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4 Tips For Working On Acceptance

By Veronica Vidal

Acceptance is a very active process, there is nothing passive about it, it’s not passive resignation but an act of recognition that things are the way they are.

Acceptance doesn’t mean we can’t work to change the world or circumstances, but it means that unless we accept things as they are, we will try to force things to be as they are not, and that can create an enormous amount of difficulty AND pain.

Acceptance is about the courage to look at a situation right in the eye and say:” Yes, I have this problem”.

Acceptance is coming to terms with things as they are. Acceptance is facing reality as it is, which allows the possibility of moving in the direction of change or to be at peace with what is.

1) Avoid judging yourself, others and/or your circumstances.

Emotions are natural and everyone has them—acknowledging them can help you understand yourself better and move forward. Choose not to judge what happens to you. Instead, believe that everything happens for a reason and that better things will always follow. That’s the beginning of true acceptance. Develop awareness of your judgmental inner voice and cultivate a non-judgmental attitude.

2) Stop pushing away unpleasant thoughts and feelings.

Stop resisting. So much of our anguish is created when we are in a resistance state. Repressing our thoughts and feelings will not make them disappear. Resisting the reality makes us depressed, and eventually depressed.

Resistance and denial will not move us forward, nor will eliminate the undesirable. We don’t achieve acceptance in a moment. We often have to work through a mirage of thoughts and feelings – sometimes frustration, anger, outrage, shame, self-pity, fear, or sadness. Think about what you have to think; feel what you need to feel. Be mindful of what crosses your mind and heart, then, release it. A thought or feeling is not forever. The more quickly we can accept a feeling the more quickly we can move on to the next. Acceptance is the magic that makes change possible. Acceptance opens the door to growth, change, and moving forward.

3) Practice letting go.

How can you accept a devastating loss or change? We have two choices:

One is to hold on to the way things were. But if we can’t accept life the way it is, we have a big problem, because we cannot change what already has happened. Resisting the flow of life will only make us even more unhappy.
The other choice is to have the courage to accept life the way it is, which even though challenging, this process will empower us enormously.

4) Let beauty in.

When you’re focused on everything that’s lacking, it’s hard to fully notice, appreciate, and enjoy what’s present in abundance. Choose to appreciate what you have as opposed to giving too much attention to what you’ve lost.

Practice mindfulness, look around you; there’s beauty all around. Beaches and mountains, birds flying across the sky, music, and culture, blueberry ice cream, kissing in the sunset, and lifelong friendships. There is so much to live for; open up to what is truly beautiful and important in life.

Most of us keep the blinds shut, closing off to life. Take on the curiosity of a child. Open up and explore life as if it were your first day here, regardless of what you’ve had or lost. You can choose to focus on either. What’s your choice?

Yes, acceptance is a choice—a hard one most definitely, but a choice nonetheless. I know it’s hard to practice acceptance when you deeply wish things were different. But the truth is, sometimes we can’t change our reality, even if we try.

So instead of staring at the closed door in front of us, or getting tired and bruised while we try to break it down, let’s turn around and see how many other windows we have open.

WHAT ARE SOME ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE THAT NEED ACCEPTANCE?

Practicing Self-Care

By Veronica Vidal

Sometimes it seems like we spend so much of our energy taking care of life’s endless details that there’s no time left to focus on our health and well-being. If we really want to make self-care a priority, we simply have to develop certain habits–and let go of habits that sabotage us.

The first step in knowing how to take care of yourself is to learn to identify when you start going off track. The body will tell you this information if you listen. But it’s like learning a new language for many of us who have spent years ignoring the messages our bodies are telling us.

Basically, self-care is taking the time to care for yourself in whichever ways work best for you. What are some of the ways you can take care of your self?

Let me remind you of some ways you can use to take care of yourself:

1) Speak kindly–especially to yourself ~ Speak kind, truthful words, and notice how your mindset changes. Most of us spend a lot of time criticizing or judging ourselves, our bodies, our past, and our experience. Even the smallest incident can bring on a wave of negativity. The way we use speech creates energy patterns that infuse the body and send out signals into the environment. If you are constantly lashing out in criticism–even if it is only in your mind–you are germinating a toxic inner environment. Develop awareness of your critical inner voice and cultivate a non-judgmental attitude.

2) Practice Yoga ~ Yoga postures, breathing techniques, relaxation, and meditation practices keep us centered during times of uncertainty. When we are relaxed, our organs function optimally, which boosts our body’s capacity to fight invaders and heal faster. Yoga can truly help during these times. This isn’t just speculation; countless research shows yoga can lessen anxiety and depression symptoms, lower stress hormones, relieve pain, and improve emotional regulation.

3) Prioritize sleep ~This is such an easy and quick way to introduce self-care on a profound level. It’s amazing more of us don’t do this. Notice I didn’t say: get enough sleep. Most of us can function on less-than-optimal sleep, and convince ourselves that we are getting enough shut-eye. But to prioritize sleep, we start looking at all the ways we sabotage our rest cycle through stimulants, computer screens late at night, unresolved emotional issues, taking on too much, and generally not being aware of our natural rhythms. Try a phase of making sleep your #1 priority and see how your attitude shifts. Rest; Rest is key to keep distressed down and immunity up. SLEEP. SLEEP. SLEEP. 7-8 hours a night – if suffering from insomnia practice Yoga Nidra meditation.

4) Gratitude ~ Start a gratitude journal and write 5 things you are GRATEFUL for each and every day.

5) Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables: PLANTS, PLANTS, PLANTS. 8 to 10 servings – combining vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes is recommended as a minimum.

6) Manage Stressors ~ We pick up habits from the people we spend time with, and without notice, many times, we tend to please others at our expense. To take care of your self learn to say “no.” This benign little word can be very empowering. Get clear on what supports your well-being and what stresses you out. You might want to add “thank you.”. This is key to developing nourishing relationships + setting boundaries with unhealthy ones.

7) Repeat Positive Affirmations  Out Loud or Silently ~ May I be well, May I be happy, May I let go of the past, May I let go of the uncertain future, May I be healthy, May I be protected, May I be at peace.

Continue to stay safe, strong, and serene as we transition to our new normal. Your loving support, referrals, and loyalty fill me with immense gratitude.

Build Your Mental Muscles by Doing Your Mental Push-Ups

BUILDING MENTAL STRENGTH

By Veronica Vidal

Most of us understand how we can develop physical strength but are not really sure over the steps to take to build mental strength. Building mental strength is similar to building physical strength. Everyone has the ability to build mental strength, and just like building physical strength, it requires dedication and hard work. With practice, anyone can develop the ability to regulate negative thoughts, control destructive emotions, and behave productively despite the circumstances. Learning how to flex your mental muscle is key to reaching your greatest potential in life. Whether your goal is to become an elite athlete, or you strive to be a more patient parent, mental strength will help you reach your goals.

1) PRACTICE MINDFULNESS: It’s impossible to stay strong when you’re going over and over again at something that happened yesterday, or forecasting that horrible things are going to happen tomorrow. Mindfulness is about staying present in the moment. With regular practice, you’ll be less distracted by yesterday’s problems and tomorrow’s worries. and you’ll increase your ability to focus and to enjoy the present moment.

2) BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR EMOTIONS: While there’s nothing wrong with being in a bad mood sometimes, staying stuck in a negative rut can be a slippery slope: Sadness can lead to self-pity, anger can turn to bitterness, and mild anxiety can become paralyzing fear. Decide that you’re going to be in control of your emotions so they don’t control you.

3) PRACTICE GRATITUDE: Focus on the good things in your life, not the things you lack. The simple discipline of engaging in gratitude will undoubtedly shift your focus back to the many good things you already have.

4) LET GO OF SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS: It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

“I’m not smart enough to…” REPLACE BY SAYING: “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”

“I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…” REPLACE BY SAYING “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

When we allow negative self-talk to flood our minds, we’re effectively working against ourselves.

If you want to keep your mind strong, you have to remember one key truth: self-limiting beliefs are thoughts, NOT facts.

5) TOLERATE DISCOMFORT FOR A GREATER PURPOSE: Mentally strong people tolerate discomfort when it serves a greater purpose. Whether they’re exercising when they feel tired, or they’re delivering a speech when they feel terrified, they use their discomfort to become better.

6) STOP ALL- OR – NOTHING THINKING: There is always room for improvement, but be careful not to start thinking you’re a complete failure just because you’re not a complete success in all the ways you hoped to be. You win some, you lose some. That’s life.

I hope you can use these tips to assist you in building mental strength. Paying attention to these steps on a regular basis, eventually, it will become second nature to you.

The Science of The Breath

Breathing is everything. Rather, correct breathing is everything.

It can be the difference between a super-strong pain-free body and one that’s under constant Cortisol distress and full of instability.

When you take a deep breath in and your diaphragm contracts down, it stimulates the vagus nerve. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, this sends a message back up to the brain telling you to relax. Lots of wonderful things happen when we relax. We sleep better,  food digest better, the process of waste products elimination is better, and even sex is better.

So, what happens if you have a shallow breathing pattern and the top of your chest and shoulders move primarily when you take air in? Say hello to your friend Cortisol — your body is thrown into a flight or fight stimulus! No one needs that extra stress, life is hard enough, so let’s break it down a bit more and get you into a correct deep breathing pattern.

How do you take a deep breath?

Although many people feel a deep breath comes solely from the expansion of the chest, chest breathing (in of itself) is not the best way to take a deep breath. While most of us never give breathing a second thought, the way we draw breath can affect our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Breathing correctly is the path to self-healing. Besides transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide through the bloodstream, how else do you think the breath contributes to our health and well-being?

Reducing stress, sleeping better, or relieving pain – all may be as simple as becoming conscious of our breath. Deep breathing techniques can change our life!

Becoming conscious of our breath

Poor breathing habits can lead to negative health consequences—our body’s organs cannot work to their full potential without plenty of oxygen and the proper elimination of carbon dioxide. Many common health ailments such as high blood pressure, migraine headaches, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, depression, asthma, and insomnia. can be at least alleviated or completely controlled simply by making a conscious effort to breathe slowly and deeply.

Breathing properly can reduce stress levels, improve workouts and boost your immunity to infections and illnesses. Poor breathing can contribute to panic attacks and even conditions like insomnia and depression.

So, what can we do to reverse these obviously undesirable effects? Simply pause and become aware of the incoming and outgoing breath. Allow the breath’s rhythm to the center, ground and calm you. Just Breathe Consciously! 

Conscious breathing is a great form of meditation that can be easily practiced anywhere, anytime! 

Test #1: Place your hands surrounding your rib cage right under your chest and take in a big breath of air. Your ribs should move out in the front, sides, and back. Did you feel them move? They should move a lot! Maybe you only felt some of your ribs move? Did the ribs on the back left under your thumb not move as much as the right? No? There’s the source of that neck or midback tightness you’ve been feeling. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Step one: Get your ribs to expand out in a 360 fashion when you breathe.

Test #2: Did your diaphragm contract down in a deep breathing pattern with great rib expansion? Did you feel expansion right under your ribcage or did your ribcage move followed by your shoulders and your belly suck in? Now, I want you to drop a couple of fingers down under your ribcage while leaving one or two on top. Take a deep breath in. Did it expand out into your fingers right under your ribcage?

Breathing is absolutely essential to life, but it’s often overlooked as a necessity for good health. Practicing conscious breathing can help us to improve our sleep, reduce stress, and boost overall health.

Breathing properly can reduce stress levels, improve workouts and boost your immunity to infections and illnesses. Poor breathing can contribute to panic attacks and even conditions like insomnia and depression. Conscious breathing is a great form of meditation that can be easily practiced anywhere, anytime! Simply pause and become aware of the incoming and outgoing breath. Allow the breath’s rhythm to the center, ground and calm you.

Breathing is most unique as compared to other visceral (e.g. digestion, endocrine, or cardiovascular) functions in that it can also be regulated voluntarily.

Cellular metabolism (reactions in the cell to produce energy) for example, is regulated by oxygen provided during breathing. There is clear evidence that controlled breathing techniques can affect oxygen consumption and metabolism (Jerath et al., 2006). In fact, much of the aim of pranayama breathing (yogic breathing) appears to shift the autonomic nervous system away from its sympathetic (excitatory) dominance. Pranayama breathing has been shown to positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders (Jerath et al., 2006). Jerath and colleagues add those investigations regarding stress and psychological improvements support evidence that pranayama breathing alters the brain’s information processing, making it an intervention that improves a person’s psychological profile.”

Slow pranayama breathing techniques show the most practical and physiological benefit, yet the underlying mechanism of how they work is not fully elucidated in the research (Jerath et al., 2006). However, Jerath and colleagues hypothesize that “the voluntary, slow deep breathing functionally resets the autonomic nervous system through stretch-induced inhibitory signals and hyperpolarization (slowing electrical action potentials) currents…which synchronizes neural elements in the heart, lungs, limbic system and cortex.” As well, investigations have demonstrated that slow breathing pranayama breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic (inhibitory) nervous system, thus slowing certain physiological processes down that may be functioning too fast or conflicting with the homeostasis of the cells (Jerath et al., 2006).

Thus, one meaningful aspect in learning breathing techniques is the awareness in the difference in smooth, even breathing to erratic breathing. Modifications in respiratory patterns come naturally to some individuals after one lesson, however, it may take up to six months to replace bad habits, and ultimately change the way one breathes (Sovik, 2000). The general rule, often noted in studies, and particularly observed by Gallego et al. (2001) was that if a voluntary act is repeated, “learning occurs, and the neurophysiological and cognitive processes underpinning its control may change.” Gallego et al. continue that while some changes can be made, the need for longer-term studies is warranted to better understand the attention-demanding phases involved with these breathing changes.

To summarize, Sovik suggests the characteristics of optimal breathing (at rest) are that it is diaphragmatic, nasal (inhalation and exhalation), smooth, deep, even, quiet and free of pauses.

Final Thoughts
The research is very clear that breathing exercises (e.g. pranayama breathing) can enhance parasympathetic (inhibit neural responses) tone, decrease sympathetic (excitatory) nervous activity, improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, decrease the effects of stress, and improve physical and mental health (Pal, Velkumary, and Madanmohan, 2004). 

 

 

WOHASU 2018 – Video Presentation.

Learn how to access the power that lies within you!

As the Chair of the 2018 Global Yoga Community Board for The World Happiness Summit- (WOHASU),  I felt honored to also have been invited to provide a presentation alongside world leaders in the science of happiness.

Because the pursuit of happiness is such a personal journey that is dependent on several factors,  I wanted to share with you, one of the most basic and powerful tools to access your happiness. The tool that I presented at WOHASU 2018 conference, was The Power of the Breath”. 

This video will endeavor to explain the physiological mechanisms and the mind-body connection of breathing, as well as many of the research driven applications utilized with breathing. 

I hope you enjoy this presentation and that you can pass this information on to your love ones 🙂

Much Love and Gratitude,

 

 

 

 

Water and Brain Function Optimization

Over 70 % of your body is composed of water, and every function in the body is dependent on water, including the activities of the brain and nervous system.

Water and Brain Function – “How to Improve Memory and Focus”  – by Merlin Hearn and Nancy Hearn

The average person in the U.S. drinks less than a quart (32 ounces) of water a day.
Yet, according to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult loses more than 80 ounces of water every day through sweating, breathing, and eliminating wastes.
If you are drinking less than 80 ounces of water a day, what is the impact on your brain function? Drinking water and brain function are integrally linked.
Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous symptoms including problems with focus, memory, brain fatigue and brain fog, as well as headaches, sleep issues, anger, depression, and many more.

Water and Brain Energy

The brain is one of the most important organs in your body to keep fueled. It is approximately 85 percent water and brain function depends on having abundant access to water.

Drinking water and brain function are integrally linked.

Water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes.
According to Dr. Corinne Allen, founder of the Advanced Learning and Development Institute, brain cells need two times more energy than other cells in the body. Water provides this energy more effectively than any other substance.
Water is also needed for the brain’s production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Nerve transmission requires one-half of all the brain’s energy.When your brain is functioning on a full reserve of water, you will be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.

Daily hydration will not only help with better thinking, it can help prevent attention deficit disorder in children and adults.
The reason why it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day for optimal brain function is because your brain does not have any way to store water.
When your body loses more water than you are replacing, dehydration will kick in and brain function will be affected.

Brain Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration causes your brain to shut down and not run at full speed. Some of the mental symptoms of dehydration include brain fog, afternoon fatigue, focus issues, depression, anger, emotional instability, exhaustion, headaches, sleep issues, stress, and a lack of mental clarity and acuity.Studies have shown that if you are only 1 percent dehydrated, you will likely have a 5 percent decrease in cognitive function.
If your brain drops 2 percent in body water, you may suffer from fuzzy short-term memory, experience problems with focusing, and have trouble with math computations.
Further studies have shown that prolonged dehydration causes brain cells to shrink in size and mass. This is most common in the elderly, many of whom tend to be chronically dehydrated for years.

Dehydration is also a known factor in dementia and proper hydration may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Water is also essential for delivering nutrients to the brain and for removing toxins. When the brain is fully hydrated, the exchange of nutrients and toxins will be more efficient—thus ensuring better concentration and mental alertness.

Water and Brain Challenges

Dr. Allen has found that people with brain challenges such as Autism, Aspergers, ADD, head injuries, anxiety attacks and depression often drink almost no water each day! The lack of water only enhances brain dysfunction.
Brain inflammation is often associated with various types of brain challenges, especially injuries, and will often result in the body’s inability to detoxify harmful substances from the brain.
When the body is dehydrated, the detoxification problem linked to inflammation is exacerbated.
Free radicals such as radiation, pollutants, chemicals, pesticides, and toxic metals pass freely through the brain’s blood supply. To stop the many sources of free radicals attacking the brain and causing brain inflammation, a strong antioxidant and powerful anti-inflammatory agent is needed.

Water provides essential energy to the brain, keeps the nerve signals going, delivers nutrients to the brain, and removes toxins. We need to be drinking enough water daily to keep the brain fueled and energized for optimum function.

Recommendations for Improved Brain Function

To start your day off right for optimal brain function, I recommend drinking 12 to 16 ounces of water as soon as you wake up.
Always keep a bottle of filtered water near you throughout the day, especially if you have a job that requires a lot of mental activity.

Drinking water regularly will help to keep your brain fueled, oxygenated, and energized.

Many people think, like I use to, that they can drink soda, coffee, milk, or juice instead of water and get the same level of hydration. This is simply not true.
Bottom line, if you want your brain to function well, receiving and sending signals to the rest of your body, make sure it receives the water it needs.
In addition, the type of water you drink is extremely important. I recommend filtered drinking water over tap, bottled, distilled, or reverse osmosis water.

Reference
Brainadvance.org: Water and the Brain
Further reading . . .
Depression and Dehydration – Key Reasons They Are Linked
Return from Water and Brain to Health Benefits of Drinking Water

I hope you enjoy this article and choose to stay on the path to wellness by staying hydrated.

REMEMBER: The recipe for well-being is simple: 

BREATH DEEPLY, DRINK WATERSLEEP WELL, STAY GRATEFUL  and PRACTICE YOGA

My Love and Gratitude to YOU !

Veronica Vidal

 

 

WOHASU 2018 – ‘What Is Yoga?” by Veronica Vidal

Veronica Vidal is a Fellow Founder and  the Chair of  the Global Yoga Community Board  for The World Happiness Summit 2017, 2018 (WOHASU) 

In this video presentation Veronica explains what is Yoga and why practice Yoga as an integral part to find happiness ? 
“Happiness is a choice that one needs to cultivate, and yoga is a powerful tool to sustain happiness, as well as to become resilient to the inevitable vicissitudes of life.”