Welcome to “My Better Day” July newsletter!
Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more! It is my deep wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!
In This Issue: Yoga Quote, Practice Yoga Pose, Meditation on the Go, Chakrascope,
Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music/DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC.
Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC
We’ve all experienced the bliss of being on vacation. That feeling where everything is wonderful and life is good, right? How many of us have vowed as we returned home NOT to let that feeling go away? Somehow we were going to hold onto the bliss. Well, I can recall too many failed attempts at this. All it takes is one look at your to-do’s upon returning to work and the work stress you left behind comes back to you as if you’d never left.
I used to have the California territory when I worked for Rayovac several years ago. So my job took me out there throughout the year. Old Town, San Diego has this wonderful Mexican restaurant where you can eat outside. My husband and I took a long weekend there a couple of times. We loved Old Town.
The other day my husband and I were eating at a wonderful, local, fast-casual, Mexican dining place called La Fagota’s in Brooklyn Park, MN. La Fagota’s Mexican restaurant is decorated with hand-carved walls, chairs and tables in vibrant colors picturing jungles, birds, flowers, and Mexican architecture. The atmosphere brought back that “Old Town, San Diego” feeling for me that day. The couple of times we went to Old Town, San Diego, it was a celebratory vacation commemorating something we had just achieved in our personal lives. That feeling was revived as well as the usual vacation “life is good” feeling as we walked in to La Fagota’s.
Each booth table and bench is uniquely decorated so each visit provides a different view and experience—if you let it. The booth wall behind my husband displayed an image of a brown horse. Immediately I started thinking of our trips to Custer, South Dakota (a great weekend trip by car for us) and the Dark Horse Steak and Brew restaurant. The Dark Horse restaurant has paintings of horses decorating each booth, so staring at the one behind my husband easily put me back there. We always have fun in South Dakota and are always in a casual, laid-back kind of mood at this low-key restaurant. To steal a keyword from Emeril: “Bam!” I was back in South Dakota with that moment’s memory.
At this point I was thoroughly enjoying the great mood I was creating by using “props” in my view. I noticed the carved decoration in the booth to my left featured architecture similar to a chapel like the one we saw on yet another trip to New Mexico a few years ago in Chimayó. “Chimayó is also believed by many to be the site of a miracle which occurred about 200 years ago.
Miraculous healings are believed to have occurred at the site where a wooden crucifix was unearthed. Because of this, a chapel was built in 1816 called el Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas. This chapel, now commonly called el Santuario de Chimayó, is the destination of thousands of pilgrims and travelers each year who come for various reasons; some hoping to be healed, some simply for curiosity, and some hoping to be restored spiritually by the tranquility and hospitality of the surroundings.” http://chimayo.us/
I still have a little medallion souvenir I bought there that I often wear. It’s a magical place. I started to chuckle as I realized I had three different vacation spots coming into mind along with their subsequent “vacation state of mind” moods (and no, I had NOT had a drink yet!). The shift into this excellent mood was quick and sustaining for the rest of the day. I marveled at how easy it was and thought, “THIS is something I want to remember to do more often”!
Keep in mind I had been to this restaurant before and always had a good time because the food and service are great. Perhaps I had always had these underlying “vacation state of mind” moods but didn’t identify them while I was there. I don’t know. Now all I need to do is close my eyes and visualize those places, putting myself there again, and “Bam!” – Vacation state of mind mood at my calling! What props can you use right now to prompt your personal vacation state of mind mood?
Maybe it’s something you bought on a trip. Maybe it’s a special meal you can prepare at home, or even a hot bath. Maybe it’s the act of going to a movie locally, or ordering Netflix with homemade popcorn. Maybe it’s looking at photos from a fun day on vacation. It might help to practice this exercise of thought as you begin a weekend. That itself can be one of your “props”—using the time of day or week.
So try putting your own little umbrellas into your drinks (be they alcohol or Kool-Aid), putting on that Hawaiian shirt you bought on your beach vacation, and spritzing on that favorite cologne from the hotel lobby or restaurant gift shop you were at on that memorable trip (mine was one of the first trips we took as a married couple in Ft. Lauderdale, FL many moons ago—the cologne was “Wicked Wahine” and the restaurant was MaiKai, http://www.maikai.com/ …think I’ll go online and see if they still make it: http://www.wickedwahineperfume.com/).
The sense of smell is the quickest trigger of memory, so it makes an excellent “prop” for your vacation state of mind. “ A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it’s sometimes called the ‘emotional brain’. Smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.” http://health.howstuffworks.com/smell3.htm
Music also helps create a mood, so try putting on one of your favorite feel good songs (vacation-oriented or not). I have several. Remember the Growing the Positive Mind book I referenced in my May newsletter? (https://betterdayyoga.com/archives.htm). This book recommends creating your own CD of “upspiral” songs that will lift you into a good mood. My list keeps growing!
If I want to relax, I have many relaxing songs to choose from. I love mellow music, but there are days when too much of a good thing like mellow music coupled with a bad experience just starts to bring me down. So then I use more lively music.
When I was 17, I was driving to high school and the song “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow” by Fleetwood Mac came on the radio. I knew right then I’d remember that moment and that feeling forever as I tapped my non-gas-pedal foot to the floor in time with the song and sang at the top of my lungs. This song will continue to make me look happily toward the future for the rest of my life! The following version has the added benefit of including the University of Southern California’s Trojans Marching Band. “Gotta” love band music! Enjoy the listen!
You know it doesn’t have to be a vacation memory. This just happened to work for me. That total “letting go” feeling is best induced during vacations for me. It might be different for you—lucky you! The point is you have the ability to change your mood at a moment’s notice/thought. And for me, once I mastered it so easily in the restaurant, I’ve been practicing it regularly since.
So if you see me in person with that far away, relaxed look in my eye, you’ll know where I’ve just been mentally! Try it—the worst that will happen is you’ll induce a good memory for a moment. But I bet the more you practice, the longer that memory stays with you and influences your current mood.
Remember, it’s not the material thing you bought that makes the mood. It’s the experience that came with it that makes the mood. Go for the experience. “Recent research suggests that spending your spare change on transitory experiences — like a trip to the theater or a relaxing vacation — will bring stronger and longer-lasting satisfaction than if you’d spent the extra moolah on material objects.” http://www.realage.com/tips/the-buying-decision-that-makes-you-happy?eid=7192&memberid=5734411
There are other ways we can use this “state of mind” mood enhancer. For those of you who aren’t 30 yet, the following probably won’t make sense. Remember when you hurt yourself physically in your younger years and thought “Yes, this hurts”, but you knew it would go away? The body always healed easily then. Well sometimes as we get older, we quit believing the body will recover when we have a pain. We begin thinking, “uh-oh, what new pain has today brought me that comes with age” as though we have no say in the matter.
What if we tried to sustain that optimistic, youthful state of mind of being easily healed—that all will be well because the body knows what it’s doing? When did we quit believing that? So you don’t believe that recreating an optimistic, youthful state of mind will affect the physical health of your body? Have you heard of the “Counterclockwise experiment”?
“The ingenious counterclockwise experiment was conducted in 1979. Langer and her students recruited two small groups of elderly men to spend a week living in a secluded New Hampshire monastery. Those in the control group spent the seven days reminiscing about the past, while those in the experimental group effectively re-entered the past. Their environment was designed to convey the impression they were living in 1959. They watched movies, listened to songs and read magazines from that era and discussed “current events” such as the first U.S. satellite launches.
Both groups came out of the experience with their hearing and memory improved. (It appears our bodies respond to being intellectually and emotionally engaged.) But members of the experimental group experienced more dramatic benefits. They were more likely to improve their scores on an intelligence test; more likely to show improvement in joint flexibility and dexterity; and more likely to look younger, as judged by a group of outside observers who compared before-and-after photos. Also, their fingers were longer. Since their arthritis declined in severity, they were able to extend their digits past the point they could a week earlier.
A fluke, perhaps? Well, Langer offers plenty of other data suggesting a strong link between self-perception and health.” http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/botox-for-the-brain-3507/
There appears to be a Hollywood movie in the works focusing on the counterclockwise experiment, starring Jennifer Aniston as the research psychologist. It’s on my list of things to watch for!
We’ve all heard of Norman Cousin’s laughing himself back to health, right?
“Certain emotions and attitudes — such as pessimism, aggression and anxiety — are being identified as detrimental to sustaining good health and to recovery from illness. Others, such as optimism and emotional closeness to others, have been found to be conducive to physical well-being.” http://www.mindandlife.org/conf90.html. Perhaps Oliver Wendell Holmes is right—“ We do not quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing.”
This optimistic, youthful body image of being easily healed is a bit harder for me than the vacation state of mind because I’ve been through some physical injuries (hence I sought out the healing benefits of yoga and the rest is history!). Remembering how it felt to trust in the body’s innate healing abilities was recreated during one of my recent dreams. The dream simply put me in that state where I had faith in my body’s ability to heal like I did when I was younger. I don’t remember if I was younger in the dream than I was in reality, (we won’t go into all that!), I only know when I woke up I held onto that feeling and thought, “Why not try to hold onto that feeling all the time?” It felt so good, so why not?
This feeling slips away for me at times, but the way I see it, if I felt it once, I can recreate it again. So I practice. I’m not saying you can “positive think” a serious illness away (although there are some that have done exactly that); I’m saying that when you remove positive thinking and the belief in your body’s natural ability to heal, you’ve lost the most important member of your get-well team—yourself! Why would you knowingly do that? Again, believe what you will, but if feeling positive about my body’s inherent healing ability makes me feel better, it’s on my list of worthwhile practices! So what props do you need to feel better about your body’s ability to heal?
It may be a removal of props, like unsupportive people. I have a wonderful, supportive husband who makes my life a joy. He is my best moment and my most wonderful times. A smile from him puts me into a state of joy no matter where I am or what I’m doing. So I have a leg-up with him around. He’d tell you the feeling is mutual. So there’s a clue—to have a good friend, be one. I also incorporate many healthful practices into my life, many of which are outlined in my monthly musings here. You can access past newsletters by hitting the archives link at the top of the current newsletter page: https://betterdayyoga.com/archives.htm
So put on your favorite old song, watch TV Land instead of the latest “reality” shows, and remind yourself that the human body was created to heal itself. There’s a great quote by Wayne Dyer that fits well here: “You don’t need to work at getting healthy; health is something you already have if you don’t disturb it.” Here’s a GREAT link of old TV memories. For those of you who didn’t live through this early TV, you are in for a real treat! For those of you who did, you’ll enjoy remembering when TV was really fun: http://rootsgpk.blogspot.com/2010/04/lane-each-one-of-these-are-film-clips.html
“Science has proven that our bodies, at the atomic level, recreates 98% of itself in slightly less than one year.” http://www.frequencyawareness.com/articles/health/is-my-body-unchangeable.html
“On the molecular and cellular level, the body that you had four years ago no longer exists. It has been entirely replaced, atom by atom.” Deepak Chopra , MD. In his book, The New Physics of Healing, Chopra discusses how specific emotions influence your biochemistry and your health and how imagination affects the course of an illness. He discusses that ingrained belief that we have limited healing potential which I’m trying to get at here. Study after study shows what we think and feel affects our health. Maybe it’s about time we made THAT our ingrained belief.
So immerse yourself into an optimistic youthful state-of-mind and body. I know that by believing in my body’s undeniable ability to heal, the hope that tomorrow will be better will never leave me. There’s nothing wrong with that belief. It doesn’t blame me if I still hurt tomorrow. It doesn’t mean I caused any of my physical ailments. It simply means that I believe “time heals all wounds” regardless of age— that tomorrow holds the hope of “better”.
You might call me a “Pollyanna”, but there are others like me! Just remember, that optimistic, youthful state of mind never left you. It’s still there as the “Clockwise experiment” proved. All you need to do is reawaken it. “Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.” ~George Weinberg