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. 

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.

Friday, January 26, 2018

BYOE

Have a wonderful day, I said after a brief conversation at the checkout line. We'll see what happens when I get there, she replied and left. She was on her way to work and had not yet decided if she was feeling good or not. It all depended on her coworkers, she had said. Really? Really.

We are influenced by our environment–the weather conditions, the traffic, political atmosphere, economic climate, people's attitudes, moods and actions, distractions, and disturbances. But we forget that we are part of that environment. We forget that we have the same power that we give to others to influence us and that we can exert that power ourselves to influence our environment and own emotional state. Why must we wait to see what happens when we get there to know what we're feeling?

Today is a good day to BYOE–Bring Your Own Emotions. Let's not wait for something or someone outside of ourselves to decide what we will feel. Let's bring our own contentment, joy, and enthusiasm to wherever we go and whatever we do today. Let's use positive emotions to set the tone for our day, using hope and optimism to our advantage. Not only will we feel better, we will have a positive effect in our circumstances and surroundings. What will you bring today?

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, January 19, 2018

Little by little

Little by little the clock ticks, the day advances, and our moods swing. Little by little we choose, we act, and we make things happen – good or bad. Little by little we shape our personality, our character and the way we live our lives. Little by little we grow or we remain the same.

Today is a good day to choose what little things we focus on, for even our big goals are made up of smaller thoughts, choices and deeds, and it is in the accumulation of these choices that we can achieve what we set out to do. It is in the accumulation of little things that big things happen. We can pay attention to and focus on acts of kindness, generosity, politeness, good service, courtesy, gratitude and any other little gesture that makes us smile and lifts us up. These little things raise our vibration, energize us, and prime us for more of the same. As life inches forward, little by little we can choose what little things will make the big things, will make our life sweet, enjoyable, and fulfilling. What little things are going to make your day today?

Image found at wethetemple.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, January 12, 2018

Reconnaissance

This is the time of the year in which resolutions flutter and start to wane. We begin with strong intentions, but soon our eagerness fades. We come across obstacles, interference, doubt, lack of support, insufficient motivation, not enough energy, confusion, false starts, a clash between expectation and our reality, procrastination, and unforeseen circumstances. Enough to make us give up. We'll try again next year.

Maybe we don't have to. Maybe we add a new intention right now: self-awareness.

I have been on a reconnaissance mission. For the past few weeks I have been observing and exploring. I realized that we investigate things that are important to us. If we want to travel, for example, we take the time to know about our destination, transportation, costs, and what we'll need. Yet we don't do the same thing with our intentions, our dreams, and our goal-setting. Sometimes we don't even know why we want what we want or why we set certain goals. We're not aware of ourselves.

When it comes to our intentions, our resolutions, we need to take the time to explore. There are questions we can ask ourselves that will clear things up for us and help us achieve what we want, what we really want. We have to begin by knowing what is. What are our current circumstances? How do I feel? How do I want to feel? We also have to know what our tendencies are. Do I run at the first sight of danger? Do I quit as soon as I don't know what to do? How do I react when faced with fear? Do I lose wind (focus, motivation, stamina) on long distances? Do I take responsibility or do I blame others when things don't go as planned? How do I deal with frustration? Do I get bored easily? Other questions can help in our exploration: Am I able to recognize what is going well? What makes me joyful? What makes me feel purposeful? What are my weaknesses? What makes me strong? What are my attitudes toward life? How have my beliefs helped or hindered me in the past? What are my habits? What inspires me? Am I patient?

As you can see, these questions direct our attention within. Our focus is not external, it is on ourselves. Today is a good day to begin a new intention. Let's do reconnaissance on ourselves with absolutely no judgment. The idea is to know what is, to be aware of ourselves, to know ourselves. When we do, setting goals, dreams, resolutions, and intentions will make sense and the process will flow. When we are self-aware, external factors don't surprise us as much, don't influence us as much. Learning about ourselves leads to realization, trust, and knowing. It is the knowing that serves us.

What other questions will you ask yourself today? How will the answers change your resolutions or make them possible? What will you learn of yourself?

Image from wookmark.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.