Kindness & Compassion

August 10th, 2016

kindness&compassion

Ease & Joy

July 11th, 2016

embrace the day

Going in Grace

October 29th, 2015

go in Peace go in Kindness go in Love go in Faith….go in Grace            sam baker

When we are mindful, we are  aware and accepting of  our thoughts and feelings in the present moment.

The month of October brings the change in seasons, Halloween and the online Mindfulness Summit.

Each day of the Summit, Mrs. Mindfulness  offers a perspective on mindfulness via her interview with a leader in the mindfulness arena.  Mrs. Mindfulness concludes the day’s interview with the wonderful question:

“If mindfulness were to reach critical mass, what would that look like to you?”

When mindfulness is a part of the human experience, it looks a lot like this:

Compassionate community policing (feel free to exchange “Policing” with any activity!)

When we are practicing mindfulness, there is openness, curiosity, acceptance and flexibility in attention and responding. 

The officers approached this traffic stop with awareness that this man was in deep suffering.  Through this awareness,  the officers are able to accept the man’s actions to be his best attempt to navigate the present situation.   Their awareness and acceptance paved the way for the officers to go in grace…mindful of this man’s suffering and their opportunity to be of assistance!

Mindfulness is not about trying to get a particular experience, it’s about letting whatever experiences are arising unfold.

As we move through our day, may we be open to the opportunities to go on grace.

 

A deep bow to Mrs. Mindfulness Melli O’Brien  as she goes in grace with her offering of the Mindfulness Summit…a free online 31 day summit..check it out Mindfulness Summit.

Balancing Endings with Beginnings

January 2nd, 2015

It’s that time of year when we find ourselves balancing the activities that signal the end of the year with the celebrations of ringing in the New Year!  This time of balance is a wonderful opportunity for reflection.

With relationships of any nature, we are most likely to experience joy and success in our relationship with the New Year when after we pause for reflection in bidding farewell to our relationship with 2014.

Reflection allows for the opportunity to move into the New Year purposefully, creating space in our minds and souls for new experiences.  A reflective stance is the opportunity to re-visit our relationships and experiences, our hits and misses of the year; to grieve our mis-steps and losses; to celebrate our accomplishments.  Reflection allows us to let go of the anger and sadness of the year that can weigh us down, while recognizing and carrying our inspirations into the the New Year.

During this season, I have been balancing the endings and beginnings by taking a reflective stance.  Whether I am formally meditating, walking or going about daily activities, I begin with a few mantra repetitions, set an intention to reflect on the past year, allowing for that which surfaces– I think about it, feel about it, hold on to the lessons learned and let go of the rest.

Maybe you have developed a wonderful refection meditation.  The folks at Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life offer a few ideas:

My End of Year Ritual

How to Use a Sacred Mantra to Reflect on the Year

As always, I look forward to hearing about your year end/beginning reflections and how you balance this time of year!

May you experience balance in the New Year!

 

The Imbalance of Change

September 23rd, 2014

 

Change has a companion and its name is “imbalance.”

Whether the change is expected or a surprise; joyful or filled with sadness-change is part of our way of being in the world.

Sometimes the anticipated disruption may paralyze us and prevent us from moving forward and making that change.

Any change is accompanied by a period of imbalance–that feeling of being unsettled, out-of sorts, uncertain and uncomfortable in our own skin.  Here’s the thing: that period is temporary and is a natural part of the process of adjustment.

Madisyn Taylor speaks to the gift of  the imbalance during change in her piece Temporarily Out of Balance.

I try to remind myself  “I will adjust” and that I will live a more balanced life on the other side of change.

I am interested in hearing your strategies for regulating the imbalance of change.

Falling Into It

November 21st, 2013

 

Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change. 
– Edwin Way Teale

Every year I feel it creeping up on me. That subtle shift in the rhythm of the days, the deepening of nights.

Really, what I begin to experience are the days growing shorter around me, while my to-do lists grow longer.

I am aware of  the slight shift each fall, yet am surprised when I find myself feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, with projects unfinished, and disconnected from family during this “season of the family.”   What is this shift?  The folks over at Just Minds refer to this shift as the “Fall Wall”:

“Shocktober is here. The fall brings a stress phenomenon I like to refer to as the Fall Wall. As fall approaches everything starts moving a little faster. Schedules start to fill up as kids head back to school and their extra curricular activities begin again. The holidays are looming and with them come to do lists and preparations….  Stress! All of a sudden everything feels like it’s spinning and we start repeating the mantra, “There’s just not enough time.”

Its a reminder that time is an illusion.  We cannot create more time, yet we can be mindful of how we pay attention time.  Being  present is a way we can stretch time to its fullest…being aware of the Wall’s presence, leaning into the wall, instead of the wall weighing us down.

Finding Your Balance

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
― William Cullen Bryant

The Fall Wall  is  “autumn’s last smile;” autumn’s gift to us.    You may experience the Wall as a cold and weathered mass, bearing down; an obstacle in your way to That. Perfect. Holiday. Season.  A wall is a simply boundary, reminding us that we are about to venture too far. What happens when you embrace the Wall as a gentle reminder that you have over-extended yourself?  Walls are designed to support and protect from the elements.  Imagine  that the  Wall holds you up, allows you to lean on it and breathe…just breathe?

Find your balance by being  mindful of the Wall–pay attention to the days when you are feeling that there isn’t enough time– step back and reassess your to-do list and re-focus on the things that truly matter.

How are you balancing the season?

Getting Started….Staying With It

January 17th, 2013

“Just START…STOP over-thinking it, STOP trying to control it all …”  –JLW

For some of us, it is the Starting that is troublesome.  The Starting something new, not knowing the rules or the outcome.  The newness-factor that inhibits our ability to “just start”.  So, we think about our New Year’s Intentions with great gusto, and then shrink away from the newness, halted by the uncertainty of it all.

For some of us, it is the Maintaining.   Maintaining the motivation, the momentum and the enthusiasm to see the New Year’s Intention All. The. Way. Through to the end of the year.  By February or March, we are hanging our heads in shame like Charlie Brown, trying to forget the whole thing.

Whether you are a slow starter or a mediocre maintainer, you are not alone!  Many are with you, many have been where you are.  When feeling uncertain, we tend to turn away  from the tough stuff.  When feeling overwhelmed, we tend to shrink away from feeling so vulnerable.  Sometimes having tools to help get started and offer structure is the key.  For others, it is the community of a shared experience that keeps us moving forward.

I am sharing two tools,  valuable in both getting started and staying the course, that can help us in setting our intentions with clarity. Whether your New Year’s Intention is one word or many, Christine Kane offers her Word of the Year Discovery Tool (free tool!) and  Big Picture Classes offers a year long on-line course, One Little Word 2013 (36.00 for the year-long course!).

Finding Your Balance:  A key to Finding Your Balance is the awareness of your learning-style and doing-style.  What i s your style when it comes to starting something new, as well as, following a project through to the end.

I am excited to hear about the getting starting and the staying with your New Year’s Intentions, throughout the Year.  Feel free to share tools that have been helpful to you!

New Year’s Intentions

January 10th, 2013

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”  -Ellen Goodman

Do you still find yourself in the New Year’s resolution trap?  You know the one, January first finds you announcing ” I resolve to…” and February first finds you feeling shameful and self-loathing for not keeping that resolution.

I say: This year, let’s stop setting ourselves up for failure.  This year, let’s create an opportunity for genuine change by setting an Intention.   An Intention, “a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action, an objective.”  It’s a word from the Latin intendere, meaning to direct attention or to stretch toward something.

Setting an Intention is about setting a course to follow while on the journey  of  change.  Setting an Intention for change acts as our guide through the journey of change, rather than a yardstick in which to judge ourselves.  Setting an Intention becomes a healthier way of reaching our goals, then when we act from a place of want and insecurity.

“Our intention creates our reality.” Wayne Dyer

A few weeks before the New Year, I found myself feeling frustrated with a friend.  As we made plans to meet get together and discuss, I found myself rehearsing a one-sided conversation, practicing a strategy to win that conversation.  In a moment of clarity, I reminded myself that 1) I  liked and trusted this person , 2) a quick personal inventory assured me that it probably was not all about me! and 3) my red flags reminded me that I tend react this way when I am feeling vulnerable to others’ feelings…which means she was feeling vulnerable about her own feelings.

With clarity, came the Intention…the New Year’s Intention:

“When I find myself strategizing how to win that conversation, I will set an intention to listen to the other, listen to what I may learn about the other and about myself.”

So, instead of  starting the conversation from a place of frustration,  “I am so frustrated with you!  What is your problem? Get it together!”, it started from a place of concern and curiosity, sounding something like,  “It seems like something is going on with you.  I don’t know what it is, and I hope that you will talk to me about it.”   I set an intention to listen, and stretched myself by listening before blurting, and discovered something new …which led to a deeper level of connection.

Finding Your Balance:  Set your Intention for the Year.  Maybe you want to try this one, or create one based on an understanding of what matters  to you.  Write down your Intention…Tell someone your Intention…giving your Intention the space to settle in your mind and the Universe, guiding you, slowly, towards change throughout the year.

My curiosity is peeked, I look forward to hearing about your Intentions, now and throughout the year!

Listening to Vulnerability

October 17th, 2012

A funny thing happened on the way home…

My son and I were making our daily drive home from school.  After we had gotten thru the mundane stuff, mainly me asking about tonight’s homework, he confided that a fellow student had been getting on his nerves.  I invited him to “go on, tell me more.”  But, as he was  telling me about this kid making loud and embarrassing wisecracks about my son’s football practice and playing, I was in full-on “protect my young” mode and ready to pounce and make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.  As my son was being vulnerable with me, I was preparing a list of teachers and coaches that I would be emailing about this situation AS SOON AS I ARRIVE home!  And then, it happened….

In her wonderful new book, Daring Greatly,   Brene Brown talks about how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead. She talks about vulnerability as the fear of uncertainty and how it drives us to action…drives us to do whatever it takes to move away from this uncomfortable/dreadful feeling. Daring Greatly means taking action by owning our feelings, and allowing things to unfold organically (instead of trying to control the outcome!).

My “call to arms” reaction was motivated by the uncomfortable/dreadful feelings in the pit of my stomach–  my feelings of helplessness and my desire to get away from those feelings as fast as possible….yep, in that moment it became all about me and not about my son!

When we use all of our energy to ignore and deny our vulnerable inner voice, we end up also having to ignore what is truly happening in the moment…and miss opportunities for connections and genuine understanding of others’ feelings.

And then, it happened…when I listened and (quietly) acknowledged  my inner vulnerability, I was able to appreciate my son’s risk in confiding in me and was genuinely able to hear and experience his vulnerability.  My authentic “call to arms” came when I responded by asking, “What would you like me to do?”

Finding Your Balance:

In an earlier blog, I wrote about being aware of your red flags….those  alerts that let us know that we are reacting instead of responding, pushing away instead of engaging.  The next time you have the urge to run away, change the subject, take control or talk someone out of their feelings- be curious about your own feelings of vulnerability in that moment.  Be curious about the connection that is possible when you allow yourself to feel vulnerable with those whom you love.

P.S. my son responded “I want you to just listen.”  As I just listened, I discovered how my son  felt about the situation, his perception of the other kid’s behavior and how he  planned to deal with the situation!  I experienced my son as his authentic self. Funny what you learn about others when you are able to listen to your vulnerability.

The Gratitude Paradigm

September 17th, 2012

“Some people grumble that the roses have thorns, I am grateful that the thorns have roses”

Alphonse Karr

The Gratitude Paradigm….Shifting How We Experience Gratitude

Gratitude is an emotion.  Like all emotions, gratitude has layers.  When we talk and listen to others speak about gratitude, we say and hear things such as “attitude of gratitude,” keeping a gratitude list or journal, “remembering what I am grateful for.”

On the surface, we are “thank” people daily–we thank  those who do something for us during the day…”thank you for holding the door for me.”

When we go a little deeper, we remember and acknowledge acts of kindness, and the folks behind them.  For example, on days when we feel like life has thrown us a curve ball, it is grounding and calming to make a gratitdue list and remember the people in our lives who bring us joy.

Recently, I became aware of an even deeper sense of gratitude…gratitude for the thorns.   Vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown ( Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection)  talks about the “gratitude paradigm.”  This is a shift in how we think about and experience gratitude, how we bring gratitude into our minds and our lives. As with most new concepts, I learn through experience.  As I was reading about and having conversations about this shift in gratitude, a friend shared a story that  pulled it all together!

During a meditation class, the garbage men came by in their big loud truck to collect the trash.  The truck engine roared and revved, the trash cans banged against the truck and slammed back down to the ground.

After the class, a member was visibly irritated and angry that the garbage truck had interrupted her meditation (she was talking about complaining to the building’s management company}.

She noticed that the woman meditating next to her was calm, peaceful and joyful. She inquired as to how this woman was able to meditate with all the noise.

The joyful meditator responded, “When I hear the gargabge trucks outside, I am grateful for them for picking up the trash so that I do not have to deal with it.  I say a thankful intention (quietly, in my mind), put the noise aside and return to meditating.”

Ah!  It is about creating a space to hold the negative and the positive, acknowledging the negative  (instead of being stuck in the struggle to resist it) which, in turns, allows the positive to become clear…. noticing the thorns and looking beyond them at the beautiful rose.

Finding Your Balance:  The gratitude shift is not about being a “pollyanna”–always seeing the positive and ignoring the negatives.  It is about holding the irritation with the joy, and Finding the Balance.