What Do Smoking and Meditation Have in Common?

I used to smoke. I really loved it, too. I started in my teens when my best friend and I would sneak cigarettes from her grandpa and we’d light ’em up in the forest near my house. Later, I got a little more sophisticated and bought them with a fake ID… and then smoked them in the forest near my house…

In my twenties my favourite time of day was my commute to work when I’d have my smoke with my coffee and crank the tunes. Utter bliss. I would think, how can something that feels and tastes so good be bad? Eventually though, I began to see the hypocrisy in my indignant attitude against those who didn’t recycle, and my littering of butts out my car window. Also, I started to feel pretty uncool – healthy and eco-friendly is the new hip, no? And since I had always been insatiably cool[ahem], this was just a no-brainer…

When I bought a new car I decided I wouldn’t smoke in it. Then, a few “social smoker” moments later and I had quit. It took time, of course, but I knew it was for the best.

The other day the topic came up in my class when a student came back from our break and I couldn’t help but ask him to find a seat at the back where I couldn’t smell him. They always say it’s the ex-smokers, more than the non-smokers, that are more intolerant of the smell, right?  Anyway, as he moved , a younger student couldn’t help but say, “You still smoke? My god, it’s 2015!

I died. Not only is this the first time this particular student has uttered more than one word, but she really hit the nail on the head!

It is 2015. With all the knowledge we have about lung cancer and emphysema it’s odd that so many don’t kick the habit. But that’s just it. It’s a habit!

From working in hypnosis I have seen how habits persist in spite of what our conscious mind knows is wrong. Habits control us from our subconscious which, unfortunately, is stronger than our conscious mind. This is why hypnosis is so helpful in breaking bad habits like smoking and other addictions. In hypnosis you “speak” to the subconscious mind directly to reprogram it and rid it of negative behaviours that your conscious mind can’t control.

Hypnosis can also help you adopt good behaviours like more confidence, better sleeping patterns or eating habits. Once you know what you want, your hypnotist gives your subconscious a little kickstart towards the good habits you know will improve your life, but maybe have a little trouble adopting.

Part of what I preach is that meditation can help so many facets of your life and can help you achieve success and abundance in your thirties. But so often people tell me that meditation is difficult to do or hard to find time for. I understand where they are coming from, but at the same time, I want to shout – “But it’s 2015!

There’s so much research telling us that meditation brings so many health benefits and feelings of happiness and bliss, I just can’t believe that not everyone is doing it.  Meditation is one of the first steps to finding clarity in your life. I can’t stress this enough. For all of you out there who have trouble with decisions or are still unsure of your life path, this is the answer! Meditation is easy to do in that you don’t need equipment, but it does take practice. You need to make it a habit and you’ll reap so many rewards.

Take it slow at the beginning, use some guided meditations. A great app is buddhify. It’s not free but well-worth it – I still use it all the time on my commute. Or, you can always grab my FREE gratitude meditation HERE which will help get you started. I challenge you to five minutes every day for a month (It takes about 28 days to make a habit).

It’s about time, don’t you think?

Let me know how it goes and please leave me a comment!

Holiday Expectations That Hold Us Back

We all know that the holidays are great, wacky, wonderful and stressful, all at the same time. We all know we have to just breathe and take it all one step at a time, maybe have a little extra rum in the eggnog. But one thing we may not realize is that a lot of our stress and what brings us down are our own expectations.  Fortunately, most times, if we can pinpoint that expectation, a lot of the strength we give it will fade away or not even show up to begin with.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to get your mother or father “the perfect gift,” but, like most parents, they’re impossible to buy for. So you see the dilemma. Your expectation and the reality you state the next moment are at odds. I struggle with this one every year.  My strategy this year was to remind myself that usually when I let go, the greatest gift idea presents itself and the whole process becomes easy…and it did!  (Thank goodness!)

Now, If you happen to have a parent who expects “the perfect gift” to be given to them, then you have to also consider how much that really is about you and let that go as well…

Or maybe you’re scrambling around for your kids. Will your kids be “expecting” those gifts? And should they be? Will Christmas be ruined if you don’t deliver everything on their lists?  Letting go means asking yourself if the stress is worth it.  You’re going to have to answer this one for yourself.

While we’re at it, have you set any ridiculous expectations for those you love? Maybe you had a “list” for your family. How would you feel to find out that they were stressed and scrambling around for you?…   It wouldn’t hurt to check in and let them know you’re happy with whatever they decide on and you are only hoping for a great family gathering.

Though everyone is saying it, let me be another to remind you (and myself) that the holidays should be a holiday – no expectations, just hope for good times.

I wish you all the best and lots of luck to all of us in letting go a little bit more this holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Where to Find More Willpower

I voluntarily wake up at 4:45am every day and go to the gym before work. I know it sounds crazy, really, I know it does. But believe me when I tell you that I have no choice.

After teaching all day I use the rest of my strength to drag out a heavy coffee pot for one more cup to keep me awake for my commute – so I don’t end up sleeping past my stop, all the way to the end of the subway line.

Once I’m home, my afternoons and evenings are for cuddling up with my dogs and laptop – not stuffing myself into stretchy pants and torturing my muscles.

When I started going to the gym I thought I might be nuts. Was I going to be one of the millions who make a resolution and give up on it a few months later? Thankfully I wasn’t, and I really started to like the gym. Actually, I’ve become super at going to the gym.  So I recently started to be suspicious about my lack of discipline in other areas of my life that I say I want to improve.

I started to wonder what my gym formula had that other areas of my life were missing, and I think I may be on to something…

Not going to the gym is simply not an option for me. I know how I’ll feel if I don’t go. On a day I just can’t possibly drag myself out of bed for a workout, I know I’ll be adding guilt and regret to the the pretty picture I painted of myself at 3pm.  Add shame and self-loathing if I decide to eat a cookie with that coffee.

I’ve realized that I’ve been willing to skip a few things here and there in my career because I didn’t think they would really make a very big difference to me getting ahead or achieving my goals.  Next episode please, Netflix

Wrong. So wrong.

I know very well that when I miss a day at the gym it makes a difference. I don’t feel as energetic for the rest of the day and I’m disappointed in myself. I also know that there’s a big difference between people who go to the gym every day and those who go three times a week. There’s an even bigger difference from those who go once and a while or not at all.

So, I’ve recently begun to view willpower very differently. It’s not as much about discipline as it about choice. For some reason I don’t give myself a choice about going to the gym. And starting now, no more skipping days of networking or marketing. No more putting off phone calls or returning tough emails.

Every day, every little thing I do makes a difference and adds up to progress – bigger success muscles if you will. And even if it isn’t giant progress at first, at least I can say I showed up, tied up my shoes and did a little something rather than nothing.

Our goals shouldn’t just be nice ideas. They are top priority and not achieving them is  just not an option.