This is a preview of what you will receive when you participate in early registration for the 2014 Escape, Explore, Flourish! retreat that will be held outside of Asheville, NC on April 3 -6, hosted by Denise Medved, Founder of Ageless Grace® and Lisa Haupert, MNSc and Certified Wellness Coach
Shift 1: The Foundation of Flourishing
Week 1: Building Positivity
New Content and Why It Matters: Part 1
Before a homebuilder puts in the cabinets and tile, she builds a strong foundation and solid walls. You’re going to do something similar. The foundation you’re going to lay is positivity.
You’re going to build positivity by strengthening the positive emotions – joy, love, gratitude, serenity, interest, and inspiration. The increased presence of these emotions in your life will literally cause you to flourish and thrive.
Increased positivity opens your mind to new ways of thinking and causes you to see new and innovative solutions to problems and obstacles. Increased positivity also causes you to bounce back more easily from setbacks, helps you connect to others, and gives you clearer vision about how to become the best version of yourself.
It sounds like positivity is a magic potion. Well, it is! Positivity has a tipping point. On one side of this tipping point we feel like we are just getting by. On the other side, you spiral upward toward flourishing.
And here’s the really good news! We can increase our positivity. That’s the first thing you’ll be doing to lay the foundation for claiming lasting flourishing.
To become more positive you must be mindful about your emotional and mental state. These first practices and opportunities for reflection will help you take stock of your feelings and move into mindfulness more frequently.
Practice: Focusing, calming breathing
To begin, place one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen, right below your naval. Take a few practice breaths with the image of gently and slowly filling your belly with air and keeping your chest still. Then allow your abdomen to move inward while you slowly expel the stale air.
To calm the mind, focus on the feeling of your abdomen expanding and contracting with the breath. As other thoughts enter you mind, gently turn your attention to the movement of your abdomen. Breathe in and out slowly.
After your practice breaths, take 5 slow and deep breaths, keeping your focus on the movement of your abdomen.
Write in your journal how you felt before and after this breathing practice.
- Does your body feel any differently?
- How have the speed and quality of your thoughts changed?
- What is the predominant emotion you feel right now?
New Content and Why it Matters Part 2:
Why does abdominal breathing make a difference in your ability to be mindful?
- Full expansion and contraction of the diaphragm sends fresh oxygenated blood throughout the body and leads to mental clarity.
- Allowing the breath to flow, even in stressful situations, leads to a calmer state of mind. It influences the balance between your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
- Full breathing induces a relaxed response in the body which helps to decrease blood pressure, aides in digestion, and relaxes our muscles.
- Exercising the muscles that control breathing reduces stress and anxiety.
- It is great practice for mindfulness meditation, which you will experience at Escape, Explore, Flourish!
Gratitude is a key component to building positivity in your life. Increased gratitude can help you to see new possibilities for yourself. It will change how you view challenges and obstacles. It will move you along the upward spiral of your life and improve your entire outlook.
Practice: Breathing Gratitude
Do your abdominal breathing practice for 5 to 10 breaths. With each inhalation, focus on the word “Gratitude.”
Practice and Reflection: Gratitude journal
Make a list in your journal of 5 things for which you’re grateful. They can be large or small, particular or general. After writing them down, read each one out loud. Give yourself the gift of pausing after reading each one and briefly reflect on the feelings you have after acknowledging that particular “gratitude.”
Thank your body, mind and heart for their willingness to participate in these life-giving practices this week. You are off to a great start! Every day between now and the Escape, continue the practice of keeping a gratitude journal.
Bonus: An optional activity
This activity might be a bit challenging, but I strongly recommend you give it a try. Watch this video and do just what the participants in the video did. http://www.upworthy.com/scientists-discover-one-of-the-greatest-contributing-factors-to-happiness-youll-thank-me?c=reccon1
- Determine the person who positively influences or influenced you the most in your life.
- Write them a letter telling them about their influence on you.
- If they are still living, call them or meet with them face to face and read the letter to them. If they are deceased, read it out loud to them or to a picture you have of them.
You can get the full set of pre-retreat SHIFTS when you participate in early registration for Escape, Explore, Flourish! But early registration ends SUNDAY, JANUARY 12th. Go here now to register: http://www.onceandforeverwellness.com/escape-explore-flourish-3/