Mindfulness in America

Mindfulness in America

I am still soaking in the wisdom of the conference I attended this week “Mindfulness in America”. I have studied mindfulness, I practice it daily and I teach it whenever I get a chance.  I couldn’t wait to hear from the experts in the field. I am thrilled that this powerful practice is becoming more commonplace in the western world. My concern about the “mindfulness movement” is the potential for it to be reduced to a sound bite for a t-shirt. It is so much more than a buzzword. Mindfulness, when not diluted, is about freedom from suffering, transmuting pain into resilience, and being fully present for our lives. As Anderson Cooper stated, “Mindfulness may not help me live longer, but it will help me live more fully in my life”. Mindfulness is about creating space for more possibilities, not being an expert but approaching everything as a beginner, even if you are a so-called expert. Mindfulness is about curiosity. Mindfulness is about connecting to the observer that is in all of us, the greater part of us. We are more than just our thoughts. There is that part of us that is the observer of our thoughts. Getting in touch with that Observer is like experiencing the depth of the ocean underneath the waves. That is where the peace can be found. If I don’t take time to connect with the deeper part of ME, I cannot be my best self.

The biggest obstacle to meditating for most people is the time it takes. Taking the time to meditate is a radical act of love. Do you have 15 minutes to sit and meditate? Our society places a huge emphasis on physical fitness. What about mental fitness? The biggest time thief for many of us is the time we spend lost on our devices. My intention is to start taking back my time that I spend in the wasteland of the internet. What if we shaved off 15 minutes of social media time to meditate.  And for those that find sitting on a cushion is unfathomable, I invite you to practice mindfulness walking, eating and doing almost any other task. If you would like more information on practicing mindfulness, go to my website and sign up for the monthly newsletters. There you will find free downloadable meditations and mindfulness practices. https://westchestercenterformindfulnessandwellbeing.com.

I loved playing truth or dare when I was younger. Today it still carries a thrill and a promise.  Here is the Truth of the day: We can change our future by changing our relationship to the present.  Here is the Dare: I dare you join the “Mindfulness Movement”and see for yourself the results of incorporating mindfulness in your own life.

Wishing you harmony in all areas of your life!

 

On Forgiveness

On Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a topic that has shown up a lot in the past couple of weeks. I listened to a mother who lost her son during 9/11. She spoke about the importance of forgiveness and yet, reserved the right not to forgive the terrorist organization as they showed no remorse for what they did. I listened to a holocaust survivor talk about how she forgave the Nazis and that it helped her live a more peaceful life. She went on to share that there are many fellow survivors who are angry at her for publicly forgiving the Nazis for their wrongdoing.

Forgiving is not the same as condoning. We think we are punishing others when we don’t forgive. The only people we are punishing is ourselves when we don’t forgive others for the wrongdoing that caused us harm. It is the act of holding onto our past hurts that cause us to continually re-live them. What we resist persists. The person who harmed us goes about their life with remorse, or not. Our lack of forgiveness affects us, not them. Bitterness is a terrible thing to live with. We can hold people accountable for their wrongdoing at the same time we forgive them.

What happens then if the person we need to forgive is ourselves? I work with parents, especially mothers, who beat themselves up for messing up on-the-job. If the kid gets a bad grade, we parents ask ourselves where we went wrong. Worse yet, if our child is using drugs or depressed, we blame ourselves. We think we must have done something desperately wrong to have that outcome. I know. I am a mother of four. I, myself, have wished I would have been wiser, more evolved, handled situations differently, been more skilled, over and over and over again. At the root of all this beating myself up is shame. Shame is rooted in the belief that I am not good enough.

So, if shame is the obstacle to self-forgiveness, what is the solution? The first thing to do is to see the story that we are not good enough as just that…a story. Acceptance of ourselves as the flawed humans we are is paramount to having any peace. Next, I have incorporated the idea presented by Brene Brown, author of Rising Strong, that everyone is  doing the best they can given the conditions they were brought up in and the resources or limitations they have. Many of us instantly protest this idea, claiming that people are not doing the best they can. Whether that is true or not, imagine how much less you would suffer if you adopted this belief as well. Try it out for a day.  See what it feels like to give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt.

If I am still having a hard time forgiving myself or others, I practice lovingkindness meditation. This is a process that really opens your heart with compassion for others. For free monthly meditations, click the link below and sign up for monthly newsletters. https://westchestercenterformindfulnessandwellbeing.com  September’s newsletter featured the lovingkindness meditation. I encourage everyone to do this meditation every day for a couple of weeks and see what happens. When we  practice lovingkindness we are actually re-wiring our brain and opening our hearts.

May you be happy. May you be well. May you abide in peace. May you feel safe and secure. May you feel loved and cared for. (And May I feel all those things as well!)

 

No One Would Know

No One Would Know

As we walk around through our day, there are times that NO ONE WOULD KNOW what we are dealing with, our inner turmoil. How do I know this so well? I lived it. I was the master of the “Mask”, the cloaked look that all is well, that I AM FINE when in fact, all was not well and I was in pain. How many people are walking around with demons of addiction, financial insecurity, feeling inadequate, feeling worried about their health, their children, their job or any myriad of other things? How many are anxious or even panicky and don’t want to admit it? How many are depressed and the idea of facing a beautiful day when the birds are chirping is so, so hard? I think it would be safe to say that we ALL have our demons. That is our shared humanity.  However, for many of us the demons are not shared; they are experienced in isolation, which magnifies the problem.

I started taking off my own mask when I joined a circle of people who were willing to honestly admit their darkness, their shortcomings, and their fears. I then was able to admit my own and accept that I was not unique. The reason I love doing group workshops is that when we create a circle of trust and non-judgment accepting whatever “visitor” enters, whether it be despair, anger, or grief, it is powerful indeed. We share in our common humanity and at the same time see the other person’s divine nature. It is being “seen” that heals. The mask comes off when we are seen in our wholeness. When we isolate, this is not possible. We have created an online community of shared humanity and compassionate solutions. Mindful and Compassionate Communities has a mission to create community, to educate individuals, families and communities in mindfulness and self-compassion and to empower others to face what is under the mask and share in the story “No One Would Know”.  We want to hear your story about your inner struggles that have yet to be shared openly and exist under the mask of “I AM FINE!” Join our community and share YOUR story! Use the hashtag #noonewouldknow when posting your story.

https://www.facebook.com/mindfulcompassionatecommunities/

https://westchestercenterformindfulnessandwellbeing.com