Dear You – a poem

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I am not really a poem person but during the Mindfulness Course and as I continue with it I do come across some that speak to me. Below I like to share another one as a reminder to slow down now and then!
Take your cup of tea, coffee or you glass of wine or bubbly and sit back and take this moment to simply be!

Hope you enjoy,

Have a lovely day

AK

Dear You

Dear you,
You who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still.

I know you’re tired.
I also know it’s not your fault.
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes.
You’ve forgotten something again.
You need to prepare for that or else.
You should have done that differently.

What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled.

~ By Kaveri Patel ~

A tiny smile can go a long way

Sometimes it is in the most smallest, most subtle things…

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I have to confess that I was doubtful when I heard that we were about to practice the “gentle smile” (half smile) during our Mindfulness training. I immediately had an image of a fake smile popping up. But I soon learned how wrong my perception was and what huge impact this small yet strong practice can have on my own personal well being. All within a short time, all with a simple, barely noticeable tiny smile.

It is known that the facial muscle are interlinked with the emotional part of the brain. Feelings are often linked to our facial expressions. And after a few weeks of practise I must admit that this tiny “smile” does indeed help to feel less tense, less stressed and more at ease. At times it even spreads joy.

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For the practise itself I would put the attention onto the “half” smile, in fact, it is even less – no fake smile needed or wanted here!
It is more like a gentle lift at the outsides of the mouth. It is a soft, almost an imperceptible smile. Yet this tiny change of muscles around your mouth can have a huge impact on loosening the jaw, the neck and the shoulder muscles. I even feel my eyes and the “forehead frown” relax. It is like a positive overall process taking place in the face and upper body and eventually spreading all over.

And as for all the Mindfulness practise, lifting the sides of your mouth does not mean you did not have a tough, hard day, that everything is perfect or that you are asked to pretend to be happy, joyful, cheerful!  Not at all, it is simply a little tool to help us to come back to the moment, to be present in the here and now and to release tension if needed. And if you allow yourself to really be present during this tiny exercise you may be surprised about the huge impact. At least it works for me. Why don’t you give it a try right now?!

It does not take more then to simply take a deep breath in and to gently lift the sides of your mouth the tiniest bit when you exhale. Take a few breaths like that or sit a few minutes or longer to experience the sensation spreading further. What ever your time allows in this moment!

As said, often it is in the smallest things!
And this is not a smile for anybody else but just you!

Have a lovely day

AK

Just for a day – no complaints

Before I even start – do not get me wrong, we all have crappy days, times that pull us down, when all and everybody seems to be too much. And we are all entitled to feel like that at times.

But often it seems to me that that is what we mainly do; seeing the negative, complaining,  just simply overlooking the good around us, no matter how small it is. Funny, sad and kind of bizarre how we can get upset over the small negatives, but overlook and find joy in the small positives or just take them as “normal”, isn’t it?

You don’t believe me and think you are different, then why don’t you join me? I invite you that just for a day we let go of all complaints – the ones in our minds and the ones spoken aloud!

Looking more at the positive gives so much joy,
yet it seems to be so much harder to do! 

So, just for a day no complaints of any sorts about the weather, the kids, the neighbours, the partner, the parents, the in-laws, the bad-hair-day, the service, the food, the too hot / too cold coffee, the co workers, the boss, the friends, the to-do-list, the studies, the upcoming summer holidays, the bad night sleep, the exhaustion…the whatever…

Just for a day – no complaint. Think you can do it and feel the difference?

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If you want to really see how you are doing, take a notepad and make telly marks whenever you find yourself drifting away into a complaint. Or if you want to take it further, place a dollar, a euro, 100yen into a jar for every spoken and “thought” complaint on that day.  You may be surprised by the amount of ice-cream you can buy the following day!

And if you hear and notice yourself going into a complaint? Don’t beat yourself up over it. Sadly, it is so much easier to focus on the negative and therefore I think it is time to train our minds to shift to the more positive again!

Becoming aware and simply letting go of that “thought complaint”
is a first big step already! 

After all it is up to each of us how we deal with the “complaint situations”…surely rain can suck at times, but we can put a positive spin to it, too, and decide to jump through the puddles and to dance in the rain instead!

Have a lovely, complaint free, day

AK

Please feel free to join me on Facebook for some smaller, more regular thoughts on staying “at ease”, too!  https://www.facebook.com/ateaseandmore/

 

 

Don’t judge a book by its title – “Happy for No Reason”

We can never obtain peace in the outer world
until we make peace with ourselves.

~ His Holiness the  Dalai Lama ~

I recently came across a book I would have never picked up myself due to its title “Happy for No Reason” by Marci Shimoff. As I mentioned in a previous blog (Happy life, the ultimate goal?) and during several discussions  with friends I am not a big fan of the ‘happiness’ talk. I am more looking at being content, experiencing joy, feeling at ease, etc.

Now, I understand that all these can all be words that do describe “happiness” but to me this “happy” sounds on the one hand too superficial and on the other hand it can put a lot of pressure onto a person. All this talk we “we have to live a happy life”. Then again, perhaps it is just me that has an issue with the happiness talk?!

But – I am getting away from the topic here, back to the book. Overlooking the title the book intrigued me as the subtitle reads “7 steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out”. So what is it that we can find or change inside us that can lead to more happiness?

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The book is structured into three sections. The first part explores “the paradigm of true happiness” that the author classes “Happy for no Reason”. Within the second part you get a step-by-step guidance on “how to raise your happiness level”. And leaving you in the third part with some “direction about how to put the Happiness Habits into practise every day”.

Setting myself up to read this without any higher expectations and expecting too much “happiness talk” I was surprised. And while the title did not sit with me, most of the content did. Some great research information gave me surprises, confirmation, ideas and food for thought throughout the reading!

I learned for example that we all have a happiness set point; so “that no matter what happens in our life” we “tend to return to a fixed range of happiness.” And this “happiness set-point will remain the same unless you make a concerted effort to change it.” And this was undermined even more by going into details that in fact  “50% of our happiness comes from our genetics”, 10 percent are determined “by circumstances such as our level of wealth, martial status, and job.” And a whooping 40 percent are “determined by our habitual thoughts, feelings, words, and actions”!

We then indeed have an explanation why some are happy more easily than others, but that at the same time we all have a rather big chunk on ourselves to decided how happy we want to be in our situation!  And we can change or improve our habits to get to a higher level of happiness as “we all have the right to practice happiness, not chase after it”!

So, it is a lot about changing habits. And I had to laugh as it shows again that somehow everything around us is linked together. And not only because I recently read the book about habit changes.

As mentioned, the second part goes deeper into practices and it was enlightening to read parts of it and I will for sure take some of them into my day to day life. I won’t go into details as I think everybody needs to find his/her own way and has his/her own focus points. But just to give a little idea, think about how often we all tend to complain about something or somebody every single day, how we blame others and may feel shame. We have to start with ourselves instead of looking to the outside! Just go and try do not complain about anything at all for a whole day? Sounds easy? Then try it!

Same counts for our thoughts. After all they are just thoughts, not the truth. Yet their impact on how they make us feel is scary! And we are kind of programmed to focus more on the negative around us, then paying more focus on all the good. Perhaps it is really time to change this, what do you think? Let the positive linger longer than the negative?! Sounds good to me.

Forgiveness was as well an important part that got to me. And I was grateful that it was not just brushed of to simply forgive the other person but instead to focus on ourselves. “It is ok if you still feel angry; the purpose […] is to begin to release the pain in your heart, not to excuse others for their actions.”

And obviously our diet, sleeping-, exercise- and relaxation habits, or let`s just say our own personal wellbeing regime are points within ourselves that can contribute in increasing or reducing our “happiness level”.

And so do people around us. Have you ever noticed how you sometimes pick up the same moods or emotions of some people around you? Yes, moods and emotions can be “contagious”. “When you surround yourself with relationships that support you, your energy expands. When you have a lot of toxic people in your life, your energy contracts. […] Think about the people in your life. Do you want to “catch their emotions”?” Or do you have “happiness vampires” around you? But be as well aware to not take the “people who mean the most to” you for granted. Make sure you acknowledge them more!

This leaves me with part three in the book which gives a great short overview of all the steps mentioned on how to “take ownership of your happiness” and leaves you with additional ideas on how to move forward.

Coming to an end, I must say it was a much better and insightful read than I expected and I do recommend reading it. A bit too many “happiness” words but I guess that comes with the title.

And for me personally it was great to see yet again how all the things around me do not stand on single pillars but all are connected; may it be habit changes, being more mindful, finding passion and inspiration, to simply being more content or at ease in life. One does not happen without the other, but it all starts from within us!

So, how “happy” do you want to be?

Have a lovely day,

AK

 

S.T.O.P. practice

We all know those moments when we feel upset, pressured, overwhelmed or uncomfortable. Especially in such situations we tend to become disconnected to what is actually happening around us. Here comes a little awareness exercise I got to know during my mindfulness course. It may come in helpful to be be more “there”, in the present moment, to get out of the auto-pilot and disconnection we may experience.

But it can as well be an interesting practise to try when we experience something positive, or something neutral as it brings back awareness to what we actually do and experience at that moment.

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S– Stop; Pause – Check in with your thoughts / feelings / sensations. Even if uncomfortable, acknowledge your experience.

T – Take a deep breath in, exhale with awareness. Use the breath as an anchor

O – Observe; Look – notice what is happening around and within you, bring awareness to your body, your posture and facial expressions (head, heart, body)

P – Proceed; Continue; Participate explore your options, how does it feel to respond mindfully rather than to react mechanically? Make a choice of action.

Sometimes a quick halt in what we are doing can go a long way to find the balance back!

Have a lovely day,

AK

Enough…

A while ago I came across this article (https://freefromtoxic.com/2015/06/16/the-8-most-common-narc-sadistic-conversation-control-tactics/) and shared it on Facebook. And quite few came back and thanked me for sharing. It seems the article struck a chord with some people out there.

The above link gives a great description of narcissistic behaviours and I won’t go into that any further. But what I would like to share is what I learned for myself of having had a few of these “experiences”; afterall they taught me some life lessons. Perhaps you can relate or even get ideas on how you can change this exposure into something better for yourself.

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Looking back, perhaps I should be kind of thankful that I had the “pleasure” of having had them in my life. It was hard at times to come to terms and realise that I had those personalities close to me and I got burned deeply. We may want to help some people around us, make them see situations in a different light but certain personalities are not cut that way.

Narcissist are often dominant personalities, verbally/rhetorically very strong and they often “go for it”. And let’s be honest, at least some of their “trademarks” we could use at times. But we should “go for it” in a different, more approachable way and definitely with more awareness.

I think partly by being exposed to their direct and strong approaches I got encouraged to get out of myself more, too! After all, it was only me, myself, who allowed those personalities to fully overrun me, made me doubt myself, made me question what I said, leaving me deflated at times. I came to a point where I had enough of that feeling and I started to show more confidence. Let’s say it brought a lot of awareness to myself.

  • I stand up more and more for myself and for what I believe in.
  • I make sure I have a voice when needed.
  • I wont let myself be undermined anymore, believing it was/is all my fault.
  • I want at least be able to have an honest discussion where one can always “agree to disagree” in a respectful way. If not it is not worth the effort to even talk. Let the other one do the talking.
  • I learned awareness and ways on how I can handle them differently by noticing my trigger points. Narcissists seem to have a good feeling on how to “trigger”.
  • I found a way to to ease or kind of ground myself when being confronted with such strong personalities. This helps me to not get all that flustered again.

On a down side I got as well more cautious around people. I still have to overcome that unsettling feeling of mistrust that somehow got planted within me. But for now I just simply give more time and space to myself and others.

Having said all this this, it took quite a while until I reached this point. I struggled deeply by feeling misunderstood, overlooked, taken advantage of and being used by people close and dear to me. But I had enough. After all life and people are never easy, are they? And no matter what age we are at life will always teach us – the good and not so good lessons – but

what I make out of it at the end of the day is my own life!
What do you make out of yours? 

AK

The Guest House

This week something a little bit different – a poem.

It seems to be a well know poem within mindfulness courses and when I listened to it this week I understood why. Will  you feel the same?!
Sit down, relax and simply be while reading this one.

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The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

 

Nothing more to add for today but to wish you

a lovely day

AK