Going Solo

Gina camping with her dog, Liam

This past weekend, I went solo camping with my dog, Liam. I spent two nights alone in a private, hike-in site. One day, I spent some time with a good friend who lives close to the campground. We went kayaking and ate around the campfire.

Several years ago, I did solo camping. It can be kind of scary sleeping alone in the wilderness. I calm my mind by telling myself that I am safe. I also do things that I enjoy like, reading, building a campfire, or meditating. Since I am a woman, I carry pepper spray too.

Going solo camping has helped me face my fears, encouraged me to be self-reliant, expanded my appreciation of beauty and simplicity, and gave me the confidence to be myself.

Namaste, world.

The Breath of Life

I am paying more attention to my breath now that I have to wear a mask for work. Masks are mandatory in Minnesota. I normally breathe deeply, so it’s difficult to breathe when I wear a mask. Many times, when I am talking (with a mask on), I get out of breath. Not good.

It’s important to breathe through your nose only (no mouth breathing – unless you have a cold). As a yoga teacher, I know how beneficial it is to breathe through the nose. The nose will warm the air, cycle the air through the labyrinth nasal cavities, and clean the air. The nose is made specifically for breathing.

Everyone must breathe through their nose – even when sleeping and exercising. Mouth breathing can cause anxiety and respiratory problems. Also, every day take a few deep breaths – especially if you have to wear a mask.

Here is a breathing technique that will help you take deep breaths:

  • Slowly breathe in and out of your nose.
  • Take a very deep breath (through your nose), and hold your breath for 5 seconds, then slowly exhale.
  • Then take 3 normal breaths (in and out through your nose).
  • Repeat the cycle a few times.

I recommend the book, “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art,” by James Nestor. I just listened to Nestor on a podcast. It’s fascinating to hear about his research on the breath. I ordered the book.

Be well, friends.

Namaste, world.

Emergency Backpack

**This blog is about spirituality and wellness. Part of prevention and wellness is taking care of yourself and your family during all situations in life. Therefore, I think it’s beneficial to post some blog posts about being prepared.**

An emergency backpack is essential! There are many uses for it. For example, you can grab it if there’s a tornado, an earthquake, or some other natural disaster. Or you can keep it in your car for emergencies. Keep the pack as light as possible, so you can easily bring it anywhere. Children need to have backpacks too.

Here’s more information for children’s bags: https://www.happypreppers.com/kidsbugoutbag.html

Here are some beneficial tips:

1. Practice with your emergency backpack. Take it camping or even to a hotel. You will find out very quickly what you’re missing. Also, practice using your equipment (tent, stove, water filter, etc.).

2. Make sure each adult bag has a complete set of items. Do not put food in one bag and equipment in another bag.

3. Make sure your bag isn’t too heavy. Walk around with your bag – take it with you on a hike.

4. Get a backpack rain cover.

5. Remember to pack your medications and vitamins.

6. Place plastic wrap over the opening of liquid bottles.

7. Pack enough food for at least three days (72 hours). MRE’s are lightweight and easy to pack.

8. Make sure to pack three pairs of wool socks.

9. Switch out clothing to fit your current season. Never wear cotton clothing in cold or wet weather.

9. Remember to create a plan for pets.

10. Hide cash (small bills) in your emergency bag.

See a full emergency kit/backpack list at https://theprepared.com/bug-out-bags/guides/bug-out-bag-list/ and at https://www.google.com/amp/s/bugoutbagacademy.com/free-bug-out-bag-list/amp/

A couple of months ago, I created my emergency backpack. I keep it in my car. It’s amazing how many times that I needed to go into my bag for simple things like, one time, I forgot my water bottle, so I grabbed my canteen water bottle from my emergency bag. Or one time I needed a sweatshirt, so I got it from my bag. A few times, I took out cash from my bag (and then replaced it).

Good luck to you as you prepare your backpack. I love knowing that I have everything that I need in one bag.

Namaste, world.

Equanimity in Changing Times

“With equanimity, you can deal with situations with calm and reason while keeping your inner happiness.” – The Dalai Lama

What is the quality of your mind lately? Do you feel anxious or scared? Do you feel calm and centered? How can you create equanimity in changing times?

According to the dictionary, equanimity is mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

Be careful of things that disturb your equanimity. Do you feel distracted and anxious when you watch the news? Are you on your phone or computer too long? Remember, the main purpose of your phone, computer, and television is to keep you “hooked.”

Below are some equanimity key points, by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., “Buddha’s Brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom:”

  • Equanimity means not reacting to your reactions, whatever they are.
  • Equanimity creates a buffer around the feeling tones of experiences so that you do not react to them with craving. Equanimity is like a circuit breaker that blocks the normal sequence in the mind that moves from feeling tone to craving to clinging to suffering.
  • Equanimity is not coldness, indifference, or apathy. You are present in the world but not upset by it. The spaciousness of equanimity is great support for compassion, kindness, and joy at the happiness of others.
  • In daily life and meditation, deepen your equanimity by becoming increasingly mindful of the feeling tones of experience and increasingly disenchanted with them. They come, and they go, and they’re not worth chasing or resisting.
  • Imagine the contents of your mind coming and going in a vast open space of awareness, like shooting stars. The feeling tones of experience are just more contents moving through this space. Boundless space surrounds them – dwarfing them, untroubled by them, unaffected by their passing.

“Trust in awareness, in being awake, rather than in transient and unstable conditions.” – Ajahn Sumedho

Namaste, world.

I Stand Up for Human Rights

I stand up for human rights. I think face masks should be optional for people – not mandatory. I do not trust the government and their hidden agendas.

If face masks are mandatory (as they are in Minnesota), then why are babies and small children exempt? Why? Because it’s inhumane. Face masks are cruel and dangerous. So, why are people accepting this rule?

Face masks are dangerous:

https://nypost.com/2020/05/06/two-boys-drop-dead-in-china-while-wearing-masks-during-gym-class/

https://medium.com/theusareviewer/the-potential-dangers-of-wearing-a-face-mask-51b9b86980a

I stand up for human rights. Every human being needs to breathe normally. Masks make breathing difficult. “I can’t breathe.”

I stand up for human rights. I am an advocate of peace, unity, equality, dignity, justice, and freedom.

I stand up for human rights. Every human being is born free. The government wants to take our freedom away (wants to kneel on our necks).

I stand up for human rights. I love you, my brothers and sisters. Please stand up for human rights. Let no mask silence you.

Namaste, world.

2020 Vision

Many spiritual leaders say 2020 is the year of spiritual awakening. Soon the veil will be lifted, and many people will become awake to the truth of our human existence. Now it is up to us to increase our love energy and see with 2020 vision.

Things to be aware of:

  • The birds are still chirping, and the squirrels are still climbing trees. We can look to nature for balancing and grounding.
  • During this awakening, we must go within. Mediation and gratitude is the secret recipe for inner stability and generating positive energy.
  • We need to follow our hearts and do what is right. If something is not right, speak up.
  • Let your intuition guide you every day.
  • COVID-19 will help us awaken.
  • As eternal beings, we are here to be part of this great awakening.
  • Remember that there are lightworkers in our political system. They are working hard to bring love and wisdom to our leaders.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Remember, transformation can be a bumpy road.
  • Stay in the present moment.
  • Focus on what you want in life.

Gratitude Meditation

Sit in a comfortable position for meditation. Close your eyes. Become aware of your breath. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself. After you feel centered, find a spot to focus on your breath for a few minutes. You can feel your breath at the tip of your nose, inside your nose, in your chest, or abdomen. After you take the time to feel your breath, you can think about what you are grateful for in your life. Once you have thought of something, take a deep breath. Then exhale through your mouth (creating wind), and release your thought/intention (mentally) as you breathe out into the air. Set three gratitude intentions and then return to your breathing meditation.

A few ideas to express gratitude: You can thank God or the Universe for your life. You can express gratitude for your health. Be thankful for your family. Etc.

Namaste, world.

Jennifer’s Poem

Jennifer's Poem (May 2020)

Dear Jennifer, 
I am here. 
The proof is in my tear. 
You are walking Heaven's mile, 
as I miss your joyful smile. 
I will follow your ways. 
Let your spirit shine rays. 
Friends forever we will be. 
I remember you - please remember me. 
I am here. 
Jennifer, dear. 

- Gina M. Gafford 

Almost a week ago, I was sleeping in a tent at Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota. It was dark outside, and the wind was blowing into the tent. I don’t know if it was windy or if I was dreaming. Then, through a rush of wind, I heard someone say, “I am here.” Right away, my mind went to my friend, Jennifer.

Jennifer died in December 2019 from breast cancer. She was such a good friend, and I miss her dearly. I wrote “Jennifer’s Poem” for her upcoming celebration of life ceremony.

I know my friend very well, and I think she’d want me to know that there’s an afterlife and that she’s okay. Moments like this remind me how connected we are in life and death.

Fun-loving, carefree Jennifer (Photo by Gina M. Gafford)

Namaste, world.

The Prepared Mind

About a week ago, I had a dream that I was in India, having lunch with an Indian woman. The woman asked me, “What are you going to do for your community?” I decided to blog about getting your home prepared. But what about the prepared mind?

On Facebook, several people expressed that they are getting depressed about the whole COVID-19 pandemic. They are tired of wearing masks, social distancing, and having so many new rules.

So how can you protect yourself from depression and prepare your mind during this pandemic? First of all, it’s spiritual preparation. You can create a strong mind by going within yourself. Get to know yourself through meditation.

What other ways can you become spiritually prepared? Pray, volunteer to help others, set good intentions for yourself and all living creatures (do the loving-kindness meditation), journal, read the sutras or religious scripture.

Also, remember the power of love. Keep running love energy (not fear energy).

Here is a great article by Mayo Clinic about building a spiritual life during COVID-19: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/building-your-spiritual-life-during-covid-19-changes

Namaste, world.

Silence and Space

“If you take some time to formally practice meditation, there is a lot of silence and space. Meditation practice itself is a way to create gaps. Every time you realize you are thinking and you let your thoughts go, you are creating a gap. Every time the breath goes out, you are creating a gap. You may not always experience it that way, but the basic meditation instruction is designed to be full of gaps. If you don’t fill up your practice time with your discursive mind, with your worry and obsessing and all that kind of thing, you have time to experience the blessing of your surroundings. You can just sit there quietly. Then maybe silence with dawn on you, and the sacredness of space will penetrate.” – Pema Chodron