Mindfulness

My sister passed this article from a teachers website of good reminders to me and thought I’d pass it on. I thought it was an interesting idea when our minds get focused on fear and uncertainty in the future to focus on five things outside of you and try to look at them as “newly” as possible. I tried it and it for me was a kinda of reset. It may not necessarily make the issue go away, but the goal is to feel a little bit better or lighter.  Our minds are really powerful about spinning their stories of fear and worry sometimes, so any little tricks to help us not get to attached to our thoughts the better!

Thanks, Cathy.

 

Mindfulness
Much of the distress in our lives comes from anticipating negative or dangerous events that might happen in the future and as a result failing to be in the present moment in which those events are not happening.  Such worry not only undermines an accurate assessment and preparation for what might go wrong as well as undermining the enjoyment of life as it is in the present moment.

Mindfulness is a natural human capacity to pay attention to our experience as it is happening in real time. When we intentionally cultivate this capacity through practice we enhance our ability to focus, to regulate our emotions and to extend compassion and kindness to ourselves and others.  When we infuse mindfulness throughout our day we not only reduce our stress and worry, finding better ways to respond to the challenges of life, but we also expand our capacity for joy and wonder.

During non-teaching times throughout the day, instead of checking your phone and email between classes or during lunch or an off period, try taking a mindfulness break using one of these simple strategies:

  • Notice five specific things out your window – clouds, students, a kite, birds, cars –and try to see them with fresh eyes and without telling yourself a story about them.
  • Take three deep, long breaths inhaling in through the nose and out the mouth to help reduce stress hormones in your body.
  • Eat a snack slowly, keeping all your attention on just relaxing and eating.
  • If you have a favorite quote, poem or a piece of writing, take a few moments to re-read it to refresh your sense of inspiration and connection to what’s important now.
  • Take a “five senses” walk outside. Notice what you see, hear, smell, taste and feel. This sensory awareness will help you return to the present moment.

Remember: This Is Not Your Problem

This is from the Daily Stoic.  Always a good reminder…

 

“The affliction of so many people? Other people. We’re driven mad by the mistakes, the comments, the rudeness, the lifestyle choices of people who are not us.
We have to be able to remind ourselves: My problems are my problems, other people’s problems are their problems. As Marcus wrote, “Leave other people’s mistakes where they lie.” That is, in their own bed.

You’ve got plenty to deal with on your own today. Don’t waste a second judging other people, or gossiping about them, or getting involved in their business. It’s not your problem.”

Thank You – do you take it in?

Receiving thank you is an abundant practice

The definition of thank you is “an acknowledgement of appreciation or expression of gratitude”.

It is important that we are open to hearing and feeling appreciation and gratitude coming to us.

When someone thanks you for something, how do you respond? Do you say “your welcome” or do you have a hard time hearing it? Maybe you deflect the “thank you” by saying something like, “oh, it was nothing” or “you would have done the same for me”, ect. In my abundance work, I often find many people are better at giving than they are at receiving. There are a number reasons for this, however, I believe for us to receive more abundance, in whatever area in life we want, we actually have to be open to and good at receiving! If we can’t receive a simple “thank you”, how are we to “receive” more of other things? Like stepping on a hose that limits the water flow.

So, a practice could be to FULLY take in a “thank you” before responding at all, maybe just for a second, and “feel” the “thank you” and then respond with “your welcome” or in some manner that you acknowledge the appreciation coming your way. I feel when you do this you are acknowledging your gift to that person and receiving their appreciation at the same time. This balance opens the door to more abundance.

Internet news

We live in an interesting world these days when it comes to news and the internet. There is SO much available these days that its hard to sift through all of it first off and then no what is real and what is fake. I’m pretty out of the news loop living out of the country a good portion of the year and not having regular TV and I kinda like it that way. I think I’m a bit freer mentally that I don’t follow what the latest Trump statement of fact, fiction or expression of ego or what others have to say about those.  I’ll take more peace over more information any day.

I just watched a TED talk on the Russian  hack of the US election. Now, I do not watch enough news to know if this is a fact or not and I’m not sure why the heck I choose to watch it, however, what the possibility brings to light is now we can have very sophisticated COUNTRY’S disseminating fake news to the social media streams in a way to directly impact an outcome that they want! In a way that doesn’t seem fake and appeals to us individually or as a group. The speaker of the TED talk, Laura Galante, goes onto suggest that this is Russia trying to stir the pot in the US to get us to question democracy! Wow, if true, add that to the Facebook crowd that is trying to keep us on our devices more and more to keep their add revenue stream growing and it’s amazing we are not a bunch of zombies walking with our heads down on the way to the nearest communist headquarters sign up place. Anyway, I guess I’ll continue to be aware where my news is coming from and look for the people that actually have their faces up in the world rather than lost in space (facebook)!

 

 

 

 

True power is not about force or control…

Abundance guy - True power electricity hitting water

” Most rarely align with their true power, because it seems illogical to them that there is power in relaxation, in letting go, or in love or joy or bliss. Most people do not understand that their true power lies in releasing resistance—which is the only obstacle to their true power.

Most people do not expect their path to great abundance to be one of ease and of joy. They have been taught that struggle and hardship and sacrifice are requirements that must be met before the reward of great abundance can be realized. Most do not understand that the very struggle they deliberately involve themselves in, in their quest for success and advantage, actually works against them.

There are so many things that you have been taught to believe that are counter to the powerful Laws of the Universe that it is difficult for you to think your way out. And that is the reason that we present this path of much less resistance.

We want you to breathe rather than try, to relax rather than offer effort, to smile rather than struggle, to be rather than do. For your true power is experienced only from inside.” Jerry and Esther Hicks

I have experienced this first hand, when I push or force things to happen, I find it hard, difficult or a struggle as they stated in the quote above. The amazing thing was when I actually tried the other way by connecting deeper with myself and letting go of trying to control things or people around me to see it my way, I realized it was much easier and everything I needed was there…

For example, have you ever had the experience when you want something that when you let go of the outcome, you often get it? Think of a business situation or personal relationship where this has been true for you – remember that sale you really let go of and you got it or that relationship where you were true to yourself first and then it worked out for the best. This is the power of aligning with your inner understanding rather than being effected by the events or situation outside of you.

 

What’s important?

I heard a podcast the other day where the discussion was about a “life is short”  conversation where one of the participants said it’s a bit of a skill to have a quality in your attention enough to have the moral and emotional clarity not to suffer over the stupid things in life. He went on to say you have a 1,000 chances to tell the people around you in your life you love.

To me that sounded like a pretty good piece of advice!

Don’t take anything personally


I love the book the 4 agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (its one of the books in my “inspiration” tab on my website). Really simple and yet very powerful. I haven’t read the book in a while, but I have a deck of his cards that have one of each of the agreements and a sentence or two about them. I like to now and then pick one and I usually always get something out of the review.

One of the cards “Don’t take things personally”, his second “agreement” caught my attention over the last few days. He defines the second agreement as…

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

I noticed and thought about how powerful this is. I have definitely gotten better at not taking things personally, but boy it is hard sometimes. I think the bottom line is that when one has a “need” to be accepted, this is when one can really be effected by the opinions of others.

I find that because I am confident and like who I am and am at peace with the way I am, then I do not really care if someone says “John, I don’t like your clothes, you’re too skinny, too fat, you should live this way or that, etc”. Everyone is really only expressing their own individual beliefs and opinions, based on their views and interpretations of their life experiences.

So, it does not make sense to take on an other’s criticism or opinions when it really has nothing to do with you?

Ruiz says in the book when you take these things on as true, your accepting poison from another. I like to think of “poison” as the emotional garbage someone else is throwing out. I certainly like the practice not being the trash can for anyone!

Stress isn’t bad for you, but believing stress is bad for you is

Interesting 15 minute Ted talk about Stress (you get the point in the first few minutes if your stressed for time:))

Most of us belief that stress is “bad” for us, right? Physically, mentally or emotionally in some way. At least enough so we try to “eliminate” a lot of stress. This short video by a stress/physiologist researcher flips that thought.

Since helping people change their beliefs is a big part of my practice, I love seeing this scientific evidence showing what your beliefs about stress are more important than actual stress. She goes onto to say if you have a “negative” view or belief about stress you can unlearn this and your body will respond and view stress as helpful!

Enjoy!

http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=button__2013-09-04

Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong

I have had some loss in my family recently and thought this article from the Huffington Post might be helpful for all of us.

 

After nearly seven years of personal experience surrounding loss, I can tell who is going to read, share and comment on this article and it’s not necessarily the audience I’ve intended. Those who have walked the horrific road of loss will shake their collective heads “Yes” at many of my points below and share with pleads for the rest of the Western World to read, learn, evolve and embrace these concepts. Unfortunately, my words will fall short for my intended audience because the premise does not yet apply to their lives…yet. In time, my words will resonate with every human on the face of this earth, but until a personal journey with loss takes place, my words will be passed over in exchange for articles about gorillas and fights over public bathroom usage.

There is nothing sexy or exciting about grief.

There is nothing that grabs a reader with no personal interest to open my words and take heed to my writing.

I’m here to say that the West has the concept of grieving all wrong.

I’d like to point out that we are a culture of emotionally stunted individuals who are scared of our mortality and have mastered the concept of stuffing our pain. Western society has created a neat little “grief box” where we place the grieving and wait for them to emerge fixed and whole again. The grief box is small and compact, and it comes full of expectations like that range from time frames to physical appearance. Everyone who has been pushed into the grief box understands it’s confining limitations, but all of our collective voices together can’t seem to change the intense indignation of a society too emotionally stifled to speak the truth. It’s become easier to hide our emotional depth than to reveal our vulnerability and risk harsh judgment. When asked if we are alright, it’s simpler to say yes and fake a smile then, to be honest, and show genuine human emotion.

Let me share below a few of the expectations and realities that surround grief for those who are open to listening. None of my concepts fit into societies grief box and despite the resounding amount of mutual support by the grieving for what I write below, many will discount my words and label us as “stuck” or “in need of good therapy.” I’m here to say those who are honest with the emotions that surround loss are the ones who are the least “stuck” and have received the best therapy around. You see, getting in touch with our true feelings, embracing the honest emotions of death only serve to expand the heart and allow us to move forward in a genuine and honest way. Death happens to us all so let’s turn the corner and embrace the truth behind life after loss.

Expectation: Grief looks a certain way in the early days. Tears, intense sadness, and hopelessness.

Reality: Grief looks different for every single person. Some people cry intensely, and some don’t cry at all. Some people break down, and others stand firm. There is no way to label what raw grief looks like as we all handle our loss in different ways due to different circumstances and various life backgrounds that shape who we are.

Expectation: The grieving need about a year to heal.

Reality: Sometimes grief does not even get started till after the first year. I’ve heard countless grieving people say year two is harder than year one. There is the shock, end of life arrangements and other business matters that often consume the first year and the grieving do not have the time actually to sit back and take the time to grieve. The reality is there is no acceptable time frame associated with grief.

Expectation: The grieving will need you most the first few weeks.

Reality: The grieving are flooded with offers of help the first few weeks. In many cases, helping the grieving six months or a year down the line can be far more helpful because everyone has returned to their lives and the grief stricken are left to figure it out alone.

Expectation: The grieving should bury the dead forever. After a year, it is uncomfortable for the grieving to speak of their lost loved one. If they continue to talk about them, they are stuck in their grief and need to “move on.”

Reality: The grieving should speak of the dead forever if that’s what they wish to do. When someone dies, that does not erase the memories you made, the love you shared and their place in your heart. It is not only okay to speak of the dead after they are gone, but it’s also a healthy and peaceful way to move forward.

Expectation: For the widowed – If you remarry you shouldn’t speak of your lost loved one otherwise you take away from your new spouse.

Reality: You never stop loving what came before, and that does not in any way lessen the love you have for what comes after. When you lose a friend – you don’t stop having friends, and you love them all uniquely. If you lose a child and have another, the next child does not replace or diminish the love you had for the first. If you lose a spouse, you are capable of loving what was and loving what is….one does not cancel out or minimize the next. Love expands the heart, and it’s okay to honor the past and embrace the future.

Expectation: Time heals all wounds.

Reality: Time softens the impact of the pain, but you are never completely healed. Rather than setting up false expectations of healing let’s talk about realistic expectations of growth and forward movement. Grief changes who you are at the deepest levels and while you may not forever be in an active mode of grief you will forever be shaped by the loss you have endured.

Expectation: If you reflect on loss beyond a year you are “stuck.”

Reality: Not a day goes by where I am not personally affected by my loss. Seeing my children play sports, looking at my son who is the carbon copy of his Dad or hearing a song on the radio or smell in the air. Loss because part of who you are and even though I don’t choose to dwell on grief it has a way of sneaking in now and again even when I’m most in love with life at the current moment. It’s not because we dwell or focus, and it’s not because we don’t make daily choices to move forward. It’s because we loved and we lost, and it touches us for the remainder of our days in the most profound ways.

Expectation: When you speak of the dead you make the griever sad, so it’s best not to bring them up.

Reality: When we talk about our lost loved one we are often happy and filled with joy. My loss was six and a half years ago and to this day, my late husband is one of my favorite people to talk and hear about. Hearing his name makes me smile and floods my mind with happy memories of a life well lived. It makes the grieving sadder when everyone around them refuses to say their name. Forgetting they existed is cruel and a perfect example of our stifled need to fix the unfixable.

Expectation: If you move forward you never loved them or conversely if you don’t move forward you never loved them.

Reality: The grieving need to do what is right for them, and nobody knows what that is except the person going through it.

Expectation: It’s time to “move on.”

Reality: There is no moving on – there is only moving forward. From the time death touches our lives we move forward, in fact, we are not given a choice but to move forward. However, we never get to a place where the words move on resonate. The words “move on” have a negative connotation to the grieving. They suggest a closure that is nonexistent and a fictitious door we pass through.

Expectation: Grief is a linear process and a series of steps to be taken. Each level is neatly defined and the order predetermined.

Reality: Grief is an ugly mess full of pitfalls, missteps, sinking, and swimming. Like a game of shoots and ladders, you never know when the board might pull you back and send you down the ladder screaming at the top of your lungs. Just when you think you’ve arrived at the finish, you draw a card that sends you back to start and just when it appears you’ve lost the game you jump ahead and come one step closer to the front of the line.

Expectation: The grieving should seek professional forms of counseling exclusively.

Reality: The grieving should seek professional forms of counseling but also the grieving should look strongly towards alternative modes of therapy like fitness, art, music, meditation, journaling and animal therapy. The grieving should take an “active” part in their grief process and understand that coping comes in many different forms for all the different people who walk this earth.

Expectation: The grieving either live in the past or the present. IT is not possible to have a multitude of emotions.

Reality: The grieving live their lives with intense moments of duality. Moments of incredible happiness mixed with feelings of deep sadness. There is a depth of emotion that forever accompany those who have lived with a loss. That duality can cause constant reflection, and a deeper appreciation of all life has to offer.

Expectation: The grieving should be able to handle business as usual within a few weeks.

Reality: The brain of a grieving person can be in a thick fog, especially for those who have experienced extreme shock, for more than a year. Expect forgetfulness, a reduced ability to handle stress and grayness to be commonplace after a loss.

I’ve just scratched the surface above on the many areas where grief is misunderstood in our society.

One hundred percent of the people who walk this earth will deal with death. Each of us will experience the passing of someone close that we love or our personal morality. It is about time we open up the discussion around death, dying and grief and stop the stigma that surrounds our common bond. Judgment, time frames, and neat little grief boxes have no place in the reality that surrounds loss. Western culture asks us to suppress our pain, stuff our emotions and restrain our cries. Social media has given many who grieve the opportunity to open up dialogue, be vulnerable on a large scale level and take the combined heat that comes with that honesty. As a whole, society does not want to hear or accept that grief stays with us in some capacity for the rest of our lives. Just like so many other aspects of our culture, we want to hear there is a quick fix, a cure-all, a pill or a healthy dose of “get over it” to be handed out discreetly and dealt with quietly.

The reality is you will grieve in some capacity for the rest of your life. Once loss touches you-you are forever changed despite what society tells you. Stop looking at the expectations of an emotionally numbed society as your threshold and measuring stick for success. Instead, turn inward and look at the vulnerable reality of a heart that knows the truth about loss. With your firsthand knowledge escape the grief box and run out screaming truth as you go. If we make enough noise maybe someday societies warped expectation will shift to align with reality.

Just ask

Asking for what I want is one of my favorite things in conversations I have learned to do more of. Wasn’t really easy at first, for a somewhat shy Midwestern boy, but I practiced and now I’m occasionally asking for some pretty big things. Things I would have never asked in the past. I still feel uncomfortable in certain situations, however, it just feels so much better to be honest with my feelings, intentions and desires. It’s so easy to fall in the trap of hoping the person your wanting something from is going to read your mind. Gosh, if you have been in a relationship long enough, you are supposed to be able to do that, right? Likely, that thinking will lead to disappointment and frustration as I haven’t met many mind readers that get it 100% right out there.

Of course, this doesn’t let us off the hook for being aware of the feelings the people in our relationships are giving off and “helping” them out now and then by checking in with their needs. But, be careful there, if you do this too much, then your trying to read the person so much it circles back to trying to figure out what they want. Though most of us likely don’t do this consciously, we often use some kind of manipulation to TRY to get want you want. If I do this, then can you do this or that for me? Or we go through some elaborate strategy or emotional drama to “guilt” someone into doing what we want. Hey, we have all done it. My view is let’s just clean it up with some honesty and trust that WE will be okay no matter what the outcome of our “asking” is.

Also, this doesn’t mean we always get a yes when we ask for what we want. We can still have some disappointment or frustration to work through, however, with your clear communication, it often leads to greater opportunities to talk about those things that are important to you or maybe work out a “yes” sometime in the future.