For me the fastest way to calm my ego and uplift my thoughts...and therefore my spirit is by focusing on gratitude.
The quote below (I tweaked it a bit!) is one of my favorites and I refer to it often:
"Wear gratitude like a cloak, so joyously, and it will feed every corner of your blessed, beautiful, bounty-filled life." -Rumi, respectfully edited by Stephanie
Gratitude isn't something to celebrate only on Thanksgiving. For many of us, it's how we live, or strive to live.
Being grateful is being joyful! Easy, no? So, I decided to come up with a simple game to help keep me on the path of gratitude.
As I speak about in my book, Reclaiming JOY, how we are being (grateful or not, loving or not...) determines the quality of our doing...and this is how we experience life. It's a big deal!!!
Here's the game:
1. Grab paper and pen (or your cell phone).
2. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
3. Write down as many kind words as possible about yourself that begin with theletter of your first name. (I.e. Stephanie: Still, Silly, Self-Loving). The key is to write words you "know" you are...and even more importantly, write words you wish to become.
4. For the rest of the year, look at this every morning and night. Add to it!
Extra Credit: Share and play this game with a spouse, partner, child, friend, co-worker...etc.
Last week I wrote about how many of us expend our precious energy on a priority list of things/people/activities that simply don't nourish, feed, or bring us joy. I suggested ways to begin taking action with the idea that in order to be successful, small, consistent steps work best.
This week I want to talk about peace. I don't know how your past week has been. Mine has been a test of how I maintain my inner peace when it seems there is a sense of unrest all around me. In particular, I have had many conversations where I have provoked others and have been provoked myself. You see, I love intelligent, conscious communication, in particular when opinions differ. I feel differences naturally bring up a certain amount of provocation in conversation and that often moves us to say our truth, even if it's painful for us to admit and for some to hear. What I notice is that often in the midst of these sometimes challenging conversations, the mind gets confused. The result is that some of us go into defensive mode and the wall comes up. Others get into offensive mode and launch an all out attack. Either way, what ends up happening is meaningful communication ceases- the ears close, and so does the heart. We often end up behaving in ways we later regret. In these "heated" moments it's easy to allow our mind to take over. When our mind does take over, it's hard to come to a peaceful place even with the best intentions.
There's good news!! For those persistent and willing to engage, it is possible to walk away with differing views and still feel at peace.
By having courage. I say this because over the years I have engaged in many "intense, challenging, uncomfortable, provocative" conversations in an attempt to create peace. The single ingredient that has enabled me to do so is courage-- the courage to trust my heart, speak my voice and commit to peace, above all else.
I sometimes refer to these conversations as "an experiment in conscious communication", which is an art. It happens when we are able to express ourselves from a place of love with the intention of both people walking away feeling seen, heard and respected. It's a powerful practice and one I will be offering as a workshop in the future.
In the meantime, reflect on an area of your life where you would like more peace. Do you have the courage to begin or deepen the conversation? Are you willing to share and show your heart fully? If not, why not? For many, fear blocks us. If this is true for you, acknowledge your fear and invite courage to join you.
It's often in my meditation practice where I find the words and the energy to embrace courage...and therefore peace.
Recently I shared with you a reading and reflection exercise on JOY.
Did you listen? What did the reflection exercise reveal to you?
This writing is a continuation of noticing where your energy is flowing. As some of you know, I had the privilege of spending the weekend at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health for a Rest & Relaxation Retreat (pictured left). During this time I attended a workshop on "Aligning Intentions with Action". The workshop was a powerful reminder that many of us expend our precious energy on a priority list of things/people/activities that simply don't nourish, feed, or bring us joy. For example, self-care rituals like massage, meditation and yoga may deeply nourish us, yet these activities are at the bottom of the list, or not on the list at all.
Why/how does this happen? Many reasons! For now the invitation is to first take the exercises from last week and notice what specifically brings you joy/nourishes you. Second, begin re-organizing your list of priorities to align with what brings you joy.
Third, take small, consistent actions on the re-organized list.
For example, perhaps mindfulness is important to you. One small action you might take in this direction would be pausing for 5 breaths before each meal. This will help create mindfulness about how the food tastes and perhaps even how it makes you feel (think food-mood connection...it's real).
Once you "master" pausing before eating, perhaps add a pause and 5 breaths at transition times throughout your day. These times might be when you: wake up, get in your car/transportation, arrive at work, a meeting or social outing, come home, get into bed and anytime in between.
Remember - lasting change happens with small steps done consistently.
If you want to learn more about energy, which I consider our #1 asset, read more here.
Have fun with this process of discovery and your decision to make JOY a priority. Give yourself permission...I promise it's well worth the effort.
Joy: A Reading & Reflection
Last week I write about powerfully simple practices I learned during my shamanic energy training about creating stillness. I emphasized that as we make sweetness a priority, we eventually live into experiencing the stillness of our soul...deep peace, love and JOY.
Now I want to share with you a reading I did from my book, Reclaiming JOY: Your 4-Step Guide to Happy Healthy & Free.
My intention in sharing is to inspire you to find even more ways to experience JOY and then do it!!
This picture is from the beach I go to every chance I get. Walking on the beach, no matter what time of year, completely balances my body, mind and spirit. Being connected with the beauty of nature helps me access the stillness of my soul, my true self...JOY. How sweet (and simple) it is!
The reading from my book is less than 8 minutes. At the end of the reading is a simple reflection exercise for you. Go ahead. Schedule time for yourself, light a candle, get comfy and enjoy.
Here's the link...easy to download & listen to on I-Phone, etc!
The only way to "do meditation wrong" is not to do it at all. Truth.
Some days my meditation is blissful and beautiful. Other days it isn't!
I do it anyway. Lately my feline friend has been wanting to sit on my lap. There was a time when I wouldn't allow her to.
Why? Because someone told me it was "wrong".
Now I laugh and say: "of course, sit with me and tell me
your wisdom"!!! And she does :)
Looking for a yummy guided relaxation meditation?
Receive mine here.