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Ah, but did you know the rain does not know that it is rain? And that the birds do not know that they are birds? And where does the rain end and the birds begin? And my pain, is it really mine? Does it have the beginning? The end?
From “Kabbalah, a Love Story” by Rabbi Kushner, “we have a word for leaf, twig, branch, trunk, roots. The words make it easier for us to categorize and comprehend reality. But we must not think that just because we have words for all parts of a tree, a tree really has all those parts. The leaf does not know, for instance, when it stops being a leaf and becomes a twig. And the trunk is not aware that it has stopped being a trunk and has become the roots. Indeed, the roots do not know when they stop being roots and become soil, nor the soil the moisture, not the moisture the atmosphere, not the atmosphere the sunlight. All our names are arbitrarily superimposed on what is, in truth, the seamless unity of all being”.
Once in a while, you read something so precious, so delicious, so inspiring, that you must share it with others. As I watch this gorgeous morning take hold outside my window, I feel the breeze enter my breathing passages and caress my skin, the birdsongs echo each other in the tippy tops of the trees, the rain cool and nourishing, a cacophony of joy, beauty, awakening. Grateful to give up control, to not resist, to lose over and over again, self, inside this magnificent unity.
For a mom who never really stayed home during the day (I worked full time corporate then ran our family retail business), my ME time went away almost entirely when my first child was born, and disappeared completely when the other two came about. There simply wasn’t any! Every minute was filled with caring, working, producing, assisting, and with great pleasure. I knew that was what I chose and that was my life now. I did not know that one day I would miss ME and no longer recognize ME inside this stressed, busy, not present, aging woman that I have become. And that finding ME again would be an option once I recognized that ME was gone, or hiding for that matter. To discover ME again, I started a morning routine. I know, I know, you already don’t get enough rest, you are not a morning person, you have too much to do in the morning, you need to give that time to your kids, you significant other, your pets, your hair, your job, the gym…but really, do this for you. I started getting up one hour earlier than usual. Make it 5:30, sometimes 6 AM. My daughter needs to be up between 6:30-7AM for middle school so I based my time off her schedule. Was it hard? Yes, it was, especially in the winter when I started this, and the darkness outside made it seem like I was getting up in the middle of the night. But I did it and I am so, so grateful for that choice. The very first part of my routine is Meditation. After listening to many different choices available, I have settled on one that Maria Popova recommended in one of her interviews, Tara Brach, a wonderful soothing spiritual teacher, who provides mutliple wonderful guided meditations on her website http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html. She always invites you to smile from the inside of your mouth and to continue your silence with a smile, which feels really amazing and fills your entire being with light and joy. I have to admit sometimes I feel sleepy and sort of doze off during this, but forcing myself to sit upright and straighten my spine usually helps matters. Tara Brach has meditations from 10 to over 40 minutes so you can pick whatever your heart desires. Of course, there are many other great guided programs available on youtube. After meditation, I most often do my affirmations. These are very personal of course, but for me they have to do with self-esteem, independence, writing, and fearlessness. I believe your affirmations can be chosen based on your goals and also where you feel your weaknesses are in achieving them. I loved Lawrence Block’s book on writing, which was actually a writer’s seminar made into a book, and he has many wonderful affirmations that will suit anyone, not just writers or aspiring authors. Such as, “I am perfect the way I am right here, right now”, or “I now receive full assistance and cooperation from all forces and persons necessary for my success”. After affirmations, I do some sort of exercise, like a 10 min pilates video or a pop sugar fitness workout, or I just do some squats, leg lifts and arms raises with free weights. After that, I sit down and do my writing. It is usually either a blog post, an extra paragraph or two added to the novel I am working on, or perhaps a few pages of my upcoming non-fiction book. This is the time to do what you love, and if writing isn’t your thing, perhaps you can read or just keep a journal where you can set your goals for the day or the week. Then I go and make our morning coffee and let the day begin. I find that my days are now much smoother, I accomplish more, I worry less, and I feel more fulfilled and joyful as an individual. When I miss my morning routine for a day or two, I can clearly tell the difference and it isn’t a positive one.
The early morning sky
There is no changing it
The orange glow where the sun will start its journey
Lights up the purple right above it blending into yellow
Then the blue vast as magnitude of what my eyes can see
And only I can see because I am watching
Because I am here and now I observe
I start with nothing and I fill myself with this color
A lonely bird in flight someplace unknown
Peaceful and content
Knowing that all is as it should be.
Nobody really knows how we arrive to certain decisions in life and whether the paths we choose are the ones we were meant to follow. Through my recent practice of morning meditation, learning, writing and making affirmations, I have arrived at a life changing decision. I will not share what this decision is, only that I have been contemplating it for a long time, probably knew many moons ago that it was the true choice for me, but was not ready.
What I do want to share is that no matter where you are in life, what pain you have, what challenges you face, what struggles you find yourself in the midst of, it is discovering your personal truth that will help you, and realizing there is no other way but living that truth and choosing that truth. Kamal Ravikant was a great inspiration in my journey, and even reading his “Love yourself…” book did not get me there, but continual practice of actually loving and forgiving myself, even if just in words, being okay with feeling the way I am feeling, letting myself just be there and be at peace, that is what finally got me there to the top of the mountain, to the big decision that I now know is my truth. In the times of pain, I close my eyes and I speak the “I love myself” words, I breathe deeply and feel my body connected to the universe, I see it pixellated and not really separate from the air around it, and I feel calm. I tell myself that everything is going according to my truth and I will get there when I am supposed to. My mom recalled when I was small in nursery school, I would console myself while crying, saying “It’s Okay Genya, please don’t cry, it will be okay, Genya, stop crying, please”. She said it was the funniest thing, the way I would talk to myself through bawling like crazy. Well, over the years I have forgotten how to do that, and now I have learned again. I have it within to heal my pain and to choose the life of truth, joy, kindness, and abundance today, within, and yes, Kamal, I can feel my wings growing.
Learning today is easier than ever! We have access to the world’s greatest teachers, gurus, and all sorts of experts at our fingertips. You think you have no time, but I bet you can easily pass a college course’s curriculum while driving the kids to and from afterschool activities or during your commute to and from work. You can subscribe to the podcasts of individuals that you respect, or simply search by what you are interested in. Podcasts and free and informative. The ones I recommend for everyone are Achieve Your Goals with Hal Erlod (the author of Miracle Morning), The Tim Ferris Show (Choose interviews with the guests you admire), Operation Self Reset, Tara Brach (for meditations), The Startup School with Seth Godin, these are just a few I follow on my phone and I have to say they keep me inspired and on my “high flying disk” of being aligned with universe and promote the flow of creative juices. Morning meditations are a breeze as you can look up and find any type of guided meditation and music on youtube. My kindle gives me samples of books I want to explore and purchase if I like what I read. If a choice is between playing candy crush which teaches nothing and is a complete waste of time using the same technology in my pocket and learning something new which in turn stimulates thinking and creating, I choose the latter.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Henry Ford
At the start of this year I made a decision that I want to commit to myself to a pursuit of intellect. I’m already a bit of a nerd, so this wasn’t really an alien concept for me, however I quickly realized that in order for me to make educating myself a priority in my life – I would have to make it into a daily habit. Here is a list of some suggestions for small practices you could implement into your lifestyle. I would not expect anybody to do all of these things every single day, but you can choose a few, and keep your learning varied and fun! At first it may seem overwhelming, but after a few months of…
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