Browsing Tag

self care

presence practices

Finding Rest

I find water restful. Baths, showers, beaches, swimming pools. I love the expanse of an ocean, the feel of water holding me up, the smell of salt water in the air and the sound of waves crashing. I love the smell of rain hitting the ground after a dry spell. Love misty rain, pouring rain, spotty rain.

My being resonates with water. And being in it, near it, even drinking it, recharges me.

But I’m not everyone. Maybe you resonate most with the earth, with lying on the ground and feeling that solidity holding you up, infusing you with energy.

Maybe space and air are the tonics that nourish you the most. Or being around animals.

For you, it might be fresh food and being in the kitchen. Getting creative with your hands and crafting beautiful dishes: smelling, tasting, touching food as you go. Cutting and arranging beautiful morsles of food for yourself or others.

Maybe music is what touches you, or deep silence, or the smell of old books. Art! all kinds of art. There are so many ways that we can be nourished by the world we live in.

And we all have a few different ways of being, different places we go to to feel rejuvenated.

And it’s probably not just one thing, either. All of the elements I just listed came to mind because they give me some sense of rest and ease. They fill me up in their own way.

What Fills You Up?

People are able to come up with their own list with just a few moments to think about it.

You probably have a few activities or environments that you rely on when you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to just settle into your beingness and rest a little. To recharge.

And sometimes it’s easy to forget those places, those ways of being. So it’s good to take a few moments every now and then to remind yourself.

The things we love can be so restful because they invite us in. If painting is your thing then you ‘re probably aware of  that sense of absorption that can come when you’re creating. Same with cooking, surfing, kitting, meditation.

The things we love invite us to listen closely. They call us to be present. They invite us to release our tight grip on our sense of self and expand a little. They allow us to let something new come in and fill us up.

When you do something restful that allows you to let go in this way you are touching some deep part of yourself that is often forgotten in the busyness of living.

I’m wondering if just soaking in this idea of resting helps you to see some possible changes you could make to nurture yourself more. Changes that might give you even more space and time to unwind a little.

And even if that needs to take place in a busy environment, just know that small opporunities can open up, or be opened by you. How do you know otherwise unless you try?

self-kindness holidays gift christmas
self kindness

Give Yourself The Gift Of Self-Kindness For The Holidays


The holidays can take a toll on us if we neglect our own needs. It’s easy to get lost in focusing on other people and events, and trying to check all the boxes. The Holidays are a time for connecting with the people we love, and it’s important to take care of ourselves too. Focusing on self-kindness is one way to help get you through the season without feeling too drained.

And it’s not about being selfish, or cynical: self-kindness helps us to be generous and loving to others through the Holidays, while offering the same love and care to ourselves.

So, with that in mind here are seven gifts of self-kindness you can give yourself these Holidays.

The Gift Of Permission

An especially valuable gift is to allow yourself to let go of expectations. Holidays can be a minefield of shoulds and obligations–from self and others. It’s important to give yourself permission to participate in the Holidays in a way that takes into account your own desires, energy levels, and a strong sense of who you are.

This involves consciously setting some boundaries. A nice way to think about boundaries is that you don’t create boundaries to keep other poeple out, you create boundaries for your own energy, to ensure you have what it takes to connect more meaningfully with the people you care for.

The Gift Of Time

The Holidays often descend into a dizzying blur of activity. It may seem impossible at first, but try taking the time to plan a little and slow down. Then slow down some more.

Think about where you might be able to give yourself some time buffers here and there. Can you cut some time from your shopping trip? The wrapping and preparation? Food preparation? Travel? All of these activities can get away from you if you let them. If you can’t cut time out can you spread little breaks for yourself through the time you’ve already committed to?

The Gift Of Space

I remember years back, being in line at a Barnes and Noble bookstore, pretty late on a Christmas Eve. It was jam packed and I can remember the claustrophobic feeling of standing there, people squeezed in on all sides, and a low-grade sense of anxiety rolling through the store. It was such a physical experience.

The holidays are a time where people come together, and hang out in small spaces. It’s worth noting that the people are often gathered together because they are family or friends with a shared history, and this can mean a lot of intense feelings, sometimes positive and sometimes difficult, can come up. That makes it especially important to make sure you can get some space when you need it.

My favorite way to do this is to go outside if possible. I’ll often go stand on the front porch, or in the back yard if there is one. Take a few minutes outside of the packed house, breathe in some fresh air, feel the open space around you and above you. You might be amazed at the difference one or two minutes can make.

If you can’t make it outside, try to find a quiet spot inside where you can just be alone for a few moments–the bathroom, kitchen, maybe a corner of the room where no one else is sitting.

The Gift Of Presence

Christmas is such a sensual time, and filled with beauty, too. Make sure you taste the food, smell the smells, enjoy coming in from the cold into a warm and cozy space.

Connect with yourself whenever you remember to. When you’re seated at the dinner table feel your feet on the floor, appreciate all the faces around you, take in the decorations, be as present as you can for each conversation.

The Gift Of Connection

Make the most of the moment. Who do you most want to catch up with at the family gathering? Who do you want to really touch base with at that party? Is there someone you don’t know who might be interesting to talk to? Keep an eye out for chances to craft your experience so that it resonates for you and others, allow yourself to give what you want to give and receive.

The Gift Of Rest

The Holidays can often take an emotional toll on your body, Whether it’s people you love being around, or not, emotions can get triggered. Underneath everything there’s a whole lot of emotional processing going on.

Be aware of that and allow yourself some downtime to let all this sink in and settle.

The best way to do this is to build in opportunities for rest. Take care to not overcommit to events, or tasks. If you have a long list of things to do, build in mini-rest breaks so you can pace yourself better through the day.

Put time for yourself on your to-do list! Give yourself a half hour somewhere to just put your feet up and recharge before you move onto the next taks or social event. Planning these mini-breaks ahead can really help. (Hint: Other people don’t have to know about this!)

The Gift Of Meaning

Some childhood memories I associate with Christmas include: midnight mass, pillowslips used as christmas stockings, and the slow tempo of Christmas Day spent quietly with the family.

What are the most meaningful memories of the holidays for you? It’s important to remember these and make the most of them. If your memories of the Holidays are not appealing, then give yourself permission to create your own rituals and ways of celebrating.

With the focus on family, and the sometimes overwhelming commercialization, the Holidays can be stressful. Many people are excluded and forgotten in the crush, and it can be the most difficult time of year for many.

In my early twenties I was in recovery from alcohol/addiction problems and feeling pretty alienated. An older member of my local A.A. group took me to a treatment center that had organized a gathering for A.A. members. There was ongoing meetings,free food, and no alcohol around, making it a safe and welcoming environment.

I remember feeling so grateful for the poeple who organized the event, how it allowed me to relax and connect with people and experience a sense of belonging on what would otherwise have been a very tough day.

Reaching out to people having a hard time is a great way to connect more deeply, and remember the real meaning of the Holidays.

Happy Holidays From Welcome Presence

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season. And hoping that you remember your own needs and celebrate as fully as you wish.

stay present in tough times
in the world

You Can Stay Present When Things Get Tough

Steam rising from your morning cup of tea, birdsong in the garden, the soft warmth of a blanket thrown over your legs, a small child offering you a smile. Being present often means opening up to the beautiful things in life.

Other times, life presents tougher vistas to take in: sickness, emotional or physical pain, financial woes, getting caught in a storm, a tough crowd bearing down on you.

It’s important to take beauty and goodness in when that’s available. It nourishes and gives us strength. When life throws difficulties our way, it can seem like that’s not such a great time to be practicing presence. It can seem like a good time to be practicing not-presence.

And often, not-presence is what we go for: a click of the remote, a swipe of the phone, a rummage through the fridge, and we find something cool and delicious to distract us. But when we take this route we miss out on something.

Aligning With Truth

Being present means aligning ourselves with our truth, at least as best as we can. That doesn’t always feel so good in the moment. It’s certainly harder to see the beauty in moments when things go awry. But the beauty is there, just as much there as when everything is soft and inspiring.

Think about a time when you’ve suffered. Whether your suffering arrived through personal choices, through the actions of others, or from uncontrollable external forces, it doesn’t really matter. Think about this past version of you moving through that time, bringing all your resources to bear on a situation that may have seemed out of control. You may not have had the resources you have today, but you managed to find a way through.

When we look back on these times in our lives, we can often see the strength and beauty and courage that we were able to come up with in response to difficult circumstances. Even though we might not have seen it at the time, the beauty was always there.

Milk Crates And Scarves

I used to be a member of a Playback Theatre company. In Playback there are four actors, a musician, and a conductor. The actors each sit on a milk crate on stage as the conductor creates conversations with the audience and gets individual members up to tell stories from their lives. The audience member then assigns roles from their story to each of the four actors who then stand up and improvise a performance of that story, using only their milk crates and a few colored scarves as props.

Being a part of this group was such a life changing experience. Time after time we would see people get up and tell their stories. They were often tales of loss and adversity, of moving through great difficulties on the way to personal growth. As people told their story they often felt vulnerable, a little shy, and the conductor would help ease them through the telling of their story and sit with them as the actors played out these scenes.

Something magical was born from act of telling their story in front of a group of strangers and then watching the episode from their life played out in front of them.

Almost everyone I saw who watched their own story played out for them felt uplifted and inspired by their own journey, they all saw something in themselves that they had not seen so clearly or easily before. They saw their own strength and hope and inner resourcefulness played out in front of them, in a way that would have been difficult to access as they were caught up in the actual living out of their stories.

There’s beauty to be found in even the most difficult of times. It can just be very difficult to see that while events are unfolding. And maybe that’s not even the time to be looking for that beauty, sometimes it’s all we can do to apply ourselves to getting through our times of struggle.

The Eye Of The Storm

I’ve been writing this post for a few weeks now. A little here, a little there. Knowing there was something I wanted to say but not quite able to get there.

Then I came across this, from Matt Licata:

“In this moment, which is the only moment that is ever here, you can give yourself the gift of primordial rest. For this is the greatest act of self-love. Lay your hand on your heart. Replace the urgency of becoming with a moment of pure being. Create an inner temple in which your emotions, your sensations, and the longings of your heart can be held in sanctuary and provided safe passage.”

Those few short sentences, cover so much of what I wanted to say in this post. That even in the most difficult of times we can give ourselves the gift of presence. If we can stay present for just a moment in tough times we can access self love, sanctuary, and our desire for safe passage. And what makes this do-able is that it only requires a moment from us, “the only moment that is ever here” as Matt says.

It’s always possible to claim the smallest moments, here and there, for ourselves. We can touch base, be present for ourselves, acknowledge where we are as a way of re-orienting ourselves. The qualities that we usually discover only in hindsight are there, playing out in our story in this very moment, and accessible to us. All we need to do is to give ourselves that single moment to touch base, to rest in the eye of the storm, to become the eye of the storm.

in the world

What Does It Mean To Be Present?

How present are you in your own life?

Are you present to the world around you? How about the people around you? How present are you to your acquaintances, to your loved ones, to yourself?

We’re all capable of being present, at least some of the time.

Even before I started working at this stuff in a serious way, I was often able to be present when I needed to. But sometimes, even these days, I find myself drifting off or forgetting that I’m here.

Presence oscillates. Sometimes it’s here, sometimes it fades a little. I don’t even think we’re built to be present 100% of the time.

But to be present just a little more? We all have room for that. Actually, once you get into the habit of trying to be more present you’ll find your capacity is pretty great. To notice you’ve been absent and gently welcome yourself back is a nice start.

For me, being present means feeling grounded in your body. It means being receptive to the person, or people, in front of you. A big part of being present means being aware of what’s going on in your heart: do you feel tender right now? a little closed off? what are you noticing in there?

We all want to feel more whole, more sane. We all want to feel that we belong. In moments of presence and quiet I start to believe we are all more whole, more sane than we think we are. I certainly believe we all belong.

A Matter Of Kindness

I used to think being present was a matter of trying hard, and wrestling with countless, urgent thoughts. And if you’re thinking that too, I want you to know–it’s not about that.

I used to think no matter how much I meditated, or tried to be mindful, that I was never doing enough. That I wasn’t devoted enough, or smart enough to ever get it. These days I’m so much kinder towards myself because I know that’s all untrue. It’s not true about me, and it’s not true about you either.

Sometimes it’s simply enough to hear birdsong outside your window and remember, “Oh, it’s Spring.”

What does being present mean to you?

you deserve some space in your day
in the world

You Deserve Some Space In Your Day

Daily life can get so hectic, so quickly, that sometimes you don’t feel the mental, emotional, and bodily effects of that until you’re deeply affected.

That feeling of constriction arrives in response to being squeezed on all sides by a rush of distressed thinking and racing to meet impossible expectations.

But in the thick of all this, it’s still possible to reclaim a sense of spaciousness in your day. To release some of that tension, and allow your daily activities to nourish rather than drain you.

Being stressed and harried is unhelpful, and while unavoidable sometimes, it’s definitely not our natural state, and there are ways we can avoid feeling like this, or at least reduce those feelings of tension and anxiety. You deserve to have some space and ease in your day.

What Does It Mean To Have ‘Space’ In Your Day?

To answer that question, it might help to look at the opposite of spaciousness—feeling cramped and constricted. This is what anxiety and stress can feel like: our breathing gets squeezed, our limbs tense up, our movement is restricted, we make ourselves smaller in our bodies, less of a target. To hold ourselves in this way, while racing to get a ridiculous to-do list completed, takes up so much energy.

Spaciousness is the opposite of that. Our bodies are more free to open up, we breathe easier, we move around alert but with our bodies more at ease, maybe we decide to lower the number of things we want to get done and this leads to a series of quiet spots in our day, like the space between notes in a piece of music.

Let’s look at a few ways you can build a sense of spaciousness and ease into your day:

Set An Intention

A great starting point is in setting the intention to take care of yourself and create some space your day. Making this commitment means that you have something to guide you through the day, to keep you on track.

It also means that you get to spend some time at the start of your day imagining space opening up for you. Feel this in your body, hold it in your mind, move a little this way, and that with a sense of spaciousness. Allow the intention to set in your mind as a commitment. Also allow it to settle in your body a little. Give yourself a physical experience of spaciousness so you can recall it throughout the day.

Note any emotions that bubble up when you contemplate the idea of bringing in spaciousness, maybe write them down and see what they might have to tell you. You want the intention that you set to touch all aspects of you, to really sink in.

Give Yourself A Subtle Reminder

Once your day gets busy it can be easy to forget that you were working on creating space for yourself.

This is one of my favorite ways to remind myself when I’m doing a project like this. It’s subtle, it’s self sustaining (you get lots of reminders through the day) and there’s app alarms or post it notes up in public view—so no one else needs to know what’s going on.

You simply write the word ‘space’ (or even an “s” will do) in the little triangle of flesh between your thumb and index finger at the base your right hand.

What I love about this is your eyes will land on this little message at random times throughout your day and remind you. It never fails. And it’s amazing how the reminders seem to come at just the right moments, at the very spots in your day where you need them the most.

Create A Space For Yourself

Don’t just wait for space to appear. Create it.

Sometimes it can feel like our lives are being constricted by external forces. It’s possible to take some sense of control here. Even if it’s just giving yourself a fifteen minute block of time here and there through the day. You can schedule small breaks, or just rely on your body to let you know. It always will (if you listen.)

If your time is super squeezed you can also seek out a small, physical, taste of space. Whenever I feel squeezed I find a way to get outdoors, even if it’s for a moment or two. Just to get my body underneath the sky, to steal a moment away from a cramped room, to escape my desk, and to touch base with the unlimited space in front of me, behind me, all around me.

This is such a quick and easy thing you can do for yourself, and you will feel your body respond immediately. And the best thing? Even a minute will work wonders.

Noticing and Interacting With Space around you

Here’s a lovely mini exercise from Sally Kempton: Focus on the space around things.

As I’m writing this I look up and see the lamp on the stand beside my desk. I’m noticing the space between me and the lamp, the space behind and around the lamp. Taking this the next step I imagine  the space between all the atoms and molecules of the lamp.

Other things to try:

Notice any empty objects that cross your path today: an empty mason jar, cleared dish rack, open sky, empty shoes.

Become aware as you perform actions that create space–like exhaling, finishing a glass of water, cleaning out a room.

Pay attention to the breaks between songs on a CD or your i-pod, notice the silence between birdcalls in your garden.

Just noticing and acknowledging the space that exists in your external environment has an effect on how you perceive and interact with space in your internal environment. Drink it in.

Noticing and Interacting With Space within you

Yes. You can do the same thing internally.

Breathe in, feel the space inside you expand.

Where can you sense space inside your body? In your throat? How about your abdomen, between the organs there? Inside your organs?

You might not physically feel space in these places, but you know it exists there. Can you imagine that space?

What about the space between your knee joints, And the space held by in bowl of your pelvis? the space between your rib bones?

And don’t forget the empty spaces around your body, between your toes and fingers. The shell-like spaces in your ears. Relax your arms and feel the small pocket of space in each of your armpits. space exists within you and around you.

You are intimately connected with space. No one can take that away from you.

Close Your Day With Spaciousness

Reflect on your days experience of focusing on space. Do you feel a sense of space now? Did it change how you experienced your day?

If someone was watching you move through your day, without being told that you were building more awareness and space in your day, would they have noticed anything different about you?

Just a few minutes of reflection and journalling makes a huge difference here. Especially if you spend a few days working on creating space. This is a great way to remember any changes in your experience and to become aware of any habitual patterns that you may have in the way you relate to space.

Watch This Space

I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes designing ways to help you create more space in your life.

The first is my new presence coaching offering: The Refresh Sessions

These are mini sessions (1/2 hour each) that take you through the process of starting your day grounded, refreshed, and focused–so you can move ahead with more clarity and ease.

They’re a great help if you want to get your week off to a fresh start, or if you have a big event coming up and want to feel clear, energized, and ready to succeed.

Click Here to read more about the Refresh Sessions!