A Complete Guide to the Practice o Meditation

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The Window of Gratitude

Everything out your window has the potential to be an epiphany, demonstrating the miracle in the mundane. What you see depends on your attitude and the gratitude you have for the the truth of life in all of its imperfect beauty.

Will you do something for me? Go look out your window. It's okay, I' ll wait.

It doesn’t matter where you’re located. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night. Go to that window and look out. . .don’t glance. Even if it’s a view that you’ve seen hundreds of times before, take the time to slowly drink in everything that you see. Don’t filter the results or categorize them. Simply look with open eyes.

What will you see? It depends. You might see a neighbor walking their dog or the push and pull of traffic on a street or even just the bricks of the building next door. What you are seeing, in some sense, doesn’t really matter. It’s how you are seeing that makes all the difference. When you look out with eyes that are truly open, what you will see is life - real life, raw life, life in its purest form, replete with possibilities.

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The Elements of Kindness

​I have been blessed with many moments of kindness by complete strangers. Most of them simple, but they stay with me. I often reflect on them, and hope that I have also shared kindness with those unknown to me. 
 
Roughly thirty years ago I was working in a bicycle shop in Sacramento, California. I loved it! I had eclectic coworkers and I received discounts on bikes and gear. After two years, I was ready to move on to a new adventure. I wanted to ride a mountain bike from Sacramento to Moab, Utah. My route was drawn on a map and I purchased the camping gear needed.   
 
I was young and my entire life plan only took me to Moab;  I was open to what the Universe offered me.
 
The trek was going to begin in June. I chose the roads least traveled, combined with some of our National Parks. I was planning a solo adventure, when a frequent customer, at the bike store suggested he join me. I don’t remember thinking it was either good or bad; just a different plan. 
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Your Adventure Awaits

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” — T.S. Eliot 


On the first day of 2019, I sat down and meditated on how blessed I am to get this chance at a new year of life.

I focused on my intention to embrace the year ahead as one big magical adventure. My mind raced at times while thinking about this challenge to myself, but as I slowed down and focused my breathing, I found myself feeling calm and hopeful about what’s ahead.

If I have one big goal for this year, it’s to approach all of my professional and personal decisions from a place of adventure in 2019. Or, as one of my favorite poets the late John O’Donahue writes, I want to “awaken my spirit to adventure” this year. (You can read his poem in the “Sunday Reflection” section below.)

This year, I want to venture out, venture forward and venture into the unknown. I want to make decisions by asking myself, “Am I going to see and/or experience something new by doing this? Will it scare me or push me outside my comfort zone? Will I be able to look back and feel like I learned something or grew in some way? Will it be fun, meaningful and worthwhile?”

If my answer to these questions is “yes,” then I’ll know I’m making the right choice.

In 2019, I want to push myself to try things I might have said “no” to in the past. I want to challenge myself to keep an open mind about new opportunities. I  want to stop looking at the items on my calendar as things I have to do, and instead, view them as experiences that I get to embark upon. And, I want to keep track of it all along the way.

That’s why I’m excited about “I’ve Been Thinking… The Journal,” which came out last week. This journal is a place for me (and for all of you as well) to write down what I’m thinking and experiencing throughout the coming year. It will also be a place for me to document how I’m feeling, what I’m excited about, what I’m scared of, and what I’m hopeful about.

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Gratitude for a Happy New Year – Ask these 10 Questions to Manifest Your Best 2019

Dearest you,

Tis the grand finale of 2018 this week and I’m curious about something. How do you say goodbye to the year past and welcome in the new year? What kind of rituals do you practice if any?

In past years I would spend a few days creating a vision board looking forward to the year ahead, setting my intentions, affirmations, cutting out pictures from magazines claiming the images that aligned with the feelings I wanted to emulate in the events of my life. The truth is I spent a whole lot of time focused on the outcome of my desires and little time on what had already transpired.

I had come to notice that without a closure, an inventory of my evolution and growth for the previous year I find that I’d be still somewhat motivated by a sense of “ more” or “ not enough”.


Has that happened to you?

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A Reason To Celebrate Today

When you look over the past twelve months, what is the first thing you feel? Joy or frustration? Accomplishment or disappointment? Excitement or dread? Or is it a combination of two or more of some opposing feelings?


Life is full of peaks and valleys, so it’s completely normal to look back on your past and have mixed emotions. Bad days, weeks or months eventually make way for the good times. Taking all of that into account results in a year recognized only in moments – major moments that changed your life for better or worse.

Whatever it is you are feeling now about the past, present, and future, I want you to take a moment to do these three things:

  • Make peace with it.
  • Embrace it.
  • Plan to either grow or change it.


If you look back on the previous twelve months and only see a succession of choices that resulted in negative outcomes, make peace with it.

  • Maybe you lost your job.
  • Took a big risk that left you in the red.
  • Went through a nasty divorce.
  • Lost a loved one.


Whatever happened, find a way to make peace with it. If you’re still struggling to get back up from bad experiences, don’t get too down on yourself. We all heal at different paces. Remember, life isn’t a race. Take the time you need to lick your wounds. Cry. Get angry. And when you’re ready, make peace.

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Happy Holidays! Gratitude is Contagious – Let’s Share It!

Wanna spread some holiday cheer?

I love doing an attitude of gratitude challenge for the last week of the year. It helps me move through the maze of socializing (believe it or not I’m kind of a hermit!) which honestly exhausts me even though I really love my friends and family.

First thing is I do a personal list which includes people who have inspired me and helped me grow etc. Yup, I’m gonna share mine with you for 2018! Then YOU share yours!

Then every day until the end of the year begins your day hand on heart tuning into Gratitude- the essence of it and all it means to you!

First this year I am really grateful for YOU. I know you could be reading a gazillion other people’s blogs. You chose to sign up for mine and for that I am so so grateful.

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Multisensory Thanks Giving

Multisensory Thanks Giving is a celebration of the loving parts of our personalities. They are the parts that are grateful and content and caring and in awe of the Universe. They are the parts that distinguishing between love and fear within ourselves reveal, and as we recognize them, we use them to create and cocreate with love rather than collaborate in fear.

Multisensory Thanks Giving is giving thanks for being a part of the transformation of human consciousness that is occurring for the first time. It is giving thanks for the ability to create futures of contribution and care. Thanks and Giving go together. As our lives become lives of Thanks and Giving, they become unified expressions of love, because gratitude and contribution without attachment to the outcome are expressions of love.

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Appreciation & Gratitude

Appreciation & Gratitude

What is the difference? This is something I have thought about many times … is there a difference between gratitude and appreciation and, if so, what is it?

It has been something that has always stuck with me … this feeling that they are so similar, yet different. As I tuned in and asked Spirit for guidance, I understood what the difference was for me. I FEEL appreciation more than I do gratitude. I am sure, because I am clairsentient (a feeler), that it makes it different for me than for someone who is Clairvoyant (a seer) or Clairaudient (a hearer). I always knew appreciation “felt” different … deeper to me, but I wasn’t sure why.

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The Spirit of the Season

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain

And so it begins…

The holiday madness. The holiday rush. Everywhere you look, you see ads for this and that. Must buys. Must haves. Must gets.

I, for one, find it all to be overwhelming. That’s why this holiday season, I’ve decided that I want to try and stay present and focused on what the holiday spirit really means to me.

For me, the holiday season is about joy. It’s about my faith. It’s about generosity of spirit (not generosity of my wallet). It’s about kindness to my fellow human beings.

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Gratitude for the Worst Things I’ve Ever Experienced

“ Life is messy, tragic, terrifying, but also unbelievably breathtaking. There are deep gifts hidden in the most demanding challenges that life throws at us. In a time of crisis, gratitude is the key to opening your heart and unlocking the magic contained in these truly profound gifts.” - Jan Desai

In the ring stands a boxer. He is clearly exhausted. In the early rounds of the match, he was a fighter. Then, there was a hope of winning. That hope now seems long gone. Now, the boxer is simply trying to survive. Cut and bleeding, he attempts to defend himself. Taking one body blow after another, he endures the punishment, waiting for the sound of the bell.

Does life sometimes leave you feeling like this boxer? Are you dazed and exhausted, struggling to navigate your way through whatever challenge or crisis you are facing? Do the overwhelming negative emotions that you are experiencing feel like crushing blows? Are you barely enduring, waiting for some relief, believing that you may never find your footing again? If so...come sit next to me!

Life can seem like a brutal and overwhelming opponent. Believe me, I know this feeling firsthand. One doesn’t make it into their sixth decade without experiencing a multitude of potential knock-outs. Death. Divorce. Illness. Infertility. Depression. Addiction. Really, any kind of loss is like an unexpected sucker-punch. You don’t see it coming and, when it hits, you are overwhelmed by the crushing unfairness that sends you reeling into the darkness.

How I Made it Through My Toughest Fights

Let me share my toughest fights with you. Let me be completely transparent about how I’ve felt during these insurmountable times. Let me show you how I’ve made it through to the other side. My prayer is that, in doing so, you will no longer feel completely alone. In fact, I hope you recognize my words as those of a dear friend who is reaching out a hand in recognition, comfort, love and inspiration.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Mystic Spinning of Threads

I wonder where you are tonight.

Each of you. You who I lived with

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Be Aware Of Progress

Are some things getting better?

The Practice:
Be aware of progress.

Why?

There are always things that are getting worse. For example, over the past year, you probably know someone who has become unemployed or ill or both, and there's more carbon in the atmosphere inexorably heating up the planet.

But if you don't recognize what's improving in your own life, then you feel stagnant, or declining. This breeds what researchers call "learned helplessness" - a dangerously slippery slope. It typically takes only a few experiences of painful entrapment to create it but many times as many counter-experiences to undo it.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: One More Taste

When on the go, there are more

places to go. When stopped, I’m

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Receive Generosity From Others

Let it sink in that receiving generosity is good.

Do you accept the gift?

The Practice:
Receive generosity from others.

Why?

Life gives to each one of us in so many ways.

For starters, there’s the bounty of the senses – including chocolate chip cookies, jasmine, sunsets, wind singing through pine trees, and just getting your back scratched.

What does life give you?

Consider the kindness of friends and family, made more tangible during a holiday season, but of course continuing throughout the year.

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Before He Knew

He was thirteen before he knew what a hand drill was. His father saved and bought him one for 75 cents. Before that, he made holes in wood by twisting coal-fired nails into the grain. It was his job to throw wood in the fire after school. When red hot, he’d pinch a nail with a pair of pliers and twist it through the wood, which went soft and dark until there was an opening. Now his skin is thin and just last week he stumbled out of bed and landed hard on the radiator, his forearm tearing like a thin curtain. It took an hour to stop bleeding.

He just took care of it himself. We are held this way in the fire of time where we go soft and dark till our skin goes thin and just waking tears us open.


A Question to Walk With: Ask an elder in your life for a story about the first tool they learned how to use.

This excerpt is from a new book in progress, Compass Work: Finding Our Fathers While Finding Ourselves.

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The Pink Lemonade Solution

Sh*$ happens.

It comes in many forms: illness, money issues, breakups, loved ones pass on (even worse, sometimes it all happens at once)!

Since we can’t control the ups and downs of life, we can discover empowering ways how to respond and react.

I’ve always loved that old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

When I am confronted and challenged with these darker times, I like to make “pink lemonade” – it’s about finding the blessings in the problem and also adding a huge dose of love to it.




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Unconditional Love

​I struggled in high school and dropped out at age 15. At the same time. I moved out of the home I was raised in. There was no direction in my life. My inner compass was being ignored. My outer world was filled with confusion and scarcity. 

This brought me many opportunities to make horrible decisions. It also brought me the opportunity to experience Unconditional Love for the first time ever. 
 
At age 18, all my options appeared to be exhausted.  I had experience as a waitress. I was uneducated. I had no money; but I knew there was a better life waiting for me. 

It was my mother that showed me Yosemite National Park was seeking summer help. Three weeks later I rode the Greyhound bus to Mariposa, California. I can’t remember how I made it into Yosemite.  

My life changed overnight. Each day was filled with anticipation. My job was bussing tables. Clearing tables was not what I was living for, but it was good.
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Between Troubles

The old painter tells me that he loves to drive through small towns, so he can sketch the light and strike up conversations with the young woman who pumps his gas and the lobster fisherman who lets him bait his traps. He loves to meet life as it bubbles up between troubles. Last summer, he wanted to meet that poet from Nebraska, the one who speaks so simply of all that matters. He didn’t want to bother him, just to say how grateful he is for what his poems open. Eight hundred miles later, he was asking for the poet in the old bookstore. Then he drifted into the antique store in Garland where he bought four lanterns. It’s there the owner said, “Oh Ted, he lives in Dwight.” So the painter took his lanterns and drove the back road to Dwight where he left a note on Ted’s window that read, “Your poems matter.” Once home, he set up the lanterns and confessed that he needs more light as he talks to death. The next day, he painted a barn he saw in Dwight and sent it to Ted. In telling me this, he’s all aglow, a lantern himself. He takes my hand and wells up, “I love this life.”

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I Rise on the Song of the Sparrow

There is a large courtyard in the building where I live. It plays an important role in my self-balancing to deal with the day ahead.


I wake up, meditate, get dressed, grab a coffee and go to sit in the courtyard – there is an overhang of the second floor so there’s protection from the rain.


My courtyard experience always starts with Gratitude. When I sit down of a morning, my thoughts turn to all the things I am grateful for, from evenness of spirit to beloved friends.


Second comes a visit, not from something majestic or mighty but from the lowly, common sparrow.


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." ---Matthew 10:29-31


Sparrows are sprightly birds, quick and attentive.


I have created a position that when I see a sparrow it’s going to be a good day. Look at them, going about their business, hopping and bopping, cocking their heads this way and that; in camouflage colours of gray and brown, when they explore around the woody branches they are visible only by their movement. And then they fly, quickly, to the hedge or the two Japanese upright maples. This being a chosen sign for me, I do not have the opposite idea – that if I don’t see a sparrow it’s not a good day. I just miss them when they don’t show up.

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What If You Could Turn All Your Wrong-Doers Into Angels

Imagine this…… one day - seemingly out of the blue - you have an awareness that all your rejections and “failures” are gifts, and all the “wrong-doers” in your life are actually,  angels and/or spiritual guides - leading you (or knocking you back) to your true path. 

If a person throws you away,

Say thank you.  

If you get fired from a job,

Say thank you.  

If your forever relationship ends,

Say thank you. 

If no one shows up for your event

Say thank you.  

If you keep hitting walls, 

Say thank you (and look for a door!)

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind