self care

Making Friends With My Thoughts

To Sit with Discomfort

by cheryl on February 5, 2016

in Meditation

When I first tried meditating several years ago, I remember struggling between trying to still my body and my mind.  At first, I found it incredibly difficult and physically uncomfortable to sit still, which was then followed by my many thoughts,  “My knee really hurts . . . My back aches . . . I am feeling restless . . . I am uncomfortable,” which only made my physical discomfort more deeply felt. Other days, I would have no problem physically sitting still,  but my mind was the source of my discomfort, refusing to be still.

Over the years,  I have learned that it is best to “make friends” with my discomfort.  I try not to struggle against whatever is distracting me, or figure it out or beat myself up for having these distractions.   I use them, instead, as an important part of my meditation.  I try to approach my discomfort or distraction with a sense of curiosity and interest, no longer trying to do anything with it.   I simply observe what I am experiencing with a friendly, loving and gentle attention.   I look at my experience, whatever that may be, as an opportunity for self-awareness, rather than an obstacle to it.

It would be nice to report that each time I sit down to meditate I find myself enjoying twenty minutes of sheer bliss.   What I have found, instead, is that each meditation is different.  Somedays I have an ache or a pain, some days my mind is extremely busy, and other days my mind and my body are peaceful and still.   In essence, this is what the practice is all about.  Learning to sit and simply get to know myself, to have some sense of control over where I place my  attention, and when I feel out of control, to simply let it be and watch without becoming overwhelmed by it.

Just like my meditation practice, my days are not all the same, and certainly not always peaceful – – – people can annoy me, my children don’t always listen to me, my house is not always clean, my back sometimes aches, people close to me get sick, and the evening news continues to report great tragedies around the globe.   I find that I can now look at all of these things with a sense of presence, openness and curiosity, just like I practice on my cushion each morning.  Instead of getting swept away by what is happening, overwhelmed by it, or trying to figure it out, I can connect to my own inner stillness and allow myself to feel whatever comes up fully (anger, sadness, frustration and, yes, great joy) and just be with it.  All this from simply sitting on my cushion for a few minutes a day.

On to Week 2!

 

This blog is part of Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness Meditation Challenge.  In the month of February, you can join over 12,000 people around the world who have committed to sit each day and give meditation a try!  You can learn more about the challenge, join in and read what people are saying by clicking  here.

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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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Back to Reality

Back to Reality

by joanna on August 8, 2012

in Meditation

It’s been a glorious summer for us at 2bpresent.  We took time from the normal school year schedule and lived weeks in a very unstructured unscheduled manner.  As we are now in August, we have been struck by the reality of returning to a school and life schedule that is drastically different from the way we have lived for several weeks now.  In pondering this shift that is going to have to take place the following lyrics from En Vogue seemed apropos to share with all of you.

Back to life, back to reality.  Back to the here and now, yeah.  Show me how, decide what you want from me.  Tell me maybe I could be there for you.
However do you want me? However do you need me?  How, however do you want me?  However do you need me?
Back to life,  back to the present time.  Back from a fantasy, yeah. Tell me now, take the initiative. I’ll leave it in your hands until you’re ready…

Summer is a break from the reality of the hectic schedules that we have during the school year.  People asking of us and us pouring ourselves out to those we love and the causes that we support.  We are wanted and needed and needed and wanted 24/7.  By breaking from that for summer we are able to refuel and come back recharged.  The transitions from one to another are not without anxiety for us or for our children.  For our children they have shifted from school schedules to summer (camp or unstructured chill time) and now what they focused on so much is coming to a close and the hectic school schedules that they have are approaching them once again.   Can we incorporate the best of what they love from the summer into their normal school year schedule?  Can we put a little less on all of our plates this year and have more time to just be together as a family?  Will they miss something if they aren’t as busy?  Will we?

September also coincides with a climatic shift as the sweltering warm days start to turn cooler.  We go from shedding clothes to adding layers to stay warn.  As we look toward this transition, can we add mindfulness and meditation into the layers we wrap ourselves in?  Incorporating a mindful practice into the way we interact with those we love the most and those who we just barely touch.  Mindfulness can make those shifts be they seasonal or from summer back to school smoother and easier for ourselves and our families.

If you are interested in learning more about beginning a practice of mindfulness and meditation, please join us as we once again journey to find Real Happiness following the work of Sharon Salzberg and other experts in this field.  Click here for more information on this upcoming course and on our event hosting Sharon Salzberg in our community.

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How to Make that Vacation Last

How to Make that Vacation Last

by cheryl on May 20, 2012

in Meditation

“Vacation, all I ever wanted.  Vacation, had to get away.  Vacation, meant to be spent alone.”  Well, maybe not alone, in fact with 13 other people, but what a vacation it was!  After returning from an amazing vacation a few weeks ago, I can’t seem to get that classic 80’s tune from the Go-Go’s out of my head.  (Yes — I was/am a huge Go-Go’s fan.)  In fact, I can’t seem to get my head back from vacation.

This was no ordinary vacation.  I spent six days living at sea on a sailboat with my family of five.  Along for the adventure were two other families, dear friends, sailing across the beautiful blue Caribbean sea in their own boat, meeting us at remote islands each day to hike, kayak, snorkel, swim and play on the beach.

I realize that this was a very unique vacation, a vacation that is probably not for everyone, and one that was totally my cup of tea (or my cup of rum punch as the case may be).  Each day I enjoyed watching the sun rise and the sun set.  I kayaked each morning over the still, calm water before cooking and eating breakfast with my family.  At breakfast, we talked about the beauty of the crystal blue water around us and imagined all the pirates and explorers who had sailed on these seas before us.  After breakfast, we sailed on to our next destination, thrust forward only by the power of the wind as it caught our sails.

It all sounds heavenly, but it was not all luxury cruising.  During our sailing time, we all pitched in to help hoist the sails, swab the deck, check the lines and clean the galley.  We had limited water onboard, so water conservation in toilets, showers and sinks was a challenge and a necessity. No cell phones, no internet, no cable TV.  Our time was spent reading, talking, swimming, snorkeling, exploring, and simply enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. We were on our own, no captain and no crew, just us.  For me, it was the ultimate exercise in getting away from it all.

Now that I am home and back to a busy life in suburbia, I find myself with the same feeling I have after a wonderful yoga practice and blissful shavasana (for non-yogis, shavasana is done at the end of a yoga class when you lie on your back with your eyes closed, breathing deeply, as you relax the muscles that you just worked and you melt into the ground beneath you).   After shavasana, I often ask myself, how can I keep this deep state of calm, quiet and relaxation going off my yoga mat?  Since returning from my sailing vacation, I have been asking myself, how can I hold on to that blissful, relaxing feeling of my vacation now that I am home and back to my daily routine?

To figure out the answer to this question, I made a list of what it was about the vacation that helped me to feel so connected, relaxed and rested.  I concluded that if I could come up with a list of what made the vacation so fantastic, I would work to incorporate those things into my life at home in an effort to enjoy each day in a more relaxed, less stressful and less exhausting way.  Why not make a little part of each day like a mini-vacation?  Why wait for those few weeks a year to truly unwind and nurture myself?  Short of magically creating the beautiful blue sea, ocean breezes, rum punch on a sandy beach, and a beautiful boat to sail on, here is what I came up with:

(1)  Start the day with some time for peace, quiet and contemplation

(2)  Get exercise everyday – keep that body moving

(3)  Connect with Nature any time you can

(4)  Eat healthy, fresh food and get some rest

(5)  Spend quality time connecting with family and friends

If I could treat myself to these five things each day, would I feel some of that vacation state of mind back home?  I will say that I have tried it and, although it is not quite the Caribbean around here, it has been wonderful to take time each day to indulge in what makes me happy and more peaceful, and to take a mini break in an otherwise hectic day.  Most importantly is the idea that instead of pushing through the unpleasant business of each day and simply dreaming of the next opportunity to take a break from it all, I have tried to truly enjoy each day as it comes by incorporating into each day some of what makes me feel happy and peaceful.  Here are some observations I have made along the way and suggestions for how to incorporate these five things into your life.

First, it is interesting to me that once our lives get busier and more stressful, the first things that we “have no time for” are the things we need most.  The first thing to be cut from our schedules are often the things that I listed above.  Ironically, these things are needed most when we are busy and stressed.   By incorporating them into our lives, we will feel less stressed and better able to cope.   We will also have more energy to tackle our long “to do” lists.  If we include in our days the five things listed above, we can maintain at least some of that calm that we had on vacation and we won’t need to begin the count down to our next vacation the moment we return home from our last getaway.

Start the day off with a few minutes of calm.

On vacation, we have physically removed ourselves from the distractions and aggravations of our everyday lives.  When we are “away from it all,” we are able to focus on truly being present and enjoying every moment of our getaway.  We are able to experience fully where we are and how relaxed we feel both physically and mentally.  When we return home, we find ourselves back in the thick of it, our minds twirling with what we need to do next, no longer able to enjoy being where we are.  With some practice and a little effort, however, we can foster our ability to bring that focused, relaxed feeling into our lives everyday by simply taking the time to recreate that vacation state of mind wherever we are.

Most of us hear our alarms each morning and like a good thoroughbred at the starting gate, the bell sounds and we are off to the races.  We dread getting out of bed because what follows is often unpleasant —  yelling at the kids to get up as we rush through our morning routine, hurrying and scurrying to get everyone out the door.   Tomorrow, try something different.  Set your alarm half an hour earlier and enjoy a few minutes of quiet time before the busyness of the day begins.  Stretch your body while taking a few deep breaths, sit for a few minutes just taking some slow deep breaths in quiet meditation while concentrating only on your breathing, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or tea while taking in the view out the window, or sit outside for a few quiet minutes if the weather is nice.  Notice how good that feels, how peaceful, how vacation-like.   Those wonderful moments of quiet each morning can set you up for a calmer, less stressful and more enjoyable day ahead.  Think of it as a treat for yourself, a little pampering, a chance to center yourself before the busy day begins.   Don’t use that time to go through your “to do” lists, watch the news or check your e-mail.  Instead, use it as a time to really relax and take in the peaceful quiet and stillness of the morning.  You deserve it and the few less minutes of sleep will pay off in a calmer, more peaceful you.

Get your blood pumping and enjoy the outdoors

Too often, we cut out our time to exercise when our day is crammed with meetings, appointments, and a giant “to do” list.   Instead, it is when we are the busiest that we need to carve out some time, whether it is a ten minute walk, a yoga class or a quick jog, to get our blood pumping and the oxygen flowing in our body.  This will increase your energy level and your productivity, which will help you to get all that work done.   Research shows that exercise helps reduce the physical symptoms of stress in the body, which will also help you to feel calmer, better able to focus and be more productive.  One great trick that I often use is to find little ways to get more physical movement into my day, especially when I don’t have time for a full workout.  For example, park your car in a spot far away from the store and take a longer walk to the door (rather than circling a few extra times to find the closest spot).  Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.  Walk or ride your bike to your destination instead of taking a cab, bus, subway or car.

You can use this same strategy as an opportunity to spend some time outside where you can enjoy the fresh air and the nature around you.  Many studies have shown that simply being outside, and enjoying nature can bring great physical and psychological benefits to people.  Try not to be preoccupied by your thoughts — your “to do” list and your schedule.  Rather, take a break from the torrent of thoughts and be fully present in your surroundings.    You may be amazed at how nice that can be and how refreshed you will feel.

Eat Healthy Foods and Get Some Rest

When we are busy, we too often cut out the simple pleasure of eating slowly, joyfully, and healthfully.  We grab what we can on the go, and often that “fast food” is unhealthy food.  In addition, we often reward ourselves when we are stressed with food high in fat and sugar.  Unfortunately, the pleasure we feel from eating these foods doesn’t last long and we soon are left feeling bloated, tired (the crash of the sugar high) and upset with ourselves for eating what we did.  Instead, we need to remember to fuel ourselves with fresh, healthy food that will make us feel good not only for the short time we are eating it, but for the rest of the day.  Eating a healthy and nutritious snack will not only give us the energy that we need to get through the day, but it is something that we can do to nourish our souls by treating ourselves to something that is good for us.  Think of eating healthfully as a way to pamper yourself, to treat yourself with great care by filling your body with what it needs to do all that important work and to feel good while doing it.

In addition to eating well, we need to be sure to get plenty of rest.  When we are on vacation, we often feel like we can sleep for days.  We are simply exhausted from our extremely busy schedules at home.  At home, many of us fall into that caffeine trap of needing that morning and afternoon pick me up to give us the energy to make it through the day.  Often those caffeinated drinks are also loaded with sugar (again a sugar and caffeine high followed by a big crash).   Just be aware that your body is telling you that you need to rest, not drink more caffeine.  A good night sleep can do wonders for your body, mind and spirit!

Connect with Family and Friends

Finally, we need to make time to connect with our families and friends. We need to make a conscious effort to have quality family time when we are home and to connect with those special people in our lives.  This is more important than most, if not all, of the things that we put in the way of that time together.   Most of us have heard about the many studies that show that children who have family meals are much less likely to become involved with drugs and alcohol, have better social skills, better grades, and a closer connection to their family.  Those alone are enough reason to take time out to have a family meal.  But taking the time to connect with your family and friends will have incredibly positive effects on you as well.  It makes you feel loved and connected to those closest to you.

 

After my wonderful sailing adventure, I realized that we don’t have to live for vacation, to count down until the next opportunity we have to treat ourselves well.  We don’t need a vacation to enjoy some quiet time or to create quality time with our family and friends.  We can incorporate a little vacation time into every day and treat ourselves to those simple pleasures that will nourish our minds, our bodies and our spirits.

 

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Loving Lovingkindness

Loving Lovingkindness

by cheryl on April 3, 2012

in Meditation

Lovingkindness meditation (maitri in Sanskrit and metta in Pali) is a very powerful type of meditation in which we focus our attention on ourselves and on others with a sense of interest, caring and compassion.  The traditional practice of lovingkindness meditation is done by repeating to yourself:  May I Be safe, May I Be happy, May I Be Healthy, May I Live with Ease.  You can direct these phrases to yourself, to someone you love, to someone you have difficulty with, to a neutral person or to everyone.

In a world in which there is often a feeling of “us” versus “them” or “me” versus “the world,” this practice can be transformative.  It offers us the ability to open our hearts to ourselves and to feel a greater connection to others.  In our daily lives, we are often more accustomed to being critical of ourselves and judgmental of others.  We take stock of our days by listing all that we did wrong, what we could have done better, what we didn’t get done at all,  and how we let ourselves down.  We tend to look at others through that same lens.  Instead, lovingkindness teaches us to look at all that we did right each day, and to focus on the goodness in others.

One challenging lovingkindness practice is to offer kind thoughts to those in our lives that we find most difficult.  The practice helps us to recognize that everyone deserves to be loved and everyone wants to be happy.    By opening our hearts even to those that cause us pain, we can create a new perspective from which we view those difficult people.  It helps us focus on the good that each person possesses, and focus less on the negative aspects of their behavior.  As Sharon Salzberg explains in her book Real Happiness, “Sending lovingkindness to a difficult person is a process of relaxing the heart and freeing yourself from fear and corrosive resentment – a profound, challenging, and liberating process . . .”

This type of meditation also offers us the opportunity to recognize that we are all part of something much larger than ourselves and that we are all inextricably connected to one another.  By focusing on the good in others and sending love and caring to the world, we begin to see ourselves in others and to see others in ourselves, no longer the “us” versus “them” mindset.  Ultimately, this practice will help us live a more peaceful, loving and compassionate life.

When I first learned lovingkindness meditation, I must admit that I thought the whole idea was a little hokey.  Could I really feel such love for myself, for others and for the world?  I decided to give it a try.   For the past couple of weeks, I have been ending my meditation practice with some lovingkindness meditation.  Also, during the day, when I am waiting (which I do a lot of), I decided to do some lovingkindness meditation.  In the grocery store line, in the carpool line, in the school pick up line, I have decided that I would much prefer to share some lovingindness than some of the other thoughts that often pervade my brain – – annoyance, impatience, judgment, planning, etc.

At first, the practice may seem a bit awkward, but I must admit that I have found it to be transformative.  First, I am much less critical of myself.  Next,  I have found it to be an incredibly positive and powerful parenting perspective to take note of what each child does well each day, rather than focusing on his or her shortcomings.   I have noticed that the way I act and react to others, both familiar faces and total strangers, is with much more kindness and patience.  I have had many meaningful moments, usually with people I would have never taken the time to acknowledge in the past because I was in too much of a hurry, that have meant a lot to me.  A shared smile with the Starbucks barista, a kind wave to the person who helped me back up in the CVS parking lot, and a short conversation with the parking attendant in a New York city parking garage, all seemed to brighten my day a bit.  My hope is that is also brightened theirs.

So try practicing a little lovingkindness.  Instead of looking at all that we did wrong each day, let’s choose to look at all that we did right.  What a rare and beautiful new way to look at ourselves and the world!   So, in the spirit of lovingkindness,

May you be safe, May you be happy, May you be healthy and May you live with ease.

More reading on Lovingkindness

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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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Weekly Wisdom #12

by cheryl on March 19, 2012

in Uncategorized, Weekly Wisdom

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

-Ferris Bueller

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Reset

Reset

by cheryl on February 14, 2012

in Meditation

Yesterday, my computer stopped working.  I was sitting with many different screens open all at one time — writing, researching, and communicating.   Suddenly, the computer screen completely froze.   The mouse wouId not budge and my heart slowly sank.  I began to panic.  Would I lose all of my work? Were all of my documents, pictures and what feels like the archives of my life gone forever?  I was desperate to save it all, and with no other ideas in mind to resolve the problem, I did what I try not to do at all costs – I called the computer help line.  I usually try to steer clear of calling for help because I so often get even more frustrated by the long waiting times before I can actually speak to a human being on the other end of the line, and because I fear that after a long ordeal on the phone they will conclude that they cannot help me.

I decided that I had no other option.  So, I picked up the phone, dialed and was pleasantly surprised to find a very kind and helpful voice on the other end of the line after a not so terribly long wait.  He so gently assured me that he would do his best to help me figure this out.   I thought about how wonderful it was that there was some stranger out there who patiently and happily was willing to help me with my problem.  After going through a myriad of exercises to get my computer out of this frozen mess with no success, the kind gentleman on the other end of the line had one last suggestion.  He asked me to simply unplug my machine and let it rest quietly for a few minutes.  After all that we had tried, and the potentially devastating possibility that my computer was unfixable, was he really serious that the solution could be so simple?  I then remembered a few months back when my cell phone was doing very strange things and I was also told to simply turn the power off for a few minutes – let is rest.  In that case, and I soon found out in this case as well, that five minutes of quiet for my incredibly overloaded and overworked machine did just the trick.  It revved back up after a much needed respite and started up again, good as new.

Just like our laptops, desktops, cell phones, and smartphones, sometimes we just need to reset.  We get overloaded with information, overcome by the demands on our time, confused by the conflicting feelings and emotions running through our brains and overrun by exhaustion and the physical toll that all of this takes on our bodies.  We need to unplug, to reset, to spend a few minutes in quiet and stillness.  Sometimes just focusing on our breath, on how the simple, natural breath feels in our bodies, is just the reset we need to recalibrate.  In doing simple breathing meditations, we find our calm center and peace of mind and body that will help us restart and continue on our path.

It is so important to pay attention to our physical clues as well, which are often less obvious than the complete shut down of a frozen computer screen.  Our bodies have a way of telling us that we need a reset.  Whether it is tension, muscle ache, pain, stomach upset or fatigue, often our bodies are telling us that we are overloaded and that we need a break in our circuitry, a reset.

It amazed me how my computer, which is so complex and has so much power in helping me to create, to communicate and to learn, could benefit from a simple reset.  Just like our bodies and our minds, which are so incredibly complex, and which hold the ultimate power in creativity, learning and love, we all need a little reset once in while to reconnect with ourselves and that inner calmness that we all have inside.  We just need to unplug from the external stimuli for a bit, take a break from the internal chatter of our minds, and reconnect to that calm, peaceful stillness that is deep inside us all.

The man on the other end of the line suggested that I turn my computer off periodically to prevent this overload from happening again.  I am taking his advice.  Great advice for my computer and myself.  So, just turn it all off for a minute or two, or twenty each day.  Avoid the frozen screen and reset.  Simply breathe.   It is amazing what this can do for us all.

 

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