Archive for Blog


A new chapter in life usually starts with something uncomfortable. Loss, gain, and stagnancy can all result in discomfort. Really the most uncomfortable part of it all is uncertainty. We want predictable. We want routine. Even adventure and spontaneity hold elements of predictability. It is the point in our lives when we learn to embrace uncertainty, that some of our most beautiful chapters are written. Often disguised as loss or stagnancy, those chapters have yet to be titled. It is then that the beauty of change occurs.

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael graced the Gulf Coast with its presence. Life as we knew it was gone that very day. We spent the morning as usual with the added element of prepping the yard and pets, and by evening time we were in a state of emergency defending our property from looters and eating food off the grill as fast as it defrosted. Many people lost homes, vehicles, businesses, jobs, and loved ones. Although my family was rather fortunate, our lives are very different than they were before the storm. It was two days before we were able to chainsaw our way to the main street. On the third day, we verified the safety of my sister, step-children, and mother in law. On day five I drove two and a half hours out of town to get phone service and verify that I still had a job, despite our office building being destroyed. On day 10 we got phone service. Day 14 we got water and were able to take cold showers. Day 22 of Florida heat and humidity, we got power. That felt like progress, but it is far from over. The county’s schools started back after Thanksgiving. Despite the hardships, we were blessed in so many ways during the aftermath and to describe each silver lining would be a book, not a blog post (and I hear those who were not affected by the storm are tired of hearing about it). Plus, it would take away from my point, so I digress. We experienced a disaster, everything is still changing for us, and 10 months later, I have sunk into stagnation.

Being at home has given me the opportunity to bond with my now six-month old baby and my 10 year old (who turned 10 on 10/10, the day Michael hit), and to grow closer to my husband and step-children. Despite these perks, I seem to be at a stand-still in a lot of ways. I am still working from home because there is no office space available, I rarely interact with adults, and have had no changes in home repair after our roof was complete last December. Noticing that I was feeling somewhat stuck, my awesome husband decided to help me take the first step down a path I’ve had in mind since I was 13 years old. He bought me a camera. Not just any camera, but a DSLR that I can use shoot portraits part-time. And so it begins!

The storm didn’t cause this to happen, but it was a change agent that eventually started me down this path. I didn’t recognize the potential such a catalyst could have in our lives. I didn’t see it as an opportunity, at first. But now, I look back and am able to recognize that these changes were our opportunities. I will not resist change, but embrace it and use this to take me off autopilot. I am ready for this journey! We might all benefit from occasionally taking a closer look at our own situations to recognize the potential for growth. Seven things we dealt with in the aftermath that we could all do to elicit change in our own situations.

  • More sleep – studies show that increasing the amount of sleep we get provides physical and mental benefits. When we do this, we have more energy to put towards things that can change our lives for the better. Oh, you get a full 8 hours each night? *ehem, nerd*… Believe it or not, during the hurricane, the people effected reverted to bed time at dark and rising with the sun. That sleep cycle was so refreshing.
  • More water – yes, I know. This is obvious… but is it though? Log your water for a week. You may be getting way less water than you think you are. I continue to struggle with this and honestly, I don’t even know why because I love water. We got cases and cases of water delivered to our door steps after the hurricane, and I truly appreciate that!
  • Meditation – I’m sure everyone’s heard the saying that “if you’re too busy for meditation, you need it more. This can be achieved through fresh air and introspection. Spend some time in a meadow, on a beach, or just seated in the natural light of your favorite room in the house. I’ve said before that sometimes we just need grounding. Take a look at grounding using 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown.
  • Social media black-out period – seriously, this should go without saying that sometimes social media weighs heavy on our mood. There are a lot of individuals stirring up drama for other people. Give yourself the gift of a social media black-out. A week, a month, or even a year. The rejuvenating benefits are definitely worth it. This is one of my favorite things about being on a cruise and was certainly my favorite part about being thrown into a state of emergency.
  • Affirmations – speak nicely to yourself. Whether you tell yourself that you can or you can’t, you’re right. Our whole community came together and created #850strong because affirmations are effective. I have recently started a gratitude journal to keep my negative thoughts at bay. I really don’t want to be in my own way when it comes to my photography business, or anything else for that matter.
  • Exercise – get your endorphins up! Slow yoga challenging each muscle group separately allows you to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Fast yoga gets your heart going (duh, it’s fast). Maybe you just need an extra walk in the morning or add on an extra class. Of course, not just once… it needs to become a habit. Work at it. Whatever level you’re on, level up! (Is level zero a thing?)
  • Adventure – Our whole area code was an adventure after Michael struck. Try something new! A new hiking trail or lake. Maybe go to a festival or art exhibit. Be spontaneous! This is one of my favorites. I love a good adventure! With my photography, I’ve found myself exploring my town more than I used to. It’s refreshing!

Potential is often hidden beneath something more often seen as inconvenient and uncomfortable. Whether you’re dealing with change at this moment or feeling a bit in a rut, find your catalyst. Step out of your comfort zone and recognize when life has become stagnant. Change is a good thing! Embrace it!

Visualization Tools for Meditation

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Absorbed in the images before me, I visualize my success. The page before me has on it the curled corners of magazine cutouts, stickers with encouraging phrases, descriptions of my future, and images I’ve printed with inspiring quotes. Today, I focus solely on my professional visions. Establishing a reputation in my field that allows the flexibility I seek. I visualize myself working abroad. Working with my child by my side. Working with individuals seeking similar futures in various fields. Working with vulnerable populations of people who are often barely reaching the lowest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  I am the change for my clients. I am an inspiration for my peers, clients, and coworkers. I envision my mentors throughout my life showing me the way. Creating a vision that puts me in the mentor position. Dreaming of a life that touches others the way I’ve been influenced throughout my life. Empowering others as I’ve been empowered. It’s difficult at times to visualize these things to the magnitude I have done today. This is the purpose of my vision board. I know many who create their vision board, then do not use it. To use a vision board is to create the images, words, and feelings that you would have to achieve your goals if money were no object. The vision board should resonate with your current purpose. It should be an agent that assists with meditation for a specific or broad set of goals. Today, my vision board is fairly sparse, but it serves its purpose. I look at my vision daily and adjust as my heart desires. Today, my focus is empowering others, doing what I love, and recognizing that the beautiful life I desire is a journey, not an overnight miracle. The work is a daily process and the daily meditation on the topics I’ve included is a part of that journey. As my goals change, so will the images I choose to use for my visual stimulation. For anyone wishing to use visual representation to assist with the meditation process first choose an area of focus.

visualization tool

This can be as specific as career oriented growth as I’ve done, or it can encompass the collage of topics that include spiritual, family, career, school, health, personal growth, financial stability, travel, and social life. The emphasis can overlap or it can be separated, although I find that when narrowing the topic other areas find their ways in.



Once an area is chosen or the decision is made to mesh them together, answer the following questions:


  1. What does your life look like if money and resources are not a barrier in these areas?
  2. What character traits would you like to be known for?
  3. What have you always wanted to do, but have never had the courage to do?
  4. What do you wish you had more time for in your life?

Flow through these question for each topic and you’ll find yourself dreaming bigger than you might ordinarily. These visions of grandeur are an important part of building successes in your life. Building the vision without revisiting it, working for it, or changing it as areas become obsolete in your core is like visualizing the perfect meal and never creating it. Never going through the ingredients list, but never putting in the trip to the store. The perfect homemade loaf of bread did not bake itself. Nor did it gather the ingredients for its own fruition. Visualize. Meditate. Overcome the barriers you come across, and make it happen in your life. If you can think it, you can do it.

Everyday Mindfulness

An array of colored pencils lay before me as I find the exact shade to compliment the last. Doodling, nevertheless, but still strategic. The repetitive back and forth of the pencil on the page. The hushing sound it makes as it dispenses the color to the sheet. I notice the imperfect strokes. Some darker than others. No lines to stay in as I’ve doodled the images myself and I decide whether I pass through them or remain confined by them. I am in control. Liberating.

colored pencils ready to go

Pencils at the ready

I take in a deep breath noticing the taste of my spring water still on my tongue, which oddly has a different flavor than purified water. The thought that water has a taste is interesting. I take in the smell of the wood that encapsulates the sticks of color as I shave the edges off so my pencil is a perfect cone. The shavings spiral around themselves before dropping to the table. I brush the shavings from the page and feel the waxy lines I’ve made on the paper. Color strokes are finer and darker now with the polished tips of my coloring tools.

kid doodle, tangled, Rapunzel, sketch

By my 9 year old, T. Doodling for mindfulness is for everyone.

I notice the indentation the pencil makes on my right ring finger as I scribble organized chaos on the blank space before me. I adjust my posture as I feel my low back stiffen a bit. I hear the sound of the turtle’s tank filters trickling in the background as I switch colors and the pencils tap without order on the wooden table. The sound of glossy wood sticks tapping the polished wood table resonates with my mood nearly as much as the rhythmic scribbling. My mind wanders briefly through topics recently discussed at work. Then again to the trip we have planned. I wonder why we don’t do more nature-centered activities as a family. I notice that the table will need to be wiped clean before I leave my doodling alone.

Copy paper doodle

I refocus and manipulate my canvas realizing that the texture is thicker than the usual media on which my doodles find themselves. Copy paper doodles are seemingly quicker. A temporary reprieve from the daily grind. Today’s images have purpose.

busy, bee, doodle, lily, calla, flower, pollen, buzz

Doodle lily for a busy bee

Created in the essence of mindfulness. Thoughts come and go. They enter; I let them go. My focus at this moment is not to think about any one thing. Just this moment. The crisscrossed position of my legs. My hands’ hurried gestures. The breaths I inhale. Everything that is this moment. I don’t fight the thoughts that come through as I practice my mindfulness activities. They enter willingly and leave just as quickly allowing me to refine my attention to myself and what occurs around me.

colored pencil standing

Last pencil standing

A custom I’ve been practicing over the past month or so. First, settling into my calming, comfortable space. Occupying my anxious mind with simple, repetitive motions. Like the carnal form of a meditation chant. Following what I have come to know as the countdown. I’ve found my five things I can see, although some of them are my own creations. Noted four physical feelings I have throughout the exercise. Three sounds, two odors, and lastly, one thing I can taste, or would like to taste. The countdown to mindfulness has elapsed about 15 minutes of my evening. Something I aim for more frequently than I used to. I attempt to make time to practice mindfulness daily. If I haven’t found a period of time throughout my day to use my countdown, I use a space constructed for such a ritual to ensure I’ve gotten my daily dosage of anti-anxiety mindfulness. It was only recently that I had a realization that any act can become a meditation if only we seek to be mindful of the moment. Find peace within, rather than seeking it out. Namaste.

~ Seantel

Meditation on Hope and Dreams Come True

To hope for something is to desire a certain outcome. We all have hope at times, but how can just having hope make our wishes come true?

Hope is indeed significant. It is a fundamental ingredient to having what we desire, but having hope with nothing else is rarely enough. We must incorporate faith and trust for our dreams to become our truth.

The following meditation is designed to help you do more beyond hope, so you can actualize your biggest wishes.

Sit in a comfortable position, free from external distractions. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Allow your thoughts to quiet and your mind to clear.

Imagine a field of dandelions on a midsummer day. Notice many of these dandelions beginning to turn to seed. Find a dandelion that carries a perfect globe of white seeds, and pick it up.

Reflect back to when you were a small child. Do you remember making a wish before blowing dandelion seeds, hoping your wish would come true? Hope is simply the breath you took before scattering your wishes into the air.

Now, in your imagination, make a wish, take a deep breath of hope, and blow on the seeds.

Visualize the sprinkling of these seeds and wishes around you. See them float aimlessly in all directions. While you don’t know where these seeds will land, or how your wishes will come true, have faith that each seed is being carried and supported on its beautiful journey. Faith is the wind that carries the seeds to their destination, and your wishes to manifestation.

Now, focus your attention onto one seed and watch it spiral gracefully to the ground. See its white tendrils surrendering as it connects with the fertile soil. Once the seed has united with the Earth, you must trust in its ability to germinate. Trust is nature taking its course. Believe the seed has been planted and everything is in order for your dreams to blossom.

Last but not least, imagine a new crop of bright yellow dandelions. See each dandelion as the manifestation of a wish coming true. Truth is simply the flowering of hope, but it must be carried by faith, and nurtured by trust, to be actualized.

Take a moment to review this guided imagery meditation again and again. During each phase, allow yourself fully embody what it means to have hope, faith, and trust. Practice, and may all of your wishes come true.

Blue Skies Are All I See

Each day I enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of my surroundings. While on a walk with the dogs, I came up with the following meditation. Watching lazy sunsets has also been an introspective learning experience. I have never been so in awe of the beauty high up in the sky.

Our minds are much like the sky. However, depending on the atmosphere in our heads, we could have many types of thoughts clouding the backdrop of our inner vision. Maybe our internal sky-scape is congested with low-hanging moods like dark cumulus clouds on a soggy evening, or perhaps we envision high-flying wisps of inspiration like cirrus clouds on a breezy afternoon. Just like the weather; the climate in our minds will always change.


Poli Poli recreation area with cool and misty low clouds


View from my front yard in Kula on an early Sunday evening



Just as clouds can alert us of a coming storm, or give us an indication of what to expect by day’s end, our thoughts can also influence our future. If you don’t believe it to be true, remember a time when you woke up thinking of something that caused you anxiety. How did your day progress? Were you nervous? Fearful? Shy about speaking up in public? Changing your thoughts can change the course of your day, and it’s all up to you.




Use this guided imagery meditation when you want some mental clarity, need a positive outlook, or are simply seeking the peace of mind you might feel on a cloudless blue sky day.

Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Draw your awareness inward. Become aware of your thoughts, and unlike other meditation practices that have you detaching from your thoughts, let your attention settle on each thought. Now, without realism, only creative imagination, relate your thoughts to clouds. Study the depth, size, color, and density of each thought. See them as the various types of clouds that appear in the sky.


Kula, HI


We hiked high enough to look down at the cloudy day we left behind


Next, understand that clouds come and go, just as your thoughts. While you might wake up to a stormy day and feel let down that it’s raining on your parade, you must trust that the sky is still blue above the hazy mess. Thoughts veil the purity of our mind. Above all thought is a massive expansion of crystal clear atmosphere. When we connect with this source of all that is grand and pure, our hearts sing and our soul finds peace.

Rise above your thoughts. Find clarity. Open your mind to the supreme, ever-present blue-sky bliss of consciousness. Your day-to-day weather may change, but one thing is for certain; the backdrop of your thoughts will not. Connect with this place and repeat the following verse from one of my favorite songs:

Blue skies smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies, do I see.


Have a beautiful blue-sky day!


Expect the Unexpected

Challenging times offer the opportunity to be still within the chaos. They are an invitation to set anchor, and be calm in the choppy, rough waters that surround us. Feeling as if we are floating completely out of control is not fun, but we do have the ability to find our center no matter where the current of life takes us.

Jenny Liu, a Taoist “fate calculator” tells us that fish don’t swim, they are swum. When we trust in the force that moves us and be present and in the flow, we can learn to ride rather than resist the unexpected currents of life.

After I taught my last class at the studio, I was excited to be a participant, enjoying yoga and Pilates side-by-side with you lovely, devoted students. I had expected to see everyone, in or out of class, at least one more time before heading to Hawaii. Dean was coming back to help me drive to Los Angeles with the dogs, and we would have plenty of time to share laughter and give hugs.

My dad called. “I don’t want to alarm you, but I haven’t been feeling too well,” he said with a hint of undeniable agony. I suggested we go to the hospital, as he mentioned having a high fever, dizzy spells, and couldn’t keep anything he ate in his stomach, for quite some time. “No, I just have the flu. Give it a day and we’ll see.”

Um, no. So I drove up the Westfork and brought him to Dolores. Just as I suspected, dad wasn’t looking too good. Off to the ER we went. After speaking with the ER doc who contacted a urologist on call in the early morning hours, he was advised and able to schedule his bladder stone surgery in Grand Junction, instead of waiting for his appointment in Durango.

After two separate trips to the ER, and two nights in the hospital with a UTI and a prescription for stronger antibiotics, my dad was discharged on Thanksgiving Day, with an order to rest and nurse his tired body. Well, an order for ‘someone’ to nurse his tired body. With the last-minute preparations to get ready for the move, every second of my day was utilized with the unexpected call of duty, and I was running out of time.

Thank God for Dean. How could you not see the world through rose colored lenses with his smile beaming at you? I picked him up from the Durango airport and said, “Honey, it’s time to hustle.” What a huge help my hubby is.


Now, with just three days to get it all done, we found ourselves eating meals while standing, making phone calls from the bathroom ‘throne,’ and attempting to keep the important papers from getting lost in the shuffle. Speaking of important papers, Dean drops the bomb and says the Hawaii Department of Agriculture checklist I had been following for 4 months to get the dogs ready for the move was outdated. Add a Saturday overnight FedEx chore to the mix and what do you have? One stressed-out Jill.

We rolled out of town the Monday after Thanksgiving. My dad was healthy and back at home. Somewhere along the road, the dogs needed a potty break, so we pulled off the highway and found ourselves on the corner of Dean Drive and Paradise Trails Road. Our rose colored glasses were back on.



Welcome to Los Angeles, where even the dogs think they’re famous.

We stayed in a high-rise hotel on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, as Dean had some people to meet. Grateful our hotel catered to pet owners and their pets, however, we still had to brave the busy lobby that hosts nightly happy hour. With our furry friends who only know running wild up at Boggy Draw, how do you keep your cool with two dogs on a leash in the middle of a cocktail party? It’s all in the name.

“Hey, Buddy!”

That’s right. His name is Buddy, and he is astonished everyone seems to know. “I must be famous,” he thinks. With a wag of a tail and a friendly grin, he shows Greta how to behave in the big city.



The day before we fly to Maui, I was so worried about the dogs being on that plane that I couldn’t stop grinding my teeth. I decided I might as well stuff something in between them and put all that clenching to good use. No, I did not reach for the mouth guard. Instead, we indulge in peel-and-eat shrimp. I used the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle to keep my mind off my own fear of flying. And yes, those are Bloody Mary’s. What can I say.


The next morning marked the anniversary of one man completely losing his cool. I don’t think I have ever seen Dean that angry, and certainly never that angry with me. I could have crawled under a bridge and joined the homeless after an unexpected circumstance at the United Airlines cargo desk.

We were denied flying because the dog’s health certificates were two days too old.

“Can we speak with your manager?”

Bad idea. Never ask for the higher-ups when you are looking to fudge your paperwork.

According to United Airlines, health certificates need to be given within 10 days of flying. That was news to me. According to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, health certificates must be provided within 14 days of travel. Ours were 12 days out. Too old.

“Everybody flying to Hawaii gets this wrong,” cracks the manager between laughs.

“Oh yeah? Well, f*ck you too,” is all Dean could cough up in this most devastating moment in time, as he turned to look at me expecting some kind of resolve.

Without getting into the details of a husband and wife having a complete meltdown, all I can say is this setback actually turned out for the better. But first, I needed round two. Hello crab legs.


We were able to visit a vet that day, and get new health certificates. We were able to change our flight to leave the next day. We were able to upgrade Buddy’s travel crate to a larger size. While the airlines told me absolutely no flights from LA to Maui accepted the bigger crates (they wouldn’t fit through the plane’s cargo door) the plane we were put on happened to be a 757 and a bigger crate was not a problem. That was unexpected, and graciously appreciated. In addition, our first class upgrade was also transferred, and since this was a bigger plane, our seats were of the super-deluxe variety. I could literally do downward dog in front of my seat without touching the seat in front of me. Dean was no longer angry, in fact, he was amused by my ability to express how excited I was to have so much room! The flight attendants told us Buddy and Greta were loaded on the plane and doing well, and we were looking through our rose colored first-class windows, with fancy pillows and a silky Saks Fifth Avenue down blanket.


So far, I love Hawaii. There is something uniquely special about it. The smells, the sounds, the people…. It speaks to my heart and I couldn’t help but feel that again just as soon as we stepped off the plane. The dogs did great. When we met them at the Kahului airport cargo station, they were calm, yet happy to see us. I think the preparations of getting them used to the crates helped them (and me)!

Reunited, and it feels so good!


As I was getting comfortable in our new house, which is wonderful in every way, I began to decompress and start the process of unwinding after a crazy couple of weeks. Dean was in a good groove at work, and we were looking forward to the company Christmas party, which happened to be the same day my dad was scheduled for his bladder stone surgery in Grand Junction.

During the party, we got a phone call. “Jill, your dad had a reaction to the penicillin,” says Bev, who accompanied him to St. Mary’s hospital. “He’s in ICU. I think you better get here now.”

Well, that was unexpected.

Not only was the anaphylactic shock shocking to all, the cascade of events that nearly landed him six-feet under caught him, us, the nurses, and his doctor, completely off-guard.

The wise sages equate life to surfing. Sometimes you ride the wave, sometimes you crash in a sea of pounding surf, but eventually the ocean calms and gives us a chance to come up for air. I was doing swimmingly well in my new digs, and I was not in the right frame of mind to be swum. It was time to go deep and find my anchor.


Eleven days in the ICU, riding the ultimate wave between life and death, my dad eventually came up for air. Don’t ever let someone tell you that prayers don’t work. They do. Yours did. Every visit, conversation, text, well wish, and thought, made a difference; especially the warm, red Christmas blanket from Cindy. Thank you!


Romancing the stone.

Now on the road to recovery, my dad continues to work hard doing his exercises; some walking, and a lot of what looks like Pilates in bed! He’s out of ICU and currently being assessed for the best plan to get him strong enough to get that stone out, and then come to Hawaii to relax and regroup.


Lose yourself in the service of others.

Taoist master of fate, Jenny Liu, also said birds don’t fly, they’re flown. It takes a lot of energy to resist the flow, whether it is water or air. I was resisting being flown into the current back to Colorado. I was feeling selfish and angry for having to leave my new Hawaiian sanctuary after returning to a life with Dean and the dogs. I was upset.

What I learned during those rough days in the hospital with my dad was that I was committed to being there for him. I reflected on the lives of those who have shown us that service is the ultimate form of love. Duty, sacrifice, and selfless actions are what help promote all good things in this world. I needed to get out of my way and serve. Duty called, and it would have been a tragedy to miss that call.


The best thing we can do for ourselves is show our kindness and gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Love makes a difference. That is what carries us peacefully along the current of life, whether we fly, are flown, swim or are swum.

I returned to Maui on Christmas Day. I was able to spend the morning with my dad, watching him indulge in Enstrom’s toffee, and then be greeted by Dean and the dogs that evening. Each day my dad makes excellent progress. He is walking longer, feeling better, and hopeful he can get that stone out soon.

Expect the unexpected, but even better, learn how to return to the anchor that holds you in peace within the turbulent storms of life. Every day be fortunate you have woken up, commit yourself to service, and ride rather than resist the waves of change.
















Procrastinators Rejoice! Time is Relative

Procrastination. We have all been guilty of it. While we might be fully cognizant of a looming deadline, some of us will wait until the last minute to start something that is too soon due.


Ironically, the definition of procrastination is, “the action of postponing something,” as if procrastinating was an active pursuit. Quite the contrary. When we procrastinate, we don’t act.  We succumb to inaction while time keeps ticking away.


If you have a pending deadline or expectation on your horizon, and you’ve been putting it off, this meditation is for you. Procrastination doesn’t mean doom and failure; it just gives you less time to do what you need to do. When you are crunched for time, use this meditation to your advantage.


Find yourself in a comfortable position, free from thoughts of your agenda. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Scan your body to release tension, tightness, and stress. Spend five minutes in this preparatory practice, or until you feel completely at ease with your situation. Do not linger too long, as this is not another excuse to keep procrastinating!


Rather than feel stuck and powerless over not yet reaching your end result, concentrate on the steps necessary to complete your goal. Do you need to be sitting at your desk? Picking up the phone? Typing? Visualize the steps required to do the task you’ve been postponing. See these actions as merely a means to an end, rather than a daunting, anxiety-producing pile of work. Release all judgment, fear, or aversion toward these steps. Continue with this guided imagery practice until you can completely focus on what you need to do without contempt.


By waiting to begin your project, you have become short on time, but don’t worry. Consider Einstein’s theory of relativity and time dilation.  


Imagine the finished product as a light at the end of a black-hole-like tunnel. In your mind’s eye, step into the tunnel, and remain focused. While you are in the tunnel, you will experience a time warp. It will feel like you are able to stretch out the seconds that count down to your due date. You must remain focused and in motion for this to work.


Now, start your project as if you were in the tunnel. Understand there is no escaping it until your project has been completed. Once your work is done, the gravitational pull of procrastination will end and you will be free to float in the universe of achievement. Until then, keep that tunnel vision. Godspeed!

3 Tips for Mastering Balance Poses

Most yogis I know have a love-hate relationship with balance poses. Some days balancing comes easy, and other days standing on one leg feels like torture and humiliation. There is a reason for this, and it might have little to do with your physical ability.

Get out of your head

If yesterday you rocked half moon pose but today you fell on your rear, examine your state of mind. When life has us over-thinking, worrying, or fretting about everything, we won’t have the inner balance necessary for the outer balance.

Fixing your gaze on a still point in the room is a great way to help your balance because it keeps your mind focused. Be in the moment, find balance in your breath, and let the outside world dissolve around you.

Use your core

Next time you are in a balance pose, imagine someone’s hands are wrapped around your waist, holding you steady. Stand up tall, pull in on the sides of your waist, activate your lower belly, and bring your front lower ribs into your spine. This simple adjustment will enhance your stability.

Let yourself wobble

You don’t have to be completely still in balance poses, because when you move, your body’s proprioceptive system is turned on to retrain the muscles to reach a state of equilibrium. It is advantageous to wobble as it will give you better balance off the mat, as well as for sports and activities that you love to do.


Love > Hate: A Peaceful Meditation in Violent Times

Waking up to to violence in our communities is like being served burnt toast for breakfast. When malicious behavior mars our heavenly slice of life, we too become burned, crusty, and our hearts blackened by the devastating acts of those around us. While we try and scrape off the darkened edges of society, we still end up having to ingest the charred remnants of violent, criminal actions. And, that doesn’t settle well in the peaceful belly of humanity.

The adage ‘like creates like,’ holds true in every situation. What happens to you when you see someone yawn? You yawn, too. What happens to you when someone breaks out into uncontrollable laughter? You laugh, too. Now, what happens when your neighborhood has been ravished by anger and violence? You get angry, too.

Unfortunately, violence is a common occurrence in our human experience. It is much like fire. The more fuel we give it, the more it will burn.

While it is healthy and productive to process our emotions, going beyond what heals is not helpful. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed returning violence for violence multiplies violence, and that darkens cannot drive out darkness, because only love can drive out hate. Of course, choking on a piece of burnt toast isn’t our idea of love, but spitting it out at someone in anger is not the answer.

This meditation is designed to dampen the flames of violence, and promote peace in the world.

Practice this:

Begin in a comfortable position, free from distraction. If you have just witnessed images of violence on the news, or in person, become aware of how your body feels. Bring your attention to someone who you would like to hurt because of some filthy, violent act they’ve senselessly committed. Notice the stress and tension arise in your body as you think of this person. Imagine these feelings like a fire blackening your soul. Visualize the flames burning your heart, and charring your spirit. Sit with these uncomfortable feelings for several deep breaths.

Now, bring your attention to someone you love dearly. When you think of this person, notice the feeling of peace and contentment in your heart and soul. Feel that love and connection beginning to put out the angry inferno in your soul.

Now, notice the different sensations between hating someone and loving someone. What feels best in your body? Embrace love within every cell of your being.

Fully embody the notion that love is much softer, sweeter, and way more powerful than violence. Just as MLK Jr. also said, “By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up,” we must put our energy toward loving vs hating.

Let us all practice this meditation every day, and may we no longer choke on burnt toast, but instead be free to break bread with all, and celebrate peace in the bountiful banquet of life.


A Walking Meditation to Release Negative Thinking

Walking is a wonderful form of exercise. While some rave about the physical benefits of walking, taking a stroll in nature is also very good for the mind and the spirit.

This walking meditation has a remarkable way of turning your habitual negative thought processes into constructive and creative thinking. Why not make your next ordinary walk in the park extraordinary?

Before you head out the door, set an intention to let go of negative or self-sabotaging thoughts. Then, put yourself in the mindset that your walk will be less about physical exercise, and more about shifting your thought processes to serve you better.

In the beginning of your walk, take a few moments to notice the subtle aspects of your surroundings. Savor the sights, sounds, and smells all around you. View the world at large without placing judgment on it. Keep an open mind.

As you continue your walk, practice using what you see, hear and smell to help draw your focus away from your thoughts. Imagine your thoughts are emitting only faint and muffled background noises, much like hearing the sound of traffic coming and going along a nearby street.

Be sure and let go of the need to bounce around from thought to thought. Trust that when you detach from your thoughts, your mind will do all it can to sift through and release old habitual thought patters. Negative thinking isn’t a natural function of the mind because positive thinking is what your mind is innately built to do.

During this time of disengaging from your thoughts, imagine your mind working like a sieve. Picture it filtering through its mental and emotional contents, separating and releasing all negative thoughts. Practice this imagery for the majority of your walk.

You will soon notice your mind beginning to stream positive and creative thoughts. Do not give up now. This is the time when negativity gets out of the way and great ideas come to the surface, brilliant inventions are realized, and problems are solved.

It is important that you do not try and force positive thinking. Trust that your mind is made to think good things on its own so let it do the work. If a negative thought comes back up, go back to letting your thoughts flow through your mental sieve.

Enjoy this walking meditation as a way to clear your head, uplift your spirit, and spark a new, creative, and positive outlook on life.






Yoga Nidra: Reflections on a Very Personal Vision

Yoga Nidra is a unique, guided imagery meditation designed to bring us into a deep state of relaxation. During Yoga Nidra, interesting visions and thoughts may arise. Our experiences through such an inward journey teach us so much about ourselves.

A recent Yoga Nidra practice gave me some insight into something I had unknowingly been struggling with, and spurred a desire to share the following imagery that spontaneously came to my mind.

I was instructed to think of something in my life that felt incomplete, or not yet actualized. I thought of something, or more accurately, a situation I’ve always wanted to be in, but I’m not, yet. Karen Mischke, our teacher, asked the class to scan our bodies and notice physical sensations associated with our current thoughts. I couldn’t deny the burning rage in my solar plexus. After a few moments of ‘breathing into the feeling’ I felt an ache in my heart and wanted to cry. My eyes were getting moist and my chest was heavy like a looming thunderhead waiting to release a torrential rainstorm. That’s when I had an epiphany and began to see this guided imagery unfold.

I imagined myself shedding tears. Overflowing tears from my heart rained down onto the fire of rage in my belly. I saw the flames dampen, and I felt my pent up anger subside. In my mind’s eye, I continued to cry, and eventually, the fire went out.

What happened next was one of the most vivid imageries I have ever seen. Beautiful steel gray streams of smoke began to rise from the ashes of my extinguished anger. In this smoke I saw the message of my intention. It rose up and swirled around my third eye, and went up and out through the crown of my head. I saw it as a smoke signal to the universe, asking for guidance in achieving my goals.

 (Photo of Bronwyn by Mike Znerold)

I realized I had not yet surrendered to a higher power for help attaining my desired situation, instead I was unknowingly held back by rage. Now, I trust the message is out there and my request for guidance will be honored.

In looking back after writing this article for my regular meditation column in Om Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine, I realize the recent changes in my life are indeed part of a grand master plan that I may not be entirely aware of just yet. I do know, from somewhere deep inside myself, my prayers are being answered.

Next time you are practicing Yoga Nidra, or in quiet meditation, ask yourself the same question. What haven’t you actualized in your life? Scan your body and take note of physical sensations. Breathe into those sensations, and discover your own insight and imagery. Unveil what will set you free, and bring your dream to fruition.

Yoga Nidra takes place on Friday’s at 10:45am. While the class structure may seem like a glorified nap, I assure you, remarkable things happen in that one special hour with Karen Mischke each week. 

A Meditation for Aging Gracefully

For some, the thought of getting older is terrifying and the experience, painful. Dying young is indeed a tragedy, but so is defying or denying the grace and beauty of the aging process, no matter how physically and emotionally challenging it is to get older. The wisdom we can gain from life is precious, provided we embrace it, rather than feel distraught and fearful about how quickly our youth vanishes.

The following meditation can be a tool to shift the perspective of aging from a dreadful and uncomfortable fact of life, to a liberating and inspiring ascension through time. Practice whenever any negativity or uncertainty arises about your own aging process.

Relax in a comfortable position. Savor a few long and slow deep breaths. Enjoy the quality of each inhale and exhale, and notice the refreshing energy each breath brings to your mind and your body.

Reminisce over the course of your life. Go back as far as you can remember, from the years of being a toddler to the age you are now. Recall detailed events of your youth and teenage years.

Now, imagine a timeline, much like the ones you see in history books. On the left side of that timeline you see the date you were born. See markers along the way highlighting your life’s special moments. On the far right side, your timeline will end, marking the day of your death. For many, the thought of this is chilling. Listen to how your body feels as you visualize your full timeline, from birth to death. If anxiety or tension arises, breathe into those uncomfortable sensations until they have waned, or completely passed. Use your breath to relax and prepare to embrace the reality of aging.

Next, imagine turning your horizontal timeline a one-quarter turn, so that your birthday is at the bottom, and the course of your life takes a vertical path. Visualize the inevitable end of your timeline not as a stopping point, but a point in time that merges with the infinite blue sky, beyond the confines of your age. Let this image settle into your mind.

As you rise along your life’s timeline, understand that there is no looking back, nor any way to look forward. You continue, poised and balanced in the ‘now.’ Year after year you keep ascending, your unbounded vision becoming clearer. Enjoy the view of aging, for some will never experience the same lofty height.