If you're not taking good care of yourself how do you expect to take good care of others? How are you supposed to be able to perform at a high level? One of my priorities in leading meditation sessions is to make sure there is an emphasis on self-care and self-reflection. Since so many of us fill our days with helping others or are expected to perform at a high-level, self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Unfortunately, we rarely ask ourselves what we need? How're we feeling?
Without question we are living in a time of high anxiety. It is nearly impossible to turn on a device without reading or watching something that throws us off balance. We live in a society that is so highly connected we are instantly transported to every tragic event, or faced with the next outrageous statement some political figure says. It is impossible to escape these daily events that trigger our anxiety and sometimes shake us to our core.
A big priority in most of our lives is caring for others, our family, friends, and many of us have dedicated our careers to the care of others. We dedicate so much of our lives worrying how others are doing that rarely focus ourselves. Our body, mind, and spirit require time to recover, refresh, reflect, and reboot. In meditation, we call it "the mindful pause", it's like food for the spirit.
In this overly connected world, we are pushing ourselves to find ways to de-stress, to take a time out, and to disconnect. So much of what we think we are doing to de-stress is unknowingly adding more stress and anxiety into our lives.
When you wake up in the morning what is the first thing you do? I bet most people will say reach for their phone and check e-mails, social media apps, and news. All of a sudden we go from resting to information overload, zero to overload in .3 seconds. Instead of taking a mindful pause to reflect and set the intention for the day, we flood our mind with information, a lot of it bad.
Many of us consider sitting in front of the television a stress reliever, and yes, it can be. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to escape your own reality to get lost in some tv drama, comedy, or whatever. It can be entertaining and in some ways stress relieving. What we must be careful of, if we carry a lot of stress and anxiety, is to not add more "toxic noise" into our lives. Watching a reality show where everyone is fighting or causing problems for others may be entertaining, but it's just adding more noise into your already noisy life. Caution and moderation are suggested.
What we need to do is be mindful of what we are letting into our head. Perhaps giving ourselves a technology break at certain times of the day. It is said that the average Facebook user checks their page 14 times a day. On the surface that seems like a lot but I can see how that number may be low for a lot of people. Let's say that's true and most of us sleep 8 hours a day, that means we are checking our phones almost once every hour. Now, ask yourself how many of those time are we reading a post that stirs a negative emotion. It's not just kittens, puppies, and candy crush anymore. When asked, many people say they check social media as a stress reliever from the day, but is it really relieving stress?
There is so much information out there that triggers our anxiety. From politics, to the environment, to the violence that feeds our world, and it's all laid out there on our devices. We have to recognize this and take some time to disconnect from these triggers in order to reduce our stress. A regular technology break scheduled in the day can be just what the doctor ordered.
Thinking about how social media affects our lives is one example of ways we can reflect on our triggers. We may think are de-stressing but perhaps we are triggering other stressors in our lives. Yes, we disconnected from work, but we just moved from one stressor to another. I suggest you take a look at your day-to-day activities and determine which ones bring happiness and which ones add stress. It would be awesome if we can remove all stressors from our lives, but we can't...sorry. What we can do is make sure we aren't adding more and that we are being strategic in planning our day.
If we sit down and look at our schedule, perhaps we can put a mindful pause here and there. Take a technology break once a day (or more). Schedule some time to set the intention for the day and check back on that intention every few hours. If we know we have a stressful call, a tough email to reply to, and project waiting to be completed, we can schedule them strategically throughout the day, perhaps after a mindful pause, so you can be refreshed and more focused rather than letting them pile on top of each other.
Want to see some immediate results? When reflecting on your day, think of all the negative habits or chores you have and either replace them with positive ones or schedule a positive habit to occur immediately afterwards. If you have a regular stressful event in your day or week, schedule some time to reflect immediately afterwards. It is during these times of high anxiety that we can make the most profound changes in our lives if we take the time to reflect and search for answers.
Look for new and interesting habits to try. Perhaps add a meditation class, a yoga session, or a massage into your schedule...why not all three??? I know, don't go crazy. The goal is to strategically give yourself the time to disconnect from the negative so you can reboot. Taking the time to refresh is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, the people around you, and even your boss. I know it sounds counterproductive but a 10-minute mindful pause in the middle of your day will have you performing at a higher level than you would be going through your day building up the stress. Instead of watching the clock wanting to get out of there, you'll be more focused.
Instead of trying to duck and cover from the inevitable stresses in our lives we should get better at managing them. It starts with intention and focus. Finding the time to reflect and recover is one of the best pieces of advice a coach can give you. Taking some scheduled time for you is the only way you will survive this crazy world intact. Self-care is not selfish, it's necessary. It's not about self-indulgence, it's about self-preservation.
Take some time for yourself...take a mindful pause.
If you don't know how, give me a ring, I can teach you.
What if I told you that when watching a sunset, you are actually paying more attention to the clouds, than you are to the actual sun? Would you stop for a moment and wonder what you’ve always taken in?
Is it the sunset you enjoy, or the shadows it casts? Have you stopped for a moment to figure it out?In reality, it is how you choose to see it. Perception changes, and you with it. It is not the reverse. To shift your perspective requires an influence, but despite what you hear, read or see, the viewpoint of the world surrounding you will come from within.
Yes, we listen to others: educators, politicians, salesmen or solicitors, and whether we are told that the world is flat, which automobile is the safest, or how a policy will dramatically reduce carbon emissions over the next decade, it is the personal processing of this information that will determine your ultimate answer.
We, all too often, rely on the words of others when trying to understand anything around us. Explanation involves thinking outside of yourself and considering the consequences, values and benefits. In trying to listen to the flood of information coming at you, it is assumed knowledge that will form your opinion.
What if I told you that when watching a sunset, you are actually paying more attention to the clouds, than you are to the actual sun? Would you stop for a moment and wonder what you’ve always taken in? The sun never changes (well, not in immediate terms); it burns, full power, 24 hours a day. We see it more or less, depending on where we are located in relation to the time of the year. It is us that moves and not the sun.
The sun, quite boring really, is always there; always in the same place. It’s always round, always bright, and generates radiation that is constant, and powerful enough to light up this world and any other star, planet and galaxy in the universe.As it appears to dip below the horizon at the end of each day, all those colours and the glorious view you scramble to capture on your camera or mobile device is more the result of the sun’s light reflecting and refracting through the atmosphere, precipitation or condensation, or the puffy polluted haze of our ever-expanding cities.
The view is altered, mostly by your perception. It is still the same sun it was hours earlier, it is still doing the same bloody thing, but somehow it is more beautiful.
The sun glows, alters the shade of buildings, the shadows of trees, and even makes common weeds, like dandelions, appear magical.
Perspective. It is how we see things. More importantly how we see ourselves, and how we connect with the context.Our greatest strength should be admitting we don’t know everything and being open to learning what we need to know. Change comes with knowledge, and challenging yourself comes with connecting to your soul, investigating your id and ego and, through the process, discovering your own mythos.
Seek answers, or self-explanation for who you are, and why you do what you do. Discover solutions, or check your hypothesis for why something didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to, or why success is likely, in whatever area you chose.
You can make things happen, but you need to unearth what is happening and why. Those are answers you won’t get from teachers, lawyers or policy wonks. You may not even find the answers within, but you will be stronger for looking.
The inner voice is an inner choice.
One of the greatest joys I get out of my practice is when I have a client discover a deeper authenticity. In this world of constant contact, where success is defined by what car we drive, and happiness is just one new health product or weight loss plan away' it is not surprising that so many of us have lost sight of what matters most, our truth. When we can awaken that messenger inside of us and connect to that voice that's been there our whole lives, we can find peace, acceptance, and yes, true happiness.
If you are constantly anxious, angry, frustrated and confused then you probably aren't living authentically. If you spend more time trying to please others, hiding from your emotions, or trying to be someone else you are not being true, your authenticity is being suppressed. If you're turning to a pint of ice cream, constantly getting lost in a reality program, or second guessing your decisions, you aren't living the life you are meant to live.
The good news is those things are like smoke signals, if you take the time to recognize the warning signs you can take action and make changes. The first step is to recognize it, then you have to decide to make a change. You have to make up your mind to start a new practice, the practice of you.
Being authentic is not easy, especially at first. It means you have to show up to meetings, parties, family gatherings, work, job interviews, and being yourself, not the person you are expected to be but the person you are meant to be. It can be stressful at first because we are so used to pretending, especially to ourselves. The stress can initially cause us to question what the heck we are trying to accomplish.
Well, let me tell you this, once you discover how good it feels to express your truth you'll be able to realize your true potential, you'll find the peace and fulfillment that society tells us can only be found by having lots of money and owning lots of stuff. There's a reason so many people who have fortune and fame are unhappy, they aren't being true to themselves. They're living the life everyone expects them to live and it catches up to them. Examining your truth means you may have to reexamine old dreams, let go of the fears that have been holding you back, and release the beliefs that aren't your own but others expect you to live by.
Turning to your truth will, of course, be filled with some twists and turns at first, you are awakening that light that's been hidden inside for so long it may flicker at first. But like a seed, once you start to nurture it you'll see it sprout, reach out and touch EVERY part of you! Finding that truth takes patience, honesty, and awareness...it also takes time. It takes tools like meditation, coaching, self-reflection, organization, slowing down, and letting go.
I can guarantee you that the path to happiness is not paved in belongings, money, or fame. Happiness lives within us all; rich or poor; young or old; it's waiting. Authenticity brings happiness, peace, tranquility, and calm if we allow it to, if we nurture it, and if we allow it to grow. One step at a time, one day at a time, you can explore your truth and discover things about yourself you've hidden away for a long time.
You have a choice, you can keep reaching for the next big thing someone is telling you will make you happy, or trying the next get rich quick scheme only to be let down time and time again; or spending your life living to your full potential, awakening the light within. This light is ready to shine and become so strong you can't contain it within. If nurtured it will become so bright it will encompass you in its glow and cause you to share it with the world.
Trust me, it's there. If you need help finding it, ask. If you're afraid, ask yourself why? What do you have to lose? Awaken the gift within and live the life you are meant to live...authentically.
After a session focused on self love I had a client tell me it seemed selfish to focus so much on herself. The truth is that only when we are truly aligned with our own beautiful and unique spirit, can we completely and authentically give and receive real love.
This is because when we love ourselves we know that we can give without becoming resentful, exhausted and depleted, and we can receive because we know we deserve it. Self-love is the prerequisite for complete immersion in the abundant flow of light and love in the world around us.
Do you even love yourself? Isn't it time to start?
Blog Post: Beware or Be Aware?
Beware of love, Love causes pain.
Beware of clouds, Clouds can cause rain.
Beware of dogs, Dogs bark and bite.
Beware of the day, It turns into night.
Beware of birds, They shit on your head.
Beware of life, When it’s done, you’re dead.
Be aware of love ,It fills your soul.
Be aware of pain, It helps you feel whole.
Be aware of the rain, It flows to the stream
Be aware of night, In darkness you dream.
Be aware of your death, It’s waiting for you.
Be aware, Be yourself, And love and love true.
We are living in an age in which we are bombarded with information. We have at our fingertips, the answer to almost any question we could ask; the ability to connect with anyone, at any time; and the power to hear about any event happening at this very moment, anywhere in the world. With this power, we should feel so amazingly connected, balanced, and focused than at any time in our history.
What is surprising, is that we seem to have this “digital-numbness” that has made us less connected to our present life. We have this compulsion to always be “checking in”. People sit in meeting rooms, restaurants, and living spaces together, but alone. Our attention is locked onto laptops, televisions, and mobile devices, instead of one another. We are overloaded by the fact that we can be accessed 24/7. We compulsively reply to texts and social media posts instantaneously, no matter what else we are doing or who we are with. We have completely disconnected from present focus, and that’s bad enough, but there seems to be an overall spiritual numbness invading our culture. In fact, I think it has reached epidemic proportion and has invaded every aspect of our world. You can't even take a tour of the most amazing places on our planet without seeing people on their devices.
This digital numbness has caused chronic stress, input overload, sleep deprivation, and cognitive distraction, all of which are harming performance, focus, relationships, leadership, teamwork, and our overall well-being. People claim they don't have time to take proper care of themselves, but the real issue is not time management, it's attention management. Civility is declining - and yet everyone wants to be treated with respect, honesty, and kindness.
The good news is that we are starting to recognize how out of balance our personal and work lives have become. We are hungry for more tangible human connections and a deeper meaning in life. Values are shifting toward what makes us feel more deeply alive: including being fully present and aware of the moment, and genuinely treating others with kindness, respect, and understanding. It’s time to release ourselves from our constant “busy-ness”, in order to appreciate the events, people, and the reality of the moment. Instead of being looked on as a strength, this constant need to be “busy” should to be recognized as a disconnection from living an authentic life. We must focus on the fact that taking care of our spiritual health isn't an indulgence, but is vital to our overall health and happiness.
No matter what stressors come our way - whether externally through events, situations, and people - or internally via our nonproductive thoughts and challenging emotions - mindful awareness skills can teach us to choose how to respond with greater equanimity, instead of compulsive, mind-less reactivity - and all the stress that creates. We learn to listen in order to hear, rather than listening in order to respond. By focusing on being present, we can be more compassionate and thoughtful in how we react.
Think for a moment what that might mean to you as a partner, as a leader, and as a person. When you can give yourself authentically, being fully present, just imagine the deeper connection you can feel with others and with yourself. Forward-thinking individuals from all walks of life, are choosing to incorporate holistic mindfulness skills into their lives. They have chosen to rethink their life from "busy-ness" to presence; living right here, right now, in this moment, and choosing to think and live differently from the mindless masses we have become.
There is a Mindful Revolution at hand and you deserve to be part of it! Start by committing to daily meditation and go from there. There are dozens of types of meditation, you just need to find the one that works best for you. You must decide to take care of your spiritual health by learning to tune in to your intuition, to focus on the present, and to release the judgments of the outside world on your life.
Need help? I can show you the path forward!
No matter who you are or where you come from, we can all agree we live in a world of turmoil. We could all use a collective deep breath and a time out to get our feet under us. Without a doubt, we all would like to find a bit more peace in OUR world. To find peace we need to focus on those two words, OUR WORLD. What does peace in OUR world mean to you? Take a nice deep breath and think about that a moment. Remind yourself that you only have power over YOUR world. Finding peace has to begin there.
I believe most people feel such turmoil because they are uneasy in their own lives. Of course, the political world is a mess, but it has been before and we've made it through. In this overly connected world we tend to look beyond OUR world and focus on the entire world. We have this uneasiness about OUR world because we've let our connectedness take our lives out of perspective. As a practitioner of mindfulness, I take the time to meditate and focus on letting go of the noise around me and try to put my current situation into perspective. It's not easy, people pull me out of perspective all the time. It takes work and practice, but it's worth it.
The real answer to finding peace in OUR world lies within us. We must ask ourselves, are we happy in OUR situation, OUR job, OUR relationships, OUR place in the community? What are we doing to have peace within OURselves? What practices are we following to be peaceful in OUR lives? Meditation, prayer, community service, church, are we doing anything other than watching social media or the news??
We have the power to control OUR world, not the entire world. We have fallen into this habit of wanting to be at conflict with everyone we disagree with. In this way, we marginalize people, pull away, dismiss, and fall back into our own little bubble of agreement. Again, we have to ask, are we happy in OUR little bubble? What can we do to bring change into OUR world to be at peace with those we may not agree with? We have to find that peace in ourselves.
To bring the change we want to the world, we have to begin with OUR world, the best resources are there, inside of us. Can you say that you treat yourself with the compassion, respect, understanding, and love that you want to see in the world? Take a deep breath and be honest with yourself. If you don't have it for yourself, how can you expect to ever see it in the world? If not in YOUR world, how will it appear in the entire world?
Oftentimes, we find we are harder on ourselves than we are on those around us. We are more likely to forgive someone else, than we are to forgive ourselves. We can fall in love with someone, without giving ourselves love in return. We have to start offering ourselves the forgiveness, love, compassion, understanding, and respect that we want to see in the world. By bringing these offerings to our life, we will find it easier to share them with the world. We will start to recognize them when they appear. Rather than focusing on conflict, we open our eyes to the wonder that is right there in front of us.
The world challenges OUR peace every day. It tries to tell us who we should be, what we should eat, where we should go, and what we should think. It tells us we need to make more money, where we should be living, and who we should be friends with. The world does its best to keep us separated into groups, pushing us to judge others for their differences. We allow it to happen because we are already so comfortable at judging ourselves. All this pressure causes us to be out of balance, it can be overwhelming and cause us to disconnect from others. It certainly doesn't foster a peaceful existence.
To overcome this, we must work on ourselves spiritually. Not necessarily in a religious way, but in finding a spiritual balance of the body, mind, and soul. Our spiritual wellness is just as important as our physical one. It requires practice, just as much as your body requires good food and exercise. Finding this inner peace and spiritual balance is a challenge and it takes work.
We must start by embracing who we are, our authentic self. Not the person others expect us to be, but the you you are before anyone else tells you who you should be. I recently went to a funeral of a friend and during the eulogy the speaker said "No one can deny he lived an authentic life". Can you say that?
The path to being authentic means we accept all of ourselves; the good, the bad, and everything in between. We understand that we are conflicted, complex beings with lives that are full of struggles and challenges. We have to let go of the need to be someone else, stop longing for the things we don't have, stop worrying about the future or dragging the baggage from the past. These things are denying us OUR peace. As long as we continue to do this, the outer world will lack peace as well.
When we are conflicted internally we see conflict eternally. What we project to ourselves we spread to the world around us. If we work to find inner peace, we can bring peace to almost any situation and we can learn to put the outer turmoil into perspective in OUR lives.
Peace works like a magnetic field, what we put out comes back to us....so does LOVE! When we embrace it, we can share it. What manifests within surrounds us in its field and comes back even stronger. Always remember the words of the song, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me". Trust me, it's much easier to sing than it is to do. But, if you invite the peaceful practices of meditation, prayer, self-discovery, and authenticity to be as important in your life as the outside noise that you tune into from the television, radio, or social media, you will find you have all the information you need, within.
Let it begin with me....no one can argue that one more peaceful person would be a good thing in this world.
I Am A River of Calm
Someone can throw a burning torch at the river to try to add fuel to the flame, but the moment it touches the water the fire is extinguished, the river cools it and moves on, peacefully.
Like a river, I strive to live in peace. When faced with fear and doubt, I treat them as if they are fire, smothering them in my peace, cooling the flame and flowing on.
When abuse or hate are thrown my way, I smother them in my peaceful river, cooling the heat and carrying on.
Living authentically, my life is that river, ever changing, facing the flames that life throws my way. I will continue to cool them in my calm waters, as I peacefully flow to the sea.
Wouldn't our world be a better place if we found ways to show more gratitude? Here's a little practice I've been trying, Instead of saying "I'm sorry", say "thank you".
Instead of "sorry I'm late", say "thank you for waiting for me".
Instead of "sorry, I messed up", say "thank you for understanding my flaws".
"Sorry I disappointed you", say "thank you for loving me unconditionally".
Not only will it change how you feel about yourself, it will bring more positivity into the conversation and the relationship by focusing on gratitude.
We never lose the people we love, even in death. They continue to participate in every act, thought, and decision we make.
Their love will always be imprinted in our memories and carried in our hearts. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.
We will see them in the sunrise and touch them in the sand between our toes. We will hear them in the music and smell them in the air after the rain. Every flower and plant; every star and bird; if we look closely, they are there.
This is how we carry their love...forever.