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. 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


*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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