What happens when you find yourself faced with difficult emotions?
School shootings, abortion laws, racism, war (I get chills just writing this list). It’s A LOT to process, and it can feel very HEAVY.
If you are human (which I’m pretty sure you are if you are reading this 😆), then the world events that you have lived through over the last few days and last few years have certainly brought up some difficult emotions.
And what happens when you find yourself faced with difficult emotions?
Do you notice that they are present? Or do you tend to shy away from them?
Do you get caught up in the intensity of the emotion and allow it to linger for days?
Or does the intensity trigger a freeze response leaving you confused, not knowing what to do or where to turn for support?
We all have emotional processing patterns that are usually programmed from a very young age. We learn how to deal with difficult emotions by watching our parents, and by learning from people of authority in our lives (teachers play a big role here!).
If as a child, if you had parents that told you to: “suck it up” or “be strong” when you were expressing sadness, or didn’t acknowledge your emotions and told you: “you’re fine” when you really needed to be seen or heard, chances are you will grow up to be someone who doesn’t allow themselves to feel their emotions.
But emotions can only be repressed for so long…
It’s important to know that emotions are energy in motion (E-motion). When you experience an emotion, your body will feel it as a physical sensation.
For example, when you feel sad, your throat may tighten,
Or when you feel anger, you may feel heat and tingling in your extremities,
Or when you feel shame, you may feel sick to your stomach.
Of course many of these sensations are uncomfortable, so the mind and body develop coping mechanisms to protect themselves from feeling pain.
Your body might get really tense (contraction),
Or you might turn to alcohol or drugs,
Or you might dissociate and stay in bed.
There are so many different flavours of coping mechanisms which are there to "protect" you, so you don’t have to feel pain.
But the problem with not allowing yourself to feel pain is that the pain and emotion then remain dormant in the body.
You might not consciously realize it’s there, but it is, under the layers of contraction and numbing techniques.
Many people may be able to continue to function this way, but it often results in daily anxiety. Keeping yourself from feeling what is there takes a lot of work and energy!
If you think you might be struggling with emotional health, please know that it’s not hard to begin to make changes.
A licensed somatic experiencing practitioner can help you, but there are also many simple tools that you can begin to practice right now on your own.
Here are 3 steps to follow to process difficult emotions more effectively:
1. PAUSE and name the emotion.
This first step can be hard, because when you are IN it, it can be hard to have clarity of mind to notice. Next time you find yourself scrolling and getting agitated, or having a disagreement with a loved one, be still for a moment, close your eyes (if this feels safe) and ask yourself:
What emotion am I feeling? And name it. “I am feeling anger”
2. Notice the physical location of the emotion in your body
Where do you notice that anger in your body? If this is new to you, remember to practice with curiosity and non-judgment. What does the anger FEEL like? You can write out your answer and say it out loud (to yourself or a friend).
3. Allow yourself to feel and accept that physical sensation.
Once you have located the anger in your body, stay with it. The longer you can stay present with it, the more it will transform. Breathe deeply into that space, and allow for it to take up more room within the physical boundaries of your body. Notice how it transforms.
It can really help to journal about your experience afterwards, or talk about it with a friend.
This whole process shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes. Don’t overthink it. And try not to analyze if you are doing it right or wrong. Just the fact that you are becoming more aware of your emotions, and noticing how they feel in your body means you are on the right track.
Practicing emotional mindfulness is like building any other skill or muscle, it requires practice, practice, practice. And the more you practice, the more it will become second nature.
If you are looking for more tools on how to build emotional health and resilience, I invite you to subscribe to my mailing list where I give more tips and tools like in this article.
With love and service,
Does exercise sometimes feel like punishment to you?
Take a moment and think about whether or not you’re aware of your internal voice when you exercise. You know, the little voice inside your head that tells you to get up and go, or that you “shouldn't” do this, & “should” do that…
I've recently been reflecting on some of the words my clients use when they refer to the movements (or exercise) they are doing.
When I asked one of my clients what was going on in her mind while she was at the gym she couldn't tell me, but what she could say was that she was "releasing".
While movement and exercise can be a wonderful form of emotional and energetic release, if we are not aware of our internal dialogue while we are moving we run the risk of self-sabotaging.
I believe that for some people, their movement or exercise routine can be a form of punishment that they are not even consciously aware of.
There are always beliefs and thoughts (often unconscious) that are driving our actions, and impacting our results.
When we have a hard time with self-acceptance and/or self-love, we often come to our movement/exercise routine with the intention that our body is broken and needs fixing. That we are somehow "less" than we "should" be.
I love high intensity workouts myself, and recognize the importance of aerobic activity for cardiovasuclar health, so please do not mistake my words to mean that this form of movement is "bad". I don’t believe that any movement or exercise routine that makes you feel good can be bad but I believe there can be unhealthy intentions that drive our habits.
Because we can't change what we are not aware of, here are some contemplation questions to bring more awareness to your exercise WHY:
Luckily, spring is just around the corner, and also a great time of the year to re-introduce healthy habits!
But when you feel stuck, it can be really hard to make changes on your own.
Change requires that you build momentum, one action at a time.
I invite you to decide now, what is one action you will take this week to help you build momentum towards more integrated wellness (meaning mental, physical, emotional, and energetic health)?
I’ll even challenge you one step further and ask that you share this action with a friend or loved one! You’ll be amazed how simply telling someone your intention can build momentum towards your goal.
If you’re feeling the need for a “Spring Tuneup” or need guidance working towards more integrated wellness, I’d love to share my method with you! Book a free discovery call with me to get your momentum going!
I'm sure you've heard the expression "less is more", right?
Recently I found myself contemplating this saying after my morning meditation practice.
I was on day 22 of a 40 day meditation program. Every weekday, my teacher leads the EXACT SAME 22 minute long meditation.
You may or may not have experience with meditation, so to get a feeling for what this might be like try to imagine yourself doing the same 20 minute yoga sequence forty times!
And yes, as boring as it may be, there can be so much value in repetition, if we open ourselves up to the experience (and don't let our limiting beliefs get in the way).
By repeating the same meditation every morning I have been able to deepen my practice like never before.
The power of repetition for learning and lasting change in our behavior is also supported by brain science (as you may know I used to be a neuroscientist in a former life👩🏻🔬).
"Neurons that fire together wire together" is a phrase that was first used in 1949 by neuropsychologist Donald Hebb to describe how pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition.
Despite knowing this, I still struggle with repetition as novelty seems so much more exciting to my brain (quite literally!).
But when it comes to meditation or your physical asana practice, although the meditation or postures may be the same, what IS different is YOU!
Each meditation or yoga practice changes you one tiny little bit, and when you begin to notice these subtle changes in your mind, body, and heart, coming back to your meditation cushion or yoga mat for "the same old practice" no longer seems boring because you are approaching it through a new lens.
If you have been wanting to get back into a meditation practice, I have a treat for you 🍭. A meditation treat that is 😉
My new Meditation Made Easy course includes not one, but TEN 20 minute long guided meditations.
This means that if you repeated each meditation 10 times (let's say over 2 weeks) you would have 3 months of meditation with me!
Lauren Enright is a yoga teacher, birth doula, and life coach. A former neuroscientist and high school educator, she loves to blend together science and spirituality in her work. Her mission is to educate, empower, and support folks so they may live their Motherhood journey with more joy and less struggle.
Practice mindfulness, movement, and meditation with Lauren on her Youtube channel.
The difference between a goal and an intention
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a goal and an intention?
This was a question that was asked in my postnatal yoga circle last Thursday.
Although these two terms seem to be thrown around interchangeably (I have done this myself), I think there is an important distinction between them.
Anything you read about setting goals will tell you to make sure your goal is measurable. There is an acronym in the goal setting world, SMART, which stands for: specific, measurable, relevant or realistic, time bound.
This can be very useful when your goal is productivity or achievement oriented (like in business or fitness training), but I would argue that intention setting is more helpful (at least at first) when it comes to personal development or transformational work. This is because intentions are much more about how you want to feel (and not what you want to accomplish).
Do you see the subtle but powerful difference here? Here is a chart that I made to help you to understand the subtle differences between intentions and goals.
Why setting an intention will help you manifest your goals
So many of us are tired and overwhelmed from doing too much, that our goals can often become another thing on our to-do list that we fail to do, and then feel bad about (which prevents us from taking action).
An intention is not meant to be another thing on your to-do list! It is meant to be an attitude or feeling with which you approach the things you are already doing. For example, maybe you want to feel less guilty, be more mindful in your day-today, or show your body more kindness and compassion.
It's this type of internal work that will lead you to be more kind with yourself so that you will then be able to have to the energy and momentum you need to take on some of your bigger goals.
Setting an intention for your day, week, or month can be a great way to set the tone for specific period of time, without feeling like there is too much pressure to accomplish something specific (here's a reel of how I incorporate intention setting into my morning ritual).
You don't have to be in one of my yoga circles to play along! I invite you to take some time today or this week to get clear on an intention for yourself. You can set a time frame for your intention:
by the end of (insert amount of time here - could be x days, weeks, months), I would like to feel.....
Start off by writing whatever comes to mind, without filtering (I call this stream of consciousness writing). And then go back and read what you've read and simplify it in one statement.
If you're feeling stuck and would like support with this process schedule a discovery call me with today to find out how working with an experienced coach (that's me 😉) can make all the difference in attaining your dreams in 2022.
Guest Article by Sheila Olsen from fitsheila.com
Sleep is one of our body’s most important functions. It gives your mind time to rest and recharge, allows your muscles to heal and strengthen, and even regulates mood and boosts immune function. However, most of us don’t get the quality sleep we need.
This can happen for many reasons, especially when it comes to fertility and birth. Women who are trying to conceive often experience high ambient stress, especially if the process is taking much longer than they’d expected. Pregnancy can interrupt sleep in a variety of ways from conception to birth and, of course, newborns aren’t known for their sleep-enhancing qualities.
That said, there are ways to mitigate these issues and get the rest you deserve. Breathe with Lauren invites you to take a look at some of the common reasons women lose sleep and give you the tools to overcome them.
Stress and Anxiety
One of the most common reasons people can’t fall or stay asleep is stress. Most people with anxiety, whether temporary or chronic, spend their days stuck in stressful thought patterns. When they try to fall asleep, their minds can’t step away from these patterns long enough to wind down and sleep. This leads to more stress about the fact that you’re not sleeping.
There are several ways to tackle this. Many people who stress before bed benefit from playing soothing music, a calming meditation, or white noise over speakers that connect via Bluetooth in their bedroom. This gives your mind something specific to focus on that isn’t your stressful thoughts. You can also try reading or journaling before bed to ensure your last thoughts aren’t anxiety-ridden ones as you drift off to sleep.
Finally, if you absolutely can’t sleep from stress, get up for a little while. Drink some herbal tea (check ingredients if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive) or do some light stretching — anything other than beating yourself up for being awake. Staying in bed while anxious about not sleeping can build up mental associations that make sleep even harder in the long run.
Sleep Issues During Pregnancy
When it comes to addressing sleep problems during pregnancy, you need to identify what’s keeping you up. For example, early on you might be dealing with pregnancy nausea. Don’t let the name fool you — morning sickness can happen at night. There are tons of morning sickness home remedies out there; try some out to see which work best for you. If none of them work, or your nausea and vomiting are severe, talk to your medical provider to get relief.
Heartburn is another common sleep issue in pregnancy. Although hormone changes can cause heartburn to happen throughout pregnancy, it gets more common — and for some moms, unavoidable — as the baby gets bigger and begins to press on your stomach. Pregnancy pillows and over-the-counter or prescription meds can reduce discomfort.
How to Sleep When You Have an Infant
There’s no getting around it — babies put a serious dent in your sleep schedule. There are several approaches you can take to getting sleep when you have a little one. For starters, there’s the tried and true “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Newborns need to eat every three hours, which means it’s nearly impossible to get a full night’s sleep even with plenty of support, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Eventually, your family will find a rhythm and you can use naps to do chores or just take a breather, but at the beginning, you need to take sleep wherever you can find it.
If you have a partner, work out a routine that allows you both to get a decent uninterrupted chunk of sleep overnight (if you breastfeed, pumping can allow your partner to take an evening feed without waking you up). You can also lean on family and friends in order to catch some extra Zs.
A good night’s sleep can feel impossible sometimes, but these tools can help. We hope this article empowers you to get the rest you need and deserve.
Looking for support on your fertility or pregnancy journey? Want to try some online yoga classes? Contact Lauren Enright today to get started by calling 514-622-4401.
Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created Fit Sheila to spread the word about her fitness philosophy."
Do you enjoy the benefits of yoga, but struggle with practicing at home?
Maybe it's been hard for you to start your home yoga practice, or maybe you've struggled to maintain it. For many people (myself included), working out (in any form) - on your own AND at home - is difficult! You may not have a proper space or props, there are so many distractions, and there is often a lack of motivation.
Before COVID, I had never practiced yoga at home (except for when I would prepare my classes). I relied heavily on going to a studio and having the guidance of a seasoned teacher. But when yoga studios closed in March 2020, I was presented with a choice:
Over the last year and a half I have developed a few key habits that have really helped me keep up with my home yoga practice (and therefore keep my sanity 😆) and I'd like to share them with you.
HABIT #1: Leave your yoga mat rolled out where you plan to practice (don't put it away!)
So I know this may not seem super practical, especially if you are living in a small space and are used to your home looking a certain way (hint: this is an invitation to work on letting go of control 😉), but simply the act of seeing your mat on the floor will remind you to get on it and move your body!
I'll tell you a little story about how I learned that something so simple could be so effective. This summer my family and I spent 6 weeks in a cottage in Morin-Heights, QC. I had the choice of setting up my yoga space in the basement, or right next to our bed in the mezzanine. The basement option seemed like the logical choice, as it would permit me to be free(ish) of distractions from my family. But the basement was also dark and we weren't spending very much time down there. So I rolled out my yoga mat right next to our bed and didn't put it away for 6 weeks. The result? I woke up every morning with my mat staring me in the face; it was literally saying: "come sit on me". And so I would accept the invitation. Sometimes just for 10 min, or sometimes for a full practice. I have never been so consistent!
Habit 2: Choose WHEN you will practice, and write it down!
I HIGHLY recommend practicing in the morning, even if it means having to wake up a little earlier. From my personal experience, I've learned that if I don't practice first thing after waking up, I'll never do it, even if I have the best of intentions. Now I know that a morning practice may not be possible for every body, so if you already know that a different time of day works for you, go with it!
Now that you have decided when you will practice....write it down (on paper preferably)
This part is just as important (if not more important) than the 'when'. And the act of writing it down seems to be more effective than simply scheduling it into your electronic calendar.
This month I started using The Mastery Journal (to master productivity, discipline, and focus in 100 days). At the beginning of each page there is a prompt to write out my morning routine, including what time I wish to start and end by, and the tasks I would like to include. The key to this habit is doing it the night before, because as John Lee Dumas says: "we win tomorrow, today!".
I was amazed at how effective this simple act of no more than 3 minutes became! On the evenings where I would write out my morning routine I had a 100% success rate of actually implementing my plan (which was very new for me as I normally have a hard time with discipline and routine).
So here is something you can do right now to get one step closer to your consistent home yoga practice. Make sure to write your answers down!
Habit 3: Be part of an online yoga community
The truth is: starting and maintaining a home yoga practice is hard because most of the time you're doing it alone.
But what if you had a group to show up to?
What if, before your practice, you got to chat with the other humans, just like you?
Would that make it a little easier to show up each week?
In my 15 years of practicing yoga there have been 2 major things that have helped keep me on my path of living yoga:
When I try to do it alone, I loose my drive, every time. And this is why community has become the foundation of my yoga and coaching programs: because we ALL thrive with support.
I would love to help you find an online (or in person if you are in the Montreal area) yoga community where you feel at home! My Breathe with Lauren family consists mainly of womben at all stages of the Motherhood journey (so those TTC, pregnant people, and new and seasoned moms). I offer fertility yoga, prenatal yoga, postnatal yoga, birth doula services, as well as private and group fertility coaching programs.
But if you don’t fit into one of these categories, I can still point you towards the right community for you (as I have been around the yoga block many, many times). Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bringing the mental and physical benefits of yoga to more people is my jam!
Have you ever noticed how your emotional state can impact your perception of time? Like when you are really enjoying yourself time seems to go by so fast (I swear the wedding I had spent a year planning was over in a single blink), but when you are uninspired (perhaps at a work meeting ;) time seems to go by sooo slooow....
Or maybe you've observed that when you're feeling busy or rushed there never seems to be enough hours in a day, but when you have nothing fun to do (hello COVID) time seems to drag on?
I am on the constant pursuit of finding ways to bring more ease and joy into my life (and yours!). And so the scientist in me LOVES thinking about these types of things...how does variable x influence variable y?
Whether you are a professional, a student, a mom, or an empty nester, today most of us feel busy and rushed. We keep moving, keep working to get it all done (often without taking breaks) because we think that pausing will slow us down... BUT (and this is super counter intuitive) taking a break and slowing down is actually the ONE thing that will buy us more time in the long run.
The thing is that feeling rushed is exactly that: a feeling. And a feeling always comes from a thought. When you feel rushed, your mind is constantly thinking about the next thing on your to-do list, so you are always living in the future (in your mind at least) which makes time feel like it's going by faster.
But when you keep your mind anchored in the present moment something magical begins to happen: time seems to slow down! You begin to feel less rushed, less agitated, and more in control. But it's not your to-do list that has changed, it's your perception of time!
I've been reading the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown and I've been happy to see that he too emphasizes the importance of things such as taking breaks to sit and think, sleep, and play to increase productivity (and not reduce it).
Over the years my yoga and meditation practice that has helped me learn to tame my mind (amongst MANY other things)- so that I don't spend too much time in the future (which often leads to anxiety) or in the past (which can lead to depression). And in doing so, I have acquired the superpower of being able to slow down time.
I would love to share my superpower with you, and teach you how to harness this skill too! There various free and paid ways for you to learn with me:
You can get a taste of what I have to offer with my free fertility yoga, prenatal yoga, or For the Love of Yoga recordings. Or join me for a live yoga + meditation and journaling workshop , or 6 week group education & support series (I have fertility yoga, prenatal yoga, mom and baby yoga).
And if you have any questions about how to use yoga and meditation to slow down time please leave them in the comments below!
A few months ago I watched the Netflix Documentary The Social Dilemma (have you seen it?) and was terrified by it. I was already quite conscious of my digital consumption behaviors, but the show made me even more aware of how social media and my smartphone was affecting my (and my family's life).
I recognize this is a hot topic- and I don't take it lightly. Addiction is a strong word. But given that "People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences" (American Society of Addiction Medicine) I do believe I had developed an addiction to my phone.
I never had an 'addictive personality'. In my early twenties, I could have a cigarette with a drink (yes, I was a 'social smoker' at the time) but I always had control. I wish I could say the same about my relationship with my phone.
One way I could tell I was starting to become addicted to my phone is that I could feel my desire to check it even when there was no reason to. I could feel my brain craving that dopamine hit from the next comment or like on a recent post. And the worst part was, I couldn't keep myself from doing it! Repeatedly, I would find myself pressing that 'home' button even when I was telling myself not to.
Another aspect of addiction is that it interferes with your relationships. This was the case for me. Being on my phone 'all the time' (in my husband's words) came to be an issue of contention in our marriage. "But I'm doing work" I would argue. Which was true. But did I need to be doing work first thing after hopping out of bed? No.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I imagine it does. I believe that many of us struggle with our relationship with our phone.
As one mom said in my mom and baby yoga class: "it's hard, because I'm so isolated right now, and I use social media to feel connected to others, but then I stay up too late instead of going to bed when I know I should".
I've been there too. Scrolling, and feeling worse because of it.
There is a rule of thumb I like to use in life: if something makes you feel better, keep doing it, but if it makes you feel worse, stop!
I feel like ONE of the problems with social media is that we never stop to take the time to notice if what we're doing is making us feel better or worse.
Fast forward a few months (so this post doesn't drag on too long 😆) and I have been working hard at setting boundaries with social media and email. I tried going cold turkey (ie. implementing many boundaries at the same time) but that didn't work- so now I'm taking it slow, making one change at a time.
Two changes I have been successful with so far:
1- I don't touch my phone until after I drop my kids off at school. This allows me to be more present with my family in the morning and pushes back the start of my "work day".
2- I have been doing a Sunday social media detox. No posting posting to my feed or stories, and no consumption. When I was a little girl Sunday was always a day of rest. Stores were closed and we went to church. Things seemed a whole lot simpler back then. And that's what I'm striving for: more simplicity.
What I'm working on now is my night time boundary: powering down. I find this one a lot harder- probably because I've been disciplined for most of the day so I feel I have permission to 'rebel' at night. But baby steps, right? Just the act of me telling you that I will be off my phone by 9pm every night will help me get there. And looking forward to a good book and bath before bed, things that actually make me feel better and not worse!
If you've stuck around till the end, bravo 👏🏼! This was a long one. And (I believe) a really important one. I hope you use my story as inspiration to either:
- become more aware of how your phone/social media usage impacts you (and other people's) lives
- try setting some boundaries for your own digital consumption behaviors.
As always, I'd love to hear from you- can you relate to my story? Have you already pared down your social media feeds? Do you have any tips for me???
Lauren is a trained neuroscientist, who after a decade of teaching left her job to start her own business. Her struggle with migraines and anxiety is what brought Lauren to yoga, and kept her coming back as it became a medicine for both her body and mind. Today, Lauren is passionate about teaching meditation and yoga to a large audience as tools to develop more resilience and joy, with less anxiety and overwhelm. Lauren lives in Montreal with her husband and two children, Cedar and Oscar.