Category Archives: Inner Nutrition

Working with Medicine Wheels: West (Part 2 of 4), by Jude Catallo & Scott Emerson

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Know this. Wherever you place your personal intention, into fear and contraction, or into expansion and light, you will give it power.

The use of the Medicine Wheel and its four compass points in the spiritual and healing practice of the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere of Earth stretches back a least 5000 years, likely much longer. This is actually the traditional and original “Western medicine”—a knowledge and practice almost lost to those of us living today. Although some of the details of different tribes’ medicine wheels, such as the animal archetypes for each direction, differ from North to Central to South America, the major concepts appear similar.

Each direction is associated with one of the four energetic bodies that make up the human energy field:

the particle or physical world (the body), the realm of emotions and thoughts (the mind), the realm of myth (the soul), and the world of spirit (energy). In North America, the Lakota Sioux also associate each direction with the time of day, the time of year, and the time of life. For many thousands of years, the shamans of the Americas have used each direction of the Medicine Wheel as an interdependent doorway to unique perceptual levels, or “ways of being,” in order to recover an individual’s true essence, personal power, energy, and inner wisdom for healing. The Laika people, isolated in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, seem to have a well-preserved and undistorted record of the use and meaning of their Medicine Wheel. Thus, their version is used in our personal energy medicine and integrative medicine practice.

The realm of emotions and thoughts (the mind) is associated with the WEST direction. Within the Americas, West is predominantly represented by the JAGUAR archetype. In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the west direction is Wiyopeyata, and is associated with evening, autumn, and adulthood. Red is the Lakota color for the South, and black is the color of the West.

The word “jaguar” comes from the Native American word “yaguar” which means “he who kills with one leap.” For the indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and South America, Jaguar represents the healing power of fearlessness. The perceptual state here is that nothing is exactly as it appears to be. This archetype journeys and can track through the darkest domains beyond death and back, revealing that death is part of life, not to be feared, and not the end of our being. Jaguar medicine can also provide sudden leaps of clarity, especially when dealing with complex situations and confusing landscapes in our lives. Jaguar’s presence gives us the confidence to step out and boldly explore, with the certainty that life provides us with everything we need.

The Four Teachings of the West provide a portal to the way of the luminous warrior “who has no enemies in this world or the next.”

They are: Fearlessness, Non-Doing, Certainty, and Non-Engagement. Because anger and violence are rooted in fear, letting go of fear allows us to approach people and situations as a luminous warrior, projecting our light instead of our shadow. Discover the power of just observing the way the universe and events are flowing. Don’t jump to fix everything, but in communion with Spirit, allow time and the world to create some of its own resolution. Be efficient with your energy. If you do decide to act, use your luminous sword with ethical and impeccable action. Allow yourself no other option but success. Don’t allow yourself to get dragged down into the drama of rescuer, perpetrator, or victim roles.

Each direction also offers a unique perspective on any aspect of your life that you feel you are ready to change in order to affect personal healing—the South, things with which you strongly identify, the West—things from which you are mentally differentiating yourself, the North—things you are newly integrating into your life, and East—transcendence and full integration into your luminous energy body. Movement around the directions and perspectives of your Medicine Wheels over time possesses great power for spiritual growth. To have the most power, they should be done by you privately, electronic gadget-free, in a special natural setting, and accepting the Earth’s wildcard role in the process. The days of a new or a full moon, or solstices and equinoxes are preferred. It is most important that your ceremony be held within a sacred space.

You can create sacred space as a healing bubble around your chosen Medicine Wheel site by “calling” to the four direction master archetypes (S-Serpent, W–Jaguar, N–Hummingbird, E–Eagle, as well as down—Mother Earth, and up—Father Sky). With humility and gratitude, ask for their power and assistance in your personal healing work. We have found soft rattling or drumming and offering tobacco gifts to the “spirits of the site” greatly facilitate this “calling.” Use a compass if you’re not certain of the directions. The creative and intimate process of constructing your Medicine Wheel in a natural setting, using natural items that come to you at your chosen site, quiets the mind and creates a highly meditative state. In sacred space there is no time, and you can trust your instincts and synchronicity.

Healing work with the Medicine Wheel honoring the West and the Jaguar archetype begins with the creation of a mandala

in the sand, snow, or grass, preferably with a westward vista. Reflect on your last Medicine Wheel honoring the South. How successful have you been with letting go of the conscious attachment to your roles you threw into the fire last time? Are you ready to let go of these further and relinquish not just the mental and emotional attachment, but also the feelings they may exert at a deeper level, masking the true essence of your soul? If so, find a stick for each of these roles, and place these into the North quadrant of the Medicine Wheel. If not, leave them in the West quadrant for a further time and a future fire ceremony.

What about the teachings of the South you may have placed in the West? Are you ready to move any of these from the level of mere mental acknowledgment to actually incorporating them into the way you act within life’s laboratory, and place them into the North quadrant of your Medicine Wheel? If not, leave the two objects from your last Medicine Wheel in the West quadrant for further work.

Lastly, are you ready to mentally and emotionally acknowledge any of the teachings of the West?

If so, find one or more objects to place in the West of your mandala. If not, leave that for a future Medicine Wheel. Leave and return the following day. Powerfully blow the distortion your roles may be causing to your soul’s true essence into the chosen role sticks in the West, but retain the lessons the role has taught you. Put them into the North space of the mandala. Place any of the new “West teachings” objects into the West space as you also move these “teachings” firmly into your awareness. Move any of the South teachings from last time into the North if you are ready to fully incorporate them into your new life. Savor, in timelessness, how this all feels.

If you can’t honestly do this, and no further movement seems possible at this time, just leave things as they were with the last Medicine Wheel ceremony, and continue to work on those roles and teachings. Keep it comfortable and simple. Leave and return the next day. Feel if any further movement is possible (roles, teachings). Collect your role sticks and “teachings” objects. Destroy your Medicine Wheel. Leave no trace! Close sacred space by thanking and releasing the four archetypes as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky. Within the next two weeks, build a fire safely somewhere, open sacred space, and in a fire ceremony, throw your role sticks and their perspectives into the fire as you stomp your foot, intending for a mental or a soul’s attachment to them to be destroyed. Retain the objects representing “teachings” as daily reminders, and to be used in the next Medicine Wheel. Now take the time to see how these mental, emotional, and soul-liberating changes begin to work in your life until your next Medicine Wheel ceremony, honoring the North direction.

*Sources for information referenced here are available from the authors upon request.

Jude Catallo and Scott Emerson, MD of timelesshealing.org are both graduates of The Four Winds Society: Shamanic Energy Medicine Intensive Apprenticeship 2017 – ongoing;   members of the Oklaweva Native American Church 2016 – ongoing; & Andean Cosmic Vision Apprenticeship, Don Theo Paredes 2003 – ongoing.

 

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Inner Nutrition: Your Recipe for Juicy Living Roslyn Elena McGrath

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Does the crisp air and brilliant hues of autumn sharpen your senses and bring out your zest for new ventures?

Or do you feel you’re returning to a more hum-drum existence after all the warmth and activity jam-packed into a U.P. summer?

The back-to-school season can bring new opportunities to feel more engaged in your life and excited by new possibilities. Those times when you are tired, bored, or frustrated may stem from unconsciously avoiding your true priorities, allowing distractions to shift your focus away from them.

Fear is a part of our human experience and gives us the opportunity to move through, and potentially transform, our experience of this emotion. Fear is ultimately at the root of what generates distractions from fully and authentically expressing ourselves. When you allow yourself to surrender to your inner being’s true priorities, in tandem with support from your outer being/personality, “juicy living” begins. Each person’s recipe for this is as unique as their individual nature, but certain ingredients remain consistent.

Authenticity

Your being, particularly your body, continuously signals whether you are being true to your unique nature in thought, word, and deed. Joy, peace, enthusiasm, and lightness are a few examples of your “yes” signals; anger, frustration repression sorrow, and dis-ease of your “no.”

This is not meant to indicate that your “yes” signals are how you “should” feel, and your “no” signals how you should “not.” All emotions provide valuable experiences. They can help clarify your true priorities, and also realize when you may need to take a different approach.

Courage

It takes courage to authentically express yourself in a world filled with challenges, not knowing for sure if or when you’ll receive the benefits you desire, or if those around you will accept you and your choices. Courage allows you to step through your fears to discover your own wholeness and claim your place in the world. What requires courage for one person may be completely different for another, but it is a hero’s journey for all.

Commitment

Your deep “yes” is fundamental to receiving meaningful benefit from your choices, for you really do reap what you sow. Hesitant and partial commitment tends to bring a mixed bag of consequences. Full commitment opens you to receive its benefits, as well as to respond constructively to challenges encountered, helping you to maintain the long view.

Self-Expression

Acting upon your heartfelt desires is required to live your fullness. Not doing so means the energy you naturally have for this becomes stagnant, eventually culminating in dis-ease-mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. When you move this energy out into the world, the world is then better able to support you in response. That is not to say you won’t have challenges, for the challenges are part of the juiciness as well.

Flexibility

As challenges present themselves to you, it’s vital to remain flexible, keeping the essence of your desires as your focus, for your rewards may reveal themselves in a variety of unexpected forms. Remind yourself that you are indeed a growing and changing being, and as such, the forms of your authentic expression and commitment may metamorphose, keeping your living juicy.

In gathering your ingredients for a juicier life, remember also to call upon all the forms of trustworthy support available to you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and be open to discovering additional ones too. The Universe is vast, so its possibilities and your own potential are also.

Here’s to your uniquely juicy living, adding to the richness of what life has to offer us!

Adapted with permission from Messages for Personal Growth with Roslyn Elena McGrath, Spring 2005 issue of Inspired Times: Sharing Discoveries along the Path of Total Well-Being.

Roslyn Elena McGrath of Empowering Lightworks LLC offers real world options for helping you create a more uplifting life experience through her personal growth and inspirational books, workshops, private sessions, meditations, recordings, card sets, YOOPtopia in Action, and this magazine. Visit http://www.EmpoweringLightworks.com for more info.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Inner Nutrition: How Can We Best Cope with Health Challenges? Roslyn McGrath

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You do everything you can to eat right, exercise regularly, and make healthy lifestyle choices. Or you’ve thought about doing so, but haven’t quite followed up with this very much yet. Or you feel like you should, but really don’t want to. Or sometimes you do these things, sometimes you don’t. You’re young. You’re old. You’re somewhere in-between. Regardless, it’s likely you’ve had, or at some point will have to deal with a significant health challenge, something beyond a stubbed toe or head cold, something that may be painful, limit your capacities, and/or threaten your survival.

Frustration, fear, anger, grief, sorrow, self-pity–any or all of these reactions may well up in dealing with your situation. It’s normal and it’s natural. And trying to stuff these emotions back down is likely only to increase your suffering sooner or later. More and more, research has shown how our mental and emotional state impacts our physical health. So what might help you to authentically cope with your situation in the most positive and effective way?

In speaking with and observing friends, family members, and clients, as well as considering my own experiences, a number of suggestions arose. Below is what our lay experts have to say. What might it be like to use these suggestions? What suggestions do you have of your own?

Don’t dwell on your health challenge too much. You are not the illness or injury; you are simply dealing with it. Be sure to pay attention to the other parts of your life as well. You’re likely to feel better emotionally, and more like yourself.

Consider with whom you’ll discuss your health challenge, as well as how often and in what ways. The fears, past experiences, and sympathy or pity of well-meaning others can drag you down because they focus upon your challenge as a negative. Who will be a compassionate supporter? Who will hold a positive space with and for you?

Don’t label your health challenge with its medical term, which can have many negative associations to it. Instead, see it in symbolic terms. This may help loosen up your view of it, bring you a greater sense of positive potential, and envision and work toward more positive outcomes.

Let your supporters know what form of support you’d like. This may be different at different times, so keep communicating. Are you seeking advice? Feedback? Cheerleading? Neutral listening? Help with tasks?

Have patience. Time as well as tenacity may be required for your healing. Trying to push the river may be pointless or even produce negative results, extending your healing time, so accepting where you’re at while continuing to envision your positive outcome is important.

Trust your gut in making decisions. Information-gathering in itself is unlikely to provide one 100% guaranteed “correct” choice and ultimately your healthcare choices are your own. So give yourself what you need to line up with a choice and then follow through on it.

Don’t give up. If the approach you’ve been going with has been given a good try and isn’t working for you, open to exploring other avenues.

Don’t expect to feel positive all the time. Emotions come up. Don’t judge yourself for having them. So long as we don’t hold on to them or feed them, they are temporary states. Accept your feelings for what they are, and return to your positive focus when you’re ready.

Trust. To the best of your ability, let go of worries, fears, and resistance, surrender to the universal flow, and watch the magic unfold. Remembering this may help lessen some of the suffering in the moment. 

Focus on what you can do more than on what you can’t, and do those activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

Do something creative that you wouldn’t otherwise. Your current limitations may even help inspire the form your creativity takes. For example, when a very physically active friend was laid up in recovery from a hip replacement, she danced with her toes, developing the strength and coordination of her ankles, feet and toes.

Think about how you anticipate feeling when your healing is complete. Do your best to really feel how that feels, perhaps even imagining you’re breathing this feeling in from every direction, or it’s being poured into you by angels.

Pay attention to, and to the best of your ability, stay actively engaged in the lives of your loved ones, and with the world around you.

Spend time in nature. Sunshine can be very healing. Take time to slow down and appreciate the life around you. Breathe in the freshness of the earth. If you can’t get outside, play recordings of nature sounds and surround yourself with plants and flowers. Imagine yourself in a beautiful forest or meadow. 

Cultivate gratitude. This allows you to release negative emotions that no longer serve you. Taking time each day to practice gratefulness, whether in a thought, prayer, affirmative statement, meditation, or simply looking around for things for which you are grateful is healing. It’s particularly helpful to include yourself, and also the many ways in which your body is working well. Given the human body’s complexity, no matter your health challenge, likely there are many things functioning well, so this is a more balanced, accurate view. Gratitude allows us to receive more love and joy, and bathes the very body cells in a positive charge, relaxing us.

Special thanks to Joshua Alan Brown for his assistance with this article, and also to numerous friends, clients, and loved ones.

Roslyn Elena McGrath is an observer, participant, visionary, and implementer of life as it is and can be. She supports herself and others to shine their light through personal growth and vibrational healing sessions, workshops, books, recordings, art, and this magazine. Visit http://www.EmpoweringLightworks.com and HealthandHappinessUPMag.com.

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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What Is… Your Powerful Question? John Olesnavage

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Like many others, I have always been fascinated by and drawn to those who achieve what the rest of us just dream about. And, from an early age, I suspected there must be a common denominator, a secret sauce. They could not all be geniuses, right?”

I first met Dr. Clark Moustakas in 1994 when I enrolled in graduate studies. By then he had published over twenty books, and co-founded a graduate school of psychology which continues to thrive today as the Michigan School of Psychology in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

During our first one-on-one supervision meeting, I respectfully asked Clark how he did it all. With a beguiling smile that seemed to say “I know, and you can too,” he stated that he simply followed a single question “each-and-every day.” Momentarily stunned by his humility and directness, I asked him what his question was and he replied, “What is loneliness?” I already knew that his 1961 book, Loneliness (most recent version: Hauraki Publishing, 2016) was the title of his most revered and best-selling book. But now I understood that his book was not just the result of his writer’s craft; it was a window to his essence and meaning. Pursuing the question of loneliness enabled him to move beyond his perceived capabilities, and made impossible things possible.

In that moment, I also knew he was handing me the secret sauce and the recipe for living a self-actualized life. What he did not hand over was a process for finding a life-transforming question, but my search was on. Some months later, my question arrived quite unexpectedly, and my deer-in-the-headlights reaction convinced me it was “mine.” That same question continues to drive me today. It is the intuitive lens I use to examine life, and a bridge to a purposeful life.

My question,“What is boundary?”, was embedded in every nook and cranny of my life story, waiting patiently to be discovered. Pursuing an answer led me to numerous insights and further discoveries. My own research kept pointing to the fact that boundary was co-created, meaning it involves at least two people and a certain mutuality. This goes counter to the commonly accepted notion that boundary is a wall we build on our own. We can (and sometimes do) try to build these kinds of walls, especially when we are fearful, but they can become obstacles to real growth. My research also revealed that a healthy boundary is both flexible and whole. A boundary that has lost its flexibility through trauma, grief, or addiction produces feelings of being stuck. Holes in our boundary fabric produced by trauma, loss, etc., affect our ability to form healthy connections with others. In my work with clients, I found that various forms of play can restore flexibility, and integrating mind, body, and spirit creates the balance needed to repair boundary tears.

Finding a Powerful Question is not therapy, although it can lead to healing and truth. As in the case of Dr. Moustakas, it is stepping onto the same playing field as Albert Einstein and others who have achieved historic breakthroughs. In his biography of Einstein, Walter Isaacson noted that at age sixteen, Einstein had a single question that inspired him throughout all of his discoveries-“What would it be like to ride at the speed of light next to a beam of light?” (Isaacson, 114) Dig a little into the lives of Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy, as I have, and you will find the Powerful Questions that drove each of them.

In 2011, I had the opportunity to help a group of fifteen entrepreneurs discover their Powerful Questions. That effort produced some amazing results, and created programs that continue to have a positive impact in Marquette, Michigan. One such effort was Start the Cycle, a bicycling program that offers area youth a chance to train for and compete in a strenuous mountain bike race. That program began when a local entrepreneur, Curt Hewitt, and I asked what impact mountain biking might have on at-risk youth. Another entrepreneur in the group, Laura MacDonald, saw this as a perfect fit for her Powerful Question, “What is legacy?” Under her leadership, Start the Cycle has expanded, serving hundreds of area youth since 2011. I detail Laura’s story and similar achievements in my just-released book, Ask* your Powerful Question. In 2017, I had the opportunity to introduce Powerful Questions to graduate students at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. It was valued enough that it is now a course in the school’s Master’s level curriculum for lay students.

People ask me “Is this a spiritual approach? An entrepreneurial one? Or some sort of therapy?” If by therapy you mean finding out what is authentic and passionate in yourself, the answer is a resounding yes. If you are a seeker of any sort, be it spiritual or entrepreneurial, a Powerful Question will reveal what you truly desire most. Traveling this path is stepping up to the specialness of you. I cannot say it any better than Plato did in 399 B.C., “An unexamined life is one not worth living.” Find your Powerful Question, and let it lead you to the purposeful, passionate life you were born to live.

John Olesnavage, a resident of Big Bay, Michigan, is a psychologist, educator, and author who follows his own Powerful Question “each-and-every-day.” In addition to Ask* your Powerful Question, John also wrote Our Boundary, a book describing his ground-breaking, boundary-based approach to counseling.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2018-19 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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Defusing Explosions at Home & Work, Megan Keiser

Anyone working in the customer service industry can tell you one of the hardest parts is dealing with the irate customer, that customer who has seemingly saved up every ounce of disgust, annoyance, frustration, and disdain so it can be sent flying at the next unsuspecting customer service representative to answer with “Thank you for calling. How may I help you today?”

In the contact center world, defusing an upset caller is especially challenging. Great care is taken by the representative to respond effectively and appropriately to an irate customer. Not surprisingly, the same tools used to defuse angry customers can also be applied to our everyday lives in our interpersonal relationships, whether with a spouse, relative, friend, coworker, or child. Skills such as empathy, active listening, non-emotionally driven responses, and blame avoidance have a big impact in determining whether an interaction blows up in a fiery explosion, or cools off and gets snuffed out.

The first step of defusing is always to acknowledge what the upset party has stated and offer empathy. Empathy is a powerful tool. It’s the ability to place yourself in another person’s shoes to truly feel his or her frustrations as your own. Empathy is internalizing the feelings of the upset party and taking a moment to find commonalities you can share on his or her perspective of the situation. For example, the holidays are a time of joy and merriment, but can also be a time of high expectations and increased stress. Let’s say your sibling has taken on the role of holiday host for the first time and things are off to a rocky start (the turkey isn’t cooking properly, the kids are fighting mercilessly, and tensions are already mounting between Aunt Judith and Uncle Bud) and your sibling lashes out at you for not taking on the role yourself. Your first reaction might be to respond with, “You should calm down!” But remember to put yourself in your sibling’s shoes. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if I were responsible for hosting a lovely, harmonious holiday event and everything felt like it was falling apart?” A more appropriate response utilizing the tools of acknowledgment and empathy would be to respond with, “I can see you have a lot on your plate. What can I do to help?” Situation defused.

Second, active listening and asking follow-up questions are other critical elements related to our ability to demonstrate empathy appropriately. When we practice the art of active listening and asking follow-up questions, we show the other person we truly care about what he or she has to say and allow ourselves the opportunity to truly understand the issue. One of the biggest reasons people tend to get upset or stay upset is that they aren’t feeling heard. From their perspective, they are shouting and repeating the issue over and over again, but the person they are speaking with just isn’t acknowledging their concerns. This leads to great frustration. Practicing active listening allows you to truly hear what the root problem is, and asking questions allows you to further clarify and understand details that weren’t originally mentioned. In his book The 4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work – Anywhere! author Bento Leal suggests that we “listen through the words to the essence of the message.” We can tune in to the essence of the message by noting not only the spoken words but also the look of frustration, anger, or worry written on another’s face, in their body language, or in their tone of voice. Reading between the lines like this may also help you identify the underlying cause of the frustration, even when it may not be apparent to the upset party themselves. Situation defused.

Third, ensure your own emotions aren’t impacting the words you choose to speak when responding to an upset individual. When being unfairly attacked or blamed for things, it is common to want to react to those comments by counter-attacking and immediately firing back some hurtful or accusatory statements. In his book If It Wasn’t for the Customers I’d Really Like This Job, author Robert Bacal urges us not to get trapped in the “Crisis Cycle,” the unending loop of abuse and attack. To break this cycle, don’t take the bait. Before responding, take a deep breath or two to ensure your logical brain has time to weigh in prior to your emotions driving your responses. Other tips include using the upset person’s name, responding calmly but firmly, and refocusing on the actual issue. Actively listening, acknowledging, and repeating back what the upset party has stated gives your logical brain time to process. When we couple active listening with empathetic responses, we avoid responding with hurtful statements and stop the crisis cycle. Situation defused.

A last tip is to avoid getting looped into the crisis cycle by avoiding blaming statements or “you” statements anytime you are defusing. Using words such as “you” or “your” are likely to escalate a conversation rather than cool it down. For example, responding to a complaint with “You are the only one complaining about this” won’t defuse a situation. A more helpful statement would be, “I haven’t heard this complaint before; I would like to understand more about it.” “I” statements are generally much more effective when working through a heated issue. Situation defused.

These are just a few simple tips from the contact center world to defuse those tense situations. Putting these tips into practice will help enhance your interpersonal relationships, and ultimately lead to more respectful, fulfilling relationships. Remember to channel your inner customer service representative when you need to defuse.

Megan Keiser is the Human Resources Manager for Superior Contact, a business offering outsourced contact center services. She is a member of Superiorland Toastmasters, focused on communication and leadership skills, and is certified to administer and interpret the EQi-2.0 and 360 emotional intelligence assessments.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2018-19 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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Inner Nutrition: Overcoming Our Disease of Dis-Ease, by Keith Glendon

As I read an inspirational article on the Internet the other day, I noticed tension building in my chest. I felt slightly inadequate. I watched a cloud of self-doubt form over my perspective. I became curious—why was this inspiration bringing me down? In the coming days, a pattern emerged. I noticed more articles on the Internet. More news headlines and connotations. More advertising and social media event invitations. It seemed wherever I turned, there was a common message: ‘Do more, achieve, strive, compete, stand out, be everything, have it all!’ I was un-inspired. Instead of motivating me to greatness, the undercurrent seemed to shout “You’re not enough!!”

Leonardo da Vinci spent sixteen years delaying his work on the Mona Lisa. For several years, the painting just sat there unfinished. He was criticized for dabbling in distractions that spanned painting and sculpture, music, the sciences, architecture, and other pursuits that kept him from progressing in the eyes of many as an artist. What his critical contemporaries didn’t recognize was that da Vinci’s rambling genius and creative process simply didn’t work along a timeline. He needed time, distraction, procrastination, unstructured puttering. It wasn’t about achievement or greatness but the process of exploring his unique interests and gifts, giving his piece into the flow of things.

After I caught myself being sideswiped by dark feelings from the “inspiration” with which I was being bombarded, I was reminded of the recent passing of my dad’s wife. Gail enjoyed many things but one thing she loved was quilting. A talented craftswoman, she always had a few quilt projects underway. Her creations were expressions of joy and of love. They were often gifts to those for whom she cared. They were artwork and simple, functional beauty – the product of her creative soul expressed in fabric. They were a gathering of friends. They were an investment of her heart. At times, she was intensely-focused at work on her quilts. Other times, projects would sit there in a corner while she read a book, gardened, or went on long bike rides with Dad. Taking time, setting aside, relaxing into life was an essential part of the process.

Gail was taken by disease. Cancer was the culprit. In life, though, she didn’t live in dis-ease. She didn’t strive or compete or seek to stand out or have it all. What she did have was joy in simple things, dedication to creativity, quiet consistency in her passion and love. She shared it freely. She took her time. Not long after she passed, Dad and I stood on a beach at sunset. As I felt his grief, I also felt gratitude for the quiet moment. The beauty of the sky. The lesson in Gail’s life.

There is a disease of dis-ease sweeping our world. Lest we lose our lives to it, let us remember it’s okay to take our time, to dabble, to be distracted, to simply be. In this fast-and-furious ‘modern world,’ let’s remember to express our love, take walks, enjoy one another’s company, create, garden, ‘waste’ time together. Let’s remember it’s okay to be at ease.

Keith Glendon is a grateful husband, father of four, writer, poet, global technology something-or-other, and generally life-loving seeker, learner, and gratitude-spreader. Having grown up in Marquette, traveled the world, and returned to settle in his hometown, he now focuses on being Daddy and offering what he can to the flow.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Summer 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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Inner Nutrition: Procastination-Prevention Prompts, by Roslyn Elena McGrath

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” – Spanish Proverb

Does the mere thought of procrastination provoke a sense of uneasiness and even mild-to-moderate guilt?

According to http://www.psychologicalscience.org, “experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we’ll suffer as a result. Studies have found that procrastinators carry accompanying feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety with their decision to delay, in addition to negative impacts on ‘performance, well-being, health, relationships, regrets & bereavement.’ ”

Leading expert Pychyl, who runs the 20-year-old Procrastination Research Group, finds “Procrastinators get sick more often, report higher rates of depression, and suffer the somatic and psychological effects of elevated stress. Procrastination doesn’t only affect our personal well-being and integrity, but it has an ethical dimension, affecting those around us who suffer ‘second-hand,’ either because of the time we take away from them when we rush off to finish things last-minute, or because the stress we put ourselves under negatively affects the health of our relationships.”

While some of us are chronic procrastinators (20 percent of the U.S. population, according to psychologist Dr. Joseph Ferrari, a leading international researcher on the topic), most of us procrastinate at some time or another. Do you have a task you’ve been putting off? If so, I invite you to explore the following questions:

Is this actually a task or is it a goal? If it’s a goal, what is the first task for you to accomplish toward it? For example, if I want to lose weight, that is my goal. I will then need to choose concrete steps toward achieving it, perhaps no longer buying high-calorie snacks, or eating smaller portions. If what you initially chose is a goal, pick a beginning action step toward it, and apply the questions below.

Do I truly need to do this task? Is it actually a low priority item for my values, a “should” from a sense of social expectations or obligations? Or is it something that is more appropriately someone else’s responsibility? For example, has your child reached an age where he or she could put away his or her laundry, benefitting by taking responsibility for this task?

Do I want to do this task? Does it help me to achieve something I value? Or help to prevent something I find detrimental from taking place? Take a look at the longer-term benefits here. While your task may not have short-term appeal to you, its longer-term value may get you over the delaying-hump to act on it. For example, if I want healthy gums and teeth, I may choose to floss daily despite any dislike I may have for the action itself.

Am I able to do this task? Or do I need more information, skills, or other support? If so, what steps can I take to equip me to complete this task? Do I need to chunk this task down into a series of smaller, more easily accomplishable tasks?

Is there something else I need to do before tackling this task? Do I need more sleep and/or nutrition to be able to accomplish it? Do I need to clear a physical space (desk, counter, etc.) to be physically and/or mentally able to do it? Do I need to obtain and/or organize the materials involved to be able to do it? Is there a different task that really, truly is more important for me to take care of first?

Am I afraid of failing (or of succeeding) at this task? If so, what potential consequences of this are concerning me? How might I respond effectively to my concerns? Who or what might support me in responding to these concerns? Are these potential consequences of greater or lesser concern to me than the risks involved with not following through with this task?

Am I simply in the habit of not doing this task? If so, what steps can I take to help me create a new habit of accomplishing this task? Is there someone or something that might help support me in creating this new habit?

Is there a better way for me to accomplish this task? Is there a more efficient method for me to do this? A more enjoyable one? A better perspective on doing it? A better time of day for me to do it? Might it help me to schedule it in or tell someone supportive when I will accomplish it? Set a deadline for its completion? Reward myself in a healthy manner for following through at each step along the way? Would it be better for me to request, barter or pay someone else to do it?

As Pychyl explains “Procrastination is really a self-inflicted wound that gradually chips away at the most valuable resource in the world: time.” Only you can discover what you need to do to help heal that wound and reap the rewards of time well-spent.

Roslyn Elena McGrath is the author of Chakras Alive! and other personal growth books and CDs. She recently released a recording of the Chakras Alive! meditations, and also offers workshops and private appointments. For more info., visit http://www.empoweringlightworks.com or contact (906) 228-9097, info@empoweringlightworks.com.

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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