walk don't run

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WALK DON’T RUN

Walk, don’t run.
That’s it.
Walk, don’t run.

Slow down, breathe deeply,
and open your eyes because there’s
a whole world right here within this one. The bush doesn’t suddenly catch on fire, it’s been burning the whole time.

Moses is simply moving
slowly enough to see it. And when he does,
he takes off his sandals.

Not because
the ground has suddenly become holy,
but because he’s just now becoming aware that
the ground has been holy the whole time.

Efficiency is not God’s highest goal for your life,
neither is busyness,
or how many things you can get done in one day,
or speed, or even success.

But walking,
which leads to seeing,
now that’s something.
That’s the invitation for every one of us today,
and everyday, in every conversation, interaction,
event, and moment: to walk, not run. And in doing so,
to see a whole world right here within this one.

By Rob Bell

Kindness

before you know what kindness really is, you must lose things

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

– Naomi Shihab Nye 
*Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (A Far Corner Book) Paperback – October 1, 1994

*affiliate link

5 ways to cope with change

Here’s the one thing I know for sure: Things are constantly changing.

Constantly. Changing.

I have had some very VERY challenging moments of change in the last 6 months.

Let me just first say that this isn’t a plea-for-sympathy blog post.

Ok, now that I’ve made that clear, here’s what’s been going on: My brother and I (along with our families) have had to face my 87 year old dad breaking both of his hips…6 weeks apart. In between those breaks, he was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers, very close to death, AND, he has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. We moved him out of his beloved home in Oregon to an assisted living facility and put his home up for rent. Oh, and there’s more…but I’ll just leave it at that. So. LOTS of change….for my dad, and everyone close to him. oof.

Now. Here’s the deal. Change can be super challenging sometimes. (see my example above). But I know I don’t have to tell you that.

What can you do to cope? Here are some things that have help me:

  1. First, read this:

    “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know.” 
    ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

    I adore this book by Pema Chödrön. I’ve read it multiple times…and use a different colored highlighter each time I read it…and now almost the entire thing is a rainbow of different highlights! Open yourself up to the possibilities that life has to offer…EVEN in times of challenge and change.

  2. Acknowledge your feelings. What is there for you to know about the way you are feeling? Anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, despair? Can you name it? If not, that’s ok too.

  3. Talk to someone. Someone who can truly listen to you. This can be a loved one, a friend, or a therapist. Talking about how you are feeling can help you get a clear view of what is going on.

  4. Take care of yourself. Start with self compassion. Change can be difficult…give yourself a little hug, and maybe even a “I know this is really difficult for you, and I’m sorry you are going through this.” (I DO realize that this might totally sound kooky as hell…but it can REALLY be helpful!). After a little self-compassion…take care of your health…getting some exercise, eat healthy foods, ease up on any alcohol or weed consumption.

  5. Practice acceptance. This goes back to the thing I know for sure: everything changes. Accept the things that are out of your control. There are things that are simply out of your hands. Focus on what you can control…like, self-care.

    *BONUS* Start a meditation practice. I know a person who can help you get started, if you need it…ahem…cough cough…

    How do you cope with change and challenge in your life? I’d love to hear any tips you may have!

Forget About Enlightenment

john welwood

Forget About Enlightenment

Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins. 
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones. 
Open your heart to who you are, right now, 
Not who you would like to be, 
Not the saint you are striving to become, 
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you. 
All of you is holy. 
You are already more and less 
Than whatever you can know. 
Breathe out, 
Touch in, 
Let go.

By: John Welwood

Becoming curious about our habits

kicking the soda habit

I kicked my Diet Coke habit years ago. I decided that I didn’t want to drink all of the artificial ingredients any more. So, instead of soda…these days I usually have iced tea!

In honor of National Iced Tea Day, I thought I’d talk a little about habits. {How’s that for a segue?!}

We all have things we do on autopilot. {Like, grabbing a soda out of the fridge instead of a glass of water}. What are your habits? Have any that you’d like to quit? Maybe hitting the snooze button every morning or grabbing a sugary snack instead of a healthy one…

Judson Brewer is one of the leaders in studying habits and mindfulness. Check out his TED talk:


So, the part of our brain that is used to make decisions goes “offline” when we get stressed. And, if one of our habits is triggered by a stressful emotional response…it’s no WONDER that habits are hard to break…even though you know cognitively that they aren’t great for you.

Here is a *link to Judson Brewer’s book, The Craving Mind on breaking habits. I HIGHLY recommend it!

So, mindfulness can play a great role in helping us changing our habits. We have the ability to actually become curious about what is going on within our bodies and minds when we are triggered to step into a habitual response to something!

What are your experiences with habits and trying to break them? Have you tried a little mindfulness? What was that like for you?

*an affiliate link…I get a tiny cut when you buy the book via my link!

Admit something

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Admit Something

Everyone you see, you say to them,
Love me.
Of course you do not do this out loud;
Otherwise,
Someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this,
This great pull in us
To connect.
Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,
With that sweet moon language,
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to Hear.

– Hafiz

The stories we tell ourselves...

sweet soul tampa

This picture of me was taken of me in front of a great little restaurant near my house. The perfect place for an insta pic, right?! Well it got me thinking…and I have a question…

My question to you is: What are the stories you tell yourself?

I’m talking about the inner dialogue. Have you ever paid attention to it?

So, for example, the “I’m not good/smart/thin/rich/whatever enough” stories…or the “I should have done ” stories…or the “If this didn’t happen to me then I could be/do __” stories. I could go on and on…

Our minds need to make sense of the world around us. We have memories, plans for the future, or even try to make sense of tragedies. This storytelling is part of our makeup…

These stories can shape who we are. We make decisions, very often, based on the stories we have about things…whatever they are. Following our stories goes back to our ancient ancestors…needing to make decisions about survival based on, say, the last time they were chased by a tiger.

Here’s the deal, though. Our inner narrative doesn’t always serve us well. AND, it keeps us from experiencing THIS MOMENT as it is actually happening. It’s easy to go back to the stories instead of opening up to the possibility of NOW. I do realize that this sounds like motivational-speaker type speak…but…I mean it in a very matter of fact kind of way…all we actually have is right now.

Here’s a practice to try: Sit for a bit, and let thoughts and emotions be the focal point for your meditation. Without judgement, and with a gentle curiosity, notice what types of thoughts you are having…are they planning thoughts, shoulda-coulda-woulda thoughts, hurtful thoughts, pompous thoughts. Whatever they are, simply notice. From here, and with practice, you might be able to notice when our stories are entering their way into our daily lives. You might get a moment of clarity…a time to see that you could open up to now…to what life has to offer you in this moment.

The Law that Marries all Things

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The Law that Marries all Things

1.

The cloud is free only

to go with the wind.

The rain is free

only in falling.

The water is free only

in its gathering together,

in its downward courses,

in its rising into air.

2.

In law is rest

if you love the law,

if you enter, singing, into it

as water in its descent.

3.

Or song is truest law,

and you must enter singing;

it has no other entrance.

It is the great chorus

of parts. The only outlawry

is in division

4.

Whatever is singing

is found, awaiting the return

of whatever is lost.

5.

Meet us in the air

over the water,

sing the swallows.

Meet me, meet me,

the redbird sings,

here here here here.

--Wendell Berry * New Collected Poems 2013

*affiliate link

Mindful

Mindful by Mary Oliver

Mindful

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

“Mindful” by Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early. © Beacon Press, 2005.



Booking a private yoga class

private yoga Tampa

So, you’ve booked your private yoga session…what’s next?!

  1. Set your intention or goals for your yoga sessions. Some people book private classes with me because they have never been to a yoga class before, and are embarrassed to go to a group class. Some book with me because they have body limitations, and attending a studio class is too challenging. Others want to gain flexibility or strength…or have a super-challenging schedule.

  2. Determine type of class you want to take based on your intentions or goals. I put together a class just for you, depending on what YOUR experience and intentions are.

  3. Schedule a time and place for class. I think that making yoga convenient is really important. We work a class into YOUR schedule. I’ve met people at their offices, or even at the beach!

  4. Do your homework. I can get you started on a home practice if you are interested. I make an easy-to-follow practice you can do on your own…until we meet again.

Hopefully this answers some questions you might have had about booking a private class! Feel free to contact me with any extra questions (or leave a question in the comments below!)

Finding peace within yourself

how to find peace

Many people tell me that they think they should meditate because they want to be more calm…to become more peaceful.

I think peacefulness is a great thing to aspire to…it really is! I believe that world peace begins with the individual…it starts with you + me.

But that STRIVING tho….

What kind of toll does it take on yourself to be constantly striving to be something else? The constant WANTING for things to be different than they are? I think it can take quite a toll. You aren’t broken. This stress, and lack of inner peace that you might be experiencing is simply something to be noticed.

So, how to become more peaceful…

Start with mindful meditation, of course.

While meditating, try bringing awareness to your body. Sometimes stress or anxiety can manifest as different bodily sensations…tight shoulders, tightness in the chest or abdomen. By paying attention to the different sensations, you can observe how they can change over time. it’s possible to become intimately aware of the way body sensations can fluctuate. Bring a kind, non-judgmental awareness to whatever is present for you during your meditation, and pay attention to what happens.

By observing your body as it is in the present moment, you aren’t “inhaling the good shit and exhaling the bullshit”…you are sitting with the bullshit for a little while…just watching it do it’s thing…without judging it, or wanting it to change…but watching how it impacts your body.

This, I believe is the beginning to becoming more peaceful. Being ok with what is there in your body/mind can bring a sense of peace without even trying.

What does peace mean to you?

Caretake this moment

caretake this moment, by Epictetus 50 -135 CE

Caretake This Moment 

Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.

Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander.
Exert yourself.

When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.

As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.

Give your best and always be kind.

by Epictetus  50 -135 CE

birdwings

rumi birdwings

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated 
as birdwings.

– Rumi

Creating the most perfect outdoor meditation space

Just LOOK at these gorgeous photos of outdoor meditation/yoga spaces, would you?! I WANT something like this for our house!!

You too can create the most incredible, Instagram-worthy backyard space to meditate in.

Meditation has now become a billion dollar industry. That’s billion with a B.

Many of us think that we must have all of the THINGS that go along with a new meditation practice…or new yoga practice. The new outfit, or incense, or macrame wall hanging…or outdoor meditation space.

While all of those things are really nice, and would certainly make for a comfortable place to meditate, it misses the whole point of meditation: paying attention to now, open-heartedly.

We can pay attention to the WANTING…the striving for bigger, better, more. Noting any feelings of desire (or lack of desire) that arise when you see the “perfect” THING. It’s not wrong to want these things, and it is not a bad thing to build something like this for your own house. Instead of focusing on the thing, take a look at the wanting instead. How does that feel for you.

The truth is, you don’t need anything fancy. In fact THIS is probably the most helpful thing for your outdoor space:

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I mean…you get one of these bad-boys, and you can take it outside for a little meditation sesh! haha!

Do you ever meditate outside? What do you use for a place to sit? A chair, the grass, the ground? a mat?

The world offers itself to your imagination

mary oliver wild geese

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a HUGE Mary Oliver fan. Here is her beautiful poem, Wild Geese, and below…Mary Oliver reading it.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

How to be honest with yourself.

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It’s National Honesty Day. I love how the month of April starts out with FOOLS, and ends with getting real!!

So, how do you become more honest with YOURSELF?!

With mindfulness. And meditation.

Of course I’d say that, right?!

But HOW does this work?!

When you sit in mindfulness mediation, you are paying attention to the present moment, non-judgmentally. You are simply noticing what is going on right NOW….with a willingness to be with what is.

Here’s the thing: Sitting with a willingness to be with what is, isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes you have to sit right down in the muddy water of life and feel it…just BE with it for a while…watching how it unfolds. And, that’s ok! Mindfulness meditation practice gives us the chance to do this.

With a seated meditation practice, you might sit with some unpleasant feelings or thoughts. You have the opportunity to notice how those feelings & thoughts come and go. Gradually, you can learn to become more accepting of things as they are (remember that non-judgmental thing that I mentioned earlier?!).

The stories we tell ourselves: Very often, we have habitual ways of thinking of things…we have stories that we tell ourselves. These stories aren’t necessarily based on truth. Especially the negative self-talk or reasons why things are a certain way. With a regular mindfulness meditation practice, it’s easier to see these stories as they are happening. You can pay attention to whatever happens to arise in each particular moment.

Having a sense of humor helps sometimes too…believe me.

Seeing your TRUE self is possible when the stories are seen as just that: stories. We can be in the present moment with what ACTUALLY is…and have the opportunity to see things as they are when we practice mindfulness meditation.

So, happy honesty day, everyone! Have a little sit, and let’s get real.

Meditation with crazy dogs

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Here’s what my meditation practice often looks like with my 2 crazy dogs:

  1. I sit on my meditation mat, on the floor.

  2. Dogs realize that I’m sitting on their level, which, to them means playtime. WOOHOO!

  3. Dogs run over to me to play as I close my eyes, and attempt to settle in.

  4. I fold my hands, and place them in my lap.

  5. Weenie , my dachshund, nudges my hand for me to pet him. (yes, that’s a link to HIS Instagram…you should follow him…he’s adorable!)

  6. I keep my hands still.

  7. Weenie nudges me again….and again…and again…

  8. Frustrated, Weenie goes to find a toy in his toy box which is near my seat.

  9. Weenie shakes his toy violently…not across the room, but RIGHT next to me.

  10. Weenie removes stuffing from toy.

  11. Weenie gets tired, and when he gets tired, he licks his paw.

  12. Weenie continues to lick his paw for at least 20 minutes.

  13. Meanwhile, Lilly, my terrier, tries to curl up in my lap.

  14. Lilly makes circles in my lap, in attempt to get comfy.

  15. Lilly decides to lie next to me quietly…

  16. Something happens outside that only the dogs can hear.

  17. Both dogs try to alert me to the outside noises by barking…

  18. and barking and barking and barking…

In spite of all this craziness, It’s totally possible to practice mindful meditation with crazy dogs!

Mindfulness is paying attention in the present moment, without judgement….So, as I sit on my mat, I acknowledge what is going on as it’s happening.

Sometimes…there’s a LOT happening!

Finding an absolutely silent place to meditate isn’t always possible, or necessary. I change my focus from my breath, to sounds and sensations. I listen to the different sounds my dogs are making…and the body sensations of them in my lap, licking my leg, nudging my hand (or whatever their attempt to get attention du jour is).

I also pay attention to emotions as they come up…sometimes frustrations (why can’t they just lie quietly…UGH!)…sometimes joy (the nudging of my hands warms my heart)…sometimes anger (the BARKING!!). I can sense what it feels like in my body when these emotions come up.

Every day is different meditating with dogs in the house. Every moment is different. Sometimes there is silence and calm, sometimes they want more attention, some days, less. It’s a beautiful flow of life!

Do you have massive distractions when you attempt to meditate? How is that for you?

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver Summer Day poem

The Summer Day

Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean-- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver, The House of Light, Beacon Press, Boston, 1990.

Two kinds of Intelligence

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Two Kinds of Intelligence

There are two kinds of intelligence: One acquired,

as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts

from books and from what the teacher says,

collecting information from the traditional sciences

as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.

You get ranked ahead or behind others

in regard to your competence in retaining

information. You stroll with this intelligence

in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more

marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one

already completed and preserved inside you.

A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness

in the center of the chest. This other intelligence

does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,

and it doesn’t move from outside to inside

through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead

from within you, moving out.

The Essesential Rumi, Translation by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, Harper,

San Francisco, 1995.