My book of poetry, "Stripping- My fight to find Me" is a story of the triumph of the human spirit. It is a story of our deep need for connection and the infinite power of love to heal.

Hello,
It’s Sunita here.

I am a poet, an author, a wife, a mother, a clinician and a childhood trauma survivor. I healed when I understood that I was broken,
not a victim. I learnt that everything I needed was within me. And that my mental health and my inner life was the essence and driving force of my existence.

I now want to challenge and inspire you to move beyond your old stories so you can embrace possibility and fulfill your potential. So, if that is where you are in your life, I invite you to come visit with me every Sunday.

The conversation is honest, the topics are varied, the perspectives are from many angles, but the bottom line is always
Self Love Self Care First. I hope you will join me in a journey of discovery, wonder, growth and a celebration of our truth.

And love

Because what else is there to talk about?

Be well, Do well, Live well,
Warmly,
Sunita

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Why "Rephrasing" Our Self Talk is a Core Practice of Self Love Self Care First, and Why You Should Try It


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Self talk.

This is a conversation we participate in around the clock. Sometimes, we are aware of our engagement in it, and at other times, it goes on without our conscious involvement. Even during our sleep, we are constantly talking, imagining, problem solving, healing and creating.

Freud was not the first to be mystified with the role of sleep in our emotional life and what our dreams meant. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud to this day remains a vital and important work in this field, despite being written more than 100 years ago. More recently, Rosalind Cartwright's work on sleep at the University of Chicago illuminates the connection between the REM cycle of sleep and healing.The Twenty Four Hour Mind is an excellent read on how she got into the field of sleep as a psychologist and a narrative of her role as a pioneering sleep researcher.

The content and tone of our self talk comes from a complex system of many contributing sources. Our childhood is the major contributor of this conversation. As is our inherent personality and ability to self reflect and edit what we hear.

How we grew up remains a big part of how we talk to ourselves. Did we grow up in an environment that was nurturing, caring, empowering and encouraging? Were our parents able to give us the confidence to overcome adversity? What were their response to our failures and their own?

For example, here are two different responses to a child getting a failing grade.

Parent 1- "I knew you would fail! You're stupid and lazy. You're never going to get this because you're a loser".

Parent 2- "Let's sit and look at this together. Maybe you need to understand the concepts better. And if you failed because you didn't put in the work, then this is a good opportunity to examine your study habits. I know you're smart and can do this. Better results next time. It's ok to fail at something as long as you learn something and progress from there. That's the important part."

What kind of self- talk do you think will develop in the mind of the child of Parent 1? How does it compare to that of Parent 2's child? 

Just imagine the  variations of these conversations that the children get over years of their life from their parents. As children, we mirror the feedback and responses of our parents, teachers and caregivers. We absorb the messages that they are sending us through their voice, tone, words, body language and even their unconscious ramblings. That is the foundation of our self talk.

Adverse Childhood Experiences  negatively impact the development of a healthy sense of self.



That results in the development of a pattern of negative self talk. It gives rise to, or perpetuates a history of trauma that is transgenerational in nature.

How we communicate with ourselves is a huge part of how we take action in our lives. The words we use for ourselves, and to ourselves, are indicative of the level of regard, love and compassion we have for ourselves.

Do your words reflect judgement, criticism, impatience, hatred, contempt, disregard, helplessness, hopelessness or despair?

In Trauma leads to Treason, I discuss how  "Attachment Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experience's, ACE's affect every cell in our bodies. The impact of such trauma destroys our sense of self that must be developed, nurtured, encouraged and be present in healthy amounts in order to be motivated to practice Self Love. When we are struggling with depression, anxiety and the many other mental and physical manifestations of  trauma, we are unable to develop the necessary Self Care skills. Not only are we unable to practice Self Love Self Care First, but we engage in treason against our being."

A dominant portion of that treason is in the warfare we wage against our being through how we talk to ourselves. The conversations we have inside our head in response to our experience of others and the world as it relates to us personally may go like this,

"He is ignoring me because he hates me. Of course, he does. Just like everybody else."

"I can't do this."

"I know I'm not going to get this job. I never get anything I really want."

"What's the point of exercising? We're all going to die as it is. And I never lose weight anyway."

"I trusted her with my secret, but she betrayed me. I'm such a loser."

'Rephrasing' may not be enough to change how you talk to yourself. You may need to work with a mental health professional to address core issues and effects of your trauma, but it could certainly start a process of becoming aware of what you are saying to yourself. 

For those of you who are just not conscious of your self talk, rephrasing is an excellent tool of changing how you think. It is a game changer, because your thoughts are the driver of the actions you take. Those actions add up to create the life that you live. So essentially, you control how you live by choosing your thoughts. 

How can we practice Self Love Self Care First through Self Talk?

By hearing ourselves without judgement, and then rephrasing our words in order to  compassionately move towards self improvement and growth. To be clear, the purpose here is not to shirk responsibility by deflecting our accountability. It is actually the opposite. It is about increasing our capacity to bear our deficiencies and failures in a positive way, without allowing them to define us. And then building our capacity to make up for those failures by acknowledging them, apologizing for them and making amends for them.

here's a simple example of rephrasing. You can plug in any sentence that you want and follow the process as illustrated in this photo.


Keep going. Practice this process. Follow all the steps. 

The more you practice rephrasing, the easier it becomes. Until one day, you are aware of all your self talk. And are able to rephrase it.

And one day, you will not need to practice. Rephrasing will become a habit. I can promise you that.

What I can't promise is that there will come a time when you will never doubt yourself or feel down. That's part of the human journey. But no matter how desolate or discouraged you may feel, you will always have the choice to get up and try again. That's where rephrasing becomes an essential tool of our battle against despair.

I end with an incredible illustration in recent history of rephrasing an experience.
"Think of the beauty still left around you", said Anne Frank.

I leave you with this challenge. 
Go through one entire day rephrasing every negative thought that pops up. 

I did, and earned this cool certificate. It means alot to me. Because I had to work very hard to be able to let go of the manner in which I spoke to myself. And I didn't do it alone. I had professional help. 


You can track your progress by checking out the fantastically cool stuff at Emily McDowell & Friends and getting this certificate of everyday achievement for yourself. Start small. Be consistent. Track your results. And don't forget to pause to party!

Good luck!

With my best to you,
And of course,
With love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#rephrasing#selftalk#ACE's#trauma#selfimage#positivity#feelings#emotions#annefrank#emilymcdowell#cards#freud#rosemarycartwright#sleep#dreams#unconscious#dynamictherapy#healing#mentalhealth


Sunday, March 8, 2020

Maybe Finding True Freedom and Happiness is the Wrong Pursuit- Thich Nhat Hanh Illuminates Why

What are you feeding your mind?

Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Finding happiness is a concept that gets the press. We are taught and expected to find our happiness in people, things, jobs, accomplishments, hobbies, places and everything that connects us to them. Then why can we still feel empty when we find them? Why are we unhappy when we lose them?

Because these are all transitory and variable experiences. They are sources of happiness for sure, but can also generate great pain and suffering in our lives.

So then, what gives?
How can we find true freedom and happiness?

"There is no happiness without freedom, 
and freedom is not given to us by anyone; 
we have to cultivate it ourselves." 

These words of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, affectionately known as Thay (teacher) are simple, yet encompass a truth that is powerful and not arbitrary. By freedom, he means, "freedom from afflictions, from anger, and from despair."

Cultivate, verb
(2c) to improve by labor, care or study: REFINE
Source of definition.

Cultivation of true freedom is a process. There is a starting point, a method and a direction to follow. Every step leads you to greater awareness and enlightenment within your mind. That awareness flows not only to your own body and self, but to others around you.

You make the choice of living free.

And in that choice, you control how happy you want to be.

Finding happiness is another name for a Sisyphean task of finding an illusion. It is a wild goose chase with many disappointments and suffering along the way. And it can take a lifetime to figure that out.

Just think back of a relationship that you were convinced was going to bring you happiness. It could be with anyone in your life. A parent, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a mentor, a religious leader? Let's take a spouse or partner as an example. With about 50% of partnerships ending in a divorce, how can that relationship be the model of the path to find happiness. Even the 50% of couples that stay together will tell you that freedom and happiness are not always the words they would use to describe their relationship all the time.

True freedom cannot come from any external source. You are the only one who can cultivate your freedom. 

Our history has shown us again and again how tides of good fortune for an individual, country, group of society, and even entire mankind can change in a split second. So what can one do to be free, despite one's circumstances and place in life?

"Freedom is what we practice every day" says Thay. He believes that everyone has the ability to cultivate freedom and true happiness, but it grows only when we practice mindfulness. To avoid being a victim of anger, despair and affliction, we must not feed them.

"...Without mindfulness in our daily lives, we feed our anger and despair by looking and listening to things around us that are highly toxic. We consume many toxins each day; what we see on television or read in magazines can nourish our anger and despair. But if we breathe in and out mindfully and realize that these are not the kinds of things we want to consume, then we will stop consuming them. To live mindfully means to stop ingesting these kinds of poisons. Instead, choose to be in touch with what is wonderful, refreshing, and healing within you and around you"

I challenge you to ask yourself these 3 questions today.
  1. What are my motivations and reasons for wanting to be free and happy? (hint-what's my discomfort/pain?)
  2. What poisons am I ingesting that are stopping me from cultivating true freedom? (hint-what am I doing/watching/reading/etc. to feed my anger, afflictions and despair?)
  3. What poison am I willing to stop ingesting to start to cultivate true freedom? (hint- what am I going to choose to do to take control of my life in a concrete way?)

Be Free Where You Are by Thich Nhat Hanh is a small, but solid companion


book full of profound wisdom, delivered in an easily understandable, encouraging and simple way. It will help make the process of finding your freedom a joyful one. You will feel Thay's encouraging presence every step of the way.

Wishing you freedom, lasting happiness and a joyful journey,
Love,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst#thichnhathanh#freedom#mindfulness#meditation#happiness#mind#befreewhereyouare




Sunday, February 23, 2020

Making Someone Else Happy is a Simple but Essential Practice of Self Love Self Care First


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

The term Self Love Self Care First  encompasses much more than taking care of ourselves first.

Many a times, the act of doing something for someone else is the way we are taking care of ourselves. Because acts of love for others make us feel good.

It bolster our relationships, and communicates our love for those who are important to us.

When we have taken care of ourselves, we have the energy and desire to do so, selflessly for others. Our mind is settled and clear so we are able to use it creatively. We discover opportunities to put our loving thoughts into a tangible form for our loved ones to experience.

Such an opportunity presented itself to me this week. Baking a cookie care package for my daughter, who is far away was what I chose to do to send her my love.

This act of love for others is been performed by millions of moms, grandmothers, aunts, friends, and I'm sure many dads and grandfathers as well. That's because it brings about such pleasure to them while they bake. Their joy continues on through the process of packaging the delights they make, and then in the act of imagining the pleasure with which they are enjoyed, when received.


I felt like I had visited Nina while I was baking. Many memories of past Christmas seasons floated through my mind. Happy times, fun times, festive times. I felt her presence as I packed the Pecan Short Bread (Barefoot Contessea's recipe) and Swedish Ginger Cookies (family recipe) for her. I could hear her telling me a hysterically funny story about something mundane, in a way that only she can. All of a sudden, she felt close to me, not thousands of miles away. It did my heart good to bake for Nina. And I hope it does her heart good to receive her care package. It is my wish and hope that she feels waves of my love wash over her as she bites into the little pockets of love in her package. Because that will make it pure gold for me.


Once you make a commitment to honoring your relationships by being attentive to them, there are millions of ways you can do that. A few simple ideas to share your love in a way that makes someone else happy are,

  • Write a letter to them
  • Send a postcard to them while travelling
  • Read to them
  • Send flowers to them
  • Making a surprise visit to see them
  • Volunteer with them for a cause they believe in
  • Cook for them
  • And then, there is always the act of picking up the phone to say you love them

The main thing is to focus on what makes them happy- not you. Their happiness makes you feel happy and good about yourself. That is an act of Self Love Self Care First on your part. And a win-win!

SLSCF is an immense concept that has many dimensions and practices. Making someone else happy is one of it's simplest and sweetest one.

Wishing you a week of SLSCF, and perhaps baking a care package?
Love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#baking#daughters#love#joy#selfcare#practices#relationships#connection#barefootcontessa#pecanshortbread#foodnetwork

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Why The Practice of Self Love Self Care First is Neither Selfish Nor Self Indulgent


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

We live in an amazing time where we can access the latest research on pretty much any opinion, belief or statement we read. Blogs directly link us to articles that support their content.

This is not such a blog.

This is an article based on lived experience.

I became acquainted with Self Love Self Care First (SLSCF) in my journey of healing from trauma. It was a very uncomfortable relationship, as until then, I had looked at SLSCF as a sin. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt when I even thought of putting myself first. But I slowly learned that my beliefs had not much to do with the truth, but more to do with what I had understood to be the truth.

Read on if you have thought of SLSCF as self indulgence and selfishness.

I will explain SLSCF in the simplest terms possible so you can see how it is not what you think it is.

SLSCF is about boundaries.

SLSCF boundaries do not keep others out. (Selfish, self indulgent, self defeating, self sabotage, self punishment)

SLSCF boundaries exist to protect and nourish you. (Healthy, mature, smart)

SLSCF is about your mind and your inner life, before any focus on your outward existence.

SLSCF is a commitment to act lovingly towards yourself in your thoughts. It is about not judging your feelings. It is about growing your ability and capacity to show compassion to yourself for your failings. It is about having forgiveness and mercy for yourself when you come up short. (Being human, strength to bear your weaknesses, humility and acceptance of all parts of you)

SLSCF does not give you the right to justify hurting or harming others, even if they have done you wrong. (you are still responsible for your behavior and it's consequences, even if you feel rightfully angry or hurt by someone else's behavior or actions)

SLSCF is about taking care of your body, mind and soul before any one else's.


SLSCF is a practice of taking care of yourself first so you can take care of those who depend on you. It is about cultivating vibrancy and joy inside you. It is about having the energy to tackle the many roles you have. Running on empty will get you sick, a nervous breakdown, angry, unhappy and resentful. None of these states are going to help you help others. (Giving, healthy, joyful, generous, smart)

SLSCF is not about neglecting others while you indulge in acts that you can pass off as self love. For instance, leaving a critically sick family member's bedside to go on a spur of the moment vacation. Not to be confused with the need for a caregiver of a chronically ill family member to get a break. (selfish, manipulative, neglectful)

Self Love Self Care First is about honoring your presence in the Universe. 
You deserve it.
And you are entitled to it.



The world will be a better place if you choose to practice Self Love Self Care First because you will spread love, exude joy, share enthusiasm, maximize your potential, invite curiosity, ignite imagination, promote peace and inspire others to do the same.

So the next time someone says Self Love is selfish, I hope you will set the record straight.

And in case you still feel the need of a research article or source that supports my lived experience, here's one, courtesy someone you may be familiar with. (credit: taluskie.com)


Wishing you a journey full of SLSCF,
Love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#selflove#selfcare#trauma#mentalhealth#buddha#selfish#selfless#joy#boundaries#health#wellness


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Why Reassuring the Most Important Person in Your Life That You Love Them Must be An Intentional Act


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Valentine's Day is around the corner.

We have an opportunity to express our love and appreciation for the most important people in our lives. What a wonderful day!

But what if you don't have someone who exclusively loves you? What if you are alone and lonely? Valentine's Day can turn out to be a challenging day for you.

But the fact is that none of us are alone, regardless of our relationship status. 

We always have someone who is our constant companion. This person sees us through every occasion and event of our lives. Cheering us on from the sidelines when we tackle big challenges, disappearing into the background when we are being celebrated by others, and comforting us when we are deserted by those whom we trusted and relied upon.

So this Valentine's Day, I will choose to reassure this person of my love and devotion to them as well. I will commit to being there for them at all times. I will make sure that I visit with them every day and treat them with the kindness and respect they deserve. Because I have been guilty of being cruel to them, and of taking them for granted on more occasions than was fair. I'm embarrassed when I recall all the times that I ignored them, and put others above them.

But I've been doing a lot of work to make this relationship right. 

You can too.

This Valentine's Day, I will send myself this note. It is my intentional act of reassuring the most important person in my life that I love them and am fully committed to them.




And I will share this poem with myself. It is a beautiful and wise message for me on how to be in this world. It is also a reminder for me to continue to practice Self Love Self Care First. 

DESIDERATA

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself to others,
you may become vain or bitter, for always
there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals, 
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann 
Copyright 1927


I dedicate this weeks blog to Dr. Liana Harper. 

Liana was my very first BFF. We met in Lethbridge (a small town then in Alberta, Canada where we were both born) and shared our early childhood together. Life took us on different paths, and through different places, but when we reconnected, we both found ourselves at the same 'heart place' as we were decades ago. So we are truly BFFs and prove that love is a live, dynamic energy. Liana shared 'Desiderata' with me recently and I am delighted to bring it to you.

Wishing you a Valentine's week full of love,
Warmly,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#valentine'sday#love#selflove#selfcare#Desiderata#maxehrmann#intentionalacts

Sunday, February 2, 2020

What Healing From Trauma Looks and Feels Like


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

When I sought treatment for symptoms that had brought great challenges into my life, I had no goals or expectations of what I wanted as my end result.

All I wanted was for the pain and the voices that were ravaging my mind to stop! 

This pain had also gained entry into my body in a variety of nefarious ways.
I felt like there was a screech machine in my head that ran around the clock, and, on top of that, mercilessly played the same bad tune all the time. Attachment and complex childhood trauma had reached every cell of my body. It had invaded my brain in a way that my experience of myself, and, of my environment was distorted and broken. (You can read the poetic expression of my journey in my book 'Stripping : My Fight to Find Me'.)

As therapy progressed, I began to experience relief from many of my readily obvious symptoms. But the damage from my trauma was deep and repressed, so it was a while before I started to reacquaint myself with my true inner self, and was able to successfully break deeply ingrained behaviors and beliefs.

At this point, I still did not have a clue of what the end of treatment would look or feel like. Nor did I understand the time table of healing. But I do now.

There is no end to healing.
Healing is a direction. 
Healing is not a destination. 

The next question I had was what makes for a healthy mind? Because I wanted one.

Pain and suffering is a part of our lives- whether we have had trauma or not. We are all presented with challenges and situations from which we must rise in order to create a joyful existence. 

We are wired to connect with others. So our relationship capacities and our ability to co exist with others is the key to how enriched, fulfilling and happy our lives will be.

How we think and adapt to change is the key to living our best life.

Mind- A journey To The Heart of Being Human by Dr. Dan Siegel is a must read for anyone who is searching for their highest being. You can learn more about his back ground and  the Mindsight Institute and his background by following the links.

If you have suffered from any kind of trauma in the past, or are currently still suffering from trauma, then your journey towards health is especially hard. "Individuals who have experienced trauma that remains unresolved, those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be seen as filled with both chaos (intrusive bodily sensations, images, emotions, memories) and rigidity (avoidance behaviors, numbing, amnesia)", writes Dr. Siegel in 'Mind'. But there is hope because there is clarity of who you can be, beyond even the elimination of symptoms. You can grow as a human being to be integrated.


Healing is Integration.

I find the following description of what an integrated, healthy human looks and feels like to be the most clear and comprehensive that I have come across in my quest to understand what a healthy mind is.

FACES and COHERENCE

F     Flexible
A    Adaptive
C    Coherent
E    Energized
S    Stable

Dr. Siegel explains, "A FACES flow of integration creates harmony, like a choir singing together by differentiating their voices and linking together with harmonic intervals. You may know the feeling of hearing or singing a song in harmony- it's exhilarating and full of life... Integration feels connected, open, harmonious, emergent, receptive, engaged, noetic (a sense of knowing), compassionate and empathic."

C    Connected
O    Open
H    Harmonious
E     Engaged
R     Receptive
E     Emergent
N     Noetic
C     Compassionate
E     Empathetic

I have found that healing is a lifelong process. Even after therapy, or other forms of help ends, we continue to build on our new selves. Our new forms are an amalgamation of our previous selves, but with new meanings attached to them. Our new form is capable of dealing with change, loss and failure in a new, and different way than how we responded before. We can only do that if we are in a state of FACES. 

Integration of all the dimensions of our existence is what a healthy mind is. The ability to adapt and move forward after, and in response to change is the work of an integrated mind. Of course, even with this integration, we feel pain, grief, stress, anger, worry and all the other negative emotions that are a part of life. But we don't get stuck there with them.

And that is the goal of healing. For us to be able to flow like a river that calmly navigates it's rocky bed, caresses boulders near it's banks, and curls around bends along it's way.

Wishing you integration this week and beyond!
With love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#drdansiegel#mind#mindsightinstitute#health#wellness#integration#trauma#depression#anxiety#flow



Sunday, January 26, 2020

I May, I Might, I Must- And Once you Decide- Adopt The Art of Wearing Blinders


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

The poet Marianne Moore used very few words when she wrote 'I May, I Might, I Must'. 

I MAY, I MIGHT, I MUST

If you tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across if I try.

                                                                    -Marianne Moore

She is not accepting of another's opinion as the truth. 

She has confidence in herself and challenges an accepted belief.

She is sure of herself and of her capability to be successful. But she reserves her decision to go ahead and actually take on the task.

How many times have you committed to something for reasons that had nothing to do with what you truly wanted?

That could be due to a plethora of reasons. You may have awareness of some of these reasons, yet some maybe driven by your unconscious.

Pausing before making any decision is a sure way to be able to think through your actions.

Asking yourself which one of these responses informs you of how you feel about the project, person, job, opportunity or anything that you need to make a decision about.
I May
I Might
I Must

Whatever elicits a I Must is where you want to focus your energies. That is something that nourishes you.

Don't ignore the pangs of hunger. Don't downplay your needs. Don't talk yourself out from accomplishing your goals, and going after your dreams. Don't be led by others in what you commit to. Put away your fears. Get professional help if you are in an abusive relationship that diminishes you. Get help if you have a hard time standing up for yourself. Do whatever it takes to find what you are meant to do. And then go for it.

The struggle and challenges do not end once you decide what your path is.

That is the part of the story that gets missed in many of the quotes, blogs and memes that you see floating around.

Let me tell you about the reality of what happens after you find the truth of your existence and commit to it. There is a peace that comes over you because you are now aligned with your highest self. But the work remains hard and the obstacles don't go away. There will also be the hurdle of those who will attempt to dissuade you, discourage you, mock you, scare you and even sabotage you as you go about your journey.

And that is why you will need to perfect the art of wearing blinders.

Wishing you a week of powerful and truthful choices,
With love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#poetry#mariannemoore#choices#imayimightimust#blinders#thoroughbread






Sunday, January 19, 2020

Why Prioritizing Your Sleep is the Key to Self Care and Success


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

There's an obvious, sharp increase in the number of new faces that show up to exercise at my gym these days. I hear an advertisement for a fitness center or diet plan every time I turn on the TV or radio, or glance through a newspaper or magazine.

It was no different last January. Or the year before that.

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reset our life and being physically active is an essential part of a wellness and longevity program. But what gets left out is the fact that without getting restful and adequate amounts of sleep on a regular basis, we are unable to maximize the benefits of exercise. Or, stick to our program. Why?

Because sleep has a powerful effect on our ability to make decisions. 

Our wellness depends on many dimensions of Self Care. But the common denominator for all of these dimensions is the same- the need for mindfulness. And 'mindfulness' is really just another word for 'healthy/smart decision making'.

A chronic lack of sleep prompts us to make decisions that are not in our best interest.

Determination alone is not enough to be able to change unhealthy habits to healthy ones. Science proves that. And the yearly whittling away of crowds at my gym by March is evidence of that fact.

Another powerful example demonstrating this fact are our eating habits. Those who are don't get quality, restorative sleep are shown to eat an extra 350 calories every day, without any increase in demands for energy. So when we are not sleeping well, we are gaining weight. 3500 calories that are not required add 1 pound of body fat. So, if you are chronically sleep deprived, you are gaining weight, which in turn causes you to sleep poorly. This cycle continues with disastrous results.

So if you are serious about living your best life, then start with prioritizing your sleep.

There is a slow, but steady change in our culture related to our beliefs about sleep. Sleeping your way to the top now means literally 'sleeping' your way to success. The average amount of sleep that we need to function optimally as adults has been determined to be 7-8 hours every night.

To see if you are getting enough sleep, ask yourself these simple questions;

Do you wake up refreshed? (No)
Do you experience excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue? (Yes)
Do you experience mental fogginess or have difficulty making decisions? (Yes)
How much sleep are you getting every night? (less than 7 hours)

If you have answered any of the questions as shown above, then here are some follow up questions for you to ask yourself.

Do you routinely give yourself an opportunity to sleep for 8 hours a night?
Do you plan/schedule your day around your sleep requirement?
Would you leave a party or an activity earlier than others there, to come back home so you could sleep at your regular bedtime?
Do you have a consistency to your bed time and awakening time?
Do you feel that you are unable to make consistent healthy food choices and/or have difficulty sticking to an exercise regimen?




Like anything else that is important to us, sleep requires prioritization. Getting enough sleep requires planning like any important event does. Only a deliberate emphasis on maintaining a consistency of our bed time and sleep time will allow us the opportunity to get the required 7-8 hours of sleep.

That will allow you to make the decisions that will help you live the life you dream of. So, go ahead and make sleep your number one priority. And 'sleep' your way to success!

Wishing you a week of healthy decisions!
Sleep well, Be well, Do well, Live well
Warmly,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#sleep#exercise#healthychoices#health#mindfulness#success

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Determine What you Want in 2020 and Know That Your Success Will Depend on This One Factor




Hello,
It's Sunita here.

By now, most of you have probably gone back to work after the holidays. Starting a new year gives you an opportunity to look at your business or work place with fresh eyes.  Planning for the year involves reviewing the many defined dimensions of success and financial outcomes of your business. Goals need to be set, and existing systems reviewed to make sure that the resources and processes necessary for achieving those goals are in place. 

This year we started with a different focus altogether at our practice. 

We asked ourselves these questions.
  1. What do I want more of?
  2. What do I want to do more of?
  3. What do I want less of?
  4. What do I want to do less of?
  5. What do I want to let go of?
  6. What do I want to hang on to?
We each went into our personal space to reflect, and spent time thinking about our wants. After we wrote the answers to these questions down, we shared them with each other.

A level of trust had to be created in order to feel safe enough to reveal our desires and needs at work. And we all had to bring our vulnerability to the table to do that.


Once we did however, we were unstoppable. The conversation was intense, truthful, emotional and brave. Each of us took the risk of revealing much more than our goals for work.  At times, tears flowed. Other times, there was a soft and comfortable pause. But the constant in the room was the support we felt for each other. We held each other in a sacred space and truly listened.

After sharing our answers, it was clear that despite the fact that many of our work goals varied, there was a common thread that ran through our wants for 2020. We all wanted a deeper connection with each other.

 'Relationships' was the # 1 priority on all of our lists. 

I am not surprised. I am a firm believer that our lives are driven by our relationships. We thrive when we feel loved, supported and understood. Conversely, when we are in unresolved conflict with others, we suffer tremendously and feel the stress of that discord. Working together and achieving goals is impossible under such circumstances.

Trauma, especially childhood trauma lends an added layer of complexity to relationship building by making 'reaching out' a shameful or uncomfortable experience. A history of abandonment, neglect and dismissal can teach you to look at cooperation and collaboration with distrust. It's hard to act in ways that were never modeled for you. Aggression or withdrawal can become a tool that you use to mask your inability to cope with being part of a close group. In such cases, your work behavior may be the sign that you need professional help.

My experience of leading teams for over 20 years informs me that we are incapable of leaving parts of our personalities and our emotions outside the door when we enter our work places. This is a biological fact. We are wired for connection and seek that connection. How could it be any different at work? 

We do not possess a switch that we can turn off and become robots at work. No matter how fervently we believe that we 'don't bring our personal life to work', we all do. We are just not aware of it. We are all guilty of not connecting how our behavior and actions impact our colleagues and our work place. 

The best and fastest way to do well at work is to forge relationships of trust and connection with your colleagues. Take the time to learn more about what trust is and how it can be built. An excellent resource is Brene Brown explaining BRAVING in this video. Brene's books and TED talks are loaded with information, inspiration and examples of how being vulnerable is a necessary risk we must take in order to build authentic relationships and authentic lives. It requires courage to be vulnerable. And being vulnerable makes you brave.

It is at that place of connection with ourselves and others that we do our best work. We collaborate better, we think better and we work better when we are in harmony with our team. And in that flow, we achieve success.

At our planning session, once we discussed our emotional and relational wants for 2020, we were able to quickly establish goals for our practice and patient care. Making plans for successful growth became a fun activity and the confidence that we felt in ourselves was a direct reflection of the trust we had in each other. We felt understood and wanted to understand in return.

The entire work week following our planning session has gone flawlessly and was full of all the things we had declared that we wanted for ourselves. We are not naive to think that there will be no challenges or conflicts ahead, but we are confident that we will be able to address them bravely and honestly because of the strong relationships that we have with each other. We are committed to being accountable to each other.

The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. And the word 'relationship' really means love. What we want is more love!

I hope you start 2020 by taking stock of what you want, and then plan to have the best year you've ever had by working through great relationships with others.

With my best,
And love,
Be well, Do well, Live well
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#2020#newyear#relationships#vulnerability#brave#courage#connection#brenebrown#workplace#goals#love#business#workplace#success

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2020- An Ask That Has Nothing to Do With Resolutions, Goals or Measured Outcomes. The Tao Te Ching and Ursula Le Guin Illuminate

Sunrise at a place in this world

Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

I have started the year on a note of great optimism and excitement. Like many of you, I relish this opportunity to re-imagine and reset my life. In my home and my work place, the last few weeks have been all about cleaning, organizing, discarding the unnecessary and simplifying my environment so I can focus on what is important to me in a more efficient way. This cleansing also helps me be more joyful as it is designed to facilitate my Heart Bliss's.

But when I think deeply about the coming year and the years still to come, I am left with a prayer for only one thing. And it has nothing to do with my passions, my purpose, my goals or even my intentions. But it is the source of what I now know is the key to Being. Without it, I am not present. Nor am I truly living.

Softness. Flexibility. Adaptability. Fluidity. 

I believe that we receive what we are searching for, when we seek it with all our heart and soul. In life, a Master appears when we are ready for the lesson. This poem is such a master.

HARDNESS

Living people
are soft and tender.
Corpses are hard and stiff.
The ten thousand things,
the living grass, the trees,
are soft, pliant.
Dead, they're dry and brittle.

So hardness and stiffness
go with death;
tenderness, softness,
go with life.

And the hard sword fails,
the stiff tree's felled.
The hard and great go under.
The soft and weak stay up.

These words from the Tao Te Ching are thought to be over 2500 years old. They are believed to be written by a man named Lao Tzu who may have been a contemporary of Confucius. This poem is from Ursula Le Guin's version of the Tao Te Ching and speaks to my searching soul. 

In a world of millions of choices and options, it soothes me and guides me to Just Be. I start to flow like a quiet brook in a leafy forest when I read it. It moves me to a place where I am able to sit still and wait for what the Universe has for me. And most importantly, it reminds me that I will be stronger if I go with what is given to me instead of fighting it. With this wisdom, I surrender. In this surrender, I find my strength, discover joy and achieve my goals.

I hope you do too.

With my very best wishes to you for 2020,
With my love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#poetry#taoteching#laotzu#ursulaleguin#wisdom#2020#happynewyear#softness

Photography- Courtesy T. Carlsen