Note to self:
When people are in a frantic, manic, stressed out or washed out state, they are not in a place which affords them the ability to listen and absorb well-intentioned feedback.
No matter how good the suggestions are in attempts to alleviate their turmoil – even if they’re actively asking for input – it is not the time for solution based, problem solving tactics.
Amid such experiences of hardship or heightened states of dismay, the order at hand is to express unconditional, unwavering, unbounded acceptance, understanding, and love.
Tag Archives: happiness
Inspired by a blog post from: https://mywellbeingandlearningjourney.wordpress.com/, I thought I’d try my hand at following her lead:
50 Things That Make Me Happy
- Spending time with friends
- Taking photos
- The hours of early morning
- Community building
- Hosting potlucks at my house
- Animal friends
- My husband
- My stepson
- Taking road trips
- Pumping up my old Coleman camp stove
- Going on solo ventures
- Going on mindfulness retreats
- Deer Park Monastery
- Hearing about a loved one’s good news
- Being silly
- The soft glow of Christmas lights
- Buying little presents or cards for friends
- Engaging in random acts of kindness
- My dayplanner
- Organizing stuff
- Being efficient
- Volunteering with hospice and meeting with patients
- Planning events that help bring people together in an atmosphere of heartfulness
- Crows & ravens
- Recalling memories of spending time at the Jersey Shore when I was growing up
- Sitting with my sangha Be Here Now every Monday night
- Camp fires
- Good tea
- Soaking in primitive hot springs
- Hiking to the ‘M’ and overlooking the city of Missoula
- Spending time in hammocks
- Listening to the sound of meditation bells & wind chimes
- Seeing someone smile
- The experience of flight travel
- Properly cooked tofu :)
I could keep going…but I think I’ll keep to the prompt and stick to 50.
May this list inspire you in similar accord to how I was inspired. Let us get our happiness on together!
Lately, I’ve been reveling in the ability to thoroughly enjoy both staying at home and venturing out and about under the summer sun of Montana. In both instances, I am delighting in my own company. It’s a mark of inner contentment, I think, to feel at ease wherever we are. And I need not travel even one step to find where home is. I carry it within me. I am never without it.
My Happy Place(s)
My happy place is on a motorcycle, cruising at 70 over a smooth ribbon of asphalt.
My happy place is on a SUP board, on any body of water that will have me.
My happy place is being perched in front of a blank sheet of paper, with a blue P-500 in my hand.
My HP is in the woods, surrounded by elder trees and ancient wisdom.
My HP is on my meditation cushion, cultivating ease and spaciousness.
My HP is in the kitchen, preparing food to feed my friends.
My HP is next to a campfire, with a cup of tea and a guitar.
My HP is being solo on the road, inhaling music through my pores and exhaling it through my lungs.
My HP is in the Mission Lookout Tower, intimately rekindling my love affair with the sun and moon.
My HP is behind a set of drums, allowing others the chance to get their African dance on.
My HP is my humble abode, in a town I adore, close to my people.
My HP is Deer Park Monastery.
My HP is Banff National Park.
My HP is anywhere I haven’t been.
My HP is in the here and now.
My HP is doing something silly.
My HP is playing with small children.
My HP is watching fireworks.
My HP is within me.
More HP pics:
In a word, meditation allows me to build the quality of spaciousness. So, the way I see it: meditation = the practice of creating space.
Without a close kinship to, and practice of, spaciousness, our habit energies and conditioned behaviors run the show. They fuel and propel every thought we think, word we say, and action we engage in. And oftentimes, that fuel is old, gnarly and gunks up the whole system. It’s not clean burning fuel. It leaves foul, blackened smoke in its wake.
Developing, deepening, and expanding our relationship with spaciousness is elemental in our ability and capacity to live a kind, skillful, balanced, and well-contented life.
This is how I have it worked out: without spaciousness, we are led around by our reactionary tendencies, which are guided by past experiences. And sometimes that works out okay. And other times not so much.
For instance, just this morning, I think it was my level of spaciousness that afforded me the ability to not go into a frazzled meltdown, when confronted with the reality that I was not the only one who thought of arriving at the Motor Vehicle Division office prior to their opening at 8am. At 7:45am, I was somewhere in the neighborhood of being person #25, with more folks funneling in after me every minute. My number was called to the title transaction counter at 9:45am.
And it’s these sort of moments that show us where we’re at: spiritually/mentally/emotionally speaking. How is it we weather such times as standing around, waiting for our number to be called out – being in places we’d rather not be? How do we occupy our waiting time? How do we tend to our mindscape? How do we show up and interact with others, when faced with such states of inconvenience and displeasure? It’s worth personally investigating these occasions, as these moments will likely show us more about ourselves than anything else.
The quality of spaciousness allows us to respond, verses react. Responding requires conscious participation, whereas reactions are built in. In moments of discomfort or upset, it’s never the actual whatever it is that’s happening that creates the problem we’re experiencing. What unfolds is largely dependent on whether we’re engaging from a state of reacting or responding. Are we making ourselves a victim or are we claiming responsibility for our choices? This is the crux of figuring ourselves out, and growing along the path of practicing mindfulness.
Spaciousness is what allows us to see things as they really are – to see ourselves and others as they really are. It opens up the doorway to freedom and liberation from suffering. Spaciousness is what makes ease, joy, and healing possible. Without spaciousness, little, if anything, can change.
While it may not seem like we’re doing much by sitting daily in meditation, whether for 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes, in reality it’s the most beneficial use of our precious time. Keep sitting, dear friends. Our health and well-being depends on it.
Today’s post on my writer’s facebook page:
This is me willing my voice to be strong and dynamic come showtime. This is me doing a metaphorical shout-out to whatever mythological god is in charge of creative surges and vocal wellness, in hopes that they will anoint me with the magical powers bestowed upon them.
This is me flirting with the incredibly disturbing possibility that I will not be in top form when the time comes.
This is me coming to terms with the simple and sticky truth that despite my actions or power of will – despite how much I’ve prepared, invested in, and advertised – the reality of laryngitis could swoop in and change everything. And there wouldn’t be a thing I could do to stop it.
Today’s post on my personal facebook page:
For those of you who don’t know, I experience frequent and chronic bouts of laryngitis throughout the year. Welp. My ol’ friend has come calling again – and just in time for my big show coming up!
I’m relatively confident I will regain vocal function by Friday but I’m pulling out all the stops this weekend, including heeding the advice from my good friend Ashly: a day of vocal rest. Here’s the sign I fashioned to show Jaden & Mike when they woke up this morning (see pic above)
An email I sent tonight @ 6:19pm to my team of three friends who have wonderfully agreed to help me on the evening of my upcoming gig:
Hi team :)
Sooo, as you may know (from social media or me texting you), my ol friend laryngitis has seen fit to visit me. Hooray! Just in time for my upcoming show! :)
I read online that cortisone steroids can help so I went to the doc and got those and started taking them today. Since I still have a few days to rest up, I feel fairly confident that I’ll be up in vocal functioning by Friday but it’s really hard to know for sure. In the past, my L bouts last typically 4-7 days, but sometimes it takes over a week for me to regain proper function.
As a precaution I’d super appreciate hearing any input/feedback/ideas you might have for a plan B, in the event I’m unable to perform on Friday. Do I postpone until a later undisclosed date? Do I simply cancel altogether? Do I still hold the show but figure out something else to do? Hmm.
Thank goodness for the practice of mindfulness and being able to stay well grounded in the present moment even amid life’s unexpected twists and turns – while this is certainly not ideal and I’m REALLY hoping I can perform come Friday, I’m aware too that life is impermanent; sometimes there’s only so much we can do to affect the sway of things. The worse case scenario is canceling and that’s really not the end of the world :)
Over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing a re-surfacing of an old habit energy. The sort of pattern of behavior that we all have – stemming from long ago – that we thought was relegated to the past. The kind we think we had transformed and grown out of. Yeah, it’s like that.
Something I’ve come to understand is that transformation of unskillful behaviors and thought patterns is an ongoing journey. So, just because something is re-surfacing now doesn’t mean the work I’ve done in the past becomes null and void. It doesn’t mean I’ve done something wrong or even that anything needs fixing. This re-surfacing simply speaks to the nature of impermanence and how everything is always changing and shifting. Deeply rooted habit energies can go dormant for long stretches of time and then re-appear, indicating that the journey continues. It’s nothing to fret or worry about. These truths comfort me during times such as this.
What interests me about this old habit energy arising is that while some part of me know it’s groundless, another part is lured in by it. Groundless in the sense that it’s based on fictitious notions and fleeting desires – full of holes, hollow. And still…
A source of suffering is to be forever tempted and swayed by something bright and shiny and new. Something outside of our grasp and ownership, whether it’s an object, an adventure, or another lover. What is it that beckons us? The prospect of a happiness we have yet to find but hope is out there? A temporary filling up of a hole we’ve been aching to not trip and fall into? What are we looking for?! What am I looking for? Am I looking for something? Is something operating subconsciously that I’m not tuned into? Or could it be that this old habit energy simply needs more tending to, more caring for, more befriending?
The more we practice to observe, accept, and embrace discomfort, the more grounded, connected, understanding, and resilient we can become as a result. Grounded in the present moment; connected to our breath and body; understanding of our own inner and outer landscapes; and resilient amid the swells of change.
As soon as we’re born, we start acting out when we’re confronted with discomfort – and for the first few months it serves a crucial function. We cry and carry on in order to communicate that we’re hungry or tired or cold or that our diaper needs changing. But it seems this sets the stage for a lifetime of detrimental behaviors accrued for the sole purpose of avoiding or managing discomfort. We would do well as parents, family members, and caretakers of young children to work on not over-manicuring the environment and experiences of our little ones. As soon as a baby starts to develop other ways of communicating – which doesn’t take long, just a few months – we can start teaching skills of mindful speech and deep listening, tools for self-care, and coping mechanisms for weathering physical and emotional discomfort. The more meticulously we try to groom the lives of our young children, attempting to keep at bay any modicum of discomfort, the more we rob them of the opportunity to practice training in the art of building strong and healthy relationships with themselves in the present moment.
We are not taught how to interact with discomfort. We are only taught how to avoid it or cover it up. I believe that most, maybe even all, detrimental/unskillful behaviors have a root embedded in a strong desire to get out of feelings of discomfort as soon as possible, and by any means necessary. We may look to numb those feelings with drugs or alcohol; or cover them up by over-working or over-eating or over-shopping or cramming our schedule with things to keep us occupied and exhausted. We may look to sex and love as an escape; we may use Netflix or TV or gaming or pornography, the list goes on and on.
The more uncomfortable we are, the more distracted we become. And this cycle perpetuates itself. So the more we give into distraction tendencies, the more uncomfortable we find ourselves. To break this cycle we need tools and practices to lean on and utilize throughout the day. So, where do we start? Here’s what I suggest, based on my own experience of what I’ve found helpful for myself: Notice when discomfort arises, ask yourself whether it’s time to step into that particular discomfort or not, and then proceed to make a plan of action based on whatever you decide.
In order to expand our capacity for skillfully tending to feelings of discomfort, we have to first be able to recognize them when they come up. As you’re going about your day, practice to pay special attention to when you start feeling “off” or fidgety, as often this can indicate such feelings of discomfort or awkwardness. Notice how often you whip out your smartphone when you don’t really need to or when you use it to avoid doing something else more important. Identify the common and frequent triggers that cause you to feel awkward or uncomfortable or self-conscious (which involves feeling as though OTHERS are looking at/judging/critiquing you). Some common causes of discomfort are: when we’re in larger social situations, when we’re by our self somewhere out in public, when we’re not in control, when we don’t feel skilled at something, or when we experience lag time or moments of quiet/silence/inactivity.
Once we know when it is we are experiencing feelings of discomfort we can then ask ourselves this important question: Is this a moment to practice stepping into it? Allow this question to settle into your body, as this will enable you to get in touch with the clearest, least obstructed answer, verses your habitual tendency to say: Nope, this isn’t the time, I’m getting the heck out of here! It’s important to know that we all generally know what to do when it comes to matters of uncertainty in our lives. The trouble is we’re either too disconnected from being able to listen well to our inherent wisdom and/or we simply don’t want to do what our inner voice is telling us to do. It’s also important to understand that every situation is different. Whereas one day we might feel ready to step into, let’s say, a social gathering where we know very few people, the next day, when the same situation presents itself, we might not. That’s normal and super okay. What’s helpful to us here is that we’re actively engaging with what’s going on and we’re making a conscious and informed decision about what to do.
So, if we decide that yes, this is a time to practice stepping into discomfort then we would do well to start with small steps in this regard. For example: If we feel uncomfortable going by ourselves to certain things then we might try flying solo to a movie that we’re wanting to see – but we might also bring along our smartphone or a book to help keep us company. One thing at a time! Or if we’re more uncomfortable when hanging out with others and more prefer to go unaccompanied to things, then we can try reaching out to a friend or two and invite them to come along with us. Or maybe we find ourselves standing in a line at the grocery store and feelings of discomfort arise and in that moment we make the decision not to reach for our phone to check our texts/emails/facebook in order to occupy our time – our practice in that moment can be to simply not take out our phones. Any time we go against the grain of our less than helpful habit energies is a victory, in terms of strengthening the energy of mindfulness. So try not to underestimate the movement and progress you make when it comes to taking small steps to accept and embrace, and not run away from, feelings of discomfort.
And if we decide that no, this is not a time I choose to step into discomfort then we would do well to practice fully allowing that decision to take affect and not second guess ourselves or give ourselves a hard time about it. There will be times to step into discomfort and times not to, for a variety of reasons. So make peace with that. And maybe, if you’re up for it, you can make an agreement with yourself to work up to something in the near future, when it comes to a particular aversion you have that brings up a lot of discomfort.
Start with small, relatively easy things and then work your way up to larger things. If we attempt to take on super big matters of discomfort before training with smaller situations, we are likely to find that we do more harm than good to ourselves in this undertaking. So set yourself up for success and start small.
Utilizing moments of discomfort can be a tool to help us cultivate our mindfulness practice and build resilience. The smaller our comfort zone is, the more we suffer when things and people don’t adhere to how we think they should be (which, let’s face it, is most of the time). And, in turn, the wider we can extend our comfort zone, the happier and more at ease we’ll be in a variety of situations. So get your practice on!
You might discover, like I did, that it’s a game changer.