Interconnected

We are all interconnected. At certain times in specific places, we find ourselves thrust into a perfect stranger’s life for a purpose, for a greater good. With our minds, hearts, and spirits open we can answer those callings and better serve each other when it is needed most.

On a random Thursday evening as I drove home from work, I found myself strategically placed in one of those very situations. If it hadn’t been for my dog Bella in the back seat who alerted me, I could have very well ignored and missed such an important calling.

I was driving on the same busy route I did every day, when Bella started to whimper. I can’t even remember why I had her with me that day, as my husband usually brings her home because she goes to work with him, but she was with me and began to growl and whimper in a way I had never heard before. She prompted me to turn to see what was going on, and that is when I saw a dog that was not moving on the side of the road, surrounded by a crowd of people. My initial instinct was to keep driving because I did not want to hold up traffic. My mind told me someone in that group would do something, but the as quickly as that thought entered my mind another screamed, “TURN AROUND!”

I listened.

I pulled up to the crowd and asked what had happened. Someone told me that the dog had been hit by a car, and the driver took off. As I was speaking to a woman in the crowd, a family from directly across the street had come to the scene and picked up the dog. They walked back to their house so I followed, and pulled into their driveway. Everyone was scattered and unsure of what to do. I called the cops. A police officer came shortly, and I asked him what to do. The officer very coldly replied that if the owner is not present, then he could not move the animal. My anger spilled over, and I told the young boy who was holding the animal in his arms on the grass to get in my car with the dog. We were going to the local vet.

I will never forget the look in the dog’s eyes. He was frightened and unsure, and he was struggling to breathe. The young boy sitting next to me was so brave. He held the dog and petted him. He kept saying, “maybe its just a broken leg,” but I knew better. We rushed to the first animal hospital I saw, and begged for help. The young man at the front desk was only a vet tech and he couldn’t do anything. He told us to go to the animal hospital less than a mile away. We scrambled back into my car and I drove as fast as I could. I just wanted to get there. It felt like it took forever. Thoughts tumbled through my mind of how someone could hit a sweet, loving animal and drive away. I was angry as adrenaline surged through my veins. Maybe he would be OK? If only I could get there.

Looking back on my experience, I was really taken aback at how quiet Bella was in the backseat. It was like she knew what was happening.

We finally got to the second animal hospital and the woman at the front desk happened to be on the phone with the dog’s owners. She lifted the dog’s lips and saw pale gums, which I knew was bad. She told the woman on the line to come immediately. His name was Looch. At that moment was when I realized how grave Looch’s injuries were. He was bleeding from everywhere. The vet came from the back with a concerned look on his face and whisked Looch away. I gave the woman at the front desk my phone number and asked her to call me with an update. I brought the boy home and thanked him. He kept it together. As I was pulled out of his driveway and the adrenaline subsided, my world came crashing down. I burst into tears. I wanted to help so badly and wish I could have done more.

15 minutes later, I called the animal shelter. The woman at the front desk told me Looch had passed away. I lost it. It was just so unfair. I told the woman that I wanted the family to call me. I wanted to be there for them. I wanted to tell them that I tried, that I cared, and that I was sorry.

I picked up my son up from daycare and tried to put on a happy face, which I am terrible at. I pushed through to his bedtime, and then grabbed a bottle of wine and went on my back porch. I sat on my back porch that night for a long time drinking wine trying to erase the image I had of Looch’s eyes. I wished that I had comforted him more in his last moments.

The owner called me that night and we cried together. She told me that her electric fence had gone down, and that both of her dogs got loose. Her other dog was OK, but Looch, the medium sized black and white love who was only 3 years old, was the one who passed. She told me they didn’t get to the vet in time to be with him. I told her I wished I could have gotten there sooner. She reassured me that it wouldn’t have mattered. His injuries were overwhelming. I told her I was angry at the person who hit him and drove away, and I told her of the brave boy who held Looch so lovingly in his arms. She cried and told me that it meant everything to her knowing he did not die alone on the side of the street and that he was in someone’s arms who loved him. Looch loved to cuddle. She told me I was her angel. I explained that Looch was surrounded by people who loved him and cared, but it just wasn’t enough. Since that day, I have been in touch with her many times. She says I have been a tremendous source of love, light, and comfort for her and her family.

I truly believe I was meant to drive by that day at that time. There is a greater meaning in everything if we can take a moment to look around and see it. We are all interconnected to one another. I was put into her life, not to save her dog but to comfort her and it was an honor. I listened to the call and did what the universe wanted me to do. It was hard. It is still is hard. But I was awake, my eyes were open, and my heart was filled with nothing but love. I have since let go of my anger, realizing that on that day, there was so much more good in those moments than bad. And the bad side of the story has since unfolded. The person who hit Looch was a teen boy driving by who was friends with the boy who held Looch in my car. He drove away because he couldn’t bear the weight and gravity of what happened. It was accident and he was devastated.

Walking meditation

Putting one foot in front has helped me practice non-judgement, love, and presence.

As a former 5X-a-week Crossfitter, the idea of walking as a means of exercise is something I have always dismissed. It wasn’t until I decided to leave Crossfit all together during my first pregnancy because it just didn’t feel right anymore, that I fell into a slump of non-doing. I gained 65 pounds, and have struggled to lose the weight. It was hard to walk away from Crossfit because I wanted it to work for my life and schedule. I couldn’t dial down the judgement I felt of not being able to keep up and the pressure to compete against my peers.  I soon realized after multiple attempts pre and postpartum that it just wasn’t serving me anymore. I had to let it go for now.

I went to a tarot card reading a few weeks ago, and the woman told me to walk.

“Walk,” I said. “You mean for exercise?”

She told me yes. She then looked me square in the eyes before I could get another word in and said that it was enough. I heard my own voice in my head follow her words with, “You are good enough.”

Since then, I have been trying to put one foot in front of the other for 30-60 mins every day. No judgement, no pressure, just walking. As a working mom, my time is absolutely precious so I have begun to explore the idea of walking meditation. It has quickly become the perfect way to exercise and heal the body and mind at the same time.

Just go, don’t think

We do enough of that anyways, right? Take this hour to practice no mind as you enjoy your surroundings. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you hit the pavement.

1.) Don’t let your mind talk you out of it. Just put on your shoes and go. If you don’t have your shoes, walk in sandals, if you can’t find your sandals go barefoot (even better)! Don’t measure your distance or time, just walk.

2.) Take it all in. The sounds, smells, sights, and sensations. Enjoy them, or perhaps start by simply noticing them. We overlook and tune out the vibrancy of life every day because we are busy and distracted. This is your time to notice and enjoy.

3.) You don’t have to follow each thought. When a sound or sensation triggers a thought or memory acknowledge it, but choose not to follow it. Let it come in and then let it go. Focus back on the present moment.

Just breathe!

If you are feeling particularly distracted, simply come back to your breath. This is your restart button. If all you do for 5-10 minutes is walk and focus on your inhale and exhale, you will experience peace, presence, and love.

It is worth it and so are you.

The path of least resistance

I took a hiatus for awhile. Maybe because I thought my effort in writing down my experience wasn’t worth it or because I let judgment and fear seep in.

I had two card readings this past week, and got a very clear message from my guides and the universe that I need to blog. So here I am again. No frills, just my raw experience.

According to the universe, all signs point to a life of light work. This is nothing new, just the affirmation that I am not crazy. I finally feel as though I have some direction. I have always felt an intense need to help others heal, a need that at times feels so big and so heavy. I feel clear on what my path will be, knowing that I can go kicking and screaming and end up in the same place or effortlessly. I choose the path of least resistance.

As I sit here, feeling dejected at my job, numb, and stuck, I try to practice patience. My time will come to leave. I can handle the pressure, the stress, the impossible expectations until then. I will have my time for autonomy and purpose.

The scariest part so far about exploring a career/life purpose in healing is the fear of not being able to provide financially for my family. It keeps so many of us stuck, frozen. I have to learn to trust my instincts, listen to my intuition, and go. The universe will provide everything I need.

At this point, I am trying to let it flow as my sister would say. I am keeping my heart open to all holistic modalities to see what calls to me. I will then need a plan and the confidence to go for it.

We will see how that goes!

Spiritual Awakening: Boston Marathon Bombing

As a species, our beautifully complex, evolving minds that were once used to create, invent, and solve have since turned on us. Incessant, negative thinking plagues our beings, hiding the essential “on” and “off” button to our minds.

In western civilization, we label it anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, etc. In a much simpler realm, it is the misfiring of a powerful tool that has gone haywire. But what if we could free ourselves from this torment? What if we could find peace, fulfillment, love, and space?

A shift in consciousness

What exactly is a spiritual awakening? It’s certainly hard to define, as it is something so vast and so unique to each individual. From what I’ve learned, a spiritual awakening can happen at any time and can be caused by something as significant as a near death experience or by nothing at all. It is simply and extraordinarily a shift in your consciousness, in your mind, in your soul.

My path to awakening started with Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. It’s hard to pinpoint what the catalyst for your awakening will be, but like I said, it could be something as profound as death or as simple and surprising as a book.

The Bombing—April 15, 2013

With Marathon Monday having just come and go, I revisited the day when I found myself at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. I was with my husband, my mother and father-in-law, my aunt, uncle, and cousin. When the first bomb exploded, we were on the opposite side of the street. I thought to myself, “wow that was a really loud celebratory canon.” A few moments later, the second bomb went off across the street from where we stood, frozen. I was thrust into a state of presence I have never experienced before and may never experience again. My ears were ringing, just like in the war movies, and a cloud of smoke made it impossible to see. When the cloud started to clear, and I realized that the dense crowd adjacent to me had vanished before my eyes, my brain desperately tried to process it all. But, it couldn’t process it, and for a brief moment everything inside of me was still and at peace. Then, the scene erupted. It was the kind of desperate chaos you only witness when people are reacting in a truly visceral way. People were running over one another in fear of another blast. I felt myself bracing physically and mentally for it. An image of my own body being thrown into the street from the next blast flashed through my mind. I guess I thought that if I could in some way prepare for what may come, maybe I would be better equipped to survive.

The interesting part of what I just said above is the dialogue with “one’s self” as if it were a separate being. When I had the vision of “myself” laying in the street, “I” was the watcher, an outside of my physical body. This experience has only come to hold meaning for me recently.

My sister-in-law and other cousin were running their first marathon that day. They never reached the finish line. They did, however, run Boston the following year and they both finished.

Having been separated from our family in the chaos and later reunited as we walked on foot out of the city for miles and miles, we all felt numb. Numb from what we felt, what we saw, what we did and didn’t do. There was a shift in my body, mind, and spirit. But even after that kind of an event, I wasn’t ready to journey inwards. The anxiety was too strong, the worry was too suffocating. In the months and years to follow, I was simply trying to get by and cope with the new world I felt I had emerged into. Four years later, a book is what started my spiritual awakening. How interesting…

I feel that I have only just begun my journey inwards. Thinking less and feeling more, judging less and listening more is a wonderful practice I try to put to work every day. When I find myself drifting, judging, labeling, or spiraling into a frenzy of negative self talk and unproductive thinking, I find my way back to my breath. It’s truly impossible to snowball into obsessive anxiety when you assign your monkey mind the task of observing your breath. After a few breaths, I can feel the space fill in again. I am at the tip of an iceberg, and am hopeful for what lies beneath the surface. Instead of beating myself up for not meditating in the way my mind thinks I should (legs crossed, eye closed, incense burning), I give thanks to the 5 mins or the drive to work where I am able to center myself and enjoy inner stillness and peace. Every second that offers space and peace in my life is profound.

What is Matcha?

For centuries, matcha has been used to aid in meditation. During long hours of sitting, monks would drink matcha to remain alert and calm.

Matcha is the finely ground powder form of green tea.

Unlike the more traditional green tea leaves used in commercial tea bags, matcha is harvested and processed differently. Shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest, the plant Camellia sinensis produces more theanine and caffeine. This combination of chemicals is considered to account for the calm energy and clarity people feel from drinking matcha. Once the leaves are dried, they are stone ground into the beautifully vibrant green, fine powder we know as matcha.

Because matcha is ground into a fine powder, you are consuming the entire leaf versus the liquid that remains after steeping a tea bag in hot water. Consuming the actual leaves means you are consuming all of the amazing goodness along with it.

Health benefits of matcha

  • Fights infection, protects against disease. Antioxidants…those lovely little chemical compounds the Western world cannot get enough of. And rightfully so. With their anti-aging and disease-preventing properties, they keep you energized, healthy, and able to fight off infections and diseases. Catechin EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate), also found in matcha, have powerful cancer-fighting properties as well.
  • Creates a sense of calm and focus. You can thank this beloved amino acid, L-theanine, for this. As an avid coffee lover, it takes something pretty awesome to make me even consider ditching my morning (and afternoon) cup of joe for something green, and healthy. But, I have to say, the way I feel after drinking a delicious, iced green tea latte it better than any coffee caffeine high could ever be. With matcha you feel awake, not jittery, and alert. L-Theanine promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by inducing alpha waves. While stress can induce beta waves that leave you feeling excited and agitated, L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness.
  • Detoxes and restores. Chlorophyll, also found in matcha, is the element that gives green tea and other plants their radiant green color. It is a powerful detoxifier, helping to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body. And because matcha is carefully shade-grown, it is substantially richer in chlorophyll than other green teas.

Here is a wonderful site I found during my matcha research. For more information about the benefits of this green superhero, preparation tips, etc. visit http://matchasource.com/

Ready to give matcha a try? Stop by your local Starbucks and order a Green Tea Latte. Their latte is different from their regular green tea because they use matcha that is slightly sweetened. You can try it hot or iced, with or without milk. If you opt for dairy free, ask for a venti iced green tea with a scoop or two of matcha!

Drink up and enjoy!

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8 Reasons Why You Should Try Acupuncture

With so many amazing benefits, it’s hard to narrow this list down. But if I had to, it would look a little something like this.

Here are 8 reasons why you should try acupuncture at least once!

It doesn’t hurt, it feels good.

Friends and family always ask me if acupuncture hurts. I am fairly certain this is one of the biggest barriers of entry and reasons why people don’t try it.  So, I am here to set the record straight. Acupuncture DOES NOT hurt. Unlike the hypodermic needles used in your doctor’s office that are hollow and designed to inject or extract substances, acupuncture needles are hair thin and solid. They simply push the skin aside versus cutting through the skin as hypodermic needles do. Therefore, needle insertion is virtually painless. Now, I say “virtually” because in my experience there have been specific locations that elicit a sensation when a needle is inserted and are more sensitive than others. Those spots are specific locations in the ear and the top of the foot. The sensation I have felt is not painful, but rather feels like a burst of energy. Personally, I have come to look forward to these insertion points now!

It really works.

I initially tried acupuncture for fertility, and guess what, I got pregnant! Postpartum, when my son turned one years old and I stopped breastfeeding, I asked my acupuncturist to help with menstruation as my period had not yet returned. Within two months of acupuncture, my period returned. Other areas of focus have ranged from managing my anxiety to sleeping better, and I have experienced wonderful benefits for everything I have wanted to improve. Acupuncture has been the single most powerful method I have discovered next to taking a daily medication for anxiety. I hope one day I can come off of it.

It brings you to the present moment.

Like so many, I have a hard time meditating. In the past few years, my practice has improved, but it is still so hard to sit still and quiet my mind long enough to experience the benefits of daily meditation. Acupuncture effortlessly and almost instantaneously brings me to a state of peace. Once the needles are inserted and my eyes are closed, I immediately fall into a deep state of calm and bliss that I have yet to achieve in any other setting. No matter how stressful the day has been, acupuncture brings me to the present moment.

It turns your attention inwards.

I am constantly in search for answers in the external world. I very rarely look within myself for guidance. Maybe it’s because I do not trust my instincts and intuition because they somehow feel inferior to the pragmatic approach to decision-making that is so deeply ingrained in me. We are vessels with knowledge pools some of us never draw from. In a world where everything we could ever want to know is at our fingertips, we assume we couldn’t possible add any depth or perspective to the conversation. During my last reiki session, my practitioner told me that I need to get out of my head and start looking inwards for my answers. The perfect job, or perfect is not the key to my happiness. Acupuncture has an uncanny ability to help you turn inwards. It is then up to you to notice and put to practice what you uncover.

It helps you see what’s gone unseen.

When your eyes are closed, it is safe to assume that you can no longer see. But what about all of those beautiful colors and strange images that appear during your session? What do they mean? I’ve started exploring this area recently, as colors have become more and more noticeable during my acupuncture sessions. I first noticed them on one occasion when my acupuncturist put two stones in my hands after I had already closed my eyes. Throughout my meditation, I saw waves and waves of radiant white light. When the session came to an end and I opened my eyes, I looked down at my hands and saw two white stones! Here’s a really great article about seeing colors during acupuncture. The strange images and shapes you see can also hold great meaning if acknowledged and then applied to your life. Once you open yourself up to the universe and draw from your inner pool of knowledge is when you can really discover truth, answers, and guidance.

It re-balances and renews.

Our bodies are rich vessels of energy that are powerful and sacred. But in a society that is habitually focused on achieving at all costs, we often times let our body and mind become unbalanced, which in turn usually results in some form of physical or emotional discomfort. Acupuncture realigns and when necessary presses the restart button. Releasing stagnant, blocked channels allows our body and mind to once again flow freely and in sync with one another, ultimately bringing us closer to our true selves.

It offers a place of safety and warmth.

I long for that quiet, warm acupuncture room tucked away in a the charming old Victorian building I visit for renewal. I wish I could stay in that room forever. It is a space free of judgement, labels, stress, and pressure. It is a place just for me, that nurtures my body and fills my soul. When I am laying on that table, I am at peace. I am not afraid of tomorrow or sad about yesterday. It feels like I am sitting in front of a crackling fire, wrapped up in a big, warm, cozy fleece blanket, with a hot cup of delicious coffee in hand.

It is yet another step towards living a happy life.

It is never one thing that makes someone happy, truly happy. It is a combination of many things and an awareness and grounding in the present moment. Sounds simple, but it is not. It is necessary. And acupuncture is just one piece to the puzzle, but a very powerful one at that!

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Transform Your Commute into Your Morning Meditation

 

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” – Eckhart Tolle

As a mom of a beautiful one-year-old boy, you can imagine how busy my schedule gets. And when I do have a free moment, it’s usually spent eating or sleeping. But as someone who struggles with anxiety, meditating is not something I can compromise. I need it in my life. It’s just a matter of when I can squeeze it in to my daily routine.

Over the past few months, my morning drive to work has quickly and conveniently transformed into a time and space for centering and awareness. I’ve found that my anxiety reaches a clamoring crescendo once I have finally gotten myself out the door, late as always. I get into my car, open up my work email (which is merged with my personal…bad idea), and I immediately feel my body temperature and blood pressure rise. The to-do list unravels, the anxieties multiply, and my body starts to tense as I head into that familiar, numb place. If I let the stress of the day start there, I know what the outcome will be. So I have decided to use this glorious, quiet, 30-minute commute for my morning mediation.

Here’s how to transform your commute into a wonderful, enjoyable experience that sets you up for a great day.

Listen to a Guided Meditation

There is something about a guided meditation that works wonders for me. After finishing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle on Audible, I knew I had found something powerful. The sound of his voice and the beautiful sentiments he shares makes everything better.

Find your breath.

NEVER underestimate the power of your breath. I know it sounds stupid, but there is something to it. Breathing is something we all do all the time and never pay any attention to. But breathing is life. It’s everything. It brings you back to the present moment, to your body, to reality. During tomorrow’s morning meditation, pay attention to the life and energy you feel within in your body with each and every breath.

The story of I am

I love the reference to “I am” in Eckhart’s meditation. Your story is I am…not I was or I will. The present moment is all that we have. Becoming aware of what is real and happening around you is what Eckhart refers to as the “isness” of the moment. It is the only thing that is real. The past is not real anymore and the future has yet to happen. Why worry or think about either?

With a few centering breaths and a calming meditation playing in the background, you can find your way back to the now. This morning, I felt my hands on the steering wheel, I tasted really tasted the wonderful flavors in my cup of coffee, and saw the vibrancy of my surroundings even on a dreary, rainy New England morning. I didn’t want to leave my car once parked outside of my office. How funny and odd is that? I wanted to soak it all in for just a few moments longer. Who would have ever thought a commute could be so enjoyable!

Don’t forget to say your Morning Mantra!

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