Lion Mind

Life can be overwhelming. The details can catch us and throw us for a loop. Completely distract us. Nobody gets by without ups and downs. Sometimes we fly, sometimes we struggle through and sometimes we think we’re going to drown. I know, I’ve been through all of these. The struggle for one person can be an easy fix for another, or the end of the line for somebody else. We are all different, how we handle situations are too.

I have some big scary decisions to make in the next few months. Decisions that require my kid at heart attitude to adult for a while. Ok I’m actually pretty good at adulting but I’d rather avoid it if possible. Don’t most of us? Don’t we want to have a fairly carefree life as devoid of troubles as possible? I know that I do, but as a realist, I’ll likely never have that. Nor will most of us. So we have to enjoy the good times while they last and deep inside, prepare for the storm that may face us down the road.

The past six or seven months have been pretty good for me, in general. Some awesome ups and a few downs but nothing major. Now, in the past month up to the present, I have had 3 major upheavals and definitely one, potentially two big decisions to make, with what should be an awesome event in the middle of it all, depending on one of the big upheavals. Really, life is such a mystery sometimes. These situations all probably sound mysterious too, but I don’t want to bore anyone with details. It’s just personal stuff that my mind needs to deal with. And how do I plan to do that? I’m not sure, but I’m working on it.
The last post that I wrote was about my unconscious beginnings with meditation and how it has been helping me along through most of my life without me realizing it. I still use my base meditation and have consciously added mindful meditation in the past 2.5 years. I use a phone app called Stop, Breathe and Think, created by a group called Tools for Peacehttp://www.toolsforpeace.org/ . This app has helped me over the past year to focus on gaining balance in my life (and is good for kids to use as well). Recently, a new meditation was introduced called “Lion Mind”. It has helped me more than any other meditation on the app and I carry the message with me every day. The bottom line of this meditation is that it helps a person to realize that the big picture is what is important, not the small details that can drag us down, known as the ‘Dog Mind”.  Dog mind is when we are paying attention to the details and getting caught up in them and not seeing past a situation that is distracting us. I’ve had the idea to see the big picture in situations for a long time, but this meditation paints a very clear picture. I have life goals and the Lion Mind attitude helps to keep me somewhat on track. Meditation in general has helped me to not give attention to distractions as much as I used to, to clear my mind, to see the bigger picture and the goals that I’ve set for myself. It’s basically helping me to be my own life coach ;D

My point here is to share how I’m dealing with the pressures of life. I’m not actively promoting The Stop Breathe & Think app but I’m certainly recommending it. I’ve managed to calm my mind, give distractions less of an audience and try to always keep the Lion Mind as my daily mindset. With all these big decisions to make and upheavals to deal with, we will see how it goes!

Stay golden my friends,

Jen

My Personal Scratch and Thorn Removal Technique 101

buddha

There are some things you just have to let out. Let go.  They hold you in their grasp and threaten to choke you.  You struggle to move past them but they haunt you, torment you.  Poke at you like a thorny rose bush, leaving emotional and mental scratches and welts.  If you read my last post here on “Musings” you’ll know that it’s been a tough year for me and some of my family.  Lots of little things that add up to feel like, or actually become, big things.  Since I wrote the last blog post, more interesting/upsetting events have happened that I won’t go into detail about.

How do we let all this crap go?  Really, how do we deal with it?  Sometimes we try everything we can think of and we just can’t do it.  Some things are just a momentary shake up and pass quickly, some things cut us to the core.

What works to help me heal?  I stop looking at myself.  I remove my ego the best I can from the situation.  I look outside myself to those around me.  They’re all going through crap too.  I’m not alone in this, none of us are.

To try to streamline my mind and spirit, I started to consciously meditate about a year ago.  I’ve worked at clearing my mind of clutter… very hard to do…  And to just BE.  To BE in that very moment with nothing bogging me down.  I push away all the thoughts that try to fly through my head.  They always try to rush back in and take over my quiet space so I give each one a quick acknowledgement and let it go.  Eventually, my mind quiets and I’m at peace.  When I’m done, I’m emotionally refreshed and ready to do battle with the world again.

I was having a very hard time sleeping last night and I was trying to calm my mind with an old mantra, one I’ve been using for a very long time to help me sleep, without realizing what it really was… Om mani padme hum.  This is an ancient mantra that originated in India and has travelled throughout the world. Saying it out loud, silently to ones self or seeing it written is considered a blessing.

Last night, as I relaxed and repeated this over and over to the rhythm of my breath, thoughts tried to creep in, but these thoughts were different.  I was thinking about the mantra itself, when and  how I learned it and how I’ve never known what it meant, just that it was a relaxing mantra and likely some blessing, as mantras are just that.  When I was done the meditation, yes I was still awake (I realized later, why) I thought about my first experience with the mantra and then looked up  what it actually means.  You can find a good description here: mantra .  I then let my mind wander back to my first sounds of it… ommmmmm maneyyy padmmmmey  hummmm….  I was 14 and my friend Catherine and I had just entered her family home after school.  We heard this wonderful soothing humming of voices coming from her basement.  We could see into her basement area as we went through the front door and I remember seeing a large circle of people sitting cross legged on the floor, slowly and gently sounding the mantra.  I’ll never forget that image or the lovely sounds of the soothing meditiation.  I had no idea what they were saying and I never did ask or research it, but after that day I would repeat a version of my own, ommm udmeyyy pudmeyyy hummm (pretty close) when I couldn’t sleep.  This single exposure to this lovely mantra has helped me to fall asleep since that time and I never realized that I was “meditating”.  My instinct knew that this was a tool that I needed.

For this, I can thank Catherine’s lovely mother who changed my life forever.  We never really know what others will carry with them when we have any sort of interaction with them.  As in my case, it wasn’t a personal interaction on that day but a universal one and my inner being knew that I needed this mantra to help me get through my life.  It may seem small, but it really is huge.  And I still appreciate it today.

Funny how life works.

Stay golden my friends,

Peace & love,

Jen

Roses and Thorns of life

I realized today that it’s been just over 3 months since I last wrote a post.  So much has happened in that time that my head is spinning.  There have been family upheavals and family joys. Changes at work that challenge me weekly, changes with my home that  have resulted in joy and frustration and changes inside me that have been up and down, making me feel bi-polar, which I’m not. But some days I feel like I am. 

I haven’t thought about my topic for this post, but as I write, I see that for all my woes, there are smiles.  At this moment I’m in an emotional slump triggered by a high excitement that has been squashed by reality.   Nothing major, more like #firstworldproblems.  Overall , life is good and I’m thankful for everything and everyone in it but sometimes events just knock a person over. That’s me right now and I’m in a fog and trying to figure out how sort things out. 

Back in the beginning of the year, my mother had just come out of a 6 month awake but comatose state as her body valiantly fought a nasty infection. Her recovery has been nothing short of a miracle and I’m forever thankful that she’s well again.  Shortly after that, there was a difficult breakup of one of my children’s relationships.  That was tough and still is, but life moves forward whether we like it or not. Everyone is coping their best.  The situation has brought 2 of my kids closer than they already were, and they were already tight.  I’m very proud of them. 

During all this time, my beloved kitty, Miss Grey was fighting kidney disease, but I didn’t know that she wasn’t going to survive. She was only 7 years old, way too young to have such an awful condition but it won and I had to say goodbye to her. I was devastated. I still am, actually, she was my little buddy that I rescued from the local shelter when she was 9 weeks old.  RIP my beautiful Grey.  She’s buried in a flower bed in my back yard and I can see her resting place from my kitchen window. ❤ 

Three weeks after her death, I went into the vet’s office and the ladies told me of an 8 year old cat they’d taken in and was living at the office since her owner had to unexpectedly move out of town and would be unable to take her.  The vet ladies asked me if I’d consider taking her in. They’d picked me as the best match for her and after a bit of thought I said yes.  I picked her up a few days later and she’s a lovely addition to my life. Her name is Minette and she’s a sweetheart. 

Just after Minette arrived, I had house renovations starting. I was concerned that the noise might scare her, but she was a trooper.  Which brings me closer to the present…. House renos.  I bought my little 1/2 acre orchard/garden home one year ago knowing that the house needed work.  The roof sprung a leak into my kitchen in the winter so my contractor came over and nailed down a tarp until he could replace the roof. He arrived in the spring with my friend Chantal as his assistant. It was great to come home each day to friends working on my house. 

When I bought the place a year ago, I knew that the house needed work. My contractor friend, Polly, came for a visit when I first moved in and gave me the DL on what I needed to do. Roof was #1 on the list but at some point siding needed to be done too.  I needed to re-do the kitchen too, it’s very dated and has mouse access holes. Good thing Minette is a hunter.   My contractors arrived in April and completed the roof, had the gutter guy install new gutters and then started on the siding and new windows.  Part way through the siding I had to see the bank for more reno money to get the siding and the kitchen finished.  As any of us who have done renovations knows, time and budget often overrun. I had no time frame but I definitely had a budget frame. I ordered my kitchen while waiting for a financial upgrade and then I was told I was at my limit! Oh crap! I’ve paid for half of my kitchen and now don’t have the rest of the cash to finish the order.  I have about 1/4 of what I need.

So, after all the ups and downs to the start of this year, my head is reeling trying to figure out how I’m going to find the rest of the money to just get the cabinets to my house, never mind installation.  Looks like I’m going to learn some new skills this year!  

But wasn’t I talking about balance? For the negatives there are positives?  I’m sure I’ll figure this one out and one day have my pretty bamboo kitchen but for now it’s an image in my brain. I just have to scrape all my piggy banks to see if I can find some bits of change! 

The positive is that the outside of my house is secure from the weather. Without a secure outside, there’s no inside.  And it looks amazing.  

During the past 2 weeks, on top of all that, one daughter just had gall bladder surgery and my other daughter living far away is moving and I’m denied time off work to go help her… But wait, I have to save up for my kitchen now!!!  Oh life, you have quite the sense of humour! 

What I’m seeing is that there’s usually a positive for a negative, but going through the negatives can sure cloud one’s mind and vision from seeing the positives.  

It’s all in hindsight.  The  lesson here? Don’t panic, just put your head down and work on it.  Something will change and as always, life will keep rolling, whether we like it or not.  Just try to find the small victories along the way because they really do add up.

Keep on keeping on, folks, 

Until next time,  find the sunshine!

Jen 

Really, how do we survive what life throws at us?

Life is not like a rollercoaster, it’s like a long distance, multi-terrain overland hike that takes you to the edge of cliff that you’ll eventually fall off.  Along that terrain, there will be valleys so deep that the sun will seemingly never reach them, and hills so steep and lined with jagged rock that they seem insurmountable. They shred your bare skin as you claw and scramble to reach what you hope is a smooth top… to rest.. blessed rest.

I realize that not everybody has a life like this. Some people have parts of their lives like this, where they struggle to breathe for a time but eventually life smooths out, either due to choices or to circumstances.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’ve had a pretty good life, but with a lot of struggles along the way.  But we all have struggles.  How do we cope?  We all cope in different ways.  Some people don’t cope, they swirl deeper into despair, not knowing how to rise out but for the most part, we humans are a pretty resilient bunch and we manage to sort stuff out and keep rolling on.

I’ve been learning a few new tools over the past year or two and the newest tools that have really helped have been practicing mindfulness and doing daily meditation.

In an earlier post here at Musings in Life, I wrote Musings on my Evolutionary Yoga Practice.  Yoga has helped to not only stretch my somewhat unflexible body, but it’s given me a new appreciation for just being in the moment and not thinking about my worries for that moment.  That doesn’t mean I don’t deal with issues, I am just able to take a break from my mind’s constant chatter.  Has anyone noticed that our minds are constantly rolling idle chatter through them?  I didn’t really notice until somebody pointed it out to me a few years ago and when I attempted to stop it I couldn’t!!  That drove me a bit crazy!  So I started to try to blank out my thoughts for small amounts of time and focus on only seeing a pale blue sky for as long as I could, and then the thoughts would creep back in.  Over time, I learned to stay quiet for longer periods and I get a bit better every day.  I’m still learning and still practicing.

More recently I decided to add meditation to the mix to attempt to chill myself out a bit more.  I figured that it can’t hurt right?  I downloaded an app onto my iphone called Stop Breathe & Think and started to do daily guided mindfulness meditations.  That was almost 6 months ago and I’ve progressed through a couple of different apps and now meditate on my own, but I still sometimes use the apps.

During yoga I always get about 5 or so minutes of meditation/quiet time at the end of a class but I add to it sometime during the day or evening.  My goal is to do 15 or more minutes a day of just being in the moment, taking time to push away thoughts for a while and just let my brain rest.

I have noticed that since starting to pay attention to mindfulness and practicing meditation, I react differently to situations.  Not that I reacted negatively before (but sometime I have… being a relatively normal human…), but now I have tools to deal with my emotions and to think with a bit more clarity at each situation.  I have gained the skill to stop and think, take a deep breath and look at all sides of a situation before deciding how to act.

Not RE-ACT, but ACT.

My local yoga studio, Terrace Yoga Studio has started a monthly class called Mats and Mantras to help us newbies along on our mindfulness journey.  I’ve been able to make up my own mantras, suited to my needs.  I have to say it’s going really well.

I just feel that we are all in this thing called life together.  None of us will have a perfect life, there’s no such thing.  Some people fare better than others, but those who fare better can help those who are struggling.  We all need to join together and not judge others.  For those people who live in despair, whose lives are swirling out of control, we need to be kind and non-judging. We don’t know where they’ve been or the struggles that they face daily and we need to be gentle and kind and help our fellow humans feel loved and appreciated.  Sometimes we don’t see much result, but one day a small change in them happens and they see a seed of hope.  I recently witnessed this and have so much joy for the person who received that seed.

We all have gifts and to share those gifts is also a gift to ourselves.  We really do reap what we sow.  Share love and show kindness and receive in return.  Really we only have each other to lean on to navigate those valleys and reach for those peaks without being shredded (too much) along the way.

Sending peace, love and light to each of you,

Namaste,

Jen

Napping is our Nature; Reasons Why You Should Take Time to Nap

Nap anyone? Here’s a great post on why we need more!

Itchy Quill

napping logo copy

Do you remember your first job? I worked in a fish and chip shop in Southern England. I was 14 years old, and my responsibilities consisted of peeling potatoes, chipping them and then blanching them ready to be deep fried by the owner Mr Fukiyama later. He was a Japanese immigrant who had lived in the UK and owned his fish and chip shop for nearly twenty years. I have never tasted fish and chips as good as he made them since.

I worked six days a week, 1.5 hours Monday to Friday, then 2 hours on Saturday morning; they were the cruellest. I would be so tired, dragging myself out of bed at the crack of dawn to make sure there was someone there with the owner to collect the fish delivery that would be shipped fresh in a freezer van from the South Coast.

There was one particular…

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