Home2020-06-02T00:41:40+00:00

Minding Our Minds

 

I write this post to talk with you about how I am trying to deal with our world today. My hope is that, upon reading about my sometimes successful efforts, you will feel free to share with all of us whatever vehicles you are using to do the same. We are all in this together!

Conversations with Self

“When we restore peace within ourselves, we have a chance to restore peace in others”.  Thich Nhat Hanh, beloved Vietnamese Buddhist monk

I’ve been thinking a lot about these words lately. Thich Nhat Hanh has been part of my mindfulness journey for some time but I find myself seeking out his wisdom now more than ever as the confluence of events this year has plunged me deeper into this pursuit. External events – this pandemic, the forced isolation, the fears and sufferings of so many, the insecurities and uncertainties…all make my quest for inner peace so very difficult. But, ironically,

The quote above has been haunting me. How can I be an instrument of peace for others in our world if, deep within myself, there is unrest?  So I breathe, burrow deep, focus, try to let go. I listen to my life.

For now introversion is working in my favor. The limits on social interaction demanded by the pandemic aren’t as difficult for me as they may be for others. Solitude energizes me, as I talk myself into that quiet space, dispelling at least some of the ‘noise’ that wants to dominate my thinking. I remember reading a quote from Jane Austen where she says that the best companions of one of her characters were that person’s own thoughts and reflections!  Is that me? Maybe. Listennig to my own self  pondering really works…sometimes. Sometimes I emerge from the meditative silence with a modicum of peace restored. But sometimes, not so much. Distractions win out and I need something more.

It is then that I find have to give my heady thoughts a “voice” – outside my head. I turn to my journal to “talk” things through – with myself. When I’m worried, hopeful, grateful…I write. Journalling is a powerful mindfulness tool for me. Along with being an introvert, I am a visual learner – I digest information best when it is there in front of me…writing my thoughts brings them to life. Sometimes these penned conversations take the form of a prayer with my God; sometimes I “talk” with my family or with a friend. But mostly it’s me talking with myself. Sometimes the conversations go on forever. No matter the length, the participants or the issue, they are always truly spiritually rewarding and when I am ready to close my journal – every single time –  I am in a calmer and more settled frame of mind.

Yes, these conversations help restore peace within myself.

I can’t end without mentioning all the other, less sane, less mindful instances of me conversing with myself. When I say things like “where did I leave my keys?”, or “why did I open this closet?”, I sometimes wonder if an intervention is in my future.

But, craziness aside, all this talking to myself has become a huge part of my mindfulness journey. Without my realizing it, self-talk is now a very valuable life skill tool for me. It’s healthy and helpful paying close attention to my inner voice.

My hope is that I will eventually get the chance, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, to restore peace to others in my world.

Finally, I know that as I write each post, I am revealing more and more about myself, drawing me way out of my comfort zone.  This reality, in itself, is not as hard as I thought it would be and has become a huge part of my mindfulness journey!  I hope you, too, will feel comfortable sharing yourself with the rest of our community here at Minding Our Lives. Honestly, my friends, it can be liberating!

 

 

 

September 18th, 2020|Minding Our Minds|2 Comments

Minding Our Spirits

 

Just look at that beautiful face in the picture above.  Doesn’t it make you smile…give you pause… ? Doesn’t she remind you of someone you know…or someone you would like to know?  Now, if you will, keep her face in your mind as you read the selection below.

 

Myself Growing Older

                                                                by Marsie Silvestro

Here I am becoming clear

Standing strong, from my years.

I am woman growing older

Finding life in myself

Finding truth in myself

Being free.

See the lines around my eyes,

Stories lived, tears I’ve cried

I am woman growing older

Finding beauty in myself

Finding strength in myself

Being strong.

I have loved, hurt, and healed

Found my dreams keep me real

I am woman growing older.

Finding peace in myself

Finding love in myself.

Growing old

I am clear, I am free.

I am growing strong

Here I am…I am here.

Can’t you just imagine her saying these words? I can and this makes me so happy, so proud. Why? Because she is so familiar to me. She is my sisters, my sister-in-law, my cousins, my friends.  These words are their words. I hear them spoken whenever we are together. And I see this woman’s face whenever I look into theirs.

It was pure happenstance that I came upon these words last week. Desperate for inspiration, I was combing through my old journals. And here was this single, unattached piece of notepaper bearing, in my handwriting, the words of this song.  They were the basis for what I entered into my journal on that Tuesday, January 30th, 1990. They made me think of my Mom, who had died 10 years prior at the much too young age of 62. I wrote with sadness that day, not only for my loss, but mostly for my Mom who never reached the point in her life where she would have been able to feel what Ms. Silvestro was feeling when she penned these words.  My Mom was never able to experience the blessings of growing older, stronger, freer. I was then, and still am, so sorry for this. I feel the sadness even more so now that I understand even more fully what it is she missed.

I am finding great peace and strength in aging. I understand myself so much better than I did as a younger woman. The years have gifted me with more understanding, deeper compassion and an innate empathy. I feel things much more intensely than ever before. Laughter  and tears are unconstrained…spontaneous. Importantly, I have been able to let go. All these shifts I truly value and embrace.. I am so thankful for all the years past, and even in the midst of today’s unrest, I am holding firmly to hope for our future.

I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of so many of us. Witness our relationships and listen to our conversations. They are replete with immense positive energies that can only stem from the experience of years. We are reaping the benefits that a long life offers. So, I believe we each can echo the words…

I am growing strong

Here I am…I am here!

 

September 4th, 2020|Minding Our Spirits|0 Comments

Minding Our Spirits

 

Feeling  Heart-  “Soul-broken”

 

I’m feeling a bit “off” these days. Like something is not the way it should be. Frightened? Frustrated? This disquiet isn’t physical. It’s not painful in the literal sense. But it is uncomfortable. It’s coming from deep within…my “soul”  is quietly asking for attention.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how “heartbroken” I was feeling for my college and high school grandchildren losing such important pieces of their lives because of this pandemic. When I reflected on the conversation afterwards, something about the word “heartbroken” bothered me. My heart isn’t breaking. My heart was fine, beating and pumping normally – doing its thing. What is breaking, what is crying out, is my spirit. I could say that it is my soul that is breaking.

This realization makes me think that so many of the emotional conditions that we have come to attribute to the heart actually originate in the soul.  I’m thinking about familiar expressions  like “heartache”, ”heartbroken”, “heartsick”, “heartfelt”. Is it the heart that births these feelings? Or do they rise from elsewhere within us…from that hard to explain, nonphysical part of us that is almost otherworldly. We know it dwells there someplace. We hear it…we feel it.  Sometimes this enigmatic inner consciousness even causes a physical response. Shouldn’t we then really be referring to similar emotive experiences as “a soul-ache”, or being “soul-broken”, or “soul-sick”, or something that is “soul-felt”?

Webster says the soul is “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal”. I find this definition inadequate. I know my soul is my essence, my spirit, my conscience, my connection to all creation. It is the dwelling place of all that anchors me. It is critical to my well-being. Yet, admittedly, how often do I ignore, and thus, neglect it? I can’t help but think of  the speed of my response to a headache or a muscle strain, or even a skin rash. I want to rid myself of this physical discomfort immediately. Yet, when my soul cries out for attention, it does so gently… whispering, almost. So it’s way too easy for me to dismiss the momentary unrest as a “mood” that will soon pass. But no. I need to listen hard to this voice. It speaks of something every bit as real as, as impactful as, and at times more significant than these bodily discomforts I experience. And I need to follow it wherever it may lead. It has never led me astray.

I need to listen now – when I am feeling “soul-broken”.

There is so much advice available on how to take care of your soul. But what I’ve found is that we each must find our own way of caring for our individual soul. It’s not a one size fits all situation. I’m so lucky to have a few reliable and, in other times, easily attainable “soul fixes” –  a sprawling family, trusted friends, books, cooking, writing, journaling, piano, solitude and silence. These are the things that feed my soul – and I am needing them now more than ever before.

It is in times such as these that I need to pay attention to the wisdom of my soul. I need to give my soul a voice.

 

Here are a few links to some “soul-filling”  Ted talks that I enjoyed…hope you enjoy them too.

https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_why_we_all_need_to_practice_emotional_first_aid?referrer=playlist-the_importance_of_self_care

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?referrer=playlist-the_importance_of_self_care

https://www.ted.com/talks/emily_esfahani_smith_there_s_more_to_life_than_being_happy?referrer=playlist-the_importance_of_self_care

https://www.ted.com/talks/andy_puddicombe_all_it_takes_is_10_mindful_minutes?referrer=playlist-the_importance_of_self_care

 

 

August 26th, 2020|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Minding Our Minds – A New Book Review

Here’s another book review from my sister Susan…she really can pick the great reads.  I’m reading this now and, naturally, absorbed for all the reasons Sue states.  Thanks from all of us, Sue!

 

I have  always been fascinated by the complex culture of India and thus was drawn  to read “A Burning by Megha Majumdar.  The story is that of three people living in contemporary India, each aspiring to elevate their social status in a culture where racism, political opportunism and extreme poverty prevail.  Their lives become intertwined after a catastrophic event – a terrorist attack.

 

Jivan, a young Muslim girl raised in the slums, is striving  to become middle class.  She experiences a new found freedom through her cell phone and writes an impulsive post on Facebook related to a terrorist attack.  This careless act draws the attention of the police and she is soon arrested.  Following her arrest you are introduced to 2 people from Jivan’s past,  PT Sir and Lovely. As the story evolves we learn how their brief associations with Jivan in the past play a major role in determining her future.
This book, although a novel, offered great insight into the spirit of India, perils of social media and the hopes and fears of people living on the margins of society.   I loved the introduction into the Hijra, the transgender community of India.  This group is believed by some to have mystical powers and excel in song and dance.  They are often invited to events to offer their blessings and good luck.  Lovely, as a Hijra, adds warmth and humor to the story.
Although the book has some lightness in the person of Lovely, I found it to be a thriller –  always trying to anticipate the ending.   With so many timely issues to discuss it could be a great Book Club pick!
August 26th, 2020|Minding Our Minds|0 Comments
Go to Top