When I lay in bed at night, one of the heart-based exercises I do is to mentally go through the alphabet and list things that my best self enjoys extending and receiving:
Acceptance (celebrate our differences) Benefit of the doubt Compassion Divinity in action Encouragement Forgiveness Gratitude Hospitality Inclusion Joie de vivre (joy of life) Kindness Listening between the lines (attentiveness) Mindfulness (present-moment focus)
Namaste’ (honoring the divine spark in self and others) Optimism Peace Quiet strength Respect Simplicity (the gift of ease) Truth Understanding Vision (cultivating and nurturing original ideas to fruition) Wisdom Xellence (the daily practice of being my best self—living my best life) Yoga mindset (valuing connection with the world and its inhabitants) Zen attitude (daily letting go of what I can’t control)
Enzo is the main character in Garth Stein’s book, The Art of Racing in the Rain. “Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs).”
Enzo (or Ensō, both are correct) is also the name of a Zen circle, a Buddhist symbol that represents infinity, “no-thing.”
For me, that symbol translates to simplicity, minimalism, a meditative state, and enlightenment which I define as “Recognizing that we are all connected, then consciously living that realization—our thoughts, words, and actions an unshakable reflection of that understanding.”
Zen is an enlightened state of mind. It’s also a way of being—living. As we close 2017 and look to writing the pages of a new year, my mantra is “Peace begins with me. Right here. Right now.”
Will you please join me?
Incidentally, The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of my all-time favorite books. If you haven’t read it yet, please carve out time and gift yourself with the opportunity. You’ll be glad you did.
Contrary to popular belief, ambition and spirituality aren’t in opposition to each other.
Ambition is a strong desire to achieve something.
Spirituality is connection with our essence, our spirit that’s already whole and perfect.
From my perspective, the important thing is understanding the motivation behind our ambition.
The externals (academic achievement, upper echelon title at work, bling, financial status, the super-duper whamodyne car in the garage) isn’t who we are.
When we remove the externals—strip down and get bare naked to the internals—we reach our essence, our being. That’s where abundance resides: peace, joy, compassion, gratitude, inspiration, creativity, and grace—our basic wealth.
It’s from our essence that we pursue our passion—an expansion of who we are. Living our passion fuels both the internal and the external aspects of our self.
It’s from our essence that we utilize our talents, achieve our ambitions, and live our potential—to make a positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing impression on those in our sphere of influence.
When was the last time you got bare naked—right down to your essence?
Being married to a pilot, we fly a lot. When I take in-flight photos through the window, the propellor looks motionless. Not because it’s still, but because it’s spinning so fast!
Physics tells us that everything—without exception—is in motion. Even the Buddha statues you see in the photo below.
During my sabbatical I visited the GARDEN OF 1000 BUDDHAS in Arlee, Montana
Stillness is dynamic; it’s un-conflicted movement (no friction). We experience it when there’s unrestricted participation in the moment; when we’re unreservedly present with whatever we’re doing.
Stillness is a natural rhythm in the cycle of life. In the space that stillness creates we have the opportunity to quiet the mind and body; to re-group, re-charge, re-connect, and to find a point of reference; something to measure against.
For me, that point of reference is my inner compass. From here, I can move back into the busy world refreshed.
When I travel to the San Diego area I make a point of visiting the meditation gardens at the Self-Realization Temple in Encinitas. Located on a cliff overlooking the ocean, their aquatic gardens are home to colorful koi fish and lotus flowers.
A lotus flower grows from the bottom of a muddy pond rising upward, emerging at the surface where it blooms into a beautiful flower. At night the petals close and it sinks beneath the surface only to re-emerge in the morning with the sunrise.
In my perspective, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s observation, “No mud, no lotus,” is a lovely metaphor for the human experience.
Created by the award-winning talent of Rucinski & Reetz, I’m excited to share with you the book trailer for Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth.
Available for pre-order on Amazon
Transforming intention into action, Note to Self equips you to shed your baggage, bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be—body, mind, and spirit—empowering you to step into joy-filled living now!
“Laurie Buchanan has a knack for helping others find positive, creative, and clear solutions to life’s challenges. Reading this book was like watching the sun rise for me; every page had bright rays of wisdom that made me smile. Delightful indeed!” —Christine DeSmet, author, screenwriter, and writing teacher at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies
I’d like to think that I’m a pretty tough cookie, but in reality, I’m not. Certain types of things—terrorist attacks, school shootings, discrimination, the fact that some people go hungry while others throw food away, cruel treatment of humans or animals—these types of things go right through me; pierce me to the core.
I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I do know at least one thing—one positive action step—I can personally take to contribute to the solution. I can be kind on purpose; I can practice intentional kindness.
Baggage! We all carry it with us through life. It comes in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and colors—more than enough to accommodate the stuff that we accumulate through life. And no matter how we dress it up, it’s frustrating, inconvenient, and slows us down. In fact, it’s downright disruptive.
This book is about offloading emotional baggage—something that’s especially important when we realize that we don’t just pack for one; we pack for seven. Each of the seven selves—self-preservation, self-gratification, self-definition, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-reflection, and self-knowledge—has characteristics, wellness types, and shadows. Each plays a vital role in harmony, overall health, and well-being.
Chock full of real-life emotional examples, as well as “keys” at the end of each chapter offering actionable tips, techniques, and exercises designed to help you unlock baggage, examine it, and offload it permanently, Note to Self will help you discover a lighter, joy-filled you!
Here’s what two of the advance readers had to say:
“While we are all passengers on a planet called Earth, we can choose to enhance the way in which we travel: emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically. In fact, we can, through the pages of this book, discover new ways to travel that are lighter, more fluid, and life-enhancing. The author, a wise and dedicated traveler, is also the right kind of kind of guide—caring, inspiring, uplifting, knowledgeable—for your journey of self-discovery. I recommend this tremendous book to anyone seeking the companionship of good energy and joyful presence. A five-star read in every way!”
—D.A. Hickman, author of The Silence of Morning: A Memoir of Time Undone
“What a dazzling rainbow of wisdom Laurie Buchanan has assembled into one volume! Drawing on a wide range of spiritual teachers and scientific discoveries, Buchanan guides the reader on an exciting journey of self-discovery. She is a modern oracle at Delphi, and this book a modern temple with ‘Know Thyself’ written on every page. Highly recommended for daily spiritual practice (a list of 365 questions at the end will guide journal writing). Leaders of retreats, and spiritual seekers will be sharing well-thumbed, dog-eared copies soon.”
—Shirley Hershey Showalter, former president of Goshen College and author of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World
I’m looking forward to November 1, 2016—the publication date of Note to Self.
What’s the next date/event that you’re looking forward to?
When my friend, Shirley Hershey Showalter, wrote about When Breath Becomes Air in her blog post, When Time Shall Be No More: Kalanithi and Kairos, on February 10, 2016, I read it immediately following the book I was currently reading. Shirley’s wisdom and track record are such that when she recommends something, you don’t hesitate.
It’s rare that I use my blog to share about books that I’ve read. An avid reader and reviewer, I use Goodreads and Amazon for that purpose. However, I feel so strongly about When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi that I’m sharing it here.
After reading devouring the book, this is the review I posted on Goodreads and Amazon:
For over two decades a particular book held the highly coveted all-time-favorite-book place in my heart. In one fell swoop, WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR single-handedly took its place. Each word chosen with tremendous care, the writing is exquisite. A call to action, the reader can’t help but sit down and carefully examine the nooks and crannies of their essence to discover what it is—exactly—that gives their individual life meaning. A call to action, this book is going to change your life!
At times we may feel small, insignificant, and unable to help when people are suffering, or there’s a catastrophe in another part of the world. But there is something we can do.
Tonglen—Tibetan for giving and receiving—is an active practice of loving-kindness; a simple act of compassion that anyone can do. Here’s how it’s done:
Sit or lie quietly in your own “inner sanctuary” and imagine someone that you want to help.
Inhale the heaviness of their energy. Breathe in the condition, emotion, or suffering of another to make space for healing and comfort within.
Exhale whatever you feel will fill them relief. Breathe out hope, strength, joy, peace of mind, love, or ease.
I took this photograph at the Boise Botanical Garden. In my mind’s eye, this is how I imagine my inner sanctuary.
Tonglen is a soothing and calming meditation that can be done by people of any spiritual tradition, or none at all. It’s a simple, non-denominational practice that acknowledges we’re all connected no matter who we are, or where we come from.
“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.” —John O’Donohue