Can You Appreciate All That Shows Up?

Welcome Spring and all that is new.

I’ve been reading and contemplating a beautiful passage about arrivals from Rumi this week (as interpreted by Coleman Barks).

It helped me see a challenging situation in new light…and a door opened.

Perhaps it will open a door for you, too.


“This being human is a guest

house. Every morning

a new arrival.


A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.


Welcome and attend them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of all its furniture, still,

treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

For some new delight.


The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.


Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.


Welcome difficulty.

Learn the alchemy True Human

Beings know:

the moment you accept what troubles

you’ve been given, the door opens.


Welcome difficulty as a familiar

comrade. Joke with torment

brought by the Friend.


Sorrows are the rags of old clothes

and jackets that serve to cover,

and then are taken off.

That undressing,

and the beautiful

naked body underneath,

is the sweetness

that comes

after grief.”


~ Rumi, as interpreted by Coleman Barks, in The Illuminated Rumi, ©1997 Coleman Barks & Mich


What doors open for you as you contemplate this passage? Let us know.


To Your Wellth,



“Open Your Heart, Change Your World”: A Meditation from Spring Forest QiGong

open-your-heart-stretch.jpgI was in the midst of writing the last post of my 2008’s Cornucopia of Resources Series today. I was stressing out to get the post up and give you the list of books I’ve found inspirational this year.

Somewhere along the way, I caught myself tensed up, hunched over the keyboard, with shallow breathing and a furrowed brow (familiar at all?). Noticing this, I stopped. I took a deep breath, pushed back from the computer and went to get a glass of water. A few more deep breaths and that glass of water later, and I vowed to re-enter my office with another mindset..or rather, another “heart-set.” I reminded myself to slow down and write from my heart.

When I returned to my desk, I took another minute out to check my email in-box. And there it was. An email from my friends at Spring Forest QiGong (SFQ), containing a special gift – a 15 minute meditation form SFQ founder, Chunyi Lin called, “Open Your Heart, Change Your World.”  I had just affirmed I’d go about my writing with and open heart, and so I took 15 minutes out right then and there to close my eyes and listen to the meditation.

Chunyi Lin’s meditation did indeed help me to Open my Heart and Change my World.

I’d like to pass the message and the meditation on to you.

Click this underlined phrase here to listen.

And be sure to read the note below that came from Chunyi Lin along with his gift.


Hello Friends:

Many of us are impacted by the troubles in our world as this year draws to a close and are looking for better ways to cope with the challenges in the coming year – be they economic, emotional, physical or spiritual.

At Spring Forest Qigong, we wondered what we could do to help. We decided to create a special healing meditation by Master Chunyi Lin as our gift to you and to others this holiday season. It’s our hope that this free 15 minute meditation might be useful to many.

This podcast is our gift to everyone. All you need do is download and listen. After listening we hope you will want to share it with everyone you know.

Imagine what would happen if 1,000, or 1 million, or 1 billion people practiced this simple, openhearted exercise every day. We would change our world!

In peace,

Your Spring Forest Friends

On my end, I’ll get back to working on the inspirational books post and have it for you soon. For now though, I hope you take time out to enjoy this meditation. There’s no better resource I know at this moment, to help you open your heart and change your world.

p.s. I am not an affiliate or in any way compensated by SFQ. I am simply an advocate of their wonderful work in the world.

Call me to set up a 30-minute wellness coaching session during the holidays. You’ll be sure to find the peaceful oasis within your own heart. 925-933-7445


RESOURCES FOR YOUR WELL-BEING – Part 2 of 3 of the Cornucopia Series

giving-resources.jpgIn this second post of the Cornucopia series, you’ll find the quotes, websites, blogs, a healthy recipe, and meditation tools that inspired me and enhanced my sense of Well-Being in 2008. How do I keep track of them all?

I keep a notebook set aside to list my favorites each month. Nothing fancy, nothing electronic. A composition book and a pen. Then at year end, I sit back with a cup of tea and my laptop and revisit all that I noted. It’s a fun way to wrap up the year. And as I said in the first post of this series, this year, I’m expanding my annual tradition and sharing my favorites with you…it’s better that way!

So, browse around and find just the right something to strengthen your own sense of abundance, appreciation, delight and Well-Being this season. Enjoy!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes — those that I’ve used as inspiration this year. I keep many quotes on stickie-notes in a fat file folder…things I tear from magazines or notes scribbled from something I read somewhere (even from my own book if I think I need a reminder:) I pull one quote out each week that I want to sit beside my computer. These four came out from the file more than a few times to encourage me this year:

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope
that if you just show up ad try to do the
right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and
watch and work: You don’t give up.
– Anne Lamott, writer

We must be the change
we wish to see in the world.
– Mahatma Gandi

We must be willing
to get rid of the
life we planned, so
as to have the life
that is waiting for us.
– Joseph Campbell, author

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.
– Alan Alda, actor


WEBSITES and BLOG POSTS (including a healthy recipe:)
Like you, I read a ton of blog posts and browse a gazillion websites each week.  Keeping track of my favorites isn’t easy. But I enjoy doing so. And with that, I’m happy to name the posts and sites below as some of the big contributors to my well-being this year:

1. Blog:
Favorite Post this year: Living Simply: The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Your Clutter
I enjoy the simplicity of Leo Babauta’s writing. And there are many of his blog posts I have flagged as favorites this year. But this one from November, contains a tip that’s recently made a world of difference to me.

My floor-to-ceiling bookshelves were overflowing. When it came to books, Leo’s article helped me explore the habit that I needed to adopt: the “One in, Two Out” rule. It’s a long blog post, but this one tiny tip is worth more than it’s weight in gold to me!

 2. Blog:  Ramblings From a Glass Half Full
Favorite post this year: The Real Secret of Life, August 3, 2008
Terry’s blog just flat out makes me smile. What better key to Well-Being? I especially loved this post in August, reminding us to “Never grow up”, along with the 7 keys to happy and successful adulthood. You’ve got to read this post, from Terry’s Category “Half-Fullism.” (P.S. Although the glass is already half full in this post, I’d add Toy Stores to item # 1 in the post! Enjoy:)

3. Blog: Levite Chronicles by Jon Swanson at:
Favorite post this year: February, 2008 “Good Intentions

One of my morning office rituals is to read three posts from 15 of my favorite blogs. I rotate and alternate the 15 and vary which three blogs I read each weekday. When I get to Jon Swanson’s Levite Chronicles blog, I can always count on a post that will touch my soul and give me something delicious to think about for the day.

Back in February, Jon wrote a post called, “Good Intentions”, about shooting free throws at the basketball court. I’ve marked many of Jon’s posts as my favorites, but this one still sticks with me. It’s about daily practice. It’s about the daily practice of your relationship with your soul, God, your heart, love, and life. I commented on this post, but my mere words can’t really capture the way it touched me. Whenever my daily practice is a struggle (often:), I think of Jon shooting free throws…and keep on keepin’ on.

4. Blog: Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers) by Liz Strauss at
Favorite post this year: April, 2008How to Have Positivity and Confidence Making Tough Decisions
In mid-April, Steve and I were looking at a real estate investment and stuck in the decision-making process. That week, I read Liz’s post about making tough decisions and the ah-ha light went on…looking at what your Head and Heart have to say about a tough decision can be enlightening. This post and some quiet contemplation helped us move forward. You’ll probably want to bookmark it…I did.

5. Website: ‘s Healthy Recipes
Favorite Recipe: Chicken and Asparagus Tossed with Penne and Goat Cheese
I found this recipe in 2007, but it remains my favorite in 2008. I substitute Purcell Mountain Farms‘ organic brown rice penne pasta for the wheat pasta, fresh tomatoes for the canned (especially if it’s heirloom time), use free-ranmge organic chicken, and if it’s not asparagus season, I use broccoli. Good, hearty, healthy comfort food:)

6. Website: filled with juicy gems, this inspirational membership site was founded by Gail Lynne Goodwin
Gail’s Blog: InspireMeToday at http://www.InspireMeToday/Gail
Favorite post this year: November’s “Born to Fly
Gail’s November post, “Born to Fly,” came juist at the right time. I’d been considering a new internet business venture for three months, and was a bit fearful about taking it on. Gail’s words, ”…when the passion is louder than the fear…” were all I needed to step forward. Enjoy the entire post here:

1. Holosynch®
by Bill Harris’ company, Centerpointe (click sidebar for link to free CD)
Why I love it:
I’ve been meditating and sitting zazen for 15 years. I’ve been a student of Maharaji for three. I love my daily practice. And when I heard Bill Harris say that Holosynch can “help you meditate like a monk at the touch of a button” I was intrigued. Couild I go deeper with my meditation? Could I sharpen my brain’s ability to focus? I did some research, tested out his free CD, and fell in love with the Holosynch® system and technology. More important though is that it’s helped me deepen my existent practice. The fact that I get to weave in my own powerful affirmations with the patented subliminal technology is icing on the cake. (As you can see on my sidebar here, I’m such a proponent of Centerpointe’s Holosynch® program I decided to become an affiliate. I don’t do so unless I use and love a program or product myself.) Try the free CD and let know what you think.

2. Meditations for Optimum Health CD by Dr. Andrew Weil
Why I love it:
When I want a brief pick-me-up meditation during the day, I turn off the phones and computer, close the blinds, put my feet up, sit back with my ipod and play a selection from this CD. The beautiful music in the background and Andrew Weil’s soothing voice reminding me to focus on my breath is all it takes for me to recharge and renew.

—   That’s it for this installment. Next and final post of this series will have more resources that inspired me this year! Stay tuned. And let me know:

What’s inspired you this year?

The Heart of the Matter: YOUR Well-Being First

human-body-drawing.jpgDuring the emergency safety procedure rap on airplanes, we hear flight attendants tell parents: “…put on your oxygen mask first, then place masks on your children.” Sure, you can use this statement to remember that you can serve others better when you take care of yourself first…but you don’t have to frequent the skies more often to get a daily dose of the same message. You’ve got a “built in” reminder much closer to home.

Did you know that your heart already gets the idea? Yup. Your heart is a more intelligent pump than you may realize. When your nice bright-red oxygenated blood returns to your heart from your lungs, your heart bathes ITSELF first with that newly oxygenated blood, before pumping it out again to the rest of your body. This is no small matter. Your heart takes care of its own well-being first. It “knows” how important it is to do so.

I invite you to use this information as a metaphor this week. Stop often during the day and place your hand on your heart. Breathe deeply. Imagine the newly oxygenated blood nourishing your heart first and then the rest of your body. Take a moment to think about the metaphor and take care of yourself. Whether it’s stopping for a glass of water, getting some fresh air, or stretching your limbs, YOUR well-being must come first. It’s written in your heart.

Wellness Product Reviews – Part 1 of 2: Wellness Solutions for Back Pain

woman-exercising-outdoors.jpgHere’s to wellness…in body, mind and spirit! In this 2-post series, I’ve reviewed two new Wellness Tools for you. I’ve tested, tried, read, watched and reviewed both products thoroughly. I’ll be giving you my professional and personal experience and provide an overall rating for each product.

As I’ve done before in this blog, I’ll be using the following key:

Rating key
☺ ☺ ☺ = Great product. I’m using it, love it and I highly recommend it for those who seek a wellness solution to the issue the product addresses.
☺ ☺ = Good product. I’m using it, or parts of it, for now, and/or if it addresses a wellness need you have, definitely consider giving it a try.
☺ = It has merit, but I’m not personally using it. Use with caution.
☹ = Don’t bother.

Overview of the Products Reviewed:

The two products (both DVDs) you’ll learn about in this 2-post series come from the Gaiam on-line catalog, a source I use and trust for selecting helpful wellness tools. Gaiam has teamed up with the Mayo Clinic to produce a new series of DVDs: Wellness Solutions from Gaiam and Mayo Clinic. Let me give you a brief snapshot of the Wellness Solutions series overall.

At the time of this review, the series contains 10 products. Each one focuses on a different chronic condition, from Arthritis to Fibromyalgia. They all feature integrated health action plans designed to help you manage health challenges and take charge of your health.

Each DVD in the series begins with 30-minutes of conversational presentations by several Mayo Clinic Specialists. Next, a Mayo Clinic dietitian teaches what to eat and what to avoid with respect to the specific condition that the DVD addresses. Finally, a yoga expert guides you through a 40-minute yoga segment, containing condition-specific relaxation poses and meditation exercises.

I’ve selected the following DVD for the first review:

mayo-back.jpeg1. Mayo Clinic’s Wellness Solutions for Back Pain

Product Description:
“Mayo Clinic, one of the top medical centers in the country, and GAIAM, the health and wellness experts, team up to bring you this groundbreaking, integrated health action plan designed specifically to relieve back pain.”
– from the product’s back cover

DVD (93 mins) and BONUS: 52-page My Stress Solution booklet.

Price: $20.00 U.S.

WellnessCoach Assessment

This DVD is a wonderful tool to help you cultivate better health and supplement your current back care program. The information, dietary tips, and back-health specific yoga stretches are expertly presented. And the bonus booklet, My Stress Solution, makes this a truly integrated program. (As with any program, be sure to consult with your doctor to be sure this is right for you.)

Strengths of the product/content:
1. The integrated approach is comprehensive (expert information, tips for healthy diet, gentle yoga and meditation)
2. The My Stress Solution booklet contains a thorough stress management action plan including stress assessments, and relaxation tips. It’s easy to understand and use, and contains a 1-page summary of the key tips presented on the DVD.
3. Dr. Bret Bauer presents a warm, personable, and expertly informative overview of the Mayo Clinic’s integrative treatment approach.
4. The detailed physiological information about back care and back pain are thorough and yet easy to understand.
5. The Grocery shopping tips for selecting nutritious foods convey the importance of making healthy choices.
6. The dietitian gives helpful tips for portion control and an overview of a plant-based diet.
7. Rodney Yee is a nationally known yoga instructor and having his participation here further adds to the value of this program. The poses are great for beginners and more importantly are specific to back care and stress relief.
8. The DVD is presented in eco-friendly packaging.

Weaknesses of the product/content:
1. While the dietitian presents absolutely impeccable and expert advice, she appears to be quite young and this may be an obstacle for some in accepting her credibility.
2. The eco-friendly packaging can potentially scratch the DVDs. Be careful when removing the DVD or placing it into the package.

My Personal Experience:
As someone whose back has been through many challenges, I’ve been a big proponent of healthy back strategies for many years. I was excited to try this program.

I watched the 3-part DVD in two stages.
First I watched Parts 1 and 2 for information. I got a solid overview of the integrative approach and Mayo Clinic experts discussed back care physiology, options, dietary strategies and food selection tips.

As a nutrition educator, the dietary information wasn’t new to me, but I enjoyed the presentation and found it to be affirming of what advice I follow myself. While I do eat a blood-type diet for a Type O, (I consume grass fed beef and organic free-range poultry), overall, my diet is predominantly plant-based as the DVD suggests it should be.

I liked that alternative approaches to back care, such as acupuncture, were also included in the strategies presented, as it fits with my belief in integrated programs. Parts 1 and 2 left me feeling very informed and ready for part 3.

I watched part 3, the yoga and meditation segment, later in the day.
I changed into my sweats and carved out 40 minutes for a yoga and meditation session, and followed along as I watched Part 3 (Soothing Therapies).

The meditations were peaceful. For the yoga component, I had my yoga mat in place, but I had to stop a few times throughout and go grab a few props from around the house. These included 2 blankets, a yoga strap and a yoga block to sit on. A better strategy would have been to watch the whole routine first and then I’d have known what I needed. The poses were gentle and felt great on my back. Some of them were new to me and I liked that.

I spent some time the following day, using the Bonus My Stress Solution action guide booklet. The assessments are good tools for evaluating stress levels and coping styles, and I got some good feedback. I liked the last page summary of key tips on the DVD.

I plan on keeping the yoga stretches in my daily stretching regime and keeping the booklet for future reference. Since my diet is already aligned with the suggestions, and I already use the modality of acupuncture, I figure I will stay the course. I also know what my brother, who sports a chronically challenged back himself, is getting for his birthday:)

Overall Product Rating: ☺ ☺+

Tune in on Thursday this week for a review of another DVD I’m testing out in this series, Wellness Solutions for Menopause.

Your Wellness Manifesto – Don’t Wait for the New Year!

megaphone.jpgI’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. That doesn’t mean I’m not a goal-setter, it’s just that I’d rather develop new habits (personal and professional) one day at a time, keep assessing progress throughout the year, and make course corrections as I go. I encourage my clients to do the same.

Wellness Manifesto
One of the tools I use to assess my overall wellness is a “living” document that I call a “Wellness Manifesto” – my clients have caught on and love the idea, so it’s the heart of this post today. A Wellness Manifesto is a written declaration of activities (and non-activities) that support wellbeing as you define it, declared in the present tense. I say that the document is “living” because you continue to refine it and revisit it on an on-going basis, not just at the New Year.

What Does the Manifesto Contain?

The Manifesto’s key components are: The Current Date, The Next Review Date, Your Wellness Intention, Keywords (words used frequently in the intention and/or those that you used that hold lots of juice for you) and 3 Habits to Strengthen.

I suggest revisiting your Wellness Manifesto quarterly and reading it aloud to at least one other person. Since I did so in September, my own Wellness Manifesto is already in good shape for the holidays.

Focuses Your Intention
When I glance at the Wellness Manifesto document each day, I’m reminded of my Wellness intentions. For example, I’m reminded that, in keeping with my Manifesto, I want to look back a week after Thanksgiving land say, “How wonderful it was to eat well, enjoy the gathering of friends and family, and get some exercise that day.” I’m just more likely to act accordingly if I write the Manifesto “as if” things I intend to do have already taken place. It doesn’t guarantee anything…it just helps me put my attention on what I want regarding my wellness.

Example of a Wellness Manifesto
Look through the following example of a simple Wellness Manifesto that I revised in September. Notice it is written in present tense as if these things are already firmly in place as I write it. Notice the keywords are really the top values I’m declaring to be of importance right now. Looking at this list each day (as well as having announced and read the Manifesto to my coach In September) supports the 3 habits I want to strengthen during this time.

Date: September 1, 2007

Next Review Date (three months): December 1, 2007

Wellness Manifesto of: Erica Ross-Kriegeer

I experience wellness in body, mind and spirit. I rise early in the morning so I can enjoy the quiet hours before the active day begins. I use the time to meditate, stretch, write a few words of gratitude in my journal and identify my priorities for my business. In this way, I am more focused and prepared for the full day ahead. I focus on relaxation during the holidays, build restful “time-outs” into my workday, spend time outdoors daily and also clear time to spend with family and friends. I take time to truly savor the healthy food I put into my body and know that when I do so I’m caring for the vehicle that let’s me do the work I love to do in the world.

Body, Mind, Spirit
Healthy Food
Enjoy Friends & Family

3 Habits to Strengthen:
Rising at 6am
Daily time outdoors
Business Priorities set each day

A Gentle Yet Powerful Reminder
I don’t suggest using the Wellness Manifesto to give yourself a hard time – I figure Life can be hard enough as it is some days. Just use it to keep your eye on what’s important.

For instance, let’s say you’re currently working on developing the habit of getting up a half-hour earlier than you used to (like I am). You can keep your manifesto by your nightstand and your alarm clock. On the manifesto will be a few keywords that you want to emphasize in your life right now – words that could include: quiet time, priorities, and focus. You might glance at the document before bed, taking a minute to imagine those qualities as already present in your life.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, and you’re tempted to hit the snooze button one more time (or turn it off and go back to sleep) just glance at the manifesto again. Ask yourself if those qualities of  quiet time, priorities, and focus are important?

If so, glancing at that list might just be all you need to get going and further solidify your habit of getting up earlier. If not, and you choose not to get up, don’t beat yourself up about it later on. Just re-group and course-correct. Maybe 15 minutes earlier is a better target for a while. Maybe getting to bed earlier is where you really need to focus. Just revisit the manifesto, revise it, declare it to someone again, and gently get back in the saddle.

Your Turn
I invite you to use the example above as a guide to create your own Wellness Manifesto and put it into place before the winter holidays this year.

It could just be one of the best gifts you give yourself.

What will your Wellness Manifesto say? Send a comment and let us know.

Oh…and do you see how you could do a Wellness Manifesto for your business? (Another topic for another post:)

Living in the Richness of the Moment–Part 3: Slow Down to the Speed of Life

smell-of-apple.jpgLiving in the richness of the moment means we are living life and not just thinking about it. Living in the richness of the moment means taking in every luscious drop of life that’s right here, just because we’ve been gifted with breath and just because we can. Living in the richness of the moment is also called mindfulness and I’m certainly not the first one to write about it. But mindfulness is a passion of mine, a major component of wellness in my view, and a life-long practice. And so it’s the topic of this 7-post series.

In the first post, I explored the topic of Coming to Your Senses as a tool to use for living in the richness of the moment. Doing so plays a vital role in the degree to which we experience personal and professional wellness. Next, I challenged you to consider What’s Important and to do so daily.

Today, I’m inviting you to Slow Down to the Speed of Life. Just in time for the weekend.

Popular Hypnotic Suggestions
In the span of one single day, I recently heard the following three statements:

  • “Life is so hectic these days…”
  • “It’s amazing how the pace of Life has gotten so crazy…”
  • ”The speed of Life is ten times what it used to be…”

I won’t tell you which of those delightful phrases came out of my own mouth, but I will say this: each of the three phrases is untrue. As my mentor, (and author of Taming Your Gremlin), Rick Carson would say, these statements are subtle “hypnotic suggestions” that most of us have adopted.

The Real Pace of Life
When we stop to think about it, we can see that the pace of Life has not changed one bit. It still takes 365 days (most years) to go around the sun. It still takes however long it takes for a caterpillar to create a cocoon and turn into a butterfly. And (when you aren’t stressed) your breath still comes in and goes out at the same pace it did several years ago. The building blocks of Life have not changed.

So, what has changed?
The things I’ve been discussing in this series: our activity levels, the amount of information now available to us, and the demands we’ve put on ourselves – in other words, the conditions of our lives — are all that’s changed. But Life itself has not. I think this is an important distinction to remember. And when we are mindful of those hypnotic words we use, it can help us remember the distinction.

Evidence is all around us

Last year I wrote an article in my ezine with a similar title to the one I’m using on this post. And when I told a colleague that the article was called, Slow Down to the Speed of Life, she looked at me with a frown.

“But the speed of Life isn’t slow,” she said.

I asked her to put her hand on her 3-year-old child’s chest the next time he was napping—to watch the rhythm of his breath. “To me,” I said, “that rhythm is Life. And that has not changed—despite cell phones, high-speed-internet connections and the five after-school activities your middle-school-age daughter attends.”

She nodded and sighed. “Hmm. Never thought of it that way.”

We continued to talk and our exchange helped me flesh out the article. It also helped remind me do to so with a gentler pace. It’s still reminding me to do the same as I craft this post.

So be on the lookout. The next time you hear yourself remark about the pace of Life, remember you’re hypnotizing yourself and you’re more than likely commenting about the circumstances of your Life.

Then stop and observe your breath for a while. And also observe a squirrel, a tree, flowers or the ocean…and you will see the real pace of Life.

Observing the differences between real Life, the circumstances of your Life and/or your concepts about Life, will help you remember that you have choice over the activity-level and busy-ness with which you fill your days. More importantly, you have choice about where you place your attention.

So go ahead. Just for today, practice what I call the Go Slow Attitude…and Slow Down to the Speed of Life.

Try this: Savor the Flavor Experiment

Here’s a dining experiment that accentuates the Go Slow Attitude. Because it requires silence, try it the next time you are eating at home alone or where you will be uninterrupted by a waiter, waitress, or dinner companion. Hopefully you’ll find the right moment this weekend.

Upon sitting down to your meal:

Take a moment to observe the food on the plate before you. With gentle curiosity, just notice the colors, textures and aromas. Give silent thanks for the food in a manner that suits you. (You will remain in silence throughout the meal.)

• Pick up your utensil and gather your first bite.
• Place that bite in your mouth and
set your fork or spoon down and then begin to chew.
• Chew slowly. Savor every taste of that one bite. Notice all aspects of the food—flavor, texture, temperature, aroma.
After you have swallowed that first bite, pick up your fork or spoon and gather the next bite.
• Continue the practice of mindful eating (putting down your utensil between each bite) until you are full and have finished eating your meal.
• Enjoy!

I once attended a residential retreat where we engaged in this mindfulness practice for five days, three meals a day. After putting aside my resistance (which took two days) I began to look forward to each meal. I found I enjoyed my food in a way I hadn’t before, did not eat beyond fullness, and was more present to the moment before me throughout the day. Every now and again, I do the exercise simply to remind myself about the real pace of Life. I’ll be joining you this weekend.

Let me know how the experiment works for you.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment
1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses
2. Living in the Richness of the Moment: What’s Important?

Living in the Richness of the Moment—Part 2: What’s Important? or Did Lucy Ricardo Stop to Ask?

contemplating.jpgIn the first post of this series I discussed how Coming to Your Senses is an important step in helping you spend more time in the heart-centered present. Doing so will increase the level of wellness you experience in your life and in your entrepreneurial business.

Another factor that plays a vital role in wellness levels is our ability to sort through and process the mountain of information we encounter each day while remaining sane. Listening to or reading about the million ways there are to run our businesses, write our blogs, take care of our bodies, (and even to improve our wellness levels), can be overwhelming.

While there is no magic word, like abracadabra, or quick-fix, to make all the conflicting information and opinions disappear, there is something that you already possess that will help tremendously…although it may be worn out or have been a while since you’ve used it. It’s your unique blueprint of what’s important.

Learning to focus on what’s important is what this post is all about. It’s the real secret to balancing entrepreneurial success with wellness.

What’s Important
Remember the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy worked in the candy factory wrapping chocolates? Remember how the conveyor belt shot so many chocolate candies out that Lucy couldn’t keep up and so she popped handfuls of them into her mouth? Can’t you just see the scene in your mind’s eye?

Well, I remind you of this image not just for a trip down memory lane but to draw a comparison to our entrepreneurial lives. With To Do lists a mile long, email messages and in-boxes filled to overflowing, we too struggle to keep up. And as we do we can lose sight of what is important. I know I’m not the only one who’s headed to the web, followed a link or two (or three) and wound up mega-minutes later somewhere I had no idea I would be, completely losing track of time and what it was I was looking for in the first place.

We all agree that it has become more critical than ever for us to be clear and focused on what is important, but how do we do that?

Well, it boils down to this: the trick is to take time each morning to set our intention for the day – to set our intention around the values we want to embody and to make it our intention to take, as one of my coaching mentors, Mike Jay, calls it, “right action” in our lives that day. This is substantially different from setting up our To Do or Action lists (even those we carefully pull together with elegant GTD techniques for those of you like me who use them.) I have a way for you to set your intention, but first a bit more about “right action.”

“Right Action”
In short, “right action” to me means operating from the inside out – putting the souls of ourselves into what we do. Setting our intention to take “right action” for the day asks us to expand our perspective about how we spend our time and what we do each day. It’s up to each of us to name our top values and determine what it is that, for each of us, constitutes “right action.”

bookends1.jpgDaily Practice
I think it’s important to start and end each day with a daily practice that helps us focus on “right action”. We can take a brief moment of time in the morning to name what’s most important for the day—not just the Doing, but more importantly, the Being that we want to embrace. Then before retiring for the night, we can check in and ask ourselves if we were able to focus on what’s important or not and what we learned. I call this practice, “Bookends.”
It takes 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed, and it could well be some of the most important minutes you spend in a day. It is for me.

Try this: Bookends™ Exercise

10 Minutes Upon Awakening:
•Take a moment to sit up, stretch and greet the day. Now think about the attitude or state of Being that you intend to bring forward into your day today. Examples: Gratitude, Confidence, Self-Compassion.
•Write down that state of Being you want to focus on today.
•Now think about the area of your life and/or business that is of most importance to you right now. Of all the To Do’s that are before you today, which action is going to further your progress in that area or deepen your learning? Example: writing a business plan
•Write that action on your notepad.
•Take another moment to contemplate how you will integrate the Being and Doing focus that you have listed. Imagine that you are placing that value or state of Being right into your heart or soul and will carry it with you as you take the important action(s) you need to take today.
• Example of how this could look: Writing a business plan while Being in a state of Self-Compassion could mean I pour myself a cup of tea and sip it while I write the plan, extend self-compassion by not insisting the plan be perfect, turn off the ringer on the phone so I am not disturbed.

Reminder: It’s more important to remember you can always return to that state of Being throughout the day, than it is that you give yourself a new mandate to try and stay in that state. Being mindful that you have let your focus slip from, say Self-Compassion, you can apply the 4-step process I talk about in my book: Stop, Breathe, Notice, and Choose™ and gently bring yourself back to your desired state of Being as you Do the next important task in your day.

10 Minutes Before Bed:
•Write a few sentences about the exercise for the day, or simply review this list of 7 inquiries: Where was I able to stay in the state of Being that I selected this morning and/or return to that state when I veered off the path? What evidence shows me that I lived by my top values today? What did I do that helped me take “right action” today? What got in the way? How can I change that in the future? What will I have to say “Yes” to and what will I have to say “No” to, so that I can keep on track? What else did I learn?

•Extend gratitude to yourself for your commitment to What’s Important.

And try this: A Bigger Time Out to Regroup
Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve taken time to clarify your values. Maybe it’s been awhile since you put together or revised your life plan, business plan, or investment strategy and tied these to your values. Maybe you want to reassess your values before doing the Bookends exercise.

Today, why not schedule an appointment with yourself very soon to at least begin? The appointment doesn’t have to be formal. It could even be an hour at a coffee shop or a few hours in the garden, where you spend time mulling over and identifying what’s important. Or it could be time with a notebook, a friend, a coach, or a colleague to sort through your values. Just be sure to make the time to stop the chocolate conveyor-belt of life for a bit and regroup.

Creating lives that reflect our values and top priorities takes “discipline.” I’ve found that word makes some people shutter. But it’s fascinating to know that the root of the word “discipline” is “disciple.” That could be a loaded word for some of you. But I’ll take the risk and use it. Encouraging you to be a disciple of your own soul seems worth any feathers I might ruffle.

So I ask each of us to ask ourselves regularly: Am I willing to become a “disciple” of what is important to me? Sure, I can name what’s important, but am I acting on it? And, if not now, then when?

Practicing the Bookends exercise and asking myself these questions keeps me focused on what’s important and boosts my wellness levels. Give it a try. Let me know what you think.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment

1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses

Living in the Richness of the Moment–Part 1: Come to Your Senses

rich-moment.jpgMy readers don’t realize it, but I had a self-centered motive when I wrote Seven Sacred Attitudes®. I really wrote it to remind myself that living in the richness of the moment is a life-long practice, not a one-time event. Now, those of you in this blog community, who are all busy entrepreneurs, passionate about life and want to drink in every luscious moment, have asked me to write more about this practice. So here goes.

This is the first post in a seven-part series. The series is designed to help you start living in the richness of the moment. Right now. With this breath. The focus is on learning how to spend more time on the heart-centered present, even in the midst of your busy entrepreneurial life. And the first step is to:

Come to Your Senses
Your body is talking. Are you listening? Not to your mind and all you think about your body and what you should do for it, but to your body itself? Your body has much to say. Every moment. Right now, as you read this, can you come to your senses and access your inner wisdom? What is your body saying at this moment?

Accessing the inner wisdom of your body takes practice. “Practice?” you say. “Another ‘To Do’? I don’t have time for everything on my plate as it is right now.” Well, the practice of listening to the inner wisdom of your body doesn’t require that you do anything else—no new activity to schedule in your day— but it does require that you shift your attention.

Try this: Choose one activity that you’ll be doing anyway in the next 24 hours—preferably an activity you do outdoors. Decide to place your full attention on your body during this activity. Even if you use outdoor activities or exercise time for creative thinking and problem-solving, do something different today.

Place your attention on your body’s experience of the activity. Start small. Start with 10 minutes where you will pay attention. Not to your mind where the stories live—“Oh, I wish I could get this power-walk or run over with.”—but pay attention and stay present to your body. Take your mind off of the mental “To-Do-list” chatter and come to your senses!

Your body lives in this moment. It breathes now. Notice it in action. Discover what it has to tell you about this activity on this day for these 10 minutes.

Print this list out and use it to guide you:

•Notice your breath.
•Notice the air against your neck.
•If you’re swimming, notice the water against your muscles. Notice the sensation of the water against your face.
•Focus on the muscles in your legs as you walk, jog, bike-ride or swim or even if you use a walker or wheelchair.
•Switch focus and pay attention to your arm muscles.
•If you’re at the computer, notice your shoulders, neck and brow.
•Whether indoors or out, notice the sensation of your clothing against your skin.
•Notice the rhythm of your breath.
•Pay attention to the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your nose.
•Pay attention to the sound of your breath as you jog, sit, or exhale into the water of the pool.
•Keep your focus on your body and your senses.
•Notice what your body is telling you.
•What do you learn from coming to your senses?

And try this: If you usually walk, swim or run for a certain distance or a certain time period, put away the timer, pedometer or lap-counting routine for today. Use your body as the barometer for a change. Without a watch or measuring distance, let your body tell you when it is done or tired.

If you usually sit at the computer until you have gone through all the email, written every response and use ‘being done with the task’ to dictate when you are finished, go ahead and set a timer for 10 minutes today. Stop when the alarm goes off and check in again with your breath, shoulders, head and neck. Is your body done? Is your body saying something? Is there something you have been pretending not to know?

We have been given the power to direct our attention wherever we want. Today, place it on your body.
See how it goes.
Just for today.

Let me know what you notice.

And let me know what you think, if you disagree with my thinking, or if there is anything about living in the richness of the moment you would like me to cover in this series.

Wellness Coach Tips for Energy & Stresss Management

woman-outstrtchd-arms.jpgEntrepreneurs know a thing or two about stress. In fact, most of us accept the fact that managing stress and our energy is a regular part of living. We manage a gazillion facets of our own businesses, juggle schedules, and do our best to keep our stress levels down and our energy levels up. Without realizing it, you have probably put together your own tool kit to help manage your energy levels throughout the day. Browse through this list and see if there are a few more tools for you to add to your kit:

– Learn to calm your mind and body through meditation.
– Eat your meals in a relaxed environment.
– Take frequent breaks for stretching and walking throughout the day.
Eliminate refined carbohydrates from your diet.
– Eliminate or restrict your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
– Eat smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day.
– Support your adrenal glands with vitamin C, Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium – do so with the addition of broccoli, whole grains, salmon, sweet potatoes and legumes to your diet, or see a nutritionist for the supplement levels that will serve you best.
– Consider adding a high quality ginseng supplement to your regime, either Chinese or Siberian, to support your adrenal function and help your body’s resistance to stress. One valid approach is to take ginseng in a cycle of 2-3 weeks on and 2 weeks off, to give the adrenal glands a rest from the ginseng. Educational literature tells us to be alert for signs of possible ginseng toxicity, including nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia. Each person responds to ginseng in a unique way so starting with a low dose is the rule of thumb listed in most supplement manuals. As always, consult a health practitioner for the appropriate levels for you.
– Decrease stress and increase energy by learning to breathe with the diaphragm. Take breaks throughout the day and do so purposefully. Sit comfortably, both feet flat on the ground, eyes gently closed. Inhaling though the nose and exhaling through the mouth, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Pay attention to the breath and focus on the hand on your belly. Inhale for a count of 4 or 5, filling the belly and expanding it so your hand rises about an inch. Pause for a count of 1 or 2. Exhale to a count of 4 or 5. Keep focused on the breath and repeat the process. Do so until you have reached a level of both relaxation and refreshment. Aim for 5-20 minutes a few times a day.
– Go for a brisk walk – with or without your ipod or mp3 player.
– Organize your office and life with the zen-like wisdom and help of David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.

For more tips, you can also check out the article, “Your Guide to Never Feeling Tired Again” posted today on the WebMD site. Author Nancy Rones gives you 22 more ideas for enhancing your energy.

Post a comment and let us know what you do throughout your entrepreneurial day to stay energized and stress-free.