Daily Om Thursday + My Musings


Feeling Overwhelmed:
Breathing into Order

Always know, the Universe works in perfect order and you are never given more than you can handle. Sometimes we may feel like there is just too much we need to do. Feeling overwhelmed may make it seem like the universe is picking on us, but the opposite is true: we are only given what we can handle. Difficult situations are opportunities to be our best selves, hone our skills and rise to the occasion.

The best place to start is to take a deep breath. As you do, remind yourself that the universe works in perfect order and therefore you can get everything done that needs to get done. As you exhale, release all the details that you have no control over. The universe with it‘s infinite organizing power will orchestrate the right outcome. Anytime stress begins to creep up, remember to breathe through it with these thoughts.

Then, make a list of everything you need to do. Note what needs to be done first, and mark the things others may be able to do for you or with you. Though we often think no one else can do it correctly or well, there are times when it is worth it to exhale, let go of our control, and ask for help from professionals or friends. With the remaining things that feel you must do yourself, take another breath and determine their true importance. Sometimes they are things we’d like to do, but aren’t really necessary. After taking these quick steps, you will find you have a plan laid out, freeing you from frenzied thoughts circling in your head. With calming deep breaths, you are now free to focus more fully on our priorities. Herbal teas or flower remedies along with wise choices about caffeine and food can help keep us from becoming frantic too. But with nothing further from us than our breath, we can breathe in our best intentions and let the rest go with an exhale. Keeping ourselves centered and breathing into and through life’s challenges helps us learn what we are truly capable of doing, and we will find we have the ability to rise to any occasion. Remember you aren’t being picked on, and you are never alone. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

Who hasn’t been there? At first, the mental  “to do” list is manageable. Each day, you go to bed, satisfied with your accomplishments.

Then, out of the blue, a co-worker’s unanticipated absence leaves her work unceremoniously dumped in your lap. Of course, you are still expected to meet your own job duties. Next, at the last minute, your child’s teacher begs you to bake six dozen of your legendary chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale — the next day. On your way to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients for those cookies, your car begins to make that sound, which you’ve ignored for weeks, Before you know it, you are stopped on the side of a busy freeway, in the middle of Summer. You wait, impatiently, for the wrecker service to arrive to tow your car to the repair shop, that is already closed for the day. Out of sheer frustration and helplessness, you think “Why me?,”  and lay your head on the steering wheel, fretting about your predicament. Overwhelmed, is a gross understatement.

Inevitably, most of us are faced with circumstances that bring us to the end of our rope. The best defense lies in being proactive, and preparing a plan to deal with these situations, before you need them. Of course, there are numerous ways to deal with stress that has engulfed us. The problem is that it is difficult to think clearly amid such circumstances; so, a contingency plan is advised.

It begins with putting together a “toolbox” of sorts, that will help you through these trying times. The idea is that it serves to reduce the inevitable physical, mental and emotional stress that goes hand-in-hand with those situations that overwhelm us. No two toolboxes are the same. The contents of your toolbox is subjective and is sure to differ from mine. To make it easy, you might ask yourself one or both of the following questions: “What brings me happiness? and/or What can I place in this box that, in the past, has relieved my stress level? The answers to the questions should provide some measure of comfort and relaxation, while reducing the stress caused by feeling overwhelmed.

With that said, your toolbox might include a favorite CD that soothes your soul or nudges you to get up and dance, a  favorite DVD, especially a comedy (My go-to CD is “My Cousin Vinnie.”), a book that, although you’ve read it scores of times, opening it makes you feel like the first, sitting in meditation, a DVD of your yoga session, a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe, snuggling with your loved ones or furry friends, a pick-up basketball game, a walk or hike in the park, praying, or laughing with friends. As you see, I could go on, but you get the picture. The idea is any activity that is sure to allow you to forget your worries for a while, so that you return feeling refreshed and prepared to tackle life, as is.

You get to choose what works for you. In fact, the very act of doing so, allows you to regain control over the seemingly uncontrollable. Also, choosing what belongs in your toolbox is the ultimate form of self-care. It will be readily at your disposal when the “overwhelm” gremlin drops by. What do they say in football? The best offense is a good defense. Your toolbox gives you the upper hand.


Daily Om Thursday With My Take

concrete stairs

concrete stairs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 Steps to Making Change Easier: Smoothing Transitions

1. Begin by making small changes or break up large-scale changes into more manageable increments. This can make you feel better about handling the changes you are about to make while making you more comfortable with change in general.

2. Mentally link changes to established daily rituals. This can make changes like taking on a new habit, starting a new job, or adapting to a new home happen much more smoothly. For example, if you want to begin meditating at home, try weaving it into your morning routine.

3. Going with the flow can help you accept change instead of resisting it. If you stay flexible, you will be able to ride out change without too much turbulence.

4. When a change feels most stressful, relief can often be found in finding the good that it brings. An illness, a financial loss, or a broken relationship can seem like the end of the world, yet they also can be blessings in disguise.

5. Remember that all change involves a degree of learning. If you find change particularly stressful, try to keep in mind that after this period of transformation has passed, you will be a wiser person for it.

6. Remember that upheaval and confusion are often natural parts of change. While we can anticipate certain elements that a change might bring, it is impossible to know everything that will happen in advance. Be prepared for unexpected surprises, and the winds of change won’t easily knock you over.

7. Don’t feel like you have to cope with changing circumstances or the stress of making a change on your own. Talk about what’s going on for you with a friend or write about it in a journal. Sharing your feelings can give you a sense of relief while helping you find the strength to carry on.

8. Give yourself time to accept any changes that you face. And as change happens, recognize that you may need time to adjust to your new situation. Allow yourself a period of time to reconcile your feelings. This can make big changes feel less extreme.

9. No matter how large or difficult a change is, you will eventually adapt to these new circumstances. Remember that regardless of how great the change, all the new that it brings will eventually weave itself into the right places in your life.

10. If you’re trying to change a pattern of behavior or navigate your way through a life change, don’t assume that it has to be easy. Wanting to cry or being moody during a period of change is natural. Then again, don’t assume that making a change needs to be hard. Sometimes, changes are meant to be that easy. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om


One of my favorite books is “The Way of Transition” by William Bridges. The book is about change, actually the process leading to change. The book opens with: “It’s a paradox: To achieve continuity, we have to be willing to change. Change is, in fact, the only way to protect whatever exists, for without continuous readjustment the present cannot continue.” Thus, change is a necessity, for without it, we stagnant, fail to move forward, and remain mired in the past. It has been a constant in our lives since the day we were born. Yet, at times it seems an insurmountable obstacle. Ironically, in the face of change,

“[t]he very things we now wish that we could hold onto and keep safe from change were themselves originally produced by changes. And many of those changes, in their day, looked just as daunting as any in the present do..No matter how solid and comfortable and necessary the status quo feels today. It was once new, untried and uncomfortable. Change is not only the path ahead but it is also the path behind us, the one which we traveled along to wherever we are now trying to stay.” ~ William Bridges, The Way of Transition

The “transition” that Bridges refers to in the book’s title, is the process that we undergo to create real change. “Transition” involves three stages: letting go of the old (past), the “neutral zone,” where we’ve let go of the past but haven’t fully embraced the new (present), and finally, beginning a new life. At its essence, this is the very nature of change.

Generally, we are oblivious to the constant change that occurs around and in us. Such changes create little to no resistance. It is the major events in life that turns the spotlight on change. For example, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce, or a major illness. Of course, change is not limited to losses. Surprisingly. resistance to change is just as frequent in response to situations where one would presumably be happy, such as the birth of a child, securing a dream job, or achieving a long fought-for goal. In all of these instances, we must transition from the person that we are, to the person that awaits us.. As Bridges notes:

“We resist transition not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up when and because the situation has changed.”

It is that piece of ourselves that cloaks us in comfort and certainty, and it is little wonder that we resist the letting go.

At some point in your life, you will undoubtedly find yourself in conflict about a new situation. Acknowledging that conflict and recognizing it for what it is, forms the most important step. Like grief, change is a process that we must face before we find ourselves in a state of acceptance, and ready to move on to a new life. The time of transition leading to acceptance is fluid, and there is no set time frame between the letting go of the old life and embracing the new one. The most important step is to accept that an ending is a prerequisite to any beginning. With that fact in mind, we can begin the journey towards the life that awaits us.


Daily Om Thursday 

Control: Letting The Curves Take You

Trying to maintain control in this life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.

As with so many seemingly simple things in life, it is not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can’t control. Most of us feel a great discomfort with the givens of this life, one of which is the fact that much of the time we have no control over what happens. Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact, and all our attempts to be in control are revealed to be unnecessary burdens. We can also cultivate this awareness in ourselves gently, by simply making surrender a daily practice. At the end of our meditation, we might bow, saying, “I surrender to this life.” This simple mantra can be repeated as necessary throughout the day, when we find ourselves metaphorically gripping the safety bar.

We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this great mystery with courage. When we see people on a roller coaster, we see that there are those with their faces tight with fear and then there are those that smile broadly, with their hands in the air, carried through the ride on a wave of freedom and joy. This powerful image reminds us that often the only control we have is choosing how we are going to respond to the ride. ~Madyson Taylor, Daily Om


From the moment we wake up, we are faced with choices. Some, like whether to brush our teeth or what’s for breakfast, are no-brainers, and, for most of us, do not arouse any fear or anxiety. One after another, we choose between options without raising the specter of control. Wouldn’t it be a joy if all of life choices were so easy?

Inevitably, a choice arises that may be a life changer. Be it, whether to end a long-term relationship that you’ve outgrown, or to leave a job that you abhor, to begin that career you’ve always dreamed of, the choice renders us unable to decide. Often fear of the unknown is the impediment, and we are under the mistaken belief that our task is to make the better of the two choices. In other words, we are trying to control the outcome. Unfortunately, in many cases, either choice has its risks and benefits and the unknown is the governing factor. No amount of lists or mind mapping is going to change those facts. 

Trying to maintain control is like trying to grasp the wind in our hands. It is a futile effort that is only likely to bring unwanted frustration, suffering and pain. Our innate nature is to go with the flow, surrendering to what will be. Even a small child, tries to wrestle away when their parents try to exercise control over them. As we grow older, life fools us into thinking that we have control, until the unexpected happens and we are hit with the realization that our sense of control was only illusory.

We are not subjects in a scientific experiment in which each facet of our lives is a controlled factor. In reality, our lives, our choices are unbound mysteries that cannot be harnessed. In spite of our attempts to plan for any eventuality, life will most certainly remind us that at its core, it is uncertain and filled with surprise. What are we to do?

The other option is to surrender. It is a word that goes against our need for control. It requires letting go of our need for certainty, and to embrace vulnerability. Opening ourselves to the state of being vulnerable takes courage, because it removes any illusion of control. Instead, we grow to let go of the “need to know,” in favor of allowing life to unfold before us, with all of its magic and unforeseen opportunities. With this said, there are instances when the choice may require thought, planning and deliberation, yet, the outcome is the same — unknown. Risk permeates all of our choices, and acknowledging those risks, makes life that much easier to accept.

So, when faced with a difficult choice, do your homework, and instead of following your thinking mind, listen to your heart. Undoubtedly, the unknown is scary, but in spite of the ever-present risks, knowing that you made a choice that aligns with your highest, true self, brings a sense of relief, and whatever the outcome, you have the strength to face it.


Daily Om Thursday


We Are All Connected:
Intertwined Fates

There are times when we may feel disconnected from the world. Our actions can seem like they are of no major consequence, and we may feel like we exist in our own vacuum. Yet, the truth is that our simplest thought or action – the decisions we make each day, and how we see and relate to the world – can be incredibly significant and have a profound impact on the lives of those around us, as well as the world at large. The earth and everything on it is bound by an invisible connection between people, animals, plants, the air, the water, and the soil. Insignificant actions on your part, whether positive or negative, can have an impact on people and the environment that seem entirely separate from your personal realm of existence. Staying conscious of the interconnection between all things can help you think of your choices and your life in terms of the broader effect you may be creating.

Think of buying a wooden stool. The wood was once part of a tree which is part of a forest. A person was paid to fell the tree, another to cut the wood, and yet another to build the stool. Their income may have had a positive effect on their families, just as the loss of the tree may have had a negative impact on the forest or the animals that made that tree their home. An encouraging word to a young child about their special talent can influence this person to develop their gift so that one day their inventions can change the lives of millions. A poem written “merely” to express oneself can make a stranger reading it online from thousands of miles away feel less alone because there is someone else out there who feels exactly the way they do.

Staying conscious of your connection to all things can help you think of your choices in terms of their impact. We are powerful enough that what we do and say can reverberate through the lives of people we may never meet. Understanding that you are intimately connected with all things and understanding your power to affect our world can be the first step on the road to living more consciously. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om


This Daily Om article deals with our connection, or interconnectedness. It is something that we take for granted, and in many instances, we give little thought to as we go about our busy lives. Often, we are unaware of the impact of even a simple gesture. As an example, walking down the street, at a short distance, you see an average, harried-looking woman coming your way. She has a child on either side. It is obvious that she is in a hurry, and in an angry tone, snaps at the children to hurry along. As she passes you, you make eye contact with her, and say “hello” and wish her a good day. Without giving it a seconds thought, you go on about your way.

What you don’t realize is that this woman is in an abusive relationship and she is late for work because she forgot to iron her husband’s shirt last night. Just an hour ago, he slapped her and forced her to do it, or else. Your seemingly insignificant contact put a smile on the face of this woman, who endures a job that she hates, an abusive spouse and the rigors of caring for two small children. Just for a minute, your small gesture reminds her that kindness still exists in the world. She loosens the grip on her children’s arms, and stops to reach down to give each a quick hug. With that done, she gently grasps their hands and hurries to drop them at school, before she heads to work. You’ve unwittingly made a connection, that, if only for a little while, positively affected another’s life.

As humans, we thrive on connections; that is, healthy and positive connections. They are integral to our self-worth and feeling of “belonging.” Positive connections sustain us through good times and bad, and reminds us that we are not alone.

Modern culture applauds those people who seemingly “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps,” only to become a huge success. However laudable that may be, it is the rare case where these feats are accomplished without the help of others, without a connection to others. Although the saying originally referred to raising children, “it takes a village,” is a truism in that, in most instances, we do not and can not go through life without help from others. If truth be told, we are where we are because of the support or assistance, be it negative or positive, of one or more people.

Moreover, we must remember that we do not live or act in a vacuum and our actions may be far-reaching. It is rare that our actions do not affect someone, even, as the Daily Om article notes, in the purchase of a wooden stool. Such a mundane act, is emblematic of connection at work. Whereas positive connections have a positive effect, negative connections or the absence of connections have a detrimental impact on the psyche.

For instance, bullying is a big problem in our schools. Although some view it as “kids being kids,” that belittles the act. The problem is so endemic that the government has weighed in on the topic. Bullying is a form of physical, mental and emotional abuse that leaves the helpless victim ostracized and suffering from, as noted by the website “Stop Bullying,” lower grades in school, alienation, a host of health problems, including depression and in some cases, even resorting to violent measures. Bullying is a negative connection that yields negative results.

Then, we have loners who remain largely isolated from those around them. As referenced here, studies clearly show that such people experience more physical, emotional and mental health problems. Yet, the same article points to recent studies showing that social isolation can even lead to early death. In other instances, as stated by this Psychology Today article, “babies who are not held and nuzzled and hugged enough will literally stop growing and-if the situation lasts long enough, even if they are receiving proper nutrition-die.”  Such is the power of connection.

Connection is life-affirming, life-giving and life-enhancing. Each of us is, at our core, connected to others by invisible bonds that infuse our lives with love, empathy and compassion. They cause one to say, “But for the grace of God go I,” when confronted with the sorrow, pain and anguish of another, for we realize that we are no different, and that we could easily stand in their shoes. The word “connection” is defined as “a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else,” in this case, with someone else.

As this Maya Angelou poem so eloquently expresses, we are not so different, you and I.

Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike. ~ Maya Angelou