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For the next two days, pick one or two of your favorite mindfulness tips:

Self Love and Approval

Loving Your Darkest Self

Empathy

Self-Truth

Peace over Power

Loving Community

The Invitation

Accepting People As They Are

Have a Sense of Humor

Your Mind Matters

Just Listen

Drop the Blame

Everything Changes

Sit each day for five minutes and reflect on those tips.  Were you able to incorporate them into you life? What were your challenges.

This ends the mindful love series.  Thank you for visiting Sally’s Healthy Living blog and look for more healthy living  posts coming up soon!

“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”

― Thích Nhất HạnhGoing Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers

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Photo Courtesy Ed Ogle

Everything changes.

Between my 31st and 34th year, my grandmother, father, sister, two uncles, aunt, landlady and her daughter (both good friends) died.  My father and sister were the closest people to me at that time in my life.

I mourned and remembered my pain was impermanent.   For over a year, I meditated one and half hours every day, turned off all sources of media, went to graduate school and let go of relationships that weren’t serving me.

I landed on my feet with a new diploma, a new and more exciting career, new boyfriend and a profound respect for the fragility of life.

Change is also subtle. Look at a picture of yourself fifteen years ago.  You look different today yet, on a daily basis, you can’t see the subtle changes happening in your body.

Look at your relationships with your siblings, spouses, and children.  They change constantly and subtly.

A friend is upset about a conflict they are having with their significant other.  We talk about it.

A week later I call them to make sure they are OK and ask “How is everything?”

They respond “Great!”

Frequently, they can’t even remember why they were upset when we talked a week ago.

Everything changes.

Mindful Love Exercise Saturday and Sunday Sit for five minutes each day.  What happened over the last twenty four hours that made you uncomfortable?  How long did that feeling of discomfort last? If it feels like a vice on your brain or like a magnet with iron, release it. Let it go.  All feelings are transient.

 

 

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When you blame others, you give up your power to change.

Robert Anthony

 Mindful Love Thursday and Friday – Stop the blame

Yesterday morning, Ed and I left for long a long hike, 8.8 miles 2,300 foot elevation gain. When we got to the base of the mountain, realized I forgot my inhaler (I have mild asthma).  I wasn’t about to turn back.

I learned a long time ago, one way to control my asthma is to go deep inside and calm myself down.  I donned my head set, played some soothing music, and started my descent into my mind as I ascended up the mountain. With each step, I slowed my thoughts down, took deep breaths and listened.  This is what I heard.

“Why didn’t Ed help more this morning, I wouldn’t have forgotten my inhaler…we had to rush to get out of the house that is why I forgot my inhaler…If only Ed would…I wouldn’t have forgotten my inhaler”

I was mortified at the cacophony of my background thoughts. Unless I had an agreement with Ed, I was the one responsible for putting my inhaler in my pack, not him.

If I was preoccupied with blame, I would have missed the beautiful views in the photo above!

Blaming others starts first in our subconscious thoughts, by the time it blurts out of our mouths; it usually has been brewing in our minds for a while.

But what about when horrible things just happen?

In the early 1980s, I worked at Children’s Hospital in Boston doing some of the first pediatric bone marrow transplants in the world.  Our patients came to us as a last resort. All their other treatments failed.

During the three-month transplant process, our patients lived in completely sterile, eight foot by six foot rooms,  We gave them medications that made them vomit and chemotherapy that gave them additional, debilitating side effects. Anyone entering their room had to wear sterile gloves, gowns and masks. It was just about the most challenging circumstance a parent could face.  Eighty percent of our patients died.

One time, two teenagers were getting bone marrow transplants at the same time. Each had one sibling and came from the same socio-economic background with similar spiritual beliefs.

Family A fought constantly, blaming each other for trivial things, angry when things didn’t go their way.

Family B focused on making things tolerable and fun for their lovely teenage daughter.  The recreational therapist taught her to create images that relaxed her body and mind. They did not blame themselves or others for their daughter’s illness and discomfort. The medical staff did not expect her to live more than three months.

Thirty one years later, she is alive, married and has three children.  She still uses those images today to help her navigate through difficult times.

While no one can say creating positive images, dropping blame and providing a loving healing environment cured this patient, I am sure it helped everyone involved find peace and clarity in this difficult situation.

Train yourself to drop all blame.

Mindful Love Exercise Thursday and Friday

Sit for five minutes each day.  Listen to your subtle, inner dialogue.  When are you blaming things or people in your environment for your unhappiness?  Can you stop blaming? Imagine what it would be like to have more control over your feeling of peace and contentment in life.

 

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“Being heard
is so close to being loved
that for the average person,
they are almost indistinguishable.”
― David Augsburger

“I never miss a good chance to shut up”
― James PattersonAlong Came a Spider

I am lucky, I live with a man who is an exceptional listener.  Really.  I knew this the first day I met him over ten years ago.  When he listens, I feel heard; I feel like I matter, I feel like I am with someone who cares.

I learned about the power of listening years ago when I took a communications course.  We learned how to “actively listen.”  That is, ask someone open-ended questions, shut your mouth and listen to and acknowledge their response without jumping in and giving your opinion.

I practiced  “active listening” on my boyfriend at that time. Later, I fell asleep on his couch. I woke up and he was standing over me, staring.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“What are you doing? You’re different, I like it.” He responded.

A few days later, he said,   “Maybe we should get married.”

While we never married, it was a very powerful lesson.  Listen, listen, and listen.

Don’t be like someone I know who, almost every time I see her, doesn’t even say hello but starts telling me all about her problems. I do not think she has ever even said “How are you Sally?”  This is not a judgment, believe me, I have been guilty of dumping my woes on others many times.

Listening is a labor of love. Listen to others and get out of your own head. It’s like taking a vacation from yourself.

MINDFUL LOVE EXERCISE TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY

Sit quietly for five minutes each day.  Review the past twenty-four hours.  Did you listen or were your compelled to talk about yourself?  Over the next two days, pick out one person and practice active listening.

 

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Have you ever noticed how easy it is to have better manners in public than at home or around the people we love?  We pick our friends and significant others, in part, because we can relax and be ourselves around them.What a great thing it is to relax and blossom around those who accept us but remember to sustain those relationships with basic good manners.  This article says it well.

http://rismedia.com/2012-04-17/polishing-your-manners-can-improve-relationships/

Mindful Love Exercises Sunday and Monday

Sit quietly for five minutes each day and review your relationship manners.  Do you interrupt? Ask inappropriate questions?  Forget to say thank you? Good manners are a simple way to contribute to healthy relationships and love.

Have a wonderful and happy day.

Courtesy Ed Ogle

Courtesy Ed Ogle

HUMOR

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.

Elbert Hubbard

Everybody has a unique sense of humor.Like most couples, my significant other and I have our share of tense moments.  He is ten inches taller than  me.  When power struggles get too serious, I get on a stool and stand above him with my hands on my hips and declare “I am the queen!”  Of course, that makes him the king and makes us both laugh and not take anything too seriously. Anything you can do to add gentle fun, playfulness and humor to a situation opens the door to love.

Humor and playfulness can be the ejection seat from relationship conflict and power struggles. It helps:

  • Form a stronger bond to each other. Your health and happiness depend, to a large degree, on the quality of your relationships—and laughter binds people together.
  • Smooth over differences. Using gentle humor often helps you address even the most sensitive relationship issues, such as sex or in-laws.
  • Diffuse tension. A well-timed joke can ease a tense situation and help you resolve disagreements.
  • Overcome problems and setbacks. A sense of humor is the key to resilience. It helps you take hardships in stride, weather disappointment, and bounce back from adversity and loss.
  • Put things into perspective. Most situations are not as bleak as they appear to be when looked at from a playful and humorous point of view. Humor can help you reframe problems that might otherwise seem overwhelming and damage a relationship.
  • Be more creative. Humor and playfulness can loosen you up, energize your thinking, and inspire creative problem solving for any relationship issue.
  • Interrupt the power struggle, instantly easing tension and allowing you to reconnect and regain perspective.
  • Be more spontaneous. Shared laughter and play helps you break free from rigid ways of thinking and behaving, allowing you to see the problem in a new way and find a creative solution.
  • Be less defensive. In playful settings, we hear things differently and can tolerate learning things about ourselves that we otherwise might find unpleasant or even painful.
  • Let go of inhibitions. Laughter opens us up, freeing us to express what we truly feel and allowing our deep, genuine emotions to rise to the surface.1.

Be sensitive with your humor:

  • Do you feel calm, clear-headed, and connected to the other person?
  • Is your true intent to communicate positive feelings—or are you taking a dig, expressing anger, or laughing at the other person’s expense?
  • Are you sure that the joke will be understood and appreciated?
  • Are you aware of the emotional tone of the nonverbal messages you are sending? Are you giving off positive, warm signals or a negative or hostile tone?
  • Are you sensitive to the nonverbal signals the other person is sending? Do they seem open and receptive to your humor, or closed-off and offended?
  • Are you willing and able to back off if the other person responds negatively to the joke?
  • If you say or do something that offends, is it easy for you to immediately apologize?2

Here are some GREAT tips from Reader’s Digest. Try on tip today and tomorrow.

  • First, regain your smile. A smile and a laugh aren’t the same thing, but they do live in the same neighborhood. Be sure to smile at simple pleasures — the sight of kids playing, a loved one or friend approaching, the successful completion of a task, the witnessing of something amazing or humorous. Smiles indicate that stress and the weight of the world haven’t overcome you. If your day isn’t marked by at least a few dozen, then you need to explore whether you are depressed or overly stressed.
  • Treat yourself to a comedy festival. Rent movies like Meet the Parents; Young Frankenstein; Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure; Monty Python and the Holy Grail; This Is Spinal Tap; Animal House; Blazing Saddles; Trading Places; Finding Nemo. Reward yourself frequently with the gift of laughter, Hollywood style.
  • Recall several of the most embarrassing moments in your life. Then find the humor in them. Now practice telling stories describing them in a humorous way. It might take a little exaggeration or dramatization, but that’s what good storytelling is all about. By revealing your vulnerable moments and being self-deprecating, you open yourself up much more to the humorous aspects of life.
  • Anytime something annoying and frustrating occurs, turn it on its head and find the humor. Sure, you can be angry at getting splashed with mud, stepping in dog poop, or inadvertently throwing a red towel in with the white laundry. In fact, that is probably the most normal response. But it doesn’t accomplish anything other than to put you in a sour mood. Better to find a way to laugh at life’s little annoyances. One way to do that: Think about it as if it happened to someone else, someone you like — or maybe someone you don’t. In fact, keep running through the Rolodex in your head until you find the best person you can think of to put in your current predicament. Laugh at him, then laugh at yourself!
  • Read the comics every day and cut out the ones that remind you of your life. Post them on a bulletin board or the refrigerator or anywhere else you can see them frequently.
  • Sort through family photographs and write funny captions or one-liners to go with your favorites. When you need a pick-me-up, pull out the album.
  • Every night at dinner, make family members share one funny or even embarrassing moment of their day.
  • When a person offends you or makes you angry, respond with humor rather than hostility. For instance, if someone is always late, say, “Well, I’m glad you’re not running an airline.” Life is too short to turn every personal affront into a battle. However, if you are constantly offended by someone in particular, yes, take it seriously and take appropriate action. But for occasional troubles, or if nothing you do can change the person or situation, take the humor response.
  • Check out the Top 10 list archive from David Letterman. You can find it at cbs.com.
  • Spend 15 minutes a day having a giggling session. Here’s how you do it: You and another person (partner, kid, friend, etc.) lie on the floor with your head on her stomach, and her head on another person’s stomach and so on (the more people the better). The first person says, “Ha.” The next person says, “Ha-ha.” The third person says, “Ha-ha-ha.” And so on. We guarantee you’ll be laughing in no time.
  • Read the activity listings page in the newspaper and choose some laugh-inducing events to attend. It could be the circus, a movie, a stand-up comic, or a funny play. Sometimes it takes a professional to get you to regain your sense of humor.
  • Add an item to your daily to-do list: Find something humorous. Don’t mark it off until you do it, suggests Jeanne Robertson, a humor expert and author of several books on the topic.
  • When you run into friends or coworkers, ask them to tell you one funny thing that has happened to them in the past couple of weeks. Become known as a person who wants to hear humorous true stories as opposed to an individual who prefers to hear gossip, suggests Robertson.
  • Find a humor buddy. This is someone you can call just to tell him something funny; someone who will also call you with funny stories of things he’s seen or experienced, says Robertson.
  • Download the free Jokes & Funny True Stories iPhone app.
  • Exaggerate and overstate problems. Making the situation bigger than life can help us to regain a humorous perspective, says Patty Wooten, R.N., an award-winning humorist and author of Compassionate Laughter: Jest for the Health of It. Cartoon caricatures, slapstick comedy, and clowning articles are all based on exaggeration, she notes.
  • Develop a silly routine to break a dark mood. It could be something as silly as speaking with a Swedish accent (unless you are Swedish, of course).
  • Create a humor environment. Have a ha-ha bulletin board where you only post funny sayings or signs, suggests Allen Klein, an award-winning professional speaker and author of The Healing Power of Humor. His favorite funny sign: “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”
  • Experiment with jokes. Learn one simple joke each week and spread it around. One of Klein’s favorites relates to his baldness: “What do you call a line of rabbits walking backward? A receding hare line.”
  • Focus humor on yourself. “Because of my lack of hair,” Klein says, “I tell people that I’m a former expert on how to cure baldness.”3

Friday and Saturday’s exercises:

Implement one tip from above each day. Write down your humor success just before you go to bed.

1,2. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq7_playful_communication.htm

3,http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/19-ways-to-enhance-your-sense-of-humor/#ixzz33nk6LTh4

 

Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others – Jacob M. Braud

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Photo Courtesy Ed Ogle

Accepting people as they are or loving what is

I don’t know a person that doesn’t have some “annoying” habit, do you?  Some of my pet peeves people who talk about themselves constantly and never show interest in others, sarcasm, and chronic tardiness. I am sure you have your own list.

So then, what is unconditional love? It’s about not trying to change people and its not about letting people walk all over you.  When someone has an annoying habit, you have a few choices a) throw a tantrum and try to change them. Well good luck with that, when was the last time you changed a habit just because it annoyed someone else? b) Ignore them and remain annoyed. c) Change your response to the situation.  You guessed it the best answer is c.

 

My friend Mary used to be at least 45 minutes late every time we met.  She is a great person with this annoying habit.  Finally one day, I decided I had enough.  I waited 20 minutes for her and then I left.  This was before cell phones. She called me that evening and asked what happened.  I simply said, “Mary, I waited 20 minutes, I had other things to do so I left.” She was never late again and we are still good friends.  I didn’t try to change her and I didn’t put up with her tardiness, I simply took care of myself.

 

Wednesday and Thursday’s exercise:

Sit quietly for five minutes. Remember to breathe deeply. Identify two habits in someone else that you find annoying.  Look at how you respond to these habits.  What are you thinking?  What is your reaction?  Come up with a totally different response and try it out. Have courage.  Changing our behavior means taking a risk.  Sometimes we have to be uncomfortable to gain comfort.

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