Breathing In, Breathing Out – Mindfulness Practice For ALL Occasions

I wanted to share the recent news from Plum Village Monastery.  Many of you know that beloved master teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, had a stroke and is being treated in America.  A report posted on the Plum Village website shares his progress, including his first spoken words.  Here is an excerpt that is so heart warming, and it reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “The Miracle of Mindfulness”.   His words speak to me like a miracle coming from this wonderful being who has taught so many of us the way of mindfulness, love and peace.  (He is affectionately called Thay by his community)

“Thay has received training from three different speech therapists over the last two months, one of whom was able to help Thay speak his first words since the stroke. It was a legendary day. We are happy to be able to share his very first words:

In, out (several times)
Happy (several times)
Thank you (several times)

and “Vui quá” (meaning, “So happy,” in Vietnamese)

It was like a guided meditation. Everyone was crying and laughing at the same time, including Thay.”

I, too, cried and felt joy at this news, and am reminded that “In, out”, “Happy”, and “Thank you” ARE the Miracles in all occasions.  And grateful that I am able to support people on the mindfulness path as a mindfulness coach and spiritual life coach.

(Read the full report at )

Why Practice Mindfulness & Meditation? Part 1

If you are new to mindfulness, congratulations on finding one of the most powerful practices for a better life! I know this because I began mindfulness study and practice over 20 years ago and have worked with 100s of clients to change their lives through mindfulness practices, and all of us feel it’s the most important change.   We agree that mindfulness practices have helped us face life’s challenges.

Mindfulness practice does not change circumstances (although it may), nor does it create a life with no challenges. For sure, life will continue to be challenging because, well, that’s just the nature of life. The difference with mindfulness is that one gains greater capacity to deal with the challenges in healthy ways, ways that don’t create as much chaos or suffering as less mindful ways.

When I started my mindfulness & meditation practices, I wasn’t particularly struggling with a big life challenge, but there seemed to be many smaller ones. Once I had practiced meditation and mindfulness for a few months, I began to see that my mind continually creates “issues”, perceived problems, to which I responded with anxiety or anger or depression, or all three. I saw how I was trying so hard to get life to conform to my wishes. I was constantly striving and trying to fix myself and others so that we would all be happy (and live happily ever after). I probably don’t need to point out the irony in this, that my striving was causing at least part of the unhappiness I was trying to fix! When I saw this, I also saw how my practices would shift my ways and mindfulness would be a practice I do for the rest of my life.

Did it make life less painful? At first it didn’t. In fact, it was sometimes excruciatingly painful to see my irrational thinking, judgments, stories and reactivity that had been running the show without my awareness. Fortunately, I was enrolled in a study of psychology at the time, so I didn’t panic and run away from this disturbing awareness of my crazy thinking. Instead, I became very curious and determined to continue practicing, because the “gurus” assure us that this is the way to peace.

And indeed it is, but it is a gradual process. After the first shocking awareness of the constant litany in my mind, there was a period of just watching it without judgment, trying to be very clear about what was happening in the thought world as often as possible. Then an interesting thing happened. I began to experience periods of ‘no thought’, which I could only notice in instances because the minute I noticed them, thoughts such as, “Wow! Look at that. I’m not thinking” would pop up, and my mind was off and running with a discourse evaluating my experience of ‘no thought’. But noticing these times of no thought was encouraging. I had glimpses of something more real, and felt there is more to me than only that constant redundant and agitating mental commentary.

Another thing I noticed was that occasionally a different kind of “knowing” would break through. It was not information that came in the form of thoughts about something. It was more like a heartfelt awareness that was in the background, an intuitive kind of wisdom. Of course I had had this experience before, but now it was happening much more frequently. It seemed like the energy waves of wisdom could finally be seen as the smoke screen of thought began to part occasionally. And this was just the beginning of my more mindful journey….

If you would like to live more mindfully, check out Mindful Life Coaching




More On Gratitude

I once had the privilege to hear spiritual teacher, David Hawkins, speak about gratitude.  He said “To be grateful takes requirements off of life, and puts requirements on me.”  This is such wisdom.

We place requirements on life all the time and get upset when it doesn’t meet our demands.  “I want this. I want that.  I want more. I want less. I want. I want. I WANT!”  And yet life does not listen for the most part, and we become frustrated at our attempts to control, change, and manipulate.  We beg, plead, and try to bargain.  And we suffer.

To be grateful puts the requirements on me.  Which is very powerful indeed.  When I can shift my focus and energy to my own attitude, my own state of being, this is where I can actually be successful at making a change.

Well, sure.  Sometimes it’s very hard to feel gratitude in the face of hardship.  But isn’t it true that in the face of difficulty, any attempts to resist, fight, complain, or manipulate the situation fall flat without fruition, resulting in big-time suffering?

Our power lies in being able to shift our state of being to one of acceptance, compassion, and gratitude.  Oh yes, we still go about  taking action where possible, but without the angst, pushing, fighting, and resistance.

It’s a fact of life that all things eventually change, whether we do anything or not.  So we can be grateful for the changes that are occurring, even when it is not completely obvious to us, knowing there is a flow to life.  In gratitude, we can let life flow and let go of requirements on that flow.  We have the power to be grateful – no matter what.

Gratitude is a mindfulness practice learned with Mindfulness Coaching and Spiritual Life Coaching.  See Mindful Life Coaching.

Living in the Mystery

How often I forget that I actually know nothing as it relates to ultimate Truth.  Reflecting on being human just brings me to a place of mystery.  Even when I think I “know” my life purpose, it’s just a thought in my mind.  The closest I can come to real knowing is “heart knowing”, which is Love.  And I can’t put words to that kind of knowing.  It just IS.

I rather like the notion that life is a mystery.  There are all kinds of scary situations, surprising characters, and cryptic clues everywhere for me to discover and contemplate.  A bit like the game, or movie, “Clue”, where anything can happen, and anyone can be involved.

In my life, there are often mystery blessings.  Angels appear mysteriously and magically out of nowhere.  Sometimes, I get to play the part of an angel to help another – perhaps a confused angel – but nevertheless….

There are those who would say we create our lives with our thoughts, and we mostly do this with unconscious thinking.  Now there’s a recipe for a perfect mystery creation system!  Aren’t we always asking ourselves, “How did THIS show up?”  And then we get lost in analysis and discussion of possible causes, because that is what the human mind seems to like to do.  Or, we could instead just be curious.  “What will happen next?”  Much like reading a great novel titled “The Mystery of Life.”

Mindful Life Coaching is for mindful living with the mystery.

Ego Games: Beware when You Compare!

Have you ever noticed the tendency to compare yourself to others? To make decisions about how you are doing based on how others are doing?  And have you noticed that when you do this, you may find yourself feeling like “not enough”?

Comparing is often so habitual, we don’t even notice we’re doing it.  But the effect of this type of comparison is something to take a look at.

Can you remember the last time you felt unhappy with your situation?  It may have been the direct result of a comparison to others’ life situations.  Or, it may have been the result of comparison to the person you think you “should” be, or to the circumstances you think you “should” be experiencing – to an imagined future, or a long ago past.  Have you felt discouraged with your progress on the path to success when you compare it to where you want to be?

It’s always important to strive to live your best life.    It’s important to reflect and see if you are headed where you want to go.  It’s important to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t and adjust your course accordingly.  But beware when you compare to others, or to an imaginary self!

This type of comparison often results in negative emotions.  Some people attempt to resolve those feelings by surrounding themselves with people who are not doing as well as they are, people who are “non-threatening” to their self confidence, and people who make them feel good “in comparison”.  Although this may result in some good feelings, it is short lived and tenuous because it depends on the continual comparison to external circumstances.  More importantly, it limits one’s capacity to be mentored and inspired by those further along the path.

Leaving the Comparison Game

A better solution is to get out of the comparison game altogether.  You can begin to stop using imaginary measuring sticks with which you evaluate your life – the measuring sticks that have “more” at one end and “less” at the other, “rich” or “poor”, “good” or “bad”.

Here are some personal life coach tools for leaving the comparison game:

1)  Be keenly aware of how it feels when you think that you, or your circumstances, are not enough.  Know what it feels like when you have low self confidence and feel discouraged.

2)  When you notice that you have these feelings, also notice your specific thoughts of “less than” or “not enough”.

3)  Identify the imaginary measuring stick that you are using.  See if you can see the arbitrary points along the stick.

4)  Answer these questions:  What if your situation is not better or worse, good or bad, but rather, IT JUST IS?  How might you live if you could only see your present moment and had no reference to better or worse?  Can you just live your life NOW and not worry about measuring up?

5)  Seek to learn about yourself and what motivates you.  Do you really want those particular circumstances or do you want something different for your life?  What do you see in others’ circumstances that you can learn from?

6)  Practice gratitude.  What do you appreciate about your life right now?

There is a whole world of imaginary measuring sticks.  The people that you compare yourself to have their own imaginary measuring sticks that create the same feelings for themselves that you create when you compare.  If you see others’ circumstances as better than yours, you will think that they are very happy and satisfied.   But quite possibly, they are not happy and satisfied, because they are playing the comparison game, too!

Without so much comparing, we free ourselves to grow and learn from all situations.

Mindful Life Coaching is support for mindful living and letting go of comparing and judging.

(Image by Suvro Datta)

Happy Mindful New Year!!!

Here it is, the end of 2011 and the beginning of a New Year!  It is such a special time of the year, that we are reminded to stay awake to the powerful energy of transition.  It is an opportunity to learn lessons, to let go, to celebrate, and to step forward with intention.  As I do each year, I invite you to join me in a year end exercise.  Relax and reflect with me on the journey of the past year and all it has brought our way.   On New Year’s Eve I will sit down and journal.  These are the questions that I will answer and I invite you to do the same:

FOR 2011:

How have you been challenged?

How have you grown?

What experiences were new for you this past year?

What important lessons have you learned?

What will you let go of that no longer serves you?

How have you been blessed?

Who will you thank?

Take time to mindfully answer these questions and you will be rewarded with the depth and richness of life and inspired to move forward into the New Year with more clarity.

For 2012:

How will you become more mindful in 2012?

What states of being will you cultivate?

How will you most joyfully give your gifts to life?

What are your top 5 priorities and values for life going forward and how will you honor them?

What are your intentions for your health, relationships, career, creativity, adventures and joy in 2012?

How can you love more?

If you take the time to answer these questions, you will be richly rewarded with mindful purpose in the New Year.  And if you share your insights, thoughts, questions, or ideas – we will all be inspired!  Thank you and May you be blessed with a prosperous and joyful New Year!

Mindful Life Coaching offers support for setting mindful intentions, goals, and actions toward your life purpose!


Major Life Transition: Tips from a Personal Life Coach for Women

Are you a women for whom life is changing or has changed in ways you weren’t expecting? Or are there situations you aren’t sure how to handle, and you are trying to find your way?  Maybe you are facing starting over after divorce.  Or maybe you are grieving the loss of a loved one.  Or maybe you have changed careers or moved across the country.  Whatever it is – it’s a major life transition and you want answers on how to get through.  You know that your own personal growth and spiritual growth are critical to making the most out of your life now. This article offers some tips from a personal life coach for women to help you move through and beyond divorce or other life transition to a life you love – your authentic life.

As a mindfulness coach, I help many women in transition find their way through and beyond difficult life transition.  The focus of our personal life coach work together is meaningful personal and spiritual growth including learning mindfulness practices for more mindful living in order to lead a more authentic and joyful life.

Here are the best recommendations from my work as a life coach for women that you may find very helpful when you are in a life transition.

1) Take time for yourself.  It is time to ramp up the self care during your life transition!  Women are notorious for ignoring their own needs.  The best way to support yourself as a woman in a life transition is to practice excellent self care.  This means caring for all aspects of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self.   Give yourself adequate rest, relaxation, good food, proper exercise, meditation, and plenty of support from friends and/or a professional such as a life coach for women.

2) Slow down.  Even though life may be coming at you quickly, and demanding decisions, you will find that by slowing down just a bit, allowing yourself to be more mindful and present, taking time for a few deep breaths , living in the moment – you will make better decisions.  There is no reason to rush into critical decisions that will impact the rest of your life, such as where best to live or work.  Take your time and be gentle with your adjustment process that is natural to life transition.

3) Self acceptance and self love.  Women tend to be hard on themselves and expect themselves to know just what to do and how to fix any situation – perfectly.  This just sets you up for feeling shame or fear about your process of finding your way.  When things fall apart, it takes time to find your way again.  It may look messy for a while as you try out a few ideas or walk around in the fog during a life transition.  You can save yourself a lot of misery by understanding that you are exactly where you need to be, taking the actions you need to take in order to transition to the next part of your journey.  Let it be messy, because it will be whether you let it or not.  Allow yourself to make mistakes by trying things out slowly.  Don’t put everything at risk with each decision, such as moving cross country without living there for a while to see if it’s right for you.  Try things out and don’t worry when it doesn’t work out as you hoped.  This is how we learn!  And you are in a major learning phase of life.  As a life coach for women in transition, I have seen that the growth into self acceptance is the most powerful process for starting over after divorce or loss, to create an authentic life you love.

4) Stay open to possibilities.  To live in the state of possibility means being open to the concept that everything is working out for your good.  It also means you are willing to expect to receive the many good things which are coming your way.  Life is flowing and will carry you along.  You can relax and let go and trust.  You can practice mindfulness, mindful living, and true self acceptance as often as possible.

The good news in life transition, as difficult as it may seem, is that we are designed to change.  We are designed to feel challenged and lost and find our way again. We are resourceful and creative and Life is on our side.

Mindful Life Coaching is designed to support those going through transition.

Emotional IQ Mindfulness Practice from Spiritual Life Coach for Women

When I came across the quote below from Victor Frankl this morning, I decided to take it into meditation so that I might absorb it more fully.  When I read this quote, it seemed to resonate with a chord deep inside me.  In this article, I share from my meditation, mindfulness practice, and experience as a life coach for women about a mindfulness practice for developing our emotional IQ and becoming a giver of light.

“To give light one must endure burning.”
—- Victor Emil Frankl

For me, I feel that giving light and love is my highest calling.  As a Life Coach for Women I am always striving to be a giver of light and support my clients in developing their own awareness of being givers of light.  When I am in a pure space of Presence and allowing the Light to shine through me, it is that sense of Oneness that feels right and clear and open.  It is what I believe is our True Nature.  And we are meant to share the beauty of our true nature.

What we find is that there are all degrees of being able to experience the light and Presence.   There may be a bit of fogginess or confusion that makes it a the light seem less bright and also harder to share with others.  Then there are times when I can’t sense the light at all.  When there are hurts or fears or doubts, the light seems dim or hard to experience.  By working with these emotions, I have come to know that when fearful, I have somehow allowed thoughts and emotions to cover up my access to the light.  I can be both aware of this, and also unable to find my way back to the Light easily.

A mindfulness practice called Awareness of Emotions that I recommend in my work as a life coach for women and practice daily myself, is very helpful in returning to the Presence so that I may be a giver of light.  It is the process of going deeply into completely experiencing the physical components of an emotion.  When we focus attention on the physical sensations in the body of fear or sadness, and remove the focus from thinking and thoughts, an opening occurs, a softening in the heart.

Our egos don’t want to believe this, but mindful sitting with the discomfort in the body, the tension, the tightness, the restlessness, with attention and compassion for our authentic experience is a doorway into the Light. By lovingly bringing awareness to the upset (without the stories), soon we find the warmth that is the Light has always been there within.

This is not an easy mindfulness practice.  It can be extremely intense to feel fear or emotional pain in the body. And I believe that Victor Frankl gave a good description of this practice, saying we  “must endure burning”.  That is why Frankl’s quote struck a chord within me.  In order to be a giver of light, I know I must endure the burning of facing and loving my own pain to be able to be a giver of light.

Mindful Life Coaching is support for mindful living and being better able to process emotions for a better life.

Self Confidence Begins with Self Acceptance: Tips from a Life Coach for Women

Many women suffer from lack of self confidence and low self esteem and it frustrates them to no end.  They want to do more, speak up more often, and feel better about their presence in the world.  Basically, they want to audition for, and land, the lead role in their own lives!

Often the root cause of lack of self confidence is the messages we received in early childhood, somehow given the message that we are never worthy or good enough.  Since these are things that happened in the past, we can’t change those events.  But, with support for self acceptance, we can heal the wounds from those events.

What needs healing is the emotions that we feel whenever we want to take confident action, but something stops us.  Suddenly, we’re triggered into a place of fear, doubt, or even shame at the idea of stepping up and taking action.  What is often not realized is that  it’s the physical sensations in the body that are aroused from childhood wounds that have never been healed.  The event requiring confident action is the the trigger of the same body sensations you felt as a child when you were somehow made to feel unworthy.  So perhaps when you want to take self confident action, you notice your chest tensing up, or your stomach feeling sickly, or your heart racing.   The body is where we want to focus our attention for healing.

Rather than try to resolve the lack of self confidence on the mental plane – with explanations, justifications, better self talk, understanding, different stories, or new mental imagery – I am suggesting that we face the deeper issue, the physical sensations that come with the sense of unworthiness, low self esteem, or poor self confidence.

The physical sensations that go with the concept of unworthiness are so deep and so unpleasant, we’ll do just about anything not to experience them.  We might avoid any event that would trigger it (don’t even audition for a role in your own life) or distract ourselves from it (I’m really too busy to try out.)  or fight it (I’ll just push through this so other people think I’m brave, while telling myself I’m really a coward).  Fighting the sensation can look like courage sometimes, but sometimes just disguises the fear of feeling the awful feelings of shame and fear.

As a life coach for women I suggest a mindfulness practice I call Awareness of Emotions, which takes you into experiencing the body sensations, pure and void of all the mental judgments and evaluations.  When we can simply observe and experience the body sensations, allowing the body to feel whatever it feels without judgment or trying to chase it away, no matter how yucky it feels, we will begin to grow into true self acceptance.  And self acceptance completely undoes the notion and feelings of unworthiness.  The realization of “I accept myself just as I am,” means you can have whatever body sensations you have without labeling them right or wrong.  We can begin to learn from the body.  It really is just an energy source that wants our attention.  When we no longer fear our own sensations, we will not need to run or avoid or fight to cover them up.  Instead we can enter into the flow of sensations and accept them just as they are.  And as we do that, we discover the reality of an openness, a calm, a Presence that is very loving and peaceful – just waiting to be discovered through our awakening.

We are meant to be free to act, speak, and flow with life without judgment of right or wrong, unworthy or worthy.   We begin to see that all of the judgments are unreal.  What IS real is you, your aliveness, all your body sensations, and your free expression.

Blessings for your awakening to experience true self confidence through self acceptance!

Mindful Life Coaching is support for developing true self confidence, self acceptance, and self esteerm.

Qualities of the Divine Feminine From “The Courage to Be Yourself” by Sue Patton Thoele

The Feminine is the embodiment of heart energy.Her key qualities are compassion and the ability to accept and honor the process of whatever is happening.Perhaps this is often easier for women because we are physically and emotionally programmed to honor the cycle of conception, pregnancy, and birth to welcome and include whoever may be born from that long, mysterious process.

Contrary to the idea that women are overemotional, the Divine Feminine is well grounded emotionally and has the capacity to bring all of her energy to exactly where she is in the moment.Feminine energy accepts the paradoxes of life and has the ability to hold them within her heart simultaneously.Feminine energy connects deeply with the Earth and all of her children, feeling for and with them. (more…)