Donating Our Time

 Donating Our Time

        A common complaint one hears everywhere is,“I don’t have time to…”,or, conversely,  “I have so much going on right now”. Without denying that everyone’s lives are busy, it is vital to our communities that we volunteer our time because there are always struggling people who need services.  

If you have children or grandchildren, find an organization such as a Food Bank or a church where they can participate. It will be an eye-opening experience for them where they will gain an appreciation for and understanding of their community. Whether the time devoted is great or small, it will be rewarding for everyone involved. Volunteering in an area that is different from your occupation can open doors to new learning experiences and new people that  will enrich your life. We truly learn about our community and its’ needs when we get involved rather than read about it in the news. In this way, we become an active part of the community and can make a difference. Although you are not getting paid, there is an assigned dollar value to your time. According to The Business Times in 2012, “one estimated dollar value of volunteer time is $21.36 per hour. According to one estimate from the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans — nearly 27 percent of the adult population — contribute a collective 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth $169 billion a year.” That’s a lot of volunteer hours! This is terrific, yet more involvement is needed.

Search locally online, in newspapers, churches, community centers, local schools and organizations to find what interests you and there will be an opportunity.

The rewards are many:

  • Knowing that you are contributing to your community

  • Acquiring new skills

  • Enriching your life and the lives of others

  • Making new friends and social connections

  • Setting a great example for your children and grandchildren

  • Connecting with your community

As a child, I observed my parents and relatives volunteering and gradually came to participate in these church and community activities. I am sure I had my share of grumbling when asked to volunteer, however, my father and I used to talk about the fact that we remember all those experiences and that they became a part of the fabric of our life and helped us to consider others before ourselves.

Gratefully,

Ag


   


AG'S SUMMER VACATION

Yoga members,

I wanted to give you a heads up that our family will be holiday from July 6 , 2019 to July 14, 2019 therefore I will not have yoga class on July 8 and July 10, 2019. Yoga class schedule will resume on July 15, 2019.

Gratefully,

Ag

CONNECT WITH NATURE

Connect with Nature  

Connecting with nature is how I have been spending a lot of my time lately (instead of writing the blog in a timely manner). Performing the yard chores of spring: weeding, pruning, mulching, planting and mowing. It is strenuous and time consuming, however, I always itch at every chance to be outdoors.  For many, this is the reason we chose to live in Nelson county because the mountains and rolling landscape are so beautiful. Taking time to connect with nature and take care of our surroundings is important.

There are interesting moments even during a mundane activity such as weeding.  A colorful salamander scoots by or a tiny frog hops about in the dirt. I’ve come upon a baby hummingbird buzzing -curious about me. The senses are overwhelmed in Spring: the warm air, the fragrant smells, the birds singing, the falling raindrops. The longer days invite us outside.  I chide myself when I take numerous photos of sunsets, sunrises, flowers, landscapes -the same scene each season. Those are the moments where I paused long enough to appreciate the beauty.

There are many opportunities to connect with nature even with a busy schedule:

Sit quietly listening and observing without your phone.

Take a walk during your work lunch break or after dinner.

Eat a meal outside.

Appreciate a spectacular sunrise or sunset.

Read a book outside in a hammock.

Feel the fresh air and warm sun on your skin.

Weed the flower beds and and feel the dirt in your hands.

Listen to the beat of raindrops on the roof.

Take a hike.

Play a game outside.

Go to a ballgame.

Go to the beach.

Cut some flowers to put in a vase for the indoors (especially if your workplace doesn’t have windows)

Research reveals that connecting with nature a few minutes daily lowers blood pressure, reduces the output of cortisol and reduces stress.  As we nurture our environment, we are caring for ourselves and that promotes calmness.

In addition, connecting with nature allows us to leave the electronic world of cell phones, ipads and laptops for a little while. That is vital for optimal health and reduction of stress. The continual beeps during the day “alerting” us that there is a new email or text compounds the stress. There is a false immediacy that has been created  in which we feel compelled to respond to everything in the next 15-20 seconds. That type of stress accumulates throughout our lifetime inflaming the mind, organs and cardiovascular system. It is important to be aware of our habits to foster wellness. Connecting with nature cultivates peace in our hearts and minds just as we would cultivate the growth of a beautiful rose.

Namaste,

Ag


The Habit to try for March 2019: Restraint

Practicing Restraint

This month’s “habit to try” is perhaps the most challenging of habits that will be introduced this year. Have you ever said such hurtful words to someone that you wish you could retract them? Words can be as lacerating as knife wound. Often, we react rather than respond thoughtfully.  The Cambridge dictionary defines restraint as “determined control over behavior in order to prevent the strong expression of emotion or any violent action”.

Imagine being attacked verbally in person, by email, facebook, instagram or twitter. A reaction would be to fire an insult in return and engage in an exchange that is both nonproductive and fuels the flame. This occurs daily in every variation of social and media outlets. Does this type of expression improve any situation? Practicing restraint requires immense self awareness. First,  we experience the barrage, and feel the body tense under fire. Then, we have to refrain from going into Fight, Flight or Freeze mode which is naturally wired into our brain when we feel threatened. Once we sense this, we have a choice. How to respond? In Yoga philosophy, “niyama” or restraint, is one of the eight tenants. Buddhist and Tao readings advocate responding in a manner that improves harmony. It is so difficult to respond compassionately when we feel attacked.  And, we may not know the best answer. So, we blurt out harmful words just to say something. The act of holding back is incredibly challenging mostly because our ego wants “to win.”

When practicing restraint, it is important to understand that these violent verbal discussions is not about who is right.  It is about behaving in a manner that promotes harmony and fosters peace. Every form of war and physical violence begins with a violent thought in the mind of someone.  We will always have dark thoughts, however, it is our awareness of the black thoughts and what we do with them that matters.

In the space created by pausing in moments, minutes, hours or days, we gain perspective of the situation. Often, other emotions become apparent. The event may elicit emotions of hurt, sadness, shame, guilt, anger or loneliness. Or, maybe it brought up a past sad memory. Physiologically, day after day of fiery emotions increases the cortisol output  that keeps our minds and bodies are on high alert. Over time, blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels remain elevated and the body holds onto the anger manifesting in physical pain. In other words, the brain perceives that we are at war all the time and doesn’t know how to get out of the Fight, Flight or Freeze mode.

So, how do we start to practice restraint?  1. If it is social media, don’t respond. 2) If it is a live  exchange, select a response that is neutral and empathetic. For example, “That must be so difficult” or “I am sorry that you feel that way” and “I don’t have an answer to that at the moment; can I get back to you after I think about it?”  3) Write your response in a journal without sending it to individual. 4) Meditate daily for five minutes to practice centering yourself so you can center yourself quickly in any situation.

Working in healthcare for 33 years, I learned to be “Switzerland”  or be neutral when treating a variety of clients, including criminals. When I owned my practice, I could have easily chosen send certain individuals away who made disparaging comments. But, my job is to is to rehabilitate individuals physically regardless of different beliefs. What I learned is that there is great value in listening to each other without judgement. We  didn’t need to agree with each other to extend kindness.

The daily practice of mindfulness trains our minds so when negative events occur, we  are in a place of equanimity. This practice is ever so challenging and a journey in our life. It takes two or more for a fiery argument. When we make the choice to disengage, it changes the game. If a boxer steps into the ring and doesn’t have an opponent, there is no fight.

“Be the change in the world you wish to see.”  - Mahatma Ghandi

Namaste,   

 Ag




February's Habit: The G.L.A.D technique

Practicing Gratitude

February’s habit is practicing gratitude, which is timely, as Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. The “Hallmark” holidays remind us to appreciate our loved ones, but it may seem silly to “practice” gratitude. It is easy to see the sunsets and enjoy the company that surrounds us when life is flowing smoothly, but mix in having an illness, caring for a sick parent or an ailing child, losing a job, a government shutdown, a house fire, a car accident,  a home foreclosure, or death of a partner and suddenly the skies are gray and cloudy. Immense trauma can blind our ability to experience joyful moments.

I often wonder if being an eternal optimist is somehow wired into my DNA. I have certainly encountered permanent pessimists during my travels. Thanks to research and the science of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change has gained more focus in recent years, helping those with depression and other mental and emotional challenges. The book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley reveals the exciting potential of the brain’s capacity (and is a fascinating read).

Very simply, practicing gratitude daily changes the neural firing of the brain and releases “feel- good” endorphins. It also reduces the cortisol output that causes the fight, flight or freeze reaction, which is heightened when we are under stress.  If we practice gratitude daily, even 1-5 minutes, we will learn to cope better and can gain some perspective on our life events. What about our day to day woes? Life’s little storms can accumulate and overwhelm us. Will the mindfulness practice of gratitude help at all? The answer is a resounding yes.  The small acts of gratitude and kindness that we practice each day are shown to improve equanimity and resilience.

One short-and-sweet method to incorporate this into your busy day is the G.L.A.D. technique developed by David Altman, M.A., LPC. Record one item under each category daily in your journal.

G - Gratitude: Write one basic nugget that you are thankful for today (the sunshine, your spouse, food, a working body).

L - Learn: Write one thing that you learned about yourself today, whether it's a new insight or a little discovery.

A - Accomplishment: Notice something you accomplished today- it may be as simple as a good night’s sleep!

D - Delight: Consider anything that makes you laugh or smile (a bird chirping, a cuddly pet, a funny joke, or the kindness of a stranger).

The G.L.A.D. technique only takes 2 or 3 minutes of your time for some pretty profound changes in your brain.

Practicing gratitude does not lessen the chaos in our lives, it just changes our outlook when we are in the midst of it. It allows us to see all aspects of the situation clearly and respond to others around us with care. It is a life-long practice and isn't always easy, but the small moments we appreciate start to add up in our lives. That is joy!

Still practicing and forever grateful,

Ag


Healthy Habits: Skin Care for Men and Women of All Ages

Happy New Year! Starting this month, I will introduce twelve healthy habits, one habit per month, to consider integrating into your life. There are no earth-shattering discoveries about fitness or health, however, these little changes go a long way. Why release one per month rather than rolling them all out in January  2019 whenever everyone is making their New Year’s resolutions? Is it the anticipation and suspense factor? It is actually less exciting than that. Changes take many weeks to become a habit. If we attempt to change too many factors in our lives simultaneously, that sets us up for failure and negative self talk. We are already great self-critics so it’s best to make gradual changes. The first topic (in the winter season) is skin care which is often overlooked as part of health care.

January’s topic: Skin Care for Men and Women of All Ages

Did you know that:

~ skin is the largest organ in our body?

~ skin is our protective barrier?

~ as we age, skin becomes paper thin tissue?

~ tiny cuts in our skin can lead to major infections?

Skin is the largest organ of our body, covering approximately two square yards and weighing six to nine pounds. It is a barrier against infection and viruses and regulates body temperature. It constantly regenerates new skin cells, but the process slows down with aging. Skin care is often seen from a cosmetic viewpoint; such as women receiving pedicures, people going to spas for extravagant exfoliation techniques, or individuals buying expensive creams to look younger. We want to look fabulous, but there are other important reasons to take time for skin care. Frequently, individuals concentrate on skin care for the face and neglect the rest of the body. It is also my observation that men spend less time on skin care than women.

Dry skin is common during the winter. Sometimes fingers can get tiny cuts and allow an opening for infections, bacteria and fungi to manifest. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a notorious deadly bacterial infection that is resistant to antibiotics. It is common in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, child care centers and in gyms (mostly among wrestlers). If you have ever known anyone to survive MRSA, they will recount the long, uncomfortable haul to recovery. When you see a little nick in your skin, keep it clean and cover it with Nuskin, a protective barrier in glue form that you “paint” over the cut. Nuskin works well for tiny cuts on the fingers or hands since it won’t fall off like a bandaid would when you wash your hands.

There are many other ways to take care of skin. Skin lotion or cream is a well-known method of caring for our skin. The type of lotion is important. Avoid lotions and soaps with alcohol, chemicals, or fragrances. Remember, the skin is highly permeable, so those chemicals are absorbed into the body. Choose essential oils to moisturize especially during winter months as it seals the moisture in. Coconut oil is wonderful for skin care, and is sold as a solid but melts and quickly becomes an oil once a small dab is in your hands. Hotter water in showers and baths can dry out your skin. Moisturize immediately after you shower. If your hands and feet are dry and cracked, apply the moisturizer, then wear gloves and socks for a while to keep the moisture in. Wearing them overnight works well but even a few minutes is helpful.

As the saying goes, you are what you put in your body. People who smoke are easy to spot because their skin is wrinkly and dry. They appear older than their true age. Smoking narrows the tiny blood vessels that travel to the outermost layers of skin, altering the health of the tissue. It also increases the risk of squamous cell skin cancer and impairs the body’s ability to heal itself.

Food plays a role in skin care. Consuming cucumbers, sweet potatoes, red peppers, carrots, and spinach can improve skin condition due to the anti-oxidants and beta-carotene. The omega- 3 fats in salmon, walnuts and olive oil aid in skin care. Drinking water to stay hydrated benefits your protective barrier immensely.

During the colder months, using a humidifier in your home prevents the air from becoming dry, thus preventing it from drying out your skin. It also warms the rooms so the heater turns on less frequently, saving on utility expenses and keeping more moisture in the air. Hanging wet laundry on a rack also humidifies the room (and dries your clothes) nicely.

Protecting your skin against sun rays is known to be important in the summer, and it is important in winter months as well. If you ski or hike, apply sunscreen on the face for a protective layer. The sun damages the collagen and affects the skin’s elasticity -- abundant exposure can lead to skin cancer.

Managing stress levels is important for skin care.  Get plenty of sleep, meditate, do yoga, exercise and take time for yourself. Some people take wonderful care of others, but my advice is that you must take care of yourself in order to take care of others effectively. It is not selfish, it is self care.

So, in the New Year, give your skin a little more attention by adopting some of the tips to care for our protective barrier and largest organ! Happy New Year!

Warmly,

Ag

The Season of Eating

The Season of Eating

    Halloween starts the Season of Eating laden with oodles of candy on display at all stores. Businesses put candy bowls on the counters. Parents and grandparents buy the “ little  something extra” for the kids. Before we blink, the Thanksgiving and Christmas food products are in the grocery aisles obstructing any safe path for passage. Every year, we are aware of the onslaught and the marketers are keen to our over consumption. They giddily smile because, each year, we succumb and eat more than we need to. January brings the weight loss resolution ritual. It is a perpetual cycle of defeat and negativity.

If I hit my thumb with a hammer and it hurts me, would I continue to hit my thumb with a hammer? No. So, why do we continuously harm ourselves with the holiday food binge? Part of it is the social and family gathering. Every gathering involves food. Even book clubs; “Books and Brews” is one example. Because of the variety of families; one might celebrate two to three “Thanksgivings” involving in-laws, grandparents, step-parents and children. That’s a lot of great potato dishes that I would hate to miss! It is wonderful that food brings us together and that is one of the joys of holidays.

Our personal relationship with food is challenging. And it is different for each of us. Some individuals are addicted, some eat due to stress, some are anorexic, and some just eat for survival not caring about taste. Consider a different perspective; think of food as medicine. It is not a huge leap as it is common knowledge that most of the medicines developed are plant based. What about our daily meals? Can that be medicine as well and keep us healthy? Yes.

Mark Hyman, MD, author of the book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?,  writes “food is medicine.” The research he cites is recent and valid; it is not sponsored by food corporations attempting to sway the consumer to buy its’ goods. The book is written succinctly, it is easy to follow and it is a extensive referral source. It does tout a eating plan and I confess that I did not read those chapters because every individual has a specific nutrition plan that works with the chemistry of his/her body. A programmed “diet” may not be appropriate. Research demonstrates that “diets” are only successful for the short term which is why every January there is a new fad diet on display. It is a marketing scheme.

The chapters in the book are divided as such: Meat, Poultry and Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Fats and Oils, and Beverages to name a few. At the end of each chapter is a resource guide filled with useful information. For example, did you know that “the phoney olive oil trade is three times more profitable than the trafficking of cocaine.” Much of the olive oil purchased is not true olive oil but oil mixed with nut or soybean oil.  Thus, there is a list of real olive oil brands. Reading this book reveals the path to obesity in America shaped by food manufacturers paying off scientists and our government to publish faulty data leading to decades of misinformation to the consumer. Our country is now at an elevated risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. All of which is preventable.

     Did I change my entire nutrition plan after reading the book? No. But I altered a few simple things.  I purchased true olive oil recommended from the list. I reduced my sugar intake even more. More than ever, I am paying attention to what I eat and where I shop for food. Shopping takes special effort especially with teens because I am a pescatarian and they are omnivores. And, we live in a rural region. It takes extra time but I may shop at two to three different places for groceries. It requires planning and utilization to conserve time and gas so I am not making an extra trip to the grocery store. I buy meat from a local farm where the animals are grass fed and don’t receive hormones or candy. Yes, candy manufacturers give the candy surplus to large cattle farmers to fatten the cows which is then passed along into your system. Life long habits of eating poorly wreak havoc on our bodies. The sugars and chemicals from processed “food-like” products accumulate in our systems. Stuff our bodies are not designed to ingest just sits in our system causing inflammation in the tissues. Scary.  

Your habits as individuals, parents and grandparents shape the youth for tomorrow. As a parent, I tried and continue to model for my kids; teaching moderation and putting good fuel in the body. It hasn’t always been easy. As a young child, my daughter was a very picky eater. Remembering my own food battles with my parents, I tried to encourage healthy foods but didn’t force the issue. Now as a 17 year old, my daughter eats a wide selection of foods. She still has a sweet tooth but doesn’t overdo it and she monitors herslef. She enjoys real food, not “food- like” products filled with chemicals, additives and sugar. And, we enjoy watching cooking shows together. Would I have ever imagined this would happen when she was eight years old? Never. I just kept modeling and preparing real food for the kids.

It takes time to shop and it also takes time to prepare nutritious meals. Part of the reason for our poor health in America is the invention of the “food-like” convenience products developed in the 1050’s to “save time.” Americans spend more than 11 hours daily interacting on screens (phone, computer, media, etc.) according to the market research group, Nielson. That is increased from 9 hours, 32 minutes from four years ago. Is that good for our health? Perhaps, some time can be carved out to prepare a nutritious meal.

We can’t do much without good physical, emotional and mental well being. Begin seeing food as medicine and selecting foods more consciously. Work together with your family so each of you has support. It doesn’t mean we have to stop eating chocolate; it means we eat a quality chocolate without the chemicals and maybe not so much of it. Start by reducing without going “cold turkey” for better success. Imagine your future self and work towards that goal.

The benefits: You will feel better in every way. Here’s the cool fact: any positive changes that you make today in your nutrition plan result in better health. Here’s the challenge: it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a pill. It is a lifestyle change.

Small steps lead to a long path of living well.

Yours in Wellness,

Agnes

Email Ag at: agnesyhw@gmail.com

website: agsyogaworks.com


Holding the Yoga Pose

Did you ever think during a yoga class, "How much longer is the instructor going to keep us in this pose?"  "Geez, we have been in plank pose forever!"  Depending on the yoga class,  a pose may be brief in a vinyasa class or for several breaths in another class. Each have different benefits. Sometimes, when we hold a asana for a longer time, the mind wanders to the "To Do" list for the day or various thoughts and comments. The practice of staying in an asana longer trains the mind and body in various ways.

There are many benefits of holding poses a longer time. It is an opportunity to practice training the mind to learn focus and keep the focus. In the pose, become aware of your body and how it feels. Root the limbs to the earth and make any adjustments needed in the pose. Appreciate how the body feels. Practice breathing gently while holding the asana. Transition the mind from thinking to feeling. Keep bringing the mind back to the pose and breath each time without criticizing yourself. This practice will spill over into your life outside the yoga studio whether you are playing golf, working or chatting with a friend. You learn to give your full attention in the moment.

Practicing longer yoga stances increases strength and stability in the body which has terrific health benefits. It improves posture and core strength. Practicing easy breathing as the muscles are being challenged helps you in times of stress as well.

Staying in the pose has other ramifications. Think of challenging emotional times that you experienced when you wanted to "run" from your feelings or the situation. Longing for an escape from the scene. Wishing the awful feelings would disappear. Increasingly, the "go to" in these situations for many are excessive alcohol and prescription drugs and prolonged internet use or work.  Unfortunately, the statistics are on the rise for overdose in our country. It makes sense that we want to do anything to avoid feeling bad. However, when the chosen solutions are self destructive, it is a vicious downward spiral. It is the practice of staying in these uncomfortable moments that helps  us heal.  We learn to give a name to anger, grief, sorrow, envy and loneliness. It is during those moments when we come face to face with ourselves. We learn that emotions are like waves; they will flow in and go out again. Thich Knat Hanh writes: "Every breath is a new beginning." Every day the sun will rise.  Over time, as we sit with our true self, and with kindness, we learn to have compassion for our self. We learn to love our self as we are. We learn that the whole package is good. That the brown M & M's taste just as good as the red M & M's. 

With practice, we become more steadfast and our minds see more clearly during times of emotional stress. As any endeavor worthwhile, it takes practice. It is a lifelong journey. Take to your mat and/or meditation spot daily. Even  5 minutes. Don't strive for "success" , just practice. With consistent practice, change occurs. Notice the moments.

Namate,   Ag

 

Phone Addiction


                          Phone Addiction

The phone has become more than a communication device; it is the personal computer, the calendar, and the information hub in our lives. It is common to see people on the phone all the time, oblivious of their surroundings and others. Individuals are using their phones when driving a car, walking on the sidewalk, waiting in line at the grocery store,  and even during mealtimes. It appears to be the norm now to be on the phone rather than conversing with others. There is even a term for it now: phubbing. Phubbing refers to snubbing others in favor of the mobile phone. No one can argue that the mobile phone is an  excellent tool to connect us, to check the internet and to check our email. It directs us in traffic, it helps us locate a gas station and it alerts others that we need assistance. It helps business owners conduct transactions when not in the office.

But have we let it take over our lives?

More and more research demonstrates that long term use of the cell phone, and computer has harmful effects on youngsters and adults. It harms relationships, creates anxiety, increases resentment, increases depression and increases loneliness. It becomes an addiction.

The definition of addiction from the American Society of Addiction Medicine is: Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations.

Here’s how it works: We hear a “beep” notification from the phone alerting us that someone has emailed, texted, or posted something on facebook. We pick up the phone, check it out and may think, “Oh that’s neat.” We get little “brain rewards” when we are on the phone; checking email, searching the web and looking at facebook. This motivates us to keep checking the phone throughout the day. Our brain “remembers” these little biscuits and we want more. So, we keep checking the phone, social media and internet. Sometimes we spend so much time on the internet that we neglect our own self care needs.

Research also reveals that the  perception that we are connecting with friends via internet does not replace actual live human connections. The less human contact we have with each other isolates us and increases depression, anxiety and loneliness. The phone/internet addiction adds to the loss of real relationships. It also lowers self esteem, increases resentment and compounds the loss of original and creative thoughts.

A balance can be achieved with the use of the phone/internet and other areas of our lives. Very simple changes can be implemented. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Turn off notifications.

  2. Use an old fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone.

  3. Stop use of all electronics one hour before bedtime.

  4. Avoid bringing the phones to the table at meal times.

  5. Connect with nature.

  6. Arrange friends/family game night.

  7. Place the phone in your desk drawer at work or keep it in your briefcase/purse.

  8. Make eye contact with others when talking with them.

  9. Have lunch with an friend.

If you find yourself struggling to keep the phone on a table away from you  and scoff at the above suggestions, consider that you may have an excessive attachment to your phone (made of metal and plastic). The phone cannot console you, it cannot hug you and it cannot provide the essential aspects of human connection (eye contact, affection, empathy, friendship, compassion).  Interact with the people and life around you as opposed to letting the phone rule your life. Remember it is tool and just a tool.

Namaste, 

Agnes

www.agsyogaworks.com

Re-entry: Returning from Costa Rica

 

The first week returning from a Wellness Week in Costa Rica and immersed into the chaos of work, the transportation of kids to their activities and the cleaning up of twelve downed trees from the recent Nor’easter storm made it challenging to find time to practice meditation and mindfulness. In Costa Rica, we lived in a lush rainforest where each meal was prepared for us. We did not have the trappings of TV, internet or radio, and work or chores to distract us. We connected with nature each day and were in awe of the bird, plant and animal life. And, there was someone leading the meditation/mindfulness sessions so we showed up for class. The experience offered our minds and bodies a chance to rebalance and heal. One of our many challenges is to develop a balance in our daily lives which will enable us to become resilient and practice equanimity.

During the last couple of days on our trip, individuals offered suggestions to implement into our  daily life. These are simple changes that can make a world of difference.  Some ideas to try:

  1. Avoid starting the day with TV, radio, or computer news.

  2. Wake up early enough in the morning so that you don't rush into the day. Appreciate the sunrise and the birds singing.

  3. Avoid overscheduling activities.

  4. Watch TV less. Practice yoga instead of watching TV.

  5. Detach yourself from electronics and work activities one hour before bedtime.

  6. Incorporate minutes (1-5 minutes) throughout your day for short meditations. Perhaps, meditate while riding the subway, stopped at red light or waiting for someone.

  7. Add indoor plants into your home.

  8. Create a special place in your home where you practice meditation/mindfulness.

  9. Prepare and eat nutritious meals. Slow down your eating and enjoy each bite.

  10. Write five things that you are grateful for each day in  a journal.

  11. Avoid judgement of yourself and others. 

It takes approximately forty days for a new change in behavior to become a habit. Refrain from harsh self criticism if you miss  a day or two in meditation. The awareness that you didn't meditate is mindfulness in itself. Slow down and experience each moment as it unfolds.

Namaste,

Ag