Go ahead…feel the thrill

“Those swings are for kids, not grown-ups.”

“Who says?”

“What will people think if they see a mature woman on them?”

“Do you really think someone is going to arrest me?”

And so the dialogue went between my inner critic and the lure of a childhood thrill when seeing a swing set in a new neighborhood last Sunday afternoon.  Quickly, it reminded me of this photo (appearing in my last post) and my carefree, youthful feelings of riding as high as I could on the swings.

Looking around to see if any neighbors were out — no one was, I walked up the hill toward the swings, paying attention for any signs indicating “adults not allowed.”  The trodden, bare ground under each of the six swings stared up at me.  Oh, yes, I remember now — stomping down the grass, pounding to push-off and ride higher and higher.

I sat down.  Good, the swings can hold me.  (I’m not overweight, but I’m not a slight child either.)  I began to push-off.  Again and again.  Higher and higher.  Soon my hair blew freely behind me, like the woman in the photo, cooling the perspiration off the back of my neck from a hearty walk through this new neighborhood.  Gosh this felt good.  Exhilarating, like when I was a kid.

As previously mentioned (Busy Body Meditations), I do better with movement meditation than attempting to force myself to sit still.  Swinging on those swings was an in-the-moment, mindfulness meditation for me, unleashing pure light-heartedness.

Is there an activity you loved as a child but seems long forgotten?  Have you given yourself permission to feel the thrill once more?  Go ahead, tickle yourself with that sense of delight and see how much lighter you’ll feel.

 

Meditation Protection…

Every now and then my passion for gardening and appreciating nature is punctuated by technology’s increasing thirst to control our lives. To me, these cold and calculating ways are the antithesis to nature’s infinite beauty and serenity. That is why this topic pops up on my blog now and then (no pun intended).

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

I bumped into an old friend recently who said her eldest child is retired (at age 35). After making and investing his millions as a technological entrepreneur, he and his wife now live in an Airstream, traveling cross-country to hike and explore nature’s magnificence. “He meditates quite a bit,” she added.

This gave me hope that those so addicted to devices will realize the hours they’ve wasted not living real life, or freedoms they’ve willingly discarded by allowing technology to think for them.

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Photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash

My concerns about the ethical crises in technology were confirmed by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris who explained how people, corporations and governments are using technology to hack human beings. (Harris previously studied the ethics of human persuasion at Google.)

In their When Tech Knows You Better than You Know Yourself interview, these philosophers raised the question:  “Whose best interests should technology be serving — individuals or corporations?  Should apps be as successful (and profitable) as possible which equates to addiction, loneliness, alienation, social comparison…”

“There’s a reason why solitary confinement is the worst punishment we give human beings. And we have technology that’s basically maximizing isolation because it needs to maximize the time we stay on the screen,” Harris said.

Think about that. Really let it sink in. So many have imprisoned themselves with technology. Remember, a prior post on my friend whose brother is addicted to gaming and barely leaves his room anymore?

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Hearing that some children would rather do chores or homework than play outside baffled me. Was it a fear of Lyme Disease,  Zika Virus, or the extreme humidity of global warming? I didn’t want to go outside either in the humidity this summer but didn’t stay tied to a device either.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Instead, I discuss the Tao and hand drum with friends, attend Tai Chi classes, concerts, live theatre and art exhibits.  At home I’m nurturing flower and veggie gardens while playing with my beloved border collie or practicing Qigong. Experimenting in the kitchen and reading a great library book enhance my time. Yes, I love those page turners (literally and otherwise)!

I was thrilled to find Blogtasticfood.com where Nick’s mission is to “post super awesome recipes and get peoples butts in the kitchen.” I love it. Real cooking feels (and tastes) wholesome and nourishing to me. I’d much prefer devoting my time to creating a delicious meal than being consumed by social media, texting or the internet (while eating packaged preservative-laden processed foods). Tactile, personal connections mean more to me than an addictive device.

Frankly, I don’t want Amazon to know right before my light bulbs burn out (so they can sell me more). And I don’t want them to deliver groceries to my door so that I can isolate, and not get any fresh air, exercise, or interaction with my external environment.  “Don’t use it, you lose it,” still rings true.

However, as much as it sounds like I detest technology, I don’t. It’s the addictive aspects and loss of privacy and relationships that concern me. I agree with Harari that, “The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government.”  In that regard I can understand Amazon delivering food to an immobile person who lives alone.

To reduce the risks of your personality being hacked, Harari suggests first getting to know yourself better and exploring your choices more deeply. Of course, someone who meditates two hours a day and doesn’t use a smartphone is less likely to be hacked than someone addicted to their device he says. Then join an organization of activists for a more powerful voice in making society more resilient and less able to be hacked.

Harari and Harris emphasize, “They’re (corporation or government) about to get to you—This is the critical moment…So run away, run a little faster. And there are many ways you can run faster, meaning getting to know yourself a bit better. Meditation is one way. And there are hundreds of techniques of meditation, different ways work with different people.

You can go to therapy, you can use art, you can use sports, whatever. Whatever works for you. But it’s now becoming much more important than ever before. Protect yourself by getting to know your self.”   This sounds perfectly natural to me.

The National Day of Unplugging is March 1-2, 2019.  I say, “Why wait?”  How ’bout you?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Good Morning Mother Nature

One of my favorite morning activities is walking through the garden discovering what’s bloomed then cutting a basket full of flowers to become a bouquet.  Focusing solely on colors, textures and scents quiets my mind while the warming sun and cooling breeze brushing my skin soothes my HSP spirit.

Mother Nature offers this gentle good morning to anyone taking time to appreciate her splendid gifts.  Try meditating while creating a morning bouquet and see how you feel.  Refreshed?  Focused?  Rewarded?  At peace?  Grateful?

 

A bit overly ambitious this morning, I now have three bouquets to grace my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.   How I love this time of year!

 

 

Busy Body Meditations

You hear a lot about the benefits of meditation these days but that incessant mental chatter is reluctant to give up center stage.  Foregoing a lobotomy, what is one to do?

Sitting cross-legged on a cushion to meditate was as agonizing for me as soaking in a hot bath.  (I can’t wait ’til it’s over.)  Same for sitting straight with hands on my thighs — even if it’s my favorite chair.  Someone gave me a book on transcendental meditation but I got through maybe a third of it (at best).  The standard practice of focusing on the breath doesn’t hold my focus.

A spiritual guide who entered my life like an angel, eased my anxiety over not being able to meditate.  (Counterproductive like rushing to yoga class.) “You know, you don’t have to sit in a lotus pose or chant to meditate,” he said.  “Anytime you’re solely focused in the moment, it’s meditation.  Like when you’re gardening or acutely aware of those bluest of blue skies.”  He was talking about mindful meditation.

Somewhere in all of this I discovered hand drumming and before I knew it, I became a regular at the twice-monthly sessions at the health food store.  Drumming for 3 hours straight felt like only minutes passed. (Talk about transcendental!)  I experienced drumming’s healing effects by osmosis and later learned it’s gaining popularity for treating various health conditions (high blood pressure, cancer, stress, Parkinson’s, depression, etc.  For me, it was chronic fatigue).  See drumming for mindfulness.

One of the drummers showed me a movement meditation.  Focusing solely on the fluid movements resonated with me like when I practice morning Qigong.  I don’t drum in the morning for obvious reasons and prefer the energy of a diverse drum circle anyway.

Can you feel the calming energy in her sweeping movements?  You can feel this way too.  Go ahead. Try it. No one’s watching.

Still, there are days when my to-do list wins out and sets me in high gear before I’ve practiced self-care.  More recently, I’ve heard that beginning the day with even one minute of meditation is beneficial.  One minute?  Really?  I can do that. 

So, when I came across this post on sound meditation from a blogger who also has difficulty quieting her mind, I thought I’d try it.   I simply focused solely on the sounds around me as they appeared:  a cardinal flitting from the feeder to my window screen, another bird chirping in the distance, a whooshing car…rain on the roof, on the glass, through the gutter…the hum of the refrigerator…a creaking board.  This worked beautifully to ward off my noisy taskmaster.  And as my thoughts attempted to wander in wonder of what type of bird I heard, it was easier to gently pull back and simply — focus — on the sound — simply — as sound.

No longer am I stressed that I can’t meditate in the usually depicted forms.  Different strokes for different folks you know.  The key is finding what resonates for you.  If you have trouble quieting mental chatter, you might want to try sound or movement meditation.  I’d love to hear your experience — we’re all in this together.

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“Meditation:  when the space between your thoughts becomes greater than the thoughts between your spaces.” — Alan Cohen

 

Be Still

“To be still, get still,” popped into my head while feeling dizzily over-stimulated from noisy store crowds, parties, and meandering traffic this week.   The holidays can drain anyone and especially with technology’s hastened pace and constant bombardment.

For many years I’ve chosen to celebrate the holidays through the beauty of the land.  Whether it’s gathering aromatic pine boughs on the morning of Christmas Eve or breathlessly climbing a steep slope of evergreens to gain fresh perspective on New Year’s Day — intimately connecting with Mother Nature is my holiday spirit.  It is the quiet, the crunch of my boots in the snow, the sun warming my face, and breathing in fresh pine, that speaks to me deep within.  Glowing candlelight and a poinsettia paint the mellow ambience I love.   Add in laughter, healthy food and hand drumming with friends, and voila’; I’ve created a non-traditional holiday out of love, not stressful obligation.  And as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I want for nothing more.

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This year, I’ve received wise words from unexpected sources — women I’ve never met but with whom I share a Nature-focused spiritual path:

  • Particularly comforting in the midst of losing so many trees to pipeline construction are the words of a Yoruba priest: “Nature is resilient. The trees will come and go – some naturally and some by the needs and destructiveness of man.  Don’t cry for the trees.  They have served their purpose and they have planted their seeds.  They have helped those of the earth in many ways – the humans, the animals, the air, the soil, and other nature beings. Their spirit is resilient and they will be reborn in other forms and once again, serve their purpose. Perhaps one of them lies in you.  This is the nature of life.” 

pine candle

 

 

 

The Sacred Science Pinecone Meditation

Find a pine cone and place it in front of you. Gaze at the pinecone for a full minute, then close your eyes and imagine the pinecone-shape behind your third eye. Envision the scales of the pinecone unfolding and opening to take in nourishment from Divine Light, and see your pinecone-shaped pineal gland energized and radiant. In this space, consider all the benefits of pine medicine and imagine this energy as a white light healing your mind, body, and spirit.

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The wisdom of the land is why I love it so.Santa Key Smile  It teaches me about living life.

 

Presents

Madison Avenue says Christmas is about presents. Lots of them.

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I say that’s a typo.  It’s about presence — lots of it.  Be present with yourself, loved ones, and each moment you (hopefully) come in contact with someone.  Well, anyone for that matter.  This is more than sitting next to someone while staring into a device.  It’s about being mentally present, focused on your interaction with that person.  Giving someone your attention is as true a gift as it gets.

It’s easy to “buy” some thing and hand it to someone or the more recent scenario of leaving it on someone’s desk or at their door.  How many obligatory gifts have you received that were a pre-packaged something-for-anyone that you didn’t use? same gift Note:  “re-gifting” was created for a reason.  Yes, some will say, “It’s the thought that counts.”  I counter, “How much thought was there?”  A sincere kind word or sentiment means more.  At least to me.

More precious and worthy than material gifts, giving time is a gift so large it can’t be wrapped in any box yet overflows the heart. Ask a soldier being deployed or a dying patient.  Ask your spouse.  Do they wish they had more time?  Do you feel overly stressed that there isn’t enough time?  Stopping the distraction and being present is the most generous gift of and to thyself.  (Hard lesson learned — see prior post “Meager.”)

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You can give yourself the gift of time by being in Nature.  Whether planting the season’s garden or trekking through the woods, time seems to slow without the constant pings of phones or e-mail.  The stillness of  Nature’s tranquil beauty reaches the soul.  Gift your time by being present with others this holiday season.  Play with your children.  Visit an elderly person.  Smile at the store clerk.

Feel the isolation and loneliness disappear as you put down your device and look into someone’s eyes when they speak to you.  Listen to what they have to say.  Offer something in return.  Maybe it’s just a hug, or thank you to Nature.

 Time – The Perfect Gift for You and Everyone on Your List white-male-1740707_1280

 

You Decide

There’s been a lot of hype about the impending total solar eclipse.  I’ve never been one to do something just because “everyone else is doing it.” The same with technology. I don’t have to have the latest and greatest, or any at all because “everyone else has one.” To me, that’s a lazy excuse for not making conscious choices and for robbing myself of my individuality. I’ve felt the same about the upcoming solar eclipse.

I haven’t had a desire to view the eclipse, even when friends are traveling for optimal viewing or scrambling for special glasses. I don’t know what your plans are but you may want to take into account the less discussed ill effects of the total solar eclipse, and some protective measures you can take at the time.

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According to Indian rishis, the energy field is so strong when there is an absence of lunar or solar electromagnetic radiation that these ecliptic areas of space become unique fields of electromagnetic radiation and affect man’s duality of consciousness.  Exposing oneself to the vibratory effects of an eclipse is unfavorable.  Be vigilant to avoid being affected by the eclipse’s inauspicious influence and adjust your actions and awareness to accommodate larger universal energies:

  • Being outside amplifies the effects on one’s electrical body.  Instead, stay indoors and chant mantras such as the protective Maha Mritunjaya mantra.
  • Do not cook food, and fast if possible. If any food is sitting around, keep it covered.
  • Three days before and after an eclipse are considered unlucky for important new beginnings such as marriage, starting a business, and other important actions.

Someone who traveled to Ayers Rock in the Outback of central Australia to have a full vision of the sky and developing full solar eclipse said that almost immediately, and for the following year, he experienced enormous loss and difficulties.  He deeply regrets viewing the eclipse and said he would never do it again.

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I have felt exhausted as the eclipse approaches and  have cancelled many activities in the name of self-care.  My conscience would not rest easy if I did not pass along this less-known information on the approaching eclipse.

However, as a tiny update to this post, since sharing this info with friends has created lively discussion on various interpretations on this eclipse,  I have now personalized my own observance of this significant day.  Moments before the eclipse began, I picked a colorful garden bouquet.  Now, I am staying inside listening to the Maha Mritunjaya mantra and writing my intentions for the coming year.  I will then shower away past emotional baggage during the height of the eclipse.

This is all in the spirit of Take what you like and leave the rest.” I would love to hear how the total solar eclipse affects you and what you decide to do during this time.