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Welcome to the first Meditation Capsules Newsletter for 2017 … and every best wish for ‘The Year of the Rooster’.  May it bring you lots of positive things to crow about!
I wonder how many people still have ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ on their minds? And now that we are in February, how are you travelling with these resolutions… and how do you feel about them?  A key state of mind, as we develop awareness, is to be gentle and kind with ourselves.  Lofty goals, wishes and expectations can be hard to commit and live up to.  Struggles can ensue, which can feel dispiriting and leach energy.  Noble intentions can fall by the wayside.
Spanish playwright Antonio Machado’s beautiful poem ‘Campos de Catilla’, includes the sage verse: ‘Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking’.  To create a kind, ‘heartful’ path, we do need vision, with clear intentions.  We also need to find our feet, moment by moment, to choose carefully and wisely, and step mindfully through each day.  And we need to live mindfully… practicing knowing where our attention is; what we are doing, what we are thinking and how we are feeling.  Pauses for conscious, compassionate choices help to create our path.
The expression ‘what shape are you in?’ is common parlance.  Waking down, to become aware of our body and the important messages it can share, is a vital skill to develop.
A quote I often share with children comes from ‘Oh, the Places You Will Go’ by Dr Seuss: ‘You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose’.
A lot of focus is often on the brain and what we are thinking. It is easy to take our body and feet for granted.  I know that I often ignore my feet! Each foot is a masterful network of approximately 35 joints and 28 bones, held together by 120 ligaments and activated by at least 20 muscles. Today you will take about 18,000 steps. By age 70, your feet will have logged 70,000 miles. More than7,000 nerve endings in each foot constantly send messages throughout your entire body/mind.
This year, one of my intentions is to take better care of my feet!  Simple practices to care for our precious feet, like soaking them in Epsom salts and essential oils, exfoliating and massage… and even just literally taking our weight off our feet and rest them on a cushion or against a wall, bring wonderful benefits to the entire body.
Last year I had a wonderful time at the Eden Health Retreat in Queensland.  A memorable session was with a personal trainer, who devoted most of the class to the feet.  He shared ways to tone and revitalize the feet.  I now regularly take off my shoes and practice balances, stretches and scrunches as part of my daily regime!
Preparation for my classes with children starts with the feet.  Shoes are removed before entering the room.  Focus for the lesson begins with the feet.  We share practices to explore and feel how our feet create a stable, strong base.  And when our feet find the best space and place, a foundation is provided for the rest of the body.
Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy from the U.S. has an exceptionally popular TED talk, which so far has scored 38,852,098 views:  ‘Your body language shapes who you are’:(https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are).  Amy reminds us that we can change other people’s perceptions…and even our own body chemistry, by changing body positions.
Remember that as we commit to our Mindfulness practice, we can literally start from the ground up.  We can centre ourselves, feel balanced, grounded and strong through the soles of our feet and step by step, moment by moment, create a conscious, kind path in life.