Outdoor Discoveries and Getting Grounded



One of my favorite delights is finding an unexpected green space. Since I often travel throughout the country, teaching and mentoring health coaches with the Veterans Health Administration, I keep ears and eyes open for places to walk nearby. Last year, my colleagues and I heard about this trail from one of our Tomah coaching course participants. It was a big win for us! Every day after work we’d head out to the trail, only a few miles from our hotel, and walk or run. Most of the winding trail was amid fields of grain, grasses, a few small farms, a creek, and a lake. The insects were magnificent hovering over the fields, birds soaring, the magic of a nature’s sounds. It’s one of the most memorable walking paths I’ve been on during my travels the past two years.

What new outdoor space might you research? The space could be in your hometown, perhaps during a “staycation”, or on a vacation somewhere else. What’s the value of getting outside? How do you “get grounded” and centered in your daily life, recharge?

Another way to get outside and “get grounded” is to go barefoot. Here’s an excellent article from the Washington Post my sister Summer sent me, since she knows how much I go without shoes as does she (we grew up in the country and most of the time, truly, in the summertime, did not wear shoes).

One of the ways I’ve practiced grounding this summer is to walk in the yard after longer periods at the laptop. During the last two months, I’ve completed over 37 hours of continuing education for certifications and licensure. As much as I love learning from different modes online, I noticed my fatigue after listening to even the best of presentations and most interesting material for me. Without speaking to all the reasons why decreased energy may be the case with prolonged proximity to electronics, I simply knew to get outside. So, I’d simply walk around the yard, noticing my feet as they touched the grass, observing any wind, the sun, clouds, garden. What do you notice when you pay attention to the senses?

Managing, sustaining our energetic bodies is crucial to the fullness of life, as well as performance. How do you sustain your energetic body?

Making Friends With Props

Friends Who Prop You Up

How do you view yoga props? Do you see them as yoga studio objects used only by those who need them? Let’s challenge our opinions, and subsequent use of props, in the spirit of building a fuller, supported, yes, even dare I say, more robust yoga practice!

What would be different if you could move from “prop judgement” to “prop embrace”? At times, blocks, bolsters, and blankets may seem like materials that hinder rather than help your yoga class experience. Unhealthily challenging oneself by trying to force a position often trumps finding ease, stillness, and breath in the midst of a pose. Embracing props may allow the mind to rest or body to extend in a pose. Props can promote better alignment, use of body’s anatomical wisdom, and actually experience ease more fully. Let’s illustrate this concept of support and ease a bit closer.

Sukasana, or Easy Pose, provides a perfect example. It’s the familiar cross-legged position we often start or end class with, or use for seated meditation. In spite of the pose name, for many, finding comfort in the hips and knees is challenging here. So, why not sit on a block, blanket, or even bolster in order to elevate the hips? This simple method allows the calves, knees, and ankles to move naturally toward the earth through the benefit of gravity. Perhaps the greatest benefit of prop use here is for belly movement. That is, the abdomen can now relax more, therefore helping the breath to move down the torso and fully expand. Try this yourself: sit first in Easy Pose on the carpeted floor or a mat, drop the shoulders, straighten the spine, and notice the breath for 8-9 cycles of inhalation and exhalation. Now, sit on the prop of your choice. Practice the same breath exercise. What do you notice?

Like a theatre prop, a yoga prop can be seen through the lens of helping to create an experience. Even though we are not in a play production or performance in a yoga class, we are, indeed, intentionally building a compassionate atmosphere of body and mind restoration. So, the next time you come to class, invite yourself to pick up a prop you’ve never used, or ask the teacher to help you use it in a particular pose. Demonstrate your courageous self and move towards flow and discovery in a familiar pose, in a new, perhaps more open way. Namaste.

Two Ways to Rest The Mind

valley of the mind
valley of the mind


Way #1:

When’s the last time you got outside for a hike around your every day habitat? Even if you walk for 5-10 minutes, you reap benefits and create space for yourself. Especially when overwhelmed with to dos, or thinking through a problem. Here are some measurements behind that. In fact, research suggests that shorter, more frequent walks bring more benefits than long treks. Walking provides healthy habit building, exercise, stress reduction, lowers blood pressure, creates a state of flow and ease to the day. There’s only so much we can ponder things. Our minds need a break, a rest, the natural world to gaze upon. So what if you can’t go on a 5 mile hike in the mountains today? Why not just go out your door, or to a nearby park? How about taking 10 minutes during lunch to get outside? Even if it’s in your work parking lot, you will benefit.


Way #2

When you return from a 5 or 10 minute walk, lie down on the carpet or a mat for 2-5 minutes. Or, you can lie down outside. If you have an office chair, sit comfortably there with the spine straight and belly relaxed. Get comfortable. If you really need to rest, just do it without the walk. If you lie down, try resting on the back, with a rolled blanket under the knees to support the lower back. Bring breath into the belly, soften the muscles of the face, jaw, and tongue. Place your palms up. Close your eyes. Endeavor to stay awake and focus on the movement of breath. Count the breath if you like. This helps give the mind a focus. Breathe in for 2, out for 4. This is 2:1 breath, and deeply relaxing for the parasympathetic nervous system, the calming system of the body.

So, 10-15 minutes later, how do you feel? What do you notice about the body and breath? What do you notice about the problem you faced? What’s changed? What new perspective seems available?

Resiliency, Patience, and Gratitude

Winter to Spring Greens
Winter to Spring Greens

These greens remain in our garden, despite all the freezing cold! What qualities does this particular plant hold that helps it thrive during winter months? I honestly can’t say the variety, as this time of year we tend to blend recollections of plantings, in spite of best efforts to mark the rows and keep a garden journal! We do find them delicious, however, and delight in their ability to come back, cutting after cutting.

I’ve been feeling like this vegetable a bit, in that some things have been strong and active, and other aspects, like creativity, have felt somewhat latent– this is my first blog since October. One thing I continue to learn is that when we are invited to participate in something in our lives that feels really BIG, extra energy is summoned to that one thing and that’s often really ok. Patience with self can be cultivated, over and over, just like the seasons in the garden. Some crops are more successful than others, from year to year. All farmers know that.

One thing I know is that I am grateful for so much. Here’s a wonderful article that caught my eye a while back from Harvard Health Publications on why gratitude is important to our health, and some practical ways to generate more.

Growth In Stillness




In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
    but he’s restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.
So, it’s over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
             he’s done all he can.
I don’t know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
             while the clouds—
which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
             to be mild, and silent—
thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
               of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
             into snow.

Source: Poetry (October 2002).



Leadership In One’s Own Life

Labyrinth, Duke Integrative Medicine
Labyrinth, Duke Integrative Medicine


Without sounding too simplistic, I submit that each of us can embody leadership. Now, leadership gets bounced around quite a bit in the coaching world. I propose that we each manifest leadership of our own life. Doesn’t great stress occur when we feel as if life is leading us? Yes, at times life deals cards that feel insurmountable and incredibly painful.

Regardless of career or life position, leading one’s own life aligned with values and purpose takes courage, intention, patience, humor, and wisdom, with a slice of humble pie.

“May I ask you a highly personal question? It’s what life does all the time.”—Kurt Vonnegut

Another Opening

Dawn rises
Dawn rises


Sunrise, sunset, and rainbows harbor endless possibilities to savor. Why is it that sometimes we stop and look more than others? It’s kind of like reading a book, in that I can pick one up and attempt to read it several times, and  I choose to put it down.  Later,  I may open the book again, and this time, it strikes my fancy and I enjoy it! Of course, some books I choose not to read at all. So what?

This fall, give yourself permission to ask yourself what’s most important to you right now. This requires saying YES and NO.

Your Water Center

Ocean's Edge
Ocean’s Edge


This summer, I’m appreciating the generative qualities of water. Water symbolizes life itself, as well as flexibility, fluidity, flow.  Often our ideas are borne near water. Have you ever noticed that some of your best thoughts and images spring forth while simply bathing, showering, swimming, or brushing teeth?

Time spent next to a lake, pond, river, or ocean is valuable. If that’s not possible for you this summer, what is possible to bring more water qualities to your life, such as evenness? Do you yearn for still waters, or ebb and flow, or more forward movement? When you are aware your day rolls more like water, what behaviors or attitudes do you embrace to allow that?

OK, so water is my theme for the summer. What’s yours? Themes with earth elements are centering, grounding, strengthening. Other unifying themes are fire, earth, and air. When do notice you need more of one kind?

Click on the link below to experience a bit of water.







Your mind believes what you put in it—-Gayle Davis, sports psychologist

Have you ever practiced affirmations? They simply state how we want to be in the world. Here are some examples. Make your own, make them brief if you like. Put them on sticky notes, your smart phone notes, , your screensaver, write them in your journal, draw them, sing them, record them. Meditate with them.

Brief examples…

I am healthy and strong.

I use my intuition to guide me.

I make good decisions.

I am calm and patient.

I listen to what my body tells me.

I am clear on what I want.

I choose to be brave.

I am loving and compassionate.

I am forgiving.

I am capable and courageous.


I use my intuition and intelligence to guide me at all times—Pamela Davis

 The smallest action can make a difference. —anonymous

 When your mind is busy with fearful or negative thoughts say directly to those thoughts, “You are not invited to my party!”–Nancy Belestrini

 It feels good to move my body. Every muscle and cell works in harmony. I am graceful and strong—anonymous

 I am calm. I keep my stability even when the people around me are out of control—anonymous

 I am in charge of my own happiness and responsible for filling my own needs—anonymous

 I have always been worth loving; I just did not know before. I love and accept myself now—Louise Hay

 Every circumstance is a chance for you to practice being the person you truly want to be—Marianne Willliamson

Heart Meditations

Earth Heart
Earth Heart

Repeating a favorite prayer, spiritual passage, poem or affirmation can bring calm and ease into the day. Perhaps there’s one in your memory bank, or one that you’d like to deposit.

Here’s one from the Christian tradition. Choose one that fits you. May your heart be open today to what is possible.


The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.


O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console,

To be understood as to understand,

To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.


The above text is from Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, a helpful and rich resource for meditation practice.