This post will be short and sweet. I just want to acknowledge and celebrate my 600th consecutive day of meditation and/or yoga according to my Insight Timer app. Yay! I guess I can count that habit as a consistent one, the practice of being mindful of thoughts, emotions, my body and sometimes the space around me as well.
There is probably a Buddhist admonition not to take pride in one’s meditation. Something about ego and all of that. But I am proud of establishing the habit and I am not Buddhist. So I am going to own it and celebrate! Cheers!
What daily or weekly habits serve you best in your life?
The following is an edited post from this blog originally posted in March 2018. It seemed appropriate as I stay as fully present as possible during my travels, noticing as much as I can around me. ‘Hope you are having a great week.
All we have is this moment. The past exists only in our memories. And the future exists only in our imagination.
Neither the past nor the future exist, except in our minds.
All we have is this moment, right now, anchored to the body by this breath, and our awareness of being HERE.
By awakening to this moment, developing the awareness to keep coming back here again and again, we develop gratitude and wonder for the abundance around us.
People and companies from all channels, from t.v., and the internet, try to sell us happiness. As though it could be found in a can of Coke, the latest shoes, or car or whatever accessory they urge us to buy and consume.
In the meantime, when we are aware that nothing outside of us can bring us true joy, and that we can tap an inner well of joy at any time, we are truly free.
We give thanks for our existence, for that miracle of being born in a time when we can create, as a species, more than we will ever need to survive.
We become conscious of over-using resources of the earth without regard for consequences. By not cultivating ecological harmony for future generations, we short-change gifts we received with no work on our part. Many were granted just by being born on this earth.
As we sit in stillness and awareness of this moment, let us realize this great gift. Let us restore and heal our mother earth and honor her for how she has fed us and sheltered us. We thank her for granting all the raw materials we need to apply our human ingenuity and work to transform into tools for better living.
She has not failed us and continues to give generously. Let us pledge never to fail her.
Love and blessings,
(a prayer/meditation to honor the divine feminine, handwritten by mexi minnesotana on March 1, 2018, transcribed March 2, 2018.)
Tonight begins our trip to London Heathrow airport from MSP. I will write on the necessity of having a plan when you travel on overnight flights. It can be difficult to stay healthy and balanced when you are throwing your body out of its normal rhythm. But as a frequent flyer I have experimented with a few strategies that make it less painful.
The first bit of advice is this: If you can, try to go to bed early (1 hour at least) for a few days before your trip. Even if you do not drop off to sleep right away, you are allowing your body and brain to relax and get more rest. Stay off your electronics at night. Try reading an old-fashioned paper book, or taking a shower or bath before bed to help transition to sleep.
Getting extra sleep and rest before a trip helps you know that, even if you only get 3-4 hours of sleep (which I would consider a “good” amount for me), you have allowed yourself some quality rest in your own bed.
I like to bring some herbal tea on board when I travel overnight. I like Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea, since it is a nice blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongress, etc. Generally airlines seem to offer coffee and tea, but they do not always have non-caffeinated options, so I bring my own, and they supply the hot water.
I have noticed that you are often served meals high in carbohydrates, flour and sugar. While partaking in a small quantity may be fine for you, I always bring little bags of mixed nuts with me in my backpack or purse. Protein and fat help you have less ups and downs in your insulin levels. I get less cranky when I have my own healthy snacks.
Airlines typically feed you at least every 2-3 hours, with maybe a 4-5 hour break during overnight flights. This can feel obnoxious if you want to go to sleep right away, and don’t feel the need to graze like a cow for the whole flight. It serves as a distraction for the passengers. My theory is the extra carbs put people into kind of a “spacey, dreamy” state that makes it easier for flight attendants to keep us calm.
I used to drink white wine with my dinner on the flight. But I realized it did not help my quality of sleep and I felt too groggy upon waking up dehydrated. If it helps you relax or you are a nervous flyer, it may okay. But be sure to drink lots of water or something else that hydrates you. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect and planes dehydrate you more than you might expect. There is a reason flight attendants make a few extra rounds with water during the flight.
I pack my supplements of magnesium with me that I take daily anyway. For me, 400-600 mg of magnesium calms my nervous system and helps my sleep in general, so I am sure to pack supplements in a place I can access easily on the flight.
On the newer fancier planes, you will often find advanced video screens with a plethora of offerings of movies, t.v. shows, music and entertainment. While I often enjoy a t.v. show or movie while I am eating my dinner, I try not to overindulge on electronic things at night. Using an eye mask and ear plugs while others are staring zombie-like in front of their screens can be helpful when you want to wind down.
My final bit of advice if you want to wind down and calm your nervous system is to meditate. Nowadays you can find apps for this even on planes, or you can just sit quietly with eyes closed, relax your body and watch your thoughts. Notice the sounds around you, without judging them. I often practice loving kindness meditation. I offer kindness especially to myself and to strangers. “May you have ease of being” is a nice mantra.
Being kind and compassionate on flights, with yourself and others, goes a long way toward diffusing any frustration or impatience you may feel. Happy trails!
This Wednesday I had a morning appointment in Saint Paul, and I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? I realize I should have taken a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.
I did not use the methodology described in the Wikihow page, since I found that later. I did use it as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and walking toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry too much about the acorns in my way, though I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path for the next person.
My intention was to reflect, and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears that come up. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional walk back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how I knew just a bit about meditation last time I was there, more than a decade ago, but walking through it had a sacred feeling.
As we traverse through life, our paths are not linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in circles, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.
Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.
Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are able to see the situation in a different way, and are ready to learn. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready for that lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.
This is why I appreciate the labyrinth and the symbolism of using it as a journey both inward and outward. We can incorporate our soul’s voice and also our “outer” experiences along the path. This integration ultimately leads toward wisdom.
Do you ever notice what tone of voice you use with yourself when you make a mistake?
We all talk to ourselves (it is part of the human condition) though some people are not aware of what language they are using.
For example: you forgot to pick up your dry cleaning (again) and you wanted that clean shirt for tomorrow’s presentation. Do you say, “sheesh, you idiot, why did you do that again?” Or do you say, “Oh well, I guess I’ll wear a different shirt. I’d better put that reminder in my calendar next time.”
When you realize you did something you did not intend, do you have compassion for yourself? Do you speak with yourself the way you would speak to a beloved friend? Or do you self-flagellate and add insult to injury?
Quite simply, the way you treat yourself has a lot to do with how much compassion you can extend to others as well. If you realize we all make mistakes, that it is not a character flaw, and resolve to do it differently next time, you can learn. If you criticize yourself or use harsh words, you break down your relationship with yourself.
Language can powerfully shape the way we think. If you speak to yourself with kind and loving words instead of harsh and blaming ones, you honor your being’s inherent tendency for growth and development. When you blame yourself or put yourself down (even if you do not intend, or if it is just habitual) it can erode the trust you have in your own wisdom.
It is interesting how I can observe family members or friends when they do this, but I didn’t realize when I was inadvertently doing this myself. I first discovered this during meditation. I used to “say” things like – oh dear, can you REALLY not concentrate for more than 30 seconds?”
Now when I meditate I say (to myself): hmm, how interesting that I’m thinking about X or Y. Then I gently pull myself back to my breath, or my body, whatever I am focusing on for the moment. Then 2 minutes later when I am planning my work for the day (while meditating), I say: “it’s okay, I know you are concerned about that. But it will be there when you are done meditating. Come back now.” It is a loving voice, gentle forgiving.
If you cannot access your thoughts through meditation, try a “thought download” – take a sheet of paper and just unload all of your thoughts for 5-10 minutes It might surprise you what is in there.
Curiosity and compassion will get you SO much further than blaming and shaming.
Thank you, readers! I just exceeded 5 thousand hits on my blog yesterday! It’s been an incredible journey since September. Now, 250 blog posts later, I am grateful for your support and encouragement as I write and process my life’s journey.
Since it is “Wellness Wednesday” I will mention one small tip on gratitude which has had profound impact on my life and wellness since I started it. Every day think of at least one or two things for which you are grateful (as I am practicing today by thanking you in this blog).
Practicing gratitude has benefits that have been proven benefits to your overall well-being. When you orient your mind toward what you are thankful for, it changes your mindset. Many people like to write these things down, and I encourage that as well, though it is not absolutely necessary. When you are new to the practice, having a small notebook where you write things down can help get you into the habit. Once you do this for 60-90 days, it will become nearly automatic, which is the goal.
You can include your gratitude practice as part of your meditation, if you meditate on a regular basis. Start with a few deep breaths and direct your mind toward people, experiences, even things that you possess, for which you are grateful. Let your mind send love and feel gratitude for this
Alternatively, when you are struggling, take a moment to focus instead of what is going right rather than what is going wrong. This skill takes a little more practice than just starting the day with gratitude. But it can also change your mindset at time when you need it.
If you do not already have a daily gratitude practice, try it out for just one week and see how it changes your attitude, your mood and your life.
You are the best readers, and I really love it when you leave comments. This is such a creative and interactive community. Love and peace to you all!
It is interesting how we prefer consistency as humans. We want things to happen on predictable schedules and we want people to behave in predictable ways. And yet, some of us struggle with consistency in forming new habits.
With my blog, I did not want to commit to a regular schedule unless I knew I could be consistent with it. I actually did not expect to post daily. Sometimes I am still astonished that I do.
But I realize that certain activities give me energy. And when I do those things, particularly in the morning, the rest of my day flows with ease and gratitude. So I write consistently. Not because I need to get a certain number of “likes” though it seems like a nice bonus if a topic resonates.
I celebrate consistency, because as someone with a.d.d., it has not always been easy for me to adopt new habits. But when I am determined, I organize my life to achieve whatever new goal I have in mind.
Attacking too many new habits or goals at once is a recipe for failure. If you stick to one habit at most (meditating every day for 5-10 minutes, for example, or taking a short walk once a day) and maintain it for 60-90 days, you are on the road to consistency.
Once this happens, you have demonstrated you could succeed, and now you are a “person that meditates” making it a part of your identity. According to my Insight Timer I have meditated (or practiced yoga, which I think of as moving meditation) every day for 470+ consecutive days.
Meditation is changing me. I now look forward to it. I’m astonished. For years I did not think I could meditate. Mostly because people said you had to start with 15 minutes or more.
When I realized just doing it daily for 5 minutes was do-able, I slowly began increasing the time, so now my average for the past 12 weeks is 57 minutes a day. This is nothing short of miraculous.
What is one area in your life where you would like to have more consistency? Is it worth investing 5-10 minutes a day for 60-90 days to make it happen?