Using Your Imagination to Break Bad Habits

“I do believe, and I have seen in my own life, that Creative Visualization works!”

– Oprah Winfrey


Continuing the posts on Neuroplasticity and getting rid of bad habits.   Now on to step four:

4. Use your imagination.

Creative Visualization is one of my favorite topics!  Using Creative Visualization works.  It is a tool for what  Dr. Rick Hanson calls self-directed neuroplasticity

You can build new neural pathways not only with new behaviors, but through the imagination. Just imagine the new behaviors over and over and over. Keep repeating that in your mind so you build new pathways. Focus your mind and retrain your brain.

The woman who wrote the book Creative Visualization,  Shakti Gawain explains that:

“Creative visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life.  There is nothing new, strange or unusual about creative visualization. You are already using it every day, every minute in fact . . . whether or not you are aware of it.”

I have written about Visualization many times.  But my favorite story comes from a post I did in September 2012:

I remember the first time that I was actually aware that I had used visualization. It was at my 10 year high school reunion.  As I mentioned above, this was way before I did any of the work around personal growth.  The reason I became aware of it is that before the reunion, I thought to myself, it would be really cool to get ready with a group or my friends, have a few drinks around a pool somewhere and laugh and get dressed and put on make up together.  I saw the picture really clearly in my mind, I could picture a group of us laughing and having fun prior to the actual reunion – all sitting in the sun around a pool.  The problem was, I was picturing this from Japan where I was working at the time, and I had lost contact with most of my friends from high school.  When I went home for the reunion, I called my old high school friend Carol (whom I had not seen in almost 10 years) and she offered – how about if we all get ready over at my house, and we made a plan.  I had never been to the house that she now shared with her partner.  Carol called a few old friends and we met at her house in the afternoon before the reunion.  And when I walked through her house and got to the back yard, there in front of me was the vision I had pictured – four other friends from HS, all sitting around the pool, drinking cocktails and laughing.  It was exactly as I had pictured it from Japan!  It was eerie! But it was incredibly powerful, and luckily, I paid attention.  Several years later when I first read Gawain’s book, I got chills and thought – yes!  That’s what happened!  And again luckily, I paid attention. That’s an important piece – paying attention.

So when I want to break old habits and build new neural pathways, practicing self-directed neuroplasticity, I use Creative Visualization. Like Oprah Winfrey, I know it works!

I’ll close with a clip from Shakti Gawain about Creative Visualization.

 

 

I’d love to hear about any bad habits you’ve broken, and how you changed the behavior.  And if you do use Creative Visualization, I’d love to hear any stories you have.   And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

Neuroplasticity – Retraining our brain to get rid of bad habits

“What were once vices are now habits.”

It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133182.html#cRzVZOHjpM8tGpjB.99

The Doobie Brothers


Habits are hard to break, but understanding how they are created in our brain is the first step in breaking them.

No one likes having bad habits – smoking, over-eating, drinking too much – they are often expensive and usually bad for our health.

*I know there is a lot more to smoking  than just the habitual behaviors. Cigarettes are filled with chemicals that serve no other purpose than to addict the smoker. And I’m well aware of the fact that alcoholism is not a habitual behavior. But I’m talking about habits here, not addiction.

In terms of habits, think of it like walking in a virgin rainforest. The first time something is done, it’s like cutting through the rainforest with a machete. The more you perform this act, the more you are clearing the path. And after awhile, the neural pathway you’ve forged becomes easier to navigate, more like an open road. The more often it is traveled, the better the pathway. And this is great news when you are learning a new language or a new skill, the more often it is practiced, the better it gets.

What’s not so great is when this big neural pathway is associated with a habit you want to break, and the repetition of this bad habit keeps making it more entrenched. If each time you turn the key to start the car, you also light up a cigarette, the brain associates these actions together, and they become part of the same neural pathway. The bad news is that the longer you have done this, the more entrenched is this habit.

But the good news is that our brains are not static. Research about neuroplasticity is showing us that our brains can definitely change. We can rewire our brains and get rid of bad habits forever. We can all learn new behaviors and attitudes and transform our lives.

I’m not saying it’s easy to get rid of bad habits. But I am saying that it is possible. There are powerful ways that we can retrain our brain, and with practice rid ourselves of entrenched habits that we want to change.

Marilyn Gordon wrote a good article about training your brain to get rid of bad habits.  Each of the 10 steps deserves to be explored on it’s own, so I plan to dwell on each point individually in my next few posts.

She outlines the 10 steps as:

1. Identify the habit you’d like to transform and set the intention.

2. Observe what the old habit or pathway is doing in your life.

3. Shift your focus.

4. Use your imagination.

5. Interrupt your thoughts and patterns when they arise.

6. Use aversion therapy.

7.  Create a specific plan and choose what to do instead.

8. Transform the obstacles.

9. Connect with your Higher Source for inspiration and support.

10. Transform and make the shift.

I’ll close with a great talk, held at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, by Rick Hanson about Neuroplasticity.

 

I’d love to hear about any bad habits you’ve broken, and how you changed the behavior.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

Beliefs – Limiting or Empowering?

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
your thoughts become your words,
your words become your actions,
your actions become your habits,
your habits become your values,
your values become your destiny”

– Mahatma Gandhi


Are your beliefs limiting or empowering? Does your belief system enhance your life or constrict it? One way or the other, our beliefs drive our life. Because as Gandhi points out, our beliefs become our thoughts, and eventually our destiny.  But how do we really know what beliefs are driving us?  I was first introduced to the impact of my limiting beliefs when I did the Silva Method Course. We explored this concept by doing a very simple exercise, which I invite you all to do now. Get a pen and paper and write down the very first thing that pops into your head when you read the following phrases – don’t think about it, don’t edit, just write the very first word that comes to your mind:

  1. Life is . . . 
  2. Money is . . .
  3. Making money is . . .
  4. Time is . . .
  5. My health is . . .
  6. My body is . . .
  7. My love life is . . .
  8. I deserve . . .
  9. There is always too much . . .
  10. There is never enough . . .

OK, hopefully you have been totally honest and written down the first thing that came into your head.  Now look at it – what beliefs are driving your life?  Where did you get those beliefs? Louise Thompson talks a lot about beliefs and how they drive your life on her blog, Positive Balance.  She puts it simply:

“If at some deep level you believe there will never be enough: you are exactly right, and there never will be. If you believe deep down that life is hard then you will have a hard life. If you believe in miracles you will see miracles everywhere. If you believe life is a struggle then struggle you will.”

Most limiting beliefs come from childhood.  Either our parents or our teachers said something about life or about us and we accepted it completely.  And very possibly, we had many experiences as we grew up that “proved” that belief to be true.  But those beliefs do not have to continue to limit us.  We can choose to change limiting beliefs, but the first step is identifying them (thus the simple exercise above.)  There are literally thousands of sites that talk about eliminating  limiting beliefs, but they all agree that the first step has to be identifying what they are.

On the flip side is embracing empowering beliefs.  And to close I want to share a wonderful TED Talk by an amazing woman named Caroline Casey. Visit her blog, Kanchi, it is inspirational! Caroline Casey is a walking example of empowering beliefs.

“It’s extraordinaryhow far belief can take you . . . when you really believe in yourself and everything about you, it’s extraordinary what happens . . . being absolutely true to yourself is freedom.”

Please take the time to explore your own belief systems – and then take the time to watch this woman who can help us all embrace more empowering beliefs about ourselves.

 

 

I’d love to hear about your beliefs – are they limiting or empowering?  Do they make you happier or bring you down?  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

Be Do Have

“You have to be before you can do and do before you can have”

– Zig Ziglar


I hear so many people say – When I have A, then I can do B, and then I’ll be C . . .

For example – When I have more money, then I can travel, and then I’ll be happy. Or When I have more time, then I can exercise and feel healthy, then I’ll be happy. Or When I have a boyfriend, then I’ll go dancing, and then I’ll be happy.  (Note the Be Happy is usually the end result desired.)

But as Zig Ziglar points out, the best way to get what you want is to BE what you want first!  In other words Be Happy NOW!  In the award winning movie, HAPPY, director Roko Belic travelled around the world and asked people – What do you want most in life?  And the ultimate answer from everyone they interviewed in every part of the world was that they wanted to be happy. Simple as that.

Laurence Boldt explains the phenomena well in his best selling book, How to Be Do or Have Anything.

It’s an easy thing to say, but not as easy to embrace.  Gretchen Rubin is working hard to help people start living a happier life with her Happiness Project. 

One of the things Ms. Rubin recommends is making your own Twelve Personal Commandments.

One of the most challenging—and most helpful and fun—tasks that I’ve done as part of my Happiness Project is to write my Twelve Personal Commandments. These aren’t specific resolutions, like make my bed, but the overarching principles by which I try to live my life.

After reading quite a bit by Ms. Rubin, I made my own Twelve Personal Commandments.  I’d like to share them with you:

My Twelve Commandments

1. I AM (Intention Attention Memory) Everyday

2. To Thine Own Self Be True

3. Golden Rule – Be the way to others that you want them to be to you

4. I Will Act Now

5. Be Love in every way

6. Pay Attention!

7. Pay it forward

8. Be the change you want to see in the world

9. Be Happy Now

10. There is only Now

11. How do I want to be remembered?

12. Enthusiasm for Life!

I encourage you to make your own.  They help me keep important personal principals in my consciousness.

I’d like to close with a beautiful TED Talk by Matthiew Ricard, called The Habits of Happiness.

I’d love to hear about what makes you happy.  And if you decided to make your own 12 Commandments, I’d love to hear about them.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Clark’s Law

“Whatever Can Go Right, Will Go Right, and at the Perfect Time.”

– Clark’s Law  (The Clark Sisters – Karin and Patti)


Home again.  So happy to be home.  Feeling grateful for my home and my life.

So many wonderful stories about Borneo and Bali which will no doubt feature in my posts for months to come.  But today, I want to write my first post of 2013 about Clark’s Law:

Whatever Can Go Right, Will Go Right, and at the Perfect Time.

My sister Karin and I coined this Law (thus Clark’s Law!) on the way to the airport as she and my niece Chelsea were leaving Borneo.  We had just had an amazing 3 days, where everything that could go right, did.  We saw majestic orangutans (after being told we probably wouldn’t see them as it was durian season and they would be out in the jungle and not interested in coming to feed at The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.)  We hiked and saw beautiful caves and waterfalls, and had a fabulous day at Bako seeing troups of proboscus monkeys, even though it was rainy season and many people told us we would probably get rained out from most of these adventures.  But everything just kept going right!

This was after ten magically wonderful days in Bali!  Ten Days of feeling the spirit and peace that is Bali. Staying at lovely hotels, swimming in luxurious pools, eating delicious food and meeting wonderful people.  Having fun with my sister, and my niece and my son – laughing, exploring, playing cards, enjoying our time together. Not to mention our magnificent massage and facials at De Nyuh Spa.  Bliss!

On the way to the airport, Karin and I marvelled at our good fortune, feeling incredibly blessed and grateful.  And we both commented that 2013 felt like it was already tremendously positive and powerful.  We had set clear intentions of what we wanted from our trip together and everything aligned into place perfectly.

2013 feels like it is going to be an amazing year!

I am going to end this post with an interesting and insightful video by Mallika Chopra, Deepak Chopra’s daughter, on the subject of intention. She remembers growing up and saying this every night before going to bed:

“I am responsible for what I see, I choose the feelings I experience and set the goals that I will achieve; and everything that seems to happen to me, I ask for and receive as I have asked.”

 

Please let me know about your intentions for 2013.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

Using Creative Visualization to Improve Learning

“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we . . . learn to allow our natural channel to open.”

– Shakti Gawain


Creative Visualization is the scientifically based process of forming a detailed image in your mind of something that you want to achieve.

How does it work? Well, the results are based on several factors. First you must determine what you want, your goal – as Shakti Gawain puts it:

You create your opportunities by asking for them

Next, you get your brain into a relaxed state – any relaxation techniqe will work.  I offer one in the recording below.

And finally you create the pictures or images of what you want to achieve in your head. Ultimately, your actions are based on the images you create.

Creative visualization works!  It helps you succeed in all areas of your life –school, home, work, health, relationship – every single one.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think of Shakti Gawain as my first teacher.  I honestly know that reading the book Creative Visualization transformed my life.  It is one of the key tools for transformation in my book A Woman’s Guide to Transformation.

In the following visualization, I focus on helping students improve their learning and thus their grades. The visualization is included on this site in Amazing Grades!  If you are a student, or if you know someone who is a student, I offer this visualization to you.

 

 

Please let me know what you thought of this visualization.  And as always, thank you for visiting my blog, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

The Power of Music

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

– Aldous Huxley


My friend Tam sent me a beautiful video recently about the power of music.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I was thinking about it yesterday during a Creative Empowerment Workshop that Deb and I were running – I looked around watching the participants do their art, all listening to music.  Many were listening to the music that we supply, softly playing in the background; a few others had their own music playing on their ipods, but everywhere I looked people were immersed in some sort of music.  Near the end of the workshop, one participant said: “I really like the music you play during the workshop, I feel calm when I listen to it.”

Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”  Too harsh perhaps?  But reading this article in one of my favorite blogs, Daily Good, I am moved to see Nietzsche point.  The article describes music “bridging life and death.”  It is an interview with the woman who founded  The Threshold Choir, Kate Munger.  In the article Munger describes the beginning of The Threshold Choir.

“In November of 1990 I was invited to spend a day with a friend of mine who was dying of HIV Aids. He was comatose, but very agitated.  I sat down by his bedside and didn’t know what to do. I waited and waited. All I knew to do, to calm myself, was to sing. So I sang one song and I sang it for two hours. I sang it over and over again. I watched his breathing slow, and he got much calmer. And I got much calmer, because it was a song that was really soothing to me personally. So as I got comfortable, he got comfortable and at the end of the experience I felt like I’d touched something very deep.”

Attached is the video that Tam emailed to me.  A lovely representation of the power of music.

Please let me know your thoughts on this video, and I’d love to hear any stories you have about the Power of Music in your life.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Making positive changes that last!

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.”

– Bo Bennett


I am reading the most wonderful book at the moment!  I am amazed I haven’t come across it before, but as I wrote in a previous post:

When the student is ready, the teacher appears  . . . I guess I wasn’t ready yet.

The book is called The Winner’s Bible by Dr. Kerry Spackman.  It is an inspirational book about “Rewiring your brain for permanent change.”  Because Dr. Spackman is a neuroscientist, he includes very relevant information about how the brain works and how to work with your brain to make positive changes that last.  The first portion of the book is devoted to helping individuals make their own Personal Winner’s Bible.  It was so fun to make!  I had a blast.  And it was different than other vision boards that I’ve made, which have felt very static.  This felt vibrant and alive!  I felt inspired, motivated and creative.  Thus Bo Bennett’s quote – Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.

You can find this book at betterworldbooks.com.  Better world books is a wonderful site to buy books!  Not only do they ship worldwide for FREE, but they also donate to literacy projects worldwide with every purchase made.  It is truly a phenomenal site, one well worth supporting!

Interestingly, Dr. Spackman is a New Zealander.  It’s inspiring to see a fellow Kiwi out there doing this work.  The attached video is an interview with Dr. Spackman on a NZ news program.

 

 

Please let me know your thoughts on this interview, and I’d love to hear from any of you who have read The Winner’s Bible.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Who was your teacher?

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

– Zen Buddhist Saying


“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen to them.”

When I first read that statement by Shakti Gawain, I felt a tingle inside, and luckily for me, I finally listened.  I was finally ready to make some changes in my life.  If I had read Shakti Gawain’s timeless book, Creative Visualization a year earlier, it probably wouldn’t have moved me in the same way.

http://www.shaktigawain.com/

But because of where I was in my life, as I read her book, I felt the shift, I had the Ah-Ha Moment that I had heard others talk about.  I credit Shakti Gawain with waking me up, with being my teacher when I was finally ready.

Although actually, to back up a step, I would say that my sister Karin Clark would have been my real first teacher.  She saw in me my search for meaning, my longing for something more.  She saw that alcohol and partying was not only no longer enough to make me happy, but was actually beginning to destroy me.  It was my sister Karin who gave me that book, and who was and continues to be my teacher. I have never formally thanked her, so I want to do that now.  Thank you Karin, from the bottom of my heart.  In more ways than one, you saved my life.  I love you.

Who was your first teacher?  When did you have that Ah-Ha Moment?

The video below is an excerpt from an interview with Shakti Gawain about the process of creative visualization.

 

Please let me know what you thought of Shakti Gawain’s interview.  And I’d love to hear about how you found your own teacher.

As always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.