Eliminate Judgement, Illuminate Being

Judgement is all around us. Judgement if you distance, if you gather, if you have a certain occupation, if you are a certain color, weight, height, gender, shape, political party, etc. We spend many of our lives automatically judging and automatically being judged.

Our minds are like a library. We have shelves and sections for everyone and every experience. I like to think of individuals of having our own story. We each have a book of chapters, experiences, and stories. When we come face to face with another, we often automatically put other’s “book” on a certain shelf based on what we see on the outside. This is judgement. Whether “good” or “bad.”

When we categorize everyone’s “book” simply by the title, cover, color, shape, size, and wear and tear, judgement occurs. Mindfulness can help us with this. When we mindfully experience the “books” that come in and out of our lives, we can better view the story they have to share. When we look inside and read their chapters, we offer a non-judgemental approach. We simply experience them. We can just be.

What many do not realize, however, is that we all categorize our own “book” or our own selves with this same judgement. We see ourselves and label ourselves in certain ways. We judge how we look, how we feel, how we act, how we dress. When we do this, we bring out judgement which leads to fear, anger, depression, isolation and an increased difficulty at eliminating judgement in our outer world as well. We so often fail to open our own story and really observe and get to know ourselves and our own journey for the beautiful journey it actually is.

Mindfulness is a great way to look at ourselves with a non-judgemental attitude and truly experience our being for what it is. Imagine taking a moment to sit down and just observe your “book.” Just feel the pages, smell the history, read the words. When we learn to experience ourselves without categorizing, labeling, and judging, we are better able to lovingly be with ourselves just as we are.

When we start to practice mindfully eliminating self-judgement and illuminating our true being, we can enter our world with empowerment and strength. When we eliminate our own judgement we then start to eliminate judgement of our outer experiences and interactions. So the saying is true: never judge a book by it’s cover. The cover is not the journey, not the story, not the being. Never judge your own book by the cover you have created. Open your book and truly be with your own experience.

To practice:

Find a place of comfort. This practice is best done lying down but is also beneficial sitting in a comfortable place.

Begin by noticing your breath, without judgement. Where do you feel your breath? How deep are you breathing? Let your breath naturally deepen, experience the cleansing beauty of your breath.

Turn your focus to your toes. Really feel your toes. Every sensation. With each part of your body, just feel, don’t judge. If you have pain here, tension here, tingling here, etc. just notice. Our minds often begin judging if we feel these qualities. We worry, we get frustrated, we try to fix it or run away. Just notice what it feels like to lovingly notice. Send your breath to your toes and just breathe and be with your toes.

Do this with every part of your body moving up into the ankles.

The calves.

The knees.

The pelvis.

The sits bones.

The hips.

The belly.

The chest.

The fingertips.

The lower arm.

The elbows.

The upper arm/shoulders.

The neck.

The jaw.

The lips.

The nose.

The cheeks.

The eyes.

The forehead.

The top of the head.

The mind. Do not judge any thoughts. They are just thoughts. Notice them, acknowledge them, let them float away.

Practice every day. Remember to breathe. Remember your book is beautiful no matter what it looks like or feels like. It is your story. A wonderful one.

Hold That Thought

Oh look it is raining. Oh no its raining. Are my car windows up? I think I left the windows open. Is it going to storm? I love storms. I am so tired. I need to sleep. I can’t sleep. I have to work in the morning. If I can’t sleep I can’t work well. I have a project due. I didn’t send that email…….and it goes on…..and on……and on…….

A wandering mind.

We have all been here. We wake up for the day or try to sleep at night and thus begins the wandering of thoughts. One thought leads to another which leads to worry, distraction, fear, the past, the future. Our mind starts on a brief moment of present and becomes lost in the cloudiness of our thoughts. Our minds have become trained to go on wild journeys of thinking about what has been or what is to come.

Many have told me that they want to learn to meditate so they can turn off their brain’s hectic thinking. However, they also say they tried to meditate and could not because of their brain’s hectic thinking. It is a never ending battle of hope for peace of mind brought down by lack of peace of mind. The good news is, there is a way to calm our minds, without taking away what they have to offer us.

To reach a place of being able to “turn off” our thoughts we must first acknowledge and accept that our thoughts cannot actually be turned off. Meditation is not a way to eliminate thoughts but instead a practice in de-cluttering the messy thoughts and developing concentration. We must train ourselves to become more mindful of the present moments and more diligent on cleaning up thoughts that try to cover those moments up.

A concentrated mind is able to see the world more clearly. This allows us to not only to realign our own hearts and mind but also enter the world around us with a better view. With a concentrated mind, we can experience our world with wholeness, growth, and wisdom. With practice, we can take on any moment, task, or period of time with a peaceful heart and focused thoughts.

To formally practice, start by having a focus point. A good place to focus is the breath. The breath is always accessible and available to us no matter where we are or what we are doing. To focus on your breath, notice how the air feels in your nostrils, feel the air fill your belly, feel your body release with exhale, notice the feeling as the air exits your nostrils or mouth. Watch and feel every part of your breath.

Another point of focus might be an object, such as a candle, a flower, a painting, etc. Your focus might be on a prayer, poem, or song. You might have a shrine or religious symbol you can focus on. Some people like to focus on a sound such as birds singing outside or a piece of music. A vocal chant or sound such as “om” or “ah” on an exhale can also be a place to focus your mind.

Whatever the focus is, begin by settling into a comfortable space. Notice your space and come to a place of meditation with your point of focus ready and available to you.

Breathe deeply and intentionally filling the belly with cleansing air, exhaling what you can let go of.

Begin to focus on your focal point.

When a wandering thought arises. Notice it. Acknowledge that it is there. Often times our thoughts just need to be noticed for us to be able to let them pass by.

You can visualize or imagine that your wandering thoughts get into a bubble that you can pop. You can visualize your wandering thoughts drifting away on a river. Or you can imagine your wandering thoughts being crumpled up like a piece of paper. Once you intentionally let go of the thought, return your attention to your point of focus.

Start by trying to focus on your focus point for four breaths. Then 8 breaths. Then 16 breaths. Just noticing. With grace and confidence gently letting distracting thoughts be cleaned away.

Focus with intention and clarity using all of your senses to experience your focal point. May you just hold that thought and let it float away. Return to clarity that you may carry with you wherever you go. Namaste.

The Gratitude Attitude

It is often a struggle for us humans to find what we are thankful for. We of course start to reflect on this topic around the holidays or sometimes after a scare. However, in our every day lives, it is easy to examine all that we don’t have, all that we desire, and all that we wish for. We spend most of the many moments we receive each day looking forward to what we wish for and back upon what we regret. We rarely find moments to stop and examine what we have right now, in this very moment.

It is especially difficult in the current state of the world to find content or thanksgiving. Fear, hatred, guilt, and blame are wearing the country and the world down and entering the hearts of so many people, good and bad. With fear, stress, and anxiety more often than not, comes anger and loss of control. We must turn inward toward our own hearts for we always have control over those.

Filling your heart with gratitude has a powerful effect on anxiety, stress, fear, hatred, guilt, blame, and despair. Gratitude, even in the smallest form, fills us with love and appreciation powerful enough to realign our hearts, minds, and bodies into peace and contentment. We cannot change the world or all of those inside of it. However, we can change our own hearts to shine with a light of gratitude.

This morning I participated in a virtual restorative yoga class. My heart and mind are always at a baseline level of anxiety often centered around fear of injury or illness for myself or loved ones due to the OCD I experience. However, this morning it was slightly elevated. We were asked to think of an intention for our yoga practice today. My intention of comfort and good health quickly came to mind. As my intention was set, there came a butterfly. This butterfly landed on me as I did the various poses, settled on my mat and props, and flew around me with the most gentle peace. My heart filled with comfort and gratitude that this creature found me and spent an hour of calm with me.

Although a small creature that we often take for granted, I was so thankful at the connection it brought me this morning. From that moment of truly looking at what joy I had in the moment, I began to take note of all the other beauty around me. The sky was more blue, the trees were more green, the insects were now more of my friends, and the day was beginning with joy instead of fear.

When we stop and see what it is we have in the moment, the pain of the past and worries of the future dissipate into a clear picture of the now. When we fill our hearts with gratitude we start to see our world with a clearer view. We start to see the world around us as a place of hope and beauty. When our hearts are filled with gratitude we take control of what we can control. We gain the resource and strength to then share that light with those around us. Virus, fear, hate, and judgment spread so fast and aggressively among humans. But what we often miss is that gratitude, joy, and love can spread just as quickly.

May you fill your hearts with gratitude. It can be big or small, there is no requirement or limit for gratitude. May this gratitude offer you the strength to stand up for what you believe in, do what is right, and experience joy in your everyday. Together we can change the world. And it all starts within our own heart. Namaste.


Find a comfortable space.

Settle into relaxation.

Deepen your breath, breathing in cleansing air, exhaling, letting go.

Find stillness here.

Allow one thing, place, person, or creature to come into mind that you are truly grateful for in this moment. Really feel the appreciation of all they have done for you, provided to you, allowed you to do. Sit and be with this thankfulness.

Now allow yourself to fill with a light of gratitude for all they have given you. Let this light expand greater with each breath to fill you and burst from every pore of your body. Let this light now shine onto them. Let them receive all the joy they have given you. Now this object, place, person, creature, whatever it is for you, is filling with this same light.

Allow this light of love and gratitude swirl between you almost in a figure 8 or continuous circle between you and what you are thankful for, receiving and giving appreciation.

Allow yourself to become surrounded by as many things, places, or beings that you are truly grateful for in this moment. Allow yourself to fill with this light for everything and everyone you have gratitude for.

When you are ready, return to your physical body wiggling fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, and slowly opening your eyes.

Let this light of gratitude fill you and shine onto all those around you

*For an informal meditation practice on gratitude start a gratitude journal or board adding something you are truly grateful for each morning and each evening

Meditation 101

I thought I would make somewhat of a reference post just discussing the “basics” of meditation and discussing some common misconceptions.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a mind/body/spiritual practice. Meditation has been practiced for many many years by all ages, types, and groups of people. Meditation comes in many formats. The common practices I like to guide are concentration meditation, mindfulness, reflective meditation, heart-centered meditation, and creative meditation. Within each type are different ways to meditate. For instance, concentration meditation involves focusing one’s thoughts where as creative meditation involves using our thoughts in a therapeutic way. Meditation can also be practiced informally, meaning in your everyday life. An example of this would be mindfully cooking or eating or reflection on a work project. Formal meditation involves a set time and place of meditating such as a daily morning meditation.

Do I have to practice a certain religion to meditate?

No. Meditation is practiced by many groups of people of many different religions, cultures, and backgrounds. You do not have to belong to a specific group or belief system to practice meditation. Some meditations may have strong roots or use in some religious practices, but they are not themselves a religious practice. On a similar note, however, incorporating faith in meditation practice has been shown to enhance the meditative practice itself. So, if you do have a strong faith, whatever that is for you, including your faith practice in your meditation practice allows a powerful connective practice.

Does meditation have an end goal?

No. I think it is a common misconception to think that meditation is a journey with a start and end. However, meditation is a practice. Even the most advanced practitioners of meditation have to practice daily and their practice is not ever perfect. It can almost be thought of like a fitness exercise for the mind and body. It takes practice to maintain a healthy mind and body and that is just what meditation can do. Not all practices will be perfect or even “successful.” When we set “goals” for our practice, it sets us up to be disappointed and can lead to self judgment. When we practice meditation with an open heart and mind we are better able to confront our practice and lives with non judgment and peace.

When I meditate, do I need to empty my mind of all thoughts?

No. I think many people beginning meditation practice believe meditation is being able to sit still with no thoughts. However, this is another “goal” that I am not sure is actually humanly possible. Meditation is not about emptying the mind, it is instead about balancing the mind as well as using the thoughts we do have in a different way.

Do I need to have a lot of time to meditate?

No. As I mentioned above, meditation can be practiced at many times, by many types, and just about anywhere. It is more about making sure to practice regularly, not about how often or how long. Practicing meditation for 5 minutes twice a day can have tremendous tangible benefits on health and wellness. Even just taking a few moments each day to notice and regulate your breath is a meditative practice. Everyday tasks such as walking, eating, hygiene, etc. can become mindfully meditative.

Are there risks or side effects to meditation?

Yes there can be, although the research is somewhat lacking. Some side effects may include anxious feelings, hallucinations, increased somnolence, and altered perceptions. Meditation is a mind practice. When we use our mind in a different way than normal it can cause side effects such as these. Think about when you exercise, you are using different parts of your body that you do not use every day and you may experience soreness or fatigue. Additionally, all our minds work in a different way. Meditation has many benefits but it may not be right for everyone. Meditation offers many types so a formal concentration meditation may work great for some but result in anxious feelings in others. An experienced and trusted meditation instructor can help guide each individual in which practice is best for them. In addition, meditation can bring up feelings, emotions, and states of mind we may have not even known were present. It is important that when practicing, you take note of these experiences and work with a meditation instructor or mental health practitioner for guidance. Those who have experienced trauma, depression, or experience delusions/hallucinations should also check with a mental health practitioner for guidance on if meditation is a healthy practice for them.

Wherever your meditation practices takes you, may it be a beautiful safe journey that is uniquely yours. Namaste.

Connection for Wholeness

You are not alone.  A message uttered by many in hopes of instilling hope and comfort into souls searching for connection and meaning.  I have said it and it has been said to me.  However, for the lonely, it is hard to find, especially in the loneliest of moments, what that message truly means.  I think for many we think of being lonely as being absent from others whether that be physically or emotionally.  However, I think often it comes from a place where our story feels like the only story ever told that cannot be connected to anyone or anything else and that no one else can understand.  It is a place where our wholeness is broken and we struggle to find the tools to piece it back together. 

When a person says “you are not alone,” it is important not to take this literally.   What that really means is that you are not alone in being lonely.  We have all walked the path of loneliness in some form or another.  We all have stories and experiences consisting of joys and sorrows.  Although no two stories are the exact same, all humans have experienced the effect of being human and living in an imperfect world.  Although you may feel physically, emotionally, spiritually alone, you are not alone in that experience.  It just has different details, chapters, and timing than others’ experience. 

To come out of loneliness is to find wholeness through connection.  Connection can take on many forms.  Often the “go-to” antidote for loneliness is physical connection.  Although physical connection is an important piece of individual wholeness, it is only a part of it.  And in times when it is not available, whether that be related to a social distancing order or just a stage in our lives, it is possible to find deep connection in other places and rediscover our whole selves.

Look to yourself

Rediscover your joy.  When feeling lonely it can be helpful to meditate on what brings you joy.  Recently I experienced a period of loneliness during the start of the global pandemic we currently find ourselves in.  A sufferer of heavily germ fear related OCD (more on that in future blog posts), I felt very alone and afraid.  Normal panic and fear of being out in the world having to touch and be near others and all they carry with them reached near unbearable levels.  All that normally brought me happiness and comfort suddenly didn’t matter.  Through therapeutic conversation and self-discovery, I realized I had become self disconnected from my purpose.  I had to look inward and rediscover I feel most alive when learning about, participating in, and sharing knowledge of meditation.  I meditated more alone, with others via virtual chat, and started this blog to share what I was passionate about.  When feeling lonely, take some time whether it be through a conversation with someone, with yourself, a formal meditation, in a journal, or on a nature walk to rediscover what brings you joy.  What are you doing when you feel happy and filled with purpose?  It might be as simple as cooking, jogging, gardening, teaching others, caring for a pet, organizing, and the list is endless.  Start here where you can always find your joy. 


When you rediscover your passions or maybe even discover a new one, embrace it.  One way you can do this is to find community with others who share what is important to you.  Right now, there are so many virtual classes, groups, books, articles, etc. available while physical connection is halted.  If you cannot find what you are looking for, start something yourself!  Perhaps it may be helpful to reconnect with people that you have not connected with in a while.  For instance, another joy I discovered was my love for dance.  I went to a dance fitness class taught by my former instructor.  While there, I not only reconnected with them but also a friend from the same group of friends from that period in my life.  I rediscovered the joy of community with this group of people along with the joy of dance which brought us together over ten years ago.  You can also find spiritual connection much in this way through whatever that looks like for you. 

Other beings

Connection does not have to be human to human.  Connection with other creatures and the nature around us is a powerful experience.  Animals and plants are therapeutic companions that can bring calm when nothing else can.  To tend to and love another creature different than our own creates a healing power within us.  In return, these beings provide us with constant unconditional love that us humans can’t often provide.  Take a walk with your dog, snuggle up with your cat, read a book to your bird, jog next to your hamster as he runs on his wheel, discuss the weather with your plant, plant a garden, plant a succulent in a teacup, open the window and listen to the birds every morning, place a birdbath in your back yard, plant a tree, or sing to a fern.  Whatever appeals to you, find connection with a creature you adore. 

The world

When we connect to the world around us, we gain a sense of purpose we didn’t know was there.  The earth, water, air, and sky have connected us with our world since the beginning of time.  Go out into nature, whether on a walk, a balcony, the yard, or even an open window.  Take a moment to be with nature.  Feel the earth beneath your feet in every part of your feet.  Feel its strength holding you up as it has for you and all before you.  If you are in a building off the earth connect with the structure you stand on as it is held up by the earth.  Breathe deep cleansing breaths feeling the air flowing as an effortless stream through your nostrils down your whole body cleansing every cell.  With every drink imagine the rain storm, river, the ocean, the stream your water came from and send an intention of clarity for all who take in the water of life.  Reach to the sky with gratitude for the nourishment, warmth, cool, breeze, and oxygen that we receive from above us.   Reach up physically with your hands in joy of your connection to the world through what you love, the community, the other creatures among us, and the earth we live in. 

In times of loneliness and in times of physical separation, may you find the tools for rediscovering what makes you happy.  May you know that you are surrounded in faith, in love, in community, in nature, and in being.  Although your story is individual, your chapters in life unique, and your experiences your own, you are not alone in your journey to wholeness. 

Loving Kindness

In times of high stress and anxiety, it is easy to put ourselves last and project our worries, fears, and frustrations onto others. We feel a loss of control. With the current state of the world, you might find yourself feeling this way more than ever. Although it may seem frustrating, we must come to acceptance that the only thing we can control is our own actions (which might feel like an even stronger loss of control). However, diving deep into a cycle of anger, frustration, and blame does nothing but darken our own hearts further.

Loving kindness is a Buddhist practice known to some as the Metta prayer(you do not have to be Buddhist to practice this) in which we practice self-love that we can then extend out to others. It is a practice based on self-care in which we must first learn to love ourselves and really feel that love. It is then that we can extend positive energy and love to those around us, including loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and even our enemies. This practice allows us to peel away our worldly problems and get down to the basics of what and who we all truly are.

What does it mean to truly love yourself? This doesn’t mean turn to selfishness and narcissism. What it means is to truly love you, love who you are, and love what you have to offer. To practice self-love is to take time for you, whatever that looks like for you. For me, it is when I go to yoga or Zumba classes, meditate, take walks, spending time outside, read, or do crafts. It is in these moments that I can really spend time with and love myself. Self-love also involves positive affirmations and eliminating negative self-talk. It is saying and really believing you are a great person and a blessing to those around you, the community, and the world.

~A self love meditation:

Find a comfortable position in a comfortable place.

Take a moment to melt into calm, centering into your body and breath.

Find relaxation here.

When in this comfortable place, allow yourself to imagine or recall a time when you felt extremely loved. This might be a time when you felt loved by a particular person, animal, group/community, or even for yourself.

Imagine this feeling you felt when you felt so strongly loved to wrap itself around you like a warm embrace and hold you there.

Now extend that love to yourself from you.

Sit and be with this feeling of love.

Practice often.

It is when we love ourselves that we begin to find deeper meaning in the world around us. We can face our world with greater ease, strength, and confidence. In addition, we can practice loving kindness towards all beings. When we love ourselves with deep compassion, the blame, anger, and loss of control dissipate and we can look at the world with a rejuvenated view. For when it comes down to it, we are all beings of this world, drinking the same water, walking the same earth, breathing the same air. We must do so with compassion, love, and kindness that starts with a deep meaningful compassion within ourselves.

~Loving kindness meditation:

Find a comfortable position in a comfortable space.

Take a moment to melt into calm centering into your body and breath.

Find relaxation here.

Wrap yourself in the warm embrace of a moment when you felt the most loved you have ever felt.

You can place your hands together at your heart here. Repeat to yourself the following: May I be safe; May I be physically well; May I be mentally well; May I have ease of well-being.

Place your hands one on each knee with palms facing up. Allow the image of a loved one appear before you. This might be a family member or friend that feels like family. Silently in your mind, extend the following to them: May you be safe; May you be physically well; May you be mentally well; May you have ease of well-being.

Allow the image of a friend appear before you in your mind. Someone you enjoy spending time with. Silently in your mind, extend the following to them: May you be safe; May you be physically well; May you be mentally well; May you have ease of well-being.

Allow the image of a neutral person to appear before you in your mind. This may be someone you have met but do not really know. Or someone you may know but have never really met. Silently in your mind, extend the following to them: May you be safe; May you be physically well; May you be mentally well; May you have ease of well-being.

Allow the image of an enemy to appear before you in your mind. Silently in your mind, extend the following to them: May you be safe; May you be physically well; May you be mentally well; May you have ease of well-being.

Now extend to all beings the following: May you be safe; May you be physically well; May you be mentally well; May you have ease of well-being.

May this practice fill you with self-compassion that you can carry with you in all parts of your life and extend to all beings. Namaste.

Mindfulness for the whole family

Being present in the moment is maybe the most well known definition for mindfulness. While this definition true, to be mindful, is easier said than done! To be fully present in the moment for many, even the most experienced practitioners of meditation, is very difficult. So, without getting too in-depth, I want to provide some tips and some fun mindfulness activities that anyone of any age can do to experience all the moments we get a little bit deeper!

My number one tip for mindfulness is to stop judging! I think when we put pressure on ourselves to do anything, especially to “be in the moment,” our minds immediately set goals and strive for perfection. We tend to think in terms of the future: “I hope I can be in the moment just right.” Or we think in terms of the past: “I was too distracted, my mind was racing, I let my emotions get carried away.” Our goal setting and judgment of the past and the future completely rob us of our enjoyment of the present.

So how do you overcome this? The first tip is acceptance. We have to come to a point where we accept that we will most likely not be perfect and that being mindful is not about a job well done. Being mindful is about being present, in the present, with our whole self, with whatever we are doing. We may experience mind chatter, pain, irritation, frustration, and so much more. However, we have to practice saying and accepting “this is what I am experiencing right now” without trying to change it or obsess over it.

Once we accept and respect that we may have obstacles in being mindful, the next step is to practice! Mindfulness, as with any meditation, is to be practiced each day and can be practiced informally throughout the entire day. Ever find yourself at work daydreaming? Practice mindfulness instead. Ever find yourself waiting in line at the grocery store staring at your phone? Practice mindfulness instead. Ever find yourself obsessively web searching? Practice mindfulness instead.

But how?! Whenever you feel the need to refocus yourself into a mindful state, a great way to start is to focus on your breath. In any of the above stated moments, turn your focus to your breath. Follow and non-judgmentally watch your breath as you inhale. It helps to imagine your breath as a mystical flying creature flying in through the top of your head delivering clarity and nourishment throughout your whole body down past your chest, deep into your belly, and all the way to each end of each toe. Watch as it gathers and removes whatever you need to let go of flowing back the opposite way it flowed in through you, from your toes, through your belly, through your chest, and out through the top of your head. Do this a few times and then breath naturally focusing on each inhale and exhale.

My personal favorite way to practice mindfulness both formally and informally is through our 5 senses. This can be done just about anywhere at just about anytime. Start with whatever sense you want to start with and just go through and notice anything and everything you experience. Really notice. Notice any light, people, nature, colors, shadows, shapes, objects, etc. Next, what do you feel? Start at your head and progressively move down your body. Do you feel warmth, pain, relaxation, an itch, cold, tense, etc. in each area? Do this with all five senses. The key is, when you come to something you don’t like (like tension, distraction, etc.) don’t try to judge it or change it, just take a moment to notice, accept it, and continue to breathe into it.

When we practice mindfulness, we not only gain acceptance and calm, we overtime, add to our ability to take on the world and whatever stress comes in our way. We notice, feel, and experience things deeper and with more meaning. We come down from the chaos of the past and future of which we can’t control and ground ourselves into the present we can meaningfully experience.

Here are some mindfulness activities the whole family can enjoy (these are great activities to do with your kids, partner, pets, friends, etc. in times when we have to stay home for long periods of time)

~Mindfulness walk:

Anytime you go for a walk you can do this out loud with your family, your pet, or silently to yourself. As you go on a walk simply go through your 5 senses as described above. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste? Just notice individually or as a family and enjoy all the senses you experience. Notice any differences and similarities in your sensual experience with others. For instance, when I walk with my dog I don’t usually have a lot of scent experience where as she spends most of the walk sniffing everything she finds.

~Mindfulness meal:

Pick a meal or snack time to practice this mindfulness activity. Again, you can do this individually or with family. Kids will especially enjoy this one! Notice every part of the food you’re eating. First smell it, far away then up close. What does it feel like in the spoon, on the fork, or in your hands? What does it look like? Notice the texture, color, shape, and size. What does it taste like first on the tip of your tongue, the sides of your tongue, after you chew it, when you swallow it? Notice every single moment of each bite you take. Remember to wash your hands before this activity!

~Mindfulness musical art:

This is my favorite. This is a great one to do with kids. All you will need is blank paper, crayons/colored pencils/markers, and a source of music. You can set up a short playlist, use CDs, or just turn on the radio. I recommend using different music genres to create a variety. Play a song for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. When the song comes on each person uses their coloring tool to simply start drawing what they see, feel, and hear as they listen to the music. When the song goes off, they put down the coloring utensil. These can be squiggles, pictures, anything, it is each individuals interpretation of what they experience. When all done with the activity, it is fun to go around and share everyone’s art and try to guess which song each piece of art matches with! This is a non-traditional way of utilizing the senses to practice mindfulness. You can display the art you create for a reminder of this moment with loved ones or with yourself. Enjoy!

Here are some examples of art created when my family did this activity!

Balance is what we truly need

I just want to fix it.  I think that is a thought we often have as humans.  Whether it is a physical ailment, a mental disorder, or an everyday life stressor.  For those in Western culture this is especially true.  When something goes wrong, lets hurry up and fix it!

Let me explain in a somewhat scientific way.  Don’t worry, I won’t get too scientific.  Everyone has heard of the sympathetic nervous system, most commonly referred to as fight-or-flight.  This is the system in our bodies that triggers us when there is danger and reacts quickly to defend ourselves.  Adrenaline, our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing all go on the rise, ready to fight!  Well, as humans, we have adapted in a way in which we use this system a bit too much.  What is eye-opening is that this system kicks on in the same exact way when a bear attacks our campsite as when we hear a political viewpoint we don’t agree with (for example).  Everyday triggers and stressors, that happen quite often during each day, kick this system on when it’s purpose is actually to protect us from danger, not get us riled up at every little thing in our life.  Balance is what we truly need.

The fight-or-flight reactions have gotten out of control.  When this reaction is occurring, what many people most likely experience as stress, we just want to make it go away.  Fix it!  However, when we try to quick fix all our stress through quick reacting and often unhealthy coping, we rarely feel better, at least not for long term.  And what we really do not want to do is “fix” or get rid of our fight-or-flight system because we do actually need it in the case of significant danger.  We just need to use it less for everyday things that do not actually require it.  We need to find the balance we truly need.

This is where meditation comes in (more to come on understanding meditation).  Meditation is a practice that can be used every day.  It helps us to find and use acceptance, balance, connection, and peace.  When we practice counterbalancing measures, like meditation, as often as we experience our fight-or-flight “do something quick make it better” reactions, we will find that we can even out our body’s reactions to create a balance we truly need.  For it is then, that we can then go about our day with the proper tools to stay out of fight-or-flight mode constantly and ground us into facing our days in a positive and healthy way.

During this time of great anxiety, fear, unknown, and loss of what we once knew as “normal”, it is important we don’t get wrapped up in quick reacting.  We need to take time to accept and find the balance we truly need.  Meditate, walk, move, practice yoga, feel gratitude, and connect.  Remember, that we all just want this stress in our lives to go away, but let’s practice accepting what we can’t change and balancing that with what we can control.


~Find a comfortable space (I recommend a place outside, in nature, with the earth) and a comfortable position (seated or lying, just remember allow your back to be straight)
~Close your eyes if that is comfortable for you or simply soften your eyes and look to a spot in front of you

~Scan your body starting at the toes moving up through each body part inviting each body part to relax as you go

~Once you have invited your whole body to relax, turn your focus to your breath

~Deep inhale filling your belly, exhale letting out a sigh, or saying a word, mantra, or short prayer as you exhale; do this for three breaths

~Breathe naturally; if wandering thoughts come up, refocus back to your breath watching each inhale and each exhale

~Just be; start with 5 or 10 minutes and increase to 10 or 20 as you become comfortable; do this 1 to 2 times per day

Remember to end your practice with gratitude for yourself and the time you took for you.
This meditation practiced daily will help you find the balance we all truly need.  Namaste.