Tag Archives: belief

The Art of Being Present & Making Authentic Connections

 

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29 December 2014

“…..it was a changing period of time that took everything away, turned it around and returned growing like a glorious garden full of color light and magical energy and most importantly possibilities…”

Life as I knew it was over. I looked around and realized this is not what I thought I though I would be doing. This realization was eye-opening. It was the confirmation of my control issues. If I could judge the situation as not what I anticipated, this lead me to believe I was certainly lost in the past (ruminating) and investing in over planning the future (fearful). What does this mean? Simply put not spending enough of time of my time being present. Funny, not haha, but ironically the present is where I want to dwell. I want to be in the moment. I want to enjoy what is happening when it is happening. The benefit to bringing yourself to the present is pleasure. Worrying about the past and anticipation of the future is a waste. Time just passes and it belongs to none of us. It is precious, it marches in, with or without you. Consider this when you are not operating in the present moment. You miss what is happening in real-time, wasting time thinking about what is now the past or anticipating what hasn’t yet occurred, the future. All we have is the present moment. The past, yes it is the past, it does not belong to us. We only have the promise of a future, there is no guarantee. We all have things to look at in hind-site, enabling us to move forward and be more productive and thrive. That is fine.  You are in the moment reviewing your take away from a learning moment. That is prudent and useful.  Obsessing about what has happened is unhealthy and dangerous. You can easily get stuck in the past. This is regret and it will prevent you from growing. What good comes of that? It will hold you back and likely depress you. Obsessing about what may happen is just as destructive to your well-being. The bottom line, the past and the future will rip you off. They both can suck the life out of you. People close to you will tire of your obsession with the past or the future, as it will overtake you, unhealthy and unattractive. It is so sad to be wasting time. Remember the truth, time is precious. You can not buy it you can’t recoup it, it is fleeting. Be mindful and make a commitment to being present. It is like any habit, good habit, it takes time to establish it. You will quickly discover how often you are not present. I think it may surprise you.  The practice coming to the present moment is very similar to taking a breath and coming to center, a calming moment. You can work toward being present more of the time employing the same methods. Pay attention, take the breath and bring yourself to the present moment. We can all benefit from this work. Modern life can be very distracting.  You can decide to set aside these distractions, just decide.  I find I am becoming more present the more time I dedicate to my meditation practice. It calms me down and clears my head.  Meditation creates space. Makes room and helps me use my precious time in ways that benefits my well-being.

Think of someone you know or someone you met who seemed very attractive.  I am not talking about physically beautiful or handsome.  I am talking about their essence.  It is something you can’t put your finger on. It is a combination of elements.  It is their personality, sense of humor, intellect, body language, tone, engagement, and the stories they tell.  Any attractive quality adds to the overall feeling you get from someone. When you experience this feeling from someone your takeaway is positive.  You would love to get this person better. You would love to know their secret.  The next time you come across one of these individuals, evaluate your experience.  What is there to learn?  Well they don’t have a secret, they are simply present.  Being present fosters their ability to employ powerful tools that opens them up to every possibility.  They have the skills to meet and greet people, they open themselves to you, this is an attractive quality. They are engaging, they look you in the eye, they “see” you, their body is supple, their body language says I am open, they may rest their hand on your arm while making a point, they are genuinely interested and they are very good listeners.

The practice of becoming more mindful is just that, the more you think about it the more you will do it.  You will become more and more present.  Everything worth having is worth working on.  Practice, practice, and practice.  The present is an amazing place to be. You will feel energized.  The way people respond to you will be all the evidence you need, you will find it refreshing.

I recall my experiences when I began my focus on being present.  It was during the same period of time where I had begun a meditation practice.  The method was mentioned by a yoga teacher after a class.  When you encounter anyone, your best friend, the gentleman who holds the door open for you at the post office, or the clerk at the market, make a connection.  Here is what I would like you to try. You encounter someone, take a breath, look them in the eye, and quietly say to yourself, Namaste (that is my choice, you may use your own centering word). This may seem awkward at first, but as you practice it you we see that it takes mere seconds and no one even realizes you are doing it.  This simple act will delight you. You will feel people’s energy change as they open up to the possibilities of your time together. It feels genuine, authentic and real, we all crave it. I believe this practice has helped me be more present and has enriched my experiences with others tremendously.  I do this every day. I am not too busy or in too much of a hurry to do this. Try it, you may find it as addictive as I did when I began. You will feel awkward at first, keep trying, you will develop your own style and you will love the results. They are evident. People’s body language changes, they sense a warm engaging feeling, and they open up. What transpires is fantastic, you will see and feel it, it is palatable.  It becomes an exchange of energy, with possibilities that would not have existed had you not engaged on this level.  Imagine enjoying your connections with other much more.  This practice can be the beginning of a collaboration, cooperation, a new friendship, even a romance. Trust me you will love it, please give it a try. This practice always brings me to center, and into the present moment.  Get out of your own way, stay in the present moment and enjoy the experience.

Talk about “you never know”.  I have discovered incredible things about people through this level of engagement. It is a game changer.  You will be astounded by what is revealed, what comes to light and the energy that is created with this connection.  You will be most delighted by what you learn about yourself. Yes, open up, connect while being present and feel yourself grow, fantastic!

“tragedy stays alive by feeling what’s been done to us, while peace comes by living the result” Mark Nepo

I am Surrounded By Light…….

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Christmas 2014…….

We must let go of the life we planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell 

Oh, what a year it has been. It was a new experience. I can say unequivocally that I am not anywhere near where I thought I would be. I have worked for years to be in the present moment. I read Richard Alpert’s book, Be Here Now, published in 1971. It just appealed to me, it made sense. You might say Baba Ram Das was my first self-appointed guru…..Be Here Now…..HA! I am certain I had some clue as to where I would be so many years later. Whoa, not so fast. Life stepped in and had different ideas. Call it fate, call it kismet, call it karma, call it what you may, what it comes down to is you never really know. Sure we make plans and setting goals are healthy pursuits, we have no control over any of it.  I have experienced a broad spectrum of feelings and emotions and my reactions to all that I have experienced this past year.  That statement alone speaks volumes of how far I have come in what seems like forever but in reality just the past six months.  Everything has changed, changed for the better. Ironically, it has been an organic process. Just few months ago, I would have said, “what happened to me the past year” not “what I experienced this past year”. I now say, “experienced”. A blade of fate cut through life and knocked me completely off track. I feel as though I am back on track, just not the old track. Gratefully so…..

I was unaware of how far I had fallen. Recently I wrote a post, Worst Summer of My Life. That was true then, what has changed is my perspective. What is true now is that I am very grateful for each and every one of those difficult days. The events have allowed me to awaken to a new day, every day. I continue to struggle with the physical limitations, yet my mind is open, I have set myself free. There is growth each day. Elements that I have desired have magically manifested. I recognize how totally absurd the control was. It was ridiculous and unimportant. Letting go of imagined control frees up an amazing amount of space and time.

I never have fallen out of love with my husband, but I am falling in love with him all over again. The nature of this beast is a simple matter of perspective. My self-care requires much of my real-time and a great deal of thought. My mindfulness practice has saved my life. Ironically as my  focus shifted to dedication to my wellness and self-care I became more mindful naturally. I did not have the time to micro manage his life. I think it was a brand of love, I wanted the best for him – so I was always at the ready with advice and input. I was my way of loving him. He is still himself, surviving just fine. He hasn’t mentioned it, but I know he feels it. It is a relief. He is the man I fell in love with and he is thriving. Funny true story. I can’t even remember what had happen, but I was gearing up and he sensed it. He turned to me and very calmly said, “Are you planning a fly over?” It took me a moment to comprehend what he had said and we laughed and laughed. We would be lost without our laughter. He had such a sweet way of reminding me I was having control issues. He had accepted this about me and loved me regardless. The nature of my self-care and mindfulness has moved me away from the control I never had to begin with. Gratefully so…….

It is Christmas, we made it.  I had made the decision to take a step back – take the breath – and put my practice first, I needed to give myself permission not to try to be everything to everyone this holiday season, which is my usual holiday routine. I made the decision to set myself up to win.  I will do what I can, be happy about that and celebrate just that. I will focus on the people I love.  It turns out people who you love, who love you are the most understanding bunch. They understand that taking care of myself is more important than whatever holiday it may be. The only person that drives us crazy is ourselves by the stories we tell ourselves……no one has even noticed except for me and life goes on and on and on……

it is a low-key Christmas this year. My daughter and her boyfriend are not traveling, they have work commitments. My husband and I are on our own. We are celebrating quietly, hanging out and feeling grateful to be right where we are. We will get our Christmas present in March. We are returning to Treasure Beach Jamaica with our dear friends we traveled with last year.  The gifts I received were lovely.  I don’t need any “thing” . The gifts do not matter, it is not what this is about. This year for me it is about the gifts I am willing to give myself. The holiday season this year is about gratitude and the promise of all the glorious days ahead. Moving on, forward motion, being mindful, acting with compassion and counting our blessings.

I feel so blessed. I have an amazing, loving daughter. I miss her today, of course, but I am happy she is right where she is today. I celebrate the smart, savvy,  and compassionate woman she has grown to be.  I am proud of her work which she is passionate about. I love that she is in love with her amazing boyfriend. Mostly I feel so fortunate to call her my daughter.

I am blessed with the presence of an amazing man in my life, my husband, John. It took me a long time to find him. I was 46 when our paths crossed, and we married when I was 50, my first marriage, my last marriage…..he is loving, passionate, adoring, and he takes very good care of me. I am proud to say my husband is a good man. A loyal man, a true blue man. I am grateful for the eyes I have today, I see the incredible man who I married. Heart of my heart…….gratefully so…..

I am blessed with incredible siblings. They are unique and loving individuals. They bring their love, laughter and light into my life. I am the oldest, I have learned many things from these smart individuals. I stand in their light. It is a fine bright light. I admire them and I love them. My daughter is the oldest grandchild. I have three nephews and three nieces. They are stars in my sky. I see the future in them, it is where hope lies.  Their light is precious and pure.

My friends are my great joy. They have been my lifeline thought the rough waters of 2014. These friends are like a dream come true. I came home from the hospital this group of women were here for me day in day out. I have had the other experience. You have a hospital stay, you get cards some flowers arrive and you come home, people move on and you are on your own.  Like after the funeral when everyone goes home and it gets very quiet. Not these friends. I spent four months on the second level of my home, cooped up.  They showed up day after day. They brought me food, they made food for my husband, they brought flowers, magazines, books and lotion. They gave me massages, foot rubs, and manicures. They changed my sheets, they fluffed the pillows, they reminded me to keep my foot up and to take my medication. They did my laundry, they vacuumed the house, and they picked up the mail at the post office. We watched movies, we talked, we laughed, we solved the problems of the world and we had lunch.  They listened to me, they helped me shower, they hugged me, we cried. I felt the love. They were there through the darkest days, when I was unaware of how dark they were. They lifted me up and told me to snap out of it. They never left my side. They endlessly helped me on so many levels, in so many ways. They are still here. They worked tirelessly to make my situation easier.  I can’t imagine my healing and recovery process without them. We will never know, they made sure of that. Thank God these women are my friends, they are heaven-sent!  The light these women shine into my life is so bright and infinite….a pleasure and an honor to call these women…..friends…..

I see clearly where I am today and how I got here. Blessings. I imagine it depends on what you choose to take away (the stories we tell ourselves). We have the choice everyday. You swing those legs out of the bed…(“no matter how big and comfortable your bed is, you have to get out of it eventually” Grace Slick) and you say, “this is going to be a good day”.  This is the ‘oh yeah’ moment. I know that some days the cow pies fly in and jam the old fan early in the day.  Regroup, breathe and begin again, anew, work that practice. Each moment is a learning moment. So get going and discover what you have to contribute to yourself and those you love.

Something about Christmas…my mom would ask, “You know why you are ready? Because the day comes” Trust me on this, let it go, call it and enjoy your Christmas evening. Take stock, feel the love and be grateful.

I will say it again, feel the love. The light continues to grow, it is brighter than the light at the end of the tunnel. I am awash in it and I feel loved, comforted, and extremely grateful .

I hope this finds you feeling well and in the best of spirits.  Stand in your own light……………Always dazzle, Karen

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Practice note* I love to stretch out in bed before I get up. The stretching helps to get your circulation going. One of the best remedies for pain or discomfort  – stimulate your circulation which in turn reduces inflammation, which causes your discomfort. Take a few deep breaths and begin. Do your day – breath, center, choose – Do your day – breath, center, choose – repeat, repeat, repeat……..you are bound to get better at it, practice, practice, practice……XO

 

Gratitude as a Practice ~ The Art of Being Thankful

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you’ that would suffice”.  Meister Eckhart

Ah, gratitude.  When I am grateful, everything becomes clear and in focus. My perspective, my outlook and my attitude are all infinitely better when I keep my gratitude in mind. I am unsure when Oprah suggested this so long ago, it was when Marianne Williamson first appeared on her program, and it was suggested we all keep a gratitude book. It appealed to me. I think one of the first things Oprah said she wrote down was that she was thankful for a delicious biscuit. I realized it could be the simplest of things. I began my gratitude book, and kept it religiously for a very long time, just writing a few things down each day. It felt good. Life felt good. I had never framed my life with gratitude. I knew I was on to something. But like any practice, my gratitude book was set aside, I don’t really recall why, but it laid fallow, like the field going to seed. Perhaps things were going so well I felt it somehow unnecessary , oh but it is. I of course got back to it, and of course I fell away from it again, but presently and for some time now I have been religiously making entries. Why not? I have so much that I am grateful for. I highly recommend this practice. Get a little spiral notebook, you know the kind you wrote your homework assignments in, or use a beautiful blank page journal, and better yet for some of you use your “notes” on your smart phone. Do what ever works. Please commit to writing a few thing down each day, make it a daily to do, make it part of your practice. Simple and life changing. I think of my gratitude throughout my day. I also mentally run my gratitude list at the end of my daily shower. I begin to rinse my hair and my gratitude just starts to run though my head. Old gratitude, ones I have written down, and new ones that I have never written down. I hope to remember them when I get to my book that evening. This process in the shower could last so long the water would run ice-cold. Yes, my gratitude outlasting the hot water. I don’t stay for the ice-cold water, I am out of the shower getting ready for my day, energized by those simple thoughts of gratitude. It means I have so much to be grateful for that jumping into my day now is exactly what I want to do. Blessed by that simple offering of gratitude. A compassionate  gesture toward myself, a blessing, if you will. The practice inspires me, and it is of great comfort. You will find yourself, once you have made enough entries flipping back through your days, and this will remind you of the enormity of your gratitude. This is humbling. This is grace. I find myself some days while making our bed seeing my gratitude book on the night table I can’t resist a quick look back to a random page and reminding myself of the grace I receive though this practice. It is simple, a moment to think good thoughts, literally effortless, takes just a few moments, it is free and it will bless you. I promise. Start as soon as you are ready, you will be very glad that you did.

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” Hausa proverb, from Nigeria

I hope this finds you all feeling well and in the best of spirits today.

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I will sit today in the light of my gratitude.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: my photo