Friday, April 21, 2017

Breathing Space

Take a deep breath. Open up the space between this moment and the next. Breathe. Create space between your emotion and your reaction, between your reaction and your decision. Create a space between your anger and what you say. Breathe. Make space between your sadness and your view of the world. Breathe space between you and your reaction to others. Breathe. Create space.

It's Friday. Many view this day as the beginning of the weekend. Yet, many others view Friday as the most difficult day of the week. It's the day in which everything that didn't get done during the week must get done. It's the day when we see what balls we dropped, what deadlines we missed, and what gets pushed on to next week's already full to-do list. Friday, for many, is the day that looms longer than others. It's the in which we hold our breath without noticing, in which we react without thinking, in which we bounce from one thing to another seemingly without a beginning or end in a loop of frantic activity and fragmented thoughts.

Today is a good day to create space for inner peace, calmness, and more composed thoughts. It is a good day to breathe and create space between one thing and another, between one task and another, between one thought and another. Let's breathe while we wait for the elevator doors to open, for the page to load, for the light to change. Breathing space between everything that we say, think and do minimizes mistakes and clumsiness, allows us moments of unexpected joy, brings up kindness, reduces anxiety, and let's a better version of us come through. Breathing space consciously improvises a smile on our face, creating a positive neurochemical reaction that makes us feel good. Let's breathe space between one bite and the next. Let's weave space in conversations. Let's be mindful. Let's take conscious breaths throughout this day creating space in our body, our mind, our spirit, and our soul.

Lotus Mandala 2, painting by Judith Shaw found at feminismandreligion.com.

© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Now and later

Last Friday a colleague and I sat around a work table and both commented how off we felt. He had not meditated either that morning. Not meditating made him feel out of focus and forgetful. I, on the other hand, was feeling clumsy and disorganized.

Then, yesterday, I had an appointment for my annual pap exam. These things are never pleasant. I was bit more tense than usual because I was visiting a doctor who was new to me. I was unfamiliar with him, his staff and the office. The waiting room was full of people, including many children and babies. The children were running around the room with moms screaming at them. Many of them brought fast food with them. At one point, french fries became toy missiles flying around the room, with more screaming from the moms. Most of the babies were crying loudly, some unconsolably. On top of that, the air conditioning was not working which made the smell of fast food stronger, pungent even. I knew I had to wait, so I had brought a book with me. Would I be able to read in the midsts of all the noise and discomfort? I focused on my breath.

These two stories bear out some of the results of meditation. Meditation has both immediate and cumulative effects. Many times, right after meditation, I feel grounded and focused. I feel as though I can handle whatever comes my way. There are other times throughout my day when I feel the accumulated effects of my meditation practice. Yesterday, for instance, I was able to read in bosom of life around me. Before I knew it, the nurse had called me into the examination room. Moreover, while the doctor was performing the exam, I was relaxed and comfortable. That had never happened to me before.

The focusing and calming effects on meditation have a real impact on our physical and mental health.  A regular meditation practice can help us be productive and efficient, think more clearly and creatively, reduce our blood pressure, and regulate our emotions, among many other benefits. Today is a good day to meditate for both the now and the later effects. Let's take a few minutes to sit in a quiet place, close our eyes and breathe. Let's do this consciously and bring about inner calm, equanimity, better health and our ability to deal better with daily life.

Image found at irinianagnostaki.com.

© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Stop. Drop. Roll.

I could feel my head getting hot. We had an internet security breach. After the initial chaos, we had to reconfigure every gateway into our network. This meant a breakdown of every system and a huge interruption of our work. We had to check every online account we own and reset every password. We had to test and retest our new security measures and fix the new issues that popped up. This is not over, I'm sure.

My head was on fire. I felt my brain was going to explode. As I was burning with anxiety and worry, thinking about everything I had to get done and the possible consequences of the hack, I remembered what we were taught as children, when on fire, stop, drop and roll. I was on fire. I thought for a moment. I could burn, almost quite literally, or I could stop, drop and roll.

I stopped what I was doing, which was not productive, anyways. I dropped my negative and pessimistic thoughts–which allowed me to get creative and feel better, and I rolled with the day. I made a few calls to reschedule work, I caught up with some projects I had on the back burner and I flowed.

Life doesn't always go according to our plan. This can be very disruptive and can upset our psyche and our physical health. When this happens, we can take a moment to breathe and center ourselves in what is at the moment, instead of frustrating ourselves with what we want it to be. And so, today is a good day to stop whatever it is we are doing that is unfruitful and ineffective, to drop our worrisome and discouraging thoughts and just roll with what is presented to us. We may be surprised with what we end up accomplishing. When we stop, drop and roll, we flow, enlivened by creativity and unexpected opportunity.

Image found at Ilustra.org.
© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Meeting the world

There's so much that shocks us, confuses us, annoys us, offends us, angers us, bothers us, warms our heart, inspires us, makes us proud, enlivens us, and makes us smile. On any given day, we go out into the world and encounter so much. We react to it. We are affected by it. We are part of it. We affect it. It reacts to us.

Whatever we meet in the world, we meet in ourselves. Everything that we recognize, that we fear, that we understand, that we get, we do so because it is in us, it is a reflection of something in us, of something we bring wholeheartedly, something we fear in ourselves and have repressed, or of something we don't completely understand. We then behave accordingly. We act in reaction to our perception, and this has an effect on what we receive in return.

As we head out today, let's be aware that we have an effect in and on the world. Let's meet the best of ourselves out there. Let's expect it. Let's receive it. Let's give it. Today is a good day to recognize our one and only nature and know that we meet ourselves everyday in every circumstance, situation and interaction we have with another.

Image found at mandala.world.
© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Roundabout

I woke up extra early today. I had to go renew my driver's license. Because these things tend to be lengthy and complicated, I headed out early in order to be in line before the doors opened at 8 am. I dropped my son off at school at 7 am and, by my calculations, should have arrived by 7:30 at the driver's license office. Yeah, right. I passed my exit and ended up on a toll road that led me far from where I needed to be. I took the next exit and turned back around, paying the toll again. I then took several wrong turns, all leading me in strange directions. I was in a bad mood and dumbfounded. I had no idea why this happened or what the point was. I'm usually very good with directions and have an excellent sense of orientation, but today, it failed me. At 8 am, I finally parked my car at the driver's license office.

The whole transaction at the driver's license office took less than five minutes. No lines, no hassles. All is well. Of course, I say all is well after I ranted and cursed. I had to take it a couple of notches down, connect to my breath, and remember the old cliché, everything happens for a reason. Even if I don't know or understand them. After all the roundabouts taken, I ended up where I needed to be.

I am back at my desk. I have taken care of several things already and am flowing. I should have known it was going to be this way for it is my prayer each morning, May I flow. I should have trusted. No matter how many roundabouts I take, I end up where I need to be.

Today is a good day to trust that things are working out in our favor, that we have done our part and that the rest will fall into place. Let's not rush, worry or interfere for those thoughts will delay us, either stopping us in our tracks or detouring us altogether. Let's enjoy the path and believe that we are going in the right direction.

Image found at amagicmomandhermandalas.blogspot.com.
© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The wrap

I had my mind wrapped around an idea. I was set on it. I was bent on it. And it failed. It's alright.

I had my heart wrapped around an idea. I was set on it. I was bent on it. And it failed. It's alright.

I have my mind wrapped around another idea. I have my heart set on it. I'm hopeful for it. I feel good about it. It'll be what it'll be. And it's alright.

Letting go of my need to control the outcome of what my mind and my heart want has allowed me to be alright, to be at peace, to be temperate. I have learned and grown from disappointments and failed attempts. And I have found the gifts in those experiences. I haven't always felt this way. But I do today. And it's alright. I'm alright.

Today is a good day to sit in meditation and wrap our breath around our minds and hearts, around our thoughts and feelings, and let them be. Let's not wish it was different. Let's not struggle. Let's allow the lessons and guidance to come through. Let's wrap our entire being around silence. Let's wrap stillness around our entire being. Let's unfold stronger, better, wiser.

Image found at hermandadblanca.org.
© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 3, 2017

I give up

I don't feel like writing. I don't feel like doing yoga. I don't feel like meditating. I don't feel like working. I don't feel like reading. I don't feel like socializing. I don't feel like doing anything, except for laying in bed with the curtains drawn closed and the world on mute. I'm sulking. I'm angry. My body is slightly trembling in reaction. My heart has been beating out of my chest for hours. I want to forget everything and just lay in bed.

This is an honest feeling. It is what it is. But it is not productive, I know. It's not healthy, either. Sulking in the dark will only help my rumination, fuel my anger, increase my blood pressure, intensify my negative feelings, and regress me in so many ways. This is a childish reaction. I still don't want to do anything, for me or for anybody else, so I will.

In spite of myself, I will finish my coffee and get ready. I will do it with intention and head out the door. It is an intention of surrender, for I don't want to feel this way. I hate it. I don't want to be angry  and resentful. But I don't feel strong enough to change these feelings, so I surrender them. I know that I have to show up even if I don't want to. So I let it go. I call on what I've learned. This is how we grow. Once we have an awareness, once we know better, we're called to act differently.

Today is a good day to act better in spite of ourselves. When we perceive someone has done us wrong, let us forgive in the moment. When something doesn't work out as planned, let's take a breath and regroup. This allows guidance in. When we become scattered, let's take a few moments to focus on our breath and gather ourselves, recenter. When we lose track and become distracted, let's take a moment to refocus on what matters to us, on what's important. When everything becomes too much, let's surrender. Let's bend our will and give up so that we may be lifted up.

LIGHT mandala by Elspeth McLean found on pinterest.com.

© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Whisper

The drilling starts early in the morning. The remodeling is a few floors up, but, in this concrete building, the drilling and the hammering reverberate through the walls in an awful staccato. I can't concentrate. I can't talk on the phone. My thinking is disjointed. I feel disconnected. The sound is louder than any sound around me. It has been so every morning for the past few weeks. Yesterday he suggested that we play music. How could I hear the music with all this noise around me? It made no sense to me, but I did.  And it did make a difference. My ear tipped to the native flutes coming out of Spotify on the bluetooth speaker. It not only eased my mood, it helped me concentrate. It is such a metaphor for life.

What do we pay attention to? Is it the loudest sounds around us? What and who is screaming? What demands our attention so immediately and so loudly? Other peoples' problems, worries about the future, gossip, disinformation, rumors, mass confusion, negativity, pessimism, unsound controversy. Whatever we pay attention to grows before us. We move to the rhythm of what we listen to. We react in the same tone and vibration. The loudest sounds can be disorganized, seemingly urgent and in constant competition for our attention. This noise creates a commotion that distracts us, creates dissonance, disrupts harmony, and consumes our energy.

We can cultivate a richer, more peaceful and tranquil life. A few minutes each day focused on our breath will help us create that space within us where we can go to when the world gets too noisy. A few minutes each day in meditation will help us be more centered, balanced and able to listen to ourselves even in the midsts of chaos. The silence delivers clarity, direction, and strength to respond to life rather than react to the ruckus around us.

Today is a good day to listen to the whispers of our heart. Let's know that there will be noise, but that we can tip our ear to the silence within ourselves. Let's listen to our purpose, our plans, our dreams. This is the sound of our highest and best good, which leads us to where we can serve, grow, and resonate with our dreams. Let's listen to a higher vibration, the whispers of our soul.

Image found at creativityforthesoul.com
© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pain and sorrow

Somedays are so tough. Right from the start, we wake up in pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, psychic pain, collective pain, or heartache. And then we go. We go to work, to school, or to run errands carrying our pain with us. Many of us have no choice but to go with our pain.

Yesterday I went to a memorial event to remember the life of a young graduate student who passed away recently. Her parents were there, along with her professors, friends and fellow students. It was so painful to hear the tearful words from those who spoke, especially those words to and from her parents. All the while, pictures of her, full of life and joy, projected from above on to a screen, framing every word. Our hearts crushed when we heard the news of her passing. Our hearts were wrenching as we celebrated her life after her death. It was very difficult to witness her parents' sorrow. There was so much pain in the room. And then we went. Back to work, back to school, back to errands, carrying our pain with us. We had no choice.

Today is a good day to hold on to something that makes us smile, that brings us the smallest kindling of hope, to transcend our pain in small ways by using it to nurture empathy and understanding, to appreciate others, to be thankful for our blessings, grateful for the people and the gifts in our lives. May the pain serve us to overcome the little things, to rise above, to grow, to gain new perspectives, to love more, to love deeper.

Image found on pinterest.com.
© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Light steps

Twice, recently, the topic of stepping lightly has come up. The conversations were about stepping lightly into existing groups we are new to or when meeting new people. I gave it some thought.

It makes a difference how we enter into both situations–entering into existing groups or meeting new people. Do we enter big and bold to make an impression and make ourselves known? Or do we enter quietly and observant to know and understand who we are meeting and what they are about? It depends on our intention. There are instances in which coming in like a firecracker is best, like when revving up an audience at a sports game or cheering up a group of corporate employees at a company retreat. But there are many times we come into an existing culture or group or meet people individually in which knowing and understanding the other is best. How we come in affects what we interpret and the ensuing relationship.

When we come in forcefully, we bring with us an energy that can be perceived as aggressive, intrusive, and egotistical. It can put up a wall between us and them. Stepping lightly, however, allows us to perceive the other with clarity, to start to know what the other is going through. It also let's us break forces of habit in thought and action, in how we react automatically. It can break down prejudice and intolerance. Stepping lightly also allows us to become aware of patterns in our relationships by letting us think and feel before we react or make decisions. It is that pause that creates space for empathy and compassion.

Today is a good day to take light steps wherever we go. Let's feel the ground we are walking on and the energy in the room we step into. We will then know how to relate to others in that space or to that situation. Let's create a different experience. It's not about me and it's not about them, it's about the us we make up together and how much better it can be if we just step lightly.

Image found at beforeitsnews.com. 
© Millicent Maldonado and www.soulcerer.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.