5 Steps to a Breath You Can Count On

Often we need something we can do quickly to bring ourselves back to the here and now.  When we spin out of control agonizing or reacting over situations, we end up creating more tension to our bodies and minds.  Our relationships are impacted and our day becomes difficult to enjoy.

Breath is the most effective way to quickly harness our minds so we can release stress and tension.

Try this:

  1. Take and inhale and easy exhale
  2. Soften your belly
  3. Slowly inhale through your nose to a count of 4
  4. Hold for a count of 4
  5. Slowly exhale through your mouth to a count of 4

If you have the time, do four repetitions.  If not, one time will definitely make an impact.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  Did it help you get centered?  If not, what do you think happened?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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This Too Shall Pass…

This phrase is core to Twelve Step Recover programs and is one of my favorites. It reminds me that nothing stays as it is.

When things are not going well,  the mind has us believing that it will never end.  When faced with illness, pain or addiction it is easy to forget that it will change, even in a small way.

This has shown up for me as I have been in pain for a few weeks.  When I remind myself of this truth, I take a breath and bring myself back to the present where each and every moment is slightly different.

When things are going well and we want things to remain as they are it is helpful not to get too attached. Eventually there will be a shift and when it does remember that even the good things will ebb and flow. 

Knowing that nothing is constant is quite freeing.

When we live in the moment we are experiencing it all and there really is no expectation about what is happening is good or bad, right or wrong.  All we can count on is:  This too shall pass… 

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Vienna Finger Experience: Food for Thought

I have been having pain in my left teeth and jaw, so eating has been a challenge.  I was at a meeting and I noticed one of my old time favorite cookies:  Vienna Finger.  I wanted one but since they are a crunchy cookie, I hesitated to indulge myself but soon gave in to the temptation. 

I took one and began eating by taking the sandwich apart and spreading the cream around.  I proceeded to nibble away very slowly savoring every bite.  I hardly chewed and just let it melt in my mouth. 

I talk about this experience because I realized in my slow, mindful eating of the cookie I enjoyed each and every bite.  I was present in each moment, to be sure that I did not crunch at all.  I normally would have eaten at least two cookies in the time I took to eat just one.

The experience was totally satisfying because I really allowed myself to taste it and be with the sensation and flavor.

It makes me think about my relationship with food and how much more I enjoy it when I am present in the moment sensing and tasting bite by bite. 

Try this next time you eat something special and let me know in the comments below what your experience was.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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5 Steps to Improve Listening

There are times in conversation when we are thinking about our response before the other person is finished speaking. 

We interrupt without thinking, which is frustrating and dismissive to those around us.  Often it is a knee jerk reaction and the thought is out before you catch yourself.

 When this happens, our minds have left the moment.

 If we are thinking about something else while another is speaking, we are no longer present in the conversation. 

Try some mindful listening:

  1. While the person is speaking, feel your feet on the floor.
  2. If you feel the urge to speak, focus on your breathing to guide yourself back to what the person is saying.
  3. Make eye contact while you are listening.
  4. Have a 5 second rule before you speak (that is my husband's suggestion!)
  5. If you are unsure about something stop and ask them what they mean, rather than feeling lost in the conversation.

Let me know in the comments below how this works for you.  If it did not work, what do you think happened?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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5 Steps to an Attitude of Gratitude

"I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work and my God" – Helen Keller

Helen Keller had unimaginable obstacles to overcome in her life, and her attitude is inspiring.

Gratitude for the challenges in life is difficult for many of us to understand. We tend to look at the things that have been painful having a negative impact on us.  Everything we experience in life impacts who we become and our day to day living.

Many of the most inspiring people in our lives had to endure major hurdles.  

Try this:

  1. Take a moment and think about something that was difficult for you to overcome.
  2. Notice the event without imposing any judgments or emotional charge.  Simply look at it as an observer.
  3. Now with the same observation, look at how you live your life now.
  4. Find one thing about yourself that might not have emerged if the early event did not happen.
  5. Take a few breaths, focusing on that awareness.

When you  do this exploration invite your mind to remain in the moment, and you can gain some insight into the positive gifts you received and how it shaped your perceptions, activities, spiritual path, and relationships.

Let me know in the comments below what you discovered.  If you could not think of anything, let me know what got in the way.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Change is Life: Embrace it!

Change is life.  Without change there would be no growth, no understanding, no relating and no surprises.  We are by nature changing beings.  Still we seem to fear and resist it more than any other aspect of life…-  Leo Buscaglia

May is a time with many life changing events and my life is filled with them.  My youngest daughter is graduating college, my niece is getting married and my parents are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. 

These are all wonderful, momentous events, and there is letting go and moving forward with each.

With each phase of life, change brings growth, discomfort and opportunity.  

Even though my daughters have not lived at home during college, this final graduation marks an ending and new beginning for my daughter, myself and the rest of the family. New stress, fear and excitement are all part of this next phase of life. 

It is like this in every aspect of living. One moment passes and a new moment emerges.  Each and every breath is a new breath. Each emotion has a beginning and end.  Nothing stays stagnant.

 It is an exquisite process and to resist it is to miss out on the experience. 

Embrace each and every aspect of change and enjoy the ride!

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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5 Steps to Live Life More Fully

Throughout the day we encounter both challenging and joyful situations.  Usually our focus gets locked on a specific aspect of  our experience and we miss out on the range of what is in front of us.

There is more happening in each moment than we imagine and we have the capacity to embrace our experiences more fully. 

Try this:

1.  Go outside (or look through a window), standing or sitting comfortably and look straight ahead at nature.

2.  Focus on one thing that is in your line of sight.

3. Without turning your head, expand your awareness to the entire scope of what is in front of you.

4.  Notice whatever subtle changes come about without getting caught up in thought.  It could be a slight   breeze, a shadow, an insect or bird, a small movement of a leaf or some other shift.

5.  Take a few breaths as you continue to notice.

Everything in front of you was happening at the same time. 

You can experience more joy and clarity in life when you live mindfully.


Try this and let me know in the comments below what happened.  Did you see more that you first thought was there?  Were you able to stay in the moment?  How do you feel now? 

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Waiting with Patience

standing in line

Stand with your feet parallel to one another, a few inches apart. Stand with your body upright and look straight ahead with a soft gaze.

Bring your awareness to the connection to your feet on the floor and notice how your weight is distributed.

Is there more in front of you feet, or in your heels? Is it even? See if you can even out your weight, even feeling the connection of sides of your feet to the floor.

Take an easy inhale, and an easy exhale. Keep your awareness on the connection of your feet to the earth as you continue with easy breathing.

This simple tool will calm your mind and body and bring you back to the moment. It is great to use when you are out and about during your day.

Try this next time you are waiting on line and let me know how it went in the comments below. Did it help avert growing frustration? Were you able to keep your attention the connection of your feet to the floor? If not, what do you think happened? If you have any questions, please ask.

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