Why Taking a Day for You is Essential

We all know that we aren’t machines who can go, go, go all of the time, and yet, the corporate (and even non-corporate world) expects every part of us–our time, energy, and devotion. But, where does that leave us as humans who need breaks, who need to reset and even recharge in nature, who need to receive to maintain a balance with all the giving? This generally leaves us feeling anxious, depressed, and stressed. So, what can we do about this?


 Put down the devices:

We all do it. Our phones, smart watches, laptops, etc. are attached to us at the hip (or wrist), and we become more engaged with the notifications that pop up for us rather than being present with the world around us. But what would it look like to put down the phone, the watch, the iPad? More and more of us are becoming addicted to our devices. There are many ways to start to eliminate that and decrease the stress. Many, myself included, admit to feeling badly when they go on Facebook because everything looks so…”perfect.” But, we need to remember, social media is entirely filtered. We only share the “good” moments because we don’t want to be “that downer friend,” right? Of course not, so we put our mask on social media. Several ways to let go of the addiction start with mindfulness–when we are mindful of our impulses we are less likely to give into them. Another way is to remove the social media apps from our phones. I did this with Facebook, a platform with which I was completely consumed and at first I struggled. I wanted to know what was happening! What could I be missing? Did people miss me? The answer was, nothing and no. It forced me to text my friends and check in with them and even make face-to-face plans to be WITH them, as humans! Now, I am on a couple times a week on my computer to do something with my business and that’s it. Stress is so much less. Even occasional full-on social media breaks are wonderful because it gives you a chance to reset and be present in your life.

Spend time with your family and friends:

We spend so much of our time at our jobs that often we are tired when we come home and want nothing more than to plop down on the couch and binge on Netflix (at least that’s what I like to do after a long day of “adulting”). But, when I do have that spark of energy, I find that spending time with my son is healing. He reminds me to be centered and enjoy life in the now (kids are amazing at reminding us not to take life so seriously). There are other times when we need to take a “mental health day”, as it were, and spend time with our loved ones. Will the corporate wheel stop spinning because you take a day for yourself to be with your family? No…not even a little. Will someone be annoyed? Yeah, probably, but people will react how they will react. You can only be productive at your job if you take care of you.


Take a day off:

I’m no longer in the corporate world. As a business owner I work pretty much all the time. I take calls, answer emails, update Instagram, and then massage clients five days/week. That’s a lot. I didn’t take a break for close to 4 months, and my body was feeling it. I finally got insanely sick this last weekend and I think it was the Universe’s way of making me take a day off. It was nice. Yeah, I didn’t feel great, but I got to hang out with my kiddo, watch the Broncos win, and then eat a dinner with my family (something I rarely get to do on Sundays anymore). I felt better yesterday and today I’m back to 100%. I needed to slow down and take a day off. It was a great reminder to just step back and take care of me. How can I take care of clients when I’m feeling burnt out? The answer is, I can’t. The same goes for everyone else out there. For those who work corporate you can use a day of PTO for you. Servers and other service industry workers can find someone to cover their shift (I know because I did it in college…A LOT…when I had to study for exams and whatnot). There’s always a way to take time for you. If you don’t your body will make you, like mine did, by checking out and surrendering to illness because that’s the only way you’ll stop. So, before it gets to that point, listen to your body and your mind. If you are feeling anxious, frustrated, or sad when you think about work, take a day off.

Cut out activities:

We often overbook our schedules, whether it’s our own activities or those of our children. If you’re feeling stretched thin, it’s time to trim out the activities. This is even beneficial for our children if they are in activities because they can begin to feel burdened by the stress as well. Of course we want ourselves and our children to have opportunity and new experiences, but what if we did it one at a time? If your child is in soccer, art, and dance, maybe do soccer and art for a season, and dance and art another (or whatever). If you are involved in PTA, yoga, book club, and work, cut out the book club and PTA for awhile. You will feel so much better and as though a weight has lifted from your shoulders if you aren’t burdened with all of this extra “stuff.”

Eat well, exercise well, and sleep well

Eat well (cutting out sugar, eating whole foods and plant-based) can help eliminate stress because Omega-6’s can cause brain inflammation, which can lead to mood swings. Exercise is a well-known stress-reducer. For me, I love a nice run after a long day at work. It’s grounding and releases endorphins so I feel happy (or the “runner’s high”) after I’m done. Yoga is also nice because it’s meditative and allows me to slow down. Having a consistent sleep schedule is also key to reducing stress and allowing you to recharge and your body to take a break. Sleep allows your brain to slow and your body to rejuvenate. If you are missing out on sleep your rhythms can be affected along with your mood, memory, and judgment.


We all need breaks, and that’s okay. I am a massage therapist who preaches self-care and I allowed myself to slip into a routine of little self-care and added stress and wound up sick. I got a massage myself and went to yoga today and feel like a new woman. If we take care of ourselves we can be better workers, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and friends. Remember to take a day for you so the days don’t overtake you.

Why Going Inward Matters

The past 6 months have been extremely transformative for me. There has been heartache, anger, regret, joy, gratitude, and relief. That’s a lot of emotions for a person to feel (sometimes all within a couple of days of each other!), but growth only happens when we allow ourselves to feel and learn about these feelings. During this time, I’ve had to go inward and figure out from where these feelings came, why, and how to manage them, or hold space for them. If we face a feeling that is unpleasant, like regret, most of us want to run away from the feeling immediately, never face it, and forget that feeling came to us in the first place. But, as we all know from experience, when we stifle feelings they don’t go away, they fester, they bubble, and eventually explode. This can cause self-harm emotionally, it can hurt others if we take these feelings out on those we love, and we don’t really learn from them and manage the trauma from whence the feelings came.


So why go inward? Why feel? Well, when we sit with the feelings and are mindful of what is going on within our bodies we can start to figure out why we are having these feelings and how to work with them rather than run from them. Mindfulness is really about being present with your surroundings, your body, your feelings. It’s not a state of being but being in the state in which you find yourself. So, back to my example of regret. You feel that regret. Allow it to overtake you. What happens within your body as you feel this emotion? Breathe into those physical manifestations of that emotion. Don’t judge it, be with it. Take a breath and ask yourself from where this feeling came. Once you know, be with that memory. Don’t judge yourself or the situation, simply be and continue to feel. You will notice the physical manifestations of that emotion will start to subside as you land on the “why is it here?” Feeling it won’t kill you, it may be uncomfortable, but you won’t be harmed by feeling it and being present with it in a non-judgmental way. The harm comes (mentally) when you start to judge your feeling. For example, “you deserve to feel this way,” “you are a bad person,” “good people don’t feel regret.” But really, as Marshall Rosenberg says, “Self-judgments, like all judgments, are tragic expressions of unmet needs.” So when you judge yourself, or others, there are needs there that were not considered and so you lash out at yourself or others to try and justify why you feel negatively. When you feel regret there was more than likely something you desperately wanted or needed, but couldn’t get, so you did something “selfish” to try to get that need met and when it turned out badly the emotion of regret set in. Self-compassion is crucial when going inward with your feelings, but it can be so difficult to do (trust me, I know from personal experience and I am a champion at making myself feel awful). This is where holding space for your feelings and your experiences is necessary because then you can feel, be present and mindful, but not judge and go into the downward spiral of self-loathing.


Of course feelings will pop up when you are not able to sit for a few minutes and explore the trauma. So, when that happens it’s still necessary to honor those feelings and think to yourself, “Yes, this feeling is here, I’m triggered in this situation” and notice what is triggering you, hold space (if it is a person triggering you) and understand they have unmet needs as well, and speak in a nonviolent way with the person about their feelings and yours knowing that both matter. This is not easy, it takes practice but it can absolutely be done. I would highly, highly recommend Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication, to help you have compassion for yourself and others and communicate in a kind way to yourself and others. Doing this and going inward will help you navigate all of your feelings in a skillful way. I’m still learning. I’m by no means perfect, at all! I hope this helps you and as always, offer yourself self-care and self-love so you can be at your best for yourself and those you love.

Healing Trauma

Trauma can be defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” Some people’s trauma can be the result of childhood experiences (abuse, being bullied, etc.), and some can happen in adulthood (divorce, loss of a loved one, and even a car accident). Trauma can cause depression, chronic pain, and even chronic disease. The body is stressed and therefor releases the stress hormones, which over long periods of time can fatigue the body lowering immunity or possibly causing pain.


Trauma has been shown to lead to depression because people can relive the trauma over and over again. In Teal Swan’s book, The Completion Process, she discusses how the brain doesn’t know the difference between past and present, so in reliving a traumatic experience the brain doesn’t know if it is happening right now or not and your body reacts. Over time this can cause depression and anxiety. Trauma is also linked to chronic illness. The “cell danger response,” or CDR,  is when the body’s nervous system is overloaded by environmental stressors and the body then experiences change in cell function and physiology, which can result in chronic illness. The body’s immune defenses are taxed, therefor causing cellular breakdown. Many of the diseases associated with trauma are autoimmune diseases. Finally trauma is linked to chronic pain because of the mind/body relationship which links emotional pain to physical pain. If the emotional part of the person is suffering and in pain, then the physical body can take on that pain as well.


So how can we work to heal trauma, illness, depression, and pain? First, if you are suffering from depression and/or PTSD always take your medication as prescribed. Anti-depressants can be a reset button and can help you and your brain remember how to produce your own feel-good hormones and regain your life. Other ways to help heal trauma is through meditation. As discussed in my blog on meditation, research shows there is link to calming the mind and body through meditation, which can benefit you if anxious and/or depressed. Diet is also huge in healing your mind and body. If you are eating highly processed foods, sugars, and inflammatory foods your body will feel sick, which in turn can cause depression. Switching to a whole foods plant based diet can truly help heal your mind and body. Exercise can also heal the mind and body because when you exercise your brain releases endorphins helping you feel good. Ever hear of the “runner’s high?” That’s endorphins. After cardio exercise some people feel “high” or extremely happy because their brain has released hormones that help them feel good. Finally, seek counseling. Having someone to talk to about your experiences can help relieve pressure and pain.


Every person has experienced trauma because it is any time you haven’t felt safe. Trauma can be life changing and if left unchecked it can over take you. Allow yourself to feel what you are going through and take care of yourself. Just as every person has experienced trauma, I believe every person can overcome trauma. The journey will vary from person to person, but trauma doesn’t have to define who you are.

How Do You Go with the Flow?

This past week has been insane, and it’s gotten me to think on how we can all better go with the flow. We all prefer to know the outcomes of our choices and know exactly how those choices will affect us and those around us, what will happen to us in the future, and how we can control our lives. But, we must admit it is rare when things turn out exactly how we visualize–sometimes they turn out better and sometimes seemingly worse. But, when they do seem to be taking a turn for the worse, that’s a time to remind ourselves to go inward and reflect. How can I make a better choice next time? What did I learn from this outcome? Did this help me grow or hinder my growth? As you reflect this helps you “go with the flow” and really let go.


It’s easier said than done, though. Our egos love to be right and control, and when we try to control every aspect of our lives, we can become frustrated and even affect our relationships negatively because, like many situations, people cannot be controlled. So, how do we let go and really allow life to carry us? For me, it’s faith. Faith that the universe, Spirit, God, Goddess (whatever name you give a higher power) has my back and even when things don’t go the way I would have liked, there has to be a better reason and I will come out better than I was before. Many times, those frustrations that take place when we are making decisions and the consequences are not what we wanted or expected are queues to us that we need to stop being overly impulsive, stop being overly controlling, and/or need to be more compassionate with ourselves and others. When acting out of love and compassion, it is much easier to let go and see where life takes us.


Letting go is a practice. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. Just like with yoga, running, and meditating you need to learn and continually practice at it. You will have easy days and days where going with the flow is more challenging and that’s ok. Those difficult days are learning experiences and are great for self-reflection. As I practice the task of letting go, I like to think of these words by the Sunni poet Rumi. While he and others with similar mantras were discussing a test or sieve to determine whether you should speak, I also feel it can be applied to your actions as well:

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

At the first gate, ask yourself “Is is true?”

At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”

At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

~ Rumi

By keeping this in mind, you will act more out of love rather than ego. And in acting out of love for yourself, you will be better able to let go of those things which no longer serve you and travel with the flow of life. Love and light to you all.

A Year’s Reflection

Reiki Thai Wellness is officially one year old! So many things have happened in the past year that I wanted to write about reflection, both on the self and situations. Too often we, myself included, go through life–each passing day, week, month, year–without really reflecting on the choices that got us to where we are. I hadn’t been reflecting until recently, and as my anniversary for the business approached I started to look at how things have turned out, what has manifested, and what has transpired over the course of this past year.


This past year has had many ups and downs. Professionally I’ve had mostly ups–a new career, a new business, great clients, a steadily growing client base–but on a personal level this is where it gets raw, I’ve had a few downs. I don’t want to get into all of it but there were a lot of changes and heartaches. I felt like I was caught in a whirlwind and wasn’t acting like my normal self. I was doing things that I normally wouldn’t do. No, no, no, nothing illegal, illicit, or anything like that, but just things that I normally wouldn’t have done as a 31 year old woman, wife, mother, etc. It almost seemed like I was regressing. On the surface I looked fine, maybe even happy, but on the inside my heart and soul was screaming. I didn’t hear the screams until late June when the whirlwind spit me out on my bum, and I looked around and wondered, “How in the world did I end up here!” That’s the big question, and that’s where the reflection comes in. In his book, Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg talks about “connecting with the feelings and unmet needs stimulated by past actions we now regret” (Rosenberg 133). I’ve been the master at beating myself up for my actions and what has led me to this place personally. We all do this: “I messed up, therefor I should suffer and I deserve what has happened.” But is this really true? Sure, we need to take responsibility for our actions but many times when we act in ways that hurt ourselves and those we love it’s because we have unmet needs. If our needs are unmet we can tend to act aloof, impulsive, resentful, and angry to name a few. When you realize what you have done and the mistakes you made, regret and self-blame can set in, which can be truly painful. We beat ourselves up, we tell ourselves we are terrible, we deserve misery, and so on. But, as Rosenberg explains, regret doesn’t have to go along with blaming and hurting ourselves, rather you can shift your attention to what you do need and go toward “creative possibilities on how to get that need met.” This shift of focus goes along with self-forgiveness. Rosenberg says, “When we listen empathically to ourselves, we will be able to hear the underlying need. Self-forgiveness occurs the moment this empathic connection is made. Then we are able to recognize how our choice was an attempt to serve life, even as the mourning process teaches us how it fell short of fulfilling our needs” (Rosenberg 133). In other words, we can only truly forgive ourselves when we listen to ourselves and understand what needs were not being met, how we tried to get those met, and how those needs can be better met in a compassionate and loving way rather than a destructive one. When we can look at our situation or ourselves with compassion (again still taking responsibility but without judgment on ourselves), then we can shift and make a necessary and caring change to better serve our needs as well as the needs of others.


Jacey Tramutt explains the best way to work on self-forgiveness is through a support system. Find a friend to confide in and have them listen, or find a counselor who can help you through your difficult time.  Another point she makes is to allow yourself to grieve. Grieve on the decision you didn’t make because oftentimes regret sets in because you couldn’t choose both decisions you were faced with, so allow yourself to grieve and go with it…feel it.  And finally, give yourself time. Time heals; it’s cliche but so true. What seems so hard and scary right now will not last forever. With time comes change and growth. It’s impossible to grow in a stagnant world, many times we need those soul-quakes to shake us and help us learn and be stronger.

Not every year is a shaky one. Certainly my business has been amazing, and I’m so grateful for it. Without it I would have been a mess because of the personal things I went through, and am still going through on many levels. But, I know this time next year (maybe, hopefully sooner) I will look back on this time and think, “Wow I made it and I’m a way stronger and better person than I was then. Thank goodness I went through that! And, Reiki Thai Wellness still rocks!” Reflect on your year–the good, the bad, the indifferent–and see where you can grow, for what you can be grateful, and what needs work. Love and light and thank you so very much for your support. I can’t wait to see you for a massage!


Healing Through Music

Do you ever turn on your car and immediately have a smile on your face when one of your favorite songs plays? When you feel down do you turn on your speakers and listen to music to feel better? Music and sound therapy are great ways to help with depression and healing. Music can uplift our spirits or slow our brain waves to a calming space.


Music therapy is becoming more popular to help people who are struggling with depression and even cancer. Music therapists either play music for you or teach you to play an instrument. Researchers are finding that music helps calm people during invasive surgical procedures, can help restore lost speech in patients who suffered from strokes, reduces side effects of cancer treatments such as nausea, helps with pain relief, and improves the quality of life for dementia patients. Music can be very calming and can help people go into a theta brain wave state, which aids in calming and can improve sleep quality.

In Britain, researchers found music therapy helped with depression when added to the standard practice of counseling and medication. They believe this is because it allows people to express themselves non-verbally especially when words can be difficult to articulate when in a depressed or anxious state, and can improve mood overall.


Many practitioners including massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, yoga teachers, and counselors use sound healing to help improve the energy found within the body. We all have energy within us that can help heal our minds and physical bodies. Sound can channel that energy further to facilitate healing and help calm the mind and body. Practitioners will use different tools such as voice, drumming, singing bowls, and tuning forks. It is ancient practice to use sound to move the energy we hold within us to help heal traumas that manifest in the physical body. Sound healing, like music therapy, can assist with depression and anxiety, sleep disorders, PTSD, stress management, and pain management.

I personally like to use singing bowls because they are calming and have an amazing effect in slowing down the nervous system. During a massage if someone is particularly tense I will rest the singing bowl on their body and bring it to sound. The sound is not only calming but the vibrations within the bowl move through the body and allows the client to relax. I also use music to calm people. While I do enjoy the typical meditation music during massages to relax people I will also play artists such as Norah Jones, Pink Martini, and Lindsey Stirling to bring familiarity to the client and something a little different. People often enjoy the popular music and say they feel happy listening to something they recognize. Many massage therapists, physical therapists, and counselors play music during their sessions to calm their clients and take their minds off of whatever is bothering them.


In my massage room I love to play fun and/or relaxing music. I love meditating to anything from Tibetan singing bowls to The Piano Guys. Music is a wonderful thing to add to your healing journey. When you come see me, feel free to request whatever music you like and I will add it to my play list; it’s your healing space.

How Can We Enjoy Life Guilt-Free?

For the past few days I’ve been having a lot of fun because I just bought a new Jeep Wrangler. No, material things don’t make one happy, but sometimes they can add to the experience. I’ve had a blast with the top off of the Jeep, enjoying music, seeing my son’s face light up as we drive fast and the wind blows through our hair, and the feeling of the warm sun shining down on us through a topless car. Then, ego starts talking. That voice of guilt, fear, anger, etc. My ego can be pretty nasty to me (then again, so can everyone’s). It started telling me how impractical this car is, how I’m irresponsible, and that it isn’t a good “mom” car. This got me thinking about why my ego and the egos of pretty much everyone on the planet dissuade us from fun and really living life to the fullest.


It has to do with trauma. Remember, trauma is anytime a person didn’t feel safe and secure. Our egos do have a purpose; they are the ideas we have of ourselves–beliefs, judgments, and culture. Parts of our egos (our beliefs) stem from traumatic events, be it an abusive childhood or enduring a childhood bully, and therefor the ego can dictate out of fear. This is a fear of that traumatic event happening again, but that fear is irrational. It’s trying to keep you safe, but it’s not from a place of love. The ego is not of love, ego can cause suffering because it wants to control. A new experience that is fun can be quashed by ego because of beliefs we gained from influential people in our lives. For example, when I was a teenager I actually begged my mom for a Wrangler (a friend of mine got one when she turned 16 and I wanted one too because I had a blast in hers). But, my mother said they are dangerous and unreliable. I ended up with a practical Toyota Tercel (yes, a 1987 Tercel with no air conditioning or radio!). Throughout my adult life I got cars that made sense because of what I was doing–a Ford Focus because it was inexpensive and ran well (she was a good car) and a Subaru because I got pregnant and needed a safe car for my family (she was not a good car). She was a 2013 when the clutch needed replaced and the transmission was starting to die, I’d had enough. I went on a yoga trip to the Sand Dunes, and my bunk mate had a Wrangler. I rode in it all weekend with her and learned a lot about them. I decided that was the car I wanted and three weeks later here I am. The point of this story is that my ego’s voice is that of my mother’s, an influential person who helped shape my ego. My mother has been wrong about many things, but that’s another story for another blog on another day.

So how do we have fun without listening to our ego? First, you need to become aware that your ego is doing the talking and try to decipher from where it comes. What trauma is causing the ego to fight you on your decision? Once you figure that out you can start to heal that trauma and then let go. Upon letting go you can start to enjoy life and truly have fun without allowing the ego to stifle your enjoyment on life.


What is the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine?

I’ve been asked several times to explain the divine masculine and the divine feminine by friends, loved ones, and clients. As the human species continues to grow and evolve so too does our desire to find balance within ourselves. Gender is your biological make up–those physiological aspects that makes one biologically male or female–while the divine masculine and divine feminine are energetic aspects that every human being carries within him/herself.


The Divine Feminine:

The divine feminine is represented throughout many cultures in the world–Mother Mary in Christianity, St. Brigid in Celtic tradition, Isis in Egyptian mythology–and when in a healthy and balanced state it shows nurturing, creativity, intuitiveness, and essentially represents the mother. When thinking about a mother one focuses on fertility, nurturing, and healing. For centuries, because of patriarchal society, the divine feminine has essentially been quashed, but now a resurgence of the want for love and nurture has come to pass. When the divine feminine is out of balance, one may feel a lack of self-love and a lack of self-confidence. When in balance, the feminine is intuitive, wise, and loving. The main aspects of the divine feminine are creativity, fertility, compassion, empathy, love, and acceptance.

In our culture, it is looked at as though men have to be “tough” and women need to be quiet and demure. But, we all have these qualities within us. Men can and need to be loving, compassionate, and nurturing, not only to others, but also to themselves. Mental health in this country is suffering, and it may be because we are stifling energetic aspects of ourselves. If men are told to “man up” and take it, of course they will bottle up their emotions and slip into self-loathing and depression. But what would it look like if men and women were able to freely express compassion? The world would be a kinder place. If we were able to freely express our compassion and love, there would be no need for war or hate because rather than coming from fear and aggression, we would come from love and peace. However, as important as the divine feminine is for our psyche, so too is the divine masculine. You cannot have one without the other. Everything needs to be in balance.


The Divine Masculine: 

The divine masculine is also represented across many cultures–Jesus in Christianity, Buddha in Buddhism, Mohammad in Islam–and shows aspects of fearlessness, courage, and loyalty. There is gentleness in the masculine’s strength and is never ego-based. The masculine is the protector of the feminine and is open to exploration of compassion and love and values sexual energy but from a loving standpoint rather than a dominating one. The divine masculine moves forward and puts ideas and thoughts into action. The masculine is open to exploration and learning new things. When out of balance the divine masculine is stagnant, afraid, and rather than exploring new things for himself, listens and believes what he is told without question.The imbalanced divine masculine will look to outside sources for happiness and will try to exert power in inappropriate ways–through ego, dominance, and anger. Sexual encounters are enjoyed but are not fulfilling in an unbalanced masculine energy.

Look at our culture now. There is a lot of unbalanced masculine energy both in males and females. Women will often look to outside sources for happiness whether in relationships or through body shaming and guilt. Many “powerful” men exert their power and abuse it to get what they desire–be it in business and/or relationships. So, how does one balance the divine masculine and feminine? How do we find harmony within ourselves so we have balanced scales of nurturing, love, and compassion with action, self-confidence, and courage?


It’s All About the Balance:

The best way to balance masculine and feminine energies is through meditation. Yoga is another great way to find balance in the masculine and feminine. Vinyasa is active and will charge your masculine qualities, while yin is a little more passive and allows you to sit in the quiet and offer nurturing to yourself. If you notice you are feeling out of balance in either aspect focus on changing that aspect before moving onto the next one. For example, if you feel you’ve been giving a lot of yourself and haven’t taken time for you, your feminine is likely stagnant. Look to massage, yin yoga, meditation on the goddess within, and self-care such as a quiet bath or time to write in a journal. If you are feeling fearful your masculine energy may be at a lull. Take time to go on a hike, a run, a bike ride, write down ideas and take the steps to put them into action–when afraid the best thing to do is act on those things you don’t think will come to fruition, even if in small ways.

We all have the divine masculine and divine feminine within. It doesn’t make one less of a woman to tap into her divine masculine, just as it doesn’t make one less of a man to tap into his divine feminine. We are all of the divine and as such have both divine energies within us. Embrace these aspects of yourself. When in balance, the two work together to heal and to make the world a kinder place.

Why Boundaries are Important

We all hear about the importance of boundaries, but many of us (myself included for a time) don’t really know how to set them and keep them. Many still don’t understand what healthy boundaries look like. “Boundaries are the limits of acceptable behavior” from those around us–professionally, personally, and even with those we don’t know. But how do we set boundaries? So many of us worry about what others may think about us or that we will upset others we often don’t speak up for ourselves, which in turn can cause resentment and anger.


Matt Kahn has a video I would highly recommend. It’s long so make sure to allow yourself time with it, but he talks about setting boundaries and why they are important. He essentially states that boundaries are a way for us to make and take time for ourselves to recharge. If we are feeling nervous, angry, or fatigued at the thought of being with a person or doing an activity someone has asked of us that is our nervous system saying we need a break. Matt Kahn explains you can say something along the lines of, “I really want to be present for you, but right now my nervous system cannot take that on. I’m going to have to say no.” I thought this was brilliant because I personally relate to my nervous system feeling overworked when I haven’t been setting boundaries and giving too much of myself to others. I will get to a place of fatigue and want to check out. In the past I would just put a smile on my face and carry on doing what others asked of me, but how did this really help them and myself? It didn’t help them because they didn’t get 100% of my energy and it didn’t help me because I would become exhausted and/or resentful. This isn’t good either because people catch onto that energy and they either back away or expect more and more of you because you always say yes.


Boundaries need to always come from a place of love because they are meant to support our own well-being and that of others. The two types of boundaries–internal and external–are equally important. The internal boundaries are personal agreements with ourselves to modify a relationship. External boundaries are those we verbalize to another person. In setting boundaries this is a place of authenticity and love. Boundaries also allow us to be truly present, either with ourselves or loved ones.

It can seem foreign to set and keep boundaries, but they are essential for our mental health. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of and help others. If we are resentful or a doormat, how could we be at the top of our game? It takes practice, but once you start you will realize you feel much better, and you may even inspire others to take care of themselves and make boundaries of their own. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi


What Does it Mean to be Present?

For the past few days a friend of mine has challenged me to set a daily intention. Today my intention was to be fully present in all I did, which was difficult with some things and easier with others. But what does it mean to be “present”? I’ve discussed this idea regarding mindfulness and meditation. But it goes even farther.


Being present means being fully immersed in the moment, or fully aware and involved in what you are doing or seeing. For example, when you cook dinner you may have kids running around and you’re worried they are making a mess or possibly bickering. You may be checking your phone off and on in between stirs of your cooking stew. You may be having a discussion with your partner while you chop the veggies. This can cause chaos in your brain, in your body, and in your surroundings. Rather than focusing on many different things, being present would mean focusing on your one task–dinner. This is where creating boundaries is essential. You need to have boundaries in all of your relationships so that you and your loved ones feel supported and cared for. You could tell your children, “I’m going to start dinner, so I’m wondering if you would be willing to do a quiet activity as a team, like a puzzle or coloring.” You could get the kids squared away doing what they want to do, and then you could tell your partner, “I’m interested in knowing about your day, but would you be willing to tell me about it during dinner, so I can focus on cooking?” Maybe offer her or him to go have some time to decompress. Put your phone in the other room, so you don’t feel tempted to check on it. Now you can really get to the present. You can really focus on chopping the veggies–feel the knife chop through the onion, feel the difference in chopping a tomato versus a bell pepper, smell the aromas each veggie releases. Hear the sounds of the vegetables as you sauté. Smell the spices and ingredients come together. Feel the sensations in your arm and hand as you stir. Feel the heat coming from the stove. Notice the pleasure and sense of pride you get from creating something out of these ingredients. This is presence. This is the art of being immersed in your task. Doesn’t this sound better than the chaos in the first scenario? Sure, life happens and even when your kids are getting along, they may start bickering. Remind them you are cooking and try to have them work it out. You may get distracted, but coming back is what’s important; you don’t have to be perfect because this is a practice.


You can practice being present anytime and anywhere. While you practice yoga, are you truly present with your breath and the poses? While at the park with your children, are you watching them, enjoying the sun and breeze, and noticing the smells of the grass and flowers? While getting a massage are you really feeling the sensations in your body–the release of your muscles and the relaxation of your mind? Being present can be difficult due to the distractions of familial obligations, work, and social media. But even with these distractions, being present can be done. You can practice being present with the family–watching your child play soccer while feeling the grass under your feet as you sit on the sidelines; you can be present at work–put your phone down and close the extra tabs on your computer and be present (of course take breaks as needed, but while working, focus entirely on the work); and start taking breaks from social media–limit it to once a day (this is easiest when you take the apps off of your smartphone), or you can limit the amount of time you’re on social media by setting a timer on your phone. Being present is being mindful and this does have immense benefits on your mind and body from decreased anxiety to improved cognition.


Set your intention to be fully present. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s difficult at first. Not to be too cliche, but practice does make perfect. Give yourself time and before you know it, you will be enjoying the little things and maybe even feel more grateful seeing all the wonders of life happen around you.