“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Tranquil Meditation Garden

About a year and a half ago, I met a lovely woman in town by the name of Pat Caputo. Pat is the owner and founder of, a company that provides quilling supplies to people worldwide. In fact, Pat’s been called the Mother of Quilling in North America because of her dedication to building her business as a service to others and of course because of her beautiful creations.

It was during our initial meeting and video interview that I learned that over the course of more than a dozen years, Pat had been creating a meditation garden in her backyard. It all began one year when her husband suffered some back problems and complications associated with them, and she wanted a clear a space in the woods in her back yard to practice Tai Chi.

Over the years, little by little, Pat relocated pine trees and rocks from other areas of the woods and she brought in new plants like a bamboo tree, a twisted pine, plants from friends, and clippings from the yard that happily planted roots in their new home under the forest canopy. She even created a mossy carpet by planting plugs of moss that spread and covered the forest floor. These days, Pat sits out on the bamboo bench with her dogs and reads or enjoys a cup of tea. You can see her garden in the video below:

At one of the entrances to the garden, Pat built a fishpond with several fish, including a coy that’s survived through many winters in its home and that has grown quite large. The pond was once a breakfast stop for a Blue Heron; however, now, a replica stands watch at a number of locations to keep the large birds from stopping by for a meal.

The sound of the water traveling into a smaller pond inside the garden to a smaller pond where a resident frog likes to hang out adds a soothing quality to the tranquil surroundings. I strongly believe in the healing power of the energetic life force generated by the Earth and the trees and they provide the most beneficial atmosphere to escape from the stress of everyday life and decompress. This is why I wanted to share Pat’s garden with you–and so did she. Because it’s a place to quiet and cleanse the mind, calm the body, and rejuvenate the spirit.

It’s so important for each of us to find our own version of Pat’s meditation garden where we can regularly hide out. For me, it's sitting on the back porch, either early in the morning, or later in the day when it's shaded, with an inspirational book. For you, it may be napping in a hammock, reading a book at a local park, a walk, or strolling along quiet beach. Whatever it is, it’s equally as important as a healthy diet to staying healthy, strong, focused, and calm.

What is this place for you?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Joy Loves Company

The other day, I joined a group of fellow yoga practitioners on a field trip to Laurel Ridge Farm in Northfield, CT to visit the daffodil field. Our lovely and inspiring yoga instructor, Amy, organized the trip because she is a regular visitor of the field and wanted to share its beauty with our group.

The word field is an understatement since the backdrop for the daffodils was a beautiful rolling hill, complete with trees and rock walls, and a calm lake with a daffodil island in the middle. A good portion of the hill was blanketed with several varieties of daffodils. Although the field is private property, the owners welcome visitors and the initial flowers were originally planted in 1941 based on the inspiration of a William Wordsworth poem. You can see the trip in this video:

This was the first time in over a year of practicing in Simsbury that I’ve been on a group outing and it was nice for so many reasons. Firstly, it was refreshing to see everyone clean and dressed, as opposed to half undressed and sweaty, which is normally how we hang out together.

Second, it was fun to share something other than yoga with each other and the daffodil field provided a lovely, peaceful atmosphere to share with such a fun and dedicated group of people. There’s something so galvanizing about “doing the work” together, knowing that we’re all struggling or challenged at times, yet we continue to come back for more because we experience the benefits.

Yes, the yoga has certainly helped us develop a sense of community, which makes it even more fun to spend time outside of our normal stomping grounds. The lovely atmosphere, the beautiful, warm day, the pretty blue sky, the fragrant flowers all made our time together a true gift.

We finished our field trip with a delicious and healthy lunch at @ The Corner, a quaint country-ish restaurant in the center of Litchfield. It was the perfect atmosphere to celebrate the day and the birthday of Laurie, one of the owners of the yoga studio. We also made a toast to her and her life and business partner, Richard who were recently engaged.

By the way, Laurel Ridge Farm also raises grass fed beef that can be purchased through the farm.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Breathe Life into Your Dreams

I have been a Bikram Yoga practitioner for over four years and I believe it is one of the reasons that I have never felt better in my life. It’s an extreme test of strength, balance, focus, patience, and acceptance and it has helped me to grow personally, both in and outside of the yoga studio.

About fifteen months ago, I began taking classes at Bikram Yoga in the Valley~Simsbury and have been a dedicated client ever since. Why is that you ask? Because the owners, Richard Mercer and Laurie Krause have created something so special that I am grateful to have the opportunity to practice there.

In the video below, Richard shares with us what inspired him to open the yoga studio and his rationale for its design. You will also have the opportunity to see the studio and what makes it so special.

What wow’d me about the studio is that Richard seemed to think of everything. How did this happen? His intention was to create a place where he would want to practice everyday and he set out to eliminate as many variables as possible for having a bad class. This way, he could focus on his physical and mental status rather than whether there’s enough fresh air in the room. And setting a high standard for himself meant that he would be offering the same high standard to his clients.

This idea made me think that as a new business owner, if I were my own client, how would I want to be treated? I find this idea very useful for breathing life into my current dream of building my practice as a holistic health coach.

And for someone who is very sensitive to air quality and feels that the foundation of this yoga practice rests on breathing, Richard’s attention to the atmosphere especially got my attention. You can listen to Richard talk about his journey to opening the studio and to see it in the video below:

For example, the floor, walls, and ceiling are all well-insulated to keep the room humid and warm, and the heating system is green in that it transfers the heat from the air leaving the building to the new, fresh air that is being drawn into the room, helping to conserve heat and save money.

There is also continuous air flow in the room, which helps provide a continuous supply of oxygen as well as encourage sweat evaporation. This allows us to stay heated yet feel a sense of coolness, which relieves some of the distress associated with prolonged exposure to the heat.

There’s even an ionization system in the room to keep it “smell-free” and the carpet resists microbes as well. Mirrors on three walls give us more opportunities to check our form and there are lots of windows up high to bring in natural light without being distracting.

When class isn’t in session, calming music floats through the room, making it the perfect place for meditation or simply breathing. And the lobby area is a warm and welcoming community space where everyone can relax and learn from one another.

In addition, the studio has attracted some wonderful people, which has only added to the allure of an already pleasant atmosphere. So if you’re ever in the Simsbury, CT area and would like to try a Bikram yoga class, I encourage you to visit Bikram Yoga in the Valley~Simsbury. I believe it’s what the Bikram yoga experience is supposed to be…

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Healing Yourself

It’s something to be thankful for when you can say that you’re blessed with the perfect ensemble of support people in your life–your friends, hairdresser, doctor, dentist, trainer, coaches, massage therapist, etc. It’s not always easy to find the perfect fit and it can sometimes take years of trial and error. Well, I’m happy to say that I may just be there.

In holding with my tradition this year : ) I would like to introduce to you another amazing person in my life, my massage therapist, Suranto Stark. In my opinion, Suranto is one of the best, and he’s given me several massages over the last several months that have been nothing short of astounding.

But that’s not why I want you to meet Suranto. The reason he’s here is because of what he has personally accomplished in healing his own injuries with his own hands, his intuition, and his determination. Not only that, Suranto wants to share his knowledge and techniques with others, so what better way to help him with this process than to introduce him to all of you!

Suranto grew up in Java, Indonesia as the son of sharecroppers. When not in school, he was working the farm without the use of mules or wagons to move farm produce, which meant that he and his family would carry their loads on their heads. Among other things, their cargo would be anything from corn, cassava, coconuts, or firewood and Suranto was carrying adult-sized loads even as a child.

Although there was a hospital nearby, Western medicine was not typically practiced in Suranto’s village, except for extreme conditions. The most common method of medicine and healing was to go to a healer for medicinal herbs and for literally hands-on treatment that often involved massage. Suranto’s first experience with healing was walking on his parents’ back when they weren’t feeling well.

Suranto referred to this method of healing as “human resources”, which I love because it describes perfectly the power we all possess but that many of us have forgotten.

Several years after coming to the United States, Suranto was pulled by the healing arts and enrolled into massage school. He also studied with a Thai master and his first patient was actually his wife, who he helped heal after a knee replacement.

Not long afterwards, he was diagnosed with cervical, bilateral, herniated discs. After having no luck with physical therapy and not wanting to undergo surgery, Suranto decided to try to heal himself. So, for three months, he carried out a series of very simple stretches and movements designed to stretch and elongate his neck.

When he went back to his orthopedic physician, he was congratulated because he had healed himself. He also recently healed a full-thickness tear of his right rotator cuff in a similar manner and now, Suranto would like to teach others his simple techniques that are also beneficial for eliminating the pains, tightness, kinks, and knots that accumulate throughout our stressful days.

To hear Suranto tell the story of his upbringing and his training and experience, watch Part 1 of How to Heal Yourself with Your Own Hands.

In Parts 2 and 3 (coming soon), Suranto demonstrates his techinques and shows how to use a few simple tools to enhance the healing process.

I hope you all enjoy! Peace and lots of love!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I've Seen the Light

As you all know, we are all going through our own journeys in life. Oftentimes, we don’t understand what we’re going through or why we’re going through it, or how much control we have over our circumstances. So when we get confused or when the going gets tough, we sometimes give up or leave things in the hands of fate or under the control of others.

The other day, I had the pleasure of talking with a friend of mine, Christine Jenns, who is a fellow yoga practitioner. Christine is a beautiful example of someone who was faced with the most serious of circumstances that she faced head on to overcome what most people would have unwillingly accepted. If you've ever found yourself in a seemingly hopeless situation, watch the videos below to hear Christine's story. Here's an introduction:

About 20 years ago, Christine was involved in a tragic car accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. After arriving at the hospital and meeting with the doctors, Christine’s family agreed that they would be a source of positivity and support, never letting on that her prognosis was grim. And so they would visit her in the hospital without tears, but with smiles on their faces. Her family’s strength gave Christine the initial hope she needed to decide that she was going to walk again, despite the fact that the doctors would eventually and repeatedly assure her that she would never regain the use of her legs.

The fascinating piece to this story, however, is in the light that Christine believes was responsible for healing her body. At the end of her busy, structured days with doctors, nurses, and therapists, Christine looked forward to settling in for the night. It was during these moments of peace that she was able to tap into her higher source, watching as a beam of light entered her body through her head and eventually traveled to her feet.

She was convinced that when the light did reach her feet, she would be on the path to walking again. And indeed, she eventually wiggled her toes. Ironically, it was at this point that the doctors insisted that she would never walk again, but Christine would not back down and remained convinced that she would walk out of the hospital.

To listen to Christine tell her remarkable story, please watch the videos: I’ve Seen the Light – Part 1 and Part 2.