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What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What To Do Anymore?…and a journal prompt

worryWhat do you do when you don’t know what yo do? You do what you know to do.

I know that sounds like a terrible thing to advise. I’ve been there. I’ve been so frustrated with mental health issues, with just life in general that I’ve felt overwhelmed and ready to scream and ready to just sit in the mud and crty. I’ve been there lots in my life.

Cause, let’s face it. Mine is never going to be an easy row to hoe. My row is always the one with rocks and lots of twisted tree roots. My row is always going to be the one no one else wants to hoe.

This I know. I have been on this planet for quite a bit and as many times as I’ve wanted to quit, I never have and I’m

still here. I get through it all. The fun stuff, the tough stuff and the seemingly impossible.

Frankly, this is my super power. I am a whiz at handling the biggest, hardest situations. When my dad was dying my sister and are were Wonder Women. My dad would throw tantrums and lie to doctors and nurses and my sister and I handled it. There were points where it felt never ending, but we kept at it.

Last week I just got tired of this being my super power. So, so often I’ve wondered why can’t the good things just fall in my lap, like it seems to for other people. I know, it doesn’t really. It just looks like that.

But still, WHY

. Why can’t I just be perfectly content to do some quiet job, where I just get told what to do and I get a paycheck every two weeks? Or just a paycheck? A regular paycheck sounds good. Sometimes it sounds really, really good.

I know. This has what’s been set in front of me. I know, this is what I was born to do. I come from a family of healers and it’s almost like I didn’t have a choice. We are doctors and nurses and I’m not a fan of body fluids, so I heal body/mind/spirit from the outside. It makes perfect sense to me why I’m here, I just don’t always like it.

I realize how lucky I am. I have a purpose. I feel inspired by my work. I’m never just waiting for five o’clock. Most days I’m excited to get up and get to it. I’m excited about what I’m doing and the direction I’m moving A Yogi Kitchen.

Last week I got sick and tired. There’s been so much going on. Grieving. Ended old stuck relationship. Started new relationship. Buying a house. And the millions of tiny things that are affected by all of that.  Re-establishing boundaries with my son. Since I’ve been traveling and splitting my time , parenting has shifted. I’ll still split my time, but lots more hands on

parenting since he’ll be at My house now.

So what do you do when everything seems huge and you’re struggling with the stress and in my case, the anxiety and PTSD?

You do what you know to do. I know, it’s frustrating that there’s not some bright and shiny new answer. We all want to take that magic pill.

There’s no magic pill.

What do you know

to do? I know that I need to eat for my brain and for my blood sugar. I have to get out of the idea that I need to eat for my tongue. I definitely want to enjoy my food, but when I’m moving from craving to craving AND my life is feeling overwhelming, I’m probably not listening to my body. When the noise and distractions are big

WHEN i’m feeling connected and clear, body/mind/spirit, I can listen to my cravings When I’m connected, my body is telling me what it needs, and I can listen.

What do I know to do? I listen to my NP, cause she’s awesome. If you don’t have a medical professional that you love and can really talk to, Get One. I can’t tell you how many times I hear clients talk about their medical struggles, cause they’re trying to figure it out alone. People have dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars and a good portion of their time to healing, whether it’s practicing medicine or some other way. You can not Google your symptoms a

nd figure out what you should do. There are too many factors, too much inexperience. Whether it’s a naturopath, a NP, PA, MD or DO or even your yoga therapist, find someone you can relate to and you feel heard by and use their expensive brain to help you manage your health. Even if you’re a health care professional you can’t do it alone. We all need a health advocate.

That was the best thing I did. Nicole, my NP figured out some stuff for me, and while I’m not someone who ever thought she’d be on estrogen, I am a different woman today. Estrogen has made a world of difference.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in cars, trains and planes. I’m not getting enough movement in. This week, I taught Hips and Hearts in Lawrence, so I prepped by getting on the mat. I’m teaching the second part of the two part series this coming Sunday. So, not only am I getting a bit . more active, I’m, getting on the mat.

For now, those are the things that I know to do that are keeping me a little more grounded

, a little more calm and focused. Oh! And there’s the work I do. The blogging, the posting and  check-ins for BreatheTogether at the new community, the BreatheOnline that starts Sunday, prepping for Hips and Hearts and the private clients that I work with. The more I teach and coach, the more I learn and stay grounded in mindfully managing my mental health.

Journal Prompt

Journal Prompt

What do you know to do when emotion gets big, stress gets high and the overwhelm threatens?

 

 

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I Am So Tired of Struggling

Happy Wednesday!

Over at breatheTogether in the new community iWednesday!t’s time for the mid-week checks-in. How are you doing? What are you feeling about your week? What do you need to make the week end well?

My week got hijacked by PTSD. I’m struggling. It’s not pretty. I am easily triggered. I’m feeling antsy and weepy. Yesterday, I got myself in trouble. I had a very public meltdown and the police were involved. I’m fine and the police were very understanding, kind and protective of me, but it’s embarrassing. No one likes to have their mental health issues out front and center.

While I can stop a panic attack at home. I haven’t figured out how to do it in public. And to be honest, until my dad diedMostly, it felt like everything was moving too fast to be able to utilize the skills and tools I know to use. I did eventually end up in child’s pose with a soft blanket under me for comfort and another on top f me to shut out the rest of the world. Getting into a tight fetal position with pressure on the front of my body helps activate my parasympathetic nervous system, helping me access relax and repose.

Frankly, this has been a roller coaster for about ten months and I’m so tired of it. Panic attacks and high anxiety are not new to me. I’ve gone through other rough patches in my life where they’ve gotten big. The hardest thing about managing my mental health is that I always know I’ll be back to this painful place of rawness and struggle.

SO, what do i need to do today to make the rest of the week better? I’m working to make changes that will help not only the week, but pull me off the roller coaster.

I’m teaching Saturday. I’m excited because while hips and hearts can be big work, I’m really ready to do some big healing myself. So both Thursday and Friday I need to be on the mat a  lot, practicing the order I want to teach those openers, strengtheners and stabilizers.

I hope some of you are going to join me.

Thank you all for holding space for my pain and my struggle. My Reiki teacher says, Reiki In, Reiki Out.. The more I teach, the more I learn. By teaching yoga, dbt and mindfulness, leading efforts towards healing and talking about my struggles to manage my mental health with you, I learn so much about how to heal and manage better. I so appreciate all of you!

What’s your Wednesday Check-In? How’s it going?

HipsandHearts

BREATHE, a privilege that we take for granted

One of the core concepts of my work has always been Breathe. Breath so central to yoga. While we don’t practice breath work in most Western yoga classes, breath work, or pranayama, is as important as asana, the poses. It is central to a yoga practice and I don’t mean just learning to link your breath to movement. Taking time as part of your practice to sit and breathe is central to a yoga practice. It energizes, calms, soothes, opens and enhances every other part of your practice.

Set up for restorative yoga at Breathe Holistic Life Center, 2012

It is so central to who I am as a yogi and what I believe as a teacher, that when I had a brick and mortar space, I named it Breathe Holistic Life Center.

But breathe means something more to me than the mindful work that we do. As someone with anxiety and what anyone with anxiety, depression and/or PTSD will tell you is that sometimes,  it just feels like you can’t breathe.

Sometimes we mean that literally. We mean the breath feels hard to take OR that we can’t take a deep  enough breath. It feels like we’re panting, even though those around us see nothing strange.

Sometimes we just mean that we need a second. Regardless of how many hours we sit on the couch or how many massages we get, it just doesn’t feel like we get a chance to breathe. It feels like we’re always running. It feels like we’re always playing catch-up.

And while it shouldn’t feel like a privilege, it kinda is,  right? The moment to just be AND have it feel restful, restorative and rejuvenating is tough for most of us. Whether you have anxiety or another mental health issue, or no mental health issue at all, it feels like no one has enough time or enough energy. Taking a moment to breathe is a privilege these days.

A few years ago, I developed an online course to help people manage their anxiety and depression, using tools and skills that I’ve put together after a lifetime of PTSD and anxiety. Literally, a lifetime.

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I’m a woman with anxiety. I’m a woman who learned years ago that getting on the mat can keep my worry, panic and edginess in check. I’m a yoga teacher who learned how brain chemistry can shift with pranayama, asana and meditation. I’m a  yoga therapist who learned which dialectical behavior skills can stop a panic attack and which mindfulness tools can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

I taught this course for a few years at Breathe Holistic Life Center, mostly as a yoga workshop. It was pretty much just yoga (meaning meditation, poses and breath work). . i taught it around town and then I had the fantastic experience of taking dialectical behavior therapy and my anxiety management grew like crazy and my therapist suggested that I teach these mindfulness skills in my Yoga for Anxiety and Depression workshop.

I think actually she said to me, “Why aren’t you teaching this? This is who you are!” My immediate answer was, “Cause I’m not a therapist?”

And she explained to me that Marsha Linehan, Ph.D, who developed dbt, wants it out there. She wants people using the tools. She wants to help people heal. She doesn’t care if there are book groups, yoga classes, study groups, whatever. As long as you’re not pretending to be a certified dialectical behavior therapist, she encourages you to teach and share.

SO, BreatheOnline was born. I felt strongly about the  title. I wanted to create something to give us all the feeling that we can actually pause. That we can breathe!

Since beginning to teach it online and continuing to teach Yoga for Anxiety and Depression in yoga studios there have been many iterations and even an addition of BreatheEcourse, which is a free seven day ecourse to give you a little taste. I teach you some skills in small bites. It’s all designed to help you manage better and it changes every time, so you can take it more than once and learn so much.

The last time I taught it, I put it on the new platform and you can go there Right Now and get the whole seven days! You can invite your friends and family to join us. If you like it, you can join the more in-depth BreatheOnline, which starts June 30th.

In BreatheOnline we slow way down and take our time on the skills. You get emails and videos in your inbox and can be in the community to share your observations and hear more about my experience, strength and hope.

i guess, the entire journey has been about my need to just have a moment. I just needed a moment to be able to Breathe! Then, when I figured out how to do that, I just wanted to share it!

Join me!

 

 

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My Office May 10th

i woke up at 3am because I wasn’t packed. I had a surprise out of town visitor for a few days, which was lovely, but threw my schedule off. Then I took a Lyft, two planes and a drive to get to Lawrence, KS. Got to the house and there were people working, so I kept driving and arrived here, 715, my favorite Lawrence treat. The smoked trout crostini is my all time favorite dish.

Waiting for a college friend to join me and then I get to see the boy after school. A whole week of single parenting, which means just mother/son time!!

So, this is my office today. I’ve gotten away from posting these. The last few months have been an upheaval with lots of change and shifts. As always, it’s never a finished product. It’s always a wonder to see where the dots connect. I think My Office Today Series should come back.

I’m behind. That feels like always, so perhaps, as my friend Sheila Pai has tried to teach me, I’m right where I belong.

Thanks for being patient with me and always checking-in. There is so much going on. I don’t usually do this in the blog, but I feel compelled to catch you up on all the upcoming events.

Tomorrow we practice together in Lawrence, KS! So looking forward to this. As you may have noticed, I don’t think like most people. It’s taken me a long time to see this as my gift, my super power. Ni surprise that this shows up in my work and I don’t teach like most people. My students ask where they can find someone who teaches like me and I don’t have an answer for them. So excited to teach a regular old yoga class, like I used to in Lawrence. MelissaYoga is at OmTree Shala, 12:30-2p. There is still room to join us!

Sunday, we begin to mindfully manage mental health in new ways with BreatheEcourse, a Free 7 day class full of yoga poses, nutrition, breath work, journal prompts to help you put together a plan that works just for you.

Tuesday, May 15th, we start Love Yourself Challenge that goes through June 15th. It’s a whole month of journal prompts, breath work and yoga poses to help you balance your heart chakra, love yourself more and better and put self-care in the forefront where it belongs. It’s Free and in addition to the daily emails, it’s a community for support, sharing and connection.

Finally, June 10th we’re starting another session if BreathOnline. This is the online version of Yoga for Anxiety and Depression and the longer, more in depth version of BreatheEcourse. It’s a huge deal at $180 for six weeks of tips, tools, community and connection to help you find some ease and manage times of high emotion. Learn yoga poses, dialectical behavior therapy skills, journaling, nutrition, mindfulness and breath work to help soothe your nervous system, quiet and clear your brain and manage some of the sometimes debilitating symptoms; insomnia, muscle aches and pains, nausea, headaches just to name a few.

Wow! That’s a lot, but I’m super excited. After my dad’s death it’s taken me awhile to get back in the swing of things. I am finally feeling like I can put in full days of work. I feel inspired and motivated for us to dig deep together and do some really big healing.

2018 has become a year for making big changes. I so hope you’ll join me!

You can join BreatheEcourse and Love Yourself Challenge by dropping me an email, mel@ayogikitchen.com and join BreatheOnline by heading over to http://ayogikitchen to the Breathe page and making a payment, which secures your spot and gets you the first email.

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The Top Way I Stop a Panic Attack

This post is an email from the October session of the free BreatheEcourse; mindfulness to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD. Enjoy! 
4 Day BreatheLet’s work on DBT!. But first a quick word about journaling.

If you’re struggling with the journaling, as I know some of you do, set a timer. Set the alarm on your phone. Write just for ten minutes. I know that sometimes we pressure ourselves to  write down every single thought and then it feels like we started an avalanche.

There are no rules to journaling. You don’t have to capture every thought or every moment of your day. You write what and how much you want.

It’s like being on the mat. You’re in the moment and you notice what you notice. We don’t have time for every pose during a session and that’s okay. We don’t even get in every pose we know and usually we don’t get to practice a pose for as long as we’d like. So just write and don’t get overwhelmed by thinking it has to be a certain way.

Okay, so we’re just going to talk about my favorite dialectical behavior skill. It falls under TIP.

Temperature change
Intense Exercise
Progressive relaxation

I know you think we’re going to talk progressive relaxation. Nope! My favorite TIP skill is temperature change. It works like a charm for me. Before DBT no one ever told me that I could stop panic attacks. i was just supposed to get better at enduring them.

Yuck!

Remember, our goal is to move into Wise Mind. (Wise Mind is when we’re not engaging in black or white thinking, but settling into the place in the middle; the plaid place) When emotions are feeling big, we want to run towards Wise Mind.

Let’s take two people. Let’s pretend they’re in a relationship and they’ve had a huge fight. And they happen to be complete opposites. One is very analytical and fact-based and the other is very creative and feelings-based.  The person who swings towards Emotion Mind is crying and feeling sick and feeling like everything is over and is completely in their feelings. This person my seem hysterical and beyond talking to. The person who tends to Reasonable Mind is having trouble accessing their emotions, is gathering facts and weighing pros and cons to decide the next step. This person may seem like they’re not engaging cause they’re already analyzing the facts and already thinking about the next step.

So it’s January and one person goes for a walk in the cold and the other hops in the shower. A cold shower. This blast of cold shifts both their brains’ chemistry and soothes their nervous systems. Individually, they move towards Wise Mind.

termperature changeThe Emotion Mind person is able to quiet the big feelings, be not quite so much in the high emotion of the body, but into what is really true for the body, move a bit into the head and gather some facts, moving more towards that middle ground. They realizes that despite this being hard and feelings being hurt their partner is generally kind and loving and they have survived fights before and this will pass.

The Reasonable Mind person is able to get out of the head so much and move into the body/heart. They feel the hurt and pain of fighting with their love and can say, I really don’t like this feeling. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Because they were each able to move into Wise Mind, they were able to come to a place where they could value each other and the relationship and maybe even take some steps to ensure this fight doesn’t repeat itself.

Now, I just like that outcome. It didn’t have to be that way. They could have moved into Wise Mind and the Emotion Mind could have gathered facts and decided that these fights are happening way too often and this isn’t the kind of relationship they want. Reasonable Mind could have got into their emotions and decided that it hurts too much to fight like this and it’s not worth it.

Both are valid outcomes because they came from Wise Mind. The opposite might be that Emotion Mind, crying and screaming ran out of the house and called all the friends that were going to say that their  partner is a louse and doesn’t deserve them. The Reasonable Mind might have started a pros and cons list, leaving out emotions and decided that the best thing is to break up. In a few days when they moved more towards the middle ground they might both regret their decision. Some regrets can be fixed. Some can’t.

I’m a huge fan of Temperature Change. Years ago, before I took DBT I was in the beginning stages of a panic attack. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was sweating, my heart was pounding, I was nauseated. I got afraid, which is the worst thing you can do for a panic attack. If you start to fear it coming on, you just make it grow. So I was snowballing fast.

I was with my ex, who grabbed the biggest bowl in my cabinet, fill ed it with ice and water and told me to plunge my face. I really don’t like super cold, so I resisted. He was adamant. I did it once, came up gasping and he made me do it again. I did it again and when I came up it was like someone had covered me with a heated blanket. I felt this warm calm. My breathing had slowed down. My heart stopped pounding. I wasn’t sweating anymore. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe that a panic attack stopped completely. It sold me on DBT. I signed up a few months later.

I highly recommend DBT to anyone who’ll listen. It honestly changed my life.

I love what I teach and believe in it, but the DBT program is amazing. If you’re interested in learning more DBT skills from a yoga teacher consider signing up for BreatheOnline, which starts January 21st.  If you like the group therapy vibe, check out your local mental health facility. Occasionally some therapists teach it one-on-one, but Marsha Linehan says if you’re not getting it from a team of therapists, it’s not DBT.

2018BreatheOnlineWhat can you do to shift your brain chemistry? Try a few things. Change your Temperature. Run around the block as fast as you can for some Intense Exercise, especially great for anger emotions. Go to YouTube for some Progressive relaxation recordings. Keep a list of the tools that work the best for you.

Post that list somewhere you will see it over and over again. The fridge, the medicine cabinet, on your dashboard.

Happy Managing!

Contact me to sign up for the Free BreatheEcourse. Drop me an email. Or, if you’re ready for deeper work and an opportunity to practice the skills and tools while getting support, community and connection, join me for BreatheOnline!

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What If You Planned For The Unexpected?

Wednesday!I’m in the middle of teaching BreatheEcourse, the free seven day course to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD with mindfulness skills and tools. In a little over a week, I start teaching BreatheOnline, the six week version I developed from Yoga for Anxiety and Depression to do the same, but slower and with more depth and opportunities to practice the skills and tools.

So, I’m thinking a lot, everyday, about managing stress, mental health, life.

Over at BreatheOnline, we check-in on Wednesdays to pause and take an assessment of the week.

How’s your week going so far? You probably had an idea on Sunday or Monday of what the week would look like. Take a minute to pause, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. How does the reality of the week measure up to the intentions set at the beginning of the week?  Are you feeling worried about getting everything done this week? Are you feeling like you’re on track to have a successful week?

This is the day that you can pivot, shift or keep on keeping on.  This is the moment to set intention again. Wednesdays get a bad rap, but they the perfect day to reset, to begin again, to redirect.

Life happens and things are out of our control. People get sick, there are snowstorms, cars break down. We anxiety, depression and PTSD people can let that derail us. Rather than be surprised by the unexpected or stressed or upset that we can’t control life, what if you planned for the unexpected?

What if on a daily basis you left blank places in your calendar as cushions for the unexpected? So when your kid calls during a meeting to tell you that she forgot her cello, you actually have space to shift things around and help her out. What if daily you said to yourself, I need to prepare for the unexpected and you meditated and drank an extra glass of water? What would preparing for the unexpected look like for you?

Join us January 21st for BreatheOnline. Get six weeks of practicing mindfulness tools and skills as well as connection and community! At the end of six weeks you have a plan to help you manage stress, mental health, life. Get a free one-on-one session with me to help you create that plan and receive custom yoga poses and breath work to ensure your success!. 

 

 

 

 

The Unexpected Gifts

I’m in Chicago with my family. The last few visits have felt really good on lots of levels. It feels good to be able to show-up and be here for my family and not push this away.
 
Dad Oxygen

My dad getting oxygen during PT. For the first time he let me help him in my capacity as a yoga therapist. Together the three of us helped him with his physical therapy.

The pictures are of my dad, who is dying. I’m here for a week to spend time with him, to help my sister with some of the work, to be present with what is.

 
Yesterday, I helped him reschedule a surgery, cleaned out his fridge, straightened his room (which he won’t let anyone do, but I didn’t ask permission), helped with his PT, met with his social worker and ironed out our understanding of his benefits, made friends with his nurses, whom he has done everything to piss off, and just sat with him.
 
A difficult person throughout his life, it’s not surprising that he has alienated most of the staff at his care facility. He has been labeled a difficult patient. They told me yesterday that they hate having to go to his room. I told them I totally understood, which I do, but it also breaks my heart.
His facility is top-notch, though,  and despite hating it, they do administer to his needs and maybe even in some little way care for him.
 
So my job today is to just sit with him, to make him feel a little less alone in his last months here. And believe me, the person who is benefitting the most is me. To be able to walk my dad to the end is a gift. To be able to be gracious and accommodating to his tirades and pain and discomfort and fear is an honor. 
It is not an honor bestowed by him. It is an honor I bestow upon myself. I am someone who does not want to push away life. I want all the feelings, all the experiences, all the emotions. I want the difficult, the ugly and the bad. Not only because they make the glories and the celebrations so much brighter and sweeter, but because I want the entirety of life. I do not want to look back and regret or wish.
While I am honored by this gift, this privilege, I realize that not everyone gets this. Loved

PT Dad

The man who once weighed 250 pounds and was almost 6 feet tall, seems tiny, weak and frail. 

ones drop dead instantly or are killed in accidents. Not everyone gets the softer, more vulnerable side of their parent. While his comes with bouts of anger, irritability and plain bitchiness, his vulnerability and softness is still a side I don’t know. In our 48-year relationship I am learning new things about him, experiencing him in a different way. That is a gift.

I also am privileged in a way that my sister is not, in a few days, I will fly back to New York. I get that.
 
It is a wonder to me that my rage and hostility towards this man does not fill the hospital room. Somehow, though, I’m able to be present with what is and feel some peace with him. We can sit quietly and watch television. We do not talk about sexual assault or harassment, the president, Roy Moore, Russia or net neutrality. We sit and watch black and white movies and football. We don’t talk that much. Sometimes he tells me about his friends that I haven’t seen since I was a child. I work on my computer. It’s peaceful.
 
Tomorrow, he has surgery and at his age, with his heart, that’s always risky. So, today I’m going to sit with him and then when he gets transferred to the hospital, go with him. THEN, at the end of the day I’m going to have drinks with childhood friends, people that despite not seeing me all that often, know, love and support me. Oh! and people who’ve gone through this too, so they get it.
 
Today, the toolbox is wide open and there are tools scattered on the floor. I am coloring outside the lines to manage my own anxiety and PTSD and stay compassionate and open to him. Despite the difficult history and the past behaviors, this is not about me. My job is to hold space and to bear witness. I will have time to process, but this moment is about allowing myself the freedom to feel love and peace towards someone who may not deserve it. This is my strength and my growth, which will ripple for years to come.