Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sleeping our way to the top ~


It seems that sleep is a rare commodity for many ~ most of us are sleep deprived, myself included. Though I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, I don’t stay asleep for long. I wake several times a night. The reasons are always different, whether it is the train that goes by at all hours during the night and early morning, or the fights I have with the covers on my bed, or the one too many cups of tea that I have in the evening, it doesn’t matter the cause, the symptom is always the same. Not enough sleep.

Now, for some strange reason, for many of us in this society, we don’t like to admit to sleeping. We boast about our sleepless nights and how little sleep we need to survive on. Or the fact that we were up at 4:00 am working on our latest blog, or having closed the deal with clients on the east coast before most of us here in the west have even had our first cup of coffee. We wear this lack of sleep like a badge of honor. Like we are some kind of superhero.

It's as if we fear that by admitting to, or actually sleeping an 8 hour night, we might appear weak or unproductive. You know, the phone rings, it wakes you.  You answer with an obviously sleepy Brenda Vaccaro kind of  “Hello?” The person on the other end, “Oh I’m sorry, did I wake you?” And for some reason, even if we are in a dead sleep, we say “Oh no, I’m awake, I’ve been up for a while.” It’s like there is something embarrassing about being asleep.  We don’t want anyone to think that we either went to bed too early or that we are sleeping in too late.  A dead giveaway of a slacker, and heaven forbid we don’t want anyone to think of us as a slacker.

Why do we confuse and sometimes associate sleep with laziness?  I know highly successful people who take daily naps, power naps, as they are sometimes called.  There are cultures that take an entire 3 hour “lunch” break during the work week to catch up on perhaps, a nap or quick snooze.  It seems that if we want to be successful in whatever we do in life, we need to get our share of sleep. Sleep is what keeps us focused, fit and fueled.



There are so many health benefits to getting adequate sleep. It is when we sleep that our bodies heal and repair themselves. Sleep can help to keep our heart healthy, reduce stress, improve our memory and help to control our body weight.  So now that we know that, why don't we all just try to get a little more sleep.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nncY-MA1Iu8

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Every time I watch the fruit turn rotten ~

A few years ago I was watching Deepak Chopra being interviewed on TV and he was asked, "What is the one thing you would recommend to people that could improve their health and overall well being?” His response was, "meditate." He didn't say quit smoking, quit drinking or quit overeating, though as obvious as that advice would've been, I still expected something along those lines.  So it actually came as a surprise when the number one piece of advice above all else that he gave was to meditate.  Even if only 5 minutes a day.  Now I believe that we all have five minutes, somewhere in our day.  I usually take at least 15 or so just to stare off at nothing first thing in the morning, death grip on my coffee cup, as if my life depended on it, and some mornings, it probably does.

But then the next morning as I was scurrying around the living room getting ready for work with Good Morning America on in the background, I saw Ted Williams, the homeless man with the "golden voice” turned overnight celebrity, being interviewed.  I really didn't catch that much except to notice how cleaned up he looked from the photo they had plastered of him days before all over the Internet.  Shaking my cynical head, figuring if he didn't get the book deal he would at least qualify to be one of the next "celebrities" chosen to be on Dancing with the Stars.  Yes, right there along side Bristol Palin and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino. Only in America, as they say.  But a positive thought also came to my mind, which was, "amazing - I'm happy for him.  What a difference a day makes." I heard him talking with his radio voice about his drug and alcohol addictions and then he said something that caught my attention. He made some mention of being told at one time to "meditate before medicate" -

That stopped me in my tracks. Especially since I had been suffering with a two-day migraine and I believe a pinched nerve in my lower back.  I meditated daily from the beginning of my Feng Shui training in the late 1990’s until a few years ago, when for some unknown reason, I started slacking.  To hear about meditating twice within a 12-hour period, and especially from an unsuspecting source, was sign enough for me.  More like a loud shout from above in surround sound to get back on the program.  

The benefits of meditation have been researched, studied and touted by many and just like everything else that is good for me, I tend to jump on the bandwagon for a short while and then secretly jump off when I think no one is looking.  Hence, the treasure chest of vitamins in my cabinet, the bottle of Bragg's unfiltered apple cider vinegar that I vow to drink each morning, the walks I intend to take daily, the green botanical print yoga mat shoved in the far end of the closet, and the crisper full of brightly colored vegetables full of vitamins A, C and K, that always seem to collapse and wilt before I get a chance to eat them.  And just like one of the lyrics in a song by Dan Fogelberg, "every time I watch the fruit turn rotten, I tell myself I'll try a little harder next time."


But meditating should be easy, right?  We don't have to get showered, don't have to get dressed, don't have to swallow a vitamin capsule the size of a gherkin pickle that has that horrible fish oil aftertaste, don't have to exert any muscles. We just get to sit there, totally silent, relaxing, breathing, getting empty.  We don't need any special training or any special equipment. It is free.  Why then the resistance? We are worth the investment. We are worthy of good health and well being.

So, if any of this sounds familiar to you and you want to get back into (or for some, just start) taking time for self-care, here is a simple meditation from Deepak Chopra that is a very pure and calming meditation.  There are so many ways to meditate, from focusing on the breath to saying a certain mantra, but after doing this one I felt very peaceful and knew that I wanted to do it again and thought you might want to try it too.  Start with 5 minutes each morning, maybe even 10-15 minutes, and who knows, you might get it up to 20 minutes a day in no time.



From Deepak Chopra - 

1.  Put your feet firmly on the ground so that they do not cross. (sitting in a chair or on the sofa)
2.  Put your hands on your lap with your palms facing up.
3.  Close your eyes and pay attention to your heart.
4.  Experience gratitude by thinking of blessings and counting your blessings.  Be grateful for everything good in your life.  Let your ego move out of the way.
5.  Recall an experience of love with someone you love or someone who loves you.
6.  Keep your attention on your heart and ask yourself a few questions like the following: Who Am I? Do not try to figure out the answer, just let your heart answer and guide you.  What do I want?  What is my purpose?  What makes me happy?
7.  Observe all of the sensations in your body.  This step is all about simple awareness of your body.  Bring awareness into your breath and breathe air in through your nostrils.  Observe as the air moves in and out.
8.  Keep your eyes closed and keep your attention on your heart.  Focus on sensing your heart beat as either a sound or a sensation.
9.  Move your awareness into your open hands and fingertips.  See if you can sense your heartbeat in your fingertips as a warm, tingling sensation or mild throbbing.

10.  Bring awareness back to your heart and relax you body.  Yawn, move, or stretch if you want.  Take half a minute and gently open your eyes.