Seasonal Insights by Sarah Giordano
Winter time reminds us there is hope in the darkness for the return of light. The pulse of celebration, joy and love abound. What do you hope for? What brings you joy? Take a moment . . . breath in . . . breath out . . . now imagine yourself in your place of joy experiencing all you hope for this season. Stay with that experience. Notice what it feels like, where you can sense it in your body. Now how can we make that a reality?
Last season we explored the inner workings of the nervous system and discussed ways to invite mindfulness and peace into our daily lives. How was this experience for you? Did you find any lasting results? Making changes to our habitual behaviors and thoughts can be challenging. This season we are looking at how to make lasting behavioral changes for health and happiness. Here is what you will find in this issue:
What do you Hope for?
Yoga for Daily Practice
Recipe: Vegetable Broth
What do you Hope for?
Each of us has a unique set of core values. Think back to the exercise you did imagining what you hope for, what brings you joy. Ask yourself what is most important to me right now?
Begin to draft a list of what comes to mind when you answer, “What is most important to me?” You may start by listing what you spend your time doing or what most of your conversations revolve around or where you spend your energy and resources. For example:
Connecting with family and friends
Going to school
Exercise and Nutrition
Dive into each item on the list and explore why they are important to you. Why do we spend time and energy in each of these areas? What is it about this that brings hope or joy?
For example: I spend time and energy connecting with family and friends. This is important to me because it connects me to others in a meaningful way. Embracing these connections is important to me and brings meaning and purpose to my life. Therefore, developing meaningful relationships is one of my core values.
Education is important to me to cultivate skills needed to further my career. Cultivating skills is important to me for self development. My career is important to me because helping others gives me purpose. Therefore, two of my core values are self development and helping others.
As we work through the list of values we can start to see our true essence unfold. We become aware of what makes us tick. Establishing an understanding of our individual core values allows us to then align our choices with these values. Creating practices and habits that support our core values increases the probability of sustaining long term changes.
We make choices everyday. What we eat, what we do, who we speak with, what we spend money on, when we sleep, what we think, what products we use, what we waste . . . The trick is aligning these choices to reflect our core values. What we choose to spend our time and energy focusing on becomes our reality. We each have the power to make the changes we want by aligning our awareness of hope and values with our everyday choices.
As we learned last season the biochemistry of the fight or flight (stress) response is hard wired into us. Although we are designed to only spend approximately 20% of our time in this state, it turns out many of us spend a whole lot more, whether we are aware of it or not.The reality is, all of us, without exception, are subject to change and loss at any moment. The seasons change, time changes, our circumstances change, our bodies change, we lose jobs, we lose loved ones, we are born and eventually we die.This is the truth of our basic vulnerability in the world, our human condition, our existential reality. To dive a little deeper into vulnerability and its role in our daily life choices check out this Ted Talk with Berne Brown.
Winter is a time of long dark nights. Hope is being able to see the light despite all the darkness. Change, loss and death are inevitable but our response to this universal vulnerability is our choice. We can choose to align our choices about what to do, what to eat, when to sleep, who to spend time with, how we communicate, our actions and behaviors with our values. In the light of vulnerability are you willing to open yourself to recognizing and redirecting your energy in a way that aligns with your core values?
The winter season inspires us to slow down, rethink our daily practices, set goals and hope for brighter days. Sometimes evaluating our past choices and habits can lead to self objectification and even self doubt. Our habitual choices are not equal to our whole being. Just because we currently have an unhealthy or unwanted pattern in place does not mean that this action is representative of the totality of our capacity.
“We are not unified: we often feel that we are, because we don’t have many bodies and many limbs, and because one hand doesn’t usually hit the other. But metaphorically, that is exactly what does happen within us. Several sub-personalities are continually scuffling: impulses, desires, principles and aspirations are engaged in an increasing struggle.” (Ferrucci, 2009)
This continuous, and totally natural, scuffle makes choosing change a cyclical process. There will be times when we fall back into our previous patterns. To learn more about modifying and developing daily habits click here. Focusing on our individual strengths can curb the length and severity of these relapses. One approach is the use of daily affirmations to build up the confidence needed to preserve.
Affirmations are the use of true positive statements about ourselves on a regular basis. According to a large body of literature, self-affirmations have benefits across vulnerable situations; affirmations can decrease stress, increase well being, improve academic performance and make people more open to behavioral change (Cascio et al, 2016). What are your strengths? How will those strengths help you in times of doubt? Setting a daily reminder on your phone is one way to get started on affirming your amazing attributes.
Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar, is a traditional series of exercises designed to wake up the body through movement, alignment, stretching and circulation of the blood and other bodily fluids. There are many variations across different schools of yoga as it is the most widely practiced series in the world. Here I present a sequence of Sun Salutations derived from The Atmananda Sequence. If health or longevity have found their way into your core values this practice can be added to any daily routine to create a habit of movement promoting wellness of the organs, energy and flexibility.
Meditation provides space to recognize and redirect our energy in moments of vulnerability. Here is a basic meditation you can memorize and practice anytime anywhere for as long as you like even if it's just one breath. Sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Allow your gaze to drop down softly and maybe even close your eyes completely. Let your body be supported by the object beneath you. Completely relax the body. Focus your attention on your next inhalation and follow it to the exhalation. Observe each breath . . . in the body . . . out of the body. Continue this practice until you are ready to return to the room and space around you.
Winter brings cold dark nights and late dawns inviting us to cozying up by the fire and warm our soul. This season is all about hearty root veggies and aromatic herbs creating heavier dishes to warm us up from the inside. Here is a recipe that will not only warm you up but also fortify your immune system to help ward off viruses and bacteria. This veggie broth can be consumed as a beverage or made into a range of winter dishes.
Ingredients 2 red onions 1 celeriac root roughly chopped 2 large carrots cut into slices 2 parsnips cut into slices 2 turnips roughly chopped 1 stalks celery sliced 1 bunch kale 8 ounces mushrooms of your choice Handful of herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary) Filtered water
Instructions Wash all veggies and chop as directed. Place them in a large pot and fill with water until it reaches about 1 inch from the top. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour. Remove from heat and strain veggies collecting the broth. Keeps in the fridge up to a week or in the freezer for 4-6 months.
I hope you have enjoyed this food for thought and utilize the actionable practices I have shared to promote health and vitality.
Are you interested in further guidance on these practices? I am currently offering a free package of 4 virtual coaching sessions as I begin my practicum for Integrative Nurse Coaching. Anyone who is interested and willing to commit to 4 sessions please reply to this email and tell me why you are interested in healing. This opportunity is on a first come first serve basis with limited spaces available.
Take this moment and thank yourself for dedicating time to the mind, body and spirit. Enjoy this season of celebration.
- Sarah Giordano -