google-site-verification=dKVi2OSMsLDyrYciyQKuSBI5vUuyWAFoj5iCBdEyOaA THE PULSE | Blog |be.still


Have you lost your mind? Sometimes I feel I’ve lost mine. Especially in these times.

Globally, we human beings have experienced hateful racist crimes, law enforcement atrocities, pandemic sickness, and social isolation, loss of jobs and financial stability, bizarre weather patterns, and political outrage. And that’s just outside the home. Inside our cozy nests, we may experience cabin fever, social media fatigue, extended work hours, and futile arguments over whose turn it is to do the dishes. This auspicious year of 2020 so far has turned out to be quite the test for one’s endurance and resilience. But in hindsight, 2020 may prove to be the most awakening year of our lives, if we find the mind we’ve lost and practice mindfulness.

What have you learned so far? How has making the shift of running around to being still opened your eyes to what’s important to you? And what have you found is indeed important to you? Sure, a mani-pedi wouldn’t suck right about now, but will that really fulfil your heart’s deepest desire? How have cooking together and eating more meals with your family (or with friends on Zoom) enhanced the quality of your connections? Have you taken the time to appreciate the little things, like birds singing us awake in the morning or a quiet cup of coffee you brewed yourself? What closets have you finally cleared out because you have what no money can buy -- more time at home. And have you noticed that you have more than enough jeans and lip liner and cotton swabs, perhaps enough to donate half of it and still have more than you could ever need? What new hobbies have you taken on? The New York Times crossword puzzle, or paint by numbers, or even meditation?

Meditation is the antidote to every distraction in the universe. It’s a mental and physical time out, a chance for the mind and body to rest, recover, and reset, so that when you open your eyes you see more clearly. Think of it as wiper fluid for your brain. Each of us has this built-in mechanism to restore our nervous system to calm, balance, and ease. Just put your meat in a seat and slow down the breath. Simple, right? Right. But not always easy. We tell ourselves we are just too busy. Or we feel our brain is wildly active, what Buddhists call ‘monkey mind.” Clients tell me, “I just can’t meditate. I can’t shut my brain off,” and I tell them that if they are able to shut their brain off they need to check their pulse to see if they are alive. It’s not about having no thoughts, it’s about slowing down the thoughts. And I should know, because I was one of those people who swore they couldn’t sit for more than one minute. And now, after 20 years of dedicated daily practice, I’m up to 20 minutes on most days.

There are several ways to meditate, either by repeating a mantra (a word or words to focus your attention on) to yourself, or by noticing thoughts and letting them go, or by following the breath or by imagining yourself in a peaceful place in nature. There are many paths to follow to one destination: peace and quiet in our home called the self.

Self-care is not selfish. It is the one thing we have the most control over. And most caregivers would agree, we have to take care of ourselves before we can truly take care of another. So would I like a mani-pedi and a blowout? You bet. Deep-tissue massage? Bring it. Facial? F-yeah. One might even argue that I need a little makeover in the not too distant future. Until then, meditation beautifies from within. We get to take a few minutes each day to brush off the brain, detoxify the blood and organs with deep breathing, connect with the wizard in my heart, and listen like my life depends on it. She whispers, “You don’t need a bag of caramel corn. You don’t need that new cellulite cream. You don’t need him to tell you he loves you. All you need is already within you, I am your breath of life, and I am with you where ever you go.”

Not that I’m going anywhere any time soon. So I’ll take a seat in every room in the house and make it my place of meditation. I’ll go to the Maldives in my mind. Perhaps you’ll meet me there.

Jennifer Graf, LCSW

JULY 2020

We’ve struggled to put into words what has transpired over the last 6 months, which have been some of the most challenging, confusing, and upsetting stretches in our lives.

Seemingly overnight, the world swept into lockdown, causing economic, physical, and mental anguish to all with after-effects we are only now starting to understand. As parts of the country seemed to turn a corner with decreasing case numbers, the nation was then faced with its most enduring and heartbreaking flaw - systemic racism and mistreatment of minorities, specifically Black Americans. The recorded murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, the shooting of Breonna Taylor, and the countless stories shared, left many Americans aghast. Like so many, we are deeply disturbed, saddened, and confused by the killings of George, Ahmaud, and Breonna, and our emotions unraveled deeper in the following week's events.

The Kula IAB and Kula for Karma wholeheartedly stand with and support the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of us will never experience the stress and anxiety that Black Americans feel each day. But we can vocalize and recognize how wrong, unjust, and truly un-American it is.

Where do we start?

To our readers advocating, protesting, and educating themselves on these issues, we are proud to see our Kula family fighting for positive social change and living our truth.

To the countless individuals who serve our community with integrity and respect: we appreciate your service and graciously applaud all that you do.

Most importantly, to our donors of color who have stood by us over the years as we brought Kula to the country, it is our turn to stand by you. We hear you we recognize you, and we are actively working to join the fight.

For our community feeling overwhelmed at what is going on and looking for a way to take action, we offer the below.

1. Look, Listen, and Learn. You cannot miss racial disparities in our society. Look around your broader communities, listen to your friends and colleagues, and learn from publications, history books, novels, or any preferred medium. It is a privilege to learn about racism instead of experience it.

2. Small Victories Matter. Racial inequality, a global pandemic, and societal upheaval are insurmountable challenges on the surface. When you feel overwhelmed, frame your thinking like your practice on the mat. Small victories in each practice - tweaks, incremental gains, day by day improvement - truly make a difference. The most important part of all is that you try to better yourself, and therefore, your community. If you are able, donate to a preferred cause. If you cannot, find worthy petitions to sign. And so on.

3. Take Care of Yourself. When disruptions strike our lives, the first sacrifice is often our own wellness and routines. Please continue your practice, whatever it may be, and do not neglect your personal wellbeing.

Where Does Kula Go From Here?

Thanks to recent generous donations from our supporters, we will be able to provide our services at no cost for the next year to our Black communities emotionally devastated by the last month, and physically devastated from COVID-19.

Sticking to our core mission, we will help grassroots organizations, schools, healthcare facilities, and other groups who are striving to better themselves and ignite positive change. This is a united, all-in fight that every citizen must march toward if we are to heal.

We hope this message finds all of you safe, healthy, and well and we look forward to our next year working with you each and every day.

Kula Innovative Advisory Board

MAY 2020

If you’re feeling like it’s all a lot right now, you should know you’re not alone. Unless, of course, you are. And even then, rest assured you’re not alone. Not in this. We’re all in this, together.

And to be sure, there’s a certain comfort found in knowing that we’re all in this together. Still, it can be hard to find and maintain our equilibrium. With the 24 hour news cycle and the mandatory precautions requiring diligence for what used to be simple tasks and errands.

We are, as the saying goes, living in interesting times. And still, in the midst of this, in the eye of the storm, each of us has an inner world, a personal realm, that is not dictated by the larger, exterior world. Within ourselves, creating the narrative and choosing the intention will color our experience and may light our path.

The world may be maddening, but ours need not be. We each have the power to choose who we will be and what we will stand for in the face of whatever comes.

We can, for example, choose to be generous with our abilities, with our listening, with our resources. We can choose to be compassionate with others, and also with ourselves. We can choose to be of service.

We can choose to see beauty. Spring is brimming with blossoms. Whether through an open window or during a brief foray outside, we can choose to notice the buds and flowers, the clearer skies, the spaces usually filled or passed by without awareness.

We get to create our days, perhaps as never before.

And just how do we do this? We’re glad you asked!

3 Easy Ways to Reconnect, Rebalance, & Restore

Have a daily check in with yourself.

How are you? Ok, now how are you really? Let it bubble up. It may take a few minutes. It may catch you unawares. Let it wash over you. You may want to do this with a friend or other loved one, each taking a turn to share and to listen.

Avoid the temptation to try to fix anything. Just let it be as it is. So often, in our rush to solve or avoid uncomfortable emotions, we cover them with a veneer of fine-ness. The more you peel back the veneer, the more connected, centered, and grounded you’ll feel.

Don’t forget to move!

Moving your body is the EZ Pass, express lane, totally free and always available shortcut to shifting gears. Feeling stuck, tired, stressed, bored, anxious? Try moving some oxygen around (5 - 10 slow, deep breaths ought to do it). Perhaps take advantage of the many meditation classes offered by Or have yourself your very own Dance Off. Truly, any change in your posture can make a profound difference in your mental state.

Feed your heart.

This may look like gratitude journaling. Or video calling with loved ones. Or intently watching the sunset slide from one hue to the next. Or playing a piece of music that raises the hair on your arms.

Checking in with yourself. Move your body. Feed your heart.

And remember, we are here for you. We appreciate you. And we will get through this, together.

© be.still  2020 | 

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Hawthorne, New Jersey