Gratitude as a Practice

Gratitude as a Practice


Written by Alison Gurevich 

542 days ago I began a gratitude practice.  I write down 10 things I am grateful for, and it’s usually the last thing I do before I go to sleep.  Everyday.  I am on my third journal – that’s 5,420 things I’ve taken the time to write down my gratitude for.

Although it seems everyone and their sister talks about gratitude and gratitude journaling (Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Tony Robbins and countless others) I had never quite found my rhythm with it. I finally did after reading “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis.  In the book she details her “Five to Thrive”, five key practices for mental and physical health.  They included things I was already doing (drinking plenty of water) and things I was not (writing down 10 things every day I was grateful for).   I was on vacation and stumbled across a half used old composition book of my daughters that I had torn out the used pages and intended to use for to do lists or notes or some such thing.  I decided to give it a 30-day commitment.

And then I just kept going.  And going.  I have no end date. I will not be done with gratitude when I get to 1,000 or some other magical number.  After this many days it has become a part of my day, like brushing my teeth.  Here is what works for me and how I keep it going:

Why 10?

The book said 10.  Not 10 big things, but more specifically 10 little things.  I’ve found 10 is enough that it never gets too easy.  I can whip through five or six things off the top of my head.  I usually have to dig a little deeper and revisit my memories of the day to get to 10.

Why at night?

The goal is to be mindful of gratitude during your day.  When you know you have to make a list at the end of the day, the brain begins to notice more things as they happen and tries to remember them.  That bit of extra attention matters!

Why I use dollar store comp books…

I have found I have to keep this low key.  I know myself, and by keeping this practice casual, I don’t feel bad on the nights I am scribbling in a way that is barely recognizable. I have a part of my head that thinks a fancy journal requires fancy thoughts in fancy penmanship.  When I’m feeling grateful that the kitchen soap dispenser was fixed (day 40) I don’t need to question if that gratitude is a big enough one, or if my handwriting looks nice enough.


Sort of.  I almost always do this at night.  I take my gratitude journal on vacation.  But… I am a human and I give myself grace and space.  If I miss a day, I just do it as soon as I can the next day.  I still try to write down things that are from the prior day, but I also do not stress about it and I fill in with extra things from the current day. 


Spending a few minutes each day focused on gratitude has given me a structure to pay more attention to the good parts that exist in every day.  There have been days it has been a challenge, days I had to reframe some things that happened to see anything worth being grateful for, and days when I could have easily written 50 things.   I invite you to give this practice a try, to allow more space in your day to notice the small things, and the freedom to find your own rhythm in how you put this practice into your life.


Making Space for New Ideas

Making Space for New Ideas


Written by Alison Gurevich 

Over the weekend I painted a room so we could move the office in there from the room just down the hall.  Just one year ago I painted the first room our agreed upon office color and we sort of moved everything in.  But we never really moved into the space.  We used it, but never really settled into it.  Much of what should have gone in there was still in boxes.

Changing the use of a couple of rooms was a weirdly big and hard decision.  We moved into this house a year ago and knew it the process of deciding to buy a two-bedroom home that we needed to put an addition on it before we could really move in.  In all of that planning and designing we had committed not just to the structure of the house but also to a specific usage of each part of the house.  Ahead of rooms even existing we had to know what it would all be for so we could know exactly what we were adding and how much to add.  That was a lot of commitment to both form and function.

Now, a year removed from those decisions I sat in that office once again pondering why it just didn’t seem to work.  Did we need to ditch the furniture and start over?  Was there some way of rearranging the furniture that would magically solve the rooms weird overstuffed feel?  Why was the room so full when it was not even unpacked?

Was the room too small or were we thinking too small?

In building the addition we took a phrase I had often heard in my yoga practice and turned into a very physical reality.  We tasked ourselves to “make space for something new”, but we ended up just making new space.  We constructed a very real space for something new.  Then we moved right in and started using all those spaces for the same old things in the same old ways.

After yet another lengthy, detailed conversation rehashing every possibility we could come up with within those four walls I suggested swapping the room with another.  Both rooms are rectangles with four walls.  The new room is larger but the biggest difference is where the window is.  The placement of one window was what was keeping the other room from working.  We went through the options yet again then committed to the swap.

The new room worked immediately.  It has a sense of ease, like it was made to be this room in this purpose.  That might sound dramatic, but how you feel when you enter a room tells you something if you are listening.

The same applies to my yoga practice – how I feel when I enter a shape tells me something if I am listening.  Sometimes the window is in the wrong place.  Sometimes I’m looking to fix how a shape feels with what seems like every option but I’m making no progress because I’m still limiting the options I’m considering by thinking small.  

In our vinyasa asana practice, we create space in our body before and as we enter the shape.  We rise, and then we fold.  We extend, and then we twist.  We inhale for length, we exhale for depth.  We create this space knowing we need it where we are going.  But sometimes we are too attached to that one vision of where we are going to feel if that is the right space for us to fit into.

So this week, both on and off the mat I’ll be listening deeply to what my body is saying.  I’ll make sure the window is in the right place, and that I’m not so focused on looking at an idea contained by just four walls to open the door and look at the other rooms I could be using. 



Overfunctioning, Underfunctioning, and the Search for Balance

Overfunctioning, Underfunctioning, and the Search for Balance



Written By Alison Gurevich  

In the last year I discovered the work of Dr. Brene Brown.  It feels odd to use her full name and title because in my head we are good friends.  Her research is fascinating and the hours we’ve spent with her speaking directly to me (okay, fine – they were audio books) gave me more than a few insights on my path to know myself better. 

My favorite new-to-me concept from Brene is that of overfunctioning and underfunctioning.  The distinction was developed by psychologist Murray Bowen and to keep it simple both are stress/anxiety responses: over does too much, under does too little.  I typically thought of anxiety responses as simply fight of flight (freeze being a newer addition to the list) and did not give it much more space in my mind.  If I was not running from the room or having some sort of argument, I assumed I was doing fine.   

The reality is far more nuanced.  I am someone who does things.  I’m rarely still, because of all the doing. A few years back my yoga practice was a five day a week hot power practice and I had those classes booked as soon as the month started – along with everything else – so that my calendar was filled well in advance and I knew exactly where I could fit in more doing.   Just hovering my mouse over the word ‘does’ my computer is quick to let me know it means to fix, perform, make or solve.  Everything in my day would have fit neatly under one of those.  But occasionally something would pop up and I just could not seem to bring myself to get it done.

The story I told myself about this was both easy and easily accepted: I was so busy no one could expect me to get everything done.  But being a valid reasoning did not make it fully honest, and the more complete story is that in those tasks I know and now admit that I felt some anxiety. My normal tends toward overfunctioning but my anxiety response is fully underfunctioning with a bonus of skipping out on even acknowledging the anxiety by overfunctioning on other things at the same time.  As Brene Brown says, “For overfunctioners, it is easier to do than to feel.”   

Thankfully, yoga brought me towards balancing this even before Brene and I developed our current one-sided friendship.  Before I discovered Brene, I discovered yin yoga.  Yin was my first real journey into sitting with feeling and offered no mechanism to speed up the process.  Yin brought me to stillness and meditation, the counter to all my doing.  It was so distinctly not “doing” anything that it was tough.   Do not stretch to your fullest?  Do not move for 3 or more minutes?  Why am I just laying here? 

Yin was the hardest class in my week, the hardest part of my day.   My brain would plan the next ten years in the first 3-minute pose.  Only 57 minutes to go, which of the world’s problems shall we solve while here in caterpillar? Sometimes by the last couple of shapes I would experience a breath (or two) without my mind filling the space with mental gymnastics, blaming, list making, fixing and doing. And on those days, I left with a calm and a balance that stayed for a while. 

I believe that yin yoga originally felt like underfunctioning to my brain. Over time and with consistent practice I have reconciled that into a space of yin and yang balancing each other.  This balance did not come by merely coexisting side by side in my calendar, but in each side understanding why it needs the other to exist.  As with the symbol, there is a circle of yin in my yang and a circle of yang in my yin.  There is still plenty of full speed ‘doing’ in my life, but I also now give myself a lot more grace and space to slow down and feel what’s happening in the moment so that I can recognize when I am too yang and heading out of balance.

We may each cope differently, but every single human is processing some level of anxiety on any given day.  Some of us will overfunction as a form of the fight response, and some will underfunction as a form of the flight response, and most will find a mix of the two. I’m here with you.  I’m doing both my yin and my yang yoga and keeping tabs on how and what I am feeling at any given moment.  In this, my yoga practice has given me an amazing barometer on how I am doing at “hanging in”, a term Harriet Lerner uses to describe being in the more balanced place of neither over nor under functioning.

So if you ask me how I’m doing, I just might skip the typical “fine” and tell you instead that I’m hanging in.  I hope you are too.



The Gift of Rest

The Gift of Rest


Written by Emily O’Brein

We’ve all experienced so many changes over the past few weeks, and with those changes an added layer of stress.  Working parents have adapted to homeschooling, essential workers have been burdened by the risks their work carries while others have found themselves suddenly without a job, families and friends have been unable to share one another’s company, and so many of us have faced fear for our own health and the health of those we love. In one way or another, we’ve all been squeezed by our current circumstances. But while currently our stress levels may be heightened, the reality is that many of us are chronically plagued by stress.

Our modern world increasingly demands more out of us in the name of success, glorifying busyness and promoting the hustle. Our drive and our dreams are admirable, and have often brought about great results; however, our efforts aren’t always sustainable. Our bodies and minds bear the brunt of this fast-paced culture, we are constantly stimulated and forced into living from our sympathetic nervous system—meaning our body’s fight or flight response is rarely dormant. In the short term, this response is protective for us, allowing us to respond to danger. But the long-term effects of chronic stress and an over stimulated sympathetic nervous system are detrimental to our physical and mental health.

So what are we to do about it? While we’re unable to completely change this reality of the busy world we live in, we do get to choose how we respond to it and how we make space to receive the gift of rest. We’re so often afraid to stop and take time to rest in fear of missing out or looking lazy or weak. But if we are to live in our fast-paced world in a sustainable and healthy way, rest needs to be a priority. Not just rest in the sense of taking more vacations, or getting a good night of sleep—although time away to reset and quality sleep are important as well. When I say rest, I’m referring to intentional time to pause and allow ourselves to slow down, time to let our parasympathetic nervous system kick in and restore our bodies to equilibrium. This is often referred to as our ‘rest and digest’ mode, and when activated, our heart rate and blood pressure decrease while our body’s digestion and ability to recuperate increase. When our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, it allows our overactive sympathetic nervous system response to switch off, inviting us to move out of an anxious and stressed space into a space of restoring our body and mind. Our breath becomes, full, slow, and deep. Our body can repair and restore. And we are able to feel more alive and present, more capable of handling the challenges and stress that life brings.

As we face these uncertain and stressful times, now more than ever we need to cultivate sustainable rhythms of rest to carry us through this difficult season and beyond. While our culture has become quite skilled at disconnecting from our stress, through exercise, Netflix binges, alcohol, and even “zoning out” on the internet, this disconnecting is not the same as resting and resolving our stress (a.k.a. turning on our parasympathic nervous system response). To rest well in a way that is restorative for our bodies and minds, we have to make intentional space to practice rest. And just as it takes time to learn how to swim, ride a bike, do a handstand, or make a perfect latte, it can take time to learn how to rest well. A simple way to start practicing rest, is incorporating slow moments into your day where you intentionally slow down, pause, and practice presence. For the average person it takes around 15 minutes to settle into the place of relaxation where our cortisol (stress hormone) levels start to decrease, our breathing and heart rate slows, and our body’s relaxation response (activation of the parasympathetic nervous system) kicks in.

If slowing down sounds challenging to you and your current lifestyle, making time for 15 minutes of rest in your day can be a great place to start. First, it can help to identify what factors or triggers prevent you from being at ease and taking time to rest. By identifying what disrupts your ease you can intentionally create space to rest and control your reaction to those triggers. This could look like turning your phone on silent or putting it in another room during your time of resting, jotting down the to-do list running through your mind so you can focus on resting, or choosing to relocate to another space that allows you to be more at ease (e.g. moving from your desk to your backyard). Second, ask yourself what actions or activities bring you a sense of ease and help you reconnect to yourself. Maybe for you this is being in nature, meditation, prayer, or journaling. Asking yourself these two questions can be a great way to help you find a practice of rest that feels restorative for you. If deciphering that feels daunting, here are some great places to start:

·       -15 minutes of sitting or walking without distraction. Notice your breath and your surroundings. If you’re in a location where you can do so safely, try taking your shoes off and noticing the feeling of the ground beneath you as you walk.

·   -15 minutes of a Restorative  yoga pose, (like supported savasana or a comfortable seated position).

Notice your breath and the sensation of where your body contacts the mat/floor. Allow tension to melt with each exhale.

·      –15 minutes of journaling. An easy prompt to start journaling with is simply writing about the things you are grateful for that day (no thing is too big or small).

Don’t think you have 15 minutes? Start with 5. During that time challenge yourself to experience those moments of rest with yourself presently and wholeheartedly, eliminating as much distraction as possible. Remember, it takes time to cultivate a practice and it’s okay to start small. As you consistently make space for rest in your daily rhythms you will notice that it becomes more natural. If you’re looking to move beyond those 15 minute practices, you can try adding Yin and Restorative yoga classes into your practice. Not only are these practices a great balance to the more Yang styles of yoga such as Vinyasa, but they also promote our body’s relaxation response and are a great way to practice rest. 

I hope that in the midst of this crazy time full of so much uncertainty, loss, and stress that these moments of rest feel like little gifts during your day. Times to be restored and filled up, to become more at ease, more grateful, more present and more capable of extending kindness. As Mark Buchanan says, “Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest”, and I hope that you experience that growth in rest during this season. 

Have you given daily relaxation a try? How do you like to practice rest? I’d love to hear about your experience, so feel free to leave a comment below. 


Let’s Fly Together

Let’s Fly Together

Written by Tommasina Marlow
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
Pema Chodron
Oh, how quickly our lives changed! I sit here late at night oddly reminded of my youth. I can stay up late, listen to classical music and write. Oh, how long since I have lived so simply! I feel oddly at peace in this moment. As I reflect back over the last few weeks, what comes to mind is just how much duality we are all experiencing. I myself have flip flopped back and forth between so many emotions it has been like watching a tennis match.
Life as we know it has suddenly been changed. At first, I felt denial. I made jokes to ease the unsettled feeling growing. But, slowly everything began to shut down and I was faced with fear for how to provide for my family. I felt panic as I decided how to stretch food and worried about the weeks to come. In such a mindset, I struggled to figure out technology and the basics of translating my skills teaching to something compatible for online. My mind was blocked because I was gripped with worries.
So what I have noticed is that there is a huge opportunity right now in the way my life has changed to witness the dualistic nature of my thoughts and emotions. For as I settled into quarantine, I oddly shifted gears. I got more sleep. I ate better as I had time to prepare food and be mindful. I began to find humor in the absurdity of the situation and let myself relax. From that place, I became creative. I began to recreate how I worked. From that open place, I picked up new skills quickly.
Since that point, I have dipped back into fear when my daughter became ill and bounced back to feeling warm and happy again as she began to improve. Gratitude rewarmed my heart with the generosity of the community in their encouragement and support. Back and forth, back and forth…I will have a negative thought and my outlook and feelings follow. Then, it shifts with a positive.
Now, I understand full well the power of neutrality. What I mean is first I change something I consider negative into positive by finding good in what might be a dark situation. That’s a great first step but then I get attached to feeling good and ultimately fear losing that feeling so swing back to the other side. Ultimately, my peace comes in being neutral and simply witnessing what is before me. From that neutral place, I simply live. In recent years, this has brought me such a sense of freedom. That said, the circumstances of the last few weeks have made it clear I am not quite enlightened yet. I jest a bit in that comment. I am going to go ahead and admit I am human. But, the time feels so ripe to grow…to learn to fly.
So here’s what I am taking a long time getting around to saying. For every thought and feeling we have right now the opposite is true. I feel distanced from my friends but I feel closer to my daughter. I feel unsettled by my schedule being off but I feel recharged by my schedule changing. I feel fearful of the future yet excited too by the global shift that can happen due to all our lives being disrupted. Yep, we were thrown out of the nest big time and could collectively learn to fly if enough of us catch on.
I say “we” now because I do not believe that even in isolation we are alone. We are connecting now in ways we have not before. We are becoming more and more creative. Something is happening. If you have a moment of fear, know you are not alone and like me you are probably just human. I will tell you what works for me. I keep starting over with a deep breath and then steadily like we do on the mat in yoga class meter my breath. Slowly, I feel my heart that had constricted in fear begin to open in courage again. Somehow my eyes clear when my heart opens. Those friends you miss on the mat beside you are still here. Our mats are just set up a little farther away. Your open heart though is connected to them and to me. And, our physical studio we love so much, if we suspend our belief that it resides in physical form, we can see that it is alive and well virtually.
I miss all of you in one moment. Yet, in the next moment, I do not because I feel you and see you online and realize it is just my attachment to the physical that makes you seem like you are not there. Dear yoga community, now is our time to practice in the deepest way. Until we sit around the big table at Oya drinking tea again, know that I pour my cup at home as you pour yours and a part of us shares it just in a new way. Neutrality. Our current situation just is and yet our truth is the same. We are connected.

Corona Virus – Prevention and Treatment

Corona Virus – Prevention and Treatment

Basic / Essential Protocol for Prevention

Vitamin C 5000 mg    1x daily 
Zinc 50 mg    1x daily 
Vitamin A 20,000 units     1x daily 

NOTE: for increasing risk of exposure or epidemic – increase to 2x daily 

Additional Considerations – one of the following:

Echinacea    1 – 2x daily 
1,3 BetaGlucan   1 – 2x daily 
Mushroom Immune support (ganoderm, shiitake)   1 – 2x daily 

NOTE: for increasing risk of exposure or epidemic – increase to 2x daily

Personal Hygiene – basics:

Wash hands frequently
Hand sanitizer – silver, essential oils

Corona Virus Protocol for Treatment

Vitamin C 2500 mg 6x  daily * 1 – 2 weeks, then 2x daily 
Zinc 25 – 50 mg 2x daily * 1 week, then 1x daily 
Vitamin A 20,000 units  3x daily * 1 week, then 1x daily * 1 week
Monolauren tablets 3  tablets 4x daily * 1-2 weeks, then reduce gradually  
Colloidal / Hydrosol Silver        
Day 1- 1 tbsp hourly – hold in mouth * 2 minutes, swallow 
Day 2 – 5 – every 3 hour
Day 6 – 10 – every 8 hours 
Nebulize DILUTE Peroxide or Silver   every hour – as needed or directed 
Custom Homeopathic viral every hour – as directed 

NOTE: IV Therapy should or can be started for worsening symptoms 

IV Therapy options:

  • IV Vitamin C          
  • IV Dilute peroxide 
  • IV Silver                
  • IV Ultraviolet light therapy 
  • IV ozone 

Questions regarding the protocol or if suspected viral illness can be addressed by appointment (phone or office) 

Real Health Medical – Rhett Bergeron MD – 2/2020