These days, we all seem to have more time on our hands to reflect upon our lives. What are those things we really miss? Who is really important to us? How will we carry what we’ve learned these past several weeks to make our lives more fulfilling, happier? We may also be reflecting upon the past–what we may have done wrong; how we may have hurt someone; how we may have a substantial amount of guilt or shame about our behaviors. But, if we look at the totality of our lives and all we have lived, I’ll bet those periods of regret are not as big as they seem. If we look at our lives from the long view, we know that we have been on a journey–the biggest part of it is understanding ourselves and our personal life’s purpose. Everything that has happened in your life has led you to a deeper understanding of who you are. Instead of criticizing yourself when you look back, how about looking at your past with loving eyes? See that each step on your journey was sacred. You know now that you live in the present–that’s the only thing any of us really has or has ever had–and the pandemic reminds us of that continually. Be intentional about your day. Decide what it is that makes you happy and incorporate that in it, as much as possible. Continue to check-in on how you are feeling. Your feelings are the barometer that tells you what your energy level is. If it is low, what can you do to change it? Pet the dog? Go for a walk? Play with your children? Cook your favorite food? Whatever it is, you are the only one that knows intimately how to bring your energy to a higher level. In our society, we are taught to put others first and to love and forgive them. The biggest secret of all is that we need to love ourselves unconditionally before we can do that for anyone else. When you feel your energy getting low, take a moment and put your hand over your heart, breathe deeply and send loving thoughts to your heart. Practice showing the same amount of love, kindness and forgiveness that you show to others, to yourself. It is truly the most important gift you can give–and the one that keeps on giving.
We’re all living our lives differently than before Covid-19. We know there will be an end to our quarantine. What are those changes that you are living that you would like to continue once things go back to a “new normal?” Maybe it is keeping in better touch with your loved ones; continuing a hobby you just started; maintaining an exercise and wellness regimen you created; meditating or just being mindful of each moment of your day. Whatever fills your heart and makes you feel complete are important to continue. During this time, we are more aware of what we are doing because things have slowed down for most of us. But, now that you are more aware of how you are feeling, it is important to continually make choices so that your life continues to be intentional. When life is hectic, it is easier to just “do” without “being.” Many of us have the opportunity to practice just “being” right now. Write down those things that you would like to continue doing post-quarantine. Better still, also write in a journal about what makes you happy every day. Just the task of writing it down will help you reflect on what is really important to you and will serve as a good reminder when things get back to a “new normal.”
Okay. Here in Minnesota, we have been “sheltered in place” for 7 days. It seems longer than that somehow; however, it surprises me that I’ve grown accustomed to staying home. Not that I am a person that has to go outside to be happy–that’s not me, at all. But, I don’t find myself regretting not being able to go out and do whatever activity pleases me at the moment. I’ll bet that’s true of a lot of us–we’ve accepted WHAT IS. And What Is is that we are all quarantined for the foreseeable future.
Humans have lived on the Earth for about 6 million years. There’s nothing we haven’t experienced as a species. Ancient philosophers” and scholars’ works reveal that human nature has been pretty consistent throughout the millenia. One such writer is Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher who was the founder of Taoism and the reputed author of Tao Te Ching. Taoism stresses becoming one with the rhythms of the Universe. William Martin, a present day author of Tao-inspired books, interpreted Lao Tzu in a book he wrote called The Sage’s Tao Te Ching…Ancient Advice for the Second Half of life:
We Are Becoming Embracers of Life
The sage accomplishes much
by expecting nothing particular
People are just people,
events are just events,
life is just life,
and death is just death.
The sage embraces
people, events, life and death
This the sage learned from the Tao,
which enfolds all things
in an unconditional embrace of love.
We are not becoming optimistic,
We are becoming embracers of life.
Even before the Covid-19 challenge, magazine racks were dotted with magazine articles on “achieving happiness; finding happiness; getting happy,” etc. Is unhappiness an epidemic, as well? Let’s face it, ever since the 2016 presidential election, things have been unsettled nationally and that unsettling has trickled down to the state, local and even, neighborhood levels. No matter what side of the political arguments you find yourself on, there seems to be plenty of blame to go around that helps explain why we are feeling unhappy about what we see around us. But happiness is and always has been, an inside job–and that is you tending to your body, mind and spirit.
Now is a perfect time to check-in to see how you can be doing better, since you probably are stuck at home, like I am. Let’s talk about what other folks are doing:
Do you have goals for your body? If so, what would you like to continue doing or doing differently, now that you may have the time to plan it out? If you have baskets of magazines you haven’t gotten around to, now is the time to clip those exercise ideas and put together a exercise regiment that you can follow daily. Put together a schedule and post it to your refrigerator to remind you what you have set your mind to (just in case you get sidetracked). If you already have an exercise program, mix it up a bit so that you find new enthusiasm to do it.
And, speaking of mind. It’s time to do a little mind-clearing. What do you spend time thinking about? Are those things wanted or unwanted? If they are unwanted, write them down. In fact, write them down every time they pop up in your mind so that you can see what is dominating your thoughts. Chronic attention to unwanted things holds you in place and doesn’t let you go where you want to go. No need to chastise yourself about what you are thinking about or try to ignore it. Just notice it is there and let it go. You are an evolving being. You can be fully satisfied about where you are while understanding that you are eternally evolving. Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want. When those thoughts pop up, notice them, recognize what they are and then let them go. If you want to do a ceremony, at the end of the day, you can go outside and burn all the unwanted messages you’ve accumulated. You might even want to top it off with a little dance, chant or song…
Appreciate where you are, who you are and what is in your life each moment. There is a lot to be grateful for. Spend more time writing down what you are grateful for in your journal each day. Take time in the morning, evening or both, to quiet you mind by meditating. Find a quiet space in your home or find silence while walking outdoors. When you are still, visualize yourself having a grounding cord that goes from your body to the center of the Earth. Feel how secure that makes you feel. Only let the outside media and people into your secure space that empower and support you. as much as possible.
How was your day today? Was it better than yesterday? Have you learned more about yourself and how adept you are becoming at handling the uncertainty you are living in? Do you feel yourself growing in understanding? During this crisis, it is hard to stay in the present. We’re worried about the next news coming out of the CDC, the White House and our own Governor’s Office. Yet, the future won’t help us. Thinking about it makes us fearful and when we are, it is hard to be present to what is happening right now.
Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher who has written several inspirational books wrote something I think is very fitting to help us stay present in The Power of Now–A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment:
“When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution. So, whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation.
Use your senses fully. Be where you are. Look around. Just look, don’t interpret. See the light, shapes, colors, textures. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be. Listen to the sounds; don’t judge them. Listen to the silence beneath the sounds. Touch something–anything–and feel and acknowledge its Being. Observe the rhythm of your breathing: feel the air flowing in and out, feel the life energy inside your body.
Allow everything to be, within and without. All the “isness” of all things. Move more deeply into the Now…(In the Now) there are no problems, only situations to be dealt with now or to be left alone and accepted as part of the “isness” of the present moment. Problems are man-made and need time to survive. They cannot survive in the Now.”
It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? The entire world is grappling with an invader we know little about. It seems like everyday there are more cases, more closings, more fear. We know this is not the first pandemic we will live through–there are more to come–that’s because we are living in a worldwide community. The lessons we will learn for Covid-19 will become the foundation for dealing with future invaders. But, you and I haven’t changed. We are the same people we were last week–it’s just that the information we are barraged with is different. In some ways, it could change our worldview. Maybe this crisis seems bigger than anything you’ve been faced with before. But, it’s not different than choosing other things to let into our lives…we know, more than ever, that we have to be intentional. We have to choose where to focus our attention, our energy and and our time. Are we going to let breaking news scatter our sense of security continually or are we going to remind ourselves and those we love what is meaningful and important to us and focus our attention, our energy and our time on that. Spread the word…We’ve Got This!
Like most of you, I am finding it challenging to be in this new world of a pandemic. How much information do I need to know? How do I protect myself? What supplies do I need to have on-hand? When I went to a large discount store yesterday, I was surprised to learn there were no paper products anywhere in the store. The store was all sold out and a clerk told me (with some amusement) that she heard the local grocery stores were, as well. Did I experience the results of a community hoarding mentally, brought about by FEAR?
Once I overcame my mild shock, I decided to drive to a nearby grocery store and guess what? It had plenty of paper products. I was so relieved–not only that I could purchase what I needed–but that maybe there wasn’t a community hoarding mentality, after all.
My response to this point has been to stay informed, be smart about my behavior and stay positive! As I get older, I tend to want things to stay the same, but they don’t. Challenges like the pandemic will continually come up as we live our lives. The fact is that everything changes and all we have is this moment…NOW. Rather than letting the FEAR of change derail us, it is important to remember that nothing has really changed about the fact that all we have is NOW…this moment. Our work is to make sure that our inner world is balanced, so that we are ready to respond to anything that comes across our paths. Wayne Dyer stated, “Our present moment is a mystery that we are part of. Here and now is where all the wonder of life lies hidden. And make no mistake about it, to strive to live completely in the present is to strive for what already is the case. You can either make use of these precious moments in a state of appreciation, which is to be here fully now, or in a state of depreciation, which is to wish to be anywhere but here. When all is said and done, now is all there is, and all there ever has been.”
As you go through your day, do you do it with authenticity? I think it is fair to say that most workplaces are political–meaning that there are certain written and unwritten rules about conduct, hierarchy and expectations. Perhaps the day flies by and you realize that you were on automatic pilot and behaving in a way that others expected you to or that had become a habit. Reflecting upon your day, you may be amazed that you acted the way you did, especially because you had some strong feelings that may have played out differently if you were more aware of your actions.
One of the best ways is to be more intentional about your day. Before you leave home in the morning, take a few minutes to reflect on what is on your calendar–who are you meeting with and why–and what outcomes you would like from those meetings. What projects will you be working on? What type of an impact would you like to have on the projects?
Then, see yourself going to those meetings and working on those projects. FEEL what it’s like to be doing those things. FEEL what would make those meetings and projects successful to you and ACT on those feelings. You will be acting from a place of wisdom.
As you become more authentic in your day, you will begin to see the world in a new way–with a newfound wisdom. Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu teachings indicate that we all have the ability to be acting from a higher level of consciousness. They refer to our “third eye,” which is an invisible eye that looks at the world with a sense of knowing and goes beyond the physical world.
Incorporating this “third eye” into our everyday world requires patience and practice. The same amount of love and patience we give to a child, we should give to ourselves in developing our own sense of knowing.
Your spirit has an incredible knowledge base that you have built up through the millenia. That wisdom is available to you and it can be reached, but you have to know how to do it. The best way to access it is through meditation, when you quiet your mind and see with your third eye.
I continue to be amazed at how each of us lives our lives. We all have the same minutes in an hour, hours in a day and so on, yet we fill that time in ways that are unique to us. Whatever we let into our lives in any given moment is shaping the experience we are having–be it the news, people, animals, social media, books etc. Are those things that we let into our lives feeding us or are they adding to our malaise? Becoming more intentional about what we let in is essential for creating the life we want to have.
One way to bring your energy level higher is to express gratitude as much as possible during your day. Start with this practice:
1. Express your gratitude for 3 good things that happened OUT LOUD daily.
2. Before you go to bed at night, write down one thing you were grateful for that happened during the day.
3. When you wake up in the morning, say thank you for all the things that serve you and make your life easier and throughout the day.
4. Say thanks to your partner and your children and others you care about.
5. If you are feeling angry, switch your focus upon something that makes you feel good.
6. Thank yourself for you!
7. Using your phone or computer, find a few gratitude messages and listen to them weekly.
8. Take time to relish the good moments.
9. When someone complains to you, tell a positive story about what is good about it.
10. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.