Monday Mindfulness

Cultivating Strength, Joy, Peace & Resilience


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Make It A Day

It should have taken 20 minutes, but instead I sat in traffic for an hour and a half, I spilled tea in my lap, and I had a headache.  Immediately, frustration bubbled up in me and I said, “Grrr, I’m having such a BAD day!”   Why????

Why is it rational thought encourages us to label everything, to justify experiences, to identify feelings, and define our world as “good” or “bad”?   Rational thought is a great gift, but it sometimes gets in the way.

The ego steps in to say, “this is hard work, it’s a big challenge, so to help you feel better, let’s call it bad”. (or maybe even use more expletive words)

What qualifies as a bad day…or a good day?  Does it change over time as new labels are affixed to experiences?  Can experiences be relabeled?  Why is it easier to label the bad before the good?  Why do we need labels?

Perhaps, instead of creating labels for the challenges, the hard work, the setbacks, the traumas, they could just be there…all just part of LIFE.

Would I really be loved less if people around me didn’t hear me complaining, if I told of my day without defining it?  Is the outcome truly different if I call a situation good or bad?  Or, can I simply move through the experience and see these challenges as adding to who I am, but not defining me or causing that roller-coaster of emotions.

The tea in my lap dried up.  Deep breaths alleviated my headache.  I arrived in time and my day went on.

I think I will work on not having so many good days or bad days, but just having more days.


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Move From a Place of Joy

Susan Kerr - Joy

When you do something…

…are you fully present?

…does it make the corners of your mouth crease upwards?

…does it make your belly tingle?

…does your spirit dance like a leaf on the wind?

…do others around want to jump in?

…can you feel their curiosity about this delightful state of you?

…do you feel the heat, the light of your true self shining?

…do your eyes sparkle?

Yes, yes, yes!!!!!  That is JOY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let them in.  Teach them how.  Remind YOURSELF!

We need more JOY!

Sparkle…laugh…love…find that natural state of being —

and do it over and over and over again.


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Racing to Get Her Zen On

Racing      The door flung open, bells slashing loudly and abruptly against the wooden molding.  She raced in, tearing her coat off, kicking her shoes from her feet, keys dangling from her teeth.  Her breath was heavy, forehead glistening with sweat.  And, as the other students sat on their mats waiting for class to begin, she looked up through her tousled bangs and shouted, “I’m here to get my Zen on!”

Since when do we live in a world where we must turn our Zen on?  Why is it we need to make formal space in order for us to experience such a natural state?

What would happen if we no longer forced spaces in our day for “being in the moment” and instead each day naturally contained them — opportunities for breathing deeply and richly, moments of acute awareness of and engagement in our surroundings, and action from a place of compassion and kindness?  What if every day included time to play, to create, to enjoy our food and each other – not scheduled time, but naturally occurring moments in our day?  What if we could let go of goals and outcomes so that all of our actions could naturally lead to positive end results?

A few weeks ago, my mom greeted a work colleague with a question – “What are you doing tomorrow, on your day off?”  The friend paused and, after rendering a bit of a puzzled expression,  said, “I don’t have days on and days off…I just have days.”  He went on to explain that there is no difference in his experience of “work days” and “non-work days” as he treats every day as a gift and finds reward and ease in each day.

That is getting your Zen on!

Class ended.  She slowly stood up with a soft sparkle now in her eyes and a gentle smile in the corners of her mouth.  Her movement was easeful, her air calm and floaty – she was almost unrecognizable from the form we saw racing in the door just an hour before.  She stood back and let others move first through the doorway.  She asked one student about their health, another where they had been the prior week.  She had an awareness about her, an aura of wisdom, an unbridled confidence, without arrogance.

She had indeed gotten her Zen on and hopefully it will stay with her a little longer each time it happens until she arrives at that place where her Zen evenly flows throughout each and every day.

Until then, we’ll keep the light burning, the door open, and hold a space for her and all the others who are racing to get their Zen on.


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Enjoy the Ride

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Just the other day, I walked out of my house to find a praying mantis sitting on the hood of my car. I almost missed seeing him, his sleek self trying his best to blend in with the silver paint. I wondered why he chose to perch there. I wondered why I assumed it was a “he.” I wondered if he knew that I was on my way to teach a yoga class, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was planning to come with me. So, I said, “You know I am getting ready to go and you might not like the breeze that comes with driving down the busy roads to the studio. You may want to hop down now.”

It didn’t seem to faze that praying mantis. It just sat there on my hood, even despite the gentle prod I gave it with my finger. So, I started the car and slowly backed down the driveway.

I paused the car a few times in the driveway to offer it a chance to jump down and choose another place to sit, but it didn’t budge in the least. In fact, as I put the car in drive and headed up the street, that little praying mantis simply spread its wings in the increasing breeze of our forward momentum. I rolled the window down at the next stop sign to once again encourage it to hop off as I knew we were soon leaving our snuggly little neighborhood. Could it hear me? Did it understand the imminent danger in heading out onto busier streets? It didn’t seem to care the way I thought it should.

So, we kept on going. As we reached 25 mph, its legs shook a bit and its wings ruffled along its back, but that praying mantis looked amazingly calm…happy (if I dare claim to know what a happy versus angry praying mantis looks like).

The road became more curvy and bustled with cars and trucks zooming past in the opposite direction. I was now up to 45 mph and I thought surely it couldn’t hold on, surely it would be scooped up in the wind and carried off into somebody’s grill. Oh, no. Now I was responsible for its fate!

Alas, we arrived at the studio. Can you believe that little guy was still there?! Just sitting on my hood as if nothing had happened. Me?  — I was wings ruffled, head spinning, utterly exhausted from the experience. That praying mantis remained perched contentedly on the hood of my car, apparently quite happy with the entire turn of events. I asked if this was its intended destination, as if it had somewhere to go and had it arrived on time. It just sat there, not so much as flinching as I bent over, just inches from its small, curious face.

Then, it occurred to me.

Perhaps this praying mantis really didn’t need a ride. Perhaps it really had nowhere to go. Perhaps that praying mantis was just there to remind me that the journey – the quivering in your legs, the wind in your wings — is your real purpose and arriving at your destination is secondary.

The praying mantis smiled…and as I walked off towards the studio, I was almost certain I heard him say, “WOW — what an awesome ride!”

Enjoy the ride!