Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Last week I had spent time taking care of myself, recouping after a surprising bout with the flu. It came on rather unexpectedly and lingered far longer than I thought it would. But what became a far more interesting meditation was that I was not only nursing my physical symptoms, but my mental symptoms as well. Those included a resistance to letting go, an anxiety about not going to work, a fear that I would not get everything done in time for the holidays, and a feeling that I was letting down those who depended on me. It was a battle of wills. The flu would not let me rest until I began to release my clutch. And when I finally began to slow down again, stop, and give up the reins for a while, I was offered the rest that my body and mind needed. I slept and I drank hot teas. I re-scheduled a holiday weekend getaway. I stayed home from work a few days. I worried less about work because I really had no choice. My physical body was insistent. And it was finally then that my body began to have the space to heal.

It is possible to perceive setbacks and illnesses as lessons in disguise. They offer us reminders that something in our lives is not working and that we ought to stop and take a pause and see what that might be. The body will often speak up for what the mind and spirit may choose to ignore. It is important that we listen to what it has to say. If we don’t, the body will begin to speak more strongly. The body asks us to periodically review our habits or how we are going about dealing with life issues. The body speaks to us about unresolved problems or the attention that we may be putting on work or the rush of the holidays. It may remind us that we are in need of a re-fueling and a re-focus. Too often for many of us, that won’t happen unless the body really speaks up and demands that we listen. When our bodies begin to display evidence of illness or fatigue, it is wise to pause and listen. A brief meditation or body scan can reveal imbalances which we were ignoring or didn’t realize we had. It offers the opportunity to take new steps to better take care of ourselves.

What conversation is your body having with you today? Is it achy, fatigued, or tense? Is it on hyper mode? Is your body congested, dry, or itchy? Are you sleeping all the time or finding it hard to sleep at all? Does your body have a fever or chills? Are you feeding your body its cravings or are you not hungry at all? Really tune in and listen. Begin with your toes and scan up the front of your body and down the back. Go slowly and cover every inch. Be aware of the movement of energy in different parts of the body. Where is the energy stagnant? What part of your body is yearning for attention? This may be done by lying down on your mat or by sitting. Pay attention. You may be surprised at what you find.

The body is a miraculous teacher. It is honest and direct. Sending physical clues before an illness may strike is the body’s way of saying, “I need your help. Please listen.” Notice.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Season of Gift Giving

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it appears that the season of shopping has begun. For many, this may signify spending extended hours at the mall searching for those “perfect” gifts. Crowds, noise, traffic, and multi-level sensory distractions of flickering lights and non-stop music can create physical and mental symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. Grabbing quick meals on the go can further aggravate health and contribute to a variety of stress-related illnesses. Are you on this yearly cycle? If so, consider making a few of the following changes to your shopping experience.
Offer gifts of the heart. The gifts of forgiveness and gratitude are timeless. Create a hand-written note to take the first step in patching up a squabble or pen a thank you note of deep appreciation to someone who brings special light into your life. Regardless of the reasons, a heartfelt letter is cathartic for the writer and uniquely special for the receiver. Wrap the letter in a box and place it under the tree or mail it in a specially selected card. Is there an experience that you and a loved one shared this year that had been captured in a photo? Frame the picture and attach a letter letting the person know why sharing that moment was so special. Let us all take the time to let those we love know how we feel about them.
Give the gift of time. Is there someone you have wanted to spend some quality time with, but obligations have gotten in the way? Select an event that you both could share (a show, a concert, a dinner, a breakfast) and then enjoy the special moments and memories.
Honor your loved one with a donation in his/her name. Is there a cause that your loved one is passionate about (environmental, children, health, women, food)? Find an organization that represents the values of that special person and share that value with those who urgently need it in the world.
Reconnect with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. An e-mail or text is easier, but a conversation by phone has a way of making connections more meaningful. Remember one person a day and make those connections during the month of December. Is there a cousin, nephew, or friend that you have been meaning to call? Now is the time.
Does someone you know need encouragement? Make a wish jar. Include pieces of colorful paper, each with a special wish for that person for the coming year. Love, peace, tranquillity, hope, and faith are just some of the wish tokens that could be included in the jar.
Offer the gift of listening and a comforting hand. This year’s holidays may not be easy for some people. Do you know someone who has experienced a family death, personal hardship or is alone this year? A thinking of you note or baking a banana bread and sharing a cup of tea may be the greatest gift that you could offer this year.
Take the time to breathe. Your breath is your anchor. Honor it with gratitude. Take care of yourself by pausing frequently throughout the season and returning to a quieter place. Offer yourself a sense of calmness.
The best gifts are not found at the mall or the outlet stores. They are found in the openness of our hearts, the peace in our minds, and the warmth of our hands.

Monday, November 22, 2010


When I think about what I am grateful for, the first things that quickly come to mind are my health, my family, and my friends. I have been blessed with many wonderful people and things in my life and for that, I am happy. Recently, however, I have been ruminating on the following question: is it only possible to be grateful when my life seems to be going well and I am surrounded by the people and things that I love? What will happen when these people and things leave or change as they may in the course of a lived life? Will it not be possible to feel grateful any longer? Life transitions are inevitable. If I say that I am grateful for my health, my family, and my friends and one day they are no longer there, do I suddenly shift into feeling ungrateful?
The practice of gratitude can be a transformational life experience. It is especially potent when there appears to be nothing to be grateful for and life is taking us down “one of those roads” again. Or when we forget that the best things are sometimes the smallest. We have all traveled down those paths. Yet, it is at precisely those kinds of moments that the practice of gratitude is essential, and even critical. When the obvious is no longer visible, can we begin to see with microscopic lenses? What are the littlest, most minute things that we may appreciate in the course of a day? The practice then becomes to take a seemingly negative experience and convert it to an object of gratitude. Allow me to share some of my reflections of today.
My little dog is not feeling well and today she is going to the vet. I am worried and upset that she is not well, but through a shift in perspective, focus my attention on the fact that she is being seen by a doctor today. And suddenly I feel grateful. I begin to focus on the less evident appreciations of the day and inevitably, my list begins to grow: a comforting mug of hot tea, colorful socks that put a smile on my face when I put them on, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet, the sunshine of today’s November day, a genuine compliment from a stranger, the trust of a friend, last night’s full moon, a hot, morning shower, the ability to drive and take myself where I need/want to go, witnessing an “aha” moment on a student’s face today, coming home from work while it is still light out. It doesn’t matter that some things really did not work out well today. And they didn’t. But, when I stop to re-read the little moments of joy I experienced today, a small smile quietly appears on my face where there was a frown a moment ago. And that is it. Gratitude is an attitude and if I change mine, suddenly the world appears different and the possibility of a grateful day is…well… possible.
The practice of gratitude can be a momentary pause in meditation at the end of the day or the observation of appreciations in a little gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is simply that- a “noticing” at the end of the day of those things that made our lives positive. Some days we may find that there are fifty things on our list. Other days, we may have really had to dig deep to find only one. The practice of gratitude has been shown to relieve stress and boost immunity. And simply help us feel good. Why not begin a gratitude journal today?
I wish you all a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. And may you find the little joys that have made your day a good one today.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I recently read that instructions for living through the next few months should be simple. Winter is approaching and nature tells us that it is natural to slow down and become quiet and introspective. Yet, as we approach the holiday season, it seems that for many of us, the exact opposite becomes true. Our daily to-do lists begin to become filled with frenetic shopping for holiday foods and gifts, rushing to meet deadlines, overextending our social commitments, skipping regular meals, and perhaps taking in those extra cups of coffee just to keep up the pace. It is no wonder that by the time the holidays do arrive, we are drained, tired, and cranky. We have overworked ourselves into such a state that we have lost our opportunity to enjoy and relax into the quiet and tranquil season of winter.
As the season of winter approaches, please join me in initiating a to-do list makeover. Allow your body, mind, and spirit to naturally follow the inclinations of their natural winter states. Here are a few suggestions that may get you started on resetting your winter buttons:

1. Rest more- Although we may feel that we don’t have the time to take brief pauses in our day, rest is imperative. A short, daily cat –nap, 10 minutes of viparita karani (legs up the wall), or stopping to drink a hot, soothing cup of tea are all simple and manageable techniques that can greatly benefit and refuel our energy reserves. It is interesting to note that the idea of a coffee or tea “to go” is relatively unknown in many other countries. Stop, breathe, and enjoy.
2. Prepare and eat warm, nourishing meals- Winter gently reminds us that comforting, warm foods allow our bodies to sustain the cold weather season. Preparing warm oatmeal, hot soups, and stews are wonderful antidotes during the cold and flu season. Making big batches of soups can also free up time during the rest of the week. Set the ambiance. Enjoy selecting fresh ingredients. Play soothing music. Become mindful during food preparation. Notice the chopping, stirring, and aromas. Resist answering/talking on the phone or checking your e-mail while cooking and eating. Eat your meals with a grateful heart.
3. Practice yoga- Sometimes, the colder season makes us feel like not doing much of anything physically. The good news is that winter is yin season which can mean a quieter, softer practice. Poses may be held for longer periods of time and stretches are gentler and more restorative. Continuing to practice our yoga and gentle movements during these long, dark months benefit, not only our bodies, but our states of mind. Breathe and allow the practice of yoga to nurture and sustain your body, mind, and spirit throughout the season.
4. Enjoy winter’s nature- Don’t let the cold keep you indoors for the next few months! Go outside and enjoy the beauty of the season! There are many winter days that are perfect for walks in nature. Have you recently visited Morton’s Bird Sanctuary in Sag Harbor where sweet, little birds will land in the palm of your hand with the promise of a seed? Or the ocean or bay on a sunny afternoon? How about an evening walk with the brilliance of a thousand stars above or a stroll through freshly fallen snow? A connection with nature can reset our winter buttons and freshen our perspective on the season. Practice this regularly to keep your body and soul connected to the earth.
5. Go inward- Winter is often considered the most reflective time of year. Consider getting in touch with feelings and thoughts through the practice of journaling. Or begin to sit for meditation for 5-10 minutes everyday. Why not melt away the day with a warm bath before bed? Noticing our thoughts and feelings and allowing them to pass through us can improve our attitudes and our spirits and allow us to move through this season with a lightness of being and a warm heart.

Re-choosing how to enter this season has become an exploratory exercise in self-inquiry. I am suddenly looking forward to my re-vamped to-do list. So, I ask you, what does your to-do list make-over look like?

Wishing you an abundance of blessings this winter season. Namaste!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Does Your Yoga Practice Mean To You?

What is this practice of yoga? The reasons why we originally came to our mats are diverse and different for everyone. I can hardly remember why I began practicing yoga- it's as if yoga has now always been an integral part of my life. Through the years, this practice has evolved from a completely physical practice to a practice of body, mind, and spirit integration, which is still in progress. My increased physical flexibility has been a stepping stone to increased mental flexibility. Learning to breathe again (how did I survive all those years without breathing properly?!) has created a foundation for physical, mental, and spiritual well-being to which I may return over and over again. When I come back to my mat again and again, I feel a sense of peace and relief. The lessons that I learn about myself on my mat travel with me off the mat. The practice of yoga has supported me through the many different situations of my life. I have come to learn that yoga practice is more than just "doing" poses and relaxing. It has become a daily practice and a way of living.

I'm interested in listening to your thoughts. Let's begin a conversation of sharing. Why did you begin the practice of yoga? What does yoga mean to you? Thank you for sharing!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Welcome to Soul Archeology, a blog post site designed to explore Life and the practice of Yoga. It is my intention that this will become a place to share thoughts, questions and ideas with each other, thus initiating conversation. I encourage you to respond to any of the writings here by posting comments.

Thank you for checking in on Soul Archeology! Please check back again this weekend- new posting in development!