Monday, August 27, 2012

my cave

When I began meditating every day I started to dream more, or perhaps I became better at remembering my dreams as I woke up. There are two things that repeatedly appear in my dreams; water and animals.

My amateurish interpretation based on those dreams, is that (for me) water represents my subconscious feelings, and animals symbolize obstacles and hindrances.

In a dream that I had about the same time as I was starting my Happiness Project, I found myself lying on a floor of a dark cave. The cave had three openings, in each opening there was a sleeping grizzly bear. Behind the bears I could see the bright blue sky, the sun, the grass...

My first thought in the dream was why I had been left in this cave, why I had to deal with this alone. How was I possibly going to get out of this situation without any help. Then I realized that the openings were quite big, and as long as I could slowly and quietly stand up, i.e. without waking up the bears, I would be able to escape.

Then I woke up.

It occurred to me later that the happiness project was about "standing up". Or at least that the first step in my project should be to about standing up; becoming stronger, more positive and more self confident. This entails working on my codependency issues. It means that I need to take better care of my self, and have more respect for myself. It means I need to accept what is, and take responsibility for what is not right in my life. It means getting rid of all the clutter, mental as well as physical. This is all gradually happening. But there is still work to do.

As I am prioritizing my tasks and resolutions for my happiness project, I am keeping this in mind. My job now is to prepare, to get ready, to make space for new goals, bigger dreams, and more happiness.

And I am excited to see what happens as I make my escape.

Friday, August 24, 2012

the why?

At the moment I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed by everything that I want to achieve in my life, as well as everything that needs to be done. The happiness project, and my resolution charts have been of great help in shifting my daily routine so that it is better aligned with my goals and values, but I feel I still need to regularly step back and gain a better perspective. To remind myself where I want to go. As I was thinking about this in the last couple of days I came across the following quotes/ideas:

Why are you doing what you are doing?
I was at a job-related workshop where a woman was talking about marketing strategies. She emphasized that we should always be asking ourselves why we are doing what we are doing. Is it out of habit? Is it to please other people and/or social norms? Or does what you are doing have a true value for you and your goals (and happiness)?

You can do anything, but not everything (David Allen, author of Getting Things Done)
In particular you can not do everything at the same time! This one has been difficult for me to accept (and I am not quite there yet), there are so many things that I want to do. But often I spread myself way too thin, and in the end become exhausted without achieving anything. Focusing on too many things is not efficient, or an effective way to reach your goals.

I don't know anyone who focused on what they wanted, worked on it daily, and didn’t achieve it (Kyle Cease)
I came across this quote on another blog, and thought it was a nice reminder, and an inspiration to think big, to prioritize my goals, and to make room to work on the most important ones EVERY DAY.

So these are my tasks for the weekend:
  • Examine my habits, my choices, my resolutions and ask "the why"?
  • List my goals - and prioritize them.
  • Simplify my resolutions and my routine where I can.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, August 20, 2012


I've been on a vacation for the last 10 days. I had hoped to be able to maintain my happiness routine during my days off, but it's been 10 days since I last meditated, a week since I last exercised, and other resolutions such as lighting a candle, drinking 2 cups of green tea per day, making sure everyone takes their vitamins....have been completely ignored.

However, I think it has been healthy to take a short vacation from my resolution. It gives me a better sense of which ones are important and worth keeping, and which ones I can let go off. I still have couple of more days before I'll get back to my routine. I am going to enjoy these days. Enjoy being. But I am also looking forward to getting back on track:)

Friday, August 10, 2012

being here & now

Being here and now sounds so simple. Yet it is so difficult for most of us. Our mind is constantly dragging us into our past and into our future. It is making up scenarios and stories. It is obscuring the present with all these thoughts, 90% of which may be completely useless, even harmful.

The main message in Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment is that we are NOT our minds. Our mind is a tool, a great tool when used wisely. But a tool that should not consume us, and not take us over completely. The mind keeps us from the present, and being present, being in the NOW is the key to enlightenment.

One of the main goals of meditating is exactly to regain the power of our minds. To be able to turn it off for a moment and experience our inner being. And in doing so, it strengthens our core, our true self, so gradually our true self doesn't get blocked out as much by our egoistic mind.

And while meditation is great, and a wonderful instrument, the ultimate goal is to find the stillness, the peace, the wisdom that you experience during meditation, in every moment of your life. We should be able to experience this whether we are working, exercising, talking, walking...but it is a muscle that needs to be trained. Tolle describes the ability to be fully in the Now as almost a shortcut to enlightenment, as it is all that you need, and it is always available to you. The problem of course is that embracing the moment is quite difficult for most people - and it takes practice.

how to be in the now?
  • Meditate. I think meditation is a great first step. If you meditate regularly, even for just a few minutes every day, you will experience the peace that comes with a quiet mind - and hence you know what you are looking for in the Now.
  • Watch your mind. Don't fight it, but observe it. Observe your thoughts, your negative or positive self-talk. Your stories. This is so unbelievably eye-opening.
  • Exercise. Some people find inner peace when they are exercising. Perhaps if you are pushing yourself to the limit, you are forced into the Now, forced to turn off your uncontrollable mind for the time being. My own experience is quite the opposite. When I exercise, my mind is usually unstoppable. I can't stop thinking about how much I loathe exercising, how I would rather be at home drinking coffee, eating pastries and listening to Tom Waits records, how I can't go on for freakin' 10 more minutes, etc. etc. But these days as I go for a run, I try to shut my brain down. I focus on the now. Put on my running shoes, turn on my ipod, just start running. Then (and here it gets more difficult for me) as I am running, I try to focus only on the now, my breathing, my surroundings, my body, my music. Just observing, not judging.
  • Listen to others. I really want to be able to listen to others fully and completely. Not be occupied with what I will say when it is my turn to talk. But just be present and listen with my whole body.
  • Listen to yourself. I think it is also valuable to listen to your own voice. Any negativity, resistance, and worries that go through your mind - can be heard in your voice if you listen carefully. Stay with your voice and learn from it.
  • Feel your inner body. Tolle emphasizes this in his book, and this truly leads to an amazing feeling. And an amazing realization when you discover how disconnected from your body you are most of the time. Focus on the inside, on your feelings and what happens inside your body as you get stressed, as you become joyful, anxious, excited...Feel your whole body whatever you are doing. Do this while you meditate, and then try it as you walk, as you listen, as you exercise, as you eat. Amazing.

The Power of Now is perhaps not a book for everyone. Maybe you need to be fluffy enough to enjoy it:) And at times I found the tone of the book to be slightly arrogant. But nevertheless I would recommend it for anyone who is looking for an inspiration to become more aware, more present, more in the Now. Below are a few quotes from the book that I found worth highlighting:

A victim identity is the belief that the past is more powerful than the present, which is the opposite of the truth.

Do what you have to do. In the meantime, accept what is.

The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to the past and future...

Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.

When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution. So whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you can find the life underneath your life situation.

It is true that only an unconscious person will try to use or manipulate others, but it is equally true that only an unconscious person can be used and manipulated.

As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out of present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love - even the most simple action.

The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. You no longer depend on the future for fulfillment and satisfaction - you don't look to it for salvation.

Negativity is never the optimum way of dealing with any situation.

To complain is always nonacceptance of what is.

If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. No excuses. No negativity. No psychic pollution. Keep your inner space clear.

You can improve your life situation, but you cannot improve your life. Life is primary. Life is your deepest inner Being. It is already whole, complete, perfect.

The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That's all there ever is.

Monday, August 6, 2012

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-by Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, August 2, 2012

August: Impeccable Family

Be present, treasure the moment, let out your inner child

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."
-Albert Einstein

In August I want to focus on family and parenting. I am so happy that my project has already helped a lot when it comes to doing a better job as a mom. I can see how, as I have become a happier person myself, my kids have become happier and more balanced. There are less tantrums (on both sides) and much more joy. This was one of the fundamental reasons that I wanted to do a happiness project. Hence I am truly grateful to see these positive effects, after just 2 months.

Of course there is still plenty of room for improvement. I want to have more fun with my kids, be more present for them, treasure the time that I have with them, make sure that I treat them with the same respect as I treat adults, and help them to grow up to be happy, strong, confident and independent individuals.

I am also going to use this month to reach out to my parents, siblings, and in-laws. For example by calling them and sending them pictures and news of the kids.

My August Resolutions

  • play and be silly
  • watch my tone
  • no snapping
  • talk with my children
  • teach them something new
  • sing and dance
  • establish a family morning routine
  • teach my daughter to tidy up her room before she goes to sleep
  • take more photos

My August Tasks

  • This month's reading list: "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (How to Help Your Child)", "The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment", plus a couple of H.C. Andersen's Fairy Tales.
  • Think about my pleasures of childhood
  • Call my mom, dad, siblings, and in-laws
  • Send photos and a "newsletter" to closest family
  • Make a list of old and new family traditions
  • Paint the kids' room
  • Frame and hang up kids' art and family photos
  • Create a "family mission statement"
  • Read about home-schooling and un-schooling
  • Organize the memorabilia: write in my children's diaries, put photos in "my son's first photo album", find better ways to organize and store their and my own memorabilia.

Happy month of August!