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.”

7 Tips for Expanding Happiness

“It’s so deep, it’s so wide. You’re inside Synchronicity” – Sting, The Police

I’ve always known that I’m a lucky guy. My life has been blessed with amazing experiences and events. One of the most personally transforming and rewarding experiences for me was a recent trip to Puerto Rico, at SynchroDestiny.

“It’s so deep, it’s so wide. You’re inside Synchronicity” – Sting, The Police

I’ve always known that I’m a lucky guy.  My life has been blessed with amazing experiences and events.  One of the most personally transforming and rewarding experiences for me was a recent trip to Puerto Rico, at SynchroDestiny.

“Synchro” (as the kids call it…) is based on my favorite Deepak Chopra book, “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire – Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence.”  Like the title suggests, this five day retreat is all about desire, intention, and coincidence.  A great internal education for anyone that’s interested in the adventure – and uncertainty – of self awareness and transformation.

I really needed to get away from the record snowfall in New England and it felt great being back with my extended family from the Chopra Center.  It was a total time out (or ‘time in’ rather) with a group of people whose common interest is improving their lives, their happiness, and the world, by “being the change“.

I started every day by meditating with the group- listening to the sounds of the ocean lap against the shore at 6:30 am.  Pretty cool.  The group was guided IN by the ever present, Dean of the Chopra Center University, Davidji.  I tell you, there’s nothing like closing your eyes when it’s completely dark out… and when you open your eyes, seeing this…

Morning beach run
From here, most people did morning yoga with Claire on the lawn. However, I’m training for the Boston Marathon so I had to substitute morning runs to keep my mileage up while I was away (please don’t tell Claire).  My runs were incredible and a great way for me to get out of my head – and enjoy a little nature before class.  Running really helped me approach each day fully awake.  I even got in a nice 10 miler with some new friends that I met at the retreat (thanks, Eileen and George!).

A quick breakfast with my beautiful wife and son and then I was off to the general session.
Coffee w/ Catharine Ayurvedic doughnut

I do believe that’s an Ayurvedic doughnut.

A little after 9:00 each morning, we would be greeted by our host, Amanda.  She would give us an outline of the days events and gently guide us into meditation before the general session.  It’s impressive how she keeps it all flowing along smoothly- detached.  One morning, Davidji invited all the Primordial Sound Meditation instructors up to the stage to start the morning meditation off with the Shanti Mantra.
Settling into stillness
It was so cool – and they even invited my wife and son to stay and meditate with us. I know it’s my family, but… how cool is it to sit in stillness for 30 minutes with your wife AND 8yr old son? He’s never meditated for more than 10 minutes, so I was amazed he was so still for 30. He particularly liked the OM bath at the end =).

I am always impressed with how much work goes into putting these remote events together and how well the entire Chopra Center team works collectively to pull it all off- and still find time to be available for all of us.  It seemed like every day I had the chance to hang out with – or at least say hi to JC, Gabrielle, Claire, and Amanda – and meet new friends… Alan, Rene, Brett, Heiko, and Janis!  Someone was always asking us, “how is everything?… anything I can do?”.  I was incredibly grateful.

My teacher, Davidji, made time (I’m pretty sure he skipped lunch) to hang out with me and give me a bit of one-on-one guidance.
Davidji and Andy
Spiritual Superhero, Davidji and me  – the… um… vedic sage buddha… from south boston?

And my son Hayden and Deepak spent some time together and even got in some weighty discussions… =)
My two favorite teachers
Two of my favorite teachers.

Both Deepak and Davidji’s sessions were simply outstanding.  Over the past three years I’ve been lucky enough to see both Deepak and Davidji speak many times and as usual they were fully engaged… immersed in the material and the moment – and completely focused on us. I was inspired- and I took a LOT of notes!

Deepak dropped a lot of knowledge on us- but my favorite was when he said,

“Let your life flow from Being to Feeling, from Thinking to Doing.”

It was just an amazing week- An unreal setting in Puerto Rico, the warm breezes, the new friends, the I-Ching, the dancing, the amazing food, the drinks, and some of the deepest meditations I’ve had in years.

We experienced firsthand deeper levels of awareness…. were introduced to new sutras… discussed emotional intelligence, toxic emotions, and the keys to being emotionally free.

I came away more deeply committed to my own practice because intuitively and through my direct experience, I know it has significantly enhanced every aspect of my life.  I have some tips from the course below, but really – the key takeaway for me was from a short video where David Simon summed it all up by suggesting that we, “expand happiness”.

Seven tips for living your meditation… and expanding your happiness.

1. You can really explore new ways of truly knowing and being, by tuning in more carefully to your own present moment experience. Do this by simply observing your breath and asking, “how do I feel right now?”.

2. Write out a list of your intentions and look at them before you meditate.  Ask yourself, “what do I really want?”.

3. Every night before you go to bed, replay the events of your day like a movie, objectively –  like a reporter.  Make special note of any coincidences.  When you take the time to recapitulate your day, you increase your awareness of who you really are-  this is where you can start to make tweaks in what you really want.

4. ‘Catch yourself’ whenever you feel tension, stress, or anger, – and just be aware of the feeling without justifying it.  Remember that any tightness is really your ego being offended over something that it thought it had control over.

5. Be immune to other people’s criticisms, doubts, or praises.  The real you knows that everything is and will be alright- just let the universe work out the details.

6. Eat healthy 90% of the time. Get regular daily exercise and yoga two times a week.  Spend some time outside in nature every day.

7. If you take away one thing from this note it should be this – meditate everyday for 20 to 30 minutes.  Once when you wake up and again at the end of the day.  It’s the foundation for everything I do.

SynchroDestiny is coincidence with a purpose.  It has meaning, it gives direction- and it has intention.  I honestly thought that the retreat would be restful and restorative.  I had no idea that it would prompt such a fundamental shift in my focus and intentions.  Sitting quietly, emptying the turbulent thoughts from my mind, gave me such moments of clarity-  just an incredible place to reconnect with what is most important in my life.

Peace in!

-Andy