Friday, January 8, 2021

Inducing Stress and Lessons Learned


Stacy Mizrahi

I grew up not knowing how to deal with stress. As a consequence,  I became a person who let his emotions run his life. I couldn't leave things at work. I couldn't even deal with the stress while at work. My ADHD  also complicated matters, as my focus would get derailed, I would slide into negative behaviors and my performance would become degraded. My solution to stress was sometimes healthy - like exercise. And other times not so healthy, like drinking, caffeine,  and internet surfing. 

Mediation and Yoga gave me something new - a mindfulness practice to help center myself. The idea was not stress avoidance - although they can sometimes achieve that. Rather, the practice became more like training my brain to cope. Stress is an encompassing experience - your brain and body all of the sudden shift into a different gear and you no longer feel in control. But you actually are! You may not have control of circumstances, but you have control over how you deal with with those stressful events. You might be able to manage to external stressors, but you can always manage the way you deal with them. Like hitting the ball of a tee, the practice over time makes you better at hitting the ball. The practice of yoga, over time, can help you ride out the emotional waves and bring you back to center  - and perhaps even make you calm in the storm. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

My Hiking Adventures


Stacy Mizrahi

Last week, I was mentioning to someone that when I was in the midst of my panic attacks back in 2017, I began noticing that my normally relaxing hiking trips no longer worked! After a lot of self work, I've been hiking again and finally finding that serenity I normally experience while in the woods.  I believe that serenity isn't something that you escape to, rather its a state of mind that you achieve after putting in a lot of work.  Hence, I could only enjoy the outdoors when I was able to tame the anxiety.  If I used the outdoors as anxiety relief, eventually the impact subsides and I was left "going through the motions", unable to appreciate the beauty around me. 

Last year I decided to put a page together so I could catalog my hikes, both past an present. When you see them all together on one page, it's a pleasant reminder of how dedicated I've been to my outdoor explorations. I have ton of hikes to upload, so its going to be a process to get them all on.   In addition, I've been contributing to the Hiking Project - which is a noble effort to document the trail systems that no one else knows about! 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Walking Meditation


Stacy Mizrahi

Walking meditations seem all the rage these days, but I sometimes wonder how many people who claim to do the meditation part are REALLY surrendering to the walk. By surrender, I mean embracing the mindfulness of that one should be focusing on. Walking is easy, keeping your mind to the experience can be a challenge for many. I'm a seasoned hiker and even I find myself slipping into the world of internal monologue and  "holodeck" illusions where my mind is not in the moment. 

I think the trick to walking meditations is to eliminate monotony by constantly checking in with the senses. What am I  seeing? What am I feeling?   Did my dog just eat a frog?  No!? Lets take a deep breath. Mindful movement is not much different than than what one experiences in Yoga or traditional meditation. You can't get "lazy", meaning you can't let the exercise become separate from the workings of the mind. Both work in unison, and it requires effort on the part of the meditator to keep the focus on the present.  All to often we use that walk as a way to get away from ourselves. But the walking meditation is a walk TO our present, to the only time and place where we ever really are. We must use the experience of walking as the focus. By paying close attention to our movements and  inner state, along with all the sounds and sensations of the environment, we become “in the moment.”

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Summer of Solitude was Anything But!

 This COVID 19 world was suppose to be a great many things. One would expect that a global pandemic would have me locked down in quiet solitude, adopting a bunker mentality while I await the "all clear" from medical professionals. And certainly there were a few aspects of my lifestyle that had damaged my socialization, such as my mediation group,  therapy and congregation to ZOOM.  

But in other areas we've been using social distancing practices to stay in communication with support group members and friends.  One of my groups has been meeting at a local lakefront, which I found to be a great socialization outlet. There is only so much you can do on a ZOOM session, and I think the benefits of having human interaction are immediately evident to all who congregate (in a socially responsible way). We immediately can see body language, observe feelings and provide encouragement - which are areas that get inhibited on ZOOM sessions. 

Thanks in part to my daughters instance on getting a dog, I've been walking it ever day( despite my battle with plantars facscitis). Unlike leisure  walking, I've discovered that dog walking actually invites conversation with neighbors who would have otherwise just allowed me to continue walking. 

The family has also been taking advantage of the summer sun and getting more beach time in at my brother-in-laws place. It's been great for my daughter, who - other than her summer camps, has been relatively hunkered down all summer. It's not an ideal socialization strategy but sometimes you have to take the lemons and make lemonade. 


Monday, March 23, 2020

Corona is a Great Time to Find Some Peace!

Stacy Mizrahi
Yeah, I'm still telling you anyway!
I had a great yoga session this morning - from the comfort of my living room watching a YouTube yogi and shared the experience with my wife and 10 year old daughter.  It was a quick 20 minute session that we all got through. In the time after the session, I reflected on the fact that, in this time of social distancing, that I felt "in-tune", realizing that there are others out there that can tap into an endless supply of endorphins through this simple practice. I may not be able to talk to them, but I can understand that, at some level, those who practice yoga and be a part of this spiritual network.

I remember reading a book by Mark Epstein where he discusses going on isolation meditation retreats where no talking is allowed. Through social  deprivation, the mind opens up to listening - as if the ego gets to go on vacation and the senses fill the void. We may not be going to such extremes, but I feel as if this mass pandemic might be a way of getting comfortable with that unpleasant house guest: our own minds. Rather than running to the distractions to kill the uncomfortable silence, perhaps simply embracing isolation might be the healthiest thing we can all do. For when we close our eyes and listen, we might find that there is something much larger there than the void that our brains keep telling us.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Where Does Your Energy Go?

Stacy Mizrahi
I heard a great line from my yoga instructor and I wanted to pass it along.
What you focus on is where your energy goes. 
 It's so simplistic and yet perhaps the best cognitive tool ever spoken.  In the practice of yoga, we have to be mindful of where we are putting all of our focus. Focus on the wrong thing, and you'll either miss a useful detail about the practice or fall flat on your face. But that lesson isn't just about yoga. It is really about everything we do.  I can't tell you how many times I've felt exhausted coming home from work, not having really exerted myself physically. The exhaustion was all from my mental gymnastics. Having moved my focus intently around a various projects, I felt deflated and tired. The brain can drive the body into exhaustion without lifting a finger!

So at any given moment, check in and see where your thoughts are at. Do your thoughts belong there? Is this focus a good use of your mind? It's this exercise of  mindfulness  that can help right the course. In that split second, the the goal driven executive functions are checking to make sure the monkey brain isn't driving the car into a ditch. Reflect on where your focus is, on where you are exerting your energy. If it isn't in the right  area, it's time to correct the course!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Get 2020 Going Right with Free Yoga!

Stacy Mizrahi Yoga
I am cheap. While I do frequently pay for many services, getting things for free is always preferred. And given this digital age of abundance, it's worth noting that many quality things can be had for free. I the area of anxiety and stress, a person can simply just jump put to YouTube and get some great Yoga instruction.  So what are you waiting for? Add Yoga to your 2020 resolutions and check out these channels!

Yoga With Adrienne 

Adrienne has been on YouTube for quite some time now, and her content is stellar. If you are a noob, her channel is the best starting point. She doesn't do aggressive postures and spends a lot of time stressing mindfulness during her flow.   Adrienne does frequent 30 day challenges that can ease you into a practice and help build a good foundation.

Sarah Beth Show

Sarah's channel is great in that she really spends time talking about mechanics on many of her flows.  She does voice overs on her videos, which allows her to craft some quality instruction and overlay it on top of movements. Sarah also has recorded some pretty challenging sessions but she also offers alternatives for those needing a lighter approach.

Yoga With Tim

Tim has really kicked my ass on a few of his videos. While he does do some lighter flows, his vids will likely get you sweating. He tends to move at a quicker pace than the aforementioned channels, so I would recommend "graduating" to him after you've gotten your feet wet.

Brett Larkin Yoga

You can tell Brett is a committed teacher because her videos are heavily focused on instruction.  I like this channel for getting my head around the terminology and technique. Great channel for those wanting to take their yoga to a higher level.