The Best Reason to Talk with Yourself

Last week I found out that an online class for which I had registered was being postponed for a few months. I felt the expected gambit of emotions: surprised, disappointed, understanding, wonder for how it would impact my plans, thankful it was still being offered at a later date… you get it. When the time arrived that I would have been in class, the disappointment returned. This time it was carrying a suitcase full of unhelpful self-talk (Sanskrit: svadhyaya.)

“I should be in class right now.”
“I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.”
“Of course mine would be the class that was postponed.”

Wandering thoughts are part of life; they drift in and try to take residence. Through mindfulness, we learn how to send them back to sea. Here are my 5 go-to mantras for keeping perspective when things don’t go as I thought they would.

  1. Disappointment is part of life. It happens to everyone.
  2. I give myself permission to feel emotions; I’m human.
  3. This is a learning opportunity. What can I learn?
  4. I choose to share what I am learning with others.
  5. “All things work together for my good” is one of my core beliefs. I choose to see the good in this.

That’s it! The real reason we talk to our self is to encourage our self– to meditate on constructive thoughts instead of ruminate on fruitless thoughts. We bring awareness to our intentions. We remind ourselves of the bigger picture. We extend grace. The next time things don’t go according to plan, consider some positive reinforcement– from yourself.

Identify your core beliefs and write some mantras of your own when you register for a Crosswork yoga class.

How to Take a Meaningful Retreat for Self-Reflection

When is the last time you stepped away from the hustle-hustle of everyday life to seek solitude? If you are having difficulty concentrating, taking time to yourself can help you clear your mind. If you are making big decisions, a retreat can help you bring awareness to your intentions and motivations so you can see the entirety of your situation with a fresh perspective. If you are burned out, solitude can help you rest, reconnect with your bigger why, and recalibrate.

The world is moving faster than ever before. But in spite of the frenetic pace around us, we can still prioritize time to look within ourselves. If you have never taken time away for self-reflection, then you may be at a loss for where to start. Good news! Taking time away to rest and reflect may be easier than you think. Here are 3 ways to take a meaningful retreat for self-reflection.

  1. The Stay-cation
    Ahhhh! Home! For many people, there’s no place like home. It is your castle, your fortress, and the place to let your hair down. Just staying home with nothing to do sounds like a dream. But for others, staying home isn’t the most relaxing idea because of all the distractions. Once you unplug from electronics and begin staring at unfinished projects, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to start tackling your to-do list. Whether you’re taking a single hour of solitude or an entire weekend to get some peace and quiet, the first thing you have to consider is freeing your mind from distractions.

    Other helpful things to consider include:
    > shopping for groceries so you don’t have to leave home
    > setting your email to an automatic reply
    > creating a peaceful atmosphere in your home with lighting or sound
    > placing “Please Do Not Disturb” signs on your door(s)
    > letting loved ones know you are safe and practicing solitude (so they are not concerned)

  2. Escape to the Great Outdoors
    Going outside is often a great way to get away from common hindrances to peace. You may choose a local park, a favorite hiking trail, or other outdoor space. But you don’t have to go far away to find sunlight and fresh air. Outdoor spaces that are close to home like your back yard or patio can also be relaxing. Many people tune out noisy distractions by using ear buds to listen to a book, singing bowls, chanting, guided meditation, or (ironically) sounds from nature. Other people prefer the sound of silence. If you are going outside: be safe. Make an informed plan, and let others know your plans. This helpful list is a great place to start.

  3. Find a Yoga or Spa Resort
    Travelling can be relaxing. There is an opportunity to feel truly alone. There is beautiful scenery. There is a rewarding destination at the end. The anticipation of visiting a new place or a familiar hangout can bring a thrill of excitement. “Research shows that the brain releases dopamine in anticipation of a reward.” Planning your time of solitude and anticipating your retreat could be as beneficial as the retreat itself.

    Resort spas that center around yoga and solitude can be a great fit for people who feel stressed by (or don’t have time to) plan a trip. All inclusive spas shoulder all or most of the decision making. They often have access to amazing foods that are in season, or they host renown yoga teachers. Some resorts offer other therapeutic amenities like horseback riding, wraps and facials, or massage.

    Here are a few things to consider when planning a trip:
    > Do some research. Make sure the place you visit has a reputation for safety and ethical practices.
    > Resist the urge to over-pack.
    > Having a clean, organized space can contribute to a peaceful mood.
    > Whether riding in your personal car or opting for mass transit, your travel time to a resort can also be a great time to notice your natural breathing.

How to Relax When You Take a Day Off

I regularly see people on social media asking for help with the same dilemma. It usually reads like this:

“I am on vacation, and I still can’t stop checking my phone for work. I’m afraid that if I turn off my phone, I’ll miss something big, lose an account, get overlooked on a project, lose my job, etc. How do I take time off from work without feeling guilty or stressed about missing something?”

Here’s a good place to start: what are you repeating in your mind?

“I’m just going to answer this one call; I have to.”
“Checking my email will only take one minute.”
“AH! It’s Chris! I should take this.”

Mindfulness habits can help you switch gears between work and rest. When you’re at work, you have a to-do list (whether physical or mental.) You are conditioned to operate in this mode; it’s your current habit. Rather than trying to completely re-wire yourself on your day(s) off, piggyback on your existing habit and give yourself a task for today. Maybe it’s rest. REST. Today, rest is as important as selling your product, closing a deal, stitching a wound, or teaching fractions– whatever your usual tasks are.

Write your task on a sticky note, and stick it where you can see it as a constant reminder of your goal. When fear of missing out kicks in on your day off, look to your mantra.

REST.
I value rest. I need rest. I can rest.
If I do not rest, I will burn out or get sick.
My capable team has got things covered.
I will return stronger because I refilled my tank.”


If rest is too abstract, make a list of restful pursuits.
Walk my dog in the park
Practice yoga
Play a board game with a loved one
Knit
Play golf

In a healthy relationship,
absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It’s okay if you are missed for a short time;
it indicates that you are a valuable member!

  • If everything falls apart because 1 team member is absent for a day, or someone is made to feel guilty for taking reasonable time to refuel, it is a sign that the relationship with others is unbalanced.
  • If we personally feel guilty for taking time to take care of ourselves, it is a sign that the internal relationship we have with our self is unbalanced.

The sticky-note habit helps us keep our mind’s eye fixed on our core values (or the yamas) and minimizes fear of missing out. Taking time to rest and study yourself (svadhyaya) can help you turn an abstract goal (like rest) into something tangible you can measure. It can give you the courage to speak candid truth (satya) like:

  • I understand that things are not the same when a team member is away. I did a great job delegating my usual responsibilities before I left, and I always help others when they are away. Prioritizing my health makes me a better team member.
  • This project sounds like a great opportunity, but I am going to have to pass. Have you considered asking Julio?
  • This project sounds like a great opportunity, and I am in a great place to help you with it. Let’s get started!

    Many industries move at a rapid pace, and competition is fierce. It’s true. Healthy teams are comprised of healthy individuals. Healthy relationships at work are open and honest [in the kindest, most professional, and most respectable way] about boundaries, skills, limitations, and expectations. A healthy relationship with your self requires nothing less. Support others when they need a break, and don’t feel guilty when it’s your time to recharge.

    Hope that helps!

I am ready to help your team with mindfulness and yoga in the office.
Let’s schedule a lunch & learn. Email me to get started!

The Reason Morning Routines are Helpful

Developing a morning routine is often seen as a Type A personality trait or a tool people use to increase productivity. If we examine routines more closely, we find that even basic routines are pretty useful to almost everyone. In fact, for better or worse, you probably already have a few.

  • Forgetting your gym clothes
  • Wondering if you unplugged the iron
  • Leaving your coffee on the kitchen counter
  • Yelling at your loved ones to get in the car because you’re late

Those habits don’t really comprise an ideal morning. What are more preferable habits?

  • Walking or playing with your dog
  • Reading
  • Making a healthy lunch

Morning routines are really just intentionally healthy habits. A routine means that you have found the flow that works for you, and you are trying to do basically the same thing each morning so you can give your brain a break from decision-making, save time, curb forgetfulness, or foster positive interpersonal communication. Maybe you have other reasons!

Currently, my morning routine includes:

  • Brushing my teeth
  • Putting up my hair
  • Gardening in my greenhouse
  • Yoga
  • Reading and meditating

The rest of the day, my plans are usually pretty loose. I try to go with the flow and not let others’ plans throw a wrench in our day. Some days are easier than others. The reason morning routines are helpful is that they can bring us closer to balance. They may offer a familiar assurance. The stability of a morning routine contributes to filling my well of inner peace. Then I can draw from that peace if things around me seem frustrating, chaotic, or uncertain.

Download your free Crosswork Mindful Morning guide.

How Gardening Teaches People to be Resilient

Take a look at this miraculous fourth round of lettuce that I planted last March!

After I harvested the first bunches early last summer, I was delighted when about half of the lettuce seeds that I planted in March of 2020 sprouted a second time later that season. By late fall, I brought in some straggling leaves… maybe enough for one, good, family-sized salad. Christmas came and went, and then came the rain, the hard freezes, the sleet and frigid air. I didn’t even walk out to the greenhouse for over a month. When I went out today to begin preparing the soil in the raised beds, this perfect head of Burpee buttercrunch lettuce was there to meet me. I was floored!

It was such an encouraging reminder to me that living things are more resilient than we can logically account for. Where there is a willingness to grow, you can’t keep a hearty plant with deep roots from doing what it is compelled to do. People aren’t so different. Gardening is really a leap of faith that always yields far more than we anticipate. You plant some seeds. You expect to eat fruits and vegetables, or cut flowers. But in gardening, we also reap the benefits of working the soil, absorbing minerals, and breaking a sweat. It brings our awareness to the microscopic ecosystems of living things that harmoniously exist outside of four walls. It also gives us a chance to clear our minds, unload our burdens, and notice how we are feeling or what we are thinking.

Through Crosswork mindfulness, you can learn to pay attention to your life and invest in your health by setting boundaries and prioritizing time for the things you enjoy most– including hobbies. Through Crosswork yoga, you can learn to move toward gratitude, a more optimistic outlook, or consideration and empathy toward others. This will help you to become a healthier individual, partner, friend, or employee. Healthy employees are more productive and more likely to contribute to positive peer relationships in the workplace.

Do you have a hobby that allows you to step away from the daily grind and be restored? Maybe you used to; maybe it was golf, running, or reading. Whatever it is, make time for it this week.

P.S. If you just said to yourself, “I just don’t have time for hobbies,” then it’s time to email me.

Learn mindfulness personally through Crosswork 1:1 coaching, or bring lean practices to your entire team with Crosswork Lunch & Learn.
Email me to get started!

5 Reasons Why Your Health is a Certain Investment

I continue to read the word “uncertain” in headlines– whether the articles relate to the economy, politics, employment, travel, conferences, our culture, or the future of humanity. Highly emotive words, especially in repetition, have an impact on our perception of the world around us, our health, and our well-being.

Take a moment to reflect on the things for which you can be certain. Here are just a few:

  • You are important.
  • There is only one you, and you matter to more people than you will ever know.
  • You may feel exhausted, but you’re still here. That makes you resilient.
  • Paying attention to your health mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually is time well spent.
  • Considering others, listening to them, and humbly asking encouraging people to help you grow are noble and worthy pursuits. Seek out encouraging friendships, and invest in being an encouraging friend to others.

The bottom line: you can be CERTAIN that investing in taking care of yourself and those around you is a good investment– today and in the future.

Invest in yourself today!
Email me to learn more about Crosswork.

How to Keep a New Resolution

It’s been one week since we turned the page on 2020. How are your resolutions going? Maybe you thought about making a resolution for 2021 but never actually got around to it. If your old treadmill still looks like a clothes tree or you’ve already eaten more carbs this week than you care to admit, this post is for you: the procrastinators, the slow starters, and the still hopefuls. Here are three steps to make a new resolution and keep it… for good!

At the end of 2019, I was talking with a health coach about a plateau in my workouts. Her advice was to define my bigger why. Your bigger why is the driving force behind your goal. I wanted to lose weight‒ but why? To look better, sure. To feel better, definitely. But if those were the only reasons, then I would abandon my healthy eating plans as soon as I wanted a doughnut. She challenged me to define my bigger why in a single word. I chose FIT.

Fit meant I was prepared to handle whatever came my way. It meant I was willing to do the work mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to get fit. It also meant that I was committed to continually learning, growing, preparing, adapting, and calibrating to stay fit. I made a graphic (I’m a visual learner.) And for 6 weeks, I used that word as a gauge. A benchmark. When I wanted to sleep in, I told myself “This won’t help me get fit” so I got out of bed and worked out. When I wanted to eat junk food, I knew it wouldn’t help me stay fit, so I ate a salad instead. It worked.

Finding my bigger why helped me reach my goal! But as 2020 came to an end, I didn’t really know what to do. Fit was a successful mantra; should I just stick with it? As I brought mindfulness to my goal, I realized that becoming fit had opened the door for a new goal: listening. Over the last year, I have found a deeper appreciation for the art of listening. Being present. Thinking on what you notice in your body, your environment, and those around you. Who are you listening to? It matters.

So here are my big three for keeping a new resolution.

  1. Define your bigger why. What is motivating you? A career change? A luxurious dream vacation? More time with your family? Writing a book? Playing more golf? Be honest with yourself. What do you want to change, and most of all WHY? Write it down. Come back to it. Make daily reminders on your phone, or frame a picture of your last vacation, your next set of golf clubs… whatever it is. Keep it at the forefront of your mind and your plans. Think on it.
  2. Make a Plan. Now it’s time to align your actions with your bigger why. Make an incremental plan to achieve your goal. It’s not hard! First, sit down and write out how you would budget your time for a single day– from the time you wake up until the time you go go sleep. Look at your habits. Where can you trim the fat? Maybe you need to wake up 1 hour earlier (maybe you need to go to sleep an hour earlier!) Maybe it’s time to hand over some of your commitments. The first habits to change are often omitting the time wasters: social media, video websites, texting, and repeatedly checking email. Set some boundaries for yourself. Omitting time wasters may seem hard, but when you do, you are making time for the life you want. Once you’ve written down your ideal day, try doing it.
  3. Stick To It. It may take a week to tweak your routine and find a realistic groove. But once you do something for one day, then you have proven to yourself that you have what it takes to budget every day. So do it! A lifetime is just a series of days, and you can build the life you want through intentional habits each and every day. Consider what’s at stake if you don’t. If you get off track, it’s okay. Start over right where you are and go from there. We’re only 1 week in to 2021; this year can still be the year that you start to construct the life you want!

Learn how to develop habits to build the life you want. Let’s get started!

You are tired. Yoga and mindfulness can help.

I just can’t seem to think straight today.
I have too many irons in the fire.
I’m sorry I forgot; I was burning the midnight oil.
Her name is on the tip of my tongue; it’s there. Give me a second.
I can’t handle that right now; I have too many tabs opened in my brain.

Sound familiar? Your body runs involuntary processes all day long. These include memory, digestion, respiration, hormone regulation, and other processes that you don’t really see or think about unless something seems out of balance. But your body can also fall into “auto-pilot” with processes that you do see, such as waking up and walking straight to the sink to brush your teeth, walking in the front door and tossing your keys in the basket, or petting your dog when she brushes against your leg.

When our body experiences stress, it is designed to fight, flee, or freeze. The sympathetic nervous system takes the reigns. Our heartbeat might increase, our breathing might be come more rapid. Suddenly our mouth is dry, we may experience stomach discomfort or tense muscles in our jaw, neck, and shoulders. Practicing yoga can help us take notice of how our body feels, what it senses, what it needs, or what it is not welcoming. Through journaling, we can begin to see patterns between stimuli, what we think, and how we feel. We can recognize the things that trigger stress and equip ourselves to appropriately respond to them rather than give in and react.

When we develop a habit of consistently functioning in the sympathetic nervous system, our bodies recalibrate to keep us alive. Signs that a person might be operating from the sympathetic nervous system can include:

  • abundance of cortisol production, adrenal fatigue, and weight gain
  • inability to down-regulate and fall asleep or stay asleep (insomnia)
  • fatigue, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, or decreased ability to recall facts

Fortunately, our bodies are remarkable! They are often able to respond rapidly, within a matter of days, weeks, months or just a few years. A few years may not seem rapid, but to think on the fact that some people have been able to rebuild liver tissue or lung tissue that was damaged by decades of smoking or alcohol abuse in just a few years is remarkable.

Practicing yoga methods for just 8 weeks can help you achieve better sleep.  Better sleep can help your body achieve the restoration it needs to move closer toward functioning from the parasympathetic nervous system.

The focus of this class is three-fold:

  • To begin the practice of journaling and mindfulness meditation
  • To commit to going to bed at the same time every night, hydration, and meal planning
  • To practice yoga asanas and breathing to promote relaxation

This transformative 9-week class features:

  • Weekly 45 minute yoga class
  • Guided mindfulness meditation instruction
  • Daily encouragement and downloadable journaling prompts

Let’s Get Started!

The ideas expressed on this website are for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult with your primary care providers before beginning any new health practices.

5 Ways to Get Back on Track

Sometimes we get derailed. Your plans go awry. You had an idea of how your day would go, but something unforeseen happened and now you’re feeling frazzled. If you’ve got 5 minutes, here are 5 habits that can help you get back on track.

Breathe Pranayama is the yogic practice of intentional breathing. Begin with 3 calming breaths.

Hydrate You already know that your body is mostly water and that it depends on water for pretty much every process. Dehydration can lead to headaches or even changes in blood pressure, which can make a bad day even worse.

Remember Obstacles have the potential to make us more resilient. Instead of working against hindrances, try leaning into them. Ask yourself how you can harness this setback to come out stronger on the other side.

Move Exercise equals endorphins, and endorphins can improve our mood. Whether it’s a few seated twists at your desk or choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, step it up. Walk it off.

Focus So your plans were derailed. It happens. Take a moment to think on a few things that could still work out for you today: a run, a fantastic dinner, a frivolous dessert, a relaxing bath, or all of the above!

Why Meditate?

What do you think of when someone says meditation? Maybe you picture a person sitting crisscross applesauce, with their hands on their knees, chanting OM. Maybe you think of monks or others who have devoted themselves to a life of faithful practice. Or perhaps you think of someone who is completely tuned-out.

Meditation is concentration. In Sanskrit, the word is samadhi (suh-MAH-dee.) To meditate is to be still and think on something. It is the opposite of tuning out; it is a habit of intentionally focusing your mind and awareness. Mindfulness meditation is powerful. It is free, it can be learned by nearly anyone, and it can be practiced anywhere.

Meditation is powerful. Along with other practices, including asanas (or postures), breathing, and ethics, mindfulness meditation is one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Through meditation, many people have treated or reduced the effects of anxiety and stress. It can lower your allostatic and oxidative stress loads, diminish the signs of aging, and give you an overall sense of well-being. Meditation also builds neuroplasticity– or your brain’s ability to learn and adapt.

Meditation is free. Let’s face it: a clean, sustainable lifestyle filled with organic food and clothing generally costs more. Yoga, walking, sunlight, sleep, and mindfulness meditation are free. This makes them viable health benefits to nearly everyone.

Meditation is accessible. You do not need any special clothing, equipment, gear, or a specific environment to practice meditation. You can begin anywhere, any time. Mindfulness practices are safe for people of different ages and abilities. And perhaps the most significant facet of mindfulness meditation is that it gives truly different people a common bond.

Sarah teaches mindfulness meditation for stress reduction and chronic pain.