3 Minute Life Changer by Deborah Nugent

You may be asking yourself how can anything you do for three minutes a day have the potential to change your life.  I found myself in the very same position a few years ago.  To add even more fuel to the doubt-fire, I’ll tell you that it’s already something you do every day and all day long.  Okay okay I’ll end the suspense… “It is Your Breath”. 

This thing you do without much thought can be a transformation agent when you bring focused awareness to it for a short period each day.  This is exactly what my teacher Beryl Bender Birch asked a group of us to do during our 200 hour teacher training. 

I have to admit, I didn’t take it very seriously when Beryl asked us to dedicate 3 minutes of everyday to pranayama .  I mean really, how was three minutes a day going to create any type of meaningful shift.  It was actually the most ingenious ask I have ever received from a teacher.

The time commitment was so minimal and the activity was to breath, something I was already doing with no effort. Even I, the master of procrastination could not justify skipping out on this one. 

Armed with my cell phone timer, I sat down and prepared to use the simple three part breath that Beryl had taught us over the weekend of training. I was very prescriptive in my approach, each morning, same place and same technique.  I went through the motions for a few weeks, tacking this on as a meditation precursor and having no real expectation.  What I ended up finding was a transformational practice that has truly changed my life. 

The shift started to occur in week three.  I entered the place I sit for practice and sat down on my meditation cushion to begin and realized that my breath was already flowing deep and long from my lower belly.  How did this happen? I wasn’t even aware that my breathing pattern had changed. Habit is a sneaky and pervasive animal that has the potential to change many aspects of your life.

With this new deep relaxed breath, I noticed I had been feeling much more calm throughout the day.  I decided to experiment with applying this directed and focused breath in some pretty challenging work situations. 

I have a tremendous fear of public speaking combined with a driving need to inspire change.  What a combination! Could this breath really influence how I reacted in situations and remove fear? The answer is yes and no. It changed how quickly I recovered from a stressor and made me more resilient, however it did not miraculously remove the fear.  This was enough to get me moving, putting myself out there and sharing my voice on an organizational level.

When I allowed my breath to become my teacher, I was able to see the healthy cycle of receiving (inhalation) and releasing (exhalation) that I needed to apply in my life and how to soften in times of discomfort.

Your journey will likely be different but it can also begin with just 3 minutes a day and I invite you to grab your timer and get breathing!

~Michelle

A Beautiful Reminder by Deborah Nugent

It is easy in today’s world of electronic communication to lose sight of the importance of human connection.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to be able to send a text or post some interesting link on facebook, but it does not compare with our ability to connect with someone through eye contact.

I had an unexpected wakeup call in the most unexpected place, the ladies room of my company’s corporate office in Manhattan!  I was scheduled to make a presentation in 10 minutes and was running late, which for those of you who know me, is par for the course.  I have been in the corporate arena for over 20 years but still find myself getting nervous before a presentation and need a few minutes of focused breathing to settle down.

As I stepped into the bathroom, there was a cleaning woman that was working at the counter.  I stepped up to one of the open sinks and began to close my eyes to breathe. Right before lowering my eyes, I noticed that the counter was filled with beautiful plants.  They were arranged in what could only be considered an artistic display and I was intrigued to see how much care went into to making the space nice.  Certainly, the other floors are not decked out like this one was.

I looked up into the mirror and noticed the cleaning woman was looking at me with a smile on her face.  She asked me if I liked the plants, to which I replied how calming I found the space.  She just smiled and went back to her work.  I asked her if she knew why this restroom had been decorated like this and was truly humbled by her response.

She said. “ Oh dear, I do that for all of you.  It is important for you to have beautiful living things around so you can remember to smile”.  Boy did I smile then! I thanked her for creating the wonderful space before heading off to my meeting.

I can’t help but reflect on how this woman, who most of us pass by without ever addressing, was caring for all of us. She intuitively knew that beauty is created in the simple acts. It has the power to shift your emotions and with that comes a shift in perspective.

A beautiful reminder from a beautiful woman, that our eyes are open but we still have to take the time to see!

~Michelle

Fall into the Moment by Deborah Nugent

Why is it that the Fall season has a hard time feeling the love?  Maybe it’s because it arrives on the heels of its sweet sister Summer or perhaps it is simply our struggle to flow through cycles of change.

As I stood on my porch, ready to load my SUP, (Stand Up Paddleboard) on the car for what would likely be one of the last paddles of the season, I felt a cool breeze and smelled Fall in the air.  I did not open my arms and welcome it, but stood there and ruminated on Summer’s leaving.

 Summer is a fine season, filled with warm air, long days and let us not forget the beach!  But, like many things, it has a beginning and an end.  These patterns can be seen in many events in life and nature:

Tides

Lunar

Planetary rotation

Bird migration

Work and rest  

Sleep cycle

and yes even in the dreaded aging process. 

Change is built into the DNA of every living thing on this planet, and yet we still resist it.  Much of the pain in the human experience is a result of clinging to things whose time has passed or desiring something that has not yet come to pass.  When you boil it down, the majority of our suffering is a direct result of not occupying the space of this present moment.

When we are children, we could not wait to grow up so we could be in charge of our own lives, so very self assured that we knew everything.  Then we did grow up and began to long for the days of our youth.

As we begin to age, the battle is on to keep the same outward appearance that we had a decade or two earlier.  After all, it must be the right thing to do because we are constantly being bombarded with advertisements heralding a multitude of different products to halt the aging process.

 Like many times in life, fear arises because we can no longer see ourselves through a prism that is known to us.

 Fall has a lesson to teach us about releasing and being.

 I have a habit of meditating early in the morning so that I close my eyes in darkness and open them with the soft light of the waking day arriving.  This particular day, I closed my eyes and when I opened them I saw burnt orange coloring the top of the tree line.

 An amazing cascade of color intermingled with the green leaves. 

 “Do you remember,” Fall gently whispered, and a flood of gratitude for crisp air, pumpkin pie, the feel of my favorite sweater, long hikes and mulled cider came rushing in.

 The trees do not cling to their summer color, but effortlessly release their foliage leaving them bare.  The decaying material fuels the spring growth. 

It is true, we will not be the same person tomorrow, next week or next year that we are today but there is nothing to fear in this change.  Like the trees, we will have our Falls (release) so that we have the fuel for our Springs (Growth).  

The trick is to see the present, not in terms of what we have lost, but as the perfect expression of what we have become.

So put on your warm gear, step outside and Fall into the moment!

 

Michelle Bruno