. And then quickly learned sensitivity didn’t fly in most environments. I took in the subtle messages coming from every angle and learned to suck it up, not let it get to me, and just keep a smile on my face. I remember moving into my college dorm room and putting this quote on the wall: “Live to the point of tears” (… a simple attempt to be more myself). Less than 24 hours went by before a girl walked in and commented on it. Why would you want to be in tears? she asked and laughed. I’ll never forget my feeling of embarrassment. I guess I still shouldn’t show that part of me. Not here. Not anywhere.

I know you can think of just as many examples as I can, of when, and how, and from who you were taught not to cry. Or at least not to cry too much. Now, instead of me giving you all the clinical reasons why holding in your tears isn’t healthy, I wanna ask you instead:

How do you think holding in your tears has affected you? Do you know? Have you ever thought about it?

I finally connected the dots after many years. Like I’ve written about before, I realized holding in my tears made me feel anxious, depressed, and led to a ton of chronic physical tension. Funny thing is, even knowing this, I still sometimes do it! Why? Probably because I want to fit in, in a culture where my tears don’t.

But the good news is I do it much less. Partly because with each year I find it harder and harder to NOT be myself, partly because I care less about what people think, and partly because I see this culture of “hardness” and shame taking us nowhere good.

In attempt to be part of the change, I wanna share some little known info about tears:

1) Humans have always cried, and for good reason. From an evolutionary perspective, tears are a way to enhance bonding and connection (contrary to what many of us fear: “if i cry, he or she won’t want to be near me anymore“). Tears show others we’re vulnerable, which is critical to human connection. In fact, the same areas of the brain are activated when we see another cry as when we ourselves cry. Michael Trimble, a behavioral neurologist (and one of the world’s leading experts on crying) says, “Actually being able to cry emotionally, and being able to respond to that, is a very important part of being human.” He then goes on to explain that those who don’t cry often report more distant relationships.

2) Tears remove toxic substances that build up in the body due to emotional stress. No joke! I thought this was so cool. Dr. William Frey, a biochemist, found that tears cried by subjects who had watched a sad movie had a different chemical composition than tears cried by subjects cutting an onion. The emotional tears contained stress hormones, meaning these chemicals can be released from the body through a “good cry.”

3) Crying does not mean you’re depressed. And, from my perspective, the severity of much depression in this world could lessen if we embraced our own (and each others) tears. Brilliant spiritual leader, Marianne Williamson writes, “No matter what happens in life, it is our choice whether to play it deep or to play it shallow. And whenever we play it deep, we feel our feelings deeply. Times of great sadness might open up painful wounds that were buried before. They might be wounds that are not just ours but generational or societal. Suffering through them with our hearts wide open is not for sissies, but for seekers.”

4) Tears change people. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian psychoanalyst and one of my favorite authors, writes about fairytales. She noticed that across fairytales of many different cultures, “Tears remind people what’s important and save their souls.” She says, “Tears call things to us… they correct things… they provide the missing part or piece.” In the African tale, “Golden Falls,” for instance, a magician shelters a runaway slave girl by crying so many tears he creates a waterfall under which she takes refuge. In the African tale, “Bone Rattle,” souls of dead healers are summoned by the sprinkling of children’s tears upon the earth.

So how much should you be crying? Well, that’s not something I can answer for you. These days, personally, I’m not only “ok” with my tears, but I welcome them, even sometimes seek them. I go through periods of time when I cry once every two weeks, and other times when I cry once every two days. And no matter the frequency, it feels right. Not necessarily because it feels good all the time but because it feels real, it feels honest.

Ok, maybe you’re still thinking that opening up the flood gates is just going to be “too much.” If that’s the case, I’ve got a final suggestion I hope will help:

>> Seek “containment” <<

What do I mean by that? When experiencing strong emotions it’s important to have a physical and energetic structure in place for support. This will help you feel safe, in control, and less overwhelmed by your emotions. There are a number of ways to find/create this “container”:

(*) Talk to a therapist or coach. The structured sessions, the unique space, and the presence of a compassionate professional can offer this sense of containment, and a level of comfort to move through emotions. In a month, I’ll be leading a group through a90-day process of exploration, healing, and growth, during which myself and the group members will be this container for one another. Click here if you’re interested in that opportunity.

(*) Talk to a trustworthy friend. Although I’m a big fan of tears, I don’t believe tears are necessarily meant to be cried in front of anyone and everyone. Tears are sacred. They’re an extremely personal expression of yourself. Choose to share with someone who is empathetic and warm.

(*) Choose a physical space at home where you feel this energetic sense of containment. For me, it’s my yoga mat. For you, it might be your bed. Or a meditation pillow. Or your favorite chair. Wherever it is, make it a holy space. Light candles. Burn incense. Let that safe space become an invitation (perhaps daily!) to explore some of your deeper feelings. If at any point while in that space, emotions become too overwhelming, roll up the mat, walk away from the space, and try again another time. That’s the beauty of the container. Once you’ve created it, you can come and go, and it’ll be waiting for your return.

Was this useful? As always, I’m open to your questions and/or response. And more importantly, please reach out if you’re in need of more love and support.

Hugs!

Jody

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when you’re too stressed for yoga

How you holdin’ up?

No matter which side you fall on, this past week has been an intense one. Shock, paralysis, nervousness, and fear are just a few of the feelings surfacing in me and in my communities. And amidst the whirlwind of emotion, we’re wanting to do something… but don’t know what or when or how.

>> Thing is, it’s my experience that when I’m jittery, overwhelmed, and unsettled, there’s not a whole lot I can accomplish. Or at least not much I can accomplish well <<

So, instead, I stop.
For a little while.
And turn to yoga or meditation.

But sometimes I’ve even too overwhelmed for that! Sometimes I’m just too restless to sit still or follow any kind of lengthy routine. I’ve had lots of those moments these past few months.

Wanna know what I did instead?

I shook it off.

No joke. People don’t use the term “shake it off” for kicks. Quick explanation: you’ve heard of fight, flight, or freeze, right? Both humans and animals use those responses to save their lives when confronted with life-threatening situations. Here’s the interesting part: when animals in the wild experience trauma, they pass through their freeze state by tremoring (literally shaking), which alleviates post traumatic symptoms and allows them to return to normal mobility and functioning.

Now, this doesn’t only help when your life is literally in danger, but any time you’re overwhelmed with stress and emotion. Shaking helps us immediately release excess tension, and prevents it from being stored in the body (and eventually leading to chronic tension).

Making sense?

Most of my life I’ve spent moving my body in very structured, rigid ways (during years of sports and yoga). This simple practice of shaking helps me get the stress relieving benefits of movement without the pressure of doing anything “right” or “wrong.” And did I mention it only takes 5-10 minutes? You can do it on its own or incorporate it into any other movement practice you enjoy.

Anyway, let’s get to it. You ready?
Read through the five steps below then give it a try.

1. Set up your space (yoga mat, candles, incense, music)

2. Keep your feet planted on the ground and begin to shake (bending at the knees, allowing the shoulders to drop), being mindful that you continue breathing throughout

3. Continue for at least 5 minutes

4. When you choose to stop, transition immediately into a few moments of deep breathing, using the following arm motions: inhale, open the arms out to the side and raise them over your head, exhale, allow the arms to drift down the center of your body… continue for at least five breaths

5. Hold your hands in front of your pelvis, palms facing up, while you allow your breathing to come back to its normal rhythm

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Wishing you a very restful sleep… xo

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It is here, it is here, it is here

Every day I write to-do lists. I’ve written thousands in my thirty years. 

And beyond those physical to-do lists, I’ve also got mental and emotional “to do” lists I edit all day long. These lists are a combo of simple errands, big life goals, and anything in between.

On any given day, a compilation of tasks from my to-do lists might look something like this:

– read for school
– write a blog
– get an internship
– email my client
– grocery shop
– pay bills
– make chocolate
– meditate
– get to yoga
– get inspired
– travel
– find love

All of these items, on one level or another, are of course, meant to either maintain, fix, or better certain aspects of my life.

Funny thing is, no matter how many to-do lists I write, no matter how many items I cross off, life stays generally the same. I still have good days and bad days. I still laugh and I still cry. I still seek and find, and I still lose and have to let go. I still feel loved and I still feel desperately alone. I might get an overdose of good, or an overdose of the not-so-good here or there, but in the big picture, life stays generally the same.

This started to make me wonder: 

> what exactly are we striving for with all our to-do lists?

Are we getting so caught up in “getting somewhere” or “achieving something” that we fail to realize that this, the routine, the mundane details, this nowhere near perfect-ness, this mess, is in fact, life… ?

Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, and a man whose work truly inspires me, taught that we can choose to live in rapture, in joy, in ecstasy, that it is not “out there” in some other place or person, that we don’t have to go somewhere or have something, or someone.

Rather, he would say:

“It is here. It is here. It is here.”

Lately, whenever I have a wish or desire, I ask myself:

When I get it or achieve it… then what?

In other words,

Will I be happy forever?
Will everything fall into place?
Will life be perfect then?

And the answer is always no, no, and no.

So, should I stop growing, stop stretching myself, stop evolving? Of course not. But what I could do is become more aware that life is happening here, now, before and after the to-do list. And with that, learn to lean into and appreciate life as. it. is., which will prevent me from putting life “on hold until…”

> What are you putting life on hold for? Is it a clean house? Or maybe money? Love? The perfect body or perfect job?

Think for a sec about what minor and major goals fill your to-do lists, and consider what you’re actually striving for… Is it just a clean house? Or is it the feeling of peace and calm that might bring? Is it just the money? Or is it the sense of freedom and accomplishment you think it would offer you? Is it just the perfect body? Or is it the self-confidence, the love and attention you think would come with it?

As you start to ask these questions, you might be surprised to notice that what you truly want comes only from within you. And that you have access to it today, in this moment, and always.

Tonight I invite you put away the goal setting, the to-do lists, and to simply turn inward. Use the short 10-minute meditation below to bring awareness to all that’s inside of you and to your beautiful life, the one that is happening here and now.

Instructions:

Light a few candles
Play this song

Sit or lay comfortably
Close your eyes

Notice your breath
And mentally repeat: “It is here. It is here. It is here.”

XO,
Jody

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A look into the dark

Think of one or two of your flaws, your weak spots.

And no, not the flaws or weak spots you’d offer up in an interview (i.e. “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m not very good with numbers). Not what I’m talking about here. Not flaws or weak spots that are endearing, cute or insignificant.

Think of the dark ones, the ugly, the truly unappealing. The ones that, after they’re exposed, make you want to curl up in the corner of the room.

Got em’?

These are what psychologist, Carl Jung, said make up the “shadow side” of our personality. It’s the side of us made up predominately of primitive, negative emotions and impulses like lust, greed, selfishness, envy, anger…

Or, as I hear it (and tell it), on phone calls with friends and clients, it’s:

being needy,
desperate

lazy,
anxious,
spiraling out of control

smothering my partner
or withdrawing completely

acting “crazy”
irrational
or “bitchy”

Like I said, not the stuff you’d offer up in an interview.

But it’s a part of you, no? It’s part of me, too.

Now, as a coach, it’s my job to encourage and facilitate change. To help you be the best version of you. But, there’s this truth that’s been following me around lately:

>> Being “better,” doing “better” isn’t all there is and isn’t always the pathway to the “best version of you” <<

What if overcoming our ugliness (aka “changing”) isn’t as important as accepting ourselves as we are, ugly parts and all?

What if it’s within our acceptance that transformation actually happens.

Although Jung referred to this shadow side as the “reservoir for human darkness” he also called it the “seat of creativity” or the “true spirit of life.” So perhaps it’s in getting to know our ugliness (vs. pushing it away), that we could discover something quite beautiful.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting we give up on growth, on change… no, no, no. We don’t get up in people’s faces screaming, “Well, this is me! Deal with it!” Nor do we focus so much on the shadow side that we sink into a negativity that feels out of control.

Really, my suggestion is just to press the “Pause” button for a moment. Pause the resolutions and goal-oriented thinking, and spend time this winter weekend getting to know a bit about your shadow side.

>> What parts of yourself do you so desperately try to hide and/or change?

>> What might be at the root of those emotions/impulses?

>> What behaviors do you use to cover up these feelings?

>> What do you fear might happen if you allow this to be a part of who you are?

>> What could this part of yourself be telling you? What could it be looking for?

>> How could you show yourself some compassion?

This week, my professor defined intimacy as:

“Receiving someone for who they are, with their virtues and imperfections. Allowing someone to be real with you.”

If we hope to receive others in this way (which I know I do) we have to first receive ourselves in this way.

So, for now, I’m going to toss out the idea of a “better” you and a “better” me and instead propose we get on the path to a more real you, a more real me; the beautiful, the ugly, and everything in between.

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Does it feel like home?

Think of your favorite holiday tradition.

Whether it’s lighting candles around the house, baking a Pecan Pie, or watching the black and white version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” I can bet you one thing…

Your favorite holiday tradition is your favorite because it makes you feel like home.

Home.

For some of us the feeling of home might align with where we grew up or the people who raised us. But for most of us, it’s more than that. Eventually, “home” ends up being less about a person or place and more about a feeling.

Home is comfort. It’s joy. It’s the feeling of, “yes, this is me.”
Those people, places, and things that make us feel like home move us, touch us somewhere deep, and then don’t let us go.

So, with that in mind, you wanna know the real reason the holidays make us feel c-r-a-z-y?

Cuz’ it’s the time of year that calls us home! It’s the time we, consciously or unconsciously, start to shed anything that doesn’t feel like home.

Naturally, this shakes things up.

For instance:

a relationship hits its breaking point.
a job no longer excites us.
an apartment or a whole city no longer feels right.

It’s like shaking off the residue from a year (or years) build up of the no good, or the “good enough for now”…

You know what I’m taking about, don’t you?

And as you question these major choices, emotions heighten, and you end up pointing fingers at Mom, Dad, or your annoying sister in law..

No, no, not this year.

Rather than let this holiday season get to you, take hold of it, recognize it’s about you, and see it as an opportunity…

to let go.
to take a different road.
to find your way back home.

“Even when it is our own dismal choices that have blown us off course – too far from what we need – hold faith, for within the soul is the homing device. We all can find our way back.”

– Clarrisa Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves

>> To put yourself back on course, right now, write down five pieces of your life that don’t feel like home <<

( a person, a job, even something as minor as a piece of clothing or a workout routine you dread )

Then, choose at least two to let go of, with ease, this holiday season, knowing, believing, that in letting it go you are taking one step closer to home.

Happy holidays! xo

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The best technology for quieting the mind

Having trouble quieting your mind?

You might be going about it in the wrong way. For instance, here’s how it went for me…

I wanted to start a home yoga practice, so I created a “Yoga Glo” account and voila!, had access to hundreds of virtual classes, depending on how much time I had, my specific aches and pains, etc.

I wanted to learn to meditate, so I downloaded Gabby Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie app, and then “Headspace,” another meditation app considered the “gym membership for the mind.”

I wanted to get more in touch with my soul, cultivate a deeper spiritual life, so I read Danielle Laporte’s email newsletters religiously.

Any of these methods sound familiar? 

The problem was, I started to feel distracted, the way I do when a restaurant menu has too many options. My morning routine started to become full of choosing the “right class” or the “right meditation” or “damn, the internets not working,” or “ok, guess I gotta update the app” … “and in the meantime I’ll just check this one email.”

Truth is: no matter how useful or inspirational a virtual tool might be, technology in essence pulls us away from ourselves.

Over time I recognized my mind “clearing” activities were in reality producing more clutter. Building stress relieving practices via “plugging in” was backfiring because I was building from a foundation that in essence is stress producing. Does that make sense? (If you doubt the stress producing effects of technology, that’s a whole other discussion! More to come in future posts).

I began to wonder:

What made me think after taking and teaching hundreds of yoga classes, that my body didn’t have the wisdom to move without a virtual teacher?

What made me think that to clear my mind or access my soul, I needed anything more than a quiet room and a comfortable place to sit?

While I’m still a huge fan of (and still make use of) all the virtual tools I mentioned above, realizing I held within me all the technology I needed felt empowering. So? I made what was within me my go-to, my trusted guide. Slowly my morning routine started to shift. My menu of options became shorter and shorter. And clarity of mind felt more in reach.

So what does my newfound practice look like?

Below I leave you with my only three non-negotiables, allowing for quite a bit of flexibility. Take em’ or leave em’. Make your practice your own!

1.Unplug – No ifs ands or buts. Choose a time slot every day, a time you dedicate to coming home to yourself (I’d recommend at least an hour, but any amount of time you can stick to consistently will do). During this time you won’t use your phone/ computer/ Ipad. Not for music, not for guidance, not for anything. That can all be enjoyed another time. Think about it – if we can’t/ won’t unplug fully during yoga/ meditation/ prayer… then when?

2. Get on your yoga mat – A good friend and yoga teacher once told me, “Even if you ‘don’t know what to do,’ Just get on your yoga mat. You’ll end up doing something, and most likely you’ll move in exactly the way you need to move.” This doesn’t mean a yoga teacher isn’t valuable it just means you should never let the absence of a teacher hold you back from your practice. Don’t underestimate the knowledge of your body.

3. Light a candle + burn some incense – Make this time sacred. Make it different than the rest of your day. Like the moment you get in bed at night… that’s how you want it to feel. Safe. Comfortable. Inviting.

Does this simple structure work for you? If not, let us know what does in the comments below!
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Anxiety be gone, my top 3 strategies

Type “anxiety” into Google. 

You’ll find something like, “uneasiness of mind”, “emotional distress”, “fear”.

(Keep reading, I promise this will end on a positive note!)

Anxiety isn’t something I ever felt. Honestly. Sadness, yes. Anger, yes. Jealously, yes. But anxiety? I didn’t even know what the word meant until recently.

For years (since my early 20s) I practiced and taught yoga consistently. I didn’t know it at the time, but that lent itself to a life of focus and peace, even among the most uncomfortable situations.

It was why I could keep my cool in traffic jams, why I could effortlessly give of myself in social situations, why city living never stressed me out.

About a year ago, I stopped teaching and practicing regularly. Very quickly I started noticing this “uneasiness” creeping up. It confused me. The non-stop thinking and analyzing. The nervousness. The lack of focus and overwhelm. 

And when I asked a friend if she’d ever felt this before she gave me a crazy look and answered, “Uh… yea. Who hasn’t?”

It got me thinking about what we’ve come to accept as normal. And then it got me blaming (i.e. “it’s my IPhone, I gotta get rid of it”, “it’s the chaos of the city, it’s finally getting to me).

Then it got me scheming… I came up with a plan.

I’d rent a room on farmland and commute to the city. Perfect. At least the place I laid down at night and woke up in the morning would be a peaceful one. I’d leave behind the drunk college girl begging her boyfriend to open his door at 3 am and the garbage trucks barreling by my window hours later. But hold up, what about all the things I love about city living? And about my IPhone, for that matter?

Could it be possible to feel peace among the chaos? Without spending hours in the yoga room?

It became a bit of an experiment. Here’s what I found out: our ability to stay centered, to feel still within ourselves (just like our ability to maintain a healthy diet),  is dependent on how seriously we seek it.

Think about it. If we aren’t actively trying to eat well, we’ll end up filling our bodies with junk, right? It’s what’s most easily accessed and is deceptively appealing.

Same goes for our emotional state. If we aren’t actively trying to find center, stillness, to come home to ourselves (especially in the city) we’ll end up full of junk (constant noise, non stop stimulation, overload of information — deceptively appealing and deceptively comforting).

So, question is: what simple steps can we take every day to increase our likelihood of feeling still and grounded? 

Below I share my top 3 “anxiety be gone” list. Commit to ONE of them for the next week and see where it takes you.

1. Find the sun – This winter, after a week in Tulum, Mexico, I recognized how comforting it was to be on nature’s clock… waking with the sun and following it to bed. I came home to Boston and sought out the sun. Sunrise and sunset. And happened to find a view of both from the roof of my apartment. Who knew? Where will you find the sun? 

2. Turn OFF the lights + light up some candles – Naturally darkness induces a sense of calm to prepare us for sleep. I know it sounds extreme to turn off all artificial light after sunset but in just a few days you’ll notice an ease you can’t find under the bright lights (if I were you, I’d exclude computer and phone after dark as well). Try it for 3 days… (if not to find stillness, do it cuz’ candlelight is sexy).

3. Sit Still – Some might call it “meditating” which I know you’ve thought about doing… if the idea intimidates you just think of it as sitting still. In a comfortable place. With your eyes closed and these sounds. Set your timer for 15 minutes and do it every day for the next 7 days (always helpful to find a buddy who will join you – the more accountability the better to start).

Oh, and before I go! Speaking of stillness and finding center…

I’m super excited to announce a one-day Urban Retreat I’ll be co-leading with my business partner, Ashley, September 7th 2014 (save the date!) Details have yet to be release but what I can tell you is you’ll be spending this one day “time out” fully unplugged and in community with other women… moving, learning, connecting. To stay in the know, get on this list.

Got other strategies to share? 

Please share below!

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  • Praise

    Nancy A.

    "Jody has been an inspirational force in my life. Not only do I eat better, but I'm able to handle difficult areas of my life with honesty and understanding"
    2013-09-15T00:45:15+00:00
    "Jody has been an inspirational force in my life. Not only do I eat better, but I'm able to handle difficult areas of my life with honesty and understanding"

    Heather B.

    "Jody has shown me eating healthy is not a chore."
    2013-09-15T00:45:36+00:00
    "Jody has shown me eating healthy is not a chore."

    Audrey H.

    "Working with Jody not only improved my eating habits, but also created more awareness around the nourishment of my mind, body, and spirit!"
    2013-09-15T00:45:56+00:00
    "Working with Jody not only improved my eating habits, but also created more awareness around the nourishment of my mind, body, and spirit!"

    Angela S.

    "Jody has a natural glow and positive energy about her. Working with Jody has inspired me to find the things in my life that will make me glow and thrive!"
    2013-09-15T00:46:14+00:00
    "Jody has a natural glow and positive energy about her. Working with Jody has inspired me to find the things in my life that will make me glow and thrive!"

    Emily S.

    "Working with Jody has helped me take control of my health which has opened doors that used to seem impossible."
    2013-09-15T00:46:31+00:00
    "Working with Jody has helped me take control of my health which has opened doors that used to seem impossible."
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