Relaxation: the Science, the Art, the Practice

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘relaxation’? Does it conjure images of sun-bathing on a beach, pampering oneself at a spa getaway or treating oneself to a yoga retreat? For many of us, when we think of relaxation we think we need to go somewhere to “do it”. Western culture, with its roots in Puritanism, hasn’t given relaxation the proper understanding and value that other cultures have; cultures that understand that truly relaxing is an important key to maintaining good health and emotional harmony. Western culture has a tendency to view relaxing as an indulgent luxury that involves travel and spending money to achieve. I hear people say, “I can’t wait until my vacation next month when I can finally relax!” If we are constantly putting off relaxing until the right time, we are missing out on opportunities of relaxing right now and feeling immediate positive effects. Continue Reading →

The Courage To Be Vulnerable

It seems that every day there are new reports of sexual misconduct by people in positions of power. This has engendered many discussions about how power and control issues are behind these behaviors. While that may be true, we also need to look at what avoidance patterns are driving the need to exert power and control over another human being. Any time people seek feeling powerful there is a simultaneous avoidance of feeling powerless, but there are other factors at play as well. All humans crave connection and intimacy, but true intimacy with another human being requires vulnerability and being exposed to the possibility of being hurt is something that we will do almost anything to avoid, especially after we’ve experienced it first-hand.

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Delight In The Now

A few months ago, I had the good fortune of spending some time with my then 10-month old godson. It was close to dinner time and he was starting to get fussy indoors so to give his parents and older sister a little breathing room, I picked him up and carried him outside. It was a beautiful spring day and he immediately quieted and became very alert. Then something interesting happened that I cannot really explain but I’ll call ‘merging consciousness’. This happened to me only once before some years ago when I lay down to take a nap and my cat decided to join me. Even though I was tired my mind was racing, continuously thinking about the past and worrying about the future, keeping me from being able to rest. My cat didn’t seem to have any trouble settling down at all and after a few minutes of purring, fell fast asleep. I was pondering, not without some jealousy about how cats are able to shift gears so effortlessly when suddenly it was as if I merged with my cat and got to experience ‘cat-ness’. There was no past, no future, only the moment. And that moment was nap! Every part of his being was 100% invested with total ease, in napping. It was glorious!  Continue Reading →