Emotions: Do You Have Them or Do They Have You?

“When you feel yourself in the grip of an emotion such as jealousy or anger or sorrow…take a step back…You can allow the emotion to run through you without causing negative thoughts or actions.”  Gary Zukov

Emotions are part of human nature and they meant to be felt.  The problem arises when we hold onto emotions and become them.

We express how we feel as “I am angry or I am sad”, rather than “I feel angry or I feel sad”.  There is a marked difference between the two.  If you are the emotion, then you have taken on the emotion live in reaction, rather than feeling it and moving on.

When you take a step back and view the situation without layering your emotions and perceptions, then the emotion no longer will have a grip on you.

 You can see with greater clarity and bring yourself back to the here and now.

Let me know in the comments below what your experience has been.  Are you able to take a step back from your emotions, or do you get caught up in them?

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Traffic: 5 Steps to Regain Composure

Traffic is a fact of life in metropolitan areas, yet many times when we are caught in traffic we get angry and frustrated.

Before we realize it, our breath is shallow and our neck and shoulders are tight. 

I was leaving a parking lot and planned to make a right hand turn.  Much to my dismay, a car pulled out of a lot across the street and rudely blocked my entire lane, causing a line of cars behind me.  My reaction was anger and frustration at how inconsiderate the driver was. 

I noticed my reaction and after employing the technique below I felt calm and centered once again.

Try this:

  1. Take a moment to see if you are holding your breath.
  2. Notice if you are tensing your neck and shoulders.
  3. Feel your feet on the ground and if you are sitting, feel your contact to the seat beneath you.
  4. Relax your belly and without straining take three slow, easy inhalations and exhalations, each time softening your neck and shoulders.
  5. Now, review the situation as if you were giving a report, without commentary and see how you can make a choice to see the event differently.

Give this a try next time you have a situation where you are frustrated driving (you will have many opportunities!) and let me know in the comments below what happened.   If it did not help, what you think got in the way?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Calm Your Mind: Attitude #4

Your mind has a life of its own and is the culprit of much frustration and physical tension.

We have previously explored three attitudes, that when cultivated will help calm agitated thoughts. 

They were:

  1. Friendliness toward the happy.
  2. Compassion for the unhappy.
  3. Delight in the virtuous.

The 4th attitude is what I perceive as the most challenging: Disregard toward the wicked.

When we run into people that are rude or mean, we usually get our guard up and judge or get angry.

To retain our undisturbed state:

  • Remember that you have had times when your behavior was inappropriate and harmful. 
  • Do not take the persons behavior personally, even it is directed toward you. Keeping this distance helps you ignore the behavior of others which will make your life much more peaceful.
  • Their behavior might not change, but your response makes all the difference to your well- being.

Give this a try next time you encounter someone who is behaving cruelly or inappropriately.  Let me know in the comments below how your state was and if you were able to make the shift to disregard their behavior.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Un-Hook From Reaction with 5 Simple Tools

Un-Hook from Reaction with 5 Simple Tools

Relationships can be wonderful and rich, but they also often challenge us.

Those we care about the most can easily frustrate us.  Our significant other, our children or parents hook us and we react. 

Many times the feelings are justified, but the problem arises when we respond with inappropriate behavior.  Yelling, stomping and name calling is harmful to both you and those around you, and your frustrations can lead to these behaviors in a flash. It is like being blindsided by a car.  You did not see it coming until it is too late, but the damage is already done.

How can you step on the breaks instantly?

Here are some simple tools that can help:

1.          Take a breath

2.          Feel your feet on the ground

3.          Put a visual Stop Sign in your mind

4.          Walk away and talk later

5.          Bring to mind someone you care about (it might be the person you are reacting to)

What do all of these tools have in common?  They bring you back to the moment. 

Try one or all of these tools and see if it makes a difference.  If you react to others in emotionally harmful ways, and later realize that you should have used one of the above techniques, you are already on your way to change.  Please share what worked or did not work for you in the comments below.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.


Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Kindness to Yourself Helps Others


It was a beautiful day! I decided to walk my dog and as I was passing a house, I saw an agitated family arguing in the driveway. By the time I passed the house, the father was yelling and telling his wife and small children to “shut up.”

Unfortunately this happens in many relationships. And, most of the time, the person who is acting inappropriately does cares about the person he or she is hurting.

All traditions address non-violence and I focus on teaching these principles through Yoga as well.

Ahimsa is a word used in the yoga tradition, and it means non-violence or non- harmfulness in thought and action. Many of us try hard to be kind to others, but somehow our harmful reactions still seep out.

Why? Because if we don’t treat yourselves with loving kindness and if we abuse ourselves, this will impact our relationships with others.

How many times have you made a mistake and berated yourself? How often do you not give yourself time to rest or play? Unless we treat ourselves with kindness, it is difficult to consistently practice non-harmfulness towards others.

How can you treat yourself with kindness today?

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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