Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness is a hot topic these days, but it is nothing new. Mindfulness plays a large role in Buddhism (around 5th century BCE), but today, hectic schedules, long work weeks, crammed social calendars, and a strong addiction to technology has many craving simplicity. Is this you? Do you wish you could, just for a moment, stop and catch your breath? Well, you can. It’s easy, and you can do it anywhere at any time. Proper breathing is the essential first step in gaining control of your attention, to slow you down enough to be mindful of the present moment. There are many different techniques available, but the following is what I do and swear by its effectiveness:

1. Inhale through your nose for a count of six (ideally your stomach should expand as you inhale). Think to yourself, “In” as you breathe in.
2. Exhale though your mouth for a count of six. Think to yourself, “Out” as you exhale.

Repeat three times.

All that exists in that moment is your breath.

Your heart rate should slow down and you will feel more relaxed. Do this deep breathing as often as necessary throughout the day, whether you’re stuck in traffic, feeling overwhelmed at work, or when facing a difficult situation. During the workweek I have Outlook reminders set for the top of each hour as a reminder to breathe and refocus for the coming hour. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself to come back to the present moment and relax.

Breathe… You’ve got this.

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Begin once again…

Begin once again…

Been MIA the past couple of weeks mainly because I just wasn’t up to writing. Was having doubts about whether it was worth continuing the blog. Was having doubts if I cared enough to continue. But today I decided I’ll keep going, for me. And also because I hope to inspire at least one person to start journaling each day so they can focus on what they have to be grateful for in his/her life.

I am grateful to be working from home today. I think if I was allowed another day or two I would remain with this job for the next year. Please guide me.

I am grateful to be able to knock out all the housecleaning today! I do believe this Tuesday schedule is going to work perfectly.

I am grateful for my new Vans – I love them!

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Polynesian flair!

I am grateful for the sound of rain and the birds singing. The rain is nourishing the soil and will make for easy planting of my flowers and vegetable plants.

I am grateful for my perfect health. I am always healthy. My hip is healed and I am moving forward.

I am truly happy and excited about getting the cleaning done today – absolutely perfect! I know, totally corny, but it’s the little things. I am also feeling good about dropping the incessant need to be doing something “more”. It’s a huge sense of relief. I am currently successful. I do have everything I need to live a great life. When I think of those going without, it makes me embrace my wonderful life even more. I have the love of a good man; I have a job that pays exceptionally well for little output, and I have a great boss to boot (and great benefits); I have a roof over my head; and I have an abundance of good food to eat. I can afford whatever I want whenever I want it. Hubby and I can travel anywhere we want whenever we want. My life is perfect right now. I know the universe has been trying to point this out to me for years, so I thank the universe for putting up with my resistance for so long. I’m grateful the universe is always presenting me with what I need at the exact time I need it.

Hubby and I are looking forward to our upcoming trips: Cozumel and later this summer, Colorado. Already looking into the hot springs I want to visit in Colorado. We need the break.

Today is a great day. I am happy. I am relaxed. I am at peace with myself. I am enough. I am capable of doing whatever I want, and I am grateful for this ability. I am grateful for the love and guidance of the universe. Life is what I make of it. I control who I allow in. I chose my emotions. I choose happiness above all else.

Much needed inspiration

Much needed inspiration

Feeling a bit overwhelmed today. It’s the same feeling that always stops by: the one that tells me the life I’m trying to lead isn’t the life intended for me. It’s the same feeling telling me I am capable of so much more. It’s the feeling that keeps me restless. It’s the feeling that tells me it’s time to move on.  It’s the feeling that keeps poking me, wondering why I’m not doing something about all of this. It’s the feeling that’s not going anywhere, that will remain as the tightness in my chest, the tears that fall.

I’m in the mood for inspiring words. These are some of my favorite quotes – I hope others find them as uplifting as I do.

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“Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go.  You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.” ~ Unknown (although I believe it’s a Buddhist quote)

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” ~ Seth Godin

“Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.” ~ Paulo Coelho (THIS!!!! I just keep waiting because of others. I keep pushing desires and dreams aside because of this. I keep denying myself because of this.)

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.” ~ Frank Ocean

“Trust your soul.” ~ Unkown

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ~ Anais Nin

And finally:

“Why can’t I try on different lives like dresses, to see which one fits best?” ~ Sylvia Path (LOVE this one.)

The Comfort and Restriction of Safety.

The Comfort and Restriction of Safety.

I am grateful for the great workouts from the past few days. It feels SO good to be getting back to normal. I am grateful for the vibrant sunrise this morning, grateful I am able to witness such perfection. I am grateful for the bit of spring cleaning accomplished this week. Lifting dirt from out-of-reach places and clearing clutter does wonders for clearing the mind. I am grateful to live a drama-free life. I see others around me live lives that resemble the worst daytime soap opera or Jerry Springer episode and I am SO thrilled to be distant from all of it. Peace and harmony rule my life. And I am grateful my vegetable plant seedlings are kicking ass! 🙂 So excited to plant them in May.

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Seedlings ready to rock! 

Since letting go of the ambitious desire to create my own business I have been feeling more relaxed. But yesterday I started feeling the flutters again of still missing out on something. It’s this elusive “something” that has been picking at me for years now. That feeling that “something” is missing. But what? I’ve asked the universe numerous times to show me what this something is, and I haven’t arrived to a conclusive answer yet. When thinking about what I want to do with myself, the desire to volunteer for wildlife conservation always lights me up, yet trying to figure out the when and how leaves me standing still. I really have a strong urge to travel for a year just volunteering around the world – the elephant sanctuaries in Indonesia and the elephant orphanages in Africa are at the top of the list. I would also love to help with coral reef conservation, perhaps in Fiji. So what’s stopping me? Truth is – nothing. There is no true barrier preventing me from doing this other than the excuse that I have a mortgage to care about and a good job that may or may not be waiting for me when I return. Both are abundantly poor excuses though. I only have this one life, and a passionately strong urge to not regret NOT doing something for the sake of being safe. Safe is comforting at times, but also completely restrictive as well. Safe keeps you from taking the risks that will satisfy your soul. Safe keeps you from experiencing life at its fullest. Safe keeps you from achieving dreams. I want to embrace a baby elephant – and I will! I want to help older orphan elephants in their daily lives – and I will! I want to see this world and breath it in deeply – and I will.

When will I do these things? Soon.

Today is a great day! I am focused. I am happy. I am energized. Peace, love, happiness and harmony always.

New month = new energy

New month = new energy

Yesterday I received good news from my orthopedic doctor – no more crutches! Yay! But I still cannot do anything weight-bearing for the moment. I go Thursday for an ultrasound injection into the hip to ease the residual pain I am having (which is from the labrum not the fracture, which he said is healed at this point). Onward & upward! So excited to really being moving forward with this injury. It’s been a complete drain on me physically and mentally.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon doing art – it was wonderful. Started a new larger painting and embarking on a larger colored pencil drawing. The drawing will be a real test of my patience, but I am determined to master it.

Spring isn’t far away now! Woo hoo! I feel a tremendous amount of positive energy at the moment. It’s going to be a great month of progress.

Short and sweet this morning as I have a lot to catch up on with the day job. Peace, love, happiness and harmony always.

Practicing Patience

Practicing Patience
  1. I am grateful to be watching birds feed outside my window right now. So peaceful to observe.
  2. I am grateful to have made more progress on setting up my studio space in the living room.
  3. I am grateful for making baguettes for the first time yesterday. What a long process! (More on this below.)
  4. I am grateful I had a peaceful weekend.
  5. I am grateful to be back into practicing mindfulness.

One of of the things on my “must-do”list is learning to make perfect baguettes. One of my absolute favorite pleasures in this life is a fresh-baked French baguette. Crispy on the outside but delicately soft and chewy on the inside. Some of the best I’ve had were while vacationing in St. Maarten (second to those in Paris many years ago). I found this recipe while browsing through Pinterest and decided a slow Sunday morning was the prime time to give it a go. What unfolded was a true test of patience and an unplanned lesson in mindfulness.

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Getting all the ingredients ready.

It’s a called a “Four-Hour Baguette” and it took every bit of four hours from start to finish. I tip my hat to all the hard-working bakers who start their day in the wee hours of each morning to prepare and bake all those delectable sweets and breads we love so much. It’s a lot of hard work! Combine the water and yeast – then wait. Mix the flour and yeast water – and wait. Knead the dough for at least ten minutes, then place in a covered bowl, then place in a cold oven – then wait. And so it went. I found myself at times being tempted to swear off ever making the recipe again because it was taking too long. Then I asked myself, “Why?” Simple enough question, but for someone who makes it a habit to rush through nearly every single thing (who grows impatient at the slightest delay), it was a question forcing me to be truthful with myself. What was the rush? The truth was there was no rush. There was nothing else that HAD to be done. There was nothing more pressing hanging over my head. The only thing on the agenda for the morning was baking baguettes. For years I’ve held goal after goal, one grand expectation after another, over my head. I worked a full time job and had to complete my college degree in record time (while maintaining a high GPA). I graduated and then HAD to learn the publishing industry and write the perfect first novel. After that, I HAD to come up with an exciting and profitable business idea that would make me financially independent. But no one was forcing any of this – it was me against myself. I was my own worse enemy. True, I learned a lot during those years. One of the greatest lessons: if you keep pushing yourself nonstop with over-the-top expectations, you will suffer. Your health will suffer first. Then your closest relationships. Your happiness will be non-existent. I am way overdue to live according to my own natural rhythm.

My natural rhythm is this: slow and steady. A frenetic pace stresses me out. And believe me, all those years of essentially working two full-time jobs was frenetic and stressed me out: tightness in my chest; constant shallow breathing; constant stomach upset with additional GI issues; headaches; and moodiness (just ask my hubby about this one). I was, no doubt, slowly killing myself. I started practicing mindfulness within the past year, but found it taking a backseat to the demons rattling my mind (or what I sometimes refer to as my monkey brain). Fear and doubt are slick little bastards – it only takes a sliver of opportunity for them to set up shop in my head. But here on this Sunday morning, having to commit four hours to making bread, was what I needed to practice mindfulness once again. And it is a practice. It doesn’t come overnight – it’s a constant effort to practice in order to eventually become a master (same applies to meditation). So when it was time to knead the dough, I narrowed my thoughts to my hands working through the dough. The only thing that existed at that moment was my breath, my hands, and the dough taking shape within my hands. For ten minutes these were the only things that existed in my world.

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Making progress (both with the bread and myself).

Afterwards, I felt calm. It was an extraordinary practice in patience. This is how life is meant to be lived – one single moment at a time. Not rushing from one place to another, or from one goal to the next. Learning patience, mastering mindfulness is my destination. Nothing else. It will help me be a better artist, a better wife, a better friend. It will help me stay healthy. It will lead me to great places that rushing would have never taken me. I am grateful for the continuing lesson. I am ready to just be. All that is good and abundant in this life will comes to me with ease. I am at peace with myself – I am enough. And for this particular lesson I am forever grateful.

Today is a great day.