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Meditation on Relaxation

November 18th, 2014

“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I have noticed that when the sun is shining and the buses are running smoothly, it is very easy to go into a relaxed state. My meditation practice happens during the moments of rainy days and when the traffic is at a stand-still. How can I relax more?

It all starts within. When my mind is at peace, external happenings do not cause stress. When I experience that the nature of my mind as peace, it makes all the puddles in the street and the delays on the highway easier to deal with.

During a walk last week, I looked out at the colorful trees, the still waters, and became absorbed in nature. I felt my whole body  become relaxed. I stopped along the path and recorded a four-minute meditation on relaxation. As I replayed it, I noticed pauses in the video. At first, I thought the pauses would be a distraction to all who watched the video. And then I remembered, we are called to relax into the pauses. It’s where the healing happens. When we pause, we remember. When we remember, we breathe. And we breathe, we relax.

Enjoy this meditation video on relaxation. And remember to pause, remember, breathe, and relax.

Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Forgiveness Means Choosing Peace

November 13th, 2014

The peace you are seeking is seeking you. The forgiveness you are waiting for is waiting for you. ~Enlightened One

I recently re-read Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, was imprisoned in Auschwitz and Dachau, and he writes eloquently about his harrowing experiences in the death camps. It was through unimaginable suffering that Frankl was able to find meaning not only in his life, but to fully understand how others find meaning in theirs. He writes in his book, “When we are no longer able to change a situation…we are challenged to change ourselves.”

How can we change ourselves? Viktor Frankl writes, “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.” Forgiveness has taught me to live in the present and leave the past behind. When I find myself seeking peace, I have noticed that peace is seeking me.

Are there people and situations in your life you are still carrying around with anger, disappointment, and sadness? Perhaps it is time to fully let go.

Look for an upcoming announcement about a new course on Loving-Kindness that will begin in 2015. Stay tuned!


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Posted in Forgiveness | Toning the Om

Everything is Meditation

November 4th, 2014

As I come across beautiful places throughout my travels I often pause and record a three to five minute meditation video. They are unedited and offer a focus that I am feeling in that very moment.

As part of my meditation practice, I headed down to the end of my street on City Island in the Bronx to see an evening sunset. As the light began to change from an orange to an incredible vermilion, I realized it would be a perfect moment to record a meditation. Right on cue as I held up my iPhone and hit record, a helicopter flew in the background and a bird started to sing loudly. I decided to continue recording and use all the sounds in nature as part of the meditation. As I began recording, I had to become centered and focus on the meditation. I had to turn the background noise into a meditative hum.

In that moment, I realized our mission is to use everything as meditation. Transforming loud sounds into peaceful soundscapes can be a beautiful experience.

Truth is, life is filled with noise. And if we are really honest, our mind is filled with noise throughout our day.

The gift of noise is that we have to choose to zone in rather than zone out.

As you listen to this meditation, I invite you to notice the places of irritation and the places of peace. All of it is useful. At the end of the day, everything is meditation if we allow it to be.

Enjoy this beautiful sunset meditation.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Rising Gratitude

October 30th, 2014

For the broad-winged hawk sitting on a wire, then rising up, spreading its wings, and gracefully soaring above me. For majesty, thank you.

For the pink sunrise that reaches across the sky during an early morning commute. For beauty, thank you.

For the October vermilion sunsets that blazes over the water reflecting the deep colors within. For light, thank you.

For the relationships that fill my life with love and laughter. For meaningful connections, thank you.

vermilion sky (2)

Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

Acorns for a Penny

October 22nd, 2014

AcornsWhen I think about how easy it is for me to live fully aligned with who I am with what I do, I think back to the story of selling acorns for a penny. Back when I was around seven years old, my sister, Dawn, and I filled an old blue baby carriage with acorns from our street. My sister and I would walk on our block and pick up acorns that landed on lawns from the large oak trees that surrounded our neighborhood. We went door to door and asked people if they wanted to buy an acorn for a penny. I have a vivid memory of seeing the smiles on the adults’ faces when they looked at the two of us selling acorns. No one turned us away. They all bought acorns from us – many even bought five or ten acorns.

I don’t imagine anyone needed acorns in their homes. They bought them because they knew the Flanagan girls, because it was a unique idea, because they saw the childhood joy on our faces, and because it was a reasonable price. Now as an entrepreneur, I think back to the days of selling acorns for a penny. I model my life and business after that experience. All of my work is based on building relationships, sharing unique ideas, bringing joy, and offering classes and private sessions at a price that allows for accessibility.

When people feel good about paying for something and want more, then I’ve done something far better than “selling a product” – I’ve made an impact, created a change, and built sustaining relationships.

Isn’t that what being ourselves in the world really all about? Life really is about showing up fully, joyfully, vulnerably, and creatively.

By the way, I have more acorns for a penny if you want some.

What is acorn story? What gifts are you sharing in the world?

How are you living fully aligned?

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

Meditation: Happiness Arrives – In Perfect Timing

October 20th, 2014

As I walked on nature trails last week, I decided to pause and record a five minute meditation on happiness. I felt so happy to be outside walking in nature and bird-watching. Looking out onto the water and trees, I paused and began an impromptu meditation. I usually record whatever I am feeling in the moment so I began to record a meditation on happiness. As you will hear in the meditation video, I invite participants to draw in happiness with each breath and expand happiness with each exhale. As I began to wrap up  the meditation, I was speaking about how happiness arrives when a flock of birds flew around and landed right in front of the camera. :Happiness arrives – in perfect timing.” Please watch and pay attention to the last 40 seconds of the video as it was unplanned, and yet, arrived in perfect timing.

Wishing you happiness~


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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Change the Station

October 8th, 2014

JVC-radio-knobIs there a negative mantra or phrase that is echoing inside you?

Is there a thought that is getting in the way of your freedom?

Seek spaciousness of the open mind, the free mind, the happy mind and the peaceful mind.

For some, ridding the thought, mantra or emotion seems too difficult. Instead, you are invited to lower the volume and change the station. Allow your mind to listen to the station that resides in your heart space.

Ask yourself: What opens my heart? All of those answers will give you more information of your journey.

Perhaps we can start by lowering the volume to what is getting in the way of peace. When we lower the volume of unpleasant thoughts, we make space for more peaceful thoughts to arrive. If we want freedom, why stay in (negative) mental captivity?

Our mind is a refuge of peace if we allow it to be. When we inquire about our thoughts, we become less attached. Meditation helps us become observers of our mind.

Notice what is rising to the surface and if you need to, lower the volume so you can breathe into it and gain clarity. Scan your mental activity and find an entry point.

Lower the volume and find the place of play.

Change the station inside to one of peace.

Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Arousing the Wild Cosmic Heart

September 25th, 2014

I have been reading a lot of David Whyte’s poetry as I plan and prepare for my upcoming retreat in Hawaii, The Wild Cosmic Heart. I have been reading about what arouses, awakens, opens, shifts, transforms, and lifts the heart. What would it take to listen to our wild, cosmic heart? As Whyte wrote, “Sometimes everything has to be inscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.”

In his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea, there is a poem that speaks to becoming more visible, to risking everything to becoming alive.

Heart Flower in HawaiiThere is a lovely root to the word humiliation – from the latin word humus, meaning soil or ground. When we are humiliated, we are in effect returning to the ground of our being.

Shedding the carapace we have been building so assiduously on the surface, we must by definition give up exactly what we thought was necessary to protect us from further harm. The outlaw is the radical, the one close to the roots of existence. The one who refuses to forget their humanity and in remembering, helps everyone else remember too.

To die inside, is to rob our outside life of any sense of arrival from that interior. Our work is to make ourselves visible in the world. This is the soul’s individual journey, and the soul would much rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s.

If you want to explore your untamed heart and risk becoming more alive, then join me in Hawaii on March 1-7, 2015 where we will explore the vast sea of our hearts.

Only a FOUR spots left for the upcoming retreat on the Big Island. To reserve your spot, click here

Posted in Wholehearted | Toning the Om

Always Just a Thought Away from Peace

September 24th, 2014

As I sat in heavy traffic yesterday, I realized it was going to take me at least two hours to get home from work.

With each passing minute on the bus, I began to watch my thoughts.

I remember my thoughts going something like this:

This is going to be a long ride home.

At least I have pretzels in my bag if I get hungry.

Wow, at this rate, I hope I get home before midnight.

People are walking faster than this bus is moving.

How nice to have a quiet ride.

I can use the couple of hours to catch up on some reading.

Perhaps I will listen to a podcast.

Now I have a good 30 minutes to write on the bus.

Ah, I can meditate with the Insight Timer App for 10-20 minutes.

Look at that light. The sunset is going to be beautiful.

What a sweet bus ride.

When I walked in the front door, I felt relaxed and calm.

Yes, I am only just a thought away from peace.

Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Raise the Volume of Love

September 18th, 2014

“Do things that light you up with people who light you up for people you love to serve.” ~Jonathan Fields

What happens when you bring 250 people from all around the world together to immerse in inspired learning, to connect on deep levels, and to play like a kid? Magic. Pure magic.

I signed up for the Camp Good Life Project as soon as the invitation came to my inbox and couldn’t wait to experiences of 3+ days of learning bliss with writer, entrepreneur, and venture builder,  Jonathan Fields.

Before the Camp Good Life Project this past weekend (known as Camp GLP), I had some life changing experiences. In June, a good friend found out she had a brain tumor. In July, my mother-in-law passed away. And by August, I was running a NYC mentoring program solo. Plus, a foot injury, fatigue, and dizziness slowed down my exercise.

By the time I was ready to leave for Camp GLP in September, I felt worn down, exhausted, and still full of so much grief. I decided that since the camp was only a 90-minute ride from my house, I would still go. So I threw clothes in a bag and packed my journal, flashlight, and my drum in the hopes that a few days away would rejuvenate me.

GLP Camp 2014Upon arrival, I was greeted with big smiles, bubbles, and a warm welcome. I thought, “I can do this. I have no idea what I am doing, but I can do this.” Later I was greeted with big hugs from Stephanie and Jonathan Fields.

The weekend was a chance to reconnect with my love of service, creating community/tribes, and leading heart-centered work in the world. And for 3+ days, I had the chance to immerse myself in ways that would engage my mind and heart like I never did before. There were workshops on time bending, tea-blending, hand-lettering, mindfulness, podcasting, book-binding, visual branding, crowdfunding and so much more. And if that wasn’t enough, there was so much time to PLAY! The camp included a bonfire (with s’mores!), color wars, swimming, rock climbing, wearable art, and a talent show.

By the end of the weekend, I realized it wasn’t really a matter of “doing” anything. I just needed to show up – as is. And whether singing at a bonfire or writing in my journal or crying by the lake, it was perfect. I realized it wasn’t about not knowing what I am doing, but rather it was about being all of me.

Camp GLP was a powerful experience – not just because it gathered beautiful world-shakers and makers together. But Camp GLP was powerful because there was reminder throughout the whole weekend to ask and listen for the power of living a Good Life.

The weekend was a deep experience of what can happen when we gather with intention, inspiration, service, and practices of the heart. It really is life-changing.

As I sat writing and coloring in my visual journal in the Capture the Wow class (with the awesome Cynthia Morris) and the Hand-Lettering class, I kept drawing and writing the words, “Raise the volume of Love.”

As soon as I wrote the words, I relaxed into my beingness realizing I had all I needed for my life, my business, my work and my connection to nature and Spirit. I am (still) learning to integrate my heart-centered work with all the emotions of the heart. And my Good Life Project is becoming more clear – to raise the volume of love.

Camp GLP was more than a weekend or an event. It’s what one of my friends would call “a happening.” It felt like a movement – a stirring towards alignment meeting action.

So, when people asked me what I learned at Summer Camp GLP, I smile, and say:

Raise the Volume of Love!

Big shout out to Jonathan Fields, Stephanie Fields, the Crew, KC, Cynthia Morris, the volunteers, and all the campers at CampGLP! Thank you for raising the volume of love.

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Posted in Happiness | Toning the Om