meditation

A New Year, a New Life

January is the time of fresh starts, fresh ideas, and an urge to create a new, better life.Often, we start out with high hopes, only to sink by February 1 as if the balloon carrying our hopes had been punctured.We need a plan, a roadmap if you will, that we can follow, that will provide us with a vision, a plan, and benchmarks that help us say to ourselves, “Yes, I am moving towards what I desire.”

Here is my roadmap to creating a new, exciting life:

Calmness: Well-being is essential to calmness, the well-being that comes of being prepared to meet life. After all, if you were going to the Olympics, would you arrive sleep-deprived, stuffed with fattening, non-energy generating food, and expect to win a gold medal? Seriously?

And you will need calmness to proceed to the next step:

Clarity: A calm mind is essential to achieving clarity, and the ability to slow down, separate distraction from relaxation, and be alone with your thoughts is central to achieving clarity.

Meditation for an hour or so at a time is not necessary; clarity and calmness of mind can be achieved by becoming aware of the key points during your day when it is important to sit back, breathe, and think.

When switching tasks or moving from one environment to another (even from one room to another), train yourself to pause, let go of what you have just been doing or thinking, and reflect on what you will need for the next task or in the next environment.

Confidence: Not just a state of mind, confidence is a feeling that is associated with having a skill that meets the demands of the situation, and with knowing you have that skill. Peak performers in every area of life experience real stress before they perform. They rely on the automatic performance of well-practiced skills to see them through.

Whether your scary event is public speaking, ski jumping, forging terrific relationships, or selling your pet project, there is a plan that an expert has developed that can get you there.

Look for an expert who is willing to share step-by-step experience, not just hearty assurances that you are worthy or powerful. They’re out there, those experts.

Courage: Even with calmness, clarity, and confident skills, it can still feel a little frightening to push back at barriers. Believe it or not, courage too is a skill mastered by experts in risk-taking.
Truly brave people know that they will be anxious, and that they will suffer setbacks. A setback suggests that there is another path to get to where you want to go; failure suggests finality.The brave set out anyway, using the occasion of a setback to sit back, reflect, and find another way.Creation: Life is not just about rushing towards one goal; it is about reaching a goal only to have another one appear. This second goal will require you go through the same steps, in the same sequence: cultivate calmness, achieve clarity, master confident skills, and be brave enough to take the small risks to get you there.

Whatever your personal goal for 2014 – increased exercise, decreased weight, better organization of clutter, more recognition of your abilities – having a roadmap will keep you on track to get there.

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Are you a highly sensitive person?

Personal note

I have been thinking a lot about the benefits of coaching this week, because I see so many people who are willing to continue on their stress-filled path, believing there is no immediate solution for their pain.

So I’d like to ask you this: Do you …

…  feel that other people  don’t understand how hard you are working, and just keep loading more on you, when you are already overwhelmed?

…  find that you can’t see any creative ways to show your real value to your manager?

… worry that, instead of the 10,000 steps we are advised to take each day,  you only average about 200?  And your blood pressure is rising?

…  smart under the repeated put-downs you get from someone else but you don’t know how to respond?

… worry about how little time you are spending with your loved ones?

That’s STRESS.

It doesn’t have to be that way!   There are solutions, but when you are under stress you don’t see them, because Stress Makes You Stupid!

But:

  • Allison B. found a way to let her boss know exactly how hard she was working, got a change in her assignments,  AND A RAISE!
  • Sean L. implemented a simple program –  with her boss’s approval – to keep her co-workers from dumping work on her and disrupting her priorities.
  • Alicia P. made one little change in her life, and landed a big enough client to net her big praise AND a big year-end bonus.
  • Jessica C. found she could get enough physical exercise into her busy day  – without giving up any important activity – to feel better and sleep better. And at the same time, she found more quality time with her young son.
  • Corinne D learned how to take care of herself in stressful conversations, while remaining her diplomatic, friendly image.

All of these people did it through getting coaching where they could access wisdom they would not otherwise have encountered, plan how to incorporate this wisdom into their personal life and schedule, and got the support to keep these healthy, happy changes going.

What are you waiting for?  After reviewing these client successes, I decided to continue my offer of a complimentary coaching session until the end of June so that more people can take advantage of it.

Sign up now; spaces are limited: http://creativelifechanges.com/letstalk/

Are you a highly sensitive person?

Are you one of those people who startles easily? Finds that you’re running a little too fast or being a little too concerned at what later look like minor events?

You’re not crazy, you’re not alone, and it’s not your imagination, nor is it a lack of self control, as you may have imagined (or been told).

Some people just have nervous systems that react more quickly and strongly than average. This difference starts at birth and persists throughout life.

According to Harvard researchers and authors of The Long Shadow of Temperament, Jerome Kagan and Nancy Snidman, approximately 15 to 20 percent of newborns show increased heart rate, jerky movements, and crying in response to moving mobiles and tape recordings of human voices. These differences correlate with later tendencies to be more fearful and timid. In fact, higher heart rates have even been observed in utero in babies later identified as timid. Well, who wouldn’t be a little timid if the world was a place that intruded too harshly on your senses?

In her book, Highly Sensitive People, Elaine Aron describes HSPs as people who react strongly to external stimulation, such as sudden loud noises, overly bright lights, and even to other people’s moods or to violent movies and TV shows. They are easily affected by substances such as caffeine and easily disrupted by hunger. (She does describe the upside of all this, including deeper enjoyment of music and art, appreciation of fine scents and tastes, and a rich imagination.)

As an HSP, does that mean you are doomed to go through life protecting yourself from being startled by avoiding stimulating activities, events, and people? Or feeling too easily intimidated by social situations?

No, you can tame those tendencies to respond too strongly to your world, and quiet that anxious brain by adding meditation to your daily schedule.

And, no, you don’t have to retreat for an hour or so in order to meditate. Research shows that as little as 5 minutes per day can bring beneficial changes in the area of your brain where anxiety is located.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently had an article about meditation myths. A persistent myth is that you must somehow think about “nothing.” (Huh?)

The Star Tribune quoted Stefan Brancel, president of the University of Minnesota’s Mindfulness for Students Club, as saying, “Some people can do that, but only after years of disciplined practice. If the average person tries to do it, you’re actually going to produce more stress because you’re going to start criticizing yourself for failing.”

So just focus on your breathing, and when your mind wanders, just gently bring your attention back to your breathing. That’s all? Yup, that’s all, but doing it regularly trains your brain to take charge over the impulsive lower level processes, where emotions take over. Another way to describe what you are doing to your brain is that you’re building will power, as you gently train those higher levels of your brain.

If you’re an HSP, and you are delaying taking charge of your brain and your life until you have more time, you might want to rethink your schedule. Persistent low level stress is a real killer, and it can be very subtly wearing away at your body – heart, arteries, brain cells, and all.

So take the time right now – whether you are an HSP or not.

***
Is you life is filled with too much stress?
Do you feel you don’t have time to:
Sit down and relax
Meditate every day
Exercise

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com

Make good habits easy!

Personal note

2013 has started with a bang for me: a CBS radio interview about my The Confident Introvert book with Roshini Rajkumar (hear the podcast at www.wcco.com/roshini); then speaking engagements this month that will include:

“Stress, the Silent Killer” seminar, at which I will be delivering “The Angina Monologue” on Saturday, January 26. Register here with the promo code “Stress” to receive a discount: http://mnwellnesseducators2.eventbrite.com/#

“Become Your Own Best Caretaker in the New Year”: A full half-day of condensed wisdom to ensure that your year not only starts well, but stays that way all year!
See more about this seminar and register at: www.stlouispark.org/learning-courses.html

And finally, The Confident Introvert FREE teleseminar on January 30. Be sure you sign up now at www.ConfidentIntrovert.com/teleseminar If you’re tired of being overlooked and undervalued, and want to blossom into a new confident you, this is the way to start 2013!

Make good habits easy!

Good resolutions often fail because our default position is to take the easy way.  The neural pathways to that automatic habit that you’ve been doing forever – slumping back into a chair to watch TV instead of exercising, grabbing a fatty snack instead of a healthy one, biting your nails – are well-worn paths.

Creating a new, good habit, on the other hand, means you have to overcome that inertia and switch to a new path. Why not make it easier?

Make it easy on yourself:

Think of everything you will need to perform the good habit:

For example, a set of exercise clothes, shoes, even socks. Lay them out in advance: the night before if you plan to exercise in the morning; in the morning, if you plan to exercise after work.

Or, put out all the things you need to make a healthy lunch or snack to take to work with you the next day. If you do this at the same time you are preparing dinner, you will remember what it feels like to be hungry, and will be sure to include healthful snacks when temptation overwhelms you the next day.

Want to meditate more? Pick a time and place to meditate, and construct the setting in advance: perhaps a yoga mat, a player of some sort, headphones. Have them ready so that you just have to settle into place and begin your practice at the time you have specified.

Don’t resist temptation; get rid of it:

Think of what you don’t need to tempt you.

You may think that you can control your consumption of rich, not-very-healthy foods. So when the Big Box store offers a really good price on a large quantity – gallons of ice cream, crates of cookies or chips, jugs of soft drinks – you opt to save money, vowing to ration it out to yourself, or your family.

The availability of these treats will absolutely be the greased pathway to failure.  Vow to buy small quantities, or none at all. Better yet, make a decision that, when you want a cookie, a dish of ice cream, or whatever, you will have to go out and get just the quantity that can be consumed at one sitting. Even better, see if you can walk to buy it.

Turning on the TV automatically when you come home, or just leaving it on all day, tempts you to set aside healthier activities and collapse on the couch. Pick a schedule for viewing, one that is meaningful to you, and stick to it, so that you don’t waste valuable time consuming whatever is being served to you visually.

Make the bad habits harder, and the good habits easier!

SHRM Recertification Provider Seal 2016

Lynette is a member of MVP Seminars. Visit her at www.MVPSeminars.com

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