Saturday, September 13, 2014



Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again
Until now.

Until now.

                 ~  by David Whyte

I first heard this simple yet hauntingly beautiful poem over a year ago while attending an 8 day retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli.  Jon recited the poem, from memory, while we sat in silence, breathing in, breathing out.  The two of them did this throughout the retreat.  The words of this poem struck me deeply.  I memorized it on the spot.
Throughout that day and the days that followed, and now weeks and  months later I still recite the poem. Enough.  Each time I say it I feel my shoulders drop,  my body gets a little heavier, my breathing slows just a bit.  I arrive in the moment....this moment is enough.
Yesterday a patient of mine passed forward a wonderful story of the one word that brings happiness.  This particular client is wildly wealthy, has more than most but still pushes hard filling most minutes of his day with doing more.  He reflected he got into a cab in NY and the Ethiopian driver asked him if he knew the one word that brought happiness.  My client said he did not and so the cabbie launched into his story and shared the one word which can bring happiness.  Jerry told me the story, quite animated, arms gesturing, eyes sparkling, I knew it must be a fantastic word. When he got to the word, he paused, and then let loose "enough".  Even as he said the word, just as Kabat-Zinn had recited the poem I slipped into enough.
Try it on. 
Take a few minutes right now, right here and  notice how you are feeling.  Are your shoulders tense? Can you feel the movement of your breath in/out of your belly? Can you feel those parts of your body in contact with your chair, with the ground?  Once you get a sense of this moment, try out the word enough? Does it have an impact on your awareness? on your words?
What would it mean to be enough? to have enough? to love enough? play enough? work enough? For me it is a powerful word filled with truth, I am,  I have, I do, enough.  And yet so often I find myself striving to get one more thing done, fill in one more gap, try just a little harder.  Ever rehashing the past, projecting into the future, But with enough I can rest, I can enjoy, I can love, I can sing, I can dance, I can be here now.
I love the word enough and for most of us we  don't let ourselves be....enough.
It has been proven, repeatedly, that stress causes disease and can even kill and yet I wonder if we lived in a world where enough was part of our daily conversation if in fact we'd have less stress related events.   What would it be like if we just allowed ourselves not to worry about more but to be with enough?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


September 23 marked the beginning of autumn.  A favorite time of  year for me.  I look forward to the crisp mornings and evenings, the days shortening and the preparations for winter.  Spring and summer are filled with external activities while fall begins to beckon me inward to a quieter time.  I don't know if that is what happens for others, but certainly for me.  As an introvert I welcome quiet inward moments.  My friends and business partner Pam, suggests that extroverts enjoy inward moments too.
Each year I like to take a class or attend a retreat or some special event to further my own process of healing or health.  Last year I attended a wonderful writing workshop that was the impetus for this blog.
This year's "special event" is an 8 week course, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  The first class was yesterday.  We attend weekly classes but the bulk of the class happens on our own trying out and cultivating various forms of mindfulness.
I wanted to share the journey of these 8 weeks, my impressions, insights and the practices. Mindfulness has been around for centuries in the eastern cultures.  Jon Kabat-Zinn started documenting amazing health producing benefits from simple mindfulness practice back in the 70's. Since that time more and more research has been done and the results are nothing short of astounding.  In as little as 8 weeks of mindful meditation you can actually change your brain.  Thicken the areas that support calm, connection, creativity and diminish areas of stress, reactivity.  I have had a formal mindful practice for about 11 months now and I have loved the results.  Lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improved sleep and less reactivity.  It was these kinds of results that made me think a class in this form of meditation might be a positive thing.
In my physical therapy and Rolfing practice I try to lead my clients into some form of body awareness.  Usually I start with the breath, where it is, where it isn't.  From there we move into heavy bones, tight tissues, sounds in the rooms,  feeling the support of the table beneath them.  People are often amazed at how relaxed they can feel and how easy it is to practice on their own.
That said this is what I got from yesterday's class.  A great big exhale that has lasted for hours now, a complete down regulation of my nervous system as I realized all i really had to do was listen, or breath, or tend to whatever was in front of me.....this is big stuff for an anxiety driven woman like me...
They asked us to say why we were attending the class.  I had to go first so had no time to prepare what I was going to say.  What came out surprised me.  I shared that I was still recovering from a divorce 5 years ago and that I just didn't feel like me yet.  That something was missing.  Later in the circle of 25 people someone remarked about integrating meditation into their life, and bingo I realized what I needed was to integrate me back into my life.  When we go through big life changes we often isolate from people and activities that before the crisis were routine and part of our daily life. After a crisis when we start to put the pieces together we have to find a way to reintegrate back into our life.  At least this seems to be the case for me.  So hopefully over the next 8 weeks I will recover what has felt missing and reintegrate my life.....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Re-set button

Happy New Year!
The pace of December rapidly sped up as the year came to an end and the month progressed with parties to tend, gifts to buy and houses to clean in preparation for family celebrations.  Our normal routines went out the window as we ate, drank and socialized our way through the season.  For many people the holidays are filled with stress, not enough time, not enough love, not enough money, too many things to do, too much sugar, etc. It seems like the month of December is full of indulgences or lack, stressors both. So we merrily or grumpily moved through the month.
At the same time our social lives were gearing up, the days were growing shorter and the desire to hibernate, sleep, slow down and become more internal descended upon us.  A bit of a schism wasn't it?  But slosh through the month we did and now the new year is here.  How to get back on track?
People are returning to work, kids are back in school.  Decorations are down or soon will be.  The china has been washed and stored until next time.   All the activity has left us out of sorts with a few extra pounds on.  We've lost sight of our self-care routines, if we even had any.  We are in a new month, a new year,  a new beginning and what we seem to need is a "reset" button to get us back to ourselves.  A friend told me her daughter's New Year's resolution was to be kinder to herself. I thought,  how great is that!  How many different ways can we treat ourselves with more kindness and in doing so can we really support us those around us. 

Reset through self-care

A patient of mine shared that he'd made a list of ways to take care of himself.  Each day he committed to doing at least 2 or more items on the list.  Minimum of two, but the more the better.  What he had noticed is when he successfully followed through on his self-care routines he found himself happier, less grumpy, less likely to overeat or eat the wrong things, he slept better, and his CHRONIC PAIN DIMINISHED.  I too have noticed when I take the time to implement self care each day I have a lot more to offer,  personally and professionally.  I liked the idea of a list, written down and placed in an obvious location, taped to the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, or next to the bed.  The list can contain simple, easy to do things as well as more extensive items.  The whole idea is to pick at least 2 things each day and do them.
The kinds of things on your list will vary but most likely they will include items of exercise, diet, pleasure, grooming, spiritual/religious pursuits, socialization, relaxation and quiet time.  Perhaps making categories,  mind, body, spirit and picking an item from each category might be a tactic.
I have included a starter list of items that might be found on your list:

Get 8 hours of sleep
Leave work on time
Eat dinner as a family
Meditate/breath at least 5 minutes a day
Take a long hot shower/bath
Eat more salad
Drink more water
Exercise 15 minutes
Read for pleasure
Turn off the computer/cell phone an hour before bed
Cook a nutritious meal with left overs for lunch
Spend quality time with the family
Quality time with self
Hang out with a beloved pet
Get a massage, facial, hair cut, pedicure
Turn off the cell phone/text messaging for an hour, 1/2 day, day
Spend time in nature
Take a mental health day
Learn a new language, craft, skill just for the fun of it
Listen to music

The list is endless.  The only requirement is that the list  contain those things that feed and nourish you, that nothing on the list is obligatory or in anyway causes you discomfort.
When we allow ourselves, minutes, hours, even days of self care we are changing the pattern of doing too much and having too few inner resources, to being full and having more than enough to offer ourselves and our world.  We reset ourselves, anytime we choose.

January 2011,  a good month to start your self care list and routines.  You might want to keep a journal of what you do each day, track your choices and how you feel about doing something good just for you.  See how it carries from one day to the next.  I'd love to hear how it goes and how it makes you feel.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reaching for Balance

I am often struck by how easily I get out of  balance.  Too much activity, not enough quiet time, too much quiet time not enough connection.  Too much work, not enough play.  East coast living supports an"all work no play" mentality, at least from my perspective.  I am a native northern Californian, from a small city that was primarily agricultural based, the mid-west of California as I like to describe my humble roots.  My family settled California in the late 1700's to the mid 1800's.  We were not gold miners, but land owners....and gamblers.  Nothing of the land grant existed by the time I was born, but  a sense of belonging to the land remains with me to this day, east coast transplant that I am.  Growing up it was an easier time...where have I heard that before?  Of course in part because, one, I was a kid.  What did I have to think about except play, school work, and summer.  And two, the times in the 1960's though politically turbulent were slower. Stores closed most evenings by 6:00, except on Thursdays, and of course on Sunday everything shut down.  We had less options, we had less choices.  More limitations meant that there was time to stop and re-balance, or so I make up.  All this is to say we've lost most external boundaries that helped create a pacing that is more reasonable to the human body. We can shop 24/7 thanks to the internet, we can work just as much, and some people do.  I have clients who even in retirement cannot give themselves permission to stay in one place, though they long to enjoy their home and friends.  Instead they are forever running to this event or that.  They come in expressing fatigue, pain and a lack of time to do their exercise program because of this ridiculous pace.  Each time I remind them they are making a choice but it seems to go into a void.  What is it about slowing down long enought to examine our choice to stay so revved up?  Why is it difficult if not seemingly impossible for us to get off the merry-go-round once a month, once a week, once a day?  What value system says it is better for us to keep doing, producing, and consuming and expecting this state of "balance" will create health and well being?  Why do we resist our humanity in such a way as to try to perform like machines?

I have some ideas, perhaps it is the culture we live in, the need to compete with the pace of all the electronic devices we use.   Maybe it is our puritanical work ethic, or  the high price of goods or our out of need to consume.  The bottom line is we are moving way too fast and the pace is effecting our well-being.  Trying to take on big lifestyle changes can, in and of  themselves, add stress, but sometimes just changing one thing, can help us shift into a more balanced place with little pain or effort.

Mindfulness can be a way to slow down without actually changing what you are doing.  Being mindful is being present with whatever it is that you are doing.  Mindfulness asks that you be present to yourself and the task at hand. If you are washing dishes then your focus is on the water on your hands, the suds, the texture of the sponge or dish cloth you are using, the colors of the dishes you are washing.  Your mind naturally starts to wander about a disagreement you had earlier in the day and bam you are no longer just washing dishes you are now sometime in the past working it out.  You notice this and come back to washing dishes without judgement, of course.  Do you find yourself in the car a lot commuting or being the family taxi?  If so take some moments while you drive and turn off the radio or other distractions and simply drive. Feel yourself seated in the car, the steering wheel held by your hands, notice the sites around you, be with what you are doing, driving.  If by chance you are stuck in traffic, a common occurrence around these parts, instead of getting upset or anxious try to look at the time as a moment or two or three to rest into yourself and be with.  Explore the idea of letting go of the day's issues and just be behind the wheel of your car.

Research has shown that mindfulness lowers blood pressure and heart rates while at the same time it increases the feel good hormones and diminishes the stress hormones.  It does a lot more than this but that is for another day.   When you simply choose to be with whatever activity you are doing you are "re-balancing" your life in that moment.  And each moment you re-balance is like water in the bucket towards shifting your health and well-being in a positive direction.

Of course making a larger commitment to regular meditation, or some form of a body-awareness exercise program, i.e. yoga, tai chi, walking, can really boost the results of re-balancing. But if that seems like too much, for now start with one mindful activity a day and see where that leads.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Making Choices

Living in the city we are bombarded by choices, which lane to get in to cut 4 minutes off the commute time, which organic tomato sauce is best, is cheapest, is tastiest, which brand of toothpaste, with or with out fluoride? On and on the list goes from the simplest choices to the most difficult.   Everyone knows how involved life has gotten.  Research continues to show us that stresses, good and not so good, add up and cause dis-harmony and dis-ease.  We are a nation out of balance, weighing too heavily on productivity and too lightly on being.  Back in the day of rotary phones, remember those big, black, heavy phones with the holes in a circle?  Probably not if you are under 40, but back in the day dialing someone on the phone required that you stood still and dial each number and allow the dial to return to the starting position.  If you made a mistake you had to hang up and start all over.  I had the opportunity to play with an old rotary phone the other day at Pam, my business partner's, house.  Slowly and with effort I dialed my home number.  I was stunned at the low level of frustration, and high level of humor that arose in me while doing this.  That said, in the time it took me to dial my home number I had a chance to breathe, laugh and relax.  We rarely get those chances built into our days anymore, we are on the go, connected to cell phones, computers, kindles, i-pads,  etc. and always processing more information.
But there are ways to navigate the insane pace of life in the city and to support shifting the scales towards more harmony and health.  This blog is about just that, ideas, information and inspirations to help make our personal world easier, healthier and more fun to BE in.
Right now while reading this, hopefully NOT while you are driving, STOP, feel your feet on the ground, and take an easy breath in through your nose and out through you mouth.  See if you can include a little sigh, a letting go just in this moment.  Now see if you can practice just that little thing a few times a day.  Maybe while you are fixing your hair, sitting on the toilet, standing in line at the market.  Try it I dare you!  Sometimes we have to make choices that support us slowing down even for a moment.