Choose Wisely

Preparing for a Swim

Day to day. Task to task. Turtle step to turtle step. Breath to breath. We make choices all our lives. Our thoughts lead us around by the nose and define our emotions by ruling our choices.

My goal is to swim a mile every day – 36 laps. Each day it gets easier. Each day I make the choice to swim or not.  Lap 10 is a milestone because I started with 10 laps and that took me longer then than 36 laps take me now.  My daily swim has become a moving meditation.

Getting to the gym is the only hard part. Once I’m there I’m eager to slip into the cool water. Gearing up – swim cap, goggles, heart rate monitor, swim-fin gloves – is filled with anticipatory glee.  That first underwater dive to go between lanes under the ropes feels wonderful. I’ve always loved being under water from the time I was a little girl having tea parties at the bottom of the pool with imaginary friends.

I choose to swim totally mindful of the water against my skin, the air I continuously blow, the bubbles, the chlorine in my nose, the arc of my arm as I raise it for another stroke and how far out and smoothly, I’m reaching into the water with each down stroke. Sometimes I drink it, snort it or chock on it, too, and that is an experience to be mindful of. Whether I panic or return to mindfulness is a choice.

Why did I resist this practice for so long? Why would I choose NOT to do something that gives me so much pleasure? And which is so healthy? And which makes my body feel better than it does on the days I don’t swim? It was my thought – pure and simple. No time. No strength. No endurance. Can’t afford it. The list was endless and boring – until there was nothing left on that list.

Taking that much time for ‘just me’ was impossible for a long time because of all the thoughts I had which made me think everything and everybody else came first. By analyzing the thoughts driving that thinking I was able to change my life for the better.

How do you examine your thoughts? Start by listening, observing and noticing which thoughts make you happy and which thoughts make you sad or mad or retreat. Decide which thoughts you want to keep on thinking … or not. Where did they come from?  The majority of our thought programming occurs before we are 5 years old. As we grow up, we have the opportunity to decide if the thoughts our parents, siblings, love interests, environment, advertising, religion, and culture ‘gave’ us are ones we really believe and want to embrace as our own thoughts.

This is not always easy. According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, people may think as many as 65,000 thoughts per day. And 95% of the thoughts a person thinks one day will be the same thoughts they thought the previous day.  (Deepak Chopra, Quantum Healing)

You might find a friend you trust, or a life coach, who can be your surrogate observer, to help you notices and change habitual negative thoughts.

It will be life changing. It will improve your relationship with yourself and every other person you interact with.

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Freedom – what does it mean to you?

What does freedom mean to you?

As United States citizens our freedoms are being expanded in some areas and challenged by government efforts to keep us safe in others. We can’t necessarily control these circumstances instantaneously. There are many places in our lives where we can gain control and that’s the most freeing thing we can do for ourselves, our loved ones and the rest of humanity.

This isn’t a political diatribe. It is a call to keep our bodies and brains safe from internal, self-motivated pollution.

Sane-itizing your thinking and healing our relationships are both free activities and create a life of freedom from the debilitating effects of fear, hate, anger, envy, jealousy, humiliation, shame, defeatism, racism, and … the list goes on and on.

Inspired by my training as a Martha Beck Life Coach, and The Work, developed by Byron Katie, I challenge us to think about freedom from our limiting thoughts.

The place we need to start is by becoming aware of our thoughts. Are they generally kind and loving? When are they not? Who are our non-loving thoughts directed toward? Ourselves? If so, that’s the best place to start to heal our thoughts – with the one we have the most intimate and potentially rewarding relationship – ourselves.

The next time you think a harsh, unkind or hateful thought about your talents, skills, body, potential, your future or your past, stop and ask yourself “Is that true?” This one question asked by itself will start to shift your thinking but taking it further produces big rewards. This is the first of the 4 questions that comprise The Work of Byron Katie. By using these four questions you will be able to transform your thinking in ways that will free you up to be happier, and, as a result, to be healthier.

It can be frightening and hard to question your thinking by yourself. Give it a try. It helps to write the answers out, especially when you get to the trickier process of turning your negative thoughts around to a healthier, more positive thought.

To really dig into the harder thoughts it can be helpful to work with an objective friend or a life coach.

You can access all of The Work at www.thework.com. All of her worksheets are free and you can see videos of her working with people through the process.

Happy Transformations!