Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday...

I'm sitting here on this Holy Friday and reflect on the teachings the Great Master left with us on this day.  I may not be a Christian, but i grew up in an environment where Good Friday was the day we reflected on the teachings of Jesus, and how He sacrificed His life in honor of pure simple truths such as Love, Forgiveness, Truth and Faith .   It has always been a special day for me because the message is simple - His life was his message and to that we should try to imbibe by these universal truths.  It is not a question of a religion, it is a question of simple values of kindness, compassion, empathy, love, forgiveness and exemplified by a great master.      Something beautiful died and we take time to reflect and remember. 
Years later, on this day, let us take time to think about our actions - are they kind - are our thoughts kind - are we helping those in need - do we truly practice forgiveness- do we love regardless of whether someone loves us back or not.    I always find this day to be a day of mixed emotions - just like with death - it is filled with emotions - but this death is larger - because it shows the resurrection- the resurrection shows us what is beyond our eyes - and that is a beautiful thing. 

Happy Easter & Holy Weekend....

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Spring is almost here...I wake up and hear the birds singing, the sun is shining stronger than ever.  The clouds on this side of my world are puffier, filled with shapes, almost breathtaking to look at and there is a sense of newness in the air.  Then it gets cold again, and with that our mood changes. Isn't it amazing at the power of nature to change our moods.  And isn't interesting to see how we as individuals react so instantly to Change.  It could be change in the weather, it could be change in the traffic conditions, it could be change to a software or computer system or it could be unexpected change in our lives.   A single word, a simple thought, an unexpected deed could instantaneously change our reaction to it and our moods.   And yet if we think about it, the very core of who we are remains unchanged.  It is our minds that let us run with the emotions that come through and make us victims of either unnecessary suffering or extreme glee.   neither one of them is good because they both have the power just like a balloon to get popped at any time and can change instaneously according to the tune that is playing.   If the music we like is playing, we are happy.  If we don't like the music, then we get restless and want to hear something else. 

As humans we tend to be that way - restless...needing something outside of ourselves to satisfy us, when all we have to do is really look inward.   That satisfaction or that instant gratification from the outside world through our various senses - touch, taste, smell, sound, etc have the amazing capability to change our moods, to make us feel better temporarily- but in reality we are always searching, running, moving away from our real SELVES - the self that needs to be recognized and that needs to be heard.   Think about it - we crave a particular food -something very unhealthy- and even though we may know that it  might not be the best thing to do - we find a way to convince ourselves that we need it, we raitonalize ways in which we can justify why we want it and then we do it.  Look at the power of the mind - to find a rationale for everything - and we become puppets to our mind.   Another example - we are always seeking externally the recognition, the "pat on the back", and crave that attention so subconsciously we do things that can let us feel good about ourselves.  How many of us do things purely self-less?  The constant yearning to find satisfaction from an external source eventually can leave a person depleted.  it can leave you feeling drained.  It can leave you feeling confused.  

The direction has to be turned inward - gaining that internal strength so that regardless of what happens to us outside we ae always rooted firmly on the ground just like a tree.  The roots of the tree run so deep that regardless of how fast the wind goes, it stays firm.   Similarly working on developing that internal strength makes us strong like the tree.   Not only on the surface, but also inside - and leaves us content like the tree.  

How does one get to that point? One must be ready to enter into the fire of awareness - One must be ready to face the fears that you are hiding from, and one must have an appointment with oneself of daily silence.   I firmly believe that silence can keep you grounded.   It is in the depths of silence that you can hear your soul speak to you.  It is in the depths of silence that you begin to feel that love for yourself.  It is in the depth of silence that you begin to feel a connection to other beings.    Silence brings acceptance which brings strength which brings love.   Love for oneself and love for all.    Our minds love to chatter.   We need to silence that chatter and start to listen to our self.   It will give us the courage to truly be ourselves.  

An Exercise:

- Before you get out of bed in the morning (and it doesn't have to be every morning).  Put your phone off.   Tune out what you have to do for the day.  Take Five Inhales and Exhales.   Allow yourself to feel completely releaxed. 

- Listen with Intention.  Focus on the sound of your breath, the birds singing, the cars honking, the street noises outside, pay attention to that.  Thoughts will come and go, but let them pass like clouds. 
- Take a piece of paper or if you have a journal write a couple of sentences that come to you in the morning after being in silence.  
This whole process should not take more than five minutes.  If you have more time gradually start to increase it.  

It will do you wonders......

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Four Agreements...

The Four Agreements

I recently finished reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Luis, and it has left an impressionable mark on me.  So many things that he said resonated with so many of our lives' problems or communication issues we may have with our close ones as well as work colleagues, and if we want to take it to another level to how our world view is shaped.   He states that there are four agreements to live by in this world that you need to make to yourself:
1.  Be Impeccable with your word.
2.  Don't take anything personally
3. Don't make assumptions
4. Always do your best.

These may perhaps be relatively simple techniques and can be found in great religious texts, but him putting it in such a practical way clicked with me.   I gave it to my husband, who is not an avid reader of novels - and it clicked with him too.
The first rule - Be impeccable with your word - what does that mean - use your words carefully and without sin - so if the words that come out of you are going to hurt the other person - stop yourself - watch yourself - before you speak.   Simple, but so difficult to practice.  How many times do we say something and immediately after it came out of our mouths we regret saying it.   How many times have those words hurt the other person? And how many times are we aware in how we use our words.   We underestimate how much others are impacted by our words - positive or negative - and the first rule - makes us become aware of that.  It is literally an exercise in practicing mindfulness.  As a mom, it is also a reminder to me to be watchful of the words I use with my child - knowing that if i say something negative - he can begin to internalize certain images of himself.

 The Second Rule of not taking anything personally stuck with me and i try to apply that to day to day situations.  He says " Don't take anything personally.  Nothing anyone does is because of you .  What other's say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won't be the victim of needless suffering. " I love that.  If we literally take that to heart, imagine how much more understanding there would be amongst individuals.  It doesn't negate our actions involved in that -when we take things personally - we react - either verbally, sometimes physically, sometimes passively- but there is a reaction.  That reaction causes a counter reaction - and it goes back and forth like a tennis ball until someone is out.  What if there was no reaction - what if when something that you know would normally hurt you - u look at it from the other person's perspective- and try to understand where they are coming from - so instead of taking it personally - we realize - "oh, it's not about me, it's about them." It creates something different in us - a more compassionate person - and the more compassionate we are, the more understanding we become.    We can even use this with children - think about it - lets say your child comes home saying he is feeling bad about what another kid may have said to them - teaching them or rather helping them understand that perhaps it is not so much about your child, but perhaps the other kid's issues helps so much in a child's self esteem, and developing compassion. 

calm woman.jpeg
The third rule of not making assumptions is equally as important - when we make assumptions, we create an emotion in us, a feeling in us - positive or negative and often times we act on that feeling.  If we act on that, it can have some severe conseuqences.  What if we just learn to ask questions instead of assuming. It is not as simple as it may seem -because as he says, it requires courage.   We are standing up to ask a question and be prepared for the answer whatever it may be rather than allow our mind to take us on a wild goose chase and make an assumption.  Assumptions can cause break ups, assumptions can cause fights, assumptions are a result of possibly how we view ourselves - and in doing that we make ourselves miserable.  Learning to express yourself can avoid alot of drama unnecessarily. 
And the last one about Always doing your best.   If we give something our best no matter what circumstance we also avoid the possiblity of self- judegment. If we are constantly judging ourselves, we fall prey to victim mode, we fall prey to the role of self-abuse.   But if we give something our best, we have the right intention, we have given it our all, and we are accepting of our actions.   If we always strive to do our best - our words will be filled with love, we can learn to understand others better, and we can learn to ask the right questions and express ourself fully - our thoughts, actions, and words are in sync with one another, or so my beloved master so eloquently put it "Unity in thought, word, & deed.".

 How does this relate to journaling? Use journaling as a toolkit in helping you put these agreements into practice.   You can make a log book for yourself for 30 days and pick one of the agreements and monitor your progress or log in at the end of each day your thoughts, feelings about it.  Another options is when you wake up in the morning, pick three words that describe how you feel in the morning - before you retire at night, pick three feeling words again - it is an exercise in self- reflection - how much of you is self-abusing, and how much of you has given its best.   

Pick one of the agreements you want to work on - Let's say it is assumptions - Begain a 5 minute writing piece with the following sentence " I make assumptions when..... Or I am assuming that.....  or Assumptions are.....   Try it different ways and read it out loud to yourself or if you want to to someone you trust.  

You can make a journal entitled The Four Agreements- and capture images, quotes, poems, and glue them in your journal to help you remind yourself of the agreeement you are making.   Create entries for yourself and do regular writings on each of the four agreements. 

I'm reading The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Luis and when I'm done with that, I will share my thoughts on that. 

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

Have you ever been in a situation where making decisions can be so difficult? Where everytime you think you have made a decision on something, another person lends another perspective, and you change your mind on that decision - so you find yourself coming up with a different decision every couple of weeks or every couple of days - and you wonder - what is going on with me? Why can't i just decide on something? 

Well if you are one of those people that don't have a difficult time making decisions then this post is not for you - however in the last couple of weeks, i have come across several individuals where i see that making a decision and more so sticking to it creates so much confusion and anxiety as well as frustration in them and i wanted to write about it.  

Something i read the other day helped me gain insight into that - in order to know what you want, you must have a vision of what you want and you must have clarity.   But how does one gain that clarity when there are a 1000 different voices telling you something else or perhaps that you don't trust your own voice -that deep still voice inside that is crying out to you to tell you - stop the chatter and learn to trust yourself.  
Decisions are about you - nobody else - they are about you trusting yourself to stand firm on something despite what others may say - positive or negative.  Decisions are about knowing what is best for you because no other person's life is the same as yours.   It is your experience and only you can get to decide what works best for you.   Decision making is also an exercise is learning to stand tall like the mountain even if you stand out within the crowd and it is a strong conviction in you that pushes you to get what you seek to accomplish.  
Making a decision is not always easy - there are pros and cons to making a decision.  Sometimes we use our logic too much when we need to learn to listen to our hearts more.  How many times have you had a feeling about something but you just can't pinpoint it but heeded not to listen to it and go with the logical side? Making a decision can also be an exercise in learning to understand how your mind operates - and how your mind works.   It is an exercise in learning the kind of language that you speak to yourself - am i destructive in my thoughts or positive? Making a decision is also an exercise in learning to be honest with yourself with the truth - sometimes the truth is painful - it is difficult to accept the truth.  And sometimes accepting the truth can be so liberating.  
Consequences of making a decision often implies that sometimes not everyone is going to be happy with your decision.  Some people will be hurt, some people will be angry, whereas others will admire you for sticking to your truth.  Accepting the consequences and anticipating the consequences is part of decision making.  It is also a test you - how much do i care about other people's opinions? 

But making a decision there also comes a tact of communicating that decision - The way the decision is communicated is as important as how you make the decision.   It has to come from that small still voice that is fearless and that is anxiety free.   It is firm, it is solid, it is based on love, and it is strong.  
Not all decisions require all this thought out process - i am writing about making decisions that test you to the limit and make you go beyond your comfort zone and help you stand tall.  

An exercise that I learned when I was taking an online course on journaling was called Clustering.  Kathleen Adams in her book, The Journal Ladder, really gives a great exercise on using this to gain clarity.    Clarity is needed and you need to feel like you own the issue - it is yours - it does not belong to anyone but you and that is why you have been faced with making this decision not anyone else.  

The exercise is called Clustering - What it involves is Naming an issue -lets say we use the word Decision - and we do a name clustering exercise around it - kind of like free association of words that come to us when we hear that word - but instead of verballly stating it, we write them down really fast, we do that until we feel no more words are needed.   After that - we do a 10 minute free writing piece on it.   I've done that many a times and i feel when i do, it helps in my decision making.  It also lets me see how my mind works, and more than that it helps me be at ease with myself. 

Clarity comes with practicing silence  - with being mindful in what you do- Clarity also comes when we take walks in nature or when we run.

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Journaling and Quotes...

Buddha Quotes on Hanging Wall ScrollsWalking into a store at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco a couple of years ago, and I felt I was home.   What was it about this store that made me want to stay there forever? It had Quote Hangings all over.  Quotes from The Buddha, Quotes From the I-Ching, Quotes from Gandhi, Quotes by John Lennon.   They resembled prayer flags - quotes that were printed in cloth and could be used as wall accents and decoration.   There was something about being in that environment that was very calming.  

There is something about the power of a quote.   Just the other day I was reading an article by Geoffrey O'Brien who wrote " Quotes are the mental furniture of my life."  It is an outer reflection of our deepest values, our deepest desires and expectations we have for ourselves and for the world around us.   It is an outer reflection of our soul.   Reading a quote can either inspire you to perform a random act of kindness for someone or it can get you in the mood to be creative or it can still you.   Whatever the reaction, it does something for your soul.   The idea of a quote having that capacity to move you says something about the power of words.   That words have that power to either destroy you or make you and how important it is for us to use our words carefully.   It goes with the power of the quote - how often have you gone through a day very stressed and then only to see a saying, a phrase somewhere to remind you of your purpose or to bring a smile to you.   It is the same thing with our words - as we begin to become more aware of how our words have the capacity to shape us, form us and make us, we can actually become more conscious in the ways in which we use them.   To help us get us into that framework, reading quotes of inspiration can serve as a reminder to us of being true with our words.  

A journaling prompt I would like to share with you.......Pick a quote that resonates with you - and Journal for 5-10 minutes with that quote in mind.   Writing for five to ten minutes continuously could get you in a mode that  allows the deepest core of yourself to be expressed without judgement, without fear, and without hesitation.  I have often used quotes as an inspiration to do a journaling entry and i have found that it can spark that creative fire in you that sometimes you may not know how to channel.   

What are some of your favorite quotes? When you are feeling low do you look for a quote to bring you up? When you feel happy, do you look for a quote to express what it is you are feeling but can't put it in words? Do you sometimes feel the need to share certain quotes with others - knowing that it can impact the other?
Happy Journaling!

quote - quotes Photo