Pause and Observe

Make peace with the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

A friend told me today I seem more calm and content. It pleasantly surprised me she noticed. I’m working on going with the flow and not getting upset by things I can’t control.  I try to take time to pause before responding to something.  Just taking a breath helps me feel more peaceful in that moment.

Pause and Observe

Yesterday I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Her guest was Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now and A New Earth.  They discussed conflict and divisiveness in the world today.  Oprah asked, “Are we taking steps back in consciousness or is this happening to raise consciousness?”  Eckhart explained it is not a linear process.  Like our development in life, we experience challenges and obstacles to help us grow.  When we have setbacks, we need to pause and observe.  It’s not what happens to us but how we react to it.

He says stress is wanting something to be the way it isn’t.  Look at the situation without belaboring it.  When something happens to upset you, watch your mind and what it’s telling you.  “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.”

If you would like to hear him talk more about this concept, here’s a 2 ½ minute Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys17xPHS2Q8

Healing Energy of Singing Bowls

Do you know that our soul is composed of  harmony.” – Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks

Sounds sing to me today. This morning, I thought I heard a bell ringing at construction next door.  Metal clanging sounded melodic.  Walking back to my car after Pilates, wind chimes drew me into their deep tone.  At the studio, I meditated to music with Tibetan Singing bowls.  I could feel their vibration radiating throughout my body. The hypnotic effect pulled me into a peaceful meditation.  Tibetan singing bowl

There’s actually a reason for this effect and why singing bowls are used for healing. In eastern cultures, illness is thought of as a manifestation of disharmony within the body.  Sound and vibration bring a deep sense of peace, releasing tension and blocked energy, balancing chakras / energy centers in the body helping restore harmony. The vibrational effect of gongs and singing bowls comes from a natural phenomenon known as entrainment – entraining or synchronizing the body to a certain sound. Entrainment occurs when powerful vibrations of one object actually change less powerful vibrations of another object.

If you’re ready to feel healing energy from these singing bowls, sit in a comfortable position, take a few breaths in releasing each one fully, and enjoy this 20 minute peaceful meditation.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXcw1VXlRRE

Read more about the Science Behind Healing with Sound in this interesting article:http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/science-behind-healing-sound

 

 

 

United for Change

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”   -Margaret Mead

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I caught the cold being passed around. Thinking about it, I’m not surprised so many of us are sick or feeling under the weather. The election inflamed everyone, but the results particularly hit those of us who are stunned a candidate with such abusive, discriminatory beliefs and demeanor will be running our country. Like most of my friends, I grieved for days depressed and worried about the future.  I’m sure it wore down our defenses and immunity. 

In a war-torn world, we need leaders who unite people rather than divide or discard them, a government which upholds principles of ethics, equality, and justice, one which protects our rights as well as our environment.  Our Declaration of Independence gave power to the people for defending our rights.

In Franklin Roosevelt’s speech on The Four Freedoms he said, “As Americans, if we say we love our county then it is OUR JOB to stand and speak up for those whose rights are being taken away. It is OUR JOB to stand and fight for them in the same way that people have fought and died for the freedom we have been blessed to experience today. Our ultimate goal and purpose, no matter what party you represent, race, background, poor, or rich should be: to aid the common needs of the common people of the United States of America!”

Now many of us are asking what we can do to voice our concerns and take action.  It’s time to unite and support one another to feel safe, empowered, and help make a difference.  As I recuperate physically and mentally, I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of resources to keep us peaceful, united, and engaged.  I hope these suggestions encourage us to work together creating change for a better world for us, future generations, and our planet.

Coping Tips:
Happiness and Inner Peace during Turbulent Times:
How to help our children:
Twelve steps we can take:

Sitting in Nature

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” —John Muir, Our National Parks

Yesterday morning I woke with a need to sit in stillness with nature, to be in the midst of trees. I’ve always felt a connection to them, climbing the tall one in our backyard during childhood to be alone, sit and reflect with a bird’s eye view. Later in life, I sought refuge from stress in the towering redwoods of Cazadero.Bench in treesSipping my morning cup of lemon honey water while reading How to Sit by Thich Nhat Hahn, I was particularly touched by The Moment of Enlightenment: “Siddhartha, the man who became the Buddha many years ago in India, sat for a very long time at the foot of the Bodhi tree.  He appeared just to be sitting, but his body was also participating.  In his awakening, he was very closely observing his body, his feelings, and his perceptions.  As he continued his practice, his power of mindfulness and concentration became stronger and stronger.  One day at dawn, as the Morning Star appeared, he felt a liberation that dissipated all the darkness within him.  That was a moment of enlightenment.”Tree in parkFeeling a little gloomy the past couple of days, I knew sitting in nature would help dissipate my darkness. Throughout the morning, the universe kept sending me trees: from practicing a new Pilates “Climb the Tree” pose to reading Tiffany Caronia’s response to LA Yoga Magazine’s question: What rituals do you incorporate in your life to encourage restoration?  Part of her answer was “Spending time in nature.”  I knew that was just what I needed.

I wondered where I would walk while I was out running errands. A sign popped out at me as I drove along Crown Valley: LN Botanic Preserve.  I made a U-turn and pulled into the park full of walking paths, benches, and trees. I kept climbing the winding path until the singing of birds became louder than cars whizzing below.  When I reached the top, I was rewarded with another thing I love – a labyrinth.  I followed the maze mindfully letting all other thoughts slip away feeling nature’s peace.

Labyrinth

 

 

Happy Heart

“Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.”   Zig Ziglar

happy heart

I really believe attitude and gratitude make a huge difference in our lives. The best test for a good attitude was when I was diagnosed with cancer almost 14 years ago. It was devastating to hear that dreaded word. I had two choices: feel doomed or fight for my life. Thankfully, I chose to fight and thought: This will not get me. I will beat it!   Keeping a positive spirit, doing things that made me smile and laugh, support from family and friends is what helped me through the most difficult year of my life.

It’s one of the main things I’m grateful for today. Gratitude and a happy heart go hand in hand. The more you give thanks, the better you feel. The opposite is often true too. When we grumble and groan about life, we open the door to more hardship. We all have bad days or times when things aren’t going well. It’s the course of life. I find it helpful after ranting to turn it around and recount all of my blessings. I always find the gratitude list is much longer.

There is actually an Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude Project at UC Berkeley and Davis to document and promote benefits of practicing gratitude which include:

  • Strengthen our immune system and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • Acting with generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated

Pam Grout, author of E-Squared and E-Cubed believes our thoughts can create reality. Love her recent blog on gratitude. As I continue to feel grateful, I really do feel happier, and it makes me smile when hearts randomly appear in my morning coffee.

Savor each delicious bite

Lotus - Nutrition

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog because I was completely immersed in a 6 week nutrition certification program.  It was interesting and enlightening. I learned a lot about nutrition fundamentals, diet related diseases, and a scientific approach to analyzing health information which I’ll share in a future post.

Learning is a way to open our minds, sharpen our brain, and challenge ourselves. It gets us out of our normal routine and presents us with new opportunities. I love being a perennial student. It’s how we grow – whether it’s taking academic courses, creative classes, or lessons in life. Taking time to reflect and sharing with others helps to practice what we’ve learned. So here are a few healthy tidbits:

  • Nutrients work together like a symphony in a synergistic process to optimize their effects
  • A whole plant-based diet provides a full spectrum of nutrients working together to enhance health
  • Eating all colors of the rainbow is a way to maximize antioxidants and encourage creative cuisine
  • Organic vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides, herbicides, toxins, and genetically modified foods
  • Teaching kids to garden is a great way to get them to love vegetables
  • Appreciate the abundance of nature and savor each delicious bite!

(The creative, yummy lotus hummus dish was created by my friend, Susan.)

 

Listen to your gut, follow your heart

Listen to your heart

The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein

I always listen to my gut.  It helps me make important decisions regarding relationships, life choices, and health questions.  It prompts me when I’m unsure of what to do, or gives me that queasy feeling when something is wrong.  The reason we have “butterflies in our stomach” and go with our “gut reaction” is because our gut is our second brain.  After many years of research we discovered the stomach is the enteric nervous system / ENS which sends signals to the brain affecting emotions, influencing memory, learning, and decision making.  Over 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is made there – which accounts for why we crave comfort food.

You can find lots of interesting information on the internet about this topic and books like The Second Brain by Michael Gershon, one of the first neurobiologists who discovered ENS.  Personally, I find it fascinating to know what I feel to be true is proven scientifically!  Listening to our heart and gut go hand-in-hand. Tuning in to their signals not only helps us make the right decision, it can actually save our life.  Critical times to pay attention to what they’re trying to tell us are:

  • Health issues – See a doctor if you feel something is wrong. Pursue a second opinion if you think a diagnosis isn’t in line with how you feel.
  • Stress / danger – Think about why your stomach is upset around certain people or situations. What is it telling you to do – Stop? Run?
  • Values, dreams, goals – what do you feel in your heart is the right thing to do? What makes you happy? I saw a great exercise on Facebook from Healing Light: “Make a list of things that make you happy. Make a list of things you do every day. Compare the lists. Adjust accordingly.”

Listen to your gut and follow your heart. Here are more tips for how to use your intuition to make decisions.