Feeling For Peace Of Mind

If you’re looking for peace and happiness, you’re not alone. Many of us seek “feel good” emotions that bring a sense of serenity and okayness into our lives. However the actions that bring about the “feel Good” feelings can actually bring less peace and more negativity in the long run. Many of us unconsciously choose to live in a certain way, with certain behaviors so that we can find goodness or happiness in our lives. Many times these actions are given the label of coping.

Taking a hot bubble bath, going for a run, eating ice cream Sundays, sleeping, watching show after show – season after season, scrolling through social media mindlessly multiple times a day, compulsively purchasing through Amazon etc etc …….these can be all coping mechanisms “to get through” feelings that we don’t want to feel. By the way, there is nothing wrong with being healthy! Eating nutritious food, exercise, and rest are all important for our mental, emotional and physical selves. The key is – why we are doing what we are doing? Are we trying to leave a feeling behind? There is always the argument that some coping methods are better than others, but the real deal is that trying to escape the dark cloud or lump in our throat just doesn’t work. The lump and cloud stay within us because we have business to attend to. The unfinished business of actually feeling.

To feel is to be alive. It might take some awareness to really allow ourselves to stop and pause for a moment so that we can feel. Just taking a moment to acknowledge a feeling can help us stop the protection mechanism of escape and move us toward befriending our emotions, whatever they are. Befriending our pain, sadness, anger etc can change our lives in a dramatic way. It can change what we do, how we think, and bring in a much needed sense of peace.

There is a deep sense of peace found within our souls. It’s not a surface fleeting feeling that we need to strive for. Through feeling what is real within ourselves, that deep peace can start to emerge within us. It’s there. Underneath all of the ice cream sundays and bubble baths. We just need to stop digging for serenity and actually feel. Once we stop digging, and face whatever it is that we are feeling – a sense of wholeness and serenity can make its way into our lives.

Facing what we are actually feeling takes courage. It isn’t easy to surrender to what is. Life isn’t always fun or always happy. Finding acceptance around that allows us to connect deeper to ourselves. A connection that isn’t constantly trying to drown out the “noise” of what we are really feeling and instead is a source of acceptance and calm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love bubble baths and will still take some. In all honesty, I could probably use a little less of the icecream Sundays….. But that’s not the point here – It’s the why. Why am I doing what I’m doing, that’s what matters.

The next time feelings arise, you’re invited to stop, pause and feel within yourself. Aknowedge it’s existence. Maybe you write about it or share it with a trusted friend. Perhaps it leaves for a while and then comes back. Feel it again. It’s the only way to really move on – to be able to really truly let it go. It might take awhile or a long while, we may need some time and space. That’s the nature of the deep peace and inner sense of serenity that comes with feeling. At some point, even when it feels like it will never change, the sadness or the anger that is present can have an underling sense of peace.

Compassionate Living in Today’s World

No matter who you are or how you decided to live, the last several years have been harder, somewhat darker ones. My household needed to be careful of illness with my youngest waiting for and then finally having open heart surgery. I had the unwanted experience of understanding what it means to think about and care for your community members deep in my bones. I have to say the stress of the surgery and the loss of being regularly physically close to those outside my immediate family was extra hard. While I had some good days along with many lessons and spiritual growth….. I’ve also had many angry days, sad days, irritations that would build for what felt like no reason, days where I couldn’t stand what others had to say and just didn’t want to hear it. Quite frankly my tolerance was at an all time low and I felt like I was just trying to survive what was happening. I’m glad those days have past, yet the world around me seems to have that same irritation- that one you just can’t reach along with a much less than usual tolarance level when it comes to others.

Many of us had some emotional pain during those times. It’s not easy to live in a world where sickness and death is being talked about regularly or is close to you and the people you love the most. Those experiences don’t just disappear because the world has started to move on. It is so very easy to bring all that hardness with us as we move into our now more “regular” lives.

When I look around, I find that want is really important for people is that they feel loved and know that they matter. Who we are matters, what we think matters, and what we have to say matters. What we don’t know about others lives and what we naturally assume at first glance matters too. It is so very important for people to really be seen and heard. Some years ago I was engaged in an extensive yoga studies program that showed me a moment that I could be compassionate for another in struggle. At the time, in a room full of women, a man made what came off as a harsher comment around something the female instructor said. What I understood is that the comment came from his own experience and pain. However, after the comment he was regularly shut down when trying to speak and unable to say anything. During a small group setting when he was being shut down again, I let the group know that I would like to hear what he had to say and after thanked him for his voice. Relief filled him and you could see that he really just needed to be heard, he mattered. After that segment of training was over he told me how much he appreciated being in the training with me. This little story is an example of spreading warmth and compassion to someone else who is struggling. We all have our own experiences, not the same experiences. We all have our own realities, not the same realities.

While I believe there are some evil people out there, most of the people around me have good well meaning hearts and genuinely care about others. We all do things that we wish we wouldn’t during times of struggle. We all have times where it is harder to live by what is important to us. We don’t really know what someone else’s lived experience is.

Small things can really build up! That’s been my experience anyway. The rudeness from the cashier, the driver is in a hurry, the person who parked and inch off of the front of my car. These small irritations can build and build inside of us. Yesterday, I walked out from picking up food and the person infront of me was practically on my bumper. I started to feel mad until I was able to laugh at my myself for being so angry over something that definately wasn’t big. I can choose how I respond in this world to what is happening around me. I can choose to be apart of the intolerant negativity or not. I also have to remember that not everyone is like me and everyone has their own life happening that I know nothing about. I can try to make this world a better place to live for those walking amoung me by finding compassion and warmth in my heart for them and their struggle. Many of us already hurt, none of us need more pain or negativity as we navigate this journey of life.

So I ask you, How can you bring warmth and compassion in this new world of ours?

Side Note: Mental health matters, it is ok to seek help when you are struggling. Let’s normalize mental health care!

Living on Purpose : Yoga Focused Recovery

For some of us, life just happens and we follow along aimlessly moving through ups and downs along a path that we bumped into. Life happens to us instead of for us. Drifting through life (unconsciously most of the time ) enforces a sense of helpless in our lives- possibly a feeling that there isn’t anything different out there or that it is unattainable. You don’t have to walk on a road someone else paved for you and you don’t have to live lost. You can create a life that you want to live through finding purpose and creating intentions. You really can be the navigator of your own life path.

Setting and following intentions can help you gain a sense of agency or knowing/feeling that you can change your circumstance – you can also change the way your body feels and how you are thinking in this moment. Creating intentions around your beliefs and values can help you feel more balanced, have less stress, and feel more at ease over all. Intentional living can help keep you in alignment with your life purpose and your happiness. Intentions are inspirational and are about living an experience that you want to brining into your life. Intentions are about living with a certain mindset and then, naturally, Intentions are about action. 

To start an exploration around purpose and intentions, you might ask your self some questions:

What is my purpose? What speaks into my soul? How are my actions supporting my soul purpose?

What brings me happiness? How are my actions brining more happiness into my life?

What are my values? What are my beliefs? How are my actions reflecting my values?

What is important to me? What are my priorities? Can you see my priorities in my actions?

Are there changes you want to make in your life? Why?

Finding your purpose might not be easy and maybe it take some reflection time and soul searching, however, once you have purpose you start to live for more than just yourself. A greater purpose propels us forward and gives us reason to bring our energy and light into the world. One way to start meeting our purpose is to set intentions. Intentions are a commitment toward a way of being.

Intentional living allows us to live a life of purpose on purpose. To do what our souls are meant to do. To live for something instead of because of something. Setting intentions can be simple. You might set daily intentions, weekly intentions and perhaps an intention for the year. Maybe you would like to bring more peace to yourself and into the world and you set an intention that day to create peace around you. You might find yourself being more patient at the grocery store or kind to a struggling stranger. Keep your intention in your mind through out the day so you don’t miss opportunities to help bring peace. You might write your intentions down or select a couple times a day to remind your self of your intention. Perhaps take a moment to visualize what it might be like and feel like to have more peace in your life.

What do you intend to bring into your life? Live a life of purpose, it feeds the soul. You are worthy of it and this world needs your energy, your light and your participation.

Connecting Mind, Body & Spirit

Many of us today move through the world disconnected. We’re busy with our lives….moving through quickly to check off our to do’s and trying to fit in all that we feel we must do in one day. We might find ourselves doing and saying two different things, running through all of the noise created around us and not taking time to feel our emotions. We might find ourselves scrolling media or eating for comfort instead of facing what is bothering us. Maybe we are having a harder time connecting with our partner or children as our minds race to work, what to make or dinner or how to get everyone to their after school activities. Our spirit might start to feel overwhelmed or even quite possibly underwhelmed as a result…stagnant while moving but not really moving forward. What does all of this have to do with connection within? Isn’t the whole connection of mind body and spirit just a cliché anyway?

The word yoga can mean “that which brings you to reality” or “union”. Union can mean that the focus may be on uniting our individual experience of reality, the truth that is perceived when we become quiet and the reconnection to our inner most selves. Our individual experience of reality is what we see and experience, the truth perceived is the truth we find when we are able to quiet our mind to really listen and the connection to our inner most selves moves to the connection we have with our own body and spirit or divinity.

When we focus on our connection within, our lives can become more stable, meaningful and serene. Awareness is the key. What is our story right now…what do we believe about the world or what is happening around us as we are moving through the inner noise of our minds and outer noise circling around us? What are we able to hear or see when our mind is able to siphon out that noise? What is the truth for us deep down inside? Are we truly within our selves and feeling our own bodies or are we in a perceived reality without connection to our bodies? Are we in a relationship with our own spirit and/or our own spiritual walk or beliefs?

Yoga is meant to realign us to ourselves. When in a yoga class or your own personal practice, you’re welcome to check in with yourself – How are you feeling right now physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? What do you need? Are you powering through yoga as you would your life? Getting completely carried away in the music to zone out from life? Can you feel the muscle you are contracting to connect with your body and quiet your mind? Are you aware of how you speak to yourself while in a yoga form or class, is it your truth? Can you create space and time to reconnect mind, body and spirit in order to create a better more satisfying life ?

Forging Our Path Forward : Yoga Focused Recovery

Change is inevitable and is part of life as time moves forward. However, what might happen if we make changes on purpose and with purpose? How do you intend to live today? Who do you intend to be or not be?

Intention is an important part of change. Defining where you want to go or where you want to be and then intentionally moving in that direction – maybe it’s with your thoughts, your actions or both.

Forging our own path and starting to live intentionally also includes a true self honesty where we can take a look at our present reality and ask ourselves what we are happy with… what do we want to keep, what would we like to change? Perhaps even allowing for some space of not being exactly sure who we want to be or where we want to go.

There is also the question of who will I become if I make changes and start to live with intention? What will I lose? Change can be hard and might feel risky or scary. There can be a real sense of safety in staying the same. Uncounsiously not growing or moving forward in life to stay safe. The thing is, safety comes from within instead of what is happening on the outside of us. Personal safety comes from the relationship that we have with ourselves – mind, body and soul. The relationship that we have with ourselves can and will change. Caring for or loving yourself might sound like a hippy yoga thing, however, learning how to or continuing to care for and love ourselves right here and right now is an important aspect of forging our own paths no matter who you are.

Change can sometimes feel like you are taking two steps forward and one step back. Falling into old habits comes more easily than moving in a new direction and can embed in our lives and bodies so that when we are not present or aware we resume to those old ways of being. It’s like living on auto pilot. Living with intention includes discipline and a present moment awareness.

So what does this have to do with yoga? Embodiment bring us into the present moment and into a place of awareness – of what is happening inside of us and outside of us. It allows us create a relationship with our whole being and bring in the experience of feeling safe and predictable within ourselves. We can learn to make choices based on our present moment experience and can find resilience and flexibility mind body and spirit. Many times the intentions we set practicing yoga on the mat, move off of the mat with us into our daily lives. For instance we might start to feel more balanced emotionally and see choices in our lives that we’ve never noticed before. Or possibly we start to pause and move into action instead of reacticing to a situation. Or perhaps we find ourselevs noticing what we need and take the necessary steps for self care.

Personally, many changes are moving toward me right now and I get to have a choice in how I want to live. There is something so empowering about creating your own intended path instead of just letting life lead you. Here is something I know for sure…. It is important to create your own path in this life, to gain personal empowerment while following your purpose, and to forge forward into new adventures.


Connecting with Your Body: Yoga Focused Recovery

How can we function with in the world and walk in a good way when we are not connected or friendly to ourselves? How can we have integrity, kindness, and open heartedness when we are unable to practice these principles with ourselves? Connecting with ourselves mind, body and spirit is a crutial step in the recovery process. In fact when we are not connected with our bodies we can struggle to really grasp how we are feeling, what we might need to do next, and how to live with integrity.

Embodiment is an important part of recovery. Yet, many times we can go to great lengths to leave ourselves behind. We might zone out during workouts to get through it, push through physical pain like it isn’t there, or maybe we are completely dehabilitated and find ourselves sleeping the time away. Perhaps we are engrossed in book after book, podcast after podcast, or scrolling social media just to unconsciously get away from ourselves and our lives. Many of us have lived a seporate life from our body in order to not feel – emotionally or physically – and to survive our pasts, our realities and our lives.

Taking time and space in recovery to move into embodied wholeness instead of living with a fragment of who we are is a process. We might first experience noticing that we have a body and start to feel sensations within our body. Next through experiencing a felt sense of our body, we might start to tolerate feeling and connecting to our body. Lastly, we might start to befriend ourselves and bodies through a regular connection or practice. Having real emodied experiences matters.

You might practice embodiment through trauma sensitive Yoga or weight lifting class. Maybe you find your self drawn to Thai Chi or another movement practice that involves noticing and feeling your body along with building a secure and safe connection to it. Sometimes sitting in meditation without movement can be hard as our minds have more space to run and intrusive thought have more time to move in. Sitting meditation is a wonderful practice, however it’s very important to find what works for you. Remember what works for you now might change over time or maybe you need to find something else that works at a later time and that is ok. Change is good.

You can read about the 5 benefits of embodiment in my next blog!


Yoga Focused Recovery is online. There are hatha yoga classes designed for those suffering from addiction or alcoholism. These trauma informed sessions will start in April, here is more info if you think that process might work for you.


Creating Safety Through Embodiment

At first glance might think this is easy or basic, however, feeling safe is one of the most overlooked parts of recovery and healing. A basic sense of safety within one’s self is needed in this world to function and live happy decent lives. Feeling safe when stress or anxiety hits matters. Feeling safe going to the grocery store around others matters. Feeling safe at night so you can sleep and gain needed rest for your body and soul matters. The body and the brain knowing that sensory input from the environment is safe matters. We don’t find real safety outside of ourselves. Real safety is found within.

Those who have suffered from trauma or addiction can feel past experiences move into their present through sensory input. For instance, the smell of alcohol could trigger a flight/fight response from an extremely stressful situation that involved the same smell. Many times it’s the sensory input that moves our brains into fear and thus produces automatic trauma/fear responses even when the danger has already passed. Parts of our brain and body will believe that the traumatic experience is still happening even though other parts know that it is over. We can change the way our brains and bodies experience and perceive fear. We do not need to be triggered to find change. We can find change right now in this moment.

Though a predictable safe space, exploration of our inner landscape creates experiences of safety in the present moment without bringing in the past. When we are noticing or feeling a muscular dynamic, we are fully in the present moment right now. When we are in the present moment, we are not in past trauma and have the opportunity to feel safe within ourselves. Imagining a “peaceful or safe place” is somewhere outside of ourselves and is not a real life safety that can be counted on to be there in daily life. We can not feel an imagined safety within our bones. Instead, we can turn inward and experience what it feels like to be safe. Inner safety creates feeling safe in the outer world as well.

Through embodiment in the present moment a sense of real safety can start to flourish within. Feeling safe is the foundation of healing. taking risks to change our lives is hard. What will happen? Who will we become? When safety is previewed the world becomes a bigger place that allows for exploration, investigation and growth.

5 Benefits of Embodied Healing

Many who have suffered from trauma, addiction and/or alcoholism have seen tramatic or very stressful events in their lives. Our bodies are absolutely amazing and part of our body/brain unconsciously works for survival. You may have heard of flight, flight, submit, freeze, and fawn where the Limbic system takes over to protect from danger. These are life-saving autonomic processes that can continue after the danger has passed. An example could be a veteran whose body would quickly respond to loud noise as a life-saving process. However, after the war, that same vet wouldn’t be able to go out or walk down the street without fear of excessive anger or feeling like they need to fight for life with sudden loud noises. Another could be a child who does everything they can not to make their alcoholic parent angry however when they become adults the trauma response kicks in when they hear their partner walking in the door and rush to “fawn” over them in order to survive even though the situation has changed. These automatic (non-cognitive) trauma responses can cause shame and feelings of worthlessness. The rub here is that even after the danger has passed, these responses can still be deeply embedded within our bodies, minds, and spirits.

How do embodiment practices help?

Many times in order to block out sights, sounds, touch, smell, etc that are all implicit reminders of terrible events our bodies “shut down” or weaken interoceptive pathways from our bodies to our brains as a means of protection. The less that is felt or the more that is felt (overwhelming information) the fewer trauma responses your body, mind, and spirit reacts to. Many live separate from the body in order to tolerate life. Feeling and living within one’s self is being fully alive. Embodiment is vital for healing and for long-term healthy living.

Here are 5 ways embodiment can help heal survivors of trauma or addictions:

  1. Finding safety within one’s self. You might think this seems easy, but it is one of the most overlooked parts of people recovering and finding healing for themselves. A basic sense of safety within one’s self is needed in this world to function and live a happy decent lives. Feeling safe when stress comes up matters. Feeling safe going to the grocery store matters. Feeling safe at night to gain needed rest for your body and soul matters. Your body and brain know that sensory input from your regular environment is safe matters. We don’t find real safety outside of ourselves. Real safety is found within.
  2. Strengthening Interoceptive Pathways to Change Behavior. We have interoceptive (Felt Sense) pathways from our body to our brain that have been encoded by past experiences. These pathways tell the brain when there is danger. A simple smell or touch that reminds the body and then the brain about a past event can set off alarm bells and a trauma response can ensue automatically. These pathways can be changed through the practice of safe predictable embodiment by building more robust interoceptive pathways that hence directly or indirectly change behavior through healing pathways that were encoded with danger.
  3. Feeling and Connecting with Emotions. The number one issue most therapists talk about is clients not being able to connect with and identify feelings. How do you know when you’re sad? You might know from feeling a lump in your throat when you’re holding back tears or maybe you feel a heaviness in your chest for instance …. not everyone feels sadness the same. Many can struggle to feel their body or to notice that lump in their throat which makes it impossible to connect with or label an emotion. Embodiment practices strengthen the ability to feel – to feel your heart beating, your breath…..the lump in the throat when sad.
  4. Feeling true Kindness toward one’s self. Many people who have been through trauma or addiction can struggle to just tolerate themselves. Through a non-prescriptive approach to embodiment and allowing clients to have their own real experiences (without giving them one we think they should have) they can start to approach the concept of friendliness toward oneself. Friendliness opens the door to curiosity and exploration of the whole person.
  5. Your Body as a Resource. Many times when people talk about healing, they might start talking about relaxing or calming. This can feel scary to someone who is hyper-vigilant and on the lookout for danger. Many of our balancing the nervous system is different than down-regulating or calming. It is possible for self-regulation to occur through embodiment however let’s note that self-regulation can be a part of the healing process but it is not the whole healing process. What is really important is to be able to find what works to feel safe, grounded, and empowered in that moment, right now. Remember what works today might not work tomorrow and what works for you may not work for someone else.

Healing through embodiment is a personal hopefully noncoercive process that when met with a non-prescriptive approach and empowerment can change lives.

Stay tuned as I dig deeper into each of the 5 ways embodiment can help heal trauma!


Trauma Informed Breath & The Nervous System

Breath is the doorway to the nervous system, meaning that yogic breathing techniques can change the way we feel quickly. Many times in yoga these breathing practices can be meant for calming or revving up the nervous systems to gain energy. For those who have suffered from trauma, it is important to tread lightly when approaching breath.

Trauma informed breathing is meant for interoception – being able to feel or notice that your breathing to help heal and balance the nervous system system through interoceptive pathways from body to brain. However, because breath is so sensory and can greatly effect a person – it can also be triggering for those who have been through complex (more than one trauma or re-experiencing) or developmental trauma (trauma started as children). Triggering means that the person can feel great fear, become highly anxious or a trauma response could kick in.

Another aspect around breath is how quickly and strongly it can change your nervous system. Many survivors of trauma are already hyper vigilant with revved up nervous systems and it usually isn’t beneficial to continue to raise energy even if it feels “good” in that moment. When we are using breathing techniques that are not meant to up regulate the nervous system if the breath work is practiced incorrectly due to teaching or embedded automatic breathing patterns due to trauma these “calming” breath practices could also up regulate your nervous system causing dysregulation like panic attacks, severe anxiety, difficulty sleeping or insomnia – just to name a few.

You might start adding in breath work to your class or with your clients by noticing the breath in movement or connecting movement and breath. Remember just showing up and noticing or feeling their body is a lot for those who have been through trauma. Other trauma informed breathing practices could be added in after some time as a higher dosage.

So the point of this blog is to tread lightly and understand how to facilite trauma informed breath techniques – our clients deserve that kind of seriousness and deep ahimsa practice from us a practitioners.

Finding Our Center : Recovery Focused Yoga

Feeling discombobulated? Off kilter? Out of balance?
I have felt exactly that way at different times in my life. In fact, it showed one day during a yoga training. The teachers at the time commented that maybe they needed a”discombobulation” room to put people in until they were more grounded. Well, that didn’t feel good and note to self – could have been said in a more compassionate way. Never the less, it was another reminder of what it feels like to have my energy moving in every which direction. To feel rushed and breathless as my mind runs a hundred miles an hour moving from one thought to the next.

Finding our center creates a strong connection and balance between body, mind and spirit that enables us to withstand or embrace the energy that surrounds us. Grounding creates a resilience that connects deep within the soul. We gain an acute awareness of what is happening around us and are able to act with thought and integrity.

When we are centered, we are our most authentic selves. Authenticity allows us to be who we truly are from the core of our being. With regular practice, we can show up to life with a sense of stability and peace with that spreads outwards and vibrates in the world around us.

Centering ourselves can be a simple regular practice and it may not look the same for us all and it also may not look the same depending on what is happening in our lives. Perhaps you start by noticing your feet in your shoes as you are waiting line somewhere or maybe you notice each time your feet touch the ground as your walking. Possibly you’ve started a mindful movement practice or a meditation practice of some kind. Maybe you’ve started a quiet gardening practice and you can feel the earth as your planting. Perhaps you sit in nature creating art work or start journaling regularly in a safe quite space. Centering is the practice of calming the mind and connecting with the earth or universe around you.

🙏🏻 openviewyoga.com, Yoga Focused Recovery, 4 series session starting April 2023 : https://openviewyoga.com/apps/webstore/products/show/8264531?siteId=134605852&locale=en-GB

#resilience #recovery