Daily Miracle Practice

I always love how this practice makes me feel, whether I’m doing it on an already-great day, or whether I’m down in the pits. It shifts something, brightening the dark, or making my light shine even more brightly. 

  • Declare, “Today, a miracle will happen!” 
  • If you believe it at least a tenth of a percent, that’s enough to get yourself looking around for the miracle. The one who is open to receiving a miracle is the True Self. 
  • So, let’s look at the definition of miracle for this exercise. Here’s the one I use: A miracle is anything beautiful, kind, astonishing, touching, cool, surprising. It’s the huge incredible smelling roses that my neighbors grow in their front yard—and yes, I stop and smell the roses. When I do, I make sure I look at the color and vibrancy, inhale the incredible scent, and that I feel gratefulness for having this rose garden to walk by. Then I also make sure I notice the shift into the physical and energetic experience that comes with the appreciation. It’s really important to include the sensory shifts in your body and energy, as those help anchor you in your True Self. So I’ll notice how it’s easier to breathe, that my shoulders have dropped, that my energy feels lighter and some gladness fills my heart. 
  • When we allow ourselves to be grateful, we shift out of our ever-comparing left brain
    (which can get really negative) and into our right brain and heart. Gratefulness and appreciation activate the neurons in the heart and brain, balance the brain, and help us start to produce feel-good chemicals instead of worry or anger or fear chemicals. 
  • So don’t only look for the big miracles. Winning the Lotto would be nice, of course. But which Lottos have you already won today: the joy of a healthy deep breath of forest air; seeing a hermit crab walk along the beach; the kind smile of a stranger; the joy of your pet at seeing you. The more you take in, the more you see, the more you take in, the better you feel.


Accepting Yourself—You Are A Gem!

“When you love you fall under the waves,
if you never fall you can never be saved
sometimes it’s grace, sometimes luck
when a hand reaches out and you take it up.”
—Kathleen Dunbar, from my album The Storm in Our Head 

There is a wonderful therapist who was a leader in his field many years ago named Carl Rogers. When he was a boy he grew up on a farm. All winter the potatoes lay in bins in the cold basement, and there was only a small window far up on the wall in that basement. He was fascinated that even though the potatoes were given so little nourishment, that they nevertheless sprouted and sent their long tendrils upwards towards the light. He believed that the thirst for life in people is the same, that there is an inherent wholeness that seeks to grow and express itself.  

“From the oak, the mighty acorn grows.” —Folk Saying 

They might begin small, but seeds are powerful and grow into great things, the things they were always destined to be. When a client first arrives for sessions, I let them know I hear their greatest ache, and understand their greatest longing, and through the somatic work I do I give them an experience of their longing being met so that they can walk out the door with more of a sense of who they truly are. Then we continue to build on that. 

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” —Carl Rogers 

People want to know how they can “fix themselves” and often have a whole gallery of internal critics telling them what is wrong with them. The problem with critics is that they are so toxic that they stop any growth. Our critics and “voices” miss the main point, that just as we are, we are a gem. As we grow to realize and accept our own unique and valuable nature, and that we are precious just as we are, then we become freer to express, learn, grow and thrive. When we recognize the amazing seed of our unique nature, then we can care for ourselves, and help ourselves to grow into our full expression.  

The following are our birthrights. Which ones speak most potently to you? Likely you may find yourself believing the opposite. For example, you may have learned to believe that you have to do everything yourself, and you took on this belief because of experiences growing up where exactly that was the case. But if you sit quietly and go all the way under the belief, you will find a longing for just the opposite—that you don’t have to do it alone, that it’s okay to need. And—you made it this far! It’s your time now, your season right now—and just as you learned the limiting belief, you can learn to return to your birthright belief and experience. It may take a therapist or mentor or new community, and it will take some work on your part to let go of the old voices and the old belief, but you can learn to reach out, and you will be able to learn who are the very people who will reach back and give you a hand up. Healing and growth are possible! 

So tell your critic to take ten steps back for two minutes, and then take a look at the following from your sense of longing. That longing is key. Longing is the seed of you calling out. It is a direct line into your essential nature. Your amazing self is awaiting you. Yeah you! 

  • You matter.  
  • You are loveable. 
  • You are welcome—there is a place for you. 
  • All your feelings are natural. 
  • It is possible to be safe.  
  • It’s okay to be powerful. 
  • It’s okay to have needs, and it’s possible to find others who will meet them. 
  • It’s okay to ask for help.  
  • You’re don’t have to be alone—there are others who will help. 
  • You can learn to ask. 
  • It’s okay to be real. 
  • Being vulnerable and authentic is a strength others will appreciate.
  • You can say no and do it your way, and you’ll still be loved. 
  • There’s nothing you have to do to be loved—you are already loveable just as you are. 
  • There are people who will be willing to see you and hear you.
  • You are a gem!

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:

Simple Grounding Exercise

Comfortably seated, close your eyes and wiggle your sitsbones. Now imagine your feet on grassy earth. Breathe deep. Let go with a sigh. ⁣

Inwardly track your body for a pleasurable sensation—the chair supporting your back, the feel of the cloth of your pants on your hands, the warmth or coolness of your breath. Say, “Hello! There’s you!”⁣

Now track your body and find an ache and just be with it. Say to the ache in as friendly a way as you can muster, “Hello! There you are!” Remember the earth is turning, and that tomorrow will bring something different. ⁣

Lastly, track your body for an unknown place, somewhere you usually aren’t aware of, a mystery. Greet that place, “Oh hello! There’s you!”⁣

Take a deep breath, and enjoy your breath.⁣

“At the Beach”–A Short, Easy and Refreshing Grounding Exercise You Can Do Anywhere!

At The Beach* 

*A variation is to go into the forest where a river is flowing nearby. 

  • Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet room. 
  • Let yourself softly breathe in and out several times. On the outbreath make a sighing sound. 
  • Now imagine yourself at your favorite beach. It could be a real beach you’ve visited, or an imaginary one. 
  • For this exercise, this is a beach where only you may go, so you have a lot of privacy. 
  • Begin to fill in the details of your experience: Feel the warm sand under your feet, or the cool pebbles if it is a shingle beach. See the immense sweep of the beach. What trees are there? What birds? What color is the water? Smell the salt air. Fill in all the details. 
  • Now especially listen for the pounding as the waves fall upon the beach and feel the reverberation in your bones. Hear the ssssst as the waves withdraw. Be with that rhythm, ever constant and ever varying. 
  • Now, give one layer of anything that you’d like to let go of to the outgoing tide. It could be a tension, an ache, a worry, a tightness. Just one little layer at a time. Don’t worry about trying to give it all away. Just give a little bit to the outgoing tide, knowing that the tide will take care of it. If a thought or worry returns, just give that next layer away also to the tide. Notice your experience as the layer leaves out, out, out to sea. 
  • As you let go of little layers, allow yourself to begin to notice yourself feeling more space for yourself or perhaps it is yummy softening. You might notice you are taking a bigger breath—savor the bigger breath and the spaciousness in your chest. You might notice the pleasant weight of your bones, the warmth of your breath, your feet on the ground. As you feel yourself slowing down and your mind empties, savor the quiet and the slowing pace. Let yourself take time with any relief, peace, spaciousness, weight of your bones, calmness, slowness. 
  • Notice in a playful way who is noticing—this is your True Self, your Home Base You. 
  • Thank the world for it’s beauty, and notice what that thanking brings. 
  • Thank yourself for allowing yourself to be with the beauty, and noticing what that thanking brings.

Countering the Effects of Social Distancing through Live Video Connections with Friends and Family

Here’s a short video from Stephen Porges, one of the leading specialists on healing trauma through social engagement. It’s so important right now to reach out and both see and hear our friends and family on video and phone because that regulates our nervous systems, restoring resilience, aliveness, compassion and generosity. Texts and emails are helpful, but not enough: We are biologically wired to need to hear, see and feel others as we co-regulate. Though we can’t use touch during this time as we normally would, hearing a loved one’s voice and seeing a friend’s smile go a long way to help us ground and relax. Here’s the link:  Stephen Porges on Co-Regulating and Countering the Effects of Social Distancing