Splash Into Calm: Digesting Experiences

The holiday season is officially here. The past two blogs have focused on the food we eat.   You would be shortchanged if I didn’t dive deeper into what I feel is paramount to living a happy, fulfilling life. It is our capacity to digest, assimilate, comprehend, and shape our experiences

Our lives, are affected by our perceptions, judgments, and behavior toward those who disturb us. The real problem arises when our attitude limits our ability to live a peaceful and centered life. It is part of the human condition, so if you are human you probably partake in some of these attitudes. Please do not berate yourself (or go into denial). Take this as an invitation to become conscious of thoughts you might not even know you have.

Every tradition offers help with this challenge. The yoga texts have some relevant philosophy and I broach this subject now because this time of year we need a little extra help. I usually introduce this concept to my students right before Thanksgiving and it is greatly appreciated.

The teaching tells us that the agitation in our mind stems from our thoughts and opinions of others. Most people we meet fall into four categories and when we cultivate certain positive attitudes toward them, our state of mind will remain calm and undisturbed.

Let’s take a close look at the four attitudes:

Attitude #1: Cultivate friendliness toward the happy

Some people we know are happy about their successes and are filled with excitement and joy. However, before we know it, even as we are congratulating them, jealousy creeps in. This disturbs our state of mind, especially if we want for ourselves what they have attained.

Shifting your attitude to open up to their joy and celebrate their happiness can fill you up, leaving you feeling calm and centered. Next time you feel uneasy around someone’s happiness, take a breath and notice what is bothering you. Then bring yourself back to the moment and make the choice to shift your thoughts to an attitude of friendliness and happiness toward their success.

Attitude #2: Cultivate compassion for the unhappy

This one seems easy when we first look at it. Of course we are compassionate toward others who are not happy. However, we have all encountered people who are whiny and annoying and at times we would like to shake them and tell them to chill out! It is easy to get frustrated and judgmental toward those individuals.

 When you find yourself feeling impatient with someone who is unhappy, even if their behavior is inappropriate, take a breath and look beyond the behavior and practice compassion even if you do not feel compassionate. Recognize that those who are unhappy and negative are not at peace; realize how difficult and painful it must be to live that way.

Your shift in attitude from annoyance to compassion will calm your mind. Open up to looking beyond others’ discontent and your judgment will slip away. Remember, you can act with compassion while taking care of your needs around a negative, unhappy person. You will know you behaved with kindness and it will ripple throughout your day.

Attitude #3: Cultivate delight in the virtuous

I am sure you have come across a person who is quite intelligent or talented, or a wonderful athlete well-respected by others, or someone who might be generous and kind. No matter what positive qualities a person might possess, there are times when envy will set in as their mere presence makes us feel “less than.” We try to find something about them to pull them down a notch. We might not even realize we do this, but subtle negative thoughts often surface.

This thinking only disturbs your state of mind. To help foster a peaceful mind, cultivate appreciation, and take pleasure in others’ virtuous qualities.  Try to find delight in people you might envy by noticing their good qualities and consider cultivating those aspects within yourself.

Attitude #4: Cultivate disregard toward the wicked

We have all come in contact with those who are rude, disrespectful, or downright mean. Why wouldn’t we become defensive and judgmental? After all, we would never behave that way!

These people disturb our state of mind and emotions. It is helpful to keep a few important concepts in mind:

  • Remember that you have had times when your behavior was inappropriate and harmful toward others.
  • Do not take the person’s behavior personally, even it is directed toward you. They did not wake up that morning and specifically pick you out to be rude to, even if it feels that way. Keeping this distance helps you ignore the behavior of others, which will make your life much more serene.
  • Keep your focus on your feelings and responses, not theirs. That is the one thing you can control.

Keep in mind that this practice if for you. You are cultivating a more peaceful, joyous way of living with the capacity to digest your life experiences with a new perspective.

This holiday season, see if you can put the person you are struggling with in one of these four categories. Were you able to cultivate any of the attitudes? Did your state of mind change? Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: Splash into Calm

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Mistakes: No Big Deal

I left for a relaxing beach trip with my husband knowing I had quite a lot of work to get finished for my book. With a full plate, we both decided that a change in scenery was needed. After a long drive, as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that my focus had been on my book and I had forgotten to write my Wednesday post.   I have not missed a week for over a year.

I allowed myself to let it go for the evening and slept well.  It makes me realize that we are human and no matter how disciplined we are or hard we try, we will make mistakes.  It is what weI do after the mistake that makes the difference to our serenity.

The tools I teach help me on a daily basis to move away from reaction, and move toward a healthy response.  It took a few simple breaths to slow me down enough to realize that forgetting to post a blog was no big deal. 

I guess the moral of this post is that we are human; we will make mistakes, get confused, and forget from time to time.  The part of the equation that we do have control over is what we do next.  Take the well needed pause so you can treat yourself with patience and kindness.  As I sit with my cup of coffee, I feel calm, centered and grateful that I have a choice.

Let me know in the comments below what you do when you forget, get confused or make a mistake.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Staying the Course

It is easy to be thrown off course by things that are out of our control.

I have been writing a book, and today finished the second draft.  Off to my publisher it went for her review.  I was excited about this major accomplishment, but my joy was short lived as I ran into a few glitches in areas in which I am unfamiliar. 

The question I pondered was this:  How do I want to handle this situation?  Do I want to allow it to derail me, or take the next step to move into solution?  I chose the latter.  What I did next was simple—I took a break!  Yes, I took myself out to dinner with a friend and after, got myself a treat.  It was a form of celebration for a major achievement.  For me, that was living in the solution. 

There are times we simply need to regroup before moving forward.

I was not allowing myself the joy of sharing my accomplishment.  We need to pat ourselves on the back from time to time for our hard work, rather than quickly moving to the next step.

Had I continued to sit at my computer trying to figure things out, I would have gotten nowhere, except stressed out.  For me the solution was to fill up so I could forge forward.

Now I feel calm and centered, ready for the challenges ahead.

Let me know in the comments below what you do when you are stuck.  Do you give yourself time to regroup?

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Celebrate Love

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face, and show the world all the love in your heart.  Carol King

This lyric from the song has great deal of meaning in its simplicity.  As we enter February, we see  many commercials and items to celebrate love.  It begins with ourselves.  It is important to fill yourself up so you have something to give.

We all have problems to deal with and it is easier to shut ourselves down. Even something as simple as a smile at another or a kind word can bring on an upwelling of loving feelings.

Showing love can be a decision, rather than a feeling.  

I find when I teach at the Cancer Center, no matter how I am feeling when I walk in, my spirits are uplifted when I am able to give from an open- hearted space.  I watch others fill up, leaving feeling calm and centered.

When you wake up tomorrow, cultivate a feeling of showing love and kindness.  You will feel more content from the inside- out.

Let me know in the comments below how focusing on love works for you.  Were you able to show care and kindness to yourself?  Was it easier to show it to others?

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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It’s Just a Thought…

There are times that our thoughts take over and our mind gets out of control.  We end up obsessing about people, places and things with no way to stop.  Not only does this take us out of the moment, but it is absolutely exhausts us.

Sometimes we feel guilty about our thoughts.  Remember, a thought is not the same as an action. 

When the mind complicates things, we need a simple antidote to help us. 

Next time your mind gets out of control, try this:

Say to yourself:  It’s just a thought” or “Thinking

This will help bring you back to the moment so you can get centered. You might find you need to remind yourself of this often throughout the day!

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  If it did not help, what do you think got in your way?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Your Resolutions Need Perseverance!

Discipline is the ability to carry out a resolution long after the mood has left you– Susan Smith Jones

This time of year we make resolutions to improve ourselves in some way.  We get a strong start and eventually our good intentions peter out and we are back to our old habits and behaviors. 

This is where we need a bit more than intention and resolve.   We need discipline!

Discipline means: Activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

The skill that needs developing is not so much what you are trying to improve upon for your resolution, but the skill of follow through:  Perseverance.   

The day to day execution of your resolutions will be easier when you remember the goal without getting caught up in it.  The first priority is to focus on attaining your goal one day at a time.  Step by step at a realistic pace, a healthier, happier, more centered life will emerge.  It’s worth it.

Do you have perseverance in your new goals?  If not, what do you think is getting in your way?  Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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How to Keep the Care in Caregiving

When traveling by plane, one of the first instructions you are given is to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before putting it on the person next to you needing help.

This is very true of caregiving.    Our lives center around the patient and before long, we neglect our needs.  We do not take time to eat properly, exercise and participate in the activities we used to enjoy.  We grow frustrated, angry and depleted.  We feel guilty for feeling this way when our loved one is suffering, which perpetuates the spiral.

We cannot give what we do not have.

It is vital to remember to take care of ourselves.  Each day we need to take time to fill up which will help both you and your loved one. When we do, we are more centered, more efficient and have more stamina.  We can fill up so we can give with the same love and compassion we show ourselves.

Let me know in the comments below how you might be able to take better care of yourself.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Article: Executive Jobs Can Hurt Their Health

The article from the Atlanta -Journal Constitution focuses on the consequences of stress for top executives.  The demands of their jobs create anxiety and depression, forcing some to resign.   Without coping skills work demands create problems. 

At Custom Calm we offer complimentary medicine, which enhances traditional medicine.  The article sites a top executive from Aaron’s Corporation having to leave his job and was able to return “with relaxation and medicine.”  His work was outstanding with the changes he made.

Medicine can help with the illness caused by stress, but coping strategies are needed to get to the root of how to effectively lower or eliminate the consequences of stress.

Life is stressful, whether you are a top executive or a retiree.  Learning the skills needed to help yourself get centered and calm are vital to healthy and joyful living.

What has been your experience with high stress situations?  Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Mulit-Tasking: Is it Worth it?

I was at a restaurant and a woman with two young children walked in. She ordered she sat down and made a phone call.  Her children were on either side of her and they were served their food.  With her cell phone to her ear, she ate her meal with her family.

Unfortunately this is a very familiar scenario.       

The reality was:  She was not attentive to her phone conversation, did not really taste and savor her food and was not present to her small children.  This is how many live their lives and sadly, it considered normal.

 We end up “doing”, rather than living.

 In our rush to get it all done we miss out on our moment by moment experiences, true connection with ourselves and those who are with us.  We do this at home, the car, office, our family and social engagements:   Nothing is excluded.  

When we participate in one thing at a time and are fully engaged we experience more joy in life.

Let me know in the comments below how multi- tasking shows up in your life?  What could you do to make a small change?

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Digest a Happy Thanksgiving!

Physical digestion is most effective when we take in nutrients from our food and excrete what is no longer needed. 

The same is true for digesting life.  When we embrace all of our experiences no matter what they are and then let them go, we live a centered life.

The problem is that we hold on to both the positive and negative.  Our mind ruminates on what happened, leaving no room for fresh new perspectives.  We overflow with information, emotions and thoughts and we miss out of the present moment.

It is important to find ways to clear away some of the clutter.  Think of it as rebooting a computer when it is not responding.  Practices of meditation, breathing and yoga are quite effective at helping to make room for new experiences. 

Thanksgiving is here and we will be around family and friends, which can bring up many challenges.  Our mind is so busy that we eat and do not even taste our food which took hours to prepare.

With each experience, let go of what is not needed and have a Thanksgiving with only the leftovers that you want!

Let me know in the comments below how your Thanksgiving was.  Were you able to stay present and let go of what you did not need?  If not, what do you think stopped you?

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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