Friday, July 20, 2018

Talk ain't cheap

We spent the 4th of July with friends and family in and around our pool. We had such a wonderful time and wonderful conversations. Among many things, we talked about how we don't talk anymore. No, not us particularly, but in general. We don't get together to exchange ideas, we don't have meaningful conversations with colleagues or acquaintances. We may have been generalizing, but this is our experience. We don't talk anymore.

During our time together that day, we shared great advice, insight, and inspiration on everything from parenting to professional counsel. But it didn't come from seeking or purposeful conversation. It rose from a flow in our conversation, a natural crescendo that can only happen when we're not in a hurry, distracted or have no interest in what the other has to say.

Today is a good day to talk, really talk. Let's talk without an agenda, with a listening ear, without expectations, without looking at our phones. Let's linger in conversation. Let's apply mindfulness to our interactions. Great things can come out of these conversations–socially, emotionally, intellectually, physiologically, and spiritually, including enjoyment, decrease in tension, increase in feel-good hormones, a sense of connection, a boost in feelings of trust, improvement in emotional intelligence, broadened perspective, conscious collaboration, attuned somatic responses, and so much more. Some say talk is cheap. We say it's not. Let's find and offer value in mindful conversations.

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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, July 13, 2018

Ugly panties

There I was, pulling my jeans down so that the ER nurse could give me a steroid shot. I knew better. Before I left I thought about changing into newer, nicer underwear, remembering something that my grandmother used to say about keeping clean underwear with me just in case I was involved in an accident. I dismissed her advice, just as I dismissed changing before heading to the hospital even though I had a hunch that I would need the injection. It's not the first time that I go against what I know and am sorry for it.

Maybe it was the hurry. Nothing like this had happened to me before. I needed relief and I was afraid of not being able to breathe as the sudden allergy worsened. I reacted to the urgency even though I had time, the resources to change, and a friend whose an ER doctor on the line. Feeling sick and uncomfortable, off I went to the hospital.

Showing ugly panties to an ER nurse is not a big deal, but the consequences of going against what we know can be hard. Sometimes it's not the hurry, sometimes it's the fear that makes us go against our intuition. Doing so can undermine our confidence in the wisdom we have acquired, in our growth, and in ourselves. Not trusting our intuition can weaken and sabotage it, ultimately disempowering us.

What if we have faith in what we have learned and our personal evolution? Today is a good day to practice trust in what we know. Let's not be guided by fear–fear of being judged, of making a mistake, or of failing. Trusting our intuition strengthens it and can help us make wiser decisions. Let's trust ourselves, our confidence in our abilities, our knowledge, our capacity to know what to do if we make a mistake, our insights, and our inner sense of I got this, I know.

Image found at abby-wynne.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, July 6, 2018

Sinless

My son is now 17 years old. He's currently venturing out on his first archetypal hero's journey, traveling by himself to spend time with his father and his family. This is a time full of wonder, doubt, curiosity, apprehension, excitement, inquisitiveness, eagerness, uncertainty, hesitation, arousal, and restraint, all in a motley of emotions. It is a time in which he must practice or challenge everything we've taught him and everything he's learned in theory and through his experiences.

He called me a few days ago because he heard something that bothered him. A pastor was preaching about sin, something we have a different understanding of. In short, the pastor said, among other things, that if a person is sexually confused, he must repent for that is a sin. If a person identifies with a sexual identity that is not normal, he must repent for that is a sin. Further, he said that if a person does not like his mother, he must repent for that is a sin. This is one of many instances in which my son on his journey will confront strong beliefs different from his own and will look for clarity and guidance. He asked me what I thought about it and I replied that being confused about one’s sexual identity makes one just confused, not sinful. And that if one is sure about one’s sexual identity and it is considered not normal, then one is just out of the norm. That’s statistics and math, not sin. Not liking one’s mother makes one conflicted, not sinful.

We tend to humanize God with our limited perceptions and understanding instead of endowing ourselves with the qualities of acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, respect, open-mindedness, kindness, and forbearance. Intolerance and calling others out for what we may think is wrong will not rid the world of what ails it or make it conform to our liking. We have enough to focus on within ourselves. Judging others pronounces our fears, insecurities, inadequacies, inabilities, and limited ways of thinking. Accepting does not mean that we necessarily agree with or condone a different belief, it is just a higher quality, a trait of Love.

Today is a good day to be open-minded, understanding, kind, accepting, patient, merciful, compassionate, charitable, appreciative, and forgiving. We don't need to change our system of belief. We just need to be willing to accept that there are other beliefs and allow them to be without our interference. The spirit of accepting and allowing through the qualities of Love creates the energy that will help us heal and grow and bring us to clarity and understanding on our own journeys.

Red Pearl Mandala by Paul Heussenstamm found at mandalas.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, June 29, 2018

I'm listening

I'm listening, we say as we scroll our phone or skim over our email on the computer. But we're not, we're not listening. We hear. We process some information, but we're not listening. When our attention is divided we cannot fully listen. We're also not listening when we're waiting to interrupt trying to make our point, to chime in, or to comment for the sake of our egos. We're not listening.

There's a power in listening. When we listen, fully listen, we perceive more than the words being said. We connect more sincerely, we understand deeper, we empathize, we narrow the gaps. Truly listening brings us closer in acceptance, alleviates division, reconciles differences, and creates equanimity. Listening shows we care and opens us up for caring from others. Listening informs, aligns, relates, and empowers us. In listening, we gain power for we're not consuming our energy in thoughts of defensiveness, blame, justification, and judgment. We also don't spend our energy trying to figure out what we heard, piecing it together from the bits we remember and coming to wrong conclusions. When we listen, we are then listened to.

Listening starts with paying attention. Today is a good day to consciously decide to be aware and be engaged in our conversations. Let's take a deep breath, smile, and have the intention to focus on the interaction. Let's listen to the tone of voice, the vibration, the body language and expression, the attitude, the feeling, the emotion, and the sense. Let's say I'm listening and mean it. Let's bring to bear the power in listening.

Image found at breckcreate.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, June 22, 2018

What I can do

I woke up feeling a bit blah. It's Friday and my list of things not done this week is long. There's a little defeat in my step. I'm at my desk and I look at this list and get discouraged. There's so much I couldn't do. There's so much I can't do. In my current mood, life just seems to be full of things I can't do.

I can't be 5'7", work 24 hours a day, make people do what they need to do in order for me to finish what I have to do, fix the economy, save the children from our government, undo my heartache, grow back my eyebrows, do wheel pose, eat chocolate, delve into every great idea I have and make a project out of it, make every meal healthy, practice yoga every day, make a joke as masterfully as my husband can, stay in touch with my friends as much as I want to, heal the pain in others, stay in a good mood all day, or keep my to-do list sane, among many other things. The list of things that I can't do and can't be is long. And it's frustrating.

So I'm making another list. I can do that. And I can listen, eat mindfully, practice with intention, share what I know, laugh heartily, participate fully in a conversation, forgive, play music while doing the dishes, give second chances, do yoga while watching Goliath, smile, look my son in the eyes when he talks to me, hold my husband's hand, say please and thank you, sit up straight, do one thing at a time to reach my goals, remind myself to enjoy the task, and apologize, among many other things I can do. Also, I can be creative, hopeful, kind, generous, intentional, mindful, and honest.

Today is a good day to shift our focus from what we can't do to what we can. Making a list helps. Start where you are. Can you be thankful? Can you do things with grace? Can you breathe deeply for a few minutes, choose a kinder thought, run a mile or two, respond wisely, take a step toward your dream project, let go, read something uplifting, send good vibes, make that call, reframe situations for the better, declutter your desk, be pleasantly surprised, do one thing at a time, take a walk, say a prayer, plan that vacation, disengage in an argument, congratulate someone on their accomplishment, be courteous, help, share, work with gratitude, or change your own mood for the better by making this list? I bet you can. What else can you do?

Image found at mandalasforthesoul.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, June 15, 2018

Career and business advice

We had so much to talk about, catch up, and celebrate. I had not seen my friend in a long time. In our busy schedules we couldn't coincide after hours or on the weekend so we decided on a working lunch. It works because our friendship has always combined business and our personal lives. There really is no separation. It's one of the great things about our relationship. It's very holistic. Every area of our lives affects all other areas of our lives.

In our conversation we talked about every great thing that's going on for us. And then we talked about our hangups. She asked me for advice in one particular situation she's facing with two close and complicated relationships, a situation that is heavily occupying her mind. My words to her surprised me. Pray that each of them is well, happy, loved and protected. What? That was my advice? It was. I didn't recommend conflict resolution, mediation, confrontation, understanding, or any other practical advice.

But this was practical. When we pray for another's wellbeing and happiness we are releasing our thoughts of control, obsessive thoughts, thoughts that haunt us, consume us and drain us, and thoughts that keep us at a low vibrating energy level. Before we know it, when we pray for the other, our minds are lighter, our hearts are peaceful, and we are released to a high, wide and handsome level of energy. What can be more practical for business than that? This allows us to focus on what matters, produce, create, perform, design, organize, build, compose, dream, imagine, inspire, and do things from a stronger and sharper frame of mind. Regularly praying for the wellbeing and happiness of others, especially those we are in conflict with, is a very practical exercise that can have a tremendous impact on our careers and business.

Today is a good day to pray for those we are struggling with. May they be happy, may they be well, may they be loved, may they be protected. Let's pray and be released from the thoughts that bind us. Let's pray and be released to our excellence, to our purpose, to our greatness, and to our highest and best good.

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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, June 8, 2018

Aftermath

Take a moment to think about the last argument you had with someone, especially someone you love. Think of that cruel thing you said, the mean thing, the hurtful thing. What did you mean by that? No, not the literal meaning of the words you said, for most us have said something awful in the heat of an argument, but the intentions behind your words. What did you mean? Did you mean to heal or to wound the relationship deeper, to bring understanding or to be right, to listen or to make your point, to make peace or to hurt the other person?

Sometimes we act our anger out without concern or consideration for others. We don't realize that when we act in such a way we don't consider ourselves either, even if what we are saying is in the name of voicing our opinion or righting a perceived wrong. In a battle of wills, egos win all the time, but ultimately ego is not a source of joy, beauty, intimacy, rewarding experiences, lasting happiness, or love. Not pausing to consider the intentions behind our actions stems from ego and the effects can leave us hurt, wounded. Ultimately, there is no true satisfaction, but an aftermath of more conflict, separation, blaming, bitter feelings, mistrust, and a breaking down of relationships.

Today is a good day to take a moment before reacting in anger. Let's take a moment to consider our intentions before saying something disrespectful, impolite, harsh, nasty, or wounding. If we are not clear about what our intentions are, then, at least, let's be mindful that we can get caught in the aftermath of our anger. Let's turn our intentions from righteousness gone amiss, pride, arrogance, and smugness, to respect, regard, harmony, conciliation, and love. The aftermath will then not be one of additional damage, but of mending, healing, and growth.

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, June 1, 2018

Feeling everything that is wrong to feel good

It was Saturday morning. It was not 7am yet and I was already feeling the Caribbean summer heat. I didn't want to meditate. I was in a bad mood. I stood under the ceiling fan in a lightweight t-shirt and my flip-flops. I closed my eyes and just stood there, in mountain pose. I took one exasperated deep breath in and sighed out. I stayed there, feeling the air from the fan, the sweat under my shirt, and my swollen feet and the tingling in my hands caused by the heat. I didn't move. I kept breathing with my eyes closed feeling everything that made me uncomfortable. I wanted to stretch my back, raise my hands, roll my neck, but I just stood there, breathing, feeling everything that was wrong–the heat, the aches in my body, the long week behind me, the list of chores to do, the state of the economy, mental exhaustion, needing a break. After a few minutes, in spite of myself, I became focused on my breath. I stayed. After a few more minutes, my shoulders were relaxed, I was breathing comfortably, and my bad mood was gone. I had a feeling of empowerment and a sense of new perspective. I had a feeling that I could manage the rest of the day.

Contemplative practices such as meditation take many forms and can be spontaneous and involuntary. They can also do wonders for our states of mind and body. Today is a good day to practice an impromptu meditation, to take a few minutes to accept what is as it is. Let's let it be without resistance, without wishing it were something else, something different. Let's feel everything that is wrong that we may release it and feel relaxed, strong, capable, centered and good.

Image found at br.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 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.