Chopra and Oprah, At It Again

You may have noticed the phenomenon that someone is always socialmedia-sharing their progression through one Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra meditation program or another. They’ve become very popular. After all, who wouldn’t want to take a lesson from these two inspirational people? Plus, who can argue against the benefits of daily meditation?

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My friends and family certainly seem more grateful and shiny as they write about what they have learned about life and themselves on any given day of the programs.

I want in! Not only does daily meditation always sound like a fun and worthy intention, but getting a syllabus and a daily pat on the back might be the right recipe to get it beyond my fits and starts.

So when a friend sent me this……

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…I said, “Sign me up!”

The program begins on July 13th. I don’t know exactly what it entails, but away we go! If you like the idea of guided daily meditation and an online community with whom to enjoy the experience, join us!! I definitely know myself well enough to know that I will NOT be posting regular “Today I am grateful for…” posts, but I’ll try to share some thoughts and updates. It’s always more fun if we do it together. 🙂

You can go to THEIR WEBSITE HERE to register. Or get there through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ChopraMeditation .

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Dear Saturday Busy Bees, 

Happy saturday everyone!

Saturday, a good day to go a little easier on yourself, downshift from the week, and take some breaks. We all need to replenish and rejuvenate from time to time. I’ve noticed that many of us are forgoing those times of replenishment though and plowing through the weekend with our long to-do lists.

Whether you’re a staunch weekend relaxer or a Saturday busy bee, there’s many ways to take a break AND feed your soul. Finding “you time” doesn’t mean channel surfing all day on the couch. You can make space for yourself in the 5-minute car ride to the grocery store or the 1-minute pause while you wait for the coffee to finish brewing. Sure, it may not be the same as a spa day in the mountains, but rejuvenation can happen moment by moment no matter where you are.  Here are some ways to take a break and stay connected.

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Enjoy your fabulous weekend!

Simone

Untethered Soul, Chapter 8

If you’ve been reading The Untethered Soul, or at least these chapter summaries, you know now that you are not your name, age, or profession. You know that you are an inner witness to all that happens around and in you. You also know that experiences can become held inside of you, leading to reactions of either avoidance or grasping.

In the last chapter, the book’s author, Michael A. Singer, suggested that it’s possible to “transcend the tendency to close” when inner fears get triggered. Now, with Chapter 8 called Let Go Now or Fall, we go deeper into how to transcend. This chapter launches the next unit of the book called, Freeing Yourself. And the key word in this chapter title is, “now.” You’ll see why.

Singer says that by trying to control life, based on how we think it should go for us, we think we are protecting ourselves, but that what we are really doing is creating fears.

If you attempt to arrange people, places, and things so they don’t disturb you, it will begin to feel like life is against you. … You will feel that anyone, at any moment, could cause you disturbance. … That makes life a threat. That’s why you have to worry so much. … You’re either trying to figure out how to keep things from happening, or you’re trying to figure out what to do because they did happen. …How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be?

Instead, what if we can live without fear and just let life be what it is. Live without fear?? That seems unlikely. But what would it be like? Just imagine. No fear of money problems. No feel of being abandoned. No fear of failure. No fear of safety.

Singer says we’re hanging onto our “stuff” (our blockages, fears, etc.) and when something happens that triggers that stuff we get thrown into a tailspin. He says you have to LET IT GO IMMEDIATELY, because it’s harder to do it later. If you get sucked down into the energy of disturbance, it is through the “haze of your disturbance” that you will see things and try to handle things.  You lose control because you got pulled away from your seat of consciousness, which is where the freedom is. Now you’re in your survival instincts…again, how to protect my “stuff” from getting triggered again. And over and over we are in this cycle.

Singer paints a pretty bleak picture of what it’s like when we act from this lower energy once we’ve been triggered. We listen to our survival instincts to tell someone off, quit our job, drink a little more, whatever it might be. Other people are impacted and then THEIR stuff gets triggered. We take the energy of our own blockages and we pass it on to others. (Not very zen of us.) The negative energy we put out now has to come back in kind. We are weakened and MORE stuff gets triggered more easily. Etc, etc.

What if all you had to do to avoid all of this was to let go in the beginning?

Fair question.

Singer says when a blockage gets hit, it’s a GOOD thing. Because it’s time to let go IMMEDIATELY and get some purification!

It’s time to open up internally and release the blocked energy. If you let go, and permit the purification process to take place inside, that blocked energy will be released. When it’s released and allowed to flow up, it becomes purified … then strengthens you instead of weakening you.

Again, this takes practice.

Just turn your eyes upward and relax your heart. You do not have to leave the seat of Self in order to deal with the darkness. … Getting involved in the darkness does not dispel darkness; it feeds it. … No matter what goes on below you, open your heart and let it go. Your heart will become purified, and you will never know another fall. … let all of your blockages and disturbances become the fuel for the journey. That which is holding you down can become a powerful force that raises you up.

Readers, if you’re like me, this sounds like just what the doctor ordered, but it also sounds pretty daunting. For the rest of the week, I’m going to go for it. It’s going to be a challenge for us…maybe with certain relatives, maybe at work, maybe with kids or with pets, definitely in traffic! But isn’t it worth it to try and see what happens?

I hope that this week finds you freer than the last! Go for it!!

With faith in you and your inner Self,

~~~Simone~~~

 

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Untethered Soul, Chapter 7

It’s back! I can hardly believe it myself. But not to worry, I hadn’t actually forgotten about our chapter summaries of The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. I just got distracted by some other things in life.

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And speaking of distractions, Chapter 7 of the book is called Transcending the Tendency To Close and it also has a little do with distraction as well. It’s the last chapter of section 2 which has introduced us to the idea of energy…energies inside of us, our reactions to them, and our natural tendency to create Samskaras or blocked energies.

This chapter wraps up Singer’s introduction to energy and your ability to cling or release by giving us practical advice for how to NOT develop Samskaras. Here, Singer talks about “falling behind” the energies as they come up, meaning allowing your consciousness to not follow thoughts that enter our mind, but allowing them to pass. These might be immediate thoughts like, “I can’t believe I did that! What would it be like if I hadn’t done that? What should I do next time? I need to figure it out now!” The alternative to following all those thoughts and getting yourself worked up into a state of elevated blood pressure would just be to fall behind those thoughts. Notice them, accept them, then stay centered as they pass.

Falling behind a thought could also be something related to an event that happened a long time ago. Singer gives the example of someone taking your favorite pencil at work. It might seem like every time you have to use a different pencil, you replay their indiscretion and get agitated all over again. He says deciding to fall behind those thoughts and energies is “simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy.”

Personally, I’ve felt this risk very acutely in practicing this falling behind tactic. When someone hurts my feelings (or maybe I should say, “When I let myself believe that someone has hurt my feelings,”) I want to be mad and I can feel myself shutting down towards them. In some of these moments I have really asked myself if I will be better off if I let it go in the moment and not follow the tide of anger. Sometimes it’s not an answer that comes easily! My established habit of closing down and getting defensive is a strong one. Trusting that I will be better–even that I will at least be okay–if I let it go and stay centered is a challenge to me. But I keep practicing and more and more I am beginning to see that yes, it is better. It is more free.

And this freedom is what we’re talking about. Freedom from being tossed to and fro with every passing emotional reaction. If we spend our lives consciously or subconsciously trying to protect ourselves via anger or resentment or isolation, we’re not really free, we’re not really protected.

But let’s talk specifics then. How do we not follow energy? How do we fall behind it?

“The moment you feel a change, relax your shoulders and relax the area around your heart. The moment the energy moves you simply relax and release. Play with letting go and falling behind the sense of being bothered. “

Singer says this is how you make “freedom a game.”

“You don’t fight the mind. In fact you don’t even try to change it. You just make a game out of relaxing in the face of its melodrama.”

Moments where you can practice this are simply moments to grow. There will be many, many times when energy captures your attention and you flow along with the current of negative thinking. But the more you practice the easier it will become.

“Your center of consciousness is always stronger than the energy that is pulling on it. …There is nothing wrong with feeling the energies of fear, jealousy, or attraction. It’s not your fault that such energies exist. All the attractions, repulsions, thoughts, and feelings don’t make any difference. They don’t make you pure or impure. They are not you. You are the one who’s watching, and that one is pure consciousness. “

On a  personal note, I have found a particular metaphor that best helps me be able to fall behind the passing thoughts and feelings. At my mother’s house in Illinois there is a porch that looks out over her front yard with the pink-blossomed trees and large ancient oak, past a two-lane country highway, and across the expanding fields and forest on the other side. It is one of the most peaceful places I can think of. There are birds and clouds to watch and maybe a cat sleeping in the sun by your feet. It’s really the perfect place for a cup of coffee or iced tea. Everything around is green and alive.

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Even the whir of passing cars and farm trucks adds to the total comforting experience. Now, this porch has become my metaphor for falling behind. I sit in my inner seat of witness just as I sit on the porch. I acknowledge the passing traffic of thoughts and feelings just as I acknowledge the traffic on the highway. I chase not after each thought and feeling that presents itself just as I move not a muscle in response to the passing cars.

What is your metaphor? Think of your “happy place” where calm and comfort surround you as you are observant and at peace. Got it? Now what is something that passes through your line of sight as you sit in that place? Maybe they are seagulls, maybe they are bees, maybe they are airplanes or pedestrians. The next time you feel the challenging energy rising in you, imagine yourself in that happy place. That thought, reaction, emotion is nothing more than one of those seagulls or pedestrians. You are not following them, not grabbing them. You are noticing them and letting them pass.

Go get your freedom and let’s transcend the tendency to close!

~~~Simone~~~

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Travel Tuesday: French Connection

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
― Marcel Proust

A psychic once told me that she foresaw me taking a trip to a place where I had lived during a past life.

“Wow. I hope I’ll know it when it happens,” I replied.

“You’ll know. You’ll know it in your heart and by the intense feelings you experience.”

I’m not sure about the truth to all that, but nonetheless, it is an intriguing idea. There are those moments when you have such an unexpected reaction to a place as you step your foot on the ground. Similar to how a smell can elicit a strong sense of deja vu.

DeJa-Vu by HongNian-Zhan

DeJa-Vu by HongNian-Zhan

As I was thinking about this–about places I have been (in this life) and what feelings are attached to those travels–my junior year of college quickly came to mind. I lived and studied in France that year. As an adult, I carry a sense of disappointment with me about what I made (or didn’t make) out of that experience.

“I didn’t immerse myself in the culture as much as I wanted to.”

“I didn’t speak the language as much as I should have.”

“I am not the grand traveler my family wants to imagine I am.”

Simply, I feel like I wasn’t brave and that I came back a bit of a fraud.

As you might have sensed, it’s actually a lot of Me being too hard on Me….a habit I’ve become quite good at across life contexts.

Still, there is a seed of truth in all that self-flagellation which warrants a gentle, compassionate consideration. The seed shows me it is time to have that inner-child conversation of forgiveness and resolution. To let 15-years-ago be what it was. To love exactly who I was then and to be grateful for the part that year played in creating who I am now. (Look at that–I think I might be having the inner-conversation right now!)

There is another level of resolution that beckons to me too though: I want to reconcile with France. I want to return, sit down with France, and have a new conversation…the one you have with your ex once you’ve both moved on and truly forgive and appreciate one another. I want to just go love it for what it is and be in the moment amidst all it’s glory.

I wouldn’t go to France again carrying the burdens of the nagging “shoulds” with me. They are much to heavy no matter where you travel, I have found. No, I would like to be back on those Mediterranean beaches with no other goal than to feel the sun and taste the salt. I would like to walk in Paris with no other expectation than to be me in Paris. I would, with gratitude for it, speak my broken French if I wanted to, and I would be equally grateful for my fluent English whenever it came in handy.

I would like to make peace with a place, to help make peace with me.  I have found that innerconnection happens in so many different splendid ways. Why not on the TGV while humming past the countryside of Provence?

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Weekend To-Do (Good) List

Is it Friday already??

Here you go everyone, your to-do list with a twist. The weekend is more than mowing the lawn, taking the kids to soccer, catching up on your stored shows, etc etc. Let’s not just do our weekend like we normally do. Let’s inject a good dose of GOOD into the world. I’m making it easier for you by giving you these few leads. I’m sure some of you are doing good in ways that I can’t even imagine. Please…inspire us! Share your good actions so we can join you and get something done!

This week, I’m offering one item for each of three areas of connection that I write about : animal connection, inner connection, and ecoconnection. Enjoy!

~~~S Wave~~~

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1. Animal Connection: The Pata Zoo According to Mindful Wanderer

There is a couple I’ve been following lately. No, I don’t mean I’m stalking them around Los Angeles. I’m following them on Facebook and Instagram of course. Their names are Giselle and Cody and seem like pretty neat people to know. Their blog is called Mindful Wanderlust. They write about vegan lifestyle, animal rights, ecotravel, LGBT issues, tattoos and many other things. Just look at how fun they are:

Giselle and Cody of Mindful Wanderlust

Giselle and Cody of Mindful Wanderlust

Anyway, I digress.

Recently, Giselle and Cody were traveling in Bangkok,Thailand where they encountered the Pata Zoo. They visited this place to find out how animals were being treated at a small zoo in the Pata department store, a “decrepit building in the middle of a local area of busy Bangkok.”

Inside they documented images of isolated, neglected, understimulated, and abused (yes, restriction of any semblance of natural behaviors/stimulation is abuse) animals, including an isolated gorilla, an orangutan and her infant, and a penguin who lives all by himself and hides in his shelter almost all day. The pictures they shared on their blog are tragic (though, not graphic for any of you who worry about that.)  Click on this picture of Bua Noi to view the full story:

Bua Noi, the lone gorilla at the Pata Zoo. Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Bua Noi, the lone gorilla at the Pata Zoo.
Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Giselle and Cody were enraged and heartbroken for these animals which they rightly called “prisoners.” Giselle and Cody are used to putting their sense of injustice to work and that is what they have done.

They have started a petition on Change.org which you can find by

CLICKING HERE.

It will literally take you no more than 2 minutes to fill in your name and information, copy the URL and paste it to your Facebook. Can you do that? How about for Humbolt?:

Humbolt the Penguin Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Humbolt the Penguin
Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

How about for this baby who has never touched grass and deserves to know more than concrete and metal?:

Baby Orangutan captive and Pata Zoo Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Baby Orangutan captive and Pata Zoo
Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Thank you for caring. From me, from Giselle and Cody, and most of all from the animals. May our travels be of compassion and kindness.

2. Inner Connection: Mindful 

Speaking of the word “mindful,” I recently started a morning meditation practice with more diligence than usual. A friend and I are doing it together and–not surprisingly!–I am already feeling the benefits throughout my day. Along with silent meditation, we are using the great book, Living In the Moment by Anna Black to learn some ways of carrying mindfulness into our everyday lives.

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I wanted to share one of the exercises in the book that I have found particularly enlightening. Black calls it, Who Are You Showering With?

“When you shower in the morning, take a moment or two to notice who has ‘joined’ you… Who are you thinking about–perhaps it is your boss, or colleagues at work, maybe it is someone you are going to see later that day, or perhaps it is someone you talked to yesterday. It might be your partner, your children, your parents, your next-door neighbor.. How many people are in the shower with you?

“Then, begin focusing on the physical sensations of showering… the water running off your skin… the temperature of the water… the soap lathering up between your fingers. Notice when you experience a sensation of delight or when there might be a feeling of pushing away or dislike. There is not a right way to shower and whether we are invigorating ourselves first thing in the morning, simply shampooing our hair, or cooling off after a hot day, all we are doing is paying attention to the act of taking a shower.

“Tip: Identifying who turns up in the shower regularly may give you some helpful feedback on where you preoccupations are at any one time.” 

Try this out this weekend. It’s amazing where our mind goes and who it goes with during such a short, sublime time of the day. Can you stay in the moment? Can you be with your own sensations of pleasure. I promise…you’ll like this one.

3. EcoConnection: Earthing

A few years ago,my father brought my attention to a book and video about “Earthing.” He sends me the most interesting things to read about, or to watch on youtube and documentaries. This was one.

Earthing is based on the idea that connecting to the earth physically, say by walking barefoot or lying down on the lawn, actually transmits the electrons from the Earth into our bodies. That in turn, is supposed to be beneficial for our physical and emotional wellbeing.

Because it is hard for some people to actually step (bare)foot on the ground (maybe because of urban dwelling or extreme temperatures for example), people have designed a device that you can attach to your feet while you sleep. It is “grounded” in the Earth somehow and is supposed to be able to transmit those healing electrons into your body.

I don’t know about the device. I’ve never tried it…yet. (I’m up for anything!) But I definitely believe in the healing power of nature.

So this weekend, let’s all agree that we’re going to get our green on!

Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

One way or another, let’s get into nature. Yes, hug a tree. Yes, smell the roses. Yes, lie in the grass. Sit and be still…listen to the sounds of nature and notice the feel of the air on your skin. Notice a bug and watch it as it lives in its moment. Give thanks for the astounding biological system all around you of which you are just a small participant. Let yourself revel in that smallness.

Then tell me if you don’t feel just a little bit better!

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Weekend To-Do (Good) List

You know how it works. Life As a Wave is focused on recognizing our connection with each other, our inner selves, Source, the animal kingdom, and the natural world around us. Our relationships with these elements of life require our personal responsibility to make more positive connection.  In short, we all have the chance and the calling to DO GOOD. God knows the world needs more of it.

It’s not always easy, but this list makes it easier. This weekend, take some time to nurture your connections and make them more positive. Have fun with it and spread the word!

~~~S Wave~~~

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1. Autism Awareness Day

April is Autism Awareness Day and the 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day. By now you probably know that the growing rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is startling. It is the fastest growing developmental disability. In March, the CDC released new statistics for autism prevalence, 1 in 68 children. It was 1 in 88 just a few years ago.

This is a life-long disability with varying degrees of impairments. There isn’t a cure for ASD, much less a known cause. While the scientific world scrambles for understanding amidst competing possible factors, the therapeutic services such as speech and language pathology, occupational therapy and behavior interventions continue to bring support and skill development to individuals with ASD and their families at the average annual family cost of $60,000.

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Whether or not you personally know someone with ASD, your life will be impacted by this disorder, if in no other way than by the growing percentage of individuals with ASD that will be in our shared communities in years to come. Families raising a child with autism need support. They need understanding and community. This mother, a parent of 3 girls with autism, explains why and how she would like to see Autism Awareness Month become Autism Action Month in :

My three daughters are autistic. I despise Autism Awareness Month.

Her suggestions in the last paragraph are worth directly quoting. They are:

1. Give to an organization that provides service dogs for autistic children.

2. Serve as a volunteer as an autism buddy.

3. If your child has a classmate on the spectrum, invite that classmate to your child’s next birthday party.

4. You know that cashier at the grocery store who doesn’t look at you as she takes care of your order? Smile at her, even if she does not smile back.

Will you begin to transform your awareness into action?

2. Cosmetic Testing

This is Easter weekend and you can’t help but think of cute, fuzzy bunnies. Last week we warned against buying a rabbit for a gift for this holiday. There is, however, a way that you can honor and celebrate the long-eared cotton-tailed cutie patooties this weekend. Make an effort to stop the use of rabbits in cosmetic product testing!

I know that the questions of animal testing for scientific advancement is whole separate complicated issue. But, can we agree that testing on rabbits to develop better face soaps and eyeliners is a barbaric practice with no real value? Even for household products, shouldn’t we all be trying to use natural ingredients anyway that don’t require testing of all kinds of chemicals and toxins??

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If you agree, here are some things you can do:

First, look for the Leaping Bunny symbol on cosmetic and household products before you purchase. No bunny, no money!

Second, commit to a fresh, cruelty-free start. Take a look in for medicine cabinet and under your sink. Do you have products with these brands on them:

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If so, are you willing to throw them out and find a more animal-friendly replacement? This is one I’m going to do for sure. I know I have some of these brands hiding out in my house. Time for spring cleaning!

Third, talk talk talk! Spread the word, especially on Easter. You can’t walk your talk if you don’t have any talk to begin with. Tell people how you feel about this kind of testing and make a pact with them to make a change.

 3. Gratitude Practice

Today is Good Friday, a Christian remembrance day of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is also the first day of Passover, the Jewish remembrance of the Israelite’s divinely-guided escape from Egyptian enslavement. It is a day of gratitude, a virtue celebrated by leading religions and faiths worldwide. A virtue also that has been shown to be good for a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health.

passoverToday, no matter what you personally celebrate, I think we can take this divine energy of gratitude that is so strong in our hearts today and share it with people around us. Doing so honors God, honors yourself, and honors others. Here are some ways:

Happy-Good-Friday-2015-Quotes1First, think of one person (at least!) who has done something for you recently without a “thank you.” Maybe you forgot to say it…maybe you were in a hurry…maybe you were withholding a bit?  Now go give them a genuine “thank you.” Look them in the eye when you say it, touch their hand or give them a hug.

Second, think of one person (at least!) who has wronged you without saying, “I’m sorry.” Maybe they forgot to say it…maybe they were in a hurry…maybe they were withholding a bit.  In your heart, forgive them. Try thinking of all the reasons you can be thankful for having them in your life. Even the most challenging person can be seen as someone who has helped us grow and strengthen so there is at least ONE reason to be grateful for everyone.

Third, resolve to embark on a Gratitude Month…or Week…or Year…whatever you feel works best for you! Every day, start the morning with a statement of gratitude for something. Share it with others and carry it with you throughout your day. For a great guide on doing a 21-day gratitude challenge click here.

I’ll kick us off by telling you all that I appreciate every single moment that you have taken out of your days to read these words that I write with love. Writing Life As a Wave is one of the most treasured tasks I have ever taken on. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of if.

Have a beautiful weekend. If you are celebrating a holy holiday, may it be a blessed time with family and friends.

With gratitude,

~~~S Wave~~~

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