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As a longtime massage therapist, I am always searching for new relaxing, beautiful music to add to my playlist because as you could imagine.. I hear the same things over and over again. Over the years I have noticed that I’ve gotten much more picky about which songs or albums to buy. My standards have become this – the tracks can’t be too busy or have any fast build ups, have any vocals in English, or be to cheezy like ‘new age music’ can be. I tend toward world music artists that have a spiritual feel. Here are my top 5 albums for relaxation, yoga, meditation, reading or even to get inspired. All are available on itunes!

1) Night Book – Ludovico Einuaudi

2) The Spirit of Yoga – Ben Leinbach

3) Shamanic Dream 2 – Anugama

4) Music for Yoga and Other Joys – Ben Leinbach & Jai Uttal

5) Voice of the Esraj – Benjy Wertheimer

Local Escapes to Restore, Renew and Reflect!

This time of year we’re drawn to go inwards, to create new beginnings and transform old habits. Fall is a great time to make a shift – For health reasons or to boost immunity, to focus the mind how to accomplish new goals for the coming year, and uplift our spirits to reset our attitudes. Here are my favorite local escapes to amazing retreat centers that are guaranteed to nurture your body, mind and soul!

Esalen Institute – Big Sur, Ca

If you have never been to Esalen, prepare to be blown away! Situated on 27 acres of spectacular Big Sur coastline, The Esalen Institute was founded in 1962 as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the “human potential”- the world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination. Esalen soon became known for its blend of East/ West philosophies, its experiential/ didactic workshops, the steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers, and its breathtaking grounds and natural hot springs. Offering 500 workshops each year in a wide range of topics. For more info click HERE

Optimum Health Institute – San Diego, Ca

The Optimum Health Institute offers an amazing holistic approach to the treatment of cancer, heart disease and other terminal illnesses. Many friends and clients have gone or taken relatives for a week or month and return transformed – physically, mentally and spiritually. OHI provides a holistic healing program where participants cleanse and nourish the body with diet, fasting and exercise; quiet and focus the mind with journaling and meditation; and renew and awaken the spirit with study, prayer and celebration. For more info click HERE

The Blue Pearl – Laguna Beach, Ca

Created by two world-renowned yogis, Geo and Katresha, The Blue Pearl Laguna not only offers a calming and gorgeous escape, it also provides proven results. Nestled amongst the trees in Laguna Canyon, this twelve-bedroom, twelve-bath luxurious ashram offers single week and multi-week programs, designed to harness the transformative powers of yoga and nature. Enjoy pure organic food, daily yoga, hiking, massage and meditation. For more info click HERE

BACK TO LIFE ~ The inspiring true story of courage and the will to survive.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

In life we all will experience hardship and triumph, suffer through illness and celebrate another year of good health. Although, we all go through the ups and downs life brings, we never expect things to change so fast or to overnight lose control over it all.  Almost four years ago, I got a call from my mom that my beautiful, healthy, amazing cousin Penny was holding on to her life by a thread. I almost fell off my chair in shock and couldn’t believe it.

Penny was happily vacationing with her family in Palm Springs when she fell gravely ill. Her husband took her to the local hospital to get checked out and the doctor told her to take a few over the counter pills and sent her home. About six hours later, she returned back to the hospital barely able to walk and after they finally admitted her, she fell into a coma diagnosed with TSS, (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and was teetering on the brink of life and death.

Miraculously Penny survived and came back to life after 3 months of being in a coma. After overcoming many obstacles, years of pain and grueling rehabilitation she is thriving again.  A few months ago she wrote about her experience for the first time and it is such an unbelievable account of strength, courage and the will to survive. I hope that her story will inspire you as it continues to inspire me and will remind you not to sweat the small stuff in life.

Here is the link to Penny Fisher’s Story: Surviving a Coma AND Staying Fun Mommy