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Instructions for your first guided meditation

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True Compassion Requires Empathy

When people are in a reactive state while arguing they often shift into unwholesome emotions such as blaming, criticizing, judging, attacking or finding fault in order to justify their position. Once a person falls into these negative reactions they can become frozen or stuck in one of the three corner stones of a power struggle – dominating, manipulating and/or controlling. When this happens it leads to a breakdown in communications. So how can you stay centered and nonreactive when you’re in a heated conversation? Well the process begins by becoming a Mindful Listener. read more… 

 

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Is Social Technology Driving a Wedge Between Us?

Are we abbreviating the fullness of our relationships when we limit interactions to text.  Are we truncating more than words when we “tty?” How do we contain our sense of emotion let alone effectively relay all that can be passed along verbally or even nonverbally as we “LOL.”  Anyone who has searched a while for just that right emoticon understands the limits of this system.  Still we revert to it.

Of late there seems to be more of a trend to take the challenge to put down the personal devices and go off the grid for a week or even a day.  Albeit challenging, doing so can be freeing, but typically the effects are temporary.  Seldom does this act alone seem to impact long term behavior. It makes me wonder if we are more concerned with proving that we have willpower, than finding a way to adjust the behavior to change the habit and underlying pull.  In many ways it sadly mirrors and addict’s plea “I can quite anytime, and often he or she has done so, many times.

It is an interesting conundrum.  It seems we long for peace, connection, information and other advantages that technological advances give us.   The truth is these technologies have their advantages. Certainly, information is one of the benefits over our slower and antiquated options.  No longer do we have to wait to head to the library and dig through a card catalog to find a book which may or may not be checked out by someone else in order to answer a pressing question such as “why is the sky blue.” When my four year old daughter proclaimed, mid-conversation, “just ask google,” I realized how profoundly integrated information technology has become into our lives.  It seems that that Google is indeed more than a household name, it is more like a personal assistant and may be taking the place of picking up the phone and reaching out to someone who might know.  As a matter of fact, we presume we will get more accurate information from the internet than from someone we know.  In the end, I highly doubt that we are interested in or ready to give up these devices we have learned to rely on for these reasons and more.

Perhaps we should all just become more mindful of the impact of the way we use social networking technologies on our relationships and overall lives. The trouble is I am not sure we are in a position to fully see how we limit our experiences by relying on these technological advances. Experts are studying how this new style of communication is changing language development and the nature of forming relationships.  Though there are preliminary findings that these experiences are changing, the jury is out as to the level of ill effects.  Time will tell and recommendations for remedies will be made.

Meanwhile, I encourage us all to take a step back and observe, not only others behavior but reflect on our own.  These videos provide food for thought.  I’d love to hear about your challenges with and experiences of balancing the technologies in your life.  Please share your thoughts below.

 

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I Don’t Have an Accent, You Do!

Discrimination and accents barking dogs

Courtesy of   http://chapmangamo.tumblr.com

“You talk to her.  She’s got a thick accent, and I can’t understand a word she said.”  These are the words I overheard from the nurse on the other end of the line. Before the nurse who took over the call began to speak, I wondered if I’d been in the South so long that I’d lost all my northern pizazz and somehow traded it for a southern drawl. Continue reading

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Meditation- It’s Not Just for Hippies

CLICK ON IMAGE BELOW FOR ABC NEWS STORY

For the last 20 years, I have had the great joy of walking alongside of people beginning their journey toward greater relaxation, self-awareness, clarity, and overall peace and well-being. While each individual’s process was beautiful to witness, it was often not without some struggle. Sure, I’d find that individuals would melt into a blob of what seemed like tension-free bliss in my office recliner, reporting that their mind was free as a bird, or clear as the sky on a sunny day. However, upon return, it seemed this same sky turned stormy. Continue reading

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Wherever You Are, You Are Somewhere Else

I was floating in the pool when it happened. I took a breath. It’s not that I had stopped breathing, of course. Luckily for me, my body knew what to do and it was doing its job whether I was there or not. I wondered how many things like this I had missed. The faint smell of pool chemicals blended with the natural fragrance of the outdoors. The cool, though ever-so-gentle, breeze touched my skin and rustled through the palm trees. The water was warm at 90 degrees, yet my “being” intermittently felt its cool contrast to the hot sun. It was both a refreshing feeling and one that I welcomed, once I realized it was occurring. Yet where was I? I had been in the pool over 30 minutes and outside for at least an additional 30. Despite my time there, this was the first breath I felt, the one I first noticed, the first I truly experienced.

How much of our time do we spend thinking about other experiences, places, or people? How often do our minds travel to the future that we look forward to, fear, try to plan for or in some way wonder about. How often do we look behind us recalling things that have happened to us, whether long ago or simply hours before. Who has not had the experience of words someone spoke, or perhaps we wished we had said, lingering in our mind long after we would like them to stick so vividly. Alternately, when do we daydream about the way we wish our lives would be…if only this or that would occur? As a meditator I am well aware that these habits keep us from living fully present lives. As a human being, and one that can readily veer toward an analytical left brained world, I’ll admit that I still catch myself being somewhere else, occasionally. Ok, lots! During this particular moment, I am not even sure where I was, other than realizing that I was not fully there. Sure I was aware I was entering the pool and aware that I was floating in water, but my attention was somehow split. To make matters worse, my distraction must not have been too important for me not to even remember it. It was in that moment that I realized that it did not have to be this way. I could be fully present in all that is, in this moment, right now. In soaking up the experience around me, I could more fully enjoy it. I believe, that it is in these moments that the full repertoire of possibilities open up in our lives, revealing options for living with greater fullness, and with greater intent in our choices.

So now, as I sit outside writing this post, I glance up to see a couple ride by on their bicycles. I take an extra moment to observe their pink silhouettes peddling so gracefully that the image seems like a rhythmic symphony. It is then, as I retract my gaze back toward my pen and paper, that I catch the glimpse of a circular formation across the water. The ripple spreads until it disperses, followed by a cascade of other, small and large, overlapping raindrops and ripples. Each one was quickly followed by an ever-so changing symphony of droplets with variegated sounds dependent on the composition of the material they were bouncing off of.

I put my pen down and just watch and listen. After a while, I compromise my attention briefly to capture a small component of the experience on film. Knowing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts I quickly return to experiencing rather than creating. As I stay with the experience, I learn that the rain, sun, and wind ebb and flow in a pattern uniquely reserved for nature. The size and shape of the droplets vary, as do their resonant frequency. The sun comes and goes intermittently, whether the rain pounds or trickles. This Kaleidoscopic dance is like some unrehearsed, yet powerfully native tango innately choreographed and played out by the sky. Then, as I discover a smile develop over my entire being, I take a breath, fully experiencing being right there.

I challenge you to enjoy it, with curiosity, this the being where you are, wherever you go.

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Bringing Compassionate Love Into Our Communities

compassion meditation loving kindness wendy saunders

“A void of loving relationships and feelings of connectedness in our

Communities is jeopardizing our personal well-being and the well-being

of everyone around us.”

In a recent journal article, Wendy Saunders poses that our entire culture is shifting to become more individualistic and less connected.  In her role as the executive director of a large metropolitan YMCA, she is in a prime position to observe the consequences of this growing trend.  In fact, Saunders challenges us to consider that the resulting detachment is jeopardizing not only our personal well-being but also the larger well-being of our communities, organizations, and businesses.  She notes that the phenomenon appears to be getting worse as people, often overwhelmed themselves, in turn, are giving less of themselves to others.  Many believe civility is needed to reverse the progression.  Wendy goes a step further, Continue reading

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Morning has Broken- Like the first Morning

 

Mindful meditation with sharon salzberg loving kindness birdsWaking this morning to the sound of birds, I had an immediate awareness that the last day of the 28- day meditation challenge had passed.  It’s not like the last few days have alluded my awareness.  On the contrary.   In fact, this week I have found myself quite conscious of the impending end of the commitment.  On one hand, this has prompted a greater appreciation for each day, each meditation, and each moment of mindfulness.  On the other hand, the ticking clock allowed my mind to wander to the future to what would be “the end.” Continue reading

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Meditation Challenge Day 1: The Journey

Mindful Snow MeditationThe Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

The first time you have to do anything, it is new to you. I find that it really doesn’t matter if you have done something like it, or spent time thinking about it. There is just a process you go through when something is new. Continue reading

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