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Archive for October, 2010

Wellness Practice, Be One with Nature

Friday, October 29th, 2010
be one with nature

be one with nature

Thoreau said that nature is a tonic for the soul,” says renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, author of “Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health,” and it’s equally nourishing for the body. “I think disconnection from the natural world is the cause of most of our health problems. We need nature to feel whole.” Taking a daily walk “offers a dose of the best medicine,” says Gladstar. “Get out in the woods if you can, but even a city park will do the trick — anywhere there’s earth and sky and plants and maybe a little water. Let the wind wash your troubles away. You’ll feel great. Your soul will eat it up.”

adapted from Body + Soul Magazine

Hokusai Wave Zen Alarm Clock

Hokusai Wave Zen Alarm Clock

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

 

Posted in intention, mindfulness practice, nature


How To Use Your Meditation Timer for Savasana

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
mindfulness practice

Savasana Pose - mindfulness practice

Savasana, (corpse pose) is a relaxing posture that is intended to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit. It is recommended that you  set aside 20 minutes every day for Savasana ,  the most restful of the yoga positions. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Set your meditation timer for 20 minutes so you don’t have to watch the clock.  Use the Bamboo Zen Timer by Now & Zen with a calming chime.

2. Lie down on your back on a soft yet firm surface, such as a rug (but not a bed). Place a rolled pillow or blanket under your knees if that feels good, and cover your eyes with a soft cloth. Cover yourself with a light blanket.

3. Let your arms and legs roll slightly out from the body as you relax and begin to take a series of long, slow breaths, setting an intention to disengage from the external world. If your mind starts spinning away, simply return your attention to the breath.

4. When the meditation timer chimes, bend your knees, roll to the side, and sit up. After a moment or two of stillness, reengage with your day.

5. Repeat this every day. Savasana is a good way to reduce stress in your life and give you extra energy for the rest of your day.

Now & Zen Meditation Timers has adapted this from Body + Sou Magazine, February 2006

meditation timers with chime

meditation timers with chime

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice, Well-being, yoga, Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, Zen Timers


Relieving Stress to Cure Exhaustion by Being in Nature

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
well-being practice, walking in nature to relieve stress

well-being practice, walking in nature to relieve stress

It’s hard to feel tired or anxious while hiking in the wilderness or staring out at a blue expanse of ocean. “Nature has built-in mechanisms for relieving stress,” says Doreen Sweeting, M.D., founder of Psychosomatic Wellness Intuitive Life Coaching. “There’s aromatherapy in the scent of the pine trees and grass, chromatherapy in the colors of the rocks and sky and flowers, sound therapy in the birdsong and wind rustling the leaves.”

Our society, unfortunately, is increasingly cut off from this wellspring of energy. “We live in artificial light. We walk on concrete. We exercise on machines,” Sweeting says. “We go from home to work to the store and back home.”

Exhaustion Cure: Take a Morning Walk
Whether you live in a suburb or a bustling city, take a walk first thing in the morning — if possible, in an area filled with trees. “You’ll feel the energy of nature replenishing you,” says Sweeting. “The tree huggers are on to something.” As often as possible, venture deeper into the woods by planning day hikes or overnight camping trips.

Make an extra effort to notice the changing seasons. “You’ll start to realize the rhythms of nature apply to you, too,” Sweeting concludes. “When you harmonize yourself with nature, you’ll develop a stronger sense of well-being. The body responds quickly to being honored in this way. And it can all start with getting out to the park.”

adapted from Body + Soul Magazine, March 2009

wake up alarm clock with chime, a tool for relieving stress

wake up alarm clock with chime, a tool for relieving stress

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in mindfulness practice, Well-being


Autumn, a time of consolidation

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
autumn, a time for wellness

autumn, a time for wellness

In Chinese medicine, fall represents a return to the roots, a time of restoring and building our qi for the following spring. “This isn’t a time of growth, but of consolidation,” says Maoshing Ni, Ph.D., director of the longevity program at Tao of Wellness Center in Santa Monica, California. “It’s when we replenish ourselves for the following spring.” Whereas summer’s expansive energy calls us out — to backyard gatherings, family vacations, block parties — autumn speaks to the introvert in each of us, inviting us to get back in touch with our nesting instincts.

Here, we offer an action plan to clean, green, and beautify the space in which you’ll be spending a lot more time once the weather turns cold.  Time to make your home as warm, welcoming, and healthy as possible — while nourishing your spirit in the process. Rather than stumble into fall, why not mindfully prepare for it? Once you reorganize and revitalize your surroundings, you’ll be ready for everything the season has to offer.

adapted from WholeLiving.com, October 2010
Dream Kanji Zen Alarm Clock with chime in Dark Oak Finish, a wellness tool

Dream Kanji Zen Alarm Clock with chime in Dark Oak Finish, a wellness tool

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in mindfulness practice, Well-being


Meditation Practice: Sensuousness of Breath – Set Your Chime Timer

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
meditation can be done anywhere and anytime

meditation can be done anywhere and anytime

Meditation: Sensuousness of Breath
Time: 5 to 10 minutes.
When and Where: Anytime, anywhere.
Position: Sitting comfortably or lying down, eyes open or closed.
Intention: I bask in healing pleasure. I receive the nourishment into every cell of my body.

One of the most universal meditation practices is to take pleasure in the flow and rhythm of breath. Buddha described this as “breathing in and out sensitive to rapture.”

1. Set your Meditation Timer for 5 minutes.  Breathe out with a deep sigh a few times and notice what that feels like. Let yourself make quiet whooshing sounds. If you feel a stretch or a yawn coming on, give in to it. Gently ask yourself, “What pleasure do I feel in breathing?”

2. Explore the sensations that accompany breathing — the feeling of the chest expanding and contracting, the gentle touch of the air gliding through the nose and down the throat, filling and then emptying the lungs. How luscious can you let breathing be? Perhaps you enjoy the relaxing ebb and flow of the breath, or love breathing’s whispering sounds. If you’re outside, you might savor the fragrance of grass, trees, or flowers as you inhale. You might feel simple wonder at receiving this essential gift from life.

3. Breathe with this type of awareness for 10 minutes or so, allowing your attention to be soft and undemanding, like rose petals on your skin. Thoughts and feelings about your life will come into your awareness; this is healthy and healing, so don’t try to block them out. Just keep coming back, gently, to the sensuousness of breath when you can.

adapted from Body + Soul Magazine, June 2005 by Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga & Meditation Timer.  It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.

meditation timer with chime

meditation timer with chime

Now & Zen – The Zen Timer & Alarm Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in intention, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, Well-being, Zen Timers


Stress Relief: Mindful Walking

Friday, October 8th, 2010
a walking practice

a walking practice

You know that a brisk walk around the block can clear your head. But it can do even more. Walking rivals yoga, meditation, and tai chi as a powerful mindfulness practice, says Danny Dreyer, a running coach, ultramarathoner, and creator of the ChiRunning and ChiWalking programs. Dreyer has spent years teaching people how to use walking to relieve physical and mental stress by moving in a relaxed way and focusing on physical sensations.

In the following exercise, Dreyer shows how to elevate a simple walk to a meditation in motion, just by using breath and awareness to target tension and trigger the body’s relaxation response. Try this simple stress reliever before an important meeting, after a workday, or any time you need to recapture a calmer, more centered state of mind.

Find a Quiet Place
Choose to walk somewhere soothing — around a lake instead of along a busy road, for instance.

Tip: Don’t rush. Your goal here is to unwind, not to break a sweat or clock in miles. Do your best to maintain an easy gait.

Go Easy
Keep your pace comfortable (as if you don’t need to get anywhere fast) and your stride short.

Breathe Away Tension
Start with your head and observe any tension you might be feeling there. Take a deep inhale, and then with each exhale, imagine releasing tightness in your head and neck. Continue with your shoulders, arms, chest, belly, glutes, upper legs, lower legs, and feet. Spend several breaths on each area, gradually inviting every part of your body to relax. Repeat this exercise.

Take Time to Unwind
Walk for at least 15 minutes, or longer if you have time.

Tip: Focus on tension hot spots throughout your body; this will help you open up and unwind.

adapted from Body + Soul Magazine, September 2007 by Kate Hanley

Dark Oak Zen Alarm Clock with Chime, a Meditation Timer

Dark Oak Zen Alarm Clock with Chime, a Meditation Timer

 

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, intention, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Well-being, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers


Mindful Walking for Inspiration

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
mindful walking

mindful walking

Whether you’re staring at a blank page or stuck on a problem, a walk may be just the thing you need to bust through a roadblock. It can even set the stage for inspired thinking and major mental breakthroughs, says Thom Hartmann, author of “Walking Your Blues Away,” by giving you access to the full range of your thought power. “When we walk, we stimulate portions of the brain in the right and left hemispheres, giving us access to more areas of our brains than when we’re sitting still,” he explains. “A million years of evolution have equipped our bodies to operate in an optimal way when we’re walking,” he says. “It’s part of our body’s normal restorative process.” Here are his guidelines for using your daily walk to get out of a mental rut and lure your creativity out into the open.

Skip the Distractions
Wear comfortable clothing, don’t carry anything, and leave the iPod at home. This helps you stay open and balanced so you can focus.

Set a Comfortable Pace
Walk at your normal pace, which helps you sync to your body’s other rhythmic processes, such as heartbeat and breathing rate, which further creates the conditions for insight to occur.

Visualize Your Dilemma
As you’re walking, call up the issue or idea you need clarity on. It can be as richly detailed as a mental image (seeing the finished letter, signed and sealed) or as simple as a question (“What should I say to this person?”). Your mind will inevitably wander; let it. Then, gently guide your thoughts back. Hartmann explains that this interplay between conscious thinking (going over the main points in your mind) and unconscious thinking (daydreaming) brings your whole brain into play and opens you up to inspiration.

Take Your Time
According to Hartmann, the average length of time people require to have a burst in creativity is 15 minutes, or about a mile of walking.

adapted from Body + Soul Magazine, September 2007 by Katie Hanley

Digital Zen Alarm Clocks, meditation timers and alarm clocks with chimes

Digital Zen Alarm Clocks, meditation timers and alarm clocks with chimes

 

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, intention, mindfulness practice, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Well-being, Zen Timers


Mindfulness Practice, One Path Many Turns

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
Labyrinth, meditative walking

Labyrinth, meditative walking

St. Augustine, a fourth-century theologian, once proclaimed, “Solvitur ambulando”, or “It is solved by walking.”

In few lives is that statement more compelling than in Ellen McDermott’s. In November 1993 a stroke left the San Francisco resident impaired on her left side. She turned to labyrinths, a form of walking meditation, for healing. “I was drawn to labyrinths before my stroke because of their soothing meditative quality, but after the stroke I needed healing and the labyrinth became even more important then,” she says. “In my recovery I used conventional medicine, physical therapy, prayer and other spiritual practices, but walking the labyrinth was different. It was definitely unifying—the one thing that brought all the different aspects of healing together,” McDermott says.

Over several months of walking the well-known labyrinth at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, McDermott regained her physical strength. But the healing went much deeper. “Walking the labyrinth helped me move beyond my physical body to find comfort, peace and confidence. I guess you could say it healed all of me,” she says.

One path, endless potential
As one of more than a million people in this country who have walked a labyrinth, McDermott joins many pilgrims past and present who have found solace and strength through labyrinth journeys.

To walk a labyrinth, it’s necessary to follow a path through an intricate pattern until you reach the center. Many people confuse labyrinths with mazes, yet critical differences separate the two. Mazes are “multicursal,” which means you must choose among many possible paths once you enter, explains Helen Curry, author of The Way of the Labyrinth: A Powerful Meditation for Everyday Life (Penguin Compass, 2000). Wrong turns and blind alleys are common in mazes, so is getting lost or disoriented, she adds. Whereas mazes are mental, linear, left-brained experiences, a labyrinth’s path is soothing, rhythmic and meditative, says Curry, who alsois the founding president of the global Labyrinth Society and executive director of The Labyrinth Project of Connecticut Inc. It’s not possible to get lost in a labyrinth. Although some turns take you away from the center, your path is nonetheless sure, safe and gently guided, both in and back out again.

Labyrinths can be made of cloth or bricks; carved into stone floors, hillsides or walls; cut into living garden turf; or even woven into baskets. Circular labyrinths have a varying number of concentric rings, or circuits. The seven-circuit design (pictured below) is the oldest, dating back several thousand years, according to the Rev. Lauren Artress, president and founder of the nonprofit organization Veriditas, The Voice of the Labyrinth Movement and author of Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool (Riverhead Books, 1996). The 11-circuit version (pictured on page 43), like the world-renowned labyrinth at the Cathedral of Chartres in France, most likely became well known around the 9th century. Recently, Curry developed a smaller three-circuit design for use in ceremonies such as weddings.

As a walking meditation, a labyrinth is similar to sitting meditations in its healing capacity, yet wonderfully different in its accessibility. “For me, walking the labyrinth is more available and effective than sitting meditation,” Artress says. “It makes quieting my mind and being able to harness the power of concentration much easier.”

a spiritual practice, mindfulness walking

a spiritual practice, mindfulness walking

Anchored in history, reborn in the present
“No one is quite sure how and where labyrinths were born,” Artress says, “but of the 80 cathedrals that went up in the Middle Ages, we do know that 22 of them had labyrinths.” Some evidence suggests these medieval church labyrinths were used symbolically to represent the journey to God. Other stories passed down through generations indicate ancient cultures from Rome to Scandinavia used labyrinths for good fortune, protection or healing.

“In the United States we’ve seen quite a strong labyrinth revival over the last 15 years,” says Sudha Carolyn Lundeen, CHN, RN, a certified holistic health nurse and the labyrinth workshop leader at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Mass. But as Artress notes, it wasn’t until 1998 that the New York Times officially labeled this revival “The Labyrinth Movement.”

“There are now more than 1,600 labyrinths in the worldwide locator’s database,” Curry says. “And more added daily in prisons, private and public gardens, schools and hospitals.”

labyrinth by the sea

labyrinth by the sea

Why labyrinths now?
People are hungry for a richly symbolic life, especially for symbols that offer meaning and comfort, Artress explains. And “as an archetype of wholeness and unity as well as a metaphor for life’s path, the labyrinth…offers a spiritual experience not tied to any particular religion or culture,” she says.

“The labyrinth also offers much-needed psychospiritual healing,” Artress notes. And sometimes it even helps identify issues that need attention. “When those issues surface,” she says, “it’s important to go in and visit them. What are they trying to tell you?”

One night, Barbara Stephen Davis, an English-as-Second-Language teacher in Galveston, Tex., learned how physical feelings can speak volumes within the labyrinth’s sacred space. Even though she normally looked forward to the walks, Davis, also a labyrinth facilitator, felt reluctant to participate that evening in the full-moon labyrinth walk at the University of Texas Medical Branch campus. “It was 2004 and a stressful time in my life,” she explains. “I was processing through some personal issues, working long hours and definitely not taking good care of myself.” To top it off, the back pain that had plagued her periodically was particularly intense that night. “In retrospect I can see I was burned out and repressing a lot of feelings. Who knows, maybe the back pain was a physical metaphor for my life pain,” she says.

“But the moon was amazing, very full, bright and a glowing white,” Davis continues. Captivated by the evening, she did walk after all. Yet with every turn of the labyrinth’s path, the tightness in her back worsened. Even though it didn’t make sense given her physical condition, something told Davis to sit awhile once she reached the labyrinth’s center. “I can’t really explain what happened while sitting there,” she says, “except that I felt somehow outside myself as I yielded to the clouds going back and forth across the moon.” Yet the real gift came when she got up to make her way out of the labyrinth. Her back pain was completely gone, and so far it has never returned. “It was like the labyrinth helped me see the pain in my life and release it,” Davis notes.

Guidelines for the journey
To realize the labyrinth’s potential in your life, simply walk it and let the event unfold. There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, Curry says, but there are some guidelines that may enrich your journey. Start by quieting your mind and deciding what you hope to gain from the experience. Are you seeking an answer to a question or guidance on a life decision? Perhaps you’re using the opportunity as a celebration or part of a spiritual ritual. Whatever the purpose, use it as your intention while guarding against expectations.

Healing is a very individual process, Californian McDermott notes, and not everyone thinks about his or her walk in stages. “I did, though,” she says, “and as I walked into the labyrinth I learned to let go of all the anger and frustration I felt over not being myself. My quiet time in the labyrinth’s center helped me regain my own center, and the path out was like my path in life, learning to go forward from here.”

Although some walks are life changing, they don’t all have to be dramatic, she says. “It’s the sureness of the labyrinth’s path that I count on when the rest of my life is uncertain. It’s like going home.”

The labyrinth as a healing tool

Scientific research delving into the labyrinth’s healing powers is just beginning, and, in a ground-breaking pilot study conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas, M. Kay Sandor, PhD, RN, recently became the first researcher to document evidence of its rejuvenating capacity. Sandor, an associate professor in the School of Nursing at UTMB and a nurse psychotherapist, explains that the study found a small decrease in breathing rate and improvements in mood profiles of the participants, after the labyrinth walk.

grass labyrinth

grass labyrinth

Meanwhile, progressive hospitals didn’t wait for research proof before providing a labyrinth for their patients and staff. In 1998, California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco became the first U.S. hospital to construct a labyrinth on their grounds, says Dennis Kenny, director of the CPMC Institute for Health and Healing’s Integrative Clinical Education and Spirituality Program. Others have followed, like Mercy Hospital Grayling in Grayling, Mich., and Legacy Meridian Park Hospital in Tualatin, Ore. “We made the labyrinth accessible to anyone, placing it at the entrance to the hospital, right outside our main lobby and waiting area,” Kenny says. “Cutting across spiritual beliefs and backgrounds, it provides a respite for patients, patient families and hospital staff when they most need comfort and peace. In a setting like this, the labyrinth’s symbolic message is powerfully clear,” he says. “There is a sanctuary for you here, and we care for much more than just your body parts.”

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, intention


Wake-up in Mother Nature’s Living Room

Friday, October 1st, 2010
 
 

Kofukuji Temple, Nara Yokoi

Kofukuji Temple, Nara Yokoi

Outdoor rooms, porches, and pavilions let you come home again to the natural world. Let nature’s elements be your palette and sensory delight your touchstone.

Imagine waking up on a summer morning to a gentle breeze on your face, the chattering of birds, and the scent of flowers opening their petals to the dawn. You lie there, warm under your wool comforter, recalling the bliss of falling asleep with frogs croaking in the nearby pond as you gazed at the stars before closing your eyes. All this, yet indoor plumbing is only a few yards away. This is the joy of outdoor living spaces.

Outdoor rooms, porches, and pavilions are back in style. Tired of being cooped up, people are moving their dining, socializing, sleeping, and sometimes even work spaces outdoors. The success of these spaces depends a lot on understanding some basics about climate and design. If you want your investment in outdoor living to pay off, you’ll want a place that’s comfortable in a range of weather conditions.

Our ancestors, who lived without central heating and cooling, knew a lot about building sleeping porches, gazebos, and summer kitchens. These structures allowed them to escape their hot, stuffy houses in summer. After decades of burning fossil fuels with wild abandon to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer, we’re beginning to realize that these people were on to something. Well-designed outdoor rooms are the epitome of ecological design; they get their heat and light from the sun and their cooling from shade and breezes.

In fact, creating an outdoor space for your home is a great way to increase your grasp of climate-responsive design. It’s an exercise in paying attention to the ecosystems you participate in. By noticing where the prevailing winds come from, and by being aware of the sun’s path across the sky, you can create a garden room that keeps you dry in the rain, unruffled by the wind, cool in summer, and warm in all but the worst of winter without burning a drop of fuel.

Outdoor structures can also expand your home’s living space for much less expense than adding a normal room. And an attached outdoor room can increase your home’s energy efficiency by protecting it from heat, cold, and wind, or even—in the case of a sunspace—by collecting solar heat to be used indoors.

But that’s only the beginning. Outdoor living is also good for your health and well-being. Sunlight, fresh air, and greenery nourish body and soul. The sounds of birds by day and crickets by night, the scent of flowers, the feeling of warm sun and cool breezes on our skin, and the sight of birds, butterflies, and bees nourish our senses and restore our participation in the web of life.

mother nature's living spaces

mother nature's living spaces

Try this at home

If you have even a little bit of outdoor space around your home, you can enjoy these delights, too. Start by sitting in different parts of your yard. Notice which areas are sunny, shady, calm, windy, private, exposed, moist, or dry. Notice which spots have nice views, near or far. Think about access: Do you want to walk easily from your indoor kitchen to an outdoor dining room? From a sleeping porch to the bathroom?

When you select a place for an outdoor room, pay attention to how the natural elements interact with this spot, how they vary with the time of day and season, and which elements you’d like to temper for your comfort. Let’s say you want to build a pavilion in a corner of your backyard, but the prevailing wind comes from the northwest—which is exactly the direction of your favorite view. A glass wall on the northwest side will meet both your needs. Or maybe you want to create a warm spot for chilly evenings. You can build a curved stone wall that defines the space, blocks the breeze, and faces south to soak up the sun; build a stone bench against the wall, and you’ll have a toasty spot for relaxing at the day’s end. Overhead shade will make the same spot comfortably cool in summer.

Finally, consider having flexible elements that extend the usefulness of your outdoor space. Add removable glass to a screened porch to turn it into a sunroom in winter. Use heavy curtains in your pavilion to block breezes, rain, or prying eyes. Hang a seasonal cloth roof over a patio, or grow a deciduous vine on a trellis or arbor.

adapted from Natural Home Magazine, July/August 2004

Japanese Maple Leaves Dial Face, Zen Wake-up Alarm Clock

Japanese Maple Leaves Dial Face, Zen Wake-up Alarm Clock

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Cherry Blossoms, Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, sleep, Sleep Habits, Ukiyo-e, wake up alarm clock