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.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Giving Thanks Should Happen Every Day

Stacy Mizrahi  with Family

It's weird to think that one day a year, everyone in the United States gets together with family and "Gives Thanks" for everything they have. I guess the rest of the rest of the 364 days we are just selfish automatons living some hedonistic,forsaken lifestyle.

A while back, someone had coached me to start my morning with a journal entry to think of something I am grateful for.  I would wake up, grad my journal and just think for a moment. I was never at a loss for gratitude, and if I worked too hard at it I would be overwhelmed with the great things in my life. I have great health, family, well-being, the list goes on. The exercise of gratitude is in contrast to the more common pessimism that inhabits our daily lives. The is always something missing, something not good enough, something not up to par or something wrong. I believe a lot of this thought comes from our ever-present marketing culture. The very nature of the sales pitch is to fill a need, and that need has to be established by getting you to admit something is lacking. It's no wonder that every advertisement is trying to make you fit, brighten your yellow teeth, fix your medical problems, get you a new widget to replace your run down widget.  And so we go about our day, thinking about our shortcomings and thinking about a way to fix things.

Gratitude is the ultimate surrender to want. If desire is the path to suffering, what better way to avoid needless self destruction than to simply be grateful when ever possible.
”A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity."- Buddha
And indeed there is much to be grateful for. Simply uttering one thing out loud can change your mood entirely. If you doubt me, stop reading right now and try it. Surely you can think of one thing. Perhaps you can look out your window and see a blue sky, and this natural wonder brings you joy. Or maybe it's your happy dog wagging is tail. Or your child who hugs you when you come home. Say what you are grateful for out loud, and the pleasure of this thought takes hold of you and brings joy and happiness. All the want in your life gives way to the abundance of the now. The mental concoctions of need and want are reduced to  abstract fantasies . This, in short, is mindfulness in action. You choose to forego suffering for the the current, for the rewards sitting in your lap.

Enjoy your Turkey Day, but understand that you don't need to pass the cranberry sauce to find the joy of Thanksgiving - it can be a blessing for you any day if you are willing to practice it! 

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Webs We Weave

Stacy Mizrahi
I bumped into someone the other day whom I hadn't seen in over a year. He came from a pretty troubled past, yet here he was working at his job and had his life together.  This guy knew struggles, much of his life had been a series of struggles that would crush most people. Yet, I stood before him and took in his smile.  I think there is no better gift in human existence, the warmth of an authentic smile that comes from hard life experience. That guy earned his expression, and I doubt few could understand it. When you scratch you way out of true despair, every day onward is a good day.

In this day of digital networks, I often advocate digital minimalism to anyone who will listen. Cast away the social networks and texting (best visualized  chanting  a monk robe). By raising your level of personal interaction with people, you are rewarded in ways that extend beyond notions of friendship of acquaintance. I can't express how important community is in living a healthy life.  Having a support network helps a person grow. But it also makes a person within the network be both a student and a teacher. Helping others exercises our altruistic and keeps our egos in check. We learn from both ourselves and from others.

Sunday, September 15, 2019


Stacy Mizrahi
Live with Intentions. Did I intend to be in the middle of this river? (Yes!) 

In my writings, I tend to stress many organizational related subjects, such as goal setting, mindfulness and planning. There is a common umbrella topic that all these things have: Intentonality.  I think intentional behavior is perhaps the one thing you should reflect on the most if  your struggling with difficult feelings This has its roots in the nature of habit forming. Habit forming develops in a separate area of the brain than our other cognitive functions, so when I’m sure my autonomous behaviors are driving me to feeling like Nietzschian trope, I immediately reflect on my current state and unpack my mindfulness.

Everything that makes up your ability think and act, the so called “executive thinking” , sits at the front of your skull while the habit forming behaviors behaviors are stored in your so-called lizard brain(its actually the Stratium which sits above it). These brain functions work hand-in-hand, meaning that your executive reasoning takes into account your primal thoughts (pain, pleasure, habits and routines) before making decisions. If you don't exercise critical thought, you might be prone to being in auto pilot. Ever drive out of your house to all of the sudden arrive at your destination without any memory of the trip there? Routines are like that. The reason routines are so pragmatic in sports is because it stops that few milliseconds of executive functioning that might slow down performance. That so called muscle memory is really your lizard brain taking the wheel.

So we can acknowledge that this autonomous behavior can have good and bad outcomes. It's great if you are an athlete training for an event. It's bad if you are trying to break a harmful habit or negative emotions. I've found the best tactic to be that of intentionality. With intentionality, you wrestle your brain's executive control back into the drivers seat. You can't allow habit and cravings to steer the ship. Intentionality has to happen the second you wake up.

When your eyes blink open from the pillow, you should start with something intentional. I start with a positive affirmation that has nothing to do with the addiction.

"I'm going to paint the house and it's gonna rock"

or if you have something going on at work

"I'm going to finish the project this week"

The affirmation is the start of the intentional thinking. It doesn't end at the beginning.

For me, my morning starts with coffee, talking to my daughter before she goes to school, and then planning my day. I sit with two day planners, one day planner has a to-do list where I brainstorm all the things that need to get done. Yoga, meditation, 10-12 work items, paying bills and so on. With the second day planner, I write down the times I will accomplish these tasks.

It seems pretty straight forward, right? I’m always monitoring my actions. I'm not allowing idle time. I'm not allowing the lizard brain to take the wheel. I set boundaries on myself and won’t put triggers in my path to be tripped. This isn’t avoidance, rather it’s making sure my goals are in line with the actions I’m performing. If my goal is getting the grocery shopping done, I shouldn’t be watching Hell’s Kitchen on the living room couch.

If I don't have a good reason for doing something, I won’t do it. And I always vet my reasoning before taking action. Sometimes my habits can sucker me in to poor decision making, especially with all the marketing tossed into our lives. . My advice is to start your days with intentionlality and find ways of keeping intentional behaviors throughout our day. Mantras are a good start, and task management and boundary setting are also good intentional behaviors to help stay on track.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ego Death and the Hill We Die On.

Stacy Mizrahi Meditation

I was attending a meditation the the other day and heard a great quote from  Eckhart Tolle:

Fear seems to have many causes. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, and so on, but ultimately all fear is the ego's fear of death, of annihilation. To the ego, death is always just around the corner. In this mind-identified state, fear of death affects every aspect of your life.

 That one hit me pretty hard. I can't tell you how many times I've died on some hill defending some abstract idea that, in retrospect, I wasn't really attached to. Sometimes I do feel passionate about defending ideas, which is something I should be even more introspective about. There is this fear of being wrong, I've being proven wrong. That is my ego screaming for it's self worth to be acknowledged. I've had some time now to work on myself, to watch my mind as it stakes out hills to die on. I've gotten much better at doing the "ego check", to make sure my thoughts aren't really racing to fight because I've conditioned my ego to be am unyielding rock for ships to crash on. That power of habit has been cranking for decades, making sure I assert myself  or risk being irrelevant.

The treatment for such a sickness is evident. I slow down. I shut up. I listen.  I let other people talk. I stop inserting myself into the middle. I let Ego death occur.  I take off the hat of "rebel" and be at peace.

Unfortunately, there is this lingering side effect. I now see ego of others screaming back. I'm aware of their fears pouring from their mouths. It's as if I walked into a funhouse to admire the hideousness of my ego's reflection in different  a thousand warped varieties. Perhaps it isn't so bad, maybe this new found perspective is to serve a reminder of the self I could not see. If I am forced to reflect on the screaming egos around me, perhaps it keeps me ever vigilant to monitor my fears.   In ego death, there is no finality, only transcendence.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Nocturnal Panic Attack

I had "waking" anxiety episode the other night. Long story short, I used all the tools I've been collecting to jump on it and avoid having an attack. It's  a very empowering feeling to see all the hard work pay off Mediation,yoga and breathing exercises helped me stay focused and not get lost in my feelings.  Also, word of advice to those who want to avoid such things, don't eat salty food the night before a stress-educing day. I need to get better at my dietary habits as a tactic to mitigate stress. A blog post for another day!

Stacy Mizrahi meditating
Stacy Mizrahi Fights Anxiety with Meditation

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Distraction Doesn't Fix Anxiety and Depression

One disadvantage to  having  ADHD, anxiety and depression living in the same skull is that you tend to let distractions enter your life and use it as a coping mechanism to deal with daily issues.  Some might think distractions are the way to go. Heck, one might argue that Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a giant distraction exercise to get your mind out of the fog. But after getting a wide variety of therapeutic approaches, I can say that distraction never deals with  the root of the problem. That's not to say that distraction doesn't have its merits, it just means that distraction won't be the pathway to long term solutions.

This is a picture of me almost 10 years ago when I was president of the Seminole Club of Baltimore. 

Stacy Mizrahi at FSU Leadership Conference
Stacy Mizrahi at FSU Leadership Conference 2009
See that big smile? Yeah, I may of been happy at that moment, but I was a big wreck. My work with the alumni was a giant excuse to go out, drink beer and socialize. Sounds like fun, right? Unfortunately, the alcohol consumption was fueling my depressive episodes, which I wasn't putting together at the time. I would drink to help relax after anxiety spent the day kicking my ass. Then I would obsessively read about football and drink to lower my anxiety about the results of the game. I spend most of my football watching shouting and screaming at the TV (or at the stadium if I was attending a game). So my distraction was both anxiety inducing and would eventually induce depression.  Once in a depressive state, I could be in it for days. Does this sound like fun? Hell no! And week after week I would subject myself to this, trying to convince myself that I was living a rich life doing things that no one else did. 

Stacy Mizrahi with Jimbo Fisher
Stacy Mizrahi and Jimbo Fisher
Here I am with Jimbo Fisher the year he took control of the football team. Great photo op, the coach and some guy that's two drinks away from jumping off a building. The distractions kept me alive, I guess. But I never got anything close to recovery in these days. I was actually digging my depression into a Grand Canyon sized issue. I wish I had one of those time traveling  DeLoreans to go tell that guy to get some help (me and  the coach). I can't see happiness in any of these photos because I know the pain behind the smile. Too proud and pigheaded to get help, and too distracted to put in any effort. If there is any lesson here, its to those currently struggling: don't  find solace in distraction.