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simplify and savor

basket of well-beingWednesday early morning, as the Autumn Equinox officially marks the beginning of this new season, we, here in Minnesota, have already been grieving, in fits and starts, the end of Summer. We’ve had such extreme temperature shifts this year—from 90s one day to 50s overnight to cloudy and in the low 70s the next…

It’s certainly given us practice letting go of our grasp on Summer!

The Autumn Equinox occurs at 3:22 am CT on Wednesday, September 23rd.

This year, I feel this seasonal rhythm calling me to simplify and savor.

We’ve been visiting my parents in Port Townsend, Washington twice a year as we plan our move out there in 2019. Realizing that we will be moving, feeling the reality of this decision finally sinking in is part of this pull.

The next four years are about getting really clear about what to let go of, how to simplify the load. I find myself looking around me every day with new eyes.

What do I love, what do I want, what is truly important to me
—and what can I let go of?
What is extra, not essential to how I want to live, to how I need to live?

I intuitively started a fun process! I put a box on the dining room table. As I see things I feel like I can let go of, I put them next to the box. This is a signal to Dave to take a look at the object and see if he has a desire to keep it. If not, in the box it goes! (The boxes will eventually go to Good Will.)

I’ve always loved the “comfortably cluttered” look as long as the objects are all ones I felt connected to. (Dave called the cottage I lived in when he met me my “Hobbit Hole” if that gives you a sense.) I’ve never been into the spare and open look—and we’re nowhere near that—but this feels good! I feel lighter, cleaner, fresher. Simpler.

Spring is often thought of as the season to clean and simplify, but Fall is also a perfect time. I feel as if I am looking back at my life, at the things that I have filled my life with, and assessing my harvest, determining what I need to live the life I want to live, and letting go of things that don’t contribute to that vision.

The other beautiful part of this is that in looking around with new eyes, I am also giving myself a chance to savor what I truly love.

Even if I can’t always remember who gave me something, I can revel in its beauty, in the soft, glowing light that globe tea-light holder gives off, especially on these darkening evenings. I am getting a chance to enjoy my belongings, too—to take in their particular shape and service with deep appreciation as I go through this process of choosing what of my harvest to keep and what to let go of.

Savoring is a way of living your life so that you take in its full nourishment, in all its different forms. You can do it anytime, anywhere when you mindfully engage with any one or a combination of senses.

Give it a try with food to start:

  • Choose a small piece of fresh fruit that you love.
  • Sit down and first look at it very carefully, noticing all its particularities of color, shape, texture…
  • Imagine breathing into your eyes the colors, shape, and texture of the fruit.
  • Next, bring it to your nose and smell it—see how many adjectives you can find to identify the aroma.
  • Then touch it slowly and sense its texture and temperature. You might want to close your eyes for a deeper experience.
  • When you’re ready, place it against your lips and notice those sensations.
  • Now take a small bite but don’t chew. Roll the bite around in your mouth and notice how it feels and tastes before chewing.
  • When you’re totally ready, slowly begin to chew and savor that burst of flavor, this amazing, sweet nourishment from the earth.
  • Try chewing each bite 25 times. This invites your bodysoul to actually receive the many different layers of nourishment instead of just filling your stomach up.

Now let’s try the same process in a simpler form looking at the outdoors or around a room.

  • Find something your eyes want to look at, and let yourself fully take it in.
  • How much can you discern?
  • How many different colors are actually there?
  • What about textures or patterns?
  • How is the light landing on this object?
  • Is there any movement?
  • Drink all of this in with your eyes, letting it fill your heart and body, your whole bodysoul.
  • Sense any feelings that arise in response to this mindful slowing down of your attention.
  • Any when you’re ready, let your focus go, allowing the effects of this contact to linger with you.

This Fall, I will continue this practice of savoring and simplifying, as I look back at the fruits of Summer and what I want to take with me to nourish and support me in Winter.

Which things will I place, with gratitude for their service in the box?
And which will I place in the basket of belonging to keep,

at least for this next season?
How about you?

If you would like support getting clear about how to savor and simplify your life, I’d be happy to offer you a free Nourishing Wholeness Discovery Session.

You can also practice aligning with the rhythm of seasonal wisdom by attending my November 15th Way of the Happy Woman® Autumn Self-Care Mini Retreat.

And for practice savoring and simplifying with food, join me at Beat the Sugar Blues on Saturday, October 17th from 1:00-3:00 pm at the new East 7th Mississippi Market Coop.

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hidden wholenessDid you know it takes more than studying, memory games, and mental gymnastics to have a happy, healthy brain—and a healthy life?

We need nourishment in our lives and mental practice is only one form.

Do you think more clearly after a good night’s sleep?

Are you less reactive after your meditation, Qigong, or yoga practice?

Do you have more insights and awareness during or after a relaxing vacation?

Or perhaps you notice more clarity and concentration if you avoid that sugary dessert or snack?

Have you ever noticed that your memory is better for the times you were present in the experience you are remembering?

Everything we put into our bodies, consciously or unconsciously, affects the functioning of our brain. This includes your thoughts, the information you take in, the food you eat, the air you breathe, the well-being your bodysoul feels…they all affect the blood flow needed to keep your brain happy and healthy.

Here are five simple tips taken from Dr. Amen’s Brain research:

  1. Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle—8 hours or more of sleep per night, no or limited caffeine and alcohol, regular exercise and regular relaxation, reduce stress, avoid toxins, drugs & smoking…
  2. Eat a Healthy Diet—No refined flours and sugars, limited additional sugar, lots of veggies, enough water, protein, healthy fats, and regular meals. Your brain uses 25% of all the nourishment you take in—give it the nutrients it needs to function well! In addition, all diseases lower blood flow to the brain.
  3. Manage Your Weight—As weight goes up, brain function goes down. Obesity is linked to Alzheimer’s.
  4. Engage in Personal Growth Work—Whatever works for you to untangle the stories and beliefs that keep you limited. You can start with a simple practice of accepting all of your feelings with compassion. Depression is linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s, and lack of emotional well-being affects our brain’s ability to think clearly.
  5. Engage in Spiritual Practice—Prayer, meditation, yoga, qigong, gratitude lists…anything that brings you a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, and connection. Research shows that we can’t sustain our mental health without this.

In my understanding, all of this is important because we need to nourish our whole bodysoul, not just one part. Your body, heart, and mind are all completely interwined with your soul. Your soul is in them and they are in your soul. Read more.

Nourishing your body, heart, and mind nourishes your soul and nourishing your soul nourishes your body, heart, and mind. So, these tips are not just for your brain—they are for your overall well-being, for the nourishment of your life.

The good news is that Dr. Amen emphasizes that we can change the trajectory our brain is on at any time. Work with the tips above that need support in your life, surround yourself with others who are living the lifestyle you want to live, and support each other. You can find more free tips and practices on my site.

Nourish your brain, Nourish your life!

If you find yourself needing support to work with any of these 5 ways of nourishing your brain, I’d be happy to offer you a free Discovery Session.

You might also be interested in finding out ways to work with your sugar cravings by attending my Sugar Blues workshop on October 17th.

 

**Collage is an exploration of Enneagram type Five. Read more.

authentic movementTake a moment right now and sense your body.

When you sense your body, what arises?

Perhaps it’s “I feel fat.”
Or “Ugh—feeling gross.”
Or “I don’t sense anything.”
Or “Ouch, that hurts.”

What’s your version?

Most often, the women I work with sense their body and judge her. (Yes, if you’re a woman, your body is a “she”! Please make the appropriate substitutions if you’re a man.)

She is never quite right—too fat, too thin, not fit, not comfortable, not satisfied, too hungry, craving unhealthy food…she is just plain wrong.

How do you think your body feels with all this judgment?

Here’s a hint: When you feel judged, how do you feel? Hurt. Sad. Angry. Confused. (And probably more…)

Your body is you. She is intimately intertwined with your soul, part of what I call your bodysoul. When you judge her, you are judging you.

Would you judge your girlfriends this way? Probably not.

Imagine living with an intimate partner—your body is about as intimate as it gets!—and all you ever hear is about how messed up you are, over and over again.

Would you feel good, happy, resilient, vital? Your body doesn’t either.

In fact, in these conditions of persecution, she is kind of like a refugee. She can’t really leave very easily, but she can check out. Perhaps you don’t sense or feel very much because she’s in hiding. Or perhaps she’s trying to escape, on hyper-alert, running on stress, but unable to go anywhere, causing you to feel anxious, upset, frazzled…

If she’s checked out or on high alert, she won’t be comfortable, and she won’t be able to focus, find well-being, make nourishing choices, or make changes easily.

Just like your friend, she doesn’t want to be shamed or coerced into change. She wants to be accepted as she is. Loved as she is. Understood as she is. Then, perhaps, she could easily make nourishing choices, or consider making some changes for her well being.

What would it take to welcome her home?

Imagine your body as a place of grounding, grace, and gratitude. Imagine feeling her support, her love, her exquisite attunement to your needs. YES! This is possible.

What if you could find refuge in your body instead of forcing her to be a refugee? Sense that in your bodysoul.

If you would like support welcoming your body home, I’d love to offer you a free Nourishing Wholeness Discovery Session, and to practice with you during my Way of the Happy Woman® Autumn Self-Care Mini-Retreat.

cukes for bfast--tp
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

What and how we eat affects everything!

  • Not only our tastebuds and digestion,
  • but also the wellbeing of our cells,
  • which create our organs and tissues,
  • which keep our body alive….

And without an alive body, our spirit would have no vessel to animate!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know I refer to the body as the bodysoul. We can’t separate our physicality from our spirituality. The soul lives in the body and the body lives in the soul. Read more.

So, what and how you eat breakfast affects your entire bodysoul!

Do you pump your bodysoul full of caffeine and sugar in the morning, wreaking havoc on your adrenals and blood sugar levels?

  • If so, your bodysoul may have a hard time feeling balanced—being jerked around from caffeine creating stress and sugar causing nutrient depletion and energy drop.
  • It’s hard to stay present, meditate, have good relationships, or be the best person you know you can be when your bodysoul is affected in this way.
  • I could go on and on…but I won’t! 🙂

So, how could you choose to eat breakfast as a spiritual practice?

  • Start by checking in with your bodysoul to see what you really want/need to eat.
  • If you’re having caffeine, drink at least 1-2 cups of water first. And then drink your caffeine while eating protein.
  • Lessen or drop the added sugar altogether—unsweetened fruit is a great way to enjoy healthy sweet, and consumed with healthy protein and fats, you’ll find you have a sustaining meal.
  • Skip juice—it’s so concentrated that it’s pretty much as harmful as eating sugar! (Think of it as dessert for breakfast.)
  • Consider adding veggies to your breakfast! This was a revolutionary idea to me years ago, but now I often include veggies in some way. See recipes for Wakame Eggs, Green Breakfast Bowl, and here’s one of my current faves:

Summer Breakfast Bowl
Berries and cucumber make this simple breakfast fresh, juicy, and nourishing—perfect for starting your day with your bodysoul in mind!

  • Once you have your food chosen, take a moment to savor it before you begin to eat. This is a way to mindfully take in your food with all of your senses BEFORE and while you are eating it.

Enjoy starting your day with a super-charged bodysoul spiritual practice and see how it affects the rest of your day!

If you’d like more ideas about how to add more veggies into your life, join me at Glorious Greens, a demo/presentation on Sunday, August 23rd from 1-3 pm.

If you’d like more ideas about how to make eating part of your spiritual practice, check out my Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching for women by signing up for a free Nourishing Wholeness Discovery Session.

How do you make breakfast part of your spiritual practice?
I’d love to hear about it!

buddha corner-med

Buddha corner of the back garden

In the last month of our SomaYoga Teacher Training we are studying the final Yama of Aparigraha, Non- Possessiveness. (The Yamas are the basis of Yoga’s code of ethics, the compass by which yogis and yoginis practice and live.)

This past week, we were practicing with breathing in life on the inbreath and letting life go of it on the outbreath. It has been a good week for me to practice this as I hurt my lower back/sacrum carrying too much weight a few weeks ago and this past week was especially difficult.

  • Breathing in, I breathe in pain. Breathing out, I breathe out release.
  • Breathing in, I breathe in aching. Breathing out, I breathe out letting go.
  • In, ouch. Out, release.
  • In, tightness. Out, letting go.

Did this make the pain go away? NO! But I find when I can get curious about each moment, my experience is actually changing, dynamic. I’m not in continual pain if my mind can let go of thinking about the pain (or fear or…)!

That’s what I’m inviting on the “breathing out,” the mind letting go. It’s not always easy. I find I have had a story going—my back hurts and it’s not getting better and I’m afraid… When I’m not mindfully meeting the moment, that story wins. When I am, however, I find that not all moments are full of pain.

  • Some are full of gratitude for the sun and breeze on the river birch leaves outside the window.
  • Some are full of amazement at the red cardinal visiting the garden.
  • Some are full of luxurious, sensual melting of my body in the hot sun.
  • Some are full of sweet moments of contact with my husband.

And with each moment, I practice taking it in fully and then releasing it and letting it go. I’m learning that even these so-called “good” feelings need to be released to make way for the next moment.

In this way, Deborah Adele explains, in her lovely book The Yamas and Niyamas, we make way for the next experience. There is an openness and a freedom in this. When we’re not caught in assumptions, beliefs, and stories—the next moment could be anything!

When I cling to my story of being in constant pain and not healing, I am not able to really savor the river birch leaves outside my window, which the standing desk I cobbled together to give my back relief, faces. Releasing the pain on the outbreath for just a moment gives me the chance to breathe in something else—something beautiful that fills me with gratitude! (And I’m willing to bet gratitude has a healing effect on the body that fear does not…)

I can see how this practice could really support me when I’m in other hard places—breathe it in and then breathe out the story, the stuckness, the tension. Breathe in a new moment and experience that!

What are you breathing in? Are you releasing it to make room for something else? Something that you can’t imagine, that might be rich and full and amazing?

I experience this releasing also as the Yin phase of the breath. Exhaling and letting go into the ground, softening, releasing, calming…ready to allow the Yang, active phase of doing to begin, to bring in something new…We need both.

Come breathe in and out with me at my August 2nd The Way of the Happy Woman®: Summer Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat!

And I’d be happy to accompany you on this path with a Free Discovery Session to explore my Women’s Holistic Health and Wellness Coaching.

I have posted two breath practices to support you on my site (toward the bottom of the page).

dancing with summer

sunflower2Summer!

Sun!

Everything greening and growing and blooming and blossoming!

Nature is exclaiming her fullness, her lushness, her LIFE!!!

(Exclamation points seem to be called for here. My fingers can’t help but type them.)

Sunflower turns its face toward the sun, smiling, drinking in its warmth, its radiance…and shines its beauty, its smile, its full-on radiance into the world.

The Buddha, grounded sitting peacefully, surrounded by lacy green ferns, cool and calm in the midst of heat, of flame, of fiery summertime.

And so is my life. Always a balancing of fire and earth, of flurry and ground, of blossoming and releasing, or accomplishing and resting…

I am here. Supported, surrounded, summoned…to be here. In this summer.
I am here. Supported, surrounded, summoned…to be here. In this body.
I am here. Supported, surrounded, summoned…to be here. In this life.

Where are you? What is your dance of summer summoning forth?

If you’d like to practice this celebration of summer, I’d love to have you join me on August 2nd for The Way of the Happy Woman®: Summer Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat!

And if you find you could use a little help balancing these energies, please sign up for a free Discovery Session to see how my Women’s Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching might support you.

inspired retouched-crpdSupportive, firm, slightly bumpy

Smooth, almost silky…

Aaah—cool, soft, moist, and soothing

Tickly, scratchy, stroking…

My bare feet delight in the textures they are taking in.

Each step a celebration of impressions.

It’s almost like my feet have little antennae attuned to each touch of the sole of my foot on the ground.

Delight, curiosity, wonder!

What will the next step bring?
Concrete—bumpy, gravelly, smooth?
Grass, clover, weeds?
Marble? (on a sidewalk, leftover from the construction of the State Capitol)
Wet or dry earth?

Each bringing its own impressions, my feet play with each one…

All around me, Summer also delights my eyes with a riot of color and texture.

  • Yellow and orange ruffled marigolds
  • Brilliant spotted and streaked, stately oriental lilies
  • Friendly-faced, simple daisies
  • Soft, pink and purple flowers of all kinds
  • Sunny, yellow primrose and simple stella d’oro lilies
  • Spikey yet gentle beebalm

Everywhere, flowers bloom forth, as if delighting in their own beauty.

And birdsong surrounds me—robins, cardinals, sparrows, finches, and more…

Mother Nature is my playground this morning—
my senses are awakened and aroused as I run and walk through her glory.

Even my body responds, reveling in the invitation to feel the lightness, the delight, the celebration in this summer full moon morning.

  • I jog.
  • I run, limbs flying with wild abandon as my inner child takes over.
  • I prance and leap.
  • I skip.
  • And I slow back down to a walk.

I allow my body to delight and play with life all around me—through my feet, through my eyes, through my ears, through my core.

I read once that play was something we do for recreation only—not for practical purposes. This morning, I set out for practical purposes—to exercise my body and soul—and I discovered play!

So often I forget thisthat playfulness can be part of my everyday life—slipping in to lighten up my serious, hard-working, responsible approach. That I feel happier, lighter, and even get more done when I allow my senses/my bodysoul to play.

If you’d like to explore how to lighten your day with a playful attitude, reveling in summer’s energy of celebration and lush fulfillment, consider joining me on August 2nd for The Way of the Happy Woman®: Summer Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat.

Or if you’re craving a deeper exploration of play-time, retreat-time, real contact with other women, beauty, and nourishment, consider joining Sara Avant Stover and a beautiful group of women in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for this year’s SHE Retreat from October 31st to November 7th! I’m happy to say I’ll be there assisting, too! YAY! 🙂

How do you invite playfulness into your daily life?
What practices or reminders do you have in place to invite delight?

I’d be happy to support you with my Women’s Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching.

And enjoy this playful NYC invitation!