In Case You Forgot: Let Me Remind You.

This morning, blessed by the visit of the breeze tiptoeing its way from the yawning shoreline, along with the light percussive rhythm of my alarm clock, slowly increasing in tempo and volume, I woke up.

For the first time in days, weeks, months, I woke up. Out of my literal and spiritual slumber. I woke. I didn’t turn off my alarms until the last possible second for the first time in months. I chose to rise.

I’ve spent weeks to months of attempting to navigate through a multitude of different situations, some troubling experiences, adjusting to changes in schedule and workload, and feeling at times, scatter-brained, confused, uncertain of what course of action to take next.

Finally, and miraculously, I arrive at today. Right here, right now. This moment.

Most people who know me relatively well believe me to be an eternal optimist, someone who truly believes in the power of positive thinking.

That said, we all have times in our lives when we struggle more heavily than others, not only with meeting all of our responsibilities, but also fitting in time to do all the little things we enjoy that keep us entertained, happy and at peace with where we’re at: physically, emotionally, perhaps intellectually, and spiritually. These past few months have been one of those times for me.

When I think about who I am as a person, I often tell myself that the seeds of worry and over-thinking are innate in me. I accept that, and I’ve spent the formative years of my life recognizing it, grappling with it, and learning how to change my patterns of thinking, or rather, just to sometimes STOP thinking, and just be.  Over the course of the past few years, I was able to really embrace being mindful, allowing time to meditate and be present, making a point to drop my worry and over-thinking tendencies, whenever I started to feel slightly overwhelmed. I was in control of my life. But, naturally, we can’t always be totally cool, calm, collected and in control of every aspect of our lives.

Lately, due to a combination of personal experiences and increased responsibilities, I’ve done the opposite of what I’ve always found most helpful in times like these: I’ve allowed myself to become consumed in my barrage of non-stop thought, not allowing myself time to slow down and to just simply be. I’ve been aware of falling into this pattern for the past few weeks or so, and I started setting little goals in my mind to help get out of my head and back into living in a more centered way. One of those things included to start waking up a few hours earlier, whether it’s to plan for work, to get a work out in, to just sit and take my time waking up and drinking my coffee, and collect my thoughts and get organized before starting the day.  This morning, I did just that.

 Somehow, the chill of the morning ocean breeze, seeming to signal what Southern California calls “Fall”, shook me awake and whispered something about a fresh perspective.

Thankfully, I was awake enough to hear it. 

Today, I reaffirmed a conscious choice for my life: no matter how much I am dealing with, personally or professionally, I am going to do my very best to allow myself the time to be centered in all that I do. 

For those of you who may be struggling with similar issues, in case you’ve forgotten your way as well, I’ll leave you with this quote, that speaks to the root of this issue in the most simplified and best way I know:

“The blue sky is always there, above the clouds.”-Rumi

 

-AK

Delete the Di$tr@cti0ns: Right Mindfulness (Post 7/8 Eight-fold path)

Post 7/8 in #eightweeksofmindfulness posts.

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”- Thich Nhat Hanh

How often do you find yourself frustrated or mentally drained in the course of the work day or week?
How often do you find yourself wishing for more moments of clarity, of joy?

I am willing to bet that most of us wouldn’t consciously turn down an opportunity to be happier or at peace on a daily, even moment to moment basis– the key word being consciously.

While most of us genuinely do want to be more happy, more at ease, we often turn down the opportunity to be, when it arises.

What I mean by this is that present moment is a gift which we can decide to appreciate, or to discard. Oftentimes, it is easy for one to become caught up in what may seem like daunting routines of work, school, and other endless priorities which create the illusion that there is no slowing down.

It is often at these times, when life seems full of nothing but complete chaos, that it is perhaps most imperative to just take maybe five minutes out of your day, to sit in silence, to clear your mind and just be. It may sound trivial, or like a cake-walk, but I see it as a challenge.

At least for myself, as a graduate student, juggling two jobs, trying to create art, I have this constant nagging bit of myself that yaps in the back of my mind to “be productive”. It is a challenge for me sometimes to turn that voice in my head off, and allow myself to just being. I trust that many others have a similar experience in the modern world we live in.

Imagine: five minutes, without a screen in front of your eyes, no scrolling through Facebook, instagram, twitter, whatever.

Just allow yourself to be excused from the distractions and sit with being.

Developing the habit of taking a few moments, regularly for yourself, for your own clarity, and your own peace, will allow you to greet your responsibilities with a renewed sense of calm, to engage in interactions with others in a much more inviting way.

Right Mindfulness is allowing yourself to be attentive to your mental state, and how you relate to the world around you. It is allowing yourself time and space. It is allowing yourself to access the abundant joy which exists here and now.

With this post, I invite you to go inward for however long your busy schedule allows, to bring about awareness in each moment, and to be full of joy that you are living it.

-A.K.

YOUR ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN: ur new years resolution fb post

Right Action
Post 4/8 of #8weeksofmindfulness based on the Eight-fold path in Buddhism

With our world fast approaching the New Year in the hours to come, we will all be clutching our cell phones, laptops, tablets, fingertips poised for posting our statuses, tweets, or blog posts about our New Years Resolutions, how this one will be different, etc.

However different 2k15 may turn out to be, there is one thing that will inevitably remain the same: our continued connection to each other.

We will continue to be interdependent beings in 2015, whether we like it or not. We will still all continue to share this thing called human connection. We will share our stories and experiences with one another, and we will ultimately influence and impact each others lives, both directly and indirectly.

HAVING SAID THAT, Why not help to improve the quality of life for those around us?

While I don’t particularly believe in the significance of New Years resolutions, I do believe in goals: long-term, short-term, big and small. I constantly set little goals (and big goals) of not only things I would like to achieve, but also, things I would like to improve on physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually.

If you are looking for some goals to discover a healthier, more positive version of yourself, or for a renewed outlook to start off the year with, a good place to start may be with examining your actions. Below are the five main aspects of Right Action from the eight-fold path the Buddha taught:

1) Respect life 2) Generosity 3) Avoid Physical misconduct 4) Loving speech and deep listening 5) Nourishment of your body

A little elaboration:

Focusing in on respecting all forms of life can allow us to appreciate the beauty and miracle that exists within all life forms. In this year we can remind ourselves to not take that for granted.

We can be generous with our presence and effort towards others. By doing so, we demonstrate genuine compassion for others. We care for others, and perhaps, in turn, are cared for. We are unselfish in our actions. We can choose to make the happiness of others a priority before our own.

In the physical misconduct category, the Buddha primarily taught of the dangers of sexual misconduct, which are issues of attachment and desire. I would venture further to include all physical misconduct, to any form of violence, physical harm towards another being.

Next, We can choose to offer loving speech and to listen deeply to the people in our lives in order to better understand them, their concerns and needs, because, sometimes, all we really need is to be heard, really heard.

Lastly, we can focus on nourishing our bodies. We can choose to make healthier choices to take better care of ourselves (whatever that may mean for you, specifically). Maybe, it’s to finally stop smoking, to eat more vegetables, or stop binge eating junk foods and learn to eat them in moderation.

The Buddha sums up Right Action in a small section of the Dhammapada:

“Watching his speech, well restrained in mind, let a man never commit wrong with his body. Let a man keep these three roads of action clear, and he will achieve the way which is taught by the wise.”

The moral to this story is simply that we are allowed to take baby steps to our self-improvement. We need not make some elaborate, extreme resolution of how we are going to become radically different in the next few hours.

We can simply make a continuous, positive effort to improve our world, by allowing mindfulness and compassion into our hearts, minds and extending this into our actions and our interactions with others.

With that, I would like to wish you all the very happiest of New Years!

Namaste ॐ

“The scent of flowers does not travel against the wind, nor that of sandalwood, or of Tagara and Mallika flowers; but the odor of good people travels even against the wind; A good man pervades every place.”
-The Buddha

-A.K.

Understanding Our World (Right View & the Eight-fold Path)

Post 1 of 8 of 8 weeks of Mindfulness, centered on the eight-fold path in Buddhism(As promised! But a little delayed)

While each part of the eight-fold path intersects and relates to the others, my goal is to focus on each aspect of the path for a week, as a personal mindfulness practice, and share it with you.

A little background:

         Right View/ Understanding is the first part of the eight-fold path. Essentially, it is the idea of understanding the world and everything in it as it is, not in distorted ways according to the tricks of our own minds, not through the lens of our self-constructed delusions. Choosing to focus on Right View is choosing to tune into your life, deeply, paying attention to your relationships: familial, friendships, coworkers,to tune into your attitudes about yourself, other people and the various happenings of the world.

We all have little delusions we allow ourselves to believe (believe it or not HAH!) and sometimes when we are caught up in the cycle of our every day routines, we are not fully conscious of them. This is an invitation to be conscious:of actions,words, perceptions, thoughts, attitudes. This is the beginning. Simply becoming aware can be extremely fruitful in deepening our understanding of ourselves.

For me, I think the most important parts of Right View are attention, honesty and acceptance. If I pay attention to my thought patterns, habits, actions and I am honest with myself about my realizations, I can accept these things as they are, and I can also decide if I want to make changes in my thoughts, habits, actions. If I do not pay attention or I am dishonest with myself, then I am not truly allowing room to be the best version of me. This is why I find mindfulness to be so important. It helps us to help ourselves be healthy and happy, and effectively improves the health and happiness of all our relations, if we choose it. Perhaps it will open new doors in your relationships, perhaps you will learn some things about yourself, some things about your partner, perhaps you will simply begin to notice little things you didn’t notice before, and in actuality, aren’t so little, after all.

That said, I hereby challenge myself to really pay attention to what my mind is telling me and to decide for myself, in my heart, if it is also true there. Maybe you think your life is perfect, your relationships are perfect, your habits are all perfect. That’s wonderful.

However, I am willing to bet that if you sit quietly with yourself for a moment, that you will find there is room for improvement somewhere. Why not give mindfulness a chance, and see what it can offer you in your life? I have a strong feeling you won’t be disappointed. On that note, I am extending the invitation to take part in this journey on the beginnings of awareness. I would love to hear feedback on what arises for you. 

Here’s to perhaps uncomfortable, laughable and beautiful moments of discovery.

(to be continued)

Happy week 1 of Mindfulness ! =)

-A.K.

Coming Soon: 8 Weeks of Mindfulness

It seems like just as good of a time as any to get centered on the spiritual, as we approach the holiday season in the U.S. and other parts of the world. For eight weeks, I will focus on one factor of the eight-fold path of Buddhism each week and post about it.  Stay tuned for the first post in the next few days!

Here are the eight parts of the path:

1.Right view

2. Right intention

3.Right speech

4. Right action

5. Right livelihood

6. Right effort

7. Right  mindfulness

8. Right concentration