Thursday, April 30, 2009

Finding Our Enthusiasm.....again

Enthusiasm is a quality that arises naturally and organically from the flow of life force within us. It carries us toward new experiences and discoveries.

For many, this enthusiasm was squelched when we were children when we were not permitted or not encouraged to follow our spontaneous creative impulses.

We can begin to cultivate our enthusiasm by trusting and following our intuitive feelings, exploring new experiences, and doing the things that we truly love to do.

Back to the Orchard, Back to Myself

When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep; yes, and when I walk alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts drift to far-off matters for some part of time, for some other part I lead them back again to the walk, to the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, to myself.


Stretch and Surrender: #22 Cat/Camel Stretch

(One of my favorite stretches.)

Benefits: Promotes flexibility in the spine. Increases energy. Keeps wrists flexible.

METHOD: Kneel on all fours, knees in line with your hips, hands directly under your shoulders, tops of feet on the floor. Inhale, and arch your back toward the ceiling. Your back is rounded; your head hangs toward the floor. Exhale, and slowly let your belly sag toward the floor. Your head comes up. To avoid overextending the curve in the cervical spine, gaze straight ahead rather than up. Slowly alternate between "the camel" and "the cat" for 10 repetitions.

Tip: If it feels uncomfortable to keep your hands flat on the floor, make two fists and lean on your knuckles.

Meditation Essentials: Take a Complete Breath

The relationship between mind and breath lies at the core of all meditation practice. The "complete breath" is a yoga meditation.

Lie on a mat or blanket on the floor, arms by your sides. Focus on breathing through the tip of your nose. Inhale for a steady count of 5 and then exhale for a count of 10. Repeat this cycle three times.

Take two or more complete breaths, this time raising your arms over your head as you breathe in and bringing them back to your sides as you breathe out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



the vigorous horse

of your mind.

Zen saying

Mom's Big Step Forward

Mom and my sister Joanne are travelling to Lancaster, Pennsylvania this weekend to visit with my Mom's sister, my Aunt Mary. This is a HUGE move forward for my Mom after my Dad's death three months ago. My Aunt Mary lost her husband, my Uncle Al, just about a year ago.

I am so proud of Mom and her movement toward having a new life now that my Dad is gone. I am hoping this is the beginning of her seeing that she has so many opportunities now that she did not have when she was caring for my Dad for so long. I love her so much.

Develpoing Our Opposite Polarity

When there is an area of conflict in a relationship, it is often a sign that each person is reflecting to the other one an energy that the other needs to develop. If two people do not integrate these opposite energies, they will begin to polarize even further in their emotional directions.

For example, in the emotional/rational polarity, one partner will begin carrying the other's emotional energy for them, and will become twice as emotional. The other may be carrying a double load of responsibility for the aspects of life that require a more rational way of dealing with the world. This person will become even more detached emotionally. Both people can begin to break this impasse by taking a step to develop their opposite sides/polarities.

Why Weight Training? : Reason # 6

Weight training helps reverse the aging process

As you get older and become more concerned about looking and feeling youthful, you have a couple of choices. You could go to an anti-aging clinic, get expensive prescriptions for drugs and hormones, slog down all kinds of goop, swallow fifty different supplement pills a day, and hope that one of these things will be the fountain of youth. Or, you could change your attitudes and beliefs by following excellent nutrition and lift weights.

People who don't maintain their lean body mass through strength training will lose up to 40 percent of their muscles by age 65! This progressive muscle loss with age is so insidious that it has been given a scientific name: SARCOPENIA. Although many people accept this deterioration as unavoidable, most sedentary people experience accelerated pathological aging, not normal aging. When it comes to muscles, "use it or lose it" is literally true. When you truly understand this, you realize that weight training is as close to the fountain of youth as you will ever get!

Stretch and Surrender: #21 Forward Praying Stretch With Rotation

Benefits: Stretches the gluteals, latissimus, shoulder extensors, trunk, and back muscles. Helps the trunk and lower back muscles remain flexible. Rejuvenates and refreshes.

METHOD: Kneel on all fours, knees in line with your hips, hands directly under your shoulders, tops of feet on the floor. Move your left and right hands together toward the right side of the mat. Sit back over your left hip. Feel a stretch along the left side of your body. Breathe deeply and relax. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Return to all fours position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do twice on each side.

Tip: Great for reaching muscles we don't normally stretch, including the hard to reach latissimus muscles.

Meditation Essentials: Release Your Control

Develop a more relaxed attitude toward life using this meditation.

Imagine yourself in a small rowboat. You are trying to row to the bank, but strong currents tug at the boat, keeping you on a course down the middle of the river. Exhausted, you stop rowing. At first, you feel defeated, but then you realize that the experience of being gently swept along by the currents is pleasurable, even calming.

Try to release your need to control things in life-doing so will bring you peace.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Weight Training? : Reason # 5

Weight training is the chisel you use to sculpt and shape your body

Some fitness experts say you cannot "shape" a muscle. Naturally, you can't change the origins and insertions of your muscles or your overall bone structure, but you can radically reshape your body with resistance training.

With diet alone, you may end up nothing more than a smaller version of your old self. With weight training, you can chisel away at any unwanted fat and slap on muscle exactly where you want it, in the exact amount you want. Think of your body as a living, breathing sculpture-a work of art always in progress-and weight training is your primary tool.

Stretch and Surrender: #20: Forward Praying Stretch

Benefits: Stretches the arms, the spine, and the entire back. Rejuvenates and refreshes.

METHOD: Kneel on all fours, knees in line with your hips, hands directly under the shoulders, tops of the feet on the floor. Lower your buttocks and sit back over your heels, extending your arms in front of you on the floor. Once in the posture, your head will be between your arms. Place forehead on the floor. Breathe deeply and relax. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Return to all fours position. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Tip: Feeling tired? Don't go out for another cup of a few rounds of this stretch instead!

Meditation Essentials: Gaze at Sri Yantra

Sacred geometry, (as depicted in sri yantra, a Hindu image which symbolizes the universe in its uncreated form), has for centuries been used in meditative traditions to tune the mind in to the positive forces of the cosmos.

When you can locate a sri yantra image, gaze at it and allow the shapes to fill your consciousness and as you do, try to sense the energy of your surroundings. Perhaps, noticing a gentle breeze on your face, or the warmth of the sun on your back. Tune in like this for five minutes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What Are You Judgmental About?

It can be difficult for us to recognize or accept that people we have problems with are actually mirroring for us the disowned parts of ourselves.

One simple way to tell is when you begin to feel very judgmental towards that person. Underneath, you may be jealous. Perhaps this person is expressing a kind of energy that you may hold back or don't allow yourself to express. They may be out of balance in an opposite way from you. It is not necessary to become like they are, or to go to an extreme. Just recognize that you may need to allow yourself to develop a little more of that energy.

For example, if you tend to be a quiet, reserved person you might feel judgmental toward someone who seems to grab a lot of attention. They may be mirroring a part of you who would like to receive more attention from others.

We can ask ourselves where in our lives we are being judgmental, towards ourselves or toward others. How is this showing us a part of ourselves that we don't accept?

Two Excellent Movies, One Not So Much

Michael and I saw two excellent movies this past weekend. Last weekend, we saw one we wish we hadn't bothered with.

The first was "The Changeling" starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich. This is a story based on a real event that occurred in the 1920's where a single Mother's 9 year old son was abducted and she is given another boy and told this is her son. This movie is worth watching. It really provides rather terrifying information on how women were treated and how mentally ill people were dealt with. I always like to watch movies exposing police corruption.

The second movie we watched was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. It is a strange, yet compelling story of two lovers who decide to have a procedure done to erase each other from their memory after their relationship ends. Again, well worth seeing this one.

Lastly, we saw "Gran Torino" starring Clint Eastwood. We both thought this one was bad. Poor acting, very, very poor writing, and certainly not worth seeing. I understand many people liked this one, but, it wasn't us. It was silly. We both didn't believe there was any real connection between the characters.

Why Weight Training? : Reason # 4

Weight training improves your health

There is a huge misconception that only aerobic exercise is good for your heart and overall health. Physicians, public health officials, and exercise organizations have finally started coming around. Almost all of them now recommend weight training for heart health, improved blood circulation profiles, strength and bone density, increased insulin sensitivity, and other health benefits.

Stretch and Surrender: #19 Wrist Flexion Stretch

Benefits: Increases flexibility in the wrist. Counteracts problems caused by repetitive hand movements, particularly computer work.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair. Extend your left arm in front of you with fingers pointed down and palm facing your body. With your right hand, grasp your fingers on the back of the left hand at the knuckles. Use your right hand to gently pull your left hand down toward your body. Hold for 20 -30 seconds as you slowly inhale and exhale. Repeat on the other side. Do 3 to 5 repetitions on each side.

Tip: This is a great stretch for office workers and for people involved in racquet sports.

Meditation Essentials: Solve A Problem

A pre-sleep meditation on a certain problem can often bring solutions in our dreams.

Hone your problem down to a single visual symbol that encompasses the situation. For example, if you are having a problem with a partner, select an appropriate symbol, such as a red rose (a symbol of passion), or a ring (a symbol of love and fidelity). Spend five minutes visualizing your chosen symbol in your mind before you go to sleep, and finish off by asking your unconscious for assistance. In the morning, scan your dreams for answers.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Why Weight Training? : Reason # 3

Weight training increases your metabolism

Weight training is not only a superb calorie burner, it's also a great metabolism booster. Weight training creates microtrauma to the muscle fibers, which must be repaired during the recovery period between workouts. This process is metabolically costly because it takes a lot of energy to repair damaged muscle and synthesize new lean tissue. Research has also demonstrated that weight training can actually stimulate a greater post-exercise metabolism-boosting effect than cardio exercise!

Stretch and Surrender: # 18 Seated Wrist Extension Stretch

Benefits: Increases flexibility in the wrist. Stretches the forearm and shoulder muscles. Can prevent or counteract repetitive stress movements.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair. Interlace your fingers , palms turned away from you. Raise your arms so that they are level with the top of your head. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Relax your arms. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Tip: This is a great stretch to do at the office.

Meditation Essentials: Learn To Say "NO"

One of the most valuable meditations is one that teaches us to say "no".

Think of someone whom you admire-perhaps a close friend, a favorite writer, or a former teacher. Visualize that person saying no to something. What would her posture be? What tone of voice would he be using?

In your mind's eye, recreate the details of his or her actions. When you have to say no to something, try to emulate your chosen person. You will find that assertiveness comes more easily to you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"The Invitation"

(This poem was sent to me by one of my very best friends and an amazing Licensed Massage Therapist, Lea Keating)

The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't matter to me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with your pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and your toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't matter to me if the story you are telling me
is true
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see the Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't matter to me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't matter to me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Why Weight Training? : Reason # 2

Weight training burns calories and increases fat loss

Weight training can also contribute in a major way to your daily energy expenditure while building muscle at the same time. Give me a few good sets of squats, lunges, and dead lifts and I can guarantee you will have burned at least as many, if not more, calories than you would have in the same time spent on a cardio machine.

Stretch and Surrender: #17 Wrist Extension Stretch, Palms Away

Benefits: Increases wrist flexibility. Stretches the muscles of the forearm. Can prevent or counteract repetitive stress problems.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair, arms by your side. Rest the palms of your hands flat on the seat of the chair with your thumbs and fingers pointing away from your body, toward the back of the chair. Feel a gentle stretch in your wrists and inner forearms. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Tip: We don't typically stretch our forearms in this direction. Try this as a variation in your stretching routine.

Meditation Essentials: Regain Clarity

Through meditation, we are able to gain renewed clarity about our lives.

Visualize yourself at the base of a great mountain. From where you are standing, the summit is obscured by the clouds. Imagine that you begin the long walk up the mountain. At the top, you realize that the clouds are disappearing and the way forward is clear. Try to bring this sense of clarity into your daily life.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Self and Other

That which transcends both the self and the other, that is what my teaching is about. Let me prove this to you. While everyone is turned this way to hear me, out back there may be sparrows chirping, human voices calling, or the sighing of the wind.

But, when you are consciously trying to hear them, each of those sounds comes to you clearly recognized and distinguished. It is not you doing the hearing, so it's not a matter of the self. But, since no one else does your hearing for you, you certainly cannot call it the other!

When you listen this way to the Unborn Buddha-Mind, you transcend whatever there is.


Stretch and Surrender: #16 Wrist Extension Stretch

Benefits: Increases flexibility in the wrist. Counteracts problems caused by repetitive movements, particularly computer work.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair. Extend your left arm in front of you with the palm facing away from you. With your right hand, grasp the fingers of your left hand on the palm side. Using your right hand, gently extend (pull), your left hand back toward your body, keeping your left arm straight. Hold for 20-30 seconds as you slowly inhale and exhale. Repeat on the other side. Do 3 to 5 repetitions on each side.

Tip: This is a great stretch for office workers.

Meditation Essentials: Walk the Zen Way

The following meditation is based on kinhin, a Zen walking meditation that encourages mental focus.

Find a space where you can comfortably take about thirty steps in a circle. Step forward about six inches with your right foot and inhale. As you exhale, step forward with your left foot. Focus your attention on every movement and sensation. Continue walking mindfully until you complete the circle. Complete three circles, each time walking more slowly.

Why Weight Training? : Reason # 1

Weight training is the best way to maintain your muscle in a caloric deficit

Anytime you reduce your calories, you run the risk of losing lean body mass along with the fat. The more you cut calories and the longer you stay on a reduced calorie diet, the greater the risk. Without weight training, your body can easily get a large proportion of its energy needs by cannibalizing muscle. Adding resistance training, with weights or with body-weight resistance, will help you maintain your muscle when your calories are low.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Discover the truth about feral cats

A feral cat is not socialized to humans. Though feral cats are the same species as companion cats and are protected under the same anti-cruelty laws, they are typically fearful of humans.

Feral cats should not be taken to animal shelters or control pounds. Feral cats' needs are not met by the current animal control and shelter system, because animals that are not adoptable are killed. Feral cats live outside, but are killed inside shelters. Even no-kill shelters are not able to place feral cats in homes.

Feral kittens can be adopted. Feral kittens can be adopted into homes, but they must be socialized at an early age. There is a critical window, and if they aren't handled in time, they will remain feral and therefore unadoptable.

Feral cats can have the same lifespan as companion cats. They are just as healthy, too. The incidence of disease in feral cats is just as low as in companion cats. They live healthy, natural lives on their own, content in their outdoor homes.

Humans are the cause of wildlife depletion. Studies have shown that the overwhelming cause of wildlife depletion is destruction of natural habitat due to man-made structures, chemical pollution, pesticides, and drought-not feral cats.

"Catch and kill" doesn't work. Animal control's endless, cruel cycle is extremely costly to taxpayers. Cats choose to reside in specific locations for a reason: there is no food source and shelter. When cats are removed from a location, survivors breed to capacity or new cats move in. This "vacuum effect" is well documented.

"Trap-Nueter-Return" does work! No more kittens. Their numbers gradually reduce and their lives are improved. The behaviors and stresses associated with mating, such as yowling and fighting, stop. The cats are vaccinated before returning to their outdoor home. This program creates a safety net for both the cats and the community.

You can make a difference and save lives. Together, we can educate people about feral cats and the fact that they don't belong in pounds and shelters. To learn more or to find tools to help you spread the word in your area, go to

Join our movement to protect our nation's cats!

New Series: Why Weight Training Must Be Your Top Priority

Weight trainng will make you stronger and more muscular. But, there is so much more to it than that. When you add dedicated weight training to your fitness regime, while fueling yourself with nutrient-dense, natural food, you increase your caloric expenditure and boost your metabolism. You also create a hormonal environment that tells your body to hold on to lean tissue while you are burning fat.

We will look at 6 reasons to why it is vital to weight train.

Stretch and Surrender: #15 Triceps Stretch

Benefits: Stretches the triceps muscles

METHOD: Sit or stand. Raise your right arm behind your head. Bend the arm at the elbow, resting the right hand behind the neck. Hold your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull your elbow toward your head as far as it will go comfortably. Breathe deeply. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do 3 to 5 repetitions on each side.

Tip: This is a wonderful stretch for any upper body activities (golf, racquet sports, upper body weight-training, etc).

Meditation Essentials: Appreciate Everything

Pick up an object that is near you-perhaps a book or a glass. Place the object at a comfortable distance for your gaze. Try to look at the object intently, but without staring(allow your eyelids to relax a little to help you with this). Focus on the object so that it fills your consciousness, and become aware of its uniqueness and beauty. Muse on the idea that there is value in even the most commonplace of objects.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Friends For Peace

Friends For Peace is a wonderful organization dedicated to Quaker ideals, specifically: peace, human dignity, and justice. You can check out our organization at

Stretch and Surrender: #14 Seated Side-Bend Stretch

Benefits: Stretches the muscles along the side of the body. Relieves tension and stress.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair. Extend your arms overhead. Gently grasp hands, palms together, with right palm facing the ceiling. Bend your upper body to the right as you gently pull your left arm toward the right. Straighten your arms as much as possible. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Breathe. Drop your arms and return your body to a straight position. Repeat on the other side. Do 3 to 5 repetitions on each side.

Tip: This is a great stretch when you have been sitting for long periods of time.

Meditation Essentials: Turn Failure Into Success

Each of our failures represents the potential for self-improvement. Use this meditation to help you turn apparent failure into success.

Visualize a fallow field-this is the current view of your failure. Now imagine the turning of the seasons and with it the new life that grows in this field. This is your rich crop of experience. Now, imagine harvesting this experience. In doing so, you gain self-understanding.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Four Agreements Part 4: Always Do Your Best

Under all circumstances, always do your best, no more and no less. But, keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to another.

Everything is alive and changing all the time so your best will sometimes be high quality and other times it will not be as good. In your everyday moods, your best can change from one moment to another. Your best will also change over time. Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best-no more, no less than your best.

By doing your best, you are going to live your life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself. You will give to others and to your community. Doing your best not for a reward but because it is the way you live your life.

If you do your best over and over again, you will become a Master of Transformation. Practice makes the Master. Everything you have ever learned, you learned from repetition.

From the Sanskrit

Look to this day, for it is life.
The very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the realities
And truths of existence.
The joy of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory
And tomorrow only a vision.
But today well lived
Makes yesterday
A memory of happiness.
And every tomorrow
A vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!

(Thanks to Jennifer Hoang, L. Ac.

Stretch and Surrender: #13 Anterior Chest Stretch

Benefits: Stretches the pectoral muscles. Stretches the upper arms and shoulders.

METHOD: Stand straight, with legs hip-distance apart. Keep chin level to the ground. Interlace your fingers behind your back. Slowly lift your arms away from your buttocks. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Feel a stretch in your upper arms, shoulders, and chest. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Relax, and repeat 3-5 times.

Tip: This is a wonderful stretch to counteract the forward-bending tasks we do all day.

Meditation Essentials: Discover Pure Precepts

In Zen practice, there are said to be precepts for pure living: to refrain from all harm, to be true to one's inner self, and to be true to others.

Spend five minutes today in quiet meditation on the first precept. How does it figure into your life? Tomorrow, spend five minutes meditating on the second precept, and the following day five minutes on the third. After each session, resolve to be more mindful of each precept in your day-to-day life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Four Agreements Part 3: Don't Make Assumptions

We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The true problem with making these assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking-we take it personally-then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why whenever we make assumptions, we're asking for problems. We make assumptions, we misunderstand, and end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.

All of the sadness and drama you have in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally. Once we do these two things, we start gossiping about our assumptions. Because we are often fearful of asking for clarification, we make assumptions, and then believe that we are correct in these assumptions. Then, we defend these assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. It is always better to ask questions for clarification because assumptions set us up for suffering.

We tend to only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. We do not perceive things the way they are. We literally dream up things in our imagination. Because we don't understand something, we make an assumption about the meaning, and when the truth comes out, we often find out it is not what we thought at all.

Making assumptions in our relationships is really asking for trouble. Often we make the assumption that our partners know what we think and that we don't have to say what we want. We assume they will do what we want because they know us so well.

We make the assumption that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse. This is the biggest assumption humans make. This is often why we have difficulty being ourselves around others.

The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to have the courage to ask questions. Once you have the answers to the questions, you won't have to assume anything at all because you will have the truth. Also, find your voice to ask for what you want. Everyone has the right to say yes or no, but you always have the right to ask. Likewise, everyone has the right to ask you, and you have the right to say yes or no.

"Are We Human, Or Are We Dancers?"

I love the band KILLERS. One of my favorite Killers songs is called "Human". It is from their 2008 album entitled "Day and Age".

A riff in the song is "Are we human, or are we dancers? My signs are vital, but my hands are cold. And I'm on my knees, looking for the answers. Are we human, or are we dancers?" He further implores the listener, "Close your eyes, clear the heart, cut the cord". To me, this is the essence of meditation and mindfulness and our own innate ability to be genuine and authentic.

Music is often best interpreted by the listener. This song has been part of Internet discussion and fodder since its inception. Brandon Flowers, the band's lead singer and the lyric writer of this particular song simply states it is whatever the listener feels when listening to it.

I feel that the song is saying that we need to be fully human; fully authentic with each other in our interactions. To be alive in each and every moment is to be fully human. "Dancers", I think in this song is referring to those who are simply "going through the motions" in their lives, non-authentic and posing with others. "Dancers" also, often do not move freely as they often are following a routine choreographed for them. They teach temselves to move as instructed and follow a script. (yes, I know there is interpretive dancing.)

Whatever this song actually means will constantly be part of Killers lore. I love their music. Like this song, I find them original and authentic. What do you think of this song? Give it a listen and comment here on the blog.

Stretch and Surrender: #12 Corner Stretch

Benefits: Stretches the anterior shoulder muscles and the chest muscles. Counteracts tendency to round the shoulders. Improves posture.

METHOD: Stand facing a corner. Raise your arms in a "T" position at shoulder height. Put one foot ahead of the other. Exhale and lean your upper body forward, keeping your back straight. You should feel a comfortable stretch in the arms and across the chest. Keep your chest and head up. Hold for 2- to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Tips: This is a great stretch for those who spend a lot of time at their desk or at the computer. For a slightly different stretch, experiment with sliding the arms slightly lower or higher on the wall. Remember to keep your back straight!

Meditation Essentials: Appreciate Abundance

We don't need to go very far to appreciate abundance in our lives. Next time you eat a piece of fruit, meditate on its special qualities. Think how at its core lies the possibility for new growth: how its flesh provides you with nourishment. Focus on the texture of its skin and its hue. Then, think about how nature provides you with all the sustenance that you need. Say a small thank you for nature's abundance.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Can You Touch Your Toes?

My friend was amazed yesterday that I can touch my toes in a standing position without bending my knees. He said he was surprised that "at your age you can still do that". Please. I am not even 50 yet. ( I have 4 more months!)

Can you touch your toes like this? It really is something that almost all of us can do if you are willing to work towards. We just have to increase the flexibility and length of our hamstrings and core muscles. It is, however, a true indicator of one's flexibility and physical shape to be able to do this stretch.

By the way, I plan to be able to do this stretch well into the latter years of my life.

Inner "Voices" as a Committee

An interesting metaphor is to view all of our "selves" as a committee. This often explains why it is sometimes difficult to make a decision or to finish a task. We all know what happens when a decision is made by a committee. One person wants one thing, another wants something else, and all too often nothing gets done.

If you can get to know the members of your own "inner committee", and then allow them to express themselves clearly, then YOU as a mindfully conscious person can begin to make the decision instead of allowing whichever part of you happens to grab control at a particular moment to make the decisions.

Wow, I love metaphors!

Stretch and Surrender: #11 Towel Stretch

Benefits: Releases tension in the upper back and shoulders. Stretches the rotator cuff muscles.

METHOD: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a towel in your left hand. Bring your left arm up, elbow bent, so that your left hand is behind the top of your head and the towel drops behind your back. Grasp the end of the towel with your right hand.

Gently pull down with your right hand so that your left arm moves down behind your head. Don't yank the towel or overstretch your right arm. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

Reverse direction by reaching up toward the ceiling with your left arm, allowing your right hand to be pulled up between the shoulder blades, or wherever you can reach comfortably. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Release the towel from your left hand. Repeat both rotations on the other side. Do 3 to 5 times on each side.

Tips: This can be done from a seated position as well. It's a great stretch to do at your desk. On the golf course, use a golf club instead of a towel.

Meditation Essentials: Practice Zen Sitting

Zazen (seated meditation) will help you to achieve postural and mental balance. Sit on the front edge of a firm cushion. Bend your left knee, resting your left heel near your pelvic bone; bend your right knee so that your right calf lies in front of the left. Visualize a silver thread gently pulling you upward from the top of your head. Feel your spine lengthening and your body posture achieving perfect poise. Breathe deeply and empty your mind of all thoughts. Remain in this position for five minutes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For my friend Waz (Carmine)

For Waz, my dear beloved friend. In memory of his wonderful and beautiful MOM, Helen R. Angrisani.

"In life, we cannot avoid change, we cannot avoid loss. Freedom and happiness are found in the flexibility and ease with which we move through change."

Jack Kornfield

The Four Agreements: Part 2: Don't Take Anything Personally

Whatever happens around you never take it personally. If you take anything personally you are agreeing with what the person has said to you. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped in is called personal importance.

Personal importance, or taking things personally is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about "me". We think we are responsible for everything. Everything is about "me, me ME."

Nothing other people do is ever because of you. It is because of themselves. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world. Even if a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds. Their point of view comes from all the programming they have received during their domestication.

Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up. You eat all of their garbage, and now it becomes your garbage. But, if you do not take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell. Immunity in the middle of hell is the gift of this agreement.

Even if a person is telling you things that are complimentary, this is still just their opinion. If you truly know who you are, you don't have the need to be accepted.

If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If this person does not walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away will hurt for a while, but, your heart will eventually heal. Then, you can choose what you truly want. You will find that you don't have to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.

Stretch and Surrender: #10 Arm-Across-Chest Stretch

Benefits: Stretches and releases the shoulder muscles. Increases flexibility in the shoulders. Improves posture.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair, or stand with knees slightly bent. Raise your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull your arm across the front of your body. Don't tug! Hold for 20 -30 seconds. Drop the left arm; relax the right arm. Repeat on the left side. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

Tip: A beneficial stretch if you've had to lift anything heavy.

Meditation Essentials: Invoke the Jewel in the Lotus

The traditional Tibetan mantra Om Mani Padme Hum (pronounced "om mani peymay hung") literally means "the jewel in the lotus". Reciting this mantra is said to bring you closer to your spiritual self.

Set aside ten minutes for this meditation. Say the mantra aloud, clearly and slowly. Become immersed in its rhythm. Focus your mind on the sound. If you lose concentration, speed up or slow down to bring the focus back. Imagine the sound vibrating at your spiritual core.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Zen Koan

One day Chao-Chou fell down in the snow, and called out, "Help me, help me up!" A monk came by and laid down beside him. Chao-Chou got up and went away.

Stretch and Surrender: #9 Eyebrow Raise

Benefits: Releases tension in the facial and neck muscles

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair with feet flat on the floor. Simultaneously open your mouth, stick out your tongue, raise your eyebrows, and gaze up toward the ceiling. Hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Tip: Sure, it feels silly(and looks even sillier), but this is a great exercise for the muscles in your face!

Meditation Essentials: Study Your Uniqueness

Sometimes we are afraid to stand out from the crowd. Use this meditation to give you the confidence to be different.

Sit quietly and look down at the fingerprint grooves in the tips of your fingers. Contemplate the beauty of the swirls and the tiny lines. These represent your unique individuality. Don't be afraid of thinking and acting in a way that reflects the true you-embracing your individuality will bring you fulfillment and peace of mind.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Four Agreements: Part 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word

It sounds very simple, but it is very, very powerful. Be impeccable with your word. Why your word? Your word is the power that you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes directly from GOD. The gospel of John states, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and the Word was GOD". Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything.

The word is not a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby create the events of your life.

We are to never use our words to hurt or to harm others. This includes gossip and speaking poorly of others. It also means always telling the complete truth at all times. It means doing what you say you will do. This forms integrity.

Impeccability means it leads to life. Being impeccable with your word is not to use the word against yourself. If I love myself then I will express that love in all my interactions with you. That action will produce a like reaction from you. Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means the use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.

If we adopt this first agreement, and become impeccable with our word, any emotional poison will eventually be cleaned away from our minds and from our communication in all of our personal relationships.

Mrs. A. Died Yesterday

My dear friend Waz (Carmine) lost his Mom on Easter Sunday. She had been very ill and was just recently placed into a hospice. She was over 90 years old. Waz and I have been friends for over 30 years.

Mrs. A. was a wonderful human being who was a joy to know. I was very privileged to have spent so much time with her.

I will be available to Waz as he grieves his Mom's death. I know only too well how difficult this time is as my Dad died just 3 months ago today.

Stretch and Surrender: #8 Jaw Warm-Up

Benefits: Relaxes the jaw and facial muscles. Helps release the stress many of us hold in our jaws. Helps alleviate temporal mandibular jaw (TMJ).

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair with both feet on the floor. Keeping your lips together, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. With the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, slowly open your mouth to a comfortable point without overextending. Open and close your mouth slowly 5 to 15 times.

Tip: Do this in bed in the morning, particularly if you have a tendency to grind your teeth while you sleep.

Meditation Essentials: Let Go of Resentments

Resentment is a chaotic emotion, and harboring it makes us feel heavy and burdened. Use this meditation to help you restore calm after a resentful episode.

Close your eyes and visualize your disrupted quietude as a broken vase. In your mind's eye, imagine mending the vase-carefully handling each piece to recreate something perfect and beautiful. When you have finished your visualization, take a deep breath and "breathe out" any remaining fragments of resentment.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stretch and Surrender: #7 Chin Tuck

Benefits: Stretches the back of the neck. Improves posture. Prevents progression of rounded shoulders ("dowager's hump").

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair with both feet flat on the floor. Keep shoulders down and relaxed. Hold your head upright. Draw your chin in toward your neck. To help guide your head back, lightly place two fingers on your chin. Return to neutral. Repeat 10 times.

Tip: This is an important stretch for people who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk.

Meditation Essentials: Float In the Night Sky

(Yes, I am in my office on a Saturday.)

On a clear night, perhaps when you are on a vacation far away from street lighting, go outside and look up at the sky (if possible, lie on your back).

As you become accustomed to the darkness, see how more and more of the stars appear to you and how the sky just seems to go on forever. Notice how each star glows with a different brightness. Can you see the different colors of the stars-blue, yellow, red?

Spend five minutes of time like this, meditating on the infiniteness of space.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dr.Crew Builds Upon His Fitness Credentials

Dr. Crew has passed his clinical examination and is now certified to provide fitness and strength training sessions to children and adolescents. This certification is through the I.S.S.A. (International Sports Science Association).

He is now certified to provide fitness training and strength training services to children, adolescents, adults, and seniors.

Dr. Crew's Mind-Body Fitness Studio is located in Port Jefferson Station at 1050 Hallock Avenue (Route 25A) and Davis Avenue. Appointments can be arranged by calling Dr. Crew at (631) 880-2531. Sessions can be purchased in 30/45/60 minute intervals. Current rates are $35./30 mins., $45./45 minutes, and $55./60 mins.

All sessions are private and one on one with Dr. Crew. Dr. Crew is a Master Fitness Trainer through the I.S.S.A. All sessions are based upon the muscle confusion principle and mind/body approach. He is also a proud member of NYSTRENGTH, Inc. an Institute for advanced fitness and strength training professionals founded by Dr. Jack Barnathan.

Dr. Crew also provides sports nutrition consultations and clinical hypnosis/hypnotherapy for those desiring to eat healthier and lose weight and body fat.

The Four Agreements

The book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is incredible. This book of Toltec Wisdom has changed my life and the way I interact with all others.

In the next four entries in this series I will attempt to capture the essence of these Four Agreements .

The Four Agreements are:
1) BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2) DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you cease to be the victim of needless suffering.

3) DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely change your life.

4) ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.

On Monday, we will begin to look more closely at these agreements individually.

Knowing Our Body

I woke up this morning and had incredibly sharp pain in my right upper back and lower right shoulder. I then realized that I was having a dream where I was being stabbed over and over in the back while I was asleep! The pain, however, was the impetus for the dream. Hmmm... or, was the dream the cause of the muscle spasm to occur...interesting. (Mind and Body...)

Michael and I work out together at NYSC each Friday morning as he works from home on Fridays. I know my body so very well. I just knew that if I went to the gym and completed my normal hour-long weight training workout I would feel better.

I completed my regular stretching routine and headed out to the gym with Mike.

It certainly was difficult to get started. Even driving the one mile to the gym was painful as I turned the steering wheel and put my seat belt on sending my upper back into spasms. I started to doubt my decision to work out this morning. Was I nuts?

The first few sets with the weights were difficult and sent my body into spasm. However, each set began to relieve the spasm and the pain was becoming more manageable as time went on. By 15 minutes into our workout, I was doing fine and the spasm was less painful.

I am now sitting here in my office and am not experiencing any spasms. I do have soreness and I have an acupuncture appointment this afternoon and a massage appointment tomorrow morning with Jennifer (L.Ac.), and Lea (L.M.T.)

Of course, this sent my thoughts towards awareness of an interesting metaphor. So many times, tasks can be painful and arduous, but, if we trust ourself and know ourselves well we can tolerate a bit of pain so that this task becomes less difficult.

Stretch and Surrender: #6: Neck Flexion

Benefits: Releases tension in the neck and shoulders.

METHOD: Sit comfortably on a straight backed chair with feet flat on the floor. Keep shoulders down and relaxed. Keep head upright. Tip your head forward, toward your chest. Don't overstretch or move your head to either side. Hold comfortably for 10-20 seconds. Raise your head to the starting position. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Tip: This is a stretch that can be easily done at your desk.

Meditation Essentials: Discover Form and Emptiness

In Zen practice, monks are asked to meditate on "form and emptiness". Place a cup in front of you and consider how it is both there and not there. It appears to have a shape, a surface, and a purpose, but at the same time it is empty-around and within this cup is space.

Spend ten minutes in direct contemplation of the cup. Don't try to come to any conclusions-in Zen meditation, the point is simply "to be".

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 28th, 2009 Albany, New York

Enlightenment II

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle of an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are clearly reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.



Even before we practice it, enlightenment is there. But, usually we understand the practice of meditation and enlightenment as two different things: here is meditation practice, like a pair of glasses, and when we use the practice, like putting the glasses on, we see enlightenment. This is the wrong understanding.

The glasses themselves are enlightenment, and to put them on is also enlightenment. So, whatever you do, or even though you do not do anything, enlightenment is there, always.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Stretch and Surrender: #5: Neck Extension

CAUTION! Avoid this stretch if you have any underlying neck problems.

Benefits: Stretches the cervical spine. Stretches the muscles at the front of the neck. Counteracts forward-bending tasks.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair with feet flat on the floor. Grasp the sides of the chair for stability. Keep shoulders down and relaxed. Tilt your head back until you feel a stretch in the front of the neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Return to neutral. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Tip: Make sure your head is tilted straight back, not to either side.

Meditation Essentials: Harness Energy

This meditation aims to fill you with energy. Sit down and hold your hands out in front of you, palms up. Close your eyes and concentrate on your index finger. As you breathe in, imagine energy entering your body through these fingers. Exhale and imagine the energy reaching deep within you. Repeat, focusing on each finger in turn. When you have finished, you will feel thoroughly revitalized.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yet Another Reason to Hate Fox News

This is the video of Bill O'Reilly's reporting of American Idol contestant Adam Lambert's recently surfaced pictures of him kissing another man. Fox News saw that it was necessary to censure the picture. How ridiculous and how completely homophobic!

See how many times you can count his smug statements and underlying discriminatory attitude and comments on this short clip.

Leave it to Fox News to once again clearly show who they really are. O'Reilly is one of the worst perpetrators. So,why is it that these pictures, according to O'Reilly, are "embarrassing"? What's really embarrassing, in my opinion, is O'Reilly's disgusting and shameful displays of prejudice and discrimination. Anyone who watches him even for a short time can clearly take notice of his misogynistic and racist views. He's a creep.

Self Discipline

"Conquer Thyself. Till thou hath done this, thou art but a slave."
Richard F. Burton

"Discipline is learned in the school of adversity."
Mahatma Ghandi

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks."
Phillips Brooks

"Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of their earned consequences."
Robert Louis Stevenson

"No man is free that cannot command himself."

"The disciplined man masters thoughts by stillness and emotions by calmness."

"He that cannot obey himself will be commanded. This is the nature of all living creatures."
Friedrich Nietzsche

"Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands."

"There has never been, and cannot ever be, a good life without self-control."
Leo Tolstoy

Liquid Mind

Many patients and students of mine have asked me about the music that I use in hypnotherapy/meditation therapy sessions. I almost always use music from the artist that calls himself Liquid Mind. He is actually Chuck Wild from the 80's band Missing Persons. He has been composing meditation and contemplative music for many years now. His music can be found on the website This is where I get most of the music I use in my practice as well as for my personal enjoyment.

Meditation Essentials: Contemplate Profound Thoughts

Often someone will say something to us, or we read a simple sentence, that has deep resonance. The next time this happens, write it down in a notebook. At the first available opportunity, spend five minutes of deep contemplation on these words. Try to not over evaluate them, simply allow them to connect with you in a way that they did when you first heard or read them. Whenever you feel the need refer back to your notebook for inspiration.

Stretch and Surrender: #4: Neck Rotation

Benefits: Improves mobility of the neck. Increases neck flexibility. Great stretch for tasks that require neck mobility, such as backing up a car.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair with feet flat on the floor. Grasp the sides of the chair for stability. Keep shoulders down and relaxed. Gently rotate your head to the left. Eyes can be open or shut. Chin should not go beyond your left shoulder. Do NOT overextend this stretch. Inhale and exhale deeply. Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds. Return your head to center. Repeat by rotating your head to the right. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Tip: To increase the stretch, apply a gentle overpressure. Place two fingers on the side of the chin and push slightly in the direction of the stretch. Do not force this stretch.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Heart Essence

Love is a quality of our own heart. It has nothing to do with being loved back. It has nothing to do with loving only specific persons, or with any ideal or activity or any particular direction. It is simply the training of our own heart. Just as meditation is training of our minds and does not depend on any input into the mind, the same is true for the love we can have in our hearts.

In the Pali language, heart and mind are the same word. (citta) In English, we have to differentiate between the two to make the meaning clear. When we attend to the mind, we are concerned with the thinking process and the intellectual understanding that derives from knowledge, and with our ability to retain knowledge and make use of it. When we speak of "heart", we think of feelings and emotions, our ability to respond with our fundamental being.

Although we may believe that we are leading our lives according to the thinking process, this is not the case. If we examine this more closely, we will find that we are leading our lives according to our feelings and that our thinking is dependent upon our feelings. The emotional aspect of ourselves is of such great importance that its purification is the basis for a harmonious and peaceful life, and also for good meditation.

Ayya Khema

Stretch and Surrender: #3: Upper Trapezius Stretch

Benefits: Reduces stress in the neck and shoulders. Increases neck flexibility.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair with feet flat on the floor. Place your left hand on your right thigh. With your right hand, gently grasp your left arm above the wrist. Apply a gentle downward pressure above the wrist for stability. Tilt your head toward the right. Slowly allow your head to bend slightly forward so that you are looking at your hands. Hold comfortably for 10 to 20 seconds. Release and repeat on the other side. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

Tip: This is an easy stretch to do at your desk, on a plane, or in the car. (passengers only, please!)

Meditation Essentials: Illuminate Your Spirit

In religious symbolism, light often represents spiritual illumination. Use this metaphor to visualize your own spirit.

Picture a point of light at the center of your being that exudes pure, brilliant energy. Feel its warming incandescence flowing within you. Each time you breathe in, your spiritual light grows brighter, fanned by life-giving oxygen. Meditate like this, breathing deeply and evenly, for five minutes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Meditation Essentials: Regain Peace

Consider the image of a dove. As you contemplate this image, allow all of its symbolism to resonate through you. To do this, repeat these words slowly to yourself: peace, purity , hope, love, tenderness. Now, imagine gently cradling a dove in your hands, envision the softness of the feathers, the delicateness of the wings.

Repeat the words again and as you do so, visualize yourself setting this dove free. You feel totally at peace.

Stretch and Surrender: #2: Forward Rotation Neck Stretch

Benefits: Loosens and relaxes the neck muscles. Stretches the levator scapular(shoulder). Relieves tension and stress in the shoulders.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight-backed chair with feet flat on the floor. With arms bent, place your left hand behind your neck. Keep shoulders down and relaxed. Turn your head 45 degrees to the right until a slight stretch is felt. Tip your head forward and slightly down toward the right hip. Hold comfortably for 15-20 seconds. Return your head to center and repeat on the other side, with your right hand behind your head. Repeat twice on each side.

Tip: Don't overstretch by straining the head down. This should be a very gentle stretch.

Science and Religion

"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

Albert Einstein

Dr. Crew in today's NEWSDAY

On page A34, there is an article on the V and W Networking Group that I belong to. I was interviewed by Patricia Kitchen for the article.

Stretch and Surrender: #1: Side-Bending Neck Stretch

Benefits: Loosens and relaxes neck muscles. Stretches the lateral(side) muscles of the neck. Helps relieve tension in the shoulders.

METHOD: Sit comfortably in a straight backed chair with feet on the floor. Grasp the sides of the chair for stability. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Slowly drop your right ear toward your right shoulder.Don't worry about touching your shoulder. Hold comfortably for 10-15 seconds enjoying a gentle stretch. Return your head to center and repeat on the left side. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

Tip: For more of a stretch, hold the seat of the chair. Try to gradually increase the hold to 20-30 seconds.


It is opening day today for my beloved Mets. I am also a Yankee fan, however, the Yanks are certainly my second favorite team. The Mets begin the season at Cincinnati facing the Reds with Santana on the hill. The Yanks face Baltimore with C.C. Sabathia pitching his first game as a Yankee.

I get so excited on opening day. The hopes of a World Series coming back to New York is a thrilling thing to imagine. Imagine a subway series in the same year when both New York teams have a brand new ballpark!

I will try to watch the games today between sessions. LETS GO METS!! Go Yanks!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Perseverance: some quotes

"A lot of successful people are risk-takers. Unless you are willing to do that, to have a go, to fail miserably, and have another go, success won't happen."
Phillip Adams

'Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Act as if it were impossible to fail"
Dorothea Brandt

"Perseverance is a great element of success. If you knock long enough and loudly enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody eventually."
Henry Longfellow

"Thousands of people have talent. I may as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is: Do you have staying power?"
Noel Coward

"Steady perseverance alone will tame your mind, and it is only through a tame mind that you can experience God."
Sathya Sai Baba

"There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, and all things in succession. That which grows slowly endures."
Joshua Holland

REFRAMING: Eliminating Excuses and Resolving Inner Conflicts-- #8

CONFLICT: "It is impossible for me to begin a workout program right now because I have a bad (insert your excuse here: knee, back, shoulder, etc.)
SOLUTION: Impossible or just a bit more challenging? Having an injury doesn't mean you can't do anything, it means you'll need to work around it and focus on what you can do. Besides, even if you were laid up in bed, you can still get leaner and healthier by improving your nutrition.

Friday, April 3, 2009

"For All We Know"

I was listening to The Carpenters Greatest Hits CD in my office this morning. I had gotten it from my Mother. She asked me if I had wanted anything from my Dad's CD collection and I chose it. It was one of Dad's favorite CDs to listen to while he was in his office on the computer. I was sitting at my computer, in my office, listening to his favorite CD.

The song "For All We Know" came on and I just started to weep uncontrollably. It was really strange. I have wept a bit about my Father's death, but this was a deluge. It felt rather cathartic to let this all go. The words of this song, like so many of Karen and Richard Carpenter's creations, are just so beautiful. This song reminds me of my Mom and Dad meeting, falling in love, raising their children together, and staying together all of these years until his death in January.

A good cry is just so cleansing. I truly miss my Daddy.

Action Rather Than Mere Words

"My actions are the ground on which I stand."

Thich Nhat Hanh

It is so easy to talk the talk. Our actions indicate clearly who we are.

New Series! Stretch and Surrender

This series will concentrate on stretching exercises that you can easily incorporate into your exercise and wellness routines. Stretching is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves.

Stretching is the best way to promote and maintain flexibility. As we age, flexibility may decrease due to habitual ways that we hold our bodies as well as lack of muscle tone. As a result, the tendons, which connect muscles to bone, are not being given full range of motion and begin to tighten. This reduces flexibility, restricts range of motion, and can lead to muscle imbalance. A regular program of stretching can counteract this, resulting in increased suppleness and improved coordination.

Anyone can stretch their body regardless of their level of ability or condition. Whatever age or shape you are in, stretching daily will increase your level of relaxation, your muscles will become stronger and more supple, stiffness and pain will be reduced, and you will enjoy better coordination and increased range of motion. You will be less susceptible to injury and stretching will help relieve or prevent stress.

Stretch number one coming Monday, April 6th.

Meditation Essentials: Contemplate A Flower

Nature provides a healing balm for the spirit. To tap into this spiritual calm, buy a flower from your local florist-one that you feel is particularly beautiful. Sit somewhere peaceful and simply contemplate the flower's perfection. Cup the head of the flower in the palms of your hands. Gently touch the petals, appreciating their shape and texture. Bring the flower up to your nose and smell its scent. Feel how the tensions in your body gradually ease as you tune into the sensuous beauty of the flower.

You can practice this meditation by recalling the image and scent of this beautiful flower. Or, you can purchase another beautiful one!

REFRAMING: Eliminating Excuses and Resolving Inner Conflicts-- #7

CONFLICT: "If I work out every day then I won't have any social life."
SOLUTION: What a silly idea. Exercise can be one of the biggest parts of your social life. You can recruit a friend to work out with you and support each other. If you go to a gym, it can be a great place to meet people. Anyway, there is no need to work out every single day. Five or six days a week will suffice.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Clay Pot

"We shape clay into a pot, but it is the EMPTINESS WITHIN that holds whatever we want."

Tao Te Ching

Meditation Essentials: Reveal Your hidden Awareness

The Zen garden is used in meditation to remind us that even the most basic things-rocks, sand, gravel, water-embody the pure reality of being. Allow your consciousness to flow in the way that the naked gravel "flows" around the rocks. Consider how your awareness is pure and clear when it is free from distracting thoughts. Acknowledge your innate understanding of the pure essence of reality.

Even if you cannot access this understanding now, it will reveal itself in its own time.

REFRAMING: Eliminating Excuses and Resolving Inner Conflicts-- #6

CONFLICT: "If I go on a diet I'll never be able to eat at restaurants."
SOLUTION: Never? That's absolutely untrue. If you choose, you can eat healthy in almost every single restaurant. You simply need to learn how to make healthier choices and keep portions small.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Saying "NO"

For many of us, the most difficult word to say is one of the shortest in the vocabulary: NO. Go ahead, say it out loud. NO!

No- simple to pronounce, hard to say. We are often fearful that people won't like us, or we feel guilty. We may believe that a "good" person, employee, child, parent, partner,, or even "Christian" never says no.

The problem is, if we don't learn to say no, we stop liking ourselves and the people we always try to please. We may even punish others out of our resentments.

When do we say no? When NO is what we really mean.

When we learn to say no, we stop lying. People can trust us, and more importantly, we can trust ourselves. All sorts of good things can happen when we start saying what we mean.

If we're scared to say no, we can buy some time. We can say, "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you." We can take a break, rehearse the word, and go back and say no. We don't have to offer long explanations for our decisions.

When we can say no, we can say yes to the good. Our no's and our yes's begin to be taken seriously. We gain control of ourselves. And we learn a very important secret; "NO" isn't really that difficult to say.

Meditation Essentials: Silence the HUM

When we are troubled, our worries can create a background hum that plays continuously in our minds. Try this. Visualize yourself "tuning in" on an old-fashioned radio transmitter to banish this hum of anxiety. Imagine the hum crackling and squealing. Then, as you imagine turning the dial, tune into a channel of pure silence. Spend a few minutes enjoying the silence before continuing your day.

REFRAMING: Eliminating Excuses and Resolving Inner Conflicts-- #5

CONFLICT: "I have to take care of others first."
SOLUTION: You can take care of yourself AND others. It's not an either/or situation. If you don't take care of yourself first, you can't really take care of others, anyway.