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Posts Tagged ‘Service’

What Is Your Good Life Manifesto?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

About a year ago, I applied to be a part of the inaugural launching of the Good Life Project™ (GLP) with Jonathan Fields.

GLP is a movement. A set of shared values. A community. A creed, bundled with a voracious commitment to move beyond words and act. First, as a manifestation of your soul. And then as a quest to have the adventure of a lifetime, and to leave the world around you changed.

As soon as I read that description, I applied to be a part of the project. I made it to the interviewing round and had an amazing conversation with Jonathan Fields about bringing Toning the OM™ to the next level. I shared how I wanted to create more triZENbe communities (Zen Tribes). My goal was to create meaningful connections through inspiring (meditation) videos and global heart-centered workshops and conversations. After my interview, I received an acceptance email from Jonathan to participate in an intense 10-month program. I was one of 100 people who were accepted into GLP, but due to the financial cost, I wasn’t able to join the project, and had to decline.

After I let go of my deep disappointment of not being able to afford enrolling in the project, I celebrated the fact that I was part of a very small group of people that was accepted. And for a year, I have followed the Good Life Project™.

Another aspect of GLP is a weekly web-show hosted by Jonathan with “acclaimed entrepreneurs, artists, authors and thought leaders.” At the end of each interview, Jonathan asks, “What do you think makes a good life?”

As I still ponder my answer about what makes a good life, what has emerged for me is: love, connection, and service.

For me, a good life is all about having heart centered connections rooted in love and service. My good life focus is about co-creating experiences to slow down, opening my heart, remembering my true self, and living from that space. 

Connections, love, and service are my way of living aware, awake, and alive. That is my good life-long project.

How about you? What is your good life maifesto?

What is your good life manifesto?

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What Are You Doing?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Twenty years ago I traveled to the Bahamas to volunteer for two weeks to help rebuild a library and assist with various clean-up projects.  I joked with friends that if God asks me to do service work in the Bahamas, who am I to deny the call? I traveled with two college staff and seven other students. We were asked to bring extra canned goods with us as we were going to work in a “poor” section of the Bahamas. I filled one duffel bag with peanut butter and jars of grape jelly. When I arrived at the volunteer center, I unpacked my turquoise duffel bag and found that a large glass jar of grape jelly had broken and my clothes were covered in broken glass and jelly. I started to clean the sticky bag and then I just lost it – I started crying. My bag was a mess and I thought the jelly would never come out so I threw the whole bag in the garbage – clothes and all. My friends told me they would help clean it out, but I told them to forget it and just tossed the duffel bag in the garbage. The next morning I woke up early to find my bag by my bed, all clean and saw that my t-shirts and socks had been rinsed out and were drying on a line outside. No one said anything about the jelly jar meltdown and we spent the next two weeks painting, cleaning, and playing with children.

I was reminded of this story last week after making dinner for myself (which is very rare). I began making food and then half of my dinner spilled on the floor. I exhaled exasperated and started to throw the rest of my dinner in the garbage. I stopped and asked myself, “What are you doing?” I slowly cleaned up the spilled food, fixed my plate, and sat quietly eating my dinner.

There are so many moments that I am unconscious of how I am reacting or responding. I realize when I am exhausted and have little reserve that I just give up. There have been hundreds of times throughout the last twenty years when I have had the “broken jelly jar moment” and wonder what other ways I have responded. Am I willing to allow difficult moments to occur and not let them overtake me? Can I pay more attention to what I am doing and how I am being?

What is your broken jelly jar story and how do you respond? I am grateful I spilled my dinner last week and that the MTA had signal problems because it allowed me to dig deeper into my internal resources and ask myself, “What are you doing?”

Mary Anne

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My Hug with Amma

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Amma - Hugging Saint

Amma - Hugging Saint

“The first step in spiritual life is to have compassion. A person who is kind and loving never needs to go searching for God. God rushes toward any heart that beats with compassion-it is God’s favorite place.”

Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi Devi)

I joined hundreds, if not thousands, of New Yorker’s last week when I went to the Manhattan Center to receive darshan with Amma. Amma is affectionately known as ‘mother’, ‘hugging mother’, and ‘hugging saint’. She has devoted most of her life to humanitarian causes around the world, especially in her home country of India. Amma says her sole mission is “to love and serve one and all.” Her only wish is “that her hands should always be on someone’s shoulder, consoling and caressing them and wiping their tears, even while breathing her last.” Amma’s purpose is to embrace the world – otherwise known as an Amma hug. She holds you tightly in her arms, like a mother holding a new born baby. She whispers in the ear of each person she hugs, and can often be heard saying, “my dear, dear child.”

There are no words to possibly express the experience with Amma – each person has their own spiritual awakening. While in her presence, I found myself more open to the divinity within. After receiving my blessing, my hug, my embrace, and love, I walked away wanting to just sit in stillness and silence. I found that I wanted to be reminded of love, compassion, and service. I wanted to rest in the place of noticing how love shows up in my life. I wanted to hear the sound of my heartbeat and my breath. I wanted to look at each person that caught my eye and just smile.

I watched as each person slowly walked away from Amma’s embrace – many smiling, others with tears rolling down their cheeks, and others placing their hands on their hearts. As I watched streams of people, everything suddenly slowed down, and I realized that I was also smiling and crying simultaneously. I closed my eyes and prayed for the willingness to give myself the same compassion Amma so lovingly shared with me.

In one simple and profound act, Amma is able to touch the hearts and minds of millions of people. But with Amma it is more than being held – it is being seen and loved for being a gift to the world. It is an act of selfless service by BEING with people where they are at. As I continue to feel the love vibrate within, I am reminded of all the things I do each day for work, for school, for getting through each day and it is not the actions that are the service, but the love I give to them. If I can show up each day with love and compassion with myself and all those I meet, I can be of more service to the world.

In what ways do we embrace the world, or even embrace one another? As Amma says, “Love is the foundation of a happy life. Knowingly or unknowingly we are forgetting this truth.” Amma on several occasions has said that it is important not only to feel love but also to express it. “After all, love is our true nature. When we do not express love in our words and actions it is like honey hidden in a rock.”

How do you share love and compassion? How do you want to be of more service each and every day?

Dedicated to Amma, to my friend Padmini, to Lorene, to my beloved mom, and to all those who generously share their smile and hugs with me.

I AM Love, Mary Anne

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Living Succinctly

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

I recently finished the book The Power of Less, by Leo Babauta. In his book he talks about creating a blueprint for living with less clutter, noise, distractions, and unnecessary interruptions in our daily living. Babauta says, “By setting limitations, we must choose the essential.”

How can we choose the essential? I started looking at all the “stuff” in my life. These are the things that fill up my home, my desk, my inbox, and even the trunk of my car. I began to notice that I was surrounded by so many unessential things. My vision is to live more succinctly. I want to be able to live with fewer things and make myself available for more experiences. A rich filled life for me is not having more things, but the ability to spend time with good friends, travel to new places, and create space for more learning.

To live succinctly means keeping the essential and letting the rest fall away. A good example that Babauta refers to in choosing the essential is in a poetry form known as a haiku. A haiku is Japanese style poetry written in seventeen syllables on three lines (five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables). A haiku is usually written about a nature related ordinary moment. Back in 1990, I wrote a Haiku poem in response to some volunteer work I was doing with children in the Bahamas.

Little arms and hands

Wrapped around my waist show me

The beauty of God-

Here is to speaking and living succinctly – and noticing what begins to show up in your life. Are there places in your life where you can set limitations and free yourself for more of the essential? Take notice of how you fill your days, your desk, and your home.

Start with the beauty of a Haiku. Everyone is invited to send me their haiku poems and I will post them. Send your poems to toningtheom@yahoo.com.

This blog is dedicated to all my English teachers who inspired me to read poetry and encouraged me to write. The haiku is dedicated to all the children in the Bahamas where living succinctly and lovingly was a gift I still carry today.

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