reminding you of who you be, 

so you may live your best possible life!

Then become aware of your mouth.  If you are eating, do it slowly, truly tasting each bite.  Does your mouth feel wet or dry?  Are your lips tightly pressed together or slightly open?  Can you feel your tongue moving against your teeth and gums?

And finally, the last question is not, "what do you see?" although that may be an interesting exercise itself.  Instead, what do your eyes feel like.  Are your lids open or closed?  Do they feel heavy or twitchy?  Are you aware of moisture level...they may be dry or filled with tears...simply notice.

The entire process may take 30 seconds or several minutes.  Either way, it will not take much time, and in turn, you may repeat the practice many times a day.  If that sounds like too much, just remember, even if you collectively spend an entire hour each day doing this meditation, you still have the other 23 hours of the day available!

Sensual Being

This is a simple and powerful practice designed to, dare I say it, get you in touch with your feelings!  And by that I mean the feelings your body experiences, is experiencing right now, as you are reading.

Begin by taking 5 deep breaths in a row, allowing yourself to open to your own sensory awareness.

Now, scan your body.  Become aware of your skin, the air that washes over it, the
fabric that rubs against it, and the temperature of it.  Notice if some areas of your body feel tightly held, while others feel free and flowing, or perhaps exposed.

Continue scanning, simply notice what's happening in your body.  What do your ears hear?  Do the sounds disturb you, lull you, intrigue you?  What do your ears feel like?  Can you isolate them?

Bring attention to your nose and any smells that may surround you.  All of this input is always happening, you are simply taking a moment to bring consciousness to your sensory experience.

A key ingredient to this mindfulness practice is honesty.  Let yourself know the truth of what's inside you at the moment.  And then allow a wave of acceptance for that feeling to be present within you.  Remember that, in your humanity, you have the capacity for ALL of the emotions, and when we allow those feelings, free of judgment, we create a nest of safety within ourselves to carry us through day to day.

Feel and Trust

A simple exercise for building self-trust. 

Several times a day - pause, take a breath, and notice what you're feeling.

On one level, this will be noticing the physical sensations your body is experiencing in the moment.  Perhaps your heart feels like it's racing, one foot is asleep, or your shoulders ache.  Maybe you notice a warmth in your chest, a sense of relaxation in your face, or a lightness in your step.  Simply witness what is physically true.

Then, take your emotional temperature.  What emotion is up for you right now?  Do you feel: happy, sad, worried, excited, angry, silly, anxious, satisfied, optimistic, suspicious, sympathetic, jealous ...the list goes on and on.  Though, one thing I've learned from this practice is that we sometimes only remember five or six emotions.  If you need an assist, go on line and print out a visual aid.  The internet is full of labeled emoticon resources that may help you to more accurately identify - have a name for - what it is that you are feeling.

Become aware of what it feels like to be in this alert state - completely present to the moment, while maintaining your full, steady breaths.

Try this every day for a week during your most regular drives - just for a few minutes.  The very experience allows your neuro-pathways to know that you may disengage your personal auto-pilot response at any time.  You are free to choose, in every moment, the level of awareness from which you operate.

Allow your heart to find the luminosity of another heart in the world, and witness the light dance they create together.  Continue your heart breath, and find another heart to share a dance with.  You may even picture yourself on a busy street, dancing with the magnificence of all the hearts moving from place to place.

Know that, you may share your heart energy - first with yourself, and then with others.  It is YOUR energy.  The more you practice this visualization, the greater your capacity for feeling your own heart space and sharing it with others, because you are beaming from the inside out.

Third, enlist the help of your mind through counting - literally counting every breath - on the exhale.  To help to quiet the other thoughts that will inevitably wish to come in, while counting on the exhale, imagine the "thought balloon" literally floating away with the air you gently expel.

Does the number 101 feel too big?  Allow yourself to start smaller - perhaps count to 10 breaths.  If it's feeling good, keep going; if not, you have still tended to your being by pausing and doing this gentle reboot.

You feel a tap on your shoulder, and as you turn, there is a luminescent being standing there.  This being looks at you with such kindness and truth that you cannot avoid contact with it.  You feel drawn to this being of light. And this being asks for you to give to it everything that you value. It puts before you a bowl, and it says, "Please pour everything that you value into this bowl."

You say, "I have not brought anything with me."

But the being is asking you for pride...attachment...emotion ... passion...memories... guilt...shame. Things you hold within yourself about being victimized.

Please, pour it all in - Everything - all your successes, all your failures.  Right now.  Pour your work, your mate, your children, your ideas, your hopes and ambitions. And you see that the moment they touch the bowl, they disappear. Because the energy we are pouring into the bowl is dream stuff.  It is unreal.

This luminescent being then asks, "Is this all you have?"  Have you held back from it?  Pour more.

And now, pour yourself into the bowl.  There is nothing left.

In truth, the being tells us that we can keep nothing in this life.  Everything is neutralized in the ocean that is love.  The drop becomes the ocean.  We become one with everything.  Let yourself dissolve into the bowl and feel that sense of humility wash over you.  Humility is the space for silence.  And silence is the space for love.

Let yourself have this moment.  And wherever it is leading you right now it is good, be it in tears or in laughter.  This is not about a high, but about a space.  All that exists for you right now is this moment.  If you feel like moving, move.  Sway.  You have found the very core of your own presence.  You are free. Take this feeling.  And in everything you do and every moment that you have, today, tonight, and tomorrow, this celebration exists in you.  This celebration is who you are.  This celebration is Your Life.

Mindful Driving

A meditation inspired by an interview with Dr. Amit Sood, author of "The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living," published in US News and World Report, July 2013.

Are you one of the many who believe mindfulness and meditation take too much time?  Or maybe you just can't get yourself to sit on the cushion or breathe consciously for five minutes straight?  You're not alone, and if you scan through our Meditation Library, you'll see that the practices range from 30 seconds of awareness to an hour-long meditation.  This particular one is simple and calls our presence to a time of day when we often swerve into auto-pilot.

As you are driving, take a breath, and behave as though a police car just pulled out of nowhere, and now appears to be following YOU.  

Keep your breath steady and even, as you get off the phone, turn off the radio, look at your speedometer - to be sure you are within the legal limit, and confirm that your seat belt is properly secured.

Shifting Breaths

From a workshop with Iyanla Vanzant, I learned this simple meditative practice.

Allow at least ten minutes for this experience.  Begin sitting with your back straight and shoulders at rest.

Bring your attention to your breath.  Then, consciously shift how you are breathing.  Here's an example:

  • In the nose and out the mouth.
  • In the mouth and out the nose.
  • Breathe deep into the belly, filling it up big, and release through the mouth.
  • Breathe into the belly and the chest, release through the nose.
  • Breath fully into your lungs, and out the mouth.
  • In the nose and out the nose.
  • In the mouth and out the mouth.
  • In the nose, into the belly, and out the top of your head.

With each type of breath you choose, repeat one to three times, and select another.  The conscious shifting helps you maintain your keen awareness.  Notice what happens in your body as you continue with the breath, and if you find an area of tightness or discomfort you may include a breath into that exact space.  Feel it fully...and shift again.

Heart Space

At a recent workshop, a participant reminded me why so many meditations offer a heart focus.  We have more neuro-connections traveling from our heart to our brain (specifically in that direction), than any other pathway in our body.  In turn, the openness and clarity of the heart is vital to our own well-being.  We make decisions with our hearts a split second before our brain finds out (this brain delay is scientifically proven).

So, recognizing it's extraordinary value, this month we offer another heart-oriented meditation.

Take a few deep breaths into your heart.  Allow the breath to come into and exit through your heart.

As you can feel the breath connect with your heart, picture a luminous white jewel resting in your heart chakra, shining out in all directions.  With each breath, feel the space of your heart opening.  The light may appear to shine ever brighter, as you connect with your own heart.

As the brilliance of your heart extends beyond you, allow it to stretch and grow.  This heart offers the space for all you may experience.

Fire Breathing

There are so many different kinds of breath meditations, this one brings our attention to the breath of fire.

Tibetans believe that fire is one of the five elements within us.  Fire provides the passion, the energy - "fire in the belly."  And true to form, the belly is exactly where you focus for Fire Breathing.

This meditative breath provides a sense of empowerment.  You may practice this daily, and more specifically right before you have that challenging conversation with your ex-spouse or a few moments before walking into that big presentation.  When you seek to call upon the natural power within you, Fire Breathing is an excellent resource.

This month, rather than writing down the instructions, I'm going to invite Yoga Instructor, Anne Novak, to lead us in this meditation through this video link.

101 Breaths

When Dalmatians aren't available, try counting breaths.

One of the simplest forms of meditation is simply breathing and staying consciously aware of the breath as you do so.  The challenge, of course, is quieting the mind.  And so, we invite the mind to manage a couple of tasks for us as we breathe.

First, ask the mind to notice if the body is comfortable.  Bring attention to the places you come in contact with the floor or cushion that supports you.  Consciously allow your body to relax and settle in (the mind/body will need to work together for this).

Second, take a deep breath.  Fill the belly, fill the chest, and let it go.  Request that your mind stay fully aware of how deeply the breath enters your body; how full your belly and chest get with each intake; and invite the mind to hold an intention that all of the effort of this breathing will be on the in-breath, so that the exhale may be effortless.

Clearing with Breath & Color

This is a simple meditation to clear away the burdens your body is carrying, and come back to conscious awareness.  Perfect for anyone who gets lost in all the busy of this cooking, shopping, social season.

  • Cover the base of your ring fingers (where your ring sits) with your thumbs and close your eyes.
  • Now, breathe deeply.  Bring the breath to each part of your body, noticing where there may be tightness and density or openness and space.
  • When you notice an area of space and comfort in your body, notice if it has a color or if, in the moment, you are feeling attracted to any particular color.
  • Now, breathing in through the top of your head, allow the color of space and comfort to fill your whole being, while the color of tightness and density is exhaled through your mouth.  If the density does not have a color, envision black smoke coming out of your mouth.
  • Continue to scan your body with the breath, exhaling tightness and density, and breathing in nourishment and space.  Feel the openness filling your body to the tips of your fingers and toes.
  • When you are glowing with the color of openness, allow that to be what you are inhaling and exhaling.  It is passing through you, it is embodied within you.  You are a part of the open energy of the universe.

Heart Breathing

This meditation has been shared by Liz Giargiari of The Reiki Temple & Creative Awakenings: Express Yourself.  Offering a powerful combination of breath and imagery, this meditation opens the heart to life, love, and compassion.  The author is unknown.

First, "breathe through your heart" by imagining that the way you take in air is through the center of your chest.  Just breathe in and out, through your chest, allowing yourself to open up ever so gently.

A mantle of softness and kindness envelops you. Let yourself sink deep inside yourself.  Go down, down, down, to that beautiful, secret place of the most high within you. Everyone knows where it is inside of him or herself. We all have different ways of visualizing it.  For you it may be a garden.  For others it can be a stream, a river, an ocean, a favorite spot in the woods - wherever it is that you feel safe.

And while you are there, as you sit, you are willing at this very moment to do everything you can to make love possible.  And call forth that within you that will guide you and bring you to love.

Slowing Down & Letting Go

This meditation, inspired by the author, Oriah, was shared by Dee Dee Thurber.  For the moments when life is rushing at you and it's difficult to find your calm center, give this a try.

Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take three deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth and invite your body to relax.  Let your head and shoulders, torso and back, arms and legs all relax.  Now as you inhale, think of the words, "Slow down."  If any feelings or judgments arise with those words, just acknowledge them and let them pass on by.  Keep breathing in "Slow down" for several more breaths, allowing the words to permeate your whole being.  If it helps you to focus on a color, choose one that soothes you and allow it to settle in your mind.

Now, internally, add the words "Let go" when you exhale.  Breathe in "Slow down," and breathe out, "Let go."  Again, no judgments, only the loving embrace of your breath as you allow the words "Slow down" in and the words "Let go" out of your body.  If you feel any resistance, acknowledge and allow it, and invite the words "Let go" to wash over this area gently, soothingly, lovingly.  Continue to breathe in "Slow down" and breathe out "Let go" until you feel the moment is complete.

Mindful Breath - 4-4-8

This is a simple way to connect your mind and body.  The bonus: you can do this anywhere at anytime!  Allow yourself to practice this entire breathing series three or four times a day for 30 days for a more permanent shift in your mindful awareness.

  • Wherever you are, take a deep breath in, filling the belly first and then let the air fill up the chest, to the count of four....1...2...3...4.  With every in breath you are taking in life's nourishment.
  • Hold this breath for a count of four...1...2...3...4.  Is there anything else you may be holding that you might want to let go of?
  • Release this breath to the count of eight, completely emptying your chest and belly...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8.  The slow, gentle release of the breath is the key to this meditation.  Allowing anything that might be held in your body to let go with the exhale.
  • Gently repeat the entire cycle three times in a row - remaining conscious of each stage of the breath.

Remember this is your gift to yourself.  A way to come back to you in any moment - you deserve it!