The power of the written word

Do you write?

I do not mean texting or typing on a computer or mobile device, I mean a real pen or pencil and paper kind of stuff. If this is not a practice that you use, 2018 is a great year to start and there a benefits to beginning this practice.

Writing allows us to visually see what we are thinking about or stuck on; what thoughts and fears are holding us captive and not allowing us to enjoy life to the fullest. It can help uncover what we’re stressed about and give insight into the why behind the worry. We can think things out on paper and weigh if it warrants the energy we are giving to it.

Writing can also be a very cathartic release and mental practice as it allows our minds to organize and prioritize our mismanaged thoughts, gain a sense of reason to our often unrealistic fears or worries, and can rewind and find the cause to our worries and anxiety.

Many times we are able to see that our reaction is very disproportionate to the situation.

Often I work with people who tell me that they just cannot get out of their own heads and they don’t know why they are so anxious or worried. Now writing does not have to be a “dear diary” moment; it can be the mere task of writing down what you are thinking about, the good, the bad, goals, tasks that you need to get done, anything that will help you gather your thoughts and quiet your own mind.

Writing is also a great time management and organization tool that you can use to structure your week. At the end of the day or week, whichever feels best for you, you can look back on your writings from that time and see how much you have gotten accomplished and how productive you have been. If you are like me, that is something that I need to see in order for me to feel that I have made good use of my time. Writing is portable and rather inexpensive. You can pick up a pencil, pen and moleskin (my go to) or notebook that fits in your pocket, backpack or purse. It does not need to be charged, have service or uploaded to your device. The simple act of writing is something that is so basic and simplistic yet has so many mental health benefits!

The Takeaway: Get a little notepad and pen to keep in a purse/backpack, car, or desk and just write in it a few times this week when you’re struggling with something. At the end of the week re-read your thoughts and see if it has given any clarity to your concerns.

Namaste,
Jason

Silence

Have you ever heard the old adage of “silence is golden”? Well it turns out that it truly is.I myself have recently had this revelation in my own life as the noise of society and our current negatively charged social climate has become deafening at times.

We have a constant stream of noise occupying our thoughts and minds.

When was the last time that you allowed yourself to go for a walk, sit on your back patio or take a long bath in pure silence?

There is great value in times of silence. A saying goes, “when we quiet the noise in our heads, we begin to think.” With the past month I have made it a priority to spend more time at my local parks and natural preserves in my town. I simply walk, listen, and observe.

No phone.

No music.

No talking.

I walk in silence and allow my surroundings to speak to me. It is amazing the type of mental clarity that you can achieve with times of silence. We suffer from a mentality that silence is bad and most of us have become increasingly uncomfortable with silence. When we are presented with a quiet moment we tend to feel like we need to fill the void, the quiet, with something. We can think that just because someone is quiet that something is wrong.

Even among peers we don’t always need to speak our mind or say what we are feeling or thinking.  Silence is not bad, in fact, more and more research is showing that it can have great impacts on stress, anxiety, mental facilities and memory just to name a few. As I get older, (or maybe wiser? hopefully both) I am finding that I enjoy the times of silence that I am gifted with and find great value and worth in them. I did not always used to be this way and I am sure my wife will agree. I used to be very uncomfortable with silence and if I experienced it I automatically thought something was wrong. In time I’ve learned that it wasn’t, things were good, things are good and so not much needs to be said. Enjoy the silence and use it to quiet the noise and to think!

Take Away: Do you have a place or moment in your weekly schedule that you can have some moments of silence? If you do not I highly encourage you to look at your schedule and make some space and pic a spot for silence. If you need help achieving this, reach out to us, this is what we love to do!

The Untamed Spirit

This October I took a much needed trip to the Shenandoah National Park with my family where we met up with long-time college friends and their three boys. They are dear friends that are family to us and we, along with our children, pick up right were we left off as if no time has passed. Our stomachs hurt from the amount of laughter that was shared. Our children went off with their dog Scout (a protective and loyal guard dog) and the kids explored the natural world around them for hours without the fear of their safety. We hiked, strolled, ran, and sauntered through the woods, meadows, creeks and streams of the Shenandoah’s detached from all of the drama and negativity of the world.

Meandering through the Forest without cell phone service you realized how much you have grown so accustomed to these privileges and a false entitlement can even creep in. When you allow yourself to not have access to modern day technology, you soon realize how little you do need it and how much it is a crutch that we have grown far too reliant on for our happiness and well-being.

When you realize that you do not need these to enjoy life or to achieve balance you tend to not miss them when they are not at your disposal. You allow yourself to engage the senses as you take in the elements of the earth. You gain a much deeper connection with your surroundings and the experience allows for a much deeper and valuable meaning in your life.

Technology can be wonderful and it does have value, but be vigilant in ensuring that it is not something that you rely on but something that you can use when needed. There are times throughout the year when you do need to detach from the concrete jungle and the “hum” to allow yourself to reset, restore, and re-center so that you are in balance with the world around you. Be self-aware of when you start to feel the urge or the pull to get out and away from people. You may feel a stirring in your soul to get away and that is the perfect sign that you need to go explore and wander for a bit. It is perfectly ok to feel this way and to allow yourself to experience these times.

Namaste,
Jason

Natural Disasters

Across the world we are experiencing natural disasters at a catastrophic level and rate. We here in Florida just went through hurricane Irma one of the most powerful storms I have experienced in my 37 years here. I am in Lakeland, Florida and the eye came directly over us. We took a punch but we have a great community and our first responders and city workers are hands down some hard core [expletives]. They were out as soon as they could starting assessments, cleanup and repairs. I have never seen a response so quick and in this number. I respect and value all men and women who put their lives and risk at a moment’s notice without hesitation and question. It was wonderful to see the power of this community come together to help one another regardless of political ties, religious ties, color, etc. It makes me so very grateful that I live here and am a part of this community.

When you witness the raw and relentless power of an event such as this it really makes you realize how insignificant we are in the midst of the vast power of earth and nature. Unfortunately, events such as these will continue to happen and they will keep getting worse if we stand by and do nothing to help reduce waste and pollution on our planet. We may not be the cause of natural disasters but we sure are a contributing factor as evidenced by the events that we have been experiencing all over the world this summer.

We should be kind and give regard to our home along to those who live here alongside us.

Unless I am wrong, we are a long ways away from colonizing mars so I am going to invest in my home here and continue to teach my daughter and others about taking better care of the Earth. We are rebuilding and we will be better for it, better equipped and better prepared for the future.

Namaste and love your neighbor!
Jason

*photo from abcnews.com

The Ever Changing Brain

I want to touch a little today on the brain and the power that it holds. It is an amazing organ that can do some amazing things like heal itself on a cellular level. Neuroplasticity is defined as the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. We are only starting to scratch the surface of our knowledge on what the brain can do.

You might be familiar with the whole “mind over matter” mantra, well it turns out there might be some validity to that statement.

Some Buddhist monks have altered their concept of reality so much that they can do a one finger handstand on a nail. Granted, we all may not need to take it this far, but training our brains to extend beyond our areas of belief is one practice that can help us in creating positive atmospheres and pushing yourself beyond your preconceived limits.

Your brain also naturally protects you from trauma at a subconscious level by blocking and repressing painful memories and stimuli. Likewise, it can create new concepts of memories through practices like Accelerated Resolution Therapy to sever painful emotions associated with them and replacing the negative emotions with a positive ones. The brain is like a muscle, it gets stronger with use. So it is vitally important to your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health that you are engaging in activities that are stimulating your brain.

Further Reading: The 10 Fundamentals of Rewiring Your Brain

Namaste,
Jason

The Imposter Syndrome

Good day to everyone! Have you ever felt like you are a fake or a fraud? For some reason you feel that you are not qualified or able to be in the job or role that you are in? That you do not deserve to have success or you do not feel like you know what you are doing all in fear that you will be found out as a fraud?

There is an actual explanation for this feeling and perception and you are not alone if you feel this way.

This is known as the imposter syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) and it is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. This topic has come up numerous times during conversations in the past two weeks with clients, friends, and loved ones. It seems a systemic issues when it comes to people believing in their own abilities, experience and education.

I am here today to tell you that yes (!) you are qualified and fully capable of doing what you do and no (!) you are not a fraud! When feeling this way, you are giving into false reality and perceptions of your abilities and experience. Your customers and clients are seeking you out because you are the expert in your field and in your profession. Your confidence will come when you believe in your abilities, the years of school, training, experience, every time that you have put effort and energy into your trade is what makes you able to do what you do!

Believe in yourself and celebrate your successes do not just quantify your defeats but use those defeats and their energy to propel yourself forward and refine your skill and talent. Just as we seek and strive to become better versions of ourselves in our personal lives we should do the exact same in our professional lives as one is connected to the other. You are not an imposter, you are not a fraud, YOU CAN DO THIS!

The Takeaway: Write down five skills or talents that counteract your feelings of imposter syndrome. When you’re feeling low, take a minute to think on this list.

Namaste,
Jason

Shinrin-yoku

There has been some new buzz recently here in the Western Hemisphere about the concept of forest bathing. If you have not heard of it you are not alone but you need to hear about it, and no, it’s not actually taking a bath in a forest. Forest bathing is the healing way of Shinrinyoku , the medicine of simply being in the forest. Shinrinyoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” This is a practice that the Eastern cultures have been doing for centuries and it is pretty simple yet has tremendous benefits to our person as a whole.

It is simply getting out in the wild and just being present in that current place and engaging the senses.

As you bath in the outdoors you use all of your senses to bring your awareness to that place and that moment. Now to take it further, this practice does not have to be resigned to just a forest, this can be used in various outdoor spaces and should be used in a space that resonates the most with you. If you are a beach goer and love the coastal areas and islands; that is your place, if you love the arid, dry, desert plains then that is where you will get that most benefit from it. Pick the terrain and place that resonates the most with you and your soul. Get away from the “hum” of everyday life and disconnect, bath in the natural world with all that it has to offer and engage your senses. Do not set a time limit if you can and just get out in it and just be.

When I go out in the forest or in the mountains I try my very best to take my time where I am, look around with the naked eye for what is around me, listen to what birds are singing, the wind blowing through the trees, the sound of a creek or river rushing by. I inhale deeply and take notice of the smells, wood, water, the earth! It is a sensory exploration and experience, one that you will not soon forget. I highly encourage you to get out there and have these experiences, bath in the forest, ocean, or mountains as much as you can. You will find that these experiences are incredibly satisfying to your soul which will only lead you to wanting more and trying to get there as much as you can.

The Takeaway: Take time this week to get out in nature, even if it’s for 5 minutes. If you can’t go to your “ideal” location, that’s ok. Sometimes just sitting in your backyard with a cup of coffee or tea and watching the sunrise can set the tone for your entire day. Do something intentional for your well-being. Taking care of yourself radiates to those around you.

Namaste,
Jason

Opt for Experiences, not things

I want to speak briefly today on the importance of valuing experiences over material possessions. I am not saying that material possession are all bad but I would caution on how much we place value in things and trinkets that at the end will have no value. Most of the times the things we buy will break, rust, become obsolete, go out of fashion and will either find their way to a garbage heap, attic or closet. On the flip side, having unique experiences like traveling to a foreign destination, sharing food with a different culture, watching your child explore a completely different landscape with elation and wonder; these memories will last a lifetime and will hold more worth than all of your possession combined.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness” – John Muir 

This past father’s day was especially valuable to me, my wife and daughter surprised me with a private, guided fly fishing tour in the waters of the rocky mountains where I learned from a professional fly fisherman everything I needed to know. It was something that was on my bucket list that I can now scratch off. The knowledge that I gained during that time I can take with me for the rest of my life and I can pass on to others. I will have that memory with me forever as it was such a special experience to me. It is hard to not get caught up with the societal expectation that you have to amass as much as possible, but this is a faulty perception. You can be just fine without having an overabundance of stuff. I encourage you and empower you to invest in experiences with those you love over things. Life is about fellowship and connections, not things.

Take away: Pick one thing or place that you have always wanted to do or go and make a plan to do it in the next month! Trade in something that you normally purchase for an experience and go have fun doing it.

The way that it always has been.

This is the way it has always been does not mean it is the way that it has to be!

As I work with more and more people and get to know where their perception of their reality stems from, one common theme stands out to me and that is the way that they perceive how things are or “should” be. How they were raised, how they were taught to believe, and how they were told that this is just the way it is. I hear this same idea littered throughout businesses or leaders in management and that is the phrase “well this is the way it has been, or this is the way that we have done such and such for years”. I point out this faulty perception and try and change their view that just because something is or has been does not mean that it is the way it could or should be.

Things are not black and white. We do not live in an all or nothing type universe. There is a lot of grey and we must learn how to navigate and operate in. Just because you did things a certain way 10 years ago and it worked at that time does not mean it is the way you should do them presently. We need to be able to be open to change, open to new ideas and new ways of thinking. The universe is fluid, flexible and ever changing as is our own lives. When we make the choice to draw a line in the sand on our views or stance and say without a doubt or question that this is the way it is or has to be we immediately have just closed off our mind from even thinking outside of the box or that things could be a different way.

We, at that moment, stop growing as an individual, we stop being open and receptive to new information, we stop evolving into a better version of ourselves.

A lot of it comes to how we view our world and reality. Are we strict and rigid in our thinking, unable to even try and believe that there might be a different view or way or perceiving things than how our mind sees them? As I work with others I challenge them to be open and receptive to different ways of perceiving their reality, allowing themselves to believe and be open that the way they view their world does not have to be rigid and closed.

If you are in need of a great resource on this topic check out the book Insight Principles by; Ken Manning, Robin Charbit, Sandra Krot

Namaste,
Jason

Self-Care is Key

I recently allowed myself to go on a vacation and unplug or as I like to call it, “reset and restore”. With the pace that life has been moving with a recent move and my daughter ending the school year along with juggling work I have not been a good practitioner of my own advice and guidance.

Self-Care is vital to work life balance and stress management.

Not only did I take a time out for myself, but I also took time to bond with my family and spend some much needed time together creating life long memories of experiences and not things. I spent 10 glorious days in the Rocky Mountains being one with the natural world among the open, wild spaces and I found that I was not concerned with what was posted on facebook or what I was “missing” on social media. Turns out I did not miss out on much that has any worth on my everyday life and well-being.

We have a tendency to neglect ourselves for the sake of (what we feel) are greater priorities in our lives but that is the wrong mindset and perception to have.

We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Here is what I mean, we cannot keep giving of our energy and not replenishing what we have given and expect to give the best of ourselves to others, especially those that we love. Just like how the airlines asks you to put on your mask first and then assist your child, if we aren’t taken care of, those around us suffer. We all need times of restoration, we all need to know how to properly manage our work life with our home life. We all need to be able to experience an increased job and life satisfaction.

If you find yourself tired or running on fumes with no end of the daily grind in sight it might be your call to reach out to someone who can help you discover the tools to create this work life balance that you desire and crave. I will be starting a new blog series based on the insights that I had during my trip. The topics will touch on the power of our perception and how our perception shapes our reality, how to opt for experiences and not things, practicing self-centered grace, limiting the amount of negativity you allow into your lives ect. I am eager to share my thoughts on these topics with you and others and I hope that you will find that they are a benefit to your lives.

Namaste and never stop exploring!
Jason