Thursday, March 27, 2008

Living in the Now

A few weeks ago, I took up knitting. To begin this adventure I collected about a dozen books from the local library and stopped by the craft store to purchase needles and yarn.

Sitting by the fireside, I pulled out the books thinking this would be easy. Within the first few minutes I realized that learn to knit via a book wasn't working very well for me.

My sons recommended YouTube. This proved to be a great idea. Mrs. Moskowitz's videos were very helpful. However, there was no mention of the importance of taking the yarn from inside the skein! Needless-to-say, I started knitting with the yarn on the outside.

Half-way into my first scarf, the yarn began to knot up; which I now know comes from starting on the outside of the skein. Information I could have used earlier.

As I'm struggling to de-tangle the messed up yarn, with only one end to work with, I found myself sighing (a lot). Finally Mike, my partner, came to help, but it seemed futile. He was patient; I was not. All I wanted was to knit, and all this de-knotting was getting in the way.

Finally, I took a break from this frustrating experience and read some Eckhart Tolle. As fate would have it, Echkart talked about three hindering viewpoint regarding time. That is, thoughts that take us out of the now. They were:

1. Viewing time as a means to an end (like the yarn incident).
2. Seeing time as an obstacle (such as when waiting for someone or something).
3. Time is the enemy resulting in complaining about whatever you are doing or your surroundings.

This may not be new news, but I needed to hear it at that moment. I returned to the project of detangling the yarn with a new perspective; instead of straightening out the yarn just to continue knitting, I considered the enjoyment of creating order out of chaos, the sight of the beautiful colors in the yarn, and the texture at my fingertips. Suddenly this "chore" became almost fun (I didn't say fun; almost fun). Without all the resistance I had brought to the table earlier, this time I was able to progress at a more rapid rate. Within 10 minutes the whole job was complete.

It's this attitude of accepting the current moment and being in it that our Yoga practice enhances. During a practice, we grow in awareness of the body, breath, and thoughts. This week in the classes I guide, we'll focus on this very idea.

Stop periodically and ask these three questions:

1. What is my body experiencing? Scan from the crown of the head to the tips of the toes. Is there tightness or pinching? Can you move or adjust in some way to create more comfort and expanse?

2. What is my breath like? Be the observer; do NOT judge, rather notice. Is the breath moving from the upper chest all the way to the navel? Is the breath free to fill the front, back, and side body?

3. What are the thoughts running through my head? Take a few moments to be still and just pay attention to what is going on in your head. Do not "run away" with the thoughts; rather watch them. As if the thoughts are a play and you are in the audience. You are not the thoughts; you are an observer of them.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Sounds of Silence

Communicating is a wonderful thing. Sometimes a phone call to a dear friend is just what the doctor ordered. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love to talk--maybe a bit too much!

At 43 years of age, I'm realizing the need to be quiet more. To listen. It's only when I'm silent that I stay fully aware of the moment and am truly open to receive what is around me.

Inspired by Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Anodea Judith, and Dr. Wayne Dyer, I have been and will be blogging less frequently than in the past. Perhaps this will change one day, but at this phase in my life I want to hear more clearly; frankly I feel pretty sure that it's time to "just shut up" for a while. Less opinions and more openness. Less outpouring and more incoming.

Less thinking and more being!

Sounds like perimenopause talking; regardless here are some thoughts on silence to ponder:

Silence in the doorway to the soul.
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa
“Silence is a source of great strength.” ~ Lao Tzu
“See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...we need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa
"It has been said God’s one and only voice is silence. No matter how you attempt to slice it up, silence is always silence. This indivisible root source of oneness is where the act of creation originates. " ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Benefits of Yoga - The Twist

Monday morning making small decisions seemed difficult. A close relative was undergoing heart surgery and had just recovered from carotid surgery on Saturday. Overall, I'm blessed to stay pretty positive and faithful in challenging times. My belief is that things happen for reasons.

As Oriah says (something like this), "The best you can do is be there for people. There are not always words or cures. Maintaining a high vibration is the most valuable gift you can give."

However, come Monday my steadiness was hidden behind a muddle of cloudy thoughts and feelings. Twisting is one of the best ways I know to return to center and find balance in life. Here's a portion of the practice that brought me so much balance and that we're working on in classes this week:

Start with equal breathing, either 1:1 (inhale is the same length as the exhale) or 1:1:1:1 (pauses are the same length as the inhales and exhales).

Warm up the body with some joint rotations and a sun salutation.

Follow with twisting sun salutation. Use your imagination; here's one suggestion:

Start in Mountain and lift your heels. Keeping the heels lifted exhale and twist to the right. Inhale to center. Exhale to left. Continue alternating sides a few times.

Exhale into standing forward bend and hold the outside of the left ankle (or leg) with the right hand. Inhale, both hands on the ground. Exhale, left hand to outer right ankle/leg. Repeat a few times.

Exhale to a lunge with the left leg back and left knee on the earth. Inhale hands to front knee and on an out breath twist to the right. If you're more flexible, take the left elbow to the outside of the right knee. Stay for 2-4 breaths. Release the twist on an inhale.

Exhale both legs to plank. More experienced Yogis may take side plank on each side.

Laying on the front body, inhale to cobra and exhale as you look over a shoulder. Each in breath look forward and each out breath alternate shoulders to look over. Repeat several times.

If you need a break, come into child's pose until your breath is steady and even.

Exhale to twisting down dog on both sides. (From down dog, walk your right hand a bit to the left and lift the left hand off the mat--be certain that you feel strong and integrated in the right shoulder. Reach the left hand to the outer right leg/ankle. Let your head dangle and release the neck.)

Exhale to lunge with the left leg forward. Just like before, drop the right knee to the ground and hands onto the left leg. Inhale lengthen in the spine like a growing lotus flower and exhale as you twist to the left. Stay for 2-4 breaths. Inhale to release the twist.

Exhale to standing forward fold. Take the twist here as described above.

Next exhale come through a squat and lie on your back.

Rest here.

Enjoy the wonderful balanced sensations from the miracle of twists!


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, March 14, 2008

How to Cook Steel Cut Oats

(Sorry, no picture. I was too busy eating!)

Check out this delicious recipe for steel cut oats. Before you run the other way, if you like rolled oats, trust me, this is worth a try. Years ago, I actually tossed a large container of steel cuts oats because they took to ridiculously long to cook and the taste was so-so. Not anymore!

The trick is the crock pot. No more stirring and cleaning up the oven after the inevitable boiling over when you're trying to get the oats to soften enough for eating.

Trick number two, is the delicious added ingredients. Thanks to Stephanie Gallagher for this fabulous recipe. (I've made a few changes below.)

Oh So Good Oats

2 cups steel cut oats
8 cups water
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 apples, diced
1 cup raisins

1 cup sliced bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (Toasted walnuts are extra yummy, but watch them closely to prevent burning.... Hum, wonder how I figured that out.)

Add the first 7 ingredients (oats to raisins) in a crock pot. Stir. Set the pot on low and go to sleep. (This is what makes it so cool!) Wake up and brush your teeth. Shower, etc. Go to kitchen and enjoy a wonderful bowl of steel cut oats with some banana and chopped walnuts sprinkled on top.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Anger Management Tips

When BJ (my firstborn) was an infant, there were days that I would call Scott (BJ's dad) and tell him to get home soon or I just might throw BJ through the window. (Don't worry, I never followed through!)

Looking back, and even at the time, I was filled with guilt and shame at not being able to calm this baby. He cried most of the time and suffered from chronic 3d degree colic. It was over four years before we actually slept through the night.

At the time, Yoga and meditation were foreign to me. I led a relatively unconscious life. I fully identified with my thoughts and emotions--not realizing they were not who I am.

Today, I believe that I would handle a challenging baby very differently. And I did handle my second child with more patience and centering.

What do you do when your emotions get the better of you? As one woman put on her blog, "What do you do when you can't take it any more?" The suggestions this blogger suggested in her poll are as follows:

I leave the situation.
I talk about it to whomever will listen.
I seek counseling.
I just suck it in and accept it.
I get it worked out on the spot.

I'd like to suggest some other ideas. In order to live a conscious life, which is truly what Yoga is about, consider other options to address feelings that storm in and want to take over:

Lie in savasana (on your back) and watch the feelings as a curiosity. See them for the energy that they are; not who you are but rather an energy passing through. Allow the feelings to pass and flow.

Meditate and find yourself re-connecting to Source. When you act from this place of peace, you separate yourSelf from emotions and act with more compassion and love.

Take a warm bath with the focus to renew. Use candles and soft music.

Take a walk in nature. If you stay present and notice the trees, birds, dirt, clouds, and sky, then you will begin to re-connect with who you really are.

In the throw of things, so to speak, stay aware. Resist getting pulled into your emotions. Watch them. Witness them. But always remember, you are not your feelings.

This all comes easier with a strong meditation practice. One might compare it to attempting to sail for the first time during a turbulent storm at sea. Odds are you'll sink. However, if you've been sailing in smooth waters and perhaps choppy ones, when the big storm comes you'll stand a good chance of surviving.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pranayama Techniques - CD Review

Have you ever wondered if your breathing "right" in your Yoga class? Some teachers encourage the Ujjayi (victorious uprising or breath of sound) to be loud enough to be heard across the room; others suggest maintaining a low gentle hum.

In Doug Keller's Pranayama CD, his soothing and gentle voice leads you into a state of deep relaxation and awareness by using the breath. There are 8 tracks on this CD taking about one hour. You can use any of these tracks on their own or together.

The CD opens with a mantra and then gets into the Ujjayi breath. From there Doug teaches a modified Viloma (interrupted breath) and 3-part breathing. Finally, he incorporated Kumbhaka (breath retention).

Mr. Keller's explainations are deeply rooted in philosophy. His poetic, yet practical, instructions offer the perfect means to deepening your pranayama practice. If you have never practiced pranayama, this CD is a wonderful way to start. At the same time, after years of devotion to pranayama, Doug enlightened me to many new aspects of this fine art.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Inspirational Story

A dear and wonderful friend just emailed this to me. Perhaps you've seen it before, but if you're like me a reminder is always nice.

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or...I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life. "

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," he said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life."

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter," he replied. "Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

He continued, "...the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said John. "She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity'" Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude...I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!