Move your body. It’s not just about burning calories, it’s about changing your self image. Am I a sedentary person prone to weight gain or an active person with a healthy lifestyle? How we see ourselves determines what we do. My rule of thumb is that it takes three months of daily exercise before your workout begins to be anticipated instead of dreaded.
Stay Green. Eat a plant based diet. Vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts are packed full of nutrients. When your body gets essential vitamins and minerals, unhealthy cravings naturally begin to diminish. Add savory treats like avocado, olives, and smoked salmon to your salads to make them interesting and more satisfying. Carbohydrates, meat and fats shouldn’t comprise more than 30% of your diet! See the glow come back to your skin and watch your weight easily drop off if you choose these simple dietary choices.
Nature. Commune daily with nature. Breathe the fresh air, hear the birds and feel the breeze. We literally become more grounded when we spend time in nature, unplugged from technology. The peace in nature allows time for reflection and cultivates discernment which is a key ingredient to a successful life. I call it a fifteen minute nature bath. Find your oasis and visit it daily.
Find a Passion. I recently heard a psychologist explain that humans are herd animals and our isolated lifestyle is unnatural to our species. It is important that we find an activity that connects us with community. For some, it is choir or dance, for others it might be volunteering, joining a local church or supporting a political or social cause. Choose an activity that creates a community of like-minded people who grow to become friends and eventually a support group. Find a passion and join. We are not meant to go through this life alone.
Oh yes and treat yourself to a massage or facial at Spa on the Plaza. It’s called self love and not only do you deserve it, we would love to have you.
I used to swim daily in the warm ocean waters of La Jolla California. I remember my body felt light, buoyed by the salt water and the lapping waves. As I turned my face into the cold ocean I saw tendrils of seaweed reaching towards me from the dark recesses of the ocean floor. The rhythm of my breath was the prominent sound and my mind became singularly focused on reaching the buoy in the far distance. For years I practiced this daily ritual and yet if someone asked if I meditated I would say, “no, I can’t sit still long enough.” This rather narrow perspective was altered when I studied the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. He practices walking meditation and explains there are many opportunities throughout the day to reach deep meditative states by simply observing the subtle body through breath and mindful presence.
Years later, when I moved to the Central California where the ocean water is an average frigid 57 degrees, I gave up ocean swimming for dance. Here too, I found an opportunity to go into a deep state of meditation. My teacher, Arjuna Vinn Marti, describes the inner spiral and teaches a simple technique he calls the ABCDs.Assemble, Breathe, recognize that motion is Circular and when you are ready, Dissolve. Through this practice the dancer discovers an inner resonance unique to themselves which ultimately expresses itself in the dance.
Whether your movement is dancing, running or gardening, by bringing conscious breath and focused awareness to your activities, you can achieve deeper meditative states which can help to reduce stress, improve concentration, elevate mood, improve sleep…the benefits are multitude and varied but the proof is in, meditation enhances well being and changes brain function. So if, like me, you are a person in motion, stop, breath, pay attention and reach a whole new level of performance both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Namaste.
What secrets do I hold in my deep subconscious? What is that quagmire of emotions where things go bump in the dark! There, in the belly of my soul, resides all the anger and disappointments swallowed whole and forgotten.
I was the pleasing child, full of smiles and sunny promises. Like most children I lived in a demanding world of needs and expectations and I became “the adaptive child.” Somewhere in my pleasing manner I lost my roots, my center, my personal barometer.
As a woman who chooses to step into my wisdom, I say enough! I no longer serve the voices of my mother, my father, my sisters and the barrage of imagery and hidden messages which tell me to hold my tongue and to diminish myself. In this new found space I shift my focus, for the first time in my long life, solely upon myself. The roots of my consciousness are there waiting and they eagerly meet me in this realignment of my essence.
One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Bill Little, often compared this phase of life to that of a butterfly, who up until this momentous phase, thought she was a caterpillar! And like the caterpillar I will go inward, into a cocoon of self knowledge and love, so that I may fly like a butterfly.
The 7-Day Happiness Challenge was profound. Writing about gratitude every morning for seven days increased my awareness of the negative chatter in my head and enabled me to more easily shift to positive thinking. It was a challenging week personally and professionally and yet this simple tool acted has a rudder while I navigated difficult waters. Because of this daily practice, I am a different person. Stronger, wiser and oh yes, humbler.
Here is a cherry picked version of my Happiness Journal.
I am grateful for:
My mom’s advice. “Eat healthy food, think happy thoughts and exercise regularly.” My sweet daughter Mira, who is full of ideas. For all the young people in my life who expand my perceptions and show me the future.
For the abundant Huckleberries this fall. My home, my sweet home on top of a hill overlooking a blue bay where sometimes I see whales swimming. The Monterey Pines. Those gnarled, beautiful trees that give me so much joy when I walk in the woods.
The blueberries in my cereal. You dear reader, I am so thankful for your presence. The incredible joy of moving my body to music, my dad with his guitar and sweet voice and my mother’s dance.
I am thankful for this practice and how it is changing me. It teaches me to see the sacred in all life’s experiences and that love is not found in achievements but in celebrating others.
For this day and for every breath I take, I am grateful. It’s a great day to be alive!!
Turning over in my bed I watch the light of the sunrise fill my room with golden light and murmur my thanks for this new day, a thank you for my healthy body and my comfy bed. I rise in the still, semi-dark, a hushed time before most people stir and a time that feels sacred.
I spread my prayer rug, light a candle and sit. I watch, a curious spectator, observing patterns of thought and following my breath. I begin a micro motion at the base of the spine. By focusing on the micro circular motion that moves up and down the spine, I can sit for extended time without pain. I have learned there is no such thing as a static body but instead there is a beautiful array of micro motion that gives us the grace of a dancer even in a sitting meditation. And so I sit, free of pain and without judgment. I do not cast my thoughts away as pesky mosquitoes but rather view them as parent might observe a rambunctious toddler. I am finally at peace with my imperfections.
Spinal warm up.
From sitting meditation I begin my kundilini spinal warm up starting with a mantra; Ong, Namo, Guru Dev, Namo, which means, I bow to the divine creator within. My breath is focused and my eyes are closed. Age is measured by the flexibility of the spine and so I begin with a spinal flex at the base of the spine. Holding the ankles I inhale and flex the spine forward, on the exhale I flex the spine backwards. The exercises move upward to the crown chakra utilizing the breath and full spinal movement to allow the “kundilini” energy to flow easily. It also has the added benefit of curing me of all back pain.
After the kundilini exercises I sit an additional five minutes in meditation and enjoy the fireworks! Pulsating vibrations and visions of electrical interconnectivity can often be felt and seen after this practice and upon opening my eyes I feel the possibilities of the day are limitlessness.
Having a twenty year marriage to a wonderful man healed a sense of isolation rooted deep in my childhood experiences. The incredible nurturing of family strengthened me, making me more self-confident and emotionally flexible. Together we had a beautiful daughter named Mira, a home, a successful business and a remarkable community of friends. How then can anyone begin to understand why such a bond is broken?
There is such a strong cultural belief that if a marriage ends it is somehow a failure. Not at all, just the closure in a chapter of a life. Just an about face and a rebirth. I am testimony that divorce can be a liberating phenomena. As a mother, wife and business owner, time alone was rare and I craved it for twenty long years. Suddenly set free as an empty nester and a single woman I have a yawning space of time in which to renew myself.
My marriage had so much good that I wouldn’t change any of my choices. The memories we created and the lessons learned have made me who I am today and I am grateful to all those who played part in this wonderful drama called life. I give particular thanks to Roy, my soon to be ex-husband who stood by his family sometimes like a soldier whose sole purpose was to protect the homeland. Running a small business in a roller coaster economy is not easy.
I still cry sometimes and miss the intimacy found with family but I also know this too will pass and someday I will find myself again in a tight bond of community. But in the mean time I feel like I am god’s child dancing in a field of wildflowers.
It is time to own my mastery and shed the persona of a young women and step into my power.
Recently, while studying a form of dance called “Soul Motion” at Esalen, our revered dance teacher Vinn Marti alias “Arjuna”gathered us in a circle. He began the exercise by stating ” I am known by many as Vinni, but now I am Arjuna.” We were all asked to step forward with a form of self identification. In this group there were many name changes and unique expressions of self were offered.
I nervously waited my turn, doubting my creativity and my ability to speak coherently. I had some vague idea of what I was going to say but I was mostly mesmerized by the statements of those who came before me.
My turn came and with courage I stepped into the circle. “As a child I was called Cammy, as a woman I became Camille and as an elder I am (here I raised my arms high and spoke with authority) the goddess.” Whew where did that come from and wow that felt great!
Stepping into our mastery as elders is the natural transition in our spiritual evolution. Do we have the confidence and the wisdom to own that role? This is a new journey for me and I plan to meet the challenge with joy and humility.