Daily Om Thursday & My Musings

English: Oil painting, "Praying Hands&quo...

English: Oil painting, “Praying Hands” by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grateful: The World in a Bright Light

Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings.

There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.

When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure. Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings. Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness.  Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

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But how do we embrace gratitude in light of countless challenges, worries and concerns? Although I do not doubt that there are any number of ways to do so, I offer only a couple of ideas for you to consider. The first step on the path towards gratitude is the most difficult one; yet, once you’ve committed to it, embracing it becomes easier. Understand that at a basic level, these are not novel ideas, but I offer my take on them. Moreover, they are well-worth repeating–and remembering.

The first suggestion, deceptively simple, requires you to interrupt the negative thoughts coursing through your mind, and to slow down, body and mind. It does not matter where you are, but, for example, if you are a nature lover, it may behoove you to step out in nature. The idea is to place yourself in an environment that is most conducive to nudging you out of your head and into the current moment.

Once you are fully present, in an unhurried and curious way, take a look around you. What do you see that moves you from your head space into your heart space? Is it the sight of a deer darting behind that tree, a picture of a loved one, your favorite chair placed purposefully beside a perfectly sunlit window in which you read, your favorite cookbook reminding you of the exquisite meal that you enjoyed with family last Sunday, or a treasured briefcase passed down to you by your deeply loved father? These things touch your heart, not on a superficial level, but deep down where your most meaningful memories lay.

It is important to remember how much joy that they bring and how much gratitude you hold for them. You cannot feel the warmth of gratitude, while at the same time wallowing in negative thoughts and feelings. These experiences, or things, that cause you to forget your troubles are the source of gratitude.

My second suggestion asks you to choose a time of day, ideally, the first thing in the morning, or at night, when you are winding down. In preparation for this ritual, select a blank book that you love. (You may already have one lying around the house or you might schedule a special shopping trip to buy one that suits you. It needn’t be expensive or fancy, just one that you feel drawn to.) Gather your supplies: your favorite pen  and a cup of hot coffee, tea, or perhaps your beverage of choice is a glass of wine or ice-cold lemonade, and find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. All that matters is that you are comfortable and undisturbed.

Open the book to a blank page and date it. Think about the day before or behind you. It is easy to identify those “big,” easily recognizable moments that occur in your day or life. In this case, what you are searching for are those small, inauspicious moments that, at the time, went unnoticed. You can find them because they hold a special quality about them that cause you to stop, if only for a few seconds, and feel at peace with the world around you. It could be the taste of your favorite food at the very moment when you first bite into it, the way the sun light creates endless rainbows on your wall when it hits the prism hanging in your window, the anticipation of lunch with a good friend, the sound of your wind chimes as a gentle breeze caresses them, the open parking spot nearest the door of the grocery store, or finding the earring that you thought long-lost. These moments are just as significant and notable as the “big” ones.

Now, take your notebook and pen and begin listing 3-5 things or moments for which you are grateful. Don’t force it, let them softly settle in your consciousness. Feel the surge of warmth and contentment that overcomes your being. There, you’ve given birth to your “Gratitude Journal.” If you make it a daily ritual, you give yourself the permission to focus on the things for which you are grateful. The resulting gratitude serves to dull the negative affects of the challenging times in your life. Of course, doing so, is not a magic bullet that will cause these times to disappear, but it will surely make them seem less overwhelming and diminish their impact.

I hope that these ideas help you when it seems that there is little about which to feel grateful. On a personal note, I feel grateful for  each of you reading this post. Thank you.

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Daily Om Thursday

Hearing The Whisper:
Underneath The Noise

You may have noticed that if you want to speak to someone in a noisy, crowded room, the best thing to do is lean close and whisper. Yelling in an attempt to be louder than the room’s noise generally only hurts your throat and adds to the chaos. Similarly, that still, small voice within each of us does not try to compete with the mental chatter on the surface of our minds, nor does it attempt to overpower the volume of the raucous world outside. If we want to hear it, no matter what is going on around us or even inside us, we can always tune in to that soft voice underneath the surrounding noise.

It is generally true that the more insistent voices in our heads delivering messages that make us feel panicky or afraid are of questionable authority. They may be voices we internalized from childhood or from the culture, and as such they possess only half-truths. Their urgency stems from their disconnectedness from the center of our being, and their urgency is what catches our attention. The other voice that whispers reassurances that everything is fundamentally okay simply delivers its message with quiet confidence. Once we hear it, we know it speaks the truth. Generally, once we have heard what it has to say, a powerful sense of calm settles over our entire being, and the other voices and sounds, once so dominant, fade into the background, suddenly seeming small and far away.

We may find that our own communications in the world begin to be influenced by the quiet certainty of this voice. We may be less inclined to indulge in idle chatter as we become more interested in maintaining our connection to the whisper of truth that broadcasts its message like the sound of the wind shaking the leaves of a tree. As we align ourselves more with this quiet confidence, we become an extension of the whisper, penetrating the noise of the world and creating more peace, trust, and confidence. ~ Madisyn Taylor, Daily Om

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Listen. What do you hear? For many of us, it is a jumble of voices that clutter our minds. Be it at the office, walking down the street, at the shopping mall, the coffee shop, or even at home, there is a deluge of the odious cacophony of noises that overwhelm our senses. In my case, I grew up in a home where it was the norm to have multiple televisions, radios and loud conversations going on at the same time. I was a child who yearned for silence, but only knew chaos.

Even when we are alone, endless to-do lists bombard our heads, or, all to often, the drones of negative thoughts billowing their unsolicited advice and opinions. Although there are those who thrive in a loud, boisterous and frenetic environment, most of us can only absorb it in bits and pieces. After a time, we long for the quiet and stillness that is a diversion from the raucous, noisy life of the outside world. I believe that is why meditation attracts me. At its nature, it demands quiet and stillness. The practice forces you to seek  a space and time of solitude, and to ignore the constant chatter that relentlessly fills my head.

The thing is that at our core there is an infinite expanse of quiet, stillness and wisdom. As the article alludes to, those ‘whispers,’ speak quietly and carry a big stick, but they do not and will not seek to overcome the rancor of the unbridled mind. No, it is up to us to give it the environment in which it can share its abundant wisdom with us. In this hurry-hurry world, I realize that is easier said than done. Yet it is important, and by doing so, we bless ourselves with a most precious gift — that is, the ability to listen to the only voice that matters, our hearts.

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Thursday Thoughts From Daily Om

 

The Secret of Surrender: Seeing the Illusion

“Most of us were raised and live in a culture that emphasizes the ideals of independence and control. The general idea is that we are on our own and we don’t need any help from anyone else, and if we are really successful it’s because we are in complete control. However, true lasting success comes only with surrender, which is the opposite of control. We cannot accomplish anything truly great on our own, without any help, and the idea that we can is an illusion that causes most of us a great deal of suffering. Surrender comes when we see that illusion and let go of trying to attain the impossible. Surrender can then be seen as a great strength rather than a weakness.

Even small moments of surrender are powerful indicators of how different our lives could be if we would only let go. We’ve all had the experience of extending huge amounts of effort and energy to reach a particular goal only to realize that we can’t make it happen after all. At the moment of letting go, realizing that we need to ask for help or simply release our agenda entirely, a profound feeling of relief may rush over us. This warm, open sensation is the essence of surrender, and if we didn’t feel that we didn’t really let go. But it is never too late to let go, even of things in the past that didn’t work out the way we wanted them to, because surrender is always an option in every moment of our lives.

When we finally do surrender, our goals actually become possible, because the act of surrender is, in essence, asking for the help we need. This help may come in the form of other human beings or unseen helpers such as angels or inner guides. It may also come in the form of shifting circumstances, the small miracles that we call grace.”

~ Madisyn Taylor

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As today’s thought states, surrender is applicable to achieving goals or coming to terms with the past. In reality, it applies to most any aspect of our lives. Yet, surrender doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In most cases, surrender does not arrive as a “light-bulb” moment. It is a process that we go through to reach the final goal–that is, surrender.

The most difficult part of the process is that period before we finally realize that surrendering is more desirable than what has come before. Granted, it is easy to say and much harder to do. Along the way, there are many starts and stops, to overcome those negative thoughts and feelings, that hinder our acceptance that the old ideals do not hold true and that we cannot, and aren’t meant to, do it alone. The irony is that it is the letting go that enables us to realize the full extent of which we are capable. Although surrendering may feel like a loss of control, in actuality, when we choose to do so, it is the moment when we take maximum control over our lives and the path it will take.

One cannot be forced to surrender or let go. If you are anything like me, the more that one tries to force anything upon you, the greater the likelihood that you will rebel against it. It is only when we make the voluntary and conscious choice to welcome the help of God, the Universe, or whatever your higher power may be, that we truly actualize surrender and the power that comes with it. In that moment, our actions and feelings are solely our own, and we choose to accept the help that has been there for the asking. We are strongest when we summon all the forces within our power, that long to join us in realizing our goals and our best selves. We are strongest when we acknowledge the endless possibilities that arise from surrendering to the idea that we are truly not alone.

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