Writing Your Story.

Writing Your Story.

We all have a story to tell, whether we publish it or keep it for just ourselves or family; allow yourself to be heard.

Everyone, at one time or another, has wanted to express his or her story.

Writing a memoir to read privately, share with family or friends, or publish is an emotionally satisfying way to gain perspective on your experiences while sharing your unique voice. We’ve all experienced feelings and events in our lives that we are longing to write down. Giving in to that urge can give you an outlet for purging any frustration, anxiety, or long-dormant feelings.

No one else has to read it. You may even want to write your story without reading it right away. Satisfying the need to tell your story is not predicated upon your writing ability. It does, however take effort to write down the truth in detail. Your memories, captured on paper as descriptive scenes, sights, sounds, and scents, may at first seem disconnected or incomplete. But rest assured that you possess the ability to shape your recollections into stories.

Everyone wants to be heard. Reading your story to others can meet that need. Writing your story can also help you understand your life experiences. And when you finish writing, you may be surprised at what you have accomplished. Your story can encompass as much or as little of your life as you prefer. You may surprise yourself with new insights, or you may find yourself exploring your roots, your identity, and your future through your words. Allow your writing to guide you and write as truthfully as possible. Don’t worry about what others will think of your personal journey, your style of writing, or your words.

As you write, remember to have compassion for yourself, particularly when writing about traumatic events. If you are a young person, you can add to your life story as you grow older. Your writing may help family members know you better, or they may understand themselves more through reading about your experiences.

More importantly, you are expressing yourself in a permanent way, giving a gift to yourself, and letting your voice be heard.

We Are Family.

We Are Family.

We are human, we are family — we all look at the same stars, we all laugh and cry, we all love.

When it comes to our families, we sometimes see only our differences. We see the way our parents cling to ideas we don’t believe, or act in ways we try not to copy. We see how practical one of our siblings is and wonder how we can be from the same gene pool. Similarly, within the human family we see how different we are from each other, in ways ranging from gender and race to geographical location and religious beliefs. It is almost as if we think we are a different species sometimes.

The truth is, in our personal families as well as the human family, we really are the same.
 
A single mother of four living in Africa looks up at the same stars and moon that shine down on an elderly Frenchman in Paris. A Tibetan monk living in India, a newborn infant in China, and a young couple saying their marriage vows in Indiana all breathe the same air, by the same process. We have all been hurt and we have all cried. Each one of us knows how it feels to love someone dearly. No matter what our political views are, we all love to laugh. Regardless of how much or how little money we have, our hearts pump blood through our bodies in the same way.

With all this in common, it is clear we are each individual members of the same family. We are human.
 
Acknowledging how close we all are, instead of clinging to what separates us, enables us to feel less alone in the world. Every person we meet, see, hear, or read about is a member of our family. We are truly not alone. We also begin to see that we are perfectly capable of understanding and relating to people who, on the surface, may seem very different from us. This awareness prevents us from disconnecting from people on the other side of the tracks, and the other side of the world.

We begin to understand that we must treat all people for what they are — family.
By Madisyn Taylor
Miracles!

Miracles!

By noticing how small things can fill our days with delight, we are more likely to experience the wonder of living.

They are the everyday aspects of our lives that bring us the most joy, even if at first it may seem natural to expect our feelings of happiness to come from the larger events in our lives. By noticing how small things can fill our days with delight, we are more likely to experience the wonder of living. Once we take the time to look around and witness the beauty, kindness, and laughter that envelop us, what may seem like the ordinariness of the everyday becomes filled with the extraordinary detail of each individual moment.

If we bring this sense of awareness to our lives for even a few minutes each day, we will begin to see just how blessed we truly are.
 
Beholding the joy that surrounds us may initially seem easy, but for some it can take a conscious effort to make it a part of a daily routine. When you awake in the morning and set the intention to notice more joy in the world, watch how your day and, eventually, your life are filled with more joy.

The more we do this the more apt we will be to notice the sounds of children laughing or the sparkle of dewdrops on a flower petal. Allow this joy to fill your heart fully, and from there it will naturally expand to your entire body and then spread to others, giving them joy as well.
 
Taking in the small joys of each day expands our feeling of being connected with the world, especially once we become more attuned to them. With each passing day, we will find that these small delights, which bring a deeper level of appreciation for everything the universe has given to our lives, are miracles.
By Madisyn Taylor
Holding Space for Others..

Holding Space for Others..

When we hold space for someone, we offer to be a container for the overwhelming feelings they may be encountering

We have all been called upon at one time or another to help a loved one through a difficult time. When the help required consists of concrete actions such as running errands or making phone calls, we know what to do. But sometimes we are called to hold space for the person as they go through their journey. They may need to express anger or grief; they may need to talk or simply be silent. They may need us to hold their hand; they may need us to give them time alone.

Whatever the case, when we hold space for someone, we offer ourselves to be a container for the overwhelming feelings they may be encountering due to their circumstances.
 
When we offer ourselves in this way, the more centered and grounded we are, the better. Our steadiness allows our companion to lean into us for support, and our presence provides an environment in which they can be free to move. We can also help by being responsive, allowing them to dictate the flow of action from talking to not talking, from anger to grief, and back again. By being aware and open, we can help them confront their feelings when that feels right, and back off from them when they need a break.

Holding space requires humility, conscientiousness, the ability to step out of the way, and us to honestly understand that this is not about us.
 
When we love someone in this way, we provide a space in which they can simply be, and feel what they need to feel without worrying about how they are being perceived. We can provide this offering in person, over the phone, or even from a distance through meditation.

However we do it, when we hold space for someone in need, we are offering a gift of the highest nature.
By Madisyn Taylor
Mindfully P.L.A.C.E.

Mindfully P.L.A.C.E.

1. Pause

The moment you notice you are triggered, take a moment to pause and breathe. For example, the minute someone says something that upsets you and you notice your energy change, take a breath.

2. Label Your Emotions

Name what you’re feeling. Is it anger, frustration, sadness, grief? Identifying how we feel can help us process our emotions.

3. Ask Yourself: Why?

Asking yourself these questions: “Why was I triggered? What actually triggered me?” can help bring awareness to what’s under the surface. For example, it might not be what the person said that upset you but rather that it reminded you of a different memory or perhaps you are simply more sensitive today than yesterday.

4. Choose A Mindful Response

Here is where the difference is made! Consider the information about the situation over the emotion. What’s important to share about your experience? How can you communicate in a way that is connective and reparative versus harmful and unproductive? How can the way you communicate serve the best for all involved?

5. Empower Yourself

Empower yourself to move closer towards your values and goals by responding from this calmer place. Notice how pausing impacts your body and your nervous system. Notice how responding versus reacting impacts your relationships and how you feel about yourself!

From Community Forward SF

Reacting vs. Responding

Reacting vs. Responding

With so many triggering events happening in our world right now, most of us are likely having a pretty difficult time emotionally. I wanted to take this moment to explore how we can express those emotions using mindfulness. 

Many of you might be wondering what the difference is between Reacting and Responding

Reacting happens when there is an event (or stimulus) → our internal alarm bells sound (or our Fight/Flight Reaction) → and we have external, physical or emotional activation. 

Here, we usually have a short-sighted, sometimes aggressive or out-of-control impulse. Maybe we yell, we curse, we freeze, run away or even want to physically fight someone. (This is the reason it’s called the Fight/Flight Reaction!)

Responding happens when there is an event (or stimulus) → our internal alarm bells sound (or our Fight/Flight Reaction) → and we are able to utilize our mindfulness skills to pause and breathe before → speaking or acting.

Here, we are able to use mindfulness to get beyond the emotion and into the information. Responding often produces a calm, value-centered, and connected solution. 

It’s important to acknowledge that this is a skill that requires repeated practice. And that’s okay! It’s impossible to always Respond to stressful events or triggers. Our bodies have natural Reactions when we feel threatened or hurt. It is the goal of mindfulness to move towards interacting with ourselves, others and the world from a more peaceful place. 

From Community Forward SF
Finding Calm, Nourishing Resilience.

Finding Calm, Nourishing Resilience.

Practicing mindfulness is a gesture of kindness toward yourself, your family, and your community. Taking time for intentional rest, learning to build emotional agility, and connecting with your undefended heart — these are the skills that mindfulness practice teaches us. 

To give you a gentle jump start, I’ve gathered advice from experts in the field of research-backed mindfulness. These simple tips will help you navigate every day-challenges, tame worry and anxiety, tune into your surroundings with greater awareness and compassion, and allow you to tap into a deep well of resilience — for yourself and for those around you. 

1. Give yourself some breathing room.

Psychologist and long-time mindfulness specialist, Zindel Segal teaches the three-minute breathing space meditation. You can use this meditation to develop your ability to ground yourself whenever difficult events or emotions arise. “This practice allows us to return to present-moment awareness, and to fully find ourselves at any moment, regardless of what we happen to be occupied with at the time,” says Segal. When we give ourselves room to be still and breathe, we can approach difficulty with more equanimity and compassion for ourselves and others.

2. Investigate your emotions.

“Emotions deserve and are worthy of our attention, respect and care,” says Jessica Morey, meditation teacher and executive director of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. Getting familiar with how emotions feel in our body as well as our mind can help us respond to our emotions skillfully, rather than reacting mindlessly. When we allow our emotional lives to inform us, rather than control us, we give ourselves space to ask the very important question: “what is needed right now?”

3. Connect with compassion for yourself and others.

In response to painful experiences, most of us would probably like to respond with compassion, but we may not have the tools to put our intention into practice. And it isn’t easy. Mindfulness and meditation teacher Vinny Ferraro says the starting point is getting in touch with our empathy and shared humanity. When we allow ourselves to actually touch with our hearts the pain of what’s difficult—the fear, the anger, the hurt—what arises is a natural tenderness. What we want to practice is allowing ourselves to get really close to that human experience, to tend to it.”

By Heather Hurlock

7 Ways of Finding the Flow.

7 Ways of Finding the Flow.

Sometimes it’s called being “in the zone.” Or a “flow state.” But by any name, career experts say this mental state of operation is the latest buzzword and mental tool to emerge after a year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to positive psychology, a flow state is when you are performing a task completely immersed and with fully energized focus. It helps people complete difficult projects and reduces work-related stress, something that 83% of the US workforce say they suffer. “In flow, time is forgotten, new discoveries are made, you push beyond your perceived capabilities, and a calm confidence emerges as you feel you can conquer hard things,” says Nancy Von Horn, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. We found seven ways to try to achieve it.

Find your passion.

Passion is to flow what coffee is to your mornings. Experts say it’s hard to find flow where there is no passion or some level of interest in your work. “You don’t get into the flow—flow gets into you,” says Sean Carney, a Korn Ferry Advance career coach. When you engage in activities that you’re interested in and bring you joy, flow will find its way to you, he says.

Putting yourself in situations you can benefit from and experimenting with various roles until you stumble upon one that excites you is the way to go, says Tom McMullen, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry and leader of the firm’s North American Total Rewards expertise group.

Prep your physical space.

Setting up your work environment is one of the easiest ways to bring yourself one step closer to flow. For instance, a place full of distractions, clutter, and noise can hinder you from getting in the zone, says Carney. Trying to multitask, going on social media, and any interruptions hinder you from establishing flow, he says. So find a quiet place or use noise-canceling headphones, clean out your workspace, and put away your smartphone, says Von Horn. “Eliminate all distractions, or your concentration will be interrupted,” she says.

Clear your mind.

While finding flow, your mental space is just as important as your physical surroundings. People usually have mental “jams” when there’s too much going on, says Deborah Brown, a managing principal at Korn Ferry. Try not to overwhelm yourself by taking on too many projects at once, multitasking, or overcommitting to people, she says. Brown also says it’s important to practice self-care or listen to calming podcasts or music, because flow doesn’t materialize when you’re burnt out, anxious, exhausted, or hungry.

Get moving.

Endorphins are directly correlated to flow. It is necessary to take care of your physical health and keep your body moving. “Our physical health can prime us for flow,” says Carney. Incorporating some form of exercise, in addition to resting and eating well, will keep you active and increase your likelihood of finding flow, he says. If you’re feeling sluggish and restless, going for a quick run or walk, doing some jumping jacks, or stretching into a few yoga poses can tremendously help in increasing your focus and energy, says Von Horn.

Try “time blocking.”

Flow cannot be found in small pockets of time during the day. You can’t achieve flow in 10 minutes between your Zoom meetings, says Von Horn—you need to chalk out at least 30 minutes to an hour depending on your goals and projects. Hence, planning ahead and blocking out a few hours every day or a few days a week is a good start. Von Horn says to try the Pomodoro technique or set a 20-minute timer to focus only on one task.

Challenge yourself.

Set clear, challenging, and attainable goals. You need some tension or stretch goals to achieve flow—not something too easy monotonous, says Von Horn. For his part, McMullen says to keep pushing yourself and beware of getting into a state of passiveness. For instance, the best athletes are always raising the bar, he says. “LeBron James has won several NBA championships, but for whatever reason, he’s still not satisfied, and he’s always pushing himself, his teammates, and his coaches to do better.”

Add play.

We’ve all heard the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The same applies to flow. Integrate non-work-related activities that you enjoy into your day, as they will lift your spirits and put you in a positive headspace that is conducive to flow, says Val Olson, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. The activities can be anything, from watching funny videos to playing with your pet to listening to music, she says. 

By Nancy Von Horn

High Vibration.

High Vibration.

Affirmative activities that leave us feeling joyous, appreciative, loving, and peaceful raise our vibration.

All matter is made up of energy, and that energy is in motion continually. Everything in the universe, from the smallest molecules to the most complex living beings, has an optimal rate of vibration to keep it healthy. We reach this high vibrational level when we are whole, healthy, and fulfilling our potential.

Human beings are able to consciously control these vibrations within themselves using a variety of techniques. We know when we have reached a high vibrational state because we feel good and can sense that we are aligned with all that is. We find we are capable of healing and have good intuition and perception that are a result of our resonating closer and closer to our ideal frequencies. 

Thoughts, emotions, intentions, choices, and actions contribute to our vibrational state, as do the environments we inhabit. Affirmative activities that leave us feeling joyous, appreciative, loving, and peaceful raise our vibration. Constructive, creative, and expansive thoughts do the same. When we cultivate habits that contribute to our physical health and strength, our vibration is likewise raised. Certain mantra meditations, breathing exercises, and chants are designed to increase vibration. But simply practicing gratitude and forgiveness, surrounding ourselves with loving high-vibration people, eating whole foods, and spending time in nature can also help us transcend our current vibrational limitations. 

When your desire for change is strong enough, you will find yourself gravitating toward what can help you achieve and maintain a high vibrational state.

A positive outlook will then become the most important tool you possess, and this outlook will sustain you when the path leading toward transformation is wide and winding. As you evolve, your vibrational frequency will also evolve, aiding you in the creation of an even higher reality. Consciously and unconsciously, you will attract auspicious circumstances and positive people that will help you continue exploring the scope of your higher self until you move beyond the earthly plane.