Friday, January 22, 2021

Breathing Lesson 2 Awareness

"Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Last week we began our year of mindfulness by a simple breathing lesson to get you used to considering your breath. I asked that you take at least 10 minutes morning and night to think about breathing, nothing else. This week we’ll take it a bit further. If you read the last post and didn’t follow through with breathing lessons, there’s no time like the present...

  • As with Breathing Lesson 1, find a comfortable space to sit or lie down. This time make sure it’s a quiet space. In the morning I prefer a bright room, and at night I prefer a dimmer setting or even a dark room. It’s up to you. This is your time.
  • If you are sitting, rest your hands on your lap, or on your stomach if you are lying down.
  • Again, tuck your chin slightly, relax your jaw, and allow your eyelids to lightly close (soft eyes).
  • Breathe, and welcome the the natural flow of your breath allowing your mind to relax. If a thought flows by, allow it to do just that, flow by and come back to your breath.
  • This week we will add conscience thought. Begin to welcome deeper breaths slowly. Then concentrate on your breathing and what it feels like as it moves in and out. Feel the sensation of breathing. Is it warm or cold? If cold, notice if and when it warms. Is it a calm breeze or a wild storm? If a wild storm, notice if and when it calms. Is it loose or tight? If tight, notice if and when it loosens up. Also, How do you feel when breathing deeper? With this exercise you are shifting attention to your body and becoming more aware. Through awareness we change.
  • Do this exercise for 10 minutes or longer each morning, throughout your day as often as you would like, and as you drift off to sleep.

Again, let this be easy. Concentrate on your body and the ebb and flow of your precious breath. This is the beginning of awareness. This is the door that opens mindfulness. Welcome home!

Next time we’ll take awareness a step further.

Stay safe. Take care,
Welcome? photo courtesy of Jimmy_Joe

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Breathing Lesson 1 Just Breathe

It sounds so easy to simply take a breath, but most of us don’t breathe fully, and thus don’t receive the full benefits of what taking-in a little more oxygen can do. Focused breathing is how we begin to be mindful. It guides us to being fully present in the moment.

So, let’s begin the year of mindfulness with a simple breathing exercise to get you used to considering your breath.
  • Sit with a relaxed posture in a chair or on a mat on the floor. Just be as comfortable as you would like to be. You can even lie down.
  • If you are sitting, rest your hands on your lap, or on your stomach if you are lying down.
  • Tuck your chin slightly and relax your jaw.
  • Allow your eyelids to lightly close (soft eyes).
  • Now, breathe in slowly through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  • Tune into the natural flow of your breath and allow your mind to relax.
  • If a thought flows by, allow it to do just that then come back to your breath.
  • Do this for 10 minutes or longer each morning, throughout your day as often as you would like, and as you drift off to sleep.
Let this exercise be easy. Simply breathe.

Next week, we’ll add more focus to our breathing. Until then just breathe.

Stay safe and take care,

Unable to find credit for just breathe graphics 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Finding Mindfulness in 2021

It was good, it was bad, it was ugly, and now it’s over. While January may not feel any different from December, a new year gives rise to the possibilities of the year ahead. Like so many of you, I’ve felt the pull of the ups and downs of this last year more than any other time in my life on global, national, and personal fronts, but I am driven by the vision of a better life for all of us as we move forward in 2021.

Since 2005 I've selected a personal intention word/theme each year. 2020s word was possibilities. I began each day with the intention to see the possibilities in the day ahead. It was an interesting word for me considering what possibilities I had contemplated at the beginning of the year and all the turmoil that erupted just a few months later. But it served me well and was a positive force as I considered the possibilities day after day. Some days it held me up, other days it pulled me forward, but possibilities always guided me to a better place. I know that possibilities will continue to be a part of me, as all my other word themes over the years have been. So, with gratitude I now let possibilities make way for my new word - mindful. Just what is mindful or mindfulness, let’s just say it’s a way of being present in thought and action. It’s awareness on steroids!

Last year I had a number of people ask me how to be mindful. That’s not an easy answer. Being mindful becomes a way of thinking, a way of being, and it continually evolves and takes shape. It comes, it goes, and I know I am a better person if I continue to bring awareness to it.

In the coming weeks I will begin shedding light on mindfulness. We’ll wake up our brains, give them focus, bring them peace, and who knows where that will lead us all. While 2020 won’t be a year easily forgotten, we can now move on with gratitude and hope into a mindful 2021.

Stay safe, be well,

Mind full v. mindful graphic courtesy of Heidi Forbes Ă–ste

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Finding Peace of Mind Amid Turbulent Times

In October I spoke at an outdoor, socially distanced, masked-up book club meeting. This club read my book, It Is What It Is, back in March and I was scheduled to speak in April at their next meeting, but we all know what happened last March. At the October meeting, book club members commented on the timing of reading my inspirational words as our day-to-day lives changed drastically and quarantining became the norm thanks to Covid-19.

I read It Is What It Is about once a year. Every time I read it, I’m reminded of observations, mindsets, or thoughts I explored at one time or another that brought me peace of mind. Observations, mindsets, and thoughts I might not be considering depending on what’s going on in my life. After all my readings, it never disappoints and always speaks to me differently depending what truths I am living and what my general mood is. I no longer read it as the author but solely as a reader. So, while the book club read along in March, I, too, read It Is What It Is again, and I’m glad I did. Many of the concepts outlined refreshed my day to day approach to life, and yes, brought me peace of mind as the world we all knew fell away from us. If you have read It Is What It Is, perhaps it's time for you to revisit my observations, mindsets, and thoughts and refresh your day to day approach to life while finding some peace of mind along the way.

I’ve given hundreds of copies of It Is What It Is away and hope that those readers inspired by my words will pay it forward and buy someone they know this book. All of the earnings to date have gone toward the purchase of more books to give to others. Add It Is What It Is to your holiday shopping list and have Amazon print up a fresh copy and ship it directly to those special people on your list. A book such as this keeps on giving every time you turn the pages. I have a link in the right sidebar to take you directly to Amazon. And thank YOU for your ongoing support.

If you are looking for lovely piano music to listen to while you read, my cousin, Joe Carolus, has just released his latest solo album. His inspiration will definitely bring a sense of peace during these turbulent times. Joe’s albums are available to play through your favorite music sites.

Be safe, stay safe, take care,

asa-yoga-meditating photo courtesy of Minoru Nitta

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Keeping It Simple

I am a detailed oriented person. But when too much information is being thrown my way, I have a tendency to back off and shut out or shut down. It’s a form of self-preservation to remove myself from whatever it is and allow my mind to consider, sort out, and take action - or not. I find that information overload clouds my mind, and quite frankly, can set up unwanted frustration.

*Definition of consider: think about, contemplate, give thought to, reflect on, examine, appraise, review; study, mull over, ponder, deliberate over, cogitate about, chew over, meditate on/over, ruminate over, turn over in one's mind; assess, evaluate, compare.

I have utilized every one of those defining words in trying to make one decision. It’s madness, and most of the time does not help me whatsoever. I have used a keep it simple philosophy for many things, but it’s particularly helpful with decision making - even when making big life decisions. It’s easy to overthink things, but it’s refreshing to just simply STOP and keep it simple.

Keeping it simple is a choice I make. It helps me maintain balance in my life, triggers more awareness and thus guides me in making more mindful decisions. That’s it! Keeping it simple leads to mindful decision making. It’s as simple as that.

Stay safe and take care,

Simple photo courtesy of Charlie Wales
*Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus