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Showing posts from October, 2020

HAPPINESS

Joy, laughter, fun are all opportunities to experience life in a positive way.  There’s no need to make a distinction, not sure I could if I tried.  The important thing is to find a way to incorporate joy, laughter, fun and/or happiness in your life for the most positive life possible.  For some it's hobbies, travel, dance or music.  For others it's family, intimate relationships, learning something new and even exercise.  No matter which route you to take to experience a positive life … be it joy, laughter, fun and/or happiness, just make sure it's a healthy route. Today we live in a society with inordinate sources of TV, internet and other media outlets that prompt, promote and actively seek to produce fractured, fake, facade representations of happiness. These facades of happiness are not limited to intimate (sexual) relationships, these can be familial, friendship and even work or business relationships.   Unfortunately, these productions seem to have an undue influence

POWER

The word has such dynamic energy. And I don't know about you, but pop culture has infused such a menacing association with power. Images of aliens with special power seizing the earth lead at the box office; power-hungry politicians hog the air waves and the internet. Companies with financial power wreak havoc on employees as well as those in "ownership' power of natural resources such as water, land and fuel. Then, there's the power certain class, color and cliques of people try to exert over other people. Yet, contrary to these adverse images, the word "power" itself has no negative energy. Instead, it's how we use power that makes the difference. In the course of a day there's kindness, caring and life saving power in the jobs people do. There's power in information shared and the support provided in hundreds of ways all over the world. It's how we use the energy of power that makes the difference. The power of mindfulness practice helps cr

COMIC

Comedians are pretty brave people. They get up in front of bunch strangers, oftentimes in places far from home, and tell jokes that nobody may laugh at, leaving the comedian looking lost and feeling awkward (so I've read). Likewise, I've heard it said that Hecklers make a bad experience even more challenging, especially during those sessions when nobody finds the comedian funny. It's got to be tough, being among strangers with no support. That's why I say comedians are brave and why I sometimes fantasize about being a comedian. It's not the accolades, the applauds or even the nominal fame that some Comedians reach.  Its being brave, being committed and the continued practice on good and bad days. There's a presumption that comedians (like clowns) are unhappy underneath the jokes (the makeup). The assumption is that comedians (clowns) hide behind funny to keep from crying. The perception may be cliche, although there have been several real life tragedies with com

YESTERDAY

Isn’t it weird, nay wonderful how the day before today, yesterday can seem so far away?  It’s phenomenal how you can wake up today and whatever was the before, is gone.  Whatever was yesterday is no more.  Parenthetically, some version of what was yesterday may still exist, a lost opportunity, a lesson learned, or a lovely day.  However, for better or worse, yesterday is done.  The Beatles didn’t stay together that long (not even 10 years), nevertheless The Fab Four made a solid and lasting impression in music.  Among their mega hits was the song “Yesterday” which has been used in a variety of romance movies, commercials, high school graduations, class reunions and other scenarios.   Music has the magic of meaning different things to different people.  In a sweep of nostalgia, this lithy somewhat haunting song of “Yesterday” may echo in my thoughts.  And although the song is called “Yesterday” for me it lends meaning to being present and appreciating the present, now moment. Indeed, th

HELPFUL

I work in the Client Services field. That means it's my job to service clients' needs: to be helpful. I really like my job because I really like helping people. It's not a glamorous job, not a well-paid job, and not important in the way nurses help people. However, I do know the job is helpful because Clients tell me so. That makes it a rewarding job. Then, there are those times my job helping people can make me feel helpless. It's perplexing because I don't go out into people's homes, or community centers or hospitals asking if they need my help. Instead, I'm available to any Client that asks for help; I'm literally waiting to be helpful. And yet even when a Client asks for help, some can't, won't or refuse to embrace the offered help. I feel helpless when this happens and wonder "Do they really want to be helped?" Of course, the answer won't be known; it's a hypothetical question to assuage my feeling of helplessness. I'm

FOCUS

Focus is an essential and necessary aspect of mindfulness practice.  Yet even one who practices daily can drop focus if not paying attention.  This was the case recently when I came across a co-worker outside work. Well to be fair the employee isn’t exactly a co-worker, we work in the same building.  And although I probably saw him at least once a day in the hall or near the elevator, we did not work together.  However, during mutual minutes spent waiting for the elevator we engaged in that kind of pleasant banter about the weather.  So, yes, it did come as a surprise which lead to a bubbling burst of embarrassment laughter when I did not recognize him outside the building.  In fact, when he approached with a greeting I stepped back, thinking for someone who did not know me, he was so close.  Realizing I did not recognize him, he offered the very same pleasantry we exchange at work while waiting for the elevator.  WOW! Was I ever embarrassed when I focused and recognized him.  I laughe

FIX

There are certain words in the English language that tip the scales of basic understanding.  Among the obvious are words such as hear, here, hare as well as where, wear, ware that distress many ESL (English as Second Language) students.  They question (rightfully so), the purpose (purposefulness) of having words that sound alike and mean absolutely different things.  I don’t believe explaining these as homonyms offer much clarity.  Nor does saying these are products of some long ago variations of the ole/old English.  The powers that be have decided the words belong in the dictionary and native as well second language speakers must learn the language by rote.  Later if you want to become an English teacher, linguist or writer you may need to tackle understanding those quirks of the language.  Learning English by rote is a necessary concession; a fix. The word "fix" can easily be associated with words like repair, regenerate and restore.  However, “a fix” more often than not

MUSIC

I recently discovered the Playing for Change music movement exchange and pure joy!  I read that the non-profit movement is “dedicated to inspire and connect the world through music” has been around since 2007.  You might ask “Where have you been?” The quick answer is, I’ve been happily listening to “oldies but goodies” (actually I was trying to find that last video concert of The Weight by The Band featuring The Staple Singers on YouTube). Nonetheless, the pure joy of this music came to my attention in perfect time. I love music and can’t imagine the world without music because music can do so much to improve the state of mind.  No doubt this part of the inspiration for the movement as both my state of mind and state in mind changed.   It's hard to put into words the magical music that is Stevie Wonder.   My Playing for Change: Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder) video was incredibly uplifting as I read the names of diverse musicians playing in their different countries, with diff

START

Sometimes you know you need to do something, yet you don’t know where to start.  You realize something has got to change, but you may not know what that something is.  One day you look up from what you're doing and think, this isn’t going to work anymore, something needs to change.  Still these thoughts may not be enough for you to take action.  You may tell yourself you don’t know where to begin.  And the basic truth is (that you’ve probably heard before), you simply start.  If its bike riding, you get a bike and start practicing.  If you want to travel, maybe start with a trip to the next big town and go on from there.  If you want a relationship, start with a smile which can open communication, and go from there.  It’s the same if you want to begin mindfulness practice, start from breath and go from there. Start your mindfulness practice with coming away to a quiet place.  Once in your quiet place, just be still.  Sit quietly in the stillness.  If thoughts come to mind, let them

ESSENTIAL

Water is life, life-sustaining and life-giving.  Every living thing must have water, if only a bit.  Water has special powers.  For example,  when you look at water you see and yet you don’t because water is clear.  Also, you can feel water, however, you can really touch water.  You can float on water, yet you start flapping around you’ll start to sink.  Maybe you’ve never paid much attention to water.  However, if you were to take some time to focus on water, you’d gain a greater appreciation for the special powers water has in your daily life; water is essential like breath. Like water, breath is essential to our being and this is why focusing on breathing can bring us center.  Mindfulness through daily practice engages breath to help move towards awareness and the opportunity to create better balance in your life.   Breathing is essential to life and mindfulness with focused breathing can help us center and awaken to the appreciation of the here, now, present moment. The intent, pur

OM

I n reviewing this blog I realize how much I strive to share the point that mindfulness is a simple practice.  It is:  quiet, stillness, focus on breath.  Indeed, mindfulness practice has some Zen qualities. Yet, I also want to be clear that mindfulness is  a practice.  Therefore, any benefits toward balance manifest when Practitioner does the practice.  The more you practice, the more readily you embrace mindfulness to help you center. Among the many insights I've learned about mindfulness, it's that one must make a commitment to practice in order to experience awareness.  Invariably, we all set parameters (guidelines) to help us reach particular goals. However, those parameters become meaningless when they block, blind and bind our mind, heart and spirit. Mindfulness doesn't require money, or special knowledge or even a lot of time. Mindfulness, in stillness, in quiet and in focused breathing is a way to keep mind, heart and spirit open to awareness in the here, now, pres

YOUTH

Parents are amazing people. I am absolutely mystified how they do it. There are so many elements, aspects, challenges to being a parent. Incredibly, it's practically a "learn as you go job" from the moment of conception. Oh sure, there are plenty of "how to" blogs, vlogs, podcasts, books, manuals, classes and time-honored resource of your own parents (soon to be grandparents).  Yes, it's true "It takes a village to raise a child" yet ultimately when everyone goes home to their hut, house, apt ..."the" parent is responsible to parent. In pondering the enormity of being a parent, I realized how wonderful it would be if part of that responsibility sees fit to teach mindfulness practice at a young age. The benefits would be bountiful, the most obvious sharing a practice with your child that can help keep them in balance for a lifetime. These days five-year olds know how to download an APP, why not know how to upload mindfulness? Mindfulness i

SIMPLE

The simple purpose of mindfulness practice is to help you towards better balance.  The practice   is so simple it does not require special equipment, location or a dress code.  Mindfulness is based on nature; the natural process of breathing. Nature is the surest path to our beginning, towards center and balance. The simple technique of mindfulness is to get into a quiet space, room (if possible; if not...just get quiet).  In the quiet, get still.  In the stillness focus on your breathing.  Naturally breathing in and out will help move you towards awareness and center you in the here, now, moment. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. “Nature is pleased with simplicity.”  Isaac Newton

ALTERNATIVE

If it's not magic then ... why do it?  Why not do something that works quicker and yields more fun like bar hopping? Why not just get a prescription? If something is bothering you, the quicker the relief, the better is the general reasoning. Why bother with mind exercises when you can take something to make you feel better and poof! Like magic the bother is gone. It's a very legitimate question and the answer very simple: we have a choice. Mindfulness is an option, optional, and for a great many people a healthy alternative. I'm not a doctor and have no medical training, so I refrain from saying mindfulness is a healthier choice for others. Nevertheless, the move towards healthy alternatives continues to gain momentum. Moreover, because we're all becoming smarter about self-help as well as self health, more options like healthy diets, regular exercise, meditation, yoga and mindfulness are becoming choice. Mindfulness is a practice, and practice requires commitment. The

MAGIC

I love the movies.  Everything changes, you move into a different place, and magic happens in the movies.  You suspend thought for 2 hours, rest your mind and imagination invites all kinds of possibilities.  The perfect couple torn apart by a silly misunderstanding are reunited to live happily ever after.  The evil witch (or warlock) loses power and children of The Lost Garden are able to go back home to loving parents.  The assassin gets distracted by a mouse in the deserted warehouse across the street and misses the shot that would have killed the country’s beloved leader.  Diseases are cured, superheroes live on and aliens find their way back home.  All in the magic of movies.  However, movies wouldn’t be successful if we weren’t able to shift our thoughts towards imgainition and embrace the magic.  In mindfulness we make the shift toward awareness to invite balance. Mindfulness and movies happen with the mind.  Movies are about being creative.  Mindfulness is about being in the mom

DELIGHT

Is there a place for mindfulness when life is going perfectly well?   On average most people feel just fine with their lives. In general, most of us would like to have more money, maybe a better body and a job we absolutely adore instead of one we basically accept in anticipation of the weekend. Given this there is always space for a little delight in our lives.   That’s life; or more to the point it’s a life.  Maybe you also have a memory (or a daydream) of waking up on spring day, sunshine streaming the window, the scent of flowers and the sound of trees dancing to the music of the wind.  On this day in spring you recognize “This is a day of delight” then declare the day off.  It’s a lovely free feeling and probably a good thing to do at least once a year.  It’s also a simple way to bring balance into your life. So the answer is yes.   Even when life feels just fine there is a place for mindfulness because we practice for better balance. It’s wonderful when we can declare days of del

GRATITUDE

I think people are starting to get it:  you don't have to complain. It's a choice. Or perhaps a knee-jerk reaction. There are times when things aren't going so well and it seems the thing to do is complain. For the most part we're not even aware we're complaining. The traffic is awful. The toilet broke as you're trying to get the children off to school. You missed the plane for an important meeting. A big pimple shows up on face the evening of a blind date. Your cat is lost. Your internet went down. There are so many things that go on in our daily lives that provide a choice to complain. And we do, complain, all of us. It's an auto-pilot reaction. And maybe it helps sometimes to relieve the stress. However, complaining rarely helps make that shift toward better balance. Gratitude can help make the shift. Mindfulness is a way to slow down knee-jerk reactions.  When we go with gratitude it doesn't mean you knee-jerk into a jolly, happy, all-is-right-in-the

BREATHE

Today was one of those days I really needed to remember … to breathe.  Simply.  Because what I really wanted was a glass of red wine. Simply.  I stopped drinking several years ago.  No, I  hadn’t reached the alcoholic stage, yet as the cliche suggest, practice enough and the thing becomes habit.  Moreover, I realized the drinking did little to help, block, or relieve whatever discomfort I was trying to stop.  Invariably, the red wine would make the issue more blatant. In my case, a quick drink was an easy way to calm, and a sure way to incapacitate  which left only enough mind to sulk, slip or sink into deeper discomfort.  Which is why I had to find a different way of dealing with discomfort on days like today:  breathe. It’s the practice that makes mindfulness work for and within me.    With practice I’ve learned to breathe at times I’d rather break a label on nice bottle of  Cabernet Sauvignon.   And although I write about the benefits of mindfulness, I try to make it clear it’s not

TADASANA

Sounds like a magic incantation.  In actuality it's sanskrit for “mountain pose” which reflects the rooted position of your feet providing a strong foundation.  Tadasana is a primary yoga pose which establishes the grounding for other poses.  The pose begins as a way to evenly distribute your weight between the right and left sides of your body to help settle and center and your body for a solid foundation.  Yoga, like mindfulness, is about helping you create better balance. I really appreciate the way my yoga instructo r explains the yoga poses in terms of how to position the physical body, the sanskrit meaning and how the practice helps to center.  It’s no coincidence that both yoga and mindfulness have many similar expressions, although techniques are different.  The practice also helps to establish a foundation through quiet, stillness and focused breath.  In doing so mindfulness establishes a steady standing to invite awareness and create better balance in now, present moment

INSPIRED

If there’s one lesson a writer must learn, it’s that “You can’t wait for inspiration to write” if you’re going to be productive. It’s essential to understand “A writer writes” and that’s the truth whether you aim to be a Pulitzer Prize Winner, a New York Times Best Seller or a successful Self-Published author.  Or for that matter, you may write “just because” writing is a creative outlet, or you’re keeping the family history or like telling stories on paper.  The point is, I remind myself from time to time that although writing is my passion, it only works with practice.  Invariably there are times of  inspired writing and then there those times of  little inspiration to write, and that's when I must practice. Mindfulness has little to do with awards or becoming successful as a result of your practice. So that may leave some feeling less inspired to practice “just because” mindfulness is a benefit toward balance.  Moreover, you may go along all day feeling fine and find no reason,

SOFTLY

Softly, softly. I can’t remember where I heard that phrase.  A popular movie line?  A famous poetic refrain?  A great speech?  It will come to mind when I go “softly, softly” releasing the effort to press hard for recall.  I’m guessing that was the context of the original phrase; embracing the concept of easily moving toward the goal.  Paradoxically, the concept that harder gets better results is more widely accepted. Perhaps it depends on the situation which concept is appropriate. Indeed, in mindfulness it's not how hard you work, it's how committed you are to the practice.  I can remember first being introduced to mindfulness practice in a group setting and how several people were hard pressed to “get it” and get on to the next steps.  However, the facilitator explained “softly, softly” (that was not the exact phrase) was the approach for best benefit.  I for one, was very glad to hear that; it suited my spirit and I’ve continued the practice in many years since that initial

RAINDROPS

It’s time.  Already?  Yep!  Already? Where did the time go? Ever have one of those moments, days or weeks when you wonder “Where did the time go?”  You walk pass a store window and realize, WOW…Is it that time of the year already?  Again?  Where does the time go?  Or maybe you get a whiff of something in the kitchen and it takes you back to a childhood?  Or you run into a friend from school; college, high school or even grade school and you wonder, Where did the time go? All those moments. I realized today how I most often write about mindfulness in terms of how the practice helps to calm, clear and clean the mind.  I also write to share about awareness, insights and awakening through mindfulness.  I write to invite others to experience the balance mindfulness can help restore through regular practice.  I write about how even a few minutes of mindfulness can help in times of stress, anxiety, or discomfort to center mind, body and spirit in the now, present, moment.  Yet, I’m not sure

THERAPY

I laughed so hard I felt like a new person. That's laughter for you. Real, authentic laughter can make you feel more alive. Real, authentic laughter can make you forget whatever might be bothering you. Real, authentic laughter is a release. Real, authentic laughter can be a relief. Indeed, in recent years laughter has been established as a type of therapy. I love to laugh out loud; that real, authentic laughter that comes from the belly and through the heart. I can attest from my own personal experience, laughter is healing. Technically, I'm not sure if mindfulness is classified as therapy. Yet, I'm absolutely clear that mindfulness is therapeutic and healing. In the way that therapy can heal and reset balance to a cracked bone, a depressed mind or a broken heart, mindfulness can be therapeutic. In mindfulness the quiet time, in stillness, paying attention to breathing is a restorative practice that moves toward awareness for better balance in the here, now, present moment.

CLEAR

 It's like I'm back there again. It was a tough time and memory can feel so real. It's like I'm back there again. That's because I started feeling that way again. I remember having such a heavy heart. I did what I know - prayers, meditation and yoga to help make it go away. And you know what? My suffering was so - well I won't say unnecessary because it's what I did at the time. Yet, I do understand choosing to suffer is an option. Indeed, the yoga, prayer and meditation helped - a lot. My heavy heart would have been heavier and it would have taken longer to remember to practice what I preach. Mindfulness is the way. We all have times of challenged. Times when we just can't seem to shake off what's bothering us. It's a part of the human experience none of us escapes. Yet, we have the option not to suffer and techniques that can help if we make that choice. More often than not, mindfulness will help me move into better balance. Prayers can help me

HUGS

Ever have one of those days when you just need a big hug?   So what happens when there’s no one around to give you that hug?  Do you fall into sadness?  Do you eat, drink or maybe just veg out in front of a screen?  Or maybe you call or go visit a friend (if so … good for you).  However, chances are if you need a big hug, you're not in a chat or visiting mode.  So what do you do?   Have you ever thought of giving yourself a hug?  After all, a hug is a loving expression of kindness, and if you’re not kind to yourself, then who? Similarly the practice of mindfulness is a kindness to self.  In mindfulness you take time to “just be” with self.  The amount of time is your choice, be it 15, 30 minutes or more mindfulness is an opportunity for kindness to self.  In the quiet, and the stillness you focus on breath and you become calm.  This practice does not require you sit a special way, or visualize, or pray.  In mindfulness you simply set aside thoughts, focus on your breathing and embr

ATTENTION

Have you ever experienced talking with someone and then suddenly see they aren’t paying attention to you?  I don’t mean being in a conversation with someone whose attention is called away by a crying child.  Nor is it the case of a loud sound like a car crash that disrupts the attention.  And I’m certainly not talking about someone who wasn't paying attention in the first place because they were eating, or watching a movie, or just walked in the door after a long day.  I am talking about being in the midst of a conversation with someone whose eyes suddenly dart across your shoulder...at whatever.  Or the person who looks down at their phone longer than it takes to silence a call or text. Or maybe it’s that person who starts digging in their briefcase or purse as though gold were at the bottom. Any one of these scenarios shows a lack of courtesy, kindness and the ability to pay attention.  I recently experienced this and were it not for mindfulness, I would have been left “feeling s

PRACTICE

“Our religion doesn't do that kind of thing," I was told. I'd just shared a little information about mindfulness. I was speaking with an older person (maybe an auntie type) about ways to help create balance which can help us feel better in general. Admittedly, the reply seemed more like a rebuff and I considered because it was an older person she might have misunderstood my explanation. Or perhaps my explanation wasn't as clear and simple as I thought. Still, although I basically thought the misinterpretation had something to do with an age gap, the taut reply wasn't that unusual. In fact, one of my purposes in sharing about mindfulness is to give some clarity about the practice. This is especially relevant as there seems to be a generic idea that mindfulness is connected to religion or a religious perspective. As a matter of course, religious and non-religious people practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice open to all. The simple requirements are a persona

PARK

A walk in the park and I thought, “Oh, yes!  That’s why they call it a park!” and “Oh, yes, That’s why they call it mindfulness!” Where would we be without parks?  In a vacant lot?  Trying to walk leisurely over rocks and boulders?  Holding the breath passing filthy landfills, instead of breathing in fragrant lavender of a park garden?  As I strolled the park one early morning, taking in the green of the grass, the tall trunks of the trees, the beautiful colors and fragrance of the blossoming flowers, I realized not only why we have parks, I felt how important it is “to park” our mind.  That is to go to the park, to be in the park , to park a nd just be.   The concept that comes to consciousness is “stop and smell the roses” (or any other flower that might be in your space).   Mindfulness, I thought, is also be an opportunity “to park” - a time to stop, focus on breath and embrace awareness. In the still presence of my park experience came an insight and simple truth about the nature o

DREAMS

I don’t dream.  I always tell people that, when actually what I need to say is that “I don’t remember my sleeping dreams”... because we all dream.  Really whether or not I dream when I sleep hasn’t mattered that much.  What does matter are the dreams of my heart because those are the dreams that give life meaning and purpose.  Yes, I've heard the psycho-pseudo-sensory premise that hidden in your sleeping dreams are meanings to your waking life .  There is probably-absolutely-most likely great truth in that line of thought because I believe we get help from various and varied sources to help us with this thing called life.  Which is why it’s important and necessary to have dreams; both kinds. Mindfulness is not a dream state.  The quiet, the stillness and the focused breathing can bring you to a state of rest, calm and serenity.  However, although not a dream state mindfulness can invite insight.  After all I see dreams as the “inner sight:  the in-side desires of our heart” we see

AWAKENING

There can be so many buzzwords, jargon and lingo is connected to practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness associated with “keeping it simple,” breathing and helping us to center.  Those familiar with these practices may have grown accustomed to using the expressions such as intention, awareness and awakening.  I contemplated how overwhelming or even stressful it might be for some seeking such resources to have to wade through the lingo.  So I challenged myself to pick an often used expression and explain it in a brief and simple sentence:  awakening. Awakening is a transformative experience toward appreciation of the new, now, moment.    Mindfulness through practice in quiet, stillness and focused breathing can support intention and invite awareness toward awakening of the now, present moment. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. Every night, when I go to sleep, I die. Every morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.

AWARENESS

There can be so many buzzwords, jargon and lingo is connected to practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness associated with “keeping it simple,” breathing and helping us to center.  Those familiar with these practices may have grown accustomed to using the expressions such as intention, awareness and awakening.  I contemplated how overwhelming or even stressful it might be for some seeking such resources to have to wade through the lingo.  So I challenged myself to pick an often used expression and explain it in a brief and simple sentence:  awareness. A wareness is setting thinking aside 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. Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future.  -Eric Berne