Thursday, December 30, 2010

Open Sky

The sky is different here.  It is open and vast.  Walking in the mild Kansas air, I too feel vast and expansive.  Life seems full of possibilities. 

A New Year.  Letting go of the old.  Welcoming in the new.

This is the perfect time to feel the possible.  A perfect time to gaze out at the open sky and dream a bit.

Granted, I am on vacation, but I always feel a great sense of possibility when I come here.

It is an interesting question then- what influence does the environment have on the way we live in our bodies?  The weather, the season, the sky, the landscape, the sounds around us- does our environment inspire or inhibit?  Does it push us down or lift us up?  Do we want to breath it in deeply? Do we want to brace ourselves against it?  Does it bombard?  Does it nourish?  Does it make us feel alive?

Just a little inquiry that I am thinking about.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you a happy New Year full of vast possibility and of course, balance.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Month of Gratitude

The first month of my year long gratitude buddies project has drawn to a close, providing a perfect opportunity to reflect on what I have learned thus far.

It has been a great project- It invited a daily connection with my friend who participated with me.  I so looked forward to the happy messages I got from her.  The daily practice coaxed me into taking the time to count my blessings despite the emotional weather of the day and truly encouraged a positive outlook.  I have been much happier since starting the project.  Sounds sweet, doesn't it?  Pollyanna springs to mind.   But I have learned an important thing this month- the practice isn't about sugar coating your life, or accepting unacceptable situations.

When my gratitude buddy and I were discussing this very thing, I came up with the following analogy.  (Warning- this is an indelicate departure for this blog.)  If I were holding a pile of shit in my hand, the gratitude practice isn't about spinning the situation as desirable.  "I am so grateful for the warmth this pile of shit is providing for me."  The practice is about acknowledging my gratitude of the fact that I have enough sense to put the shit down and to wash my hands.

Acceptance is important.  Fighting with reality causes us much suffering.  But this doesn't mean we should just passively and happily accept situations that are unhealthy for us.  In other words, the gratitude practice isn't about justifying remaining stuck in a toxic situation.  Unhealthy situations require action, not sugar coating.  Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.  Sometimes you have to put the shit down and wash your hands.

I am grateful for the opportunity this project has presented for me to take a deep look at my life and to appreciate all the wonderful, miraculous moments and terrific people that I sometimes take for granted, but also to recognize when I need to step up the courage in order to take action to make a healthy change.

Wishing you balance,


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm Getting a Massage!

Yesterday I got a massage. That massage is what got me through the day. The session was late in the day, but every time I thought I was going to succumb to the stress that this particular day was dishing out, I would remind myself, "I'm getting a massage!"

I'm getting a massage!
What wonderful words these are. It is hard not to sing them.

You see, I have had this pain in my right popliteus. It has been pretty persistent. I have been having trouble sitting on the floor, which is something that I do pretty often so I was really looking forward to getting that problem addressed.

The massage helped the pain tremendously, but more importantly, I have felt calm, relaxed and centered since. Yesterday was one of those days that felt to me like the world was crashing down around me- stress coming from all directions- everything felt hard. And today- all is calm and I am enjoying a real sense of ease. What an incredible difference.

We all know that massages are relaxing. But I think that sometimes we trivialize how important relaxation is. Prolonged or severe stress takes a toll on health. It weakens the immune system, strains the heart, contributes to heart disease, depression and autoimmune disorders. Constant stress makes us sick. And being stressed out feels really terrible.

I'm getting a massage! I'm getting a massage!

The relaxation starts before you even get on the table. It begins when you make the appointment!

Wishing you balance,


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

I asked a group of kindergarten students what they were thankful for and one child said, "skunks."

This is why I love working with children so much. They are full of wonder and appreciation for things that we older folks just take for granted.

But skunks?

"They are so fascinating, " he explained.

I have adopted a daily practice of exchanging lists of things for which I am grateful with my gratitude buddy. Initially, it was difficult to think of things that really rang true. It is easy to say the right thing- I am grateful for my family, my health, etc... We know what we should be grateful for, right?


Roses, for which I need to take the time to smell right? Can you smell my sarcasm here?

But, it didn't take long for me to shed my skepticism and my gratitude list soon began flowing on its own accord. I now wake up to a blast of gratitude and can't wait to write my list. It is difficult to stop at just three.

Who knew that I was so blessed? So lucky? And like a gift from the Wizard of Oz I realize- I have been blessed all along. If ever there was a recipe for contentment, this is it. So get yourself a buddy, or a journal and start letting your gratitude flow.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." -Melody Beattie

Wishing you balance,


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On Gratitude

This year, I had a nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner. My sister and I enjoyed a lovely meal at a Latin-Indian fusion restaurant. When people asked me about my Thanksgiving plans, I would joke, "Non-traditional. We are eating in a restaurant. I'm not even giving thanks."

That couldn't be farther from the truth, however. This year, I have decided to make gratitude a practice, one that expands well beyond the Thanksgiving table, traditional or not. Inspired by a dharma talk that Tara Brach recently gave on gratitude, I immediately asked a friend if she would be my gratitude buddy. In her talk, Tara had suggested this idea, saying that if you make an agreement to send a daily note to someone listing three things for which you are grateful, you will not only put into place a daily ritual of giving thanks, but you can look forward to getting one positive e-mail a day. In our case, we have opted to send text messages: just simple lists of what we are feeling the most thankful for in a given day, every day, for a month.

My plan is to keep this up for a year with the hope of inviting someone new to join me each month. What motivates me is my curiosity; I wish to see what giving conscience attention to engendering gratitude will foster.

My friend and I have been sending messages for a week now and I already have a lot to report. Many posts worth I am sure. And for that, I am grateful. This has not been a trivial project.

Wishing you balance,


P.S. Speaking of gratitude, take time to visit the Express Your Gratitude site and nominate a loved one for a massage giveaway this holiday season. (Rochester, NY massage therapists, including Body In Balance have donated free bodywork sessions for the lucky recipients. You can even request a specific LMT. If you are a reader from afar, visit anyway, the sentiments expressed are very moving.)