Sunday, July 31, 2016

How to be Mindful in the Garden - Meditation Tips for San Diego Gardeners

Meditation Tips for Gardeners

by Kathleen Lisson

Kathleen Lisson planting trees in Encinitas, CA

As a volunteer at the Trees for Health arboretum in San Diego’s famous Balboa Park. I know firsthand the benefits of working in the garden. In our daily lives, it is all too easy to move at the speed of our thoughts - always in a hurry and skipping from one errand to the next on our to-do list. Our bodies move at a slower rhythm than our minds, a rhythm that is more in tune with nature and the garden.

A garden invites the gardener to pay attention to the present moment. Unless there are children present, the furniture and decor in our homes is in the same place, day after day, so we may be tempted to move through our home without looking at anything closely as we go through our day. Not so in a garden! Nature always provides something new to look at, a new leaf or flower on a beloved plant.

Working close to plants also gives gardeners a natural aromatherapy treatment. I feel peaceful when pruning lavender and energized after working near the mint, for example.

Gardeners can boost the mindfulness benefits of gardening by focusing on their five senses when working in the garden. How does the garden path feel underfoot? What smell is on the breeze? How vibrant are the flowers or the color of the newest leaves? Is there birdsong? How does the dirt feel in our hands? What does a sprig of mint taste like today?

Take a moment or two the next time you are gardening to stop and enjoy all that nature has to offer your senses, and you will return to your daily life with a sense of peace and increased happiness.

Find our more about the Trees for health garden here:

Kathleen Lisson is a certified Meditation Teacher and Labyrinth Facilitator and teaches Meditation and Mindfulness at IPSB college in San Diego. Sign up for a private meditation lesson in the comfort of your home here:

Friday, July 29, 2016

My Treatment for Basal Cell Carcinoma in San Diego

Toward Beauty and Wellness - my self-treatment for skin cancer

by Kathleen Lisson, CMT, CLT

I made a video during a recent trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA in which I talk about bringing beauty and wellness into my life as I move forward from my recent skin cancer Mohs surgery in San Diego.

If I could design a treatment plan for my skin cancer:

One whole day a month in nature
Massages to relax me
Journaling and deep mindfulness about the power of my words
More snuggling with cats and dogs
Feeling the breeze on my face
Walking in the ocean
Being near trees
Laughing at my own jokes
Asking my husband for a foot massage
Looking at photo albums
Drawing or coloring or painting
Walking the labyrinth
Listening to birds
Smiling at children and people on the street
At least five hugs per day

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mindset Training for Endurance Athletes - Do You Promote or Prevent?

Mental Training for San Diego Runners and Cyclists

Mental Training Tips for Runners

by Kathleen Lisson

Shirley Archer has a great article in the July issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal. In 'What is Mindset Training? A Primer,' Archer covers many different types of mindsets, including promotion vs. prevention, fixed vs. growth and 10 key negative mindsets.

Promotion and Prevention are a powerful set of mindsets in my life. Am I promoting my wellness when I take time to exercise and receive massage and meditate, or am I preventing disease?

Promotion seems to work better in the first few month of a behavior change. Switching to a prevention mindset once the new wellness behavior has been established enables athletes to keep performing the new behavior when new gains and successes aren't as common. For instance, during the first few months of a running program, promoting improved health is easy - we are running farther and faster and our body is becoming stronger.

Once we reach our goal weekly mileage, a prevention mindset can help runners keep up with our training, even when our bodies aren't getting leaner or our times faster. In a promotion mindset, feedback will be success based - a new, faster 5K time or feeling that a ten mile run is 'easier' on our bodies than it used to be. Prevention mindset feedback is failure based - we can see when we didn't run according to our schedule that our running times are slower and it is harder to complete long runs.

Overtraining feedback can also be failure-based - feeling exhausted, a higher resting heart rate and changes in mood and sleep patterns are signals that overtraining may be happening.

Read more about Mindset Training here:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Khenpo Tsering Samdrup presentation at Pacific Pearl La Jolla

 Khenpo Tsering Samdrup presentation 

at Pacific Pearl La Jolla

by Kathleen Lisson

It was a privilege to be able to spend time listening to Khenpo Tsering Samdrup, Tibetan Monk from India at Pacific Pearl La Jolla with Board-Certified Cardiologist Dr. Mimi Guarneri. Khenpo Tsering Samdrup shared his views on the meaning of happiness and spoke at length about the role of meditation in easing the mental suffering that sometimes is a part of illness. 
I was happy to hear Dr. Mimi Guarneri add a few words after Khenpo Tsering Samdrup's presentation. She mentioned the important of practifing compassion, joy and service in the lives of the patients she saw as a cardiologist. 
The room was packed with listeners and overflowed into the hallway. The unifying message seemed to be the importance of a regular meditation practice for wellness, whether the meditator is suffering from an illness or not. 

Find Pacific Pearl La Jolla's events calendar here:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

How to Make Meditation a Habit

Three Tips for Making Meditation a Habit

by Kathleen Lisson

On the first night of my meditation classes, we discuss tips for how to fit a regular meditation practice into a busy schedule. Here's a sneak peek at how new meditators in San Diego make their practice into a daily habit.

Tip 1 - Choose Your Space

The first tip is to select one spot in the house or yard to meditate and keep necessary items nearby - pillows, blankets, gratitude journal etc. Meditating at the ocean? Place all your needed items in a bag and give your bag a 'home.'

Tip 2 - Choose Your Meditation

The second is to determine in advance how long and which meditation will be used. A meditation app like Insight Timer can provide support for silent and guided meditations.

Tip 3 - Choose Your Trigger

The third is to pick a ‘trigger’ for your meditation, an event that happens right before it’s time to meditate. That could be walking the dog, making a cup of tea, returning from driving the kids to school. The ‘trigger’ will remind the meditator it is time to meditate and the location, supplies, time and type of meditation are already decided. All that’s left to do is enter into the present moment!

Kathleen Lisson is a certified Meditation Teacher and Labyrinth Facilitator and teaches Meditation and Mindfulness at IPSB college in San Diego. Sign up for a private meditation lesson or labyrinth walk in the comfort of your home here:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yes! Families can massage those with a cancer diagnosis!

How to Massage a Family Member with a Cancer Diagnosis

by Kathleen Lisson, CMT, CLT

I recently assisted at a Touch, Caring and Cancer presentation at the Moores Cancer Center in San Diego, CA. We shared techniques and tips with family members interested in giving relaxation and pain relief massages to their loved ones living with a cancer diagnosis. 

As an oncology-trained massage therapist in San Diego, I know first-hand the positive effects that gentle massage can have on patients going through chemotherapy and radiation.

In this introductory presentation, we shared safe methods of massage that an untrained family member can provide, including hand massage for cancer, face and scalp massage for cancer, foot massage for cancer and back massage for cancer. 

Arms and legs were not included because of the risk of blood clots in the legs and lymphedema in the arms. An oncology-trained massage therapist would be able to provide a full body massage. I had lymphatic drainage massage after my cancer surgery, that is a more advanced technique as well. 

We also shared bolstering techniques, providing tips on arranging pillows on the bed, a sofa, a chair and even at the kitchen table to make the loved one comfortable during the massage. 

A research study found that patients had a reduction in symptoms after family - administered massages. Patients included those with breast cancer, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, blood cancer, gynecological cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, melanoma, peritoneal cancer, testicular cancer and tongue cancer. Read about the study here: 

If you would like me to come to your home and teach your family members simple massage techniques that can help someone with a cancer diagnosis or similar illness, please contact me at  

A video showing techniques for 'Touch Therapy for Caregivers' from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is here:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

How to Use Meditation for Better Sleep

How to Use Meditation for Better Sleep

Try Meditation for Sleep on your next long trip! 

by Kathleen Lisson

One frustrating obstacle for newer meditators is how often the sessions involve at least a few moments of sleep. If the intention of a meditation session is not sleep, there are several techniques for staying awake. But what if sleep is exactly what your body needs?

A busy travel or vacation schedule means at least a few hours of downtime on a plane, train or car. Making the most of a plane ride can be the difference between arriving at your destination groggy or refreshed. What if you could enjoy a long nap along the way and arrive feeling balanced and peaceful? I recommend trying one of the following three types of guided meditation the next time you are facing a long car, train or airplane ride.

What you need:

Types of Guided Meditation for Sleep:

  • Mantra Meditation - this technique has the meditator repeating a phrase silently over and over. The repetition can be very soothing and relaxing.
  • Body Scan - this meditation cues the meditator to focus on and relax parts of the body from the head to the feet.
  • Yoga Nidra - This type of yoga doesn’t involve movement at all! Instead, the meditator will enter a deep ‘yogic’ sleep.

A week before your trip, select a few guided meditations that sound relaxing and give them a ‘test drive’ by listening to them before bedtime. Choose one or two that really put you to sleep fast and download them or bookmark them to your favorites. Then, when you are en route to your destination, settle into your seat, get comfortable using your mask, pillow and blanket, listen to your meditation and drift off into a nourishing sleep.

Kathleen Lisson is a certified Meditation Teacher and Labyrinth Facilitator and teaches Meditation and Mindfulness at IPSB college in San Diego. Sign up for a private meditation lesson in the comfort of your home here:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Can Spicy Food Stop Muscle Cramps?

How to Stop Muscle Cramps - Pickle Juice and Spicy Foods?

by Kathleen Lisson

A fascinating article was published in the Wall Street Journal today discussing the effect of overwhelming the nervous system as a method for easing muscle cramps. 'A New Way to Prevent Muscle Cramps' discusses Rod MacKinnon's data that shows a shot of spicy liquid reduces muscle cramps. This may be the real reason pickle juice works so fast for a cramp. 

I ran two half marathons while my in laws were living with us (they are from Trivandrum, Kerala in South India) and I never felt a cramp, though I do get them sometimes in my foot. We ate super spicy food three times a day. My favorite condiment is the mixed pickle, which is delicious in small amounts but not cucumber related (other vegetables are pickled instead). 

Yet another reason to have 'hot sauce in my bag.' Have you tried spicy food for relieving cramps? 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Cancer Journey in Photos - Basal Cell Carcinoma and Actinic Keratosis in San Diego, CA

Post-surgery Basal Cell Carcinoma Scar Photos

By Kathleen Lisson

I was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma in June 2016 and underwent Mohs surgery about a week later. Today I had my stitches removed. My dermatologist told me I am free to have a facial as long as the esthetician does not go near the scarred area on my cheek. The scar is rather red. I have to keep it lubricated with ointment and not wear sunscreen over it for a week. 

 Photo taken after surgery with stitches underneath steri-strips, 
before I had my actinic keratosis removed on the right side of my nose and my forehead.
Kathleen Lisson
Kathleen Lisson San Diego, CA
Photo taken July 6, the day I had my stitches removed. 

The basal cell carcinoma is barely visible on my face and looked like a pimple on my right cheek directly beneath my iris earlier in June when I finished a half marathon. 

I started today off with meditation and practiced awareness of breath during the removal of the stitches. I am being very kind to myself today and focusing on all the things I am grateful for, including being cancer-free. 

Why Get a Lomi Lomi Massage in San Diego?

Origins of Lomi Lomi Massage

by Kathleen Lisson, CMT, CLT

There are a few massage styles that immediately come to mind when I think of massage that can increase wellness and my emotional quality of life. Lomi Lomi is one of them. I was attracted to learning about Lomi Lomi massage in my massage school in San Diego because long flowing strokes felt so soothing to my body. I have received Lomi Lomi massages from the Ocean Crest Spa in Carlsbad and from Keoni Salgado in Encinitas and felt more in touch with my body and spirit after both of them.

It is fascinating to learn about the history of Lomi Lomi and discover that I wasn’t alone in connecting with the massage style’s power to increase wellness and peace of mind.

Lomi Lomi is the massage practice indigenous to Polynesia and learned when communities came into contact with sailors from islands near and far. It is practiced in Hawaii, and the first foreign observation of the practice was by Captain King and Captain Cook in 1779 (Chai, 2005). Lomi lomi was more than an invigorating massage for the muscles. Therapists were extensively trained, respected members of the community who use massage techniques as well as prayers and chanting to treat the whole person. According to Chai (2005) “lomi lomi happens in a particular place, with prayers, sounds, smells and at atmosphere that evoked healing before the massage ever began” (Chai, 2005).  According to Emerson (1918) “Hamoea is the principal goddess of those who practice the art of massage.” Chai (2005) writes that Hamoea can  be translated as “hamo, to rub gently and ea, spirit… ‘spirit massage’ it may imply that … the spirit is in massage and that massage restores the spirit” (Chai, 2005). Martha Noyes (1996), a Lomi Lomi therapist’s family member, describes the treatment room thusly. “what struck me most as I sat waiting was that aloha that permeated the room, the aloha that came from Papa Kalua. That, to me, is the essence of the healing environment” (Chai, 2005).

When I practice Lomi Lomi strokes as a massage therapist, I strive to bring Aloha to my client and give a massage that truly restores the spirit.


Chai, R. M. (2005). Nā mo'olelo lomilomi: The traditions of Hawaiian massage and healing. Honolulu, Hawai'i: Bishop Museum Press.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lymphatic Drainage after Mohs Surgery for Basal Call Carcinoma

What Helps Reduce Swelling After Surgery?

by Kathleen Lisson, CMT

Reducing swelling after plastic surgery

I was recently diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on my right cheek and underwent Mohs surgery to remove the cancer. I do not spend a lot of time in the San Diego sun without sunscreen and a hat, but my skin is very fair. The surgery was successful, but I was experiencing swelling around my eye area, much like puffy eyes from crying. I found it a little hard to read. I went to a massage therapist colleague and received lymphatic drainage and felt much more relaxed after the session. She also remarked that my eyes were less puffy.

Lymphatic drainage massage has been studied and found to be an effective post-surgery treatment for swelling. Instead of waiting for the swelling to go down by itself, I wanted to help my body reduce the swelling and move the excess fluid away from the surgical site.

Read how Lymphatic drainage provides benefits after surgery here:

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) for Lipedema in San Diego - Testimonial

Lynette is from just north of San Diego and has a lipedema diagnosis. It was a pleasure meeting Lynette and helping her to reduce swell...