Notice the presence of absence.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Tim Chow
In the practice of meditation, we train ourselves to notice our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
The intention is that these efforts will carry forward, so we can pursue our daily activities with greater awareness and ease.
Being more present to our inner and outer worlds offers us a deeper and fuller experience of living.
For most of us, our constant inner dialogues and emotional ups and downs keep us occupied, both on and off the cushion.
What if we could easily and regularly have these thoughts and sensations dissolve and dissipate as if they were water evaporating from the sidewalk on a warm sunny day?
What levels of freedom, peace, and tranquility might be left without all the chatter?
What else could be present in the absence?
Create a space in your home where you remove as many distractions as possible. Do your best to eliminate all sensory inputs and sit for at least ten minutes with only your breath and heartbeat for company.
“We have two lives, and the second one begins when we realize we only have one.”
—Attributed to Confucius
Image from Medium.com
Groundhog Day with Bill Murray is one of my favorite movies. Beyond its humor is the central message of waking up to our lives anew each day.
Take a close look at your life. Examine each day of the past week, month, or even the past year or so. Can you see each moment with clarity, or do things look more like a train speeding by?
I’ve practiced a daily meditation over the past five years. I’ve found this simple — yet often not easy — daily discipline has slowed me down considerably. I have become more mindful and aware of how I navigate my days.
How and in what ways can you apply the wisdom of today’s quote to realize and not miss any possibilities in your precious life?
“God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.”
—James M. Barrie, 19th Century Scottish author of Peter Pan
Image from Unsplash by Debby Hudson
It is February, and Michigan is in the grip of winter. The blooming flowers of spring and summer are months away. For many, the weather can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining, making it feel that a good bit of our “get up and go” has gotten up and gone.
Our minds can, in such situations, operate as time machines, in which we experience some of those sunny days in which our lives were far rosier.
Consider a three-to-five minute daily meditative journey today, and for the rest of the weeks of winter. Reminisce and bask in some of the sunnier days of your past. How can and will you take this energy boosting experience into your day and spread its beauty to those in your personal and professional communities?
“It is hard to fight an enemy who has an outpost in your head.”
—Sally Kempton, master of meditation and yoga philosophy
Image from Unsplash by Ioana Casapu
This morning started off with a loving kindness meditation. I was instructed to direct positive, affirming words toward myself, those close to me, and others in my extended communities.
From time to time, we all can be hard on ourselves when that old, familiar inner critic attacks. For some reason, it seems easier to defend and fight the external enemies we can see in our personal and professional worlds.
How can and will you exercise your own loving kindness muscle and direct its positive energy inward to live a happier and more fulfilling life?
“By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.”
—Alan Watts, 20th Century British-American philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Zac Durant
Have you ever considered that going out of our minds was a good thing?
Not in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest way, but in a quieting the inner voice/monkey mind way.
During a recent meditation session, the instructor led me through an exercise that focused on each of the five senses. With this shift of focus, I noticed a considerable reduction and even a few momentary stoppages of mental chatter and a greater sense of calm and presence.
Consider spending 60 seconds on each of your five senses. Make a note or two regarding what you perceived:
Where in your life would going out of your mind and coming to your senses have the greater benefit?
“Muddy water let stand will clear.”
—Tao Te Ching, Classic Chinese Text
Image from Unsplash by Roopak Ravi
Is your mind muddy?
To what degree are your thoughts, emotions, and feelings stirred up by the rapid, moving waters of daily events?
At such times, it seems impossible to see even inches ahead, and we often can feel paralyzed or lost.
Today’s quote – a Chinese proverb – suggests we can all find greater clarity by slowing down and letting those muddy issues blocking our view settle out, so we can once again move forward.
Over the past two years I have instituted the daily practice of a 10-minute meditation, using an app called CALM. This resource continues to get better with additional tools, including their popular sleep stories to clear and settle one’s mind at bedtime.
Check out CALM at the website or at the app store. Please consider replying to this post with the mind-clearing strategies that work best for you.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Image from Flickr by katmary
Research has shown that angry outbursts have a damaging effect on the heart, and increases the risk of a heart attack twofold.
This seems to be the case with expressed as well as repressed anger, when we try to hold it in.
Other harmful aspects of anger include the risk of stroke, and a weakening of the immune system, diminishing the body’s ability to protect itself and heal.
Consider any or all of the following strategies to reduce or perhaps even prevent anger’s harmful effects.
- Breathing Exercises
- Muscle Tensing Exercises
- Doing #1 and #2 Together!
- Exercise and Physical Activity
- Time in quiet, natural surroundings
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
—Thornton Wilder, 20th Century American Playwright and Novelist
Image from StubHub
In 1989, Phil Collins, the multi-talented musician and singer, released his popular and catchy song “Another Day in Paradise.” If you have 4 or 5 minutes, watch this video.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve been humming this tune and tapping my hand on the steering wheel of my car for all these years, without really listening to the lyrics.
The key phrase of the song is “Oh, think twice – it’s another day for you and me in paradise.”
Perhaps it was my meditation on gratitude this morning that had me think twice and be far more conscious of the abundance of daily treasures I often overlook.
How can you think twice and be far more conscious of your daily treasures, to be more alive and fully appreciative of the paradise around you?
“You can’t grow yourself unless you know yourself.”
—John Maxwell, American Author on Leadership
Last year was my Big “60.” I read Daniel Pink’s new book, WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing recently. Pink points to certain dates, times, and even years in which people tend to embark on the more tectonic shifts in their lives.
My journey and exploration includes books, blogs, podcasts, and a year-long practice of daily meditation. With over 100 hours of quiet reflection, I am seeing more and more opportunities for growth in the hopeful years ahead.
What activities and efforts can and will you engage in today and in the years ahead to better “know yourself to grow yourself”?
“Seeking happiness outside ourselves is like waiting for sunshine in a cave facing north.”
How would you like a 10% return on your investments year after year?
Most people would be pretty happy with those results, except, perhaps, for some venture capitalists!
How does that relate to today’s quote? 10% Happier by Dan Harris is a book I highly recommend. Working on himself through his meditation and mindfulness practice, Harris tamed the voice in his head, reduced stress, and still kept his edge.
Meditation has allowed me to create far more sunny skies, because I’ve realized that we create our own weather through mindful self-awareness.
Consider picking up Dan’s book, or another resource on the value of daily meditation to help brighten your world.
I highly recommend the CALM app if you are just beginning this practice.