Holding Space: The Art of Being Present with Others 

Holding Space: The Art of Being Present with Others 

By Adam Brady

Holding space is a conscious act of being present, open, allowing, and protective of what another needs in each moment. The term has been growing in popularity among caregivers, healers, yogis, and spiritual seekers. It’s a broadly used phrase to define the act of “being there” for another. The effects of this practice, however, go much deeper than simply offering support. 

Consider the individual words for a moment. To hold means to embrace or encircle someone or something in your grasp. Physically, this might take the form of a hug or the cradling of a hand in yours. But you can also embrace someone non-physically with your intention, attention, and energy. Space refers to the immediate environment you are sharing with another. This, too, may be the physical space of a room, but more frequently refers to the mental and emotional environment you are in with others. Put together, these words embody the principle of surrounding the environment with your awareness (https://chopra.com/articles/the-three-qualities- of-awareness) in a way that provides comfort and compassion for all. 

Dee:

I’ve been practicing being mindful, attentive and respectful to all that enters “Dee’s bubble” for awhile now.  I pray on my way to market every Sunday to sell my art, to be present, in the moment, for prosperity.  Prosperity, no longer means financial, as the rewards I’ve been given for making eye-contact, lending an ear, and offering a hug to those that enter my bubble have taught me more about human beings and compassion than money could ever buy.  The bonds I have made have lifted me to a whole new level of living and mind-set.  That we are all on this planet together, for each other, hopeful, optimistic, loving, and together we can ripple our message across the planet.

Holding space involves several specific qualities of consciously relating to others, the sum of which are greater than the individual parts. Let’s explore these attributes and see how they can deepen your ability to hold space for others. 

Safety 

A key component to holding space is the quality of safety. For others to be open, genuine, and oftentimes vulnerable (https://chopra.com/articles/5-ways-to-feel-less-vulnerable), they must feel secure and have a sense of trust. People won’t let down their defenses until they know it is safe to do so. 

Dee:

The first thing I thought of when reading this was about my physical safety.  Being born and raised in California in an area where crime was rampant caused me to be aware of my safety and surroundings at all times.  It has taken time for me to let my guard down now living on the Big Island of Hawai’i (I shall never be stupid enough to entirely be blind to my safety altogether) and feeling safe and protected.  I have found that when someone offers a helping hand there is no ulterior motive.  The Hawai’ian way of living with aloha has been so beneficial and healing for me.

Being an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous has helped me to let the guard of my feelings and actions down, to trust others with me and my bubble, to people who honor each other’s anonymity and trust that other’s will do the same for them.  With that trust we can become rigorously honest about ourselves and our lives.  We can close the door on the past, learning and growing from our experiences, moving forward to a hopeful, optimistic and free future.

Like a medieval cathedral nestled within the city’s fortress walls, you need to create an environment in which all who enter feel protected from harm. This safety implies an unspoken “sheepdog” mentality that serves as a guardian and authentically maintains confidentiality, transparency, and impeccability in all you say and do. 

Dee:

I’ve learned to live my life with the principles of Hawai’i and AA.  This new outlook on life and others has invited beautiful and meaningful relationships and experiences into “my bubble”.

Suspended Self-Importance 

A vitally important aspect of holding space is the understanding that it’s not about you. When you hold space you must make the conscious decision to leave your ego (https://chopra.com/articles/is-the-ego-your-friend-or- foe) at the door. Holding space is about serving others and your personal concerns or needs are not part of the process. Suspending your sense of self-importance can be challenging and should be considered a prerequisite for the practice. If you aren’t able to put your ego in the back for a time, you’ll be ill-suited to be present for the needs of others. Holding space requires radical humility and the willingness to be a temporary caretaker of the feelings and concerns of another. 

Dee:

Ok, getting out of self took me a long time to grasp and will always be a work in progress; I shall always be a work in progress.

Finding I could not go a day without drinking brought me to the rooms of AA.  Getting a sponsor and working the Twelve Step of Alcoholics Anonymous has totally changed me.  I found that I lived fear-based my entire life before recovery; I feared what you thought of me.  I put your needs before my own, and not in a good or healthy way.  In a way that told me I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t love myself nor feel comfortable in my own skin.  Yikes!  I was so into my selfish self, again, not in a good or healthy way.  I was sick.  My thinking was sick.

Working through the Steps has afforded me the ability to love myself for who and what I am and know that all is perfect at this very moment…especially me!  I can be present for those who haven’t received that gift…yet…and be there with every fiber of my being to help them on their journey of self-love and self-worth.  It no longer is about me, but I reap the benefits!

Attention 

One of the most precious gifts you can give another is the gift of your full and complete attention. However, listening attentively without the need to respond, interrupt, or comment is a skill that takes considerable practice to master. Even with the best of intentions, your ego may sneak back in; it looks for opportunities to subtly make things about you instead of the other. 

Dee:

I love the saying, “Excuse me.  Did I interrupt the middle of your sentence with the beginning of my sentence?” when someone abruptly butts in.  I diligently practice not doing this.  My head might start to spin out of control with thoughts and ideas I want to add to the conversation, but…”Hey, Dee, you’re not in the moment, you’re not being respectful nor mindful to the person in front of you.  Knock it off and get back right-sized”.

When holding space you must work diligently to maintain eye contact, be free of distractions, be fully attentive, and cultivate an openness or “space consciousness” in which there is no “me,” but rather the ever-present witness of the sounding board of consciousness. 

To this end, make the commitment to cultivate what British author Stuart Wilde called silent power by resisting the urge to speak unless you are asked to. This, coupled with your full awareness, can be a profoundly powerful experience for those in your presence. Your attention, focused and all-inclusive of whatever is happening in the moment, opens the door for others to see the reflection of their own soul in you—the Self talking to itself. 

Dee:

Learning to be rigorously honest in AA has been very freeing for me.  When I practice honesty I no longer have to waste my energy or data space in my brain remembering what I might have said or done in the past.  It frees me up for living positively.  However, when someone asks for my opinion and I get that gut feeling that my answer might hurt or not be what they are expecting to hear, I allow them the choice of whether they really want to hear my “rigorously honest” opinion or not.  They usually do.

Practice Acceptance 

Holding space is all about allowing—allowing this person or group to feel what they feel. Allowing them to say what they need to say. Allowing yourself to be whatever they need you to be right now. Holding space, therefore, isn’t about controlling anything. Your role is that of a guardian of the space. Like two cupped hands filled with water, you are there to hold the other with your awareness. In doing so, you must allow that experience to take whatever shape it will.

Accept this moment as it is. Accept others as they are, without any desire to change them, or wanting them to be something different. This, too, can be a challenge since you are conditioned to immediately try to change things you think should be different. But, in holding space, practicing acceptance gives others a priceless gift—the freedom to be just as they are. 

Dee:

If there were a magic pill to “fix” me when I was active in my disease of alcoholism, I wouldn’t be in the “happy, joyous, and free” place that I am now.  I realized that there are no coincidences.  People, places and things have come into my life just as they were supposed to, and that includes decades of drinking and drugging.  I had to trudge my own road to happy destiny, to experience my own journey, and I allow and embrace that is what other’s are doing in their lives.  I don’t even attempt to fix; that would not serve them nor help them to become who they were intended to be.

Nonjudgement 

Holding space is an impartial process. You’re not there to pass judgement or to evaluate another. When you judge another’s experience you create additional mental static that will only get in the way and obscure the truth. In the moment when you’re holding another’s fears, suffering (https://chopra.com/articles/a-modern-take-on- the-roots-of-suffering), or grief, your opinions are irrelevant. 

Unless you’ve been through what they’re going through, you’ll never truly understand their feelings. Being there is enough. Good and bad are merely a matter of perspective and in this moment, your perspective isn’t the one that’s important. 

Dee:

But I really do try to put myself in the other person’s shoes.  I will never know everything that person has experienced and those experiences have made the person who they are at that moment.  Accept and be present.

No one is better than me, nor worse than me, and vice versa.  We are all equal no matter our history, where we live, our gender, our education, on and on…  We are human beings sharing this planet, meant to do so in harmony.  Let’s just try to do that lovingly, compassionately, the best that we can in the moment…and let it ripple across the planet.

Compassion 

Although you nonjudgmentally practice acceptance with your full attention, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t prefer things to be better. Compassion (https://chopra.com/articles/4-steps-to-finding-peace-through- compassion) is an essential quality for the practice of holding space. To embrace another in acceptance is an act of compassion in and of itself. In your openness to the pain of others you are essentially saying, “How can I help you? I don’t want you to hurt. What can I do to help support your highest good?” Even if not spoken aloud, these intentions to relieve the suffering of others are the essence of compassion. 

In many cases, simply being a loving presence can bring about a deep sense of relief that eases the pain of another. The world can use more compassion, so the practice of holding space provides an opportunity to continually build this vitally important skill. 

Witnessing 

Witnessing allows you to play a special part while holding space—that of the observer. Like in quantum physics, the observer is what triggers the collapse of the wave of potential into a particle, the non-local into the localized phenomenon. But this doesn’t involve any action on the observer’s part. In holding space you’re just there as the witness, almost like a fly on the wall. Naturally, you can participate if requested to do so, but essentially your role is that of the watcher. 

It is said that when Gautama (the future Buddha) was on the verge of enlightenment, he was tempted by the forces of darkness and their king, the demon Mara. With his entire demon army descending upon them, Mara demands the Gautama produce a witness to his awakening. Gautama simply touches the earth with his fingers and says, “The earth itself is my witness.” With this gesture, Mara and his arm vanish, and Gautama becomes the Buddha or Awakened One. Like the earth the Buddha touches, you are the witnesses to those who you hold space for. 

Through the practice of holding space, you serve as a container for which the healing and transformation can take place. It’s a powerful gift of presence that you can give to others through the quality of your attention. 

Dee:

…and this gift of presence will be returned to you tenfold!

With much aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Being Mindful and In the Moment, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

About the Author 

Adam Brady, Vedic Educator 

Yoga teacher, author, and martial artist Adam Brady has been associated with the Chopra Center for nearly 20 years. He is a certified Vedic Educator trained in Primordial Sound Meditation (/articles/what-is-primoridal- sound-meditation), Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga (/teach/seven-spiritual-laws-yoga-teacher-training target=), and Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle (/teach/perfect-health-certification-program), and regularly teaches in the Orlando, Florida, area. Over the last several years, Adam has worked to introduce corporate mind-body wellness programs into the workplace within a large… Read more (/bios/adam-brady)                                                 

from The Chopra Center

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Let Your Feelings Lead You to Prosperity 

Let Your Feelings Lead You to Prosperity 

By Louise Laffey

Have you ever watched the movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory? Did you love the idea of a special chocolate river flowing through a secret chocolate factory? Or did you love the idea of tasting wonderfully, beautiful creations beyond your wildest imagination? You may have loved the idea of exploring exciting new places and receiving lots of fabulous surprises. And you may also have loved the idea of living a magical life, full of happiness and fun. 

How can you create that prosperity in your life? 

Your Happiest Life 

Your adult version of living your happiest life may be linked to the notion of needing to be financially wealthy and secure, and of being materially comfortable so you can lead your perfect life, doing what you want when you want, without the unwanted pressure of your always having to work to make ends meet. 

If you spent time following that dream, you may have found that there were a number of on-off, stop-start moments—moments that felt perfectly right, followed by moments that felt awfully wrong. Those may have felt like the normal ups and downs of life. You may have thought that once you reached a certain point things would settle down—that you’d be content. But that isn’t true; something is missing. 

Feel the “Bad” 

When you begin practicing the feeling-your-feelings experiment you may notice how much of your life is spent avoiding feeling the present moment. You may want to feel something else, something better, to feel anything but what you are feeling in this moment. Why? Because when you are truly honest with yourself, in this moment you feel bad—the last thing you wanted. But that’s exactly what you need to feel. 

When you stop resisting the moment and allow yourself to sit in the discomfort of your feelings, you may notice your heaviness starting to shift. Before you know it, your bad energy lifts. You may begin to feel light and free. And that right about “now,” things start to flow. 

Dee:  Being able to live in the moment, in gratitude and in humility, didn’t happen for me until I got sober.  The first miracle was being able to stop drinking every day, which was a must.  Whether I wanted to or not, I couldn’t go a day without drinking.  

Once my mind started to see clearly I was taught many things about myself and my alcoholism.  Through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I was given the opportunity to create a Power Greater Than Myself over which I could turn my life and my will.

Well, that seemed impossible being the intellectual self that I was.  But what did I have to lose?  So I chose the neon clown head that I could see from my room in rehab, the Circus Circus clown in downtown Reno.  He was smiling and warm and colorful.  Just the way I thought a Higher Power should be.  From there my Higher Power has evolved beautifully and has given me a contentment and freedom beyond my wildest dreams.  I live my life totally different today, in the moment, in acceptance, in trusting that everything is perfect at this very moment.  There are no coincidences.

Be Open to Your True Self 

The longer you continue your experiment, the more the Universe will point you back to the source of your resistance—to every unwanted feeling that you had avoided until now. At times, you may want to blame your pain and suffering on an unkind, unforgiving God, but the evidence will prove otherwise. 

A loving and benevolent energy will guide you every step of the way, showing you how to unblock your flow. Feel the exact vibrational source of your resistance, knowing that if you are willing to feel, your energy will integrate and heal. With each new unfolding comes a sense of relief, a feeling of being open to receive, and, best of all, a fresh and genuine excitement to uncover more of your true Self. 

Dee:  I have spent years fine-tuning my Higher Power from the cherished Circus Circus clown to what it is today.  My Higher Power today drives me around in a pink convertible Cadillac (kind of like we’re on a magic carpet) while I enjoy the ride learning and experiencing what I need to at that moment.  You see, I no longer have to be in control, or at least think I am.  I turn my will and my life over to a Power Greater Than Myself and trust that I am on the right path.  I have found over time, trial and error, doubting and questioning, that this works.  And when I feel agitated in my gut over people, places and things over which I have no control, my Higher Power tells me these feelings are not serving me.  Embrace them, then let them go.  I do and whisk them away into the clouds.  So freeing.

When you can open yourself up to the truth of how you feel in any given moment, you open yourself to the power of presence, to the healing power of self-love. You start to experience a sense of spaciousness where there was no space before, an awareness that shows you that you are not your judgment, nor your resistance. You allow yourself to see that every moment is given to you effortlessly, every moment filled with everything you require to return you to your flow—a flow you recognize as your own, full of the joy and freedom of your purest potential. 

Dee:  I never yearned for contentment.  I didn’t even know what it was or that I was lacking it.  But I did yearn for happiness, serenity, good health and well-being.  I realized that these all went hand-in-hand not being able to have one without the other.  When I stopped yearning for them they came.  I feel them.  I feel light and worry-free.  I am happy, serene, healthy and well.  Without even trying.  But more so I received this awesome gift that, again, I didn’t know I was lacking.  I couldn’t put my finger on it for a long while but then it came to me.  I am content.  

Receive Your Gifts 

Your resistance will start to give way to receiving; your mental grips will turn into gifts. Your familiar moments of on-off, stop-start frustration will become welcome signs to show you when and where you are limiting your willingness to receive and to expand. Learn to trust the magic in the amazing opportunities being dropped in your lap—all the synchronous meetings, exciting connections, fun invitations, and thousands of incredible moments bursting with creativity and beauty. 

As your confidence in your experiment grows, so does your happiness—a deep and lasting contentment born from living in the moment. You can feel your truth—the flow of prosperity is already within you. Feeling your feelings sets it free. 

Dee:  Being the intellectual self before finding recovery and the freedom from alcohol was exhausting.  Rationalizing any and every thing was a full-time job that got me nowhere.  I was weighed down with the lack of my self-control and self-will.  My energies and drive weren’t making me happy nor healthy nor free nor serene.  I was living in a cycle of More…More…More and all I was getting was More…More…More of “You’re a loser” and “I hate you.”

A complete turnaround came for me when I experimented with living from my heart and not my head.  Turn off my brain and feel what’s being said in my gut.  Don’t react but nurture those feelings from within and go with them.  They speak my truth.

I have found this new and freeing way of living has awarded me great gifts that I wasn’t even striving for because I didn’t know they even existed or my brain told me they weren’t in my reach…that I wasn’t worthy enough…or smart enough…or good enough.

My heart never tells me to dwell in the past nor worry about the future.  If I stay in the moment in front of my nose, I know that everything is perfect at this very moment…and that includes me!  If I remember to turn my life, my worries, my everything over to a Power Greater Than Myself to control the outcomes of my life, all will unfold perfectly.

Embody the Flow 

When you can feel that your prosperity is effortlessly given to you in every moment, you start to embody the Truth that your natural state of being is one of well-being. You recognize and acknowledge that your most authentic operating system is one of relaxed ease and grace, of abundance and flow, and not the false, learned conditioning of resistance and struggle, of lack and limit you have grown used to. 

The more you practice your feeling experiment, the more you learn to hold this truth. You learn to lessen the grips of your old patterns of resistance and open your hands to receive all of the goodness, all of the wonder life has to offer you. With experience comes confidence and faith in the knowing that you can be safely carried by the river of abundance that flows within you, and that in every moment, you are worthy of receiving the full magnificence of who you truly are. 

Dee:  Try it; you’ll like it.  Fake it ’til you make it.  Trial and error.  It’s a journey.  Odd at first and definitely a whole new way of living.  But it works!  All burdens are removed from your shoulders.  The doubt starts to lift because you begin to experience that this surrender and change in mindset produces wonderful results and miracles.

Live Magically 

You can live a magical life like Charlie did when he discovered the chocolate factory. You hold a golden ticket— the ability to tap into the power of your feelings, and your true well of being that feeds you with unconditional love and prosperity. You must choose this new adventure for yourself, for only you can be the hero of your story. 

It’s up to you to discover the flavors of your happiness and your unique life purpose, and to learn to trust that you are always—and in all ways—supported by an intelligent field that knows and honors your heart’s deepest intentions to live your best life. 

This feeling way of life is a magical ride. Find out for yourself if it’s your new way to fly! 

Learn how to tap into the power of your feelings and manifest your deepest desires with loving support from like-minded women and wonderful speakers at our Chopra Women’s Retreat. Learn More. (https://chopra.com/live-events/womens-retreat/) 

Dee:  I live a Disney-type life…the happiest place on earth.  From the Circus Circus neon clown to where I am at this very moment I shall never grow up.  The adult-shit that I’ve experienced throughout my life has not served me.  Being who I am and loving who I am has.  Not having to prove anything to anyone else is the way to be.  It’s all between me and my Higher Power.

I live very optimistically, very positively, even in the turmoils that surround us.  There is always good to come from EVERYTHING…compassion, love, understanding, forgiveness, faith.  If you chose to live this way, the ripple-effect will spread throughout the planet and great things will come.  Feels good to live this way.

With warmest aloha,  Dee Harris

For those interested in my Art with a Message of Optimism and Hope, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

About the Author 

Louise Laffey, Guest Speaker 

Once a young lawyer and an intuitive spiritual seeker, Louise Laffey, struggled to reconcile what she viewed as two separate lives. As a lawyer she enjoyed many of trappings of the modern world, but always felt like she was compromising herself and her values to meet someone else’s agenda. She escaped to South America, where she embarked on the spiritual journey that led her to create the process of fully aligning prosperity with her purpose. For the past nine years, Louise has travelled the world, teaching more than 50,000 people from over 20 countries to identify and clear the unconscious blocks standing in the way of their prosperity, freeing them to consciously create more wealth and abundance in… Read more (/bios/louise-laffey) 

The Chopra Center

HOPE: THE MAGIC INGREDIENT YOU NEED IN LIFE

Hope: The Magic Ingredient You Need in Life

By Melissa Eisler

In a world full of fear, stress, and sadness, it can become second-nature to develop a negative worldview. There seems to be more pain than you can heal, more dissent than you can mediate, and more uncertainty than you can make sense of. In times like these, what options are there to comfort yourself and bring forth positivity?

The difference between those who let their circumstances bring them down and those who choose to embrace the goodness of life and find that comfort lies with the important element ofhope.

Hope is a powerful antidote to feelings of despair and desolation. A life marked by hope is a life marked by optimism, regardless of where you find yourself It doesn’t mean that you are always happy or that you can’t feel emotions like hurt, sadness, or anger, but it does mean that your view of your circumstances – and those of the world around you – goes beyond what is actually happening.

When you hold onto hope, you begin to understand that you are part of a greater narrative that includes both global and personal experiences of joy and suffering. Simply put, hope brings perspective. It can sustain you during the hard times and bring even more fulfillment to the good times.

While hope acts as the perpetual light in the midst of darkness, it’s not easily cultivated in the dark. Develop your hope muscles while times are good so that you can better tap into it when life takes a turn for the worse. Here are four ways to cultivate hope.

Seek Inspiration

Hope requires a dependence on something greater than yourself. Where it’s honoring a Higher Power or recognizing that the Universe has pieces at play that are beyond your control, hope is built on the understanding that you and your circumstances are not the epicenter of what

makes the world move. Tapping into that understanding helps you gain perspective and allows you to not depend simply on your feeling about a particular situation.

Dee:

Before getting clean and sober I had no Higher Power…I had no hope. I was spiraling fast into the depths of hell. But having no religion in my background I had no clue about Heaven and Hell, God, Devil, any of that. But from my experiences growing up I felt that drugs and alcohol were what the Devil was all about.

By the grace of a Power Greater than Myself I miraculously found myself in a treatment program. There I learned that I could have a Higher Power of my own understanding. So I made one up. It was full of good…kindness, love, warmth, forgiveness, happiness…and everything that gave me hope. Over the years my Higher Power has developed and strengthened and has guided me to strengthen as well.

Today I turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power. I let it do the driving and teach me what I need to learn as I ride along in the passenger seat. I turn my control over to this entity and find my life is so much easier, lighter and rewarding that I could have ever imagined possible!

Use times of prayer and meditation to reflect on the good in the world, starting with what you are thankful for in your immediate surroundings (including opportunities you’ve had and loved ones who surround you). Then, reflect on your broader community. Instead of harping on the negative things happening in life, see how people are caring for each other and improving the lives of those around them. See the world how it could be and recognize that your sense of being is found beyond the temporal world. Get inspired by all the good there is in the world – because it is always there, it is sometimes just buried under the muck.

Dee:

I strive to keep negativity out of my life and look at the glass half full. Even in the darkest, most hideous events, I can find a pinhole of positivity. These events seem to bring people and communities together, to love and show compassion, to be of service and just “there” for one another. Most of us human beings are full of goodness; we just don’t sell news.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

Oftentimes, the who and what you surround yourself with dictates whether or not you have a positive or negative worldview. There is power in surrounding yourself with positive people, environments, and experiences that bring you joy and encourage you to become the person you want to be. This doesn’t have to mean that your life has to be all rainbows and butterflies, but it does mean that you should put some effort into surrounding yourself with elements that create a positive life.

Dee:

Today my life is full of like-minded people in recovery. We have all come from depths of hell in our own ways to find the light and hope in a life without substance abuse. We are all so grateful

and humble for this new life and our purpose is to share our experience, strength and hope with all who are struggling.

Not all of us in recovery are happy, joyous and free. Some are still pretty negative and on their pity-pots. When they choose to remain there for this part of their journey I must distance myself so not to jeopardize my own sobriety, serenity and chi. But not without first stressing that I am here for them when they are ready to turn it over to a Power Greater Than Themselves.

This also means purposefully distancing yourself from negativity. Creating boundaries to protect yourself from negativity can be challenging. It might mean limiting time with a life-long friend or family member who is always complaining, turning off the somber news reports you’ve become addicted to, or switching joys to avoid a toxic workplace. While it can be difficult to make these types of life changes, saying no to negativity and yes to your well-being can create a life that will sustain you through good times and bad. By leading a positive life, you are honoring your own needs.

Dee:

I oftentimes get to spend weeks at a time with family members who ruffle my feathers. Sometimes I can walk into a room and cut the tension with a knife. I try to be mindful and in the moment, grateful for this time together. I try to make it count. But it takes energy that I feel I should not have to expend to make “quality” time with loved ones.

Turning that time into a positive helps tremendously. Remembering all the positive things that they have done for me humbles me. Tuning in to “I have no control over people, places and things” and “They are on their own journeys” reminds me that everything is perfect in this moment. I call my sponsor. I go to a meeting.

Get Involved in Your Community

One of the most effective ways to get out of your own cycle of self-reliance and tap into hope is to serve others. Your community has local organizations that need volunteers to help pack lunch bags for the homeless or build houses for families in need. You can use your professional skills to create a marketing campaign for a hospice care organization or raise funds for a cancer research center.

When you get involved in what’s happening in your community, you are exposed to different people with different views. You get a front row seat as a witness to people taking care of one another. It can restore your faith in the goodness of people and help you realize that everyone has issues they are facing; it’s not just you. While you may not be able to completely change someone’s circumstances, you can help bring joy and perspective to their situation. This helps to create a more holistic view of your own life, seeing that there is good amidst the bad.

Dee:

Because I am a recovering alcoholic most of my community involvement revolves around Alcoholics Anonymous. I learned early on that service is critical. Suiting up and showing up for a meeting is service. There I can give back what was so freely given me when I needed it most…experience, strength and hope. That is my way of saying “Thank you for this awesome

life”. I also get great joy from speaking at DUI Classes once or twice a month. If my message can give one person a glimmer of hope, then my purpose was served.

Celebrate

The truth is, there is always something you can celebrate in your life. Celebrations are usually reserved for big milestones – birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, and births – but you also have the opportunity to celebrate the little things. Take your spouse out for a casual dinner as a “job well done” for cleaning the house. Treat your kid to an ice cream cone for presenting her class project.

And the most fun celebrations don’t even have to revolve around an accomplishment. Declare next Tuesday your favorite day of that week and buy lunch for your co-workers, drive outside the city to star-gaze with a loved one just because you want to, and wear your fanciest clothes to dinner tonight just because you’re worthy of something special.

By creating a rhythm and mood of celebration, you can train your mind and heart to recognize the good in your life. This hope can sustain you through the thin and thick of life. Regardless of what you’re facing, what you see on the news, or how dire your circumstances may seem, hope can help you look at your life and say, “I’m glad to be alive.”

Dee:

Just remember to stay in the moment and know that everything is perfect at this very moment… especially YOU! You are not in control and there is a Higher Power that has your back…to guide you, protect you, teach you, love you. That Higher Power is your hope!

Aloha, Dee Harris

For those of you interested in positive and hopeful Art with a Message, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Enjoy! Mahalo and have a hopeful day!

About the Author

Melissa Eisler
Certified Yoga and Meditation Instructor and Writer

Melissa is the Senior Content Strategist at the Chopra Center. Also a yoga instructor, she is passionate about motivating people to live a healthy, balanced, and purposeful life. Melissa is the author of The Type A’s Guide to Mindfulness: Meditation for Busy Minds and Busy People (http://amzn.to/1J1dYvz), a practical guide for new meditators in the modern world, and the creator of mindfulminutes.com (http://mindfulminutes.com/), a personal blog about mindfulness and life balance in the digital age. Melissa teaches Vinyasa classes at her favorite studio in San Diego, meditation and yoga to kids and families in the oncology ward…(Read more (/bios/melissa-eisler).

Taken from The Chopra Center

How to Be Mindful Without Meditation 

How to Be Mindful Without Meditation 

By Sara Schairer

Do you ever find yourself avoiding your meditation cushion? Whether subconsciously or on purpose, you’re not making the time to sit.  Or have you tried meditating, and you’ve decided it’s not for you?

Luckily, meditation and mindfulness are not one in the same. You don’t have to meditate in order to be mindful. Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, sensations, surroundings, and emotions, and meditation is one tool for developing mindfulness but isn’t the only tool.

When you are consciously bringing your wandering mind back to the present moment, you are cultivating mindfulness. You can do that in everyday life by tuning into your surroundings.

Dee:

I often remind myself that all I have is this very perfect moment, right here, right now, in front of my nose.  I’ve got to notice it, savor it, cherish it.  It will never come again as life changes constantly and I am always in transition.

When I allow myself to get in the moment, I am truly present, truly grateful.  There are no thoughts or regrets of the past.  There are no worries or anxieties of the future.  Just now.  Feeling the breeze.  Hearing the birds.  There are no coincidences of everything happening within and around me at this very moment.

Experiment with using your senses to notice these new things as you move throughout your day, and see what happens.

1. Notice Your Bed

When you first wake up, notice the feeling of your sheets against your skin and your mattress and pillow supporting you. Feel the air against your face, and notice the air temperature.

2. Take a Mindful Sip 

Stop for a moment to savor your morning beverage of choice. Smell and examine your coffee or tea before taking a slow sip. Close your eyes and wholly feel and taste the liquid on your tongue before swallowing.

3. Savor Your Shower 

Have you ever truly paid attention in the shower? What does the water feel like as it hits your skin? Notice the soap as it lathers, and tune into the feeling of the soap on your skin. Mindfully massage your scalp as you shampoo your hair.

4. Cherish Your Family Members 

If you have children or a partner at home, can you notice something new about their morning routines? With nonjudgmental curiosity, observe their moods, energy levels, morning greetings, and favorite breakfast items. What can you notice that you’ve never seen them do before?

5. Consciously Commute 

If you drive to work, try tuning into the feel of your steering wheel in your hands, and notice the air conditioning or heat against your skin. If you’re on a train, subway, or bus, first pat yourself on the back for taking mass transportation. Then tune into the feel of your seat, and take in your surroundings by noticing who is with you and what you can see and hear.

6. Look Up 

Pause to take in the sky above you. Are there clouds? What do they look like? Do you see any birds or trees? Can you see something in the sky that you’ve never seen before?

7. Truly See Your Colleagues

Is there something new you can notice about your coworkers? Perhaps the person next to you listens to classical music or has photographs of her family on his or her desk. Maybe your boss has a skip in his or her step today.

8. Slowly Munch on Lunch 

Before digging into your lunch, take a moment to examine it. What colors and textures do you see? What does it smell like? Take a small bite and allow your mouth to take it all in by noticing what the food feels like. Is it crunchy or soft? What tastes do you observe? Does the flavor change as you swallow? Try to take several slow and mindful bites. If your mind wanders, try to bring it back to the process of eating.

9. Take a Hike 

Stretch your legs in the afternoon with a walk around the block, and allow your senses to engage with your environment. Can you see something that you’ve never seen before, whether it’s on the ground, on the side of a building, or high in the sky? What do you hear? Tune into each step and notice what your legs do and how they feel with each step. Also notice your feet and the important job they have.

10. Scan Your Body 

Take a moment to close your eyes and tune into your body. Start at your toes and move up, observing each body part until you reach the top of your head. Be curious about what you find, noticing any tension, lightness, heat, pain, or other sensations. Notice if the mind wanders and creates stories about those feelings. If so, see if you can bring the mind back to the sensations without judging them.

Dee:

I use this method of scanning my body when I feel tense, when I allow myself to be riddled with tension.  I begin with totally tensing up my entire body.  And then I relax.  Starting at my toes, concentrating on them, feeling them, I release any tension.  I work my way up to my body this way.  Every part of my body up to my head, fully concentrating on each body part and releasing all tension.

I trip on what each cell in my body is doing without my awareness.  It’s magical how each cell has a purpose without my control or intentions.  They just happily go through the day doing their business, keeping my body as strong and healthy as they can.  When I have an injury or sickness they gear up the army and concentrate on the body part that is no longer strong or healthy.  They know what to do.  I can’t tell them what to do.  They fix me.  I’m better.

My brain, my heart, lungs, every organ in my body do their own thing as well.  My thoughts seldom go to what they are up to.  They know what to do.  They do it without my awareness or permission.  Again, their purpose is to keep me as strong and healthy as they can.

My eyes blink, I cough, I have an itch, my hair grows.  Again, without my control or awareness.  Our bodies are so amazing!

11. Notice Your Social Media Use 

Do you have a habit of checking Facebook or Instagram without even knowing it? Start tuning into those habits and see if you can be more intentional with your time. Once again, don’t judge yourself for the time you spend on social media, simply observe it.

12. Appreciate the Sunset 

Step outside to take in the unique colors of the sunset, and try to notice something you’ve never spotted before. Is there a cloud shape that reminds you of something or someone? What colors do you see? How does the air temperature change once the sun dips below the horizon?

13. Glimpse at the Moon and Stars 

The night sky offers up a feast for your eyes. When is the last time you truly looked at the stars and moon? Take the time to examine what’s beyond the atmosphere and allow yourself to feel awe if it arises.

14. Listen to the Sound of Silence 

As you make your final moves toward bedtime, stop, close your eyes, and listen. What do you hear, and what don’t you hear? Can you notice the sounds or silence with curiosity, allowing your ears to hear the texture of each sound?

Practicing mindfulness throughout your everyday life can help train the mind to focus on the present, with or without cushion. Observe what happens when you make noticing a priority.

Dee:

Last year as I was sitting on the beautifully manicured lawn of the Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu, mindfulness and living in the moment became a priority for me.  My husband was having heart surgery and I was waiting to hear from the doctor how the operation went.  

I remember my head bouncing from thought to thought.  It was a long month being away from home with just the clothes on our backs when we were Medivac’d immediately from the Big Island to Queen’s following a heart consultation.  I’m a busy person.  I NEED to keep busy to keep out of my thoughts and to keep sane.  I found a lauhala tree on the grounds, pulled and prepped leaves (lau) and started weaving bracelet after bracelet.  The island, the aina (land) and mana (spirit) provided me sanity and serenity.  Again, no coincidences.

But as my husband lie on the operating table and knowing that the end of his life could be near, my thoughts bombarded me with fear.  I started thinking about how I might be flying home alone.  I thought about calling my sons to help me clear out Dad’s belongings.  I thought about living in a home and having a life that would be so empty and void without my soulmate.

And then the mindfulness kicked in.  “Shit, Dee!  He’s not dead yet.  Get up to the waiting room and be there when he comes to.  Everything happens for a reason.  You’ll be okay and never alone.  If God has a purpose for Graeme greater than what he can do on this planet, be accepting and joyful for that.”  I made my way up to the waiting room.  And today…we live happily ever after.

One more thing.  I am an alcoholic in recovery.  During my quiet times on the Queen’s lawns I would sometimes think about how a drink would take the edge off.  Thank goodness I’ve stuck closely to AA and the fellowship which reminds me that it’s the first drink that will kill me.  I’ll be off and running.  I’ll be sneaking drinks and hiding booze.  I’ll have to cover up the smells of alcohol on my breath.  AND I WON’T BE FULLY PRESENT FOR MY HUSBAND who needs me NOW!  I don’t drink.  I get humble.  I get grateful.  I use the toolbox for living that Alcoholics Anonymous has given me.  I weave more bracelets.

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, Recovery and Being in the Moment, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

Learn the keys to conscious living from the comfort of your own home with our Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course, led by Deepak Chopra. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/online-courses/primordial- sound-meditation/on-demand)

About the Author

Sara Schairer

Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of COMPASSION IT (http://compassionit.com/), a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions and attitudes. She created the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT wristband (http://compassionit.com/wristbands/) prompting compassionate actions on six continents, 48 countries, and all 50 states. Wristband sales fund compassion education programs for youth, teens, and adults. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives. A Stanford-certified instructor of Compassion Cultivation… Read more (/bios/sara-schairer)

From The Chopra Center