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Archive for October, 2013

Breathing Paradise

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Let’s take few moments to breathe paradise. Where does paradise reside in you? Breathing in ─ Paradise. Breathing out ─ Paradise.

Slow the breath down. When you slow the breath, you slow the mind, and open the heart.

Drop into your heart center. Your heart center is a place of great awareness. Paradise.

Allow your heart center to be your teacher today. On your next breath in, notice the paradise that exists within, always.

Today’s mantra: Breathing in, I am Paradise. Breathing out, I am Paradise.


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Two breaths: First and Last

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

I remember hearing the story about coming into the world premature. My birth story included hearing how I was born seven weeks early. Separated from my mother right after birth, I was transferred to another hospital, put in an incubator, and hooked up to breathing support tubes and machines.

The story of needing support to breathe and being in an incubator has been on my mind after a recent shamanic journey meditation. In my deep state of meditative trance I heard, “All I ask of you is to remember me.” I wasn’t sure of the meaning, but I had clear images of being in the incubator and trying to breathe.

I don’t recall taking my first breath or breathing on my own. To this day, I find myself holding my breath when I’m stressed. At times, my breath is shallow. 

During the journey meditation I also heard, “I exhaled so you could inhale.” Was that my mother speaking to me?

The second most meaningful breath was my mother’s last one. I wasn’t there to see my mom’s last exhale, but knew her struggle with breathing through the years. Two breaths: my first and her last.

Perhaps it’s possible that with each inhale, we breathe in the world and with each exhale, we free ourselves of struggles in the world. Maybe with each breath, we gain insight and release pain. Each breath is a miracle that allows us to experience life and emptiness.

The journey ended with the words, “Stop struggling. The struggle is over.”

And so it is.


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At Home with Winged Ones

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Viewed the great egret fishing in the water — it’s white form reflectingOrchard Beach Bird

Listened to a great horned owl cry in the distance

Took a picture of a downy woodpecker upside down tap tap tapping

Chanted while two great blue herons flew over our head

Noticed our first rufous-sided towhee in the green underbrush with tinges of autumn gold

Observed sparrows playing in the trees quickly flying making it difficult to identify

Paused to look at a ruby crowned kinglet stare into the sky

The woods, the birds, the silence, the sanctuary of nature — my home. 

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Book Review: Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

Monday, October 21st, 2013

HardwiringHappinessFor years, scientists viewed the brain as a fixed organ with no potential for change. With the developing science of neuroplasticity, researchers gained a new awareness of our brains’ ability to change neural pathways and synapses. Rick Hanson’s new book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence translates these theoretical findings into applications in our own lives. With examples and exercises, Dr. Hanson shows how we can take incremental steps towards a practice of happiness.

As someone who enjoys learning about neuroscience, I found the book  interesting as it takes a detailed look into how are brains are wired to focus on the negative and not the positive and what we can do to change that so we can lead happier and more fulfilling lives. Hanson does a great job of taking very complex concepts from brain research and writing about them in a way that anyone can understand.

Our ability to hardwire happiness is all about focusing on the little things. The book focuses on events and feelings that you can pay attention to in order to build up the inner strength you need to face specific challenges. By focusing on positive experiences, you help yourself remember positive feelings more strongly, despite our brain naturally remembering negative experiences better.

Recent scientific discoveries have revealed that what we think and feel changes the brain. Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness shows how to transform the simple positive experiences of daily life into neural structures that promote lasting health, feeling cared about, and effectiveness. Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures full of happiness, love, confidence, and peace.

Drawing on neuroscience, psychology, and wisdom from the contemplative traditions, Hardwiring Happiness shows you how to overcome the negativity bias and get good experiences into the brain where it can use them. By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with an everyday positive experience ─ the sweetness of a cookie, the calming of a single breath, the warmth of a friend ─ you turn good moments into a great moments and that gives you durable resilience and well-being.

Hanson’s book offers the tools we need to heal old wounds, increase our motivation, handle stress, develop our inner resources and, ultimately, transform our lives. As Hanson says, “In mere minutes each day, we can transform our brains into refuges and power centers of calm and happiness.”

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This Too Shall Quiet

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

As I began my meditation journey with my teacher last week, I heard very clearly, “This too shall quiet.” I wasn’t sure what was meant by “this.” I allowed my heart to slow down and my breath to soften, and the meaning of “this” became more clear. The noise I have become so attuned to. The worry and anxiety I have become so attached to. The anger and fears I have listened to. “This too shall quiet.” 

QuietMy whole body relaxed into the quiet that resides inside. I could hear the wisdom of my teacher deep within:
“You’ve let noise fill you.
Let quiet fill you.
Let love fill you. 
You are never alone.
The noise will quiet down.
And this too shall quiet.”

I am very grateful for my teacher, GH, for holding space and being present.
Her peaceful and compassionate presence gave me the space to be available for inner quiet.

Photo by Mary Anne Flanagan

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