Tag Archives: Personal development

Hack Your Brain’s Default Mode with Meditation

Intro By Rita Graving

Dan Harris, an ABC News correspondent gives an entertaining testimonial for the benefits of a daily meditation practice. After suffering what most people fear more than death itself – a humbling, live on-air panic attack on national television, Harris turned to meditation and ultimately wrote a book about the experience titled “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works-A True Story.”

One thing I’ve come to know to be true – if you can only do one thing to help yourself thrive in our complicated world, pick meditation. It can very literally change in a positive way, your state of mind as well as your emotional and physiological state of being.

Meditation requires commitment and practice, practice, practice. It requires letting go of your perfectionism and invites you to give yourself a little love along with a healthy dose of gratitude.

And without even noticing, you find yourself giving into the silence, connecting with the in-the-moment experience of limitlessness, creating new connections in your body and your mind.

Meditation is transformational. So if everything is clicking for you exactly as … Read the rest

Evolving Your Brain 101

Intro By Rita Graving

In my opinion, meditation is to the personal toolbox what the hammer is to a carpenter’s toolbox. It is the go-to piece, the one you rely on, the practice that, in and of itself, can change your life experience more than anything else.

In this video, we hear from Dr. Joe Dispenza, a leading edge thinker if the field of Quantum Physics and the study of the brain, the body, our habits and beliefs and our connection with the Quantum field. This is fascinating, ground breaking information that has the potential to truly, permanently, change your life.

This compelling video spells it out in layman’s terms, dispelling any scientific mystery that sometimes turns people off to marginally mainstream practices like meditation. It lays a solid foundation for Dr. Joe’s more recent, best-selling books, videos and workshops on the exciting new information being revealed in the scientific community about the absolute wonder of how we, mere mortals, can access the quantum field to manifest massive healing and change in our lives.

For more information visit www.drjoedispenza.com

No Cost Meditation Sources

There are many, many sources offering free, guided meditations online. Here is one source with lots of … Read the rest

Stress Relief Tip: Be Proactive and Reactive to Stress!

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
~Lou Holtz

Which is a more useful response to stress: a proactive or a reactive response?

Actually, it’s both!

woman screamingWhat’s important is to find healthy proactive responses and healthy reactive responses.

First, is the proactive approach.

Proactive approaches involve modifying your behavior or mindset before the stressful situation has occurred.

To illustrate, let’s imagine you are moving to a new home. This is typically a pretty stressful event!

Healthy proactive responses would include:

  • Making a plan for moving day
  • Gathering all packing supplies in one area
  • Asking friends and family for help with packing, moving or unpacking
  • Carefully labeling boxes with their contents
  • Hiring a cleaner to prepare your new home or clean your old home
  • Arranging child care for moving day
  • And of course, buying snacks for any friends who come to help!

change your mindsetThe other approach to managing stress is reactive.

Reactive approaches involve changing your behavior or mindset during or after the initial stress has occurred.

Healthy reactive responses would include:

  • Taking rest breaks when you need to
  • Remind yourself that you won’t feel unsettled for long
  • Focus on the positives about the move:
Read the rest

A Day in the Life

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
~Henry Miller

So I’m sitting outside at a long wooden table … it’s a still, hot African afternoon – the air still and filled with sounds of countless wild animals. I just unpacked my iPad to do a little writing and looked up to see a huge baboon meander by. Then the project staff came by and carried away the platter of Mopane worms they served for lunch (alongside stewed meat and big mounds of pale white nshima <the local corn meal mash they traditionally serve at many meals>). Some of the baboons are fighting on the metal roof of “the White House” – the building we are living in during the project. Yes, I am in Africa …

As you may imagine, it’s impossible to describe a “normal” day here. So here are a few highlights of the past few days ….

guide with lionYesterday (Tuesday?) I had my first lion walk – heading over to their enclosures with our guides Lovewell and Happy as well as a few scouts carrying AK-47s to protect us. They rarely shoot these big guns and to date have only fired them … Read the rest

Sit Down

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”

Lately, a lot of unexpected, not really welcome experiences have been landing with many people I know, myself included. Rumblings of overwhelm, feeling out of balance, over-extended and stressed out are rampant. It’s been comforting to know that it wasn’t just me and I welcomed the odd camaraderie of the fact we were all going through it together.

But, things happens when you don’t pay attention to those taps on the shoulder. You see, they’re warning signals. As Oprah says, “it starts with a whisper.” “Maybe you need a little more sleep.” “Perhaps some play time would help recharge your battery.” And the more you ignore the whispers, the more persistent they become. Until, one day you’re forced to sit down.

It can be a metaphor or it can be reality – but sooner or later the quiet voice within that always tells us the truth, ultimately takes matters into its own hands and sits us down….and what was once a whisper is now a stern demand.

breatheI ignored the whispers and now I’ve been seated. I’m reviewing the lesson I’ve learned before. Take care yourself … Read the rest

Full Moon + Total Lunar Eclipse

BIG. BOLD. New Beginnings. Harvest Full Moon. Create your Miraculous Full Moon Ritual (more heregoo.gl/iSzvxy) and connect to this powerful energy surge to propel you strongly into harvesting your new growth cycle.

Many Moon Events All At Once = Big Life Movements
Super full moonThe lunar eclipse full moon occurs when the sun + moon + earth pass through a precise alignment of simultaneous sunrises/sunsets casting orangish/red tones on the moon referred to as a Blood Full Moon. This configuration energizes your connection to relationships and big life visions and goals. A Super Full Moon with total lunar eclipse is very rare. This is the first one in 33 years, and it won’t happen again for another 18.

With so many energetic astrological events happening at once, there have been rumors and prophecies around the idea of the world ending. What is really happening is the firm ending of an old paradigm in consciousness. Thankfully so, if you welcome the needed the shift in your own growth.

Whatever has been in process for you for quite some time with your relationships, connection and dreams can now move into their transformative changes for you with your willing openness.

Have you noticed a … Read the rest

Book Review: The Magician’s Way

William Whitecloud’s book “The Magician’s Way” walked into my life several years ago as a referral from a trusted friend. Her testimonial was “it’s the most transformational book I’ve ever read.” I was in.

Within a year or two I read the book four times, participated twice in a group study of his online course, and attended two workshops held by the author. The book is an easy, intriguing read that takes on more meaning when you learn that some of the events of the story are not fiction. I don’t want to give away any secrets, but activities I believed fictional are actually humanly possible – my own success at one of them proves it!

William’s life work is sharing, teaching and practicing “magic” and he walks his talk. This is about tuning into our intuition to identify and choose what we’d love, using our will to move us forward and then getting out of the way to allow the magic of the creative genius within us to propel us toward the end result. Boom. Magic happens.

This is all about perception, intention and then surrender.

I encourage you to watch this 2.5 min video – one … Read the rest

Lunar Ritual

Lunar Ritual… Read the rest

Effecting Change With This Month’s Lunar Cycle

“My mantra for this time, is ‘one box at a time’ It will all
be accomplished in its own good time.”

~Susan Scofield

Much has been said about the Super Moon, Blood Moon of Sept 27, 2015. Super Moon, Blood Moon.  Super epithets describing a fairly normal cosmic occurrence.  What we do know for certain is that this a total lunar eclipse.

The Sun is currently in the early degrees of Libra, the sign of relationships, which puts the Moon in the opposite sign of Aries, the sign of self. This means that the issues involved are self vs others.

Eclipses are crisis points, meaning stuff happens, things shift, long-term situations that have been awaiting change, do just that. A tipping point, the fulcrum, or hinge upon which life takes a turn. Full moons release energy that has been stored up for a month, or in the case of an eclipse, six months or more.

In astrology, the Moon represents our past, our history, our reaction to stress, our habits and routines. The Moon’s role is to maintain homeostasis throughout both our physical and emotional body, and it does this through continually repeating patterns that have worked in the past. … Read the rest

Mercury Retrograde in Libra: Finding Relationship Balance!

“Perhaps Mercury’s retrograde periods can cause our plans to go awry.
However, this is an excellent time to reflect of the past.
Intuition is high and coincidences can be extraordinary.

~Farmers Almanac

This Mercury Retrograde (September 17th through October 9th) is in the sign of Libra, highlighting the realm of relationships, the cosmic dance between self and others. Libra also rules balance, fairness and justice.

retrograde moonA retrograde period is nothing to fear, in fact, just the opposite! With the right perspective it can be an extraordinary time of gaining deeper perspective on how/why/when to move your life forward, powerfully (and more clearly) when Mercury goes direct. This MR points to a period of rebalancing aspects of your life that are out of alignment, especially on the relationship front.

So this MR point your compass towards transformation! Your North Star now lies in exploring your relationships and how they can help you understand and expand your life. For now, they are truly a mirror to your soul!

For more information, visit www.MeganSkinner.comRead the rest

Full Moon, Super Moon, Total Lunar Eclipse—Oh My!

moon-blickSunday’s Full Moon in Aries (7:50pm PST) is also a Super Moon AND a Total Lunar Eclipse! Lunar Eclipses are a powerful Full Moon that relates to endings, as the Moon passes through the deepest part of the Earth’s Shadow. It’s also a Super Moon, meaning the Moon is at its closest point to Earth. There’s only been five times since 1900 where the Super Moon has coincided with a total Lunar Eclipse—and the next won’t happen for another 18 years!

So, this Lunar Occurrence has extra, triple-IMPACT, and expect to feel some shakeups in your life! The Moon is in the early degrees of Aries, giving it a powerful, push-forward, get your needs meet vibe. This is a time to watch out for being reactive and extra sensitive about expecting others to understand and get your perspective.

This Moon is seeking balance! It aspects both the current Mercury Retrograde and Sun in Libra, continuing the relationship theme of balancing individual needs with relationship needs. The next Lunar Eclipse, in March 2016, will be in the sign of Libra, directly opposite this one. This means that you get to see both sides of coin—relationship-wise—between now and Spring. And ultimately find … Read the rest

Are You Ready for Change?

Entering the ‘Crack in the Wall;’ an African Adventure

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire,
you ‘will’ what you imagine and then you create what you ‘will.’”
~George Bernard Shaw

Africa, Africa. The sun sneaks up to the rim of the horizon and its light wakes up the masses to the wide eyed innocence of the African dawn. The bare branched trees along the ridge of the Magadzavane plateau stand in salute to the bleary-eyed sun stark against the moon washed sky.

africcan sunsetThis is Swaziland and William Whitecloud‘s Meet Your Writing Genius retreat. William, the author of The Magician’s Way has brought us to a place overlooking the Rift Valley of Africa and into the heart of his most recent book, The Last Shaman. Somewhere between Johannesburg and here we have been led through the ‘crack in the wall’ into a shamanic world.

As a bestselling author, William already has credibility. But in this other world he shows us that he is more than just an author, he is a transformational guide who reveals the secrets of high level creative function. I learn that I have it in me. I discover that when I let go of the need to know … Read the rest

Learning To Love Yourself: A Simple 5 Step Prescription

“We need to love ourselves first, in all our glory and imperfections.
If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot open to our ability to love others.”
~John Lennon

Love, Ah yes, that most elusive and most desired experience that all of us humans seem to want in this world. So why is it so difficult to attain it? Why is it such a misunderstood subject?

After working with people in private practice for the last 26 years in NYC, Boulder CO and Seattle I have come to see that love is the most misunderstood human experience. For most of us, we look for love in all the wrong places, mainly in other people: praying to find our beloved and live happily ever after.

The truth is, we will never be satisfied with another and their love offering until we are willing to love ourselves. When I explain this to my patients, I am almost always met with great resistance. I can see the pain in their hearts as they look at me and say, “Are you suggesting, Ellen, that I give up looking for my soul mate? Or worse, are you suggesting that I will never meet my soul mate?” … Read the rest

The Magic Word!

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:
the last of the human freedoms … to choose one’s attitude
in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
~Viktor Frankl

Most everyone wants to experience exceptional results in life. Regardless of our background or circumstances and the state of the world we are living in, there is one single most important factor to guarantee those exceptional and positive results and it’s found in

The Magic Word … ATTITUDE!

attitudeWhat makes our attitude magical? Just the fact that it directly influences every single thing we experience and person we come in contact with!

Our attitude tells the world how we process our circumstances and what we expect from life. Intentionally choosing our attitude is like selecting an outcome in advance. Plain and simple – our attitude directly determines our life.

Largely, people start their day in neutral with an attitude that is neither good nor bad; they just sit poised ready to react to whatever stimuli they encounter. If the stimulus is good, they’ll reflect that; if it’s bad, they’ll reflect that too … like a chameleon.

A better idea? Become a deliberate creator who exudes … Read the rest


“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
~Christopher Columbus

As I talk with my friends about this journey I’m about to take, so many of them say, “You’re so brave!” And every time I hear that, I pause and shake my head and think to myself, “Gosh … not really. I don’t think of myself as brave.” So I had to look up the word and some of the synonyms fit… “Adventurous”? Yes. “Resolute”? Yup. “Spirited”? Check. But words like “Heroic” and “Fearless”… not so much. Since I’m a writer, words mean a lot to me. And this word “Brave” just isn’t sticking.

Perhaps this word is just too strong for me. I feel like my penchant for “living small” (an age-old habit of being “the good girl” who doesn’t ruffle any feathers … a habit I’m trying to relinquish) rears its head when it hears this word “Brave.” But then as I sit here typing away, thinking about my life, I start to embrace it. Because really, it’s true. And I became this way because of my mother. She is, in large part, the one who inspired me to … Read the rest

Team “Three Generations” Swims the English Channel

“We never give ourselves credit for what we can really do. If we can get out of
our own way and look at the big picture, we have so much within our spirit.
We need to dig deeper just to see what we have.”

~Shannon Ward Swartz
(See Reflections on the Experience)

This is the story of my role in a great adventure swimming across the English Channel as part of a relay swim team in August of 2015. We were a team of 3 swimmers, 2 crew women, a Pilot and his 2 crew men and 1 official Observer. The swimmers were my nephew Todd, his 16 year old daughter, Lauren, and myself.

Our Pilot suggested we start during high tide so we could get a good night sleep before starting our swimming. We took his advice. And on August 1st at 7:00 a.m., we went to the pier loaded with gear. Pilot, Lance, and his crew were beyond awesome! They gave us SO much attention and support, something I hadn’t experienced in previous channel swims. The boat was nice and big, and there was plenty of room for all of us. Our Observer was an ex-marine seal. He … Read the rest

Miss Out on Machu Picchu?

5.55am! Oh my God I’ve missed the trip up to Machu Picchu.

As it was daylight outside I knew it could only mean one thing – the group on this Peru Odyssey sacred adventure had gone up to the crystal city without me. I was horrified. My main concern was how to tell people I’d been in Machu Picchu Pueblo, just a 25 minute bus ride from one of the most awesome Seven Wonders of the World and not experienced it.

‘I’ll tell them I was ill,’ was my thought.

As I mulled over my embarrassment a ringing song-sound erupted by my head.

The alarm!

It was 4.00am. It was still dark outside and it had been a dream.

Of course this group would never leave me behind.

By the time you’ve gone through shamanic ceremonies at extraordinary ancient sacred sites, experienced a psychedelic sacred plant medicine and been vulnerable enough to allow your weaknesses to peek below your hemline you have a pretty good bond with the group around you. As the physical weakest link I’ve had to accept helping hands a lot of the time and they’ve been there for me whenever required. I don’t like being the … Read the rest

Planning Your Summer? How About Your LIFE?

“Live Your Life on Purpose.”

Summertime is around the corner!

Believe it or not, the beginning of summer is the time of year, bar none, when we do most of our long-term planning, even though that detailed planning is for only a month or two in advance.

We start by identifying the emotion-driven goals we want to experience, strategize how to accomplish them, and then get into action so our summer objectives become our reality.

It’s a great formula that has us as the powerful catalyst for what we want.

Now how about your life and all the different aspects of it? Are you planning with all the fervor that you plan your summertime activities; looking at possibilities, contemplating details, covering bases, and designing your plan of action? When you do, life opens up and you really do get more of what you want. Give it a try.

Where arewoman walking down road you going?

Acknowledge your heart’s desire, that dream you’ve tucked away or something you would do if you really gave yourself permission. You will be better able to understand what is calling you forward and what happiness and success look like to you.

How will you get there?

Read the rest