Sunday, June 30, 2013

Just Breathe

If you feel sad... Breathe.
If you feel mad... Breathe.
If you feel scared... Breathe.
If you feel happy... Breathe.
If you're at peace... Breathe.
By Tania Franco

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Inner Smile, A Guided Meditation

Image by Tania Franco

About a month ago my husband ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I went to cheer him on at mile 10 of the half marathon which happened to be mile 20 of the full marathon. As I stood watching and waiting I was deeply moved when people in special tricycles rode by on the side of the full marathon, they were missing one or both of their legs and were operating the vehicles by hand. To me this represented a profound desire to live. I was in awe and inspired by their courage and tenacity.

When I wrote this week's mindfulness exercise for my meditation group I had these athletes in mind. I wanted to share with my clients this awe and appreciation for each body part and how fortunate we are to have our feet, legs, arms, and hands.

As I guided the meditation I couldn't help become aware of the work that our bodies are doing every second. I hoped that each person felt that appreciation for their body.

We were working on many things at once: diaphragmatic breathing, gratitude, and awareness of body sensations.

Each person has a unique experience during these practices. Taking the time to share insights heightens learning and helps understand what to expect when meditating individually.

One member has had extensive dental work recently and realized that after dedicating time to deep breathing and sending an inner smile to her mouth, the physical discomfort reduced significantly. Belly breathing is key for pain management and stress reduction. It is one thing to know this intelectually and a whole other thing to experience it.

Another participant noticed that no matter how much they tried to relax, they kept feeling anxious and could not shake it off. I really enjoy when a member shares that they are feeling uncomfortable since this gives the rest of the group permission to feel this way and learn that ups and downs are just another part of experiencing the present moment.

Inner smile is another way to meditate and to create mental, emotional, and physical wellness. What is most important is to identify techniques that are effective and soothing to you and then apply them as often as possible. Making the time to practice a relaxation exercise daily can be life changing.

-Tania Franco

Monday, June 10, 2013

3 Books That Changed My Life

3 Books That Changed My Life
Image by Tania Franco

I love to read. I have gotten so much out of books whether it be a self-help book, a novel, or a biography. My view of the world sometimes shifts and it's as if a whole new way of thinking is possible due to a sentence or paragraph, and I am never again the same.

There are many books that I love but 3 come to mind when I think of gaining a new sense of awareness:

"You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay
"What We May Be" by Piero Ferrucci
"The Power of Focusing" by Anne Weiser Cornell

What We May Be: Techniques for Psychological and Spiritual Growth Through Psychosynthesis

Great thinkers state that duality is man made and that it is non existant and even though I comprehend to an extent this thought, I come back to dual thinking over and over again. Every meditation and exercise in this book have great value, yet the subpersonalities exploration stands out time and again in my thoughts. Working with my sub-personalities in meditation and journaling about them made me comprehend at a deeper level how parts of me which I value as positive have their negative aspects and viceversa. It's as if the negative and positive cancel each other out and things just "are". It integrates the parts of ourselves that are at odds with one another and creates a sense of wholeness.

There are approximately 75 theories within Psychology and Psychosynthesis is one of them. I think it has great value and is not given the credit it deserves. It is beautiful and one of my favorite ways of practicing inner work. My crude way of referring to it is having peak experiences without the use of psychedelics, which I believe is a way that Assagioli (the creator of the theory) referred to it himself in a more highbrow fashion. And I can atest to that. It is a great trip without the drugs.

The Power of Focusing

I think the word "focusing" does not do this form of inner work justice. But how to grasp how ethereal and profound Focusing can be? I think it could be called a simple path to inner peace. What focusing has taught me is that there is a place within me that is completely still and peaceful and that through practice I can access it time and again. Anyone can. It is a loving and accepting place where I feel OK with who I am in the good times and the bad times.

I have guided many of my clients through this form of work and there is something sacred in being able to accompany someone into peace and stay there for 5, 10 or 15 minutes.

You Can Heal Your Life

You can heal your life, but you have to work for it. I learned to listen to my self-talk, to speak to myself like I would to good friend and not how I would speak to someone I dislike. In fact, I learned to be my friend. I followed the exercises and stuck to it even though at the beginning I could barely do them. Little by little with determination I began to see important changes in me that let me know it was working. Now when I listen to my inner dialogue it is kind and uplifting.

Although I enjoy reading different genres, the books I mention in this post are self-help books. One thing to take into consideration when reading these type of books is that the benefits will not be in the theory, it will be in the practice. Try out the different personal growth exercises recommended so you are able to fully understand them and make them a part of your toolbox. The previous books were so helpful to me because I practiced the different techniques over and over again.

What we choose to read can transform us. Books allow us to learn from others experiences and expose us to different points of view this way expanding our own perception. If you are looking to create important changes in your life, these are excellent options and there are many more self-help books that can be healing. What books have changed your life? I would love to know.

-Tania Franco