Gratitude: Mindfulness Practice Tips from a Life Coach for Women

The Gratitude holiday, Thanksgiving, is upon us.  Time for giving thanks.  But just in case you are feeling a little low on appreciation, let’s make sure we are filled to the brim with gratitude before giving thanks.  Don’t you just love the feeling of appreciation and gratitude?  It really is an attitude, or state of being that feels warm and loving.  So why do we need to be reminded with a holiday?  I’m proposing that we live every day as a day of Thanksgiving as a mindfulness practice.

As a life coach for women, I truly recognize the duty and service that women offer to the world.  They give endlessly to everyone – their children, spouses, parents, extended families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and organizations, too.  Women are Divinely designed to give.  And we are also designed to give thanks.  But sometimes, because of all the giving, we can become so worn out, it’s can be hard to feel that warm, loving sense of gratitude.  Instead, we may be feeling worried about someone or a situation, and not sure how to help.

If you are having trouble feeling grateful in the midst of all the cooking, cleaning, planning, and caring for others, here are some mindfulness practices to reconnect you with your grateful heart, your divine right to an attitude of gratitude, no matter what is happening around you.

First, we want to give ourselves permission to BE grateful for no reason whatsoever.  That’s right, just be grateful because you choose to be.  Whenever we try to attach the feeling of appreciation and gratitude to an event, it loses it’s spaciousness and expansiveness.  The real sense of gratitude is a warm feeling in the heart, an acceptance and love for all that is – regardless of what you perceive as good or bad in the outside world.  So for example, we may have many problems or none at all, but we can recognize the experience of appreciation for a cold drink of water or a breath of fresh air.  It’s the practice of BEING that we are grateful for.  The moments when we can feel truly alive and present, without judgment or concerns.  So at any moment you can give this to yourself.  At any moment you can enter the state of being by just appreciating a single breath or noticing the freedom of a movement, feeling the energy within your body.

Usually, we are prone to feel grateful when we are out in nature.  We see the beauty and it transports us into a state of just being and appreciating.  Give this to yourself every day.  Revel in the sunrise or sunset, feel the sun on your back, or the breeze in your hair, whatever is present is a reason to feel appreciation.  When I engaged as a life coach for women I often suggest a visit to a beautiful spot in nature, which can bring you back to the grateful state effortlessly.

So many times, we feel anything but grateful because of some challenge we face.  An illness, financial worries, relationship problems.  By switching your focus to the mindfulness practice of being grateful for the very simplest of experiences, you can cultivate and reconnect with a grateful heart.  Being here and now, take a long slow breath in and out, simply noticing the air movement and the relaxation that comes with a relaxing breath.  Focus your attention on your heart and begin to breath in and out of the heart area.   Allow yourself to feel the aliveness in your heart and imagine great warmth and light there.   As you do, bring to mind something that you feel true appreciation and gratitude for.  It could be someone you love, or something natural like your favorite place in the mountains or beach.  When you experience that feeling of appreciation, keep expanding it and nurturing it until it is full and rich and wonderful in the heart area.  This is an attitude of gratitude – no matter what is going on in the world.  Give this to yourself.  Revel in the feeling.  You will begin to feel so full and blessed, that you will know you have much to give and much to give thanks for.

Blessings for a Thanksgiving of Mindfulness Practices for Gratitude!

If you want to know more about mindfulness, see Mindful Life Coaching.

Mindfulness Tips for Holiday Stress from a Life Coach for Women

Tis the season to be jolly!  Jolly crazy that is, when it comes to all the tasks before us, especially women as we approach the holidays.   In this article, you will be encouraged to go through the holidays more mindfully and with less stress so that your experience is one of greater peace and joy.  Isn’t that the true meaning of these holidays – Giving Thanks & Peace on Earth?

So how is it that women find themselves anything but peaceful during the holidays?  We are normally busy doing for others, right?  Well, it’s just that we find that during the next few months, it will be “Doing-for-others on steroids”.  Yes, it’s shop ’til you drop, but we’re not talking about fun outings to buy new clothes.  We’re talking about major grocery shopping, and gift buying galore for family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and even our cherished service providers (don’t forget the dog walker!)

If this is the year you’ve decided to trim back and not buy so many gifts, you’ll still find yourself writing cards or baking something nice for many of the people you love.  Which brings up all the other extra activities that women DO during the holidays – travel arrangements, preparing the house for guests, meal planning, cooking, baking, etc.  Oh and did I mention decorating?  Pull out all the boxes from the attic or garage or basement, select, and place.  And then there’s the tree…….( Don’t forget taking it all down and putting it away, too. )

Well, you know we do all this because we enjoy it.  That is true.  We love creating warm and loving environments for our families and friends.  And we love the parties and gift giving.  It’s all good, right?

Or is it?  How about some tips from a Life Coach for Women on how to keep it from being ‘all stress’.

1) TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF EVERY DAY. This is not the time to stop your exercise routine.  And it’s certainly not the time to slack off on your meditation.

2) SLOW DOWN!  Even if it’s just a tiny bit. Practice mindfulness, living in the moment, by slowing down as  you do each holiday task.  Focus and stay in the moment of what you are doing, not jumping ahead to the list of all the things you must do next.  This way, you will really reap all the benefit of enjoying the season.

3) REMIND YOURSELF EACH DAY OF WHY you are doing the preparations and shopping, etc.  If you are not doing these things out of love and joy, then stop.  Maybe there are some things you could let go of, or replace with things you WANT to do from love.

4)  LET GO OF PERFECTION.  There is no such thing.  Need I say more?

5) LIGHTEN UP AND LAUGH OFTEN.  If you can, make it a practice to laugh several times each hour.  Even if you are laughing at how silly it is to try to laugh every hour.  This is a life coach for women mindfulness practice you won’t want to quit.

Blessings for a peaceful holiday!

Creating a Life Vision: Tips from a Life Coach for Women

It’s important and valuable to have a life direction.  However, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how to create or connect with your personal inspired vision for your life.  In this article, I hope to provide some insight in just what a life vision comprises, and the qualities of a life vision that will inspire and motivate you and others around you.

There’s some confusion around the concepts we call vision, purpose and mission statements.  What I’ve come to realize is that a life vision is much more expansive and powerful than either purpose or mission.  Purpose and mission are necessarily more narrow and tend to include aspects of measurement and comparison or judgment.  Whereas, vision does not.  Vision does provide direction, but it open and takes you beyond the land of measurements.

A vision is actually a “view” or image of what truly inspires you.  It’s a big picture of the greater possibilities for your life.  When you create your life vision (or rather get in touch with it, because spiritually, it is already there waiting for you to access it) it becomes the inspiration for your every action and focus.  It is the view that will help you create powerful goals and action plans.

A life vision is unlimited because it isn’t a finite landing place.  It’s more of a powerful launching pad.  It will contain possibilities for expansion and growth and development as it fosters new ideas and openings.  And most importantly, a powerful life vision will inspire you and others to take action.

Furthermore, a Life Vision is a powerful picture or image that when held in mind it actually transforms the state of mind of the viewer.  It has the power to expand the mind into the realm of great possibility and inspiration.  It energizes and uplifts your state of being into the higher realm of possibility, joy and creativity.  It also takes you out of the realm of right and wrong and judgment and comparisons.  It brings everyone into a space of present moment creativity.  It isn’t a “future” reality.  It can be seen and felt here and now.

Here are three steps to help you begin to access your life vision.  You can use these for any aspect of your life – health, relationships, career, spirituality, etc.

1) First, enter into a meditation that brings you out of the realm of your day-to-day concerns and into the space of presence and peace.  This is the space where we can here the voice of our higher selves.

2) Let yourself begin to imagine the highest possibility for your life, letting your creativity expand into pictures that you can actually see, taste and feel as they come alive in your imagination

3) Write down what you see – describe the picture.  Describe the view of “how it is” in the realm of possibility.

To help you with this, here is a portion of my life vision.

I see that through my work as a personal life coach for women, clients are powerfully supported for personal and spiritual growth and transformation, so that they may face life’s challenges with courage and wisdom and create their lives with meaning, vision and joy through mindful living.  I see the positive spiritual growth of women living more mindfully and joyfully as a ripple effect, spreading out to bless others – children, spouses, friends, parents, co-workers, communities, the world.

Enjoy creating your new life vision!

The Power of a Smile: Mindfulness Practice by Life Coach for Women

We have all been advised to smile – that we can make someone’s day brighter by offering a smile.  And if we smile, people may be more open and cooperative.  These are good reasons to smile, and this article is about the real power of of smiles.  Smiling has the power to transform you, not just a power to effect others responses to you.

It has been scientifically proven that movement of the body effects our mood.  There are the well known studies on how running or other aerobic exercise produces endorphins which uplifts the mood.  In fact, exercise is one of the best natural remedies for depression.  And then of course, there’s the practice of yoga, which has been scientifically studied for years.  Yoga practice improves health, and yoga movement has a definite impact on mood.

So what about the very simple subtle body movements?  What about a smile or a frown?  This tip from a personal life coach for women is to smile often and here’s why.

We normally think of these movements as being caused by our mood, rather than the other way around.  But if you study the eastern religions you will find that many of these spiritual teachers incorporate subtle body position as a spiritual practice.  For example, keeping the back straight during meditation helps with clarity.  Having eyes focused slightly downward allows for minimal mental agitation without going to sleep.  These subtle movements make a difference on mood and consciousness.

Is there an impact of the subtle movement of a smile? Tich Nhat Hanh, well known Zen monk and author of over 50 books on mindfulness practice and meditation, includes the instruction of a slight smile as part of the meditation posture.  His teaches that when we move our lips into a slight smile,  regardless of our current mood,  our consciousness is shifted and elevated.  The movement creates an Inner Smile, the ability to smile at life, welcoming it with gentleness.  And this has a major impact on our consciousness.

So it is that just the simple movement of turning up the corners of your mouth in a smile will impact how you feel.  It will shift your consciousness to peace and joy, even if ever so slightly.  The states of joy and peace then have a positive effect on your health.  And the more you practice it, the more readily it will shift.  The best part about the mindfulness practice of smiling is that you can do it anywhere.  Like focusing on your breath, it is something you can do in any moment to create that shift in consciousness.

And isn’t that one of the reasons we meditate?  Most who seek a life coach for women, are wanting to return to the inner peace or one’s true nature, which is gentle, loving and peaceful.  Now that’s something to smile about!

En-Joy the Holiday! (or ANY day)

For many, the holiday season is stressful – time, money, family demands, travel, end of year deadlines – the list goes on. Sometimes experiencing sanity seems like a more reasonable goal than experiencing joy! Then, to compound the matter, we often become overly concerned for the joy of family members, friends, co-workers. Though well intentioned, all this concern tends to put even more stressful energy into the holiday craze, fueling the fires of overwhelm.

Joy is always found within. In the time of holiday parties, fancy decorations, family gatherings – and shopping! – it’s easy to start thinking that joy might be found in something outside of ourselves. But if we look within to experience joy, we can then en-Joy our situations. That is, we can infuse our environment with joy from our own calm, loving center. The joy we cultivate within makes our whole world an enjoyable place. The stresses still exert their pressures, but we meet them with a sense of peace and hope. (more…)

Forgiveness: The Ultimate Act of Self-Care

Forgiving can sometimes seem impossible. Some crimes just are so egregious we really struggle to find a way to forgive the perpetrator, right? If someone is so completely “wrong” then why should I forgive him or her? What if they just keep doing the same awful things again and again – how can I forgive that?

Take a moment to think about what the word forgiveness means to you. What is your definition of forgiving?

The New Oxford American Dictionary that is built right into my MacBook defines forgiveness as: to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

Now let this definition sink in a minute. Forgiveness means to stop feeling angry. What a great idea that is! What if we re-phrase the question “Can I forgive him/her?” and instead ask “Would I like to stop being angry?” The answer is almost always YES! Of course, this is easier said than done. Forgiving may require learning new skills to process anger until we are left with peaceful feelings – but it’s worth it!

Mind-Body-Spirit Alignment Workshop

Many times the alignment choices we desire to make with our body are affected by our adherence to mental beliefs we didn’t even realize we had. Brook Montagna, MS, of Mindful Life Coaching will be hosting a two-hour workshop addressing:1) Inflexible belief systems and perceptions that are generating incorrect messages to the Central Nervous System, creating over-reactions or under-reactions and loss of ability to be in active stillness mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

2) Finding our internal guide for alignment and balance!  With greater mindfulness, we can access and align with our spiritual center moment by moment for optimum balance.

3) The Mindful Action required to support alignment with the inner wisdom for a more balanced life.


Do BE Do BE Do, The Mindfulness of Getting Things Done

TO DO lists help us remember and get things done.But have you noticed that often these lists are ever present in our minds?We’re always wondering what to do next, what we forgot to do, and what we need to add to the list?

How might it be if instead we were vigilant about a TO BE list?

Be present
Be compassionate
Be peaceful
Be joyful
Be alert

A TO BE list is not a list to check off the way we mark things DONE on a TO DO list, because Being is never done.We use the list to clarify our intentions for the NOW rather than to evaluate past performance.Our TO BE list reminds us of the choices we have every moment and inspires us to always put our best feet forward.In the words of the late Coach John Wooden, “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”

Choosing How to BE is perhaps more subjective than choosing What to DO and it’s more powerful in terms of quality of life. For example, charging ahead on a TO DO list frequently results in feeling rushed and overwhelmed, not enjoying the doing. In consciously choosing a state of Being like BE Alert, you will be surprised and enriched as you notice things unnoticed before. Choosing to BE Compassionate, many ordinary conversations become rich and meaningful.

Are you ready to really enjoy Getting Things Done? After all, you’ll be doing things on the list anyway, right? Try lining up your TO BE list right next to your TO DO list. Whenever you decide on the next thing to do, ask yourself “How will I BE in the doing of this?”

For example, if you need to contact a company about an error in your order, how do you want to be as you do it? Open? Relaxed? Understanding? Clear? If laundry is next, how do you want to be in the doing of it? Calm? Mindful? Playful?

Hint: Things like “BE productive” “BE perfect” violate the spirit of the TO BE list. BE careful what you choose to BE!

Mindful lessons learned

“I didn’t make any mistakes,
I just know a thousand ways not to make a light bulb.”
—- Thomas Edison

Looking for the life lessons in our challenging circumstances isn’t always easy, for sure. However when we do, we capture the gems of our lives that may have gone unnoticed. Sometimes, just facing the challenge is the lesson – we learn how to persevere.

Mother’s Day Mindfulness Meditation

Wishing you a Mindful Mother’s Day! Whether you are spending time with your Mother, with your children, with your spouse, with your friends, with your pets, at work, time alone, or all of the above, you may find the following meditation practice helpful in experiencing greater joy and peace, no matter what your mothering experiences have been. This practice can be particularly helpful for those who have some pain associated with motherhood, perhaps loss of a mother or loss of a child, or painful relationship issues.

This is the practice of Metta, which means Lovingkindness. What better way to describe the qualities of true mother-nature? Loving…kind…nurturing. To begin the meditation, take several slow deep breaths and let go of mental and physical tension on each outbreath. Make a conscious choice to set aside judgments, release all past stories about being a mother or having a mother and embrace the qualities of this meditation, even if it is just for now.

This abbreviated version of the original Metta meditation is simple, sweet, and powerful. We start by mothering ourselves, blessing ourselves with lovingkindness so that we have lovingkindness to share.

Slowly and peacefully, say silently or out loud:

May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I be free.