How to melt claustrophobia and panic.

airport flight meditation

What happens when you have a simple mindfulness practice that you can rely on?  Something you can pull out on demand, when you feel yourself starting to lose it and you absolutely need to be grounded and calm?

Here’s a story from one of my students, and how a simple practice has made a massive difference:

When I am overly tired or under high stress I get a little claustrophobic in elevators.  The feeling passes quickly enough so I haven’t worried about it, but in the last year I seem to feel that way a little more often than before.   

I was travelling back from a long, fun-filled weekend in Charlotte, NC last month and was scheduled to fly from Charlotte to Atlanta, then Atlanta to San Francisco.  I hadn’t had much sleep but the flight from Charlotte to Atlanta was fine.  I boarded the plane for the second leg of the trip okay and had a middle seat.  

All was well until the planes doors were closed and one of the passengers had to leave the plane because there wasn’t a seat for him. Continue reading “How to melt claustrophobia and panic.”

Unplug and recharge.

We all need to drop by the oasis from time to time.  That’s where you gather your strength, rest and reflect, and replenish yourself.

Because no matter how strong or determined you are, if you are out of synch and out of balance, you simply can’t be your best self.  If you don’t rest appropriately, everything starts to break down.  Failure to rest takes its toll on your work, health, and personal relationships.

Rest is valuable.  

Take time to unplug, sleep, play, and reconnect.  Replenish your mind and body, heart and spirit.  

Tree and greathouseI’d like to invite you to join me for a week of deep rest.   Continue reading “Unplug and recharge.”

Don’t I need anxiety to push myself and get things done?

Since I work with so many high-achievers, this question comes up a lot.  And it’s a really good question, because it shows that you’re thinking about your relationship to anxiety and stress.

My short answer is:  Anxiety can be useful from time to time.  But kindness is a better long-term strategy.

I like to think of it in fitness terms.

Let’s say you have really strong quads, because you train them every day.  But because that’s all you do, they become over-developed in relationship to the rest of your system — your hamstrings are underdeveloped and your psoas is tight — so your overall system is out of balance. Continue reading “Don’t I need anxiety to push myself and get things done?”

Mindful goal setting.

Last year, when I decided to resign from my “safe” corporate job, I knew that I would need community and structure to help me move forward into my new life.  I’ve stumbled through enough clumsy transitions in my life to know that some kind of plan was critical for me — even if my plan was “no plan”, I still needed framework and feedback to thrive.  That’s why the timing was perfect for my InnerYoga teacher training.  It was 13-months of study and practice.  It was the perfect community and support system for me.

And now, as 2013 draws towards a close, I want to share more of what I know about mindful change.  Continue reading “Mindful goal setting.”

Let the pain move through you.

Stay, love, and be willing to breathe in the storm.  Stay, love, and let the tears come.  Sometimes pain comes like a wave.  It builds into a terrible peak and then crashes, threatening to drown you, over and over again.  Sometimes pain gathers and moves in like thick clouds.  Pain can be sharp and bright, achey and dull, immediate like lightning or creeping like fog.  It can be sticky, heavy, and thick.  Or so thin and cold that it burns.

Feel the pain move through you.  Breathe deeply, let your mind, heart, body, and soul be easy.

The impulse is to run. Continue reading “Let the pain move through you.”

Be a ninja.

I wanted to call this post “How to keep your inner chill when surrounded by crazy people,” but that felt too long and not quite the point I want to make.

I’m thinking about the Bar Exam.  Also certain family gatherings.  And occasional corporate town hall meetings.  Any time I felt like I was surrounded by people who were kinda crazy, and I was concerned about getting sucked down into the crazy with them. Continue reading “Be a ninja.”

Prayer for relief.

Lawyers are on my mind and in my heart today.  I was in law school when a light-bulb went off for me about praying.  I went to a Jesuit university, though I’m not Catholic and wasn’t raised in church.  Praying wasn’t part of my regular life.  But working as an extern for a Federal District Court judge, I read a lot of motions.  I often came upon this phrase:  prayer for relief.

And I realized:  Oh!  To pray means to ask.  Continue reading “Prayer for relief.”

There’s room for you here.

I’ve been spending time at the Botanical Garden.  It is Spring and so things are blooming.  Also, the Botanical Garden reminds me of someone I care about very much.  Some years ago, before Parkinson’s, we spent an afternoon walking through the garden and he told me all about the plants.

There are some very fascinating plants there:  the aptly-called monkey hand plant, all the feathery and colorful protea from South Africa, and the unusual grass tree from Australia.  There is the century plant that blooms once every ten years, and then dies. Continue reading “There’s room for you here.”

Love the body you wake up with.

There is a sweet and beautiful moment that happens every morning.  As you lie in bed, heavy and warm, your heart and lungs gently snuggled against each other, each soft breath and loyal heart beat pressing you from the inside out, you begin to wake up.  Your breath shifts so slightly.  You become aware of being in bed, of the weight and heat of your body beneath the covers, of how the sheets feel against your skin. Continue reading “Love the body you wake up with.”

Taste freedom.

We were supposed to meet for dinner, but then I received his text:  I have to cancel.  I have to wind down the company as our funding got pulled tonight.  He is my friend and the company is an extension of his deep belief that there is a better way to do X.  He sees this possibility and so for the last four years has poured himself into making it exist in the world.

And now this.  A kind of freedom. Continue reading “Taste freedom.”