Look inside and wonder: who am I?
Don’t try to answer, you won’t be able to. You’re the openness you feel.
–a mindfulness reminder from chill-app.com
Is there someone near you that could use some kindness?
It’s okay if that someone is you.
–a mindfulness reminder from chill-app.com
Are your jaw muscles holding tension? Breathe into them and relax.
Let that tension slide out of them, and down into the earth.
–a mindfulness reminder from chill-app.com
Think of something you feel gratitude for. Let that gratitude warm you.
For a few breaths, simply sit with that warmth.
–a mindfulness reminder from chill-app.com
Clearing out, making space for new things simplifying, reorganizing. An old “friend” appeared in the back of a cabinet.. the 8 Cassette Tape series (you read that right) of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People a workshop series with Stephen Covey teaching live. It was quite a gift to have that available, a daily lesson with Stephen Covey.
I listened everyday for a year on my Sony Walkman with am/fm radio and cassette player on the way to the city- in and out on the Long Island Rail Road 38 mins each way. So valuable. The Sony Walkman was a gift from Mark. It was a Sports Walkman, yellow and nearly indestructible which was needed for a commute to work up and down the stairs and all. The program was a life-changing experience and I got a “life mission” by listening to Dr. Covey. I wanted “The ability to subordinate an impulse to a higher value.”
Each habit is so simple yet not always easy and quite profound. If you have never listened to Dr. Covey deliver the 7 Habits then you are in for a treat. Try this one at home.
Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.
Enjoy your weekend.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Oasis.”
Finding the Calm.
“Meditate Schmeditate”, my mother-in- law, Dora once said to her son, my husband, Mark as he headed off one summer day in Long Beach to find a quiet bench on the boardwalk to attend to his twice daily meditation practice. From that day on, every time Mark would go sit down to meditate he would say to me, “I am going to go “meditate-schmeditate” and we would both laugh about it.
Twenty minutes a day, twice a day for over thirty years. Rarely did Mark miss taking time out to do his Transcendental Meditation practice. When he was an educator in the New York City Public Schools, he rose 45 minutes early to meditate then showered, shaved, dressed, made his coffee and peanut butter sandwich (for the energy he needed in his high-stress –very- hectic- job as school principal) and then pack himself an apple, a few clementine oranges and some almonds. He would then get into his silver Volvo 240 to drive to East New York, Brooklyn.
In my eyes (and the eyes of many others I bet) Mark was a true enlightened warrior.
Mark took his training for Transcendental Meditation in Manhattan in the early 1970’s. Once, when I asked him what meditation was for him, he said something like this, “It helps me to focus. Meditation rests my mind. It helps me to relieves stress. TM helps me to get things done.” I often noticed he seemed happy and more relaxed when he completed his daily meditations. I admire how he stuck with it day in and day out.
When I asked him if meditating meant he turned off his thoughts he said, “No, the opposite, what it does is that I just notice my thoughts and let them go while focusing on a mantra. “ A mantra is a syllable or sound to keep your mind from wandering over to list-making and looking ahead to the busy-ness of the day ahead
Meditation, a practice thousands of years old available to each of us in endless permutations and possibilities, has become a bit of a buzzword.And I say, “none to soon”. Mark was onto something 40+ years ago.
In a recent interview at the 92nd Street Y, Ariana Huffington spoke about the many CEO’s who meditate including most famously the late Steve Jobs.
Studies using MRI’s have shown that the brains of Tibetan Buddhist monks who meditate daily and for long periods of time have shown brains with increased gamma wave activity, which help with many cognitive functions including increased compassion, improved memory creativity and test taking abilities. In short, Gamma brain waves are those that get you “into the zone “.
To my way of thinking that can only be a good thing, doesn’t your brain deserve a spa treatment?
There are health benefits. Science has shown that meditation can reduce stress, helps to lower cortisol, adrenaline production and in turn lower blood pressure.
In recent articles in the New York Times, The Path meditation center in Manhattan focuses on networking for fashion and tech millennials, through meditation. According to the article, many post-meditation deals have been made and jobs have been found. In Los Angeles, there are “Drybar” style meditation centers popping up.
This is an interesting development really just a twist on ashrams. From where I sit making new friends and business contacts at a place like The Path or Suzee Yalof’s place in LA is a happy alternative to a loud bar or restaurant. People who meditate tend to enjoy being here now. There is a shared experience when meditating in a community. It’s a peaceful practice.
In another article in the NY Times it was shown that meditation has the potential to help students to increase their scores on the big tests such as the SAT and ACT exams.
It seems that Mark was really onto something so many years ago. Meditation served him well throughout his life, working in some very complicated situations in the NYC school system. When Mark was battling cancer, meditation he remained strong , calm and uncomplaining. Though sometimes he just lost it too.
Hey he was only human.
It was because of Mark that I began my 30 year journey to yoga and meditation. As someone who is high energy, active and has the need to move, I found that for me to meditate I had to do a little yoga to limber up and release excess energy and then I could sit and enjoy the stillness. I am grateful to Mark for starting me on my yogic path.
While for me, my favorite way to meditate is in a group with my fellow yoga practitioners, it is at home on my own that the practice really unfolds for me.
For those who want to give meditation a whirl there are many places to look. There are many different types of meditations to try on youtube.com, where you can practice in your living room.
Do your best not to judge yourself. According to meditation teacher and American Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfeld, it takes many lifetimes to master meditation so why not just enjoy it? There is no right way to do it.
It can be as simple as just following the breath for 5 minutes a day while sitting still. Do this: Just sit quietly, follow your breath and it will unfold. If your mind wanders to your to-do list, just come back to the breath. Five minutes a day will get you started. After 21 days of 5 minutes of focusing on the breath, it will become a habit, like brushing your teeth.
Meditation helps us to “take out the trash” in our minds to get access to creativity and our best selves. What’s not to like?
The UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center is a good place to get some free training and introductions to meditation, marc.ucla.edu and look for the link to Free Guided Meditations. Look on iTunes for both free and paid meditations. Or youtube.com
One thing I know for sure, meditation is neither weird nor complicated.
There’s an APP for that.
Here are few apps to try some are free and some charge a fee: Breathe2Relax which is great for practice working with the breath, Buddhify 2 with lots of good information and various meditations that run from 5 to 20 minutes, Omvana has music, talks, guided meditations and much more. Search your APP store to see what’s available read reviews try a few different types of meditation.
Find your calming place, I am betting you will be glad you did.
Call your friends. Call your family. Call your mom. Call your cousins. Call the people you love.
You read that right.
Call your friends.
I am working on a new idea.That thing in your hand that you are always looking at, (I hope not while you are making love though puleez!)
That is a PHONE as in iPhone. So why not use it?
I know totally radical. But I am going for radical and nothing less.
Am starting a “Call -your-friends-and-family movement”.
Use your phone as a telephone. Yes I know I am so weird, so last century.
Call me crazy.
Call me old fashioned but I am up to bringing back talking on phones to each other using our ears, hearts and voices. Just not so loudly in an elevator that I know all the details of your root canal and please keep your voice down on a train or in a restaurant. And nope not in a yoga studio either. Nor movies or a play.
Please be considerate and speak softly.
And if you are driving use a Bluetooth or other headset or in-dash device.
The life you save could be mine. Thank you very much.
Now before you get all weird. A Text is a great thing for sharing information I love being able to instantly let someone know I am running out the door see you soon.
It is not an activity for when you are driving.
Talking on the phone equals Connection. I don’t know about you but I get a lift when I speak to family and friends and I hear their voices. There is no substitute for the sound of the human heart as expressed in emotion and connectivity through the spoken, shared word. If we really listen you can hear so much of what is being said and what is left unspoken. No amount of Emoji’s is a substitute for the spoken word.
The sound of who we are what the heart feels that is what one hears in voice to ear, ear to voice communications. Is it possible we twenty-first-century beings are so overloaded that we are afraid of intimacy and of the time it takes, that we prefer a text to true heart-level conversation?
Here is a thought for this decade. What if the more we connect with others and truly get to know their heart, the more chance we have for living together peacefully. One person at a time.
So get radical.
Call a friend. Check-in with your family. Face-time them. Call someone. Surprise them. Set up your voice-mail. Go out on a limb! Whatever works. Just find your groove and make a move. Take the time to say “hi”.
Have intimate giggling, crying, sharing enjoying, heart-centered conversation. Even just for 5 minutes. Snuggle up with that phone of yours and call someone you love.
One caveat here: you might have to send them a text to tell them what you are up to.
Or share this with your friends and let them know it’s my fault you are calling them.
Go give it a whirl.
That’s so fancy.
Xo love and light.
On our daily morning walks Clinton and I often meet people who “gush” over my beautiful boy. One day it was like this: the baby with his strawberry blonde curls and saucer blue eyes sees us as we approach his house. Mom is unloading the SUV they just drove up and yet takes a moment when she sees how her baby wiggles and giggles with delight at the sight of Clinton.
Clinton my auburn-haired sleek golden eyed chocolate lab-pointer hybrid rescue dog is not just the “George Clooney” of dogs in looks, he is sweet, gentle and loves people.
The baby now held in his mother’s arms is reaching reaching his tiny white hands for Clinton- his face leaning spilling over his mothers’ arms. My gentle boy turns him self so that the baby can stroke his velvet ears.
The baby squeals with delight. Clinton lies down and mom lets the baby stroke Clinton’s soft fur for a few moments.
Clinton is ready to press on with his walk and mom and baby have a busy day ahead.
As we start to leave, the baby, disappointed, starts to cry and we promise to come back another day.
That is is the gift of my beautiful Clinton we meet people everywhere we go. He is handsome and well mannered and when loneliness comes creeping in – when I am missing Mark- Clinton comes to me and with a poke of his wet brown nose, a paw that says “lets go”- we have another adventure making new friends.
There is something about dance. There is a natural pull by us humans to want to move, to shake and shimmy our bodies. Perhaps it is because in moving to music we connect to spirit or to that time we floated freely in our mother’s womb tethered to her yet free to move, grow and kick without censoring or feeling self-conscious. Whatever it is there is something so freeing about getting up and shaking your booty as often as possible .
Dance led me to Mark. He could Hustle, Slop and Lindy Hop and was a great freestyle dancer and in me he found a partner on the floor and on skates. At Ballroom and partner dancing we excelled. We even took lessons but that is a story for another day.
There was a part of me that dreamed of another kind of dancing and that was performance dance. As a child I studied Modern Dance with a student of the great Jose Limon which I excelled at, but had a failed year long attempt at ballet at the Andre Eglevesky School of Dance. It was humiliating being demoted to the younger class because I was so awkward. I was built strong and slender and looked as if I might be a dancer but had flexibility problems even as a child. In retrospect, I think I wanted to take ballet so I could get a tutu in a bright color with sequins on it.
When I would go to the Ballet or to a Broadway musical or the Joyce Theater I would often be moved to tears by what I was witnessing and wished that it was me up there that I had the talent, the gift to dance like they did.
When I turned 50 I wanted to dance again. Dissatisfied with the offerings at the gym I enrolled in classes at Silva Dance one very long treacherous flight up in an old building just next to the Long Island Railroad Station in Rockville Centre.
Mark was all for this latest adventure because any kind of movement was a way for me to relieve stress and help address my constant flexibility issues and it also kept me in good shape for skating with him.
I started with an Adult Ballet class, an adult Hip-Hop class and a Modern Dance class. What I was doing in Ballet again I thought? I wasn’t any better at 50.
I was awkward and stiff. I dropped the Ballet class and chose another.
Theater Jazz with a tall stunning, curly-haired redhead by the name of Piper Arpan. Piper was destined for much bigger things than teaching at this little studio and she taught us each of the audition dances she had to perform for the parts on Broadway that she was going after. ( and one day actually got)
What a challenge she gave us. I was probably the least proficient in the class at anything we did.
But being in Piper’s class it somehow didn’t matter. She never judged, she helped. She taught, she patiently broke it down so that even I could eventually get some piece of the very difficult moves we did to numbers like “Billy Joel’s Big shot from Movin Out”, and “All that Jazz from Chicago” along with some moves she had to do when she auditioned for the Radio City Rockettes.
As a Theater Jazz dancer, I was a level just above pretty stinky and I was okay with that, except that I did have acting ability and Piper taught us that dancing is not just about the moves it’s about the heart and soul you put into it and part of that is acting.
My first recital (yes I did more than one) comes at holiday time, Piper choreographed our number, “Please come home for Christmas.”
I wrote down every single move, every single count, bought the CD, transferred the song to tape so I could stop and start it and at home played the song over and over and over again while I practiced my moves, trying to get the count, get it out of my head and into my body.
Mark heard that number by Bon Jovi a thousand and one times as I danced around the living room. He even walked around singing it as I kept practicing and playing the song, stopping and restarting. We laughed about it– a lot. And I am pretty sure he was hoping this would all be over soon so that we could listen to a different song.
It’s important to note that the Theater Jazz class was considered an elite class (what was I doing there?) and our numbers were much anticipated. I practiced and practiced. I just didn’t want to mess it all up and let everyone down. We were 3 adults and the rest of the class was teenagers.
Meanwhile Mark was both encouraging and amused by it all. His wife at age 50 is in just a few short weeks will be in a dance a recital
It was surreal. But he went with it.
The night of the holiday show arrives and Mark comes to watch his 50 year old wife dance her first recital since she was 8 years old. Mark even brings his best friend Steve to witness what I hope is not a complete disaster. There we sat all dressed in our holiday costumes. We were wearing (thankfully) black jazz pants, black tops, jazz shoes and Santa hats.
Slimming and forgiving.
Before the show begins Piper gives us a pep-talk, which as it turns out is excellent advice not just for a dance recital but for life and worth remembering.
“Don’t worry if you mess up, no one but you knows what your are supposed to be doing, just keep going, don’t crash, stay in character and smile. Do your best to end together.”
It was over in a flash and I think I did okay. I went left when everyone went right one time, but I heard what Piper said and at the end when everyone clapped I caught Mark and Steve out the corner of my eye, “Two thumbs up” and a big smile flashed across Mark’s face.
When we left Mark (who was never one to hand out fake compliments) said, “You were pretty good. All that practice paid off and your enthusiasm showed, it looked like you were having a great time.”
I was honey, Thanks. I really was.
Who could ask for anything more?