Tag Archives: self-care

The timing of Thanksgiving — at the precipice of the darkest and coldest days of the year — turns out to be a helpful thing.

Just when the speed of life picks up and the weather closes in, we have the chance to pause and frame it all in the context of gratitude.

Our focus this week was inspired by a recent post by James Clear, one of my favorite bloggers. In it, he suggests that by changing one word, we can shift from being stressed to thankful, from harried to happy. Changing “I have to” to “I get to,” changes everything. It’s a wonderful, perspective-changing post and I hope you’ll read it.

These days, what with building a business as an author and artist, and my husband building us a house and the holidays building in intensity, the list of things I want to accomplish every day is long. Sometimes when I look at everything that is asking for my attention, my head spins…and sometimes I get crabby and resentful.

Recently, I’ve created a practice around my To Do List ~ espeicially when it’s got me feeling a little wobbly in the knees and tight in the heart. I practice looking at each item on the list in one of three ways: Self-Care, Service or Both.

I’m finding that at least one of the categories works for everything. When I’m carving out time for my yoga practice, I remind myself that getting on my mat is an act of self-care. When I’m cleaning the cat box and filling her food bowl, I think of it as an act of service. When I’m planning healthy, whole-food, plant-based meals, I remind myself that the time and effort it takes is an act of self-care for me, and service to anyone I’m feeding.

My favorite scenario is when I find a way for whativer I’m doing to be BOTH self-care and service. This morning, for example, when cleaning out the cat box, I squatted down in such a way as to stretch my hips and low back. Suddenly * BOOM *- the chore which I was doing in service to the Buddha cat ALSO became an act of self-care.

We all have full and busy lives and this season tends to pick up speed, momentum… and stress. See if changing your language from “I have to” to “I get to” changes how your To Do List feels. And while you’re at it, you can experiment with making everything on that list an act of self-care, service…or both.

Thank you, dear reader! I’m grateful for you. Happy Thanksgiving. 


brave thinkingWhat are your mind habits? How do you talk to yourself about your body, abilities, choices?

Do you treat yourself like your best friend … or not?
Do you hide the messy parts, the brilliant parts?
Do you make jokes so nobody else does?
Are the words in your head are sharp and critical?

What if those words are echoes left over from somebody else’s pain?
Seeds of heartbreak planted in you that you now tend and grow.

What if today you took the brave step of loving yourself madly?
What if you started a different conversation?
What if we did it together?


A brand-spankety-new-never-before-published article went up on Elephant Journal yesterday! You can check it out here:

and if you missed the last one, you can find it here:

Be part of our mindful movement: spread the love about taking practices out of the studio and into life!

self-healing handHealer?  No.  I’m a Self-Healing Encourager!

Self-healing begins with awareness.

Self-healing practice:  pay attention to sensation, move or change, then notice if it feels better.  “Yes, that feels better!”?  That’s self-healing.  Even small improvements!

Do it now.  Scan your body for something uncomfortable.  Pay attention.  Sense it fully.  Stimulate with movement.  Ask, “Is this making me feel better?”  If it feels even a little better, that’s self-healing!  If not, experiment with another stimulation (logical or not).

Practice self-healing any time, anywhere.  Notice, move and see if it feels better.  Self-heal by being with and caring for yourself.

Comment below!  “Like”!

BeautyHealing yourself is connected with healing others.  — Yoko Ono

Years ago, Debbie Rosas, one of The Nia Technique co-founders, said that all Nia teachers were healers.  I remember squirming at the idea.  Yes, Nia helped me heal a variety of injuries, both physical and emotional.  I saw myself as a movement instructor, a fitness guide, a coach, but a healer?  Not so much.

Self-Healing Encourager

For me, Nia is about SELF-healing.  Nia offers practices for SELF-care.  So maybe, I’m a Self-Healing Encourager.  As I see it, my role is to create an environment (in Nia class and on this blog) that leads to self-discovery, to noticing and mindfulness, to freedom and fun.  By encouraging awareness, I am encouraging self-healing.

The Mystery of Healing

Healing can seem mysterious and complicated.  A person’s genetics, family history, life style, and current state of wellness all contribute to their ability to heal.  And there are so many healing modalities!  A western doctor might well prescribe antibiotics for something for which an acupuncturist would suggest herbs.  There are thousands and thousands of approaches to healing.  What is a person to do?

First, remember that the human body is constantly healing itself.  Your body is always doing its best to move toward health and well-being – and your body is always giving you information about what it needs.  What we can do is pay attention and make choices based on what we notice.

Awareness:  Nia Principle 5

Awareness is Principle 5 of the Nia Technique.  Self-healing arises out of awareness. (Click here for Debbie Rosas’s article and questionnaire about Awareness.)  By paying attention to body sensations, we initiate the healing process.  As the Nia White Belt manual says, “[Self-healing] requires patience, attention, time, energy, love, and trust.  The beginning of a healing cycle is the moment you choose a different way of doing things.”

In Nia, self-healing is actually pretty simple*:  pay attention, make a choice and notice if it feels better.  First, notice the sensations in your body.  As I type this, I notice that my middle back is tight.  Our cultural habit is to ignore it, power through, and hope it goes away.  If it feels unignorable, take some ibuprofen!  Nia invites us instead to notice the sensation and then make a choice:  roll the shoulders, twist a little, stand up and stretch.  Then observe, see what happens.  “Is this stimulation making me feel better?”  Any time I can say, “Yes, that feels better” – that’s self-healing.  It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering.  Small changes for the better are still self-healing.

Humor a Self-Healing Encourager

Do it right now.  Wherever you are, scan your body for anything that feels not-so-good.  Sore hands, a headache or tender knees.  Now really pay attention.  Take some time to sense it fully:  is it slight, moderate or acute?  Is it hot, tight, numb, tingly or something else?  Is your range of motion limited?  Then stimulate whatever it is with movement.  (NOTE:  that stimulation might be “logical” such as rolling your shoulders for a sore shoulder, or it might be surprising like moving your hips to ease your knees, or shaking your whole body to soothe a head ache.)  Then ask yourself, “Is this stimulation making me feel better?”  If it feels better, even a little better, that’s self-healing!  If not, experiment with another stimulation (see note above about the non-logical).

An Ongoing Practice

In this way, self-healing isn’t a big mysterious, woo-woo thing, but a practice that we can be doing all the time.  As you stand at the kitchen sink, what needs healing?  Notice, move and see if it feels better.  As you drive to work, what needs healing?  Notice, move and then does it feel better?  If you go to a healer for help, stay connected to the process.  Rather than simply following instructions, follow sensation (including intuition) and make choices from there.

Your ability to self-heal is directly related to your willingness to be with and care for yourself.  This week, practice your own self-healing.  Slow down and connect to what you are experiencing and make choices that allow you to say, “Yes, that feels better!”  Help me be a Self-Healing Encourager and write a comment below or on the Focus Pocus Facebook page (and “Like” it while you’re there!) about what you experience!

* Disclaimer footnote:  I’m not a doctor or as I mentioned above a healer.  I’m a self-healing encourager.  Healing and self-healing is an enormous and complicated topic.  I realize that I’m offering a simple, daily practice.  That’s my intention.  I’m not curing cancer here, not offering a panacea for all health issues, and I’m not suggesting that any treatments (including ones that can feel not-so-good upon administration, like applying an antiseptic to a wound, deep tissue massage, or chemotherapy) aren’t sometimes very good ideas.  What I’m suggesting is that we can be aware of sensations and attend to them.  Whether we are generally healthy and have just been sitting at the computer too long, or if we are dealing with a major health issue, awareness is the first step toward healing.

Note to self:  when I pick a focus for the week, the Universe says, “Hey cool!  You want to learn from this?  Well HERE you go!”

As they often do, the focus has shifted and evolved this week.  (That’s the magic of inquiry and intent!)  I started out with “Luck isn’t what happens but how we see it” which expanded into “Expand your vision of what is happening to see the luck” to … well, then I started having a really poopie week.  Things didn’t go the way I’d hoped, I didn’t feel good, I was indecisive, and I wasn’t in the Grand Canyon with my sweetie anymore.  Craptastic.

I realized that I could be lucky and suffering at the same time.  Both can be true.  And it IS true:  the very fact that you are reading this post, evidently on some sort of World Wide Internet Web reading device, makes you one of the luckiest of the lucky on Earth.  AND sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.  I bet you have poopie days, too, days when you don’t feel so lucky.  We all do, of course, no matter how nice the house or full the cupboard or however you like to measure these things.

Does that make me an ingrate for not feeling splendiferous even though I rank in the most fortunate humans on the planet?  I would say:  Ingrate NO (at least not necessarily), Attached to Outcome YES.

Buddhist teachings remind us that the root of all suffering – ALL SUFFERING – is wanting things to be different than they are.  Think about that:  All suffering comes from wanting things to be different than they are.


You might say, “Well, hold on there, Little Miss Smartie Pants!  The world is full of injustice and tragedy and craziness that SHOULD be different than it is.  What are we to do?  Just be okay with it?”  Not at all.  We need to act and work to change the things that aren’t right.  We need to throw ourselves into doing whatever we can to make a difference, and then we have to let go of our attachment to how it all turns out.

We don’t have to start with world hunger or the national debt.  We can start with ourselves.  When I’m having a bad week and I wish I was hiking in Arizona instead of dealing with the detritus of everyday, I want things to be different than they are.  I’m attached to feeling differently than I do and I suffer (and sadly, so do those around me).  Instead, I can be with what’s happening, feel what I’m feeling without wishing it away.  I can talk about it with trusted people, I can take care of myself (I eat greens when I feel crappy and I think I ate two whole bunches of kale this week and one of spinach), I can do my best to help things shift and then I can let go.   The more I can stay with what is so, on a moment-to-moment basis, the more I can expand my vision and see the possibilities — the luckiness — in each of those moments.

So yes: I make my own luck, and the harder I work the luckier I get, and I am a lucky person if I believe I am …  and when I  don’t feel lucky (and I want to punch the Blogger of Relentless Optimism in the nose), I can pause and notice what I want to be different than it is.  Releasing my attachment to outcome can make the difference between being stuck in the crappiness and finding something new to feel lucky about.

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