Creating A Calm World, Together

“Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it's about creating an emotional clearing to allow ourselves to feel, think, dream and question.” - Brené Brown

Anxiety and stress have become the status quo for so many of us. When I realized that this had happened to me, I saw that I needed to learn how to heal anxiety within myself, and then I became passionate about helping heal anxiety in the world. We all need true calmness and stillness, both for our own sakes and for the sake of this planet. 

We need to pause and find the clarity of our hearts underneath the storm of our fears. When we turn down the fearful mental chatter of anxiety, then presence arises naturally - and from here, on the shore of stillness, we discover an ocean of creativity and possibility. Once you're calm, you can hear your heart beat, and your breath. You feel present and connected. You create a sacred moment, enabling yourself to choose from an openhearted space rather than from a contracted, limiting place. You're able to make wise decisions. 

This clarity is essential for any transformational process in our personal lives, and leads to a better future of our planet. As we heal individually, the Earth heals with us. 

Calmness isn't some luxury we might be able to achieve in a silent retreat. It’s accessible every moment in our lives if we hold it as an intention to seek and cultivate it. As this practice deepens, it becomes possible to calmly respond to situations that seem empirically stressful. Calm, wise responses, rather than stressful reactions, help transform our lives and the world for the better. 

So take a few deep breaths with me, and let's do this, together...

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

The Four Big Triggers of Work Stress

Why is it that, as women in the workplace, our fears show up more intensely at work than in other parts of our lives?  I believe this happens because our work causes us to relate with four big issues that can be deeply triggering if we were wounded in these areas. Judging from my personal experience with myself, and listening to the stories of my friends and clients, it’s quite common for women to have been wounded in these areas.

Fortunately, embodied inquiry – using movement, drawing, and mindful reflection – offers profound insight and healing of these issues, which leads to freedom from anxiety in the workplace.

The four triggers involve one’s relationship with:

  • Responsibility. How does the feeling of responsibility feel on your shoulders? Do you like having responsibility? Or are you more comfortable in a supporting role? What are some of your beliefs about yourself in a leadership role? When did you first form these thoughts? What happened in the past that might inform how you perceive yourself today as a leader?
  • Authority. What was your experience as a child with authority figures, such as your parents, teachers, or caretakers? Did you trust them? Did you feel save with them in general? Did they treat you as an equal, or do you remember situations of dysfunction, of them overpowering you? How do you feel about asking for support at work?
  • Learning. Was learning fun for you in the past? What happened at home or school if you made a mistake, or if you didn’t know the right answer or have the right response to a situation? What where the consequences? What was the energy around “learning”?
  • The Unknown. What happens in your body if you face situations you didn’t expect and you don’t know how to respond? Do you get tense? Is it scary for you to not know? Do you like to improvise or are you more of a perfectionista, always prepared with a Plan A, B, and C to Z? Do you trust your ability to respond to life’s unpredictable turns?

Here’s an example how my relationship with learning was affected by wounding I received as a child:

During homework time with my mom, I was habitually scared. My mom always got very angry if I didn’t know the right answer. So as a little girl, I formed the following belief: If I don’t know something, people will get angry with me and I won’t be safe. Not knowing is dangerous. Therefore, I’d better make sure I know everything. And because I was a smart little girl, I knew I couldn’t possibly know everything. So anxiety and fear became my constant companion. I started to pretend to know, even when I didn’t, which over time made me feel like a fraud, causing even more anxiety.

A negative feedback loop was created: The way I was attempting to address my anxiety was creating more anxiety.

The good news is, once we discover this chain of unconscious assumptions - also called negative emotional learnings - we can free ourselves from them by actually “deleting” these unwanted behaviors and patterns. Yes, that’s right. We can delete them, truly and forever. I first heard about this groundbreaking and seemingly magic process from Bruce Ecker, Coherence Therapist and Author of Unlocking the Emotional Brain (one of my all time favorite books!) - and had to study everything about it ever since. Here’s what he says:

“We now know that the brain has a built-in process of profound unlearning through a type of neuroplasticity called memory reconsolidation, that can actually delete a specific, unwanted learned response from memory. As a result of this unlearning and deletion process, the powerful grip of an existing emotional reaction disappears permanently.”

As soon as I found out about the therapeutic reconsolidation process I started to integrate this effective therapy rooted in the science of the mind in my own expressive arts approach with amazing results, including my own deep and lasting transformation (which you can read about in my free resource guide). And now, I’m touched and super thrilled again and again when my clients get to experience their personal liberation!

So, the important question is: How is your past affecting your life now? Do any of those questions above touch a vulnerable place in you? Maybe some childhood memories resurface, asking for attention and integration...

If you want support in going deeper, set up a time to chat with me. I’d be honored to work with you and guide you into your peace and happiness at work, free from worry and fear!

Questions? Please don't hesitate to email me at stephanie@mythinmotion.com.

I wish you peace and happiness,

Stephanie

How do you work with anxiety?

This is a common question I get, so I’d like to address it here in case you’re curious about the way I’d be working with you on your anxiety.

As a somatic teacher, I see anxiety as “stuck” energy in the body that wants to express and restore itself to balance again. It’s the body’s way of telling us that there's stored energy around particular issues or experiences that limit our range of thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

Anxiety resides in both the mind and the actual structure of the body. In my work, I take this interrelatedness between your emotions, thoughts, and physical health into account. Together, we engage your moving, expressive body to transform what's emotionally embedded on a physical level. And we connect with your mind, transforming thinking into thoughtful attention. We training your mind to witness and form new thoughts, claiming new choices that reflect your maturing mind.

In order to get “unstuck” or to release energy, with my guidance, you unwind stored tension and allow it to express itself in safe and gentle ways. We explore in movement, drawing, and embodied inquiry what your body-mind wants to tell you so that you can heal.

Through body-mind awareness and creative expression, based on the Tamalpa Life/Art Process®, we gently engage with your whole self, and move from stuck to unstuck as we connect with the body’s innate ability to heal. 

Your body is speaking to you loud and clear all the time. To “hear” what it’s saying, all you have to do is listen. I’d be honored to support you in this “listening-dance" to healing. If you’re ready to pay attention to the messages of your body, apply for a complimentary "Calm Body - Calm Mind" session with me.

And if you think you're not ready,  if this sounds all a bit scary and strange to you, but in your heart it makes sense, then I encourage you to stretch and give it a try. I know exactly how you feel. I've been there myself. I was crazy-scared thinking about moving, drawing, and expressing myself... and somehow because of this very fear, I knew I had to do it.

It's not by running away from our fears, but by facing them that we heal.  Or how Nelson Mandela put it so wonderfully, "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." I look forward to meeting you.

Wishing you peace and happiness,

Stephanie

The Courage to Create

Today I read a great and inspiring post by Elisabeth Gilbert about the Drama Triangle, which is describing psychological roles we can play when acting out habitual, dysfunctional relationships. This wasn’t a new concept to me, but when reading her post, I got particularly curious how it’s all related to anxiety and how we can step out of this “cycle of doom,” finally address our patterns, and live in passion based ways. I followed her advice and checked out David Emerald’s website and his Empowerment Dynamic. And oh yeah, I really dig it. 

The shift from victim to creator, from rescuer to coach, and from persecutor to challenger has been one of my best instant epiphanies in a while - instant understanding, hope, and relief. There is a clear path out of the hot mess!

Of course, we all need support, patience, and courage to change old patterns, but the Empowerment Dynamic shows in simple elegance where to head. It’s awesome. 

I also feel encouraged in the ways I’m working with my clients. Where there is victimhood, we need and can CREATE new ways of relating with our own fears, with other, and the world. One step at a time. 

The single most important turning point in my life happened when I started to truly trust in my power to create positive change. Recognizing that I have a choice. That I can seek out support. And that my inherent creativity and body wisdom are reliable guides on this journey (you can read more about my story and tools to get you started in my free guidebook)

There is always a way out of victimhood (which was definitely the place I was stuck in - feeling helplessly tied to the haunting waves of my own fears, waiting to be saved by something or someone). The requirement is being willing to embody creator energy.

For me, Somatics and the Expressive Arts are one the most empowering methods out there on this brave adventure. In movement explorations, we reclaim our power, we dance it, give it a voice, draw it, and have dialogues with it. With each activity, we deepen our relationship with it, with each dance we become more powerful, aware, creative, daring… until being a powerful creator isn’t a concept anymore. It’s a practice.

As I write this, I’m feeling very grateful for all my wonderful teachers at the Tamalpa Institute, and for teachers like Elisabeth Gilbert who share golden nuggets of wisdom again and again…

Here’s to all the lovely mentors, supporting us becoming saner, stronger and happier! And to all of you who are daring to create positive changes in your lives!

Shine on,

Stephanie

How to Stop Anxiety?

I really get it. Anxiety is a very nasty feeling to be stuck in. It just seems to be this constant companion, creeping underneath your skin into your belly, tying knots and making you loosing you center, any sense of direction, shortening your breath and pumping your heart beat up to racing... phew.

That's why a lot of people ask me: How can I stop anxiety right now? 

There's a lot you can do to get freedom from anxiety. For a quick relief in the moment this one helps (and it might be the last thing you had in mind): Move closer to your anxiety. Connect with your body, with your sensations, with your physical experience. Stay with it. Stop running away from it. Breathe. Get present.

Breath is the fast track to the present moment, and it's really only in the presence where you can find peace. It's not in the future, it's not when you finally are safe, in control of things or when you have sorted it all out, some distant time in the future. It's simply not.

I know, because I've been there myself. I used to think: Once I am better in what I am doing at work, once I am in control of how things unfold, once I know how to do everything perfectly, once ... then I will find peace. My running mind was exhausting me.

I came to learn that nothing is to be found in the future nor outside of my own body. It's all here right now. Peace is within me even in the midst of anxiety, I just have to connect with it. I need to create time to be curious about my breath, my sensation, my movements, and this mindful presence guides me to calmness and relaxation NOW.

If you'd like to get a quick jumpstart into a new connection with your body, one of calmness, well-being and joy, check out my free audio gift here. It's a movement meditation, where I'll guide you through a peaceful and simple practice that'll give you some relief from your tension and anxiety.

I am right there with you, breathing into peace.

Love, Stephanie

 

 

The Kickass Cure for Perfectionism

Blog_Image4.jpg

Work-related anxiety - the moments when your fear is running the show at your workplace rather than your actual mature self - is often caused by imagining that we can’t handle situations perfectly, that we’ll make a mistake, and that therefore, we won’t survive. Yes, that’s how far our mind can travel, if we let it.

So this thinking pattern - known as the fear of failure, the fear of not being good enough - needs some kickass cure. And the best cure I’ve found is a creative power boost. Nothing will boost your confidence, trust, calm and relaxation more than being immersed in your creativity.

Exploring your creativity - through movement, drawing, writing, or however it flows through you – gives you an opportunity to get over the No. 1 stressor in relationship to your work: The need to be perfect. If you always need to be perfect, you’ll always feel inadequate, anxious about failure, and never good enough. That standard is wholly unattainable and exhausting. Instead, embrace your imperfections and allow yourself to make mistakes, which everyone does. You will too. And that’s ok. Actually, it might be just “perfect.” Your mistakes might teach and reveal to you exactly what you need to learn.

 A mistake in the creative process can look like this: A spill on paper that ends up being the “perfect” pattern you actually highly enjoy (or you don’t, so you just toss the paper and start over anew). Or it could look like a stumble in your dance that slows you down and makes you realize how much you enjoy moving with less speed. This could be just what you needed. The point is: You won’t die from it. But you can learn from it. And it might lead you into new terrains you wouldn’t have explored otherwise.

Plus, you learn that the unknown is not so scary after all, that you have resources to respond, that you can let go of perfectionism, control and worry. You’re strengthening some “forgotten muscles” - Your ability to be spontaneous, to focus on what’s happening in the moment, to dare new things and take risks. You’ll discover that things you’d imaged you were incapable of become your dearest passion.

I love to witness this in my clients. For example, in the beginning, when they’re facing the fear of creating their first drawing (often since high school). When they’re taking the risk only to discover the joy of applying color onto paper, totally immersed in the unknown. Then smiling proudly in the end about this meaningful victory. Now anything seems possible. On paper and at work. And they can’t wait to draw the next painting. To dance the next “I stumbled to my resource” dance.

I cheer you on, wake up your creativity and you’ll awaken your confidence at work with it.

Love, 

Stephanie

 

Come as you are: Express and stress less

Does this question ever come to your mind: Gosh, maybe I'm just not creative at all? And if so, how can I sign up for a class, where I'm going to move and draw and - even worst - write poetry? Well, welcome in the club of the majority of people I’m working with. You're in good company, and don't worry from here on, please. 

I'd like to share with you the phone call I did before I signed up for my first creativity course:

"Ah yes, hello this is Stephanie. I'm really loving the work you offer, and I think it's exactly what I need. I'm stressed out a lot, feel often stuck in my mind and I imagine to move, draw and dance will support me in being more grounded, relaxed and happy. But you know, I'm not a dancer or artist in any way. In fact I never drew again since I left high school. I have no talent whatsoever, ... so I want to check in with you, if you still can work with me...."

I was almost 100% sure the facilitator would say: "Sorry girl, you really need to come with some kind of talent in order to be part of this magic." Well, as some you know already, I studied expressive arts and now facilitate workshops and one on one session where creativity is at the core of the process. So I somehow made it into the class. :) Well here’s what she said, and it is the same I'm saying to you now: It's not about your talent or skill-set. 

It’s enough when you show up just the way you are. It's plenty and it's beautiful. The work is not about creating a dance or a drawing to impress anyone. It's to express what is alive in you. 

It's not about the outcome or product, it's about the process and how you connect with your creations through your sensitivity and awareness.

Yes. It's pretty radical and different from what you get taught out there in the world, where it is about competing, achieving, performing leaving us exhausted and even sometimes pretending we are someone we are not. No. In my groups and classes your are beautiful and good enough just the way you are. So is your dance and artwork. (Do you feel how your body relaxes when reading these lines? Yes, this is medicine for our stressed bodies: to find a place where we are good enough just the way we are!)

We movement and expressive art teachers call this approach: "Low-skill, high-sensitivity" - meaning your sensual awareness and openness to the process is what counts. But “watch out”, I have seen it every time, that once we reconnect and engage with the arts, we find ourselves being very proud of the dances, paintings, or poems we created, feeling very happy caused by this reawakened knowing alive in our bodies singing out loud: I am a creative being! 

Let's all sing along ...

You are creative, trust the process!

Love, Stephanie

Signs of Anxiety & A Helpful Exercise

How do you know when you're experiencing anxiety? This might be an obvious one for some of you, but I actually meet a lot of people who say: "I am doing just fine. Well, kind of... ok, yes there's a lot of stress in my life, and sometimes I'm feeling fearful and tense, especially at work. But really, I don't think there's much I can do about it. And anyway, isn't that the way everyone feels?"

I really appreciate the innocence and vulnerability I feel in their words. If they are open for a dialogue I ask them some more questions about their lives. It doesn't take long until they open up and realize that their level of stress is actually overwhelming, that nervousness might not be the state one needs to be in all the time, and that the body is not just some distant  "thing" that has to endure any stress-level at work or the stress-level generated by our own running minds.

What comes to my mind right now is the boiling frog story.  Just like the frog in the water we all slowly and over time adjust to what author Brené Brown (I love her!) calls "anxiety as a lifestyle," not perceiving the pain that goes along with it - the pain of living an exhausted, unhealthy and unhappy life. So let me list some pretty strong indicators that your body is overly agitated and you are living (unnecessarily) with too much anxiety in your life. 

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 6.21.43 PM.png

Physical signs: Shallow and rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, lightheaded, dizzy, tight chest, abdominal discomfort and pain (often a pit in the stomach, cramping), muscle tension and sleep problems.

Emotional signs: Sudden periods of fear, feeling restless, overwhelmed, anxious, insecure, agitated, nervous, worried, not present, off-center.

Mental signs (thought patterns): I am worried that something bad will happen, I am not safe and secure in this world. I am not good enough, I need to be perfect, someone else can do this job better than me. I am not worthy. I want to hide... And all other kind of negative self-talk. 

The good news is that there is a way to peace, calmness and freedom from the mental chatter that is not serving us at all. I wish it would be an easy "how to overcome anxiety in three simple steps" process, but it takes a certain level of commitment to change oneself, to break old patterns, to create a life you deserve, one where you fully rest in your body and mind, happy and in love with what is. Having said this, I do want to share one of my favorite activities with you, which is powerful and part of my 90 days program "Freedom From Anxiety." In order to fully enjoy and benefit from this practice, create some time for yourself and find a place in your room where you're be able to move freely. 

Now close your eyes and recall a moment when you felt especially safe and peaceful. Maybe it was a moment in nature. Or with your close family or friends. Slowly let this memory move your body. Let that experience fill your body again. Open to the sense of safety and peace. Touch your belly or heart, if that feels good to you. Move in a way that  you enjoy and create your "I am safe and peaceful" dance. In the end, come to stillness and listen to the echo of your dance. What is alive in you now? If your body could speak what would it say now? Silently whisper this sentence to you.

I invite my clients to write about their experience in their journal or to make a drawing inspired by their dance. It's always a very nourishing and magical experience for them. I hope you'll try it out for yourself. 

If you prefer to be guided as you might just start to rediscover dance and movement for you, check out my free audio gift for you here. It's a guided movement mediation to relax your mind and rejuvenate your body.  

I'm very happy to share my resources with you and would love to hear about your experience!  

Love, Stephanie