Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Mindful Spontaneity January 28, 2013

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meditation“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Today, I meditated. And it was good.

Many people meditate on a regular basis, and at a times in my life I could have counted myself among them. Many others seek to create the space in their lives to develop and maintain a meditation practice – but experience only sporadic success. And many more – still “want” to meditate regularly – but just never quite get around to doing it enough for it to “count”. This can happen despite how good it feels when they have success. These days, I am sorry to say – I am somewhere in the latter two camps. Though I do “get there” with what can be best described as sporadic inconsistency – my general sense is; it is never quite a enough – it happens too infrequently and I never give myself enough time. (That said – I am a fan and regular practitioner of a number of brief “awareness, breathing and centering” meditations which are relatively quick – 2-4 minutes. And I do find them helpful.)

You see in my mind – I have some idealized notion that the best time for me to meditate (and I am talking about a 15-45 minute practice here) would be the first thing in the morning. My thinking is, at this time of day – a meditation would serve to clear my brain for a peaceful and productive day. (Of course this is also the time of day I also want to squeeze in everything else, too – writing, exercising, etc. They all seem like they would work best first thing in the morning.) On an intuitive level – it makes sense to me – but on a practical level it just isn’t a good time for me. Maybe because I already spend quiet, reflective time most mornings; enjoying the birds in the yard, watching the early morning sky, sipping coffee contemplatively on my porch. Most days – it is a calm and “meditative” start to my day. And as my mind and body shake free of the sleepy cobwebs that cover my morning countenance – I quietly find myself attending to other simple morning rituals – breakfast, shower, putting away dishes and that sort of thing until it is time to begin work for the day. Making a list of projects, priorities and tasks, catching up on emails and then just getting down to the actual business of the day. It works for me – but try as I may – I just haven’t been able to squeeze meditation (or any of the other items) into my routine, on a regular basis.

And so they fall into rotation at other times. After dinner – can work well for walking. Writing works on quiet afternoons or evenings. And meditation? Well – that’s the tricky one. If I am too tired in the evenings – I fear I will just doze off to sleep. In the afternoons – I am usually busily wrapping up my work and shifting into dinner/family mode so – it often gets lost. So what was different about today you may ask? Well this time when I thought about meditating after working for a couple of hours, I simply – did it. I didn’t try to plan a more opportune moment later in the day – I simply stepped away from what I was doing for a half hour and did it. And it was lovely…

Also a departure from my meditation “norm”, today I found a lovely bit of meditation music to accompany the experience. You see, typically, I just sit quietly – but the addition of the music added a lovely, purposeful “sacredness” to the moment. And I discovered a cool website for downloading music for the mind, body and soul: http://mysoftmusic.com/new. Good stuff. I chose a piece that was just the right length of time, I was clear about the visualization I wanted to use in my mind and I just went for it. And it was particularly sweet.
Ommmmm… Ahhhhh… And afterwards? Afterwards I felt clear, and calm and centered and quite simply – I just felt really good. And the experience has propelled me through the rest of my day.

For me, it feels like I accomplished something – which of course I did AND it is ironic when you think about – because that something – was sitting quietly and “doing nothing”. But the paradoxical nature of meditation and its effects are part of what I like about it. (A quick search on the internet will pull up numerous examples of how meditation benefits its practitioners on a multitude of levels, but I am not going to delve into that here.) Now, I don’t know if this is going to be the “new normal” – but I can certainly see how it might work for me to make it – just that. It’s fitting really when one contemplates the meaning of mindfulness – to allow myself to meditate rather than to attempt to force it into a schedule.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that story with you today. As someone who spends a lot of time, planning and has a strong commitment to thoughtful contemplation and creating structures to support your dreams – I guess I want to also acknowledge that sometimes what is called for is allowing for the organic progression of things. Mindful spontaneity, if you will. A good reminder to me to allow myself to trust my intuition and be in the moment. What about you? What are you going to allow yourself to do? Peace…

 

The Balancing Act February 16, 2010

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Responsibilities, we all have them, some more than others. For many of us they are the bane of our existence. We feel overwhelmed, dreaming of all the things we would like to do if it weren’t for all the things we have to do. And yet, there is a certain sense of pride that you experience when you have met your responsibilities, when you know you are taking care of things. Those who shun their responsibilities are often shunned themselves. We do not admire those who abandon their responsibilities; they are seen as “irresponsible” (of course) and selfish. And though we may admire what appears to be a “carefree” existence in others – many of us don’t feel like it is a real possibility for ourselves. The trick of course is in finding a balance.

“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” (And if you can get past the scene in “The Shining” and think about it – that simple saying has a potent ring of truth to it.) Loaded down with the responsibilities of home, family and work – many of us could (and often do) go from one task to another throughout our day – leaving little time for relaxation, reflection and pleasure. Though our lives are not filled with the toil of our ancestors, they are also far more complex than they were in times past as well. Finishing one item on our agenda – simply makes space for the next to rise to the top of the list – never affording a real break. So what do you do?

There is an Italian expression, which simply translates to: “Work to live. Don’t live to work.” The culturally relevant idea takes in a certain prioritizing and valuation that many of us seem to miss. When I get to the end of my life – I would hope that my epitaph says something about how I “lived life to its fullest” not simply that I “paid all the bills and made sure there was always clean laundry”. Life itself is fleeting, our time here unknown, our future uncertain – so making time for all of the bits is the challenge. When you include enjoyment in your list of responsibilities you open up the possibility for a fuller experience and simply a balanced life.

Choose the activities that fill your day wisely. Value all the aspects of your existence from your work and family to your interests and passions and allow yourself the space to incorporate it all into your regular existence. After all, if you don’t take responsibility for your own fulfillment and happiness, who will?