Being Present

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Being present means living in the moment. Being present means enjoying right now instead of replaying past events or role playing possible future scenarios. There is a time for each of these to take place, but when it’s time to be present, it’s good to be able to relax into the moment at hand. It’s a skill worth mastering.

Our ability to be present depends a lot on having good boundaries. Your boundaries should be intentional and unapologetic. Keeping good control and understanding of what you want and need helps you to stay “in the moment” and enjoy more. Having weak or undefined boundaries makes you more likely to be passive or let others define them for you. Taking responsibility for yourself avoids the opportunity for others to take control of us. At the same time, respecting other’s boundaries will demonstrate how you want to be treated.  This means often letting go of our attachment to outcomes and need to control each result. Inner peace comes from letting the outcomes naturally play out in each moment without judgement or attachment. Being present means paying attention to yourself and whether you are trying to alter the moment and outcome instead of just observing and accepting it.

When you add judgment, comparison, or competition to the present moment, you are no longer being present. If you can let go of what you think “should” be happening or what “might have been” then you can more easily let go and enjoy being present. There will be enough time to lick your past wounds later. Trust that you can handle this moment, you deserve to enjoy what’s happening now and you will be capable of juggling whatever is thrown your way next. “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure” -author unknown 

Do you have a mind that constantly races in every direction? One way to bring yourself into the present is to learn how to quiet your mind and focus on what matters right now. Taking yourself out of the moment and becoming an observer when you begin to feel anxious or fearful may help you to gain insight into whether or not this moment really requires that response. Fully experience this moment until it’s time to move on to the next. Being an observer of yourself may help you learn more about what triggers those moments of fear and anxiety. Knowledge is power. Observe and breathe…

The moments are going to keep happening. Fighting against the moment does not make it go slower. Each moment comes when it is supposed to come. Take a big, deep breath in. Now let it out slowly. You either took the time and felt present enough to enjoy that breath, or you rushed through it to see what was next. Each breath happens, quick or slow is an illusion and a judgement that you put on those moments. Time never speeds up, time never slows down. Even if you fight against the present moment it will still happen and still move at the same speed. Change will happen, change keeps coming. No matter how hard you try, you can only breath in OR out… never both at the same time. Each breath comes when it is time. 

Staying present means realizing that you can only do one thing at a time. Whether it be work, pleasure, obligation or otherwise, multi-tasking with either your body or mind is just not possible. Being able to do several things in quick succession with great ease should not be confused with multi-tasking. Complete one thing, then move on to the next.

Let time move and change and flow while just being within the movement of each moment. The less expectation of the next moment, the more you can fully enjoy the present. Reflection has it’s time and the process of learning involves thinking beyond the moment at hand and there will be time for all that too. But, when you can live and breathe in the now….. just be.

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Plateau Busting Purple and Orange Clouds

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I love sunsets.  I love that time of day when the energy and hurried rush of the day begin to calm, the sun drops down in the sky and light begins to fade.  It’s that nightly curtain call that gives me time to take a breath and delight in the majestic splendor of the sky as it changes colors and dims.  This is my favorite time of day to be outside.  I love being able to sit quietly as the sun sets and let my mind wander as I revel in it’s beauty and let go for a while.  I like to slip into my thoughts and recommit to being kind to myself.  I enjoy listening to music, sitting in deep thought and letting the light disappear around me.

It’s been a while since I sat and enjoyed this time of day the way I like to.  Last night, I happen to be outside at twilight and I realized how long it had been since I took a moment to enjoy this opportunity, reflect and slow down.  So I did.

As I looked at the sky of purple and orange clouds, I realized that I have slowed down on my journey, even hit a plateau.  I longed to feel lifted and inspired.  I started to think about what this could mean for me and why I may be feeling this way.  There could be a lesson here for me.  A spiritual plateau is a place to rest.  Or, it may be a test.  It can be a time to stabilize, absorb, collect, receive and integrate all that I have learned.

I’m hoping to catch my breath and push farther for greater growth after this rest. But rest is also important.  I want to keep growing, use the tools and be in the moment. Resting doesn’t have to mean slipping backwards, it presents a chance to practice what we have cultivated.

Feeling a spiritual plateau can present a great opportunity to take a look around.  Maybe you are coming up against something you have dealt with before and have never been able to push through.  Are you feeling stagnant against familiar road blocks?  Maybe now you have more power to break them down. The journey continues, so break them down or move them aside this time.  See the opportunity and push forward, don’t let it pull you under. Your hardest challenges present your biggest opportunities for growth.

And then I started to imagine myself on the other side of this plateau.  Where am I going and what is next for me?  I started to feel a bit of inspiration and anticipation… could just recognizing the plateau be enough to move past it?

Today I played tennis for the first time in a few weeks.  I’ve been taking lessons for a year now and today was the first day of the new session.  It was good to feel my strong legs under me after not playing for a while.  Last year when I started to learn the game I felt nervous and clumsy, but today I felt strong and ready to play.  At the end of last session I was feeling frustrated, like I had hit a plateau.  So, as I started to volley, I recalled my thoughts from the night before about how I was feeling spiritually stagnant.  I started to realize the parallel between my physical game and my mental game.  So I took a moment to visualize myself playing well and set an intention to use thoughtful and mindful swings and volleys.  I took my time and followed through each shot.  The lessons I had learned over the past year all seemed to click and flow and I played the best tennis of my life.  I’m still a beginner, but I felt a confidence today that I haven’t felt since I started playing.

I broke right through my plateau.

So I’m riding the wave after my tennis lesson today, it was a nice little boost for me.  I needed that.  And now I’m feeling more open to receiving what is next for me on my journey.  It’s up to us to see the possibilities available and only you can create opportunities to see things in a plateau busting way.  When you feel stuck or stale, like you need some inspiration, just look around and see it… it’s all around you waiting to be discovered.

Every evening gives you an opportunity to reflect.  Every day is a new chance to renew a promise or redefine your path.  And, every morning is a gift.  Tear off the wrapping and get excited to see what’s in store!  How would your life be different if you started each day as if it was going to be nothing short of amazing?!

My Version of Eat, Pray, Love

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With a mindful attempt at focusing on my heart-mind connection, I set off on my own version of Eat, Pray, Love except mine was more Spa, Solace, Family.  Along the way, I got a chance to settle into a few versions of myself that I normally don’t get to enjoy.  At home, “me time” normally lasts a few hours at most and is spent in the aisles of the grocery store or meeting a friend for coffee.  The luxury of unwinding and relaxing into myself was a welcomed gift.  I was hoping to mindfully direct attention toward some of my less attended to “parts” that had been neglected for far too long.  I needed to find balance, I needed to find harmony.  I was lacking the sense of wholeness that yields happiness and like the tin man waiting impatiently rusting in the field, my parts needed to be oiled.  During three recent and varied journeys, I was able to enjoy and reflect on how variation and taking a break can help you reflect and achieve balance.

My first journey took me to Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona where I was able to enjoy a bit of pampering and spiritual growth along side two wonderful girlfriends and a few other amazing ladies we met along the way.  It was an inspirational few days spent among the red rocks enjoying hiking, massages, chakra balancing, meditation, and even a bath of milk and honey.  I had time to do some beneficial spiritual reflection and left feeling light and energized, ready to get back to my life with a sense of desire to apply what I had discovered to my daily life.  Interesting that some time away from my life brought me a keener sense of reality.

The next leg of my journey took me out of the red rocks and into Phoenix where I dropped off my traveling companions and checked myself into a beautiful hotel in Scottsdale to spend some time alone.  I got to catch up with a few close friends, but this time was about going inside and staying within myself for a change.  I didn’t know how much I had needed this time alone until I took it and the balance it gave me was both welcomed and surprising.  Sometimes it’s not clear where the balance will come from or where the pieces will fit until you gently let them fall at you and find their place.  Letting go and following the flow has it’s own quiet calm, like watching water rise and fill crevices and trusting and knowing that it knows just where to go.

A week later I was off on yet another vacation to relax as a family and let my daughters spend some quality time with their grandparents in Florida.  A different type of trip completely where I was reminded that having us all together is what life is all about.  Family is love and love is family.

From these three experiences, I felt balance.  I see the need for all of these kinds of escapes to recharge and gain momentum in different ways.  Finding this kind of balance has been a missing part of my self-care, and I plan to explore more ways to get out of my comfort zone and take a little more time for myself.  I’ve been shown that a bit of true “me time” is good for my balanced soul.  There is a fine line between self-care and being selfish and the debate continues over where that line exists.  The truth is that it looks different for everyone and getting to know yourself and your needs make that line clear as day.  It’s possible to find solace and pockets of time to recharge and reflect reasonably within your own life, but getting out of your life and having new experiences always presents the opportunity for added perspective.  And, though the true definition of balance may literally mean ‘even distribution’, sometimes just a bit of divergence can lead to a major shift and provide the balance you need.

photo taken at Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona

It’s Not Easy Being Zen

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Finding and keeping your balance means existing with a connection between your heart and your mind.  When what you desire and what you consciously believe are in harmony, you have peace.  Balance is a fickle, tricky ongoing orchestra of moving parts and effort.  Having balance leads to being happy.  Happiness is having a sense of wholeness, that all your parts have enough attention and love.  Like mothering multiple children, all of your many parts need attention and kindness in different ways.  Each part needs and deserves your undivided, mindful attention and energy to attend to it’s needs of the moment.  But in this busy life, it’s hard to find the time to focus on ourselves let alone separate that time out into finding time to attend to each part of ourselves.  So, balance often remains elusive, but with some reflection you can achieve congruence in heart and mind.

The more you have piled on your shoulders, the harder it is to achieve balance.  Whether weighed down by obligation or caught up in unfounded theories behind why life has handed you certain challenges, a good way to regain balance is to begin by figuratively and literally putting it all down to consider what you need.  Imagine an overly cluttered room.  In your mind, remove every bit of furniture, artwork, clutter, anything in that room to get down to a bare space where you can begin again.  Mindfully refurnish that room with only the things that you need and desire.  How did that room feel before?  How does it feel now?  Which room would you rather live in?

Finding balance may be easiest when you don’t try so hard.  I struggled and stretched inside my box and felt trapped and limited, but when I unplugged and left it all behind for a while I took some meaningful steps farther down my path.  A few recent getaways did the trick.  I took some “me time”.  Now that I’m back from my version of Eat, Pray, Love (blog post coming soon) I feel recharged and ready to step back into my daily routine with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.  Everyone needs a break from their worries and in coming back to life with a clear head we are better able to find our balance.

After taking some time to separate out and care for my parts that needed attention I feel better.  When I let go and let life flow I realize how much unfounded theory I attach to many of my thoughts.  When I unplugged from my routine, my mind was more willing to loosen it’s grasp on those stressful patterns and simply see and accept things for what they truly are.  Instead of living with disharmony, I am able to feel the ease and lightness of a bit more peace.

I put a lot of effort into moving through life more effortlessly…. I see the irony now.  I need to loosen my grip even on that.  Feeling more peace is so much different than searching for it.  There is a significant shift from swimming vigorously upstream to letting yourself float quietly downstream.  The universe still embodies the same flow whether I fight against it or not.

photo above is of my new friend Ken, the frog of karma and zen

Finding Zen In Organization

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The act of organizing seems so un-zen, but a completely organized, clutter-free abode is so completely zen that I’m feeling myself being pulled in that direction.  I’m so acutely aware of my surroundings lately that it’s like I’m seeing my clutter with new eyes.  It’s as if I’m a new visitor judging another’s piles of stuff and feeling the need to weed through the chaos.

I enjoy the feeling of a comfortable, lived-in home.  I want you to come in and feel like you can relax, sit wherever you want, and let your kids run around and touch stuff.  Kick off your shoes, grab a drink and plop down on the couch for a nice chat.  I grew up in a house that felt that way and I aim to make my house as welcoming and cozy as my parent’s home.  Between my husband, myself and two toddlers we have a lot of stuff.  The problem is keeping it all in check.  I don’t want my guests to come in and see piles of papers, toys and laundry and have to take flying leaps over shoes, backpacks and dolls.  This family needs to find a way to get organized, and as the Mom, I’m in charge of “Project Organize This House!”  As of right now, it feels like my ducks are pretty far from being all in a row.

I can’t organize an entire house at once, I have to organize one room at a time.  So, the first thing I need to do is make a list of rooms in order of their priority.  Which room overhauls will make the biggest difference for my family?  Which changes will make our lives flow easier?  In which rooms can I uncover the most happiness for my family?

Here is my plan of attack:

1. Family Room

2. Girl’s Rooms and Bathroom

3. Master Bedroom and Bathroom

4. Laundry Room/Storage Room

5. Linen Closet

6. Coat Closet

7. Playroom

8. Kitchen

9. Office

10. Garage

I’m allowing myself 8 weeks to complete this task and granting myself a reward if I am able to complete the entire task on time.  I believe a day at the spa will be in order, that seems pretty zen to me….om.

myhappypromise

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