Archive for the ‘Zen Living’ Category

Zen Habits – Stop Planning and Forget About Goals

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Almost every activity we do has a purpose and generally, a specific goal in mind. Whether it’s driving to work, exercising or doing laundry, the activity is aimed at achieving something. What would happen if we gave up the goal? What would a journey without a goal look like?

Imagine going for a bike ride with no particular purpose. You plan on taking a new path to explore and wind up taking another direction because you become
curious about what is around the corner. No destination in mind, nothing to achieve. Just curiosity, having fun, and the anticipation of not knowing what the outcome will be.

What would it be like to try doing a project or task without a goal? Set your intention to express yourself without knowing the effect of the outcome you achieve and have fun. Imagine figuring out the work as you go, allowing yourself to go where it takes you. This process stimulates your curiosity to keep going because each new step wants you to find out more, do more and experience more.


Taking this concept a step farther, Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, asks what would it be like to live life without a fixed plan? Without knowing where you’ll be living in five years, or what you’ll be doing, or what you want to achieve? While the answers are unknown, he has experienced a new level of freedom by letting go of goals, fixed plans and destinations.

Our parents and our society have taught us to be organizers, planners and goal-setters. To let go requires a radical shift in thinking to one that allows for the free-flow of ideas and just being in the moment of the experience.

There is no right or wrong way to get started with free-flow. That is the real undiscovered beauty with this shift in thinking. Ideas form without goals, planning or intent on how the end result should be. Tomorrow, wake up excited about being alive. Ask yourself what you would like to do that perhaps you have always wanted to, but haven’t. You Remember, you aren’t bound to anything at this point, but the question is important.

Get started! Do something that you enjoy or are excited about. Have fun just experiencing each step with this new perspective and see where it takes you in the process. While the project may be a goal or destination, remember, it’s not fixed! There is no set plan and the destination doesn’t matter as much as the process- the journey itself. Your focus may shift as you go. The flow of ideas or unforeseen circumstances may change your course. The key is to adapt. No plan
can anticipate every outcome and neither can you. Without predetermined goals and destinations, you will find the path much more rewarding, uninhibited and a richer learning experience in the end. Discovering new and different outcomes create flexibility and you will become better at change and uncertainty instead of fearing it.

As new challenges arise, you will be better equipped to adapt and let go of tightly held beliefs that may hold you back from new and rewarding opportunities. You are free to do this because you don’t mind where you end up – it is about being present in the journey, excited about each step and having fun along the way. Each step becomes the destination, and is exactly where you should be.

Starting Your Own Gratitude Journal

Monday, March 11th, 2013

I have encountered a lot of people lamenting their feelings of restlessness, desiring change and wanting more meaning and fulfillment in their lives. Striking a chord within me as well, I thought perhaps it’s the dead of winter and we are all longing for spring, a time of renewal? The common thread that seemed to be pulling these discussions together was the notion of feeling stuck, plodding through the motions of daily life and unsure of how to find the answers leading to greater happiness and meaning.

While we all have the best intentions to take more time for ourselves, life and the responsibilities of work, home and family always seem to take precedence while our personal needs take the back seat. Once we realize where we are – far from our own deep spiritual connection with the universe, how do we find our way back?

Feelings of restlessness or the sense that we are “missing our greater purpose” can often be found in the need to become reconnected with our divine inner spirit. I have found one of the most consistent and enjoyable ways to stay centered and grounded is to count the blessings in my life. I have been keeping a gratitude journal for over 3 years. Every night when I crawl into bed, I take a few deep cleansing breaths, clear my mind of the day’s clutter and become quiet within. Within this reflective place, I take stock of my day. I focus on the positive things that happened to me and enter those in the journal. I start each entry with “Today I am grateful for”… and begin listing all the blessings that I encountered throughout the day.

When I first endeavored to begin my gratitude journal, it was somewhat daunting and a challenge trying to find good in some otherwise not so good days. When I look back at the initial entries, they were pretty basic, but none the less important, for example, I would enter, I am grateful for my home, my job, my family. As time went on, I found myself looking forward to my journaling time each evening. It has become a time where I can look within, clearly and honestly and be able to count the abundance of blessings for what I have, what I desire and most importantly, honoring and acknowledging all the good in my life. Blessings are not only for what we receive, but what we can impart to others. I often find my heart overflowing with all the abundance when putting my blessings to paper and this simple act often takes me away from the disconnected feeling I may have been experiencing that day.

I have found that expressing gratitude and counting my blessings has also dramatically changed my outlook on life, on my relationships and my overall perspective of “my greater purpose” in life. Gratitude offers a conscious awareness of focusing on what you do have rather than what you don’t and I have found that expressing gratitude brings more to be thankful for and a richness to my life that is always with me now.

My gratitude journal inspires me to focus on the positive more than the negative each day. I welcome new opportunities with excitement and think to myself, I need to write this in my gratitude journal tonight! On many days, I can’t even wait to write in my journal. I stop what I am doing and give thanks to the universe for whatever blessing I’m experiencing right then and there!

Expressing gratitude is a powerful tool that aligns with the universal law of attraction. To that which you are grateful, the universe responds by attracting more of those good things to you. This applies as much to challenges and problems we encounter as it does the good things that come into our lives. I discovered not too long ago, that my perception on how I approach difficulties has changed dramatically. The change occurred ever so subtly that I surprised myself with this realization. All the frustration and complications that used to come with challenges is no longer there. I see challenges presented to me as gifts from the universe. It becomes an opportunity to grow, learn a new skill and to advance both emotionally and spiritually. When faced with a challenge, I even find myself saying ok universe, you really threw a good one at me this time. What do I need to learn from this? As my focus changed, so did my energy. Staying positive and grateful raises your vibration and provides you with the tools you need to tackle a problem. As I work through the challenge, I express gratitude for each step of the process, for what I have gained by the experience and for who I am for having come through it. Each step forward is a step towards something bigger and something better than the current situation you find yourself in. Gratitude helps you grow and expand and the happiness you experience from that can enrich your life and the lives of others. Being able to express appreciation for moving through obstacles and gleaning what is to be learned from it, you won’t be attracting any more of those challenges into your life!

Over time, I have found my gratitude journal is much like peeling an onion. Each day offers a new layer of self-discovery, full of reward and appreciation for the infinite possibilities available to me. It also provides a special, dedicated quiet time to connect with my inner spirit. It is a time to offer my deep appreciation to the universe for all the good and yes, even the challenges – all through the simple act of counting my blessings.

Karen Phillips is a holistic nurse practitioner. She works with animals and their humans “healing both ends of the leash” using Healing Touch® energy therapy for health and behavioral issues and for preventative care. She lives in Centennial Colorado. To contact her to learn more about Healing Touch®, she can be reached at (303) 995-6677 or by email at

It’s Almost Spring – Time to Start Planning Your Zen Garden

Friday, March 1st, 2013

zen rock gardeningIn case you’re not familiar with the concept of a Zen garden, let’s just say “it’s not your grandmother’s garden,” and probably not your mom’s either.  As nontraditional as Zen gardening may be to the Western eye, it has an effect on people that borders on transformational.  One visitor who sat in the Zen rock garden at London’s Three Wheels Temple said this: “It is very hard to explain… suddenly you feel a great peace and you feel just completely happy sitting there.  All your mind wants to do is be there, taking in the tiny details like the shapes of the rocks and little patches of purple in the dark green of the moss.”


Amethyst Jewelry – The Perfect Elixir for the Winter Blues?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

amethyst crystal necklaceIt seems like this time of year everyone starts thinking about spring.  With the official start of spring just a month away, women start looking for ways to introduce more color to their wardrobes.  The February birthstone, amethyst, offers more than just a burst of violet color; it has a host of healing qualities that transcend the ordinary.  It is precisely these powers that have made the amethyst such a well-known and sought after stone.


Creating an Intentional Life

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

We often go through our days following routines and patterns we’ve developed over our lifetime. The motions of home, school and work life become comfortable without requiring a lot of effort or thought. Now, contrast this with the idea of intention. Everything you do is done with mindfulness, a consciousness of fulfilling one of your core values such as love or compassion.

While many activities of daily living are initially done with intent, once it is figured out, we tend not to think about it and it soon becomes lost in the repetition over time.

What if you could change that? Creating a mindful intention with your actions can transform each day and perhaps your life.

The next time you have a load of laundry to wash, say to yourself that you are doing this as a service to your family, to make them happy and as a form of meditation to practice mindfulness. Doing the laundry will take on much more importance, and would cease to be mundane.

The only difference is intention.

What if driving to work was done after affirming an intention to help your co-workers, to make people happy and to find satisfaction through your work? The drive might be much happier, and you might be less likely to get irritated when someone inevitably cuts you off in traffic.

This is the Intentional Life.

Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits practices living life with intention and finds life more purposeful, lived more consciously and ultimately, finds greater contentment. Before you start your next project whether at home, school or work, pause a moment, close your eyes, and mentally affirm your intention. Why are you doing this? Is it out of compassion for others, or yourself? Is it to make someone happier? Out of gratitude for the work and kindness of others?

As you begin the task, be mindful of your intention throughout. This is a small step, but in those few moments, you will be living an Intentional Life. 

Astrology Soul Coach – Cosmic Dance for February 2013

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

One of the planetary energies to pay attention to in February is bigger-than-life Jupiter. Here’s the back story. Jupiter spends a year moving through each of the astrological signs, making a complete circuit around the Sun in 12 years. Jupiter has been cruising through the curious, mental and chatty sign of Gemini since June of 2012. After being retrograde for the past four
months, (appears to be moving backwards from our perspective on planet Earth), it is now moving forward once again.

Why do we care about Jupiter? Astrologically speaking, Jupiter is associated with expansion, increase, development, good fortune, optimism and abundance.
Simply put, Jupiter is associated with how we grow our lives. Acting like a bridge, Jupiter opens the way for new opportunities. We honor Jupiter’s energy
by learning, teaching, traveling, storytelling and seeking meaning in our lives.

While Jupiter is in Gemini we open up to new opportunities by using our minds and through connections and all forms of communication. If you are writing a
book, an article, giving a speech, writing music, posting a blog, learning a new language or studying anything, the time is now! Jupiter will be in Gemini until
June 25th…then it’s on to a new kind of story.

Venus, the planet of love will take a side trip into the mental, revolutionary and quirky sign of Aquarius in February. People are looking for freedom and independence especially in relationships, so give everyone a little latitude.

Fortunately, her cosmic counterpart Mars will be in sweet, sensitive and compassionate Pisces. Looks like they are switching it up and doing a little role playing – she’s brainy and non-committal and he’s looking for a deeper emotional connection. Relationships will be fun if you are willing to be flexible!

C.A. Brooks is a clairvoyant astrologer, writer, speaker and coach. 
You can find her at and read her weekly astrology column in Mark’s Power Peek at She hosts a daily radio show “A Course in Miracles Daily Lessons” on at 7am Pacific – 10 Eastern. You can also tune into her weekly Astrology radio program, Simpletales, on every Tuesday 11am Pacific – 2 Eastern.

Embrace Yourself

Monday, February 4th, 2013

February is the month of love and highlighted by the celebration of Valentines’ day. As we begin to think of all the people in our lives whom we wish to show our love and appreciation, there is one person you shouldn’t forget – You!
Self love is the most important relationship you can have and is also the foundation on which all other relationships are formed. It is accepting yourself just as you are, right now and acknowledging your values and boundaries and honoring them consistently. It is being able to say no without guilt, and saying yes to you. The benefits of self love are numerous. Inner peace, confidence and the ability to make healthier decisions in every area of your life are enabled. When you outwardly love yourself, others learn how to treat you by example. When your internal reservoir of love is filled, you can be more loving to others and of greater service to your community.

There is a lot of scientific research available regarding the importance of self-love and how it can also have a positive impact on the immune system. Our bodies carry millions of cells that perform an organized and systematic exchange of information to other cells, organs, tissues and glands to function efficiently while slow functioning cells are quickly eliminated serving to maintain our optimal health.

When our bodies do not recognize these slow functioning cells, they can send the wrong information to our organs, eventually causing the immune system to malfunction. This may cause susceptibility to fatigue, lack of sleep, proper diet and illness resulting in a visit to the doctor.

Everything in our universe is made of energy. Each person, plant and animal has their own unique energy and frequency. Everything works in a universal and synergistic dance, acting and reacting with each encounter. The movement of energy within the body is important to healing and our emotions play a critical role in the movement and transfer of that energy.

Medical research has shown the dramatic effect of a simple hug. The act of embracing someone raises the hemoglobin level in the body. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to our organs resulting in improved function, hormone regulation and healthy cell growth, thus supporting the immune system. When we are self-critical, our sympathetic nervous system elevates the stress hormones in our bodies. When this fight or flight reaction takes over, we can experience difficulty learning, problem solving or discovering the underlying reason why we find ourselves in difficult situations.

The holistic approach of energy medicine teaches that emotions are stored in our body. Emotions are picked up and received through the body’s seven main energy centers known as Chakras. These rotating vortexes receive and transfer the life force energy to more than three thousand smaller chakra centers while simultaneously removing stagnant energy no longer needed. This intricate web of energy centers is in a constant state of flux, responding to every thought, action and feeling we have. The third chakra known as the solar plexus is thought to be the command center of self-love. Located just above the navel, it directs energy to the gall bladder, spleen, stomach, liver, pancreas, and small intestine. It also provides energy to the adrenal glands, thyroid, prostate, pituitary, hypothalamus, ovaries and testes. These glands release hormones into the body which regulate your organs and contribute to the overall health of your immune system.

The thoughts and feelings we have about ourselves along with the challenges and stress of daily life play a notable role in the health of our immune system. Self-loving thoughts and feelings can work to improve the health of the immune system. When we become disappointed in ourselves or react emotionally to negative things that we experience, we can weaken our immune system and hold onto toxins.

The immune system’s intelligence is constantly monitoring the feelings we have about ourselves and it is thought that embracing authentic feelings of self love can improve its function. As they say, talk is cheap and the act of just thinking kind thoughts cannot move enough energy alone to promote a healthy immune system. It requires a sincere and mindful loving emotion for one’s self.

The first step to self-love is to become mindful of your thoughts. We often think unkindly of ourselves several times a day without even realizing it. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, put up a bright red stop sign in your mind and replace it with a kind and nurturing thought. Take a few moments to envelop that thought and then put it into a feeling and fully embrace the emotion. Correcting and replacing the unconstructive thoughts we have is perhaps the biggest step you can take to maintain a healthy immune system.

If you are asking where to start, try this exercise. Sit comfortably in a quiet space and close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth clearing your mind. Feel your body begin to relax from your head to your toes. Next, think about a person, a special place you love to go or a pet you cherish that brings about feelings of unconditional love.
Fully visualize how much you love this person, pet or place, and let the feelings grow. Tap into the emotions you are feeling and allow those to expand, as if you were holding all this warmth and love in your hands. When you let yourself feel this unconditional love, you will find that very little can hold you back from the intense, profound emotions that stem from it.

Take all those feelings and let them move into your body. Allow yourself to open and completely absorb those emotions applying them directly to you. Affirm that you are as wonderful as the person, place or pet to which you direct your love. You are special!

Take a few minutes each day to experience these emotions of love that are all about you and just for you. Experiencing even a small amount of self-love every day can open wonderful channels of energy and opportunities that will extend to a healthier immune system. It will also improve your own self perspective, your life and your relationships with others. Embrace yourself today for a healthier tomorrow!

Table Gongs and Chimes Bering Instant Tranquility

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

table chimes and desk gongsIt may seem a little far-fetched, but the sound of certain gongs and chimes can cause a physiological response in many people.  Just as noted author William Congreve once said, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast;” the same could be said about the sound of a gong.


Liven Up Your Office Space with a Bamboo Chair Mat

Friday, January 18th, 2013

bamboo chair matIf we had a choice and could build our own office, most of us would surround ourselves with rich textures, fabulous woods and organic furnishings all day.  It’s unfortunate that the environment in so many offices is so drab and uninspiring.  Not only are we flooded with fluorescent lighting and the electromagnetic fields emitted from a room full of computers, we often sit in drab, colorless cubicles surrounded by inorganic fibers, metal and plastic – not exactly the recipe for job satisfaction.  The sad part about it is that our attempts to “jazz up the space” are usually limited a few family pictures and wall calendar.  Wouldn’t it be nice to add some practical and fun office accessories too?


Make 2013 Authentic

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Authenticity is to hold to one’s core beliefs and for 2013, we want to share nine steps that may help you have the best year of your life so far!

1. Define What is Important to You – and stand by your decisions. When you begin to worry about how others perceive you, you have abandoned authenticity.

2. Own Your Decisions – When you have made a decision that feels good to you, embrace it. If it faces opposition from others and you can’t own it, then it’s time to re-think what you are doing.

3. Learn to Say Yes – Be spontaneous and accept impromptu offers to have fun or try something new. These are often the times we have the most enjoyable experiences.

4. Acknowledge your Body’s messages – If you are feeling tired, stressed or impatient, take a time out. Do what you need to feel better whether it’s a walk, a nap or just some quiet reflective time.

5. Money Matters – Spending beyond your means is really pretending to be someone you aren’t. Impulse buys will lead to regret down the road.

6. Take a Break From Being Busy – Allow yourself time each day to breathe, empty the mind and relax, it’s good for the body, it’s great for the soul and one of the kindness things you can do for yourself.

7. Treat Yourself -Honor your own needs each day. It may just be 30 minutes of alone time from the house and kids, going to a movie or getting a massage. You will find when you have time to yourself, you will have more of yourself to give to others.

8. Be Realistic – Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Establish small, easy steps to reach your goals. As you accomplish each one, you will build confidence and attain those long held desires.

9. Love Yourself – If you can’t say I love you to yourself, you can’t fully love others in your life.