Marching Towards our Deepest Intentions

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Millions of women are marching today to let their voices of protest be heard.  Marching towards a better, more equal future.  They are turning towards our political reality and confronting the forces in place. How about your inner reality? What do you want to change that may require a turning towards, perhaps with the determination of a march? 


After the Holidays and an energetic turning outwards, it is now January and that pushing energy needs a rest.  Again it's the natural time for this - rainy, colder, darker, perfect for slowing down and taking notice of how you are and where your are. Tapping into also what you are hoping for in the future.  A turning towards the interior life and body, both of which could probably use a big dose of self care.  And the future is now. 


How do we do this?   Not in the same sense of checking something else off our to do list or even in declaring your New Years resolutions, most of which apparently go unnoticed by February.


It's a determined shift in attitude, or a change in perspective, and setting aside the time to internally check in.  It's a time for de-cluttering of home, heart, and mind - time for real conversations, quiet and rest, and time to dig deep below the everyday expectations to find out just how we are and what we want for ourselves this New Year.   And as a protest March relies on the supportive group, this interior work too may need some outside support - friends, family, or professional resources.


Taking care of a cold requires lots of orange juice, vitamins, extra rest, all because our bodies tell us that we need extra self care when we get sick.  How about stress?  At times our bodies too are telling us we are stressed and this needs care as well.   I have been known to say "I don't really have much stress in my life."  Recently various external situations changed overnight creating a lot of stress and Bingo all of my chronic issues flared up.  Issues I was sure were not related to stress but turns out stress is a factor, always a factor.  Which is why taking the time to be quiet and honestly turning toward what you really need for yourself is the self care your body has been calling for.  And now is the perfect time!


Singhashri, meditation teacher and Breathworks trainer, warns against a brash assessment when turning towards.  Encouraging us to turn towards with an appropriate amount of positivity or else risk slipping into self defeatism or doubt.  The turning towards, yes is choosing to look at what we typically want to ignore and more important, it is creating a space for something else to happen.  


So I'm going to be turning towards a fresh sense of self care and wonderment.   How about you -  what would you like to turn toward and how will you do it?  Just as important how will you remember to do it? 


Nothing is more intimate than noticing the breath in the body, meditating with no expectations except for coming home to just who this body is and what it needs. On February 12th the San Francisco Buddhist Center will be offering meditation classes again.  I will be co-leading the Mindfulness of Breathing, an age old practice of bringing awareness to your breath and I hope you can join me.  Take advantage of this fresh New Year, naturally a reflective time, and turn towards the things that are calling you and important for your body right now.   


March On !  

Choosing To Yield

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Yield, such an amazing word. We don't often think about this word unless we are driving and even then there is some apprehension in the action of yielding. I suppose this could be because there is an element of uncertainty, of vulnerability. And yet Yield can be such an interesting word - soft, generous, intentional, purposeful - while ultimately taking you where you want to go, though perhaps a little slower.

 So yield in our driving, in our striving? Not only can we yield in our actions but also in our bodies. Softening the tensions in my shoulder blades, quads, between my eyes. So many places that tend to grip in Anticipation, as if putting the brakes on. Yield is a generous gesture that is inviting flow, not braking, and when approached from a mindset of cooperation can be a graceful movement forward.

 Augusta Moore, my Feldenkrais teacher, asks us to consider yielding in our cells. On a cellular level to soften, to be receptive and curious, to stop our habitual responses for just a minute and see how our bodies might respond in a different way than what might be predicted. To encourage this deeper yield it is helpful to be in a safe environment, reflective, mindful state.

Vidyamala Burch, the founder of Breathworks, has a meditative practice of leaning into your difficult situation as if leaning the weightiness of the situation onto a bale of hay, noticing how the bale yields a little under your weight, softens the hardness of resistance. I find this helpful in letting my imagination understand what it means to yield on a cellular level - because really who knows how to do that?? It's something worthwhile learning and experimenting with.

Just for a moment consider "What part of your body wants to yield?" Is there something in your mental, physical, or emotional being that would benefit from slowing down, stepping back, taking a deep breath, and yielding to the sweetness of the moment? What is calling you to pause and soften? Could it be a warm ray of sunlight on your face, a tight sore back that lets out a little complaint each time you move, or a sense of overwhelm that feels just so darn uncomfortable. The signs are all around us and we get to choose our approach - screeching brakes, distracted confusion, OR gently, with full intention, leaning into the situation and yielding into the flow.

Often we find ourselves stressed out in overwhelm and the yield signs seem to be screaming at us to pay attention. But wait I don't have time to soften, what about my responsibilities? My To Do list? The many expectations I carry on my shoulders? So it seems easier to ignore those yield signs, go into overdrive and before you know it - Crash !! Lots of drama and disappointment to go around. Stopped action and possibly some collateral damage.

The roller coaster of surge and crash with little yielding might be an exciting life for some or satisfying for a short period of time and then sooner or later the accumulative effect on the body says no more. Think about your car, or your spine, or your gut - just how many crashes can they go through before they no longer function in the ways you need them to? The mind too grows weary of constantly pushing upstream with little respite, sheer will power only goes so far and how pleasant is that?

 So where in your life is there the opportunity to experience the Yield?  It could be in yoga class, during a work discussion, figuring out with your partner how to manage a difficult situation, or even right now - check in, is there anywhere you are holding tension or notice tightness in your body? Let your breath find and soften this place, imagining your muscles and skin giving in a little to the weight of gravity.

I think that sometimes we worry "If I slow down I might just stop, or worse I might fail." And I would like to suggest that if you give it a try you might just find yourself right in the middle of that easy flow of life you've been dreaming about.


What Works for You?

Reflecting Pond

Reflecting Pond

Happy Holidays !  It's that time of year to step back and reassess where you are and where you want to be going.  This is important !  You have to know where you are in all honesty (Point A) before you can chart the course for where you want to go (Point B) and then how you might go about getting there.  This takes a little bit of quiet, reflective time.  Are you willing? 

I always like to start off in positive territory, sometimes needing to stay there for quite awhile.

What was good about this past year?

 What am I proud about?

Take some time to drop into that question and celebrate, acknowledge, maybe even gloat a little. Try not to be distracted by the self critical tendency that we all know so well and really spend some time dropping into what went right for you as if it was a good long soak.  Examine what qualities were present for you when things went right, who was there, what were the surrounding conditions, and what you remember feeling emotionally.   Just soak on in, put the music on, take out your journal, or watercolors, and spend some high quality time with yourself and what feels good.

So... how to get more of this in your life for the coming year?  More of the qualities and situations that let you shine.  Or maybe you would like to move forward, hoping to grow from your past successes.  Mo is better!   How do you set up the conditions to help take you where it is you want to go?  It could be as simple as being around supportive friends, or setting aside Sunday afternoons for just you.   You might need to make some requests at work or at home.  Hey this works for me and I would like your support in not loosing sight, in creating more of this.

Also as you take into account what works for you, what you feel positive about, it's a good time to dream forward.  

What do I really want for myself this next year?

 How can I keep the things that support me a top priority?

 What do I need to be my best, boldest self?

 I myself had a really difficult 2017 year.  Health is my challenge and time and time again I bumped up against how I wanted to be versus how I was feeling.  Large gaps in there.   And in the midst of these challenges I was lucky enough to get a new puppy !! , and a new hip,  co-lead my first retreat - gulp - and visit some old friends, while doing work that is meaningful.  So something is working for me and I need to acknowledge what this is so I can hopefully move more easily through the future challenges - health or other.   Even just acknowledging this is good fuel for feeding that state of mind of " Ok now what is next?"

So if you are in the doldrums, catch yourself being very self judgmental, or feeling a little unsure of where it is you are going,  time to ask yourself

 "What is working for me?"

Or maybe you feel ready, on the cusp for your next great move, time to get your tools, or as one client says her allies, in line and go for it!

I would love to hear about your inquiries !   Stay in touch.  I have many things that I rely on for support - meditation, space in my days, reflective movement - and as 2017 ends I am feeling very appreciative of my physical therapist,, because - Hey this works for me!  




Try these 5 ways to Breakthrough Challenge

How to find ways toward that bigger expanse!

How to find ways toward that bigger expanse!

Life - the highs, the lows, the challenges.  Let's talk Challenge and our response to challenge. There are many - Maybe a difficult relationship, not feeling vibrant or healthy in our body, overwhelmed by daily demands, or conversely just plain bored and dulled with the daily grind.  Any sound familiar??
Most often we will respond in our habitual way, because that is easiest, and when we are under stress - we go for easy.  And I am guessing the popular ways (because I have done them all myself) to respond are; ignore and deny, anger, dipping into self pity, resignation, distractions, or blindly powering through. All of these in addition to not working very well, build up in our bodies and create havoc - headaches, fatigue, unhappiness or worse.
Let's look a little more closely at overwhelm and resistance. Overwhelm is a popular predicament - many of us just feel so bogged down and lost in overwhelm. Did you know that overwhelm is a version of being in victim mode? That feeling of powerlessness, giving up, not taking responsibility for life's situation, why oh why is this happening to me?
And then there is resistance - my personal favorite. Resistance is an energy zapper, an avoidance scheme, heavy and exhausting. It has a fear base to it and makes everything seem so much harder than it needs to be.  Now that is a challenge!  The poet David Whyte wisely says ~ "The price of our vitality is the sum of all of our fears."
What if we were to turn toward this challenge and get really curious, honestly curious? What is going on underneath the layers?  What do we feel in our body?  If you were to take a wild guess, what do you think is feeding this challenge? And then continue diving deep into it from much to uncover !
This may sound not so interesting or difficult but the challenge looms! And that in and of itself is uncomfortable or maybe even painful. So breaking through a habitual response might really be worth it.  Recognizing where we really are with a situation and acknowledging the responsibility we hold in this, is the first step to meeting a challenge. 

5 ways to get Started with this process of breaking through.

Try on a different perspective, looking at the issue from a new angle. Perhaps imaging stepping back, way back, so that you get the big picture, as if you were a movie director, or a stranger peering in, What Patterns Do You See?   

Honor what your body is telling you it wants to do.  Listening in for the Clues of tightness, guardedness, deadness, maybe even a sense of nausea - all tell tale signs that there is another, easier way possible. Then trust your intuition on what that might be

Embrace the looseness and Lightness of Being Creative. This could be wearing mismatched clothes, dancing by yourself with the music blaring, coloring out of the lines, whatever your routine is try to do it, approach it, differently.  Hint:  No one does creative perfectly, in fact imperfect is better.  

Ask for Help. There are times when we all need to talk with a friend, a relative, a professional. Pick your confidante wisely so that it feels safe to be vulnerable and genuine. This offers not only support but possibly new views into what feels like a bleak situation.

Make Time to Be Alone out in nature. There is a lot of beauty and wisdom to absorb in those silently present 400 year old oak trees, million year old boulders. Perhaps lie down on the earth, contemplating the ever changing clouds, our expansive blue California skies. Experiencing the innate truth that everything changes, your situation is not fixed.

 So pick one, trying to keep your mind open to new possibilities without going into your habitual pattern. Recently I was lucky enough to expand my training with Lucid Living, an advanced program that helps me help my clients move past what they find challenging into a place that feels better in every aspect of their life. If you are curious, or want to share something about all of this, reach out. I am here for you and believe that our challenges can connect us in this evolving dance of life.


10+ Ways, How do you Remember?

Colors can be strong reminders also...

Colors can be strong reminders also...

So honestly, how is it going?   It is one month into 2017 and if you are like most of us you had some new intentions, maybe even resolutions, for the New Year.  Minimally an energetic wish to have a good year, to be healthy, to feel happy.  May it be so !

You have probably already figured out that wishing it so is usually not enough. You have to direct yourself so that your actions align with your intentions, and it does really help to have these guide posts of intentions.  Because then...the weather got in the way,brrr so cold.  The political firestorms likely pulled you away, brrr so awful.  Or some extra drama in your life provided just enough distraction that I forgot to do this and I really, really wanted it.

Which brings us to kindness, an attitude of self kindness. I have noticed that so many people are hard on themselves, self critical, and sometimes their worse enemy, a saboteur to the things they hold near and dear in their heart.  It must be a cultural thing because it is so prevalent.  And knowing this, bringing awareness to this tendency, we can purposely try to cultivate the opposite. A warm hearted wish of love and support for all that you do and all that you are.  Basic kindness to balance out the self loathing for all that we are not.

Kindness is a foundation of Buddhism and I have given it a lot of thought. How to be mindfully kind to ourselves and others?  Even when the temptation, the habit is to be other than that.  And do not under estimate the power of habits; the ones we learn, the ones we are born with, the ones we nourish as they sneak up on us again and again.  It helps to remember that we want to change this habit, that we want to take that first risky step into not so well known territory. Yet how to remember?   Buddhists meditate each day, umm - almost each day, to remember what is most important to them, how to be kind out in the rough and tumble world.

Other Ways to Remember - At Last!

Pin up a photo, an image that is a metaphorical reminder

Change your screenshot on your phone

Carry something in your pocket, something around your neck, your wrist

Leave a message on your phone or send yourself a repeating scheduled email

Make a big public statement on Facebook-(tilts more toward shame than kindness)

Have some skin in the game - pay someone to guide you where you want to go - a physical trainer, a coach, an organizer

Schedule regular, 2-3 times a week sessions, block out your calendar - not to be encroached upon time - for action, focus, or creating

Reflect on what might happen if you don't follow through, the ugly possibilities. You can exaggerate here!

Commit to that first risky step and then recommit, and then recommit again

Tell a close friend who will kindly remind you, ask you, So honestly, how's it going?

Whatever you want for yourself this year- more kindness, healthier habits, a more rewarding job- it does take a strong intention and an acknowledgement that it is a process, a training. And it also takes courage to really change. Often you need support and encouragement in one form or another. So pick your method and go forth to that place that is calling you, and may 2017 be the year that brings you what you have really, deeply wanted for yourself!

And...let me know if you have found something that works for you.   You can share below or send me a note - don't be shy.  In 2017 we are going to need to support each other. 

A Pattern of Rest and Digest

Birds do it, bees do it, even you can do it - when we remember to in this busy, stressful world - we also can stop and relax.  I am sure you are very aware of how the fight or flight pattern feels in your body.  But did you know there is also the rest and digest pattern which feeds and supports the nervous and digestive systems?

Your nervous system needs time for this rest and digest pattern.  Too much fight or flight can send that system, governed by the vagus nerve, haywire, with all kinds of unfortunate results and discomfort.  Rashes, mood swings, anxiety, or worse.
And the digestion system too needs that relaxed unwired time for balancing and health.  Recently researchers are discovering that the bacteria in our gut not only helps digest our food but also is home to our immune system and has been referred to as our 2nd brain.   An undercurrent of bad digestion not only makes us feel- bloated, sore, irritated, tired- you fill in the blank- but it also effects any healing our body needs to do for various reasons.  So probably not good to ignore the signs of an unhappy gut.
Animals know what they need to do to survive.  Watching my dog I learned the art of chilling out, smelling the wild world in the breeze, and being fully present in this amazing moment - all while stretched out in his favorite position of rest.   And yet we can loose this innate sense, forget those joyful moments of self connection because....there is just so much going on.  Always behind schedule, distracted by the push and pull of getting things done, maybe not feeling all that well and pushing, pushing, pushing.
So how can we remember?   Recently I have been thinking about ritual - an act, a gesture - that connects us to an emotional response, maybe one of memory.  Athletes have rituals to help them find their groove, put them in their rhythm of connection to body, muscle memory, and mind state.   Religions also use ritual for much of the same thing.
We can have health and wellness rituals too.  Maybe you already do?  Like that morning brushing of your teeth and ...what else?  What else can you build into your day as a way toward health and connecting to the natural rhythm of the breath, of the body?
I rest every afternoon, get my neck supported just right, put the silky eye pillow on, and that does it!  My body knows this is the time to sink into the gravity of the earth and into a deep state of rejuvenation and rest. My ritual sets me up so that I instantly go there, sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes for 90.  What I need changes daily.
I also use ritual in my meditation practice and to ground my daily life.  Habits, schedules, patterns - whatever helps you be where you need to be, when you need to be there.  And sometimes that place is not one of doing but one of relaxing.
So how will help you remember?  What will help you get your groove back?  Some ideas;

  • A slow morning stretch routine
  • yoga class - they come in all levels and styles!
  • Journaling - late night or early morning ponderings
  • Reading - what would support you?
  • Meditation - join a sitting group or alone
  • Practicing whatever appeals to you emotionally, personally

And what do you need to eliminate when making space in your already full life for this practice?   What will allow you the time of a ritual to rest and digest?
Dedicated to the memory of my dear dog Renzo, my resting companion and reminder, that some of the best times are the ones of doing nothing.  


Letting Go - What Are your Options?

The season is changing and spring brings many wonderful topics to mind, but honestly I need to write about what is happening for me in real time and that is healing.  Healing from the insertion of a new ceramic hip - wowza the things they can do these days!

And wrapped into all of this is the word pain and opening to the vulnerability of feeling pain - emotional, physical, material.  I have realized for years that my body tightens as a natural response to pain and intellectually I know this is not all that helpful. It cuts down on circulation, prohibits full range of movement, blocks instead of opens, for starters.

Last week I had a chance to zero in and experience this so clearly for myself. My body was swollen everywhere so I bravely scheduled a lymphatic massage with Dusa, a gentle healer from my past.  With very gentle pressure in all the right places and in all of the right directions I mentally went with her as she released built up pressure and blockages.  I had to focus in on what was most painful and then.... I had to let it go!  I had to turn toward the pain on a cellular level and imagine it draining away.  I was not passive or avoidant, I was an active partner in healing my own body.

The letting go felt like the floodgates crashing open as far as releasing so much fear and allowing so much creative movement.  And it was not just physical. I was aware of letting go of expectations - why didn't they reach out to me, how come they don't seem to understand?  Could I open up my understanding of their capacity, of their individual styles and not expect others to do it my way.  Were these emotional blockages mine? Theirs? Belonging to both of us more likely as receiving or letting in, is deeply connected to letting go.  And irritability, another reaction I watched replay over and over again, as I desperately wanted something different to be my experience. Aware of this response is my first step in being able to choose to instead, let it go.

The great irony is that by holding on so tightly we actually bring what we fear or avoid that much closer. There is no chance that the thing- physical, emotional, material - could possibly move on while being gripped so tightly. The only choice is that it becomes a weighty burden to carry around, possibly for years?  If not a cognizant burden then a visceral confusion, an inner conflict that tangles the senses and there is not a lot of free flow in that!

So... If you were wondering what is that image at the top of the page, or if all of these words around pain, vulnerability, irritability, are just not doing it for you, there is the very physical option of literally letting go of some of your material burdens.  A very tangible, real experience that gives a hint of what more is possible.  Decluttering the stuff you've been clinging to so tightly, not really sure why, is about to get easier with the new app letgo, kind of a cross between Craigslist and Instagram, helps open those floodgates and you too can experience the freedom of letting go - why not give it a try? 

Healing comes in many possibilities.

Finding Resolve - Simple Tips to Up your Chances

Brave woman scaling the face

If you look carefully, there's a young woman scaling the face of that rock and I can only imagine what brought her there, what will get her to the top.  Inner strength, determination, and courage - we all draw upon our resolve especially at the beginning of the year as we set our resolutions, intentions, and goals. I am not going to be rock climbing at Joshua Tree any time soon although I will need resolve to get me where I want to be with my health, with strengthening my body. I am going to need resolve for changing habits, or more important changing the conditions that set up habits.

Resolve -  n.  a firm determination to do something.  Latin roots of, to loosen, which I love when you think in relation to habits or tendencies.  Our habits can bind us, our resolve can free us!
But first things first - did you make a resolution? It's kind of like the lottery - you have to pick your numbers and actually buy your ticket for a chance to win. And you can increase your odds with the following suggestions;

  •  Be specific - describe in detail what your goal entails. The time of day, the duration, the specific result you are seeking.
  •  Write this commitment down, in a way that you can carry It with you, mentally and physically.  Imprint it in your schedule so there is no chance you will forget ... or ignore.
  • Plan for success, Think ahead, plan each day. What is going to create space in my day for this?  Is there anything I need to reprioritize? What might get in the way? And then make the necessary adjustments because you want this - this is your winning ticket!
  • Tell someone - select carefully because you want this person to hold you accountable. You are not going to be tempted by distraction with this person on your side, who is creatively tuned to your personal challenges.
  • Reflect on why this is important for you. What do to have to gain by following through?  What do you have to lose? And what is important about each?

Recent neuroscience studies have made some very favorable discoveries.  The patterns in our brains can be changed, they are pliable and can be shaped into new patterns with repeated effort. Just like a well worn hiking path that for years has directed you from point A to B, you can forge a new path in the brain, literally. The neurons that fire together when you make a choice, or set an action, repeated over time will wire together. With practice your tendency to reach for the sweetest, largest desert falls away and you actually prefer that perfect pear or juicy tangerine.

This year I resolved to have a disciplined training program after 6 months of inactivity. And that first week saying this out loud, imprinting my intention in my mind, did help get me to the gym when I felt the pull to be elsewhere. And then life happened; surgery for the dog, injections for the hip, then that nasty chest cold going around, so I found I did need resolve, a resolve of patience and acceptance. That was my training for January.

It's been just over a month into 2016 and not too late to reset your efforts. This could be the year of the big win.  Is there anything you would like to share about resolve, habits, or making changes?   I encourage you to comment below and go public.  Make your most important aspirations real - now is the time, and you deserve it !