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Archive for October, 2013

Breathing Paradise

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Let’s take few moments to breathe paradise. Where does paradise reside in you? Breathing in ─ Paradise. Breathing out ─ Paradise.

Slow the breath down. When you slow the breath, you slow the mind, and open the heart.

Drop into your heart center. Your heart center is a place of great awareness. Paradise.

Allow your heart center to be your teacher today. On your next breath in, notice the paradise that exists within, always.

Today’s mantra: Breathing in, I am Paradise. Breathing out, I am Paradise.


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Go For Refuge

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

RefugeWhile in my weekly Buddhist class, my teacher said, “Training in the mind is going for refuge. Go for refuge.” As the teacher explained, going for refuge is letting go of ordinary thinking and allowing for an experience of peace to arise. Allow your mind to be a refuge of peace, compassion, and kindness.

The first step is to let go and allow ourselves to drop into refuge – from a place of peace. As Kadam Morton said, “Your worry contributes nothing.” I’m still learning to let go of worry and drop into refuge from that state.

If you go for refuge, solutions arise.
Let go and breathe and wait for solutions to come.
Kadam Morton

What if we let the experience of refuge take over and allowed it to dissolve all that we are carrying?

What if we were willing to let go of our negative thoughts and actions and created more positive experiences and a more joyful life?

It starts with letting go and dropping out of our head and into our heart.

Go for refuge. Live from that space of inspiration and peace. Give yourself permission to hang out in peace. When you live from the place of refuge, your mind becomes spacious and expansive and your world becomes more kind.

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Breathe ─ You Are Enough

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Best sunset everBreathe ─ there is enough air for you.

Breathe ─ there is enough love for you.

Breathe ─ there is enough light for you.

Breathe ─ there is enough joy for you.

Breathe ─ you are accepted.

Breathe. You Are Enough.

(Photo by Mary Anne Flanagan)

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Two breaths: First and Last

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

I remember hearing the story about coming into the world premature. My birth story included hearing how I was born seven weeks early. Separated from my mother right after birth, I was transferred to another hospital, put in an incubator, and hooked up to breathing support tubes and machines.

The story of needing support to breathe and being in an incubator has been on my mind after a recent shamanic journey meditation. In my deep state of meditative trance I heard, “All I ask of you is to remember me.” I wasn’t sure of the meaning, but I had clear images of being in the incubator and trying to breathe.

I don’t recall taking my first breath or breathing on my own. To this day, I find myself holding my breath when I’m stressed. At times, my breath is shallow. 

During the journey meditation I also heard, “I exhaled so you could inhale.” Was that my mother speaking to me?

The second most meaningful breath was my mother’s last one. I wasn’t there to see my mom’s last exhale, but knew her struggle with breathing through the years. Two breaths: my first and her last.

Perhaps it’s possible that with each inhale, we breathe in the world and with each exhale, we free ourselves of struggles in the world. Maybe with each breath, we gain insight and release pain. Each breath is a miracle that allows us to experience life and emptiness.

The journey ended with the words, “Stop struggling. The struggle is over.”

And so it is.


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At Home with Winged Ones

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Viewed the great egret fishing in the water — it’s white form reflectingOrchard Beach Bird

Listened to a great horned owl cry in the distance

Took a picture of a downy woodpecker upside down tap tap tapping

Chanted while two great blue herons flew over our head

Noticed our first rufous-sided towhee in the green underbrush with tinges of autumn gold

Observed sparrows playing in the trees quickly flying making it difficult to identify

Paused to look at a ruby crowned kinglet stare into the sky

The woods, the birds, the silence, the sanctuary of nature — my home. 

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Book Review: Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

Monday, October 21st, 2013

HardwiringHappinessFor years, scientists viewed the brain as a fixed organ with no potential for change. With the developing science of neuroplasticity, researchers gained a new awareness of our brains’ ability to change neural pathways and synapses. Rick Hanson’s new book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence translates these theoretical findings into applications in our own lives. With examples and exercises, Dr. Hanson shows how we can take incremental steps towards a practice of happiness.

As someone who enjoys learning about neuroscience, I found the book  interesting as it takes a detailed look into how are brains are wired to focus on the negative and not the positive and what we can do to change that so we can lead happier and more fulfilling lives. Hanson does a great job of taking very complex concepts from brain research and writing about them in a way that anyone can understand.

Our ability to hardwire happiness is all about focusing on the little things. The book focuses on events and feelings that you can pay attention to in order to build up the inner strength you need to face specific challenges. By focusing on positive experiences, you help yourself remember positive feelings more strongly, despite our brain naturally remembering negative experiences better.

Recent scientific discoveries have revealed that what we think and feel changes the brain. Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness shows how to transform the simple positive experiences of daily life into neural structures that promote lasting health, feeling cared about, and effectiveness. Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures full of happiness, love, confidence, and peace.

Drawing on neuroscience, psychology, and wisdom from the contemplative traditions, Hardwiring Happiness shows you how to overcome the negativity bias and get good experiences into the brain where it can use them. By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with an everyday positive experience ─ the sweetness of a cookie, the calming of a single breath, the warmth of a friend ─ you turn good moments into a great moments and that gives you durable resilience and well-being.

Hanson’s book offers the tools we need to heal old wounds, increase our motivation, handle stress, develop our inner resources and, ultimately, transform our lives. As Hanson says, “In mere minutes each day, we can transform our brains into refuges and power centers of calm and happiness.”

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What MS Has Taught Me About Life

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

It was a year ago that I walked into my neurologist office to get results back from a MRI of my brain after a series of symptoms and tests. I went to the appointment alone as I thought the symptoms would pass and perhaps needed some temporary medicine. I sat across from the doctor as he scrolled and clicked the computer looking at my MRI. He looked up and said, “Your results show you possibly have Multiple Sclerosis.”  I didn’t hear anything else he said after that. My mind went blank, my hands shook, and tears rolled down my face.

He invited me to come over by him and said he wanted to show me the scan. I stood up and went over and saw an enlarged version of my brain on a computer screen. He explained that the scan showed white spots, known as lesions, at various parts of my brain. And given the number of lesions and the location as well as my symptoms, it was likely that I had Mild Multiple Sclerosis. I had to go for many more tests and see many more doctors for the next seven months to rule out other possible diagnoses. 

After several months of being poked and prodded, sent to various specialist and given a variety of health diagnoses, my test results proved to show Mild Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in May of this year. A part of me was relieved to finally know what I was dealing with and how to treat it. Another part of me was in shock (and still is) that I have this. 

My world has changed in so many ways. MS has required me to slow down and rest more. It has taught me the value of advocating for myself in the medical world — especially with doctors who dismiss symptoms or patients. It has made me feel vulnerable and show up in the world with an openness I never experienced before. It has taught me to ask for help and receive. It has taught me who can show up when I don’t feel well. Having MS has deepened some friendships and let go of others.

MS has taught me to continue to live life to its fullest. It has deepened my spiritual practices, opened my heart, and led me to discover feelings that have been buried for a long time.

MS has taught me a lot about life: No one doctor or diagnosis defines you. If there are friends who can’t deal with your illness or can’t be present for you, then seek friends who can. Find people who are aware and can show they care. Give yourself permission to have your emotions — all of them. Follow your heart and your divine light. You may not change your illness, but you can change how you relate to it. You can make choices that help you. You can empower yourself by finding doctors, healers, teachers, and supportive people who are willing to listen and witness you on your personal journey.

Do things that make you happy. That might mean meditating more, having a cup of tea, talking with people you love, getting a massage, forgiving yourself, starting and ending each day with gratitude, chanting/praying or tapping into a spiritual practice that feels right for you, and surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh. 

Having MS has taught me to participate in life more fully, lovingly, passionately, vulnerably, creatively, and spiritually. That doesn’t mean I still don’t get tired or sad. It means I embrace all of it and all of me.

Machu Picchu


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Go to Your Growing Edge

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

How does resistance show up in your life?

Steven Pressfield QuoteResistance can push you far from your dream through procrastination, sabotage, excuses, and convince you that the worst outcome will always happen. We do our best to keep resistance at bay and then we feel it — fear. But listening to fear can actually propel us to do exactly what resistance is pulling us away from. If we are scared, we might be on the right track towards success. Fear might actually be the catalyst that brings us to our growing edge.

In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more we can be sure that we have to do it.” If it didn’t mean anything or push our limits, then there would be no need to be fearful and expose ourselves to expansive experiences. Resistance keeps us in place.

There comes a time, a point in your life, a remembering of your original creative genius self that is ready to push past the veil of resistance. When you are ready, here are a few ideas to support you in tackling resistance. First, listen to that deep voice inside that has had that dream since you first learned to walk and ask: do you still love that dream? Next, after all the excuses have been made why you can’t draw, write, dance, create, or start a business, take some actions anyway. There will always be reasons and excuses and the best way to move forward is simply by taking daily actions. Lastly, ask for help. Get all the support you need to move your idea forward. Seek out experts, teachers, alliances, change agents, and anyone who understands that we are more than our resistant voice. 

As Pressfield says, “Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

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Insight — Inside and Out

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Meditation: Take a moment and with your eyes open, observe the world around you. Now, close your eyes and notice what you are seeing with your eyes closed. Notice all the images with your eyes closed. Notice what is available to you when you close your eyes and use all of your other senses.

B&W Orchard BeachBring awareness to your breath. Take a long, slow breath in your nose and exhale through your mouth. What is your experience when you take your in-breath and release the out-breath? 

Allow your breath to go in a little deeper. What do you know when you close your eyes and go inside? Use your insight and breath to go through your whole body and notice what is happening on the inside.

And take a deeper, more conscious breath. Sit in the pause of the breath. What happens in the space in between? How are you with the silence within? Allow your breath to have more space and reach into the sacred silence.

What emerges from you with sacred silence? 

Connect more deeply with your breath. Be in the sacred silence of the breath — noticing the deeper connection. Breathe into that for a few moments. In that silence, notice the images, your own voice speaking to you with wisdom and compassion.

Place a hand on your heart. Smile and bow. You are the love of silence. You are the silence of love. You are the insight that breathes life — inside and out. Breathe that in. Breathe that out.

Open your eyes and see the world that you co-create everyday. You have everything you need within. Notice how you see your world today. Be conscious of every interaction. Take time to pause before speaking. Use all of your senses. Be the wisdom and insight that you are, always.

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Rituals and Routines as Inspiration

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

When looking for inspiration, take a look at your daily practices, your routines and your rituals. Notice if they are time suckers or are opening up channels of inspiration. For some, rituals may include being in nature or sitting quietly while for others it may be connecting daily with a person who challenges you and/or inspires you.

What do you take time for every day that inspires you?

I have learned to get through moments of stagnation, anxiety, and “stuckness” with my daily routines of meditation, mindfulness, walking, and writing in my journal.

Our routines and rituals can open us up to insight and innovation.

What is your daily practice of inspiration?

ongoing practice flower


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