Mindfulness of exhaustion

Even though I am halfway through my week of concentrating on right speech, today I also found the opportunity to practice mindfulness more extensively.

The process of living is such a fascinating experience when you experience it from the aspect of the eightfold path.

Today I noticed extreme tiredness and disconnection around mid morning.

It’s true that I hadn’t slept well last night (I haven’t slept well for a long time), however this was different.  It wasn’t a sleepy tired, it was more than that.

I was booked in for a work teleconference at 11am, so I made myself a cup of tea about 30 minutes beforehand in an effort to focus my mind and wake up a bit.

And it occurred to me to question – why was I so tired?

And the answer – because I was resisting.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I dislike talking on the phone.  I mean REALLY dislike.  Apart from speaking to my mother, I will avoid all other calls as a general rule.  Text – love it!  Email – definitely.  Facebook – just try to stop me.

I realised that I was unconsciously resisting having to have this work teleconference.  For no particular reason – I liked the other caller, and have had regular pleasant dealings with her (via email :p).   

However my distinct “don’t want to” undercurrent that was in the background was making me excessively tired.

So I re framed the situation.  I spent time thinking about the opportunities in the conversation.  For connectedness, for kindness, compassion, and deep listening (yes, even in a work call).

By the time she called, I was calm and ready and enthusiastic.

And the call went really well.  And afterwards I felt GREAT.  I felt happy and lighter and more cheerful.  And I realised that was because it was such a good phone call – and the positive interaction with another person had brightened my day.  

So that was where “right speech” also came into play today.  During that conversation, and also others that I had during my day.

Blessings to you all,

Meg

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The world through the eyes of a boy with autism

Today my whole blog post is dedicated to my little man.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, he has Aspergers Syndrome, as well as an auditory processing delay, and severe anxiety. The poor kid has a lot of challenges.

One area he really shines in though is photography.  Ever since he was 3 he’s taken really wonderful photos.

He is now 7.  Today we were walking to school, and he asked if he could have my camera.  And he decided to document the whole trip to school.

His photos are below 🙂

Frangipani

Frangipani

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Abstract

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Snail

   

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Footpath art

Sidewalk art

Sidewalk art

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Pinecone

 

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Wild Mushroom

    

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As a parent, we all want to feel like our child is doing well, and we celebrate their successes.  My poor kid has had a lot of setbacks, but I am grateful beyond words that he is able to express himself via photography.

Blessings,

Meg

Speech – the dangers and opportunities

Continuing on from my post yesterday about dedicating this week to right speech…

I really enjoyed experimenting further with this today.  I used each interaction as an opportunity to further develop my practice.

Sometimes I forgot to be mindful (and gently forgave myself).  Not that I spoke harshly, but I feel I could have made more of an effort to promote kindness.

There were occasions though that I had wonderful interactions as a result of being very mindful.

I was very aware of the intention behind my words, and also taking the opportunity to use the interaction as an opportunity for kindness.

And I felt that I had a great connection with the people that I spoke to.  One particular lady I have only briefly spoken to before at the school – however today with mindful effort we had such a great conversation!  She even put her hand on my arm several times in a gesture of friendship and connection.

I also noticed one of the teachers absent-mindedly rubbing her neck as she walked past me.  So I asked her if she was okay, and whether she had a sore neck.  She was surprised at first as she hadn’t been aware that she was doing it, but said that yes, she did have a sore neck.  And she was touched that I’d asked.

I love how the eightfold path can be incorporated in daily life.

Blessings, Meg

The week of right speech

As mentioned in my last post, I’m enjoying listening to talks by Gil Fronsdal on the Eightfold Path.  

I would really like to explore this area further, and in more depth, and I had an idea this afternoon – I will devote one week to each step of the path.  To try to learn as much as I can, and incorporate it as much as possible into my life.

So this week is Right Speech.

I’d love to hear – have you read any books that you recommend on Skilful speech?  Or any articles or blog posts?  Or even any tricks that you use to remember to speak wisely?

Right speech is an area I am so passionate about, and interested in.

We can do both great harm and benefit with our speech.  And it’s so interesting to be mindful of what we are saying, and how we are saying it.

I think for me the greatest challenge will be no idle speech. Not so much gossip (which I don’t participate in), but more chatter with no particular purpose.  

So that will be a particular goal for me this week 🙂

Blessings to you all,

Meg

The power of intention

I’m currently listening to a series of talks by Gil Fronsdal on the eightfold path.

I’ll be honest – I’m probably Gil’s biggest fan :D.  I absolutely adore his talks, and am grateful beyond words for what I have learnt from listening to them.

I’m currently up to the 2nd in the series of talks – this one on Right Intention.  And this – along with Right Speech – are my 2 favourite areas of Buddhism.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the effects that both of these areas can have in our lives.

During this talk Gil recommended focusing on our intentions, and how we want to be in this world.  In both large and small ways.  And how we can incorporate it into every are of our lives – from what we want to achieve long term, to how we want to be when we are in the grocery store.

Since listening to this talk (several times in order to take it all in), I’ve listed the following as my deepest intentions:

♥  Parent with calmness, gentleness, softness, understanding, empathy, love and kindness.

♥  Use my free time to learn and apply the teachings of the dharma in my life.

♥  Practice kindness as a way of life.

♥  Savour life and live life slowly and with purpose.

 

Further to deciding our intentions – and asking ourselves not just once, but continuously  to dig deeper beneath our automatic response – Gil recommended giving our intentions great attention whilst meditating.

He gave the example of people who mentally set an “inner alarm clock” to the time they want to wake up the next day.  And the fact that without giving it thought through the night, they do wake up at exactly that time, or just before.  And I have experienced this phenomena frequently in my own life.

So last night I followed his recommendation, and whilst calm and centred during meditation, I gave my intentions great focus.  Although I let them come to me naturally without having to think about them.  And the 3 that came up last night were:

*  Follow the eightfold path.

*  Find opportunities for kindness.

*  Parent with gentleness and calm.

 

I found it to be a really interesting experience.  And this afternoon, for no other reason that I could explain, I felt very calm and relaxed and centred.

My son was in a really foul mood, it was pouring rain (and we have a long way to walk) yet even those things didn’t affect my feeling of calm.  And I must admit I was proud of how I managed to stay equanimous even whilst dealing with 7 year old tantrums.

And although I would not generally describe myself as a laid back parent, I was surprised with my response to the pouring rain.  At first I tried to keep my son under the umbrella, and dry, but then I stopped trying to control him, and gave him the freedom to enjoy it.  I let him run ahead in the rain, laughing and skipping and just enjoying life.  And I must admit it felt GREAT.

Even to the point where I encouraged him to take off his shoes and socks and jump in the puddles :D.  This had him quite intrigued – as a child with autism he doesn’t generally welcome things that are outside his usual routine.  However he loved it.  He was running home jumping in puddles and yelling that it was the best day ever.

And I just felt so calm and happy – to see him enjoying life like that.

I can’t wait to explore this area of setting intentions further.

And I’m interested to know – do you set daily intentions?  If so, what are they?

Blessings,

Meg

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Anniversary

Wow, it’s been 1 year today since I started my blog.

It’s been the most amazing journey, and I have learnt so much thanks to all of you who have commented, and shared your thoughts with me.

I am lucky enough to be able to call many of you good friends now, and for this, and how much you have all enriched my life I am incredibly grateful.

Thank you so much to each and every one of you.

As always I send my love and blessings,

Meg ♥

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4 daily steps to become more positive (and happier)

I recently came across a great article about re-wiring your brain to become happier and more positive.

As I have read frequently lately – it is possible to change the pathways in your brain.

Importantly for me, I realised that the more you look for the positives, the more those pathways in your brain will be strengthened, and the more automatic it will become.

So I have spent time deliberately looking for ways to become more positive.

These are my 4 favourite daily activities for increasing positivity and happiness:

Keep a gratitude journal.  Before bedtime, make a list of the things that you are grateful for that day.  It can be in a notebook, on your computer in a word document, or even a blog.  As much as possible focus on the feeling of gratitude – and let it stay with you as long as you can.

Reach out to someone at least once a day.  Send an email expressing your gratitude or thanks.  To a friend or a co-worker, or anyone who has touched your life recently.

Practice acts of kindness.  Try to do at least one kind thing each day.  It can be as simple as making someone smile.  Or really listening to them, and giving them your full attention.  The more that you do it, the more opportunities you will find.  And the more natural it will become.

Practice mindfulness.  When we are aware of the present moment, we are able to appreciate it fully, and really notice the abundance we have in our lives.  And not only that – it has been proven that mindfulness meditation affects the brain’s plasticity, increasing grey matter in the hippo-campus  an area of the brain important for learning, memory and emotion, and reducing grey matter in the amygdala, an area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety.

I have been practising the above daily in my life for the past couple of months, and have noticed such huge differences.  Mostly in my level of happiness and satisfaction with life, and my ability to bounce back from difficulties and setbacks.

I also find meditation incredibly important in maintaining a sense of peace and calm – both of which lead to increased happiness.

Do you have any practices that you do daily to increase your happiness?  I would love to hear about them.

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Your boss’s first duty is to make you happy

***  This is an article I wrote for work that I wanted to share ***

Generally when we think about our responsibilities as bosses and leaders, “workplace happiness” is not the first thing that springs to mind.

Supervising – yes.  Analysing, reporting, developing strategies, employee selection, growth of the company – absolutely.

However most managers would feel that people’s happiness at work does not come into the equation.  Work is tough – work is about effort and achieving goals.  Happiness is about having fun.

However this point of view can have serious drawbacks, and is a misrepresentation of what happiness is really about.

By addressing your employees’ happiness in the workplace you can help your business to survive and thrive – and give it the leading edge in retaining employees.

What is happiness about?

It’s about creating and responding to opportunities around you. 

When we feel happy, it broadens our range of responses to situations, and increases our confidence and skills.  For example – when we smile, we send out signals that we are approachable.  This leads to greater opportunities for meaningful communication and networking with others.  It builds our relationships.

Feeling happier also leads us to feeling more creative – which can have very beneficial results in the workplace. 

It also boosts workplace performance.  If you are happy, you will work harder and produce better results.

 

How do we make our teams and staff feel happier in the workplace?

Firstly we need to ask them!  Consider taking a survey of your staff to get a baseline of their workplace happiness and satisfaction.

Once you have those results, consider what tools you can create to support and inspire your staff.

There are many strategies you can implement – both small and large – to increase your employees happiness.

For example:

Positive feedback – all employees want to know that their efforts are being firstly noticed, and secondly being appreciated.  It doesn’t take much to give positive feedback and boost your employees’ morale.

Provide challenging – though attainable – goals.  Staff want to feel that they are contributing to the company and making a difference.  There is not much worse than stagnating in your job, and watching the minutes crawl by everyday until 5pm.

Share a laugh with your staff.  One way to really bring a team together is to share some light-hearted time together.  Laughter really is the best medicine!

Creative a positive culture.  Actively encourage your employees to share small successes and positive stories.  For example – a really great meeting with a client;  a satisfying outcome to a work issue or complaint; or even something positive that is happening in their personal lives.  Make it clear that you value hearing those experiences, and share them with your entire team.

Workplace happiness really comes down to plenty of DRAMA:

Dedication

Recognition

Appreciation

Motivation

A positive environment

  

Keep in mind:  happy workers stick around longer, bring more energy and enthusiasm to their tasks, and help maintain organisational morale.

Birthday blessings

Today is my birthday (for 4.5 more hours… 🙂 )

Although I woke up this morning feeling a little glum.  I had high hopes for Christmas/Valentine’s Day/my birthday this year after meeting someone very special.  Heartbreakingly it didn’t work out, and I have been feeling it intensely lately.

So I woke up with that on my mind.

Although I soon – thankfully – came to my senses.  I didn’t want today to be about me – I wanted to make it a special day for those around me.  So I dedicated today as a day to perform extra  acts of kindness.

And I had so much fun doing it!!! ♥

I unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to perform as many as I was hoping to, however I did get to:

♥  Visit my Great Uncle in the nursing home.  I gave him my full presence and attention, and listened very carefully to the stories he had to tell me.  It was really the most lovely visit I have had with him.

♥  Pay anonymously for a cup of coffee for an elderly person at a cafe.

♥  Buy lots of dog toys for my favourite doggy friend:

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♥  Buy my brother a notebook I thought he would like.

♥  Buy my nephew a cute pair of pyjama’s.

♥  Strike up a conversation with a lovely lady in Target.  We spoke about our joy of doing jigsaw puzzles.

♥  Buy my son a few little presents that I thought he would like.

It was a real blessing for me to have the opportunity to perform these acts of kindness for those I love and care about – and the people in the community around me.

Blessings,

Meg

My gratitude journal 🙂

The Monastery Within

Today (3 weeks into my gratitude challenge! 😀 ), I am grateful for:

♥  Toast with vegemite for breakfast.  I know I should really eat something a little healthier – and generally I do – but I do adore my vegemite toast 😀

♥  A surprise gift for a friend.  I left a card and a bar of lovely lavender soap at her door as a surprise.

♥  Grooving away to 80’s songs on the radio while I worked in the school library.

♥  The absolutely DELIGHTFUL little friend that my son has at school.  This boy is truly an angel.  He is the most sweet and lovely child – he ran up to say hi to me when he saw me at school.  Then ran off to find my son to tell him I was there.  And he’s such a good friend to my little boy.  I just adore…

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Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
~Melody Beattie

 

This quote really spoke to me today.

Almost 3 weeks ago I started a gratitude journal.

Each day I think about, and list, all the things that I am grateful for.  It’s such a beautiful practice.  And it really is changes the way I see the world.  I find myself actively looking for things to be grateful for.

I’ve often read that gratitude is the key to finding happiness.

And I am discovering the truth of this for myself.  For if we don’t appreciate what we have, how can we ever truly be happy.  If we don’t appreciate what we have, we are always searching for something else to satisfy us.  And we are overlooking the massive blessings that are right in front of us.

I was saying as much to a friend recently.  I know that life is often difficult.  However in the end we have 2 choices.  We can focus on the negative, and dwell in misery.

Or we can focus on the positive, and find the goodness and joy in even the most everyday moments.

 

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.

~ Eckhart Tolle

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The greatest gift of compassion

One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen ♥

I don’t have time to rush

I’ve been really enjoying a journey of personal growth lately (or should I say increased personal growth).

I’m so grateful for the people I have spoken to, the wonderful conversations, the books I have read, the talks I have listened to.

One today really resonated with me.  And that was about not living our lives in a trance.  

And it’s so easily done – to live in a trance.  We are busy, we are stressed, and we are largely operating on automatic pilot.

When we live this way, we are not living according to our deepest intentions and aspirations.  We are merely treading water.

Thinking of an interaction you had with someone else today.  What was the intention behind your words and behaviour?  Were you trying to gain something?  Get your point across?  Or was it mainly just automatic pilot with no purpose?

This is something I have been asking myself a lot lately at the end of the day.  Looking back over the interactions I have had with others.

And there is no right or wrong answer.  However by focusing on this question, and really questioning our interactions, we strengthen the ability to act according to our intentions.

It’s the same as looking back over our day.  Where we really present for it?  Or where we in a trance?  Just keeping our heads down and forging on?

I was reminded of this today on the walk home with my son.  It had been a busy day working at his school, and I was tired and somewhat pre-occupied.  I noticed a bicycle coming towards us from the opposite direction, and moved over on the path to give them room to pass.  And that was about as much attention as I gave the moment.  My son however was much more mindful, and asked me if I had seen the baby on the back of the bicycle (in the baby seat).  And I hadn’t at all.  It was a stark reminder to me to just stay in the present moment (and get out of my own head 🙂 ).

Something else I was reminded of today was the fact that we all seem to be rushing.  I am extra guilty of this – even walking home from school, I’m walking smartly.  Like I have somewhere to be.  Where the place I need to be is right HERE.  In the moment.

We spend so much of our lives like that – in a rush.  Racing towards some imagined deadline.

And what we are doing is missing life along the way.

So my motto today is “I don’t have time to rush”.

I choose to be present for life.

A strange existence

I am very moved by this quote I just came across!

“The world that we create, recreates us. And it’s a very strange existence we live in now, and we don’t realize it’s strange. We adapt to it. It lives and breathes us.”

Adam Campbell