Anne Lamott teaches, “When you make friends with fear, it can’t rule you.” I am learning this lesson all over again this week.

During this past week, I launched a course my coach and my buddies had been encouraging me to create for months. The idea came up during my business retreat in Nottingham, England at Horspool Retreat.

We were challenging each other to take our contributions to the next level. I heard my dear peeps. I trusted them. But I didn’t trust myself.  I hesitated; I procrastinated; and, I worried. What if I wasn’t good enough?

 I Faced My Fears

I did it. I don’t know if I made friends with my fears, but I definitely came to an agreement with them and I launched a four-week personal growth immersion called, “Gathering at the Table of Joy.” If you opened my e-mails last week, you probably saw some news of this program.

During the first session the participants talked about why they signed up. Then, I taught a breath technique that calms the nervous system and brings us into the much desired “rest and digest” mode.

Basically, the breathe technique involves inhaling into your belly and exhaling (through the nose) for twice as long as the inhale.

You have probably heard that our autonomic nervous system has two branches: the sympathetic nervous system comes into play when we are being chased by a saber tooth tiger or hitting the brakes on our car to avoid a rear-end collision. Our blood flow rushes to our hands and feet as we jump into action.

 I Live in a “Ready for Action” State of Being

I pretty much live in a sympathetic state – always ready for action, even when I’m trying to relax. And if you’re a woman 50 and wiser, you might be in the same state as me!

I’d like to switch over to the parasympathetic branch of my nervous system, which is called “rest and digest.” I’m calm; I’m relaxed; and, plenty of blood has made itself at home in my belly and is helping me digest my food.

 I Do My Own Homework

One of the homework assignments was as follows:

 Mind-Body Digestion

◎ Sit before your plate of food. Look at it and smell it. Express gratitude for this food. Take 10 long, slow breaths emphasizing the exhale to support relaxation.

◎ If you are eating with others, choose to discuss pleasant topics. If you are eating on your own, visualize beautiful outdoor settings and other pleasant sights.

◎ Take at least 20 minutes to eat. Chew your food thoroughly by taking small bites and chewing until your food has lost its texture.

◎ After eating take 10 slow breaths again with emphasis on the exhale to aid digestion and reduce heartburn.

◎Take a slow-paced stroll after eating a large meal. The Italians call it a passagiata.

 

Like the responsible group leader I am, I told everyone I would do my own homework as well.

 Taking my Heart to Lunch

I have known that a mindful lunch break was an area I needed work, but I had no idea how much I had to learn.  I work at home most days, writing these blogs for you (!) and I eat my big meal of the day at lunch.

I know that I should not watch the un-delightful news that’s on TV. So, more often than not, I turn the TV off, but I am eager to read a book I’m enjoying or, yes, check my social media.

I fixed my lunch and sat down to engage with my breath as I describe above. Here are three lessons I learned just from one lunch-time sit-down with this new process.

 1. You don’t realize how revved up you are, until you start to slow it down. I was surprised that my mind did not want to let go – my not-so-wonderful inner voice kept suggesting that I just check my e-mail once. It took everything I had to re-focus on my breath.

 

 

2. I do live in my head most of the time. I felt like Alice in Wonderland saying to myself, “This is getting curiouser and curiouser.” As I kept breathing and tasting my food and looking at the beautiful trees outside, I felt my heart speaking to me. It was soothing me and suggesting that we should get together for lunch more often.

 

 

3.I didn’t want dessert, for, possibly, the first time in my life. Often I spend my entire lunch thinking (yes, in my head) about the delicious square of dark chocolate I will get after finishing my healthy lunch. At this lunch, I was so connecting with my heart and tasting my delicious food and chewing and eating slowly, I looked up and realized that I hadn’t fantasized about dessert and didn’t even want it. (I don’t know about you, but for me that was really, really big.

 

 I Went Back to My Writing a Different Person

When I went back to my computer to continue writing this blog, as a matter of fact, I felt like a different person. I felt fresher, lighter, happier, and most of all, more aware of myself as a whole person with heart and head connected.

If you would like to try out an experience will provide the same results, I offer you a quickie short course that I designed just for this purpose. Here’s the link:

http://annmerle.com/de-stress-head-and-mind/

 

The course is under 12 minutes long and it costs only $15. You’ll need a yogatuneup ball, but a tennis ball will work just as well. Your head and your mind will thank you!

Love and Gratitude,

AnnMerle

 

 

 

 

 

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