Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sukha and Gratitude ... The Gifts You Never Tire Of..

Hello. I would like to take a moment to send another shout-out to Yoga On The Park. My appreciation for yoga is certainly growing and I believe it's the portal to meditating. As I mentioned in a previous post, this past week I was asked to invite the practice of Sukha, happiness, into my daily experience, and I did. Sharing this in class I mentioned this Gratitude blog - and I am writing here just to clarify that the original blog ran for the year 2010. I am excited about sharing it anew... and working at picking it up again - because truly, it changed my life.

Thank you for the opportunity to share.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Uh .. oh ya .. Meditation...

Just for the record, I did in fact complete the 21 Day Meditation Challenge. Well, 19 Day Meditation Challenge. .... and while totally not appropriate - I deem myself a meditation failure. Ya, ya.. I know... but just for now. I promise that I am not giving up. Something has clicked in my head and I deeply believe that its a necessity to incorporate meditation into my life. I'll get there.

In this weeks yoga class - I volunteered to be the person doing the homework - the home work being incorporating a daily practice of Happiness - sukha - into my life. Well.. I know how to do that I thought! How different from incorporating a daily practice of gratitude could it be? Not much different at all.

So for my Happiness Project today - I noticed a beautiful red breasted bird singing away merrily while I was out on the morning walk/run. It is beautiful and not cold today, sunny ... and generally happy making.

Yesterday's sukha was about the yoga practice itself. I felt joyful about my abilities, about how being still in a pose felt so damn rewarding!

So yay me.... lot's of sukha today.  What about you? Just for today, just for right now - what's your sukha about?

Namaste to you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 16 ... a little help from Mother Nature...

Well... so today Dr. Chopra went on about nature and how our connection to it enhances our lives. Interestingly I did this sitting in an adirondack chair, out on the deck, in the beautiful sunshine, listening to the winter melt away. I may have even hit upon the elusive gap once or twice. Maybe. I sure could have sat there like that for more than the 15 minutes the Challenge gives us.

I am deeply grateful for my relationship to Mother Nature. I think growing up a cottage person helped that. I notice trees, birdsong, the colour of the sky... all that today.

Namaste Mother Nature, Namaste.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 14 of 21 Days of Frustration...

So I missed meditating on Friday, caught up yesterday and just did it this morning. I am not feeling at peace, calm, or centered at all. As a matter of fact my experience while I'm trying to learn how to do this is that I have about 30 doors in my head... during the meditation period, I scurry from one to the other, opening each door hoping there will be the quiet - the release from all this thinking that I do... but to no avail. Today in particular, I am feeling like a meditating failure.

I deeply believe though that this is something I need and want in my life. Much like I have incorporated exercise as a permanent thing, I need to learn to meditate. I guess just like exercising was hard to get on top of, to make so much a part of my daily life - and it was a challenge let me tell you - meditating is going to remain challenging. As I write that I really feel like I'm setting myself up for a "bad" or hard experience. There's a part of me that says if I just accept that I have 30 doors to deal with at every meditation, and "accept that" ... then that will be my experience and it won't change. And now I don't feel like I am making much sense.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

21 Day Meditation Challenge - Day 10

I have had a different experience today. While my mind wasn't all together too quiet ... my body however felt rock still, anchored, weighed down, calm, which I am going to say is a good thing. Given there is a mind/body connection - I am hoping that the mind will soon follow suit.

I tell you, it's something in and of itself to observe how my mind wanders off... here I am trying to focus on the sensation of breath, then on to the mantra.... and all of a sudden I have the shopping list in my head, a conversation with a client, the dream I had last night, blog writing, .. and ok, I have learned not to berate myself for that, learned to accept that, let it go, and back to breath... but it always feels like once it has derailed it pretty much stays that way for the rest of the meditation time. Which, no matter how compassionate I decide to be with myself, I find frustrating.

I have a plan though. Once these 21 days are over - I am definitely pursuing more learning on meditation. I know it's good for me. I know I deserve the quiet. Maybe that means to I can stop being attached to an outcome - being able to "achieve" something within this 21 Day period. Hmmm...


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day Nine... Stillness

The title today is misleading ... sort of. I have noticed in the past few days that there is a certain stillness I achieve. It comes in about the last two minutes. I almost use it to judge when the end bell will ring. Thats probably counterproductive.

All this to say - I am still at it. Day 9.


Monday, March 18, 2013

21-Day Meditation Challenge - What's Wrong With Me?

Day 8. I have spent most of the meditation today trying to diagnose myself. Do I have ADD? ADHD? Do I need a vacation? Have I had too much coffee? Is this hormonal? Quiet mind - uh, no.
It went like this: today's mantra was Om Kriyam Namah, meaning, my actions are aligned with cosmic law. So I am sitting in my place of comfort and quietness, breathing, repeating in my head Om Kriyam Namah, Om Kriyam Namah, I think I'll make the squash soup for Passover, do I have enough squash, oh poo, Om Kriyam Namah, oh ya, I need to call her back, Daughter wants me to pick up Pull ups before she gets here, geez I feel so jittery today, Om Kriyam Namah, Om Kriyam Namah, gah, I'm not even breathing properly, I wonder if I will centre before the bell rings, ahhh, Om Kriyam Namah already, I should bring dad his puzzle, are we having leftovers for dinner today, gah I'm doing it again, Om Kriyam Namah.....  and on and on 

for like twenty minutes. So to tell you the truth I sometimes really do wonder if I have ADD. The other thought that occurred to me is that I have no problem being focused and centered with my clients. How is it I can not afford myself that single-minded focus? Why don't I deserve that kind of attention?

Mr. Chopra talked today about creating new pathways in the brain. As an aside - the distraction was so bad I could barely pay attention to when he was talking.

I've decided I need to exercise. So despite the freezing cold - off I go.

To those of you following along with this meditation challenge - I hope you are finding it less frustrating than I am!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Days of Meditation...

So to begin with... I have continued with the Daily Meditation! I just haven't kept up with the posting on the blog about it. I think it's important to shout out my perseverance... lead by example I say :).

So I would like to mention that Friday's meditation had me weeping. It was about how we talk to our body. I will put quotation marks around what Mr. Chopra said - although it might not be word for word ...  "If you could externalize your pain (whatever pain in your body you feel bad about, or whatever part of your body you aren't happy with, or hate, or wish wasn't there) ... and that person (pain) was sitting in front of you ... would you chastise it? Would you reject it? Probably not. Probably, you would reach out and comfort it, nurture it, shower it with love and care to help it get better."

I was really moved by that. Many of us are so conditioned to chastise what we perceive as weakness. If we can't run a marathon, we are not as good as... what ever. If we have aches and pains we complain, get mad at the parts that aren't working. There was a body scan meditation among the past few days. Focus on your feet, thank them for carrying you, for taking you where you need to go. Thank your back for holding you up, for supporting you... indeed! All my poor body ever gets are complaints! (Until now).

How about you? I think its very important to become aware of our inner discourse. I never realized how fully I was not saying nice things to my self!

I am so grateful to have come across this 21 Day Meditation. It is bringing insight into how I talk to myself, it is validating my experience of my intuition, it is making me recognize important connections between what I think, how I feel and what I wish for.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

On Meditation and what we say...

So Day 4 of the Meditation Challenge.

In the spirit of today's meditation, I am going to say it was welcome, wanted, calming, and positive. The theme was how we talk to ourselves and our body, how does our body convey messages to us about what is good and healthy and healing, what messages do we nurture and sustain, which ones do we negate? Actually it was interesting because the conversation today affirms how I work with my clients. Our brains tend to reinforce what we hold true - so if I am depressed, then I will see the world as sad, dark, and threatening. If I am happy I will see possibility, goodness and so on. We do the same with our bodies. If I tell myself I'm tired and achy, chances are pretty good I'm going to feel tired and achy. If I look for what's possible and positive  instead, I feel great if I stretch, it stands to reason I will feel great if I stretch.

Another example is berating myself for not finding that "quiet" space while meditating. I could also say to myself "yay me" for sticking with it and feel good about that.

How we talk to ourselves.... worth meditating about.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Meditation Day 3.... well that sucked.

Well on the good side... I did it. I sat there and listened to Oprah and Deepak wax poetic about meditating, then I breathed, then I said the mantra .. which at this moment of writing I forget but it had to do with my third eye and intuition. Today's whole sermon was on intuition and the body and how they ought to be in sync.

I also had the whole clan chatting away in my head during the WHOLE meditation. And I'm crabby, and feel lousy for some reason, and was stressed about stuff I had to do for my dad this morning, and frustrated with the folks taking care of him, blah blah blah ... that's how it went while I was saying "pun" or "sha" or "piff" or "poof" (I really am in a way!).

But... I persevered...   Even though I had to delay the start of the meditation, I did it anyway.

And as I have been learning ... I am going to notice this monumental crabbiness... and let it go. Just notice it and not stew in it.

After the meditation Honey agreed to go for a walk to the summit with me. Bless him because it sure helped a lot and it was wonderful. Red cardinals, robins, sunshine, just spectacular. I am deeply grateful for the warm air and sunshine today. Tomorrow will be a better day.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

21 Day Meditation: Day 2 ... Already???

Today's mediation was interesting. The mantra was "yum" .. which apparently is a word that opens the heart chakra. One thing I found really helpful, as opposed to other attempts at learning how to meditate, is the voice and music that accompanies this 21 day practice. As a matter of fact, today in particular, the music was so rhythmic as to help me breath in a deep and regular way. That accompanied by the mantra really did work to have the ticker tape parade in my head quiet down ... significantly. So, I have to consider this a success. I realize by stating this I am defeating the purpose of  "noticing and letting be". It's not just the internal chatter we ought notice and let go of - but as I understand it any self praise, self deprecation, anything... just notice and let go.

Tuesdays happen also to be the day I take a yoga class. Interestingly enough - today's mediation in yoga revolved around focusing on the sounds around us. The sounds outside - the traffic, the melting snow dripping, the sounds of the daycare next door; and inside - our teacher was ringing different bells, hitting different bowls to achieve melodic dings and tones and rings.... noticing and letting go is not as easy as it sounds...

I realize I am posting this 21 Day Meditation on my Gratitude blog. So I would like to take advantage to do some gratituding..  walking to yoga today, I smelled the smells of Spring, of rain, of the sodden earth coming to life. The maple trees are already dropping the first of their buds or whatever it is they drop in the Spring. There are tufts of grass peeking through. I am sure birds are around in the winter - but for some reason I hear them now. I hear the snow melting. I feel the warm air on my face and heave a sigh of thank goodness .. its almost done.

Monday, March 11, 2013

21 Day Meditation: Day 1 Struggles

Today marks the first day of the Oprah & Deepak 21 Day Meditation program. I thought I would share my journey with you. I think adding meditation to anyone's repertoire of self-care is a good thing, just like exercise. I am also sharing this because I don't hear too much about how people struggle to get this. You hear about meditating as though you just sit down and do it. I dont think its so easy - at least its not for me. Hence I share. So here goes:

Sometimes attempting to meditate scares the hell out of me. Why? Well, I feel kind of crazy. Finding that quiet, calm place in my head is no small feat. It's as though I have a fractured brain - meaning there are a number of "voices" going on at any given time. While I am sitting there repeating the mantra - today it was Ohm Bhavan Naman ... and repeating that with every out breath.. .there is another voice in my head talking about the dream I had last night, or reminding me about that email I have to send, or listening for other noises in the house, or saying hey don't forget to take the chicken out for supper....

And if you ask me - the closer I might get to the Ohm Bhavan Naman being the only noise in my head the more of a screaming pitch the other voice(s) rise to. See ... this is why I feel kind of crazy when I do this. (I am wondering at this moment about the wisdom of putting this "out there').

Sometimes I wonder if this is what has happened to my brain over the past few years with the amount of techno (smartphone, laptop, email, facebook, blogging, geeking) I do now. I really believe that it changes your brain - that it splinters your attention. It's this splintered thinking that I am looking to "cure" with meditation.

I want to share one thing Mr. Chopra said today that bears repeating ... change your mind and you can change your life. Amen.

I'm looking forward to this.

Namaste to you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gratitude for Abundance .. or something like that...

In my regular morning routine of sitting with my coffee and geeking... I came across the Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation challenge. While it starts on March 11, there is already a meditation available, to give you a sense of how it will go I guess. The theme of the first meditation is on abundance. Reflecting on the abundance that surrounds me is a lot like reflecting on gratitude.  Deepak Chopra, in all his wisdom, expands the notion of abundance from the material to include, well, everything. The abundance we see in nature - in the uncountable grains of sand in an inch of beach, in the equally uncountable stars in the sky, in the beauty that surrounds us in nature, in the depth of our relationships, in the joys of our work... and so on. This is right up my alley.

During this reflection - I looked around my home and for me the feeling of abundance is something that comes up pretty often. While I realize I have worked veyr hard over the last 20 years to build the life I have  - I still wake up and pinch myself, wondering how I got here, how is it I am so fortunate, and feel a deep sense of gratitude for the abundance in my life.

So back to meditating: I am putting out there in the world... much like I succeeded in making exercise a vital part of my life - by following the idea that anything you do for 21 days becomes a habit (still dont remember where I learned that)... I am going to join Oprah and Deepak for the 21 day meditation challenge. I'm excited. I have been wanting to introduce and integrate meditation in to my life for so long now. I struggle with it when I do it on my own... feel I can't sit still, have a thousand thoughts in my head... its hard. Now I have two teachers with me... lets do this!

I'm grateful the universe is providing me with this opportunity. Namaste!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grateful for Gratitude...

I realized over the last few days that I hadn't written - here on the Gratitude Blog, At The Connected Psy blog, haven't added to the Good Things Jar really....  and I thought this is not ok. It's important to stop and recognize whats good, what works, what you might be grateful for .. even when it's work. Know what I mean?

I know I am among a large group when I tell you - I have had enough of winter. I dont recall having felt the winter "blahs" this badly - like ever. But I'm done. And it would be really easy to slip in to a hibernating kind of depressed place and just grin and bear it out. But I can do better than that. I really can. I can look around and be grateful for my work. I love my clients, love the privilege they afford me by sharing their stories, how much I learn about myself every hour I work. Thank you.

I can step back and say wow - things are going really well with my family. That doesn't happen every day, so it's important to recognize it when it does.

I can step out and run or walk, appreciate that while yes, dammit, its snowing again, its also only -1 not -25... I'm plenty grateful for that! It also means I will probably go snow shoeing this weekend where I will get some physical activity as well as be surrounded by nature. I'm feeling better already.

Partaking in the practice of being conscious of gratitude might sometimes feel like work however, I never come away from contemplating gratitude or recognizing the good things, feeling bad. I just never do.  So I'm grateful for my practice, grateful that I choose to hold myself accountable, grateful for gratitude.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Million Miles Away...

About three to four years ago, youngest daughter decided on sort of a whim, to pack her bags and head out West. I personally hated the idea. I thought it rash, not thought through, too far away .... I had a whole list of reasons why she shouldn't go. I also had no power to stop her. And now as I contemplate this I might be grateful I didn't.

I make the trek out to see her and my youngest grandson about twice a year. She makes the trek back home about once a year. Where would we be without Skype? Still, to me this is obviously not enough - but it is what it is. It's bittersweet actually. Through this distance my daughter and I have been able to repair what was a relationship fraught with all manner of insecurity and misunderstanding. We had a tough road of it in the beginning. Now we listen. Now we talk more than I ever would have dreamed possible. Now we count on each other, respect each other, value each other's input into our lives. If anyone would have told me ten years ago that I would have a relationship with her that included speaking almost everyday I would never have believed it. I realize people say absence makes the heart grow fonder - but its about a lot more than that. You need to want to have someone in your life for that to be felt. So all this to say .... I dont know that we would have had the opportunity for our relationship to be so nicely repaired had she not made the choices she has made.  I'm grateful for where we are now as a family.

Through this distance too, I have come to know Canmore quite well, to know these mountains. If you don't know where Canmore is... it's a little piece of heaven about a twenty minutes drive from Banff. The town of Canmore is in a "bowl" of rocky mountains. From where ever it is you are in town... the dog run, your back yard, the park, the recycling plant (seriously) you are surrounded by majesty and wonder. I keep wondering if people here ever get tired of this .. but apparently not.

At the present moment it's my third day here. On day one we woke up early to go for coffee - it was sunrise - which happens a little later here because the sun needs to make it over these mountains. Well for what ever reason, clouds, humidity in the air - I don't know - but three mornings ago we stepped out into a wonder of orange and pink light bouncing off the sky. It was amazing. The sun then hit the peaks of the mountains and turned them orange too. All this against a changing blue sky - from the indigo, to turquoise, to icy blue, all blending in with the grey and white of the mountains. My description does it no justice at all. It was breathtaking. Yesterday - we woke to snow, lots and lots of snow. It snowed all day. We took a three hour walk in that snow. It was delicious. Today day three... we awoke to a clear blue sky - no orange, or pink - just brilliant sunlight waking the mountains up. The pines in the mountains are all covered in snow - I can't describe how magical it all looks.

You'd think I would have the sense to step out with my camera. Ya well, it's tough taking pics when you're a Grandma skating after a puck on the hockey rink!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Calming Down...

I have been taking a yoga class since the beginning of the year, at Yoga On The Park on Sherbrooke. I love it there. It's peaceful. My teacher Joanne is patient and gentle and kind. I come away from the class relaxed, exhausted (because who knew Yoga could be such a workout??) and happy.

I have noticed a shift in myself. It used to be that I would fidget, bounce around, ham it up as it were - yes, even in a yoga class. I remember I once took an African dance class, meant as an exercise. I felt so self-conscious (jiggling around in front of a full length mirror) I actually asked the teacher if he wanted to pair it up with a self-esteem class (physician heal thyself I always say) ... my self-consciousness manifesting in my refusal to calm down and follow instructions, better to be noticed for the clown I can be than the uncomfortable student, ashamed of her body, or lack of dancing finesse .. or who knows what.

Well I'm really happy to report that on this side of 50 all that seems to have disappeared, not that I'm running to the next African dance class - but I am so much more centred and at peace and accepting of myself.  It isn't about what others see or are doing any more. I dont even need to be noticed by the teacher anymore - even though her gentle touch makes me feel special and cared for.  It's about my investment in me. It's about my relationship with my self, my body, my sense of who I am, the space I take up.

A lot of folk complain about aging... but I gotta tell you, the experience of no longer being tethered to a need for approval, or a need to be noticed is incredibly freeing. I'm grateful to be able to experience it. I'm grateful to be conscious enough to notice it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Walking the Talk...

I have been assigning as homework, to a number of my clients, the task of writing a Gratitude journal.

Here's why:

A little over a week ago I found another blog that said reflecting on gratitude daily alleviated depression. Well what are we all waiting for?  Read it here:  Gratitude

I can honestly say that having written for most of a year changed how I see the world, how I see my life, how I see my options. The art of feeling grateful has remained with me. I notice the colour of the sky and appreciate that, I notice flowers, I notice kindness and joy when it spills out in front of me. I LIKE that... I love it as a matter of fact. I believe writing the blog in 2010 did a lot to help me not spiral into a depression. As a matter of fact, I miss writing a gratitude blog.

I have decided to get back on board, to write again. So hang on... here we go.

And to keep it very simple, I am really grateful that I am over my three week cold. It kept me from walking and/or running and that was tough. Exercise is such a salve. I am really proud that I have managed to make it such an integral part of my most every day. I have learned to invest in myself, to believe that the time I put towards my well being is important and well spent. Yay me.