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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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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

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Image

 

Photo courtesy Ed Ogle

THE INVITATION

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s

longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream,

for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if

you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know

if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of

your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you

can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I

want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and

shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief

and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn’t interest me who you know

or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else

falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

 

Monday and Tuesday’s Exercise:  Sit quietly for five minutes each and meditate on the meaning of this beautiful poem

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LOVING YOUR DARKEST SELF

My willingness to be intimate with my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. – Shakti Gawain

 

Loving your boo boos.

Hating or fearing some part of yourself isn’t going to make it better.

 

I used to have a problem with overeating.  That all changed when I heard Paula, a woman I knew, confess to a group of people “I stand in front of the mirror every day and say I love myself.”  Really? I thought. How arrogant.

 

And then, I thought again. I hate myself. That can’t be good.  I’m always picking on myself. It’s like I keep tearing the skin off my heart in hopes that it will heal.  Maybe I have this all wrong.

 

That day I changed.  I experimented saying, “I love that part of me that is destructive and overeats.” I repeated this over and over again and almost always with my hand on my heart.  My breath opened up, colors got deeper, I could feel my skin again. I could put my toe in the water and not worry about it freezing off. And, of course, I lost all my excess weight.

 

Friday and Saturday’s Exercise:

Sit in a quiet place. Wait a few minutes, then, identify a quality you don’t like.  Next, take a deep breath and say (aloud or to yourself):

 

I love that part of me that [is cynical, critical, a bad artist, can’t write, isn’t diplomatic, fat, bad hair, no hair, impatient, lazy etc.). Put your hand over your heart as you say this and breathe deeply.

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Have you ever thought about meditating on a regular basis?  This article demonstrates how meditation combined with a focus on compassion can increase happiness as measured with brain gamma waves.

Click on link below:

http://india.nydailynews.com/newsarticle/7b470adb0a9b6c32e19e16a08df13f3d/buddhist-monk-is-the-worlds-happiest-man

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Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right. – Oprah Winfrey

1.  Make it fun, interesting, challenging and enjoyable.   For example if you want to begin a regular exercise routine, make it fun.  Learn to Belly Dance or  study a form of Martial Arts that interests you, or, volunteer to work on the National Park Trails, there many options beyond the gym (which is s a good choice as well).

2. Make it accessible and easy as possible.  Instead of planning to be the best spouse or parent, make a resolution to listen to others and speak kindly.

3.  Break it down into small parts.  Make a resolution to ask  your spouse or child about specific events in their life at least 4 times a week and commit to listening to their answers.  Take a course in communication skills.

4.  Create some form of accountability.  Make an agreement with a friend to communicate on a scheduled basis and discuss your progress (I have a friend that I do that with, we speak once a week about our success with our respective goals) or do this with a professional or find an on-line program like the Stephen Covey Community (I use this also).

5. Reward yourself in a healthy way.  If your goal is to lose weight, do NOT reward yourself with some high fat, sugary food.  Reward yourself instead with new clothes or an exercise training or class you have always wanted to do like skiing or a guided nature trip into the wilderness.  Everyone is different, find one that is affordable and truly rewarding

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In the darkness of our lives flower some of our most important values.  I know when I lost 6 close relatives and 2 friends over a period of 3 years, my inner values morphed into a whole new and wonderful rudder to steer my life.  Trivialities became trivialities, humor softened the blow of loss and helped cement closeness with those left behind.  My new and unquenchable thirst to be present and feel the breeze on my cheeks and the soil under my feet propelled me forward, to never look back.

Do you know what your inner values are?  If you do, can people around you know what they are by your actions?  When we make decisions based on our values, our step becomes lighter, our voice softer, our ears bigger and our heart is more open.  Take some time and write your  values.  Do it now, live life fully and be true to yourself.

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