"Breathing brings you home. Body and mind twine together in the breath. As soon as you become aware of breathing you're in your body. Speed up the breath and there's new energy. Slow it down and you calm. Inhale and oxygen surges into your brain while the arousing sympathetic nervous system activates and accelerates the heartbeat. Exhale and activate the soothing peaceful parasympathetic nervous system, so the heart beats more slowly. In the breath, you are home in this moment, this Now.
The breath feels like life inside. No wonder it's been traditionally linked to spiritual matters. To "inspire" is to inhale - in "inspirit," to uplift.
The breath is always available as an object of attention, whether formally in meditation or informally as a way to recenter yourself. Track the breath in yourself and know yourself more deeply. Track the breath in other and know them more deeply.
If all else fails and your mind is screaming in pain or blown open in chaos, there is still the breath. Sometimes all you can do is breathe and know that you are still breathing. One breath at a time. Just getting through this breath. And then the next.
Plus, in the knowing of breathing, there is awareness of awareness, not metaphysically or cosmically but as a refuge - if need be, or last resort. "
August 18, 2020
"Meditations from the Mat,"
"Preeminent hatha yoga teacher B.K.S. lyengar calls faith a "yoga vitamin," and patience is truly an unsung aspect of faith. Our practice takes us into the unknown. WE deliberately head out into new terrain, off the charts of our familiar world. Such exploration calls for radical faith. But our faith need not be without some underpinning. Shakespeare reminds us that we heal by degrees. We will have bad days and good days, in practice as in life. Sometimes the progress of yesterday seems to have evaporated today. And yet there is always movement. As long as we show up and do the work, healing will happen. This is the message but we must be willing to hear it. We must be prepared to bear witness, patiently, to the degrees by which we move forward. AS we learn to celebrate these moments in our practice, we refine our appreciation for subtlety and learn to appreciate growth in those around us as well. And as we practice patience on our mats, our ability to stay with difficult postures - both on and off the mat - grows.
Try it: breathing here and now, recognize that awareness is a field or space in which contents come and go, such as the sensations of breathing. You can see directly that no matter what arises and passes away, awareness remains, undamaged and unstained, like the sky that is never harmed by the storm clouds passing through it. When times are terrible, try to be the observing, the awareness, to get some space from the pain and sustain a sense of being intact in your core. You can do this as well when times are good, which will help you both to stay in the sweet spot of enjoying without tipping into the suffering of wanting, and to strengthen your grounding in awareness for when things fall apart.
The simplest job in the world. One breath at a time.
What a relief!
July 27, 2020
"Find Happiness in Everything You Do,"
"Find happiness in nature
in the beauty of a mountain
in the serenity of the sea.
Find happiness in friendship
in the fun of doing things together
in the sharing and understanding.
Find happiness in your family
in the stability of knowing that someone cares
in the strength of love and honesty.
Find happiness in yourself
in your mind and body
in your values and achievements.
Find happiness in everything you do."
Susan Polis Schutz
October 8, 2020
"Meditations from the Mat"
"The eight-limb path in yoga is all about behavior. It’s about our actions, not our good intentions. If we want self-esteem, we must do estimable things. The emphasis is on the doing. Hafez, a fourteenth-century Sufi poet, suggests that we act great all the time. He doesn’t suggest that we wait around until we feel good and then, with the necessary “feeling-good” momentum, begin acting great. He urges us to act great whether we feel good or not. And short of that ideal, we ought to fake it until we make it. Whether we are practicing contentment on a bad day, muddling through the first yoga class of our lives, or are sitting in meditation watching our mind run around in circles, the key is the same: just do it. If you want to be graceful in your movements, don’t listen to the negative self-talk. Instead, act as if. Take up space, be grand, act great. Move with exaggerated grace and precision, and before long your body will get with the program. If you want to practice moderation, spend less, eat more slowly, take your to-do list and cut it in half, make a beginning. WE can count on the new and the unfamiliar to be awkward. But the awkwardness of that first step is no reason for us to deny ourselves the opportunity to have balance in a given area of our lives. We will have the degree of grace in our lives that we permit ourselves to have."
- Rolf Gates & Katrina Kenison
October 5, 2020
"Loosen Your Grip," Mindful Magazine
"Life offers many uncertainties that can threaten our safety and well-
Controlling the mayhem makes a certain amount of sense, doesn’t it?
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everybody just did what you
said? Sadly, not everyone responds positively to being told what to
do and how to do it. Even by you. The puzzling thing is, the more you
try to control people – even for their own good – the more they push
back. Why won’t they follow the route you so carefully Map quested
for them? Why don’t they eat their greens or vote the way you want
them to? The more they resist, the more you lean in - and then it’s
resentment all around.
Here’s the thing about our inner control freak: It is doing a valiant job
trying to keep us, and those around us safe. Sometimes. But other
times, if we are acting out of habit, we close ourselves off from seeing
and experiencing new things. We don’t necessarily need to banish
our inner control freak, but we do need to say mindful of how it’s
motivating us to behave.
More than likely, your desire to control springs from the best of
intentions. Please thank yourself. You probably do see a better, faster
way, and that’s wonderful. Just remember to pay attention. Notice the
body sensations that fire up when your inner controller starts to freak.
Ask yourself if you really do need to take over or whether you can let
things develop on their own.
Learn to love letting go."
- Elaine Smookler
October 1, 2020
“Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit;
the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their
fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. We are
all born to help each other. No matter how difficult it is…Life is good
when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because
- Pope Francis
September 24, 2020
Kitchen Table Wisdom
Life is the ultimate teacher, but it is usually through experience and not scientific research that we discover its deepest lessons. A certain percentage of those who have survived near-death experiences speak of a common insight which afforded a glimpse of life’s basic lesion plan. We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. We can do this through losing as well as through winning, by having and by not having, by succeeding or by failing. All we need to do is to show up openhearted for class.
- Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
September 21, 2020
The idea that mindfulness can have meaning for someone with a demanding job, endless responsibilities, and any one of a variety of religious orientations – or no religion at all – might seem absurd. After all, even if there were some benefit to the practice, who has the time? Right away we can dispel the notion that mindfulness is time-consuming. In fact, it is time-enhancing and can be practiced anywhere, in the blink of an eye. Mindfulness is the art of observing your physical, emotional, and mental experience with deliberate, open, and curious attention.
In practicing mindfulness, you are not trying to change who you are, but to become more fully present with your experiences – with your body, thoughts, and feelings and with their impact on your life. In the process, you are likely to get to know yourself better, learn to relax and detach from stress, and find a way to navigate the intense pressures you may face. Through such increased awareness, you may also become more discerning of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and that awareness will give you greater opportunity to make a positive change if you wish to do so.
- Susan L. Smalley & Diana Winston
September 17, 2020
Mindfulness practice begins inside a single individual. Each of us, working to regulate our attention, reduce our reactivity, and cultivate more positive emotions, can improve our own health and happiness. With this individual focus, mindfulness may appear to be just a self-improvement technique, but it is much more than that. Not only is mindfulness a valuable tool for seeing our thoughts, feelings, and habitual patterns more clearly, but it is from this knowledge, coupled with reflection and kindness, that wisdom and compassion emerge. It is in our actions and our interactions with others and the planet that the effects of mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion can ripple around the world.
- Susan L. Smalley & Diana Winston
September 14, 2020
Your body is the doorway to mindfulness. As you may have noticed by now, your mind can be anywhere at any time – brooding over the past or thinking about the future. And perhaps, like so many people, you know what it is to live on automatic pilot – sleepwalking through life and not truly living it, and are familiar with the state of being distracted, lost in thinking, imagining, planning, and worrying. Your body, by contrast, is always in the present moment, so bringing attention to it brings you automatically into the present. The task is to turn your attention to this reality, to put your attention on your body and become aware of whatever sensations you may encounter.
Of course, each time you return to your breathing, you are returning to your body – becoming aware of the rising/falling sensations in your abdomen or chest or the in/out sensations in your nostrils. Perhaps you access your body through your breathing, feeling connected and present in the breath. Or maybe noticing the varied bodily sensations has a similar effect.
- Susan L. Smalley & Diana Winston
September 9, 2020
"Navigating," Daily OM
"We are all in the same boat. WE just have different paddles, and perhaps we find ourselves on different rivers. We all live in human bodies – these are the vehicles in which we move through our world. We are all made of flesh, blood, and bone, with brains, hearts, and lungs to power us. Our paddles (that is, the tools we use to move through the world) vary, as do the bodies of water in which we find ourselves.
Some of us harness our high IQs to get where we want to go. Some of us use our smiles; others employ kindness, a gift with language, or athletic ability. Many of these qualities we were born with, and others are skills we have learned.
Just as with oars of paddles, a balanced approach is best. If you rely too much on one thing, such as beauty, to open doors, you fail to be well rounded and may eventually fail to maintain your equilibrium. This is inspiration to develop multiple tools to navigate your world.
We have all felt, at one time or another, tossed about on a stormy ocean. Through all of this, we are never really alone, even though it might seem so. There is inspiration everywhere around us in the form of other people making their way in the world in the very same boat. Remember to look around you for role models, companionship, and encouragement."
- Madisyn Taylor
September 3, 2020
"Being Aware," Daily OM
"Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing. We observe ourselves, noticing our actions, reactions, and choices as if we were a detached viewer. Awareness is the first step in the direction of transformation because we cannot make a change unless we are conscious that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change, since we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behaviors.
Freedom comes with awareness. Rather than thinking we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we very much play a hand in creating our lives. Whether we are mindful of them or not, our choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present lo longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware. We are then free to move beyond our old limits, make different choices, and take new actions. Our paths cannot help but wind us forward in our lives while paving the way for novel experiences and ways of being. It is through awareness that we can continue to consciously evolve."
- Madisyn Taylor
August 31, 2020
"Soft and Strong,"
"When I want to summon strength and power in the midst of awfulness and hate, I contemplate water. Our ideas of strength so often surround images of things that are hard – like rock of even a clenched fist. Perhaps that’s why we think love doesn’t include strength, just softness. We are thinking in only one dimension. That’s why I think of water, in all its manifestations. Look at the many ways we experience water: It trickles, spurts, floods, pours, streams, soaks, and shows itself in many more modes. All these convey evanescence, release, flow. They are
all about not being stuck.
Water is flexible, taking the shape of whatever vessel it flows into. It’s always interacting, changing, in motion, yet revealing continual patterns of connection. Water can be so expressive, a signal of our most heartfelt feelings. We cry tears of
sorrow, tears of outrage, tears of gratitude, and tears of joy. Water can be puzzling, seeming weak or ineffectual, yielding too much, not holding firm. And yet over time water will carve its own pathway, even through rock. And yes, water freezes. But it also melts.
Human beings have always found uplift and inspiration in metaphors, like water, but we also take inspiration from other people, and their strength and resiliency in the face of difficult circumstances – the ways in which they unfreeze themselves and make change. Not just in one way, but in as many ways as water
August 27, 2020
"Just One Thing,"
"Being the body is simply telling a truth. What we experience being –
thoughts and feelings, memories and desires, and consciousness itself –
is constrained, conditioned, and constructed by the body via its nervous system.
The fabric of your mind is woven by your body.
Further, being aware of your body and its signals gives you useful information
about your deeper feelings and needs.
Tracking your body's subtle reactions to others also tells you a lot about them.
Coming home to your body helps you feel grounded,
and it gives you reassuring feedback that you're alive and basically alright.
It's exhilarating to feel the vitality of the body, even sitting quietly,
and to experience the pleasures of the senses.
In particular, experiencing your body as a whole –
as a single, unified gestalt in awareness, with all its sensations appearing together at once –
activates networks on the sides of your brain.
These lateral networks pull you out of the planning, worrying,
obsessing, fantasizing, and self-referential thinking – "me, myself, and I" –
that's driven by another neural network in the middle of the brain.
Consequently, abiding as the whole body draws you into the present moment,
reduces stress, increases mindfulness, and lowers the sense of self
to help you take life less personally."
August 24, 2020
"Mindfulness in Plain English,"
"Concentration is often called one-pointedness of mind. It consists of forcing the mind to remain on one static point. Please note the word force. Concentration is pretty much a forced type of activity. It can be developed by force, by sheer unremitting willpower. And once developed, it retains some of that forced flavor. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is a delicate function leading to refined sensibilities. These two are partners in the job of meditation. Mindfulness is the sensitive one. It notices things. Concentration provides the power. It keeps the attention pinned down to one item. Ideally, mindfulness is in this relationship. Mindfulness picks the objects of attention, and notices when the attention has gone astray. Concentration does the actual work of holding the attention steady on that chosen object. If either of these partners is weak, your meditation goes astray."
- Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
July 23, 2020
"Believe in What Makes You Happy," Dena Dilaconi
"Believe in what makes you feel good.
Believe in what makes you happy.
Believe in the dreams you’ve always wanted to come true, and
give them every chance to.
Life holds no promises as to what will come your way.
You must search for your own ideals and work toward reaching
Life makes no guarantees as to what you’ll have.
It just gives you time to make choices and to take chances and to
discover whatever secrets that might come your way.
If you are willing to take the opportunities you are given and utilize
the abilities you have, you will constantly fill your life with special
moments and unforgettable times. No one knows the mysteries of life of its ultimate meaning, but for those who are willing to believe in their dreams and in
themselves, life is a precious gift in which anything is possible."
- Dena Dilaconi
July 22, 2020
"Reach Out for Your Dreams," Diane Westlake
"You are equal to all others
Some may have greater talents and power where you are lacking
but you are greater in areas where they cannot go.
Do not stop your own growth and progression by trying to
Step out with courage.
Develop all that you are meant to be.
Look for new experiences…meet new people.
Learn to add all new dimensions to your present and future.
You are one of a kind…equal to every other person.
Accept that fact – live it – use it – stand tall in belief of who you
Reach for the highest accomplishment.
Touch it – grasp it.
Know it is within your ability.
Live to win in life and you will."
- Diane Westlake
July 21, 2020
"Walk Slowly," Danna Faulds
"It only takes a reminder to breathe, a moment to be still, and just
like that, something in me settles, softens, makes space for
imperfection. The harsh voice of judgement drops to a whisper
and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race; that we will all
cross the finish line; that waking up to life is what we were born
for. As many times as I forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going, that many times I can
make the choice to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk slowly into
- Danna Faulds
July 20, 2020
"Control," Daily OM
"Trying to maintain control in this life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.
As with so many seemingly simple things in life, it is not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can’t control. Most of us feel a great discomfort with the givens of this life, one of which is the fact
that much of the time we have no control over what happens. Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact and all our attempts to be in control are revealed to be unnecessary burdens. We can also cultivate this awareness in ourselves, gently, by simply making surrender a daily practice. We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this great
mystery with courage. When we see people on a roller coaster, we see that there are those with their faces tight with fear and then there are those that smile broadly, with their hands in the air, carried through the ride on a wave of freedom and joy. This powerful image reminds us that often the only control we have is choosing how we are going to
respond to the ride."
July 16, 2020
"Right Here," Dane Anthony
"Stop moving. Stand in on place – this place.
Breathe slowly; in, then out. Repeat.
Repeat again. Let your shoulders sink and relax.
Unclench your jaw; slowly close your eyes.
Listen for your heartbeat; really listen.
Feel it pulse in your fingertips.
Under-do all your efforts.
Requisition the time for your soul to catch up.
Lean into the wind; feel it like a tree and test the ground.
Learn to trust the resilience.
It would be treason to move quickly – left or right – from this place. It is alright to be exactly what you are,
who you are, where you are.
Right here, right now."
July 13, 2020
"Removing Obstructions," Daily OM
"There are times when we may not feel at our best and brightest. At those times, we can take a look at what we might do to let our inner light shine to the fullest. Because we are physical, mental and spiritual beings, we need to determine where our spiritual light is being filtered
or blocked. We can work from the outside inward, knowing that we are the only ones with the power to dim our lights, and as we clear away the layers we can get out of our own way to feel the warmth of our
own light shining again.
AS vehicles for our mind and spirit, our bodies require proper maintenance. Caring for ourselves is like polishing – helping to clear away the accumulation of physical debris that keeps us from operating at our fullest capacity. A simple shift in our thoughts can positively affect our mental state, moving from complaints to gratitude and applying the powerful light of love to any shadowy thoughts.
Once we are free of our restrictions, we can become still and connect to the power at the center of our being. It is always there for us, but when we forget to connect, or siphon our power in too many
directions, we cannot make the most of our energy. Starting from the inside out may direct us to take the right steps for our journeys back to the light, but sometimes it can be difficult to find the stillness if our bodies and minds are in the way. AS we practice steps to keep our energy flowing freely and without obstruction, we shine our light brightly, illuminating our own paths and making the world around us glow as well."
July 9, 2020
"Happiness isn’t about being upbeat all the time. Instead, think of it as a trait – one that helps you to recognize even the tiniest moments of joy, to fully embrace the good stuff in life without pause, and to know that even when things aren’t going well, this hard time, too, shall pass. It’s also something that can be cultivated. Why is this important? Science shows us that happiness is one of the best defenses against hardship. It creates resiliency, and it also allows us, by not getting stuck in a negative state, to see opportunities.
The key to uncovering happiness is to be on the lookout for the sweet moments in life, big and small, and to really take them in. The friendly exchange with a stranger. The Spring sun on your face after a long Winter. The sense of uplift from a job well done. Start taking notice of these everyday moments, and bask in their glow for a beat or two. The more easily you can identify even the simplest of joys in life, the more of them you’ll discover, everywhere.
There is no experience more uplifting than giving. At the base of generosity is compassion, which research finds has a direct impact on well-being. Your act of generosity very well might inspire someone else to act kindly toward another. Try smiling at a stranger, tell a friend that you appreciate them, or tell a loved on how much they mean to you. It all adds up – and to your happiness quotient."
July 7, 2020
"The Mindfulness Summit,"
by Melli O’Brien
"We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can change how we
respond to it.
We can choose to cultivate kindness, peach and resilience, even in these
You can choose it today.
May you be safe and protected in this time.
May you find ease, connection and calm in the middle of it all."
July 6, 2020
“Being Aware is the First Step,” Daily OM
"Life is a journey comprised of many steps on our personal path that takes
us down a winding road of constant evolution. And each day, we are
provided with a myriad of opportunities that can allow us to transform into
our next best selves. We may make the same choices over and over again
because we don’t know how to choose otherwise. Rather than moving us
forward, our personal paths may take us in a seemingly never-ending circle
where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already
been. It is during these moments that awareness can be the first step to
change. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are
doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change because we are longer
asleep to the truth behind our behaviors."
June 18, 2020
"Clearing Your Mind,"
"After a full day, stories, words, images, and songs from any number of sources continue to play in our heads hours after we encounter them.
Even as we lie in bed, in the quiet dark, our minds continue noisily processing all the input from our day. This can leave us feeling unsettled and harassed.
It also makes it difficult to take in any new information or inspiration. Like a cluttered house that needs to be cleared if it is to have room for movement and new life, our minds need clearing if they are to be open to new information, ideas and inspiration.
Too often, the activities we choose to help us relax only add to the clutter. Watching TV, reading a book, or talking to a friend all involve taking in MORE information. In order to really clear our minds, we need a break from mental stimulation. Yoga, dancing, or taking a long walk help to draw our attention to our bodies, slowing our mental activity enough that our minds begin to settle. Deep breathing is an even simpler way to draw attention away from our mental activities. Once we are mentally relaxed, we can begin the process of clearing our minds.
Setting aside time to clear our minds once a day creates a ritual that becomes “second nature” over time. Our minds will begin to settle with less effort the more we practice. Ultimately, the practice of clearing our minds allow us to be increasingly more open so that we can perceive the world, free of yesterday’s mental clutter."
June 15, 2020
Lama Surya Das
"What makes for lasting happiness –
Cultivating gratitude. Particularly effective is writing down something each day for which you feel grateful
Reframing difficult experiences positively. This, of course is the old practice of looking for the silver lining
Generosity. The old wisdom is true—in giving to others we give to ourselves, and the happy result is a 'helper’s high.'"
June 14, 2020
"Life," Daily OM
"Many of us long to find a spiritual teacher or guru. The good news is that the greatest teacher you could ever want is always with you – that is your life.
The people and situations we encounter every day have much to teach us when we are open to receiving their wisdom. Often we don’t recognize our teachers because they may not look or act like our idea of a guru, yet they may embody great wisdom. In addition, some people teach us by showing us what we don’t want to do. All the situations in our lives, from the insignificant to the major, conspire to teach us exactly what we need to be learning at any given time. Patience, compassion, perseverance, honesty, letting go – all these are covered in the classroom of the teacher that is your life.
We might take some time each day to consider what our lives are trying to teach us at this time. A difficult phase in your relationship with your child may be teaching you to let go. The homeless person you see every day may be showing you the boundaries of your compassion and generosity. A spate of lost items may be asking you to be more present to physical reality. Trust your intuition on the nature of the lesson at hand, work at your own pace, and ask as many questions as you want.
Your life has all the answers."
June 11, 2020
"Every craftsperson has a toolbox full of tools and a number or techniques to help them bring inspiration into form.
In the same way, throughout our lives, we have discovered our own life tools and techniques – the ways and means that have helped us create our lives up to this point. Sometimes we forget about the tools and skills we’ve acquired, and we wonder why we aren’t moving forward. At times like these, it might just be a matter of remembering what we already know, and rediscovering the tools we already have at our disposal.
In order for ideas to be powerful, they must be imbued with the energy or our engagement with them, and in order for tools to be effective they must be put to use. This sounds obvious, but often we fall into the habit of thinking we are engaging with ideas and using tools by virtue of the fact that we are reading about them, or listening to other people talk about them. In truth, using our tools is a very personal action, one we must take on behalf of ourselves. Like artist, we are each unique and no two of us will receive the same inspiration, nor will we bring it into form in the same two ways. To discover the truth of our own vision, we must take action by remembering our tools and putting them to use."
- Madisyn Taylor
June 10, 2020
"There are times in every life when we feel hurt or alone…
But I believe that these times when we feel lost and all around us seems
to be falling apart are really bridges of growth.
We struggle and try to recapture the security of what was,
but almost in spite of ourselves, we emerge on the other side
with a new understanding, a new awareness, a new strength.
It is almost as though we must go through the pain and the struggle in order to grow
and reach new heights."
June 4, 2020
"When we soften into the idea of new possibilities we can shift our perspective.
It is the capacity for positive observation that can carry and support us, even in times of uncertainty."
- Eileen Fischer
June 4, 2020
"Peeling Away the Layers"
"Trees grow up through their branches and down through their roots into the earth. They also grow wider with each passing year. AS they do, they shed the bark that served to protect them but now is no longer big enough to contain them. IN the same way, we create boundaries and develop defenses to protect ourselves and then, at a certain point, we outgrow them. If we don’t allow ourselves to shed our protective layer, we can’t expand to our full potential.
Trees need their protective bark to enable the delicate process of growth and renewal to unfold without threat. Likewise, we need our boundaries and defenses so that the more vulnerable parts of ourselves can safely heal and unfold. But our growth also depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need. It is often the case in life that structures we put in place to help us grow eventually become constricting.
Unlike a tree, we must consciously decide when it’s time to shed our bark and expand our boundaries, so we can move into our next ring or growth. Many spiritual teachers have suggested that our egos don’t disappear so much as they become large enough to hold more than just our small sense of self – the boundary of self widens to contain people and being’s other than just “me.” Each time we shed a layer of defensiveness or ease up on a boundary that we no longer need, we metaphorically become bigger people. With this in mind, it is important that we take time to question our boundaries and defenses. While it is essential to set and honor the protective barriers we have put in place, it is equally important that we soften and release them when the time comes. In doing so, we create the space for our next phase of growth."
June 2, 2020
"Fully Present" by Susan L. Smalley, PhD & Diana Winston
"A world-renowned psychiatrist once posed a question to a room full of mental health experts. He asked, “What is the ‘seat belt’ of mental health?” Seat belts save lives; buckling up is a simple thing to do to protect ourselves from physical harm. What is the comparable tool to protect us from the mental hazards of life? What is the seat belt to protect against unhappiness, depression, anxiety, pain, and suffering?
Mindfulness may be the mental “seat belt” that protects us along the bumpy, twisting, turning road of life, whether we encounter unexpected drop-offs, terrible accidents, or smooth sailing.
A mindful mental state differs from being lost in thoughts of the past or future or acting on “autopilot.” To “practice mindfulness” is to exercise or work on honing this state of mind. We all probably agree that that sounds like a good idea; after all, who wants to be unaware or unconscious of their own experiences? Yet, as we will see, consciousness is pretty elusive and difficult to define scientifically, and it changes all the time. We think we know something one day only to discover that what we thought we knew was not quite right. We constantly “wake up” to knowledge, shifting from ignorance to awareness. What we are conscious of changes constantly."
June 1, 2020
"Fully Present" by Susan L. Smalley, PhD & Diana Winston
"Mindfulness may be thought of as a state of consciousness, one characterized by attention to present experience with a stance of open curiosity. It is a quality of attention that can be brought to any experience. Mindfulness can be cultivated through explicit practices, such as meditation, yoga or t’ai chi, or even through creative processes in the arts or walking in nature. Mindfulness can also be enhanced less explicitly by adopting a generally mindful approach to life. As you learn the principles and techniques of mindfulness, you can apply them to any moment in the day, whether you are eating, driving, showering or sending an email.
The research exploring mindfulness, although still relatively new, is demonstration that repeated practice can lead to changes in our lives, including:
-Reducing chronic physical pain
-Dealing with negative emotions like anger, fear and greed
-Improving attention or concentration
-Enhancing positive emotions, including happiness and compassion
-Enhancing performance, whether in work, sports or academics
-Stimulating and releasing creativity
-Changing positively the actual structure of our brains
The emerging research on mindfulness makes it sound like a cure-all for whatever ails us, and perhaps it could be considered a simple solution for complex problems. Although mindfulness does not remove the ups and downs of life, it changes how experiences influence you and how you influence the experience. In other words, mindfulness changes your relationship to life. Learning to live mindfully does not mean living in a “perfect” world, but rather, living a full and contented life in a world in which both joys and challenges are a given."
May 28, 2020
"A Twisting Path"
"If you trek into the wilderness and look around with a careful gaze, you will see that the trees, flowers, and even the rocks have a tendency to flow: There is the arc of the branch that leads to the blossom, the smooth dip in a rock formation, the gnarled knot in a tree trunk, and the forking of shoots. As nature is overflowing with curves, corners, knots, and unexpected directions, so are our lives filled with unpredictable twists and turns.
While you may find yourself briefly on a straight path, there is a sure to be a sudden change in route up ahead. The journey of life does not necessarily always bring you closer to your goals. In fact, sometimes you may find yourself backtracking or meandering off in the new direction.Since there is no way to foretell the outcome of your journey (just as there is no way to predict the way a new bud will form), living is in itself the path to wisdom.
Like a nature trail, this path can lead to unexpected destination. You may be faced with direct questions such as "Who an I?" and "What is of value to me?" Or you may find yourself acquiring the answer to them through everyday experiences. The route to wisdom is only blocked when you expect it to be a straight line. It is important to remember that plans and predictions are not rigid, and as your world grows in complexity, they like are likely to change. It is therefore necessary to be open to a multitude of different paths. Obstacles, weariness, curiosity, or circumstances may cause you to alter your direction abruptly. There may be forks along the wya where you will need to make significant decisions based on the counsel of your inner voice.
There are both long and short roads that are somethings curves and sometimes straight. Enjoy and learn from the adventure. Often when you look at nature, the beauty is in the unexpected. No two plants or minerals are exactly the same, and even the smallest bud curve gracefully. The winding path is often the most interesting one. The lesson you can take from that is to avoid becoming attached to what "needs" to happen and remain flexible as you continue on your journey. If you are determined to achieve certain goals, you will do so, no matter how many twists and turns you must travel."
May 19, 2020
"Healthy self-discipline is the modern-day warriors version of self-care. It's a statement of faith and belief in our best selves. It is our kind, inner parents pushing us toward goals we know we are capable of, or into spiritual practices of some kind that we actually WANT to do, not that we feel like we should do.
We know we are in the land of unhealthy self0discipline if we feel panicky about whatever it is we've promised ourselves we'd do. It can feel like we are punishing ourselves (for our own good!). Maybe we've set an impossible bar against which we now measure our worthiness. We've failed before we've even begun.
Health self-discipline feels exciting - we are beginning something new, we are intent on meeting a challenge we are ready and willing to take on. It will require our full attention, our stamina, our grit. But the act of showing up for ourselves will pay us back with great rewards.
We think about ourselves as a best friend whom we want to see succeed in all they do. We keep in mind that self-care is a tricky and complicated subject. Practice self-control or stop depriving ourselves? Push ourselves to our full capabilities or ease up and let ourselves be "average" for once? Stay home and put our feet up, or go out and live it up?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to daily living. When we are thriving from the inside out, our goal isn't perfection or arrival or, finally, figure it all out. It's about being right where we are and living like it matters - because it does."
May 14, 2020
"Living Like Water"
"Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.
The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.
Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what's familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filed, water dos not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely files the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.
Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identify or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river."
April 30, 2020
"~ And the people stayed home.
~ And read books, and listened, and rested and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
~ And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.
~ And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
~ And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."
May 7, 2020
"Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found."
May 12, 2020
Inspired by Dr. Seuss
"I imagine if Dr. Seuss were alive today, he's write something like this:
~The buildings were big and people would smile. And travel they would mile by mile. But sick they become, in numbers, it grew. Businesses worried, communities too. Things stopped for a bit, the world slowed its role. The virus has certainly taken its toll. But what they then saw from slowing things down. Is in fact they now had less reasons to frown. Families now gathered, what games shall we play? Pass me the blue crayon, give Mommy the grey. Dad's home guys! He'll read us a book then all of us together will cook. The lungs of the planet caught a small break less travel meant less pollution to make. People did realize they'd all be OK. They don't need so much to get through the day. Maybe this virus that caused so much stress showed the whole world that more can mean less ~"
April 13, 2020
Complied by Kobi Yamada
"Happiness is not in our circumstances, but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are" - John B. Sheerin
"How do we nurture our souls? By revering our own life. By reaching the best within ourselves. By taking chances and stretching our boundaries. By leaping into the unknown. By going places we've never been. By having faith and starting down our fears. By embracing our special uniqueness. By doing things for the fun of it. By slowing down, so the important things can catch up. By breathing in wide-open spaces. By walking in natures's wildness. By appreciating each day, moment by moment. By learning to live it all, not only the joys and triumphs but the pain and struggles. By giving more than we take. By being there for others. By making a difference. When we are living a life we love, our souls are singing and dancing."
April 16, 2020
"Fully Committed To Now,"
"Sometimes we may find ourselves wishing we know what our lives were going to like like or what gifts and challenges were going to be presented to us in the coming months or years. We may want to know if the relationship we are in now will go the distance or if our goals will be realized. Perhaps we feel as if we need help making a decision and we ant to know which choice will work out the best.... at most, we may catch glimpses. And even though we think that we would like to know the whole story in all its details, the truth is that we would probably be overwhelmed and exhausted if we were ware of everything that is going to happen to us.
Just think of your life as you have lived it up to this point. If you are like most of us, you have probably done and faced more than you could have ever imagined. If someone had told you as a child about all the jobs and relationships you would experience, along with each one's inherent ups and downs, you would have become overwhelmed. With your head full of information about the future, you would have had a very hard time experiencing your life in the present moment, which is where everything actually happens.
In many ways, not knowing what the future has in store brings out the qualities you need to grow. For example, it would have been difficult to commit yourself to certain people or projects if you knew that they would don't ultimately work out, yet it was through you dedication to see them through that you experienced the lesson you needed to grow. Looking back on your life, you would very likely be hard-pressed to say that anything in your past should not have happened. In fact, your most challenging experiences, with their inevitable lessons, may have ultimately brought you the greatest rewards.
Not knowing the future keeps us just where we need to be - fully committed and in the present moment.
April 20, 2017
"Soul Happy" - Complied by Kobi Yamada
"If you pay attention at every moment, you form a new relationship to time. In some magical way, by slowing down you become more efficient, productive, and energetic, focusing without distraction directly on the task in front of you. Not only do you become immersed in the moment, you become that moment."