Overthinking? Get into the now!

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We are conscious beings. We have the ability to think. Isn’t that wonderful? We can use our imagination to conjure up scenes of beauty right in front of us. We can process words, symbols, numbers, emotions, and many other experiences in day to day life. We think to solve problems and we think for leisure. We think all day and every day. Sometimes we think a little too much.

We have all experienced over-thinking  at some point in our lives. It’s completely normal, but usually an uncomfortable experience. When our imagination decides to run wild we can sometimes lose track of that beautiful scenery that we were imagining and end up thinking about worst case scenarios. Everything can be over-thought about. Be it relationships with other people, cooking dinner for the night or what might happen at work tomorrow we can always get caught up over thinking the possibilities. So how do we overcome this?

Let’s do this together. We can start by not making assumptions. Don Miguel Ruiz wrote about this in his book “The Four Agreements”. When we draw assumptions we’re just putting ourselves into a situation that has not yet happened. Therefore, we have no clue how the outcome will be. We have no idea what is going to happen a year, month, day, hour, minute or even a second in the future. We have no clue how a person will react to what you say. So why should we bother spending our energy in making assumptions? Ask questions instead. Ask as many until you have the information you need. An educated guess is better than an uneducated one.

Let’s go back to the topic of putting ourselves into the future. This causes anxiety. We can very easily imagine future scenes and that can cause more harm than good. When we imagine ourselves in a certain situation we relive it. Just like people with PTSD we can actually feel the situation. If you tried hard enough to imagine a taste you will eventually taste it. Our body remembers experiences and if you puzzle a future experience together with knowledge of past situations then you will definitely feel that scenario mentally and physically. I’m not saying that we should not completely forget about the future. Planning ahead of time is a great thing to do, but to expect everything to go according to plan is unrealistic. Things can go any which way at any time. Resting your well-being on future events will only create anxiety.

Let’s just admit to ourselves that when it comes to future events, we know absolutely nothing. Not knowing something is fine. Let’s also just learn to accept that what happened in the past is done with. We can’t go back and change anything. So it seems like we only have one place left to go. The present. If we focus on the present we’ll be just fine.

Practicing being in the now is our all mighty tool to slay over-thinking. We can meditate or do yoga. For those of us who do not want to dedicate time to longer practices have no fear. When we feel like we’re thinking too much about a certain topic we can do simple exercises to get us back on track. Like everything, they take some practice, but we’ll get it eventually. Let’s just stop for a second and put everything down. Don’t close your eyes this time. Just take a deep breath in and look around. Where are you? What are you doing? What can you smell? Can you feel the wind on your skin? What about the surrounding sounds? What’s going on right here, right now? Answer all of these questions. If you can think of anymore questions relating to your environment then answer them too. Remind yourself of the present moment and just take it in. It may not work the first time, but we won’t give up easy. We can keep on practicing it and eventually we’ll stop using so much energy on things that don’t matter and start putting it into what really matters. What’s happening right now.

Insecure?

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Quirks and character qualities are things that everyone has. Some of them we are very comfortable with. We may be proud of certain bodily features we have. We may be very happy with how our personality is. With that comes security. We can be very secure with how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes though, we look at ourselves and judge. That’s where our insecurities come into the spotlight. Everyone at some point in their lives gets insecure. Be it that we are insecure about our bone structure or how people perceive us, we all experience some form of insecurity.

Insecurity is defined by the fact that we sometimes are just not confident in ourselves. We can get anxious about who we are and that is completely normal. Sometimes our head is just not in the game and we start second guessing ourselves. It happens to everyone so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we’ve come to realise that we’re feeling a little bit insecure.

So what can we do when we’re feeling insecure? We can start off by taking a look at the way we talk to ourselves. When we see ourselves in the mirror what do we say? I’m not going to give any attention to anything negative anyone might say to themselves. Instead I’m going to say that we should always be saying, “Wow, I look beautiful today!”. We need to keep telling ourselves that everyday because it’s true. We are all beautiful as cliché as it sounds. The only compliments in the world that matter are the ones that we give to ourselves. How can we compliment others if we can’t give ourselves a pat on the back every now and then?

What about our body language? How are we carrying ourselves? Body language seems over-looked today. Strike a power pose if you’re not feeling secure about yourself. Just a forced smile produces the same endorphins that cause us to feel happy, a power pose helps us feel more confident. So stand like superman and feel like him too! We don’t have to walk about like a superhero to feel confident though. Stand up straight and stick your chest out. Keep your shoulders behind your back and walk about knowing that we are all equal. We have to show ourselves respect if we intend to gain the respect of others. How can we respect a person that does not respect themselves? Having proper posture is not just healthy for our body, but also healthy for our mind. In various indian philosophies they talk about kundalini energy. The kundalini can’t travel properly from our root to our crown without proper posture.

We are all human beings living on the same planet. We are all the same, but also different. We are all beautiful people with good things to contribute to this world. When we focus on all of the good things we can bring to one another our insecurities dwindle.  If our insecurities come from what other people think of us then we remind ourselves that we need only to change for ourselves. We need to be able to live and be ourselves without the need for validation and acceptance from others. When we accept ourselves for who we are, faults and all, then we become truly secure with ourselves. We should not let that stop us though from working on our faults. We can always strive to be a better person today than we were yesterday and that leads to growth. With our own spiritual growth we can encourage others to grow. We can help others get over their insecurities, and more often than not, we help ourselves in the process. Let us speak positively to ourselves because we are worth it. We will always be good enough and when we’re not feeling good enough then we go back and remind ourselves why we are good enough. Meditate on the good. We don’t need to suffer by our own hand. So do me this favour. Take care of yourself unselfishly. Speak kindly to yourself. By doing that we can achieve the ultimate goal of loving one another and that is a world that sounds beautiful to me.

Insecure?

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Quirks and character qualities are things that everyone has. Some of them we are very comfortable with. We may be proud of certain bodily features we have. We may be very happy with how our personality is. With that comes security. We can be very secure with how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes though, we look at ourselves and judge. That’s where our insecurities come into the spotlight. Everyone at some point in their lives gets insecure. Be it that we are insecure about our bone structure or how people perceive us, we all experience some form of insecurity.

Insecurity is defined by the fact that we sometimes are just not confident in ourselves. We can get anxious about who we are and that is completely normal. Sometimes our head is just not in the game and we start second guessing ourselves. It happens to everyone so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we’ve come to realise that we’re feeling a little bit insecure.

So what can we do when we’re feeling insecure? We can start off by taking a look at the way we talk to ourselves. When we see ourselves in the mirror what do we say? I’m not going to give any attention to anything negative anyone might say to themselves. Instead I’m going to say that we should always be saying, “Wow, I look beautiful today!”. We need to keep telling ourselves that everyday because it’s true. We are all beautiful as cliché as it sounds. The only compliments in the world that matter are the ones that we give to ourselves. How can we compliment others if we can’t give ourselves a pat on the back every now and then?

What about our body language? How are we carrying ourselves? Body language seems over-looked today. Strike a power pose if you’re not feeling secure about yourself. Just a forced smile produces the same endorphins that cause us to feel happy, a power pose helps us feel more confident. So stand like superman and feel like him too! We don’t have to walk about like a superhero to feel confident though. Stand up straight and stick your chest out. Keep your shoulders behind your back and walk about knowing that we are all equal. We have to show ourselves respect if we intend to gain the respect of others. How can we respect a person that does not respect themselves? Having proper posture is not just healthy for our body, but also healthy for our mind. In various indian philosophies they talk about kundalini energy. The kundalini can’t travel properly from our root to our crown without proper posture.

We are all human beings living on the same planet. We are all the same, but also different. We are all beautiful people with good things to contribute to this world. When we focus on all of the good things we can bring to one another our insecurities dwindle.  If our insecurities come from what other people think of us then we remind ourselves that we need only to change for ourselves. We need to be able to live and be ourselves without the need for validation and acceptance from others. When we accept ourselves for who we are, faults and all, then we become truly secure with ourselves. We should not let that stop us though from working on our faults. We can always strive to be a better person today than we were yesterday and that leads to growth. With our own spiritual growth we can encourage others to grow. We can help others get over their insecurities, and more often than not, we help ourselves in the process. Let us speak positively to ourselves because we are worth it. We will always be good enough and when we’re not feeling good enough then we go back and remind ourselves why we are good enough. Meditate on the good. We don’t need to suffer by our own hand. So do me this favour. Take care of yourself unselfishly. Speak kindly to yourself. By doing that we can achieve the ultimate goal of loving one another and that is a world that sounds beautiful to me.

Resistance

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When we train- we usually work the muscle by adding some form of resistance to the movement of choice. Resistance can be added through weight, another person pressing down on a bar or rubber bands to name a few. Resistance training causes your muscle to grow bigger and stronger. Keep in mind that we need to rest and use the right amount of resistance so we don’t end up hurting ourselves. When we injure ourselves through resistance training we can be out of the gym for a long time.

Now what if we take that theory and apply it to our emotions. If we’re feeling happy or joyful-we don’t often resist that feeling. Rather, we enjoy it and let the emotion flow through us freely. However, when we feel down or sad, we sometimes try to fight off that feeling-telling ourselves that we should not feel this way. Now apply the theory. When we resist an emotion it only becomes stronger. We’re only causing the emotion to be more predominant in our minds. Why would we want “negative” emotions to take the spotlight in our conscious? Why are we giving it so much attention? What I’m saying is that when we’re feeling any emotion-we should just let it be. Especially when it’s on the bluer side of life.

There is nothing wrong with feeling down. There is nothing wrong with being angry. We can all use that energy to fulfil a good purpose. One of my favourite quotes is, “Being spiritual doesn’t mean you  are always positive. Fuck out of my face while I balance these energies”. Again, we can use the resistance theory. If we train our chest, but never train our back-we will definitely grow a bigger chest. Our chest will start pulling our shoulders forward because our back is too weak to keep them where they should be. We create an imbalance in our body that can cause all sorts of problems and can be hard to undo. If we never resist positive emotions and resist negative ones the latter will become stronger causing an imbalance that can be a nightmare to undo. If we look even deeper into the theory we can compare an injury to a mental breakdown. We put too much weight on the bar and end up hurting ourselves. When we put so much energy into resisting a negative emotion we can end up mentally hurting ourselves even causing breakdown.

So what can we do? We can start by listening to our mind. If we can hear what’s going on up there then we should just listen. Let’s notice our current state of mind. If we are feeling over-whelmed then we should lie down and let ourselves experience these feelings. Violence solves few problems so why put up a fight? Another favourite quote of mine is, “Don’t worry, it will pass”. Whatever we feel at any moment in time will pass, and a new emotion will come and take it’s place. 

How do I go about listening to myself and noticing my emotions? My personal routine is to chant a mantra with my eyes closed. I imagine my “safe zone” and focus on the mantra. As I do this I notice my thoughts and emotions, but give them no energy. My energy is going into focusing on the mantra. When I wake up I experience my current state of mind fully. If said state of mind is negative then I’m aware of that and am fully able to not let that have an effect on those who surround me, and most importantly, those that are close to me.

So do me a favour. We’ll do it together. Next time we’re feeling down or negative. Let’s embrace those emotions and allow ourselves to feel that way. Experience what it means to be an emotional being in full. It’s beautiful to experience all different types of emotions, and for that we can be grateful. We need to realise that we are only human and sometimes we’re just not feeling okay. Give each other understanding-we’ll be just fine.

Here’s what I listen too when I’m feeling negative. Like I said in my post about Music and Emotion-listening to a song that matches your emotion will help it pass.

Motivaiton

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What gets you up in the morning? What makes you flare up with the drive to go through your day? What flame burns within you that throttles your existence into full blast? What’s your motivation? Is it that freshly brewed pot of coffee? What about that magnificent breakfast that’s on the table? That new person that came into your life seemingly out of the blue or is it your beautiful children? Be it any of the above or something else we all have sources of motivation to be thankful for, and those of us who can’t seem to find any reason to move forward can still actively seek out motivation and role models.

The importance of being motivated is a topic that we should all look at. What is motivation? It’s when we are filled with desire to do things. Motivation is what keeps us moving forward. We’ve all seen motivational quotes via various sources. The newspapers, internet, magazines and what have you. They tend to be wise quotes that are meant to inspire and motivate us in to accomplishing our goals. The thing is though, we don’t need to solely think that our motivation can come from such sources. We can even find motivation within ourselves. Just the fact that I am healthy motivates me to get through my day and those who are worse set; their motivation can come from seeking better health. Everyone lacks motivation at some point, and that’s perfectly normal. As human beings it’s normal for us to have highs and lows and we can’t forget that. Sometimes we’re just so down that we can’t seem to find reason to accomplish anything. In most cases a lack of motivation causes this. That’s why this tool that we have, motivation, can drive us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. We need to actively seek motivation. Those who are motivated accomplish their goals and break barriers that have been holding them back.

So when we’re at a point where we’re lacking motivation and can’t seemingly find any reason to go out and do anything what should we do? How can we fix this? We can start by acknowledging our current mental state. How? As I always say, meditation. Listen to yourself. Go somewhere quiet and listen. Are you feeling like you have no energy to do anything and just want to loaf around all day? Sit down, close your eyes, and observe your thoughts. If you come to the conclusion that you’re lacking motivation then that should be motivation enough to go out and seek new forms of motivation.

Role models are a great form of motivation. Someone that you look up too. It doesn’t have to be someone famous. A role model can be your father, mother, friend, partner or just the man who performed a selfless act of kindness in front of you today.

Being tired of anything can give you drive to find motivation so you can make changes for the better. Realising that you have the power to change will motivate you. I had enough of being unhealthy and malnourished two years ago. When I finally realised that I had the power to change that I got motivated to do something about that. Today, I’m fit as a fiddle and due to those lifestyle changes I’ve created an endless source of motivation for self-betterment. You could say, getting healthy and moving fixed my lack of motivation for good.

We are all capable of finding and using motivation to be better than we were yesterday. I encourage you to seek motivation. You can accomplish your goals. You can find reason to start that project that you’ve been thinking about for the longest. The fact that you’re here experiencing life is the best starting point.

I believe in you all. Go out and keep doing beautiful things.

Follow your heart

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Modern society dictates that we should act a certain way. Dress appropriately. Don’t do that because someone might make fun of you. If you wear that outside of the house you’ll become a laughing-stock. Why would you cut your hair like that? I could go on for hours about the amount of questions I hear people ask each other; not to mention the ones I get myself. Why do we concern ourselves with how others perceive us? Why are we so afraid of doing what we want to do and being what we want to be?

Conformity is a big part of our human nature. If the majority does it- then we think it’s right and we should do exactly what they do. Basically, we play follow the leader daily. Now there’s nothing wrong with having a leader, but when it gets to a point where you’re doing something against your will. Well, that’s just plain unhealthy. The most important piece of advice floating around these days is to follow your heart. Trust me. Your heart will always have the right answer for you.

I always tried to find my own way of doing things and I still do to this day. Following procedures is something I do when what I’ve been doing is obviously just not going to work. I’ve always dressed the way I wanted to dress and lately I’ve been more colourful with my wardrobe; just to give an example. I find people wear a lot of neutral colours and I was there too. I never felt that neutral colours let me express myself properly, but it felt risky. “Will people make fun of this blue sweater with these red pants?”. So I asked my heart. It said that I should dress however I want to. Turns out, I really wanted to wear colourful clothes regardless of whether they clashed or not. People’s reaction? “Wow! That sweater is awesome man!”. So what am I getting at here? If you follow your heart then you will be absolutely fine. More often you will find that people will adore you for being yourself, and those that try to bring you down are actually complimenting you. “Why would you put on such bright colours!” or “It’s hilarious to see you with cornrows!” is those people actually adoring/looking up to you. Unfortunately, they don’t fully know how to express that so them saying things that we perceive as “negative” is the best way they can channel their adoration. Always remember though, the only validation that you will ever need during your existence is your own validation. You are capable of making your own decisions. You are capable of making yourself feel good. If you ever feel scared of doing something, ask your heart.

One of my best friends taught me how to ask my heart if something I wanted to do was right. Close your eyes. Ask the question three times. If you get a yes three times then you have your answer, but what if you don’t get a yes? Sometimes you get a no. What to do after a no is obvious. Sometimes, though, you get no answer from your heart. That’s happened to me a couple of times. What does this mean? Well, I’ve thought about it as an “ask me again later” situation. Even our hearts can be unsure and they need to be able to ponder on the question a little bit longer. You will eventually get your answer. This is how I choose to ask my heart for advice. We can all find our own way of asking our heart for advice.

Another friend taught me that I should meditate on my heart. Listen to it. Find out exactly where your heart is in your body and meditate on it. Chant your mantra. Go through your breathing exercises. Use your method of meditation and focus on your heart. It will make asking questions easier.

If you follow your heart then you will always be doing what’s right for you. Don’t let the mass media dictate how you have to be. Your heart is fully capable of helping you out in that area of life. If you choose to follow your heart, inner peace and happiness will come.

 

Kick back and Relax

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It’s Wednesday morning and here I am in Reykjavík. It’s raining outside. I like that. Many Icelanders tend to have a distorted view of rainy weather. A lot of them think that fog and rain make for terrible weather. I can give them the benefit of the doubt this time, but I find that rain and fog helps me relax better.

That’s what I’m going to be covering today. Two days ago, I pulled a muscle in my back. I was helping my father get rid of two sofas. I’d been working a lot lately and was starting to show signs of being overworked, but I insisted that I was big and strong and could move the sofas with little thought to how I was using my body. Boom, pulled muscle. I had no energy to talk because I was both overworked and in pain. I got better later in the day, but now I feel I need to share some knowledge with you all.

Don’t forget to rest. You need to sleep. You need to say no when you have too much going on. Your spiritual and physical health depend on rest. Unwinding after a long day at work. Calling in sick when you’re actually sick. Saying no to a project because you’ve already got four more extracurricular activities going on. Your health and well being should always be your first and utmost concern. Who said that our short existence had to be an uncomfortable one anyway?

Now say that you’re at a place in your life where sleep is  just sometimes hard to come by. You may work 12 hour shifts with a long commute home. You may have insomnia or for some other reason you just have a hard time sleeping. From personal experience I can guarantee you that the rest you long desire will come easily with mediation. Be it through mantras or simple breathing exercises. Whatever you find most comfortable. It will give you rest.

Here’s one that I enjoy. I sit down and take notice of my enviornment. I breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth for a few minutes. When I’m ready- I close my eyes on the exhalation. I notice all the sounds and sensations I feel. My body pressing into the surface I’m sat atop. Is there a gust of wind brushing across my skin. Then I proceed to look inward. I focus on my breathe for a few minutes before my mind runs wild. I sit back and watch as the thoughts scurry past like unguided sheep without their shepard. I come back to my breath and open my eyes when I’m ready. Give it a go.

I work a lot as I said earlier. A full-time job plus musicianship with lots of extracurricular activities fill my schedule from day to day. Sometimes I’m asked how do I have so much energy? I always give the same answer. I eat healthy, keep active and meditate daily. Once in the mornings and once during the night. 20 minutes each session and I’m ready to take on anything. After I added yoga into the mix I’ve managed to keep myself going strong for a long while, yet as of late I can feel I need to take a break.

An easy going yoga session can relieve so much tension both mentally and physically that you might actually end up sleeping where you placed your mat. We tend to save up stress and negative emotion into various body parts. When the body is relieved of its stress- the mind releases aswell. 10 minutes a day is enough.

Mental and physical exhaustion can creep up on the best of us. We need to take breaks every once and a while. We need to stop and breathe. Some people feel like that if they’re not doing anything then they are being useless. That is so far from the truth. I want to give you a challenge. When you have a day off- go meditate for a while. Do some yoga. Kick back and read a light book. Put minimum effort into whatever your doing and just take notice of your existence. Go through the day and just observe what’s going on around you. Then try to incorporate that into every day. Why should we make things more complicated than they need to be?

Take care of yourself. You’ll be thankful that you did in the long run.

Empathy

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Empathy. Everyone at a point in their lives has picked up on someone’s current emotion and felt said emotion. Being happy around an overly excited person. Feeling sad at a funeral. Feeling calm around a quiet person. We all manage to pick these emotions up from others every now and then. Some more intensely than others.

Sometimes we become uneasy because of that. We could be feeling great and then all of a sudden we pick up an emotion from someone else that changes our current mood. What happened? Why am I all of a sudden feeling very stressed out? Not knowing why our current mood/state of mind changed makes us very uncomfortable and that is what we need to fix. Realizing that we’re picking up emotions from others makes dealing with being overly empathetic much easier.

Empathy is important though. I’m not saying that you should try to get rid of your empathy. Why would we not want to pick up on how someone close to us is feeling? Being able to pick up on others emotions is a talent we should all be thankful to have. The most important factor is that we don’t let the emotion affect us. We know it’s there. Just notice the emotion and don’t give it anymore thought. Let’s not allow it overtake what we are currently feeling. Now that’s easier said than done, but with practice we can turn it into something positive.

A friend of yours is sad, but is hiding that from you. Over some time, if not instantly, you start to feel down. You realize that you have nothing to feel bummed out about so why are you in the gutter? Maybe you start to analyze why you might be sad and make something up about why you could be feeling down. We do this all the time. Maybe you read your friend’s body language and come to the conclusion that something’s wrong. You realize that you’re picking up your friend’s sadness. If you choose not to let it affect you then you will go about your activities as if nothing happened. It is up to us how we react to a situation like this, but we can now come at it from a more positive angle.

Here’s the thing though. You’ve just realized that your friend is sad and is choosing to not talk about it. If he slips up at what he’s doing or makes a mistake; all of a sudden it’s much easier to forgive him because you know his current state of mind is not functioning at it’s best. You may ask him if he’s not feeling well. He might respond with a lie, “Everything is fine, why do you ask?” and you could answer, “I’m just picking up a weird vibe is all” and go on with your day. If your gut tells you that you’re picking up a weird vibe from someone, trust it. We are hardwired to pickup on vibes from others. It’s our intuition that tells us that something is off. Emapthy and intuition go hand in hand and if you’re sensitive to the energy other people are giving off, but don’t realize it, then trust your intuition.

Somewhere along the way we will definitely forget that we are picking up other’s emotions and that’s okay. We aren’t as in touch with our own emotions or capabilities as we once were. That’s why we need to reconnect with ourselves via means of meditation, yoga and general spiritualism to ensure inner peace and happiness. Just imagine if everyone was incredibly empathetic. Let’s say that instead of stress- the main emotion is overall happiness and inner peace. Imagine how great of a world that is. Everyone picking up on such positive emotions. Then here comes the stranger. Sadness, stress, anger, feelings that we generally describe as negative. All of the empaths pick up on this and realize that someone has fallen out of balance. They do their best to assist the stranger back on his path. Not a lot of time goes by before the stranger is back on the horse riding happily.

That seems like a beautiful existence to me.

Vulnerablility – Dropping our front

Dropping our front for a while is such a hard endeavour that most of us end up holding on to it for too long and becoming exhausted on the way. Being genuine and letting yourself be vulnerable are important parts of your spiritual maturity and finding your inner peace.

We tend to try and hide things that we’re embarrased about and try to portray ourselves to society in the most glamorous way possible, yet somehow that real inner core personality and person only seems to show up when we feel either stressed to the bone or if we’re overburdened with emotion on our shoulders. Sometimes we become comfortable enough with certain people and drop our front. Being around said people is a blessing and I’m thankful for that. Those that you show your true self to and stick around are the people who will, more often than not, be in your life forever.
That’s one of the reasons why we need to let ourselves be vulnerable. Making true connections with people. Modern society is becoming more anti-social via means of electronic communication. People are hooked on getting notifications and when we’re confronted with real-life situations we seem to panic, close ourselves off and put up our emotional barrier. Our ego says no to confrontation and now, more than ever, we let it have its way. Which means that out mental maturity becomes stagnant.
Look, no one likes to get hurt. Be it through disagreement, rejection or the fear of making a mistake. If we don’t let ourselves be vulnerable, we will never move forward or make a genuine connection with the people that surround us.
You don’t have to be an emotional wreck when you show vulnerability. You will most likely be uncomfortable at first (see my blog about how important that is), but as you progress you will start to notice how this newfound vulnerability humbles you. You will start to be truthful about how you really feel and your reactions to difficult situations will be mostly positive. Friendships will last, relationships strengthen and your general mental health will improve. I read somewhere that it takes a lot more brain power/energy to lie rather than just telling the truth. Even when we lie- we always have a tell. So why protect our ego with a lie when we can nurture our soul with truth?
Drop the front. We’re not fooling anybody. Let your guard down to see if you actually need it. If you are hard like stone, nothing will get through to you. Soften your heart. If it’s hard, no one and nothing will get through to you and that, in all honesty, seems like a dull and grey existence.

I dropped my front a long time ago. It was just much easier to be my 100% self all the time. Although I never let myself get vulnerable until around a year ago. I decided to stop trying to defend myself so much. I would never admit mistakes (still working on that) and I would take things so personally and lock myself off from the posibility of a challenge. Said challenge was new ideas, expressing myself truly and letting my emotions pass through without obstacle. Leaving myself open for attack helped me grow into the person I am today. That saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. I think I can agree to that. So here’s to being vulnerable. I had a 1000 yard stare the other day. I think I was most vulnerable at that moment in time, so here have a picture.

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Today, I can say I’m thankful for that. I hope you all find the strength to leave yourself wide open. I can say from personal experience that the payoff is so worth it.

Listen to your body

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No don’t get your headphones. Yes I’m aware that Christina Aguilera released a song called “Your Body” in 2012, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about listening to your body when it tells you not to lift that weight because your nervous system can’t take more beatings. I’m talking about calling in sick when you feel like this cold could turn into something worse if you don’t rest right now. Our body speaks to us almost constantly and we should value what it has to say because in some cases it could even save our lives.

Since I was 18 I tried to lift weights as my form of exercise. I would be on and off at the gym from 18 until around 21. I would go in with some sort of program to follow and I felt that I had to follow said program to the letter. If I had to benchpress 50 kilograms 12 times, but I could only manage 10 with good form- I would force out 2 more reps with terrible form putting immense stress on my tendons and nervous system. My body was telling me to put the weight down by the 10th rep, but I didn’t listen. I’m sure some of the people that are reading this are probably thinking “You need to push your limits to get stronger!”. This is true, but there’s such a thing as going over the threshold. More often than not we crash and burn and this is a terrible way of getting stronger.

Back to the story. I am now 23 years old and it’s been 2 years since I started lifting weights again. What’s different about this time around though? I make my own programs. I research different exercises and see if my body approves of them or not. I have a set rep range that I only follow if my body is ok with that. I go into the gym and only do the exercises I enjoy and I stay only as long as I want to. I trust that my body will tell me when it’s had enough. I’ve managed to stick going to the gym 3-5 times a day for 2 years and have no intention of stopping just by letting my body decide what it can handle and I’m in the best shape of my life.

Giving our body free reign is something we can do, but we need to learn how to interpret what it’s telling us. Say you’re starving. How much water have you drank today? Are you sure that you want something to eat or are you just thirsty? Dehydration can cause us to think we’re hungry, try a glass of water. Are you craving a double hamburger with extra fries and a large soda? Your body is telling you that you need a lot of carbs and fats right now. Fortunately there are better ways of getting them than gulping down a bunch of processed food with unhealthy fats and sugars. Keep that in mind the next time you’re craving sugar. Try some dates or cashews instead. You’ll notice that your sugar cravings will dissipate almost immediately.

Our body can even tell us when we need various minerals. Feeling pain or stiffness in your joints? You might be craving a banana right then and there. Bananas have potassium in them. Feeling jittery and stressed? Chill on the coffee because your body wants some magnesium.

If we look back on exercise, there are so many more ways our body tells us what we should and should not do. When I started practicing yoga, there was a pose called King Pidgeon with forward fold. I tried to do the pose exactly the same way that the yoga teacher did it. To say the least, it was very painful for my knee. I decided to look at how the beginners were doing it and modified the stretch so I could do it without experiencing joint pain. My body was telling me, “It don’t bend that way man”. Today, I’m getting closer to being able to accomplish said pose the way the yoga teacher does. I’m proud to say I’ve never had a sports related injury. No back problems, no joint pain, no digestive problems or any bodily problems of the sort. All because I decided to listen to what my body was whining about when I was doing something it didn’t approve of.

How you listen to your body is all of a matter of stopping for a moment. Obviously this is something we have to learn all over again. If you would ask me for the best way I’d say doing yoga and mediating are the best ways of learning to listen to your body. Bringing your awareness inward will help you scan for all sorts of problems you didn’t know you had and lead you onward to better general health.

Take care of yourself. You’re only here for a short while so why not make the best of it?