Be In the Moment

Are you present in the moment?

Or are you doing one thing and thinking about something else? Or thinking about what you’ll do next? Or worrying about some future event that may or may not occur?

A fundamental teaching of the major religions – especially Eastern traditions such as Daoism and Buddhism – is to be present in the now. Fully live and experience life by being present with whatever you are doing.

This is wonderful advice if you are looking to improve your performance in any area of your life. Whether at work, developing a new skill, spending time with one of your kids or grandkids, or doing something simple like washing the dishes…being fully present and doing ONE THING AT A TIME is a secret to doing that thing better, AND enjoying it more.

And how many times have you worried or ruminated about someone, something, some event that might occur or that you might have to deal with. Only to find the event or terrible thing did not occur as you had feared. How many wasted minutes and hours have you lost doing this…have I lost doing this?

As Mark Twain famously said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe. I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened.”

Pets Are Great Teachers

I find the best teachers of the principle of being in the moment are our pets. Dogs and cats provide wonderful examples of being fully present, giving unconditional love to those around them, and being fully invested in whatever they are doing. Could be walking, could be playing, could be taking a nap. Doesn’t matter, they are 100% there! And they usually are having a jolly good time too!

We are blessed with two dogs and four cats. Here is our youngest – the baby of the family – Ciara (which means “Dark-Haired One” in the Celtic language):

Here is Miss Ciara on the move in our back yard. She’s practicing her scary face as she, through play, learns her hunting skills. (So far no kills!) She runs and climbs and plays with her sister cats – what experts call “The Zoomies” – for a half hour, hour at a time. Then…

Time for a nap with big sister Stella. And she is OUT for an hour or more.

It’s Even Biblical

Jesus taught the importance of being in the moment and fully present. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus tells us “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.”

Being fully present in the moment is a skill or capability you can develop. When we practice our Qigong, do some deep breathing, or engage in deep prayer or meditation, we focus internally and fully inhabit the present. When we find our thoughts drifting to “What’s next?” or “What should I have for lunch?” or “How the heck am I going to deal with X problem?”…we gently coax our thoughts back to our practice – our breathing, our intention, our movement.

Yes, you can be happy and content TODAY. You can be grateful in this moment. You can inhabit the present and invest your attention and energy in such a way that you feel relaxed, you feel the flow, even as you allow yourself to experience FREEDOM from anticipating and worrying about what’s ahead.

The Faster, Easier Way to Balance Your Energy

What’s a surefire way to turbocharge your Qigong or Breathwork practice? The fastest and easiest way to balance the energies in your body?

It’s what we call “Tree Qigong” (or “Tree-Gong” for fun).

Your overall constitution, which is a huge driver of your health, resilience, outlook, energy levels, and how fast you age (or how young you remain), is a compilation of your three main energy centers or dan tien:

-Lower Dan Tien: Physical

-Middle Dan Tien: Mental and Emotional

-Upper Dan Tien: Spiritual

When you practice your Qigong and Breathwork, you are building up your constitution so you can be healthier, enjoy more energy, have a more positive attitude or outlook on life, and just generally be more adaptable and roll with the inevitable punches and problems of life.

And making Tree Qigong a regular part of your practice or self-cultivation is a wonderful way to fast-track your development. You’ll increase your awareness of energy and improve your ability to remove blockages or stagnation and open the energy channels that flow throughout your body.

When I provide my clients or patients with prescription exercises, I often recommend performing centering, grounding, and basic breathing exercises in the vicinity of trees. (For a wonderful introduction to these practices, as well as several other foundational energy exercises, check out this course. It will help you transform stress, center yourself, and improve your health and energy in four short weeks!)

Better yet, find a tree that resonates with you and get close to it. Standing in the vicinity of its roots and under its canopy helps create an energy capsule of protection and good feelings.

IMPORTANT: Don’t just walk up to a tree and begin doing your thing! Take a little time to “introduce yourself” energetically to the tree and see if you can sense how receptive it is (or is not) to your approach. If it’s not receptive, no worries, just find another tree (or come back another time). If it is receptive, spend a few minutes just sitting or standing with the tree so you can begin to pick up on its energy.

What Type of Tree Works Best?

Depends on what your current needs are. If you’re feeling down, lethargic, a little under the weather or blah…or you just can’t seem to get moving on important projects or work…work with a tree that is more YANG in nature.

Generally, this means trees that are fast-growing. Aspens, Weeping Willows, Poplars, and Cedars are all fast-growing trees. Here in Texas, the Sugar Bush or Hackberry tree is an excellent YANG companion. The Cedar (or Juniper) tree is a close second.

On the other hand, if you need to improve the health and energy of your internal organs, especially due to chronic issues or after surgery, chemo, or radiation…or if you’ve been feeling too scattered or hyper, ungrounded, and/or can’t seem to settle down and focus… work with a tree that is more YIN in nature.

Yin trees include most Oaks, Hickory, and Beech trees. These trees are slow-growing and take years to establish a tap-root and build their root structure before they begin to grow to any significant height. Therefore, any medium to large trees of this type (I’m thinking of the beautiful oaks and live oaks that are prevalent here in the Austin area) will make for an excellent YIN companion.

Here are a couple of MY favorite trees (friends) with whom I share energy and “Tree-Gong” on a regular basis:

This beautiful willow tree lives near Lake Travis in one of our more natural park settings. A stream and wetlands area are just to her left in the photo, so there are always a lot of birds and other critters around. When I’m feeling a little blah or like I need a pick-up, I hang here. The combination of the tree’s YANG energy and proximity to the lake combine to help energize and balance me.

This lovely, stately lady is one of my favorite trees. Her energy is just incredible, you can feel it walking toward her. She exudes calm, cool, healing YIN energy and is very receptive to sharing energy. For many years, she has provided a home and shelter to birds, squirrels, and other critters. I love to hang with her when I’m into serious cultivation or simply need a quiet space for reflection.

I encourage you to find your own tree or trees with which to practice your Qigong. It’s likely to become one of your favorite things to do!

Want to Live Longer? Live Near Green Spaces…

...AND make friends with a tree

The Washington Post published an article yesterday titled, “Living Near Green Spaces Could Add 2.5 Years to Your Life, New Research Finds” (you can read the article here).

They go on to discuss an article in the journal Science Advances which suggests long-term exposure to more greenery where you live can add an average of 2.5 years to your life. The study looked at long-term exposure to surrounding green spaces among a group of more than 900 people in four U.S. cities. They found that being near green space causes “biological or molecular changes that can be detected in our blood”.

Well, I’m happy that modern science continues to catch up with ancient medical wisdom. For centuries, our Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) paradigm has educated us on the importance of staying close to nature. Taoist practices have had a major influence on CCM and Taoism is all about simplicity, staying close to nature, and following nature’s rhythms and cycles.

In CCM, we teach that the blood and the Qi are synonymous and how important it is that both flow without obstruction or stagnation. Blood and Qi are energy, information, communication, and alimentation (i.e., nourishment) for every structure in our bodies and brains. One of the wonderful benefits of our Qigong practice is an increase in the circulation of blood and qi along with a concurrent decrease in stagnation or blockages. So it’s interesting to hear of a study that identifies actual markers in the blood that indicate a younger biological age due to living closer to green spaces.

When I teach Qigong, I make sure that the participants and I center and ground in every single session. It’s such an important skill, not just in our energetic work – it’s an essential life skill too! As the students in my group and private classes will tell you, I often encourage them to go outside in their bare feet and engage in a few minutes of conscious breathing, centering, and grounding. It’s much easier to feel or become aware of the Yin energy coming up from the earth and to get into a grounded state when you connect directly with the ground. It’s such a pleasant, wonderful feeling too!

Say Hello to Your Big Friend

To turbo-charge your practice, choose a spot close to a tree. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart or in your Wuji posture and follow your

process of breathing, focusing inside, centering into the lower abdomen (or heart center if you prefer), and ground via the Kidney 1 (Bubbling Well) point in the bottom of each foot. Imagine your feet are projecting a tap root down into the earth, so you feel fully rooted. And see or sense your tap roots are becoming intertwined with the roots of the tree.

Feel the energies of your root system commingle with the energies of the tree’s root system. Then inhale deeply into your lower abdomen. At the same time, allow the Yin energy of the earth to come up through your roots and your Kidney 1 point, up through your legs, and into your lower abdomen (lower dan tien or energy center). Gently “fill up the bathtub” in your lower abdomen.

With each exhale, allow the energy to drop back down through Kidney 1 into the earth. As the energy drops, release and purge any unwanted stagnation, stiffness, tightness, blockages, emotional content, or thoughts that are not serving you well. Let it all drop into the earth.

Then take a fresh breath and repeat the cycle.

Obviously, there are some subtleties and finer points to doing this. But don’t worry about that for now. Keep things simple.

As you repeat cycles of inhalation and exhalation, pulling energy in and allowing energy to drop and release, you may get into a profound state of grounding. You are also sharing or cycling energy with your new friend, the tree. This results in profound physical, mental, and emotional benefits, which we will discuss in our next post.

In the meantime, get back to nature, find a new friend – er, tree – and allow yourself the pleasure of interacting in a whole new way.

The Fire Within

Well, we are really into summer now, aren’t we?

Here in Central Texas, we have been experiencing our first set of continuous, 90-plus degree days along with humidity, pushing our heat index to 100-plus. Someone just told me it’s forecast to “feel like” 108 degrees this afternoon. Hot stuff!

This time of year, I do my Qigong and my walking or jogging first thing in the morning, to get ahead of the heat. I prefer to do my Qigong outside, in one of several special or “sacred” spots in my yard or in the woods behind us. The air is much fresher in the morning, in part due to the relative coolness, in part due to the respiration of the trees which is changing, so they are releasing more oxygen and thereby increasing the ionization in the air.

Anyways, back to summer. We started discussing the Five Elements (Wu Xing) a couple of months ago. We hit the highlights of the Spring element, Liver / Wood, and have been practicing our Liver / Wood exercise. It’s past time to dive into summer and begin practicing our Heart / Fire DaoYin. Here is some information on this element to help inform your practice.

Heart / Fire Element

According to Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), the Heart is the Emperor of all the organs. All the other organs will sacrifice for the Heart, in other words they will give their energy to the Heart to help maintain its balance. The Heart’s associated yang organ is the Small Intestine.

The Heart is responsible for the circulation of blood as well as lymph. The Heart is also considered to be where the mind resides. So we refer to the “Heart-Mind” in this area, as it is a mental and emotional center. And when you think about it, this makes sense. We know that the Heart has its own nervous system which can function autonomously from the brain and provides information to the brain. We also know that the digestive system, particularly the small intestine, has its own brain, called the enteric nervous system.

Think about how you make decisions, either consciously or unconsciously – typically through a combination of analysis or rational thinking plus a gut feeling or impression. Hence the concept of the Heart – Mind working together.

Physical Aspects of the Heart

The Pericardium protects the Heart. In the Fire / Heart Wu Xing exercise, we work directly through the Pericardium meridian to pull healing energy into our Heart / Middle Dan Tien. We also explore an important healing point, the Laogong point (PC8), which is on our palms.

The tongue is the sensory organ related to the Heart. We use tongue diagnosis in Classical and Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture.

The blood vessels are the tissue associated with the Heart. Because the face has many blood vessels, the complexion can reveal the state of the Heart. A pale complexion can indicate insufficient blood flow, an overly red face can indicate excessive heat or inflammation. As we have learned more about a lot of the chronic diseases that afflict our Western society, we have increased our focus on inflammation (or “heat” in CCM) as a common causal actor, including in heart disease and related conditions. 

Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Heart / Fire

Excessive joy and excitement are the negative emotions associated with the Heart. It’s taking the positive emotion of happiness or joy too far, so it’s like a manic type of feeling or energy. For example, someone with ADD or ADHD who might be super high energy, but also has trouble winding down or calming themselves so they can focus or sleep.

Excessive stress can negatively impact the Heart. As can the lack of self-expression or not being able to share. The heart’s associated organ is the tongue, which is evidence of the its close connection to language, creativity, self-expression, and sharing love.

Positive emotions associated with the Heart are happiness, joy, and love. These emotions can inspire us. They can also lead to a state of peacefulness.

Why is Summer associated with the Heart and Small Intestine? Fire generates light energy, and light is love. Without love, we would wither away from the inside out. Without passion, life would be joyless. And without self-love, we could never blossom into the fullness of all we are meant to be. Love, passion, and enthusiasm inspire creativity and self-expression.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Wu Xing Jing / Five Elements Health Form, click here. Discover the master blueprint for a powerful health practice!

Resilient Edge Wellness Featured by the North Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce

I was delighted to be interviewed and featured in a recent BizBuzz video published by the North Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce. Our Chamber is based in Lago Vista and does excellent work within the communities of Lago Vista, Jonestown, and Point Venture. These towns are little gems located on Lake Travis in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and just a short ride from Austin.

Local BizBuzz: Resilient Edge Wellness

The current episode of Biz Buzz takes the NLT President, Tim McClellan, to the office of Resilient Edge Wellness. Dr. Karen Van Ness (DMQ,DCEM,CPT, MS) specializes in Medical Qigong (pronounced chee-gong). Tim will take you on a quick visit with Dr. Van Ness to learn more about the traditional aspects of this ancient medical system now available on the North Shore. Used as both alternative and complementary to Western medicine, there is a lot to learn about this fascinating practice. (Click on the image to view the video.)

Visit us at our website to learn more, download our most popular special report, or schedule a free, 30 minute consultation.

Resilient Edge Wellness

7400 Lohman Ford Rd Suite E

Lago Vista, TX 78645

Ph. 512-267-3915

The Glue Connecting the Conscious and Unconscious

In our last post I promised to discuss the quickest, most direct way to change your thoughts, emotions, and physicality.

This method does not require any special tools or apps. It’s not a hack. It’s not expensive, nor is it time-consuming. It’s the world’s most advanced anti-aging technology. And it’s accessible to you right here, right now, right where you are.

I’m talking about your breathing, of course!

Many people take breathing for granted. They don’t realize that their breathing can be one of the most powerful stress management, performance-enhancing, and anti-aging tools they will ever find. Many people breathe up in their chests. They rarely experience the wonderful, energizing sensations of taking a full, complete breath, one that fully expands the lower abdomen and back, thoracic area and chest. This type of complete breath feels great! And provides the following benefits (this is just a partial list):

  • Enhances your physical and mental energy by bringing vital oxygen into your bloodstream, as well as ensuring you are exhaling more of the CO2 and other waste products out of your system.
  • Releases negative, toxic emotions, memories, self-doubt, as well as tightness in your body.
  • Helps bring your awareness into the present moment so you can focus better.
  • Provides you with a sense of personal control, especially during difficult situations.
  • Entrains other important autonomic processes, such as lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, slowing your breathing rate, reducing the level of cortisol (stress hormones), and facilitating fuller digestion and elimination.

You may think you don’t have time to breathe. You’re rushing, stressed, busy, on the move. But you can breathe any time and any place. Remember, as the Dalai Lama says, if you think you are too busy to meditate, that’s exactly the situation where you really NEED to meditate.

The same goes for breathing. When you “think you don’t have time” is exactly the time when you really need it! All it takes is a minute or two of full, relaxed, complete breathing, in and out through your nose, to completely change your state.

In fact, all it takes is 16 seconds – the time of the typical cycle of inhalation and exhalation – to transform yourself. Transformation not only at the conscious level, but transformation at the autonomic level…indeed, transformation all the way down to the cellular and sub-cellular level.

A wise karate master once said, “Breathing is the glue connecting the conscious and the unconscious”. Through your breath, you connect and ground your conscious self with your true self – that wonderful, fascinating, full-of-potential YOU. Complete breathing helps you transition from being overly conscious and critical of your performance (i.e., how do I look, how am I doing, do I sound dumb, etc.) to unconscious mental control, which is automatic, accepting, and trusting. Which helps you tap into the innate wisdom, energy, and capabilities inside you.

So give yourself the gift of breathing this holiday season. Leave the rushing, to-do’s, obligations, family issues, etc. aside. Take a little time out to breathe and go inside for a moment or two. Get centered, get relaxed. Consider and appreciate the power and the wonder of the season and the holidays.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! And Best Wishes to you and yours.

Tap Into This Secret Source of Strength

One of the most exciting discoveries of the last 200 years is that
each of us has the ability to change our life by changing our

Our attitudes of mind, our typical ways of thinking, our way of
looking at our life and our world….each of these impacts us
every day, in ways both obvious and unseen.

We live and operate in the physical world. Yet physical force or
effort is the lowest form of energy. Mental and spiritual forces
release the higher form of energy.

Your inner world of mind and spirit helps to drive and determine
your outer world of circumstances and results. If there’s some
aspect of your life that you would like to change or improve,
look to your inner world first.

A great way to do this is to sit still and be quiet for a few
minutes each day. Meditate, pray, or simply relax and let your
thoughts roam for a bit.

Release your worries, relax, and quietly think about what you
would like to bring into your life. You can think broadly
over various areas of your life….or you can focus on a
particular area that is vexing you, and picture the changes
and new reality you would like to have appear in that area.

We are all seeking “peace, sweet peace” as that old Christian
hymn says. We intuitively crave and seek peace of mind, because
we intuitively know that a peaceful state of mind leads more
easily to health, happiness, abundance, and spiritual growth.

Many people equate peace of mind with some ultimate or end
state of being – something we all aspire to, but never quite
attain, given our busy lives, the pressures of responsibilities,
the never ending quest for more.

Here’s a little secret: the people who are the most peaceful
are the most powerful.

In your peace lies your power.

In his book, “As A Man Thinketh”, James Allen writes about
the strength that comes with serenity:

“Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom…
self-control is strength; right thought is mastery; calmness
is power.”

You want to get into a calm, peaceful, serene state of mind,
particularly in times of stress and strain.

But wait a minute, Karen. When I’m stressed and strained is
exactly when I find it most difficult to become calm and

Ah yes, I know. I’ve been there! Just thinking you SHOULD
be calm and serene is a lot easier than actually BECOMING
calm and serene.

There’s an old saying, or story actually, in Chi Kung. A
student asks the Chi Kung master how often should she practice
in order to make progress. The master tells her she should
practice every day for 15 minutes.

But I lead a very busy life including work and other
responsibilities, says the student. What if I don’t have time
to practice every day?

“Ah,” says the master, “At times when you are very busy and
don’t have time, you should practice 45 minutes every day!”

In other words, the less time you have to focus on yourself,
to take a time out and get peaceful….the more you need to
TAKE the time and gift yourself with a few minutes of

Here’s where integration of your mental, emotional and physical
powers comes in. Combining breathing and energy exercises
with specific types of visualization, affirmations and
positive emotions can help you to master your emotional
state and carve out a zone of calmness, even in the midst
of chaos.

When your inner and outer selves begin to operate together in
a more organized and synchronous way, then you’ve really
started tapping into significant power.

The strength and mastery of your peaceful state of mind is
like a healing balm for the situation. It helps bring order
and right results.

Remember this: When you are in a peaceful state of mind, you
are the master of the situation, no matter how negative it

I often use the Prayer of Serenity as my cue to re-orient
my own thinking, focus and energy back to a more peaceful
and calm state.

Here is a way of interpreting that famous prayer, providing
additional meaning which I find quite helpful when I am
facing a particularly tough day or situation:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”
(calmness is power);

“Change the things I can” (Self-control is strength);

“And the wisdom to know the difference” (right thought leads
to mastery).

In such mastery is your strength and power for good.

You Can Do It!


“Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. You can receive and benefit from even more breathing and energy
exercises and instruction, and deeper insights into the physical,
psychological and spiritual dimensions of abundant energy, health
and fitness – by signing up for my FREE monthly print newsletter,
the “Best Breathing Exercises Letter”.

In the next few issues, I will be exploring the fascinating
psychological and metaphysical background which informs and
contributes to the effectiveness of breathing and visualization.
And I will share more details on several of the most productive,
yet easy to learn, exercises that I have enjoyed over the years.

To input or update your mailing address info, go to

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2014

Here’s A Fun, Fascinating Way to Progress In Your Breathing Practice

During the 1800s Western society moved into what has been called
“The Industrial Age”, an age of tremendous mechanical and electrical
strides that helped to automate many labor-intensive tasks.

Then, in the mid to late 1900s, we entered what was called “The
Information Age”, in which the development of computers, advanced
management practices, and decreased time to travel enhanced our
ability to store data, develop new products and solutions, and
achieve even more automation in industry and in our daily lives.

Now we are said to be in “The Knowledge Age”, in which we have
developed even more powerful tools for accumulating and accessing
information, analyzing and transforming data, and making it easier
for people to communicate, collaborate, and learn. We’re also
more connected physically because it’s become much easier and
cheaper to travel – not just across country, but all over the

As economic society has progressed, its emphasis has changed from
the purely physical and mechanical to the mental and informational.
Knowledge and knowledge workers are more important than ever.

We can draw a parallel to this progression when we look at
breathing exercises.

Within the western paradigm, breathing and energy practices over
the past century-plus have progressed from a purely physical
or mechanical emphasis to an approach which also incorporates
mental and psychological tools. In many cases, these mental and
psychological approaches have been borrowed from, or at a minimum
informed by, Eastern breathing and energy practices.

I often refer to the late 1800s through early 1900s as a kind of
“golden age” pf physical culture. Breathing exercises were one of
the cornerstones of programs typically recommended for enhancing
strength, health and vitality.

In these early days, the exercises were pretty much all
mechanical, and were designed to help people learn how to
breathe fully, open up their lungs, and develop the muscles
and connective tissues associated with breathing.

Breathing was also heavily emphasized in the performance of
exercises, ranging from walking to lifting weights.

These types of exercises can be invaluable, and are a great
foundation for an effective breathing and health practice. In
fact, I used mostly mechanical breathing and stretching exercises
to improve, then eventually rid myself of, a severe case of

However, once you have made progress in mechanical exercises and
methods, established your foundation, and experienced excellent
results – you invariably thirst for more.

In terms of progression, there are several different ways you
can go. One that I highly recommend – the “next level up”, so to
speak, in your breathing practice – is to begin to use your

Coupling breathing with specific types of visualization and
imaging can be extremely powerful, serving as the foundation for
incredible improvement in specific areas of your life.

It is also fun AND fascinating!

Fun because you are using a power you already possess – the
ability to daydream.

Fascinating, because the more you relax, let go and play around
with it, the better results you’ll get.

Here’s one of my favorite approaches: “Your Inner Smile”.

Inner Smile practice is an important approach in various types
of chi kung (qi gong) and meditation methods. It can actually
get pretty involved in some systems! I want to share a simple
“Inner Smile” technique you can start using right now.

First, take a minute or two to calm and steady your breathing.
Use box breathing (which we discussed a couple of tips ago),
or other form of counting, to help you extend your inhale
and exhale. Relax as you do this, don’t force anything. Let
your breathing relax your body.

Once you feel somewhat calm and relaxed, begin to breathe
specifically into your lower abdomen – your hara, or dan tien –
which is your physical center of gravity and also an important
energy center.

Inhale into and out of this energy center, which is about
two inches below your navel and 1 to 2 inches under the surface.

Here’s a little trick: It often helps to imagine a golden energy
ball in that spot, twirling and radiating. If you concentrate
long enough, you will begin to feel warmth or other sensation
in that area.

Now, let’s get to the Smile. Once you’ve got that energy ball
twirling and spinning – at least in your mind’s eye – smile
into that spot.

That’s right, smile into it. Actually picture a smiley face
in your dan tien. I also recommend smiling for real – I’ve
found it’s very helpful to smile softly to yourself as you
smile into your body.

Let that smile radiate happiness, calm, contentment. Let it
radiate the feeling that you are OK – in fact, you are perfect
just the way you are. Let it radiate health and healing
throughout your body.

Your smile loves you unconditionally. Your smile gives you a
feeling of joy. Your smile gives you energy and confidence.

Feel your smile bathe your organs and every system in your
body in radiant healing energy.

I know this exercise seems a little out there. But trust me,
it works.

Try it out, and be sure to relax and have fun with it. Spend
3 to 5 minutes smiling into your dan tien. Put a little smile
on your face too. Then see how you feel.

I guarantee you will be in an elevated state.

Now, would you like to know more about this technique, plus
a way to amplify it? Like I said, it can get pretty
sophisticated….but I will share a couple of recommendations
that can really power this up for you.

See you in my next message. In the meantime, keep smilin’!

You Can Do It!


Karen Van Ness

“Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. Breathing is the direct and instantaneous way to tap into
the life force, the vital energy that flows through each of us.
Performed properly, deep breathing coupled with dynamic
exercises is a powerful method for accessing and flowing your
internal power: power for thinking, power for solving problems,
power for enhancing your health, and so much more.

Making a small investment of time each day, or every other day,
in dynamic energy exercises – like the ones I teach you in “The
Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II: The
Dynamic Energy Routine” – will instantly enhance your internal
energy and focus. To learn more, click here.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2014

Are We Wimps – Or Are We Just Typical?

I read a book last week that discussed the increased pace of modern
life, how the resultant stress was leading to health and anxiety
issues for so many people, and how too many were turning to
medications and other unconstructive methods (such as excessive
drinking) to cope.

Sounds pretty typical, doesn’t it? I mean, these days you can’t
open a magazine, read a newspaper, or pass a row of books in the
bookstore without encountering articles and books on stress, coping
with stress, stress management… well as anxiety, nervousness,
insomnia, and so forth.

Funny thing is, the book I was reading was written in the 1950s!

And I have also read books published in the early 1900s which
discuss the same issues.

We always assume – at least here in the United States – that the
1950s were an oasis of prosperity, order and calm, and most
families were truly living the American dream. Relative, of course,
to the horrible war that had engulfed the world in the 1930s and
1940s. Relative also to the upheaval and disintegration of social
norms and beliefs that followed in the 1960s.

Yet even within that oasis of slower, simpler times, people felt
rushed, stressed out, unable to keep up with the changes, unable to
cope adequately.

Interesting, isn’t it?

If we could go back in a time machine and visit with a typical family
in the 1950s, we’d probably think them wimps for feeling stressed out
during what we presume to be a simpler, slower time. (I’m speaking
here of typical white America, by the way. Life for black families
in the Jim Crow South was something else altogether.)

But here’s another way to look at this: Are things going to be
even faster, harder, more stressful in our future? One day, will
some writer sitting at her laptop look back and, having read
my stuff about transforming stress, think “Jeez, those people
in the early 2000s had it so easy. Life was slower then. Why
did they suffer so much from stress and stress-related disorders?”


Is life really faster, harder, less forgiving and more stress-
inducing today than before? Or are our expectations so much
higher in terms of what we must or should accomplish, how we
should live, how well our careers should go, how fulfilled and
accomplished our children should be, and so on?

Not sure I know the answer to that. But I think it’s clear
that each age, each generation encounters and has to deal with
many of the same types of issues.

Technology has been, and will continue to be, a huge enabler in
nearly every facet of our personal and business lives. But isn’t
it also one of the main perpetrators of our “always on, always
accessible, therefore always on the spot for something” mentality?

Can you ever truly slow down, relax, and experience life in the
here and now when you’re glued to your smartphone, laptop or
high def TV?

Not likely, methinks.

The good news is, you have the power every day to make choices
that can help free you from the bonds of constant electronica
and accessibility.

Indeed, you have the wisdom and power inside you – right now,
today – to make significant, transformative changes in how
you deal with and handle the stresses and strains of modern

Which brings me to my main point of this message to you.

Learning how to calm, slow and deepen your breathing can help
you overcome feelings of anxiety, stress, or anger which may
impede your ability to solve problems or overcome the typical
stresses of modern life.

In my last message, I taught you the basics of box breathing.
Inhale, hold, exhale, hold to a particular count – this simple
and deceptively powerful practice can be quite an enjoyable way
of breathing.

One of the things I like about timing your breathing to a
count is that it helps you regain mental control, reduce all
that monkey chatter, and focus and concentrate better. You’ll
feel more in control and experience quite a mental and physical

Now, here’s the next level up, so to speak, in your breathing
practice: using your imagination.

Coupling breathing with specific types of visualization and
imaging can be even more powerful, serving as the foundation
for incredible improvement in specific areas of your life.

I’ll have more to say and share about that in my next message.

You Can Do It!


“Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2014

To Concentrate Better, Be A Square

Did you know there exists a rich tradition within human history of
integrating breathing practices and techniques into specific
disciplines, including those that support health and fitness…
enhanced mental or physical performance….and even religious and
spiritual practices, such as prayer and meditation.

For example, learning how to breathe properly and fully,
using your entire breathing apparatus, can help you quickly
and easily focus on any kind of mental or physical work you
are about to engage in.

Learning how to calm, slow and deepen your breathing can help
you overcome feelings of anxiety, stress, or anger which may
impede your ability to solve problems or overcome the typical
stresses of modern life.

Coupling breathing with specific types of visualization and
imaging can be even more powerful, serving as the foundation
for incredible improvement in specific areas of your life.

Today let’s focus on a simple but highly effective breathing
exercise that can help you stop stress or overwhelm in its
tracks and enable you to focus or concentrate better on the
task at hand.

Yes, this is for all of you “adult ADD’ers” – as in Attention
Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD).

I’ve got some experience with this. Our son Miguel has a
moderate to severe form of ADHD. We are constantly working with
him on developing and implementing simple strategies to help
him stay focused on his schoolwork or whatever task he is engaged
with….AND to regain focus or concentration more quickly when
he is distracted.

I know some adults with ADD too. My better half whs never
officially been diagnosed, but ADD certainly explains some
behaviors we see today (and explains a lot of thing from
chilhood as well). My brother WAS diagnosed with adult ADD.
Again, explains a lot from his childhood (especially from a
sister’s perspective!)

Now, I know there are some folks out there who claim that ADD
or ADHD does not exist, and that parents and school staff are
just looking for a way to medicate the kids so they sit still
and behave like they are “supposed to”.

Well, I can tell you it’s for real. We deal with it every day.

However, it’s possible to deal successfully with it, with the
right combination of behavioral strategies, clear and specific
consequences (both positive and negative), and, in some cases,
with carefully tested and prescribed medications.

The explosive increase in the number of kids diagnosed with ADD
or ADHD is mirrored by the increase in the number of adults
finally getting diagnosed.

However, from my viewpoint, the pace and expectations of the
modern world make every one of us ADD’ers, or at least sometime

Ever-present smart phones, iPads, and laptops mean we are
interrupted often with a new email, new tweat, new ping,
or whatever. And our internal wiring compels us to respond to
that ping or dong or song (whatever you have set up for your
alerts) because we are wired to (1) respond to rings and pings;
and (2) to move toward the novel, the break in the routine.

The result is constant interruption, leading to being less
productive and feeling like you can’t focus…leading to feelings
of overwhelm and not being able to get your work or other tasks
completed when you should….resulting in more stress and
strain and even less focus and concentration, and so on and on
in a terrible downward spiral. Unless….

Unless you arrest this process, nip it in the bud. And it’s
relatively easy to do, if you’re willing to take a few simple

First off, you’ve got to get a handle on the interruptions. With
few exceptions, you don’t have to answer every phone call, and
you don’t have to answer every email or tweat or twat or text
that comes in. So why are you chaining yourself to electronic
notification jail?

Instead, try scheduling specific times when you will check your
devices for emails, texts and so forth, and respond to the ones
you need to during those times. For example, many productivity
experts recommend checking email only two to three times per day.

Not only are you more efficient at working through and responding
to your emails. You’ll also get more work done because you are
focusing on the task at hand for blocks of time, and not allowing
yourself to be pulled away from it to check emails.

Only you can help yourself begin to detox from your electronics
dependency. However, I can help you with a second important

Using your breathing to help you regain control and focus.

In martial arts, particularly in more traditional styles, breath
control is taught throughout the training.

One of the best, yet amazingly simple, breathing exercises I
have used over the years is called “box breathing”.

Basically, you follow the 4 sides of a box or square to control
and regulate your breathing. It’s best to start out using a
count of 4. Here’s how:

-Breathe in for a count of 4; hold gently for a count of 4;
exhale for a count of 4; hold gently for a count of 4.

Seems easy, right? Well, it is deceptively simple. But it’s
packed with benefits.

Breathing and holding for counts of 4 doesn’t seem that challenging.
But you’d be surprised at how erratic and shallow your breathing
typically is – especially if you are feeling stressed, rushed, or
overwhelmed, or if you are working out hard and pushing yourself.

The simple act of controlling your breathing, both in terms of
pace and regularity, allows you to assert control over your
physiological reponse.

To really benefit, be sure to breathe in deeply, using your
diaphragm, and take a full breath.

When I say breathe deeply, don’t go overboard and try to suck
in a huge amount of air. This usually results in tightening
up and trying too hard, which is the opposite of what you want
to do.

Rather, breathe into your lower abdomen as you inhale. Allow
your stomach and sides to expand out. Hold gently, then
exhale fully. Again, don’t strain. Just make sure you have
pushed out all the air, then hold.

This method of breathing is quite enjoyable. It enables you to
regain mental control, reduce all that monkey chatter, and
focus and concentrate better. You’ll feel more in control and
experience quite a mental and physical boost.

AS you gain experience with box breathing, experiment with
changing the counts you use. For eaxmple, extend the amount of
time you hold your breath. Breath in for a count of 4, hold
for a count of 8 or 12, breathe out for a count of 8.

This specific count is a technique one of my Tae Kwon Do
instructors emphasized. We did it often during seated
meditation. It really helps you focus inwardly and gain
mental control.It’s also wonderful for developing greater
lung power.

Technically you’re not following the box or square anymore,
it becomes more like a rectangle or quadrilateral. But you get
the picture.

You should devote part of your time each day to the cultivation
of breath control and power. Making a small investment of time
in dynamic energy exercises – like the ones I teach you in “The
Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II: The
Dynamic Energy Routine”
will enhance the results you get from
exercise, as well as your internal energy and focus.

Breathing is the direct and instantaneous way to tap into the
life force, the vital energy that flows through each of us.

Performed properly, deep breathing coupled with dynamic
exercises is a powerful method for accessing and flowing your
internal power.

This type of dynamic exercise creates harmony between the breath
and the physical. Not only are you strengthening the muscles
associated with breathing. You also are creating and
increasing a sense of harmony and relaxation across both mind
and body.

It’s health-enhancing and life-extending. I strongly encourage
you to tap into the benefits that await you from investing just
a few minutes a day – or a few minutes at the start of your
regular workouts.

You Can Do It!


“Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2014