Grief Awareness Day: August 30th

griefawarenessThis past week I had Angie Cartwright on my radio show. She is the pioneer who, having had many losses in her life, has raised her voice, gained support for those suffering loss and is now on her way to gathering support for a National Grief Awareness Day.

Since I have been working in the area of death, dying and grief after loss, the noise level has risen. We are gaining strides in understanding that grief is a normal and natural occurrence in life; as we will all experience the loss of those we love. It’s all about education and acceptance. Educating the masses that none of us is spared loss and acceptance of those grieving, each in there own way.

I’m proud to be a part of the growing awareness around this most human experience and ask that you support Angie in her efforts. She needs a million signatures and we need this to happen.

You can listen to the show here: http://goo.gl/SNhh30

You can sign the petition here:  www.nationalgriefawarenessday.com

Feeling Disconnected? Massage To The Rescue!

massageWhenever I teach self-massage to a client, I always hear the same statement, “I never thought of massaging myself”. We most often only give a “sought of” self-massage when a muscle in our bodies is crying out. Those achy backs, the carpal tendon tightness, our sore feet or uptight shoulders after a day of life can beg for attention. Then we give the muscle a once over!

Massages are top on my list of healing moralities but often too costly or the time needed just doesn’t fit into the schedule. Behold Abyanga or self-massage a self-care, a self-loving technique that is an ancient Ayurvedic art.

If you’re doubtful of the many health benefits for, both mind and body, that massage can provide take a moment, eliminate doubt by reading this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/19/massage-benefits_n_5173939.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

Love yourself with this guide to self-massage:  Abyanga

 

Health = Whole

yogaladyFor the third time I’m reading Full Catastrophe Living by my guru Jon Kabat Zinn. I always find something new, something else to connect with in Jon’s books. If you have never read his work or have seen him speak, go to YouTube and search for him.

Even after years of practice, a refresher as to why I love to meditate is sometimes needed. Life’s demands can get in the way and I find myself at the computer instead of on my meditation cushion.

The word itself, meditation, comes from the Latin word mederi, which means, ” to cure” and oddly enough so does the word medicine. Which would you choose, meditation or medication!

All my clients learn several mindfulness techniques in my Healthy Living program to keep them in the present. Often times are thoughts are in the past with the “I could have, should have or would have” arousing feelings of remorse or guilt. When we focus on the future we most often go to worrisome thoughts and “what if” thinking arousing feelings of anxiety and occasionally panic.

If you’re not convinced as to how meditation and living and embracing the present moment can impact your health, read this article just posted in the Healthy Living section of the Huffington Post http://goo.gl/pBlYNo

Still not convinced? Let’s practice mindfulness together. Call me and I’ll give you one technique, 30 seconds of your time, to feel the difference.
914-703-2688

 

Be well,

Audrey

A Learned Response To Loss: Time to Change The Script

I’ve found that very few people look at the emotion of grief. Typically “grief” it is associated with the emotional process following a death when women wore black and were said to “be in morning”. But it is so much more

learnedresponseGrief shows itself as anxiety, depression, sadness, pain, fear, loneliness, disappointment, frustration, stress, burnout and, even ADD. These emotions, when unresolved, are limiting your life. They hold you back from creating a new life, one of success, happiness and fulfillment. No one wants to hold on to these emotions, they don’t feel good and we all want to feel good.

In speaking with a business associate the other day, we began to formulate a list of all the experiences in life that could precipitate feelings that could come under the category of grief. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Death or loss of a friend
  • Death or loss of a pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of financial stability
  • Loss of youth (we baby boomers)
  • Loss of health
  • A move
  • Empty nest
  • Retirement

Grief can be defined as “a burden” and it is a heavy one to carry.

We are in a time where healthcare is focusing (supposedly) on “prevention” and education. Why then are we not educating people on how to resolve one of the most common emotional experiences in life? An emotion that left un-addressed can prevent us from creating success in our businesses, our present or future relationships, and our careers. What’s the worst part? We rarely can see that it is holding us back.

So, how do you begin to work through these stagnating emotions? You look back at how, over the course of your life, you’ve been taught to deal with every experience of loss. It’s not that we’re drawing a comparison between the death of a loved one and a bicycle being stolen however, our coping skills are learned from our early life experiences. In speaking with my business associate she realized that her response to a recent break-up was the same unhelpful response she has repeated from childhood, keep busy and time heals all wounds. I too, had repeated my unhealthy response to loss learned when cookies and milk would make me “feel better”.

Are you repeating the old scripts when dealing with loss of any kind? Are they working?

Relax and Renew

Once a year I take myself to Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts for a weekend of detachment and inner connection. This past weekend was it. After the long winter, lots of changes and the need to regroup and re-engage with mindfulness, off I went.

relaxandrenewIt proved to be an amazing weekend and not because of what I did, but because of what I didn’t do. I always stay in the dorm and this time I shared the room with twenty other women. Some engaged in conversation, most did not. We were all seekers either through attending one of the many programs offered or just to get in touch with ourselves, once again.

I met two wonderful women with whom I hope to stay in touch. We sat together in the dining hall the first evening for dinner and, as fate has it, things came full circle when we once again sat together at the last meal of the weekend and shared our experiences.

I did yoga, slept a great deal and enjoyed the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. I didn’t write or use a computer and the only phone call I made was to my husband before bedtime.

The silence of the surroundings in the early morning was stunning especially coming from the cacophony of NYC. I found myself in the woods, near a stream where I meditated each day. I so wanted to share it with you so, I made a short recording before I left.

Retreats are just that, retreating from the chaos and recharging and, it’s all good! Plan a time of reflection for yourself even if just for a day. Make time to be in the present moment, to relax and renew.

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Living with Loss: Filling the Emptiness

Lonely girl on a chairThe void after loss is indescribable. Don’t even try to explain what it feels like to someone who hasn’t lived with and experienced it for them self. The sad truth is that nothing fills that void, not food, not money, not drugs, not vacations, and not another person. This fact can take years to realize, it did for me.

One of the most impactful books I read that provided me with one of those V-8 moments was Jon Kabat-Zinns book Wherever You Go There You Are and I highly recommend getting your self a copy. It seems we frequently want to be somewhere other than where we are at this moment. You may want to be in the past or may wish it were years in the future where you assume your loss will be less painful. I did both. I wished for the life I had with Joe and then I wished five years could just pass and I would be over the worst part of loss. Wishful thinking does nothing but waste precious time.

Did I learn a way to fill that emptiness? No, there isn’t any. We move forward in our lives not to fill the void but to make space to bring new things into our lives. This is not an easy task and often we have no idea what we want other than what we had. So here what I would suggest:

  1. Write down all the possibilities of what you might bring to your life. (Think out of the box; think the most ridiculous, absurd possibilities. Dream and use your imagination).
  2. For each possibility, write down the steps it would take to make it happen. (Do you need more education or to learn a new skill, do you need more money, more contacts; do you need to travel or live somewhere else)?
  3. Make a timeline starting with todays date and end the timeline with the date when you want to actualize the possibility.
  4. Mark your path with specific dates on the timeline when you will complete the steps you need to take
  5. Post the timeline where you can see it every single day.

Yes, it’s a plan, a process and you’re creating the map.

 

When The Faucet Leaks: A Widow’s Lament

Does it seem that sometimes even the smallest inconvenience can throw you for a loop and into the crazy thoughts of why me? Why him? Why now? Do I have to do it all?

faucetHave you considered taking a plumbing, electrician or mechanic class? One day I strapped on the huge gas leaf blower Joe had to go and clean all the leaves that had fallen the autumn after Joe died. It weighed as much as I did and the noise of the monstrosity on my back was deafening. First and last time, I hired someone else to do the job. Similarly, I remember thinking that, when Joe died, I was going to have to be both mom and dad to my children, especially the boys. So, what did I do? I went out with them to throw the football around. I hate football and am petrified when any object is hurled in my direction. Guess I should be thankful because that one-day ended my desire to be the jock example for my boys.

When you have children and you’re left as the single parent, it’s not uncommon to feel that we have to fill in the gap but we can’t. I learned the best that I, as a mom could do, was to be just that, the mom. And the kids? They understood and as a result all my children, boys (men) and girls (women) enjoy cooking and sharing recipes. And the boys? They do throw the football around, without me!

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Did you eat a raisin today? Just one (1) raisin!

raisinIt’s difficult, with all of the demands we have in a day, to stay focused and present in the here and now. Mostly, we tend to go to planning, worrying and fretting about tomorrow. I do that too, sometimes way more than I should.

In my Healthy Living After Loss program we do a practice of mindful eating. I use eating a raisin as an example. So in order to keep that present moment focus, I carry with me, in my bag, a few mini boxes of raisins. The kind you pass out at Halloween to totally disappoint the junk food seeking trick or treating kids. I don’t eat the whole box, I eat maybe three in total, one at a time, as I totally enjoy the experience and focus only on the raisin. It’s only seconds but, it takes me out of my runaway thinking to just this moment.

Put raisins on this weeks shopping list and enjoy them, one raisin at a time!

No News May be Good News: Mindful Living

headlinesDid you read the headlines today? Did you hear the “top stories”? Were they uplifting or did your mind go to worry, fear, concern?

For many years, much to the chagrin of many, I never watched TV, never read a paper and never listened to the news on radio. I was teaching mindfulness and meditation to those challenged with panic and anxiety disorders. News was, for me, disturbing. It still is. Good news doesn’t sell newspapers or get TV viewers. I always thought, if it’s something that will impact me now, today at this very minute, someone will tell me.

I bring this up because this week, two clients told me they start their day watching the news, and, lest I say, very disturbing news. A tragic building collapse in Harlem, a missing jet plane packed with poor victims and no answers, global catastrophe and unrest. Are these the thoughts that you want to carry with you throughout the day?

Yes, we need to be in the know but, I ask you, can’t it wait? What if, for one week, you didn’t get the news first thing in the morning but waited until you mindfully enjoyed your morning time? Take this challenge and let me know what changed for you. I would be very surprised if your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate weren’t well below “normal limits”. Perhaps consider adding a few meditative moments in silence to make it your best day yet!

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