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  • Personal Energy Our Thoughts and Poetic Thinking

    At a presentation on personal energy and how it effects our self and others, I did an exercise that had some interesting results. It was for a group of about 70 health care professionals.

    TM-034Here is how the exercise went.

    I asked on a scale of one to ten, to focus on how they felt, in their body, as they heard the word. And to respond quickly, and out loud, without thinking.  “1” being low energy, or negative, in some form and “10” being high energy, feels good.

    For the first word “Discipline”, most  said “2”,  for the next word “Adore” most said “10”.

    I had done the same exercise with a different group at an earlier date and they said the exact same numbers – “2” & “10”.

    Interesting on its own and a reminder for us all to become more and more aware of our thoughts and words and to practice changing some of them if they do not feel good. Awareness is the first step. If we are not paying attention inwardly we will not even know what is there.

    Think about practicing with your thoughts and words just as we practice with improving our physical abilities with sports and games. Our personal energy and awareness improve in the same way by being interested to do so, having the intention and practicing to change our habit.

    Having written a fair amount of intimate poetry I am interested in finding a way to mix poetic thinking with our daily lives and even with business situations.

    Poetic thinking, or writing, is somewhat more about what you feel, and are aware of with your senses, than just what you are thinking about.

    It is a deeper, more present, more in tune, more compassionate, and more about life, way of thinking, writing, speaking and being.

    Poetic writing and thinking style might be an interesting exercise to relate to some event in your life.  If you do it a few times, you might just surprise yourself.

    Remember getting started, taking the first step, is the difficult part. Once you start, your pen, or keyboard, will take over almost on it’s own. Here is a question to ponder and use as a starter.

    What choice could you make today that would enhance your personal environment?

    And why could or would that happen?

    Enjoy this moment as it is constantly changing, and a good time to change your thoughts.

    A Mesmerizing Meditation – Romancing The Wind

    34829931Now here is a 5 minute inspiring meditation that will keep your focus, create a sense of peacefulness and just plain feel good.

    This whole 5 minutes is mesmerizing- watch the end landing
    Romancing The Wind

    The guy flying the 3 kites is in his 80s, and he’s from Canada. He comes to the Washington State International Kite Festival every year. His skin is like leather as he normally flies with his shirt off. He is deaf, so when he flies we hold our hands up and wave them for applause.

    You must watch to the end to see the amazing landing of that last kite!

    Conscious Eating, Conscious Living-Yoga Journal

    Eating & Being Aware That We Are Eating While We Do.

    This following message came in my email this morning from Yoga Journal’s “Daily Insight” – a great free service for subscribers/ YogaJournal.com

    The reason I am posting it here is I have to believe that I am not the only one who often eats on the fly or in the car. I meditate and do Yoga daily and yet. . . It speaks for itself and I am using it to increase my awareness another level. To eat and to be aware that I am eating at the same time. It won’t always happen but it will become more conscious. A new habit is begining.

    32381009Yoga Journal “Daily Insight” – 1/18/13

    Do you ever feel like food is something that’s getting between you and your life?
    In today’s modern world, we rarely make time to eat mindfully.
    Often, we eat on the go, in cars or at our desks for the five minutes we can spare.
    But when we eat without noticing our food, we miss one of life’s greatest pleasures and we allow that which should nourish us to become that which causes us stress.
    The next time you eat, take a moment to relax and really taste your food.

    Stop what you’re doing, sit down, and notice the flavors, textures, and smells of the meal in front of you.
    Express gratitude for the health and nourishment it provides.
    And then, as you eat, truly enjoy the experience.

    Over time, this ritual can improve your digestion and overall physical and mental health.




    Flexible vs Rigid
    The Weather as Our Teacher

    34890986Can you imagine being a person that is rigid in thinking, in other words not very flexible, and then working a career involving the weather? With Mother Nature we have to be flexible, we have no choice, we can not control it.  Weather can be a great teacher for preparation, attitude and handling change, dealing with what is.
    Think of a tree in a strong wind, it bends with the breeze, if it does not it may break or become uprooted. Nature and the weather become our teachers.
    What about the constant changes even when we “think” we know what the weather will be.

    Flexible means that we can adjust, like putty, moldable, stretchable, and adjustable.
    By the way, according to my dictionary, “able” means “having the skill or means to do something”

    So with that in mind, another very important question for us personally, is, are we coachable?  Are we teachable and willing to learn what we need to adjust to?

    Do we have the means, the wherewithal, the willingness to be coached, to learn, to change?

    Being flexible means we are open and willing to go with the situation of the day as it happens, as it unfolds.

    Questions to ask yourself

    Can I adjust to what is and am I willing to?
    . . . or do I stay with what was “supposed” to be.
    It was supposed to be a sunny day and it rains.

    Do we want to blame someone, something, or adjust to what is?

    First of all, the weather doesn’t care or even know what you had in mind. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is what is.

    Flexible thinking expands your choices and possibilities.

    Think about this, our expectations – every time something is not “exactly”as we expected, we could instantly adjust our attitude and start watching for a new possibility.

    Or this one – try planning to be flexible instead of planning for everything to be exact. Plan for flexibility, be open for the new, leave a little wiggle room. Deal with what is instead of what “should have” been.

    There is something about being flexible that just makes things work better. Hard to measure, difficult to say exactly, yet flexibility makes it all easier, goes with the flow.

    Rise above, be on top of it – be willing, be flexible.

    Change, Again

    A very short poem that says a lot.

    The knowing and acceptance that life changes, as do the seasons is part of the natural creation cycle of our universe. I like the metaphor of the seasons as they come and go consistently. We know that change is coming and about when it will, yet there is always something original or a bit different than last the season’s change.

    Having the attitude of being ready and then, also, to look for the new possibilities in the change that will be there is a lesson I am always relearning – again and again.



    …. and then,

    when we get there


    everything will change


    . . . and then

         –   ©2008-2012 ray justice

    Practice Being Happy

    The word “Practice” jumped out at me from a book I was reading last week. It was used to explain that we need to “Practice” being Happy just as we need to practice anything else we want to be good at.

    This made sense to me but I had never thought of it in this way before. I started wondering what do we need to practice, that we have not thought about before.

    First we have to assume that we practice because we want to improve or get better at something.

    Let’s discuss a couple of possibilities here.

    Listening – Are we really paying attention or waiting to make our own comments?

    Listening is a skill that can be improved if we are interested in doing so.

    The “Practice” exercise here could be to practice not thinking about other things while someone is talking to you. Staying present, not thinking about the past or future, is what we need to improve. Focus on their words, and then ask them a question about what they had just said, most people will be trilled. We are not used to being listened to.

    Another is Speaking – Do others hear you? Do you articulate clearly without just rambling on and on? Is brushing up on your speaking skills something to do? This can be one on one or to a group –practice what we say.

    If we are standing, do we need posture practice and image practice?

    There is more, but the idea for me here is to focus on areas that could use improvement and practice imaging and doing it the way I would like to have it be.

    I am wondering how many different areas of my life I could use practice to change and how do I become aware of them?

    Practice makes perfect or at least improvement.

    Focus – a Lesson from Squash

    In a game of Squash I was ahead by a score of 7 to 2 with 9 being the winning point.

    As I served for the 8th point, meaning two points to go and this game is over, I started thinking “Do we have time to play another game?” While I was having this discussion in my head I lost that serve and the next two points – 7 to 4.

    I then preceded to have a conversation with myself about making sure I pay attention and not be thinking while playing the game. The result of that conversation in my head was that I lost the next three points and it was now 7 to 7. By the time I figured out that I needed to stop thinking I had lost that round.

    This story is to emphasis how quickly and easily we can lose our focus. We see it regularly in sports but have to realize how often we do it in our day to day situations. The game is that of not thinking so that we are present to what is going on. Focus, focus, focus is a big part of how we stay on track or not and let things slip on a daily basis. In sports it is called a loss of momentum, in our business world it is the same thing, loss of focus. Coaches have to bring the team mind set back into focus. For us in day to day life, we have to do it for ourselves. Being aware of the present moment, what is happening now by what our natural senses are picking up can help bring us back to focus

    Building Self Esteem by Rekha

    Self esteem is the combination of self confidence and self respect. It is a conviction about one’s competency to face challenges of life and handle stressful situations. People with high self esteem show confidence in them and are rational problem solvers versus worry warts. They demonstrate the ability to  confront the things they are afraid of, are willing to take risks and also indulge in self nurturing activities.

    Self image – who you think you are, is determined by how others have treated you, and the conclusions you drew from comparing yourself to others. We evaluate ourselves and begin to validate it throughout our lives.

    The inner voice is developed by the feedback we get from others about ourselves from childhood. As we grow, the inner voice takes over and we begin to maintain a consistent image of ourselves. Our critical voice could be our parents, an authority figure or our own voice. This critical voice tends to undermine our self esteem.  Additionally, it seems to be closely connected with our thought process. The problem with critical voice is that it is always believed. It can be telegraphic which means one word can trigger a series of images, and it can link events and actions together.

    We listen to our inner voice because it is rewarding and it actually tries to protect us from the fear of failure and fear of rejection by others.  However, this does not help in the long run.  To build up self esteem, it is important to transform the inner voice versus just trying to eliminate it.

    Thought stopping technique is one of the most effective techniques to transform our inner voice. It is done by visualizing a red STOP sign and shouting the word STOP or Cancel and quickly replacing negative thoughts with positive coping statements.

    Another way to transform the inner voice is to turn the worry over to a Higher Power. It is also useful to put the worry in a shoe box and place it on the top shelf  of the closet of your mind. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also recommends that  scheduling a worry time also helps  in programming the mind for  positive thinking. The mind tends to associate the scheduled worry time with problems and one can be positive the rest of the time.

    Self defeating thoughts are triggered by cognitive distortions such as overgeneralization, mislabeling, filtering, absolute thinking, self blame, over estimation, magnification and many more. When these distortions color our perceptions, it is useful to use affirmations as a mood induction technique. For example, “I feel good about myself”, “All things are working towards my well being”, “I feel confident”, “I feel happy” and so on.

    Using Visualization can also be a very powerful mood induction technique. It is important to first set long term and short term goals. Then check if you have a burning desire to achieve this goal. Is it attainable or are you willing to accept this positive change in your life? Visualization is a method of using imagery to modify your behavior and internal physiological state. It is used by athletes to achieve peak performance in their sports. For effective visualization, you need to relax, take a deep breath and use your five senses to recreate the imagery in detail. Practicing visualization repeatedly will increase your ability to see things vividly. You will be able to achieve your goals with more ease and facility with the aid of visualization technique.

    “The Power of imagination exceeds that of the conscious will.”   Emile Cou.

    It is also crucial to reward yourself more often, avoid people who are bad for you, have a good network of friends and relatives, take more risks, take care of yourself by engaging in physical exercise, eating nutritious food, being health conscious. Volunteer work, helping your community and having a meaning and purpose in life are also helpful instruments in building self esteem. Having a good balance in life is important to build self esteem. It has been seen that people who are assertive and who take care of their needs tend to have higher self esteem than people who are passive, codependent and passive aggressive.   Maslow has defined five levels of needs and people with high self esteem tend to fulfill their needs at all levels. Gandhi and many other national leaders were able to become self actualized.  It is helpful to treat yourself like a flower garden and sow the seeds of love to foster better self esteem.

    Self esteem affects our lives, deepens our ability to make a contribution to the world. Self esteem comes from within and is not measured by material things such as your possessions, status, assets and prosperity.  It helps us remain stable in adverse circumstances.

    By Rekha Shrivastava, M.S, CRC, CASAC – T

    Cognitive Approaches to Healing

    We all face stress in our lives but if we handle stress appropriately, we can overcome it easily. There are many cognitive approaches to healing and there is evidence that we can decrease the intensity of our anxiety, depression and stress by using the following seven (7) cognitive behavioral strategies:

    1. Thought Stopping: It is a technique that helps divert our mind from what we are worrying and obsessing about. When we get anxious, there are multiple thoughts that occupy our minds. If   we keep dwelling on these unproductive thoughts, the intensity of anxiety continues to escalate. However, if we use the Thought Stopping technique, we can lower the level of our anxiety. This is how you use the technique, Take a deep breath, visualize a big red STOP sign in front of you, then simply say the word CANCEL, or STOP. By repeating the word STOP, we put a brake on our racing thoughts just as we stop the car when we approach a STOP sign. When we put a brake on our thoughts, it empties the mind. After saying the word STOP, replace the negative thought with a positive counterstatement. It is important to note that the mind tends to recreate worry thoughts if you do not replace it with a counterstatement. Repeat the Thought Stopping technique as needed.
    2. Self Talk: Depressed and anxious people tend to indulge in negative self talk by berating themselves or thinking negative about self or others. This tends to reinforce negative thinking. Self talk is very subtle, automatic and telegraphic in nature. We make a variety of errors called, Cognitive Distortions in Psychology. These distortions could be overgeneralization, mind reading, jumping to conclusion, fortune teller error, magnification, minimization, mental filter, black or white thinking, mislabeling, and saying, “my fault”. Cognitive therapy holds that we need to be aware of our distortions and challenge them with Socratic questions, e.g. What are the odds of this really happening?, What is the worst that can happen?, Once we put our illogical statements to a scrutiny or rational investigation, we become more aware of our errors and open our mind to the reasoning and logic. This also helps correct our perception of the situation and we become more objective. Positive self talk helps reduce the intensity of depressive and anxious symptoms.
    3. Use of Affirmations: Affirmation is a positive statement that we use to replace negative self talk. For example, “ I am a good person”, ‘I can handle this situation”, “I have done it before and I can do it again.” It is like mind chatter that helps replace the negative programming into positive. It is important to make affirmations in present tense. It sinks better and it is also important to repeat them with conviction and emotions for optimal benefits.
    4. Acting As If: implies two laws of learning:

    A. The law of Association

    B. The operant Conditioning

    When we use Acting As If, we use operant conditioning. Acting As If reinforces the reprogramming we do to change our twisted thinking. For Example, act as if you are calm and relaxed by putting a smile on your face even if you are experiencing anxiety before making a presentation. When we act as if we are calm, our subconscious mind gets the message of relaxation and it makes us more relaxed and decreases the level of anxiety. Another example, start telling every  one, “ I feel great, it is a wonderful day” and you will begin to feel better.

    1. Use of Acronym CRAFT: This also helps ease the anxiety and helps view the situation correctly.

    C= Cancel negative thought

    R= Replace negative thought

    A=Affirm a positive statement

    F= Focus on the positive thought

    T= Train your mind to think positive

    6. Space of Time: It is important to create a space of time between what stresses you and your reaction to it. In order to do this engage in the following:

    A. Mind games

    B. Count to ten

    C. Deep Breathing

    D. Humor

    E. Imaging

     7.       Be a Problem Solver:

    Focus on the solutions as opposed to obsessing on the problem. Follow the following steps

    A. Describe and analyze your problems with questions. Use the five Ws- who, what, when, why, where to describe your problem.

    B. Ask what I want “more of” and “less of” in the situation

    C. What are my options?

    D. Take action

    E. Evaluate and adjust

    F. Reward

    These are proven techniques which are very effective in decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

    Rekha Shrivastava, MS, CRC.CASAC-T


    Go For It!

    Recently, while talking with my 7 year old grandson – he said, very matter-of-factly, that when he grows up he is going to play football for the Buffalo Bills or maybe play baseball for the Red Wings.
    At 7, he believes this – he’s not limiting his dreams to the realities of his skills or the improbable chances of making it into a major league team. Such undaunted determination is not just heartwarming to this grandma but awe-inspiring into the possibilities of dreams, goals and hopes. When and Why, as adults, do we become so practical and dismissive as to forget our dreams and limit our reach for the stars?
    I recently saw a quote from contemporary poet, Kurtis Lamkin: “Believing is all a child does for a living.”
    As adults, we should try to remember what it’s like to see the world through those childhood eyes! Whether it’s just declared 2012 goals that you aspire to or a long ago buried dream – don’t weigh down the goal with practicalities and realizations – go for it!