Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dreams to Ring in the New Year....

Only dreams give birth to change - Sarah Ban Breathnach-

Only dreams give birth to change
for without dreams we would be nowhere
we would not learn the things we are destined to do
Do you see how far you have come?
Do you see the distances that you have crossed? 
That is what dreams do -they make things happen.
But for that we must write out our dreams
one by one, two by two, three by three
write them down, blow life into them, and believe.
Believe in the beauty of this new day. 
Dwell in the silence of your dreams. 
And Give birth to them. 

The new year has dawned before us once again
to give us hope, to give us strength
that we have yet another chance
another chance at love,
another chance in forgiveness
another chance in humility
another chance in letting go
another chance to try once again
another chance in dreaming things that may seem unreachable.

The new year comes with a message that the circle of life must continue
yet the current that weaves the circle must be stronger. 
We must breathe love into the circle.
The New Year is yet another day to begin the first day of our lives
with a clean slate, brand new, to let go of the old and hope only for the good. 

There may be mistakes, there may be treading through the unknown, there may be uncertainity of the future. 

But what I know for sure is I am alive, I have survived and will move into this year with audacity and faith.  

 Luj├ín Fraix : noviembre 2011
Journaling Prompt:   The New Year is here.  Create your own affirmation for the year to use for 2015.  Think of words that come to your mind, feelings, images that come to your mind as you think of the New Year.  

Happy New Year and Happy Journaling!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kiss the Joy!

'All there is to do, right at this very moment, is breathe in, breathe out and kiss the joy as it flies."
- Dani Shapiro-

Kiss the joy as it flies, what beautiful imagery that comes to my mind as I visualize joy flying everywhere to different parts of the world, to loved ones dear and far, to strangers who may need a little love, to families grieving their loved ones, to children in war stricken grounds, to the sick, to all there is.   What the world needs now is more joy and joy everywhere so that it can be spread like fireflies lighting everyone it touches.   Kiss the joy with your deepest wish for your loved ones and let it fly high till it touches them.  Wish out joy and beauty to those around you and spread like wildfire because we are joy.  We are joy.  We say it ourselves, we will believe it.  And that is my wish for you all during this holiday season, that you get a kiss of joy wherever you are and spread it to the next person one and far.   We are living in a world that is filled with uncertainity, that is filled with violence, that is filled with fear.  

People act without thinking impuslively, selfishly, and recklessly not thinking about the dire consequences that their actions can have on others and the world that surrounds them.  While we may not be able to control their actions, we do have control of our thoughts and our intentions and what we choose for ourselves.   And if each one of us makes a resolution to choose intentions that are loving, kind, joyful and hopeful, we will be able to create a ripple effect which is what the world needs today.  It starts with us, and in our homes reminding  us of the goodness of life -but but not just for this season, but at least throughout the year.   There is a beautiful line from William Blake's Poem that says "But he who kisses the joy as it flies, Lives in Eternity's Sunrise."   Think of the glory of the sunrise, as the sun greets the sky with its charm, glory and beauty.  The feeling of saying good morning to that beautiful sun is pure joy, and we sit with it for a moment, and then go about our busy day.   But what if we sit with it for a moment and then breathe out joy to the world and for ourselves  before we go about the busy day.  What if? Just imagine.  
Happy Holidays One and All!

Journal Prompt: Write out your wish list for yourself, the world, your community, your friends, your family.  

Happy Journaling!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Wishing Ball...


Sometimes the words don’t flow easily when we want to write. We have the journal in front of us, our mind is racing, and even then, we just can’t get it out.   One rule I endorse is don’t push it, do something else so the words can flow.  Creativity and writing go hand in hand.  Here is one such example I want to share with you.   The holidays are here and we are once again trying to figure out what to get our friends, family, colleagues, etc.   I think that when we want to gift someone something, there must  be thought that goes into it.   Yes it is more work, but it is so important to really think about what it is that person needs – sometimes it is not always a materialistic thing – sometimes it is a matter of time with the person, sometimes it is  a gesture, sometimes it is something that we made, and when we put our feelings and thoughts into it, it gives life to the gift.  The receiver of the gift will always remember the thought that went into it, even after the gift has been used up.  The simple feeling of “oh, wow, that person really went out of their way to think about m-they remembered what it is that I like , they remembered my favorite  color, or they remembered I like dark chocolate or just something that makes them know that you are thinking of them.

So today, I was feeling a little stuck with my writing, my  journaling process and the turn it is taking – and instead of focusing on my stuckness, I decided to shift my focus.  For the last couple of days, I keep getting this vision in front of me of decorating glass balls for the holidays and make them into wishing balls – so I went to my favorite store, Michaels and went crazy –well let’s say I could live there.   And decided to experiment with what this small little voice inside me is telling me to do – I had never decorated a glass ball ever, I had no idea what to do and how it would turn out, but I decided to follow my gut.   I got home, it was empty – no one home, I put on some Krishna Das Music blasted, and got myself moving.  The process was intense –my hands messy, the floor messy, me trying to figure out why the pens I bought don’t work, and me wondering how I am ever going to get this glue off my hands.  The end product are photographs in this entry.  What does this have to do with gifting – it is a simple but thoughtful gift to give someone – the idea is write your wishes down on a piece of paper and put them in that glass ball and hang it as a decorative piece and keep it –knowing that one day in its own magical way your dreams will come true in the right timing and in the right way –just the way its supposed to be, but in the meanwhile just enjoy the journey.   Give it a try.  Listen to your gut, is it telling you to do something that seems childish, impossible, something you think will take a lot of time and work – do it – let it guide you because the journey of doing it is so important –it makes you believe in magic, joy, and what this season is really about.   Here are some pictures of my Wishing Ball!

Happy Journaling!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Give The Gift of Journaling this Holiday Season....

Give the Gift of Writing to others during this Holiday Season.
Writing your thoughts can help you reflect and get a more objective look at things.  Your journal can help improve your self-talk and it can help remind you what you think is important.  It can also help you declutter your emotions and your mind.    As Oprah Winfrey said, “I not only want to fulfill the mission of my purpose this trip to the Planet Earth, I want to do it consciously—so that I can revel in its splendor.”  Writing in a journal can help you accomplish that.  
Journal Seeker Gift Certificates are now available for your friends and loved ones.

Pick from 1 hour Journaling Session to a series of sessions cultivated to your own special needs.   Some examples:  Keeping a Gratitude Journal, De-clutter my Life and Journaling,  Food, Mood and Journaling,  Poetry and Journaling,  Creating more Mindfulness through Journaling, or it could be something as simple as Jumpstart to Journaling.   

Journaling is a great tool for children 8 and above because it teaches them tools to listen to their voices and a deepened love for writing.  

Sessions can be done via email/phone or in person.  
Gift Certificates start at $25, $50, $75 and $100
Included is your own special notebook, journaling prompts for optimum wellness, creativity and mindfulness.  
Email: Journalingcircle@gmail.com for more information or call at 201-658-3829.

In service,
Anjali Mani 


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 13

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

― Meister Eckhart-

Today is Thanksgiving! Let us give thanks again and again. Create your own, ‘Be Thankful’ collage that you can read every day. Fill it with quotes, sayings, and pictures that resonate with you and keep it in a place where you can read it everyday. It would be a great family activity.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 12

We human beings don't realize how great God is. He has given us an extraordinary brain and a sensitive loving hear. HE has blessed us with two lips to talk and express our feelings, two eyes which see a world of colors and beauty, two feet which walk on the road of life, two hands to work for us, a nose which smells the beauty of fragrance, and two ears to hear the words of love. As I found with my ear, no one knows how much power they have in each and every organ until they lose one - Malala Yousafzai-

Journal Prompt: Make a list of all the things you have. Let this list go to a 100!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 11

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
― Rabindranath Tagore -
Journal Prompt:
Do an act of service/giving today. Write about the experience after.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gratitutde Prompt Day 10

I am so glad you are here.  It helps me realize how beautiful my world is.
-Rainer Maria Rilke-

I love this quote.  Such simple words yet so profound. 
Journal Prompt:  What would I do if had not met .......?  Be specific about the person and the relationship.  

In Remembrance.....

“Let my thoughts come to you, when I am gone, like the afterglow of sunset at the margin of starry silence.” - Rabindranath Tagore-
13 years ago we said goodbye to your physical body...but like i say every year - you are physically gone but so very close and more present than I have ever felt. Time is a strange thing- sometimes it feels like just yesterday that you were in our midst and at other times it feels like it has been ages.  And in between all this, your presence in its own majestic way exists like an invisible hand.  I feel your hand of protection on me. On my family, I feel your wisdom come thorough when I least expect it, I feel your compassion bloom because of moments that I shared with you that taught me over and over again that there is no greatest act than the act of service.  So just like we say goodbye to the physical presence of the sun as it sets , I said goodbye to you 13 years ago.  But just as i am still astounded by the beauty that the sun has created in the sky - the reds, the oranges, the pinks, all of that leave us speechless..so too I am speechless by your never ending love even when your physical presence is no longer there.   And for that in debt gratitude over and over again!
For some this may be a time when we are truly missing a loved one - a couple of weeks ago,  I did a writing piece on capturing my favorite memory of thanksgiving and I went back and wrote about special memories of Thanksgivng.  After my dad died,  it was difficult to really give it the same meaning because it always coincided with his death anniversary- but it remembering him, I realized that we were celebrating him and his ideals, and that we were grateful for having had him in our lives for as Long as we did- especially the last couple of years. And so this is for those that may be in the same boat - we celebrate the person. - we celebrate and acknowledge their love- and that is where we begin to find grace, gratitude, blessings, abundance, beauty, love manifest in our lives - we rise above the physical presence and connect with spirit/soul. 
Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 9

Letter to a Friend

I am your friend
and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you
which you have not have:
but there is much, very much
that while I cannot give it,
you can take.

No heaven can come to us
unless our hearts find rest
in today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future
which is not hidden
in this present little instant.
Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory
in the darkness, could we but see,
and to see we have only to look.
I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver,
but we, judging its gifts by
the covering, cast them away
as ugly, or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering and
you will find beneath it
a living splendor,
woven of love,
by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it,
touch the angel's hand
that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial,
a sorrow, or a duty, believe me,
that angel's hand is there,
the gift is there, and the wonder
of an overshadowing presence.
Our joys, too, be not
content with them as joys.
They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose,
so full of beauty,
beneath its covering—
that you will find earth
but cloaks your heaven.

Courage, then, to claim it, that is all.
But courage you have,
and the knowledge that
we are all pilgrims together,
wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this time, I greet you,
not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem
and with the prayer that for you
now and forever, the day breaks,
and the shadows flee away.

Letter written by Fra Giovanni

Journal Prompt: Write your own poem to a Friend.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Creatively Grateful! A nice holiday idea.....

Looking for a little inspiration - make thank you notes with your favorite quotes. Pass them on to colleagues, friends, or better if you have kids- make one with them. This is dedicated to my son- together we came up with a creative way to honor this season:)
Happy Journaling! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 8

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts." Henri Frederic Amiel

Journal Prompt: Write about being touched by an act of kindness. Describe every emotion, thought- pay attention to the details of that particular act that touched you, surprised you, and found you speechless.  Now, pay it forward- spread the kindness in your own way.  It doesn't have to be the same exact thing, but kindness spreads. It is contagious. 
Happy Journaling! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 7

I like to walk alone on country paths,
rice plants and wild grasses on both sides,
putting each foot down on the earth
in mindfulness, knowing
that I walk on the wondrous earth.
In such moments, existence is a miraculous
and mysterious reality.

People usually consider walking on water
or in thin air a miracle.
But I think the real miracle
is not to walk either on water or in thin air,
but to walk on earth.
Every day we are engaged in a miracle
which we don’t even recognize:
a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves,
the black, curious eyes of a child–
our own two eyes.
All is a miracle.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Journal Prompt: Continuing with the theme of miracle, give thanks for this beautiful earth we walk on. Write a poem about walking on earth beginning with:
The real miracle is to walk on earth.....
Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 6

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Journal Prompt: Miracles are all around us, they just need a little special attention. Think about the miracles you have noticed, and the ones you take for granted. List 5 miracles in your life happening right now.
Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gratitude Prompt Day 5

Take full account of the excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not.” — Marcus Aurelius

Journal Prompt: We all have our unique talents and gifts. Take time to be grateful for your special gifts, your special talents and write about your gratitude. 
Write a poem in gratitude of just being you.
Begin with: I am .........
Happy Journalng!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Abundance and giving thanks quote...

You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach-

Journal Prompt: How do you see abundance in your life? How do you define abundance? Write about abundance. Question Prompt:
How do I invite more abundance into my life?
Happy Journaling!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Saying Grace...

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” — G. K. Chesterton

Journal Prompt: Say Grace before every activity you engage in today. Write about Grace in your Life.  The idea of offering everything you do to a higher power. Think about it as a practice. 

I say Grace..........
I see Grace....

Happy Journaling!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gratitude prompts:

Gratitude Quote followed by prompt:

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

Journal Prompt: Take the time to recognize someone who has ignited that spark in you. Who has lit that flame in you, and how can you tell them in your own words what they mean to you. This can be more than one person, because there are many individuals who have sparked that flame in us.

Happy Journaling!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Give Thanks....

Thanksgiving is in two weeks to be exact.  It feels as if it has come too soon.   November has flown and here we are once again all gathering around to give thanks for all that we have.  Whether we go to our families or not, whether we choose to eat bountifully or not, one thing each of us will do in our own simple way - which is give thanks.  Give thanks for what? For this life.  This life that has been given to us and we continue to live each day is precious because it is ours to live.  And we are able to make it through another day and for that we give thanks.  We give thanks for the many wonderful surprises that have come our way.  We give thanks for the not so many wonderful surprises and for the work that is never ending and keeping us on our toes.  For in this too there is a meaning.  We give thanks for food that sustains us and keeps us whole.  We give thanks for our jobs if we have one, and if we don't have a job, we still give thanks for surviving without one -for there is a meaning of mercy behind that too.  We must give thanks for being able to eat, breathe this air, and be with our loved ones.  We give thanks for our health and that we are healthy, and for those of us struggling with a medical/health issue, we also give thanks for the support we receive from our loved ones, for the medical care we are receiving and the message that this illness may bring in order for us to make some lifestyle changes.  We give thanks for our friends who will be the ear we need when we are almost at our wits ends.  We give thanks for our sibllings, cousins who make us laugh and understand the craziness in us - because we are family.  We give thanks for our parents - they gave us life, and provided for us to the best that we can.  We give thanks to our grandparents who have created a tradition for us and a sense of history.   We give thanks for the things we take for granted that we see everyday before our eyes -the beauty that we see, the people in our lives - the joy and sadness both in our lives.  We give thanks for our partners, spouses, significant others without whom we would not know ourselves better and who accept us for who we are fully.   And last but not least, we give thanks to the ones we have lost -for having known them, for having them be such a big part of our life, and for creating an imprint.  We celebrate them and we give thanks for their presence.   We give thanks to so much more.   But more than anything, we give thanks to the Higher Power that sustains us, protects us, and loves us unconditionally. 

While it is not Thanksgiving day yet, what I want to stress with this is the idea of gratitude and what this can do for us.   And for the next two weeks begin to think of the little things that you are thankful for, and begin to notice your mood, your energy, your optimum well being.   The idea of gratitude only on thanksgiving day needs to extend beyond that day.  By being grateful, we begin to expand beyond ourselves, we begin to understand other human beings, and begin to look at things without taking it personally.  Oprah Winfrey stresses the importance of a Gratitude Journal.   A Gratitude Journal will make you perceive whatever difficulty that comes to you in a larger context.  It will give you the motivation to face whatever you face calmly and without fear.  It will help you look at what is really important in life and it will set your priorities straight.  What you once thought was important may not be as important back than and you come out a different person.   

As we begin to prepare for this annual tradition, let us look at the deeper meaning behind this holiday - the values, the togetherness, the community, and more than anything the ideal of living in gratitude each day.    For those of you who want to join me, I will be posting a Journaling Prompt each day through Thanksgiving that can deepen your sense of gratitude.   I will be posting it daily through The Journal Seeker and on my Facebook page.   I hope you join me, or better yet, think of your own prompts that can deepen this practice of  gratitude.  

Journal Prompt: Write your own Gratitude Poem beginning with the line:
I GIVE THANKS TO.............

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Heart Strings...

We make our way to the Church.  The concert is supposed to start at 7, but there is a huge crowd outside.   There is no assigned seating, and I say to myself - I hope we get good seats.  We go inside to obtain our wrist bands, and the lady says to me, there are some seats still availalbe in the balcony.  I rush up, and we find two chairs waiting for me and my husband.  I really won't be able to see the performer, and this time it is okay, because I am there to listen.  To close my eyes and listen.   I have waited for so long to hear him sing. I have him on my pandora collection, but to hear it live is something diffferent and I am excited.   And then it begins.   There is something beautiful about this evening.  We are in a spiritual place - a church, and there is a sign that says, " How Good it is when Brothers and sisters dwell together in harmony." This is a place of peace.  There is happiness, joy in the air. It is a wonderful moment.   Even more special because I am sharing it with my better half. And then it is time.   The opening act begins and have never heard them before but there is something soothing with their voices. And then it hits me, they are singing the Serenity Prayer, the prayer I say to myself many times a day -and have crafted a beautiful melody to it.   The lady next to me looks and me and smiles almost as if we were having the same thoughts.  And then it was time for the main act.  I am thrilled beyond words.   The first because in my natural element - with a similar community that have two loves - the love for the divine through music -and in this instance devotional chanting.   And then he begins:  "My Foolish Heart, Why do you weep? You throw yourself away again, Now you cry yourself to sleep.  My Foolish Heart, When will you learn? You are eyes of the world, and there's nowhere else to turn, Nowhere Else to turn."  I close my eyes and listen, and just like in meditation one is aware of the breathing, this time I begin to become aware of my heart slowly stirring.  It is almost as if my heart is the guitar and the strings are being played and with each string, I begin to feel an energy in me that is opening up. And so there I sat for the next three hours allowing myself to enjoy this total bliss not thinking about anything else but just being there. And that's what devotional music does to me.  It connects me to the Divine in a special way - that perhaps rituals may not, or a book may not, or a sermon may not.  The music speaks to the heart which is love and God is Love, and we are love.

That feeling I had in there was special.  It took me to a higher place, and I am sure at one point in our lives all of us have felt a sense of ecstasy for a fleeting moment, for an hour, for an event, and want to treasure onto that forever.   And that is what life is - we forget who we really are and what our real purpose is until we experience something that reminds us again and again.   

Think of something that captures the essence of Love.  Reflect back on an experience where you felt that joy, that unconditional love, that feeling where your heart was full of love -Close your eyes - and let that experience come back to you.  Imagine what you were wearing, the colors, the sounds, your thoughts - and as it comes back to you, slowly when you are ready begin to open your eyes and Write about that moment in the present.  Write for 10 minutes nonstop. 

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some more Journaling Prompts.....

I've been on and off dabbling with this 30 Day Digital Journaling Prompts - where you receive a daily journaling prompt and instead of writing by hand, use the computer to do so.  I have to say, i love writing by hand, there is nothing like it.  This has been an interesting experiment and I share with you a couple of my favorite Journaling Prompts that I have used.

Journal Prompt by Jackee Holder which is taken from a line in a film called The Magic of Belle Isle that says " Look out there and tell me what's not there...and then write about it."  Here is my response:

I see colors, I see trees, I see fall foliage when I look out there, but what I don’t see is the maker behind this.  The maker, the creator who’s hand is unseen in all our doings –what form are you? Where are you?  I don’t see you, but I feel like I know.  I don’t hear you, but I feel like I hear you.  Your presence carries itself in an invisible aura and I wonder will I ever get a glimpse of you.  What I don’t see is the invisible helpers that pave our ways to make our path easier.   Out of nowhere, a prayer will be answered, out of nowhere, a phone call, out of nowhere a beautiful letter, and underneath it all I don’t see you who make it happen.  I do see the imprint of your work in my heart. I do see the messages you send to me through the universe.  I do see the beauty behind your work.  But what I don’t see is how you get it all done.  Sometimes you know what I want even if I don’t say it.  What’s not there is the physical presence which we need sometimes to make sense of things.  But then that’s the beauty in this, isn’t it – the beauty is being able to see make the invisible visible and you do that through your work.

Journal Prompt by Mari L. McCarthy, author of " 136 Free Journal Prompts." 
Find your favorite FOUR LETTER F word - something postive - i know where our heads go with this:)  Type that word up after you've dated your entry, then listen and write whatever your journal has to say:

My response:  FEEL.

Feel the sun on your back. Feel every emotion in your body and breathe it out.  Feel the desire to fly.  Feel everything because to not feel denies yourself the emotions that are stored in your body.  We store everything and we are not aware of how much accumulates in us.   We store our feelings of love- they spread everywhere –to our heart and when our heart feels good, we begin to feel good about ourselves.   Feel the anger and let it be processed.  Feel it, breathe it out and exhale.  Feel the anxiety, breathe it, and let it out with a big HA.   Feel what you need to feel because when you don’t you become numb.  You begin to freeze.  Your feelings are the mirror to your state of mind and when you begin to be aware of your feelings you begin to be free.   When you store your feelings and put them away you make room for more storage.  Feel what you need to feel and let it all go.  It is only a feeling – does it belong to you – no, it doesn’t.   It comes from you, but it does not need to stay in you – it needs  to leave you. 

Enjoy and play around with them...

Happy Journaling!

The Now....

There is a beautiful children's book called Milton's Secret by Ekhart Tolle.  Milton is a young 11 year old boy who is a happy child.  He lives with his parents, has a cat, and loves to play outside in recess.   But soon, things start to change for Milton - a boy Carter in his class begins to bully him.   Milton's mood begins to change.  He becomes withdrawn, now all of a sudden does not seem to keen on going to school-that is until his grandfather visits him and notices the changes in him.   Milton slowly opens up to his grandfather about what is occcuring in school - and his grandfather's response is - "Be in the Now."  Milton as you can imagine is extremely confused - "THE NOW?" what does that mean - and then the grandfather begins to explain to him - as best as he can - being in the now means not worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow or what is going to happen while on the way to school - but more so being in the now means just living in the moment.   Milton is still confused - as so many of us may be - until he has a dream.   The dream he has is of him being chased by a dog and some boys and he ends up inside an icecream store.   And he sees a woman who shows him the inside of the NOW - The inside of the now is very simple - learning to feel good about yourself - and figuring out what it takes to get you to feel good about yourself.   In this book, the inside of the now is Milton imagining himself to be filled with light - and if the light makes him feel good, then that's what he will do to keep himself in the now.  There is another key point in here - that about the bully - that he is sad, he is angry at himself, he is upset at something and so he takes out his feelings of anger, etc on someone else to make himself feel good about himself.

Milton's Secret has been made into a movie and I would strongly recommend this book to those in the school system and educators who are working on violence and anti-bullying measures. 
I bring this up because recently, my son started complaining of headaches - and very unlike him not wanting to go to school.  His words to me were " I Love school, and I want to learn, but I don't want people bothering me."   For me, this was an indication that he was building up tension  in himself.  Very unlike a child who is typically very verbal.  But just like in the story, the grandfather began asking Milton questions, we began doing the same thing.   I started asking, and he started talking.   The headaches since the time he has talked have subsided, but something else happened - he began focusing in the NOW.   The NOW for him is not worrying about what is going to happen when he goes on the playground, The NOW for him, is not thinking about the words he has to use to defend himself, The NOW for him means that while he is in class, he is going to enjoy class, and while he is in line, he is going to be in line and when he wanted to feel good about himself, he knew he could turn on that inner light in him to begin to feel good about himself.   We read this book together, and something in him clicked - he said he was going to try to focus on the NOW.   Is his story the same exact as Milton's? No it isn't.   Is it the same type of severity? No it isn't.  The issue is not about how mild or severe it is, the issue is about the effect this can have on someone if they do not have an outlet to talk about things - from both ends. 

At some point or the other each of us have been subjected to a similar type of situation - and we either internalize it just like Milton started doing or we begin to externalize it like the "bully" in the story.   What I liked about the book, is that it showed compassion - and learning to understand where the bully was coming from. So while it is not okay put up with their actions, it is okay to try and understand why the other person is hurting.   And it began to make sense for my son - he began to realize that we are not all bad - and if someone does bad things, it doesn't make them bad, but more so that maybe they need help or something has happened to them to make them do bad things.  

I share this personally for those that may be struggling with this either at home or in school or even in the workplace.  Just as I told my son, we always have a choice - we always have a choice to act or not act, to respond or not respond, we always have a choice to take what someone does to us personally or not personally - and if we begin to realize that, together we can create more healing communities and environment.    Below is the link:

Journal Prompt:   If you have difficulty expressing what you are feeling, draw it out.   Drawing helps get the emotions out especially when the words are stuck somewhere.  Draw out the scenario that keep replaying in your head, Draw out the pain if that's what it is and describe what it feels like, Draw out the person hurting you.   Now once you have finished drawing, write for five minutes.   If you are doing this with a child, then just let them draw or sketch.   But have them do it more than once.   One more idea, sketch or draw what THE NOW looks like to you. 

Happy Journaling!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cleaning out....

In a couple of days, six days to be exact, I will be celebrating my Hindu New Year called Diwali.   Those of you who follow my blog have read prior posts on Diwali and it being significant about celebrating the inner light within us.  It is a New Year filled with light and celebrating light.  We make way for the new by getting rid of the old.  Today, I write not about the significance of this tradition, but more so a particular ritual that has been passed down from centuries that is associated with this festival.   A month or so before the holiday arrives; homes begin preparing through the process of what we call “Diwali Safai,” or Diwali Cleaning.   There is a story about Lord Ram, the King of Ayodhya who was banished in exile for 14 years and after 14 years, the kingdom is preparing for his return to his city.  They prepare by cleaning their homes, their streets, their shops, and adorning it by making it look beautiful and filling the streets with lamps and lights.   So we too begin this process of cleaning – I have to say that growing up as a child, this is the one thing that has stuck with me no matter how much I try to let go of it – I clean – the draws, go through my old stuff, windows, whatever it is that I normally don’t get to clean on a regular basis, we spend time cleaning.   There is an inner significance with the cleaning – we are getting rid of the clutter.  Clutter in our heads, clutter in our minds, hearts and clutter in our homes.  By taking a physical stock/inventory of getting rid of things that we do not need anymore, we are involving ourselves in a symbolic process of letting go.   On a metaphoric level, to let go can take a lifetime – whatever it is we need to let go of – so this actual ritual of beginning with our material possessions is actually quite practical, because we are beginning with baby steps – we begin with our practical stuff – the stuff that we collect.  And think of how much we collect. 

It is very difficult to let go of things – things that we may accumulate because of memories, because of sentiment, because of habit – the same way it is very difficult to let go of situations, control, people and issues.  These go hand in hand.   When we let go of our material things, we begin the process of purification – we begin the process of being okay with having less and it makes it easier to deal with the clutter in our mind, in our hearts.  

I look forward to this ritual every year because it really is time to take stock of what I need, what I don’t need, what my habits are, and how to move forward.   There is something about space – empty space – it is freeing.  The energy is clear.  Think of going into a room that is overcrowded with stuff – what does your body feel like, do you feel stifled, do you feel overwhelmed, do you not know where to start.  That on many levels is an indication of our minds – the state of our minds – where we feel overwhelmed and need to fill that void so by accumulating things and collecting things we fill that void.   I have personally seen the difference when I clear an area of my house – the energy feels different, the space feels lighter, I feel lighter.   Because I have experienced it, and I like how I feel, it is something I want to continue to do.  I want to be free of clutter.  I want to simplify.   I want to have more of an inviting space in my home.   I want to have more an emptiness in my mind and be free of clutter in my head.  

And so I have over the years made this not an annual event but according to season.  Every season,  I begin the ritual of going through the clutter- of cleaning – of making space for newness and getting rid of the old.  I do this with my son – help him look at his stuff that he collects so as he gets older, the purchases he makes for himself are based on need not greed .  The rule is if you want something new, you have to clear out the old and make room for the new.   Go through your books –why do you need all these books? Go through your clothes – what do you actually wear? Go through your toys – what is really important to you?  And by doing that we begin to learn to live simply.   I realized that this year my cleaning for Diwali was not that overwhelming because I have been doing this on a continuous basis –I did not leave it all for one year to look at –through the act of breaking it into seasons – I am in doing an internal check in within myself to clear out the clutter.  To clear out the clutter – emotional, physical, mental, whatever it may be so that I can be emptied totally and be present.   And to take it back to this festival – to be present means to celebrate this holiday with all the qualities it symbolizes – love, beauty, happiness, forgiveness, truth, and prosperity.   Because in the end, it is these qualities that we are seeking to fill ourselves with - rather than the possessions.  

There are some great prompts to help with decluttering:

I make room for ____________________________

I wish to create a space that _________________________

I let go of ________________________________________

Happy Journaling!