Mindfulness: Chasing Goals While Staying in the Present

Although it sounds like a contradiction to say “Stay in the Present” while at the same time saying “Set goals” these two seemingly opposing concepts actually CAN combine to guide you through the process of a successful life journey, and it’s really much more simple than it sounds.

Setting goals, especially if we write them down, consciously or unconsciously becomes an act of inspiration that determines the course of our daily life, a beacon guiding us onward toward success and satisfaction of our wishes and desires. When we are in balance and harmony with our goals, it becomes easier to do the daily things required to meet those goals. The important thing is to set goals that really do fulfill our truest desires in life, so that our passion is really and sincerely engaged in the fulfillment of those goals, and to set out a roadmap of small, daily tasks and actions that will help us each day get a little closer to achieving those goals.

In much the same way that we are standing on our planet Earth while it orbits the Sun yet we don’t feel ourselves moving, we are slowly advancing toward the goals that we have set for ourselves even if we can’t see ourselves making daily progress. Mindfulness is about seeing and deliberately connecting to that daily progress, in order to more effectively manifest your goals.

Mindfulness means that you focus and engage fully with any act that you are performing at the present moment while understanding the long-term intent that inspires that act. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds in six months, then everything you do in service of that goal is an act that you can enjoy, cherish, celebrate, and reward yourself for, so that you may continue to be inspired to perform that act again repeatedly until your goal has been met.

So, for example, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds in six months, and right now you are at the gym doing 20 sit-ups, your best bet is to focus fully on the moment, your breathing, and the crunching of each muscle that you’re using to perform those 20 sit-ups. However, to make the experience even richer, and to help you stay motivated and inspired in the Present: in the back of your mind, let the image of your goal shine like a beacon. While focusing on the 20 sit-ups, also allow your mind to see yourself looking fabulous with 30 pounds less in six months, wearing new clothes!

Mindfulness is the act of using your mental abilities deliberately to consciously fuel your experiences in the moment. Focus and concentration make for a more fulfilling experience of the present, no matter what you are doing. Nevertheless, mindfully connecting that act that you are performing in the present to the larger framework of your Future Goals plugs your energy directly into the Zone of Infinite Possibilities, and as you focus intensely on the Present, you are at once manifesting your goals for the Future.

So go ahead and go for both at once! Stay in the Present but never lose sight of the Goal. Once the Goal becomes the Present, set your sights on a new Goal, keep yourself inspired and motivated, and connect your present mindfully to the Zone of Infinite Possibilities.

Breathe Through It

Proper Breathing Techniques for Optimal Performance

Breathing is the most essential function of our bodies. It’s something we do without ever being conscious of it in; fact we literally do it even in our sleep. But what happens if and when we do apply conscious awareness to the act of breathing?

Proper breathing techniques can be a source of power and strength during any physical activity. Breathing properly ensures that all your organs, cells, and tissues as constantly being re-energized by the delivery of fresh pure oxygen to the entire body. Proper flexing, stretching, holding and resisting must be aided by proper breathing techniques in order to experience the full benefits of physical exercise and exertion. Here are some tips for optimizing your breathing technique during workouts for maximum performance and health benefits.

I recommend inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth for maximum circulation of breath and purest oxygen delivery to the lungs. The nose filters toxins from the air and regulates the temperature of the air we inhale, while also naturally slowing down the act of inhaling, all of which ensure more efficient delivery of purified oxygen to the lungs. According to Roy Sugarman, Ph.D., director of applied neuroscience for Athletes’ Performance and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, nose breathing also calms the mind and body by increasing the saturation of CO2 in the bloodstream, thus also increasing endurance.

Generally speaking, the inhale should happen during the least strenuous part of any exercise: So for example, if doing squats, inhale as you come up, and exhale on the exertion as you bend into the squat. Similarly, when doing crunches, inhale as you release, and exhale on the exertion as you bend into the crunch, and so on with other resistance exercises.

Inhale slowly by drawing in your breath from the solar plexus. Using the nostrils to draw in the breath, let the muscles of the diaphragm expand to allow for maximum expansion of the lungs, drawing the air in gradually and naturally. You will visibly note the expansion of the lungs dAnna Hartman, director of Performance Physical Therapy at Athletes’ Performance recommends “The rib cage should expand in a 3D pattern, top to bottom, back to front, and to the sides” during the act of inhalation.

During aerobic activity such as jump rope, running and jumping jacks, the trick is to maintain a steady and smooth flow of breath in and out of the body to keep the body oxygenated and assist with endurance. For some, a series of short shallow breaths done to a count of 2:2 works best to cool down the body and maintain endurance. This is done by inhaling two short breaths through the nose and then exhaling two short breaths through the mouth or nose.

During stretching exercises, the length of inhalation should equal the length of the exhalation, or the exhalation should be slightly longer than the inhalation. This technique calms the nervous system, lowers blood pressure, and reduces anxiety and stress, allowing muscles to stretch beyond their comfort zone.

In short: breathing is the key to staying alive. If we train our minds and bodies to do it properly, we really can use this basic automatic function to improve our quality of life.

Blue? Manage Mood-Swings With Exercise

We’ve heard it over and over again about how exercise produces endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals our body unleashes when we’re working out and releasing stored toxins in our muscles. We know that exercise improves our mood and in some cases even counteracts clinical depression, as well as improving a number of related health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis.

But how exactly does exercise help us to feel happier and more alive?

Aside from producing endorphins, neurotransmitters, and endocannabinoids – chemicals known to decrease anxiety, depression, sadness and negative thought patterns – exercise also boosts the immune system, producing a general physical well-being, and raises body temperature which has been known to calm stress.

Other benefits of regular exercise include:

  1. Increased confidence in one’s physical appearance and physical abilities.
  2. Increased range of motion and flexibility, allowing for pain-free enjoyment of a wide range of physical activities.
  3. Increased control over weight-gain and muscle tone, improved appearance and relief from minor aches and pains in the joints.
  4. Increased interest in healthy eating as a natural result of getting more in touch with our bodies, which in turn will decrease the amount of toxins in the system that feed negative emotions
  5. Increased social interaction can have positive effects on one’s mood and disposition if one chooses to work out with a group, take a class, or join a gym

Generally, the more you exercise the more these benefits are pronounced in your body and life, and the less you’ll find yourself combating depressive episodes and negative mood swings in life.

Overall, if you wake up with the Blues, consider going for a brisk walk, or maybe jumping some rope. You will instantly note that your body is helping you improve your mood by producing feel-good substances and reinforcing the spirit of energy over lethargy, health over illness, and cheerful agility over emotional and physical stagnation. That little emotional perk that you need may be as easy as mustering up the willingness to go out for a brief walk, do some stretching in your office chair, or hit the gym after work.

Weak in the Knees? You CAN Fix That!

As we get older, many of us complain of weakness in the knees and chronic knee pain. Many of us see this weakness as part of the normal run-of-the-mill process of aging, and basically an inevitable malady of getting older. But boy is that ever Wrong! Strength and flexibility in the knees and legs are essential to maintaining our balance, coordination and health as we age, and yes, there ARE things you can do to strengthen your knees and legs so that they can carry you solidly and firmly throughout your entire lifetime.

One thing we must remember is that the knees are only one set of joints in a system of joints that support our entire bodies. So, for example, an injury to the hips or ankles will affect the strength and condition of the knees, because the system of joints in the body is all connected. Posture is critical to the health and strength of our knees, hips and ankles, and so is muscle tone around the ligaments that keep our joints functioning optimally. In order to keep our legs and knees healthy and strong, our entire bodies must be strong and tone, and our posture must be optimal.

At Morphe, our regular Gravity Training routine includes plenty of movements and exercises that strengthen the knees, hips and ankles as well as improving overall balance and posture. Here is a list of some of the basic exercises that help to maintain optimal flexibility and strength in the knees and legs:

  1. Squats ~ these strengthen and tone hips, legs, buttocks, knees and ankles and are an essential staple in any fitness routine. Using Morphe’s Gravity Training System to do your squats on the board also allows for variations such as single-leg squats with legs crossed over knees, or ski squats which help to strengthen knees, calves and ankles and encourage improve coordination. Start with sets of 25.
  1. Jump rope: three minutes of jump rope daily not only provides cardio and fat burning but also strengthen the hips, legs, ankles and knees, encouraging flexibility and strength in these joints. Variations on jump-rope techniques strengthen different leg muscles while also aiding balance and posture, all of which help to maintain better leg and knee health throughout life.
  1. Lunges: variations on this exercise help to open the hip flexors which in turn support mobility and flexibility in the knees. Again, doing these using the glide-board that’s part of our Gravity Training System allows for many variations that strengthen and tone the calves and buttocks, supporting the legs and knees. Start with 20 on each side.
  1. Step-ups: this exercise not only builds strength and flexibility in the knees, but also enhances balance and coordination, strengthening our posture and indirectly supporting leg and knee function as we walk and go about daily activities. Using a low surface approximately 2 feet off the ground, start with 15 forward step-ups with each leg. Variations on this exercise might include extending the raised leg either in front, to the rear or to the side while stepping up.
  1. Walking: This should already be a part of everyone’s daily routine, but it won’t hurt to remind you: walk at least 30 minutes daily and if possible 1 hour daily. Try to walk on different types of terrain including concrete, grass, sand and indoor flooring to strengthen your feet, ankles, legs, knees, buttocks and hips. There is no greater exercise for building strength, balance and posture than daily walking, and your knees and legs will thank you as you grow older.

Morphing As a Way of Life

A lot of what motivates clients to return to Morphe again and again and stay committed for years is the transformation that the Morphe philosophy encourages in each participant. Over the years, I’ve watched my clients transform their bodies, lives and outlooks through consistent discipline fueled by positive thinking.

Well guess what? This model of transformation, growth, expansion, satisfaction, and success that the Morphe Method encourages in our clients doesn’t only apply to our bodies, minds, and spirits; it also applies to the business and career sector of life. As a matter of fact, the energy generated by the Morphe Method of transformation is so powerful that even Morphe itself as a business is now undergoing an explosion of growth and transformation!

That’s right: As a consequence of 10 years of dedication, discipline, goal-setting, and positive thoughts, Morphe will be moving in March 2015 to a permanent new location! We will also be expanding our offerings to include special fitness programs for youth and greater visibility and engagement in our community. Our Gravity Training and Combination Rock Climbing and TRX Anti-Gravity Training will be expanded as will our wellness therapies and spa treatments including Massage, Acupuncture, Ultracavitation, Infrared Body Wrap and Therapeutic Ultrasound.

I am extremely optimistic, excited and thrilled to be at the threshold of a change like this with Morphe at this moment, and want to thank all of my dedicated clients for their dedication, discipline and loyalty, and especially for using the Morphe Method of personal transformation to transform your own lives and, by extension, the life of Morphe itself!

With my deepest gratitude,

—Roberto

 

 

Slow Down and Get More Done

A famous actor was once known to say: “Dress me slowly, I’m in hurry!” I often heard this phrase around the house growing up, and as a kid, I never understood its logic.  But as I’ve grown and learned a whole lot about life, I realize those are words to live by.

In today’s frantic world of deadlines, appointments and distractions, we seem to be in a constant battle with Time. “I don’t have time to relax and breathe” is a common theme running through our subconscious.

We think we have to be in a continuous state of adrenaline rush to accomplish everything on our to-do list. But the fact is, the more we take time out to breathe, relax, stretch and feel our bodies, the more clear-headed and focused we become, and voilá: the more we get things done!

Relaxation is vital to maintaining a healthy heart rate. When your heart rate is continuously accelerated by the stress of being in a hurry, your ability to think clearly is actually diminished. The rising adrenaline levels launches you into fight-or-flight mode and you feel more nervous and irritable, you make more mistakes, you forget things, and worst of all, you’re rapidly making yourself sick.

Another common mistake is multitasking. We all have to do it, and it seems all of us have our phones by our side constantly, which means constant interruptions from whatever we’re doing.  So it’s a necessary fact of life, but it causes increased stress and increased heart rate.

Make your daily to-do list reasonably short, and create it in order of priority, then actually tackle things in that order. Finish one task and take a quick break: go outside, walk, move, or just stretch and breathe, before getting on to the next task.  Try to limit your use of the phone to these breaks, and silence it while you get important things done.  You’ll find that at the end of the day you’ll be far less tired after having accomplished far more tasks.

Just the awareness that you are in prime condition to get things done will actually help you to get more things done!  When you’re properly rested, de-stressed, and operating from a place of relaxed clarity, you feel far more confident in your ability to accomplish your day’s goals.  This confidence influences everything you do, and amazingly, things begin to go more smoothly, naturally.

This is because your nervous system is responding to the message that your brain is sending which is “everything is ok.” Once your brain is sending out this message, you become a lot less worried about Time.

Stop. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy Life. Now continue with what you were doing.  Everything in life is about finding a healthy balance.

Build a Lean Machine

A truly lean body consists of firm, sculpted muscles, a tight core, strong limbs, and zero storage fat.  To get this type of body—and maintain it—apply the age-old combination of Diet and Exercise, with a little bit of Supplementation thrown in. In spite of all the hype out there, this is still the only way to achieve results!

Diet

Just as every body is different, so is every metabolism, and hence everyone’s optimal diet. Nonetheless, the goal of your dietary focus should be to build lean muscle mass while eliminating fat deposits.  The best way to achieve this is by eating lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, while eliminating saturated and hydrogenated fats and simple carbohydrates such as refined sugar, white flour and processed foods. Lean protein effectively builds muscle mass while complex carbohydrates provide energy. Healthy fats such as those derived from olive oil, coconut, tree nuts, and avocado nourish healthy hair, nails, and skin, while lubricating the organs and stabilizing hormone levels to burn fat.

Supplements

Supplementation should be specific to each individual body and supervised by a health professional after careful evaluation of your needs.  Supplements should also be rotated so the body does not grow dependent on them.  In many cases, proper supplementation may assist in losing weight and building muscle by supplying more nutrients to the body, making for quicker results. Amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fish oils provide anti-oxidant protection to protect against disease and aging, and also provide strength and fuel for your workout.

Exercise

Your ideal exercise regimen should combine daily aerobics with one hour of strength training at least twice a week for best results. Once you experience how this will transform both your energy and your appearance, your own body will motivate you to continue!

Maintaining Proper Posture and Balance

Your sense of balance functions through a dynamic process in which your brain and body assimilate and respond to physical information using your eyes, muscles and nervous system as a means of relating physically to the world.

Proper posture is an integral part of human balance. The way in which you hold up your body actually makes a huge difference in your ability to maintain proper balance. By improving your posture and thus your sense of balance, you improve your physical stability and increase your overall mobility, as well as preventing many injuries and pain in the back, neck and joints.  Overall, proper posture and a healthy sense of balance can mean the difference between feeling the years creeping up on you and maintaining your youthful energy and vigor.

Your sense of balance begins to deteriorate at around age 40. Poor posture and lack of balance is often associated with an increase in falls and injuries, such as wrist and hip fractures, even in younger adults.  To prevent this deterioration, it is important to practice proper posture and perform simple balancing exercises every day.

How can you improve your posture?

  1. Book it. Walk around for five minutes each day with a book balanced on your head.
  2. Sit Up. Make sure that your computer monitor and chair are ergonomically arranged so that your back remains straight and relaxed, with elbows comfortably bent at a 45° angle and feet planted firmly on the ground while you are working on your computer.
  3. Stretch.  Remember to take frequent breaks during which you stretch your back and shoulders by gently bending from side to side with one arm extended over your head.
  4. Step in Line.  When walking, always shift your body weight from heel to toe, using the entire foot to support your weight.  Place one foot in front of the other and direct your body weight in a straight line.

How can you maintain your sense of balance?

  1. Stand on one leg.  Try this at first for 10 seconds, then close your eyes and continue for an additional 5 seconds.  Repeat with the alternate leg.  Practice this exercise at least once daily.  You may need to hold on to a table or wall for the first 3-4 seconds before letting go.  As you become accustomed to doing this exercise every day, your balance will improve drastically and you will be able to hold the position for longer periods.
  2. Balance Beam. Try walking on top of a straight and narrow surface, such as the curb of the sidewalk, a wall or a real balance beam.  This exercise strengthens the coordination between your eyes, muscles and nervous system, and will greatly improve your balance when practiced regularly.
  3. Walk backwards. Walk backwards for a stretch of 10-15 feet using a wall to guide yourself. Try not to turn around and look behind you, and maintain an even distance from the wall while walking.
  4. Get out in Nature. Nature is strategically designed to help humans improve all of our physical and psychological capabilities.  While walking along a dirt road or trail, your sense of balance naturally kicks in to keep you from stumbling over obstacles on the uneven ground, and from bumping into trees and branches in your path.  A weekly nature walk goes a long way toward improving your navigation skills in the physical world, and your sense of balance will be among the first to reap the benefits!

Morphe’s Simple Formula for Success

 

The difference between people who are living their dream life and those who are stuck in a rut waiting for change to just happen is very simple:  successful people set goals – and furthermore, they achieve them!

Why does this work out so well for some of us and not for others?  Do successful people know some kind of secret that helps them fulfill their life goals?  How can the rest of us get in on this act?

The secret lies in a simple formula:

PASSION + DISCIPLINE = RESULTS

Let’s look at the first variable in this equation:  Passion.  What exactly is passion?  We usually think of passion as that powerful, mysterious and magnetic force that makes people fall in love with other people.  But isn’t it also true that this same force can make people fall in love with things, places, projects, dreams and goals as well?

Passion is the force that propels everything in life, and that is why it’s so important to recognize your true Passion and use it as the seed from which to grow your dream life.  If you set goals that respond to your personal Passion and desires, your goals will inspire you to move forward.  If you set goals based on what you think others expect of you, it will become very difficult for you to muster up the Discipline required to achieve the goal.

What exactly is Discipline?  Dictionary.com defines Discipline as: activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training. So how do you remain motivated enough to stick to this activity or regimen long enough to successfully achieve your goal?

What’s really going to keep you disciplined is the Passion, or desire, to achieve your goal, but this Passion needs to be rekindled every so often, in order for you to really feel the excitement, energy and motivation to stick to the Discipline.  The secret to keeping this Passion alive is to constantly remind yourself of why you want to achieve this particular goal.

For example, let’s say your goal is to quit smoking.  It’s not enough to want to do it just because it will make you feel healthier.  You can fuel the Passion for quitting by taking the time to write down all the reasons why you want to quit, and posting them around your home or office as gentle reminders.  You may write:  Smoking makes my breath smell bad; I don’t want to support evil Tobacco companies; I don’t want my clothes to smell bad; Smoking makes my skin more wrinkled, etc.

With this kind of daily motivation, it’s much easier for you to stay focused on the Passion and in turn, to muster up daily Discipline.   Also, one slip doesn’t mean that your entire Passion is gone and that the goal is totally out of your reach.  Simple motivational messages will help you get back on track by reconnecting your thoughts with the original Passion that made you set your goal in the first place.

Positive Thinking for Positive Results

I have a sign in my office that says:  “Your thoughts lead to your actions, your actions become your habits, and your habits become your character.”  This is why your thoughts, and the commitment to continuous positive thinking are so important. If you want to change what you’re attracting, change the way you think!  If you focus on what you don’t want, that’s exactly what you will get, because that is how the Law of Attraction works.  Your thoughts are controlling every detail of your life, so use them to get positive results!

Thoughts are kind of like the weather.  They are there whether you pay attention to them or not.  And in fact, the ones that you don’t pay attention to, which are happening on a sub-conscious level, are the ones that are affecting you the most.

Your thoughts attract and create your external reality, so they must always reflect the life you are aiming to have.  Make a commitment to turn every negative thought into a positive one, and remember that everything in life happens for a good reason. Instead of thinking “I am stuck here in this dead-end job forever,” replace the thought with “I am here preparing myself for my dream career.” Focus on what you DO want, and know that it’s coming!

Listen carefully and consciously to your inner thoughts.  Are you putting yourself down, expressing fear or insecurity, harboring resentment, laying blame, or being just plain pessimistic?  The first step to improving your thinking patterns is to listen to your inner thoughts and discover exactly which of your repetitive thought patterns are attracting the negative energy in your life.

Make a list of all of the negative thoughts that plague you on a regular basis (and believe me, unless you are living the life you’ve always dreamed of, you have these!) and write down a positive affirmation to replace each one.  Print the list out and carry it in your wallet.  Whenever a negative thought strikes, use your list of positive affirmations to beat down the negative energy!

After only a few days of practicing this, you will notice that your life is heading in a much more positive direction, that you feel healthier and happier, and that suddenly your goals seem within reach.  The more you practice the Power of Positive Thinking, the more you will see Positive Results!  This is the beginning of getting everything you want in life.