Filling a Hole with Mindfulness

I woke up at the beginning of this week and felt a hole.

No, not some metaphorical emptiness in my soul, but a literal hole. In my tooth. After a day of dwelling over what my tongue had found, I confirmed it with the weirdest selfie I’ve ever taken. There it was, at the back of my mouth, my tooth – with a hole in it.

If you are new to my blog, you may not understand the dread and panic this sparks in my mind. To sum up shortly, dental work is one of my most hated experiences. The claustrophobia I experience turns on a mighty strong panic response before I even sit in the chair.

So a few days of tormenting myself by periodically checking the hole with my tongue and lamenting the fact that it wasn’t going away, I called to make a dental appointment like a “responsible adult”.

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By the time I got to the appointment my heart was beating so rapidly I could hear it, my feet were sweating, and my stomach aching. I took a few moments in my car to breathe, and then faced the fact that these sensations weren’t going anywhere and reluctantly made my way into the office.

Now, my old self would have been convinced this was going to be a disaster. She believed that in order to be courageous you had to get rid of the fear. She figured that in order to do well you had to feel well. And that if I still felt panicky, there was no way I’d be able to be calm. She would have stayed in the car. Correction, she wouldn’t have even made the appointment.

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So I took my dragon self into the appointment, full on owning the fact that “this is hard for me but I am doing it anyway”… not even hiding it with the receptionist who was simply asking the usual platitude of ‘how are you’ before checking me in. When I’m nervous I tend to talk.. A lot. You could probably even call it rambling 🙂

Throughout the procedure today I was shaking; sometimes more than others, but pretty consistently shaking. This may sound like a failure in the whole goal of calmness, but I don’t see it that way. Despite my body’s reaction to the situation, I was able to calm my mind. Not for the whole appointment, but on quite a few occasions. Stress may have put me in the chair (the hole most likely caused by stress-induced jaw clenching apparently), but it was in that chair that I could practice calm.

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I’ve been a very dedicated yogi over the last month and have also been sitting in meditation daily (sometimes more than once). I have noticed it overflowing into my everyday mindset and how I approach situations – but this was the first time I could really see it make a huge difference.

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I found myself in the chair, closing my eyes, and focusing on all the sounds I could hear. I practiced leaning into the different sensations of my body (from the shaking legs, to the feel of the drill). I became aware of all the different places I was tensing up and took time to breathe into every part, relaxing wherever possible. When I noticed my thoughts racing, I brought my attention back to the sounds, my breath, or the different sensations.

It was a deliberate intention to use mindfulness to help myself through the appointment, but the practice itself felt natural, unforced, and deliciously familiar.

And I thought to myself, “this is why it’s so important to train”. The more familiar I become with meditation and approaching life and my experiences in a mindful way, the easier it is to draw on it when things are really challenging. The easier it is to access my ‘new brain’ even when I’m teetering on the edge of ‘old brain’. I am able to calm my body and calm my mind, even if only temporarily or to a certain degree, with mindfulness…. AT THE DENTIST!

I feel like I have superpowers.

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Now my strength, courage, and mindfulness practice can take most of the credit for doing so awesome in the dental chair; however, I attribute a lot of my comfort and feeling of safety to my dentist as well.

I have had many dentists over the years; most have been impatient with me (like the one who rage quit and threw the bite block across the room), unwilling to make adjustments to help ease my panic (like not using the rubber dam when it’s not needed, or having the head of my chair a bit more tilted up, etc), all in all some downright added to my anxiety levels instead of easing them. The dentist I had right before the amazing Dr. Hakimi actually refused to make any adjustments and responded to my fears by telling me I was too anxious to do procedures without being sedated (which I actually tried with her, and ended up still panicking through the whole thing, and was sick to my stomach from the drugs..which, again, if you know me.. that’s phobia #1).

Instead of helping me when I felt weak, she insisted on making me feel weaker. She didn’t let me be heard, she didn’t support the adjustments I knew would help me be successful, and overall I felt unsafe and weak.

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On the other hand, Dr. Hakimi listens to me, was more than happy to make adjustments, is caring and supportive throughout the procedures, and is extremely encouraging. I never feel my strongest in the dental chair, but he helps me see my strength. He empowers me, by helping me stay connected to that strong and healthy part of me – the part that knows that I can do this despite the fear – the part that can help me through those challenging situations. Having his support and staying connected to that dragon part of me is what made it possible for me get through procedures (even a root canal) without any drugs at all. I am truly grateful for his kindness and patience, and mostly for his ongoing support and ability to connect with the dragon while it’s shaking in his chair.

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And like any good dragon does after kicking some serious ass, they celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than with a delicious pumpkin spice treat?

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Are We There Yet?!

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The unrealistic, yet ever present, desire for instant results.

I feel this as my pulse becomes rapid and my breath becomes shallow. I feel this as a rush of thoughts that flood my mind that nothing is different, that I’ve failed. I feel it as an overwhelming feeling of panic and disappointment as I try to figure out how I can do everything – yesterday.

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All of these extreme feelings and thoughts and judgments, when it’s actually been less than two days since I finished my job. Not even a full weekend has gone by and I’m freaking out that I’ve failed at this new life.

I hear the ridiculousness. I see the irrational thoughts and judgments. Yet, I still feel them as if they are the truth. It takes a lot of effort and mindfulness to see them for what they are, let them be there, and not get pulled down by them. To acknowledge with gentleness. And then when I do see it, not to beat myself up for being ridiculous.

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It’s understandable this pull that we should be there the moment we start. I’m starting to hear these feelings and thoughts as annoying kids in the backseat whining out every few minutes “Are we there yet?!?!” (yes, in the whiny cringe-worthy voice you just heard in your head).

The responsible adult in the driver seat knows it takes time to get there. They know it isn’t realistic to expect to be there. They even find themselves frustrated with those kids incessantly asking for something so unreasonable. And yet, no amount of convincing will make those kids not want to be there now. All they know is that they just want to be there, so anything that’s not there is intolerable.

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I get it head, I do. I get it you unrealistic parts of me that just want to get the fuck on with this. But I am also the adult. And I will try to bring compassion to both, try to understand where they are coming from without letting those voices convince me something is terribly wrong because we aren’t there yet. I have to keep reminding myself of what I know. Lay down the judgement, listen for feedback. Let the kids complain, but keep myself focused on the road in front of me. Know I’m headed in the right direction. It just takes time.


And if that doesn’t work, I’m getting earplugs.

Be Fierce. It’s your turn.

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Well, it’s time. Time to officially go for it.

Over the last few months I’ve been gaining experience as a Life Coach and I have absolutely fallen in love with coaching.

I truly love the process of holding space for others; helping them take a big picture view at their lives, identifying areas where they can take action, supporting them in realizing their goals, and seeing the positive effects and growth that come when they start being their most fierce self, and working towards living a life they love!

It’s with much excitement that I am announcing the launch of..

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I am confident that coaching is my calling because I feel centered, passionate, and inspired when in the coaching zone. I feel so “me” and it makes me ridiculously happy that I am truly starting to be me – the Dragon me – in all parts of my life.

“Happiness is when what you THINK, what you SAY, and what you DO are in HARMONY”  Mahatma Ghandi

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What Coaching Is To Me

“My purpose is to develop authentic connections, and to inspire and empower others to live authentic, fulfilled lives.” 

My approach to coaching is to guide you to greater self-awareness, direction, and joy; while providing strategies that will make a difference in your everyday life. To help you view the whole picture, while being able to zoom in and focus on actionable steps for real, tangible, progress.  It is my intention to use the skills I have developed to empower you to create a life you are excited to live!

If you are interested in learning more about Life Coaching with The Mindful Dragon please click here.

You’ve done enough waiting, it’s time to start living.

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Finding Stillness in Discomfort

A few weeks ago I took up a “mental workout” class – aka Yin Yoga. If you’ve never had the pleasure (and pain) of doing such a class, let me explain.

Yin Yoga involves passive, yet challenging, poses that you hold for 3-10 minutes. The goal is to find your edge, lean into it, and stay still (not to move or even fidget) until it’s time to switch poses. Oh, and stay present with your breath and body sensations so you make sure to endure all of it without escaping to some daydream. On the surface it sounds like a relaxing class, a break from the usual higher intensity yoga class. I can assure you it’s different, but in no way less challenging. I find it the most challenging class of the week.

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It’s tough – and I know as we approach minute 6 in Dragon Pose (I know, ironic eh?), the moment that I want to get up and walk out, the moment I swear I’m going to start sobbing – that’s the moment I know how much I need to do this.

When I’m shaking and wincing and resisting the discomfort, that’s when I know how good this is for me. When my mind starts to race and fear thoughts flood in around what those body sensations mean, I know how necessary and how powerful this practice is. I can tell what this practice will do for me – how much growth potential it holds.

My mind is shouting at me to get up – and I know I’m exactly where I should be.

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Just being able to see that is powerful to me. I am no longer defined by what thoughts are there in that moment. There is enough space between me and those fear thoughts that I can have them and still know what I know. I am not my thoughts. That in itself is a huge relief, it helps me even begin this practice. It helps me see the possibility of not reacting to them. I may not always succeed in finding stillness and calm with fears swirling in my mind, but I at least know it’s a possibility.

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Learning to feel intense physical sensations and observe- not react or pull away from them – just observe and stay present with it. Feel it fully without resisting it or trying to change it.

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Pretty much a perfect exercise for someone working on dealing with anxiety or panic attacks in a different, mindful way. I highly recommend this for anyone in this situation. What amazing practice it gives you in finding calm through uncomfortable and intense sensations -such a useful skill to have when panic or anxiety arises. Instead of listening to the voice screaming at you to leave the restaurant or believing the panic that tells you there’s something seriously wrong with you, you can use those skills to sit with what comes and not be afraid of the discomfort.

To find calm among the crashing waves – not by rushing to shore – but instead learning to keep swimming as the waves crash against you.

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A few weeks into this practice of accepting and leaning in to discomfort is starting to help me sit with uncomfortable feelings off the mat; to accept thoughts and feelings just as they are. I am able to stay present with my feelings and acknowledge them for just being what they are- instead of making a judgment on what they mean or what they say about me as a person. I’m letting them be there, as uncomfortable as they may be. I’m not pulling away, I’m not avoiding.

I’m leaning in and finding stillness.