Friday, December 7, 2018

Alarmed

It was 5:20 in the morning. I was sitting by my window, writing. The soft light of my table lamp cast a warm glow over my hands as I wrote. That's what I was appreciating in the foreground of my attention while, in the background, I was grateful for the peace and tranquility of the moment. In an instant, the harmony was interrupted by a car alarm. The sound rose up from the parking lot up to my window. I took a deep breath and ignored it. It went on for 15 minutes or so until it finally quit.

The alarm was supposed to alert someone to do something about the car. No one did. It, apparently, was not a real emergency. It was a malfunction. And though I was able to ignore it, I still felt the tension. In a similar way, we hear all sorts of alarms during the day. Some are burglary alarms from cars and buildings, some are clock alarms, and some are emergency vehicle alarms. There are other types of alarms we bear. Drama, conflict, histrionics keep us on alert in much of the same way. They create the same type of fear and reactions in our body as a fire or burglary alarm, yet, we're not in real danger. Some of the stories we tell ourselves create alarms too, warning us of dangers that we guard ourselves from. Then there are the rumors, scandals, gossip, malicious talk, speculation, and news that we participate in, creating animosity and fear, warning us of dangers that are not necessarily imminent or real. Add to all of these the many notifications we subscribe to on our social media apps. We stay alarmed, even if we are not reacting to do something about it. This state of alarm keeps us vulnerable, worried, stressed and anxious, harming our relationships and our health.

Today is a good day to mute our alarms. Let's be mindful of what we engage in. When we start entertaining thoughts that do not serve us, that fuel the fire of our fears, let's take a deep and slow breath, then another, then another. When panic sets in, let's acknowledge and name our fear. Recognizing what alarms us many times can help us diffuse state of emergency we create for ourselves. Let's turn our attention away from the alarms to what we can be grateful for, what adds joy to our life, what enriches our experience, what blesses others, and what brings us peace.
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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, November 30, 2018

The stuff

Thanksgiving this year was quiet, peaceful, and lovely. We lounged around the pool at my parents' house, told stories, caught up, listened to music, enjoyed family, and relaxed. We had turkey, rice, ham, potatoes, salad, and cake for dessert. No stuffing, though. Our Caribbean Thanksgiving turkey dinners don't necessarily include stuffing. Dinner, though, was absolutely perfect. The stuff it was full of made it complete, whole.

It is the stuff we are full of that comes through when we speak, when we are stressed, when we engage with others, when we relax, when we get angry, when we are joyful, when we are rushed, when we sleep, and when we wake. This is why dinner was so wonderful. Our family was full of love.

Today is a good day to be conscious of what we are full of. Is it fear, jealousy, insecurity, a sense of superiority, arrogance, distrust, doubt, worry, or anguish? If so, what comes through in what we say, do, think, and feel is impatience, haste, annoyance, suspicion, instability, apathy, hostility, faults, blame, and hatred. Or are we full of empathy, courage, equanimity, confidence, gratitude, tranquility, hope, faith, or love? In which case what comes through is appreciation, acceptance, consideration, kindness, calmness, affection, respect, politeness, and goodwill. Whatever it is that we are full of is the stuff of our thoughts, our feelings, and our words. It infuses our circumstances, our connection to others, our interactions, and our way of life. Let's be mindful of our stuff, of our what we fill ourselves with. Let's ask ourselves, what am I full of today?
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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, November 16, 2018

Slowing down the mind

Take a seat, if you can. Get comfortable. Close your eyes.

Form a mental picture of the word slow in your mind. See the word, feel the word. Slow.

Now form a mental picture of the word down. See it, feel it. Down.

Take a deep and slow breath in. Let it go.

Take another deep and slow breath in. Think slow.

Exhale softly. Think down.

Inhale slowly and deeply, thinking slow. Exhale deliberately, thinking down.

Inhale slow. Exhale down.

Inhale slow. Exhale down.

Inhale slow. Exhale down.

Slow. Down.

Slow. Down.

Slow. Down.

Stay in this rhythm for a few more minutes. Keep your breath slow and purposeful that it may slow down your breathing, slow down your mind, and slow down your heart. Feel your body steady, ready for today. Carry this energy into everything you do today. May this meditation help you slow down to rev up centered, aligned, and harmonious.

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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, November 9, 2018

Moon River

I was writing while listening to instrumental music when Moon River came on and it brought me back to a time when I felt safe and loved and had never known sadness, cruelty, evil or hardship. It brought me to a time when my parents, my younger sister and I would go away for weekends at the beach. My dad would drive at night on our way there and he and my mom would listen to a Johnny Mathis eight-track tape. I was a child. No care in the world. And here I am remembering that time with tears streaming down my face and my chest rising and falling with nostalgia.

What a pain of a feeling. My knee-jerk reaction is to change the music and think of something else. But we really don't overcome feelings by ignoring them. We have to feel and so here I am acknowledging my sadness for a time gone by. Nostalgia is an awful feeling. I'd rather let it go, but here I am, holding it, understanding it, breathing it. What is this feeling telling me? In time, I will know and then I'll release it. Until then, I'm feeling it.

The delicate thing about this is that while we mindfully hold our feelings, we shouldn't act on them. We let them teach us about ourselves, about our perceptions, about our relationship to our circumstances and to others, and about our states of mind, but we don't act based on those feelings. Acknowledging and allowing our feelings without reacting to them can help us grow and can strengthen us, and can help us change or release our feelings.

Today is a good day to mindfully feel what we feel, fully acknowledging whatever it is we are feeling. Fully feel and not form a thought about it. Name, but not label. Realize but not judge. Let it be, let it pass, with reverence for our experience. Let's learn from our sadness, anger, jealousy, boredom, fear, dissatisfaction, nervousness, joy, excitement, and hopefulness. Let us today let our feelings guide us into a wiser and stronger version of ourselves.
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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, November 2, 2018

The basket

When we exited the elevator early in the morning, we found a basket full of candy on the receiving table of the lobby. Candy? I completely forgot about Halloween this year. There were no trick-or-treaters in our apartment building. There were no funny disguises, fairy princesses, Marvel superheroes, or ghouls and goblins ringing our bell looking for candy and a reaction to their costumes. That Halloween basket put a smile on my face, even if I didn't get to enjoy Halloween.

The morning was a bit hectic. It carried things to do, world, local and personal news, and thoughts and feelings from the days before. The energy was charged and heavy. The day's outlook was gloomy, busy, and not pleasant...until I saw the basket.

In our days we can focus on what is wrong with our lives or we can allow something small mean something good. In the basket of our days we can carry all sorts of points of view as part of a mixed bag of life experiences. The basket can be full of grief and grievances, full of lovely memories and hope, or full of both. The thing is that, though we carry all of the basket, we only focus on part of what's in it.

That anonymous Halloween basket meant to me that there are people who are good neighbors, considerate, generous, who enjoy fun, who care about others. It meant that not all is bad. There is sweetness to be shared. Today is a good day to remember that we can sort through our basket and choose what to focus on. Depending on what we choose to focus on, the basket can be a heavy burden or comfort, relief, and a blessing. Let's pick out what can help lighten the basket for ourselves. Let's look in our basket and find what sweets can transform our experience, what mix can make us thankful, what lessons have made us stronger and wiser, what memories make us smile, what realizations help us feel fulfilled.

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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.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

I trust

Overwhelmed. Tired. Afraid. Worried. Tense. Too much. Just too much.

This is how I feel this moment. My chest is tight. My heart is racing. My body is stiff and achy. My brain is overloaded. My mind is blocked. My soul is heavy. And I feel that I can't deal. Not one more thing, please. Not today.

As I write, as I breathe slowly to calm the fire, I hear Silence say Trust. And so I repeat out loud, I trust, trusting that something magical happens. I trust, I whisper. I trust, I whisper again. I trust, and magic starts to happen. My mind shifts to my breath and alchemy begins.

I breathe, I trust. Breathe and trust. Breathe and trust a little bit more. The breath cools down my anxiety and the heat around my neck. Trust is lifting the heaviness away from my shoulders. I breathe and I trust and I watch as the swirl slows down. I keep breathing, slowly and deeply. I trust, I whisper. It's a mantra, it's a prayer, it's a letting go.

I trust my breath. I trust my ability to pause. I trust giving it a minute. I trust not rushing. I trust not worrying. I trust not reacting. I trust allowing my thoughts to slow down, the noise to quiet down, my body to stop fidgeting. I trust what I know.

Today is a good day to trust the wisdom in uncertainty, to trust the release, to trust the surrender, to trust the breath. Trying to control outcomes, people and circumstances only brings us grief and distress. Yet letting go to the breath and trusting something bigger than ourselves can bring us serenity, clarity, guidance, understanding and appreciation. Letting go to the breath and trusting can bring us to grace, transmuting our energy into something hopeful, something good.

Read the above again. As you read, be the I who breathes. Be the I who trusts. Trust.

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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, October 19, 2018

All better

I buy them in bulk–supplements, eye rewetting drops, incense, tea, and essential oils. A friend recently asked me why do I keep taking my supplements and doing everything I do surrounding the stuff I buy in bulk considering I'm healthy. Well, that's exactly why.

Her question, though, is reasonable. Many of us will do something until we feel all better and then stop. We fall back into unhealthy habits or stop doing for ourselves what works, what keeps us in good health, what helps our mood, what helps us cope, what keeps us limber, what keeps our relationships real, what keeps our mental stamina up, what keeps us on track to reach our goals.

Today is a good day to pick up where we left off. Let's keep up with our supplement intake, our meditation practice, our coffee with friends, our daily run, our mindful walks, our journaling, our naps, our yoga practice, our social media detox, our intermittent fasting, our art classes, our community service, our poetry readings, our reading of sacred texts, our prayer, our saying no to extraneous commitments, our gratitude practice, our being careful about what we participate in, our putting money in a savings account, our pausing to be in the moment, and everything else we do to keep ourselves well. Self-care has to be continuos and consistent. Let's do it and be all better.

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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, October 12, 2018

Finders Keepers

She was looking for something suspicious and she found it. It ruined her day. This finding did not change her circumstances, it just made her miserable. She found something to be miserable about and she kept that feeling throughout the day. It made her irritable and bad-tempered. Her focus was now on difficulty, failure and hopelessness. She couldn't do anything productive.

We don't deny that there is betrayal, lying, injustice, inequity, unfairness, cruelty, criminal transgressions, abuse, and evil. Yet, there are also good deeds, integrity, fair play, virtue, dispassion, decency, forgiveness, and goodness. What we look for we find. What we find we keep. What we keep we use to affect our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. What we find shapes our attitude and our outlook on life. What we find helps us or hurts us.

Today is a good day to look for something good and let it infuse everything we say, think and do. We cannot right wrongs with disheartened anger. But we can do a world of good by bringing good out, making it a standard. Let's look for kindness, generosity, collaboration, grace, service, good will, courtesy, hospitality, compassion, understanding, and love. Let's allow these qualities to inspire us and to permeate our choices, our conversations, our behavior, and our deeds. Let the good we find be contagious. What we find, we keep. What will you find today?

Image found at eyesofodysseus.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, October 5, 2018

The story

He's opened a box, deconstructed and flattened it to write on the inside of it. He holds his makeshift sign to tell passersby that he's HIV. The story on the box says Hello, I'm John, (I'm not using his real name to protect his identity) I'm HIV. He goes into details about his circumstances–homelessness, poverty, illness, hunger, addiction. He asks for help. He's John HIV.

John is many things, but he's not HIV. He has it. He's not it. He's been made to believe that he is a disease. He lives true to his belief that he is HIV and an addict rather than believing that he has HIV and an addiction. This belief keeps him hopeless, helpless, dependent, sick, and in the dark.

A few years ago a man told me that I was not a writer. He suggested that I say that I wrote rather than say that I was a writer. My ego was hurt. His intentions were unkind and small-minded, but he was right, even if for the wrong reasons. Yet, at that moment, I didn't understand the wisdom in releasing my self-concept from my external condition. Once I realized that who I am is not what I do or what I have, I found a thought that I could go to to ground myself, recalibrate, put things in perspective and discern. As Abraxhamanu would say, It's a cliché because it's true. We are not our circumstances.

Who we are is easily forgotten when we are reminded and remind ourselves of the choices we've made, what we have accomplished or not, the mistakes we've made, our perceived limitations, our shortfalls, what we own or what we have not attained, what we have been convinced of, our past conditioning, and how we compare to others and their standards. What if today we reminded ourselves of our true nature? Today is a good day to remind ourselves that we are, by design, everything that is good, peace, beings that can flow in the confidence of the gracious expression of the Universe. If we take time to be still and breathe, we find calm, rest, consolation, relief, joy, equanimity and ease. We find a sense of order. We tap into the deeper knowing of our purpose, that of spirits living a human condition. What we do or don't, what we have or don't, helps others create a story about us, but it is not our truth. Today, we remind ourselves of that.

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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, September 28, 2018

Love songs

We're close. So when their song randomly came on the radio, I started to cry. Her divorce touches me deeply. And I realized that I'm mourning it, too. So I cried in the car that ugly cry that makes other drivers wonder about me. Then, commercials interrupted my sobbing and my sad flow. I dried my tears and kept driving suddenly noticing how beautiful the day's sunshine illumined everything and made me smile. But then, Phil Collins' Against All Odds came on and on came the water works again. So emotional.

By the time I arrived at my office, Sting's Fall Out was on the radio and I was ready to rock the day. The only sad thing remaining were my puffy eyes. What a moody drive. 

This drive reminds me of the fickle nature of feelings. I'm reminded how our thoughts influence our feelings as do what we listen to and focus on. Interruptions are necessary to calibrate our emotional state and our perspective. They help us not fall into loops of thought through which we make conclusions about life and our experience. We need to remember the passing nature of feelings so as to not affect our decisions with our mood of the moment. 

Today is a good day to find or create a pattern interrupt. Let's not allow emotions and feelings guide our decisions and outlook on life. Whether good or bad, feelings come and go and are easily affected by our environment and what we put our attention to. Let's notice something other than what is keeping us in our mood, especially when it doesn't make us feel good. Let's remember that, like love songs, feelings are not our reality, they can be changed, and they pass.

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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.