May Mindfulness Marathon Starts Thursday

By Diane Sanford, PhD

Stacey and I like having monthly themes now and again, so we’re inviting you to join our May Mindfulness Marathon. We’ll be posting about our experiences with mindfulness, and would welcome your submissions for posts too. If you have any mindfulness resources you’d like to recommend-websites, YouTube videos, books, inspiring quotes and such, please pass them along as well. To help you get a mindful mindset going, here’s a poem from Hafiz from “The Subject Tonight Is Love” collection.

At This Party

I don’t want to be the only one here

Telling all the secrets-

Filling up all the bowls at this party,

Taking all the laughs.

I would like you

To start putting things on the table

That can also feed the soul

The way I do

That way

We can invite

A hell of a lot more

Friends.

Join our May Mindfulness Marathon and make time each day to stop, take a breath, and reconnect with the present moment. When you’re stopped at a stoplight, getting into bed at night, putting your make-up on in the morning, or anything you do daily, pause and reflect on the moment you’re in. Savor the sweetness of where you are not where you’re going. Feed you soul, and let’s have one hell of a party!

Namaste

Family That Lost All to Fire Reminds Me That Life is What You Make It

Life…you just never know what’s going to happen. I suppose that makes it exciting at times and stressful at others. I was just reading my last post. At that time, I had no idea how that seemingly innocuous thunderstorm would change my life.

Not too long after I finished writing, I heard fire engine sirens – a LOT of them. Not wanting to get in the way of emergency personnel, I called our local Sheriff’s Office to find out what was going on (yes, I’m nosey but I am also our Neighborhood Watch Chair, so it’s sort of my job to be). They confirmed a house fire, but couldn’t give me specifics. As my research went on, I finally found out that a home in my neighborhood had been struck by lightning.

The next morning, I went to the home to see if I could establish contact with the family, get details and perhaps begin a relief effort. I approached a man who was working in the garage, apparently sorting the salvageable from the unsalvageable. “Are you the homeowner?” I asked. “It depends who’s asking,” the man replied. I told him who I was and he seemed relieved. He told me that remodeling companies and legal firm reps had been stopping by to sell him services…less than 24 hours after his home had burned. I was incredulous for a few seconds, but then reality hit. Those people have to make a living too.

The homeowner explained that the lightning had struck the natural gas line (metal pipe) that led to the stove inside. This lit the gas and it basically exploded into his kitchen. I took a quick look inside and burst into tears. The kitchen was gone. The large television in the living room had melted. The water in their fish tank had boiled. The man said something soothing to me when he saw how upset I was and then reminded me that, “This is just stuff. The real valuables were not hurt (referring to his family).”

Indeed, his mother-in-law and youngest daughter had left the home to go to Mothers Day Out about 2 or 3 minutes before the explosion. His wife and older daughter were already at work and school, respectively. He heard about the fire from his next door neighbor, whose home security alarm was triggered by the excessive smoke coming from next door. “We are so blessed and will still have a happy Easter,” he assured me.

I left feeling a little dazed and in awe of this man’s attitude. I started sending out information to the community for relief, and generous folks from all over the area responded with clothing, toiletries, school supplies and gift cards. It was truly overwhelming. I spent much of Easter Sunday just resting and reflecting on what had happened. Perspective and attitude really does determine if one’s life is good or not!

It’s been a week since the fire, and the family’s needs have been met completely by their church, the insurance company and area residents. They will be in an apartment soon and can expect to have their home rebuilt in 6 – 8 months. Because of their faith, attitude of gratitude and perspective, this was just a bump in the wonderful road that is life.

Appreciate what you have. Don’t compare. It can change in an instant.

Namaste.

Join Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s Meditation Challenge

By Diane Sanford, PhD

Last week, I started the newest Oprah/Chopra meditation challenge with some of my Mindful Mom students and counseling clients. I like this one very much although one of my friends who’s new to meditation, couldn’t quite figure out what to do. So, I suggested she listen to my YouTube video on 5-minute breathing first and then go back to the challenge. If you’re new to meditation, you may find this helpful as well.

Click here for 5-minute breathing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWmHn_YMsp8

If you choose to participate in the challenge (and we hope you will), here are a few other reminders. First, meditation is about having a simple experience. It’s not about reaching nirvana or feeling “relaxed” 100% of the time. It’s learning to direct your attention so that you can create opportunities to let go of stress and step out of the thought stream. Whether it lasts a few seconds, moments or more, committing the time to taking a breath (or two) and being still is health enhancing. It also counts as self-care. Bonus!

Equally important, do not judge how well (or poorly) you’re doing. As with mindfulness, approach this meditation experience with self-compassion. Remind yourself that these practices do not come naturally to those of us in the western world, and that your participation is enough. This is not a test. Whatever happens, you are still wonderful and deserving of lovingkindness. Remember this, always.

Stacey and I will be participating too so if you have any questions or comments while the challenge is in progress, let us know. Please, click on this link to get started: https://chopracentermeditation.com.

Namaste

 

Just Let Me BE

PositiveThought

As I write, it is thundering, lightning and raining heavily outside my window. Days like this make me want to curl up in bed and just BE. Unfortunately, I have not taken much time lately to do that.

I was chatting with Diane on the phone yesterday and we were laughing at how we “Self-Care Gurus” need to practice what we preach! It seems as if she and I are usually on the same “wavelength” and can totally relate to the other. So when I described my dilemma of loving my work vs. Self-Care, she understood.

I realized that I am very blessed to love what I do; however, if I keep up at the pace I am currently running, I WILL burn out, no matter how much I enjoy what I am doing. The thought of NOT loving my work is unacceptable. Even though it takes a lot of discipline, I am getting better at setting alarms to remind me to take breaks, eat and take time to just BE.

In fact, I may take some time to do just that after this post. When is the last time that you just WERE? No technology or other distractions, no other people, no activities…just you and the present moment? Spend some time with yourself and your breath, mantra or thoughts and note the differences in your mind and body when you’re done. It IS like a little vacation!

Your Most Vital Commitment

logo_dailyomToday’s post comes from one of my favorite daily inspirational sites – DailyOMMadisyn Taylor is an exquisite writer who really gets to the heart of the matter. She’s recently published a collection of her inspirational posts! Make sure to check it out! Namaste – Stacey

Finding Time for You

Within each of there is a well of energy that must be regularly replenished. When we act as if this well is bottomless, scheduling a long list of activities that fit like puzzle pieces into every minute of every day, it becomes depleted and we feel exhausted, disconnected, and weak. Refilling this well is a matter of finding time to focus on, nurture, and care for ourselves, or “you time.” Most of us are, at different times throughout the day, a spouse, a friend, a relative, an employee, a parent, or a volunteer, which means that down time, however relaxing in nature, is not necessarily “you time.” Though some people will inevitably look upon “you time” as being selfish, it is actually the polar opposite of selfishness. We can only excel where our outer world affairs are concerned when our own spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs are fulfilled.

Recognizing the importance of “you time” is far easier than finding a place for it in an active, multifaceted lifestyle, however. Even if you find a spot for it in your agenda, you may be dismayed to discover that your thoughts continuously stray into worldly territory. To make the most of “you time,” give yourself enough time on either side of the block of time you plan to spend on yourself to ensure that you do not feel rushed. Consider how you would like to pass the time, forgetting for the moment your obligations and embracing the notion of renewal. You may discover that you are energized by creative pursuits, guided meditation, relaxing activities during which your mind can wander, or modes of expression such as writing.

Even if you have achieved a functioning work-life balance, you may still be neglecting the most important part of that equation: you. “You time” prepares you for the next round of daily life, whether you are poised to immerse yourself in a professional project or chores around the home. It also affords you a unique opportunity to learn about yourself, your needs, and your tolerances in a concrete way. As unimportant as “you time” can sometimes seem, it truly is crucial to your well-being because it ensures that you are never left without the energy to give of yourself.

madisyn-press2-200Best-selling author Madisyn Taylor is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the popular inspirational website DailyOM, and she is responsible for all its content. A recognized leader in self-help and New Thought spirituality, she has more than 15 years experience in personal development and alternative-healing methodologies. When not working, Madisyn can be found meditating in her garden and communing with nature.

Stress and Your Health

While most of us understand that chronic stress can be bad for our health, we may not realize how much it’s effecting us already. Warning signs of stress include: fatigue, trouble sleeping, headaches, irritable bowel, frequent infections, irregular heartbeat, worrying and feeling sad. Chronic stress may lead to or intensify health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and depression and anxiety.

During pregnancy, stress can contribute to premature labor, premature births and “too small babies born too soon” according the March of Dimes who is hosting their annual March for Babies nationwide next weekend. If you’re in Saint Louis, join Dr. Diane Sanford next Saturday, April 27 at the March to learn about how to reduce stress to prevent prematurity. For more on March for Babies Missouri and how to participate, click here.

The good news is it’s never too late to take action to reduce stress. The self-care tips you’ll find at livingselfcare.com, will help you make this change. You can also visit Dr. Sanford at the JCC’s Open House in Creve Coeur next Sunday, April 28 for health advice and stress relief recommendations..

May is Self-Care Month-We Need You!

Stacey and I are declaring May Self-Care Month, but we need your help choosing the self-care tips we’ll discuss. Last May, we offered our Top 10 Tips Plus Two. Here they are:

How to Live Self-Care

1.      Make your health and well-being a priority

2.      Nourish your body with food, sleep, activity and rest.

3.      Manage stress wisely.

4.      Be a positive thinker.

5.      Don’t make assumptions.

6.      Accept yourself and others wholly.

7.      Trust your inner guidance.

8.      Nourish relationships with family and friends.

9.      Respect yourself and others.

10.  Do what makes your heart sing.

11.  Practice compassion, kindness and forgiveness.

12.  Connect with spirit through gratitude, service, and intention.

This week, we’d like each of you to vote for the top tip you’d like us to write about by commenting on it at livingselfcare.com. Then, we’d like you to choose one tip to practice this month and send us a paragraph about what you’re doing to make it stick.  For participating, we’ll enter you into our self-care contest/challenge which will run from May 21-25 and features many wonderful prizes. Check out our contest section to see what we gave away last November.

Stacey and I will also be choosing our top tips, blogging about them and practicing with you. We have learned the hard way that caring for ourselves-body, mind, heart and soul, is better for us as well as our loved ones. When our emotional pitcher is dry, everyone loses.

Join us in declaring May Self-Care Month. While we can’t control everything, we can create a life filled with health, happiness and purpose if we align our actions and thoughts with living self-care body, mind, heart and soul.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Make it count!