Splash Into Calm: Find joy in the mundane

There are so many tasks throughout our day we deem unimportant but necessary to accomplish.  Before we know it, a big portion of our day is spent “getting tasks over with”, and we miss out on many opportunities for enjoyment..

Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment says: “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love—even the most simple action.”

There are simple practices that will cultivate the moment-by-moment experience that both the yoga text and Tolle are speaking about. Give this a try next time you clean, wash the dishes, dust, iron, sweep, or do any other tedious task:

  • Take a few breaths and feel your feet on the floor.
  • Scope out what needs to be done.
  • Pick a place to begin.
  • With each movement, watch how the object you are cleaning changes.
  • Notice the state of your body. If you are uncomfortable, shift your alignment.
  • If you find your awareness drifting away, reset your attention to what you are doing.
  • Continue to notice each step of the process until you finish.
  • Now, look at the end result and notice the changes.
  • Check in and become aware of how you feel.

When you bring this deeper level of awareness to your activities, you will notice how much more there is to appreciate throughout your day. The smallest shift will open you to a variety of opportunities that enrich and uplift your life in a way that you could not imagine.

Let me know in the comments below how this simple technique shifted your experience accomplishing the task.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Mistakes: No Big Deal

I left for a relaxing beach trip with my husband knowing I had quite a lot of work to get finished for my book. With a full plate, we both decided that a change in scenery was needed. After a long drive, as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that my focus had been on my book and I had forgotten to write my Wednesday post.   I have not missed a week for over a year.

I allowed myself to let it go for the evening and slept well.  It makes me realize that we are human and no matter how disciplined we are or hard we try, we will make mistakes.  It is what weI do after the mistake that makes the difference to our serenity.

The tools I teach help me on a daily basis to move away from reaction, and move toward a healthy response.  It took a few simple breaths to slow me down enough to realize that forgetting to post a blog was no big deal. 

I guess the moral of this post is that we are human; we will make mistakes, get confused, and forget from time to time.  The part of the equation that we do have control over is what we do next.  Take the well needed pause so you can treat yourself with patience and kindness.  As I sit with my cup of coffee, I feel calm, centered and grateful that I have a choice.

Let me know in the comments below what you do when you forget, get confused or make a mistake.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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My New Book on its Way!

Yes, if is around the corner—my first book is in its final stages.

The entire process reminds me of childbirth.  I am now in labor and I can assure you that it is quite uncomfortable, even painful at times.  The due date of Custom Calm Chronicles first book, Splash into Calm is at the end of August.  As with any estimate due date, we are hoping for an early delivery, but I must wait until it is ready.  This process cannot be rushed. 

In my joy of the upcoming birth of my book, one of my helpful professionals wisely said “after it is born, you have to raise it!”  The reality of this stopped me in my tracks.  Once the book is published, I must market my new infant.  Now the work really begins. 

I will keep you posted on my progress and share some tips from my book.

Custom Calm Chronicles presents material with simplicity.  With that in mind, I have designed a format for this book that is easy to follow.  It is based on the calendar year and presented in monthly themes, each having four articles.  The topics are as follows:

January:  New Beginnings

February:  Heart

March:  Pain & Illness

April:  Emergence

May:  Travel

June:  Balanced Living

July:  Emotions & Relationships

August:  Attitude & Perspective

September:  Responsibilities

October:  Day to Day Living

November:  Digestion

December:  Stress

Look for excerpts in the next few weeks.

I will notify you when I deliver. Until then…take a breath and enjoy life moment by moment.

Let me know in the comments below how the process of achieving something you deemed important felt for you.


Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Unravel the Moods from Stress



In her book on yoga and depression, Amy Weintraub makes this statement, and I agree with her:

Managing your breath equals managing your mood. 

We are now inundated with the importance of breathing.  The yoga community and now the medical community are all supporting breath as a key to optimal health.  What is the big deal?

The January 24, 2012 Wall Street Journal article looked at the positive influences that non-harmful stress can have.  It is that feeling of being pumped up a bit, excited in a positive way that can increase blood flow to the brain and limbs.  However, we are unable to turn it off.  Stress envelops us producing harmful consequences to our health. 

Martin Rossman, a clinical instructor at the University of California Medical School explains:  People under harmful stress lose the ability to re-engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which drives the body's day-to-day natural functions, including digestion and sleep. While individuals vary in how long they can tolerate chronic stress, research shows it sharply increases the risk of insomnia, chronic disease and early death.

What this is telling us is that the moods swings propelled by stress can be controlled and we are the ones that have that power.  The sad thing is that many of us would prefer to simply take some medication to take care of the problem.  Yes, we need help with symptoms produced by stress but even the best medicine will not help if we are not proactive. 

There are many simple techniques that are effective and they do not cost a dime or take much time.  This is why I began Custom Calm-to make it attainable and easy to learn how to live with the ups and downs of stress, because stress is a fact of life. 

Why not give it a try?

Let me know in the comments below how you deal with stress?  What kind of impact do your moods have on your life?

Posted in: This Stuff Works

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Eat and Know You are Eating

Lately, I have seen articles about the positive impact of mindful eating.

The term can seem uninviting, but really eating mindfully is an invitation to deepen your appreciation and taste of food.

When we eat mindfully, we are in the moment and are better able to know when we are full.  We end eating less, aiding digestion and enjoying our food much more. 

Take a few minutes and try this:

Pick one type of food that you normally eat.  It can be a raising, pop corn, chocolate or some other snack.

  1. Take one piece and first feel the texture in your hand.
  2. Look at it on all sides.
  3. Smell it and take in the aroma.
  4. Take a breath.
  5. Now, take it to your lips and take a small bite, without eating it.
  6. Experience the flavor, texture and the effect it is having on you.
  7. Slowly chew it as you continue to experience the entire sensation associated with what you are eating.
  8. Continue to finish the piece of food in this way and notice how you feel.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you. Were you able to stay with the process?  Did you find out anything new about what you were eating? 

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Whatever You Do, Know That You are Doing it

Much of the time we are not present with what we are doing, whether it is a task or a conversation.

In our activities we our body is with us, but that is about it. Our mind is either in the past or future, taking us away from experiencing what is in front of us.  At times it is out of habit and other times it is our choice.  Either way, we are not where our feet are planted. 

Try this:

  • Take a breath
  • Feel your feet on the floor
  • Use your senses:  Focus your eyes on what you are looking at or focus your hearing on your conversation.
  • Truly be with what is happening in the moment and when you drift from the task at hand, take a breath and use your senses to bring you back.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  Were you able to bring yourself to the moment?  If not, what do you think happened?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Do You Live in Fight or Flight?

When you are in a Fight or Flight response, your heart rate and blood pressure increase and blood is shunted away from the digestive system, giving you the ability to react quickly.  The adrenalin rush provides strength you never knew you had.  This is extremely beneficial when there is danger.

The problem is that you are in a Flight or Flight response when you have a hangnail! 

Stress stimulates the fight or flight response and continued stress results in chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, digestive problems and increased heart rate. 

Research has been going on for years about this issue and H. Benson had coined a term called the Relaxation Response.  There are a multitude of practices using breath, movement, meditation and centering that stimulate this response and when it happens, your anxiety level decreases, impacting all the related systems in the body.

Custom Calm specializes in simple, approachable practices designed to lower stress.  All techniques have been researched in major hospitals with powerful results.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Back Relief from Sitting in 6 Steps

We spend a lot of time sitting, particularly when we are on the computer.  We get lost in our work until the discomfort in our back gets our attention. Sitting  for long periods of time strains your back, neck and shoulders.

It is important to take a break and stretch out with your spine going in a different direction from how you were sitting. 

A gentle yoga stretch, rather than using force and effort will allow your muscles to release.  There are many stretches and this one is convenient, easy to do and quite effective.

Try this:

  1. Sit sideways on your chair with your feet under your knees.  An armless chair or one with low arms works the best.
  2. Bring your hands on either side of the chair back or sides.
  3.  Lengthen you spine using your arms and allow it to relax. Level your shoulders and use your arms to twist.  
  4. You will twist in the direction of the chair back
  5. Twist from the bottom up.  First, twist your stomach and waist, then your ribs, then shoulders, and finally your neck and head (do not strain).
  6.  Use your arms to twist and allow your spine to relax.  Take a few breaths and then come out slowly.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  Were you able to do it without force?  How did your body feel after?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Season for Overeating: Yoga can Help!

Many of us have digestion problems and even if you do not, this time of year we tend to overeat, leaving us with bloating and indigestion.   

We have tension in our internal organs which decreases the oxygen supply.  This directly impacts our ability to take in nutrients from food.

The more oxygen that is absorbed in our internal organs, the healthier they are.

Yoga practices can be helpful:

  • Specific yoga poses help with this because the internal organs get a massage, bringing in more blood and oxygen.  There are also poses that are effective in relieving bloating and gas.
  • Some yoga styles help to decompress spinal tension which helps take the pressure off your organs, increasing blood supply.
  • Breath is another yoga technique that is very powerful.  The slower, deeper breath creates movement in the diaphragm which massages your stomach and other organs, increasing oxygen and nutrients absorbed as well as expediting the exit of waste.

An easy beginning to get more blood-flow through your organs is to focus is on your breathing. 

Custom Calm specializes in both simple, gentle yoga poses to help with internal tension as well as breathing techniques.  Practices are easy, accessible and quite effective.

Throughout the holidays, slow down your eating and remember to take slow easy breaths.

Let me know in the comments below what you noticed about your digestion.  Were you able to slow down and breathe?  If not, why do you think got in your way?  

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Lesson No. 1: Learn to Relax

This was the title on the front page of a recent issue of the Living section for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The article focused on a new required course for freshman at Emory University- Yoga.  They are using yoga as a way to help students with stress and time management.  This is happening throughout the country and it helping to prepare students to handle the lifelong challenges of stressful situations.

I often hear people say, “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible enough.”  That is the exact reason to do yoga!  Yoga poses are important but is just a small part of what yoga is about.   Yoga teaches you to be flexible in your daily life.

Through breath, meditation, other centering practices and poses you gain direct access to your inner resources, enhancing your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well being.

At Custom Calm we realize that some cannot get on the floor and have other limitations, so poses are adapted to meet the individual where they are at.  It is a “work -in”, not a “work- out”, with the focus on living a happier, more peaceful life.

How different our lives would be if we started yoga practices when we were in college!  It is not too late to begin at any age.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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