Finding Peace

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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.

This has been my go to meditation when life throws something at me that just doesn’t make any sense. When I am sure the result should be one way yet am forced to accept and deal with another, I repeat these words with one simple addition to the last line. Allow me the wisdom and humility to know the difference. Character is exposed when a story ends a way we don’t desire. How we react to life being out of our control is one of the greatest challenges we ever face.

How do you respond to adversity?

When do you accept that your plan isn’t the only plan?

When do you acknowledge that you really don’t have all the answers?

Sometimes we get to the point where it is time to stop fighting and surrender to what is. It is in that moment where we find a deeper sense of peace and discover that serenity really does exist.

Improvise

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Traditional meditation has not been a friend to me lately. That monkey in my mind is putting up one heck of a fight. The more I focus on fighting back, the less able I am to throw a punch. Thoughts haunt me all the time. Remember that movie Groundhog Day? My life is just like that but in my head. It plays over and over until I get it right. I am like a dog chasing my own tail, going round and round and left feeling tired and dizzy. What if I would have said something else? What if I did this instead of that? Perfection is my addiction.

Tonight I grabbed that monkey by the tail and I took control. Want to know how?

Earbuds. Well and a little calming music.

I have been spending time in quiet solitude when I needed more noise. The right kind anyway. There are a handful of songs that touch me so deeply that I am too busy feeling to actually think. Is there a lesson to this? Absolutely. Try until you get it right. If something is not working in your life, stop trying that and do something else. Improvise until you find that something that will take care of the job. Every problem has a solution, you just have to be creative.

I Learn Something New Everyday

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I often forget the value of trying something new. My son was very disappointed after his first golf practice. His face was really long and when I asked him how he did, he said “I stink”. I have golfed once in my life and naturally I was not very good but today I took one for the team as I carried his bag around the course and encouraged him to have fun and give it his best try. I had horrible preconceived notions about golf, but after today I feel very different. 

Here are 3 Things I Learned About Golf TODAY:

1) People do not drive the carts around because it is fun, they drive it around because that bag is really, really heavy.

2) Golf is not boring, it is actually really fun. I cannot believe how wonderful it was to spend so much wonderful time in the sunshine. Golf is so much like meditation to me, slow paced and in the moment. I think I’ve found a new love.  

3)You should not wear sunglasses or you will have a really red nose at the end of the day.  

You know how the saying goes, don’t knock it until you try it. I think maybe next time I will grab some clubs and golf too. Who knows, maybe it will become my next favorite hobby. What do you say? Try something new today.

Did Someone Say Slip and Slide?

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted about yoga. I successfully finished my 30 classes in 40 day challenge. I’ve decided that yoga is not just a passing fad but will remain an important part of my every day routine. Some days I love it and other days not so much, but I am always grateful I have dragged myself to class whatever the result. Last week I was just about ready to give up. I was completely focused on getting the stink completely out of my mat. So, I scrubbed it thoroughly with dish soap and water and proudly carried it into class. It wasn’t until I was completely dripping with sweat that I realized my sweat mixed with the soap turned my mat into a portable slip and slide. Imagine trying to hold down dog for 5 slow deep breaths while your hands are slipping north and your feet are slipping south. Sounds wonderful and meditative huh? I bet i just inspired you to jump up and run to your nearest yoga class. Well, today I bought myself an expensive non slip mat and enjoyed yoga in a new and wonderful way! I am so grateful I finally used some common sense. It’s much more enjoyable to be in the poses than it is to keep myself from slipping off my mat. My lesson to fellow yogis, BUY THE MAT! It is worth more than any amount of money.

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Control

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How do we fight our constant need for control? I am feeling very unsettled today. I know with spring break coming to a close the old familiar to do list of life will be greeting me at 6:30 tomorrow morning. This constant struggle to find balance has been a lesson 42 years in the making and today, I believe I had a small yet painful breakthrough. I couldn’t help shake the anxiety that has been creeping inside of me since the moment I woke up. I am feeling unsettled and agitated which is not at all how I want to spend this day. I have been working really hard at getting my inside in order. You know that quiet place where you sit in the presence of inner peace. However, somewhere along the way my scale tipped a little too far to the left and I lost control of my outside world and the world around me. I guess the day I impulsively cut off my hair should have been a sign of my impending doom. The more my inside calms, the more I need my outside to match or balance. So, I have skipped Yoga for 2 weeks and let my household chores slip out from underneath me. However, I let the kids relax and bring kids over to hang out nearly every day. So today, I started ripping at my makeup drawer. I have been scrubbing and cleaning and organizing to just find a little bit of that peace to replace my anxiety with. So, I guess I need to nurture all my different sides and find a way to keep them all in balance. Needless to say, I will be spring cleaning this week and getting back to Yoga and meditation. Catering to my spirit while neglecting my mind and body will never get me where I need to be. I will find a way to get it all done in between violin concerts, my husbands end of quarter at work, play practice, doctor appointments, and Chases birthday in the middle of the week. I guess I have a mild version of OCD. I think maybe we all do. One of my favorite sayings is, when you know better, you do better. Today is my week to start all over. This time, I will do better.

A Chance Encounter

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I had a rare and odd encounter this afternoon at a local Starbucks. There I was, sitting with a friend, when all of a sudden I felt a presence. I turned to see where it was coming from as a man walked through the door. It was no surprise at all, that he ended up sitting directly across from us because I knew, for whatever reason, we were meant to cross paths. I noticed as the man sat down that he appeared to be meditating. His eyes were slightly open and I could see a small part of the whites of his eyes. It didn’t take long for him to lean forward and engage in conversation with us. He was incredibly and refreshingly friendly and it was nice to have someone extend a conversation. So often, I sit in that same chair and watch people pass by. It’s almost as if I am invisible, the way they brush past me, seeing nothing but the phone they are staring down at in their hand. But this man was different.

It’s so funny how 2 people can see the same situation in such a different way. My friend was a bit leery of this man and referred to him as theatrical. She didn’t feel he was being genuine and I had to ask her this question. Is it maybe that people are so disingenuous that we can no longer recognize its counterpart in a crowd? Maybe, we have become so accustomed to people not looking into our eyes, or not extending acknowledgement of another’s presence that we look beyond the beautiful gift someone offers us when they acknowledge ours? It has definitely left me with something I cant help but give a great deal of thought.

She also told me that when I stepped away he threw his hands up and starting chanting. A few weeks ago, I might have considered this man mad, but now after practicing yoga and meditation myself, I understood him in a new way. He bid us farewell as he closed his eyes and reached his hand in our direction. My guess is he was sending energy, as he said he could feel we were going to have a wonderful 2013 and he would remember to keep our family’s in his prayers. I couldn’t help but hope, as I drove away, that there would be more people just like Nathan that would cross my path in the future. People that leave me feeling important and not making me wonder if my existence matters.

Out of My Comfort Zone

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I did it! Sticking to my list of new things to try in 2013, I hopped in my car and ventured across town to my very 1st Zen meditation session. The scent of incense greeted my senses as soon as I opened the door. I looked around the room and suddenly I was surrounded by a whole new population I had never experienced before. There they were, lots of them, probably in their mid twenties. There were conversations about where to eat and there was hugging, lots of hugging! People looked at me. I mean really looked at me. They were making eye contact as they welcomed me with a smile and shook my hand. I looked around and to my surprise there were no cell phones, no laptops, just people hanging around smiling and talking. I didn’t understand at first. It was almost like I had entered a foreign country where I couldn’t utter an intelligible word. Suddenly, I was self conscious. I tried to look cool and forced a smile on my face. That crew disappeared into the night and in walked the meditation regulars. They were doing that same thing as that earlier group. They were looking at me, asking my name, and shaking my hand. Next thing I knew I was bowing 3 times and finding my correct posture on the edge of my pillow. A man with a stick hit his hand 3 times to signify the start of class. That’s when it happened. I bet you’re waiting for me to tell you I saw hallucinations and found enlightenment. Nope, that wasn’t it at all. For 25 minutes I sat in total silence and didn’t move. My mind was racing, and judging. Judging those poor people who were nice enough to say hello, judging the leader and his silly socks, thinking about my next blog topic. I even peeked out of one eye to see what the heck everyone was doing. Guess what? They were doing nothing but sitting there quietly and breathing. My mind just would not let up. It is amazing that I can spend hours on Facebook and Pinterest, yet 25 minutes of quiet sitting seemed like an eternity. My back started to get stiff and my toes were numb. Was is ever going to end? Then, after what seemed like an eternity, the sound of the stick took on new meaning. Everyone was standing up and walking slowly around the room for what’s known as walking meditation. 3 trips around the room and then back on our pillows. Here we go, round 2! This time, my thoughts started to fade away. I felt a weird swaying feeling as the sound of silence took over my overactive mind. It was peaceful and accepting. We were all one. The next time that stick made noise it was followed up with a series of chants.

The experience was interesting for sure. Will I meditate every day? Who knows. What I do know though is that mind chatter really does get in the way of life. It’s the noise that keeps you from really hearing what someone is trying to say to you. Mind chatter judges and questions and keeps us from hearing that quiet calm and our inner voice. Mind chatter robs us of the present while reminding us of the past and putting the fear of God in us about the future. It’s all about being in the moment, instead of being a prisoner in our own heads. Meditation is calm, and peaceful, and accepting. Meditation probably isn’t for everyone, but the quiet was like a new found therapy for me. The world is noisy, people are noisy. My mind is noisy. So, meditation will be my quiet vacation from the noise of life. It will be a time to rest my mind and just be. I am grateful for the experience and hope I can drag a friend or two to try it with me next time. Tomorrow night I will try a guided meditation and I will let you all know that compares.