Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"In the Moment " Tips for Coping with Depression - Part 2: Engage the Body

Today’s post focuses on strategies that engage the body in coping with depression. Here I'm suggesting that you take advantage of the awesome design of the physical and energy bodies to deal with distress by sneaking in the 'back door' - accessing issues through the body instead of the mind.

1. Honor Body Basics. By this I mean tend to all the basic things human bodies need to function properly. Have a Basics checklist:

  • Eat something nutritious
  • Take your vitamins/supplements
  • Breathe intentionally
  • Drink water - lots of it
  • Move - go for a walk, even 10 minutes
  • Rest - take a power nap
  • Rejuvenate: get some fresh air and sunshine

2. Outwit the Mind. Simple mind-body techniques go a long way toward shifting your energy relatively quickly. The biggest reason I love these techniques is that sometimes I'm just not able to directly or easily 'change my thoughts.' I first have to somehow shift feelings of heaviness and hopelessness, so intertwined with my thoughts. Some of my favorites include:

+ Smile. Make yourself smile, or half-smile, even though you don't feel like it. The body thinks you're happy and produces happy hormones.

Thump. Do the Three Thumps exercise described by Donna Eden in her book Energy Medicine: thump assertively several times each at your collarbones, breast bone, and the bottom of your ribs. This wakes up and stimulates your immune system and overall energy flow.

+ Chop. “Karate chop”: Bang the sides of your hands together repeatedly while speaking aloud ‘even though’ statements such as:

“Even though I feel hopeless, I totally and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel like a failure, I totally and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I don’t have a job right now, I totally and completely accept myself.”

This maneuver activates potent energy meridians while unhooking deeply held, subconscious beliefs. The karate chop is often used as an initial step in various tapping techniques, but is also very helpful by itself. One thought leads to the next, and the next, often guiding you to whatever underlying dynamic is really troubling you. And, as Louise Hay says in her book You Can Heal Your Life, the root of all dis-ease boils down to lack of self-love and self-acceptance. This exercise begins to re-write this most fundamental inner script.

+ Tap. Other mind-body techniques include the Rapid Relaxer from the book Instant Emotional Healing (Pratt and Lambrou), and any variation of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). These techniques involve tapping on specific sequences of energy meridian points associated with strong emotions to interrupt unproductive negative loops. As described in my previous post entitled Why Aren’t We All Tapping, they often produce seemingly miraculous results.

3. Come into the Now. Each of us has favorite ways to come into this moment, and out of the viscious cycle of self-defeating thoughts. The idea here is to engage the senses to distract, self-soothe and transcend despair one moment at a time. It is extremely useful to maintain a tried-and-true list of your personal favorites to pull out and use in times of depression. Some examples include:

* listening to music;
* taking a bath, especially with essential oils;
* doing yoga, dancing, jogging, walking – any form of movement;
* meditating or praying;
* practicing gratitude;
* journaling;
* reading or listening to something inspiring;
* getting energy work or massage (one of my favorites
J )

Pay attention to what works for you, and practice, practice, practice doing whatever it takes to bring yourself into this moment.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"In the Moment " Tips for Coping with Depression - Part 1: Get a Grip

Coping with depression isn't a neat, clean process. I'm reminded of the advice I was given as a new mother trying to calm an inconsolable baby: try 10 things and the 11th might work. Same applies here. If one thing doesn't work, keep trying, as well as combining various tools and techniques until you've somehow reached a better place.

The following tips are my best attempt to share what I've learned and what's worked for me in coping with episodes of depression. Today’s entry includes Part 1: three basic tips focused on getting a grip. Part 2 will address engaging the body in dealing with depression, and Part 3 will offer strategies aimed at taking control of the mind.

Stop, Drop, and Get Mindful. Mindfulness is the crucial first step that allows access all other suggestions. It is imperative while in the swirl of despair that you stop long enough to get in touch with the 'observer' part of yourself, drop into your body and into the moment, and very intentionally choose to be mindful. Mindfulness means "just noticing" - without judgment or attachment - the facts of the situation: what you're feeling, what you're thinking, what events occurred, what the circumstances are. Mindfulness is like pushing the pause button on your experience long enough to gain some perspective and be intentional about how to respond.

Once you have gotten still, you can ask yourself what do I need? What works for me? What help or tools can I access?

2. Breathe. The importance and effectiveness of intentional breathing cannot be overstated. Breathing deeply provides instant access to calming energy, to our deeper spirit, and to significant relief. It also distracts the mind, at least temporarily. It only takes a couple intentional breaths to relax deeply and completely, and shift stuck energy. Try reading this out loud slowly:

Quiet the breath.
Soften the breath.
Slow it down.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Let the breath just trickle down through all the cells of your body.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.

(doesn't that feel great?!)

3. Vent!
Others may disagree about the value of venting, but I've found that until you unload your baggage one way or another it's difficult to move on. Venting is a means of both validating your very real feelings and simultaneously expelling all that negative energy. I find journaling or emailing very effective ways to vent - I just get on a roll and it all spills out. The great thing about email is that you don't ever have to actually hit 'send', but spilling it as if you're telling someone makes the writing easy and is very cathartic. Actually telling someone works, too, but sometimes putting it in writing helps to really highlight repeating themes and patterns which you can begin to address more effectively in the bigger scheme of things.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Depression - The Stop Sign of the Soul

Some of you may wonder why I haven't posted for almost a month. I've been wondering myself. The main reason is that I was away for a week visiting my mom in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was so grateful for this opportunity and had a fabulous time. However, travel involves so much pre- and post- expenditure of energy for me, that as much as I love it, it still knocks me for a loop. And part of that loop often involves a spiral into the dark place of depression, which brings me to my post for today.

I have tended toward depression most of my adult life. I now realize that my first experience of serious depression was in my early 20's during my first years in college. Looking back, I see that the depression coincided with my first serious identity crisis - if I decide not to be a doctor as I had always imagined, who am I, what am I here for, what the heck am I going to do instead? The depression got clinically significant during my years as a new mother, when I became classically lost in being a wife and full-time mom. Swept up into meeting everybody else's needs, where was I in this equation? After trying so long to cope on my own, I finally sought treatment at the urging of my sister ("life really doesn't have to be this hard...."), and found some relief with short bouts of therapy and many years of medication. I often credit Zoloft with saving my life at that time.

Even with medication, my depression peaked about 10 years ago when our family endured a series of crises, life as I knew it unraveled, and I eventually ended up getting divorced. As most who've been there know, this process was excruciating, and the last thing I ever intended or wanted. But as my friend says, depression is the "stop sign of the soul" and I had to heed the lessons my soul was calling me to learn. I couldn't survive within existing conditions. Satisfied that I had done everything in my power to 'go to the mat' for the marriage, I somehow found the courage to separate. Talk about an identity crisis! I had been fully vested in a lifetime partnership. I remember feeling like I was literally disintegrating at many points during this time.

By the end of my marriage, my spiritual seeking had intensified. When we split, I was in my final semester of massage school (a common path, I found out, among spiritual journeyers), and had also begun exploring energy and intuitive healing in earnest. I was blessed to meet some amazingly gifted clairvoyant and clairaudient healers, and experienced many incredibly powerful sessions. I discovered that, for me, an hour with such a healer was the equivalent in effectiveness of about 6 months of traditional talk therapy. This was not a matter of "believing" in energy work. This was my own experience of it, felt in the body and life changing. These healers work at the soul level, and insights and healing happen in many dimensions, in quantum ways. I learned quickly what Truth feels like when it resonates so clearly and strongly in my field, and it's extremely comforting. I became convinced that it was possible to manage the depression without medication and I gave it my best go. I also recognized my own calling to this profound soul-focused Lightwork.

Although I did have to revisit medication for a short while during the worst of my separation and divorce, I have now successfully remained medication-free for about 5 years. I credit a broad based approach to alternative methods as well as the steadfast support of my dearest Soul Sisters (whom I will profile in future posts!) for my ability, eventually and with much diligence, to overcome seemingly endless setbacks and truly shift my vibration upward. This, I discovered, is the holy grail - a permanently upregulated vibration.

At this point, I am taken by surprise when I feel myself spiralling downward again. I am usually able to take effective action to reverse or prevent full descent, but I still have occasional episodes of finding myself swirling in the thick of darkest despair. But I take heart - these episodes happen much less frequently and I bounce back much more quickly now. I will be sharing my essential tips for surviving these brief - but brutal - episodes in my next post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Power Living Update - 6 weeks later

The 6-week Power Living(TM) program at BodyTech (described in my post on May 10, 2008) wrapped up last Saturday. At the final meeting members of the group shared their reflections on progress, areas of difficulty, and especially, their Wellness Plan for the next 3 months. Some themes emerged:

  • everyone appreciated and directly benefited from the information imparted through the program;
  • everyone made progress toward significant change to improve their own well-being;
  • even with different areas of strength and weakness, and varying challenges, everyone benefited from Power Living's holistic approach to learning about change in all areas (food, fitness, thinking).
  • everyone experienced slumps, and found the group meetings very helpful for re-energizing.
The main message of the final session was that slumps are inevitable, and the key to long term success is to continually revisit one's original vision, motivation, and commitment, to learn from experience, and to revise and recommit to your Wellness Plan as necessary.

Some examples of lessons learned:
"I need to make getting to bed by 9 p.m. an absolute priority. Otherwise I'm too tired the next day and everything goes haywire."

"I did great with the nutrition and exercise, but I need to incorporate more stress-relieving activities. I'm going to plan in regular massage."

"I need to be diligent with my journaling, to keep myself accountable."

"I need to plan my meals, prepare ahead, and have food with me at work to avoid going off-track."

"I need to continue to make myself my priority. I know I have to get my workout in first thing in the morning to make sure it happens - and I always feel so much better."

"If I go over a certain weight, I need to go back to the mini-cleanse guidelines for a while."

Personally, I am delighted to have gotten into the healthy habit of walking at least 30 minutes most days. Now I miss it if I don't go, and sometimes I can't wait to get out there to clear my head or listen to my I-Pod. I love this personal inspirational and cleansing time. I also benefited tremendously from the two sessions with the personal trainer to learn about resistance training to build strength. This is still my biggest challenge, but I'm getting my mind around it and have at least begun some resistance work. I've also continued to eat very lean - mostly protein and fiber, very little sugar, dairy or "starchy" carbs. And I only have coffee once a week as a treat on Sundays.

My goal was not weight loss, but I have lost a few pounds. More striking for me, though, is the transformation I feel in the composition of my body from flabby and weak to at least a little more solid and toned. And it's not any one thing - it's all of it working together. It's the coolest thing! And, even a little success breeds more success.

The next Power Living(TM) program will be offered in September. Needless to say, I highly recommend it! Please let me know if you'd like more information or are interested in participating in this life-changing program.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Connecting with Ascended Masters and Angels - the Lightarian Way

Have you ever been curious about connecting to Angelic beings or Ascended Masters? Have you heard others speak of their experiences and wondered what this kind of energy experience is like?

I am delighted to say that I am now offering
two sets of energetic attunements brought forward by the Lightarian Institute for Global Human Transformation. These attunements, called Lightarian Rays(TM) and Lightarian AngelLinks(TM), are simple but powerful guided meditation/energy sessions for the purpose of connecting with specific Ascended Masters and Archangels. As described on the Lightarian Institute's website, these sessions are:

“celestially-inspired, channeled attunements designed to support the spiritual transformation that is taking place on Earth at this time. Steadily over time, these energetic attunements with the Masters and Angels will provide you with the most extraordinary enhancement and acceleration of your personal healing and spiritual development. Teachers, students and clients all over the world describe them as amazing and life changing.”

The series of Lightarian Rays(TM) includes attuning to 6 Light Ray energies:

* Empowerment Ray - Ascended Master Maitreya

* Clearing Ray - Ascended Master El Morya

* Healing Ray - Ascended Master Buddha

* Activation Ray - Ascended Master Sananda

* Manifestation Ray - Ascended Master Saint Germaine

* Source Ray - Source Energy

The series of Lightarian AngelLinks(TM) includes connecting to 5 Angelic energies:

* Seraph Rose Aura - unconditional love

* Archangel Michael - love, non-judgment, etheric interaction

* Archangel Gabriel - angelic joy, improved communications

* Archangel Raphael - courage, lighting the way, balance

* Archangel Uriel - beauty, creative expression

If you've ever felt drawn to the Angelic realms or to any Ascended Masters, or if you've just been curious, these gentle but lovely sessions provide a readily accessible way to experience a direct and permanent connection with beings "beyond the veil" while simultaneously raising your own vibration. For more information, see
Lightwork on my website.

Why Aren't We All Tapping?

Some time ago, I became aware of something called the Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. This technique is a self-help tool for unblocking stuck emotions that keep us trapped in unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. It involves tapping on specific energy meridian points on the body in a specific sequence while actively thinking about the problem or stuck emotion. It is simple to learn, simple to do, and by all accounts delivers not just rapid, not just effective, but positively miraculous results. From huge traumas to chronic stressors, EFT slays one after another emotional dragon. I wonder to myself, why in the world aren't we all tapping on a regular basis?? Why isn't tapping a household word (concept)?

EFT is one of several "tapping" techniques that have grown out of something called Thought Field Therapy, a subset of the broader field of Energy Psychology. In their book Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions, George J. Pratt, Ph.D., and Peter T. Lambrou, Ph.D., describe these techniques as being:

"at the leading edge of a whole new approach to healing that combines elements of cognitive therapy with the latest thinking in everything from the mind/body connection, to subtle energy theories, electromagnetism, polarity, neuropeptide chains, acupuncture, and quantum physics."

While the specific mechanisms that make tapping work are not definitively understood, as Pratt and Lambrou point out, "It is not necessary [to] fully understand or believe in the theoretical foundation of Emotional Self Management (ESM) [their particular version]. The techniques will work whether you believe in them or not. You do not have to understand radio waves to listen to an FM radio station." Pratt and Lambrou go on to say that they themselves, as conventionally trained psychologists, continue to be amazed at the power of these techniques, stating that in their nearly 40 years of combined clinical experience, nothing has ever produced the same "immediate and powerful results."

For quite a while I was resistant to believing that EFT could possibly be as amazing as it sounded. However, as evidence of its effectiveness continued to cross my radar screen, I realized it was definitely time to let go of outdated beliefs and give it a try. I have since learned the basic technique by watching the introductory instructional videos offered by EFT developer Gary Craig; I have read Instant Emotional Healing referenced above, a self-help manual which also provides great background and context; and I have had several sessions with accomplished EFT practitioners. I highly recommend this readily accessible emotional power tool.

For an overview of the technique, see the video clip at Gary Craig's website,, as well as a wonderful new youtube video called "An EFT Documentary: Try It On Everything." I'm considering offering a "Learn to Tap" workshop based on the Instant Emotional Healing book. Please comment back if you'd be interested in giving it a try!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Power Living - Food, Fitness, Forward Thinking

This week I started the Power Living program at BodyTech in Gaithersburg, and I'm lovin' it! This comprehensive, unique and fabulously supportive program was designed by Dolores Zumbado (Doc Z or Z), Doctor of Chiropractic and the heart and soul of BodyTech. It is the latest expression of her passion to address the underlying causes of physical pain, and to help people truly step into a new and healthy life.

Power Living offers a three-pronged approach to lifestyle change:
  1. food as fuel;
  2. fitness done right; and
  3. mind over matter - rewriting outdated or non-serving habits of mind.
The program involves 6 Saturday morning group meetings with presentations by Doc Z and clinical nutritionist Susan Mudd, as well as other guest speakers, covering a range of topics. The program includes:
  • a healthy eating plan beginning with a 3-week 'mini-cleanse';
  • a resource notebook for planning and journaling;
  • weekly weigh-ins and body fat measuring;
  • an individual counseling session with Susan to discuss specific issues and tailor each person's food plan
  • two individual sessions with a specialized personal trainer to address overall fitness and core strength, flexibility and balance;
  • group sharing and support, including struggles and successes of previous program participants now in a mentoring role; and
  • ongoing coaching and support by Doc Z and Susan by email or in person.
So far the sessions have focused primarily on components of lasting change (readiness, motivation, preparation to change, commitment) and nutritional education on how - and WHY - to eat healthy. The nutrition component evolved out of Susan's previous course on Overcoming Weight Loss Resistance, and includes availability of high quality protein shakes and supplements. Doc Z and Susan are genuine and passionate, offer a wealth of knowledge, and make it all seem possible!

My personal goals are more about getting fit than losing weight, but sound nutrition, fitness, and thinking principles apply across the board. So far my biggest challenge has been giving up coffee and committing to exercising at least 30 minutes every day - but I'm doing it. The journaling takes time, but is a critical component for detecting patterns, habits, and triggers, as well as remaining intentional about the whole undertaking. Even though I've been hooked on healthy and swimming in wellness for many years, I'm still learning a lot and feel better already after just a week. Can't wait to see how I feel in week 6 and beyond!