Lifestyle

Lifestyle, Relaxation

Offering Yourself Space & Time


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For those who know me, most of them already know that I need alone time, or at least quiet time. What I’m realizing recently is I didn’t realize just how much of it I sometimes need to truly thrive.

Needing time to unwind is not about not liking people or being introverted.

It’s not that I don’t love connecting with those I love; I absolutely delight in deep connection and sharing love with others. I love deep conversations, walks through the woods, talking about horses or healing work, and moments spent physically close to those who are special to me. And for those of you I haven’t seen in a while… trust me, I miss you.

Some people might think that the only humans who need time to be quiet, reflect, or express are introverts. I would argue that everyone’s nervous system needs time to unwind, relax, and reflect, even if that is in the company of others doing the same thing. Even if you don’t think you need to relax, how can we expect to help our horses find relaxation when we’re not relaxed? 

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Lifestyle

My Health Perspectives


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This was originally an assignment in one of my college courses. It brought forth some interesting and different threads of thought around health and wellness, so I thought I’d share it with you.

My own personal health views are grounded in the perspective of each person having a mind-body-soul unity or connection that makes up the perception of self, while simultaneously being connected to the well-being of the ecological, sociological, cultural, and environmental communities we live in.

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Lifestyle

Getting Back On Your Feet


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I make it no secret that I’ve experienced health problems–you can find it right in my bio. The past several months have been full of excitement, growth, and travel. When I’m home, I’m working, learning with my horses, practicing bodywork, or researching something. I enjoy moving. I relish in doing things I love–especially since for so long I found it difficult to do them.

This past month I’ve had to extend some extra self-love and patience to myself as I’ve begun to experience dizziness and some other old symptoms have cropped up. At first, I was fearful. I avoided them–looked the other way and kept going. My body was giving me plenty of warning signals, but I wasn’t quite listening. I began to feel worse, to the point of where I found myself walking up windy stairs to an acupuncturist office.

I’ve been in love with the idea of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, and herbs for a while now. I use acupressure on myself and my horses and occasionally incorporate it into my practices with references and suggestions from more experienced practitioners in tow. I’m a big fan of herbs, both for myself and my horses. Needles, on the other hand, are something I’ve never really been fond of, but my heart (and the world) kept repeating acupuncture and TCM to me. So there I found myself, in an eclectically oriental-vintage office with little splashes of humor and emerald green, sitting in front of a friendly and determined Chicago gal.

For me personally, the experience was amazing. At a time where my body had begun to close doors, it opened them so I could do more in the area of self-healing. The acupuncture connected me to my roots, to something greater, and to a healing flow that deserves its own post to be described.

Since then, I’ve realized the other things my body, mind, and heart have been asking for. More love, more positivity. More time doing what I love, rather than just learning what I love. A slower travel schedule. More connected. Definitely more sleep, and more water–but among the things I’ve learned, there’s something that needs to be explored more clearly.

Cherish hug

My path has shifted. Rather than just being a learned, I have also stepped into the path of a sewer–a doer, a practicer. I’m getting back on my feet, but with a different rhythm in my dance this time. My horses are sharing with me the feelings I’ve yearned for… because I’m ready for them.

Getting back on your feet isn’t always immediate. It isn’t always fast, and it isn’t always gentle. You usually can’t do exactly what you did before–that’s why you ended up here anyway. What these periods do for me is guide me, always. I learn and become better and stronger and more connected than I ever was before. I have to say, I’m so grateful for health, including the whole spectrum: what feels good and what doesn’t. I’m so grateful for learning to listen. I’m so grateful to be connecting more with my heart. And I’m so grateful to my horses, for guiding and supporting me all along this journey.

There’s a special thing in sharing your wellness journey with your horses, in having the intention of always helping each other to develop more wellness, to flourish more. With this practice, even less-than-perfect moments can be embraced fully and in love, because you have some of the most amazing partners sharing with you some of the most amazing things.

Lifestyle

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Mom!


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As a kid, I would often walk up to my mom, wrap my arms around her, and tell her, “Mommy, I love you. You’re my favorite mom.”

It’s still true.

My mom is a beautiful, kind lady… she helps everyone everywhere she goes. She’s my best friend, my biggest supporter, and my best horse friend too. And today, we’ll be spending the day doing all of our favorite things, hiking, laughing, doing yoga, and playing with ponies… and I get to do it with my favorite mom.

*Cue the song My Favorite Things*

I’m so proud of her for reaching into the unknown and developing a new way of helping riders overcome stress and fear… one that’s empowering and honors the whole individual every step of the way. Here’s to many years of friendship and partnership in playing with ponies and helping others.

Lifestyle

Taking Care of Yourself v. Wishing for Something Different


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The idea of taking care of yourself versus wishing for something different.

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When you have the intention of taking care of yourself, it’s out of love. It feels good. Your movements or care-taking practices are centered around making sure that you are and feel supported to enjoy your life… so you can move, breathe, feel, and adapt throughout your day.

When you approach wellness practices from the perspective of wishing you were or had something different, there’s a certain amount of stress and pressure. You’re doing something so you can be different–which means if you aren’t different yet, you haven’t “gotten there” yet. Your actions have still not led to accomplishment. Until you are different, everything feels somewhat empty. Until you are different, everything is for the sake of an image, or a word. The enjoyment is taken out of the process–difficult times become setbacks, instead of opportunities to learn more about something or take care of yourself better, or feedback as to how you didn’t take care of and honor yourself fully. It becomes about the goal, rather than the journey. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that when you get there, you’ll recognize it or be satisfied with it. You’ve developed and become attached to the pattern of never being satisfied… of having pressure on yourself… of expecting something more, something different, something better. Unless you consciously become aware of and decide to change the pattern, you’ll likely remain there.

So, today, when doing your wellness practices, or even just when living your day… enjoy taking care of yourself. Enjoy honoring yourself. Enjoy adding to your day, this time in your life, this activity… Allow difficulties to come up, and appreciate the feedback or the knowledge you gain. And always, appreciate the time you take to take care of yourself. What a wonderful thing to do.

I find that when people approach wellness, bodywork, or their horses in this way… in light of taking care of and honoring, they get so much more out of everything. They absorb more, feel more, and grow more. They let go of more, and find more calm. They gain more from their challenges and their enjoyments. Because they’re here. They’re present. And they’re coming from a place of love.

 

I would like to add to this that I have nothing against goals–in fact, I think goals are wonderful for keeping yourself on track (so long as they’re adaptable, of course). While goals are not bad, I still think it’s nice to keep a primary intention of taking care of yourself or your horse, and then making secondary goals around that intention.

Lifestyle

Mind-Body Tools for Anxiety and Stress


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When you have anxiety or stress (whether general and all the time or over one event), there are a lot of free resources out there. There’s nothing wrong with being stressed–it’s a natural reaction. When we feel stressed, we’re doing our best to take care of and protect ourselves… but sometimes we get a little too stuck in our mental whirlwind.

Please note that I am not sponsored by any of these references and do not receive any compensation for the links. These are simply things I believe in. They’ve worked for me and I wanted to share.

 

Tools for Coming Back Into Your Body

Tapping

There are many resources on tapping. EFT and the Masgutova Method’s Fear Paralysis Reflex are the two that I am most familiar with. I personally choose to use the Fear Paralysis Reflex most of the time. Scroll further down the page for instructions and more information.

EFT has a lot of variations. Below is a basic selection of points from The Tapping
Solution.

Image result for EFT tapping points

Also, play with feeling areas that your body carries or stores emotional tension. Try tapping here. Tap gently, then more firmly. Use the palm of your hand, the heel of your hand, and just a couple of fingers. Tap on a stick or ball (like your hand is a hammer). Play with it. See what happens. Just remember–if you feel physical pain, do it lighter, more gently, or stop altogether. Pain is not the aim. Relaxation is.

 

Grounding and Breathing

Feel your feet. Feel how your feet are connected to the earth. Place a hand on your stomach. Breathe into your hand, expanding into your hand, and then softly releasing as you exhale. Ground into your feet again. Feel the weight of the earth supporting you. Rock softly on your feet, forward and back. Breathe deeply into your hand. Rock left to right on your feet, slowly and softly. Notice when you feel more balanced or more supported. Now rock around, just playing, finding where you feel most balanced and most supported by the earth. Once you find that spot, feel free to still rock ever so slightly, to keep a slight ebb and flow in your movement. Continue to breathe deeply into your hand.

There are many guided audios for grounding, and everyone has different preferences. There are some with music, and some without–and many different variations of grounding practices. I have not yet found one that is my favorite–rather, I use the above sequence.

 

Yoga with Adriene, yoga practices

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Adriene has multiple practices for stress, anxiety, peace or inner peace, and calm, all with different lengths. Many of her practices are free. Many are contemplative, some focus more on noticing different feelings in your body. She’s fun, quirky, and all her practices are light-hearted and meet you where you are. And sometimes her adorable dog joins her–even better. Pick the one that sounds like it will best fit your needs today. One of my favorites is actually the Listen practice.

Yoga with Adriene Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

Yoga with Adriene Listen practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTo07ejsYoQ

 

Yoga with Adriene, Meditation for Anxiety

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This is a breathing based meditation that encourages you to sit with the emotions that come up and then focus on the breath.

Yoga with Adriene Meditation for Anxiety practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pLUleLdwY4&t=2s

 

Stop. Breathe. Think. App

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This is a nifty little app I’ve often used over the years for simple, short guided meditation practices. I’ve only ever used the free version, but there are enough practices to support you for a few minutes. The woman’s voice is especially calming to me. I often use this to help me calm before going to sleep if I’m having trouble winding down.

Their website: https://www.stopbreathethink.com/

 

Easy breezy movement.

Don’t think about it–just blend your movements. Walk around, take some funny steps, move like a horse, maybe bring in a yoga pose–whatever it is, do it as soft and easy as you can. Flow. Move about the room if you can, or if you’re out in nature, step up and off a log… Enjoy your surroundings, enjoy yourself. Maybe turn on some music, whatever you find most relaxing. Just play in this space.

 

Take a walk.

A ten minute walk can put you in the parasympathetic nervous system for the rest of the day. We’re talking lowered cortisol levels, deeper breathing, softer movement that’s better for your body, less reactive, more adaptable, calmer, happier you. Don’t be worried about power walking, or even timing your watch. Just go out, breathe, and enjoy the day. If the weather’s too yucky to walk outside, try walking around slowly inside in curved lines while listening to calm music or looking out the windows. This helps you be less direct-lined and get more into the calm, flow state.

 

Walk outside barefoot, even for just a few minutes.

The connection to the earth is calming, and brings our attention more to our feet. Our feet have almost as many sensory nerves as our hands do. This helps bring us back into our bodies, and back in touch with nature–a much slower moving, more organic thing.

 

Soft senses.

We often have our laser beam focus on. Take a moment to soften your vision. Soften your hearing. Sit back a little bit. Take in a wider focus. Soften your senses some more. Allow the edges to blur. Maybe turn the corners of your lips up a little. Soften your face. Soften your vision and your hearing. Soften the space around your heart. Breathe softly. Blink softly. Smile softly. Soft eyes, soft ears. When you perceive the world through soft and big-picture lenses and hearing, you experience the world as a soft place, and mentally think more big picture, allowing you to not stress so much about the little things.

 

Thoughts on Shifting Perspectives

Loving-Kindness Meditation

I appreciate the free meditations by Barbara Frederickson, PhD. She used them with some of her Psychology and Mindfulness/Positive Psychology studies and now offers them for free to the public. What a nice gal. She also has a very soothing voice.

Barbara Frederickson’s LKM (there are multiple practices): http://www.positivityresonance.com/meditations.html

 

Gratitude

Taking a few minutes (or seconds) to write down what you’re grateful for and why can start to shift your perspectives to the things you love and appreciate rather than all the things you don’t love and wish didn’t exist. If that’s what you perceive, that’s your reality.

 

Positive Psychology–being aware of the positive

Positive Psychology is not about always being happy. It’s about continuously expanding our ability to be aware of positive things, have resilience in tough times, and be calm and enjoy our lives.

One of the fundamental concepts in positive psychology is the Broaden and Build Theory (by Barbara Frederickson, PhD). The idea is essentially that the more you begin to focus on positive elements in your life (or something else), the more your body expects that that is the normal way of living, and the more it broadens and builds over time, creating an exponential curve of growth in whatever thing you are implementing more intentionally.

If we intentionally bring positive perspectives (even of negative situations), loving-kindness, gratitude, and calmness into our lives, our bodies will naturally broaden and build on those elements in preparation for the next season–so it is more prepared to respond to that version of reality in the following season.

There are many different exercises you can do with this. Barbara Frederickson’s books or her Coursera Course with UNC at Chapel Hill are good resources. Here’s a couple of simple concepts:

Compassion

Choose to see things through the perspective of compassion, whether for yourself or others. Know that everyone is trying their best to honor and take care of their needs. They do not always carry out that intention positively, but they fundamentally meant well. We are all struggling. Extend compassion to yourself and to others when you find yourself getting frustrated.

Positivity Box

Keep a few photos or items in a box, or on your phone. These can be quotes, trinkets, doodles, or photographs you’ve taken. On a daily basis, look back through these things. Take time to appreciate them.

Recalling the Positive

After each day, write down (okay, summarize) all the positive things that happened that day–they can be things you appreciated, or things you loved, or things that simply made you smile. Many of us have access to food, water, and rest. We can all make choices. Even if this is all you can write down, do so. The idea with this is that not only are you remembering the positive things in the evening (thereby getting better sleep because you’re more relaxed and positive), you’re also looking for positive things the following day.

Barbara Frederickson’s Coursera Course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/positive-psychology

Her two books are Love 2.0 and Positivity. They are both lengthy but good, if you are looking for more of the “why”. They are available as audio books through audible.

Love 2.0: https://www.amazon.com/Love-2-0-Finding-Happiness-Connection/dp/0142180475/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529703023&sr=1-3&keywords=barbara+frederickson

Positivity:

https://www.amazon.com/Positivity-Top-Notch-Research-Reveals-Upward/dp/0307393747/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529703023&sr=1-1&keywords=barbara+frederickson

 

Know that you are doing your best to try to take care of and honor yourself.

Our bodies and minds are wired for survival. Likelihood of survival goes up when we are feeling well, doing well, and are able to respond well to a variety of situations. If we’re responding negatively something, it’s not because we wish to bring chaos to the world–it’s because we want to take care of ourselves or someone else, but we don’t know how, or we have insecurities or traumas that cause us to react emotionally instead of respond mindfully. Don’t be hard on yourself for this–everyone experiences this. Extend compassion to yourself and to others, and hope that they will do the same for you–but know that if they don’t, it’s only because they, too, are hurting, and are trying their best to honor and protect and maintain the safe version of reality that they have chosen for themselves.

 

Releasing You from a Physiological Stress Reflex

Masgutova Method Fear Paralysis Reflex protocol

If you do not have a practitioner near you, Svetlana’s Parents’ Guide to MNRI book has this reflex outlined in it. https://masgutovamethod.com/estore/featured/parents-guide-to-mnri

Another effective method to use is to tap on your sternum. Svetlana uses a Cha-Cha—Cha-Cha-Cha rhythm. I find this more soothing than a constant rhythm.

Another way to practice the Fear Paralysis reflex somatically is to lie on your back, and slowly curl up into a ball, bending your arms and legs into your center. Slowly come out of it, focusing on the expanding and lengthening. When you reach the table, simply lie in a neutral place and breathe deeply. Enjoy a feeling of peace. Repeat this a few times.

Another thing you can do with this–if you start to feel like you are freezing in fear, begin to tap on your chest, but then slowly use the idea of easy breezy movement to unlock yourself from this position. Even if you are walking, walk with some amount of ease and fluidity. Do not force yourself to walk in straight lines or very erect–allow softness and curved lines to come into your body and movement. Continue to tap while you flow in your body. Feel into the perspective that you can move forward–even if you cannot move directly forward. Ask yourself if there is another way to approach the situation that feels better to you. The important thing is to just keep moving. Release yourself from the pattern of freeze.

Please contact me to learn more about the Fear Paralysis Reflex, or to find out if other things could be added to your practice to help you.

 

Masgutova Method Moro Reflex Protocol

If you do not have a practitioner near you, Svetlana has some resources available on her website for the full protocol. These are designed to be done with two people. Parents’ Guide to MNRI has this reflex outlined in it. https://masgutovamethod.com/estore/featured/parents-guide-to-mnri

Another way you can practice Moro somatically is to go into extension with all of your joints, having your arms out diagonally away from you, mouth open, and then slowly come into flexion with all of your joints.

Repeat this a few times.

 

Cross-Body Connection

Cross your legs. Cross your arms, then turn your palms toward each other and interlace your fingers. Now rotate your hands back towards your body until they are on your chest. Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Breathe deeply. Hang out here.

 

Somatic Release–Green Light, Red Light, or Trauma Reflex protocol

I recommend finding a Hanna Somatic or other Somatic practitioner near you if you can. If you do not have access one, you can try the book, “Somatics”. You can also email me and set up a personal video coaching with a support document that will walk you through some of the exercises that you can do on your own.

Thomas Hanna’s book “Somatics”: https://www.amazon.com/Somatics-Reawakening-Control-Movement-Flexibility/dp/0738209570/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529702490&sr=8-1&keywords=somatics

Find a Hanna Somatic practitioner:

http://hannasomatics.com/index.php/find_a_practitioner

Please note: This is not a completely comprehensive list of practitioners who have finished the certification, only of those who maintain membership with this particular association. I also find that there are others who have not finished the certification, or who have done another somatic training, but are still very good practitioners. Note that I have not finished the Hanna Somatic certification. I use a variety of methods, including what I have learned from Hanna Somatics, but believe that the method is very valuable. The principles form the basis of my work.

 

For any of the movement or body methods listed above, I can do video coaching and create a support document for you. Please email me at kara@wellnessbasedhorsemanship.com if you are interested in more information.

 

If you find that you need more help shifting perspectives or with the emotional side of wellness and growth, my mom does phone sessions with mental wellness coaching and life coaching. Please email her at brita@wellnessbasedhorsemanship.com for more information.

Lifestyle

Growing Organically (and I don’t mean food)


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642I know I’m not the only one who struggles with growth–that is, not just doing it, but the way you do it.

When I want to grow in a certain direction, I tend to overthink it. Then I work toward it–but it never seems like it’s happening quickly enough. It might be slow, or disorganized, or not quite in the way or the order that I thought it would happen.

Growth is a funny thing. We can work toward it and wish for it and also make a bullet point list in order of chronological benchmarks, but like anything else in life, it rarely works out exactly accordingly with all those lists or ideas we create.

Instead of making lists and ideas of every component you wish to create, try setting an intention. Decide on a feeling or a quality you want to create. Imagine it–really, imagine what it would be like in real life, with both the good stuff… and the bad stuff (or at least less than ideal stuff) that comes with that.

In mind and movement, find that quality as much as you can. Then start to live and expand in that. Don’t expect yourself to do a certain number of repetitions a day, or complete a certain checklist in any specific time. Just feel your quality or intention, and then learn to live in that quality or intention. You’ll find that what you’re looking for isn’t really out there… somewhere. It’s right here. You just have to water it, plant it in sunlight, love it a lot, throw in some… ahem… fertilizer… and let it grow organically.

Lifestyle

Easter, the little things, and loving the imperfect journey


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Happy Easter everyone!

This morning, my mom and I had a lovely little morning tea time out next to the horses to celebrate Easter. We were sharing thoughts and ideas and talking about what Easter meant to us… kind of like spring’s New Year, and talking about just “being”, and love, and kindness, and the everyday beautiful stuff of life.

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I read a poem that I had written the night before about being fully present and enjoying different little moments of life, and metaphorically planting a path of flowers that led to a secret garden that was no longer secret, where I flung the door open and invited everyone to play or sit in my garden of a little bit of everything. We read one of my favorite childrens’ books–Everyday Angels–about how “angels” are everywhere, in the peaceful moments, in nature, in love, and in little acts of kindness. I lingered on each page long after I had finished reading it to admire the beautiful art, just as I did as a child. We listened to a song called “This Sweet Love” about just being and sweet love… we laughed, and told stories, and sat next to each other while breathing in Heartflow, and fully appreciating the sky, and the beautiful warm breeze, the little spring flowers, and the sweet smell of baby grass and clover, our joyful dogs who were running about and periodically visiting with us, and each others’ company.

Easter Nale
Finale checking in to see what all the Easter stuff is about.

We talked about how grateful we are for our wonderful horses, and admired their beauty. I mentioned that it’s easy, with starting Wellness Based Horsemanship, to have moments of being concerned about what others will think of your horses, your practice, and your training just by looking at pictures or the movement of your horse. We talked about how others probably often feel similarly–and how as we feel self-conscious about ourselves, many of us simultaneously reach out with full encouragement and support to our equally less-than-perfect friends, trainers, and even strangers who share this amazing love of horses.

This Easter, I’d love for you to feel the spring season, and the everyday beautiful things, and love and kindness, and also to reflect on your relationship with your horses and yourself… Despite all of us not being “perfect,” or still not moving “perfectly,” give yourself the gift of the same support and encouragement that you would so readily give to someone else. Our own horses have given us so much knowledge, love, and experience. They have taught me what it means to approach horsemanship and wellness with horses not just from the perspective of wanting to improve performance, but also from the perspective of sincerely wanting to help my friends (both four and two-legged) feel and live better–with more openness, confidence, and joy. The truth is, you never “get there” with your horses… there are always things that can be improved. And what a joy that is–to be on a journey of growth with another beautiful, imperfect partner.

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Lifestyle

Moving Forward, New Beginnings


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My mom and I are beginning to shift the direction of Wellness Based Horsemanship… It’s no longer just a personal journey. It’s starting to evolve into something more.

We’re in the process of developing a business that supports riders to develop wellness for themselves and their horses through the integration of wellness based horsemanship and holistic wellness practices.

For the time being we’ll begin sharing our ideas and some of our sneak-peak material for future programs and learning material. I’ll be available to support riders and their horses through bodywork sessions and by teaching riders simple bodywork and body releasing methods they can use themselves.

If you aren’t following the blog, I would encourage you to follow it now! There will be lots of new things coming up in the coming months, and we’re excited and ready to share them with you!

With love,

Kara