Attending to Gratitude

December 1st, 2019

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, food, and fun!  I am so grateful to all of you – my clients and students. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me over this past year.  You all bring so much joy and learning into my life each and every day.

Last week I was speaking with a client who is working on shifting her negativity bias.  One of her commitments is to write down three gratitude’s every day.  After doing this for a week she said to me, “I feel so silly. My gratitude’s are so insignificant, they feel unimportant and trivial.”

I have heard this reaction before when asking clients to do this assignment.  How easy it is for us to point out, talk about and emphasize the trivial and unimportant negatives in our lives.  We complain about the weather, traffic jams, a disagreement that will soon fade; we are quick to point out and comment on all the minor inconveniences, mishaps and roadblocks we face. 

Why do we find it silly then to mention, emphasize, and even honor those small and yet wonderful things that surround us every day?  A comfy bed, a good book, a smile, a hug, a sunset, a perfect fall day, a delicious meal, a surprise phone call from a friend, an easy commute, a good workout, a hot cup of tea… there are so many mini blessings in each and every day.

Where is your attention?

How amazing would be if we learned (and practiced) to give our full attention to all the simple yet wonderful things that surround us each day?

What were you grateful for over this past weekend? Take a few moments and reflect. Reach out to a family member or friend and let them know how much you appreciated your time with them over the past few days.

As we continue through this holiday season we can focus on the busy, hecticness, or the old conflicts and challenges that seem to surface during the holidays.  Or, we can shift and train our brains for positivity and success.  We can bring our attention and focus on gratitude and appreciation. Where we each choose to direct our attention will expand into our homes, to our communities and to our places of work. Where will you put your attention for this month?

Ten ways to Cultivate and Share Gratitude

  • Notice your negativity bias, take note, then rephrase or refocus by finding gratitude within that moment.
  • Wake up each day and as your feet hit the floor say, “I am grateful for this day ahead, for every opportunity and for every challenge.
  • Write in a gratitude journal at the end of each day.
  • Recognize the efforts of family, friends, and co-workers with a “thank you” or “job well done.”
  • Donate your time or financial support to a charity that speaks to what you are you are grateful for in your own life and know that you are helping to provide that for another.
  • Practice the art of the hand-written thank you note.
  • Write a letter to a family member or friend and share what they have meant to you in your life.
  • Even in the midst of the greatest challenge practice focusing on what you are learning.  What gift or blessing can you find?
  • Social media posts; share something you are grateful for each day throughout the month of December.
  • Take time to meditate each day and practice moment by moment presence to all that is good in your life.

Mindfully Moving Into Fall

August 30th, 2019

The Labor Day Weekend traditionally marks a sharp line between the summer and the fall. As children go back to school and vacations end, we begin to “gear-up” for the season ahead.

Teachers prepare their classrooms, businesses ready for the busy season, and there is even the beginning of holiday preparations as we enter into these few short months of fall. Instead of getting swept away by the change of season, here are eight ways to mindfully create more ease and more tranquility in your life this fall.

Create a daily meditation practice.

You can start with 10 minutes and work up to a 20- or 30-minute practice.  Focus on your breath, a positive intention, or do a body scan. One of my favorite meditations is the Five Senses Meditation, shifting my focus every couple of minutes from one sense to another until I have experienced awareness of each sense.

Walk more. 

Fall, particularly here in the northern United States, is a glorious time of year. Cooler temperatures, sparkling blue skies, and colorful leaves make being outdoors a sensory pleasure.  A daily walk can become a part of your mindfulness practice.

Go to the local farmers market.


Two Meditations to Cultivate Compassion

May 16th, 2019

Loving Kindness Meditation

In the Loving Kindness meditation we practice sending love out into the world.  It is a practice that helps us cultivate compassion.  This meditation is non-judgmental, we send out kindness, love, and good thoughts without concern of whether or not someone deserves or has earned the kindness and love.  We just give, unconditionally. You can simplify the words, the length of practice, and practice this meditation even with very young children.  If you are teaching this meditation to your class, you could have the students design their own Metta (loving-kindness)  phrases to repeat at each stage – what kindness, what good would they like to send out to those around them?  Come to a comfortable seat and relax your hands down into your lap, right handover left with thumbs touching, palms face down on your thighs or back of hands-on thighs first finger and thumb touching.

Imagine a person you love very much, feel your love in heart, in your body and send these words  to them:

May you be safe and protected
May you be free from harm
May you be healthy and strong
May you be physically healthy and free from pain
May you be truly content
May you be deeply peaceful
May you live with ease
May you have acceptance of self and others
May you have abundance in love

Simplified version:
May you be safe
May you be well
May you be happy
May you live with ease

Continue in this manner and imagine:
Friends and Family
Country/Area of the world
A person you are challenged by, in conflict with, holding anger toward

Bring your hands over heart if they are not there and send love to YOURSELF and send the words to yourself.

Stay here in meditation for as long as you need following your breath and feeling peaceful and at ease.

Tonglen Meditation

This is a practice that helps us to cultivate compassion and empathy for those around us who may be suffering, experiencing sorrow or feeling pain. Tonglen is a visualization practice that means “giving and taking.”  We breathe in, taking the suffering, sorrow, or pain in with our breath, and we breathe out compassion and understanding. I use this practice personally and would suggest practicing with students 7th grade and older.

Come to a comfortable seat and begin to connect to your breath. Bring your hands to your heart and say to yourself these words.

  • May I be safe
  • May I be well
  • May I be happy
  • May I live with ease

Now relax your hands down into your lap and picture an image of the person who is suffering standing in front you. Imagine a dark cloud around them that is their suffering sorrow or pain.

As you inhale, imagine breathing in the dark cloud. Breathe in, imagine the cloud becoming a bright, warm light of compassion in your heart.

When you exhale, breathe out the light of compassion to the person you are picturing and imagine the light washing away the suffering, sorrow, or pain.

Continue breathing in the dark cloud, turning it into a light of compassion and then sending the light back to the person in front of you.

When you are ready, come back to your own breath and then send these words to the person.

  • May you be safe
  • May you be well
  • May you be happy
  • May you live with ease

End by bringing your hands back over your heart and repeating to yourself.

  • May I be safe
  • May I be well
  • May I be happy
  • May I live with ease

Stay here in meditation for as long as you need following your breath and feeling peaceful and at ease.