Happy Thanksgiving!

Note to self

Getting over ourselves can lead to insights

Good Morning! 

Life is interesting, little moments of insight and joy can pop-up for us each day in unexpected and unusual places. 

When I started watching this video I really had a strong negative response to the woman being interviewed. I had no clue why but for some reason she rubbed me the wrong way. Fortunately, I decided to stick with it because learning more about meditation is something I value; I decided to focus on the message and not the messenger. I am so glad I did. 

I truly enjoyed Susan Piver’s insights and knowledge, and owe her an apology! Susan shares great information about how our minds behave while meditating – they will wander – lots, and that is okay. She also notes, that the key is to become aware that we are thinking and then gently and kindly return to focusing on our breath. (The realization that we are thinking means we are aware and in the moment, which is the goal of meditation, so while our thinking might distract us, our awareness of it is truly a good thing.) 

She suggested the simple but memorable imagery of watching your breath during meditation as you would a slowing swinging hammock – your breath enters and leaves just as a hammock rocks back and forth. 

If your day gets chaotic or rocky – and whose doesn’t on occasion – treat yourself to the cozy effect of watching a hammock gently rocking back and forth while cradling you and your sweet little overworked brain and then take a deep breath, or two or three and continue on your way. 

Your brain, your heart and your soul will thank you. 

Here’s a video to get you started. If this beach scene isn’t your thing, conjure up the image that makes you feel happy and relaxed. (I am deep in the woods,  listening to the sounds of birds, leaves rustling and for a split second the beauty of silence.) 

 

To listen to Susan’s interview, which was part of the Shambhala Mountain Center “Reality Summit” and is only available today and tomorrow, click here. 

I truly enjoyed it after I got over myself and let go of my personal biases and stereotypical thinking! To key into her comments about the hammock, listen from minutes 9:21 to 12:02. 

Let me know what you think.

Capturing the holiday moments that matter

The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming!

heart-picture-1075034__340No surprise there, but they do seem to appear earlier and earlier each year. A couple of years ago I was faced with new challenges centered on blending our ever-growing and combined family’s holiday expectations and traditions. My husband and I were excited to be spending our first holiday together as a newly married couple when we quickly realized that having five sons and their wonderful families in two far-flung states, could make the holidays more complicated than ever.

My first thought was panic, my second and more sensible thought, was rather than worrying about how we were going to share the holidays with our respective kids and grand kids – we have 12, going on 14 – I would first figure out what truly mattered to me during the holidays, and then trust the rest would fall into place.

I had recently read a positive psychology article on the correlation between what folks value individually and what nations value and how we track both, when a thought resurfaced for me – what we measure grows.

You see, that which we deem important enough to measure, i.e. pay attention to, tends to grow. Ta da!

If I fill my holiday with strife and worry and thoughts of who gathers when and where, I was doomed before I began. BUT if I focused on what really mattered to me, perhaps I could increase the likelihood that those things would increase, or at least that I might be more likely to notice and enjoy those moments when they did appear. 

It worked!  Knowing what mattered and focusing on that made our first and subsequent holiday seasons richer, more memorable and way more fun!

Measure what matters

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What do you want to celebrate throughout the holiday season? What are your personal beliefs and values related to the season? In simplest terms, what is most important to you? Family? Love? Togetherness? New Experiences? Tradition? Food? Fun? Religion?

I decided I want to pay more attention to love. I focused on and savored all the acts of love I saw – moments of tenderness and caring, gestures of kindness and sacrifices of any size made in honor and support of the holiday. I was so busy looking for love – that I ignored, or at least didn’t stew as long or as deeply about the less than stellar moments that occurred along the way.

 

How to make your season brighter

  1. Ask yourself what really matters to you. What do you want to hold in your heart this holiday season?
  2. Then capture every moment that matches what matters to you. Note and savor the moments as they occur.
  3. To reinforce your resolve and truly impact your holiday spirit, give yourself a helping hand by using at least one of the suggestions listed below:
    • Jot down your memorable moments in a journal. (You can start a special holiday journal, pack it way with the holiday decorations and have the fun of re-reading and adding to it each year.)
    • Write your moments on bits of paper and store them in a jar to read during or after the holiday. (The jar can be saved from year to year and enjoyed year- long or before next year’s holiday season.)
    • Write your moments on holiday-colored paper and create a paper chain throughout the holiday with all the moments you have enjoyed and want to remember.
    • Encourage your kids, spouses and even your guests to add their special holiday moments to your jar or chain and watch them grow along with everyone’s holiday spirit.
    • Take a few minutes each night before you go to bed or when you wake-up to review these special moments.
    • Or, simply put a penny in a jar or bowl to capture each moment and watch your “riches” grow.

Truth is, we are in control of the holidays ahead. I know it seems like things move way too fast, and that the gift lists, demands and commitments grow longer and greater each year, but in my case so has the love. And, the more I remind myself of that, the brighter my season shines.

Here’s to enjoying the holidays ahead!

Please note: This post has been updated from the original Wishful Thinking Works published in 2015.

 

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Service to others

Re-sharing a post I wrote in 2010 on this special day.

Today is Veteran’s Day, which originally began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1918.

Did you know that on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day in 1918 a temporary armistice was signed bringing an end to the hostilities of World War I?

President Woodrow Wilson designated Nov. 11 as “Armistice Day”, which led Congress in 1938 to pass legislation to declare it a national holiday, and in 1954 for President Eisenhower to change the name to Veteran’s Day.

Oddly enough, my first reflections on the sacrifice and service of veteran’s developed when I was 12 or 13 years old and read the book “All Quiet on the Western Front”, which was written by a German soldier about his experiences in WWI.

I had tears running down my cheeks as I read Erich Maria Remarque’s words, and it hit home that if a German soldier could feel this way, most likely any soldier could.  It was  the first time I really understood that war was not just about conflicts and countries, but about people and courage. Remarque became an American naturalized citizen in 1947.

I remember wanting to ask my Dad, my uncles and every other man their age, who served in WWII, what it was like.  But, that was something people didn’t seem to talk about then, so I didn’t either.

When I turned 16 in 1969, and was confronted daily with news of Vietnam. I forgot about the perspective of Veteran’s and focused more on how I felt about war.

It took me years to sort-out my feelings about service in the military.

No matter where you stand on our involvement in conflicts and wars then and now, today is a good day to pause and reflect on how others feel.  In particular, those who – for whatever reason – find themselves in situations that test every facet of their being in the service to others.

I truly think service to others is worth honoring, and I am glad that we have set aside a day to do just that.

There were almost 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in May of this year.  There are more than two million men and women enlisted in the armed forces and reserves. Most of us know someone or the family members of someone, who is currently serving or served in the past.

Find a way to let them know you are thinking of them today.

Wise words on following your heart

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“Your heart is a compass in a chaotic world. Follow it. Resist anything that looks reeeally good, but feels reeeally bad. Be brave enough to turn away from shiny objects, and toward the light that makes them shine.”  Martha Beck 

Spend quiet time finding out who you are and then follow the paths that delight you!

I promise you, you will never regret it!

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5 Second Mindfulness

Thousands and thousands of us from around the world are participating in Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s latest and, oh so relaxing, free 21-day meditation series.

This mini-meditation was included in the series and I thought it was too wonderful not to share. (The series began on Monday but if you join today, you can still experience all of the first five meditations.)

Try this simple exercise to connect to the here and now, from master of present-moment awareness, Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle says, “Ask yourself, ‘Am I still breathing?’ You suddenly feel the air flowing into your body and out of your body… At that moment, you’ve entered the state of presence. Even if it’s only five seconds.”

Meditation Eckhart Tolle

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