Tag Archives: time with family

The Funny Thing About Time…

Around 10 am this morning I was sitting on my couch, enjoying an iced coffee, and feeling very grateful for a relaxing Sunday morning. As I reflected on the morning I thought about all I had accomplished, yet felt very calm and content throughout the whole morning.

hourglassBy this time I had meditated, cuddled with my daughter for a bit, fed my daughter breakfast and two snacks, ate breakfast, got my daughter and myself dressed and ready for the day, went on a hike and took photos, did a few sun salutations and yoga poses, read 2 chapters in Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, changed a few diapers, drove through a car wash, vacuumed and cleaned the inside of my car, went grocery shopping, fed the dogs, completed some households tasks (washing and putting away dishes, washed a load of laundry, picked up toys, etc.), and sat and read to my daughter.

Considering that I can easily remember a time when I wasn’t even out of bed by this time, I would count this as a very productive morning. I also can remember many mornings when I did much less and felt stressed, rushed and frustrated. So what was the difference with this morning, when I did quite a bit, but felt relaxed and calm?

My state of mind.

Time is a tricky thing. Often we feel it is limited and probably use it as one reason we can’t get to things we want to do. When we look at our long to-do list, and focus too much on the past or future, time seems to shrink. It moves quickly, keeping us hurried and scattered, trying desperately to get as much crammed in as possible.

In today’s world we often feel hurried and overwhelmed by all that we “have to do”. This perspective leaves us moving through minutes, hours, days, month and years at a rapid pace. The tragedy in this is that we miss truly experiencing so much and never seem to do what we want to do.

However, we can make time expand by changing the way we think. When we focus on this current moment and simply glide from one activity to the next without looking too far ahead or letting our mind get too focused on the past, time seems to move much slower. We can accomplish more than we ever thought we could and truly enjoy it.

Time also feels different when we prioritize the things we want to do. While we may have to clean the house, we can take a moment to do something we find enjoyable like reading, creating or sitting with those we love. Many hobbies or activities we truly enjoy can be done around the things that are our responsibility but not our favorites. Even if it is just a few moments, sprinkling in the activities that inspire us can truly pull us back into the moment and make time move a little slower.

The way we perceive and approach time makes a difference in how it feels to us. Using a practice of present moment awareness can create a feeling of endlessness to the moment we are in. This will ultimately lead to being more productive and can give room to add in the things we love.

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Living fearless in a fear-filled world

I was heartbroken last week. As I listened to the news of the NAU shootings Friday morning my heart ached, as it often does when I hear of tragic events. My heart ached for the ones involved, their families and a whole community that is forever shifted. It seemed to be a week of many events causing this heartache and for a moment, it felt like too much. I looked in the backseat of the car, saw my daughter happily playing and I couldn’t help but feel the fear. Maybe it is that this news was so close to home, maybe it was that this news came after tragic shootings in Oregon, or maybe it was just that I know these things happen every day whether we hear about it or not. Whatever it was, my instinct was to run and hide. I wanted to pack up my whole family, move to a cabin in the woods and keep them safe forever.

Ridiculously unrealistic, I know, but it was my first thought.

I wanted to know everyone was safe. I wanted to keep them from the arms of a potential tragedy that seems to becoming “normal.” I thought of all the children in this world and wondered what exactly it was that we were handing off to them. Knowing that my fantasy was most likely not the turn my life was going to take, I asked myself quietly; “Then what do we do? How do we handle such painful events?” Softly the answer came; the answer I knew but had a hard time feeling.

We love.

It is often said in spiritual teachings that there are only two true emotions, fear and love. All other emotions stem from them and both serve a purpose. Love allows us to embrace the best things in life and live the truth of who we are. Fear is meant to keep us safe, ensure we stay out of harms way. Often fear was useful when we were in a different world; a world where dangers of being attacked by a bear in our sleep was the norm. In today’s world, while there still may be life-threatening moments when fear can step in and serve us, most of the time it is an illusion for the majority of us.

We are afraid of what may be lurking in the minutes, hours, weeks and years that lay before us. It causes us to make choices that may be blocking us from truly living from love, living in the moment and really experiencing joy. It may be a tragedy that triggers it and makes us overprotective parents or it could be something such as afraid of failing that causes us to misspeak in a presentation. The fear can also cause us to push so hard against what we don’t want to happen, we become consumed by what we are running from instead of creating what we truly want.

Loving through these moments makes us redirect and focus on what we do want, not what we don’t. This doesn’t mean that we bury our heads and hide from seeing what is happening in the world, it means using our fearful response to determine what we do want so we can shift our attention there.

So instead of being swept away with fear for your family, go home and hug them a little tighter. Spend more moments talking and less being distracted. Send love to those involved in a tragedy.   Don’t focus on the panic and what fear tells you should be done, instead ask yourself how you can use this lesson to love deeper. When fear arises, ask yourself what it is you truly want and shift your thoughts to that instead of thinking about what you don’t want to happen.

Even in the days when fear truly was saving us from a life-threatening situation on a regular basis, love could easily overcome fear if we had to protect our loved ones, proving that it is powerful enough to lead the way.

It is about time we let it.

6 Spiritual Lessons from Our Children

young

Throughout the years I have dedicated a significant amount of time on my personal spiritual growth.  I have spent countless hours poring over development books, researched various religions and spoke with many spiritual leaders.  I have attended trainings and workshops on a wide range of topics and approaches in cultivating inner peace.  Throughout this process I have learned a lot, especially regarding those practices that tend to be common themes and “secrets” for achieving sustainable joy in life.  It is a constant growth process since all of these things require continued practice and while I have understood much of it logically, some areas have been difficult for me to feel.

As I have expanded my concept of “spiritual teachers” to include everyone in my life, knowing that each and every person has something to offer, I have found the clearest teachers to be children.  There is so much I have learned from seeing how we come into this world, what our natural state truly is and how we get pulled off track as we grow and develop. We so often look at our relationship with our children as one where we have to bare the burden of teaching them everything however if we shift our perception to a spiritual partnership, one where we teach each other, then the spiritual growth they can help facilitate for us is limitless. We can teach them how to interact per this world’s “rules” but they can teach us about our true nature and how to live it. They have truly helped me see how to apply some of the themes that were harder for me to grasp and serve as a constant reminder on practicing.

Fearlessness – Anyone that has seen a baby clumsily wobble around can see that fear is not something we are born with. It is something we learn. Children lead with their heart, diving into whatever action their heart guides them to without fear of pain, judgment or failure. All of these concepts are foreign to them and we can learn much from the “just go for it” attitude that children of many ages have. Letting our heart lead, and taking action without fear allows us to boldly live and revel in the rewards of new experiences.

Joy – Joy on the other hand isn’t something we learn, it is our natural state. A child’s general disposition is pure happiness. Eager to play, laugh and truly have fun, children embrace happiness and never question if they deserve it or wonder if it will last. As I have grown there are many times I have lost sight of the beauty in doing something just for the pure joy of it. Like many people I know, the to do lists can take over and keep me from fully living in the moment, especially when it is something as “frivolous” as having fun. What I have learned from children is that fun is never frivolous; it is something our soul needs.

Love freely – The heartache we feel in life can sometimes cause us to be guarded. Keeping love out completely or limited to those that seem “safe”, we lose the incredible gift that comes with a wide-open heart. Children don’t hold back love. If they want to give a hug, they give a hug. If a little baby wants to stare in your eyes and give you a smile for no reason, they do. There aren’t expectations of this love being returned, they just give it without condition. Each baby that comes into this world is the perfect love that we all hold in us and they show it however they feel guided to. We can begin to learn that this is our natural state from watching children of all ages embrace this emotion. It is who we are and the pain we learn is truly from expecting love back, not necessarily giving it.

Authenticity – Children learn the concept of “fitting in” from parents, friends and people in their life, they don’t arrive into the world with it. They are who they are. Many of us have seen a child want to wear outrageously bright, mismatched clothes simply because they like it and it represents who they are, never putting a thought into what others will think. Without the interference of judgment, children live completely authentically. This is something many of us spend years trying to get back to once we learn that what others think of us isn’t nearly as important as our own happiness. Children can show us that it is perfectly natural for us to be guided by our hearts and inner guidance, as it is how they live.

Curiosity – Nothing is more thrilling than seeing a baby look around, taking the world in and clearly demonstrating a complete sense of awe. They absorb everything around them without judgment so they can learn. They smile at every small accomplishment and are hungry to keep exploring. This is our natural state, a place of curiosity, bewilderment and awe. The world offers us as many unique things to learn and look at but often we become comfortable and lose the sense of wonder that we come into the world with. Children show us the incredible joy that comes from not being the expert but rather being a perpetual student.

Creativity – As adults we tend to lump ourselves into groups – left brain versus right brain, creative versus logical, structured versus spontaneous, etc. While all of these may be us having a tendency to being more comfortable leaning towards one direction or another, none of us are born into this world lacking any of these characteristics. All children enjoy coloring, making art projects, dancing to music or playing an instrument. They love bringing something beautiful into the world, and that doesn’t change just because they grow up. They play make believe games and daydream about the future. They demonstrate to us that a basic desire is to be in a creative space. Whether it is art, music, writing, inventions, machines or even new businesses all of us can benefit from allowing ourselves to be creative. As we grow, they way we express our creativity changes but they key is to never shut it out completely.

If we watch closely, children can show us how to get back to our original nature. Allowing ourselves to be our inner child, even if just for a moment, will give us an amazing gift of pure happiness.

With immense love and gratitude for all the children in the world – April

Affirmations for Mamas!

Check out my latest post on West Valley Moms Blog!

A spiritual Indian woman meditating on the riverbanks, in the morning.

Every mom that I know sometimes has doubts. Am I doing the right thing? Should I have reacted that way? Are my children eating good enough? Am I yelling too much? Am I spending enough time with them? Are they learning the right values? These are just some I have thought or heard but I could go on and on. Motherhood is definitely more of an art than a science and there is no perfect way to do it. The never-ending “recommendations” from “experts” as well as family, friends or even strangers can make our head spin with insecurity. Ultimately the pressure can lead us to that one looming question… “Am I a good mother?” Read More Here…

Give Love.

As Thanksgiving passes here in the United States we quickly transition into the season of gift buying and giving.  I was amazed how many people this year expressed they love Thanksgiving as it is a “pressure” free holiday, filled with gratitude and spending time with family versus the upcoming expectations that come from holidays that require gift giving.  While many have reflected on the paradox of holidays such as Christmas, a spiritual day that becomes wrapped up in feelings of anxiety and stress, we have yet to create a solution that makes these days more about their purpose versus the pressures of our society.  We contemplate how to make sure we get the “perfect” gift for someone, filled with fear of judgment if we get it wrong when in fact they are probably having the same fears and thoughts.  We lose the feeling of joy that comes from giving a gift, we spend more than we can afford and we lose sight of taking care of ourselves as the holiday comes closer.

The solution is fairly simple and can be described in two little words, give love.  While Givethis idea of giving love can manifest itself as a simple and thoughtful gift, spending time with each other or ensuring you demonstrate how much appreciation you have for another, if the intent is purely to give love then the fear of judgment can melt away.  Those in our lives who are as grateful for us as we are for them will appreciate any genuine attempt to give love over a “perfect” gift.  Trusting that our intent can be seen and felt, we can release the stress and enjoy the bliss that comes from expressing what we feel in our hearts.

As you determine what you will give to others this year instead of asking questions such as “What do they want?” or “How much will they spend on me?” or “How do I match what I got them last year?”, etc. simply ask yourself one question, “How do I show them how much I love and appreciate them?”.  Take note of anything that comes up, not judging it based on its material worth or how different it is from what you usually do.  As you do this, the gratitude and love you have for others will easily rise up and guide you towards new and creative ideas.  This simple shift in perspective will allow the experience to be much more enjoyable and fulfilling for you, as well as those you are giving to.

If you feel this will be an incredible shift for you and those around you, here are ways you can make it a little easier:

  • Start the trend – Tell your friends and family that you would prefer them to not buy you gifts or to give money to your favorite charity instead of buying you something.  This will help in releasing any of the pressure of what they will give you and leave you free to be as simple or extravagant as you want.  They may still chose to give but this will release expectations.
  • Set a limit – Setting a dollar limit with those closest to you can be an easy way to eliminate the stress.  The lower you go it becomes a fun game in how to be creative with little money.  For years my husband and I have set a limit of $20 or $25 and simply require that we get creative and make it meaningful.  It is my favorite gift to buy/make every year.  I also know families where everyone, including the children, only make gifts for each other and have the simple rule of not spending any money.
  • Write a letter – When you give your “gift” whether it be something you purchased, something you made, time you spend with them, or whatever comes to mind for you; give them a letter or card expressing your intent of the “gift” and your love and appreciate for them.  Most people would take a heartfelt letter as a very touching gesture and will make any discomfort you have fade away.
  • Share this post with others – Send this to your friends and family, letting them know this is how you are approaching it this year and to expect something different.  The idea that you will be spending time truly reflecting on how to give love to them may inspire them to do the same.  This will also help you not have guilt if they give you something that may have more material worth as they knew in advance that you might not be spending much money (or any money) on them.

To get your creativity flowing here are some ideas on great ways to give love:

  • A photo collage in a beautiful frame
  • A first edition of their favorite book
  • Cooking their favorite meal or giving their favorite dessert
  • For family not close buying a ticket or airline gift card to go see them or them come see you
  • A heartfelt letter or a beautiful quote expressing your love for them in a beautiful frame
  • A day filled with activities or going places that they love
  • A beautiful box filled with little cards or pieces of paper stating what you love or appreciate about them.  They can read one-a-day all year long
  • Buying them that one thing they have always wanted but would never buy for themselves
  • A basket full of items symbolizing a special day spent together or favorite things from their childhood
  • For kids buy them your favorite toy or book from childhood and share some wonderful stories with them

This year make a point to experience the beauty of giving without the stress or pressure.  Make this season a time of love and gratitude for those in your life.  Just remember; simply give love.

A Calm Holiday

This time of year is wonderful.  It is a time of giving, a time with family and friends, and an overwhelming feeling of helping others.  All of these things are why I value and am very grateful for this time of year.  However, as I look around and talk to others there is one thing that I also pick up on…stress.  People frantic about whether they got the right gift for someone, got enough gifts, decorated in time, bought enough food and even what they will wear to their Christmas party.   It seems the holidays have taken on the persona we apply to the rest of our lives and the world- how do we do it bigger and better?  It has become a time of out giving others, out decorating others, looking better than others, and eating more than our physical limits.  While I will happily acknowledge that this isn’t true for everyone, it is for many and seems to be getting worse.  In most cases people can answer yes to these questions…

Have you had that moment where you feel guilty because the gift you gave wasn’t as good as the one you received?

Have you worried about who will give a gift to you and you didn’t think to give to them?

Have you sat and looked at the gifts for your kids and felt guilt that you couldn’t get them the gift they wanted this year and had to settle for a cheaper version?

These feelings and thoughts take out the joy of giving.  The excitement in seeing someone open a gift with pure joy in the act is replaced by anxiety of the repercussions.  I would happily go into a conversation about how materialism has ruined the purpose of Christmas but that is an age-old debate that I will leave that to individual preference.  The main thing I would like to encourage us to do differently is address the holiday with a calm and grateful presence, versus a race to see how to do more than we can.  In a time when people don’t have the time or money to make every holiday a grand event, how can we do it simply?  How do we get back to it being a time of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation?   Although you can’t change everyone, you can make the choice to approach the events of the next two days to be ones of peace instead of hectic rushing.  Here are some tips to feel calmer through the day you worked so hard for:

Allow yourself to find the joy in giving– Let go of any concerns around what the gift is, or what the person will think.  Acknowledge that you have done what you can and give with joy.  Should there be some disappointment in the gift you are giving from the receiver, know that experience is their lesson to be learned in gratitude, versus yours in what to give next time.

Choose to be peaceful– This is simple, don’t rush.  Enjoy the moment and don’t worry about where you need to be when.  Trust you are exactly where you need to be and rushing through the holiday takes out your joy in it.  Too often people don’t even remember what the day brought because they were so busy.

Ask for help– If the events are held at your house do not hesitate to ask for help in cooking, money toward to food, cleaning up and entertaining.  You should enjoy the holiday as much as everyone else- do not forget that.

Enjoy receiving– For some reason this is hard for many people.  We are more obsessed with what we are giving that we don’t fully enjoy the moment of receiving a gift.  Allow the other person to see the joy and excitement you have.  Don’t rush through the opening and move on to the next.  Allow the gratitude to surface and fully be expressed before moving on.

Respect your body– The after holiday guilt is more than most of us can handle or deserve.  Give yourself the gift of enjoying the wonderful food in moderation and listen when it is done.  Decide before the party what sweets you will indulge in and minimize carbs and sugars throughout the rest of your meals.  Take a walk with family or play in the snow (depending on climate).  Tired? Take a nap!  Allow the holiday to be a time when you give yourself the priceless gift of self-care.

Merry Christmas to everyone!  May this be a peaceful and restful holiday for you!

See the miracles all around you!