Archive for category: New Age

Can’t Sit Still? 7 Simple Tricks for Slowing & Centering

Categories: Adventure, Buddhist Practice, Conscious Living, Meditation, Mindfulness, New Age, Psychology, Self-Improvement, Spiritual, Yoga - Tags: ,

Welcome to Our World In The Fast Lane.  How many of us are caught up in what Wordsworth so sapiently described in an earlier, ostensibly simpler time, “Getting and Spending….” and he added, “We lay waste our powers.”   It is so easy to get caught, or hooked by the rush of deadlines, the press of demands of job, children, housekeeping, driving, financial insecurity, even keeping up on the internet.

But clearly, we know there is a better way–we need to find that off ramp to serenity and calm.  So, here are seven simple tricks I have learned as both a Buddhist mindfulness practitioner, and a clinical psychologist, that are sure ways to find that sweet off ramp to calm in the midst of storm.

They are so simple and so available that we can practice them easily in our everyday life.

The first one I learned from a wise old nun in a monastery.  Every morning she wakes in her cold cell before dawn and is called by a bell to meditate.  In order to come into the present moment and into centered awareness, on awakening, for just a moment before arising, she pulls on her earlobes.

1) PULL ON YOUR EARLOBES , Massage your ears ON AWAKENING.  This simple action where we have lots of nerve endings both wakes us up to the present moment, it also awakens our consciousness to the intention to be present to the new day.

2) HAPPINESS BEGINS WITH YOUR LOVELY SMILE.  The Second is one of many I learned from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. When you wake up, and you stand before the sink to wash your face in the morning, SMILE at yourself in the mirror.  Really SMILE.This is a brilliant trick to practice throughout the day.  Just stopping to smile to yourself, to feel your facial muscles move from tense to relaxed and smiling is a wonderful pathway to present centering.

3) FACE WASHING:  Smiling, turn on the water in the sink and notice how extraordinary it is that this fresh clear water streams from our pipes, whether we are living in a backwoods cabin, a high-rise in the East, Middle or West, or a suburban motor home or house, this precious water flows for us and is available for us to WAKE UP–and refresh our faces==shaving, washing, whatever, an opportunity for gratitude practice!

4) TOOTHBRUSHING MEDITATION.  I have a timer on my electric toothbrush.  What a golden opportunity to practice mindfulness meditation.  Here we are, earlobes pulled, refreshingly present, we’ve smiled at ourselves, and now we are going to enjoy the refreshing zip of cool water, minty toothpaste in our mouth, and an opportunity to polish those amazing tools we rarely send our gratitude to, our TEETH!

5) During the day take time out to practice THREE DEEP, CLEANSING BREATHS.  This can be at your desk, at your workstation, in your car, wherever.  Just promise yourself that when you find yourself amped up, anxious, preoccupied, pressured, whatever, you will STOP, BREATHE DEEPY THREE TIMES.    Here is a lovely mantra to accompany your in and out breath:

“Breathe in, I bring calm to my body.  As I breathe out, I smile.  I am alive in this present moment.  This moment is wonderful!”

You may not think this particular moment in rush hour traffic or on a deadline or beset with the demands of children or boss, is “wonderful” but when you stop to think of it, it IS!! You are alive, you are here, you are present.  This mantra brings you back to the present moment. Whatever is going on within it. you are here , alive, and this too shall pass!

This is the CORE practice of these seven simple tricks.  Never forget it.  It is golden.  it is free!

6) STAND UP STRETCH, UP, DOWN, AROUND, RECONNECT WITH YOUR BODY. This is another key yogi trick for slowing and centering.  It is so easy to carry tension in our bodies without offering our precious bodies an opportunity to relieve their stress.

7) STEP OUTSIDE AND LOOK AROUND–No matter where you are, walk mindfully, periodically from whatever you are doing, to go outside, breathe the air–is it icy?  hot? humid? fresh? Let it into your lungs, let your breath become conscious and present, and celebrate the timelessness of the sky and the clouds and your surroundings. And don’t forget to practice tricks number 5 and 6 while you are at it.
I guarantee, if you practice these seven simple tricks on a daily basis, you will notice a palpable change toward centering and slowing and rejoining this precious present moment!

 

The Zen of Book Marketing: 10 Ways To Succeed Without Losing Your Mind !

Categories: Buddhist Practice, Conscious Living, Health and Fitness, Meditation, Mindfulness, New Age, Personal Growth, Self-Improvement, Women's, Writing - Tags: , , ,

Are you like me?  You’ve always loved writing.  You dove into writing your book with relish, like a kid diving off the dock at summer camp.  It’s been a joy, a practice, a discipline and a relatively private exercise.

But then, the book is finished, and you’ve entered into a whole different realm.  Let’s say you’ve already crossed the publishing Rubicom—whether you are self-published or picked up by a publishing house.  You may have a PR firm behind you as well. But we all know that these days, marketing your book, ultimately falls upon your shoulders.

Marketing and sales are as far from the reclusive sanctuary of the writer, your head may spin, leaving you feeling flummoxed, conflicted, crazed, and overwhelmed.  I have certainly felt that way.  But I have both my 35 years of psychoanalytic practice and my Buddhist practice to draw on and share with you.

Harriet Wrye Enjoying One of MANY Book Signings on a Book Tour

So here are ten ways I have found to undertake book marketing without losing my center.  They all relate to:

a)             CREATING A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT TO CARRY OUT YOUR PLAN;

b)             SETTING REALISTIC FINANCIAL AND TIME PARAMETERS FOR YOUR GOALS; and

c)              PRACTICING MINDFULNESS THROUGHOUT.

 

1)  First, reflect deeply on your intention.  Did you write this book primarily for your own satisfaction, or did you write it with the intent of seeing it widely read?  Unless your answer is the latter, stop worrying about marketing. If you wrote it to be widely read, keep that intention in the forefront of your mind throughout the marketing journey.

2)  Second, consider your support system.  What resources do you have or can you turn to to help you establish a game plan for marketing your book? Do you have a publisher and or a PR team helping you with your game plan?  If you do, make sure the plan makes sense to you and that you are clear about being on board with it.

3)  If you do not have a professional support team, what are your own resources?  How much time and money are you comfortable with allotting to the project of book promotion?  Develop a timeline and a budget that you can live with.

4)  Whether you are on your own or have PR support, you will need a good web site; you will also need a strong social media presence.  That means in addition to your personal Facebook page, you need a page for your book and you need to attract people to like your page; you need a twitter account to draw more followers.  You will also benefit from joining discussions on Linked in groups related to your area of interest, and sharing images and updates on Pinterest.  Another great site to create a writer’s presence is Goodreads. And finally, to enhance your web page and your online presence, consider doing what you love best, WRITING—how about writing a blog!?

The entry into social media can be very daunting to those writers of us “of a certain age” and may be the most challenging to your equanimity.   More support to follow.

5)  Consider taking courses to support you in web design, book marketing and social media.  I took a very helpful course at my local community college on book marketing and also found a great weekend course on keeping up with social media for marketing, offered by a “social media guru” through my local chamber of commerce.  I also met other people in my community to create a mini support group.

6)  In addition, look for online courses that can help you with marketing.  Informally joining support groups with others who are on the same path in these contexts can help immensely in maintaining your sanity!  For example, I have found Beth Hayden (www.bloggingwithbeth) enormously supportive and helpful in creating a successful blog presence.

Beth's Blogging Byte
eters and established your support group(s), you are ready to go!  Now comes the mindfulness practice part of your journey.  Remember the intention you set at the outset?  You want to engage in marketing your book as a practice of living engaged fully in the present moment, setting aside attachments to future outcomes and worries about your performance in the past, living equanimously in the present.  This practice can be summed up with the simple but powerful mantra: “BE HERE NOW”

8)  Make sure you frame it for yourself in a way that is fully syntonic with your personal values and ethos.  Many people find themselves very conflicted about “selling” as if they felt they were icky snake oil salesmen at a traveling circus.  As a Buddhist practitioner devoted to “Right Livlihood” and “Speaking Only Truth” I had my own initial conflicts about selling my book, PULLING UP STAKES; STEPPING INTO FREEDOM (www.pullingupstakesbook.com).  But then I realized that the book itself is an act of mindfulness, it traces a journey of gaining wisdom and insight and learning how to “let go” and live more mindfully.  So, because it is about surmounting some of life’s greatest challenges with equanimity, it is an inspiring offering. If your book is a genuine offering that you believe will benefit, illuminate, inspire and or entertain readers, and not some kind of snake oil scam, then you need to keep reminding yourself that you are offing merit not compromising your core values or behaving like a sleaze!

9)  Approach your book tour with gusto.  “This is going to be an adventure!  I’m going to have an opportunity to talk with new people about something I really care about.  My book is my baby and I’m privileged to be able to find people interested in hearing about it!”

10)  Engage in your daily routine at your computer doing your due diligence on your social media sites as a mindfulness practice!  Rather than seeing it as an odious chore, consider it as an opportunity for practicing mindfulness.  Pay attention to your posture, sitting comfortably, breathing consciously, communicating openly with your book’s potential audience as a privilege not a task.  Remember you are offering something of value, something from your heart and soul, it is an offering.

If you, like me, are a writer, “of a certain age” consider that learning all these new tools is like studying Chinese—it keeps the old brain active and engaged!  Ponce de Leon, Here We Come! Practice smiling meditation sitting there at your desk.  I do.

 

Follow Harriet Wrye’s Blog, “Madly, Kindly, Truly” at her book website: www.pullingupstakesbook.com

Catch both her zany and her meditative videos on

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwMho7Ez8Iyon6qLtWz8zJw?feature=mhee

And “Like” her book’s Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pulling-Up-Stakes-Stepping-Into-Freedom/

 

The Zen of Travel Packing: 5 Tips on Filling Your Duffel Sans Losing Your Mind

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Buddhist Practice, Conscious Living, Meditation, Mindfulness, New Age, Pets, Self-Improvement, Spiritual, Travel - Tags: , , , ,

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy……”Summertime”–Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong…  iframe>   but then sometimes, as we’re getting ready to take of into the great beyond for that long dreamed of summer vacation, it can be pretty nerve-wracking.  There’s so much to remember, plan for, think of.  It can leave us, as my world-traveling cousin likes to say, “Sometimes I feel I’m spinning like a hamster on a wheel with my hair on fire.”  Not even close to a zen image. Andale! Turbo Hamster

GETTING READY FOR A TRIP?

We Need All the Help We Can Get Packing for Our Trip!

 

OK, so how about approaching this task of packing from a different energy bank?  In our three year sabbatical of traveling around the world, my husband Jim and I have packed and unpacked so many duffels I couldn’t begin to count them.  And, I am happy to say, I have learned a LOT about how NOT to do it, and how to do it so it doesn’t make you crazy.  I’m happy to share some tips with you.

 

  1. First, don’t leave your packing to the last minute.  Last minute packing is inevitably harried and fraught with anxiety.  Consider that packing can actually be an enjoyable entre into your vacation.
  2. Second, make a list of what you’ll need.  I love and rely on my lists.  I have a generic shopping list on my computer with my usual haunts for groceries (Trader Joe’s, Costco, Shopper’s Corner etc) and categories to remind me of things I might forget—butter, eggs, yogurt, etc.  I have also created a checklist on my computer for travel packing.  It includes dop kit, cosmetics, underwear, socks, shoes, daytime outfits, evening wear, rain gear, umbrella, jacket/coats, jewelry, reading material, laptop, medicines, special gear (skiis, hiking poles, bike clothes, etc) plus reminders to change my outgoing office message, emergency contact info, etc

If you are going on an organized adventure travel trip, you will probably be given some packing tips.  Pay attention to them.  They know what they’re doing.

  1. Weed out everything non-essential. Whenever possible, take the lightest most easily packable and washable version of what you need.  Remember, you’ll be travelling, keep it simple. When you are schlepping your bag in and out of airports, buses, trains, etc. you will be so grateful that you didn’t bring that bulky coat, or those heavy shoes or that extra outfit.
  2. Take an extra, empty, folded up lightweight carrying bag if you think you might be “collecting” treasures to bring home.  Also, consider, if you are going to a third world country where people may need things you could donate, that you might even lighten up as you go along.
  3. Finally, allow time AFTER your bag is packed and before you get into the car, or the cab or whatever conveyance will take you on your dream vacation.  SIT DOWN and BREATHE.  If you do, your departure will be infinitely calmer and more enjoyable, and if indeed there IS something you forgot (say, the airline tickets) you have time to calmly retrieve them and still keep your smile and your equanimity.

And on the subject of leaving plenty of time, DO leave plenty of time with that mindfully packed duffel if you are taking public transport, to get to the airport, deal with traffic delays, go through security, etc.  Breathe…….Smile…….Enjoy…..

Prometheus Chained On a Blorock

Categories: Conscious Living, New Age, Personal Growth, Psychology - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro!  Got gazillions of initials after my name, managed to make  soufflés rise and even found my kid’s kindergarten’s runaway bunny that time we bunny sat him over the Valentine’s weekend.  But this is way HARDER!  I feel dumb, antideluvian and crippled, sometimes completely overwhelmed by this social media project.  Anybody else out there ever identify with me on this?

I love to write.  That’s not the problem.  I love to communicate with friends. The problem is I was just born too many decades too soon to believe I’ll EVER feel at home tweeting and posting and linking.  It’s humiliating.  I remember back in the day when I bought my first answering machine and my dad (probably my age as I am now) was so flummoxed whenever he’d call and instead of a live person got that “newfangled piece of…”, that he’d just shudder into the phone, take a huge end-of -the-world sigh and thrash the receiver into the cradle.

And here I am, shuddering and whining and ready to toss my mouse.  I feel like Prometheus Bound, chained upon a rock, doomed to perpetual angst in an unending time warp.  Not that I’ve brought anything like fire to mankind, but chained to the rock resonates for me today, trying to figure out how to swim into the 21st century of social networking.  I’ve made a vow to join the world and learn this stuff.  But my computer is scaring me, like Pandora unleashing a box of undecipherable cyber evils .

                                          

Hmmm, I may feel chained to my rock but I just realized…Wow! it’s a great relief to be able to vent in a blog rant.  Maybe I’ll even hear back from some empathic readers.  That would be encouraging to learn I’m not alone here. Now, will I ever be able to figure out how to send this out into cyberspace!?

Greeting the Day

Categories: Health and Fitness, New Age, Spiritual, Women's

Greeting the Day

One of my favorite practices with a community of like minded souls, is Anusara Yoga at Esalen—-

 We’re settling in for summer at Twin Brooks. The stream that nearly drowned Jullay in the dark of night last week is brimmingly beautiful by daylight, its gurgling sound can be heard throughout the house.  The leaves are budding out on all the trees, dogwoods are resplendent in bloom as well as the lilac planted by grandmother Jessie Kennedy, the rhododendruns planted by mother, Martha Prescott Kimble, and the wisteria planted by my son, Gabriel. This is my ancestral land—In 1880 Great Grandfather Prescott established his lumber mill here and now, six generations later, we gather on this beautiful Sierra Nevada timber land in the refurbished original cabin between two streams that has lovingly become “Twin Brooks.”   Fourth of July week will be the gathering of the clan—Our annual  summer “Monster Rally”—my sister Janet and her children and grandchildren, and Jim and me and our children and grandchildren.

But for now, it is blissfully quiet. I take this opportunity to take a solo early morning meditation hike up the mountain behind the cabin to my yoga platform at the top of Echo Rock to greet the day with chanting and yoga. Bringing my  “inner yoga sangha” with me in my mind, I begin sun salutations.    From my yoga platform perch I can gaze across the expansive granite outcropping of Echo Rock, across the heavily timbered valley where the old millyard lies, over to the buttes of Mineral King, and beyond the closest ridges where Yosemite lies to the north and Sequoia to the south.  With each vinyassa, I feel the flow of energy from timeless nature, and the first peoples whose grinding holes near the yoga platform bear silent testimony to their presence on this land long before my great grandfather’s arrival. Good Morning!

When I practice alone, I often listen to my Esalen Yoga tapes to reconnect me with my yoga sangha, gathered here in a circle of upturned toes.

Chalk Mountain | High on Horseback

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Conscious Living, Health and Fitness, New Age, Self-Improvement, Spiritual, Travel - Tags: , , ,

I hear the horses’ heavy breathing and feel the powerful thrust of Shambhala’s strong hindquarters beneath me moving us upward along the narrow rarely used trail.  We are climbing a switchback through the redwoods up the spine of a steep mountain in Big Basin in the Santa Cruz Mountains north of Ano Nuevo State Park.  Every so often, we have to slide off our horses onto the ledge to navigate our way on foot under or around a fallen tree or limb.  I doubt that Jim, who was thrilled to find this trail on a hike last week, really realized how challenging it would be to do on horseback, primarily because it is so narrow and the drop off so sheer.  But it is Mother’s Day Weekend and as a gift he has agreed to show me the way to Chalk Mountain and the extraordinary overlook it provides of the entire sweep of the Monterey Bay.

I am thrilled with this gift as it really comes from the heart.  Jim does not share my passion for horses, but with this gift of a nearly unknown trail he is honoring me and my two beautiful mares, Cheyenne and Shambhala, It is a crystal clear spring morning.  We have packed a picnic lunch and fortified the horses’ hooves with Renegade boots against the promise of rugged terrain.  Tashi Delek, my “giggle therapist” poodle pup from my successful battle with breast cancer five years ago, bounds exuberantly and carelessly back and forth up the zig zag trail, threading between the horses and their hooves as if no harm could come to him.  He believes the world is his oyster. Miraculously, thus far, no harm ever has.

As we climb above the valley floor and the small creek below, the primeval darkness of the great redwood sorrel carpeted forest begins to lighten.  Through the treetops, as we gain ground on the switchbacks, we begin to see blue sky.  Soon, we reach the ridgeline and the flora changes dramatically.  Instead of lush sorrel and redwoods, we are in a scrub plane of manzanita, deer brush, Indian paintbrush, lupine, sticky monkey flowers, California sunflowers, popcorn flowers and pearly everlasting. The scent of the ocean greets us. The dark mulch gives way to lighter soil and finally the chalky shale that has given Chalk Mountain its name.

Following the ridgeline, Jim leads me to an outlook where we can see Chalk Mountain ahead.  We continue climbing, giving the horses a breather from time to time while pausing to marvel at the beauty of this pristine place.  Tashi yelps gleefully, bounding after a small marmot, but the local native aces him easily and slides tauntingly into its hole. Through the scrub we continue into full sun and a whipping coastal wind and finally arrive at the peak of the mountain.  The vista is breathtaking.  I gaze the horizon line with the eyes of a doe, quivering with the climb, nostrils quivering, ever alert for a lurking cougar and then with the wise eyes of an ancient Oholone woman, up here gathering berries, pausing to take in the huge expanse of bay that has sustained my peoples for millennia; then I survey the coastline with the eyes of my Scottish forbearers, sheep ranchers and lumbermen, settlers who came in the 1800s to settle their wives and children for summers in Santa Cruz on the Monterey Bay to escape the relentless summer heat of the San Joaquin Valley.  I imagine that of late there haven’t been that many eyes in just this place taking in the sweep of the central coastline and across to the Monterey peninsula.  It is one of those Technicolor days.  The air is sweet with spring and my heart is nearly melting with love for my husband and these beautiful animals who have carried us here, and quietly, in gratitude and celebration on this day, for my children who have given me the precious gift of motherhood.

 

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