How Heavy Do You Travel?


Summer_rentalHow Heavy Do You Travel?

Have you ever seen that Corona commercial, where the couple is sitting on a pair of chaise lounges, enjoying a nice, relaxing day at the beach, with nothing but a chair and an ice cold corona with lime.  Cue the family walking by, lugging all sort of beach stuff around, the guy looking stressed and disorganized.  I’ve always found that commercial amusing. Well, its a fitting segway for today’s little muse.

I was having a discussion not too long ago, with someone about, well, stress.  You see, she had a plethora of things going on in her life  and was struggling with it all.  Through this journey, I have come to see life a little differently and went on to describe my observation.  The point I expressed went something like this.  This body of ours is like a piece of luggage.  Throughout life, we pack all of the things we mentally give importance to, and hold onto throughout our lives.  So you might say, its a mind full of baggage.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Emotional Baggage PosterThese are the things that define our “self”. (yes the image is one sided, but you get the picture.)

Yet, it is our essence, our soul, whatever word you want to give it… that energy that nourishes and gives life to the “self”, who carries the burden of dragging that luggage along life’s path. To take it one step further, it is also this same energy that has the ability to choose what and what not to pack in this piece of luggage. To choose just how heavy to travel.

I left for a work trip to Las Vegas this past week. The trip out was, well let’s say, not smooth. The first leg was to Phoenix, AZ. While waiting in the terminal, a major storm came through, and this of course delayed the flight. As I waited, I observed many of the conversations going on, as well as the faces of those sitting around me. The drama, the despair, the outright depression being passed throughout those weary halls of the terminal. Many of the discussions going on, could have been deemed a duel of the greater hardships going on in their lives and the acute nature of how inconvenienced they were by this terrible disaster of a wait.

big baggage

As the afternoon turned to evening, the plane for which we were to board was found to have mechanical issues. Oh my, now the drama, despair and depression had turned into down right chaos, as if armageddon was upon us. The faces of terror created a new landscape for the zombie apocolypse and its subsequent transformation of normal human beings into a frantic crowd of flesh eating zombies preparing for attack on those whose unfortunate job it was to keep the peace for the airline. I had visions of the lovely airline desk attendant turning into a giant, bone crushing, Ogre as she was continually attacked by these brain sucking zombies.

Irrationality was being spewed, all around. The duels of hardship were becoming so lengthy and orated with such detail. The spectrum of drama touching all range of social interaction with life…. such misery! All, undoubtedly, in the quest for reaffirmation of this misery and sympathy for its plight. Ah, such a funny animal, human kind. Always in the quest for happiness, yet we fill this luggage of ours with such misery, and we hold onto it.Just like a closet full of old clothes and treasures”.

closet  So, cleaning out one’s closet to get rid of those old clothes, those great “treasures”,  takes great effort.   To let loose of those material things is a drama in itself, one might say a great tragedy!  Yet once gone, it is gone, likely never to be thought of again.

Was it the scenario of being held over late that caused this misery to unfold for all of these wandering, weary travelers?  I would say not.  I would say it was just an opportunity to unzip, open up and show each other the baggage they carry around with them. To compare and contrast, to compete, to justify and affirm, to search for favor, and to ultimately give purpose to that oh so precious self.  lugging

This whole experience opened up an opportunity for me to take an objective look at myself. To survey the baggage contained, in this great piece of luggage so graciously bestowed upon me, in this life of mine. You see, I came to realize, just like a piece of luggage, I choose what baggage I keep in the luggage. When preparing for life, just like preparing for a trip, I choose what thoughts to hold onto, just like I choose what items I “need” for my trip. In life, each experience elicits a particular flow of thoughts. The thoughts for which I give importance, that I hold onto, are the thoughts that become my baggage. Those I do not hold onto, that I do not give importance to, pass by and don’t weigh down my luggage. Sometimes I give importance to certain thoughts, and have the ability to let them go.  Just like packing for a trip and thinking I need four pairs of shoes, then coming to the realization that I would rather travel lighter and pack two.

So, really, it is my baggage that defines me.  For, the only difference between me and the brain sucking zombies that came out in that fateful night in June, is the baggage of my mind that I drag around in this luggage of a body, through those weary halls of the airport terminal.

baloons

I have learned to let go and not give importance to those thoughts that flow through my mind.  Don’t get me wrong, the thoughts are there, but I choose not to hold onto them.  I choose not to give them importance.  I choose not to pack so heavy and ultimately, I choose not to give in to that misery.

I wish you all the greatest of happiness in your lives and the ability to lighten your load, to not pack so heavy, to let go of some of that baggage. May you and all living things be peaceful,  be happy and….well…just be!

Trying Your Hardest…An Epiphany !


trying hardThe other day I was sitting with my daughter, helping her with her homework.  Earlier in the day I had received and email from her teacher, letting me know about some of the struggles she had been having in class.  The comment that struck the largest chord, was that when working by herself, she would have difficulty focusing on her work and act as if she could not do it, but when the teacher would work one on one with her, she had no problem.  Ugg, my goal for my job as a dad, was to cultivate an independent, self thinking little lady!  The irony.  Well, so I had to come up with something that would “encourage” her to start doing her work independently.

Of course, at first, I was grilling her on the importance of being able to do things for herself and giving examples of when she did start doing various tasks on her own…i.e. walking, talking, taking a shower and so on, how proud she felt and expressed so. That, of course, elicited the glaze over in the eyes and eventually a rolling to go along with it. I had to do a reset and think.  I thought to myself, the teacher mentioned that when she was working alone, she was having issues staying focused.  Hmm, so instead of giving her encouragement and motivational talks, i would give her a specific task.  “Try your hardest,” I said (wow, I just made the world shake…right…ha).  I went on, “Try your hardest to focus on  every little movement, every little thought, every little part of the task at hand.  In this case, it was writing her name and a sentence, with proper placement of letters, proper punctuation, proper sizing and so on.  So, each letter, for example, I would tell her to “try your hardest” on each part of the letter as she wrote it.  To “try your hardest” to pay attention each moment with each movement of the pencil.  I then told her to “try your hardest” to recognize when she was not “trying your hardest.”  Then when she recognized that she was getting off track, to take a deep breath and blow it out.

epiphanies

That moment, KABOOM, I had an epiphany!!!  It’s amazing how often wisdom comes out of my interaction with my daughter.  What I realized at that moment, was that “Trying your hardest” is a fantastic tool, a fantastic reminder for bringing oneself into the moment.  To bring oneself completely into focus.  Just this simple phrase can initiate ones ability to reset the mind, and focus on the task at hand.  Very much like we train ourselves in meditation, to keep the mind in the moment by staying focused on one point and noticing when the mind is no longer focused on that point and bringing it back.  The only difference being, this is a way to bring our focus back during our everyday experiences.  Regardless of what it is, making breakfast, doing a spreadsheet at work, talking with a client, doing homework with a child, or writing your letters….tell yourself, “try my hardest” at every aspect of the task.  I tried it after my epiphany, and it was amazing how quickly I was able to observe my mind getting off task, and when I told myself to “try my hardest”, that I got right back on task.

Really, its nothing you haven’t heard before.  My parents always used to tell me to try my hardest and do my best.  Of course, I probably got the glaze over my eyes with a subsequent roll, but the truth is, whether they knew it or not, there was wisdom in those words.  The problem was, my interpretation of the words and subsequent defensive reaction of, “I am trying my hardest!,” was based more on being obsessed with the outcome of whatever task I happened to be engaged or the fact that in all reality I had other things on my mind, other “tasks” that i would rather be doing.  Funny the struggle between parent and child!

wandering mindThis, as we all know, is the plague of the human mind, always wandering somewhere else, anywhere else, instead of being focused on what is going on right now!  It is the scourge of productivity!  It is the nemesis of a peaceful mind!  It is the creator of all stress and misery!  Yes, I know, a bit dramatic, but it is the truth!  For a mind that is in the moment, can never be stressed, can never be miserable, for it is in this state that it can process all that is necessary to make it through.  It is in this state, that the machine we all call our brain works at its highest efficiency with the least effort.  It is the state in which we can observe our true nature, our true self, the energy that exists beyond that which we call…I…me.

So, “try your hardest,”  it is nice reminder, a catch phrase if you will, a reset button, for bringing the focus back to the moment.  Just like my daughter, when writing her name, what exactly was trying her hardest?  Trying her hardest was to place attention to every part of the construction of writing her name.  From the grip on her pencil, to the placement of the pencil on the paper, to every movement of her hand while making each little line or curve, to the proper spelling of the word, to the orientation of which she would write it.  Who knew there was so much involved in writing a letter, let alone a word. Yet, ultimately, it was placing all focus on the task at hand, on the moment!

happy childSo I say to you, my faithful reader….go out…and challenge yourself to..”TRY YOUR HARDEST”..  Remind yourself, as you meander through your day, creating your masterpiece of life, to “Try Your Hardest” to focus on each and every moment of your creativity!  To “Try Your Hardest” to be aware of this gift we call life, and live it in its only reality, which is, moment to moment!  Of course, as is with anything, the more you “Try Your Hardest”….the easier it will become to find yourself being in the moment and living a happier….more peaceful….and more productive life.

I wish you all much happiness….much peace….and much success with this beautiful thing we all call life!!!

Wisdom in the Midst of a Loved One Lost


lossI was reminded today, of a conversation I had long ago, with a very wise individual I had the pleasure of knowing.  It was not too long after my father had passed.  The conversation had such an effect on the way I looked at his passing and life in general, that I thought I would share.

I lost my father not too long after high school.  We had a super tight relationship and I was devastated.  I remember experiencing some of the very deep miserable feelings one has during a time such as this.  One day a very wise friend sat down with me to talk, (i remember this like it was yesterday) really just about things, not necessarily my father.  We were talking about what my plans were for the future, how baseball was going, i was about to transfer schools and we talked about that a bit, and it went on for a while.  Then out of the blue…he stopped, closed his eyes, and said very calmly, “have you noticed during this entire conversation you haven’t said one positive thing?”  I was kind of taken back by this, but it was true and he continued, “you have all these wonderful things going on and in your life, and all I’ve heard was how you are worried, how you are scared, how they cause you problems and misery, how you are not too sure about this or that.”  I sat there silent for a few seconds and started to cry, and of course after a bit, then the conversation about my father ensued and it went on for a little while.  Then again out of the blue, he closed his eyes and said very calmly, “have you noticed during this entire conversation you haven’t said one thing about your father?”  I was confused and again taken back, and he continued, “everything you spoke of was how it affected you, how this has burdened you, how you don’t know what you are going to do, how it’s not fair to you.”  Of course he was right again.

Then he said to me, ” you have an awesome opportunity here, a great and beautiful opportunity.  Your father, although physically gone, lives in you, lives through you, and is given energy by you, whether it be positive or negative.”  I sat thinking and probably looking a bit confused. Then he went on, “every moment you sit feeling sorry for your self, every moment you are negative about the beautiful life you have… well, that flows through you to him, he feels your misery.  Yet, every moment you go out into the world, live your life, enjoy every moment, do your best, have success, work through difficulties, the energy flows the other way.  His energy flows through you, to enjoy the good times, and give you strength to work through the tough times.  To one day watch your children grow.  To see you live a happy life. To see your light shine and live through the love you spread to those around you.  This is your beautiful opportunity, to live a beautiful life, so that he may live through you and your beautiful life…”

Man, such powerful words, such true words.  So, I say to you, if you are going through this sort of time, you have an opportunity here.  A beautiful opportunity.  Make the most of it, not only for yourself, but for all of those around you that you love, and of course, for that loved one that lives within you…that lives through you.

I wish much happiness and peace to you all.

28 Day Meditation Challenge


Hello out there, to all of you engaged in the experiment and to those not as well!  Someone passed along a Facebook link to a 28 Day Meditation Challenge.  So many folks spend so much time making an effort to better their bodies through some sort of physical exercise challenge (especially during this time of the year) , how about putting some energy towards a mental exercise challenge.  Give it a try, it can”t hurt!  If you have any questions about meditation, feel free to contact me or leave a response on this post.  The link is as follows.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/28DayMeditationChallenge

Much Peace and Happiness to you all.

The Dying Art of the Creative Moment


My eyes opened, as the sound of Moonlight Sonata, so eloquently created by a Mr. Ludwig Van Beethoven, calmly gave introduction to a new day.  The shadows of the ceiling fan fluttered as if there were a butterfly, readying itself to land upon the window cill. I turned over to the warmth of my little Pug Ling, as she shook her head and greeted me with a gregarious snort as her imperfectly curled tail tried to follow the wiggle of her back end.  As blurred visions of the grand adventure of epic proportions I experienced before my waking moments, drifted off into the lost Dewey Decimal System of my mind, I came upon a faint moment that struck a conscious vibration of disapproval and even anxiety.  This moment of intensity quickly dispersed as two familiar spheres of green and yellow and brown came into sight, encompassed by a halo of soft light, and the sound of “good morning daddy”  that reverberated a flow of the most enlightening vibration of peace and happiness, nourishing every cell in my body, from this little light of my life, as if she were the sun giving life to the avocado tree outside the window.  I reached out to embrace this little light of my life, Luciana her name, the Italian equivalent for light, so appropriate, so true to life, and she expressed a whimsical  ahmmm which let me know that all was good in the world and that she was now ready for her day!

Talk about being in the moment!  Its amazing the detail that comes into focus during an experience such as this.  Ah, the creative process, what an amazing tool, an amazing gift, an amazing discovery.  Simple really, just allowing oneself to be completely in the moment and create, not bound by any future or past limitation….this is where the masterpiece is, well, created!  Likely, why it is the starving artist that so often is the true creator of such bliss.  For to create for the purpose of gaining favor or income for that matter, will always taint the process.  Creativity is a flow, a flow of the sum of all that is, and then an attachment to something in that flow….ah….a creation is born.  Then how, can i give full attention to this attachment if I am anywhere other than in the moment?  Ah, I cannot, therefore my creation is distorted by its insignificance.

Writer’s block for example, what is writers block?  Most of the time, i think it is due to the desire to create.  Sounds crazy, right?  Maybe not,.  For the creative process is being bound by not the desire to create, but for that entity, that attainment, that goal in the future that has elicited this desire to create….unfortunately no longer allowing the artist to be completely in the moment.  Maybe why we see the creative process becoming a relic, a cyclical copy of what has been.  As the creative process has been hijacked by the almighty dollar.

When I write, i am in the moment , for if I am not, i no longer have anything creative to say.  For just as creativity, wisdom is only found in the moment.  It is the essence of the flow, it is the constant that can be observed, only in the moment.  Not bound by the noise beyond the flow.  Find the flow my friends, embrace it, live it, be it……and CREATE!!!!

Mind of Peace..from…Peace of Mind !!


In honor of the International Day of Peace, I thought a post on Peace and the Mind would be aprapos.  So often on this journey of mine, the term “Peace of Mind” has come up.  Whether it be in conversation with others on the path, or reading a book, while writing, or just a little conversation I have with me, myself and I,…. “Peace of Mind” was a pretty hot topic.  For isn’t that the goal?  I once thought that, until I found that place and experienced something totally unexpected.

I’m not sure I have discussed in previous posts,  that I have practiced meditation for quite some time.  Yes, this practice has been an integral part of this journey and a “super tool” that I have used to help float along this river of life.  Through this practice, I was able to experience a place where I was able to quiet the mind, and when I say quiet the mind, I mean total and utter silence, what I would certainly call “Peace of Mind.” (I am not going to go into a discussion on meditation, as that is for another day).  I remember thinking to myself, “Wow… man… that was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced!”  I had been fortunate enough to get a small glimpse, experience a tiny taste, of the ultimate truth, my true nature!  “I certainly  must be doing something right,” I said to myself, ” going down the right path!”  You wouldn’t believe the flow of thoughts that ensued later that afternoon after that experience.  Then “BAM” it occurred to me, “there I go again,” the mind just going at it again, like a white water flow of craving and self-absorption.  I suppose the only difference was the acute nature in which I was able to observe the thoughts, and what they were.  Honestly, I will tell you that this observation was a much more important part of my lesson learned that day than the actual experience of a completely quiet mind. It was at that point I realized, I observed, I truly experienced, the true nature of the misery I bring upon myself.  It was the point at which I understood how unaware I was in my everyday existence to the flow of thoughts and subsequent “holding onto them” that elicited their corresponding reaction.  It was probably one of the most prolific experiences of my life, to actually observe the actual workings of this mind/matter phenomena!!  Needless to say, this moment  took my own personal experiment of self observation to a new level.

So, great, cool, good for me, I had a really amazing experience…..And?  Well…sure, I did, but the most important thing about the experience was the understanding that I got from it, it clicked!  It was during that moment of true awareness, that I understood not only the importance of that “Peace of Mind” moment, but  I also observed just how critically important the moments following, the time spent after that moment.  For it is this time that the opportunity for transformation takes place, for the re-training of your mind.  It was also at that point I really, well, believed, that I could truly transform my mind, break the habits that I have held onto for so long, alter the cycle!  With this realization, it became completely apparent to me that the same could be said for the inhabitants of this world.  You know, you can hear it a million times….”Change the world, by changing yourself..”, but until you experience the true nature of change within, it is a very hard concept to grasp.

So, the point is, when you experience those times when you are fortunate enough to get that small glimpse…that beautiful feeling,  of “Peace of Mind”, make the most of it, (and no it doesn’t have to be as acute as the one I experienced that day).   Whether it be a moment of silent prayer, or that sunrise on the beach…or maybe just observing the smile of a child, or painting a picture of a peach.  Understand that “Peace of Mind” is experienced when your mind is completely focused, focused on that moment.  You will feel it, you will know, it will likely send a feeling of comfortable warmth through your body, and you’ll feel like a little lightbulb shining on all those around you.  Then, do us all a favor and yourself as well, when that little moment is over.  Take a second, or two, or even a minute, or ten, and send good wishes of peace, to all the world over!  This is the process my friends, something all of us can do,  to create a “Mind of Peace” from “Peace of Mind”,  just take a minute or a few.  (okay, i’m no poet, but it was fun trying!)  Realize, that small moment you experience, opens that opportunity to change your position in the river, to alter your path, and that alteration is completely dependent upon the thoughts you choose to join you on your flow.  It may not be comepletly noticable at first, or maybe it will, but you have the power and most importantly you have the choice.  Much Peace to you all on this International Day of Peace and I wish you all much luck on your journey and much happiness each day through.

To Be…or not to Be….that is the….um..Choice!!


I saw a question posed today..”Why does God always think we can handle things that we don’t know if we are strong enough to?”  I suppose the most direct answer would be, to give one the opportunity to find the true strength within.  Through all my years of growing up Catholic, I always found it unfair that God was blamed for so much of the misery experienced by the inhabitants of the Earth.  I was always taught that God loved his children and that all I had to do was put my faith in his hands, and all things would work out.  So I could not comprehend why God would send something, some experience to me that would cause pain and misery?  What, is God some Jekyl and Hyde personality…maybe he’s a prankster? Of course not.  Although my particular way of thought and interpretation of God has changed over the years, the basic principles have not.  So why do challenges come our way?  Through my life, I have experienced various medical issues, and when they were in an acute state, I would often wonder why?  Why is this happening to me?  I have been a good kid, I go to church, for the most part I was good to others…so on and so forth.  Heck, I am sure there were times that I questioned God in a similar manner to the quote that initiated this post.  Yet what I have come to understand is that, there really is no reason, only an opportunity.  “Opportunity you say !!!?” Since embarking on this journey of self-realization I have come to discover, there is no rhyme or reason to the things we experience in life.  Yes, I know, I understand the concept of sin and its inevitable punishment, or the concept of Karma (highly misunderstood my most in my observation).  We humans are a funny animal, we are always looking elsewhere for reason, or more accurately put, blame, for the things we experience, (and the feelings they elicit) regardless of their nature.  Whether it is something we like, or more often, we do not like! (and trust me I have had plenty of both!)  The truth is, life is like a river that flows, that flows with things we experience with our senses.  Take a moment now and become the scientist, observe what you are experiencing now.  You are sitting at your computer or phone or whatever media device you have in front of you.  Maybe with a drink or snack by your side.  Maybe with the t.v. going in the background or some music.  You remember…we did this in kindergarten…heck pre-school…go to each specific sense..sight…smell…taste…touch…hear…and if you didn’t know this, there is a sixth and that is thought, and observe.  C’mon..give it a try…become third person, become the scientist and sit back and observe the senses and corresponding feelings and the  thoughts coming to fruition, man what a flow…right?  All kinds of stuff come up, “what’s this guy talking about?”…”I don’t have time for this”…”something smells good”..” i can’t believe that commercial”…”man I was supposed to call so and so”…and on and on.    This flow of thoughts, constant, like a river.  And as discussed in an earlier post, we’re just fishin with our pole of control, holding onto those thoughts.

Okay, so where am I going with this?  Well, this river of experience, you know, it just flows, kinda like the Mississippi.  Why did I get Crohns disease as a child? Why was I so lucky to be born to a saint of a mom?  Fact is, it doesn’t really matter, for it is what was presented to me.  Here is the point of this entire post!  “To Be…or Not To Be….(HAPPY)….that is the CHOICE!!!  You see folks, misery, as well as happiness, is a choice.  Ooh, I know, very hard to grasp when the river of life seems like raging rapids instead of a gurgling brook, but the truth is, the rapids are there!  Regardless of whether you respond with a frown or a smile, the rapids are there!   Also, trust me, no matter how much you think someone,  or something  caused those rapids to appear, the fact of the matter is, they are there!  and you will be going through them!  So, looking for the reason or the blame, is like trying to hold onto a rock and waiting for the rapids to subside.  You will be waiting for a long time.  Just like the Mississippi, there are spots with rapids and they will be rapids for a very…very…very long time.  As long as you hold onto that rock, well, you will most certainly be fighting those rapids.  On the other hand, you can let go of the rock and accept the fact that, hey, I have to traverse some rapids, not the first time, and certainly not the last.  Of course, once you let go of the rock, well, you again have the choice.  Ride the rapids with a smile or a frown.  Again, either way, you will be riding the rapids for a bit, you can do it with a frown, feeling miserable, feeling out of control and spending your time dwelling on your expectations. Looking for other rocks, clouding the one tool you do have, awareness, to help avoid some of the hidden dangers.    Or… you can do it with smile, Happy, accepting things as they are, letting the river take you along, with a much better faculty for the use of that special tool of awareness to help  avoid those same hidden dangers.

I will tell you, I was a miserable soul when I first started this journey long ago.  Always looking for rocks regardless of whether I was in the rapids or not.  Often plagued by my expectations for those around me and the world in general.  Then there was that moment, that beautiful moment of clarity, when I realized, when I observed that, it was me, I was the one responsible for my happiness (and of course my misery).  For, it was not the river, not the experience that brought me this happiness, this misery, but the way in which I chose to react to the river, to the experience.  What a feeling of fulfillment, what a feeling of peace, it sounds so simple, but it can be the most difficult thing to grasp, but I promise you (from a former miserable soul)..it is not impossible!!  Give yourself a little credit, hey, your making the effort, you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place if not!!   So, do yourself a favor, take advantage of those rapids, and see them as an Opportunity for self observation and find the path to true happiness…to true peace.  Start taking responsibility, for those smiles and those frowns.  Find the opportunity to flow along the river of life, and let go of the rocks and not miss out on the beauty it has to offer!  I wish much success on your experiment and an enjoyable ride down the river!