Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blog Posts Have Moved

Hello!  Thank you for visiting my blog.  Going forward, please visit my website www.seattleenergymedicine.com to read all previous blog posts as well as future posts. 
Many thanks!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mind over Body—How Thoughts Can Heal

“Your mind is in every cell of your body” —Candace Pert, Neurobiologist

It’s easy to get attached to the body as only physical because it is so tangible—something you can actually pinch and say, “Yep, that felt real!” But, the real power lies in the mind-body connection, which can never be broken. I had a personal experience of the power of the mind-body connection when my blood tested positive for lupus. I remember coming home from the doctor's appointment and telling my husband. The feeling of defeat was overwhelming as I said the words out loud. I felt life draining right out of me, as if I actually had a leak someplace in my body. I started thinking about how the rest of my life might look. I was alarmed at the number of lives claimed by this incurable disease. I started reading about people leaving jobs and using their long-term disability benefits, which I was very grateful to even have. I had so many concerns going through my head.

A short while after receiving the news of my positive results for lupus, I headed to Hawaii with my daughter—a trip we'd planned many months before. Sitting with her on the beach, going to dinners, shopping, and spending good mom-daughter time together felt more important than ever. I held underlying thoughts of, "Will I be able to do this with her again?" or, "How much longer will I be able to love her, nurture her, be her mom?" There was a heaviness in my heart, and probably hers too, but we didn't talk about it. We just wanted to be on vacation and have fun together.

On our last day on the island, I was feeling pretty energetic so went for a jog. As I ran I thought, I'll be damned it I let this (I decided not to say it at this point) get the best of me! The fight was on. My pace quickened and I ran hard. I started speaking directly to my body. With every stride, I said things like, "My body is filled with pure light" and "My cells are in perfect health." As I said the words, mentally as well as out loud, I imagined being filled with a white liquid. I had a vision like that old commercial of scrubbing bubbles eating away the grime and leaving a perfectly shiny surface. I had scrubbing bubbles eating away the darkness and making room for light. And somehow I knew I had to stop saying the word, lupus. Saying it gave it energy, life. I felt the fight emerging inside me. I'd be damned if I had lupus.

A few weeks later, I had a follow up to see a rheumatologist to review my final test results. My husband came along. After explaining the numbers—the lows, average, and highs—the doctor finally said, "I am not going to diagnose you with lupus. Keep doing what you're doing. Your numbers have improved. So for now, I am calling it a predisposition. But you do not have lupus." I looked at my husband and we both let out a breath of relief. We were speechless. I knew my mind had just showed my body who was boss! I felt a tingle run along my spine and a sense of knowing overcame me. Although I believed it was possible, there must have been a hint of doubt, because I was in a bit of shock. I'd just proven to myself that I could in fact heal my body.

My practice to “keep doing what you’re doing” meant to alleviate as much stress from my life as possible.  One step at a time, I made big and small changes.  I left the career that, albeit stressful, had served me so well.  At the time, I didn’t have tools to manage the stress that came along with that job.  But now I do.  I meditate and pray—with real effort and commitment—practice yoga on a regular basis, eat food to help reduce inflammation in my body, and I try to exercise more often. 

One thing I’ve learned is that stress never leaves us.  The difference now is that I have more self-awareness, which means that I pay attention (sooner) to the messages from my body. And I have tools to manage the inevitable stress that comes with being human.

A daily tool I use is the Mind-Body-Spirit Scan.  I ask myself three questions first thing, throughout the day as often as I can remember, and at the end of the day: 1) Am I having good thoughts and a positive attitude? 2) Am I eating good food and moving my body?; and 3) Am I sitting in stillness, even for just a little bit?  

The MBS Scan is your accountability partner, sort of like a coach or mentor.  It keeps you aware of areas you might be neglecting so you can make little adjustments along the way. 

—Excerpt from my forthcoming book, It’s Not About You: How to Stop Taking Things Personally by Taking Personal Responsibility

Friday, June 14, 2013

Trinity of Truth Tip: Don’t Be a Victim Junky

In my old job, when I’d let things get the best of me, I had thoughts like, “This job is killing me” or “I hate it here” or “I hate the people I work with."  Although I was expressing how I really felt inside (in that moment at least) these thoughts only added to my misery.  I knew this sort of thinking was not good for me (or anyone else) but it was like an addiction, a bad habit, that I couldn’t control.  It felt good in the moment, like any other feel-good addiction, but the hangover of this negative cocktail was hell.  I always felt worse after spewing.  I needed help.

After seeking guidance and reading books on how to help myself, I came across an exercise that helped me clear out this negative behavior.  It’s easy to do and goes like this.  Take a regular piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.  On the left write a belief that feels negative.  On the right, write an opposing (positive) statement. 

Here’s an example:

On the left side of the paper, “I hate my job and it drags me down” and on the right "My job is uplifting and fulfills me” on the first line.  The second line, “People are out to get me at work” with “I trust everyone I work with” to the right.  Continue with up to ten (negative and positive) statements. 

Yes, I know, it feels like a lie.  It is.  Do it anyway.  The point of this exercise is to force the negative thoughts out so positive thoughts (energy) can work their way into your subconscious mind—where addictions brew.  The real trouble comes when you share this (negative) brew with others.  And just like an alcoholic partying out of control, you will be met with strong resistance when you attempt to dilute the brew, or worse, threaten to throw it out.  But, eventually, if you stick with the exercise of writing a positive statement to oppose the negative statement, the evil little gremlins, bored and in need of a new thrill, will leave the party.  And you will have cultivated a new belief system in their place.  A more positive thought process. A new behavior.

When I first started doing this exercise my husband thought I was delusional. He especially thought I was crazy when I said over and over, "I love my co-workers and trust them implicitly" because he knew that one of my major sources of suffering at work, which he had personally witnessed more than a few times, was getting sabotaged by one particular co-worker.  I couldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her.  Heck, I couldn’t even pick her up if I tried, let alone throw her.  I didn’t trust her even when she was standing right next to me.  She was smart—intellectually, but worse, like a fox. I even agreed with my husband sometimes, that I was likely losing my mind. But I kept at it—this left/right exercise.  After about a week I no longer needed to write things down but did the exercise mentally, which, I was surprised to find, had more staying-power. 

In my heart, I knew my words and thoughts held power to shift my reality.  Life had taught me this already.  And being a naturally optimistic person, my negative attitude, my addiction, was deeply disturbing and crippling.  I knew better, yet I allowed negative thoughts to trap me in the role of victim, the “poor ole me” mentality anyway. Instead of working to change (improve) myself, I was blaming others for my troubles.   But by focusing on the positive statements, I was soon empowered because I was beginning to regain some control.  The addiction of negative thinking and defensive behavior was losing its hold.  Momentum kicked in.  I was on the road to recovery.

Once I stopped reacting to other people’s behaviors my reality dramatically shifted.  If, for example, my nemesis challenged me during a meeting and tried setting me up; in other words, sabotaging me with her specialty—passive-aggressive behavior—I let her.  There’s something about stepping aside and letting a steam-roller pass on by.  You don’t get smashed.  And, in its fury to do harm and blinded by its passion to smash things, the steam roller loses its way and crashes into a cement wall, all by itself.  Once I stopped reacting, my co-worker’s attempts to rile me up became futile.  When I didn’t bite; she stopped fishing in this pond.  She lost steam.  She left me alone.

It is not your job to try to change others.  The more you try, the worse you feel.  And the more you blame other people for your troubles the deeper your victim roots grow.  But the truth is, jerks are jerks.  Period.  All you can do is get out of their way and stop being an easy victim.  Just like any other addiction (to alcohol, drugs, sex, food or any other thing that controls you) victimhood robs you of your power.

When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot.”  —The Dalai Lama

Bring to mind a difficult relationship or situation.  On the left of your paper write negative statements and on the right, the positive opposing statement.  As you go through your day, focus on the right side of the paper! 

One last tip: Review your positive statements and see if you can come up with one statement to use as a mantra. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trinity of Truth Tip: Negative Feedback is an Opportunity for Improvement

In my old job, I sometimes took on the role of internal quality auditor to help prepare the company for external (customer-driven) audits. Many of the "negative" findings from an audit were called “Opportunities for Improvement” or an OFI.  After identifying the opportunities, ideas on making improvements were discussed.  The intention was never about pointing fingers or making people feel bad, but about improving efficiency. The improvement could have been changing a process, revising a workflow or developing a new communication plan. It’s the same with self-improvement work.

Uncovering and clearing out our “negative” stuff—and we all have some—is how we make room for the new life skills discovered on our self-improvement journey. Self-improvement (or self-help) starts with self-awareness.  You could think about self-awareness work as the (always friendly and helpful!) auditor pointing out areas in need of guidance, that’s it.  Self-awareness does not mean to be self-critical; it simply means getting to know your process for life.  Understanding how you process life experiences gives you an opportunity to improve your life, by looking at your life more objectively.

Try looking at negative feedback you get from others as an exercise to become more self-aware.  Maybe there’s some truth to what’s being said, maybe not.  It doesn’t matter.  Think about how what’s being said makes you feel.  See if you can step away and look at the experience as an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Are you taking something personally?  Are you feeling defended? Can you simply observe without reacting? Can you turn a “negative” situation into an opportunity for personal growth?

The negative experience could be an invitation to “take the high road” or a lesson on how not to be so affected by the behaviors of others.  It could be that something someone said triggered an emotional reaction on your part because there’s some truth to what was said.  Either way, work to be objective, like the auditor.  Examine situations by looking for “opportunities for improvement” in all your interactions.  One helpful tip in gaining objectivity is to watch the scene, conversation, or experience like a movie—step back and away so you can see the whole picture.

If we can look at life’s hardships and difficult relationships as opportunities for growth instead of complaining, blaming, and judging ourselves and others, we find many opportunities for improvement!
“One of most useful projects you could undertake is to change how you feel about negative feedback.  Think of it as “improvement opportunities.”  ~ Jack Canfield


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Supper's Ready! Let's Eat.

In the throes of life’s challenges it’s especially difficult to be “present” to the moment.  And the pain and suffering felt in the here and now is often due to some situation or experience from the past.  The problem with this (ruminating over the past) is that our future looks bleak too: “If today sucks so bad what’s tomorrow going to bring?” is the thinking. This thinking limits us from seeing a bright future and causes us to succumb to the role of victim, today, in this moment. 

Being hungry growing up I stopped looking forward to tomorrow—dreading another day without food.  Oftentimes, I’d just go to bed to sleep it (the pangs of hunger) off.  It never worked. Going dormant for a while helped a little but it wasn’t lasting. My belly still growled when I woke up.    

It’s the same when dealing with any sort of suffering—hunger or otherwise.  You’ve got to hunt for “food” or ask someone to help you find it if you want to survive, if you don’t want to be the victim and starve.

The “starving” can be caused by any issue that’s got a hold on you, anything that’s preventing you from living your best self.  You might not even know what your “best self” life looks like but to find it you’ve got to go looking for it.  Going into hibernation (because it’s a scary world out there!) might help for a little while, but you need some sustenance when you come to.  You need some "food."

That’s what my books, The Eight Aspects of God, A Pathway to Bliss, (Nov. 2012) and It’s Not About You, How to Stop Taking Things Personally by Taking Personal Responsibility (soon to be released) are about.  Helping you on your hunt!

Please join me on Tuesday, April 16th, on The Anthony Hidalgo Show, to discuss The Eight Aspects of God, and again May 4th and 5th at East West Bookshop of Seattle to see if any of the tools I’ve used to feed myself can feed you. 

We’re all doing the best we can on any given day, but reaching out for support is a necessary part of finding our way through all the muck.  I believe that as we find ways to help ourselves, we are obligated to pass this knowledge forward—each doing our little part to feed the world, by feeding one another.  

Supper’s ready!  Let’s eat. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It’s Not About the Bunny

Recently, I've seen the same “inspirational quote”—you know the ones on Facebook with those pretty images—several times in reference to Easter (because it’s just a few days away!) that reads, “It’s not about the bunny” and immediately thought, ”No, it isn’t, but why can’t we just stop already and have some simple fun?” 

Everyone knows what this Sunday (Easter) is all about—Jesus. But, what’s the big deal about going on an egg hunt?  And why try making people (who hunt eggs and eat chocolate bunnies) feel guilty by plastering comments that don’t really “say” what you really want to say?  I believe in Jesus and you don’t; therefore, I think you’re a bad person.”  Come on.  What hypocrisy! 

Honestly, Easter is (of course!) about Jesus, but also an American tradition that's good ole simple fun.  In fact, many Christian-based churches (globally) hunt eggs after Sunday's service.  I’ve seen it many times with my own eyes.  And I’ve never heard the preacher preaching; “Now kids, it’s not about the bunny!” Seriously, can we all just lighten up a little and enjoy some community? 

Building community is important to our health and happiness and adds years to your life.  Many scientific studies have shown this to be true (you can find credible studies on the Internet).  Accepting others for who they are—as they are (believer or not)—builds compassion, connection, and unity.  On an energetic level, when we judge others it blocks energy in the third chakra, which is associated with your sense of self-worth and self-respect (you know better than to judge others so you end up judging yourself later ...or worry about the looming judgment awaiting you at the gates of Heaven) and the throat chakra takes a huge hit (because that's where the bad thought oozes out as words that hurt others).  Being in community (regardless of the reason) supports your root chakra which, in turn, nurtures your sense of belonging (which further strengthens your sense of worth (third chakra) and your sense of love at the heart chakra).  Bottom line, celebrating Easter—with everyone for every reason—is good for you!

And nowadays, with all the virtual “friendships” many of us hardly leave the house to commune in person at all.  Let’s embrace this time, not only to celebrate Jesus, but as a chance to mingle and laugh and enjoy each other’s uniqueness.  And be bold by expressing your Jesus-self—love everyone equally.  Heck, Jesus loves lepers, whores, drunks, the homeless, the rich, the impoverished, and even criminals.  Jesus loves everyone.  Jesus is about compassion, love, understanding; not judgment.  He would deny no one the chance to commune.  Quite the opposite.

Actually, if it takes an Easter bunny to bring people together, I’m pretty sure Jesus would approve.  He likes that sort of thing ….watching his children play nice in the sandbox.

Happy Easter and egg hunting to all my friends and family who believe in Jesus, who have other beliefs, or who have no beliefs at all.  Like Jesus, I love you all the same!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Breathing for Stress Reduction

 * Onsite Classes *

Breathing for Stress Reduction     _______________________________________________________________________________________

Reduce stress as you cultivate a sense of balance and peace. Using just a few simple breathing techniques experience:

·        Deep relaxation as your body releases tension

·        Improved concentration and creativity as your mind lets go of churning thoughts

·        Inner stillness as you connect with higher, calmer, states of consciousness
Breathing techniques may include:
·        Even-count Breathing
·        Alternate Nostril Breathing
·        The Breath of Fire
·        The Full Yogic Breath
·        The Circle of Joy
WHEN: Weekdays  |  WHERE: Your Location (ex: Office, School, Medical Center, Community Center)

COST:  $225.00—groups    |    $125.00—individual    |   volume discounts available
To Schedule:  email: info@seattleenergymedicine.com   |  phone 206.708.3277

Ruthie Stender is a certified meditation teacher and registered yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance®, author of "The Eight Aspects of God, A Pathway to Bliss" and monthly columnist for New Spirit Journal. 
Drawing on over twenty years in the business world—and understanding that a company's success is achieved through happy and healthy employees—Ruthie's classes are designed to help reduce stress while improving morale, concentration and creativity. She teaches you how to attain an overall sense of balance using simple and easy-to-learn breathing techniques. 

"So long as you have breath, you have a tool—something to work with."
                                                                  ~ Ruthie Stender