Reduce Stress & Anxiety with Sound Therapy

Sound TherapyTibetan singing bowls and Native American flutes in the hands of a professional musician make for the most relaxing way imaginable to spend an afternoon.  As my body relaxed, my mind and spirit followed easily.  I found that even hours after my sound therapy session with Sonic Yogi Jonathan Adams, I felt calm, at ease, and completely and totally relaxed – almost “floppy” in my body.  Sound therapy is so freeing, and it’s so easy to experience because all one needs to do, is lie back, get still, and stay open to receive.

I had to opportunity to interview Jonathan about his own experience with severe stress, anxiety, and depression, and how he discovered sound therapy as a tool… and is now using it in his own practice to help serve others.  Following is a transcript from that interview, including links to online resources that can help YOU reduce stress in your life – right now.

Vicy:  I’m here this evening with Jonathan Adams, who is a professional musician and travels all over the country playing music.  We are talking to him tonight for this health and wellness series because Jonathan’s Alter Ego, I guess we could call it, is Sonic Yogi.  I met him through his sister, who is rowing instructor at Greenville indoor Rowing, and I think that Jonathan’s story and his talent are amazing.  I got to experience some things just this past weekend that helped me understand a little more about what he does and I wanted to share that with all of you. So Jonathan can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what your background is and your personal story that led you to sound therapy?

Reduce stress & anxietySonic Yogi:  Sure well as you mentioned I’m not a musician and I do that for my living and I play guitar in the group that I play with and I’ve been doing that for fifteen years or so I guess now. And so I’ve been involved in music for a long time. But in 2011, I had an experience with really intense anxiety and I had had experiences before like this with panic attacks and mild anxieties here and there. But this experience was sort of an overwhelming sort of all-encompassing experience. And it’s sort of difficult to describe, but to get through it was actually a wonderful thing and so I feel that I learned a lot about my mind and my body and how they work together and how that even sort of influences my spirit. And how I learned to kind of basically help myself. I learned to stay balanced and I learned to relax. And through that process I also discovered sound therapy, which was cool for me as a musician, and I discovered that sound itself can actually help us relax and help us better physiologically relax and also mentally relax.  So I’ve been exploring that path for the last several years since then and using it for myself and as I’ve talked about this experience and in our concerts as I’m traveling around, I’ve also realized that, you know, this experience of anxiety and stress and depression, these kind of things are not isolated at all but it seems as I travel that I’m finding that there are a lot of people that are affected by this.  And so also I have been enjoying the opportunity to hear the music that I make and then also you know work with people one on one.

Vicy:  Absolutely!  So I would definitely concur that the experience of stress and anxiety is widespread. I’m not sure that it’s more pervasive than it’s ever been but maybe we’re just more willing to admit it. I know that among my clients, both one on one coaching clients as well as business clients, that learning how to manage stress in ways that are doable and practices that can bring you to a place of calm on a regular basis is something needed regularly.  That’s a huge aspect of transformational life coaching in general… That it’s [controlling stress & anxiety] really crucial to do more than just survive. So what do you think has helped you Jonathan?

Sonic Yogi: Well that’s a good question. I think I have learned a lot from a lot of different areas. I was already doing yoga before this experience and then I started meditating more after the experience and then doing sound therapy and I’ve really searched for the common links between all of those things.  Because I know this, like for instance, after a yoga practice or session I would kind of have this feeling of deep relaxation and almost euphoria and you know in talking to other people, I learned that they had similar experiences…  so it kind of came to down that they, you know, they’re high [feeling] after yoga or meditation… I’ve gotten to know links from meditation and sound therapy and these things and so I feel the common link between all of those things was just helping me to relax and let go of the stresses.  I’ve realized that the stresses weren’t only in my mind but they were also in my body and my body was reacting to the perceptions of my mind and so I kind of had to work on it from both angles. Both my mind and my body and so I had to learn to relax my body at the same time I had to learn to change my perception and change my behavior patterns and change my physical responses to those patterns so you know… That’s easy to say you know right here and right now!  It actually took me quite a while to learn all of these things and it was, you know, little lessons here, little lessons there that kind of helped me to come to a place of more balance and over time I have learned more about my own personal inner world and how that works with my body. If I find myself sort of burning the candle at both ends or getting stressed out mentally at something then I can feel that stress building up and at least now I have the awareness to break that cycle before it turns into full blown stress or anxiety.

Helps with depressionVicy: So I think you said a key word there that I know is the word that I use with myself a lot and I also use it with clients and that is creating an inner awareness: recognizing what your responses are to stress right now, then getting good at identifying them early so that you can kind of put up a road block to that so it doesn’t go any farther. And instead you start moving back in the other direction toward feeling relaxed and feeling at peace and feeling calm in your body and in your state of being.

Can you sort of explain to people what sound therapy is or at least what it is in how you interpret it and how you use it?

Sonic Yogi: Sure.

Well I see sound therapy has really kind of intense meditation. It’s out there for you with Tibetan bowls, which look like bowls and may sound like bells and they have a lot of overtones to them and so what I ended up doing when I’m doing this type of therapy is putting the bulls around the person and they’re all sort of tuned in a similar scale and so when I play these bowls it really just creates a wash of sound that’s very soothing.  I’ve discovered it actually interacts with our own brain waves and so our brain waves create frequency waves and these frequency waves are measured in Hertz. And so sound waves, which I use all the time as a musician, are also measured in Hertz.  So when I first learned about this, I wondered if there were some kind of interaction between the two. I later learned that sound waves can in fact have some effect on our brain waves and so on.

Yeah and so you know I play a certain sound waves or oscillations that can affect the brain waves and help a person come down into a lower state of brain waves and sort of relax our brain waves.  Also our heart and breathing are all connected and so relaxing the brain wave patterns helps us to release stress in our entire nervous system and so that’s one aspect of it. The other aspect is that you know a lot of time the thinking mind is engaged throughout the day and so that’s just what I call it is to think in the mind and that’s the part of us always going in that mental image. It’s kind of go along to get along, and I kind of think of that as being more of a left brain right and our left brain sort of focuses on these patterns and you know we’re always looking out for our own survival so it’s in our best interest to notice these patterns… You know, notice that we need to live and notice that we need to avoid hot water or whatever it is. So we noticed these patterns. There’s another side of our brain – right brain – which kind of takes in more of the whole picture and kind of disengages from that constant pattern calculation.  Calculating those patterns all the time I think can actually lead to stress especially if it’s unnecessary and it’s just out there. [Sound therapy works] Because the sounds are kind of random and flowing. There’s not really a pattern to them and so it’s relaxing to let go of the patterns in my opinion, to move a person into that right brain space much more quickly. Whereas with music in general we’re hearing the patterns and we hear the chord progressions in the scales and they can all be very beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with that but with sound therapy itself it’s kind of bypassing that whole part of the brain. So I kind of think that those two things are keys to how it works. So number one it’s just altering the brain waves and then number two it’s kind of getting outside of that thinking mind and getting it outside of those patterns to just experience the present moment.

Vicy:  Yes. So that last line [you said] might be the key. You’ve mentioned the brain wave patterns, which is something that I am very familiar with, and we use a lot of different  techniques to help people actively move from some high beta state, which is essentially a panic attack when you’re in a very high frequency beta and then start bringing that down and learning to induce alpha state and even theta state with a lot of experience and I notice that last weekend when you were doing the sound therapy that it was very obvious to me that I was very deep in alpha state because I was very aware of what was happening but at the same time had no real interaction with it. And it’s interesting for me hearing your theory on sort of bypassing most of the left brain because one of the things that that really resonated with me was my awareness of my internal state of being which neuroscience calls “interoception.”  And it was really, REALLY acute, not only during the experience but also afterwards for several hours. I was very super aware of the internal workings of my body like even once I was sort of back. Functioning in the world and driving my car and going to the grocery store and that kind of thing. And so now that you’re you’ve told me this other part of your theory, I think that that makes a lot of sense because the right brain one of its jobs is to give us sort of the gestalt view of ourselves and give us really deep access to the energy and information flow from our bodies into our minds. So you know into our brains so… Thank you for sharing that.

Sonic Yogi: That was sort of new to me in talking to you. I have to do some thinking on that.

I’ve noticed that myself. You know I think that I’m being more aware of that…I think just the way the world works and the way we were educated and you know the job we might do better and it’s, well, outside of us.  So I always look out for information outside, and that’s where our work happens, but as a result of this experience [dealing with stress and discovering sound therapy] I just echo what you said which is that I can go inwards and kind of internal sort of monitoring of my systems and kind of think about how I feel and learn to really react or not, and learn to just be aware of those things in real time.

Life Coaching for the spiritVicy:  So it helps you stay aware of what’s actually going on INSIDE of you, but it also helps you stay in the moment which is really important. Jonathan I would love to talk to you more so maybe we can do this again and have time to share some of the sounds of sound therapy at the end?   What you do is awesome and really it’s fascinating and it’s something that’s really accessible, really easy, to help people get still… and I think that’s one of the things I know I get a lot of resistance from with my clients when we kind of get to a point in coaching where they recognize they need to do something to get still and have some being time not just doing time. All of the time and the sound seemed to make it a little more approachable I think for a lot of people. So if someone was interested in what you do, how might they find you?

Sonic Yogi:  Sure. Well I started a website called sonicyogi.com and samples are there.  I created downloads for users and they are actually free. People can just go there and listen, stream the music there or download it and then I also have a list out to a blog where I’ve sort of been exploring some of these ideas that we’ve talked about for myself, and anybody interested in reading can check that out.  I live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and I’m also doing individual sound therapy here in my home and in Decatur, Georgia at a wellness and Healing Arts Center.

Vicy: Fantastic. So again, you can learn more about Jonathan Adams and sound therapy at his website sonicyogi.com.  You can also see him in person in Lawrenceville or Decatur, Georgia.  Thank you so much for taking your time to talk with us Jonathan. I really appreciate it.

Note:  photos in this post were taken during a Sound Healing session at Greenville Indoor Rowing by Laura Caylor.  Thank you Laura!

Becoming Whole

cropped-BuddhaOfCompassionMandala10-2013_960w-300x78
“Let the flow manifest where it will, not where we will it.” – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

“Love is my religion.”  – Ziggy Marley

By Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA, BCC

It’s a gorgeous day and I am grateful for being here with the opportunity, time, space, wherewithal, and skills to write & share something open about my experience.  It is my dream to get all this tumbling experience and introspection out of my head so that my stories and studies can better serve others.  My work has shown me how much our stories impact all of us and the world around us.

My experiences in this lifetime so far have yielded a full range and often paradoxical and mind-boggling series of emotions and impressions.  In my mind there exists an unfolding tapestry of moments and memories that contain everything, sometimes all at once.  Irreverently reverent.  Dishonestly true.  Fantastically real.  Unbelievably realistic.  Miniscule and infinite in scope.  Wide open and withdrawn.  Overwhelmingly scattered and targeted like a laser beam. Full of conflicted conviction.  Hysterically funny sadness.  Loving hatred and hateful love.  Optimistic hopelessness; joyous moments full of grief and despair.  Gaining wisdom through loss after loss.  Grasping tightly to learn to let go…

And the more stories I hear from others, the more deeply I understand we all experience this odd dichotomy of seemingly oppositional experiences, often simultaneously.  The more I stay fully present with clients, students, friends, and family, the more I understand that nothing is exclusive or unconditionally independent.  There is no single singularity of experiences that stands alone, isolated, outside the totality of all-that-is in our conscious experiences as human beings.  We can truly laugh and feel joy in times of dark despair.  We can feel hatred towards people we love deeply.

I’ve “known” this all my life through a deeply resonant feeling I first recall feeling when I was five years old and outside running through the woods.  I studied it and questioned it intellectually for years, throwing my mind, body, spirit, into combing through philosophies from cultures, times, masters, and academics around the world – 21st century and backwards to the beginning of our recorded histories of thought.

Today, though, I have returned to the deep resonance of knowing from childhood.  A knowing in my body – in my consciousness itself – in my spirit of the interconnectedness of all people-places-things-ideas-philosophies-understanding…being itself.

Glass ArtOur feelings and experiences are all valid, all ours alone, and universal.
Our ideas are singular and expansive.
Our creations reflect all that’s come before, as a whole.
We exist as part of all else that has ever or will ever or does exist.
Being itself is a continuum – expansive as the universe itself.
Consciousness is a gift!

It is within this knowing that I perceive my own rightness in the world.  And by rightness I mean proper, integral, complete-ness,  not at all my “rightness” (or righteousness) as opposed to wrongness.

Right action:  My right actions are actions that revolve around using my inherent gifts.  Teaching, coaching, questioning, facilitating, creating, growing self and others.

Right motivation:  I am motivated by the need and, indeed, the calling to serve others and facilitate conscious growth, adaptation, and change.

Right livelihood:  Coaching and consulting and teaching are my right livelihood. Writing, speaking, collaborating, listening, learning, and creating are integral pieces to this livelihood whole.

Right intention:  I intend to heal myself and others.  I intend to generate love, kindness, and compassion as a path towards healing & health – towards wholeness.  Healthy wholeness is created by resonating the frequencies of love, kindness, compassion, and gratitude.

Right speech:  To the best of my ability, which is better and better as I continually practice mindfulness, I intend to speak with kindness and passion, with loving intent.  I recognize I use language that is sometimes calming and beautiful, and sometimes raucous and uncouth.  My speech is born of emotion and the goal is that what I speak, reverent or irreverent, comes from a heart full of love, not a soul full of hate.  Sometimes, love says, “I love you.”  Sometimes, love says, “F**K YOU.”  When it comes from love, it is right speech.

Right view/understanding:  As I am able to comprehend my vastness (consciousness) and my limited scope (physical form), I believe the right view from which to pivot is seeing the unlimited capacity for transformation and change we each hold.  We can be born again and again.  We create our worlds daily, hourly, by the minute, in each moment.  We can change, grow, heal, learn, and develop ever-greater understanding and capacities for compassion. We are infinitely finite.

Right effort:  I am here to use my mind and body and spirit regularly – daily – in support of all that is moving towards positive expansion.  My efforts matter.  I effect change by deciding to use what I have at any moment.  Right effort is making ongoing effort towards expanding loving-kindness through practice and action.

Right concentration:  I am here to consistently redirect and re-determine my focus.  I am here to commit constantly to showing up and being present.  Present to myself and my own needs; present to the people, places, things, other beings around me.  Present to this life and this moment.  With mindfulness and choice, I can control my concentration.

copy-cropped-butterflies3_sm1.jpgAll of this makes up my own personal experience of living what Buddhism calls the 8-fold path.  I practice.  I fall short.  I practice some more.  I excel.  I practice some more. I fall apart.  No matter the outcome, I just keep practicing.

I have come to realize that part of the 8-fold path goes back to those paradoxical – nonsensical, even – points of tension and experience within myself, that conflicted conviction and optimistic hopelessness, and all the rest.

I am made not solely of good and not solely of evil, but I contain within my existence the full capacity for both and for all the gray areas in between.  And I fundamentally believe that we all contain this full spectrum of possibilities.  We choose – again and again – with every thought, every spoken word, every feeling we allow to flourish inside of us, every interaction with others outside in the world, we choose which piece of the spectrum defines us in that moment.

Our lives are made up of these moments, these choices.  We become an amalgam of these moments.  When we reflect on our own moments, and begin to feel more joy, love, gratitude, kindness, openness than we do hate, pain, sadness, guilt, I believe it is then that we truly step into being our best selves, our whole selves.

When there is so much love that no external hate can shake us, we are whole.
When there is so much compassion that we can be gentle on ourselves and others in times of crisis, mistakes, or grief, we are whole.
When there is so much kindness that angry outrage from others does not knock us down or tear us apart, we are whole.

When we are whole, we are one.  Heart to heart, mind to mind, spirit to spirit.

May we all become whole.

Namaste.

 

The Fountain of Youth: Keep Your Brain Young

diversindevilsden_500wI’ve always been adventurous and have often been quoted as saying, “I’ll try pretty much anything at least once.”  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that this statement is still true and it’s a big part of why I truly enJOY my life, my work, and all the people in “my world.”

It is true, to the best of our knowledge at this time, that fundamental differences exist in the adolescent brain (11-24 years old by neuroscience & psychiatric definition) that make us all distinctly different in these years than in childhood or in adulthood.  However, as adults, we are fully capable of embracing our ability to consciously change our brains by first examining our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, and then changing the ones that don’t seem to be GROWING us and actually helping us THRIVE in our lives.  When we start making changes, our brains change too!  What’s awesome is that those brain changes affect how we think, remember, focus attention, make decisions, and relate to others (and ourselves).

We can learn a few things about how to GROW and THRIVE in our lives by setting ourselves up to experience more of the positive sides of four specific qualities embodied in the teenage and young adult mind, according to doctor and researcher Dr. Dan Siegel.  In the book Brainstorm, Siegel defines those qualities as:  Novelty Seeking, Social Engagement, Increased Emotional Intensity, and Creative Exploration.  There’s no time like the present to take on at least one of those categories consciously and make some changes in your life to support it!

“Novelty seeking” is a perfect starting point in flexing my adult-brain muscles because adventure and the deep sense of excitement and exhilaration I feel when I try new fun stuff is fantastic for me!  It’s also something that I can really hold onto and am able to enthusiastically transfer to others through the power of storytelling and sharing.  (Which is cool in and of itself, AND it ushers me forward in my own growth because it precipitates more social engagement and increased emotional intensity in my own experiences… see how that works? Growth-orientation feeds more growth!)

This past weekend, I took a road trip with friends to visit even more friends down in Florida.  We wanted to escape the winter for a while and get some sunshine, swim time, and some new experiences to forge new positive memories together.  Goals:  all accomplished and the trip exceeded all expectations.

boatfriends_smNovel Experience #1:  We canoed and kayaked around one of the local crystal clear headsprings (72 degree water, year ‘round) and got to swim with a multitude of wild manatees. We saw a family of manatees with a wee baby, and our individual manatee counts ranged from at least 6 to maybe 12-13 separate manatees.  Once we were in the water with them, they swam right up to us, often nudging us with their bodies or their noses.  I was snorkeling when 2 large adults swam directly up to one of my friends while I watched from about 5 feet away.  Once of those guys turned towards me and swam directly underneath me, touching the skin on my bare legs as he swam by.  It was truly an amazing experience!  As we swam slowly away from the headsprings, we were able to identify them as the water turned darker and more brackish.

I felt excited but calm; these large animals were clearly curious and totally trusting of us.  I felt a deep sense of connection and responsibility after I realized that most of the manatees had scars on their backs from propellers.  I was so grateful to be moving slowly and mindfully through their waters, a visitor inside what was clearly their territory.  When we got back in our boats to paddle upriver for a while, I just felt awestruck by how graceful these animals were and how they seemed to just immediately embrace our presence, in spite of their scars.  I think this experience taught me a valuable life coach lesson about trust, using my strengths (enthusiasm, curiosity, love of learning), and the golden secret of slowing down and paying close attention. If we had just jumped into a boat and sped away upriver, we never would have seen those welcoming creatures.

(Apologies for not being able to photograph the manatees; I wasn’t prepared with an underwater camera.  But you can see how happy we were after swimming with them!)

stepsintodevilsden_outside_smNovel Experience #2:  When you’ve been friends with a group of people for a time period now measured in decades, you all get to know each other REALLY well.  The super cool thing about that is that you’re able to perfectly predict the kinds of new experiences that ALL of you will enjoy, which makes it easier and easier to set up the possibility of new awesome memories you can create together.  Our second day of adventure on this trip was one of those, “I know people who want to come here even though they don’t know it exists yet” moments.  Our friend T, host with the most and partner in our cozy accommodations Rainbow River Club, had scouted out a place called “Devil’s Den” and we packed up with swimsuits, snorkel gear, and a picnic to go check it out!

stepsintodevilsden_smAfter signing our lives away on various waivers which required a steady stream of initialing down the side of a front and back sheet of paper, we walked carefully down a set of about 20 stone steps into a hole in the earth.  At the end of those stairs, we were standing on a rock ledge that had another 20 or so wooden steps leading down to a series of underwater platforms in the huge cave below, with sunlight streaming in from a gaping hole in the earth around the corner from where we’d entered the stone staircase.  As the light lit up the water, you could see straight through to the bottom of the cave about 75 feet below the water’s surface.  One person at a time (as instructed), we walked down the steps with our snorkels and flippers in hand.  Once we got the platform suspended in the 72°F water about knee deep, we put on gear and pushed off for a snorkeling adventure while scuba divers explored the depths below.  It was an incredible experience!  You could see all kinds of fishes and as you swam around, the light danced all around.  We had a private swim for about half an hour, exploring every nook and cranny we could get to without dive gear.  I’ve never seen anything remotely like it anywhere, and it just felt like we were in some fantasy adventure movie of some kind.  It was unreal and truly awesome.  Although we’re used to swimming in 60° mountain river water in the summertime, 72° with flecks of sun inside a cave is only tolerable on bare skin for so long!  So, we climbed back up the two very steep sets of stairs and found a sunny table to spread out a picnic and warm ourselves up like turtles on a log.  By the time we’d picnicked and walked around the old SCUBA training facility on the property and dried out in the sun and shared what our personal take on the place was, the sun had shifted significantly and there was more sun on the hole in the earth. “Let’s do it again!” and off we went back into the earth for another swim and exploration of this cave that had a bit more light on it now.  None of us wanted to leave, really, and have determined we would love to go back and spend some more time… and maybe go beyond the surface next time!

selfieinsidedevilsdenIt’s SO IMPORTANT to keep experiencing new things and growing our connections to friends and family in exciting and memorable ways that make us all FEEL GOOD.  Embracing change through self-selected growth is one of the keys to long-term happiness, brain health, and a positively oriented thriving life.  If you’re not doing anything new, or changing anything by using more of your strengths, we strongly encourage you to take on a challenge of some kind to do so!  Keeping your brain, your mind, your body and your spirit active and growing is the closest thing to the fountain of youth we’ve discovered!  Be well and be good to you and yours.  Namaste!

Curry Spiced Cauliflower “Rice”


Vegan Cauliflower RiceCurry Spiced “Rice”
(grain-free, gluten-free, #whole30 compliant, vegan, made with cauliflower power!)
original recipe by Vicy Wilkinson, MA, BCC

I’m so lucky that part of my job as a transformational life coach involves helping people (myself included) continuously improve their nutrition and ability to take good care of themselves at the most basic levels.  Food is the tastiest of those basic levels of THRIVING!  And I LOVE FOOD SO MUCH!  I’m grateful that many of friends enjoy my becoming-more-and-more-frequent #whole30 resets.  I’ve found that following the guidelines of this program as outlined in the book It Starts With Food every 4-6 months really helps me stay better on track over all, with both health and fitness goals and all the rest of my goals, too.  {As within, so without.  As above, so below.}

At some point during the last year, I cooked dinner for a friend, and ended up serving her a “rice” dish I made with cauliflower that she has asked me about ever since!  “How did you make that?  It was delicious!” she says to me every time I cook for her.  During my weekly food prep for a busy week of seeing clients and changing the world, I finally decided I would try to re-create this dish, and keep up with how I did it so that I could share it with her… and you!

I realized that one of the keys to simple recipes like the one that follows is that having a good spice cabinet.  If you’re still getting by with salt, pepper, oregano, and Mrs. Dash, I highly recommend that you start exploring new worlds by adding a spice or two to your kitchen apothecary each time you visit the grocery store over the next few months.  You’ll be amazed with what you can do with just a couple of ingredients, and the right blend of spices! {Also, even if you’re missing a couple of the less common spices in this recipe, like Garam masala or 5-spice, try it anyway!  It’ll still be good, you’ll just be missing some of the subtle hints created by these antique spice blends.  Pick them up  next time you’re in a spicy mood!  Remember, spice doesn’t necessarily equate to heat.}

Here’s the recipe, along with a few pics I took of the prep work along the way!  Please cook, share, embellish as you wish… and ENJOY!  ♥

Ingredients
*Note:  the full version below is pretty spicy, and is recommended for people who are used to this intensity of spice pallets.  I’m including (in bold) the 1/2 spice version for the unsure or timid!

  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. ½ tsp. 5-spice powder (commonly found in Asian food sections of most grocery stores; consists of fennel seed, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon) (¼ tsp. 5-spice powder)
  3. ½ tsp. Garam masala (another spice blend; usually consists of black and white peppercorns, cloves, cassia bark, nutmeg and mace, black and green cardamom pods, Bay leaf, Caraway) (¼ tsp. Garam masala)
  4. 1 tsp. turmeric (½ tsp. turmeric)
  5. 1 tsp. cumin  (½ tsp. cumin)
  6. 1 tsp. curry powder [I used hot, yellow curry powder in this version; use whatever youRaw Fresh Ginger have on hand!]  (½ tsp. mild curry powder)
  7. 1 tsp. cinnamon  (½ tsp. cinnamon)
  8. ¼ c. ish fresh minced ginger (*see photo ~ this is a ¼ c. measuring cup, before I minced it)
  9. 1 large or 2-3 small cloves fresh minced or crushed garlic (½ large clove or 1-2 small cloves garlic)
  10. ¼ c. raisins
  11. Big handful of nuts*
  12. 3-4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  13. Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast

 

Instructions

  1. Wash cauliflower, and then cut it into large chunks.Spice pallet for Curry Spiced Rice
  2. Add all pieces of cauliflower to your food processor and “pulse” in 20-30 second bursts until cauliflower is a nice “rice-like” texture, with maybe a few larger chunks. {This will probably only take 3-4 bursts – you don’t want cauliflower dust! J}
  3. Set aside until you prepare your curry paste.
  4. Add 3-4 Tbsp. coconut oil into a large saucepan, and heat to medium for a few minutes.
  5. Stir in your “wet” curry ingredients: garlic and gingerWet Curry Paste Ingredients
  6. Reduce heat to low and stir in all the “dry” curry ingredients: turmeric, cumin, curry powder, 5-spice, Garam masala, and cinnamon.
  7. Now add your cauliflower and stir until the curry paste coats everything fully.
  8. After it’s all mixed up nicely, turn up the heat to about medium and stir frequently for about 10 minutes to soften the cauliflower.
  9. Reduce heat to low and add your nuts and raisins.Cauliflower Rice ~ Spice Coated
  10. Cover and let simmer on low (lowest possible setting on your stovetop) for 15-20 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Bragg’s nutritional yeast (because it’s good for you) & stir or “toss” before serving.
  12. ENJOY! {Garnish with curly parsley, if you want to get real fancy with it.}

*I used pecans in this batch; sometimes I use cashews; I suggest you use whatever tree nuts you have on hand.  I’m pretty sure I used pistachios in the first batch I ever made that my friend raves about so much.  NOTE:  to maintain #whole30 compliance, nuts must be raw tree nuts, no peanuts and no nuts roasted in any non-compliant oil.

Serving suggestions:  Pair your tasty spicy rice with baked or roasted chicken, and a simple roasted veggie.  (I like roasted purple cabbage and a simple chicken breast, for example.)   Better yet, stick with the Indian theme and make Tandoori Chicken or Tikka Masala to go with it… but be prepared to spend some extra time in the kitchen for these delights!

May we all eat well & be healthy and happy! Namaste. 

Get Your Energy Back from a Narcissist

DSC_0781AjIn this episode of our GetReal Relationships Series, Ingrid Sthare and Vicy Wilkinson from Complete Life Coaching talk about what a narcissist is; how being in a relationship with a narcissist sucks away a person’s energy; behaviors of narcissism that draw in giving partners… and how to GET OUT if you find yourself stuck in one of these relationships.

We’ve all met narcissists:  extreme selfishness, seriously grandiose views of one’s own talents and an insatiable craving for admiration from others.  Sometimes, all of us can have tendencies towards narcissism, especially as we’re first starting to explore who we really are.  However, some big indicators that it’s a problem is when those tendencies take over and begin to define who we are.  Narcissists are exploitative of others, taking advantage of them for personal gain without regard for the other person.  Which leads down the slippery slope of completely lacking empathy for others, so that others feel small and wounded in the shadow of the narcissist.  (We see this a LOT in relationships when a healthy person falls head over heels for a narcissist.)  Then there is the envious behavior that comes out with constant arrogance and haughty attitudes, especially towards anyone that either seems to pose a threat of some sort or that is deemed “inferior” due to station or circumstance.  Narcissists hurt other people, even those they say they love, without regard.

If you’re stuck in a relationship with a narcissist, this episode is for you.  

Thank you so much for listening!

We are Ingrid Sthare and Vicy Wilkinson from Complete Life Coaching.  You can find us on the web at www.completelifecoaching.com .  You can call us:  864-270-9303 and you can connect via Twitter @CLCGlobal and on Facebook at completelifecoachingglobal.   We offer a free phone consultation and first coaching session.  Ingrid has vast experience in matchmaking and dating, and Vicy is a communication and forgiveness expert.  Let us help you improve your most important relationship:  the one you have with yourself.

Triathlon Mom: Exclusive Interview about Being REALLY Fit Over 40

Triathlon MomCertified Transformational Life Coaches Ingrid Sthare and Vicy Wilkinson from Complete Life Coaching are excited to interview Triathlon Mom.  She will share some tips for being a mother of three, and keeping up with being an athlete.  Triathlon Mom is a swimmer, biker, and runner, and has participated in numerous triathlons, including a couple of Ironmans, and has gained numerous awards from some prestigious competitions. In addition, she blogs about her adventures and inspires others to be at the top of their game too.  Pure awesome!

You can connect directly with her via her Facebook page, and follow her through her daily training regime.  She’s awesome, and she’ll help keep you inspired to keep going on your own workout journey… no matter the obstacles.  Here’s the link to our interview.

You can learn more about our exclusive coaching retreats for people ready to make BIG changes, whether it’s a change in lifestyle or a change in business or relationships, we’re here to help.  We help executives, small business owners, and also individuals, couples, and families get more goodness out life!  http://www.completelifecoaching.com/.

Joy Jar: Remember the Positive Experiences

Joy Jar ~ Savor the Positive For the past several years, I’ve seen a post floating around the Internet that instructs people to place a large empty jar somewhere visible in their home, and every time something really good or happy or positively surprising happens, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Then, at the end of a whole year of doing this, you’ve got a whole jar stuffed with happy memories that you can read and savor.

This past year, I finally thought to do it!  My this year’s self is very grateful to my last year’s self for starting this tradition in my home.  Why?  Going through my “Jar of Joy” yesterday was so enlightening and inspiring to me! This past year has been one of the most difficult ones of my entire life due to a tragic and sudden loss – to a violent suicide – of a close friend of almost 30 years.  And that loss came on the heels of a solid year of grieving other lost family members and friends, so there was a period during last year that I was lost in a sea of grief, and every day was a struggle to keep “practicing what I preach” and learning to grieve but keep GOING and keep GROWING at the same time, while not giving in to wanting to just give up.

This Joy Jar showed me that even when I think there is too much darkness for any light to get through, that is not really true… The light is ALWAYS there, we just have to look for it AND we have to write it down so that it doesn’t get lost in the dark.

Build a Positive Life with Happy MemoriesI found fabulous little nuggets like:
Got a kayak today and I am SO GRATEFUL to my friend S. for giving it to me!  
It is cold and pouring down rain outside, but reading about that moment revived it in me and I was filled with so much gratitude and EXCITEMENT, just by remembering that fabulous gift.

Another one was:
E. and I successfully rowed across the lake and back, including a moving turn, without stopping in our new favorite scull, Dark Matter.  YAY!  
If you’ve been keeping up with us, you know by now that I am a rower, and that I started indoor rowing and eventually began translating those skills to the water by learning to scull.  It’s a life-long learning curve, so getting to the point that we can navigate our tiny domain without stopping AND successfully turn that crazy long boat without stopping is incredible!  (One day, we’ll row in a bigger shell and have coxswain to tell us what to do, maybe, but until that day, we row doubles.  And it’s hard! But SO FUN!)

And then there was this sweet one:
I had a great first real date with I. today, and the goodnight kiss was sweet.  
I mean, do I have to say anything about this?  A first kiss, even if it goes nowhere in the long term, is a sweet happy memory.  <3

This was exciting too:
Complete Life Coaching got a call from a NASDAQ-traded company today to ask if we’d considering giving a talk on dealing with high stress in the workplace!  (My comment on that little slip of paper was:  Wow!  We’re both excited!)
Sometimes, memories are exciting enough to give us a whole new *spark* when we think about them!  And a lot of the times, that spark will inspire us to keep moving towards our goals, even the giant daunting REALLY big picture ones!

As I went through the jar, I found evidence of progress made on many of my goals, and I discovered how I was able to keep up with many of my best practices for self-care, self-love, and self-discovery even when I thought I had basically thrown in the towel.  I learned that there’s a part of me that pays attention to the positive, even when I seem overwhelmed by the negative. I also learned that it’s so wonderful to have and acknowledge all my support during crisis, and on the good days!

There were so many magical little memories from last year that I’d lost completely, but this jar saved them for me.  Now, I am able to savor them!  Please try this simple technique, and I promise your next year’s self will thank you!

STOP Your Runaway Thoughts & Take Control of Your Mind

Tame Your Mind, Improve Your Lifeby Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA Philosophy, BCC, Certified Transformational Coach

It’s nighttime, you’re trying to relax and go to sleep, and your brain suddenly bombards you with thoughts about what you woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’ said during that argument yesterday or great ideas that will turn your whole life around AND save the world or the twenty- seven tasks you didn’t complete because you were trying to help the kids with a school project… or a million other things that our minds can come up with when we’re lying in bed and trying to relax and fall asleep.

In the world of transformational coaching, we call all this thinking, which has a tendency to turn dark, negative, and brooding, rumination or having ruminating thoughts.  Another term for this thinking-excessively with little control is “monkey mind” or “monkey chatter.”  In the Shambhala Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this sort of mental chatter is compared to having an untamed horse for a mind.  No matter how you look at it, rumination can get out of control and cause a lot of difficulty in life such as insomnia, anxiety, short temper, forgetfulness.  If left to fester and expand, rumination can lead down a slippery slope of temporary negativity into low mood, poor resilience, chronic stress, and even depression.

Of course, rumination doesn’t just happen when you’re trying to relax and go to sleep; many of us are plagued with ruminating thoughts during our wide awake time as well.  For example, how long have you obsessed in your mind over a stressful conversation that happened hours ago?  Or what kinds of thoughts take up space in your mind when you’re getting dressed in the morning and a certain pair of pants don’t fit right?

No matter when rumination gets in your way, though, there are proven techniques to help you regain control over your mind and discover your calm, peaceful center so that you can quiet that monkey chatter and choose a better direction for your powerful thoughts!

One easy way to put the brakes on rumination is very simple:  stop “just thinking” by taking specific action.  That action can be as simple as sitting down for 5 minutes and writing down what your mind is saying.  Just dump it all right out on paper.  It’s amazing how this simple act diminishes the hold negative thoughts have over us.  If it’s at night and you’ve already gone to bed, do yourself a favor by sitting back up, turning that lamp on again, and taking up pen and paper. When we write down all the stuff our brain is screaming to us, it helps externalize our experience and in this simple act, many people find immediate peace.

Sometimes our brain is just trying to help us remember important things; when we write those things down, we can refer to them later when we CHOOSE to do so, and our brain can stop reminding us and let us focus on relaxing.  This is especially helpful when your brain gets stuck in a loop about the minutiae of daily life:  schedules, tasks, 17 things you must remember before walking out the door Monday morning…whatever it is, write it down – just “brain dump” it out there onto the paper.

Another great thing about writing it down is that for many of us, our mind likes to pour out creative ideas or solutions to problems we had a month ago at random times.  If we take a few minutes to capture some notes about those ideas and solutions on paper, our brain can relax and move on.  Writing things down gives us a logical sense of closure.   It’s essentially clearing the cache in your mind like you do in your web browser.

If you find that writing is extremely difficult for you for whatever reason, I recommend keeping a voice recorder or using an app on your phone to just talk it out: literally speak your list or rambling thoughts into the recorder.  (Sometimes this works especially well for extroverts who don’t enjoy writing, but do enjoy talking!)  The outcome is similar as with writing it down because you have externalized the thoughts.

After you’ve taken the time to empty out some of the chatter, your mind can begin to relax and you can further help slow down any future rumination by taking advantage of that moment of spaciousness in your mind.  After writing or voice recording, take 2-5 minutes to focus on your breathing and calm both your mind and your body all at once.  If you take a really deep breath in and count to four – 1, 2, 3, 4 – slowly in your mind, then hold your breath for an equal 4-count, and then slowly exhale to a count of eight – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – you will notice instant feedback from your body.  Repeat this breath at least 5 times and you will help relax your entire nervous system, which naturally shuts down all that spinning monkey chatter.

If you find you still have some chatter after doing this breath work, you may want to take a step further in your writing or voice recording process by making notes about some potential solutions or ideas if your mind is still focused on some sort of dilemma.  Some of us need to not just write the thoughts down, but also to do some creative problem solving in order to gain that sense of closure that helps us rest.  You can alternate between breathing carefully as described above and writing to maximize your level of control.  With practice, it all gets a lot easier and you can begin to slow the rumination periods over time.   Bonus tip for problem solving in your sleep:  Ask yourself a specific question about the problem and then go to sleep.  Write for five to ten minutes first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed, and see what kinds of answers your awesome self has come up with overnight, like magic.

Experiment with these tools and make them your own.  Once you find out what works best for you on those nights your brain tries to hijack your calm and your sleep, keep whatever you need beside the bed and keep those ruminating thoughts from robbing you of well-deserved, and much needed rest, relaxation, and precious sleep.

Take care of you.  If you need more help, give us a call.  We’re glad you’re here.  Namaste.

Empowered Recovery from Grief and Loss: Losing Someone Else and Finding Yourself ~ January 18, 2015

Nurture Yourself through Grief & LossNext course details: Sunday, January 18, 2015 ~ 2pm – 6pm
Call now (864) 270-9303 or register and pay online below.
Further information and location given upon registration.
Greenville, SC  

We began offering this course in 2011, and it’s consistently successful in helping participants recover from grief due to death of a loved one, divorce, and other huge losses that can leave us devastated.  Is it time to “rewrite your story” after losing someone through death or divorce? Do you find yourself going through the motions of life without really living? Whether it’s been six months or six years, you can still find yourself and your place.  If you feel stuck, then this four-hour intensive course is for you.  Learn how to re-connect with the world around you, use tools to help break patterns, how to process and move past negative emotions, and how to nurture and care for yourself, inside and out. This class is about discovering your best self and taking good care of you.

Many participants have had great success rebuilding themselves and their lives with this course as a catalyst.  We appreciate all of you who choose to courageously confront your grief and share your burden with others in order to grow and move forward into a positive future.

Here are some of the things you will learn & gain:
Understanding the Grieving Process | Beginning Yoga (with certified instructor) | Simple Meditation Techniques | Sadness, Anger, Forgiveness, and Letting Go  |  Healthy & Easy Recipes + Demonstrations | Easy Image Consulting for (Re)Discovering Your Style | Techniques to put the past in the past (and keep it there) | Tools to Create a Happy Future  |  Insight & Self-Compassion  |  Identifying Ongoing Support, Opportunities, & Resources



Email to register and arrange offline payment.

View event & register on Meetup.com

$195 per person, all materials + food included

“This class was extremely beneficial to me and I would highly recommend it to anyone that has faced a loss in their lives.”

Losing Someone Else and Finding Yourself was, for me, a life saver.”

“After 3 years of counseling and feeling stuck, with your help, I finally figured out why I have felt the way I have.  Thank you for giving me my life back!”

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Let Go of Stress: Redirect Your Energy

12-14undereiffeltowerby Vicy Wilkinson, MA Philosophy, BCC

Once we hear the message stress is trying to give us and we address it, it will often go away on its own. However, that is not always the case, especially when the stress we’re feeling is being prompted by extreme emotions like anger, frustration, jealousy, or fear.  Many times, it’s necessary to give ourselves a longer break and permission to ask for help from others.  This can be the harder part of alleviating stress in our lives: recognizing that we need help to do so.

There is a deeply ingrained sense of autonomy in most of us, especially once we’re professionals in our fields or we have kids that depend on us or we feel like we “should be” able to handle whatever life brings us.  This sense of autonomy is wonderful, but it can also be our worst enemy when it keeps us from asking for help when we need it and instead keeps us struggling along with our game faces on.  I am reminded of John Donne’s famous poem that declares no man is an island.  We are hard wired in our brains and nervous systems to learn from others, empathize with others, and receive empathy from others.  Interestingly, though, when we are stressed, the circuitry that helps us connect with other people is less accessible to us and when we are extremely stressed, we are all but completely cut off from this circuitry known as “resonance circuitry.”  That is why strong negative emotions can leave us feeling “all alone” on a planet that contains over 6 billion people.

What I mean is that stress makes us feel entirely separate from others, and it is actually the stress response itself that hinders our ability to ask for help!  So, much like tense muscles may be outside indications that you need to stop and breathe and address the stress, having a sense of “I can do this all by myself,” is a good indicator that you may actually be better served by asking for help from a friend or family member or professional of some kind.

Taking good care of yourself

Other than stopping to address stress and reaching out to others during stressful times, we can all better handle stress when we’re consistently taking good care of our own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Therefore, the best stress reduction plan is having a daily self-care plan that includes eating well, exercise for your body, playtime for your mind and your spirit, connecting time with other people (family, co-workers, friends, pets), and creating some time and space to “just be” in your life and to connect to your own sense of the Divine, whatever that may be.  That “just being” time might be time for yoga or mediation, or it might be for gardening or playing music or taking a stroll somewhere you enjoy.  A lot of the things I’ve listed above are things that many of us feel are “nice to have” things, but what I want to emphasize is that they are truly “need to have” things if you really want to learn to live without a heavy burden of stress in your life.  As I often say to both my clients and students, the best time to learn to swim is not while you’re drowning. Therefore, the best time to get stress under control and to set an intention to let it go when it arises is when things are going great and you’re enjoying your life!

After all, we are human beings, not human doings.  So take time today to let something stressful go and reclaim some of your human-ness.  You’ll feel re-energized and revitalized!