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Claude

I was thinking about my last post on Stillness, and something came into my head. I’d written a post on stillness about 7 years ago but from a very different angle – a lighter and more humorous one. So for those of you who weren’t checking me out back then, here’s a revisit of something I learned about relaxation, a corollary of stillness. Pictured is my handsome Claude, still missed, the Master of Relaxation.

Have you ever noticed the positions your animals get into? They make it look as if they invented the word `relax’. They stretch out, especially in the heat, so every potential draft will ease slowly over their languid bodies. They make it look so damn easy.
Now you might think that this is a comment on my own inability to relax, which is far from the truth. In fact, it brings to mind an experience of many moons ago when my then-husband came home to find me lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling or into space. He asked what was I doing?
I said “nothing.”
With an incredulous look on his face, he said, “What do you mean, nothing?”
“I mean nothing. I’m doing nothing. As in, nothing.” Seemed pretty clear to me.
“How could you just be doing nothing,” he asked. “You have to be doing something!”
Now THIS was a man who had a hard time relaxing!
I tried to search for what it was I was doing, and all I came up with was … in trying to satisfy the question … “I guess I’m daydreaming .. or just thinking.”
And then, with the same confused face, he asked, “How can you just lie there and do nothing?”
Well, I thought I had just come up with an answer as to what I was doing, but I let that go, and said, “Here, just lie down, and kind of stare into space and let your mind relax. You know, just drift around a bit.”
He lay down and for all intents and purposes, assumed the position one would take if they were to relax. He looked up at the ceiling.
Then he looked at me.
“I don’t know how you can just do nothing. I can’t do nothing.”
I don’t really remember what happened after that, except that he wasn’t next to me anymore. Probably feeling guilty for now having the audacity to have actually spent a few moments of my life doing nothing, I’m sure I joined him and made it my business to start doing something.
But I think the animals still have the right idea. They have learned the fine art of doing nothing, of just being in the moment. They stretch out … close their eyes … take a deep breath and they’re off into dreamland or wherever animals go when they close their eyes. We have such a lot to learn from them … and this is one of their best lessons.

Stillness

Being still is one of the most wonderful and simple ways we can manage our lives, our feelings, our stress, our actions … you name it.

Journaling2I try, and generally succeed, to journal every day in the morning. Julia Cameron, author of  The Artist’s Way, refers to this as a “morning dump,” getting rid of all the garbage we’re holding in our heads so we can begin the day fresh and with minimal interference from negativity. While she is recommending this for artists, it is, of course, of the same benefit to everyone. I do love to write so this is a wonderful and freeing piece of time, a gift to myself which I do not allow to be disturbed. It’s a great way to sort out some of the stresses and problems we’re dealing with and look at them afresh, as well as plan a new day.

It’s more than that, however. It’s also a time for stillness. Along with my writing, I often take a few minutes to do any of the following — center my breathing, meditate a little, read something metaphysical, and/or do a few affirmations. The stillness is a tremendous benefit to beginning the day, but it also teaches us that we can Meditating2practice stillness any time things starts to get stressful. When we are still, we connect spiritually with ourselves and with our God, higher power, however one perceives that. We open and can listen for guidance.

There are times during certain work projects that I am ready to up and buy myself a ticket on the Crazy Train, it gets so stressful. But if I can remember to pull back, change my scenery just a wee bit, and breathe rhythmically and easily, restore my balance and be still, it can do wonders. Ideally it’s best to do this way before I’m at the ticket booth, but better late than never!

So consider, as your stress and anxiety begin to mount, that you can do something about it before it gets out of hand. Be still and breathe for a minute or two, opening your mind and releasing negativity. It may take a little practice at first, and the beginning of your day is a great time to try it out along with a little journaling. Both are gifts to and for yourself.

A fellow writer and book-loving friend of mine just sent me this link, and as I have a moment, I want to share it that more people will get to see it. Please share.

We have all read books that were in some way life-changing. In this YouTube video series named “Call Me Ishmael,” a fellow, (named Ishmael), transcribes and shares a voicemail of one person each day telling about a book they love. In this day’s video you will hear the call made by a young man named Ethan whose mother was a crack addict and the books that quite literally saved his life. Not to be missed.

MiraclesNow-GBernstein2We have often heard when the student is ready the teacher arrives. Sometimes that teacher arrives in person, at other times, in the form of an author and her book.  Recently a friend bestowed a lovely gift on me, a book by a metaphysical author of whom I’ve been unaware, Gabrielle Bernstein.

In her book, Miracles Now, Gabrielle, (she feels like a friend already), gives us 108 simple tools that we can all apply right now to help ease our stress, feel happier, and find our path in life. These may be in the form of affirmations, meditations, (both short and long), quick ways to change our thoughts, etc. Today – and yesterday – I”m reading the same one – #46. Measure Your Success with How Much Fun You’re Having.

Uh-oh. I suddenly felt I must be failing miserably! Not that I don’t have fun, I do, but as a measure of my success? Hmmm … Methinks I need to up my success rate!

I can’t imagine that this doesn’t strike a chord with anyone reading this post. We are often told by our spiritual teachers and guides that we need to find the joy in the moment – to not worry about the past, because it’s gone, nor the future, because it hasn’t arrived, but to cherish and enjoy the present moment, the never-again-to-be-repeated-NOW. We all know that this is not always that simple … we’re human and live in a challenging world. But I don’t think there’s a one of us that couldn’t bear being happier; however, that means taking responsibility for it, too.

So while success is often measured in what we have or what we do, Gabrielle Bernstein affirms what I think most of us really know to be true; “happiness is an inside job.” Our job is to stay in the flow with joy and let pass all the things in life which we cannot control. Her Miracle Message is “I measure my success by how much fun I’m having.”

Here’s a toast to all of us being enormously successful!

 

In the humane field, we see a great deal of cruelty and insensitivity to animals. It can be frustrating. It can be heartbreaking. It can be soul-wrenching.

But we can never forget that there are also many, many kind people in the world as well. Below is a video of a few of those kind, everyday people who know that a life is worth saving. And which, as the caption says, can restore your faith in humanity in 4 minutes flat. Enjoy.

BookOfLife-DHarkness2There’s always a sense of being a bit lost after finishing a fabulous book, not to mention the third and final in a fabulous series. Here I am referring to Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life, the final in the All Souls Trilogy. But couple that with just having seen the movie, Lucy – well, what will I read or watch that will measure up to either of them?

I can tell you the movie it isn’t and that’s August: Osage County. Great cast, but maybe I’m just not in the mood for such a visually dark movie about family dysfunction, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide. And that was the first 20 minutes. All that was needed to take it out of the DVD player.

Lucy-MovieI searched my many awaiting library sale books – I realized that after Diana Bishop in The Book of Life and Scarlett Johanson in Lucy, I needed to read about another brave heroine, as totally different as those two were. Probably neither this book series nor the movie is for everyone, but both amazed and captured me. (If interested this is a description of Lucy, but it does tell you how it ends, too, and here is Deborah Harkness’ website for more info on the All Souls Trilogy.)

After a search, I came up with Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, whom I know as a brilliant writer in another venue, picture books. Its book jacket describes it as a companion to The Giver, but it is a story that also stands independent of that book. I’m hoping Kira is the heroine who will further capture my imagination.

p.s. Cheers to our small town library! Not only had our librarian remembered my interest in reading The Book of Life, but she e-mailed me the moment it came in to let me know. When I returned it, I asked if  The Giver by Lois Lowry might be there, and sure enough, it was. With the movie so close to opening, I expected there’d be a waiting list to read it, but this is  small town … and it has its advantages, this one of many.

This morning I felt called to look into my little metaphysical perpetual calendar, and as always, what I found was perfect for my day.

MonumentValleyAZ-2

“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.”
~ Carlos Castaneda

There are times in our lives when our path seems to disappear from view. We’ve been drawn down paths to the side that beckon and call, needing or demanding our attention – finances, relationship conflicts, illness, the illness or death of others, job worries, and other challenges and distractions. These paths can lead deeper and deeper into a woods of fading light until we feel quite lost. And then we remember, we have a thread — a simple, single luminous thread to follow. That thread glows more brightly with each step we take out of the darkness to find again the glowing path that is uniquely ours.

MistyForest2

May you walk your path — find or refind it — happily and bravely today. May your path be illuminated by the shimmering white light that is you and the Universe, one and the same. May it leave you breathless.

~ stilladreamer

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