July 24, 2014

Are You Disconnected?

Do you love your body for all it does for you, or do you only ever focus on all its faults, pains or discomforts? 

Do you just see your body as the ‘thing’ that gets you from A to B or the ‘shell’ that holds that wonderful brain of yours?

If this resonates with you, then like me, you are probably living with a high level of disconnection from your body. This is not unusual when you are a ‘thinking’ type of person, or if you have experienced physical or sexual assault or trauma in your life.

Our bodies retain a lot of information and emotion and by giving our bodies attention, it can bring up uncomfortable feelings. But there are great risks and dangers living without any body awareness. Ignoring the physicality of our bodies and living purely in our intellect can leave us unbalanced and unaware of developing injuries or even sicknesses. 

Last night this became so evident to me when I went to my usual yoga class. I usually go to yoga once to twice a week but haven’t for the past 3 months because I have had so many other things on. During the class I realised something quite profound…I have not been very loving to my body lately. 

I am currently setting up a business and it has been all consuming and I have found I have become quite obsessive in my approach. I am also finding it hard to unwind and chill out and I have completely relegated my body to the back part of my brain i.e. I have given my body no attention or focus at all! 

Not only is this ‘out of whack’ focus causing me to start to feel physical pain, I am not as happy as I used to be because I have lost my centre, I have lost my balance. I know it is time to slow everything down, turn my attention inwards and respect and honour all the wonderful things my body does for me. It is time to start to re-engage with my body and the happiness, relaxation and pleasure it adds to my life.  

Can you relate? How long has it been since you were actually aware of how your body is experiencing life?  

If it has been too long, then maybe you could start doing what I am trying…bring more awareness to your body. I am doing this in simple ways, like noticing the feel of water on my skin in the shower in the morning, instead of it being a frenetic time of mentally trying to work out what has to be done in the day and how I am going to do it all! 

I am also trying to notice how food tastes and feels when I eat it, rather than just gobbling it down and having no real recollection of any sensations except to register that I am full. One way I am doing this is putting my knife and fork down during bites so I can focus and be in the present moment. 

I am surprised I have let my life get so out of balance. It was this lack of balance that contributed to me getting sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 6 years ago. It seems I have been swept up in the excitement of life and possibilities and have got back into bad habits. Time to re-shift the focus... 

How about you?   

Jess xxx

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July 16, 2014

Why Exercise Shouldn’t Be Hard Work

"The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy" 
Kenneth H. Cooper 

Most people have a love or hate relationship with exercise, but what if we called exercise, ‘body movement’ instead? What if we focused on finding activities that move our bodies, but didn’t feel like ‘exercise?’ What if exercise didn’t need to feel like hard work?

There is no question that moving the body is vital to our physical wellbeing but it is also a non-negotiable if you want a healthy and happy brain. Exercise has proven to be an effective way to ward off and manage depression, and generally makes us feel great. Exercise contributes to a great quality of life. So how can we incorporate movement into our regular routines? 

Start by doing something you love. 

What activities allow you to move your body but you don’t think of as ‘exercise’? For me dancing is one of my loves and it feels ‘effortless’ to me, in a way that going to the gym never will. Swimming is another activity that I love for the sensation of moving through water, the cardio workout is just a bonus! 

The trick is to try a type of body movement that is something you love, something you enjoy and something you look forward to doing. When we love something, we are internally motivated to do them and we will continue to do them, and that is the key to keeping up any routine. 

I hear so many women say they struggle to find the motivation to exercise, but by moving our bodies in a way that we enjoy, we can start to break down some of the internal resistance we often come up against when we start to think about exercise.   

There is so much in life that is genuinely hard work, but living well is about limiting the amount of things we feel we ‘should’ be doing, and increasing the amount of things we love doing and exercise should be part of that approach. 

When we enjoy the way we move our body it increases our happiness, optimism and health. How can you start moving your body this week, and do it with a smile on your face? :-)
Jess xxx

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July 9, 2014

Have You Got The Right Attitude?

In life, we can’t control what life throws at us, but we can control the way we respond and think about what has happened to us. I would say this is one of the hardest things to keep on top of in life, especially when you are going through a really tough time, but it is the one area that really is ‘make or break.’

Why? It is quite simple:

Your attitude to life will determine your happiness and your quality of life. 

What attitude are you approaching your life with? 

When you share your story with others, do you focus on all the negatives? What about the way you feel about your life within your own mind? Deep down do you feel you have been badly done by? Do you believe that bad things always happen to you?

The problem with these thought patterns is that they are self-fulfilling. What we believe to be true (even if it isn’t) is the truth we will live by. In the same way, we can shape our thoughts and actions and create a life of influence, happiness and empowerment by;

  • Focusing on what has gone well
  • Making the most of the resources we have available to us
  • Celebrating our successes (even if it doesn’t match the standard of ‘success’ set by our society)
  • Doing more of what makes us happy
  • Seeing abundance rather than scarcity and helping others fulfil their dreams, live their best life, and experience more happiness

If we want to start living well and getting the most out of our life we need to start noticing our thought patterns and how they are shaping our attitude to life. If our thought patterns aren’t empowering then it is time to start challenging them and replacing them.

I will leave you with my all time favourite quote. Viktor E. Frankl survived the Nazi concentration camps, and his insight is moving, profound and life changing:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

What attitude will you go into today with?

Jess xxx

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July 1, 2014

Never Stop Believing: One Woman’s Journey With Cancer

It seems nearly everyone you speak to has either battled cancer themselves, known someone who has, or knows someone whose life was cut short by the disease. It is shocking to consider the stats, but according to the Cancer Council “…it is expected 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85 and that an estimated 128,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year.”

While I have heard a lot about cancer I have never realised the real journey cancer takes a person on…not until I picked up a book called Never Stop Believing, by channel 7 TV presenter, Sally Obermeder.

41 weeks into her pregnancy, and due to give birth to her first baby, a baby her and her husband had fought hard for and successfully conceived through IVF, Sally received the news that she had stage 3 breast cancer. To say the news was shocking and heartbreaking would be an understatement.

In her book, Sally courageously invites us into her life, her thoughts and her fears during her time with cancer; from diagnosis, treatment, surgery, to recovery. With such raw honesty and clarity she shares the depth of devastation that cancer brings to the body, the inner resilience needed to endure, and the powerful impact support, love and humour plays when facing one of life's greatest challenges.

She writes;

They say that your life changes forever when you’re diagnosed with cancer. There’s your life before, and your life after.

Cancer shows you things you cannot imagine you’d ever have to experience:

The grief, the fear.

Seeing your husband and parents crying at the thought of losing you.

Confronting the possibility that your baby might grow up without you.

The fear of losing everything you’ve worked for, hoped for, dreamed for.

And you’re sicker than you’ve ever been in your life: a sickness that affects your entire body —even your elbows, even your feet—and goes on for weeks and months and doesn’t end.

But you discover other things too: your strength. Your endurance. The pleasure of finding things to laugh about even in the darkest of times. The true force of friendship. The power of love.

It is this strength, courage, resilience and hope that shines through in Sally’s story. It is hard not to be inspired and humbled by her story and the attitude she has approached life with. 

It got me wondering, “Would I be as grounded, focused and positive as she was if I was in the same situation?” It is hard to predict these things, and maybe we can never know until we are in them ourselves, but it is worth considering and asking ourselves, “Am I building resilience and positivity into my life on a regular basis?”

“Am I building an inner foundation that will be strong enough to hold me when the truly bad times hit?”  

Sally’s story has inspired me to re-engage with my life with more vigour and more focus, because life is truly precious and it is also entirely unpredictable. 

She writes: 

A near-death experience forces you to re-evaluate your life. Forces you to be honest. You think, if I live what kind of life do I want? You realise it’s precious; you don’t want to take it for granted and you definitely don’t want to squander it.

While having a chronic illness taught me this lesson over five years ago, it is easy to become complacent, it is easy to focus on what is still missing from your life and not all the blessings surrounding you.

Even in the worst situation you are still blessed…you still have your life, and that is something Sally’s story reminded me not to take lightly. Life is the greatest gift of all, the question is “What will you do with yours?”  

Jess xxx

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