Indulgence or Self-Kindness?

I just read a post on 40 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Kindness over on the kindness blog and it reminded me of how simple, yet important, it is to practice self-kindness. And how easy it is for me to forget or fall out of practice.

When things are hectic, when there are a lot of demands on my time or energy, those are the times that acts of self-kindness are especially critical and necessary. Those times when it feels super indulgent to take the time to breath and meditate?  Those are exactly the times when I absolutely benefit from slowing down and taking a minute (or five or ten) to breathe.

I am amazed at how easily I can slide into thinking that self-care and self-kindness are indulgent. For example, one self-kindness I often think of as an indulgence is sleep. I know I need a lot of sleep. I am someone who needs at least eight hours of sleep a night. When I was younger, I didn’t think much about pulling all-nighters or functioning on just a few hours of sleep a night for long stretches of time. I really can’t say with much objectivity how functional I really was back then. Basically I was powered by a lot caffeine and those years are now a bit of a blur.

Over the years I’ve come to learn that I am a much happier, healthier and more balanced person when I get my seven or eight hours a night consistently. I know that. I have experienced its impact on my mind and body. I have no doubt of its necessity. And still I think it’s indulgent when I get those eight hours! So I like that the post framed getting enough sleep as an act of self-kindness.

Have you noticed any thought patterns in which acts of self-kindness are framed as indulgences?  If so, what do you do to re-frame?

3 Easy Tips for a Saner Holiday Season

The holiday hype is in full swing and, as usual, I’m feeling pretty mixed about it.  To help me navigate the next six weeks with some modicum of sanity, I will be relying on these three simple things to anchor me:

  • meditation
  • protein
  • fiber

I imagine that, for the majority of the population, the holidays probably bring up a range of emotions.  There are things to celebrate and be grateful for, there are things (or situations) we tolerate (because it’s the holidays) and there are things we choose to not deal with and try to forget.  All of which means it’s a little trickier than usual to stay balanced, calm and grounded.  In other words, sane.  Add to that factors like traveling, extra traffic, heightened emotions and expectations and constant changes to schedules and it’s no wonder that we need plans and strategies to get through this “most wonderful time” of the year.  I find the combination of meditation, protein and fiber especially useful during the holiday season because they don’t require specialized equipment (no extra trips to the store), can be done anywhere (no excuses), take very little time and are pretty easy to remember.

Meditation: A breathing meditation, a sitting meditation, a moving meditation, a guided meditation – it doesn’t really matter what kind of meditation you do.  What matters is setting aside the time to do it every day.  The crazier the days are, the more necessary it is to carve out that time for yourself.  Even if it’s just three minutes of sitting still with your eyes closed and doing nothing more than listening to your breath.  If you’re more ambitious, use the time to connect with gratitude and love.  You can choose to take those minutes to get real with your emotions, to get to the core of what matters and/or just bask in the flow of love, joy and gratitude. Those three (or thirty) minutes are well worth it.

Protein: More often than not, hunger shows up as crankiness or spaciness.  Either way, it’s unpleasant to be around and even possibly dangerous.  I find that protein helps me feel fuller longer so it’s easier to resist temptation.  Plus, I make better choices when my stomach’s not rumbling.  I usually have a snack bag of almonds stashed in my bag (very helpful when I haven’t eaten since lunch and I’m stuck in late afternoon traffic).

Fiber: The holidays often involve richer foods, more hectic schedules and traveling so it’s best to up the fiber intake.  The fiber will help keep the extra weight off and help ensure proper elimination.  Because it’s important to let go of things that no longer serve us, whether that’s in the physical body or the emotional body.  The fiber helps the physical body while the meditation helps the emotional body process and release.

What tips, plans and strategies do you have for the holidays?


Many Paths to the Divine

A colleague recently mentioned how stressed he was and how much he wanted to learn meditation because he had heard it would help with stress management.  And that conversation got me thinking about how often we look outside for answers.  On the one hand, I know that we are Truth, we are Light, we are Love.  I know that simply connecting with breath may be all that I need to find peace and connection with spirit.  And yet I also know that I sometimes forget or lose my way and it is through the guidance of teachers that I find my way back to my own knowing.  I guess it’s about being open to both the possibility of finding our way in to experiencing the divine on our own and recognizing that, sometimes, finding the teacher guides along the way is the path through which we come to connect with and experience the divine.

I love this reminder from Jack Kornfield as to how there are many different ways in which we may awaken to spirit.  In After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, he writes “We can go to India or Jerusalem – and some of the most magical stories…might have us believe that this is the way a spiritual life must begin.  But it also begins in a moment of gardening, in the simple act of returning home after a voyage and seeing it fresh, in the touch of an inspired piece of music, a poem’s song, the flight of a bird.  Every pair of eyes we look into can become the eyes of the Beloved.”

Share Your Beauty

Beauty matters.

True beauty can inspire action, bring joy, give hope and lift our spirits.

I’m not talking about artifice passing as beauty.  I’m talking about real, authentic beauty.  The kind of beauty that has nothing to do with the application of make up or having the perfect body.

I’m talking about the beauty you experience when in the presence of nature.  Or an incredible piece of artwork.  Or musical performance.  Or a meal cooked with love.  That kind of beauty.

And I’m talking about the kind of beauty we can infuse into our daily interactions.  This is the beauty of our presence when we show up as our authentic selves, when we act mindfully, when we speak with kindness, when we show respect for each other and recognize the humanity in the other.

It doesn’t really matter what it is that we may be doing or where we are, we can always bring more beauty into the moment.  We just have to set that intention and act accordingly.

Which may be easier said than done sometimes.  Like when I am sitting in traffic.  And yet, being angry isn’t going to get me to my destination any faster.  Me sitting in my car being frustrated by the situation isn’t going to change anything other than give me more wrinkles and up my stress level. Stewing in all that negativity just makes me less attractive.  Generally speaking, don’t you think people who are pleasant, happy, smiley, kind and nice are just more attractive?

Will you be bringing more beauty into your daily life?  How do you bring beauty into your life?