Right Action

Finding the Light in the Midst of Darkness

Finding the Light in the Midst of Darkness

by cheryl on January 3, 2013

in Meditation

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, we entered this holiday season with a heaviness in our hearts.  We struggle to comprehend the incomprehensible and to fill a deep hole in our hearts that seems impossible to fill when thinking of the 26 innocent souls that we lost on December 14, 2012.  Yet, we can emerge from this horrific moment in our history by focusing on the incredible acts of human kindness that we have seen following that terrible day.

We are now aware of the amazing acts of courage and selflessness of the teachers and staff who risked their own lives to save the lives of innocent children.  We have heard numerous accounts of first responders who acted with bravery and compassion in dealing with the horrific scene they found at the elementary school that day.   We have seen images of  people from around the country and the world, people from different backgrounds, with different religious affiliations and different political views, offering their support, sending gifts and sharing their love in any way they can during this time of national mourning.  Through these countless acts of kindness, we can feel a renewed sense of hope, inspiration and faith in the incredible strength of our basic human goodness.  This is the good in all of us that we must recognize and foster that can help us overcome our sadness, anger and grief.

 

When we see the heartbreaking images of those beautiful young children who were killed that day, we see in their smiling faces such joy, innocence and life.  This reminds us all to notice those amazing qualities in our own children, in ourselves and in the people around us.  We have heard the mourning parents speak about how blessed they feel to have had their beautiful children in their lives, even if only for a short time.   Their words remind us all how important it is to stop and take a pause in our busy days to notice the richness of our own lives and the beauty of all that surounds us, and not wait until it is gone to fully appreciate all that we had.  We are reminded to tell those we love how much we love them, to give our children an extra hug and kiss and to take the time each day to be fully present in our lives.   We are reminded that life is too precious to be lived unaware of its beauty each day.

 

So, in response to the tragedy in Newtown, we can find hope and inspiration to move forward toward a better future for ourselves and for our children.   We can take away so much from this tragedy that will help us to rise up, be strong, come together and foster the love and compassion that we all have an endless capactiy to give, which is the perfect tribute to those beautiful souls we lost in Newtown.

{ 0 comments }

Teachable Moments in the Eye of the Storm

Teachable Moments in the Eye of the Storm

by cheryl on November 13, 2012

in 2mindfulmoms

Hurricane Sandy was a massive storm that caused great devastation and loss of life along the Northeastern United States.  My prayers go out to all of those who lost so much in the storm.  Having lived through it with my children, and having been incredibly fortunate not to have been severely impacted by its wrath, I now have the opportunity to reflect on the many teachable moments Sandy has provided me and my children.  Here are a few of the things that we were reminded of this past week in the aftermath of a superstorm.

Lesson Number One: Less is More

In the hours before the storm hit, my family and I rushed to remove all the items from our basement to protect them from being destroyed by the expected ten to fifteen foot tidal surge that would soon sweep through our community.  Living only minutes from the Long Island Sound, and having a tidal estuary in our backyard, we had good reason to fear that our property might be inundated by the salty waters that Sandy would send our way.

As my family raced to bring all of our belongings from our basement up the stairs to areas we hoped would be spared, I took a moment to evaluate the situation.  What was all this “stuff” that we were moving around?  If the waves rolled in and completely ruined all of these items, would my life be greatly impacted?  I realized then, that none of this “stuff” really mattered.  All that really mattered was the safety of the people helping to move all that stuff upstairs.  As long as they were safe, the rest was all either replaceable or simply unnecessary.  So the first teachable moment for me was the opportunity to take a good look at all the things that we have, to recognize how unimportant most of those things really are, and to focus on what really matters.

We spend so much of our time, working so hard to accumulate things – new clothes, a new car, new furniture, new toys, a bigger house.  Do those things really improve our quality of life?  Is all of that stuff really so important?  Is it important enough to justify  the amount of time we spend trying to get more of it?   Perhaps constantly adding to our  “stuff” diminishes the value of each item and teaches our children the wrong message, that each item is only valuable and useful until we are able to find its newer, and more exciting replacement.

As I was hauling all this “stuff” up the stairs, I  was struck with the realization that if everything were to get flooded in that space, it is not the items that I would miss most.  It is the space itself that provided us the opportunity  to have fun, to learn, to be together and to create great memories, that is what we do in our homes (no matter how big or small, full or empty),  and those experiences cannot be destroyed even by a superstorm.

The tidal surge came and went and the flood waters filled our street.  We returned to our home the next day to assess the damage.   As we approached the lowest elevation point on our street, we had to walk knee deep through the cold salty water to get to our home.  The water was slowly receding, and as we approached our home, we realized that we were incredibly lucky.   The water had reached our garage but did not find its way into our home.  Many of our neighbors were not as lucky.

As I looked at the piles of “stuff” now upstairs untouched by the flood, I decided to pack much of it up, along with many other items from around the house, and put everything in boxes to donate.  Perhaps someone else, someone who lost so much in the storm, or others who had so little before the storm would be happy to have some.

Lesson Number Two: We are all in this together.

After realizing the great devastation and loss that many are experiencing after the storm,  people are mobilizing in great numbers to help those in need.  This sense of connection, kindness and compassion was also palpable in the days and hours before and during the storm.   There seemed to be a feeling in the air that we were all in this together, whatever may come.

This strong sense of interconnection was in stark contrast to how we live our normal, busy everyday lives.  Usually, we are so focused on meeting our own needs and the needs of our families, that we forget how wonderful it is to connect to those around us.  This incredible weather event connected so many people in so many ways.  It was not just the opportunity to donate to the hurricane relief efforts after the storm, it was also the numerous phone calls from friends and family in other parts of the country reaching out to check in to see if we were safe.  It was the caring conversations with total strangers in the grocery line in the hours before the storm, reassuring one another that it would be OK and making suggestions on what we might need in the days to come.  It was the endless e-mails from friends and neighbors asking who lost power, who needed a warm place to stay, who needed food, and following up with offers to help.

This was such a wonderful reminder that we all face challenges in our lives and we can get through those challenges with greater ease if we show kindness and compassion to one another.  Although we live in a western world in which we are often focused on “me” and “mine,” it was so nice to see that in times of great need, people were focused on “you” and “yours” or on “us.”  We saw first hand how much richer life is when everyone cares a bit more for one another.

Lesson Number Three – If Given the Choice to Laugh or to Cry, Choose to Laugh!

The night of the storm, we decided to leave our house out of concern for our safety and spend the night in a home nearby with 25 friends and family members.  In the midst of the storm we gathered.  We played cards, listened to the news and laughed a bit at the situation we were in.  At the time, I was fascinated by the storm and the potentially devastating impact that it would have on people’s lives.  So, the laughter that night at first seemed a bit inappropriate.  However, I soon realized that there was nothing any of us could do at the time, other than what we were doing.  We had a choice.  We could tremble with fear and worry in anticipation of what might be, or we could chose to sit tight, recognize that we were safe and make the best of our current situation.  This is so often our choice in life when circumstances arise that are beyond our control.  When given the choice to laugh or to cry when life gets challenging, always chose to laugh, and that is what we did.

There were many opportunities to make the best of a bad situation in the days that followed.  When we returned home, large hundred-year-old trees had fallen in our yard.  We were in awe of their grandeur and of the massive root systems that towered over us as they lay sadly on their sides, permanently uprooted.  As children so often do, my children saw the fun and found the joy in this new situation and decided to climb up on the now horizontal trunks and delighted in the giant bridges the trees now made across our yard.  They played in the enormous holes in the ground left behind by the now uprooted giants.  They splashed through the waters that flooded our streets and explored their new surroundings with awe and with laughter.

We saw first hand, on television, in the news and in our own community, the devastation that this storm brought to so many people’s lives, but in the midst of those struggles that often cause tears, it was so wonderful to be able to laugh a bit at the absurdity of it all and find great joy in the fact that we are here, that we all came together to face the storm, and that we are incredibly grateful for all that we have, most of which a storm could never take away.

 

 

{ 1 comment }

Your Greatest Legacy

Your Greatest Legacy

by cheryl on February 20, 2012

in 2mindfulmoms, Uncategorized

If you want your children to succeed,

show them how to fail.

If you want them to be happy,

show them how to be sad.

If you want them to be healthy,

show them how to be sick.

If you want them to have much,

show them how to enjoy little.

Parents who hide failure, deny loss,

and berate themselves for weakness,

have nothing to teach their children.

But parents who reveal themselves,

in all of their humanness,

become heroes.

For children look to these parents

and learn to love themselves.

 

Parenting need not be a burden,

and one more thing you have to do

and don’t do well enough.

Instead consider your failures,

your sorrows,

your illnesses,

and your difficulties

as your primary teaching opportunities.

 

The Parent’s Tao Te Ching

 

{ 0 comments }

Description:

Practical Applications of the Yoga Sutras – A course for experienced meditators (for graduates of Foundations of Meditation or other relevant course work).

Course Description:

In this course we will explore the Yoga Sutras – the most comprehensive exposition of the ancient philosophy of yoga.  How we can use this ancient text to influence our modern lives?   We will explore what the Sutra’s say about attachment and aversion, discuss the 8 Limbs of Yoga, discuss the Yama and Niyama’s, and  the concept of Samadhi and dharma. Each class will have a lecture and a twenty minute meditation.

For more information and to register for this course, click here.

 

{ 0 comments }

Weekly Wisdom #5

by cheryl on January 11, 2012

in Weekly Wisdom

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

– Steve Jobs

{ 0 comments }

So here we are back in January. Our intentions are pure, our determination is strong and our resolutions need to be REALISTIC. What is it that we want out of 2012 and how can we establish a plan that will insure our success rather than set us up once again for failure? We all enter January with resolve and clear intentions of what we want to achieve, but do we design a plan that supports those ideas? Are those ideas realistic given our starting point? Just last week I celebrated my birthday with a day trip to Kripalu with Cheryl. We spent that day learning, meditating and doing Vigorous Kripalu yoga. Days later my abs are still sore and my mind is still thinking about what we learned. One of our seminars focused on how to keep the Kripalu feeling in our everyday lives. It’s easy to feel terrific and eat well when you are on a retreat, but how do we come up with a plan to do this when we are back “in the real world.” We discussed the Sanskrit word Sankalpa which is our “will, purpose or determination.” When you make a sankalpa you set an intention with a yogic twist. As opposed to a resolution, a sankalpa involves consciously understanding what’s behind something rather than focusing on the negative aspects of something (like losing 10 pounds, not yelling at the kids, etc.). Sankalpa focuses on your “being” rather on your “doing” and the greater personal meaning behind what you are working towards. What is it that you really want in the core of your being? So rather than setting a resolution this year, let’s design a Sankalpa that involves “Right Action”. Let’s make a plan that is SMART, (specific, measurable, accountable, realistic and timbebound). Let’s revisit it in a week, assess it, tweak it, and recommit to it. Let’s be realistic that relapses will happen. I may have already had one relapse (day 2 ugh) …when I heard myself shouting at my overtired child tonight. It should all be a fluid plan that can be changed and involve treating yourself with compassion. There is no failure. As long as there is intention the Prana (energy) will follow. Here is a quote to keep in mind while you are working on your Sankalpa and your SMART plan. “Whether you’ve broken the vow 100 times come back the door is always open.”-Rumi

{ 1 comment }