Nov 272019

Why We Sleep

I just finished reading the book“Why We Sleep”- unlocking the power of sleep and dreams- by Matthew Walker, PhD of neuroscience and psychology. There have been many scientific studies to determine the benefits of sleep and dreaming. What I learned was very interesting. Many of the benefits are very similar to the benefits of meditation.

Why We Sleep Book


Health Benefits 

Sleep and dreaming provide similar benefits to meditation. They also help you live longer, give you less chance of dementia, cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart attacks or strokes.  In many societies including our own, people think of sleep as a luxury. We think it is ok to shortchange ourselves in this department. Many correlations have been shown between sleeping less than 6 hours a night and increased health risks. The optimal number of hours to sleep is 7 or 8 for everyone.  In the United States, more auto accidents are due to drowsy driving than alcohol and drugs combined.  Read Amanda McKay’s blog for tips on sleeping: Healthy Habits to Improve Your Sleep


Dreaming is of particular interest to me since it provides a mechanism to soothe your emotions and to increase your creativity. During dreamless, NREM ( non -REM sleep) the overall metabolic activity is decreased in the brain. The opposite is true during REM ( rapid eve movement) sleep. During  REM  sleep where dreaming occurs, scientists have found activation of the visual, motor, emotional and autobiographical memory regions in the brain. It reduces activation in the region that controls rational thoughts. 
REM sleep helps us remember details of valuable experiences.  It helps us forget the painful emotions from traumatic experiences. This aids in removing the emotional charge from our experiences when we think about them.   While treating some veterans with a drug for high blood pressure, doctors found the medication reduced the level of stress-related noradrenaline in PTSD patients allowing better REM sleep. They reported being able to sleep better at night and a decrease in their nightmares.  
Dreaming allows us to make connections that would not be possible in our conscious mind. The center for emotions is enhanced and the rational thought center is decreased. Mendeleev, a Russian Chemist was able to organize the Periodic Table containing all the elements during his sleep. He had been trying for years. After not sleeping for three days or nights, he fell asleep and dreamed of the table where all the elements fell into place. Paul McCartney dreamed of the melodies of “Yesterday” and Let It Be” while he was sleeping.   


I have listed some of the benefits of Meditation: reduce stress, boost immunity, enhance creativity, increase productivity and improve attention & memory on the Events page here  You can see the similarities to the power of sleep and dreams.  Meditation is also a way to interpret your dreams. I keep a journal near my bed to record any dreams that I can remember. During meditation, I quiet my mind and ask what the dream meant. Then I listen for an answer. The trick is to wait for an answer – it might come that day or in the next few days.  You may have to ask again. In the same journal, I record any impressions that come to me in my meditations whether they are related to my dreams or not. Your mind opens up to new possibilities by stilling the constant stream of thoughts and connecting to your inner self. These impressions may not mean anything when you have them but frequently become apparent in the future. I also record any coincidences such a seeing the same numbers, the same letters, or the same animals frequently.  If you are thinking of someone and they call at that instant, record that in your journal. The more you practice noticing these occurrences the more in tune you become with the spiritual side of yourself. This can enhance your encounters with loved ones that have passed to the spiritual realm also.  You can listen to free guided meditations here:

Ann McKenzie- Meditation-Nature

I will be offering a Guided Meditation to the Community on 12-9-19. You can find the details on :
Sep 302017

In my 20’s I watched my cousins, Donna and Paula ,clogging to bluegrass music. Clogging is a traditional American folk dance that began in the Appalachian mountains when people were  listening to Old-Time Music – claw hammer banjo ,guitar  and fiddle. I had been dancing since a teenager to rock and roll and soul music, but I could not keep up with the clogging- it can be 165 beats per minute. I went to the Jaycee Center in Raleigh and took clogging lessons by myself-none of my friends were interested in this “hillbilly music”. I met a life time friend there, Cindy, she was doing the same thing.

 I started going to bluegrass festivals and met Ron and Mark who invited me to Chapel Hill to attend a  weekly clogging event. Then they  asked to me to join the Apple Chill Cloggers. For the next 15 years, I danced, called dances and handled bookings for the clogging team in North Carolina, Virginia, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. This first encounter of clogging changed my life in ways I could never imagine.  I had the pleasure of staying in people’s homes in foreign countries -absorbing their culture as a guest , not a tourist.

Ron, my friend, who asked me to be on the clogging team, met my roommate who soon became his wife. They are now celebrating their son’s 30th birthday and they also have a younger daughter. We discussed this last night at the International Bluegrass Music Association event in Raleigh, NC. It is amazing if you follow your heart where life may lead you. If you want to become more attuned to your inner passions, energy healing may help – for more information :

Many years later, I met Kathryn at a networking meeting just before I was supposed to lead a guided meditation at Lucky Tree in Raleigh. She and I never entered the meeting , we stood at the door and talked. I placed Katheryn on my email list and she and her daughter came to a guided meditation 6 months later. Within a year, she called me and I officiated her wedding – for more information on weddings : 

I believe there are no coincidences in life. Being aware of these subtle messages that come to you can be a bit more challenging. Keeping your mind and heart open to all possibilities can lead to a quite adventuresome life! A daily meditation practice –  only be a few minutes a day can bring rewards you can not imagine- reduce stress, boost immunity, enhance creativity, increase productivity and improve attention & memory. If you would like to learn how to start please join me at a monthly guided meditation :

My sincere wish is that when you leave this earthy plane , you look back and know you grabbed every chance to an spectacular  life!

Jul 152017

sailboat sunset

Ever wonder why so many people live near the sea? Do you feel more happy, calmer or have more energy? These may not just psychological benefits from the beautiful surroundings.

Negative air ions created when air molecules break apart due to sunshine or moving water and air actually help decrease  depression, increase energy levels and lower stress. This also happens immediately after spring thunderstorms. There can be tens of thousands of negative ions in the air near the ocean or a forest compared to hundreds, thousands or none in your home. If you are at home, jumping in the shower creates negative ions with the spraying water.  

Going outside for about 10 minutes  a day, especially near water,  without sunscreen can help you get the vitamin D that your body needs. It is more difficult to get sufficient  vitamin D from food. Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis and other health conditions.

My favorite part of being near water is the spiritual connection I feel with water. I always feel relaxed and excited at the same time. Looking at the sun reflecting off the water at the lake, beach or even a stream helps me connect with my intuition and spiritual center. It is like a form of meditation . I can allow my thoughts to just flow through my brain and not engage them. Many times when I  stare at the water, I feel like a part of all creation – the water, the sun , the air. My energy seems to flow outward into the universe and makes me smile. See:

Sometimes I swim laps when I have a dilemma I am trying to solve- I can let go of my conscious mind and allow my subconscious mind to take over- usually coming up with a solution I had not thought about. 

Can you hear the ocean waves hitting the shore , the sound of a babbling brook in the woods, or the sound of water hitting your boat in a lake ? Soothing sounds are used to help people sleep . How do you feel when you hear a fountain, ocean wave or brook in the woods? It makes me want to go to sleep when I hear those sounds or at least slow down and enjoy the experience. 

With all the information coming to us from computers, social media and cell phones, we can experience sensory overload. Daily life activities, work, and other commitments can lead to a stressful life which in turn lowers your immunity. Ever get a cold when you are stressed? Stress jacks up your body’s production of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones that lower immune response. Being near water helps reduce stress and  improves your ability to fight off sickness. Other ways to boost your immune system are meditating, spending time with friends, hugging or touching others, laughter (think belly laughs) and exercise.  For guidance in meditation or other stress reducing activities, contact me for a free phone consultation: