Don’t Worry Be Happy -W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #TenaciousTuesday

I recall a time not so long ago that I ridiculed people who read self-help books. I cannot pinpoint when and how I became enthralled with the wildly popular genre but in the past several years about 90% of my reading has been dedicated to memoirs and self-improvement. I take courses and workshops and online boot camps dedicated to understanding myself better and reaping more joy from the world around me.

I went from So What to Don’t Worry Be Happy on the musical scale of life.

When I initially started the W.I.S.E. Project I was going through a period of uncertainty and unexplained sadness and though I was going through the motions I wasn’t living a life that was bringing me a great deal of happiness. I made some changes right away in my life by being more mindful and aware which lead to me doing a relationship study and exploring the connection between our emotions and our actions. I made a conscious effort to try to control what I search and see online and to make choosing happiness and gratitude a priority every moment of every day.

I still get sad, angry, emotional, bitter and annoyed but I am much more aware of the cause of these feelings and I know that my actions in those moments of distress truly matter. I believe it was Brené Brown that first said, “You cannot selectively numb emotion.” What she meant by that is if we numb the bad emotions in hopes that we will never experience pain or anger we will also numb those delightful feelings of happiness and joy that we want to feel as well. It would be like taking a brilliantly colored rainbow and putting a bleak filter on it, making it dismal and uninteresting. It still passes for a rainbow but it it isn’t vivid and gleaming.

I think we all want the same basic things from life, we all want to live a happy and fulfilling life, but I respect that we all follow a different path to get there.

Newly “Happy” people are like people who were very successful on a diet or that just found Jesus.  They are excited and they want to help you have the same experience. The problem with that is that we are all individuals with different thoughts, feelings, beliefs and challenges, what works for one may not be a “one size fits all” fix.

In the past month, I have encountered the same thing repeatedly relating to the happiness experience and I thank my husband for encouraging me to look at things in a new way, especially in those cases that relate to our teenage daughters. I was leaning too far into the “don’t worry be happy” approach to guidance which gives very little regard to the vast emotions that we; as humans, experience daily.

Though I still wholeheartedly believe that gratitude breeds abundance and happiness is a choice, sometimes shitty things happen to us and we have every right to feel shitty about them. Telling someone who is hurting to “get over it” or to look on the bright side” is probably not the best way to be supportive. We experience feelings for a reason and they deserve to be acknowledged so that we can keep moving through life making the very best choices we can in the moment.

We are hardwired for struggle, if we respond to our pain, our sadness, our fears, we are admitting that our feelings are real and that they deserve our attention. We cannot overcome that which we refuse to acknowledge.

There has been a hopeful shift in the way that I relate to my teenage daughters. By acknowledging their fears and their pain instead of quickly dismissing it by telling them it won’t matter in twenty years or that they need to get over it, I have observed the emergence of their own coping mechanisms. My husband reminded me to think back to when I was a teenager and how things that may not matter to me now were a very big deal. It was a huge eye opener, and so effective to put myself in their shoes, at their age for just a moment. They are assured that their feelings have substance and that pain has a beginning, a middle and an end. I am seeing them accepting their fate and recognizing the steps they need to take to move through their difficult emotions, without holding unto the bad energy or passing it along to others. As a parent, it is very satisfying to watch their character reveal itself.

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I was quite annoyed the other week as I was discussing a situation with some friends and one proceeded to tell me how I felt and how I should feel about the circumstances. I thought that is was presumptuous to tell me how to feel. It gave me a moment of pause to consider if I have been guilty of the same thing.

There is a great deal of people in the world who wrap themselves in pain and anger and live their entire lives blanketed in misery. Unlike those people, people that are willing to experience the emotions that visit them, to identify their cause and travel through their struggles, hanging on to the lessons only; are probably some of the happiest and most intelligent people I know.

Diminishing and disregarding the feelings of another does not make us a shining example of anything. Even though we may think me may mean well, in our attempts to help we may be unwittingly devaluing their emotions.

One of the society’s biggest problems is that we listen only to respond. Sometimes people just want us to listen, not to tell them how to feel or how to fix their lives, they just need us to listen.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.”
― Roy T. Bennett

Bucket of Fucks-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 Tenacious Tuesday

DISCLAIMER- I apologize in advance for the use of the word fuck, I am struggling to find another word that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, an interjection or an adverb. If it bothers you, you can replace with the word flower or meatloaf.

“Now, while not giving a fuck may seem simple on the surface, it’s a whole new bag of burritos under the hood. I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I don’t give a fuck. A bag of burritos sounds awesome, so let’s just go with it.” ~Mark Manson

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I was ever given was to give up all my expectations of people. It took me a very long time to get behind that advice, the thought was foreign to me. I was heavily into volunteering at the time and I expected everyone to have the same level of commitment that I did, and because that didn’t happen often, I allowed it to cause me a great deal of stress. When I learned to stop expecting things of people it was a step in the right direction, I stopped taking it personally when people didn’t step up or follow through. Eventually I decided to move on to other things myself and albeit that was initially a difficult decision. When you put your heart into something and dedicate countless hours to a cause it is hard to walk the other way and not look back. That was the day I decided not to give a fuck. Too many fucks had been given and I was simply out of fucks to give.

I teetered through life with my bucket of fucks, giving fucks to things that really didn’t deserve a fuck. I gave a fuck if the cashier at the grocery store was rude, I threw another fuck at the driver that cut me off in traffic, I was handing out fucks to strangers and events that in the grand scheme of my life didn’t matter all. One day I found myself scraping the empty bottom of my bucket of fucks. I had given out fucks like they grew on trees, here a fuck, there a fuck…everywhere I am tossing a fuck, fuck!

I had one fuck left to give. It turns out fucks don’t grow on trees and if someone didn’t throw a fuck my way, I was going to be fuck-less!!

Simply not giving a fuck at all, ever, is apathetic, and that type of indifference is reserved for people that are lazy and uninspired. However, it is absolutely okay to not give a fuck about every little thing. It is fine to cache our fucks for things that are important, like family, friends and wine.

Younger me gave a fuck about everything and everyone. I was a people pleaser, I wanted to be liked, I gave a fuck about what people thought of me, what they said about me, whether they thought I was smart or funny or they liked my hair. I had a ton of fucks to give and I was handing them out all over town like I was that stranger with candy that your parents warned you about.

Age and maturity has taught me to be selective with the fucks I give. It is a work in progress but I find that I am certain of my identity, surer of myself, and I able to reserve my energy to give a fuck, only when it is important.

I went through this period of uncertainty not so long ago where I really struggled with who I was and how to be happy. I had it in my head that I wasn’t enough, that I was meant to do more with my life and I desperately wanted to have some sort of skill that would make that happen. After some soul searching I realized that I am never going to be a National Geographic Photographer or a Pulitzer Prize winner. I am not going to heal people or co-host a show with Ellen. I am OK with it. I am OK with being who I am and where I am in my life and as I sail through the days with my dwindling bucket of fucks I realize that it is alright not to give a fuck about every little thing. I am enough. I have everything I need and I am happy not giving a fuck a lot of the time!

It is not easy. There are days when I want to give a fuck about everything.  It gets tiring though and I find that at my age, the more fucks I give out, the less fucks I can dedicate to things that really deserve my time and energy. My goal is not to simply “not” give a fuck at all but to learn to redirect my fucks to the right people and things.

“The point is that fucks have to be earned and then invested wisely. Fucks are cultivated like a beautiful fucking garden, where if you fuck shit up and the fucks get fucked, then you’ve fucking fucked your fucks all the fuck up.” ~Mark Manson

I have come to realize that when I am giving way too many fucks to insignificant things, even things that bother me like the toilet paper not being changed, the drive through attendant’s lack of enthusiasm or whether there is toast crumbs in the butter, I am lacking something in my life, something that I genuinely give a fuck about.

Sometimes I am genuinely enthusiastic about so many things that I struggle with giving a fuck to everything , it’s like a big ol fuckstorm, blowing fucks all over the place. When the wind dies down I know that I need to gather up my fucks and put them back into my bucket of fucks and restrict my fuck giving to the things that matter the most to me because handing out fucks like they are mini chocolate bars at Halloween is not only tiring, it keeps me from offering up a fuck to the most important things.

If you are able to achieve the art of giving your fucks out selectively you will have learned a skill that takes others decades to accomplish. Like your favorite little black dress hanging in the back of the closet for the most special of occasions, your fucks to; must sometimes sit on the shelf, in wait until the time is right.

 

Do you struggle with giving a fuck?

Do you give too many fucks or not enough?

Do you give a fuck about trivial things?

Do you think there is a balance between giving a fuck and not giving a fuck?

 

If you want to learn more on the subject I highly recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Related : Shit Shit Shit

Part of Me-W.I.S.E. Project 2017/Tenacious Tuesday (Self Love)

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In the summer of 2012 when my daughters were 7 and 12  I took them to see Katy Perry’s Part of Me. To say that Katy was at the height of her career would not be an understatement, she played to sold out shows in arenas in 124 cities all over the world during her yearlong California Dreams tour.

There was an Alice in Wonderland-esque meets fairy-tale feel to each show and she played both Alice and the Princess flawlessly. Many a pink tutu, ruffles, lollipops and glitter were exhausted during every performance. It was everything I would have expected from a live Katy Perry Performance but so much more.

Filmmakers Dan Cutworth and Jane Lipsitz gave fans a unique experience which was a culmination of backstage pass,  front row fantasy and raw human emotion. Perry never faltered in her commitment to her fans, giving stellar performances night after night, all the while defying exhaustion and facing some incredibly challenging difficulties in her personal life.

In October of 2010 Katy married comedian Russel Brand; embarking on her first career altering tour just four months later in February of 2011. Perry went to remarkable lengths to fan the flames of her marriage, often taking her only days off to journey across the Atlantic to be with Brand even though he was unwilling to put forth an equal effort to stay connected to her and their marriage.

As the tour wore on Brand continued to push for a family but Perry was not in a place to commit to being a full-time mom. She continued to sacrifice her time and her health for a man that appeared to want to exert a certain measure of control over the young songstress.

I know for a fact that at 7 and 12 years old, my daughters were not impacted by the movie in the same way that I was. I watched a woman in the throes of super stardom, lift herself to the an amazingly high throne in the pop music industry and at the very same time get broken up with; in a text, moments before having to get ready to go onstage.

I watched the movie again this past Friday and I recall her being rushed to the stage while her team was quietly uncomfortable, wondering if the singer would perform. They attempted support and encouragement but it was apparent that they were uncertain as to what exactly was going on and how to react to it.

Katy, faced with the reality that her marriage had crumbled, doubled over sobbing a couple of times on the way to the stage. She was overcome by grief and sadness and as a spectator, having watched her vulnerability unfold and her marriage emplode, it was gut wrenching. You could almost feel the tightness in her chest, the heaviness in heart, I must admit I choked back some tears myself.

As they say in the biz, “the show must go on” and it did.

Katy  was on a platform under the stage, in Brazil I believe, and tech was waiting to rise her up. As she was waiting she wiped away tears, and then spun the candy embellishments that rotated across the chest of her dress, nodded to be lifted up and plastered on the best smile she could manage under the circumstances.

Ready or not, it was time to be Katy Perry the star, Katy with the broken heart would have to wait.

I was so moved by that moment. Her pain wrapped itself around me like a blanket.

To this day, I cannot fathom how Katy was able to will herself to perform that night. I think society is somewhat programmed to believe that stars are exempt from feelings, that somehow money and fame trumps pain and anguish. On the contrary, I cannot imagine enduring that type of all-consuming heartbreak in the public eye.

Strangely, that performance may have been the best one of the tour, possibly of her career. She was able to connect with the audience and her own lyrics in an authentic and emotional way. I am certain the love and energy of the crowd that night and the nights following must have helped  to keep her together when the cards were falling down all around her.

Some tough times followed but in adversity Katy Perry found redemption. She made her mess her message!

When Katy Perry released her album Prism, she said that the title came from her letting the light in. In the midst of a crisis she found her identity and the genuine need for self-love.

For several reasons, I became a bigger fan of Katy Perry after her public despair and the transformation that occurred following that difficult time. I heard an interview subsequently where she said, “What I need is self-love, first and foremost. I think everything follows in such a fantastic way after you have that love for yourself.

We give little pieces of ourselves to the people we love, but when we truly love ourselves there are parts of us that can never be taken away. Our worth, our value and our sense of who we are as a person, independent of our relationships.

You can temporarily chain a heart but you cannot break a soul.

Have you experienced heartbreak? Have you been able to let go of the pain and grow from it? Do you view vulnerability in relationships as a strength or a weakness?

My Michelle-W.I.S.E. Project 2017


Womanhood.

 It means different things to different people and I would not presume to tell you what it should mean to you anymore than I would expect you to define it for me. 

This morning my youngest daughter (she is 12) was getting ready for school. I was getting ready to work a volunteer casino and was hurriedly answering a text from a friend who wanted fast advice. I had asked my daughter if my shirt looked Ok and then realized that I should change to a red shirt “in solidarity” of those participating in a day without women. I said to her “It is International Women’s Day. What does that mean to you?”

She replied, “I am not a woman, I am just a girl.”

“You are never “just” a girl. I replied,    “You are a girl that will become a woman, a great one and I want you to become one a lot sooner than I did. Learn from my  actions but also learn from my mistakes.” 

She and I sat and talked for five minutes about what it meant to be a young woman and the responsibilities that come with being a good friend and how important it is to lift people up and not knock them down and how if she becomes someone that she would want to be friends with she will ultimately attract the right people into her life. 

I felt proud of the conversation that we shared and hopeful that through sharing my wisdom and experiences I will influence her in a positive way.

I wasn’t always a person I would want to be friends with. I am not even certain I felt a great deal of pride in being a woman. I can blame any number of things for this but I know I had good female role models in my family.

 Though I know that at the core I was always a good person my actions did not always portray that. I wasn’t confident enough to have a sence of who I really was and this was apparent not just in the friendships I formed but in my behaviors.

If I had a friend that I admired I would like what she liked and dress like her. If I had a boyfriend I mistakenly believed that I should be everything that he wanted me to be. For much of my young life I fumbled around not really knowing who Michelle was and I am not going to lie, it led to some questionable decision making. 

I forged false connections with peope based on all if the wrong things. Gossip, sharing other peoples secrets, delighting in the misfortune of others. I know it sounds super shitty but it happened and though I am not proud of it I can say with certainty that I know the person I am today and I like her. I am friends with her. 

My Michelle, your Michelle….”me” is someone who loves being a woman. I am so excited for strong women leaders and teachers and strorytellers. When old friends have good news on Facebook I am genuinely happy for them, even the ones I know that are not happy for me. I forgive you, I was you. 

I know that people will look at me with judgement, in fact I know this to be true. Judge away because your judgement day will come and only then will you realize that the judgement that matters the most comes from you. If you can face your own scutiny and be proud of who you are I commend you. 

Social media can be such a wonderfully connecting platform but when used the wrong way it it is a shame jungle. Haters are scholling through picking you apart, disecting your life, sharing their assumptions of you. 

Does any of it matter?

Yes and no. 

For me I have reached a point in womanhood where I am comfortable with who I am. If you judge me that is on you. I blog so I put a lot of my life out there, a certain amount of judgement is expected. I have been real about my struggles as a mom, a woman and a wife. I don’t try to sugar coat things. I am gracious for my life but it is not always easy and definitely not perfect. 

 If you cannot be happy for or show empathy for another person there is a problem with you. It may hurt to find that someone has musjudged or assumed things about you but in the grand scheme of things it does not change who you are. 

The reason it should matter is because as women we are all in this together. We should support, encourage and applaud each other. That is what womanhood means to mean. If you find yourself in a place where you are not showing love, kindness and respect to the women in your life than you haven’t arrived. It is indeed an arrival, we are not born women, we become women. 

Today on International Women’s Day I am proud not just to be a woman but proud of the woman that I am. 

Celebrating being a woman, thanking women past and present who have fought and continue to fight for the rights, freedoms and equality for women does not make one ‘anti-man’. Quite the contrary. A woman who loves herself and all women enough to want the very best for women everywhere has plenty of love and compassion to go around. 

I AM every woman. You are every woman. If we empower other women, together we can accompish amazing things. 

Voices Carry-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

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“Over the moon” by Rob Gonsalves http://www.huckleberryfinart.ca

Whatever funk I was in yesterday has seemed to have subsided. An angry mood erupted in the wee hours of Monday and hung over me like a storm cloud all day long. Today I am back to a better version of myself; a hurricane of joy, kicking Tuesday’s ass like a champ!

I am involved in this project called #100virtues4100days. The virtue that chose me was self discipline. I recall having a slight moment of disappointment. I am not certain what, if any virtue I was hoping for but self discipline chose me and I committed to sitting with this virtue for 100 days.

It is officially day number two and I have to say that it is surprising the way that this virtue is speaking to me.

I shared a quote the other day by Aristotle that says ‘What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.”

I know I am going to rely very heavily on this quote throughout my journey with self discipline. Last year during year one of my W.I.S.E. project I was studying relationships in an effort to improve my most important connections  and one thing that kept emerging for me is that “every action, does not require a reaction” Trust me when I say this little mantra has served me well, especially in my marriage. It does require a great deal of self discipline to be able to take that pause and not overreact to situations. There also has to be a choice as to when action is necessary. There are times where it is OK to be silent and there are others that we absolutely should speak up.

In today’s society putting the virtue of self discipline to task, connecting with it and calling upon it when needed is significant. I am learning valuable lessons and I am seeing now more than ever how my actions or in-action can and will directly influence my children and their choices now and in the future.

The anger I felt yesterday was justified, anger often is. If nobody ever got angry would we ever create positive change? If nobody ever stood up against injustice and pushed and persisted where would we be?  Acknowledging our anger can be productive, we just have to learn to use our anger properly and decide when and if action needs to be taken.

Do not sit with anger, do not put your anger unto others, and do not let anger consume you. Let anger call on you to act appropriately in every situation and move forward.

This morning I contacted my daughter’s school in regards to an incident yesterday where a teacher told her at the Talent Show auditions that they had to have their outfits approved to make sure that they were not “slutty” My daughter is 12 and I take particular offense to the use of the word slutty in reference to any child, especially when it is used to shame. Apparently the school had a problem last year with some inappropriate outfits and I one hundred percent support the school in encouraging all students (not just the girls) to dress suitably. I do not support the reference to “slutty” which in the dictionary reads a woman prostitute; an untidy dirty woman. While the teachers are so concerned with appropriate dress they should also re-think appropriate language.

Mostly I allow my daughter’s to deal with their own issues. I am not a helicopter parent and though I know that I have a huge influence over them, my biggest influence will always be in my actions. They will learn from those. Self discipline is a great teacher in knowing when to take the pause and how to react after taking a pause.

Knowing when to stay, knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to have your say…so much to ponder.

I was out with my husband this weekend and I said to him, while jiggling excitably,

“God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he didn’t want you to shake ’em!”

That is a quote from Dirty Dancing, circa 1987 by Penny. My husband had no idea what I was talking about but rest assured I have a movie quote that fits into every conversation, but in this case, we were each given a brain, hands and a voice. I think we have a responsibility to use them for good.

Besides the self discipline virtue that I am sitting with for the next 98 days I have a couple of W.I.S.E. principles that will help guide my choices this month and feel free to follow along or adopt your own.

Wealth– Wealth is usually measured as having an abundance of valuable possessions but I think to achieve wealth your abundance comes from being grateful and being true to yourself. When you are grateful for what you have you will want for less and therefore you are inviting abundance in. A life abundant in joy and graciousness is a wealthy life.

Idealism-The belief that things can be better and that real change is possible when people care a whole lot!

Sanguine– Approaching situations cheerfully and optimistically. Instead of thinking “what could go wrong?” focus on what could go right.

Endeavor– The realization of achievements through hard work.

Be W.I.S.E. friends.

 

Enemy at the gates-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

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It feels like I have been absent here for awhile and honestly I have.  With the political climate the way that it currently is; coupled with the unfortunate divide it is causing, it has consumed a great deal of my head space, enough that I felt that it best to not write anything that would come across the wrong way. I never wanted this to be a political space, but I have always intended it for a place for me to be honest and open and share my experiences.

The reason I blog, especially with The W.I.S.E. project is that it keeps me accountable to living mindfully, being gracious and taking opportunities to create joy in my life. Whether one person or 50 read a post I am still accountable to myself to practice what I preach.

I did say at the first of the month that the W.I.S.E. principles that I wanted to incorporate were wisdom, integrity, sincerity and empathy. There could not be a better time in our lives to embrace these qualities. In the past several years I have been impacted by the importance of sharing our stories and embracing our wholeness. Not only is there is an acceptance in sharing our stories, there is freedom and community. When we accept who we are, our entire story, not just the good parts but the dark parts as well, we are acknowledging that our stories have shaped us and helped us to grow. We find that all of the sudden that our dark secrets can no longer be used as weapons against us but maybe as a door that invites people to find comfort and connection in our stories and to share their stories as well. There is wisdom in stories and though we may differ immensely there are similarities that unite our hearts and our minds. Though we perceive things differently, there is intelligence and knowledge in stories that cannot be bought. When people share their narratives, wrought with integrity and sincerity both the storyteller and the listener have an opportunity to grow. When we receive stories with an open heart and an open mind, we allow them to touch our souls; we are then able to respond with empathy instead of judgement.

We are who we are, but we are constantly changing and growing. Maturity, experience, incidents and circumstances change. According to quantum biology we experience a 98% cellular rejuvenation each year so we are literally constantly changing. If we open our minds and our hearts to stories, to possibilities and to ideas ‘who we are’ will change. That is growth.

How many times have we said such phrases that start with:

’I would never’ or ‘if that happened to me’, or ‘can you imagine?’

The issue with those statements is that there are some situations that we cannot truthfully predict or imagine until we find ourselves right in the middle of them.  This type of rhetoric lacks four very important things; wisdom, integrity, sincerity and empathy.

I have quoted this saying by the Dalai Lama many times but it could not be more relevant,

 “Love and compassion are necessities,not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

The world is a scary place. The world is a beautiful place. The world is a place of constant change.

Those three phrases have one common denominator; they are all based on perception. I can tell you what to look at but I cannot tell you what to see.

Now more than ever in my lifetime, we are led to believe that there is an enemy at the gates. In that line up as well is fear, bias, judgement and indifference. The best way to face fear and indifference is with love, patience, empathy, sincerity, integrity and wisdom.

An “Us vs. Them” mindset is dangerous. Fear and division does not create positive change.

We are one. Only egos, beliefs and fear separate us.

I just feel that if we focus on promoting love instead of hate and focus on our similarities instead of our differences the world around us would be a better place. We do not have to agree on everything that would be ridiculous and boring. We should however extend more kindness, understanding and respect.

Is empathy the basis for building bridges to connect people, to understanding the motivations and fears of others and gaining a varied perspective? Can practicing empathy allow us to see the world in greater definition not just from our own perspectives but through the perception of others?

I think so.

“The story is a machine for empathy. In contrast to logic or reason, a story is about emotion that gets staged over a sequence of dramatic moments, so you empathize with the characters without really thinking about it too much. It is a really powerful tool for imagining yourself in other people’s situations”.

~ Ira Glass

Going to Carolina-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

Deepanshu Arora -Moraine Lake Banff

It has been so bitter cold here the last couple of days, here is Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and though we are fairly used to the winter cold here in the great white north it has been more than cold. It has been exceptionally way below freezing temperatures all week and the wind chill is so intense that it feels like the cold has icily embraced your bones. It is not very motivating to say the least and hot showers, fuzzy blankets and good books have been my evening reprieve. 

 Today I was listening to James Taylor’s Going to Carolina in my mind and literally trying to get my mind to take me somewhere warmer.

On Sunday I went for a float. I have been floating for over a year now so I am kind of a professional as floating goes. This basically means that I am experienced in the art of doing nothing and laugh all you want but I am pretty damn proud of this fact. No joke, discovering sensory deprivation has been a wonderfully serene addition to my life. I still struggle on a daily basis with trying to fill my brain with way too much stuff. I get excited about something and I want to jam all of this new information into my brain as fast as possible and often I get overwhelmed. I used to be that mom that went to bed at midnight but at 2 am I was still making my grocery lists, planning my schedule around the girl’s activities, calculating bills and making endless to do lists in my head. To those of you that can’t sit on the toilet without reading the back of the shampoo bottle I can relate. We have hardwired ourselves to constantly receive and process information and nowadays with social media our brains are busier than ever. We are excessively over stimulated. We do not know boredom and we certainly do not know what to do with silence. We crave silence yet the moment we get a taste of it we spit it out and sprinkle it with noise to make it palatable, or at least what we perceive to be most familiar.

I started meditating last January and though I do not always practice it daily as I would like to, it taught me how to find the beauty in silence. Silence benefits our well being in countless ways with abundant advantages to our physical and emotional well being. I often do a guided sleep meditation at night or a five minute mindfulness mediation in the middle of my work day. Mediating was a great benefit to me the first time I entered a float tank because though my mind wanted desperately to crowd the
silent space with thought I was quite quickly able to resist. 

The float tank expedites theta waves so it is doing some of the work for you already by taking the stimulation away.

Theta brain waves are the brain state of REM sleep (dreams), hypnosis, lucid dreaming and barely conscious state just before sleeping and after waking.

If you truly want to experience getting away from it all I highly recommend floating. The solution unlike bath water is very dense, in fact approximately five times denser than the Dead Sea. It is mainly Epsom salt, it feels silky smooth  against your skin and you are effortlessly buoyant. You are literally floating in the darkness with no outside disturbances. When you don’t have the pressure of gravity on your body and you are not responding to stimulus (such as email and texts, noise of traffic etc) your blood pressure decreases and your cortisol levels drop (those are your stress hormones). Your mind and your body are experiencing a state of total freedom, you cannot feel the water and you are quite literally in the optimal environment to experience complete relaxation. There is an eventual increase in your endorphins which I am sure you all know is your happy hormones. We all want more of those, more is good!!

When I said I am now a professional floater you all either snickered or rolled your eyes but let me explain my excitement about how skilled I have become at doing nothing. My last float I was able to relax quite quickly. I don’t eat within 2 hours of a float; I may grab an apple if it is in the morning and some water to hydrate but nothing that is going to be hard to digest and no coffee to stimulate my mind. I start by clearing my mind with a short meditation and moving my body around languidly
in the warm water. Within minutes I had drifted off and I was in the middle of a lake in the mountains. The water was neither warm nor cold, I couldn’t feel it at all, as if my body was totally one with it and I couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began. I felt indisputably blissful. Above me the clear sky was the most magnificent shade of dark navy blue littered by an explosion of endless stars and decorated by magical spiraling flares of electric green clasped by hints of pink and deep violet that seemed to erupt from the mountain peaks in a
miraculously enchanting way. It was the esteemed Aurora Borealis in a way that I had never experienced before. I was captivated by the mystic beauty of it and moved almost to the point of tears. The peaks of the mountains surrounded the lake in a protective hug and I felt untroubled and safe. I have no recollection of the amount of time that passed as I lay suspended in virtual reality in that picturesque mountain oasis enjoying the Northen lights. 

It is such a hard thing to put into words, anything I write seems slightly inadequate, but as I sit here thinking about it I am once again overwhelmed by the memory. 

The gentle music that plays as your float time is ending startled me awake and I had that feeling of falling slowly from heaven and when my eyes shot open I  thought I was still in the middle of the lake but all of the sudden I was keenly aware of the darkness. It was unnerving for a second until my mind caught up with my body and I realized where I was. For the remainder of the day I felt weightless, like I was floating through my day without a worry.

I have wanted to recount this experience for awhile but I really didn’t know how in the world I would do it justice without sounding like I was floating on LSD. I was divinely at ease and I was able to experience something in that state
that was as exquisite as it was memorable. I will never forget and though I know that I can never recreate that exact experience I am really excited to know how far my mind will allow me to go in the future. For days after I would think about that wondrous place in the mountains and when I opened up my computer there it was on my home screen; Moraine Lake in Banff, Valley of the Ten Peaks. I am in love. Swoon.

So needless to say if you have ever considered floating, or even if you have never heard of floating, you should. It is the ultimate way to hit the physical and mental reset button and to find the beautiful and powerful healing energy
of silence.

I float at Modern Gravity here in Edmonton and it is a pretty unique place. They have actual float rooms instead of pods so if you are worried about feeling claustrophobic there is no need. The atmosphere is comfortably calming and the rainfall showers are such a nice treat. Floating is a gift that you give yourself that requires zero effort for substantial gain.

Modern Gravity, Edmonton Alberta

There are many things you can do to ease stress and recalibrate your body and mind, Floating is a very good choice. 

Be W.I.S.E. friends.