Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category
If you find yourself looking forward to the end of the holiday season instead of the beginning, here’s a call to shift gears and reclaim what should be a time of appreciation, excitement, joy, and peace. Make up your mind that this is going to be your happiest holiday season ever. Your decision to emphasize the positive can reclaim a season that is supposed to bring out the best in us, rather than do us in. The truth is that this time of year offers us a wonderful opportunity to rekindle the spirit of love and living life to the fullest.
With your expectations set on positive, here are some attitude adjustments to try:
I’ll let the holidays flow, rather than trying to make them fit into a fixed schedule.
I’ll remember that people are more important than things.
I’ll relax my expectations for myself and others this year.
I’m going to live in the present moment and enjoy each activity for itself instead of always thinking about what is ahead of me.
I’m going to approach the holidays with a sense of joyful anticipation and wonder, just like I did when I was a child. Continue Reading
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” This is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s description of the deep nature of relationship between ourselves and our fellow human beings. If you desire peace for others, you’ll receive it. If you want others to feel loved, you’ll be the recipient of love. If you see only beauty and worthiness in others, you’ll have the same returned to you. You’ll only give away what you have in your heart, and attract what you’re giving away. Your impact on others—whether it be strangers, family members, co-workers, or neighbors—is evidence of the strength of your connection to the power of intention. Think of your relationships in terms of holy or unholy.
Holy relationships facilitate the power of intention at a high energy level for everyone involved. Unholy relationships keep the energy at the lower, slower levels for all concerned. Continue Reading
If you’re presently evaluating your level of achievement based on how much you’ve accumulated, here’s a way to make a major shift in your state of personal satisfaction and contentment. Verse 46 of the Tao Te Ching invites you to discover a more peaceful and self-satisfying way of knowing success. “Contentment alone is enough,” says Lao-tzu. “Indeed, the bliss of eternity can be found in contentment.” As you let go of the determination to acquire more, your new views will change the world you’ve known. You’ll find that the experience of inner peace becomes your true gauge of accomplishment.
The “disease of more” has created an environment that personifies Lao-tzu’s observation that there is “no greater tragedy than discontentment.” When you truly understand what it means to live peacefully, satisfaction will begin to replace your desire for more. Your world will begin to become tranquil as you change your own life and then touch the lives of your immediate family, your neighbors, your co-workers, and ultimately your nation and the entire planet. Begin by simply thinking of the opening line of the famous Prayer of Saint Francis when you notice that you’re demanding more of anything.
Silently say, Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. As that instrument of peace, Continue Reading
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
— The Prayer of St. Francis
You can become an instrument of peace in any given moment of your life by deciding that you are not going to use your mind for anything other than peaceful thoughts. This may sound extreme to you when you take into consideration all the difficult people you have to deal with, your financial picture, the illness of a close relative, the inconsiderate boss you must face, the taxes you owe, as well as outrageous traffic delays, and on and on. Try taking a breather from your habit of continuously looking for occasions to be non-peaceful. Go to that quiet, serene peaceful place within you that is covered by the outer layers of your material life. It is here that you know what being an instrument of peace means. Here, your emphasis is on giving, rather than receiving, peace.
When you are an instrument of peace, you are not seeking anything, you are a peace provider. You do not seek peace by looking into the lives of others and wishing that they would change so that you could become more peaceful. Rather, you bring your own sense of calm to everyone you encounter. You do not go about viewing every circumstance of your life in terms of whether it meets with your standard of peace. Rather, you bring your peaceful countenance to the chaos you encounter and your presence soothes the outer turmoil. Even if the turmoil continues, you have the freedom to choose a peaceful thought, or to quietly remove yourself from the immediate scene. How do you do this? Continue Reading
Having a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing sounds easy until you think about how much conditioning has taken place in your life, and how many of your current thoughts were influenced by geography, the religious beliefs of your ancestors, the color of your skin, the shape of your eyes, the political orientation of your parents, your size, your gender, the schools that were selected for you, and the vocation of your great-grandparents, to list only some possibilities. You showed up here as a tiny infant capable of an infinite number of potentialities. Many of your choices remain unexplored because of a hopefully well-intentioned conditioning program designed to make you fit the culture of your caretakers. You probably had next to no opportunity to disagree with the cultural and societal arrangements made for your life.
There may have been some adults who encouraged you to have an open mind, but if you’re honest with yourself, you know that your philosophy of life, your religious beliefs, your manner of dress, and your language are a function of what your tribe (and its heritage) determined was right for you. If you made any fuss about going against this preordained conditioning, you probably heard even stronger voices insisting that you get back in line and Continue Reading
There’s nothing natural about living a life filled with stress and anxiety, having feelings of despair or depression, and needing pills to tranquilize yourself. Agitated thoughts that produce high blood pressure, a nervous stomach, persistent feelings of discomfort, an inability to relax or sleep, and frequent displays of displeasure and outrage are violating your natural state. Believe it or not, you have the power to create the naturally stress-free and tranquil life you desire. You can utilize this power to attract frustration or joy, anxiety or peace. So if it’s natural to have feelings of well-being, why is it that we seem to experience so much “unwellness” and tension?
The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking. That pesky ego is at work when you’re experiencing stress or anxiety. We speak of stress as if it were present in the world as something that attacks us. But the stress in your body is rarely the result of external forces or entities attacking you; it’s the result of the weakened connection to Source caused by the belief that ego is who you are. You are peace and joy, but you’ve allowed your ego to dominate your life. Here’s a short list of stress-inducing thoughts that originate in your ego self: Continue Reading
The willingness and ability to live fully in the now eludes many people. While eating your appetizer, don’t be concerned with dessert. While reading a book, notice where your thoughts are. While on vacation, be there instead of thinking about what should have been done and what has to be done when returning home. Don’t let the elusive present moment get used up by thoughts that aren’t in the here and now.
There’s an irony to this habit of letting your mind drift to other times and other places. You can only drift off in the now, because now is all you ever get. So drifting off is a way of using up your present moments. You do indeed have a past, but not now! And, yes, you have a future, but not now! You can consume your now with thoughts of “then” and “maybe,” but that will keep you from the inner peace you could experience.
Do God’s other creatures waste the present in thoughts of the past and future? A beaver only does beaver, and he does it right in the moment. He doesn’t spend his days wishing he were a young beaver again, or ruminating over the fact that his beaver siblings receive more attention, or his father beaver ran off with a younger beaver when he was growing up. He’s always in the now. Continue Reading
As the father of eight and grandfather of six, I’ve been blessed with abundant opportunities to be present with babies. That’s how I know the amazing lessons that we can all learn from observing babies and trying to emulate their joy. You didn’t come forth into this world to suffer, to be anxious, fearful, stressful, or depressed. You came from the God-consciousness of joy. Just watch little babies. They’ve done nothing to be so happy about. They don’t work; they poop in their pants; and they have no goals other than to expand, grow, and explore this amazing world. They love everyone, they’re completely entertained by a plastic bottle or goofy faces, and they’re in a constant state of love—yet they have no teeth, no hair, and they’re pudgy and flatulent. How could they possibly be so joyful and easily pleased? Because they’re still in harmony with the Source that intended them here; they have no resistance to being joyful. Be like that baby you once were in terms of being joyful. You don’t need a reason to be happy…your desire to be so is sufficient. And in case your world is short on newborns right now, take a look at Anna Quindlen and Nick Kelsh’s wonderful new photo book Naked Babies for a visit to the world of the youngest among us.
As I was driving my daughter Sommer to the airport for her return to college after a long weekend home, she was admiring my new watch. This was the first new timepiece I’d had in at least a decade. I really enjoyed looking at its shiny steel-and-black face, and as I did, I’d think about how this was my favorite watch of all time. Yet I knew in my heart that Sommer would love to wear it, since men’s watches seemed to be the current craze for young women.
As I dropped her off at the curb and assisted her with her luggage, I was prompted to remove the watch and give it to her, even though it was my most prized possession (particularly since I have almost no possessions any longer that I even care about, let alone prize).
Sommer’s response was, “No, Dad, you love this watch!”
I insisted, telling her that I’d feel greater joy by giving it to her and knowing she’d treasure it. I also felt that it would symbolize our staying together in time, even though we’d be thousands of miles apart. She boarded her plane glowing, and I left feeling that I had grown immeasurably as a person, since such a compassionate act would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for me several years ago.
Sommer called me in Maui a few months later to tell me that she was sending me a present, stressing that it was a very, very special gift. It turned out to be her all-time favorite painting that she’d created and had hung in her apartment for a long time. As she told me later: “I really learned something the day you gave me your beloved watch, and I wanted to give you something that’s my single most precious item. I’m giving it to you, Dad, even though it’s difficult to part with, because I want you to have a piece of me that I love with you.”
The painting hangs proudly on my wall as a symbol of the beauty and perfection of reaching out compassionately in response to a felt moment. By being and living compassion, you invite and encourage others, just by your example, to choose to do the same.
Here’s a favorite quote: “The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things.” Think about this observation by the great mental-science practitioner of the early 20th century, Thomas Troward. In the early days of shipbuilding, ships were made of wood, and the reasoning was that wood floats in water and iron sinks. Yet today, ships all over the world are built of iron. As people began studying the law of floatation, it was discovered that anything could float if it’s lighter than the mass of liquid it displaces.
The key word in Troward’s quote is contemplating, or what you’re placing your thoughts on. You can’t discover the law of co-creation if you’re contemplating what’s missing. You can’t discover the power of awakening if you’re contemplating things that are still asleep. The secret to manifesting anything that you desire is your willingness and ability to realign yourself so that your inner world is in harmony with the power of intention. Every single modern advance that you see and take for granted was created by someone contemplating what they intended to manifest.
The way to establish a relationship with Spirit and access the power of this creating principle is to continuously contemplate yourself surrounded by the conditions you wish to produce. Dwell on the idea of a supreme infinite power producing the results that you desire. This power is the creative power of the universe.
The Wright brothers didn’t contemplate the staying on the ground of things. Alexander Graham Bell didn’t contemplate the noncommunication of things. Thomas Edison didn’t contemplate the darkness of things. In order to float an idea into your reality, you must be willing to do a somersault into the inconceivable and land on your feet, contemplating what you want instead of what you don’t have.
Recently, a Canadian friend told me about taking his kids to a concert put on by a big name, hugely successful rock band. My friend was delighted with the heartfelt gratitude the musicians expressed to their fans, thanking them for making possible a life of creative joy and opportunity. The fans were wildly grateful, too, for the enjoyment the band provided.
Most of the people I’ve met or observed who are at the top levels in their chosen fields have these attitudes of gratitude and “radical humility.” After all, when so many high achievers reach for their statuette or championship trophy, they say, “First I’d like to thank God.” It’s almost as if they can’t help themselves—they’re so grateful for their accolade, but even more than that, they know that there’s a Force in the Universe way bigger than they are that allows them to act, sing, write, compete, or design. And if we adopt this kind of an attitude, we’ll inspire others to do the same. If we practice gratitude as opposed to maintaining an attitude of entitlement, we’ll automatically extend inspiration wherever we go. Being grateful helps remove the influence of our egos, which is certain that we’re better than everyone else. An attitude of gratitude allows us to adopt the radical humility that’s very persuasive in helping others connect with the Spirit that unites us all.
Without exception, I begin every day of my life with an expression of gratitude. As I look in the mirror to begin my daily ritual of shaving, I say, “Thank you, God, for this life, for my body, for my family and loved ones, for this day, and for the opportunity to be of service. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Gratitude and humility send signals to all who meet us that we’re all connected to something larger than life itself.
Do you avoid the supermarket line with the crabby clerk who is flinging the groceries across the scanner while scowling at the customers? Try this experiment which I love to practice. See if you can convert the cranky clerk, the surly waiter, or the rude, impatient public employee with a dose of kindness and courtesy. It makes a great chance to cultivate the third cardinal virtue spoken of by Lao-tzu: gentleness, which manifests as kindness and consideration for others. Gentleness means accepting life and people as they are—leading the way to peaceful relationships. Kindness is contagious. Modeling it opens the door for the cranky, the surly, the rude, and the crabby to let go of what really are uncomfortable, unhappy, and unrewarding feelings. Smiling and showing consideration for someone’s feelings, pointing out something positive to focus on are ways I like to use in my efforts to convert those who are clearly suffering in their appointed tasks and need help to feel better. Remember the calling of our Divine nature—“How may I serve?” We can serve by offering a helping of kindness to those who serve us and enjoy the pleasure of lifting them up to a more peaceful, joyful place.