3 Steps to Breathing Easier

deep-breathDaily life brings its challenges for all of us. No matter if we are single, coupled, with kids, without kids, tall, short, in amazing shape, in horrible shape, employed, unemployed, rich, or poor.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a woman with a four-year-old child and a baby on the way. "I miss the days that my life was my own," she shared. The wild thing is that just a few minutes earlier I had been thinking about the fact that I don't have any children, and I'm single to boot. To be honest, earlier in the day I had felt a deep sense of envy for those with a family.

And there I stood looking into the eyes of a woman who was overwhelmed and wishing she could experience once again the freedom I own. Having said this, I can't help but think we all need to learn to breathe easier - no matter our station of life:

1. Be thankful for NOW. We human beings are pros at being half-present in our daily lives. We fret about the past, freak out about the future, and get lost in a web of confusion.

One day in the future I may find myself bogged down with familial responsibilities and wish that I had experienced my singleness and freedom with joy. Or, the woman with child will wish she could have poured her being into motherhood the day she sees her daughter go off to college.

Author Leo Babauta suggests thinking of three good things a day to avoid becoming bitter or frustrated. Or, I've been trying to make a concerted effort lately to do something to disrupt negative thought patterns -- such as a long walk or workout.

2. Get in a flow. Breathing into the moment and pouring focus/energy into being and doing results in "flow." The concept coined by Mihaly Cskiszentmihalyi (a positive psychology expert) sees a person fully immersed into what they are undertaking. He or she operates with "energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process" of an activity.

If you need a bit of reference for this type of being, think back to when you were a child swimming in a pool or climbing trees. You were in the "here and now" so very deeply. Activities were pursued with passion, laughter, and sometimes tears.

Let's get back into that groove as adults, pouring ourselves into our lives with all we possess. I'm thinking we'll sleep much better and smile more.

3. Meditate and or pray. Take time to find silence. Discover a meditation or prayer practice that works for you and dedicate at least five minutes to it per day.

Bonus Tip: Love freely. "Those who can't say I love you, can rarely say I forgive you." I recently heard these words. I find them so simple, yet so very profound.

Our breath is also directly connected to our ability to love and forgive. If we can't love ourselves and others -- if we can't forgive ourselves and others -- how can we breathe with ease? Our insides instead become gobbled up with resentments, frustrations, and fear.

Life is so very short!!

Let's dare to enjoy the moment, get in a flow, and find a bit of quiet time reserved for breathing free.

- Jen Engevik

Acceptance, Reality... and a Bittersweet November

November will forever have a different meaning to me. It has become a month (as of this year) that has forced me to face really experience (like the first time again) what it feels like to be alone. Not that I don't have family members and friends...but to not have a partner in which I can confide -- share my deepest fears, sorrows and triumphs.

Such a loss makes me think deeply about what I am made of. Sometimes what I find is very hard to stomach and other times I discover this bold creature who thinks she can take on the world.

I know I will live through this November -- and if God willing there will be another November in 2013 -- and a handful more to experience.

The process of healing from loss doesn't come with a guidebook or a manual. I am learning it is about putting one foot in front of the other and keeping on. It's about one day waking with dread that can only be washed away when you weep as the sun rises in the East. And another day finding yourself able to rise in peace - go the whole day without a tear - and when the sun sets in the West find your shoulders shaking as you bawl for what you have lost.

On Monday I was lucky enough to return to Marianne Williamson's lecture. She spoke a bit about the feelings that come along with losing someone that we love. She spoke of how powerful the union of two human beings is -- how a partner occupies the most sacred part of who we are. And when that is gone, the void usually inspires deep sadness, and even panic. Yet, she reminded the audience one must not forget that all over this planet are people in pain. Healing can be advanced by realizing the power of empathy and reaching out to others.

Williamson challenged the audience to recognize the "Big Game" from the "Small Game." She then defined the Big Game as a life dedicated to the service of others - of using our talents to provide love and goodness to others. The Small Game on the other hand is buying into limitation - to our pains - endlessly thinking of our past choices and the people who have "caused" our inability to move forward.

There are a few things I am sure of:

- I can and will pull through. You can too if faced with loss, I know ;-)

- We can choose to see the bigger game...or be a victim of the smaller one

- The future is unknown...the moment contains all the power we need

While I know that I will be okay, it still doesn't take away the fact that my November is a painful one. Still, everyday I must wake knowing that I may weep...that my body and mind may be weary...that I may miss the one I have loved for days, months, and maybe years to come. And that is okay -- for true love is eternal.

May we not turn love into hate for the sake of self preservation.

"Accept your situation," I was told by a friend. Accepting is painful...reality can be a bitch...but it is the only way to "new places cookin'" as my first yoga teacher continues to say to this day.

Make it a beautiful weekend -- oh you weary at heart...and fulfilled folks all the same.


Jen Engevik

Love Like Water By Poet Mark Nepo

Water in its clear softness fills whatever hole it finds. It is not skeptical or distrusting. It does not say this gully is too deep or that field is too open. Like water, the miracle of love is that it covers whatever it touches, making the touched thing grow while leaving no trace of its touch. True, the faces of shores and the arms of cliffs are worn to the bone. But this is beyond the water's doing. This is the progress of life, of which water is but an element.

Most things break instead of transform because they resist.

The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or placed into it, embracing it completely.

Of course, we are human and are easily hurt. But we waste so much of life's energy by delivering who and what shall be worthy of our love when the deepest elemental sense, these choices are not in our province, anymore than rain can choose what it shall fall upon.

Certainly, we need to make decisions: Who will I spend time with? Who will I learn from?  But beneath all that, the element of love doesn't stop being elemental. It does not stop covering everything before it. And over a lifetime, the pain of withholding this great and quiet force is more damaging than anything. For love, like water, can be dammed, but toward what end?

In truth, the more we let love flow through, the more we have to love. This is the inner glow that sages and saints of all ages seem to share: the wash of their love over everything before them; not just people, but birds and rocks and flowers and air.

Beneath the many choices we have to make, love, like water, flows back into the world through us. It is the one great secret available to all. Yet somewhere the misperception has been enshrined that to withhold love will stop hurt.

In truth, it is the other way around. As water soaks scars, love soothes our wounds. If open to, love will accept the angrily thrown stone, and our small tears will lose some of their burn in the great ocean of tears, and the arrow released to the bottom of the river will lose its point.

-Mark Nepo - from The Book of Awakening

10 Bold Words to Meditate on Today

1. Love...keep the heart pumping and ever your partner, your child, your mother & father, and even strangers some love today.

2. Forgive...let go of offers the perfect opportunity to create new, positive brain waves.

3. Now...have you noticed all of the beauty surrounding you at this very moment? The magic lies in the moment...that's why we had so much fun when we were kids.

4. Trees...thank goodness for green leaves to create more oxygen for us to breathe. How about being a tree huger for the day...or climbing up one for fun.

5. Path...choose the path that your gut tells you to take. It may be scary and temporarily painful, but at least it beats stagnancy.

6. Hand...this world wouldn't be what it is today without our hands. "I can change the world...with my own two hands...with my own...with my own two hands" - Ben Harper

7. Eyes...dare not to take for granted that you have eyes with which to experience the world. Open them up a bit more, and you'll be amazed at what you can experience.

8. Listen...the more we listen, the more we learn. It's not always easy to stay silent and give time for another being to express himself/herself, but it's the most loving thing we can do. Practice makes perfect...let's keep trying to be better listeners.

9. Quiet...minds need time to breathe. Let's dare to find a nice place where there are no distractions and just be. Clarity and great ideas grow in moments of peace...and quiet.

10.'s OK to daydream a bit and let the mind take flight. How else was the science of flight conceived?...or the iPhone developed?...or the pyramids designed? Why do we not have daydreaming classes in school? Don't be one of those people who tell your children not to daydream...or that their imagination will lead them to ruin. Join in the fun!

Those who are out there making things happen in the world often have a hard time sleeping at night...their imaginations run wild as they dream up their next creation.  Have you bought into the idea that they own some special dreaming license? At birth we were all given the same one...why not use it?

- Jen Engevik

Life's Daily Race - Any Idea Where You Are Racing To?

Yesterday, I was in a Persian grocery market in town where one can enjoy amazing prices on semi-local produce. My mother was with
 me after spending the day reading books and enjoying the sea breeze, while I worked to meet a writing deadline. Mom is now 73-years-old (she looks like she's going on 63 rather than 73, but that's besides the point...or maybe it's not "besides the point." I NEED her to be 63 because I want her to be around for many, many more years. The thought of losing her one day scares the living daylights out of me).

Mom and I walked down the aisle that I knew would lead us to the cilantro. I glanced at my mom for a moment and was filled with the overwhelming conviction to be there fully with her - to not worry about where we need to rush to next, how we will get there on time, or if we were doing the "right" thing at the "right" time.

Mom was looking at a pile of apples to her right. There was a glimmer of happiness in her eyes - a twinkle. She held her purse in her left hand and as usual was dressed elegantly - with purpose. I made a point to look around at the various shoppers, racing around to get done with their shopping tasks and on to the next event.

"Where the heck are we all racing to?" I asked myself. It became apparent to me in that instant that the race is imaginary. We work and work and go and go and do and do. In the process we end up panting like dogs - tears streaming down our faces, as we think we could be doing better. We fret because we may not get to that place, that destination. What destination? Where? How?

I am realizing more and more that "the destination" is an illusion. Instead, if I dare to focus on the "here," I will get "there" without the struggle - without the panting - without the stomach ulcers - without failed relationships...

Mom and I roamed around the market smiling, savoring the moment. She didn't know that I'd made the decision to embrace each second of our experience together. She had no idea that I had recently found myself worrying about losing her and fear of change. By choosing to open my arms wide and thank the cosmos for the perfect moment, I was free. Free to enjoy the smallest details in life.

When we got back to my home, I decided not to touch my computer, my cell phone and other annoying electronic devices. I then put on the movie Chocolat and sat next to mom. Throughout our movie experience, we laughed, teared up and were amazed at the rich story line. While the credits rolled at the movie's end, I put my head on Mom's shoulder and asked her to give me head tickles as she did when I was a kid. My mom is still here. She still is my longest-standing best friend, and she always will be.

Where are we racing to? Where are we going? What are we doing to ourselves?

Before leaving the grocery store, my mom had accidentally stepped in front of a woman  in a hurry. Mom apologized in the most sincere of ways, but the woman didn't say a word. She frowned and  pushed her way toward the checkout stand.

I'm not sure why the woman was so unhappy. It probably didn't have anything to do with my mom or that moment - but I pray that today she realizes  her race in life is an illusion. She can make her  moments more enjoyable by telling "the race" to take a hike and insert herself into "now." It's about her son who trailed behind her, picking up various pieces of fruit and looking at them in amazement - with obvious imagination. She didn't seem to even acknowledge his existence -- just kept frowning and racing forward.

Where are you racing to? What are your intentions? What can you do to better harness the moment?

Did  you know that we can paint our days in any way we wish?

You can use any colors you choose...and you can modify those colors at any moment in time. Don't buy into the illusion that you have to race - that there is a destination to get to - that you have to be this way or that - that your kids have to be this way or that. Untangle your being from the complex "shoulds" and "what ifs"... and then open it to the simple, yet oh so amazing "here and now."

- Jen Engevik

Project BE Bold

How Encouragement Changed My Day

This morning I awoke a bit in a slumber - not knowing quite how to put one foot in front of the other. How wild is it that one day I can be amp'd and ready to go and the next feeling as though I am an alien on a strange planet?

This being human thing is so precarious at times. Sometimes we don't have a concrete reason for feeling a bit off...and yet we do.

Wanting to throw the bed covers over my head and sleep a bit longer, the impulse was interrupted when out of the blue my phone chimed indicating a text message had just zipped its way into my world. It read - "Hey Jen, I hope you have another productive and promising day today!"

It was as though my friend sensed that I needed a few words of encouragement - my soul welcomed it with a beaming smile. It was a simple message, yet profoundly needed. To know that someone cared that I experience a day of productivity and promise was so very touching. I was instantly infused with a new will.

I'm thinking no matter how tough and bold we think we are...deep down inside there is this soft and gooey part of ourselves that needs reassurance. We need to be told that we are relevant and able. We need to know that the universe has some sort of reason for our existence.

Somewhere out there, there is a person in my your life...that needs a quick text message, e-mail or call of this very moment!!

Kind words can turn everything around for a person  in a slumber - for the soul that hurts - and the heart that weeps.

Please take a minute out of your day to touch someone's life. Don't think twice...just go and do it!!

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato

- Jen Engevik
Project BE Bold

Baby & Boxer Meet = Instant Love

Just a reminder -- no matter what you may be going through or how tough life may seem at times...there is so much beauty to be found!!! This video proves it:

Make it a bold day!!

- Team Project BE Bold