…to join me, in my new Facebook Community!
- I really believe in the value and power of community. Humans are social beings. We crave connection and support
- People who are connected and socially supported live longer, have better disease prognosis and lower rates of depression
- Shifting your habits is TOUGH! What makes it easier is having me, your Chief Habit Scientist with tips & tools AND an awesome community to hold your hand, nudge you on and cheer you on when you hit your goals!
So – check out my new FB community – Dr Tamsin’s Daily Habits To Rock the Eff Out of Parenting & Life. Ask to join – it’s a Closed group, so what we share stays amongst us. This is because we need to feel safe to share and if any random punter can read what you write, then that’s no good is it?! Safety is one of the major KEYS to creating to an effective culture!
P.s. This is totally free and you can leave the group at any time, what have you got to lose? Check us out here
So, we are 6 weeks into the new year! How’re your New Year Resolutions working out? It’s hard to stick with, it isn’t it? Often it feels like a boring, must do, rather than a hell yes, to start working on your healthy habits.
Today, I want you to consider your bigger why!
It’s awfully hard to stick with a new habit when you get stuck in the nitty gritty of the doing, particularly if it’s not something you enjoy.
Here’s How to Do it – Keep your BIG Why in mind!
- Identify your Habit
- Figure out Your Why
- Keep Your Why in Mind
For example, if your Habit is go to gym and Your Why is look good in bikini, Keep Your Why in Mind by finding a picture of yourself in a bikini from before, or tear out a bikini that you want to wear in the summer and stick that picture somewhere you have to look at everyday! (I am a fan of the next to the bathroom mirror.
Or maybe your Habit is eat healthy meals and Your Why is have energy to chase your kids or grandkids around, Keep Your Why in Mind by making a photo montage of your kids/grandkids & sticking that on the fridge!
So, can you believe it? It’s almost December. Which means that we have just one month left of 2017. I know that I find myself reflecting deeply as the year draws to a close. I find myself drawn back to the end of 2016 and think about what my goals were for myself for 2017.
Do you have a practice of writing goals for yourself?
If not, give it a shot. Why? Because according to Leonie Dawson, the highest achievers in the world are the ones who write down AND review their goals.
I want you to get yourself a lovely notebook and some colored pens. And then grab a beverage of your choice (tea, coffee, sparkling water with a wedge of lime or perhaps a massive glass of chardonnay or some Laguvulin 16 yr whiskey) and take a seat on your favorite chair, with some luscious candle burning and some styling vinyl cracking in the background (and someone massaging your feet with lavender lotion… whoops, went off track there, but you get it)….
And NOW ask yourself some questions:
- Reflect back on 2017. Did you set any goals (e.g. change jobs, run a marathon, start volunteering, organize the basement, buy a house)? If so, how did you do? What were your successes? If you didn’t set goals, why not?
- What did you survive in 2017? What went down and how did you handle it? Sometimes life hits us upside the head, and we have deaths, diagnoses, job losses, relationship crashes. The key to happiness and success is navigating these “face-down-in-the-arena” moments as the phenomenal Brene Brown calls them with love, reflection and compassion.
- What are some goals? You can do them in categories:
a) Personal (e.g. make that trip to India)
b) Professional (e.g. get a promotion, apply for training)
c) Emotional (e.g. re-connect with the hobbies that make me happy)
d) Physical (e.g. leg press 500lbs, decrease body fat %)
e) Spiritual (e.g. re-commit to volunteering for a cause close to my heart)
Spend this last month of the year celebrating what you achieved – intentionally or not (e.g. navigating something unexpected, like a diagnosis or death or relationship ending) and making some plans for 2018.
Let me know how it goes, by leaving a comment below & sharing YOUR celebrations & your INTENTIONS!
Cleanse Your Home
Where you live is not just the place to store all your belongings.
It’s the place where you sleep, where you spend time with people that you care about, where you create memories! It should be a sanctuary, a place that is filled with things that are either beautiful or that you know to be useful, in the words of William Morris.
Having more things doesn’t make you happier. So, take some time to really dive into this cleanse! I like to do room by room. If you have a particularly large collection of e.g. books – you can gather all the books from all over your house and put them together in one place, which makes it easier to see how many you really have!
The Kon-Mari method of cleansing your home, articulated in her book “The Magic Art of Tidying Up” involves holding every item and paying attention to the energetic response – does it spark joy? If so, keep it. If not, jettison it.
Here are some examples of what to cleanse:
- Old papers
- Irrelevant documents
- Recipe books
- Knick Knacks
- Sofa cushions/furniture
- Kids toys
And then, take these items to charities that are important to you. For example, where I live there <<is a charity that takes in women>> and their children who are the victims of domestic violence. So, I give all my kids old books, toys and furniture to them, because as a mother of three, I can imagine the pain these mothers and children go through and if I can help in any way.
Let me know your intentions: post them here.
Cleanse Your Mind & Relationships
Last week I talked about cleansing your body. This week it’s about cleansing your Mind and Relationships. Now, this is not about stopping your dirty thoughts… unless they are too disturbing! Fantasy is fun, amiright?! This is about facing yourself and how you show up – for yourself and with others.
Start by acknowledging to yourself whether you have regular self-reflective practices. These include meditation, journaling and a coach or therapist – someone to talk to about what you are experiencing in life. If you have none of those, then it’s time to start!
When your mind is always busy and you don’t give yourself the space to be still and quiet (and see what comes up) or the space to vocalize what’s going on in your life, it can hard to really figure out what it is you do want and don’t want in your life! And, what you like.
I had a client who had spent so many years acting for her spouse and kids that she had essentially lost sight of what she was passionate about. So, when I asked her to pick an activity to do that was nourishing and fulfilling, she was stuck. I don’t want this for you – so please start to listen to yourself. Not just your mind, but how your body reacts and feels when you are around certain people or in certain situations.
Pull out your calendar and create the time and space for daily reflections. If you are more drawn to journaling, get yourself a notebook and sit down once a day to write about your life and your dreams. If learning to still your mind so you can hear what you want, seems more important right now, learn to meditate. The Headspace app is great for beginners. Insight meditation is another app that I love – it has a timer, and some guided practices.
Now it’s time to think about your main relationships – your partner, your kids, your parents, perhaps. You don’t have to do all of them, but I encourage you to start with your partner if you have one, because your lives are entwined and creating clarity around what you both want and need and hope for is so vital for a thriving relationship in the long-term.
Pull out your calendar with these people and make time to talk. Perhaps a Sunday hike, or coffee on Saturday morning. And then go into the interaction with an open heart – talk about what you both want for the next few months, the next year, where you want to be in 5 or 10 years. What kind of support can you provide each other. What you would like to make more time for in your shared lives. What hobbies you’d like to try! Whatever arises – create a space to be totally honest with each other. If there’s a particular sticky issue, that you have been repeatedly arguing about, perhaps try this technique:
- Sit near each other, set the timer for 20 mins and let your partner talk. You can nod or smile, but you cannot verbally respond
- Switch roles
- This creates the space of just listening, and not rebuttals or explanations or sympathizing or explanations
Let me know your intentions: post them here.
It’s October, which means the Season is shifting from summer to fall or winter to spring, depending on which hemisphere you are in! If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the mornings are crisp and cool and I am wearing a sweatshirt or jacket to walk my dog.
A big shift in the seasons is the perfect time to make some changes in your life – in your physical body, in your mental body and relationships and in your home. Channel this energy of change that is occurring all around you and focus it on what will improve your life.
Most of us here in the West have too much. Too many belongings which we maintain and manage, massive overwhelm in our minds which makes it hard to sleep, to be present for the beautiful moments, and too much in our bodies – so many of us consume foods such as sugar that ultimately slow us down, create cravings and negatively impact how we function.
This week I will describe how to Cleanse Your Body, next week, how to Cleanse Your Mind & Relationships & the third week, how to Cleanse Your Home. These three weeks will be put together on a blog, that you can read here <<HYPERLINK>>.
I encourage you to try all three – once you start to generate that kind of energy in one sphere of your life, it’s much easier to just spread it across all aspects of your life. However, if you have never cleansed, pick the area of your life that feels most pressing, most overwhelming and start there. You can do each cleanse, one/week if that feels most doable!
Cleanse Your Body
The goal is to cut out all animal products, caffeine, alcohol, sugar etc and eat just plants for at least a week. If you consume a lot of coffee, start to wean yourself off for a few days, otherwise you will get headaches! If you live with people, see if they will do this with you – it makes it much easier. Also – I suggest bulk cooking the soups and prepping the salads, so you have them in your fridge ready to go when it’s meal time.
Consume a lot of water and herbal tea. You can make your own teas, e.g. raw ginger root, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick. Hydrate!
Basic Green Smoothie
- 2 c water
- handful greens (spinach, kale, parsley etc)
- 1 banana
- 1 apple or pear or 1 c apple sauce
optional handful of dried fruit (raisins, goji berries, cranberries etc)
optional handful of nuts (eating nuts 7 days/week reduces chance of death by 20% from heart disease & cancer!)
optional tablespoon of seeds (chia or flax)
At bedtime I put the nuts, seeds and dried fruit in 3 cups of water in my blender. Don’t worry if you don’t get to this – it just makes them easier to break down in the blender.
Simple Vegetable soup
- Garlic clove
- Ginger knob (1″ cube)
- Zucchini or squash
- Peeled sweet potato, cubed into 1″
- 2 Handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, chard – do more spinach since it reduces down)
- 1 stock cube
- 4 c water
- bay leaf
- Spices, e.g. 1/2 teaspoon of each cumin, coriander, turmeric, hing/ asoefetida and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne. Or you can add 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder to keep it simple!
Fry leek, garlic, ginger, zucchini in ghee until they soften (using a little water, so they don’t stick to pan). Add spices. Add water, stock cube, sweet potatoes and bay leaf and cook until the sweet potatoes are softened. Add greens until wilted. Blend and garnish with sprouts or toasted nuts.
I mix this up, by using onions or green onions or shallots. I use white potatoes or corn, cut off the cob if I don’t have sweet potatoes (white potatoes are not as nutritious).
Kitchari: Mono-diet cleanse.
This dish you can make in bulk and eat three times a day as an alternative style of cleanse.
- 2½c white rice
- 1 c mung daal
- 6 c water or 5 c water, 1 c coconut milk
- 1 inch ginger, chopped
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 tsp ghee
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 pinch of hing/asoefetida (optional)
- 2 tbs chopped green onions
- 2 c chopped veggies – sweet potato, zucchini, carrots
- handful of pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)
Remove stones from daal and rice – wash well! cook rice & daal in water, with salt, covered until soft, about 10 minutes.
Chop veggies and add to rice/daal mix and cook for 10 mins more.
sauté the spices & add to the veg/rice/daal mix. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve!
Don’t worry if you can’t find Hing (I bought mine on Amazon). You can add cinnamon too if you like the sweeter flavor or even use coconut milk as the liquid. Ghee is clarified butter – use oil if you can’t get your hands on it!
Eat this food every day, three times a day for at least 3 days, or up to two weeks. Vary the vegetables and spices.
Marinated Kale Salad
- handful of chopped leafy green (e.g. kale, turnip greens, mustard greens).
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ lemon
- equal amount of oil (as produced by the lemon)
- 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
Any mix of the following:
- ¼ c seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia, hemp)
- ¼ c dried berries (e.g. cranberries, blueberries) or raisins
- ½ grated carrot
- ½ c grated raw beetroot
- ½ avocado
- chopped tomatoes
- chopped green onions, cilantro, parsley – as you wish
Mix greens with salt to start the breaking down process. Add carrot and beetroot if using and toss with salad dressing. Leave for at least 30 mins.
Add any of the other ingredients and eat (softer ingredients don’t want to sit because then it becomes soggy!)
Let me know your intentions: post them here.
Yesterday I went to get my foot tattoo redone. If you’ve had a tattoo you know that it takes a while and, like the salon, there is an intimacy – cultivated by the touching of bodies – which results in a comfort with sharing personal stories or observations.
As Marc got to work on my foot, one of the other artists came over and started chatting to us. They both decided that if their afternoons were free of work, that they were going to tattoo each other. “Do you think we could do it at the same time?” He turned to me – “hey, you know about neuroscience and stuff, do you think that would work?”
Not having any experience of giving someone a tattoo, but plenty of experience with receiving tattoos, I said “I suspect it’s like oral sex. If you are both doing it at the same time, it can be hard to orgasm – you focus on yourself, then you focus on your partner, and you go back and forth. Like multi-tasking, you’re just switching between the tasks.”
This lead us into a conversation about giving and receiving – can you give and receive at the same time? How does this work in your relationships? How does this work in business, in life? Is it possible to give and receive? Or do we get stuck in a giving or a receiving state? How does this impact our lives?
Let me be honest right now. I am struggling. My business is struggling. I have had over 10 calls without signing a single client – my worst statistic since I started – and I’m starting to wonder. Also, I am single after a long on and off relationship and I am trying to figure out what it is I really want in a relationship so that I can date with a clear eye of what is important to me.
I have posted about my discontent on social media, but when my sweet friends have reached out to me, I have rebuffed them, because, you know, I can do this on my own, right?
I need to accept help. I need to learn how to receive. I am an eternal giver – to my family, to my clients, to my friends. It’s my natural MO – I give. I look like I have my shit together, so I have been resistant to cracking that image of myself. It seem to everyone that I am on fire – I run my own life, I’ve published a book, I am breaking out as a coach, I am traveling and having fun! I don’t need anyone else, I’ve got this. Also, I tend to be an optimist – things will get better, right, right, right??
So, today I pledge to start accepting. Answering that call from a friend who reaches out to me. Accepting the meal that a friend offers to buy me. Receiving the affection from those that make me feel loved.
Are you stuck in giving? What are you going to do today to create a shift? Are you a receiver who wants to give more? Do you find it hard to know what to give to others? Maybe certain relationships you are only a giver, and others you are only a receiver. Take time to reflect on your relationships.
When I work with clients, they usually show up feeling overwhelmed, not able to completely shut down, like there are too many demands on their time and energy and that brings a certain unhappiness and confusion. Other clients show up because they are profoundly aware of a disconnect between what they want and like and what they are actually doing.
For most of my clients, we start with their daily habits. Creating connections between your daily routines – sleeping/waking times, exercise, eating – meal planning, bulk cooking etc, creates some automation, which in turns generates free time for the stuff that you need to do and the things you want to do.
When some of these daily habits are under control, that’s when for some people they start to notice that their work is no longer fulfilling, or as one of my clients noticed – she was starting to prioritize her self-care more than her work, which was not possible with her job, so she transitioned to being a consultant, rather than an employee of a large organization. Or maybe it’s your marriage that is struggling and needs some extra attention.
This is when the meaty WHYs start to need some attention.
The Purushartas are the “souls aims” – your big whys! There are 4 of them. The Purushartas are Dharma (life’s purpose), Artha (financial goals), Kama (pleasure) and Moksha (liberation or freedom).
Dharma – we hear that word used in the public domain and it has a number of different connotations. Here is what I mean by the term, in this context: Dharma is your life’s purpose.
What were you put here to do in this lifetime? Get out a piece of paper and pen. Close your eyes for a minute, with the questions: why am I here? What am I really good at? What do I love to do? Then write down, what your dharma is!
If you find it hard to access this, sink it these questions: what do you love doing? What do people tell you you’re good at doing? What is the common thread of all the work you’ve done? What do your friends come to you with?
Artha is the second of the Purushartas – it’s defined as financial aims or goals.
This can be a tough one – some of us are raised that talking about money is tasteless. Others grow up in homes where money is always an issue – not having enough of it, struggling to make ends meet. In some homes people are raised to be super mindful about debt and not accruing it and insuring a solid savings account and retirement account. In other homes people are raised to choose work that is important and meaningful, regardless of the remuneration.
My point is, is that money can be a thorny issue!
However, if you want to have the kind of life that you really want, and especially if you are an entrepreneur, where you have more freedom over how you set the rules about what you charge and what your worth is with respect to time and money, this is really something to face – head on!
So – pull out a piece of paper and write down what financial freedom, wellness, goals are for you? Is it being debt free? Is it having x amount in your savings account? Is it being able to put anything in your grocery cart and not check prices? Is it flying first class, driving a brand new car every 2 years, wearing a Rolex, paying off your home? There is no right answer – we are all different, but the point is you need to identify what this is for you (and your family if that’s applicable).
Money is a tool – it allows you to live in a certain way and when used correctly, is just an energetic exchange, which is why there are so many emotions tied to it. So, don’t let the negativity take over. BUT… do do some work on it. I have found that people create a lot of stories about money, about people who have money and those who don’t. That’s why there are a whole load of money and money mindset coaches out there to help!
SO, I encourage you to face it:
- Do a truthful inventory – use a tool like mint, or I just did an old school Excel spreadsheet – your expenses, in each category for a year. You have to know what’s going on, to make any changes.
- Commit to donating or tithing 10% of your income to something that is important to you. Get comfortable with money moving through your hands – there’s always more of it
- Write out your financial goals. Create positive energy around what you want your financial life to look like!
This is super helpful – I have identified what I want money for – which won’t surprise you if you follow me on Facebook travel, food, experiences. What do you want?
You might recognize the word from the Kama Sutra. Kama means pleasure, so I want you to think about pleasure!
When you say the word pleasure – what do you think about? In contrast to work: work or pleasure? Sexual gratification? Contentment?
This is another “souls aim” to ponder, because, life’s too short not to plan for pleasure, amiright?
Well, I can tell you, that until I really started doing this kind of self-work – looking at what I currently have, getting clarity on what I really want and then taking the steps to get that, pleasure was not on my list. Not that I was into self-flagellating or actively depriving myself, but what I mean is that I did not grow up thinking about planning for pleasure: it was a side effect of making particular choices!
So – what is pleasure for you?
Is it delicious organic food and coffee? Is it weekly massages? Is it a healthy body which is strong and capable? Is it having those amazing conversations where you lose track of time? Is it being in a monogamous relationship with lots of amazing sex and touching and snuggles and hugs? Like the other souls aims – this one is also down to you, baby. What is pleasure for you? Don’t let society or the shoulds tell you what that should look like. Really allow yourself to sink into this!
This is as important as the other goals – we are sensual beings, so ignoring this aspect of ourselves does not bode well, either from a motivational standpoint or a long, fulfilling life standpoint!
What does KAMA mean to you?
So – what is Moksha? The word itself means liberation or freedom. It can manifest in a number of different ways. For some it’s about spiritual freedom – being connected to God, or a spiritual practice. For others it’s about connection to the world, the environment – perhaps volunteering for a local charity that espouses values that are deeply entwined with yours.
For me, Moksha is about freedom with time – one of the reasons I work for myself – and have always been attracted to more independent jobs, is that I love to be able to get up and walk outside, when I want, not when I am told I can! I am deeply sensual and love to to feel the wind on my face, the sun on my back. I can’t work in a cube where I can’t see the weather, the seasons, the time of day. It’s also about being able to pick up my kids from school, take them to Europe to see my family for a few weeks – and still be able to run my business.
Again – as with the other Purushartas – there isn’t a right or wrong answer – it’s about feeling into what YOU want! I am a super nerd. I have a PhD in cognitive neuroscience/psychology and multiple certifications in different fields. I find it very easy to focus on the intellectual aspects of life – what I should or ought to want or like or need.
My life did not follow the exact path I had in mind – my son was diagnosed with cancer when he was 2 (and survived), my cousin-like-a-brother died of leukemia when we were 37, and my marriage ended in divorce. I could step back and just plod on with life. Instead, I took these shitty experiences, and like manure, I used them to fertilize my life, to grow, evolve, face my fears, my truths, what works and what doesn’t and then… create a life of such deep and abiding joy and freedom.
What’s on your list? What is freedom for you?
Copyright Tamsin Astor, Yoga Brained LLC, 2017.
“You love Cleveland?” said the guy waiting for his coffee. “Yes,” I said. “It’s scrappy and evolving and hasn’t quite made it, there’s an energy of evolution and inspiration. The music is fab, the museums are awesome, the food is delicious, the schools are varied and brilliant and my kids are happy. The metroparks are gorgeous and the quality of life here is phenomenal,” I evangelized.
“What are you smoking?” he said. “I’m off to Florida for the winter, this place sucks at this time of year.”
It’s a good thing I meditate every day and didn’t react to that irritating interaction – it’s a practice that helps keep me focused, calm and present, engage in the world from a place of honesty and truth and it also boosts my immune function, improves my memory & makes me more compassionate.
Sometimes though, like this morning, I just get really cool ideas when I meditate. And then, my work is to store that thought for later exploration and get on with the business of meditating – letting the thoughts go and coming back to the breath.
“You can’t make homes out of human beings.”
I have a diverse and varied group of friends. There’s one group, who we have a name for and we group text about our lives, our experiences, our work, our dates, and troubles and we love and support each other. I was texting about dating and two of them started sharing poems with me.
“You can’t make homes out of human beings.”
This line, killed me, because it so perfectly encapsulated what I had always felt that a deeply loving relationship should be. But then, when relationships fail, you realize that you have to be home in your self. Home in your own mind, home in your own body, otherwise you deeply suffer, because you’ve defined yourself in reference to other.
So this might seem tangential, but I recently read that if you have an entrepreneurial personality type, you see connections between things. So, stick with me here.
I realized that what I think was going on with that guy in the coffee shop was that he was not happy in himself, he was not home in himself, so was looking for homes in other parts of the world and perhaps with other people. He was looking for homes in different places and was defending his choices by insulting me! I had a relationship with someone who was so kind and loving to me, but struggled to turn that towards himself. In hindsight I think he was trying to make me his home, which, on some levels, was wonderful, in that he made me feel grounded, connected, contained, but on other levels was hard because I felt the weight of being his home.
So, this is it – where’s your home? Can you find it in yourself? Here are my tips to help you become your own home:
1) Know, stimulate & love your mind: Meditate daily, read/listen to engaging stories, have interesting conversations, volunteer
2) Know, stimulate and love your body: Exercise daily & challenge yourself, eat & sleep well, practice Abhyanga (warm sesame oil and rub it into your body)
One of the reasons I have always loved Ayurveda – the Science of Life – is that health is described as Svastha – being seated in the self. That to me, feels like home, when my mind and body are deeply connected, nourished and loved.
Copyright Tamsin Astor, Yoga Brained LLC, 2016.