I spoke with experts, doctors, and spiritual teachers.
I asked these high achievers about their fears and how they move through them to live the life they love. ----------------------------------------------------
Caralyn Ferrier has been a massage therapist for the last ten years. When she was just starting out she would get SO NERVOUS before her sessions. Her teachers were used to this newbie nervousness, so smartly taught her and her cohort to ground into their own bodies and wellbeing prior to giving massage.
Below you will find three ways to get into your body.
What are three concrete ways you soothe yourself?
1. Pranayama - Breath work
Inhale slowly until your lungs are completely full. Hold your breath for a few moments, and then exhale long and slow. Hold your breath at the bottom of your exhale. Inhale long and slow. Repeat until you feel a sense of relief.
2. "Ring the Temple Bell"
Ringing the Temple Bell is a qi-gong practice designed to help you tap back in to your own divinity.
Stand with feet hip width apart. Pivot at your waist and let your arms swing without exerting any effort with them. Just allow them to swing. As you gain momentum they will land and hit your body on the front and back. continue until you want to stop or you feel extra pulsing in your hands.
3. Shake out your hands
In the Chinese tradition the heart is an extension of the hands. Meridian lines, a pathway that life force flows along, runs straight from the heart out into our hands and provides us an opportunity to put love into action in the world.
First, just let your hands shake any old which way.
Then, shake them like you are turning door knobs.
Finally, make wide circles with your arms.
Find Caralyn at Body Work Bistro in Boulder Colorado - She is also an INCREDIBLE musician and co-wrote this beautiful song with me:
It was as if he had suddenly learned to speak my language.
I listened to the song on repeat for a little while and let it carry me as I drove home that night, as I ran and showered the next day, and a few days after while cruising in the car with my friends.
How have you shared yourself and enhanced someone else's experience lately?
It's a way to connect that is long lasting, and is as simple as hitting send as soon as you think of the other person. It lets them know you are thinking about them in a way that adds value to their life.
++I actually DON'T think that FOCUS on NOT WORRYING is effective, but I do love this song - check out the spotify song of the week playlist for all the songs we have covered so far. My intention is to add to the list EVERY WEEK! ++
I use symbols from the universe to let me know I am on the right track in my life. I find it so comforting.
My symbol is the wind chime. If I see a wind chime I pay attention - what was I thinking? Where am I? What am I doing? And I am often delighted.
What is your symbol? If you don't have one already pick a symbol that is meaningful to you - often animals are used. If you get stuck I can guide you through it.
In truth I dont believe you can ever be off your spiritual path, but I found a wind chime outside Malaine Snow’s door today and we had the most magical time together! (Update.... two years later Malaine has become a leading member of The Leaders of the Heart! 💗💗💗)
Malaine is just back to Boulder and guided me into my body and into my own divinity with massage. It was downright blissful.
Massage is one of the best ways to help the nervous system relax. It releases endorphins and relives tension on the body that can feel like anxiety even when it is not.
She is a singer, ceremony facilitator and massage therapist. If you live on the front range get in touch and I will connect you!
I spoke with experts, doctors, and spiritual teachers.
I asked these high achievers about their fears and how they move through them to live the life they love. ----------------------------------------------------
"Justin, Tell us about time you felt anxious"
Before going on stage in front of 3000 people following the heavy hitters John Kabat Zin and Byron Katie - I felt extraordinarily nervous.
I was on a raised stage, and it was a giant conference room, so there was this sea of people. It kind of looked like the ocean horizon ... and I was staring into an abyss.
I had previously done a talk for Ted- X. With the Ted - x crowd I felt like i could really connect with individual people, but in this crowd I didn't know how. At Ted I was running on such high adrenaline that I didn't even feel the effects of the mezcal shots I did before speaking.
I felt like I was floating head, but when I told my first story, introduced myself as a filmmaker/contemplative psychologist and explained that it meant I was a more or less just a "Type A Buddhist" everyone laughed. I felt so relieved.
I then felt a little bit more relaxed. I will say that I was so nervous I don't really remember speaking - but people said I did a great job.
Bringing humor to my talks relaxes me but when a joke lands flat it can feel even worse up there....
When I spoke at the World Conservation Conference alongside Jane Goodall, I made a specific point to enjoy myself and remember that I was there to have fun.
I didn't even need the two shots of mezcal that I took before my Ted talk.
This time, I was there to have fun.
"What are three ways you soothe yourself before speaking?"
I stretch before I give talks. I stretch especially my lower body to feel my energy of my body grounding.
When I am nervous my energy raises higher and higher in my body, so much so that when I am super nervous I can become a floating talk box.
2. Tie Those Shoes Tight
I tie my shoes really tight.
Because it helps me feel grounded and stable. I can feel my feet on the floor. I got that tip from a slam poet.
3. Self Talk & Mental Imagery
I remind myself that I want to have a good time. If I am having a good time its more likely that other people will have a good time and if they don't it doesn't matter because.....
I am having good time!
I imagine people I really care about in the crowd or that they are there if I am at a networking event. It makes me feel like I can be myself and relax.
What's new and upcoming with you? How can readers connect with you?
Justin is speaking at Boulder Earth Week on April 19th at 6:30 pm about the importance of using humor to connect people to the environmental movement. He will make you laugh. To get tickets click here.
He is currently fundraising for a bigger Nature Rx Kids project to get little ones connected to the outdoors.
If you want to contribute to or sponsor upcoming projects go to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.nature-rx.org
Does Nature Have a Marketing Problem?
Justin Bogardus's is a filmmaker and speaker. His film career was rooted in New York City for over a decade, producing award-winning documentaries and television about wrongful convictions and post-conviction DNA exonerations. In 2010, he moved to Boulder, Colorado to open his own production companies. In 2015 Bogardus launched the award-winning NatureRx series (Mountainfilm 2015), a hilarious satire that explores the cure to society’s ills: a deeper connection and relationship to nature. The effectiveness and innovativeness of Bogardus and his storytelling has led to several worldwide speaking engagements about how to better market nature and social causes. In 2016 Bogardus was a featured speaker at TEDxVail, Wisdom 2.0 (sharing the main stage with Russell Simmons, Prince Ea, Eileen Fisher, Ram Das, Jack Kornfield, Jon Cabot-Zinn, CEOs of Google/Yahoo), and the IUCN World Conservation Congress (sharing the stage with Jane Goodall, speaking about next generation engagement), along with other speaking events.
As part of my intention to be a ever better host for and channel of sound, I am starting a weekly post that features a song I LOVE at the moment.
I will start with my sweet Valerie June. At the end of this article you will find how this weekly post can be of benefit to you as you create the life you love and push the edges of your unknown.
I first heard the haunting asian-style chord progression of Man Done Wrong from bed as I was waking in the morning. Sleep shaking off of me, Valerie June's simple lyrics and stunning arrangements entered into me without resistance and shot straight into my heart. I fell in love HARD.
She is the kind of artist that I LOVE to find. Someone whose music is so moving that you listen on repeat for weeks while you sit back and watch as the songs allow more of you to emerge. Their art makes a process of self discovery so enjoyable.
I had a moment driving down the canyon after spending some time in the mountains by the creek this week. Long Lonely Road was playing as I cruised around a corner. The sun hit just right through the bare trees. I felt the relief of opening and gratitude for life itself. She may never know how her music touches and enhances our lives, but those are the most precious kinds of benefit. Spirit. Alive.
I feel so much permission in her voice. I know that in this world we often feel that we are not enough. I could easily see a Valerie June in some of my clients who might think that their unique sound is not "right or "good enough" because they haven't seen it in pop culture. Valerie June's voice is truly her own and I am grateful that she has embraced it and taken it out into the world as a reminder to all of us to ride the animal of our own beautiful, strange and simple sounds.
Thank you Valerie June!
Check back next week to discover another amazing artist who I am moving and shaking to.
Here is how sharing others work can be of benefit to ourselves and each other - the lesson in the practice:
I feature artists who are stellar and share their gifts for their benefit, of mine and for yours. Send me your favorites, or YOUR OWN songs if you want to be featured. It just might happen. This is all about connection - giving and receiving.
In my work as a therapist I noticed that the youth I worked with had one MAIN coping skill in common. It was MUSIC. Their music allowed them to access their feelings. Whether it was SCREAMO that allowed them to feel pissed, Moby that allowed them to feel numb or Rihanna that allowed them to feel sexy, it was the listening that provided access to their felt sense emotions.
Look around and admire. Draw out the qualities you love to see in people. Celebrate the victories of other humans. I love to see genius expressing. Calling it out makes it more.
I wonder what I could learn 4 months, or a year from now, having shared, celebrated and praised someone else's work. I want to push myself to grow. How are you growing in your life right now?
I spoke with experts, doctors, and spiritual teachers.
I asked these high achievers about their fears and how they move through them to live the life they love. -------------------------------------------------------------------
Expand your horizons into the sunrises and starscapes of far off lands.
Aaron has been working with youth in either challenging settings or internationally since 2004. This means he has 13 years of experience. He told me that at this time he has witnessed a dramatic increase in students with anxiety.
In fact, he estimates that students with anxiety on Dragon's trips has increased from 1-2 out of 12 students up to 6-7 out of 12.
That means OVER HALF the students now present with some sort of anxiety and it is one of the most common challenges they see in their programs. This is to say, you are not alone.
When I asked, he attributed the rise in anxiety to social media and several other factors.
"There seems to be a self-consciousness that comes with curating an online presence," he said.
"Youth is a time of figuring out who you are. Online, you can re - define your identity and get immediate feedback. This can create a hyper awareness of identity. Awareness of how they are putting 'the self' into the world is heightened because everything is documented."
This creates a paradox of fluidity and rigidity. Leaving both little room for exploration and a LOT of room at the same time. The result? Tension.
He also noted the availability of information, having an overwhelming amount of options, normal parental pressures, and the TOTALLY UNIVERSAL desire to be loved and liked as contributing factors.
Aaron, What are three concrete ways you help students learn to thrive in the face of anxiety?
((He gave me FOUR ways! Check out the wealth of information below))
Aaron said, the benefit of travel is that we end up asking,
"When all my identity markers go away, who am I?"
It is an opportunity to learn and grow outside of the context of the normal self that often makes us feel in control and safe.
This feeling can be, "scary but powerful..".
It's a chance to "embrace ambiguity and give up control - I think a lot of anxiety centers around control. You are very vulnerable when you travel." Thus your sense of being out of control is heightened.
Here are his tips:
1. The power of vulnerability and embracing ambiguity...
"I talk a lot with students about mindset - I help them understand where they have control and where they dont have control," he said.
Then they can start to make certain empowering choices, but they can also relax into where they do not have control. This limits options, which can help the mind and body relax.
2. Boundaries - scheduled check in - with a set amount of time...
We had one student who was very anxious. She went through 12 journals on her trip!
Her thoughts were very intense for her. She had the capacity to write for three hours at a time on a thought loop that kept re-stimulating the anxiety she was experiencing.
((Just imagine if that energy were pointed in a creative direction rather than a loop - there is a LOT of power there))
"We needed to set up structured times for her to check in for her sanity and for ours."
*You can do this for yourself with friends, family, or a coach if you choose to travel outside a program, or, request this if you choose to travel with a program.*
Structured check ins soothe the nervous system by helping you see that someone is there to support you in the future - where your anxiety lives - and that the anxious feeling is not actually an indication of an emergency.
Over time, you begin to trust this. In part, this is how coaching and therapy can work. First, you learn you are safe with a mentor, and then you are able to self-contain until the set time.
Now this student LIVES in Indonesia with her BOYFRIEND!
I would say that strategy worked.
3. Breathing and mediation techniques...
"This is a preventative strategy that I use with ALL my students. This way, when the stressors arrive or panic attacks happen, I can help them recall a skill that they are already cultivating. Additionally, they don't feel singled out or like something is wrong with them. Meditation and breath work can benefit everyone."
These morning sits ((ROUTINE!)) create a common framework for all the kids.
((Routine can go with you everywhere))
This also creates AWARENESS ((woot woot!)) of when they are caught in a thought pattern.
They can begin to see where they do not have control over the outcome of a situation and are just ruminating. Once we are aware we can make a change.
Aaron says this an an opportunity to explore self identify. He asks students how they get into their body and provides some options such as social connection (eye contact, talking etc), breathing practices, writing, physical activity and other tools to get out of the pattern.
4. The capacity to think through self criticism...
Often people with anxiety are sensitive to subtle cues from people around them.
((This can come from trauma, but often people with anxiety ascribe negative facial or mood cues to themselves and become self aggressive)).
They think that the other person is thinking something bad about them. Many students with social anxiety assume that their host family doesnt like them.
((Oh hey! Self love is the antidote my loves)).
Aaron suggests the student walk themselves through the thought pattern and look for alternate reasons for the host family's response. This can be helpful to do with another human.
Ultimately, travel will change you.
It will open you to potentials far greater than your sense of self at this time.
However, you have to be willing to surrender that old self in exchange for something new, something unknown. The unknown is often where we find the sharpe edges of our fear.
At the end of our discussion, I said "Wow, you have had so many success stories here." And he said, "There are failures too. Some kids go home."
It occurred to me then that going home is always an option and it doesn't necessarily mean failure, although it might feel like it in the moment...
Aaron's job is create a WORLD of compassion, connection and awareness.
When you step outside of your comfort zone into more awareness you are doing yourself and the world a great service. Your willingness to learn with eyes and heart open from other cultures will only serve to create humanity rooted in peace and compassion.
Do you want to travel? You can.
These types of programs can provide a HUGE amount of support while helping you to feel a little safer while pushing your edges to grow. Reach out to me too, if you want support. We can get you there.
Aaron Slosberg is Director of Programming for Where There be Dragons.
Dragon's has adult, gap year, and youth travel programs that will expand your horizons and have you learning and growing in ways that will surprise and delight you.
Aaron’s love of learning has brought him to over 25 countries around the globe as a student, teacher, and traveler. Aaron has spent over 600 days in the field as a Dragons Instructor in Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Indonesia. His current passion is discovering ways to integrate positive psychology research into experiential education. He is a Wilderness First Responder, avid surfer, and believer in the power of travel to transform us into a more just, compassionate, and awake world.
B.A., Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Study of Religion and History; University of California–Los Angeles. M.A., History; University of California–Los Angeles.
I spoke with experts, doctors, and spiritual teachers. I asked these high achievers about their fears and how they move through them to live the life they love.
Check out this interview with a woman who I cannot say enough wonderful words about.
She has held me in community in my most vulnerable moments, created space for my voice and sees the magic of source pouring through me and all of her students.
Please savor her wisdom. It is true nourishment.
"Melissa, tell me a short story of time you felt nervous, anxious or were faced with the unknown and the feelings you experienced." She says,
All too often, these days, I find myself processing fear.
Whether it is trying to alchemize the onslaught of daily news, or setting sail to work with youth in a war torn country, or showing up to lead a dance event with an unfamiliar group of people… it is common for me to experience the rushing reality of fear moving through my body.
I have learned what that all too familiar buzzing and burning feeling inside me is saying.
Sitting with the sensations,I first listen inside. Sometimes, allI can do is allow the intensity to inform me that I must make a change immediately, move away from a situation if I can.
Other times,I simply ride it, recognizing that actually danger is not afoot. By breathing into the intensity, the fear can naturally transform into excitement.
I am able to see that what I am afraid of is sometimes exactly what I want the most.
What are 3 concrete specific ways that you soothe yourself so you can enjoy the experience you are creating?
1) Moment by moment,
I am either dancing or contracting. I am either in flow or in flight, in fight, or in freeze.
In order to find my fluid being in the face of fear, often all I have to do is watch and track my body.
With that said, if I am out of my body or shut down in my body, I generally do not have the capacity to see my body. Often I must begin by working from the outside in.
Can I smell the spicy food cooking downstairs? What does my skin feel like when I gently touch my arms, my legs, my cheeks? I focus my gaze on something beautiful to me, landing me back into contact with something in the here and now. As I then begin to orient, I can track myself more clearly. Is my breath shallow? My shoulder curled in? My knees knocking, literally?
Moving from the outside in, I can then begin to find my ground in my sensations. Note what is happening inside my body at this very moment.
Can I feel anything? If so, where? What does it feel like? Sensations? Colors? Patterns of movement? Contracted and frozen? No sensation? Burning? Pulsing? Racing? Twitching? Itching? Throbbing? It is mild? Intense? What is the quality of my breath. Shallow? Fast? Upper torso only?
Just being with this rich inner landscape is a way to begin to shift my focus from being overwhelmed by fear to simply just being here with whatever is really happening.
2) Once connected with this ground of being, I let myself fully honor the fear, listen deeply to it’s reality.
What feels unsafe? What is scaring me? No judgement, just true open space to be freely and fully afraid. With curiosity and kindness, I hang out intimately with myself in this state. I befriend fear. It is my ally. What is it telling me? I offer myself enormous empathy, no matter what the nature of the fear.
3) From there, I slow everything down and observe what is really going on outside myself. I orient towards safety, if possible, moving away from the danger, whether real or fabricated.
I may ask for help if too much to see clearly. Above all, I pray. I resource through connecting with nature, dancing, writing, singing, and more prayer.
This whole process can happen in a few seconds or over a long period of time. I continue to listen from within, noticing how my energy shifts as inner and outer resourcing happens. I continue to make choices in my outer moves that respect the fear without letting it compulsively create contraction in my life.
How you can connect with Melissa and her powerful work:
Melissa Michaels, Ed.D., guides individuals and communities through major life transitions. As a “soul midwife” and mentor to emerging leaders around the world, she has created Surfing The Creative, a rite of passage process that links somatics, youth development, and peace-building.
Her newly released book, Youth On Fireshares the story of this life-changing work as it has unfolded in diverse settings ranging from inner city schools to college campuses, and from refugee settlements to the United Nations.
Melissa is also the founder of GoldenBridge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to our collective renewal through the liberation of the creative Spirit.
Join her moving community every Sunday in Boulder for Movement Mass.
I spoke with experts, doctors, and spiritual teachers. I asked these high achievers about their anxiety and how they move through it to live the life they love.
Check out this interview with one of my heros, Derek Rydall.
"Derek, Tell me a short story of time you felt anxious "
Besides most of my life??? I remember a time early on in the development of my business where I wanted to invest in some coaching and marketing support but it was as much as my rent. I was very anxious and frustrated.
I was afraid I would make a mistake and go broke or be evicted.
But I felt this inner resonance that was trying to pull me into a bigger life. I resisted it for months, waiting to have more money, more answers, more something!
As a result my life got harder, I become more stuck...until
I finally relented and said YES to my inner yes.
A month later, I had earned back the investment. The next month I had earned 5 times as much -- and I never went back to that level. It taught me to live more by 'insight' than eyesight. And it has allowed me to grow my life over and over, regardless of conditions.
Derek, What are 3 concrete specific ways that you soothe yourself so you can enjoy the experience you are creating?
In general, my intention is to continually upgrade my life so that I live in an environment and have a 'way of living' that is in integrity with my highest vision. The more I do that, the more peace, love, joy, and abundance emerge!
Derek, Tell us, What’s new and upcoming? How can readers find you?
There's always a lot emerging around here! But if people want some powerful support in creating the best year of their life and fulfilling the deep purpose for which they were born, they can check out the following FREE resources: A free mini eCourse and audio course on the revolutionary principle, The Law of Emergence: http://www.lawofemergence.com/
Self expression is one of the pieces that is most often left out of anxiety relief programs.
Think about it. And you'll see.
When I was in grad school to be a psychotherapist participation was a REQUIREMENT. I knew I had to raise my hand and speak up once in every class or my grades would be negatively effected.
I set a goal for myself. I would speak in every class. Every time.
This is a really typical technique for working with anxiety called exposure therapy. Sometime I would really be fine. Sometimes the room would grow and shrink, I would shake, sweat and even cry from the physical symptoms of fear. I look back on myself at that time so lovingly.
My nervous system was so whacked out by my choice, but my will to thrive was SO STRONG.
You don't have to go through this like I did.
What I noticed was the following process:
1) I would have something to say or ask arise in my consciousness 2) I would feel my heart start to beat harder and sweat start to pool in my palms. I would start to be nauseous. 3) I would sit on my impulse to share. 4) I would get increasingly physically uncomfortable. 5) I would beat myself up for not sharing and for being anxious. 6) I would raise my hand and say the thing. 7) I would go over the thing in my head a million times after the fact trying to asses if I was okay.
This insanity was HELL for me. It was absolutely awful. But, it was how I discovered that authentic and satisfying self expression is an enormous part of living an anxiety free life.
I started my "Letters to an Ex-boyfriend" series after going through a bad breakup. All I wanted to do was get through to him so he could see and understand the pain I was going through. It was about as satisfying as hurling myself repeatedly into a brick wall. It didn't work. At all.
It was then that I sat down and began to write.
What I wanted was to share myself. I wanted to be seen as me in all my mess and wisdom, I wanted to transmute my pain into connection, belonging and growth. And this is exactly what happened.
It wasn't satisfying to share with him. It was incredibly satisfying to share with the world. I got more comments on my posts, more messages in my inbox, more communication about topics that were interesting and really mattered to me like self love, body shaming, anxiety soothing, and more. I got more phone calls, more opportunities to connect with people who could really see my wisdom that EVER before.
It felt like a miracle.
Weeks later an anxious but highly creative and successful friend went through a breakup and he asked me for advice knowing I had recently had my heart to the fire.
I shared with him my break through, about finding a way to express himself that would ACTUALLY be SATISFYING for him. He tried it out and it WORKED!!!!
For me it's not enough to just create my songs, or write. I want to share it. Then I want to talk about it with people. I want to share resources, and chew on ideas.
What would satisfying expression look like to you? Share below. Feel free to read through the "Letters to an Ex-boyfriend" series. It is a beautiful work of art full of gems on self love and actualization. It is a how to teaching on taking our most painful moments and transforming them into creative growth.
Every once in a while I drink a little tooooo much and suffer the consequences of a hangover.
Read to the end for a habit hack to reduce use or quit drinking all together.
Often times people with anxiety use alcohol, tv, and other drugs, to numb out the intensity of your feelings. THEN the next day the anxiety comes back even worse because you've changed your serotonin levels and left yourself depleted.
I used to feel so ashamed when I did this. I would never want you to know this about me.
I used to beat myself up, globalize doom and gloom thinking and tell myself that I will never drink again etc etc.
Of course, that didn't work and I would still do what I do to relax. I have learned through loving myself to take such incredible care of my body.
Our behaviors are patterns of cues, unconscious action and reward. So when you want to make a significant change you have to work with the cues or the rewards. During the habitual behavior itself your brain activity literally drops! So here is that habit hack I promised you: I started to work with my hangover shame in addition to the drinking itself.
1) Find a replacement behavior for the habit. I drink fizzy waters instead of wine. There are lots of great calorie free drinks that make great replacement drinks.
2) Focus on changing one part of the entire pattern. If you zoom out the pattern might be larger than you were originally seeing. For me it was the hangover shame. I decided that when I got hungover I would treat myself really sweetly, love myself, talk to myself.
As a result of shifting my shame I now drink a lot less often, drink less when I do drink, and if I do over do it and get a hangover I take good care of myself so I am not feeding into the larger pattern of stress.
Let me know how you are shifting your patterns to live a healthier life!