You’re Not Basically Messed Up

“When the Buddha sat down to meditate under the Bodhi Tree 2,600 years ago, he didn’t sit down to come up with a master plan to make himself different. He acknowledged that he was suffering and knew that he wanted to do something about that. He engaged in a simple meditation practice to begin to look at that suffering. The more he looked the more he realized that at his core, he wasn’t basically messed up, he was basically good. He was basically awake. And he was not alone. We are, too. Our wakefulness is indestructible. It is like a diamond in a heap of dust. It is always there. We just need to discover it.” Lodro Rinzler

As a seeker I fear I spend too much time looking at my faults and weaknesses as I try to improve myself. I notice the people around me, who I think are such incredible beings, picking themselves apart in a similar way. When we seek, we can get lost in the details, in the deconstruction. We may forget that the reason we started to seek in the first place is because we wanted to live happier lives. We don’t need to grab our internal jack hammer and sweat away as we break it all down, what a misery! We make it hard, when it is actually easy, because, as Rinzler says, we are basically good, not basically messed up.

I invite you to rediscover yourself in joy, in laughter, in time with friends, in blissful daydreaming. I invite you to discover your basic goodness.

Gazing at Mnt. Shasta... I felt peace

Gazing at Mnt. Shasta… I felt peace

Heartbreak On Halloween

Halloween Magic

Halloween Magic

I love Halloween, the excuse to play dress up, use a glue gun, become someone else, to create, to craft, to get together with friends, to be silly, to interact, and watch from behind masks…the imagination and transformation… I love it.

Today I will share a story from four years ago, when a particular Halloween taught me that sometimes the most incredible things can happen despite the muck that may be going on outside, in your head, or in your heart.

October 29th and the train crawls towards NYC while outside the snow is beginning to fall. I am sitting on my hands to keep them warm because the heat isn’t working in the car. I have a book I can’t read because my mind is unwilling to consume fantasy or knowledge at the current moment. I stare at the snow melting into the Hudson river, willing it to show me the meaning of life, or the meaning of anything.
I walk the streets of Queens as the sleet, snow and ice mixture soaks through my clothes and melts down my face. She opens the door, pulls me into a hug and exclaims into my shoulder “I have been waiting for you to get here.” She has tears in her eyes as she pulls away and I feel the full weight of her sadness as I recognize my own heartbreak in hers. How everything aches when a relationship ends. Bursts of anger float in with regret and longing somehow balanced out unevenly with shreds of hope for the next and the future. I congratulate her on not hiding under the bed.
As is common practice at the end of a relationship, the focus is back on the self and to be your own best possible version of that. So we go to yoga before getting drunk.
We are going to the MTV Halloween party, or are supposed to be going to it. The freak fall snowstorm dropping down on our heads threatens to deter us from our plans. After lying in Shavasana, the yoga teacher exclaims “Whatever you were supposed to do tonight, go ahead and do it, put a garbage bag on over your head and go out and live your lives.” We use the advice to help us through our costume undertakings and it motivates us to stay the course. A dying of hair, wrapping in duck tape, glue gun, bobby pinning, face paint, whiskey drinking bonanza. She has an electrical cord wrapped around her head and her junk drawer costume keeps dropping things, but she looks amazing. I manage to stuff myself in a unitard. We will have difficulty when we have to use the bathroom later that nigh but we are all set. There is a calm after the frenzy of getting ready which leaves us staring at each other asking “now what?” as we wait for the car. Neither one of us can sit down comfortably.
We give the password at the door and the tequila drinks starts to pour. Freaks, bananas, zombies, skeletons, sexy Raggedy Anne’s, and half naked half costumes fill the spaces. There is something magical about Halloween. A bunch of strangers mixing together and everyone dressed up as somebody else. It is easier to put yourself out there when you are not yourself, random costumes give reason to interact with randoms. A coming together and new interest lights up the city. There is dancing and running, talking, yelling, more drinking, candy, kissing, hugging, no tears, joy, laughter, new friends and lots and lots of fun. We stay out all night unaware of anything but the present and our altered consciousness. We are happy.
So when in doubt my friends, no matter where you are in life or what the weather is doing, take the advice of a very wise yogi:
Put a garbage bag on your head and live your life.

Don’t Dance So Fast

Slow Dance:
Have you ever watched kids, On a merry-go-round? Or listened to the rain, Slapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight? Or gazed at the sun into the fading night? You better slow down. Don’t dance too fast. Time is short. The music won’t last. Do you run through each day, On the fly? When you ask: How are you? Do you hear the reply? When the day is done, do you lie in your bed, With the next hundred chores, Running through your head? You’d better slow down, Don’t dance too fast. Time is short, The music won’t last. Ever told your child we’ll do it tomorrow? And in your haste, Not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch, Let a good friendship die, Cause you never had time, To call and say Hi? You’d better slow down. Don’t dance so fast. Time is short. The music won’t last. When you run so fast to get somewhere, You miss half the fun of getting there. When you worry and hurry through your day, It is like an unopened gift thrown away. Life is not a race. Do take it slower. Hear the music, Before the song is over.”  Timothy Ferris

Taking in the sounds, smells, and feel of a waterfall always slows me down and brings a sense of peace

Taking in the sounds, smells, and feel of a waterfall always slows me down and brings a sense of peace

Timothy Ferris’s book, The Four Hour Work Week, made me contemplate the way we as a culture use our time, wasting much on busy work, and how to use the time we do have to do things worth doing. My reflection on time continues as I strive to use the moments I have fully.

Stop Wasting Time.

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn

Birthday Smiles

I recently celebrated a birthday. They say that the number means nothing, with that I have to agree, but there is something about a birthday that makes me think about the passage of time. I acknowledge the fear I have around wasting my precious time here on this earth.

Another year of my life has gone by, did I use it well?

How much time did I waste as a robot, going from one thing to the next, or worse, worrying about the problems that didn’t really exist? How much time did I waste on the things that don’t matter at all?

How much time did I spend doing things I love with the people I love? How much time did I spend contributing to the world? How much time did I spend happy?

Time is our most precious resource, so taking a couple moments to reflect on whether or not we are making the most of the finite time we are given is worthwhile. The decisions we make about how we spend our time will determine the quality of our lives. Would you rather use this time learning something new, or scrolling that person’s Facebook? Would you rather spend this time making a phone call to a loved one or playing a game on your cell phone?

There are no right or wrong answers, if you find true joy in Facebook or phone games, I say, GO FOR IT, use your time that way. However, if you don’t, remember that your time is precious, and it is best used on precious things.

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When Perfectionism is driving…

This week I was talking to my mother as she talked to me about not being my “usual, happy, bubbly self.” I wanted to hide from the world as I felt my imperfections seeping out, unable to plaster the smile on. I asked her how my patients and others that I would like to think highly of me would react if they could see me in that moment, not at my best. She said, they will say “You are human.”

I know when someone opens up to me and shares with me their faults, fears, or other imperfections it brings a sense of deeper intimacy, compassion, and connection that cannot be achieved without that kind of vulnerability. However, I notice the shame I feel at admitting those things to the world in my self. It feels terrifying. We are taught not to cry, to look a certain way, to follow the rules, and to not disturb the status quo. Except, everything that inspires us fits into none of those molds. I think about the straight As I got in school because everyone told me how important that was, looking back, that form of perfection wasn’t that important either, and the anxiety it took to get them tore me apart. Perfection is an illusion and so I am trying to give up the quest. Brene Brown wrote a whole book on this, on Daring Greatly, and so as I seek the support of her words I will share them with you as well, so maybe you can be inspired to Dare Greatly today as well.

Image from oprah.com

Image from oprah.com

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

Vulnerability is not about fear, grief, and dissappointment. It is the birthplace of everything we are hungry for.”

Make People Brighten

“I am always grateful that wherever I go somehow I did something that makes people brighten and that is a wonderful thing…” Jim Carrey

When I heard Jim Carrey say those words in this clip, it really struck me. What an amazing thing to be able to say about your life. Here are some simple ideas to get you started if you want to be able to say the same about your own life…

Tell a joke

– Give someone flowers (or anything) for absolutely no reason

– Give out compliments generously and freely

– Show excitement when someone walks through the door

Connect people 

– Leave a voicemail telling someone how they inspired you or made you proud

Celebrate someone

– Show your love

Pick up someone else’s tab: When I was 20, a couple I had never met or talked to picked up the bill at a diner for me and a friend, it is something I will never forget. We only had bagels and water, a college breakfast on a college budget, but I cannot explain how moved we were by the generosity of these strangers.

– Here is the most important idea: Just ask yourself this question whenever you encounter someone “How can I brighten their day?” …It will bring a state of awareness that will allow you to change and enhance every meeting you have. You will be surprised how much this question can change your life experience if you listen to the answers. Challenge yourself to look for situations where you can show your interest in others by doing something unanticipated. When you think of something, do it without hesitation and make someone’s day.

– And don’t forget this very simple act….SMILE

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” -Paramahansa Yogananda

Have other ideas? Let me know in the comment section below!

Feel FREE and ALIVE

That’s what it means to really feel alive—to be so immersed in the passionate bliss of this moment that you don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow. You just enjoy what you’re doing and love every piece of it.” Lori Deschene

When we touch into our own state of freedom, we experience a deeper sense of Self. It’s the feeling of ease, joy and empowerment all wrapped into one. When we find freedom there are no shoulds or have-tos and the other things that make us feel bound. We let go of the need to know what is going to happen. We let go of the need to control. Freedom means feeling alive.

Dancing

When I dance I smile so much my face hurts . I love to twirl, sway, and jump. Dancing is freedom for me. 

When was the last time you felt free? Freedom is a state of being more than any set of actions but sometimes certain actions help to stir up those feelings. Here are a few freeing actions:

Do something you thought you couldn’t do, meditate, tell someone something that you know will make them smile, reflect on the most amazing parts of your life, dance away the night, play in the ocean, spread your arms wide and breathe deep, stand up for yourself, take a day off, book a trip, rent a jet ski, do the things on your bucket list, put on a pretty dress and twirl in the sunshine, jump up and down on a trampoline, do something that scares you, complete a task that weighs heavily on you, play in the ocean, climb to the top of a mountain, feel the wind whip as you sail into a sunset, star gaze, laugh so hard you fall over, imagine yourself tied up in ropes and then cutting all the ropes easily away, do something where you go fast (safely), or fall in love.

And when it was over nothing defined us, other than the moments that made us feel free.” -R.M. Drake

A Cheat Sheet to Living Without Regret

“I try to live my life where I end up at a point where I have no regrets. So I try to choose the road that I have the most passion on because then you can never really blame yourself for making the wrong choices. You can always say you’re following your passion.”-Darren Aronofsky

Exploring my world...and myself...

Exploring my world…and myself…

I recently stumbled upon this list by Tina Williamson…

A cheat sheet to living without regrets 

Take care of your health

Make time to do the things you love, work less, laugh and play

Say what you need to say

Practice mindfulness

Change your perspective

Let go of the past

Accept the things you can not change

Stop thinking happiness is a future event

Stop chasing money and material wealth

Live authentically

Take off the mask

Follow your instincts

Practice gratitude

Don’t make your decisions based on fear

Love, love love!

I would add explore yourself and your world, let go of judgement, ask for help when you need it (because in my experience you will get to where you want to go so much quicker if you have the right support), and never stop learning. Other than that I think this list is pretty on point. I would love to hear what others think should be on the cheat sheet. If you have an addition please comment!

When the World Spins…

I woke up recently and my room was spinning…well, it wasn’t actually spinning, it just felt like it was. I waited a few minutes for it to pass, it didn’t. I woke up the next day and assumed it would be gone, it wasn’t. I kept dreaming I was on a ship and the seas were rough, I was being pitched all around. Vertigo is an interesting thing, it took me down and out. I could not drive, work, exercise, or even do small tasks. I had to rely on others for support, food, and, transportation. I was dizzy and nauseous, and increasingly irritable.

"Vertigo is the conflict between the fear of falling and the desire to fall" -Salman Rushdie

“Vertigo is the conflict between the fear of falling and the desire to fall” -Salman Rushdie

The lesson for me was around extreme self-care. I was busy at work with patients, traveling, launching products, writing articles, and more and it all felt wonderful. I really felt like I was on a roll. However, during this roll I was skipping meals, getting to bed late, exercising sporadically, and kind-of meditating. Vertigo was a wake-up call!

I truly believe that we get ill as a way for our bodies to get us back on track. If we do not properly honor our physical and emotional needs we get sick so it forces us to rest, re-set, and re-evaluate. The more off track we are and the longer we mistreat ourselves, the more serious the disease.Vertigo

Energetically vertigo is related to not having complete balance in life. Naturopaths have put forth that the people who experience vertigo may suffer unresolved feelings about taking their lives in new directions. As I work towards new goals this resonates with me. The symptoms I experienced made me slow down and practice a lot more self-care.

Self-care is about the simple things…Here is a list of self-care practices that are must dos:

Eat Well – Eat lots of vegetables, eat home-cooked healthy meals, eat mindfully (don’t just inhale your food), eat at regular times, don’t skip meals, avoid processed junk

Rest Your Body and Mind – Meditate at least 15 minutes a day, get to bed before 11pm, get rid of electronics in your sleep space, limit TV time

Move and Groove – Move your body, anyway you can, it will improve your mood, body, and energy level.

Emotional Upkeep – Ditch the emotional turmoil. Harboring fear, worry, anger, resentment, or anxiety can do a number on our physical bodies. Learn to forgive yourself and others, manage stress, hire a therapist or coach if you need to, but do not keep a bunch of feelings welled up inside. Foster joy and happiness and think good thoughts.