Category Archives: Self Healing

Curbing Anxiety and Overwhelm in 5-4-3-2-1!

by Satya (Tricia) Hurley, M.Ed.

Anxiety and overwhelm is something most people experience at varying times in their life.  Did you know, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America1 anxiety disorders affect 18% of adults and 25% of children ages 13-18? Michael and I see many folks come to our practice for support with both situational and diagnosed stress and anxiety-related challenges.  Regular treatment in either Reiki or acupuncture, along with appropriate medical care, does wonders to support overall balance. And there are things you can do at home too.

One of my favorite anxiety self-care techniques is the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique because it’s something straightforward that you can do anytime and anywhere to relieve stress, anxiety, and overwhelm.  In this article, we’ll explore how to do this technique and why it works from a holistic and mindful perspective.

Holistic body-mind-spirit and body-based trauma theories acknowledge an integral connection between these three parts of our being. A heightened state of anxiety has a direct impact on our central nervous system.  Our fight, flight, freeze response is activated, creating a sort of tunnel vision.  In this space, we are disconnected from our thinking, rational mind.

Holistic theories suggest that one of the most effective ways to restore a state of calm is to reconnect with the breath and the body.  No matter what the trigger, we can use this information to draw upon resources that anchor us back to the present moment and re-engage with the rational, thinking part of our brain.  In mindfulness, we describe this as bringing the mind home to the body. When we bring the mind home to the body, we use the breath and the senses to bring about a state of calm awareness. When in a grounded and present state, we have greater access to supportive inner resources that can more effectively help us navigate whatever situation is at hand.

Grounding is a resource that helps us anchor to the present moment. When we feel present, we are able to access supportive inner resources more readily.  The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding technique is a simple, safe, and effective tool to engage the 5 Senses.  It can be done anytime, anywhere.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

First, use your breath to center.  Begin by inviting in a long, slow, deep breath.  Let it fill your entire being.  When the breath is ready to exhale, do so as slowly as when the breath came in.  It helps to do about 3-5 breaths like this to begin.

5 Things You Can See; 4 things You Can Touch; 3 Things You Can Hear; 2 Things You Can Smell; 1 Thing You Can Taste

Repeat 5-4-3-2-1 as many times as needed to bring a sense of calm.  If possible, spend a few minutes after in quiet, centered breathing.  I love that this is a tool you can do immediately and relatively discretely, pretty much anywhere.  Its use of the five senses makes it a fantastic anchor to reconnect with your body and with the present moment!

Enjoy and have fun playing with this at any time!  It works equally effectively with children, teens, and adults.

1https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

3 Keys to Daily Success

by Satya (Tricia) Hurley, M. Ed.
Reiki Master Teacher and Co-owner, Cup of Life Healing Center

How can you set yourself up for success in 2020 or at any time in your life?  Habit experts say to create specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound goals.  S.M.A.R.T. goals are excellent advice for the essential tasks we want to accomplish.  AND, there’s a bit more to it than that.  What sets the foundation for any long-term success is our mindset, our way of BEing.  With the right mindset and inner-relationship, anything is possible.

So, how do you get there?  The most effective method I have found is simple but not always easy.  Create daily intentions, daily rhythm, and daily reflection.  These three key points are the focus of this article.

KEY 1: DAILY INTENTIONS.
The first and most crucial step is to CHOOSE, choose HOW you want to show up, for YOU!  Key questions to ask yourself regularly, “How do I need to show up for ME today so that I can BE the best version of myself possible? What inner qualities do I want to cultivate so that Life flows no matter what obstacles arise?”

Ask yourself an INTERNAL question of the state of BEing you desire for yourself.  Every day I resolve to be balanced, grounded, and focused.  I offer all that I do for the highest and greatest good of all and invite this intention to live through me in all of my actions.  Your answer to this question may look different. The critical takeaway is to choose something you desire from your heart. It might be inviting optimism, hope, inner transformation, or something else. Most importantly, tune in with something that is meaningful for you and supports the internal values and qualities you desire in your life.

Deeper intentions based on values guide the power to create lasting and sustainable change. Yet, we often get caught up in the day-to-day. Or worse yet, we let outside circumstances have control over how we feel and react. When I consistently and intentionally choose the tone of my day, everything seems to flow better.  Challenges become more easily navigable and turn into opportunities and blessings.  Mindset makes all the difference.

KEY 2: DAILY REFLECTIONS.

While intentions set the tone for the day, reflections reconnect you to your intentions and support continuous growth. It is an opportunity to pause, check-in with you, and ask, “How am I doing in this moment?” or “How did I do today?”  Regular reflections allow you to see what’s working and what’s not and make micro-adjustments to realign you with your intentions.  We will look at this in more detail in the context of the third key, daily rhythm.

KEY 3: DAILY RHYTHM.
Daily Rhythm is HOW we incorporate both intentions and reflections into our lives. Rhythm means creating some predictability in your day. Research shows when we have a healthy amount of form and predictability in our world, anxiety reduces, stress reduces, and we more readily access our inner resources that support our overall well-being.  While intentions set the tone, supportive routines and rhythms cultivate a fertile internal environment for your intentions to grow.

Simplicity is KEY.  Here are 4 Essential Steps for Daily Rhythm:

  1. EVERY MORNING – Set your intention. Ask yourself those essential questions of what tone and energy you want to bring into your day.  COMMIT to HOW you want to show up for yourself.
  2. EVERY MORNING – Do simple centering practices that anchor your intention. Focus. Begin anew.
  3. MID-DAY – pause and reconnect with your breath.
  4. EVERY EVENING – reflect, breathe, and give thanks.

We’ve already covered the first item above, the importance of daily intentions, so let’s break down the remaining three steps in setting a daily rhythm.

Centering/Anchoring Practices.
Anchoring practices are an essential part of rooting your intention into your being. They are the glue that helps your intended tone stick, so you begin to live out your purpose.  Incorporating these practices can be a simple act of getting up just 15 min. earlier each morning.

For me, this often looks like:

  1. 5-10 minutes of self-Reiki every single morning before I get out of bed. Since Reiki is an energy of unconditional love, I begin every day by inviting it into my being, which promotes balance and inner peace.
  2. 5-10 minutes of quiet sitting. If I haven’t set my intention yet, I do it here.  Then, I center, ground, and breathe.  The actual practices vary depending on what I need that day but always involve bringing stillness to my body, awareness to the present moment, and attention to my breath.
  3. 5-10 minutes of self-reflection or journaling. Journaling is especially helpful if I have awoken “on the wrong side of the bed.”  In general, it allows me to further anchor in my intention or process and release any worries or concerns I have going into the day.

Mid-day Reflections.
Once the day gets going, we tend to get busy and end up on automatic pilot. If your intention is not entirely a habit for you yet (or even if it is), setting reminders a few times during the day to reconnect with it can be a powerful way to support your inner transformation. One of my favorite ways to do this is to pause for just 60-seconds at pre-set intervals throughout the day.  In that 60-seconds, step away from whatever you’re in the middle of, close your eyes, and focus on your breath.  Remind yourself of your intention.  Anchor back in.  When the 60-seconds are up, you’ll still have the next 59 minutes of the hour to continue with your daily “doing.”

End of Day Reflections.
Changing your mindset and underlying beliefs are some of the most potent internal shifts you can make to impact your life positively.  They don’t always happen overnight, so it is truly an act of continuous self-improvement.  That is why it is essential to take a short inventory before letting our head hit the pillow. 

Each evening, ask yourself, “How did I show up for myself today?  What worked well?  What got in my way? How can I adjust tomorrow to be even better?  And, most importantly, what am I thankful for about this day?”  With that, it’s helpful to spend a few more minutes in quiet sitting and, if you’re attuned to Reiki, give yourself a treatment as you fall asleep to round out the day.

All of the above is a practice, so be gentle with yourself and keep your attention on your development.  Remember, progress not a linear process; it is a dance.  Cut yourself some slack when you have seeming setbacks.  When you take charge of your mindset and beliefs, you also take charge of how you respond to life’s ups and downs. Take inventory of what you can learn and keep moving forward.  When you are proactive about your mindset each day, you begin to lead an empowered life.  No matter what your goals and aspirations, you can accomplish anything with a reflective outlook.

Great Relationships Means Releasing Expectations

by Michael Hurley L.Ac.

Do you want to have better relationships with co-workers, family, a significant other or just anyone you meet?  Try lowering your bar.  I know that is a blunt statement and please know that I am referring to healthy relationships not emotionally or physically abusive relationships.  If those apply to you, get help removing that relationship from your life.   

Recently, I have re-acquainted myself with “If the Buddha Married” by Charlotte Kasl.  This is an amazing book that introduces Buddhist concepts in the context of married couples.  It is a book that Tricia and I began reading when we were having a particularly difficult time in our relationship and it is something that I always find myself going back to.  In this particular read through, and there have been many for multiple reasons, I really resonated with the chapter where she talks about accepting what is and not being attached to what isn’t.  In Buddhism, there is an idea that we go through a certain amount of suffering in our life.  This is not to say that all life is about suffering but that we negotiate suffering at certain points in our lives.  The other important thing is that we are actually the cause of our own suffering not other people or things even though we may feel that way sometimes.  

That brings me to the point of this article. We are the cause of our own suffering. Through our expectations of what, we feel, should be but is not happening in our lives, we induce suffering on ourselves.  It is no one else’s doing. Sure, someone else may be the trigger for some unresolved emotion(s) around a past situation that still needs to be addressed by you. The next time you find that you are blaming someone else for “making your life miserable” or causing you to be sad or anything that you might consider negative, stop, breathe, and ask yourself, “Who is really the cause of my suffering?” Is it the person who cut me off in the rotary or is it I who expects that everyone knows exactly where they are going or that they are concerned with my stress level?  Is it my spouse not having dinner ready or making plans that conflict with my own or is it I who expects them to know that I am hungry or that I have a different plan for the evening?  Life is seen through an infinite number of perspectives and the chances of one person seeing things in the exact same way as we are astronomical.  Understanding that, it makes being patient with our fellow humans much easier. Understanding this means that the other person is not doing something to me that I should be offended at.  It just means that they were not seeing the situation in the same perspective that I saw it.  In this case, I can send love to the situation not anger and the universe can flow more freely for all of us.

As you can see, relationships do not necessarily mean romantic relationships.  We are all in relationships with each other. We upset each other, we support each other, and a host of things in between.  The common thread is that we have a responsibility with each other to be truthful and honest about what we feel and what we need.  That way each person has a chance to respond in a loving way.

So, the lesson is that we need to detach from the desire for what is not and accept what is in our lives.  A great way to do this is to practice gratitude.  In one of my past articles, Make a Choice in How You Start Your Day, I offer a nice morning routine that helps to make this practice a priority.  I hope you like it and I hope you liked this little message. I think it is a great little reminder for the holidays ahead.

 

Happy Holidays!

Acupuncture and Your Immunity

by Michael Hurley L.Ac.

  • Are you feeling run down, stuffed up, like your head is going to explode?
  • Are your children or co-workers sick?
  • Have you been outside in the cold enjoying this beautiful Fall we have been having?
  • Are you looking to do whatever you can to stay healthy as cold and flu season arrives?

If so, this may be a helpful article for you.

Many people have been coming in to be treated for colds and allergies.  This is the time of year for it. It is also a very important time to be treated correctly.  This means ridding the body of the pathogen as opposed to pushing it down with immuno-suppressive drugs like antibiotics.  The best way to stay healthy is to be proactive and preventative by bolstering your immunity. In this article, I want to share with you the Chinese Medicine perspective on immune health and specific things you can do to support it.

The goal of acupuncture is to keep the body in balance. Specifically, we look at the balance between different types of Qi (pronounced “CHEE”), or energy. Three types of Qi need to be strong.  The Wei Qi, The Ying Qi, and the Yuan Qi. The Wei Qi is like our invisible suit of armor. It protects us from the elements(i.e. wind, cold, rain).  The Ying Qi is our nutritive Qi. In other words, the Qi that is derived from what we eat and what we drink. Lastly, the Yuan Qi, which helps everything circulate through our bodies.  This is held in the Kidneys.

I often say that good health does not mean you never get sick.  It means that you don’t stay sick. This is an essential point.  All three types of Qi are needed to support proper immune function.  The Wei Qi (the invisible suit of armor) will help keep pathogens out of the body.  However, this acts in waves. So, even when the Wei Qi is strong, it is still very possible for a pathogen to enter the body.  This is why having a strong Ying and Yuan Qi (nourishing and circulating energies) are equally important. They are extra defenses.  Healthy Ying and Yuan Qi promote strong digestive, lymph, and circulatory function. When these systems are also in balance, the body is able to handle pathogens once the get in.  

Tips for a healthy immune system:

    • Eat seasonally – Lots of fresh vegetables
    • Reduce sugar – This is for any season but especially Fall where we are trying to avoid lung and sinus infections.  Infection occurs when heat congeals excess phlegm and sugar causes excess phlegm.
    • Add more garlic – Garlic has great antiviral properties
    • Add more ginger – Ginger has great antihistamine properties in addition to the invaluable digestive benefits.
    • Increase your low impact exercise – Take a walk everyday will help build your Wei Qi.  A 30 minute walk after dinner is actually part of the asian food pyramid.
    • Have fun – Depression is a huge immune-suppressor.  So, be sure to get out as much as you physically can and enjoy the Fall festivals and your fellow human beings.
    • Dress for the season – I know, every once in a while we get a warm day and we all want to wear our summer clothes just one more time.  It is Fall though and we need to understand that our bodies need to be covered. Clothes are kind of like Wei Qi. Make sure your wrists, ankles, and back of your neck are covered even lightly to avoid “Wind invasion”.
    • Get more rest – As I state in my article Fall and Your Health, the Fall is a time to reap the benefits of what we have been working on this year.  So, try to add some more rest to your day.

 

  • Get Regular Acupuncture. Consistent treatment promotes balance and flow of Qi in your body and helps ensure systems are strong when you need them to be. Also, it gives you a great excuse to come in and take an acu-nap. 

 

You will thank yourself this winter if you take preventative measures now.  I would suggest coming in at least once every other week for preventative maintenance from now through the winter. We also have several herbal formulas that will be very helpful for prevention and acute symptoms like sinus infections, cough and sore throat, chest congestion, etc.  If you do get sick, acupuncture can help speed the healing process. However, when the energy is in balance beforehand, you’ll likely get better even faster!

Please book your next appointment now! 

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Winds of Change

by Satya (Tricia) Hurley, M.Ed.

Today I want to talk about change.  Yes, change.  For many, that is a terrifying proposition.  We fear it, avoid it, turn it into some big story.  We feed it with worry and with fear—fear of what might be; fear of the unknown.  We get stifled and stuck. One of the worst things we can do for ourselves is to stay stagnant, fixed, unmovable. 

    • What if there were a way to navigate change with grace?  
    • What if we could access an inner knowing that supersedes all worries, doubts, fears, and anxieties?  
    • What if there were a way to unstick yourself from a rut?

We’ve all be there at one time or another, that place where overwhelm hits and you don’t know where to turn next.  Or, maybe you’ve found yourself, hunkering down, holding on even though you know the best and right thing to do is to let go. Old, limiting beliefs can stop us dead in our tracks if we let them.

Here’s a recent personal example: I lost my dad this past August.  My brother and I planned to release his remains on his birthday, October 1st, an act of fulfilling his final wishes. Our destination, the summit of Mount Washington.

As the day approached, I found myself making excuses upon excuses—reasons not to go, reasons why the weather wasn’t right, on and on. I had become accustomed to my dad’s ashes sitting in my living room awaiting their release, the last physical evidence of his body close.  I knew it wasn’t really him, but their presence brought me comfort just the same. So, when it came time to let him go, the will to do so did not come so easily.

Sometimes the mind will make up all kinds of stories to help us justify avoiding change. I found myself trapped in being overly attached to a fixed outcome, fuel for avoidance, excuses, and blame.  I had a clear picture in my mind. I wanted the day to be private, beautiful, warm, and sunny at the top of a mountain infamous for its volatile weather conditions.  All the stipulations I had placed for what things needed to look like were 100% outside of my control.

While certain parts of the view driving up the auto road were undoubtedly lovely, the weather at the top was windy, wet, cloudy, cold. In spite of the conditions, there were lots of people.  My mind kicked in with avoidance justifications–it’s going to be too muddy, too messy.  “Let’s just let go of a little bit here at the top and see what happens in this weather,” I said to my brother.  “We can release the rest lower down where the skies are clear and where there are fewer people.”

As it turned out, strong winds were EXACTLY what was needed to properly carry the ashes away.   We would not have known this without testing the waters. My big-picture lesson: the winds of change come in large, strong gusts. Anything less would have prevented the ashes from taking proper flight.

After our test release, we made our way back down the mountain to the spot that had been beautifully clear and sunny on our ascent.  As fate would have it, the weather below was no longer what I wanted it to be.  Resistance kicked in big time.  The urge to drive away, incomplete, avoiding finishing what we stared was unmistakable.  EXCUSES abounded. We knew we needed the wind, but the day did not look anything like my fixed vision.

Pause. Breathe.  Let go of expectations.  Surrender.  My inner voice grew. In faith and trust, take the first step toward what is. When you do, the whole landscape changes.  I knew we needed to return to the top. 

With surrender and a fresh perspective, a new option appeared.  A lower parking lot that escaped our earlier consideration magnetically drew us in.  As the car rolled forward, we opened to the conditions present—the cloudiness of not knowing. We opened and trusted that we were exactly where we needed to be, even if we couldn’t see clearly — guided to THE PERFECT spot.  Private. Windy. On the edge.

Gusts rattled the car, and there was not a single soul in sight.  Braced against a rock for our stability, my brother and I plunged our hands in our Pop’s remains.  In complete silence and unison, we released the first handful. My body filled with tears and joy all at once as I heard my dad’s voice in my inner ear, shouting, “YES!”.  This spot and these conditions were precisely what our dad had in mind.  We cracked open a couple of Guinness Draught’s (our dad’s favorite beer) and proceeded to spend the next hour laughing and shouting with joy as each handful of remains, prayers, love, and blessings found freedom upon Grace’s wings.  What we initially feared and resisted transformed into heart-bursting elation.

Where are you stuck in your life? Where are you resisting change? Is it physical, mental, emotional, all of the above? Whether the change is big or small, we as humans tend to hold on tight, even when what we hold onto is not healthy for us.

Sometimes we seem so sure, so sure that what’s next is going to be worse. Our mind creates all kinds of stories and avoidances. We project, what’s next might be scarier than what is. We tell ourselves, “At least I know what I’m dealing with.” in some justification for staying in the same old rut, the same old path. So often we fear the unknown and hold ourselves back. The winds of change need not be scary unless we make them so.  

A wise teacher once told me that fear is not a word; it’s an acronym.  F.E.A.R.:
False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

So I challenge you.  Whatever change or fears you’re facing at this moment, do something different. Do something to change your perspective so you can move forward, get out of that rut, live life. 

  1. Slow down.  Pause. Breathe. Invite yourself to connect to the present moment.
  2. Cultivate inner awareness. Be honest with yourself.  What is it costing me to hold on? How can I shift internally to be in truth and integrity with me? Focus on what is showing up for you instead of placing blame on outside people or circumstances.
  3. Be willing to be curious.  Invite a playful sense of wonder. What is here?  So what, what if I don’t “know” what I’m dealing with? How can I grow or learn from this?  What’s my part in this? How else can I look at this?
  4. Surrender.  Let go. Trust.  Open to the possibility of a different outcome. What’s the worst that could happen?  What’s the best that could happen? What’s the best that could happen if I changed my perspective?  What’s the best that could happen if I paused, breathed, and took a step forward in a new direction?
  5. Be willing to change what you can (your perceptions and reactions).  Release what you think “should” be and look for the gift in what is. Reclaim your energy and take charge of how you respond instead of reacting.
  6. Be gentle with yourself.   Change can’t be rolled up into a neat little package.   Personal transformation is messy and requires flexibility, fluidity, and faith. Let go of self-criticism.  Practice self-compassion.

These concepts are simple and challenging all at the same timesimple, not so easy. They require inner commitment, daily self-renewal, and practice.  They are also some of the most potent ways to navigate what might otherwise seem like an impossible task. So, I invite you to embrace the winds of change.  Invite the possibility that everyday life changes us into the next beautiful thing. Live. Learn. Grow. Be.

Why Pay Attention to Your Gut Health

by Michael Hurley L.Ac.

Do you suffer from fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, or weight gain?

Are your joints inflamed and sore all the time?

Do you suffer from an auto-immune disease or any other chronic illness?

It may be time to pay attention to your gut health.  As an acupuncturist and practitioner of natural medicine, I feel that my most important goal is to teach people of how important their diet and more specifically, their gut health, is in maintaining their overall health.

So what do I mean by gut health?  What I am referring to is the microbiome that lives in all of us.  This is the ecosystem of micro bacteria that lives in our digestive system, on our skin, etc.  There are good bacteria and bad bacteria, to put things simply. When the balance sways toward the bad bacteria, inflammation-related symptoms and disorders are more likely to occur.  When the balance sways toward the good bacteria, inflammation is diminished and prevented.

Some Basic Facts.  The average human carries an ecosystem made up of over 5 pounds of beneficial bacteria at all times.  There are over 500 species of these bacteria making up the 100 trillion residents that call your body home.  But remember, these aren’t just squatters. These are really good citizens when they are in balance. When they are not, just like in our outside society, things go awry.

A small sampling of disorders that can be caused by imbalanced gut health include ADD, autism, insomnia, weight gain, joint pain, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, dementia and Alzheimer’s, foggy headedness, UTIs and bladder inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, diarrhea and constipation, acid reflux, and has even been linked to various, if not all forms, of cancer.  These and many other disorders come about from excess inflammation in the body. In most cases, they can be prevented, cured, or the risks reduced by balancing the delicate ecosystem in your digestion. 

How do you balance your microbiome?  

  • Reduce sugar intake as much as possible.  Sugar feeds the unhealthy bacteria which then multiply faster than the good bacteria.  
  • Stop taking antibiotics and ingesting harmful chemicals, including from your food in the case of factory farmed meats and non-organic vegetables.  These kill all bacteria, good and bad. Additionally, more and more cases are showing that the bad bacteria are becoming immune to antibiotics due to their overuse in food production and in prescriptions.  
  • Eat more fresh vegetables and add more insoluble fiber to your diet.  This will feed the good bacteria which can then multiply faster than the bad bacteria.  
  • Consume more prebiotic foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.  Prebiotics are foods that feed the good bacteria and promote the growth of the colonies.
  • Add probiotics by consuming probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt and kefir.  The best way to get nutrients is through your food.  Consuming probiotics from food sources will also save money.  
  • Take probiotic supplements from your natural food store to add to the good bacteria.  Try to get brands that are hypoallergenic and vegan. It is best to spend more for a good product in this case.  Cheap probiotic supplements are a waste of money and do not provide benefit. Supplements should only be taken as a short term convenience when your lifestyle is busy.  If your life is too busy to eat right, fix it because no matter what you are doing, it is not more important than your health.
  • Meditation and stress reduction also balance the microbiome in your gut.  

So, where does acupuncture fit into all of this?  Acupuncture treats you as a whole.  This means that it balances your body, mind, and spirit.  As I have explained above, several things can throw off the balance of your gut bacteria.  These can be stress, food choices, medications, etc.  

  • Acupuncture can help you manage stress, providing a great environment for your microbiome.  
  • Acupuncture can balance the Qi in your digestive system so that the bacteria in your digestive system can get all the nutrients they need.  
  • Acupuncture can also mitigate pain and inflammation, thereby reducing the need for harmful pharmaceuticals which kill off beneficial bacteria.

Thank you for your time and don’t forget to book your next acupuncture appointment now.

A Recipe for Lasting Change

by Satya (Tricia) Hurley, M.Ed.
Co-Founder, Cup of Life Healing Center

Do you struggle to make and hold onto lasting change?  Do life’s circumstances seem to hold you back?  

A little history:  My parents separated when I was 4 years old.  My brother and I grew up splitting our time between two households. While our parents loved us and always did the best they could with the tools they had at the time, life was tricky.

As a teenager, I made a pact with myself—my adult life and my family’s life would NOT look anything like the one I grew up in.  I did not know what that meant at the time, nor did I have a clear picture what that entailed. However, to this day, I can easily recall an ultra-clear knowing from the depths of my Soul, a contract to transform my world.

It took many, many years before the spiritual part of that pact began to unfold and the journey still continues.  When I look back on my life and on other’s journeys, a clear pattern emerges. There are 6 KEY ingredients for creating lasting change. We’ll look at each in more detail.

6 KEY INGREDIENTS TO LASTING CHANGE:

  1. Take an Active Role
  2. Introspection
  3. Feel What You’re Feeling
  4. Letting Go
  5. Stick-To-Itiveness
  6. Trust

TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE:

This is the first and most important step.  I’ll use myself as an example to illustrate the point.  For many years, my path of personal change was a passive one.  Until well into my 30’s I looked for the answers outside of myself placing lots of blame on my parents and other circumstances outside of my control for what was “wrong” with me and the world.  I spent many years trying to force everything to look different.

I avoided.  I numbed.  I worked 60-90 hours a week so I didn’t have time to feel.  I moved 3,000 miles from home.  I climbed the corporate ladder and had “a big important job”.  On the outside, things had changed.  My life certainly didn’t look anything like that of my childhood—I had a wonderful husband, a fantastic salary, and a townhouse in Southern California less than a mile from the beach.

Yet, the inside hadn’t changed.  On the inside, I was miserable. The shroud over my core Self was thick.  Then, something happened—I got fed up.  By some act of Grace, I started to see that there had to be a better way to be.  I quit my job. I did yoga and meditated a lot.  I took action.  For the first time ever, I began to take responsibility for changing the way I felt and how I viewed and responded to the world.  And, that was just the beginning.  The true purpose of my teenage pact began to reveal itself.  I am thankful to say that the wonderful husband still remains in my world, but the rest has been nothing short of a miraculous journey.

INTROSPECTION:

Introspection is a courageous act.  It is the willingness to look INSIDE and an essential part of taking an active role.  In introspection, you look deeply within yourself and are honest with what’s really there.  For many, this is a terrifying proposition. The inner voices might sound something like,  “What will I find?”  “What if all I find out is that a horrible, worthless person is in there?”  “If I were truly honest with myself, I’d have to start taking responsibility and I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.”   “If I stop being angry at ‘them’, ‘they’ would win.”  Introspection is a crucial step to STOP shifting the blame on everyone and everything else.

This was a HUGE shift for me.  Instead of automatically getting mad at what was on the outside, I began to first ask things like, “What is this situation pushing on?”, “Why is this here for me?”, or “Even though this is uncomfortable, what spiritual lesson can I learn here?”  While there were and still are outer circumstances to navigate, the act of feeling and taking my power back, playing that active role in my process has made all the difference.

FEEL WHAT YOU’RE FEELING:

If I am being truly honest, this was the hardest part for me and it took the longest to embrace.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve met over the years that struggle with this too.  We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that if we somehow stop, ignore, or pretend our feelings not there that they’ll magically go disappear. Yet, often we justify continuing in this way out of fear—“If I let myself feel it, I might end up out of control and ruin my life or others’ lives.

Yet, there is nothing that could be further from the truth.  It takes a TREMENDOUS amount of energy to “keep everything in check.”  Every time we block our feelings, we block our creative energies and we cover over our True Self.  To this I ask—what is it costing you to hold onto that old fear, that old story? What is it costing you every time you deny your feelings and yourself?  It’s probably costing more than you’re willing to admit.

Give yourself permission to feel your feelings—all of them.  Let them all wash through your awareness. The good, the bad, and the ugly feelings are all fair game. Because, when you stop denying yourself, and you stop pushing things down, things will begin to shift. Energy will begin to flow.

LETTING GO:

When I finally gave myself permission to feel and process what I was feeling, old issues that previously seemed impossible to release, no matter how much other spiritual work I did, began to resolve.  The newfound inner peace and freedom have been nothing short of life-altering in a positive way.

Be willing to really look inside. Take a good look at your core beliefs, the things you tell yourself, your habits, your patterns, your tendencies, your gut reactions.  Be willing to let go of the parts of these things that do not serve you and call into your being all the tools you need to create new habits, to form new beliefs, to love and believe in yourself to make the effort worth it.

STICK-TO-ITIVENESS:

We’ve become accustomed to an “instant-fix” for everything.  Self-healing and self-reclamation in the most spiritual sense are far from an easy path. It takes an active, continuous, and concerted effort to let go of all of the things that hold you back, all of the excuses, all of the blame, shame, guilt and anger that keeps responsibility for change away.

Be willing to stay the course, even when it seems impossible. Be willing to trust that all the resources you need to align yourself with the Divine purpose for your life are already in place and they will show up on time.  Be patient with apparent setbacks. They might not be setbacks at all.  Instead, they just might be the very fuel you need to fulfill your purpose and path.

TRUST:

Above all, TRUST. Trust that within the core of your being is everything you need to heal and grow. There is no one being, nor anything that you need outside of yourself that you don’t already have. You are already your own perfect Divine being. You just don’t realize it at this moment because the shroud over your core has you caught in a false illusion that says otherwise.

IN SUMMARY:

  • Take an active role.
  • Look inside and be honest with yourself.
  • Give yourself permission to feel and heal.
  • Let go.
  • Make a continuous concerted effort.
  • Trust. Trust. Trust.

When I stay focused and dedicated to this, all that I need for my continued healing and continued path of dedication to being in complete and total alignment with my Souls’ purpose unfolds. All the people, places, and circumstances I need fall easily into place in my life and I continue to grow and heal. How might you incorporate these ingredients into your world?

Make a Choice in How You Start Your Day

by Michael Hurley L.Ac.

Do you struggle with staying on track with your day and keeping motivated? Do you sometimes get stuck or simply feel lazy all day long?  It’s true we have many stressors in our lives today between work and family, holidays, relationships, political climate, social media, television, etc.  It’s also true that concerning ourselves with these issues is unhealthy if done too intensely.  Deep down inside, we all know this.  However, the day tends to get away from us as these individual items add up.  Before we know it, we are overwhelmed and are not really sure how it happened.

So, in this month’s article, we’ll explore one of my most relied upon practices to move out of a funk and back into the flow of life. The most effective way I know is to begin your day is with a daily routine or practice.  I define a daily practice as an activity or group of activities that can help you set the tone for your day.  These are things you do for yourself to establish your physical and emotional well-being.  This is important to do before anyone else in the world has any influence over youYou choose your mindset independent of distractions or worries going on around you.

Many who read this will immediately say, “But, I don’t have time to add anything more to my day!”  Here’s the thing about time—when you really want to do something, the time always shows up.  Every day, Americans find lots of time to check emails, Facebook, and Twitter to find out what bad things are happening in the world.  We find time to fantasize about arguing with the person who cut us off in the parking lot or the center of town.  We find time to feel sorry for ourselves about our health, jobs, or relationships.  This isn’t five or ten minutes out of the day that I am talking about.

The average American spends hours per day wasting their thoughts and energy on these activities without even being aware of it.  This lack of awareness is a trap of the mind.  If we stay numb to our habits, then we don’t have to change. The mind is perfectly happy to keep you occupied all day long and stagnant in your ways.  Our mind makes us believe that other people’s opinions are more important than how we feel about ourselves or the beautiful lives that we actually live.

By doing a set of activities when you wake up, you set yourself up with a win for the day instead of getting caught up in negativity.  You can literally begin to retrain your brain and your thinking with this one simple practice. Now, I am not talking about spending hours meditating, doing CrossFit, or anything like that.  Those are great activities but the commitment to them can be stressful and is usually why we think we don’t have any time.  The mind is great at setting us up for self-sabotage, so instead, I am advocating to KEEP IT SIMPLE and BE CONSISTENT.

My favorite daily practice looks something like this:

  1. When your alarm first goes off in the morning, PRESS SNOOZE.
  2. Spend the next several minutes reviewing how you feel in that moment.
  3. Acknowledge 2 or 3 things that you are grateful for in that moment.
  4. Proceed with your day in a more positive and uplifted mood!

For example, after hitting the snooze button, let’s say you notice that your neck is aching.  You can start by simply being grateful for the fact that you actually woke up another day.  You can be grateful that you have feeling in your neck.  No matter what it is, make a conscious effort to notice something about your surroundings and be grateful for it.  Say it to yourself.  “I am grateful for this nice warm blanket.  I am grateful for my nice soft pillow.  I am grateful for …”

If you find yourself thinking you have nothing to be grateful for, and some people do at first, fake it.  Just say it anyway.  You may be discouraged with some life challenge, but instead of letting the mind derail the moment, “fake it till you make it.”  In the process, you will be teaching your mind to naturally seek out the good even if you do not fully believe it as you say it.

It’s even okay to be cynical at first, if that’s what it takes to get you started.  You might initially find yourself saying things like, “I am grateful for my partner who never takes out the trash or feeds the animals.”  After a couple of days of getting that out of your system, your mind will start omitting the negative part (which is simply your own ego).  Your mind will then it turn this into something like, “I am grateful for my partner.”

Genuine gratitude feels great. After a few days of doing this, your mind will start adding on by saying something like, “I am grateful for my partner who earns money for us to pay the rent or mortgage.”  Or, “I am grateful for my partner who is an incredible caretaker for my children.”  With consistent practice, your thoughts and the depth of your gratitude will deepen and grow.  In fact, as you practice, you may find that your gratitude can go on forever which is another great reason for hitting snooze as opposed to turning the alarm off.

I cannot emphasize enough, the key is consistency.  That is why I say to start smallSet yourself up with small wins every day.  Once you have those, you will want to do more, but do more ONLY if you really feel you want to.  If you do something because you feel you need to, your motivation will fizzle and cause more stress.

After you are successful at adding a gratefulness practice, try meditating by just concentrating on your breath.  Again, start with 5 minutes and add-on because you want to.  After that, maybe add some movement.  This can be a short walk outside, a short asana (yoga) practice, or a short calisthenics workout.  For those of you that head out for the gym in the morning or feel that you already have a great physical morning routine, just try adding the gratefulness practice when you first wake up.  You will be amazed at how your morning workouts will be transformed.

So, if I am asking you to do something, what am I doing, right?  Below is a typical everyday practice for me.  Take note, I had to work up to this. If this is new to you, take it in stages and add things in gradually.

  1. My alarm goes off at 5 and I hit snooze:). I could just get right out of bed but that initial gratefulness practice is really beneficial to do when you are just out of your dream state.  Also, sometimes I fall back to sleep, so hitting snooze ensures that I don’t oversleep.  I do my 5 or 10 minutes of just discovering all the things that I am grateful for right off the top of my head.
  2. From there, I start my morning coffee and while that is brewing, I do a 10 or 15-minute calisthenics workout.
  3. Then, I get my coffee ready. Before I drink any or even check my phone (It is important to add that I have not exposed myself to the outside world yet), I meditate for 15 minutes (which as of late has been more gratefulness awareness because it just feels so good).
  4. Then I am ready to start my day.

It is not necessary to do all of this to make a positive impact on your day.  I just wanted to give an example of what I am currently doing so you could see how easy this could be.  Remember, I have been building up to this slowly for quite some time now.  Truthfully, I used to complain that I did not have time to do these things.  By adding on slowly I was able to gradually increase what I do.  The more mindfully I added things, the more my commitment grew to maintain these simple yet profoundly beneficial practices for my health and wellness.

So, please give the 5-minute morning gratefulness practice a try for a couple of weeks and let me know how it goes.  Remember, keep it simple and be consistentAlso, if you ever catch me in a bad or stressed mood, ask me if I am still doing mine.  More than likely, I have gotten lazy about one or more of my daily practices and I will appreciate the reminder:).

Mindful Relationships

-by Tricia “Satya” Hurley, M.Ed., Co-founder and Reiki Master Teacher, Cup of Life Healing Center

Michael and I have been together for over 26 years and married for nearly 20 of those years. We are often asked, “What makes your relationship work? How do you sustain the difficulties that arise in relationships?”

We get it!  Relationships are work!  26+ years together has brought its fair share of ups and downs.  There are many personal practices and habits we have come to rely on to keep our relationship alive and strong. Hands down, mindfulness has been one of the most impactful practices in our relationship. We know mindfulness can help whether you’re single or in a relationship.

As you read on, remember, mindfulness is not a religion. Like yoga, it is a practice that can be incorporated into your life no matter what religious or spiritual practice you may already have. We have found including it strengthens all aspects of our lives.

The Four Noble Truths

At the heart of our practice are the teachings of mindfulness master, Thich Nhat Hahn. Today I’d like share with you one aspect of those teachings that have made an incredibly profound impact on us, The Four Noble Truths.

Here’s the bottom line—we all suffer and have times of difficulty. What makes it challenging is that often when we suffer, we don’t know what to do with it. So we stuff it down, ignore it, or get angry at it.  In effect, we continue to perpetuate and continue to generate our own suffering. Yet, if we learn to mindfully breathe into, feel it, and look at it, we will find that we can learn from it and our suffering and discomfort subsides. Mindfulness helps us take actions that ease our suffering. With continued mindfulness, we return to a more peaceful state of mind.

Deep Looking and Listening

Yet, many of us shy away from this kind of looking out of fear that whatever our pain is will take over. So, let’s clarify what we mean by deep looking. This is NOT the same as ruminating on the same negative thought over and over. Ruminating creates more suffering. Looking instead with eyes of self-compassion and loving-kindness, we can begin to see our habits and what is truly causing our discomfort.

It’s easy to get caught up in blaming our loved one. We tend to avoid personal responsibility for our part in the problem and gravitate toward blaming others or blaming circumstances outside of ourselves. We think, “if so and so would just…, then I would feel better.”

Yet, in every moment, there is an aspect of personal responsibility we must take. We must look at what are we doing to cause our suffering. 99.99% of the time, our anger or frustration toward another is connected to our own unmet inner needs, to something we must address inside ourselves. This takes effort. And, it can be deeply uncomfortable to do.

The more we can look for and create inherent wholeness within ourselves, the easier it becomes to be a present, loving and supportive partner. Then, when our partner is having a difficult time, instead of blaming, criticizing, or trying to fix whatever their issue is, we can simply be there for them. This creates a deep, lasting spiritual connection.

As a couple, you begin to trust that no matter what your own personal struggle, your partner will do their best to hold you compassionately. This is an ongoing process of personal and spiritual growth. It is not something one can master overnight.  Yet, with consistent effort, it makes all the difference in the depth and quality of the relationship.

The old cliche is true, work first, on yourself and then you will find it easier to truly be there for another. Mindfulness helps us develop a loving, and compassionate relationship with ourselves.

Regardless of your current relationship status, developing and cultivating the practice of deep listening makes an incredibly positive impact. We can learn to listen to ourselves deeply and compassionately. This, in turn, will also help us to be present and listen to others compassionately as well. Being able to listen deeply and communicate from the heart makes all the difference in the world both in our inner dialogue and in our interactions with others.

Stillness and Breath

By taking time each day to sit in stillness and focus on our breath, we can create a sense of inner ease and lightness within our own being. This does not have to be a complicated process nor does it require that you magically “rid your mind of all thoughts.”

Instead, simply practice focusing on the breath or the sensations of the breath. If thoughts arise, allow them to do so without judgment. Then, gently invite the thought to float away, like. I like to picture a warm sunny day, mostly clear skies and a gentle warm breeze carrying them off into the distance. Each time a cloud of thought arises, release it and come back to the breath.

One of the simplest and easiest mindfulness mantras to follow for this practice is, “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.”  This can be simplified to just. “In, Out”. The mantra can help us focus inwardly and bring about healing and inner peace.

When we practice breathing mindfully, we increase our capacity to listen to ourselves deeply and compassionately. The more we cultivate this within ourselves, the more easily we are able to listen to others. When we listen to others, we can then do so with all of our loving presence.

Mantras in Relationship

One of our favorite mindfulness practices is the advice of cultivating these inner mantras when we are together as outlined in Thich Nhat Hahn’s book, Silence. We also use them on ourselves when we are working through personal discomfort and suffering.

  • “Darling, I am here for you.” This mantra invites us to give another our true presence.
  • “Darling, I know you are here, and I am very happy.” This mantra is to acknowledge the presence of the person you love.
  • “Darling, I know you suffer; that’s why I am here for you.” This mantra helps cultivate awareness and presence when another is struggling.
  • “Darling, I suffer; please help.” This is an especially powerful way of asking for support when we need it. It is meant to be said from a place of mindfulness as opposed to a moment of anger.

As you can see, this is something to make a deep study and daily practice of. Difficulties arise even in the best of relationships. A good relationship does not mean the absence of challenges or suffering. Healthy relationships are healthy because both parties have strong tools for working through challenges and disagreements. A regular mindfulness practice can make all the difference.

Improve Your Life with Qi Gong

by Michael Hurley L.Ac.

Are you looking for a gentle, efficient practice to improve your health, clear your mind, improve your mood, and give you lasting energy throughout your day?  If so, I invite you to learn about Qi Gong.  Developed in China thousands of years ago, the people of China have practiced Qi Gong for its health benefits ranging from general relaxation to improving their martial arts practice.

Qi Gong is an integral part of my daily practice.  It helps me stay both calm and energetic in my personal and professional life.  In this article, we explore the benefits and practice of this ancient Chinese art.

Qi (“chee” ) is our life-force or vital energy.  It is the energy that flows through all things in the universe.  Gong (“gung”) means accomplishment or skill through practice.  If we put them together, we get Qi Gong or the cultivation of life-force through practice.  This may seem esoteric but it is actually very practical.  If we want to get better at something, we practice it.  The same goes for being relaxed, breathing, and keeping ourselves in balance all of which can be easy to forget in our busy lives.

Qi Gong is used to unite the body, breath, and mind.  Knowing that we can almost envision how a Qi Gong practice is done.  It is a series of movements done in conjunction with our breath.  The mind piece comes in when we talk about focus.  We clear our minds and remain in the present moment.  During the practice, we only think about the movements and the breath.

Qi Gong can be used for various purposes by adapting the speed and intention.  For relaxation and general health, we may practice slowly and softly like in Tai Chi.  If we are practicing Qi Gong for martial arts training, we may practice in a faster and harder manner like in Kung Fu.  Both Tai Chi and Kung Fu are forms of Qi Gong.

Everyone can benefit from a Qi Gong practice regardless of age, spiritual belief, or physical differences.  Children can increase focus in school.  Office workers can reduce stress to avoid burnout.  Seniors can promote balance and improve their quality of life.  People with physical handicaps can increase strength and improve circulation regardless of limitations of movement.  Medical professionals and caregivers can improve their ability to heal their patients.

When I was in school studying Chinese Medicine, two of the required courses were Qi Gong and Tai Chi.  I took these during the first couple of trimesters and fell in Love.  I was working 40-60 hours a week as a software engineer and maintaining a family while going to school most nights at a full-time status. These practices kept me strong, healthy, and peaceful (mostly) throughout the entire process, which lasted 5 years.  I would like to emphasize that it is not required to keep a schedule like that in order to have Qi Gong be useful.  In fact, I would highly recommend not doing that and simply making Qi Gong part of your everyday life.

It is very easy to start practicing Qi Gong. Many of us have access to the internet and can search for Qi Gong instructional videos.  The local bookstores and libraries have books and DVDs about Qi Gong.  You can search for local Qi Gong instructors or meet-up groups.  Looking into these is a good way to start.  Cup of Life Healing Center does not currently have an offering but we plan to begin a regular class or a series of classes sometime in 2018.  Please inquire if you would be interested.

If you decide that Qi Gong is something that you want to continue, get more training.  The best way to choose your instructor is to trust your intuition.  Some criteria to keep in mind when choosing a qualified instructor would be:  what is their background and experience; are they of good character; do they treat people fairly and with respect; do they live what they teach; do they refrain from making unsubstantiated claims; do they encourage and bring out a student’s highest potential?

  • This article was written by Michael Hurley L.Ac. Michael is the co-owner and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH.