This was my second winter in Vermont, the Green Mountain State, and it was even more awesome than my first! To be sure, this was a long cold winter that lasted a good five months. Nevertheless, I bundled up and enjoyed every minute of it. Throughout the winter, I strapped on my snowshoes and explored the many backcountry trails at Bolton Valley. In Stowe, I snowshoed up the Scenic Notch Road and, feeling a bit adventurous, explored some of Vermont’s famous Long Trail. I downhill skied at Stowe, and fell in love with the Sterling trail off of the Sensation Lift on the Spruce Peak side of the Stowe resort.
As strange as this sounds, my biggest recent accomplishment was re-learning how to properly breathe through the Buteyko Breathing Normalization method. Mouth breathing causes a host of problems and, without going into the underlying medical reasons, exacerbates the symptoms of asthma. With this method, I trained myself to  breathe only through my nose even when engaging in cardiovascular activities. If the activity was too strenuous to maintain nasal breathing, I slowed down. This has the beneficial effect of high-altitude training. It was quite rewarding to increasing my cardio while only nasal breathing, and it’s so relaxing to be able to exercise without panting, huffing, and puffing. Those days of having to take 2-3 puffs of Albuterol prior to any exercise and worrying if my exercise would be an asthma trigger is now a distant memory. I became so submersed in studying the Buteyko method after witnessing its benefits first-hand that I decided to become certified as an instructor.  During a visit to my mom in Arizona, I gave a presentation about my experiences with the method. I’m an inexperienced speaker and like many, public speaking does not come easy to me and was outside of my comfort zone. I was really prepared, especially since I am so passionate about this method, and it turned out to be a rewarding experience.

I also delved more into Buddhist teachings and the exploration of the Tibetan Buddist path of how to live a meaningful compassionate life that is conflict-free, and learning how to find peace with oneself and with those around you. I completed Part 1 of Tara Triple Excellence, an online program that incorporates study, reflection, and meditation. I am very settled in a daily practice routine of waking up early and setting the tone for the rest of my day with chanting, buddhist learning and practices, and meditation. This winter, I not only enjoyed the outdoors, but also made productive use of my indoor time as well.

Finally, spring has sprung. I am nearly finished with Part 2 of my Tara’s Triple Excellence program. I just returned from a weekend retreat with Venerable Amy Miller at one of my favorite retreat centers, The Garrison Institute, in beautiful Garrison New York. Right now, for my next journey, I’m planning my first two-day personal silent retreat at the Milarepa Retreat Center in Barnet, VT. I am learning to enjoy the beauty of silence and the opportunity of inner reflection that it affords.

I wish everyone a happy spring!