The Best Way to De-Stress

lotus.yoga.sun.It’s important to manage stress. That’s not news.

But a happy, fulfilled life is more than successful management of stress. And since it’s virtually impossible to have a life with no stress, that’s not the answer either.

Normally we think we have to de-stress and then we’ll be relaxed and happy. I’d like to turn that idea upside down and say: First get happy and then you won’t be stressed.

What you need—what we all need—is experiences that give us a super soul-satisfying, really great time! This is what builds up ever-greater tolerance of life’s regular stressors so you experience stress without feeling stressed.

In other words, do things that leave you feeling fulfilled. Do things that echo your inner needs—life-affirming activities that give a deeper meaning to your every day, literally making life worth living.

Just do it. Like Joseph Campbell said: “Follow your bliss.”

Do you know what brings you fulfillment? If you’re only sort-of sure, here are three ways that can help you get clearer. Give yourself some quiet time away from the hectic demands of daily life, and try one of these:

  1. Sit quietly in a meditative way and listen for the longings of your heart. As your mind-chatter settles down and your mind becomes quiet don’t worry if negative, unhelpful thoughts come in. Just let them go as much as you can, and keep a strong intention to hear your heart’s desires. As answers drift up, listen without judgment and don’t dismiss anything.
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  2. Sit in a quiet space with your journal and write down everything you think of that would make you sublimely happy to be doing. Don’t be surprised if you get thoughts about what you don’t want to do as well. Write those down too; it clears them out of the way so your true longings can come through.
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  3. Sit or lie in a relaxed way and think back to times in your life when you were innocently happy and everything felt right with your world. What were you doing? What was the essence of that activity? For example, were you in nature, were you alone, were you with people? Were you making art, making music, cooking? Whatever it is, make a big reminder note to yourself to do it more often.

Love loves love,

Mayana Devi

Mind-Body Magic in Action | A Story

Today I was thinking about those moments in our past that have a hold over us in the present. You know what I mean, right?

You can pretty much tell this is going on when something in your life isn’t working, and no matter how much you practice positive thinking, set goals or “work on it”, you just can’t turn it around.

It’s frustrating when you’re doing everything you can, and things don’t change.

And it’s magical when you can time-travel in your mind … go back into the past and find the moment that’s holding you back. You can look that moment in the eye, bring it out of darkness and it loses it’s power over you.

It’s a powerful method, and one of my favorites for helping people move forward. So I thought I’d tell you a story about the way something like that happened to me.

Why I Couldn’t Set Goals

I tell my clients to dance with their dreams, and part of that dance, part of making dreams come true is setting goals. For more than 25 years I’ve helped people set goals and work toward them and I know it works.

Yet for a long time I was less structured with my own goals than I taught others to be. I liked mine less firm, more fluid, more imaginary. And I hated deadlines.

I was always okay with that. I accepted it. “It’s just the way I am.”

Then one day I was with a group of counselors having an animated talk about goals, and I started feeling RESISTANCE and CONFUSION. It took me by surprise because I thought I was so clear about this!

But there I was, having a light-bulb moment as I realized the resistance and confusion were telling me to go looking for something deeper than, “It’s just the way I am.”

I love mind-body magic, so I actually got excited as I realized there must be a disconnect between what I know about goals and something I once learned to believe about them.

I dove into memory to look for the “moment” and found it right away. I was a teenager and my parents created a goal for me when they said: “You have to get better marks (grades) on your next school report card or you won’t be allowed to go to band practice any more.”

My parents, bless them, were trying to motivate me to improve my schoolwork.

But band was my link with sanity, the one place in the world where things made sense, where I knew what was expected, where I knew what to do. Band was music. Band was where I belonged!

I was scared.

And I was motivated.

I went to my room and pulled out my books to study, only to realize I had no clue what to do next! Every page turned into a blur in front of my eyes and when I thought about the whole chapter, and more chapters after that, I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t learn a thing.

The truth is I didn’t know how to study because until now school had always been easy for me. Now I was confused and upset and I felt like a failure.

That moment is when the belief got created and it went like this: “I see the goal and I can’t get there.” And with it came a feeling of defeat.

No wonder I didn’t like concrete goals! I felt defeated before I even got started. But now I had looked the moment in the eye and the spell it held over me was broken.

I started setting clear goals and taking the same step by step actions I taught other people. Was it a challenge to change the style of a lifetime? You bet! But I wanted to move forward faster than dreams and imagination alone could take me.

Here are a few things that helped me get started in my new-for-me goal-setting style.

7 Keys for Achieving Success with your Goals
  1. Make your goal specific and realistic and give it a time-line.
  2. Write it down and say it aloud, with confidence, every day.
  3. Visualize yourself in the future with your goal accomplished.
  4. Break down big steps into smaller steps and take it one step at a time.
  5. Realize mistakes are not failures, they’re part of learning. It’s okay to mess up.
  6. Celebrate every success along the way, no matter how small.
  7. Life is fluid. Change your goal to adapt to changes in needs.

Vibrant Green

Kale is my favorite superfood. It’s nutrient dense, easily available and you can prepare it in sooo many ways. My favorite is putting it in green juice. It’s great in smoothies, it’s fun to make kale chips and there are endless, beautiful kale salads.

Did you know it will grow all year round even in the snowy middle of winter? It survives under the snow and you just reach through to pick it. This hardy little vegetable also has a hearty ability to be warming and filling during the cold season.

So why am I writing about it at the beginning of spring? That’s a good question.

I got busy and distracted this winter. Stopped making my daily green juice and, because it was a super-cold winter, I ended up eating more for warmth and less for green nutrition. I ended up not feeling very peppy.

So now I’m loving kale as a transition food from winter to spring, from “falling off the wagon” to nurturing my cells in a green way again. I went back to making green juice every day and I love the way I felt almost instantly! And I’m craving kale salads.

Craving nutrient rich foods is a great sign, and usually after you eat them out of discipline for awhile that craving will kick in. And once it does, it means your body recognizes the nutrients and wants more of what’s good for you.

Making kale salad is a lot like making any other salad … you can be creative and go with your gut about what will taste and look good. It can be super simple on a busy day or more elaborate when you have time to experiment.

Prepping the Kale

Take the kale leaves off the stems and cut the leaves into bite sized pieces. If you’re using flat leaf (lacinato) kale, you can give it a nice look by cutting it into strips about 1/2 an inch wide.

That is all you need to do with the kale.

Or …

If you like, you can massage the kale for a wilted, softer salad.

Massage it by mixing the kale with lemon juice (1/2 -1 lemon for 1 bunch of kale) and a little sea salt (up to 1/2 tsp to taste). Now massage the kale with your fingers for 2 or 3 minutes until it starts to soften and all surfaces of the kale are coated.

Four Super-Simple Salads

1. Mix crumbled goat cheese into the kale

2. Mix in dried cranberries and pine nuts

3. Mix in thinly sliced red onion and very thin granny smith apple slices

4. Add edamame, sliced black olives and sun-dried tomatoes

Add a drizzle of olive oil or your favorite dressing to any of the above and enjoy!

Go green!

Mayana Devi

 

Get Ready for a Miracle

Healing takes work. When it looks like someone healed instantly it doesn’t mean they didn’t do the work. More likely the healing you saw is one step of many, just like the overnight Hollywood success that didn’t really happen overnight, but began with years of study, hard work, even sacrifice.

It’s easy to understand the work and commitment that go into a Hollywood success.  But what does commitment have to do with thriving into health and life? Here’s the thing:

When you decide to take responsibility for your healing you commit to sticking with both the inner and outer work. You’re willing to face parts of yourself you don’t want to look at. You stick with it when you feel fear and uncertainty, or in the face of the seemingly impossible. You stick with it when it’s uncomfortable, when you don’t like what you see, when you don’t feel like it, when it’s hard. You stick with it.

When you accept your biggest challenge and commit to learn from it, I promise you your life will change. Your desire to learn will transform that challenge into your greatest opportunity, even your greatest joy!

Mind-body magic is not the same for everyone, because each person has unique needs and circumstances. But some things are universal … here are three steps to help you heal from the inside out:

  1. Look deeply into your emotional life and find everywhere you harbor negative feelings toward anyone or anything. Let them go, all at once or a little bit more every day.
  2. Spend time generating positive thoughts and attitudes. Think of things in your life that bring up feelings of appreciation, gratitude and love, and enjoy feeling it. Do this every day and the feelings will grow stronger. Not only will you feel great but it will get easier and easier to let go of negative thoughts and attitudes.
  3. When any of this is a challenge talk to a trusted friend or adviser about it, or write in a journal. Keeping things bottled up is stressful and not good for healing and transformation.

These three practices clear energetic blocks and also start your unconscious mind percolating with delightful and unexpected insight and awareness to help you on your journey.

Decide today to take responsibility for your life no matter what. It’s the most important thing you can do for your healing, the most important commitment you will ever make and it puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life.

Don’t think for a minute that it’s selfish. Without this commitment to yourself you can’t care for others in any meaningful way. You first. You first so you have the strength and well-being to be there for others you care about.

Right now. I invite you to get committed in a whole new way to your life and your well-being. When you take that step mind-body magic will happen. When you wait for someone else to fix it or blame someone or something for the way things are, you shut the door to miracles.

Open the door for a miracle.

Mayana Devi

Keeping Your Balance in Holiday Stress

 ‘Tis the season to be happy and joyful.

Yet, as we move deep into the season, I speak to many people who have a love-hate relationship with the holidays, and others find it downright miserable as they grapple with memories of the past that come up for review every year at this time.

If you find yourself feeling this way, awareness and acceptance are great healers. We can’t always change a situation, and we certainly can’t change other people. But we can choose how we spend our time, who we spend it with, and in a challenging moment we can take a deep breath, settle down and make a conscious choice about what to do next.

What are your Christmas / Holiday triggers? Are they huge or have they become more manageable over the years? Whatever their size, when you get triggered you’ll be happier if you accept your difficult feelings as normal, and let them live side-by-side with your happy, loving, joyful feelings. Feelings aren’t logical, and we’re completely capable of having more than one feeling at a time, even when they appear to be in conflict.

My Christmas-Triggers have been whittled smaller over the years, but I still watch for them so they don’t catch me off guard. When I notice I’m triggered into a difficult feeling and I consciously let it be, then I’m at choice about what I do and how I interact with others. If I don’t notice, I’ll probably reach for a cookie, because that’s my default response to stressful feelings.

My auto-pilot thinks cookies are the answer to just about everything. In fact, cookies have been known to call to me from across the room! This is no small thing, and I worked very hard at one time to recover from craving sweets. I feel super healthy when I DON’T eat them and uber-awful when I do. What I’m saying is that when I ignore what I’m feeling and let my unconscious take control, I become out-of-control with cookies. So I’d rather be aware.

What is your default response to challenges at this time of year?  Do you numb out with too much food, or the wrong kind of food? Maybe you withdraw from being connected to people. Or you stay engaged but feel frustrated, irritated or angry.

If you want to be happier and feel your joy as well as your frustration, then let go of your expectations of people. Your mother, your sister, your uncle, your friend… what if you were to accept the things they do? The very things that usually make you cringe and react. Yep, you can pretty much count on Uncle Harry dominating the conversation. Your sister probably still wants to know why you aren’t married yet (or something equally none of her business). Your mother will likely treat you like you’re 15 years old. Or whatever it is in your family. Accept it.

I can assure you that holding expectations for people to behave in a certain way is a recipe for unhappiness. Accepting their behavior doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like things to change. Of course you would! But now it’s a preference and your happiness doesn’t depend on anyone changing. It comes from within and you can feel downright amazing and joyful that way!

Let me know how it goes this year, okay? If you feel inspired to share, please leave your thoughts below. Everyone learns from everyone else that way. I promise I’ll share if you do. 🙂

To Acceptance and JOY!

Mayana Devi

How Awareness Heals

How often do we hear that if we could just love everyone we would be happy, joyful, and yes… healthier. And being in a state of love all the time, well that would be amazing!

Hands up if you love everyone, all the time, no matter who, no matter what!

The truth is that for most of us this is a lofty goal that we’re working toward. To be in a place where we feel Universal Love move through us to the most difficult people, no matter who, no matter what. Most of us just aren’t there yet, or we’re there sometimes but not always.

Isn’t it a great feeling when we get there for even a moment? And then like a pendulum we swing back to “normal” and normal includes a whole range of feelings, both positive and negative.

If love and joy create happiness and health it’s just as true that harboring negative emotions brings unhappiness and ill-health. Anger, resentment, hate, fear… these things can make or keep us sick.

Knowing this, you probably want to feel as “up” as you can. You might even feel guilty and scared about your negative feelings because you’ve been told to “stay positive” so your body will receive the positive messages your cells needs for healing.

Or maybe you’re worried you’re creating bad karma or you’re scared about the Universal Law that says we bring into our life what we are most focused on. In other words, when we put out anger we’re going to get anger back, or when we put out fear, we’re going to attract into our life the very thing we’re afraid of.

 

Well … for most of us it’s just not possible to “stay positive” all the time, but here is the good news. You don’t have to wait to be fully expanded and in a constant state of gratitude to take the stress off your health and even your happiness!

The key is awareness. When you are aware of a negative feeling at the time you’re having it, that awareness removes the karmic effect… it changes the energy you’re sending into the universe, and it changes the messages your body is receiving.

The mind-body talk goes something like this: ”Look, I’m really, really angry (resentful/scared) right now and I don’t know how I’m going to get through it but I am going to do something, so you don’t need to take this on. I’m handling it.”

This is the message your body gets when you are aware and take responsibility for your feelings, whether you actually “say” those words consciously or not. And you can send a conscious message to your cells if you want to make your message feel more intentional … but you don’t have to.

I was once the Queen of anger and fear and I didn’t even know it, in fact I didn’t know how to recognize most of my feelings. But when I was a young mother healing my back, I gradually learned how to recognize my feelings and especially how to work through the difficult ones.

I know this road very well and it’s powerful medicine. I went from not even knowing what I was feeling, even though I was angry or scared a lot of the time, to being able to recognize my feelings as I was having them. And no matter where you are on the continuum of feeling-awareness, you can too.

Homework: Allow yourself to open to greater awareness of feelings. Know that negative thoughts and feelings will come and go and that it’s natural. Know that your moment of awareness IS the healing moment, the moment of magic, the moment that changes everything and makes growth possible.

And as for loving everyone? You don’t have to. Just don’t hate anyone, and if there’s someone you “don’t prefer” … accept them anyhow. Accept that as a human being they have a right to their life and a right to not be judged by you. Then whenever that person comes into your mind, think about your acceptance and then think about something else.

Mayana Devi

How I Learned about Mind-Body Healing

It was 30 years ago, and I had a back injury that stopped me having much of a life. I couldn’t work or do everyday things like drive, carry my baby or even do my own dishes!

I spent much of my pregnancy on bedrest, and a few months after my baby was born I had major surgery to correct the problem. It was exciting to think I would be up and around again! But that didn’t happen, and doctors couldn’t explain why I didn’t recover.

Eventually I realized it was up to me to find my own healing if I ever wanted to have a normal life again.

In my search for answers I met a healer, and was inspired by her story of personal healing after the Mayo Clinic told her there was no hope. From her I learned that there are many dimensions to getting well, and I knew if she could do it then I could too.

And I did. With her help, along with my fast-growing library of self-healing books and the support of a doctor who finally believed me, I gradually got my life back and it was such a gift!

What goes around comes around, and I was quickly given an opportunity to pay it forward.

Soon after I recovered, my close neighbor was diagnosed with a benign, grapefruit-sized tumor in her belly. Denise’s doctor wanted to do surgery right away, but she asked him for one month and came to see me. She wanted to know what I had done to heal myself because she hoped to avoid surgery.

We had tea, chatted about it and I gave her a simple program that day. She didn’t mention it again so about six weeks later I was pretty curious, as the doctor’s one month deadline had come and gone. I asked her how it was going, and in her matter-of-fact way she said, “The growth is gone, completely gone.”

A truly inspiring story!

30 years later I am still awed and fascinated by the power of mind-body healing.

Making Friends with your Body

 

I love this picture because it gives me a warm, happy feeling about my immune cells. When I look at this picture I can easily imagine they’re on my side. They’re part of my team, they’re willing, they’re open and they’re ready to help.

I used to see my cells in black and white. Sort of disembodied parts of myself that I hoped would do the job. I would talk to them but I wasn’t sure if they were listening. I was afraid of what they would or wouldn’t do next. It’s like they weren’t a part of me at all!

And I was petrified when I realized our immune cells are responding to every single thought we have, becoming sluggish with negative thoughts and more active with positive thoughts.

So it was an important moment for me when I realized my immune system is friendly. It wants to help. We’re on the same team and my cells don’t hold me responsible for every accidental negative thought I have.

In fact, the more I become aware of my own negativity the less my body responds to it. Being aware of our negative thoughts brings them into the open air, into the light of day, and when we look at them with awareness they lose their power.

So give yourself a big, helping, healing hand by paying attention to your thoughts. Notice your positive thoughts and appreciate them. Observe your negative thoughts and don’t worry about them.

And get reconnected with your body.

I say RE-connected, since you and your body are never really separate, and what you want is to get back in touch with the connection that’s always there. Here are three steps to help get you and your body reconnected so you’re on the same team.

How to Make Friends with Your Body

  1. Have a conversation with your body, with your cells, with your symptoms. And don’t just talk, but also listen carefully. You’re partners in this relationship. Ask, “What do you want me to do to help resolve the health issues we’re facing?” Or, “What do you want me to know?”
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  3. Now wait for a thought or impulse or intuition that seems like part of the converstion. Don’t be surprised if it makes no sense at first. If you’re not sure what it means, ask more questions.When you have an actual conversation, your body can tell you things you need to know to move forward in resolving issues in your life that affect your health and happiness.
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  5. Write about your conversations in a journal because, once you’re back in the “ordinary reality” of your day, these talks usually feel dreamlike and your day-to-day mind may convince you they’re not important. Or you’ll forget them completely the way we forget dreams.
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  7. Take action on the things you learned! This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how easy it is to forget the part about taking action. Make a note and do it, whatever “it” is.
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As in any important relationship, listen carefully, remember the impact of the conversation and take action on what you learn.

The more you accept your body as a friend and team-mate, and the more you move into full relationship with your body, the more you’ll find it’s a very supportive friend, indeed.

Legs Up the Wall

I LOVE Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani Mudra).

It’s my absolute favorite restorative yoga pose and often my favorite part of the day, especially after a lot of desk-sitting or a long drive or flight. As a restorative pose it’s simple to hold and it has most of the headstand’s benefits without the effort and skill of a headstand.

I often do a simple version with no bolsters. Penny demonstrates the simple version at the beginning of this video and she’ll also tell you some more of the amazing benefits. Enjoy!

Thrive!

Greetings everyone!

The Solstice has come and gone and I hope you are enjoying beautiful end-of-September weather.

My summer was fruitful, and fall brings a new look with a new name (look up top!) and a new commitment to serving you in a higher way than before.

No matter where you are on the curve of wellness and life growth, no matter what your story, it always comes down to this question ~

Where are you now, where do you want to be and how are you going to get there with joy and purpose?

But here’s the thing. When you don’t have good health to sustain your involvement in life, it can be nearly, if not completely, impossible to move forward. I’ve been there and I get it, and I will be offering more targeted support for facing difficult health challenges ~ you’ll find it in newsletter and blog articles, in teleseminars and in Thrive training sessions.

How did I decide on Thrive?  I think it decided on me!

One night I woke up from a sound sleep with the word thrive  in my mind. I thought, “Mmmm … I like that word,” and turned over to go back to sleep. But a voice inside said “This is important!”

Well, I got up … because I’ve learned to trust that voice … and I wrote down thrive so I wouldn’t forget it and then I went back to sleep. The next day I spent some time playing with it and after awhile this is what I was looking at:

THRIVE!

T   Take charge of your life and your healing
H   Have a conversation with your body and really listen
R   Relax and transform your stress into renewable, healing energy
I    Imagine perfect health is possible for you
V   Visualize your wellness and inspire your body to heal itself
E   Expect the healing you want and know you deserve it

A beautiful illustration of what I’m so passionate about sharing with people! And I can’t wait to share more with you soon.

But first …  a special offer in celebration of Thrive!  See it here.

 

Ready to move forward in a bigger way?

Are you ready to get clear and start moving forward in a bigger way? To celebrate Thrive! I am offering you the chance for a four-week private coaching program with me.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the next two weeks I am offering free Strategy Sessions. A strategy session leaves you feeling supported, confident and more sure of your next steps, and to apply for one, all you have to do is email me and answer one question:

Q. What is your biggest health or life challenge right now?

I plan to serve as many people with this offer as my schedule allows, so if you feel inspired and want that call, send me an email.

Everyone who applies for a strategy session will also be entered to win the four-week coaching program, an awesome opportunity to take what you learn in the strategy session and move forward with it even further, so if you want private coaching and it’s been feeling out of reach, this may be your chance.

If this is not for you, but you know someone who might benefit from the offer please send them this link so I can reach as many people as possible with this opportunity.

THRIVE! 

T   Take charge of your life and your healing
H   Have a conversation with your body and really listen
R   Relax and transform your stress into renewable, healing energy
I    Imagine perfect health is possible for you
V   Visualize your wellness and inspire your body to heal itself
E   Expect the healing you want and know you deserve it

Letting Go – We Would if We Could!

How often do you read that letting go is the answer? Or someone tells you “Just let go of that, you’ll feel so much better!” Or happier, or lighter, or more relaxed … more of whatever you’re not feeling now.

We KNOW letting go is the way to move forward. And we would if we could. But sometimes we get stuck holding on.

Maybe it’s something material or maybe it’s an emotion, a reaction you want to move through your body and up on out. What can you do right now?

How about instead of trying to let it go you just let it be? Let it live in you with awareness. And to heighten your awareness try giving it form … draw it, dance it, sing it, write it.

And then turn your attention elsewhere. Instead of struggling to let go so you can feel lighter and happier, do something that helps you get to that joyful, playful, light-hearted place NOW.

Do the things that make you feel lighter NOW and enjoy those feelings now. You might even find that whatever you want to let go of starts to get lighter and lighter until it lifts off by itself!

How to do this?

My personal favorite for fun, insight and getting out of your worry-mind is to make art with no rules the way you did when you were a kid. If you want help getting started sign up for my free Virtual Mini Retreat (on the right side of this page). It has a great activity that will get you playing with crayons : )

What else can you do?

Get your body moving. Play baseball or volleyball, go for a swim, dance! or go for a walk. Walking is amazing in its ability to move us forward. Tangled thoughts get sorted out and wild emotions settle down so we can think straight again.

Play with a child, giggle and be silly. It’s a great way to get into your heart and into the moment and stop fretting.

Spend time with a pet and really get into your non-verbal communication. It’s another great way to get out of your head and into the moment.

I’m sure you can think of more. Whatever makes you feel good and helps you forget your SERIOUS self for awhile is what you’re looking for.

It’s about having fun BEFORE things work out, before we let go, before we have everything arranged just right, and doing it NOW because now is the only moment we have, after all.

Gratitude – Cracking Open My Mind

In my yoga community we talk about “switching the angle of the mind” when we want to look at something in a new and more positive way. This often takes daily effort, but the other day it was sudden and unexpected and fun!

I read a new-to-me quote from the 17th Century Matthew Henry:

“Thanksgiving is good,
but Thanks-living is better.”

Wow! I felt my mind crack open in a new place … it was subtle and profound at the same time. Thanks-living. I wondered what it meant, then asked myself what it would mean to LIVE my thanks. I was definitely having a Wow! moment and it felt amazing.

I was in that place Buddhists call “no-mind”, where we wait for answers to questions our minds would answer in a flash if they had control at that moment. But instead of giving it over to our busy-mind, we sit in wonder and allow the no-mind answer to emerge. It’s almost always simpler and often a wonderful surprise. The no-mind answer comes from intuition, God, Light, Source, Universe, Creator… and is pure grace.

You probably experience this when you practice guided imagery, when you meditate, when you open yourself to someone else’s healing hands and energy. You put yourself in an open state, ready to receive knowledge or healing. The answers you get, the results you experience are gifts from the Universe.
So there I was, with my mind not in charge and cracked open in the most delightful way. My usual thoughts about living with an attitude of gratitude floated past my inner eye… how it lifts us out of our selfish concerns, helps us believe in a positive future, how our immune system perks up, and how we feel generally better and happier and more loving toward others.

And on that day, wondering what it would mean to LIVE my thanks, I was taken with a new idea. What if whenever I feel thankful, whenever I feel gratitude, I turn around and GIVE to someone else. Automatically, every time, right then.

That was my Wow! And as it sank in I realized what a beautiful practice this would be.

Live Your Thankfulness

  1. Start by noticing whenever you feel thankful. Of course, this will heighten your awareness in every moment and you’ll feel gratitude way more often because you’re looking for it all the time!
  2. Allow your gratitude to flow through you… feel it, speak it, paint it, write it, sing it. Whatever you like to do, according to who you are 🙂
  3. Here’s the NEW part, to me at least, and you don’t have to finish step two before moving on with this, in fact the sooner you do this the better! Look for a person, group or any being you can give to in some way.

Your gift doesn’t have to represent anything and it doesn’t have to be huge. It might be a compliment or an expression of appreciation or that special smile you have. You’ll know. Do this every time you experience gratitude. Seriously.

There you have it. There’s my Wow! turned into a daily practice, my attitudinal twist on “paying it forward”. For health, for peace, for pure joy. In the beginning it will be deliberate. One day, after continued practice, the cycle of gratitude and gifting will be such a well-worn path it will be perfectly continuous and without thought. Enjoy!

Take Your Troubles for a Walk

Walking for transformation

What do you do when you feel stuck with a decision and don’t know how to move through it? Or you feel intense, reactionary emotion and don’t know how to relax so you can find your center, find your clarity again?

One of the things I do is walk. Not just my usual, throw myself out the door, get some exercise walk, but a walk with the specific intent of learning and transforming. You might call it a walking meditation, or walking reflection. It’s one of my favorite therapies.

Walking moves the body and deepens the breath. We become relaxed and open to new thoughts and ways of being;  it can help us shift out of habitual ways of thinking and our mind becomes free to find new solutions. If you’ve been turning a problem over and over in your mind with no solution, take your troubles for a walk.

How far you walk and the pace you set is up to your inclination and fitness capabilities. If illness or injury prevents you from walking, then you can imagine your walk, doing the exercise in your mind. This fires the muscles you would use if you were actually walking, and encourages your whole system to maintain it’s belief in the ability to move.

Set your intention

Before you begin your walk, know what you’re asking for.  You might, for example, be facing a career choice, be in the middle of a family disagreement, or facing a decision about health care. Be clear about the issue and ready to let it go as a “problem” and receive a solution.  Be committed to acting on the answer you receive.

Head out the door

As you head out on your walk, hold an image of the question in your mind, but acknowledge that you don’t know the answer and let go of active problem-solving. The idea is to get your busy mind out of the way so your creative mind can discover new ways of looking at things. Notice how good it feels to let the problem go. Notice your thoughts as they come and go. Allow them to shift and change without holding onto them, without directing them in any way. Enjoy your body movement. Enjoy the release of handing over your question to your intuitive, creative mind.

The answer

At some point you may notice a thought that speaks differently to you than the others. It may be a sudden, strong new thought. Or a seemingly insignificant thought that keeps coming back until you begin to notice it in a new way. If it seems to be asking for your attention, then pay attention. Keep walking, and ask yourself if this might be your answer, or the beginning of an answer to your question.

Sometimes a beginning is what we’re given, sometimes more. Sometimes my answer is a new attitude with which to address the puzzle. Walk until you feel you understand what you’ve received and are sure you’ll remember it.

Take some quiet time after your walk. New awareness can be fragile, slipping out of the mind if we get busy too fast, so try not to rush into another activity right away. Nurture your new awareness, and think about how you might act on what you’ve learned.


Mind-Body Magic

A direct connection exists between a person’s mental attitude and their ability to heal. Some say that mental attitude affects a person’s ability to do almost anything.

My introduction to this kind of thought came as a girl in the 1960s when my father gave me a book called Psycho-Cybernetics. Dr. Maxwell Maltz maintained that with regular practice a person could improve self image in such a way that s/he would develop a more successful and fulfilling life. It all hinges, he said, on the creative imagination.

Picture it

Use your imagination to create an image that represents your goal, he said. The more you focus on it, the more your mind will accept it, and the more your automatic systems will fall into place to support it. Since the subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined, the pictures we make in our minds create our future, he said. This made sense to me.

For instance, picture yourself in a successful job interview and imagine everything about it. Practice this for several days or more, and you will almost certainly feel an increase in confidence and positive expectation for the actual interview. This increases your chance of success. On the other hand, if you nurture your fears about the interview by imagining all the things that could go wrong, then things are more likely to go wrong.

Mind-Body Pioneers

The power of imagination in healing has been acknowledged for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Indian science of Ayurveda, and other traditional cultures. Not so in western medical science. But during the alternative years of the ’60s and ’70s it’s no surprise that some western doctors began using mind-body healing with their patients. They observed remarkable results.

Dr. Bernie Siegel is a pioneer of mind-body healing in the west. He believes that healing power originates in the human mind and will. He believes that love heals. He believes in miracles.

In 1978, Bernie (as he prefers to be known) originated a form of holistic support called Exceptional Cancer Patients (ECaP) in which patients worked with drawings, dreams, images and feelings as a part of their healing process. The mainstream medical community was more than skeptical. Yet his 1986 book Love, Medicine, and Miracles inspired an eager audience and continues to inspire new generations, as do his subsequent books.

Science Catches Up

Science has gone to work catching up. The new field of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has made healthy waves in mainstream medicine by putting mind-body healing to the test. In studying the interaction of mind and spirit with immune function, it has found that depressed or hopeless states of mind depress the immune system. Positive emotions and a sense of hope and encouragement activate the immune system. Science can now tell us that mind and body are not separate but are one system, linked and coordinated by actual molecules of emotion.

What To Do With It

There are many ways to work with this knowledge. Creative self-expression enlivens the spirit and creates positive feelings. Meditation and relaxation techniques are calming and feed the spirit. Examining emotions and coming to terms with difficult feelings releases tension and we feel happier. Following our passion creates positive emotions beyond measure. Mental imagery creates hope and faith in the healing ability of the body, and provides a healthy image for our cells.

In the end it seems that healing imagery is not so different from my early lessons of the 1960s; you just shift the angle of your mind from outside to inside results. At first this seemed like magic to me. Now, thanks to PNI, it’s mind-body magic with the support of western medicine.