stress less. #MeditationThoughtMondays

stress less

That’s great advice… but, um, how can you possibly “stress less” when life is hectic? My meditation students never fail to ask, “When am I supposed to give time to sitting around and meditating during the day?”

You might not have twenty extra minutes in a day to experience the stress relieving benefits of meditation.  But, when time is precious, do you have extra minutes in a day to GIVE To Stress? Stress steals moments.  Stress steals your ability to be effective, efficient, and compassionate.  Because your body is most concerned with survival, it doesn’t have time to be concerned with anything else, even staying healthy.  You can read more about stress and your immune response here.

Stress is a normal physiological response to, well, just about everything in your current environment.  Your body does not discriminate between physical stress and emotional stress: it reacts to both by releasing the same hormones and vamping up your sympathetic nervous system to all stimuli– real, imagined, positive, or negative.

During April, National Stress Awareness Month (yes, one more thing for you to stress over forgetting!), my Introduction to Meditation Workshops at Westport Yoga have been packed.  The best part?  In between our afternoon Sunday sessions my students have shared with me inspiring stories about how a one-minute morning meditation has reduced their daily stress levels.  Kara told me how she didn’t even get upset when her car was rear ended at a red stop light because she was practicing Mindful Breathing.  (I assigned the homework called “Red Light Breathing” to encourage students to stay mindful even during a stressful commute!) That’s extreme; I’d still get upset if my unsuspecting Subaru was hit by some knucklehead who was driving too fast.  But Kara’s Red Light Breathing must be super powerful.

Even one minute of mindful breathing can reduce stress and create relaxation in the body.   Whether you have one minute, or sixteen years, here are 9 tips you can utilize to reduce your stress level and lead a happier life.  (Number 9 is my favorite!)

The following was featured in Outside Magazine’s October 2014 Issue.  You can read the full article here.  It was written by Eric Beresini



If you have: “10 Seconds: Laugh

Even just anticipating a chuckle is enough to relieve stress and elevate hormones that combat depression and boost immunity.

If you have: 5 Minutes: 
Chew Gum

Chewing two sticks a day for two weeks can fight off anxiety and fatigue and improve mood.

If you have: 15 Minutes: 

Research has shown that a quarter of an hour of guided meditation performed in the office can kick psychological and physiological markers of stress. You don’t need someone in the flesh to help lead your thoughts; UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center offers free weekly meditation podcasts to download or stream.

If you have: 30 Minutes: 
Go for a Run

Five days a week at a moderate pace of around ten minutes per mile can boost your mood, concentration, and sleep quality—not to mention your cardiovascular health and muscle tone.

If you have: 45 Minutes: 
Take a Nap

A 45-to-60-minute daytime snooze boosts your cardiovascular system, bringing spiked blood pressure back down to normal.


yoga and movement help reduce stress.  check out Lisa’s yoga teaching schedule here.


If you have: 90 Minutes: Stretch It Out

Studies have shown that yoga relieves tension in everyone from medical students to flood survivors. Ninety minutes twice a week erases anxiety and replaces it with calm, though sessions half that long can also work. (Check out Lisa’s full yoga teaching schedule here.)

If you have: 1 Day: Walk in the Woods

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term meaning “walking or staying in forests to promote health.” Just a day in the wild, researchers have found, is enough to reduce stress, even in chronic sufferers.

 If you have: 1 Year: Move to Switzerland

The country topped the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Better Life Index for life satisfaction. A strong sense of community, high life expectancy, and low unemployment make the Swiss life sweet. That and your in-laws probably don’t live there.

If you have:16 Years: 
Get a Dog

A pup will lower your blood pressure and generally improve your psychological well-being. And bringing it to the office can increase job satisfaction.”  – Eric Beresini  You can read the full article here

Russell Ash being coy

Every time you come home, your dog will welcome you with open arms, no matter how stressed you are.  You should get one.  

Which of these tips can you utilize tomorrow?  Which one is your favorite?

(I’m sure you have time to stress less.  I can’t imagine you have time to stress more.)

Happy Living,


stress less

vacate. daily. #MeditationThoughtMondays


vacate daily


Try this: Every day you wake up, consider it a vacation.

A colleague gave me this idea a few weeks ago and I’ve been trying it since.  On a vacation, I wake up feeling cozy in bed full of lush pillows and I think: “Today is going to be a perfect day.”

On a vacation, I consider my list of ‘activities that constitute a perfect day’ and choose a few of those activities.  I wake up with a smile and cuddle up on the couch with a good cup of coffee; I read a good book that challenges my mind; I take a leisurely walk and find something beautiful to appreciate; I savor the act of preparing a delicious, healthy meal; I spend moments laughing with someone I love.

Fall 2010 024

i truly love my lake house getaways

Generally, when I think about my ‘perfect vacation day’ I’m at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Southern Missouri with my girlfriends.  Free from tv, internet and phone distractions, I love to get up early and practice yoga on the dock as the sun rises and then spend the day laughing with my best friends.

I hike, I enjoy nature, I eat chips and salsa, I read a novel, I sit around in my pajamas, I laugh; in short: I feel nourished.  It’s the perfect day.

So, what if I thought of EVERY DAY as a vacation?  Instead of getting all worked up and thinking: “I have SO MUCH to get done today!”  and thus inciting anxiety over the ample workload and not-so-ample time to complete it… I could think “I’m going to get my work finished in a timely manner and find a moment or two to vacate.”

I haven’t perfected this technique yet, but it’s working a little bit.  I’ve noticed that when I think of every day as a vacation, I’m actually more productive.  And I still take a few moments to ‘vacate’ daily. Currently, those moments of vacation are the 4 minutes it takes me to water my herb garden. I do it with care, thinking of this time not as a chore, but as a celebration of nature.  Those moments of vacation are the times I stop on my walk with my RussellClive and enjoy my neighbor’s daffodils.  The daily walk could be considered a chore, but instead it’s a vacation.  I haven’t figured out how to incorporate washing to dishes into this ‘perfect vacation day’ but maybe one day that won’t feel like a chore either.

One of my favorite poems suggests that every day can be a perfect vacation.

“On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.  Today is such a day.”

I challenge you to consider what makes YOUR perfect ‘vacation day?”  

1.  Make a List of all things you like to do on vacation.

2.  Tomorrow, choose to do one of those things.

3.  Tomorrow, ‘vacate’ the stress of your every day routine for 1 minute.    Wake up and think: “Today is like a vacation!  I’ll still do all my work, but it’s going to be perfect!”

If you don’t know where to start, at least start by sitting still for one minute and draw more light into your life.

How was your vacation?  I’d love to hear about it.

Happy vacating,