Archive for February, 2015

5 mindfulness lessons from our animals

Sometimes when looking at my dog, I notice how mindfulness appears to come so naturally to her. She doesn’t carry the weight of the world on her shoulders (OK, she’s a dog–of course she doesn’t!). But we can learn a thing or two from these mindfulness masters, our favorite cats and dogs.

Over the years, in my animal Reiki work with animals and also after spending so much time with my own animals, it has occurred to me that important examples in mindfulness exist right before my eyes, every single day. My animals live in this special mindful space we humans are always trying to reach (but rarely get there). It’s so hard to “be mindful” when that same mind is filled with worries for the day, responsibilities for loved ones, tasks to accomplish and so on.

So whenever I start to feel overwhelmed (and therefore less mindful), I think about these lessons in mindfulness we can all learn from our animals:

1. Embrace the moment right now. When Mystic is sprawled in the sun for a nap or on a walk, she’s not worrying about her next vet visit or wondering if another dog is going to turn the corner at any moment (these are two things she does not enjoy). Her mind is free and open to wander, since she’s not stuck inside thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow. She’s able to fully surrender to and enjoy each moment. Looking back on my life, when I’m able to really “be” in the moment, I feel so good. It’s easier to be strong, centered and my true self when I remember to just “be.” Though a to-do list often looms in my head, I try to remind myself that if I’m following Mystic’s lead and losing track of time doing something fun, that means I’m doing it right!

2. Don’t just take your dog for a walk; embrace the walk the way your dog does. Be curious and notice the small details and sights, sounds and smells, like: the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, the feeling of the sun on your skin, the salty beach air and so on. When you focus on the beautiful world around you, there isn’t as much room for worry or anxiety.

3. Be silly and have fun! Mystic doesn’t always take herself so seriously. Sometimes, she’s happy to play and romp around like a puppy. Just yesterday she was leaping like a gazelle through the tall grass on a hike. I swear she was smiling! We all can remember from childhood how good that can feel, and it’s another way for us to connect with that mindful space.

4. Do something new today. Reliving routines over and over again allows our mind to slip into old patterns. We don’t have to give our full attention because we’ve seen it or done it a million times before. The result? Our mind might wander to past or future worries instead of noticing the moment right now. But when we’re doing a new activity, it forces us to focus on the moment at hand. For Mystic, this might mean chasing a lizard instead of a squirrel. For me, it could mean taking a new trail for our walk, using an alternate route on my drive or trying a new café instead of going to the same favorite places over and over again.

5. Savor your favorite things; don’t multitask. This one can be especially difficult! But Mystic has it down pat. When she gets a new treat (peanut butter flavor is her favorite) or a few bites of something I have baked (she loves muffins!), she’s 100 percent there, savoring every last morsel. When was the last time I enjoyed my tea without also watching TV or checking the computer? I can’t even remember the last time. I’m going to try this tonight! I guess when I eat chocolate: That’s a time when I remember to savor.

What lessons in mindfulness have your animals taught you?


Happy Heart Day from Kathleen and Charlotte, the “sister team” at It’s a Heartful Life 

From Kathleen …

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers: students, Reiki friends and animal-loving supporters. Thank you for being a part of our Heartful Life community. Today is a day where we celebrate love in all its many forms, and today I want to celebrate a very special person in my life whom I love, and who also makes this blog so beautiful: a talented writer, mommy to a toddler and a Persian: my best friend, my number-one cheerleader, my beautiful sister, Charlotte.

Our sister history as Kathleen remembers it …

I have two amazing sisters and I am the oldest! I was only 4 years old when Charlotte was born. I still remember my parents bringing her home on Halloween. It almost seemed like she was just part of my mom’s costume! 🙂 But no, she was there to stay. Over the years we have seen each other through thick and thin. We have laughed and cried together, and laughed till we cried together. We used to fight, too, when we were small. I’m not sure she will ever forgive me for ripping her Ghostbusters nightgown once in an early morning scuffle. 🙂 But as we grew, our age differences faded and we became close friends! It seems we never run out of things to talk about, and we share a deep love for animals and nature. Happy Valentine’s Day to my dear sister! My deepest gratitude for all your support over the years!

From Charlotte …

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! And very special Valentine’s Day wishes to my big sis Kathleen. I am thrilled to be working with her on the Heartful Life blog, a project we literally talked about launching for years. In my “former life” working in the corporate world, I spent more than a decade talking to successful entrepreneurs, sharing their stories and curating topics to inspire business owners nationwide. And then my sister became one: She dove headfirst into entrepreneurship. I’m so happy our sister bond and love of animals (OK, and technology!) now allow us to work together across the miles and time zones.

Our sister history as Charlotte remembers it …

As the middle child, I am so lucky to have two wonderful sisters! Of course my big sis Kathleen has been there for me since our mom brought me home from the hospital on Halloween (even before my earliest memories!). We played so much together that by age 3, I remember missing her so much when she went to school each day. We fought sometimes but had a lot of fun, too. And then when she went off to college when I was 14, here I was missing her all over again, just like when I was little! As we got older, we’ve been able to travel together to Vegas, Miami, Seattle and even Hawaii. (We hope Europe is next one of these days!) The visits are fewer now that I’ve left California, but we’re always looking forward to our next time together. So here is a virtual Valentine’s hug to Kathleen, who was with me the day I adopted a special kitty named Sterling, who has great shopping karma (since I always find something amazing when she’s with me), who’s a great listener and supporter for me always, and who makes the best chocolate-chip cookies (just like our grandma’s). Xoxo!

Reiki shared … 

Several years ago, Charlotte’s cat Sterling (RIP sweet boy) became very ill with polycystic kidney disease (PKD). To support his healing, Kathleen taught Charlotte Reiki, and Reiki became an important part of Sterling’s wellness program. Charlotte also learned firsthand about Kathleen’s work in helping people help their animals through meditation.

sleeping2 (Large)

Charlotte’s cat Sterling

Why did we start blogging?

Charlotte worked for many years as a magazine journalist and has always shared her talents in support of Kathleen’s writing projects. Unfortunately, we live far apart—Kathleen in California and Charlotte in Indiana—but we talk on the phone almost every day. We are so excited to be finally working on a project together—one where we can combine our energy and enthusiasm in honor and love of animals. Plus, it’s another excuse to talk on the phone or Skype!

The future of this blog …

We want to share the love every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. If it’s good news and has to do with animals, we will find it! Stay tuned for more reasons why it’s a heartful life!

{Photos © Charlotte Jensen}

Fun ways to celebrate animals this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s is a great reminder every year to celebrate those you love … including the furry kind. Here are six fun (and unexpected!) ways for animal lovers to celebrate this weekend:

♥ Love this! This year’s batch of Sweethearts heart candies have some cute new messages, including “pugs & kittens.” The sweet expression was created by a sixth-grader in California who loves animals. She won a contest held by NECCO to include the phrase on this year’s candies.


Soul smoothies: nourish and flourish!

Making green smoothies and juicing are all the rage these days. In fact, I make a green drink for my family every single morning to get us going! After I nourish my body, it’s time to think about what I’m going to pour into my spirit for the day.

What we experience each day is like food for our spirit. What we pour into our hearts and minds is what we choose as our “soul” diet. With all the negative stories and images in the news and on the internet, I want to share my favorite Heartful Life remedy to get your soul back on track and flourishing!

New food trend: faux fish

Dear friends, what are you up to this weekend? Tomorrow and Sunday I am excited to be teaching Reiki 2 at BrightHaven (though we will miss little Joey so, so much). Here are a few interesting and important links from around the web of things I’m grateful for today:

1. A vegetarian alternative to fish: Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, overfishing and mercury levels are real problems when it comes to consuming your favorite fish, whether it’s ahi, bluefin or even unagi. Now enterprising chefs and companies across the nation are experimenting with savory, visually appetizing alternatives to your favorite fish dishes. Vegan options and veggie-based foods like “tomato sushi” (which looks and supposedly tastes like the real thing) are starting to roll out. Though demand is still small, I love this idea and can’t wait to try some of these products. Read more here on the flourishing faux-fish trend.


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