Friday, December 20, 2013

Essential Oils for the Heart Center (Fire Element)

Flowers are the Heart (Fire Element) of the plant. We can change the vibration of our Heart Center energy by applying a diluted Flower essential oil to acupoints such as:

Pericardium - 6 (Nei Guan)
Pericardium - 8 (Lao Gong)
Conception Vessel / Ren - 17 (Shan Zhong)
Conception Vessel / Ren - 6 (Qi Hai)
Stomach - 41 (Jie Xi)

Personally, I would make a small bottle with 12 drops essential oil to 1 oz carrier oil, apply it to all of these acupoints & do Tai Chi so I could feel the flow of the energy.

2 of my favorites right now:

Ginger Lily, Wild CO2 extraction: elegantly sweet with a sense of purity and innocence. Slightly more yin.

White Champa Leaf: vibrant, passionate, sweet with a sense of mystery. Slightly more yang.

Learn tons of great information in my On-Line Essential Oils Course series. You can study here at our school in Alaska from anywhere in the world!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bodywork Series: Water Element

Want to listen to this post? Now you can on our Podcast link.

In learning the 5-elements, massage therapists have a wonderful opportunity to recognize signs and symptoms that an element is out of balance, and use a combination of massage techniques, acupressure, and energy work to assist re-balancing this element – all during a 1 hour massage.

Let’s look at the Water Element being out of balance and some things we might see in clinical experience.

Physically we may see:

Low back pain, knee pain, broken – brittle or weak bones like osteoporosis, or the person appears much older than their stated age.

There might be dark circles under the eyes or hair that is thinning.

They may use language that refers to feeling drained, exhausted, or overwhelmed – my energy level feels so low compared to what it used to be.

The person might feel cold and ask for a space heater or extra blanket.

Symptoms might include anxiety, any chronic illness that has been present for more than 1 year, cloudy or foggy thinking, some forms of infertility, hormone imbalances, feeling a lack or loss of purpose in life.  There can also be any physical issues with the fluids of the body – lymph, too much fluid like edema or too little showing as dryness, blood – which is about 83% water, saliva, tears, and urine.  There can also be any physical issues with the organs of the Kidneys or Bladder.

Using the actual words “in fear of”, “scared of or scared to”, “I’m afraid that…”, “I can’t do that”, “I would, BUT” and other things on this line.  It’s very interesting how our language and the words we spontaneously choose pick up our energetic health.

There can be various forms of subtle fear, such as: no self-confidence, staying in an unhealthy job or relationship, not following dreams or passions, an unusual fear of death – for the self or others.

Mentally a person might say they feel a lack of creativity such as writer’s block, an artist that can’t come up with an idea, or someone who doesn’t see any options to a situation.  Or there can be a lack of motivation to do things or complete projects that are started, leaving a pile of unfinished business.

So these are some of the basic and common things a massage therapist would likely come across.  And luckily, a massage that addresses the Water Element can have immediate benefit for some of these things.  Regular massage that continues to work with the Water Element can even have very deep and long lasting effects.

In modifying a massage to address an Element there are 3 main things to consider:

First - What specific techniques can be used?

Second - What meridians and acupoints can be stimulated?

Third - What can I bring into my own energy field to change the current vibration into a vibration that will carry a healing tone for this person?  (This is a fascinating aspect of bodywork.  Our science can show that during a healing session, the heart waves of the healer – massage therapist in this case – can be found in the recipient for a period of time after the healing session has ended.  This is profound information.  For more on this topic you can look into the HeartMath Institute which puts out incredible research in this area.)

To answer #1, What specific techniques can be used?  2 ideas I would consider are that water likes flow and fluidity.  We can make our massage strokes very graceful and flowing.  Next, round rubbing the lower back through the sheet, to warm that area which brings Qi and Blood to nourish the kidneys right where they are located.  An advanced Oriental medicine therapist may choose to do some Moxa if appropriate, or use an essential oil blend that addresses the specific symptoms.  A few of my favorite basic essential oils for the Water Element are Ginger, Fennel, and Juniper Berry – then Frankincense if anxiety is a symptom.

To answer #2: What meridians and acupoints can be stimulated?  On the front of the body we can very easily stimulate the Kidney meridian in the lower legs during effleurage strokes.  We can choose several strong acupoints to stimulate, such as Kidney 1 , Yong Quan and  KI-3 Tai Xi.

On the back of the body, we can stimulate the Bladder meridian in both the back and legs, and use the Kidney Shu points.

To answer #3: What can I bring into my own energy field to change the current vibration into a healing tone for this person?

For this, we need to look at the emotion of fear and how to embody the opposite of this.  Can we imagine someone we would call fearless?  What kind of characteristics does this person have?

They stand strong and tall, look you in the eye and smile, there’s a deep sense of confidence, they know that no matter what the situation they will act to do something – even if they don’t know exactly what that something is – they are creative and have a million options, they are at ease with life and allow life to have a spontaneous flow, they feel ALIVE – like they’re in the Zone.

So this aspect can take some practice – which is where meditation, QiGong, and Medical QiGong practices can really help a lot.  But we can still start somewhere, such as internally saying a mantra like “I am strong” “I am confident” “I have so much flow in my life”….. and then feel these things as we say them.  You might find that if you really get into a kind of groove while thinking these and doing the massage at the same time, you experience an energetic connection and strength that is powerful and healing.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to Make an Essential Oil Wound Spritz

by Guest Blogger, Becky Makool

One morning in mid-October, I jumped off my treadmill in the middle of my workout to try to grab a small piece of rawhide bone—a potential choking hazard—from one of my dogs before she could swallow it. Because it was early morning and I was tired and distracted, I forgot all about the proper way to get back on the moving treadbelt. I just jumped right back on it, and the treadmill immediately showed me who was boss! I fell on the treadbelt and scraped up my left leg and right knee. It was very painful at the time.

I had an appointment with Cynthia McMullen a few days after my fall. She has been my massage therapist/‌‌healer for more than a year now, and I’ve also been attending her Essential Oil workshops for the past year. I am fascinated and impressed by Cynthia’s ability to create magic healing potions to address all kinds of health issues. She is a master alchemist who works in harmony with Mother Nature.

After I showed Cynthia my injuries, she decided to create a Wound Spritz (a hydrosol-essential oil blend) to protect them from infection and help them heal more quickly and to also help alleviate pain. She selected three Oshadhi brand hydrosols (Yarrow, Helichrysum, and Witch Hazel) and three essential oils (Ginger, Helichrysum, and White Champa Leaf) and placed them on a stool in front of me so I could watch her wizardry. She also set out a bottle of pure liquid Aloe and a small, 2‑oz. brown glass bottle to hold the concoction.

Cynthia explained why she selected each ingredient for the formula:

·         Yarrow – It’s anti-inflammatory, and it will help heal wounds and anything that’s bleeding.
·         Helichrysum – It’s the “go to” choice for healing bruises and wounds.
·         Witch Hazel – It’s somewhat antiseptic for wounds and also really nice on the skin.

·        Ginger – It helps with pain and is very nurturing.
·        Helichrysum – In this blend, the essential oil will help support the wound-healing aspect of the    Helichrysum hydrosol.
·        White Champa Leaf – It’s a more spiritual oil, and it will help provide insights around the    emotions involved.

·      Aloe – The liquid Aloe Cynthia used came in an Oshadhi hydrosol bottle, but she explained that it’s not a hydrosol. She included it because it’s very soothing to the skin.

Cynthia wanted the Wound Spritz to be concentrated and more potent to help heal the injuries, so she didn’t dilute the formula with water. She combined equal amounts of each of the three hydrosols in the brown bottle, leaving about half an inch of empty space at the top. Then she added the Aloe and the three essential oils. Here’s the formula:

Yarrow (hydrosol) – 33%
Helichrysum (hydrosol) – 33%
Witch Hazel (hydrosol) – 33%
Ginger (essential oil) – 6 drops
Helichrysum (essential oil) – 2 drops (Cynthia used less of this because it’s supporting the hydrosol.)
White Champa Leaf (essential oil) – 4 drops
Aloe (pure liquid) – 10 drops

I was instructed to always shake the bottle really well to thoroughly blend the oils and water-based hydrosols before using the spray.

Cynthia spritzed my wounds during the session, and the smell was very strong. It didn’t affect her, but it made me cough a little. Although inhaling it isn’t harmful, I made a point of trying not to breathe it in when I used it at home. Cynthia said that the Ginger essential oil was causing my coughing and that if she were to make the formula again, she would only add 2 drops of that instead of 6 drops. Another option to cut back on the intensity of the smell would be to pour some of the blend on a cotton ball and simply dab it on the wounded area.

I ended up spritzing my wounds two or three times a day and taking photos each night to document the healing process. I typically bruise easily (although the bruising sets in gradually), and both bruises and wounds on my legs tend to heal very slowly. This time, however, no additional bruising set in, and the healing process was noticeably faster.

The largest scrape on my left leg was a little swollen when Cynthia first sprayed it, and the swelling was gone that same night. By the end of the second day, that same scrape was drier and looked more like a scab. There was redness around all of the wounds that did not increase over time, and the wounds themselves began to dry up more and more and shrink a little with each ensuing day. By the fifth day, the largest scabs on my left leg and right knee had shrunk substantially. By the seventh day, they looked even better. The photos below document these healing results. 


Photos (left to right): Left leg on first night of treatment, on fifth night, and on seventh night.


Photos (left to right): Right knee on first night of treatment, on fifth night, and on seventh night.

During my session, Cynthia described her thought process for determining which of the ingredients from Mother Earth to use in a new blend. She begins by asking herself, “What do I have on hand? And out of what I have on hand, what would work really well for the situation?” She explained that she could have made a variation on the Wound Spritz with half of the ingredients that she ended up using. “If I just had two of the hydrosols, I could still do quite a bit with those. Even if I just had one, I could still do quite a bit with it,” she said. After selecting the hydrosols, she then looks at which essential oils would enhance the blend.

Cynthia said that another variation on the Wound Spritz could be made with just the three hydrosols, if someone only had those on hand. She explained that the essential oils make the spritz stronger and shape the overall feel of the blend, but it would still be effective with just the hydrosols. This option (without the essential oils) would even be safe for use on children and pets. Cynthia cautioned, however, that for use on children or puppies less than 1 year old, the hydrosol blend should be diluted with 50% purified water.      

If the Wound Spritz will be used on a short-term, regular basis, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated but should be kept out of direct sunlight and heat. If it will be used sparingly and stored indefinitely, then it should be refrigerated. Cynthia said that it will be good for about nine months to one year.

Learn tons of great information from Cynthia's On-Line Essential Oils Course series. You can study at Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine from anywhere in the world!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Transforming Anxiety & Worry

Wouldn't it be amazing to transform the emotions of anxiety and worry into motivation? 
They both consume an incredible amount of energy without actually doing anything, which makes them inefficient, and their vibration is sticky and distorts our thoughts.  It's just energy though, and it will take on the tone or form that we give it.

1. The first step to transforming them is awareness
2. The second step is acknowledging them,
3. then the third step is acting in a different way.
For example, start to feel anxiety - worry.  It's ok, these are emotions of long standing thought habits.  You aren't fighting them, you're looking at them, seeing what you can actually use them for.
Look at them and say "Wow, I'm feeling anxiety - worry. Where in my body do I feel these? What color are they? Are they moving fast or slow? Are they hot or cold?"
Then, stand up and start moving with your breath like QiGong:
  • Start with your hands at your navel.
  • Inhale, and moving with your breath, guide your hands (in your energy field, a couple inches away from your body) up to your heart center.
  • Exhale, lowering your hands back down to your navel.
  • While you're doing this, say "Ok, body - we need to transform this energy into motivation. You know what to do, so go ahead and start doing it!"  
  • Just breathe and move together for a bit - preferably at least 24 times.
The possibilities that come out of this can be incredible. You might start to write that book, or cook a delicious meal, or organize something...... whatever it is, it will put your precious time to good use instead of wasting it away on negative emotions.

It might take time to get this working for you, but you have to start somewhere and then just commit to practicing it over and over again so it becomes a little easier each time.  One of the biggest benefits of doing this is that it will change your perception/experience of lack of time to do the things you say you want to do.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

migrane relief


  1. Find the area midway between the middle of your eyebrows. 
  2. Apply deep pressure with your thumb or index finger moving upward.
  3. Continue for 1 minute or until pain subsides, breathing deeply.


  1. Locate the "web" area between the thumb and index finger.
  2. Squeeze this area using the thumb and index finger of your other hand.
  3. Continue the pressure until your pain is relieved or you have reached 1 minute, breathing deeply.
  4. Switch hands and apply pressure to the same area on the opposite hand.


  1. Place your fingers at the middle of your neck at the back of your head to find 2 more points for migraine pain.
  2. Move your fingers to directly below your skull and the top of your neck.
  3. Continue to move your fingers about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.0 cm) to the sides of your neck until you find a small indentation.
  4. Tilt your head slightly backward.
  5. Apply pressure with your thumbs to this indented area and press upward for 2 minutes or until the pain stops. Be sure to breathe deeply during this procedure.

Top of Head

  1. Locate the pressure point at the top of your head by drawing an imaginary line from the front of 1 ear over to the front of the opposite ear.
  2. Draw another line from the middle of your brow up to the top of your head at the midpoint to meet the first imaginary line. This intersection is the pressure point.
  3. Apply firm pressure to this point for 1 minute or until the pain stops, breathing deeply.


  1. Locate the area between your big and second toes on the top of your foot.
  2. Apply pressure with a rubbing motion to this area with either your thumb or the heel of your opposite foot for 1 minute.
  3. Switch and repeat the procedure on your other foot, breathing deeply.
The above muscle actions were found on

Also, I know we aren't really supposed to do what he is doing in the first video, but we could explain it to a client and have them do it to themselves... It's pretty interesting. 

Pressure point pattern for migraines
Galbladder 20
Small intestine 19
Liver 3
Large intestine 4 
Bladder 10 
Spleen 6 
Bladder 1 

So the above points are the ones that I would use on a client who complained about headaches. I decided to use these based on the amalgamation of points used by various people that I thought were the best. Points research found by Stephanie!  

Massage for Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition that mainly effects the lungs - where thick viscous fluid accumulates there and the body doesn't distribute vital salt efficiently for functions. It effects the liver, pancreas, and intestine by association. Cystic fibrosis is considered a chronic illness and is dificult to manage, but if management gets out of hand it can compromise quality of life in a person. The thick viscous secretions block the airways making breathing dificult and can cause serious lung infections. Cystic Fibrosis is not curable but there are ways to make it more tolerable and a massage therapist can perform massage techniques for the purpose of loosening mucus, expanding airways, decreasing inflammation and fighting lung infections

SO ... here is the protocol that I found from
1.)  Position:  Lying Down:
Postural drainage on the back inside the scapulas will look a lot like Tapotment.  Postural drainage using percussion is used along with gravity and will help pull the mucous from the chest to the throat.  Percussion is applied to the client torso with their head is lowed by the use of pillows.  They could also have their head lower than their chest by hanging partly off the table or bed.  This allows gravity to do some of the work. To drain the middle and lower portions of the lungs, the chest should be above the head.  To drain the upper portion of the lungs, the client should be sitting up at a 45 degree angle.
2.)  Position:  Sitting:
Stand behind the client and make sure they are comfortable.
Example 1)  Use percussion and vibration over the muscle area between the collar bone and the very top of the shoulder blades (shaded areas of the diagram) on both sides for 3 to 5 minutes.  Have clients take a deep breath and cough during percussion to clear airwaves.

Example 2)  In this position, the client leans over on a bed or in a chair with arms dangling over a pillow.  Percussion and vibrated with both hands on the upper back are used on the right and left side.
Example 3):  In this position, percussion and vibrate over the bottom part of the shoulder blades on both the right and left side of the spine.
2.)  Do not do postural drainage and percussion on bare skin.

** Also, it was stressed as very important to do all of the postures corectly and reccommended to practice on a friend first to make sure it is in your mind beofer practicing on a real person with this condition.


SO as I was looking for a protocol for this disorder I found this great site!!!

massage for TMJ

Start by finding TW (*triple warmer 23) next to the orbicularis oculi muscle on the lateral side and draw a line to the connecting part of the top of the ear. That is your first point.

SI 19 is the next point for treatment and it is easy to find if you find the center of the ear and move medially where your finger fits into a notch between the cheek and ear; if you open your mouth it will create a larger sinkhole there. Hold for thrirty seconds or so. 

TW 16 is the next point down and is distal to the ear where it connects to the skull. It should feel "electric" as Heather would say. AProx 2.5 CUN from SI 19.

The final point is SI 17 there should be a notch in the jawbone where your finger will fit perfectly. As you open your mouth and close it you will feel sensation. 

Now Heather will demonstrate the procedure!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Treating KYO and Jitsu/ HARA diagnosis

First you must know how to tell the difference...
looks raised, stands out excess muscle tension feels hard/ heat coming off body hot to touch and feels full and alive repels touch and is easy to find. Client will feel safe/ local discomfort/ pain and have local reliefs.

looks hollow, depressed, weak, lack of muscle tension and feels unnatually soft/ cold or empty... lifeless and is difficult to find. client feels vulnerable, deep, unpleasent pain, deep relaxation and undernourished.

*sensitive touch
*Hold pressure w/palm or thumb for longertime10/15
or until palm becomes alive.
*HOld stretches longer.

*shortertime on jitsu area
*shorter stretching
*rocking and shaking body part moves excess qui out of area

General principals
1. use your weight/gravity NOT stregnth
2. give shiatsu effortlessly
3. stay relaxed/dont tense up
4. stabilize your weight by moving your whole body with your HARA
5. use your weight at L right angles
6. hold your weight on reciever/shorttime 5-15 seconds.
7. use equal weight with both hands.
8. use steady rhythm
9. keep contact with reciever throughout.

The mu points or mother points of Hara Diagnosis...
  1. Liver 14 - liver
  2. Gall Bladder 24 - gall bladder
  3. Gall bladder 25 - spleen
  4. CV12 - stomach
  5. CV 3 - bladder
  6. CV 4 - kidney
  7. Lung 1 - lung
  8. Stomach 25 - large intestine
  9. CV 15 - heart
  10. CV 14 - Pericardium 
 *"CV 17, 9, 4 - triple warmerCV 4 - small intestineThese can be used for diagnosis and treatment, in fact CV 12 is considered the command point for all the internal yang organs of transportation while Liver 14 is considered the command point for all the internal yin organs of transformation. Further CV 6 is considered the sea of chi, CV 9 is considered a point that governs water metabolism, CV 25 is a point that is considered the great eliminator, Spleen 15 and 16, especially on the left, are points that are used to stimulate intestinal peristalsis, point on the lower abdomen such as CV 3 (an important point for the chong mo meridian), stomach 29, 28, 27 are considered very important for gynecological problems, especially blood stagnation syndromes in women." (info from

Stomach massage HARA Diagnosis
Looking for the jitzu and Haan to connect the two and revive the energy channels.
Jitzu is excess tightness resistance
Haan is hollow spot deficiency

Stomach meridian helps to draw Earth energy out
spleen having excess is actually deficient because it's the spleen having so much work it gets tired out and can't do it all. It's starting under the zyphoid process and  continuing in a specific order. In the video he shows you quickly... but it's a good idea to do light pressure and try to feel what the client needs rather than just go gung ho into it.


Tinctures... are medicinal potent herbs and it is important to treat it as medicine.
Tinctures are a good holistic choice because the alcohol extracts the essential compounds in plant matter/herbs/etc. AND it helps to keep it fresh and useable for a long period of time in a stable, volatile condition! It's absorbed into the blood so rapidly... most people know how fast alcohol is absorbed into our system... 
Before even starting a tincture it is vital to understand fully the herbs that are being used and that combining certain herbs together can cause different effects as they interact with eachother.
Also, Know what your herbs are going to do-any contraindications etc for the client or yourself depending on what the direction the tincture will be taking once finished.

What you need....
-A mason jar with a lid or closed glass container with lid
-Enough herbs to fill a pint jar all the way.
-cheesecloth for straining.
-vodka or saki 100 proof. (works best) as they are the purest.

1. So fill your jar 1/2 way with herbs *USE ONE HERB AT A TIME TO ELIMINATE UNDESIRED REACTIONS.

2. Pour vodka over herbs to where the lidwring starts and stir it around in there really well cover the herbs completely so as not to induce molding and top it off with vodka.

3. LABEL that puppy! Botanical name ... 100 proof ... date... and try to move it everyday and top it off with vodka as needed. (the herbs will soak up a lot of the liquid... ) Keep this in an area OUT of the direct sun. Cool dark place is best.

4. Leave for six weeks or more.


Once your herb has sat the desired time and you are ready to use your tincture get a strainer and use your cheesecloth over it with a bowl under it all. Pour everything into the bowl and cover with the cheesecloth *make certain that all the herbs are included. Squeeze the cloth to get all the juice out, or for those who are advanced the video says we can invest in a tincture press which can be spendy but for the tincture connoisseur it is well worth it.

For the size of the jar used, you should have an 8oz finished tincture 1/2 of the jar. You can store it in dropper bottles for easy use and don't forget.... LABEL they usually are hard to tell apart once you get them all done.

NOW YOU KNOW... so go make some tinctures and get healthy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How does Cupping work? TCM

Typically, an acupuncture tactic and one of the oldest methods of TCM dating back to the fourth century BC! People would use everything they could find from animal horns, to bamboo cups and homemade pottery which lead us to the cups of today made from thick plastic, glass and silicone! The massage therapist will probably be using the air cupping technique style rather than glass which requires heat (*usually a flaming alcohol soaked cotton ball...) which is not convered by your insurance.

During cupping... what happens?
                           The skin under the surface of the cup /affected area can cause some swelling and bruising of the skin that are pretty much painless but take a few days to dissipate. This happens because of the bloodvessels at the surface of the skin expanding and moving stagnant energy and blood. The more often the cupping is done to an area the less dark these 'bruise' spots will appear. The darker they are the more stagnation. Cups can help to stop a cold from penetrating the system and enables blood and energy to move again to travel to an area beginning the healing process!!!

HOW to perform cupping?
An air pump is applied to the prospect cup and THEN applied to the clients body (usually a trouble spot or pressure point/meridian energy pathway.)
To pump, apply cup with pump attached to area and give 1-1&1/2 pumps without more than two and 1/2 pumps;that is the usual vaccuum suction for most people to recieve comfortable cupping. Oil (of the carrier oil variety) is sparsley used to provide some slip in cupping as to not pinch the reciever ESPECIALLY if you are planning on doing a sliding cup technique. Sliding cups are beneficial for drawing out and bringing energy down a particular meridian. You are not only opening up the energy channel, but drawing out through the pathway. When the skin is drawn up the blood flow will increase and it is believed that toxins and other substances are being drawn up and out of the body to be metabolized out by the skin and other systems. It also loosens hard connective tissues making it easier to manipulate.

What happens after?
A cupping procedure usually would happen at the end of a massage treatment I wouldn't do too much stimulation over the area right after treatment. It is contraindicated to do cupping over the same area multiple times until the previous cupping marks are released from the body, visibly. Any other form of invasive body work such as Gua Sha is not recommended immediately after. If using essential oils in treatment a spray would be advised over a direct application so as to not 'muck down' the toxins being released and allow the area to breathe; a spritz would do the same benefit while allowing area to breathe. Keep doing cupping as needed and be amazed at the results ... the problem areas will slowly get less and less inflamed! WOW cupping is amazing!

The Lemon Experience

Info & Link provided by S. Phillips

The Lemon Experience by Ron Eslinger

If you don’t mind, let your eyes gently close as you take in a nice abdominal breath.
Imagine or pretend that you’re at home in your kitchen.
Look around the room and pay attention to the sounds, the sights and the light.
Listen for the hummm of the refrigerator…

Walk over to the refrigerator and as you do, pay attention to your footsteps as you walk across the floor …you may or you may not hear your steps on the floor.
Open the door to the refrigerator…feel the cool air as it spills out onto your body.
Hear that hiss as the vacuum releases as you open the door… now today whether you normally have one or not, today there is a lemon in your refrigerator…
Look at the lemon… pay attention to its color as you reach in and take the lemon.
Notice the texture, the temperature, the size and the shape.  Now take the lemon over to a place where you would normally cut up fruits or vegetables…

Take out your favorite knife… now slice the lemon… you may slice it lengthwise from end to end or down the center.  If you sliced from end to end then make a second slice creating a wedge. If you sliced it down the center make another slice creating a ring and then cut the ring in half…
 You may have noticed the juice as it oozes out on the cutting area … reach down and take either the wedge or the slice and bring it up and smell the fragrance…you may be aware of memories being created…

Now open your mouth and take a big bite into that lemon slice.  Feel and taste the juices as it squirts on your teeth and on your tongue… experience the increased salivation and notice the tart and tangy feeling at the corners of your jaw.  Now swallow the lemon juice.

 Open your eyes.  What did you notice? What did you experience?  What senses were stimulated?
Increased salivation was a biochemical/physiological response from a thought and every thought that you have creates some type of biochemical physiological responses in some part of your body.            What the mind possesses, the body expresses.

Types of Meditation: Find Your Meditation Personality

By S. Phillips

Start with some basic breathing awareness... 

Basic Breath Awareness                                                    
The most basic breathing practice is simple breath awareness. Come into a comfortable seated position - cross-legged, kneeling, or in a chair. It's important to have the spine straight, so that the lungs and torso have room to expand in all directions as you breathe. To lengthen the spine, consider sitting with a folded blanket just under the hips (cross-legged) or between the hips and heels (kneeling).
Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Begin by simply noticing each breath as it happens. As you inhale, notice that you are inhaling. As you exhale, notice that you are exhaling. Continue this noticing until you feel your awareness settling comfortably and reliably on the breath. You can then refine your awareness, by noticing more subtle aspects of the breath. Consider shifting your awareness to the following aspects of the breath:
·Notice the breath entering and exiting the body at the tip of your nose.
·Notice the breath move through the airway, from the nose to the mouth to the throat as you inhale, and from the throat to the mouth to the nose as you exhale.
·Notice the quality of your breath: Does it feel jagged or smooth? Does it feel rushed or slow? Does it feel shallow or deep?
·Notice the sound of your breath: Can you hear it? What does it sound like?
·Notice the length of each inhalation and exhalation. Are they even?  Is the breath slowing down or speeding up?
·Notice the belly moving with the breath. Place your hands on your belly and feel the belly expand and contract.
·Notice the rib cage moving with the breath. Place your hands on your rib cage and feel the ribs expand and contract.
·Notice the chest and upper back moving with the breath. Wrap your arms around your upper chest and shoulders, and feel the chest and upper back move with the breath.
·Notice the full dimensionality of your breath: radiate out, in all directions, with each breath.
Continue to notice whatever you notice - go deeper with this awareness practice and notice the subtleties of your own breath. With this practice, you are not trying to consciously control the breath. However, as you become more aware of the breath, you may find that the quality of your breath changes. Allow this to happen naturally, without strain or effort.  Suggested Practice Time: 5 minutes or longer.  Practice several times a day, if possible. This is a practice that can stand on its own, whenever you have the chance to practice it.

Metta--Loving Kindness Meditation

Practice the following meditation to open your heart and cultivate compassion. The meditation begins by cultivating compassion toward someone who is "easy" to feel kindness toward. It continues by challenging you to expand your ability to feel compassion for others in your life, and others in the world.

Choose a specific object of concentration for each part of the meditation (i.e. a family member, a friend, etc.) when a general category is listed. Repeat each line to yourself, silently, while focusing on the object of concentration. Do not repeat these lines mindlessly - try to create a genuine sense of goodwill, compassion, and kindness. 

May (an object of unconditional love - a pet, a child, etc.) be safe – know peace – be healthy – be happy.
May (someone who is suffering) be safe – know peace – be healthy – be happy.
May (someone who challenges me) be safe – know peace – be healthy – be happy.
May everyone in (my town) be safe – know peace – be healthy – be happy.
May everyone in (my country) be safe – know peace – be healthy – be happy.
May everyone in this world be safe – know peace – be healthy – be happy.
May I be safe – know peace – be healthy – be happy.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Jack Kornfield

Alternate forms of Metta:

May I/you/we be happy.
May I/you/we be filled with loving kindness
May I/you/we be safe from inner and outer harm.
May I/you/we be well.
May I/you/we be peaceful and at ease.

May I be free from danger.
My I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.

Send Metta in this order—

Mentor or someone who has been kind to you
Good Friend
Someone you have neutral feelings for (neither like or dislike)
Mildly annoying or mildly difficult person (place yourself next to this person, if this is helpful in sending kind thoughts)
Annoying or difficult person
All beings everywhere

Eknath Easwaran on Passage Meditation

The principle of meditation is simple: You are what you think. By meditating on words that embody your highest ideals, you drive them deep into your consciousness. There they take root and begin to create wonderful changes in your life – changes you have wanted to make, but have not known how to bring about.
When I talk about meditation, I am referring to a specific interior discipline which is found in every major religion, though called by different names. (Catholic writers, for example, speak of contemplation or interior prayer.) This interior discipline is not a relaxation technique. It requires strenuous effort. It does dissolve tension, but in general, especially at the beginning, meditation is work, and if you expect to find it easy going, you’ll be disappointed.
Meditation in this sense is not a disciplined reflection on a spiritual theme. Focused reflection can yield valuable insights, but for the vast majority of us, reflection is an activity on the surface level of the mind. To transform personality we need to go much, much deeper. We need a way to get eventually into the unconscious itself, where our deepest desires arise, and make changes there.
So what is meditation? It is the regular, systematic training of attention to turn inward and dwell continuously on a single focus within consciousness, until, after many years of daily practice, we become so absorbed in the object of our contemplation that while we are meditating, we forget ourselves completely. In that moment, when we are empty of ourselves, we are utterly full of what we are dwelling on. This is the central principle of meditation: we become what we meditate on. Here is a brief summary of the form of meditation I follow:
            Choose a time for meditation when you can sit for half an hour in uninterrupted quiet. Early morning is best, before the activities of the day begin. If you want to meditate more, add half an hour in the evening, but please do not meditate for longer periods without personal guidance from an experienced teacher. Select a place that is cool, clean, and quiet. Sit with your back and head erect, on the floor or on a straight-backed chair.
Close your eyes and begin to go slowly, in your mind, through the words of a simple, positive, inspirational passage from one of the world’s great spiritual traditions. (Remember, you become what you meditate on.) I recommend beginning with something that really resonates with you.
You will find it helpful to keep adding to your repertoire so that the passages you meditate on do not grow stale.
While you are meditating, do not follow any association of ideas or allow your mind to reflect on the meaning of the words. If you are giving your full attention to each word, the meaning cannot help sinking in.
When distractions come, do not resist them, but give more attention to the words of the passage. If your mind strays from the passage entirely, bring it back gently to the beginning and start again.
Resolve to have your meditation every day – however full your schedule, whatever interruptions threaten, whether you are sick or well.

Meditation is never practiced in a vacuum. Certain other disciplines always accompany and support it, varying somewhat according to the needs of a particular culture or audience. I have found these seven disciplines to be enormously helpful in supporting the practice of meditation in the modern world.

Meditating on a memorized inspirational passage is the heart of the program called passage meditation. Seven supporting disciplines are used throughout the rest of the day, helping you go deeper for a lifetime of discovery.

Repetition of a Mantram
Slowing Down
One-Pointed Attention
Training the Senses
Putting Others First
Spiritual Fellowship

A mantra I really like is in sanskrit and a prayer for peace... I learned it when I was studying Sivananda yoga since I was 15 years old.!


Om Sarvesham Svasti Bhavatu
Sarvesham Shantir Bhavatu
Sarvesham Purnam Bhavatu
Sarvesham Mangalam Bhavatu

Om. May auspiciousness be unto all. May peace be unto all. May fullness be unto all. May prosperity be unto all.

Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Niramayaah
Sarve Bhadrani Pasyantu
Maa Kaschid-Dukha-Bhag-Bhavet

Om. May all be happy. May all be free from disabilities. May all look to the good of others. May none suffer from sorrow.

Asato Maa Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya

Om. Lead me from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, from mortality to Immortality.

Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnaat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamaadaaya
Purnamevaa Vashishyate
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Om. That is whole. This is whole. From the whole the whole becomes manifest. From the whole, when the whole--if negated--what remains is again the whole. Om. Peace, peace, peace.

If that is weird or you don't understand how to pronounce the words right away a simple prayer is good. You don't have to be religious or anything, it is called "The Universal Prayer" because no matter what you believe in it is good to put out there. Whether its God, mother Earth, or the universe listening... 

O adorable Lord of Mercy and Love 
Salutations and prostrations unto thee
Thou art omnipresent omnipotent and omniscient
thou art existence consiousness and bliss absolute
thou art the indweller of all beings

Grand us an understanding heart,
Equal vision balanced mind, 
Faith, Devotion and wisdom
Grant us inner spiritual strength 
To resist temptation and control the mind
Free us from egoism, lust, greed, hatred, anger and jealousy
Fill our hearts with divine virtues.

Let us behold thee in all these names and forms
Let us serve Thee in all these names and forms
LEt us ever remmeber Thee
Let us ever sing They glories
Let they name be ever on our lips
and let us abide in Thee forever and ever... 

just typing it brings joy to my heart! 

Red Light Meditation

Thich Nhat Hanh, author of over 90 books on meditation and mindfulness, has several excellent suggestions for bringing our awareness back to the present moment. One practice is Red Light Meditation. Often we allow our lives to become so busy that we resent time wasted in traffic. Most people get angry or upset due to delays because being slowed down easily irritates them. But that reaction is a choice: we can choose to react another way. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we see each red light as an opportunity to do a mini-meditation. We can thank the light for turning red, for giving us a chance to check back in with our life, to notice our breath or sounds, our body or feelings. We can win back another precious taste of his moment, the only time we can actually be alive.

(Note—you can also use this time to notice your surroundings, send blessings to the people around you—those in cars, on buses, walking, on bikes, etc.--and to breath into the moment. Take time to thank the red light for allowing traffic to be controlled to prevent accidents. Be aware of plants, trees, people and other things of interest. Just remember to stay aware of the traffic light so you don’t zone out and miss the green light….)


Another practice is Telephone Meditation. When the phone rings, most people’s first instinct is to answer it right away. Perhaps there is some hidden fear that the caller will hang up if we don’t answer in the first two rings. Hanh points out that the other person really wants to talk to us, so we don’t need to rush. First, when the phone rings, we should pause, stop whatever we are doing, and just notice the phone. On the second ring, we should think about who the other person is and smile. On the third ring, we should think about ourselves talking with this person and again smile. On the fourth ring, we move toward the phone. Finally we pick up the phone and say “hello” with a smile.

All these techniques of building mindfulness help us in our daily life. The more we practice, the easier it becomes to practice. As yogis, once our practice on the mat has ended, the real practice begins, bringing mindfulness to every minute of the day. We cannot be truly mindful every minute, but we can intend to be.

Adapted from YinSights, ‘The Buddhist View of the Mind’ by Bernie Clark

How To Use Relaxation to Cope with Stress: Progressive Muscle Relaxation
By Matthew Tull, PhD,    Updated: February 05, 2009

Using relaxation exercises can be an effective way to reduce your stress and anxiety. One relaxation exercise called progressive muscle relaxation focuses on a person alternating between tensing and relaxing different muscle groups throughout the body.
In this way, relaxation is viewed like a pendulum. More complete relaxation of your muscles can be obtained by first going to the other extreme (that is, by tensing your muscles). In addition, by tensing your muscles (a common symptom of anxiety) and immediately relaxing them, the symptom of muscle tension may become a signal to relax over time.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: At least 30 minutes
Here's How:
.        Sit in a comfortable chair and bring your attention to your left hand. Clench your left hand to make a fist. Pay attention to these feelings of tension. Then, let go of your fist, letting your hand rest against your side or the arm of the chair. Be aware of how different your hand feels in a state of relaxation as compared to tension. Then, make a fist with your left hand again, then relax it, continuing to pay attention to how your hand feels in states of tension and relaxation. Repeat this procedure with your right hand.
.        After you have finished tensing and relaxing your hands, bend both hands back at the wrists in order to tense the muscles in the back of your hand and in your forearms. As before, pay attention to what this muscle tension feels like. After you have tensed these muscles, relax them, also paying attention to what this state of relaxation feels like. Repeat.
.        Make a tight fist with both hands, and pull your hands toward your shoulders. This will bring tension to your biceps. Be aware of this tension and then relax, allowing your arms to drop loosely to your sides. Pay attention to how your arms now feel. Repeat.
.        Shrug your shoulders as high as you can. Pay attention to the tension as you do this. Hold it, then relax your shoulders. Let your shoulders drop. Notice how different this state of relaxation feels compared to when your shoulders were tense. Repeat.
.        Now, bring attention to your face. Wrinkle your forehead. Tense those muscles and hold this state. Notice the feelings of tension. Then, relax those muscles completely, being aware of these feelings of relaxation. Repeat.
.        Close your eyes as tightly as you can. You should feel tension all around your eyes. After holding this state, relax. Recognize differences in how relaxation feels as compared to tension. Repeat.
.        Clench your jaw, biting your teeth together. Hold this tension and then relax. Repeat.
.        To finish relaxing the muscles of your face, press your lips together as tightly as you can. You should feel tension all around your mouth. Examine how this tension feels. Now relax your lips, and in doing so, let go of that tension. Be aware of how this feels. Repeat.
.        Move your awareness down from your face to your neck. Put your head back and press the back of your head against the back of the chair you are sitting in. Feel the tension in your neck and then bring your head back to relax it. Repeat.
.        Now bring your head forward. Push your chin against the top of your chest. Feel the tension in the back of your neck. Hold it, then relax. Notice how different tension and relaxation feel. Repeat.
.        Direct your attention to your upper back. Arch your back, sticking out your chest and stomach. Notice the tension in your back. Recognize what that tension feels like. Then, let go of that tension, bringing about deep relaxation. Allow those muscles to become loose. Be aware of what that relaxation feels like. Repeat.
.        Take a deep breath. Breath in as much as you can. Fill your chest with air until you can feel tension throughout your chest. Hold it and then release. Repeat. Notice your muscles in your chest getting more and more relaxed.
.        Then, tense your stomach muscles. Notice how that tension feels and then relax those muscles, again paying attention to that state of relaxation and how different it feels from tension. Repeat.
.        Now move your awareness to your legs. Lift your legs up and stretch them out. Feel how tense the muscles in your thighs are. Then, let your legs drop, relaxing your thigh muscles. Pay attention to the different sensations of relaxation and tension. Repeat.
.        Tense both of your calf muscles. You can do this by pointing your toes upward. You should feel the pull of your calf muscles as they tense. Notice that feeling. Then, let them relax. Let your feet fall, bringing about relaxation in your calf muscles. Notice that feeling, too. Repeat.
.        You are now done tensing and relaxing all muscles in your body. Scan the different muscles groups covered, and bring attention to any lingering muscle tension. If you find any, bring relaxation to those muscle groups, continuing to notice how different your body feels in a state of relaxation.
.        Initially, until you become familiar with the exercise, it may be best to have someone read this exercise to you while you close your eyes and sit in a comfortable chair. Alternatively, if you would like to do it alone, you can record the exercise and play it back to yourself.
.        When you tense your muscles, you should hold that tension (as comfortably as you can) for around 5 to 10 seconds. Then, stay in the relaxed state for at least 10 seconds.
.        A very important piece of this exercise is bringing awareness to the feelings of tension and relaxation. Therefore, throughout the exercise, make sure you are paying attention to these feelings and noticing how different your muscles feel when you move from tension to relaxation.
.        Practice regularly. The more you practice, the more it will become a habit, and the quicker you will be able to bring about relaxation when you are tense.
.        Make sure you do at least two cycles of tension-relaxation for each muscle group.
.        Source: 
Goldfried, M.R., & Davison, G.C. (1994). Clinical behavior therapy. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Mindful Eating Meditation

Pick out one of the objects on the plate (with tongs) and hold it in the palm of your hand. Perhaps you've seen one of these objects, or done this exercise before...perhaps even so this will be a totally new experience.

Think about where the food object came from and the kindness and hard work of the people who grew or produced it.

Take a few seconds to notice your preconceived ideas of what it may taste like. Take a deep breath and let go of those thoughts. Observe it as though you’ve never seen this food object before.

Look at the object, noticing everything about it: color, texture, temperature-looking at all sides if you are willing, maybe even holding it up to the light and seeing if there are any changes in your perspective or seeing if it has an aroma. No need to change anything about your response, simply observing…

Notice what happens inside of your mouth as you contemplate eating this object...paying attention to the tongue, cheeks, throat...any part of your digestive system...your breathing and the thoughts in your mind...any excitement or resistances? Ideas that it will be pleasant, unpleasant, or are you feeling neutral?

As you bring the object to your mouth, notice the feelings of the muscles in your arm. Lightly touch the food against your lips. Do you notice any change in your mouth? A bit more saliva maybe...

Now, placing it on your tongue, seeing what happens: what does it feel like, where is it in your mouth, does the tongue want to move it...let it reside there even before chewing it [typically someone has already swallowed it-you can either provide another piece or let them participate as is-KC].

Then, as you chew noticing where it goes--front of the mouth, sides, in the cheek pockets...bringing your awareness to any changes, bursts of flavors as you swallow...whether you can feel it or taste it as it moves down your throat…

Become aware of the absence of the grape, of the taste and the aroma…Do you feel like another bite of the object for the taste?

 What happens after it's gone? Is the tongue moving around? or not...any saliva...any longing for more...or not? Simply noticing any feelings which arise-enjoyment, aversion, or anything else...noticing how you are in this very moment  without judgment, without having to do anything at all...

We usually eat on automatic pilot! …We are thinking about the day without paying much attention the way we eat or what we eat. And, very often, even why we are eating!

When you start eating your meals mindfully you will start noticing the different tastes and also become more aware of your body’s signals. Often you will eat less but enjoy your food more…

Any Mindful Meditation practice will have the same benefits. Try Mindful Walking as a focusing, mind-control and awareness technique… You might see your world in a different light!!

“Mindful Eating” is a well-known and very effective tool for treating eating disorders and encouraging general healthy, conscious eating habits. Any exercise that focuses the mind on a specific activity can be classed as a meditation.

Eating a meal together is a meditative practice. We should try to offer our presence for every meal. As we serve our food we can already begin practicing. Serving ourselves, we realize that many elements, such as the rain, sunshine, earth, air and love, have all come together to form this wonderful meal. In fact, through this food we see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.

Note—I use cashews, raisins, Hershey kisses, Goldfish crackers, etc for this meditation.

Alternative Practices of Mindful Eating—

Switch Hands
The mere act of switching hands from your dominant hand to the hand you use less often can transform the feel of a meal. Having to work harder to handle utensils can bring a whole new awareness to a meal, and lessen the tendency to eat mindlessly. Each bite is noticed and, if you remember to do it, savored more.

Ringing Bells
Bring focus to eating by sounding a bell several times during the meditation. The bell would be a signal to stop chewing or drinking, breathe in and out three times, bringing awareness to tastes and smells and to the presence of others also enjoying their food (or to those who do not have enough to eat.)

Erich Schiffman’s ‘In/Out’ Meditation technique, a Zen-like technique--

Key points:
  • Watch yourself become still. Be comfortable in your posture.
  • Station your awareness at the nostrils.
  • Breath normally.
  • Think/Say to yourself-- ‘In’ on the inhale and ‘Out’ on the exhale.
  • Report the news (which is simply ‘In, Out’.)
  • When your mind gets caught up in a ‘thought tendril’, take your awareness back to the sensations at the nose and of your breath.
  • Continue with ‘In’/’Out’ and report the news.
  • Don’t concentrate too hard.
  • This is a ‘new now’…
  • Practice for at least 5 minutes.