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<Drums Rattle Djembe Doumbek>

Aligning with Our Inner Peace Meditation

August 19th, 2015

Spend five minutes listening to your inner landscape of peace. Take time to slow down, deepen the breath, and open your heart. Give yourself permission to bring more peace to your inner landscape. Share that peace to your outer landscape. Watch how you can align your inner and outer landscape with more peace.

You are peace. Breathe that. Be that.

With each breath, share your peace with each person you meet today.

Meditation was recorded on City Island (Bronx, NY) – Toning the OM

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Book Review: On the Move by Oliver Sacks

August 7th, 2015

Oliver_SacksRenowned neurologist, Oliver Sacks opened our eyes to the world of clinical neurology. Sacks is a prolific writer of numerous works. Most know of him from his book Awakenings, which was subsequently made into a film in 1990. The movie is about the transient release of patients from their frozen state with the Parkinson’s drug L-dopa and their subsequent development of debilitating side effects. He is also known for his bestselling book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which is a collection of fascinating neurological case histories. What makes Sacks so remarkable is his ability to relate all of his patient’s stories to remind each of us of our own humanity.

In his recent memoir, On the Move, Sacks shares his life through relationships with family, friends, colleagues and lovers, from his teens in north London, through his university days at Oxford, and on to adult life in the United States, where he worked first in San Francisco, then Los Angeles, and finally, New York. He frequently returned to London to visit family and friends, and to write.

Sacks is a captivating storyteller, and he gives us a front row seat to share in his non-work activities – motorcycling, weightlifting, as well as a brief but intense period of addiction to amphetamines. He comes across as a lovable, refusing to edit out many parts of his life and events that many would consider too vulnerable or too embarrassing. And, despite his phenomenal success, he is so shy that he spent 35 years without a lover.

He tells stories about the owner of the headache clinic that he worked with who not only threw a jealous tantrum and dismissed Sacks when he published a book about migraines, but he also plagiarized him. Fortunately, this did not impede Sacks and his successes continued, along with friendships with many with great talents of his era as well as key medical researchers. A wonderful book by a great neurologist and teacher of empathy. Sacks gives all new meaning to the words: modern medicine. His story is healing and makes us grateful to have learned from him.

I highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

Sunset Meditation on City Island

July 28th, 2015

Spend five minutes enjoying a sunset meditation from City Island. Take in the sounds of the wind, water, waves, birds, and boats as you bring in peace to your heart center and share peace with at least three people.

Let the wind be your teacher. Let the waves be your teacher. Let the birds be your teacher. Let the sounds be your teacher.

Thoughts are like clouds that pass in the sky. Breathe and release.

Follow the in-breath to your heart – the center of your being.

We are one thought away from peace.

Breathe the peace that resides in you as you.

Be peace.

Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Well-Being Matters

June 22nd, 2015

I have built a tribe around well-being and wholeness over the past nine years. It started out as fun drumming circles. I didn’t know how much people longed to experience wholeness until I met people from around the world who craved connection, service, ceremony and joy. The circles grew over time. People have come together, sometimes virtually, around various experiences and themes, including, drumming, meditation, forgiveness, healing, heart-centered practices and ceremonies, shamanic journeying, nature walks, and so much more. My goal has always been to create heart-centered connections.

I also had to live from a heart-centered place. To do this, I have put myself out there in the world – I show up fully and at times with great vulnerability. If I am to bear witness for others, it is my belief that I must fully be myself in the world. At times that has meant sharing the deep grief of losing my mother or sharing about health challenges.

For those who have followed my blog over the past few years will remember how much I struggled with dizziness and fatigue. I went to many doctors, had numerous tests, and was given a misdiagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Doctors could not figure out what I had and all of my symptoms did not fit neatly into a text-book category. I was given medicine to temporarily minimize the symptoms as I kept getting shuffled from doctor to doctor. There were days I was filled with despair. After a few pity-party moments, I did what I had taught so many of my students and clients to do – meditate, spend time in nature, keep a gratitude journal, and write daily.

Through it all, I paid attention to my well-being. I listened to others when they spoke about what was helping their health and well-being. A friend started using essential oils and they were making a huge difference in improving his occasional digestive issues. I reached out to see if I could try some of the essential oils to help me with supporting my immune system and relieving occasional sleeplessness.

After a few weeks of using some essential oils, I had relief from restlessness and found they helped restore alertness when I experienced fatigue. The essential oils were supporting my immune system and relieving neck tension. The essential oils have become part of my well-being habit. I now speak to people about essential oil uses and give free classes.

Well-being matters. When I feel full of joy and light, the world is full of joy and light.

If you would like to know more about essential oils or have me host a FREE class, please reach out to me.

FDA disclaimer: These products are not intended to diagnosis, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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Posted in Vulnerability | Toning the Om

Listening Deeply

June 5th, 2015

How are you listening deeply to your heart? What is calling you?

Last week, I was interviewed by Cristina Maria Rojas Fernandez for her BlogTalk Radio Show, Transforming Gifts. It was a chance to share my journey and the story of how I turned the grief of losing my mother into the grace of starting Toning the OM. It’s the story of my heart – the drum rhythm – and the tears that transformed into a healing journey.

As always, this is dedicated to all those who have supported me on my journey, especially, Lorene. And I also dedicate this to my mother, who always holds a place of love in my heart.

Thank you for listening – and listening deeply.

Check Out Spirituality Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Transforming Gifts on BlogTalkRadio

Posted in Shamanism | Toning the Om

The Road Home by Ethan Nichtern – Book Review

May 27th, 2015

Ethan Nichtern is the founder of The Interdependence Project and a student of Sakyong Mipham. Nichtern is a senior teacher in Shambhala Buddhism and the author of a new book, The Road Home, A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path.

the road homeIn his book, Nichtern uses the term “commute” to refer to the many ways in which people move randomly from one relationship to another, from one job to another, one situation to another without much reflection or joy in what they are doing. These commuters do not feel at home.

Nichtern writes:

“From the standpoint of our struggle, we are wanders, commuters addicted to a state of transit, always thinking that we will be satisfied somewhere other than here. We may struggle our whole life, on a relentless and unsettling journey from cradle to urn. Lacking the tools to get comfortable in our own skin and safe in our own mind, we get lost again and again in the existential transitions of life, blindly hoping that a true and permanent home lies just around the corner, after a bit more struggle to prove ourselves, a bit more time figuring out how to belong in our life. So often our idea of home is whatever we hope will magically be waiting for us after the current disruption. For the commuter, “home” becomes a shifting mirage in an increasingly repetitive desert.”

However, Nichtern offers us an alternative to our suffering and our story:

“Life is no longer about just trudging onward toward oblivion. In this alternative, empowered narrative, the passage of time starts to represent spontaneous opportunity. Every day is new, every moment is fresh, every relationship sacred. In this story, no one is ever doomed. ‘Now’ is always the moment of creative potential. In this alternate story, we are awake.”

In contrast to the spiritual emptiness of materialism, Nichtern talks about living in the present moment – “Awake-ism.” Life in the present moment means to operate from a heart-mind perspective through awareness. Getting this perspective means delving into a meditation practice. And resting in the gap in meditation is not about finding a bliss space; rather it is a brave willingness to be vulnerable.

Nichtern explains how by attuning ourselves to this heart-mind awareness to what’s happening around us and inside us, we become able to deepen our sense of connection with others and, at the same time, change for the better our individual and collective patterns of apathy and inattention. In this open invitation to Buddhist meditation, Nichtern shows how, in order to create a truly compassionate and enlightened society, we must start with ourselves. And this means beginning by working with our own minds – in the present moment – in whatever state we find them in.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Posted in Learning | Toning the Om

My Mother─My Heart

May 10th, 2015

Where are you?
I long to hear your voice.

Where are you?
I long to see your face.

Where are you?
I long to know you more deeply.

Where are you?
I long to create more stories.

Where are you?
You are.


Where are you?

We are the wisdom in our voices.

We are the compassion in our faces.

We are the joy in our knowing.

We are the smiles in our stories.

Connected by birth. Re-connected by love. Always love.

Dedicated to my beloved mother, Catherine Flanagan, 1944 – 2000.

Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Book Review – Phenomenal

May 7th, 2015

Who am I to trust my body, my senses, my instincts? Who am I to know how to raise a child without consulting parenting books and up-to-date rearing studies? Who am I to try to find God outside of an institutionally approved, fully vetted doctrine? Who am I to think I can pursue impractical dreams? Who am I to be taken seriously? Who am I to think I’m capable or worthy? Who am I to …
Who am I?– Leigh Ann Henion

Leigh Ann Henion’s Phenomenal is an emotional story of a journey around the world that explores the depths being a mother and a wanderer. Henion combines her own questions of being both a mother and an adventurer. This inner conflict calls her to go on a global journey to some of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. Henion writes, “And what began as a tour of extraordinary sights had evolved into the story of how─in an abstract, digital world of overspecialization─I was becoming an expert witness of my own life.”

PhenomenalPhenomenal begins with Henion describing her inner suffering. She is overwhelmed by the birth of her son and the stresses a young mother faces with a newborn. This pushes Henion to ask hard questions about parenting and expectations of women and motherhood. She is struggling with how to bear witness to herself and her son at the same time. Henion wants to experience wonder again and for her this means allowing herself to venture on a global journey to rekindle her sense of awe.

Henion’s quest takes her to the still-burning volcanoes of Hawaii, lightning storms of Venezuela, experiencing the variety of animal movements in Tanzania, and the joy of the elegant butterfly migrations in Mexico. Through it all, she is teaching herself the inner experience of freedom both as a parent and a human being. This lesson gives her permission to experience parenthood on her own terms as well as understanding the awe of being a parent. It’s a story of birth (of her son) and of rebirth (of herself).

Isn’t there a holy sense of purpose to be found in the search itself,
at any age?

Henion’s spiritual journey puts her in the path of modern-day shamans, reindeer herders, and astrophysicists. She learns from people from all around the world about wonder and the lengths people will go to chase migrations, auroras, eclipses, and other phenomena. These people become her teachers and she learns that all of them trust their instincts and follow their passions. Henion learns that this global quest is more than a journey of seeking, but in the end becomes a journey of being.

As one of her teachers on the journey says to her,

“The earth, like us, is constantly stimulated from without as well as within…The whole planet vibrates and we’re actually pretty intimate with how it does that if we listen to our bodies. Our mother’s greatest gift, the heartbeat, is infrasonic. We have this coming out of the womb. We realize that we are not alone.”

An inspiring memoir, Henion reveals unforgettable truths about motherhood, spirituality, and the true gift of all the phenomenal beauty that surrounds us.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  http://leighannhenion.com/

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

OM Project

April 21st, 2015

MAF_OMWe all have rhythm – really, we do! We can connect to various vibrations and rhythms that surround us. An easy place to start is in our own bodies. We can place a hand on our hearts and listen to the rhythm. We can follow the breath and see where that takes us. We can drive on a highway and feel the grooves under our wheels. I even follow the rhythm of a large fire engine outside my window by listening to the siren and making it a song.

What if we took time each day to find our own personal rhythm, our OM?

What would happen if we each listened to our most profound sound living in and through us?

Perhaps just by connecting with our personal OM, we could relate to those around us in new ways. We could connect hearts first and minds second. We could connect on deeper levels, beyond the surface conversations. We could know each other through rhythm rather than rhetoric. We would meet each other with purpose rather than puffery. We could drop judgment and choose acceptance. We could release anger and open to patience acceptance.

With our personal rhythm comes our potential. It’s living inside of us. Step out of limitation and into possibility. Listen to the OM flowing through you.

Are you willing to expand the maximum capacity of your heart?

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Posted in Wholehearted | Toning the Om


April 16th, 2015

Frozen earth  Spring_1
Sitting in the dark
Light rises
Buds blooming
Eyes openning
Touching the sky
Waiting for me
Making space for beauty
Nature mulching
Growth is possible

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Posted in Happiness | Toning the Om