Friday, November 30, 2012

Wisdom from The Universe

"Extend yourself, expecting nothing." --The Universe to me in a meditation on 11/17/11

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wisdom from Ahjan Chah (and Jefferson)

"If you haven't wept deeply, you haven't yet begun to meditate." --Ahjan Chah

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

10 Days

“Have faith in the stillness my friends, it is good for you and it is good for those that live and work around you.  Think of it like this: Imagine a light bulb over and above your head as you are entering a darkened room.  Before you enter the stillness, this light is very dim, just a glowing filament and It is difficult to see the path with only this dim light.  As you sit and clear the mind of chatter, imagine that the light is becoming brighter as the mind becomes quieter.  After stillness, the light is recharged -- bright and brilliant, lighting up the room where it is easy to see and where others can safely walk as well."--The 11:11 Progress Group

Later today I will be starting a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I am excited. Nervous. And a little bit unsure.

Can I really do this? Can I really be silent and meditate for ten days?

And that's it folks. Just meditation. For TEN DAYS.

No books. No music. No internet. No TV. No conversation. Just meditation. And sleep. And a bit of food. Maybe a shower here and there and a short walk after lunch.

But mostly it's just gonna be me and my mind sitting there wrestling with one another. Or, perhaps, not wrestling. Maybe we'll get along great when we're alone and far from the madding crowds of everyday life. Maybe we'll be just fine.

I have been thinking about this for awhile....wanting to do it, but not pulling the trigger. I came up with many reasons why it just wouldn't work - the kids, the dog, my volunteer responsibilities, the dog...did I mention the dog? I'm her person, how can I leave her for ten days? What will she do?

But every time I tried to get out of it my guides sent me this very clear message: "YOU'RE GOING!"

So, I'm going.

Later today.

I'm packed and everything.

And while I'm gone I'm going to share some of my favorite quotes about meditation with you in case you want to try it yourself. Or in case you already have, but need some inspiration to try it again. Or in case you just need a reason to keep it up.

In the meantime, please send me your thoughts and prayers. See you in December! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Small Kindnesses

"Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in the world. Kindness can change the lives of people." --Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Daw Aung San Sun Kyi, a Burmese pro-Democracy leader who spent nearly 15 years under house arrest as a political prisoner (with thanks to my friend Jonathan for the quote....)

I wasn't planning to talk about kindness today, but my friend Fiona has a new edition of her book, "Small Kindnesses" coming out today (and a FREE download on today only!) and I want to support that. Plus, as we move into the holiday season with all of its hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget to be kind.

Some of the greatest kindnesses that have been shown to me in my life have been the small ones.

Last night my husband walked the dog for me when I was exhausted and couldn't imagine doing one more thing. It was such a gift that at that moment I would not have exchanged this small kindness for all the jewelry in the world.

The other day a friend sent me a copy of his most recent "news" letter in an envelope which was beautifully addressed using various inks and alphabets. It was such a joy to receive, even before I read the words he had written.

I think we all need a lot more of this kind of kindness in the world right now.

Just going out into the world during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas can feel uncomfortable because of all the tension in the air. All of us running around with the lists in our heads of all we need to DO and BUY and BAKE and WRAP before the "big day." Small kindnesses during this time can make a big difference.

Let someone who is in a hurry go first in line at the grocery store. Be patient with the sales clerk who doesn't know how to sell a gift card. Don't honk at the person who cuts you off on the freeway. Instead offer them a friendly wave that says, "It's okay, we all make mistakes."

Forgive someone who has hurt you without a confrontation or apology. Lower your expectations of those around you. Take the time to notice what is going right and speak it aloud. Heart-felt words of gratitude feel like an exquisite kindness in the face of SO MUCH TO DO!

Don't forget to offer small kindnesses to yourself as well. A deep breath. A nap. A walk. An hour in a tub of hot salt water does wonders this time of year.

Knock one or two things off of your "to do" list. Appreciate yourself for what you are doing. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Let yourself be free.

Small kindnesses can make such a difference in our world. They can change lives. Maybe even yours.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Just for today, do not worry. Just for today, do not anger....Show gratitude in everything." --Dr. Mikao Usui

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wisdom from Amara Rose

"Be grateful for all the challenging people in your life–bosses, co-workers, in-laws, children, friends–because they're your greatest teachers. These relationships are difficult precisely because of your resistance to the lesson, which might be about compassion, self-worth, generosity, or unconditional love." --Amara Rose

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wisdom from "happy"

"The formula for happiness is not the same for everyone, but the good news is the things we love are the building blocks of happiness. Play. Having new experiences. Friends and family. Doing things we love. Appreciating what we have. These are the things that make us happy - and they're free. And with happiness, the more you have, the more everyone has." --From the movie "happy"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beyond Left vs. Right

"Where things are not equal, balanced, or healthy, they need to be let go of or re-negotiated." --Divine Harmony 

Over the past couple of years I have begun to notice how very right-sided I am. For forty-three years I have done almost everything with my right hand. I brush my teeth with my right hand. I text with my right hand. I scrub pots and pans with my right hand. I scoop up my kids with my right hand. I write with my right hand.

And I had never even noticed the imbalance this was creating in my body - and in my life - until very recently. Suddenly I became very aware that the nerves in my right arm felt tender after using the computer for a long period of time, that the right side of my body felt tense after a 30 minute swim, that my right calf felt tight after a run, while the left side of my body still felt strong, healthy, and loose after these same activities.

Once I noticed it, I couldn't not notice it, and it became more and more clear that the two sides of my body were seriously imbalanced. So I decided to start playing around with this to see if I could change it at all.

I started small, by brushing my teeth with my left hand instead of my right. It felt odd, and I wasn't sure my dentist would approve, but it also felt oddly liberating, as if I were breaking some unwritten rule, which I guess in a way I was -  the unwritten rule of my genetics.

Next I started swimming differently. Breathing to the left side occasionally instead of to the right side on every stroke. At first I could only do a lap or two this way, before having to revert to right-side breathing only, but after a very short time (shorter than I would have imagined) I was able to do fully half of my work-out using left-side breathing. Now when I get out of the pool, my body feels more balanced than at any other time of the day.

I have also moved my mouse to the left side of my computer and I try to use my left-hand mouse about 90% of the time to redress the imbalance of years of right-hand only mousing. It is still awkward, but I don't feel as tender on my right side when I get up from my computer as I used to.

I still have to remind myself to text with my left hand or brush my teeth with my left hand, neither come naturally yet, and I have only recently started to experiment with pot scrubbing with my left hand. It is extremely difficult to get a dirty pot really, really clean with my left hand, but I am committed to seeing how far I can take this. And I am more than curious to see how it effects my life in other ways.

Theoretically, by using the left side of my body more often, I am also using my right brain more often, which may lead to more highly developed right-brain thinking. And that could revolutionize my life. In a way the whole point of my spiritual journey is to get out of my linear left brain and into my more intuitive right brain. Can changing the way I use my body facilitate and support this process in a new way? I have no idea, but am eager to find out what secondary changes I may experience as a result of this new, more balanced way of using my body.

Which brings us to today.

Today we as a nation will decide which way we want to go politically over the next four years. Are we going to stay left or turn to the right? And which is better for all us?

Those of you who know me know what I believe, but let's look objectively for a moment at these two choices and and the past four years.

Despite his - I believe - earnest intent to be a bridge-builder, Barack Obama's presidency has had a polarizing effect on our country. The hatred and vitriol on talk radio and cable television is getting worse instead of better. Our elected representatives in Washington are less likely than ever to work with someone across the isle to effect real change. And we are all well and truly frightened for the future of this country.

Many "red" voters honestly believe that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, recognizing the right of all people to marry, and reelecting Barack Obama are signs that this country is going to hell in a hand basket, while many "blue" voters believe that electing Mitt Romney as our next president will turn our country into an uninhabitable den of corruption, deceit and lies. (If I am honest, I may believe this a bit myself.) 

The thing is, we are all going to have to live with the outcome of this election. And that outcome, either way, is going to be hugely imbalanced.

This polarization and lack of respect hurts us all. And it is having ripple effects throughout our country similar to the ripple-effects forty-three years of over-reliance on the right side of my body has had in my life.

Which is why, no matter what the outcome of the election today I am going to try not to gloat or grieve, but to look for the positive in whatever comes next. To re-negotiate my relationship to our country's politics. And, as Barack Obama would have us all do, to remember:

"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. "

Whatever the outcome of the election today, may we all have the courage to re-negotiate our relationship to our next President and to each other. To find the places where we meet. To achieve balance. To see things not as black or white, red or blue, but shades of purple.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mindful Writing Day & FREE BOOK

"When you notice something clearly and see it vividly, it becomes sacred." --Allan Ginsberg

Today is the first-ever Mindful Writing Day, a day set aside to slow down, pay attention, and write about what you observe in those moments of stillness. Won't you join us? 

For more information, follow the link above or go to Writing Our Way Home.

Today is also free download day at of the new small stones anthology, "A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems." So hop on over to Amazon and grab your free copy. Write a rave review - and your own small stone - and have it published on the small stones blogzine, A Handful of Stones. Then sit back, relax and enjoy that feeling that comes from being more mindful, more connected to your world.

Here is my small stone for the day:


a steaming mug of tea
i wait.
i wait.
i wait....
a splash of cream
a sip
i taste-
a good read in a comfy leather chair
a roaring fire on a rainy day
a long afternoon nap in which time stops


Read more at pebbles are small stones.

Have a sacred day!