Freedom To Choose

 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   – Victor Frankl

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South Rim of the Grand Canyon, AZ

This has always been my favorite mindfulness quote.  We all need to look for the spaces between the stimulus and the response. That awareness begins with a pause. That self reflecting ability – in the moment noticing. In that pause we begin to notice what’s really happening (worrying about the future… a flash of irritation – a craving for food). With that realization, we allow what’s there – to be there – without reacting. In these moments, we enter a space of freedom – the freedom to choose.

After your meditation – or at a time where you feel relaxed – identify several situations during the day where you become or slip into a moderately reactive mode. Look for signs of anxiety or irritation. For example, for me it’s getting my son up for school. I can catch myself “mindful yelling”.  For you it may be, getting caught in traffic, a deadline for a project, feeling tired, overwhelmed at work, or being criticized by a loved one.

Select ONE area and for the next week have the intention to pause for a few breaths and become aware inwardly when you’re in those situations.

In that moment of pausing – that awareness – take real interest in what’s happening inside you… An uneasy feeling? Tension? Numbness? Pressure? Are you aware of anger, anxiety, or cravings? What are you feeling? Be with whatever sensation or emotion is present.

Then, take a few full breaths relaxing with each of breath and then resume your daily activity.

Notice the difference between being caught reacting all the time and being aware and awake. Honor these moments because it’s a deep awakening inside you.

Let me know how it goes.

-Andy

“Yum or Yuck” Your Way Out Of A Rut

Let’s face it, we all get stuck in ruts from time to time. Repeating the same old boring choices over and over again.  It’s like we’re on autopilot, just going through the daily grind, in a trance, where we are sleepwalking through the choices of our day.  And even when we thiFJ0A0252nk we’re here, present, in the room, we’re usually thinking… about the past, the future, judging something, or reacting.

In order to get ourselves out of these ruts, we need to become more aware of the choices we make ‘in the moment’ and ask ourselves how these choices make us feel.

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5 Tips To Help You Avoid Holiday Stress

kelleysandsanta“The greatest gift you can give someone is your presence.”  ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

I like to think that the greatest gift you can give to anyone this holiday season is to get your sh!% together.  =)

The Holidays are a time of joy, love, family, friends… and stress.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Holiday season.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing the look on my kids face when they’re opening their gifts on Christmas morning.  But… between the physical demands of always being on the go – running from one party to another – and the extra emotional energy needed to catch up with family and friends… not to mention socializing with colleagues at company parties, the Holidays can be VERY stressful.  Add in an ample supply of cookies, candy canes, caffeine, and some extra Nog, you’re bound to get some heightened physical and emotional reactions to your stress.

In order to slow things down so we can really enjoy the Holiday season this year we need to start planning NOW.  Here are five tips that will help you manage your stress levels over the Holiday season.

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Embrace The Detours On Your Path

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.” ~ Anonymous.

Over the years I have been teaching meditation to students, I’ve noticed that the ones who keep practicing day after day all experience similar detours.  These detours are inevitable to becoming balanced – fully integrated – and usually come in phases.

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"Breathe" Free Guided Meditation (audio)

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

I hope you enjoy this free guided meditation that I created for you to help you stay centered in this turbulent time.  A Breath Awareness Meditation is one of the quickest ways to ground and center yourself.  Watching the breath in a meditation practice can help your mind let go of its often chaotic and turbulent thoughts.  The breath will fill you with invigorating energy and inspiration to be in this world, but not caught up in the drama around you.  I hope this helps!

 

Guided Meditation “Breathe” (10 min audio)


(MP3 download) Right click and “save link as…”  to download it to your computer

 

 

The gap between growing up and growing into myself.

As of this weekend, I have been meditating now every single day for six years.  As I’ve said before, meditation has helped me to understand, trust and go with my gut (and heart) more.  It has brought my inner and outer life more closely together.  (Before I started meditating, I wasn’t even aware of my inner landscape.)  At 40, it seems I’m entering the gap between growing up and growing into myself.

We may never be as enlightened as the Buddha (I’m a catholic so there’s one obvious strike against me), but I believe that there’s a buddha with a lower case “b” within all of us.  It’s the part of you that doesn’t want your ego to run the show all the time.

Continue reading “The gap between growing up and growing into myself.”

Morning Mindfulness For Kids – Looks to the future, while staying in the present.

Today was the last Morning Mindfulness Workshop For Kids this year. I can’t tell you how much we’ve enjoyed these classes. It’s been deeply gratifying for both Catharine and me.  Over the past year, we’ve seen the general atmosphere in the classrooms become more balanced and some classes even slowed down. I wish I recorded the first meditation we ever did vs. the one we did yesterday – total stillness!  Today’s meditation was so still, so quiet. I was so proud of these kids. I attribute some of that improvement to the kids’ growing awareness of their breath, their five senses, and learning to block out the distractions around them.

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The Breakfast Club (Morning Mindfulness – Collicot Spring 2011)

When we focus attention on the inner landscape with our kids, we’re developing a more attuned relationship with our children. There’s a great scene in the movie “Jaws” where Chief Brody’s son is sitting at the dinner table (I think his name is Michael) and he’s carefully observing his dad’s behavior and posture. He starts slowly mimicking his dad until finally Chief Brody figures out what his son is doing – and decides to play along. Practicing mindfulness promotes integration with others through careful observation of the emotional and sensory experiences. There are all kinds of mirroring games that encourage heightened awareness of other people in a fun way. Continue reading “The Breakfast Club (Morning Mindfulness – Collicot Spring 2011)”