Move—Pray—Create—Sing—Love

There are essential acts and states of consciousness which we can identify and use to create a foundation to help us ground, grow, connect and thrive in both good times and times of stress (like during COVID-19). 

I’ve boiled down the essential structure of safety and aliveness into the following seven areas. 

Move. Connect with your body. 

  • What: Exercise, do yoga, stretch, walk, hike, garden, dance. 
  • Why: Movement connects you to your body, flushes out stress-hormones, and replenishes you with feel-good hormones.  

Learn. Connect with your mind. 

  • What: Read, listen to inspirational or humorous podcasts, listen to a PBS history documentary, listen to interesting audio books, ask someone to teach you how to do something, exchange recipes with friends and try them out, find out how to make something on YouTube (I learned I could make a foamy latte at home by pumping heated milk up and down inside my French Press!) 
  • Why: Learning engages and balances the brain. You can’t be scared and curious at the same time, they are two different brain functions and two different parts of the brain. Learning helps you feel alive and helps you feel safer. 

Mindfulness. Connect your mind with your heart. 

  • What: Listen to meditation apps like Calm, use your sitting practice, listen to calming music, especially music with no language, or a language other than your own and let the music take you somewhere. 
  • Why: Practicing mindfulness creates and grows new neural circuits that help you return to, and live from, your Wise Self. You learn and embody resiliency, wider perspectives, compassion including self-compassion, and curiosity.  

Gratefulness. Connect with your heart.  

  • What: Sit, stretch and yawn, bring to mind something of beauty, kindness, appreciation, “take the elevator down” from your head to your heart, feel the gratefulness as a feeling, even putting your hand on your heart to really help you move from your thoughts to present sensations. 
  • Why: There are neurons in your heart as well as your brain. A lot of them! A felt, embodied sense of gratefulness helps us move from busy left brain, to more embodied, more compassionate right brain, balances all brain functions, flushes out stress hormones, turns on feel good-hormones, and calms and grounds us. 

Play. Connect with your creativity. 

  • What: Play a board game, learn how to sing a song, bake something you’ve never baked before, play a word game with your child, paint, draw, sketch, make a collage from magazine pictures and scraps, journal, do a puzzle, make a playlist and listen to music, make a silly video for Facebook! 
  • Why: You can’t be afraid and playful at the same time. If you allow yourself to play, you bring your brain back into balance. Allowing yourself to be creative actually helps you thrive and grow! 

Connect/Love. Connect yourself with your self, family, pets, friends, and the planet. 

  • What: Talk with friends and loved ones, pet the cat, walk the dog, snuggle, make a phone call, talk with someone far away on Skype, send a heartfelt or humorous email. 
  • Why: Love is the ultimate brain-balancer. A loving act given, received, or witnessed, helps us to let go of stress and bring in goodness, brings us out of busy thoughts into a more holistic way of being, and allows us to have compassion and gratitude for self and others. 

Nature. Connect with the planet. 

  • What: Watch the clouds pass by, listen to the wind in the trees, hear the birds, bring in flowers from your garden.  
  • Why: Connecting with nature is connecting with a force that is larger than oneself, and helps stimulate wonder, awe, appreciation, and fun. It helps us feel both our uniqueness and how our uniqueness is one small and beauteous expression of the larger, mysterious expression that is life itself. Awe balances the brain and inspires hope, peace and life force. 

Play with the bolded words to come up with your own words and activities to make your unique foundation.  

For example, this particular blog arose out of the following exercise. I was feeling overwhelmed with many projects, and I wanted to end each day feeling a sense of completion and refreshment. I decided to make a foundation by boiling down into the shortest words possible those acts and attitudes essential for a day to be fully satisfying for me. I came up with: Move—Pray—Create—Sing—Love and put them up on a little strip of paper on my fridge. Even if I don’t “get it all done” I can rest in the structure. It’s not about doing it all, it’s about feeling the structure. It simplifies things, because I can invite myself into what I know is helpful. 

  • For me that means Moving my body with stretching and yoga, and walks outside in Nature to expand my consciousness. 
  • Engaging my Mindfulness and Gratefulness practices. 
  • Learning and Playing through practicing singing, writing songs, and working on my novel (I’m a singer-songwriter and writer). 
  • Opening my heart to my partner, myself and others in acts of giving and receiving Love.

Gratefulness Reset Button Exercise for Calm

You can do this anywhere, anytime. Gratefulness and appreciation of things like beauty, nature and witnessed or received acts of kindness switch our neural circuits. It’s like changing the channel on the radio from a dire news story to a meditative talk or music channel. This simple exercise flushes out the stress hormones and chemicals produced from fight-fight-freeze responses, and engages our parasympathetic nervous system to produce feel-good hormones and chemicals that help regulate us. A few moments of doing this exercise can really facilitate a shift. Making it a regular practice helps it be an important tool in your toolkit of wellbeing.

  • Stretch your hands over your head and yawn and sigh aloud—this primes the pump of the right brain. 
  • Feel the little flow-and-glow of the stretch and yawn. 
  • Sit comfortably, neither slouching nor trying to sit up straight: find your sitsbones, let your spine rise from your pelvic bowl, allow your head to float on top of your spine. It’s okay to use the back of the chair to lean on, (just don’t slouch as slouching compresses your chest cavity and breath, which makes your brain start to be fearful as it isn’t getting enough oxygen). 
  • Breathe in your nose and out your mouth three times. On the outbreath make an audible sigh (ie, make a sound)—Ahhh. Making a sound when you sigh automatically signals your parasympathetic (calm down) nervous system that you are safe and allows it to produce the feel-good chemicals. 
  • Now bring to mind any of the following: a scene of beauty; an act of kindness you witnessed or received; the face of someone who cares about you (an easy person, not one you are having any difficulty with—the easier, the better), something lovely in nature.
  • Let yourself feel appreciation for this scene or person. 
  • “Take the elevator down”—bring the beautiful sunset, the caring face, down into your chest and notice the sensations in your chest that accompany the sunset, the care, the kindness. Pay especial attention to any of the following: softening, spaciousness, slowing, flow. 
  • If you want, you can put your hand on your heart and feel what happens with that. 
  • Notice who is feeling grateful—this is your True Self. 
  • Thank whatever is beautiful and kind; thank yourself for participating. Notice what this thanking brings.

If you’d like to hear some calming and inspiring music, please check out my original trance-ambient-world music album that is up for an award. This is my Blue Lilah project and the album is Medicine Songs, find it here:

Take-Anywhere, Awesome Reset Practice

The Body says:
I am a fiesta.  

-Eduardo Galeano 

Here’s an easy practice to press your reset button. It quickly gets your brain and body producing harmony-hormones instead of stress-hormones. 

  • Take-Anywhere, Awesome Reset Practice:
  • Big stretch
  • Yawn
  • Sigh out loud with a sound, Ahhh
  • Follow the warmth, release, flow
  • Three breaths, in nose, out mouth with a sigh.
  • Enjoy the stillness.

Say you’ve been slumped over looking at your computer for several hours. Did you know that the brain reads posture like opening a software program! 

When you are slumped or hunched over, you literally can’t get a full breath: your lungs can’t fully expand because your ribs are contracted. The result is that blood flow—and thus the amount of oxygen delivered to your brain—is noticeably less. Here comes the software program part: 

Because there is less blood delivered to the brain, and thus less oxygen to the brain, the brain reads “less oxygen” as “threat.” The brain doesn’t know you are just sitting too long staring at a screen. Instead, it reads the less oxygen as threat and signals your organs to produce hormones that deal with threat, and you start to feel a vague background sense of unease. 

In order to wash the stress hormones out of your system and bring a brighter view of life back online try the following. You can do this seated at your desk: 

  • Stretch your arms up and arch your back 
  • Yawn—a big one—show your fillings!
  • Make an audible sigh while you sigh, a sound, ahhhhhh. Making this kind of actual sound signals to your nervous system the you are safe.
  • Follow the warmth, flow, release from the stretch and yawn. Savor these feelings, like you’d savor a bit of biscotti dipped in a latte. Sit with the pleasure a few moments.
  • Now slowly breathe in your nose and out your mouth three times with an audible sigh on the out breath.
  • Lengthen yourself by “finding your sits bones”— wiggle your sits bones a few times, then let your spine rise from your pelvis, and sense your head floating naturally on top of your spine. It’s fine to use the back of the chair for light support. Don’t “sit up straight” as that is effortful. Instead find your sits bones and your body will naturally find peace with gravity.  
  • Finally, visualize something beautiful or remember a kind act you witnessed.
  • Then “take the elevator down” into your chest and let the felt sense of this fill you for a moment.

If you’d like some relaxing music, please check out my award-nominated Blue Lilah trance-ambient-worldmusic album Medicine Songs

Stop and Smell the Roses


When you literally stop and smell the roses, your heart lifts, and your brain and body give you feel-good signals that help shift the rest of your day. Where are the roses for you? Here’s a photo of my neighbors’ roses taken last spring! Right now as we are inside our homes, it’s so important to take time to stop and hear a bird singing outside, to smell a favorite meal cooking, to savor the first mouthful, to hold a loved one’s hand and look in their eyes, to feel moved by listening to a favorite song. Using the senses of the body–touch, taste, vision, scent, sound–help us ground in the moment. Better yet–go a step further and “take the elevator down” into your chest because when you stay for a moment or two with the appreciation of what you are sensing, your system swaps out stress hormones for feel-good hormones, your nervous system calms, and you ground.