Cissy Brady-Rogers
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Archive for 'Energy Regulation'

Mindful eating is simply eating with attention. But in our fast-food, eat-on-the-run world, just paying attention to what you are eating and how you are eating can be challenging. For overall wellness, nourishment and digestive health, how we eat can be as important as what we eat! Join us for an evening of slowing down, savoring each bite, honoring your body and celebrating the abundance we’ve been given.

SAVOR

SAVOR

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

In addition to meal and beverages, our time will include teaching on mindful eating principles, guided experiential learning on hunger awareness and engagement with five senses and five primary tastes, personal reflection on how you eat and facilitated conversation.

WHY MINDFUL EATING?

In our diet-obsessed but food abundant society, rather than being a joyful and nurturing experience, eating is often fraught with anxiety, distraction and guilt. While we may know that eating with attention could be helpful, deeply engrained patterns of relating to food and the hectic pace of life can undermine our efforts.

In addition to providing a delightful evening savoring a meal with a welcoming and compassionate group of women, this workshop will help you:

  • Strengthen your capacity to listen to your body’s signals about hunger and fullness
  • Understand the interplay between physical, emotional, spiritual and other hungers
  • Expand your awareness of the multiple levels of satisfaction possible through mindful eating

Dinner takes place at a private home in Pasadena. Space is limited to 12 with only 10 spots still open. More information and registration at Alive and Well Women.

This morning I sat down with my word for the year seeking inspiration to share. To be honest, I am not in the most self-reflective or “deep” season of my life.  I look back at past blogs in wonder. I feel so distant from the wise, reflective writer that I’ve been in the past. And that is okay! It’s just the way it is.

undivided word map

undivided word map

Two writing tools I fall back on when “nothing” seems to want to be said are word mapping and acrostics. This morning I tried both. No prizing winning essay emerged, but that’s not the point of reflective writing. It’s more about the journey than the product. It’s more about listening to my life than “landing” somewhere.

With a word map, you place your main word or idea in the middle of the page and listen for other words or phrases that arise in connection with it. Sometimes great insights come and a poem or essay emerges. Other times, like today, interesting ideas or themes unfold, but nothing more materializes.

After my word map, I turned to the acrostic method.

United with myself and all living beings.

Near to the heart of God.

Devoted to serving Love.

Integrity of body, mind and spirit.

Viewing myself and all human beings through the eyes of Love.

Intentional as to where I invest my time, energy and resources.

Dedicated to alleviating suffering.

Enduring expected frustrations, disappointments and obstacles.

Delighting always in my status as Beloved Daughter of God.

I’m grateful that there’s no one “right” way to share my life with others. And that every blog I post doesn’t need to be polished and perfect. Sometimes it’s just showing up and sharing what comes. 

If you have a “word” for year, make time to listen for wants to be known and expressed, if only to yourself. I highly recommend these two methods and would love to hear what comes as you listen to your life.

For more reflections on “words for the year” from my blogging friends, check out our blogroll. I love the way each of us does it our own way. A great example of how there is no one “right” way to share our lives with others!

http://www.growingplaces.us/prospero-ano/

 

Stephanie Says Yes to Rest - Camping in Joshua Tree

Stephanie Says Yes to Rest – Camping in Joshua Tree

My friend Stephanie’s fierce commitment to living wholeheartedly and authentically inspires me. She shared her poem “Say Yes to Rest” with me in early October. She listened to her body’s signals and made a radical choice to take a few days off from work before she got sick. I was proud of her and grateful for the ways we support each other in self-care. And I knew it would be meaningful to those who follow my blog. I appreciate her willingness to share the wisdom of her lived experience here.

Say Yes to Rest by Stephanie Jenkins

The street outside my window is filled
with the rush of cars; their dirty engines
propel them in opposing directions
with equal measures of hurry
as if, for each one, there is an unseen fire
somewhere that only that one driver can put out.

I have pulled myself out of the hustle
and bustle today; I have crawled
out of the jaws of the beast
refusing to be devoured.

The ache that runs through my body, the piercing
in my skull, the awful pressure on my throat
like two angry hands pushing, are evidence
that I barely survived. My eyes throb,
there is a stabbing in my right side.

This is the violence of our day–we abuse both
earth and body in our relentless pursuit of productivity.
The thirst for output that refuses to be slaked
has indeed given us more…
more anxiety,
more fear,
more pollution,
more poverty,
more violence,
so much more…

Today I want less. I push pause
on the crazy, frenetic rush. I enter
into my own slice of Sabbath. I tend
to my aching bones with loving care.

I want to see what is real in this world,
my eyes long to be healed by the vision
of the rose unfurling towards the sun;
my body asks to be rocked and soothed
in the ocean’s cool embrace; my bones beg
the soft give of soil rather than the harshness of pavement;
my skin thirsts for canyon breezes and dappled light
instead of conditioned air and florescent bulbs.

And today I say yes to my longings.
I say yes to rest, yes to wild, yes to free.
Today I say yes to Love,
so I might find again what is real in this world.
__________

After sitting with Stephanie’s poem, wondering how to fit it into a blog so I could share it with others, I realized that I was the one who needed the lesson. Stephanie’s words were prophetic–calling me to “crawl out of the jaws of the beast” lest I too be devoured by the ways I’d fallen prey to believing if I just worked harder, more efficiently or found the right time management tool I’d be more successful. Stephanie helped name my experience.

Following a very busy September and first two weeks of October I found myself depleted, out-of-alignment with myself and God, and in deep need of refueling. As Alive and Well Women enters its second year, I was experiencing the emotional exhaustion and decreased sense of personal accomplishment that accompanies burnout–and is an occupational hazard of helping professionals! The goodness, blessings and excitement of birthing a nonprofit had worn off. Amidst the busyness of my rushed and useful life, I’d lost my center, my “why” and “how” of the work I am called to do in the world. Distracted and anxious about “what” I was doing, my self-worth and identity were becoming overly attached to my level of productivity. As Thomas Merton wrote in his Letter to a Young Activist, that is not the right use of my work!

Merton speaks to the activist in all of us when he advises: “All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more, and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.”

Saying Yes to Rest in Coronado by Day

Saying Yes to Rest in Coronado by Day

I’m grateful that self-care and authenticity are the heart of Alive and Well. We are committed to practice what we preach. And I’m grateful for the remarkable team God is bringing together to support one another in these values and empower others to do the same. With their support and a very generous scholarship from The Cottage on Coronado, I spent last week recovering my center, remembering that the success or failure of anything I do is not a reflection of my self-worth.

It wasn’t easy to say “No” to the many tasks left undone on my list. As noted in research on the stresses of nonprofit work, despite the intrinsic rewards of the work we do, jobs in this sector often come with high demands, long working hours and low pay!  My main work is to stay rooted and grounded in God’s love and entrust outcomes to God’s care.

The wisdom of Stephanie’s experience is a gift to remember as we head into what can become a very frenetic season.  May we listen to our lives, find courage to press the pause button, and take time to rest!

I ran into an acquaintance last week at the dentist. A fitness instructor at a gym I used to attend, we’d had significant conversations about our shared health and wellness passions.

Several years have passed since I’d seen her, but we immediately recognized each other in the waiting room. We exchanged greetings and caught up briefly on where I’d gone and where she was teaching now.

Throughout the “conversation” she kept looking down at her cell phone, scrolling and looking back up. Sadly, it didn’t seem all that strange to me. A few years ago I might have been offended. But I guess like the proverbial frog in the kettle, I’ve grown accustomed to it. 

After I finished my business with the receptionist, I turned back to the waiting area. She was just a few feet away, sitting by the door. I walked to the door and bid farewell: “Hey___ it was good to see you…”

But, caught up in the digital world, she had totally blocked me out. She didn’t hear me or see me. She’d barely acknowledged my existence during our conversation, what made me think she’d hear my farewell greeting?

I didn’t take it personally. But as I walked to my car a flood of emotions and thoughts rose within me about how digital devices are altering human engagements. And concern about future generation’s capacity for empathy, vulnerability and authenticity.

Among other discoveries, psychologist Sherry Turkle’s research indicates that over-reliance on digital connection is diminishing our capacity for face-to-face engagement. In her latest book, Reclaiming Conversation: The power of talk in a digital age, she advocates for carving out “sacred” device free zones and embracing “unitasking”.

Digital Free at Lean-In Women's Retreat

Digital Free at Lean-In Women’s Retreat

Being more interested in our phones than the people in our presence is not good for the future of humanity. If we can’t invest time to be present with the real flesh and blood neighbors standing in line, sitting in a waiting room or at the dinner table, then how will we ever love our enemies?

It made me grateful for the work I do. I help people develop empathy with themselves and others. I sit with individuals and groups without cell phones or laptops. We have real engagements that sometimes get complicated and messy. Sometimes there are tears, sometimes voices get loud. That’s how real conversations with real people work. And only real face-to-face conversations help us develop empathy.

May the change begin with me!

 

 

 

 

 

A young adult friend spoke with me last week about her struggle to embody her sexuality. In her late 20’s and single, she’s part of the fall-out from the “purity culture” that advocates virginity and emotional purity before marriage. She’s also part of a movement to find a better way to support healthy sexual development in church communities.  After our conversation she referred me to a blog that gives voice to the inner dissonance I hear from many women and men raised in purity culture.

That interaction was on my mind when an op-ed response to the FDA’s recent approval of “pink Viagra” appeared on Sunday. In spite of significant controversy surrounding its’ safety and efficacy, flibanserin is the first drug approved to treat low desire disorders in pre-menopausal women. The author Emily Nagoski holds a doctorate in health behavior and describes herself as a “science-driven sex educator.” She calls the science behind the drug outdated and invalid. Distinguishing between spontaneous desire (which is not essential for sexual satisfaction or well-being) and responsive desire which emerges in anticipation of pleasure, she notes that “responsive desire isn’t worse than spontaneous desire, it’s just different.”

As a post-menopausal women with history of fairly robust spontaneous desire, I get the difference! Most often I operate on responsive desire these days. But just because my libido isn’t as strong as it used to be doesn’t mean I’m disordered or that I am any less in love with my husband than I used to be. It’s biology. It’s life circumstances. It’s 26 years of doing life together with freedom to have sex anytime we want. And, many other factors that come into play over the normal life cycle of those of us whose abundance of resources allow us to worry about having less sex or less dramatic orgasms than we used too!

Yet the pharmaceutical model doesn’t take those psycho-social-spiritual factors into consideration when looking for an answer to our multi-layered sexual, mental and emotional “problems.” Like the anxiety and depression that the drug industry would have us rush to diagnose and treat with medications, so-called problems of “low” desire may be manifestations of disordered lifestyles and distorted values about sexuality and intimacy. We live in a culture where we use excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar to compensate for sleep deprivation and then over-the-counter products and alcohol to help us wind back down. Much commercially produced food is nutritionally deficient. We over-work and over-spend. Is it any wonder we get to bed at night and lack spontaneous desire?

Moreover, the fact that hoards of middle-aged women helped make Fifty Shades of Grey a bestseller and box office hit is clear evidence to me that our cultural values about sexuality and intimacy have landed in the trash heap! If sadism and masochism are what it takes to get us turned on, we’ve certainly lost our way as to how to be sexually vibrant and loving human beings.

Ironically, the very teachings meant to “safeguard” the virginity of young people in purity culture can contribute to later problems with desire. As another young woman told me, “Sexual desire was just as bad as sexual activities. You were supposed to suppress it until you married. Then, it would somehow spontaneously emerge again.”

Rachel (who tells it like it is in her blog) is trying to ‘rid herself’ of purity culture thinking, but she hasn’t found anything concrete to replace it. Here’s how she describes her struggle:

Evangelical Christianity made it really easy to know what was right and wrong. It was easy to know when I was supposed to feel guilty (most of the time). I never really had to think about what I wanted in regards to sex because all that mattered was what the Bible said. And now I have to constantly question, “How do I feel about this? Will I regret this? Does it matter that I don’t know him that well, don’t like him that much, don’t think this will lead anywhere? If he does this, should I do that? Because I want to? Because he wants me to? Because it’s expected? Because I’m drunk? Should I do anything when I’m drunk? What is this saying about me? Does this say anything? Am I saying yes because I am horny or because I want to be nice? Will this change our relationship? Do I care? When is it okay to leave?”

And those questions are exhausting.

Yet those are the very kind of questions we ought to be helping our children consider from the first time they fondle their genitals in public or ask questions about sexuality that make parents uncomfortable. Not these exact questions, but similar ones that are appropriate for the challenges of their developmental stage.

Children and teens need to be empowered with discernment skills to access inner guidance. Not just about sexuality, but about all the moral challenges of life that if they choose to live with open hearts and minds, they will inevitably face. They need to sense, feel and think about their sexuality throughout the developmental cycle and make choices each day about what to do with sexual pleasure they’ll naturally feel if not repressed.  They need to be equipped to discern the difference between healthy self-exploration and release of sexual energy via masturbation and self-pleasuring that is compensatory or otherwise unhealthy. They need us to help them consider the potential consequences of getting emotionally or physically intimate before their psychologically or otherwise ready to commit. And so much more.

They need us to help them learn to think and discern God’s path for them in a complex world where black and white answers are insufficient for many of the challenges they’ll face.

Ironically, the best book I ever came across for working with teen sexuality went out of print because the Christian publishers didn’t want to acknowledge teens might be sexually active! Thankfully, you can still pick up a copy of Judy and Jack Balsick’s Raging Hormones: what to do when you suspect your teen might be sexually active on Amazon.

Thanks be to God for my young friend, Rachelwhotellsitlikeitis, and others like them. May God’s grace show them a better way to pass on to the next generations.

We all know that walking is good for you. Just getting up from your desk to walk around the office or outside for a few minutes has plenty of health benefits. After all, sitting is the new smoking.

But a study by Gregory Bratman at Standford University found that when compared to an urban walk, a nature walk resulted in even more emotional and cognitive benefits than an urban walk. Moreover, it may even change the wiring of our brains!

Winter Day at Occidental College - All Brown Now

Winter Day at Occidental College – All Brown Now

I imagine the same results would apply to walking on a treadmill versus getting out under the trees on a dirt path.

I live 1/2 block away from a busy street in Los Angeles, California. Some days I have time to get away to a more scenic and natural place to walk. But on a busy work day, like today, that isn’t going to happen.

So, I’ll put on my walking shoes and make the best of the tree lined asphalt and concrete streets nearby. I might stroll through the urban oasis of nearby Occidental College where a small but sacred few acres of dirt paths wait to be trod upon.

Walking is good for your health. Walking in nature is even better!

Whatever you do today, urban or nature, make time for a walk. Your body and brain will thank you!

 

 

In 2007 I began offering retreats, workshops and groups for women struggling to live in harmonious relationship with their bodies. Topics have included: dieting, fitness, health, beauty, perfectionism, sexuality, stress, mind-body connection, compassion, self-care and mindful awareness–just to name a few.

Sharon Song was an early adopter of the alive and well way. What began when she attended a Christ-centered yoga class back in 2007 has evolved into a shared mission to help women heal shame-based relationships with our bodies so we can love and enjoy being in our bodies, just as we are!

AWW VisionIf you relate to Sharon’s story, please visit our Alive and Well Women Facebook page.  We’d love to have you join us in creating communities where women can be ourselves, unconstrained by other people’s agendas for our lives.

Sharon Song

Sharon Song

Over-caffeinated, over-sugared, over-stressed and over-committed is how Sharon once described herself. She was on the verge of burnout and completely disconnected from what her body really needed.

“Alive and Well helped me learn to listen to my body–especially the stress that was telling me I needed better self-care. I learned that loving and caring for myself is a way to connect to God’s love for me.”

Sharon lives and works in South Los Angeles with an urban ministry community. Inspired by her own transformation, Sharon became a certified fitness trainer and is training to be a spiritual director. She’s committed to using what she’s learned to support others in living healthy, sustainable, urban spiritual lives.

For more from Sharon, please visit her blog “Live Move Be in the city” – a journey of South Los Angeles urban life. Featuring the Sonshine Shop thrift store and vintage items. Explorations on faith, fitness, fashion, food, fun, and more.

Today I’m saying YES to continuing my Lenten practice of staying in my own lane–especially with social media.

Emerging research indicates that the sense of connection afforded by social media may not be worth the price: fear of missing out, depression and social media compulsions that cause reasonable, moral people to act in ways that go against their deepest values.

My recent 10 day fast from social media confirms the finding that happier people check social media less often. I also spent more time reading and engaged with my work and relationships. No wonder I was happier. I had more mental energy to give to the people, projects and passions that are important to me.

Every time I engage social media I invite hundreds of other people’s worlds into my consciousness. Every Facebook post I scroll past registers in my mind, whether I acknowledge it or not. My brain must process and decide to by-pass ads and ignore posts that I might stop and view if I had all the time in the world…but I don’t.

Mental energy is limited. The brain uses more energy than any other organ–up to 20% of total expenditure in a given day. The seemingly small task of scrolling through posts for a few minutes, deciding which to engage and which to pass, depletes mental resources needed for more important and meaningful engagements.

Yes is a mindset, an attitude, a way of being in my life that feels the fear of missing out if I don’t check out Facebook or Instagram, then chooses to keep focused on the here-and-now of my own life.

Yes to being faithful to the present moment.

Yes to being here now.

Yes to staying in my own lane.

The sacred space of my mind needs clear boundaries around engagement with social media. I’ve known this forever. I want to stay connected with loved ones, see their kids grow and watch their pets do stupid tricks. I want to use social media for good. I don’t want to be used by or used up by social media.

What about you? What do you notice about the impact of engagement with social media on your life?

Are you using it?

Or is it using up precious energy and time that you’d prefer to invest elsewhere?

 

 

 

 

Take a break from busy! Make space in your life to deepen your connection to God’s love while learning to recognize and release physical manifestations of stress in your body.

take a break from busy

take a break from busy

Join me at Hollywood Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 25th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. for a time of praying, reflecting, mindful movement, art making and mindful lunch.

Only $20 with continental breakfast, lunch and childcare provided.

Download brochure with details.

Online registration.

 

“To pray is not to hear oneself talk; it is rather to make oneself so still that God’s word can come through.” (Peter G. Van Breeman, SJ)

Stillness does not come naturally to me. Newton’s observation that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless an external force is applied to it fits me to a tee. It’s equally applicable to my body and my mind. Once I start the day, my mental energy begins a steady climb, sometimes getting so amped up that by the end of my work day, I find it hard to stop. My body and executive self say “Enough.” But my too busy mind isn’t ready to downshift and let go.

I get so “full” of myself and what I think needs to be done that I can’t hear the still small voice of God, of goodness, love and kindness that tells me my value and worth aren’t measured by how much I produce.

Eight years ago I began a daily centering prayer practice that changed my life by changing my brain. There’s plenty of emerging research verifying the neurological changes evoked by meditative practices. I noticed changes within a few months.

Reflecting on my experience in my journal I wrote: “I wonder if immersion in meditation and spiritual practice in a community of support altered my brain chemistry? I wonder what neural pathways in my brain were shifted to affect this new level of consciousness and presence within myself, this sense of well being, of mental quiet, of emotional stability and unity?”

My experience verifies the research: when I practice daily, I’m less reactive, more focused and less distracted, and cope more effectively when things aren’t going according to my agenda!

Miss Liberty Belle - 8 weeks old

Miss Liberty Belle – 8 weeks old: a lovely disruption!

Our August trip to Ireland last year, followed by Miss Liberty Belle’s arrival in September, disrupted my rhythm. I have yet to get back to a daily 20 minute practice. And that’s exactly why I’m writing this blog – to remember and recommit to daily practice now that I’m not traveling and Liberty doesn’t need constant supervision.

In support of myself and participants in my mentor Joan’s PlantPlus Nutrition Webinar, I’m leading a free 15 minute mindful awareness conference call every Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. (PST). You are welcome to join us!  Contact me and I’ll send you the details for accessing our budding community of support.

I’m grateful to Joan, Jon Kabat-Zinn and other pioneers in the mind-body medicine field who valued the experiential data of their patients and persevered with their work in the 1980’s when the vast majority of the medical community discounted the power of ancient practices for bringing good health of body, mind and spirit!

If you’re suffering with stress-related physical or psychological symptoms (links to assessment tools on Joan’s website) meditation can help. And I’d love to support you in getting started.

I hope you’ll join us on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.  I look forward to hearing from you.

(Photo of Miss Liberty Belle by Tracey Kuhlin Pet Photography)