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.

Image found at aspiremag.net.
© 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.
Image found at eyesofodysseus.wordpress.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 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.

Image found at theinvisiblecircle.bigcartel.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, 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.

Image found at waterblossoms.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 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.

Image found at whats-your-sign.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 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.

Image found at artpal.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, 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.

Image found at redbubble.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, September 21, 2018

Breakthrough

The first time she sat across from me she was distraught, overwhelmed, and despaired. It has been almost two years now since I started working with her. I had not seen her this healthy, this light, this hopeful in all this time. She broke through.

What she did was both remarkable and nothing at all. She stopped striving. For a woman who has employment, educational and economic disadvantages, this meant shifting her focus. She started by giving thanks for little things. Then she started making different choices, starting with what she chose to think. When she was tired, she thought of the wonderful reasons why she was tired. When her paycheck ran out, she became glad that she was able to pay her bills and buy food. When office politics turned into drama, she reminded herself of the temporary nature of her job and its role as a stepping stone to her goal of entrepreneurship. Nothing around her changed. She did. Her change is extraordinary. She is happy and is achieving her goals, all the while feeling good.

Today is a good day to break through ourselves. We can do this by acting in harmony with and not against ourselves, ignoring the histrionics, paying attention to our deepest desires and not the obstacles, focusing away from grievances and into gratitude. Breakthroughs happen when we break through this idea that we have built of ourselves out of other people’s ideas and expectations, when we make decisions bravely, honestly, and hopefully. We break through when we break away from the old thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that have kept us stuck, bored, helpless, hopeless, down, dull, and mediocre. We can break through by being mindful and taking life with conscious awareness and responsibility. Breaking through is a shift that takes us from conflict and turmoil to joy and peace, and can make us feel good, happy, and fulfilled.

'Mandala Peacock - Bird of Hope' - Art Print found at spectronium.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, September 7, 2018

Fall

Fall. Not literally. But do take a moment to fall into that feeling, into that which you're avoiding to feel. Take a moment to see it, look at it, acknowledge it, greet it. Feel it. Fall into it. Breathe.

Take a moment to breathe slowly, deeply. Fall into what worries you, what is making you sad, what is making you anxious, what is exciting you, what you don't understand, what scares you. Fall slowly knowing that you're safe. Breathe very slowly into it. Exhale very, very slowly.

Breathe slowly into the feeling. Sit with it. Exhale. Breathe in and make no judgment. It is what it is. Exhale. You're safe.

Fallen into the feeling, breathe in and realize that it has not overcome you. You're holding it. Breathe out slowly. Realize that it is just a feeling.

Breathe in and breathe out as you normally would for a few moments, fallen, holding that feeling.

Now take a slow breath in. As you slowly exhale, let the feeling fall away from you. Feel yourself come back up, lighter. Take a couple more deep breaths in and out. As leaves of fall, what doesn't serve you falls away.

I hope this meditation serves you.

Image found at society6.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, August 31, 2018

(Not so) Smart TV

It's only three years old. Our very sleek and very hi-tech Smart TV is suddenly not cooperating with me. I go through the self-help prompts and, though it says that it has reconnected to the WiFi network, I still can't get any programming. It keeps connecting to the errors. It hasn't learned anything. My tv is not so smart.

It turns out that it's reconnection to the network was superficial. It kept going back to glitches. In order to connect and come back to working properly, I had to disconnect it from everything and power it down. I had to unplug it completely. It needed to forget everything that was bothering it, that was making it malfunction. It needed to release and be released form the bad stuff it had attached to. In my frustration with the tv, I realized I was connected to the wrong feelings. I felt I was the one attached to the wrong thoughts, the wrong emotions, anticipation, expectations, difficulty, stumbling blocks, unwillingness. I needed not to reconnect, but to disconnect.

Today is a good day to stop connecting to failure, to defects, to faults, to what doesn't work. It's a good day to disconnect from what is not serving us, from what makes us act up and act out, from what makes us break down. Disconnecting will clear us to connect to what inspires us, to strength, to joy, to creativity, to glorious imagination, to fun, to flow. Let's be smart and connect to a deeper intelligence,  appreciation, bravery, dignity, serenity, beauty, laughter, kindness, to love.

Image found at VideoHive.net
© 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, August 24, 2018

The Golden Rule 2.0

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. This has been our teaching. In religious traditions and in social conventional wisdom, this teaching has been regarded as The Golden Rule. It is the rule considered to assuage all situations. When I do to another what I would like that other person to do to me, I, theoretically, am doing two things, telling them how I like to be treated and respecting the dignity of the other. However, following The Golden Rule doesn't always bring about what we expect.

The Golden Rule is more about the person that is doing than the others. It is well intentioned, for the most part. Yet, the doing may not be what the other person likes. I, for instance, appreciate long periods of solitude, so I like to be left alone, especially in the mornings. If left alone, other people may feel ignored and disregarded. I like to be taught kindly, lovingly. Other people prefer a tough calling out. It's the way they learn. I like a steady, quiet flow when I work. Other people prefer excitement and lots of activity. I like to fast through noon each day. Other people prefer to eat a hearty breakfast early in the day. Some people like to know the details, while others like the bottom line. To apply The Golden Rule in each situation would possibly strain it.

The Golden Rule 2.0 would actually say to do to others as they would like be done to them. This is even more difficult than the original rule for it implies paying attention, being aware, being mindful, and compromise. It implies understanding, communication, and courage. It implies generosity of spirit. The Golden Rule 2.0 implies heightened consciousness.

Today is a good day to do to others as they would have us do to them. Let's pay attention. Let's listen. Let's do accordingly. By modeling the Golden Rule 2.0 we extend an unspoken invitation for others to treat us the way we would like to be treated. By applying The Golden Rule 2.0 we inspire others to do the same.
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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, August 17, 2018

Choosing another thought

I was preparing a workshop for overwhelmed women when I myself became overwhelmed after a disheartening episode. Overwhelm took over to the point of losing my breath and becoming physically agitated. I lost my appetite, my ability to think clearly, and my ability to focus. It affected my creativity, productivity and service. It was just too much.

Just when we think we're done with certain situations, attitudes, or people, life has a way of presenting those very issues back to us. And so it was for me. There I was with so many things to do, but, instead of doing what I needed to do, I kept ruminating on the incident, on what was bothering me. In my mind, everything became wrong–my plans, my life, my choices, my dreams, me. I was coloring everything with what I was feeling at the moment and what I was feeling came from what I was thinking. What was I thinking? I needed to choose another thought.

Choosing another thought, one that raises us, that moves us forward, that directs our being away form inner and outer conflict, gives us power. When we do so, we're no longer victims to wrong-mindedness, rampant emotions, and impulsive and hurtful behavior. Today is a good day to choose another thought. When overwhelm or distress takes over, let's choose to think something different. We can choose This too shall pass, I only have to get through today, I'm capable of being calm, I choose peace, This is only one moment out of my life, or It is what it is. Thoughts like these release our resistance to higher ground and disengage us from wrong perceptions. These thoughts allow a cool down in order for us to center ourselves and gather new thoughts. Our new chosen other thoughts can also be images that remind us of kindness, love, generosity, joy, and compassion. In doing so we can generate those feelings as well.

I chose another thought today. I chose this image of my son who warmly smiled at me at my worst and hugged me. This image, this thought, allowed me to let go of what I cannot control, to remember what matters, to remember love, to reach for gratitude and to breathe slowly and deeply enough to come back to center, to come back to me, to come back to love.

Image found at amazon.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, August 10, 2018

The light is out

I keep a tall white candle lit on one of my altars all the time. When it is almost out, I light another one, as a symbol of and a calling for continued light. I keep a candle lit all the time, well, almost. Sometimes, I let it go out, I don't light a new one. I let it go dark. I spend a while without the light. I let my soul experience the darkness.

This happens during moments of turmoil and difficulty. It is not coincidental. I used to fight it and take it personal. Now, I embrace it. I take these light-out moments to go deep. I don't particularly contemplate or reflect during these periods. I don't make any conclusions. I go deep and listen and observe. I surrender and just watch.  The more I practice it, the more I attune.

Though it is not wise to spend too much time in the dark, this is a healthy practice that can help us become wiser and more aware. And, of course, more thankful for the light, for the blessings, for the joy. Dark nights, when reverenced, can become a source of spiritual bounty and deeper understanding, and bring us to communion with our souls.

If this is where you are, today is a good day to rest into the darkness. Let's be still, not resist, observe, listen. Surrender. We will know when to come back to light. While in the dark, we will sharpen our skills of observation, attune our heart's ear, hone our perception with higher understanding, and harmonize with our soul. This surrendering is a prayer not unlike the prayer said in the light. It is an act of faith and the dawn of emotional healing.
Image found at 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, July 27, 2018

The feed

First five posts in Facebook. That's it. That's all I'll read in a day. It's a self-imposed personal rule, a commitment I made to myself, otherwise I'll fall into the vortex. Have you ever gone into Facebook just for a few minutes and then realized an hour had passed? That's what I mean.

This five-post rule helps me stay productive, otherwise I'll go off-track. One reason is time. Time flies between posts and clicks. The other reason is the content. The feed can be randomly optimistic and positive or negative and pessimistic and it can change my mood.

What do we feed ourselves in terms of what we read and connect to? What do we feed each other in terms of what we post or share? What about the conversations we have? What we feed ourselves supports or enables our patterns of thought. And our patterns of thought feed our emotions, form our feelings, and affect our behavior. It also affect the energy with which we show up and do things.

Today is a good day to watch what we feed ourselves and what we feed each other. This applies to so much more than social media. Music, art, literature, tv, film, physical activity, conversations. Let's be aware of what we connect to, what we partake of, what we participate in, what we contribute to, what we share in, the thoughts we indulge in. Do we want to lift up or bring down? Build or destroy? Contribute or hold back? Encourage or frustrate? Feel pleasant or nasty? Grow or contract? How will we nourish ourselves today? It's all about the feed.

Image found at flickr.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 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.

Image found at pixels.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 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.

Image found at pinterest.fr.
© 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.

Image found on 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 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. 

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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.