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Archive for the ‘health & wellness’ Category

The Power of Gratitude

On the last day of our Mindful Self Compassion program last week, we were asked to list some things that we are grateful for, this ‘gratitude exercise’ is one that is used widely in personal development work of all kinds. One of the items on my list was the ‘ability to feel’.

Although, many times it has been painful to feel so deeply, I also feel incredibly blessed to have had the experience to be able to deeply and passionately love another person. I realize now, from the benefit of middle age, that not everyone has the opportunity to experience this and I feel sad for them.

Another item on my list was my cognitive function as an extended family member is experiencing dementia and ‘staying in my reality’ feels precious. Following through with this thinking, I am grateful for the ability to appreciate the beauty of art and poetry.

I am also immensley grateful for my family, who anchor me, keep me humble and never cease to challenge me to ‘take the higher road’. The Mindful Self Compassion program has been so helpful in this area as I have noticed myself being less reactive, less tied into long standing behaviour patterns, more able to ‘pause’ and make a choice of actions and words coming from a place of loving kindness.

The exercise of finishing one’s day by listing three things one is grateful for is simple yet powerful. I encourage you to try it.

namaste,

Zoey

There Is A New Guy In My Life!

Yes, there is a new guy in my life and he’s not even three feet tall! I love him to the moon and back and even further than that! I didn’t know I could love a little being this much!

Now, I am and always have been a wildly fierce and loving mama to my three daughters, I love and adore them and always will. There is just something super special though about being a grandma to a fiesty, funny and magnificent little boy, not having had any boys myself.

In spite of hearing how fabulous grand parenting is, it has surpassed expectations.

I’m reminded of the instructions for loving kindness meditation, to think of a person who cracks your heart open with love and then from that place of unconditional loving kindness to extend that love first to ones’s self and then outwards to others … I now have another person to inspire this love and he is complete with strawberry blond curls and deep sapphire blue eyes.

Oh, the joys of life transitions!

Mindfulness, Loving Kindness & Self Compassion Training

Health Tips

Meditate and breathe

One after effect of having an angiogram is a couple of days of limited activity and no driving, so I was unable to attend my ‘Mindfulness and Self Compassion’ Training program the other day in Bellingham. It is so interesting to me that both events are so focused on the heart, however, in vastly different ways!

An angiogram is a procedure that investigates the anatomy, physiology, blood flow and mechanical workings of the heart.

Meditation, specifically loving kindness meditation, uses the emotions of the heart to send self kindness and love first to ones self, to loved ones, and then outwards to neutral people, finally including those we find ‘edgy’ and ‘classic enemies’ as our loving kindness recipients.

Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson in their book Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body, outline studies that show that loving kindness meditation positively changes emotional states of the meditator and over time can further alter behavior toward good. This may sound expected, however, the effects were proven through sound research studies and hence have a positive potential impact for humanity. It appears that even a few minutes of daily loving kindness meditation can improve one’s sense of wellbeing.

So, it’s off to do my daily meditation …

 

Living with Heart Disease FMD & SCAD

I don’t often write about my personal health adventures and living with Heart Disease, FMD and SCAD, however as I sit, in the pre-prep stage for an angiogram and coronary flow rate testing today, missing my morning caffeine and feeling vague chest pain due to stress and not taking my cardiac meds last night … it’s right in my face, I have a ‘hidden chronic health condition’ and some days it’s not fun at all!

The thing is I look fine, very healthy in fact for someone who is 60. I exercise everyday, I do yoga, heck, I’m a yoga instructor and I eat well, take supplements, take my medications exactly as prescribed, don’t drink, don’t smoke, meditate!

I look healthy on the outside but some days, I feel so awful on the inside.

I have an uncommon condition called ‘Fibromuscular Dysplasia’ (FMD) which is a disease of the vascular system and was a precipitating factor in the spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and myocardial infarction (heart attack) I had in 2008. FMD affects my carotid artery, coronary arteries, renal arteries and iliac artery. The main area being investigated currently is my heart, although with FMD, blood flow can be slowed through all arteries showing ‘beading’ and other changes. My main symptoms of FMD are fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, pain and tingling in legs and hands (could be a medication side effect), pain in kidneys and a myriad of chest pains and shortness of breath. The key thing I need to be aware of is my blood pressure and of course, to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Many folks don’t know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in North America and that the symptoms of a heart attack can be different for women than men. This information is super important for everyone to know!

When I had my dissection and MI,  it was during a time of great emotional stress. My symptoms were preceded by a couple of days of chest tightness, it felt like I was getting bronchitis which I had had in the past. The chest tightness increased the day of the ‘attack’, and I also developed discomfort in my right jaw and right shoulder, similar to that of a pulled muscle. Intermittently it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest (literally) and I was short of breath. I never really described myself as being in pain.

Fortunately, even though I felt like a ‘ninny having a panic attack’, I had a family member drive me to ER where I was quickly assessed and admitted. I received wonderful care and as I live in a metropolitan area with a major teaching hospital, even though it was in 2008 and SCAD was considered rare, I received an accurate diagnosis of SCAD and an appropriate treatment plan to be medically managed.

The follow up today is part of a research study to further understand SCAD.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

 

 

Inspirational Quote to Fire Up Your Heart and Soothe Your Soul

mindfulness

Self Compassion

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers,

the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.

Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than you found it.”

~ Wilfred Peterson

Fall Days – Sometimes You Just Have to Get Outside!

And, the flip side of rainy days are gorgeous sunny Fall days when the best thing to do is to get outside and go to a park!

Enjoy the weekend friends!

 

 

Rainy Day Reading in Bed

Gratitude

Due to some unexpected cancellations, more than anticipated rain and a slight overuse injury, it appears I have created one of the suggested Self Care activities for myself … a ‘stolen’ rainy day reading in bed! I am so very thankful for this.

I usually have 3-4 books going at one time, one fiction and the rest non fiction and memoirs.

Today, I’ll start with something uplifting and kind of spiritual and plan to finish ‘the mindful path to self compassion’ by Christopher K. Germer and then move on to ‘breathing under water’ by Richard Rohr.

Next, I hope to read a few chapters from ‘Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis’ by J.D. Vance before diving into ‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colton Whitehead. Once I finish ‘The Underground Railroad and if I still have some time left, my next novel is ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’ by Madeleine Thien. Ms. Thien’s novel won Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2016.

Now, if only there was someone to bring me delectable beverages and munchies all day, this day of rainy day reading would be perfect.

Autumn Energy: Use it For Renewal

Even though I don’t have ‘kids’ returning to school, September continues to feel like a time of new beginnings. In nature, Fall is a time of harvest and the beginning stages of renewal.

Some of my favourite Fall memories include walking down tree lined streets and the smell and sound of crispy leaves, recently fallen.

You can use the changing energies of the Autumn season to let go of what no longer serves you and to take time to reflect on those activities that recharge and renew you.

I’m using the Fall season to recharge through an eight week ‘mindfulness and self-compassion’ program similar to what my friends and colleagues at ‘Compassion Inspired Health’ offer.

Summer Holidays Good for the Soul

 

I am slowly feeling re-energized and have been reminded how important it is to take time off for Summer holidays!

Recently, and totally unconsciously, I got back on the treadmill, albeit, a ‘health’ treadmill. I over did ‘life’ by over scheduling and even though it was all activities I love, my energy was depleted.

Life coaches should know better, right?

Now, I feel my energy returning after days of being on the water, rocked to sleep by gentle waves.

I’ve also re-committed to my loving kindness meditation practice which was very easy to do with just two of us on the boat, however, was worried I would have a challenge as numbers on the boat swelled recently with the addition of one of my daughters and my grandson.

These are two people I love dearly, so the loving kindness is actually flowing! No need for worry.

I’m fortunate to live in an area of the world that is breathtakingly gorgeous. Being in Nature, taking long forest walks, beach walks, attending local Farmers Markets, kayaking, these activities spell Summer to me. I can feel by engaging in these summertime activities that I’m slowly beginning to ‘regreen’ the dry and parched areas inside.

While I may at times yearn to live in a perpetual summer holiday, feeling nourished and re-energized allows me to return to daily life.

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