Mindfulness

3 easy practices to bring more peace and presence into your daily life

womanmedidate

1. Sit still for 10 minutes in the morning to practice bringing your attention back to your breath. This is like dental floss for mental health. (Notice I have not used the “M” word! Too intimidating.) Sit comfortably wherever you are, set a timer for 10 minutes, and breathe. Every time your mind starts wandering/planning, gently bring your attention back to your breath. It’s like training a puppy without the messes to clean up. I think you’ll find that your energy is calmer, your concentration sharper and you enjoy life more.

2. Use color coding in your calendar app to track self care. If your calendar looks anything like mine, full of dull little boxes, and you’re feeling disconnected or completely overwhelmed, this is a simple way to commit to better self care. If you use Google Calendar or Outlook, choose a color that makes you feel peaceful. Use this color to code self-care activities, even small ones, like taking a 15 minute walk, sitting still for 10 minutes or your PiYo class. At the beginning of the week (or month, depending on how you roll) make sure this lovely color is scattered throughout your days, and stick to your commitments to yourself. You’re the only one who can, and you’ll see a big payoff.

flower3.  Put a stake in the ground for creativity. You know you need more creative outlets. Watching House of Cards and helping your kids make Christmas ornaments with pipe cleaners isn’t cutting it. If you haven’t had an idea that excites you for months, try this: make a commitment to a creative project and announce the deadline to your friends and colleagues.

You don’t have to know how you’ll do it, only that you will. (I finally offered an Animal Wisdom workshop after wanting to for years by renting a space and telling a few friends. It was the best thing I did all year.) Paint a painting, host an open house to display your photos, or make one actual bowl in a pottery class. (If you’ve ever taken beginning pottery, this is a reasonable goal. :)

I’d love to hear from you – what simple things made your 2013 better?



Burnout buster for social change agents

I took a walk today and was delighted to discover this teeny-tiny egg shell at my feet on the way home. Like a little piece of the sky. I made a nest from grass clippings to honor the creature that gave birth to it, and the creature that was birthed from it.

Before I took my walk, I was feeling discouraged and frustrated. Wondering whether my work made a difference. How I would keep going despite all the challenges. Crispy around the edges, if not quite burned-out.

A tiny soft voice that I could just barely make out whispered “get outside.” I’d been ignoring her for hours, but she’d made some sort of deal with my dog to guilt me out of the house. (One of the many things I like about dogs – they seem to be aligned with wise mind more often than not.)

What does your tiny soft voice say? If you’re feeling burned out, you’ve been ignoring her, or him, for a while now. Start listening. That voice will lead you to signs of new life, reasons to have faith and hope, and clear evidence that you’re making a difference.

Tell me what you hear and what you learned in the comments.



The power in accepting the unacceptable

I have been getting migraines since I was about eight years old. Intense throbbing pain blooms on the inside of my right eyebrow, light and loud noise are suddenly unbearable, as are strong smells.  Sometimes the pills work but make me sleepy and woozy, sometimes they don’t.

I’ve had to cancel a lot of plans on friends, family and work colleagues, disappoint and frustrate a lot of people over the years. My partners have often felt helpless, exasperated, and convinced  there was a cure – something we could do, or that I could do, to make them go away.

I have been sure too, seeking help from pretty much every medical tradition and modality, including pills, needles, rubbing, cracking, tinctures, pressure, stinky herbs, patches, devices, talk therapy, meditation, traction and combinations of the above.

I continue to hope that I will find a solution, but I’m tired of fighting. Tired of thinking of my body as a problem to be solved, as a mysterious machine that I have not yet figured out. Tired of feeling angry, helpless, believing that I’m being invaded by some external alien force every time I feel the telltale throb in my eyebrow.

When they’re feeling truly stuck, I tell my clients that the most radical, useful thing to do might be to accept the truth of the situation. And when my brave, amazing clients are able to do this, I’ve seen them find the strength and courage to go after what they’re really meant to do and be. Incredible power is released when we tell the truth, when we can bring gentle awareness to what is actually happening, when we stop fighting.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to coach someone else to do this than to do it yourself. I tell my clients this too.

I will not be taking to my bed for the rest of my life, but I will be resting when I need to, and accepting that that I am a whole package, and that the very qualities that make me a good coach and an excellent dog-mom and partner may also give me migraines.

I’d love to hear what you’re working on accepting, and what power you suspect might be released as you gently embrace the truth.



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