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The New Year brings with it a sort of hall pass to a new life.  For some reason we think we are stuck with the way life is going.  We say things like, “Oh this has been a bad year”, or “ I can’t wait til this year is over..”!  The funny thing is that we have a renewed opportunity to change everything every day.  In fact meditation and following the breath is sort of a mini-version of a New Year everyday.  The in breath is the beginning of something entirely new, we have never had this breath before, or this dose of oxygen.  And the exhale is a way of letting go of what is not needed anymore. 


Imagine following each breath with the idea that the inhale is the opportunity for something new, the exhale is letting go of the old!!  Just think, we could be missing a whole lot of new stuff by getting stuck in the old stuff.  So by practicing allowing the new to come in with the in breath and to release what no longer serves us with the out breath would mean we can learn to let go and be in the moment, constantly.  That we don’t need to hold onto the ideas we might have about being stuck in some situation that we don’t want to be.  Now mind you this isn’t easy and perhaps if we are ecstatically happy about something we don’t want it to go away.  But the truth is everything is IMPERMANENT, fluid, always changing.  And freedom, even a sense of peace lies in learning to let go. 

So as a New Years resolution, I am going to re-commit to my meditation practice as one of allowing each moment, or at least each day to be a clean slate.  That my daily ritual of sitting down and consciously focusing on my breath and letting go is the training ground I need to be in the flow of life.  Just in case something comes up that I don’t want to miss!!

I am wishing you a New Year filled with many moments experienced, embraced, and then released with a little excited anticipation of what lies ahead!

The Practice

Find a comfortable place to sit down and support your back or legs if you need to.  Make sure your spine feels elongated and relaxed and rest your hands in your lap (left palm resting in right palm) or on your knees. Lower the chin just enough to feel the back of your neck lengthen, soften the jaw and let the teeth be parted and allow your eyes to softly focus on the floor or close them with your eyes rolling down and forward. 

Take 3 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to start.  Let the exhale be slow to signal to the nervous system that you are slowing everything down.  Then allow your breath to flow in and out of the nose and notice how this feels.  After a minute or so you will start to relax into it.  As you breath in, you can say silently to yourself, “inhaling” and as you breathe out you say “exhaling”.  Do this to focus the mind on the task at hand and help to keep it from wandering off.  After a few minutes let go of the “labeling” and just sit, softly breathing, noticing your sensations, sounds, smells, whatever is happening in the moment.  When your mind wanders off come back to connecting your mind with your breath by labeling the inhale and the exhale.  You can even say to yourself, “letting go” as you exhale and notice how this makes you feel.

Try it for a few minutes each day or as long as you like, just a little check in with the new day and remember each new breath is an opportunity filled with possibilities!  Enjoy!!Image


It has been a couple of months since I wrote my last blog and it is a good indication of how life has sped up considerably and time has evaporated and so many things just didn’t get done!  As the last couple of months’ Google calendar reminders have called upon me to write my blog I felt that familiar sensation of anxiety and stress, and then allowed them to get pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do (or not do)! 

I opened “OM laguna beach” in January of this year and each month have gotten successively (and gratefully) busier.  It was Thanksgiving weekend a year ago that I found my little studio with a “for lease” sign in the window and knew immediately it was “the right place” for me.  I dreamed of having a place where people could come to learn to meditate or rekindle their practice and where I could teach and coach people in a warm inviting and healing space. And here I am 12 months later, doing the work, planning and growing the business, starting a radio show, mothering 2 teenage boys, trying not to ignore the dogs, all with a sense of pressure, stress and more aware of the losses of time as opposed to the gains.


Well today, that familiar calendar bell rang and I realized somewhat embarrassingly that I had fallen prey to the very thing I teach an antidote for; and that is cumulative stress and a sense of being overwhelmed by the race against time.  I am grateful for it all though as it reminded me of something very important that I forgot, TO SIT, TO BREATHE, TO MEDITATE!


Now as I sit here writing my blog on the first day of the last month of 2013 after reconnecting to that antidote I know so well that lies in the simple practice of sitting and breathing (aka meditation). I am once again happily reminded that I have something to lean on, a real gift of time and peace that exists at the very core of who I am, that it is with me even in the race and state of overwhelm. 

This is the double-edged sword of ‘awareness’ that we develop with meditation.  We remember something we forgot and then we forget again, and the cycle goes on!  The gift in remembering is to follow the steady cadence of BREATH and allow it to slow everything down into present time reality and feel the pressures of future planning and past incompletions fall into their proper places.  The difficulty is that we do forget, each and every one of us.  We get swept into the idea that this life requires us to stay on top of it, plan ahead and try to get somewhere, anywhere other than here. 


So my gift to you for the holidays is this gentle reminder to breathe…to take a moment to connect with that gift that keeps on giving inside of you and know that this moment is enough and filled with riches. 



Find a comfortable place to sit with your back supported.  Rest your hands in your lap (fingers Unclasped) or on your thighs.  Take 3 deep breaths in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth as you begin to shift your awareness and observation of the busy mind to the body and the breath.


Allow the breath to shift to the nostrils and notice if it feels strained or difficult.  Silently label the inhale as you breath in and the exhale as you breath out for a moment or two, settling in and surrendering to the process.

After a few minutes of labeling allow your focus to scan your body, from your feet to your crown, one breath, and one body part at a time.  And as you pause at each place, give thanks for the gifts you receive, from your feet, your legs, your digestive system, your lungs, heart and brain, and so on. 


Finally allow yourself to simply sit with the rhythm of your breath in this moment and sense the gratitude that the antidote is right here with you whenever you need it, and know when you find yourself in the race against time that the gift is within, just breathe!

I like to study different styles of meditation and different teachers.  I just finished “An Open Heart” by the one and only Dalai Lama and it really stuck with me.  I think I finally understood that dizzying existential concept that I have read and heard for so many years that “everything is an illusion”!  Statements like, “My Mind is Made Up” or “I Made Up my mind” suddenly took on a whole new meaning.  His Holiness the DL, talks a lot about how when we practice the skills of meditation we can’t help but to take a closer look at how our minds function.  He calls this ‘analysis’, and he says without it we would completely forget ourselves, our very existence.  Well driving down the road or cooking dinner it seems useful to have a mind, made up or not.  But for the purposes of creating more space, more peace of mind, it all really fell into place.


In this wonderful book there is a two-fold practice for meditation that is easy to follow.  One is called Object Meditation, the practice of observing whatever we choose to place our attention on.  When we practice doing this, we will immediately see how our mind wanders off.  The more we practice the longer periods of time we are able to sustain our attention to something simple and in the moment.  This in and of it self is very relaxing and you could stop here.  BUT that darn busy mind doesn’t want to be forgotten so it interrupts our reverie.  Here is where the second part comes in, Mindfulness. This is where we learn to catch ourselves straying into the thousand streams of thought that are always going on in our unconscious minds.  Once we have captured them, like catching a butterfly in a net, we gently return to the object of our attention.  Boom!! Simple right!!


Well now we get down to the analysis part, the illusion part…if you want to go deeper of course.  During the transition from Mindfulness, where you have just caught yourself wandering off, and back to the object of focus, your breath, or music or the sensations in your hands, there is a brief moment where you can see the “nature” of your thoughts; past, future, negative, positive, creative, destructive.  And as you begin to analyze how your mind tends to wander off from the present moment where nothing but peace and space reside, you see that you are making it ALL up!!  Everything in your mind in that moment is MADE UP!!!  It isn’t happening in the moment, it is just a replay of the past or a projection into the future.  If you can give yourself permission to NOT make things up but to expand your attention to each unfolding moment…well the possibilities seem endless!! 

The Practice:


Sit comfortably, lengthening your spine and the back of your neck by lowering your chin slightly.  Let your hands rest on your thighs and take a few deep breaths in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth!

Now let the breath find its own rhythm and label your inhale and exhale silently as you begin to let go of the wandering mind and focus your attention on the object of your breathing pattern.  You can scan the body from head to toe, or toe to head, silently labeling body parts or sensations as well.  What ever you choose to place your attention on for this practice, stick with it for the entire practice and you can try something different each time you “sit”! 

As your mind relaxes it also passes through a sort of doorway of boredom and it wants to stir things up, so it wanders to and fro, touching a thousand different subjects.  When you catch yourself (gently now!), you can silently label it “thinking” or “wandering mind” and return to the object of your meditation.


Do this for 18 minutes if you can and at the end do a little journaling about what you discovered about your mind.  Try it for a week and start to see the patterns!  Is your Mind Made Up?? 

Living in Orange County it is easy to pick up on how we label everyone and everything around us from careers, homes, cars and body types.  In the ordinary sense labeling people, places and things comes from judgment or some critical analysis.  In Jack Kornfields book “Meditation for Beginners” labeling takes on a whole new meaning.  From the point of view of training the brain to let go of the constant flow of thoughts, we can employ “labels” to bring our attention and awareness back to the simplicity of the moment.

As we first learn to practice meditation we start out by labeling the inhale and the exhale as they occur.  The mind will become bored with this task very quickly and all the aches, pains, and tension of the body will show up.  Then we can move this labeling technique to the body by noting sensations and pausing before we DO anything, just sitting back and labeling the experiences and watching how things change from one moment to the next.

Next the monkey mind comes into play.  It doesn’t like just sitting there marking the breath and sensations so it races in with a barrage of thoughts, feelings, and ideas about the past and the future!  Here is where labeling really comes in handy.  As we notice a thought happening, we can stop it midstream, just by saying to ourselves “thinking”!  We can label it even more specifically if we like, for example we can say to ourselves, “anxiety”, “fantasy”, “future” or “past”!  This shows the monkey who is boss and gives us a CHOICE, lost in thought, or present in the moment, with relaxed concentration conducting the orchestra!!  Put those monkeys back in the barrel and label them QUIET!!

The Practice:

Find a comfortable spot to sit, support your back and your knees and keep the back of your neck long and relaxed by slightly lowering your chin.  Close your eyes or allow your gaze to rest softly on a spot on the floor.  Let your hands rest in your lap or on your legs.  Take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, like your blowing on a candle, but as slowly as possible on the exhale.  Notice the sensations in your body as your inner engine slows down.  If something stands out in your awareness LABEL IT, 3 times!

Now allow the breath to flow easily in and out of the nose and as you breathe in, silently label it “inhale” and do the same on the “exhale”.  Do this 3 times!  Now scan your body from your feet up to the crown of your head.  As you do so, label what you become aware of, “foot foot foot”, “hands, hands hands”, “itch, itch, itch”, each time labeling 3 times and then just letting it go.  You are starting to become the keen observer, whose only job is to stop, listen, feel and breathe in the moment.  It’s sort of like being the sky, no matter what happens, rain, stars, clouds; you remain the same, constant, present.

Finally as the monkeys come in carrying with them hundreds of thoughts, you will catch yourself disappearing into one of them.  Gently say to yourself, “thinking, thinking, thinking” or “past, past, past” and let it go.  Return to the awareness of the moment, the itch or tingling sensation, the sounds.  You will see that when you label your experiences you are finally simply being there and something in you just lets go!Image

It is an unusually warm 80-degree day, with perfectly cool mornings in the low 60’s and every flower seems to be in bloom in Laguna Beach.  I drive along the same streets day in and day out and am suddenly taken aback at the sites and smells of fragrant wisteria, explosions of roses hanging over fences, vibrant purple hillsides of the ice plant, wild iris, ruby red geraniums practically pushing out of sidewalks and home veggie gardens beginning to take off.

It is all so breathtaking as if I am seeing our town for the first time.

This is the perfect season to plant the seeds of awareness with Meditation!

We can look to nature to remind us that everything is impermanent, constantly unfolding, and we can be surprised by everything if we practice keeping our eyes and ears open and really paying attention to the moment we are in.  This is the heart of meditation, an eternal springing open of the awareness.  Using our senses, as the meter for when we are “present” or not is a great tool and can be cultivated and grown and harvested at will!

The Practice:

Sitting comfortably with your spine elongated, your legs and arms relaxed and your eyes gazing softly at the floor or closed.  Take a deep breath in through the nose and exhale as slowly as you can through the mouth, like blowing on a feather or a bubble floating through the air!!  Do this 3 times noticing the sensations in your body; does it feel like your inner engine is slowing down?  With each breath allow your concentration to focus on how the breath feels in the body.

Now allow your breath to move in and out of the nose and let go of trying hard to do it and just let it happen.  Your breath is going with or without your attention to it, so this is your opportunity to train the mind to PAY ATTENTION to this flow that is happening inside of you all the time!  Notice the temperature of the breath, whether it is deep or shallow, fast or slow.  Try counting how long it takes you to inhale and how long it takes to exhale a couple of times.  You are becoming the observer of everything, allowing your senses to “feel” what is happening now; instead of in your thoughts on what has happened in the past or could happen in the future!

Scanning your body, imagine you can feel the breath moving from your feet, up to your ankles, shins and calves, behind the knees, and up into the thighs.  You can feel the weight and the shape of your legs, from the bones out to the skin.  Allow the breath to continue to scan up into the torso, and notice if your muscles are contracted in your back or belly by softening from the inside out.  Let the collarbones spread, and the shoulders drop into the elbows and the elbows into the earth.

Lower the chin slightly, lengthening the back of your neck, let your eyes roll down and forward, softening your jaw and letting your teeth be parted, while the top of the head feels like it stretches to the sky.

Using your senses to FEEL your body and direct your breath, you will notice that you have forgotten about all the thoughts and worries.  You can let go of “doing” the practice and just float in sensation and awareness or you can continue to scan from the feet to the crown and back down to the feet again.

When your monkey mind wants to get in the game, just take a deep breath, blow out slowly and come back to the awareness of breath and body sensations.

When you try this practice every day for a few minutes, it is like planting  seeds (of awareness), giving them water and sunshine and waiting patiently while they grow.  This garden keeps on giving!!

Happy Spring!

Lori at OM

I have been thinking a lot about the idea of karma and decided to Google it and see what I came up with besides some notion that was planted in my mind (and I think in most of our minds).

  1. Karma – stuff that happened in a past life that created your present circumstances that you have no control over
  2. THE luxury electric sports car the Fiskar Karma!
  3. Stuff you do now that creates your future circumstances that you have control over
  4. An app you can buy for $79 that allows you to shop?


Well #3 stood out for me, I could see how my actions have consequences NOW and I have control over them.  And as far as meditation goes this is the ultimate examination of how we create karma through our thoughts, then our words, and definitely our actions.

When we sit down and meditate we are learning at first not to listen to our thoughts but to listen to our breath and the simplicity of the moment by moment experience of sensations measured against the torrent of thoughts that flow sort of next to this moment of sitting and breathing and doing nothing.  As we “practice” day in and day out we cultivate greater self- awareness and can manage the flow a little better. 

Where karma is concerned though we can use meditation to gently examine the nature of our thoughts, are they negative?  Are they related to situations, people or things that we want some control over or have lost control of?   At the most minute level we can see that by focusing our attention on negative thoughts about others or ourselves we are creating a sort of karmic response.  For example if we are thinking something negative about someone and they walk into the room, how do we feel about them, how are we going to treat them in that moment and what is the outcome likely to be?  This is the chain of karma, THOUGHTS, WORDS, ACTIONS, and OUTCOME. 



Take three deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, blowing as slowly as you can.  You will notice your inner “engine” slowing down by the third breath.

Now allow the breath to flow in and out of the nose without force and notice how your body is feeling today, where you are sitting, what is supporting your body and make subtle adjustments to get comfortable and aligned.

As you breathe you can note the inhale and the exhale by saying the words silently to yourself for a few minutes.  Then let go of “doing” the meditation and just let yourself be, breathing, resting, becoming aware of all your sensations.  When the mind goes on its tirade of wanting to be listened to (I guarantee this will happen), you can pull yourself away by taking a nice deep breath and then silently noting the quality of the thought, NOT THE STORY BEHIND THE THOUGHT, just “negative”, “past” that sort of thing.  Take another breath and say to yourself during the inhale, “I am” and on the exhale “letting go”.  Practice noticing your thoughts, and then letting go.  And see where this leads you in your words and actions and the karma you create everyday!!


Wishing you peace and good karma – Lori

I taught yoga for 16 years, which I always liked to call “Moving Meditation”, and then about 6 years ago I stopped teaching yoga and started teaching guided meditation.  Over the years I began to see that sitting in meditation was just like yoga but for the mind.  Aligning the awareness of the mind with that of the body by focusing on the breath!

Either way these practices ‘got’ to me from the inside out.  I could not escape the fact that both of these rituals (ritual = repetitive) were designed to help me slow down, let go and accept things as they are.  The resistance to the flow of life began to disappear and the ability to accept it began to grow.


Whatever the practice I realized they are both an opportunity to connect and align what we are doing, what we are thinking and where we are through the lens of the natural gentle flow of breath.  These practices also allow us to look at where we are critical or competitive or stressed from the perspective of the observer, like standing back and watching a movie on a big screen.  There are many other things that offer the same opportunities, swimming, running, biking, hiking, chi gong, even fishing!  Opportunities to meditate suddenly spring up all around us every day, even standing in line at the grocery store!


The one consistently balanced easy, simple tool with everything is to pay attention to the BREATH; it just flows in and out, without our constant vigilance or command.  I like to think of this natural flow as a metaphor for our lives, underneath all the busy-ness, the chaos, the noise!!  There is something balanced, quiet and smooth that just continues to flow underneath it all.  Imagine if we realized the undercurrent of our selves is peace, balance, flow, and ease. 



Wherever you are, take a moment to inhale deeply through the nose and blow slowly out of the mouth.  Become aware of your body, are you standing, sitting, lying down?  What is supporting you?  Notice the breath flowing in and out of the nose now and silently say inhale to yourself as you inhale and exhale as you breath out a few times, just to start to refine your focus and become the observer.   Now try counting as you inhale 1, exhale 2, up to 10 and then repeat a couple of times!  Notice how whatever you are doing recedes into the background, whatever you were thinking about or worrying about disappears like a dream! Do not practice while operating heavy machinery!!

During the holiday season we have a heightened sense of awareness as each celebration brings us closer to the end of one cycle and opens the door for something new and yet undiscovered.  We all observe the holidays in different ways, some of us like to tuck in at home, and others like to travel, some to visit family, or to explore distant lands. Each unique experience holds a sort of magic and discovery!

We can bring this magic and discovery into our everyday lives with meditation practice.  We have developed the habit of needing an excuse a holiday to celebrate life, or to enjoy the fact that life is always changing, but the truth is everything comes to an end and something new begins again.  Everything changes this is the one thing in life we can count on! 


Meditation is a form of observing the never-ending cycle of how things fall away into the past and continue to open up to something new.  To get there you ride the breath and learn to observe and manage the wandering mind.  Imagine during your meditation that your heart, your breath and your spirit that reside deep inside of you are your home.  Your meditation practice is like leaving all the chaos and distractions behind and going home for a holiday. 


The Practice:

Sit in a comfortable place, close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, like you are blowing on a candle.  Now allow the breath to flow through the nostrils and get soft and even, it’s natural state.  Notice how your body is feeling, and make subtle adjustments to get comfortable.  Breathe into the center of your being, letting your heart open and your belly and chest grow soft around it.  As the mind begins to wander, (as is its habit), imagine that each thought or distraction is like leaving home.  When you notice that your mind has wandered away from your breath and body, simply remind yourself to follow the soft slow breath as it happens naturally and notice how you can draw yourself away from the thoughts and back in to the center, to your home. 

Practice for 2 minutes – 22 minutes. Ride the breath home and discover the magic of peace that lives inside of you!


Wishing you joy!


Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time for reflection on what we are grateful for and the opportunity to offer thanks to others, good food, good friends and a celebration of thanks seems enough for the moment.  Then suddenly the holidays are looming, the excitement of more celebrations and giving and receiving gifts.  But at the same time the stress builds to a fevered pitch as we worry about what to give, what we can afford, what is enough and not enough!  Even the first day of all the sales are called “black” setting up the tone and tension of the season.  All of these expectations fill us with anxiety, anticipation and sometimes even fear.  For some of us we will be missing loved ones who are no longer with us, and for some celebrating new lives, loves, jobs or homes.  However you look at it, we are measuring our lives as a series of losses and gains, and gift giving as reward or punishment.

We call this the season of GIVING, so why not borrow from Thanksgiving and pay it forward, give the gift of GRATITUDE this year!

Gratitude is an antidote to all your worries, stresses and fears and the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. We can be grateful that our bodies and health have gotten us through another year, and if we were sick, we can be grateful that our bodies gave us a sign to learn to better care for ourselves.  We can be grateful for our relationships, how they test us to grow and be a better person, parent or partner.  We can be grateful for the accessibility to healthy abundant food, and the almost perfect weather and beauty surrounding us.  This holiday season we can meditate on gratitude to be able to find balance in all the holiday madness and remember everything that this year has provided.


You will need a comfortable place to sit and a notebook.

Take 3 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to get settled.  Then allow the breath to flow through the nostrils, observing it for a minute or two, notice the perfect rhythm that the breath has without forcing it.  This is truly a gift that keeps on giving!!  Imagine giving thanks to the lungs, the heart and the simple art of breathing that keeps you alive!

Now scan the body from the crown of the head to the tips of the toes as you breathe.  Thank each part of the body for all its functions that help to give you energy, sight, sound, taste, digestion, circulation, movement etc.  Noting each thing as you scan the body and breathe.

Finally take a deep breath into the mind, and give thanks for this magnificent albeit too busy part of you that thinks and problem solves, and continues to learn and grow.

Once you have taken the time to extend gratitude to yourself pick up your notebook and start making a list of people and things in your life that you are grateful for.  Perhaps your gifts this year are with words, a card, a song, or some symbol that represents the gift that someone is to you.

As you begin to realize how much in life there is to be grateful for and what a gift your life truly is, then thinking of something to give is a no brainer, just give the gift of GRATITUDE, it is always enough!

Wishing you all peace of mind this holiday season!!


The Inner Roommate is the second chapter title from a great book on meditation I just started, recommended by an acquaintance at a dinner party, called The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.  I was inspired to read it because this lovely woman who doesn’t meditate and has expressed how much she would like to but how hard it is said this book really spoke to her, described her and made sense to her.  This to me is the ultimate in teaching meditation, to make sense to the very people who need it the most, everyday folks like us whose lives are crammed with activity, plans for more activities and memories of activities past.  This is not another book of ancient philosophies that requires translation to begin to read let alone understand, it is modern day meditation to soothe the ordinary soul.

This chapter especially jumped out at me, as I love to think of the mind as if we are carrying around another head, a two-headed monster, a siamese twin that won’t leave us alone.  This chapter describes the busy always-chattering mind as a sort of “inner roommate”.  Imagine, it goes on to say, if your mind was an actual person and everywhere you went, everything you did it was constantly following you around and talking.  This would get tiresome to say the least, especially if you were trying to take a bath or watch a movie or get some work done!!  This is a truly brilliant metaphor as it tells us that if we imagine this incessant chatter lives outside of our present experience that we might simply tell it to be quiet or to kindly leave us alone.

It reminds us that we have a CHOICE!!!  This is the root of meditation for me, knowing that I always have a choice about how many thoughts (chattering inner roommates that follow me around) I will allow at any given time and whether or not to listen to them, believe them, and define my life by them.

The Practice:

Find a nice quiet comfortable place to sit for a little while, if this is impossible, than find the next best thing, perhaps locked in your car in the driveway!

Take three deep inhales, exhaling through the mouth like you are blowing on a candle.  Let the breath become a little longer with each exhale as you feel yourself begin to slow down.

Begin to breathe deeply through the nostrils at first and then allow yourself to settle into the gentle natural flow of breath in and out of the nose.  Feel your body settle in to the space around you, letting the muscles soften around the bones.  Lengthen the spine, lower the chin slightly and let the neck and shoulders grow soft and relaxed.

As you continue to breathe become aware (or at least try to imagine)  that you are sitting in a quiet place, there is no music, no TV, the lighting is perfect, and you are very comfortable where you are.

Give yourself permission to rest there, to be present and quiet and listen to the soft rhythm of your breath.  When your “inner roommate” enters the room and starts talking, you notice how your body becomes tense and you lose the sense of rest and the peacefulness of being present.  Take a deep breath in and out of the nose, tell the roommate to be quiet, that you will chat later, and return to your awareness of the quiet room around you, the way your body feels and the soft flow of your breath.  Keep practicing, after awhile your chatty inner roommate will get bored with the silence and go find somewhere else to play!