I Promise to Myself

There is so much going on in the world around us. Things that we judge to be good and things that we judge to be bad. We have no control over it. This is very stressful. Feels like we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I choose not to focus on all that is going on “out there”. I am choosing to put my focus on what I can control, me. I can control that I get out of bed and meditate, everyday. I can control that I get out there and go for a run, at least 3 days a week. I can control that I get out into to nature multiple times a week, which lifts my spirit and improves my health. These are the promises I make to myself.

My friend and Adventure sister, Emy, introduced me, a couple years ago, to a song. The song is I Am the Fire by Halestorm. It is very motivational. I have it in my running playlist, because it reminds me that my commitment to run is a promise that I made to myself. It is not for anyone else. It is just for me. If I don’t go run in the morning, it does not hurt anyone else. I would be letting myself down. It is with that in mind that I slip into my running shoes and head out the door at least 3 days every week.

In the past when I made promises to myself it was easy to step away from them, because I wasn’t letting anyone else down. When in reality I was letting the most important person down, myself. The promises we make to ourself deserve the same importance as the promises we make to others. We deserve the same commitment and devotion we show others. So how do we break through the barriers that may try to hold us back?

For me is a no negotiation policy. I just know that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are running days. Meditation happens every morning. There is no option for later. In the past I always embraced flexibility in my self care practices, but I found that for me, that led to excuse making and procrastination. Once you procrastinate late enough into the day, it is easy to move it to the next day, until it doesn’t happen.

I don’t have all the answers. I can’t tell you what may work for you. All I know is what has helped me. This blog is really just me sharing my rambling thoughts, with the hope that someone will find some inspiration or a little bit of helpful information that I have learned along my journey.

I love you! Thank you for reading my blog today. May you make and keep promises to yourself. You are worth it! May you also remember, it is okay to be a work in progress.

Capeesh?!

Life in a pandemic has taught us how very little control we have. For me, and perhaps many of you, feeling out of control can be very frustrating and induce a lot of stress. I have long heard that control is an illusion and truthfully the only thing we have control over is our reactions. I feel sometimes I don’t even have much control over my reactions. Being self aware and noticing how you are reacting and exploring where those reactions are coming from can be very helpful; but also very difficult to do in the heat of the moment.

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow

I catch myself getting all wrapped up into what seems like the problem. I get stuck spiraling into unhelpful thoughts about what I think the problem is. But when I breathe, and take a minute to look at why I am feeling the way I am feeling, often there is a different cause. I am not saying that there are not problems. There are, everywhere. So unless we understand what triggers us to respond to these issues in the way that we do, we will be forever whipped around, a prisoner to our emotional response. Emotions can be very helpful in motivating us, but they also can be detrimental when we find ourself in a situation where the outcome we desire is not achievable.

There are things that I know trigger an emotional response in me. I like to be in control, so when I feel out of control, this can cause a lot of stress for me. When COVID first started I had a job where I experienced change on a weekly basis, sometime more often. Those changes were predictable changes. Once the Pandemic started, I was experiencing unpredictable changes. It cause me a lot more stress. I am flexible person. I enjoy change. Being fluid and in the moment, is how I do my best work. So I was surprised in how the unpredictability of life really got to me.

Awareness is the first step. When we examine the thoughts we have around the “problem” we can better understand why we are shaken when presented with the problem. Having this understanding gets us closer to being at peace; despite the situation we find ourselves within. Once we can see what is bring up our emotions and that it is really more about us than the perceived problem; we can start to work on this aspect of us.

It is important to have some strategies to get past these emotions or as Captain Jack Sparrow says, “…[our] attitude about the problem”.

  • Breathe – take a deep breath, center yourself, and just feel the emotion.
  • Acknowledge – emotions are not good or bad, they just are. Acknowledge what you are feeling. Give yourself permission to feel it.
  • Be Present – be present in the moment. Notice what is around you. What do you hear, see, smell, feel, taste? Notice that in this moment you are safe and everything is okay.
  • Understand – attempt to understand what is causing you to feel so …whatever you are feeling. If you can name what is behind the emotion it can be helpful in gaining understanding. For example: I feel frustrated at a lack of control because I have a fear of failure.
  • Calming ritual – create yourself with a calming ritual. What this is may differ on where you are and this will be very individualized to each person. Some ideas are:
    • cup of herb tea
    • lighting a candle
    • carry a “worry stone” that you can hold or rub your thumb against
    • take a series of slow, deep breaths
    • recite a poem, prayer, or mantra (out loud or internally)
    • have a mint or piece of gum
    • take a walk outside
    • rub some lotion on your hands
  • Carry on mindfully – once you have gained awareness you can carry on with your day. You will have a better understanding of why you were so upset and have taken some action to become present and understand you cannot change the problem – only your reaction.
  • Take action if it still seems necessary – once you have done all of this, depending on what the perceived problem was, there still may need to be action taken on your part. Now that your mind is clearer and you are not as caught up in the emotional response, you can attempt to make a plan.
  • Repeat as necessary – depending on what is going on you may find yourself needing to use these strategies over and over again. It will get easier as you practice.

I love the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

courage to change the things I can, 

and wisdom to know the difference.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in this prayer. There are things we cannot change. Things we have no control over whatsoever. Then there are things we can change. Often that is us and how we deal with what we cannot change. Working on ourselves is some of the hardest work, but also the most beneficial work we can ever do. Knowing what things we can affect and what things we cannot affect will give us much more peace, rather than banging our heads against the wall trying to change the unchangeable.

I also believe in the benefit of planting seeds, but that is for another blog. Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find peace within the storm. May you find the calm pool of serenity within yourself.

Meditation “Practice”

For years I have been attempting to perfect my meditation practice. I have tried several different types of mediation: Buddhist, Kundalini, walking, guided, yoga Nidra, etc. After all of these I have still felt like an amateur when I sit on my cushion. This morning I realized, it is “practice”. I don’t have to be perfect at it. There are days when I sit on my cushion and the 20 minutes passes easily with myself in the zone. There are other days when I check my timer, twice, sure I must have forgotten to start it. Some days I sit and spend the whole 20 minute thinking. Other days I am listening to the sounds in the house. It does not have to be perfect to be beneficial. I just have to keep practicing.

Some of the helpful things I have learned about mediation are:

  • We only get upset at noises we think we should be able to control. We don’t get upset at birds or wind, but family members or our pets, we think should stay quiet for us. Meditation is about being able to still quiet our mind despite someone doing the dishes, watching TV, or barking at the delivery driver.
  • The mind will think, that is what it does. It is not my job to stop it from thinking but rather to notice that it is thinking. Meditation helps us be aware of how our mind works and to notice what it is doing. By practicing with it, in a calm environment, we better understand it and can notice what it is doing in stressful situations.
  • Giving the mind something to do can help you meditate. Kundalini meditations, involve chanting mantras and sometimes performing certain movements. This can be very helpful because the mind is busy focusing on the mantra and/or the movement. It allows you to get to the mediative space.
  • No one is good at mediation when they first start doing it. It takes practice and commitment. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
  • For all the imperfect meditations I have, the ones that work are worth all the ones that don’t.
  • You have to find the mediation that is right for you. I have had amazing experiences with many different types of mediation but my favorite is sitting silent mediation. It is not necessarily the easiest but it is the one that I have the riches experiences with.
  • There are many layers to your mind. I have identified a thinker, a narrater (who thinks they have to tell me what I am doing and what I am thinking like I am not there experiencing it), there is a watcher, a judge (who scold when it thinks I am not doing it right), and back behind all these other layers, somewhere deep within, is me.
  • Making a nonnegotiable habit makes it much easier. I get up in the morning and I mediate for 20 minutes every day. There is no option to do it later. When I get up, it is time. I go and sit.
  • I feel more ground, connected, and at peace now that I have established a meditative practice.
  • Meditating daily helps with other commitments. I know that a temptation will pass and am better able to stick to my other self-care initiatives.

If you have ever considered doing mediation, do it! It is worth it. Be gentle with yourself. Practice is practice. Anything else you were practicing you would not expect yourself to be perfect. Let meditation have the same grace. Notice that the mind is thinking and come back to your breath, your mantra, or focusing on the flicker of a candle flame. Be willing to experiment with different types of mediation till you find the one that works for you. Wether you have a deep experience during mediation, you find it easier to pass on the candy bowl, or you notice how you are reacting in a stressful situation, you will know that the effort of your practice has been worth it.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find the perfect way to make meditation a beautiful part of your self-care practices. You are worth it.

Other blogs on Meditation:

9 Ways to Improve Mediation

Mediations: A Beautiful Experience

7 Mediation Myths

11 Types of Meditation

There is an App for That: A review of Mediation Apps

Control is an Illusion

I come from a line of strong women. Really strong women. My father even calls us formidable. As far as I can tell it started with my great grandmother and has been passed down all the way to my granddaughters, with no signs of stopping. One of the traits we possess is that we like to control the world around us. That certainly seems like a strength, doesn’t it? However, control is just an illusion.

We may think we can control other people but we really cannot. We can influence them but they have free will and get to make their own decisions and choices. You may be thinking, “but I do control so and so”. I am here to tell you that you do not. That person has allowed you the illusion of control. They could break the bonds of that perceived control at anytime and choose something completely different. If you are the person who is being controlled. It is an illusion. One that you have allowed through your free will. You do have a choice. You can walk away, do something different, or change the dynamic.

Many people become planners as a way to control the world around them. They feel, if they can plan for every eventual outcome, then they will have some control over the future. Same for old age; plan their vacations months ahead of time or have their week(s) strictly mapped out. These are all great things to do, if they give you peace. Planning is a very feminine trait and helps us feel secure in our world. However, it does not give us control. Random change can flow in at anytime and upset the apple cart. At anytime, all of that planning can be turned upside down.

I will tell you the one thing we do have control over. We have control over how we react to the randomness of life. How we react to how others treat us is ‘our’ choice. We cannot control what happens to us but only how we respond. Unexpected bills, canceled plans, extra work, drop in company, lost luggage, weather, and so many more things can come swooping in to show us how much we do not control the world around us. How we deal with it though,  paints our future. When this happens can you go forward with a song in your heart? Can you be flexible and change what you were planning? I am here to tell you can. Look for the silver lining and smile in the face of adversity.

I believe we manifest our futures through our words, thoughts, and deeds. So doesn’t that mean we control the world around us. No, we still do not get to determine ‘how’ our wishes manifest. In fact, the more we try to control how those things are manifested the harder the manifestation process. As Mike Dooley says, “Do not micromanage the Universes”. It is up to the Universe/God to determine how your dreams will be fulfilled. It is up to ‘you’ to dream the dream. Keep your vibration high. Remain open to the infinite possible ways your dream ‘can’ come true.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you safely drop the illusion of control and live at peace with the world around you, as if by magic.

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Control?

Have you heard that control is just an illusion? This is true. There is so much in this life that we cannot control but what do we really have control over? We only really have control over ourselves and how we react to things. 

The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it. ~ Chris Pine

We all have choices in life, this is true, but we cannot control the outcomes of those choices. However, we can work on our perspective about the things that happen around us. You can look for the disappointment and sorrow in a situation or you can look for the silver lining. This is the most powerful thing you can do to control your life. 

You cannot change others but you can change how you react to others. If you are trying to change something or someone you are probably feel very frustrated, because we really do not have that power. We can try and force others to change but in the end the change will likely not be sustainable. If they are just making changes because we are trying to force that upon them, eventually they are likely to slip back into being who they are. I am not saying people can’t change. People can and do change. I have changed a great deal over my lifetime. But none of the change was because someone else made me. All of the change started within myself. There was a time in my life when I was going through huge transformation. It started by a stirring deep down within me. It drove me forward and I started pushing to know more about this. I started studying, reading books, taking classes, and joining discussion groups. And I did change. I changed a great deal. I changed so much that the me, I was before this all started to happen, would not recognize who I am today. The point is, I changed but not because someone wanted me to, it was organic and it came from within me. 

I once had this one particular friend. We started working together and things quickly went bad. She started gossiping about me.  Because of this the way other people treated me changed and they would stop talking when I came around the corner. I couldn’t control her or her behavior, nor could I control the way others responded to her gossip. What I could control (and did) was how I reacted to it. I got another job within the company at a different location. It was actually a promotion for me, so her bad behavior was a blessing in disguise. Because we were still within the same company, those same people could see that I was being quite successful and doing a great job, so their opinion of me started to shift again to the positive. I took control of what I could control. ME! 

The Problem is not your problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem ~Captain Jack Sparrow

With a positive outlook, good attitude and remembering that situations (and people) will happen, but that you can only control your response to them, life will feel a little less out of control. 

Thank you fo reading my blog today. May life always help you move forward in positive ways. 

 

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