Friday, May 31, 2013

Zen Moments

What defines a zen moment for you?  Take some time today, and every day, to find your zen moments.  In doing so, you relax, honor yourself and the people around you, increase your productivity, and maybe, just maybe, you smile bigger, brighter, more.

Watch.  Think.  Smile.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Expert

We have become a nation of experts.

We have experts all around us giving us unsolicited advice.  These experts speak to us through social media, periodicals, television and radio.  We meet experts at the grocery store, in the gym locker room, at PTA meetings.  We live next door to experts and we have experts who sit with us at the dinner table.  Pregnant women and mothers of newborns meet experts everywhere they go and, if you know any teenagers or have a mother of your own, you may be blessed with additional expert counsel.

Albert Einstein said "the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

Intuition is, indeed, a sacred gift; for each of us is the one true expert with regard to our unique selves.  However, often, we ignore our inner-wisdom and seek opinions from those around us.  Sometimes we are looking for them to contradict our instinct, as if to give us permission to ignore it.  Other times, we will continue to seek advice until an expert's counsel mirrors our thoughts, as though we need validation in order to rely on intuition.

What makes us fail to consistently trust our own expertise?

Not once in my life have I said or heard another utter the words "I never should have trusted my gut!".  Our intuition speaks to us, sometimes even screams at us, and yet, for a variety of reasons, we often seek to squelch the chatter of our intuitive mind.

Our inner voices tell us the right paths to follow, yet so often, we only follow the one to which we have become accustomed.  Our current states might feel easy and comfortable, while changing direction presents us with a scary set of unknowns.  In some cases, we ignore intuition because of perceived societal norms that we think matter.  They don't.  And, of course, there are the times in which we seek to silence our intuition because the many experts in our world are advising us to take the road to the right even though our instinct tells us to go left, and we somehow would rather disappoint ourselves than disappoint those around us.

Alan Alda said, "at times you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you'll discover will be wonderful.  What you'll discover is yourself."

Each of us has the gift of the intuitive mind which sends us personal messages about our worlds.  Sometimes, our expert whispers of awareness, remembrance, maybe even pre-cognition.  Other times, it roars to get our attention and deliver warnings.   We must dare to not only listen, but also to hear, to act, to follow.  For in doing so, we will, indeed, discover and elevate our expert selves.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Balancing Act

"Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.  If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed.  Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings."
~ Rumi

Family.  Friends.  Work.  Relationships.  Passions.  Spirituality.  Health.  These are just some of the balls we have in the air that require constant juggling.

Thomas Morton wrote that happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.  Thomas had a good point.  While life often feels like a juggling act, transitioning it to more of a balancing act is where we find the most satisfaction.  We feel the greatest level of contentment, fulfillment, confidence and success when we have have prioritized the various "balls" into perfect balance, allowing for more smooth, steady, effortless juggling.

It has been said that the major work of the world has not been done by people who are brilliant but, rather, by ordinary folks who have an incredible amount of balance in their lives, which allows them to work in extraordinary ways.  Imagine if every arena of your life was in harmony with the others, how productive you might be, or how much more you could focus on an issue at hand if you could do so knowing that everything else was running like a well-oiled machine, integrity in tact, and, therefore, did not require your constant attention.  With balance, comes peace, and with peace comes a greater ability to handle whatever comes our way with with grace, non-reactivity, and a better understanding of ourselves.

It sounds great in theory, but how do we put it into practice?

We begin by recognizing what's truly important.  This varies for each one of us, of course, but carefully consider that which matters most and focus upon it.  The things that are essential are glass balls... the balls which, when dropped, might crack, chip, or even shatter.  Therefore, there is great risk involved in ignoring them or treating them carelessly.  The other balls are made of rubber.  If you drop them, they will bounce back into rotation sooner or later with little effort on your part to retrieve them.

Once we prioritize, we have to examine the nuances of our juggling stance so that we can dig in, stay balanced, steady, while keeping the balls in the air, moving them from one place to the next with a fluid, deliberate rhythm.

We must give ourselves permission to fall out of sync at times because, inevitably, a ball or two will drop... life happens and we have to be prepared for the shakiness of the unknown.  It takes determination and practice to regroup and begin anew this precious act of balance, but in doing so, we  learn from our mistakes, become stronger as a result, and have a greater ability to keep moving forward.

And so it seems that finding balance in our every day lives is very much like yoga.  Find a focal point.  Explore the subtleties of the pose.  Recognize that we will, indeed, wobble.   Eventually, though, as we continue to practice, we will learn to find stillness, and when we do, we'll be more grounded than ever before.


                                                                                Balance Playlist   

Monday, May 6, 2013

Super Powers

"We love our superheroes because they refuse to give up.  We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still, they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish to be."
~ Grant Morrison

I think we are all superheroes with incredibly strong super powers; yet we often underestimate ourselves and allow our antagonists to make us feel defeated.

Much like superheroes, we fight the same enemies over and over again; however, our adversaries tend to be emotional reactions, rather than physical beings.  Often, we tackle the same issues repeatedly, allowing our inner forces to stand in our own way, so much so, sometimes, that we try to seek out, lay blame and fight other, unrelated, outer forces.  Doing so rarely makes us feel victorious over our inner-demons and, in fact, by putting off the real issues that need battling, we often make things worse.  

What if we could consistently have the confidence to realize how powerful we truly are and would willingly give ourselves permission to call upon the full extent of our capabilities?  It seems to me that a tremendous amount of self-actualization would occur.  Knowing oneself is, perhaps, the greatest form of knowledge there is.  Knowledge is power and, of course, with great power comes great responsibility, according to one of our most beloved superheroes.  

Superheroes use their bodies and minds to conquer that which antagonizes them rather than yielding lethal weapons.  There is a certain compassion that superheroes display, for even as they fight evil doers to save the world around them, they never endanger others.  In fact, they don't even kill off their archenemies; instead, they deliver a strong message and send them packing.  Superheroes put their lives on the line, risking everything, without any expectation of reward.

Imagine a world in which people consistently used the mind-body connection to sort through that which antagonizes them... a world in which people were able to fully tap into and harness their metaphorical superpowers as a result of self-awareness achieved through the union of physical and mental state... a world in which compassion and selflessness were the greatest reward... a world in which people not only know who they are and who they wish to be, but they act upon that knowledge.  This is power.  This is yoga.

The dream of the yogi is to awaken that which may be asleep:  super-kindness, super-love, super-forgiveness, super-listening, super-patience.  We already have all of these things, and can call upon them at a moment's notice.  We have everything we need in order to be our own superheroes.  

Go forth, get on your mat, and take the flight to find your unique super self.  The cape and nice tiara are optional.  You might not be able to save the whole world, but you can certainly make it a safer, better place for yourself and the people around you.

Superhero Playlist

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cratered by Imperfections

Sun, sunshine, sunlight... the sun seems to wind its way into conversations on a regular basis.  We want to spend our vacations in sunny places, our moods can be altered by or even dependent upon the presence or absence of the sun.  We plan activities around sunny weather, and we lovingly refer to others as rays of sunshine.  We aspire to bring sunshine into the lives of others through our thoughts, words and actions.  

But what about the moon?  

Tahereh Mafi wrote, "The moon is a loyal companion.  It never leaves.  It's always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever, just as we do.  Every day it's a different version of itself.  Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light.  The moon understands what it means to be human.  Uncertain.  Alone.  Cratered by imperfections."

Cratered by imperfections.

Mafi's description of the humanness of the moon strikes a chord with me.  We are all, indeed, cratered be imperfections, flawed, each in our own ways.  Our imperfections don't make our lights less bright or diminish our beauty; in fact, often, they make us brighter and more beautiful.  Overcoming challenges, rising above issues, or finding compassion in difficult times gives us a better understanding of life and how we present ourselves to the world around us.  Further, we awake each morning and find we are a different version of ourselves to some extent... happy, sad, excited, tired, strong, achey, ready to take on the world, or perhaps ready to go back to bed.  What we carry through each day changes as events unfold, problems are faced or solved, joys are revealed or stripped away.  Some days we are full of life, while others, barely a sliver of enthusiasm exists.  Our moods and thoughts naturally ebb and flow throughout a day and over the course of time.  Yet, sooner or later, we return to our natural, full state of being.

Our connection to the moon seems to begin early in childhood with discussions of the man in the moon,  men on the moon, speculation about of what the moon is made (green cheese, of course!), cows jumping over the moon and, the reading again and again and again of, perhaps, the most beloved children's book of all time. 

The moon can also conjure up some romantic notions... a moonlight stroll, star-gazing under a cloudless, moonlit sky, or the timeless question "are you looking at the moon?", asked in an effort to connect two hearts across a distance.  Perhaps the romanticism of the moon is an acknowledgement of its powerful pull, much like the pull of souls, one to another.  

Even though its face is ever changing, the moon stays faithful to its course, its power never diminishing as it gently influences, shares its unique beauty, and always returns to its bright, full state of being.  The moon does, indeed, reflect what it means to be human, in all of its and all of our cratered imperfection.

Moon Playlist