Tag Archives: Discipline

The Spirituality of Fitness


by Janice Lennard

I am convinced that there is a direct parallelism between spirituality and fitness. Indeed, the foundation and centeredness achieved through regularly practiced physical activity is attributed to the interlacing of spirituality throughout the entire experience of exercise.

The commonalities of spirituality and fitness include, but are not limited to:

Discipline, Commitment, Focus, Mindset, Lifestyle and The ability to say “no.”

The aforementioned list most certainly has room for improvement and modification, but don’t we also have room for improvement and modification? After all, our bodies are constantly changing, and we modify our actions and behaviors to accommodate the continuous  changes we experience throughout our lives. It is through disciplined exercise and a spiritual mindset that change is embraced rather than feared. Continue reading

How to Survive Tickle Torture Like a Yogi

FamilyThis summer the ever-expanding internet has been saturated with self-help titles. This year’s ubiquitous How-to columns are last year’s Call Me Maybe. 5 Ways to Know You Have a Sunburn, How to Match Your Socks to Your Underpants, The Best Way to Break Your Andy Cohen Habit. I admit, I’ve cast out a few How-tos of my own. So move over Carly Rae, here’s one more.

Okay, okay, so this isn’t the most serious article you’ll ever read, but I’ll bet my kids’ weekly allowance that mastery of this survival skill will save your butt the next time you’re hand to bellybutton with a ferocious tickler.

You’ve got to admit, being tickled is downright torturous. It’s juvenile, it’s flirtatious, it’s downright… painful? Uncomfortable? Breathtaking? Invasive? Creepy? I don’t know how to describe the feeling of being tickled, actually. But it ranks very high on my least favorite interactions specifically involving my neck, armpits, ribs, thighs, and feet.

Tonight I had an encounter of the tickling kind. My four-year-old was in big trouble. He kept pulling the puppy’s tail and laughing whenever I disciplined him. So I carried him upstairs and pinned him on his bed to keep him from wriggling away while I lectured him. I imagine that his four-year-old mind processed my words like this: “Wah wah wah-wah waaaahhh.” (I am officially a Peanuts cartoon character.)

He laughed hysterically while I spoke. At first I was offended but he kept laughing wildly.  He broke me. I started laughing, too. Then I started tickling him and he responded with relentless retaliation. Before I could run for cover he was jamming his little fingers into my armpits and I was curling into fetal position to protect my ticklish parts.

I’m four times the size of him so it was easy for me to squeeze my arms into my ribcage and protect my goods. But I noticed something while he was relentlessly searching for a way under my arms. More so than the tickling itself, the anticipation of the tickling made me crazy. Cracking up, tears rolling, chin pulled into my neck, hooting with laughter. Isn’t this the way? The anticipation of the event produces more emotion than the event itself. (Note to self: Please remember this next time you begin obsessing over your impending mammogram.)

“Why are you so ticklish there?” my son probed.

“I don’t,” snort, “know,” chortle, “Can you stop,” giggle, “pllleeease?”

He wouldn’t stop and I was frozen with red-faced breathlessness so I decided to put my meditation practice to work. I began to draw that discomfort away from my underarms and neutralize it. While he squeezed and poked, I separated my thoughts from my body and somehow extracted the discomfort from my field of feelings. The fingers were no longer tickling, just poking. I don’t know how I did it really, but it worked. And when he realized that his little paws no longer had a dazzlingly humorous effect on me, he stopped.

My torturer was outdone by my amazing power of equanimity. Take that How-to little man. Until next time…


More by Vanessa:

Why Kate Middleton’s Natural Childbirth Should Inspire Us All

5 Tips to Survive Summer Vacation With Wild Kids

This One Goes Out to All the “Nobodies”


Breathe-See-Feel the Way to Manifesting Your Desires

Grace - 1By Colette Davenport

Lately, I’ve been experiencing the urge to be near the ocean. The ideal for me is a tropical environment with soft brown sugar-like sands, lush towering palm trees through which the ocean breeze whispers mother nature’s secrets, and water so ridiculously clear and azure in color that when I close my eyes that’s what appears on the screen of my eyelids.

Sounds great, right? Well, there are some hurdles I have to overcome before I can get to that tropical paradise. First, I need to save up the money by re-prioritizing my spending.  Instead of indulging, for instance, in things like pedicures and spontaneous shopping trips to Target (you know how this can go!) I’m going to have to put that money into a travel account. Or hey, even better, that fun little piggy-bank I got at Target last week! Next, and this isn’t so much required as it is desired, I want to look and feel fabulous in bikini on the beach. So I am setting a goal to exercise five days a week. My three-days-a-week routine is doing a lovely job of maintaining a physique, but I want to challenge and then reward myself with the holiday. Given all of that, I think eight weeks is a reasonable time-frame to save up and tone up.

Now. Here’s where the real challenge comes into play. I have to choose for the next two months in favor of my intention to float and frolic in the warm waters of the sea. My tendency is to react to the immediate desire, i.e. “Cute piggy-bank!” (flower vase, scarf, etc.) or “Happy hour instead of the gym? Sure why not!” Making conscious choices daily will determine whether I’m sitting seaside this summer or pushing a red shopping cart browsing the beach towel isle.

In an effort to make the daily choices fun and functional, I’ve created the breatheseefeel method, described below. I invite you to join me and use it whenever you’re faced with a decision to indulge in an immediately gratifying activity OR to consciously choose in favor of something you really desire and intend.

First, breathe. Inhale a deep full breath and then exhale slowly, mindfully, and allow for instant conscious awareness. It clears the mind of racing thoughts. It also relieves the near constant “fight or flight” response induced by fear or confusion. It’s kind of like pushing the reset button. I like to imagine the exhale as a down escalator…taking me from the upper floor (my head, that wants something NOW) to the lower floor (my heart, that intends something more meaningful).

Next, see. Visualize yourself successfully reaching your goal or manifesting your intention. Notice the environment. (I did this while writing the first paragraph above.) Observe what you’re doing in that environment. Is it day or night? Who are you sharing the good news or good vibes with? See them, too.

Finally, as you see your intended results come to fruition, feel the positive emotions this success elicits. You know what it feels like to get what you want or succeed at something important so let yourself feel those feelings in advance – I bet it brings a smile to your face! After all, isn’t that what we’re going for when it comes to immediate gratification?

When we breathe, see, and feel, we get present to how the choice before us is either “for or against” our real intentions. In that moment we align our head and heart, our choices and actions so that achieving our goals becomes powerful and pleasurable.

Right then, I’m off to put piggy front and center, depositing (what was going to be) “latte money” in her on my way out the door. And this time I’m choosing the flush of redness in my face from a work out over the red bull’s eye.

* * *

professional portraitColette Davenport is a health, relationship, and intimacy coach with 20+ years of training, formal education, and life experiences culminating in a truly integrated and holistic body of work. Colette’s private practice, THRIVE [mind+body+energy], is a Tantra inspired coaching and training platform shaped by her personal philosophy, which is rooted in self-awareness, compassion, service, mindfulness, personal growth, communication, gratitude, and love. Miss Davenport studied at Texas Healing Arts Institute in Austin, TX and received a holistic health coach certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. To connect with Colette visit her website, Facebook, or Twitter.


Image via Lululemon

Are You A Noun Or Verb? Why It Matters

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 12.22.31 PMWhether you are a noun or a verb holds an important clue to self-awareness: Are you static or evolving? This is not a grammar test or a value judgment. Simply put, at different times of our lives we are nouns (a title, an accomplishment) and at other times we are a verb (a state of becoming). Whether you consider yourself a noun or a verb can reveal a side of yourself, both to yourself and others, which is normally hidden from view like the moon revolving around the earth keeping one side dark and mysterious.

When you perceive yourself as a noun, you tend to have a strong and clear label which overwhelms your identity – a spouse, a parent, a student, a teacher, a boss, an engineer or a healer. When you lose that label like people who are fired or retired, you feel a bit lost and useless. There is no longer a verb like “going to work” associated with your noun.

On the other hand perceiving yourself as a verb, you are on a journey of becoming – studying, playing, creating, gardening, thinking, believing, meditating, or reading. This state of becoming is usually filled with hope and possibility as you are a work in progress. If it didn’t work out today, it will surely work out tomorrow.

Although some traits could intersect…

Generally, nouns prefer:

  • Concrete proof  like a diploma or a license
  • Discipline and order, a sequence
  • Clarity
  • Validation
  • Planning the details

Generally, verbs prefer:

  • To think rather than to know
  • To move
  • New beginnings
  • The journey as opposed to the destination
  • Searching for hidden clues
  • To dream

Nouns and verbs make good partners in complete sentences, like pessimists and optimists, realists and romanticists. Consider a good pianist. Sure, technique and competence play the notes masterfully. However, the pauses in playing those notes constitute the interpretation and the heartfelt emotion. There is the noun – the pianist or the master – and then there is the playing, the fluid motion of notes touching hearts and minds. In order to play for an audience one has to feel confident, to know what he or she can do, the noun, and then go ahead and do it masterfully , the verb.

So, during quiet time make a two-column list. On one side list all the nouns that you are. On the other side list what you are doing with them. For example,  mother – raising both a toddler and a teenager. Or, accountant – helping people balance their budget and turn a profit. Take your time brainstorming your list of nouns and verbs. Who knows what hidden side of yourself you might reveal and act on?

Do You Embrace Contradictions? Why Paradox is Necessary for Happiness

contradictionnopetsI love Secrets of Adulthood, fables, teaching stories, koans, and paradoxes–or anything that smacks of paradox. For instance, I get a big kick out of the page of my bank statement that reads, “This page intentionally left blank.” No, it’s not blank. It has that notice printed on it!

As I’ve worked on my happiness project, I’ve been struck by the contradictions I kept confronting. The opposite of a profound truth is also true, and I often find myself trying to embrace both sides of an idea:

1. Accept myself, and expect more of myself.

2. Use my time efficiently, yet make time to play, to wander, to read at whim, to fail.

3. Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously.

4.  Someplace, keep an empty shelf, and someplace, keep a junk drawer. If you want to see my empty shelf with your own eyes, watch here at minute 6:41–some people are dubious about whether I actually have one.

5. Think about myself so I can forget myself.

6. Paying close attention to something sometimes helps me to ignore it. (Like cravings.)

7. Often it takes discipline to take pleasure.

8. If I want to keep going, I must allow myself to stop.

9. The days are long, but the years are short. Of everything I’ve ever written, I think this one-minute video resonates most with people.

Often, the search for happiness means embracing both sides of the contradiction.

Take, for example, Item #1 above–certainly one of the central challenges of life. W. H. Auden articulates beautifully this tension:

Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.

Which ones particularly resonate with you? What am I leaving out?

* * *

Would you like a free, personalized, signed bookplate for your copy of The Happiness Project or Happier at Home? Or, if you have the e-book or the audio-book, a signature card? Or would you like these for a friend? Request them here. Ask for as many as you’d like, but alas, because of mailing costs, I can now mail only to the U.S. and Canada. So sorry about that.

Seven Steps to Changing Your Life

Want to change your life? You CAN!!  Number 1: believe you can change your life. If  you do not believe it, then forget the whole thing and do not try to change your life.  If you can believe it, then proceed. Number 2: get out a notebook or open a file on your computer and list three things you would like to change about your life. When you get a good start on the first three, you will be adding more items to this list, but lets begin with three things you would like to change.  Even listing three things may be overwhelming at first, but if you can keep your sense of humor, you CAN get through this step.  As you make this list, keep in mind that it may take many years to accomplish everything on your current and future lists, but if you believe you can change your life, you will.  Now come now, be realistic and do not put things such as "win a million dollars in the lottery" on your list.  List goals that are realistic. 

Now proceed to step 3:  Accept that you and those around you may not like the changes you are about to make.  For instance, if one of the things on your list is to give up smoking,  at first you may not enjoy giving up smoking (THAT is an understatement!)  and your friends who smoke will not like it when you give up smoking, however much praise they may heap on you. Deep down inside your smoking friends want you to smoke so that they have a smoking buddy.  As you stop smoking, your smoking buddies may be confronted by their own addiction, and that is not alot of fun.

On  to step 4:  Give yourself a talking to and accept the fact that all of life is not about what you like, dislike and what you want.  Yes, you may want a cigarette, or whatever else it is that may not be any good for you, but what is more important, your health or your desires?  I know a young woman who can hardly breathe these days, but she is bound and determined to have that cigarette, because she WANTS it and of course is addicted. This woman needs to make a decision to get professional help in order to change her life. But SHE has to make that decision that what she wants each day is not as important as finding a way to do what is good for her in the long run.

If you are now reaching step 5, you are ready to start enforcing the DO IT NOW button in your brain, in your left toe, in fact everywhere within you your mind-body and spirit.  In this step you will need to train yourself to take the actions that are in harmony with the changes  you want to make.  For instance if you have been sitting around like a couch potato watching TV or playing computer games, when you need to look for work, you need to push your DO IT NOW button and get off your you know what, and out the door to look for work.  Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is too late: DO IT NOW, NO EXCUSES. 

Or if the change you want to make is physical, such as losing fifty pounds, you need to DO IT NOW.  Losing weight is a moment to moment challenge. You need to go to the store and buy the right foods, cook them and eat them. In the moment, you need to say NO to ice cream and yes to a lovely plate of steamed veggies, which by the way can taste heavenly with a small amount of Smart Balance and some shredded parmesan cheese.  (Yummy)  IT IS IN THE NOW that you need to say no to eating something that someone in your family has spent a whole day slaving over a hot stove just for YOU.  To prevent such dramatic confrontations, tell your loved ones you are going to lose weight and tell them what you can or cannot eat. In this way your family cook is forewarned and if he or she makes something for you that you have already said you cannot eat, then guess what, it is the cook’s problemo, not yours!

Step 6:  When you reach step 6 you are well on  your way to changing your life. You have been changing your habits, and now unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for some of you) you are going to need to make changes in your relationships.  Like attracts like, so if you are not hanging out with positive people who want to make healthy and positive choices, then it is time to start hanging out with more folks who do want to make positive changes.  This does not mean you should leave your family, but find the members of the family to hang out with the most, who will be helpful to you as you change your life.  And watch what happens: as you change yourself for the better, many of those folks in your circle of family and friends, will follow your example. It may take a year or two, but you could be the leader in  your circle of loved ones to turn things around.  If you may a change, you become a role model for others. Do NOT preach to others: just change your life for the better, and speeches will not be necessary.

Yippee we are at step 7:      Step 7 is simple: a no brainer.  Keep on doing steps 1 through 6.  In other words, step 7 is all about keep on truckin"!"  Keep believing in yourself.  Keep knowing that the God of your understand is there for you and can help you change your life into a better life.

(if you think this message would help a friend, please pass it on)




5 Ways To Boost Your Will Power


r-ANXIETY-large.jpgDid you know that will power is like coal? We have a limited amount, and it can very well run out before your husband buys your lot. I am pretty sure that I used up a fair chunk in my 20s and 30s trying to stay sober, eat right, exercise five times a week, yada yada yada through a bunch of boredom.


Now it’s gone. The technology fast that I had no problem pulling off a year ago (no email, facebook, twitter, etc. for 20 days)? I got to day five. The no-work-on-the weekends resolution I kept for months on end last year? Tried it again and caved Friday evening. I am determined to get some of my will power back, so here I have assembled the tricks that have worked in the past.

1. Eliminate it.

Jesus says that if your eye is causing you to sin then pluck it out. Ouch? Well maybe you don’t need to go that far. But I have arrived at a solution to my Internet problem, the source of way too much distraction for me. I am going to start working at a place–a nice hall within the Naval Academy, actually–that has no wireless access. If it’s not there, it can’t tempt me. Of course there is the problem about responding to those legitimate emails, but I’ll figure out a system soon enough.

2. Make fun of your obsession or addiction.

This is remarkably powerful and doesn’t hurt. Example. My friend Mike and I are both hypochondriacs. Whenever we find something else wrong with us, we will call up the other and tell him/her how to choreograph the funeral and which songs we want. In other words, we give the condition WAY too much power. So my job is to make him laugh, and his job is to make me laugh. Because when you laugh, the thing–addiction, obsession, bad habit–isn’t as big of a deal.

Mike called the other day and said his feet were swelling … "What if you are becoming an ogre?!?" I asked him. When my Raynaud’s phenomenon was causing me some real discomfort and worry–turning my hands an orange-purplish color, and I told him that I would probably have to get them amputated, he said, "Oh, that’s too bad. Have you thought about how you would write?" "Of course," I responded, "I would hold a straw with my mouth and punch the keyboard that way," at which point he howled, because it was so ridiculous. And then I did too.

3. Image the consequence.

Most of the time, when we are craving carbs or alcohol or a puff of fine weed, we stop at the fun part, the ideal buzz when everything is just right. Our fantasies get stuck on the feeling of grand satisfaction that we are pursuing through the item of our choice. Someone told me once to follow the fantasy through … to the next morning, when I feel like hell from the shots of vodka I was downing, or like a hippopotamus from the five colorful cupcakes I shoved in my mouth, or like I just want to hide in bed forever because the self-disgust is overwhelming. Make sure to go there. To the consequence. Before you let the anticipation of the buzz fool you.

4. Be accountable.

I mentioned this step in my piece, "14 Ways to Recover from an Emotional Affair." If you are a stage-four people pleaser like I am, or if you are Catholic, this is really effective. Be accountable to a few people in your life for good behavior. Not really like the principal of an elementary school, or, well, yeah, kind of like that. My doctor and my therapist are my principals, because I know what the first thing they are going to ask me is: "So, what’s going on with you?" And at that point, I could lie or tell the truth. If I lied, that would be a big old waste of $125, wouldn’t it? It’s not like confession where you can leave some of it out. I sincerely want to tell them I’m making progress in a certain area of my life. My therapist, especially, will give me "assignments" or things to work on before our next visit. I was always one to get my homework finished on time, so this system works for me.

5. Invest in support.

There is a big difference between ATTENDING a support group and PARTICIPATING in a support group. Participants are much less likely to relapse because participants can’t say, "to hell with those meetings" for longer than a few nights before he starts to get phone calls. "You okay? We haven’t seen you in awhile." No one really notices the attendant, on the contrary, because she hasn’t invested herself into the group. 

A real life example! Ever since I had a running injury, I have been swimming a few times a week. A group of very fast, we’re-going-to-swim-the-Chesapeake-Bay swimmers practice at 6 am, and I was a tad intimidated to join in their fun. Plus getting into cold water first thing in the morning wasn’t all that appealing. So at first I was an attendant. When I didn’t show up, no one really noticed. I was a fringe member. However, recently I have transitioned into a participant. I make a concerted effort to get to know them, show up at the parties (from here on out, at least), and this week I am even calling my first work out (equivalent to chairing a twelve-step support group).

Queen of the Castle – Gaining respect from your children

I’ve heard many moms say, “He just doesn’t listen!” Or “How many times do I need to tell her before she’ll do as she’s asked?” This issue is mainly for toddlers and preschool children on up. Toddlers are finding their own will but do not yet respond to the complexity and order of language the way older children do. Toddlers simply follow their impulses and it is up to us to redirect them if necessary. However, all children regardless of age are able to feel/sense whether we are confident and clear and they respond to that by acting out or not. Children are sensitive to our inner states and respond by challenging us to be present, loving and clear when we are not. (There are also situations where they are responding to more than our inner states. This can be seen with physical issues like food allergies, candida overgrowth, rashes, and other childhood disease or genetic issues.)

This is where holding a mantel of authority comes in. When we are feeling strong, clear and expressing ourselves from a state of empowerment, our children either listen or we take the opportunity to teach them in simple and loving terms about what is expected. Life just flows. Likewise, when we are “off” and feeling distracted, disconnected from our children or tired, this is usually when our children will test our limits the most. Children have needs to be met. It is our job to meet them. We meet them, not by being a slave to our children, but by knowing what to give.

One of childrens’ greatest needs is for structure and boundaries. If we are unclear about the best way to handle their behavior, they will continue challenging us with it until we step into our authority and clarify the limits. When we are certain of what is acceptable, they will trust us and listen. They need us to be the authority, guide, teacher and empowered mama so that they can relax and be a child. Their anxiety will dissolve if they are aware of what is expected of them and what the consequences are if they do not listen. They rely on us for this. If we are not providing this in some way, they will let us know.

The most effective way to develop a clear mind, strong boundaries, flexibility in communication, fun and easy interactions and respect from our children is to embody self-respect. To feel like the queen of the household whom expects to be treated as such. The more we believe we are worthy of respect, the more we will receive it. Likewise the more we believe negative thoughts about ourselves, the more we identify with them and draw in poor treatment from our children and other family members.

The meditation "Queen of the Castle" is designed to create an inner shift in our ability to hold a mantel of respect and authority while strengthening love and connection with our children and ourselves.

Discipline and Choice

While the spirit within may be able to travel anywhere, and do almost anything, the physical body and mind are limited to our human experience, and need nourishment and rest that is not required by the spirit.  All of us need to take the time to feed our bodies the best food possible. We need to create schedules where exercise is a must every day. And we also need to rest.  For many of us this sounds impossible, but if we can step back and look at our lives objectively, we will find many things that waste our time.  If we can work with our schedules, we can make time to take care of ourselves. This takes creativity and also discipline. Without discipline, we are no where. Things will get out of hand, and we will wonder why our lives fell apart.  WE each have the choice to lead a disciplined life.

Psychic Medium and Inspirational Author Carole Lynne



Discipline and Choice

While the spirit within may be able to travel anywhere, and do almost anything, the physical body and mind are limited to our human experience, and need nourishment and rest that is not required by the spirit.  All of us need to take the time to feed our bodies the best food possible. We need to create schedules where exercise is a must every day. And we also need to rest.  For many of us this sounds impossible, but if we can step back and look at our lives objectively, we will find many things that waste our time.  If we can work with our schedules, we can make time to take care of ourselves. This takes creativity and also discipline. Without discipline, we are no where. Things will get out of hand, and we will wonder why our lives fell apart.  WE each have the choice to lead a disciplined life.

Psychic Medium and Inspirational Author Carole Lynne



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