Splash Into Calm: The Truth About Stress


Stress is a fact of life, both in happy and challenging times.  The recent shootings in Newtown, Connecicuct has brought about much fear, anxiety, loss, anger and grief thoughout the country.  This is an extreme situation where stress is prevalent, yet many of us live with fear and anxiety on a daily basis.  How can we help ourselves so our emotions do not impact our physical and emotional wellbeing?  Throughout my book, I offer many simple practices and I will highlight two simple techniques to help guide you back to the moment so stress does not take you over.

 Martin Rossman, a clinical instructor at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School talks about stress as he 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.”

 Kelly Kinsella has a one-woman show called When Thoughts Attack, and she’s getting rave reviews because so many people relate to her message. I know most of us have plenty of material to write a sequel (probably an entire series), which makes me wonder why it is so difficult to calm our crazy mind.

 We try to be proactive through yoga, massage, meditation, and exercise so we are familiar with feelings of relaxation and stability, but before we know it we are blindsided by anxiety. Taking time for classes is helpful, but sooner or later we must go about our day. There are times we need a life preserver before we drown in the reactions of our mind. We need a few quickies that we can count on to get immediate results.

Many universities have added yoga as a course for freshman. They are using yoga as a way to help students with stress and time management. The practice helps them prepare to handle the lifelong challenges of stressful situations. I venture to say that many of us would not need the information here if we had taken this course when we were eighteen. Unfortunately, yoga is associated with difficult poses, but what it really teaches is flexibility in managing daily life.

Here are a few ways to achieve instant relaxation; these exercises have saved me on a daily basis:

Find Your Mountain

A mountain is sizable, stable, and majestic. It maintains consistency, even with the change of seasons and weather. The landscape on the mountain might alter, but the mountain remains solid. (You can equate this to a bad hair day!) Even if the mountain is judged in some way, it does not crumble or whine. You must remember that you have the qualities of a mountain, even when you are in the grip of tension or storms in your life.

 At work, there are times that we need to get centered quickly but it must be unapparent to others. (So, getting on the floor in your business suit is off the list.) If you are on your way into an important meeting, finding your solid, secure, calm self is just beyond the surface of your thoughts.

 Try this:

  • Stand with your feet solidly in the floor.
  • Feel the contact of your feet to the surface beneath you.
  • Bring to mind the image of the mountain and the attributes it embodies.
  • Take a close look at its solid structure: the sides, the top, the landscape.
  • Take a few breaths while feeling the weight of your feet tethered into the earth.
  • Now, imagine you are that mountain; regal, centered, and empowered, and take that into your day.

If you are not one for visualizations, then simply feel the attributes that the mountain embodies and draw those feelings within.


I focus on breath often and there are many different practices to choose from. The following counting breath will quickly foster a calm mind:

  • Begin to notice your breath moving in and out through your nose.
  • Start to count the number of seconds it takes you to inhale, without forcing the breath in any way.
  • Count the number of seconds it takes you to exhale, without forcing the breath in any way.
  • See if you can even out the breath on the inhalation and exhalation.
  • Count the breaths between 4 to 8 rounds.

Remarkably simple and incredibly effective, this technique can be done anywhere, anytime.

 Think of these simple techniques as a quick zap to your “attacking thoughts.” They are free and do not require any change of clothes and do not hurt (sorry for those of you who live by the no pain, no gain philosophy). They can be done anywhere and take less than three minutes. Now that’s a deal!

 Give these simple, quick techniques a try or any technique from a previous blog post and let me know in the comments below what happened.  Were you able to quiet your thoughts?

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Splash Into Calm: Our Words Impact our Day

I have been planning many book signing events and am faced with an array of tasks that take a good deal of time. Some of them I enjoy and others I find uncomfortable or cumbersome.   Each aspect of the planning of the events is necessary, and I am often faced with the choice of how I want to perceive what I am attending to.

The words or thoughts I use to describe what I am doing have a great impact on my enjoyment of the day.  I address this common issue in my book.  

"There is one thing that seems to prevent your dreams from becoming reality—your mind! Yes, the mind that you count on for advice, intellect, and infinite wisdom often distracts you. You do not even realize what your thoughts say and wonder why, after you have researched, planned, and put in great effort, you still fall back into the old behaviors. You try to take pleasure in your day-to-day living, only to be derailed by your thoughts.

It really does not matter whether you have to run errands, have tickets to a show, or are going on a dream vacation (my personal preference). One common denominator will impact your overall enjoyment—your habitual outlook on life, both in thought and word. Let me give you an example.

I once knew someone who used the word “terrible” to describe everything that she perceived as inconvenient in her life and the lives of others. Terrible can denote something that causes great fear, alarm, or dread; but this certainly does not match the reality of sorting through a pile of newspapers or getting a flat tire!

No matter what is going on in our lives, the language we use has a tremendous power over how much pleasure and satisfaction we bring into our day. Words carry tremendous power."


What kind of words do you use to describe your tasks?  How can you re-frame your language to shift your perceptions?  Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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It’s Just a Thought…

There are times that our thoughts take over and our mind gets out of control.  We end up obsessing about people, places and things with no way to stop.  Not only does this take us out of the moment, but it is absolutely exhausts us.

Sometimes we feel guilty about our thoughts.  Remember, a thought is not the same as an action. 

When the mind complicates things, we need a simple antidote to help us. 

Next time your mind gets out of control, try this:

Say to yourself:  It’s just a thought” or “Thinking

This will help bring you back to the moment so you can get centered. You might find you need to remind yourself of this often throughout the day!

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  If it did not help, what do you think got in your way?

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A Thought or Reality?

Definitions of the word think:

  • To have or formulate in the mind.
  •  To reason about or reflect on; ponder.
  • To decide by reasoning, reflection, or pondering.
  •  To judge or regard; look upon.
  •  To believe; suppose.

All of these definitions have one thing in common: They are all filtered through our minds and are layered with our perceptions.

Our thoughts create reactions. Sometimes we feel guilty about our thought, obsess on our thought or believe strongly that our thought is the only way to see things.  No matter which it is, our inner peace is disturbed. 

Our thoughts are not reality.  They come and at some point they pass.

One of my teachers had such a simple solution to help us get beyond taking our thoughts so seriously.

Try this the next time you are obsessing on a thought:   

  • Notice the thought, take a breath and say:  It’s just a thought…

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  Did it help shift you thinking?  If not, what do you think got in your way?

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Emotions: Do You Have Them or Do They Have You?

“When you feel yourself in the grip of an emotion such as jealousy or anger or sorrow…take a step back…You can allow the emotion to run through you without causing negative thoughts or actions.”  Gary Zukov

Emotions are part of human nature and they meant to be felt.  The problem arises when we hold onto emotions and become them.

We express how we feel as “I am angry or I am sad”, rather than “I feel angry or I feel sad”.  There is a marked difference between the two.  If you are the emotion, then you have taken on the emotion live in reaction, rather than feeling it and moving on.

When you take a step back and view the situation without layering your emotions and perceptions, then the emotion no longer will have a grip on you.

 You can see with greater clarity and bring yourself back to the here and now.

Let me know in the comments below what your experience has been.  Are you able to take a step back from your emotions, or do you get caught up in them?

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Change Your Focus in 6 Steps

In Thursday’s blog I spoke about how our thoughts create reality.

It is challenging to change our mindset when we are conditioned to think in a certain way. It’s the glass half empty-half full scenario, and much of what our mind focuses stems from habit. 

It does not take long to create a new habit, but you must have the desire to change.

Try this:

  1. Notice your thoughts and if they are negative take a slow inhale and easy exhale
  2. If this has not stopped the thought, focus on your breath until your mind quiets down.
  3. Remember some event that was pleasant for you and experience the feelings that went along with it.
  4. Stay with those feelings as your breathe in and out.
  5. Now, notice your state.
  6. If you begin to revert back to negativity, ask yourself:  Which feeling do I want to perpetuate?

Give this a try and let me know in the comments below if this helped.  If it did not, what do you think got in your way?

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Words We Use: Are They Accurate?

I have been around someone who uses the word terrible to describe everything that she perceives inconvenient in her life and the lives of others.

The meaning of terrible “ Causing great fear or alarm; dreadful” does not match the reality of having to go through a pile of newspapers, yet that is the word she uses to describe her situation.  

Words carry tremendous power.  The documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?” creatively addressed this topic.  Dr. Masaru Emoto studied the power of words on water.  By using both written and spoken words, the water actually “changed expression” depending on the thought and feeling. 

If words change the expression of water, the impact on the well-being of humans is immeasurable.

Our thoughts and words create our reality. 

Become aware of the language your use throughout the day.  You have the power to make the shift in your state of mind and emotions by the simple use of words.

Do your words accurately describe what is happening?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Calm Your Mind: Attitude #1

Helping the mind remain calm and undisturbed is a lifelong practice. Often our thoughts are agitated from our reactions to other people.

A chapter in the yoga texts focuses on four categories of people and how cultivating certain attitudes will help.

Attitude  #1:

Cultivate Friendliness toward the happy.

When someone gets something that they are excited about it, jealousy can set in.  This only disturbs you, especially if you want what they have attained.

A shift in attitude to open up to another persons happiness can fill you with joy as well as leave you feeling calm and centered.

Next time your feel yourself feeling uneasy around someone’s happiness, take a breath and shift your thoughts.

Give this a try and in the comments below, let me know what happened.  If you were unable to be open to someone's happiness, what do you think got in the way?

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Einstein Knew the Power of a Quiet Mind

“ No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it”   Albert Einstein

Consciousness defined:   A term used to refer to a variety of aspects of the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts.

In other words, if the mind keeps the same relationship with how it perceives things, then it stays stuck in the problem.

Often we try so hard to figure something out, we end up even more confused and frustrated. This happens because our minds are cluttered with the same old thoughts and perceptions, resulting in our inability to resolve anything. We think our way to exhaustion. 

Only when we still our minds and find a place of calm are we able to stop the cycle.  This is why meditation practices are so important.  We need a clean slate to work with or we end up with a disorganized mess.

Einstein knew that his mind had to shift to solve a problem, and the evidence of what he achieved is a powerful testimony. 

He took meditation naps during his working day to develop new theories.  He said:  "The really valuable thing is intuition". "Through meditation I found answers before I even asked the question."

Einstein’s  word is good enough for me!

Let me know in the comments below if you have practiced meditation and how it has worked for you.  If you have never meditated, would you like to start?

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You Are More Than Your Mind

We have around 60,000 thoughts a day, and I venture to say that most of them are not uplifting!  If you have ever tried to quiet your mind, you see just how busy and it is.  It is referred to as the “monkey mind” because it is all over the place.

What you think about becomes the reality of who you are, and you live within this limited awareness.   Yet, you are much more…

Visualize an ocean. The endless waves on top are your thoughts.  They are the most evident and easiest to identify, yet they are only on the surface. 

The waves, no matter how strong, are still only a tiny part of the ocean.  You keep your focus on the waves alone and your ability to see the oceans enormity  is obscured. 

You are the entire ocean.  Your capacity is astounding and when your mind gets still, even if it for a moment, you are able to can experience what you are capable of.

What is your capacity today?

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