We hope to see you here in gorgeous New England! Visit http://www.insidethechrysalis.com for more details.
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 www.insidethechrysalis.com. 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 www.insidethechrysalis.com)
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.
This summer the ever-expanding internet has been saturated with self-help titles. This year’s ubiquitous How-to columns are last year’s Call Me Maybe. 5 Ways to Know You Have a Sunburn, How to Match Your Socks to Your Underpants, The Best Way to Break Your Andy Cohen Habit. I admit, I’ve cast out a few How-tos of my own. So move over Carly Rae, here’s one more.
Okay, okay, so this isn’t the most serious article you’ll ever read, but I’ll bet my kids’ weekly allowance that mastery of this survival skill will save your butt the next time you’re hand to bellybutton with a ferocious tickler.
You’ve got to admit, being tickled is torturous. It’s juvenile, it’s flirtatious, it’s downright… painful? Uncomfortable? Breathtaking? Invasive? Creepy? I don’t know how to describe the feeling of being tickled, actually. But it ranks very high on my least favorite interactions specifically involving my neck, armpits, ribs, thighs, and feet.
Tonight I had an encounter of the tickling kind. My four-year-old was in big trouble. He kept pulling the puppy’s tail and laughing whenever I disciplined him. So I carried him upstairs and pinned him on his bed to keep him from wriggling away while I lectured him. I imagine that his four-year-old mind processed my words like this: “Wah wah wah-wah waaaahhh.” (I am officially a Peanuts cartoon character.)
He laughed hysterically while I spoke. At first I was offended but he kept laughing wildly. He broke me. I started laughing, too. Then I started tickling him and he responded with relentless retaliation. Before I could run for cover he was jamming his little fingers into my armpits and I was curling into fetal position to protect my ticklish parts.
I’m four times the size of him so it was easy for me to squeeze my arms into my ribcage and protect my goods. But I noticed something while he was relentlessly searching for a way under my arms. More so than the tickling itself, the anticipation of the tickling made me crazy. Cracking up, tears rolling, chin pulled into my neck, hooting with laughter. Isn’t this the way? The anticipation of the event produces more emotion than the event itself. (Note to self: Please remember this next time you begin obsessing over your impending mammogram.)
“Why are you so ticklish there?” my son probed.
“I don’t,” snort, “know,” chortle, “Can you stop,” giggle, “pllleeease?”
He wouldn’t stop and I was frozen with red-faced breathlessness so I decided to put my meditation practice to work. I began to draw that discomfort away from my underarms and neutralize it. While he squeezed and poked, I separated my thoughts from my body and somehow extracted the discomfort from my field of feelings. The fingers were no longer tickling, just poking. I don’t know how I did it really, but it worked. And when he realized that his little paws no longer had a dazzlingly humorous effect on me, he stopped.
My torturer was outdone by my amazing power of equanimity. Take that How-to little man. Until next time…
As the title of this post may imply, I’ve got Robin Thicke’s summer sizzler “Blurred Lines” on my mind today. On a website that typically features parenting tips and meditation techniques, this might leave you questioning my relativity here. But ride out this thought with me for a minute.
Typically, the only blurred line I’m contemplating is the one surrounding the smell in my car. Is that sour yogurt? Or urine? Hmmmm… (Hey, I’m a mother of several and frequent carpooler, what can I say?) But I woke up early this morning humming Thicke’s hit song. So I came downstairs before the wolf cubs awoke and pulled his video up on YouTube. Now this is an altogether different kind of blurred line. I have three letters for you: H-O-T.
The first time I watched the video, Robin, T.I. and Pharrell were “hey-hey-heying” to gorgeous models wearing nude illusion undies and clear plastic smocks. A little kooky but the quirk was surprisingly sexy.
After watching, I wanted to hear the song again so I pressed play for a second time and found myself watching the unrated version. WHAAAATTTT???? All the women are naked! At first I thought they were still in their nude lingerie. Nope. They were rocking out wearing only skin tone thongs and tennis sneakers. Oh, and a goat. (Huh?)
I admit I kind of liked it. But it disturbed me at the same time. I’m a modern woman after all, a mother of girls, a spiritual blogger. And I’m not ignorant of the dent a production like this could make in our gender’s progress **if we so allow it, which I’m not inclined to do**. But I’d be lying if I said I hated it.
Mod Carousel, a Seattle-based boylesque troupe, created a feminist parody featuring men in flesh-tone skivvies and honestly, I felt the opposite of turned on. I’ll go so far as to say I felt “the yuck”. They were being funny, of course, but somehow a woman flaunting her sex strikes me as intriguing while a man flaunting his sex strikes me as Cro Magnon. It’s hypocritical, I know, but hypocrisy plays a starring role in life, doesn’t it?
Oh, there are all sorts of serious opinions on this song. But I’m not sure Thicke takes himself so seriously. Based on his hilarious video remake with Jimmy Kimmeland his past seemingly-orchestrated, sort-of-embarrassing, made-me-cringe-while-I-watched-it interview with Chelsea Handler, I’m thinking he’s a bit of a goof, challenging the world to get real about their own feelings about sex.
I get the blurred lines. Not only between naughty and nice but also between naughty and nature. We women don’t want to be objectified. But secretly, we kind of do. We don’t want our daughters to base their collective self image on physical beauty, but good looks undoubtedly has an important place in our human experience. Those who don’t have it yearn for it and those who do have it work it to their advantage.
And then there’s just the sex of it all. Sex is in our nature. It’s part of our existence. But so many people, especially here in America, are ashamed to talk about it. It’s here that we toe that blurred line of sex and image and what is really offensive and what is just real. I don’t know the answer myself, but I imagine it’s part of life’s mystery that will forever be debated.
All things considered, as much as I love the song, the video makes me feel uncomfortable to watch. Is that because I’m a Puritanical New Englander and I’ve been nurtured to cover up my nature? Or is it because these men should be laying on a couch with David Duchovny trying to balance a sex addiction? I’m not sure if it matters, because whatever the reason, I love being a woman and I’m happy with myself the way I am – in a turtleneck and pants.
Oh, there are so many directions we could take this. What are you thoughts? Naughty? Or natural? Chime in below.
There’s a picture of my sister in our family album that has inspired a family idiom: the purple kitty face. In the photo, my sis is standing in our driveway on a summer day wearing light blue undies and holding a tiny black kitten, scooped from a litter of mates produced by our ginger cat Selena. In her sweet and quirky four-year-old way, she had convinced herself (and probably me) that the kitty was not black, but purple.
If you look closely at my sister’s expression, you’ll notice that her lips are pursed tightly in a sort of painfully loving grimace. Her teeth are clenched, as are her two little hands that are quickly crushing purple kitty’s spindly rib cage.
If a thought bubble could appear magically above my sister’s head it would say, “You’re so cuuuuuuttteee! I love you to deeeeeaaaaath!” Fortunately, no animals were injured in the filming of that scene. At least not that we knew of anyway. I imagine that Mom swooped toward her daughter after snapping the pic, rescued the kitten from imminent death and returned her to the cardboard box from whence she came.
There’s a psycho-medical term for this exact situation I’m sure, but nothing quite pins the tail on the donkey like purple kitty. (Though that Looney Tunes scene with Daffy Duck and the abominable snow man comes close, “I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.”)
Th purple kitty is sort of like that feeling of being insanely cold. When you’re so cold that shaking is involuntary. Only when you notice that your teeth are chattering so much your jaw hurts and your thighs are sore from tightening them against the weather do you become aware of the tension and mindfully release it… only to squeeze up again with the next frigid gust. (I’m a lifelong New Englander, I know about these things.)
My children make the purple kitty face all the time. We just got a puppy and she is often the recipient of squeezey loving. But I know it’s not just a behavior reserved for my family. All kids do this. I remember one day my old boss came into work and told us that her beloved family pet, a hamster, was laid to rest in a shoe box that morning – a victim of her daughter’s loving embrace. It happens. And not just with animals.
I remember doing this with my neighbor as a kid. He was such an adorable baby. I remember hugging him a little too tight, sucking my breath in through clenched teeth, body shaking from the effort of physical love, releasing only when the little toe headed cutiepie squeaked rather than exhaled. Honestly, sometimes I notice myself doing it still. What can I say? Babies are cute.
As a parent of small children, I’ve noticed that my purple kitty face, once associated with over-loving, has become one of Holy-Shit-I-Can’t-Take-It-Anymore-You-Are-Driving-Me-Crazy-And-I-Need-You-To-Stop-Screaming-At-Each-Other-Before-My-Eyeballs-Eject-From-My-Skull. I think the more common term for this is frustration, but frustration is not a rich enough word for the exasperation, disheartened-ness, desperateness and anger that I can feel when my kids are totally obnoxious.
So I admit it. I’ve been known to occasionally squeeze my kids. And not because they’re cute. Thanks to a committed mindfulness practice, I can typically defend them from my clenching grip, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve never sent my kids off to school praying that their teachers wouldn’t roll up their sleeves and find red stripes around their biceps from where I grabbed and squeezed, imagining that my vice grip would somehow convince them to stop screaming, listen to my words or clean up their blasted Pokemon cards.
It’s summer vacation now, and all this quality time with our unscheduled babies, as delightful as it is, provides us with endless opportunities to feel emotionally overwhelmed by their antics. So there are a couple of things I’ve done that have helped me to stop the squeezing and relax my purple kitty face, and I wanted to share them with my sea of online readers, well, let’s face it, it’s more like a small pond of readers but I love you and appreciate you as if you were the vast Atlantic Ocean.
I have three small children ages 4 through 8 and I mother each of them differently, but these five things work consistently for me with all three.
From mine to yours,
Originally published by Vanessa Gobes for Intentblog.com.
This is a script that I loosely followed while teaching the children in my town’s public elementary school to meditate. I thought it might be helpful for other parents who’d like to do it with their own children, with scouting troops, with church youth groups, with summer campers, with classrooms. My best advice in doing this is to be animated. Don’t be afraid to ad-lib or get silly. The kids will respond beautifully.
For children grades 2-5
Hi, my name is ________________. I’m here to teach you a way to be happy. Not haha happy. Not that-was-a-funny-movie happy. Or I-love-ice-cream happy. Not even I-just-got-a-new-puppy happy. I mean heart happy. We’re going to use a tool to help us learn how to do that. Can anyone imagine what our special happiness tool could be?
The thing I’m thinking of is very close by. It’s free, it’s super easy to find and it does not require assembly or a special carrying case. It’s as close as your breath…. In fact, it IS your breath.
Just by breathing we can help ourselves find happiness. And we can use special breathing tricks to help us. But to be good at anything, what do we need to do? Practice! Right. Just like soccer or piano or drawing. If you want to be good at something, you need to practice.
But before we start practicing our breath work, I want you to help me with a check list. You don’t need to raise your hand, just check a little box in your head if you’ve ever experienced the following things:
I’ve felt all of those things. And I bet you have, too. And if you haven’t yet, you will. No one is exempt from this. We all feel bad sometimes. We all mess things up. We all feel insecure. You, me, the most popular kid in school, the bully down the hall, the star on the basketball court. Everyone. And it’s okay to feel these things. These feelings are important parts of being a person. The bad stuff lets us know when something’s wrong so we can work to ease those feelings when they’re no longer useful. Once we acknowledge the bad stuff and send it packing, we can create more open space for the good stuff that reminds us how wonderful it feels to be alive. Each and every one of us deserves to know happiness and success, acceptance and love. And we can achieve these beneficial feelings when we activate our superpowers. We are all born with super strength. No one is exempt from that either. We’ll talk more on how to use your superpowers later but I don’t want you to forget you have them, so let’s pull on our super suits, tie on our super capes and adjust our flashy masks. Check to make sure our tool belts are on tight.
Okay, good. So when we can find a comfortable balance amongst all these feelings, we can feel peaceful. Composed.
What does composure mean? Let me try to help you understand. Listen to this.
(Play a bit of Mozart.)
Can you hear how everything is in harmony? All of the pieces of the orchestra are very different. Some are deep, some are light, some sound a little sad, some sound cheerful or even silly. But when they work together they create something balanced, productive and beautiful – something composed. In order to maintain this composure, the musicians need to practice. They need to dedicate time. They need to focus.
We are like that. In our lives, we juggle lots of different feelings. They’re all important. But when we can make all those diverse feelings work together and still feel balanced, we can maintain composure. When we can engage that composure throughout the day, our frequency begins to rise.
Frequency is a big word. It’s like the radio station our lives are tuned into. You can tune into frustration and negativity or you can tune into love and empowerment. Which one would you like to tune into?
Yes, me, too. So think of frequency like energy – and get those super suits ready. When it’s on the rise, we’re getting happier and happier. We can use our super powers to feel good and think clearly. And when our frequency rises, the people around us can feel it and believe it or not, our awesomely fast frequency helps others. Just by being fast. Superhero fast.
Understanding that we are all very much the same may help in relieving some of the confusion we feel when we’re angry or sad or anxious. And we can team up that understanding with meditation to cool our own jets and ease the stressful feelings we’re carrying around.
Who has heard the word meditation before?
Meditation is a quiet time to connect with our breath, to be still, to remember that right here, right now, we are alive and safe and okay. When we meditate, we remember to treat our bodies well, to use kind words with others and think before we speak, to think clear, useful thoughts. When our thoughts are good, our lives will be good.
For some people, this comes naturally. But most of us need to practice to achieve that state of peace and harmony, which we can find by taking a moment to TUNE IN.
Times to use meditation:
There are many ways to meditate. But we always begin by breathing. So let’s sit straight in our seats, feet on the floor, spine long, chin tucked in, head reaching to the ceiling. Place your hands in your lap, palms up and close your eyes completely. Now think of yourself as breathing “on purpose”. Start with a deep inhale, filling your lungs as much as you can and releasing the breath, completely emptying your lungs. Try it two more times with me. Now breathe in and out through your nose naturally and notice the way your body feels from the inside. The chair supporting your weight, your hands relaxed on your legs, the air touching your skin, your soft belly rising and falling with every breath. If your thoughts get lost and you forget that you’re breathing, just gently bring yourself back to this place. Let’s breathe for one more minute and when the time is up, I’ll invite the bell as a signal to end this meditation.
(Wait one minute. Invite bell.)
A great tool to help us is this bell. You can think of the bell as a peaceful voice, inviting you to take a breath. You can accept this invitation each time you hear any bell. Keep your ears open for school bells, church bells, door bells – and use their sound as an opportunity to stop what you’re doing and breathe. Tell the people around you what you’re doing and invite them to stop and breathe, too. Use it as a reminder to think about your breath and about being connected to the earth and about being a perfectly imperfect human being. Listen to the way the bell resonates and stay still and quiet until you can no longer hear its sound.
The Pebble Meditation is visual type of meditation that we can use to relax. I learned it from a book called Planting Seeds, written by a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. He worked with Martin Luther King Jr. to bring peace to America and to his own country Vietnam during a tough time in our countries’ histories. And he’s continued to help us find peace since. He especially loves to help children like you. So here we go. Each of you can close your eyes. Imagine that there’s a black movie screen behind your forehead and you are a film director. You choose all of the pictures in the movie. Let me guide you the first time.
Imagine a flower. Any color. See its petals, its center, its softness, its beauty.
Imagine a mountain. The weather around it is stormy, but deep inside the center of the mountian, it’s solid and still and quiet.
Imagine a clear, still, placid lake. See the way the water reflects the sky above and the trees around like a mirror.
Imagine the sky. See the clouds and the sun. See a bird wheeling through the air, turning and twisting, happy and free.
Now, I’m going to share Thich Nhat Hanh’s Pebble Meditation. As I share this meditation, I want you to imagine yourself as really being the things I say.
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh.
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.
Breathing out, I feel solid.
Breathing in, I see myself as still water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.
Breathing in, I see myself as space.
Breathing out, I feel free.
Flower, in, Fresh, out (3X)
Mountain, in, Solid, out (3X)
Still water, in, Reflecting, out (3X)
Space, in, Free, out (3X)
How do you feel? Do you have any questions? There are lots of ways to meditate and you can learn more about a mindfulness practice at the library or online.
In order to enjoy the benefits of meditation, we need to practice. Try to find a few minutes every day to sit and be quiet. Maybe for a minute or two after your alarm clock rings. Maybe when you get home from school. Maybe in bed at night when your mind is racing or before you start your homework. As you work on your practice, you will find that you’ll notice your breathing all day long. And that’s when you’ll know you’re getting really good at it.
Grades K-1 (Have kids sit on a line in a circle.)
Hi I’m ________________. I’m here to teach you a way to get happy. Not haha happy. I mean heart happy. But to be really good at something, what do we have to do? Practice! We’re going to practice something called meditation today. Does anyone know what this is?
(While you say the following sentence, use your fists to demonstrate the way these feelings look – ball up your hands and squeeze then hold them to your mouth as if you’re terrified, punch the air like you’re fighting, pump them in the air as if you’re excited, squeeze the seat bottom and bounce like you can’t sit still, pretend to hug something as if you can’t squeeze it tight enough. Give yourself over to the acting – the kids won’t judge and it’ll help them understand.)
Have you ever felt squeezey? We ball up our fists so tight like this. We feel Scared. Angry. Excited. Overwhelmed by love. (This puppy is so cuuuuutte!) Fidgety. Meditation helps us to control our minds so that when these challenging feelings pop up, we can let them go and make our hearts happy and peaceful. We can relax our bodies and our squeezey hands. It starts with breathing deeply. When I ring this bell, I’d like everyone to take three beautiful breaths. Then we’ll stand up and start moving our bodies mindfully. Stand in a circle and be sure not to touch anyone else’s body.
Invite the bell. Walking meditation…
Imagine walking through very deep snow, leaving deep footprints.
Imagine walking on thin ice, careful not to break it.
Walk like a business person.
like a big hairy beast.
like a robot.
like a burglar.
like a soldier.
like you are wearing a big crown.
like you are sad.
like you are happy.
like you are scared.
on a tight rope.
like a cat.
on hot coals.
like a toddler baby.
skipping across stones.
Now walk really slow. Notice how the heel of your foot touches the floor. Lift and move your other foot slowly. Can you feel how your body keeps its balance? Let your body relax in each step and put all of your weight on the floor. Breathe deeply. Now breathe in whenever you lift your foot and breathe out whenever you place it down. Walk this way for one minute.
When I invite the bell, I want you to stop walking and sit down where you are. Then close your eyes. Walking is a fun way to calm down, but we can also calm down by breathing deeply. And no one even has to know we’re doing it. Let’s try that now. We’re going to do some square breathing. As you breathe in count to 4. When you reach the top of the breath hold it there and count to 4. Then release the breath to the count of 4. Then wait at the bottom of the breath for the count of 4. I’ll snap my fingers 4 times while we breathe and help you keep track.
(Do 3 square breaths together.)
Now take 3 deep breaths. Feel the way your body connects to the floor underneath you. Relax your jaw, your hands, your belly. If your thoughts get lost and you forget that you’re breathing, just gently bring yourself back to this place. Reach your head high to the ceiling and draw your shoulders back. Let your body feel heavy and loose. We’re going to do one more meditation. It’s called The Pebble Meditation.
(Use same meditation written above.)
Invite the bell. Anytime you hear a bell ring, I want you to stop what you’re doing and take three breaths. Church bells, school bells, door bells, cow bells… any bells.
Try to do this at home. Teach your family and friends.
Have a peaceful day.
From mine to yours,