J: Hey, friends, I am interviewing my friend, Amy Erickson, who is from Cincinnati, Ohio and she has been there with her husband of 23 years. Together, they have 7 children and Amy is passionate about embracing and honoring where we are in life. She offers encouragement from her journey, learning to embrace emotions and how we can find space to experience the beauty of an embodied soul. Amy offers a compassionate invitation using simple practices to activate peace within ourselves, our minds, and our bodies right now. Before I go any… even further, I want to share, I met Amy through Heal Your Heart and Amy has this really amazing knowledge about being really present in your body and juicily mindful, and I'm going to just tease it right there and say welcome, Amy.
A: Oh gosh, thanks so much, I'm so excited to be here today, and I just really look forward to offering hope from my journey, just sharing how honoring our emotions and using that movement intentionally creates a beautiful compassionate relationship with ourselves. And I'm just a regular gal, I'm a wife, I'm a mom looking for ways to make this life more approachable.
J: Cool, I think you are, that's why I like you. You’re regular, amazing, down to earth. Well, let's…
J: … let’s dive in and start with your favorite quote, your current favorite quote, whatever that is.
A: Sure. So it's an unknown quote and it's really simple, “Don't take good information and do nothing with it.”
J: Mm. So give us an example.
A: Well, you know, we're just… we have so many resources around us that are easily at our fingertips, we have these incredible phones that can do all these neat things, and yet we don't do the simplest thing of just breathe or take care of yourself, and that's good information . (Laughs)
J: Totally! We like miss the mark and go way beyond the basics and then wonder why we don't feel balanced yet (Laughs), so true.
A: Exactly. It's like the things that I share, you're going to be like, “Oh, yeah those are simple”, but really, it's just really taking that next step to actually apply it.
J: Yeah. So tell us what it's like to be a mom of 7 and how you've gotten to where you are today.
A: Yeah, sure. So I have been really blessed to be a stay-at-home mom to my kids, and boy they have taught me so much about myself and, you know, emotionally, well, there's a lot of emotions in our household pretty much running all the time. And my personality naturally thinks and feels really deeply with a strong intuition. And for a long time, I just didn't even know what to do with all of that. In fact, I grew up believing it was a flawed personality…
A: … just to be so sensitive to what was occurring around me and how it affected my thoughts and my body, especially when I ignored my intuition, I ended up fighting one of my greatest gifts. So when I became a mom, you know, I had a lot of emotions, you know, those postpartum emotions and then little toddler emotions, and it was almost like I was carrying my children's emotions plus my emotions and I just didn't know what to do with all of that.
J: It's like, “Blah!” emotional vomit.
A: Yeah. (Laughs)
J: I know exactly what you’re talking about.
A: It is.
J: That happens here too.
A: It really is; does it, yeah.
J: And you’re drowning in it, you’re drowning in emotional vomit. (Laughs)
A: Right, and so you have a choice. So I learned early on just to disconnect from the reality of emotions and instead spend my time trying to control what I could, the inner and outer chaos of life. And with 7 kids, you know, it's all zone defense (Laughs).
A: There's a lot of chaos.
J: You’re trying to control all of it, yeah, totally.
J: I get that.
A: And this made for really rough adjustments when life hands you big emotions to process. I had this tribe of little ones to raise and care for, I had challenging pregnancies and some really rough deliveries, I had a husband that was working hard to provide for our family, so I spent a lot of time on my own. And during this time, I was often ashamed and concealing that I was battling different forms of depression and anxiety.
A: And then right in the midst of all that, I unexpectedly lost both my parents in a short time, and that caused really compounded emotions for me and my family.
J: So what's it like to… oh my gosh, I'm just feeling all your emotion right now. You have…
J: … how old were your kids when your parents died roughly?
A: Yeah, so my oldest was 16 and my youngest was 18 months.
J: Oh my gosh.
J: I can feel it so much.
A: And they lived here.
J: Yeah. Your parents lived with you?
A: Yeah, it was… it was a big deal for our family because they were involved in our life every day, and we saw them practically every day and they just had such a deep impact in my family's life. So losing them was a huge gaping wound.
J: So how old were your parents when they passed?
A: So they were 65 and 66.
J: And was it in a short time span?
A: It was 10 months apart…
J: Oh my gosh.
A: … and both unexpectedly.
A: So it was just… you know, it's a journey. It was a journey I didn't know would be part of my story and it's a journey that's really taught me a lot about life.
J: Mm-hmm. So you're feeling the stress of, I'm sure, some elements of not good enough as a mom, because we all do it at some point…
A: Mm-hmm, yeah.
J: … and all the emotions… I mean, 16 year olds alone, oh my gosh, right?
A: (Laughs) Right, yeah, exactly.
J: No sleep from an 18-month-old, and then…
A: Right. (Laughs)
J: … your parents died. Oh my gosh, Amy, walk us through what happened with you. Did shut down?
A: I did shut down, you know, because I was processing life all this time through my mind. And whatever life was throwing my family just kept us in this sea of chaos. And I would spend my time ruminating the past and I was fearing the future, believing that that was how you processed the emotions of life. And by the time both my parents passed away, I had surrendered to living in a state of bracing myself for the next trauma because I was living and breathing in a constant state of stress. And that cycle just increased my anxiety and defeated state living my journey through this lens of overwhelm, and I had allowed my struggles to become my identity, which really kept my inner life painful and complicated.
J: So by identity, you mean you walked around with a story of, “Life is hard,” or, you know, what kind of…
A: “Life is hard,” yeah.
J: Yeah, what kind of phrase were…
J: … going through your head?
A: Well, I think it really impacted me when I would go to an event where I would know certain people and they would introduce me as, “Oh, you know, she's the one whose parents died really close together.” (Laughs)
J: Oh my goodness. (Laughs)
A: And I was like, “Wait, whoa, I don’t want that to be my story. That is my story, but I don't want that to be how I'm, you know, introduced and how I’m known.”
J: Mm-hmm, for sure.
A: I wanted, you know, a different identity than to have people feel sorry for me.
A: I didn't need that.
J: For sure. So walk us through a little bit of the process of getting through that grief of losing your parents and…
J: … coping with 7 kids sat the same time; oh my gosh.
A: Right? Yeah. So, you know, I mentioned that we had this state of chaos, and while I easily could have empathy and compassion for others, self-compassion was not in vocabulary towards my own personal journey. And I did, I found myself in this cycle of shame for never being good enough, you know, a good enough mother, a good enough wife, you know, when my parents were alive, a good enough daughter, a good enough friend. And I had no sense of boundaries, you know, I was saying yes all the time when I needed to be in a firm case of no, I naturally craved authentic connection. So that was easy for me to want to connect with people, but then I would over share with them.
A: And I thought they were friends so I was being authentic, but in reality, I was just exposing my own toxic junk in not, you know, places I hadn't healed and then also taking on theirs.
A: I guess I expected… yeah, I guess I expected that by sharing those things, I might feel better because someone might validate or help me because I was in a state of, “Help me,” you know?
J: Well, how do you know when something is an overshare versus authentic and vulnerable? That's such a fine line.
A: Mm, yeah, that is a fine line. Now in a different place, in a more healed space, I really need to trust that person. And because I'm more grounded energetically, I can sense, I know my intuition and sense more with people what I can share.
J: Mm-hmm, intuition.
A: And so it's really been this journey of getting to that poor… you know, that safe place with myself where I can now have a safe place with others…
J: Mm, that makes sense.
A: … without that, you know, vulnerability hangover.
J: So the oversharing is when you're not yet healed and then you're essentially emotionally vomiting on everyone else. (Laughs)
A: Right, exactly. Because, you know, you either end up getting ill advice from other people and more ‘shoulds’ added to your personal, you know, never ending list of failures. And then I have this gaping worthiness wound from not sourcing with it… you know, from within. Because when you're disconnected, you tend to see that negative and you seek that validation, you're essentially too keeping yourself in a state of victimhood instead of actively owning your own healing.
J: Yeah, so that's awesome, I love how you said that. That is like… if we were writing a dissertation, that could be your topic, but…
J: But takes us…
A: There you go.
J: Just walk us, you know, carefully or generally or scatteredly (however you want) through…
A: Sure, okay.
J: … your healing journey, you know, what does healing look like…
J: … for you and how are you still healing from all of those emotions, all of that grief…
A: Right? Like…
J: … all of the stress? Yeah.
A: (Laughs) I could do 5 separate podcasts on all of that.
A: But really, it got to this point where my body was so inflamed and I couldn't figure out why. You know, my muscles were constantly sore and tight and my inner spirit in the state of constant defeat, and my physical body, it was just reflecting my life, it was reflecting my mind chatter, my interactions with toxic people, the stress, oh, that lack of boundaries, trauma, the grief, I was housing it all in my body. And I became obsessed with Googling symptoms, maybe I'm the only one in the world doing that, but…
A: … I did. I would just go Google and research the next diet, the next quick fix band-aid, I was searching for whatever would solve that war within my body and my mind because my mind and body trust was fractured.
J: Mm-hm, yeah you found a million things, yeah. (Laughs)
A: Yeah. Like, you know, all of a sudden, I had all these diseases… (Laughs)
J: Oh, I know.
A: …that were self-diagnosed! (Laughs)
J: Right, right.
A: And you start living into that be like, “Oh, maybe it is,” and it's so much… you know, we are so powerful if we let ourselves be, but, you know, recognizing that when we feel upset and feeling strong emotions, that's just our body communicating with us, it's just giving us information. And here I was craving wellness, but I had resistance in healing and moving forward because I kept applying old patterns, you know, old patterns of thought when life was really crying out for a change in my beliefs and how I accepted myself and how I uniquely processed emotions. So, you know, you… I know you like to talk about that rock-bottom clarity… (Laughs)
A: … that rock bottom moment, and it's here after my parents passed away, I felt really brokenhearted, yet I had this tense awareness of how short life is and how drastically it can change in a minute. And this awareness then opened up a compassion I'd never felt towards myself.
A: This awareness began opening this energy in my heart that I needed to get beyond the stuck patterns and beliefs that I'd function from my entire life.
J: So am I hearing you hint that, you know, the cliché, but I think it's true more often than not…
A: Yeah, mm.
J: … that the cracks in your soul from your parents death became…
J: … the exact way the light was able to enter; that compassion…
J: … that energy you’re talking about? Hmm.
A: Yeah, I hate that anyone has to journey such trauma in life to feel so broken and have to rebuild, but it's really in those moments that you have to dig down deep within and hold on to what you have within your soul and it just… it is, it's that beautiful cocoon…
A: … that you sit in and you wait until you have that.
J: Aww, I love that.
A: And, you know, the clarity for me was that I thought, “If I can spend all this time putting my energies into researching band-aid fixes for my symptoms, why couldn't I spend those energies researching how to live well?”
A: And you'd struggle because, you know, something is better, you know, and I was being called to heal and, you know, so I started studying. Instead of Googling symptoms, I was studying the things that were rising up in me, not the symptoms in my body, but the emotions that I had really never addressed. And it led me really to identifying and challenging the ways I'd been taught to approach life. And I learned that our minds learn to live in that state of stress, that state of repetition, and mine loved that (Laughs), that's what it knew. And, you know, whether it was our routine, you know, crisis, trauma, marriage, parenting or just those general day-to-day stressors, our mind doesn't know the difference. And the brain pathway that had created that feeling of chaos for me kept repeating.
A: And so my mind would treat the stress of an over scheduled day the same as a crisis. And living in that stress for so long had changed the structure of my brain.
J: Yeah. No wonder you were inflamed, you were in…
A: Yeah, I was inflamed, my body just… ugh, my poor body, I just want to like grab her and like wrap my arms around that body, that body I had and just say, “I got you, I got you, girl.”
J: Yeah, like that cocoon you mentioned earlier, aww.
A: That cocoon, yeah. So I have a neat story (Laughs). At that same time, someone had mentioned this local yoga studio where I could sign up and go unlimited for a month. And I knew very little about yoga at the time. I showed up for my first class where I was happy to find a spot in the back of the room, and everybody was really nice, you know, they were fine with me just checking it out. And when the class began, it seemed pretty different than what I'd done at home on YouTube.
A: And she had us all prop up on pillows and blankets and it was a Reiki class.
A: And I didn't know what that was at the time and I was feeling super out of my comfort zone. I could hear her going around each person helping them in their pose, offering what seemed like advice, and she came over to me and said, “Ah, I sense you need space.”
J: Oh my.
A: “Your body is crying out for some space.” And I was overcome with the fact that this random gal knew that I was in this desperate place, I mean, I literally wanted to get up and run out… (Laughs)
A: … just get to my car. And, you know, that she knew that I needed space physically and mentally.
A: I needed space to get out of my fog and she confirmed that. I wanted to escape my head and live out what I felt deep down in my heart, which was to live well.
J: Mm-hmm. Did she give you more? Did she tell you… “How do you get this space?” you're thinking, “Tell me how!” (Laughs)
A: No, oh my gosh. Honestly, I never went back to her class, it was too much for me at the time.
J: Yeah, yeah.
A: And I ended up going to like express lunch yoga and that's what I needed at the time. I wasn't quite ready, I was still like figuring out, “What did that cocoon look like for me?” and I had to question, you know, “How do I allow these emotions to flow through me instead of the addiction of holding on to them? And how do I drop down into this body, you know, and embody my life today right where it is, not when I'm healthier, not when I lose weight, not when relationships are better, (goodness, this one) not when I'm at mental headspace…”
A: “… not when the kids are older, but right now, right where you are, you know, how do I drop in and embody it right where I'm at?” because chaos happens.
A: Emotions are there every day and we may try to control, push down or hide them, but they end up taking up space in our minds and bodies. And that led me on this journey, this cocoon, you know, and discovering the joy of being fully embodied and aligned with the mind, body, and soul.
J: Mm-hmm. So when you say the word ‘embodied’, it's sounding to me like that was your main tool for getting out of your head and getting out of the stress because you'd realize your stress was coming through that feedback loop in your head. So what does that really mean for those of us who want to just get out of our heads too? (Laughs)
A: Yeah, so we're going to talk about a lot about embodiment, and it just means being awakened and alive and the fullness of the essence of who we are. We're all different and so you discover what that means for you in this journey of space, you know? It's something that I call the pause.
J: Oh yeah.
A: And in order to do that, I had to become a student of myself and that's… you know, that's what we're all called to do. We spend too much time, you know, listening to other people telling us the way we should be, but in reality, it's becoming that student of ourselves. And doing that really ignited my fascination with the relationship of how our minds process emotion through our bodies, and just using our senses, our 5 senses to embody our life each day.
J: Mm, yeah, the 5 senses. Well, cool that's reminding me, I hope you're going to tell us about that word activity.
A: We are totally going to do that.
A: Yeah, totally later. Unfortunately, like this journey, you know, that comes when you're the butterfly. (Laughs)
J: Oh yeah. We’re still in our cocoon, okay.
A: Like you start doing those things…
J: We’ve got to heal first.
A: … we’re still in our cocoon. And there's this quote by Dr. James and he says, “Do what you can to sit long enough with yourself until you feel and see the softness of you.”
J: Yeah, that's nice.
A: Yeah, it's really deep, right? I mean, for me, that's so deep, “What does my body, what does my mind and soul need in order to see the softness of me?” And in order to find that, I had something I call the pause in my life. It's just sitting with myself where I pulled out of most things I was involved in, the things I'd over committed to. And it's countercultural to subtract and pause in life…
A: … to disconnect and reboot our personal system, but we need this space, this time of sitting with ourselves and the messy humanness of life. It's really a space you create to be curious to be a student of your life.
J: Do we do it daily, weekly, monthly? You know, I want like 8 weeks, Amy, can I have that?
A: Yeah. Like you, Jen, for you, it's different for everybody. You know, some people may be in a more healthier state and they can just add a pause in their day. For me at that time, it was like a full pause button in life.
A: I needed a lot of time to recover and a lot of time to learn to embody and embrace me because it's a place, it's a place where we can honor and observe where we are in this journey of doing life. And by doing so, we offer space, we offer validation to do that deep inner work, discovering your own essence…
A: … building trust with yourself by getting curious, and embracing your unique personality because we all are so different. And, you know, by having that space, that pause, I was able to discover me.
J: So when was your pause and what did you do with your kids? (Laughs)
A: Yeah. Well, that's the beauty of it. I think a lot of us feel that we have to do it quiet and by ourselves, but I don't really have that luxury. My kids are always around and I love doing life with them, and there's no greater impact that I can have with them than to teach them how to process life, the realities of it. And they were hit pretty big with loss and grief at the same time I was and so we had to learn how to live and process all that stuff at once, along with just the normal emotions of life. And so I just invite them in, I invite them into my pause. And if I'm sitting and they want to come in, I say, “Hey, you want to, you know, grab a notebook and draw while mommy is doing this?” or, “Do you want to join mommy in yoga?” I just invite them in right there where we're at because, you know, it's a place where we can just connect deeply and tune into our emotions, and how beautiful when we can direct a sensitive and awareness to that and teach our kids that as well.
J: Mm-hmm, oh, I like that. So essentially, you're not doing so much, and that would make sense then you could have your kids come in because you're not in this space of getting it all done…
J: … you're in the space of healing, which of course you'd want your kids there.
J: I like that.
A: And they're not always there, I mean, you have this time where you're just alone. And, you know, I think the beauty from what I learned in the pause and the stillness, I began meeting muscles in my body that we're holding on to the emotions. You know, I was holding on to most emotions of resistance, heartache, frustration, anger, grief, toxic energy that I had from other people.
A: And I learned that those feelings and emotions or just energy, you know, they're just sensations in our body that need to shift…
A: … and that, you know, certain muscle groups guard emotions. And when our emotional pains aren't processed, they call out for attention, it's physical pain or illness such as grief. You know, grief sat in my lungs and my chest. It made it difficult to take a deep breath, I would get all these respiratory viruses and, you know, I would be sick and it just felt bad and I couldn't understand why.
A: But I knew I couldn't keep processing life the way I always had, so I just began meeting those emotions as they were.
A: You know, just acknowledging them as those messengers, not labeling them as good or bad; and that's really key. You know, we label so much in our life, but if I can just say up, “Oh, yep, there's anxiety,” without like owning it and saying, “Oh, I'm just an anxious person,” I can just label that as anxiety. And the emotions, they weren't separate for me in my mind now, they were real experiences that were being stored in my body, and these symptoms were just warning signs to make a change. And I did, I needed this huge IV bag of self-compassion, you know, my body didn't know what that look like and so I began studying what self-compassion looked like. You know, we can find this good information, you know, we don't even have to go anywhere, we can find it on our phones, it’s amazing. And so I began studying what that looked like and, you know, using that time, that pause to pour out love and acceptance over my body, mind, and soul and meeting me right where I was in life.
J: Mm, I like that; that's really cool. So what changed in your relationships for example as you did this? Did you notice that shifts there?
A: Yeah, I did notice a lot of shifts. In fact, I think it's common when you go through some really big things in life that relationships naturally shift and change. And it was hard because I lost relationships that maybe I'd put… had thought were stronger than they were. But people don't know what to do with you. (Laughs)
A: They don't know how to handle what you're going through. And I think it's just natural, and now, I can look back and just see that that was also necessary for me to kind of release some of those relationships that I had counted on so much for advice and that they weren't really the advice that I needed at the time.
A: And instead by, you know, sitting with myself, I was, you know, able to offer moments of gentleness to myself, a forgiveness and a tenderness and acceptance the other people couldn’t give me. And by doing that, I activated this healing and releasing and began experiencing this calm surrender, you know, and experiencing glimpses of joy that had been buried and not coming from other people, but really just revealing my true self and this beauty of the pause.
A: And the pause saved me by revealing a very sobering truth, I was the missing link between my messy humanness and my deep authenticity.
J: You know, you mentioned that the cracks of your parents’ death and all the stress taught you to start having self-compassion, and that's what this all kind of seems like to me.
A: Mm-hmm, yeah.
J: Compassion is to be with, and you just chose to be with yourself and to have the safe space and not be distracted and just to be there. And that alone was healing…
J: … for you, would you say?
A: It really was. I mean, in this pause, you know, I sat with a really grumpy girl sometimes or a really angry girl or a really sad girl. And you remember, I had those deep pathways in my brain where I didn't believe I was even worthy of doing the work of this…
A: … you know, this healing, or worthy of the compassion. And so I would wear a rubber band on my wrist and every time I thought negatively or thought I wasn't worthy to do this, I would snap that band remind myself that it was just a thought and that I was in control of this journey.
A: And that using that tool of awareness helped me observe what I was allowing in my life, you know, the self-talk, my circles of influence, the fact that we can accept that not everybody nor, you know, everything deserves our attention and energy.
A: And we can just use that time to practice mindfulness, that moving from our heads down into our bodies which I had never done, really never done before, and just being open to the emotions of life whether pleasant or not. So, you know, it's just allowing that space, like you said, to sit with the present moment where we can be that student, the observer in a peaceful way and just pouring out loving kindness.
A: The more we practice that, the more that becomes the pathway of thought in our brains which opens up space and allows for creative solutions and healing and growth.
J: Mm, that's beautiful. Oh, this has been so awesome, Amy, and we're going to have a quick break for a sponsor. And when we come back, I want to do that exercise that we were talking about with the 5 senses, so we'll be right back.
Alright, welcome back, Amy. So we were talking about sitting with ourselves and having that self-compassion and allowing ourselves to feel in that safe cocoon. So what happens next in this process?
A: Oh, this is my favorite part of the journey, it's using movement to shift our emotions, to shift our stories and our experiences, those energies that are inside of us. And I actually had a lot of resistance towards movement at first, so I just… I didn't know what to do with those energies. I was feeling them, but they were still staying in my body. And moving those emotions through our body is really critical because it, you know, it improves our stress levels, it improves our moods, it improves that limbic and parasympathetic and hormonal systems and it's really the key in switching that habitual pattern of our mind. We can't just heal in the mind to be well, we have to actively pursue healing the whole body. And so I do want to put a disclaimer and that when I'm talking in terms of movement, it's not specifically from a space of fitness and exercise to reach goals for our body, but really for the purpose of trapped emotions and the importance of moving them through the body, first inviting them to like pitch a tent and stay in our body, it can absolutely encompass exercise, but it… for today, we're really just talking about energy movers.
J: Okay. So moving out negative energies, we want to keep the good ones.
J: They can pitch a tent. (Laughs)
A: Right. We can actually… absolutely. And that… what's cool about this is we can actually start producing that in us those good positive emotions because emotion is just energy, it’s e-motion, it’s energy in motion, it's an experience…
J: Yeah, right.
A: … happening within, you know, it those vibrations and sensations that we can choose to shift work create. And that's what's really cool about them is that when we release those bad ones, we make that room for those, you know, really positive ones that we want to feel and we're able to open up that healing space, it's like this bomb of love that we pour on ourselves and then drop into our embodiment in our essence. And it's so beautiful when women begin to own that.
J: Mm-hmm, for sure. So I'm loving this idea and I want to know what kind of movements are you talking about to move…
J: … those negative emotions through?
A: Yes. So the first is your breath. Like, I realized really quickly that I could not sit long enough and not pause without activating a new way of breathing. My body was so used to that shallow breath, and when you're stressed, you only use that top part of your lung; that vertical breath. And I had learned to breathe from that state as my normal pattern, and I think a lot of us do, we're just moving from one thing to the next. And there's no way I was going to be able to acknowledge and heal the emotions going on in my body with that peace of breathing. So I began uniting, I united that pause, that self-compassion with that deep horizontal breath from your belly. I can’t explain this without actually doing it. (Laughs)
A: You know, but it's that conscious inhale through your nose and that exhale throughout your… you know, through your mouth slowly as if you're blowing through a straw, and making that longer than your inhale. And I learned from you, Jen, like make a plan to do that 3 times every hour, and all of a sudden, you know, that becomes your anchor, that's the anchor that activates a conscious motion to the emotions that we have.
A: And we want to build that resiliency to what's occurring in our life and in our mind and our body by bringing that loving awareness to our emotions through that breath. Activating that energy within is just like… it's fascinating that that belly breath disrupts the brain pathway of fear and worry and you just become present in the moment.
J: Mm, yeah, the breath is like the first thing we're born with, the last thing we’ll go out with.
J: You know?
A: Exactly. And like that anchor of breaths saves me when I feel anxious or I'm in a situation that feels out of control, I can take that deep belly breath and then place one hand on my forehead or on the back of my neck or one on my forehead and one on my heart. And that activation just really pours on this sense of calm when triggered.
A: It's just a really beautiful, you know, self-soothing act.
J: Yeah, yeah, for sure, just adding the touch, of course. I noticed my kids…
J: … calm down so much when I just rub their back or arm a little bit; that makes sense.
A: Oh, isn't that amazing? Like I just I love that we as parents can help our kids with that and just… just that healing touch of our hands, we have so much energy flowing through us.
A: It's just really beautiful.
J: For sure.
A: But some other ways, some ways that I use movement of emotions and energy would be essential oils. They are really a wonderful easy way to assist our moods. They were actually the first step that I took in my healing. Before I even started doing the inner mental healing work of my emotions, I ordered some oils and I started researching, “You know, what does this oil do? What does that all do?” And when we connect that oil with our emotion, it helps shift and move our energy. Something as simple as smelling orange (which is the oil of abundance) can lift our spirit and give hope…
A: … or how frankincense… I know you love frankincense. (Laughs)
A: The oil of truth is… it's so powerful in helping with negative energy and healing. And oils are just a calming and encouraging source from the earth to assist our bodies. It's just an easy fast way to lift up our spirits. And so I just encourage you that you can get in touch with me or with someone you know that you can learn some knowledge about using essential oils to boost your moods.
J: Yeah, I love them.
A: I put a link in if you want to put that on. Like, I don't push oils on people, but for me, it was life-changing, so…
J: Yeah, we'll put a link to your favorite oils on our page.
J: That'll be at jenriday.com/172; yes, thank you.
A: Okay. So, Jen, my favorite thing to do is an embodiment exercise with emotion. And like we said earlier, embodiment is just an awakened alive state in the fullness of the essence of who we are, getting out of our head and into our body and connecting it to our 5 senses. And we can actually do that right now together, we can do this 5 senses exercise. Are you willing to do it?
J: Yes, of course.
A: Okay, let's take an emotion. What emotion, it can be a positive or a negative, what emotion do you want to do this with?
J: I will pick depression because that's a…
J: … common emotion people want to move through.
A: Absolutely. So taking that emotion of depression, that motion of defeat, how does that emotion feel to you? How’d you describe that, just by words, just not a sentence, just words?
J: Like gray, grayish, blackish storm clouds.
A: Okay, so yeah, or like just something heavy, right? When I think of storm clouds, I think of dark and heavy.
J: Yeah, but they're low, yeah.
A: Yeah, they're low; there you go, that's a good one. What would that emotion taste like, what would depression taste like? If it was a food, what would it taste like?
J: Biting into a porcupine. So that's more texture…
A: Oh my gosh.
J: … but texture is a part of taste. So if I…
J: But that… the pain of that texture prevents any taste, I guess that.
J: … that’s how I see it, yeah.
A: Yeah, or like something dense, you know, stale bread, maybe something like bitter too, some people might describe it as a bitter… a bitter taste.
A: What would depression smell like?
J: Oh, it's so funny, but I guess I go right to no smell at all, it's like… it’s almost like lacking sensation, you know?
A: Sure, like empty?
A: Yeah, that's good, like just nothing.
A: How do you see depression playing out in life?
J: In my life or any life?
A: Any life.
A: We're just taking the emotion of depression and putting our senses to it.
J: Yeah, it makes it way more, ooh, powerful.
J: Playing out in life. It's like when I was a little girl, I saw some version of… I didn't even know what it was called, maybe called ‘The 10 Commandments’, but when the angel of death went among the Jews, it was like this black poison cloud I think, or at least in my mind, I imagined it. Well, anyway…
A: Yeah, wow.
J: … I guess a black poisonous cloud moving low and just hitting random people, yep.
A: Right, yeah, that's vivid. So another way you can add this embodiment to an emotion that you're just trying to describe in your life, you can actually envision your future-self responding to that emotion. How do you want to feel outside of that depression? And you can take yourself through, “What does it feel like to not be depressed?”
A: “What do you think it would taste like to not be depressed? What would it smell like to not be depressed?”
A: “What do you hear from that emotion?” You know, you can translate that negative emotion and put a positive spin.
J: Okay. So I have an image right away. Your first question was…
A: Yeah, it was, “How do you envision your future-self?”
J: Well, immediately, I saw myself in this white, goldeny, sparkly armor with this shield pushing that black cloud off, but like a total, you know, strong amazing person. But that white color…
J: … it's so vivid. And then the depression, the clouds that are moving around among all these houses trying to get everyone, it's just almost like in black and white, but the part with white, I see more in color like vivid and alive and…
J: … yeah. So that's the image I get at least.
A: Right. And then how would that positive side of being on the other side of depression, you know, taste like? Would it have a taste?
J: I don't know why this came to mind, I don't even like cotton candy, but I got cotton candy.
A: Cotton candy, or like I said…
J: It’s super sweet, yeah.
A: … orange, you know, that… yeah, something sweet, something that you, you know, might desire; maybe something that you don't have very often…
A: … but you're reaching for. And, you know, what would that smell like? What would it smell like? Now, I can only smell cotton candy, but (Laughs) you know, what would that emotion of not being depressed smell like? Would it smell…
J: Yeah, like a mead…
A: … pure?
J: … yeah, a meadow and also orange trees is what I smell.
A: Mm, yeah, I like that. That hope of abundance is that orange smell, so that's good. And then what do you hear? What do you now hear? What do you want to hear not having that emotion of depression?
J: Yeah. Well, I hear a lot of noise actually, but it's all pleasing noises like birds, monkeys like in a rainforest, so lots of life I guess.
A: Oh yeah, that's beautiful, wow. So you can see, simply by doing this exercise, we're putting movement to your emotion, we’re giving it that attention, you're embodying your full-self; that's coming from you.
A: You're compassionately giving awareness to it and mentally and physically allowing yourself to feel it. And you can do that with all emotions like we did, we can do it to trigger positive emotions. You can use it to explore mindful eating, you know, “What does satisfied feel like? What does it sound like? What does it taste like? What does full feel like?” You know, you can start getting to be very mindful with your body because you're in it. And you can use it for discovering your boundaries, “What does it feel like when someone over steps a boundary?” Because you've described it, you can start feeling it in your body, so when it happens, you can be like, “Nope, no,” you know? I mean…
J: Yeah, “Goodbye, angel of death, goodbye.”
J: “I banish thee!” (Laughs)
A: … exactly. No, you know, your body, because you've been training your brain, you say you just don't want to go there anymore.
A: And it's empowering to know that full-body yes and what that full-body no looks like. This embodiment exercise really reveals your essence. And I think it's important to do a little bit of journaling with this, you know, you can journal those things out. Its… journaling is like hiring an electrician for your brain.
A: It's an incredible way to move those thoughts, emotions, and experiences because you're in control.
A: You don't have to keep what you write, you don't have to be eloquent, you can tear it up, toss it, burn it, keep it, I don't care, but get that out because that movement of writing makes your emotions active.
J: Mm, that make sense. And I feel like you would almost want to spend more time writing about the positive, you know, the person in the white armor with the shield, that feeling with the monkeys and birds…
J: … so your brain gets used to that feeling, that new state of being. Is there something to practicing it?
A: Absolutely. I mean, that's how you recreate those brain pathways into your brain by positively choosing those choices. And you could probably energetically, when we are doing that exercise, feel the difference of describing what depression felt like and then what the other side felt like. I imagine you felt that energy within yourself.
J: Mm-hmm, exactly. So you just train yourself to be in a different energetic state over and over again.
A: You do.
A: It’s that practice. First you're the student of yourselves and then you practice that embodiment, you know? And at first, it might feel a little strange because maybe you’re at war with your body like I was, but once you start practicing it and you start offering that pause within your day, you know, even if it's 10 minutes to just feel those emotions that the day brought up, and then using some of these movements to move out those ones you don't want to feel and replace it with the ones you do want to feel…
A: … it's really important.
J: That's cool.
J: Awesome. Well, I appreciate this, it's a great exercise.
A: (Laughs) Yeah. I love that exercise, it's just… it's so fun, especially when you're using it for the really positive stuff or just empowering to find out what your yes is and what your no is.
A: It just helps you so much in life, yeah.
J: Yeah, that’s cool.
A: So another thing that is super important, and we touched on this about how your body holds on to tensions in your muscles, and that by acknowledging the emotional pain that is felt alongside the physical pain, you get curious about what signals are alerting you in your body and your soul that need attention. So you begin recognizing where it sits in your body, you know, maybe anger, maybe it's sitting in your hips or when you feel it in places in your body and you compassionately allow yourself to feel you're humanness, you're activating the healing of your body alongside the emotional healing. So you can couple your practice of compassion with movement by stretching those muscles for self-release, and this release then becomes a beautiful part of your healing. So an example would be to offer a simple release for your neck and shoulders.
A: I hold a lot of tension in my shoulders and my neck, and I found that I wasn't really able to specifically release it there because I had so much built-up in my jaw. So I learned that you can release the tension in your neck, which can… by treating your jaw, and then that in return also releases in your shoulders.
J: Mm, that’s good
A: So… yeah. So have you heard like the term ‘chewing on the stresses of life’?
A: Yeah. So, you know, that's where they get the term, we're storing that deep tension and clenching in our jaw. So simply massaging our jaw line with some cedar wood and lavender essential oils and then placing a wine cork vertically between the top and bottom teeth and then activating that anchor of the breath we talked about, breathing through it, we start releasing those muscles in our jaw line, those tensions from the day. And all of a sudden, our neck starts to release and our shoulders start to release, and it's just a really beautiful healing practice to work on those muscles in our body that are holding our emotions.
J: Yeah. I feel like my hips hold a lot of emotions as well.
A: Your hips do?
A: Yeah. So hips, hips kind of have to do with anger, so…
J: You know, that’s so funny…
A: I don’t know if you really want this part. (Laughs)
J: No, no, no, no, it's okay. I've noticed one of my hips when I do pigeon pose, and so for pigeon pose…
J: … in yoga, one of my hips holds anger and the other holds sadness; it's a very strange thing, but it's consistent. I don't know if I've just trained myself to believe that's what's going to happen, but it's a very interesting thing. (Laughs)
A: You know, that's really a beautiful awareness though.
A: I think that just knowing that one side holds one and one holds the other is really beautiful. I mean, it's embodiment, actually knowing that, and that's so beautiful. And yoga, you know, you brought that up, yoga is a great energy movement practice, and it really honors your thinking and feeling, you know? And I love that you see that already in your body.
A: Yoga, for me, is just a really loving gentle nourishing practice. And I don't know about you when you're doing yoga, but sometimes, yoga, I'll just like… it'll find me crumpled on the mat in tears holding a pose.
A: Or at other times, it surprises me with being able to do an unexpected pose and then flowing into the next, it's just such a neat practice.
A: And no matter what (I hope this is the same for you because this is, I think, the beauty of yoga), when you walk away, you walk away with what you needed at that moment and you leave behind what no longer was needing your attention. You know, it's just this time to think purposefully and intentionally, giving that space to express your unique essence.
A: You know, it's just a beautiful offering of leaving emotions on the mat and then…
A: … ending in some gratitude.
J: Yeah, I like that; and to call it an offering.
J: I'm like calling in trash that I want to dump (Laughs); I’m kidding.
A: Well you know what? Maybe your body's calling for a different type of yoga.
A: You know, my body often because of this healing journey, my body's calling for that gentle nourishing practice versus that hot yoga…
A: … which is also a really beautiful practice, but my body is not there yet.
J: Yeah, right.
A: You know?
J: That makes sense.
A: And each day, my body calls for something different. It doesn't always call for, you know, the compassionate, slow, you know, restorative yoga, sometimes it calls for, you know, more of a flow of vinyāsa. And that's just the beauty of embodiment is you know those things about your body because you're giving it that time and attention.
J: Mm, mm-hmm.
A: There's some really other cool things we can do. You know, those who want to actively partner your fitness goals, you can do that with mantras and that… I know I've shared that with you before, but you can do mantras for living and what we want to embody in our life. You can actively recite the mantra with your physical movement, with your lunges, your aerobic activity, your walking. And Erin Stutland has a fantastic book called ‘Mantras in Motion’ and she really embodies activating and moving energies with an emphasis on fitness, you know?
A: We can say things like adding active statements from a guy named Sylvester McNutt. He says, “Say this with your movement, ‘I let go of the practice of holding emotions,’” you know? Maybe when you're doing that jaw release with the cork, after you're done, just say, “I let go of the practice of holding emotions.”
A: Literally say it, “I am free from this. I do not have to hold on to this pain.”
J: Right, right.
A: You know, you can go further and say, “The pain I felt was real, but I don't have to let it rule or define me,” and you just keep doing that until that becomes your way of thinking.
A: That's your first response when you feel that emotion is, you know, “Oh, I don't have to hold on to this.”
J: Mm-hmm, yeah, I love that mantra.
J: Well, this is fantastic, so many great tools to help us with emotions. And I think a lot of people listening are like you, they feel deeply, and that's so helpful. Well, Amy, let's talk about a few of your favorite things. What would be your favorite book?
A: Oh, I love books. So my favorite book would be probably ‘Discovering Your Soul Signature’. And I'm probably going to butcher this guy's name, so I apologize, but it's Panache Desai. And it's really an invitation to change the energy that surrounds you. It's short passages to be read morning noon and night.
J: Oh, nice, that's cool, ‘Discovering Your Soul Signature’, okay.
J: And your favorite easy meal.
A: Oh my favorite easy meal is turkey Asian meatballs. I've taught my kids how to make it, and for some reason, even my pickiest eaters eat it, so it's a great easy meal.
J: And can we have the recipe?
A: Absolutely, you can totally link it.
J: Okay, turkey Asian meatballs. We'll put that on our show notes as well at jenriday.com/172. And your favorite life hack.
A: My favorite life hack is investing in a quality espresso machine to make my barista style coffee at home. This saves me time and money and honor is that slower pace of life that I craved, because I don't have to go out and get a good coffee.
J: Yeah, that's a good idea. And what is your formula for being a vibrant happy woman?
A: Hmm. I think my formula now is intentionally choosing to live from a place where I've cultivated and preserved my internal resources, my energy, my motivation, my vitality, and then using those resources to do the things in life that are important to me and what I value.
J: Mm-hmm, that's great. And a challenge from you to our listeners.
A: Okay, so my charge for the day. I challenge everyone listening to choose to cultivate your life and pursue what it means for you to embody your true essence, that wisdom and listening to your body, asking, “You know, may I get curious tuning into the discomforts of what arises and may I sit and honor this part of my humaneness?” because it will really help you nourish and see yourself with a soft eyes of compassion. Because if it doesn't nourish your soul, you need to let it go by using one of these, you know, energy moving ideas. It's just a really powerful loving practice for them now. And acknowledging that, “It's not an absence of my anxiety or escaping my deeply thinking and feeling personality, but this is a partnership with myself that makes life more approachable.” And I'm really grateful for how this practice has allowed healing and awakening in my life, consciously choosing to build that muscle of resiliency by processing emotions daily and by meeting them in the present moment with compassion. And actively finding ways to energetically move those emotions through my body allows for a vibrancy of life. And as you grow in that practice it gets really exciting because you've developed a loving relationship with your true self. You know, you're empowered as this goddess who's seeing creative opportunities in the world and you're feeling new sensations in your body, you taste complexity in your nourishment and you hear clearly the messages that are for you, and everything that you touch in life is blessed by your essence.
J: Mm, I love that, blessing everything with my essence; cool, that’s beautiful.
A: Yes, it's so unique to each of us as women, it's just awesome.
J: This is totally awesome, I appreciate it. This is one I'm going to have to listen to a few times. You had so many nuggets of wisdom in there, I really, really appreciate it.
A: Oh (Laughs), it's been such an honor.
J: Well, thank you so much, Amy. And if people want to reach out to you about anything you shared, how can they get in touch?
A: Yeah, I shared with you just my essential oil website, that's probably the best place to learn about oils. And if anybody has questions about just embodiment, that's probably a great way to get in touch with me.
J: So there's a contact button through that website?
A: There should be an email, yeah.
J: Okay, we'll put that on our show notes, I appreciate you giving us that. I'm sure people will want to ask…
A: Yeah, absolutely.
J: … some questions about that process. Well, Amy this was awesome, awesome, thank you so much for being on Vibrant Happy Women.
A: Oh, thank you, Jen, it's been really a pleasure.