"Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one." -  Malcolm Forbes

I love going back to school with my colleagues in midlife. Truth be told, many of us never left school…we’ve just kept changing our majors! Research shows that mastering new skills helps our brains stay agile and our social networks robust. According to the American Council of Education, more than 50% of students in the US are older adults for an approximate total of 8 million. The Apollo Research Institute projects enrollment to continue to grow by 20 percent by 2016.

The best part of our cerebral wellness adventures are the class trips. Every year, a group of lifelong learners caravan to a new destination to validate our research and apply our knowledge. We’ve visited holistic learning centers like Kripalu Yoga and Health in the Berkshires, the largest yoga based retreat and educational center in North America. While visiting, we merge our love of learning with our interest in holistic modalities to restore and endure in a world rife with the demands and detours of daily living. We’ve enjoyed the Kripalu community while rejuvenating with daily yoga, meditation, hiking, biking, cross country skiing and lean, green, clean cuisine to recharge our batteries. According to an ancient Ayurvedic proverb, without a proper diet, medicine is of no use but with a proper diet, medicine is of no need. We wish it were all that simple!

Our last transformative escape included rest and relaxation through mindful massages and meditation modules. This year, however, our self love mission during February will focus on learning about the gift of Ayurvedic nutrition. Ayurveda is among the oldest forms of practiced healthcare in the world today with origins rooted back over 5000 years. At it’s core, this Indian based wellness system is a science of self understanding with the goal of attaining optimal health alongside nature’s rhythms. The foundation of Ayurveda is found in the the five elements of ether(space), air, fire, water and earth. Turns out we each have very individual doshas or constitutions which can be understood and then supported by customized lifestyle choices. This includes recommendations on food types and its preparation, specific dosha appropriate herbs and spices, pulse awareness, behavior modifications, yoga and oil based massage therapies to enhance one’s vitality, longevity and overall health. We loved the notion that a full life well lived according to Ayurvedic principles is one filled with physical and emotional nourishment….a perfect modality that prioritizes open minded learning and self love in a month that celebrate’s Valentine’s Day!

Jamaica Yoga Teaching AdventureJamaica Yoga Teaching Adventure

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated business/wellness spokesleader that keynotes, consults and coaches on enlightened leadership themes in the corporate, wellness and convention space. Learn more at donnalyn.org/workshops or on Facebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks Locally, she's an insurance planning entrepreneur, leadership trainer and adjunct professor of economics and business.

Two River Times January 2015 - Health & Wellness Columnist

Tis the season to be jolly! But what if you're not? What can you do about it? Well, if you're chasing enlightenment in the new year and are interested in how others have historically managed suffering, it might serve you well to review the Four Noble Truths. Buddhists everywhere will share that abiding by these key life lessons will help you improve your groove in 2015. The word Buddha is derived from the Sanskrit root word "budh" which means to awaken or to become enlightened. According to this 2500 year old philosophy, a crucial step toward enlightenment or awakening is to surrender to suffering. The Four Noble Truths give us clues on how to alleviate suffering.

The first Noble Truth describes suffering as a universal occurrence. We all experience "dukkha" which are those unpleasant things in life that we would prefer to avoid. Suffering, in a way, is the great humanitarian equalizer. No one goes unscathed from suffering in a lifetime. It's how we handle suffering that can make all the difference in our lives and the lives of others.

The second Noble Truth centers on the origin of suffering. Suffering manifests when we cling to or crave pleasure or permanency. At the same time, suffering can arise by rejecting what is or avoiding the unpleasantries of life that we have no control over. Ever hear the phrase "Pain in life is inevitable but suffering is optional?" The Buddha speaks to our choice in how we manage challenge and crisis.

The third Noble Truth speaks to the cessation of suffering. If we apply the teachings to our lives, and learn to accept life for what it is and what it serves up, then we are better positioned to suffer less and savor more. Tall order no doubt, but through meditation, yoga and thoughtful awareness, we have tools to help us reduce suffering and dial up acceptance. In the teachings, we are reminded that all that begins, also must end and learning to embrace this notion will help us come to terms with multiple layered levels of suffering.

Lastly, the fourth and final Noble Truth embraces and supports ethical livelihood and a moral compass as a directive for a life well lived. To ensure liberation from suffering, if we act well, speak well, intention well and activate authentic effort in the way we conduct ourselves, we become closer to a life lived mindfully which aligns with a life filled with less suffering.

So, as you take down your holiday tree and celebratory symbols this season, consider what it might be like for you to sit underneath a Bodhi tree as Prince Siddhartha did when he became enlightened at age 35. May the new year bring you less suffering and more mental clarity. Namaste!

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated business/wellness spokesleader that keynotes, consults and coaches on enlightened leadership themes in the corporate, wellness and convention space. Learn more at donnalyn.org/workshops or on Facebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks Locally, she's an insurance planning entrepreneur, leadership trainer and adjunct professor of economics and business.

Monmouth County Chamber

Two River Times November 2014 - Health & Wellness Columnist

National Underwriter magazine cited a new Travelers Insurance Consumer Risk Index identifying priority
"at risk" concerns most Americans face today. At the top of the list (68%) is fear of financial instability
with risk of personal privacy invasion at 64%. Toward the middle of the list is the risk of a serious health
problem at 60% with "distracted driver' risk of injury being the newest categorical addition. As a
leadership keynoter, insurance professional and yoga instructor, my consulting
clients and college students are increasingly looking for ways to mitigate risk, manage careers and
reduce anxiety. As the world becomes a riskier place, living in the spirit of hope to cope has become
tantamount to living a complex life well.

In prior columns, I've mentioned the benefits of meditation, pranayama(breathing exercises) and yoga
but it's important to recognize why yoga can be suitable for managing anxiety for almost everyone.
Here are a few myths about who can and should practice yoga:

Myth #1. Yoga is for younger people. Fact: Yoga is for all ages. The actively aging population is
taking yoga classes like crazy! Several of my national yoga colleagues specialize in yoga for the "moving
mature" and can barely keep the pace with the demand for this energizing form of exercise which can
be done in a chair, in a pool or in a studio as a gentle or restorative class for beginners or regular
practitioners. Always get a doctor's approval before starting a new program but if you take notes from
96 yr old Tao Porchon-Lynch, you'll truly be inspired. Tao has been practicing yoga for 70 years and
teaching yoga for 45 years as the founder of the Westchester Institute of Yoga. She is currently the 2012
Guinness World Record holder for being the oldest and active yoga teacher in the world. You can catch
her love of yoga for all ages in an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN.

Myth #2. Yoga is mostly for women. Fact: Men are doing yoga at an increased rate of interest. Some of
the world's top yoga instructors are men that understand the flexibility, focus and strength benefits
that yoga delivers. I've worked with stressed out executives with bad backs, sports injuries and toes that
will never be touched but gains in pliability, reduced stress and a deeper sense of calm collection are all
reported benefits from their yoga practice. We just returned from another yoga retreat in upstate New
York where it was evident that many more men are now embracing yoga as a lifestyle and enjoyable
vacation getaway option.

Myth #3. Most yoga enthusiasts have a dance or gymnastics background. Fact: Yoga Journal updated a
2008 survey this year to find that 15.8 million yoga practitioners have recently grown to over 20 million
which represents about 8% of US adults. While most practitioners tend to be younger females(age 18-
44), most yogis are practicing to improve flexibility, reduce stress and live a healthier lifestyle. Fans of
yoga spend approximately $27 billion/yr to fuel their passion while only 15% of participants consider
themselves experts. Most yoga students categorize themselves as beginners(45%) so if you
decide to take the risk and dip your toe into the yoga universe, you'll have plenty of company in a
wellness world that is stressing less and savoring more. Namaste!

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated businessowner, professional speaker, workshop leader and lifelong learner. Learn more about upcoming programming at donnalyn.org/workshops Facebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks

Two River Times October 2014 - Health & Wellness Columnist

Stressed out leaders in life and business have gotten the green light from enlightened companies and scientific researchers that praise the power of pausing. Senators from Ohio are promoting meditation and CEOs are approving classes in ayurvedic nutrition and holistic learning to support their teams. Studies indicate that even a 10 minute nap will improve cognitive function and vitality for your “central executive” during a distressful day. So who’s not up for a little rockin restoration as we attempt to keep the pace all day?

DonnaLyn - Luncheon keynoter at Women in Leadership/Insurance & Financial Services Conference, Louisville, KY Sept 2014

DonnaLyn Giegerich - Luncheon Keynoter at Women in Leadership/Insurance &
Financial Services Conference, Louisville, KY Sept 2014

We’ve just returned from another insurance leadership conference in the beautiful state of Kentucky and here’s what attendees wanted more of after business as usual was accomplished:

  • Daydream more. Meetings less. . Most of us are looking for places to improve our energy groove between life’s demands and business quotas. You may not have to move very much or very far to maximize your money maker.  Start with taking mind naps to pretty places. Neuroscientists at Stamford are knee deep in research supporting the efficacy of daydreaming in our leadership lives. The research suggests that our lives largely seesaw between tasks that require great attention and others that do not. The important part of the research centers on compartmentalizing our days to avoid distraction to get important things done. That means segmenting the day in chucks to include time to review major reports, evaluate metrics, keep meetings on point  and check/respond to priority emails. The science suggests that switching “on and off” amongst multiple tasks consistently throughout the day impedes progress.  Think about how many times you check emails all day as a popular impediment to completing priority tasks for targeted deadlines. The argument is if you’d like to be more creative and more focused without feeling scattered and overwhelmed, take breaks regularly amidst prioritized work deadlines. Try to become more aware of the temptation to be distracted and make strides toward tightened productive processes.
  • Breathe to succeed. The next time you feel overwhelmed, push back and try this mantra : Slow Down or Begin Again. On the inhale, silently say to yourself “Slow” and on the exhale “Down” or when you’ve become distracted, try “Begin” on the inhale and “Again” on the exhale. Remain in a comfortably seated position and commit to several rhythmic breathing rounds until you feel your shoulders relax away from your ears and your seat really root into your chair. Notice how tension starts to melt away as you silently steady yourself into a place of less stress and strain by repeating the mantra alongside the relaxed breathing pattern. The end game is to center for greater clarity in an effort to savor more and struggle less.
  • Get connected to nature. After our business conference in Louisville, we jumped on the rolling hills of the scenic loop in Cherokee Park to join the other 500,000 visitors per year that enjoy  Frederick Olmstead’s landscaped architectural delight. There’s nothing like being able to bring it all together by celebrating the early signs of Autumn while daydreaming and breathing deeply to celebrate the “central executive” of our leadership lives! Namaste...

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated businessowner, professional speaker, workshop leader and lifelong learner. Learn more about upcoming programming at donnalyn.org/workshops Facebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks

Two River Times September 2014 - Health & Wellness Columnist

Business colleagues in the corporate leadership and wellness space concur that engagement is the blockbuster drug of this century. Seek, connect and converse to unearth insightful solutions. So why is it that so many people still miss the mark when trying to deliver on their wellness goals? My experience listening for clues this summer points largely to the importance of engagement and dialoging during discovery.

Summer is often the perfect season to enlarge our experiential travel lives. Whether you stay near or go far, it’s often the time for scads of roaming revelers to try new vacation ideas. Getting started is sometimes the toughest part of the new adventure. Here’s a perfect example. I’ve had the great pleasure of teaching yoga around the Caribbean for the past decade and this summer was no exception. While sharing the gift of yoga as the visiting resort pro, curious travelers frequently ask for advice on how to get started in the right class, at the right level, with the right people at the best time. I invariably suggest that they ask engaging questions to dial up the dialogue on point.

Millenium Park with Zen Plensa sculpture, ChicagoMillenium Park with Zen Plensa sculpture, Chicago

As we converse about what might be best for them at their current level of fitness and interest, I ask them three simple questions. First, do you prefer an intense workout? If so, I might suggest a moderate to advanced vinyasa flow or ashtanga class which marry a series of poses connected to the breath. If the student prefers a stress busting modality or gentle introduction to yoga, I’d be more likely to suggest a restorative or yin class for the practicioner that’s curious about the healing benefits of yoga. If the wellness seeker wants more information, we’d then discuss his/her preference for heat. Some like it hot and most that do find great value in variations of hot yoga like Bikram, and warm flow classes that lean on the thermostat to turn up the heat in their workouts. Thirdly, I query the student on their preference for form and routine. Some yogis love the creative, unrehearsed process that some yoga guides provide for their visitors because no class is ever the same.  Others like to know exactly what they’re getting, so they prefer the structured variation of set processes and attention to detailed alignment in classes like Iyengar which emphasize form with prop use. Systematic asana rounds in the heat would also be found in most hot yoga classes. As far as best time of day to practice yoga, most would say anytime possible! Pay attention to your circadian rhythm. If you’re are early bird, frame your day with a morning asana adventure to focus on wellness all day long. Otherwise, close out a productive day or dump off some stress with a good stretch and strength forming session to keep you forever young..

Bottomline, ask for referrals, get feedback from trusted sources and find a class that offers modifications to ensure your safety and comfort as you travel well in the world. Wishing you blockbuster success as you settle down summer and segway into fall!

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an intergrated business/wellness national keynoter, leadership trainer, local entrepreneur and yoga teacher. Seasonal outdoor yoga @YogaOnTheLakeSummerSeries  and next Power Panelist Event Oct 25 at The Red Bank Woman’s Club  combine business with wellness to empower others. Learn more at DonnaLyn.org/Workshops

On a Mission to Transition: 3 Ways to Improve Your Leadership Groove

You may be smart, but are you effective? We live in an incredibly interesting or consistently exhausting world today. You frame it. Every job is temporary, life shifts are consistent and demands on our time and attention are endless. So how are you showing up these days? Tired or tenacious? Harried or hopeful?
This article will share three ways you can improve your directive passion in life because only you can create your own career luck and life satisfaction. First, a word about perspective. Consider embracing the fact that discomfort equals growth. If you're complacent, you're likely bored or underperforming. If your inner wisdom is prompting you to "share more, do more, develop more" then its time to address your "inner call to action" and start working on your purposeful personal plan. Here are three ways to improve your leadership groove.

  1. Think it, Ink it. Study after study confirm the efficacy of writing your goals/plans/dreams down. Find an accountability app, get a notebook or buddy with a pal that will check in with you regularly. I recently was reminded at a business function of the mantra "you've got to see it to be it." Imagine yourself tooled up in your goal state and start writing down what that looks like, sounds like and feels like. Get an evolving visual around what your leadership role will be in this new normal for you. Make the description visceral so you can actually taste and feel what it will be like to achieve that new role in your life. Revisit this inked identity to cement the achievement in your mind to keep the model molding to fruition. Be sure to ink goals that are attainable, time specific and concrete. Adjust accordingly but endeavor to stay on track...with your pen in hand!
  2. Read to succeed. Get yourself plugged into technology to learn where your community of liked minded thinkers hang out. Thought leaders are plentiful on Twitter, celebrants of life converge on meetup.com and podcasts are plentiful. So pick your book, your nook or your notable instrument of higher learning and start playing up as part of that scene. I was reminded of the power of good habits when the female CEO at the Campbell's brand shared she was a voracious reader of multiple books a week as a child which has informed her leadership style straight to the top today as a mother, wife and corporate influencer. As I prepared for my leadership keynote at her company, I challenged her team of leaders around revisiting timelessly empowering good habits like reading and succeeding because if we stop growing, we're instantly outdated today.
  3. Skill up. Building a new life or a new business requires refined relationship building skills. Terrified of walking confidently into a room full of strangers? Take a workshop on presenting well, networking with grace or building a brand with relational focus. Ask for feedback from trusted sources outside your fan club and learn how to adjust your dominant messaging skills so you're showing up in the spirit of "refined authentic". Listen more, conduit connections for others and tweek your communication skills so that you're not just smart, but exceedingly effective. Successful leaders are masterful at cultivating mutually rewarding relationships and the truly proficient work consistently to improve the lives of others while simultaneously improving their own.

In short, in order to amplify your brand in the world, you must create momentum from the inside out. So, if you're in transition and want to stay "on mission", try these three tools to improve your leadership groove. Feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts or comments at my site, on facebook or twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks . Namaste!

DonnaLyn Giegerich keynotes, coaches and consults in the corporate, consumer and convention space on integrated leadership topics. She is rewarded everyday by the progress and passion her clients share around bringing their leadership lives forward in the world. Learn more at www.donnalyn.org for workshops, seminars, speaking engagements and events empowering others. Meet us this season at Facebook - On The Lake Summer Series.

Two River Times July 2014 - Health & Wellness Columnist

In an effort to be highly evolved global citizens, I recently invited our foreign exchange students to join us for a global knowledge quiz at our most recent family dinner. We collaboratively scored miserably despite our query confidence and considering we had three countries represented around the kitchen table. The challenge was another lesson in humility and a wake-up call to sharpen our international acumen. If you’d like to challenge yourself and have fun with your family, take a look at ProProfs.com and link to the global knowledge quiz series. 

The global citizenry interest was top of mind since we had just returned from another international yoga teaching assignment which always expands our connectedness with world travelers prioritizing their wellness. Couple this with the realization that our time with our foreign exchange students was coming to a close, we were mindful of the joy of connecting with and learning from others from around the globe. Test scores suggested that we were remedial in our global citizenry IQ skills, but our informing travel, teaching and foreign-exchange-hosting assured us of three things:

One: Beginning the process of global self-discovery is the most important part of the journey. Whether it’s getting on a plane to share yoga, business or leadership ideas, making the first step is often the most challenging part of the assignment. In our commitment to self-discovery, which celebrates ushering in the new and casting out the old, we promise ourselves the wonder of possibilities and the excitement of risk taking. We’re all an integral part of a wider and flatter world today, so why not leverage the opportunity to learn more deeply about our diverse and interesting world?

Two: Global wellness travel has many different faces. Sure, you can book a luxury eco-friendly tour with a private yoga instructor with the click of a wireless mouse or an app on your smart phone, but are you really connecting with the depth of the culture of the region? Not interested? OK but for those who embrace wanderlust with a penchant to go deeper, try a volunteer expedition in a far-off land with CrossCulturalSolutions.org. Some of my best yoga experiences were shared on a mission trip to Haiti, in the rain forests of Belize, and on the outskirts of resort living in Jamaica. Too timid to get your wellness feet wet in the wonderful, wild world of adventure? I highly recommend reading some divergent travelogues on your favorite region. I just put down “Tales of a Female Nomad” by children’s book author, Rita Golden Gelman. Her personal travel accounts were spectacular in breadth and description, as well as depth of connection.

Three: If you can’t visit a foreign land, consider bringing the global expansion to you. Our wellness world has been experientially enriching and very rewarding for over twenty years as hosts to business and student travelers from the cities of China to the sands of Dubai. Increasing our understanding of many cultures and enhancing our tolerance for a wide reach of thoughts and beliefs can only continue to open our minds and our hearts to a world that’s a better place to practice wellness and wonder. Namaste!

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT keynotes, consults and coaches on integrated leadership themes at conventions, corporations and in educational forums. She's a business consultant for entrepreneurs and and economics professor at Brookdale Community College as a 25 yr local insurance professional. Join her in the summer at https://www.facebook.com/YogaOnTheLakeSummerSeries.

Two River Times June 2014 - Health & Wellness Column

Spring was abloom with lots of leadership training travel this season. Its amazing to listen to the unending stories of lagging leadership when it comes to creating highly evolved cultures of creativity and collaboration in organizations. I recently had an interesting conversation with a senior leader that wanted to know how long yoga had informed my presentations on resiliency and professional presentation in the conference and corporate space. He assumed I must be getting a lot of push back and was surprised to learn that I've been busier than ever sharing what I know to be true for successful teams and their organizational leaders.

Here are a few ways yoga informs a leadership style that's engaging and invigorating for all. Yoga celebrates perspective. Sure, we all need to be accountable for production, innovation and operational efficiencies but at the end of the day, we need to create limits for our work lest it becomes all consuming. Talk to any human resource manager about the importance and expense of retention and lack of it. Talk to neglected family members that remind you of "too many hours at the office." Yoga allows us to focus more clearly on what and how to do meaningful work while being mindful of the importance of the totality of our lives. The best leaders long term understand the importance of limits, work/life boundaries and a fully integrated personal and work life. Maybe that's why Silicon Valley has introduced "napping pods" and "yoga and meditation" breaks at their corporate campuses to encourage this notion of perspective around work. I had the pleasure while traveling to meet an executive that shared her title as "Culture Director" for a tech company out West. Her sole charge was to be sure every employee under her "care" was taking breaks and having fun during each and every work day so that creativity could be supported and prioritized. Anybody not want to have fun at work? When I asked what their corporate vacation policy was, she simply responded with the policy as "be responsible". She shared that employees at her firm were so happy coming to work, that they rarely sought additional vacation time and always did so with their team project deadlines prioritized and discussed collaboratively so that everyone felt valued. Yoga in action!

Practicing yoga and developing a meditation practice also allows employees to remain more centered and calm during a business crisis. Leaders that prioritize self care and develop their confidence through challenge model self efficacy for their teams and are generally more pleasant to work with, all other things considered. Ever work with a reactionary boss with a short fuse? Leaders at all levels of an organization share time and time again that maintaining a sense of equanimity and steadiness at the office is much preferred to the leader that lunges and leaps to conclusions and decisions without full consideration of the entire corporate landscape and the people that power the teams. Again, non reactionary tendencies equals yoga in action.

Not buying in? Try it a few times and see if you get any pushback from anyone on your team...You may even get an "Ommm"..

DonnaLyn leadership presents at national meeting.DonnaLyn leadership presents at national meeting.

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT keynotes, consults and coaches on integrated leadership themes at conventions, corporations and in educational forums. She's a business consultant for entrepreneurs and and economics professor at Brookdale Community College as a 25 yr local insurance professional. Join her in the summer at https://www.facebook.com/YogaOnTheLakeSummerSeries.

Recently had the pleasure of leading an interactive Twitter workshops for businessleaders eager to leverage this cryptic social media tool. Once you master the language of Twitter, its all upward momentum if you embrace engagement and disseminate value. Our roundtable of experts included professionals in nutrition,insurance, tech, HR and horticulture to name a few industries ready to "dive in".

Here are a few of the takeaways we agreed on:

1. Discomfort equals growth. Everyone expressed initial Twitter trepidation. Too much to do, too little time. We managed to achieve consensus at our workshop that the effort would be worth the gains if we could committ to a mere 15 minutes a few times a week to get a "Twitter handle" established. Our group testimonials proved our point more than once..

2. Twitter is a great tool to amplify your effort and build your presence...once you get focused on your Twitter strategy and achieved identity in sharing your knowledge base as a brand leader.

3. Embrace my 3 R's of Twitter...Read, Respond & Retweet to maximize Twitter traction action and have fun doing it! Take a Twitter class to learn the techie details of setting up and launching your Twitter success. Our session was all about the "macro" view of how Twitter is building businesses..

4. Attend our next testimonial workshop or follow me on Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks to learn more about our tweeting in the Twittersphere!


Written by DonnaLyn Giegerich for the Small Business Development Center for Entrepreneurs at Brookdale Community College

As the economy rebounds and signs of green shoots in business building abound, here are three areas to consider for business insurance success. It's a new local landscape for many in the fascinating and frustrating world of insurance and risk management. Here are a few ways you can "improve your groove" in 2014 as a new or redirecting business in Monmouth and Ocean county.

Our coastal community businesses know first hand the affects of extensive 2012 Sandy damage. What many owners continue to grabble with when starting a business is the impact "Territory" will have on their business insurance success. Windstorm is a huge predictor of property damage in our coastal counties so understanding underwriting guidelines and pricing tiers in these locations is paramount to coverage placement success. Of course businessowners can expect to pay more for property insurance close to the shore, but many still fail to understand the coverage limitations, coverage availability challenges and the intricacies of the application process required to effectuate an insurance program. The second T is taking the "Time" to complete the new business insurance process thoughtfully. It's in a client's best interest to engage by requesting the "best coverage" to start the conversation and then adjusting the plan as budgetary restrictions dictate with a full understanding of coverage give-backs. Rushing through the process...

- Continue reading at: Small Business Development Center website

Two River Times May 2014 - Health & Wellness Column

Terrible things happen to undeserving people all the time. So how can the concept of detachment really serve you as you move through life?

First a word about what detachment is NOT. We often hear expressions like "it is what it is" or "whatever" in response to some painful event or unfortunate circumstance. We've become desensitized or inept at appropriately expressing emotions around challenging or tragic circumstances. This is NOT what the term detachment suggests.

On the contrary, detachment in yogic terms, according to Patangali's Yoga Sutras(the bible of Sanskrit teachings), is the idea of "total surrender" in the spirit of compassion. Detachment is the complete opposite of the lack of sentiment expressed in phrases like "man up" or "whatever". The goal of detachment is to not be attached to the results of your actions. Whether you reach your goal or not, win or lose a contest or remain healthy or ill, the practice of detachment is cultivated for the sake of the intention. Its not about the effort you put forth to attain any goal. It's really about surrendering the outcome to what will ultimately be regardless of your effort. The beauty of detachment is that equanimity can be achieved by dropping off fear, anxiety and stress around things we cannot control.


Detachment does not suggest a lack of feeling or a void in caring. On the contrary, the practice of detachment recognizes and honors the feelings of sadness, fear or disappointment but enables one to manage these feelings in an effective way. For example, when my husband and I were both diagnosed with aggressive, incurable cancers at nearly the same time in our early forties, we were definitely overwhelmed and felt emotionally highjacked. But in time, with perspective, we were able to detach from our emotions and surrender to the facts. Then we chose to concentrate on what we could do to continue living meaningfully. For us, our happiest moments before, during and after cancer have been serving our community. We simply continued to do the same in creative ways to help others navigate their career and lives through challenge. We focused on the intention of our work, not on the fact that in the end, we might not live long enough to see the end result of our efforts.

Detachment allows us to always be connected to our inner guide instead of being knocked off guard by shocking circumstances. As we develop our skills, we're better able to remain in the present moment, develop resiliency and remain fundamentally unaffected by outcomes. The end goal is to be able to live a more serene, calm and balanced life without huge emotional swings. The practice of detachment has been a key component in our ability to remain well throughout our journey. Meditation, yoga and pranayama(breathing exercises) are all methods we employ to build our detachment skills. These tools have helped us clear the space needed to continue to live at a high vibration in our work and personal lives despite shifting medical news, treatment side effects and impending surgeries and setbacks. As a result, we're able to focus on who we remain to be despite challenge and grateful for the entire landscape of our lives. I encourage you to explore how detachment and its supporting paradigms might help you navigate your unique journey inward and onward.

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA, CIC,RYT is an integrated business/wellness professional speaker and President of DonnaLyn Giegerich Consulting. Her leadership training serves the corporate, wellness and educational space on topics of resiliency, life/work integration and professional presence. She has presented from California to Cornell as a convention keynoter, corporate trainer and motivator for national brands like Novo Nordisk, Campbell's & Daiichi Sankyo. Connect at Donnalyn.org, on LinkedIn, FB & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks.

Team KickCancerOverboard did it again! We're up to EIGHTY SIX free cruise give aways! We were successful in gifting SIX more cruises to deserving cancer celebrants after the NJ Marathon this past weekend...Team Tireless Ted at Excel Travel rallied 200 volunteers to man up marathon water stations, give out bibs and T shirts while I feverishly worked the registration desk to upload last minute marathons and early birds for running slots in 2015.


Tom and our foreign exchange champ, Karim made sure every runner was a fashionista with this year's terrific running T shirt. We met many KCO volunteers on Sunday at the super SaladShack to celebrate more cruise giveaways! One of my favorite business mantras is "People dont care how much you know, until they know how much you care." This theme was evident throughout the weekend as Goodbie Amy(2x survivor) and Dale Paradise rocked the stage with their musical talent at The SaladShack, Mario daCunha Photography and Tom Zapcic(2x stem cell transplanter) snapped photos, Zynergy Ryan, Mighty Mike and Bouncin Barb Youchah ran the race as I(10 hr sarcoma surgery survivor) tried to play the tambourine toasting guests...Thank you! terrific Team KCO for Kicking Cancer Overboard so others can have the time of their lives at sea!



Two River Times April 2014 - Health & Wellness Column

Planting the first Spring pansies always reminds me of lessons in resiliency.  If environmental  conditions get unbearable again, will life persist…for the hardiest flat of pansies or for  folks that face great challenges? Research shows, for plants and people, that vibrant longevity often hinges on our ability to develop hardiness  to endure the toughest seasons of our lives. So how do we manage the unexpected and the unwanted in this age of uncertainty and rapid change?

Experts offer several tips to develop resiliency in order to live in hope to cope.  Harvard Business School professor, Joshua Margolis suggests that we frame adversity in terms of its depth and duration to help manage our response. In addition, how we control or create solutions to challenging circumstances is another way to transform adversity into a freeway of opportunity for others. If we can train ourselves to become more skillful in responding to our challenges in this thoughtful way, then hopefully we can spend more time engaged in meaningful momentum and less time in melting down.  If you’re interested in learning more about your resiliency quotient, take a look at the challenging self test at PeakLearning.com.  While you’re assessing your hardiness, consider a few more options:

  1. Develop a breathing practice. Ever hear of pranayama? In the world of yogic wellness, prana is known as our essential life force. Nothing happens without the breath and learning how to concentrate on the rhythmic patterns of our breath provides great benefits in calming nerves while crafting a resiliency plan for the next challenge. There are a variety of specific yoga breathing patterns but the first step is simply start becoming aware of the patterns of your breath and when the switch points occur between the inhalations and exhalations.  Try to notice when you’re hyperventilating through life versus sustaining a rhythmic and calm tempo conducive to making informed, non -reactionary decisions .
  2. Learn some effective relaxation techniques that you can do at your desk, during your commute or at home when the lights go down.  Autogenic  relaxation techniques enlist the use of words to suggest a general unwinding or slowing down. Think along the lines of “your feet are rooting down into the earth” or “your body is floating down a calm river”. If you buy into the suggestion, you will surely experience a calmer way of being.
  3. Try body scanning by paying attention to successive parts of your body as you slowly unwind feelings of tension and muscle clenching. Start at the top of your head and progressively move throughout your form to induce a quieting of the body and calmer way of being.
  4. Experiment with progressive muscle-relaxation exercises. Build resiliency by talking yourself off a cliff the next time you’re stressed by systematically bringing different sets of muscles to greater feelings of ease by exhaling longer and more deeply than your initial inhaling. Flood your body with the feel-good hormones correspondent with the parasympathetic nervous system.  Enjoy instant relief.

Even the corporate space is catching up on these resiliency boosting techniques. Silicon Valley is sporting napping pods at their corporate  headquarters, CEO’s are taking snoozing breaks to recharge and congressmen in Ohio are meditating to keep the pace.  Maybe it’s time you considered peeling back the power pace to restore to endure.  Good luck staying Spring hardy!

Yoga on the deck.

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA, CIC, RYT, keynotes, consults and coaches on integrated leadership topics in the business, wellness and consumer space to empower others. Her work is viewable at DonnaLyn.org. Locally, you can find Giegerich providing client care as an insurance pro in Red Bank, teaching economics and coaching entrepreneurs at Brookdale Community College or hosting Yoga on the Lake Summer Series for stressed out leaders. Connect on LinkedInFacebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks.

Two River Times March 2014 - Health & Wellness Column

Last month we alluded to movement being our medicine. So what can we do to empower our relationships with our wellness and medical professionals when we need them most? Prioritizing patient engagement has been an ongoing initiative in the medical world and will continue to be a dominant trend as advances in personalized medicine occur. But what is personalized medicine? According to Partners Center for Personalized Medicine, it's the opportunity to understand an individual's unique molecular biochemistry to better diagnose disease, suggest treatments for successful outcomes and mitigate the likelihood of adverse repercussions. It's a complex process with a lot of moving parts but at the core of all the science and clinical delivery is our collective ability to bond and communicate well with our team of experts to decide which course of action is best for us. So how do we show up well to maximize great teamwork in an era of openness, exciting emerging genetic discovery, advancing drug development and designer medicine for all? We go back to the basics of advocating well for ourselves from "our center".

Here are a few reminders for cultivating great relationships with your partners in wellness:

  1. When a course of treatment is recommended, ask for pointed details on the facts around efficacy for your condition. Ask about comparative outcomes for proposed treatments and ask about the underlying evidence for the diagnosis and if there are other interpretations to consider. Gather as much unbiased detail on the proposals at hand and if you can have another party "lean in" on the details, welcome them to your team.
  2. Ask about the side effects...both short and long term and if the answers aren't readily available, do more research or have your team deliver these results before making any final decisions. No questions is silly. Brilliant people ask for help when they need it. Be vulnerable...its courageous and if you're not sure, consider reading Brene Brown's newest book entitled Daring Greatly. You'll likely never apologize for asking a silly question again.
  3. Get your skin in the game. A great patient is one that shows up as a partner in the process of developing and delivering a wellness plan. If you need guidance on how to be a great patient, besides doing the committed work to keep yourself fit, informed and strong at any age, read Dr Bernie Siegel's book Love, Medicine & Miracles to learn about his experiences treating exceptional patients. You'll be inspired to then create your own plan for exceptional.
  4. Consider creating a complementary team of professionals to support your healing on an integrated basis. Many facilities are completely on board with integrated wellness today. If you need more, create your own wellness posse and ask your friends for referrals. Medicine and guided relaxation, as one example, can be a powerful combination and the beginning of a lifelong love affair even after the big decisions and treatments are settled.
  5. Appreciate your professionals. For years, we've been in touch with our team of lifesavers by dropping them a note, a card or an email sharing an occasional major milestone around more life thanks to their efforts and commitment to patient care. Create a great team and celebrate your collective success and gratitude for quality care through a medical challenge.
  6. Lastly, surrender the outcomes once you've made your best informed decisions. As we say in yoga, "be detached from the results"...do your best for the sake of doing well. As we age and commit to living more skillfully, we have an ongoing opportunity through medical and wellness challenges to be present for what we're given. Seems often that we think we can control reality but when we get out of our heads and into our hearts, we recognize that control is largely an illusion. So cultivate an ongoing relationship with yourself and your wellness team that celebrates authentic forward momentum so you can struggle less and savor more.

There is no doubt we live in challenging times with all the major shifts occurring in the medical wellness space. Hospitals and doctors are under pressure to provide excellent quality care with diminishing reimbursements while managing readmission rates, procedural complications and rates of infection to name a few recurring themes. Everyone seems to be doing more with less and the rapidity of change will keep us all challenged to keep the pace. But if we, as patients and wellness seekers are going to maximize our opportunity for a long and vibrant life, then we're responsible for contributing purposefully to reversing the global increase in chronic disease through healthy lifestyling, informed choices and empowered communication. We can all do better together as we leap thoughtfully into a long awaited Spring!

Dr. Vaughn with DonnaLyn

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated business/wellness spokesleader that speaks, consults and coaches on leadership resiliency from California to Cornell in the business, wellness, medical and consumer space to empower others. Work in motion is viewable at www.donnalyn.org. Locally, you can find DonnaLyn gratefully teaching macroeconomics at Brookdale, coaching entrepreneurs at the Small Business Development Center or providing client care at Couch Braunsdorf Insurance and Heritage Benefits Group LLC, Red Bank. In her spare time she shares the gift of yoga with her cherished clients and friends. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks.