Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gratitude Around the Table

Sitting down to eat is one of the easiest places for us to incorporate mindfulness and gratitude into our lives.

We have to eat many times a day, and so it is an ideal opportunity to take a deep breath, center our selves, and express our gratitude for the nurishment of our bodies.

An added benefit is that studies show that people who pause before eating, and eat in a calm, mindful manner, eat less, and digest what they eat much more fully. This is also a good way to heal the disjointed and unhealthy relationship many of us Westerners tend to have with food as a result of eating too fast and on the run, consuming poor quality food, and fixations with our weight and appearance.

Here is one offering for a meal time prayer from the Zen tradition known as,
Gokan-no-ge, the "Five Reflections."

First, let us reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought us this food.

Second, let us be aware of the quality of our deeds as w
e receive this meal.

Third, what is most essential is the practice of mindfulness, which helps us to transcend greed, anger and delusion.

Fourth, we appreciate this food which sustains the good health of our body and mind.

Fifth, in order to continue our practice for all beings we accept this offering.

You can read more about this tradition, here.

As you sit down for you next meal, take the time to take a deep breath, and give thanks for the pleasure and benefits that food provides.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, December 12, 2008

All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Letting Go Is the Real Path to Freedom

Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life reveals just the opposite: that letting go is the real path to freedom.

Sogyal Rinpoche
Glimpse After Glimpse

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gratitude and the Power of Healing Touch

The immense power of our touch cannot be underestimated. Nothing can be more soothing, comforting and healing, then then simple gesture of someone laying their hand on our back.

Touch has the ability to activate our parasympathetic nerveous system, or the "relaxation response", and this shift in feeling and body chemistry can create a little space, a little light at the end of the tunnel, for someone who is suffering. Since over 80% of our communication as human beings is non-verbal, sometimes these small, simple gestures of touch can say more completely what it is we have in our heart to express. At time words can get in the way; they seem inadequate in expresssing the enormity of your love and compassion. Touch, when offered with lovingkindness and respect, never falls short.

As a mindfulness exercise today, find a person to offer your healing touch to. Remember to be respectful in the way that you offer this, a hand on the upper back or shoulder is usually a "safe place" for most people to recieve that offering.

Also, take time to recognized and acknowledge with gratitude the loving touches that you receive. The next time you receive a hug, really experience it. Linger and let the energy from that person's heart mingle with your own. If you are feeling a bit low today and could use some healing touch, ask for it! Everyone loves to give a hug. Go up to a friend and say, "I am feeling a little sad, could you give me a hug." I promise you will be responded to with delight.

One more thought on the power of touch. If you are struggling through a difficult time in your life, or if you have hardship and trauma in your past, consider body work as a part of your healing process. The body and brain literally store these emotions and experiences. If we only process them on a mental level, through counseling or other modalities, we never fully release these samskaras, or patterns, from the body. Deep tissue massage, Reiki, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and Watsu, are only a few of the body work methods that can help you to release these stored emotions and live a fully present and realized life.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gratitude in Every Falling Leaf

All the pictures in this post were taken by me on my morning walk on the Greenway Trail in Gastonia, North Carolina. This Autumn was spectacular, and I was awed and filled with gratitude for every falling leaf.

It is easy sometimes to be grateful for the big stuff. It's right there up in our face, getting our attention. We are more accustomed, and conditioned, to remembering to be thankful for the big things. But, developing a rich and deep sense of gratitude is well informed by taking time to give the small stuff the same focus and attention.

Ask yourself the question, "How conscious and present am I in my daily activities." By starting this inquiry into yourself you will invite awareness and mindfulness into your life on a new level. You many find yourself stopping much more often during your day to really "take in" what is happening in that particular moment: what are you looking at? what can you hear? touch? smell? With these moments of clarity come an expansive sense of child-like wonder. You may feel as if you are experiencing many things for the first time. It's like walking down a brand new, beautiful path.

While you continue this beautiful awareness inquiry, add also a moment to pause, and say a prayer of gratitude for what you have discovered in this moment. This will be easy with the lovely things you come across, but I encourage you to try to address your prayers of thanks also to the troubling and challenging occurences; paying them due homage as the great teachers that they are.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Contemplating Death

Happy Death Mask, NepalImage by Wonderlane via Flickr
Contemplating death
is something that the Buddhists have developed into a fine art. This may sound incredibly morbid, and it is, in a way, but it can also be used as a path to greater liberation in life.

By seriously contemplating our own mortality we can gain greater gratitude for the precious nature of each moment, and release our minds from the bondage of the fears that surround aging, illness and death.

In Buddhism this is considered part of a broad spectrum of thoughts and behaviors which express our "grasping" and "aversion" to many things; the largest of these being "grasping" for more life, and "aversion" to death. Brian Schell, of has this to say:

"...fear is generally a result of attachment. Buddhists consider attachment (”grasping”) a bad thing. Everything changes, and that’s something we have to learn and accept. That’s a whole lot easier to say than do, but that really is it in a nutshell. Think for a bit on what causes your fear. What are you afraid of losing? Is that something (or someone) that you are going to lose eventually anyway? Most things and people are going to be lost someday, no matter what we do; it is important to understand and accept that."
The Loden Jinpa website provided more why and how information on this concept, including guidance for engaging in a meditation on death, here.

Coach Charrise, of the blog Emergence Business Coaching, offers some great starter questions for beginning an inquiry into the nature of death, and living to the fullest.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, November 15, 2008

If you don't feel good, it's hard to feel grateful!

If you don't feel good, it's hard to feel grateful! Traci Trainer and her blog The Wellness Journey make an offering of 25 great tips to help you feel good, and have more to give. Check them out here, traci trainer: Tips for your life.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Connecting to Gratitude Through Rituals with guidance from Natalie Maisel and

I find one of the best ways for me to reconnect to gratitude in my life, is to slow down and get deeply in touch my natural surroundings, and the cycles inherent in the Natural World.

I have always loved the lunar cycles. It is comforting to me to look up to the sky, see the moon shining down in whatever phase it maybe, and think of the ancient meanings ascribed to each of it's transformations.

Recently, I discovered Lunar Rituals from yoga and Wicca teacher, Natalie Maisel, that have really deepened my relationship to this endless cycle. Each of her audio downloads takes you through a ritual that allows you to connect to the spirit of a particular lunar phase, and the energy and powerful opportunity for transformation that it offers.

Natalie offers four moon rituals on her site,, each containing a grounding meditation, elemental invocations, circle casting, lore, guided meditation and ritual.

New Moon
for manifesting your heart's desires

Full Moon
for receiving insight and healing

Waning (Crone) Moon
for releasing and banishing

Dark Moon
for breaking habits and addictions

These rituals are not only for those interested in Wicca, or Nature based religions, they are wonderfully accessible to individuals of any faith who simply want a way to focus their intentions, and attention, in their lives.

Natalie Maisel also facilitates yoga and goddess workshops around the world. You can contact her directly at

And check out Fox's Notebook, her blog at

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beware of Contra-Mantras

Do you ever catch yourself saying the most awful things to yourself? I tune into my own inner dialogue at times, and find a terrible, critical task master has hijacked my brain! Out, out! I say.

This happens to all of us, however positive and confident we may be in our mind states, these thoughts and feelings will sometimes make their way in. A fellow yoga teacher once referred to these repetitive, negative, critical words or phrases as "Contra-Mantras." And they are just that. Negative programming that comes up and plays like a repeat of a bad TV show. What to do? Turn off the tellie! Or, at least change the channel.

When you notice these self-critical voices coming into your thought process, bring mindfulness back into your process. Stop, pause, take a deep breath. Don't try to push the thoughts away, to the contrary, embrace them. Take a good look at them. Who's voice is that? Is it really yours? Or is it an "old script" performed in the past my a critical parent, an unkind teacher, a bully, a jerk boss, etc. Sometimes even a passing comment can strike such a deep cord that it lasts a lifetime, showing up as a "contra-mantra" when something triggers our insecurity. Just examine this commentary for what it is, and then gently offer a positive mantra in replacement.

For many of us the self-critical mind talks comes from a certain level of perfectionism. While it may sound like a positive trait, studies have show time-and-time again that perfectionists not only suffer heavily as a result of their unrealistic goals for themselves and others, but actually short circuit themselves, and achieve less in the long run. It is hard to even get started when deep inside you know your goal of "perfect" is unattainable.

I came across a letter to Let Your Life Bloom blog author, Vanessa Smith, from a reader struggling with these particular issues. Vanessa gives an insightful response which includes the advice to, "release your need to release you perfectionism." You can read the rest of her response, here.

Think of it this way, one of the most widely used and effective forms of torture is to repeatedly bombard someone with certain words or phrases that "get inside their head" and change the way they think and feel. This "programming" or "brainwashing" is devastatingly effective. When you repeat in your own mind negative, even cruel words and phrases, that you would probably never dream of saying to someone else, you are doing the same thing to yourself. It is a harsh analogy, and I mean it to be, because I want you to understand how hard you are being on yourself when you do that. You are wonderful, you deserve better, regardless of what anyone has told you in the past. Let that go. Give yourself the gift of kind words, and gratitude for all the incredible things that you are.

As my teacher Rammanand Patel says,
"Everything that you can do is a gift from God. Everything that you can't do is part of the wonderful challenge and adventure of life."

Try these positive mantras, when you hear a "contra-mantra" popping into your head:

I am beautiful.

I am strong and smart.

My body is healthy and full of vital energy.

I am an excellent mother/father/brother/sister/wife/husband/friend/worker.

I deserve love and respect.

I can do anything!

My life is full of abundance.

I am calm and resourceful.

I have everything I need.

I am loved.

I am peaceful.

I am safe.

Write your own positive mantra, or affirmation. Make it a short and positive "I" statement. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day. Write it down and tape it to a mirror, or the inside of your desk. Anywhere you can quickly access it when your need to counteract a "contra-mantra".

May you be happy, may you be free from all suffering.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Grateful for 15 Days and Counting

Only 15 days until my wedding. And for this I am truly grateful.

In large part because I am grateful because I get to marry my wonderful Michael. We have such a joy-filled life together. He makes it easy to be grateful for everything, and to forget the sorrows of the past. Here are some pics from our adventures, in the Emerald Gorge, China; and snowmobiling in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I am also grateful because creating a wedding is a lot of work! You know, I had heard this many times, but our wedding is so small, only 26 people...including us! How could it be so much work?!

I have had to pause many times during the rush and whirl of planning, and just rest in a few minutes of silence and deep breathing. What I find there is always the same; the touch my soul has waited for this whole life, rich and alive, and unbelievably mine. And then I can go back to resting in calm...

at least for a few minutes:-)

15 days!!!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, October 17, 2008

CAFE PRESS FREE shipping this weekend! coupon WEEKEND50.

For all my readers who LOVE the Blissful Body Yoga designs (yoga inspired, funny s-shirts, great gifts) on Cafe Press, here is the sweet FREE shipping deal for the weekend.

Blissful Body Yoga Store :

CAFE PRESS FREE shipping this weekend! coupon WEEKEND50.

Here's a little bit of what you will find on the site...

In Gratitude for Little Ones: the Campaign to Save the Lives of Children Under 5

Knit One Save One

If you knit or crochet consider making a hat for a little one in need. What a wonderful way to show gratitude, and love. Imagine the good energy and prayer you can put into a little hat as you make it, and how it will journey far and wide to a little person in desperate need of your love and comfort.

Visit Save The Children for more ways to help.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Finding Peace in Chaos

There is no doubt that we have a lot going on in this world today. As I was reading The Zen In You blog this morning, I felt such a sense of commraderie and compassion with it's author, Caroline. She talks about gettting "sucked in" to the vortex of negative energy swirling out there, by watching the news. I have had the same experience lately. I usually don't watch a lot of news. I find the reporting so negative, and so sensational, that I get very little valuable information out of it. But, lately, with SO much going on, I have been tempted to tune in. It has certainly reminded me why the level of panic and despair is so high for many people right now.

Even if you are in the most dire situation because of the financial upheaval in this world right now, turn off the tellie. Just turn it off. Focus on what you can do. As Caroline says in her blog,

"Now is the time to reach out...either for help...or to help someone who is hurting. Just a few kind words of encouragement helps..."

I offer you this meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment!
You may also enjoy the Healing Mandala meditation, here.

Namaste, and may you be filled with peace, and free from all suffering.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wear Your Gratitude on Your Heart.

Looking for a reminder of all you are grateful for?
Here is a way to wear gratitude filled, heart-centered designs right on your heart.
Brought to you by the Teal Designs and Blissful Body Yoga.

And there are lots, lots more.
Browse, buy, and wear in good health!