Caring for your mind, body and relationships during Covid-19: A transcript of our wedding wellness webinar



With weddings and our Wedding Crashers events on pause, we launched a series of webinars with our vendors to give couples guidance during this uncertain time. Our second talk in the series focused on how to care for your mind, body and relationships during Covid-19.  Landis Bejar, LMHC,  founder of wedding therapy practice Aisle Talk; personality type expert and personal coach Doris Fullgrabe, founder of Your Love Profiles; Lilia Karimi, CEO and co-founder of wedding wellness platform Luv Collective; and Rachel Sito, studio manager of Orangetheory Fitness Brooklyn-Midwood all offered their expert advice, much of which applies to everyone affected by the pandemic, not just those in the midst of wedding planning. We learned new  ways to think about grief, how much physical exercise we should be getting in quarantine and how good it is for our mental health, what meditation can do for us right now, either alone or with a partner, and how learning and accepting your partner’s personality type can help your relationship. 

To see the webinar, which was moderated by Ashley Mikoletic Cheng of Wedding Crashers, you can watch it here; it includes a guided meditation so you’ll be able to practice one of the skills discussed. Below is the full transcript of our discussion.

Landis Bejar, Aisle Talk:

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I’m Landis Bejar. I’m a licensed mental health counselor, and I’m the founder of AisleTalk. We are a therapy and coaching practice specifically devoted to working with people who are coping with wedding stress, or need premarital counseling, leading up until that big life transition of getting married. So, naturally, during this time, we’re supporting a lot of our folks with dealing with this new normal and what it means to navigate having to postpone, cancel, or I think one of the biggest things is in that ambiguous place of not knowing what to do. So, that’s a big topic for us in our sessions lately and what we’re talking about with our clients and helping them cope with.

I wrote this article a couple weeks ago to kind of shed light on the emotional process of grieving in a time of postponement, cancellation, or maybe just uncertainty, and I wanted to just share a couple of the big takeaways from that article. They’re big concepts, so this is the couple-minute version, but I encourage you to check it out if you can, reach out to us if you feel like it’s hitting home for you and want to talk about it more.

But I think the biggest concept here is just letting brides and grooms and whoever’s listening know that, first of all, we don’t just grieve deaths and losses of life, grieving is a concept that can apply to any sort of big change in status of any kind or ending of some kind. So, we might grieve a relationship that changes or ends because of breakup or divorce, we might grieve when there’s an illness present because it changes the status, sort of, and the ability maybe of somebody we know and love, we might have estrangements or cancellations of some kind, but we need time to grieve.

So, when it comes to COVID-19, that’s happening everywhere, not just with weddings, but if you think about it, kids’ recitals, friends’ birthday parties, vacations we had planned, things like that. So, weddings are somewhere in between grieving loss of life and grieving a recital, birthday party or a vacation, right? They are not things that we’re planning every year or a couple times a year. For a lot of people, they might happen once, or at least in the scope that you’re planning, or in the way that you’re planning happen once, and a lot of times they’ve taken a year or more to plan. We take time, we take energy, we plan when they’re going to happen and why they’re going to happen at that specific time. Maybe it’s a certain time where certain people were going to be able to be there, or it matched your timeline for starting a family or moving or some big decisions. So, those are not decisions that were taken lightly on your part.

We go through a lot to create this experience to mark this milestone. It’s representing a big milestone. It’s a ceremony. It’s how we want to mark a transition of life and what many people might conceptualize as a rite of passage, right? So, this is not just a party we want to dance with our friends with, which is important in and of itself, but it’s marking something very big and may be happening once in a lifetime or a couple of times to mark something very important. And we’re planning this actively maybe for a year or so, but many of us have been planning passively for much longer than that. If you’ve ever kind of fantasized about what your wedding day might be, that might have taken place when you were little, or maybe it happened a couple years ago when you went to a friend’s wedding and said, “Oh, I want to do this,” or maybe you were like, “I don’t want to do this.”

So, we’ve been thinking about that for a long time. And when something like COVID happens… which is just a weird sentence to say… it really shatters all of those expectations, the active ones that we’ve been consciously thinking about for maybe a year and the passive ones that we didn’t even know we were thinking about. That’s the loss that we’re talking about. That’s the loss here that’s the change of status. We’re grieving the wedding as we anticipated it and as we were hoping it to be.

I think the next part is just kind of giving you an overview of, well, what does grief look like? Grief, I think many of us can picture sadness, that’s an obvious feeling that might come up, but maybe you’ve also heard of some of the other emotions that come along with grief. A big one is, the first one that usually hits us is shock or denial, right? And that denial is a healthy denial. It tells us, “I can’t process this all at once,” and it’s when you say like, “I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe we have to do this.” That’s the denial we’re talking about, and the shock.

We talk about bargaining, which is kind of like, “Oh, if we had only planned the wedding two months earlier, we would have had it, we would have been fine. If we’d only planned it six months later, we would have been fine, we would have been in the clear. If somebody would just tell me what to do right now, I could manage this a little bit better.” So, that’s what bargaining looks like when it comes to grief.

We have anger, we might be really angry, frustrated, we might be taking that out on the right people or the wrong people. We do have sadness, and then eventually we have acceptance. We’re not happy about anything but we’re accepting the new normal and what we have to do to kind of move on and not stay in this place.

So, what do we do? This is kind of the last step. We have to acknowledge that it’s normal to have these feelings. The more we get in a battle of, “Well, I don’t have it as bad as my neighbor who this is going through,” or “This is not somebody getting sick, this is just a wedding, this is just a party.” That stops our grieving process. That is a form of denying our feelings, invalidating our feelings, and when we invalidate our feelings, we don’t get to process them.

So, what we want, what your therapist would tell you is you have a right to feel this way. Maybe you don’t have a right to go up to your neighbor whose family members are sick and tell them all about how you’re sad about your wedding, but you have a right to feel it within yourself, to talk about it with somebody who cares about you, somebody who’s non judgmental, and someone who can be on the same page with you and make space for you. And most importantly, make space for yourself, right? Because sometimes it’s not other people telling us we don’t deserve to feel that way, it’s our own selves, right? “I can’t believe I’m sad about this. This is silly.” So, giving yourself space to feel that way is really important.

And then also acknowledging that it comes in many forms, right? So, if we’re just expecting to feel sad or we’re just expecting to feel frustrated, then when we feel angry about something, we’re confused by it, or we don’t acknowledge it for what it is, or something like that. So, really, really be expecting to have a range of emotions, to not necessarily handle them the best every time, but to really feel them and to really process them. And doing that might involve writing about them, might involve crying, might involve screaming into a pillow, might involve an Orangetheory class, and definitely is going to involve talking, talking to someone. And some people have really supportive people around them who totally get it and are non-judgmental, and other people need either additional people to talk to or somebody who can be in their lives and not judge them. And that’s where we’ve stepped in for our clients and that’s where we want to be for you if you find yourself not having a really supportive place.

So, that’s kind of the long and short of it on my end and kind of going through that process. It’s not a five to 10 minute experience, it takes a long time and there’s no right amount of time. So, if you’re feeling like you’re in that place or you might be in that place, we’re here for you and these are some ways that you can be kind to yourself in the process.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

In addition to this, wherever the couple or individual may be within the grieving process and just in the wake of all this, do you have some general self-care tips that they can take away?

Landis Bejar, Aisle Talk:

Yeah. So, I think that when it comes to self care, we want to think of self care across many different spectrums and many different categories. So, a lot of us think of self care as just some physical stuff that’s usually the most common way that we talk about self care, it might be working out, or eating healthy, or getting your nails done, or something like that. So, first of all, a lot of those things are either limited lately or are coming in different forms, right? So, our workout class is now virtual, we have to do our own manicures, things like that, we have to make our own green smoothies, things like that. But again, those are the physical forms of self care.

So, we also want to think about self care in terms of our social relationships, how we’re connecting with people who love us and we love and feel comfortable comforted by, so setting up time to connect with people. We want to think of mental ways of self care, right? So, therapy, journaling, things like that. We think of spiritual self care, maybe meditation or connecting with some sort of religious community that lifts you up. So, we want to think of self care in these different ways. We might listen to music, we might be listening to a podcast, we might just take some time to listen to a show, things like that. That happens on an individual level, and this is both an individual process and something you’re going through with your partner.

I think that when it comes to partnership and coping with your partner, a big thing is keeping lines of communication open, right? So, a lot of times in partnerships, we sort of might go through a series of thoughts in our head that we’re not actually saying out loud, so being aware of that process and trying to articulate those things out loud as much as possible is really important to being on the same page. And if things like what we’re talking about here are resonating with you and are new information for you that you want to share with your partner, making sure they’re hearing these concepts as well so they can say, “Oh, that’s why we’ve been so angry. That’s why we’ve been so testy with each other.” It normalizes that and then you guys have a way to connect about it.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

I think that’s a great segue into Doris and what she’s going to bring into the talk here, just speaking on how couples relate to each other. She’s going to speak to us about personality types. So, I’ll let you introduce yourself, and maybe you can include a little bit about your personality type and how you use that as the basis of your approach into coaching during this time.

Doris Fullgrabe, your love profiles:

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My pleasure. Thank you for having me. My name is Doris Fullgrabe. I’m originally from Germany. My husband is from Spain. We’ve been in the states together since 2007, in Texas, and now in New York, we’re based in Brooklyn. I am certified to facilitate a variety of personality type models and I’ve done that for over a decade in leadership development and cross-cultural training. I’ve worked with expat couples before, so talk about a transition, right? And now I’m bringing that work to couples. So, I’ve taken a little bit of a hiatus for a couple of years, so when I don’t talk type, I actually teach calligraphy and lettering. I have a few classes on Skillshare as well. And knowing what my type preferences are and knowing that I am approaching the midlife season of my life, that is actually the creative expression, that’s actually a part of the type development.

I’m on record for saying that type knowledge saved my marriage, and my husband and I are very different, not just culturally, but also from a type perspective. And having a non-judgmental language and understanding that he is not trying to make my life miserable on purpose, it’s literally just the way his brain is wired has been very helpful for us. So yeah, those are the kinds of insights that I’m sharing with couples and with my clients now.

What else can I tell you? Actually, for those of you who want to go visit my Instagram account, it’s @yourloveprofiles. The last post gives you an example of a love profile that I’ve done with clients before and the process how we arrive at that profile, at that PDF that people can take home, as we have individual verification sessions, where I speak with each partner individually for about an hour, hour and a half, to arrive at what your type preferences are. And this is the four letter shorthand code that you might be familiar with from some questionnaire that you’ve taken online, but we’re actually going about it in a little more scientific way and research based way. And then once we have both partner’s type preferences, we have a session together as a couple and we discuss what’s going on in the relationship and I provide the clients with information, how type comes to bear, maybe, on some of the issues.

So, this is not therapy. This would be an addition, I feel like it’s very helpful information, it’s quite practical also because you really walk away with, “Well, this is how I like to process information, which means this is how I like to communicate.” And obviously, we tend to go through the world assuming everybody thinks like us and does things like us, because why wouldn’t they? Right? We’re doing it that way, so obviously, that’s the best way so everybody should be doing it our way. And then when they don’t and when we bump up against these things, it’s like, “Hang on a second. Okay, so maybe I need to modulate my behavior.” And then that’s what the profiles do, they give you a strategy to say, “Well, if you are this way but your partner’s that way, then here’s how to bridge the gap,” so to speak.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

Great. And can you speak on the personality types a little bit more for those that are tuning in that are not familiar. Is there an overview you can offer? I know there are many types.

Doris Fullgrabe, Your love profiles:

Yes, absolutely. So, for some people, this four letter thing is a bit of an alphabet soup, and another thing that I’ve prepared that also you can follow along, I’ve left it in the story highlights on the yourloveprofiles page, and what I thought might be helpful right now is what stresses us? How do we respond to the stress and how can we get out of the stress? And there are 16 different personality types. I’ve grouped them into four interaction styles. If you want to read along, because this is going to be a lot of information, I encourage you to check that out on Instagram, and if you do know what your type preferences are.

So, the first group of four we’re going to talk about is for ESTJ, ENTJ, ENFJ, and ESTP. The interaction style is known as in charge. So, people with these personality type preferences are usually confident, capable, and are driven to accomplish results. So, those are the kinds of people who love to get stuff done. And what stresses them then is when they have a feeling of not accomplishing anything, and I think a lot of us, that resonates. So, when nothing gets done, that’s kind of stressful. And then when we feel stressed, we tend to fight and then facilitate. So, we might get bossy, we might get angry, we might jump at the people, and then if the stress is prolonged, we might actually check out and just be generally resentful.

So, if you have these preferences or if you know somebody who kind of behaves like this, what you can do to help yourself and help them is confronting the issue, talking about it, thinking about it, journaling about it, and maybe if you’re trying to help somebody, understand the underlying motivations, assessing what actually does get done, because a lot of the times I feel like we don’t give ourselves enough credit. So, that’s something that helps me because I happen to be in this group. I like to make a list of things that I’ve already done just so that I can check them off my list and that gives me a sense of accomplishment, right? And then once I write all the things down, it’s like, “Oh, you know what, I did get a lot done. And yes, brushing my teeth does count,” that kind of thing.

The second group of people is the interaction style that is called get things going. And this is for people with ESFJ, ENTP, ENFP, and ESFP preferences, and these are the kinds of people that are usually gregarious, they like to be involved, they like to move things along. So, these are probably, with the other extroverts together, the people that kind of miss the social interaction the most and they get stressed when they feel left out. They get stressed when they feel that they’re not liked. And obviously, there is a lot of opportunity for the feeling of being left out right now because I think we’ve seen that as great as the video interaction is, it doesn’t really account for personal interaction.

So, when they are stressed, they tend to flurry and then focus. So, they might feel scattered, they might feel panicky, they might get overly expressive before, then going flipping into selectively avoiding. And that’s how you know somebody with get things going preferences is stressed, if they are not trying to engage with anyone. And so you can help yourself or them by finding distractions. These are the kinds of people who love puzzles. Listen as they talk through things. Be an ear like, like Landis said. Make appointments, make video calls, phone calls, and also express your own ideas and share your experience with them.

And then we have people with behind the scenes preferences, getting into the introverts now, people with introversion. So, behind the scenes would be ISFJ, INTP, INFP, and ISFP. People of these preferences are usually very open, they have an open energy, and they love integrating different pieces of information. So, these are the kinds of people who are probably glued to the TV or wherever they get their news from just to know everything about everything. They like all the information, and then they integrate it in their own minds and they form models. And they’re the ones that you can ask them anything and they will have an answer for it and it’ll be scientifically based because it’s like a concept or a theory that they’re familiar with. So, they get stressed when there’s not enough input or when they are pressured to make a decision too quickly.

When stressed, they tend to freeze and then flow. So, they might become outwardly quiet, but inwardly, they’re churning. They might seem agreeable but it doesn’t mean that they actually agree. They’re just not engaging. And then you can help yourself or people of these preferences by finding a way to being helpful to others. So, this is where you setting up a clothing drive, or a food drive, or just donating can be helpful so that they have a sense of purpose and contribution. You want to be friendly, you want to be patient, you want to try and give them time to think through their thoughts because they think before they speak, so you don’t want to interrupt them. So, this is going to be a conversation that probably has a lot of long silences in it. Sit with that, try and be comfortable with that.

And last but not least, people with chart the course preferences. These are ISTJ, INTJ, INFJ, and ISTP. People with these preferences are usually focused and planful and driven to see progress, and guess what? They love to anticipate things, so they are stressed when they don’t know what’s going to happen. And right now is really, really difficult for them and really, really stressful because nobody knows what’s going to happen, and that’s just very frustrating. And it’s also frustrating for them when there is no concrete plan of action. You don’t even have to follow the plan, but it would be nice to have a plan, right?

When stressed, people with these preferences tend to flee and then face. So, they’re the first ones that will withdraw, not answer your phone calls, shut down, and then eventually they might be flipping into insistent involvement, and then they overdo it, they get really stubborn and say, “Oh, but this is what we should be doing because this is the vision that I have. That’s where we’re going to go, so let’s take care of that.” So, you can help yourself and others who have these preferences by taking time away, processing what you already know, planning for what you can plan, remaining calm, being direct and honest, straightforward in your communication, and as much as possible, letting them know what to expect.

I think, to an extent, it’s helpful for all of us, and to an extent, we’re at a place where the collective is grieving, like Landis said, the collective is stressed right now, so you probably might have found yourself in all of these items a little bit, and I hope those strategies were helpful.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, just sitting here listening, we’re all nodding our heads. To some degree, it’s relatable to all of our lives. I think it’s just whether we accept that or not, but if we do and want to move forward in finding our types, it’s a way for us to know our better selves. And just to remind those that are tuning in, they can find out more about love profiles with you on your Instagram page, correct?

Doris Fullgrabe, your love profiles:

Yeah. Yes. And I will also invite people, because I know that funds are limited right now,  I’m happy to offer, if you go to, you can book free office hours with me and just have like a 20-minute session where we just chat and then I can help people individually with what they might need and figure out what the situation is.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

All right. That was great. I do want to move on to Rachel, and touch upon the physical aspect of wellness. Rachel, I’ll let you introduce yourself and Orangetheory Fitness, and then if you want to maybe start off with running through some physical and mental benefits with the workouts.

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Rachel Sito, Orangetheory Fitness Brooklyn-Midwood:

Yeah, absolutely. So, my name is Rachel. I am a coach and studio manager over in Brooklyn. Our studio is located in the Midwood, Gravesend area. So, I’ve been a coach for about almost seven years now. I’ve been in fitness for a while, and for me, it first started as a way to get my mental health in order, so this was always something that was very near and dear to me.

So, what Orangetheory is, is it’s all one hour classes. They’re high intensity interval training. And it’s funny when I talk to a lot of our members, a lot of them say that this is what keeps them sane. They walk in the door and they’re like, “You have no idea the day I’ve had, and this is what I need before I go home.” They’ve had a really, really tough day at work, they come in here and they leave happy and they can go home happy, so they’re not stressed out. And this is such a good benefit for mental health, because when you’re working out, your body is physically releasing endorphins and hormones that stimulate that part of your brain where you’re feeling happier, where you’re feeling less stressed, and that’s a huge aspect of this.

So, right now, while we’re closed, I’ve still been in communication with our members every single day, whether it’s through email, I text them, they call me, we’re on Instagram, we’re on Zoom. We do virtual workouts every single day at all different times of the day. So, we accommodate people’s schedules, we’ve got all different coaches from all over from our franchise. So, it’s a really, really good way to keep people motivated and keep people interactive.

On social media, we do a lot of work to try and hold people accountable. So, we’re setting up calendars, “Hey, make sure you post every day what you did, whether you just went for a walk outside, if you didn’t a run. Did you hit your daily water intake? Did you do a workout? Did you hit your step goal?” Just things like that because we know that this is a very stressful time on a ton of people. Especially when you’re so used to being out in the community and you are working with people, you’re working with kids or whatever it may be and now all of a sudden you are stuck at home, that breaks a lot of people.

So, from what I’m hearing, is that a lot of people are stressed. A lot of people are not motivated to work out, a lot of people are stress eating, which, guilty as charged, the other day… let’s be completely honest. I’m a human. I have mac and cheese for breakfast, okay? These things happen, and it’s okay. It’s okay to once in a while indulge on those things because we get it, that is a comfort, but we also need to make sure that we’re bringing it back into check and realize that this isn’t the start of a downward spiral. Because if you’ve been consistently working out and all of a sudden you stop, your body reacts to that. Your body will start recognizing different types of stress levels because you’re taking it out of a routine. As people, typically, we need routines, and that’s what keeps us on track. So, it’s really difficult physically and mentally when we’re not doing that anymore.

And so, being involved with our members is really super important to me just to make sure that they’re staying accountable, and even if it’s just going for a walk, getting some fresh air, it honestly makes such a big difference in your mentality, in your mood, and how you’re reacting to people around you. Because let’s be real, when you are used to seeing somebody just in the morning and at night and now you’re seeing them all day long, that’s a really big difference and that completely changes the relationship dynamic.

So, even when our studio was currently open, we had so many people come in with their husbands and wives or fiance’s, they’re shedding for the wedding, they’re trying to lose that weight, just trying to make sure that physically, they look their best, they feel their best, because you’re in love, you want to get married, you want to do all these things, you want to also physically be putting that out there, that energy of how you’re feeling on the inside, you want to reflect on the outside. So, we have tons of couples that come in and super great. They get competitive, they’re really fun with it. We’ve actually seen… we always have reservation cards, which is basically everybody gets a station number.

We had a couple come in, I was like, “All right, here I got these two together.” They went, “Hm, can you put us in the opposite room today?” They wanted to be on opposite sides. Why? They came in and they said “Hey, listen, we’re not having a good day together but we both know we need this as our stress relief, but I don’t want to be next to him because he pissed me off today.” So, the fact that they can still come in together and get that and walk out holding hands, that’s a really, really great thing. So, for me, it’s really, really big about having that engagement and having that communication and just taking that time for yourself to get yourself in check.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

I think that last story that you shared, I mean, just imagine if that’s what they’re experiencing on a normal day to day where they’re going to the office and now they’re in a room 24/7, well, maybe not 24/7, but I mean, they’re spending much of the day together, what that is on each other. And so maybe you can speak to us about tht. I know you mentioned briefly about the virtual workouts, just touch on that again, and how they can continue to maybe do this to have that time where they’re focusing on themselves and their workout and then they can come back together and have that positive attitude towards each other and just have a little bit of a break.

Rachel Sito, Orangetheory Fitness Brooklyn-Midwood:

Yeah, absolutely. So, what we’ve been doing is every single day we have Zoom calls. So, Orangetheory has released these at home workouts. I wish I wasn’t on the computer, I would take you to show you what the inside of our studio looks like. We have a bunch of different stations. We have cardio and strength training throughout every single class. So, although we don’t have some of that equipment like treadmills and rollers and things like that, we’ve been throwing those into our still at home workouts, so you’re still getting that type of cardio aspect.

So, it’s been a challenge a lot of people have struggled with finding the motivation to get on those workouts, because originally, corporate just released those and was like, “Hey, here everybody, stay active. This is our time to give back to you from everything that you’ve given us.” So, it’s completely free. It’s not even open to just our members, it’s open to everybody. So, if you have never tried an Orangetheory class, this is a good way to kind of get an idea of what we’re like and what we’re doing. Obviously, it’d be different in the studio, but it’s a really good representation, I think.

People have been getting really creative, because obviously, not everybody has weights. So, people have been messaging me all the time, “Hey, I don’t have weights at home,” or, “What alternatives can I use?” We’ve gotten real creative. We’ve seen people with two wine bottles. So, it’s a really fun way.

And being on the Zoom call as opposed to just doing the workout yourself, you have a coach there, you have them to talk to you to really look at you and make sure that you’re doing something right, and it’s also a really big sense of accountability for yourself to be like, “All right, well, I could slack off and just turn my camera off, but they’ll say, ‘mm-mm (negative). I need to make sure that you’re doing this, that you’re doing this safely.'” That’s also a really big thing, it’s why we like to have coaches on this for that safety aspect. But being able to still do that at home and work through that is really, really super important just to kind of get yourself in that flow still, and even if you’re new to working out, then there’s no better time to try. You have all the time in the world right now to kind of get moving and try and start that routine.

So, if any of you guys are interested, @otfbrooklynmidwood is our Instagram, and we’re constantly doing live takeovers, we’re posting our own workouts. So, sometimes I don’t do the Orangetheory workouts, I’ll do my own, because they’ll have us do burpees. I live on the third floor. I cannot be jumping, my neighbors will hate me. So, giving some kind of alternatives and things like that because these are all workouts that can be done whether you’re a beginner or you are advanced. So, it can be modified to fit you exactly. So, that’s really where we want to be, is where we kind of start and get into that routine again, just a way to stay motivated, and honestly, it puts you in such a better mood, and doing it with your significant other at home, super fun.

We’ve seen videos of couples and they’re kind of pushing each other out of the way, and they’re being fun and goofy and taking it seriously, but also having fun with it, and it’s a good little 45 minutes of your day just to kind of spend with your person and doing something fun out of the normal, out of the, “Let’s incessantly clean the closet again,” type of thing. So, it really gets you out of that routine of whatever people are doing right now.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

I think that’s a nice way to segue into speaking with Lilia here about what couples can also do to focus on their mental health. Lilia from Luv Collective is going to talk to us about meditation, and you can guide us through a five minute session towards the end. Lilia, I’ll let you take it from here and introduce yourself.

Lilia Karimi, luv collective:

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Well, thank you. So, my name is Lilia, and I am the co-founder of the Luv Collective. And this whole event is everything that we represent and stand for, so thank you for putting it on because wedding wellness is all about Luv Collective.

We’re a platform to find and book wellness experiences for the wedding journey, so for bachelorette, bridal shower, wedding, and we offer a lot of different experiences within that wellness category, like mind, body spirit, so kind of what we’re touching on today. But it could be like a yoga class for bachelorette, and astrology session, sound bath, meditation, couples conscious vow writing. So, we do the whole gamut of wellness for the experience, and we have practitioners we work with in different states that are trusted and vetted and amazing.

So, there’s so many forms of wellness I just want to touch on, and meditation is one of them. I personally have gotten really into a meditation practice. It’s really worked for me, but before I even go into that, I just want to mention that there’s so many forms of meditation. For someone, cooking can be a meditation, or your running could be a meditation, so anything that really puts you into a state of presence is a meditation for you. And a lot of times people might think like, “Oh, why do I even need to meditate?” And there’s this term that I like, which is called rehash and rehearse, and we’re kind of always in the state of rehashing what happened in the past, replaying memories, or replaying a conversation like, “Oh my gosh, what did I say? Did this happen? Blah, blah, blah.” Or we’re rehearsing for the future, especially if you’re thinking about out your wedding.

I remember I had so much anxiety leading up to the wedding, “What is it going to be like to have everyone there, all eyes on me? Just that energy. And so we’re not often in the present, which is so ironic where I was in the past or the future, and when we think about that in terms of our wedding planning… I mean, in that phrase, there’s so much planning, exhausting, and there’s also a short period. I think the engagement period is such a sweet time for couples and something that should be savored. So, I think just taking that time for presence, and even on the wedding day, starting out with a meditation can be so helpful or a yoga class, whatever kind of works for you to get you in that state of being grounded can be so amazing to start the day, and so that way, you don’t feel like, oh, it just flew by. You had that moment of intention to ground and have that anchor.

And then in types of meditation, there’s so many. So, there’s breath meditations, visualizations. There’s Buddhist meditations, zen meditation, Vipassana, those are the retreats where people go and there’s no talking, or it’s more just sitting upright. There’s also yoga meditations. I also teach in practice yoga, and yoga has its own styles and meditations and breath techniques different from what you might see on Headspace, and there’s a lot of different also free ways to try meditation right now. So, if this is something new to you, you can start with five minutes. You don’t have to do a 30 minute session, it could just be a couple minutes, which we’ll do in a few minutes here. So, start easy with yourself because something they say in meditation is, our mind is like a puppy dog. We’re just thinking about a million things, and so you’re training the mind is what you’re doing.

So, we’re going to start doing our own meditation, so I want everyone to just sit comfortably, try and sit nice and tall. And this will be just a breath focus meditation with a little intention setting. If you’re at home, you can sit cross legged. We’re in chairs, so I’m sitting in my chair. We’re going to bring the shoulders all the way up towards the ears, and then drop the shoulders down, and do that one more time. Bring the shoulders all the way up, exhale, release and take the shoulders down, and take some circles with the neck. So, I really like to start with a little bit of movement before meditating so that way you kind of get out any little shrugs or if you’re a little antsy and you want to move, and then rock the head in other direction here, getting into all those creases and cracks, just noticing how the neck is feeling. And then come back up to the center.

If it feels safe for you, you can close your eyes and let the hands be just gently resting on your lap. And take a full deep breath in through the nose, then exhale, release out the mouth. One more like that. Fill up all the way through the nose, exhale, sigh and release. Then let the breath find its natural rhythm, you’re breathing in and out of the nose. Just notice what the natural rhythm of your breath feels like. If you feel like the quality of your breath is… is the breath long? Are you breathing a little faster right now? Just take in all the sensations of the breath from the moment it enters the nostrils, through the spine as it lowers down, through the body into the belly. And as you inhale, lift the spine, so it’s as if every inhale helps you sit up taller, feel energized, and let every exhale just ground you. You can maybe feel the feet touching the ground, or your hands on your lap, feeling that connection to yourself and to the earth.

Just continue to breathe in and out of the nose. So, when we take a moment to pause that we can notice how we really feel, we can take a moment to tune into any sensations. Everything is connected, our mind, our body. Just ask yourself how the body is feeling. Do you feel energized or tender, sore. Bring your awareness back into the breath. Continue to breathe in and out of the nose. Observe the temperature of the breath as it moves in the nose and then as you exhale. And as any thoughts come into your mind, which most likely they will, you can just acknowledge them and let them pass on by. So, we’re not ignoring our thoughts in meditation, but rather we’re just bringing more of our focus into the present moment. Continue to watch the rise and fall of the breath. Notice how the breath fills the belly. Notice if there’s anything you can let go of this morning or this afternoon, wherever you are, just feeling a sense of release being in the present.

You can observe any sounds that you hear. Maybe See if you can take in about three to five sounds that are near you. It can be the sound of the streets, it could be the sound of your fridge making noise, if it’s like mine, it could be whatever’s around you, see what you hear. Once you’ve identified those, try and bring the awareness back into your breath. We’re choosing to be back with the breath as our anchor. Letting that inhale lengthen the spine and our exhale ground us into the earth. You’re welcome to choose a word or an intention for the day, and that can just be a word that resonates with you or something you want to call in. It can be overall just having more presence, joy, love, the confidence, just feeling relaxed. And once you choose that word, repeat it to yourself silently a few times over, or if you’re at home alone, you can always just say it out loud. Really embody that word.

Bring the awareness back into the breath. Notice that the breath has evolved throughout this time, maybe you’re taking in more oxygen as you’re breathing in or the exhales have become longer. Just three more breaths here. Gently start to sense a movement to your fingers and your toes and start to blink the eyes open a couple times, and you can come back into the space. Maybe it feels good to twist a little side to side, or shake the arms, take the circles with the neck, any kind of movement to release and come back.

All right. So, that was just a short guided meditation, and there’s so many resources to find these online. With Luv Collective… I forget to mention this, but we’re also launching a virtual platform where you can try a lot of these meditations and practices for free coming up, so you can always find that on our link, but there’s also so many resources. So, if anyone has any questions or wants links to good apps that are free, just can always reach out and let me know.

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, Wedding Crashers:

Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. I think we’re going to hand it over to Nicole just for some Q&A’s. And at this time, if any of the attendees have questions for us, please send those in the Q&A box and we will get to as many as we can.

Nicole Davis, Wedding Crashers:

Great. I’m also going to launch a poll, and panelists, we can also participate in the poll. I may have phrased things differently had I listened to you all first, but anyway, this is the first one, this is just a wellness check in. And if you have any questions, you can ask them.

I’m going to just go sort of backwards, starting with you Lilia, and go backwards in order of who we heard from landing with Landis at the end. So, Lilia, I was just curious, should a couple consider meditating together, and if so, what are the benefits?

Lilia Karimi, Luv Collective:

I had to figure out that myself. I definitely think it’s something that couples should consider, and I think there’s so many benefits of just having that sort of connection, especially if you’re going through a stressful time, or planning a wedding, or just want to bring that connection into the relationship. It’s a form of a spiritual practice or just grounding. For example, I personally am pretty agnostic and secular, so I feel like for me and my husband, when we meditate together, it’s really strong connection of that spirituality that you might get in a church, for example, but it’s something else. We also went on a meditation, or we’ve been on a few, but we went on one last summer, a meditation retreat, and I was there with my husband, there was also a few other couples in the group, and I think you just leave with such a strong sense of appreciation for life together just because that’s what meditation helps you do, is just not take things too seriously and just be in the moment, know the moments going to pass and how to just be still with it, I think is really cool.

Nicole Davis, wedding crashers:

Do you typically… will you lead it for him and he will lead it for you? Is that how you guys do it together?

Lilia Karimi, luv collective:

No, if it’s us together, we have a couple teachers we like online that will listen to, or we’ll just set a timer and meditate. But the timer can be really hard if that’s new for you, so I wouldn’t recommend that for beginners, per se.

Nicole Davis, wedding crashers:

Okay, got it. All right, excellent. Rachel, I am wondering, how much time a day should we be devoting to exercise now given how little movement we have in our days; we’re not commuting, we’re not biking or walking to work. Should we basically be exercising even more now, because if so, I’m in trouble!

Rachel Sito, orangetheory fitness Brooklyn-midwood:

I wouldn’t say you necessarily have to exercise more. If you were on a regular routine where you were used to go into the gym for an hour, or doing Pilates, yoga, doing something, I would say stick with around that timeframe just trying to bring back that normalcy, but on a most basic level, I would say 30 minutes. 30 minutes is so attainable during a day. To be frank, I don’t care how busy you are during the day. You can manage your time to spend 30 minutes on yourself, on your physical well being, your mental well being. And 30 minutes could be taking the dog for a nice walk, or if you do have the luxury to maybe go a little bit longer, then absolutely maybe 45 minutes, depending on your fitness level where you may be started or what you’re doing. Like I said, if you’re used to those longer workouts, try and stick with that, but if you are a beginner, I would say 30 minutes a day, just get yourself moving.

Nicole Davis, wedding crashers:

Okay, I’m going to do it.

Rachel Sito, orangetheory fitness Brooklyn-midwood:

I believe in you.

Nicole Davis, wedding crashers:

Okay (laughs). Doris, I am curious: If your partner has an opposite personality type from you and they react differently to either your wedding postponement or just the coronavirus in general — maybe one is more of an optimist and one is more of a pessimist — what do you think is the best way to handle it?

Doris Fullgrabe, your love profiles:

There are many ways to handle it. One of my favorite Jung quotes though is, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” So, let’s start with that for everybody watching this. So, I think there are three things that we can do, or there are three things that I do, maybe I just speak from my personal experience. So, assume good intentions, be curious and embrace the diversity. What do I mean with that? I already alluded to it earlier, my husband and I are very different on very many levels, and I’m learning now to assume that he’s not doing anything on purpose just like he knows that I’m not doing anything on purpose, it’s just how we’re wired and we’re wired differently. So, let’s assume good intentions for whatever happens.

And then I’m not saying not to get upset if that’s what you’re feeling, obviously, but let the initial maybe irritation or frustration pass, take a breath, and then be curious and ask your partner whatever it is that they’re doing, “How is this helping you? How is this benefiting you? Why do you think it’s a good idea to do what you do?” Because they probably have a reason for it because they’re also an adult, they’re their own person and they have their own ideas. And then when you share your approach why you think your way is helpful, that’s when you start looking at your relationship as a self organizing system and living and growing, and these systems are most resilient when they have diversity, because it means you’re able to deal with and adapt to changing situations as they emerge. In other words, I think it’s great if your partner does things differently because you’re probably complementing one another and filling each other’s blind spots. So, assume good intentions, be curious and embrace it.

Nicole Davis, wedding crashers:

That is really good advice. And now, Landis, this is somewhat similar, but what tips can you share to navigate partnership stress, whether it’s surrounding your wedding or just life in general right now?

Landis Bejar, aisle talk:

I think that I want to piggyback off what Doris said. I think that those concepts of embracing the differences, assuming good intent and being curious are so key in relating to one another, because the fact is that a partnership is bringing two completely different people, personalities, entities, ecosystems of functioning, and high functioning people usually that are fine on their own, together to make a life together. And kind of just acknowledging that that takes work and evolving communication and evolving strategies, but you’re both doing the best you can and doing things that have worked for you in the past.

So, I love that assuming good intention, and I think that just saying that in a different way, especially in COVID times, is remembering that you’re both in this together and neither of you are in control over these things, right? Kind of what Rachel was saying, this is an incredibly abnormal time, right? It’s not normal to be with your partner, spouse, whomever, for 24 hours a day or close to that. That’s why we have jobs and lives outside of each other. We’re not meant to just function in this sort of enmeshed way all day, every day, that is not normal. It’s also not normal to maybe many people are a part during this time, whether you’re in the healthcare field or whatever that may be, that’s not normal. Maybe you guys don’t live together and haven’t quarantined together so you’re by yourself the whole time. None of these things are normal.

So, just reminding yourself and each other that you’re doing the best you can because none of us have control over this and even the experts are searching and scrambling for answers right now. So, I think that that’s a really helpful reminder. And then just as I alluded to before, is keeping those lines of communication open. Sometimes these tips are good and then sometimes we need these tips plus, perhaps, a type analysis, or a couples therapist to kind of just help put them in place. So, if you’re needing that, that is totally normal in a very abnormal situation, so seek it out. We’re all here, we’ve all adopted our businesses to meet you virtually meet your needs virtually and adapt to this situation right now as best we can. So, there are people there for you if you need support.

But a couple of tips would be when we’re communicating with each other, let’s make sure that we’re doing the best we can to speak from our point of view and our experience. I think a lot of times couples just know each other so well, can finish each other sentences, we get into traps where we try to mind read each other, we try to assume what the other person meant. So, I think that one of my biggest go-tos recommendations and ways to kind of break things down is make sure that we are really speaking in the I form. “I noticed this, I felt this way. This is what I’m experiencing.” Right? And that really plays into what Doris was saying in terms of how we do things differently, so let me speak to you about my process.

And this sounds so basic, but I think it really helps couples when I share it with them, is making sure that it’s a good time to talk, because it’s not always a good time to talk, especially when people are working from home and dealing with global trauma that we’re going through, it’s not always a good time to talk about our feelings. So, making sure that people are receptive to that and our partners are receptive to that. And I always use the comparison of work, right? When you have something important to communicate to your colleagues at work, you schedule a meeting, and by scheduling that meeting, you know that everybody’s free, it’s not interfering with their lunch hour or another meeting, they’re not distracted, they’re coming there to talk about that thing. So, why don’t we do that at home, right?

We say, “Hey, is now a good time? I had something I wanted to talk to you about.” Right? So, we don’t necessarily need to put it on the calendar, sometimes that’s helpful, but we essentially say, “I want to talk about something and I want to make sure I’m not interrupting something you’re doing, that you’re not overtired, or hungry, or cranky, or maybe it’s already cocktail hour,” those are not good times to have important conversations. So, making sure that it’s a good time, and if it’s not, on the other end if you say, “It’s not a really good time. I just finished an awful conference call, I can’t process something,” then it’s on the receiving person, the person who’s saying that to say, “What about later tonight?” So, we can both be on the same page about having that conversation.

Again, that plays into the fact that this is not normal. So, like Rachel was saying, it’s like, we usually see this person when we’re getting up in the morning and we’re coming home after a long day, so we can easily get under the illusion right now that we have unlimited access to our partners, right? And the fact is that if you’re working from home, you’re working, and so we need to set those boundaries, and a lot of times it’s as simple as asking or checking in verbally and not assuming that they’re always available to have a deep conversation about our emotions. So, I think that those are some of the things that I would suggest and kind of just maybe simplistic, not always easy to execute, but just some really good go-tos.

Nicole Davis, wedding crashers:

I think that’s great. I’ve never really thought about that scheduling a meeting, that sort of analogy, but it is definitely something good to keep in mind.

I thought we could just look at the results of the poll. It looks like even if people are not planning on seeking therapy, many already are taking care of themselves with therapy. And we do have some people who-

Landis Bejar, aisle talk:

Love that.

Nicole Davis, wedding crashers:

… are sad about the postponement of their wedding, sad about just the loss of work and normalcy, taking care of themselves with therapy and exercise, and already taking care of themselves with meditation, which is great. I wasn’t able to complete the poll, so I would have said I plan to exercise more, and plan to meditate.

I appreciate everyone’s input today, and thank you so much for joining us. We have two more wedding webinars coming up. The next one is Friday May 15 at noon. It’s going to be about planning or postponing your Hudson Valley wedding, so I hope people join us then. Ashley, do you want to close?

Ashley Mikoletic Cheng, wedding Crashers:

Sure. I’ll say one final thing, and just want to, again, say thank you to all of you for being here. There’s a lot of great information and I hope the attendees and whoever tunes in can really take a lot from this. There’s just one final thought that I’ll end on and kind of something I’ve been leaning on a little bit, and it’s as simple as a motivational quote: “inhale the future and exhale the past.” And it’s not that I lean on this to forget what’s going on or what is in the past, but it’s more about finding positivity in this and how I can bring something exciting or how I can help or share love going forward. So, hopefully, I’ll leave that with you and it may be something that you take into your day, maybe not, it’s not one size fits all.

I wish everyone well, stay healthy, and we look forward to a time where we can actually be together, but glad you could join us here and we’ll see you soon. Thank you.