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.

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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.

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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.

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