We love our snowflakes!

We are filled with gratitude for you!
As the year winds down, our cup is overflowing with love and gratitude for all of the blessings that 2016 has brought.  Good health is at the top of our list, along with new friends at breathe bar and at the Center for Healthy Minds, as well as old friends.  One of breathe bar's dearest amigas is Sylvia Perez of Fox32 Chicago.  (Editor's note:  Sylvia Maldonado, breathe bar's founder, was Sylvia Perez's HealthBeat intern at WLS-TV, ABC 7 Chicago, back in the day; she was a health & wellness girl even back then.)  Sylvia P. invited Sylvia M. on her show this past Sunday, 12/18, to talk meditation.  We're working on getting a link to the segment.  In the meantime, we shared our tips for mindful breathing (below), and cute snowflakes Ava and Abriel watching the show.  Enjoy!


For our faithful readers, you know we think the gift of attention is one of the most genuine and heartfelt presents you can give this holiday season.  That being said, sometimes we want to give a token of our affection to our friends and loved ones.  We have put together a list of some of our favorite things for everyone on your list.  Hope this helps you out!

For foodies, you can't go wrong with a gift basket filled with these healthy snacks.  All indie brands + local (Chicago plus Cleveland).

  • Garden of Flavor - yummy juices and cleanses. We're partnering with them to offer a unique wellness experience at Mariano's West Loop soon.  Stay tuned for details!
  • Think Jerky - chef-crafted jerky; a percentage of revenue is donated to the David Lynch Foundation.
  • The Paleo Cookie Company - hands down, our favorite cookies.

For your practical loved ones:

  • Winter gloves & hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Cozy socks
  • Flannel sheets

For the entertainers:

  • No Denial Foods - their pies are made for those with food sensitivities though you would never know it.  Pure decadence.
  • SOCIAL Sparkling Wine - their toasted coconut almond wine transports us to the tropics!  Bonus:  only 88 calories.
  • Zen and Tonic:  When green drinks go boozy, this guide is for you.  

For a laugh:

For the meditators (aspirational, practicing, and everyone in between):

Enjoy the holiday season and remember to take time out for you to sit back and breathe.
Resuming on January 2, join us for our latest meditation series in Chicago's West Loop. Use promo code:  bbbogo2017 when you register online and bring a friend free to class! Meditating, especially with a friend, is a great way to kick off the new year.
With gratitude,

Your friends at breathe bar

Sylvia Maldonado
The Power of Attention

Energy flows where attention goes.
Mindful living comes back to this treasured adage time and time again, and with good reason; it's true. Whether we're settling into our daily yoga practice, brewing our morning cup of coffee, or playing with our children, attention is what revitalizes our experiences, adding a sense of vibrancy and newness to our daily lives. The words of the beloved Irish poet John O'Donohue come to mind:
"May you be present in what you do. / May you never become lost in the bland absences."
With the holidays in full swing, it's easy to go on auto-pilot. (Guilty as charged here.) Between last-minute preparations and tying up all the loose ends, keeping our awareness on the present moment can be tricky when the mind would rather wander elsewhere. For me, this manifests as an ever-expanding to-do list that plays on a loop in my head, laying out everything I still need to get done before my kids begin their two-week winter break from school

Then I stop and repeat my new mantra for when my mind runs away with itself: Step away. This gentle reminder nudges my awareness away from "the bland absences" of everyday life and back to the present; the sound of the music playing in my headphones, the feel of my dog's head on my lap.

This time of year, holiday shopping is perhaps the easiest area to lose sight of ourselves. We often get caught up in the frenzied gift-buying. Why? We want to show our friends and family just how much we love them. But reach back into your favorite holiday memories for a moment. Chances are it's not heaps of toys that stand out. Rather, it's laughing with your cousins or helping your grandmother in the kitchen. Simply put, it was the attention you received from those you love.

Attention directed inward is equally important. Meditation is the most effective way to fill your own cup, which, in turn, better equips you to give more fully to others. In that spirit, we invite you to take part in our latest meditation series underway in Chicago's West Loop. It just might re-center your attention for the holiday home stretch.

Marianne Hayes is thrilled to join the breathe bar team as a guest contributor. She's a longtime freelance writer with a passion for spiritual growth and inner life.

Editor's note:  We connected with Marianne after we read this great article of her's about meditation.  It offers some of the best guidance we've seen about starting a meditation practice, and sticking with it, from a perspective that we can all relate to.
Thanks to the power of the Internet, we tracked Marianne down, shared our stories of meditation and wellness, found a kindred spirit, and here we are!  We're grateful to have Marianne as our first guest contributor to breathe bar!

Do you have meditation and wellness stories to share? 
We'd love to connect with you!
Please drop us a line:  info@mybreathebar.com

Marianne with her girls and their dog!
Sylvia Maldonado
Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and the beginning of the at-times stressful holiday season, it can sometimes be a challenge to remember our blessings.  During these acrimonious times, when we seem to be surrounded by rancor, it is in those challenging moments that we can take the opportunity to pause, take some deep breaths, and have a gratitude moment.  This gratitude practice doesn't mean that go about our day in a state of oblivion or apathy.  It is about deciding to make a choice to not get sucked into negativity, and rising above.  Focusing on the positive does indeed improve well-being and happiness levels.  Don't take it from us - check out this article from Harvard Medical School.

Their tips to cultivate gratitude include:

  • Write a thank you note.
  • Thank someone mentally.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Count your blessings.
  • Pray.
  • Meditate.

We challenge you to pick one, try it daily for a week, and notice any change in your happiness levels.  In the meantime, as an expression of our gratitude to you, for all of your love and support, we're offering a free meditation class on December 5, to kick-off our breathe bar 8-week meditation series at Venue One.  Reserve your spot today.  We can't wait to see you!

May you have a joyful and peaceful Thanksgiving.

With gratitude and love,

Your friends at breathe bar

Kelsey Kreiling

The City of Chicago is still on Cloud 9 from the Cubs' dramatic win last Wednesday.  After the parade on Friday, this weekend has seen the Cubs celebrating at Disney World and with Bill Murray on Saturday Night Live.  While many factors contributed to the team's success, we'd like to give a special shout out to Darnell McDonald, a former professional athlete who is the mental skills coordinator for the Chicago Cubs. 

In this video, McDonald explains how the Cubs' manager, Joe Maddon, a meditator himself, recruited him to work with the inner game of the Cubs players, through teaching yoga and meditation.  McDonald explains that meditation is about being present, in the moment, even when you're driving.  Notice your body.  Are your shoulders tense?  Relax them.  He gives practical, no-nonsense advice that really demystifies the practice.  Want to get started?  Try our free 5-minute Introduction to Meditation at mybreathebar.com.

Whether you're new to meditation, or if you have an established practice, come join us at our ScentMed seriesNovember 8 - great stress release on Election Day -  and November 15.  Use promo code:  cubs for 50% off.  In the meantime, you can find us on Facebook for our latest news.  Do you have any meditation stories & tips to share?  We're all ears.  Contact us at info@mybreathebar.com.

Kelsey Kreiling
Go, Cubs, Go!!

We have baseball on the brain.  Learning the backstories of the players (we loved hearing about the friendship of the Cubs' Javier Baez and the Indians' Francisco Lindor, dating back to their childhood days in Puerto Rico) has reignited our interest in the MLB.  As we enjoy the World Series, it may not seem like professional sports and meditation are a natural fit.  However, many professional athletes and coaches, from Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, have been vocal about their use of meditation techniques to hone their inner game. 

One of the common elements they share is George Mumford (pictured below), who teaches mindfulness.  He's the author of The Mindful Athlete:  Secrets to Pure Performance.  In the book, which applies to athletes and non-athletes alike, he suggests asking yourself a challenging question each day.  For example:  Where do I hold my stress in my body?

Mumford says that as you learn to practice listening deeply to yourself and your body, you can listen better to others.  Listening without judgement nor interruption is one of the best gifts we can give each other.

Whether you're new to meditation and want to start "feeling your breath" or if you have an established practice, come join us at our ScentMed series, starting November 1.  We'll be creating personalized essential oil blends, made by you based on your needs (i.e., energy, calm, focus, etc.) that can enhance your meditation practice.  We hope to see you!  In the meantime, you can find us on Facebook for our latest news.

Kelsey Kreiling
Thank you!

A big thank you to everyone who attended our breathe bar pop-ups and enjoyed meditation on our breathe bar players (featuring our very own guided meditations about mindfulness, focus, gratitude, body awareness and kindness, in English and in Spanish).  At our pop-ups, we were blessed to partner with some of the best practitioners and local brands in meditation and wellness:  Kathmandu YogiNo Denial FoodsSkinny Souping, Rich Krzyzanowki (acro massage guru), Lisa Gniady (gong healer extraordinaire), and doTERRA Oils.  We'll be sure to keep you updated on future pop up-dates and times.  Want some breathe bar love? Click here to request a breathe bar pop-up at your workplace or wellness event.

To support group meditation and explore the topics that matter to us most, we're launching breathe bar circles next week at cozy and cool spaces around the city.  Details here for the August 10 circle around food facilitated by Sarah Baker of Balanced BabeAugust 11 features mindfulness expert Marilyn Joy at Logan Square's awesome Owen + Alchemy for a double whammy of meditation + juice goodness.  Space is limited for both events so please reserve a cushion in advance.

Since we're all about spreading compassion to make the world a better place, we'll be sharing tips to support your meditation practice and enhance your well-being. 

Kelsey Kreiling
End of Summer Bash!

We're sad to see the Summer coming to a close, but we're ending it with a bang this Thursday, 8/25, at David Barton Gym's end of summer bash.  It's a block party with free classes, including yoga, wellness goodies, and meditation provided by your's truly.  It's free but registration is required.  Come join us!

Thank you to all who attended our breathe bar circles, to Sarah Baker of Balanced Babe and Owen + Alchemy for hosting, and to Marilyn Joy for our meditation instruction!  We look forward to hosting more in the future.  In the meantime, Savannah, of Owen + Alchemy, shared a tip with us for a great wellness treat - chia seed pudding.  Soak 1/4 cup chia seeds in 1 cup Owen + Alchemy juice (we especially like #57 with raw almonds/cashews/ginger/turmeric) overnight until it gels into a pudding.  Yummy!    Speaking of treats, a big congratulations to our partner and friend, Debbie Wood, purveyor of awesome granola snacks and decadent desserts, on the official launch of her company, No Denial Foods.


Since we're all about spreading compassion to make the world a better place, we'll be sharing news, events & tips to support your meditation practice and enhance your well-being.  You can start by attending the Tea & Sit at Shambhala Chicago - West Loop tomorrow at 7pm.  It's a great intro to mindfulness meditation.  Speaking of wellness, have you heard about Arianna Huffington and Thrive Global?  What do you think about her latest venture?  Have any tips to share?  We're all ears.  Contact us at info@mybreathebar.com.

We recently read Mallika Chopra's (yes, the daughter of Deepak) book, Living with Intent. 

The thesis is that you can manifest what you pursue with INTENT:(Incubate->Notice->Trust->Express->Nurture->Take action).  To get started, she suggested this letter-writing exercise- directions below.  Put pen to paper and let's have a letter opening party in February 2017!

Kelsey Kreiling