A friend of mine just turned 80, and was pleased to have passed his last physical exam with flying colors. He shared some of his lifestyle secrets. Besides getting plenty of enjoyable exercise, he enjoys “a fine, mellow, exquisite, small cigar to CELEBRATE LIFE…. at night, under the stars, on my deck…” but said that Above ALL: Thanks to my meditations I have NO stress, NO anxieties, No tension, No fears. How come? I simply drop it all, every night in deep meditation. It works like magic! “
So what is this magic? Meditation has several health benefits and positively affects our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Relaxing the mind actually relaxes the body, the blood vessels, the cells, and thus can lower blood pressure and stress hormones resulting in a sense of calm and the ability to focus, and more clearly manage life’s challenges with balance. Meditation is very healing, because when we quiet our mind, each cell in our body relaxes.
Spiritually, meditation is used as a time to simply be at peace with one’s definition of God, or empty one’s mind in order to connect to a higher power. It seems that when one desires this connection to be continuous, every moment could be a meditation, and life would flow in a way that would decrease our fears, worries, and tension. We would take life less seriously and enjoy it more.
Ideally you would stay mindful and relaxed as much as possible during the day. But most people live a very rushed, busy life, and are plagued with the human condition of “monkey mind” where our thoughts jump from place to place often disconnecting and leaving our mind overwhelmed and the body tired. And face it, many people find a quiet mind kind of boring.
Hence the need for setting aside a regular time for practicing meditation and training our minds to focus on one thing; the breath, a candle, a prayer, a mantra, or as in Zen, absolutely nothing.
There are many definitions of meditation and many forms of practice. There are several great books on meditation. One of my favorites is The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. I love his teaching because the goal is not to have to sit at a certain time of the day, but to be mindful and pay attention to your breath, and to what your are doing and thinking throughout the day. When you wash dishes, you pay attention to washing dishes. When you eat, you pay attention to eating. Your everyday activities become the focus of your meditation.
The concept of mindfulness as meditation is quite magical, and with practice life becomes a joyful and blessed experience even in the midst of the most stressful situations. As my friend so clearly exemplifies, health comes from living a life of moderation in all things, celebrating life, and dropping our worries and fears by practicing the magic of meditation.
CONTACT ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE COACHING IN MEDITATION AND WELLNESS
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
You never know where you are really going because there is always an inner journey taking place along the way -yes-a secret destination-that place that moves your soul.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” –Anais Nin
This summer we had an amazing travel experience. We spent 12 days touring Eastern Europe with our Rabbi and 44 members of our congregation. The trip was entitled
Adath Israel Experience, The Rebirth of Jewish Life After the Holocaust.
The purpose to visit countries affected by the Holocaust, where Jews once lived in freedom and prosperity and then were eliminated as a people and culture as victims of major deportation to camps or merely murdered on the spot just for being Jews. On this bittersweet trip to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Germany we witnessed the beauty of this part of the world and the horrors left from the remnants of death camps and mass graves. Never being in this part of the world, other than Germany, I had no idea how I would feel. I went on this trip with an open mind and soul. I simply wanted to experience all of it and to learn how others experienced this trip. We grew as people together and got to know a deeper part of each other through sharing our stories in words and the silence of our emotions without words.
The Sweet-We had a Dinner cruise on the Danube renewing a spirit-never forgetting and moving forward
I journaled the entire trip in three small notebooks. We have thousands of photos. I am working on transcribing those journals and find it takes hours to record what I saw and then reflect on how I felt. I am writing this post just to tell you where I have been and I’m still processing that journey as I always will.
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai
This trip will always remain in my heart. One cannot visit the places we did without taking inside the memories and images of those lost and martyred souls. We touched sacred places and will never forget.
The Entrance to Aushwitz with the German “Work Sets You Free.” Hardly was anyone free.
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
So true-we are never the same after returning home. Every place we visit has a home in our hearts. We saw the sun rise and set and the moon over the horizon.
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” –Pat Conroy
There is no way I can completely share this journey unless you someday read my journals. I am working on them. They take time and are only in the first draft. I pray I will complete them.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K.
The railroad tracks into Auschwitz-I will never see train tracks the same again.
In between my travels I continue health and wellness coaching. Together we take your journey and truly finds what sets you free.
Lately I have had several calls about simply navigating the medical system and learning what alternative and integrative approaches are available to support healing. I will be writing more about this so stay tuned.
Contact me and let me know how I can support you on your journey.
And feel free to Share this post. I always love new subscribers. And one more thing-send your questions and comments. I love hearing from YOU!
I love to travel, but until my suitcase is packed, I have a hard time getting excited. So I have come up with a plan for packing that keeps the joy in the upcoming journey.
Make a List–I use a master list that I bought as a pad of packing sheets. This sheet guides me prior to packing and also stays in my suitcase when I am packing from my destination to go home. Here is an image.
At the top of my list I write where I am going, how long and the expected weather outlook. Knowing your destination climate is so important so that you pack clothes that will keep you comfortable. Also you can prepare for cold evenings or rainy days where you need an umbrella etc.
Give yourself lots of time. I begin packing at least a week ahead of time. Sometimes I have my suitcase open and ready for clothes two weeks ahead of time. That way I have time to change my mind about my vacation wardrobe.
Carry On – As much as possible avoid having to check a bag. There are many ways to keep the size of your packing to a minimum. For one thing, roll your clothes instead of folding. This allows you to fit clothes in corners of the suitcase and use every bit of room in your bag. You can take two bags. One can be your carry on size suitcase-be careful to keep it within the parameters designated by the airline. Make your other bag an expandable shopping bag. For women you can put your purse inside this bag. You can also put a brief case inside a larger shopping bag.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.” -Antoine de St. Exupery
Soft Shoes-My favorite travel shoes are Mary Jane looking flats. I have both Keens and recently bought a pair of Campers flats. I can walk miles in these shoes and they pack without taking much room in your suitcase. You can wear a bulkier pair of comfy shoes or boots to the airport. Other comfy flexible shoes that pack well are Toms. I also pack a comfortable pear of walking sandals.
Color coordinate-pack light. Pick a color and coordinate around it so that you can mix and match outfits. I also pack with layers. Vests, skirts, and leggings take up little room but are very versatile wardrobe pieces that can help you interchange outfits.
Chargers and Electronics Accessories–If you are like most people, you will be taking your cell phone and possibly a camera. Chargers are very important. I keep a small accessory bag for electronic chargers and accessories. If you go to a country outside the United States you will need electric outlet adapters. We have a kit that has a variety of adapters for a variety of countries.
Download tourist books-We went to Paris this fall and I really wanted to take several tourist guides. Some of them were small books that could easily be packed, but one that I thought would be especially useful was Rick Steve’s Paris. This book is over 3000 pages. Not a practical pack on. I purchased the book on I-books and it was downloaded to my I-phone and I-Pad. Voila-Rick could go with us easily as we traversed the streets and museums of Paris.
Prepack toiletries– Have two of everything so you can have most of your toiletries in your suitcase ready to go. Travel size toothpaste, hair gel, and moisturizer, packed with a new toothbrush. That way you don’t have to throw in toiletries at the last minute.
Medication and Supplements are trickier. What I do is sort my vitamins and put enough in a container for the days I will be gone. If you take daily medication, do the same. Pack enough of your daily meds for the days you will be away. Also have a copy of your prescription, in case you run out of medication or lose some pills.
I take Metamucil every day and while I was on a vacation in Germany, I dropped my whole container of Metamucil on the bathroom floor of the bed and breakfast. Trying to find Metamucil or the equivalent in Germany was tough. Finally I did find psyllium powder in a German pharmacia, so my recommendation is to take extra.
Glasses. Make sure you have both your regular glasses and a pair of sunglasses.
Travel documents –make copies of all your important documents and leave a copy with someone back home. Pack a copy.
Plastic bags-Put extra bags in your suitcase. I pack both quart size and travel size zip lock bags. You can use these bags for snacks, packed liquids, and the bigger bags are good for shoes, and for smaller dirty items.
Umbrella–Always pack a compact size umbrella. This way the weather will not get in the way of your plans
Returning Home and Unpacking-Take your time
When the vacation is over, it can be depressing to unpack. Don’t rush. Give yourself time to unpack and wash and put away your clothes. If you plan to travel again soon, start thinking of what you need for your next trip and start your list.
So often we look outside ourselves to find out who we truly are on the inside. We look for gurus, models, mentors, more experienced or more self-confident people who have more guts than we do to tell us what we need to do to get life right. Oprah Winfrey, Eckart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, and other popular gurus are put on pedestals, and yet, they are simply people who have stopped asking for permission to be who they are and now use their power to influence our decisions on how to live.
I do this a lot. I keep looking for the right book to tell me how to go forward-what to do next-how to tell my story. I recently spoke with a book editor/publisher who said-“stop listening to everyone else. You have a story. Only you will know how to tell it.”
Spell the word guru, and you have Gee You Are You. The greatest gurus point you back to yourself. Although there are billions of people, there is only one you and yet we are all connected. Sometimes it is helpful to seek advice or ask for guidance along the journey, because of this connectedness we sometimes need an outside opinion. But then it is important to do an inner check and see if it fits for us. Eventually, you have to listen to your inner voice. That’s the key.
I used to teach this in my yoga classes. I never wanted to be looked at as a guru or all-wise teacher. I taught what I wanted to learn-what I needed to hear. I had followed someone as my guru, and it almost took me took me away from the life I think ( I hope) – do you hear the self-doubt?) I was meant to lead.
Authenticity is hard to find when there are so many of us influenced by outside sources. I loved a little cartoon I saw recently where the first cell is beginning to divide, and now there are almost two and the one nucleus, the center of the cell, says to the other – It’s not you. It’s me. Who is it then? Is it Oprah or you? Is it you or your guru? Who are you? Pretend for a moment that there is no guide. There is no Oprah. There is no role model. There is no textbook. There is no Bible. There is nothing but you left to guide you.
This is a scary thought but also one that can free you to be yourself. I think we all have an inner Jiminy Cricket or Holy Spirit that guides us. We just need to make room for quiet time, whether it’s meditation, yoga, or simply sitting on a bench in the park. Then listen to what your inner voice is telling you.
Do you have the inner intelligence to move forward and know what to do next? What would you do if the world were up to you? What would you do if no one could tell you what to do? Who are you all by yourself? What would happen if we believed in ourselves and simply followed our hearts and our inner guide?
I feel like I am at a precipice. I am almost ready to tell you my story.
The problem is we don’t know how to listen or who to listen to anymore? I imagine myself waking up and just listening to my own voice and yet I am so full of everyone else’s thoughts and all the books and magazines and helpful hints I read.
I am listening and slowly finding my own voice. The hints I write for you come from my own life and experience.
Why can’t I just think of that or this? Why do I need someone else to tell me something that is right in front of my face?
And so it is with you-take the hints but see what fits in your life. Who are you and who are you meant to be?
It’s self-doubt. We grow up not believing in our own personal power. Our parents often tell us how to be, what to believe in and how to behave. As children, we look to them for advice and approval. We are human beings after all, and we need others to confirm who we are. We look at others for approval.
It is difficult to finally grow up and get in touch with the decision maker in you. I grew up very different than the way my own life has evolved. I hardly could tell my children how to to be or what to believe in. I was growing up with them. I had lost my parent’s approval long ago. As years went on I think they respected my inner growth.
As we grow up we continue to seek advice from books and approval from others. There comes a time when you need to stop reading, seeking, and asking and start believing in your own inner wisdom.
I teach what I want to learn.
You have the power to simply Be YOURSELF!
And so I hope you enjoy the me that shares more and more of my deeper self and story.
DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH
Laughter is a release, a bonding agent, a prescription for health, a weapon and more. When someone laughs at your jokes today-not a polite laugh but an honest-to-goodness “I get you” laugh — it feels like love. (From my daily horoscope)
When was the last time you had a real belly laugh? A laugh where tears are rolling down your face, and your whole body is moving. In that moment you forgot everything around you. This is very healing-very important.
The average adult laughs 17 times a day. Humans are one of the only species that laughs. Have you ever seen your cat or dog laugh? They kind of just look at you like your nuts or maybe wag their tail.
Laughter is the best medicine!! While you’re at the pharmacy picking up your $ 500 worth of drugs or while you’re at the health food store buying mega dollar’s worth of supplements pick up a bottle of humor. At the end of my mother-in-law’s life when she was very sick, her doctor wrote on a prescription pad-Laugh!
The study of laughter is called gelotology. It is actually a science.
What really makes us laugh? There are a number of theories about laughter.
Incongruity theory – Jokes- We anticipate the end, which usually is something stupid, or something illogical –doesn’t fit-or fits in an abnormal way –it’s just funny. Hits us as funny. A good joke can be very clean. Knock knock jokes etc.
Superiority theory– laughing at the expense of someone else or someone’s culture etc. Not really helpful and can just be a cover up for prejudice and anger – not healthy.
Relief theory- Jokes in the middle of tension – just need a humor break in the middle of stressful situations.
Tickling – but you can’t tickle yourself because tickling needs tension and surprise.
Laughter is the rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory, and involuntary response of the body. When someone tells a joke, you need the left brain to analyze the joke, the frontal lobe activates (social emotional response), the right brain helps you “get” the joke, the back of the brain sends nerve signals that make you react.
Damage to any of these areas can prevent someone from having a “sense of humor”.
When you laugh, many things are happening in your body. 15 facial muscles contract. The respiratory system is upset enough to make you gasp. If you laugh hard enough the tear ducts are activated. The mouth opens and closes so you get enough oxygen. The face becomes red and moist from increased circulation. We create all kinds of noises – some dainty and some very loud.
There are two types of sound in laughter – ha ha ha or ho ho ho or both. Laughter Yoga uses these sounds while teaching deep breathing and laughter. It’s wonderfully healing:)
Laughter is contagious.
John Morreal, a philosopher believes that the first time humans laughed was after danger passed and they shared the relief-like wow! That was a close one! Ha ha ha.
It is something we share with others and usually you laugh with others when you trust them and feel like you belong. People are 30 times more likely to laugh in a social setting than when alone.
I was at the book store one day and was reading a book. Across from me was a young woman reading a book and every few pages would burst out laughing as if nobody was around. She made me laugh!! It’s like The Wonky Donkey video -a grandma having the best laugh as she reads the book to her grandson.
We laugh at different things at different ages and get jokes more as we mature.
We laugh at the things that stress us out!
We may not laugh if we don’t get the joke or we don’t find the joke funny or if we just lack a sense of humor.
If the boss laughs you can laugh or if the one in power laughs it is okay to laugh – tribal.
Laughter is sometimes used to cover up anger or sadness or fear. Nervous laughter!! There is laughter in those tears or tears in the laughter. Helps to release emotions. That is why funny movies or comedy clubs are so popular.
There is scientific research that shows that humor reduces stress, increases your ability to tolerate pain or even to forget about chronic pain, and boosts your immune system
In the book, The Anatomy of an Illness , Norman Cousins describes how he healed from his chronic illness by watching funny movies and television skits. Carl Jung believed that all Illness is mental illness and all mental illness is a spiritual disconnection.
Don’t take things so seriously. Anything we take seriously can be made fun of!!!
Laughter decreases stress and stress hormones that cause disease. Increases killer cells that kill cancer and viruses. Can clear the respiratory tract by causing coughing or hiccupping
Laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Lowers blood pressure. Increases vascular flow. Assists in healing.
And when there is no chance of avoiding the end of life, live in the moment. I can remember when my Mom had pancreatic cancer. She was dying but still managed to laugh. We kept her alive with humor, chocolate, high fiber Vitamix smoothies, and a powerful use of denial. We laughed a lot and also shared tears together.
The world is a crazy place. Not one of us will ever be able to figure it all out. We cannot possibly judge because we are limited humans and lack all the facts. All we can do is watch ourselves play our parts in the movie. Grab some popcorn and raisinets and laugh. You would not tear apart the movie screen so don’t take your life so serious. Sit back and observe yourself and your relationship with others.
Figure out what makes you laugh and do it! Read funny books or watch funny movies.
Surround yourself with funny people. Don’t waste your time worrying.
Develop your sense of humor. Be funny. Coco Chanel said – You only have one life to live you might as well be amusing.
Have fun!! Enjoy!! What is preventing you from laughing right now? Whatever it is……
It’s all a silly mad Idea don’t forget to laugh!!!! (A Course in Miracles)
Hiking in Arizona
Looking over Hoover Dam at the Nevada Border
Looking Out from our Cruise
Beautiful and Peaceful Meditation site at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe New Mexico
Steve and Me in Vancouver
Group photon at the Natalie Goldberg Memoir Writing retreat
It’s a snow day here in Mason, Ohio. I love snow days when I have nowhere to go-just the time to catch up around the house, make final travel arrangements and sit here and blog to my readers. I hope you all had a great holiday. Here is our New Year’s letter that I send out in cards. Hope you enjoy it!!
As I reflect on our year, I want to thank you for your cards, letters, and photos. We enjoy hearing from friends and family. Hope your holidays were wonderful.
This was our second full year of retirement, and it has been a joy to be able to sleep in, travel, have time with our kids and grandkids, and all the things we do together and separately.
Steve continues to attend his weekly prayer group (minyan) and the Synagogue. I continue to write and teach my monthly Course in Miracles group. Steve also enjoys working out both physically and socially;) I enjoy taking long walks especially in Sharon Woods with friends. We enjoy watching our shows on Netflix (Breaking Bad, Ozark, and for fun The Marvelous Mrs. Meisel and The Kaminsky Method). Most of all we enjoy our travels-visiting family and friends around the globe. Time is always a commodity but when not in the routine of going to work every day, moments become even more precious, and life’s experiences can be savored.
Some of our most precious moments have been visiting my Godmother Helen and our 100-year-old frien
d Evvy -both in nursing homes. Sadly, Helen died in March, but the memory of our time together while she lived near us will remain.
This year we traveled to Los Angeles in January for a wedding and to visit friends, then to Chicago to babysit our Granddog Jax, while Marcie went with friends to Cancun, Mexico. In February we were in Phoenix for a Bat Mitzvah, and to spend time with a cousin and friends. In March during Spring break, our family embarked on a Caribbean Cruise where in Cozumel, the kids swam with the dolphins, and we explored the shops together.
Following the cruise, we visited Steve’s Aunt Peppy and some old friends in Boca Raton, then drove to Cape Coral to stay with very close friends but unfortunately, all the travel was too much, and Steve was diagnosed with Influenza B the day after we arrived. Thank goodness these friends are like family and made us feel at home – the four of us spent
ten days on Tamiflu and a week of convalescence. I was the only one who did not get the flu. Luckily, they have a beautiful home on the water with lots of separated living space, so we were able to be with each other in a healing environment.
In May, I attended a Natalie Goldberg memoir writing retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Natalie is a practicing Buddhist and the author of Writing Down the Bones and several other books. I enjoyed daily meditation and writing while embracing the sunshine and warmth of Santa Fe.
Later in May, our family all attended our great niece’s Bat Mitsvah in the DC area. Hannah did a great job, and we enjoyed all the festivities of the weekend.
In August our youngest daughter Marcie and I traveled to London and Amsterdam, where we celebrated her 36th birthday. We loved walking London and visiting the many regal sites as well as the Churchill War Rooms, St. Paul’s Cathedral and more. While in London, we got theater tickets to The Book of Mormon, which we both enjoyed. Amsterdam was delightful. We visited the Anne Frank House after taking a guided tour of her neighborhood, which I would highly recommend. We also went to the Van Gogh Museum and enjoyed our hotel with its evening wine and cheese, and a room with floor to ceiling windows we could open to the air of the street and canal views below.
We took another trip to Chicago in September to celebrate my sister’s 60th birthday. She had a great party and being with family is always wonderful.
In October Steve and I took a memorable trip to the Pacific Northwest where we enjoyed our niece in Eugene, Oregon, a Dental buddy of Steve in Portland and a niece in Seattle. We also took the Amtrak train fro
m Seattle and went north to Vancouver, British Columbia where we spent time with our great niece who is a student at UBC and enjoyed the essence of this part of the world. Our Air BnB was across from the water with views of downtown and Stanley Park. While away, we ordered an organic bed in Seattle-so comfy.
Our Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Years holidays were spent here in Cincinnati. Our nephew and niece from Washington DC joined us for Thanksgiving this year which made that holiday extra special-lots to be grateful for.
Love to all and Happy 2019
Mary and Steve