10 Random Ways To Celebrate The Present Moment

348641I have this little book that sits on my coffee table in the front room. It’s called “HOW NOW: 100 Ways To Celebrate The Present Moment” by: Raphael Cushnir. Aside from the title reminding me of the movie Anchor Man,(Howwww Nowww Browwwn Cowww), with everyday hustle and bustle, planning for the future, reminiscing the past, we can forget the most important moment…NOW!

Without enjoying NOW, does anything else really matter? We get so stuck in routine, our minds constantly going from here to there, that even learning HOW to enjoy NOW can be a great task. In this book are simple things to do that will give you a sense of presence in the present moment.

I won’t share all 100 ways, but I opened the book randomly to ten different tasks. Here’s HOW:

10 Random Ways To Celebrate The Present Moment

1. NIGHT SKY There’s an aspect of being that comes out only at night, when we’re able to place our usually overwhelming human dramas in the context of the infinite universe.

The Practice:

Choose a clear, starry night and an hour when most of the world is fast asleep. Make sure you’re warm and comfortable as you lie on your back and watch the dark sky shimmer and twinkle. Use this practice to contemplate the enormity of existence and the eons of time that have passed and are yet to come. From the vantage point of this truly universal perspective, what does the present moment feel like? How does this moment inform or enlighten the ones in your everyday schedule?

2. SHARE A HARD TRUTH Telling the truth when we feel vulnerable is one of the hardest things to do. We might fear rejection, abandonment, disapproval, disappointment, rage, hurt, or just the raw exposure that’s an unavoidable part of the process. Yet almost every time we are willing to tell a hard truth, we grow and deepen in the presence, no matter the response. The energy we previously locked up to maintain a false front is now freed to uplift and enlighten us.

The Practice:

Think about various people in your life – family, friends, coworkers, and community members. In what relationship have you been bottling up a hard truth? This truth may be about something you’re feeling or not feeling, or about a part of the relationship that isn’t working for you. Look at the list of fears in the first paragraph. Are you holding back due to one or more of those fears? Are you willing to experience that fear and still tell your hard truth? If so, pick a time and place where both you and the other person have the best chance of hearing each other without blame or recrimination. Once it’s all over and the dust has settled, notice whether you feel lighter.

3. BE PASSIONATELY AVERAGE – Striving for excellence is how we change, grow, and reach our full potential. But since we can’t excel at everything, it’s also how we become self-critical and perfectionistic. Urging ourselves toward unreachable perfection robs us of the ease and spontaneity that are the hallmarks of the NOW. But exulting in activities we enjoy, with no intention of great achievement, is a foolproof perfectionist cure.

The Practice:

Are there pursuits you enjoy but can’t do well? Or ones that you think you’d enjoy but avoid due to lack of aptitude? Pick one or two and pursue them with complete gusto. Perhaps that means salsa dancing with two left feet, bowling a record setting series of gutter balls, knitting sweaters with lopsided patterns. Whatever the pursuit, perform with the intention of celebrating your mediocrity rather than cringing at it. If and when a cringe does occur, laugh yourself through it and keep going. If possible judgement by others makes the practice too daunting, do it with a friend who is willing to be just as goofy.

4. PLANT SOMETHING – In every moment there is a birth, growth, decline, and death. This cycle plays out on levels from the molecular to the universal. Within a human life, it transpires physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Shepherding this cycle  for another life form helps us attune ourselves to its constant presence.

The Practice:

Purchase a packet of seeds for a plant you’d like  to grow. Choose a plant that’s either annual or perennial so you can experience all aspects of it’s life cycles within the passage of a few seasons. Follow the directions for planting and tending it. View the plant for at least a minute once or twice a week. If the plant survives, watch it for times of steady progression, plateaus, and sudden spurts of growth. If the plant doesn’t make it, try to determine what’s responsible for its demise. Then plant another seed and so your best to help it thrive.

5. BEGIN – In the trance of habit and daily routine, it’s easy to miss the miracle of existence that is continually unfolding. One way to reconnect to that miracle is to consciously bring new projects and activities into your life. Whether tiny or grand, every venture you begin provides a fresh invitation to savor the NOW.

The Practice:

Make a list of some endeavors that you’d like to begin. This list can include an array of choices, such as a  new friendship, an herb garden, a dance class, a journal, a book you’ve always wanted to read, or a more honest way of communicating. Your selection can also be internally oriented such as paying more attention to what you feel or focusing on what brings you joy. Next, scan the list for something you can begin RIGHT NOW. Do so, and allow yourself to bask in it’s birth. Then keep the list nearby and make frequent beginnings an ongoing part of your life. Refresh the list often as you grow and change.

6.INTENTIONAL DREAMING – Dreams usually provide more question then they do answers. Are they a stress response? A secret code? A window to another world? There’s one way, frequently unacknowledged, to penetrate the puzzle. Through the process of intentional dreaming, we can bring our conscious and unconscious minds together. The result creates not only an expansive sense of presence, but also powerful inner guidance.

The Practice:

For one week, keep a notebook by your bed. Each night, before going to sleep, think about an aspect of your life in which you’d like some guidance. Then ask your unconscious to provide you with a dream about that topic, and make it one that you’ll remember. If you wake up from a dream in the middle of the night, write it down before returning to sleep. If you recall it in the morning, make sure you write is down before beginning your day.

7. SERVE YOUR COMMUNITY – The usual pitch, when it comes to volunteering, is that it’s appropriate to give something back. We’re called upon to serve as a fundamental responsibility. What this pitch obscures is that service is actually a privilege. Whether in a soup kitchen, battered women’s shelter, or Little League, service opens our hearts, connects us to the world, and fills the present moment with meaning. While service often provides great assistance to those in need, it foremost beneficiary is almost always the ones who serve.

The Practice:

Find a few hours a week for service. Choose a location or organization that you feel strongly about. Look for a position that takes advantage of your strengths or one that involves a refreshing change of pace from your usual work. Since the opportunity to make a contribution is a privilege, treat everyone you meet with appreciation.

8. INNER SMILE – Feeling joyful is not necessary for presence, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to induce it. Joy creates an almost instantaneous  sense of expansion – an inner smile that’s like a warm bath. Some call this warm bath “flow” or “spirit”. Experiencing it connects us to ourselves and to everyone and everything around us.

The Practice:

Think about someone or something that you love. This could be a child, a place in nature, or a favorite memory. Whatever you choose, make sure that just reflecting upon it creates an automatic smile. Then surrender to that inner smile. Let it light you up. Feel it spread through your body and even beyond it, uniting you joyously with your surroundings.

9. CONSCIOUS EATING – How many times have you craved one of your favorite foods, waited all day till you could have it, and then experienced no real enjoyment because your mind  began wandering even before the first bite? Such “absent eating” is the norm, but it doesn’t have to be

The Practice:

For a week, stay entirely focused on the experience of eating through at least part of each meal. This includes smelling, tasting, savoring, chewing, swallowing, and pausing between bites. When your mind drifts, as it inevitably will, avoid any self-criticism and just gently return your focus to the food in front of you.

10. BESTOW GRATITUDE – In the words of William Blake, “Gratitude is heaven in itself”. Just the experience of feeling grateful can connect us to a level of loving presence that’s as warm an d soothing as its profound. But the bestowing of gratitude is even ore heavenly. It creates a feedback loop of joy as long as you let it.

The Practice:

Think of one or more people for whom you’re deeply grateful. Be specific about why tehy inspire your gratitude. Once you’vev allowed yourself to exult in that gratitude, go ahead and share it. Don’t ask for anything in return from those you thank, except that they receive your offering.

 Witness how celebrating the NOW can make you feel more alive!! TIME TO GO CELEBRATE!!! Which of these 10 can you practice today? This Week?

xoxo,

barista

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5 Blunders That Kill Your Happiness

This morning i got an email from The Handel Group about what kills your happiness. We all want to be happy. We all DESERVE to be happy. Being and staying happy though can be a really big challenge though. It is necessary for  us to go through hard times in order to not only recognize happiness but appreciate it.

The article goes to explain 5 different things that can stop you from being happy.
5 BLUNDERS THAT KILL YOUR HAPPINESS (written by Laurie Garber of The Handel Group)

1. YOU DONT HAVE A DREAM
As kids, most of us dream boldly and publicly. But as we notice that not all our dreams come true and that it can be embarrassing to admit to one we may fail at, we stop talking about our dreams and stop having them. But in the present moment (which is all that we have), dreams make us happy, even if they don’t come true. We start every client at Handel on a diet of dreams in all areas of their lives. Just focusing here changes everything for the better even though it can feel vulnerable and scary at first.

2. YOU LET FEAR AND BRATTINESS RULE YOU
What stops us from daring to dream? Brattiness and fear of disappointment. Taking action towards your dream in the face of fear or “not feeling like it” makes people happy and proud. In fact, this kind of action is the most important determiner of happiness. Most people have the misconception that it’s success that makes them happy, but moment to moment, we find that living in integrity is what actually makes people happiest. That means fighting the chicken and brat in your head, and demanding that your dreams rule and your actions align.

3. YOU’RE NOT ACCOUNTABLE
You may have a dream, and you may even be able to argue against the voices in your head. Still, actions consistent with your ideals don’t always take place. Why? You’re not accountable. The consequences of bad choices (or not taking actions toward your dream) show up over such a long stretch of time that you don’t notice or feel them until it’s too late (you’ve just had a heart attack, got divorce papers or lost your job). Get a coach or a coaching buddy to make promises with and to keep those promises in front of you, so you stay accountable to your dreams. Extra credit if that person holds you to artificial, but effective consequences when you don’t take actions in alignment with your dreams. For example, if you cheat on your diet, you have to mow your friend’s lawn. Now that’s accountability!

4. YOU DONT SPEAK UP
Once you get the hang of living in integrity (1-3 above), only a few things will kill your buzz. Having something to say and not saying it is the most common. Things you aren’t saying include: how you really feel, ‘fess-ups to wrong doings, ‘fess-ups to feeling wronged, broaching taboo topics, constructive criticism, owning up, and making requests. Make a list of all the things you know you should be talking about and put dates next to them determining by when you’ll have those difficult conversations. No matter how long it takes, making this commitment is important to your self respect. Each hard conversation you tackle will open up a sense of freedom and joy in your heart that you cannot imagine while just sitting and thinking about (and probably fearing) what will go down. Try not to predict the outcome, or control it. Just go for the ride and be proud to be someone who speaks up. Soon it will become habit and you will be a much happier, more expressed person.

5. YOU BLAME OTHERS
You forgot that YOU are the “author” of your life and that it’s good news! This doesn’t mean that everything in your life that’s not working is your fault; it means that you have power with everything. There is nothing you cannot impact in your life, if you decide to focus on it and believe in changing it. As you start to take ownership of your choices and the results in your life, you feel more self-trusting and powerful. It is as natural as breathing to look for causes outside ourselves to explain why things don’t turn out. The happy surprise will always be, when you humble yourself enough to say “maybe it’s me,” you will find you are 95% of the way to the solution along with feeling happier and more hopeful.

 

Practice working around each of these and just witness for yourself the impact they have in your life and your happiness.

xoxo,

 

The Alchemist Excerpt: The 4 Obstacles

Regarding my post from the other day, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho has to be one of my Top 5 books I’ve ever read. It is also one of those books that just tends to land in people’s laps. I’ve heard many a story and have my own on how people end up with this book.

My boyfriend’s cousin suggested it to me a few years ago when I had mentioned “The Secret” to her. She was telling me if I was into that, then I would love “The Alchemist”. I’ll admit the title did not sound to appealing to me so I did not really give it any though. I had no clue what an Alchemist was…it just sounded like something Chemistry related haha. A few years later I had probably heard the title mentioned a few more times by different people, including on my favorite blog. Do you think I ran to the store then to get it? No! Well this January I was at my boyfriend’s cousins house for a birthday party (yes, same cousin that first mentioned it to me) and she had the book on her dining room table. It was a lot smaller than I had imagined so I decided to finally pick it up and see what it was about. I became intrigued and read like 40 pages on her couch in the middle of the party. The only reason I stopped is because we were leaving. I mentioned to her how I guess I have to go get the book now. She says “wait hold on” and she went out to her car and came back with a gift. It was the book and she said I could have it. She said that she likes it so much and thinks that everyone should read it so when she sees it she buys it and keeps it to give to people. When I opened the gift it had  a gift receipt inside from 2010 which meant she had been holding this particular one for a few years. I guess it was waiting for ME!! It was perfect timing because if I had read this book any sooner than I did I probably would not have been as interested or understood it the way I do now. I just was not as deep into self growth as I am now. I suggest if it ever comes your way, it is for a reason and meant to be so READ IT!!!

Here’s is an excerpt from the prologue written by Paulo Coelho:

Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don’t all have the courage to confront our own dream.

Why?

There are four obstacles.

First: we are told from childhood that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear, and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there.

If we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream. We do not realize that love is just a further impetus, not something that will prevent us going forward. We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.

Once we have accepted that love is a stimulus, we come up against the third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn’t work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: “Oh, well, I didn’t really want it anyway.” We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of the personal calling is no easier than any other path, except that our whole heart is in this journey.

Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.

I ask myself: are defeats necessary?

Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and get up eight times.

So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people?

Because, once we have overcome the defeats—and we always do—we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives.

Having disinterred our dream, having used the power of love to nurture it and spent many years living with the scars, we suddenly notice that what we always wanted is there, waiting for us, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives.

Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.”

And it’s true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal—when it was only a step away.

This is the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”

This part of the book is very intriguing to me because it resonates in my heart deeply. I have witnessed these obstacles in myself and in friend’s lives. So take what resonates in yours and if it moves you, who knows, maybe this post is the SIGN you need to get the book.

xoxo,