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.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed. You may not have a chance to take back the words you said to someone in anger or in haste. You may never get another chance to tell someone how much you love them.
The words you say today may be the last words someone has to remember you by. This shouldn't necessarily make you sad, but it should remind us how precious and honest every word should be.
Say the words that matter. Stand up for what is right.
Share what you love and say the words "I love you" to the person you love every chance you get.
Is Your Religion Full of Love?
It can boggle the mind that something which is supposed to be spiritual, is often used to divide and condemn. Faith and religion should be all about love. When you love in deep, meaningful and authentic ways — nothing else really matters. Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, and Yoda (jk) all lived a life of love.
Since the dawn of time, I assume, people have taken these belief systems and turned their theology into an agenda. It poisons the very idea of spirituality. The gospel message so often turns into propaganda, then friends turn into enemies, and our relationship with God turns into a rule book used to separate and make you feel superior to others.
No matter what your theology, if it's not delivered with love, respect, and kindness — it's worthless.
Our faith is evidenced by how we treat others. We have to ask, Does the reality of your life reflect the theory behind your spiritual beliefs? If your faith is focused on pointing out faults and sins, before love and compassion, you may want to take another look at it.
It is MY belief that we should be inspired to emulate the actions and words of Christ — to selflessly, sacrificially, and holistically love others. Our theology should reinforce the motivation for doing things to make the world a better place — not serve as platforms to berate, criticize, and attack others.
In the end, what really matters most to the world around us is that we simply love as Christ loved...or whoever it is you choose to follow or not follow. Spiritually if you aren't living a life of love, you can never truly be happy.
Without love you have no spiritual ground to stand on.
Please follow my page and keep on loving, mindfully.
As we set our goals and start our plans for 2017, perhaps there is one thing we should focus on now more than ever. Love!
I know I seem to have lost the focus on this with some people. I realize that for the past year or so I unfriended and dismissed a lot of people because of what I saw as their extreme views. Not only the ones who's beliefs didn't match mine, but the extremes from both sides. I did it not because I don't think other's viewpoints are important, I did it because I didn't want to expose myself to the negativity that their comments, posts, or messages brought out in me. It was really more about me and my peace, than it was about them. It was a bit selfish.
With the start of a New Year, I think it's time to turn the page. It's time to open my mind back up and respect the opinions of others, as long as they respect mine. We have to remember, deep down most people are good. They only want what's best for their lives. That point always seems to get lost in the noise of disagreement. They simply believe their choice will bring them what they need. When living in a divided world, the noise and extreme rhetoric blinds us to the reality of people's beliefs. Everyone just wants to be happy!
Now that the election year is over, we have to remember what's important. Every day we vote for how we want to live our lives by choosing who we surround ourselves with. We do it by the way we speak, by the way we listen, and by the way we act around others. At the start of the New Year I have decided that I want my life to be about creating a space to promote the good in others. I want to be the person who holds a place for everyone I know to be the best that they can be. I want them to know I am here to listen and to trust, I am here to support them and above all else to offer LOVE.
Isn't it time we do what we are meant to do? We are commanded to love one another above all else. As we move in to this New Year, why don't we focus on kindness and forgiveness, empathy and compassion, treat everyone with dignity and respect, and above all else LOVE one another.
Don't Forget About LOVE. Let ALL you do be done in LOVE.
2016...it's just a number, don't hate it, don't blame it, don't celebrate its passing. It's not real.
2016 didn't take away your favorite celebrity or elect your biggest nightmare as President.
If you need to blame anything blame change, blame impermanance. Life is full of changes, nothing lasts forever. Without change we wouldn't be here today. Without change, there is no creativity, ingenuity, or progress. Without death, there is no life.
According to the teachings of the Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a successive series of different moments, joining together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another, giving an outward impression that it is one continuous and unified movement, where in reality it is not. The river of yesterday is not the same as the river of today. The river of this moment is not going to be the same as the river of the next moment. So goes life. It changes continuously, becomes something or the other from moment to moment.
Take for example the life of an individual. It is a fallacy to believe that a person would remain the same person during their entire life time. We change every moment. We actually live and die but for a moment, or we live and die moment by moment, as each moment leads to the next. A person is what he is in the context of the time in which he exists. It is an illusion to believe that the person you have seen just now is the same as the person you are just now seeing or the person whom you are seeing now will be the same as the person you will see after a few moments.
Embrace the change because it is necessary. This, above all other things, should move you to live in the moment, to love your neighbor, and to show compassion for all life.
Stop wasting time waiting for change to hit you across the head, it's time to live!
“When practiced to its fullest, mindful eating turns a simple meal into a spiritual experience, giving us a deep appreciation of all that went into the meal’s creation as well a deep understanding of the relationship between the food on our table, our own health, and our planet’s health.” - Thich Nhat Hahn
It's time we start eating with intention and pay attention to our consumption.
Year in and year out, so many of us try, and try again, to lose weight through some random diet plan, a new exercise regimen, or some amazing new scheme. These plans are all about sacrifice and quick fixes, they focus on elimination. Over and over, there are lists of things you shouldn't do or need to avoid. Don't do this, don't do that, no, no, no....
I don't need to tell you, it's all wrong!!! How many more yo-yo diets are you going to subject yourself to before you get the message that it doesn't work? The intention is always good, but the plan is almost always wrong. Anything that limits your options is, more than likely, going to fail. If it works it backfires when you go back to reality.
I have so many clients who come to me to get healthy and in our sessions, they tell me how much they love to eat. Heck, we all love to eat. There is great joy in eating, in trying new food, in discovering new restaurants, in spending time with our family and friends over a great meal. We love to eat, some of us live to eat. Many of my friends make a living in the food industry. FOOD IS AWESOME!!! So why would we ever want to take it away? It's a futile practice.
I'm writing this blog with the intention of changing the focus from dieting to eating mindfully. Instead of focusing on the what not to do's, let's focus on the how to's. I build my practice around mindfulness and meditation, so it's no wonder I am a fan and promoter of mindful eating.
Mindful eating is the practice of focusing one's full attention on the act of eating. Paying attention to the smell, look, and flavors of food while being focused on the experience and not distracted by other things. It involves slowing down and staying present, in order to derive pleasure and satisfaction from every bite. Mindful eating can be a transformative habit that helps us avoid over consumption and rekindles the simple joy of being present with our food and the experience of consuming it.
I have studied the eating habits of many people over the years. I worked in the food industry for decades, so I have a great perspective on this thing called eating. Many people who love to eat are not truly loving the food, they are just loving the escape while eating. It's comforting and can be such a great way to overcome stress and anxiety, escape from reality, deal with emotions, or just take us away from whatever else is going on in our lives. We have gotten so caught up in our busy lives that our eating habits have become rushed. We are more centered on quantity over quality, and on convenience over enjoyment.
It's time to change our perspective on eating. If you've ever practiced meditation, you know that it allows you to get in touch with your feelings. Imagine using that process to get in touch with the full flavor and joy brought to you by your food. Mindful eating is about being present in the meal. It's about focusing our attention on the food. When you slow down and let the flavors develop on your palate, you'll know what it is truly like to enjoy eating.
Mindful Eating is allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through the selection and preparation of your food. It's also about respecting your own inner wisdom, about using all your senses to choose food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body. Mindful eating is about acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment, and becoming more aware of physical hunger and satisfaction. It's a process that will change your relationship to food.
It begins with slowing down, making the right choices. When we take the time to choose food that is going to serve our health we are making the mindful choice. Like anything we do mindfully, we bring ourselves present by focusing on the breath. Just take two or three deep breaths before you start to eat. You can do this to yourself and no one will probably even notice. Bring yourself fully to the meal.
Think about how hungry you are, get in touch with how you feel. Think about the look, the colors, the texture, and imagine how it will taste and feel in your mouth. You can even go a step further and think about where the food came from. Imagine or remember how it was prepared. Appreciate it, rather than just take it for granted. Mindfully, you can express gratitude for it, always remembering some living thing sacrificed for this meal. Someone (maybe even you) labored for you to have this meal, appreciate it! Mindfully show gratitude for what you are about to eat, it's what grace is all about.
When you eat, stay focused on small bites. While you are chewing, take time to allow the flavors to develop on your palate. We have been programmed to focus so much on the saltiness or sweetness of our food that we miss the nuanced flavors. Take the time to enjoy, to relax, and ask yourself, does it taste sweet, crunchy, creamy, salty? Identify the texture, temperature, flavor, consistency. These things are there waiting to be appreciated. There is so much to be discovered in your food if you take your time.
Put your fork down while you are chewing and let it rest a moment. This allows you to be present in the bite and prevents you from mindlessly reaching for the next one. Slowing down also allows your body time to communicate how full it is. When we eat fast, our body doesn't receive the signals fast enough to communicate how full we are. That's why after a big meal, we sometimes feel overly full, it sneaks up on us because we aren't present.
Change the Food Perspective
People who are overweight tend to think about food by numbers; calories, fat grams, sodium, carbs, etc. They tend to forget that there is more to food than numbers. Instead of taking the time to enjoy that delicious muffin, they think about how it fits in their diet plan or how much weight they will gain from that lasagna. Mindful eating restores the pleasure in food without sacrificing the goal.
Of course, this is where we start to make excuses. We start thinking that we don't always have time to eat this way. Heck, that may be true sometimes, but there is no way you have to rush through every meal. It would be awesome to say it never happens, but reality gets in the way of our best intentions. I challenge you to make an effort. Eat mindfully at more meals than not and you will see a difference. After time, it will become a normal practice in your life.
Purposefully focusing your attention on the present can help you embrace companionship, connectivity, contentment, and help make life more meaningful. When you practice this while eating you can make better connections with the food and most importantly with how your body feels.
Try making the effort to eat consciously, sitting down at a table, savoring the smells, textures, and flavors. Chewing thoughtfully and thoroughly, and you will feel satiated sooner, and consume less along the way. By thoroughly chewing your food it digests more easily and your body gets the time to fully absorb and make use of the nutrients you've provided.
The end goal is always to consume less, not through deprivation but through satisfaction. How great is that plan?
Give up on the restrictions and open your mind to being present with your food. You will find that less is more. You will be satisfied with much less and that is the key to a healthier life. Stop the crazy diets and just be present.
Your taste buds will thank you, your mind will thank you, your body will thank you!
"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time" -Abraham Lincoln
Step five of completing your resolution is the best one. It's all about being mindful. It's putting it all in perspective and bringing it all into the present. When we look at the four previous steps; Forgiveness, Responsibility, Change, and Commitment, we must remember to keep the whole process in present perspective. Taking these things individually is challenging, we must be sure to keep a good perspective on the process. We tend to overthink, over analyze, and get caught up in the drama of making change. This is where the perspective of taking things one day at a time, comes in to play.
It's just our nature to focus too much on the future or on the past. Most of the things we worry about happening in the future will never happen. Spending time rethinking the past is a waste because what's done is done, take the lessons you've learned and let it go. It just makes more sense to approach change one day at a time, than to let yourself get overwhelmed with the process. One of the dangers in making change is we expect perfection and we expect it NOW. This is why so many programs focused around addiction use the mantra "one day at a time". It works! It's about living in the present, being in the moment, and moving forward!
Living in the moment allows us to focus on what we need to do in this time to succeed. It eliminates the danger of trying to take on too much at one time. All you have to do is get through today. It's the sensible approach to change. It works perfectly with the previous four steps.
Because you're living in this moment, you can let go of the blame you have for whatever brought you to this point. Tackling your resolution in the moment allows you to take responsibility for what is happening now, not what might happen later or what brought you here. When you look at embracing change, it is easier to think about it in small steps. Just change for today. Then you are able to commit to succeeding today, and that's a lot less worrisome than worrying about doing it long term.
Here's the best part about taking it one day at a time. If you mess up, you start over. So many people give up on their resolutions because they had a bad day and didn't succeed in their plan for change. Maybe you ate something you shouldn't, or drank something you shouldn't have, or smoked, or whatever it is that "set you back", it really didn't. It was just a mistake, give yourself a break and move forward. Maybe you didn't do it yesterday but today is a new day.
We all have bad days, we all make mistakes. By taking a mindful approach, you are able to look at it from the perspective of a lesson learned. You can evaluate what got in your way, learn from it, and start again. One bad day or a couple days of messing up shouldn't derail the process completely. By forgiving yourself for the bad day; by taking responsibility for the mistake, deciding if there is something you need to do differently, and then recommitting to start again, you can move forward. One day at a time, one moment at a time. Hold yourself accountable for the mistake but move on rather than give up.
Remember, you are in this for the long haul. Changing long-term patterns is a long-term goal. Don't let a short-term setback take you from your commitment to change. Shake it off and start the next day committed to your goal again. This is how you succeed with change, you recommit.
The way we show up in our lives each day effects our chances of success. Just because you didn't show up 100% one day doesn't mean you can't the next. The good thing about the commitment you give to yourself is you can give yourself another chance, you deserve it. In fact, you deserve as many chances to succeed as it takes.
When you live a life that is focused on the present, you will find a calm confidence in knowing you just have to get through this day. Taking this change one step at a time, not always focusing on the big picture, makes this endeavor much more manageable. When we can focus on the moment, we can be more in tune to what we need to do right now.
Every day we get a new beginning, a new start. The morning comes bearing gifts of renewal, redemption, and a fresh start. Just as the sun rises each morning in all its glory, we have an opportunity for a new beginning, a glorious new start. The best part is, we can let go of the mistakes we made yesterday, they don't matter when we start fresh in the present day.
Finally, on this journey of change, never once did I mention the word perfection. Achieving your goals and improving your life doesn't mean everything has to be perfect. We are not striving for perfection, only progress. When you stop trying to be perfect and embrace progress, you free yourself up to live life on your terms. Putting things in the perspective of making progress, you can approach each day with the mindset of improving just a bit more. Make some progress!
The promise of the morning means we have a chance to progress more. Even if it just a fraction, it's still progress. Even if you don't feel it was much progress at all, you can learn from it, and that's progress.
Day by day, step by step, living in this moment, you can make incremental changes towards your goal. Don't strive to be perfect, don't set unrealistic deadlines. Take it slow and steady. These incremental changes over long periods of time will add up to massive change. Even if there's a setback, you can move forward the next day! Do it long enough and you succeed!
Embrace each day. Be present.
One day at a time. One moment at a time.
The Resolution Revolution:(click links below to review)
Step 1 Forgiveness
Step 2 Take Responsibility
Step 3: Embrace The Change
Step 4: Make The Commitment
Step 5: Keep It In Perspective