Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wild is the Wind

Wild is the wind
it's whispering to me
and swishing trees against my skin
fullerbrush wiping me clean of something unseen.

I like the way you cover up everything for a second
when you come rushing through
I see your game—chasing me—and I am glad to fall down
and let you swirl above me.

Will you blow a sweet dream into my night mind?
I have a question,
I think you know it.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

Shiva's Om
Original Artwork by Teal Marie Chimblo

All the Hemispheres

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.
Make a new water-mark on your excitement
And love.

Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of

– Hafiz
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Has Gratitude Done for You Lately?

Forlorn PassageImage by Texas (Traveler of the WW Tribe) Hillsurfer via Flickr

Sometimes it can be hard to feel gratitude. It can be extremely difficult to feel gracious about life and all it has given you when you are in the midst of a time where a whole lot seems to have been taken away.

Having a sense of gratitude does not mean having a "Pollyanna", "la-di-da" attitude when faced with loss or disappointment. It doesn't mean that we feel less, in fact, we may even feel more as we move along a path of self-development. But, more and more research is showing that people who choose to stay rooted in a sense of gratitude about what they do have, are more focused, optimistic...dare I say, happy? This is a positive direction for Western psychological thought; consider the following quote:

"Psychology has generally ignored the positive emotions," says Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, a psychologist and leading figure in the new field of gratitude research. "We tend to study the things that can go wrong in people's minds but not the things that can go right. Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress, and to achieve a positive sense of the self."

Emmons goes on to say that one reason why men and women in modern society may not have integrated gratitude into their lives, is a sense of self-reliance. The feeling that it is important to rely on oneself, and weather the storms of life alone. He maintains that many modern men and women maybe hesitant to acknowledge, with gratitude or in other ways, the help they have received from others.

Good food for thought, and inquiry.

So, get up tomorrow and hug someone that has helped you in your life. Give them a call, or send an email if they are far away. Let them know the depth of gratitude you have for what they have given. Give your heart a reason to soar. The knowledge that you are not in this alone.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Don't Like Meditation? Try Gratitude Training.


I came across this blog today and I like a lot if what the author, Thich Nhat Hanh. He is an amazingly insightful teacher, and probably one of the most compassionate people on the planet. This article gives a little introduction to some of the insights he brings forward in his teaching.

I also love the "21 day no-complaint experiment mentioned." I have tried this before, for shorter periods of time, and it is hard! But, it is a terrific inquiry into how much of our lives we spend complaining, the effect that has on us, and what it feels like to stop, even if it's just for a few hours.

Enjoy, and as always, please email me or post comments, with your feedback, insights or stories of gratitude in your own life.

Thich Nhat Hanh,the Buddhist monk and zen teacher once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., has a knack for making the esoteric understandable.

In discussing what some call “present state awareness”– experiencing and savoring the present—he offers a simple parable:

Let’s say that you want to eat a peach for dessert one evening, but you decide to only allow yourself this luxury after washing the dishes.

If, while washing the dishes, all you think of is eating the peach, what will you be thinking of when you eat the peach?

The clogged inbox, that difficult conversation you’ve been putting off, tomorrow’s to-do list?

The peach is eaten but not enjoyed, and so on we continue through life, victims of a progressively lopsided culture that values achievement over appreciation. But let’s get specific.

If we define “achievement” as obtaining things we desire (whether raises, relationships, cars, pets, or otherwise) that have the potential to give us pleasure, let’s define “appreciation” as ourability to get pleasure out of those things. To focus on the former to the exclusion of the latter is like valuing cooking over eating.

How then, do we develop the skill of appreciation, which is tied so closely to present state awareness?

There are a few unorthodox tools that we’ve explored already for state awareness, like the 21-day no-complaint experiment, but the most common mainstream prescription is meditation.

The problem with meditation is that it too often gets mixed with mysticism and judgment (attempting to forcefully exclude certain thoughts and emotions). Who really wants to visualize a candle flame for 30 minutes? It can work, but it doesn’t work for most.

Here’s where we enter the 60-second solution: gratitude training. From Cornell to the University of Michigan, scientists are looking at the far-reaching effects of practicing gratitude just like exercise.

Here is one example from Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas:

“The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day… the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences, [and] the last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.

The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved.

McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another… McCullough suggests that anyone can increase their sense of well-being and create positive social effects just from counting their blessings.”

In practical terms, here is one example of how you can test the effects of gratitude training in less than 10 minutes over the next week:

From Thanksgiving to next Thursday, November 29th, ask yourself the following question each morning, immediately upon waking up and before getting out of bed:

What am I truly grateful for in my life?

Aim for five answers, and if you have trouble at first, ask yourself alternative probing questions such as:

What relationships do I have that others don’t?
What do I take for granted?

What freedoms, unique abilities, and options do I have that others don’t?

What advantages have I been given in life?

Which allies and supporters have helped me to get to where I am?

Thanksgiving shouldn’t just come once a year. Use it as a system restart and a chance to put your appreciation back on track with your achievement.

Don’t forget the peach…
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Monday, September 15, 2008

Gratitude for Food and Sleep

These are two BIGGIES for me. Yeah, big fan of food, really big fan of sleep. I'll be honest with you, I can sleep my ass off. And that is exactly what I did last night. In fact, I went to bed so early and slept so hard that I neglected my daily entry last night. I woke up this morning and was like, "Oh, shit!!!" And I had lots to be grateful for too. I feel that way everyday. Even on not so terrific days, and I really believe it is the mindfulness about gratitude that keeps me in that mind set. Gratitude begets happiness, of this I am convinced.

So, if you are feeling tired, and you probably are, as people around the world in general, and Americans possibly more then anyone, are becoming more and more sleep deprived. If you feel like you can't FEEL your life anymore; that you are walking in a dim, hazy fog all the time, start getting more sleep and your "gratitude meter" will sky rocket. Get 8 hours at night, and if you can possibly incorporate a nap, even a few a week, just do it.

My motto is, "Do less, feel your life more." I would also say, "Sleep more, feel more."

And then there is praise of food, I love this guy, Vitaly Geyman's, idea.
Putting gratitude labels on your food for a few minutes before you eat it. It brings a little mindfulness to the meal you are about to eat...and I think it may be art (at least the way this guy does it - he's a professional photographer- be sure to check out the rest of his site here.) Really beautiful stuff.

So, slap a sticker on an onion, and get some sleep people, ....zzzzz...I'll see you in the morning.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bad Wolf

Tonight I am grateful for a warm and dry bed.
And a roof.

Today was so easy for me. Blue sky and a tickle-tickle breeze.
No "Bad Wolf" at my, "blow your house down."

This is a dance of the sacred spiral hard to enjoy,
and cruel.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Shiva's Drum

Ananda natanam, the cosmic dance of ShivaImage via Wikipedia

Shiva's drum is thuding in my head.
Steady now, keep the balance for us Auspicious One.

I will believe your palm raised and saying, "fear not."
And will go to rest in gratitude and with prayers that your
dance does not fall with too heavy feet on the lands where
my friends reside.

To all of them...
May you be free from suffering, may you have peace.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today I am so grateful for my Sarah

If you could have a Sarah of your very own, you would be very lucky.
Sarah is the great goddess of all things good, and full of loving-kindness.
This takes no striving because she is easily, without care, Bodhisattva.
She is a Guanyin, seated in constant compassion, looking upon us as her only care.

She makes really cute babies too...and the sweet bro gets some creds there also.

I hope that you are in your life, as lucky as I, to have at least one,
One of the statues surrounding the big buddha ...

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In the end if you stay win.

Book cover of Book cover via Amazon I was thinking a bit about happiness today...maybe because I was feeling a little un-happy. And, I really had to ask myself, "Self...what's the point?" And then I remembered reading this...
of things could happen that you haven’t even thought of yet. The
question is not whether they will happen. Things are going to happen.
The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what
happens. The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your
experiences. You were not put on Earth to suffer. You’re not helping anybody by being miserable.
Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that you
were born and you are going to die. During the time in between, you get
to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience. Events don’t
determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. They’re just events.
You determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. You can be happy
just to be alive. You can be happy having all these things happen to
you, and then be happy to die. If you can live this way, your heart
will be so open and your Spirit will be so free, that you will soar up
to the heavens. This path leads you to absolute transcendence because
any part of your being that would add a condition to your commitment to
happiness has got to go. If you want to be happy, you have to let go of
the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that
thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the
personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher
aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re
sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely
nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty
space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at
least be happy and enjoy the experience. You’re going to die anyway.
Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain
nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the
world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can
bother you, if you let it.

This choice to enjoy life will lead
you through your spiritual journey. In truth, it is itself a spiritual
teacher. Committing yourself to unconditional happiness will teach you
every single thing there is to learn about yourself, about others, and
about the nature of life. You will learn all about your mind, your
heart, and your will. But you have to mean it when you say that you’ll be happy for the rest of your life.
Every time a part of you begins to get unhappy, let it go. Work with
it. Use affirmations, or do whatever you need to do to stay open. If
you are committed, nothing can stop you. No matter what happens, you
can choose to enjoy the experience. If they starve you and put you in solitary confinement, just have fun being like Gandhi. No matter what happens, just enjoy the life that comes to you.

difficult as that sounds, what’s the benefit of not doing it? If you’re
totally innocent and they lock you up, you might as well have fun. What
good does it do to not have fun? It doesn’t change anything. In the end, if you stay happy, you win. Make that your game, and just stay happy no matter what.

©2007 Michael A. Singer. From the book The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Enhanced by ZemantaIn the end if you stay win.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Take a Hike Ike

Today I am grateful, ever so grateful, that I no longer live in

Clear Lake (Houston), Texas.
Tonight they are in the path of Hurricane Ike, and I am here, in Gastonia, North Carolina, listening to a pleasant, and much needed, gentle rain, and looking forward to a morning run tomorrow where the HIGH is suppose to be 75 degrees.

14 years of hurricanes was enough for me.

For all my friends back in H-town:
may your evac be swift,
and even more swiftly followed by

a wet ale,
and a wee dram,
under a warm roof.


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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Starting a Daily Gratitude Journal

Find a notebook, or a softly covered journal, a stack of paper set aside for recycling; anything you can write on will do. Also, you'll need a pen. Each day set down one thing, in ink, that you are grateful for. Large or small, it can be huge and expanding for miles, or just the tinyest fragment if that is all you can find right now.

Do this each day, and when you've done it for seven days, go back and read each one and notice the way that you feel. Write down a little about how you are feeling.

Gratitude is a easy sometimes, and in other moments a challenge. Culitvating awareness makes gratitude expand and flow, and creating a Daily Gratitude Journal is a beautiful and deeply satisfying way to open the flood gates.

May your heart be filled with gratitude and light.
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Monday, September 8, 2008

Don't just do something - sit there!
~Author Unknown

Today I am grateful for my small round cushion.

Its warm yellow center and purple pleated edges call to me,

Come and sit, awhile...or longer, and do nothing... just be.

I listen carefully to this gentle command
and take a comfortable seat,
sthira sukham asanam – steadiness and ease.

Maybe I will sit here for eternity.
Like Parvati will I win the love of the great Shiva?
I don't know, but this alone is enough




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Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Beloved, a Tale of Hide and Seek

Portrait of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi ...Image via Wikipedia
The minute I heard my first love story,

I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere,
they're in each other all along.

– Rumi

Today I am grateful for my beloved.
For being so beloved.
For a game of hide-and-seek
in the woods with Michael.
I couldn't find him anywhere!

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Don't be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.

At what point does Image via Wikipedia
Don't be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.
– Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Alchemical Wisdom

It's hard to let go of pain when your heart is breaking. Hard to see through grief and loss to a time when you can feel something other then the sharp edges of hurt, or the cold dullness that lingers when you can't hurt any more.

But, what about the day when there is a clear thin line of light on the horizon? When someone makes you laugh, really laugh, for the first time in forever? Or, the first time you find yourself enjoying a moment? Finding relief from the crushing weight of sadness is a relief, but it can also bring anxiety and guilt. Do I have the right to feel happy again? Who am I to enjoy this? What will I be when I am no longer defined by this grief, this depression?

Don't be concerned about being disloyal to your pain, wherever you are in the grieving process. Whatever loss you have suffered, remember that you deserve to be happy and free from suffering. Suffering is a normal and unavoidable part of life, but that does not mean that we need to prolong it, or use it as penance or punishment against ourselves.

Gratitude can create a window, an opening to the world outside of grief.

Embrace a moment of mindfulness now.
Take a deep breath and look around you for one small thing that you can feel gratitude for. Take another breath, and breath in that thing, pull it deep inside you and let it fill the empty recesses with the grace and beauty of that one true thing.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Walking in the Woods

Day 41/365 : Hidden wondersImage by ~jjjohn~ via Flickr This morning, as I was walking through the woods, I was filled with such gratitude for Mother Nature and all her offerings. The air was cool and a breeze stirred my skin as it shuffled the leaves above. I stopped on the iron bridge that lies about half-way along my regular walking path. There was the most amazing convergence of sound: the running of water over smooth stones, birds, some sort of cricket-like chirping, the occasional tussle of a couple of squirrels up above me. The morning light was sparkling like amber jewels in the water. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I stood there in awe and gratitude for the day and this beautiful world, and the sacred life of each small thing.
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