Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mindfulness (on the Go)

It can be a real challenge to stay present and balanced in today's world. We all have our routines that hopefully include an active creative and spiritual practice, but even with that, there are times when things get really busy and you feel out of sync. So, what can you do to stay centered when things are moving too fast?

You may be driving to work, getting your children ready for school, answering e-mails at your office, and lost in the jumble of your thoughts. So, most importantly, stop for a moment and begin to pay attention to your breath. This will always bring you back to the present moment.

Then, take that moment you have just opened up and expand on it, by creating an impromptu sacred space, wherever you are. You can do this completely within your own thoughts. As you follow your breath, turn off the radio or the television, and give yourself the room to focus on your thoughts and intentions.

We don't always realize this, but the various forms of stimulation we bring into our environment affect our mental outlook, both to our benefit and detriment. Radio, television, and the internet are deeply influential in that regard.

With that in mind, I like to open up the silence in my morning drive time by improvising a new mantra each day. Yesterday, I began to chant the simple "Alleluia" chorus that I remembered from my days of going to Catholic Mass. As I chanted this mantra, I began to visualize my heart chakra, and to literally see the doors of my heart opening, and the word "Alleluia" written in calligraphy on a scroll that unrolled from my heart and extended into space.

Visualization exercises such as these are invaluable to reframing your perspective and manifesting positive activity in your life. My intention with this particular visualization is to sketch it in my journal, but this will have to wait until my schedule slows just a little.

This entire chanting meditation only took a couple of minutes, a brief interlude in an otherwise busy day. And yet, it completely changed my outlook, from a compulsive rush to activity, into a more reflective and relaxed place.

There are any number of ways that you can reset yourself throughout the day. A quick step into nature, even if it's just a small green space in the heart of the city can work wonders. A song on your playlist, whether it has words or just a positive instrumental vibration can inspire you. Briefly focusing your attention on a lit votive candle or the feeling of the water as you shower, can both help to calm the mind.

Basically, anything that gets you to pause for a moment and puts a smile on your face can refresh and bring you back to mindfulness, no matter how simple it may be.

As an exercise, and a go to reference for when times are super busy and you don't feel centered, make a list of all the different ways that you can take a moment and find yourself in the midst of a busy day. By doing that, you will be better prepared for when those days come along.

So next time I'm chanting my mantra out on my morning drive, and see you, I'll wave to you as a reminder to us both that this day is ours to create and be mindful of the beauty within and around us.

Have fun creating your life (even on the run) today!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Inspiration (to Breathe and Create)

Do you sometimes feel stuck? Stuck in your life situation and wishing that you could be somewhere else and your life could be different? While we are called to be present in this moment and its circumstances, it is also, so important to creatively imagine that place we are stepping into next.

Let's try this!

Today I choose to live from a place of inspiration. I will find my higher place and begin to reimagine my life. When fear calls, I will use it, by acknowledging and then shifting the thought to a higher vibration, one of trust and adventure. Trust, that by following my heart, I am walking the true and honest path for my life, and that I will be rewarded for that. Adventure, in that I can let go of fear and dive into the excitement of the experience as it unfolds.

By making the transition from fear to inspiration, I open up to possibilities that did not exist before this moment. When we are in a place of fear and mistrust, we shut down physically, emotionally, spiritually. It is our attempt to find a safe and secure space, but it also closes us off from the limitless possibilities that exist when we are in co-creation with the universe.

Being inspired does not mean that we keep our heads in the sand. On the contrary, we are intended to be fully aware of our circumstances. As the twelve step programs tell us, we are to make a fearless and honest appraisal of our lives and selves. But, once having done that, we are then free to imagine our life, and the great potential that it holds for us.

Let's do an experiment today, and try the following:
The root word for inspire in Latin is inspirare. It literally means "to breathe in".

Take a few minutes to be in a quiet place. Be aware of your breathing. Breath coming in, breath going out. Your breath is the first sign that reminds you of the place of inspiration.

Now settling in, open your journal and write for a few minutes on how you see your life, just as it is right now. Next, take a few minutes and step into the place of your imagination where you can see your future life, just as you want it to be. Write as complete a description as you are able.

There is a gap, an unknown space between those two experiences, one of the you in the present, and one of the you in the future. Don't try to understand how you will get from this place to that one. Rather, focus on that feeling place of where you want to be. Visualize it as much as possible throughout your day. Draw, write about, or collect pictures that represent your new life. And, throughout the day, repeat this prayer as often as it comes to mind:

Today, I open the doors of my heart. I open them to life, to new experiences, to all the potential that is in me.

Have a wonderful day as you live from the heart!