Again, it takes time. Maybe you can pick one problem to start with. Once you are on top of it, it will make a difference in your life. Please forgive me; I know that I talk about my personal victory over the lost keys a lot, but I'm so impressed with what a big difference it made in my life! Not having to hunt for those keys three times a week. Just that one simple thing. Then there are the many tools you can learn to use, like the red flags, or the checking. Just don't try to tackle too much at once. Awareness of and learning to pay attention to all experience is an important factor of what is being taught in the Yoga program. Neuroimaging studies in both long-term meditators and participants in mindfulness groups have supported this impact of cultivating such attention to present-moment sensations, suspending the immediate judgment or narration about experience. These studies suggest that in response to emotional challenges, there is less reliance on cortical midline regions associated with narrative self-focus and dysphoric reactivity, in favor of a balance between such narration and sensory pathways (Farb et al., 2007; Farb, Anderson, & Segal, 2012). I hope this intermission has helped you relax and not feel overwhelmed. You may have noticed that the intermission used our principle: we identified the problem of too much at once, and made a strategy. Part of the strategy was to make a short list, the five things most useful to me. Another part of the strategy was small steps, try one or two things at a time. So you may be ready to do it now, do it right, and do the hard part first. Your life will get better. Overwhelmed, overloaded, pressured, rushed, stressed: we spend a lot of time like this. We can really get ourselves tied up in knots, and it can be pretty miserable. There are strategies to avoid these states, and strategies to get out of them if we haven't avoided them.

For example, Renee wanted to return to volunteering at her local Member of Parliament's office, but she was troubled by thoughts about how embarrassed she would feel if she could not meet others' expectations. When these thoughts came up, she got some relief by distracting herself with online games; this was helpful at first, but after a few hours she started to have even more unpleasant thoughts, like: "Why am I wasting my time like this? What's wrong with me?" These thoughts were so unpleasant that Renee worked even harder to distract herself, and did not get any closer to her goal. The strategies you will learn in this chapter offer ways of coping with difficult thoughts that help you break out of this cycle and get "unstuck" so you are able to move towards your values. Participants often respond with comments about preferences (what they liked or didn't like) or an assumption about causality (this happened because), even though the teacher may have asked specifically about the participant's experience itself. That is, participants default to analysis, rather than describing experience as the teacher is asking them to do. When a participant presents a lot of ideas or interpretations about what happened in the practice, the teacher can respond with a general comment--"Oh, so you noticed a lot of thoughts coming up," or "That's one idea"--then redirect her to this aspect of inquiry: what she noticed. One of the aims for a teacher is to highlight for participants how easy it is to move into narration and to encourage a return of attention to direct experience. What is also gently brought into the participants' awareness is how commonly they engage in negative self-evaluations or other evaluations and the effect of this on mood and behavior. For example, in answering a participant who says, "I'm a lousy meditator," the teacher replies, "It sounds like there are some judgmental thoughts. When you noticed this judgment, what emotions or body sensations were you aware of, if any?" In this way, the teacher is making the link between harsh evaluations against the self and mood. Donate blood to the Red Cross. Order an online blood type testing kit. Contact your doctor, who will have the information if you have had surgery or a pregnancy. Go directly to a direct access lab. You can order tests from most walk-in labs. There is a high likelihood your insurer will not pay for it, so make sure you find out the cost. Even if you are eating to your blood type, it is also very important to understand if your body has food intolerances or allergies. If you don't understand that, then you can be eating what seems to be right but still not feeling well. For example, I fortunately learned about my allergies to pesticides, nitrites, sulfides, preservatives, hormones, food dyes, and all genetically modified, engineered foods before I started eating for my blood type.

If I hadn't, the blood type diet would not have worked as well. Most people do not have the level of reaction I do to these substances. I absolutely need to be an avid label reader or I get sick--very sick. Incidentally, while I have severe allergies, I believe that there are more people who have adverse reactions to these substances than are acknowledged. That's one of the reasons that many nutritional experts recommend eating as clean as possible. But many of us have grown up allowing ourselves to mostly say and believe negative things about ourselves. Thinking otherwise would be seen as big headed' orshowing off'. Too often, you can think that you're not good enough and even when you do something well, you can tend to think more about mistakes you made than what you achieved. As well as undermining your confidence, negative self-talk can also knock your self-esteem, making you feel bad about yourself and your abilities. If you have low self-esteem, your thoughts and beliefs about yourself will often be negative. There are a number of reasons why you might think negatively about yourself and your abilities. It could be a change in your life which results in how you see and value yourself; the end of a relationship, illness and disability or being unemployed, for example, can all lower your self-esteem. Feeling `different' - finding it hard to relate to others, comparing yourself to others or being criticized, humiliated, bullied, discriminated against or left out by others - can also leave you feeling like you have little worth. If you are under a lot of stress and finding it hard to cope, or you have overly high standards and high expectations for yourself, this too can lead to negative thinking about yourself. Thoughts are how the brain makes meaning of all the information that comes in through the five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing). This sensory information is picked up by the nervous system and is transmitted to the brain by electrical and chemical signals. The brain learns to interpret these signals and create meaning from them, based on life experiences. Because everyone has an array of life experiences and will react differently to various things, their thoughts are unique. This idea is demonstrated by a traditional story: Imagine five people wearing blindfolds and trying to describe an elephant from their perspective. There would be many different interpretations based on what each person was able to sense and touch.

What this means is that participants learn to interrupt rumination or anxious thinking when needed in favor of shifting attention to body sensations, learning to observe and describe the actual moment rather than getting lost in their ideas or conclusions about it. This is referred to as a shift from narrative self-referencing (storytelling) to experiential self-referencing (moment-to-moment describing of experience). Finally, the first layer begins heightening the awareness of all experience for participants regardless of whether it is joyful, difficult, or neutral. While the above research can assist the teacher in understanding the value of bringing attention to the body when difficult states emerge, it is equally if not more important to recognize that in inquiry, we are concerned with the entirety of a participant's experience, which includes attention to thoughts, emotions, body sensations, behaviors, and impulses to act. Although attention to body sensations is an initial training, a teacher must recognize other aspects of sensation and experiences in his inquiry. A narrow and default focus on the body in inquiry, common in new Yoga teachers, is overly simplistic. What exactly does that mean? Clean eating means embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It means cutting back on refined grains, additives, preservatives, unhealthy fats, and large amounts of added sugar and salt. It means buying organic as much as possible and avoiding processed foods for which you need a chemistry degree to figure out what the label is saying. It is my belief that if you do this, then your immune system will not fight against you, because it will be at peace with what you are putting in your body. Again, I urge you to try this and see the results. I think you will be amazed. But even with clean eating, you need to be aware of personal food intolerances and allergies. A food intolerance is less severe than a food allergy. You may be able to eat problem foods without a reaction--in small quantities. By comparison, eating even a tiny amount of a food that you are allergic to can trigger a severe reaction. Whatever the reason, the result is often the same; a stream of negative thoughts that convince you that you can't do something and that you're no good. The problem with thinking you're no good, though, is that you behave as if it's true; low self-esteem can influence what you do or don't do in ways that confirm that you aren't able to do things or aren't very good. Feel bad about yourself because you believe you're not academic, for example, and you're unlikely to attempt anything that looks like formal study.

And because you don't attempt any academic, formal study, you never find out if, in fact, with the right teaching and support, you are actually capable. On the other hand, when your self-esteem is high, your thoughts and beliefs about yourself are positive; you feel good about your abilities and you're more likely to believe that you can do things and they will either turn out reasonably well or, if they don't, that you'll be able to cope. This time it's a helpful, positive dynamic where each positive aspect feeds into the other. Overloaded is when I feel like I have more than I can possibly get done. Overwhelmed is when I feel so overloaded that I just stop functioning; I can't decide where to start; I can't get started; I just kind of stall and collapse. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed seems like a basic part of life with ADD. It leads to procrastination, paralysis, and demoralization. If I'd been using my red card correctly I wouldn't have gotten the overwhelmed or overloaded feeling in the first place. But here I am. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed is a red flag telling me that I need to stop whatever I'm doing and get organized. I take out a yellow legal pad. I list all the things I really need to get done. This is my big list. I look at this big list and ask if there is anything on there that isn't actually that important; it wouldn't really matter if it doesn't get done or at least not anytime soon. Cross it off. So maybe I can shorten the list a little. Then I pick the most pressing five, the most important and most urgent. Since I have ADD this is difficult, but I pick five anyway and I write the five on a new list. This is my short list. Then I pick the most urgent, and if I can't choose one, then I pick the hardest.