Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Zumba Meditation

I've been taking Zumba classes at Studio X in Gaithersburg. This isn't for wimps, either. I sweat myself stinky and shake my tush until I'm ready to drop. The classes are drop-in, and only $5. Honestly, I only started doing it because I recognized a need for improving my fitness level. Which happened because I was trying on a potential new pair of jeans in Target and caught a glimpse of my butt in the dressing room mirror. Only it wasn't my butt. It was my mom's. How it got onto my body, I'll never understand. But, at that minute, I knew I'd have to find a way to recover my own rear end. And thus, I put myself in Zumba class. 

At first, I felt pretty awkward. Seeing myself in the mirror confirmed that, yes, I am awkward. Thanks a lot, mirrored walls. The gorgeous, muscular, joyfully smiling teacher led fast-paced sexy movements that I tried to follow, while trying not to trip over myself or get in the way of the people around me who seem to know every step.

I determined to get it, and got focused. It's really fun, actually, and I love dancing, so I felt good moving and shaking it out. During the first few weeks, after a bunch of songs, I was breathing hard and sweating. I figured it must be nearly over by now. Then I looked at the clock. It had been 15 minutes. 45 to go. Dear God.

As the weeks went by, I've started to learn basic moves, and get sort of familiar with some of the songs. I don't look at the clock as soon now. Usually it's about 40 minutes into the hour before my eyes wander there. And I look somewhat less awkward in the mirror, when I catch a glimpse. My body likes it too, and I'm starting to feel more toned, which is a good thing. Maybe my own butt will return soon too. I think there's hope. I've sent out the invitation for it to come back.

And I've realized something more important. Zumba is like meditation. I'm talking successful meditation, too. The kind that quiets the mental chatter. Here's why: When I'm there in class, I have to follow the teacher's moves. The moves change rapidly, the patterns are short and varied, and involve my whole body. There's no possibility of letting my mind wander, because I'll miss something and end up going the wrong direction, bumping into someone, or falling on my face. I can't be thinking about what's happening after class, or who I need to email, what I'm making for dinner, or my kids arguing this morning. My brain simply can't hold those thoughts and move my body in coordination with the teacher's pace at the same time. So I become present, focused, and totally in the moment.

These are the qualities I teach my Reiki students to emulate during a Reiki session. Be present, only observing what's happening now. Be focused on that observation of sensation and energy flow, which also keeps the left brain chatter at bay. Be totally in the moment, because that helps strengthen the intuition. 

They are also the goals of a good meditation. Just being present - not distracted by a dozen thoughts, feelings, and unnecessary worries. Being focused on that mindful presence - allowing the left brain to be quiet. Being in the moment only - that's a serious goal for mindful living. Because, really, all we need to do is deal with what's happening now. Any chance to remember that, to bring our monkey mind back to the here and now, and just BE here, is a good thing. 

While I'm not very good at basic silent meditation, I find I'm doing better at the guided kind, which I've been trying to listen to daily. But I have to change it up, because predictability tends to cause my mind to wander, and before I know it, I'm thinking of all the stupid little things that make my meditation time a big #FAIL. I find it remarkable and sort of amusing that I'm best at creating that mindful, meditative, in the moment presence when I'm giving Reiki, or doing Zumba. 

So that's an interesting lesson. I guess Zumba is a moving meditation for me. 

I welcome your comments, as always.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A New Way to Share Love on Valentine's Day

Yesterday, I was perusing Facebook, and looking at all of the Valentine's Day posts that were flowing through my news feed. Then I saw a post by an acquaintance that said "So far the worst Valentine's Day yet. Yaaaay." It sounded like he needed to know that someone cared, so I left a little response, saying, "Aww. Hugs. Because you are a very cool and important person. And I see that." And his response was, "Well thank you. I guess maybe not worst. One compliment can change a lot. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone."

It got me thinking. Valentine's Day is nice for those who have a special someone. Even friends who will be your Valentine and keep you feeling included. But, if you're not feelin' it, Valentine's Day can rub in your face what you're missing.

My kids didn't have school yesterday due to a snow day. However, the weather had turned sunny and warm, and they wanted me to take them to Starbucks for a treat. I started wondering how I could brighten the day of those who feel lonely on Valentine's Day. And I kept thinking about hugs.

Human touch. So many people are talking these days about how it's important, yet has become a neglected thing in our busy western culture. And I tell my kids that hugs are magic. Because they are.

I'd seen videos on YouTube about "Free Hugs" - essentially, a guy is holding a sign that says "Free Hugs" and walking around a city. People come up and hug him, and smile. You know what I next thought, right?

Yeah, I thought it. And then I couldn't stop thinking it. I wanted to hold a Free Hugs sign. And stand outside Starbucks in the sunshine, hugging people. I realized I'd have to ask my kids what they thought of it. Because, first of all I don't want them to think their mother is a weirdo and be embarrassed. They need to buy in. Then I thought about them holding the sign, and I wasn't so comfy with that. Random adults hugging my kids...feels a little wrong. Kids hugging my kids...ok. Old people hugging my kids...ok. (Why the double standard? I guess because it just seems that old people need lots of love and the grandparent thing seems different. Social mores are weird. I know.) Me hugging anyone...ok. As long as no one is copping a feel. Then it's not ok. This series of thoughts gave me some serious pause. What could my kids do that would make me feel ok? Hand out little hand-decorated hearts. Yeah. That felt ok.

It was time to ask them. I called them all to the dining room table for a meeting. I was actually nervous and couldn't say it for a few minutes, which made them impatient. Then I took a deep breath and told them about my idea, and showed them the "Free Hugs" video on YouTube. At first, they said it was weird. "Can't we just go to Starbucks and have our drink, and that's it, Mom?" But then Eli said he thought it might be nice. And Sari agreed. I asked Arin if she would decorate some hearts. She said she would. And Rayna asked if she could film it. So she was in. We made a poster. Now it's really happening! What will people think, how will they respond if we do this? I guess we'll find out, won't we? said my inner master of worry. Yep.

We got our materials together and we went. First, I bought the kids the drinks and food they wanted. It was gorgeous outside so we got settled at a table out in front of the Starbucks. I didn't get myself anything to eat or drink, just watched them enjoy their snack. Then I started holding up the sign.

Some employee of Starbucks came outside and asked to see the sign. I guess they were afraid it said "Don't go to this Starbucks! They made my drink wrong!" or something like that. She was very relieved when she saw it said "Free Hugs."

Then some people looked, smiled and kept walking.

But then someone came over and hugged me. Arin gave her a heart. She said thank you. Then others did. And pretty soon, we all felt really happy and awesome. Eli wanted to hold the sign. When we saw four little girls about his age (10 or so), he held it. They consulted each other and giggled. I think one of them wanted to hug him. He turned really red. Then Sari said, "That's my Brother!" in this sort of threatening way, and they opted to hug me instead on their way into Starbucks. Eli was disappointed about that for about the next six hours.

One person bought me a cappuccino and brought it out to me. Another bought me a gift card and brought it out to me. One woman with a camera took my picture with the sign. Two women who hugged me said we should come to their restaurant that night, since they had newly opened. I said that sounds nice.

When we got home, Eli edited the video footage we had and made it into this really great montage memento of our day. The kids all said how great it was and asked when we could do it again. I'm glad my kids are open minded. We all were feeling the love.

That night, we went to dinner and tried to get into that restaurant the ladies had mentioned. It was packed. They had open tables but were not seating, in order to try to let the overwhelmed kitchen get caught up with orders. I guess this is typical for a new restaurant learning the ropes on the fly. So they wouldn't seat us. As we walked out, we saw the women I had hugged. Turns out they were co-owners of the place and they greeted me. I told them what happened, they immediately insisted on finding us a table. We had a nice dinner (though yeah, a long wait for the food). See what hugging can get you? My kids did. And I guess that's a nice lesson on Karma.

Please enjoy and share the video. Maybe we can inspire a little more love in the world.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Business Side of the WooWoo Life

I've decided that this is the year that I prioritize growth. This means, growth for my business, and for my own intuitive self (because, after all, this is my career and so it's like anyone who has to keep up with the latest in their own field - training to get better at what I do is part of the job. The nice thing is that this is the sort of training that benefits my whole being, not just the biz.) And, Universe, just to be clear, my goals for growth do not include my physical body girth nor weight. Thank you.

I think that a lot of people who work in holistic or intuitive work face the same thing. We have gifts to share. We have a passion for sharing them. We love what we do. And we have no business training. 

I've flown my business by the seat of my pants, powered by a very active creative drive, fueled by a passion and deep-seated belief that this is what I'm here to do. And, this process - learning on the fly (are you catching my airplane analogy here?) has been a little unsteady, but gotten me up in the air. Trouble is, it's created a turbulent flight. I get a great idea, and I almost immediately go for it. Then I see where it takes me. Sometimes, it falls flat. Not what I expected. Other times, it becomes a roller coaster - it works sporadically, with groups here and there enjoying the new idea, and quiet lulls in between that seem too quiet. I've realized that my income stream is making me a little motion sick. I started craving a smoother flight.

Actually, as I sit here thinking about it, I sometimes feel like running my business feels I'm Phoebe from the show Friends doing this:

While running in my own way and just going in any crazy direction I'm pulled feels fun and freeing, it also has been not so fun in ways - like when I need money and have no idea what is the best thing to do next.

So, I've been working with an awesome intuitive business coach.  She calls herself a marketing strategist, writer, speaker, thought leader and divinely-connected creative professional, and basically she has been helping me understand smart marketing strategies, align my goals, and create a real set of strategies and steps to meet them. Her name is Beth Grant. I highly recommend her services. I've also been working with Leonie Dawson's Create Your Amazing Year business planner calendar. Together with Beth's training, it's helped me to see running a business in a new way. 

Now I'm learning about things like pipeline strategies, effective marketing, personal marketing archtypes (I'm a Truth Guide), long range planning and short range steps to getting there. Wow. Who knew? I can still be creative, but I'm learning to select my ideas in ways that I can see they clearly fit into these steps, and shelve the others for later. I sometimes still want to do it all and do it now, but these lessons are teaching me some structure to fit my wild creativity into. 

I'm also proud to say that I've meditated three days in a row. Don't laugh. That's pretty significant for me. I'm actually enjoying this particular meditation - it's a guided 6-step meditation that helps with manifesting goals and it seems to fit in nicely from an energetic perspective with all of my "real-world" business building and personal growth goals that I'm working on. It takes 20 minutes. It's called Envisioning Meditation. It was free for me, so I'm going to share it here. I've also been accepted (after an application and interview) as one of the dozen to attend the Consciousness Research & Training Seminar for five days in April, where I'll learn a psychic healing technique developed by Dr. Lawrence LeShan. He's the author of one of my most favorite books, The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist, as well as 21 other books, including How to Meditate.

Through setting all of my goals and working on them, I'm learning that strategy and structure is important, even for us intuitive, passionate lightworkers who just want to offer our gifts to as many people who need them as we can. And I'm also learning that the inner work of energetically aligning with the visions and goals is part of the process of making them happen.

Here's to a BIG 2014!