Author: Rachel Rice

Book Recommendation: Mind to Matter, by Dawson Church

By far the best book I’ve read this year is Mind to Matter by Dawson Church. It satisfied both my left brain’s need for data and science and my right-brain’s appetite for intuitive expansion. It is well-organized, easy to read, and it explains scientifically how the process of manifestation occurs.

My friend Louisa lent me this book a couple of weeks ago because it contains information that is foundational to the research that we are working on together. It’s a very well written, easy to read compilation of research, stories, information, and chapter focused To Do’s.

After I started to read it, I thought that my daughter might be interested too so I read her some of the first chapter and she is also finding it fascinating, even integrating it as a source for an English paper she was writing. We are both looking forward to the next section.

I was able to immediately apply what I was learning to minimize symptoms from a disc herniation. As part of my journey through the best of Eastern and Western healing approaches, the approach helped me to feel well enough to put on sneakers and take a walk for the first time in months!

I also used it to minimize the symptoms I experienced during a bout of Covid. I felt the Covid freight train hitting my system on a Tuesday night at 2am.  In the middle of the night, I applied the information I was learning from the book along with some energy medicine and nutritional supplements. Though I tested positive for Covid on Wednesday morning, I was barely congested and didn’t develop any other symptoms.

The following week when I was talking with my sister, she shared that she would like to have Six Areas of Focus in her life, including a “stretch” focal area. She liked the idea of reading this book as the stretch. We agreed to read a chapter per month together.

I got so much out of the book that I sent a copy to each of my siblings, nieces and nephews.  If you find that you are drawn to explore it, I hope that you’ll share your thoughts with me about it.

Posted on Leave a comment on Book Recommendation: Mind to Matter, by Dawson Church

Phase 1 of Energy Medicine Covid Research Yields Results

Our research hypothesizes that energy medicine can reduce severity of Post-Acute Sequalae of Covid (aka “PASC” and “long-haul covid”). Phase 1 of the research focuses on identifying the most common energies that are out of balance for PASC individuals. Phase 2 will focus on quantitatively measuring the impact that energy exercises can have on the severity of those symptoms.

Energy Medicine is an umbrella term encompassing a range of therapies like acupuncture, tai chi, and Reiki that are felt to utilize healing “energy”. One modern variant, Eden Energy Medicine, has shown promise in the treatment of chronic symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, IBS, pain, brain fog, and lack of optimism. These symptoms are similar to those seen in cases of PASC.  

During Phase 1, five people with PASC (“participants”), who responded to or were referred through an advertisement in the town of Wayland, MA and through Five Rhythms newsletter, received an evaluation and balancing of their energies. From these sessions, we identified the energies that were most often out of balance.  

Each participant completed a symptom survey (on a 5 point scale) before their session and at the end of seven days. Changes in the severity of symptoms were measured. During the interim, each participant was given and asked to complete a customized daily energy exercise routine.

Summary of Phase 1 Results

  • The top 6 energies that were Out of Balance were Crossover, Triple Warmer Reactivity, Heart Valves, Brain Scramble, Yang Regulator, Meridians (mostly Kidney meridian). See Appendix 1 below for more details. 
  • Some symptom improvement: The majority of participants had some symptom improvement. The symptoms that saw the greatest improvement were fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating or focusing, memory problems, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and heart palpitations.

Participant Demographics

Of five participants, there were 4 women and 1 man.  All were between 34-65 years of age. One participant had an official PASC diagnosis; the others did not. One person was hospitalized and had received oxygen; the others were not hospitalized. Participants were between two to eighteen months out from first getting ill with COVID. 

Some Validation of Findings

Post Phase 1, Donna Eden, the founder of Eden Energy Medicine, offered a live video entitled Donna Eden on Long-Haul Covid. In studying this offering, we found that there were significant overlaps in the energies that she emphasized and the energies that we found to be out of balance. We feel that this supports the direction of efforts undertaken during Phase 1.

Next Steps

Our next step is to create a single video of exercises based on Phase 1 findings that can be distributed to a much larger group of participants who have PASC. The group will be asked to do the exercises in the video each day for a number of days and to complete a pre-survey prior to beginning the exercises. They will also be asked to complete post-surveys at intervals to be determined. We will also have a control group who will not get the video of exercises, but who will complete the symptom surveys.  We welcome referrals of participants for our Phase 2 research who have been clinically diagnosed with PASC and/or “long-haul covid” by a medical practitioner and who are between the ages of 20-75.

Research Team

  • Rachel Rice: Rachel is an Eden Energy Medicine Advanced Practitioner. She has run an energy medicine practice, Five Rhythms Consulting, for over 6 years and has worked with hundreds of clients. She has a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.A. in Finance and Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Contact Information:, 617-388-5079
  • Amber Beland: Amber is a Doctoral candidate in Leadership and Organizational Development Psychology at William James College in Newton, MA. She has worked as a research assistant for Bridging Distance in MA on projects including Digital Isolation and Loneliness in Remote Working and Cross-Cultural Technology Collaboration Use. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Ithaca College in NY and a Masters of Divinity from Harvard. Contact Information:, 603-560-6368

Appendix 1: Energies that were Out of Balance during Phase 1 for at least 3 participants

# of participantsOut of Balance (“OOB”) EnergiesDefinition
5CrossoverEnergies are running parallel in the body rather than crossing the midline. When OOB this can lead to  feelings of overwhelm, fatigue, or being stuck. When OOB, one may get more tired exercising or have a hard time healing.
5Triple Warmer ReactivityTriple Warmer is the energy that governs survival, our immune response and habits. When it is reactive, one can feel hypervigilent. This state of energy is often present when there are allergies or an over-reactive immune response.  Triple Warmer may pull from other energies, sometimes to our harm, in order to keep us alive. 
5Heart ValvesThe energy of the heart valves are ideally harmonized. When they are not, symptoms may be chest pressure, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and anxiety.
4Brain scrambleWhen OOB,  this may show up as trouble reading, writing, comprehending, retrieving information, and brain fog.
4Yang RegulatorThis is one of the energies which helps us feel emotionally, energetically and physically at ease.
4MeridiansPathways of light that bring fresh energy to our organs, muscles, and tissues. When OOB, we may feel fatigued, in pain, or symptomatic related to the organ of the meridian. 
3PolarityHelps us ground, feel stable, move forward and heal.
3Kidney 1Source of vitality and energy
3Kidney 27Helps us move forward in life
3Stomach 2Helps us feel grounded
3Hook-upConnects us to ourselves
3Ileocecal and Houston ValvesHelps digestion and elimination
3Yin RegulatorRegulates our inner sense of well-being
3MingmenSource of vitality and energy
3Chakras Helps bring fresh energy to organs
Posted on Tags , , , Leave a comment on Phase 1 of Energy Medicine Covid Research Yields Results

Solid Ground for Energy Medicine Research

I’ve always preferred a fact-based, data-oriented approach, so demonstrations of energy medicine that utilized muscle testing initially had me baffled. I was highly skeptical to begin with and had a hard time believing my eyes when I saw others demonstrating energy medicine. That’s because during a muscle test it looks and feels like the practitioner is pressing more strongly on the muscle. It’s hard to believe that a muscle might weaken just because you’re saying something false, or your hand is over one place or another on your body. The only thing that initially shifted my perspective about energy medicine was experiencing the benefits and alleviation of symptoms directly myself, immediately, and over the long term. Then, in my clinical practice, I started seeing others benefit, often within minutes of doing a single energy technique.

Now, after five years of practicing, I have a meta view of how and when energy medicine can make a difference. But it’s not enough. I’m challenged at times to convey to other data-oriented people the benefits of energy medicine, without having research to share. And, medical practitioners, the folks who are in the driver’s seat to make recommendations to their patients to try various modalities like acupuncture, physical therapy or medication, won’t give energy medicine a glance, without having data to rely on. This is tragic. 

We are missing out on an entire system

looking closely
We need to take an investigative look at the value of energy medicine.

So, I’ve launched a research project.  The research will investigate the extent to which Eden Energy Medicine can have an impact on lingering symptoms of COVID (known officially as “PASC: post-acute sequalae of Covid” or more commonly as “Long-Haul COVID”). Many of my non-COVID clients have responded well to energy medicine and have found relief from symptoms like fatigue and brain fog, which are also seen in PASC patients.  Now, we’ll get to see if the energy techniques can have a measurable impact in this specific sphere. 

The research will have two phases. The first phase is a Discovery Phase, during which I will track and balance the energies of several PASC study participants. Then, each participant will receive a personalized home care routine to do for 7 days based on their session with me. They will also complete pre- and post-surveys to track symptoms.  When Phase 1 is complete, we will develop a short video routine of energy techniques that can be used during the second phase.  The second phase is structured to provide quantitative results and it will have a control group and a trial group. The trial group will do the home care video for 14 days and complete pre- and post-surveys to track their symptoms.  The control group will continue to receive the same care that they had already been receiving. They will also complete pre- and post-surveys 14 days apart.

My research partner is Amber Beland, a doctoral candidate at William James College in the field of Leadership and Organizational Psychology. She has both knowledge of Eden Energy Medicine fundamentals and research experience, so she’s a perfect fit.  

Amber and I presented an overview of our research at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network’s Covid Clinic meeting on Tuesday and requested their partnership on our project. The meeting went very well. We received a warm welcome and the group was very receptive to the concept of the research. They think many Spaulding patients would be eager to participate and they offered to share our participant recruitment flyer electronically with all of the Spaulding locations. 

In addition to offering constructive input during the meeting and being generally supportive of the work, some of the Clinic practitioners offered to refer their patients to us to be included in the study. This is critically important, because in order for our research to be statistically valid, we need approximately 55 people to join the study.  

So… Phase 1 of the research, the Discovery phase, is underway. If all goes as planned, we will be wrapping up our research and analysis in the Spring of 2022. Stay tuned for updates!

If you know of anyone who is 25-65 years old, has lingering symptoms of COVID and they are at least 4 weeks beyond their COVID diagnosis, please have them contact us.

Thank you to Davide Guglielmo for use of this photo.

Posted on Tags , Leave a comment on Solid Ground for Energy Medicine Research

A Journey

When I started to learn energy medicine, my life changed. I began feeling less fatigued, less anxious, less overwhelmed. My asthma went away and so did my night sweats and my eye strain. The vague pain in my liver that had no medical diagnosis and a tightness on the left side of my head that had been ever-present for at least 5 years disappeared. I began to feel less emotionally reactive and less paranoid. I started sleeping better. My IBS went away. My sinuses cleared up and so did my adult acne.  I was no longer a sneezing mess around my in-law’s cats at the holidays.

Little by little, I felt lighter, more joyful and more balanced.  I started taking deeper breaths and felt for the first time in my life that I had some significant influence over my physical, mental and emotional well-being. If a part of my body was in pain, I was able to figure out which energy system was related and what I could do myself to make it feel better.  I stopped needing Advil, Tylenol, anti-depressants and allergy medicine. And recently, I’ve even started to eat eggs again…a food that had previously made me feel sluggish and tired was now giving me strength to make it through my day.

What I learned when I enrolled in Fundamentals years ago was an eye-opener for me. Now that I understand more about it and a bit about the science that supports it, energy is the lens through which I view the world. There is no going back. I can’t unsee that we we are made of energy and so is everything else. I can’t unsee the patterns that flow and how they get stuck and can be unblocked with a sweep or a hold of my hand.  The crazy thing… everyone can do this. Each one of us has the innate ability to shift our well-being that quickly. It’s just a new language. It’s easy to do and has no side effects. Will you join me on this journey?

Posted on Tags , , , , , Leave a comment on A Journey

Part III: Getting to the Root

(In this segment of our interview series, Tania Bandak, MD, a primary care physician at PersonalMDs in Chestnut Hill, turns the tables on Rachel Rice, President and Founder of Five Rhythms Consulting, and interviews her about how the Eden Method enables her to get to the root of the issues. Tania and Rachel have collaborated on increasing the wellbeing of over 50 mutual patient/clients in the past 4 years.)

Tania: Rachel, you recently told me about a client of yours who had excema on over 80% of her body. You said that the rash had been getting increasingly red and itchy for a year and then remarkably cleared up within days of the session. Can you tell us about what you did in the session that you think may have helped?

Rachel; Yes, this client (who has given me permission to share her story) first developed excema about a year ago. It started with patches on her arms and slowly progressed onto her torso and then legs until it was thick, red, itchy and keeping her up at night. Skin creams weren’t helping and the corticosteroid cream that had been recommended for the rash on her arms wasn’t practical for her whole body. Benadryl helped to reduce the intensity of the itch but did not clear the rash. Within 3 days of our energy session, the excema was 60% healed and by the end of 14 days it was 90% healed. It is now completely gone.

Tania: What did you do in the session to help?

Rachel: First I used muscle energy testing to track and balance her energy systems. This helped with the itching but didn’t make the rash disappear. Then, with the idea that something ingested or touching her skin on a regular basis might be causing the issue, we used muscle energy testing as a way to figure out if any of her body care products (like shampoo, toothpaste, soap, lotion) or any foods were impacting her. This testing process revealed that a handful of foods were impacting her strength.  When she removed the foods from her diet, the excema improved dramatically over the next three days. 

Tania: So, muscle testing is how you got to the root of the issue?

Rachel: Yes, muscle testing is a tool that I use to identify where energy is flowing well and where it is stuck in the body, as well as what energies are impacted by external factors. It is a way of communicating with the body about which energies need support. 

Tania:  Is muscle testing something anyone can learn? Because honestly, it looks pretty subjective: like you’re just pushing down with differing strength.

Rachel: I agree with you about how fake it looks. I felt the same way the first time I watched Donna Eden do it. I thought it must be fake, or that she must be pushing harder. But that’s not the case. And, yes, absolutely. I believe that everyone can learn to use their muscles to test their energy flow. In fact, when I’m working with a skeptical client, I teach them how to use their muscles to check their own energies so that I am out of the loop. I also teach it as part of sessions, during Introduction to Energy Medicine Classes and in my Level 1: Fundamentals class. It is very liberating and empowering to learn. My client with the excema has learned how to “test before she ingests” in order to avoid foods that will cause her excema to flair.

Tania:  How exactly does muscle testing work?

Rachel: In general, muscle testing works on the principle that muscles weaken when stressors are introduced within the testing loop. The stressor can be touching a part of the body that is sick, introducing a challenging thought, or bringing a substance that isn’t beneficial to the body into its field.  Muscle testing food and supplements works because everything has a vibration and vibrational signature. Our bodies are made of atoms. In fact, all matter is made of atoms, which have a charge. That charge is always moving at a frequency, which I’ll call its vibrational signature. Some signatures are easily metabolised by our bodies and make us strong. Others are more difficult for our bodies to metabolise and make us weaker. When we have difficulty metabolising a thought or substance, it can result in stress on the body which can show up as various symptoms like muscle weakness, headaches, bodyaches, rashes,  IBS, etc. Muscle testing uses this principle that things that are true for us or in sync with our vibrational signature will keep us strong or make us stronger and things that are not in sync with our vibrational signature will make us weaker in one way or another. 

Tania:  How do you use muscle testing in sessions?

Rachel: Muscle testing is my primary process for figuring out what is happening with the flow of energy through the nine energy systems of the body. It can also be used to figure out the impact that thoughts, beliefs, foods, supplements and medications have on the nine energy systems of the body. Once we figure out what is impacted, we work to balance the energies. This often helps people with symptoms, as it did with my client who had the bad case of excema.

Tania: Can people learn how to do muscle testing on themselves?

Rachel: Shall I show you?

Click here to see a video of Rachel showing Tania how to use muscle testing to track and balance her own energies.

Posted on Tags , , Leave a comment on Part III: Getting to the Root

Beneath the Surface

In our previous interview segment about beliefs, Dr. Tania Bandak shared that her patients typically feel better within a single session. This helps them realize that they do have within their bodies the ability to feel better which challenges their own beliefs and helps them shift into a healing mindset.  That said, I was curious about what made Tania seem more open to the energy work than has been my experience with many others in the medical field and if she was initially skeptical.

Rachel: Tania, were you initially skeptical? If so, what resolved your skepticism?

Tania:  I wouldn’t call it skeptical, because skepticism starts from a place of doubt–of assuming something isn’t true–which can be as limiting as assuming that something is true without examining it.   When I first heard about you, I would say I was curious. I was familiar with the notion that in Eastern Medicine the body is seen as an energy system, and I knew that other energy modalities such as acupuncture have been shown to be beneficial for the management of certain conditions, but I had never heard of Energy Medicine. 

Rachel: How did you make the leap to consider it a modality that you would recommend for your patients?

Tania:  I came to see you to understand your method, how that method was developed, and the science and philosophy behind it.  However, when you described muscle testing I was definitely skeptical about that!  

Rachel: What about that made you skeptical?

Tania: Even though we in traditional medicine accept that thoughts, feelings and actions are interrelated and impact physical health, it is a huge cognitive leap to consider thoughts as having a real-time physical effect on muscles.  I mean, don’t we conceptualize thoughts as existing in some cartoon conversation bubble hovering above our heads?  To consider that they have a footprint–or a thought-print–in our physical bodies is pretty revolutionary!

Rachel: So what resolved your skepticism about the muscle testing?

Tania: Well, you muscle tested me and I felt that when you tested a truth for me I was physically stronger, and when you tested a falsehood, I was weaker.   Initially I wondered whether your were pressing harder with the falsehood, but if this were true that would mean that you were intentionally manipulating the situation, which I did not believe you were doing.  We had already talked about your motivation to do this work, which I understood to be a genuine intention to help heal. 

Rachel: So my motivation was important?

Tania: Yes, understanding your motivation was key.  I asked you how you came to do this work, how you trained, and why you do it. I think that when we look for health practitioners, we focus on credentials and training, which is very important. What I think is equally important is the motivation of the practitioner. This isn’t something we usually examine, but is essential if we are to take the leap of faith necessary to trust them with our health–whether this person is a traditional physician or an alternative healing practitioner.  

Rachel: What else shifted your perspective?

Tania: Seeing how our patients have responded.    Not all of them have–but I think there is important information to be learned from the few who haven’t.  The vast majority have really responded to the work they’ve been doing with you, and the reproducibility of the effect of your process does suggest to me, at least, that the process is based on something “real.”  

Rachel: What do you mean by “real?”

Tania:  That’s a great question.  By “real” I mean something that addresses the root cause of the issue and helps people feel lighter when they leave. HOW DO YOU DO THIS??? 

Rachel: That is a question for another day.  ; )

Stay tuned… in our next segment, Tania turns the tables on Rachel and interviews her!

Posted on Leave a comment on Beneath the Surface

An Interview about Beliefs with Tania Bandak, MD

Dr. Tania Bandak and Five Rhythms have colloborated over the past 4 years with over 50 mutual patient/clients and we have seen remarkable shifts in outcomes for many. As a result of this metaview we are starting to recognize themes and patterns and are excited to share our observations with you.  This first interview is about how beliefs are inherent to healing. How is this happening? For whom is this working? How does energy medicine dovetail with traditional medicine? And, how does this expand our understanding of healing?


Rachel: Tania, in your experience, what are some of the treatment areas that have responded well to an Eden Method energy medicine session that weren’t as responsive to more traditional modalities. 

Tania: I’ve seen the most benefit in two main groups of people: 

Those who have conditions or symptoms which traditional medicine doesn’t have a cure for and those who aren’t responding to traditional treatments as I would expect them to.   

For example, even though we do have approaches that can help people with certain chronic or diffuse symptoms such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, irritable bowel symptoms, hot flashes, etc,  our treatments are sometimes not sufficient in adequately mananging their symptoms. And sometimes we do have treatments that should be working for people who’ve suffered injuries or illnesses, but even after their treatment is completed, they have ongoing symptoms.   

Rachel: What is the most powerful shift that you have seen in your patients after they have experienced the energy work. 

Tania: What I find so unique about the work you do is that within the course of a single session, your client frequently leaves feeling better–and seeing that they CAN feel better shows them that they have within themselves all they need to feel and be healthy.  This belief can be transformational in how they approach their self care.  

Rachel: How so?

Tania: So many people have been carrying their symptoms and sensations for such a long time that it’s become infused into their belief of who they are and how their bodies work.  It can become the lens through which any experience is interpreted. For example, someone suffering with chronic fatigue may shy away from participating in a new activity because they may believe “That’s something I can’t do.”  Or, if there is another reason their fatigue may be worse–a bad night’s sleep, a viral infection, etc, the worsening fatigue–albeit temporary–can be interpreted as reflecting the progression of their chronic illness. These are natural reactions and responses. But, the implications of these belief responses can sometimes unintentionally fuel their pain/discomfort.   

Rachel: So how have you seen the Eden Method influencing their belief responses?

Tania:  The fact that they frequently feel better by the end of a single session helps them to realize that they do have within their bodies, the ability to feel better.  This is incredibly powerful because it suggests that they/their bodies are not irrevocably broken or flawed.  And, experiencing that improvement in how they feel can challenge their belief about their bodies and gives them the opportunity to develop a belief system that is more aligned with their health and healing.  

Rachel: Are there tools that allopathic doctors have to approach this today?

Tania: Yes, there are. A lot of how we do this is through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which works towards uncoupling thoughts, feelings and behaviors from each other so there can be a more volitional approach to how we choose to think or act.  This is an absolutely fundamental tool, but no one tool works for all people. CBT is a process that can take time to notice an effect. 

Rachel: Were you initially skeptical? What resolved your skepticism? 

Stay tuned for Tania’s response in our next post. 😉

Posted on Tags , , , , , , Leave a comment on An Interview about Beliefs with Tania Bandak, MD

The Physical Feeling of Clearing Old Emotions

The physical feeling of clearing old emotions has a lightness to it. First there is the sensation of pipes draining, water flushing down the arms and fingers and off the legs and toes. Then, my client Sarah says, it’s as though some one has lifted a weighted blanket off of her chest and she can breath easier. There’s actually more space, she says, to breath. And, the tightness in her belly has released.  She hadn’t really been aware that she had been holding there. The skin on her temples has relaxed a bit too and her gaze is softer and brighter now.  She takes another deep, expansive, nourishing breath of air.

The fear is gone.

For the first time in a long time, she says that she can no longer tap into the feeling that she’s been a target. Someone at her old company had framed her to hide their own culpability. Although she had easily found a new job given the strength of her resume, experience and strong references, she couldn’t shake the feeling that if it had happened once, maybe it would happen again. Now, that fear is gone. In its place are positive affirmations connecting her to her stronger, wiser self, capable of seeing down dark alleys and identifying dangers from farther aware. She now feels aware, yet confident and poised.  It feels odd, she says, to not be able to tap into that same sense of vulnerability, but it just isn’t there. 

Energy balances.

Then, we make sure to strengthen her central meridian, the one that helps build our confidence, and boost her thymus energy which supports feelings of vitality. We work with her triple warmer energy, the one that governs fight or flight, and help it step down off of its hyper-vigilant perch to a more supportive and less reactive place. Since our work together she says that she feels less reactive emotionally at home and at work and much more able to have perspective and think before responding. 

Emotion = Energy in Motion.

Emotion is just energy in motion. When it gets stuck in our bodies we hold it like a weight. We hold it unconsciously so that maybe it will keep us safe the next time something similar happens. But instead, the next time something happens, we freeze, or fight or run away and we don’t get a chance to start fresh. By working with the energy and giving it a way to move in, around and out of the body, we are able to build new pathways for thinking and acting and actually re-pattern our body’s response to stressors. Learn how.

Posted on Leave a comment on The Physical Feeling of Clearing Old Emotions

Who Has the Time!?! Maybe You Do

Time spent with someone we enjoy flashes by. The time it takes to drill a tooth is an eternity. While time has a quantitative, external, and linear aspect to it – the seconds, minutes, hours on the clock that methodically march forward – it’s our internal relationship to what we’re experiencing that determines the quality and our sense of capacity. And there’s a persistent cultural narrative that there’s not enough of either. In fact, not having time is considered the new status symbol. If you’re not busy, you must not be in demand.

This demand, however, is often driven externally and we feel we have little to no control over it. In adopting this perspective, we surrender our choice and agency. While there is no doubt that modern life is busy and the distractions and pushes and pulls are significant, for those who add kids, it’s as if all bets are off. In exploring this with several clients, some questions emerged – what choice do we have about the nature of our busyness and our relationship to it? Is our busyness more amenable to change than the prevailing cultural narrative conveys? If we fully stepped into choice about our time, how would our lives change? Which theme below calls you?

People Pleasing

When we ‘people please,’ we say ‘yes’ to someone else’s desire with the false sense that we’re preserving our relationship. How many hours are you doing something to people please? What volunteer activities did you feel you couldn’t decline? Are you meeting with colleagues to only be supportive or to be a good work buddy? When we say ‘yes’ to too many things, we end up saying ‘no’ by default. If I spend two hours per week in meetings that are not the core part of my job because I feel I need to be ‘supportive’ and then I miss an evening at home with my family, is that the choice that I want to make? Maybe. There is no right answer. Only  that we reclaim control by being intentional with our commitments – our ‘yeses’. Once a clear, intentional ‘yes’, ‘nos’ flow more easily. 

People pleasing has many roots, and fear of damaging relationships is only one. A strategy to try is asking what saying ‘no’ will allow you to do, be, experience instead. What’s your ‘yes’? This shifts the focus away from the other person and back to you – which gets lost in people pleasing. There will be times when you decide to do something for someone else. When you can claim the choice, it changes how you experience the time you do share.

Boredom and Avoidance

A client I’ll call Rick had agreed to all sorts of additional work – and was hearing from his boss that he was not fulfilling his core job duties.  When we looked at the responsibilities in each category, he was interested in the extra work but not his core job. He had recently changed jobs and was feeling like he made a mistake, so he had not fully committed.  

Distractions come in all forms. And our uber-connected world is delighted to provide all the distractions we can ingest. Look no further than your phone. We don’t need to take on extra responsibility at work to feed our need for distraction. 

Rather than focusing on the distraction, ask why you feel the need for distraction. When you turn to a distraction, what is going on for you in that moment? I’ve started asking myself that each time I open LinkedIn – and it’s often not because I’m interested in networking. It’s avoidance of a task I don’t want to do or don’t know how to do. Sitting with my discomfort has increased my awareness and focus and shifted my relationship to the task I’m putting off. What’s your pattern? Where are you bored? What are you avoiding? 

Crisis Mode

Crisis mode is pervasive in some organizations. There are too many fires to extinguish, deliverables on tight timelines, and all with client impact. And in an industry where the client reigns, my coaching client Amanda feels like her only choice is 24/7 crisis mode — which is not conducive to effective management and long-term organizational health. To manage the constant fires, she puts off long-term planning, team development and developing organizational processes to curb the constant crisis. At the director level, her priority needs to be long-term strategic work.

Our first task was to shift from the limiting belief that there is ‘no time’ to ‘some time can be created.’ We identified changes that are most likely to yield results, broke them into manageable pieces and put time on her calendar for them.  Given the industry and client relationships, the shift out of crisis mode will take time. But she had to first accept the possibility and reclaim the parts of her calendar she could control. Her all or nothing belief allowed her days to be driven externally, eliminating any sense of control. 

Mental Distractions

Forget about all the external tugs on our time and attention. Sometimes it’s what’s inside that takes us down. Say hello to mental distractions. As I write this, work emails race through my head, the grocery list pops up, along with the nagging feeling that the kennel won’t take our dog during our vacation because I haven’t made the reservation. During the first moment of almost-stillness, it all comes to the surface in one great wave crowding out the immediate task. 

To calm your mental distractions, try practicing brief periods of mini-mindfulness.Throughout your day, take time to breath and experience the physical sensation of what you’re doing. Notice the water running over your hands and the scent of the soap. Feel your feet on the floor and your legs moving as you walk to the meeting. Notice your breath. Distraction is a habit, but so is focus.

Although our world feeds on our time and attention, I believe that we can have more control than we believe. None of these practices add time to your day. But they can help you reclaim choice – which is power. And it’s the power over your relationship to what you’re doing and why that brings internal peace.  Which, in my experience, slows down how I experience this current moment giving me more sense of capacity. And so less flies by outside of my consciousness and control. 

What resonates with you? Is there a place in your life that you’ve allowed to be driven externally by demands that don’t serve you? What can you do to reclaim that? How would life be better if you did? 

by Amy Rebecca Gay, Ph.D.

Posted on Leave a comment on Who Has the Time!?! Maybe You Do

What’s Your Yes?

By Amy Rebecca Gay, Ph.D.

What are all the people, values, and experiences in your life to which you say ‘yes’? Spending time with those you love? Self-care? Adventure? Being on time to your mother’s funeral? 

I actually didn’t pull that last one out of the blue. During last weeks’ vacation in Vermont I started talking with someone who told me he was late to his mother’s funeral because he was responding to a last-minute request from his boss. A request, no less, he felt his boss could handle without his input. This interesting detail emerged from a larger conversation about how hard it is to unplug – and how the inn’s spotty wi-fi connection was the perfect solution. (The kids had a different reaction!)

But this conversation got me thinking. If I were making a list right now of all my ‘yeses,’ being on time to remember and pay tribute to a loved one would be high on that list. I suspect it was for this gentleman, too. Otherwise, why would he have mentioned it? And yet, we often make choices day-in and day-out that quietly, even gently, erode our commitment to what we hold dear. To what we tell ourselves and others is what matters. 

Just to be clear: there is no judgement here. No judgement for this gentleman and how he happened to arrive late to his mother’s funeral. No judgement for myself over some choices I’ve recently made that might not be the truest reflection of my espoused values. No judgement for you. 

What I want to do is surface an all-too familiar dynamic and ask you, “What do you say ‘yes’ to?” And in order to protect that ‘yes,’ we need to say ‘no.’ How often do we fail to set healthy boundaries with a ‘no’ in order to protect our most important ‘yeses’? And do we support others to do the same so that we contribute to a community where we all live in alignment with our deeply held values? How would our lives change if we were clear about our ‘yeses’ and committed to holding boundaries to protect them with constructive ‘no’s’? How would the world be different if we committed to a culture that supported us all in learning and applying these skills without guilt or shame? 

So here is my ‘yes’ to you and me: I commit to identifying the most important ‘yeses’ in my life, protecting them with constructive ‘no’s’ and supporting you in doing the same. What do you say ‘yes’ to?

Posted on Leave a comment on What’s Your Yes?