Instructions for your first guided meditation
“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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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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Often when we decide the change something in our life it is like taking the plunge. It is literally a leap of faith. And sometimes we do not quite know where we will land. One thing is for sure – we will land closer to our dreams if we take the leap.
This means that you are going to have to step outside your comfort zone and that’s good because all growth happens outside that zone. I say this not to scare you off doing anything new but to prepare you so that when you reach that point you will be ready to take a deep breath – and jump!
To do this you need a strong motivation – you cannot take these leaps lightly and that’s a good thing so it means that you have a strong enough feeling about what you are about to do. Maybe it is something that has been within you for a long while and now it is so powerful you simply cannot ignore it any longer.
A friend of mine drew the illustration above and I loved the title The Leap of Faith. This leap of faith is away from the comfort zone but look what’s below – the Sea of Dreams.
When you are in that place looking at the leap there is often a lot of mental chatter. That is your ego trying to keep you safe and stop you taking any risks at all. Problem is that living safe often feels like a long slow death.
Safe is not where you grow and expand your experience of life. Safe simply wraps you up in cotton wool and you will get to the end of your life full of regrets for the things you didn’t do or at least try to do.
So to ensure that you do not end up with regrets you need to support yourself in this journey by stopping listening to his voice for a while – or at least turn down the volume.
That does not mean that you ignore it all together but it does mean that you at least question it. Find out if there is any real truth in what that little voice is trying to scare you with. Often it is just an assumption and the opposite could just as easily be true. So keep questioning the fear until you either agree with it (and so can take the appropriate action) or you see that in fact it is just fear; False Evidence Acting Real, that is running the show.
Many fears are simply a mind construct – and many do not have any evidence of being true. When you begin to see this you can claim back your decisions for yourself and be free of the little risk adversed voice inside. You start to see that these fears are in fact made up.
Perhaps you are considering leaving your successful career and doing something completely different – like moving to the country and downsizing. At this point your little safety voice inside might be having a hissy fit! Your next step is not to listen to it but to question it.
It will all go wrong! – Do you absolutely, 100%, know this is true? No you don’t. This is what I call and absolute statement with no room for manoeuvre – and there is always room for manoeuvre. Could it go wrong – yes it could. But, and this a HUGE but, could it also go right, go gloriously wonderfully right? Yes it could.
You will lose everything! – Another absolute and again another that needs to be questioned. Have you ever lost everything – and I mean absolutely everything? Think back through your life to the times when things went right and the times when things went wrong. Did you allow yourself to lose everything? Or did you take action to either create success or minimise failure? My guess if you are reading this article is that you took the appropriate action. From this knowledge you can learn to trust yourself and allow yourself to go for the adventure.
Your life will be over, you will be homeless! - Ok we are really into the horror stories now, this is the point where the ego is fighting to hold onto control. So I reckon if you are thinking about your life being over about being homeless you are very close to the edge of the cliff. Get excited you are nearly there!
There is a part of you that will always want you to hold back and will tell you the horror stories. Time to face them full on and breathe through them. Don’t run away from your feelings – lean into them
Go somewhere quiet and breathe deeply and begin to allow yourself to relax and breathe into the thoughts. Let yourself know that what you are thinking is not really true, begin to see that they are simply thoughts that your mind has made up. When you feel relaxed and have taken the panic out of the thought know that in this facing of them that they cannot scare you any more.
Life is full of opportunities, some of which are risky. But you can rely on you to do the best you can and one way to do the best is to take that leap of faith and jump into the sea of dreams. Are you going to let a thought, something your mind has fabricated out of thin air stop you following your passion? You’re better than that. You are stronger than that.
I know from all my work with my clients and my own life experience that when you follow your passion, when you follow your heart and go for the thing that you love that magic happens too. You will find the support you need, the resources to support you and the ideas that will bolster your success.
You can change fear into Feeling Excited And Ready.
The leap of faith is just that but what is so amazing is the magic that awaits you outside of your comfort zone. Go for it!
Jessica McGregor Johnson is an international speaker, coach & mentor and author of “The Right T-Shirt, Write Your Own Rules and Live the Life You Want” and “Remembering Perfection – Everyday Inspiration for Living Your Spiritually”. She helps people who are at a crossroads discover their true passions, and live them, whether it be in their work or personal life. For more information and to read the first two chapters of her book visit http://www.jessicamcgregorjohnson.com
Illustration by kind permission of Charlotte Reed http://www.maythethoughtsbewithyou.com/maythethoughtsbewithyou/Home.html
This is a guest post about taking leaps of faith from my friend Jessica McGregor Johnson. She is offering an amazing giveaway at the moment, which you can access at this link. (http://www.jessicamcgregorjohnson.com/claim-your-free-copy-of-fbrn.html)
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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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“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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Waking 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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Inherent in traveling are new people, new places, new foods, new spaces. Even our sense of time can become shaken. Somewhere across the Atlantic Ocean, though I haven’t clue as to when or how, I was stripped of my old concept of time. Continue reading
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One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
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
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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For the month of February, the My Mindful Way of Life community is invited to follow along with Sharon Salzberg’s annual online meditation group. We will be blogging and learning from each other. We will commit to sit for 28 days. No matter how long, or short, or exactly what format, we will all practice together. We will grow together.
We want to hear about your practice, your challenges, your setbacks, your profound insights, and small amusements. In short, we want to hear from you as we invite you to participate.
The challenge officially starts on February 1st, but don’t worry if you are just learning about it. Have a seat with us! But before you do, please visit Sharon Salzberg’s website http://www.sharonsalzberg.com/realhappiness/pledge and add your name to the list of those participating in the challenge. That is just another way to help you be accountable by proclaiming your intent. Then, come on back here and let us know that you are in and how you plan to start.
Many of you have My Mindful Way of Life meditation CD’s (http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/DrUrszulaKlich) and we are happy to guide your use of them. For those who are able, we encourage following along with Sharon’s meditations and books “Real Happiness” and “Real Happiness” in the workplace. In fact, a free chapter and 3 short meditations can be found at http://www.sharonsalzberg.com/books-audio/7947
So, you commit and we do the rest by supporting you. Deal?
Check back often for continued updates and tips…
In this together,
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Walking through the mountains, we heard the entrancing melodies of kirtan sung by Krishna Das and friends echoing intensely over the sound of our footsteps on the gravel trails. We were at Menla mountain retreat for the Power of a Loving Heart seminar. Menla is a special spiritual place, located in the Catskill Mountains of New York and affiliated with Tibet House. The land had been donated for the purpose of such retreats and has been deemed by many, including the Dalai Lama, during one of his stays, as having great spiritual power. Continue reading