"Come back to yourself. Return to the voice of your body. Trust that much.” (Geneen Roth)

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing.  It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose, looking at the night and seeing the day.


Patience is Foreseeing ~ Shams Tabrizi

August 3, 2012

Yoga is always there for you, always good for you, and so, so easy. Take a deep breath through your nose. Lift your arms up over your head. And start over.

Yoga is Always There ~ Neal Pollack

July 23, 2012

New Week, New Day, Strong Heart

December 25, 2011

Breathing in, I come back to the place where I sit or where I stand.  I feel the earth beneath my feet.

Breathing out, I am ok with this place where I am and this moment in time, and what I am doing.

If I feel I should be doing something else, this mindfulness provides me the opportunity to make that change.  Or, this mindful awareness reminds me that in this moment I am exactly where I need to be.

Breathing in, I relax my shoulders and let my arms fall gently to my sides.  Whether I sit or stand, my spine is tall and straight and soft.

Breathing out, I feel the muscles between my shoulder blades release their tension, out and into the earth.

Breathing in, I raise my arms straight out to my sides up to shoulder height.  I feel this movement and my breath through my arms and into my fingers.

Breathing out, I am aware of my arms and my hands.  My shoulders are soft and relaxed.  I feel the weight and the strength of these arms that lift and move for me all day long.

Breathing in, I raise my arms upward, straight and strong, to reach the sky above my head.  I can almost feel my ears touch the skin of my arms.   I feel my breath embracing my heart.

Breathing out, I am strong and relaxed.  I am in my perfect moment.  I am prepared.

“It is the nature of the strong heart, that like the palm tree it strives ever upwards when it is most burdened.”    Sir Philip Sidney

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

For fast acting relief, try slowing down.

For Fast Relief ~ Lily Tomlin

November 1, 2011

When Someone Hears Your Name

September 20, 2011

What reaction do people have when they hear your name?

When a dear friend of mine had her birthday earlier this year, one of her friends wrote on her Facebook page, “people smile and feel good when they hear your name…..”  Read that line again.  “People smile and feel good when they hear your name.”

I was so moved by this sentiment, made even more touching because he was right about my friend.  That is the effect she has on people.  Do you know someone like this?  Are you someone like this?  I know that I would like to be.

How do people feel when they hear your name?

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

Slow Down Works Fast

September 10, 2011

“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.”  (Lily Tomlin)

Breathing in, breathing out, I am aware of my breath.  I am aware of each step I make.

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

Turn That Frown Upside Down

August 1, 2011

Are you smiling?   Your life may depend upon  your answer.

A recent study finds that people who are captured smiling in photos live an average of 7 years or more after their non-smiling counterparts have passed on.  How intensely you smile is also a factor.  Smiles were rated in intensity as follows:

“no smile (1), partial smile (only movement of muscles around the mouth; i.e., only contraction of the zygomatic major muscles; 2), or full (Duchenne) smile (movement of muscles around the mouth and corners of the eyes; i.e., contraction of both zygomatic and orbicularis oculi muscle;”1

Other positive results of note that were experienced by the “smilers” (these quotes are mine) were longevity in marital relationships and professional success.  The benefits of smiling have been known long before this study was conducted. If you aren’t aware of what this simple habit can do for you, then you should know that:

  1. Smiling makes us more attractive.  We are drawn to those who smile and they are drawn to us.
  2. Smiling tricks us into a better mood.
  3. Smiling improves our immune system.
  4. Smiling makes us look younger by lifting the muscles of the face.  Also, see #1 above.
  5. Smiling has been proven to measurably lower blood pressure.
  6. Smiling is a natural drug.  Smiling releases endorphins, your body’s natural pain killer, and serotonin, your natural stress-reducer and anti-depressant.
  7. Smiling makes you appear more confident.  “Smilers” are more apt to be promoted or to close the sale.
  8. Smiling is contagious.  Beware, when you smile you encourage smiling in others. What you send out has a very good chance of coming back to you!

Real, full, or “Duchenne” smiles use the whole face – lips, eyes, cheeks.  In my non-scientific way, I would say that these are smiles from your heart and soul, your whole self.  Try this smiling exercise for yourself.

  • Take a deep breath in, all the way to the bottom of your abdomen.  Let it out slowly.
  • Breathing normally, begin by forming a frown.  Really purse those lips together.  Tighten the muscles of the forehead.  Scrinch up your eyes.  Blow your breath in through your now.  Blow that breath out hard.
  • Relax the muscles.  Take a deep breath in.
  • Make a small (no teeth) grin.  Let your breath out slowly through your almost-closed lips.
  • Breathe in and out normally.  How do you feel?
  • Now smile.  Big!  Sparkle your eyes.  How do you feel now?

When it seems that we can do little to make positive change in the world, often times it is the smallness of our smile that makes all the difference.  Turn that frown upside down and smile.  Big!

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

1 – “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity,” Ernest L. Abel and Michael L. Kruger, Psychological Science.  February 2010.

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.

Rest Between Breaths ~ Etty Hillesum

July 5, 2011

What I Really Like About Her

June 25, 2011

Why does it seem so easy to think the worst of someone?  To dislike them?  What if every time you are confronted by someone you dislike, you ask yourself;

“What’s the best thing about her?  What’s the best thing about him?”

“What I really like about him/her is _________.”

Try to name at least three good qualities.

It doesn’t fix everything.  But it’s a start.  A balanced perspective is the first step to peace.

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

Assume Your Position

June 20, 2011

A man gets on the subway with his children.  The man is aloof and his kids are holy terrors.  They run up and down the length of the car, bumping into passengers, shrieking, poking each other.  Everyone on the car is perturbed.  They wait for him to say something, to control his children.  The father doesn’t seem to care.  Finally, one passenger brusquely approaches the father, “Hey!  You need to watch those crazy kids of yours!  We don’t need to put up with your kids causing a bunch of trouble!” The father looks up as if he has just come out of a dream.  He looks around and hears his children for the first time as he feels the angry glare of every passenger on the car upon him.  He responds slowly, “I’m so sorry.  I guess I was kind of lost there.  You see, my wife just died this morning and the kids have been cooped up at the hospital for the last couple of days.  I guess we just aren’t sure yet how to deal with all of this.”

The mood shift is palpable.  Angry eyes now well up with tears and the passengers who were so quick to condemn the poor parenting of the man now reach out to help him.

What if it was our habit to assume the best when confronted with a situation where we don’t have all the pieces to understanding?  This paraphrasing of a story told by Stephen Covey in his beautiful book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, illustrates the importance of “seeking first to understand.”  The truth is we don’t always have the opportunity to fully understand, to fit all the pieces together, to know the back-story. 

Our actions, our stress levels, our suffering change for the better when we assume the best.

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

Bunny Breathing

June 20, 2011

Ever felt panicked? Frozen with fear?  Anxious and unsure?  A simple breathing exercise can help.  Bunny breathing.  This exercise is as easily taught and used by young children as it is to executives.  It is a powerful tool of breath to re-oxygenate our bodies and feel empowerment in stressful situations.

  • Breathe in through your nose 4-7 short breaths. Your nose will twitch “like a bunny.”
  • Feel the breath passing lungs right into your belly.
  • Then breath out one long breath through your mouth.  Repeat.
  • You will feel immediate results. 
  • Now focus on your spine.  Make it long and tall.
  • Release your shoulders.  Let them fall away with gravity away from your ears.
  • Repeat your bunny breathing.

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

Make Breathing Room

June 15, 2011

The concept of a Breathing Room comes from the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master teacher and promoter of peaceful and mindful living.  In Peace is Every Step, Thay (a title that means Teacher) writes,

“We have a room for everything — eating, sleeping, watching TV — but we have no room for mindfulness.  I recommend that we set up a small room in our homes and call it a “breathing room,” where we can be alone and practice just breathing and smiling, at least in difficult moments.”

This idea of leaving space, open and empty, in our homes, in our lives, and in our minds is novel in a hurried world where we constantly fill up everything.  We rush to turn on the television when we walk into the house. We rush to turn on the stereo, ipod, CD, or NPR when we get into the car.  We search to find classes and sports so that the kids will have “something to do” when they are out of school and so that they won’t be behind their peers in exposure or achievement.  We often feel that we must earn more so that we can achieve more, be more, buy more.  Then, if we are “lucky,” we clean out, de-clutter, sell on Craigslist and e-bay, or donate what we have acquired so that we can buy new.  If we are “unlucky,” we find ourselves on an intervention reality tv-show where Oprah rescues us from drowning in our accumulation of “stuff.”  It can become an endless cycle of noisy chatter inside our minds and souls.

De-cluttering experts often talk of leaving an empty shelf in a closet or medicine cabinet as a simple way of reminding ourselves of order and cleanliness.   As a parent I remember numerous times that my children did not want to play in a room full of toys strewn about.  They complained that there was nothing to do in there.  After a quick clean-up and tidying session, they were eager to play in their rooms.  The space allowed them to really see what they had and to think clearly about what they wanted to do.  Creating that space for ourselves can bring the same clarity and vision.  If our lives are so full of visual and audible noise can we really see what we have or what we want?

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

“We are all just walking each other home.”

Primary Purpose ~ Ram Dass

May 31, 2011

FIRST AID: The Duct Tape of Emotional Problem Solving

May 20, 2011

Some days, weeks, and even months it really feels as if everything is going along perfectly.  And then…  KABOOM!  It feels like everything has gone horribly wrong.  When those bad days hit you need some quick first-aid.  First aid is just that – first.  It’s purpose is to take care of immediate issues so that long term healing can take place.  Duct tape is well known as being the fix-it-all band-aid in the practical world.  But what about duct tape for the soul?  When you feel as if you’ve woken up on the wrong side of life and aren’t allowed to go back to sleep, try these quick tips:

1 – Do a word puzzle or brainteaser.  As fast as you can.  Scientific studies prove that “speeding up” your brain processes makes you feel better.  Really.

2 – Say out loud, “If this was in a sitcom, it would be really hilarious.”  Inserting just an iota of space between your perceived situation and your thoughts about that situation will give you more of a feeling of control and perspective over things.

3 – Hum a tune.  Yes, hum.  You can hum a song that you know or make up some random concoction of notes.  It doesn’t matter.  The focus required to hum purposefully will automatically relax your “over-thinking” brain and the breathing required to maintain the humming notes will relax your physical body.  The combination of the two will help you to feel more empowered.

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

Dancing With Wolves

May 3, 2011

An old Cherokee was teaching his young grandson one of life’s most important lessons.  He told the young boy the following parable:

“There is a fight going on inside each of us. It is a terrible fight between two wolves,” he said.

“One wolf is evil. He is anger, rage, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The second wolf is good.  He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about this for a moment. Then he asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win this fight?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

This is a commonly retold story and after each telling the question is often asked, “Which wolf are you feeding today?”  Perhaps the food we use to feed our wolves is as important as recognizing their hunger.  The first wolf feeds on insecurity, rushing, mindlessness, junk food, lethargy.  The second feeds on breath, mindful actions, clean air and food, prayer and meditation.

What do you feed your wolf?

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

No Mud No Lotus

May 2, 2011

Breathing in, I feel the breath seep deep into my abdomen.

I feel energy breathing into my toes.

Breathing out I see the stresses around me.

I feel the energy whirling around me in chaos.

Breathing in, I command this energy.

I remember that without the mud, no lotus comes to bloom.

Breathing out, the stress is around me but not within me.

I am calm.  


How Do You See It?

April 15, 2011

There are two ways to look at life.  Yep.  I said it.

Only two ways, you say?  To look at all of life?


I’ve been pondering for some years how it is that there is always friction in the world when it seems that we share more ideals in common than in conflict.  Religion, values, family values, freedom, democracy, socialism, good, evil, right, wrong, materialism, profit, power.  These words and ideas are bandied about as the reasons that we have to fight each other. We fight over how to treat illness, how to promote wellness, how to grow and consume food, how to how to treat animals, how to pray.  In the worst scenarios we kill one another – dramatically and on a mass scale – over these concepts, taking permanently the breath from those on “the other side.”

You’ve heard before the half-empty vs. half-full scenario and it is a true way to understand perspectives but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

There is a philosophy that ascribes that most importantly there is evil in the world and that this evil must be fought, clobbered, destroyed, annihilated for goodness to thrive.  There is another philosophy that imputes that most importantly there is beauty and goodness in the world that must be sought out, nurtured, loved and protected for goodness to thrive.  Few of us fall at the most dramatic ends of this philosophical scale, but we are definitely on it – and we are not sitting on the fence in the middle.  We are primarily of one philosophy or the other and our belief in the theory to which we subscribe forms how we see every issue, from parenting to city planning to education to democracy to gardening to healthcare.

We need not be conscious of our philosophical leanings to be molded by them. Being aware of our innermost, heartfelt, subconscious blueprinting helps us to understand who we are and who we are not.

So, <deep breath here> how do you see the world?

Wishing you room to breathe, a.