Finding balance in a hectic world

onenessii-20x20smc
We are one by me , http://www.JourneyStudios.com

Hectic… yeah well, for many of us, that might sound like a pretty mild choice of words. Crazy, out-of-control, chaotic and sometimes frightening can also seem fitting when we look at our world today. But if the outside world is making your head spin, allow me to suggest that you were never intended to find peace outside of yourself. In today’s whacked out world, your connection to the divine, the peace, the answers, the new world… is right inside you. Yes, the world has gotten a bit more than exciting in recent years, so all the more reason to make some time for peace.

Many of you know that I teach meditation so you might be now expecting me to “crack the whip” and insist you sit in silence on your cushion chanting Om for 20 minutes morning and night. If that is what calms you, then go for it. But for the average Westerner… sitting and stilling the mind is a grand challenge. For me personally, chanting/singing kirtan is wonderfully refreshing and powerful when practiced with a group… but that group isn’t always hanging around my patio when the crap has hit the fan. So what to do?

The key to calm is different for each of us. But I think it often begins in the same place… to bring yourself into this moment. We can’t change the past, we can’t predict the future. We CAN enjoy this moment. So focus a bit on savoring this second. And remember to breathe. A teacher who kindly emails me daily, Paramahamsa Hariharananda, has convinced me over the years that I cannot maintain anger, anxiety or even fear if I breathe. So use those lungs folks… a deep inhale to fully inflate the lungs, even expanding the belly to relax more. Then exhale and release whatever needs to flow out of you. Five good, deep, slow breaths then breathe normally with attention to using more of your lung capacity is so incredibly calming.

Beyond this… pursue your passion, eat well, drink lots of pure water that didn’t come packaged in a plastic bottle to further choke our landfills. Sounds like I’ve got more to share in the future. Breathing. 😉

Enjoy your day.

Seek much love and joy on your journey

peace

su

Ebb and Flow

SuNimonArtistIf you read this blog regularly, then you’ll know I’ve been MIA lately. It used to bother me more when I “wander off” but more recently I’m becoming more accepting of the idea that “there’s only so much a human being can do” and just as often “sometimes I’m just not interested in being interesting? ” LOL
Life is certainly cyclical. Up/down, ebb/flow, busy/busier… each day brings a new mix. In the past month, I’ve been so hopeful then mad as hell because someone stomped on my plans. I’ve been overworked to the point of barely finding enough hours to sleep then whisked off on a very lovely, quick vacation. I came back recharged only to be slammed by a sinus infection. Geeeezzzzz. What about consistency??
Oh, life isn’t about consistency. I think life is about resiliency. And personally, I think it is particularly about the willingness to regroup, rebound and try, try again. So lucky you, I chose to write today when I’m “climbing back on the horse” to ride yet again. I did not choose to write last week while wallowing amidst used kleenexes and one more empty bottle of OJ (organic OJ, of course 😉
And the “moral to this story” is just that if you’ve felt flattened a bit lately, realize you are not alone. We would love to live a life fulled with “standing on the mountaintop” experiences but know that sometimes we find ourselves sliding out-of-control down the mountain slope into the muddy creek at the bottom. Take the bitter with the sweet, the good with the bad…
BUT
never, never, never resign yourself to the down times. Never expect them, never wait for the other shoe to drop. While the downs come, keep your focus on the bright side. Savor the sweet, mountaintop moments. Visualize those amazing, fabulous successes. Because even though my ride has been a bit bumpy lately, the sweet has WAY outweighed the bitter and I think that I can affect the balance.
So if you find yourself lying in a heap, find the courage to stand up, dust yourself off and begin again. And as you begin, know in your heart that better times are coming. You can call the best of life in to you by living with these brighter than bright expectations.
Thanks,
much love,
mary sunshine
 

I am a wealthy woman

DLP_006566smSqI am sad that our country is so money motivated. Many of the issues that I feel are crises in our world today seem to be greed motivated. Money, money, MONEY!!

Recently, a conversation with friend and author Gary Sirak* reminded me that wealth isn’t only about money. Thanks Gary for the jumping off point.
What do you want out of life?  If you think it’s money… then I might challenge you to look further.  Is it the things, the security, the prestige that you think money will buy?  Do you see yourself as a different person… or wonder if you’re perceived as a different person if you’re wealthy?  Do you really think that money will buy you happiness?  Take a poll if you can… or trust me on this… lots of people with lots of money will be the first to tell you that the money doesn’t make them happy.
Of course, if you feel like your basic needs aren’t being met, then a bit more money could ease the pain. I understand that one- been there done that. But the way out of your pain isn’t necessarily winning the lottery. The way out could be a change in perspective.
Rather than focusing on the thing that you think is missing, try thinking about a joyful, full life.  Don’t let the “yeah but…” comments stop you.  Just visualize where you want to be.  I’m not talking so much about specific “things”, I’m talking about feelings.  How would you feel if you were living your perfect life?  Imagine waking up every day feeling calm, safe and enthusiastic about what the day will bring.
Without worrying about “what if’s”, what would you like to accomplish?  Are you the sort of person who lives to help others?  Do you long to have a creative outlet?  Do you wish for a bit more time for yourself?  Want to commune with nature more?  Desire more love in your life?  Want to learn more about ____?  Even if your vision of the ultimate you is a deep seated desire to race Porsches, you can play this game too.
And with these visuals on what you’d like to do/be in mind… how would it feel if you were doing these things? Now I’m challenging you a bit to stretch your imagination.  I’m not looking for “oh, it would feel nice”… I want you, in your mind, to immerse yourself in your dream.  Imagine how it sounds, smells, feels, looks.  Picture yourself enjoying… participating… creating… loving… even racing if that’s your passion!  And in your imagination, there is not a bit of room for anything but savoring these dreams.
Why do I ask this of you? Well… try this on for size. Thoughts are energy. You know that medical science can attach an electrode to your head and measure brain activity… so thinking is energy. Do you want this energy that’s lighting up your brain to be positive or negative? Worrying about what you Don’t Want to have happen is negative energy. Focusing on visualizing the best results is positive energy. Which sounds like more fun to you?
So now comes the part that sounds like “magic” to some. To some people, magic is a fine term… but to others, it sounds like airy-fairy nonsense. So first I’ll state the magic, then I’ll try to offer a bit of concrete explanation to you who need it.
I have found in my life, that I have been able to change my life by changing how I think.  Simply put, thinking about what I want to have happen seems to encourage those things to happen.  I spend my time thinking about what I want to come to pass.  Now, I don’t wile away the hours daydreaming… I do this for a couple minutes in the morning and again in the evening. And I try to stay aware during the day to keep my thinking on the positive side. I put my thinking energy into positive thoughts for me and for others.
There is a scientific basis for my “think happy thoughts, people” mentality. It is based on the Double Slit Experiments** which have been conducted by physicists since the early 1900’s (and even before.) The field of quantum physics grew from these experiments. Quantum Physics, simply put, is a type of  physics of the atomic and subatomic levels which means it’s the study of the very, very small. Normal physics do not apply at this level.
And before I lose you by going too far into the technical, these experiments taught scientists that their expectations of the results of the experiment controlled the results of the experiments. What?  Yes, a laboratory of white coated researchers discovered that they could effect the results of the experiment with their thoughts. When I learned this, I thought… “this is big news people, why haven’t I ever heard of this?” And I don’t know why except perhaps that quantum physics isn’t always the most exciting topic for party chatter? 😉
But more recently, these concepts learned so long ago are becoming more palatable through the Law of Attraction movement. There are lots of teachers out there today trying to help us understand that our thoughts have great power to change our lives.***
So, I’ve worked hard to change my habits in thinking.  I do focus on believing, visualizing, talking and writing about the amazing things that can come to all of us.  I’ve been doing this for about 10 years. My life today is totally different than it used to be… in the best of ways.  My dreams are coming true. And if that’s not wealth, I’m not sure what is.
much love in the new year,
su
ps. next time I’ll share with you what my Step 2 is.
————————————
* Gary Sirak’s new book, “If Your Money Talked… What Secrets Would It Tell?” has been recently published. I have read it and found it an insightful, enjoyable read. Check it out at http://www.ifyourmoneytalked.com/
** More details about the Double Slit Experiments
http://www.doubleslitexperiment.com/
http://www.bottomlayer.com/bottom/notebook.html – my friend Ross Rhodes was the first one to explain the Double Slit Experiments to me. While he’ll tell you that he hasn’t updated this site in years, it’s still an interesting resource.
*** My favorite Law of Attraction teacher is Mike Dooley. For years, Mike has sent out daily emails to people all over the world, encouraging them to believe his mantra, “Thoughts become things… choose good ones.” Mike’s emails and books are a great place to start if you want to explore the Law of Attraction simply.
http://www.tut.com/resources/

Gifts

The holiday season arrived so quickly this year that I’m just beginning to think about gift giving.

In pondering the value of gifts, the need of gifts… I started thinking about gifts I’ve been given. To those of you who know me, you may know that I’ve been sooo gifted recently. No… didn’t win the lottery. 😉 But the gifts I’ve been given are things I needed but didn’t really know how much they were needed.
The gift of acceptance, of support… a perfect word of encouragement at the moment I so needed it. I’ve been blessed with the gift of music and opportunities to share. The gift of insights from those with a better perspective or more experience  than I. Friends, old and new, have surrounded me with love… now there’s a gift we never get enough of. Changing my work location has given me a gift of more time at the studio. People have offered their help… amazing.
And all these gifts, that I choose to savor again and again, didn’t cost much. No one had to sprain a credit card to gift me… they gave me the gift of their companionship, their wisdom, their time, their love. And so, I’m inspired to the same.
So, no need to fight the crowds at the mall… instead I’ll hope to find ways to gift those I love with things that will help them feel loved, celebrated and empowered. And perhaps, you might choose to join me in this venture. Who knows, we might enjoy doing this all year long? And the world will evolve into a brighter, lighter, more fulfilling place.
May the joy of the season fill you with love.
have fun!

su
lovenotes-holdon

meditate on this?

Original painting by su nimonMeditation is a much misunderstood tool that can be used to calm your life. However, when many people in the West think about meditation, they picture this eastern Indian looking guy in orange robes sitting in full lotus position. They think they need to sit in that position and to stop their mind from thinking. And if they can’t accomplish either or both of those tasks, they tell me, “I just can’t do it.” And I bring the message to you, that indeed you can meditate… you just might need a bit more information.

Meditation is an amazingly powerful practice where one can connect with one’s higher self. Yes… there is a peaceful wise self floating within each of us, seated in a full lotus position and ready to calmly address any question that might arise in your life. Do you connect with that part of yourself a lot? Haha… yeah, that’s the common answer.

In the West, most people think of their minds as who they are. The mind, busy chattering to us day in and day out, is not who we are but just a tool that we use. The mind is amazing, sorting out details and memories, lists and decisions. The mind gets you to the office in the morning, helps you remember what to pick up at the store on the way home and hopefully doesn’t let you forget the birthday of someone near and dear to you? We could not exist without this amazing wonder that lives in our skulls. But once we’re home, fed and sprawled out comfortably in bed, it’s time for the mind to shut off. And for some people this is a problem. They’ve left the mind in high gear so long, that they can’t quite find the “off” switch.

In meditation, we begin by learning that the brain is a tool and as such, we should be able to mentally place it on a shelf and distance ourselves from its chatter. Imagine you are standing by a lake, looking at the surface of the water. When a breeze comes up, the surface of the water is rippled and you can’t see past that busy disturbance. But when the breeze stops, and the ripples smooth, then you can see into the depths of the water and appreciate the beauty there. It’s like that when you can begin to calm and distance yourself a bit from the chattering mind, you can begin to look for and listen to your higher self… your soul… God… spirit… the voice of the Universe… however you prefer to view this.  But somewhere within, there is a calm part of you that is wise and beautiful. Meditation can help you connect with this part of you that you may not have met with in a very long time.

So, how to proceed? That’s the fun of teaching meditation. There are so many ways to approach it. I have studied meditation since I was a teenager. I’ve studied with gurus, teachers, books and recordings. And from all that I’ve come to the conclusion that one doesn’t need a guru (a teacher) or a long visit in the ashram (retreat house.) All anyone needs is a bit of information.

Meditation styles can be explored until you find one that resonates with you. There is seated meditation and walking meditation. There are breathing practices, visualization practices, and chanting practices. You can repeat mantras or calmly study the soap bubbles while you do the dishes. There are eating meditations and counting meditations. There are physical positions (asanas) to place your body into while you relax and focus. You can become mindful of just about any practice that is calming to you. So if brushing the dog is very comforting to you, you might just use that time to calm your mind. A walk in nature is wonderfully meditative if you focus on the beauty around, or the variety of colors or textures that you encounter. The meditative nature of a walk is missed if you a busy worrying about how to pay the bills next week instead of listening to the glorious song of the birds overhead.

So being mindful of what is happening in the moment is a wonderful place to begin your meditative practice. In the beginning, the goal is calmness… then a bit of peace. As you progress in your meditative practice, you ‘ll find you can enjoy the meditation for longer periods of time. Eventually the mind quiets beautifully and you’ll find comfort in that peace. And in time, you’ll begin listening… and then you’ll hear. And the one who is speaking to you is that higher self we might have almost forgot existed.

Meditation… anyone can do it. And the practice can calm and bring peace to us. As each of us becomes more peaceful, then the world becomes more peaceful. Do your part today to help our world.

have fun!
su

Light

meeting-of-the-mindssmFor many in my community, it’s been a dark week. Local tragedy seems to be magnified by today’s reminder of tragedy 10 years ago. I don’t chose to relive either of those here.

Instead, I’m calling in the light… for myself, for others who might feel they need it, and for the world. While sadness and darkness may intrude into our lives without invitation… we can make a choice to seek out light.

What do I mean by light? I often offer those in need my promise that I’ll “send light and love.” To me that light is the energy of hope, love, and connection. Energy is a real and measurable thing. In the midst of sadness, we see the light as people gather together and share. The grief changes a bit as we realize we are not alone in our heartache. Stories, hugs… connectedness ensue. And soon in the midst of grief, we hear laughter, love and yes, there it is… that’s light.
I’ve been sad this week… a bit overwhelmed by emotions- my own and those of others. So today is my day for light. I find light through music, meditation, chant, art… even in clearing out a bit more of the “stuff” that is cluttering up the homestead.

How might you find light? I think step one is to turn away from the darkness. I mean, quit focusing on sadness and pick up something that brings you joy. Play music, play with your pets or kids. Call a friend,  take a walk in nature. Create, paint, sing, dance… do that thing you love to do but never seem to have time for. Take time for you. Focus on love.

Light is about love and I think it is the essence of our connection as living beings on this planet. Focus on our similarities, our accomplishments, our joys. And don’t give an iota of energy to darker aspects. The world will not evolve by our focusing on our sadness, our perceived differences… the “us vs. them” misconception. The world will evolve when we realize we are all related- the people, the animals, the plants, the planet. And if we can just begin to get a grip on that idea, then we can begin treating each other with love and light.

At least, that’s my plan for my day. How about you?
sending light and love to you all.
have fun!

Follow your dream… even when you're not sure what the dream is? ;)

Original painting by su nimonI’m in this fabulous stage of life. Seems so many dreams have come true that now I’m beginning to live in this feeling that fabulous things are coming even though I’m really not sure what those things are. So many people I meet seem to think they have to “figure something out” or even to use a familiar phrase from the 70’s “get their sh!t together” before their lives will begin to feel more happy, more fulfilling. I’m coming to realize that I don’t need to know what the next step is, I just need to believe that joy, fulfillment and love will always surround me.
I’ve learned some years ago about the Law of Attraction. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means I can attract into my life those things I think about or focus my thoughts and spirit on. I learned this basic concept from Mike Dooley and his website tut.com. Many people learn about this idea from the movie “The Secret” and other books.
So for maybe 10 years now (?) I’ve been believing Mike Dooley’s mantra that “Thoughts Become Things”  and because of that, I need to choose my thoughts carefully. I began visualizing for short periods everyday that my life was different. I visualized being an artist and now I have my studio/gallery in the art’s district downtown. I dreamed of finding a way to help people with energy and light, and now through my massage therapy practice, I do get to help people feel healthier and often find their smile. I could go on and on… I now play music and sing, I design clothes… I’m doing mostly just those things I’m passionate about. It’s very fun. These changes weren’t instantaneous. Now after years have passed I see that gradual transitions and certain decisions have brought me here to this place of amazement.
But now what… once your dreams come true, what to do? Dream More, of course. But now, I’m not faced with specific things I want to be doing that I’m not. So now, maybe it’s about “more.” More happiness, more love… and not just for me. Now I visualize more love, more peace for me and for you and for the world. I don’t know exactly how these dreams will come into fruition exactly. But based on my past experience… I know it’s going to be good.
So perhaps, if you’re wishing for your life to be different… you might not spend too much time figuring out the details. You might just believe and dream up a life full of love and peace and joy. And let me know how it goes for you! 😉
As always, Have Fun!
su

Too busy to dream?

DreamBigSometimes I wonder where my dreams come from. Are they cooked up in my brain? Are they composed by my heart? Or did I arrive here on this plane with my dreams packed in my DNA from realms before?
However you think the dreams appear… here’s my point today. Do we get too busy for our dreams? My answer is Yes. And I’m doing something about that little problem immediately.
What’s on your calendar today? Have work, have kids, bills to pay, rides to give, errands, multi-tasking, facebook??? Oh yeah, we’ve all got some of those things and more. So where is the time slot allotted for dreams? Mine happens early in the morning or late at night in times of peaceful meditation. I still the mind, allow the spirit to dance and sometimes those pesky dream visions just pop up. And I think (after meditation, of course as none of us struggles to keep the brain still while meditating… hahah!), I think, “I need to get to that.”
But I’m realizing that the need to take time for my dreams has a really different priority from the other tasks of the day. The daily calendar is full of stuff that should happen… but the dreams NEED to happen. As my dreams come true (and yes, if you’re a doubter, indeed they DO come true) they change my life. My daily list to to-do’s can change dramatically as my dreams lift my life to a new level, a new vista comes into view.
So as you sit down to write your To Do list out, trying putting those dreams close to the top. Making our dreams part of our day, not just part of dream time, is a great step towards making them come true.
have fun!
su

Stress by habit?

beach_sands_breakersp1013474
I just got back from a lovely vacation. It was one of those times when I really did feel the stress melt away. I could look in the mirror and see a difference on my face. Ahhhhh.
Then I came home. Granted arriving the day after a huge ice storm added to the contrast, but the next morning when I woke up in my own little be
d I realized I was tense. What was the source of the tension… well, that’s what I’m finding interesting. I couldn’t think what the stressor was. I wasn’t behind on projects or bills. I didn’t need to catch up on voicemail messages or email. No one really was expecting me to be back at work for another day. So why was the relaxing buzz from vacation gone?
I’m wondering if it was habit. Can being anxious or tense from life become a habit? Yes, I think it can. I’m seeing it in myself. And in the past week since returning from the sunny South, I’ve been exploring the idea with friends and clients. Do we carry stress partly just because we’re used to doing it? And if this is the case, what to do?
Well, sorry, I’m not the magic answer lady today. But I do have some ideas… of course 😉
First, there is power in awareness. Just exploring the source of your tension, whether you’re feeling it emotionally or if it’s muscle tension, can be enlightening. I tend to carry tension in my neck and shoulders. But if my muscles are tense when waking up after a restful night’s sleep? No, that’s not right. So I’m trying to explore awareness… and when I notice the tension, I allow myself to relax these muscles often. Before I go to sleep and first thing when I wake up, I allow the tension to release as much as I can. While I’m working, I’m exploring adding small stretching sessions (even just a few seconds of releasing tension) to see if I can retrain these muscles. I want my “normal” state to be the “ahhhh” feeling I had on vacation. I’m hopeful I can accomplish it. But am clear that it took a long time of carrying tension to create one habit, so I’m going to have to work awhile of making this more restful state a new habit.
Some sources of our tensions we may see as “part of life.” But allow me to challenge this idea if I may. Perhaps your source of stress is something that is real and on-going in your life. And likely, I’m guessing this stress is something that is out of your control? And according to a much loved saying, “…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If you are carrying tension in your body and mind due to circumstances that are beyond your control… I challenge you to begin to let those go too.
Greeting the day feeling relaxed and refreshed gives you an amazing boost. If I can begin my day feeling fully grounded and at peace, how much easier will it be to allow the bumps in the road to pass by without throwing my off balance? And how much will my “vacation” state of mind affect those around me. I love to think that peace is contagious and I think we all might agree that the world needs all the peace we can radiate.
As always… have fun!
su

Can we choose joy.

suniDSCN0219sm
I’m part of a small arts community in a small Midwest town. With the economic conditions in this country and especially in our area, making a living as an artist can be a bit challenging. But being part of a “community” brings strength and encouragement. This group has lifted me through my tough times.
In the past week, two important members of our community have
faced devastating challenges. One lost everything- home, studio and dear pets through a fire and another was forced to close his restaurant which is a favorite to many and has been supportive to our community as a whole. I’m sad.
I’m sad for their loss. their sadness and disappointment. I wish I had deep pockets and could do something significant financially to help. But at this point… I can’t.
But I’ve also noticed that I’m afraid. Their “hitting the wall” makes me see how close we all can be to finding ourselves in a situation where we might feel like we’re abandoning our dreams. And I wonder… how easily could that be me? Well, honestly, I don’t wonder. I know… it could very easily be me. Or so many others who are part of this small group.
And right there… I need to stop. I need to take a deep breath. And I need to remember that there IS something I can do.
I can not give in to the negative. I need to focus on the dream… my dream, their dreams, our dreams.
For those of you who know me… you know I believe that I’ve “dreamed” this life I lead now into existence. I believe that my thoughts are energy that have great power. My training and my experience has shown me that if I’m going to invest my energy into something, I need to invest it in the positive.
In this tough time, I encourage each of you to choose your thoughts carefully. Don’t spend time dwelling in the negative… those who are suffering right now don’t need more negative energy. Rather… spend your energy envisioning new beginnings for our friends. Imagine this dark time being a doorway to even a better situation. And don’t give into your own fears, if they come up. Give your own dreams this same positive energy. And when you talk with them, or see them… be encouraging. Oh… and huge hugs probably would help a lot too.
Take care of each other and…
have fun!
su
If you’d like to learn more about the concept of using your thoughts to make dreams come true, you might start where I started at http://www.tut.com. Mike Dooley is a teacher of this concept and a mentor of mine.