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Feelings: real, but not always true…

 

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Kassidy’s first day of camp/daycare!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me and perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve thought about me, but the truth is I think of you all nearly every day. I begin my day motivated to write a blog entry and then by the time Kassidy (now 18 months) goes down for a nap in the afternoon other things suddenly seem more important. But today is the day. We are having quite an intense afternoon thunderstorm here in “sunny” South Florida(for those in California who have never experienced a southeastern summer thunderstorm it includes torrential downpour, flash flooding, thunder so booming my lights rattle and lightening that looks so close I fear we will go up in flames). In other words, it’s a perfect day to write.

In January, I began working at a treatment center treating eating disorders as well as various mental health issues for both adults and adolescents. I lead a variety of groups including yoga, mindfulness, expressive movement & art, process and meal support.

Most of my clients there have attempted suicide or have a loved one who has attempted or died from suicide. 

I recently learned that Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain died as a result of suicide. I don’t know their personal stories, but I do know that, like my clients, they were struggling and hurting so badly that dying felt better than living with emotional pain.

This past year, I too, have experienced a great deal of heartache and emotional pain.  I have felt depressed, anxious, lonely, sad, angry, frustrated, jealous, obsessive, shame, guilt, despair and most of all homesick (for a place that I didn’t fully realize how much of a home it had become for me until I left – Pleasanton, CA).

What I am learning about feelings is that the more I feed them with thoughts, the more overwhelming they get and the longer they last. When I feel guilty, then I worry. When I feel worried, then I rationalize. When I feel overly rational and intellectual, then I get frustrated. When I feel frustrated, then I get anxious. When I get anxious….you get the picture right? When we feed our feelings with thoughts, the feelings snowball and become completely overwhelming. I then find myself stuck in a prison of really challenging & difficult emotions accompanied by harmful thoughts that take me further and further down the rabbit hole of negativity.

I recently learned that an emotion (one that isn’t charged and fueled with thoughts) passes in 90 seconds. 90 seconds?!!

I’ve witnessed this statistic in all its glory with my 18 month old. When she is angry because she is not allowed to hang off of the oven door (I know I’m such a strict mom) and I try to fix her feelings, it only makes matters worse.  But when I take a deep breath, offer gentle soothing and ultimately allow her to feel the anger, it quickly passes.

Of course, we are not toddlers. But let’s face it, when are really upset, don’t we sometimes throw adult-sized temper tantrums? We may use blame, rationalization or dramatization. We may become passive-aggressive, rigid or resentful. And to make matters worse, our sophisticated brain judges what and how we feel, which only leads to feeling guiltier and more ashamed.

I am learning that there are 3 strategies that work really well for me (when I apply them) to help me cope with my emotions.

3 Strategies for Letting the Feeling Pass:

  1. Feelings are real, but not necessarily true. I am often told, “Trust Your Gut.” But the truth is, my gut does not always know what’s best for me. In fact, my gut is often riddled with anxiety and fear. These feelings of anxiety, fear and worry, while very real, are not necessarily true. When I let emotions carry me away and guide me as if a true-north compass, I am often led into the “land of overwhelm”. Instead, I am learning that my feelings, while real, are not my only navigation system.
  2. It’s okay to use distraction, sometimes. Distraction often gets a bad rap and yet the art of distraction can be very helpful for grounding oneself when an emotion is trying to take over. The balancing act, of course, is not allowing the distraction to become a habit, but rather something that helps you ground in the 90 seconds or so that the feeling is trying really hard to sabotage your well-being. I’ve found that reading, listening to audible books and podcasts are incredibly helpful to keep me grounded. When I notice I’m slipping into worry which tends to lead to obsessing, planning and more worry, I really benefit from doing something completely “off topic” from whatever it is I am ruminating on. If it seems extremely really hard to think or do anything else other than focus on your feelings, then that probably means distraction is going to be a really helpful coping skill for you. Again, I’m not saying to use distraction for long periods of time or to allow it to become your only coping skill, but reading a book, watching 20 minutes of tv, or going for a walk will provide you the opportunity to let your emotions pass without an intervention or urgent change (that you will only regret later).
  3. Acceptance, then action. It’s okay that you’re angry, frustrated, excited, ashamed, sad, worried, etc. It is completely normal to experience a variety of emotions throughout the day. When you judge yourself for feeling a particular way, you only keep yourself stuck in a downward spiral. Instead, practice offering yourself an affirmation “It’s okay that I am feeling (x). I am okay even when I feel (x).”  When our only focus becomes accepting how we are feeling, the intensity of the feeling reduces fairly quickly. I have learned that when I experience an urgent need to act, fix, change or manage, it means I am reacting to an uncomfortable feeling by trying to escape, stuff or eliminate it. This knee-jerk reaction usually leaves me back-peddling out of regret, trying to change the change.  At other times, I’m left to clean up the emotional aftermath of my intense need to “do something”, which is usually feeling downright lousy. This is not to say that we never take action. Rather, we respond to our emotions with acceptance and once our more intense emotions have passed, we find ourselves with a clearer mind, a more open heart, a quieter body. It is from this space, that we can truly tap into our deep inner knowing, our body’s wisdom. This wisdom is not loud, it is not urgent, it is not overcome with anxiety or fear. It is also not excited or hyper. It is steady and yet flexible (just like our yoga poses – sthira/steady & sukha/ease).  Dropping into our body’s wisdom is anything but instant gratification. We get here through practicing awareness and acceptance fully & completely, no skipping ahead. Once we have taken the time needed to ride the natural wave of our emotions, coming down from the crest, then and only then can we take action that is satisfying.

I would absolutely love to hear from you and find out how you’re doing! What tools and techniques help you ground while your emotions are taking you on a surfing extravaganza?

If you are struggling with intense, difficult and overwhelming emotions and you’ve been thinking about reaching out for support – PLEASE DO IT NOW!  For crisis line help, Text HOME to 741741 in the US.  SUPPORT IS OUT THERE!

Register Now – BodyWisdom: A Guide to Eating & Living Intuitively

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#BodyGratitude

January is typically a time when the diet industry is louder than ever. Everyone seems to be starting something “new”. But let’s face it – it’s the same old thing that leaves you feeling disappointed, not good enough and exhausted. Let’s take back January and declare it as a time for #BodyGratitude!!

Each day of the challenge, I invite you to post at least 1 word of #BodyGratitude – you can share it on your own page, on my page(https://www.facebook.com/elisamottyoga/) or in the BodyWisdom FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1413931695562440/).

If you haven’t already PLEASE LIKE MY FB PAGE AND JOIN THE BODYWISDOM FB GROUP(links above).

I’m looking forward to seeing your posts!

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My Blog

Eating is Messy

Eating – it’s something we have to do to survive and yet it often becomes so complicated. I remember when I started teaching yoga in the evenings around dinner time. I struggled with “When do I eat? Before yoga and risk feeling too full and uncomfortable in the poses? After yoga when I’m tired and just want to go to sleep?” My clients often struggle with when to eat as their busy daily schedule doesn’t always permit them to eat when they are hungry. When should I eat if I can’t eat when I’m hungry? 

The complexity of food timing often means that we eat when we are, in fact, NOT hungry.

Or worse – we eat for comfort, support, connection, love, healing…

As mindful & intuitive eating practices become more well-known and accepted, I fear the term “emotional eating” has become villainized. Intuitive eating encourages us to honor our hunger with food and honor our feelings without food. These are fantastic guidelines and, when possible, are quite beneficial in breaking a restrict/binge cycle.  Lately, however, I find myself cringing when I hear or read about the faultiness of emotional eating & and the rewards of mindful & intuitive eating. Often the promise is still steeped in the diet mentality. It reads something like this: If you follow this “wellness program”  you will feel better and “may” lose weight (but of course that’s not the goal because we don’t promote weight loss because we are a wellness program). Ah, sneaky sneaky.

The complexity of knowing when & why to eat only became more apparent for me when I had my baby girl, Kassidy (now 11 months!).  She is a strictly breast-fed baby (refused to take a bottle) and she seemed to nurse 24/7 for the first 3 months. The more I reached out to moms in real life, (not the internet) I discovered I wasn’t alone – most newborns nurse nearly constantly. But she can’t possibly be hungry ALL THE TIME?! As a new mom, I was now responsible for not only figuring out if I was hungry and when to eat, but now I had to figure out if my baby was hungry and when to feed her. I soon realized how completely defenseless this baby was and that I held all the power. If I deemed that she couldn’t possibly be hungry because she just ate, I would fight to find other ways to soothe, comfort, love and connect with her.  Sometimes it worked. Sometimes she kept crying for what felt like hours (but was probably 10 minutes) until I nursed her. She was doing the unthinkable, the forbidden – emotionally eating.

My baby spent nearly the first 8 months of her life emotionally eating. Of course, she was receiving necessary calories for growth, but most of the time she wanted the comfort, love, support and connection that accompanied nursing. (I strongly believe bottle fed babies have the same emotional attachment, but I don’t have personal experience). There are certainly “experts” who would argue that after 3 months (or even younger) that a baby should only eat for nutrients, but I think most would agree that a baby needing food for comfort is “normal” and “acceptable”.

I can’t help but wonder then, why is it okay for food to also provide love, soothing, comfort and connection in addition to nutrition when we are babies, but not as we get older? Why is emotional eating getting such a bad rap? The message we get from an early age is that it’s bad to eat for reasons other than hunger. When we “catch” ourselves emotionally eating, we are ashamed so we numb out and typically eat more than we would have to begin with because the guilt is overwhelming.

What if emotional eating could ALSO be mindful and intuitive? What if we didn’t have to choose between being emotional, mindful or intuitive?

GUIDELINES FOR BEING AN EMOTIONAL, MINDFUL & INTUITIVE EATER WITHOUT SHAME & GUILT
1) HONOR YOUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL HUNGER – Sometimes we aren’t physically hungry, but we still want food. Sometimes we are able to recognize that we are bored, so we engage in an activity or we are tired, so we sleep. BUT sometimes even when we aren’t physically hunger, we still really want to eat. If you aren’t physically hungry, but you want to eat, can you stay in the present moment and identify what it is that you are feeling without judgement?
2) ONCE YOU’VE IDENTIFIED WHAT YOU ARE FEELING, STAY HONEST WITH YOURSELF – Perhaps you are able to identify that you feel frustrated and you want to eat pretzels. You know you aren’t physically hungry for pretzels, but you still really want pretzels. Instead of denying yourself pretzels, give yourself full permission to eat the pretzels because you are frustrated. You may even say out loud “I am eating pretzels because I am feeling frustrated” or “I feel frustrated, I want pretzels”. This is so important because you aren’t checking out, numbing out, or using food as a weapon. You are staying present with what you are feeling and being intentional in your choice to eat. Stay connected to the part of you that is needing something. If you are eating brownies because you are sad and need to feel loved – stay connected to the part of you that needs to feel loved and acknowledge it fully.
3) CONTINUE TO OFFER YOURSELF PERMISSION, COMPASSION AND ACCEPTANCE – Remind yourself that eating while NOT hungry is okay. Eating isn’t destructive – denying that you are eating and denying your feelings is destructive.  You deserve love, compassion and acceptance. You have permission to eat whatever you want without fear. Sometimes a bubble bath, a hug, a walk, a call to a friend is exactly what we need when we are experiencing difficult emotions. But the honest truth is sometimes the answer is food. Notice when you give yourself permission to have whatever you want, if it’s easier to stay present with what you are feeling – whatever you are feeling in that moment. Continue to offer yourself compassion and acceptance, and you may find you are free from shame and guilt, thus allowing yourself to avoid a binge/restrict cycle.
Eating is complex. Eating is complicated. Eating is messy. But it is also joyful, pleasurable, fun, soothing, comforting & nourishing for the body and soul. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to eat. Eating isn’t a punishment nor is it punishable. Our relationships to food are emotional – let’s not pretend that they aren’t and then be surprised when we eat for comfort.  You are an emotional being – there will be times when you eat for some reason other than hunger. Practice patience, kindness and acceptance and you will find exactly what you are hungering for physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

PS I am currently offering a free BodyWisdom Coaching Session. Contact me to set up your free session – sessions are done over the phone so you can live anywhere!

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Permission to Rest

“Just doing yoga won’t ever be enough for me”. I remember saying these exact words when I first started to practice yoga regularly my freshman year of college. I liked yoga, I quickly grew to love to yoga, but it was always something that came in tandem with another activity. It was a cool down after a sweaty 30 minutes on the elliptical machine or a warm up before a kick boxing class.  My need to always be moving was powerful. I had tons of energy and spent a lot of time getting rid of it, until I was finally exhausted enough to relax. This ‘don’t stop until you’re asleep’ motto was modeled in my home and stories were often told of my grandmother not sitting down until 11 pm at night when she would finally fall asleep after being on the go all day long.
My relationship with yoga changed when I got sick during my junior year of college. I was tired and weak. I didn’t have the energy that I was used to and couldn’t do all that I wanted to do. At first, I was really annoyed – I wanted to go for a bike ride, hike or get to the gym, but my body wasn’t in agreement with my mind. My body needed to rest. After struggling with this perceived “set back”, I gave myself the space to accept that “just yoga” would have to be enough (for right now anyway). But something shifted within me once I accepted that yoga was enough – I began to crave my yoga practice.  When I was feeling antsy, anxious, busy, sad, angry, overwhelmed, I would get on my mat and the practice would fill me up – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

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Do I still hike, bike, walk and stay active outside of my yoga practice? Of course, but I what I learned about myself during this time was that I used those activities to escape from my body and shut off my mind while yoga brought me in union with my body and helped to quiet my mind without numbing out. Yoga gave me a space to tune in to what I was feeling and sensing so that eventually when I did return to my other activities I could do so with more awareness and steadiness to avoid burnout and fatigue.
“Elisa, I hope you find a way to bottle your energy and sell it one day. You’ll make millions”. This was written by 8th grade English teacher in my yearbook. Short of making millions, yoga has done just that for me – it has allowed me to utilize my energy so that I can be steady, balanced and calm in all of my daily activities. Slowing down is still a challenge for me, but I remind myself every day that I have permission to rest. Stillness and rest – both within my yoga practice and as a part of my day have deepened my connection to BodyWisdom. When I am in tune with BodyWisdom, I move, eat, relate and live more intuitively.
I would love to know how your relationship with yoga as changed over the years. Did you also feel like yoga would never been enough? Maybe you still feel that way? The awesome part about yoga is that the practice itself can adapt to what we are needing (vinyasa for when we have energy to be released versus restorative when we need our energy contained.)
Whether yoga alone is enough for you these days or it’s a complement to other activities, please respond to this email if you’d like access to my next audio yoga class, “Slow and Steady”.
Namaste,
Elisa
PS Interested in trying a BodyWisdom Coaching session? I have slots available for a FREE BodyWisdom Coaching session next next Tuesday and Thursday (Sept 26th and 28th). Please email me by Sunday the 24th to claim your spot. 

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BodyWisdom Coaching

BodyWisdom Coaching

Are you ready to lose weight, feel great and make money doing it? I’ll tell you what I am ready for – to stop being bombarded with these questions and false promises.  It’s hard enough to avoid the pressure of weight loss, but now the promise that being thin makes you happy is coupled with the allure of wealth and independence.  Now it’s not enough to buy into the weight loss industry, but the industry has recruited us to sell their programs and products to friends and family in pursuit of instant health and wealth.  Even with my background in eating disorders and body image, I find myself questioning my body, my career, even my self worth when I see Facebook friends declaring their financial freedom with their morning shake in tow. I think, Oh my! What must others feel when faced with the question, “Don’t you want to change your body and be rich?”
My hunch (and my hope!) is that there are more of you out there who are tired (like me) of the message that you must be thin, beautiful and rich to be happy. I believe there are more of you out there who secretly want to end the war with your body, the war with food and be free from the food prison that rule your life each day.
I don’t have a guarantee, I don’t have a promise, but I do have an avenue that can start you on a path to acceptance.
BodyWisdom Coaching sessions are built on the foundation of Radical Acceptance, allowing space for awareness, compassion and discovery of your innate BodyWisdom or intuition. As my clients learn to trust and accept BodyWisdom, most are able to find a kinder, gentler relationship with their body and food.

Barbara writes of our work together:
“I sometimes eat when not hungry, and occasionally continue long after I am full. It is all good until the moment has passed and regret sets in.  Several months ago, I would really beat myself up for it. Negative voices would fill my head leading to periods of depression, more overeating, and excruciating self-loathing.  Each week when I have my phone call session with Elisa, I am able to speak with her openly and honestly about my week’s issues—food and un-food related, because some how they are all related right?  Elisa helps me find my way to the deepest root of the issue and provides mindfulness, meditative, cognitive solutions, as well as helping me to develop my very own kind, supportive voice in my head. The biggest revelation was when Elisa heard me tell my tale of abusive overeating for the first time, and told me now go home and do nothing.  Just observe how you feel and we will talk more next time.  Elisa showed me how trying to control or have a physical solution for every bad feeling does not need to be the solution.  There is great freedom is doing nothing!  Elisa is helping me to find a healthy relationship with food that is also kind.  This is not a lose weight fast gimmicky program.  This is a how to thrive in your real body in real life program.  Elisa has helped me to see that food is just food and not evil.  I could not ask for a better guide.  I can honestly say that I love myself more today in the exact size I am, then when I had lost many, many pounds of myself only to retain the self-loathing.  I now look at myself with love, empathy, and hope.”

Over the last year, many of my clients have transitioned to phone sessions as they find it is quite convenient not having to leave home or work. More importantly, phone sessions have accelerated many of my clients’ progress! Phone sessions allow me to hear my clients in a unique way as I listen deeply and can challenge their growth and development.
Another perk to phone sessions is that we don’t have to live in the same place! I am now located in South Florida, but you can be located anywhere!

Contact me today (dancingyoga444@yahoo.com or simply reply to this email) to set up a free 20 minute BodyWisdom Consultation.
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Odds Are

“Odds are we gonna be alright, odds are we gonna be alright tonight
Sure things go wrong, but I’ll take my chances
Odds are long, so why not play?”
Barenaked Ladies “Odds Are”

A dear friend recently looked me in the eye and said “It’s okay to go, before you know”. Hearing these words, practically knocked the wind out of me, as it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment – I still need to breathe those words in every day.

I remember being in kindergarten and watching a drowning prevention video before the start of summer that showed the image of someone standing on a cliff over looking the water, about to jump in.  Unknown to the jumper but revealed to the viewer were the dangerous rocks hidden under the surface. That image has always stayed with me. I’m a “look before you leap” kind of girl – and I tend to look again and again and again until I’ve driven myself and everyone around me crazy.  Even when I’ve made sure there are no rocks below the surface, I doubt myself and become too afraid to jump at all.

After years of being asked “Are you staying in California?”, “Are you moving back to Florida?”, to which we  often replied “We don’t know!”, we’ve taken a HUGE leap of faith and are making peace with going before we know.

We have decided to move our family of three to Florida, where Kassidy, now six months, can be closer to her grandparents and cousins.

When we made the decision to go, nothing seemed to make sense – so much was unknown and my world felt completely upside down. In a very short amount of time, we found out that we were pre-approved to buy a house in Florida and sent my parents on a house hunt, not expecting to actually find something we loved enough to buy “sight unseen”. Well, the second home my parents viewed was “the house to beat”. After a virtual tour of the home, we took our biggest leap yet and put an offer in on the house without ever stepping foot in it ourselves. Less than 24 hours later, our offer was accepted and we are now on our way to becoming homeowners in Florida. Go before you know? YUP!

I’m not advising diving into dangerous waters without proper evaluation first. After all, we did our homework on the type of house we wanted and the location we wanted to be in, but knowing when the research is completed, the information gathered, it’s okay to take the leap, even if it doesn’t feel totally safe – sometimes it just needs to be safe enough to test the waters, then dive in!

Odds are we gonna be alright!

Living and teaching yoga for the past 12 years in three different states, never have I encountered such an amazing community as Pleasanton. My heart is filled to the brim just thinking of all the dedicated, passionate and kind students and teachers who have become my dearest friends. These last 7 years, Pleasanton has been our home. The gratitude I have for this community is simply overwhelming. My personal and professional life has truly been changed forever knowing each and everyone one of you.

Much love and gratitude,

Elisa

P.S  I am continuing my BodyWisdom Coaching business in Florida and would love to work with you over the phone/skype (the beauty of technology is that we can be connected from anywhere!) Let’s get started today with a coaching session. Check out http://www.elisamott.com for more info. or reply to this email to set up a session!