Monday, December 1, 2008

Change is in the Air

Quote of the month:

You are today
where your thoughts have brought you;
you will be tomorrow
where your thoughts take you.
- James Allen


Change is in the air….
Change is certainly in the air here in Minnesota. It was 74* one day…then just a few days later, the wind chills were at zero and the flurries were flying! Much of the country either is or already has experienced fall. The changing leaves are a good analogy for emotional changes in our lives..... Looking at what does and does not work for us…and allowing those things that are not serving us to change or to fall away….just as the leaves do.

For the last couple of months we have been talking about becoming aware and identifying those areas of your life that are causing you stress and that you wish to experience differently. Some changes are simple….you acquire new information, integrate it into your understanding…and move on. For example, before a child learns addition, they may say 2+2=22 or 2+2=fish for that matter (my boys went through a time when they thought this was hysterical!) At some point a teacher shows the child 2 pieces of candy, adds 2 more to them. The child counts them and learns that 2+2=4!

Sometimes the changes come simply like the child learning mathematics. It is like you are hearing things you always knew, but had forgotten for a while. When you hear them, they resonate as truth. That information is easy to integrate and implement. The child has little or no fear, identification or emotional attachment to 2+2=22, so it is relatively simple to integrate that information. Change is more challenging when you do have some sort of fear, identification or attachment to what it is that you are trying to change. We discussed identification in more detail in November‘s post. As always, on this blog, my intention will be to keep my suggestions “simple,” understandable and do-able.

It is important to understand that the only person you can really effect lasting change on, is yourself. You might be able to change a situation, or may be able convince someone that they need to change for a while….but in the end, the only person you have any real control over is yourself. That really is the good news as it opens up a world of possibilities to you about how you experience your life!

You know I like to keep it “simple,” so for an example, I am going to use concerns over writing a blog. The same process can be applied to just about any situation that is causing you stress, such as beginning any other new endeavor, changing jobs, dealing with a difficult co-worker or family member, managing your finances, or preparing for the holidays.

The first thing I would suggest is to pause your mental “I-pod/tape” and see what is going on in your head about the situation. What are you telling yourself about the new endeavor? Sometimes these types of things are more difficult to hear. They happen so rapidly and so automatically that it is challenging to slow down to a point that it is discernible. [This is another example of how meditation and awareness can help.]

I use a method that I call
The Why? Process….

  • Start asking yourself why? In the example: Why am I hesitant to start a blog? Are you saying things like, “I can’t learn something new,” or “I’m not up to date on technology," or "I am not a good writer.”


  • It is useful to be as specific as possible. Ask why? a number of times. It helps to clarify what is really going on. If you say you don't like new things….ask why again? Try to clarify further. Is it because it is unknown? Or is it because it is tiring to learn something new? Or some other reason. The question is….. why is it that way FOR YOU vs. why it might be that way for me. Nearly everyone would agree that new things may be scary and may create stress in your life, but the reasons why it would be considered stressful, would be as numerous as there are people! Continuing the example of the blog, some may think they are not up to date on technology, others may think they don’t have anything to say, or that they are not good with grammar. Other reasons might be that no one will read it, no one cares what they think or that they are not smart enough.


  • Continue until you seem to be saying the same answer to each why? Let’s say you get to a point where you say, you are afraid you won’t be successful at the new endeavor and that seems to be a recurring answer.


  • The next step is to make a list of all the times your life that you have been successful. (After your why process, you may have a different word (fear) such as smart or won't be liked, or something similar. I use successful as it is a common theme and one that can be adapted to a variety of situations.) I like a written list so you can go back to it. List as many as possible. Have you completed high school or college? Have you moved? Changed jobs? Had sports accomplishments? Other accomplishments or awards at work, school or maybe in a club or an organization? Other personal achievements?… brag on yourself until you can’t think of anything more. No one is listening but you! Everyone has at least a few things that can put on this list. Graduating high school, raising a child, taking a new job, dealing with a challenging situation like an illness or death of a loved one, or other loss such as a divorce, going through a hurricane or other natural disaster, learning something new, such as karate, a new language or playing the trombone. I suspect that once you get started, you may be surprised at how many successful accomplishments you will have on your list.

  • Is there one on the list that is similar to the new challenge you are facing now? Is there one that you found particularly challenging...but had success at it anyway? Is there one thing that you feel particular proud of? Is there one that beforehand felt impossible or that you were concerned about your ability to handle it....but did it anyway? Put that into your words!

The bottom line....
Try to remember either one thing that stands out or a generalized feeling from the cumulative effect of all the things on your list.....sit with that feeling for a little while and focus your attention on the positive situations where you have been successful.


Then....
Try to put into your own words what that feels like.

Those are your True Colors!

I'll stop here for now......this next part of the process will be the topic for next month’s blog. Here are some lyrics to the song True Colors,

"I see your true colors shining through....
...so don't be afraid,
to let them show,
your true colors are beautiful,
like a rainbow."

If you would like to hear Cyndi sing it to you.... click here for a link….

To continue reading the next post, click here, for True Colors.

I would love to hear your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future. You may send them to me at penelope@simplyspirituality.com or comment at the bottom of the blog. All posts will be archived on my blog along with other useful information at:
Simply Spirituality or
http://simplyspirituality.blogspot.com/

Until next month....
Here's hoping you keep your spirituality simple!
Penelope


Picture of the month:
I can do it! Florida, July 2003

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November Question of the Month

This month we will revisit Meditation.....

I am curious how meditation is going for anyone who has chosen to begin or expand this practice? Please answer in comments section below. Chances are very good that if you have a question, problem or challenge in meditation, someone else probably has it as well!

My personal experience is that I go through times when I find meditation to be very easy and other times when it is much more of a challenge. Please read November's post below for suggestions on how to improve your beginning meditation process

The poll question of the month is.....

In the last few months, my meditation practice has
  • Become easier and more frequent
  • Become more difficult and less frequent
  • Stayed about the same.

Thank you for your participation!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Meditation 2

Quote of the month:
We can't solve problems
by using the same kind of thinking
we used when we created them.
- Albert Einstein


At the end of last month's post, I said that we would talk about how to make changes next month. Meditation, awareness or mindfulness are such an important part of making changes that it felt important to revisit it again before moving on. Meditation gives insights into change, keep one calmer during change...and provide an important perspective as changes are made.

I want to stress here again, that I am not suggesting you make any specific changes in your life, but if you have been following along each month and identified some areas of your life that are causing you stress and YOU desire to experience your life differently, than these are simply suggestions I have found to be of use.

When we were babies, we were completely caught up in the present moment. We thought we were our bodies. When we felt hunger, we would immediately cry. As a baby we "WERE" our hunger. As we get older, we realize that our hunger is a feeling and we can separate a bit from it before resorting to crying. [...though there are some adults who are still known to become quite cranky when hungry! ;) You know who you are!!!!] As a child, we learned that we could express our feeling of hunger, ask for food and resolve the feeling, hopefully, without a tantrum.

As we grew up, other things became more important to us. Perhaps getting a new bike, hitting a baseball or winning a game. At this stage, we BECAME the bike or the win. Our sense of self was caught up in identifying with the bike, the win, etc. Again, we got older, we became able to separate ourselves emotionally from whatever it was that we wanted and thought (felt) that we HAD to have.

As teens.....the list could be endless.... let's start with, we thought we were: our hair, our clothes, our friends, our car, our boyfriend or girlfriend....any of this sounding familiar to anyone? I want to make a connection to the baby crying when it is hungry and to the teen potentially acting on emotion when it comes to any of the things listed above. Maybe a teenage boy will over-react by hitting someone, if they scratch his new car. It is similar to the baby crying when he is hungry. Even though we try as parents, to teach our children to stop and think before they act, at this point, it is very difficult for a child to see beyond the car, the friends, etc. when making decisions.

Again, as we get older, wiser, more mature, we learn that we actually CAN go on if we don't get the Gloria Vanderbilt jeans or for today's crowd....the Hollister T-shirt! At this phase of life the priorities begin to shift to college, grades, maybe a career.... A few years later maybe a spouse, family, rising in your career, your house, your children, neighborhood, organizations and associations, etc....

The point is that at each phase of life there IS typically something that we identify ourselves with. Even if we are not aware of it at the time. Actually, that is the hallmark of being identified with one of these things...that you are NOT aware of it, at least until after you have moved beyond it. If the suggestion that you may currently be identified with something sounds strange to you at first, go back through the list, back to childhood, and see if you can identify some that you have moved beyond.

These types of things that we identify ourselves with are typically the things that will be most quick to upset us (like the scratch on the car), cause stress in our lives and to which we will react most quickly with emotion rather than reason.

I am not saying that having a nice car, a good job, nice clothing... are (comma) bad things, simply that if one identifies who they are with those things... then that person may often be acting from an emotional position rather than from rational thought. One has to look no further than the headlines to find ample examples. Think back to President Nixon and Watergate for an example of a politician who was very identified with his political position..and what lengths he went to, legal and illegal, to retain that identity. For an example of someone not thinking things through, and acting on emotion, look to another headline......like a politician risking his political career by soliciting a police officer in the men's room of the Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) airport. For a final example, remember hearing stories of little league fathers punching the umpire over a bad call. Such stories are numerous in our headlines today.

Here is where meditation comes in...
The advantage of practicing meditation, especially regularly, is that gradually a gap is established between this emotional side of oneself and your essential nature, which is calm, joyful, insightful and rational. Slowly, that gap becomes easier to see. As this happens, one can more simply exercise restraint and detachment in the decision making process and gradually be free of emotional reactions. This allows one to be more FREE to make a choice in a given situation, even if emotions are running high.

My suggestion this month to deepen your meditation or awareness is to try to pause your mental I-pod/tape more consistently during the day, if only for short periods of time. In August, I suggested picking a repetitive activity that you do several times a day and pause the mental I-pod each time you do that activity. Another suggestion would be to do that at the top of every hour. Some people who still wear watches have a watch that will beep on the hour. This could be a reminder. You really do have time to take one full breath, once each hour. If that seems too challenging, try it when you arrive at work or school and when you arrive home. Start with what feels right for you, and like in yoga, just try to do a little bit more each day.

  • Try to take one full aware breath in and out each time you do this.
  • Try for 5 times in one day and then slowly try to increase that each day.
  • When you pause, see if you can identify any particular thoughts going through your head at the time.
  • Attempt, just for that one breath, to allow your mind to be free of thought.

Finally, most importantly with meditation or awareness, do NOT feel that you are doing it wrong or that you can't do it. EVERYONE feels that way about meditation...at least in the beginning!!!! EVERYONE! There really is no wrong way to do it.

Two additional quick thoughts about meditation. People tell me that they don’t meditate, because they pray. The difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer is talking (or thinking) and meditation is listening. Second, a friend of mine recently likened meditation to your diet. Not so much being on a diet, but just the actual things you eat. If you eat foods that are high in fat or sugar, you will feel tired and run down. If you eat foods that nourish your body, you will feel energized. Meditation is like the diet of your mind.

I will also briefly share one of my own simply methods that I am sure is not listed in any book of "How to" meditate, but it is what works for me. When I begin, I go through a mental checklist and intentionally think about all the things that might be on my mind....my kids, what I am going to make for dinner, a phone call I need to make, etc.... Then I set those things aside. In my method, I mentally set those things outside of my "head" (or awareness) and give myself permission to spend the next 15 or 20 minutes in "my time". This is what works for me. I'd love to hear what works, or doesn't work, for you!

As always, your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future you may place in the comments section the bottom of the post or e-mail me directly at penelope@simplyspirituality.com . All newsletters will be posted and archived on my blog along with other useful information at:
Simply Spirituality or
http://simplyspirituality.blogspot.com/

To continue reading the next post, Change is in the Air, click here....

Until next month....
Here's hoping you keep your spirituality simple!
Penelope

Picture of the month

Floating flowers, Key West, Florida, May 2000

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October Question of the Month

Please take a look at the following photo......




Do you know what this is?
Can you identify what is in the picture? It is of something most of us have seen, many of us in person, but do not typically look at from this perspective.

If you would like to answer, please do so in the comments section of this post.

For the answer, scroll down to the next post then please read on for this month's post on perspective......

The Whole Elephant

October 2008
Quote of the Month

We are disturbed not by what happens to us,
but by our thoughts about what happens.

- Epictetus

The last of the human freedoms is
to choose one's attitude
in any given set of circumstances.
- Victor Frankl



The Epcot Ball, aka Spaceship Earth, looks a little bit different from underneath than the typical postcard shot we are used to seeing, doesn't it? So why did I take this particular view? And why did I ask you to look at it in the above question of the month?

In August, we talked about becoming aware of the I-pod/CD/tape that constantly plays in our heads. In September, we talked about becoming aware of the content on the I-pod and the judgments we make about the content. This month, I want to take this idea one step further and suggest that the way you experience your world and your life is really all in how you look at things. It is in your perspective. To take that a step further, if you are not happy with an aspect of your life, you are capable of changing that perspective. The difference from last month is somewhat subtle…but what I wanted to stress last month is to become aware of the judgments we make…and this month to become aware that you have the ability to change those judgments, if you so choose.


I am, of course, not talking about lying or being dishonest with yourself. But there typically is more than one accurate way to look at things. To illustrate this…consider a story many of us have probably heard before. That of The Blind Men and the Elephant. 


The story goes, that several blind men were describing an elephant based on the part of the elephant they were able to touch. The one standing by the tail described the elephant as rope. The one by the trunk had a very different perspective and described it as a branch….the ear felt like a fan, the body like a wall…and so on…. 

Each was limited in their perception by the part of the elephant they could touch. In addition, each of them felt they were right. They began to fight and defend their perspective until a wise man passed by. He pointed out that each of them was “right” in their description, but limited. They learned that other perspectives could be just as “right” as their own. Only by being willing to listen to the other points of view and sharing their own view, could they all grasp the totality of the elephant.


So far, we have primarily talked about things like weather and traffic. It becomes an even more powerful technique when you stretch a little bit to consider situations in your life and people around you. The “elephant” in the above situation could be your boss, the kids, the political system, the election, your ex-boyfriend, any thing else in your life that is causing you stress.


If you wish to give this a try, pause the I-pod/CD/tape in your head, become aware of the content of the I-pod….. My suggestion (as always) would be to start with something small....something that doesn't really bother you too much in order to practice.

  • Think about what you are telling yourself about the situation or issue.
  • Notice how you label it? Good? Bad? Terrible? Horrible? Catastrophic? (this is the “story” you make up or the part that comes after the comma from last month.)
  • Notice how thinking those things makes you feel.
Next…..here are some new things to consider…..
  • Ask yourself, “Is this the way I want to experience my life?” (If you are happy with your experience of this situation, then try again later with a different situation. I am relatively certain that everyone can think of at least one thing to which this might apply!)
  • Do I believe that changing this is within my control?
  • Do I want to give up my peace of mind to external factors such as the weather, traffic, other people or external situations?
  • Ask yourself if your judgment of the situation is really true and complete? Are you seeing the whole elephant?
  • If you are certain that it is true, ask if it is serving you? If it is not, make a conscious effort not to put your attention on it. (More on that in a later post!)
  • Ask yourself if you can change your perspective. That might mean looking at something from a different angle, broadening your view of the situation or considering someone else's perspective.…like the men and the elephant….or looking at the EPCOT ball from a different angle.
Now for some real life examples:
I’ll start with myself….. As many of you know, I used to work in the tax department of a bank. Each year, April 15 was a huge, overwhelming deadline. Supervising preparation, and making sure all the returns got either filed or extended was not always fun……..I used to feel that it wasn't possible to get all the work finished in time for the deadline…..Hhhmmm….am I making up any stories here? Do you think those judgments are making me feel particularly good? Is this the way I want to experience my life? (About now, those of you who know me may be about to say obviously not, and point out that I no longer work there…….but I did for 6 tax seasons…..so back to our story…)

I could choose to get lost in the negative feelings of being overwhelmed...but I would STILL have to make sure all the returns were accounted for. Instead, I stepped back and looked at the whole elephant....and began to view it as more of challenge than an obstacle. I became exhilarated and energized by the work and never missed a deadline in the six years I was there. Yes, I did eventually choose to leave, but the shift in perspective made the time while I was there much more palatable.

Another example:When I was a child, my grandparents had a plaque in their kitchen that had a Native American saying on it. It read, "May you never judge another person until you've walked a mile in their moccasins." This is true even when someone is short with you, rude or impatient. Generally their actions have very little to do with you and a lot more to do with what is going on in their lives. The person who wrote this realized that there is more to the elephant than just the part they could touch.

Finally, one more…..from the world of politics….I am intentionally leaving the name off as this example isn't being used to promote any particular candidate or political position….but simply asking both sides to consider other positions.

One of the candidates, said the following about gun control, “We might not agree on gun control, but we can agree that automatic weapons should not be in the hands of juvenile gang members…..”

Not just gun control, (comma) is a good thing or gun control, (comma) is a bad thing like we talked about last month. This candidate offered a third option….of keeping guns out of the hands of gang members. That's a broader perspective!

For one more photo on perspective, please take a look at the picture of the month shown below. Any idea about where this might be?  It is from the perspective of looking down from the top at a very good friend of mine!  It will tell you where in the caption. Next month, we'll talk more about the actual process of changing a thought or a judgment, but until then.... remember to check out the whole elephant or change the perspective on the EPCOT ball in your own life!

I would love to hear about the "elephants" in your life! Please submit your feedback, as well as any questions you may have, or topics you may be interested in for the future, to the blog under the comments section below. 

If you prefer, you may also send them to me at penelope@simplyspirituality.com . All posts will be archived on my blog along with other useful information at:
Simply Spirituality or
http://simplyspirituality.blogspot.com/


To continue reading the next post, Meditation 2, click here.
Until next month....
Here's hoping you keep your spirituality simple!
Penelope
Photo of the month
Lighthouse at Ponce de Leon Inlet, FL, August 2003

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Inspiration by E-mail Sign Up



If you cannot see the sign up form in your browser, please send your name and e-mail address to penelope@simplyspirituality.com and I will add you to the list.

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Question of the Month

Question of the month:

Did you attempt the 17 second challenge last month (or any of the other exercises)? If so, how did it go?
What challenges did you encounter?

  • I got to 17 seconds and beyond.
  • I got between 10 and 16 sceonds.
  • I got between 1 and 9 seconds.
  • I didn’t try yet, but I will!!!

Please answer in the comments section below.

Just the Facts.... or Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

September 2008




Quote of the month:
The only thing we are ever dealing with is a thought
and a thought can be changed.

- Louise L. Hay

"Just the facts, ma'am! Just the facts!"........is the line Sgt. Joe Friday is quoted as using on Dragnet. That could be an another accurate title for this month's blog.

When looking at any particular issue in our lives, we tend to somewhat unconsciously make judgments about those issues. For example if you get a raise at work you may unconsciously say, "I got a raise at work (comma) and that is a good thing." You may start to think about what you will do with the money and what you want to buy with it. This may make you feel happy!


On the other hand, if you get a flat tire, you may unconsciously say, "I got a flat tire, (comma) and that is a bad thing." You may start to get anxious about how you will change the tire or angry and tell yourself stories about how unfair it is and how these things always seem to happen at the worst possible time (did I mention you were on your way to an important meeting?) Then you start to think about how upset the person you are meeting with will be when you are late and that you probably won't get the account.....etc., etc., etc.


I also call this "making up stories". I am intentionally using very obvious examples to make a point. In both cases, there was a FACT. The thoughts that create the actual feeling came after that fact. The fact was going to remain the same NO MATTER what you choose to tell yourself about it or how you chose to feel about it. It is important to recognize that it is a choice AND separate from the actual fact!


Most people probably would agree in both cases that the raise is "good" and the flat tire is "bad". I am simply suggesting that it is not necessary to judge and label everything in our lives on a constant basis....especially when what we are telling ourselves is making us feel a way that we do not want to feel. Simply choosing NOT to make up any stories about the flat tire allows you to deal with changing it more efficiently. You don't first have to deal with all the negative emotions on top of having to still change the tire!


Let me give you another example.... Living in an area where it frequently snows.....we have had to learn to deal with shoveling and driving in the snow [and this was especially challenging when coming from a warm climate where it doesn't snow.......or am I just making up a story? ;) ] When a snow storm is coming, we may be tempted to say, "It's going to snow, (comma) and that is a very bad thing!" My boys, on the other hand, who love playing in the snow might say, "It's going to snow, (comma) and that is a very good thing!" The facts of the matter remain the same - it is going to snow. Inserting the comma and any judgment after that is purely choice....as is the resulting feeling about the snow.


We all do this every day in many little ways.....and it does become more challenging to recognize we are doing this when the things we are judging are not so obvious. Try to be aware of what you are telling yourself at least some the time. This goes back to what I wrote about last month...... recognizing that tape or CD that constantly plays in our head ....and learning to pause it long enough to recognize that you are making a judgment. [**It has been brought to my attention, that if I really want to be up to date, I need to further update my analogy! I now need to call it an I-pod!] This month we are not only talking about pausing the I-pod, CD or tape but then becoming aware of the content!


Here are some very simple exercises I would like to suggest for this month…
  • When you are able to pause the "I-pod" in your head.....try to notice if you are making some sort of judgment......if you can, think about how that thought might be making you feel. Some good times to try this might be when you are waiting in a long line, stuck in traffic or notice that it is raining (or snowing!) You may even want to try it if you receive some good news.
  • Another more challenging time to try it is if someone is saying something that you don't agree with. What are you telling yourself about what they are saying? Or what are you telling yourself about the person? Initially, it might be better to try this when you are watching TV, listening to the news or talk radio....when the person is not right in front of you.....again just to keep it simple at first!
  • Another exercise would be to think to yourself as you slowly read the following list of words....what feelings the word generates...then try to pause the I-pod and become aware of the thought that caused that feeling..... you don't have to share your results with anyone unless you want to.....so be honest with yourself.
American.....
Democrat....
Republican....
Islamic.....
Grandmother.....
Brother.....
New York City..... Key West.....
Work...... Vacation......
Labor Day….. New Year‘s Day…...
Rainy...... Windy….. Cloudy..... Snowing.... (that one is for me!!!)
Rush Hour

How about Spiders....…? Or Snakes? (I am sorry to the people who will KNOW these last 2 were especially for them!)


Remember, if you felt something when you thought of the word, then you are making up some sort of story about that particular word! The idea this month is just to notice and become aware that we doing it.


Most judgments happen so quickly that we don't even realize that we are making them....we are unaware that we are doing it. Many such judgments happen repetitively, to the point that we believe them as fact. Many are dictated to us by society, the media, the advertising business, our cultural background, our families....or any other group with which we associate ourselves…..and quite often we can find a large group of people who would agree with our version of the story.


Just like I made up driving in snow is "bad"…..it turns out..... it can actually be kind of FUN with the 4 wheel drive!!!!! So....until next month..... Just the facts, sir and ma'am!!!! Just the facts!


I would love to hear your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future. You may send them to me at penelope@simplyspirituality.com or comment at the bottom of the blog. All posts will be archived on my blog along with other useful information at:
Simply Spirituality or
to continue reading the next post, click the following link...
The Whole Elephant



Until next month....
Keep it Simple!
Penelope


Picture of the month
Snow, MN, March 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Meditation

August 2008

Quote of the month:

Every breath we take, every step we make,
can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity.
We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

This first issue, will focus on meditation.....but not so much on the traditional form of sitting and chanting. That has its place, but in order to introduce oneself to the idea of meditation, the first thing is just to become aware of one's thoughts. We all have a "mental CD" going in our heads nearly all of the time.... I used to call it a tape, but that dates me too much, so now it is a CD! : ) [Now it has been brought to my attention that I need to further update to an I-pod! See future posts...!]

The idea of meditation is to first become aware that the CD exists....and then to simply push the pause button on the CD player once in a while. Even if only for a few seconds at first. It is actually quite important NOT to be upset when the CD becomes "un-paused" and the thoughts return, because they will!

Also, do not try to push the thoughts out of your head....as that will only make them more persistent. The traditional description is to envision the thoughts as clouds in the sky and merely observe them, without judgement, as they float by. At this point, just noticing that the CD has come un-paused is sufficient. You may wish to pause again...or repeat it later.

There is ample information available on the benefits of meditation....stress reduction, less anxiety and depression, greater enjoyment and appreciation of life, relaxation, sense of balance in your life, insight, calmness, empathy, and awareness to name a few.

I will suggest a few simple ways to get started....without any complicated procedures or equipment.

  1. Right now, become aware of breathing in and out. As you breath in, think "in" and as you breath out, think "out". Repeat.
  2. The next time you are waiting in line for something and becoming impatient....use the time to become aware of the "complaining version" of your CD and focus your attention on your breath.
  3. Use any sort of repetitive habit or behavior, such as brushing your teeth or picking up your car keys to take a moment to become aware of the CD and press the pause button as you complete that behavior.

Initially, I am not going to suggest any time frame....any amount of time is a start. I will suggest that even 17 focused seconds is enough to shift your vibration, your mood, your energy..... and EVERYONE has 17 seconds!

  1. A simple way to focus for 17 seconds is to count your breaths up to 17. You can count "1" on the in breath and "2" on the out breath and so forth.
  2. You may want to count one full in and out breath as "1".... you may get all the way to 34 seconds! : )
  3. When you get to the end of the "out" breath, take just a moment to notice the space between the out breath and the start of the next "in" breath.
  4. Another method would be to use a focusing tool, such as a strand of beads or a rosary to focus your attention more deeply on the breath and less on the counting. Either way, the CD is paused.
  5. There is a picture of a lotus bloom at the end of the newsletter, you may wish to focus your attention on the picture while you breath.

That is it for the first issue of Simply Spirituality.....I would like to hear your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future. You may send them to me at penelope@simplyspirituality.com or list them in the comments section below. All posts will be archived on my blog along with other useful information at:

Simply Spirituality or for the next post, please click the following link....

Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Until next month....

Here's hoping you keep your spirituality simple!
Penelope


Picture of the month.....
Lotus Bloom, Butterfly World, FL, 2002


Sunday, August 3, 2008

A few Thoughts about the Word "Spirituality"

Spirituality is one of those words that has a certain dictionary meaning, but also carries with it personal meaning for each individual.

Spirituality is NOT a religion...nor does not contradict religion....or even atheism for that matter. There are both atheists who read this and those of deep faith in various religions. If you choose to interpret the things I write in terms of a specific religion, that is fine...but it is not necessary.

The English word "spirit" comes from the Latin "spiritus" which means breath!

Spirituality has to do with the search for answers to questions about....
  • Why am I here?
  • Who am I?
  • Where is true meaning?
Spirituality is about awareness and mindfulness.

Within that awareness, it is about choosing behaviors, rather than reacting out of habitual patterns and.......... becoming more of who you truly are.

To me personally, it is about living the best life I can ....but NOT about doing that with perfection.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Introduction to Simply Spirituality

Quote of the month:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

Welcome to the launch of my monthly blog, Simply Spirituality.
Several of my friends and family have indicated an interest in my spiritual endeavors or asked me questions about it over the years. I am writing this to answer those questions, and also to share ideas about what I have learned. There is also a section for comments at the end of the blog, if you would like to discuss any of the topics presented. If this information is not new to you, maybe there are other people around you, also, that have questions or may benefit from such information. If you would like to forward this on, please feel free to do so. Also, please let me know if you prefer to be added to my e-mail notification list.
People tell me one or both of two things, when it comes to spirituality. First, either they simply do not understand what spirituality is or secondly, that they do not have time to do anything else in their busy lives.
My intention is to provide very simple, concise ways to have a basic understanding of what spirituality means to me, as well as ways to easily apply it in your own life, if you should choose to do so. This in no way is saying these are things that I think you "should" do. They are simply things that I have found to be of use in my life. If something resonates with you, try it in your own life. This blog will provide some very simple examples of things you can do today...right NOW if you choose.

I have a second intention in writing this blog. That is for my two boys to have this as as a reference as as they get older.
A few thoughts about the word "Spirituality."
  • Spirituality is one of those words that has a certain dictionary meaning, but also carries with it personal meaning for each individual.
  • Spirituality is NOT a religion...nor does not contradict religion....or even atheism for that matter. There are both atheists who read this and those of deep faith in various religions. If you choose to interpret the things I write in terms of a specific religion, that is fine...but it is not necessary.
  • The English word "spirit" comes from the Latin "spiritus" which means breath!
  • Spirituality has to do with the search for answers to questions about.. Why am I here? Who am I? Where is true meaning?
  • Spirituality is about awareness and mindfulness.
  • Within that awareness, it is about choosing behaviors, rather than reacting out of habitual patterns and.......... becoming more of who you truly are.
  • To me personally, it is about living the best life I can ....but NOT about doing that with perfection.
The first post, will focus on meditation.....but not so much on the traditional form of sitting and chanting. That has its place, but in order to introduce oneself to the idea of meditation, the first thing is just to become aware of one's thoughts. I would like to hear your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future. You may send them to me at penelope@simplyspirituality.com or list them in the comments section at the end of the blog. All posts will be archived on my blog along with other useful information at Simply Spirituality or http://www.simplyspirituality.blogspot.com/
To continue on to the next post on Meditation, click here....
Until next month...
Here's hoping you keep your spirituality simple!
Penelope


Picture of the month:
Sunrise over Biscayne Bay, Miami, FL October, 1999