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Practice Having an Open Heart

This election cycle has been one of the longest, most divisive one I can recall.  At times, I have resorted to talking garden-hose-bg-nozzlesback to the TV when I didn’t like what I heard a candidate say. Not my most enlightened moment.  I try to learn from these lower points in my life to see how I can improve personally and  also make the space around me more peaceful and healing for others.

One of the techniques I’ve found most helpful when I’m feeling aggravated is to just focus on my heart and imagine love pouring out of it like a sprinkler hose.  There is no target, no agenda, just love watering the hearts of anyone within range. Hopefully, it affects someone.  I know it calms me down and puts me in a better, more accepting mood.

Now that you’ve stopped laughing at my suggestion, just try it.  Next time you’re stuck in traffic, hassled at work, or wherever your stressful triggers are, just picture love pouring out of your heart. Do it long enough to notice if your heart rate has decreased, your breathing has slowed, or even better, that your mind has moved on to other, more pleasant thoughts.

Who Are Your Heroes?

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” — Socratesflags and gazebo

In the bustle and fun of this Memorial holiday, I suggest that you take a moment of reflection on the qualities of those you consider to be heroes.  How can you make one small change to embody just one of those principles in your daily routine?  Little shifts can cause big ripples down the line, creating a better future for you.  My current principles to model are more courage, kindness, and love.  It’s especially hard to do while I’m stuck in traffic, but there’s no exceptions.  Turning up the radio and singing helps me shift my mood in the car.  What are your strategies?

The Importance of Doing Nothing

Every day around the same time, Kathy Hollinger, a successful and remarkably productive executive, closes her meditation silhouetteoffice door for half an hour. Co-workers assumed she was trying to get work done until a friend looked through the sliver of glass in her door one day and saw that she appeared to be doing nothing more than staring off into space. It seemed curious enough that the friend began to pass by periodically when her door was closed to see what she was doing. Like clockwork, she closed her door once a day and appeared to engage in… nothing at all.

Eventually the friend asked Hollinger about the practice. She laughed and said one of the secrets to her incredible productivity was the time she took every day to just… be.

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Rejuvenate with Massage

Are you having trouble getting back into the swing of things with the new year?  Still have that holiday hangover and are dragging yourself around?  Or did the winter blahs kick in with the cold weather?HPIM1027

Massage can be surprisingly rejuvenating.  It’s kind of like when you’ve had one good night’s sleep after a long bout of insomnia.  Your body is reminded about that luxurious feeling of letting go.  Then, once you’ve relaxed, you have extra energy.  It comes from no longer having to clench tight muscles, grit your teeth, and hold your head upright.  

Sometimes you just need to take a little time for yourself before you can continue on.  The beginning of a new year is a wonderful time to pause and reflect, with a good massage supporting your ability to step back.  Then, when you move forward, it’s with fresh energy and more focus. 

Peace on Earth

This season is a time of wishing for peace on earth.  Often, it seems like an overwhelming goal for anyone to even begin!  When I’m feelingPenguins helpless about how I can affect change in the world in anyway, I remember a question asked of Mother Teresa.  The inquiry was how she managed to help all those children over many years.  In paraphrasing, her answer was that she simply focused on helping one child at a time.  Over the years, the number of people she helped grew very large, but each moment she worked just to help the one child in front of her.

I love that answer because we all tend to get ahead of ouselves.  It’s good to have big goals, but it’s also important to break it down into smaller, manageable tasks.  In order to bring peace on earth I believe if we all practice to do one thing each day to bring peace to ourselves or someone else, it will grow into a new way of thinking and acting that will seem automatic to generations that follow us.

“Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.”  – Mother Teresa

Be Healthy Now

“If we are creating ourselves all the time, then it is never too late to begin creating the bodies we want instead of the ones we mistakenly assume we are stuck with.”  – Deepak Chopramassage_tip

Start creating the body you want by showing it a little love and gentleness.  Massage is an excellent way to get in touch with how your body is feeling, soothe your nerves, and tone many body systems beyond just muscles.  Your digestive and immune system benefit greatly from massage.  I bet both you and your loved ones could use the gift of massage. 


Stand Up to Decrease Back Pain

Have you heard about the new trend in standing desks?  There’s a strong reason for it – continuous sitting for long periods of time weakens back guy at deskmuscles which can lead to pain.  Back pain is a very common cause of visits to the doctor. It’s the fifth most common reason for hospitalisation and the third most common cause of surgery. Sitting also puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing.  Considering how many hours we need to be at our desks, one thing we can change is how many hours we’re sitting down.

Maintaining correct posture is probably the last thing you’re thinking about when working on a deadline, but there are simple things you can do.  Changing the angle at which you sit can reduce compression of the discs in the spine, so lean back slightly every now and then, perhaps setting a chime on your phone for every half hour. Get up and walk around for a couple of minutes every hour.  You can even pair it with a trip to get water so you stay hydrated.

You don’t have to go so far as installing a stand-up desk, but incorporating standing, walking, and any other non-sitting poses into your day will help alot. Wiggling probably wasn’t fostered in your elementary school, but it’s certainly good for your back!

Lose Weight, Be Happy, Meditate!

According to Jane Pernotto Ehrman, M. Ed., behavioral health specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Lifestyle Medicine, meditation not only helps with stress relief, it also boosts your immune system, and decreases anger.  It ultimately works on reducing cortisone, the stress hormone, which can lead to health problems including weight gain if levels are too high in your body.meditative girl

I’m just like you and have a real difficulty finding the motivation to meditate.  The easy part is that you really don’t have to worry about doing it wrong.  The hardest part is just making time in a quiet place and staying there.  Use your breathing, chant a mantra, stare at a flame, visualize a favorite place or some other tool to focus your attention.  Your mind will wander.  Forgive yourself, even the great yogis have wandering minds.  The important thing is to remind yourself to focus whenever you notice your mind is wandering.  No punishment, no guilt, just back to your focus.  Breathe in and out, fully, deeply, peacefully.  It’s really worth it.

How to Bring Peace to the End of Your Day

To preserve the peace, finish your day with a long, hot bath, says Dr. Kathleen Hall, international stress expert, and founder and CEO of The Stress Institute. legs up the wallSoothing music and dim lights help set a restful mood along with little luxuries like a loofa sponge, scented soap, or a soft bath robe.

A detoxifying bath protects your positive outlook, says Jennifer Davidson Dowd, certified aromatherapist and yoga teacher. Add 8 drops of grapefruit, 5 drops of juniper, and 5 drops of fennel essential oils to Epsom salts before adding it to your bathwater, she suggests. Kick back and enjoy a soak for at least 20 minutes.

After your bath, try the Viparita karani pose, also known as Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, for ten minutes. When you’re done, drink a glass of water or pour a cup of chamomile tea, and curl up with your favorite book, movie. or music. Place 3 drops of lavender on your pillow before bed and enjoy sweet dreams!

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Get Goofy, Live Longer

If you want to curb stress, increase happiness, and improve your cardiovascular health, try smiling and laughing more.  It’s proven to help not only your emotional health, but increases your overall success in life as well as your longevity.silly einstein

The Mayo Clinic suggests that smiling instantly improves your mood and laughing 20 minutes can increase the health of your heart. If you can’t find something to laugh at, try this trick I learned from having a father who taught elementary kids.  Being silly makes you laugh and relaxes those around you.  When there’s nothing funny going on, sit in front of a mirror and make funny faces at yourself until you laugh.  I even wore a clown nose for awhile and thinking about it still makes me chuckle. I have a friend who wore a snorkle while changing her son’s diaper to keep the mood light.

Get goofy, it works. I have stopped my children’s temper tantrums and survived the swings of teenagers by being silly.  Even if I don’t make my kids laugh every time, I crack myself up on a regular basis.  I know my own goofiness helps me behave with more patience and kindness towards others, but I was pleased to find out it just might be helping me live longer too.