Saturday, May 14, 2011

Discovering your personal bliss

In New Orleans recently, a friend of mine experienced what he described as one of the top ten best moments of his life. We were in Café du Monde in New Orleans during the wee hours of the morning, enjoying beignets and café au lait.  My friend’s wife noticed an employee had rolled the largest mixing bowl we’d ever seen into the room where we sat – and then walked away. It seemed that we hit Café Du Monde at perhaps its quietest hour, and the staff were in the process of cleaning. The mixing bowl seemed next in line.

To say that my friend is a “fan” of raw dough would be an understatement. While we may all enjoy a little raw cookie dough or brownie batter from time to time, he delights in all raw dough.  His eyes absolutely lit up to see this giant bowl before us. Within the bowl remained some of New Orleans classic beignet dough, a pastry favorite in the French Quarter. My friend walked over to the bowl and scraped out a spoonful for his enjoyment. He was absolutely giddy with his discovery and savored every tiny morsel of his find.  He was ecstatic. His joy sprang from the combination of tasting one of his favorite things (pastry dough) and the purely random experience of getting to “steal” it in the middle of the night from a giant bowl the kitchen staff happened to wheel within ten feet of us. He was delirious with joy.

The experiences that create bliss for each person are so unique.  None of the rest of us felt inspired to taste the dough ourselves and may have even been a bit incredulous at his response. However, witnessing him experience so much bliss at this find – and hearing him describe his delight with such emphatic, wide-eyed enthusiasm – had us all smiling and often hysterical with laughter for hours to come.

Watching him giggle about how much fun he had taking the dough and how much pleasure he experienced tasting it, I wondered to myself, “What could I do at this moment in time that could give me the same incredible high? What could delight me to the tips of my toes such that I would dance a jig in celebration?”

I didn’t figure it out that night, nor have I since returning home a few days ago. But the question lingers. In my mind’s eye, I can still see my happy, happy friend giggling and as full of joy as I’ve ever seen another person. And I wonder.  . . What simple act could I do that could bring me so much bliss? And if I knew what it was, if the desire surfaced spontaneously within me in a simple moment of time, could I allow myself to do it? 

Entering each new moment of each new day, may we all discover and embrace whatever opportunities arise to experience our personal bliss. Enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring nourishment... by Guest Blog Writer Tracie Nichols

Spring is a time when nature’s returning abundance reminds us how well nourished we can be by our relationship with the rich and loving Earth. In the spring we have the chance to work with the energies of season and place to sweep away dusty habits and thoughts, finding the bright shoots of new nurturing practices for ourselves. Through our relationship with nature we are encouraged to ground deeply. We are prompted to remember our intrinsically wild nature...our deeply embedded need for the rhythmic patterns of stillness and movement our bodies remember, but our minds often forget.

As a practitioner supporting the well being of clients & patients, this relationship with the natural world offers you firm ground to stand on as you do your work. It helps ease feelings of isolation, connect you more deeply with your intuition, and discover a powerful spiritual expression. I’m speaking from personal experience. I live immersed in a flow of conscious relationship and communication with the natural world, and that keeps me grounded and centered, clear and focused. It helps me find a balance among the demands of my day as a business owner, educator, consultant, wife and mother, and spiritual woman on an ever expanding journey.

I bridge people and nature, teaching awareness practices co-created with the energies of nature. These practices offer people ways to reclaim that relationship for themselves. This vibrant spring, I’d like to share a simple awareness practice with you. I invite you to gift yourself with this experience of grounding into the compassion and gratitude radiating from the Earth daily, when you first wake up or when you are preparing to sleep. You and the natural world have so much to offer each other, truly!

• Sit or lay comfortably. Allow yourself to turn off technological distractions.

• Bring your awareness to your breath, inhaling gently for about 8 seconds, and exhaling gently for about 10 seconds. Continue focusing on your breath until this breathing pattern feels comfortable (usually just a few more breaths).

• With each exhalation allow your loving awareness to flow through your body toward the Earth - visualize roots finding their way into the soil, if it helps.

• With each inhalation notice that you can sense a loving, compassionate awareness from the Earth - visualize roots reaching out and touching yours - nourishment flowing between you, if it helps.

• Breathe into this growing sense of connection, allowing it to expand, feeling it in your body, knowing it in your heart.

• Notice how still and deep this feels. Notice how your breath softens. Notice how your sense of belonging grows, here, in this connected state of being. You are nourishing and being nourished, You are loving and being loved.

• Breathe here until you feel complete.

• Offer gratitude. Repeat often. Share liberally.

Tracie Nichols, M.A. teaches people how to fall in love with themselves falling in love with the Earth again. She teaches how to lovingly transform the lovingly transforming themselves. Her work transforms the pain & anxiety of isolation, of not belonging, into grounded peace and vibrant living by helping people remember their intrinsic, intuitive relationship with the land. She does this through private consultations, classes, public speaking and writings. Tracie invites you to connect with her through her website, or by email at