Monday Mindfulness

Cultivating Strength, Joy, Peace & Resilience


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Pretending to be bored

Waiting for my thoughts to quiet.

With each breath, feigning an attempt to soften the tension in my muscles.

Always on high alert, my body is the ever faithful soldier standing at attention, ready to advance, attack, or defend.

My thoughts and feeling providing constant counsel, conducting their business at all hours of the day and night as if essential personnel.

It is a strange request I make that all the components that serve me in my daily busy-ness are called upon now to rest.

They are troubled by this pause as it could imply they may no longer be needed. They resist – the body…the mind…the emotions that want to protect and define me.

And yet, a strange and delightful spaciousness coats my experience when I am willing to just sit down and breathe.

It frees them all to not disappear but to serve me better. They become my friends, sipping tea on the deck, holding hands and dancing in the absence of mission and doing.

Oh, the joy of knowing my thoughts, my feelings, my body in the absence of need.

We rest here for a bit together, finding a freshness in how we coexist…

…and then we agree to do this much more often.


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Play Day

a painting by Susan Kerr

a painting by Susan Kerr

Instead of calling it work and begrudging it, what if today you call it play.  Approach the to-do list with curiosity and wonder as if something new and exciting were about to unfold.  Carry a smile in your pocket and wish genuine happiness to all those around you.  Treat your space of work as a playground. Let your mind play tag with creativity.  Flow through tasks and conversations as if gliding across the monkey bars. Delight in small accomplishments with the same flutter in your belly as when you first learned to swing. Invite play into your day.  Feel big, free, and happy.

Artwork by Susan Kerr (www.susankerrinspiration.com)


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Smiling Eyes

eyes 2

When the care is genuine, unconditional and free,

the eyes portray that authenticity.

When you truly love what you do and where you are,

the heart shines, the air softens, the eyes smile.

When you look into smiling eyes,

there you find hope, joy, inspiration.


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Evergreen

evergreen 4

Stand strong no matter temperature or conditions.

Shed the occasional brown needle with the wind.

Be nurtured and inspired by the earth, sun, and rain.

Stay evergreen with love and kindness.

And you will stand out in the forest amongst the trees.


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Snowflakes Falling Like Grains of Sand

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As a child, falling snowflakes and snow-covered landscapes meant a break from the routine, a chance to play in a different way, no cars rushing by, no one in a hurry to get anywhere, a chance to sip cocoa and enjoy meals together as a family because no matter who you were surrounded by they became family in a snow storm.

At some point we “grow up”.  Snow becomes a nuisance, a hindrance from work, a blockade to accomplishing life.  The critical plans for what we believe is the great work of our life come to a screeching halt and everything is all messed up, or so it seems at the time.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to life at the beach – to live someplace warm, where folks saunter around in flip flops or squish their toes in the sand as they stroll the beaches in quiet reflection, where the pace of life is slower, where by nature time pauses so that you can notice simple surroundings, breathe a little deeper, and reflect more on thoughts and actions.

Life seems so much more in the moment at the beach and maybe that is why I am drawn to it — sparkling water lapping up on the shore, warm sand reminding me to press down through the souls of my feet and feel the earth.  Life seems to slow down to a gelatinous bubbling, like the colors floating in a lava lamp.

Oh, how different life at the beach is compared to the hustle and bustle of a big city — that is, until a big snow storm hits.  When the snow comes, it is as if Mother Nature is saying, “Come on folks, slow it down!”   Have you ever noticed how blankets of snow on hillsides are remarkably similar looking to dunes of sand?   The sensation of snow crunching under the boots creates that earthly connection with your feet.   Feel the snowflakes splash on your cheeks, like the surf curling up on your toes.

There is rarely a more peaceful and beautiful time than when snow is softly falling.  Everything slows down.   Branches stand in stillness as snow gathers at their edges.  Animals tuck into nooks in tree bases, napping all snuggled together.  Snow brings quiet reflection, contemplative movement, an invitation from Mother Nature to slow down, notice simple surroundings, breathe a little deeper, and reflect more on thoughts and actions.

So, the next time the snow begins to fall and seems to be getting in the way of the greatness you had planned for your day, perhaps it is simply an invitation to pause, go inside instead of outside, and allow a new greatness, perhaps your true greatness, to surface from within.

So whether it’s snow in your boots or sand in your toes, slowing down to notice it may bring the perfect opportunity to experience life a little more fully.

***

Got my toes in the snow

                Hot cocoa tucked in my hand

                                Mother Nature says “slow down”

                                                Pretend the snow is like sand.

Take a moment…just relax…and get real.


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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.