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Amazing

Rick HansonThis is a practice from Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing. I found it so … uh, amazing, that I had to pass it along. www.rickhanson.com

 

The Practice 

Be amazed.

Why?

Last night, stressing about undone tasks, I glanced in a mirror and saw my t-shirt, with its picture of a galaxy and a little sign sticking up out of its outer swirls, saying “you are here.” A joke gift from my wife, I’ve worn this shirt many times – yet for once it stopped me in my tracks. In William Blake’s phrase, the doors of perception popped open and it really hit me: yes we are actually here, off to the edge of a vast floating whirlpool of stars, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas. Here, now, nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos emerged out of nothing. What the?!

My mind stopped yapping and I felt the delight and awe of a little kid who for the first time sees a butterfly, or tastes ice cream, or realizes that the stars above are really far away. Gratitude and wow and something edging into dare I say it sacred washed through me.

In a word, I was amazed – which means “filled with wonder and surprise,” even “overwhelmed with wonder.” Besides the simple happiness in this experience, it lifted me above the tangled pressures and worries I was stuck to like a bug on flypaper. Amazement is instant stress relief. It also opens the heart: I couldn’t any longer be even a little exasperated with my wife. Perhaps most deeply, being amazed brings you into the truth of things, into relationship with the inherent mysteries and overwhelming gifts of existence, scaled from the molecular machinery of life to the love and forgiveness in human hearts to the dark matter that glues the universe together.

Wow. Really. Wow.

 

 

How? 

Opportunities for amazement are all around us. I think back to that look in the eyes of our son and daughter as they were born, blinking in the light of the room, surprised by all the shapes and colors, entering a whole new world. Seen with the eyes of a child, the simplest thing is amazing: a blade of grass, being licked by a puppy, the taste of cinnamon, riding piggyback on your daddy, or the fact that running your eyes over lines of black squiggles fills your mind with tales of dragons and heroes and fairy godmothers.

Look around you. This morning I sat down to my computer, clicked a mouse, and chanting recorded in a Russian cathedral filled the room. Crazy! Imagine being a Stone Age person transported 50,000 years forward into your chair. Glass windows, pencils, flat wood, the smell of coffee, woven cloth, a metal spoon . . . it would all be amazing.

Try to see more of your world in this way, as if you are seeing it for the first time, perhaps through the eyes of a child if not a caveman. Beginner’s mind, zen mind. If you’re not amazed, you’re not paying attention.

Explore “don’t know mind” – not “duh” mind, but an openness that doesn’t immediately slot things into boxes, that allows a freshness and curiosity. The mind categorizes and labels things to help us survive. Fine enough, but underneath this skim of meaning laid over the boiled milk of reality, we don’t truly know what anything is. We use words like “atoms” and “quarks” and “photons,” but no one knows what a quark or photon actually is.

We don’t know what love actually is, either, but it is all around us. It’s amazing to me that people love me, amazing that people forgive each other, that those once at war with each other can eventually live in peace. Consider people you know, how they keep going when they’re tired, breathe through pain, get up yet again to walk a crying baby, settle down in the middle of an argument and admit fault and move on. To me, that a mother can embrace the young man who murdered her son is more amazing than an exploding supernova. And just as others are amazing to you, you are also amazing to them.

If we were brave enough to be more often filled with wonder and surprise, we would treat ourselves and others and our fragile world more gently.

 

 

Affirmations

AffirmationsBeloved, I know I haven’t been generating a lot of blogs lately, except for Seeds. I’m not being lazy. My life has simply been in extraordinary turmoil recently. I’m expecting it to chill out a bit come the fall. Be patient. I miss writing! And, for sure, I’m skipping next Tuesday’s post because I’ll be coming back from retreat in California.

Affirmations are how I got my start as a spiritual teacher. It makes sense really since I’m such a word person. My ex-husband still calls me Miss Word!

So here’s a lovely article by my friend urban shaman Donna Henes about affirmations.

An Empowering Mantra for Self-Esteem

by Donna Henes

Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired situation or state of being. For example, “I am healthy, I radiate well being.” “I am a good and honorable person with a loving heart.” “I am capable beyond all measure.” Etc.

Affirmations can help you to transform your life by reframing your internal Self talk. By stating what you want to be true in your life, and describe it in the present tense, you are able to envision it and feel it as being true. So you begin to really believe in positive possibilities and in your own capabilities.

Affirmations are meant to be repeated like mantras. The more you say them, the more you believe them. The more you believe in your intentions being real, the more able you are to direct your energy toward the actualization that you desire.

Women often have self-limiting expectations because we memorized and internalized all of the negative messages that we grew up hearing in our families, in school and in the media. Constant repetition has caused us to internalize negative attitudes.

Words and statements work both ways, to build or to destroy. It is the way we use them that determines whether they are going to bring good or harmful results.

If you keep telling yourself that you cannot do something, that you are too lazy, lack the requisite intelligence or inner strength, or that you are going to fail, your spirit accepts what it keeps hearing as being true and attracts situations to prove its veracity.

In order to ensure their effectiveness, affirmations should be repeated with attention, conviction, interest and desire. The repeated words form a mental image that helps you to focus your mind on your aim and to trigger you into taking positive actions to realize your goals.

It is important to understand that repeating positive affirmations for a few minutes, and then thinking negatively the rest of the day, neutralizes the effects of the positive words. You have to refuse thinking negative thoughts, if you wish to attain positive results.

This is my most popular empowerment mantra/affirmation. It is very simple and incredibly affective. Sing it in the shower in the morning to start your day with confidence and intention. Repeat it while walking, while running, while on the treadmill. It will keep you going. Chant it to yourself anytime you are unsure, insecure or scared. It will give you courage.

I AM.

I CAN.

I WILL.

I AM.       (I am perfect just as I am.)

I CAN.      (I can do whatever I set out to do.)

I WILL.     (I have faith in myself.)

***

Six words. Just six. But wow. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed in my life at the moment. There’s LOTS of change … I’m moving, I have a new job, an important relationship is in flux, and I’m dealing with some health issues. The Big Four.

That’s it! I’m using Donna’s six-word miracle for the day. I’ll let you know how it worked.

Remembering the Truth

This arrived in my inbox on a day when I really needed it. I hope it catches you the same way it did me.

Settle