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stress

The Choice to be Mindful

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The Choice to be Mindful

The Choice to be Mindful
Guest post by Tanis-Arlene Taylor

Years ago, if someone asked me if I practice Mindfulness, I would have been completely clueless. What exactly does it mean to be Mindful? When I think of the word I can laugh, because I battle what I like to call a mind FULL of clutter. I am what people call a worry-wart. I seemingly like to create scenarios in my head before they even happen. It is a defense mechanism I developed in childhood, so that I could prepare myself for the worst. I created it to be a habitual behavior that swept through my adulthood, without any tangible evidence that it has done me a positive service. 

The idea of being Mindful was divinely introduced in my life about six years ago. I stumbled across some guided meditations, via the internet, during a time that I was desperately searching for help to escape from the darkness. I followed the sound of the soothing voice in my headphones, with incense burning, and a deep desire to believe that being told to ‘Just Breathe, Focus on my Breath’ would alter my circumstances. My memory is of falling asleep. Sleep, at that time, had become foreign to my body. So, it was welcomed with an open heart. From that moment on, I allowed myself to have an open mind to the practice of meditation and daily mindfulness. 

I have humbly learned a plethora of insight as to what mindfulness is for me, and how I can incorporate it into my daily life. Hardships have been the theme in my life for receiving the wisdom and the insight of what it means to be mindful. And naturally, the lessons have come in doses. However, I am learning that if I am truly being Mindful, the wisdom is ever present, to be accepted, every single day. I only need to be present for it. 

Do you ever find yourself looking down at your phone, without a clue as to what is happening around you? Do you find yourself daydreaming up a wonder and then realize twenty minutes have passed? Do you find yourself zoned into the television, only to realize half of the day is gone? I believe most of us have experienced these things. We are human, and each of us, from birth has individually designed specific coping mechanisms to deal with our individual reality. The question is, What DO you want your reality to be? 

The choice to be Mindful is the first step in not only self-discovery, but in creating the life we desire. How can we create a life full of love, joy, acceptance, forgiveness, serenity, and all the innate human desires, if we are unable to simple just BE in the present moment and just sit with ourselves? Our world today is so full of rush, go, zoom, on to the next (fill in the blank), that it is a wonder anxiety disorders are on the rise. What exactly are we rushing to? How do we know we will be fulfilled at that finish line if we cannot even answer if we are fulfilled in the present moment? Simply BEing opens doors of realizations and acceptance to what our reality TRULY is. And from there, you have to choose to accept or to change your circumstances. For instance, how do you know that you are truly happy? Does the feeling come from an external factor? Or does it come from an inner validation and fulfillment? 

I once heard that none of us will rise above being human here on Earth. That sentence has stuck with me, every single day since hearing it a few months ago. I am sharing this with you now to let you know that no matter where you are in life, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, we are on the same playing field. We all can relate with our human emotions; sadness, fear, joy, anger, etc. To be mindful is to be aware of these emotions, without any judgement. It is the choice to allow the past to be in the past and to know that the future has yet to come. It is fully embracing the present moment. It is knowing you have the choice, in every single moment, to alter your reality. But, you first need to be awake enough to accept the truth of your reality. 

From my personal experience, this all starts with my daily choice to be present with myself and my environment at any given time. It is profound to be in this process of self-discovery, and each day I am learning that I am a capable, compassionate, picky, serious person, yet I want to be constantly open and have humility. I wouldn’t know this otherwise, had I not slowed down enough to find that out. To practice Mindfulness is the most authentic gift you can give to yourself. 

So, you have a choice. 

Do you want to be somewhere in the past; a time that cannot be changed? If so, what is the benefit? What is the con?

Do you want to be in the future; a time that has yet to come, with no guarantee? If so, what is the benefit? What is the con?

Or do you want to be here now? The present moment is the only viable moment of time. The present moment is truly a gift to be valued. The present moment is all you have. Ask yourself, what is the benefit and what is the con of living in the present.

And with that, my last question is…

Now, what are you going to do with those answers?

Tanis-Arlene Taylor
Guest Blogger
New Leaf Meditation Project 

Tanis-Arlene Taylor is pursuing a degree in Natural Science. She has a beautiful Wife and two amazing children. Tanis is daily student of a mindful life. She says, "I haven't always known the light, so I understand your fear, but I am a warrior for my own spirit and my purpose is to spread my light to all of those willing to receive it. We are all needed. We are all worthy. We are all capable. Love is bountiful, infinite, and holds a sacred space for us all. I will assist you to find and BE your own light. Namaste." 

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Busyness

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Busyness

“A cluttered existence may keep us busy, but busyness doesn’t mean that we are fully engaged in what we’re doing. Usually, just the opposite, we feel busy because we are neurotically active at things that don’t matter much in the long run.”   ---- Thomas Moore, Original Self

Friends my age are beginning to think about retirement.

It’s sad to hear many of them remark that they don’t know what they’ll do with themselves without the busyness of corporate life, or that they’ll not retire because they don’t want to have too much time on their hands, or because they don’t want to experience the diminished income (i.e. they want to continue accumulating stuff). Also distressing is hearing from those who have retired from traditional work situations that they are bored. Some are filled with anxiety because of a ‘void’.

Similar feelings might be experienced when life is simplified.

But let me clarify: it’s not a void. It’s discomfort with a stranger. The stranger is you. And this is where you have the choice to become intimately acquainted or you can ignore him/her and just get busy again. I do hope that you'll choose the former and not the latter. I promise you won't be disappointed. The better you get to know that stranger, the more simple your life can become. The simpler your life becomes, the more opportunity to intimately know this stranger. This simplicity and willingness is fertile ground for a lush and deep-rooted spiritual life. It opens the opportunity for realization of how complex, how interesting, how creative you actually (we all) are.

Oh, what a journey! What an adventure! Without leaving your home you will begin to see new vistas, and in familiar friends you'll meet new people.

Don't be afraid of time, space, inactivity.

Creating stillness in the interior and physical space makes possible the visitation of inspiration. It makes possible the emergence of something new, but also allows forgotten passions and desires to surface. Simplifying your life allows the complex individual that you are to surface. You are a vibrant tapestry full of excitement and tranquility, desire and contentment. How many times have you found yourself reminded of something you love but hadn’t thought about or engaged in for some time; a place that you like to go, an activity that you enjoy? Have you ever remarked, “I loved doing that as a boy” or “I haven’t thought about that in years” or "Gee, I miss doing that"?

Most of us have had the experience of the busyness of life crowding out things that we take great pleasure in. We allow those things to fall away giving greater priority to (so-called) responsibility and achievement. When in most cases it’s just busyness that has taken the foreground. Engagement, unlike busyness, occupies your entire being; the physical, the emotional, the mental. It's making love all the time, but in different ways. I prefer living a love-filled life to a busy life, don't you?

So how do we engage with intent and stop the busyness?

If your busyness is primarily at work, take a look at how you can impact the flow. Can you better manage your time? Can you suggest a change of process (that may benefit others as well)? Are you taking on responsibilities that need not be yours? Can you prepare better for repetitive tasks that save you time and keep you better organized? Is your workspace organized in a way that helps rather than hinders you? If not, get rid of what you don't need and create a place for what you do need - and keep those things in their place. This applies to virtual files as well as to physical tools. Is your busyness related to achievement? That is, are you constantly taking on more and more in order to climb the company ladder? Is it possible to get recognition by doing something, maybe even one thing, extremely well rather than trying to do many things (and burning out)? And of course this takes us full circle to the root of wanting to achieve or earn more to get the attention and/or more stuff. This endless cycle is worth thinking deeply about.

If your busyness is at home: Are chores shared? Is the family calendar too packed with planned activities? Are you signed up for too many social obligations? Why? Maybe you don't have to be in on everything. Give one of the picnics or movies a miss. Are you too burdened with responsibilities to others (extended family)? If so adjust the frequency and/or ask for help. Is your home arranged in a manner that is conducive to play and relaxation? Do you know where the things you need are? Do you have too much stuff? If you're in the cluttered and over-stuffed category, try this exercise: For 1 month, keep track of how many times and how long it takes to locate things (like keys, backpacks, the checkbook, dog leashes, etc.) for everyone in the family. You'll be amazed how many hours your family might rack up just trying to find things among the glut.

Busyness puts us out of touch, out of alignment.

We're out of touch with our own real wants and needs. We're out of alignment with our real selves. Speaking from a spiritual perspective, if we're in alignment with what we really are - which is an extension and expression of all that there is or ever will be - what could we possibly need? Very little on this physical plane, I should think. It's said that highly enlightened masters hardly needed even food. Most of us will not reach, nor desire to reach, that state of alignment. And that's okay.

We're all here to experience and express something unique. We're more likely to discover that uniqueness and achieve that expression when the distraction of busyness is removed. Busyness is a barrier to discovery. Remove it. Simplify your daily life and discovery how truly gifted and fascinating you are. Be pleasantly surprised by how often inspiration visits now that you can hear that voice. Our inspiration and creativity  and joy is right here, all the time. We just have been busily buzzing past it and shouting over it. Slow down, let some things go. The world will continue to turn. Engage by choice. Enjoy.

Copyright 2016 Dawn Murphy

Dawn Murphy is the author of "Physical Stuff & Mental Junk: A Minimalist Path to True Abundance." Her work has been been endorsed by Dr. Will Tuttle, author of "The World Peace Diet,"  Phil Borges, Ph.D of Bridges to Understanding, and Dr. Howard Zinn. She’s currently working on her fourth book, "So Vegan Easy" available in 2017. Visit her Blog/Website:veganminimalist.com 

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How to Flow Through the Everyday Stress of Being A Parent

I am going to share an experience that happened to me recently, and gave me a lot of insight into how I am currently dealing with stress. I am pretty excited because I saw a lot of progress in the right direction here, so instead of you only learning from my mistakes (which happens a lot), I actually get to share something I did right. Whoo hoo!

My kids were home from school on vacation, doing exactly what most kids do on lazy mornings free from their routine. They were watching T.V…. no real surprise there!

This happened to be a morning that I had a brand new coaching client coming for her first session. I typically schedule all my clients when my kids are in school, but on days off they are used to getting cozy on my bed, either reading for a few minutes like I suggest before they put the TV on, or bypassing my instructions and simply putting the TV on from the get go. Either way, they are super good sports and I am not complaining. Sometimes a working mom’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

We often have a weird issue with our T.V. remote control that is beyond annoying and no amount of tech guys coming to troubleshoot can fix. So five minutes before my brand new client is scheduled to walk through my door, the television won’t turn off. And for some reason it was on much louder than normal. Blaring is the best adjective I can think of. Why of all days?

In one single moment I felt my body tense and my breath shorten, and I immediately thought, “Nope! Not this time.”

I had learned a cool concept in my business Mastermind recently that taught about three ways people live, and it popped into my head in this moment.

It originally comes from a Bruce Lee movie, so I am not totally sure how it began circulating in the spiritual business circles that I hang out in, but I am lucky it did.

The 3 Ways to Live

You can live in rocks. When you live in rocks everything feels hard and you are totally inflexible.

You can live in taffy. When you live in taffy it is like a giant contest of push and pull filled with tension.

You can live in water. When you live in water you flow. You are able to go around things that stand in your way.

So when faced with the blaring T.V. and a new client on her way, I decided I was going to flow like water. After all, this woman was a fellow mom, and she had toddlers to boot, so I knew it probably wasn’t the first time she would take part in an improvised plan.

My new plan was to have our session outside in my backyard. It was a beautiful day, and I have a pretty nice back yard, so I felt great about my plan B. My body was relaxed, my breath was normal and I was really proud that I didn’t freak out. I really liked this water thing!

Just in that moment, when I was in the flow and stress-free, my kids tried the remote one more time, and it worked. I am convinced that it only worked because I figured out a way not to stress! I wrote something one time that fits perfectly with this story,

“Some days are a total sh*t show, just so you can see how far you have come.”

This morning had all the makings of a sh*t show, but I was able to breathe, stay calm, and flow like water around the stress of it.

Next time life throws you a curveball, decide if you are in rocks, taffy, or water. You have a choice, and I bet you are pretty good at building a boat when you really need one.

Ali Katz is a meditation teacher, self-care and mindful parenting coach, and author of the best selling book "Hot Mess to Mindful Mom: 40 Ways to Find Balance, Joy and Happiness in Your Every Day." You can learn more about Ali at hotmesstomindfulmom.com.

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