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Christmas Spirit vs. the Spirit of Christmas

Is it the Christmas Spirit or the Spirit of Christmas? Good question. The answer lies either between your ears or in your heart.

If it lies between your ears, your mind will say, “There is no difference – it is the same thing.”

Your heart will reply quite the opposite, however.

Christmas Spirit defined can include everything from the “Ho! Ho! Ho!” to Christmas Cards to gift giving to one and all. It can include stress caused by many sources, exhaustion from too much to do and too little time to complete tasks, the lack of money, etc. It can be an  endless array of Christmas parties and too little sleep. It can be Christmas gifts put on display in the stores before Halloween and reminders of how many days until Christmas signs everywhere. It can be holiday music, lights, trees, and tinsel every time you look around. Yes, it can be all those things and more, positive and negative, bright and festive, cheap and elegant side by side.

But when you look at the Spirit of Christmas with your heart, you may find many surprises, one of which is the ability to see Beauty in your surroundings. That is because one is aware of time passing, along with a sense of peacefulness (like when floating on an inner tube on a lazy river).

If you are feeling rushed and filled with angst, slow down and take several deep breaths. Focus on just one thing at a time instead of a litany of tasks. Make a list of the tasks and choose just one, get it done, and then move on. Multi-tasking is a possibility if you still focus on just one object, like a person who is spinning plates on top of wooden dowels – touching one plate at a time to keep it spinning.

The Spirit of Christmas is not limited to a specific time frame on a calendar – it is truly an attitude that you can utilize year-round! In this way, one can see so much more clearly what is important vs. what is not so much. For example, you can give a gift from a thankful heart because of how satisfied you are with how well one is doing in lieu of giving out of duty or expectation. Pay attention to the details, one at a time, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of it all. You can enjoy one Christmas card, one gift your receive or give, or one bite at a time of a fantastic meal.

Time will, indeed, flow by regardless of how crazy you make yourself. So why not slow down your responses to exterior (and interior) stimuli? Then you can select the way you react to it instead of wearing yourself out from the inside, reacting vs. acting. Life can become so much more simple if you try this method of selecting a response (Acting) vs. gut level Reacting.

The Spirit of Christmas should nourish your Spirit, creating attitudes of thankfulness and joy. Do you remember that last time when you actually felt JOY? If it has been a long time, some introspection is required to find out when it left, how long it has been gone, and decide what you can do to restore it to your life so you can experience it again on a more regular basis. You may ask why that is important: Because JOY and PEACE are twins – they come and go together.

Peace is more than a word you hear and see during the Christmas Season. It is an attitude and a way of living.  It is something you can cultivate in your life which can begin with learning to  breathe deeply. Take a yoga class or T’ai Chi if needed. In our frenetic world, it is vital to your Spirit because it nourishes you from the inside out. It also simplifies complex situations which crop up all too often. When you feel like you are in a box and cannot get out, it is time to take a truly deep breath and seek the CALM (like that at the center of a wheel in lieu of living on the circumference where you feel like you are being run over).

The Spirit of Christmas is a gift you can give yourself every morning, if you so choose, no matter the time of year. Think about it: Are you willing?

God’s blessings upon your journey! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Image result for Bling Christmas

 

 

Are You A Human DOING Or Human BEING?

One good question: Do you consider yourself to be a HUMAN DOING or a HUMAN BEING?

A second question: Do you think you are a HUMAN BEING HAVING A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE?

Or are you a SPIRITUAL BEING HAVING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE?

What is the difference you might ask?

It is a matter of FOCUS, PRIORITIES, and how you actually spend your time each day.

We can have the most grand idea as we begin our day of who we are and what we plan to do, say our Prayers, Meditate maybe, and then get underway. Then the daily wear and tear (known as vicissitudes) begin. You make your to-do-lists and begin your day. The rest of the day passes as though it had wings. You look back on your day and wonder where it disappeared to. Things on your to-do-list are probably still sitting there, or it is partially done. You have to wonder: What happened?

Answer:  LIFE

One element here is the lack of FOCUS. There are so many distractions in our everyday world that it is a wonder we can get anything done. Noise levels can be astronomical. Quiet and stillness are rare. There are pressing priorities at every turn — everything from changing the baby’s diaper, to answering the phone, to dropping the kids off at school (and they are still half-dressed and dawdling), to getting ready for work, to a boss that changed his mind and added more work with tight deadlines on top of an already full load, etc.

How can one stay centered and calm in the face of the flurry of it all? Some say to get up at least five minutes earlier so you can have some quiet time where you can pray, meditate, do yoga or Thai Chi, read your Bible or Religious Instruction, or whatever you like, including a quiet cup of coffee on the back deck contemplating nature, birds, etc. God is there. But you must seek Him first in order to achieve that moment of rest that you will need to carry you through your daily activities.

In the Bible, Matthew 6:5-13, it states in v.6: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” It then goes into the Lord’s Prayer, which we are instructed to pray daily. I have wondered about that for years, but I have come to know that the whole story is to quiet the outer so that we can emphasize the innermost parts of us,  finding solace for our weary hearts and minds.

Another element that leads to Peacefulness of Spirit is Meekness. In the Bible in Psalms 37:11, it states: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Again, in Matthew 5:5, it states: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” George Lamsa’s explanation is as follows: “It refers to the type of man who does not retaliate and who is free from that grasping temper which leads to disputes and quarrels…Such men believe in nonresistance…” The true meaning of meekness is the ability to bend with the wind or being teachable. This is far from the traditional meaning of becoming a rug so others can wipe their feet on you. Say “Nay!” to that! It is more like a river flowing around the rocks and obstructions in its way. This is the attitude essential to remaining quiet, calm, and peaceful in the face of adversity.

It all comes down to what you think in your head versus how you react to what is going on around you. Are the kids fighting again? Is the husband or wife unhappy about some inconsequential detail (which is not important to you at all)? How are your stress levels — probably through the roof? Is a loved one ill? Is there too much month left and not enough money? Did someone cut you off in traffic and almost cause you to have an accident? Are your allergies causing you discomfort?

The world has a way of impinging on our presence of mind in a million different ways, both large and small. The only way to make a change in it is to alter yourself and how you are thinking and responding. The outside circumstances do not care a lick about how miserable you are.

So I ask you again:

Do you consider yourself to be a HUMAN DOING or a HUMAN BEING?

Do you think you are a HUMAN BEING HAVING A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE?

Or are you a SPIRITUAL BEING HAVING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE?

The difference lies at the center of you. Are you willing to be driven by external circumstances forever, or are you willing to do whatever it takes to put your hands on the wheel  and take command of your ship? It is all up to you as to where and how it sails.

Saying a few words in prayer in the morning is not enough to keep your hands on the helm and in control of your destiny. You have to do something differently in order to achieve some level of calmness in the heart of you, no matter how hard the external winds  are blowing — and they can get pretty strong. Where is your attention focused? It is your priority system that got you where you are today. Are you happy with that? If not, are you willing to look for another answer? Take the personal time for yourself, whatever amount that is, so you can quiet the storm, seek guidance, and proceed with a knowing that all is OK, regardless of the circumstances. Take the step you see, and proceed as best you can.

Are you willing to give it a try? It is, after all, your journey.

God’s blessings upon you!

Tree Showing Weathering by Wind & Elements

Tree Showing Weathering by Wind & Elements

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret in Flight

Lower Your Blood Pressure – SA TA NA MA

Do you get “White Coat Fever” every time you go to see the doctor, a hospital, or  a Dentist Office? Or perhaps before you go into an important meeting? Or maybe before your first date with someone new? There are lots of instances out there which actually cause a raise in your blood pressure, even if your are perfectly normal most of the time.

Is it possible to do a simple movement with your hands to Lower Your  Blood Pressure?

The answer is YES!

It is a hand mudra which is used in yoga. Some get very fancy with it, but here is a simple way to do it:

Sit with a straight spine and close your eyes. Breathe in deeply, and as you slowly let your breath out, you say the words, either out loud or silently to yourself: SA TA NA MA as you alternately press the thumb against all four fingers individually of both hands, starting with using the thumb to press the first finger: Say SA (soft a sound); the TA as you use your thumb to press the middle finger; The NA as you press the ring finger; and MA as you press the little finger. You are always moving from the first finger towards the little finger as you say the sounds…never in reverse order.

There are meditations out there suggesting that you can do this for 11 minutes, sitting quietly, or 31 minutes. Personally, I feel that whatever you can do will benefit you, calm you down, and lower your Blood Pressure.

It does not need to be a religious act or complicated. You can keep it simple and benefit from it. If, however, you want the philosophy, more information, or total picture of it, all you have to do is key in the words: SA TA NA MA into your search engine. It has a potential to be a powerful thing to do if you want to go down that path.

It can help you to make changes in your life, if you choose. It can even assist you to relax before you go to sleep and let go of the problems/issues/emotions of your day.

If you choose to do this, you can do it subtly no matter where you are. Are you willing to give it a try? It could benefit you whenever you need to Lower Your Blood Pressure for any reason so you can take life a little easier.

God’s blessings upon your journey!

 

Anger Management

A quote I live by every day: “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.”

I have had at least one person ask me what that means. I just responded, “Lighten up.”

When I was young, my temper would often get the best of me. Then I would dwell on the situation, only making myself more upset by the minute. Often it would take me days to get over some small incident.

Even if someone actually means to do something ornery to you, is a grudge the best way to handle it?

If someone cuts you off in traffic, do you react with anger? Are you still upset at your desk hours later? I figure that  person who cut me off, nearly taking my fender with him, did not actually do it to me — it is a habitual way to drive which is a poor paymaster, eventually causing that person to damage his own vehicle and probably somebody else’s. I bless him on his way.

As I have aged, I grant others the ability to misbehave and make mistakes, knowing that they are doing the best they can at that moment. I do not take it personally. It saves me a lot of wear and tear on my heart and mind because I just do not want to get angry about the situation. When I get angry, I am leaving my center of peace and tranquillity and exchanging it for something that will not be worth the agony it causes. I have to choose to ACT and not REACT. If I have to state something clearly so that a situation is resolved, I do not have to yell or cuss to get my point across. Yet there is no doubt in anyone’s mind what I am communicating.

I took an Anger Management class many years ago. I learned that ACTIVE LISTENING is the key. You repeat back to the person who is yelling at you exactly what you heard. You keep it up. Soon, the volume decreases. People yell because they think you did not hear them. When you repeat what they say, they lose steam. The Anger flows away. You cannot rationalize with an angry person. He/she is not listening to you. You cannot discuss the issues if one person is yelling and not listening. You can even, eventually, agree to disagree and then set another time to actually discuss the issues if it is necessary. I personally had to deal with a very angry 300 pound man who was borderline getting physically violent. The active listening calmed him down until I could ask him to leave. So I know it works.

Anger, in some people, causes them to withdraw as a reaction. They crawl up into a little shell, which only increases the anger expression of whoever is perpetrating the situation. Obviously, that person does not know you are listening to them.  Some people just try to get away from whatever is happening and just run away from the scene as fast as they can. Resolution never occurs.

Bullies love it. We admit that. They like to feel powerful and power-filled. They usually find someone to pick on that is smaller than they are.  They win by intimidation. Some supervisors do that same thing. You cannot interact with them because they know they have POWER. But being quiet like a mouse does not work either as a response. They usually only get worse. Try Active Listening techniques. Perhaps it will help calm the situation.

When someone is angry, it raises their blood pressure, the adrenalin “fight or flight” response, and the wear and tear on the body. It is like a light that goes shooting out at the person or situation. When it is over, one feels empty and drained. If the anger is not expressed properly, however, it turns inward and becomes depression. That is a bad beast to have to deal with.

You can pound on pillows, write a hate letter and shred it, perform physical exercise, imagining that you are stomping out the problem/situation/person. There are lots of ways to exorcise the bad feelings without putting one’s fist through a wall, person, or thing.

I have had three accidents in my life which have impacted my body functioning and hampered how I can do many tasks. I have had to deal with anger over the losses to my healthy body. Life is not fair, and it will never be so. I had to work my way through the anger responses so I could deal with the pain and the situation. That is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary because I choose to be a pleasant person with a smile on my face. Most people will never know what I have gone through and what is happening to my body at any moment. I do not let the pain or the anger control me and dictate what my interaction level will be with others. I choose to overcome it and share the best that is in me with my world.

We are like puppets of the memories we have, registered long ago when we were learning how to interact with our world. We learned how to deal with situations by watching those around us. If we did not have good mentors (and most of us had parents and others around us who are capable of making mistakes), we respond with whatever we learned, good or bad.

Most of the therapy that people pay for is so they can react and interact with their world differently than what they learned when they were small. They want to be able to be more functional. That is a good thing. It is never too late to change, using whatever tools you can find that work for you, be it a book, a good friend, etc.

If you find yourself becoming angry at something or someone, can you stop for even a second before you light that flame of destruction? Can you ask yourself why you are ready to rip somebody’s head off? Can you stop and breathe deeply, trying to calm yourself, your blood pressure, and your “fight or flight” response? That is the purpose for counting to 10, slowly.

Do you remember the scene in the Harry Potter movie where Ron was facing his fears, and he turned the spider into a clown, with roller skates on each leg?  Do you know that anger can be dealt with in the same way? I quietly think about a scene from Alice in Wonderland, looking for the Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit with the pocket watch yelling, “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” Anything that will add levity to the situation until I can regain my perspective. I don’t have to tell anyone what I am up to…I just do it.

When things gets crazy around me, instead of joining the craziness, I just calmly rise in my air balloon, looking at the situation as a spectator. If I choose to ACT, I can then do so. No hint of REACT is there. (Now, if I had a charging tiger to deal with, I would put my adrenalin to good use. But short of that, in real life, there are not many  dangers out there to react to. It is the imaginary dangers that cause the damage, and most of them never happen. We just worry about it all, nonetheless.)

If have been told that I am a very positive person. I work at it. It is not something that happens by chance. I work on my calm attitudes because I want to be part of the answer, not the problem.

Each morning when I get up, I set my sails so that if some errant wind catches me, I can then adjust my sails so I can keep heading towards my destination, whatever that may be for the day. Lots of people can try to huff and puff, and blow me off course…all to no avail. Circumstances can do the same. I still press on with my hand on the helm, charting my course by my belief system and my faith. with prayers always in my heart.

Life happens. We all make mistakes. We have to continually pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.

If you find yourself stewing over some situation and not arriving at a peaceful resolution, just know that you have lots of company. The only questions you need to ask yourself are, “Do I want to continue feeling like this? Do I want to change that?” Hanging onto your anger will not solve a thing. It only wears you out from the inside. Is it worth it?

 

One Thing At A Time

Daily life occurs at a fast and furious pace. One cannot finish doing some task before ten other appear in the TO TO List. How good are you at multitasking?

As an analogy, I used to be able to keep track of ten planes (tasks), keeping them 1,000 feet apart without any problem. Like a juggler, I could keep ten plates spinning on sticks simultaneously, just adding a touch of momentum to each one to keep them spinning. Note that I said “used to.” As I age, I have found that, if I concentrate on one task at a time, I can accomplish it much more quickly and certainly in a better manner because I am focusing on one thing only. I note distractions that occur while I am doing that one thing so that I can follow-up later. But I put enough energy into that one thing so that it can be finished. Then I move on to the next task.

My To Do List helps me so I can see the overall needs of the day, but then I prioritize. During the day, my priorities may need changing. I can then adjust whatever and still stay on my list. Sometimes, tasks are added and deleted or moved to another day.

At the end of the day, I do not beat myself up because I have many things that are not finished. Sometimes, my daily To Do List becomes a weekly one, or a monthly one if need be.

But I can assure you that I get more done in less time than many others do. I maintain a calm, poised attitude most of the time and do not permit negative emotions to affect my activities.

This is not a fairy tale. I have spent years in chaos and mayhem. One has to learn to deal with it rationally so circumstances do not dictate your day.

So how about you? Are you willing to make some changes so you can actually do 1,000 tasks, one at a time, calmly and with attention to details without going crazy?

Life Is A Journey

It’s been said frequently that Life Is A Journey and Not a Destination.

How many times have you thought, “If I could just (you name it), I will have arrived.” You could put in, “Be debt free,” or “Be able to buy (that beautiful dress, fancy watch, expensive hand bag or shoes). Then people will notice how well I am doing. I will have arrived.” Every advertisement is directed at this attitude, whether it is whitening your teeth or buying any product. Please note the emphasis on arrived. Does that not, in itself, connotate a Destination?

Is the acquisition of “stuff” on your high priority list? How about buying a new home or car? Some people in the rarefied atmosphere want a new personal jet and a longer landing field. So you work day and night toward getting the “stuff” and then paying for it, be it a loan or a credit card. What price are you actually paying for it?

Are you working so hard that you have little time to spend with loved ones, and, even when you are with them, are you still fussing about some problem at work that you cannot resolve? That is time you never get back. I’ve heard a suggestion that I use: When you are traveling home, you mentally encapsulate the day and park it into a Box labeled “To Be Resolved,” or “Unfinished Business.” You then look at something in your immediate surroundings so you can really see where you are at that moment.  By the time you are home, you can truly greet your loved ones (be it a person, cat, dog, bird, whatever) and enjoy your evening more because your attention is not being fractured by some problem from work that you can do nothing about at that moment. Focus is the issue here.

Are you working so many hours that you are not taking good care of your body by eating good, healthy food and exercising properly so you will stay strong? Or are you grabbing fast food and gulping/chugging it down as soon as you leave the drive up window? You know it is high fat and will drive up your cholesterol and weight in the long run. You can tell yourself that it may happen sometime in the future and maybe not, and certainly not to you. It is amazing what lies we can tell ourselves to justify our poor decisions, and then believe them… 😦

Are your stress levels so high that you feel like you must smoke or eat chocolate or carbohydrates (sweets) to calm yourself down? Yet you may tell me you have no time to learn yoga, breathe correctly, meditate for a few minutes to calm the mind and body, or exercise. Do you know that the first sign of stress is the inability to breathe deeply? That shortens the oxygen available to your muscles and body to function. It creates aches and pains as well, headaches, tight muscles which can injure easily, etc. Is it worth it to you to find a different way to handle stress, and then do it?

Do you see a pattern here?

Life and choices come to us one moment at a time. Some choices never happen again because the consequences of that choice eliminates possibilities that would have been an option. Are you giving your attention to the price you are paying daily and what the coin is? (The coin is health, happiness, exercise, eating right, etc.) Is it worth it to you?

If Life Is A Journey and NOT a Destination, are you willing to take a serious look at your priorities so you can enjoy your Journey more?

Priority? What Priority?

Priority? What Priority?

 

Peace Begins With Me

This new year presents us with a brand new page to begin again, to change what we want to change, to become the person we were meant to be, and one place to start is a song by Vince Gill:

“Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth,

The peace that was meant to be.

With God as our Father,

Brothers all are we.

Let me walk with my berother

In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me.

Let this be the moment now.

With every step I take,

Let this be my solemn vow:

To take each moment

And live each moment

With peace eternally.

Let there be peace on earth,

And let it begin with me.”

Each day, with every word we speak, with every thought we think, we are creating our reality as we know it to be.

We are, indeed, planting the seeds that will bloom in our tomorrows.

Do you want a more peaceful life and experience less chaos?

It all begins with your thoughts and emotions. Do you REACT in lieu of ACT? Did somebody else make you angry?

Do you feel justified in these negative feelings because it is somebody else’s fault?

Guess who pays? It is not the other person, who has moved on and could usually care less.

You baggage just got heavier, didn’t it? Is it worth it to you to drag it around, every moment of every day?

Peace can be maintained as an attitude and a reality if you can truly realize that “Peace begins within you!”

There is nowhere else it can start. Life is so short. Why drag around chaos-creating emotions when you can choose to let it go?

If you could pretend to yourself that you are a spectator on some aggravation going on in your life, would your point of view change?

What advice would you give yourself when you see it from a different point of view? Is it really all that important? Is there something you can actively do to effect a difference in outcome? Are you listening to yourself? Are you listening to others?

Peace is not something that comes wrapped with a bow. It takes work on yourself and your perspective to calm down so you can experience something else that is far more livable and lovable.

Are you interested in PEACE, personally, and moment by moment? Figure out what the price is and pay it in whatever coin required. It could be the coin of forgiveness of self or others, the coin of blessing others on their way, or even the coin of loving yourself enough to be happy anyway. This is not an oxymoron. It is TRUTH.

It is in your hands. What do you choose?

Hibiscus - Adding Beauty

Hibiscus – Adding Beauty

Hibiscus at Christmas

Hibiscus at Christmas

Autumn Seeds

Autumn Seeds

Autumn Seeds

Autumn Seeds

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