the eleven benefits of loving kindness meditation

  1. You will sleep easily
  2. You will wake easily
  3. You will have pleasant dreams
  4. People will love you
  5. Devas (gods or angels) and animals will love you
  6. Devas will protect you
  7. External dangers, such as poisons, weapons, and fire, will not harm you
  8. Your face will be radiant
  9. Your mind will be serene
  10. You will die unconfused
  11. You will be re-born in happy realms

This is big stuff, regardless of whether you believe in angels or reincarnation.

Having good sleep, pleasant dreams, a radiant face and a serene mind, all sound pretty great to me.

Scientific research into the benefits of loving kindness (Metta) practice supports a few of these claims. Regular loving kindness meditation can:

    • Lower stress — self perceived, behavioral and physiological.
    • Enhance immunity
    • Increase behaviors that enhance social connectedness.
    • Increase happiness

Here’s a decent popular science article with links to studies:


Stand Tall, Feel Great!

Could the Lumo Lift be used to support Alexander Technique Students?

According to the Lumo Lift marketing department, “Lift was built based on scientific research showing that when you hold yourself in an upright and open position, you actually get a surge of hormones that make you feel and become more powerful.”

I bolded the word “hold“, because anyone who has tried holding themselves in good posture knows how uncomfortable this is. Within minutes, you are back to the comfy relief of slumping. Take a look at the models in the Lumo Lift video:

Did you notice that they are all arching their backs to achieve their new “good” posture?

But what if there’s an effortless way towards good posture?

Yes, it’s called the Alexander Technique. Alexander Technique students learn how to change their posture by thinking. And, I think the Lumo Lift could be a great biofeedback support for Alexander Technique students.

What if every time you crunched over your cell phone, you got a little buzz? What if instead of arching your back and holding yourself upright, you stopped and thought:

“I have time,”

“Neck free,”

“Do less,”

“Head floating up,”

or even…

“I don’t have to pick up my phone!”

What if you had learned in Alexander Technique lessons how to turn these pleasant thoughts into real physical changes?

That could amount to an extra 1,500 practice sessions per week*.

You might find that you were learning how to “Stand Tall and Feel Great,” effortlessly.

*”How often do you look at your phone?” Daily Mail, Oct 7, 2014






What is the Alexander Technique?

“The Alexander Technique is more about reducing than increasing, more about subtraction than addition. It is a set of skills, and a strategy, for reducing or eliminating stress, strain, compression, pain, tension, pressure, worry, rigidity, anxiety, and smallness of mind and body. It has profound and positive emotional, psychological, and physical effects.” — Mark Josefsburg

For the complete article, The Alexander Technique-It Is What It Isn’t, visit Mark Josefsburg’s blog


Do one thing at a time



According to a recent New York Times book review, “The simplest definition of meditation is learning to do one thing at a time.”

My grandmother, Phyllis Punch, who’s a young 96, said as much to me this afternoon.

“The world is like the residue left from the telling of a story…”

“The world is like the residue left from the telling of a story…”

A bit of philosophical text to contemplate while practicing yoga on a sunny winter morning in San Francisco.

Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend who would linger at the end of a movie through all the credits. He was in a transitional space – not quite out of the movie, not quite back in the story of his life. I was not allowed to talk to him, or even touch him, lest I break the spell.

We get to see the effort we put into maintaining our stories when we practice Alexander Technique or meditation. We hear ourselves think, “I carry tension in my shoulders,” and realize that we can set it down.

Sometimes, the internal story is shocked quiet when we encounter great art, great beauty, or great tragedy. The transition is effortless. In the aftermath we perceive something else.

What happens after your story?


Mindful Eating

I had a pack of almonds. The next moment, empty pack and no almonds. I was the only one at the scene of the crime, so all evidence pointed to me as the eater. But if you’d asked me, I would have denied it. Presumably, those 18 grams of fat were lurking somewhere in my digestive tract.

This experience inspired me to take a Mindful-Eating workshop with my friend Augusta Hopkins.

The principals of Mindful Eating are very simple. Look at your food. Smell your food. Taste your food.  Appreciate the colors, flavors, textures, shape, and weight. Contemplate how it got to you. Who grew it? Who prepared it? Be thankful. Be amazed. Enjoy!

More practically, rest your hands between bites. Are you loading up your fork before you’ve finished a mouthful? What is the hurry?

Notice your body. Are you hunched over your plate? Are you breathing? Can you relax your neck and eat?

The result? I am much less likely to overeat if I am consciously present for the act of eating. But, I admit that I like to read The New Yorker and listen to NPR while eating. Which is why I like to combine Mindful Eating with Brian Wansink’s ingenious techniques for effective Mindless Eating.

Here’s a link to Augusta’s instructional video on Mindful eating. Never has a humble Mission Style Burrito been eaten with such loving care.



two feet one breath

Stopping is the best antidote to stress. Stop to think, to look, to listen, and to reflect. Stop and have a helpful thought like, “I don’t need to tense my neck muscles so much while texting.” Stopping is the bedrock of the Alexander Technique. Stopping is also the basis of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. It’s easy to stop. But it’s hard to have the discipline to do it. If we are working under time pressure, the last thing in the world we want to do is stop.

That’s why I love “Two Feet, One Breath” – a mindfulness technique developed to help busy physicians deal with their stress. Doctors with no time for prolonged meditation sessions practiced pausing an instant before entering an exam room. In that pause, they simply felt both feet on the floor and took one conscious breath. The result of incorporating this tiny stop into their day was less anxiety, less depression and less burnout.

The Alexander Technique version “Two Feet One Breath” might include a constructive thought like, “Let my neck be free. Let my head float up. Let my spine lengthen…” But the genius of “Two Feet One Breath” is simplicity. Simply stopping, even without constructive thinking, puts the breaks on stress. And that’s important!

tango journey – follower’s perspective

I may have said to a friend that I was not on a tango journey. This was not true. I was trying to play off how much the dance had come to matter to me.

Everyone  says, ‘Tango is so sexy,” but that’s not my usual experience. More frequently, the awkward combustion of two strangers fitting their bodies together requires expansive compassion, sophisticated somatic knowledge and a healthy respect for newtonian physics.

Then there’s loneliness. There were evenings when those tango hugs from warm bear-like men saved me. Sometimes, “You want to go/Where everybody knows your name,” but without all the bar chatter, and where speech is a silent rhythmic vocabulary.

Tango answers a need for elevation in life. The black dresses with open backs, long limbs, high heels, the Argentine men with lustrous thick black hair tied back in casual pony tails…Oh, I see, it is sexy after all.

And every once in a while, you have a tanda (a set of 3 – 5 dances) where it feels as if you had wings.

The concentration needed to follow is the sort of in-depth mindfulness training that will knock you out of depression – that is, if tango itself is not the source of your depression. How could tango be the source of your depression? Even the most beautiful and skilled followers have the occasional evening of social decimation, sitting out and watching everyone else dance. No a follow cannot ask a lead to dance…don’t get me started. Of course, if it’s gender parity you are seeking, you can always go to an alternative milonga, or practice switch tango, or better yet, blues dancing, but for me, without sharp dichotomies, the dance looses its poesy. But I digress. How can tango lead to depression?  The ongoing discomfort of high heels, bunion toes, an aching back, late sleepless nights and groggy work the next day, or the endless politics of the dance floor, the people you haven’t slept with and wish you had, or the people you have slept with and wish you hadn’t…

But if the tango journey is really about beauty and sensuality, love and loss, gravity and flight, doing and non-doing, yin and yang, and any other dramatic polarity that you can imagine, it can be a good place to park your restlessness for a very long time.



“In Pali, mindfulness literally means to remember.” Joseph Goldstein.

Elyse Shafarman

I find this interesting, because all the practices that orient us towards more skillful living are easy. It’s not hard to become aware of the breath, or how the feet rest on the ground. It’s not hard to wish the neck to be free. It’s not hard to contemplate that all beings, like ourselves wish for happiness and peace. The difficulty lies in remembering in the heat of living.

That’s why all the daily moments when we remember to practice are so important. It’s as simple and as difficult as remembering to stop before opening a door, or responding to a text, or snapping at a loved one.

Once we remember that we can stop, we are on the road to greater freedom.