peace

Weekly Wisdom #30

by cheryl on February 2, 2014

in Weekly Wisdom

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”  – Dalai Lama XIV

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A Much-Needed Holiday Stress-Reducing Meditation

A Meditation for the Holiday Season

by cheryl on November 20, 2012

in Healthy Living

Why is it that during this joyful, festive time of year so many people are feeling anxious, depressed or depleted?  All that gift giving and holiday cheer  can be exhausting.  There is pressure to be happy and full of joy.   So when we don’t feel like being in the holiday spirit (or we may feel downright depressed), we become upset with ourselves and ask, “What is wrong with me?”

First, there is nothing wrong with you.  Throw away any judgment or feeling of disappointment in yourself.  You feel the way you feel, and that is OK.  It is an exhausting time of year.  There is cooking to do, presents to wrap, gifts to give, roads to travel.  You may also feel lonely or sad.  In addition, there are always those complicated family dynamics to contend with, which are often even more intense this time of year.  So, remind yourself that it is OK to feel whatever you feel.

Second, whether you are a regular meditator or have never tried meditation before, try this simple holiday meditation.  It doesn’t take long and I know you will feel a little better after giving it a try.  The great part about this meditation is that you can use it over and over again throughout the holiday season, as needed (no prescription required).

Step 1:

Find a quiet spot.  Allow yourself to escape for a short time from the commotion.  Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor, with your back straight OR lie down comfortably on your back in a resting position. Gently close your eyes.

Step 2:

Breathe deeply, in through your nose, then release that air back out through your nose.   Simply follow your breath in through your nose, filling up your lungs and abdomen, allowing your belly and chest to expand.   As you exhale, follow your breath back out through your lungs, your abdomen contracting, as the air flows out your nose.  As you inhale, think of letting in a sense of  calm, quiet, and stillness.   As you exhale, release all of the tension in your body, and any anxiety or sadness you are feeling.  With each exhale, simply let go.  As you continue your breathing, exhale for a slightly longer time than you inhale.  For example, inhale for two counts, then exhale for four counts.  You can use any number you want, just try to make your exhales longer than your inhales.  Fully release all of the air you are holding on to.  After doing this several times, you will begin to feel more relaxed, calm and peaceful.

Step 3:

After you have done some breathing and are in a nice rhythm, continue your slow, steady breathing while you think about five things you are grateful for.  These can be almost anything.  Just take the time to remind yourself of a few incredible gifts, big or small, that you have in your life.  For example, you may be grateful for allowing yourself to take this much needed time out from the holiday madness.   I will give you the first five things that pop into my head.

 

#1 – I am grateful for my breath.  As I breathe in and breathe out, I am so thankful that I can breathe freely, that my body works in a miraculous rhythm, naturally and rhythmically.  I am grateful for my breath.

 

#2 – I am grateful for my children.  I am incredibly lucky to have three beautiful, healthy, loving children who bring great joy to my life.  I am grateful for my children.

 

#3 – I am grateful for my husband.  I am so thankful to have a supportive husband who loves me unconditionally every day.  I am grateful for my husband.

 

#4 – I am grateful for my own wellness warrior, my mother.  My mother spent all of last year fighting lymphoma.  Every day she faced very difficult physical and emotional challenges with incredible strength, optimism and courage.  Through the most difficult circumstances, she was an example of the importance of being present in each moment, taking each day as it came,  one moment at a time, and, sometimes, one breath at a time.  I am grateful for my mother.

#5 – I am grateful for my friends.  I have so many people in my life that love and care about me.  I am truly blessed to have them in life.  I am grateful for my friends.

 

Step 4:

Smile and continue to breathe.  After taking the time to think about a few things you are grateful for, return to your breath.  Try smiling by simply turning the very ends of your mouth upwards, to allow some happiness in.  “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”  (Thich Nhat Hanh)  Focus on your breath, on that feeling of gratitude and on letting go. Take this time for yourself.  Be present, let go and simply breathe this holiday season!

 

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Give Yourself a Time Out!

Give Yourself a Time Out!

by cheryl on April 2, 2012

in Healthy Living

The Time Out is a disciplinary tool used by parents to correct bad behavior.  The idea is to send a child to a particular place so that he can think about his bad behavior, or simply feel the consequences of misbehaving by having to sit still, quietly and alone for a few minutes (or what seems like an eternity for a young child).  Yet, a new way to look at the Time Out, is to give our children the opportunity to have some quiet time, in a peaceful place, to regroup and calm down, rather than separating or isolating the child as a form of punishment.  Linda Lantieri, author of Building Emotional Intelligence, Techniques To Cultivate Inner Strength In Children, encourages parents to create a space where a child can have a “time in,” a peaceful place where the child can take a break from whatever may be upsetting him, where he can foster his own ability to calm down, reduce stress, quiet anger or eliminate frustration.  This ability to find that inner peace and quiet when faced with adversity or challenges is an incredibly important skill for our children to develop, and for us to nurture in ourselves as well.

As adults, I think we all need to give ourselves a Time Out (or a Time In) at least once a day, not as a form of punishment, but rather as a reward.   In a world full of noises and distractions, it is very difficult to find any quiet time during the day.  Most of us start our days in a great rush, hurrying the kids off to school and rushing to work.  And that is just the beginning.  The frantic pace, noises and distractions just keep coming — we have iPods playing, radios buzzing, kids screaming, co-workers gabbing, phones ringing, text messages beeping, e-mails blinking, and televisions blaring.  It is no wonder that with all of this external stimulation our minds are racing and unfocused.  We are so busy trying to digest and decipher all of this noise that we often end up irritable, distracted and stressed out.

I remember when my children were little, my house was a cacophony of little voices needing something, Elmo’s World playing on the television, and at least one child crying.  During those days, the peace and quiet of my tiny clothes closet seemed appealing to me as a secret getaway from the noise.  I would think, “Would anyone even notice if I went inside for a few minutes and shut the door?”  The idea of five minutes of peace and quiet sounded quite nice to me, even if it was in my closet.  Back then, even the stillness of my bathroom was a pleasant break, until the pitter patter of little feet entering the bathroom and at least one child demanding my attention, with complete disregard for my need for a minimal amount of privacy, would inevitably turn what is usually considered a very personal space into a public forum for all to enter.  (Oh the joys of motherhood!)

The challenge then, as it is now, is to find that peaceful and quiet space for even a short time each day to gather our thoughts, center ourselves and feel a sense of calm and OK-ness that we all need.  Taking a personal Time Out could mean a quiet walk outdoors, with no cell phone calls or music playing, and simply noticing how still and quiet the trees are.  Connecting to nature offers us an amazing sense of stillness and calm.  It could also mean turning the radio OFF in the car for a few minutes and simply enjoying the calm of a quiet car ride, rather than driving with the music playing or the distraction of disturbing news stories stealing our attention.  Your Time Out could also be closing your office door for five minutes, and simply shutting your eyes and breathing.  Try it and you will see that this simple act of giving yourself a Time Out can break the chain of noise and distraction that seems to build up throughout the day.  It is also very helpful to take a Time Out in the heat of the moment before hitting send on an angry e-mail or before responding unkindly to someone in a manner you might later regret.  In those instances, a little Time Out can be incredibly useful to pause before acting, to collect your thoughts and to settle your emotions.   It is in the quiet and stillness of our Time Out that we can have the opportunity to regroup and reset ourselves, and quiet our minds so that we can continue on with clarity and a sense of calm.  So, tomorrow, Time Outs for everyone!

 

 

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As parents, how many times have we heard: “I want the new iPod . . .I want the new iTouch . . . I want the new Wii . . .I want the new Xbox . . .?”  Our children are told by the all-powerful television and the all-knowing internet, about the games, devices, toys and new shows that they absolutely must buy or watch in order to make their lives complete.

First, I must confess that I am a huge fan of technology and all things Apple.  Let me also tell you that no one has a more effective marketing strategy than that elegantly simple, plain white silhouette of a fruit.  Yet, there is something inherently disturbing about their underlying message or at least what most of us take away from their marketing strategy.  Can we survive, can we be our very best, can we be happy and complete without the latest and greatest new version of the iWhatever?

Let’s also be honest here, the proverbial apple doesn’t fall from the tree.  It is not just our children who want more, need more and are looking for what will make them truly happy, fulfilled or complete.  As adults, we are continually looking for the next big thing.  What will make us truly happy?

Ah . . .but this is the crux of the problem (and the brilliance of Apple).  We will never find it (happiness, contentment, fulfillment) where they want us to look.  We will continually need to keep looking, keep buying.  Perhaps the marketing team at Apple studied ancient Eastern philosophy?  The human quest for fulfillment has become something like a dog chasing his own tail, always running after that one thing he wants so badly, only to find that the elusive prize is not quite within his reach.

When we look outside ourselves for happiness, we will only identify what we lack.  When we look at what others have, we evaluate ourselves in their light and identify what we don’t have, rather than what we do have.  Deborah Adele said it beautifully in her description of our quest for Contentment:

When we expect the world to meet our needs, we turn outside of ourselves to find sustenance and completion.  We expect our partners to fulfill us, our jobs to meet our needs and success to solve our problems.  And when it doesn’t, we continue to play the “if only” game, looking for that one more thing.  Or we play the “planning” game or the “regretting” game.  We let our contentment be managed by all of these uncontrollable variables.  As long as we think satisfaction comes from an external source, we can never be content.  Looking outside for contentment will always disappoint us and keep contentment one step out of reach. The Yamas and the Niyamas.

So, don’t look to others to make you happy.  Don’t depend upon material things to meet your needs.  That new car, new house, new clothes, new iPhone, will not be the ultimate source of your happiness or the cure-all for whatever it is that you are lacking.  Don’t get me wrong, it is fun to buy things, but try to remember all that you already have.  Everything you need to be happy and complete you already have inside of you.  You just have to reach deep enough and sit quietly enough to find it.

Maybe instead of the iWant Generation, we can teach this lesson to ourselves and to our children, and become the iHave Generation!

 

 

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Due to a wonderful response we are pleased to announce an additional session of:

Real Happiness

 

What if you could be more peaceful with yourself,
those around you and your world? What would that life hold for you?

Join us on a journey to “Real Happiness” as we learn about the work of Sharon Salzberg and other leaders in the field of meditation, and design an action based plan to incorporate mindfulness meditation and lovingkindness more fully into our everyday lives.

What is meditation?

Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind, of focusing our attention, to eliminate the many thoughts that are constantly bombarding us. By clearing those thoughts through meditation, we have the ability to achieve an inner calm and stillness, and the ability to experience a profound sense of ease in our everyday lives.

The emotional, psychological and physical benefits of meditation include improved sleep, stress reduction, increased concentration, and increased ability to manage difficult emotions. Scientific studies also suggest that meditation may reduce high blood pressure, increase the immune system, reduce chronic pain and help the body fight a number of diseases.

Join us for contemplation, meditation, group discussions, and action-based exercises. This course will run for five weeks and will meet for an hour and a half on Tuesday mornings. Course dates are: 2/28, 3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27 (please save 4/3 as a snow make up day)

We will meet at Applause, 114 West Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck, second floor, from 9:30 am to 11:00 am.

The discussions will be facilitated by Joanna Wolff and Cheryl Brause of 2bpresent.

Investment: $195 per person.
A minimum of 8 people are needed to run the course.

Click Here to Register as space is limited

 

 

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two dogs

Peace Despite the Stick

by joanna on December 12, 2011

in Meditation

For those of you new to our blog here is a little information about my home life. I have two amazing dogs. They are both labradoodles….Chip is 3 years old and has a very old soul…He weighs about 70lbs. Taz is a puppy and still is full of all of that frenetic puppy energy and he weighs about 25lbs. Chip loves to lay on the lawn stretched out with his face resting on the grass. Today I took a look out of the window and saw Chip laying peaceful as he usual does all stretched out. This was not an unusual sight for me or anyone who lives near us to see, but what struck me as so odd was that he wasn’t moving despite the fact that Taz had a long stick half resting on his back and half on the grass that he was stepping on and biting. Each time Taz climbed onto Chips back to bite the stick more I expected Chip to turn around and snarl at him. It never happened, Chip was so at peace even while Taz was climbing and jumping on him. It struck me as so powerful that he could be so peaceful with this annoying young puppy jumping and poking him with this stick. As I think about my day ahead and all of the pokes I will invariable experience with “Sticks,” I will summon my inner Chip to carry me through each of these situations.

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