The Choice to be Free

I hear the sound of my heart bumping through my ears at the same pace as I feel it pulsate against the balls of my feet.

I stand there, still, free from judgment of myself as I know no one is watching.

“I am beautiful. I am smart. I am bold. I am loving. I am kind. I am caring,”

Mantras I repeat to myself as I am erectly planted with my stems to the ground.

I sway as if in a slight wind, as I feel my body shift weight to one side of my body to the other.

I love being here.

A feeling of calm engrosses me with the exhale of every breath.

If I can stand here alone free from judgment, why can’t I stand in a populated area all the same?

Why am I timid to speak up in a group but have the gusto for constant debates with myself?

Why can I dance alone in an empty yoga room but I am frozen in the presence of others?

Why?

To be free from judgment of ourselves is to be free.

To be accepting of ourselves—insecurities, thoughts, and fears—is to be free.

Do I wish to live a life of freedom and wander, or would I rather be bound by my own mind, shackled in a room which has been hoarded with insecurities, thoughts and fears blocking the door out.

What is the choice?

 

9/11- A Day for Remembrance, A Day for Reminder

First off, God please protect those directly affect by 9/11, and give them the strength to live well. I can only imagine the pain they feel on this day. We remember the souls who left us and hope their loved ones have found peace. These souls shall live on and continue to be a reminder to recognize what is truly important in our lives.

Through the tragedy and sorrow, this day reminds us how precious and fleeting life is. In just an instance, a life can be taken, but this is the reality we often choose not to think about. We much rather comfortably assume that tomorrow will come for us and everyone around us. As a result, we may treat the ones we love unfairly at times.

How many fights have we gotten into with family members over something so trivial, and now we do not speak? How many relationships have we had where we were too prideful or scared to tell the person we love them, and now they are gone? How many times have we yelled at our sibling and angrily walked out the door, taking for granted he or she will be there upon our return? We do this all of the time because of how unaware we are in the moment that things can change in just the same amount of time, one moment.

We can be more aware by actively expressing gratitude for the ones we love daily, not only once per year on their birthday because they or we cannot be guaranteed a next one. The latin phrase, Memonto Morti translates to “One day you will die.” This phrase is not meant to be morbid, for it is simply a reminder of how lucky we are to have today because we cannot be guaranteed tomorrow. If this is still too dark of a principle for you to adopt, more popular phrases like Carpe Diem– “Seize the day” or even Drake’s very own, YOLO– “You only live once,” have been coined to embolden this same principle.

Today I encourage all of us to reach out to the ones we love and tell them how much they mean to us. Think about a moment you have experienced with them and indulge in its memory as if it were happening right now. Take notice of your emotions and the feeling of love this experience with this person gave you.

Today we remember those we lost, as well as those we have for the moment. #neverforget

Can Any Form of Focus Be Considered Meditation?

As I lobbed the hackie sack back and forth between each hand, I felt focused. I had been focused on having the hackie sack land into each hand to ensure it did not drop. During this time people have been passing and conversations had been occurring in the distance, but I did not see or hear anything. All I saw was the focus of the ball and my two hands as if my eyes were a camera adjusting the aperture for a clear focus on the hackie sack and blurring the background imagery. My focus was not on time, for it was not on anything but the present moment.

After the conclusion of this brief 3-5 minute focus (some might call it a distraction. To each their own), I realize the feeling in my head and the focus that it ensued was no different than the feeling of focus traditional meditation provides. Meditation encourages all of us to recognize the present, for our minds not to wander. People may paint a generalized image of meditation of one sitting in a quiet room, legs crossed, and eyes closed as waterfall sounds play in the background. This is a perspection of traditional mediation practice of focus on the breath and single-focus.

So, am I suggesting this time of play, throwing a hackie sack diligently from palm to palm could be considered a form of meditation? Yes, I am.

I then began to think of all of the moments in my life when I have felt a similar focus. What I had concluded were moments when I am working out, studying, reading, or writing. The similarities between these activities is the discipline to have a single-focus. Most of the time, when we are truly engaged in such tasks, we do not notice time or distractions. When we are focusing on one current task, our mind IS single focused and is not wandering. We are present.

I often hear of people struggling to maintain the discipline of meditation (myself included), and I think this revelation for myself, at least, has relieved the pressure to find time to practice a 10 minute breathing exercise, and rather encourage me to find an opportunity to meditate in many different ways in my everyday life. By recognizing new forms of meditation, perhaps we can all do a better job in taking advantage of opportunities to be present.

So,

Indulge in that new book you bought

Write a blog post to share with your audience

Free write in your journal

Let’s get creative about meditation and find new ways to engross ourselves in the moment.

Staying Present

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Staying present is a difficult discipline for even the most disciplined. Many encourage a daily practice of mindful meditation to keep us grounded in the present moment. Still, how often do we find ourselves in some other mindless dimension throughout all other parts of the day? It is easy to do! I was doing it right before I started writing this post, which in turn, prompted me to become present in the writing of this post. (Ha.)

We can find ourselves thinking about the strangest things in the strangest moments. For example, I was washing my hands at the sink the other day and questioned, “Why don’t we have upper and lower case numbers? Would we have use for upper and lower case numbers even if we did?” Thought provoking stuff, right? I mean, what exactly in that moment would have prompted such a thought…. Absolutely nothing. This is a prime example of the wondering of the mind. I doubt so many of us are very in touch with the actual action of washing our hands. Do we consider the feel of the water on our skin? The rubbing of our hands together? Unless the water is scorching hot or freezing cold, this is generally a mindless task.

Although I am by no means an expert, probably not even an intermediate-level present-stayer, there are certain practices I try to do throughout the day to remind me of the present moment. One of these practices is the simple, attention to one’s own breath. For me, I enjoy this practice because it is a short and easy way task, listening to a few deep breaths lasting for maybe less than a minute. Here, I am only listening to my breath, not the office chatter around me or thinking about what I am going to eat for dinner tonight. I am only with myself. Next, at work I keep a coin in my pocket, feeling for it when I find myself getting anxious about a task or worrying about something else that I anticipate will soon be asked of me. I then reach into my pocket to find my solace and stops with its touch. Finally, writing. Writing in my journal or writing this very post about a specific thought or idea forces me to focus on just that task at hand. The moment. I encourage the practice of journaling for this very reason.

Find whatever works for you to remind yourself of NOW. After all, as Marcus Aurelius has said, “The present moment is the only thing of which anyone can be deprived, at least if this is the only thing he has and he cannot lose what he has not got.”