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Showing posts from September, 2020

INTENTION

There can be so many buzzwords, jargon and lingo connected to practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness associated with “keeping it simple,” breathing to focus and helping us to center.  Those familiar with these practices may have grown accustomed to using expressions such as "awareness," "awakening" and even "intention."  I contemplated how overwhelming or even stressful it might be for someone seeking such resources to have to wade through the lingo.  So I challenged myself to pick one often used expression and explain it in a brief and simple sentence: intention. Intention is the courage of the heart opening to experience the new, now, moment.    Mindfulness through practice in quiet, stillness and focused breathing can support intention and invite awareness of the now, present moment. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. Our intention creates our reality.” - Wayne Dyer

PLAN

Three little words. "Life goes on" said the American poet for whom a mountain was named - not to mention his four Pulitzer Prizes. A well-known, highly celebrated poet you would have to be from another planet not to know the name Robert Frost whose poetry spanned five decades. Indeed, there's much to read, much to applaud and much that has been said about one of America's most revered literary artists, considered a "natural treasure" decades after his death. As it happens, I don't read poetry much, yet I do remember Robert Frost from required high school and even college reading courses. Honestly, I don't remember any of his poems per se, but I do remember the "feelings" his poems evoked. I remember contemplation, authenticity and simplicity. Now an expert on Frost will come to his defense, explaining that my "quaint" assessment of such memorable and historic works is woefully lacking. Be that as it may because as it turns those t

BEAUTY

We all know there are different kinds of beauty. There's the beauty of fragrant flowers and tall trees. In the song of birds and bees there's beauty. In the cute face of a child and sexy smile of a partner there's beauty. There's beauty in the structure of architecture and secrets of science.  In the melody of music and the movement dance there's beauty. Indeed, there's beauty all around us and yet we can get so busy, we don't see beauty in life. Mindfulness is an opportunity to stop and appreciate the beauty. In the quiet, stillness we invite awareness to see beauty in small and even the obvious. The opportunity to see beauty opens the heart; and an open heart is a loving heart. In mindfulness when we focus on breathing we calm and connect; awakening to the beauty of here, now, present moment. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. Franz Kafka

DANCE

  The things we take for granted! Some unavoidable noise started after I began my (in home) yoga practice and try as I might to ignore it, the noise was distracting. As I moved into Mountain Pose I told myself not to let the noise take me away from my practice. Not surprisingly, that's what started to happen. I lost focus and started paying more attention to the noise instead of the practice. Determined to have a meaningful yoga session, I moved to a different, smaller room, less appealing room to complete the rest of the session. However, after moving and moving into the next yoga pose, I pondered "To what purpose was my practice?" What if I didn't have the freedom (or space for that matter) to move to? And then I remembered an amazingly inspiring true story that spoke of freedom and the power of mindfulness. The story of dancer LaTasha Madison and her path from innocence to passion, passion to prison, prison to purpose is a living demonstration of the power of medi

SHIFT

Have you ever had your mind set on a particular color of the car you wanted? How about the special flowers, shipped from Guatemala for your wedding in Vermont? Or what about that perfect partner you've dreamed of all your life? You probably had a pretty clear idea what he/she would look like? And yet, in each of these instances I'd be willing to wager that what you got isn't exactly what you wanted. Even if a little bit off, you had to make a shift in what you wanted and what you got. This is not a bad thing; not at all. In fact, the sooner we embrace that life calls for shifts to create balance, to center, the more willing we are to make a shift when needed. Interestingly, shifts in car color, wedding flowers, and for the sake of a partner seem to come easier than a shift toward mindfulness. In mindfulness the shift comes because we are willing to embrace the practice rather than staying in a miserable state over a mishap at the office. There is an opportunity to shift tow

SIMPLE

A quote from Abraham Lincoln says, "Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be." Simple. Right? I was introduced to this quote years ago and I've never stopped second guessing it. "Is it really that simple?" I ponder. Never mind I include the quote in my morning meditations and sometimes during the day when I need to hear it. I absolutely appreciate the simple sentiment. Indeed, the message is so authentic, honest and simple there's no reason not to embrace it. Is that old squawk about being "too" simple? I love simple. Perhaps because I associate simple with nature, and associate nature with peace. Yet, even with simple my thoughts can work too hard if I'm not mindful. My daily mindfulness practice helps to "keep it simple" which is one of the easiest ways to stay centered in the now, present, moment. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. Every mornin

DREAMS

Have you ever thought about the benefits of dreaming. I don't mean psychology Freud type thoughts. I actually found myself wondering whether dreams in the sense of things you wish for can help us. The thought began with a line from a grieving character in an online streaming series I've been watching. In paraphrase the character replied to the person offering solace that to even dream of a better future was a waste of time because it won't stop the pain of the now, present, moment. I thought "Gee, there is truth in that statement! Uncomfortable truth" and what would I have said to that grieving person? What could mindfulness do for a person who discards the benefits of dreams? I gave the statement some serious thought.  Granted, it was a character delivering a line on screen but, I tried to recall a time of grief and how debilitating that pain felt. After connecting the dots of how that statement made sense I almost accepted that perspective as fact. My thinking

PAUSE

I write about mindfulness because it helps.   Every so often I think it’s important to clarify what mindfulness is - at least what mindfulness is to my life, experience, to my calling toward peace.  Mindfulness is not a cure-all; although many report cures that come after they begin a mindfulness practice.  Mindfulness is not a medicinal holy grail; although it is regarded as helpful to healing by many medical practitioners.  Mindfulness is not magic, although I do believe the practice has mystical elements beyond our human reasoning.  Mindfulness is an opportunity to pause.  And it’s this element of the mystical that informs why and what I write about mindfulness. I write about mindfulness because it helps. For as long as I can recall being human, I have been sad. Sometimes the sadness is deeper than other times, and sometimes the sadness has been deep and dark.  It’s been this way for as long as I can remember being alive.  And for me it ceases to matter whether the sadness is “cause

WORTHY

We all have "that" person in our life. Maybe it's a family member, your best friend, a lover, your long-time business partner or maybe, just maybe it's you. It's "that" person who no matter what you ask, will never give you a simple answer. Even when the question or inquiry only requires a "yes or no" reply, "that" person can't give a simple reply. It either turns into an unnecessarily long explanation, a question of your question, or an argument once you've been drawn in enough to become frustrated. You've had these episodes with "that" person for so long it's almost become a comedy routine of Gracie & George, Arnold & Willis or Beavis & Butthead. However, unlike the comedy of these characters my position in the routine can often end up off balance. Invariably I'm left frustrated, wasting hours, days and sometimes even weeks wondering "Why?" I'd wonder "Why" I can'

CHANGES

I felt so "off" the other day all because of a minor change in schedule.   I was fidgety, anxious with an overall sense of being out of alignment. For large portion of that day I kept trying to identify what was "actually" bugging me.  Of course I knew, deep down inside, I knew. You see it wasn't the minor change, but the major concern, concentration, focus was on something in the past. The outcome was out of my control; not in present. Eventually I did go to mindfulness to take advantage of the opportunity to focus on breathing, get quiet and embrace the stillness. In mindfulness I anchor with awareness to release that which has the potential to topple balance. Mindfulness helps to reset and regain my center in the present, now, moment. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. “The great solution to all human problems is individual inner transformation.” – Vernon Howard

DIVINE

There is so much that goes in our head, it doesn't matter whether the percentage we use is 5, 10, or 12. The truth is there's a whole lot up there we don't use; and don't know how to use. How mind boggling that can be when pondered. Still the good news is that we are doing a lot of wonderful, meaningful, and productive things with the portion of our mind that we do use. Just think what powerful, purposeful and positive things can be achieved when/once we human beings learn how to more effectively embrace all the mind has to offer. Many know this realm as divine mind and we all have access to it. Divine mind is light, a center of insight and the ability to co-create. This is not an intellectual process; it's almost the opposite of the thinking process. In divine mind we do not seek to analyze, judge, compare, compute or draw conclusions based on what we learned or (think) we already know. Divine mind is a state of awareness that opens to the new, now moment. Mindfuln

MUSIC

What would the world be like without music? It's almost impossible to imagine! Anyway a world without music is not desired. Music is fun, inspiring, restorative, healing and meditative. Indeed, there's even more to music than words can describe, yet we all know music what does for our state of mind. I for one would have no problem calling music magical, mystical even medicinal (with no bad aftertaste). Even trying to explain the nature of music serves little merit because if you were from Mars or Venus (you pick), you'd have to experience music to "get it"... the sound, movement and beat brings awareness. Mindfulness is meditative, mystical and respected as therapeutic medicine. However, with mindfulness it is the quiet (instead of the sound), the stillness (rather than the movement) and the focus on breathing (not the beats) that brings awareness. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. “Music is th

ENDINGS

I was thinking about a good book I recently finished and the number of times I skipped over and read beyond paragraphs to get to the ending faster. Only to have to go back a few paragraphs later to make sense of what I was reading ahead. Clearly, a credit to the author (a mystery) that I so anticipated the ending. However, when I did get to the end (no it wasn't the butler), I felt a bit bereft. Yes, the ending was a surprise, although not surprising. Still that wasn't what had caused a feeling of missing (out on) something. It's likely readers do sometimes feel a certain way after finishing a book, especially a good book. This wasn't that. I'm thinking it may have more to do with realizing there was no joy in skipping over and beyond paragraphs in the book. For one thing the ending was going to be the same (duh); no matter how quickly I get to the end. Also, the process of reading - especially a good book - invites you to be present in/with each and every word the

ONE

Never underestimate The Power of One! I thought I'd heard that in a superhero movie. Don't ask which one because chances are I went to that movie with a friend who is zoom-zoom, coo-coo about superhero movies. Actually, if truth be told, I don't mind spending an hour or so with Superman, Avengers, or Black Panther. However, my friend really is an expert on this genre. Yet, there was no luck plucking this line from the superhero database when asked. So, I figured maybe "The Power of One" line didn't come from a superhero (or even a superhero villain). Nonetheless, all that day "The Power of One" persisted in my thoughts. Although I have yet to find the source of this quote (maybe I made it up?), clearly it was meaningful. Indeed, "The Power of One" is strong, revolutionary, and can make all the difference in the world. Consider the power of ONE sunrise that creates a whole new day of opportunity. How about the power of ONE sperm against all

HEARTFELT

When I was growing up my family would often tell me, "You take things too much to heart" and that never sounded like a good thing. In fact, I knew "in my heart" it wasn't a good thing - at least not according to the way they saw it from their perspective. From their perspectives to feel with heart was not good, maybe unhealthy and certainly not helpful (not even to myself).  Invariably, it wasn't just family, it seemed playmates, then school friends, even grown-ups out in the world seemed to think I took things "too much to heart" and little by little I started to believe that story. Of course, we all have those childhood memories that aren't so pleasant to remember. Maybe you were told not to eat so much because you already have big bones. Maybe you were told to stop those stupid daydreams becuase dreams don't pay the bills. Maybe you were told people like you don't get the job you want when you grow up, so drop that crazy "What I

APOLOGY

The best apology is a change in behavior. (Unknown) No one's perfect. That’s a true, literal statement of fact. However, there are those who would argue the point. So be it. After all if someone argues with such an obvious truth, there's little room for willingness to learn simple ways, such as an apology that can help create better balance in the world. Still, there's opportunity in sharing. Actually, as summarized by the opening statement, it's not so much the word of apology that helps, as much as the action of apology. Put another way, "If you keep behaving the same way, your apology is meaningless." just a word. That makes all the sense in the world. Yet, I don't know that I've ever heard it phrased as simply as, "The best apology is a change in behavior." Likewise, it establishes meaning, intent, purpose of an apology in the now, present, moment. There is no benefit to fret over the past error, no value in the "I won't do it ag

PAST

When the past calls, don't answer, there's nothing new. This quote comes from the book "I Really Needed This Today," by Hoda Kotb, and I know it will become one of my favorites. Yes, a favorite quote and a "go-to-reminder" when I'm about to take that call from the past. For the most part, I'm good at not revisiting, rehashing or redialing into the past. After all, in truth there is literally nothing new there. Moreover, there is nothing we can do to change the past. Mindfulness is a way to be present. It is in the quiet, stillness of focused breathing that brings us to the attention, insight, awareness of the now, here, moment. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness. Abraham Maslow

LOVE

There is never enough that can be said about love. Altogether love is a joy, pleasure, goodness, happiness, intimacy, companionship, kindness, caring, loyalty, trust, faith, hope and so much more. Moreover, some might say love is sadness, disappointment, hurt, pain, deceit, and even suffering. I say those lower vibrations are human beings expressing their lack of love or perhaps loss of love. Love is a higher vibration, an exulted expression of human beings in conscious awareness; here, now, in the present moment. Love is also a choice; and as human beings we don't always make the best, healthiest, most balanced choice. Mindfulness is a way, a technique, a practice that can help us make better, healthier, beneficial choices. Mindfulness is called a practice because the more we do it, the better we do it. And the better we do it, the better we become doing, living, being mindful. In the quiet, in the stillness, in focus of breathing we come to conscious awareness. In the here, now,

TAILGATE

I do it; and whether it’s illegal or just bad, I know it has potential to cause destruction. Sometimes it’s almost like I want to be in the seat right next to the other person.  It’s too close. Oh, I’m a good driver.  Thankfully I’ve never caused an accident.  But this is the word that came to mind when I tried to pinpoint the cause of the heavy heart that wouldn’t lift.  Tailgate.  Perhaps because I don’t like to drive this word association popped came to mind. I’m not sure if it matters why the word “tailgate” came to mind, but rather that I understand how it relates to this situation.  Maybe it's a hint, a dictionary or possibly a thesaurus to help bring clarity.  And with clarity often comes relief. You see, if I’m not mindful I can be one of those people who sees my life through other people’s rear window - and that’s never the best view. No matter how close I get, looking at my life through other people's lives is never going to be healthy. In fact, it’s such a distorted

ROLLING

It was amazing! I looked, and then I looked again ... what I was seeing couldn't be. It was rolling ... actually, literally, very much rolling. How could that be?  Amazing! It was a regular day, or maybe not. However, nothing truly special or life-altering had happened and now I was on my way home from work. Walking along a nice, clean downtown street, hearing and not listening to the noise of traffic. Looking about I see quaint city condos, people walking dogs, couples in laughter and beautiful home gardens - then suddenly out of the corner of my eye I happen to see unusual movement. Something rolled on the ground. And I thought, how strange that thing that's rolling isn't making the slightest bit of sound as it hits the pavement. How come? On a city street, albeit a very nice downtown city street, there are bottle caps, rocks and unfortunately even pieces of broken glass. All of which would make some kind of sound, if only a twiddle. But no sound. So, I turned toward the

BIRTHDAY

This is a month full of birthdays in my family. This year all of the birthdays are of older folks; no new babies and everyone is old enough to vote … and then some. I say that because they’re all old enough to reminiscence and remember. Likewise, at a certain age many people start to review and think about what it means to be “getting older” and what that means for their life experience. I don’t know if it’s cultural, with the invention of birthday cards (no ... birthday cards didn’t always exist), or when people become parents (or an aunt or uncle), or just natural (the passing of time). However, when a birthday approaches, especially when you can start to count decades, you begin to think about your life and for some that can make a birthday less about celebration and more about stress. Of course we don’t have to wait for that one (albeit special) day to consider the direction, journey, path of our life. A daily mindfulness practice can help clear and clean the mind of those som

CALLING

I have high regard, applause and commendation for " The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling" by James Hillman. Published in 1996 this book blew me away! It was possibly the first book that "understood" some things I'd wondered about probably since I was old enough to think about "purpose" or more appropriately "the soul's calling" as titled. It's over a decade later and though I've not re-read every chapter of that first book (I still own), my heart, mind, soul still know the lessons, insights and truths that sprang forth from those pages. My design is not to give a book review; however, it must be said that "The Soul's Code..." is a book that shares wholesome, authentic and pure clarity about the nature of "callings" and discovering, knowing, being one's purpose. Honestly, it's not a book for all because it requires patience, a heartfelt desire and willingness to awaken "the s

PRACTICE

What do you do when having a bad day, when lonely, when your partner isn't the partner you remember being your partner? Eat (over eat)? Drink (drink too much)? Argue (pick a topic that incites discord)? Or maybe you run, take a walk or listen to music? I'm not sure why, however, it seems all too often we choose the less healthy options when having a bad, stressed or off-balance. Maybe it's a reflex to choose the quickest, most familiar and most practiced way we think will bring relief. And that's exactly why mindfulness is a practice: the more you do it, the more it becomes what you do. Moreover, for those times when you can't run, take a walk or listen to music, chances are you can practice mindfulness. With practice you discover mindfulness can be a relief as well as release. Mindfulness is a practice that encourages you to pay attention to your body's most essential function; your breathing. We take in and release air with such little regard for the magnifice

UNPACKING

This series of discussions on friendship (trying to understand the nature of friendship) was predicated on what I call "unpacking the pain" specifically as it relates to my personal experiences with friendship. It must be obvious that even taking on such a personal discussion reflects the discomfort, hurt and heartfelt pain associated with my experiences. Certainly, most of us are reluctant and strongly resist taking on topics, actions or reflections associated with painful experiences. As a matter for fact, just the other day listening to spiritual discussion I heard it said that when we revisit painful experiences (in our mind) we cause, invite and chose suffering. The speaker went on to reiterate that "pain is certain, but suffering is choice" (paraphrased) is one of the basic Buddhist beliefs. Hearing this gave me pause to consider if this "unpacking of pain" was choosing a path of suffering. Of course I'm familiar with the basic Buddhist beliefs

SHAKESPEARE

Recently I realized that in the realm of friendship there's trust and there's Shakespeare. Trust, as you may know is friendship developed by way of fun, good times and blind faith. Shakespeare "to thine ownself be true" is a different kind of blind faith. It's the blind faith of intuition, honesty and trusting yourself. And just recently I realized (oddly enough talking with a friend) that Shakespeare is the kind of trust I've developed by friendships. It's the trust that hasn't garnered a lot of friends, however, the sentiments of Shakespeare's words have helped guide my path toward true friends. It's a lesson about friendship that although I followed, I didn't really appreciate until much later in life. Perhaps you've read it (Shakespeare didn't write it), "Consider quality vs. quantity" when it comes to something as significant as friendships. I sometimes wonder how famous people negotiate having so many "friends&q

TRUSTING

As I was saying friendship has been something of a challenge for me. To be very clear, it's not because I feel like I've been a bad friend. No, it's because I don't think I completely understood the nature of friendship. No, it's not rocket science. You meet someone in kindergarten, you share crayons and you become friends. Five years later you are in 5th grade and exchange friendship bracelets. Five years later you share lockers, lip gloss and secrets about who you have a crush on. At least that's the way it's portrayed in kid comedy TV series and back to school movies. Certainly in between those things that happen in growing up and growing friendships there's stuff about how to be loyal, how to be supportive, and how to help a friend in trouble. These storylines are important and truly necessary especially in today's escalating climate of bullying. However, the episodes on friendship that most get my gut (heart?) are those that focus on trusting.

FRIENDSHIP

It's one of those mystical, all powerful, touchstone words that involves so much heart. For most "friendship" is a good word. A word that brings good memories, laughter and happy times to mind. Not so much for me. I'm not sure when I realized friendship would be such a big challenge in my life, but with every passing year it's been made clear - that challenge. No and yes. There are no specific friendships that caused the challenges; and yes there are specific friendships that have caused the challenges. However, the specifics don't matter; they never did matter. What did and does matter, I have learned is the nature of friendships. And in my case the seasons of friendships have been extremely hard, tumultuous and often painful, very painful. Even as I write, I realize how I (still) guard the gates, lest floods of heartache burst through. So, I know this essay will not be a short, succinct, collection of statements that I can wrap in a bow-tie conclusion. Over

PATIENCE

  When is patience not being patient, but avoiding the necessary? And is there a difference?  Is there a difference that matters? I like to think I’m a pretty patient person.  Granted in some situations I’m more patient than others.  For example, if I’m waiting for a parking space and I see a mother struggling with 3 children, grocery bags and trying to put the cart in the buggy barn, I will be patient.  However, if I see a mother with 3 children, shopping bags, holding up the cue because she’s chatting with her girlfriend, disregarding the cars piling up because she's not moving then patience may not be so patient. Perhaps it’s a judgement call like many opportunities in life.  Every day we are presented with chances to show what we’re made of, what is our truth and yes, what we need to learn.  We will, of course never get it all perfectly correct because we’re not perfect and I for one don’t believe we’re here to be perfect.  We’re here to learn, grow and help each other be the b

LA LA LAND

Lately I feel I've been spending too much time in "La La Land" and that's unusual. I'm not talking about "La La Land" as in Fairy Godmother or I'm rich and live in a castle or even I have the perfect partner and we have the perfect life. I mean the other "La La Land" or maybe it should be called "Na Na Land" representing all the "no, nada, didn't" aspects of my life. This "La La Land" is a place of "What if ... Why didn't I ... How come" bad neighborhoods, communities and destinations I don't want to visit. You see I hit one of those decades when you look around and wander... "What?" And for many people it's a time full of regrets. However, (I keep telling myself), my wanderings aren't about regrets because I did most of the things I've wanted to do. And yet, here I find myself in "Na Na Land" wandering "What? Why? How?" did my life become "TH

PERSPECTIVE

Have you ever had one of those days when little things loom so large? It's a day that starts with nothing you put on fits right. Pushed for time you try on and take, try on and take off. Then, when you finally decide on something and ask your partner (or roommate or sibling)... "How does this look?" And "fine, cool, or good" is one of the answers, it's not good enough. No matter which answer is uttered, it's not the answer that will make you feel like the crummy start of your day isn't ... the crummy start of your day. Or perhaps, your boss calls you into the office to express concern over an error you made. Not to give you grief or even reprimand you. Instead, simply ask you to "Please be careful not to make the same error again" and says, "It only stands out because your work is among the best in office." Still that part doesn't register. Or maybe, it's the first customer of the day that dares you say, "I hate the s