Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May Word of the Month: Appreciate

As with much in life, things happen for a reason. I originally chose Appreciate as the word of the month because this week is teacher appreciation week and I know how important it is for teachers, who work so hard and give so much, to get the appreciation they deserve. I appreciate the people I have trained, my amazing past and present Dailey Method teachers who give so much to their job and care about their students and their health. They step in when other teachers are in chaos in their lives and they truly change lives. I appreciate you all so much!

I also have learned that anyone we learn from can be considered a teacher, they don’t specifically have to have that title. Our parents are our teachers, so are our children. Our life circumstances can also be our teachers... which is why this word of the month has taken on broader meaning for me. So far this month has been off to a crazy and chaotic start! 

May 1st Doug and I opened our long time dream of a flagship Dailey Method Studio in our own community - yay Fairfax! Next week is our annual owners' retreat, which takes a tremendous amount of preparation and I’ve also been thrown a lot of other professional and personal curveballs that have made me feel stretched to my limit! Yes, I’m overwhelmed and a little anxious. My ambitious "to-do" list was tossed aside for a lean-and-mean "happening-now" list. Then things just fell into pure "survival" mode… mental notes such as: don't forget to pick the kids up from school and make sure the baseball uniforms get cleaned – why, they just get filthy again anyways?! I’ve been trying to go to bed early because I wake up at 4:00am thinking about everything I have to do and then that’s the official beginning of my day…I’m sure you’ve been here before too.

For these reasons, "Appreciate" is the perfect word to practice this month. To appreciate, you have to slow down, you have to notice and you have to be present. It's so easy to get caught up in noticing what is absent, lacking or wrong:  I messed up, I wasn't good enough, theres still a hole in the wall! Our human primal brains are hard-wired for this type of thinking because at one time it meant survival. To recognize things were look out of place enabled us to identify dangers & potential threats - so seeing what was "wrong" protected us minute-to-minute long ago. Today, thankfully, true mortal threats are few & far between, but our bodies can't distinguish between a life-threat and a silly, modern-day stressor; once we are triggered so we get the same heart-thumping, adrenalin response either way. But we can CHOOSE to respond to stress with our evolved brain and a mindfulness practice: Notice what is happening, breathe, and be present. 

A great way to be present is to simply APPRECIATE. Here are some ways to incorporate appreciation into your TDM practice and your day this month.

- Begin your TDM practice by appreciating something in your body - maybe something as simple as your next breath. Use Marching as your time to transition, arrive & shift your thinking to "appreciate."
- Dedicate your practice to something that you appreciate in your body/life. Return to your dedication throughout your practice to center, positively impact your energy, and intentionally deepen your mind/body/heart connection.
- End your practice where you started it - notice how your body feels, notice your thoughts and emotions, observe the ones that come automatically then choose ones that focus on appreciation. Appreciate your breath, appreciate your body, appreciate what is working.
- Appreciate your teacher!
- Take your practice with you throughout your day; every time you feel your "switch getting flipped," you're noticing what is wrong so just stop, take a breath, and ask yourself if that's really true or if you can notice many more things that are GOOD.

To appreciate is to notice what is working, what is present, and what is full. I invite you to join me in this practice of appreciation for the next month - and (hopefully!) for the rest of our lives.

With appreciation and love,

- Jill

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