New Beginnings

“There’s a universal life force that supports and orchestrates everything. It all works together in perfect harmony. You are one of those moving parts.” -Wayne Dyer

Happy New Year darlings!

The new year is an auspicious time of the year to set goals, intentions, and resolutions of all kinds. A popular tool for doing so is a vision board. There are all sorts of classes, workshops, webinars and how-tos that help us design, create, and execute our very own vision board. All we need to do is google “vision board” and there are sites upon sites to explore and help us create one.

Why are vision boards so popular? Because there is most definitely a power in visualization and manifestation. After all, we are divine co-creators in this most powerful, comical and magical universe.

The art of vision boarding has become quite profitable to say the least, as we can see when we google them. We see supplies and resources of all kinds. In reality though, all we need are scissors, old magazines, glue, poster board and, if we prefer, a nice picture frame that we can use to display our creation.

Currently, I have two vision boards hanging. One is more of a life visioning board in that the images and words represent and guide the life I live, how I want to conduct my life, as well as the meaning, purpose and significance here in this lifetime. The other vision board is more of a dream board…which I made in the new year of 2018 and represented what I wanted to manifest in my personal life last year.

When we use pictures and words to depict our dreams, wishes and desires, we stimulate the emotional part of our brain. In doing so, we also activate the Law of Attraction. I don’t know about you, but anytime I have written anything down, put up images, power words, affirmations or motivational displays representing my wishes and desires, the universe conspired to deliver. I’m amazed when I come across some random journal entry from long ago and how what I wrote about has come to fruition. Darlings, whether you believe it or not, we all have the power to co-create anything we put our minds to. We are powerful beyond measure!

On this New Year’s Day, I took the time to really look at and examine the vision board I made last January. Once I looked at all the images, words and phrases that I had used, I took the time to write each of those words in my journal. It was almost as if by looking solely at the words, I was able to see yet another vision that was created. In a sense, it gave me a different perspective.

Perspective is something a beloved yoga teacher of mine spoke about in class this morning as she decided to start the class with all of us in legs up the wall. For the non- yogis out there, legs up the wall is an uber- restorative and highly beneficial pose. If there’s only one pose you could do each day, it would be legs up the wall. By being inverted, we are forced to look at things from a different angle. Since it was the start of the new year, my teacher chose to talk about looking at things from a different angle while we where in this pose.

And looking at my vision board from a different angle is just what I did. I created the vision board in hopes of attracting a romantic partner in 2018. The images and words I chose represented the lifestyle I would be living. As I looked at my 2018 vision board and the words that I had chosen, I realized that I was, in fact, living that life..sans the romantic partner. Hmmm… how interesting and fascinating!

After looking at my vision board from a different angle for quite some time, I realized I did not want to change or alter it for 2019. Instead, I want to work with it more actively and intentionally. How did I come to that conclusion? Well, I happen to come across a vision board checklist by Jack Canfield in Mantra Magazine, and I realized that I did not “truly” integrate all components of my board all as fully as I needed to.

I thought I’d share the checklist with you so that we can all benefit from some type of guideline on how to best benefit from the time, intention and love we have put forth in creating our very own vision, dream or life visioning boards. And, I will also share the words and phrases I used on my board because I’m all about the sharing. Besides, some words/ phrases may resonate for you and you can incorporate them into your beautiful creation. But first, the checklist:

  • My vision board depicts goals and dreams in all areas of my life, or in just one specific area that I’d like to focus on.
  • The images I chose represent or symbolize the experiences, feelings and possessions I want to attract into my life on my board.
  • There are positive affirmations, inspirational words, quotations and thoughts on my board.
  • Only words and images that best represent my purpose, my ideal future and words that inspire positive emotions and me were used on my vision board.
  • My vision board is neat, and I was selective about what I placed on my vision board.
  • I keep my vision board somewhere prominent, such as near my bed or on my desk.
  • I leave my vision board in a viewable position as often as I am comfortable with.
  • I spend time each morning and evening visualizing, affirming, believing and internalizing my goals.
  • I look at the images that represent my achievements, and feel gratitude as my dreams begin to manifest.
  • I wrote down the date I created my vision board.
  • I create a new vision board each year.
  • I regularly hold my vision board in my hands and really internalize the future it represents.
  • I read my affirmations and inspirational words aloud at least twice a day
  • I see myself living in the manner of my life is on my vision board.
  • I regularly feel myself in the future I have designed.
  • I believe the items on my board are already mine when I look at them.
  • I am grateful for the good that is already present in my life.
  • I acknowledge and celebrate any goals I have achieved.
  • I acknowledge and learn from the changes I have seen and felt.
  • I regularly acknowledge the law of attraction at work in my life.
  • I have fun and never give up.

And now, I will leave you with a laundry list of words, phrases and quotes for you to peruse, ponder and contemplate. Yes, there are so many! That’s because my vision board is quite large and some of the words are in all types of fonts and sizes (it wasn’t until I actually wrote the words in my journal that I was quite amazed at how many there were).

Love-own your glow-light carriers-transform your world-bliss-good times-getting better all the time-live your best life-real-the yoga of awakening-fearless living-widen your world-eternity now-surround yourself with people who lift you higher-give happily ever after-balanced is beautiful-natural spiritual progress-share your passion with the world-when your vacation becomes a lifestyle-yes you can-believe-truly gracious-truly joyful-truly dazzling-truly daring-come out come out whoever you are-the magic-it’s a match-gratitude-when dreams take flight-the beach-great outdoors-shining moments-a place to dream-love begins at home-live in paradise inside and out-a place in the sun-gorgeous-living out loud-beautiful-a little night music-recharge your body and spirit-get away from it all only to discover more-where are we going-see, hear, taste, smell, touch-explore your senses-widen your world-glimpse the possibility of a diverse, peaceful and creative future-bathing beauty-go glam-adventures in the kitchen-homey eternity-bring some glamour to the table-time for reflection-your time is your own-resilience-integrate-self-awareness-engagement-vibrance-getting the love you want...didn’t I tell you were so many!?!?

Finally, a quote that says it all: “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, and find eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.”

It’s time we all create and manifest the life we want and the changes we wish to be and see in this world. Now go create, dream and inspire… may the force be with you in 2019, my darlings!

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

Don’t Be Amazing…Be Available

“Through prayer, trial and error, surrounding myself with people who are better than me in so many areas, I am an example of what God can do with somebody who is not amazing, but available.” -Carl Lentz

Are you open to being used by the Divine? Interested in being challenged? Resigned to living a life that is continually out of your comfort zone? Are you a dreamer or a doer? Do you operate from a default setting in your life? Or do you believe you always have options? Do you believe you can overcome challenges? Will you use your story, or will your story use you? These are some of the things I’d like to explore along with you, as I write, and as you read. But first, a little background info on Carl Lentz.

I learned about Carl Lentz when I saw him interviewed by Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. She called him a “rock star pastor.” If you can picture a guy with tattoos and sporting a motorcycle jacket, and who happens to be very easy on the eyes….yep, definitely NOT the picture of a pastor of any kind. Despite wanting to get to see him preach at Hillsong Church in NYC, where he is the lead pastor, I have yet to get there. Someday! So…the next best thing was having my physical therapist, Ed, happen to mention him during a conversation, and he lent me his book, OWN THE MOMENT.

Needless to say, I am glued to the book! Carl’s rawness, wit, wisdom, faith, grace, love, compassion and no-nonsense radical honesty fill page after page. Quite frankly, I think I am crushin’ on the pastor….wink, wink!!! I recall seeing him on Super Soul Sunday and remarking to myself that I needed to find me a man like him! What can I say?

I can say that I was glued to this book even before I opened it. Not only did the title resonate for me, but when I read the quote on the back, I knew I was hooked:

“This is our challenge as humans: to make the most of what we do have. I do not want to be so fixed on the future that I miss the power of the present. I do not want to be so motivated on what is next that I miss the joy right here, right now. And I know that it’s possible to maximize the days, the hidden moments. The parts of the journey that seem mundane can be turned in to memories that last forever.” 

Pastor Carl Lentz, you are speaking my language!

So back to the questions I posed at the beginning. I find that when I “prime” myself for my day ahead, take the time to get centered, pray and meditate, I ask the Divine to use me…to work through me…to send me whomever needs motivation, inspiration, consolation or an ear to listen. And guess what? There’s a special “delivery” each and every day. Sometimes there are a couple. But this is the beauty when we align ourselves to the Divine and the God of your own understanding. Our purpose is not is the role or title we have on the job, our purpose is to  demonstrate how we live from the heart. And to take it a step further, it’s how our actions and words are aligned with the power of Love.

I am willing to bet that, each and every day, each one of you reading this sentence right now is presented with a person, situation or circumstance that is challenging. It’s there for a reason, and you can bet it requires you to delve a little deeper into your heart and soul. In doing so, then and only then, can we can fully comprehend why our buttons are being pushed. And what is the result of being challenged? Simply stated, we grow. We awaken. We evolve. We expand. We transform. We ascend. We come home to our Self. We come back to a place of Love.

However, we won’t transform if we operate from the confines of our comfort zone. Comfort zones are stagnating. It’s a no-brainer. Growth cannot occur when we are confined to a prison we have crafted for ourselves. If someone or something is pushing you to step out of your comfort zone, I say leap! Leap as high and wide as you can. No worries, the net will appear.

In the safety of that net, you will find that it’s OK to dream. I’m a big proponent of dreaming BIG. But I also believe in chasing those dreams with a vengeance and making them happen. So don’t hang out on that net for too long! We can either be a dreamer and leave it at that….sulking when nothing happens, or we can be a doer……We can make certain our dreams take flight. What can I say? Fly, darling, fly! It’s our first class ticket to freedom and a life filled with unimaginable possibilities. As long as we are willing to be used for a higher purpose, we will always be met with opportunities that will exceed our wildest dreams.

Unfortunately, not everyone believes in the power of their imagination. Why not? Because it takes work, attitude, vision, intention, passion, grit, resilience and perseverance. To some, it’s just easier to act from a default setting. What does that mean? Well, someone who always has an excuse, finds a reason for not trying or doing something, prefers the status quo, or is not interested in shaking things up, and then complains when nothing changes / improves in their life, operates from that place. That is their default setting. For this type of person, it’s easier to list the reasons why they can’t succeed, forge ahead, take a risk or make a change. This is a person who is comfortable in their “stuckness.” In actuality, this person is NOT making themselves available for their greatness to unfold.

These are the people who feel they don’t have options. And if there is something we ALWAYS have, it’s options. We can always exercise our option to do better, be better, act better and live better. It’s a choice that only we can make. It cannot be made for us. And it’s not up to us to make that choice for someone else, regardless of how much we love and care for that person. We can plant seeds, light the way, and gently guide. But when met with resistance, it’s time to back off. It’s not our job to “fix” anyone.

However challenging it may seem, trust me, this is not a challenge you want to take on. There are challenges, and then there are challenges! We have enough challenges on our journey through life that continuously break us down…without needlessly putting ourselves in a situation that will not serve us. And trying to “fix” someone, anyone, is not a challenge that serves any of us. We can only fix and change ourselves. THAT is something you can bank on! The key to overcoming our challenges is to not allow ourselves to be consumed by them. By this I mean get “lost” in the story to the point where the story that we have created around our difficulty has totally taken on a life of its own and has consumed us to the point of no return. Yikes!

If we are lucky, we catch ourselves when we start to do this and quickly take a different route rather than depleting our energy…change the narrative….change the story. We have all been there at some point or another. The “shift” occurs when we catch ourselves, OR when we get so tired of telling the same, old story that it is getting us sick, and we realize it’s finally time to tell a different story… to use the story for our betterment and the betterment of others rather than let the story use us.

It’s also helpful to have a cadre of supporters and surround ourselves with people who are better than us, people who serve as role models and sources of inspirational. People to have lived, loved and lost and have the courage to forge ahead and excel in life where others may have just given up. In one of my earlier blogs I spoke about the importance of having our very own spiritual board of directors. These people are our moral compass. They are the ones who allow us to hold ourselves accountable. These are the people who we look up to as the wise sages they so rightfully are.

Everything I just wrote about came to me as I was reading the first few chapters of Carl Lentz’s book.  I am looking forward to finishing it soon because it’s such an enjoyable read. It’s real. It’s relevant. It’s funny. It’s inspiring. It’s life. And the message I keep getting, page after page, is that it is more important to be available than it is amazing.

That is a tall order and a difficult thing to do in a society, and time in our world where,  all too often, our self-worth is measured by the number of likes on social media and, as Carl Lentz says, “in a society that worships money, sex and fame.”  However, if we embrace each new day with intention, steadfastness, and integrity, and as an opportunity to inspire, love, serve, and willingly ask the Divine or the God of our understanding to guide and direct us, we make ourselves available. Available to be used for far greater things that we ever could have dreamed or imagined. Available to do amazing things!

Living in and for these moments sets my heart on fire. It’s what keeps me grounded, present and mindful of the impact I am able to make. It’s what brings me joy. It’s what fearlessly allows me to embrace the hidden, teachable moments that bring transformation and inspiration. It’s what gives me the fierce courage to go out into the world with a heart wide open. It’s what keeps be flying high. Living from a place of availability is what keeps me connected to the beautiful tapestry of life. Now THAT is amazing!

My darling, given the day-to-day challenges you are faced with, how do you prefer to live your reality? Do you prefer to be amazing or available? Just asking…..

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Guest Blogger

“How I Met My Yaya and Faced My Fears”

 by Shannon “Blondie” Green

Recently, while on a Yoga Retreat with my dearest people in this world, Yaya (as I call her but as you may know as the one and only Jo-Ann Carricarte, the driving force behind this blog) mentioned  that I should guest blog for her, as part of my Yaya mentorship (more to come on that at another time).  As we were discussing the “assignment,” I expressed my concern that I wouldn’t know what to write about. She suggested that I should start at the beginning of my journey.  So that is where this story begins…

Time: March 2013

Place: Lumeria, Maui, HI

Now I will admit that prior to this experience I was the quintessential worrywart and control freak. Reflecting back, I now see that I lived in constant fear. My life consisted of many “what-if” scenarios, and I believed it was normal to worry about things like money, health, cars breaking down, etc.  I set my watch ahead about 10 minutes so I wouldn’t be late, and I always had to wear it. I believed everything had to be planned, and planned, and planned some more. I did not have faith to just let things unfold organically. When things did not go as I planned, I did not handle it gracefully and with ease. I responded very emotionally and often had a difficult time resolving the problem. At this point in my life I was 36, and I knew that these behaviors were not serving me…and I certainly wasn’t happy in my life, but what I didn’t know was what I could do to change things.  Luckily for me, I had an amazing, life long best friend, Christy, who decided she was going to organize a weeklong yoga retreat to Maui. And luckily for me, my best friend from college, Claire, convinced me that we NEEDED to go!

As we began our first class, Christy spoke about being present and living in “Maui Time,” where it didn’t matter what time it was, where life moved a little more slowly, and the idea of being purposeful in what we said, thought and did while we were there. At this point, I did something that I will never regret; I decided to remove my watch for the duration of the retreat.

The second thing that happened was that Christy gave us each a small journal to use while we were there. Each day, she would give us journaling exercises and if we chose to do them or not was left up to us.  I soon became engrossed in writing in my little pink journal. My thoughts and reflections helped me realize that one of the reasons I was sad and struggling in my life was because I was filled with so much fear.

The third thing that happened was I met Yaya.  I honestly don’t remember how the conversation began, but there was some mention of her name “Jo-Ann” but how everyone called her “Mama Yaya”. Somewhere along the way I dropped the “Mama” part, and she just became “Yaya” to me.  Any of you who know Jo-Ann know just how “Yaya” she is. She is this vibrant being filled with love and energy. She is funny and energetic, but serious and very much about living her authentic self.  As the week went on, you would often find her “holding court” at the dining room table after we had finished a meal, sitting at the head of the table while me, Claire, and a few of the other ladies were bombarding her with questions about what books to read, what websites we should check out-  all the while writing down everything little thing she said…the list in my journal includes among them the following books, websites, and authors: Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, The Four Agreements, A Return to Love, The Law of Divine Compensation, Wishes Fulfilled, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, The Power of Now, A New Earth, Daily Om, Daily Love by Mastin Kipp, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Hay House Publishing, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and even more.

Who was this Yaya person?? How did she know all of this stuff and how could I get some of it??? I knew she held answers, and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to find the peace and energy and love she spoke of.  My journal is full of entries that talk about how I wanted to have an open heart and clear mind.  How I wanted to listen to the wisdom of my body, my desire to let go of fear and the things that frighten me. I wanted to make room for miracles and be open to abundance coming into my life.  I journaled about my fears of not becoming a mother, of not finding purpose, of growing old and unfulfilled and my desire to release these fears. I knew I needed to let go of my fears and somewhere during that week I began to learn how.

March 15, 2013:  Journal Entry

“Today I let go of what weighs me down.  I accept that my life is unfolding as it should be. I surrender. I am not afraid of what is not happening. I detach from trying to control that which I cannot control.  I surrender to the will of God and the Universe.  I open my heart to whatever may come into it. I welcome what may come in.  I am not afraid of things that don’t turn out the way I thought.  I will enjoy every moment as it unfolds.”

As I reread these words from my journal the other day, I can honestly say that I don’t know if I wrote them or copied them from someone.  They sound so wise and profound that I believe I likely stole them from someone else- except I didn’t note who said them, which I normally do if I write down a quote I like. Regardless, this was the point at which I surrendered and let go. As I continued to read my old journal, I can see how this day was a turning point where I decided to let fear stop running my life. One thing I know is that the girl who arrived in Maui on March 12, 2013 was not the same girl who left Maui a week later.

The journey hasn’t been easy, and it is still continuing. I won’t lie, it  has been a journey that has taken many years and a lot of work, but it has been wonderful and fulfilling. and I hope to share some of that with you as a guest blogger for Yaya.

So I leave you with the following few questions:

  • Looking back, do you see a turning point in your life where you surrendered and let go of the fears that were holding you back from being your authentic self? 
  • Was there an event that happened that made you realize you wanted to see things differently and live life differently? 
  • Was there a person you met that inspired you to make the change that you had been afraid to make?
  • What tools (journaling, authors, podcasts, etc) have helped you on your journey? 

Oh, and in case you are wondering about that watch, I took of in Maui. It has never been put back on my wrist. ☺

 

Bravo! Thank you, my beautiful Blondie (aka “La Bomba”) for such a beautiful reflection! You took the first step, rose up to the challenge and produced the first of many future blogs to come. I am so proud of how much you have grown, evolved and embraced your magnificence since Maui brought us all together! I am proud of how fabulously you are playing your own version of “Yaya” in your everyday life, both personally and professionally. Thank you for the reflection questions you posed. Thank you for making a difference and making the world a more beautiful place. Thank you for the light you bring to others. Thank you for your love. Lastly, thank you for choosing to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start! I look forward to reading more!!! Love, Yaya xo

A Revolution

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

“I doubt that anyone on their deathbed wished they had spent more time at work, on social media or holding grudges or feeling resentful. Your time and your energy are the currency of your life. How do you spend them?” Terri Brown

Greetings darlings!

I came across a brilliant piece on IG the other day that I will share with you at the end of this blog. It really called to me. Just reading and re-reading it is a meditation and a revolution in and of itself. And the quote above, which I saw in my lovely acupuncturist’s office, reminded me of some of the journaling I had done in Costa Rica while on my recent yoga retreat. I also felt it would be a nice counterpart to the piece at the end.

We are living in new times, there’s a sense of awakening and shifting in the collective consciousness that is taking place, and we are all participants in it. Some of us are doing it willingly, and others are having some difficulty with it. Nevertheless, we are all here to take part in the awakening of humanity and the ascension of our most beautiful and precious Earth.

As Marianne Williamson remarked in a podcast I was listening to the other day, “Our life is a platform.” I totally agree with it! We do not have to be a celebrity or a mogul to affect change. We do so in the ordinary way we go about our lives.  Whether it is through our jobs, careers, professions, hobbies or simply the way we conduct ourselves everyday. We are either presenting ourselves with a heart wide open or one that is closed…..closed to all the possibilities, magic and miracles that are always swirling around us and accessible to all… closed to our greatness, light, magnificence and purpose.

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was here for a purpose. Like many of us, it took me quite sometime to figure that out. I always loved talking to people, felt like a peace and love junkie and that I was part of something much greater…something I couldn’t name. But once I figured it out, I realized I was put here to inspire, love, serve. It’s how I want to live out my days. My time and energy are indeed the currency of my life, and I intend to use them wisely.

It is my deepest belief that we can all employ this mentality. The precursor to it is to lead from the heart…right from the startWe can’t go wrong with this philosophy because we come from a place of Love in doing so. We come from a place of truth. We come from a place of an innate knowing that we are part of that something which is much greater than all of us. A greatness we need to embrace wholeheartedly, own and act from it. We are amazing light beings in a miraculous symphony called A Revolution.

The cracks in our society, all the injustices and atrocities that are being exposed these days, and the light that is starting to come through as a result, via the modern-day awakened beings and agents of change of all ages, are shifting our perspective and we are seeing that all good is rooted in the principle of Love. We are the activists we have been waiting for. As Michael Kahn writes in is book, Whatever Arises Love That, “We have chosen to incarnate at a time when the entire planet is undergoing the process of awakening to fulfill the prophecies of every awake being who came before us.” 

I had to read and reread that line several times before I read any further. We’ve always had the prophets, the sages, activists and the change makers for centuries. However, we are these modern-day sages and light beings. Wow! Do we have a enormous responsibility, or what? What an honor to be following in the footsteps of all the light beings, sages,  carriers of wisdom and change makers who have paved the way for us.  I find it utterly humbling! When I take the time to sit with this notion, it connects me to the great love and sense of passion and purpose that beats widely in my heart.

And speaking of my heart, I guess that is why I am sharing this beautifully written piece by Julia Myers with you. Wild Woman Sisterhood had posted it and, when I read this precious work of art, it stirred that love, purpose and passion that resides in my heart. I suppose that is how this particular blog came to be.

I invite you to center yourself, allow yourself to land and arrive, and enjoy the read:

“The old threads are unraveling,
Get your needles ready.
We are stitching a new quilt
of humanity.

Bring your old t-shirts,
worn out jeans, scarves,
antique gowns, aprons,
old pockets of plenty
who have held Earth’s treasures,
stones, feathers, leaves,
love notes on paper.

Each stitch
A mindful meditation.
Each piece of material
A story.

The more colour the better,
so call in the tribes.
Threads of browns, whites,
reds, oranges
Women from all nations
start stitching.

Let’s recycle the hate, the abuse,
the fear, the judgment.
Turn it over, wash it clean,
ring it out to dry.
It’s a revolution
of recycled wears.

Threads of greens, blues, purples
Colourful threads
of peace, kindness,
respect, compassion
are being stitched
from one continent to the next
over forests, oceans, mountains.

The work is hard
Your fingers may bleed.
But each cloth stitched together
Brings together a community.
A world, our future world
Under one colourful quilt.
The new quilt of humanity.”

—Julia Myers

Pause….breathe…observe….feel! Remember, your time and energy are the currency of your life. How are you spending them?

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

PS: Please check back on Wednesday for a special guest blogger. It has been my deepest desire to motivate some of the people in my life to try their hand at blogging. You know what you know, and one thing I know for sure is that we all have a story to tell and people to inspire. Sometimes, someone has to nudge, cajole and even push them into seeing it….any idea whom that person may be? Just sayin’…… 

The Simplest Meditation

“For today: Slow down and breathe. Feel your heart beating. Make it simpler. Even simpler than that. Inhabit the space  you are in. If it feels too constrictive let go of things. Clear it out. Give away and offer up the things that clutter your space. You are too precious and life is too short. ” -Christy Naida Linson

I had the good fortune to go to Costa Rica on a wonderful yoga retreat recently. It was actually a present to myself for my upcoming 60th birthday, which is in a few months. The person who led the retreat was my friend and teacher, and the person whose words you just read in the quote above. What a treat it was! As was being in the company of 20 other beautiful souls. Even the staff at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat were unforgettable. They were like one big happy family and ever so gracious!

Each day either before or after class, we were given a word, a thought or a question to meditate on and journal about. Upon our arrival, and after a long travel day for most, it was the word “allow” then “arrive.” These are two mighty powerful words that can alter our presence, perspective and our practice. As does the phrase, “I have arrived,” which Thich Nhat Hanh is known for speaking about. As a matter of fact, he has a verse that he suggests is wonderful to practice during walking meditation. It’s the first thing that came to mind when Christy lovingly encouraged us to allow ourselves to arrive:

  • I have arrived. I am home.
  • In the here, in the now.
  • I am solid. I am free.
  • In the ultimate I dwell.

We were encouraged to “allow” our thoughts to arise without judging them as right or wrong (which most of us have been programmed to do at some point in our lives). As Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, Happiness, “When we focus on arriving, we arrive at the destination of life. The present moment is a destination….I have arrived means I have stopped running. I have arrived in the present moment because only the present moment contains life.”

The act of arriving is the simplest meditation we can do. It is one that will immediately place us in the present moment….the here and now.  You may be thinking otherwise but, with time and practice, we can train ourselves to be the observer and simply witness the thoughts in our heads without engaging or giving life to them. There’s a simple beauty in being able to do so. It also pays to be a keen observer of the obstacles that keep us from being present (which was one of the questions we are asked to reflect on as well).

For me, “arriving” is landing in my body and feeling a deep sense of rooting, connection and grounding. Being so totally in the here and now that I soak in the surroundings, sights, sounds and smells- with each breath, and wherever I am…..at home, the beach, the yoga studio, cleaning or even washing dishes or some other mundane task. It’s giving my attention to how my body is feeling from the subtle sensations to whatever thoughts arise. I try not to get caught up in the thoughts, especially if they do not serve my highest good. Rather, I let them float away as if they were in beautiful white clouds. Staying true to my practice, and my nonnegotiables, is all part of my radical self-care maintenance plan, and it is what allows me to feel like I have arrived.

An obstacle that can sometimes keep me from being present, or feeling like I’ve arrived, is when I have a packed day. Honestly speaking though, part of my self-care regimen is making sure that doesn’t happen. Hence, the discernment I employ (or should I say radial discernment) as to how, when, where, why and with whom I expend my energy on. However, there are those days that are beyond our control. The days that “duty calls.”

On those kind of days, I find myself making sure I do a special morning meditation and set my intention(s) for the day. Also, I make sure to stay hydrated and either pack or purchase wholesome foods and snacks that will fuel me. Music is everything to me, so I make sure to listen to music that will keep me calm, peaceful and serene. No hard rock, hip hop, salsa or merengue…..wink, wink! It’s all about setting the tone and priming my Self for the type of day that awaits me. Preparing oneself for a trying and/or long day can be a meditation in itself. Try it and see!

How else can we practice the simplest of meditations? Well, I personally love watching  the waves roll in. Just like our thoughts, waves come crashing in and then seamlessly flow back out. Watching the sunrise or sunset is also magical and so serene. These are wonderful times of the day to express gratitude for another day of having the privilege of being alive. A slow walk in the park or somewhere outdoors provides us with a lovely opportunity to use the “I have arrived phrase.”

One place I make sure I’ve arrived is in the car. Personally though, I do NOT like listening to any sort of meditation-like talk in the car because it really distracts the brain from the primary task of driving. Zoning out is NOT an option behind the wheel! Being present while driving is a task in itself.

Over the course of the last several months, I have found that one of my favorite things to do is to lay on the floor in a supportive, heart-opening pose and just feel my heart beat. Post- Costa Rica, I find myself doing this a whole lot more as I listen to Steve Gold’s song, So Much Magnificence. For some reason, this song has become my anthem for “allowing and arriving,” as well as letting go of any remains of the day that may be weighing me down.  I think it’s because I would listen to it in the afternoons before class, and it was one of the last songs we listened to while in a delicious restorative pose on our last night of practice. Perhaps it’s a subtle way of keeping those memories and feelings alive!?!?

Just about anything we do can be a simple meditation. The idea is to be engaged fully in whatever it is we are doing, and do just that one thing. The practice simply calls for us to tune into our breath. When we make this a daily practice, we catch ourselves during those times in which we are holding our breath – our life force. Believe me, it happens more than we think, and that’s so not good! Regardless of where we are, whom we are with or what is going on in our lives, we can safely land and arrive in our bodies….one breath at a time.

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

Driven to Distraction No More

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention.”

Do you find yourself constantly distracted? How about constantly “connected” to your electronics? Do you find yourself constantly checking your social media and emails 24/7? Are you fearful of missing out? Is your phone always within reach? Do you sleep with it?  Is your phone on the table when you eat? Do you go to the bathroom with it? Do you shower with it?  Do you find your memory lapsing? Are you unable to have a meaningful, uninterrupted conversation when in the company of friends or loved ones? Do you respond to every single text and phone call regardless of where you are, what you’re doing and with whom? If you find yourself shaking your head yes to these questions, then perhaps it’s time for you to break up with your phone or, at best, dial back your phone use.

Doesn’t it seem increasingly more difficult to obtain someone’s undivided attention these days? In my world, and perhaps in yours too, there’s nothing more distracting, disturbing and disrespectful that being with someone who is in a haze of electronic / phone addiction. An addiction? Yep, that’s exactly what it is. Just think of all the dopamine and oxytocin our brain releases, leaving us wanting more, more, more!

In all honesty, it takes the joy out of an encounter or time supposed to be spent with someone. It turns a would-be meaningful and significant gathering into a meaningless, annoying and perhaps even an empty one. Here’s a powerful visual: If you can imagine trying to converse with someone, and having an intruder constantly tap you on your shoulder, interrupting you incessantly and trying to get your attention…well this is what it’s like being with a person who is addicted to their phone and every alert, notification and various rings. This is what it is like being with a person who has been driven to distraction.

The other thing I find very disturbing and so frightening these days is still seeing people texting while driving, walking, or at a light – oblivious of the potential danger that may be coming their way. Distracted driving is truly an epidemic. Accident statistics for distracted driving and distracted pedestrians have been on the rise over the years, yet we “don’t get it.” What’s not to get? Why do we willingly put our lives, or the lives of our children, grandchildren and loved ones on the line? The audacity…how dare we!!! How about we engage in  conversation with whomever is in the car with us? How about we give our undivided attention to driving in the first place and being accountable for the lives for which we are responsible?

If we want to own the privilege of being alive, truly blossom into our “humanness” and capture moments, we desperately need to pay attention. We need to be present. We need more face to face contact. Interacting with others, looking into each other’s eyes, listening deeply, reading each other’s body language, and connecting on deeper levels cannot, and must not, become a lost art!

How disturbing is it to see the lack of face to face contact among family members and even couples out in public? I swear sometimes I feel like we are going to start seeing a generation who will be selectively mute. Can we all agree there is definitely a difference in our intellectual and social skills when we are present and face to face with someone vs. when we rely on electronic forms of communications (which is often mis-communication)? I’d like to think so!

Our mental health and physical safety are really on the line these days. If we know the pitfalls of being driven to distraction, why is it so difficult to attain a healthy relationship with our electronics?

Here are a few tips for doing just that:

  • Notice what the first thing you do is upon opening your eyes in the morning 
  • Start your morning in gratitude, meditation or prayer 
  • Do not bring your phone into the bathroom other than perhaps to listen to music 
  • Refrain from answering the phone when you’re in the shower or on the toilet 
  • Pay more attention to when and how often you scroll through social media and check emails
  • Just for one day, take note of every time you scroll through social media and  length of time you were consumed in that task…physically write it down add up the time (guaranteed you will be blown away)
  • Try it for a week (you’ll be shocked)
  • Designate specific times of the day to check in 
  • Look up more often – especially when someone is talking 
  • Take notice of your posture whenever you’re engaged with your electronics
  • Set a timer throughout the day where you just stop and breathe (and if at work, walk away from your computer)
  • Challenge yourself to waiting 10-15 minutes before checking your phone each time you have the urge to look at it 
  • Disable unnecessary alerts and reduce notifications (news, pop-ups, posts, emails, etc)
  • Unsubscribe to unecessary emails
  • Put your phone on airplane mode when in a meeting, having meals, at the movies, in class or spending quality / intimate time with friends, family and lovers
  • Shut off your phone more often for an extended time – an hour or two or perhaps longer 
  • Place your phone in a drawer, another room or out of sight when you are reading, writing, meditating, having sex, etc. (out of sight-out of mind)
  • Put your phone on Do Not Disturb while driving and encourage your children to do the same (key here is to lead by example)
  • Keep your phone in your pocket or bag when walking anywhere and be aware of your surroundings
  • Look people in the eyes and smile more – acknowledge their presence
  • Give yourself a curfew, unplug a couple of hours before going to bed and, as Arianna Huffington encourages in her book, Thrive, “Politely escort your electronics out of your bedroom”
  • Take a digital detox and spend valuable time doing the things you say you never have time to do 

The idea here is to set some healthy boundaries for ourselves. In doing so, we remove unnecessary distractions, alter our brain chemistry and feel more relaxed and at ease. When we take the time to assess how we are utilizing our time for needless activities, we come to appreciate how precious time really is. We start looking up more,  we come to realize that all we have is time, and what we choose to do with it is the game changer. As Wayne Dyer was known for saying, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” 

And on this note, have you ever seen the YouTube video, Look Up, by Gary Turk? The official video is about three years old, and it’s billed as a “spoken word film for an online generation.” How about the one by Max Stossel called This Panda is Dancing – Time Well Spent? It speaks to the “architects of the digital world” and is pretty cool and so on point. Check it out, check it out, check it out!!!

It is my sincere  hope that you take away from Driven to Distraction No More whatever it is you needed. As always, feel free to share and pass on! Oh, and remember to find ways to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC