Honoring All Experiences.

Honoring All Experiences.

Honoring the experiences we have in our lives is an invaluable way to communicate with life, our greatest teacher. We do this when we take time at night to say what we are thankful for about our day and also when we write in a journal. Both of these acts involve consciously acknowledging the events of our lives so that they deepen our relationship to our experiences. This is important because it brings us into closer connection with life, and with the moment. 

Only when we acknowledge what's happening to us can we truly benefit from life's teachings. 

It is especially important when pain comes our way to honor the experience, because our natural tendency is to push it away and move past it as quickly as possible. We tend to want to brush it under the rug. Yet, if we don't, it reveals itself to be a great friend and teacher. As counterintuitive as it seems, we can honor pain by thanking it and by welcoming it into the space of our lives. We all know that often the more we resist something, the longer it persists. 

When we honor our pain, we do just the opposite of resisting it, and as a result, we create a world in which we can own the fullness of what life has to offer.

We can honor a painful experience by marking it in some way, bringing ourselves into a more conscious relationship with it. We might mark it by creating a work of art, performing a ritual, or undertaking some other significant act. Sometimes all we need to do is light a candle in honor of what we've gone through and what we've learned. 

No matter how small the gesture, it will be big enough to mark the ways in which our pain has transformed us, and to remind us to recognize and value all that comes our way in this life. 
When Your Body Tells to Slow Down.

When Your Body Tells to Slow Down.

It’s only natural to feel stressed from time to time. When we do, it’s important to address the feeling head-on. When we ignore our bodies’ signs that tell us to slow down, our stress can build up and eventually escalate, which can lead to burnout.  

Thrive asked its community to share with us the little hints from their bodies that tell them it’s time to slow down. Which of these signs are you experiencing?

You’re having trouble focusing 

“If I notice I’m having difficulty focusing during the morning, and by noon I’m reaching for more coffee to wake up, I know I’m trying to do too much. When I notice it, I step away from everything and set my timer on my phone for three minutes to do some alternate nostril breathing. This strategy increases my energy and ability to focus.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and life coach, Royal Oak, MI

You feel sore and achy

“Over the years, I have been more mindful about the clues my body is trying to tell me. One physical sign that I need to slow down is tension in my upper body, especially in my neck. When that happens, I know that I need to amp up with my self-care. Some of my favorite activities are walking and listening to a guided meditation. There’s something about being outdoors while getting some movement that feels both rejuvenating and relaxing to me.”

—Pamela Biasca Losada, health coach, Pittsburgh, PA

You’re more cranky than usual

“I get cranky when I’m overworked or feel stressed. I know I can’t put a finger on one single trigger and that’s a signal to slow down. I either take a nap or call up a friend who makes me feel better. After that, I  give myself some breathing space to relax.”

—Aakriti Agarwal, psychologist and coach, Hyderabad, India

Your eye is twitching

“I get a little eye twitch when my body hasn’t had enough rest, whether it was a busy work week or I had loads of home commitments. I used to power through the twitches during the week and try to sleep in on the weekends. What works better for me now is to commit to going to bed 20 minutes earlier for a few days. My body still wakes at the usual time it needs to wake, and the little extra time slowly gets me back on track.”

—Donna Peters, executive coach and MBA faculty, Atlanta, GA

Your neck feels stiff

“One small way my body tells me to slow down is when I feel tension at the base of my neck. The tension is the warning signal, but if I ignore it, the tension can turn into a knot. The inflammation surrounding the knot feels like a throbbing pain, making it unbearable to work at my desk or sleep peacefully. To ease my stress levels, I’ve rearranged my schedule to incorporate more mindfulness exercises throughout my day. I begin my day with meditation, prayer, and gratitude journaling. And midway through my schedule, I take a walk outside to reconnect with nature.”

—Karla J. Noland, personal development and executive coach, Durham, N.C.

You’re especially tired

“I know my body needs serious rest when I start to feel full-body fatigue and aches, that no amount of coffee can fix. When I start feeling this way, I try to find time for a nap during the day and go to bed early for the next few nights.”

—Holly Fowler, health coach, Los Angeles, CA

Your stomach is hurting

“When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, my tummy starts feeling uncomfortable. This is a signal for me to step away from my desk, go on a short walk, change scenery, and be conscious about taking deep breaths. Being in tune with my body helps me stay productive throughout the day.”

—Isabelle Bart, social impact coach, Orange County, CA

You feel pressure in your head

“It’s really obvious when my body tells me to slow down. My shoulders tighten like a vice until it feels like my head might pop right off! Whenever I begin to feel this way, there is one solution that is free, easy, and always works: sunlight. When I step outside and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, it lowers my stress and recharges me. On days when it is cloudy, I supplement this by breathing in fresh air, which has a similar effect.”

—Joe Kwon, author, Oakland, N.J.

You’re more clumsy than usual

“When I start dropping things, I realize I’m in too much of a hurry. There is no such thing as multitasking. It’s just task shifting when I do that I drop things. I slow down and get more methodical when this happens. I also drop the ‘things’ that are extraneous or too strenuous on my body, mind, and spirit. It’s a reminder for me to slow down without distractions.”

—Mary Joye, licensed mental health counselor, FL

You feel like you’re in “fight or flight” mode

“Last Tuesday was a great example of recognizing my body’s needs. I had a stressful morning at work as I needed to find a solution for an urgent problem. I succeeded but my body was in fight or flight mode for a few hours afterward. I felt like after a few coffees, my breath was shallow, and I started having a headache. This is a typical stress response for me. In these moments, I choose to push back my meetings and take care of myself first. Meditation at the beach and cold dips have helped me to release the tension.”

—Paulina Kabaczuk, manager, Sydney, Australia

Text from Thrive
The Message of Pain.

The Message of Pain.

Both emotional and physical pain are messages that we need to stop and pay attention to.

When we feel pain, our first impulse is often to eradicate it with medication. This is an understandable response, but sometimes in our hurry to get rid of pain, we forget that it is the body's way of letting us know that it needs our attention. A headache can inform us that we're hungry or stressed just as a sore throat might be telling us that we need to rest our voice. 

When we override these messages instead of respond to them, we risk worsening our condition. In addition, we create a feeling of disconnectedness between our minds and our bodies.

Physical pain is not the only kind of pain that lets us know our attention is needed. Emotional pain provides us with valuable information about the state of our psyche, letting us know that we have been affected by something and that we would do well to focus our awareness inward. Just as we tend to a cut on our arm by cleaning and bandaging it, we treat a broken heart by surrounding ourselves with love and support. 

When we listen to our pain we will know what to do to heal ourselves. It's natural to want to resist pain, and once we understand that it is here to give us valuable information, we can relax a bit more, and take a moment to listen before we reach for medication. Sometimes this is enough to noticeably reduce the pain, because its message has been heard. Perhaps we seek to medicate pain because we fear that if we don't, it will never go away. It can be empowering to realize that, at least some of the time, it is just a matter of listening and responding.

The next time you feel pain, either physical or emotional, you might want to try listening to your own intuition about how to relieve your pain. Maybe taking a few deep breaths will put an end to that headache. Perhaps writing in your journal about hurt feelings will ease your heart. 

Ultimately, the message of pain is all about healing.

Based on text by Madisyn Taylor