How to make 2015 the best year of your life!

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” — Andrew Carnegie

It’s January, the beginning of a new year and a new you! Welcome to 2015 – now is the perfect time to set goals, get quiet and reflect deeply.

So where do you begin? Right where you are. Everything worthwhile in life is slightly outside your comfort zone. Safe, secure and comfortable is not where your bigger, better life lives. Goals that inspire and stretch your imagination are an invitation to your Higher Self to show up, saddle up, and live it up!

We believe that everyone has the power to change. You have the ability to transform your life at any point and at any time. The catch is that you have to want to change and be willing to do the work to change. Here’s an oldie but a goodie: it’s not enough to just wish for a skinnier waistline. You have to change your diet and activities to lose weight. For you to be the best YOU possible, YOU have to set goals and take inspired action. Give yourself deadlines. Be proactive. Go the extra mile. Smile. Enjoy the process. Celebrate your day-by-day wins.

Here are three tiny tips for achieving BIG results by getting quiet, reflecting on past accomplishments and challenges (aka learning opportunities) and setting goals worthy of Who You Are.

Sit and be silent. Sit, breathe and count your breaths. No matter how much you have on your plate or how many kids you have at your table, you absolutely can make the time to consciously count your breaths for 30 seconds. Breathe in, breathe out. You’ll relax immediately. When you access Silence, you access Spirit. So sit, be still and savor the silence.

Meditate and be mindful. Practice Chris’ free Qigong “Renewal of Spirit” meditation to balance mind, body and spirit… in less than 10 minutes! Click here for details

New Year, New You journal practice. With old-fashioned pen and paper, make a list of your accomplishments and what you learned in 2014. Once you’re in a joyful place on the page, make a new list of three to 10 goals for 2015. Close your journal session with one or two super huge crazy goals or wishes you have ZERO idea about how to achieve. For example, one of our goals (the Chris and Parisa show) in 2015 is to finish our second book on holistic health and well-being. Another one of our goals is to decrease our consumption while living balanced, healthy and happy lives. The super huge crazy goal we have a lifetime to fulfill? Chris winning the Nobel Peace Prize!

We hope for you today, this month, this year and forever that you achieve your wildest dreams and your biggest potentials. We’re all on this wild, wonderful ride together.

Let’s help each other and make 2015 the best year of our lives!

Love and Gratitude,
Chris & Parisa Shelton

Renewal of Spirit Meditation

This is an excerpt from  Chris Shelton’s book, “Qigong For Self-Refinement, Total Health with the 5 Elements”. Chp. 12 Pg. 74.

This meditation can be done daily or once a week, ideally on Sundays, to renew your Qi for the week. It is also ideal to do during any seasonal change such as the spring or vernal equinox. You can start with invocations and/or an energy cultivation practice, or simply begin.

1. As usual, start with the Three Regulations: Steady breath, relaxed mind, Wu Ji posture (feet shoulder width, shoulders relaxed and broad, tailbone tucked, Crown Point rising).
2. Pull Dow the Heavens three times.
3. Allow heavenly energy to descend. As this divine Qi descends, imagine that any and all dark turbid Qi from the body is pushed out through the feet, deep into the earth.
4. Start doing the Mystical Pearl Meditation: Focusing on your breathing, breathe deeply into the lower Dan Tian for 5 minutes. Imagine the Dan Tian filling with golden mystical light from the earth.
5. Now bring your awareness to the Third Eye, the center of the forehead, the Upper Dan Tian, and imagine a brown pearl turning there. Feel this brown pearl pulsating, rotating, vibrating.
6. Now imagine peeling away the brown skin of this pearl, then polishing it until it is brilliant white, shining, and filling the entire Upper Dan Tian with pure radiance, illuminating all your senses.
7. Next imagine that the white light descends through your body, cleansing everything in its path.
8. Now focus on the golden light of the Lower Dan Tian and allow the golden and white lights to mix. Feel the mixed energy cleansing every part of your body, both physical and emotional.
9. Imagine the cleansing energy moving down. Focus on the bottoms of the feet and imagine turbid energy leaving through the base of the balls of the feet, replaced by pure energy.
10. As you feel your body becoming purified, cleansing and rejuvenated, start to bring your awareness back tot he present.
11. Slowly awaken all your sensory organs one at a time. Start with your ears, allowing for a complete opening of the ears. Next, stimulate your saliva and the mouth, allowing for the mouth to fully awaken. Then awaken the nose, allowing for the sense of your nose to bring in positive life force energy.
12. Finally the pores of the skin: allow the pores to open, bringing your heightened awareness of everything around you. Feel your environment and your connected to everything.
13. Now, simply, relax. You are ready to start your day (week) with increased awareness, alertness, and profound tranquility, grounded and centered in your true nature.
14. Pull Down the Heavens three times, just for good measure.

Is it Really Better to Give than Receive?!

The holiday season is in full swing!

Hustling-and-bustling is a time-honored tradition this time of year. There’s so much to do and so many (nice and naughty) people to see. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass once humorously observed that those of us who think we’re “enlightened” should spend one week with family to see how kind and peaceful we really are.

In the light of eternity we are all nice and no one is full-time naughty. (Yes, even that relative who activates your “Liver Qi”.) We all have naughty behaviors and personality traits waiting to be transformed and healed. The holidays are a perfect time to practice what so many of us believe and preach: love, centeredness, courage, wisdom, kindness.

As the holidays approach Love is everywhere… and so are our blind spots. The situations that drive us bonkers and push our buttons are opportunities to stay open and not close down. (You know, charming holiday traditions like yelling too much, eating too much, drinking too much, judging too much, silently seething too much, etc.)

How appropriate that Five Element Theory heralds the winter holidays as the beginning of the peaceful and purifying Water Season.  And the 2500-year-old Tao Te Ching agrees. The Tao offers us timeless guidance about how to thrive in this busy beautiful world. Be like water and take comfort in knowing the holidays are packed with family, friends and festivities so we can grow, grow, grow. (Not growl.)

Water always takes the lowest position.

Obstacles do not hinder it.

It accommodates whatever is in its path and continues to flow forward.

It never loses its direction.

By remaining low it follows its true nature and its fundamental direction is not influenced by superficial obstructions.

Water is always ocean-bound, seeking to reunite with the whole.

To follow the way of water is to return to one’s spiritual essence.

Here are four tips for slowing down and flowing open this Winter Water season:

‘Tis better to give than receive. You don’t have to be a “material girl” or “material boy” to know we’re living in a material world. Giving doesn’t have to break the bank or your heart.  A simple gift of gratitude and kindness can change someone’s world. Your time and attention are two of your most precious gifts to share. No credit card required.

Go to bed early.  Think about how bears hibernate during the winter.  When the days are shorter, our bodies need more rest. So put down the eggnog and get up to bed! Sleep is proven to be one of the most restorative medicines around. And your zzzzz are free.

Eat the sea. The Water Element is associated with the Kidneys, an organ that thrives when it’s nourished with simple non-processed foods like wild-caught fresh fish and sea veggies (e.g., nori, wakame, dulse). Other favorites include tofu and black bean soup.   

Give yourself a pearl of wisdom. Kick up your Kidney Qi and your Life Essence by practicing the “White Pearl Qigong Mediation.” Click here for details about accessing more energy, vitality and joy this season and always.

We hope you flow through this holiday season with the ease and purity of water.

Happy Holidays!

Love and gratitude,

-Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane team

Attitude of Gratitude: Giving Thanks and Celebrating Love

It’s 11/11 our favorite day of the year! The C & P Show (Chris and Parisa!) were married three years ago today. But that’s not the only reason why we’re celebrating. We’re thankful that every day we have the opportunity to practice love and gratitude with you. What a perfect beginning to the Thanksgiving and holiday season. If I were to ask you what “gratitude” means, could you tell me? If I offered you a turkey drumstick (tofu stick if you’re vegetarian), could you explain how gratitude makes our lives happier and healthier? Me neither. Thank goodness for experts!

Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading scientificexperts on gratitude, says that gratitude is an “affirmation of goodness.” According to Emmons every time we practice gratitude we’re affirming to ourselves and others that the world is good and our lives are blessed with gifts. Gratitude teaches us that “other people – or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset – gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

According to Emmons’ The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley people who practice gratitude consistently report the following benefits:

• Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More joy, optimism, and happiness
• Acting with more generosity and compassion
• Feeling less lonely and isolated

Here are some useful tips for cultivating an attitude of gratitude this holiday season and always:

• Take time to give thanks. Right now, in this moment ask yourself, “What am I most thankful for?”
• Before you go to bed write down a Top 10 Gratitude List (like Oprah!)
• Send an old-fashioned, snail mail thank-you card to someone you love and appreciate; you’re thanking them for being wonderful and kind
• Exercise regularly and stay active. You’ll feel better from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Mindfulness traditions such as Qigong and yoga are proven stress-busters and peace-makers
• Be present and stay present. Focus on what you’re doing and what you’re feeling in this moment. (When you’re anxious, you’ve likely projected your fears into the future. Come back to the pre-sent, where all the action is.) Pay attention to your thoughts and don’t believe everything that pops into your head. Is the glass half full or half empty?! Perception is reality so see the world as benevolent and kind.

We so appreciate you, dear reader, for including us in your lives and for reading these posts every month. We believe everyone on this plant is connected. When you nurture the seeds of love, appreciation and gratitude in your heart, we all benefit. You don’t have to be an expert to know that when we share love, we spread love. Show kindness to yourself, extend and share that love with your inner circle, and watch the ripple effect take care of the rest; from you to the world. Imagine. What a gift to be the change you want to see in the world. Gratitude starts with YOU.

One love, one world, one giant thanks from us to you.

Love and Gratitude,
Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane Team

Lung Clearing Exercise

This is an excerpt from Chris Shelton’s book, “Qigong For Self-Refinement, Total Health with the 5 Elements”. Chp. 9 Pg. 53.

This exercise particularly clears and harmonizes the energy of the Lung. It is useful for reducing any of the physical or emotional complaints listed below, or it may be used as a general health practice. It is particularly beneficial during the autumn to help strength the lungs. It can also help release excess sadness and sorrow.

Physical signs:
•Shoulders rolled forward.
•Phlegm
•Chronic coughing
•Dry Skin(Eczema)
•Stools dry and hard or loose
•Aversion to cold or heat
•Easily catches colds or flu

Emotional signs:
•Lack of willpower
•Disinclination to talk
•Lack of assertiveness
•Feelings of sadness, disappointment
•Hypersensitivity
•Feeling exposed, vulnerable
•Unable to attain one’s goals

The Movement:

1. Start with the Three regulations: Steady breath, relaxed mind, Wu Ji posture (feet shoulder width, shoulders relaxed and broad tailbone tucked, Crown Point rising). The tongue should be lightly touching the roof of the mouth behind the upper teeth.

2. Pull Down the Heavens three times.

3. With the eyes gazing forward, allow the arms to float up in front of the body to shoulder height, palms facing down.

4. While inhaling, spread the arms out to the side, palms down, as though opening curtains. This movement expands the chest.

5. Turn your palms up and, while exhaling, bring your arms back to the front, to the center of your body, closing your chest.

6. Repeat, with a continuous flowing motion.

7. End by Pulling down the Heavens three times.
Notes

1. It is recommended to do this 3-6 times for health maintenance; 9-36 times when addressing a particular problem.

2. You may enhance the efficiency  of this exercise by saying the Lung sound “SSS” when exhaling.
 

 

Have you ever met someone you didn’t like?

This month we’re talking to all you hard-working people who have to interact with others on a daily basis. The more the merrier, right?! Not always. Have you ever met someone you didn’t like – almost immediately or right off the bat – but couldn’t explain the source of your dislike or discomfort?

So much of what we feel on the inside, conscious or unconscious, is expressed through how we look on the outside and what kind of feelings we inspire in other people. All of us are social animals and “fight or flight” is encoded in our genes. People’s nonverbal cues such as posture, voice, facial expression and body language tell us whether we’re safe and welcome (“I like this person”) or unsafe and unwelcome (“I’m outta here!”).

If you’re happy and feeling great, others feel your general vibe and are inspired to stay close to you. Remember, trust is a feeling. People trust people they enjoy being around because positive people uplift individuals and entire groups; sometimes just by being in the same room! Ever had a positive, joyful person walk into a boring party or a tense situation? Everyone perks up and shines in that person’s bright light.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling negative and grumpy, positive people will avoid you like the plague. They can actually feel your energy bring them down. You don’t even have to open your mouth. Of course, your negativity will attract fellow dark lights like Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer and Complainer Carl. But is that REALLY the kind of company you want to keep?

In the leadership book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t author Jim Collins lays out some impressive research about negativity. For example, negative interactions have a five-fold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions. It takes multiple encounters with positive people to offset the energy and happiness sapped by a single episode with just one nasty person!

So turn those frowns upside down. We all want to love and be loved. Let’s express a lot more loving-kindness to ourselves and the people in our lives. Here are five easy-to-follow tips for shaking off negativity. Shine your bright, positive light and people will enjoy and adore you even more than they do today.

  •  Honor your physical health as one of your most precious gifts (stress, anger and negativity are poisons)
  •  Ensure you have a daily routine that maintains a well-balanced mind, body and spirit (meditate, nourish, forgive)
  • Practice mirror talk and positive affirmations to connect and co-create with your Higher Self. Click here for more details about mirror talk.
  • Engage in regular physical activity you enjoy (make Nature part of your workout as much as possible)
  •  If someone or something bothers you consider doing the ancient Qigong practice “Shaking the Tree.” You can click here to learn how Chris recommends you “shake it off”.

We hope this month brings you happiness and clear communication with all who cross your path and guide you on your journey.

Love and Gratitude,
Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane Team

 

Mirror Talk

Another very simple technique I have used to address emotional issues and create positive change in my life is to talk to myself in the mirror. This may be uncomfortable because it’s difficult to face yourself; however, persevere because the practice can bring unexpected benefits.

This is an excerpt from Chris Shelton’s book, “Qigong For Self-Refinement, Total Health with the 5 Elements”. Chp. 19 Pg. 104

In addressing emotional issues, talk to yourself in the mirror with compassion and curiosity. Try to find out what is really going on. What is at the root of the problem? Is it fear? Resentment? Jealousy? Your inner self is doing the best that he/she can; simply try to understand. It will seem like you become your higher self talking to your physical self. See what come up, and allow your higher self to deal with it, keeping in mind your goal of achieving health and harmony.

This technique can also be used to co-create with your higher power (whatever you conceive that to be) positive attributes. In co-creating, there are two important principles to keep in mind. First, always talk and think in terms of the positive. For example if you know you are a controlling person, which is a Liver dysfunction in Chinese medicine, do not say to yourself “Please help me not be a controlling person!” Instead say “I choose to be loving, compassionate, patient, and tolerant!” (or whatever the opposite of controlling is for you). In this way you will always affirm and manifest the positive. Secondly, as you speak to your “self” in the mirror always speak in the present tense. Do not say “I will one day be compassionate,” or “I want to be compassionate.” Rather, say “I am compassionate!” This is not wishful thinking. In face you ARE whatever you want to be. The fact that you can conceive of it means that you have the kernel of that quality in yourself; now you want to bring out that quality and let it flourish.

One of my clients recommends continuing this mirror talk until you break into laughter. Laughter is a sure and certain sign of health. Remember, happiness is your natural state.

This practice can be found in Chris Shelton’s book “Qigong For Self-Refinement”.  Available on Amazon, MorningCrane.com, and ChrisShelton.net

 

Tips to improve your Energy

As summertime comes to an end morning traffic thickens. Schedules are shifting and days are shortening. Seasonal transitions are a powerful time to check in and uncover the parts of your life desiring change and growth. You can access your inner Earth element by asking, How can I live a more purposeful, happier and healthier life? What small changes can I start making right now?” We believe the first step in answering these kinds of life-enriching questions lies in harnessing and cultivating your Qi.

Qi or chi (pronounced chee like in “cheese”) is life-force energy that emanates from all things. When we say “all things” we mean everything in the Universe; everything tangible and intangible. Humans are definitely a manifestation of Qi. We are energetic beings with physical bodies that are impacted by our thoughts, feelings, senses (all six of them!) and environment. Our bodies are a microcosm of the macrocosm, which is the Universe. It’s not by accident that what we think about we bring about. Everything is interconnected so always be mindful of what you’re broadcasting to the Universe through your thoughts, actions and deeds.

Here are five ways that strengthen your Qi and attract balance and harmony into your life.

“White Pearl” meditation
Sit or stand comfortably. Imagine a white pearl sitting in the center of your lower abdomen just below your navel. As you inhale through your nose, the pearl gets brighter and lighter. Exhale through your nose and imagine the pearl energy filling your kidney area and lower back. Click here for more details.

Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is your body’s time to restore and replenish your Qi. We’re firm believers that sleep is imperative to attracting health and joy into our lives. Adults need a minimum of seven hours of deep sleep a night. Get your rest and relaxation by getting your nightly zzzzz.

Exercise regularly
Moving your body means moving your blood, fluids and Qi. Perspiration is the most effective way our body eliminates toxins from our bodies and toxic thoughts from our minds. Make an effort to generate a light sweat every day through gentle movements such as Pilates, Yoga or TRX.

Laugh and smile
Have you ever noticed that smiles are contagious? It’s difficult to frown and scowl when in the presence of a happy, smiling person. No wonder. New research shows that one smile activates the same amount of pleasurable brain simulation as 2000 chocolate bars! So keep on the sunny side of life and keep on smiling.

Pay attention to your emotional health
Toxic thoughts and negative emotions are the leading causes of disease. “Your issues live in your tissues.” (-Nikki Myers) Learn to balance emotional awareness (how you’re feeling) with spiritual acceptance (you are not your thoughts). Qigong meditation practices are powerful, ancient ways of transforming negative emotional states into peaceful mindfulness. Qigong uses our body’s movements to quiet our mind’s inner chatter.

We hope this month brings you healthy and vibrant Qi. May the Qi be with you.

Love and Gratitude,
Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane Team

White Pearl Meditation

Click here to down load White Pearl Meditation.

This is an excerpt from Chris Shelton’s book, “Qigong For Self-Refinement, Total Health with the 5 Elements”. Chp. 1 Pg. 6

1.   From the Wu Ji posture, begin relaxing down the body, front, back, and center.  
 
2.   Keeping your breathing long, smooth, even, and deep, begin pulling the breath into the lower abdomen, the lower Tan Tien located about one inch below the navel. Inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
 
3.   Feel as the breath expands the abdomen front, back, left, and right simultaneously.
 
4.   This expansion and contraction, fills the lower Tan Tien.
 
5.   Imagine all the energy from the heavens and your tissues filling up the lower Tan Tien like a white mystical pearl, expanding and contracting with each inhalation and exhalation until this pearl becomes brighter and thicker with energy.
 
6.   As you inhale the pearl expands with white light energy. As you exhale the energy from the pearl fills and restores the left and right kidneys.
 
7.   Continue to do this breathing pattern over and over. This meditation will help ground your energy as well as restore your vitality.

 

Click here to down load White Pearl Meditation.

Tips for staying cool, calm, & collected this Summer

Summer is in full swing now! Did you know that when the weather is sizzling your insides are feeling hot, hot, hot?

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Fire Element is associated with summer. Mania and overexcitement are common negative emotions connected with this time of year. You may feel overextended, overworked or even overjoyed. If you’ve been reading our stuff regularly (we hope so!) you know we are advocates for living a balanced existence. Too much of anything – yes, even joy – is never an ideal situation for your body, mind and spirit. By examining the relationship between summer’s Fire Element and the duality of yin and yang we can learn to live in balance and harmony irrespective of how fiery life feels.

During each of the four seasons it’s important to pay attention to the most dominant element at play (i.e., Fall/Metal, Winter/Water, Spring/Wood, Summer/Fire) so you can counter-balance the element’s impact on your health. For example, summer is associated with the Fire Element so be sure to add more Water Element to your summer routine. While Fire is considered “yang,” which is associated with feelings of aggression, loudness and busyness, water is its opposite (“yin”) and plays out as passive, quiet and relaxed moods. When Fire and Water are properly balanced life flourishes. Placed in the right position Fire and Water produce steam, which is so powerful it moves trains – and your body! A proper blending of Fire and Water moves our blood and fluids in perfect harmonious balance, which increases our health and vitality.

An excess of Fire Energy can produce high-blood pressure, hypertension and cause stroke and heart attack. It’s not an accident that our risk of suffering heart failure raises as the temperature spikes upward. When it’s hot outside drink plenty of room-temperature water. (Ice water actually creates more heat in the body.) Remember to eat foods that nourish the Water Energy of your body.

Here’s an easy-to-follow list of foods you can eat this summer to keep your Fire Energy and Water Energy in balance. Full steam ahead into summer fun and health!

Fruits
Melons like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. Cucumber, pears, grapes, tomatoes, raspberries and black berries.

Veggies
Celery, snow peas, radishes, sprouts, summer squash, zucchini, cabbage, broccoli, seaweed, corn and potatoes. Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, chard. Enhance your body?? Water Energy by steaming or lightly saut?ing veggies.

Drink
Drink mint and chrysanthemum tea. Avoid ice-cold drinks and enjoy room-temperature water with lemon and peppermint.

( *Special shout-out to the Yo San University’s June 2014 newsletter)

Our hope for you this month is to keep cool, calm and collected!

Love and Gratitude,
Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane Team