How to Move from Burnout to Inspired Living

After years of living on the brink of burnout, a photo changed the course of my life. I share my journey in hopes that it will motivate readers to live life fully.

I looked at a photo of me taken at the February 2016, Valentine’s Ball and I tried to be gentle with myself. The smile on my face was trying a little too hard to be joyful. The expression on my face did not match the expression of my body. Modern science has confirmed what modern dancers know in the following quote by Martha Graham, Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it.”

I stepped on the bathroom scale. I hadn’t gained a pound, so I couldn’t attribute the round belly in the photos to weight gain.  Nor could I attribute it to bloating as I eat a light dinner before a dance. The truth was plain and simple: the stress of life was beating me down. The belly in the photo was the result of my slumping spirit.

I focused on the photo again. My body was telling the real story. My life, like my spine, was out of balance. As the stress at work increased I stopped taking breaks, I ate lunch at my desk, I began to bring work home. I reduced the frequency of mentoring teachers that gave my job meaning.  Tired in the morning and tired in the evening; my daily meditation practice became sporadic. I became more and more isolated.

One morning as I began to write in my journal I suddenly understood. I was adding fuel to my stress. With all the moments removed from my day that normally brought repose, there was nothing to soften the stress I experienced. I had become increasing vulnerable to the stress in my life without the benefit of a barrier reef to soften my stormy experience.

My first thought was, “How could this be happening to me? I am a dancer and a self-care coach. My body is the medium of my art. I present teacher self-care workshops. I know how to reduce stress.”

Yes, consciously I knew how to reduce stress but overcome by fear I was living unconsciously in a reactionary state driven by the impulses of my reptilian brain.  I was surviving by default rather than living by design. The awareness that I had fueled my stress allowed me to consciously examine what I was doing, how I was thinking and who I was being.  I had neglected my body far too long.

I believed I could design a better barrier reef from a position of mind-body wholeness, so I set the intention of awakening my senses through the practice of mindfulness allowing my mind and body to become equal partners. In this state of wholeness, I could inhabit my body fully. I could be a smiling body rather than a smiling face.

A real full body smile Valentines 2017

I first encountered the concept of “inhabiting” the body in 1987 in The Sensual Body, The Ultimate Guide to Body Awareness and Self-fulfilment by Lucy Lidell and Sara Thomas. I understood its importance in our thinking culture where we live predominantly centered in our heads. I was shocked by the awareness that I too had become centered in my head.

Even with our culture’s interest in health, fitness, stress management, exercise, brain health, and nutrition, there is little emphasis on enhancing this mind-body connection. It was clear, I needed more than aerobics; I needed more than strength building, I needed more than stretching. I needed to “inhabit “my body. I needed to get in touch with the parts of myself that had grown dormant.

This desire gave birth to Rejuvenating Dance™ with elements from many different practices including tai chi, qigong, Chinese medicine, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping, acupressure, self-massage, aerobics, African dance, jazz dance, ballroom, ballet, yoga, mirror work, all done in 75 minutes to music.

Think back to moments when you felt fully alive. In those moments, you may have felt whole, vibrant, confident, strong, warm, earthy, expansive, open, free or limitless. You may have other adjectives to describe your experience. These wonderful feelings occur when your mind and body are in harmony. When was the last time you felt fully alive and comfortable in your skin?

 

Whether you can attend a Rejuvenating Dance™ Session or not, begin today to deepen the connection between your mind and body.

Ten Quick and Easy Activities Guaranteed to Lift Your Mood-

  1. A happy thought may not allow you to fly, but a happy thought can make you smile.
  2. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. As you exhale visualize a smile on your heart.
  3. Go for a walk and intensely focus on your senses – notice the sounds, sights, the smells, and sensations in the moment. Be present.
  4. Mindfully enjoy a cup of coffee or tea—feel the warmth of the cup in hands, the smell, the taste.
  5. Do something for someone as simple as opening a door for them.
  6. Listen to a music with your whole body. Feel the vibrations move through your body. Give the sounds colors and textures.
  7. Create moments of repose in your day even if they are just 10 seconds long.
  8. Create laughter. Do or say something funny.
  9. Affirm someone with a compliment.
  10. Make a list of five things you are grateful for today and scan yourself for subtle body sensations of gratitude.

FREE Introductory Rejuvenating Dance™ Sessions are being offered for a limited time. Sign up today. Give yourself this complimentary gift because you are worth it.

Highlights from Rejuvenating Dance

 

Spinal alignment with closed heart center

Spinal alignment with the heart center open

Working with the 2016 Valentine photo I began exploring the effects of opening and closing the upper chest. When we experience stress the body closes in on itself.  By closing the heart area, as in the first photo, the entire spine immediately goes out of alignment.  Focusing on opening the heart area, observe how the abdominal wall lengthens and relaxes. This open, relaxed posture feels expansive and empowering.

Each Rejuvenating Dance™ session begins with attention to the breath and heart center.  We open, close, lift, expand and practice placing a smile in our heart.  With our hearts open we are more open to ourselves and to others.

Rejuvenating Session also include all the elements identified by Anne Green Gilbert in her seminal work on BrainDance.  One important element involves touching one’s body.  Touching the body is necessary for brain health, and it is important for developing a gentle nurturing relationship with ourselves.

During each Rejuvenating Dance Session, we touch the body in a variety of ways while moving. Tapping is performed in each class not only for brain health but also to stimulate acupressure points to invigorate the body. Each class ends with self-massage.

 

 

 

Pictured are dancers tapping the acupressure points

Curvlinear movements from tai chi and qigong create an energetic flow. What is magical about these movements is we don’t feel like we are using our own energy.  Instead, we feel like we are a conduit and the energy is flowing through us. This effortlessness movement is a metaphor for living a rejuvenating life from a state of grace and ease.

Dancers flowing with curvilinear movements

Rejuvenating Lifestyle is dedicated to teaching tools for conscious living by design such as mental rehearsal, mindfulness, meditation, movement, reflection, and practice.

Diana-Liz Gallego is the founder of Rejuvenating Lifestyle™ a website, and blog dedicated to empowering personal development through the art of self-care. She teaches Rejuvenating Dance™ and meditation in Dallas, Texas.

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