Category Archives: Mindfulness

Little Nudges

IMG_5446You know how the universe sometimes conspires to send you a message?  Well, I’ve been pondering an issue for the last few days and the universe is busy throwing answers my way.

This weekend we hosted two artists who were displaying at our local art fair.  Listening to them talk about their art (both make jewelry) made me yearn to be more proactive about allotting time for my art, making cards.  I felt a little frustrated that even after focusing on card making during my 366 Somedays and again a couple of months ago, card making is still a “someday”, with the exception of the ones I make for friends and family.

Then, my second son read me a passage from The Fellowship of the Ring:

Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea.  That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all’.  Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.

My son clearly feels this describes our home, Toad Hall, but the quote made me feel a little sad.  That was how I felt the first summer I was here.  After a winter of intense work on our new house, I spent the summer luxuriating on the deck, reading and writing for hours and relishing the eclectic qualities of the house that brought me joy.  Since we didn’t yet actually live here, there weren’t the homeowner’s chores staring me in the face.  It felt like a summer-long vacation.  For the last two years we have actually lived in this house.  I still enjoy the beauty surrounding the house and the views on my daily walks never get old, but I’ve lost the feeling of relaxation and “just sitting and thinking best”.  I’ve let my priorities shift to the do, do, do.  I need (want) to sit and think.  I want to be creative with my cards.  I want to write and read.  I want to bring back those feelings of relaxation and bliss.  But how?

As I pondered this throughout the weekend, I began to feel even more sad and I knew I would need to address this situation and find an answer for myself.  Well, my pondering brought some answers.  I unpacked a bag from my last trip to Portland and discovered two books I’d bought at a garage sale while there.  Both are on the topic of women and creativity.  Then, I picked up a magazine that’s been sitting around for almost a year and I opened it to an article titled, Be Your Own Life Coach, with five steps to begin sorting out the needs, the must-dos, and the wants.  I had just been in the kitchen discussing my sadness with my husband and then, BAM, there were these books and there was this article.  I thought about this upcoming weekend when I will be out-of-town with my husband while he is working and I suddenly realized this is the perfect opportunity to do some thinking, to take stock of where I am and where I want to be.

And then yesterday morning I opened a gift bag I’d been given as a thank you for volunteering for an event.  Inside was a lovely little tea towel with the words, “Do what makes your soul happy!” emblazoned in gold.  I hung it in my bathroom where I will see it regularly.  I need to remember to make the time to let my soul be happy.

Little nudges, little reminders and I’m listening!  Yesterday I enjoyed my coffee out on the deck, I made cards, I took an evening walk, and I’m writing.  My soul is happy.

Singin’ in the Snow

I was surprised yesterday morning when I woke up and realized it was already after 6:30.  I’m normally up between 4:00 and 5:00, so 6:30 was sleeping in for me.  Since it was so late, I decided not to do my ten-minute meditation session right then.  I thought I’d do it later in the day, though I knew in my heart I probably wouldn’t.  A few hours later, out on my walk, I realized I had the opportunity to practice mindfulness, making it a walking meditation.  The area where I live is still covered in snow.  The trails are clear in places, but I’m still wearing my cleated shoe covers.  As I walked I paid attention to the sound my cleats make: click-click on the bare pavement, crack-crack on the ice, and crunch-crunch on the snow.  I listened to the sound of the slight wind in my ears and the greater sound of the wind in the trees.  I looked up into the trees, hoping for a porcupine, owl, eagle, or hawk sighting.  I eventually shifted my walking meditation to a loving kindness meditation.  Normally, I do my recitation in my head, but since I was trying something new, I said my phrases out loud.  It felt good to hear myself saying the words.  Then I started singing out loud.

SingingI saw this on a friend’s Facebook page yesterday morning so, as I walked and finished up my meditation, I thought I might as well give it a try.  I’m notorious for not knowing the lyrics to songs, so figuring out what to sing was a problem.  I can sing along to songs on the radio because I can just mumble-mumble through the words I don’t know.  Singing out loud without music and not knowing the words is a little harder.  I realized while I often have a song running through my head, it’s just a portion of the song.  I don’t know very many songs from beginning to end.  However, from somewhere deep inside my brain, I began singing some of the songs sung regularly when I was a Camp Fire Girl some forty years ago.  I sang Flicker of the Campfire and Kumbaya.  Let me tell you, singing Kumbaya while walking in the snowy silence…pretty profound.

Luckily there aren’t many people out on the trails this time of year and luckily my dogs love me enough not to mind my poor singing.  Like grandchildren, my dogs think my singing is wonderful.  And that’s a good thing – they might just be hearing more of it.


As my meditation practice (December’s “someday”) continues, I’ve been researching different types of meditation to come up with what works best for me.  Last week I discovered several guided meditations available through a service I’m subscribed to.  I’ve been using them intermittently with my mindfulness practice.  I like the idea of sometimes being guided instead of having to rein in my thoughts myself.

This morning, I clicked on a “loving-kindness” meditation and – wow!  In this meditation style you basically select a few phrases or wishes which you first direct at yourself and then at others:  someone you love, someone who is neutral, someone with whom there is discord, and, finally, the entire world.  The list of phrases from this morning’s guided meditation was extensive, but the list can be whatever you choose:  may I be healthy, may I be strong, may I feel peace, may I feel joyful, may I be free of mental suffering, etc.

This type of meditation appeals to me as a way to bring positive energy into myself and then send it out to others.  It feels like a form of prayer directed to the universe instead of a deity.  This might be a little too woo-woo for some, but I thoroughly enjoyed my meditation session this morning and I’m filled with excitement to pursue the idea of loving-kindness throughout my day.  Maybe if you’re standing in line in front of me at the grocery store today you’ll feel a little shot of peace and joy run through your heart and wonder where that came from.

Buddha said, “Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds – shine!”  I find it interesting that I found so much joy (perhaps found my inner self) in this meditation practice that is actually reaching out to others.  So, if you feel that little shot today, it might just be me shining.

I Need a Mantra

After three weeks of almost daily meditation sessions, my mind still regularly runs away on its own tangents.  I thought having a mantra might help keep my focus.  I tried the traditional Hindu sacred syllable, “Om”, but it doesn’t hold spiritual magic for me and I just felt silly saying it (even in my head).  I then decided to come up with a few words, meaningful to me, that I could repeat.  Doing this on the fly during my meditation session (my mind running wild again), I came up with health (I’d been sick for three weeks at that point), joy (something I strive to recognize daily), love (no explanation needed), and creativity (a long-standing goal, a “someday” I see manifesting in different possibilities:  writing, card making, sewing, maybe even painting).

I like these four words as a mantra and it did immediately help my concentration when I focused on saying one with each breath.  However, I found myself playing games in my brain.  I’d say a word with each breath, then I’d say a word breathing in and another breathing out.  I found myself trying to make the words come out in a continual loop, rather than starting with health and proceeding, in order, with the others.  I tried starting with a word other than health and looping on from there.  Each of these thoughts led me off on another tangent of thought that wasn’t focused on breathing and mindfulness.

Maybe mindfulness meditation isn’t right for me or maybe it’s not the right beginning point for me.  I’ve decided I need to research the types of meditation.  I focused on mindfulness because that’s what first comes to mind when I think of meditation, but I know there are many other types.  I like the idea of lifelong learning, so…here we go again.  I’m not giving up, just learning and modifying.  Maybe my mantra should be “Never give up, never give up, never give up…”

A Different Type of Holiday Prep

Thanksgiving is not yet over and I’m prepping for December.  Every year there are the early preparations for Christmas:  ordering Christmas cards, compiling gift lists and starting the shopping, planning holiday events.  This year, in addition, I’m prepping for my December “Someday” – meditation and mindfulness.  I specifically chose this “Someday” for December because the holiday season can be so crazy and I wanted to force myself to slow down and be aware of the joys, the events, and time with family and friends.

Developing a meditation practice will be a big challenge for me.  After all, my motto is “Embrace the Crazy”.  One meditation expert says a key to mindfulness is to “live without frenzy” – seems a bit of a conundrum.  How will I figure out how to embrace the crazy while living without frenzy during the Christmas season?  My first step in preparation for next month is listening to an audiobook, Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation.  I began listening yesterday.  No practice yet.  These are baby steps.  I’m beginning slowly: listen this week and be ready to set aside a few minutes a day for practice next week.