Breathing Space

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When things get hectic, chaotic, out of balance, and even scary, I find what helps many of my life coaching clients is to provide them with tips on how to find breathing space.

Breath is first. It is life, it is the rhythm that is indicative of whether we’re in a good-feeling place or one that is challenging. It’s also automatic; we take it for granted. The engine keeps running and we have no reason to think about it as long as it’s running or keeps us running. Its fuel, which is air, is all around. It’s free and there’s an abundance of it everywhere we go, so really all the more reason for us not to give it much thought.

We will, however, pay attention to our breathing when we feel a difference in our bodies and even then, unless it’s painful to breathe, we don’t consider it as a solution to feeling better. It’s quite normal, really. We’re usually problem-solvers. Most of what we create comes from a place where something needs to be improved upon, a problem to be solved, so unless the problem is painful breathing, our attention is not drawn there.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say the problem is you’re under pressure at work. You see the source of the problem as being at work, outside of you. It’s quite logical to think that finding a way to affect that source, to change it, get rid of it, get away from it is the way to go.

The reason behind wanting to influence what you perceive to be the source of the problem – something or someone at work – is that you want to feel better and therefore breathe better even though again, most people usually don’t think in those terms because of how automatic that function is in our bodies. You don’t realize your breathing is affected by how pressured you feel at work in our example, but it is, and it is good news because it gives you leverage.

Here’s why.  How you want to feel (eg, better, happier, more relaxed, more enthusiastic, more energized, useful, appreciated, supported, safe etc.) – often translates into the optimum breathing experience for you.  It just so happens that the optimum breathing experience also opens the door to feeling better. Consequently, it is absolutely within your power to start by directly affecting your breathing in order to make space for more enthusiasm, appreciation, joy etc. So reversing the equation is the key.

To that end, I suggest meditating on the following questions and keeping the answers in some kind of treasure chest that will be most useful on “rainy days”:

What gives you breathing space?

What increases your breathing capacity?

What brings you relief and soothes you when you think of it?  Images? Memories? Certain kinds of music? Exercising? Playing? Dancing? Singing? Painting? Travelling?

What transports you into a world that only brings fun, joy and wonder?

 

It’s a lot easier and more effective to affect your mood by realizing what creates more breathing space inside of you than to try to change the world around you. The side effect of that is feeling empowered by the whole process. A wonderful bonus!:)

 

Val.

PS: the picture illustrating that article is one of my breathing spaces. Its impact on me is quite magical. It only takes minutes for the soothing effect to take place, for me to feel calmer, to breathe more deeply and fully, for joy to come back in, to feel that inside smile that makes everything brighter and that feels like home. Then I remember who I am, what is important to me and why. I connect to love, kindness and reverence and remember that we’re one. Once I’m there for a few minutes, inspiration blooms like a flower in the sun.

You can find me at www.thepowerofemotions.ca

The Abundance of Appreciation

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I’ve been very fortunate to be part of a half hour show on YouTube for the past three years called the Appreciationist. It’s changed how appreciation shows up into my life. Having to think of a Moment of Appreciation for the show every week has my brain focused on those moments, looking for them as if it were a treasure hunt. It’s fascinating, definitely an eye-opener, mind-opener and it just brings the most beautiful wonderful feelings week after week; first when I experience those moments, and then when I get to tell about them, which makes them bigger, more intense, more meaningful. They’re center stage now, the stars of the show, not just a moment lost among so many others in my week. They’re being honoured and my heart gets a lift each time.
Every week, I also choose creatively which one(s) will make it to the show as I love variety and hope that it’s fun for whoever is watching and participating to hear that appreciation shows up in unexpected places or circumstances.
This blog is the perfect place to feature some of those moments that somehow stuck with me in those past three years. So here we go!

 

Simple

It’s Sunday morning and I go to my local Italian bakery to get some chocolate buns or “chocolatines” and peach nectar for breakfast. I love how Sunday mornings feel. We’re all relaxed and taking it easy and definitely more slowly than during the week so the result is a great sense of quiet and a feeling of vacation due to the slower pace shared by the many. As much as I appreciate not having the same schedule as most which gives me amazing freedom, I am so very grateful for times when we all take a break together and therefore create a more serene environment.
So back at the bakery, they’ve been there forever and I’ve seen the family grow over the years. It’s nice to see the resemblance in the kids and grand-kids and how they work the business together. Warmth fills my heart when they recognize the familiar faces of the “regulars” that keep coming back for great food and a warm welcome. Human beings connecting, silently saying “I see you, I hear you, I recognize you and appreciate your presence here today”. Simple.

 

Presence

I’m a little down and call on a friend of mine who’s one of my best sounding boards. She needs to get out of the house from time to time so I offer to go and pick her up, come back to my place and chit chat over coffee, tea and goodies. Those are always precious times, full of fun and wisdom. We share, we explore, we learn, we laugh and all of this with a deep sense of appreciation because that’s what my friend brings along wherever she goes. She’s always looking for what she calls “adventures” so everything has the potential of being turned into some fun experience, an unexpected gift and that makes us treasure hunters!:)
After picking her up, I decide to stop for gas on the way to my house. As I’m outside, pumping gas into the car and looking at the sky and clouds, I realize that already, the world feels lighter, more welcoming and full of possibilities…..and we haven’t even started talking about anything yet. And then it hits me. Her presence alone is uplifting! She doesn’t need to say or do anything. Her presence alone changes the colours and textures of the world in my eyes now. That realization brings such a sense of joy, gratitude and quite a bit of awe I admit. Magic.
As a life coach, I often tell people that in a society hooked on action, we tend to forget that our presence alone in this world makes a difference, even if we don’t do or say anything. Who we are, what makes us unique, our qualities, passion or interests, what and who we love and why is enough. It is our beautiful contribution. We matter because we are, period.
So that day, to experience proof of that in all of its subtlety felt like a great big hug from the universe reminding me that love, kindness and inspiration are always just a thought away.

 

Nothing Special

After a couple of years of being on the Appreciationist, as I said earlier, moments of appreciation pop up all over the place pretty much every day. That’s how the brain works. Point it in that direction and it’ll scan every inch of your experience looking for just that, appreciation and more appreciation. However, once in a while, and that is what happened that day, nothing special comes to mind at the end of the day. Just before I fall asleep, I make it a point as often as possible to look for the high points of my experience of that day, meaning how I perceived the events. And that evening, nothing special came to mind, but instead of being bummed out by that, it was a wonderful surprise to realize that I was happy in spite of nothing special happening that day. I didn’t need the high points, the magic of finding appreciation in small or big moments, I was just as content with my day and that, in itself, was my moment of appreciation.

 

Val.

www.thepowerofemotions.ca 

Who you are

img_0876Value who you are; the unique kind of presence you bring to this world and how precious that is to its expansion.

Embrace who you are. Let yourself be the full you, back yourself up, be your own cheerleader, your own loving and supporting parent who believes in you beyond any measure because your blossoming and thriving is the whole point and is what benefits you and this world the most.

So weigh your decisions according to coherence with what rings your bells and what feels balanced.

That way, inspiration is what will propel you forward and it will be a thrilling ride!

 

Happy Wednesday!

 

Love,

 

Val.

Bliss

girl-797837_1920The first time I remember thinking about Bliss was watching my cat totally in love with life.  She was purring and smiling from under 4 layers of her favorite blanket as well as basking in the sun coming through the window, not to mention enjoying the warm air coming from the heater! Cats sure know what they love and how to completely revel in it.
She’s an inspiration. She definitely knows Bliss intimately.

Next time was a few months ago. I was in my living room, reading on the sofa. Simple enough. Sometimes, the simplest of moments are the sweetest.

I had soft jazz music playing in the background as I was reading a French book and the music playing was in English. So no interference with my reading, just a lovely soundtrack to the story making its way into my experience. I loved the story. It seemed a little “too easy” at first, but I quickly fell in love with the character. She had to come out of her comfort zone over and over again. I admired her courage, related to her reactions, emotions and of course, tasted every single one of her victories as she found her way in life, eventually realizing what it felt like to be true to herself. Kind of a cliche, an easy one (hence my earlier comment) that we’ve seen over and over in stories and especially movies, but who cares? It made me feel good. I felt I was spending time with a friend, cheering her on and I couldn’t wait for the happy ending. Well….you know, you want it and you don’t, because then that precious experience is over. So I kept a reasonable pace, one that allowed me to really appreciate such a perfect moment when all was still in my world except for the story.
I was so comfortable in my place, surrounded by things that I love; textures, colours, shapes, the harmony of it all, the flow of the energy in that space and then, the perfect music in the background, just completing the moment, giving it dimension and more deliciousness. Sweet moment of wonderful relaxation. I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Gratitude engulfed me and the word Bliss came to mind again.

Then a few weeks ago, I came across the Pixar movie Inside Out. OMG as they say! 🙂
I’m a life coach, am all about emotions, teach that they are guidance and how to ride the ones that feel good…how to deal with the ones that don’t feel so good, how to always find ways to better explain what is going on and help people realize that everything is useful etc…This movie was absolutely perfect for me. It literally rang all of my bells!  That’s the only way I can describe how it felt to discover the fun of it, the beauty of it, the wonder of it, the brilliance of it and to top it all, the difference it would make in this world. I needed to share this so immediately posted about it on Facebook though I wasn’t even finished watching it. When you feel good, it just overflows, you can’t help sharing and giving. That happiness needs to come out and touch others. I love that about good feelings.:) I know, it’s sick; don’t hate me for it. :)))
So this was a different kind of Bliss; an intense experience, all in excitement and glee.

And then there was Nuit Blanche in Montreal. I went to the Broadway Cafe at the Segal Center for Performing Arts. What an experience!
Musicals do something to me and the word Broadway alone has magical powers. It’s hard to describe what that world represents and why it touches my heart in such a way. So about a year ago, a friend of mine mentioned the Broadway Cafe at the Segal Center in her blog and how she had found her people there. It was a powerful blog post to say the least that really inspired me. So for Nuit Blanche, I finally made it there. Fun, beautiful and moving are the words that come to mind but they fall short of what it really felt like.
The amount of talent in this city is just staggering and what impressed me was the fact that since those songs are from musicals, everyone got into character once they were in the spotlight and the message of their song ended up being carried by that emotion. That absolutely grabs my attention, pulls on my heart strings and brings forth my admiration. Then, there’s the crowd: absolutely incredible! Crazy fun, passionate, colourful and so encouraging and loving to whoever stood in front of that microphone that I could have cried on the spot in the face of such generosity and beautiful display of human qualities.

I didn’t want it to stop, I wasn’t tired, life was oh so good! All of it was food for my soul. I had entered that dimension where everything is beauty, joy and yes, BLISS.

Val.

 

calie bliss

 

The Generous Tree

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I met a tree today in Parc Maisonneuve.

I was taking a walk with a dear friend and we had been walking around for a while, talking and laughing and being silly as we often do when we’re together. We were entering a vast expanse of grass and there it was, so yellow and with branches so low they seem to be kissing the ground or doing a bit of a curtsy but especially… especially, I felt that tree was extending its branches to whomever was willing to receive its generous gift. It was a generous tree.

We were drawn to it. I wanted to give it a hug. I’ve often heard of people who do that but have very rarely done it myself as honestly, I don’t like bugs and that often takes precedence. The thought entered my mind for a second but I didn’t care enough and luckily at this time of year, none were to be found. I skipped to get closer and took one of its low branches into my arms. Anybody, regardless of their height, even a baby sitting on the ground could have done the same. This was everybody’s tree and anyone was welcome to its love.

As I was holding on to the branch, I felt like a kid again and wondered if I could bring my legs up like I used to and hang from it with my arms and legs. I did and looked at the world upside down for a few seconds….the thin yellow leaves against a very blue sky made for such a lovely picture. I felt blessed and my heart was light.  Oh, it felt wonderful! I also got dizzy but who cared?:)) I focused on its branch again and there I was, grounded again. Powerful force, yet so simple, so natural, such common sense. Common sense because there we were, hugging a tree, feeling a strong connection to it, loving it, being truly touched by that moment and we talked of how silly or too deep that might sound to some, but also how basic that was. Other cultures or our culture but in different times might actually find us silly NOT to revere a tree and feel its energy, force and generosity. We reflected on that a bit.

I wanted to climb it. As someone would set their foot on the trunk of an elephant willing to give you a lift on its back, I set my foot on its lowest branch, testing to make sure I wouldn’t break it. The rest was easy; every branch was at the right angle for my arms to reach and for me to settle into the V of some of its limbs. The view from there was beautiful, not because it was high, it sooo wasn’t :)) but because I felt as if I was one with the tree;  my hair like its leaves. As the wind blew, the tree gently rocked me and oh, that beautiful support and dance! I felt so welcome, like it was so happy we were visiting, keeping it company for a while. As my friend experienced it too, she was moved to tears.

I didn’t want to leave. We walked around, touching its branches, hugging them, talking about how fascinating it was to see life in one branch, from the very young smooth twigs to gradually more wrinkled and rugged bark. Some spots felt like little homes to me, like when you’re a child and you’re looking to build a tree house. Not that those spots were strong enough….but the feeling was there, the feeling of that space if that makes any sense.
The branch I had first hugged was just above my shoulder when I was on the ground, so I stayed there, holding it in my arms very loosely and getting the privilege of supporting it too, because when the wind blew, the tree very gently rested a bit of its weight on my shoulder. It was a very humbling experience of taking turns supporting each other. My turn to be moved to tears.

We walked to the trunk that had been split by either lightning or some crazy storm years ago and had caused it to get so close to the ground we guessed. Yet, the tree  had never given up and had trusted in its roots to go on living, grow more limbs and leaves and would now gently brush the grass or snow, season after season.
We eventually walked away in silence for a while. I was holding back tears. There were just no words.

I’d like to think that I’ll go and visit now and again, see it through the seasons and different weather, have a quiet moment with it and revel in its perfect balance of strength and grace. I am truly grateful and touched.

Val.

Passions

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My very first passion in life was dance. I was 4 when I asked for it, so Mom got me into ballet.

I fell in love with English when I was 12. Homework felt like candy, a game. I couldn’t wait to get home and play with it!

As a teenager, I loved to think, analyze and write so when time came to choose in high school, I chose languages and philosophy. 8 hours a week of pondering, questioning, opening my mind and imagining. I was exploring new worlds, a mind traveler.

So there you have it; my three muses: Dance, English and Philosophy.

When I had a burn out dance kept me going. It was one of the rare things I was still interested in. My brain felt like it was fried so when all else failed, dance was there and was fun and provided me with a whole world of magic and movement, including the limitations that came with it; those limitations that actually showed the way to how to listen to the subtle cues of my body to get back to health. I had to first let go and stop fighting my body (had back problems on and off for 10 years), listen to what it was guiding me to do. I eventually found my way back to well-being, back to a more authentic me. I taught English, became a translator and even taught tap dancing for a while. Passions one and two: check, check.

Personal development as such became a part of my life in my twenties once my aunt introduced me to Shirley MacLaine’s books. An extension of my exploration of philosophy, it was intriguing, exciting and fun. I never really stopped after that, read all kinds of books, listened to CDs, DVDs, MP3s, webinars and podcasts (keeping up with technology:) and shared with friends who were also interested in that kind of material. I loved to spend afternoons just sharing nuggets of eureka moments we had had over tea, coffee, fruits, cookies and chips. It fed me more than the food itself and I always felt wonderful, changed.

I wanted more of that so one day I entered keywords in my computer and found the Law of Attraction Montreal Meetup on the first try. Yes, my keywords were Law of Attraction Montreal. I couldn’t miss it. One meeting and I was hooked! I had found my people as Camila says in her Year Beyond Fear Challenge no. 57. It could take me 3 hours to eat a cupcake when usually it’s gone within minutes. I didn’t need food. My body, mind, spirit, soul, all of them were getting exactly what they needed and it was absolutely delicious, thrilling, empowering. I”m still going and I’m learning so much, growing so much. I’m truly, truly grateful.

A little over a year after joining that group and participating every time I felt inspired by a topic, I found myself one day very frustrated over still not having found the perfect career. You know the kind of job that doesn’t feel like one; the one that runs on excitement, fun and joy and is so in tune with who you are that it’s like you’re flying, soaring even and everything is just more colourful, tastes better, feels better. I know, a little too perfect in my imagination but you get the idea. I remember that one evening a friend was offering me a job and I was in tears over not wanting to go backwards, fighting the urge to take it for the sake of financial security….the next, I was pulling out my meditation papers out to try to figure things out and within hours, it would lead to quite a revelation. For me, emotions lead the way to solutions. One minute I was crying and in despair, the next, everything made sense. What a rush!

I have pieces of paper with words that make me feel good written on them. Originally, when there was an ad on TV, I would put it on mute, pick a paper at random and place it over my heart and feel it as intensely as possible. Visualize, imagine the smell, the context, a whole story, whatever it took to feel that word in the present and anchor it in my body. So that day, I decided to choose the words that illustrated how I wanted to feel in a job. I turned them around and elaborated more on the feeling for each of them within the context of the ideal job for me. If I couldn’t name or imagine it, I could at least figure out how I wanted to feel.

A friend of mine helped me put the pieces together – literally. Her enthusiasm and passion for her job, not to mention life in general is quite an inspiration. She’s the one who first put the puzzle together. I showed her what I had done with the pieces of paper and she said “Life Coach.” The fog lifted from my brain and then I could see it too! Things became clearer by the minute. That night, I got in the metro to go home and really tried “it” on as I would try a piece of clothing. It was a revelation. I could see the metro moving with me inside but I could also see myself in space with all kinds of lights around me all converging toward one point and I too, was going toward that point. Just like in sci-fi movies. Once I got there, everything stopped and all was well and where it was supposed to be. I had found my place in this world; I had found how I fit in. Everything made sense. It was the most amazing feeling. Momentum, peace, empowerment and a wonderful sense of belonging.

It changed how I show up in life now. If ever there was a moment that felt magical and exhilarating, that was the one.

Passion number three? Checked.

Val.

thepowerofemotions.ca

 

 

Finding Value in What Feels Off

storm-699135_1280Ever felt like something was off? Or someone was acting out of character?

I’ve had more than one conversation with friends about those feelings we get when things are not quite right with someone we know or someone we come across or an entire situation for that matter. And every time, the question is: “What am I supposed to do with that kind of information?”

Last Thursday, after an always inspiring meetup on Self-Love, I decided to tackle the subject over coffee and tea (always helps!:) with a friend of mine who had attended as well. First of all, she’s mentioned it more than once, I realize it’s very important to consider if it feels appropriate to let that person know about what feels “off”. Not everyone wants to hear it and it’s only our perception anyway so I believe it’s best to deal with it on our own (I’m guilty of not having always felt that way). After all, if we get that information, it’s most probably meant for us, right?:)

So when I first looked at the “issue”, I was a bit at a loss and frustrated for getting the info without an “instructions manual”. Yet, I wanted to find the other side of it. So I started by asking “what’s the point of me getting this off feeling?” but because there was frustration in it, I couldn’t see past it. My mind was too focused on the problem. So I asked “What’s the value of this experience?”. After a couple of minutes of really believing there was value in some way, I found one tiny bit of value: contrast. So when things feel off, it accentuates when things feel right, so I immediately got into the feeling of really appreciating when things are “on” and loving that person or situation right then and there. The “off” shows me the “on” more clearly.

My friend – who was kind of pondering the idea too (notice how what comes to me is her pondering the “idea” as opposed to me pondering the “issue”) while giving me her attention, meaning she was focused on me finding the answer(s) – mentioned forgiveness as in forgiving myself. I looked at her with a face that clearly spelled “what the h… are you talking about?” Still, she’s my very best sounding board, so I filed that information in my mind to examine at a later date as I’ve learned to trust those hunches she gets. So I kept “sitting” in the feeling of observing  the “on” and then it hit me! That is the point! Focusing on the “on” more than ever when the “off feeling” comes along! Since what we focus on seems to expand or becomes a bigger part of our experience to quote Peter Hartman. So even though we’re used to giving our attention to problems to find solutions in this society, the best way – I think – to have a mind that will be open to solutions is to 1- believe solutions exist and 2- give our attention to what works, anything that works or makes us feel good.

By “sitting” in what felt right, the answer then found its way to my brain or vice versa, and my friend focusing and believing I would find the answer(s) helped. So that is the solution: focus on what feels “on” to help the other person find their way back to it as well. Of course, it is up to them to decide to get back to it or not, so help yes but with detachment I would say.

Apparently, my face was transformed once it hit me and became clear to me. All the while, inside of me, it was such a thrill to come to that realization….and then peace settled in …..and then lots of love….and then a feeling that all was well again.

 

Val.

 

Thanks E. for always being such a beautiful sounding board!

Oh and yes, I had to forgive myself because in feeling that something was off, a part of me was feeling guilty for feeling that, as it was being interpreted as a judgement. So forgiveness was necessary after all.:)

 

PS: Don’t forget you’re more than welcome to submit your own magic!