Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Tips for extending forgiveness
By: Marissa Anteby
Letting go of anger, pain, sadness, etc. enables you to transcend the limiting confines of these emotions and free yourself to awaken more positive sides of your identity.
What benefit does holding on to hurt feelings provide you? Your rational self may be quick to answer, "Nothing." However, somewhere inside, there's a longing, a magnetizing force, that doesn't want to release the ache. You may work towards forgiveness, yet that tiny part of you, works in polarity, reeking havoc on your attempts for peace. It won't loosen it's hold until you replace your subliminal desire for turmoil with an outright drive for happiness.
By making a conscious decision to lighten the grip of resentment or revenge, and reclaiming your inner joy, you are that much closer to experiencing compassion, kindness, and empathy for yourself and others. Instead of squelching your feelings, recognize them, air them out, then let them dissipate. (Don't use this an an excuse to vent to others. Have a private conversation with yourself!)
Holding a grudge and harboring bitterness does more damage to you than the offending party. You are the one traumatizing yourself! Dwelling on mis-deeds enables hostility to take root in your mind, and even in your body. It becomes a pattern that you fall into. The more this pattern is repeated, the more it will be repeated, until you forget other means of action and re-action.
Here's a paradigm for forgiving:
1- Reflect. Ruminate over the bare bone facts of the specific situation.
2- Decode. How has your interpretation of the event colored your reaction.
3- Analyze. What effect has this event and reaction had on your life, health, and well-being.
4- Choose. Abandon your role as victim and regain control and power over your thoughts.
5- Accept. Understand that whatever took place already, can't be changed. You can and will move on.
6- Forgive. You are wiser for having this experience. Allow yourself the 'indulgence' of forgiveness.
7- Commit. Pledge to evolve with the process of change. Appreciate the value of forgiveness.
You may find that past wounds no longer define you, and your newfound understanding widens your view on other areas of your life. Notice that all this talk of forgiveness had nothing to do with anyone else but you. You, and only you, can take responsibility for what you feel. When and how you forgive is solely up to you!
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tips for formulating resolutions
By: Marissa Anteby
When it comes to New Year's resolutions, scribbling down a list of habits to change is relatively simple, the hard part is sticking to it. Perhaps if you set your sights around the feelings you'd like to have in the coming year, instead of achieving some specific goal, you may be more apt to follow through.
After all, a habit is simply something you do often enough, that it becomes an involuntary 'response.' The trick to kicking a negative behavior is delving deep under the layers of distractions to view the root of what you are 'responding' to. It boils down to self-awareness. If you are conscious of your thoughts, you will begin to realize certain prominent patterns. This acknowledgement leads to a shift that in turn makes an imprint on your sub-conscious.
For example, if you wish to lose weight, it's not your body that needs modification, it's your mind. Once you alter your perspective, your physique will glide into a place where it is naturally meant to be. Until then, your ego will continue to get in the way and sabotage your efforts.
Trust that you intuitively know a harmonious balanced state. At times, your psyche can use a gentle reminder that you already are perfect. For your natural state to emerge, you don't have to add anything, but rather peel off unnecessary masks. No matter how much you work out or how many calories you burn, you won't see a difference until you change your attitude about eating and exercising. Once you release expectations and pay attention to making healthy choices, a total transformation will be yours!
Any mindful practice will help on your quest; psychotherapy, meditation, Yoga, painting, even washing dishes can be a vehicle for introspection. By carving out time in your schedule for yourself, you are proclaiming to yourself and everyone around you, that you are important. This belief will carry you to a new appreciation of caring for yourself and taking responsibility for your decisions. Climbing into your own head and exploring how and what you think, brings about a realization that you can no longer fall back to the crutch of blaming others or external circumstances for what happens to you.
It becomes apparent that merely going through the motions won't cut it anymore. Just because you are doing something, doesn't mean you are accomplishing anything! Sometimes, it's better to do nothing, without falling prey to mistaking busyness for action. Then, when you are truly ready, you can map out your moves wisely. All your resolutions will stem from positive intentions.
Here's steps to take for a well devised strategy:
1 - Set aside time. Make an appointment with yourself to contemplate the changes you seek, so you are not rushed. You give your attention to an abundance of people in your life, don't you deserve undivided quality time, too?
2 - Write it down. Words are powerful. They are even more powerful when written. When you write something, there is a copy of it stored in your brain. This helps with solidifying and aligning your conscious and sub-conscious desires. Start your list with the feelings and emotions you want to experience more of. Then branch out into activities that will illicit them.
3 - Be accountable. Keep a log of your progress. Or better yet, tell a friend about your plan and let them track it. Hearing your own words will make the verbiage more real... like an affirmation. Plus, when your willpower dissolves, you will carry on anyway because you won't want to appear like a quitter!
4 - Incorporate rewards. Set periodic benchmarks and once you've reached them make sure to reward yourself. For example, if you aim to go speed walking for an hour every day, at the end of one week, buy yourself a new pair of sneakers. Plot increments and rewards in advance so you have something to look forward to.
5 - Allow for guffaws. You are human, after all. When you make a mistake or goof up, take it in stride. Don't ditch your whole routine because you missed a day of exercise or whatever it is you blundered. Learn from what you do and from what you don't do!
6 - Enjoy time with you. This is all about spending time with yourself to get to know who you are, and how to be the best you. None of this should be punishment, but rather a gift to yourself. Find ways to make life more of what you want it to be.
Good luck. Even the shortest of lists when done with dedication, is sure to keep you occupied until next New Year's!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Tips for climbing a virtual mountain
By: Marissa Anteby
Everyone faces challenges in their lives, that's nothing revolutionary. What is news is a growing theory that you can practice building up your mental know-how for times when you'll need it most. Strengthening your acumen is a simple matter of fortifying your imagination to deal with whatever comes your way. Visualizing yourself overcoming one adversity will ready you for others, even if they are of different nature. Seeing yourself tackling insurmountable obstacles is good rehearsal for your next real life quandary.
For example, if you picture yourself beating the odds by climbing a huge mountain, the symbolism will be imprinted on your brain and present itself when you need to be brave and transcend your fears for something in your daily life. The following guided meditation is the perfect illustration of vanquishing your own personal doubts to triumph in the face of uncertainty.
Read the passage below then close your eyes and imagine the scene unfolding before you, like you've managed to step into the story and become the protagonist.
It's early morning on a crisp fall day. You're fixated on climbing a mountain that's not too far from your home. You've done some research and discovered that all the local alpinists recommend this one guide who is supposedly the best. You've already telephoned her weeks ago and set up an appointment to climb the mountain with her today. You know it's not going to be an easy trek but you are optimistic about reaching the summit and look forward to taking amazing photographs from the peak.
You leave your home and make your way to the rendezvous point. You exchange the usual niceties as you greet each other and set out on your adventure together. You've packed all the essentials in your knapsack and carry it on your back. The guide isn't very talkative but you gather that she knows what she's doing and you feel comfortable following her. You both start up a winding path to the base of the mountain. There's a chilly breeze in the air and it seems to get colder as you pass under a tangle of tall trees.
At times the terrain is rugged and coarse but you stick close to the guide and make it through the rough patches unscathed. You are grateful for her knowledge and steady pace. But as you grow hot and tired, and the trail seems endless, you wish she would slow down. She doesn't. She continues at her usual clip, hiking non-stop. Until you reach a small stream. It's there that she allows you to sit down and unburden yourself from your gear. She makes a bowl out of her hands and dips them into the fresh water for a drink. You copy her and feel the icy liquid trickling down your throat. It refreshes all of your senses and you are revived enough to take on the next leg of the journey.
There are many quick dips and elevations, making it hard to keep up with the guide. At times, you wish you never came out to the mountain. You blame yourself, you blame the guide, you even blame the rising of the sun for making the trip arid and arduous. The guide is so far ahead, a few times, you think you've lost her. When you want to give up, the guide comes to you and urges you to keep going. She says you've come really far and there's not that much further to go. Her words of encouragement help you for a short while but then worry seeps back into your mind. You feel lost and you miss the comforts of home. You grow uncertain about the guides ability to get you out of there. With no other option, you trudge on.
Seeing that you're losing hope, the guide takes your hand and tells you, "You can do this." The words echo in your head and you repeat them again and again with each new footstep. Slowly but surely, you are nearing the top of the mountain. The air is still, and time seems to be moving in slow motion. You dig your toes in to the final foothold and hoist yourself up with all your might to stand at the pinnacle. You can't believe the beauty spread out before you. It's the most inspiring scene you've ever seen. You're in awe. You feel a rush of exhilaration through your bones. It was all worth it; the physical and mental anguish was nothing compared to the privilege of viewing such magnificence. You turn towards the guide and she flashes you a knowing smile. Before you get a chance to shoot a single photograph, she takes a leap. Without skipping a beat, you follow right behind.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tips for emptying your mind
By: Marissa Anteby
Even the most well-adjusted people can use a break from themselves every now and then; a little time to turn off their internal computer and veg out. Maybe that's how they get to be so stable in the first place, they know when to stop and take a breather. Unfortunately, the majority of us wait to try and schedule in some downtime in order to step away from the office, ditch the carpool duties, or forgo our incessant social networking for an hour. The antidote to constantly being "on" is finding ways to lose yourself no matter where you are. Any reduction in stimuli or brief decompression in which your mind has an opportunity to slow down, can do your psyche good. The following do-it-yourself relaxation exercise can be practiced anywhere, for as long or as short as you like.
First, clear your mind. Awww, that sounded so easy, right? Of course, the instant you try 'not thinking', a barrage of information comes flooding in. So instead of grappling with holding back this deluge, just be still and observe what's going on inside. Watch how your attention drifts from one idea to another. Don't attempt to suppress your internal chatter, but don't get caught up in actively following one train of thought through from beginning to end, either. See if you can let concepts come in to focus and gradually fade on their own. Like they somehow get fuzzier, blending into one another softly.
Gently close your eyelids (you can open them in a moment to read what to do next, but first enjoy a few seconds with your eyes shut, not having to do anything.) With your eyes closed, feel the meeting points between your upper and lower lashes. Relax your eyes, like you're allowing the inner corners of your eyes to drop deeper in to your head.
Slowly, shift your awareness from your eyes to your nose. Notice how an inhale arrives through your nostrils and fills your body with air, puffing you up, bigger and bigger. The exhale originates from your feet, and glides all the way up your body and right back out through your nose, taking with it every last bit of air. Follow this full body breathing in and out for a few cycles.
Then settle your attention in your feet. Maybe this is the first time you are solely thinking of your feet and how they feel. What are the sensations in your feet? Is there any tightness or fatigue? Is there space and ease? What do your feet feel like today? Spend time here with your eyes closed, sitting perfectly still, as you concentrate on the energy flowing in the bottoms of your feet; the heels, arches, balls of the feet, and the backs of the toes. Then transition to the tops of your feet; your metatarsals, skin, veins, and ankles.
Move your mind to your legs. Get a sense of your shins, calves, muscles, bones, and blood flow. Watch as your consciousness floats around your knees, feeling the joints, cartilage, connecting ligaments, tendons, etc. Let your breath saturate the fronts, backs, insides, and outsides of your knees.
Invite your calming breath to slide up your legs, infusing your thighs; inner, outer, fronts, backs. Like a slow paced energy is soothing your legs from the inside out. This energy encircles your hips and traces your pelvis. Notice if you're gripping your buttocks. Let your gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus all release towards the ground.
Visualize your breath rising through your trunk and low back, evenly filling your rib cage and lifting your torso. Do you have any discomfort in your low back or spine? How about your stomach or chest? Are there places of mobility and freedom? What's going on in your shoulder girdles today? What do this inside rims of your shoulder blades and collar bones feel like? Can you wander around in there, letting your breath be your guide?
Send your sensitivity down your arms, to your triceps, biceps, upper arms, elbows, lower arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. Are your arms heavy? Light? Explore each finger, going one by one. Then follow the passage of air back up towards your head.
What does your neck feel like? Is there an ache or tension? How about in your jaw? Are you clenching it? Or are your teeth slightly parted, and your tongue peacefully resting at the roof of your mouth?
Let your breath seep into your cheeks, forehead, face, ears, and skull. Are your facial muscles taut or are they softening with each breath? Rest your ear canals. Without straining to hear, drop in to the silence within.
Which body part could use a little more of your attention? Perhaps there's some excess energy being stored in one particular zone. Are your muscles squeezing in somewhere? Mental and emotional stress has a way of infiltrating the body and manifesting itself physically. To undo such unwanted pressure, continue to send your warming breath to the parts of you that need it most.
Now that you've identified where tension is lurking, it's time to figure out what the source is? What issues or events are you storing in your body? The answers may be closer to the surface than you realize.
Imagine that you can make a box and put all your unresolved arguments, troubles, etc. in this box. See yourself designing the box to your liking; selecting materials, colors, textures, fasteners, and all the supplies you'll need. Close your eyes and pretend that you can fill this box with everything that is cluttering your mind and body; other people and their problems, negative attitudes, unmet expectations, unpleasant memories, destructive words, and loathsome images.
Say to yourself, "My mind will be roomier if I don't harbor thoughts about..." and complete the sentence over and over, as each person, attitude, expectation, memory, word, and image appears and is placed in the box. Don't try to rationalize or explain who or what you're placing in the box, just concentrate on clearing everything out as you fill in the sentence and the box. Keep repeating, "My mind will be roomier if I don't harbor thoughts about..."
When you feel that you've made space for yourself, make believe that you are putting the lid on the box and tossing it in the garbage. Everything that is in the box, is no longer part of you (even if it's just a few minutes until you acquiesce to the urge of reclaiming your box,) enjoy this time breathing in to your now very spacious body.
Were you able to make room inside of yourself for you? Did you unload issues that take up time and energy without any substantial benefit to your life? Hopefully each time you return to this exercise you'll have less and less items to fill your box, or at least they will be different each time!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tips for deciding quicker
By: Marissa Anteby
Do you procrastinate when it comes to finalizing a decision? Instead, do you agonize over the detailed minutia of what otherwise should be a simple choice? Are you stymied, unsure of how to proceed? Have you ever marveled at people who miraculously make perfectly logical snap judgments on the spot? Well, not to worry, you too are capable of finding easy solutions based on what you perceive as minimal information. Your brain is already wired to leap to conclusions within seconds. It filters through thousands of bits of pertinent and non-essential information each minute. In order not to overwhelm you, a large portion of these highly sophisticated thoughts are relegated to your unconscious. This part of your mind employs various problem-solving techniques and adapts swiftly by making assessments, warning of danger, and initiating action. The less you think about 'thinking,' the easier it will be for you to get out of your own way and for the answers to emerge from your subconscious to your rational mind.
Spontaneous decision making is innate in all of us. Yet, somehow we are leery to use this kind of rapid cognition. We falsely believe that gathering more facts will help us make an informed choice. The opposite is true; your initial reaction, preconceptions, and the primary flurry of images that flood your brain are crucial elements in educated decision making. You automatically gather information instantaneously using hunches and gut feelings. Refer to the guide below to make better decisions, faster:
- Identify the problem. Breakdown the scenario to one question.
- Look at the upside and downside. How will your decision impact you and others?
- Give yourself permission to fail. If you learn from what doesn't work, you will be that much closer to what does work. Think of small decisions as practice for bigger ones.
- Remember a good decision. Recalling an earlier success will put you in a positive frame of mind and help you to visualize more of the same for the future.
- Play with different options. What would it look like if you choose this or that?
Keeping your eye on your goal is the surest way to reach it. By seeing all aspects of a situation as a whole, instead of as disconnected isolated parts, you naturally arrive at fuller conclusions. Try to weight your options in thoughtful order of what fits best with your needs and wants. If you're comfortable, chances are you're operating on some form of wisdom from something that worked in the past. Over time you will master the art of consciously capturing and distilling lots of information from previous experiences and projections in to the future, at once. With each new choice you face, you subsequently navigate faster through unstructured data, bring it all together to some semblance of order, and find greater ease in deciding what to do.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Tips for asserting your rights
By: Marissa Anteby
Do you sometimes find it difficult to articulate your thoughts? Are you prone to bouts of waffling, when it comes to addressing what's important to you? Maybe you worry that you'll come off seeming egotistical or rude. Actually, expressing your true feelings is quite the opposite of being selfish or crass, if done in a manner that's considerate of others. Verbalizing your distinct likes and dislikes, asking for clarifications, openly disagreeing, and saying "No," are all acceptable forms of assertive communication. It is your legitimate right to be audible about your personal perceptions and opinions. Your convictions are no less valid than those of the people around you. In fact, if the situation warrants, it's perfectly justifiable to put yourself first, change your mind, negotiate terms, point out unfair treatment, and ask for emotional support. It also makes it easier for anyone interacting with you, to hear exactly what you are thinking, instead of them having to guess.
Since you are the only one who truly knows your particular comfort level in interpersonal situations, only you are qualified to advocate for yourself, while avoiding over-compensating with hostile behavior, or under-efforting in passivity. When you remain neutral, clearly stating your needs and wants, you encounter more successful scenarios and less hesitation or bullying. There is no necessity to make demands, complain, calculate, manipulate, or conversely; kowtow, because even if you're programmed to be a people pleaser, honest directives work better than whatever it is you think people want you to be saying.
Here are some guidelines to help streamline your talking points:
- Speak truthfully, choosing your words wisely, forming a clear message, without attacking anyone or anything.
- When you're in charge, convey your confidence with pride, without bragging.
- Stick to pertinent topic-specific information, without over-generalizing or grouping people or occurrences together.
- Provide a few detailed reasons, without merely restating the original facts.
- Ask relevant questions courteously, without predicting the answers.
- Handle misunderstandings or problems with kindness, without haste, so ill-will doesn't build up.
- Let unimportant feedback slide, without taking non-essential comments to heart.
- Be open minded, without forestalling alternate options and continued discussion.
- Don't assume something is correct because it's a popular opinion, without investigating it further, regardless if it has been adopted as gospel by authorities, or has yet to be proven false.
- When you make a mistake, apologize without hesitation, acknowledging your part and promoting open communication.
Lay claim to your values by concisely identifying your position, free from blame and resentment. By directly acting in your own best interest, you will smoothly achieve win-win situations where not only you get what you want when you want it, but more people do, too. Remember that being good to yourself and others is a balancing act, one that is respected and appreciated when it involves sincere dialogue that is not timid or aggressive.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Tips for exploring your feelings
By: Marissa Anteby
Usually your behavior is predicated by rational thinking, but once in a while your emotions get so tangled up with your actions that you can't discern between the two. It's hard to know if you are choosing your words and deeds or merely reacting to forces around you. To unravel this web, focus on figuring out how your feelings are being triggered instead of what the catalyst is. Don't try to fix anything or anyone, simply observe the situation.
Here's some tips for feeling your feelings:
- Be honest. Lying to yourself about what's going on in your life or justifying it, just masks the true source.
- Be vulnerable. When you take the risk of putting yourself out there with your loved ones and those you feel safe with, you'll experience deeper connections.
- Be seen, and be heard. Totally retreating from difficult situations won't get them resolved, but being present with yourself and others, will.
- Be specific. Expanding your emotional vocabulary will help you flex your volitional muscles and be more in touch with a wider range of sentiments.
- Be flexible. Don't rush to judge things as 'good' or 'bad,' recognize the whole land of possibilities in between.
- Be sad. Grieving your losses is just as important as celebrating the happy occasions.
- Be human. It's natural to have feelings even if they're unpleasant, don't worry about what you 'should' be feeling, be with what is.
Stay real by striving for authenticity in all that you do. Don't exacerbate circumstances or agitate yourself with exaggerations. The truth doesn't need embellishment. Train yourself to deal with reality by recognizing the psychological pathways of your mind, peeling back layer upon layer to uncover stronger, deeper mental states that lay hidden underneath the top superficial surface. Ask yourself, "What is under this disappointment?", "What is under this regret?", "What is under this anger?", "What is under this shame?", etc. The further you dig in to your subconscious, the clearer your habitual patterns become. Instead of denying your inclinations, experiencing them will take you closer and closer to where you started, and the elemental 'how' and 'why' of your predisposition will gradually be revealed.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Tips for having a good sigh
By: Marissa Anteby
Spending time alone affords you a different perspective on reality. When you are free to think, and do, whatever you please, without external influences, you can experience pure unadulterated contemplation. To fully absorb the processes of your outside world, you must first be willing to take a poignant look in to the mirror of your soul. A viewing that's not colored by what others want or feel will reveal your core beliefs. This shouldn't be confused with getting stuck in your head and replaying the events of the day. On the contrary, true clarity emerges from exploring your inner life; what's happening right now with your breathing, heart rate, and fluctuations of your mind. Committing your attention to yourself from the inside-out intensifies your sensitivity to all aspects of your existence. The more introspective you become, the better equipped you are to view and partake in fulfilling relationships and situations.
Here's a simple centering technique that's easy to remember because even if you forget it, you'll now notice when you do it involuntarily.
1- Sigh: Make a really exaggerated long audible sigh.
2- Deconstruct what you did: You automatically inhaled deeply and slowly, and exhaled just as slowly. This is fantastic breathing! You've cleared your mind to focus on one thing... sighing. So, you relieved your own stress and tension for the entire time you were expelling air. You focused your attention and decelerated your heartbeat.
You can do this breathing exercise any time you want to relax. Feel free to add some details to tailor this to suit your needs. Play with the following suggestions to find what you like best:
- Close your mouth.
- Breathe through your nose.
- Sit up tall with lifted posture.
- Shut your eyes.
- Focus on the sound, texture, and heat of your exhalations as they escape through your nostrils.
See how many body parts you can incorporate in to this exploration:
- Notice how your chest rises and falls with each successive inhale and exhale.
- Or how your low back rounds and undulates with the movement of your breath from your core to your extremities.
Most of all, revel in the slowing down of your mind for a rejuvenated you.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Tips for learning from yourself
By: Marissa Anteby
We all make mistakes. It's human nature. It's what you do after a blunder that shapes your future. Do you assimilate the information you've acquired and let it percolate in your mind? Or do you forgive, forget, and move on? A little of each would be best.
If you don't learn from the past then you are destined to repeat history. However, if you can't escape what's been done, you won't be able to move forward. When you continually drudge up a bygone error, it never stays behind you. It's a constant accomplice to blame for things not going as you think they should. Sometimes you have to pool all of your inner resources and admit that you may not know everything, or that you are wrong, but until you do, the lesson awaiting your discovery will remain undecipherable and ethereal. Accepting responsibility is vital to understanding the part you play. When you stop acting like a victim, you can choose when and how to proceed proactively instead of reactively. Rather than shifting the blame, acknowledge your complacency and adjust your actions accordingly.
Here's a short list of steps you can take to distill life lessons down to their most pertinent points:
1- Be accountable. Don't point fingers unless you're pointing at yourself.
2- Study fastidiously. You learn more from your failures than your successes. Don't let an opportunity pass without recognizing the gift of insight you've been given, even if it is a very well disguised blessing.
3- Brainstorm together. Strategize with someone you trust. Look for ways to repair the situation. Focus on what's positive.
4- Think bigger. Don't let the small stuff distract you from the larger picture. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back in order to see what the next steps forward should be.
5- Carry on. Continue shinning a light on everything you do. Be interested in how you think, act, communicate, relate, etc. If you recognize your patterns, you'll be more apt to grow and evolve. Better to aim high and miss your mark than to regret not trying at all.
Your triumphs and mishaps are yours alone, no one else answers for what you do. Take ownership of your life and let others take ownership of theirs. The only entity you can change, is you. Everything starts and ends with you. When you give up trying to control others, life is simpler.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Tips for building a support system
By: Marissa Anteby
Being stoic and solely self-reliant are admirable traits but not always necessary in today's ever-evolving world. Roles at home and at work are continuously shifting and morphing in to something totally new. As responsibilities change, so do the different people called upon to assist. Neglecting to utilize this help doesn't do anyone good. But, learning to bring everyone in as part of the team is a delicate science.
Forging partnerships take time and patience. It's a worthwhile endeavor, considering, sharing brings us closer to who we are meant to be. The strength of a posse backing you can sometimes be all you need to summon the courage to do what seems impossible. Often it's those closest to you that see your full potential even before you do.
So, who and what are your best supports? Make a list of people and things that you can count on to boost you up.
1- Which family members understand where you are coming from?
2- Which friends are on board with where your path is taking you?
3- Which colleagues can you look to for advice and/or mentoring?
4- Which groups or associations have like-minded members that you jell with?
5- What connections do you have spiritually to get you through the hard times?
6- What can you do to build your confidence and self-esteem?
7- How can you enrich your mental and physical energy?
Ensure you have enough reserve power in each aspect of your life; family, friends, profession, spirituality, and health. Invest in yourself by funding each segment on a regular basis.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tips for optimizing your immunity
By: Marissa Anteby
Conventional wisdom dictates that in order to protect ourselves against germs we should be leery of many public situations, especially those involving close physical contact with others. At the very least, make an effort to avoid enclosed places with numerous people, or shaking hands. The truth is really the opposite for staving of such undesirable microorganisms. Social interactions are ideal for boosting immunity to common viruses. Your body's natural defense system is at it's peak performance when you have a sense of camaraderie, belonging, and support. For example, getting a hug from someone actually elevates antibody levels that guard against common ailments. The production of infection-fighting cells increases with each encounter you have. Your body follows the cues that your mind transmits. The more comfortable you are emotionally and mentally, the stronger your innate safeguard mechanisms develop.
Here's a list of some other non-traditional methods of staying healthy:
- Devote time to self-care: Making yourself a priority in your own life is of the utmost importance. When you neglect yourself, it's not solely your immune system that suffers. It's the beginning of a domino effect. On the other hand, eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep, are not the only ways you should be taking care of yourself. Set aside time to relax and enjoy life, delineating definitive breaks to do as you please without responsibilities weighing on you. Examples of self-care are; walking in nature, getting a massage, reading a book, window shopping, taking a bath, turning the ringer off on your phone, putting a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door, etc. It's not selfish to be considerate of your own needs.
- Express kindness: Showing compassion and gratitude towards yourself and others has physiological effects that support optimum health and well-being. Studies show that all parties involved in an act of kindness benefit with increased serotonin levels. This means not only the person doing a good deed, but the recipient and observers too!
Spending time reflecting on your admirable qualities and the positive aspects of your life, goes a long way in maintaining a healthy you. Letting go of anger, fear, pain, and other destructive emotions, will free up space in your mind and body for positive thoughts to flow. Learning from your mistakes and forgiveness go hand in hand with enhancing your immunity.
- Get a hobby: A hiatus from your usual work to do something leisurely will balance primary stress hormones; cortisol and adrenaline. Any downtime activity that calls upon your intellect will benefit your immune functions. For example, a card game of Bridge, which utilizes abstract thinking, planning, judgment, memory, and initiative, improves bacteria-fighting cell production, when needed.
- Play music: Listening to or making music produces vibrations that ripple through your body, breaking up any stagnant energy trapped inside. When you listen to music you like, the pleasure receptors in your brain are stimulated and fire in to action, sending out 'feel good' endorphin hormones that boost your immunity.
- Sleep in a pitch-black room: Closing all the lights signals your body that it's time to relax and unwind. Melatonin levels in your body increase in the dark, thereby giving you a better night's sleep and fortifying your natural defenses for your waking life.
- Eat foods you like: Provided your choices are not overly processed or contain genetically engineered ingredients, you don't have to limit your intake to certain food groups or calorie count. Your body will intuitively balance vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, and regulate your cravings if you eat light small meals. Rounding out your diet with vegetables, fruits, protein, whole grains, nuts, and seeds will fortify your cellular armor. (Seek your doctor's advice for comprehensive nutrition planning.)
- Make up your own exercise: Even small bursts of exercise, like 15 minutes a day, have been proven to thwart infection and boost immunity. Any physical activity that makes you happy will do the trick. You can start slow and just plan to blow off some steam. Then gradually progress to a cardiovascular routine that elevates your heart rate. Serving as a buffer against disease, overall fitness creates a reserve capacity that also helps you recover more quickly from bouts of illness.
Incorporate ways to build up your immune system prior to getting stopped in your tracks by red flags warning you of being run down. Drink plenty of water and deal with stress before it gets the better of you. Your body and mind are most in sync when interacting harmoniously to care for your whole self.
Tips for amplifying your awareness
By: Marissa Anteby
With greater awareness comes increased possibilities. By opening yourself up to more than what's right in front of you, your view of reality expands exponentially. Instead of being drawn in to the past or pulled in to the future, you free yourself up to concentrate on what's happening in each arriving moment. The instant you become conscious that you are not in the present, that your mind is wandering off to somewhere before or after, that is precisely when you are in the 'now.'
By gathering in your attention, you slow down and focus in a whole new way. You can be at ease and maintain an alertness, enjoying a freshly awakened manner of being. You'll find a true home in each current experience, a peace that transcends the passing of time. Like a wave that carries you from one action to the next, a buried treasure of sorts, waiting to be discovered.
Periodically noticing when old habits creep up and take you out of the present moment, can quell the frenzy of thoughts that are your usual companions. Common misdirections of the mind are:
- too many 'To Do' lists
- multi-tasking (Are you everyplace but where you are?)
- dwelling on the past
Don't sacrifice the present by being pulled out of it to go backwards or forwards. Let this time be all there is for now.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Tips for focusing your attention
By: Marissa Anteby
We are all pulled in so many different directions these days, it's challenging to stay on task. There are are a multitude of actions we're compelled to take in rapid succession. It seems like we're expected to keep pace with an ever-increasing bombardment of information and stimuli, and still manage to get our work done proficiently. However, multitasking may not be the ideal solution you've been led to believe it is. You really don't have to get swept up in the tide of excess. Instead of juggling a few jobs at one time, a better route is to stay committed to one project until it is nearly complete. Finishing touches can be handled later, but the bulk of your work should be behind you, before you move on to the next order of business. Completing the lion's share of the assignment will free up your mental energy. Then you can proceed with a clear head, without the previous project looming over you. Returning to edit your work or reconfiguring it, is a useful step that often gets overlooked when doing too many things simultaneously.
Here are three steps you can take to help eliminate distractions and keep you on point:
1- Prioritize: Compile a list of things that need to get done, noting tentative deadlines.
Your frame of mind will become more goal orientated as you mentally break down the project's key stages and timeline for completion. Seeing a tangible list will help you better evaluate how to handle each phase of the project, dividing it in to more feasible components.
2- Say No: In order to say 'yes' to all that you want to accomplish, you are going to have to say 'no' to peripheral unrelated requests.
When someone asks a favor of you that might derail your train of thought or your plan of staying on schedule, politely decline. If another project comes your way, either don't take it on, delegate it, or find a way to fit it in without jeopardizing the integrity of the work you have already begun. Curb your urge to ruminate about the newest project before finalizing others.
3- Don't over-think: Once you're done, let your talents stand on their own.
Polishing what you've created is fine, but don't get caught up in having to re-do everything. Trust your initial instincts. This will save time and energy that can best be utilized on future work instead of drawing you back in to the past.
Training yourself to focus on what you're doing in the present will stretch your attention span and enable you to work more efficiently. Procrastination is just a thinly disguised form of avoiding the inevitable. So, get out of your own way, and enjoy the success that is awaiting you.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tips for resting fully
By: Marissa Anteby
There is a difference between rest and sleep. Deep rest is more beneficial than sleeping. Typically, if you have a lot on your mind that keeps you from drifting off to a dream state, or muscular tension that holds you physically aware of certain aches or pains, you don't sleep well. On the flip side, when your body and mind are completely relaxed, even if you are not sleeping, true rest can occur.
This restful zone between your waking life and sleep, is known as the hypnagogic state. It's a transient period between full awareness of your surroundings and dreaming. Your consciousness teeters on the boundary between wakefulness and sleep. The hypnagogic state precedes sleep, and you can teach yourself to stretch your time spent there by practicing sensory awareness while simultaneously allowing your mind to float towards your dreams. The more you alternate your consciousness between what's going on around you and what's going on inside of you, the more you can access a higher state of being that's profoundly more relaxing than conventional sleep.
By becoming acutely introverted and interested in your own breathing, heartbeat, blood flow, etc., you can isolate brain patterns in order to observe how you relate to yourself. By stretching your attention to stay with these simple bodily functions, you will train yourself to become more attuned to your unique mental, emotional, and psychological wiring. Thereby furthering your understanding of how to unravel your web of thoughts and surrender them in order to relax.
You can start by laying down on your bed. Close your eyes and visualize the air moving in through your nostrils. Imagine that the air travels in at a very slow methodical rate. It slides up along the median septum, straight up through the middle of your nostrils. The air fills your body slowly, then glides out of your nostrils through the lateral walls of your nose. Don't strain to pull the breath in or to push it out. Let the air come and go slowly, easily, as gently as possible. Continue watching your breathing, observing how your nostrils narrow with each inhale and expand with each exhale.
Rotate your awareness through the different major body parts, inviting each area to relax and let go; your head, arms, legs, torso, and trunk. Become aware of all the meeting points between your body and your bed. Sink in to all of these meeting points. Feel the support of the mattress beneath you, like it's rising up to hold your body.
Keep redirecting your attention back to your natural breathing. Manifest the sensation of lightness in your body, like your body can levitate an inch or two above the bed. What would it feel like to float and be weightless? Feel yourself floating, drifting towards the ceiling. Now ask yourself, "What am I thinking?" Try to spontaneously 'feel' the answer without really 'thinking' it. The more you practice this, the more of a 'witness' you will become to your own thoughts.
There are several different techniques you can employ to gain better rest. They all involve your conscious effort to remain at ease and do so as effortlessly as possible. It sounds almost impossible, but it is doable if you go slow and have patience.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Tips for perfecting your posture
By: Marissa Anteby
Your posture can tell a lot about you. Are your shoulders rounding in trying to cover and protect your heart? Is your head jutting forward, as if you're trying to sneak a peak in to the future? Do you find yourself with your feet pointed toward the door, ready to run, when someone close to you brings up a sensitive subject? You can assess what your alignment is revealing about your true feelings just by observing how you stand.
1- To start, don't move. How are you sitting or standing right know? From the inside, feel your feet. Are they parallel to each other? Probably not. Which foot is turned out more than the other? Which one is turned in? You can make great strides in improving your posture by simply directing your attention to re-aligning your feet back to parallel throughout the day. Your feet are your foundation, and the more you keep your toes facing forward, the easier it will be for you to follow the direction your feet want to take you.
2- Which leg do you favor by putting more weight on it? Ideally, you should balance your weight evenly right and left sides, and front and back. Unfortunately, we all tend to overuse one side, building strength in our favored foot and teaching our less dominant foot to remain passive, to just go along for the ride. This too can be changed, but you need to make a concerted effort to re-pattern how you stand and walk.
3- Gain better stability in all that you do by reinforcing the power in your foundation. Press down firmly in to the four corners of each foot; big toe mounds, little toe mounds, insides of your heels, and outside of your heels. Pull up from your inner arches, drawing energy up, so your ankles don't collapse inwards.
4- Follow the chain of energy up your body. Is there strain in your low back? Do you hyper arch the small of your back? Or perhaps you round your back too much and your pelvis is pulled out of place. To protect your low back from excessive tension, gently hug your abdominal muscles in and up, and puff out your kidney area (right above the the back waistband of your pants.)
5- Create more breathing room in your torso by broadening your collarbones and opening up your chest cavity. Make sure not to stick out your bottom ribs, retract them in, as you move your scapula (your shoulder blades) down your back and away from your ears.
6- Level your chin with the floor, sending energy out the top of your head, as you take your nose back in space, like you are lining up your nose over your spine.
Keep reviewing these alignment cues in your body and notice how each piece brings your body in to a taller, more lifted state. The more present you are with yourself and the physical placement of your bones and muscles, the more conscious you will become with how and why you position yourself in your own life.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Tips for being quiet
By: Marissa Anteby
In this world of ever increasing noise, it seems as if everyone is yelling louder than the next guy just trying to be heard. Things will continue getting nosier until we sit down and stop. Stop everything. Even our internal chatter has to cease.
When you take time to be with yourself, it becomes abundantly clear that all the rushing about, and mindless talk, is so unnecessary. Starting from a place of silence enables you to relate to yourself and others in a different manner. How many times do you make idle chit chat just to avoid an awkward pause in a conversation? Why? What's so bad about remaining quiet? You don't always have to be 'on,' or the 'entertainment committee,' ensuring everyone is engaged in dialogue. It's actually fine to sit and be still.
Refraining from just saying anything for the sake of talking will also help to make you more aware of the things you do choose to say going forward. Noticing when being silent brings up feelings of uneasiness can be something you might choose to explore further. What is the underlying feeling that you don't want to face? What does the chatter mask?
You may be pleasantly surprised at how your senses are heightened when you are silent. You will see things more vividly, hear things more precisely, even your sense of touch, smell, and taste, are all sharper and more alert when you keep quiet.
Try it out, can you be quiet for 10 minutes, how about 20? The more you practice, the easier it becomes. You'll actually experience a sense of inner calm that's hard to achieve with the constant distraction of noise. Life will seem to slow down for you, as if everything is working in your favor so you can figure things out more easily. Problems don't seem as big when you let them go for a bit and listen to nothing but the sound of your own breathing. You'll begin to deepen your connection to yourself, hearing your heartbeat louder than before, and feeling what it is to be alive in your own skin at this moment in time.
Give yourself the greatest gift of all; your own attention.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tips for brightening your aura
By: Marissa Anteby
Have you ever felt someone's energy from across a room, or 'seen' someone 'light up a room' with their positivity? That's because everyone and everything is made up of varying degrees of vibration, and on a very subtle level you are aware of changes in the vibrations around you.
Sound and light can be broken down in to quantifiable vibrations, and your body is made up of specific vibrations as well. These vibrations are most dense at energy centers inside of your body, known as 'chakras.' Chakras are connected by pathways called 'meridian lines.' Your thoughts, feelings, and actions flow through you, via meridian lines that connect your chakras, and flow around you, shinning out like an aura.
Your aura is an individual force-field of energy that surrounds your body. It is emotionally charged by your thoughts, feelings, actions, and so on. Although auras can't easily be seen, there are colors associated with each person's aura. You can try to imagine it as a glowing colored light that shines like an outline.
Many factors influence changes to your aura. Since you give off and receive energy, it's important to realize that what's going on inside and outside of you, has ramifications on a cellular level. Meaning, your thoughts and your environment are ultimately connected to your DNA. This two-way process of giving off your own unique energy, and absorbing charges in the atmosphere around you, leads to changes in the way you think and feel. Over time, this transmission of energy affects you and the people around you.
By surrounding yourself with positive people and places, your internal energy will be more and more positively charged. Your thoughts will then fill the atmosphere with more of what you like. To enjoy this give and take of energies most beneficially, tune in to your thoughts on a regular basis, in order to maintain awareness of all the good you are attracting.
Soon you will be the bright light shinning in and across all the rooms you enter!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Tips for acknowledging stressors
By: Marissa Anteby
What factors in your life put excess strain on you? Are there physical, mental, or emotional demands that seem hard to bear? Are you sometimes over-stimulated to the point of immobilization?
Recognizing what triggers such a reaction is helpful in managing your response and eventually mapping ways to avoid future similar scenarios.
Your own resistance to the reality of a situation, causes unnecessary tension. If you can 'accept' what is, without wishing it were different, you could see clearly enough to act more efficiently and affect change, if need be. 'Acceptance' doesn't mean you have to live with something as is. It just means you have to acknowledge it is the starting point you are working with, and it may very well be the end point too.
Before you find yourself boiling over, identify common stressors in your life:
1. Make a list of general external factors that weigh you down. For example, your job.
2. Add in specifics, like task deadlines, or project complexity, etc.
3. List simple strategies that you know work for you. Perhaps breaking down a bigger project in to smaller more doable components, etc.
4. Review your lists often enough so you don't get swamped with impending work.
When you recognize that you are already in the midst of a stress reaction:
1. Observe yourself objectively, from the outside in. Try not to get caught up in the whirlwind of your mind and the incessant thoughts that want to swirl around in there.
2. Refrain from acting out.
3. Take a literal and metaphorical step back to re-ground yourself.
4. Notice physiological changes. Your fast heart rate, rapid/shallow breathing, and anything else.
5. Gradually, ease yourself in to a calmer state by starting from your feet up. Ground your feet down in to the floor. Sit tall and consciously slow down your breathing. Inhale slowly and methodically. Exhale just as precisely. Continue this for a few moments.
Unfortunately, for many people, the stress state becomes their natural habitat, somewhere they comfortably glide in to because it's what they know. In order to find true relief from stress, you must learn to break the addiction to what's comfortable and go somewhere new. In this case, that somewhere is a state of relaxation. After all, underneath the many layers you've added on throughout the years, your core of calm is waiting for you to come home to!
Tips for accessing your inner wisdoom
By: Marissa Anteby
When you are faced with a problem or difficult situation, the best way to deal with it, may be to detach yourself from it for a little while. Often times, we get so overwhelmed by what we envision as a catastrophe that we can't see the bigger picture; the reality that this occurrence, no matter how tremendous it may seem, is merely a blip on the radar screen.
In order to draw out your inner wisdom, an intelligence that is deeper than ruminations of your analytical brain, you must train yourself to truly relax. Thinking too hard is the exact opposite of what you need to do. You ultimately, should 'feel' the solution float to you.
Here's what to do:
- Occupy yourself with something else, perhaps exercise, reading a book, or listening to music, but don't work through the problem you want to solve. Let it go.
- Instead, call upon your relaxed self to reveal the answer without over-thinking it.
- Any time you find yourself 'thinking,' remind yourself to focus on the activity you're involved in, instead.
- Set a time limit that you will adhere to, in order to check in with yourself and see if a solution has surfaced.
This may seem impossible if you've never tried it. However, the more times you look to your relaxed self to emerge, the more it will.
We often stifle our own creativity and imagination in preference of having a logical solution. Things don't always have to make sense to work. You can 'think' with so much more of you, than you do. Unfortunately, we don't give ourselves enough credit to believe we have all the answers to our own questions. The more time you spend with yourself, the more you will come to this realization.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tips for listening better
By: Marissa Anteby
We know there's a difference between hearing someone and truly listening to what they're saying. But what are the ways in which we can improve our listening skills? Is there active steps we can take to become better listeners? Yes, sure there are. Like anything, practicing is the key to mastery.
Being aware of yourself and how you interact with the world around you, specifically, the people closest to you, will give you clues as to your 'listening style.' Observe yourself; do you look at people when they are talking to you? Or are you easily distracted, finding it necessary to multitask every instant? You can cultivate a more fulfilled way of existing by starting with how you listen.
You may find the following pointers helpful on your journey to better listening:
1- Use all of your senses while listening, particularly sight and sound.
2- 'Listen' with your eyes to the talker's body language.
3- Notice if judgments arise in your mind. This could be any thought with a personal bias attached to your opinion.
4- Notice if discernments arise in your mind. This could be any thought that helps you appreciate the talker's individuality or unique nuances, without grouping or labeling them.
5- Be aware of the content, tone, pitch, volume, rate, and pace of speech. Recognize your likes and dislikes.
6- While the person is speaking, try not to interrupt. Save your questions and comments for when they are finished. Listen actively, instead of formulating your response while half-listening.
7- Focus your attention on the words being spoken. If your mind wanders off, bring it back to the present moment by following the words.
8- Practice on a daily basis and see how you progress over time.
Making a conscious effort to be aware and truly listen is not easy, but it can be done. We as a society are programmed to 'do.' However, it is an innate quality in each of us to just 'be,' without having to 'do.' So continue mindfully evolving and eventually you will return full circle to your individual state of 'being,' from which, you can listen fully.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Tips for managing your time
By: Marissa Anteby
Ever get the feeling like there just aren't enough hours in the day, or days in the week to accomplish all that you need to? Yeah, sometimes, I feel that way too. To relieve some of the burden that bogs me down, without shirking my responsibilities, I actually add on another one. I schedule in time for myself. I've found that if I don't replenish the source of my energy, I get zapped of it all together. So I make time to take a break. It's not selfish or self-indulgent, it's a necessary item on my 'To Do' list. Think about it; you spend so much time caring for others' needs (family, friends, clients,) shouldn't you devote some time attending to your own needs?
Even though it may seem like time moves fast, you do have the power to slow it down. You are the one ultimately deciding how you use your time. No one but you is in charge of your life. Yes, it's convenient to blame those close to you for adding to daily time constraints, but it's your decision as to how you cope.
Start by assessing your current time management lifestyle. Write down a short list of main categories of the top priorities in your life. What are the things that 'must' get done, no matter what? Fill in sub-categories under each heading, then write an even more specific list under each sub-category. Review what you've written, and sit with it for awhile.
After you feel your lists are completed, read them over slowly. Which items can be delegated to someone else? Which items can be deleted? Which items can be taken care of over a longer period of time, instead of right now.
Prioritize the remaining items on the lists. What are daily tasks? Weekly? Monthly? Honestly ask yourself, "What needs my immediate attention?" You may be surprised that you can knock a few things down some rungs on your list. Now ask yourself, "What do I need to drop, in order to be more efficient?" This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be able to let this task go, but you may see it in a different light, and eventually be able to gradually remove it.
Now for the fun part. Find spaces in your week that you can sneak in a little alone time. At first, this may mean a few minutes here or there to get outside and get some fresh air. You can start small and work you way up to scheduling in one hour blocks to decompress. Think of it like a 'lunch hour' that you never take but really need.
In order to enjoy life more, do more things you enjoy!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Tips for foing for a walk
By: Marissa Anteby
The simple act of walking can do wonders to get your blood flowing throughout your whole body and up to your brain. You can reap the rewards of clearing your mind without having to hold your body in complete stillness as in other traditional meditation practices.
To maximize your experience, focus on 'present moment awareness.' It's helpful to walk slowly and deliberately, being conscious of each step, each breath, each sensation. If your mind wanders off, just re-direct your attention back to your feet. What does the earth beneath your feet feel like? Then let your mindfulness travel up from your feet to your legs, taking your time, to sense each part of your being, all the way to your head.
What's going on in your body as you move? What is it like to be alive in your body today? Where is energy moving freely inside of you? Where is there congestion, or an excess of energy? Take the time to experience whatever it is you are experiencing today. Deepen your physical perception by making a concerted effort to move as effortlessly as possible! In other words, try NOT to try.
Experiment with your pace and see what's comfortable to you. Layer on more awareness by using all of your senses. What sights, sounds, smells, tastes, energies, are found around you? Heighten your connection to each new moment by allowing it to present itself to you. Don't get caught up in what 'should' be happening. Let your unique experience unfold organically, naturally.
Connect with yourself by connecting with what's going on around you, then retracting this awareness closer and closer inside. Imagine that you are 'walking away' from your everyday responsibilities for a few moments. You may be surprised how answers to your questions seem to materialize when you release the problem for a little bit, while walking. See if you can let go of your usual preoccupations and find new space in your mind for your thoughts to roam free.
Use your journey to bring fresh awareness to the inner workings of your body and mind. Whatever comes up, let it. Allow emotions, images, insights, etc. to come and go on their own. Honor these arrivals and departures without having to 'make sense' of anything.
If you enjoy your walk, try it again later, and perhaps again tomorrow. Maybe you'll make this part of a new routine, for a new you!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tips for cultivating kindness
By: Marissa Anteby
In order to evoke a feeling of good will towards others, you must first have a positive relationship with yourself. This may seem silly. In fact, most people don't really think about it. After all, working hard on your relationship with your spouse, friends, parents, siblings, kids, colleagues, ok... that makes sense, but working on how you treat yourself? Have we as an analytical society gone too far? I don't think so.
Consider how your other relationships benefit from your contemplative awareness. Don't you deserve that same kind of mindfulness? What if you were as patient with yourself as you are with everyone else? What would your internal chatter be like if you slowed down and gave yourself a chance to make mistakes without berating yourself instantaneously? How would this alter your feelings and actions? On the flip side, what about the times you are too easy on yourself and you let yourself get away with too much. What would it be like to have to answer to a stronger more responsible you? Both instances, have to do with kindness. A kind heart knows that happiness is in the balance, not being too hard on yourself or too soft.
Find ways to incorporate more activities that you truly enjoy in to your life. The happier you are, the happier everyone around you will be. Make it a healthy habit, become inclined to be kind!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Tips for aging gracefully
By: Marissa Anteby
Brain plasticity has a lot to do with how well you function later in life. If you think of your brain like a ski slope, the more your ideas run down different trails, the less rigid one particular track will get. In order to keep all the different aspects of your intelligence vibrant and fresh, it's important to constantly use different parts of your intellect. You want your brain to be pliable, soft and supple, not hard and pocked with deep ruts. Embracing a 'use it or lose it' mentality propels new thought and healthy functioning of your mind and body. So, what specific types of activities will promote the synapses of the brain to fire up and work for you? Anything that gets you thinking in new ways. Here's a list of examples:
- Cross word puzzles, Sudoko, card games.
- Altering regular routines: brushing your teeth or hair with your less-dominant hand, standing on one foot while washing your hands, reading the newspaper upside down.
- Memorizing short lists of words or numbers.
- Consciously engaging in meaningful social situations.
- Physical exercise that elevates your heart rate.
The benefits from cognitive training such as the suggestions listed above, can be long lasting. Excelling in memory retrieval, reasoning, or visual searches, will build your proficiency in that particular area. However, to impact all three areas, you must train your brain in all three. For example, it's not enough to be a stealth Mah Jong player, your brain health rests upon the continual challenge of assimilating new information and mastering new tasks. So, play Mah Jong and learn a new language or take up golf. The varied combinations of what you do affects your mental well-being. The more active you are in all three arenas; memory, reasoning and visual searches, the better chance you have of forestalling the decline of your overall cognitive performance. Your own personal efforts, not medication, is the most powerful tool you have in remaining mentally fit.
Staying physically active is vital to linking your mind and body on a regular basis. Studies have shown that in order to stay sharp and robust, physical activity is key. It stimulates the blood flow throughout your body and brain. Moreover, exercise prolongs independent functioning and also enhances the quality of your life as you age.
The time to start using more of your brain is now. So, get out there and get moving. Make a commitment to yourself to learn something new every day!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Tips for riding your bike safely
By: Marissa Anteby
- Always wear a bike helmet, even if you are going for a short ride.
- Your bike helmet should fit you properly. You don't want it too small or too big. Never wear a hat under your bike helmet.
- Riding a bike that is the right size for you also help keeps you safe.
- Be seen to be safe. Wear bright clothes and put reflectors on your bike.
- Make sure that nothing will get caught in your bike chain, such as loose pant legs, backpack straps, or shoelaces.
- Wear sneakers when you bike ride. Sandals, flip-flops, shoes with heels, and cleats won't help you grip the pedals. Never go riding barefoot!
- Don't wear headphones because the music can distract you from noises around you, such as a car blowing its horn so you can get out of the way.
- Kids younger than 10 years should ride on the sidewalk and avoid the street.
- Watch out for cars and trucks. Even if you're just riding on sidewalk, a car may pull out of its driveway into the path of your bike.
- If you're crossing a busy road, it's best to walk your bike across the street.
Road Rules to remind your kids about:
- Always ride with your hands on the handlebars.
- Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when leaving your driveway, an alley, or a curb.
- Cross at intersections. When you pull out between parked cars, drivers can't see you coming.
- Walk your bike across busy intersections using the crosswalk and following traffic signals.
- Ride on the right-hand side of the street, so you travel in the same direction as cars do. Never ride against traffic.
- Use bike lanes or designated bike routes wherever you can.
- Don't ride too close to parked cars. Doors can open suddenly.
- Stop at all stop signs and obey street (red) lights just as cars do.
- Ride single file on the street with friends.
- When passing other bikers or people on the street, always pass to their left side, and call out "On your left!" so they know that you are coming.
Tips for avoiding summer meltdowns
By: Marissa Anteby
Our lives are so scheduled and organized, that even our downtime is mapped out and orchestrated. Well, it's time to undo some of the tension and give yourself a well deserved break.
I've compiled a short list of things you can do to make your life AND your summer vacation easier. If you do nothing else this summer, try at least one of these tips.
Tip 1: Get the household chores out of the way early in the day. By all means, feel free to recruit the kids to help pick up toys or neaten up their rooms. Getting your children involved with shared tasks will foster cooperation and a unifying sense of responsibility. Even trips to the grocery store or doing laundry can be turned in to a game instead of dreaded errands. Remember you can transform anything in to a leisure activity if you approach it with a positive attitude.
It's important to set a time limit. For example; make a commitment to yourself, that each day by 12:30pm, no matter what you are up to on your list of "Must Do Today", you will head out to the beach, park, friend's pool, or wherever else you can breathe in some fresh air and unwind.
Tip 2: Plan your activities before you go out the front door. What have you always wanted to do but never had time? What was your favorite part of last summer? By thinking ahead, you avoid the pitfalls and possible tantrums that ensue when kids (and/or adults) are cooped up in a hot car circling around trying to find the place you thought was only a short car ride away. Perhaps you want to visit an amusement park, go to the local lake, go camping in the backyard, read a book under that pretty oak tree you saw, get a massage, or play board games on the porch. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have driving directions and everything else you need for all activities before your day starts. Most of all, don't forget your camera.
Tip 3: Think of quick and easy meals and snacks that the whole family will love. The less complicated your recipes are, the less likely finicky eaters will complain. Add to the light atmosphere with little flags or colorful toothpicks that jazz up otherwise mundane fare. Just make sure you have all the ingredients that you'll need, before mealtime. You can stock your pantry at the beginning of the week with standard staples that you know you'll be needing. Summer meals are not complete without dessert! Go big and frivolous. Spraying whipped cream on anything is a snap to do and brings out giggles every time.
Don't forget special drinks. Summertime is the perfect time to pull out your blender and whip up a batch of frozen drinks. Fresh fruit smoothies are healthy and refreshing.
Tip 4: If you've cut down on your days or hours that you normally work, be sure to notify clients or co-workers that you will be unavailable during specific times. Once you have established your "non-working hours," stick to them. Don't tell your boss or others that it's ok to call you on your cell phone "if it's really important." Let your calls roll over to voicemail and Do NOT turn on your computer.
You will perform better at your job when there is clear delineation between work and play. Both are important. Everyone needs a break in order to avoid work-related burnout.
Tip 5: Make sure to leave time for yourself. Whether that means running out to the gym before the kids wake up in the morning or taking a bubble bath at 10 o'clock at night, get some alone time in. Preferably every day. Yes, come on, you are able to brush your hair every day... then why can't you add in 10 minutes to go for a walk and watch the clouds floating by? Really, you have an excuse for not being able to find 10 minutes? Think of it like a daily ritual to re-charge your battery so you'll have more energy for planning all those playdates for your kids!
I promise you, you'll be a better mother/sister/daughter/friend etc. if you clear your mind for a few minutes each day. You'll have that much more room in there to listen to everyone else's problems, and you will have more patience for them too.
Tip 6: Consider investing in something that will enable you to have mini 'staycations' throughout the summer. This is when you get away without ever leaving your property. Possibilities include, a swimming pool, hot tub, tent, covered back patio, patio furniture, or barbecue pit. You may find that your kids hangout more at your house, and this means less carpooling and arranging alternate activities. Hooray, maybe you will finally get a chance to sit down at home after all.
As you would on a traditional vacation, leave your worries behind...they'll be there for you when you get back!
Tips for modifying summer exercise
By: Marissa Anteby
By now we all know the benefits of regular exercise. But maybe we're not too familiar with the changes we need to make in our exercise routines when the warmer weather sets in. Exercising during summer months increases stress levels on our lungs and heart, due to an increase in body temperature. The stress level goes much higher, as the rate of humidity increases. A simple fix to this problem is to consume more water and other essential fluids. Since your body can only absorb 8 ounces of cold water every 20 minutes, it's important to drink even if you don't necessarily feel thirsty. Your work-outs can remain relatively the same if you follow a few other simple guidelines:
Dress for the weather, not the date on the calendar-
My high school Chemistry teacher would be so proud to see me quoting this! He said it all the time, as he saw students sporting new fall wardrobes while it was still 85 degrees outside, or saw kids in Spring fashions even though it might have been an unseasonably blustery day.
Wearing clothing that will wick away sweat, not trap it on your skin's surface, will prevent that dreadful post-workout chill. On the flip side, if it's a cold and windy, don't wear sheer clothing just because the date is August 9th. Put on a few layers. Opt for clothing made of light materials. You want sweat to evaporate as air passes over your body easily. Wear light colors that don't absorb heat, like dark colors do. Sunscreen is an essential every day. Ditto for a hat. Come on people have we learned nothing about the sun's harmful rays?
Choose the right time and place-
If you exercise outdoors, do it before the major heat of the day (better yet, before 11am.) Try to work-out in the mornings or evenings. Find a good location where there is a shaded area and space to move around freely. In front of a pool or ocean is ideal because the sight and sound of water has therapeutic effects.
Don't zoom through your sessions-
Your mind needs time to process all of the benefits of your physical activities. If you move with intention, you are giving your brain a head start on firing the correct synapses in order to maximize coordination. Allowing your body time to gradually warm-up, will help you to adapt to the heat slowly. Increasing the level and intensity of your regime gradually, will prevent you from getting out of breath, and will enable you to complete your exercise session coolly. You don't need rapid-fire zooming movements to get your heart rate up. Now is the time for slower more introspective types of modalities that are intense in a deeper way. For building up strength and sculpting your muscles, and to get a longer leaner appearance, try Yoga, Pilates, a combination of the two, or your own walk on the beach (hello sculpted calves!) Finish your work-out with a cool-down, stretch, and at least a few minutes to sit quietly and reflect on your time with yourself.
Get in to the swim of things-
In addition to the old standbys; jogging, bike riding, indoor cycling classes, or treadmill classes, add more swimming to your repertoire. Swimming is an amazing form of exercise that benefits the body immensely. Swimming is great for people who are rehabilitating from joint or muscle strains. Anyway, during the summer everyone enjoys lingering in the pool for long periods, so why not combine that with some exercise. Use the summer as a time to try something new, like Aqua Aerobics, Pool Pilates, or Watsu. Awww, nobody is watching you, it doesn't matter if you're a beginner, just get in there and splash around. The fact that you may not be proficient at the movements initially, is actually a good thing because your brain is working overtime to educate itself.
Make it a family affair-
Kids love the outdoors, so kick them off the couch and send them out for a run through the sprinklers. Just throwing a ball around is enough to get them started on beneficial aerobic activity. Go join them. Studies show that regular physical activity helps children avoid weight-related high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea.
When in doubt, walk it out-
Walking is considered the most popular exercise in the United States. The cheapest and best investment you can make may very well be - a good pair of sneakers. It's really the only equipment you need! To prevent soreness, walk a little until you are mildly warm, then do a few active stretches, continue your walk at a brisker pace, and wind down with some isolated stretches.
Don't forget to breathe-
I'm not joking. Most of us, don't breathe properly, or hold our breath. By breathing deeply and slowly, you increase oxygen absorption in to your blood stream and avoid dis-ease in the body. A simple technique to get more connected to your breathing is to imagine that you can follow your breathe and watch where it goes throughout your body. Send it to the places where you need the most care and attention - let your breath soften any 'hot spots'.