suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

I’m not Catholic, but you’d think I was based on the way I jog.


I lace up my running shoes and open the front door, greeted by 39 degrees and spitting rain. It’s Saturday morning and I’m excited to hit the sidewalks after several weeks of snow and super cold temps. I took up jogging a few months ago — a real shock to the system as this meditation-loving lady is notoriously sedentary. I had come to realize that at age 41, the only way to keep my waistline from feeling like a jelly doughnut was through cardio. And guess what? I like it. Not because of the cramps or the sweat or the having to wash and blow dry my hair after — I like where I go, physically and mentally.

My destination is always the same: Mother Mary. There’s a statue of her tucked away in a small garden at St. Mary’s Catholic church, a mile from my house. Sometimes I take a creative route and sometimes I beeline for her. Today I choose a direct shot because of the rain.

Per usual, I find a kick in my pace as I near her. I leap over snowbank remains and charge past side streets. I can feel Mary’s energy. It’s like we both know a reunion’s coming and we’re giddy to experience each other.

I greet Mary with silence, then begin our private ritual, mother to mother. After a short time together, it’s time for me to get home, but I’m all jacked up on Love and decide to take the long, hilly way.

The hills are hard for me. My mind starts wandering, thinking about discomfort. I start silently chanting, Left. Left. Left-right-left, understanding for the first time that our military forces use a matra-based mindfulness technique to keep soldiers present, in the moment. I play with other chants, Fat. Fat. Fat-burn-fat, and then decide the military version is much more effective. The chant keeps me focused, but I’m jogging uphill at a good clip and I’m starting to lose confidence.

I consider ducking down a side street to avoid the climb. I know Prince Street is ahead — and it’s downhill. Whenever I pass Prince I think, Prince of Peace, so I decide I’ll take refuge on my boyfriend Jesus’s street in a few blocks.

I’m thinking about Jesus, the Prince of Peace. How good he’s been to me over the years, how supportive he’s been of my relationships with Buddha and Krishna and Ben & Jerry. As I arrive at Prince Street, a voice directs, Don’t use me as an exit strategy. Use me as your inspiration to keep going! (It’s so amazing, the things you can hear when you’re listening.) I find another kick in my pace and pass Prince. A block later, the road flattens out.

I pad past a few more side streets and reach the final turn toward home. Slowing down, tears suddenly roll down my cheeks. A big, bright love is swelling my my chest and I feel both Mary and Jesus with my full presence. Those words Exit Strategy are building in my mind. I’m sorting through messages about Salvation and Faith. The messages are beautiful, simultaneously simple and complicated. They’re about not hiding behind heaven, not waiting until then end to reunite with The One, but instead experiencing the Kingdom in ordinary moments, trusting that Salvation is not later, but NOW. I’m wiping tears away as a man walks past me with his dog. I smile and try to maintain focus on the loving, mighty voice in my head. Messages keep streaming — fast. Let me hold onto your words, so I can write them down, I beg in a whisper.

I start running again, then break into a sprint. I need to get home and write before the words dissipate, like wispy clouds on a sunny day. I burst through the front door, toe-heel my sneakers into the corner, abandon my hat and gloves on the kitchen floor, whip out my laptop, and write. But the messages are gone. They only existed for me on the wet road home, in that moment. In this moment, there is something else. There is gratitude.

From mine to yours,



i’m tired of hating trump. let’s try loving him instead.

#MettaBomb #MettaBombTrump #PrayForPence

In the months leading up to Super Tuesday – or for many, Not-so-super Tuesday – I began dedicating part of my Metta meditation practice to Donald J. Trump. If you’ve never heard of Metta, it’s a Buddhist prayer during which you fill yourself with love, then offer that same love to a benefactor, a stranger, a challenger, and finally to all sentient beings.

I bet you can guess who my challenging person was. To be honest, it wasn’t easy to wish Trump love, peace, and protection during the presidential race. His energy felt overwhelming and frantic to me. Insurmountable. So while I practiced Metta, I’d use my imagination to shrink him down into a newborn baby. As a baby, I could more easily relate to him. I’d observe his orange face soften, his puckered mouth relax, and I’d hold his vulnerable infant body in my arms, cooing to him, “May you be happy. May you know love. May you be protected. May you be peaceful and at ease.”

Since Super Tuesday, I have not taken very good care of my Metta baby. Not only have I neglected him, but I have actively wished him suffering, torment, and failure. I have wished him unwell because his core values do not align with mine and because I fear his potential.

This fear has made me a slave to unplanned interruptions. Instead of focusing on my personal priorities, I am occupied by incessant introductions of new concerns regarding a man who is already taking up way too much space in my head. In this real-time barrage of American panic, I am losing myself to fear.

But Metta isn’t about fear, it’s about love. And I have faith in love. Big time. So I sit in meditation today, and I drop the bomb on Trump – the Metta Bomb.

#MettaBomb is a Twitter hashtag created by one of my favorite meditation teachers, Sharon Salzberg. It’s a random act of digital gratitude rooted in lovingkindness – and the only kind of bomb that raises our consciousness.

When we feel authentic love – not superficial ego boosts that placate, but *fulfilling love* – we do no harm. We find space for higher thinking, for forgiveness, for compassion. Donald Trump is human, just like you and me, and he will respond to an outpouring of authentic love if we are brave enough to offer it to him.

Let’s walk our talk, friends. Let’s be the change. Let’s continue to stand for equality, to organize and empower, to speak for the voiceless. Let’s elevate our speech and minds by dropping the #MettaBomb on Trump. Let’s lead with love.

And while we’re at it, let’s #PrayForPence. He’s likely having a tough week after being called out by the cast of Hamilton. Personally, when I feel confronted or rejected, it’s really hard to do good work, and I bet Mike Pence is the same. So let’s pray he recovers quickly, so that he can heal and soften and let some love and light in. Let’s pray that his experience on Broadway helps him understand that he is no longer representing the majority of constituents in his state, but the majority in his country, and the majority is asking for peace and protection.

How can we ask it, if we’re not willing to give it? I’m ready to give it. Are you?

#MettaBomb #MettaBombTrump #PrayForPence

have compassion for the white guy: a woman’s thoughts on the 2016 election results

In the beginning, there was light. And not too soon after, came the white guy.

The white guy has been ruling the world ever since. The white guy always calls the shots. He’s the pack leader, the policy maker, the merchant trader, the lead teacher, the insider, the gatekeeper, the holy translator, the tax collector, the pulpit speaker, the declarative writer, the slave maker. People listen to the white guy and obey the white guy because he makes the rules… and enforces them by whatever means he deems necessary.

Times are changing, though, as times do, and the status of the white guy is changing with them. He is no longer the collective demagogue. His power recedes toward a more balanced place, as a diverse contingent of humans leans into American leadership — first inaugurating a brilliant man of color, and next a brilliant women of strength. The White Guy Only Club is quickly becoming irrelevant.

Can you imagine how scared and vulnerable the white guy must feel? If he doesn’t rule the world, what is his purpose? How does he define himself? Does he lose his place on the inside? What then? Who is he? Why is he?

He doesn’t know how it feels to be us. He doesn’t know the frustration or the fear, the dependence or the desperation, the lack or the limitation. The white guy only knows how to rule.

So what will the white guy do in response to his release from autonomy? Willingly share his white guy power by welcoming women and people of color into the fold with open arms? Abandon his role completely in frustration? Or take up arms and battle his way back to complete control?

Life happens in the transitions — those times when we humans show the best and the worst of ourselves. I pray that the upcoming transition is one of peace and fairness. I pray that the white guy thinks beyond his traditional status. I pray for love and forgiveness and perspective and radical acts of sanity (JKZ). I pray for my kids. I pray for your kids. I pray for women and men and light people and dark people. I pray that each of us who lives by faith acts in accordance with it. I pray for Americans to see one another as brothers and sisters. I pray for kindness, for surrender, for pause.

And I pray for the white guy. Because life happens in the transitions – and transitions can be really hard.

Headshot Vanessa 3

Vanessa Gobes is a meditation teacher and workshop facilitator, focusing her work in Greater Boston. She co-founded Chrysalis Meditation Center in 2015 in Winchester, Massachusetts, where she especially enjoys introducing mindfulness techniques to women and children. Vanessa continues to write about mindfulness, motherhood, and mayhem with humor and truth for a long list of online publications.


7 tips for election equanimity: surviving tonight’s political smackdown

By Dr. Christopher Willard & Vanessa Gobes

This year’s presidential election has devolved into something that feels disturbingly like a pro-wrestling match. In fact, Ellen DeGeneres ran a perfect spoof on EllenTube last week:


Clinton and Trump are locked together, trading insults and elbows, and the show they’re putting on – be it via debates, rallies, social media, or resurrected B-roll – is generating huge reactions from audiences. The more we watch, the more impact we feel in our own gut as our favored candidate absorbs another brutal punch. Each face-off, commercial, or round of polls may bring grief or elation, but always brings more anxiety.

Our physical, mental, and emotional reactions echo the low blows and shouts of righteous indignation we see onscreen: Sweaty palms, tight chests, and furrowed brows, gasps for air, primal screams into pillows, cries of disbelief and frantic internet searches for Canadian citizenship and more.

While we may feel powerless to affect the outcome of the election (beyond our vote), we can empower ourselves to affect our reaction to it, in turn helping those around us. Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” Mahatma Ghandi urged, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” These two men could hardly be more different, but consider the commonality – their belief that change starts here, with us. And while few of us will escape 2016’s presidential slugfest with total equanimity, here are seven mind-body trainings that offer us a fighting chance.

1. Don’t show up to every match you’re invited to


Don’t show up for events that proliferate anxiety. Instead, proliferate the positive. Take a break from the news and from your social media feed. Impossible? Limit your social media use to times when you feel emotionally composed. To further quell any political resentment, you may also choose to resign from live posting and real-time online debate.

Instead, consider appealing to the best in yourself and others. While this may sound easier said than done, consider the last question of Sunday night’s debate, “Can you name one positive thing you respect in one another?” Ask yourself this question, not just about the candidates, but also friends, family, and neighbors with whom you disagree. It’s a way to send them to a neutral corner in your mind.

2. Physical training

You are a mindful, compassionate, insightful human being, but during this election cycle, you may find yourself dizzy or even down for the count. In this case, physical awareness is your best defense. When you notice your physical reactions to political rumbles, purge that build up deliberately through exercise, emotional release (crying, laughing, screaming), or through your favorite mindful movement practice, like yoga or tai chi.

3. Take a dive and stay down for the count

The ten count is considered a victory in professional wrestling. But consider the ten count before getting back into the social media ring with that perfectly-composed, snarky Twitter retort. Count to ten, or even count ten breaths, ten sensations in your body, or ten sounds in the environment. Then, return focus to your post and read it aloud. Does it meet your own standards of mindfulness and compassion? Will those words bring out the best in everyone?

4. T.H.I.N.K. before you speak or post online

It’s an oldie but goodie. Ask yourself, is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary and is Now the time? And lastly, is it Kind? Imagine if the candidates followed these guidelines in their stump speeches

5. Use your hometown advantage

We mindful types know that half the challenge of mindfulness, is remembering to practice mindfulness. Try triggering your practice by employing your environment. Use simple decorating details to make your home a constant reminder to take a deep breath and clean up your thoughts. Before the next presidential bout begins, prop a bouquet of flowers next to your computer or television screen. Allow its beauty to remind you that nothing lasts forever, including your tight jaw, your clenched fists, and this disaster of a debate. No flowers in the house? Adhere a sticky note with the word BREATHE in capital letters next to your screen.

6. The Breathing Game

Rumor has it that college kids have made a drinking game of the debates, taking a drink each time one candidate interrupts the other. (This strikes us as an ambulance ride waiting to happen.) Why not take one full breath in and one full breath out each time one candidate interrupts the other, or interrupts the moderator? Think of how relaxed you’ll be by the end of the debate!

7. Work up to the heavy lifting

Going for the world heavyweight title in equanimity this election season?  You can cultivate compassion for yourself and for others.

A friend jokes that the barometer of his spiritual condition is his level of compassion for the opposing political party. It’s a useful yardstick, and you might ask yourself how you are doing with it today? If you’re anything like us, you might not be quite as compassionately-advanced as you’d like to see yourself.

So how do you build that compassion muscle? Begin by directing well-wishes toward yourself during a seated meditation. Wish for yourself what you most need to survive the next three weeks of political counterpunch. For example, May I be happy… May I live without fear… May I approach Facebook with equanimity… Choose unique phrases that resonate with you. Internalize these wishes, then send those same words outward toward a friend, perhaps toward a buddy of your political affiliation.

Next, send these wishes toward a neutral person, maybe one of those mysterious “undecided voters.” From there, move to a difficult person, perhaps a high school nemesis crossing your candidate online. From there, if you can stomach it, send these wishes toward that challenging candidate, and then ultimately, toward all of us suffering together through this political title match.

Be warned: you may get jammed up by your challenging candidate. While attempting to send well-wishes toward Donald or Hillary, your mind may try to eject from the meditation. Instead of forfeiting, get playful. Use your imagination to neutralize his or her outsized ego by turning that heavyweight into a featherweight. Still too big? Imagine the candidate a tiny, helpless baby. Swaddle him or her in a soft blanket and play peek-a-boo, May you be happy. May you live without fear.

When all contenders are happy and feel safe, be them candidates, friends, or pundits, we all go home champs.


Click here to watch the Ellen video:


Christopher Willard, PsyD, is a psychologist and educational consultant based in Boston, specializing in mindfulness with adolescents and young adults. Author of Child’s Mind, Growing Up Mindful, and three other books on mindfulness, compassion and mental health, Willard has been practicing meditation for more than 15 years and leads workshops internationally.

He currently teaches at Harvard Medical School and serves on the board of directors at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, and the Mindfulness in Education Network.

Headshot Vanessa 1.jpg

Vanessa Gobes is a meditation teacher and workshop facilitator, focusing her work in Greater Boston. She co-founded Chrysalis Meditation Center in 2015 in Winchester, Massachusetts, where she especially enjoys introducing mindfulness techniques to women and children. Vanessa continues to write about mindfulness, motherhood, and mayhem with humor and truth for a long list of online publications.


yes, thank you.


Today is the day, the day I say yes.

I say yes to dreams.

I say yes to inspiration.

I  say yes to joy,

yes to love,

yes to hard work,

yes to perfect health.

I say yes to risk

and yes to faith,

yes to full expression

and alignment

and pennies from heaven.

Today, I say Yes, I am that.

I say yes to God’s divine love and yes to my unmistakable connection to it.

Today, I say yes to it All.

Yes, yes, yes!

From  mine to yours,


cold is the new hot

cold-weather-ahead_road-sign_9051379When I’m cold, my body stiffens from tip to toe. My lower back muscles squeeze spontaneously and repetitively. My jaw tightens, teeth clench. When I’m cold, there’s an inexplicable sense of urgency, a need to get places quick, a compulsion to perform tasks in a staccato. These behaviors are usually accompanied by a longing to retreat under fuzzy blankets and shut my eyes, a deep yearning for tropical escape.

I’m cold today. I was cold yesterday, too. I haven’t been bone cold like this in months, and I’m taking a bit of mindful time today to acknowledge the ways autumn’s dropping temperatures inspire my physiology. My mind is racing, my nose is running, my lips are stumbling through words, not because I’m stressed or sick or impeded, but because I’m cold. (96.6 degrees to be exact, I took my temperature.) And I am compassionately observing it all.

I was in a meeting this morning, wearing a dress sans tights or hose. I sat with my bare legs wound into eagle pose – like two bent strands of licorice. My shoulders hunched and reached toward my ears simultaneously. My smile stretched a little too tight. Because I was cold.

The earth moves and we all must move with her. For us New Englanders, that means surrendering to the cold and the changes that it brings – inside and out.

There may come a point later in the season that my skin has thickened and my body stops shuddering; but more than likely, the cold will announce its presence to me in a way that requires me to surrender to it and just be…. cold.

From mine to yours,


another fab retreat: yoga, meditation, mediumship


Yoga, Meditation & Mediumship Retreat at The Stone Barn, October 21-23, 2016

I couldn’t be more excited about hosting a second retreat here at The Stone Barn in gorgeous Newbury, New Hampshire. Expect beautiful, restorative yoga with Harvard University’s resident mindfulness instructor Kate Harrington; deeeeelicious vegetarian food by gourmets Linda West RN MS of Sunapee View B&B and Denise Costello RN MS of The Energized Body and Chrysalis Meditation Center; insightful mindfulness instruction by yours truly; drumming by the ever-joyful Julie Corey of The Village Drum; and finally crystal bowl healings that’ll make you cry by musician Michelle Marie Sawtell of Sound Goddess Healing.

But that’s not all….

The reason I’m especially jacked up about this retreat is because 1) the last one was fab, and 2) this one features acclaimed spiritual medium Lauren Rainbow. You may recognize her from her spots on Hay House Radio or her work with John Holland. And if her name is new to you, it’s your lucky day! Learn about Lauren at her website or just come book your weekend getaway at The Stone Barn. Seven bunkbeds and three private rooms left. Visit and book your room TODAY! Do it before September 12 and save $100! Woah!



sound healing seriously works


This is Brian working on my earth angel BFF.

Every Tuesday evening after I teach my meditation class, I stick around the studio for an hour to receive sound healing from Brian Russo. I’ve been doing this for a few months now. Every week. And let me tell you.

This shit works.

Get ready for a little TMI. Last month was very stressful for me and I ended up with a hemorrhoid. Incredibly attractive, I know. I did not tell Brian before the healing because that would have been embarrassing. (And blogging about it isn’t??) During the healing, he came over to me and put a big bowl on my belly and did something that sounded a lot like an elegant, beautiful, birdsong exorcism. During this enchanting ritual, I felt that sore on my tush move to the left side of my butt and work its way straight out through my hip. I went home to check it out and it was GONE. Yes. GONE.

Okay, so that’s a one-off, right? A mere coincidence.

The very next Tuesday, I dehydrated myself by accident. Hot days, lazy with water, we’ve all been there. To add to it, I wore a high ponytail all day and my head was POUNDING. Nausea, fatigue, the works. I drank and drank and popped Advil (something I rarely do) and went to work to try to meditate my headache away with no luck. Brian came in with his bowls. I told him my head was screaming at me and he put the bowl on my head and sang his beautiful song and gonged away. Guess what? Headache GONE. Gone again.

A two-off. That’s all. This couldn’t be really working. It’s just sound, right?

I went away for a couple of weeks. Spent some time getting trained in Chakra Psychology at Kripalu, stayed a week in Maine with family. By the time I came back to town, I had a white deposit on my left tonsil that looked a whole lot like tonsillitis. Now, this is really disgusting and I am sharing way too much about my body, but I feel like I need to explain this completely so you understand the strange and wonderful power of sound.


The reason I knew it wasn’t tonsillitis is that I have had an open pore on that left tonsil for years and it frequently gets filled up with grossness and turns white. This has been happening for a very, very long time. So I went to work on Tuesday night with this white thing on my throat. It hurt. I told Brian and he said, “Okay, we’ll work on that.”

He did work on it. A mini birdsong exorcism – like the last time but quieter and shorter. While this was happening, a woodpecker came to me and pecked that white nugget right out of my tonsil and swallowed it. This actually happened in my mind but it felt super real. And weird.

The next day, that white nugget on my tonsil turned into a glob. WTF?? It was supposed to go away! My biz partner Denise suggested that the sound healing may have been drawing everything up to the surface so that it could heal permanently. I liked that theory so I decided not to panic. That night, Wednesday night, the white thing was GONE. Gone again. Gone AGAIN. No soar throat. Nothing. Third time in three weeks.

So you may be wondering about the woodpecker. When I was in Maine on vacation, a gorgeous bluish-grey woodpecker flew into the glass windows at our rental. It made such a loud noise. We all went out to look as the stunned woodpecker writhed on the ground. I fired up my hands and gave it Reiki, praying for it to keep breathing: “I invoke the divine light of the creative source within. I am a clear and perfect channel. I am light. I am love. Please live. Live. Live. Fly. Live. Breathe.” I chanted those words over and over to this beautiful creature and finally watched as it passed away. I smoothed its wings and admired its perfect, soft feathers, then carried it to the woods where I laid it on a bed of leaves. It was very emotional for me. I couldn’t shake that bird. Kept thinking about his beautiful shape and feathers and softness. I think that night in my office with Brian and his bowls, the woodpecker’s spirit came to me to thank me for loving it while it was dying. Maybe it was attracted to Brian’s beautiful birdsong.

And maybe I’ll see you tonight at 7:30.

From mine to yours,


Vanessa Gobes is a mom, writer, and meditation teacher. She co-founded Chrysalis Meditation Center located at 28 Church Street in Winchester, Massachusetts. 

Hand off the kids, take a break

We hope to see you here in gorgeous New England! Visit for more details.


Vanessa ❤

Yoga & Meditation Retreat / New England


Hi New England yogis and meditators!

Chrysalis Meditation Center is hosting a weekend long retreat in the Sunapee Lake Region of New Hampshire and I would love to see you there! You can come for a weekend of yoga, meditation, energy healing, and nature loving… or just come for a day. Retreat takes place at Well Sweep Farm’s stone barn. It’s beautiful! Check out the schedule online at Here is the overview:

Kate Harrington and Lara Wilson, both of Harvard University, are teaming up with the co-founders and teachers of Chrysalis to deliver compassionate guidance in both yoga and meditation.

If you’ve ever taken one of Kate’s classes at Prana Power Yoga, you’ll know what a treat her Metta-infused sessions are. Kate indulges retreat goers daily in gentle yoga and Metta practice.

Lara’s three decade journey into meditation and masterful use of words (written and oral) will surely inspire and empower. She explores eastern healing practices and the practice of stream-of-consciousness writing.

Co-founder Denise Costello, corporate wellness expert and food goddess, is directing the entire weekend and taking some time out from her organizational duties to provide yogis with nutritious snacks and figure-changing food tips. Her partner Vanessa Gobes sits with the group, taking on mindful meditation and mindful communication.

Chrysalis welcomes special guests to the retreat experience: Healer Julie Corey leads a drum circle on opening night, Naturalist Dave Anderson leads us on a full moonlight hike through The Fells, and Sound Healer Brian Russo delivers Tibetan bowl healing.

Expect to fill up on delicious vegetarian food provided by the gourmet team at Sunapee View B&B – farm fresh and locally sourced. Yum!

Cost for the weekend includes all meals and snacks and special guest programming – spa treatments offered by Sunapee Lake Massage and ropes course at Mount Sunapee are both optional and at an additional fee.

Commuter Guests $545

One Day Pass $250

Tibetan Bowls (Only) $30

Overnight Guests $665 – $920 (see price menu at

Call the center with questions – 781.729.2000 and book today if you can. There are only 3 rooms left “on campus” but there is plenty of availability at area inns and B&Bs.