Spiritual Practice – C

24 Apr

C- COMPASSION & CONNECTIONS

516839_11257_506667COMPASSION

LovingKindness mediation  ~  tonglen   ~  empathy  ~  visiting the sick  ~  service to the poor and suffering

Compassion is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” We show compassion from a very early age. Children will try to comfort others as soon as they are capable of comprehending and interacting in the world. A toddler will bring a blanket, toy, pacifier, or bottle to a person who is sad or crying. We innately connect and feel compassion for our fellow earth dwellers. We learn to suppress these feelings as we grow. Compassion is an integral part of happiness and contentedness in humans.

There are many options of find service in your community.
Here are short videos which explain and guide through a brief LovingKindness mediation or Tonglen mediation.
People of different professions around the world

CONNECTIONS

Honoring ancestors & the communion of saints  ~  home shrines  ~  kinship with animals  ~  dedication to all beings and future generations

Humans are social beings and need others. We need other people, animals and plants together. We are all connected and impact each other’s lives.
Honoring ancestors and home shrines can be as simple as having photos of your family and keeping family and cultural traditions. While we remember and honor our past and heritage, we need to honor the future generations also. By being accountable for our impact on the environment, communities and legacy and raising children and neighborhoods well.
How can you impact the future today? 

Spiritual Practice – B

16 Mar

B – BEAUTY & BEING PRESENT

ikebanaBEAUTY

Living Simply  ~  Clearing Clutter  ~  Nature walks  ~  Ikebana  ~  Tea Ceremony

Beauty includes the everyday beauty and appreciating what you have right here and now. The Simple things that create and generate gratitude.

 

These suggested practices, and your own personal rituals, which give you peace and calm to appreciate things in the everyday; To see the beauty in the mundane.

I love to look at the details. I enjoy every sunset and sunrise when I see the glorious colors that nature can create. I point out to my children the beautiful details in nature or man, watching new leaves roll out, the autumn colors, cloud shapes, stars, cool rocks, spiderwebs, birds and bugs. These are in nature. Though, all things can be beautiful in their own way. The love between a couple or mother and child. Find the beauty in your day.

 BEING PRESENT83000386c7fa9a9b86dc5a881bcbee05

Living in the present moment ~ haiku ~ free intuitive writing ~ gardening

Living in the moment can be difficult if you have anxiety or depression. I have heard “Anxiety is always living in the future. Depression is always living in the past.” It can make living in the moment, practicing mindfulness, very difficult.

Mindfulness takes practice. You can not do it all the time, but most of the day. You still have to plan. You can find peace in the moment. Mediation, free writing, gardening, walking, etc can be very good ways to stay in the moment and appreciate today. These are only about the now.

Spiritual Practices

15 Feb

I found an amazing article called The Alphabet of Spiritual Practices by Fredric and Mary Ann Brussat in Spirituality & Health (Nov/Dec 2006). It outlines a spiritual practice for every letter in which we can connect with ourselves and our community to enrich our lives and well being. I am using this article as a basis for several following posts.

actus_14_1.pngThe first is

ATTENTION

Meditation ~ mindfulness ~ mantras ~ concentration exercises ~ descriptive writing ~ contemplative art ~ self witnessing

The many ways we pay attention, to ourselves and our world, really contributes to our reality. Our reality creates our emotional, physical and psychological space. Paying attention is not necessarily changing anything. It is more about seeing what is. Any of these practices puts your mind at rest, not thinking of anything in particular. It is okay to let it wander, see where it goes, then let the thought go. Keep it moving or at least moving toward calm. The point of paying attention is to be aware.

This is an excellent first step for any type of progress or even contemplation to change in ourselves. We need to know where we start before we begin any journey.

Mandalas are good for contemplative art (or coloring). They are repetitive patterns that can be soothing. You can find many books on these, they are popular right now. You can also find free print outs. I picked a couple that are simple to start with.

Easy mandala

I found many to choose from that are free to download here on Pinterest.

Body satisfaction

22 Feb

Being ok with your body is hard business. Our culture seems to identify the nature of the body as aesthetic. Our value, worth and overall acceptance is heavily reliant on what our body looks like. Though, our bodies are not meant to be wholly valued on it’s appearance. Bodies do lots of things! They carry our brains around, which are the majority of who we are, our thinking and personality. They make us capable of doing things, going places, caring for others. What we look like can not change all the things your body is capable of. Body satisfaction is not what you look like, it is feeling satisfied with the way your body is overall.

I have read a few articles recently about body satisfaction. One was on Ravishly.com about a woman who said she was happier “fat.” Which she means is her focus was on her family and her interests rather than her appearance. Her main point was thin does not equal happy. Happy = happy regardless of your size. http://www.ravishly.com/2015/02/10/being-thin-didnt-make-me-happy-being-fat-does

Another was in the Counseling Today (January 2015) about body satisfaction in professional women. Having a healthy perception of your body, it’s capabilities, it’s purpose and relation to your own needs and desires leads to an overall psychological, emotional and physical healthy self. The summary of the article was that women with body satisfaction tend to see their bodies are capable not merely attractive. Their body is more important than societal ideal because that ideal was improbable. They did not feel like they had to fit into an altered and impossible idea of beauty. Their bodies were also less important than societal standards in that they do not judge themselves and their bodies merely on the size or shape of it. Being “attractive” was not their primary value. They also could attribute some spirituality to their body acceptance in that they were “given” a certain body in which to live. They expected themselves to accept their body as it was, not fight against nature or how they were made.

Many women have some sort of body dissatisfaction at some point in their lives.  Every women’s magazine has an article on low calorie recipes or burn fat exercise or how to look more attractive. Women are bombarded with the “evidence” of our societal beauty. We are not just how our bodies look. We are whole beings. Our bodies are vessels for us, thinking, feeling, caring, doing people. Our bodies are important in more ways than how they appear.

  • How you think about your body?
  • What does it do for you?
  • How important is how you look compared to the performance of your body?
  • What do you do to take care of your body?
  • How does your body care for you?

Gratitude

16 Nov

I have written quite a bit about gratitude. It is one of the main characteristics of happy people! What is so important about being grateful and thankful?

Sometimes, we think of things we don’t have rather than the blessings and gifts we do have. That can cause us to feel insecure, sad, anxious, discontented, jealous, and lacking. Our society advertises to the part of us that is insecure. We need a certain car, make-up, shoe, vitamin, exercise machine, etc to be who we should be, ought to be, to be more. Well, that kind of scrutiny should come from within. Those people who want to sell us some stuff, even magazines about how to be better at… everything, don’t know you. They just know people and how to hit insecurity buttons.

You know you, what you need, want and “should” be. Gratitude is about recognizing what you are starting with, what your power and tools are to move forward. I work with many people who feel worthless and hopeless with no future. They have tremendous difficulty seeing what they are blessed with, even the small things. One of the tricks with gratitude is to not belittle or demean the blessings. No, “yeah, but,” “so what,” “who cares,” “not really” or any other follow up comment that may totally erase the good thing. It’s still there!

A grateful heart will open you up to new wonderful feelings, ways of seeing the world and relationships. How do you get a grateful heart? How do you find the silver lining? Start with saying Thank You, for anything, and really meaning it.

TRY THIS

Gratitude journal: Get a notebook. Everyday, yes, every single one, write down 3 things you are grateful for. They should be different things that you have to think about. Write down why you are grateful for those things. Do this for at least one month. You can continue as long as you would like or just when you need a pick-me-up.

Thank you notes: Write a heart felt thank you note to one person in your life. I would suggest one a day, everyday for 2 weeks or once a week for a year! You can email it, mail it, message it, put it in their lunch box. Make sure they get it, even if it’s on their gravestone.

Practice Gratitude and being Thankful.

Life Rocks

21 Aug

I, like many others who work in the therapeutic world, liken life to a journey. The “experience” of life can teach you many things and take you many places. You have opportunities to make major decisions which would change your path. One particular analogy I work with is what happens while strolling on your particular path in life.

Often while we walk, in the life analogy and in reality, we encounter obstacles, small and large. Many are small pebbles, daily decisions, which can be easily tread past. Sometimes the life decisions are larger, likes stones or even boulders. When we encounter a stone, we must decide how we will navigate it. Do we toss it aside or behind us, try to work around or over it, which many require some effort. The stones require some mental effort. Generally if you ignore such a stone and skirt it, you may find yourself facing the same stone later in life.  So, stones, boulders, and rocks of various size will fall into your path. You will be required to ponder them and how to manage them in your way.

Many people do not know how to manage such stones, especially younger in life, and just pick them up to move on with life. These stones stay with you. You put them in a kind of “back pack,” I call it. It represents the things that you choose not to see in your past. If you just keep putting stones in there, it gets heavy, really heavy, the longer you carry it around. At some time you will have to take off the pack and go through those stones. Some might go right back in there (Nope, can’t face that now). Others, like resentment about a childhood wrong, an angry parent, bad breakup in high school, divorce, rape, abuse… They need to be addressed. Those stones get heavier with time, especially when you are trying to pretend they are not there. They impact you, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

TRY THIS:

Write a time line. This is a list of events in your life starting from birth. They should be anything big that has happened to you, good or bad. Moving, birth of sibling, parent divorce/death, new school, abuse by neighbor, graduate, married, first full time job, house fire. Get it? Write it all down, as close to chronological order as you can. Now, go back and read it, maybe the next day after you had some time to reflect.

Did you miss anything? Are you intentionally leaving events out? What things cause an emotional response (anger, sadness, irritation)? Maybe some of those things are your rocks. Now, what do you do with that stone?

Here’s are some other posts that would relate to the reflection of your stone collection:  Self talk can be a key to your belief about yourself,  past trauma and how it impacts you, and the basic of only knowing what you know.

Pride and contentment

12 Jul

One of the hardest things to do is be proud of where you are TODAY while making goals for the future. One should always have a direction to go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the road trip too.

I think it can be a trick of your own mind to be satisfied and content with your current state while making goals for the future. I can most liken it to school. You must take several classes in order to earn credit for the degree. You focus on the present classes, even the current assignment, while you are earning credits for the degree. You can be content, focused on the present, while making your way to your main goal. The trick is to not get bogged down in the work it takes to get there, be frustrated and upset about where you are at the moment.

Life can be this way too! Being grateful for what you have and where you are, while making forward progress goals for life. This concept incorporates some main ideas I have already discussed

Each of these ideas are what it takes to feel contentment about yourself and life while balancing future goals. Having goals keeps you moving in a positive direction, thwarts boredom and depression, though can cause anxiety if not balanced.

TRY THIS

In my family, and what I suggest to clients, is to create biannual goals. On or near New Year’s, since that is the “time” to make new goals, create a list of goals for yourself and family. You should include at least one goal for each area of your life. It can be as simple as “drink more water,” “meditate/pray daily,” or “family walks.” They should be simple, measurable and doable. A goal is something to reach for. Review these again in 6 months (4th of July) and see how you are doing. Have you accomplished it? Does it need to be revised? Make it work for you. I suggest also writing what you have accomplished, even if it wasn’t on the list, during that time. It counts! Be grateful for what you have done and examine what might be improved.

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