Archive for December, 2014

Time crunched? Try these mini meditations

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … and also the busiest. Thanks to nonstop holiday planning and prepping, along with the challenges of regular life, many of us feel like we don’t have any time for ourselves to just breathe. But that’s when carving out time for a peaceful moment (or two) is needed the most. With that in mind, I’ve created three micro meditations for the animal lover to help you through these stressful December days. If you have 60 seconds, you have time to be mindful, to de-stress … to meditate!

1. Awaken
Share this moment with your animal. Check in with your five senses and also your heart (emotion) to help you appreciate all details that exist right now. Tell your animal three things you are grateful for about them.

2. Ground
Sit or stand near your animal. Breathe in through your nose filling your entire body with beautiful healing light, all the way to your lower belly. Breathe out and expand this light out of your body and into the universe. Repeat 10 times. Invite your animal into this peaceful space.

3. Connect
See your heart as a beautiful light. See your animal’s heart as a beautiful light. Imagine your heart can expand out like a rainbow to your animal’s heart. Invite them to connect with you in that heart space for healing.

Tell me, how do you lift your state of mind when holiday stress rears its ugly tinseled head?

P.S. Three more mini meditations, and 10 tips for using art therapy to chill out.

Can meditation boost your career?

Friends, what are you up to this weekend? I am excited to be teaching a Reiki III class at Brighthaven over the next three days. As I prepare for my class, here are five things I’m feeling grateful for today …

1. Have you tried meditation? I meditate every single day and feel I would be lost without it. I’ve found that meditation helps me feel centered, connected and energized, not just in business but also with my family. And I’m not the only one: Apparently Jerry Seinfeld swears by twice-daily meditation, and even executives and tech entrepreneurs are starting to turn to meditation to boost their careers, packing increasingly popular meditation classes and conducting “mindful networking.” For some extra inspiration in your meditation practice, here are some helpful apps for meditation and mindfulness.

2. Art that honors animals: If you are lucky enough to live in London, the Here Today … exhibition at The Sorting Office is a must-see. The exhibition, which runs until December 17, explores eight different “chapters” related to environmental challenges, including “Human Footprint,” “Climate Change and Loss of Habitat” and “The Hunted.” Chapter 1 features a stunning series by Andy Warhol called Endangered Species, which he created in 1983 to highlight the plight of endangered animals.

Pop art illustration with colorful butterflies

Pop art butterflies

3. The backyard birds that tough it out through even the coldest of winters. But if you have a feeder, do you know the most nutritious seed to feed them? (Hint: It’s not the cheap bag of “filler seeds” you commonly find at the store.)

4. Innovators who rethink mundane objects in life-changing ways. I never even thought about this before, but imagine an eco-friendly alternative to the tea kettle that saves energy and doesn’t waste water! As designer and sustainability strategist Leyla Acaroglu pointed out in her 2013 TED talk, most people (65 percent of Brits surveyed) boil more water than needed in their teakettles. That wasted energy could literally light the streetlights of England for a night, Acaroglu says. The Miito rectifies that problem and just might replace the kettle someday.

5. The stack of books at my bedside that I can’t wait to read. I just finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants (loved it!). Next on my list: Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart by Lisa Rogak. Here’s a cool list of 11 other cozy winter reads.

A delicious (and easy!) quiche for veggie lovers

When my sister Kathleen and her daughter, Indigo, came out for a recent visit, I couldn’t wait to surprise her with my ultimate quiche. This special recipe is authentically French: My friend Christelle, who is French, was kind enough to share her mother’s recipe with me. Though I’ve tweaked it over the years, experimenting with different cheeses and fillings, I give all the credit for this delicious quiche to Christelle and her mother.

Christelle lives in a lovely seaside village in Brittany, France, and she cooked her mother’s quiche for me when I came for a visit a few years ago. We shared it on the most gorgeous, sunny beach imaginable. And even though the wind kept blowing sand into each bite, it still tasted divine.

The windy beach in Brittany, France, where we enjoyed our yummy quiche picnic.

The windy beach in Brittany, France, where we enjoyed our yummy quiche picnic.

Here is my vegetarian version of her quiche. It’s a perfect comfort food on a cold winter’s night, paired with a glass of red wine to warm the soul. Of course, feel free to change it up as needed; in fact, the next time Kathleen visits, I plan on trying this in a “crustless” version. Bon appétit!

What you’ll need:

1 ½ cups assorted veggies, roasted and coarsely chopped (just use your favorites)

1 pie crust (If homemade is too hard, Whole Foods sells a frozen crust, or you can use Pillsbury in a pinch)

5 slices of Colby-Jack cheese (or more if needed; swiss cheese works, too)

3 eggs

¾ cup sour cream

1 ½ cups milk

Salt and pepper to taste (I prefer Kosher salt)

Directions:

Unroll the crust into your quiche or pie dish. Layer the cheese slices onto the crust. Next, add your assorted chopped roasted veggies. (I like to use broccoli, thinly sliced potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini. Sometimes I even sprinkle a few spinach leaves on top.) In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, milk, and salt and pepper; next, pour this into the crust, over the cheese and veggies.

Bake at 450 °F for 45 minutes or until fully cooked.

P.S. Suggested wine pairings: A to Z Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Jadot.

What favorite comfort foods will help you get through this winter? Let us know!

{Photos © Charlotte Jensen}

Life lessons from my horse whisperer

Many of you know me as a horse person. It’s true—my favorite days are often those spent at the barn or in the dressage ring, caring for and riding my two horses Shawnee and Kodiak. But sometimes I have frustrating days where I just don’t understand my horses, and I can’t get through to them. For instance, Kodiak, the young one, is very pushy and strong-willed. And I admit it: At times I’ve been a complete pushover when working with him. I wanted things to change.

So imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity recently to work with Dean Voigt, a very talented horse trainer and clinician who trained with Ray Hunt, a pioneer in natural horsemanship. Voigt is an old-fashioned cowboy and a true natural when working with horses, and I now think of him as real-life “horse whisperer.” His approach is “using communication rather than intimidation to achieve positive changes in preparing a horse to accept the saddle and a rider.” And it works!

Voigt has taught me many helpful strategies over the past several months (we now work together once every four to six weeks), but here are three lessons that stand out in particular. Keep in mind these lessons have helped me not just with my horses, but also with my Reiki business and life in general:

1. The problem isn’t always what you think. As I mentioned earlier, my horse Kodiak is dominant, strong and willful; he often doesn’t listen to me. He can be so feisty sometimes that I almost stop breathing. My instincts have always been, “He’s being bad!” but luckily Voigt set me straight. After working with Kodiak, he said, “Your horse has a very high play drive. If you can make what you do with him a game—make it fun—he will do anything for you.” I took those words to heart and now when Kodiak challenges me or gets high energy, instead of fearing him I reframe it in my mind as respectfully playing with each other. Now I’ll smile and say, “Oh, do you want to play today?” and channel his energy in a positive way. Voigt helped me realize that Kodiak wasn’t being mean; he just wanted to play. Now that I understand the intention behind his strength and energy, I can finally enjoy it (and make strides we couldn’t before).

2. Remember the important role emotions play. Again and again, Voigt has pointed out to me (and to the other participants at the barn) that a lot of the problems we have with our horses have to do with emotions, either ours or those of our horse: fear, frustration and confusion, for example. Voigt has shown us that once you can heal that emotional part, then everything else will come together. He helps you to realize what’s really going on so you can move past it. He’s kind of like a therapist in that way.

3. Create a state of being that is peaceful and calm. Voigt gets results by achieving this in the ring, and it’s also something I’ve noticed in my work with animals and Reiki. When I watch Voigt work with the horses, I can see that he understands the language of energy and speaks it to our horses. He’ll stand there and barely move his pinkie, and the horse will know exactly what he was saying.

I saw him with some really fearful horses once and he stood there really calm, like a rock. No matter what the animals were doing, he didn’t react to it. He was just calm, quiet and gentle. And within 30 seconds, these horses were like, well, he’s not scared, so why am I expending all this energy? And then they came over and stood with him. And that’s what we do with Reiki: How do we bring our meditation and calmness to every moment, even when the animal is being difficult?

I always say, “Be Reiki with your animal; don’t DO Reiki to your animal.” That’s why Voigt is so successful. He creates a state of being that is peaceful and calm, and that really heals any problem he has with an animal. His presence is very much a healing presence.

Horsey friends, what life lesson have you learned from working with your horses?

 

HOLD YOUR HORSES!

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