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Relaxation to integrate

We’re not all that good at stopping to integrate life experiences.

Even when it’s not holiday season, we tend toward the future. What’s next?

Our relaxation strategies are usually escapism. Involvement in fantasy. Or someone else’s life. Or sensual indulgence.

Or hamster wheel-ism. Endlessly caught in thought loops, as if enough time there will lead us to . . . what? Comfort? Understanding? A way to be what we were before?

The more we deal with changes, the more we need time to integrate. And you’d be hard pressed to convince anyone that this year hasn’t been one for change.

A simple 15 minutes of intentional relaxation can help the nervous system move toward restoration and healing. Allowing ourselves to just be can foster integration at unconscious levels. Letting go of doing becomes a delicious indulgence.

The conscious relaxation video (savasana in yoga) is available for viewing through December at no charge. After that, it’s available on the website.

Enjoy your holiday season!

Staying Present

It’s amazing how much of life we miss because we’re busy time travelling.

We freak out over ‘what ifs’ in the future.

We berate ourselves to the point of abuse over the unchangeable past.

Staying present.  Being here now.  Ram Dassing it.

To a lot of us, it’s a foreign reality.  The good news is that it’s attainable, and it can become habit with practice.

When we’re time travelling, we’re not connected to our body.  Most of the time, our body is safe.  Reconnecting with it ‘grounds’ us into a safe space that minimizes the ill effects of anxiety, self-recrimination, blame, worry . . . the hamster wheel of circular thoughts and their emotional impact crater.  We’re brought out of the fight, flight, freeze part of our system into the relax and heal part.

A ten minute body scan meditation can help you in your journey to habitual presence.  Through November, you can use this one.  After that, it’s available for purchase on the Yoga Video page.

Keeping the Faith

It was a little tough believing in spring this year.  It’s been way below normal for a month and an half and it snowed on 17th April, long past the usual end of snow season here.

It can be even tougher to keep the faith when it comes to our personal lives.  Things go awry in ways or areas we’ve never had to deal with before and we don’t have a sense of natural progression to help us expect better days.

In reality, we’re always keeping the faith.

If we continually expect the worst, our faith is in that end of the spectrum.  If we always hope for the best, that’s where our faith is placed.  Most of us move around on the spectrum, depending on the issues and our experience in that area.

Can we choose where we place our faith?

Yes, although it sometimes takes some work.   That’s where understanding the basis for our faith helps.

Start with recognizing whether you’re an externalizer or an internalizer.  Is your faith in something outside yourself or do you have faith in your own abilities?

Externalizers believe in “the system” or in a higher power or in other people (yay, for family and friends).  Some externalizers believe that money will solve everything.

Internalizers look to their own abilities and strengths as the stuff they most rely on.

Again, most of us are a combination.

Once you understand where you’re placing your faith, you can ask yourself whether you’re limiting your toolbox (yes, Virginia, you need more than a hammer).   That’s related to doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

And, if you are, you can then decide where you can expand your faith options.  Are there people who would love to come through for you?  Are you leaving a part of yourself out of the solutions to life issues?  Have you been deluding yourself about what money or the system can do for you?

Once you understand what’s going on with your faith, you can make choices to keep the broader positive faith.

Keeping the Meaning Alive

Have you ever done something for someone that you were so excited about?  You thought of something you could spend your time or money or other resources on that would delight them, and you were delighted?  And then they didn’t even acknowledge what you’d done?

It’s a letdown, isn’t it?  It was much better in your imagination than in the real world.

Sometimes you’re just doing something altruistic, something that will make the world a better place, and it turns a little sour.  Maybe you’ve updated all the expired or about-to-expire meters on the block and the next guy who gets in his car is behaving like an a-hole, treating people like something to be wiped off his shoe.  He didn’t notice that he still has time on his meter that he didn’t pay for.

Kind of pulls the wind out of your sails, doesn’t it?  You don’t want thanks, you just want people to be happy that something good just happened to them.

We’ve all had the mismatch between what we imagined and how our imaginings played out in the bigger world.  And we all have to choose whether we’re going to live internally or in the big kids’ playground.

We have zero chance of having an impact if we never take our imaginings public, even anonymously.  But we can protect and tend our internal world, even when our external imaginings get stomped on by the bully in the playground.

Stay in touch with the enthusiasm you felt when generating your imaginings.  We can be innocent and vulnerable internally.  Our inner world doesn’t have to be impacted by the failings of the outer world.  Yes, we grow from our experiences, but, no, we don’t have to grow bitter or cynical or inactive as a result of our experiences.

Cultivate your inner bad-ass brilliant creative self, regardless of the outer world’s response.  And when you find the outer tribe that recognizes you for who you are, celebrate the connection.

Bridging the Differences

Our posture and carriage say so much about who we are.

We tend to think of that as something that’s completely up to us.  All those folks who told us to stop slouching and stand up/sit up straight sure seemed to think so.

But we don’t live in a vacuum (yay, because, breathing!).  We’re surrounded by other people and their posture and carriage.

And furniture.  Don’t even get me started on the furniture (one size fits all?).

We influence each other’s posture, even when we’re not being excessively complimentary or emotionally abusive.

Just ask someone tall, especially a tall person surrounded by child-sized people.  What are their choices to get closer to eye level?

There’s hunching or stooping.  Lovely for interfering with full breathing or for circulation to that stuff up in the head like, oh, your eyes and ears and BRAIN!

There’s splaying legs wide.  Great for pulling the support right out from underneath you, so you’re propped up, with hips and knees that are going to let you down a whole lot sooner than normal.

Or ask someone surrounded by taller people.  How’s the neck feeling from constant craning?  Circulation issues again, stress on the spine, and a nervous system status of high alert.  Lots of fun.

Then there’s some version of ignoring real connection with others around us (which doesn’t necessarily require a height difference).  Head in the clouds, lost in thought.  Self-involved, only attending to objects or circumstances within “reach”.  Controlling everything so it’s convenient to our needs.

There’s no real answer to coping with the differences we each encounter daily.  Sure, if you’ve got platforms around to talk to your taller friends, rock and roll.  Likewise, good on ya, if you can get down on a knee to chat with the children (actually, good for you in lots of ways).  And, absolutely, find places and ways to meet each other eye to eye, where we are.

My real message is that our posture is going to take some attention, no matter who we are, if we want to continue relating to all the different people in our world.  And one of the simplest ways to do that is to spend 15 minutes a day lying on a firm surface, on your back with your knees bent and feet flat (those of you who are pregnant or who have back issues, check with your health care professional first).  It quickly and easily (with consistency – it’s not quite a magic bullet) realigns your spine and helps your nervous system recognize home base.  That’s why they call it “constructive rest”.

Of course, there’s more possible (and, yes, I can help with that), but don’t you deserve at least 15 minutes of healthy time out daily?  And, tell the truth, don’t you miss kindergarten nap-time, just a little?

Engaging with Quality

‘Tis the season for gift-giving frenzy.

Or something like that.

How did our highest aspirations for the bright evolution of the human soul get translated into a desire for more stuff?

I’m going to say that a good deal of it has to do with the way we experience our world.

Rassouli Divine Grace

If we have a sensual experience — one where we’re aware of the spirit that lives in all of what we taste, smell, touch, hear and see – we have quality in our material lives.  We have a relationship with living spirit in all its abundant forms.

Sunrise.  Birds overhead.  The sound of our child crying or, better yet, laughing.  The feel of a balmy breeze or icy wind.  Cookies baking, fresh horse manure or the dog’s breath in our nose.  Those cookies fresh out of the oven, the slippery slice of watermelon, the first morning sip of coffee on our tongue.

If we’re paying attention, there’s meaning and an internal response from us – an interaction with our world.  We allow ourselves to be moved.

If we’re not interacting, if we’re just sensing without awareness of the spirit of what we’re sensing, then we’re lacking the quality that makes us feel any lasting impact.  We’re still feeling hungry.  It’s the Chinese food of experience.  Or the endless dance recital, where only the first sparkle of a new costume or soundtrack wakes us up from our stupor.  We’re still in the same seat we were in at the beginning of the recital.

As the light grows, as the immanent Divine is manifested, as community ties deepen – whatever the central focus of your holidays, may you have a truly sensual experience this season.

Gratitude from the heart, not the habit

‘Tis the season again – that time when giving thanks comes up for reevaluation.  (Thanksgiving again in the United States, my non-US subscribers.  For those of you who don’t know, the traditional meal for the holiday is turkey.  That’ll be important later on.)

I was going to talk about a specific aspect of gratitude but once my pen got moving, I discovered I had something else to say.  So now I’ve got two years of newsletter posts in the bag.  Thank you, whatever muse feeds my writing.

So . . .  what wants to come out is directed toward those of us who say ‘thank you’ way too often, as well as to those of us who dismiss others’ difficulties with a call to find something to be grateful for.

Some of us don’t say ‘good bye’ or ‘see you’ when we finish a call or visit.  We say ‘thank you.’

If we’ve told a friend at least 70 times that we hate framed fluffy kitty pictures (yes, there’s at least one of you out there), we don’t say ‘you forgot that I hate framed fluffy kitty pictures, didn’t you?’ when that friend gives us a framed fluffy kitty picture (okay, I just like saying and picturing framed fluffy kitty pictures).  Instead, we say ‘thank you’.

It’s our go-to phrase.  You’d think it was our ticket to continued existence, the way we use it.

Others of us never met a moment that didn’t include gratitude, and only gratitude.

Your dog died?  So sorry, but aren’t these flowers from the vet lovely? And isn’t it great that your friends are all here?  And isn’t it wonderful that you still have two dogs, 4 cats and a pony in your fur family?  ‘You have so much to be grateful for.’

If a friend has been unsuccessfully looking for work for 6 months and is getting desperate and dispirited, we’re the ones who point out how much worse things could be or remind her that gratitude begets happiness and success.  We could even give her a framed fluffy kitty picture to show how much we care (and then she could say ‘thank you’).

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So what’s the matter with acknowledging that someone took the time to visit or thought to give us a gift?  Why wouldn’t that attitude contribute to our recognition of the ongoing gifts from the Universe?

Why wouldn’t we want to help someone out of pain and back into a brighter place?  Why wouldn’t gratitude be the connection to the potential new beginning in every present moment?

A mindless ‘thank you’ doesn’t tap into the gratitude stream the same way an enthusiastic and heartfelt expression of thanks does.  And a thanks for the tiny token underneath a steaming pile of what we hope can be used for fertilizer doesn’t really hold integrity when the pile isn’t acknowledged.

Yes, there is potential for gratitude in every moment.  Yes, the search for that gratitude can put us in touch with elements of our world that could use our recognition.

Sometimes, there are more pressing needs.  Like the need for someone to just be present through our discomfort.  Like the need to recognize our own value or to draw our own boundaries.

So, how about we save gratitude for the times and places we really feel it?  Connect with the Universe with integrity and let it know how you really feel.

May you find much to be truly grateful for this season.

When Nature Gets Too Real (yes this is a rerun)

If you feel like you’ve seen this before, you’re not dreaming or hallucinating or being delusional.  Since we’ve got déjà vu on flooding around the Gulf, I’m rerunning an earlier post.  The information below the line will all be new.

Sometimes Nature gets really overwhelming and it’s really hard to stay connected.  We’ve had a lot of that lately . . . floods, droughts, wildfires.  All pretty scary stuff.  Even from a distance, and especially when we’re in the midst of it.  Chaos in our climate.

If we look from macrocosm to microcosm, we see things like fevers or tumours or other reactions to the chaos that can develop in our physical systems.  Anxiety.  Debility.  Things that lead us to the fear of the other “D” word.

It can be really tempting to give up and pretend that we can dwell only in the spirit and mind.  We won’t even try to play with the big boys and girls.

Did you notice that word “pretend”?  Sorry to say, when we cut off consciousness to the physical, we’re also cutting off from mind and spirit.  They’re a package deal, folks.  Can you say “delusion”?

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So what do we do when nature/Nature gets that big and scary?

There’s a long and a short version of that story and they’re both spelled “m-e-d-i-t-a-t-i-o-n”.

We’ve got this amazing connector between our various aspects: breath.

The short version is, pay attention to your breathing when you’re confronted with the immensity and chaos of life.  Get all Greek goddess and just do it.

The long version is, pay attention to your breathing.  Really pay attention.  Which nostril is taking in more air at the moment?  What moves when you breathe?  Do you like exhaling more than inhaling?  Which takes longer?  Is every breath the same?  Do you breathe more into one side of the body than the other?  More into the front or back?  Are there sobs or sighs happening on the way in or out?

Look, you’re still alive, so you’ve been breathing “correctly” so far.  The point is not to do it “right”; it’s to be attentive to that basic connection between your body, mind and spirit.

You don’t really have a choice about staying with nature/Nature. Let your breath help you not to lose your mind or spirit as you stay with the difficult times in your body.

1607 Newsletter breathe


There are a lot of organisations helping in Houston.  Two boots on the ground that could use donations are the Houston Food Bank and the Houston Coalition for the HomelessAll Hands Volunteers is a national organisation specializing in disaster relief and rebuilding.

GreaterGood.org is rescuing people and their animals.  Austin Pets Alive! has been transporting animals from Houston to their no-kill shelter.

Because those who are affected are going to need help for years to come, I will be discounting sessions by 20% through the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018 when you send me proof that you’ve made a donation to one of these organisations.  So, make a donation, have a private session with me, get 20% off.

As our world gets further from our aims and goals, reaching for control is not an option.  I highly recommend daily meditation.  HeartMath has a beautiful meditation that changes monthly and is available any time of day.  Three times a day, you can synchronize your meditation with others around the globe.

Finding the New

Beginning something new is a thing, isn’t it?   Sometimes it’s something simple and exciting, like picking up a new book or trying that new restaurant in town.

Other times it’s more like that blank piece of paper waiting for the first brilliant word or the desire for that first note to break the silence with meaning – daunting, sometimes overwhelming.

Leaving all those expectations aside, what’s beginning really about?  How do we find meaningful beginnings?  How do we find beginnings that will lead to something?

If we want to begin something new, we’re looking for the opportunity to see the world in a different way, to experience ourselves in a new way.  How do we do that?

Well, one way is to just stop and look around.  Even if you haven’t left your house for months, what haven’t you looked at lately?  How often do you look up?  What does the top of the refrigerator look like?  What’s down by the floorboards?

What if you turned yourself upside down to look around?

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We really get set in habits and patterns, don’t we?  So we can support a new beginning by breaking our visual habits.

How about we look at those great expectations?  What if, instead of grandiose plans, we focused on changing habits?  Small ones, even.  Like the small changes you can make in noticing the world around you.

I’m sure you’ve heard some version of the butterfly/tornado story by now.  Just as a reminder, the poetic version of “small changes can have big effects” says that if a butterfly in Brazil flaps its wings, a meteorologist in Texas will have to change his forecast to include a tornado.  Welcome to non-literal chaos theory.

So, if you’re ready to take off into the whirlwind of growth that Spring promises each year, how about making small changes in the way you pay attention to the world around you?  Let a small change in habit be your breakthrough to a new beginning.

Supporting Your Resolutions

Making a resolution really winds up being making a series of mini-resolutions.  The problem is, we usually miss the little ones with our focus on the big end-game.  And that’s why so many of us “fail” at our new year resolutions.

By now, you’ve probably had plenty of time to find “failure”.  Crazy that it only takes a couple of weeks, isn’t it?  You tried to stick to your new movement program and the first cold, dark morning, you rolled over and gave it up.  You held out on the new way of eating and then had a binge fest in front of a screen binge.  You sought to understand alternative points of view for days and then had a verbal slash fest when that last pin dropped on your last nerve.

See, the thing is . . . these aren’t failures.  Not even temporary ones.  They’re the moments that let you know where you need more than a running start to get to the big goal.

It’s just a matter of acknowledging all the little steps along the way to any goal.  You didn’t get to your professional status just through force of will: you got an education, you made contacts, you took the jobs – even the ones you didn’t really want — that contribute to a body of experience that would support the position you now hold.  You didn’t become a “grown up” just by wishing it: you lived a bunch of years that filled in the gaps.  You didn’t just sight read that Faure Elegie at Carnegie Hall: there was a lot of learning and prep time before the concert Catch my drift?

Yes, there are those wonderful windfalls when you wind up at the end of the path straight from the beginning.  Wormholes.  Chutes and Ladders.  But if you’re struggling with your resolution, by definition, that ain’t you right now.

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So, now is when you back up and see what mini-resolutions you need to set to reach your big one.  “I resolve to arrange my day for lunchtime/evening/select-another-option movement when the morning is cold and dark and I don’t want to get out of bed.”  (Just one possibility out of manymanymany.)  “I resolve to have available the biggest tray of popcorn, celery and carrot sticks I’ve ever seen before I sit down to watch 6,000 episodes of Supernatural.”  “I resolve, twice a week, to find a train crossing where I can scream all the things I wanted to say but didn’t.”

And you set a new line-up of mini-resolutions as often as you need to, to support you in working toward the one big one.  Instead of a line of excuses and obstacles, you’ve got a set of stepping stones to reach the new you you’re aiming for.

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