Fully engaging in the Present Moment

 

I hear so many people say they “can’t” meditate, or they don’t have the time to sit down and meditate.  Maybe taking short “qi” breaks to fully engage in the present moment is just enough to calm and focus the mind.  One of my quick meditative breaks happens each morning when I drink my matcha tea.  Before I drink my tea, I engage my senses by finding a patch of grass out front and standing in the early morning sun, allowing my body to soak up the healing early morning rays.  My special matcha bowl is actually a handmade soup bowl I purchased during one of the yearly soup kitchen fundraisers. Just holding it reminds me of the care that went into making this bowl and it makes me aware of just how lucky I am to not have the worry about when my next meal will be.  The matcha tea itself is a special tea that I buy from my favorite tea shop (Tea & Chi in Vero Beach) and I reflect on how special this little shop is and how special the owner, Maria, is.  She taught me how to enjoy this nourishing beverage - how to whisk it to a frothy, warm, earthy drink.  The whisk itself is a marvel - handmade from bamboo.  I think of and am thankful for artisans that still take the time to craft these wonderful little tools.

 

So, I stand outside on my patch of grass and engage my senses, feeling the warmth of the sun penetrating my skin and I am aware of my connection to the energy above me - the vastness of space - the sun, the moon, the stars.  I feel the precious earth beneath my feet and imagine the life of the grass, the insects beneath the grass, the precious soil that nourishes the plants and I am aware of my connection to the earth.  As I quietly listen, I engage in the sounds around me - the birds, the wind in the trees, the squirrels running by me and I am aware of my connection to all living things.  Before I drink the tea, I once again reflect on my good fortune to have this drink and the people responsible for bringing it to me. Then I sip my tea and stand with eyes closed and quiet my mind.  Taking three full breaths, I fully engage in my surroundings.  Then I continue on with the day.

 

This whole process takes only a few minutes, usually about ten minutes - but it can be as little as a a couple of minutes.  Enough time to engage the senses and reflect on the present.  There are many opportunities to engage fully and quiet the mind.  Preparing your meal, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, making the bed, standing in line at the grocery store - all perfect little pockets of time to practice awareness and breath.

 

Take the time to breathe and fully engage in life.  AHHHHH!!

 

As the chi flows

 

Namaste

Janet

The energy of thoughts and words

THE ENERGY (chi) OF THOUGHTS AND WORDS

 

We all know that thoughts and words are energy and can greatly impact our lives and the lives of those around us.  Lately my meditation has made me more aware of my choice of those thoughts and words and exactly what message I want to send out to the universe.  The recent march that took place all around the world is a wonderful example of how we can choose our words to impact change.  We can choose to keep ourselves in the fear “what if” state, or we can choose to enter a yes “what if” state.  I remember reading once that during the Vietnam War, Mother Theresa was asked to join a march to fight against the war.  Her answer was “NO”, she would gladly join a march for Peace, but would not fight against anything.

 

My sister introduced me to “TheKindnessRocksProject”, which can be found on Facebook and Instagram, that promotes writing inspirational messages or words and leaving them around for others to see and be inspired to do the same.  Painting these words and messages on rocks is the most common way to do this and I just love the idea that not only do the words carry energy, but so do the rocks, and when combined the messages feel more solid and more powerful.  I have begun painting my favorite words and phrases on rocks and keeping them in places where I can easily see them and be reminded of and inspired by the power of these words.  

 

Another idea might be to take a blank canvas and write or just scribble these powerful words all over it to imprint messages right onto the canvas and then simply paint a picture, or make a collage over the words so that only you are aware of the underlying importance of this artwork.  Keep it somewhere where you are reminded of these positive affirmations. 

 

What words or messages inspire you?

 

Namaste,

As the chi flows,

Janet

IS IT TIME TO USE THE "GOOD" CHINA?

When our children were young, we began using unbreakable plastic plates and cups and even paper plates.  For some reason, we never got back to using the good plates and silverware and glasses.  As I was cleaning out cabinets and admiring the “good” china just sitting there waiting to be used, I thought, “what am I waiting for”?  Am I waiting for a celebration or party or special guests to drop by?  The days of formal dining are long gone in our household, but does that make us any less important?  With just my husband and me, is it really so hard to hand wash a “special “ plate and cup?  Using the crystal that was meant to be used makes everything, including water, taste better.  Taking baby steps, I have begun using my grandmother’s wonderful tea cups and desert plates of beautiful patterns and designs.  Cloth napkins are another “luxury” I am welcoming into my life.  Obviously more environmentally friendly, but also easy to use, wash and more colorful and fun.  By using the “good stuff”, I’m saying to myself, “you are important and deserving”.  And yes I am still using the everyday dishwasher safe dishes and cups, but I do enjoy treating myself at dinner and tea, and I have made it a habit to use the cloth napkins and crystal water glasses.

 

So, dust off your “special” plates and cups, use the fine crystal and those cloth napkins and treat yourself as that “special” person that you are.   

 

Namaste,

As the chi flows,

 

 

Janet

CHANGE IT UP

My morning routine is pretty much the same every day.  I hear my 5:00am chime (and smile) and then start moving through my day.  Usually, I do some stretching, self acupressure massage and meditation, followed by my qigong/taichi practice.  The length of this practice is determined by my teaching schedule for the day.

 

Predictably on Wednesdays I’m on the beach before sunrise, drawing and walking the labyrinth, practicing my qigong/taichi, and then leading a sunrise qigong class.  Predictable.  Each time I arrive at the beach in the dark, I look forward to perhaps seeing a turtle laying her eggs or maybe even baby turtles making their way from the comfort of the nest deep in the sand to the vastness of the ocean.  I have been fortunate enough to occasionally see a Loggerhead, Green and even a Leatherback laying her eggs over the course of years I have been coming to the beach.  This season, I have not had the pleasure.  I’ve seen turtle tracks and baby turtle tracks, but no turtles (just heads popping up in the ocean).  Predictably, we see the turtle volunteer ride by checking for new nests and hatchings each morning around sunrise.

 

Several days ago I got up and did my usual practice and then decided to head to the beach to continue my practice by doing some qigong walking.  Even though it was later than I usually go and probably hotter than I would like it to be, I went anyway.  At 8:30am the beach was already bustling, mostly with fishermen.  The ocean was quite active with bait fish hopping out of the water, which obviously meant the bigger fish were also there.

 

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this story. I decided to walk south on the beach to get away from the busyness where I could get into the rhythm of my qigong walk without having to constantly step around the fishing poles. Once I got going, the rhythm of the walk and the rhythm of my breath became steady and meditative.  After about 25 minutes I decided to stop at a quiet section of beach and practice my qigong/taichi.  Just as I was finishing my practice, the turtle volunteer came along to inspect a recently hatched nest and dig up the hatched eggs.  She explained she was later than usual because she had slept in.  I watched as she carefully dug up the newly hatched nest from two days ago.  Three baby green turtles popped up and she collected them in her basket.  She explained that she had a few more collected from another nest and she was waiting until nighttime to set them free (too much activity in the ocean during the day).  The baby turtles typically make their way to the ocean at night to avoid being seen by predators.  

 

What a wonderful encounter.  By changing up my routine (and the volunteer changing up her routine) I was finally able to see these beautiful baby turtles at a time when I wouldn’t have normally been on the beach, at a place I normally wouldn’t have stopped.  Oh, and as an added bonus - green lights all the way home!!

 

So, change it up and see what happens!!

 

As the chi flows,

 

 

Janet

COMING BACK TO THE PRESENT

The world renown Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches a wonderful method of coming back to the present moment with the use of temple bells.  Every time you hear the bell, you stop talking, stop thinking and return to yourself, breathing in and out and smiling.  Whatever you are doing, you pause for a moment and just enjoy the breath and your surroundings.  He suggests maybe reciting something similar to this verse:

    Listen, listen.

    This wonderful sound brings me back to myself.

 

There are no temple bells near me, but I just recently found a new phone app called the hourly chime.  I set it to chime every hour on the hour starting at 5:00am and ending at 9:00pm.  It chimes just once on the hour.  I have come to really enjoy hearing this chime and it helps me reset.  I take one to three full breaths, smile, and come back to the present moment.  Every morning, even if I am not planning to get up at 5:00am, it’s a gentle reminder to start the day mindfully and with a smile on my face.  During my early morning meditation I usually set an intention for the day.  This hourly signal brings me back to my intention of the day and gives me another opportunity to live in the present moment.  I recently visited my sister and shared with her this app and my new practice.  She put it on her phone and is enjoying it as well.  The added bonus to this is that even though we are miles apart, I know that when my chime signals me, it is also signaling her and I smile imagining her smile.   I invite you to join us in the present moment and smile!

 

Such a quick and simple gesture, yet so profound in its results.

 

Namaste

As the chi flows,

Janet

Heart Song

What makes your heart sing?  A smile? A shared laugh?  A hug?  Or perhaps just a kind word or gesture.  A simple thank you.  In one of my recent qigong classes we were discussing how qigong is more than just an exercise, but also a way of living.  Qi (chi) is everywhere and everything.  We are connected to this wonderful chi, or energy, all around us.  As we were talking about sharing our energy, someone mentioned how lovingly her dogs responded to her personal touch and how those animals in turn made her heart sing.  What a perfect way of expressing how we feel when we are in touch with our energy and the energy around us and allow our hearts to open in such a special way.  

In my next class at the Alzheimer's/Parkinson's Center, a wonderful woman with a beautiful smile shyly shared a Hawaiian song and hula with us before class and I thanked her for making my heart sing.  The whole class seemed to respond in the same way,

There are so many ways to make our hearts sing.  Smiling and making eye contact with all we meet and seeing the response is one way.   Watching and appreciating a sunrise or sunset is another way.  The love we share with family and friends makes our hearts sing.  Every thought, every breath we take can make our hearts sing, if we just let it.

As I reflect on my wonderful day, my heart is still singing.  What makes your heart sing?  And what can we all do to make someone else's heart sing?  Let all our hearts sing together as one.

Namaste

As the chi flows,

Janet

LABYRINTH WALKING

 

 

Besides practicing my qigong at sunrise on the beach, drawing and walking a labyrinth is one of my favorite ways to start the day. 

 

Making a labyrinth on the beach and then mindfully walking it is a wonderful way to connect with the energy around me. Just the act of drawing the labyrinth in the sand is therapeutic and grounding. Feeling the sand beneath my feet and the back and forth motion of the pattern I am drawing balances and calms my mind. When the labyrinth is finished, I take a brief moment to enjoy the simple beauty of it and its connection to its surroundings, the beach, the ocean, etc. I then usually set an intention for my walk and start my journey to the center. Sometimes I walk with no intent in mind, just finding my way to the center.  Sometimes I move slowly repeating a mantra that comes to mind. Sometimes as I travel inward, my mind may wander and I bring it back to the breath and the flow of the walk. Once at the center, I pause and reflect, taking in the surroundings. I then head out of the circle. My mantra may change during the course of my walk.   Once finished, I may take the time to reflect and take in the beauty of the day. I then thank the beach for the gift of the labyrinth and I offer it to everyone who wishes to walk upon it after me and the ocean that will soon swallow it up. 

 

As the chi flows,