Say Ahhhhhh

We produce sound on our exhaled breath. To soothe your nervous system, try saying ahhhh aloud extending the sound without making yourself feel breathless.

Try saying your ahhhhs in the tone of the harmonic scale ( do re me fa so la te do) Gradually increase your volume.

( do, do do) to exaggerate your ability to feel the vibration. The vibration will change as you move along the scale and with volume. After achieving peak volume, you can gradually diminish it until you are toning silent ahhhs.

Those who may be familiar with OM as the universal sound can take the ahhh sound and couple it with OOO and UUUMM and chant OM along the harmonic scale.

Since the body is largely made of water, the vibration travels pleasantly throughout the body

Even-out Your Weight Bearing

Even-out Your Weight Bearing to Stand Your Ground

Notice your default sitting or standing posture. You have one. It the most familiar way you hold your body. The way you stand to wait, sit at your desk, drive your car. Many of us have a habit of kick-standing onto one leg or sitting heavily upon one buttock. What is your habit?

Practice evening out your weight bearing in sitting and in standing. Distribute your weight by sensing how heavy each foot feels in standing, or each thigh and buttock feels when sitting. Uneven weight bearing tips the foundation for the alignment of your spine.

Once you even yourself out, notice how breath moves through your torso. Now return to your default position and compare the freedom of your breath. Easeful breath; easeful nervous system.

Balance Activity & Rest

Balance Activity & Rest

Our body is designed for cycles movement and recovery to rest and replenish. When we disturb these cycles with either excessive activity or inactivity, our body systems cannot function optimally.

Physical activity guidelines for Americans set 30 minutes of moderate intensity daily activity for 5 of every 7 days in a week as a minimum target, with double this amount (300 minutes) as a recommended dose of physical activity.

Rest is the opposite of activity. True relaxation involves non-doing, something most Westerners are unfamiliar with practicing. Sleep of at least 6 hours per night for adults appears to be an important threshold for well-being.

Begin to notice when your body is signaling you to move if you have been still for too long, or to stop and do nothing for a bit if you have been continuously active to let your nervous system reset its activity/rest cycle.


Drink Enough Water

Drink Enough Water!

Water is the body’s universal solvent. Every cell is filled with it as is the space between cells. It moistens our fascia letting layers of body tissue slide and glide, keeps cartilage functioning as a good shock absorber, lubricates our joints and clarifies the mind.

How much? Half your body weight in ounces daily is a guideline. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol consumption cause us to lose fluid. Many blood pressure medications are also diuretics. Under hydrating concentrates the urine, which can irritate the bladder and contribute to urgency.

Your skin is a great indicator of your hydration level. Pinch test your skin on the back of your hand. If it sticks together even momentarily, you are likely underhydrated. You wouldn’t run your vehicle without oil and transmission fluid, so give your body the precious water it needs daily! Each time you take a cool drink of water, offer gratitude to the Earth for providing the water and affirm I AM THAT!

What is my Face Projecting?

What Is My Face Projecting?

Your face is always providing significant input to your nervous system about how you are feeling in any given moment. Fellow humans also key in on your facial expression to determine if you are safe to approach, or best to avoid.

What does a curious face feel like? A sour puss? A worried expression? What happens to your face when you are running late? Notice those things that cause your face to light up! Does your smile change how your eyes feel? What does the sleepy face feel like compared to the alert face?

There is some evidence that intentionally changing your facial expression can shift your mood. Try it out. Ask for feedback from others who you spend a lot of time with about what impression your facial expression is making on them. “I’m approachable” or “Keep your distance!”


Progressive Relaxation

Progressive Relaxation

Practice noticing where you hold tension in your body. For example, do you hike up your shoulders, brace in your belly, or clench your jaw or buttocks?

Wherever your tense places are, momentarily contract the muscles of this area more strongly, then rapidly release your muscular effort. In addition to the body areas you choose, also include this process for your hands, feet and all facial muscles.

Contract and release each area at least three times, imagining you are turning up the tension on a dial. Keep your breath flowing, despite the effort. After the dial is at the highest setting, then imagine hitting a red release/reset button in the middle of the dial.

This process will help your nervous system relearn how to let go of un necessary muscle effort in your problem tension zones.


The archetypal role of the physician, and by extension allied health professionals, has historically been cast as the healer. Healing however does not actually mean restoration of health. This recasting of the health professional out of the role of the healer might create cognitive dissonance, until we explore the language of healing further. The NIH is undertaking the considerable task of defining healing. It seems ludicrous that our health care system has not already sought to study healing as a primary objective of health care services, that is until we comprehend that healing is a process driven by the patient that exists outside of the billable deliverable services and interventions that fuel our health care enterprises. One definition of healing is an inner agency that gives a degree of relief from suffering, an inner agency that the patient must find within the depths of his or her own psyche. Another is the human experience of self -discovery and transformation that results in a sense of being whole and connected.

The National Institutes of Health has begun to research factors related to healing. Their work identified the following three primary factors that are considered to be interrelated constructs. They are:

  • connection
  • reflection & introspection
  • trust & acceptance.

The paper describes connection to belief in and relationship with a higher power and includes religion, religious community, and family. Reflection and introspection refer to finding meaning, purpose, gratitude and joy in nature. It includes activities that connect one’s own mind and body, interconnectedness with others, present moment orientation, and an increased sense of awareness about the fragility of life. The third category refers to accepting what is, feeling resolved, feeling at peace, and trusting that caregivers, friends, and family will respond to needs as they arise.

Eastern traditions deeply challenge Western views of healing, starting with the perspective that the patient’s true nature exists as a subtle (non-putative) field of vital energy. This vitality is regarded as intelligent, wise, formless, nameless and not subject to the suffering of the body, mind or emotions. Suffering is understood to come from being born into embodied form, forgetting our formless nature and mistaking our form as our I-ness Therefore, by virtue of these previous definitions of healing as individual transcendence of suffering, Eastern views consider the patient ˜s essential nature as healed. Yoga philosophy predates Buddhism, as well as all scientific literature related to human health and healing. Its teachings and practices create a path to healing via the alleviation of suffering by a process of remembering or awakening to one’s inherent fullness/wholeness.

There are commonalities and differences in these perspectives. An existing model that integrates both perspectives can be found in the Whole Health Model. It represents a contemporary and secular model that touches upon the deep wisdom of Eastern traditions. It illustrates unity through its use of circles, elevates the role of self care in health and posits a non-hierarchical placement of stakeholders.






Intention Setting

Intention setting is often confused with establishing a goal. Discerning the difference is an essential teaching because our intentions continually shape our reality; alternatively expressed as we reap what we sow. Intention describes how we will BE in order to HAVE what we seek. Intention is oriented to the mechanics of the fulfillment of the desire that is motivating our goal. Gaining clarity on what is truly desired is a necessary step in the process of drilling down to the G.R.A.C.E. step to recall intention. To clarify your desire, you have two choices. First, you can reverse engineer an important current goal to understand why it really matters to you. This is desire/what is sought to be experienced from achieving the goal. If you are in a phase of not having clear goals, you can again reverse engineer your way to clarifying your desire by considering what you have been tolerating in life. The opposite of that is likely a desire around which a goal can be established.

Once desire is clear, then we get to our intention by consider what conditions are necessary to support the desire that is the primary motivator for attaining the goal. For example, this pandemic has imposed more time at home for many of us, which may have led to one or more projects. Maybe the project involves decluttering a home office, building a patio or learning to play a guitar. Fast forward and imagine deeply enjoying the benefits of your completed project and experiencing feelings of _____? Several choices may fill the blank, so take the time TO FEEL each one to identify the most satisfying feeling as a clue to desire. Our body is our best ally here, so mindfully observe bodily sensations of this projected future enjoyment more so than using cognitive processes. How is the body responding to each of the five senses within this projection of goal achievement? Is smiling or frowning present? Recall observations of whatever is happening now are made with a spirit of curiosity and kindness, to feel all feelings without judging them as good or bad.

Let’s say project completion would satisfy a desire to FEEL organized or calm or strong or focused or creative. To hone intention, dig deep by looking for a desire may be behind the first desire which is really to BE this way in life as it is right now. Intention is stated in the present tense: I AM ___ (calm, organized, strong, focused, creative etc.). Once intention is stated, then pay attention to all the conditions that could support it, right now. These conditions will map out an ideal self-care plan as they will articulate the mechanics of the fulfillment of the desire motivating the pursuit of the goal. Self-care generated in this way does not create a to DO list but rather an intended way to BE, right now . Perhaps one may BE rested, attentive, creative, well-nourished, playful, etc., as conditional for experiencing the intention statement I AM ___. Recalling intention for self-care in this way makes it sustainable by directly supporting what is valued most.

The ABC’s of Self-Compassion

The ABC’s of Self Compassion

Practice A: Attitude
Adopt a curious attitude towards your practice along with an intention to pay kind attention to yourself as you learn a novel skill of experiencing self-compassion. Consider this an introduction to loving-kindness.


Practice B: Be here now.
Pay attention to whether your body and your mind are in the same place at the
same time in each activity you engage in through the day. Locating your attention is the first step in training your attention. Consider this an introduction to mindfulness.

Practice C: Connect
Sit quietly and simply place your hands on your heart. This is called a soothing touch practice. Many sensations will be noticed as the chest rises and falls. Feel the feels 😊. Stay with it for at least 3 minutes. Your attention will likely wander repeatedly. The trick is noticing that you have disconnected and kindly re-connect yourself. Consider this an introduction to non-judgement.


The When of Self-Compassion

Recall that the act of compassion begins first with recognizing suffering is happening, then responding to relieve it. Here, now in the midst of the disruption of our lives by the corona-virus is an opportune time for noticing your suffering is likely to be present. Using your body-mind as a laboratory, notice the breadth of your somatic experience in response to suffering the uncertainty and separation imposed by this event. What is occurring in your muscular and digestive systems? How does your breath change as you meet new challenge after new challenge in the day? Can you focus your attention? How are decisions being made when your nervous system is likely in sympathetic overdrive? What has changed about your mood and sleep quality? Explore all that is happening within to be able to accurately respond with self-care. This is paramount to support your immune system.

Because humans are in fact in a dynamic system of systems in perpetual state of physiological change, it is very instructive to conceptually regard yourself as a happening. This is a simple yet profound teaching I have been most grateful to receive in my yoga and meditation training. What is happening within you and around you are being influenced by your internal and external environment in a co-emergent process. In times of great disruption such as this, wise leadership is essential. Good leaders stay attuned to the interplay of self and others as they navigate new terrain. Creative solutions arise when we are curious, activated and inspired by the challenge rather than paralyzed by fear of failure. So how do we attune to ourselves as a happening?

Radical times call for radical self-compassion which is advocated beautifully by psychotherapist and mindfulness meditation teacher, Tara Brach, PhD. I have found great comfort in following her guidance into a state of self-compassion using this particular practice: R.A.I.N. ( right click to link) It uses both the metaphor of a soothing, soft, cleansing rain and the acronym. In keeping with the groundwork described above, we are encouraged to be present so as to recognize that suffering is happening. Once recognized, then we connect to the somatic experience of what is happening now and actually allow ourselves to feel. Being kind and curious with the quality of our attention, we stay present and investigate so we can nurture ourselves in just the right way. You are encouraged to visit this link for more guidance in this practice of self-compassion. Take the time for self-care amidst all that is happening.