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I received a beautiful and playful gift over the holidays, a solar-powered rainbow maker. You stick it on a window, and when sun rays shine on it, little rainbows dance around the room.  It’s delightful.  (And it’s powered by the sun!  How cool is that!)

It reminds me of the colors associated with the Five Elements, a holistic way of the looking at the world.  There are seasons,  colors, emotions, smells, tastes and even times of day associated with each of the Five Elements: earth, metal, water, wood and fire. 

The colors associated with the Five Elements are yellow, white, black/dark blue, green and red.  I won’t go into all the theory of it here, but suffice it to say that we each have all  the elements in us.  In other words, from a color perspective, we each have a rainbow inside.

But often one or two colors in the rainbow are stronger than others.  So what might we learn from that?  For example, when I was a kid, navy blue was my favorite color. I was born in wintertime and was quiet and introverted.  More recently, however, I’ve been salsa dancing and playing latin music.  Coincidentally, I am much more drawn to the color red; it shows up much more in my wardrobe.  I think it reflects a greater expression of my passionate self, and red if definitely a color of passion.

How about you?  What can you learn from paying attention to colors in your life?

  • What’s the most popular color in your closet? 
  • Does your mood change depending on the color of your shirt? 
  • When you’re shopping for clothes, do you gravitate toward a particular color?
  • Is there a color you hate and would never wear? 
  • Has your favorite color changed over the years?

Celebrate the colors that are (and aren’t in your life.)  And see if you might want to bring some more balance.  For example, an all-red wardrobe could be too hot and dry.  Cool it down and introduce some moisture with blues and greens. 

Be inspired by the rainbow.

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In Traditional Chinese Medicine, balanced daily routine is said to be a key to long healthy life. I think about my grandfather who was very organized; for example, he had his breakfast at 8:30am every morning. I could practically set my watch to it. And he lived fully to 92.

So let’s say you agree that routine is good. But can too much of a good thing become not so good? I’ll share my friend’s experience of getting herself out of a rut.

For five years, my friend started each day with a walk around her neighborhood. It energized her. Got her off to a good start to write. (She’s a poet.) Recently, however, she noticed her aversion to her walks. She just couldn’t get going in the morning. She had walked herself into a rut. (Imagine if she had walked on a dirt path–instead of concrete–for 1800 days; there might be an actual rut in the road.)

So one day, she decided to make just one change. Instead of turning left, when she stepped out, she turned right. That was it. She walked the exact same route, but in the opposite direction. And that one difference made all the difference she needed. She was more present on her walk, because she couldn’t go on automatic pilot. She noticed things anew. She’s now back to her healthful routine. With that one simple–but profoundly effective–change, she has gotten out of a rut.

What daily routine could you change by just one facet, to give you a fresh new experience?

Some ideas (inspired by a great little book on neurobics called Keep Your Brain Alive):

  • Use your non-dominant hand when doing everyday things. For example, if you’re right-handed, use your left hand to brush your teeth, button your shirt, open the door, stir your coffee or tea…
  • Stimulate your other senses. For example, use touch, rather than sight, to pick out your clothes. Smell your lunch before you start eating; can you pick out the ingredients?
  • Change your seat. Choose a new spot at the dinner table. Or try a new seat at your next meeting. You might get an entirely new view of things.

Please share rut-releasing tips that have worked for you!

I’m feeling some anxiety about changes–real, imagined and expected–in my life now. I came across this article in the Yoga Journal, by meditation teacher Philip Moffit, where he talks about change and intention: The Dharma of Life Changes. Since intention is a key word in my own work with clients and with myself, I was curious to see what the author had to say.

I was especially drawn to these questions that Phillip Moffit proposes:

Diligently applying mindfulness allows you to answer three basic questions:

  1. What are your real motives?
  2. What are the possible effects of any change?
  3. Is the manner in which you plan to go about change skillful?”

These are seemingly simple questions, but how simple is it to “diligently apply mindfulness”? I find my mind wandering easily to worries and planning, so I remind myself of the benefits of spending a few minutes to do a self-acu mini meditation.

Whatever movement in your life that you are dealing with or working on bringing to fruition–managing your weight, improving your life balance, greater financial success, a new job, a growing family–try out these questions. Change is a part of life; it’s nice to have some guidance in how to navigate through those times.

In the last minutes of 2006, I was in a car accident. We were just about to cross the Oakland Bay Bridge to go home after a warm and lovely New Year’s Eve dinner, and the car I was driving was hit by a truck.

Fortunately, no one was injured. The man who hit us was calm and friendly, which helped calm my startled nerves, and I trust that the insurance matters will all work out alright. When the clock struck 2007, we were still on the side of the road, but had a great view of the fireworks display across the Bay.

Nevertheless, my spirit has been a bit off-kilter today, the first day of 2007. Worried about the repair requirements, wary about driving, rattled that the transition to the new year was accompanied by such a jolt. However, I remind myself of the healthy intention I set for myself yesterday, before the accident.

That is, to practice some yoga and meditation every morning, even if only for 15 minutes. I ALWAYS feel better when I do that. I know this supports all aspects of my life.

And this morning, even though I was feeling a bit tentative and sorry for myself, and my neck and shoulder were a bit uncomfortable–from the accident? from stress and worry?–I did my practice. I felt better afterward, in body and spirit, and I believe it allowed me to enjoy the visits with good friends through the day as much as I have. My morning practice also probably helped to recognize my “off-kilter” state, and just let it be, rather than getting more worried about that.

So, I invite you to consider setting a healthy intention for yourself.

  • Not a goal, which sets up a specific expectation. Here’s a familiar example: I must diet and lose x pounds by y-date.
  • But a guiding principle that helps you with what to do in every moment. It might look like this: My intention is to pay attention to when I am actually hungry, and eat food that is nutritious and delicious, enough to satisfy my hunger, and no more.

When you pay attention to the joyful or peaceful and restful moments in your life, what healthy intentions can you set?

welcome to the salon

This is a place to share, explore and discuss ideas around healthy and sustainable living. By paying Attention and setting Intentions, we can each find our individual paths to wellness. Learn more about this blog on the About page.
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