<![CDATA[Dragonfly Healing Center - Blog]]>Sun, 29 Nov 2015 16:50:35 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Big News! Growing a Beautiful Community]]>Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:55:25 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/big-news-growing-a-beautiful-community
Mindfulness in Preschools Project 
Dragonfly Center has completed a super successful pilot program integrating mindfulness and social emotional learning skills in 3 preschools in underserved communities in the SF Bay Area! These preschools offer parent-child education tuition-free to low-income families through the Family Connections non-profit. The program serves over 80 families (over 400 individuals). At-risk children, ages 0 – 5, and their parents are receiving simple yet profound skills to help reduce stress, enhance emotional and behavioral regulation, focus attention, increase calm and problem solving skills, as well as pro-social behaviors such as helping and cooperation.
We need your help to implement the full program for the 2014-15 school year!  Your donation is fully tax deductible and you will receive a donation confirmation letter for your tax purposes. Please donate HERE!

The cost for the 10 month full program will be $22,200 which includes program development and implementation, administering the program, initial research, and outreach. 

Your funds will not only support the 400 individuals reached through the preschools, but also the professional bilingual women of color who will be teaching the program to the at-risk children and their parents.  Please support them in teaching in these communities where many will not even venture.  Our core mindfulness and social emotional learning teachers are Adriana Buenaventura, Yasmina Porter, Ana Maria Sanchez, and Susana Rivero.

Supporting Thich Nhat Hahn’s Vision of World Peace
Melissa Green joins the team at Peace Is The Way Films, Inc.  Last year while at Thich Nhat Hahn’s Plum Village Monastery in France, Melissa was blessed to sit in meditations led by Thich Nhat Hahn (Thay), and to meet Gregory Kennedy-Salemi, Director and Producer at Peace Is The Way Films, Inc.; Erich Tiefenbach, the illustrator; and Sister Jewel, the editor of the book “Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children” by Thay and the Plum Village Community.  The team is currently working on an animated film based on this book.  Melissa is collaborating with an amazing educator, Kia Woods, to provide mindfulness lesson plans and activities to accompany the film.  Gregory, who lives in Vienna, Austria, went off to Hollywood to find some to the incredible talent involved in bringing Thay’s story to life and supporting his vision of peace in the world.  

Orlando Jones, actor and comedian, is the voice of Will, the Father in the film.  Jones was born in Mobile, Alabama on April 10, 1968. His father was a former professional baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies. To pursue his interest in the entertainment industry, Jones, together with comedian Michael Fechter, formed a production company, Homeboy's Productions and Advertising.  Orlando Jones is well known from being an original cast member of MADtv and as a popular spokesperson for 7UP.

There absolutely is no other Thay, so he plays himself in the film!

The Planting Seeds film project is also in cooperation with singers Tina Turner, Regula Curti and Dechen Shak-Dagsay!!!

See more about Peace Is The Way Films, Inc. and the progress of the film, titled “Planting Seeds: The Power of Mindfulness” HERE

Working with Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Dragonfly Center has been in supportive community with Spirit Rock Meditation Center (SRMC) for a few years and steps it up as Melissa joins SRMC as a Mindful Leader in their Family Program.  Because of her commitment and dedication to bringing mindfulness to children, Melissa is now an integral part of the SRMC Family Program to share the many blessings and true gifts of mindfulness.  In the future, Melissa will help to expand their program to include preschool aged children. 
To read more about the SRMC Family Program, go HERE.

Dr. Gibbs is our new Senior Management Consultant 
Dragonfly Center is thrilled and honored to have Dr. SherRhonda Gibbs join our team!
Dr. SherRhonda Gibbs is the Senior Management Consultant for Dragonfly Healing Center.  She is also a tenured Associate Professor of Management at the University of Southern Mississippi and the President/CEO of GCNF Ventures, Inc.   Her background is in software engineering and business. Dr. Gibbs has more than twelve years experience in IT and an unwavering passion for all things "entrepreneurship". She assists start-ups and small business owners with business development and strategy, new product development, and innovation. Dr. Gibbs has started three, going on four, business ventures and has a keen eye for great new business ideas. She is extremely proficient in business and technical writing, identifying new business opportunities, and performing industry, market and competitive research. She consults with businesses large and small, and Dragonfly Healing Center is honored to have her expertise on our team.

See Dr. Gibbs' very impressive full Bio HERE!

Moving Into the Light Women’s Retreat Healing Staff is Forming Beautifully!
Our Moving Into the Light Women’s Retreat is in its 4th year!!!  We are super happy to have the lovely Catherine Perry as the Retreat Director/Point of Contact for this powerful retreat. She will also be offering Aromatherapy and Flower Essence sessions during the retreat.  Catherine is a dedicated and loving part of the Dragonfly tribe and will no doubt take great care of the ladies on our fabulous retreat!!!
Read more about Catherine HERE!

Our retreat is blessed for the 4th time to have Dragonfly’s core team member, the magnificent Ali Reneer, offering her unforgettable presence and services of massage, reflexology, and Reiki.  You won’t believe what happens when she gets her hands on you!!!See more about Ali HERE!

We are also delighted to welcome back Adriana Buenaventura as our fabulous yoga teacher!  Adriana guided us through beautiful heart-connected Ananda yoga classes at the last retreat and is excited to share her love of yoga with us again.  She absolutely glows when she teaches yoga!  And you will glow too!Read more about Adriana HERE!

See our complete Healing Staff of Wonderful Wellness Practitioners in our next newsletter!

We added 2 more spots to this popular retreat to accommodate a maximum total of 20 participants!

There are now only 3 spots left!!!
Register HERE for this life changing experience!
To be held October 17th – 19th, 2014 at Venture Retreat Center in Pescadero, California

More Details and Registration HERE!

Sharing the Healing Gifts from Mother Nature
Dragonfly Center tribe members, Dr. Anna Stid and Carey Allen, are rocking it with doTERRA essential oils.  They are passionate and knowledgeable about these therapeutic grade essential oils for health and wellness. Allow them to show you the benefits of replacing your medications with the healing gifts from Mother Nature.
Contact Us HERE for more information on Carey and Anna's classes, events, and services.

Thank you so much for your attention and for being in beautiful community with us. 

Wishing You a Blissful and Blessed Summer!
Melissa and the Dragonfly Tribe

<![CDATA[Partnership with Project Happiness, Happiness for Engineers, and Easter on Easter Island!]]>Wed, 07 May 2014 02:38:26 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/partnership-with-project-happiness-happiness-for-engineers-and-easter-on-easter-island
Dragonfly Healing Center May/June 2014 Newsletter
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Mindfulness in Preschools with
Project Happiness!


“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There is still time to GIVE!!! 

Donate until Midnight Tonight PST on Silicon Valley Gives!

When we give, we just feel good!  I know it’s true for me.  My heart has been overflowing with warmth, joy and gratitude for the preschools project that is bringing Mindfulness, Social Emotional Learning, Resilience, and Happiness to at-risk children and their parents in underserved communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Dragonfly Healing Center is in partnership with the exceptional non-profit, Project Happiness, to deliver this program.  

We have started a pilot integrating social emotional learning and mindfulness into 3 preschools that offer parent-child education tuition-free to low-income families through Family Connections The program serves over 80 families (over 400 individuals). At-risk children, ages 0 - 5, and their parents are receiving simple yet profound skills to help reduce stress, enhance emotional and behavioral regulation, focus attention, increase calm and problem solving skills, as well as pro-social behaviors such as helping and cooperation.

For $10/month per person, we can provide a 10-month program that will last a lifetime. 
Please donate on May 6 at for this specific cause using the following link Silicon Valley Gives.

Randy Taran, Founder of Project Happiness, says, “On the topic of sharing happiness, we are excited to be part of  Silicon Valley Gives, an event designed to inspire and unite local support. 100% of donations we receive will be used to bring social emotional learning and resilience-building to at-risk children up to age 5 as well as their parents. This program plants the seeds for real change.”

Neuroscience research is proving what we already feel, that we are wired as social creatures.  We are meant to share and help each other.  This project in preschools can be a reminder for you of your natural good nature to give and be of service. 

Gratitude for Giving!!!

*Your Tax-Deductible Donations will be processed up until midnight Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014.

About Project Happiness

Project Happiness, a 501(c)3 organization, specializes in emotional resilience-building programs that are used by people of any age and endorsed by public schools, private institutions and universities around the U.S. and the world. Our purpose is to provide proven techniques to cultivate one's own authentic happiness.
Drawn from research in positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness, our strength-based approach teaches vital social and emotional skills. Using books, film and educational programs, we're empowering children, families and communities to create happier, more meaningful lives.

Easter on Easter Island

This remote little island, known by the native people as Rapa Nui, is far far away from most everything.  What a mysterious and intriguing place!  Just being there conjures up creativity and imagination.  Staring at the huge moai (statues) carefully placed all over the island gave me opportunity to look into another time and culture.  Undeniable power permeates the land.  Many of the questions that great scientists and engineers have asked and not firmly answered were making impressions in my mind as new questions of my own were being created. 

How did the Rapa Nui people know there would be a tiny bit of land out in the South Pacific furthest away from any other inhabitable land mass?  The entire island is 63 square miles with much of the land not accessible by vehicle and instead beautifully populated by wild horses. Breath taking!  Getting to Easter Island in the modern day requires either a 5 hour flight from Tahiti or a 5 hour flight from Santiago, Chile and a few boats of different sorts that make the journey.  I was on island for one magical week (also because the flights to and from Tahiti are only once a week!).  I was so grateful for this time and of course wanted more.  Rapa Nui is a super fascinating place and a MUST ‘bucket list’ destination!  Being in Tahiti for a few days before and after is a sweet cherry on top of whatever gets you excited  :-)

For the curious, here is an engaging read from American Scientist


Books you can check out too:
The Enigmas of Easter Island by John Flenley and Paul G. Bahn
Collapse by Jared Diamond
The Statues that Walked by Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo
The Once and Future World by J.B. MacKinnon 


Dragonfly Healing Center is launching custom designed programs for engineers, scientists, and IT professionals that train the attention networks of the brain using mindfulness and other research-based skills and techniques.  Manage stress, increase happiness and work life balance, while also enhancing creativity and productivity. Learn from the experiences of a former software engineer, computer scientist, and IT project manager who allowed chronic stress and a skewed work life balance to result in a difficult Workers Compensation case and the loss of a successful career.  Realize how simple and fun prevention methods can work for you!

The foundation of the program is Mindfulness and integrates components of Health and Wellness, Education and Adventure. There are countless benefits to employees and the corporation.

Programs are specialized for an individual or groups. Costs are determined by the type of program.  
An initial complementary consultation is performed to gather the requirements and needs of the client and to decide if there is a match for working together.

We are working with amazing partners who will be announced as the program rolls out!


The Moving Into the Light Women’s Retreat has only 2 spots left!!! 

We will be on the northern California coast from October 17th – 19th, 2014 for a weekend of self-care, empowerment and positive transformation.  Register HERE NOW
Prices increase after Mother’s Day, May 11th.


Being of Service is the Best Gift!

And your gift always returns!!!

Dragonfly Healing Center teacher, Adriana Buenaventura, is preparing to teach mindful yoga to children and parents at the Family Connections preschool in East Palo Alto.  Our pilot program just started this past April and already we have incredible feedback on the benefits.  Joy!!!

Share your gift through DONATIONS! Help us keep this happiness spreading!  

To Fruitful Partnerships, Happiness for All, and a bit of Mystery!


Magic Mountains of Moorea, Tahiti!


Daring Dragonfly......

Link to VIDEO of Dragonflies on Easter Island!

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<![CDATA[Dragonfly Gathering and Starlight Hike at Jikoji Zen Center]]>Fri, 11 Apr 2014 03:56:57 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/dragonfly-gathering-and-starlight-hike-at-jikoji-zen-center
Daring Dragonflies and Starlight Hike in Surreal Open Space
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You are invited to attend:


Dragonfly Community Gathering and Starlight Hike at Jikoji Zen Center


Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Here is a special opportunity for you, a dear friend of Dragonfly Healing Center, to be in beautiful community and spend time on the gorgeous land at Jikoji Retreat and Zen Center!

Zen is inextricably interwoven with nature; we learn through practice that we are a part of nature, not separate from the open space which surrounds Jikoji. We will explore elements of the natural world through our senses.

Please bring a vegetarian food item, snack, or healthy beverage to share. There is a full kitchen, however only plan to heat food as needed instead of cooking onsite.

We will gather in the Community Area at 5pm for time to socialize and mix and mingle.  Join with like-minded people who are on journeys of self-care, personal development, and awareness plus who love nature, connecting with others, eating good food, laughing and enjoying life!

Welcome and Introductions will start at 5:30pm.  We will do some Qi gong and mindful movement to prepare us for the starlight hike.  

This event is open to all genders!  Especially join us if you are a woman interested in connecting with other ladies from the Moving Into the Light Women's Retreat.  You will be able to register for the retreat at this event for $100 instead of $150.  There are only 4 spots left in the retreat to be held October 17-19th, 2014 in Pescadero, California near the coast. 

About the Starlight Hike - We will be joining a group already at Jikoji to participate in the evening hike. Peter Szydlowski will lead the starlight hike, as he did during most of his years as a Pinnacles National Park interpreter. Also facilitating are Charles Ewing, a naturalist for almost two decades at Pinnacles National Park, and Ingrid Mednis who was a caretaker at Jikoji for many years and now is an interpreter at Henry Cowell State Park.
The starlight hike will be in silence.  We will meditate together at the top of the ridge with the mountains and the sea stretched in front of us and the stars glistening above us.  
Logistics: Bring water bottles, comfortable hiking shoes, layered clothing, and a small flashlight with a red light or red material to cover the lens. Overcast may cancel the starlight hike, or at least obscure the stars.

*Most cell phones do not work here.  Yay!!!

There is an option to spend the night and attend the Sunday meditation program. Please call (408) 741-9562 (to reserve a room for overnight stay)

Space is limited!  Please RSVP early to ensure inclusion.

Minimum Suggested Donation is $10.

For more information about Jikoji, please visit their website at www.jikoji.org


Jikoji Zen Center
12100 Skyline Blvd
Los Gatos, CA 95033
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<![CDATA[Aloha Loves! Guess what I did in the jungle of Hawai'i?!?!?!?]]>Fri, 28 Feb 2014 11:54:06 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/aloha-loves-guess-what-i-did-in-the-jungle-of-hawaii
In the Hawaiian language, ALOHA stands for ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, and ‘love’.  The deeper meaning of ALOHA is ‘the joyful (oha) sharing (alo) of life energy (ha) in the present (alo).’ Aloha is an expression of love, peace, compassion, presence, and the essence of life.  Additionally, aloha means affection, mercy, sympathy, kindness, sentiment, grace, and charity.”  -- from Living Aloha Magazine, Mission Statement

Aloha Loves!

Guess what I did in the jungle of Hawai'i?!?!?! 
 Oh, yeah, I got my aloha meditation ON!  Alohaaaaaa, it was so exhilarating for me to be back on Maui, especially since I have lived there in the past and have a special connection to the place.  I am very familiar with this Magical Isle of Maui, though I discovered some spots on the northeast shore that were intimately unknown to me and quite delightful.  Being in the lush tropical landscape of Huelo, I gazed infinitely out into the trees as well as the striking coastline.  Mindfulness seemed to come easy in such a place….noticing in the present moment what is occurring in all the senses, with compassion and non-judgment.  I was elated!  I could feel the spirit of the land, extremely powerful. 

Maui is the heart chakra of our planet. There is amazing power on Maui – all of the Hawaiian islands combined are a super powerhouse and mecca for natural health and healing.  I am also aware that the Hawaiian lands and people have experienced much trauma, some of which has not healed and instead continues as a cycle through generations.  A component of Dragonfly Healing Center’s retreats in Hawaii will be service to the land and people.  It is a beautiful honor to breathe in her air, walk upon her sands, swim in her waters, taste the bounty of the yummy foods, and be with her people.  Just to see Hawaii is to catch a glimpse of heaven! 
True Aloha!

Founder/Happiness Consultant

Soul-lution for Relationships!

In the photo below, I am in the Sacred Garden with founder, Eve Eschner Hogan, who is also the author of the newly released book, The EROS Equation: A “Soul-lution” for Relationships.  Eve has authored the books Intellectual Foreplayand How to Love Your Marriage.
Congratulations Eve!!!  Dragonfly Healing Center is excited to be in supportive collaborative community with Eve for hosting retreats in Maui.  Yay!!!

“The EROS Equation is a simple formula that will transform your life.” –Jack Canfield, Co-Creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series

Six Essential Life and Love Skills from the EROS Equation:

  1. Remember who you really are.
  2. Determine what you want.
  3. Self-observe.
  4. Choose to let go.
  5. Recalibrate to your authentic self.
  6. Take actions in alignment with who you are and what you want.
Mystic Island Festival Rainbow!!!
Another huge blessing was connecting with Heather Salmon and her partner Donny Regalmuto  of the Black Swan Temple.  Their vibrational sound healing was pure radiance!

HAPPINESS  at Ho'okipa!!!

Previous Events

January was a Self-Care Celebration for the ladies!  We talked about organic skin care, ate delicious foods, did mini-facials, shared our intentions for the year, and laughed a whole lot.  Some of us continued on to a full scrumptious dinner and then kissed the night to sleep with wine and more laughs and genuine connecting. 
Many of the ladies reserved their spot at the Moving Into the Light Women’s Retreat from October 17th – 19th in Pescadero, California.  12 spots have already been claimed.  We are so excited for our growing community of supportive and fun ladies!!! 
There are only 5 spots left in the retreat!!!!  Save your spot HERE!!!

Super fun class in Maui in February – Stressed in Paradise??? Discover How to be Mo’ Happy!  With an integration of mindfulness meditation, qi gong, gratitude practice, and loving kindness meditation, the evening was insightful and entertaining.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 15th – Holistic Health and Wellness Event – FREE

Serving the communities of East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park
Fabulous Sponsors of this event are the East Palo Alto Library, the San Mateo County READS Department, Project Happiness, and Awakening360

There will be speakers on mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health and well-being as well as a health fair with free mini-sessions of treatment with massage therapists, acupuncturist, counselors, yoga therapist, aromatherapy pratitioners, nutritionist, and more.  Light healthy refreshments will be provided, translation from English to Spanish, a play and learn area for kids, community information, and great raffles!!! 

The grand prize is a full scholarship for a woman from the East Palo Alto or East Menlo Park community to attend the Moving Into the Light Women’s Retreat in Pescadero in October. 

Here is what last year’s winner had to say:
“Going to the Moving Into the Light Women's Retreat was the best thing that could have happened to me this year. I've been on a spiritual journey for some time now and it was great to be there with the women to hear their stories and connect. I learned how to meditate better and worked on some more yoga poses as well. The retreat gave me the confidence boost I needed to get through the rest of the year. I felt like a new person after I left and I can't wait to go back! Extra BIG thanks to Melissa and everyone who participated!”

The woman must be present at the Health and Wellness event on the 15th to win!
See more info about the Health and Wellness event HERE!!!
Allow us to walk with you on your path of health and wellness....

Stay tuned for the Moving Into the Light Women’s Meetup in April.  Last time we pampered ourselves with Juice Beauty Organics skincare, and this time we will journey into essential oils and aromatherapy.  You will surely want to indulge!!!

doTERRA Essential Oils ~ There's a wellness party going on!!!

Being of Service

Dragonfly Healing Center supported the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco by volunteering for the weekend event plus the Intensives on Monday, February, 17th.  The conference was full of energy and connection!  Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world. Through their series of conferences, meet-ups, and workshops, Wisdom 2.0 strives to bring this conversation to the world in an accessible, innovative, and inclusive way. 
In turn, Wisdom 2.0 is of service to Dragonfly Healing Center by donating yoga mats from the conference to be used at non-profits and community service events in East Palo Alto.  They also donated around 200 mini health food bars to be served at the Holistic Health and Wellness event on the 15th.  Fantastic!!!!

Melissa, Director of Training, and Birute, Bay Area Liaison,  of Wisdompreneurs at the epic After Party at the Starship in San Francisco.  Organized by the fabulous Alison Raby, Co-
Founder and Chief Alchemist, and James Hanusa, Advisory Board Chair!!! Wisdompreneurs are definitely aiming for the stars while we integrate wisdom and entrepreneurship!!!

Feeling tired at the end of a very active February!  I was still super excited to see Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. We shared delightful conversation the week before at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference.  What a spectacular birthday gift for me!!!! 
Joining us at this gathering for Bay Area mindfulness teachers is a friend and colleague, Rochelle McLaughlin who will be implementing a school-wide mindfulness program at San Jose State University.  Go Rochelle!!!

The mindful life can be quite exciting!!!
Thank you for your attention :-)

Best and Brightest,
Dragonfly Healing Center

<![CDATA[The “Science of Happiness” from Project Happiness ]]>Mon, 13 Jan 2014 06:57:17 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/the-science-of-happiness-from-project-happinessPicture
Mindfulness is Power
Recent research has shown that only 10% of our happiness is due to our external circumstances. A full 90% is based on our inner environment. 50% of our happiness level comes from our genes and 40% comes from intentional activities like self-reflection, mindfulness, and gratitude.

Forgiveness is Physical
Practicing forgiveness doesn’t only benefit the person we forgive, recent research shows that it has tangible physical and emotional benefits for ourselves as well.

Generosity Increases Happiness
For our happiness, how we spend our money is as important, if not more important, than the amount of money that we make. Giving to others releases endorphins, activating the parts of our brains that are associated trust, pleasure, and social connection. Being altruistic and spending money on others leads to higher levels of happiness.

Gratitude Promotes Well-Being
Positive psychology has concluded that counting our blessings has a measurably positive effect on our well-being. It is as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for every day for three weeks

Positivity Pays Off
If we can become more positive in the present, we can get our brains to work more successfully and tap into the happiness advantage. Science has shown that we are significantly more productive when positive. When we feel positive our intelligence, creativity, and energy levels rise. How? Dopamine, which floods the brain when we are positive, not only makes us happier, but also activates all of the learning centers of our brains. In order to have success and happiness in our lives, we must stop thinking that happiness is dependent on success, and realize the success is aided by happiness.

Happiness is Contagious
Happiness is collective. Our happiness depends on the happiness of those we are connected to. Relatedly, science shows that through practicing happiness, we make those we come into contact with happier. This extends to the 3rd degree of contact (a friend of a friend of a friend). Finding happiness is not a selfish pursuit, it is actually doing a favor to those around us.

For the full report see the Project Happiness website:

<![CDATA[Being of Service- Sharing Your Heart]]>Thu, 07 Feb 2013 19:47:51 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/being-of-service-sharing-your-heart
<![CDATA[Have a happier new year with mindfulness  ]]>Fri, 04 Jan 2013 23:20:06 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/have-a-happier-new-year-with-mindfulness

Writing your New Year's Resolutions? This is the time of year when we all jot down those ideas that we think will make us "better" in the coming year. And they're well-intended, too--lose weight, exercise more, be nicer to people, get more sleep, be easier on ourselves. The truth is that all we really need is one New Year's Resolution: BE MORE MINDFUL. It is this resolution that will actually enable us to do many other desirable things as well.

One way of building mindfulness into 2013 is to engage in a short period of mindfulness meditation each day. So, set aside approximately 5 minutes to meditate (set a timer). It can be done anywhere--sitting on the floor, lounging in a chair, or lying in bed. Take a few deep breaths to make yourself more receptive to relaxation, close your eyes, and then begin your period of mindfulness. The meditation need consist of nothing more than keeping your attention on your breath. Pay attention as your breath enters your nostrils and again as it leaves. Notice how the breath feels. There will be plenty of distractions. You'll notice your own thoughts and feelings, and bodily sensations, running through your mind. You'll hear external noises or become aware of movement around you. All of that is fine. Each time that you become distracted, be aware of the distraction, and simply return your attention to your breath. It may help to count your breaths until you get used to maintaining the focus.

Meditation is not the only way to become more mindful, however. Another is simply to slow down and relax. Avoid busyness. Give up multitasking. Realize that the way to appreciate the present is to do one thing at a time and appreciate what it feels like to do it. Don't think about what remains to be done; don't let yourself get caught up in what your future is going to be like; simply do one thing and enjoy the fact that you are doing it. Take in all the sensory pleasure you can from it, whether it's digging in the garden, washing a dish, writing a "to do" list, sending an email message to a friend, or writing a business memo. Fully engage with whatever you are doing.

Slowing down also allows you to think about what really matters to you in life. Say "yes" to those things that are life-enhancing for you; say "no" to everything else. In that way your life will be built on good, enjoyable experiences. Slowing down also allows you to be grateful for what you have. Take time every day to appreciate what's good about your life.

Mindfulness also allows for recognition that there are many more positive experiences in life than negative ones. It's just our evolutionary background that causes us to focus more on the negative--the old "fight or flight" mentality that kept our ancestors alive. We can tone down the fear and anxiety reactions that might tend to arise naturally by forcing ourselves to focus on what is positive. For example, associate with people who are more positive and optimistic. Don't dwell excessively on negative news--read for more pleasurable aspects of what is going on in the world around us. Listen to uplifting music. Be generous and kind to others; donate blood, yield the right-of-way to someone on the highway, or give money to charity. Walk around with a smile on your face. Not only does the smile make you feel more positive, it influences positive reactions in those around you.

These are just a few of the ways in which mindfulness can make 2013 a much better year. "Being mindful" is really the only resolution you need. It can lead you to all the other positive goals you hope to reach.

<![CDATA[A life altering journey]]>Wed, 15 Aug 2012 04:33:49 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/a-life-altering-journeyPicture
I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the Buds to Blossoms program in Cambodia. There I and my fellow volunteers lived at a rural AIDS orphanage for two weeks providing gentle massage to over two hundred thirty children with HIV to foster their health, well-being and development.  A number of the children at the AIDS orphanage were abused, raped and enslaved before arriving there. The children's immune systems are severely compromised, and some have infections which cause painful, disfiguring sores to erupt on their skin. Only a narrow range of treatments for HIV are available in Cambodia, and the children are in danger of developing full-blown AIDS at any time. Newly-orphaned children come into the care of the orphanage on a regular basis and are sometimes emaciated and in the last stage of AIDS.  Our volunteer group promoted the children's health and their chances of surviving HIV infection by providing them with the proven immune system-strengthening effect of gentle massage. The massages we gave also helped relieve the children's pain and anxiety and helped meet their emotional needs for nurturing contact with caring adults.

The experience in the orphanage itself was challenging and rewarding.  Despite battling a bout of severe food poisoning, I still managed to be able to connect with these shining bright children.  They were all so full of energy all the time and I almost forgot that they had any medical conditions.  I was blown away by the joy and love they offered so freely.  When we weren't massaging the children, we often played with them on the playground.  A couple nights we even had dance parties.  Those kids had some moves!  I went through many emotional peaks and valleys as I learned about the children's histories.  I couldn't reconcile the joy each child exuded despite the abuse that most of them went through.  It broke my heart.  I truly connected with each heart and was truly devastated to leave.  Saying goodbye was rough.  Through them 
I have experienced the depths of the resiliency and love of the human spirit.

However as I visited Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, I saw the worst of humanity in the depths of violence, poverty, and child exploitation.   I could not walk a few steps without being visited by a bruised, beaten, and emaciated child begging for money or even worse a girl of no more that 12-14 years old being solicited by middle-age men.  My skin would crawl and my stomach was in knots every single time I saw such lack of value for these precious souls.

I am so thankful for the life I am blessed with. With the little resources that I have, I will make a difference...I can and I will. Watch me! Better yet, join me.

<![CDATA[The next chapter...]]>Wed, 04 Jul 2012 20:10:31 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/the-next-chapterPicture
The Heart Connection journey started with a sweat lodge and another chapter begins with a sweat lodge at the end of June.  My wonderful soul sisters sent me off in April and Esalen Institute was my first stop on my journey to learn more about creating a retreat center and intentional community.  It was a magical time and I can't wait to incorporate all that I experienced into Dragonfly Healing Center.  After my second sweat lodge at Esalen, I visted our leader at his home.  I was completely floored and honored when he invited me to join the Esselen tribe.  I'm looking forward to becoming a part of this family.  I truly see Esalen Institute as a source of inspiration for us here at Dragonfly Healing Center.

The next stop on my journey is Cambodia.  I will be as a participant in the Buds to Blossoms Pediatric Massage Volunteer Program which will take me to Cambodia. There I and my fellow volunteers will live at a rural AIDS orphanage for two weeks providing gentle massage to over two hundred children with HIV to foster their health, well-being and development.  A number of the children we will care for at the AIDS orphanage were abused, raped and enslaved before arriving there. The children's immune systems are severely compromised, and some have infections which cause painful, disfiguring sores to erupt on their skin. Only a narrow range of treatments for HIV are available in Cambodia, and the children are in danger of developing full-blown AIDS at any time. Newly-orphaned children come into the care of the orphanage on a regular basis and are sometimes emaciated and in the last stage of AIDS.  Our volunteer group will promote the children's health and their chances of surviving HIV infection by providing them with the proven immune system-strengthening effect of gentle massage. The massages we give will also help relieve the children's pain and anxiety and meet their emotional needs for nurturing contact with caring adults.

<![CDATA[“A Little Book of Aloha: Hawaiian Proverbs and Inspirational Wisdom”]]>Fri, 18 May 2012 19:02:05 GMThttp://www.dragonflycenter.org/blog/a-little-book-of-aloha-hawaiian-proverbs-and-inspirational-wisdomSitting with Sharon at IMS

“Faith is not a singular state that we either have or don’t have, but it is something that we do.  Faith is the willingness to take the next step, to see the unknown as an adventure, to launch a journey.  For faith to be alive and to deepen we need to use our power to inquire, to wonder, to explore or experience to see what is true for ourselves.  This requires us to approach life with an inquisitive, eager, self-confident capacity to probe and question.  It requires us to examine where we place our faith, and why, to see if it makes us more aware and loving people.  To develop a verified faith we need to open to the messiness, the discordance, the ambivalence, and above all, the vital life force of questioning.  If we don’t, our faith can wither.  If we don’t, our faith will always remain in the hands of someone else, as something we borrow or abjure, but not as something we can claim as our own.”

 --Faith by Sharon Salzberg