February Newsletter

Use Valentine’s Day as a nudge to practice self-caring!

February is here and whether you buy into the commercialized holiday or not, I like to view this as a time to think about and celebrate love. Love is a healing, warming, nourishing emotion. Independent of others, love is an emotion that is available to us whenever we need or want it; It may just require a bit of practice.
Self-love and self-compassion are essential to a healthy, vibrant, thriving life, and this goes for relationships with others as well. Sometimes, the most caring thing I can do for those I love is pay attention to myself in an honorable, compassionate way. This allows me to be present with those I love without expecting them to fix parts of me I haven’t attended to. It allows me to be available for their experiences because I am coming from a place of fullness, instead of lack. Whatever your feelings about Valentine’s Day, I invite you to use this time of year as a nudge to practice self-caring.
In this month’s issue, you will find a bold piece I’ve written on an alternative view to medication for depression and anxiety. I view most, if not all, mood disruptions as a disconnection from self. Read on to understand more and experience a practice in nurturing your Wisdom. Speaking of self-love and respect for your body, there is a book being released this month that could be a lovely act of self-care to purchase. Read on to find out more about “Feeding You Lies” and how to feed your body with the love and care it deserves.
HEALTHY, VIBRANT, THRIVING!
My whole way of thinking, and of helping others, is based around my philosophy of living a Healthy, Vibrant, and Thriving life! One way I love sharing this philosophy is through Instagram. Follow @drbando and receive encouragement to live a Healthy, Vibrant, and Thriving life yourself!

FEATURED ARTICLE…

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

It is beyond unfortunate that our culture is so accepting of popping pills for ailments that need a completely different remedy: self-awareness, attention, and honor. All too often, I see people struggling from the side-effects of medications or new disorders they’ve developed as a result of following their doctor’s well-meaning instructions. While medication certainly is useful and has its place, it is over-prescribed in our country and doing so deprives many of us of a deeper connection with ourselves. If you are experiencing mood symptoms such as depression or anxiety, it is your personal choice whether you treat these experiences with medication or other options.

Medication is not bad or wrong; at times, it is life-saving. However, the information we receive seems heavily weighted toward popping a pill to feel better. Here, you will find other options and ways of thinking about depression and anxiety. Please filter this information through your wisdom and do what is best for you and this short, meaningful life of yours.

Continue Reading


DID YOU KNOW?

I have been following food blogger and nutrition-based author, Vani Hari, otherwise known as Food Babe, for years. I am embarrassed to say that it did not occur to me to read food ingredient labels until well into my thirties. I was taught to be aware of carbs, protein, fat, etc., but it did not occur to me to be thoughtful about the quality of my food until over a decade into adulthood! I was never taught that this was important. Enter Vani, whose upbeat style and no-nonsense approach to nutrition, opened my eyes.
Food Babe’s philosophy is to inform and educate people on the “food” they are putting into their bodies and hold manufacturers of food accountable for responsible practices. She presents research on harmful chemicals that are snuck into food, exposes deceitful marketing practices, and suggest alternatives to the individual and larger corporations to help make our available options healthier. Vani is a crusader for nutritious eating, and in her new book “Feeding You Lies”, she exposes the untruths behind or food system from the food industry and our government. She is also uplifting, hopeful, and encouraging, leaving you feeling excited about treating your body well.
In her new book, Vani guides you through a 48-hour Toxin Takedown to rid your pantry, and your body, of harmful chemicals. She will help you live without preservatives, artificial sweeteners, additives, food dyes, or fillers, eating foods that truly nourish you and support your health. Pick up your copy of “Feeding You Lies” and learn what is needed to take control of what you are putting in your body!

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

Listen to this article on YouTube or Soundcloud.It is beyond unfortunate that our culture is so accepting of popping pills for ailments that need a completely different remedy: self-awareness, attention, and honor. All too often, I see people struggling from the side-effects of medications or new disorders they’ve developed as a result of following their doctor’s well-meaning instructions. While medication certainly is useful and has its place, it is over-prescribed in our country and doing so deprives many of us of a deeper connection with ourselves. If you are experiencing mood symptoms such as depression or anxiety, it is your personal choice whether you treat these experiences with medication or other options.

Medication is not bad or wrong; at times, it is life-saving. However, the information we receive seems heavily weighted toward popping a pill to feel better. Here, you will find other options and ways of thinking about depression and anxiety. Please filter this information through your wisdom and do what is best for you and this short, meaningful life of yours.

Why depression and anxiety are not your fault, AND at the same time, your responsibility.

It Is Not Your Fault

Feeling depressed or anxious is not your fault. Emotions make sense. There is a cause-and-effect law of nature that we can apply to emotions. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, there is a reason, even if it is not immediately obvious to you.

Let’s take Sally, a high-achieving, married, mother-of-two.

Growing up, Sally learned that being angry didn’t work. When she expressed anger, her parents cut off affection and withdrew attention. She soon learned that her parents responded similarly to her expressions of fear, hurt, and other emotions that were painful and uncomfortable.

Now, in her thirties, Sally has learned to smile and “brush it off” when things bother her so that she doesn’t “make a big deal” out of things or upset the apple cart. People describe her as easy to get along with and laid-back. It is no surprise to me that Sally suffers from depression. She reports feeling like a shell of her former self and now has trouble experiencing all emotions, even joy, and mostly feels numb. Her doctor recommended she try taking an anti-depressant medication, but something inside her told her that was covering up and not addressing the true problem, so she sought my help.

I soon learned that whenever Sally suspects an emotion may bubble up, she does everything she can to shut it down and go back to feeling “fine.” Sally had so much emotional buildup clogging her every atom, it is no wonder she was bogged down with depression. My work with Sally was helping her feel those painful emotions she had stuffed away for all those years. I taught Sally some of what she already knew, deep in her intuition: how to walk through the hell of her emotions, look at them, feel them, and move through them, until she found herself. Through this process of facing, rather than medicating or numbing her emotions, Sally found bravery, the knowledge that she can do very hard things, and a self-respect she hadn’t previously known.

Another example is Ralph, a 40-something man with a high-powered career.

Ralph was anxious, didn’t know if he would ever find a relationship, and ran away each time he started feeling interested in a woman he was dating. In fact, this was Ralph’s M.O. Whenever he felt anxious, he either worked harder and achieved more to ensure his competence or found another way to run from and avoid facing his fear head-on.

It turns out that Ralph had this response to anxiety starting from a young age. He implicitly learned that once he quieted or escaped the anxiety, he felt relief. He recalled staying home “sick” from school as a young boy to avoid social situations when he felt unsure. This worked for a while. Every time he felt anxious about his work performance, rather than feel the fear run through his body and view it as an opportunity for growth, he worked even harder than his 60-hour-per-week job required and made sure there was no room for doubt. As a result, he quickly advanced in his career.

He also applied this philosophy to dating, and every time Ralph felt anxious (i.e., vulnerable because he really liked the woman he was dating), he figured out an exit strategy and reasoned that it was for the better and she just wasn’t meant for him.

In short, Ralph’s coping style was to run away from anxiety any way he could. Now in his 40’s, Ralph suffers from an anxiety disorder and was prescribed Xanax by his doctor. However, learning more about how anxiety (and emotions, in general) works, Ralph knew that escaping the feelings every time he was anxious, whether through hard work, break-ups, or medication, were contributing to him experiencing more and more anxiety and dissatisfaction as life marched on.

My work with Ralph was to help him turn and stand tall, toe-to-toe with anxiety. Ralph learned to move towards, instead of away from, anxious feelings, and has gained confidence, self-respect, and a loving dating relationship he enjoys as a result. Ralph’s work life also became less stressful and much to his surprise, his performance did not suffer.

What do Sally and Ralph have in common?

They both had mood symptoms they did not understand and were prescribed medication. They both also intuitively knew that for them, medication was hiding, not solving their problems. For both of them, treatment involved facing their emotions, connecting to the physiological sensations coursing through their bodies, and learning to welcome them in.

Last, and certainly not least, both Sally and Ralph learned to feel comfortable in their skin again and live life feeling purpose and meaning. For both Sally and Ralph, mood symptoms were signals that something was wrong. Their emotions were not getting the attention they needed and behaviors geared toward avoiding or pushing them down were moving them farther and farther away from the wisdom their bodies were offering through the experience of emotions.

In both cases, depression and anxiety was not their fault. Mood symptoms were a result of the behavior patterns they had learned to keep themselves feeling safe. They did not purposely engage in coping strategies to make them feel worse in the long run. In fact, they did not even know this was happening. They thought they were being skillful.

Feeling depressed or anxious is not your fault. There is always a cause and effect. This means, there is no need or even logic in harshly blaming, criticizing, or berating yourself: that emotion you feel makes sense. We can trace it back to a certain event or series of events that caused whatever is happening in your life now to happen. The take-home message here is, if you feel it, it makes sense; that does not mean that you need to live in it, dwell in it, swim in it, buy real-estate in it, or act out of that place of emotion.

Personal Responsibility

As a holistic psychologist, I view depression and anxiety as a disconnection from the self. Depression and anxiety are not your fault, AND the only one who can change things is you. Not a doctor who gives you a pill or anyone who offers a remedy. You are the only person who can change your experience.

Emotions are a physiological process, meaning they happen in your body. When an emotion fires, your biology instantaneously changes: your breathing, heart rate, temperature, and even blood pressure may fluctuate with each emotion that passes through your body. When you process your emotions, you are aware of your body. When you make a connection with your body by paying attention to your emotional experiences, you not only get rid of emotional buildup, you gain access to so much more. When emotional buildup isn’t getting in the way, you are able to feel grounded in your experiences and more readily identify what is important to you. In short, you free yourself to live with meaning.

That begs the question, “How?”

Once you begin to understand that your symptoms are signals for you to pay attention to, you can start to evaluate why your body, brain, and mood are trying to get your attention. You can ask yourself questions about how you feed yourself, exercise, rest, and how your daily behaviors are in or out of line with what is truly important to you. Take a look at today. Are you behaving in ways that produce pride? If you do not regularly engage in daily activities that you feel proud of, it is impossible to feel proud of your life. Where are you disconnected from what truly matters to you, and what step can you take today to move closer to living your values?

It’s a Process.

Dealing with depression or anxiety is a process. The answer is not in a pill, it’s in a process. The process is one of truly looking at yourself, without judgment, and listening to what your body and emotions are telling you. Then you can make this information actionable by asking yourself, “Where can I take a step forward today?” Don’t think of it as, “I’m at point A and I want to be at point B, but I don’t know how to get there.” Rather, ask “What is one little tiny step forward that I can take today that will start me down my path and my goal of reaching point B?” It could be something as small as “Today I’m going to drink a cup of bone broth”, or “Today I’m going to take 3 breaths and notice how my body feels before I take that first sip of coffee in the morning.” It could even be, “I’m going to open and read a page of that book that is important and meaningful to me.” Recovering from depression and anxiety is about the process and the relationship you build with yourself. Recovering means engaging in daily behaviors that support your best life.

The process of healing and self-connection is not about harshness, punishment, will power, and a “just do it” mentality. This stance of cracking the whip to get yourself in line is short-lived and impossible to maintain. You may have experienced coming up with a “tough love” remedy time and time again, only to wind up back in the same stuck place. Rather than more discipline, you may need more of a connection to yourself, because if you can relax into yourself, trust your body’s experiences, feel what you are feeling, and connect to what is important to you, you will move in a direction that is in your best interest.

 

CONNECTING TO YOUR WISDOM PRACTICE

Listen to this practice on YouTube or Soundcloud.
Let’s begin with getting grounded in the present moment. Focus now on the bottoms of your feet. Really see if you can feel any sensations present on the bottoms of your feet. Just notice.

Now, bringing your attention to the parts of your body touching the seat that you are in. If you are standing, you can continue noticing the bottoms of your feet or notice the sensation of your clothes on your body. Wherever your focus, bring your attention to your body touching another object.

Now, turning your attention toward your breath. Breathing in and breathing out.

Notice: where in your physical body does your attention go when you are bringing your awareness to your breath? Where do you feel your breath in your body?

Bringing your attention now to the very end of your inhalation. Take a few breaths focusing on the very end of your inhalation, right before the pause leading to your exhalation.

When you are noticing the very end of your inhalation, where, in your physical body, does your attention lie?

Some hypothesize that this is the physical representation of Wisdom in your body. Breathe into this place, notice this place inside of you. Within Wisdom, there is usually an experience of peace. Some describe this as a settling, much like sand gently settling into the bottom of the ocean.

This is a practice you can take with you anywhere to help settle into your body and your body’s wisdom. Three steps:

  1. Ground yourself by feeling the bottoms of your feet.
  2. Bring yourself solidly into the present moment and notice where your body is touching an object – your clothes or a seat you are sitting in.
  3. Notice where you feel your breath in your physical body. Then start to focus on the very end of your inhalation. Focus on this point, wherever in your body it lies.

You can also practice asking this part of your body, also known as the physical place of  Wisdom inside of you, a question. I like to practice with mundane, daily tasks, like how to prioritize what to do next or whether or not to go get a glass of water. Building a relationship with your body and your Wisdom requires time and attention. The more you ask and are present, the stronger your relationship becomes.


January Newsletter

Welcome to my January Newsletter!

Although some people roll their eyes at this, I love the New Year! In fact, I love any new beginning – the start of the school year, change in seasons, my birthday – anything that symbolizes the birth of something new. I like to use these markers as opportunities for a clean slate; a bright, shiny new future full of possibilities. Can you feel the optimism? I promise, I won’t get New Year’s Resolution-y on you. What I will do is encourage you to use this change on the calendar to dream big and create even more of the life that you want.
If you or someone you love is suffering from chronic illness, this issue of my newsletter is specially designed for you. Read (or listen to) my article about the “chronic” part of chronic illness, how it takes its toll, and what to do about it. Also, I’m sharing a fabulous resource – a naturopathic doctor who specializes in chronic, hard-to-treat illnesses, and is accessible and collaborative with her patients. If you or a loved one struggles with chronic illness, you need all the encouragement and support you can get. My hope is you find that here. There is hope for fulfillment, meaning and plain ol’ fun in your future!
Welcome 2019!
Great News!
All of my blogs, articles, practices, and meditations, are now available on YouTube. You can choose one that feels relevant now, or listen on continuous play while you get in today’s cardio. Also, when you subscribe to my YouTube channel you will be notified whenever I post a new video. Click the YouTube link below and visit my channel today.

FEATURED ARTICLE…

Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 2: CHRONICITY

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 45% of Americans live with a chronic illness. That means almost half of us are living with daily symptoms and do not experience complete wellness! Given this number, chances are that you or someone you love suffers from the grips of a prolonged illness.

Continue Reading


DID YOU KNOW?

Functional medicine is a form of “alternative” medicine rising in popularity. Different types of practitioners (MD, OD, ND, L.Ac.) follow functional medicine and use this modality to find and treat the root cause of chronic and other illnesses. Many people turn to this method when conventional medicine has failed. Take a look at my featured professional, Dr. Antonella Aguilera-Ruiz of Wild Lemon Health to learn more.
Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz started her career sharing an office with a psychiatrist and psychologist, and has become well-versed on the inextricable interplay between physical and mental health. She also loves treating “complex” cases and her ideal client comes to her after having been through many doctors either not knowing how to treat, or having treatment failed. If you are grappling with physical and emotional symptoms, and maybe aren’t even sure how or if the two are related, an appointment with Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz is a good place to start. She offers a free initial consultation and affordable on-going care with unlimited access to her. What are you waiting for?! Check out her website and contact her today!
Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz’s Anti-Cleanse
Join Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz’s January Group Program, “Wildly Nourished” to reboot the new year with healthy food, connection, and clarity.

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

December Newsletter

Welcome to my December Newsletter!

The end of the year is upon us! As it seems to feel every year, time has flown by in the blink of an eye. It is true that our life here is short, and I like to use this as motivation to take a big juicy bite out of everything we can! Why wait until after January 1st to take stock and make changes that you know you need to thrive? The time is NOW! As we wrap up 2018, I would like to challenge you to face the path you want to be on and take a BOLD step forward.
What does your path and bold step look like?
Do you need to stop holding back some part of your personality for fear of others’ reactions? Perhaps slowing down and extending more kindness to yourself and others is a next, big step forward? Maybe you would like to get into shape and feel healthy and alive in your physical body?
Do you need to stop holding back some part of your personality for fear of others’ reactions? Perhaps slowing down and extending more kindness to yourself and others is a next, big step forward? Maybe you would like to get into shape and feel healthy and alive in your physical body? The step you choose is unique to you. There is no wrong answer and everyone may choose something different. Mindfulness is where it all begins. Mindfulness is where it all begins; it is the foundation on which any new habit is built. That’s why I have devoted this newsletter to the topic of, you guessed it, Mindfulness!
In this month’s newsletter…
You will find the final installment of my Body Image and Weight Loss series focused on Self-Compassion. While “self-compassion” sounds straightforward, it is a skill that requires practice to build. A strong base of mindfulness helps facilitate your ability to make use of self-compassion. In this spirit, I have also included two other perspectives from individuals with unique, science-based approaches to mindfulness and mindful eating. Read on to understand the effects on your whole-body health. Since mindfulness is best practiced rather than just understood, as always, I have included a practice this month, focused on self-compassion.
I hope you find something here to brighten your life and set you on the path toward THRIVING!
Happy Holidays!

FEATURED ARTICLE…

Body Image and Weight Loss Part 4: Self-Compassion

Body Image and Weight Loss are generally not topics that people enjoy discussing, yet the conversation is taking place in front of our eyes daily. Simply go outside or turn on any electronic device and you are bombarded with ideas about how you are supposed to look, feel, and even think. It probably does not occur to you to offer self-compassion if you don’t fit the perceived societal mold. The problem is that it not only feeds into the trap of Box Thinking, it also ignores that we are all individuals, and there is no template for the way we are supposed to be.

Continue Reading


ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW…

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac is a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine. He also has a talent of dissecting research and presenting the summary in a useful and reader-friendly manner. I have included links to some of his informative articles to help you understand Mindfulness, and get started on a daily Mindfulness routine. Chris is particularly passionate about disseminating information about the gut microbiome and how this affects overall health, including mood and mood disorders, so I have also included a link to an article here. Mindfulness involves awareness of our body and health, including what we feed ourselves and how we are impacted by our nutrition.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you have been going through life thinking in terms of, “Hungry – not hungry,”  or even not knowing whether or not you feel hunger, this book is for you. Jan Chozen-Bays, the author of one of my favorite books,Mindful Eating, explains SEVEN different types of hunger!
Reasons to gift yourself with this book today:
  1. Mindful Eating is a lovely, soothing read. I think of it as the book version of a massage.
  2. With the book, you receive access to 14 guided meditations.
  3. Never does this book shame you into what you “should” do. Rather, Chozen-Bays gently guides you down a path of discovering your likes and dislikes, what fits and what doesn’t.
  4. Jump start your mindfulness practice and learn to eat for your unique body.

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

November Newsletter

Welcome to my November Newsletter!

Happy Thanksgiving! What an exhausting time of year this can be! Even if you love the holidays and enjoy robust health, the drop in temperature, colds and flus, and general busy-ness of the season can make it difficult to motivate. If you suffer from chronic illness, this time of year can also feel depleting. Please don’t despair! In this month’s newsletter, you will find…
  • The first installment in my series on Chronic Illness. Chronic, debilitating, and auto-immune disorders seem to be the norm for many nowadays. Even if you do not suffer, you may have a loved one struggling with illness, and my article can help give you some insight and understanding into their experience. Don’t worry – it is not all doom and gloom! Yes, I want to explain and understand hardships, AND I also want to give you a path forward, so read ahead for coping strategies.
  • Also an antidote to illness and stress, you might enjoy knowing more about the Psychology of Laughter. Not only is laughter powerful medicine, it also burns calories, relaxes the body, boosts your immune system, and promotes heart health! In this spirit, I’ve attached some comedy clips for you to enjoy, and I encourage you to watch some of your favorite comedians.
  • Yet another impactful way to support your body is through Mindful Exercise. Meet Owen Dockham, founder and owner of Live Oak Strength. His unique, science-backed approach to exercise and aging well, supports people at all fitness levels, from yoked-out gym rat to Sedentary Sally.
As always, I hope you find something here to brighten your days. After all, life is too short just to survive, that’s why I help people THRIVE!

FEATURED ARTICLE…

Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 1: The Unpredictability of Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. You may deal with varying degrees of disability; from brain fog that affects your ability to concentrate and remember, to intense pain that affects your joints and ability to move freely in your body. You may even have “wandering” symptoms, which means that you experience different symptoms from day-to-day or week-to-week, and are never sure what to expect from your body. Sometimes symptoms might even be vague and hard to describe; even though you know something is off in your body, you are not experiencing the vitality you once did.

Continue Reading


ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW…

My friend and colleague, Owen Dockham is a certified personal trainer, the founder of Live Oak Strength in the East Bay, California, and co-founder of EverStrongSF in San Francisco in the Lower Haight. (A possible sister location may be opening up in your area of California soon. Stay tuned!) I first attended a fitness class run by Owen in 2011 and have followed him as he expanded to open his own studio offering a super-safe, amazingly effective way to build muscle, strengthen joints, and improve bone density. I started this “Super-Slow” weight lifting workout in October 2016 when I was in a lot of joint and muscle pain and my body was not cooperating with other types of exercise. I have been at it once a week ever since. Did I mention this workout is only once, or maximum twice a week for 20 minutes?! Yep, that’s it! A major component of this exercise is that the muscles need to rest so that they can properly repair and strengthen. I believe in this workout so strongly as I have seen it help already buff people get more muscle tone and definition and senior citizens able to use this method to stay mobile, healthy, and minimize body pain. I continue to learn so much from Owen and his workout protocol. Another selling point for me is that this method is science-backed and based in research. (You can read more about it in the book Body by Science, if you’re interested). To learn more about Owen or high-intensity resistance training, check out his websites.

DID YOU KNOW…

You have certainly heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine!” and research shows us this is true. From lowering stress hormones to momentarily distracting you from painful experiences, laughter provides many health and quality-of-life benefits. You don’t have to take my word for it: check out these articles on the medicine of laughter and learn for yourself how powerful this tool can be. And the next time you need a boost, find a way to evoke a big belly laugh! Remember, it’s great for your health.
SPEAKING OF THE MEDICINE OF LAUGHTER…
Speaking of the medicine of laughter, I am a huge comedy fan. My husband and I love seeing comedians perform live and attend comedy shows whenever we can. I encourage you to brainstorm a few ways you can bring more laughter into your life. For inspiration, check out these brief comedy clips and see what tickles you. (Brian Regan is a personal, long-time favorite of mine. I laugh until I cry – the fun kind.) Enjoy!

JOIN ME ON INSTAGRAM…


Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. I post a few times a week, so follow @drbando for tips, encouragement, and suggestions to help you thrive.


WANT MORE?

My recent articles, guided meditations, and practices are always available with an audio option – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, please visit either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

Living an Authentic Life

You may have heard the term, “Living an Authentic Life”. This phrase has different meanings to different people and there are countless ways to embody this, depending on your personality, history, talents and soul purpose, to name a few. My way of helping you live authentically is teaching and facilitating your ability to tune into your Wisdom. Most of the time, this starts with emotional awareness, understanding, and experiencing, and developing your expertise in harnessing your physical experience to align with your values and what is most fulfilling for you in this life.

Listen to the audio version of this article.

Every person has Wisdom. Just as we all have logic and are able to reason things through, we have emotion and can act impulsively or with love or out of fear; we all have blood coursing through our veins and bones and muscles in our bodies. In the same way, we all have Wisdom. I define Wisdom as that place where knowing exists. It may occur to you as a settling sensation, a sense of peace, clarity, intuition, or really any number of experiences. Your wisdom is distinctively yours and how you encounter it is unique to you. My life’s work is to help those who are seeking to access Wisdom in such a way that you are not only making big decisions from a Wise place but also living your everyday life informed by this valuable source. I believe being able to part the clouds of your noisy life and tune into the knowing deep inside is your key to unlocking the door to living your Authentic Life.

This begs the question, “How do I reach my Wisdom?” The answer: by treating your life as a Guest House and putting out the welcome mat. In our society, we are heavily reinforced from a young age to “think things through.” While some thoughts can be distressing, most people do not have trouble welcoming in and being aware of thoughts. Even when someone asks how you feel, a typical response is to report what you think, e.g., “I’m stressed because I just sat in traffic,” “I’m looking forward to going to a movie tonight.” In fact, discussing how we feel is so foreign in our society that responding to the question, “How are you feeling?” is never answered by, “Well, let’s see. I have a very slight fluttering in my stomach, I am noticing my feet touching the ground, and there is a feeling of lightness in my chest. Overall, I’m feeling hopeful.” Try responding in this way the next time someone asks how you are and you will most certainly meet a furrowed brow and possibly awkward conversation.

Yet, as the poet, Rumi, so aptly stated many years ago, “This being human is a Guest House.” What he meant is that emotions flow through us, they come, and they go, much as visitors of a guest house. It is a natural process, and we are plagued with much suffering if we fight off, suppress or ignore what we are feeling. Never does Rumi say to brace yourself and clench your teeth until the unpleasant emotion passes. Rather, he writes about “a depression, a meanness…a crowd of sorrows” and urges you, “Welcome and entertain them all!” “Meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.”

The human condition is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Therefore, being a guest house to our emotions is a practice. When we practice, we rid ourselves of emotional buildup, and we allow ourselves to simply be, with the confidence we can handle whatever comes our way. And when we do this, we clear the clouds of emotional chaos and create an opening for our Wisdom to appear.

Are you looking for the Wisdom to Live an Authentic Life? Please take a look at my articles*, exercises, worksheets, and audio guides to help you achieve your personal goals as you shift from surviving to Thriving!

*Stay tuned for next month’s article, Part 2 of the four-part Body Image and Weight Loss series started this past June. If interested, you can access the written and audio versions of Part 1 here.

_________________

Guided Meditation

Listen to the audio version of my guided meditation to help you live an Authentic Life.

Living your authentic life involves tuning into your Wisdom. This starts with emotional awareness, understanding, and experiencing, which helps lead you on a path to aligning your day-to-day life with your values, resulting in your deepest fulfillment.

By treating your life as a Guest House, as the author, Rumi, suggests in his poem, you can cultivate a welcoming, accepting and nonjudgmental attitude toward your emotions. You can learn to allow your emotions to flow through you, leading to clarity, a sense of peace and knowing, and ultimately access to your Wisdom, the gateway to living your authentic life.

I am going to read the poem, The Guest House, by Rumi, twice. Your task is to listen to the words, allow them to flow through you, and notice any sensations as they arise. When your mind wanders, that is perfectly fine, as minds are meant to think, just notice that your mind is thinking and ever so gently, bring your attention back to the words, back to your body and sensations, back home to your house of Wisdom.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

By Rumi

As this recording comes to a close, you may choose to sit in silence for a few more moments, gently noticing the sensations of your breath and your body, knowing that allowing your experiences to flow through you provides access to your Wisdom and to your Authentic Life.

Thank you for listening. I’m Dr. Bando, licensed psychologist, happy to help you shift from surviving to thriving!


When Everyone Turns to You, and You’d Rather They Didn’t

Everyone occasionally gets assigned to be the Point Person: the one people turn to for making plans, coordinating, and figuring everything out. The people around you may have the impression you are the most knowledgeable, capable, or willing to do the work. They may look up to you or see you as an authority. For whatever reason, you become the Point Person, the hub of responsibility in a situation or group.

Sometimes it can be preferable to be the “Point Person,” but there will be times that you just do not want the responsibility. You may have been told to “just say yes” or “step up to the plate” when you have been put in this position. People may try to cheer you on, thinking you just need encouragement and that leading or organizing will be good for you, or that it’s your duty. Still, you do not want to do it. So, what now?

Your Health

Consider whether it is healthy for you to take on unwanted tasks. The associated stress increase can cause you harm. We all know excessive stress is harmful, but the chronicity of stress that comes from being a “Point Person” can be especially injurious, because there is no apparent time for your body to realize that the situation is over, signaling that it is time to relax.

Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety” – National Institute of Mental Health website

when you're the point person, assigned responsibility, appointed in charge

Your Relationships

Allowing others to decide that you are in charge can be detrimental to your relationships. It is best to talk about what you are comfortable with early before you grow resentful for having endured a situation you felt forced into. This can also prevent tensions that would inevitably arise in the course of you trying to fill that “Point Person” role.

Feeling pushed into a default role of responsibility most likely does not help you put your best foot forward and shine. Your performance as an unwilling “Point Person” may disappoint people that matter to you, or matter to your success at work or other areas of your life.

How to Handle Being Elected Point Person

Once you decide how you feel about being the responsible party, you can then set limits that protect you from absorbing more responsibility than you want. Be clear with yourself about what bothers you, what feels right in your wisdom, and how you would like to interact with the project or situation ahead of you. Then you can set parameters with the people looking to you for guidance.

Setting limits promotes better health and well-being. Some of the benefits of being clear about your boundaries include that you learn more about yourself, you become a more transparent and effective communicator, and you have more time for the things you value.

It can take practice setting boundaries with others. Here are some tips to help you set your boundaries:

  • Do your homework: Ask what others expect of you without assuming.
  • Know yourself and be truthful: Before starting a conversation about your limits, know what you are willing to accept and be honest about it.
  • Negotiate: Be willing to try to find a solution that works for everyone if it exists, don’t accept “solutions” that truly do not work for you.
  • Self-care: Stick with your commitment to take care of yourself.
  • Be assertive: Don’t try to disguise your limits or make them seem like something they aren’t. Be direct and clear.

If you want to learn more about limit setting or other ways to take your health from surviving to thriving, contact Dr. Bando today.


Validation is Good for Your Health

Why Validate?

Everybody craves validation. Even babies need to be responded to as though their experiences are valid and have their needs met. To be told that you matter, and your experiences make sense is a deeply regulating and nourishing experience.

What is Validation?

When you validate, you are NOT saying you agree, approve or condone. In fact, you can validate someone you completely disagree with (more on this later). You can also learn to validate your own experience even when you have self-judgments, such as thinking you “should feel differently.”

Validation is not a compliment or an insult. Validation means expressing that the person you are validating (yourself or someone else) has an experience that makes sense. Science tells us there is a cause-and-effect process to your emotions and behaviors, meaning that if you feel or act a certain way, there is a reason. In other words, your emotions and actions make sense. They come from somewhere.

To complicate things a bit, everyone does not feel validated by the same words and actions. Different people and situations require diverse ways of validating. Sometimes, simply saying, “How you feel makes sense,” can be enough. There are also situations that require spending some time listening and asking questions before the other person feels they have been heard.

Read on for tips on how to validate and understand the benefits to your health.

How to Validate

Give verbal responses to show you are engaged and listening.

This can be “um-hum” or “ah” or “I see” or “keep talking” or “I’m interested in what you are saying” or “tell me more.” You can also ask follow-up questions, “Then what happened?” or “How did you feel about him saying that to you?” Respond with whatever feels natural to illustrate that you are following along and giving attention to what the other person is saying. The key here is to be genuine. If you are rolling your eyes or sighing with boredom while at the same time verbally expressing your interest, this can be experienced as confusing or invalidating.

Express that you are listening with body language.

Instead of slouching back in your chair, looking at the wall, or fidgeting with a pen, look at the person speaking. Watch their expressions and listen as though you are interested. This is a time to practice putting down your electronic devices and silencing them. You can lean your body slightly forward or sit forward in your chair toward the person speaking. This indicates interest and can be reinforcing for many.

validation is good for you

Verbalize you are listening by saying it.

Validation is about recognizing and expressing that what a person is experiencing matters and is real. You can show this by simply saying it. Phrases such as, “I can understand why you feel this way,” or, “It makes sense you would be frustrated,” or, “I think anyone in your shoes would feel this way,” can communicate validation.

Search for the kernel of truth.

If you are trying to validate but disagree and so do not know how to validate the person, the remedy is to get curious. You must take a stance that even if you cannot see it, this person’s experience makes sense and then throw yourself into discovering “the kernel of truth.” In other words, you do not have to agree to validate. You can even disapprove of another’s point of view and still validate. A common type of conversation for this difficulty to arise is in political conversations when you have one point of view and the other person has an opposing view. Or, perhaps your friend tells you about an argument and you agree with the others person’s stance and disagree with your friend. The thing to do here is let go of the content (specifics of the conversation) for a moment and try to identify and make sense of the other’s emotion. While you may disagree with your friend’s political stance, you can still validate that he feels passionate about it or frustrated or whatever the emotion is at that moment. Here, you are communicating, “I may not agree with you, but I still think you make sense and that your experiences are valid and worthwhile, even if we never see eye-to-eye on this.” Through this validating stance, you are accepting how a person feels or perceives a situation. That’s it. You are not approving or condoning; you are simply accepting their experience for what it is.

Validating those you disagree with is an advanced practice. It requires that you let go of framing it in your mind as wrong, illogical, insane, or any other judgments. This exercise further requires you accept that somehow this person makes sense, even if you cannot understand why in this moment. Practice this in less intense situations first until you get the hang of it, then apply it to more emotionally tricky situations. Experiment with validation and investigate the effects it has on your relationships. (Warning: You may experience less conflict and even get your own needs met more frequently.)

Validation is Good for Your Health

If you only learned one skill to improve your relationships, I would cheerlead for that to be validation. Validation is extremely effective in reducing conflict and increasing the bonds between people (this means increased endorphins and all the pleasant-feels and chemicals in the brain and body). Validating others also releases you from the trap of thinking you must tell them what to do, how to feel, what you would have done or otherwise, how to problem-solve their situation. Letting go of the desire to guide or critique others who are perfectly capable of doing that for themselves is a release of perceived responsibility for you, which can be an immense stress reliever. Less stress means lower cortisol levels (regulates your ability to relax and sleep) and often, regulated serotonin (mood regulator).

So far, you have read about validating others. Validating yourself is just as crucial to your health and well-being. People who have a history of chronic invalidation and learn invalidating self-talk suffer profoundly. Chronic invalidation, including self-hating thinking, can lead to depression and symptoms such as binge eating and other behaviors destructive to your health. Your ability to validate yourself is a major strength and allows you to trust your own decisions and wisdom. Building confidence in what you believe, feel and think brings a sense of calm and centeredness that is impossible to attain when you do not trust yourself. Self-validation can promote your general well-being as well as harmonious relationships. Use this short Self-validation Handout/Worksheet to help you practice.

For help validating yourself or others, or learning more techniques and strategies that can enrich your life, contact Dr. Bando today and shift from surviving to thriving!


4 Tips for Returning to Therapy

For an audio recording of this post, visit here: Dr. Bando on Soundcloud 

When you make the investment of time, energy and money in therapy, you want to experience progress and change. If you’ve been in therapy before but haven’t achieved the results you want, you may be wondering what you can do to make those changes. Talk therapy can feel helpful, allowing you to have some real ‘aha’ moments and gain insight into the cause of your problems. However, talk or what’s called “supportive” therapy often does not help you change and meet your goal. Often, what is needed is to learn practical, concrete skills that will help you foster lasting change and healing. This can be achieved through treatment with a results-oriented therapist.

If you’re thinking about returning to therapy and want to create more effective change, here’s what to do:

Four things to keep in mind.

1st- Know That Returning to Therapy Takes Readiness and Commitment

If you have decided on returning to therapy, that’s a great sign that usually indicates you have some readiness and commitment to do what is needed to make changes. The most important first step is finding a therapist who aligns with your goals and who you feel comfortable working with. This can help you stay committed and focused.

Many clients prefer a results-oriented therapist who will work with them to make specific changes toward goals, rather than attending therapy indefinitely. The right therapist can help you identify and build upon your goals from the start and keep you motivated to do what is needed for lasting change.

returning to therapy, return to therapy again California online

2nd- Develop A Plan

While the idea of planning your therapy might seem strange, having a goal and a plan in place makes it much more likely you will succeed in making changes. Sometimes people attend therapy to just talk or vent, but to transform your life you need to work systematically to plan and implement change.

The therapist you choose to work with should develop a case formulation within your first few sessions. This formulation offers expert reflections and additional insight on your current situation. A skilled therapist will indicate a thorough understanding of your unique situation and collaborate with you to make sure this formulation is on target. By the third or fourth session, you and your therapist should have treatment goals and a treatment plan that will guide your future sessions, help you better understand what to expect out of therapy and ensure you both keep your eyes on the prize and moving toward your goals.

 3rd- Take What You Learn in Therapy Outside the Session

One benefit of therapy can be receiving support from your therapist and leaving sessions feeling relieved or empowered. Keep in mind, this is not enough. If you are working to make changes, then you must take the work done in therapy with you, outside of the session, and into your day-to-day actions. A therapist focused on getting you the results that you want will probably ask you to do “homework” or to practice new skills throughout the week. It is essential to follow the recommendations of your therapist and do your assigned practices so that you can reap the benefits of therapy and translate them into your daily life. Practice in between sessions is imperative to change. It also arms you with information about what happened when you tried these new skills, and you and your therapist can troubleshoot and hone the skills in your next session. Your practice and feedback are invaluable in helping you and your therapist stay on track with moving toward your goals.

Depending on your therapist’s style and theoretical orientation, they may be able to implement additional ways to help you achieve change. For example, therapists that have been trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) might ask you to complete weekly Diary Cards, so you can plan to try out and practice newly learned skills and then keep track of what happened and have a straightforward way of reporting this in your next session.

4th- Discuss Problems with Your Therapist

 Therapy does not always happen on a linear path without hiccups. At times, problems may arise. Whether you felt misunderstood by your therapist, your homework did not seem to hit the mark, or you are not making the changes you expected as quickly as you wanted, it is important to talk about this honestly with your therapist. This can be an excellent time for you and your therapist to revisit your identified goals, refine your treatment plan, and figure out any adjustments that need to be made. Although it might seem like a challenging conversation, talking with your therapist about what is not working may help you discover some factors that are holding you back or halting change, making this a valuable part of your treatment. Do not underestimate the value of the feedback you give to your therapist. Once your therapist knows your experience, thoughts, and feelings, he or she has the opportunity to respond effectively, make any necessary adjustments, and this ensures you can get the quality care you want and need.

With the right approach, you can make effective and lasting changes when returning to therapy, learning new and valuable skills that lead to a more rewarding and satisfying way of life.

Remember, life is too short to just survive, that’s why I help people thrive. I’m Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando, licensed psychologist. Thank you for reading and best wishes to you in making the lasting changes you want.

 


Feeling Over-“stuffed”: 4 of 4

How to Focus on What Matters During the Holidays (and Keep Yourself Feeling Merry).

Part 4 of 4 of the Holiday Stress Survival Guide

Overeating during the holidays is a shared experience. Everywhere you go seems to be ripe with opportunities to stuff yourself. Cookies, cakes, desserts, and rich meals abound. If you already struggle with overeating, this time of year can feel like a nightmare. Even if overeating is not typically a problem for you, many people gain weight during the holidays and pay with colds, flu and feeling sluggish, and tight clothes in the months following. Read on for some ideas on eating in a way that makes you feel proud of your behavior and connected to your body.

 

AM I HUNGRY?

During the holidays, our self-care behaviors can be on automatic pilot. There is a lot to pay attention to and noticing how we are feeling or what our body needs may not be on the top of the list or even make it on our radar.

 

It may seem obvious, but asking yourself the question, “Am I hungry?” can change your relationship with food and the choices you make about eating. Here’s how to practice: Take a breath (or three) and notice where in your body you feel your breath. Now ask yourself the question, “Am I hungry?” and notice what your body tells you. Put on a curious hat here and notice. Does your mind come up with words? Do you notice sensations in your body? What happens when you ask yourself if you are hungry?

 

Advanced: You can extend this practice and further ask yourself, “How do I know I am hungry (or full)? Where do I feel it in my body?” Try to notice and describe this to yourself.

 

Extra Credit: While eating, pause now and then to take a breath (or three) and ask yourself these questions again. What do you notice now?

 

Why this works: Taking a few breaths and moments to notice what your body is feeling in relation to food and nourishment can help you connect in, be aware of what your body needs or wants and give you some intention before eating. Eating is designed to be enjoyable, nourishing and deeply satisfying. It is a basic need we all share. Practicing connecting with your body in a nonjudgmental, curious way before and during a meal, can change what you eat, the quantity, or how you feel about it. Experiment and notice what happens!

 

Over eating Therapy, Califorinia Psychologist, online therapy

SELF-COMPASSION

I am trying to come up with one person I know who does not have judgments in relation to food. I can’t think of anyone. Our society breeds food and body judgments: good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, fat (bad) vs. thin (good), worthy (thin and fit) vs. unworthy (fat and unfit). We see people on TV commercials celebrating weight loss through packaged food that really doesn’t taste very satisfying. Probably 99% of actresses or actors do not exceed a certain weight limit. We are given the impression that if we just eat “right,” we should be able to look like these characters and the role our genetics play in body shape and size is minimized. We all, to varying degrees, develop a complex about food, size, and worth. Ironically, food is a basic need that must be satisfied to survive. How strange to be taught guilt, shame and judgment about fulfilling a survival need.

 

Most of these judgments are an intellectual and heady experience that has little to do with the body. While reading labels on food and trying to eat healthily are worthwhile pursuits, it leaves out understanding how the body feels and our ability to respond to the body’s needs. I have clients who thrive while eating mainly a plant-based diet and others whose bodies sing while eating animal products. Others feel great and lose inches and bloat on a high-fat eating plan. Some people have food allergies. Every body is different. Every body has its own, unique experience with food. So, doesn’t it make sense to ask how our body is feeling about eating and respond accordingly?

 

Rather than think about a “good” food to eat, practice asking your body what it needs. See what your body says and how it feels during and after eating. This is a much more compassionate and nurturing way to feed yourself. This process also gives you information. What does your body want and when? What happens when you give this food to your body? Do different quantities of this food affect how your body feels?

 

This approach urges you to develop a supportive relationship with your body, kind of like giving yourself the gift of good parenting. This is especially important if you did not receive nurturing parenting or your body has long been deprived of sweet, gentle compassion. When babies are fed, it is a soft, quiet experience, often followed by sleep. Preferably, soothing tones are spoken, and a gentle touch is given. Imagine feeding yourself in this way. Imagine letting go of judgments, giving your body what it wants to eat in the amount that feels right. Checking in and adjusting type or quantity of food as your body calls for it. What a different experience!

 

In addition to practicing asking yourself if you are hungry, try offering yourself some gentle compassion at your next meal. Maybe place a hand on top of your other hand, as a reminder to bring loving awareness to the experience. Perhaps nourish yourself with a deep breath or words of encouragement such as, “This can be hard. Let’s go slow and see how this feels.” Practice calling up the image of someone you love dearly and while you eat, treat yourself with the love and gentleness you would treat this person. Feed yourself compassion with every bite and see what happens to your relationship with food.

 

REMEMBER, CHANGE IS A PROCESS

My Zen teacher reminds me often, you cannot force change. All you can do is practice. Keep practicing, every day, until one day it becomes who you are.

Happy Holidays! Wishing you a gentle, loving, compassionate experience with yourself and the food you eat.

Please remember, life is too short just to survive. Use these practices to help you THRIVE!

 

Read the whole series

Feeling Over-”stuffed” Part 1: Holiday Stress

Feeling Over-”stuffed” Part 2: Navigating Relationships

Feeling Over-”stuffed” Part 3: Loneliness

Feeling Over-”stuffed” Part 4: Overeating

If you use any of the practices suggested, please feel free to share your experiences and send your comments to contact@drbando.com. While Dr. Bando will not answer personally, your comments and feedback help inform future posts.


© 2017 Amanda Gale Bando Phd · Designed and Developed by D-Kode Technology

Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando

Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando