Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yoga Nidra: How to relax when you’re too stressed to meditate

Hi everyone,

I haven’t posted here in a while but now I am feeling inspired again!

I wanted to share with you a technique that helps me relax even when I am too stressed to sit still and meditate. I suppose you know the feeling you get when you have overworked, overstressed and/or had too much coffee and the gap between your current state of mind and sanity just seems to big to cross.

In these situations, I like to do Yoga Nidra, which consists of lying on your back, breathing and focussing on one body part at a time. It sounds simple but the effect is unbelievable. It makes me feel more relaxed almost instantly, and the day after practicing has a somehow magic and detached feeling to it. It’s perfect for people with very active minds that tend to drive them crazy.

I highly recommend this Yoga Nidra guided meditation that I have used many times because the instructor’s voice is so beautiful and relaxing:

(If the video doesn’t show, find it here.)

This meditation was created by the people at Blooming Lotus Yoga and you can find even more audios over at their website.

It took me some time to complete the full guided meditation without falling asleep – that’s how relaxing it is! Try it and let me know how you feel afterwards! And feel free to post links to other great Yoga Nidra resources and audios if you know any!

Thanks for reading and take care,

Julia
 
 

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The metallic structures around our bodies

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“Usually when you see females in movies, they feel like they have these metallic structures around them, they are caged by male energy.”
-Björk

I completely relate to this quote. Do you know what Björk is talking about? Here’s what I mean:

I went for a walk the other day and wanted to watch the sunset. Many cars were driving by and I felt akward just standing there, staring at the horizon because I was facing the cars. I was afraid it may seem that I was staring at them, and also afraid of being seen by all those strangers. It was incredibly uncomfortable and vulnerable for me to just stand there straight, without fidgeting with my hands, crossing my arms, putting my hands in my pockets or taking another more “socially acceptable” and emotionally protective posture. Why??

I might have such difficulty with this because I grew up completely oppressed, but the above quote by Icelandic singer Björk told me that this experience is real for other people, as well.

A woman’s cage

It’s like a cage of social expectations and rules, which for women has to do with not taking up space. Just standing there with my arms relaxed felt like taking up much more space than with any of the other postures. Going back to fidgeting and shifting my weight to one leg felt like an act of apologizing for my physical presence and for taking up space. I knew about this in theory but actually trying to break this rule was supremely uncomfortable! I counted down to thirty, trying to release some of the constricting energy which was quite liberating. (Yay for all the energy work tricks I have learned over the years!)

A man’s cage

Obviously, I don’t know what it feels like to be a man (maybe in my next lifetime…), but I have noticed this invisible cage around them, too. On the one hand, they are allowed to take up more space than women and they do, often at the cost of others. (Once I am better at taking up as much space as I need, I will see how men react, if they feel like I am taking up their space. I am afraid things might get ugly, but I may be wrong.) On the other hand, there’s something robotic about the way some men in my environment move, as if they were not allowed to express any emotions with their bodies. The worst is watching some men hug each other, because they feel so obviously uncomfortable that it makes me cringe! I think the “no crying” rule is also a part of this.

Freedom is sexy!

Maybe because of my preoccupation with gender roles and personal liberties, I LOVE watching people who have liberated themselves from their invisible cages, especially women (as I urgently need more female role models). I find them beyond sexy and fascinating and I want to be that liberated, too (still working on it)! Do you have any male or female role models who don’t give a damn about gender roles and how a man or a woman is “supposed” to move?

Photo credit: “Robot” by Paxson Woelber. Creative Commons license: CC BY 2.0. No changes were made to the photo.

Compassion always works

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***I haven’t blogged for a while, but here’s something that has helped me SO MUCH with releasing old wounds and patterns and has improved my well-being and relationships that I think you should know about it, too:***
 
Here’s something that everyone should know: When you feel emotional pain, the most effective and fail-safe way to release it is to have compassion for yourself. This is a technique you need to practice in order to master it, but it is so worth it!

Here’s how to do this:

1. When you suffer emotionally, imagine that this pain is a part of you that has been hurt. Imagine this part as a child (= yourself), at whatever age comes to you. This child is suffering for some reason. Let it express what it feels: “I am …”, “I feel…”.

2. Do these feelings seem familiar from a situation in your past? When was the first time you experienced these emotions?

3. Ask it what it needs. Ask it what it desires.

4. Then simply be with it and transmit the feeling that the child’s emotions and thoughts are completely understandable, that it has every right to have them. Try to look at the child compassionately. You can’t fake this, but if you can’t do it at first (maybe because no one has ever had compassion for you), just looking at the child with a neutral feeling will work, too.

If you feel angry or impatient that you can’t do this, have compassion for the angry and impatient part of yourself. When you are scared, bored, whatever, have compassion for those parts of yourself, first.

If you find it difficult to do this, you can also imagine your emotional pain to be an animal – whichever animal works for you. Can you have compassion for the frightened horse, the angry dog, etc.? Or can you feel understanding for it, or at least look at it neutrally?

You can also ask for help from whatever higher power you believe in, or if you don’t believe in any, just ask nature (or the tree outside your house, or the potted plant in your room;) to help you. This practice is in fact easier when you are outdoors in nature, because there’s an energy in nature that makes it easy to believe that the trees, river, plants etc are looking at your compassionately (or neutrally, but they certainly don’t judge you) – this may also be helpful.

When you find the right approach for you and practice for a while, you will find that the pain is released and you feel a lot better, and/or you’ll have uncovered more layers of emotions (= more work). You don’t have to do all of the above; just pick what you feel most comfortable with.

Compassion is a skill that you can practice. It is very important that you have compassion for yourself first, because you will only feel resentful towards others when you give them your compassion but deny it to yourself. Eventually though, you will find yourself feeling compassion for others as a consequence of this practice.

Although this is very basic stuff, it’s counter-intuitive and I certainly didn’t come up with it myself. Credit goes to authors and coaches Martha Beck, Katja Sundermeier (who wrote an excellent book about this in German), Tosha Silver, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, but also to myself for working so hard to learn this.

The next time you are in pain, or shit happens (and it seems to happen a lot), you have an opportunity to practice this. I hope you do, as it is one of the most important and life-changing skills one can have.

Thanks for reading! If you have questions or remarks about this, comment away below!


Photo credit: “Scott Adams Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end” by BK. Creative Commons license: CC BY-SA 2.0. No changes were made to the photo.
 
 

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Don’t put crap in your brain – don’t read the news.

Reading the news is like eating junk food every day, and you are paying a price for it.

 
I’m a news junkie, but I am also easily stressed – a bad mix! So recently I experimented with not reading the news for a while.

I am talking about the daily news in the media here. What have I gained from reading them? How has it affected me?

I have not read a single piece of information that was useful to me. “Useful” means that I can take reasonable (non-paranoid) action on it. However, I learned that many people are being killed in an armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, there might be a war with Russia, unemployment has risen, Islamists are committing genocide in the Middle East, climate change may be irreversible and world leaders don’t seem to care, and many more awful things I can’t remember anymore.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION? It makes me feel utterly stressed and helpless. Consumed for a longer period of time, won’t it instill a worldview of being powerless to do anything that changes the world for the better? This is the brainwashing most people in the West undergo, so that “public opinion” is dominated by the belief that we are helpless and that those in power will hopefully (but probably not) do something about whatever is wrong.

Now I don’t know how to end a war or stop climate change, but think about it: If you compare the information you consume with the food you eat, then reading the daily news is like eating junk food every day, all year long. It is bound to have an effect on your mind and emotions – and wouldn’t it be interesting to find out what happens (and what you are able to do!) when you replace this junk information with information of higher quality?

I have decreased my news consumption over the last month and in part replaced my habit with reading weekly and monthly newspapers and good books, and listening to the news on the radio. I find weekly/monthly newspapers to be more in-depth sources of information because they also see longer term developments and actually put thought into what they write. I still want to know what happens, in case some of it directly affects me, so I listen to the radio.

I have experienced more enjoyment and learned more from reading a few great books over the last few weeks than from consuming and believing in the constructed reality called daily news. There is NOTHING I learned from reading the news that I needed to know to survive or live a better life. Maybe there ARE enough hours in the day to enjoy and improve my life if I don’t waste them doing things that have no purpose and benefit! I’ll continue my experiment and see what happens.

What about you? Have you lived without any news from “the world” for a while (maybe on a camping trip or some other break from daily life)? How has it affected you? Do you have any tricks you can share with us on how to kick the media habit completely?

{May I recommend a book? :) A must-read is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “The Black Swan: The Impact on the Highly Improbable” on how the uncertain and unknown plays an important role in our lives and world history, while we pretend it’s not there.}
 
 

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Shaking off stress and trauma, literally (looks like exorcism, but is fun)

I am always trying to find new ways of helping myself, and this time I have discovered probably the weirdest but most fabulous self-help method you have ever heard of. It’s called TRE, or “Tension & Trauma Release Exercises” and was developed by David Berceli, Ph.D. It may look like exorcism because it involves a lot of uncontrollable shaking, but read on:

TRE is a simple technique that uses exercises to release stress or tension from the body that accumulate from every day circumstances of life, from difficult situations, immediate or prolonged stressful situations, or traumatic life experiences (i.e., natural disasters, social or domestic violence). TRE is a set of six exercises that help to release deep tension from the body by evoking a self-controlled muscular shaking process in the body called neurogenic muscle tremors.

(Taken from the TRE website)

To put it more simply: You do a series of physical exercises that cause your body to tremble and shake, sometimes mildly, sometimes wildly. It’s not you who does the shaking, it’s your body. This makes this technique so fascinating to me – when I do the last TRE exercise which you do lying down, my hips sometimes shake so intensely that it feels like driving on a pot-holed road or dancing samba involuntarily. (I watched some videos on YouTube about TRE and saw that people in TRE workshops shake all over their bodies, which I haven’t experienced yet.)

Snowy Owl, shaking off stress (?)

Snowy Owl, shaking off stress (?)


What I find most fascinating is that developed this method from the knowledge that mammals have a natural way of releasing trauma and tension by letting their bodies shake after a stressful event, and that humans must have this mechanism, too. This means that humans don’t actually have to suffer from the consequences of trauma and stress for the rest of their lives, but that we are born with a natural physical process that helps us get over trauma. In his book (see below), Berceli writes that during an attack in one of the war zones he lived in, he noticed that the children around him were shaking all over, while the adults weren’t. They later admitted they had suppressed the shaking in order not to let the children know they were afraid and scare them evon more. He concludes that we are socialized out of letting the natural shaking mechanism happen.
 

2 and 1/2 weeks of TRE: My personal experience

I had read and watched some fantastic testimonials about TRE by people who had been scarred by war, either as army veterans or civilians, and reported almost immediate relief, so I hoped that it would be the “magic cure” for me, as well. It wasn’t quite like that, but still worth it. Here’s my conclusion after two and a half weeks of guinea-pigging myself with TRE:

I feel much lighter in my hips and legs, and I can move much more smoothly, flexibly and beautifully. During the first week of TRE I also took part in a dance workshop and noticed these improvements in my moving every day. Once or twice, I felt also happy and relieved emotionally after a session, but mostly it was just a physical experience, so that on a few days, I felt bored and actually read or watched TV while I let my body do its thing!

The week after, I noticed feeling more volatile than usual. I was also frustrated that the shaking wasn’t reaching my chest and throat, where I have felt a heavy weight for years, in connection with feelings of hopelessness, life being pointless, and all my efforts, my life and the world going down the drain. This stayed the same, while my lower body became lighter and “smoother”, which was a very strange mix of sensations.

In the last few days, I tried relaxing more and allowing the shaking to come into my upper body. Relaxing my muscles and breathing deeply helped, so that yesterday I suddenly felt like it was okay and safe to let go of control over my body, and a sensation of well-being arose. When I woke up today, I was simply content, with a warm feeling inside my chest. I enjoyed watching the wind move the trees and grass, and for once I didn’t feel pessimistic or slightly depressed. It wasn’t a great euphoria, but simply a good feeling, and I thought: This is so wonderful. Money can’t buy this. And: I’m looking forward to my next TRE session! Yippee!

David Berceli has developed this method to help masses of people affected by traumatic events like war or natural catastrophes who don’t have the means to seek psychotherapy. It’s being used more and more widely by individuals with other types of trauma and stress, too, and the greatest thing about it is that it’s quite simple, you can learn it from a book and do it by yourself without professional help. It’s worth a try, don’t you think?

The book: You can find the TRE exercises in the book “The Revolutionary Traume Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times” by David Berceli. (Paperback and kindle versions available)

The website: www.traumaprevention.com

Photo credit:
“Shake a Tail Feather” by Ingrid Taylar. CC license CC BY 2.0. No changes were made to the photo.
 
 

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How to prevent an impending disaster, or: Stop banging your head against the wall! You can get what you want without all the blood.

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Much suffering could be prevented if we made it a habit to simply set aside twenty minutes per day, or even per week, to question what we believe is true about a problem we have.

To illustrate this point: There was a time in my life when I had to find a job but was convinced that it had to be something that would give me certain status. I had no ambition whatsoever in my „chosen“ field (it wasn’t really chosen, I just fell into it by accident and then made it part of my identity) and but kept telling myself the opposite. I applied for „respectable“ jobs in my field, and got rejection after rejection – the human resource people who read my applications or interviewed me could of course feel that I wasn’t too eager. So I widened my search to include other respectable fields. After almost a year of feeling humiliated and suffering because I could not get what I wanted, it finally worked out and I got a position (in a totally new field) that seemed „cool“ enough for me, even if it was very badly paid. It then turned out to be a complete nightmare.

Why did I do this to myself? I did it because I believed my value as a human being depended on having a certain status, which I could most realistically gain through a „respectable“ or „cool“ job.

Acting this way is the equivalent of banging your head against the wall until you bleed to get what you want. It’s hard to accept that I suffered so much emotional pain as well as real financial lack and social exclusion, a total breakdown of almost everything I had thought I could rely on, and one of the worst times of my life because of something I believed and left unquestioned.

I keep thinking, what if I had known that many so-called roadblocks stem from thoughts in our heads instead of external circumstances? I could have stopped this disaster from unfolding earlier and made life much easier for myself. It’s too late now, but here’s a valuable lesson:
 

How to prevent an impending disaster: Question your beliefs

Think of an area in your life where you feel stuck or experience failure after failure. A feeling of utter frustration, total disappointment, intense hopelessness, and stubbornness (!) about something are indicators of stuckness. Think of this area now.

What is one belief you have that causes you to act as you do in this situation?

In my case it would have been: „If I accept a job that doesn’t require higher education, it means that I am less valuable than other people.“

Now, state the opposite of this belief, or make a statement that somehow contradicts the belief.

The simplest way to do this would be: „If I accept a job that doesn’t require higher education, it doesn’t mean that I am less valuable than other people.“

Then find three examples of how this is true:
„If everyone thought like me, many essential tasks would not be done (agriculture, many services, production of industrial goods etc. etc.) and society would cease to function. These tasks are valuable and it is not logical to consider them somehow „less than“ those for which you need a degree.“
„Most jobs I had didn’t require a degree – does that mean I was a less valuable person when I had them? Can the value of a human being fluctuate like the stock market, depending on what job they have? This doesn’t make sense, either.“
„Maybe I can contribute more value by looking for a job in an area that I really enjoy, no matter what level, instead of going after something I don’t care about, just to impress others.“

(This is a process I learned from Martha Beck. You can read more about it in Martha Beck’s books „Steering by Starlight“ and „Finding Your Way In A Wild New World“.)

This can be like pulling teeth, you really have to fight your inertia and resistance to doing it (only for twenty minutes, though), but it has often freed my mind to the point where I was able to adopt a different point of view and finally take action that moved me forward and away from the wall I was banging my head against.

Challenge!

I challenge you to set aside 20 minutes today, or this week, and do this very uncomfortable but interesting exercise on the area in your life that you feel most stuck in.

In the comments, let me know 1) where you feel most stuck, 2) what belief is most standing in your way, 3) and how you feel after doing this exercise.
 
 
photo credits: “Stress Reduction” by Eamon Curry: . License: CC BY 2.0. No changes were made to the photo.
 
 

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How to deal with shitty people, pt II, or: The Pray Rain Journal

In the situation I describe in „How to deal with shitty people, pt. I“, I didn’t regret saying no to a certain annoying person, but I also didn’t know how to deal with my anger, especially because I can’t avoid her and I’m afraid I’ll make my life miserable by getting infuriated every time I see her. (When I am angry at someone, this can go on for days, months, even years, making my life miserable and poisoning me – not a good way to live.)

This was the kick in the butt I needed to finally get me into seriously using my imagination to improve my situation. Releasing emotional blocks with the Emotion Code and learning to surrender my worries has been very powerful for me, but not enough in a) situations where I stayed angry at someone for a long time, and b) in situations that I wanted to escape but could not see a way out of.

Years ago I read about a thing called „Pray Rain Journal“ in this article by author and life coach Martha Beck. It’s simply a little notebook you use to write a page or so every day, pretending that you are already living, having and experiencing what you desire, even though you cannot imagine how you are supposed to get there. You really have to try and imagine it with all your senses and feel the way you would feel, and then write a short journal entry from that perspective.

How do I use the Pray Rain Journal to deal with shitty people?

Instead of just wishing for annoying people and situations to go away, you paint a picture of what you REALLY want, which is more and probably very different from just having the opposite of what you hate. In my Pray Rain Journal, I don’t write about how a certain annoying person is suddenly not so annoying anymore, but I rather feel for what I really desire, which is to live in peace, freedom and safety, and imagine what that would feel like.

Of course, once I started my journal, I used it for many other areas of my life, as well. It doesn’t take long, but it leaves me feeling different, empowered, and with a sense that everything is alright and a certainty that my wishes will come true. When I feel like what I write is too good to be true, I work on the feelings and beliefs that caused this resistance.

Do this every day. I will, too, and let you know how it goes. While I may make a fool of myself in case it doesn’t work, I really have nothing to lose, and neither do you. Read some convincing success stories here to get you inspired. Happy pray-raining!
 
 

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How to deal with shitty people, pt. I, or: The importance of saying no

I recently said no to someone who has been draining me for months. This person is someone I cannot avoid, although I would like to, because she talks, talks, talks without taking a break to breathe and gives lots of unsolicited advice. I also had let her manipulate me into doing her favors which I didn’t want to do anymore. So I told her that and also tried to make it clear that I am not interested in having any sort of social relationship with her that exceeds saying „hi“ and „bye“.

Even though I expressed this politely, it brought on a whole storm of boundary-crossing, judgmental and overbearing comments, criticizing me, the way I live, my preferences and values, my saying no to her (how dare I!), plus some more condescending remarks about her pitying me for my lonely existence as a single woman who prefers to be independent instead of being open to others (= listening to her endless monologues) and letting them into my life (= doing her favors).

I didn’t regret saying no to this person afterwards, but it reminded me of how hard and uncomfortable it is to say no to other people’s annoying or even abusive behaviors, and their expectations, yet how important. For even though I was angry for days after the incident, I don’t regret standing up for what I wanted and ending this drain on my energy.

RULES FOR DEALING WITH SHITTY PEOPLE

I realize the situation with this annoying person would not have lasted so long and gotten so intense if I had considered the following (some of which I didn’t know until now):

1. While most people will understand social cues that are used to end a conversation, some don’t, and if you try to get out of a conversation with such a person POLITELY (by waiting for them to quit talking for a second), you may wait VERY LONG and waste a lot of you energy. Some people just don’t get it, so I think it’s okay to simply say „I’m sorry but I have things to do and need to leave now. Good bye“ and WALK AWAY, even if they are still talking with no intention of stopping. You do not need their permission to leave, and they certainly never asked your permission to waste your time with their monologuing. (This might backfire if you apply it to your boss or any other person who has some control over you. Just saying.)

2. The same is okay when someone gives you unsolicited advice, insults or manipulates you and doesn’t stop when you tell them to back off. End the conversation by walking away or shutting the door in their face.

3. I realized that my politeness toward that person came from an ingrained habit of „playing nice so they will like me“. But why try to get someone to like you, if you don’t even like them, and they „like“ you the way a parasite „likes“ its host?

4. Get feedback from other people about Mr. or Mrs. Crazy. You may find they are not too fond of them, either, which will make you feel more secure in trusting your gut instinct about that person.

5. Don’t try to argue with and convince a crazy person that they are crazy. It doesn’t work; instead you will get entangled in their sick thinking and end up justifying yourself to them, or apologizing for your „bad behavior“ (= not doing what they want you to do).

There will be a part II to this post because I found that saying no and understanding these five things wasn’t enough for me to feel good again. I didn’t only want to say no to a negative situation, but also use my power to create a new, more satisfying situation. That’s where it gets a little mystical, but being a reader of this blog, this probably won’t bother you…
 
 

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Deep change feels like taking a swim in a sewage plant, and that’s okay.

Just muddy

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the stranger
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man

- David Bowie

I’m on a mission to release everything from my life that is depressing and fill my life with wonderful things that I love. So far so good.

I’m learning to trust the flow of life and not grasp to whatever I think I want RIGHT NOW. Using my favourite “esoteric techniques” to get rid of the feelings and thoughts behind that heaviness in my chest. That immense sadness triggered by the death of someone I didn’t even know. Those worries about what might happen to the people I love that creep into my head minutes after I wake up. Sudden anger that makes me want to punch my fist through the door (but I don’t do it, because I know my hands well enough, and the door, too).

It’s hard to explain to someone the changes you are going through when you lose, step by step, parts of your old, inauthentic self, uncover the authentic you, and train your mind to calm down so you’re no longer at its mercy. Deep change is actually not a pretty picture, rather a mishmash of emotional turmoil, normal routine life, excitement when you’re daring to do something you’ve always dreamed of doing, and times of calm and an inexplicable feeling of expansion.

I personally feel like I’m changing a lot and like something big and wonderful is coming up. It is as if I am living in a place that has, in spite of being comfortable, become way too small and oppressive for me, and now it’s getting to the point where I’ll either break it open or I will let it crush me back to my old “me”.
 

What exactly happens when you lose your inauthentic self and go with the flow?

Sometimes, good things just happen to me out of the blue, and I’m just grateful and happy to receive them. Other times, they come to pass inside a jumble of worry, fear and agitation on the one hand, and ease and going with the flow on the other. No matter how you describe the process afterwards, you can’t do it justice because you are always weaving a story that goes from A to B to C out of the chaos that really went on.

Do you remember when I wrote about not knowing how I would take care of myself financially in a few months time, because I was running out of money and had nothing lined up jobwise? Well, that’s taken care of now, and it definitely had to do with the new approach to living I’m practicing.

How did it happen, though? It was a mix of my hearing or reading something random that nudged my thinking in a different direction, feeling spontaneously guided to take a specific action, worrying about whether this was really the right thing to do. Good things happening with ridiculous ease (resulting in my thinking that this must be the right way). Then a roadblock (with a temporary loss of faith, some cursing and lots of worry, then back to trying to surrender and go with the flow). Then, a perfect outcome in some ways, a test of my nerves (or of my potential to grow?) in others. And my financial worries taken care of. Big sigh of relief (and a look of confusion on my face)!

I do feel like I am sometimes, nudged, sometimes shoved, sometimes dragged in a certain direction, according to a very (ahem) OPAQUE plan that I have no say in – so much so that it feels rather pointless to try and control anything. But I keep trying to control things anyway, because that’s what I’ve been doing all my life and it’s not a habit easily shaken.

This is a tiny glimpse of what it really feels and looks like to go with the flow when you don’t have complete trust in the process, but many demons sitting in your head, making your mind into a war zone sometimes. I daresay that this describes 98 % of humanity, so don’t feel bad because your life doesn’t go as smoothly as a (good) movie script or all those success stories you are bombarded with day in, day out. The real stories would take too long to tell, and they don’t sell. (Hey, that rhymes! I better go now so I don’t write any more overly simplistic poetry…)

Ok, thanks for reading and bye!

Julia

P.S. Thank you to Marianne Cantwell who inspired me to write this with a recent FB update of hers. :)

Photo credit: “Just Muddy” by micadew. CC license: CC BY-SA 2.0. No changes were made to the photo.
 
 

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Couch potato, eating unhealthy and wondering why you’re miserable?

There’s a form of self-sabotage that makes all efforts at happiness (like energy work, self help, spirituality) only half as powerful as they could be, and it is (ta-daaa!):

Eating unhealthy &
Being a couch potato

 
The „great discovery“ I have made in the past few years (obvious as it might be to others) is that the fuel (food and drink) I put into my body and how much and well I move it are decisive factors to whether I feel content and happy or stressed and depressed – so much so that I keep wondering whether my so-called personality isn’t at least 50% determined by nutritional and sports habits.

I can’t force you or my clients to eat healthy and work out, but I really think it would make a big and positive difference with regards to happiness and health. Unfortunately, you have to be disciplined enough to actually do it to feel the results. I arrived at that point by trying and failing so often that I got frustrated and finally pulled it through. But you can also JUST DO IT. :)
 

Fun experiments with mental health and food

 
In my case, the inner turmoil I spent many years of my life in led me to try all kinds of ways to help myself get out of this black hole and feel better. Apart from energy healing, I experimented with nutrition and sports and their effects on my emotional health.

If you, too, have a natural (?) tendency to feel miserable, you might find the results of my nutritional and athletic experiments over the last few years useful. Here they are:

Eating only fruits, vegetables and nuts + no sports: I felt much healthier, I stopped getting colds all the time. I was also always hungry and never felt satisfied, even though I ate all the time. It’s very impractical to have to eat all the time if you want to have a life.

Eating only fruits, vegetables and nuts + strength training 4 to 5 times a week: Forget it. When trying this, I felt physically and mentally weak, couldn’t motivate myself to train and was further demotivated my my decreasing strength. However, it might be possible to eat like this and do endurance sports, I haven’t tried.

Eating whatever I wanted, including pizza, pasta, sweets, alcohol, etc. etc., and none of it in moderation + no sports OR running up to three times a week: Emotionally, I felt moody, irritable and depressed, sad, hopeless, angry.

Physically, I was weak, more overweight than now (I still am slightly overweight), I started sweating even after walking up a flight of stairs, and I had cravings all the time, even when I wasn’t hungry. I needed lots of sleep but still woke up feeling tired and heavy. I only felt good after running, but not so good most of the time.

Paleo + strength training (gymnastics) five times a week: If you don’t know Paleo, google it, but look for a introductory site or you’ll be more confused than you were before. In short, Paleo means eating meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, some fruit. You don’t eat junk food, anything containing grains (processed and unprocessed), sugar, most dairy.

Paleo and gymnastics (not that I’m good at it!) is what works for me. It’s not the only thing I need to be happy, but it’s a damn good start. Without those two things, my happiness is built on sand. They make me feel energized, I get up easily most mornings, I keep seeing improvements with my workout, and look better. Hardly any cravings, and no post-meal depression (which I get after eating a pizza, unfortunately…) Also, after switching to Paleo I found that my mind became clearer and more focussed, as if a veil had been lifted off it.
 

But.. what about pizza, pasta, cheese (yummmmmmy), tiramisu, tarts, cakes, cookies, pudding, bread (!), falafel, and all the other wonderful things in the world’s cuisines that I still want to try?

 

Dear tiramisu, I love you and promise to eat you again one day! Yours, Julia

Dear tiramisu, I love you and promise to eat you again one day! Yours, Julia


I know! The thought of never eating pizza again is a mix of horrible and ridiculous to me, so I don’t even try. I want to enjoy my life after all, and good food is part of it!

However, I know I have to pay the price for eating all the above foods, and through trial and error I have noticed that eating the foods I want every day doesn’t equal enjoyment of life. When I do this, I only enjoy life while eating, but not afterwards, because of the physical and emotional effects of it. Therefore, next time I eat pizza, I’ll do it in a way that is really enjoyable to me, with someone I like in an Italian restaurant, and some good wine, so it really pays off.
 

But I don’t feel bad after eating junk food!

 
Good! I have no idea if everyone gets mood swings depending on what they eat. If I didn’t, I’d eat pizza and custard tarts and drink port wine every day! You have probably wasted your time reading this article.
 

I also don’t feel weaker or less fit when I eat whatever I want!

 
Cool! But, two things: 1) How old are you? In my early twenties, I could put junk food and alcohol in my body and it still did what I wanted it to do. Just wait and see! *evil grin* 2) It’s easy to assume that what you eat and drink doesn’t affect you if you don’t actually do strength training and see how weak and pathetic you really are. :) (And I don’t mean this in a mean way. I’m also weak and pathetic, just not as much as before…)

That said, Paleo plus sports certainly isn’t the right thing for everyone and certainly not a cure-all, but there are obviously better and worse options for keeping yourself sane and healthy, and I’d like to know yours! Have you experimented with nutrition and sports and their effects on your psyche and body? Tell me and the others your results in the comments! :)


Photo credit: “Tiramisu, instead of birthday cake” by Adventures of Pam & Frank, CC license CC BY 2.0 No changes were made to the photo.
 
 

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