Video Blog – 4

August 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Video

What is happiness? How can we go about achieving a life where we feel more content?

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The Beauty Of Breathing

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Many years ago, when I was still a dancer, I took a workshop with a woman from Argentina about using movement as a tool to help us connect with our psyche.

One of the things I most remember about this workshop is how shallow we breathe specially being that breath is literally the fuel we need to create energy to live.

Ancients commonly linked the breath to a life force. The Hebrew Bible refers to God breathing the breath of life into clay to make Adam a living soul (nephesh). It also refers to the breath as returning to God when a mortal dies. The terms “spirit,” “qi,” and “psyche” are related to the concept of breath.  So why aren’t we more aware of breathing?

I think we are often in such a hurry and so disconnect from nature and our physical selves that we don’t even realize that we are oxygen depleted.  Also, it seems to me that whatever we can do without thinking i.e. breathing is one less thing to be worry about.   But we are missing out on a free and simple method to infuse ourselves with energy and calm.

For almost a thousand years, meditation has used breathing to connect with the self.  But we don’t have to be meditating to use the breath’s healing powers of the breath.  Remembering to take long and full breaths a few times a day will also do the trick, especially when we feel stressed.

So make a change and start breathing with awareness.  You will feel more relaxed, gain energy and be connected with our own body.

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How Can We Love Ourselves More?

April 25, 2010 by  
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Be in tune with yourself –

There are a number of emotions that tend to hide what’s really going on with us.  Anger for example, is a feeling that often hides sadness and low self esteem.  If we are not in tune with ourselves we will react based on the anger we are feeling, compounding the problems, without really addressing what is really creating this destructive feeling within us.  Once we are in tune with ourselves we take care of us and life flows better.

Be your lover and best friend –

Once you are in tune with yourself you know how to take care of you when you are feeling blue.  We all have “things” that soothes us.  For example: a bath, music, meditation, wine, food, a walk.  Whatever makes you feel better, when you are in tune with yourself, you will do – just like a friend or a lover would – and soothe yourself.  Every time you take care of yourself you learn to love YOU more.

Be kind to yourself –

We often have more compassion for others than to ourselves.  All of us on this planet struggle in one way or another.  Rejoice your accomplishments – even if you think them small – and forgive your “mistakes”.  Life is about the journey, it’s about learning and changing.  We can only make changes when we make “mistakes”.

Live to the beat of your own drum –

We are all unique individuals.  We all see and process the world in a different way.  Be honest with yourself and live your life as your unique self.

And if you love yourself, you can truly love someone else.

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Go Ahead And Unplug

April 20, 2010 by  
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boy and the sky

boy and the sky

We all know more does not equal better.  So why do we all have bought into this idea that if we aren’t busy 24/7 we are unproductive?  We have to realize in all the running around, mobile phones, computers, internet, we are leaving behind ourselves, family and friends.  We are also risking losing the quality of our creativity, love and sex- which are life’s energy sources – because these feelings and inspirations need space, calm and attention to thrive.

Information and technology are a great advancement in human development but they are suppose to be in addition to our relationship to ourselves and others and not replacements.  We have become a nation of stressed out overachievers without becoming even one ounce happier.

So if you are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed you have to ask yourself if it is worth it.  Can you adjust your life just a bit so you can actually draw energy and power from within?  Yes, should be the answer.  Carve out a little bit of time everyday to do what feeds you.  Is that meditation? A nice meal? A delicious cup of coffee consumed with time and attention? Is it playing with your dog or cat without thinking about the things you need to do?  Is it a glass of wine?  Whatever it is, an action (even if it is to lay down with our eyes closed) done with all of our attention have the ability to recharge us.

So go ahead and unplug.

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Sacred Time

April 17, 2010 by  
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I’ve been thinking about unplugging and what that means.

Much has been said about all the time we spend on the cell, computer, DVR, TV etc.

So recharging is a must.  But before you say you don’t have the time or the money let me tell you that you can do it on the cheap and in a short time.

For me recharging means slowing down enough to enjoy a good glass of wine, a good meal and my home.  My home is my Tara – for you who maybe too young to have seen “Gone With The Wind”, Tara is the home where Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) finds her strength, rent it today.  One of the best movies ever made.  Anyway…

I realize I am fortunate to have a Tara.  I realize that many people are still searching for a place to call home while I have found mine.   But regardless, I do know we all have something that is special to us.  Find what that is for you and do it.  If you have kids, send them to your family or in-laws for a night and do it.  If you are restricted financially, there are still many things that can recharge you without costing you lots of money or time.  A bath? A meal? A glass of wine? Meditation?

Again, for me the simple action of slowing down and actually being able to savor a glass of wine, a good meal and my yard, is enough to make me feel I’m recharged and I’m ready to tackle whatever obstacle life is presenting me.  All I need to do is slow down to appreciate my wine, my meal, my yard.

Find your Tara, strengthen and recharge yourself and embrace your life.

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Tips For Managing Your Stress Hormones

April 1, 2010 by  
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This is a reprint from Fred Krazeise’s blog, Empowered and Fit. In this article he breaks down a piece in Prevention   Magazine that details how cortisol affects us, and how we can affect it back! Oh, the power we hold….

When I meet with clients for the first time, one of the questions I ask is ‘How much stress do you have in your life?’ Often, a client will respond by saying she doesn’t suffer from stress at all. And I usually respond by saying, ‘Oh, really?’

We usually don’t realize how stress affects us, because our body does a good job of adapting to pressures put on it. And I think in our society (certainly here in the Washington, DC, metro area), we are often encouraged to wear stress like a badge of honor. We carry our Blackberry’s with us at all times, we don’t take vacation or time off, we work long hours, we don’t get enough sleep, and in these difficult economic times, many people are putting off seeing their doctors or otherwise caring for themselves. These factors and many more contribute to the rise of the “stress hormone”, cortisol.

No don’t get me wrong, a little stress can be a good thing. Cortisol is produced by your adrenal system and it helps to regulate your blood pressure and immune system. It can help you increase your level of energy as well as improve your ability to fight off infection. According to an article published in the February edition of Prevention Magazine, just a little bit of cortisol can: …Continued

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I Hear You

March 23, 2010 by  
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Below is John’s writing.  He wrote it thinking about his wife who has recently past away.

Your voice is as subtle
as the sound of silence.
I hear your whisper
steady and intense.

Your breath is as natural
as the scent of fresh air.
I inhale and exhale
in meditation and prayer.

Your touch is as soft
as a swift gentle breeze,
I feel the chills
in one heart squeeze.

Your sight is as clear
as a crisp sunny day.
I have insight
when I meditate and pray.

Your taste is as pure
as water from a stream.
I am afloat
in the wake of a dream.

Your wisdom is as bright
as the truth you bestow.
I am inspired
by what you know.

John

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Working Hard At Being My Own Best Friend

January 16, 2010 by  
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Why and what are the most thought of words in my brain these days.  Why do we struggle?  Why all the effort? What is it all for?  And just plainly why and what.

To try to come up with any kind of possible answer I have been spending more time than usual hanging with myself.  Checking in and finding out more about this person I live with.  It’s a bit of an odd concept, get to know oneself, as if we are two separate individuals; one that just is and the other who works at getting to know the first one.

But how many of us really know ourselves?  And how many of us spend enough time with ourselves?  I’m not talking about time in front of our computers or TV.  I’m talking about time to listen to our thoughts, frustrations, hurts and pleasures.

We drive, we work, we eat, we are on our iPods, cell phones, chat-rooms but do we ever sit quietly and ask ourselves: how are we?  What’s bugging us?  What’s making us happy?

As philosophy is the cousin of existentialism and self reflection, I went digging through the Greek philosophers and found an interesting answer Antisthenes gave when asked what philosophy meant to him; he said the ability to hold converse with myself.

Now philosophy’s cousin – meditation – aims at giving ourselves time to be quiet and reflect.  It also works at making us present.  We are so often thinking of the past and of the future, that the present is almost never truly experienced.

Living requires us being in touch with ours senses and not just locked up in our heads.  Try washing your hands in water but truly being present in the moment.  Try making love and really feeling all the sensations.  Try eating an apple and getting lost in its crunches. Being present makes life be a completely different experience.

Being my own best friend also requires that I do something fulfilling for myself on a daily basis.  For me it means; a nice meal, a glass of outstanding wine, playing with my dogs or just sitting outside in the yard.

The bottom line is: in this world where we are bombarded with information and are asked to run and make decisions every minute of our lives, so it becomes easy to lose our sense of self.  And the only way of having any balance is by checking in.  So I for one want to be my friend.  No, I actually want to be my best friend.  Because I am the only one that knows every place and every person I ever met.  And I am the only one who no matter what will always be with me.  So I better be my own best friend.

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The Human Mind

November 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

I had lunch the other day with a fellow who held a rather dim view of the process of psychotherapy. He referred to its methodology as “hideously inefficient”, while granting that it actually served some valid purpose. A severe case of damning with faint praise. My somewhat defensive response ( I am currently in therapy myself, and there was also a friend present who is a therapist herself ) was that the hideous inefficiency of the process lies mostly within the human mind itself. I thought I was just trying to come up a clever response (which I was ), but it also strikes me that there is something to the idea. After all, the problems that plague the mind don’t lend themselves to fixes that are both quick and lasting. The quick ones, such as mind-altering substances, don’t last, whereas the array of options that hold out the possibility for real growth and transformation are invariably arduous and plodding in nature.

We were on a lunch break from a daylong Buddhist meditation retreat and the comment got me thinking about the innumerable lifetimes the Buddhists speak of in describing the journey toward enlightenment. I wonder whether this fellow has gauged the efficiency of a path that measures progress not in years but in lifetimes. Whether one takes this terminology literally or figuratively it does point to the laborious, lengthy and difficult task of reconfiguring the human mind in a way that accords consistently with a happy state.

The persistence of any of these algorithms or systems – the numerous forms of modern psychotherapy, as well as the variety of ancient spiritual disciplines – that are aimed at the problems of the human mind, points to the fact that human existence is plagued by a set of stubborn problems that simply won’t fade quietly away. The mind seems to be very good at solving an almost unlimited array of worldly problems with great efficiency. However, when it comes to resolving the thorny problems that beset its own nature, it keeps falling down on the job. Which isn’t really a problem at all, so long as we keep on getting up.

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