bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: work

Meet your best friend and worst enemy.

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Say hello to cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands, two triangular-shaped organs that live just above your kidneys. At the risk of oversimplification, cortisol is the reason you are here today. If not for this quick-acting hormone, your primitive ancestors would have been gobbled up by bears and tigers thousands of years ago.

Cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” shuts down nonessential bodily functions and provides the body with everything it needs to fight, flee or freeze. Cortisol overrides your immune and reproductive systems (you’re not worried about healing a cut or making babies when you’re about to be someone’s lunch) and temporarily disables bone and muscle growth. It increases gastric acid production in the belly and stimulates sebum oil production in the skin. (Maybe if you taste really disgusting you’ll turn off that predator.) Cortisol raises blood sugar and insulin levels for a big burst of energy. It sends lactic acid to your muscles so you can pump those arms and legs, and it forces the oxygen you inhale into your lungs so you can run top speed. All of this and more happens in milliseconds, without any conscious effort from you. Pretty amazing, right?

 

Cortisol is designed to hang out in your body for short stints. If you walked around jacked up on cortisol all day long you’d look and feel absolutely INSANE. Can you imagine feeling stressed all the time? Feeling like you’re always running away from something or chasing something or hiding from something?

 

Hmmmm… Come to think of it, this is exactly how your life may look some days. Traffic, money, terrorists, deadlines, relationships, work, sordid pasts, kids, over-scheduling… all stimulate cortisol production. And those are just the obvious stress triggers. Your life may be filled with other complexities that people couldn’t even imagine! If this describes you, cortisol may overproduce in your body a dozen times a day or more. This is not good. Here are just a few reasons why:

 

1. When cortisol floods your hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for memory and emotional responses), it kills brain cells. Fortunately, the hippocampus protects itself with something called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF. Unfortunately, when cortisol secretes chronically, BDNF cannot keep up with demand and your brain cells bite it.

 

2. Cortisol thins the skin by depleting it of hyaluronic acid, a moisture retainer, stripping it of elasticity and suppleness. Additionally, it triggers inflammation resulting in damaged skin cells. The stress hormone also produces more sebum in your skin. Sebum is an oily substance that mixes with your dead skin cells and clogs up hair follicles. Clogged follicles leads to… you guessed it. Acne, pimples, cysts. Ugh.

 

3. Cortisol interrupts the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that relays messages in the brain, including messages about mood, sex drive and function, appetite, and memory among other things. Serotonin is called the “feel good” hormone, and an imbalance may severely influence your mood and drop you into depression.

 

4. One in ten people experience the discomfort of a peptic ulcer. While ulcers are believed to be caused by a bacteria, stress aggravates them. Remember that increase in gastric acid production provided by your friend coritsol? Yup. Not helping. Especially when it’s triggered multiple times daily.

 

These conditions are often self-induced or self-exacerbated. They’re created through habitual negative thought patterns, unreasonable expectations, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

 

You may think that tolerating stress is necessary for your survival: it makes you feel needed, important, alive. And if so, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans interpret stress the same way. The fact is, stress is toxic and has become America’s number one killer.

 

Here’s the good news. It’s not too late to reverse some of the chaos you’ve created in your body and mind. Those dead cells in your hippocampus? They’ll grow back. Those pimples and cysts? They’ll go away. That ulcer? It’ll heal. Depression? You can get through it. But not if you keep doing the same harmful things you’ve been doing. In order to create beneficial change, you need to change your stressful conditions or learn how to live above them. This begins with intentional, compassionate awareness of self and surroundings.

You may have heard of this thing called mindfulness? It can reduce your active cortisol production by 30%. Meditation researcher and expert Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” He also calls it “a radical act of sanity,” and never before have we needed such a radical act. This planet is suffering, threats of terror and destruction pierce daily life, and you don’t have time or resources to fix the problems created by the entire human race. Instead of taking on the burden of healing this collective disaster, you have permission to just work on healing yourself.

The Dalai Lama says, “World peace begins with inner peace.” He’s saying, Listen, y’all. You just do you. Fix your life. Deal with your drama. Everything else will fall into place around you. So say “no” to work. Say “yes” to play. Make time for silence. Spend time in nature. Hug someone. Care for an animal. Eat real food. Listen to your breath. Truly be with your children. Smile at strangers. Forgive your mother. Do nothing and be okay with it. Connect to yourself and others with full presence and compassionate awareness, and see how your world changes.

And when and if you feel compelled to engage a formal meditation practice, your friends at Chrysalis Meditation Center are here to support you. We are intimately familiar with your friend cortisol, because cortisol is our friend, too. In fact, we are so intimate with cortisol that we can see it before it arrives, and a lot of times we can even lower the gate before it floods in. Not because we are especially talented, but because we’re watching it closely. On purpose. Right now. Without judgment.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

http://www.insidethechrysalis.com

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Vanessa Gobes has been researching, reporting, and writing for 20 years: from spotlights on war heroes for her local newspaper, to the history of women’s golf fashion for 19th Hole Magazine, to mindful parenting for Mallika Chopra’s Intent.com. No topic has enthralled her more than mental and spiritual health. In response to this passion, she cofounded Chrysalis Meditation Center, Winchester, Massachusetts in September 2015.

this one goes out to the nobodies

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I’m a house frau.  I live a relatively ordinary suburban life in New England.  Technically speaking, I’m a nobody.  My name has never been in lights, I have about 14 Twitter followers, I have a moderate talent for writing.  But I do have something that makes me very special.  God lives inside of me.  Yep.  Crazy, right?  I mean, I’m not religious.  I don’t even go to church.  I’ve never read The Old Testament or worn a yamaka and I don’t celebrate Ramadan.  But God still hangs out in my heart.  Who’d imagine He’d make time for a nobody like me?  But He does.  Somehow He remembers me.  Everyday He encourages me to be better, to try harder, to do the best I can with the time I have.

Like I said, I’m a writer.  I write about spiritual awakening.  I hope to share my experiences in hopes to inspire others to live more mindfully.  This is my contribution to world peace.  I’d like to grow my audience and my peaceful contribution, but that’s hard to do when you’re a nobody.  But I keep on posting blogs and mailing article submissions to Oprah and creating slightly embarrassing YouTube videos because I care.  Because I want to do my part.  Because if God is going to grace me with the opportunity to live a whole lifetime with His beautiful energy in my heart, I want to do my very best.

I have an affirmation card hanging on my refrigerator that says, “It’s happening.”  I love that card.  It’s powerful.  Every morning I pull out my Stoneyfield Farm Banilla yogurt and think, “Oh yah.  I’ve got to pull my load today because it’s happening.  Can’t let God down.  He knows that I know that He knows that I know.  Time to work.”

So I pick up my phone and reach out to people who know I’m a nobody and cross my fingers that these are the people God wants me to call.  I send emails and fumble around over-designed social media sites, strike up strike up overly-honest conversations after yoga class and take advice from my brilliant sister – all to create connections with the just-right people to help me on my mission.

Sometimes it works (ding ding ding!) and sometimes I’m rejected.  But the rejection doesn’t feel like failure to me.  Rejection isn’t personal.  It’s just a sign that I’m not ready for that experience yet or that I’m sniffing out the wrong lead.

I’m not afraid.  Nope.  No way.  I’m not afraid to try.  Trying is risky because buried inside of the word “try” is the word “fail”.  But also hidden in that word is “Congratulations!  You did it!  You passed!  Now jump back in the game and try something else – there’s a lot of work to do with your life and time’s a-ticking!”  This Nobody’s got her eyes trained on the latter.

formula to help you find your purpose

discovering and following your life’s purpose is formulaic.  pre-algebra-style.  😉  look at this:
equations:
a) identify your god-given gifts
+
b) embrace your gifts and love yourself
=
c) yield a treasury of gifts that are meant to propel you in the direction of your life’s purpose
*****************************************
w) identify your challenges
+
x) realize that these challenges are the only things holding you back
+
y) do something MINDFULLY every day that turns these challenges into assets
+
z) realize that you are more powerful than your challenges
=
c) yield transformation of challenges into a treasury gifts that are meant to propel you in the direction of your life’s purpose
****************************************
solution:
2c = YOU!  (the only thing you need to successfully pursue your life’s purpose)
application:
wrap your gifts up and present them to the world
****************************************
everyone needs purpose.  the longer i live, the clearer this becomes to me.  in my day-to-day actions and interactions, i try my best to be mindful of intent.  intention is key to growth.  if you can’t define what you want and why, how will you get anywhere?  and if we hope to live a full and enriching life, doesn’t it make sense to set a large-scale intent?  we can do so through discovery of purpose.
there are many ways to clarify your purpose in life.  some people just know intuitively.  some people discover through prayer.  some people find their purpose through failure.  i think i’ve used all of these methods – DEFINITELY the failure one.  (uuuuggghhh.)
if you are stuck, try numerology.  it is such a terrific resource.  i use numerology to confirm my purpose, my gifts and my challenges.  and i was amazed how accurate my charts were and how neatly these numbers brought clarity to my ever-questioning mind.  honestly, the numbers pointed to things i already knew about myself.  but they provided me with a vote of confidence and great game plan.
example:
i’m in transition between my 7 pinnacle and my 3 pinnacle.  pinnacles are areas of particular strength over a period of time.  the 7 pinnacle, present for me between ages 27 and 36, is indicative of a time during which i committed myself as completely as i could to study.  i had an intense desire to master a subject, which is dead on.  i ate, breathed, slept spirituality.  loved loved loved it.  and i still do.  the pinnacle periods are peaks, not chronological limitations.
between the ages of 37 and 45, i’ll be experiencing my 3 pinnacle which is a time for the limelight.  this is a period during which i will have heightened creativity and crave lots of social interaction.  again, these are qualities i’ve had for a long time.  i’ve always been a creative person with a big personality.  during this time i will need to remind myself that these are the gifts god has given me and i should not apologize for them.  i will use these gifts with the best intention.
these strengths are umbrellaed by the number 9, my life path number, which represents my life’s purpose.  the 9 energy is that of humanitarianism.  the 9 must serve a cause bigger than the self.  the 9 is big picture, self-sacrificing.  so i can find peace, balance and synchronicity in this life by using my gifts to serve human kind.
but, of course, there are challenges, too.  b/c without challenges, how do we appreciate the journey and learn the lessons?  numerology separates life into thirds to define challenges.  i’m in the second third of my life, when my challenge, the 1, is about will-power and strength.  i need to dig down and find the confidence and discipline to move forth with my purpose.  the energy of discipline is represented by the number 4, a number that is karmically imbalanced for me in this lifetime.  so i know that if i’m going to find success, i need to have confidence in my personal power and consistently work my ass off.  time to bust out the red undies.  😉
from mine to yours,
vanessa
published originally at http://vanessagobes.blogspot.com.