Why Yoga?

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Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives.

– Cybele Tomlinson

 

 

photo cred: michellegardella.com

Alternate Nostril Breathing.

When breathing is restricted and shallow your body doesn’t feel safe.  Muscles tense. Chest tightens.  Jaw clenches. You under-breathe.  The mind becomes anxious.  Thoughts race.

I’m a firm believer that breath is medicine.  The practice of Alternate Nostril Breathing can help calm an agitated, over-anxious mind.

 

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I wholeheartedly believe that Alternate Nostril Breathing is up there, as one of the most therapeutic calming rituals.  It profoundly helps to settle, calm and nourish an agitated mind and wired nervous system.   Even after only two minutes you can feel and notice a distinct difference as to how you feel.  Below, I will outline 5 benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing and some simple how to’s, to get you started.

 

|| Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing ||

1. It revitalizes you. 

A few rounds of Alternate Nostril Breathing is a quick pick me up if you are feeling flat, tired or over stressed. It provides your body with a much needed dose of extra energy.

2. It calms an agitated mind:

Many are prone to worrying.  A few minutes of focused Alternate Nostril Breathing is helpful in calming the  “over thinking” and “over-doing” mind.

3. It encourages a calmer emotional state: 

In times of emotional distress and upset, a few rounds of mindful Alternate Nostril Breathing will soften the intensity of an over-stimulated emotional state.  The longer you practice, the more stable your thinking, and the calmer your emotions will become.

4. It improves sleep:

If you have trouble sleeping, lay on your right hand side, gently close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath through your left nostril.  See if this simple gentle practice helps in getting a sounder nights rest.

 5. It soothes your nervous system: 

By focusing on your breath and deepening it, your brain will register this message and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system.  You can effectively switch your nervous system from a stressed response, into a relaxation response.

 

Breathing-Exercises-for-a-Peaceful-and-Healthy-Lifestyle|| Alternate Nostril Breathing How To’s ||

 

Step one: Use right thumb to close off right nostril.

Step two: Inhale slowly through left nostril.

Step three: Pause for a second.

Step four: Now close left nostril with ring finger and release thumb off right nostril.

Step five: Exhale through your right nostril.

Step six: Now, inhale through right nostril.

Step seven: Pause.

Step eight: Use thumb to close of right nostril.

Step nine: Breathe out through left nostril.

 

This is one round. Start slowly with 1 or 2 rounds and gradually increase. Never force your breathing. Sit quietly for a few moments after you have finished.  Enjoy the benefits.  

Know your breath is medicine.

 

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I hope you have found this breathing exercise useful. Please reach out if I can be helpful or resourceful in any way.  I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher in Newport Beach, California. You can contact me HERE.  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as, online through eTherapi.

 

 

 

photo cred. www.michellegardella.com

 

 

Spring Detox : The Mindful Way.

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN WHEN PEOPLE BECOME RUTHLESS ABOUT SPRING CLEANING!!

Spring-Clean

I’m a huge fan of detoxing and decluttering. However, most people are so busy cleaning up their homes and doing spring detox diets, they often forget to freshen up their psychological side.  

 

It’s important to note, that each of our feelings carries an important message. When we let ourselves feel our emotions rather than shoving them away, we can begin to experience greater emotional well being.  When we don’t allow this process to flow, we may not have fully experienced an emotion & its message hinders us from moving on.  In other words, we remain STUCK.  Psychologically stuck, if you will.

 

So… as the 2015 spring cleaning embarks upon us, perhaps it’s time to swing open the door of your emotional wardrobe and ask yourself …  “What was I thinking? What is that? Is this emotion useful?”  Maybe, it’s finally time to listen to what you’ve been suppressing…  Of course, I always encourage being gentle with oneself.

 

Meditation Yoga woman meditating at beach sunsetThere is no one size fits all rule for an emotional detox but the following 3 tips will help you begin to spring clean your mind.

 

1. write  One of the first things I suggest to a new client, regardless of the issue, is to journal.  Spend a few nights in a row writing out your thoughts. Don’t lift your pen from the page; just write whatever thoughts come into your head for an entire page. Just let go and let your emotions come from your body to your mind and onto paper.

 

2. feel  If you are feeling low, irritable or anxious, do your best to confront the uncomfortable feeling and try not to run away in search of a quick fix/distraction.  Be honest with yourself and look at the feeling in the face and feel your emotions. Go for a walk, take a bath or listen to music. Allow your feelings manifest and fully embrace them. Cry, yell, scream just let what needs to happen, happen.

 

3.  sleep  Sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. Our brains don’t shut down during sleep, but they spend that time processing our emotions. Ensure you get enough sleep when you are freshening up your mental health this spring.  This minor detail will make a huge impact on your ability to process feelings throughout the day.

Spring has sprung! So this year, make sure you give yourself a fresh start. Emotional spring cleaning is one way to stay as healthy as possible —  And remember it’s okay to make yourself a priority!

 

shelbs-river-106Are you or someone you know looking for a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationship issues?   Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

Simple Reminders.

Life can get heavy.  Beautiful moments, yes… But heavy at the same time.  It can become all too easy to drift into negativity-land and worry-mode.  This is why it is so important to have a daily practice where you can be quiet, reflect, honor your SELF and your TRUTH.  Try it today.  Even if only for 2 minutes.  Breathe in some gratitude.  

Simple reminders, from yours truly. 

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On being PERFECT…

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  A common theme I see in my practice is PERFECTIONISM.  It underlines most of the external issues people face on a daily basis and it exists in both men and women. ______________________________________________________________

First, the most effective way to reduce perfectionism is to first become aware of your perfectionistic beliefs and then to change your behaviors.  You may also project these expectations (often unconsciously) onto your children, family members and colleagues. Having perfectionistic expectations can make you rather difficult to live and work with because no one can be perfect!  Let me repeat…  No one can be perfect!

After becoming aware of your perfectionistic tendencies, the next step is to change your behaviors. By simply reading this blog, reflecting on it and discussing it, the change process may have already begun.

5 strategies that can be used to overcome perfectionism.

1.  Continue to monitor underlying assumptions: Remember that doing your best in any situation is all that you can do. There are times when this will result in a perfectly completed task and there are times when it will not. If you are able to replace perfectionistic assumptions with a realistic and flexible belief, you and others will benefit.  I offer you this mantra.  Repeat as necessary.

“I expect excellence and responsibility, not perfectionism, from myself and others.”

2.  Expose yourself to imperfection: Gradually confront the situations that make you feel uncomfortable and observe how, in reality, these situations are manageable even when done imperfectly!

3.  Prevent perfectionism by resisting the urge to monitor it: For example, stop excessively checking your weight, focusing on your body imperfections or correcting the imperfect behavior of others. Becoming aware of these behaviors and stopping them reduces your perfectionism by showing you that these behaviors are, in reality… VERY unnecessary.

4.  Set priorities: Prioritizing can be very useful if you are overwhelmed with the volume of things that need to get done. Prioritizing involves three steps:

  1. Generate a list of tasks.
  2. Rank the items in order of importance.
  3. Complete tasks in that specified order.

5.  Manage procrastination: If you find that your perfectionism leads to procrastination, consider dividing larger tasks into more manageable components. This will result in projects that can be completed more easily and with less anxiety. Anxiety fuels perfection, so the less anxiety you generate, the less perfectionism has a chance to drain your happiness or ability to focus on the task at hand.

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One of the greatest benefits of overcoming perfectionism is the ability to simply be present in the moment and to enjoy it.  Meditation, mindfulness and a gentle yoga practice can help you become more connected and accepting of yourself, which in turn, may lead to less perfectionistic tendencies.

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Are you or someone you know looking for a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationship issues?   Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

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shelbs-river-106Shelby Castile is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, currently working with adults, adolescents & couples at her psychotherapy practice in Newport Beach. She has worked in the therapy field, teaching relationship and communication skills to couples for over 16 years, sharing the journey of hundreds of individuals and couples. With deep roots in mindfulness-based approaches, her therapeutic style is richly eclectic, integrating several research-based modalities.  Aside from couples therapy, she also has specialized experience in working with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, chronic stress, addictions, and eating disorders.  Shelby is currently accepting new patients, accepts all major health insurance and is also available for online psychotherapy sessions for people not residing in Orange County.
In Shelby’s words, “I help to guide, support and empower my clients to build strength, balance, and flexibility from the inside out. My aim is to meet each persons individual needs and respect their unique way of being in the world.”
Photo Credits: michellegardella.com & iStock

Looking = Infidelity?

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Does your husband look at other women?  Are you not sure what to say or even if you should say anything at all?
I get this question a lot.  It goes something like this:
“I notice my husband checking out other women. When I confront him about it, he says that there’s nothing wrong with looking, and he has no intention to do anything more.  Am I right to be concerned, or am I overreacting?”
Here are some thoughts on this issue and a simple TWO STEP protocol I frequently offer my clients.
First, we are all unique and there is no right or wrong answer. Each person has their own path towards figuring out the best way to handle their particular situation.
Step One: I encourage you to WRITE.
It may help to write down the emotions you experience when you notice your partner doing this, so you can sort through it and decide what to share with your husband. And, do your best to go beyond your “surface feelings” in order to see the deeper issues.
Some questions to ask yourself while journaling that may help you:
  • Is this my own insecurity that is coming up?
  • What am I feeling uncertain about?
  • Am I fearful of losing him?
  • What am I questioning when I see his behavior?
  • What might HE be going through? {i.e. work change, aging parents etc.}
More often than not, you will need to work through your own issues, even as your husband deals with his.
Step Two:  I encourage you to TALK.
Speak up and let him know you’re feelings… once they are clear, of course!   Let your partner see how this is affecting you. Rather than REACTING quickly in fear, which could push him away and put him into defensive mode- attempt to come from your heart and tell him how it makes you feel when you see him looking at other women.  This is best done after writing out your thought on paper, which is why Step One is essential!
Some things to keep in mind when talking to your husband about your feelings that may help you:
  • Speak to him when you are in a calm, rational state of mind. {mornings are best, as the mind is most clear}
  • Make sure the environment your speaking to him in is appropriate.  i.e.) children free, not in the middle of a busy restaurant, and please be sober.  {morning coffee dates while the kids are still sleeping = a great time for relationship discussions}
  • Use “I” statements, as opposed to harsh blaming statements.
  • Take turns talking and listen patiently when he responds.
  • Communicate your feelings thoughtfully and do your best to articulate how his behavior makes you feel.
happy-couple-holding-hands_400x295_43Hopefully, the above 2 steps will give you some insight and guidance if you continue to notice your husband looking at other women.  However, if this is an issue in your relationship that continues to go unresolved and you constantly feel unheard, it may be time to seek professional help.  If you’re looking for relationship advice or support, working with a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist may be beneficial to you AND your relationship. 
Are you or someone you know looking for a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationship issues? 
Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.
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Shelby Castile is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, currently working with adults, adolescents & couples at her psychotherapy practice in Newport Beach. She has worked in the therapy field, teaching relationship and communication skills to couples for over 16 years, sharing the journey of hundreds of individuals and couples. With deep roots in mindfulness-based approaches, her therapeutic style is richly eclectic, integrating several Research-based approaches.  Aside from couples therapy, she also has specialized experience in working with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, chronic stress, addictions, and eating disorders.
Shelby has participated in numerous speaking engagements in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties on the topics of how chronic stress and trauma can manifest in the body and on the benefits of combining Psychotherapy with Yoga. In addition to being a classically trained and skilled Psychotherapist, Shelby is also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-500), training with Cloud Nine Studio. She began practicing yoga over 10 years ago and immediately fell in love with the benefits of the practice. Her approach to yoga is gentle and heart centered, concentrating on using the breath to cultivate mindfulness. 
In Shelby’s words, “I help to guide, support and empower my students to build strength, balance, and flexibility from the inside out. My aim is to meet each client’s individual needs and respect their unique way of being in the world.”
Shelby is currently accepting new patients, accepts all major health insurance and is also available for online psychotherapy sessions for people not residing in Orange County.
Photo Credits: michellegardella.com & iStock 
 

Staying Married for the Kids?

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I have had a lot of therapy sessions with spouses (usually wives) that have disclosed to me that they are “only staying married for the sake of the children.” These wives often admit that they are fairly unhappy and they worry that their lack of passion for life is going to negatively affect their children. Many times too, they also wonder if their children would be better off with a divorced ‘but happy’ parent, rather than one who remains married only for their sake, but who is ‘unhappy’ most of the time.
I also frequently hear from spouses (usually husbands) who tell me that they’ve “fallen out of love” or have simply “grown apart” from their partner.  Sometimes, people tell me that they don’t have anything in common with their spouse anymore or “feel nothing” or even “disgusted” (eeeek!) when they look at their partner.  No one said relationships were easy- but this does not sound like a fun time!  
marriagemistakes_sizedWe all know children are like sponges.  They are masterminds at picking up on and reflecting their parents’ unhappiness. And, they learn how to live their own lives, and form their own relationships, from YOU- their parents. Basically, your children are going to base their beliefs about what to expect and accept from a marriage by watching your own. That’s a lot of pressure!  It only makes sense then- that you’ll want to model the most healthy example as is possible because, ultimately, every parent’s focus is their child’s happiness and well being Agree?  
Interesting to note as well, very few of the people who contact me rarely entertain the fact that things in their marriage can improve or that things may in fact change for the better.  It’s almost as if they are counting on the fact that they are going to remain unhappily married and that there is not much that they can do about it.  This is frustrating to see, because I know first hand and with a great degree of certainty that the most marriages can be changed and improved. Yes, it takes a lot of work and some conscious choices and actions.  And yes, it will feel strange and vulnerable at first…. But, the pay off to this is huge for you, your spouse, and for your children.  
SO, I ask you this-Why settle for “living in a loveless marriage” or for “only going through the motions” –when it’s quite possible that you don’t have to? What if you could stay married AND could change the marriage so that it was more fulfilling for you?
Many people ‘assume’ that by choosing to stay together for the children’s sake, this also means being unhappy with their spouse. It does not have to be this way, people! I cannot tell you how many couples I’ve seen who were completely convinced that they’d “fallen out of love” and then did a complete 180*  turnaround. {Yes, they too, we also very surprised by this!}
Of course- Every situation different.  Every couple is unique.  
However, in my experience, I’ve seen that it is quite possible to stay together for the sake of your family, but to also restore your marriage to a place where it makes you happy as well.
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Are you or a loved one looking for a Psychotherapist who specializes in Marriage and Family relationships? Do you or a friend need help with a sticky social situation?  

Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face Psychotherapy sessions in Orange County, as well as online through eTherapi

 Photo Credits: iStock

Exhausted with Expectations?

Couple FightingExpectations.  We all have them.  
Have you ever found yourself feeling sad or disappointed and not known why? With a little reflection, you may realize you had an expectation about something or someone and didn’t even know it.
To help bring awareness to your expectations, take some time to explore what your expectations are and how you acquired them. Often times, we pick-up messages about what relationships are suppose to be like and how we should be treated from movies, TV, family, and friends. If we don’t take time to consider our expectations, then we may adopt other people’s expectations that are not relevant or appropriate for us.
Because of this, expectations can be detrimental to relationships.  Expectations can feel overwhelming and uncomfortable to the organic flow of our relationships. If we have expectations of others and are really attached to the outcome, then we can engage in power struggles by using manipulation or control tactics to get our way. This strategy often leads to conflict and unhealthy dynamics where partners do not feel free, authentic, and most importantly- honest.

Coming to the realization that your partner cannot live up to your expectations or ideals can be devastating. Couples can feel disappointed, frustrated, betrayed, or resentful and move to end the relationship because of unmet desires and unfulfilled expectations. Frustration can also be a signal that a boundary of yours is being crossed.

SO… What can you do?

1.  Own it. 
That’s right- Take ownership for your needs and desires!  The truth of the matter is – we know what we need better than anyone else. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to get our own needs met. If we give ownership to someone else for getting our needs met, than we can feel dependent, powerless, and misunderstood. Taking ownership also inspires action. We realize we have the power to create change. Also, we have the opportunity to nurture ourselves in the ways that we need it most. This is a difficult practice, but it can be very empowering.
2. Express. 
Yep.  Communication is KEY.  Express your needs, desires and expectations to your partner.  Have you ever consciously expected something from someone, but didn’t voice it? Usually, this is a recipe for disappointment and disaster. How is someone suppose to know what you want if you don’t tell them? Even if they get it right once in a while, it sets up a dynamic were two people are operating on assumptions, which leads to miscommunication and frustration.  Trust me, I see this ALL THE TIME!
We often hide our expectations, needs, and desires because we fear that we will be rejected or that our partner will not be able to meet our needs. But how do we experience resolution if we cut ourselves off before we even try?  This may seem scary and vulnerable because it requires you to open yourself up and acknowledge that you have needs to your partner. But imagine being able to ask for what you need in a clear and clean way (to own it, without making it someone else’s responsibility) and then to receive it from someone who genuinely wants to give it to you. This can truly be a transformational experience.  By taking ownership of our needs, desires, and expectations, we can work with our partners. We can help teach them what works and doesn’t work for us, and then we have the opportunity to learn and grow together.
3.  Empathize.
Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Usually, people are doing the best the can. And your partner is probably loving you in the best way he/she knows how. This is important to remember when you are holding your partner up to an expectation or an ideal of yours. It may be helpful to consider, the question “How would I respond to the situation if the roles were reversed?”  This is often easier said than done, especially when one feels hurt and protective. Trusting someone and giving them the benefit of the doubt can be extremely difficult if you have experienced a lot of hurt and betrayal. It is important to keep track of your boundaries and needs. If you are taking responsibility for your needs, then you will be more likely to take care of yourself. 
4. Seek. 
Reach out for support if you need it.  Expressing your needs and giving someone the benefit of the doubt can be tricky, especially if you didn’t get your needs met when you were young. It is a natural  process to attempt to fulfill these unmet needs. However, you may not know that you are doing this. If you feel a strong reaction, feel threatened, or really protective- than this may be a good indication that there is an underlying hurt. There are many opportunities to heal and grow, through self-help books, articles, groups, and psychotherapy. It’s never too late to learn new skills and to start practicing them.
5. Allow.
Allow for some S P A C E. Without a ton of expectations, you can allow yourself to be more in the moment, receive, and be pleasantly surprised. You can receive your loved one’s expressions and gestures as genuine and authentic gifts. You can start to appreciate them with a sense of newness.  Allowing space for people to meet you in the best way they know how is truly a beautiful and powerful experience.

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Are you or someone you know looking for a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationship issues?  

Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

Got Guilt?

Does your family guilt trip you? Or are you the lucky 1% of the population that has never experienced guilt from a family member or loved one?!? {insert tiny slice of psychotherapy humor} :)
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Guilt.  Family.  Obligation. Pressure.  
Guilt trips are actually a form of manipulation in which one person attempts to make the other feel guilty in order to achieve an agenda.  The agenda may be to make you feel bad, to transfer blame, or to make you do something you don’t want to do  (i.e. spend a holiday with family, go on an outing/errand, or do some sort of chore around the house).
We all know, you cannot force someone to change their manipulative behavior- However, you can do something to prevent guilt trips from causing you emotional stress.
Handling guilt trips with ease, will also reduce their effectiveness, which may reduce others’ attempts to submit you to guilt trips.  BINGO!  
Below I will offer 3 tips on how to handle a situation the next time it presents itself.
First, let me say that it isn’t easy to step back and be mindful when you feel criticized, triggered and guilty, especially when it comes from a loved one. Understanding what is going on inside of this person and what’s behind the guilt trip can help you shift gears and regain your power.
1.  The Competition: This person wants to pull you down a notch so that they feel better about their self.  Perhaps, daughters of narcissist or borderline parents can relate to this.  In this case, the parent wants you to feel as badly as they do… How do you not succumb to their unmet emotional needs?  Remember- The need behind this parents judging is to feel better about their self and to feel reassured that they are “enough”. It may be helpful to explain to them that this isn’t a competition and that he/she is fine just the way he/she is.  In other words, YOU may have to momentarily switch roles and be the parent.
2. Over Protection: This person wants you to be safe and perhaps not have the painful experiences he/she has had or has been avoiding in their own life. He/she is afraid that you will get into trouble, hurt yourself or not fit in. Essentially, this person is treating you like a child.  Remember- it’s okay to explain that YOU are in charge of your own life.  And, if it feels ok for you, it may be helpful to reassure them that you love them.  
3. Unmet Emotional Needs: This persons own needs are not being met in their own relationships and/or life. In turn, they may feel insecure, unappreciated, lonely, or no longer useful.  For example, say you are getting pressure to stay for dinner… How to deal? Remember- It’s OK to say that you have another engagement and can’t stay. You have your own life and yes, you still love them. Encourage this person/your parent to have their own life too. Most likely, this person is feeling out of control, fearful or anxious about their own self/life situation.  

freedom from guiltDealing with a family member, parent or friend who needs to feel in control can be really tough. Rather than reacting to being controlled, step back and switch gears in order to think about what the other person really needs.  It is helpful to stick with the facts and never hurts to reassure the person that you love them. If need be, set boundaries so they know not to step over the same line next time.

 

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Are you or someone you know looking for a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in all Relationship issues?  
Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.