Friday, February 16, 2018

Badfish

Sublime's Badfish song was released when I was 18 years old. Since then, I've had it stuck in my head along with most of the other songs on their 40oz. to Freedom album. This is a fun album. I never thought anything else about it, except what fun! That is, of course, until I started singing out loud in front of my son. Suddenly, I had questions. I had concerns. I had objections, many objections. I no longer thought it was just fun. It took me seeing the album, the songs, the lyrics, and the messages through the eyes of a mother to see the whole thing differently. That is what it took to understand. This is what it takes to understand something more profoundly, to not accept without questioning, to evolve our thinking–it takes a different perspective.

I think about what we take at face value, our attitudes, our rigid opinions, our prejudices, our hatred, and what we encourage. Songs advocating drunk driving, sexism, and invitations to violence parallel attitudes of racial discrimination, religious intolerance, and domestic violence learned and never questioned. Our unquestioned beliefs seep into every area of our lives. They affect the friends we make, who we hire, who we vote into office, who we help, what we accomplish, what we promote, how we raise our children, what we tolerate, how we treat the planet, how we relate to others, how we worship, how we speak to others, what we dignify, who we victimize through legal (even if unethical) policies and jurisprudence, what we believe ourselves capable of doing.

It takes willingness, openness of hear and emotional growth to challenge our conditioning. Unchallenged beliefs can create blocks for us, conflict and inappropriate actions and reactions. Challenging them can open us up to opportunities, blessings, miracles, better relationships, healthier habits, kinder and more compassionate behavior and powerful change–for us and for others.

Today is a good day to start challenging long held beliefs that may be causing us conflict, hurting others, and damaging our emotional and ecological states. We may start by asking ourselves if those beliefs are absolutely true. Can we see them from another point of view? We can also think of what we are afraid of and question those fears as well for they are the basis of many of our attitudes and reactions. How could our lives be better if we relax the judgments and assumptions we have formed based on our past conditioning? Let's bring mindfulness to what we chant blindly. Let's bring the light of consciousness to what we believe for what we believe affects how we feel and behave and what we accept, allow, support, and encourage.

Image belongs to robidesigns.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 9, 2018

Misappearing

He lost something. Well, it wasn't really lost. It was there, just not in his awareness. He was just a little boy when he came up to me and his grandma to say that it had misappeared, that's all.

I think misappeared is a very appropriate word. No other word described the circumstance. What he was looking for wasn't really gone, as disappeared things are. It was "wrongly appeared" as opposed to "none appeared". There is an important difference. Being here, not being here, or being here wrongly or mistakenly. Been there? I sure have.

The breadth of being here and not being here can be wide. It ranges from complete presence to complete disappearance and includes that twilight area of misappearance. It's that space of appearing in the wrong time, the wrong place or to the wrong people or things. Why does this happen? I believe we misappear because of inattention, lack of faith, lack of clarity, fear, apathy, being unaware of or not understanding ourselves, disregard, distraction, sadness, multitasking, superficial or undefined intentions, and unchecked emotions, among other factors.

True joy and purpose comes through appearing fully to life, choosing to be here with presence and deliberate intention. It begins by checking in with ourselves. Today is a good day to begin this path of self-awareness, self-understanding and self-knowing. Let's not go on autopilot. Let's take breaths between one thing and another, becoming aware of where we are, what we are doing, what we are thinking, and what we are feeling. Let's start asking questions of ourselves for reflection, intending with purpose, recognizing what's good, planning positive changes towards what's not working, giving of ourselves with love, and finding meaning in everything we do.

Indigo Initiation Mandala by Gina Fong Seidler.
© 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 2, 2018

Sweat (off) the small stuff

Recently my son had a rough day at school, something involving teenage drama, I'm sure. He called after school and sounded frustrated and very tired. I immediately offered to pick him up and bring him home. No!, he said. Today I need the walk more than ever.

My son walks almost four miles each day from school with a heavy bag on his back. When he gets to our building, he races up five flights of stairs, rather than take the elevator. In the past few months his body has become stronger and he rests better at night. Yet, what I've seen grow in him from these walks is his sense of independence and his ability to clear his mind and let go of what doesn't matter. He sweats off the small stuff. By the time he gets home, all is well.

Physical exercise improves our health on so many levels. Physically, it improves our cardiovascular and digestive health, boosts our immune system (helping us fight diseases, especially during the flu season), increases our stamina, strengthens our heart and muscles, and betters our sleep and rest cycles, among many other benefits. Emotionally, it increases our body confidence, which permeates all areas of our life, improves our mental health, our mood and emotional regulation, our ability to solve problems, and our focus and concentration. It also helps relieve tension, stress, anger, anxiety, sadness, frustration, bottled up emotions, and some symptoms of depression. Metaphysically and spiritually, physical exercise can become an exercise in mindfulness and a form of meditation. Done consciously, it slows our mind and helps bring our awareness to the here and now. It also opens up our appreciation for our physical body, the house of our soul, and creates an awareness between body, mind, soul, and spirit. Exercise can then become a conduit to a relationship with Spirit.

Today is a good day to take a yoga class, go to the gym, go for a run, take a nice solitary mindful walk, jump rope, swim, dance, or any other form of physical exercise. Let's use our body-mind connection to relieve pent-up tension and clear our mind, put things in right perspective, and expand time. Let's connect consciously to clear our brain fog, to disengage from distractions, to release the petty stuff, the little annoyances and what doesn't serve us, and to be present to life and to others. Let's detox our bodies and our minds. Let's sweat off the small stuff that it may not bother us anymore.

Image found at watkinspublishing.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, January 26, 2018

BYOE

Have a wonderful day, I said after a brief conversation at the checkout line. We'll see what happens when I get there, she replied and left. She was on her way to work and had not yet decided if she was feeling good or not. It all depended on her coworkers, she had said. Really? Really.

We are influenced by our environment–the weather conditions, the traffic, political atmosphere, economic climate, people's attitudes, moods and actions, distractions, and disturbances. But we forget that we are part of that environment. We forget that we have the same power that we give to others to influence us and that we can exert that power ourselves to influence our environment and own emotional state. Why must we wait to see what happens when we get there to know what we're feeling?

Today is a good day to BYOE–Bring Your Own Emotions. Let's not wait for something or someone outside of ourselves to decide what we will feel. Let's bring our own contentment, joy, and enthusiasm to wherever we go and whatever we do today. Let's use positive emotions to set the tone for our day, using hope and optimism to our advantage. Not only will we feel better, we will have a positive effect in our circumstances and surroundings. What will you bring today?

Image found at 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, January 19, 2018

Little by little

Little by little the clock ticks, the day advances, and our moods swing. Little by little we choose, we act, and we make things happen – good or bad. Little by little we shape our personality, our character and the way we live our lives. Little by little we grow or we remain the same.

Today is a good day to choose what little things we focus on, for even our big goals are made up of smaller thoughts, choices and deeds, and it is in the accumulation of these choices that we can achieve what we set out to do. It is in the accumulation of little things that big things happen. We can pay attention to and focus on acts of kindness, generosity, politeness, good service, courtesy, gratitude and any other little gesture that makes us smile and lifts us up. These little things raise our vibration, energize us, and prime us for more of the same. As life inches forward, little by little we can choose what little things will make the big things, will make our life sweet, enjoyable, and fulfilling. What little things are going to make your day today?

Image found at wethetemple.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, January 12, 2018

Reconnaissance

This is the time of the year in which resolutions flutter and start to wane. We begin with strong intentions, but soon our eagerness fades. We come across obstacles, interference, doubt, lack of support, insufficient motivation, not enough energy, confusion, false starts, a clash between expectation and our reality, procrastination, and unforeseen circumstances. Enough to make us give up. We'll try again next year.

Maybe we don't have to. Maybe we add a new intention right now: self-awareness.

I have been on a reconnaissance mission. For the past few weeks I have been observing and exploring. I realized that we investigate things that are important to us. If we want to travel, for example, we take the time to know about our destination, transportation, costs, and what we'll need. Yet we don't do the same thing with our intentions, our dreams, and our goal-setting. Sometimes we don't even know why we want what we want or why we set certain goals. We're not aware of ourselves.

When it comes to our intentions, our resolutions, we need to take the time to explore. There are questions we can ask ourselves that will clear things up for us and help us achieve what we want, what we really want. We have to begin by knowing what is. What are our current circumstances? How do I feel? How do I want to feel? We also have to know what our tendencies are. Do I run at the first sight of danger? Do I quit as soon as I don't know what to do? How do I react when faced with fear? Do I lose wind (focus, motivation, stamina) on long distances? Do I take responsibility or do I blame others when things don't go as planned? How do I deal with frustration? Do I get bored easily? Other questions can help in our exploration: Am I able to recognize what is going well? What makes me joyful? What makes me feel purposeful? What are my weaknesses? What makes me strong? What are my attitudes toward life? How have my beliefs helped or hindered me in the past? What are my habits? What inspires me? Am I patient?

As you can see, these questions direct our attention within. Our focus is not external, it is on ourselves. Today is a good day to begin a new intention. Let's do reconnaissance on ourselves with absolutely no judgment. The idea is to know what is, to be aware of ourselves, to know ourselves. When we do, setting goals, dreams, resolutions, and intentions will make sense and the process will flow. When we are self-aware, external factors don't surprise us as much, don't influence us as much. Learning about ourselves leads to realization, trust, and knowing. It is the knowing that serves us.

What other questions will you ask yourself today? How will the answers change your resolutions or make them possible? What will you learn of yourself?

Image from wookmark.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, November 17, 2017

Undone

I was in the middle of writing when I was interrupted. I tried to focus again, to concentrate, but I just couldn't. I lost the flow. The more I tried to get it back, the worse it became. I wasn't able to finish what I was working on. The interruption really got to me. I became angry.

Anger keeps the flow away and our minds on what triggered the anger. It distracts us and channels though our body making it unhealthy. So how do we break this cycle so that anger doesn't ruin our flow, our ability to deal? There are different practices we can make use of. One in particular works almost immediately. It's a 16-second breathing exercise we can use anytime and anywhere to break habitual angry reactions. 

In this practice, we breathe for four counts, hold the breath in for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold the breath out for four counts. Repeat, as necessary. While practicing, focus on the breath. Watching the breath keeps the mind from focusing on what prompted the anger. The body will calm down and inform the mind that there is no alarm, no need to react. 

Today is a good day to put this practice to use when a situation that makes us angry or upset arises. Observe how you feel before and after the practice. Breathe and let the unsettling feelings be undone.

Image found at breathingmandala.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, November 10, 2017

The big F word

I've been so angry lately. It seems the angrier I get, the more anger I attract to myself. Angry people, angry situations, and reasons to become angry keep showing up in my experience. I'm overwhelmed with anger and it feels awful. I feel frustrated, powerless, impotent, and mad. I don't want to feel this way anymore. I want to feel better so I have to do something different. I have to go to the F word: forgiveness.

This is difficult for it is easier to hold on to the grievance and to complain. In our minds, forgiveness is difficult because it means letting go of something that made us right and made someone else wrong. But not forgiving weighs us down. Unforgiving thoughts are obsessive thoughts. Our minds keep ruminating on what fuels our anger. We are not able to focus, we replay our gripe, we become distracted, and we make mistakes. Physically, we suffer heartburn, headaches, stomach problems, sleeping problems and compromise our immune systems. Our hands shake, our hearts race, and we become jittery. Our moods become depressed, which can reflect as a bad mood, irritation, and hostility. We blame, judge, and get self-righteous reacting to life with resentment and coloring our experience with aggravation and bitterness.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, frees us. It allows us to start anew. It let's us move from feeling done-unto to doing, taking action, moving on, and moving forward. Forgiveness moves us from what hurt us to solutions, productiveness, creativity and a better experience. It moves us from weakness to strength of character. We become empowered over an external situation. We anchor ourselves to how we want to feel. If anything, we forgive to feel better, to lift ourselves up, to be able to put the right intention into what we do, to feel light-hearted, to learn, to be open to something more desirable, to enjoy the good, to breathe, to be done with it.

Today is a good day to forgive whatever we feel is a grievance, whoever we feel wronged us. Forgiveness is not easy sometimes, and it certainly does not mean that we condone what has happened. Forgiveness is a process. It is a change in our mindset. It's a shift from ego to inner peace. It steps us away from reactivity. Let's give forgiveness a chance. Let's let go of what doesn't serve us so that we may enjoy life more sweetly.

Image found at the-open-mind.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, November 3, 2017

Power

Forty-four days after Hurricane María swept through Puerto Rico, the power came back on in our apartment. We haven't seen it. For the last few weeks we have been staying at my parents' house. At some point today we will swing by our home and make sure it is still on. Electricity is being reconnected to very few places on the island, but the system is so fragile that power comes and goes. It will be like this for a while. Meanwhile, life here is still in shambles. We have felt and feel powerless.

Power can be a confusing word. We use it in reference to electricity, to a machine's capability and to force. We talk about too much power or too little. And we confuse it with force, especially in reference to personal power.

We tend to think that personal power does something to us, that we become something different–good or bad. Some people obtain a position of leadership or influence and change. Just as some people lose such a position and they change as well. Yet, it is not that we change with power. Our personalities rise up to meet us where we are. We exercise power at our level of consciousness–or unconsciousness. Once we are in a place or position to exert influence, authority, direction, control, or guidance, we demonstrate how powerful we truly are. We help or hinder, we lift or cripple, we inspire or discourage, we share or self-serve, we can be generous or miserly, we generate aid or we ignore the needs of the people, we promote progress with words, actions and policy, or we politicize, we lead kindly or we begrudge.

The truth is, we don't have to be in a position of leadership to exercise power. Power is a subtle force that moves us spiritually, mentally, and physically to exert a version of ourselves that shines through. It does in the service of the highest and best good. It regenerates itself with each thought and action that serves our highest purpose. Yet, days like today, power may be difficult for us to summon. So days like today are good days to connect with silence and allow good thoughts to rise. Let that be our moving force today. Let's tap into who we really are and power ourselves up that we may help others power themselves up. May we light the way.

Image found at wikiwand.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, October 27, 2017

Dark night

Everything is dark. There are no lights on the streets, no lights in windows, no lights in the sky. The horizon is terribly dark. My eyes can only see night. We are in a very long and very dark night. Collectively. Individually. The world as we have known it is no more.

It is dark in the middle of the day, too, as I look out the window, as I stand in an hour's long line to enter the supermarket and find its shelves empty, and as I walk in the heat on broken roads, empty handed. It is darker still when the president speaks and minimizes our situation, when he drives to a middle class suburban neighborhood for his photo-op 17 days after the hurricane hit and leaves without acknowledgment or recognition of the humanitarian crisis that has already taken hundreds of lives. Hundreds more are dying. Few deaths are reported. That is the real disaster. The inhumanity, the corruption, the greed, the incompetence, and the manipulation of the government who has demonstrated how little people matter and how much big contracts and opportunities do. Political and economic gain has been the priority. It is a dark collective night for this island.

I started writing this 17 days after Hurricane María landed on the whole of Puerto Rico. Today, 38 days later, little to no progress has been made. Commerce has halted. Few schools have opened. Only a very small percentage of businesses and homes have power. Businesses are shutting down, permanently. Where there is running water, it is contaminated. Cancer patients, dialysis patients and others chronically ill are dying. Hospitals are running on generators, some of which have shut down in the middle of surgeries. Disease is spreading. Supplies are scarce, as is food and drinking water. Garbage, waste, rubble, wreckage, and debris are piled on the streets. Mosquitos, flies, and vermon are rampant. Trees lay dead across roads. So do lamp posts and other structures. The press is inaccurate, erroneous, tricky, and deceptive. Politicians have taken to the game. Money raised by some organizations is being held, as are supplies, for political reasons. Crime is on the rise. People are desperate. Telephone communication is unreliable. International help is not allowed in. Obstacles are placed before people who have arrived here to help. Bureaucracy reigns. The airport has become a refugee center. People waiting to leave, but can't. Hopelessness befalls us. Mental health is at an all-time high critical point. We are breaking.

We have survived nature's hurricane, only to succumb to man's aftermath. We are moving from shock, to anger, to full-on despair. It is a stark, dark night. My hope lies in that darkness is not absolute. Even the slimmest sliver of light negates its absoluteness. My hope is that even in this profound sadness we are lifted. Today is a good day to find that little bit of light that can start to contrast our night. May we find it and share it with each other. May Puerto Rico be illumined, electrically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Image found at wired.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.