Love is the party, pain is the hangover… so do you never celebrate again to avoid the hangover…or do you decide the party is worth it and just learn to recover from/treat the hangover?

The hangover may or may not even happen, what if you choose to deal with the magnitude of it only if/when you need to? But don’t let it prevent you from going to the party…this is your one best life.

What if all of life is just figuring out what you need/want/like/etc…through trial and error, nursing yourself back to health, repeat and become stronger in the process.

Not stronger as in “more prepared for a fight” or “better able to handle more without getting hurt”, but stronger as in increased knowledge of yourself and realizing that you will survive, life will go on.  Stronger in the knowledge that you allowed yourself to experience something wonderful and it was worth it. Stronger knowing that you can choose to stay stuck dwelling on your past “mistakes”, or you can acknowledge the strength you received from overcoming them and use it to empower your future.

Life is all about the learning; experimenting, enjoying, failing, succeeding, etc.… But none of those things are possible without leaving our comfort zone and refusing to let fear hold us back.

What are we so afraid of anyway?? You are so much stronger than you know! Let go of your self-limiting beliefs, have faith in who you are and allow yourself to truly LOVE YOUR LIFE!

                                     

 

                                     

 

                                     

 

                                    

 

                                   

 

                                     

 

                                     

 

 

                                    

It’s wonderful if others believe in you, but it’s only necessary that you believe in yourself.

There is only one YOU, be the U in Unique- the most successful people in the world got that way by being completely themselves…think about it 😉

Life is merely a collection of moments, strung together in chronological order. Imagine if you could find a tool that allowed you to get just a little more out of each moment…how much more that could mean for your life?

Recently, I was on a retreat.  One morning we had the opportunity to attend a guided meditation in a beautiful Sanctuary. After the session, I strolled down to an area called “Serenity”, where a bench overlooks a beautiful little pond filled with lotus blossoms preparing to bloom for the day. As I sat quietly, an older woman came by and asked if I minded if she shared the space with me. I happily moved over and we both sat, in silence, staring out over the pond.

Suddenly she exclaimed, “I just don’t really get meditation”. I asked if she had just been in the sanctuary to which she replied, “yes, I keep hearing all about meditation and I’m trying really hard…but I don’t think I really get what it’s supposed to do for me or my life”. I smiled and said that it was probably one of those things that she would realize as soon as she stopped “trying”. The two of us remained sitting in silence, looking over the pond and enjoying the warm morning sun on our faces.

After several minutes, a turtle came right to the edge of the pond and peeked his head out, as if to ask what we were doing at his pond. The woman laughed and said, “I didn’t know there was anything in this pond but the lotus”.  As we sat quietly a large catfish began to swim out from under the floating flowers, followed by several large coy fish in varying colors. Before we could finish admiring them a school of smaller fish hurried by, as if to see what was going on. It wasn’t long before a large frog began to sing his song from the far bank as three stunning little hummingbirds seemed to float right in front of us. It was absolutely beautiful, almost like being in a fairy tale. The butterflies flew from one blooming Lotus to another and the dragonflies seemed to be playing tag along the top of the water. A brightly colored mallard duck came waddling down from behind the yellow blooming cactus plants and casually plopped himself into the water as his mate remained behind in the shade. The lone turtle was soon joined by two friends and they began to sun themselves on the rocks protruding out of the water. None of the wildlife seemed to either notice or have any concern for our presence.

As we sat there admiring each new arrival, the woman looked out over the pond, let out a big exhale and exclaimed, “It’s really amazing…the longer you just sit here quietly, the more you become aware of.”  I took in her words and smiled. As I turned to her, I put my hand on her knee and said, “What a beautiful metaphor for how meditation enables you to live a more fulfilling life”. She sat silent for a bit, turned toward the pond, admired all of our friends, and suddenly began to laugh. “I get it” she said, “I have sat at this pond so many times this week but each time I have either been chatting with my husband, looking at my emails or figuring out which class to go to next. I have never actually taken the time to just be here.”  She said she was “grateful to the universe” for putting me at the bench to help her stop, be there, and notice all that she had been missing. With that, I thanked her for her beautiful metaphor and for helping reinforce my feeling of connection, the thing we all strive for most.

As I stood up to leave, she explained that she was going to stay at the bench a while and enjoy all that she had been missing. She marveled as to how all of the wildlife seemed to be appearing out of nowhere yet it had been there, right in front of her, the whole time. She realized that it was the first time all week that she had sat on that bench for the purpose of being on that bench. Before now, it was just a place to sit while she did something else. Being there this time, with no other focus, she was able to make space in her mind to allow for new awareness’s to be received. Instead of cluttering her mind with thoughts about the past or the future (what she just did or needed to do), she allowed herself to truly experience the moment, the “now”. She was emotionally present and we both felt a greater sense of fulfillment as we parted.

“Meditation is the process whereby we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Meditation may be thought of as a technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones”. –Dalai Lama

Meditation is the tool that empowers you to stay emotionally present in the moment. Doing so helps you get off auto-pilot and become an active participant in your life. Ultimately, this is the easiest and most assured way to live your Best Life.

There are as many different ways to meditate as there are people, there is no “right way”, just a way that is right for you. If you are brand new to the concept, guided meditations are available all over the internet, start with one, see what you like, what you don’t, and keep trying until you find what works for you. There is sitting meditation, standing, walking, laying down, etc.…, this is your one life and once you discover the benefits of taking 5 minutes a day, you’ll wish you hadn’t waited another second. Start where you are, start now, and don’t stop until you find what works for you. Enjoy your search, it is the journey that provides us with what we need to succeed when we reach our destination.   –Namaste

 

Mindfulness seems to be somewhat of a Buzz Word lately, even in circles it’s rarely been mentioned in before. Why is this? Is it because of “the grass is always greener…” phenomena? Have we, as a society, gotten so far away from being mindful that it has become the coveted “thing we don’t have”? I don’t know, but I think there’s a connection. I think things” have gotten so fast, even somewhat automatic, that taking a moment to be mindful of our life feels like coming up for a breath of air after swimming across the entire length of the pool under water. No one will deny that huge sense of accomplishment when you finally make it across the whole pool without surfacing; but how good does that breathe of air feel the moment you finish? That’s what mindfulness feels like to me, filling your life with more of those quality “moments”.

Mindfulness is practiced by many different people in many different ways and for just as many reasons, very much like meditation. Some people confuse mindfulness with meditation, and although they are often combined in mindfulness meditation (ex. being mindful of your breath while meditating), mindfulness is merely one of many types of meditation.  Generally speaking, the goal of meditation is to reach a heightened level of overall consciousness as a human being, whereas mindfulness is about living in the now; being aware of what is happening as it is happening without judgment, without even necessarily thinking about it, just experiencing it as it actually is. In short, the goal of mindfulness is to focus on being in the present, one moment at a time. Both are great practices alone and/or together. Knowing what you want to achieve and finding the method that works for you is what’s important. Personally, I have a daily practice of mindfulness, and I try to incorporate mediation into my life as often as I can. So, even though I don’t always make time for meditation, I’m always working on mindfulness.

Lately, I’ve been asked “Why do people practice mindfulness and “What’s so great about it”? I imagine answers vary greatly depending on who you ask. For me, having a mindfulness practice helps me stay grounded in my most authentic self, thereby helping me to get the most out of my life (becoming my Best Self to live my Best Life). By regularly touching base with what is real and how I feel about it, as opposed to what I think about it (or even what others think about it), I become more consciously aware of what is truly important to me, what matters to me; as opposed to allowing myself to get too caught up in or carried away with the everyday fast paced auto pilot of social comparisons and competitions; all of the external “shoulds”, which is so easy to do. This may sound strange but, by purposefully staying in touch my core values, I end up taking a more active role in living my life intentionally (instead of waking up and realizing that years have passed and wondering where the time has gone).

Some still wonder why that’s important to me. After having a mindfulness practice for a while, I have definitely noticed that I am far more grounded, stable and comfortable in my beliefs surrounding who I really am (my most authentic/best self), who I want to be (the role I want to have in my life story), and how I want to live and/or show up so that I feel good when I go to bed each night. I believe this is because now, as a result of this practice, when I am faced with certain situations, I am better able to instinctively stop for a second…and  consciously choose how to respond; versus before I would have merely reacted and, much of the time, fought with myself later about that reaction; How could I have said or done such a stupid thing, what was I thinking, etc.… thereby continuing to waste more of my life feeling badly about myself and, thus, creating a negative chain reaction; setting a mood/tone for whatever came next based on something that was already done. Now, because I work on making a habit out of stopping (if only for a split second) and getting in touch with what actually is, as opposed to my thoughts around it (i.e. how it should/shouldn’t be or even how others might perceive it), I am more aware of the difference between consciously choosing a response that is true to me versus reacting from a place of fear, anger, excitement, etc.… a place triggered by my thoughts and/or emotions about the situation instead of the actual situation. The more subtle, yet constantly increasing, benefit I feel is an overall sense of more depth in more moments of my life; I actually notice more incredible things than I use to on an ordinary day. I have become increasingly aware of how amazing our universe is and it helps fill me with a sense of gratitude even when I may be having a bad day.  In the long run, the ability to appreciate the richness of these moments more fully, adds up to more days, weeks, months, etc. and eventually more of my life.

Ultimately, by making a practice of mindfulness I am basically just training my brain to periodically stop and be more aware of things that are happening, as they are happening, and process them without judgement or even too much thought. Very much the same way I have trained my brain to drive a large suburban down crowded streets and end up at Target without much recollection of how I got there; it’s all about creating a habit through repetition, and it’s amazing how quickly your brain can adapt. Your brain is an incredible piece of a physiological miracle. When I’m driving to Target, for example, I am generally not triggered by emotions or thoughts about the trip, so my mind is free to wander. It wanders over to thoughts about the past, the future, songs on the radio…and before I know it, I’m parking the car. Now, because of my practice, when I, and/or my body, am triggered by emotions or thoughts, I am better able to notice the sensation of my mind running away (or sometimes just spinning) and stop it. Sort of like training a loyal pet who, because of past experiences, trusts you unconditionally so that when you ask it not to run off, it instinctively listens. Eventually, some pets will actually wait and look to you for a command before even considering running off; you have earned that trust. In much the same way, mindfulness has allowed me to become better at controlling my thoughts as opposed to allowing my thoughts to be in control of me.

As far as what my mindfulness practice is, I try to be mindful most of the time; whether I’m doing menial tasks around the house or having serious conversations with loved ones. I make an effort to stay mindful when I’m with my kids and even when I’m at the gym. However, almost every day I make a point to consciously dedicate some time to my practice, much the same way I dedicate time to the other muscles in my body that I want to maintain or strengthen.  To do this, I generally walk outside, in nature, with my dog. I watch the trees, sometimes a butterfly or a bird, or just my dog as he appreciates everything around him, with no obvious thoughts or judgments about anything beyond the moment. I do, and have done, many other types of mindfulness meditations and practices, but as for a consistent practice, which I feel is the most important ingredient for success at anything, for me, it’s always involved walking, nature, and the conscious decision to release all thoughts and judgments about whatever is happening from my mind and just be aware of WHAT IS. I notice thoughts and judgments when they occur (because they definitely still occur) I just don’t give them any time or attention. I notice it’s happening and I practice moving on, letting them go by like a cloud in the sky and I refocus on what is happening around me.

Do you have a mindfulness practice? What is it? Don’t have one yet? What will it be? You can google “mindfulness” and get more ideas and/or possibilities than you have time to try; check it out and see if any of them speak to you. What have you got to lose?

The way I look at it is this: The human body is between 50 and 75% water, with the average human body consisting of around 55%. That is at least half of our body weight! Knowing that, try to imagine yourself as a large container of water. When that container is calm, the surface area of the water is like a mirror, accurately reflecting all of its surroundings. However, if you rattle that container, throw a pebble into it, etc.… the water begins to ripple and the reflection of its surroundings becomes distorted. I think of having a mindfulness practice as a tool to help “keep my waters calm” so that when “life happens”, I can process a clear reflection of what is actually happening and choose how to respond. As opposed to reacting to a distorted perception of that reality.

Have fun finding a practice that works best for you, no matter what it ends up being. Maybe you’ll come up with something brand new and unique to you. Maybe you’ll have a few different practices for various times/situations and/or circumstances in your life. There are no rules, the important thing is that it works for you and that you do it, that’s really all that matters!

Be an active participant in your life, one moment at a time. You won’t be sorry!

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