Breathing abdominally is the key to self-regulation and the initiation of a relaxation response. The breath can be seen as a barometer for how we are responding to a given situation. A shallow, rapid breath typically indicates that we are anxious or afraid. The sympathetic nervous system is engaged when we are breathing shallowly and in [click to continue…]
More than three decades ago I had the opportunity of meeting the iconic Ram Dass for the first time on Martha’s Vineyard at a satsung. Satsung is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for truth,” which usually involves teaching, music and meditation. This evening rocked my world in a subtle yet profound way.
Ram Dass, formerly known as Dr. Richard Alpert, the eminent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer, traveled to India in 1967 where he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. It was he who gave Ram Dass his name, which means [click to continue…]
Do you sometimes feel that time is going by too quickly?
Do you worry that you are not only racing against the clock, but that you are not enjoying your days enough?
You can learn to experience the feeling of time being expanded. There is a way to slow down the pace, be in the moment and accomplish more than you would have [click to continue…]
What does it mean to be in the moment? How can you learn to be truly present rather than simply getting through another day on automatic pilot?
The truth is today is not just another day. It is the only day that you can count on. There are no guarantees about tomorrow or the day after. We, as humans, plan and the universe laughs. The moment you are in is the gift and your best response is to be open to whatever “is” today. The rest is in the past or in your wishes and fantasies about the [click to continue…]
Most of us live in a perpetual state of doing, doing, doing: creating lists, striving, working hard, reaching for goals, running on empty. Cultivating the capacity for stillness in the midst of your busy day can yield enormous benefits. The ability to be still… can nourish and sustain the mind and body in ways that might seem hard to fathom. These moments are like micro-vacations, providing relief from the stress of our every day lives. They can allow us to reconnect with a deeper part of ourselves. These moments can also provide reframes and mood alterations. The unconscious mind can reveal [click to continue…]
The short conversation on the phone left my husband, Martin with a look of shock. “What was that about?” I asked. Martin stood in silence, took some forced deep breaths and softly spoke. “There’s been an accident. A terrible accident.” As it turned out, one of my son, Max’s dear childhood friend was killed in a car crash hours before. He left a party in the early morning hours feeling it would be safe to drive. He got into his car, still slightly intoxicated from the night before neglecting to put on his seat beat. He drove off and almost immediately crashed into a tree. He wanted to get home; it was such a short distance. This was a great kid who made a terrible decision.
My son was on his way to a concert in Boston, ready to savor his last night in town and then finish up the packing [click to continue…]
Today I went to the hospital because the visiting nurse alarmed me to the fact that a small infection formed at the peak corner of my new hip replacement scar. “No time to waste. You never know how fast an infection can travel. This requires urgent care.” She made a succession of anxiety riddled phone calls to my orthopedic surgeon, the surgeons’ two assistants, the on-call resident and finally my primary care physician. She was determined to resolve the infection in question swiftly.
At first, I felt safe with her determination to find an immediate solution to the problem. Then, as we waited for the return phone calls and she continued to apprise me of the meaning of a spread infection [click to continue…]
Abdominal breathing, meditation, mindful walking, constructive rest and building friendships are some of my favorite behavioral strategies for balance and happiness. Click on any of the titles listed at the bottom of this page and learn how to create these practices for yourself.
Abdominal breathing is useful anytime and can be practiced in a concentrated way (5-10 minutes once or twice daily) or whenever it comes to mind. The kind of deep breathing always helps with initiating a feeling of relaxation and a greater [click to continue…]
Create the Practice of Constructive Rest:
- The constructive rest position is ideal for learning abdominal breathing, for easing you into sleep, for reducing anxiety or pain, and for general relaxation.
- Lie down on a flat surface with your neck supported with a small pillow or cushion. Bend your knees and support them with a larger pillow or cushion, so that your body is in a gentle pelvic tilt.
- Place both hands on your low belly (below the navel) and feel the natural rhythm of the rise and fall of each breath.
- The aim is to create a pattern of long, slow, deep, even, breaths.
- Make sure the exhalation is also long, slow, deep, even and complete. The belly and chest should ideally feel quite empty, but without forcing the air out.
- Practice once or twice daily whenever a calming effect is desired.
Practice 2 x daily for 5–10 minutes