Thursday, December 18, 2008

Exchanging Energy

I was quite mesmerized the other day by raindrops falling on the pond. Each individual drop sent ripples outward, crossing over and combining with others.

We do much the same, sending out ripples of our energy and mood as we interact with one another. We should consider what impact we want our ripple to make.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To Each His/Her Own

Mindfulness is as simple as acknowledging the present moment and can be incorporated into anyone's daily life. Meditation, which takes many forms, calms the mind and relaxes the body to increase awareness of the present moment.

Missy prefers deep silent meditation in lofty places.

Angel is more grounded and prefers being close to nature.

Yoda finds meditation music helps him maintain focus.

Seriously though, mindfulness and meditation are as individual as the individual themselves.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Soul Life

Have you ever wished to have someone else's life? They seem to be so together and content and if you just had that career or spouse or lived in that neighborhood ... then life would be perfect. I believe it was Pat Parelli, a well known natural horseman, who said, " when choosing a horse, don't base your decision on the desire to have a certain breed or color, but choose a horse that is your soul mate". If you haven't had direct experience with horses, you probably have seen the chaos and stress that arises when an inactive person chooses an active dog because it's the "in" breed at that time. When making life choices, look inside, get to know you and find your perfect fit or "soul life". True contentment lies in finding the life that is meant for you, not trying to live someone else's.

Above are my horses at their first face to face meeting, sizing up how they fit. While I love them dearly, I have to say that I found my equine soul mate in my Mediterranean Donkey, Agapios (Gapi). It goes to show how important it is to stay open & present, because what you are looking for may come in unexpected packaging.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Peace and Love

The time of year for sharing thoughts of peace and love is upon us. This is my first card I received today with a message too good not to share. This message could apply to how we treat our planet, and also to how we treat each other and ourselves.

This year may the hands that touch the earth be a little gentler

and the hearts that care for it a little wiser

Mind Over Malady

Mind Over Malady is an article posted today on MSN Health. It is written by Nicola Nieburg from Prevention Magazine. Here is a brief excerpt followed by a link to the complete article:

Once the catchphrase of 1960s counterculture, "mindfulness" has finally graduated from the fringe to the mainstream. "Staying in the moment" is now the guiding principle of millions of devotees who faithfully practice mindfulness meditation to enrich their daily lives. Just as impressively, mindfulness has also attracted another group of admirers: clinical researchers, whose latest investigations document its surprising and powerful physical and mental health benefits-achieved in as little as five minutes a day.

She goes on to state that researchers have learned that brief sessions "improve memory and attention, ease anxiety-and even deepen personal relationships". She then list four other proven health benefits along with simple techniques to try.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We Are All Students, We Are All Teachers

Knowledge is available on an ongoing basis, the only requirement is to be open and receptive. While it is obvious that we are taught by our parents, classroom teachers and supervisors, learning goes beyond these places. There are lessons for growth and knowledge all around us; from everyone we meet, in nature, by observing animals and in the act of living itself. One lesson that nature teaches time and again is resilience and adaptability. The trees during tropical storms that bend and give to the force of the wind and as the storm passes return to their natural position, reaching for the sun. The pine tree growing out of a fence post and each time I pass by it says, "see, anything is possible". There is much to be obtained by observing animals. Besides the many lessons on living they teach, they are also wonderful mirrors of the energy we project. We are not only students in life, we are also teachers. Just as we have learned from others they are learning from us, from our every action or inaction. What are you teaching today?

There is no better teacher than a child, from the joy of simple things to bringing awareness to our need for unconditional love. By teaching a child mindfulness they will maintain that wide eyed wonder of the world and grow to be a part of it, rather than building walls around themselves.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It Depends On How You Look At It

Can there be a better holiday than one for celebrating what we are thankful for. A time for family and friends and acknowledging what we have, not dwelling on what we do not. Like the Rolling Stones songs says, "You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need". The quality of life often depends on how you look at it. Here is a portion of an e-mail from a friend that reminded me of just that point.
I am thankful
For a lawn that needs mowing
windows that need cleaning
and gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home
For the taxes I pay
because it means I am employed
For the pile of laundry and ironing
because it means I have clothes to wear
For the mess to clean after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends
For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means I am alive

The e-mail ended with Live well, Laugh often and Love with all your heart, what better to wish for than that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Take a Chill Pill

I could become high strung quite easily when I was younger, not to say I can't get that way still, and my brother would always tell me, "take a chill pill". Well I now have a recipe for a chill pill and here it is. The first and primary ingredient is to breathe. Place all your focus on your breath, breathe in slowly through your nose, let your stomach expand as your diaphragm drops then breathe out slowly through you mouth, completely exhaling, pulling your navel toward your spine and repeat. The second ingredient is my favorite visualization for grounding, the tree meditation. As you are breathing, visualize your feet growing roots like a tree, going deeper and deeper into the ground, your legs become like the trunk of an old oak tree, large, heavy and solid. As you are breathing in, you are breathing in light, freshness, life, like the leaves of the tree basking in the sun and fresh air, and as you breathe out you release all toxins, stress and worry. As you come back to earth you can feel your heartbeat get slower and steady and your vision of the situation becomes clearer. Now, look again at whatever had you so wound up, if there was a problem take care of it, one item at a time, or you may see there is no issue there after all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Letting Go or Not

The other morning I awoke to a lizard on my bedside table. Now, I love lizards, but they are not meant to live in the house. When I reached over carefully to catch him he clamped down as hard as he could on my finger. My first thought was, "you go dude, never give up", but once we got outside he still held tight. He was so set in his mind that he couldn't see that now it was better to let go. This is a dilemma we all face from time to time, when to hold on, when to let go. These are decisions we have to make ourselves and for the situation at hand. Sometimes it's hard to see the best solution and harder still when our minds are noisy. Mindfulness helps to quiet the mind and clear the vision, it's the difference between looking into a cloudy pond churned up from the bottom or one that is still and clear.

Mindfulness and meditation is a way to look within ourselves and by teaching this to kids, they will have the tools necessary for clearer vision of themselves and the world around them.

(This might not be a tough decision on whether to hold on or let go.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Letting Go - Attachment to Outcome

Letting go will always be a work in progress for me, especially letting go of attachment to outcome. We get a vision or an idea and lock it in, sometimes it may seem too grand and we get overwhelmed or things aren't playing out the way we planned and we get frustrated. A great example of this is a wedding, so much planning, so many details, so much dreaming and it's almost a tradition for something unforeseen to happen. When my daughter recently got married the most important thing I wanted her to keep in mind was that no matter what happens, just breathe, or better yet laugh, do not let anything upset you. When you look back you will see how minor it was and you will have regrets if you let it ruin your enjoyment of your day. While we do need to set goals and make plans for our life or certain events, once it is set in motion we need to release attachment to the outcome, it may not all go as we originally envisioned, a lot of times it actually ends up better.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finding Center

My favorite playground equipment when I was younger was the merry-go-round. I loved spinning around on it, but it seemed more time was spent running beside it to get it going than riding it. Where you sat changed how fast the ride felt, if you were on the outside edge the world seemed to be zooming by in a big blur, but move to the center and the ride became much calmer. Life can feel like sitting on the edge, teetering on falling off as things spin faster and faster out of control with no vision of where you are or what lies ahead and you feel you are aimlessly burning up energy running in circles to keep it all going. The spinning can be fun for a while but after some time you can get "sick" of it and burn out in an attempt to keep it going. Mindful Awareness is like moving over to the center of the ride, there your vision is clearer, you won't become dizzy and you'll be safe from falling.

Through learning mindful techniques, children will be equipped with the ability to always find their center when the world starts spinning around them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


One of my favorite sayings is "It's not the destination, it's the journey". When at the beach I sometimes imagine the journey the sand and water have traveled and what it has been witness to. We are all on a journey, sometimes alone, sometimes with others or we may just briefly cross paths. At times the path is clear and the footing easy, other times it may seem rocky, treacherous, or we feel like we are wading sluggishly through a bog. Where ever you are on your journey be present for that moment because good or bad there are lessons to be learned, joys to behold, laughter and tears to be shared. Don't get so lost in the past or fixated on a certain destination that you miss all the beauty in the present. Things change along the way just as the currents move the water and sand to other beaches and we need to be present and open to each moment. My friend Rosie uses the analogy of someone wanting to go to California, but along the way they fall in love with Montana. If they had not been enjoying and living each moment of the journey or have been so obsessed with California, they may have missed Montana all together.

With K A P, we hope to teach children there is beauty in each moment just waiting for them to behold, to learn to be present and enjoy the journey and also to be aware and respectful of others on the road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


We are all unique and individual but at the same time connected and interdependent on each other and the planet as a whole. This dependence is illustrated within our own bodies. Our bodies are made up of many parts and each of these parts are separate entities that handle different task, yet each one part, down to the smallest cellular level, is dependent on the health and functioning of the others. It is much the same with our planet, we are like separate little cells living and working together on this one big rock, and just as the parts of our bodies are interconnected so are we connected to each other and our environment. We need to be aware of how our actions directly impact our lives and the lives of future generations. In doing so, we can learn to use but not abuse our resources and to respect one another. This planet, and all that's on it, is one big living breathing organism. Just as each of us would not consciously damage any part of our body, we should have the same awareness of our fellow humans, animals, plants, down to the smallest microorganism. We need to understand that everyones' well being is dependent on (interconnected with) the well being of others.

Kids Awareness Program will teach children a respect for their world and everything in it and what they can do to protect it. There will be environmental walks and lessons on the roles that different elements play in our lives and in keeping the planet healthy. An awareness will be given on the importance to get out in nature and stay in tune to their surroundings.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Where Are My Keys?

Tired of losing things, late for work because you can't find your keys in the morning, try doing things on purpose. We have become a society that is proud of their abilities to multi task but are we really doing any of it well. We drop our keys and other objects mindlessly as we enter the door while we are on the phone or preoccupied with the days events and then think we are losing our minds since we can't remember where we put things. In essence we are losing our mind because we are not using it, but it's not a sign of lost memory capabilities, since we were not really present during the action there is nothing to remember, we never experienced putting our keys down. Just take one thing, such as your keys, and pay attention to them, do not let them leave your hands without stopping all other thoughts and actions, decide where you want them to be and witness yourself putting them there. Do things on purpose, be present. This is never more important than with our interactions with others especially our children. I heard it said of John Travolta, "that you can be at a crowded party full of interesting people and if you are speaking to him he makes you feel like you are the only person in the room and whatever you are saying is so intriguing". Imagine how it feels to be that passionate and focused, to be that attuned and respectful in each moment as it's happening, now, in the present, whatever it may be, and to be living that moment on purpose without judgement.

With Kids Awareness Program, we hope to instill in children the ability to live their lives on purpose, be present in the moment, and not be hampered and stressed do to living mindlessly.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Matter of Perspective

While at the beach on a warm July afternoon, I was standing in the surf watching the scene play out before me on the beach. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and there was really no where else anyone should be but in water somewhere, so it seemed most everyone had come to the beach. As I was looking and seeing hardly a spot of sand not occupied I thought it sure is crowded here today. As quick as that thought passed through my mind I turned back to the horizon and looking out across the vast blue sea, all I saw was water and sky, not a sole, and then I thought no it's not (crowded that is), it's just a matter of perspective. Perspective can be a view or vista or also a viewpoint. Your perspective or opinion about things is based on how you view the world around you. How anyone views things is based on a multitude of different factors, from genetics, birth order, age of parents, environment, culture, exposure to religious beliefs, events that happen and on and on. With all the infinite possible combinations that go into making who we are and shaping our perceptions how can we possibly be so confounded by the fact that everyone does not share our every opinion, lifestyle, reactions etc. In order to find harmony in our lives, whether it be with co-workers, family, or friends, we need to come to an awareness that we are not the same and we cannot possibly judge another when we cannot see from their perspective, it's hard enough understanding our own selves. Look first at yourself and try to learn the reasons for your own reactions to others. You cannot change others, you can change your reactions and if necessary your environment but we all need to learn to respect others for who they are not what we want them to be.

Kids Awareness Program will help children identify with the differences in all of us and that it is ok, even good to be that way and help them learn to respond rather than react in situations. It will also help them learn to be secure with themselves where ever they may go in life, to have that safe haven within themselves always.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tune Your Instrument

I saw an interview with Goldie Hawn in which she was asked about being happy and she replied that we are all instruments and hers just happened to play a happy tune. What is most interesting to me about this analogy is that instruments can be tuned. We may be different instruments, one person may be an upright bass while another may be a flute, an electric guitar may be more suited for rock music whereas a sax may play jazz but all instruments can get out of tune or play sour notes and with little effort can be brought back in tune. This is what mindful awareness does, it tunes our instruments and not only to our individual beat but puts us in rhythm with the rest of the band. Can you imagine a world that is playing in tune with one another. It does not require changing which instrument you are or even what type of music you play, but just keeping yourself in tune. This can be achieved simply through meditation and mindfulness. Meditation comes in many forms and is not just sitting like a monk in a monastery in solitude and silence for hours. You can do a walking meditation or other mindful exercises such as tai chi and yoga. Even everyday activities such as raking or sweeping can be meditative just by mindfully focusing on the activity. There are more ways to meditate and they can be done for long periods or a few minutes. Some good resources I have used are books by Jon Kabat-Zinn or Dan Millman. You should also be able to find local groups and mentors if that is more motivating for you or CD's and DVD's that can help you at home with different guided meditations. So here is to us playing some happy tunes together.

Kids Awareness Program will give children the tools to stay in tune with themselves and the world around them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Just Move

I have found no better way to awaken and refresh my mind than to get up, or better yet, to get outside and move. Step away from whatever you are doing, physically and mentally, and just move. Go for a walk while focusing on your breath or your steps. Feel the sensations beneath your feet, pay attention to the muscles that are moving you, this will not only clear you mind but by mindfully focusing on your body parts while they are working you attain more physical fitness with less effort. Also, by moving and exercising in a mindful way you are less prone to injury and always focus on your breath, do not hold your breath or pant erratically but breathe naturally, in and out through the movement. Some other forms of exercise that bring the mind fully into the movement are yoga, tai chi and Dan Millman's Peaceful Warrior workout. These exercises not only clear the mind and reduce stress, they build strength and develop balance and coordination among other benefits. They give you a great start to your day and can be incorporated into the day by doing it for a few minutes or a full workout. When you return to what you were doing, or as you go through your day, you will feel renewed and able to accomplish much more. By taking time for mindfulness and movement you are not losing time but gaining more quality of time and quality of life.

In the Kids Awareness Program, mindful movement will be incorporated into the day to teach the children focus and to clear their mind for better learning and retention.

A Day at the Beach

Harmony, on any given day, can be found at the beach. The water and sand belong to no one and yet to everyone and there you can find such a mixture of life coinciding peacefully together. Interspersed among people are birds searching the surf for crabs or the water for fish while dragonfly's dance in the wind among the sea oats. People of all ages can be seen alone, in couples or as groups of friends and families of all types, throwing Frisbee, playing volleyball, walking dogs, riding surfboards as others play in the surf and jump the waves or build castles in the sand. The beach is dotted with umbrellas, chairs, towels and coolers. You can find people from every race, creed, religion and culture sitting and playing side by side in total peace and harmony. As they leave, each person waits respecfully for their turn at the hose to wash away the salt and sand. If we could only bottle this peace, harmony and respect and take it with us as we return to our lives away from the beach what a great world it would be.

One of the goals of the Kids Awareness Program is to teach children to carry this peace, harmony and respect for all with them throughout their lives.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mindful Eating / The Wine Diet

No, this post is not about drinking your way to health, but about viewing food much like a wine connoisseur views a bottle of wine. What and how we eat is one of the most integral parts of living, yet it is one of the most mindless things we do. Studies have shown that people who kept a food journal lost more weight than those that did not. Keeping a food journal requires you to pay attention to what you are eating, it makes you fully aware of your choices and the quantities you consume. Paying attention also signals your mind and body that you have eaten, rather than mindlessly over stuffing yourself. You can also achieve this awareness by eating your food much the same way as a wine connoisseur partakes of a glass of fine wine. When choosing think carefully of the qualities of your choice, how are we designed, what does it take to run this machine we call our body. A wine connoisseur puts thought into their choice for the exact wine to compliment the meal, put thought in your choice of food for your body, ask what would your body choose. When the food is before you, give it your attention, truly see it just as the wine is given full attention as it is swirled in the glass. Take small bites, much like a small sip, and before it enters your mouth look closer, smell the aroma, pay full attention as it enters your mouth. Once in your mouth, chew slowly and feel each sensation, notice the texture and taste as it hits different parts of your mouth. As you are eating, don't forget that you can put your utensil down and just pause or take a deep mindful breath between bites or to reply to a comment, then go to the next bite giving it your full attention. Also, as you take each bite, think of what it took to get to you, be thankful for all the hands it passed by, every ray of sunshine or drop of rain, from it's beginning of life to sustaining your life.

In the Kids Awareness Program there will be activities to awaken the children to use all their senses when eating, to eat mindfully and to then have them journal or blog their descriptions. They will also be taught some basic nutrition, the "whys" of eating certain foods not just do it because and how to, as well as importance of, reading labels and to be fully aware what it is they are eating.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Picking Up Sticks

I would like to share an example from my own life on how mindfulness has helped me. Hanna, the tropical storm, blew through this past weekend and thankfully she didn't pack much of a punch but when you live on five acres the amount of debris can add up. When I went out that morning, as the wind was slowing down, I walked around and looked over the array of branches, limbs, leaves, and a few small trees that had been strewn around the yard and instead of grumbling and seeing a wasted Saturday afternoon my first thought was, "Well I know what my exercise routine will be today". It took my husband and I about three hours together in muggy weather to pick up, rake, and sweep but it seemed like no time. Here is how mindfulness helped, besides enabling me to start the morning with a upbeat attitude, it helped get me out there instead of dragging around and building up a mental image of an unending job. More importantly it enabled me to not see it as an overwhelming job but that I just had that one stick right there in front of me to pick up, once it was taken care of, I could see I had that next one stick to pick up .... Periodically I would look back and see a clean patch and feel a since of accomplishment. Also, as we were clearing away the yard, I noticed that it was the dead, weak and overburdened limbs and trees that were toppled over and could see that nature was just spring cleaning and making room for all the new growth to come and how the solid growth remained to show the way. In order to stay strong and keep growing we too need to clear out all old habits and attachments that many of us aren't even aware we are clinging to. Travel lightly and you'll get further with less effort. It is also a reminder to make sure the top of our tree (see Grow Your Roots Deep) is not heavier than the trunk and roots can hold up.

Kids, especially, are overburdened with expectations, schedules and stress. We try to cram more and more into their developing minds and bodies, don't want them to miss out or get behind. One lesson from Kids Awareness Program will be to help them know that they just have that one thing to do at this moment and how to practice living moment by moment. The best way for them to succeed at whatever they choose is to learn to be there as they are doing it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just Breathe

Mindfulness is as simple as this most basic element of life. It's the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do before we die. It is the essence of life and the most suggested remedy for whatever ails you, be it physical or emotional pain, anxiety, fear, stress etc. - just breathe. The thing with breathing is it starts out so natural and easy and as we have life experiences we begin to change that. We may breathe more shallow, hold our breathe in tension, breathe faster or we sabotage our health to the point of inhibiting the ability to breathe. Breathing is the root of our well being. An analogy of how simple it can be to change our lives through awareness of our breath is an example from Caesar Millan, the dog whisperer. The position of a dogs tail shows its emotional state and when Caesar wanted to help a dog become less anxious he didn't try some deep psychological technique but simply physically raised the dog's tail from between it's legs. Consciously coming back to a natural state of breathing can change our emotional state in the same way no matter what is happening around us, that is why we know to just breathe in moments of stress. Just as natural breathing can bring us to a natural grounded relaxed state the opposite is also true, shallow or erratic breathing for no reason can send you into a stressful state, just like changing the position of the dogs tail.

One of the healthiest changes I have made in my life is to practice natural breathing throughout the day, just take a minute wherever you are, breathe in slowly through your nose and as your diaphragm drops, allow your stomach then chest to expand and then let it all out pulling your navel inward and repeat. This is the first lesson to be taught in the Kids Awareness Program, learning to focus on the breath. The activity will be to place their hands or an object on their stomach to watch it rise and fall and to feel the breathe as it enters and leaves and how they can come back to that relaxed state at any time by focusing on their breath.

Grow Your Roots Deep

An analogy of mindfulness and awareness as well as the importance they play in life can be seen by examining a tree. Awareness; knowledge and consciousness of what it takes to function at optimum levels through nutrition, fitness (activity & rest) and our relationship with the world around us is represented by the trunk, the main support of the tree where strength and solidness are needed to hold the tree upright. Mindfulness; being present in the moment with purpose and focus is represented by the roots from which the tree is nourished, as well as holding the tree in place and grounding it from external forces. The deeper we grow our roots the harder it is to uproot the tree, the stronger the trunk the bigger the tree can grow and expand for the fullest possible life. The branches, limbs, and leaves represent the many facets of our life. For many of us this is where we put most of our resources, in the top of the tree, while paying little or no attention to the roots and trunk, then wonder why we are prone to disease and topple over at the least external disturbance.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kids Awareness Program

Kids Awareness Program was created to develop or support a program to educate children, and by extension families, about mindful awareness. We strive to promote the implementation of a program in school systems and/or through community groups. Mindful awareness is a foundation for optimum living. It teaches, among other things, that life is a series of moments and how to be present for each one. Through mindfulness education, an individual learns to understand their emotions and thoughts, to be able to self regulate in any situation, to observe and respond rather than judge and react. As a result they are able to find the calm from within in the midst of any storm. By teaching this to children, we provide them with the tools to be more focused, to achieve a higher level of concentration, learning and retention. They will also gain a better understanding, respect and appreciation for themselves, others and the world around them. They will have the ability within themselves to live happier and less stressed lives.

The post to follow will illustrate different aspects to be taught in lessons and activities. These lessons will center on using all our senses to bring awareness to daily activities. The program will teach breathing and simple meditations to clear and refresh the mind and relax the body. Mindfulness will be taught as it pertains to eating and movement and a basic understanding of what the body needs through nutrition, exercise and rest. There will be activities to promote appreciation and respect by teaching that we are all interdependent and connected to one another and to the environment, that the health and welfare of one affects the whole.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mindful Awareness

When searching for the definition of awareness and mindfulness this is what I found. Awareness came up with different dictionary choices, the Merriam Webster definition is: having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge. defines it as: The state or level of consciousness where sense data can be confirmed by an observer. Mindfulness, however, came up with different sites by individuals or organizations rather than dictionaries. The definition of the root word mindful is attentive & careful. Most of the sites and programs promoting mindfulness have their basis in work done by Jon Kabat-Zinn and he gives a good understanding of mindfulness: "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally." While the two are similar, awareness and mindfulness are both about being conscious, awareness is more about having knowledge and mindfulness is being in the moment and living on purpose. We live our lives so mindlessly that we are truly not present for it. If we learn just some basic knowledge of what we need and combine that with paying attention in this moment we can truly learn to live and not just drag from one thing to the next with no joy or purpose. Mindful Awareness to me is paying attention to knowledge gained, being conscious to what is happening now, living, truly living, each moment and finding peace with life.