It’s All Thanks To You

bright closeup picture of magic twinkles on female hands

 

I am so grateful to you. For stopping to read this post. For taking the time to read these weekly love notes and hopefully relax a bit because of my words. For living your life in the most conscious, loving, awake way possible. The world needs loving, awake people; it’s the only chance we’ve got.
My offering to you on this snowy day (lights have been blinking but power’s still on!) is a portion of the chapter on gratitude from my book Crazy World, Peaceful Heart. ​
Because while tomorrow is a day dedicated to gratitude, in truth every day is an opportunity to be grateful for all of the large and small ways we are supported. Even if it’s simply the chair beneath your tush in your worst possible moment, remember that you are always supported. And love truly is all there is.
So here it is; enjoy, and thanks.

 
Sanctify Daily Life With Gratitude

Mother Theresa is famous for having said, “We may not be able to do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” This may be the wisest hidden-in-plain- sight spiritual truth of all — it is the quality of attention we bring to what we do that brings the juice of holiness to every action.

We hear a lot about gratitude these days, but have you really thought about what gratitude is and why it is so powerful?
On the most basic level it makes us feel better to think about and appreciate all that we have in our lives — a roof over one’s head, enough food to eat, people who love us warts and all, a hot shower to help us start the day — than to focus on what we don’t have, which often just leads to a pity party.

On its deepest level, gratitude is a way of taking our place in the circle of life. It shows that you acknowledge you are here for a reason, a unique and complex piece of All- That-Is. There is a prayer that is said by religiously observant Jews each morning the very moment they become aware of being conscious: “Thank You for mercifully reawakening my soul within me, great is Your trust.”

WOW — Great is Your trust. The life force awakens us with tremendous trust and mercy to do something worthwhile with our allotted time here. We acknowledge being given a fresh chance each day to do more good than harm, to add something positive to the collective consciousness, to offer our time in service to something other than our individual self.

What a privilege…what an honor…what a mantra for giving shape and direction to a day that might otherwise start with thoughts of “oh shit, today I have to…” You may still have those thoughts — worry is as much a part of life as anything — but when you shine the light of awareness on gratitude for the opportunity to be part of a larger energy, the worry thoughts slip further out to the edges where the light is not so bright.

Take a Hint From Moses

One of the most amazing things about the Jewish faith in which I was raised is that there is a blessing for everything…and I mean EVERYTHING!

It starts with the blessing for coming back to life each morning. There are blessings for wine and for bread, for washing hands before a meal, for seeing a rainbow, and for the first fruit of the season. There is even a blessing of gratitude for having a bowel movement, praising the Creator of orifices for their ability to work correctly (now isn’t that something to offer praise and thanks for—imagine if they didn’t?!?). It reminds us that everything is indeed holy, from the loftiest vision to the earthiest bodily function.

I don’t know all of those blessings the way rigorously observant Jews do, but my life is deliciously informed by the fact that they exist. The path of blessing is deep and wide, and we have only to step into its flow and sanctify as many moments of our lives as possible. With attention and gratitude, we remember that we are an integral part of All-That-Is and take responsibility for our impact on the whole.

Happy Thanksgiving…happy life!

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Where’s Your Head At?

Happy Women's Day greeting card or background with a blue silhou

 

 

I used to joke sometimes with massage clients that their neck and shoulders were sore from holding up heads filled with so many thoughts. And it didn’t always feel like a joke — there’s often too much going on up there for one head to contain!

When it feels creative, fanciful and flowing like the image above, it doesn’t seem like a problem. But heads are tricky places for most of us. We get stuck in circuitous thinking that doesn’t exactly get us anywhere. Buddhists call is “monkey mind.” I liken it to a dog with a bone, working it over and over and over. Grrrr, grrrr.

Years ago I studied Gestalt therapy; the founder, Fritz Perls, was known for encouraging patients (and therapists) to “get out of your head and into your body.”

The physiological truth is that your mind is found in every cell of your body. So being present to, really attending to our body and expressing ourselves through it, creates space for softening the vise grip with which we attack ourselves in our minds.

What if you were to stop working an issue over and go for a walk instead? Or get up and dance, moving around the room in any way that feels good in the moment?

​Maybe you’d prefer to draw or doodle; cook a big pot of soup, chopping away at those veggies; or even, as I posted on Facebook recently, organize your sock drawer. (A great way to mast/er a small corner of your environment when you’re feeling particularly not in control!)

Last week’s message was about action changing things. This week, it’s more about how action loosens your mind’s grip on what it wants, what it can’t have or can’t yet achieve. It encourages movement, fluidity, flow and the grace that comes from letting your bodymind lead the way over your head/mind.

So where IS your head at? I’d truly love to hear about it!

3 Ways To Feel Better Now

Action Changes Things Acronym

 

This morning I read a great blog post about upgrading your life via something called biohacking. The lingo was a sometimes a bit scientific but the overall message was great — how to take action and make changes that make a difference in how you feel, think and respond.

It inspired me to get on the floor and stretch out some tight muscles. I even got out some of my (rarely used these days) self-care tools — footsie roller, small balls for self-massage, still point inducer. Worth Googling if you’re not familiar…

There is often a gap between what we know and what we do. It’s easier to take in information than to implement it, especially in the realm of health and wellness.

As I was rolling around on the floor, listening to gorgeous instrumental guitar music (one of their featured biohacking tools), I came up with these three things that are, in essence, simple. And yet they are awfully easy to forget to do.

1} Get Up

​Get out of your chair and move around. Take a little walk around the room or down the hall. Shake out your hands, rotate your pelvis, jump up and down. Make like a rag doll and simply hang forward, stretching out those poor hamstrings (chronically shortened from sitting) and giving your spine a rest from holding you up.

2} Get Down

Follow my lead and get down on the floor. Stretch out like a starfish. Get on your hands and knees and do Cat/Cow pose, alternatively rounding and arching your back. If there’s a firm pillow, bolster or exercise ball available, lay back onto it and open your arms, bringing a much needed extension into your upper body — we spend most of our time in forward flexion and rarely take our spine and shoulder girdle in the opposite direction.

3} Get Out

Even if all you can do is stick your head out the door for a minute, breathe some real air. Step onto a patch of earth and feel it’s energy supporting you (there is scientific research showing that we need to connect to the earth’s energy for vibrant health — some even suggest sleeping outside on the ground to align with it fully). Walk around the house or office building. Better yet, get to a nearby park or hiking trail and revitalize your relationship to trees, grass and rocks.
It’s so easy to careen through our days attached to screens and staying cozily inside when it’s cold. We reach for comforts, but they don’t always provide the truer comfort of what enlivens and brings out the best in us.

Those are my three things. I’m sure you have some of your own, and I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Are You Cultivating Kindness — For You?

Tree of knowledge growing out of book
The more I spend time teaching lovingkindness meditation, the more awed I am at human beings. How we think, how essentially good we are, how hard we can be on ourselves, how many difficulties life throws in our path.And still we show up. We persevere. We help, we heal, we nurture. We strive to be better people.

What’s really amazing to me is how kindness grows and spreads when it is cultivated. It lives within us, and yet it sometimes is hard to access — especially for ourselves.

Imagine a garden where the ground got tilled, seeds got planted, and then…nothing. No watering, no weeding, no pruning or deadheading occurred. Sure, you’d get some tomatoes and cucumbers, and the zinnias would still bloom.

But your garden would not thrive. Your harvest would not reach its full capacity. There would be a lack of fullness, lushness and thriving.

We Really Are Not So Different

There’s a lot that we can live with and endure, but that’s not the same as thriving. You can be a basically good, kind, warm person and still beat up on yourself, still take things hard and suffer “the slings and arrows” of life.

Which is why cultivating a practice of lovingkindness, self-love and self-care is so important. Not as shoulds, but as acts of deep connection, witnessing, support and love. And there’s no better place to start than with you, for as one of my favorite teachers puts it, “Life is so difficult, how can we be anything but kind?”

After all, you watch the cooking channel to pick up tips on technique and bring them into the kitchen, then share the yumminess with family and friends. You play lots of games of Words With Friends and begin to see ways to make more points using less letters. You pick up five pound weights to strengthen your biceps and feel greater ease in carrying groceries.

So too, the active practice of compassion and lovingkindness will strengthen the muscles of your heart and soul, allowing you to offer even more of your essential goodness to the world.

How will you cultivate kindness for yourself today?