There are many definitions of mindfulness, many of which point to the same essence, and have many of the same components. The definition I work with is the practice of being in the present moment, with both compassion and non-judgmental awareness.

Another helpful definition I’ve read recently is the practice of allowing whatever is present, to be present. What this gets at is how often we aren’t here for whatever is present – whether our experience is unpleasant, pleasant, or neutral.

So, when we’re having difficult emotions like anger, sorrow, resentment, irritation –

We’re often adverse to these feelings and turn away from them. Or when we’re experiencing something pleasant, we’re often scheming about how to keep the experience or get more of it, and not simply enjoying what we have at that moment. Say it’s a sunset we are enjoying: we might wonder when we’ll see another like it, or who we can tell about it, or that awesome sunset we saw last year. And in this way not be totally present to the sunset in front of us, robbing ourselves of the fullness of the experience.

Neutral moments we might not notice at all. Neutral moments are important because when we notice them, we begin to see we aren’t having bad things happen to us all the time, as sometimes it seems when we’re caught in depression, or grief, or maybe caught in cycles of anger, or whatever it may be (for a perfect encapsulation of this, by Mary Jean Irion, go here:


Turning back to the first definition I cited: The practice of being in the present moment, with both compassion and non-judgmental awareness.

The word practice is a vital part of mindfulness. Just like we say practicing medicine, or a law; or perhaps, going to soccer practice or softball or band practice; or practicing yoga – just like we practice anything to get better – mindfulness too is a practice. Like anything else, as we practice and notice good results, we want to practice more. And just like the pros still practice, so too, the masters. The practice of mindfulness is a necessity if we wish to further our understanding and abilities to remain in the present moment.

What’s so great about the present moment? And why ever would we want to be with sorrow or irritation or fear?

How many of us miss parts of conversations because our minds have wandered? Or perhaps we’ve been walking in the woods, and we wake up to the fact, we can’t remember the scenery from the last mile? How many things do we miss every day? The smile of a child, a beautiful sky, dogs playing, flowers growing along the road…. With mindfulness, we can begin to wake up to what’s here, all the time if we are aware enough to see it. And why would we want to be with an unpleasant emotion? Because what we resist, persists. Only by working with what’s right here, can we manage to work through it. Mindfulness provides the tools and techniques to do so. And when we are experiencing a beautiful emotion, mindfulness helps us to notice and deepen these experiences, which helps foster these emotions and invite their reoccurrence.

So, the practice of being in the present moment. Which we do with compassion and non-judgmental awareness. We need to be kind to ourselves as we practice, and as many of us know, allowing the self-critic to tell us how we are failing, doesn’t help, and often hurts.

So we practice being in the present moment, with whatever is here. And to do this, we need to be both compassionate with ourselves and others – and for best results, we do this without the judging mind. It’s important that we don’t judge our experience as this compresses us – compresses our ability to be here, just as we are. Thus when we notice we are judging our experience or ourselves or others (as we will), we do not wish to judge the judging. This is where compassion can really be helpful – we can bring kindness to the noticing, kindness to the judging, kindness to the experience.

Mindfulness helps us become aware of our moment to moment experience – whether that’s what’s happening in our minds, or in the world around us. Eventually, with practice, we will become more and more awake to our moment to moment experience and be able to live from a less distracted and less reactive place. In doing so, we can live more often in the freedom of now, instead of the sorrows of the past, the anxieties of the future, or the turmoil of emotions that can arise from our imaginings.

The Buddha said, “I would not teach this if it were not possible.” As a student, I’ve come to know that mindfulness does work, and continues to do so. Am I in the moment all the time? Absolutely not. Which should give hope – I reap the benefits of mindfulness without living awake in many of my moments. You too can reap the benefits; to do so, bring openness, curiosity, the intention to practice, and the discipline to practice. Join me in finding what’s possible.

Looking to learn more about Mindfulness? Register for the upcoming class. Class starts March 20th.

3 Things That Can Help You Decompress Your Stress


Checklist= adopt a Qigong practice, get your Reiki on, teach somebody something you love :)

1) Allow yourself to explore the ancient practice of Qigong.

Some have referred to Qigong as "medicinal movement" (see Dr. Mercola's article using this term here ). If you have a hard time settling your mind, when you add your desire to meditate to good posture and proper breathing, you find that the mind will settle on its own. That's just getting started in a Qigong practice; there are so many physical and mental/emotional benefits to be gained from Eastern healing exercises like Qigong, Yoga and Tai Chi- and positive results are shown over and again in medical research. Most Qigong movement classes are inexpensive, and you don't have to buy a lot of equipment to begin; once you get going, even 5-15 minutes a day can produce dramatic stress relief, so why not give it a try?

I am excited to announce that I am being given the opportunity to teach a free mini Qigong course for three weeks on Wednesday evenings at the Madison Community Center in January. This class is only a short term commitment and is coming up fast- come out and bring a friend to experience this with you.

If you are unable to find room in your busy schedule for this class, don't fret- more chances are available- check out the newest classes offered at Nashville Community Education. Registration for their Spring Session is now open online, or you may call them at: 615-298-8050. The dynamic staff at NCE is dedicated to the pursuit of lifelong learning and continues to expand their reach throughout the city. I know of two great energy healing classes that are being presented among their super interesting course selections during the spring 2019 session at the Cohn Adult Learning Center and in Madison. Look on page 14 *hint, hint*.

2) Make self-healing part of your "Ideal" life. Allow yourself to consider that self-care is healthcare.

Reiki Natural Healing can be a simple and powerful part of a self-care routine and it is easy to learn.

We all have the capacity to do healing work, whether the aim is to become a professional healer, or to use our super powers informally to help the people around us, our pets or ourselves. It isn't even hard, once you allow yourself the possibility. The only requirements for beginning Reiki training are a sincere desire to learn it and an open Heart/Mind. Like many of the Eastern Healing Arts, the first thing a student learns is to heal him or herself.

What is Reiki like? Here's a perspective on what Reiki is like:

Carla Trujillo, Sedona based Reiki Master/Teacher

The Reiki Ideals form the ethical backbone for Reiki practitioners worldwide. There are many variations translated from the Japanese, but the actual origin of these principles remains debatable and hence, a mystery. Their meaning taken together is a powerful practice of self-healing. William Lee Rand, a well-known Reiki Master has written an article on the possible origins of these principles, if you would like to read it here. The first level of Reiki training usually includes memorizing these precepts and using them as part of a healing meditation, but, I like to encourage students to personalize them, once they begin to understand the intent behind them. Words spoken from the truth in your very own Heart are always more powerful. The guidance from these values is not meant to suggest that we can eliminate anger, worry, cruelty, or ingratitude- these are all emotions that are very natural for each of us. The trick to happy living, or to be more content with life's circumstances, is to learn how to "touch and release"- acknowledge when these emotions come up, but don't get hooked in for too long.


3) Use some of your time to teach somebody something you love to do. Allow yourself to trust in the value of the things you share and believe in.

As Booker T. Washington once said, "Living is the art of Loving. Loving is the art of caring. Caring is the art of sharing. Sharing is the art of living. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."

There are at least two reasons why I love teaching:

1) It helps me deepen my learning and practice. I probably learn more from my students than they do from me in many ways.

2) I love seeing other people be as profoundly affected by these healing practices as I was from the beginning and continue to be every day.

For the past 5 years, I have had the wonderful privilege of being able to share the practices of Qigong movement and Reiki Natural Healing. Volunteering at Fifty Forward and teaching for Nashville Community Education has given me great opportunities. I am so grateful for both organizations and their outreach to serve the best and highest good for the whole community of Nashville, Tennessee. If you are interested in teaching or volunteering with either group, click their links to find out how to get involved. You'll be very glad you did.

"When one teaches, two learn." Robert Heinlein