Friday, May 18, 2018

The good place

Sometimes our hearts seem to have two opposing compartments. One holds love. The other holds fear. These are the two basic emotions in which all other emotions fall into. Hope, joy, happiness, empathy, openness, positivity, affection, compassion, appreciation, forgiveness, and peace are all love, while anger, discouragement, doubt, indifference, sadness, judgment, unpleasantness, resentment, suspiciousness, and aggression are all fear. In any moment we feel emotions from either place or from both at the same time. It's normal to feel love, feel fear, or feel both at the same time. However, we can only act out of love or fear, but not both, at one time.

Our habitual responses to the big and small events in life emerge from our past experiences, our conditioning, our thought processes, our beliefs, and our states of mind. Sometimes we don't realize we have acted out of fear until it's too late. Our customary reactions may be creating friction in our interactions, jeopardizing our goals, hurting our relationships, or resulting in self-sabotage. We may be realizing that we are acting from the fearful place in our hearts. How do we change this? How do we change our reflex reactions?

Changing our habitual responses takes time and practice. We begin by being aware, be recognizing how we respond and react to people and circumstances, and what our beliefs, our triggers, and our thought tendencies are. Then we become willing to choose another response. We do this without judging ourselves. At first, choosing a different response can be difficult, but, with practice, we can create new responses that become automatic. While we practice, we read, listen or watch literature, information, programs, music, and conversation that boost positive emotions and fill the good place in our hearts.

Today is a good day to observe how we react to others and what is happening around us. Let's be mindful of what we are filling our minds and our hearts with. Unnecessary bad news, gossip, drama, negativity and pessimism drain us. Let's put our attention on that that will help us respond with wisdom, equanimity, kindness, presence of mind, levelheadedness, understanding, patience, tranquility, tolerance, open-mindedness, and good will. Let's put our attention on the highest and best good in every situation, on what will help us respond from the good place in our hearts.

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, May 11, 2018

Bells are ringing

There is a church somewhere near here. I don't know it. I don't know in which direction it is. But I know that at six in the morning, everyday, it makes this dining room my church. I write in silence, hearing the occasional car pass by, yet the silence at this hour always wins. It enfolds me in this space until the bells ring again, right when I'm about to finish the second page of this morning ritual, affirming my personal religion.

I like to begin my day like this. It primes me for the rest of the day. To find sacredness in ordinary life, in the normalcy of days. The church bells ground me. They reminds me of Mother Theresa who saw God's face everywhere. They remind me to call on grace, to purposefully find something good right here, right now. This makes me thankful, and appreciative of beauty and pleasant things. This makes me see beauty and pleasant things.

Finding the sacred in our ordinary days starts with purposefully looking for it, rephrasing our internal dialogue, seeing from a different perspective, reminding ourselves that we are looking for the sacred, and then it becomes part of our reality and our spirituality. We create our very own flow in which we do and experience everything.

Today is a good day to find the sacred in our family rituals–hellos, goodbyes, dinner, chores. It's a good day to honor the icons in our path–the old man who sweeps the sidewalk, the teacher, the friendly dog, the street vendor, the maintenance man, the strangers we come across, and the familiar people we sometimes take for granted. It's a good day to to behold community, to be in awe of art, creation and nature. It's a good day to be grateful for those things that make us thankful–bells in the distance, a blooming tree, a delicious plate of food, awesome music, a sweet smile, a kindness, another day. Our days are filled with magic and madness. Between the two, there is the mundane and the sacred. This is very personal. What is sacred to each of us is very personal and intending to find it, to recognize it, and to honor it gives sense and meaning to our days, making our life so much sweeter. All we have to do is have that intention. We then see grace unfold in creative moments, moments of joy, moments of flow, of unexpected excitement, subtleties. Today is a good day to choose one ordinary thing–church bells, the sunrise, the elevator ding, a billboard, our drive to work, anything ordinary–as a reminder to find the sacred, to do things with grace, to transcend our unconsciousness, to exalt love and not our grievances, to find glory in what we already have and who we already love.

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© 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, May 4, 2018

Game plan

Once we decide to do something we tend to make a game plan. It's a great idea to map out our strategies for getting a job done, completing a goal, fulfilling a dream, or doing something we just have to get done. We detail our plan, we come up with our own set of instructions, set-up timelines and imagine the end result. We psyche ourselves up for the steps and the tasks along the way. We plan  the tasks and the order and take corrective action if the plan deviates or if the interim results do not meet our objectives. What we don't tend to plan for is our game style.

How we do things is as important as what we do. That's our game style. The way we do anything is the way we do everything and it can inspire, encourage, uplift, and promote goodwill, collaboration and cooperation. It can also heal or hurt, mend or damage, create or destroy, harmonize or create conflict, accept or oppose, conceive compassion and kindness or cruelty and apathy. The end does not always justify the means. The means are meaningful, forming and influencing attitudes. We learn and we teach in the process. Our personal growth develops in it, not in the result. Our transformation, and our impact, happens in the learning, the trying, our chipping away, meeting ourselves in our commitment, creating, making, producing, allowing, and discovering along the way new approaches to life.

Today is a good day to add our game style to our game plan, to consciously think about how we will behave, treat others, and respond as we work it. Our game style may include our attitude when things go right and when they don't, our choice of words, mannerisms, gestures, body language, tone of voice, go-to thoughts and overall disposition. Also, our willingness to be open, to be gentle, to flow, to trust, and to be pleasant. My game plan for tonight includes spending time with my husband and my son, family time then couple time. My game style includes patience to listen, eye contact, willingness to connect, to laugh and to share, gratitude, tenderness, and complete presence. Whatever we have planned for today, or for the rest of our lives, let's take into consideration the energy in which we will do it. For everything from cooking our next meal, to the disagreement with our neighbor, visiting with our grandmother, planning a career, divorcing, marrying, running errands, spending money, going to grad school, training for a marathon, looking for a job, finishing a work project, for every goal, for every dream, for everything we do, let's plan the way in which we do it. Let's bring grace, gratitude, enthusiasm, attention, and mindfulness into everything we do and we'll see our game play out in gratifying, pleasing and refreshing ways. The outcome will be what the outcome will be. What matters is how we feel in the process.

Image found at marjorymejia.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 27, 2018

The opening

In difficult circumstances or relationships, in the battle between egos, in the conflict between moralistic stances, arguments about how things should be done, grievances we hold, disagreements, fighting, pettiness, and our wanting for things to be the way we want them to be or for others to act the way we want them to act, harmony, sympathy, conciliation and understanding are difficult. Yet, for many of us, there is a part of us that wants peace, a cease-fire, and relief. Patience can get us there. Yet, patience, in the midsts of a clash of personalities, is hard to have. It requires will, our disposition, and our desire for the highest and best good, all of which is contrary to the strife, contention, animosity, harshness of thoughts, and disharmony we may be experiencing. To get there, to turn in the other direction, all we need is an opening.

Patience needs just a little opening, a pause for us to see, to understand. The opening is our willingness to see not what we want to see, but what is. The opening is listening, observing, noticing. Opening up in this way gains us a new perspective. We may not like what we see or what we hear, but we are wiser for it, we understand, we know better, we get it. Perspective could help us see that the other person has a different level of awareness, a point of view we had not considered, a feeling or thought process we don't understand (in the other or in ourselves), a belief system different to our own, an alternate attitude towards the situation, a kinder approach, a realization that we are not necessarily right, a new way of being. Once we gain perspective, we understand and can relate better to  others, our circumstances, and ourselves.

Today is a good day to have a little patience, to allow others a different way of doing things, to not judge mistakes, to give space to other points of view, to not form a habitual opinion about everyone and everything. Let's take a pause, a full and deep breath inviting patience in, without condescension–for the spirit of how we do things is important. Let's have the intention of understanding, of respecting, of allowing, of growing. A little patience can make everything better. Even when we're angry, especially when we're angry, we can open up just a bit, just a crack, to consider what we may not know or understand. Let's ask for the light of patience and open up to understanding, resolution and healing.

Image found at etsy.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 6, 2018

The bow

Take a deep breath. Bring to your mind the day before you. Bring your hands to your heart in prayer position and take a slight bow. Welcome this day and everything in it. Exhale, relaxing your arms.

Close your eyes. Breathe in, slowly and deeply. As you exhale, bring to mind the image of a bright, blue sky. 

Bring a soft mile to your face. Inhale, slowly and deeply. Exhale slowly, bringing to your mind the image of a radiant sun on the bright, blue sky.

Relax your shoulders. Relax your jaw. Relax your eyes.

Breathe in, keeping your inner eye on the image of the sun. Exhale. Imagine the sunlight warming your face.

Feel the warmth over your body. Feel the tranquility.

Inhale, breathing in the energy of the sun. Exhale, slowly releasing any tension in your body.

Keep your inner eye on the light of the sun, on the expansiveness of the bright, blue sky. Feel the serenity.

Inhale, slowly, deeply, deliberately. Exhale.

Stay for a few minutes, breathing in and breathing out mindfully. Keep your inner eye on the bright light and the wide and open sky. Feel the vastness, the spaciousness, the unboundedness.

Take one last slow and deep breath in. Exhale slowly. Bring your hands to your heart and bow.

Namaste.

Image found on focus.de.
© 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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Why. It matters.

Our why matters. Our why, the reason why we do anything, is important. The reason we do anything changes the outcome, infusing it with our intention. Mother Theresa explained it best when she commented about not attending anti-war rallies. She wasn't anti-war. Instead, she was pro-peace. In our daily lives we make many decisions based either on what we want or what we don't, what we are against or what we support, who we hate or who we love, what keeps the status quo or what we know to be right, to be right or to have peace. Sometimes our decisions are not as bipolar as these. They may fall closer together in a range of possibilities, yet, they are still infused with the spirit of our intention.

In our daily lives this may be seen in how we do our work, take care of personal finances, drive our children to school, exercise, volunteer, speak to our parents, vote, choose a career, travel, evolve, run for office, practice our faith, eat, marry, divorce, have children, quit our jobs, and advocate for causes. The reason we do any of these either makes a positive bearing or perpetuates our situation. Before deciding to do anything, we can ask ourselves where our mind is, where our heart, and what our intention is. The answer to these questions can bring us clarity as to the state of our current relationships and circumstances and help us intend something different, something that will allow a bit more grace, a bit more peace, a bit more love in our lives.

Today is a good day to consider the intentions behind our choices, our words, our actions. We can ask: Am I afraid to make a different decision from everyone else? Am I mad? Am I doing this out of anger? Am I doing this because I want to? Do I just want to show them off? Am I doing this just to check something off a list? Am I being stubborn? Am I trying to please my parents? Am I doing this out of fear (of being alone,  judged, punished, rejected, not being able to say no)? Am I doing this out of spite? Is this rebellion or resistance? Am I doing this because I don't know what else to do? Is this what brings me joy? Am I showing support or an attack? Is this out of love? Questions like this can guide us in clarifying our why and they can make us more aware and conscious of our selves in our lives. We won't so much find that things happen to us, but come to the realization that we have an effect in what happens in our lives. When we do something in favor or against something, we match that energy and that energy will ultimately underlie what we receive and experience. Bringing mindfulness to our everyday intentions can help us change how we speak and how we behave and so flow into relationships and situations, and it can also shift how we feel, giving us a sense of appreciation, understanding, equanimity and power over our own lives. 

Image found at pxhere.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.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Eyes wide open

Ideally, I meditate in silence, without interruptions, comfortably, and in private. I have my rituals. Yet there are times when I'm away from my meditation space, or routines change for the day and the boys are home when they're usually not, or I have somewhere to be during my meditation time and I can't meditate ideally. Not meditating can take its toll on me, especially when I'm having one of those days in which I just want to scream at everyone and everything.

Screaming at everyone and everything is not an option. At those times, closing my eyes and sitting in lotus is not an option either. So what can I do? How do we realign in the midsts of busyness? At those times, we can meditate with eyes wide open. We practice a living meditation.

Today is a good day to open our eyes to our experience without forming an opinion. Let's take a break from the thoughts that break us. Let's acknowledge the world as it is while anchoring to our breath. As we walk, drive, work, shop, are stuck in traffic, wait in line, eat lunch, or whatever occupies us today, let's actively acknowledge everyone and everything around us, and breathe. Let's breathe gently and slowly in the middle of whatever is going on. Let's feel our experience without a filter and without judgment. As is. Let's feel everything and not be affected by it. Let it be. Let's breathe and consciously bring to mind something that we appreciate. Let that feeling grow and expand into gratitude. Breathe into that good feeling of appreciation and gratitude. Let's breathe with our eyes wide open and find our center. After a few minutes of this living meditation, not only will our eyes be wide open, so, too, will be our hearts. Namaste.

Image found at giacngo.vm.
© 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 16, 2018

Seen and heard

Has someone ever made you feel like you matter? There are these experiences we have with others in which we feel like something significant, meaningful. We feel seen and heard. We feel acknowledged as a person, validated, accepted, and affirmed. This feeling does so much for us. It can revive, restore and uplift us. It helps us imagine, build, create, contribute and collaborate. It's motivating. This feeling shifts us into hope, optimism and confidence. This feeling is universal. To be seen and heard is good for everyone. Even the shyest and humblest of us can appreciate being seen and heard for when we are we, our personality and nature is recognized and respected. And for those of us who are not shy, or humble, being seen and heard allows us to be the best version of ourselves. Being seen and heard is a cool drink of water for our parched souls.

Today is a good day to mindfully see and hear others. It will do wonders for our souls as well. Let's walk in without our needs and wants before us. Instead, let's approach everyone and everything with no expectation and authentic curiosity. Let's better our relationships, circumstances and the world through the ripple effect that our attentiveness to others creates. Let's take a pause before everyone and everything we encounter today. This is love in practice. By truly paying attention, we give love to the other. We encourage understanding, acceptance, benevolence, and mutuality, among other wonderful attitudes that promote good humanship. People remember us not for who we are, but for how we make them feel. Let's make them feel good by seeing and hearing them. Let's recognize and honor the light in others that our light may shine through.

Image found at line25.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 9, 2018

Birthday wishes

Tomorrow is my birthday. I have an early start to the day. I have a class at nine that will keep me busy through midday. I'm thinking of baking a cake and bringing it with me. Why would you bake your own cake?, my son asked. Why not?, I replied. I know what he meant. But I want to experience joy and sweetness tomorrow. And what better way to guarantee that than to bring it with me?

I like working on my birthday. It gives me a sense of purpose. What better way to celebrate life than to live with intention and by offering what I like and want for myself – cheer, celebration, joie de vivre? I will start my day at five in the morning with a meditation and gratitude practice. I want to be mindful and calibrated for the rest of the day. By seven I will be out the door, with my birthday attitude on – grateful, joyful, loveful. I will continue to celebrate in the evening with my husband and friends. What better way to make sure that I keep my spirits up until evening time than by spreading the love throughout the day?

Today is a good day to bring with us that which we want to experience. If we want acknowledgment, respect, dignity, fun, joy, cooperation, understanding, fairness, high energy vibration, affection, good will, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness, or humanity, let's give that, let's bring it with us. Even if we don't receive it in return, we will have experienced the feeling itself. Yet, chances are, that we will change the energy around us, that we will raise our vibration, that we will lift spirits up, that we will bring light, and that we will feel good. Here's to a happy, joyful and light-filled day on my birthday for all!

Image created by Elena Kotliarker. Found on fineartamerica.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 2, 2018

Feeling the body

Today is a good day to meditate, connect with our bodies, and connect with our breath. It's a good day to let go of judgment and discover a little inner peace*.

Find a place where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Do nothing for a moment. Breathe normally while you connect with your body. Let it rest. Breathe.

Breathe gently, scanning your body for places of tension. Where is this tension? What does it feel like? Is it your heart? Your throat? Your shoulders? Your head? Your stomach? Be with whatever physical feelings you encounter. Be curious about the feeling. Describe it to yourself. Don't judge it. Don't fight it. Feel it. Let it be what it is. Let it be.

Deepen and lengthen your breath. Slow and steady, wrap the inhale around the physical sensation you feel the most. Is it an emotional burning in your heart? Stiffness in your neck and shoulders? Knots in your stomach? Trembling in your throat? A pounding in your heart? A throbbing in your head? Breathe into it. Stay here for a few minutes.

Continue breathing slowly and deeply into the feeling in your body. Don't try to figure out why you're feeling the way you are. Be with the feeling. Let it be. Stay with the breath for a few minutes. Continue watching the breath wrap around the feelings in your body.

Don't resist what you find. Don't resist what is. Continue breathing, acknowledging the feelings in your body. By not fighting them, we let them guide us, teach us. Let them unfold. Breathe.

After a few minutes, return to your normal breath. With gratitude for your practice and your body and with a gentle smile, open your eyes. Acknowledging and letting your feelings be, recognizing and accepting them as they are has created space for self-acceptance and non-judgment. This practice helps to release the blocks we create through our resistance to what is and uncovers, as a natural result, peace within ourselves. This meditation nourishes our relationship with our bodies, increases our wisdom and allows a natural release of body tension. Let this awareness carry over into everything you do today.

Namaste.

*If during your practice you uncover overwhelming feelings or emotional flooding, please stop. Consider seeking help from someone you trust, a counselor, an experienced meditation teacher or a therapist. 

Image found at aliexpress.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.