Reducing stress is the best way we can take care of ourselves no matter what's going on in our lives.
What does it mean to have SELF care?
It means that you treat yourself like you'd like to be treated. You're so busy taking care of other people that we often neglect taking care of ourselves.
But when we take care of ourselves, it enables you to care for others. It starts with taking care of yourself.
This is a picture of the path that I traveled at the Chopra Center, when I became a meditation teacher, yoga teacher, and Ayurveda teacher.
As I walked this path each day during the teacher training, it reminded me that I have the skills to take better care of myself. It just means I have to remember to use them.
And that's what I'm hoping to do with you today is to give you an opportunity to take a few minutes and see how just a few minutes is going to help you reduce your stress and take exquisite care of yourself.
So let's talk about stress for a minute. Take a deep breath with me here.
Just think about it for a moment. See what happens to your body, how you tighten, maybe in your jaw or your neck or your back or your stomach. See what happens to your body when you think about the things that are stressing you – it may be a relationship that you're in, it may be something at work. It might be what's going on in the world today. It might be something that you have to finish that you haven't finished yet. It might be a project that you haven't started yet. Just think about what's causing you stress.
Then we're going to work today for just a few minutes on how to reduce that stress. One of the ways you do that is to meditate.
And what does it mean to meditate?
It can often mean just focusing on your breath for a couple minutes.
It doesn't mean you have to sit cross legged on the floor for 30 minutes at a time where you just go to a moment where nothing is in your mind, because there's always going to be something going on in your mind. You're human, you're alive. You're thinking. And we often think about 60,000 thoughts a day. For those of us, myself included with ADD, I often think I've got a hundred thousand thoughts a day.
Meditation gives you an opportunity to stop listening to your thoughts, to just take a few breaths, go inside and allow yourself to be present.
And we'll talk a little bit more about that in this session, but meditation, even if you do a two minutes, even when I do it for two minutes, if I just tell myself the constant churning of my mind is not the only thing that I can listen to.
And if I focus on my breath for even two minutes, and drop down for my busy mind, into my heart and then pick up what I was doing right before I started that two minute meditation,
I feel that I'm being more soul-led more SELF-led and less ego-led by tuning in for just a couple of moments.
And the other thing to do is to move. Meditating is one way to reduce stress, but let's also remember to move because as you move, you're going to allow yourself to get the blood flowing.
Think about adding yourself to a walk with someone you care about or all by yourself. Even – I tell my clients – go outside for five minutes and then walk back for five minutes. It doesn't have to be an hour. It doesn't have to be going to the Botanic. It doesn't have to be meeting up with someone.
It just is the ability to move your body and be outside if you can or move your body inside and do some stretches, do some yoga.
The more you move your body, the more you reduce your stress and another way is to breathe.
Let's everybody take a deep breath, inhale, exhale. And my friend, davidji my friend and mentor,talks about his 16- second reboot.
He inhales for a count of four, holds for four, exhales for four ,and holds for four.
So let's try that. Just inhale...two, three, four, hold two, three, four, exhale, two, three, four, hold two, three, four.
So imagine if you did that, if you're communicating with someone and you get triggered by something they say, and you allowed yourself 16 seconds, just to go inside, quiet your mind, not react, but respond from your higher SELF.
Imagine how much more compassionate our communication could be.
What you can do is just breathe.
And with that 16 second reboot, davidji often talks about going into a room. You put your hand on the knob of the door, inhale, turn the knob hold, enter the room, exhale,hold for four. And you've already changed your state, your energy just by taking a breath.
Remember wherever you are, you can just breathe.
Stay in the Present.
This is my favorite spot at the Botanic gardens in Chicago and whatever I sit here, it just reminds me to be present, to let go of what's ever bothering me, and to show up in the present moment.
As you do, no matter what's going on in your mind, remember that your mind is not the only aspect of who you are.
You're a body, mind and spirit. As Rumi says, “You're not just the drop in the ocean. you're the entire ocean in a drop.”
When you meditate, when you breathe, when you drop down from your head to your heart, you're dropping into that deeper expression of who you are.
You are dropping into your soul.
From that place, you get a different perspective on what's going on in your life.
And this might be the sign you're looking for to just go inside and quiet for a little bit,
We look outside of ourselves or we believe every thought that we think. Instead, if we go inside, we're allowing ourselves to get in touch with our ability to compassionately communicate – we connect to our highest and best self, that best version of ourself, where we're calm, clear, connected, compassionate.
It's when we look at our life from a higher level of consciousness where we're not reacting.
Connect to our best self in compassionate communication, and we give ourselves permission to let go of our limiting beliefs. We don't have to believe every thought. We think Byron Katie does some great work with the Work.
There's a lot of different ways to question your thoughts and create new thoughts. When you create a new thought, you create a new feeling and your feeling can go from stress to peace just by virtue of what you're choosing to think.
You connect to your best SELF. You let go of limiting beliefs and you give yourself permission to unburden the pain from the past.
Instead of carrying around the hurts or the pain from a relationship from something somebody did or didn't do, you give yourself permission to let it go.
Whether you need to go to therapy, whether you can talk about it with a friend, whether you can journal, whether you can decide to forgive
Forgiveness is the way to inner peace. Whether you're forgiving someone else or forgiving yourself, it brings your stress level down.
It brings more peace in your heart.
And it brings an ability to let go of any limiting beliefs or judgments, unburden pain from the past, and relate from your heart.
When you start doing that, when you compassionately communicate with the people in your life, you'll notice your stress reduces because your relationships improve.
You can remember to be compassionate, accepting, forgiving, and adding more peace, love, and joy to your life starting now.
As a recap, here are a few ways to reduce your stress:
stay grateful for your blessings and keep track of them. When you start to get stressed and you're writing out your list of things that are stressing you, take another moment, write the list out of things that are bringing you joy and stay in the present moment.
Quit looking at the past or projecting into the future. As you stay grateful with awareness, forgiveness, acceptance, and gratitude for yourself and everyone else you'll see that your stress level starts to decline.
The more loving, grateful present you can stay and then treat yourself nicely each day.
Each moment make a choice to think positively, make a choice to take care of yourself and your inner child and all the parts of you that are struggling.
Go for a walk two minutes out, two minutes back, five minutes, just do it and take some stretches.
I know if I get on the floor for even a few minutes and stretch my whole body thanks me because I'm back into my body and out of my mind – not “out of my mind,” but back where I need to be so that I can use my mind for the things that are positive and not deliberate on all the things that bring me stress.
You can do it to find out what you need to treat yourself nicely, go for a walk, do some movements and take care of yourself in all the ways that will bring you joy.
You can start now to create the next chapter of your life, where you're going to be the hero or heroine.
It's going to go the way you'd like it because you're going to respond to stress in a way that brings you calm and peace.
Remember whatever your issue is “Love is the answer and it starts with loving yourself.”
All the things we're talking about now is ways to be more loving to yourself, to take time, to move, to meditate, to breathe, to journal, to be grateful and to find that as the next chapter of your life continues, you're going to write a whole new story.
That story is going to be even happier than the one you've had so far and even more positive in all the ways you'd like it to be.
So using compassion for yourself, take good care of yourself and I'll see you soon.
It’s our first one in different dimensions. The last few you’ve been on a different continent in a different part of the world.
Now you are in Heaven, and I am here.
And still I feel your presence, like the praying mantis that landed on my shoulder in Jerry’s kitchen on the day we buried you in Israel.
I know you are watching, kvelling, advising, loving and protecting me.
I have your picture in my office, and when I video tape myself for the internet, your picture is on a table and you are looking over my right shoulder.
I know you are proud of me, and still think I spend too much time on my computer, but at least we have some buyers this week!
I know you are happy that I have a very good man living with me, devoted to me, caring for me, and I am no longer alone.
I know you are with our loved ones, free from your diminished body and mind, and fully present for them and for me.
I miss you, Mom, but I missed you more when you were alive but not here. That’s not true when I write it. I still could see you and tell you I loved you and have you smile at me sometimes.
I don’t think I’ve ever really processed the pain and fear and sadness and remorse and ultimate powerlessness I felt in the last two months of your life.
I abdicated control to Jerry and Israel, and I regretted deeply their lack of hospice.
I am so very sorry for all the suffering you endured in the name of trying to save you.
I know Jerry meant well, and Israel meant well, but I could see the suffering in your eyes, hear the moans that you made, and saw the look of “help me, save me, let me go” that was in your eyes for the 12 days I spend with you in January.
And when Dana called me in tears, or Healey or Erin, and we all knew that you wanted to be free of the pain, even as Jerry was fighting for your life, it was such an impossible time for all of us.
When I saw your lifeless face in the morgue, I could feel your soul’s presence in the corner of the room, letting me know that you were okay.
I couldn’t cry at your funeral, though I was present and grateful for all who showed up that day to join us as we said goodbye to you.
Jerry’s kids were all in tears, and when I read your eulogy, I was sorry I didn’t speak from my heart instead. But I knew you knew all I wanted to say.
The tears finally came when I said Yiskor with Jerry on the Friday night before shabbas – and before I left Israel to come home.
I loved being around that table of family, sitting in your seat, wishing you were still there.
But we had 97 years – or rather 72 years — together, and they were all wonderful. Truly Mom, you are the Best.
You were always a “little girl” at heart the baby of your family.
But you were also the biggest heart in ours.
Filled with unconditional love, non-judgment, and a capacity to forgive and forget that knew no limits.
You had unlimited hugs, scooches, back rubs, and for most of our lives, chicken soup.
You weathered Daddy’s storms, and continued on without him to forge a life for yourself filled with dates, gambling, shopping, Fox news, great outfits and the constant joy that just being with your family brought you.
You traveled to and from Israel and made it easy for us to ship you back and forth.
You never lost sight of what was going on in all of our lives, and you always had an encouraging word whenever it was needed.
You never missed an opportunity to comment on my hair.
This is my first Mother’s Day without you, Mom, and Jerry’s too.
But your best job of all was fostering the intense love and closeness that we feel as siblings. We drive each other crazy, but we each know home is in each other’s hearts.
You raised a magnificent son, Mom, All that coddling and ironing and supporting paid off. His heart is endless. And even though he has a bit more of Daddy’s volatility than I do (at least overtly), his nashooma is a direct reflection of the best of both of you.
So thanks for my brother, dearest Mother, and for his family that took you in in Israel, and has me and my kids surrounded by love.
Thank you for your legacy of love, Mom… for showing me how to mother and how to adore my progeny with complete devotion.
That’s what you did and still do.
I hope Jerry can feel your presence as I do. I do know you’re in Heaven watching out for both of us – for all of us.
Thank you, Mom, beyond all words…. for being you, and helping me be me.
I’m still a work in progress, but you hold the blueprint, and I keep trying to emulate what I felt from you all my life.
I’ll be grateful for the times I see my kids.
I won’t make them feel guilty for anything they do not do.
I will appreciate every moment, and celebrate family.
Thanks for all the wisdom, lessons, and life example.
I’ll do more to follow in your footsteps, and I know my children will thank me for it.
God bless you always, Dearest Mom, as he has blessed us with having you.
Give my love to all at the Table – and thank Daddy, too, for giving us life.
I'm inviting you to take a few moments, take a few breaths, and as you focus on what a beautiful day it is here and hopefully where you are, go inside and see if you can find a feeling that you haven't been letting yourself feel.
If it's a big feeling like sadness or fear or anger or pain, just invite that feeling to titrate.
What does it mean to titrate? it's like when a nurse comes into a hospital and adjusts the rate of the drip in the IV bag. You can ask your feelings to come out a drip at a time, instead of overwhelming you.
Let's invite our feelings to titrate in a way that we can handle instead of ignoring them, instead of denying them, instead of staying too busy or eating too much.
Wherever you are now, let's just connect with our hearts, with each other, and just for a moment allow ourselves to feel a feeling.
Sometimes when we're lucky enough to have friends that we can feel our feelings with we're very blessed. In the meantime, we can be our own friend to ourself and allow ourselves to feel what we need to feel.
We don't need to eat too much or drink too much or deny them or repress them or suppress them, we can just be with what we feel. Even if we can't be with it because it's not right right time, let's just send our feelings some hugs.
Let's just your feelings know you know they're there. Go deeper and deeper and send love to your inner child if she or he is still suffering from something unacknowledged, sending love to your inner bride or inner groom who may have some feelings.
I think when we don't allow ourselves to feel our feelings we get all bottled up, we get stuck, we get heavy, and dense, and slow, and sluggish, and moody.
If we could just acknowledge time to journal or meditate or take a walk or sit in nature or connect with someone we love or cry or vent or scream or whatever you need.
Just take a minute or two. Even if you don't have that minute or two to be with the feelings, send them hugs. Let them know you're there, let them know you're aware.
In the quiet, compassionate, witnessing awareness that we can give our feelings, those parts of us that we exile or ignore, when we take just a few moments to give them the attention they can transform.
We're just going to take a look at what it's like to be in nature, to be in a place where we can explore our inner being and not have to do, be, do.
Here's my little spot, right there, welcome you to join me, and here's what it \looks like when I come here.
I just knew I wanted to be with you today. Nothing special, just sending love, and sending a request if you choose to join me, and taking a moment to take a breath and take a look inside and be with ourselves in a loving, compassionate, giving way that will give so many other people in our lives.
Even a few moments will make the difference. We can all pretend we're taking a little walk deeper, and deeper, and deeper into the core of our being where everything we meet here is love; so your sad parts, your vulnerable parts, your hurt parts, your envious parts, your judgmental parts — just love them all. In loving them all they can transform.
Then when you've hugged your feelings send a lot of love and hugs, and understanding, and compassion to the feelings of the people in your life.
You can never have too much love, empathy or compassion.
In this moment of feeling our feelings, allowing them to breathe, bringing compassion to ourselves and ultimately to others, we can also just join hearts and hands in this beautiful experience of life.
Whatever you might be challenged with or struggling with, now or in the past, just allow yourself to feel and reach out for help.
Ask people you love to support you so that you know you're not alone. Just know I'm sending you a lot of love, a lot of light, a lot of compassion.
Your fear can be a big feeling, but if we just allow ourselves to feel it and just tune in to what you're afraid of that can dissipate. We don't have to stay too busy to be afraid, we can just deal with our fear and share it because it's universal, everything we feel is universal.
Just like the tree is supported by the earth, so too are we. Take a few deep breaths, belly breaths, and as your feet touch the ground, wherever you are, just imagine growing roots to the center of the earth.
Imagine as those roots grow deeper and wider you're going to feel very firmly rooted, and planted, and grounded.
Invite up from the earth some nurturing and supportive energy. It goes from your feet up through your legs, your thighs, your hips, your groin, your stomach, your chest, and into and around your heart, with all the feelings that you have.
Then allow that nurturing energy from the earth to go up through your throat, your jaw, behind your eyes, your forehead, to the crown of your head, and out the crown of your head all the way to the sky.
Then invite down from the sky, universe, mother nature, higher power, God, what's ever out there, invite down some very calm and compassionate energy.
Breathe even bigger than yourself so you surround yourself with this calm, compassionate energy. Then focus that compassion inward and find any place in your body where you're holding tension or tightness, where you've got a thought or a feeling, and just allow yourself to be with it.
You don't have to do anything, you don't have to make sense of anything, you don't have to fix anything, you don't have to change anything, just allow yourself to be.
In that being-ness you're bringing full presence to the moment.
With your full presence, full awareness, and open heart, your feelings have a place to move and be embraced. As you feel your feelings you might want to journal (or not) or you just might want to take a moment or two and know that you've given them some attention.
Thanks for being here, thanks for being with yourself.
Spend a few more moments with yourself and come back and join me at the Botanic either virtually, or like some people can hopefully soon, in person.
Sending you a lot of love, a lot of light, and a lot of hopes for a beautiful day filled with all kinds of feelings and, most of all, ones that bring you gratitude and joy.
Sending you love, bye for now.
p.s. Feel your feelings so that you can transform them, release them, and let them go. Then you have room for more peace, love and joy. Y