Ditching Evaluation

What if- just for a little while today we gave up all that constant evaluation of everything, most of all, our own sweet selves.

Evaluation, while it does have an eventual place under certain conditions, is generally just a form of death in which we give up our choice.

Because if we decide ahead of time whether something is either “good, bad, friendly or mean,” we eliminated all choice and are basically saying I’m not actually here and have no reason to be because I already “know” how it’s going to turn out. And we write off others in their truth and so much possibility!

But part of the juice and excitement in life IS making choices as we step moment by moment into the beautiful wild uncertainty of life.


Free First Saturday Meditation

Join me for a free community meditation this Saturday. If it’s nice we’ll practice outside in the lovely garden.


Open to all regardless of experience. Perfect for you folks out there who have thought about meditation but wonder what it is, if you can even do it (hint: YOU CAN!) All you need is your body, heart and mind and the determination to come with an sense of open curiosity. Also for experienced practitioners. Guided vipassana or insight mediation, which uses the breathe as a guide into our present moment experience.

I recommend bringing a notebook or your favorite journal with you. We do a little writing after we sit to check in with ourselves, noticing small changes, bringing awareness into consciousness.

We have some meditation benches and cushions but if you have your own, please bring it with you.

May all find and know peace.


Just one question for you.

What’s one thing in your life about the way you think, speak or behave that you most wish you could change?  
And this is not to bring up any judgment, criticism, or shame. This is simply an invitation to step courageously into our vulnerability, and see what’s there. And knowing, as Brene Brown puts it, that we are hardwired for struggle. We are made to get through this. We can get through this, and as Sylvia Boorstein puts it, we can get through our struggles with a bit more grace.

And, this exercise is not just to make a list and be like wow, that’s depressing. But rather to create a list that will really help us make the kinds of changes that are really aching deep in our hearts, souls and minds for transformation. Myself I’d like to be more patient.

So how about some full disclosure here? 

Myself, I’d like to be more patient. Some years ago I got a tattoo on my left wrist just on the inside of it so that I could see it wherever I was in whenever I was doing and be reminded. 

Pause. Breathe.

Take a break. 

See what feels real but may not be true. Beware of the other person’s perspective. 

I’ve gotten so much better with this but I find usually lately that it’s not the big things that drive me bat shit crazy, but sometimes the little things totally catch me.

I’d also like to deepen my practice and meditation so that some of the old dragons  in my heart and mind can continue to wear themselves out so that I don’t feel so much like stepping away or pushing them down when those bad ole boys rear their ugly heads.

I want to practices as Pema Chodron  suggests in facing these dragons and demons directly, neither pushing them away, suppressing them but rather embracing them-looking them straight in the eye and without any judgment just observing so that slowly slowly over time they will wear themselves out and no longer have the grip over my emotions and cognitions that they may have once had.

 Something that I find very helpful to remember on a daily basis lately, is simply this; that every moment is the very perfect teacher. And that moment is available to us at all times. How fortunate we are to have this wise teacher available whenever we can be aware of its presence. 

So seize the day friends. Seize the peace. And make today amazing.

   And I’d love to hear from you below what are you struggling with, what would you most like to change, and what things have worked for you in the past? Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing. Together we can make the world be the change we want to see. More love, more compassion, More empathy.


Tai Chi-Mindfulness for Youth

Dear calm and peaceful hive mind,

I want to offer a tai chi and mindful movement class for youth.

By youth, I mean elementary through middle school. Though, I’d be very interested in adding a class for teens specifically. (More on that later!)

8 year old meditating
from http://www.rawforbeauty.com

What time would be best for you all?

Saturdays are already full from 9-4 with a variety of classes. What say you?


Please suggest 1-3 options in comments below or email me and I’ll try to find what makes sense for the most of you. Thanks very much, Hillary

2014-05-27 11.36.29

Mindfulness for Children & Youth


I want Calm Chicago to offer mindfulness for little ones.

Please suggest 1-3 times and days which would best be suited for you.

Saturday is pretty much full already with other offerings. By little, I’m talking nursery school- kindergarten. Thanks!  Here’s a cool video of mindfulness at work with little ones.

Can’t wait to hear from you. Let’s make the world more peaceful one sweet child at a time.

Please suggest in comments below or in an email.

8 year old meditating


Saturday Coffee and Zen

Here is today’s reading from  

Every day that I read this book, something grabs my attention. Makes me focus. Startles me somehow. It feels like the pleasant smack of truth. 

So, here for your consideration is today’s smack:  


I know I’m a great over complicater. This reminds me that the thing that I crave most, a sense, a feeling of connection with others and with the rest of the world is simply a matter of fully paying attention. 

So, this is going to be my practice today. I don’t want to “half-experience things” I don’t want to carry the weight of my previous experiences because generally my feelings or thoughts about experiences can be negative. I want to put it all down and just do it. I want to feel complete, don’t you?

May all beings find peace. May we all help alleviate the suffering for all beings. Thank you so much for stopping by. I’d love to hear what you think.


Four Ways to Practice for Peace


1. Make time for practice. We all want things to be fabulous right now. And who can blame us?! But that can make us a wee bit impatient. Or we want things to be great now, which causes us to push away all that is perceived to be or feels unpleasant.

Think of meditation time as the time you take your medicine. I’m guessing here, but you probably wouldn’t think of going to the doctor, getting a prescription and then not taking it, or following through with the prescribed actions, like going to physical therapy. You’d still be sick and who could be blamed for that? Not the doctor.

We have to make time for our practice. It’s just that simple. Often we claim we don’t have time. But think of the time lost to panic, disordered thinking, feeling, mind-wandering etc. Hmmm. Studies indicate that on average we humans spend 49% of our time in mind wandering, which is associated with general malaise, unhappiness, depression, anxiety etc. Not to appealing huh? (Personally, I vote for happiness, flourishing and kindness.)

The thing is, if you make the time and in the beginning that might feel challenging but…schedule it, put it in your planner or phone or whatever you use to keep track of what’s what and when it’s time to practice, like Nike says, “JUST DO IT.” With time, you’ll notice there are moments of peace, of opening, of space between the 10,000 thoughts and emotions in the stream of life. And it will feel good to experience those. Some will be just fleeting moments but with practice, that feeling of greater calm, peace, inner stability, focus will become longer and more stable and life will become a bit more fabulous, one moment, one breath at a time.

Schedule that time. Start with what you can manage. Can you do 15 minutes..30? Is morning your time; lunch, evening – or some combination of those? I like to bookend y day with a little practice. Just about always, I practice in the morning, 30-45 minutes because that sets up my whole day and makes it go better; more mindfully, more generously – more awake to what is actually happening instead of being in the trance of imaginings. Whatever your amount of time is, just sit and be kind, curious, loving and determined. Drop those expectations. Just sit, breathe. Invite the border collie of the mind to come, sit, stay. Repeat. Repeat. Oh, yes – and SMILE, even just a little.


2. The Body Scan. The scan is great for checking in with the body to feel where our emotions are dwelling moment by moment. Many times we can feel an emotion arising in the body before we notice it in the mind. If we can bring awareness to that, sense that and relax the body…well, that’s a game changer because now we’ve just slowed everything way down and can see/feel the emotions and mental states, we can wake up to them sometimes, before we do or say something not so fabulous, harmful to ourselves or others. Yey to that!

The scan is also a great way to ease into sleep if the mind is running here and there, everywhere. Scanning with intention to relax, usually, I’m asleep before I get half way done. Keep in mind, that scanning for awareness as a mindfulness practice is one thing and scanning to relax and drop away to sleep is another. Mindfulness is about awakening to what is, right here and now.


3. Saying “Yes.” Suffering arises when the heart and mind resists what is. Saying “yes,” as a practice instead of saying, “no,” is about opening to what is unfolding for us, as it is and just letting it be. Not running away, suppressing but leaning into whatever it is with a sense of, “okay, this is going on now. That’s cool. Yes,” and just being with that. And of course, any time something feels like it’s really too much, you can always come back to the body, to the breath as a home base, a safe anchor and you can always seek extra support as you need it: the counsel of a good friend, a therapist. Saying yes, doesn’t mean we allow shitty things to just happen to us; mis-treatement of any kind and so forth is not cool, but we can say yes, to the feelings around that, which we usually reject; guilt, shame…


4. Three Gratitudes. Our poor lizard brains always want to highlight the negative in our experience. (sigh) But we can re-train the lizard to chill out and see the good in our lives. The more we do that, the happier we are. We can actually savor the good stuff, even the little moments.

So, try this for a week (at least.) Take ten minutes at the end of each day, and write down three things that went well in the last 24 hours. These can be things which happened to you or others, people you know or don’t know. Nothing is too big or too small. (Like breathing. The fact that we awoke and got to breathe all day is pretty damn amazing when you get right down to it. Even when that breathing is challenging for one reason or another…here we are after all, still alive.)

a) what went well?

b) what contributed to that happening?

c) how can I get more of that good stuff?

People who do this daily are happier. Check it out for yourselves.