Why Nurturing Yourself May Be the Key to Happiness

Did you know that along with food and water, the act of nurturing is one of the building blocks to a healthy brain?

I’ve recently come across some fascinating information in Joseph Chilton Pearce’s book, “The Heart-Mind Matrix” that I wish was common knowledge.  Essentially, Pearce says that the successful development of the human brain is based on nurturing. The brain forms into its most advanced and highest versions when a child is cared for and nurtured with consistency. When we are nurtured, we become the best versions of ourselves

I want to explain this a little more, so please allow me to nerd out for a moment.

A cucumber sprout soaking up warmth from the sun.
A cucumber sprout soaking up warmth from the sun.

The human brain consists of three major sections which follow our evolution. The first part of the brain that forms is the reptilian brain. This is the part of the brain that is in charge of making sure we are safe in the world. It is purely instinctual and its number one priority is survival at all costs (think a reptile).

The second part of the brain that forms is the mammalian brain, which forms on top of the reptilian brain. The mammalian brain is responsible for allowing an individual to have emotions, memories, and a sense of connection with others (think of how mammals like to cuddle and connect).

The third part of the brain that forms on top of the other two parts is called the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for higher-order reasoning and thinking. The prefrontal cortex allows us to have self-awareness, think about what we are doing, ask questions like “why?” and to have morality. It is fundamentally the part of the brain that makes us human and capable of complex thought and higher order decisions.

Now, where it really gets juicy is that the full formation of the pre-frontal cortex can only happen when a person feels safe and nurtured. If a person isn’t feeling safe and nurtured, the reptilian brain goes into overdrive. When the reptilian brain is at full throttle, the prefrontal cortex can’t develop to its fullest form. The integration of the reptilian brain, mammalian brain, and prefrontal cortex is all dependent on feeling safe and nurtured.

What does this mean? It means can’t step into our highest potential as a logical, moral, evolved human without nurturing.

So many people who grow up in chaotic homes without proper nurturing get stuck in their reptilian brain and can only think about survival. This can lead to chronic anxiety or depression because the brain and nervous system are stuck in survival mode.  Isn’t that fascinating?

What is most incredible to me is that this information gives us clues about what we need in order to heal ourselves. If nurturing is the missing link in proper brain development, then we know what to give ourselves and others. We can seek out nurturing and loving relationships. And most importantly, we can nurture and love ourselves. This not only feels good, but helps us to create peace, calm, and integration in our brains and our bodies.

It turns out, that nurturing is a spiritual energy. It creates peace, healing, and integration in our brains and relationships.

If you want to evolve into the best version of yourself, nurture yourself.

If you want to help create a more peaceful world, nurture those around you.

Loving yourself and the world around you really is the way to create wholeness.

Ideas To Nurture Yourself:

  1. Get a massage, acupuncture, or facial
  2. Create a home environment that feels good to you – surround yourself in colors, patterns, and textures that feel good
  3. When applying lotion or body oil, really take the time to love yourself and nurture yourself with your own touch
  4. Get creative – paint, draw, sing – Express yourself!
  5. When sad or distressed, hold onto a pillow or stuffed animal
  6. Cuddle (with anyone)
  7. Cook a delicious and nurturing meal for yourself
  8. Buy yourself flowers
  9. Use essential oils that make you feel more grounded, happy, and centered
  10. Do some gentle exercise, like walking or yoga
  11. Put on some music that you love
  12. Hold your hand on your heart and just feel the warmth and love from your own hand
  13. Drink warm tea or take a hot bath – warmth is very nurturing

The Most Important Political Action You Should Be Taking Probably Isn’t What You Think It Is

Ok, let’s be real. The world feels like a total mess right now. So many of us are scared, heartbroken, confused, and unsure of what to do. It is so easy to feel powerless when a country’s leaders are making decisions haphazardly and without input from their people.

IMG_4399Consciousness has chosen Trump to be president of the United States. He is here to shake up the stuck energies that were keeping the country (and world) in an embroiled battle. He is here to move energy, and he is doing that quickly and swiftly. The good news is that our consciousness has a say in what happens next. Our individual consciousness is part of a larger consciousness. As we change our own consciousness, we change the equation. As we change ourselves, we change the world. As we go for health, loving, kindness, and creativity, we add those elements to the larger consciousness. We vote for more heart, and that has the power to change what the future holds.

So how can you change your consciousness? Right now, our world is getting overly stuck in the mental realm. We are moving further and further into our minds. Technology has boomed in the past several decades. Our smartphones have become our best friends. The world is titillated by the latest apps and the newest toys.

The problem is, this has created a great imbalance. Our world is overly tipped into the mental and we are ignoring our hearts and bodies. We are abandoning creativity in favor of mental stimulation. In a way, it feels easier to spend an hour scrolling through Facebook than to use that hour to get into our hearts and bodies and really enjoy life.  The problem is, the mind is where so many of these power games we are seeing play out originate. Being overly pulled into the mental realm will only contribute to duality, fighting, judgment, and hate.

If you want to change the world, the best thing you can do is get out of your mind. Counteract this pull towards the mental by moving in the opposite direction. Move into your heart. Move into your body. This is truly what the world needs. It needs more people to help pull consciousness down into the lived experience of the body, and away from the mind.

By being in your body and enjoying all the wonderful sensate pleasures of earth, you really do start to change the world. You change consciousness. You help to encourage the collective consciousness to choose the path of the heart, kindness, compassion, and creativity instead of the path of the mind, power, and drama. Your health adds health to the equation of consciousness, which in turn will change the world. Tell consciousness that you want more heart, less mind.

So what can you do to come into your heart or body? Any activity that gets you out of the mental. We get trapped in the mental when we spend hours on social media, playing video games, eating in front of our computers, etc. We get out of our minds when we hug each other, sit quietly and feel our bodies, paint, draw, sculpt, dance, cook, enjoy the food we are eating, feel the sunlight bathing the back of our necks as we walk, and feel the energy buzzing in our right big toe. We get out of the mental when we start to enjoy our lives and our bodies.

Find those activities that bring you into your body. During these challenging times, I am making a more conscious effort to take a break from the news and to be mindful and alive in my body. I’m trying to savor my cup of decaf coffee in the morning even more than I did before. I’m also taking a few more art classes and spending less time watching TV. I’m hugging my partner longer and really feeling my heart open as I do so. I sit every night with our puppy on my lap and feel her warm body against my thighs. I take daily walks in the hills and take in the gorgeous mountains that seem to change every day. Essentially, I am making an effort to feel my body more and be in my mind less. I am voting for love with my body.

This is an act of political activism that is truly radical in this culture of video games and social media. Of course, take all the actions you feel called to in this time of change. Actions on the external level are also necessary and I have felt called to engage on that level as well. But don’t discount how important it is to tend to your consciousness. The most important act of political resistance you can do is to get out of your mind and vote for more heart.

A Note on the Election

love-will-have-its-wayI know a lot of us have run the gamut from being disheartened to being completely gutted by the election results here in the U.S. The results have been shocking, as many of us thought our country was past the point of endorsing racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia. Truthfully, I am still getting back to center after the news of Donald Trump’s win. It comes as a huge surprise to those of us who thought that we were moving in a direction of more inclusivity, equality, peace, and respect for others.

One of my teachers, Karey Thorne, asked a wonderful question in a training I was in this last weekend. She asked the group, “Can you trust that loving is unfolding even if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would?” Can we look deeply at the ways that this election might uncover and reveal even more loving in the country?

The truth is, the homophobia, racism, sexism, and xenophobia that we are now seeing rise to the surface has always been there. It has just been silenced. It isn’t new. What if, the hidden hate and contempt that has running like an undercurrent throughout the country can now be exposed and brought out into the light? What if the darkness is now surfacing to be met with the great loving that is working to transform this country?

I am using this whole experience as a way to open up my loving even more and to look at more of the places I’ve stayed in judgment and opposition. I’m using this as an opportunity to let go of my righteousness. And I’m getting plenty or chances to do so.

A week before the election, my boyfriend’s family announced they are coming to Santa Fe for Thanksgiving because they want to meet me. My boyfriend is a from a small town in rural Texas and is from a culture much different than my own. He shot his first deer as a child and played football all through high school, while my school didn’t even have a football team and I didn’t see an actual gun until I was 30.  It is a culture I have not understood and even looked down upon before meeting him. I have been learning more and more about that culture.

This Thanksgiving, my family and myself will be welcoming his parents into our homes. We come from very different cultural and political backgrounds. While I could use this to distance myself from them, I am choosing to take the opposite approach. I want to get to know them, to feel their love for me and to love them back. I want to know what life has been like for them. I want to heal the ways inside of me that I have judged and othered people in the past. I want to heal on a micro level to help heal the macro. I want to create one small bridge to hopefully create larger bridges.

I am choosing to stay with the loving instead of my righteousness. Loving opens up dialogue, safety, healing and evolution. Blame, rejection, and yelling shuts it down. I will stay in my loving, honoring that everyone believes what they believe for a reason. I will seek to understand those reasons instead of assuming I know.

This is what I feel guided to do. What you feel guided to do may feel different. This is the time to get still, look inside, and listen for what you feel called to do. It may look like not saying much but holding a certain vibration inside of yourself. It may look like getting loud and making your voice and opinion heard. Trust what you feel guided to do.

If you are looking for ways to help heal this country and planet, I offer some ideas:

  • Pray, meditate, hold the light. Though it may feel like you aren’t doing much, you are. Hold the light. For me this looks like chanting and seeing beautiful white light filling the entire world every time I feel a disturbance inside of me. I am steadfastly holding onto the light in my consciousness. I do this before going to sleep and whenever I wake up.
  • Look at the ways you still hold judgment towards yourself or others. Forgive yourself. Use ho’oponopono. A friend of mine just started a 100 Days of Ho’oponopono challenge on Facebook that I recommend checking out.
  • Get involved in any way you feel called to. This could be joining in protests, getting involved in the political system, starting a support group, sharing your story, or putting up a “Love Everyone” sign in your front yard. You don’t have to do it all. Do what you feel guided to do.
  • Know that you do not have to tolerate abuse or witnessing people around you be abused. I am dedicated to staying in my loving, but I also know that if I witness any kind of abuse around me, I won’t be able to tolerate it. You can seek understanding and loving, and refuse to tolerate violence or abuse. These are not mutually exclusive. I will seek understanding, and also protect and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Do what feels right for you. Love yourself so you can love others. Like my other beloved teacher, Robert Waterman says, “Love will have its way.”

When Everything Fails You, Follow the Loving

There are times in life when we all feel a little (or a lot) lost. The loss of a relationship, or job, a loved one, or our health can all leave us feeling disoriented and alone. In times like these, our self-esteem may take a beating. We may feel broken down, disheartened, and unsure which direction to turn.

If you find yourself feeling lost, confused, and unsure which path to take next in your life, it’s ok. There is a very simple answer. Choose the path that is the most loving. Follow the people, places, and experiences that bring the most loving into your life.

When we are in a place ofLet Yourself Be CArried BY love.-2 feeling hurt and in pain, what we need most is to be loved – to be nurtured, cared for, and held by people and places that are safe.

During hard times, turn away from what doesn’t love you and towards that which does. If a friendship is ending, grieve the loss, feel the love, and let yourself be held by the people in your life who are currently able to offer their loving. If a relationship is ending, let the love remain, and turn towards the loving offered by friends, family, mentors, and teachers. If a job is ending, search for the job where you are wanted, appreciated, and valued. If your health is waning, allow yourself to be nurtured and taken care of by those close to you. If you feel all alone with no one to turn to, allow yourself to be loved by you. There is always loving available, even if its your own.

It is natural to grieve loss, we are meant to grieve that which we once had and have no longer. And when it is time to make decisions about what is next, point your energy in the direction of the most loving. Ask yourself, “With whom do I feel the most loved and cared about?” Nurture that relationship and allow yourself to be nurtured by it. “Where do I feel the most safety and love? Where does my heart expand?” Give yourself time there. “What activities bring me the most joy and connect me into my loving?” Participate in those activities.

We don’t have to constantly focus on the loving that we don’t have. We can focus on all the people and places that do love us. Loving is bountiful. It can never be truly taken away or destroyed. And, when faced with one of those times when you feel broken down and alone, orient yourself to the rays of sunshine in your life, and let them love you and warm you up. Let yourself be loved. And remember that no matter what, you are always there to love you, and always will be. You always have yourself. Give yourself the loving, nurturing, and care that your heart longs for. There is always loving available, always.

Life doesn’t have to be full of suffering and pain. Allow in the loving that is all around you and wants to make its way into your heart. You don’t have to do this alone. You have people and places around you longing to love you. You have you, longing to love you. Let it in.

Let yourself be carried by love.