A Time for Restoration

Hello Everyone & Happy Easter!

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I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend and taking time to rest & connect within and with your loved ones.  It is an odd Easter day, but rather peaceful and serene. My husband and I walked the dogs this morning and I could hear every bird and smell Spring and I definitely enjoyed the peacefulness in the air. It is so interesting to be able to feel so peaceful in a moment when such tragedy is upon our globe. I contemplate this often and the idea that we can retreat to the sanctuary within ourselves to find peace in the chaos.

This morning I focused on the word “restoration” during my meditation. I was inspired by what Deepak Chopra was talking about in his 21-day meditation challenge. He has been focusing on hope in the present moment and the power of hope. Today, he talked about the restoration of hope, and then, I really liked the sound of that as I inhaled, “restoration,” and as I exhaled, I imagined all the fear and negativity just coming out of me, like black smoke. If you are interested in this 21-day meditation challenge, it is free, and you can access it here.

 

So, we are a month into this social distancing & quarantining. I think I have officially accepted the change and stopped wrestling with, and resisting it. Sure, I still have moments of anxiety and overwhelm, but all-in-all, we are adaptable beings and the new routine has set in and become sort of familiar. I still am fortunate enough to see about 3-5 clients a day virtually, and when I am not doing Yoga Therapy or personal training sessions with them, I am exercising, cooking, vacuuming dog hair, and taking time in nature. I would be lying if I said this downtime was not enjoyable. While I am deeply saddened by what is going on in the world, I am making the best of the situation by keeping calm, healthy, and deeply connecting with myself and my immediate family.

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This pause has opened my eyes and sharpened my awareness to some negative and self-destructive habits & belief systems that have resurfaced over the past few years. While I work on self growth diligently, and help people with it for a living, I am human and still have flaws and get off track. I am so grateful to be able to observe some of the patterns I have been practicing that are not serving me. This “pause” has given me the opportunity to reflect deeply and to examine patterns that are in need of some shifting.  I wonder if any of you can relate?

 

This pause has shown me that I have unrealistic expectations for myself. It has shown me that my deep belief systems could still use some examining and re-wiring. I struggled the first few weeks to have less clients and less to do. I realized that my self worth may still be a little tied up in how much I do for my business on a day-to-day basis. My wellness business, and more specifically, helping others, which is my purpose & passion that  fuels me. But somewhere along the way, I started to believe that it WAS me. If I am not seeing ‘X’ amount of clients a day, and filling my free-time with trainings, client prep, and lesson plans, than I am not enough. This started to come up as things started to slow down. Rather than judge it, I noticed it, this is the principle of mindfulness. We hustle and we grind to meet these inner expectations, but we completely miss out on life along the way. Who set these expectations in the first place? And why are they there? Are they realistic? Are they reasonable?

 

I love this exercise that I learned in Yoga Therapy school regarding expectations:

 

  1. Take out a piece of paper and list your expectations of yourself.

  2.  Next, examine each one. What belief is behind that expectation? Can you jot it down next to the point?

  3. How does this expectation of yourself bring you closer to your highest self?

  4. Next, rip up this piece of paper. Expectations lead to misery.

You can have goals, sure. You can set mile markers to keep you on track, but know deeply and fully understand why that goal is there and what higher purpose or virtue it serves instead of living your life under unrealistic or unnecessary expectations. These are put there by us as a survival technique, but they don’t have to stay. All it take is a little awareness and re-writing, and you can feel like a weight was lifted off of your shoulders. What would it be like if you just showed up, exactly as you are? I ask myself this, too, and even meditate on it. 

 

Even in this quarantine, we are still doing, doing, doing. We did some house projects, (which is amazingly fun and a great bonding exercise as a couple) and Home Depot was SOLD OUT of Shiplap. Everyone in Loudoun County had the same idea. There is nothing wrong with this, I just observe as a culture how important it is that we all keep so busy, with Zoom happy hours, house projects, homeschooling, working out, etc. Rest is for the wicked. Keep doing, keep proving. 

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This week I focus on restoration. What does it mean to you to restore? Can you take a step back and analyze your routines, your expectations? How can you create more peace in the pause? Just take a moment. What would make your day-to-day operations more joyful, peaceful, or fulfilling? Maybe it’s a walk outside alone. Maybe it’s calling a friend. Maybe it’s sitting on your couch and staring at the wall because that makes you feel peaceful, whatever it is…I invite you to try it. What’s the worst that could happen?

 

I’ll end on a very positive note. This past week, I finished a journal that I have been keeping for a year. It has been a completely positive journal, no negativity or venting, just gratitude and goal setting. As I finished the last page in the journal the other night, I went back and read through it, April 8th 2019, to now. Over this past year, I have grown so much. I have worked so hard to continue changing my narrative from “mentally ill defective child,” to, “whole, radiant and empowering soul.” I realized as I read on, that each day I am showing up to be a better version of myself, to be closest to my highest self. I am learning where my true gifts lie and how to use them, I am connecting more deeply with myself and others, and I am living in the present moment more than I ever have.  I weaned off all psychiatric drugs and was totally medication free by July 4th, 2019. It has been NINE months of no medication (mind you, I had been medicated for 20 years, age 8 to 27). I know I have mentioned this before, but I was told I would NEVER be able to do this successfully. I was told that I was ill and had a condition just like someone has a heart condition. I was told I would most likely not be able to go to college or hold down a job. I was told I was defective. Yes, that is the story I created and I take responsibility for that, but I was told over and over again that I had something chemically wrong with me and that it was unrealistic and impossible to be off medication. Over and over again. 2o years and fifteen to twenty different psychiatric drugs later, depleted white blood cells as a result.  But. here. I. am. Nine months. Not even a Xanax on a hard day. 

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I am not against medicine and fully understand some people need to be on it and it makes people’s qualities of life better. For a period of time, it really helped me, particularly in my adolescence and when I was suicidal. And if I ever need to go back on medicine, it’s nice to know it is there for me as an option. I just didn’t need to continue to be on it and it took an incredible amount of inner work, therapy, and yoga, yoga, yoga, yoga, yoga, yoga, AND MORE YOGA, did I mention I do a lot of yoga for healing? It still takes work. Every day. But I feel whole and I feel radiant and I feel empowered.

 

The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, has a whole new meaning to me. I believed all the psychiatrists from a very young age. It was my story. I am not “healed” and I am not “recovered.” Like an addict, I consistently do cognitive behavioral therapy (yoga) on myself and live a lifestyle that supports the mind, body, and spirit. I continue to re-write my narrative and this pause is a time for me to reflect on it from a different angle and continue growing. 

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What does restoration mean to you? How can you use this time to reflect and restore? I would love to hear from you!

 

Please visit and like my Facebook page to stay up to date with all things empowering through yoga! https://www.facebook.com/EMpowerYogaTherapyVA/

 

Sending you restorative vibes,

 

Maddie Tuohy

Keeping Calm During COVID

Hello Friends~!

 

I hope you are all hanging in there during this strange time in the universe. It has been such an ongoing process for everyone to learn to cope as our reality continues to change and shift each day. It just makes me think of yoga philosophy so much, particularly the kleshas. The kleshas are the eight types of suffering, and one is being resistant to change and attached to what is familiar and routine. The Yoga Sutras teach us that if we are attached to the things that are changing, we will suffer. This is an important thought to ponder. How can we practice non-attachment to change during a time like this? The answer truly lies within each one of you, but today, I want to shed some light on how yoga can help keep you calm & healthy during this turbulent time.

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It is 2020 and the astrologists are saying that the last time the planets were in this alignment, other chaos was upon the earth. I read somewhere that the last time Pluto was in Capricorn, for example, there was the AIDS epidemic. I also read that the last time the planet Eris was where it is now (I believe in Capricorn, but I am no astrology expert!) we had the Trojan War. Whether you follow astrology, or not, it is super interesting to think about. About 100-years ago we had the Spanish Flu, and people walked the streets in masks much like we do now. My point is, history repeats itself, pain and suffering falls upon our nation in a similar fashion. It is how we individually cope with it that makes a difference. How are you reacting? Are you overwhelmed? Buried in fear? Or, just working from home and taking it day by day? 

 

The truth is that everyone is affected. Even if you are still getting paid and have no direct fears, people around you are suffering and we are all one collective in the end. What you do during this time matters. The mindset that you have matters. The way you show up for others to connect and share also matters. 

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I am sure you have read tons of articles, blogs, and news reports telling you to “focus on the positive” and “love on your family.” This is all true,  but I don’t want to be repetitive and demanding, I really just want to share how YOGA (my favorite thing ever) can help you through this time.

 

Yoga is thousands of years old and people have been using it as a spiritual practice and way of living for all of this time to prepare for moments like these. In yoga, the ultimate goal is to become aligned with your higher or divine self (or the divine itself). To completely calm the waves of the mind so that your true self can be present and aware. In yoga, the mind & body are one, but many of us become so disconnected with our monkey minds babbling on due to fear, anxiety, or pain. The monkey mind is the ego part of us, that voice in your head all day long that says things like, “I am not working hard enough,” “I should have called my sister back today,” “I am getting fat working from home.” Basically, the monkey mind tries to distract you from your higher self and the more time you spend on social media and Netflix, the more disconnected you become. This time at home is a great time to reconnect with the part of yourself that is unchanging, the higher you. 

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It’s time to connect! First, connect in with yourself and still the waves of the mind. The easiest way to do this? BREATHING! Pranayama or breathwork is one of the eight limbs of yoga. Breathing is vital to life itself and the breath is our life force. By taking just 5 deep, belly breaths, you can activate your parasympathetic, “rest & digest,” nervous system. This is wonderful news, since as a society, we mostly live in a sympathetic dominant culture, “rush to work, rush home, work more, sleep less, workout more, eat less…,” you get the picture. When you relax your nervous system and switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance, you also enable processes like digestion, deep sleep, and cell restoration. These processes are vital for the body to function well, not to mention immune system strengthening!

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When you take a deep breath & begin to train the lungs to expand and contract for longer periods of time, you increase the amount of oxygen into the lowest parts of the lungs,  strengthening the respiratory system and accessing red blood cells. This can be a great time to begin a daily pranayama practice if you don’t have one already. Try the following exercise every morning when you wake up:

 

Prolonged Exhale:

Find a comfortable seat or lie down on the floor. Place one hand on the belly & one hand on the heart. Start to take really deep breaths, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling through the nose. Notice if the breath is coming from the belly or the chest, and then try to move it down to the diaphragm. This is called diaphragmatic breathing because you are breathing using your diaphragm, instead of taking shallow breaths into your chest.

 

  • Count your inhale and then exhale 3-5 seconds longer than you inhaled for. For example, if you inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 8 or 10 seconds.
  • Complete 10 rounds of prolonged exhale, maybe adding a visual or a mantra, like, ‘inhale peace, exhale stress.’
  • Bring your breathing back to its natural, automatic rhythm, and just notice your mind & body. Has the tension decreased?

 

This exercise stimulates your vagus nerve, which helps relax your nervous system and your gut! I love this exercise and it is also great to do before bed. You can use it when you are stressed, or just add it in to your routine to change your stress response over time. Consistency is key!

 

This is also a good time to nourish the relationships that you do have and reach out to your friends and family on FaceTime, email, or by calling them on the phone. Reconnect with those people that you always felt like you never had time for in your pre-COVID schedule. Now is the time to re-establish those bonds and open up your heart. I have been doing virtual happy hours with friends that I just never seemed to line up schedules with. It has been so fun to reconnect and it brings me joy to interact with people I love!

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Tonight is also a great time to sit down and make a list of things you want to let go of. Today, April 7th, is a pink super moon in Libra. This full moon is a good opportunity to cleanse yourself of anything that is no longer serving you. Maybe make a list of three things to let go of, and tonight before bed, try a little meditation with a centering intention or mantra. Here are some examples of ideas for mantras to use:

 

  1. I love, honor, and accept myself 
  2. I release what is no longer serving me
  3. Let go and grow 
  4. I am present 
  5. I am love
  6. I am safe 
  7. **Create your own**

 

Take time during this slow down to really observe how you show up in your life for you and in your relationships. How can you find more peace in your daily routine? What do you yearn for? As the time slows down, you can really find time to listen. You just have to get quiet enough to hear the answers. 

 

I hope you have found these tips helpful. Please follow along with me on my business Facebook page, by clicking here.

 

I am offering virtual Yoga Therapy & personal training via Zoom at half price. If you are interested, please email me at empowerthroughyoga@gmail.com.

 

Wishing you a month of joy & connectedness. Until next time…

 

With love & light,

 

Maddie Tuohy 

(pictured below, my two rescue babies and I. Hudson is adjusting after only being with us for 3 weeks!)

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