Category Archives: Mindfulness

What’s this “Life Balance” Thing I Keep Hearing About?

7a313ca3eb94dc590a559f74d353cb05

Balance, Balance, Balance…yeah, yeah!! This word has appeared in my life more within the past week than ever before. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Sheryl Sanberg’s book Lean In and how she believes that “work life balance” is difficult to achieve (I’m on the fence if will read her book). Then an article popped up in my in-box about “achieving balance in your life”, along with another one about stress-free living and an out of balance life. The Universe is trying to tell me something, guess I better listen.

I don’t believe in coincidences, so I believe that the reason why Balance keeps smacking me in my face is because my life is out of balance. Usually, my attention span is like that of a toddler running from one toy to the next and not calming down until nap-time. Believe it or not, I’ve gotten used to it and have learned to work with the randomness; however, lately the train has jumped the tracks and has gone off in so many different directions that I can’t keep up. My new reality consist of a lack of focus and virtual paralysis.

cd740f49e97574d705adb859aa9ae397

I am living in denial in this world of being a college student with assignments to complete. I am in my last semester of my master’s program with four research papers and a thesis due in April, so I can graduate in May. I haven’t been motivated one bit to focus on these papers because my mind is occupied with all the other things that needs my attention, such as: planning a major relocation, selling a house, researching my next job, coming up with topics for my blog, helping to take care of a toddler, and having bouts of anxiety on a daily basis.

f25ff34151fd689148f3840aa0ed96ff

Since the creative process has come to a stand still and I now realize that I am out of control, I’ve decided to make a few adjustments in order to maintain some sort of sanity. I will: 1) remain in the moment, 2) return to a consistent meditation practice, 3) start back to my daily walks/runs because being outside always gives me energy and calms my nerves, 4) get at least 6-8hrs of sleep each night, which means no more staying up past midnight, 5) put my blog posting on hold for a month or two, 6) do something fun – all work and no play just do not work for me. Last but not least, avoid things (brain drains – Pinterest, Internet surfing, watching TV/movies, daydreaming, etc.) that I have allowed to distract me from working on my assignments.

So, my first act is to let everyone know that I am taking a break and putting my blog on hiatus. This will be my last post for a bit (unless I get ambitious and have a pressing topic). I can’t make space in my brain for everything so this is the first to get suspended. Now, I don’t have to worry about staying current with my posts or try to develop my long list of topics.

I can’t believe I have four major papers and a thesis to complete in four weeks. People keep telling not to freak out, yeah right…easier said than done. I’m kidding. 🙂

I am basking in all the well wishes and encouragement I’ve received from everyone.

Getting to work! See you when I come back up for air.

1ab861e85e607693e7b4f714d4833e67-1 My new reality

Advertisements

What Will You Offer The World Today?

The first thought that entered my mind this morning was, “What Will You Offer The World Today?”

I was surprised to have this thought because each morning I open my eyes, I thank the Universe for another day and another opportunity to do the right thing. Asking what will I offer the world puts a different spin to my day. Instead of thinking about what I need to do during the day, I feel strongly that I should be on the alert for opportunities to do for others; however, since I am home with the flu and have been homebound this entire week, I asked myself, how can I offer anything to the world when I can’t leave the house? I thought and thought and then it dawned on me, “that’s narrow thinking, think outside your four walls”. Of course I can offer something, how about updating my blog. So here I am.

Do What You Can

“Get out of yourself and be of service to others.” Chaka Khan said this to the audience at a recent award show. Sounds eerily similar to my morning thought, doesn’t it?

I pondered, “What does it mean of service to others?”. I’ve been shown the obvious, volunteering; consequently, I thought being of service had everything to do with physically being in the presence of another person and helping them with something that they need. Also, giving your time, giving your money, visiting the sick at hospital, etc. Well, my view on service is evolving.

Presently, I believe that Being of Service can come from a singer who offers the perfect song for that person who needs to hear it without realizing that their song may touch somebody and make a difference in their life. For example, I’ve listened to songs that have cheered me up. I know that the singers don’t know who I am or how their song affected me, but they had the wherewithal to put out that particular song that turned my frown around.

Potentially it’s the artist who felt a tug to paint a picture and share it with the world, not knowing that someone who views the painting may be inspired to pursue art; helping someone invent their future.

Perhaps it’s the photographer who snaps a picture of a homeless person, shared that picture with others and someone was moved by the image enough to go volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Conceivably it’s the poet who recites their poem that makes someone stop to think and ponder its meaning. It affects another enough to go deeper, internalize the words; something shifts within and they emerge with an appreciation their life.

Could be the street musician playing on the sidewalk or in the subway sharing their songs with passersby who stops to take a breather, listen to the music, and enjoy the moment before getting caught up in the rush of the day. Later one of those pedestrians reflect on how the music made them feel happy, which in-turn, makes them treat someone warmly.

Or maybe, just maybe it’s an author who writes their biography, someone picks up the book on a whim and finds out it was meant for them. Another person purchases the same book and was able to glean information that helps them through an issue that they could not find answer to before. Still another person gives the same to book to a friend because the story reminds them of their friend’s life experience; meanwhile, the recipient is relieved to know that they are not the only person certain things have happened to; they no longer feel so alone.

Being of Service doesn’t have to only mean that I need to help an elderly person cross the street, or serve food at a homeless shelter, or take a friend to an appointment, or donate money to charity. Don’t get me wrong, those are all great service-oriented acts of kindness. Yet, doing something you love and that brings you pleasure, which happens to benefit others, even when you don’t know who those “others” are, can also be considered – Being of Service to others.

Today, being of service is getting out of my head and sharing these thoughts with whoever may stumble upon my blog and want to read this post.

Do what you love, share it with the world…Be of Service to others.

What will you offer the world today?

My Aha Moment

During a recent conversation about A Course in Miracles (ACIM), a dear friend decided to form a study group for support in a yearlong study of the course. Every two weeks we come together to discuss the lessons (each lesson corresponds to the a day of the year – Lesson #1 corresponds to January 1st, and so on) and share our insights or ask questions.

For those not familiar with the course:  A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a metaphysical, self-study text available to anyone willing to work through the principles to achieve a positive spiritual transformation. One of the main teachings is to practice forgiveness in daily life. In the bookstore you may find ACIM books under New Age, but it could also be included on the Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Non-dualism, Psychology, Self-help, Poetry, Physics, or Taoism shelf because like other formal religion that all point to the Universal Truth (love, peace, forgiveness), so does the ACIM teaching. It is what you need it to be for you.

The reading for January 23rd had special meaning for me because it triggered memories that lead to me taking time to really examine them and figure out how these memories fit into my life today. The following is a recap of my aha moment.

Pema_nothing-ever-goes-away

Lesson 23 (January 23): I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed. – ACIM Lesson 23

One particular thought has been making its appearance since last week. On Jan 22nd, while composing an email to my thesis advisor regarding my thesis draft and questions/concerns, the thought barged in once again. I guess it got tired of being ignored. Our thesis draft (first 3 chapters) must be reviewed, approved, and graded before we can begin our experiment. My experiment includes a 60-survey questionnaire focused on Occupational Stress, of which, another advisor reviewed and said it was good work that required minimum changes. Hence, the review and feedback portion went well. So, one would think I’d be thrilled with hearing that the draft was good, feedback suggested minimal changes, and received an “A” for my grade, right? Well, I felt unsettled. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely satisfied with my grade; however, as I was typing the email I kept thinking, “I am not satisfied with my survey questions, or the thesis draft”. After reading Lesson #23 that spoke about attack thoughts, I had to step back a bit and ask myself, “Why am I being so hard and critical of my work when an experienced thesis advisor tells me that it was good work. Why can’t I just accept what he said? What are these thoughts about?”

When I initially read the lesson, I didn’t get it, so I put it aside. As I was preparing my tea, the light bulb (figuratively) started to illuminate. It hit me…I get it!!!

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. – ACIM Lesson 23

The light bulb continued to glow brighter and brighter then a flash of another incident with the same theme came back to my mind.

Two weeks ago a trusted friend complimented my first blog entry. I was thrilled with her feedback because I value her opinion. Part of me was surprised to hear the words, because when I finished that blog entry, I thought to myself, “It’s good, but not good enough”. I kept wondering what changes should be made to make it better. Once again, I was being critical of my work. Then it struck me, the tape that keeps running in my head is that my work is not good enough, and will never be good enough, no matter what other people say. In other words, I am not good enough. Major attack thoughts!

When and where did these (attack) thoughts start to appear and why? It clicked…Childhood.

As a student I didn’t have to bust my ass to get good grades (As/Bs), it came naturally. I eventually encountered a math class where half the semester focused on statistics, which kicked my butt. I got no joy out of trying to figure out math equations, but I made an effort to study and try to understand. Well, I never got it and I received a “C”. This was the first time I ever brought home a “C” on my report card, and it just so happens that it took place at the end of the first semester of my senior year of high school. I was terrified to show my parent this report card, so I waited until the last night before I had to return the report card to school with her signature.  At the sight of that “C”, she declared, “You will never amount to anything”. Hard to believe, but yes, the prior As/Bs and having my name on the Honor Roll list numerous times did not count for anything. I guess because I always earned As/Bs, it was taken for granted that I would always bring home acceptable grades. Some kids were thrilled if they could pull a C; I on the other hand, knew I was doomed.

So, during my last semester, right before graduation, I called myself rebelling by not to submitting my last assignment in a class where would have received an “A” if the assignment was submitted. When the instructor informed me that my grade would suffer if the assignment were not submitted, I told him I was not going to do it. He gave me an “F” for not turning in that assignment. I didn’t try to fight it; I just didn’t care any more. I ended up with an overall “B” in that class, so it wasn’t too bad. Of course my defiance didn’t prove anything and I would advise students to do it, but it felt good to finally go against an authority figure’s expectations. It was also my passive aggressive way of getting back at that parent. LOL!!

Anyway, the thought of not being “good enough” have dogged me my entire adult years. It’s always been nagging at me to pay attention, but I never really examined what it meant to be good enough or not good enough. When I was young, those words didn’t consciously register in my psyche, all I knew was that I couldn’t do anything right. Needless to say, this was not the only negative experience with that parent. Except for defiantly not handing in my last assignment in high school I always strove to do my best. I’ve had accomplishments, along the way, but there’s always that underlying fear of failure and not being “good enough”.

When I was laid off (position elimination-2009 downsizing where over 2k positions were cut) from my job, my first thought was, “if my work was not good enough, why didn’t someone inform me?” Throughout my 11yrs with that company, all my bosses consistently told me I was doing a good job and my performance appraisals reflected such; I never had a derogatory write-up. I was confused and angry. After I received my notice, my immediate director called to tell me that she and three other team members were let go as well. She said our position elimination was not due to our work performance, it was all politics. Hearing that it was not a performance issue soothed me slightly; however, I kept wondering what else could I have done to be “good enough” to hold on to my job, a job that I enjoyed. In hindsight I now realize I needed to leave that company in order to grow. I’ll tell you, the universe is so funny – it had to produce a job-loss for me to finally leave and embrace new experiences. Ha, ha!!

Let me be clear, I am not assuming the victim role, nor am I blaming anyone. I am just overjoyed that I finally understand my “vengeful” thought pattern (at least in this instance). Now it’s time to severe the link from that particular thought pattern; therefore, allowing room for more positive awareness, which all begins with my thoughts.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. – ACIM Lesson 23

After reading Marianne Williamson’s interpretation of Lesson 23 (thank you Natalie for sharing), I see the conflict and battle that I’ve been trying to reconcile all these years. For 15yrs I’ve been exposed to enlightenment materials and speakers, but those negative thoughts remained with me.

Cognitively, I know we control our thoughts; therefore, control the world in which we choose to reside. I know that we should not allow external forces to shape our being. I know that words are powerful, so chose them wisely. I know that the energy that I emit is what returns to me. I know this and more; nevertheless, subconsciously, “not good enough” have stayed with me through all my learning. I have made my world a “symbol of vengeance” by subconsciously replaying that negative, self-defeating tape. Now that the “cause has been identified”, I can consciously work on changing those attack thoughts. I know that it won’t be easy and the change will take some time to stick, but the knowledge of having peace within is worth doing the work. I a way, these subconscious conflicts have weakened me….but no more.

Marianne Williamson (taken from Oprah.com)
The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.

The word vengeance was included in Lesson 22 and Lesson 23, but today it has more meaning than it did yesterday. I no longer “fear” that word. Yesterday, when I first encountered the word vengeance, I immediately thought of – damnation and failure. I didn’t care for those words either, so to get a better understanding of the vengeance, and to eradicate the fear of the word I did some research.
Etymologies of the word vengeance:
Vengeance (n.)
c.1300 (originated circa 1300), Old French vengeance “revenge,” from vengier, venger “take revenge, to avenge,” – 1620s, “to avenge or revenge,” from Latin vindicatus” Meaning to clear from censure or doubt, by means of demonstration”

Prior to reading the etymology, my interpretation of vengeance meant: revenge, payback, destruction, and other negative connotations. After reading the etymology, I see that it also means: to clear from censure or doubt by demonstration. Well, this word is my new friend as I clear away fear, doubt, anger, confusion, etc. by doing the (ACIM) work.

Loving this Awe Inspiring moment!!

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about…”not good enough”

 Quote of the Day
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.” — Excerpted from A Course in Miracles

The Invitation

While browsing in the bookstore a few years ago, I came across this little book. I was intrigued by the cover because I love sunflowers. Then I noticed the author’s name Oriah and wondered if it had a meaning. It turns out that Oriah means “light of God” in Hebrew. I opened the book and saw the first line of the poem and I was hooked.

At the time of coming across this book I had someone in my life who constantly felt the need to, in my opinion, brag about what other people had and what they did for a living. Great that he knew influential people, but I don’t care what other people have or have not, their occupation, or their status. I want to know people’s heart and go below the surface of a person to get to know who they truly are, not what they project. So, this poem came right on time for me.

Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, 
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. 

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

 I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

© Mountaindreaming, from the book The Invitation published by HarperSanFrancisco, 1999 All rights reserved