Earth to Self

With the New Year approaching, many of us will find ourselves reflecting on the year gone by, and planning for the year ahead, and quite possibly, setting New Years Resolutions.  Which suggests that we have  life-work to do, and this work is undoubtedly some of the most difficult internal work we do as humans.

So, how do we get this work done?

First and foremost, it is important that we reignite the relationship that we have with our very own self.  This means re- tuning into the messages we receive from our bodies, our intuition, and the loved ones and endeavors that lift us higher.  As you do this, consider what it is that you transmit and receive in life.  What about this works for you, and what does not? In what ways do you dis/connect from yourself and others?

The following points are ways that many of us dampen and sever the connection we have with those most important to us, including our own selves.

Being everywhere but here:  In yoga, we often discuss the idea of “being present.”  But what does that even mean?  It means that we are able to channel our presence in order to be available to the moment that we are in.

Ignoring the body:  Many of us learn to disassociate from our physical bodies and instead learn pay more attention to physical habits that mandate our bodily attention , such as food ,body image, addiction, self-care, etcetera.  Regardless of your bodily experience, know that embodiment is the connection. Therefore, live within your body:  listen to its messages, relearn how and when to feed it, give it plenty of movement, and just as importantly, rest, and find faith in its processes.

Ignoring your thoughts:  Walk through a day-in-your-mind, and notice the commentary.

Attempting  to prove our worth:  You are enough, and you are worthy.  Worth is not proved.  It is inherent.

Mixing up priorities:   This is easier said than done.  Nonetheless, ask yourself:  What are your priorities in life?  How do you show prioritization to those that you cherish?  How do you prioritize your own needs?

Trusting outside information over your own intuition:   Ignore technology.  Ignore the media.  Ignore what doesn’t resonate.  Instead, let go and connect with the rhythms of your body and mind.

Compromising yourself and loved ones:   Stop people-pleasing.  Advocate and be assertive on behalf of yourself and your loved ones.

Find balance:  For most, balance does not exist in the sense that we pursue it.  Balance is not a fixed state, rather it is a fluid state of adjustment, adaptation, giving and receiving.

Limiting joy:  Make time for the things that feel good and light your soul on fire.  Laugh.  Play.  Embrace all that brings you joy.

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The Raft

As the New Year approaches, many of us will be reflecting on the days gone by of 2015, recalling both times that have warmed our hearts and hard lessons learned. Likewise, many of us will be looking ahead to 2016, welcoming the upcoming year with open arms and anticipating the great fortunate of another year of life.

So, as you transition into this New Year, whether you are looking behind to 2015 or ahead into 2016, please consider the following Buddhist parable:

A young man, who has been traveling for many days, has become trapped on one side of the river. On this side of the river, there is great danger and uncertainty, and on the other, there is safety. Of course, to continue on his journey, he must leave this dangerous side of the river and brave the water in hopes of reaching the safety of the other side. However, as he surveys the land, he realizes that there is no ferry to bring him across the river, and no bridge spanning the water. As he takes stock of his own belongings, he is reminded that he has only the clothes on his back, the shoes on his feet, and a small number of survival tools in his knapsack. After sifting through his knapsack, however, he realizes that he has everything 3Hvis det oppstar en systemfeil i casino online et, er alle innsatser ugyldige. he needs to build a small raft to help him reach the other side. So, he diligently gathers logs, leaves, vines, and mud, and fashions a raft that will float him across the river. When the raft is complete, the man drags it to the bank of the river, climbs atop, and using his hands and feet, paddles himself to the other side of the river to safety.

Imagine that you are this man, and you have just paddled yourself across the river to the banks of safety. What is it that you will do next? Do you bring your raft with you and carry it across your back, thinking to yourself, “This raft has served me so well in the past, and I am rather fond of it. I will be so happy to have it, should I need it again”? Or, do you lay the raft down gratefully and leave it behind, thinking, “This raft has served me so well. I am so fortunate to have been able to use it! Should I need it again, I now know that I have everything I need to build another one”?

…Most of us would agree that the second option is the wisest. While it would be nice to have a raft should we need it in the future, we see that it would be rather cumbersome to carry the raft with us and that doing so would undoubtedly slow us down as we continue on our journey. And, we have learned, much like the man in our story, that there is no need to burden ourselves with things such as this raft, because we do indeed carry with us everything we need to continue on our path, no matter what it is that we encounter.

So, as you journey into 2016, I encourage you to take inventory of yourself and your “belongings”. As you do so, remember that most things, like the raft, are meant to be used to “cross over”, rather than to be carried with us.

Another Holiday Throwback

While sifting through an assortment of mementos from last year’s holiday season, I came across my then-four-year-old daughter’s Christmas list. I had found it so endearing that I included it in my column.

Some of you may remember such highlights as: a brand-new real-live kitten, someone to come out of the TV, a huge motorcycle machine that drives her off in pretty clothes, to climb a mountain and slide down a rainbow and run super-fast in the really-far woods, sticky gloves to climb the walls and ceiling, her own money that is pink, and a brand new costume that is everything.

Rae, who is now a spirited five-year-old, wrote a Christmas list this year that includes no more and no less than one bunny rabbit, a hamster named Mr. Cuddles, a pet cat, one chipmunk, and a wiener dog. After reviewing this list with her, I asked Rae if there was anything else that she would like from Santa. Her reply, of course, was “Fairies!”

In response to this list, I told her, “These are all living things, Rae. Isn’t there something else that you might like? I only see living things on your list. Why don’t I see anything inanimate? Why do you only want pets?”

Without skipping a beat, Rae said quite matter of factly, “Because I will love them. And they will love me.”

Her brother Ian, who included a goat on his Christmas list this year, chimed in and asked, “Yeah, what matters more than that, Mom?”

…And, not surprisingly, I had no reply. Because they are right. As much as I do not want a bunny rabbit, a hamster, a pet cat, one chipmunk, a wiener dog, and a goat occupying my already very busy and very tiny home, I had no answer to this very simple question.

Nor could I argue with the point that they had made.

Because, really, there is precious little on this Earth that matters more than love.

Especially the selfless love that children seem so eager, and so naturally able, to give and receive.

And that is truly the essence of the holiday season, is it not? To celebrate those that we love most, not that which we love most. To cherish our loved ones. To love them, nurture them, and allow them the opportunity to do the same for their loved ones.

So, this holiday season, rather than focusing on what you have in your life, I hope you are instead able to focus on who you have in your life. Shift your focus from the things that we fill our lives with to those that fulfill our lives. Those that we have to love and to cherish. And those that we receive love from.

Coulda, Shoulda. Whatever. Just Do It.

 

At the dawn of the New Year, a young student was told by his master, “Now that you are becoming more aware of yourself, I would like you to set reassess this years’ goals, so as not to lose the momentum that you have recently gained.”

“Much like a New Year’s Resolution,” the student said.

The master replied, “Exactly”, and then he gave the following assignment: “Make two lists. The first will include the New Year’s Resolutions of this year that you would like to keep. The second will include the Resolutions that you actually will keep. Begin with the first list, and when you have exhausted all of your ideas, begin your second list.”

The student went home and began his assignment immediately.

As he created his list of wants, he jotted down all the things that he had always wanted to do, from the things that he had been meaning to get around to his wildest dreams. After nearly an hour, his list of wants filled an entire page and contained all of his ideas about an ideal life. He then began the second list of the Resolutions that he will keep, which he found to be much easier and far more realistic and practical.

He brought both lists to his master the following morning. Upon greeting the student, the master said, “Tell me about your two lists.”

“The first list,” explained the student, “Contains all the things that I should do if I were to change my life in such a way to become the person that I have always wanted to be. The second list contains everything that I could do by accepting my life as it is and taking a more practical approach to the living the life of my dreams.”

“Interesting,” said the master, “Please let me see the second list.”

Without even looking at the list, the master ripped the piece of paper into tiny shreds and threw it away. The student felt hurt by this at first, however, it soon dawned on him that this second list did not matter whatsoever. It was the first list, the list containing his dream life, that mattered most.

“And now, the first list,” Said the master, holding out his hands.

And upon being handed the first list, he crumpled it up and tossed it into the trash without another thought.

Angry and hurt, the student cried, “Why did you do that!?”

“What you could do with your life does not matter. Nor does what you should do with your life,” explained the master. “The only thing that matters from this moment forward is what you actually do do.”

A Blast From Christmas Past

Reposted from December 12th, 2012

Once again, Christmas is upon us, and many of us are finding ourselves immersed in holiday cheer and excitement, magical festivities, heartwarming traditions, and the sheer goodness that seems to accompany the holiday season.

Each year, as I begin preparing for the holidays, I ask my children to write a letter to Santa Claus. In their letters, they of course take care to include their holiday wish list. This year, my four year-old daughter asked Santa for the following things:

  1. A kitten (brand new)

  1. Someone to come out of the TV (maybe Dora and Diego)

  1. A huge motorcycle machine that drives me off in pretty clothes

  1. To slide down a rainbow

  1. To climb a mountain

  1. A make-up party

  1. Sticky gloves to stick on the walls and climb the ceiling

  1. Run super-fast in the really far woods

  1. My own money. That is pink

  1. A phone that I call someone for real

  1. A brand new costume that is everything

…Fortunately for Santa and I, her list included thirteen additional items that are a bit more feasible in terms of holiday gift-giving, while my ten year-old son created a list of five items, such as Legos and DS games, that he would like to receive from Santa Claus. To be fair, I asked my husband to do the same, and after several days of deliberation, he was able to think of one thing that he would like for Christmas. I, on the other hand, am still thinking of something tangible that I would like to receive this year.

As I reviewed my family’s wish lists, I could not help but to reflect upon the experience of Christmas, and the transformation it undergoes as we mature. As four year-olds, we are much like my daughter. We are in awe of the magical wonderland that is Christmas, believing in such beautiful things as the selfless charity of a timeless old man, the flight of his eight tiny reindeer, and the possibility of even our wildest dreams coming true. As we grow older, however, it seems that we slowly lose touch with this fantastical side of ourselves. Instead, we gravitate toward things that are more realistic in nature, more tangible, and less whimsical. We forgo our imagination, intuition, and creativity in favor of relying on our logic, reason, and practicality, and before we know it, we have become immersed in a reality that reflects our idled dreams. Our Christmas, then, is no longer a time of magic and wonder. Rather, it has become a time of hustle, bustle, stuff, and stress.

Of course, I fully recognize that at least some part of ourselves must operate in the realistic realm. However, I do encourage you to adopt your inner four year-old this season, and rediscover the magic of Christmas and the beauty of your every-day life.