What Does it Mean to Live Well?

What does it take to live well? First it takes an awareness that there is something flat and off key and you know it could be better. Maybe it is prioritizing an important relationship that you realize is stagnant. You could jump start that, you don’t have to wait for the other to make the first move. Or it could be that you finally ran out of excuses for not beginning that exercise program, and you know you have to start. And why not now? And you do. It might be time to take that first step to reconnecting with your spiritual life that you left behind when you left your parents’ home. You remember there was something essential and mysterious that touched you deeply and opened your heart. Maybe, a realization arises and you pick up the phone and make an appointment for a physical because you have been low on energy for far too long.

A flash of insight peaks through and you know that it is up to you to define and discover what it means to live well. Live well no matter what circumstances are present.

Deep bow of gratitude to the brave participants in the initial offering of a new program, Cultivate Health, Learn to Live Well with Cancer. A circle of people came together from the comfort of their homes to share in this webinar, to reflect, discuss and engage in thought provoking questions and exercises around what it means to each of them to live well.

Throughout the 6-week program each person was invited to engage in and reflect on several areas vital to living with more ease and wellbeing. These included stress management strategies that prioritized working with habits of thinking and ways to challenge the negativity bias. Taking stock of social connections in order to define relationships that empower and energize rather than drain vitality and create stress. The latest research on ways to improve quality of sleep were discussed, as well as unlocking the vividness of the sensory world; participants discovered what a valuable resource our senses are.

Expanding vocabulary for feelings is a way to be with them that puts them in their proper place. No need to get swept up by emotions. This happens less when all feelings are acknowledged and can be just what they are, here, felt and then gone. You learn that feelings are temporary. This changing nature of life naturally led us to talk about death.

We reflected on ways to plan for and talk about desires for the end of life. When you relax the heart to the inevitable reality of death, a flood of energy creates a renewed sense of urgency for living. Knowing what you value is the foundation for what matters most.

It was a deep dive into patterns, barriers, aspirations, and the always present yearning of each of our beautiful, beating hearts.

Don’t wait, the time to live well is in the present. Not someday when all things are mapped out, certain or perfect. All an illusion. Life awaits your attention. Life is calling you to Cultivate Health and Live Well NOW.

 

Mindful Checklist for Pausing; Step Into the Gap

 

Pause. Right Here. Right Now. When you stop, and pause you make room for yourself to be in life. You contact yourself and see what you think, feel, need, and desire. The pause allows you to care for yourself and honor your experience.

It is said that  pausing is the beginning of all healing practices. So, when you step into the space that pausing allows you begin to heal yourself of strife, anxiety, and overwhelm.  You release tension in the body even if only for a moment. This is not easy to do because you are either being pushed along in life or find yourself rushing into life, and both instances create a push/pull dynamic that is exhausting. You are caught in the middle of life.

Contraction and tension become the norm as you work hard to take care of all that needs to be cared for.  This dynamic is unsustainable and creates a pervasive sense of unease and sometimes dissatisfaction. This stressful pushing and pulling is the on ramp to adverse health conditions. Give yourself the gift of learning to pause. Use this mindful checklist to stop, contact, breathe and make room for you to move through life with more ease.

  • Stop, literally slow down to a complete stop

  • Take a breath; deep inhale and slow continuous exhale. Do this a few times.

  • Know that you are here; feel your feet on the ground and the weight of your body.

  • Look up and out to the world; take in your surroundings with all of your senses. Notice what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, be in this experience.

  • Bring a slight smile to your face. This sends a message to your nervous system that all is okay.

  • Experience a sensation of settling within the pause; a feeling of being grounded and present.

  • Proceed after the pause, knowing you have stepped into a gap inside the busy day and allowed yourself a full stop.

  • Ask; what is it like to be present even for a few moments?

“Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

Guillaume Apollinaire

Mindful Checklist Gratitude: Freshen Up Your Thanks

Mindful Checklist Gratitude: Freshen Up Your Thanks

Thanksgiving now behind us, we are left with an uplifted spirit from pausing to say thanks and gathering for connection and tradition. We can help that experience linger with an intention to notice, pause, and say thank you. Gratitude can be a way of living every day, and is a foundational component of resilience.

 Gratitude is good for your health, both physical (immune system booster) and emotional (increased optimism and joy). The good news is it can be cultivated.

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Mindful Checklist Friendship

Mindful Checklist Friendship

Friendship, communing with another human being, especially when you feel seen, heard and understood is one of life’s rich and affirming gifts. We literally need one another. Friendship puts the soft edges on rough corners and we are worn smooth by friendly connections and belonging together.

Social support, such as friendship, is powerful medicine. Research shows that those with challenging and life-threatening illness rank social support in the top 9 factors that contribute to healing and thriving.

Use this mindful checklist to take inventory of your friendships and connections to consciously acknowledge their meaning and impact in your life.

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When Cancer Comes

   When Cancer Comes

There is a poem by Mary Oliver, When Death Comes that has called to me for the vivid picture it paints of facing into death; of embracing the hardest thing we will face. When anything difficult arises in life we tend to feel victimized, afraid and withdraw as the first response without having a fuller picture of our capacity to respond and adapt. This poem gives us a map. The first few stanzas are:

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

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