What if today was your last?

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“If today was it, would you die knowing you did your best?

If tomorrow never came, would you be proud of the last thing you said to each person you love?

If someday was only now, would you do everything you’ve always put off?

If you knew you had a choice about what kind of life you could be living, would you choose different?

If you knew failure is impossible, what would you do?

If it were true that everyone you meet is you in another body, how would you treat them?

If love was the true currency of the Universe and the more you gave away the more you received, how would you spend it?

If fear were the biggest illusion and the greatest lie of all time, how would you choose to live your life?

If the Universe always supported a life lived towards achieving dreams, how big would you dream?”

Jackson Kiddard

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Surrendering Control

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“Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others but we cannot possess our children, lovers, family, or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well, yet in the end their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes.”

-Jack Kornfield

Emotional Intelligence: Mindful Parenting

 

 

 

 

This two-minute video is everything I aspire to be as a parent. If you haven’t already seen it, it’s a powerful video secretly recorded by a wife of her husband as he mindfully speaks to their daughter who is clearly very upset. It’s a great example of how we can help instill emotional intelligence into our children. When we respect and acknowledge our children’s emotions, we give them the tools to mindfully process and manage them more effectively. Little wonder it went viral.

I so admire how calm, compassionate and understanding the father is to his child’s feelings. He is talking to her but he is also mindfully listening to and respecting her feelings. He’s teaching her to acknowledge emotions rather than trying to hide or chase them away, observe them, label them if you like, and then try to let them go. As he explains, holding onto them for too long is when you find yourself in trouble.

It’s brilliant and such a tangible example of mindfulness. The video was posted on the Facebook page Love What Matters. You can go here and read the story in its entirety. Teachablemoment

I’ve already started teaching emotional intelligence to my two-year-old and it’s been interesting to see her positive reaction to it. Even at two years of age she finds comfort in being told that she’s allowed to have her current mood or feelings and that I will give her a safe place to have these feelings as well as strategies for moving past them.

Last night for example, she yelled at me and got in my face because I wouldn’t get on the floor and color-in with her. In my defense, I was 90% completed on another task and I really needed to get it done. And I’m also not going to simply give into a two-year old’s demands. I did however go down to her level, wipe her runny nose and tell her that I understood that she is angry with me and feeling disappointed. I explained that she’s allowed to feel that and that I still love her and if she wants a hug she can come and get one if and when she’s ready. She sat with arms folded and head down, eyes on the floor. I then moved away and let her be and within a minute she came over, hugged my arm and said “I love you mummy”. It was really beautiful. I validated her feelings, gave her space to feel it, and helped her release it. And when I had finished by task, I did get on the floor and draw with her. It ended well for all.

 

 

Happiness is a Choice

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“The essential religion is taking the whole responsibility for whatsoever you are. And immediately an insight arises: ‘If I am responsible for my suffering, then it is simple, I can drop it. It is my choice. I will not choose it any more.’

“A Sufi mystic who had always remained happy was asked…. For seventy years people had watched him, he had never been found sad. One day they asked him, ‘What is the secret of your happiness?’ He said, ‘There is no secret. Every morning when I wake up, I meditate for five minutes and I say to myself, ‘Listen, now there are two possibilities: you can be miserable, or you can be blissful. Choose.’

And I always choose to be blissful.’ “All alternatives are open. Choose to be blissful. And then there are people who can be blissful even when they are imprisoned, and there are people who remain miserable even when they are living in marble palaces. It all depends on you.”

~Osho

The Universe of Us

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‘She has been feeling it for awhile – that sense of awaking. There is a gentle rage simmering inside her, and it is getting stronger by the day. She will hold it close to her – she will nurture it and let it grow. She won’t let anyone take it away from her. It is her rocket fuel and finally, she is going places. She can feel it down to her very core – this is her time. She will not only climb mountains – she will move them too.’

Lang Leav, The Universe of Us

Look Within

 

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 “Just as life is made up of day and night, and song is made up of music and silence, friendships, because they are of this world, are also made up of times of being in touch and spaces in-between. Being human, we sometimes fill these spaces with worry, or we imagine the silence is some form of punishment, or we internalize the time we are not in touch with a loved one as some unexpressed change of heart. Our minds work very hard to make something out of nothing. We can perceive silence as rejection in an instant, and then build a cold castle on that tiny imagined brick.
The only release from the tensions we weave around nothing is to remain a creature of the heart. By giving voice to the river of feelings as they flow through and through, we can stay clear and open. In daily terms, we call this checking in with each other, though most of us reduce this to a grocery list: How are you today? Do you need any milk? Eggs? Juice? Toilet paper? Though we can help each other survive with such outer kindnesses, we help each other thrive when the checking in with each other comes from a list of inner kindnesses: How are you today? Do you need any affirmation? Clarity? Support? Understanding? When we ask these deeper questions directly, we wipe the mind clean of its misperceptions. Just as we must dust our belongings from time to time, we must wipe away what covers us when we are apart.”

Unglove Yourself

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“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”

― Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

The Balance of Life

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‘If you have experienced hunger, you know that having food is a miracle. If you have suffered from the cold, you know the preciousness of warmth. When you have suffered, you know how to appreciate the elements of paradise that are present. If you dwell only in your suffering, you will miss paradise. Don’t ignore your suffering, but don’t forget to enjoy the wonders of life, for your sake and for the benefit of many beings.’

– Thich Nhat Hanh, in “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching”

 

 

How Is Your Heart Doing? By Omid Safi

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and fast-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye […] and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. […]

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

Omid Safi is Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. Reading above is excerpted from the OnBeing blog.

Solid Like the Earth

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“Many people forget their own body. They live in an imaginary world. They have so many plans and fears, so many agitations and dreams, and they don’t live in their body. While we’re caught in fear and trying to plan our way out of fear, we aren’t able to see all the beauty that Mother Earth offers us.

Mindfulness reminds you to go to your in-breath and to be totally with your in-breath, be totally with your out-breath. Bring your mind back to your body and be in the present moment. Look deeply straight in front of you at what is wonderful in the present moment. Mother Earth is so powerful, so generous, and so supportive. Your body is so wonderful. When you’ve practiced and you are solid like the earth, you face your difficulty directly, and it begins to dissipate”

~Thich Nhat Hanh