Looking in the Rear-View Mirror

Having a rear-view mirror in our cars is crucial to our driving and our safety.  Per DMV guidelines, we should be shifting our gaze slightly upward and toward the right  into our mirrors every 2-4 seconds.  Although, this is an important habit to develop while we’re behind the wheel, is it really the smartest practice in life?  I pondered this the other day as I carefully veered into the next lane, assuring I had given the SUV behind me ample warning by turning on my indicator. 

I thought about how often we live by the visions in our rear-view mirrors.  After all, it is safe there.  What we see is familiar and clear…..we feel complacent, because we can view our surroundings with absolute certainty.  We make decisions by what we see from behind, or what we know of our past.  Just as a tail-gaiter creates some anxiety, so we speed up or slow down in life, accordingly, by the experiences we have had. 

Though many of us use our past as a GPS for navigating through our future, how can a future exist if we are constantly looking backward?  Just because we have been rear-ended before, doesn’t mean we drive through life afraid of pushing down the accelerator.   Maybe it feels easier to forever drive in the right-most lane, letting others pass us by.  Or maybe,  we are so cautious that we park ourselves in our comfort zone, afraid to get hurt again.  Will that really get you from where you are to where you want to be?  Too often, we become jaded by what has already happened in our lives.  It does not define us, nor limit us from going to the places we need to go in order to have a fulfilling life.  Be present.  Have faith in what lies ahead, even if you can’t see it yet.  Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul  series, talks about the headlights of a car allowing us to drive hundreds of miles in the dark.  We can only do that, because we trust the next 200 feet will continually be illuminated for us.  They will guide us to our destination. 

It’s important to look behind from time to time, and it’s even okay to allow what is behind us to shape some of our decisions.  But, also remember this:  Though we can’t see too far ahead, especially during a downpour of rain that may be gushing at our windshield of life, we might catch ourselves turning a corner on the road, barely in time to discover a rainbow.  We just have to be present and shift our gaze to what’s currently in front of us.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  Are  you living in your past?  What can you do to speed up to your present?  Can you challenge yourself to be content with where you are and embrace it?  Think about 3 things you need to do this week to change the gears and live for today.  I guarantee I will be doing the same!

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Peace at a Snail’s Pace

***Apologies for no post on Wednesday – technical difficulties*******

photo by Evies54

 

We spoke Monday on the gift of silence in helping us become more aware of gratitude and peace in the midst of a world that is on speed-dial.  Have you ever wondered how, over the past 50 years, our world has become obsessed with the “bigger and faster” concept?  We now want a 50″ tv, when a 19″ one would have sufficed, we have microwaves to heat our food quicker, we are able to get in touch with friends via phone, text, or email in real time, we are able to perform multiple activities at the same time….or can we??

Even though I love wireless over dial-up so I can “speed” through checking my email, I started thinking about my day-to-day pace.  Although 24 hours in a day may just not seem enough sometimes, does cramming in several tasks at once really work?  Can we really give our full attention to a friend in need if we are thinking about our next appointment?   Can we really taste our food if we’re busy watching tv?  Can we just sit and read a good book without judging ourselves for not being productive?  I remember a quote – “Life is what happens when we’re busy doing other things”.  Isn’t that the truth? 

Surprisingly, I came across the perfect devotion this morning in my DAILY OM mailbox.  For many of you who have followed my posts, you know how much I love this site.  It is titled “Enjoying a Snail’s Pace”.  I am certain if you read it (at a snail’s pace!) and really take it in, it will remind you of the importance of being present – to each moment in your life and feeling at peace in the process!

Enjoy your weekend!

“Peace” your Life Together

I took a few weeks off from contributing to my blog, as I attempted to piece together lots of new and exciting changes in my life – the sale of my home, a move, a new job, new home, new friends, new yoga studio.  With all this “new”ness, there has been an equal amount of angst and chaos in my mind.  It’s been challenging to feel any sort of peace, because there is constantly a checklist running through my mind.  Now, I know many of you can relate to this!

Going through this process helped me to reflect upon a quote I have read many times.  “PEACE.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart”.

So how do we do this?  I recently found a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled, “10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace”.  One of his secrets is learning the value of silence.  The average person has some 60,000 thoughts a day.  Between those thoughts, exist small pauses of silence.  Peace is said to live in those spaces.  “It’s really the space between the notes that make the music you enjoy so much.  Without the spaces, all you would have is one continuous noisy note.  Everything that’s created comes out of silence”.  I loved this phrase in his book. 

So, how have I tuned in and created peace in my mind through all the outer chaos?  I recently made sure to spend some time without my cell phone and laptop.  I ventured out on a run along a beautiful trail amidst a canopy of trees – without my ipod.  I got back onto my yoga mat and sweat out some downward dogs.  Amazingly, I began to feel gratitude for everything that had surprisingly fell right into place during all this change.  It is what the universe produces when you’re in line with what you’re supposed to be doing, even if you don’t know exactly what that is.  Becoming aware of the many opportunities that unfolded perfectly gave me tremendous peace.  I know, without a doubt, that this awareness arose from silencing my mind.  We all have the capacity to “peace” our lives together by inviting silence instead of pushing it away.  ***Tune in Wednesday for more on creating Peace.***** 

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  Try to steal some moments of silence this week by turning off your car radio, taking a walk, being without technology for a set amount of time, or formally meditating.  You’ll be surprised what comes to mind, thereafter!   

 

Happiness in the Blue Zone

Research shows that our inclination to be happy is only 50% dependent on our genes.  So what if you weren’t born with the happiness gene?  The great news is that the other 50% is largely dependent on external factors and circumstances.  It is true that we can’t control everything that happens in life, but there may be a way to lean into a happier life. 

New York Times best selling author, Dan Buettner has been gaining a lot of publicity recently with his new book release, THRIVE: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. 

Buettner has teamed up with National Geographic to research some key happiness contributers and their relationship to longevity.  It has led them to areas known as the “Blue Zones”, where people are reporting a high level of wellbeing.  The team found that there were essentially six life domains, or thrive centers that were common denominators for life satisfaction.  They include the following:

1. Community – the places people thrived most were those that made them feel safe and those that provided opportunities to walk – cities that had large sidewalks, outdoor cafes, parks, and gardens (way to go, San Luis Obispo, CA! – noted to be the happiest place to live in the U.S.)

2. Work – Do you enjoy your work?  Do you work close to your home? Do you regularily take vacations?  Turns out that all three factors contribute to your wellness.

3. Social Life – I once read that you become the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with most.  If that were the case, wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with positive people?  Having a close knit of dependable friends is crucial for wellbeing, according to Beuttner.

4. Financial Life – apparently, the old saying “money can’t buy happiness” may be true.  According to the research, after the basic necessities of life are met (food, shelter, health insurance), money will bring about only short-lived happiness.  The key to long-term financial wellness is to “save mindlessly and spend thoughtfully”.

 5. Home – Creating an environment that is clear of clutter, planting a garden, and surrounding yourself with items that hold meaning to you will all facilitate a happy demenor.  Beuttner also recommends creating a room where you can engage yourself in challenging, yet meaningful activities/hobbies. 

6. Self – This takes us back to Monday’s post.  It is incredibly important to know your own strengths, values, talents, and passions.  Turns out that the people that were happiest in life knew what made them unique.

I think Beuttner’s book gives us a lot to think about.  It shows us that happiness is something that we can lean into by making a few adjustments in our life.  I can’t wait to read the whole book!

Attitude of Gratitude

Each night before I go to bed, I silence my mind and give thanks for the events of my day and also for the good that is yet to come.  For a long time, it was harder for me to give thanks for the moments that had been particular challenging on a given day or for the situations in which I had struggled.  Going down the “why me” path was always so much easier and required little to no attention.  Just as the pathway to a knee-jerk reflex does not involve looping through the brain, so is the incessant, negative self-talk we give ourselves.  The only way to break the cycle is to be present (as we discussed last week) and be grateful

Feeling gratitude is one of the kriyas that can truly send your wellness quotient flying, not to mention change your life in the process.  There has been a lot of research showing that those who practice an attitude of gratitude have a more positive outlook on life, improved social connections, and better sleep patterns.  Dr. Robert Emmons from the University of California, Davis (my alma mater!) is currently developing a tool to measure the level of gratitude people show in their lives. 

So, why should we adopt an attitude of gratitude?  I came up with 5 of my own reasons:

1.  What we focus on, multiplies.  When we focus on what is going right in our lives, we find that our lives actually begin to feel quite abundant.  We find so many things to be thankful for, just by taking a few minutes to re-focus. 

2.  We feel happier.  Who wouldn’t be happy when they focus on what they have, not what they lack. 

3.  It reminds us of what’s important in life.  It’s harder to complain about your work, when you are grateful for having a job.  It’s harder to feel sorry for yourself, when you are grateful for having a family that loves you.  It’s harder to be upset about home renovations, when you are grateful to have a home not affected by a tsunami. 

4.  It allows us to appreciate those around us.  It’s so important to acknowledge the people in your lives.   Thank that stranger for letting you have the parking spot.  Compliment your best friend if you like her outfit.  Tell someone why you’re grateful to have them in your life.  It will make their day….and yours!

5.  We are able to exude a positive vibe.  When we display gratitude, it makes others want to jump on the bandwagon and think about what they are thankful for also.  It is infectious, like laughter.  People are attracted to it and are more apt to pay it forward. 

To sum up, let me just say this:  Be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you don’t have, be grateful for what is coming your way, but most importantly, be ever so grateful for where you are in your life today.  If you can rise up to that space, you will literally shift the vibration of your life.  ***Check back Wednesday for techniques to help you exercise your gratitude muscle!

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  This week, start and end each day with at least 5 things that fuel you with gratitude!

Each New Moment…..

“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day. This moment–this day–is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day–each moment of this day–a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity”.
— Dan Custer

What if we could really live every day like that?  The truth is, we can.  It is a choice we make each day, each moment.  No matter what has happened in our past, no matter what fears we hold for the future, we get to choose whether to accept the gift that is offered to us every minute of the day – and not a moment sooner or a moment later!

Have a wonderful weekend!

photo by Wendy Ku

A Balance between Past and Future

It is impossible not to reflect upon our past or envision our future.  In fact, I don’t even think it is entirely unhealthy to do so. 

Our past has taught us valuable lessons and shaped who we have become.  We can look back at mistakes we made and have the knowledge to take a different route.  We can recall vivid memories of happy times when we learned to ride a bike or when we fell in love. 

There are also times when we have to think ahead and decide how to save money for college or book a family vacation. Many of us make plans for the future by setting an intention, writing down goals, and envisioning an outcome. 

Both the past and future do deserve some recognition, however problems arise when we live in either space.  We choose to live in the past if we hold onto regrets, anger, disappointments, or even constant nostalgia of happy times gone.  These things have already happened.  We choose to live in the future if we worry, build anxiety, or create a variety of scenarios and outcomes in our head.  The future has not yet arrived. 

Eckhart Tolle states that the remedy to get over your past is forgiveness.  “Forgiveness happens naturally as soon as you realize that the past cannot prevail against the power of Presence”.  And, as far as the future goes, “You create a good future by creating a good present”.  It always comes back to the Now.  Do you think you are feeding all your energy to your past, forsaking the present?  Are you obsessing about the future and hoping that your life will catch up to it?  Maybe you don’t like your present circumstances and are re-living times that were better or creating fantasies about escaping into the future.  How do you deal with a heartbreak, a job loss, an illness when it truly feels like your current reality? 

You stay in the Now.  In the most literal sense, you take each individual moment and become aware of it.  For in that space, the present space, there is stillness in the midst of chaos.  You can breathe here.  And if you can string together many of these peaceful moments, you can free yourself from the bars of your past and the angst of the future.  That is your balance point.