Salsa when you feel like it

BY LACHLAN CRAWFORD

I’ve grown to love the very early morning before the sun goes up. Everything is calm in theimages.jpg pre-dawn – waiting poised for another day to start. On early winter mornings after a heavy snow, everything in the street is particularly quiet and still.

Recently, however, on my early morning walk, I experienced the most exciting secret burst of life. As I was trudging through the snow, a storefront in my neighbourhood caught my attention. The business’ night staff was unabashedly blasting salsa music in their brightly-lit store as the surrounding commercial buildings stood empty in the cold dark. I noticed a jovial middle-aged man singing and dancing with a mop as he worked the floors. He noticed me too making my way through the cold dark snow outside and waved for me to join in.

To me, this was a wonderful reminder that there is life within us at all moments. Even joywhen the air is bitingly cold and the world is asleep, there is life happening. There is the same life within me and within all of us, even when we feel drained by the weather or by an attitude that makes us think we can’t do something, or shouldn’t. There is always the energy to be different and to blast the music of your own soul. It’s infectious when you witness it, so don’t be shy and let yourself salsa when you feel like it. You could be making someone out in the cold smile and laugh.


 

LACHLAN CRAWFORD apple pickin

Lachlan is a student of natural medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and a prospective student of contemplative psychotherapy at the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Toronto. She combines her learning from both alternative medicine and buddhist-influenced psychotherapy to develop a new way to address mental health concerns in a truly holistic way- with mind, body and spirit. Her professional interest blossomed out of her own struggles with depression and anxiety, helped greatly by her practices in meditation and ecstatic dance. Lachlan is a spirit, a writer and a traveler who loves the smell of Nag Champa.

For more info on Naturopathic Medicine and Contemplative Psychotherapy, see

Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine http://www.ccnm.edu/

Institute for Traditional Medicine http://itmworld.org/?page_id=275

 

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Learning to balance Tinder

BY LACHLAN CRAWFORD

Dating can be quite a lot to handle sometimes. It’s a huge mixed bag of human interaction, uncertainty, and emotion. It’s wonderful and weird, but it can also be hard; hard to put yourself out there, hard to be vulnerable, and hard to be responsible.its-a-match

Since dating is so difficult, it makes sense that we’ve created online platforms to take out some of the uncertainty involved in the process. Online dating has become hugely popular and changed the way people meet each other. Tinder alone is used by over 50 million people worldwide and racks up over 1 billion swipes per day.

Why so popular? Well with an app like Tinder we have more control over how we expose ourselves to the uncertainties of dating. We put up nice photos of ourselves, we engage with someone when they meet our standards, and we have a conversation with them only after we know that they approve of us too. This happens all before we even meet with them in person for the first time. Tinder makes connecting with people easier by giving us access to a huge number of people while still granting us security and control. But what else are we exercising when we are enjoying all of this control?

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Mini Practice Moments

BY LACHLAN CRAWFORD

We’ve all heard of mindfulness. It’s a practice that’s has recently gained a lot of mainstream popularity and has been used in a number of different applications, from professional sports and healthcare to corporate wellness and stress reduction. It seems like so many people have gotten into it lately, but how do we make the leap ourselves? If we don’t have time to join a group, follow an 8-week program, or commit big chunks of time to sitting meditation, does that mean we can’t access the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness-Definition11The good news is that mindfulness can be available to us in more ways than formal practice and instructed programs. Mindfulness is simply described as a practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment – and what better moment to begin practicing than now?

Let’s take a second to explore the mini possibilities for mindfulness that are available to us all the time. For example, take 10 seconds right now:

Become aware of your body.

Become aware of your surroundings.

Tune in to your emotional tone right now.

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Learning to meditate with a puppy-mind

BY LACHLAN CRAWFORD

A friend of mine wrote to me about their recent experience at a meditation retreat – one they were revisiting after having meditated there before. They confessed to me, “I thought I would be better at it this time. But when it wasn’t going well, I found I was getting angry with myself.”

overthinking_by_kijadoll-d6e39ct-e1444741767208.jpgMy heart goes out to this friend because I realize they were describing a trap that is so easy to fall into. For them, after several retreats and developing a personal practice of their own, they felt they should be getting “better” at meditation, or at least that it should be getting easier for them. This desire for improvement doesn’t happen only after we’ve gained experience, though. Reaching for an outcome in meditation can happen even right at the outset of learning for the first time. There’s usually a goal in mind – the reason you started doing it in the first place. Some try meditation in order to achieve personal growth, others do it for stress reduction, or to learn how to clear the mind. I often strive for these results too when I sit down to meditate.

It happens either during the meditation or afterward. I usually find myself evaluating how my morning session went, and comparing it to that of the previous day. I sometimes wind up judging my meditation by the number of times my mind wandered and how often I brought it back to center. I have it in my mind that this tally somehow dictates the success of my meditations.

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I Am Not A Phoenix

BY LACHLAN CRAWFORD

I’m a big fan of end-of-year rituals. I like the ‘best of’ lists that circulate the Internet in December and the memories that everyone shares about their past 12 months. I love how people tend to describe their whole year in one fell swoop, like “2015 was great!” or “This year kicked my butt.” However we do it, I think that reflecting on the past year is an important exercise that gives us perspective and helps us shape our goals for the year ahead.

Enter: the New Year’s resolution.2015-01-11-newyearsresolutions

Now I’m not one to make huge commitments to things just because it’s the last few days of December. But when I  looked back on my past year, I found that I learned something really big for me in 2015 – something worth rolling into the new year.

For me, 2015 was the year in which I began to slowly emerge out of a lingering depressive episode. I won’t delve into my experience with depression in this post, but I will just briefly say that I was able to make it through because I sought out and received the help I needed. For anyone reading this who needs help, know that taking this step was crucial to my upward swing. In the remainder of this post, I’ll share what I learned from the second half of that curve, starting from the day I began to feel better.

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