It's delicious...

As the leaves open and the warm winds return, I find myself moved.

Moved to move.  To connect with the ground.  To look to the skies, and sit by the water…

Each moment I spend outside feels a bit sneaky – as if it’s a moment I have stolen from some other galaxy. The warm air and bright colors feel other-worldly and… I LOVE IT!!!

So I am heading outside every day, even if only for a few stolen moments. I am following my kids out to the stream, I am calling friends at lunchtime and simply requiring them to meet me for a walk – no excuses… I am eating my breakfast and dinner out on the lawn (and swatting those buggy bugs away) and heading to the ocean every chance I get...

It’s delicious.

I hope you are feeling it too!

Seeking our innate wisdom...

Our lives are convoluted, complex... and the interconnecting elements often are unknown to us until we step back from the busy-ness to find them.

It's usually something immense that forces us to take that step - birth, death, loss, love...but spending time regularly in nature gives us access to that wisdom in bite size pieces.

How we experience nature shows us much about ourselves. If we make a practice of being outside, we see so much more of what is happening within.

So...if you're seeking your own innate wisdom, don't hesitate. Head outside. Today.

It's worth it.

Gratitude isn't always easy

Until the onset of this summer, my family had a practice of giving thanks for something before our evening meal.  Once the routines of school ceased, we somehow... forgot. We got busy moving house, not everyone was home all the time, we found that most evenings we were busy just DOING all the wonderful things we loved to do. So...our practice of being thankful - along with some other good habits like brushing teeth every night, and going to bed at a reasonable time - fell by the wayside.

When the shit hits the fan and life gets busy, it can be so hard to keep a positive outlook. The exhaustion. The very real physical, emotional and mental effort it takes to get through a day can really sap my energy, and some days it can feel so inauthentic to muster up Gratitude. There is still, after all these years of spiritual practice, a little voice within me that still says "How trite! How can you say you are thankful for your family when (really) they have annoyed the hell out of you today with their neediness and whining". Ouch. Am I really such a horrible person?

When I quiet that horrid voice, I find that I miss the repetitiveness of the daily Gratitude Practice - family, food, sunshine, friends. Yawn.

I miss the insights: Chickens. Mudboots. Spiderwebs. Icicles. Toilet Paper. The Supermarket. Teachers. Friends. Airplanes.

One particular morning last winter, my newly-5-year-old daughter gave thanks for the sunshine that had just risen on the lake outside our window. She was right, of course - it sparkled on the ice surface, with a rainbow of muted colors that somehow we had missed seeiing until that moment. Almost every day last winter she gave thanks for the warm air coming out of the Rinnai, for music and for her friends.

I am so thankful for her ability to see what I cannot...really, for my incredible life - the places I get to call home, my loving family spread far and wide, the people who swirl around me.

Every day is different: small things to honor in our lives - sometimes mundane, always essential, and yet it's not always easy to see and feel the connections.

Stepping outside each day helps me reconnect with the essential practice of giving thanks for everything I have.

So this month we start over.

What are you thankful for, today?

Remember...

The very things that we treasure and love have come to us over time.

The habits that support us the most aren't created overnight.

Spectacularly beautiful moments are not on the calendar.

Wonderful things do happen. Often.

Awe is a state of mind.

Be kind to yourself. Take it slow. Breathe. Step outside, for YOU.

With love,

Mish

Paying Attention

THEME OF THE WEEK: Paying Attention

How can we support our own best selves?

How can we pay more attention to our lives - to the things we do every day, the people we welcome into our private spaces, to the thoughts we entertain, and the habits we allow to continue?

Mindfulness, of course. But how?

Seek happiness in the little things...the swirl of the butter on your toast in the morning, the rustle of your shorts as you walk down the path... the look you share with a friend that turns to laughter, the moment where you delight in the feeling of the breeze in your hair, or the bird call you hear as you open your car door.

These small gestures, sounds and moments of awareness become a part of your "happiness blueprint" as they become more conscious. A detailed plan, of sorts...a "map" of experiences and possibilities that are the structure upon which you can build your day - the little things that you really do need to have in your life, and which accumulate into a sense of belonging, subtle joy, and deep contentment.

I'd love you to bring as many nature and outdoor experiences as you can into the picture, into your "blueprint"... in whatever way you can!

After some time - perhaps not very long - you will notice yourself begin to crave mindful moments every day - to connect with the fresh air, the light, the contrasts and patterns, and the surprises that nature brings. 

Pay attention, and reap the benefits!

Wishing you a fabulous day :) xx

5 Ways to Stop Stressing Out

Stressed out? Overwhelmed? Need to take a chill-pill?

Feeling stressed out is our physical and emotional response to feeling as though we don't have the resources to deal with a challenge we have in front of us. It feels AWFUL, and often it can make us feel as though EVERYTHING is insurmountable.

Before you grab that bottle of Xanax, I have some amazingly simple ways for you to reduce your stress levels and get your juju back... QUICKLY!

1. BREATHE. Sit upright in your chair, or on the ground. Put both of your hands gently on your the sides of your ribcage, and breathe in deeply enough to feel your hands move apart. See if you can actually feel your diaphragm (the wide flat muscle under your lungs at the base of your ribs) broaden and stretch out, and then collapse again as you breathe a long breath out.

Breathe in and out 10 times.

You should notice that your ribcage opens up, and even maybe rises a little with each breath. You will probably also notice that your lung capacity increases a bit each time. Don't force anything, just eek a little extra breath in (and out) each time, and notice the incremental differences. One thing I like to do is to count in and out, and add a number each time - maybe counting to 5 for the first breath, and be at 15 for the last one.

THINK ONLY ABOUT YOUR BREATH THROUGHOUT THIS ACTIVITY. THIS IS IMPORTANT!

2. OPEN THE DOOR AND STEP OUTSIDE. It really is that simple. When the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, instead of reacting to it as you always do, excuse yourself...head to the door... and step outside for a few minutes.

Take a little walk, sit down in the sunshine, stomp a little bit, go stand in the wind, put your hands on a tree... do something out of your ordinary routine to connect yourself with something bigger and bring a little perspective to your situation.

Once you have had the chance to calm your mind and re-set your equilibrium, you can step back inside, and re-enter the fray!

3. SMILE. Smiling is a sure-fire way to trick your brain into thinking it is happy, even when it's not, because our brains think that when we are smiling... everything is groovy (!)... and go on to release endorphins and seratonin.

It's the same reason we love eating chocolate, or exercising, or having sex... but it's so EASY TO DO, and the logistics are less tricky than have a quickie when you're in a tizzy.

4. GO FOR A WALK:

"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking" (Nietzche)

Walking helps you to calm your nerves, gets you thinking creatively and openly about your problems, and - when taken with a friend or colleague - can also help you to feel more connected to others. 

"Walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster," says Sara Warber, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

5. GRATITUDE:

Take a piece of paper (it can be a napkin, or the inside flap of a book you are reading, or a receipt!) and a pen, and jot down 5 things you are grateful for.

5 things that when you look at your situation, or your life, stand out as things that bring you joy, peace, pleasure, a sense of belonging, a feeling of freedom, that make you feel strong, or beautiful, or that allow you to have love in your life.

Don't overanalyze it - just write them down.

Then read your list over and actively give a little prayer of thanks for each item. This doesn't have to be a religious prayer - a simple "thank you" will do.

Slip that piece of paper into your pocket and pull it out again a few times during the day and then hide it somewhere you can find it later...

***

I hope these techniques help you remember that you have the strength and tools you need to tackle ANY challenge, and when you don't there are always ways to figure it out. The first step is a calm mind and an optimistic approach.

How do YOU deal with stress? I would love to hear more great ideas!

Grounding, the earthy kind...

As a kid, I loved springtime - I loved taking my shoes off and walking outside for the first few times and standing in the warming soil. After a winter cooped up in shoes and socks, my feet were invariably thin, white and soft. They would slowly toughen up after 5 or 6 times walking around outside... and the time spent walking tentatively and delicately over rocks, roots and bitumen, and burying my toes in the soil felt exquisite.

I grew up in south-western Australia where most people think it's sunny all year long. It is, actually. But "cold" is a relative term...and when the winter rolled around we would "rug up" - wearing scarves, a long socks, and fleece jackets to combat the (almost) freezing temps... We'd pull our shoes and boots out of storage, gleefully wearing them and stomping around like Paddington Bear in the rain and puddles of autumn and winter.

We are seasonal animals, no matter where we live, and we crave the shift and change of the seasons. I notice this now, more than ever, living in a place that prides itself on having 5 seasons (summer, fall, winter, spring and MUD SEASON!)... but more than that I notice how quickly I shift my perspective as the seasons change. I can forgive the harshest winters in honor of the wonder of the season that is upon me.

Take now, for instance. 

It's May. I am sitting outside, listening to the songs of the birds, and the squeals of my kids as they splash and play by the lake. My feet are deep in the grass, and I can feel the sun on them. I feel in touch with the earth in a way that feels both familiar and strange. It has been over 6 months since I was able to pull my shoes and socks off and connect with the earth in this way and it feels... exquisite.

I had heard of the practice of Grounding... so I googled it, to see if there was something I could do to enhance the experience for myself. Here's what I found...

Our bodies have a high percentage of water in them, which is great for conducting electricity.  Not so good if you get hit by lightning, but GREAT for intentional ionic transfer. The earth has a negative ionic charge, and going barefoot "grounds" our bodies to that charge - we bring the negative ions INTO our bodies by connecting directly with the earth. THIS IS A HEALTH BENEFIT: Negative ions help to detoxify, calm, reduce inflammation, and balance both hormonal cycles and physiological rhythms of our bodies. That sounds good to me.

FREE MASSAGE: remember those Reflexology charts of the foot? By walking barefoot, you activate so many more reflex points than by walking in flat innersoled shoes. It's a foot massage! For free!

Here is a visualization activity that is a little woo-woo but I found it really worked! If you want to dive deeper, click on the source link :).

With both feet firmly planted on the ground, energy flows up through the right foot, up the right side of the body, crossing over to your left side, flowing down the left side, and out the left foot, back into the Earth. You can think of the body as a having a upside down U shaped channel through which this energy flows, with your right side receiving energy up and the left side sending energy back down. Consciously rooting yourself into the Earth helps to complete this loop, forming a strong connection with Earth energy, in turn strengthening and focusing your own energy, preparing you to connect with those existing on the Earth plane, or on other planes, such as the Spiritual Realm.

To visualize this happening, simply place your feet on the ground, hip width apart, imagine energy coming up through your right foot, travelling up your right leg, your thigh, your hip, your stomach, your chest, and through your throat to your crown. Then imagine this energy flowing back down through the crown, following the left side of the body, until it exits through the left foot, back into the Earth. Give it a color that resonates with your connection to the Earth - gold, dark brown, red clay, moss green, ocean blue - whatever feels right to you.

SOURCE LINK: EARTH ENERGY HEALINGS

As I watch my kids play outside, and connect with my own feeling of connectedness and flow from playing outside (as both a kid and adult)... I am inspired to find ways to bring more of that simple freedom into my own outdoor experiences.

It starts with feeling grounded and connected, and goes from there. It takes courage to spend time to toughen up your feet, to get in touch with the soil... not to mention a few toe-stubs, ouchies, bug bites and the issue of dirty toenails...but by the smiles on my kids faces... I'm thinking... "it's totally worth it!".