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How to Open Your Throat Chakra and Bring Energy into Your Speaking: Interview with Dr. Marina Kostina

Dr. Marina Kostina and I recently returned from a workshop we conducted at the University of Iowa, where we got to work with amazing teachers of Russian, training them on the effective use of educational technology in foreign language classrooms as part of the STARTALK grant program.  There are many ingredients that go into the creation of effective and engaging lessons, presentations, speeches. One of them, however, is not very often discussed – it is the energetics of the speaker. Dr. Marina Kostina is a perfect expert to talk about energy. She is a Reiki master/teacher, self-worth & net-worth coach, researcher, speaker and trainer. You can find our more about her work at http://www.DrMarinaKostina.com.

Let’s watch the interview and see how we can all benefit from aligning our chakras for more powerful and creative self-expression.

By | 2017-08-08T19:34:34+00:00 August 8th, 2017|Communication, Creativity, Public Speaking, Yoga|0 Comments

Speaking under the New Moon: Communication rituals of release and promise

Do you believe that the Moon influences you on some level – emotionally, physically or spiritually? Well, if the Moon affects ocean tides, why not us? After all, we are made up mostly of water. Many poets and writers chose the Moon as their muse. Whether you pay attention to the phases of the Moon or not, it may be useful to imagine that your words are like those ocean tides, rising and falling, gaining power and focus with the rhythms of the Moon. As I am writing this post, the Moon is about 3 days old, it’s a 10.5% waxing crescent, growing its thin thread of light. What inspiration can it bring to our communication, whether it is public speaking, presenting, self-talk or journaling?
The New Moon is about planting the seeds for things to come and releasing everything that is in the way of the new energy. Here are a few metaphors and word rituals you can adapt to celebrate the new beginnings.

Journaling is a great practice to gather your thoughts and process your feelings. The New Moon invites you to look inward for answers. The answers are closer than you think. The following question prompts can help you harness the energy of transformation.

  • What come up for you as topics to focus on or expand in your personal growth, family, relationships, career, well-being at this time?
  • How do you want to feel in those areas of your life? What words best describe your feelings?
  • What new routines and habits would support the themes you identified?
  • What stands in the way of transformation?
  • What do you need to know to make the desired changes happen?
  • What do you need to let go of to make things happen?
  • Who will support you on your journey?
  • What excites you about this transformation?

Now, it’s time to weave the Moon thread. Here’s what it may look like, for example, if you chose “boundaries” as a topic for the area of relationships.

I want to be better at setting boundaries with people. I want to feel empowered and in control of my social life. I need to learn how to say “No” more often when invitations or projects don’t feel right. I worry that my refusals would upset people. I am a people-pleaser. I need to know that my relationships will be OK and even better when I learn to focus on things that matter, and that people can handle their own feelings, whether they are upset with me or now, and I can handle mine. I need to let go of my fears and insecurities. I need to love myself more. My family and my true friends will understand me and will be there for me. I am excited at the possibility of people respecting my time and my commitments. I am excited to have more time to do the things I love.

In your personal communication, you may feel the need to release something that has not been said or set forth the ideas that have been hiding in the background. Voice what’s there, waiting to be set free. Your best words will come from the mindful, sincere and honest place. The masks are off. Be prepared to be vulnerable. This is how your new relationships will sprout under the tender light of the New Moon.

In public speaking, the New Moon calls for an enticing opening – a story or an anecdote to capture the audience’s attention from the start and transport them into the new reality you are about to present to them. A powerful open-ended question can work as your “Big Bang” opening too, and so can unexpected statements or quotations. Giving a solid roadmap will ensure that your audience is ready for the journey and won’t get lost in the swirl of ideas. The New Moon also offers the Big Promise. What will your audience be able to do as a result of your speech? What do you promise your audience will get? How can you help the audience members release their pain? A good framework to tease your audience to a point that they are eager to hear your message is to say something like, “By the time you leave here today, you will be able to…” What will they be able to do as a result of your speech that they don’t do right now?

Finally, don’t forget to allow the moments of introspection in your speech. The Moon invites us to reflect on our experiences and feelings. People remember better things that are relevant to their lives. Reflection questions challenge the audience to think about how your main points relate to their lives and personal experiences. What can you ask your audience to make them think about their own situation as it relates to your message? In which context are they most likely to apply your message?

Whatever your communicative challenge is today, the New Moon invites you to focus on the energy that needs to be released before new opportunities can show up and unleash their transformative potential.

Your lizard brain on vacation: How environment builds the brain

Have you noticed how certain habits and routines change when you change your surroundings, for example, when you go on vacation? Your environment constantly shapes your brain and your habits whether you are aware of it or not.

In his book “Situations Matter,” Sam Sommers argues that by understanding the powerful influence that context has in our lives and using this knowledge to rethink how we see the world, we can be more effective at work, at home, and in daily interactions with others.

Today, I bring you my observations about the power of environment to change our habits from the beautiful island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos, where my daughter and I have recently spent a blissful week of vacation.

By | 2017-05-05T15:00:44+00:00 May 5th, 2017|Brain, Peak Performance, Perception|0 Comments

Stewing is worse than doing: How to overcome procrastination and overwhelm

Do you ever feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all the things you need to do? And when you feel overwhelmed, do you sometimes complain, procrastinate and not take any action at all (or spend hours on social media)?  And all this time, you are building resistance. You are not alone. Many people can relate to this experience. Resisting and complaining sap your energy. Whenever you feel the build-up of resistance, you want to stop and think about how you can transform that inner resistance into strength and action.

Stewing is worse than doing.

What causes procrastination?

There may be several causes of procrastination. Here are some common reasons why people procrastinate:

  • Poor time management habits;
  • Feeling of overwhelm;
  • Perfectionism;
  • Resistance to the task itself or other people’s expectations;
  • Lack of focus, purpose, or commitment;
  • Lack of confidence;
  • Indecisiveness;
  • Fear of failure;
  • Fear of success.

So, how do you move from the state of being “stuck” and resistant to acceptance and action?

You have to find your “tapas,” and I am not talking about Spanish appetizers here, albeit delicious.  I am talking about one of the Niyamas in yoga – habits and practices of healthy living. The word “tapas” in Sanskrit  means heat. You need to build your inner fire of enthusiasm and self-discipline strong enough to burn off any causes of procrastination above. Just like you engage the core muscles in your body to maintain balance, power and control, the following six-pack practices will help you build your mind muscle and start moving forward.

1. Visioning.  Connect your project to your core goals and values. Why is it important in the long term?  How will it help you become a better version of yourself? What are the potential rewards of your labor? Enthusiasm can grow as you become more engaged in the task. What can help you get into the state of flow?

You can also purposefully generate some external pressure to help your build your inner fire.  Talk to people who can motivate you for action. Make public commitments to get things done by certain dates. When other people expect to receive something, you will be more likely to deliver on that promise. Time constraints may be a good thing as they can drive creativity. Create a schedule and a routine around the activities you need to do. Remember that the brain loves patterns and routines. Make sure that your new patterns include a cue to get yourself started and periodic rewards to keep going. This cue – action – reward cycle is at the core of habit formation. What will you do for fun to reward yourself for your great work? Think of little rewards you can give yourself when you complete each part of a longer project.

2. Assessing progress. Organize your thoughts and assess your progress objectively. Mentally run down the list of burning questions you must address. Here are a few favorites to get you started:

  • What needs to be done?
  • Why would it be desirable to do those things?
  • What have you already accomplished that will help you move forward with this project?
  • What do you need to know to complete this project?
  • What kinds of resources and help will you need when you start working on the project?
  • What’s the next action step?

Write out your answers. Writing brings clarity, calmness and objectivity to the mind. Notice any shifts in your mental and emotional states once you have done the exercise.

3. SMART goal setting. Create a plan or action. Define objectives, deadlines, and milestones for your project. It’s time to set SMART goals:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Realistic (but don’t be afraid to stretch yourself)
  5. Time-defined

Try a three-tier structure for your goals: the theme, the goals to support your theme, and the steps to accomplish your goals.

Your theme can be the big reason behind the project, the main aspect of it, or the crucial learning and development point. The theme helps to unify the parts of the project, provide additional motivation and momentum to move forward.

Break your project into well-defined goals that will serve as the milestones for your work. When deciding upon goals, make them big enough to really stretch your comfort zone. We often underestimate what we can achieve.

Picture the benefits you gain from completing your goals. Visualize the outcomes. How would you know you have accomplished your objective? How will it feel to succeed? Capture your best reasons on paper and return to them when you need extra motivation.

Identify the cost of your goals. Each goal comes with a price tag. What do you have to give up for the opportunity to achieve your goals? Identify those trade-offs and decide if you are truly willing to pay the price.

Prioritize and eliminate inconsistent goals. The goals we set often compete for our time, effort, and resources. It’s important to know the priority of your goals and check for conflicting objectives. You may be as passionate about visiting Italy as you are about traveling to Bali, but you can’t be in two places at the same time. You must choose.

Set a deadline for each of your goals.

Schedule regular intervals to revisit your goals and track your progress.

Finally, divide your goals into smaller tasks or steps, giving each task a target date for completion as well. These steps will give you a clear picture of what you should be working on at any given time.

4. Mental rehearsal. Use procrastination to brainstorm and mentally “rehearse” the project. Give yourself permission to come up with bad ideas and don’t filter anything. Your unrestrained imagination may lead you to innovative solutions. You can also use this time to create a mind map of your project. Those of you with a perfectionist streak may find it therapeutic to produce something fast without worrying too much about quality. Remember, it’s just a rehearsal. That way, you will have something to build on and improve later.

5. Gamification. To make your project more enjoyable, bring in some game elements. Schedule periodic rewards to have something to look forward to. Find a way to get more feedback about your performance by soliciting it from your network or sharing some ideas on social media.  Make sketches, draw or doodle to find new creative ways to present information. Take time to daydream as it is associated with increased creativity. Change your surrounding and try working in a coffee shop or park to bring some fresh sensory experiences to your brain. Look for the sources of inspiration.

6. Staying energized. You want to keep your inner fire burning without getting burnt out. Give yourself extra time to plan for any unforeseeable delays.  Make sure you get a good amount of sleep. Your brain needs oxygen and nutrients for optimal performance. Both nutrition and exercise directly affect the quality of your thinking. Rest, walks, meditation, listening to music help to recharge your brain. Self-care is not a luxury, it is a prerequisite of productivity.

How do you build your tapas, or inner determination, to stay on course?