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)
During recent travels, a walk on the beach had me looking at seaweed as a visual metaphor for the brain…
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN
Much like a pinball machine, the mind bounces from one thought to the next: positive, negative, past, present, future.
Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, MD, director of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health tells us that:
“People shift their attention from one task to the next in rapid succession [commonly referred to as multi-tasking]. This reduces the quality of the work on any one task because you’re ignoring it for milliseconds at a time.”
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MINDFULNESS
Separating out a single thought strand, mindfulness is present moment awareness.
An article in Psychology Today defines mindfulness as:
“A state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
One of the many things I talk with my clients about is how we fuel our body — the physical package we reside in. A Buddha Bowl is one of the daily staples in our home. So in the spirit of a healthy new year, here’s how it’s done:
Find a unique, large-sized bowl that for you symbolizes nourishment and gratitude. And perhaps a pair of chopsticks to enhance slow eating and mindfulness. Preparing this meal should be enjoyable, relaxing, and creative. As you fill your Buddha Bowl, remember that you’re creating food art.
Farm-to-table means little to no processing involved. The closer to the earth we eat, the healthier the food is for us. I’m all about nutritionally dense fuel — foods with a high nutrition-to-calorie ratio. And it goes without saying, buy organic whenever possible and avoid anything that’s genetically modified (GMO).
50% of the Bowl — Greens Raw organic greens: kale, arugula, watercress, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards, romaine lettuce, cabbage (red and green), and a bit of cilantro and/or parsley. Greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Note: the darker the color, the more nutritionally dense it is.
25% of the Bowl — Vegetables & Fruit Raw, steamed, or roasted vegetables; mix textures and tastes — crunchy, sweet, bitter, juicy, bland — sprouts (my favorite are alfalfa), asparagus tips, onion, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and/or cauliflower florets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, peas (snow, sugar snap, or English), papaya arils, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, diced fruit; the choices are endless.
25% of the Bowl — Protein Protein: beans (garbanzo, black, kidney, pinto, lima), cooked lentils and/or quinoa, diced hardboiled eggs, tofu, and/or maybe a bit of brown rice. Did you know that 1 cup of cooked brown rice has 5 grams of protein? Another great source of protein are raw seeds and nuts: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, hemp seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame, ground flax seed, pecans, pine nuts, chia seeds.
Dressing the Meal Like the rest of the bowl, the final touch will vary from meal-to-meal, depending on what you have available:
Drizzle your favorite oil—olive, avocado, coconut Splash on balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice Spice it up with a dash of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, or maybe some cayenne
A recent walk took us past dozens of picnic tables leaning against each other — upright on their sides — to wait out winter.
When I lean physically, I have the sense of being off balance. Mentally it’s much the same:
When I lean back mentally (dwell on the past), I’m not fully present.
When I lean forward mentally (dwell on the future), I’m not fully present.
When I lean into center — now — I’m in the present moment.
In Chinese calligraphy the word mindfulness is expressed by two characters: The top character (a shelter) represents the word now; below that is the character for heart. The literal translation means bringing the heart into the present.
During a recent visit with my dad in Encinitas, California (Dec 31 – Jan 1) I spent time at the Self-Realization Fellowship and Meditation Garden. This location—founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda—is always included when I visit.
It’s a wonderful place to recharge one’s personal battery; to just sit and drink in the beauty with all of the senses; to meditate, relax, and renew. It was a welcome part of my journey. I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour.
There are times during a session when I ask a client to tell me who they are. I preface this by saying, “I don’t want to know whose mother, wife, or daughter you are, what you do for a living, what group(s) you identify with, where you live, what you collect, or what you drive. When you take away all of those trimmings, who are you?”
This question usually causes a long, thought-filled, inward examination. It’s a question that’s important for each of us to be able to answer for ourselves.
I remember Olivia (not her real name) who thought quietly about this question for the longest time. Eventually, tears slowly began to roll down her cheeks, but she was smiling. When she finally answered she said, “I am enough.” That was the most powerful, profound answer I’d ever received. This is the place that we all need to be—Iam enough!
An equally important question is why are you here? Not your geographic location, but your life purpose. Knowing why we’re here provides us with the most concrete and basic thing we can know about ourselves—that there’s an individual reason for each of us being here.
Many people believe that we “find” our purpose. Not me. I believe that we determine our purpose. There’s a big, whompin’ difference.
Who am I? you ask me.
I’m an extension of Source Energy; an expression of Divine Love.
What’s the purpose that I’ve determined? you’d like to know.
I determined that my purpose is to be a mindful agent of heart-based change—body, mind, and spirit.
What about you—Who are you? Why are you here?
“All my life, I always wanted to be somebody. Now I see that I should have been more specific.”
— Lily Tomlin, American actress, comedian, writer, and producer