5 Ways to Find Balance & Bliss in Daily Life

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Our past does not have to define or confine us. We have the power to choose, now, in this moment, to say YES or NO or MAYBE. We have the power to affect our present and future, yet the wisdom to know that there are many things outside the realm of our control.

Finding our balance is lifelong work. If we were perfectly balanced all the time, that wouldn’t be much fun, would it? We wouldn’t appreciate the times when we find balance because there would be nothing to compare it to, no growth, just a stagnant, too-easy, status-quo balance.

Here are some wonderful ways to cultivate more balance and wellness into our daily lives:

1) When you wake up every day, repeat this Shantideva verse three times (Pema Chodron swears by it):

Just as all the Buddhas of the past
Embraced the awakened attitude of mind,
And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas
Step by step abode and trained,
Just so, and for the benefit of beings,
I will also have this attitude of mind,
And in those precepts, step by step,
I will abide and train myself.

Bodhisattvas are human beings who strive to benefit all beings (including themselves) and choose to stay in the human realm helping inspire everyone to achieve enlightenment. The precepts include a long list of things to avoid (killing, stealing, etc.), the Buddhist version of the ten commandments. What it all boils down to is cultivating openness, honesty, compassion, loving kindness and equanimity. 

2) Be in touch with reality. Remember the simple truths of life: everything changes; be kind and grateful as much as possible; eat things and consume ideas that are wholesome, nourishing, and in alignment with nature.

3) Be in touch with your breath, taking time each day for some yoga and meditation practice, and always cultivating loving relationships with self, family, friends and ultimately all beings and things.

4) Choose to slow down, shed toxicity and be patient. Awareness of how our minds and bodies and hearts work is the first step. Acceptance is the next. And, simultaneously, striving to improve, to be more disciplined yet more spontaneous, more natural and open. I know it’s paradoxical to be content with how things are in this moment and to set goals and achieve them. Life is full of paradox!

Thanks for reading! May this article be of benefit. Please pass it along to someone who could use it, if so inspired!
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Smile Pretty & Abandon Hope.

chapinThe secret to a happy life:

Give up hope.

Or, should I say, hope wisely.

Cultivate wise hope.

In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron writes: “You could even put ‘Abandon hope’ on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations…”

Chapter 7: Hopelessness and Death

“Without giving up hope—that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be—we will never relax with where we are or who we are.”

Unwise hope and fear are two sides of the same corrupt, worthless coin.

Wise hope and wise letting go are two side of the golden coin that will make you rich.

Our minds produce thoughts. From where do those thoughts come? Where do they go? How quickly they come and go. Emotions too.

Meditation does not stop the thoughts from coming.

Mindfulness does not mean you are always happy-go-lucky and living 100% in the present moment.

Meditation is pure awareness, beyond concentration.

Mindfulness is present moment awareness, and the present sometimes (often) includes memories of the past and plans for the future.

Smiling is the universal language of contentment, joy, pleasure, happiness, gratitude, friendship.

Smile pretty. Shine from the inside out. Don’t fake smile.

Notice all the storylines, dramas and expectations constantly being played out in your mind.

Notice what you are hoping will happen. Notice what you are hoping will not happen.

Let go.

Abandon hope.

Put it on your refrigerator.

I’ll Be Happy When…

I’ll be happy when I get that toy I really, really want.

I’ll be happy when I get all As on my report card.

I’ll be happy when I find a best friend.

I’ll be happy when I fall in love.

I’ll be happy when I graduate.

I’ll be happy when I get into my top choice university.

I’ll be happy when I’m not sick.

I’ll be happy when I have enough money to travel.

I’ll be happy when I get an amazing job.

I’ll be happy when I write a book.

I’ll be happy when I find my life partner.

I’ll be happy when I buy my dream house.

I’ll be happy when I get a better car.

I’ll be happy when I have more time to spend with my family and friends.

I’ll be happy when Barack Obama is elected president.

I’ll be happy when I move to another place, maybe even another country.

I’ll be happy when I lose 15 pounds.

I’ll be happy when I can do a handstand.

I’ll be happy when my writing is published.

I’ll be happy when I have my baby.

I’ll be happy when my daughter gets potty trained.

I’ll be happy when I can work from home.

I’ll be happy when I get married.

I’ll be happy when my husband and I have a better relationship.

I’ll be happy when I’m fluent in Spanish.

I’ll be happy when I can do what I want, which is yoga.

I’ll be happy when I quit my job.

I’ll be happy when I sell my house.

I’ll be happy when I get a good night’s sleep.

I’ll be happy when I go on a meditation retreat.

I’ll be happy when I travel through Asia studying the Dharma.

I’ll be happy when there is world peace.

I’ll be happy when I retire.

I’ll be happy when I die.

(Or not.)

What if happiness is not dependent on these conditions?

What if I could be happy, right here, right now, even though my life isn’t perfect and never will be?

What if I could be happy with my aches and irritations and concerns and duties?

I am happy just to breathe. I am alive.

I am happy just to have food, water, shelter, clothing and love. I am grateful.

I am happy just to hug and play with my beautiful little girl. I am happy just to be her mamá.

I am happy just to trust and respect my partner. I am loved and loving.

I am happy like the songbirds, even when it’s raining.

I am happy like the lilies in bloom, even knowing I will wither and pass away sooner or later.

I am happiest when I am like water, when I let go and go with the flow.

When will you be happy?

What’s stopping you from being happy, just where you are, right now, today?

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How do I want to spend the rest of my life?

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. ~Oscar Wilde

mind full iconI live in questions. It helps me thrive. Being open-minded (and open-hearted) is incompatible with anxiety and depression. Instead of seeking concrete answers, I aim to dwell in the questions, look deeply at details, and remember that the answers are always unfolding and evolving with time.

This morning, this question came: How do I want to spend the rest of my life?

It’s a question you could ask yourself every day.

The phrasing of the question strikes me. It’s not asking where, nor “what I want to do” with the rest of my precious existence in this particular incarnation. It’s asking how.

Maybe it’s an obvious question, but because I’ve been so focused on the where and what rather than the how, this question feels rather revolutionary.

So, I’ve been pondering and responding to it in various journals all day long. Mostly prose, some doodling. And, a poem:

How do I want to spend the rest of my life?

Living in questions
Gazing at violet sunsets
Loving deeply
Inviting intensity
Cherishing the moment
Thanking life
Learning precious lessons
Teaching yoga
Practicing nonstop mindfulness
Writing poems
Breathing with equanimity
Generating compassion

~

I know I’m moving in June, because I have decided to move in June, but I don’t know where. I’ve been in a state of major fertile confusion regarding my future. I signed up for an international teaching job fair in San Francisco in mid-February, but I am more intrigued by the possibility of moving to nearby Lake Atitlán than by the idea of starting over in a totally new foreign city where I know no one and don’t speak the language.

Fear is holding me back from “taking the dive,” as it were. Having acknowledged that, I will sit with and experience the fear rather than hide from it. Is it fear of being poor? As a school teacher in Asia, I could put away up to $20K per year in the bank; as a school teacher in a Guatemalan pueblo, I’d make just enough money to cover my living expenses. But there’s always the variable yoga teaching income to consider. With regard to my still somewhat blurry vision for expanding Yoga Freedom, which would be SO IDEAL to do at the lake, is it fear of failure? Or of success?

This gem from Free Will Astrology landed in my inbox this afternoon and made me feel better.

Let me remind you who you really are: You’re an immortal freedom fighter who longs to liberate all sentient creatures from their suffering. You’re a fun-loving messiah who devoutly wants to help all of your fellow messiahs claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright.

Yeah! I am!

How do I want to spend the rest of my life? Writing, teaching, healing, traveling, serving, loving, expanding. Moving as gracefully as possible from moment to moment. As for the specifics, I’ll figure those out in due time, I trust.

I also stumbled upon this wisdom on “The Optimism of Uncertainty” by Howard Zinn:

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world . . . An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

¿Y tú?

How do you want to spend the rest of your life?

December 10 – Ananda (Joy)

A positive frame of mind is a habit. How have you silenced the propaganda factory of negativity with positive thought and behavior in your life in 2011? How has this changed your day-to-day being?
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Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
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Heidi Johnson provided today’s reverb prompt.