Kindness is an interesting thing…

It was as simple as moving a yoga block.

Last night I was in a yoga class. It was a full space, Autumn drawing people towards the cozy ‘inside’ version of life in the Southern Hemisphere. Though yoga is a personal pursuit, trying to maintain your focus within the boundaries of your own mat, close proximity can prelude interaction. With bodies resting about 5 inches apart from one another, the yogi next to me noted my block obstructing my intended movement. He paused and simply moved it out of my way. It was such a simple thing, I had such a strong reaction to it. Then I remembered: “kindness”.

The kindness of strangers

Kindness is not an abstract or foreign concept in my world. The people I surround myself with are wonderful. I think the thing that threw me was the act of kindness was performed by a stranger. It was not expected, not an action in response to anything I had initiated, it was just kindness.

As I left class and thought about the profound response I’d had to something quite simple, I realised it was an example of me “letting kindness in”. In the roles I embody in both a professional and personal capacity I am often the soft landing, the nurturer, where the ‘feel good’ emotions live. Kindness and caring is something I consciously cultivate to offer to others and more recently, myself. In participating in my own kindness and self-care, I have a much greater capacity to be of service to others.

Letting it in

Being the type of person who works well independently, can generally get shit done, letting someone be kind can be a foreign concept. I generally give off an air of “I’m all good.” It’s almost a selfish approach to only ever be the person who gives. Giving allows you to get all the feel good feedback chemical responses, whilst also creating a platform to be seen in an independent, self-sufficient, and ‘together’ human.

Recently, I’ve been working with my idea of being vulnerable and how that allows for others to be kind to me. The final part is letting them. Letting that simple kindness to be met with a grace of gratitude. These new ‘yoga block’ moments provide an emotional feedback loop for me (I get how this sounds like a significant response to something so minor – but you’ve come this far, stay with me). I can see that I’m softening the “I’m okay” vibe and people are stepping into that space with the good stuff. That’s a shift. What a win!

Today’s result

It continues. I woke up to a message of kindness from an unexpected place. It was received with gratitude and love. I spent some time in self care activities before embarking into my role in Integrated Body Therapy and feel really good for it. As much as “I’ve got this” (what ever ‘this’ is), the last 24 hours have shown that kindness is a feeling I’d like welcome into my life on a frequent basis.

This life thing is a team game. If you are keen to have me on your side lemme know here (we can hangout in person/online/on the phone – though a visit to Byron Bay is always good for the soul ūüėČ

Until next time, let a little kindness in.

Alignment is an interesting thing…

Anatomically speaking, there is nothing that pleases me more than seeing someone with well aligned posture and an easy movement. When I was lecturing students in their quest to be AEP clinicians, watching people walk is a nice segue into a whole body assessment. We would have our faces pressed up against the glass watching passers-by and clinically questioning their walking style. The best kind of people watching. “What components are tight?” “What areas require strength work?” “If they were to walk into your clinic, what initial testing would you like to do?” My goal was to ignite the fire of curiosity around movement patterns, whilst also continuing to reinforce the presence of the person held within the physical form. What factors have led them to move like that?

When the body meets emotions

The second layer to this process that sparks my curiosity is what emotion is behind the way they walk? Are the person‚Äôs shoulders rounded due to computer work or a protective sense of ‚Äėself‚Äô? Are that person‚Äôs hip bound up and tight due to overtraining or emotional suppression?

When I‚Äôm working with a client, whether it is a physical or emotional starting point it just makes sense to address both areas. The two are so intrinsically connected, the combination addressing the body and emotions in a therapeutic session is like rewiring the brain and the body simultaneously. A renewed sense of freedom through ‚Äėgetting something off your chest‚Äô through discussion and then layered with aligning opening can impact the shoulder joints, neck and spine. A shift in emotional perspective leading to shift in physical alignment.

The beginning of something magical

The benefits of these simple and effective approaches are immediate and can be improved upon over time. Clinically, an improvement in range of motion and function will allow your body to move with increased ease. As the flow of the physical improves, talking about the emotional blocks can allow the sense of being more emotionally robust and grounded in who you are. The present self is aligned body and mind.

Being the support to someone regaining their strength across the platforms of their life is a truly satisfying occupation. Witnessing the individual unfurl and grow in emotional and physical understanding and wellbeing, kitted out with their very own tools for success. If you’d like to start or continue to build your own tool kit, let me know here.

Anticipation is an interesting thing…

I find myself sitting at the dining room table on a Saturday night surrounded by text books, writing implements, music and my dog. ¬†I am sitting here researching an assignment on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ¬†This is a ‘third wave’ approach that is mostly associated with Steven Hayes, Dr Russ Harris in Australia is kicking some notable goals with it also. ¬†With each theory I spend time learning about, I feel like I’m ever closer to seeing my first paying client. ¬†I can see how these elements can help the people deal with themselves and others. ¬†It’s not a one stop shop for all conditions, for all people, for all situations. ¬†This is one of the things I love learning about most, the uniqueness simply has to be integrated into each person’s approach. ¬†This is also what I love about Exercise Physiology. ¬†Taking the physical presentation of a client, then layering it with all of the psycho-social threads they present to you. ¬†Goal as treating clinician is to identify and collaborate with the client how, in the context of their psycho-social environment, we can move them forward physically.

To recap: I’m a bio-psycho-social nerd. I am friendly though, which I have going for me!

As I sit at my computer, as I sit in tutorials, as I sit at my desk(s) at work, I can see how it all fits together theoretically.  I can see how my therapeutic collaboration with clients can assist Рin as big or little manner as they choose.
As I sit with anticipation, I ponder: what is this skillset I have to offer the world going to shape into?

I am enjoying all the learning, all the pieces showing themselves to me. ¬†My greatest desire is to take a giant piece of golden metaphorical thread and weave them all together. ¬†Resulting in a tangible experience that shifts people’s lives in a forward and positive way. ¬†Pulling the etherial into the experiential.

Whilst I am sitting with anticipation РI practice meditation (practice what your preach/practice), mindfulness, distancing hypothetical thoughts (an ACT technique), and play.  Play with appreciation is my fave.  I can guarantee it will be highly featured in my work moving forward.

I guess that means I’ll leave you, dear reader, with some anticipation of your own. I know this work I do will be big and audacious, in a loving and playful manner. ¬†Let the anticipation build!



Emotions are an interesting thing…

Emotions. Chemical reactions that happen in the brain. They are scary things sometimes.  They can lead to outcomes that are unexpected and bodily sensations that are uncomfortable.  Taking a minute to understand emotions and how they play out in the body can offer a smidge more empowerment towards controlling your responses in an charged situation.

Take for instance the sense of rejection. This may come from a friend, family member, work situation, car salesman, some kind of external environment Рor be entirely made up in your own mind.  There have been situations in life whereby whatever circumstances I have perceived the situation to be one of rejection. Cue brain overload with indignation, arguments with invisible people in my mind, increase of heart rate, increase of shallow breathing, a release of adrenaline (depending on how successful I am in the argument in my head) Рthere is a full body response. 

Then comes the funny part.¬† The part where the situation is resolved through communication.¬† You get an email, a phone call, have a chat with the person who you are feeling ‘rejected’ by and you discover that their reality of what happened is vastly different to yours.¬† A misunderstanding! A miscommunication! You realise that your expectations and internal dialogue played a large role in the emotional (and physical) experience.¬† The context was all made up, built off a foundation that didn’t exist for anyone except myself, yet the experience of ‘being rejected’ was very real.¬†

If we take a view at this through Gestalt theory, the old habit of immediately jumping to a ‘rejection’ headspace may be a learnt protection which goes on to also prevent personal growth. The ability to step back objectively and take responsibility for what’s happening within your body and mind is a form of growth itself.¬† It can be incredibly uncomfortable. Like all things that facilitate growth, it may be painful and it’s totally worth it.¬† Think of teeth, think of growing pains as our bones and joints develop, think of any learning phase for a new skill set. Without growth we become stagnant, stuck, and disconnected.¬† There are many filters in which we can view our mind-body connection and how our brains impact our body and vice versa.¬† This is one example that most people can likely relate to on some level.¬†

Through the willingness to look at what’s happening in real time, it allows me to take actions towards decreasing the impact on my mood and my physical body.¬† I still feel rejected; I do a quick body scan to notice where the tension is, I breathe a little deeper, I look at why the feeling of rejection in this situation hurts, what was I attached to? Was it really a rejection of me or was it that I had in built expectations that were not being met? Perhaps I reframe my thinking around the ‘what happened’ and see if that takes some of the sting away.¬† Ultimately, I am the one who has to deal with this emotion and how I let it land on me.¬† In most cases, I look for a lesson or a value that I can take away in an effort to progress my own growth.¬† It still may hurt, now like growing teeth or learning how to do a handstand, that hurt serves a purpose.

These chemicals have very real implications for life and how you see things.

Be brave and kind to yourself!

Strength is an interesting thing…

Strength, like all things, needs to be balanced. ¬†How does one balance strength? ¬†What do we temper it with? ¬†In the same way that people view muscle bulk (the physical example of ‘strength’ for this example) in differing lights, we can also view the emotional presence of strength in different ways too. ¬†Linking back to the physical example, from a functional perspective muscle bulk needs to create force in all ranges for it to be useful. ¬†Otherwise you’re left with bulk that serves little purpose other than to look at (which may be the goal in some cases).

What do we need to know to create emotional strength that can serve us in a useful manner? ¬†Excellent question. ¬†A great place to start is with emotional intelligence and self-awareness. ¬†Being able to demonstrate strength and then back it up with the foundation of self-reflection and self-care is vital to strength being available on a consistent basis. ¬†If we reserve all our emotional fortitude for the workplace, or one relationship in particular, the rest of our sphere begins to suffer or be drained. ¬†This may be situationally necessary to ‘get through’ a rough time, yet being able to return to self-awareness and subsequently apply self-care strategies is vitally important.

Another component, okay 2 components, in my mind are the ability to be humble and flexible. ¬†Whilst having a goal and backing it with a strong mental fortitude is important, being a bull at a gate may come at a cost. ¬†For better or worse (usually better, perspective pending) we live in a world filled with other people. ¬†If you are striving to achieve a goal, involving others may be inevitable. ¬†The ability to be humble and openly listening to other’s ideas demonstrates strength of character and ultimately good leadership. ¬†Being humble and flexible doesn’t take away from your values, staying true to your core values is an important part of strength of character. ¬†How much more respect do you have for someone who is strong in character, yet humble and flexible in nature?

How do we build emotional strength that is functional and balanced? Introspection, conversation, and the willingness to look at yourself honestly. After those steps are done, or even whilst your moving through the process, take the action.  Action is how we show up to others, and ultimately who we are for other people is the demonstration of who we are in life.

Get amongst it.

Resilience is an interesting thing…

Right, well. That’s a large topic for a Sunday.

I was talking to a friend, let’s call her Jane, who lives overseas who has been having a rough time at work and in life these past weeks. ¬†We had spoken briefly earlier in the week and her affect was the flattest I’d ever heard of her. ¬†It’s a tough thing to hear someone your close with in pain and be able to do so little in the way of support. ¬†All I could do was remind Jane that I’m here to talk to and that I think she is an awesome person. ¬†Little things that can add up to a lot, right?

It turns out that the system Jane works within has not been able to support her, resulting in verbal abuse from customers, minimal support from her supervisor, and essentially being the recipient of interesting (read: inaccurate and hurtful) workplace rumours. ¬†At the end of Jane’s work week, in a state of shock (post verbal abuse from a customer) a colleague sent her home. ¬†Being the intelligent lass she is, Jane took herself off to the gym and allowed the endorphins to work their magic. ¬†In that moment, Jane was able to gain perspective on how she was going to approach the situation and found some inner joy that she could bring back into her day.

I love Jane’s approach for a number of reasons:
1. The stress response from being yelled at – fight or flight – was put to good use in a productive way at the gym. ¬†Under repetitive conditions, I have seen the body turn into in all kinds of unpleasantness in response to stress – blisters under fingernails, open welts and rashes on skin, unexplainable muscle pain… the list goes on.
2. ¬†Jane took responsibility for how she felt in the moment. ¬†Through the interaction with the customer she was polite and calm, then fell apart the moment she felt safe to do so. ¬†Rather than let that emotion remain with her for the rest of the day and wallow in what had occurred to her, Jane removed herself from the situation, ¬†pumped some tunes at the gym and broke into spontaneous dance. ¬†Jane’s joy comes from music – singing and dancing. ¬†Tapping into this allowed Jane’s mood to lift and provided a clearer perspective on the rest of her day.

Ultimately, Jane returned to work that day and was in a position to be able to speak frankly from a proactive perspective with her upper manager.  This outcome may not have been possible if the conversation had occurred without first addressing the Biological (stress response) and then Psychological (thought process and subsequent emotional state)  impact of her work situation.  Jane independently built her resilience back up, addressed her own accountability to being part of the solution and moved forward in a positive manner, for herself and her employer.
Rock star that she is!

Meditation is an interesting thing…

I was pottering around this morning and an idea struck me to listen to an audio book whilst I removed stray sticks and rocks from my puppy’s mouth. ¬†I have a pretty sweet app that links me into my local city council library and have taken advantage of listening and reading books on my ipad all over the world. Technology can be super awesome.

Perusing through the categories, I felt like a non-fiction title (recommendations welcome) and I noted that ALL of the books in the ‘Meditation’ category were currently out on loan. ¬†All of them. ¬†If that isn’t a key indicator into the current state of things!
Pulse check via the library meditation section!

It makes my heart happy that people are seeking information and strategies, all 31 books out in the ether assisting people in dealing with life. ¬†In terms of readiness to make a shift in behaviour – it means those ‘borrowers’ have hit the preparation phase and are seeking information or are in the action phase and are applying it into their days. ¬†More people breathing and calming their nervous system….
That’s got to have a positive impact in the world!

Stages of Change:
Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance
(Prochaska & Velicer, 1997)