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.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Nothing to write home about

There are days that blend into others...the daily grind born every morning to the same feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and set of circumstances. Life becomes one big boring glob of chores and things to do. Day in and day out we wake up, we hustle, we go to sleep and then we repeat. As my mother would say, there's nothing to write home about. It's all the same. It's all so boring.

When days become like this, we can get sullen. Apathy can overcome us and we can begin to lose interest in and become passive to life. This is an awful feeling. Being dispassionate, with sluggish hearts, we fall into inertia. We move slowly, or aggressively with an underlying animosity, or we don't move at all. We become stuck and make the dullness of life a permanent condition. It doesn't have to be this way.

Nothing to write home about doesn't have to be boring. We can view the same old, same old in such a way that we don't fall into the trap of emptiness and indifference. Nothing to write home about can be viewed with contentment, satisfaction, and as a respite from times of high excitement and commotion. Nothing to write home about could be a period of observation and increased awareness, readying us for the life that we want. It can be a period of noticing the humdrum and benign things that make life great.

Today is a good day to become aware of our daily grind. Let's ask ourselves what's in it? Let's look at some of the things we do with curiosity in order to create interest. Let's do one thing different today. Maybe we take the long way home, listen to a different playlist, forgive someone we've been holding a grudge against, read about a subject we have been wondering about, journal about what we have been frustrated about, or go for a run in the rain. Let's create movement–physical, emotional or spiritual. More importantly, let's take stock of our life and be grateful for those things we have taken for granted. This can create the little bit of excitement that can brighten our day and give us something to write home about.

Image found at coulourbox.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 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.