Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk 

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center’s                                                       “Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk”

Dee Grinch 12:7:18

Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk 

By Sara Schairer 

The holidays are here, and they bring with them an abundance of twinkle lights, parties, cookies, and joy. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? 

Yes. For some lucky people. 

Perhaps this line from the Dr. Seuss’ book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is a more accurate depiction of how you feel about Christmas: “Hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate, hate. Double Hate. LOATHE ENTIRELY!”  The Grinch’s comments refer to his feelings for the Whos, and it quite accurately describes his feeling about the holidays. 

Do you have an inner-Grinch who comes out this time of year? 

Despite the festivities, the holidays bring sadness for many. Feelings of grief and loneliness may rise to the surface. For me, this time of year reminds me of the loss I’ve experienced over the years. I miss my deceased father every holiday season, and I feel sadness about my failed marriage. 

Dee:

A bit of sadness surfaces for me as well as our home is no longer filled with excited-for-Christmas children.  But I still hang lights inside and outside the house.  I put up a small  tree for my husband and me.  I hang stockings.  I send out Christmas cards with a short year-in-brief note.  I bake cookies.  

I do this for ME!  It gives my heart joy.  No sadness necessary for wonderful past memories.  I must stay in the moment and be grateful for them and this moment present in front of my nose.  I lack for nothing.  I am grateful.  I am humble.

But you don’t have to stay stuck in sadness during the holiday sadness. Here are some simple tips to help you stay less Grinch-y and more positive this holiday season. 

1. Self-Compassion 

Self-compassion meditations and simple practices can help you gracefully navigate sadness and grief. By remembering the three main pillars of self-compassion (mindfulness, common humanity, self-kindness), you can stay attuned to your suffering with more grace and ease. 

Dee:

For me self-compassion and meditations both bring me back to this present moment.  In this present moment I don’t have to pick up a drink or drug.  That wasn’t always the case.  I would be hanging up Christmas lights in a snow storm on a metal ladder.  Year after year.  Stupid.  Drunk.  I would bake cookies, wrap gifts and decorate the inside of the house to all hours of the night.  Year after year.  Drunk.  High.  I would black out and then pass out while opening gifts.  Sick.  Sad.

No more.  Today I have a choice to not pick up a drink or a drug.  For that and Alcoholics Anonymous I am truly grateful and truly humble.  I can practice self-compassion and love myself for who and what I am…today…one day at a time.

2. Gratitude 

Research indicates that a daily or weekly gratitude practice enhances overall well-being, and a simple gratitude practice can take just five minutes or less of your time each day. 

At the end of the day, write down three things for which you are grateful. Instead of the normal responses like my health and family, ratchet up the practice by looking back on your day and picking out specific highlights. For example, you could write, “I am grateful for the lunch and laughs I shared with my co-workers. We ate outside and enjoyed the crisp air and sunshine.” 

Dee:

I start my day and end my day in bed, duh.  Before getting out of bed to face the day I turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God, a God of My Own Understanding to whom I was introduced working the 12 Steps of AA.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not promoting AA.  I am promoting YOU and your well-being.  There are many support groups in your neck of the woods that can help walk you through whatever ails you.  AA was introduced to me in rehab and they loved me until I could love myself.  Find your tribe!

Before falling asleep I again deeply connect with my Higher Power so thankful for his driving me around throughout the day while I enjoyed the passenger seat.  I got to meet new people, experience new adventures, all without having to be in control or affect the outcome.  Everything turned out perfectly!

3. Cultivate Joy 

The human brain focuses on the negative, which means you need to intentionally cultivate more positivity in your life. It’s referred to as the brain’s negativity bias and research suggests that you need a three-to-one ratio of positive feelings to negative feelings in order to flourish. 

Dee:

It seems like the older I get the harder it is to muster up any energy.  So when I do scoop up a pile or two of energy, I choose to use it in a positive way.  I remember how exhausting it was to live a life in active alcoholism, having to drink everyday, but more exhausting was the guilt, shame, hiding, lying and cheating.  That negative shit took all the energy I had and I had nothing left for me, let alone joy.

One way to add more positivity is through self-affirmation. Take time each day to think of things you appreciate about yourself. A gratitude practice also infuses your day with positivity. 

Dee:

One thing we did in rehab was to make up an affirmation and recite it to the group every morning for 28 days.  I chose, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  At that time in my life I felt anything but good nor whole.  I was a piece of shit wasting space on the planet with no purpose.

But reciting this affirmation has helped me tremendously to get back in the moment, to remember where I am today and how I got here.  As I peeled the layers of the onion skin off of myself I realized that I do, indeed, have a purpose.  To share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my Dee Bubble.  Those who are going through tough times, whether from addictions, abuses, or just too much on their plates.

Today I am able to use my tough times to help me stay grounded, grateful and humble.  I needed those tough times to bring me to this calmness and lightness in my life.  So I share with you that you are not alone on your journey.  And that everything is perfect right now.  Just go in faith and not fear.  Live from your heart and not your head.

4. Minimize Social Media Consumption 

If you’re regularly (obsessively?) checking your Facebook and Instagram feeds, try to bring awareness to how you’re feeling. Do you notice sadness, uneasiness, or any tightness? Your mind might be comparing your life to the lives you see online. Since most people only highlight their best moments on social media, you are most likely not getting the full picture of someone’s life. Comparing your normal, flawed life to one that appears to be perfect is a recipe for sadness. 

Try putting your phone down more often and staying off of social media. Notice if any of your feelings shift. 

Dee:

I use social media mostly to promote my business.  But getting on Facebook or Instagram draws me in to life outside my Bubble.  I experience everyone’s journeys and get to be a part of.  I get joy from these long-distance interactions.

I no longer need to compare my journey with yours as I know now that we are all alike with both good times and hard times.  I finally feel good enough in my own skin that I don’t need to impress you.  I have my own gifts as you have yours.  And sharing our gifts with one another makes the world a better place.

5. Find a Holiday Accountability Buddy 

Do you know someone else who has experienced loss or has a tough time during the holidays? If so, reach out to that person and see if you can lean on each other every day. Send this person a quick text once a day to check in, and he or she can do the same for you. 

You might want to use this accountability as a way to start or enhance your daily gratitude practice. 

Dee:

In AA it was suggested I get a sponsor, someone I trust, with whom I can share my journey and who could walk me through the 12 Steps of AA.  So I did and she has helped me to grow in ways far beyond my wildest dreams.  She is my accountability buddy, not just during the holidays, but everyday!

And when she is unavailable I have the fellowship of AA to nurture, protect and teach me.  I am never alone, nor are YOU!  Find like-minded people for your tribe to help you through the holidays and to enrich your life.

6. Take Deep Breaths 

If a formal meditation practice isn’t your style, you can experiment with a brief breathing practice to help you bring awareness to the moment and calm yourself. Research shows that by taking a big, slow, deep inhale, and then exhaling slowly, you can calm your body’s response to stress. 

Dee:

We all experience holding our breath in that fight or flight situation.  But why am I not taking deep breaths in calm situations?  If you’re like me it takes getting back in the moment, knowing we are being cared for and protected, getting out of self that brings by breathing back into a healthy rhythm.  It takes practice but I hope someday to breathe deeply naturally.

7. Practice Generosity 

While it is said that, “it is better to give than to receive,” you might not feel this around the holidays. The added expenses, packed stores, and overall stress that comes with holiday gift-giving might make you feel like giving is not the best way to get out of your Grinch-y attitude. 

True, heartfelt generosity doesn’t equate to stress, however. You can be generous with your time, your hugs, your smile, and your listening ear. If you do have extra funds, you can support nonprofits who might rely on end-of- year giving to support their work. 

Dee:

I learned early on in my recovery that unless I give it back, I won’t keep it.  And I found that to be true when I got complacent in my sobriety, stopped going to meetings, stopped AA altogether and found my defects of character, my old sick way of being and doing and thinking come back…one day at a time.  And then I drank.

I cannot afford to let down my guard.  My disease of alcoholism deserves the respect I give to the ocean.  I am careful.  I don’t turn my back on it.  I must take nothing for granted.

So I give back.  This time of year especially and year-round as well I give my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration to local fundraisers, especially to AA.  I give a portion of my earnings all year-round to our local AA, which gets doled out to the district, the area, and the world.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep it.  Today my life is good.  I want to keep it that way!

8. Volunteer 

Speaking of nonprofits, many of them can use an extra hand during the holidays. The need for many services may increases during the winter months. Find a nonprofit in your community that needs help and spend some time serving your community. 

Because of your compassionate feelings, you just might feel a boost. 

Dee:

One volunteer commitment that is sure to give me that boost is speaking once or twice a month at our local DUI classes.  I do this not as community service but as a service to my community.  My hope is that one person will leave the class feeling hopeful and optimistic by hearing my experience, strength and hope.  Hopefully, I can change a life for the better.

And with the holidays just around the corner, what a hard time to try to get and stay clean and sober.  So I’ve volunteered to lead one of the 24-Hour Alkathons that the newcomer or person struggling can attend non-stop from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.

These volunteer commitments get me out of self.  They help to remind me where I’ve come from and how good it is today.  They help me to not drink one day at a time and to give back what was so freely given me when I needed it most – compassion.

Thank you for being here and I hope I was able to offer you some hope and optimism.  Wishing you the happiest of holidays and, if you feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone.  Help is just a phone call away.

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those looking for Gifts with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Try out some of these techniques and send your inner Grinch into hibernation this winter. 

Learn a natural, effortless style of meditation that helps invite renewal and freshness into every day with Basics of Meditation, a self-paced online course guided by Deepak Chopra.

About the Author 

Sara Schairer (/bios/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) 

The Chopra Center

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Moving from Surviving to Thriving

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, 

“Moving from Surviving to Thriving” 

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Moving from Surviving to Thriving

“There is a force within that gives you life. Seek that.” — Rumi

Today we want to investigate what it takes to move our life from merely surviving to thriving. Too often we are preoccupied with simply trying to meet our daily needs. In survival mode, life energy may feel fragmented and depleted and our mind full of fear and frustration. But we are designed to thrive in life. To do that we only need to consciously live in the present moment. This open, creative, and purposeful state of awareness is our true self. When we live this wholeness of consciousness, we are thriving, and every thought and action is fulfilling.

Deepak:

If you paused and looked at your life today, are you thriving or just surviving?  To survive means that you’re meeting the necessities of life, such as food and shelter.  Surviving would also mean that those needs are met but you go about your daily experience without paying attention.  You wake up at the same time, put on the same clothes, drive to work or school the same way, eat the same comfortable food for lunch, follow the same evening routine as usual, and complete your day only to rise again and start all over.

Dee:

Why is it that I awaken every morning with a sense of excitement that the day ahead of me holds?  I awaken with a sense of gratitude and peace that all will be just perfect, no matter what happens.

Because today I have a Power Greater Than Myself in my life, a Higher Power of My Own Understanding, that I was able to make up in my mind and from my heart.  I learned to do this in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous when I entered in a state of disrepair, a loser, a waste of space on the planet.

I have learned to use the teachings, the suggestions, that AA has offered me to live a better, more meaningful life today.  And today I wake up knowing that my Higher Power, the driver of my car, my life, will take me to the experiences and people I need to meet, and learn from, and grow from, as I, as the passenger, just enjoy the ride.

And then I go to bed at night, again, with a sense of gratitude for today’s growth.

Deepak:

To thrive means that you’re free to explore and expand.  Seeing life as a field of opportunity rather than a fragile balance between making it and not making it.  This doesn’t mean you have to throw off all responsibilities or invite unnecessary chaos and disruption to experience something different.

Today we’ll discover what it means to thrive.  If wholeness is the field of pure consciousness, then each of us is designed to thrive.  The secret is to make choices that expand your awareness instead of choices that contract it.

Dee:

I remember being in a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism.  One of our group’s daily routines was to express an affirmation each of us came up with for our lives to share with the group.  An affirmation is emotional support or encouragement and in this group we used words.

So here Deepak speaks of wholeness which is why I bring this up.  My affirmation was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  At that time in my life I felt anything but good nor whole.  I felt a sense of purposelessness.  I had nothing for which to thrive and nothing to give.  Yet I was a mom of two beautiful sons, I had a wonderful husband, a good joy, a college degree, a house, two cars in the garage, and even a dog.  So why this sense of being not good and not whole?

Because I could not go a day without drinking and that drinking took me to dark places.  I was void and empty inside.  I was bewildered, puzzled at what the hell was wrong with me that the next drink was more important to all the gifts I had been given in my life.

Many years later, many years of sobriety and working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, many years of rigorous honesty, has led me to a spiritual place today.  I still repeat my affirmation.  And in my very core I can now feel that I AM a good person, I AM a whole person.  I am grateful for the journey that has led me to who I am today.

Deepak:

The opposite of wholeness is separation which comes down to living your life in a fragmented way.  We all do this.  We choose the people we want to be with and avoid or ignore others.  We are grateful for moments of fleeting joy and seek distractions to escape our everyday routine.  But no one is really satisfied living with bits and pieces of fulfillment.  We want to thrive and yet this desire cannot be fulfilled as long as the mind is restless and dissatisfied.

The source of wholeness and separation is the same.  In wholeness your consciousness is ever-expanding to find new ways to be fulfilled.  When you see your life as separate from others, your mind is attuned to limitations, such as failure, fear and frustration, so you grasp on to shreds of fulfillment, grateful for what you can get.

Dee:

Working the 12 Steps has opened new doors for me, has turned on the light bulb, has brought me to the realization that because I did not have a sense of self-worth or self-respect, and definitely no self-love, I lived in fear.  

So when I was “on stage” with you I ACTED the role that my life was awesomeness.  I wanted, I needed, your approval.  I went out of my way, put my family and myself last, to win your approval.  All out of fear.

Today I love myself for who and what I am.  More importantly, I understand who and what I am.  And I can put myself, my well-being, my recovery and spirituality first.  The rest falls into place.

Deepak:

Most people seek to improve their lives externally and what they value are tokens of fulfillment, like high income, a big house, a successful career.  But you can achieve all of those things and still feel unfulfilled because the restless, fragmented mind can never be satisfied.

Think of the stereotypes you see in the movies and on TV.  The midlife crisis man who leaves his wife for a younger model.  The rich kid who has it all but hold secret pain and yearns for a way out.  The unappreciated mother who finally sheds her burdens and lives the adventurous, carefree life she denied herself for years.

There is a reason these cliches are repeated time and again.  They are normalized feelings of discontent that most people can in some way identify with.  To get past this the secret is to let your awareness rest in its natural state of expansive receptivity.

Dee:

For me to let my awareness rest is to be in the moment, that place right in front of my nose.  There I can turn everything over to my Higher Power, the Universe, Mother Nature, God, whatever you want to call it.  Find what works for you because you know it wasn’t by your doing that this is all here.

Being in the moment reminds me that everything is perfect, right here, right now.  That my God has my back and is control.  There are no coincidences.  There are no reasons to regret the past nor worry about the future.  I shall be protected, loved and nurtured if I just have faith, turn off my thinking and go with my heart.

Deepak:

In any situation you’re either expanding or contracting in your conscious response.  When you’re consciously abiding in awareness you are in the present moment and your consciousness is expansive, creative and energized.  Your body-mind responds to each situation from a place of balance, harmony, and ease.

On the other hand when your mind is contracted and fearful you simply react impulsively.  This is a mind that responds with an automatic reflex of contracting.  Contracting is easy to identify.  You feel tense, uncomfortable, tired, perhaps even anxious.  You want the situation that challenges you to simply go away or resolve itself while you back out.  

Even if you don’t freeze up you react the way you have always reacted in the past.  The reactive mind is based on a primal belief that life is uncertain and threatening.  Therefore your stance must be one of closed off self-defense.

Dee:

With my toolbox for living that AA has given me in the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, I find myself no longer having to react.  I am much calmer.  I can step back from drama and chaos and assess the whole situation.  

Spirituality has taught me to breathe and accept, even embrace, these situations.  What can I learn?  How can I grow?  What can I share?

Deepak:

The opposite of the reactive mind is the resilient mind.  This is the state of openness, acceptance and trust.  A resilient mind embraces new situations as creative opportunities.  

People who are open and accepting have a foundation for personal evolution.  They discover new resources in themselves every time they confront a new challenge.  In fact some psychologists studying those people who grow older while remaining young inside believe that the best thing you can do to remain young is to take on difficult challenges at any age.

Once you create the inner state of expanding awareness it’s only natural to radiate that energy all around you.  Then you have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive by following your example.

Dee:

Today I feel I have a purpose in my life that I did not have when I was in my active disease of alcoholism.  Today I “get to” share my experience, strength and hope with all those who enter my Dee Bubble and I find that I do, indeed, have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive.  For that I forever grateful.  And I remain forever humble.

With warmest aloha,

   Dee Harris

For those interested in another way I share my experience, strength and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Deepak:

We all know the difference between friends and family who feel contracted, judgmental, and unhappy, and others who feel open, loving, and welcoming.  The second group are influences of expansion.  Their energy feels different.  They’ve found the secret for how to thrive and not merely survive.

In our meditation we go to the source of pure consciousness which is infinitely expanded.  From there we follow our own path to fulfillment for ourselves and everyone we influence.

 

Bringing Fulfillment Closer

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, 

“Bringing Fulfillment Closer”.

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Bringing Fulfillment Closer

Deepak:

Your life’s purpose is about finding fulfillment which is where your energy should be directed.  When you feel fulfilled psychologists would say you are thriving.  But even in the most developed prosperous societies only about one-third of people are thriving.

The reasons for this are centered on stress, inner states like depression and anxiety, feeling insecure, worrying about the future, and so on.  The challenge is to improve the condition of your mental and psychological energy because that’s how you can improve your inner quality of your life.

Fulfillment is a daily goal and a life-long goal at the same time.  In the field of positive psychology it’s been found that the happiest lives are constructed from happy days.  How do we achieve this in the face of life’s difficulties and wounds lingering from the past?

The first issue is one of healing.  Whether it’s a physical trauma, emotional, mental or spiritual, everyone has had some sort of experience that could benefit from healing attention.  No one is free from the need to heal and becoming your own healer is always available to you.

All positive experiences have the potential to heal.  From the concept of “laughter is the best medicine” to meditation and other inner practices.  By design the body-mind possesses the natural ability to return to a healthy balanced state.  This implies that we need to get out of the way and let the healing response do its work.

Dee:

For me, my life’s difficulties and wounds that lingered from the past was my addiction to alcohol.  How do I heal from my alcoholism?  How can I call my alcoholism a “positive” experience?

Well today I can my my disease a positive experience.  I can call myself a grateful alcoholic.  For had I not been able to experience the negativity that goes along with any addiction like the lying, cheating, stealing, hiding, selling your soul and much more to get that next high which you cannot go one day without, I would not have experienced the positive I have today in my life in recovery.

And as far as the concept of “laughter is the best medicine”, if you’ve ever been in an AA meeting and heard the laughter from someone’s horrific alcoholic “war story”, you will realize that this laughter is healing.  We learn to love ourselves for who and what we are.  We learn to accept ourselves and realize that we are, indeed, gifts on this planet.  We can share our experience, strength and hope with others who enter our bubbles and who are experiencing life difficulties of their own.

This laughter, this meeting, this fellowship, this “getting out of the way” is all foreign to a newcomer in Alcoholics Anonymous or any of the other fantastic support groups available to us.  These fellowships provide a toolbox for healing, and living, in their 12 Steps.  

We find like-minded people who show us that our problems are not unique.  We no longer have to live in guilt and shame.  We get comfortable enough to share our stories, our lives, our deepest secrets, with one we trust, who holds our confidence, and expects nothing in return but our well-being.

We are introduced to an idea of creating a “God of Our Own Understanding”, a “Power Greater Than Ourselves”, to whom we can eventually turn our will and our lives over to.  It all sounded pretty suspicious and puzzling to me, too, but what did I have to lose?  I already loathed myself, couldn’t go a day without drinking, and felt I was a waste of space on the planet.

So when we “get out of the way and let the healing response do its work”, we turn our difficulties and wounds over to our new God (which, by the way, could be a rock, or a doorknob, or the fellowship or anything your little heart conjures up).  We learn that living from our minds and egos no longer serve us and we start living from our hearts.  We learn to trust and have faith that everything is perfect at this moment, and has been all along; we just didn’t know it.

Deepak:

Good sleep and reduced stress are two major ways to let the healing response work as it was intended to.  However, the healing most people need centers on meaning and purpose.  Water brings life to a garden when you direct it at each plant.  But water sprayed aimlessly in the air has no purpose and, therefore, brings little benefit.

The same is true of scattered aimless energy in you life.  We don’t need to do much to give our energy a direction.  All you need is a simple heart-felt intention to be open and aware.  That means you meet the present moment ready to be of the greatest service to those around you.  The boundless power and intelligence of creation will do the rest.  

When you are awake to the present moment, you will be guided to give love and receive love as well.  You will find ways to be of service to others and to make contributions that lead to a sense of accomplishment.  This gentle intention has tremendous power because your intention naturally increases and supports those positive experiences.

In my active addiction I didn’t have good sleep.  It seems like forever and a day I drank myself into a pass-out state and when I awoke, I came to.  My life was full of stress.  I worried more about what you thought of me than about what I thought of me.  Remember, I loathed and actually hated myself.  

I lived in fear of my appearances and behaviors.  I couldn’t trust myself when I drank.  So I became a closet drinker.  But the disease many times took me out in the real world where I met you, but don’t remember you, because I was in a black-out.

In my active addiction I had no religion nor spirituality.  I just had me and my brain and neither could stop me from drinking everyday.  I definitely had no purpose and oftentimes wondered why I was here.

Today I am so grateful I didn’t come to on that day when I missed my shift at work.  I am so grateful of the guilt and shame of what I thought I allowed myself become.  I am so grateful of not knowing if I had called work because I was in a black-out.  I am so grateful of the humiliation I felt not being able to ask my family what I had done, what I had said, who, if anyone, I had spoken to.

Wow, I don’t have to live that way today.  Today I have a choice of whether or not I want to put a drink in me.  I didn’t have that choice before.  And today, just for today, I choose this life in recovery where I have fulfillment, I have purpose, and I have a love for myself that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Thank you for being here with me today.  My hope is that one person who reads this gets a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.  My hope is that one person realizes he is not alone and can ask for help.  My hope is that one person can shed the guilt and shame and learn to love himself for who and what he is…a unique gift that no one else on this planet is!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Youthful Energy Is Dynamic and Resilient

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, “Youthful Energy is Dynamic and Resilient”.

Youthful Energy Is Dynamic and Resilient

“The most important energy is human spiritual energy, the energy of the mind, the energy that exists within us.” — Yoko Ono

Deepak:

When your energy is fresh, renewed, and joyful, there will always be enough for anything you want to do.  This is a holistic view of energy that goes far beyond the physical energy you get from food and exercise.  You also need emotional and mental energy for your mind.  We know that the body and mind are so deeply interrelated that it makes more sense to call it “the body-mind”. 

Your body at birth was a miracle of energy being used perfectly.  A newborn appears to sleep most of the time but there is enormous activity inside.  In fact, up to 70% of a newborn’s energy is being used to grow the brain.  Now as an adult you aren’t the same as a baby in one crucial way.  You must organize your energy yourself. 

This is a basic map for a holistic view of energy.  The entire body-mind is involved.  If you were asked the best way to increase your energy at every level, you might reply that you’d eat better, not skip breakfast, go to the gym more often, and so on.  You’d be focusing on physical energy.

But in reality the people who enjoy the best energy have a secret.  They are dynamically resilient.  They possess the flexibility to handle anything life brings to them…physically, mentally and emotionally…and after a situation is handled they bounce back quickly.

Dee:

Bouncing back quickly doesn’t come easily once we’ve reached adulthood.  Whilst growing up we’ve been bombarded by experiences, propaganda, media and people who assured us that more is better, stab whoever you need to in order to achieve these goals, look young and beautiful, and the more power, the better.

Wait a minute.  This doesn’t serve us.  This doesn’t nurture us.  This doesn’t allow us to be and do our best and be okay with who we are.  Oh great.  Now we have to unlearn all this.  No!  We get to unlearn all this because we know in our hearts that this way of thinking doesn’t serve us.  It destroys us and everyone around us.  Just look at our world today.  Sad, huh?

The way I was able to unlearn all this bullshit was in a roundabout way.  I didn’t plan it.  I didn’t know it would bring me to this place where I am today.  But I’m an alcoholic.  I didn’t know that either.  I found I couldn’t go a day without drinking, no matter how hard and how many ways I tried, I was baffled.  I hated myself.  I had no purpose.  I would look in the mirror with my hand forming an “L” and called myself a loser.  Pretty shitty, huh?

Well one day instead of coming to when my kids came home from school, I continued on in my pass-out state.  I missed my shift at work.  I was humiliated, guilt-ridden and full of shame.  How was I going to lie myself out of this one?

I had no more energy.  I was exhausted.  Exhausted of years of hiding, lying and cheating in order to drink everyday.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  So I called my boss at work and told her my honest to God truth (didn’t actually have a God at that time, that I knew of).  She helped me get into rehab and that’s where my life as it is today began.

My life today is one of gratitude and humility.  Today I get to make choices.  Today I choose to not have a drink.  I didn’t have that choice before getting sober and learning about the disease of alcoholism.

Today I have a purpose…to share my experience, strength and hope with anyone who enters my Dee Bubble.  I get to be rigorously honest without shame or guilt.  I can finally love myself for who and what I am!

I can be dynamically resilient because today I have a Higher Power of My Own Understanding who I honestly and faithfully know has my back.  I can get back into my ego and selfishness, my fear-based self.  But I don’t.  I don’t want to be that person anymore.  I don’t want to lie and be exhausted anymore.

So my resiliency comes from letting my Higher Power do the driving and knowing that everything is perfect at this moment.  When shit happens, it’s for a reason.  To help me.  Go figure.  I am to use each and every experience as a tool for learning, and growing, and being a better human being.  So I bounce back and remember that my glass is half-full.  I’m just along for the ride and the ride is like being on a magic carpet!

Deepak:

Dynamic resilience is biological at one level.  For example our tissues heal from a sprained ankle or we recover from a cold virus through the dynamic nature of the healing response.  But resilience as a holistic quality means that you rebound mentally and psychologically too.  If you want to be a powerful person, be resilient.  That’s far more important than toughness or assertiveness.

Your body-mind was designed to bounce back with dynamic energy.  The key isn’t just eating a balanced whole-foods diet and getting regular physical activity.  You need to boost the quality of your energy which involves getting good sleep and reducing stress.  

These are the two lifestyle factors that many people neglect.  Not realizing that lack of sleep and daily stress are the biggest energy drainers in modern life.  They also diminish the quality of our energy making us groggy, depressed and lacking enthusiasm.  

Fortunately stress and sleep issues are factors we can control through our lifestyle choices.  Once you begin to actively attend to sleep and stress you build a platform for improving the quality of your energy.  This happens by making positive choices everyday and minimizing negative choices.  Whether it has to do with family, work, your primary relationship or how you relate to yourself.

Dee:

So use your Higher Power.  If you don’t have one, make one up or use mine.  Have faith that something greater than yourself created the earth, this universe, this galaxy, and it wasn’t you.  Remember that you have no control over people, places and things, you can just make choices.  Just do your best and love yourself for that.

Hey, we’re all in this together.  Each and everyone of us has “issues”.  We are not alone.  There is a wealth of support out there for you when you get sick and tired of being exhausted from the lying, cheating and hiding.  You are only lying, cheating and hiding from yourself.

You’re going to be okay.  You ARE okay.  You’re YOU! with all your glory.  So love yourself for the gift that you ARE!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Youthful Energy Happens Today

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, “Youthful Energy Happens Today”.

Youthful Energy Happens Today

Deepak:

The two words “young” and “energetic”naturally go together.  The unbounded energy of children amazes and delights us.  Life pours through them and this energy is happy, playful and joyous.  It’s not the amount of energy that keeps us young; it’s the quality of energy.  

No matter our physical age the potential for energy of our childhood exists; it is always inside us.  You were designed to experience this kind of energy everyday and by paying attention to the quality of your energy you discover the secret for keeping your energy level up at the same time.  

When someone tells you that you look young, it’s a compliment that rests on a biological fact.  But the real reason you want to feel youthful and energetic is so that you can do all the things you want to do in life and experience everything to the fullest.  To be young in mind, body and spirit begins with energy as you process it in every cell.  All living things process energy in order to stay alive.

The first secret of youthful energy for life is to realize that this processing is ageless.  Energy flows in and out of you constantly, undergoing the same actions of breathing, eating, digesting, and healing that make you the most complex living creature on the planet.

The energy of your life expresses itself in four areas.  Physical energy is your capacity to move and work.  Mental energy allows you to understand issues and solve problems.  While emotional energy determines your ability to care and love others with patience, compassion, and tolerance.  Spiritual energy is the unlimited source and aim of all the other expressions of energy and you connect with it through meditation and present-moment awareness.

Everyone needs energy for all the demands in life.  But different types of people have different energy needs.  It is normal for physical energy to be at its peak in early adulthood while mental and emotional maturity usually arrive afterward.  

An exhausted, stressed teenager has a poor quality of energy and, therefore, is promoting the aging process far more than a fresh, joyful person who’s chronologically older.  When the quality of your energy today is optimized you will be in a state of restful alertness that you never need to lose.  This is the second secret of youthful energy.  

We don’t have a finite amount of energy that runs out like a depleting bank account.  Life-sustaining energy is constantly renewed.  Every cell in your body depends on this because cells don’t store up food, water and air for more than around three seconds.  Instead they thrive by living in the moment and trusting that abundant energy is naturally there.  When we have the same attitude we maintain the unbounded energy as children.

This brings up the third secret about energy – meditation increases it.  The popular belief that meditation is only a restful nap or quick way to relax misses the essential point.  Meditation renews energy at the source while at the same time it adds the qualities that make energy life-enhancing – joy, creativity, freshness, and alertness.  

Meditation is the technique but we also need a vision for lifelong youthful energy and that vision is wholeness.  Eating a certain amount of calories will put enough fuel in your body.  But what about mental energy, motivation or creativity?  What about feeling young at heart and experiencing love and fulfillment?  You need a source of energy for all these things in order to thrive and food isn’t enough.

Dee:

Staying mindful, in the moment, that place right in front of our noses, that is where we allow that youthful energy to happen today.  Not from the regrets of yesterday nor the worries of tomorrow.  Those places suck the energy right out of us.

So get in touch with who you are.  What you’re feeling.  Not about life itself.  But about who you are and how you feel about yourself.  Are you pissed because life has dealt you the victim card?  Are you angry because someone treated you unfairly?

You know, all things happen for a reason and there IS a reason these events happened.  It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to consider these life events in a negative or a positive way.  Because I don’t want to live my life nor exert my energy in a negative way, I choose to be positive and see the glass half-full.  Life is easier and a hell of a lot better that way.

Knowing that everything happens for a reason, reasons that are out of my control (like every person, place or thing with which I come in contact), I can be comfortable in knowing that my Higher Power, my spiritual being that has my back and is dealing me the cards I am ready to receive, is giving me lessons that will only help me as a human being.  I shall learn and grow and share with others these lessons.

And with this Power Greater Than Myself I can finally realize that I have gifts.  Gifts that no one else on the planet has.  I don’t need to compare my gifts with yours.  I don’t have to feel any less than nor better than you.  We are all equal human beings.  Shall we nurture and love each other or shall we destroy and hate each other?  

I hope you choose to be that loving and innocent child that came into the world full of excitement, acceptance and curiosity.  That inner-child is and always will be in you.  Allow it to come out, don’t worry about what anyone will think or say.  Just be you.  Love you!  Let that youthful energy happen!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in my Art with a Message of Positivity and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

From the Chopra Center Meditation

The Matrix of Manifestation: Focus

Energy of Attraction 

Welcome to the 21-Day Meditation Experience, Energy of Attraction. We are honored you’re joining us as we seek our true nature and discover our path to health and happiness. You will discover your soul’s purpose and create a life in which all things are within reach.

Day 10

The Matrix of Manifestation: Focus

“Follow your deepest dream, the one you had as a kid… but stay focused.”

 ― Donal Logue

Our meditation today deals with the second element of the matrix of manifestation: our focus of attention. Just as focused light through a magnifying glass becomes more concentrated and powerful, the light of our consciousness also becomes more powerful when our attention is focused. This concentrated awareness awakens the dormant intelligence within our intention. It is like the warmth that helps the seed of desire sprout.

Today’s meditation will show us that the mind can experience deep focus easily, without strain or effort. When the mind is quiet, deep focus comes effortlessly and naturally. Unbounded awareness and sharp focus not only coexist, but they are mutually supportive, and together they form two of the three elements of awareness in the matrix of manifestation.

DEE:

Much harder for me to focus rather that be in unbounded awareness.  Knowing my Higher Power has all control in His omnipresent and omnipotent way helps me to be in unbounded awareness.

But focusing this constantly chattering alcoholic mind is a totally different endeavor.  I am allowed just short moments of one thought or no thought.  A second here and a second there.  I earnestly look forward to the quieting of my mind.  And then the focus.

CENTERING THOUGHT

My awareness is focused.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Ksham Hoom
My universal awareness holds a single focus.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 10 – Focus.  Once we recognize ourselves as unbounded awareness we have this magnificent opportunity.  We can direct that awareness toward life-giving soul-affirming desires, because what you focus on expands.  So when you give your full attention to that which fills you up, that which brings you light, that which connects you with your passion and purpose, there’s a whole new dimension of joy awaiting you.  

Don’t give your attention to that which you don’t want because the energy of attraction is powered by focus.  Sustained faithful attention to your vision is what nourishes your desires and allows them to blossom.

DEE:

I don’t want negativity in my life.  It encourages agitation in me.  Agitation takes away my peace and calmness.  Therefore, I strive to live in a positive light; even when many may consider certain occurrences negative, I tend to find a positive side to them.

And I find that when I live with a positive mindset, more positivity enters my life.  Not to say that shit doesn’t happen; I just choose to not let it hit the fan.  I am constantly reminding myself that everything happens for a reason and this moment is just perfect.

OPRAH:

So unbounded awareness reaches out and unites with the infinite magnificence of everything that’s possible.  Pure awareness fused with faithful focus is the magic that creates manifestation.  Deepak takes us to this magical meeting point now in today’s meditation.

DEEPAK:

The second element in the art of desire is focus or concentration.  When a magnifying glass is held up to the sun, all of the sun’s light is focused to a point.  In the same way when you have a specific desire, you’re focusing pure awareness into a point.  The state of attention focused on a desire is called Arana in Sanskrit.  Once again the word isn’t important.  What’s important is the creative power that increases the more one-pointed you are.  

In everyday usage concentrating the mind brings up images of hard work…the struggle to avoid distractions and keep your mind on the task at hand.  But not in this case.  If you are sitting in the silent depth of the mind, focus comes easily.  It’s as natural as any other thought.  The magic is contained in the coming together of two things that seem like opposites…unbounded awareness and focused awareness.

But they don’t really contradict each other.  A laser beam is the sharpest most focused light in existence and yet the power that creates it is generated by the total unbounded field of light.  Now you know that the key to unharnessing the energy of attraction requires being unbounded and focused, at the same time.

This is what happens in meditation.  Unbounded awareness is the reservoir of possibilities.  A desire is like the water you take from the reservoir one visit at a time.  Meditation practice trains our attention to return to an easy focus…the mantra…after experiencing silent pure awareness the gap where the mantra isn’t present.  In time your mind will have this ability all of the time and every thought will have full creative power.

DEE:

So hard to grasp.  I must just remember baby steps.  Everything in baby steps.  Bits and pieces.  I have faith that it will come together as best as possible, in the perfect way for me, when I am ready.  Like with learning to live my life without alcohol, one day at a time, faking it ’til making it, I shall continue on my meditation journey.  Just remember, in time.

Thank you for sharing this meditation with me.  I look forward to your feedback and sharing this journey with you!

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those looking for reminders to help you stay present and focused, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

DEEPAK:

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “My awareness is focused.  My awareness is focused.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Ksham Hoom.”  This mantra easily collects the diverse tendencies of the mind into a single impulse or point of focus.  As you repeat the mantra let your awareness easily draw into your silent center of attention.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Ksham Hoom.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open and receive just a little more.

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra “Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.”  Please continue with your meditation.  I’ll mind the time.  And when it’s time to end you’ll hear me ring a soft bell.  “Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.”  Just mentally, “Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.  Ksham Hoom.”

Chopra Center Meditation 

The Matrix of Manifestation: Unbounded Awareness

Energy of Attraction

Welcome to the 21-Day Meditation Experience, Energy of Attraction. We are honored you’re joining us as we seek our true nature and discover our path to health and happiness. You will discover your soul’s purpose and create a life in which all things are within reach.

Day 9

The Matrix of Manifestation: Unbounded Awareness

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of
everything else.”  G.K. Chesterton

The skill of manifestation is in using our awakened self-awareness. There are three components to this awareness: expanded consciousness, focused consciousness, and fluid consciousness. The unity of these three creates the matrix of manifestation. Today we will learn about the first aspect: unbounded awareness. This unbounded awareness is our silent, expanded self. It is the un-manifest potentiality from which everything emerges.

In today’s meditation, we will open up to this still, pure self and begin to know it as a unified field of infinite possibilities. In time our meditation experience will mature, and we will learn to think and act from this creative silence, while the mind remains quiet and calm. Our awareness stays unbounded even when the mind has an intention or desire.

DEE:

What a great gift, and weight off my shoulders, to finally be able to quiet my head and live from my heart.  The honor student, perfectionist, intellect is now gone.  She doesn’t serve me anymore.  No more rationalizations.  No more worry.  Just staying in the moment and breezing by from my heart.  Choose, Dee, devil on the shoulder talking to you from your head or angel on the shoulder nurturing you from your heart?

CENTERING THOUGHT

I am pure unbounded awareness.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Om Hreem
I see the unity behind diversity.

OPRAH:

Welcome friends to Day 9 – Unbounded Awareness.  Now that’s something.  From the moment you open your eyes from the miracle of a new day, and every day, is a miracle.  You are conscious that you really are awake.  You’re aware that you’re breathing and moving and thinking.  The more you know your true self, the deeper your soul awareness, the more powerful is your potential to manifest.

We connect with pure unbounded awareness every time we step away from our hurried lives and get silent.  Give yourself some space just to be.  And embrace the stillness, this oneness, with the source of all things.  Source Energy, we call it, is the path to manifesting the life that your soul, your true self, most deeply desires.  Week 2 is all about manifesting this truth.

As your awareness expands so do the blessed possibilities before you… exponentially.  Know that as far deep and wide as you can imagine, that which created you, the universal energy, the divine source force of all beings, can see and create beyond.  Beyond actually resides in the center of your soul and from deep within your center…beyond…is where the universe is guiding you, if you’re paying attention.

DEE:

I’m so glad I’m learning to live in the moment…in that space right in front of my nose.  And to have faith that everything within and around me is absolutely perfect.  I no longer have to dwell on my past but to use it to gain access to my higher self.  I no longer have to worry about the future as that would mean I am shitting on this moment in front of my nose, that is perfect, and I can never get it back.

When I’m present in the moment I am able to connect with my Higher Power, that which many call the universe, or God, or nature.  My Higher Power consists of them all, and more, and is given permission by me to be in control of my will and my life.  I let God do the driving in our pink convertible Cadillac while we journey through life.  I get to tag along in the passenger seat anxiously awaiting what God has in store for me, teaching me, guiding me, introducing me, nurturing me.

And when I am in that strong connection with my Higher Power I can feel nothing but gratitude and humility.  The blessing surround me.  He has given me a purpose that I am finally ready to take on…”Share your Experience, Strength and Hope with everyone I put into your ‘Dee Bubble’ today.” 

So when God knew that Dee was ready…”When the student is ready, the Master appears”…He pulled me out of the depths of hell in my active alcoholism, guided, nurtured, introduced me to sobriety, and let me taste freedom and goodness.  But remember Dee, “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.”

OPRAH:

So let’s try and go there now and join with the infinite power of the universe by meditating on the miracle of it all.

DEEPAK:

The art of desire is the art of using your self-awareness.  The more you know yourself, the more you can manifest what you want.  The energy of attraction fills an infinite reservoir.  This is pure awareness before it flows out into specific desires.

DEE:

Self-awareness was foreign to me until I worked the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with a trusted sponsor.  This is where the real light bulb shines!  Discovering me…who I am…what makes me tick…and why?  Holy Moly.  I soaked this up like a sponge and continue to do this on a daily basis. 

This is exciting stuff and helps me to make sense of it all.  I’m finally able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  All because a Power Greater Than Myself had a grander purpose for me.

And as I get to live as the new Dee, the real Dee, I feel a love and acceptance for myself that I’ve never felt before.  When I bottomed out in my disease I absolutely hated and loathed myself.  I didn’t even deserve a space on this planet.  But today being true to myself and not caring what anyone thinks of me (except me and my God), living a truly rigorous honest life, I am witnessing a pull of people being drawn into my bubble.  It’s awesome!

DEEPAK:

Think of pure awareness as a field of light extending infinitely in all directions.  Here every possibility can become manifest.  Anything you can imagine becomes real here.  So how do you transfer a desire from this infinite field to your daily life?

The Spiritual Tradition of India known as yoga describes three elements that must come together.  The first of these is the ability to go deep into the mind.  The closer you get to your source, the more powerful your intention will be.  To experience unbounded awareness is called Samadhi in Sanskrit.  The name isn’t important.  The important thing is to realize that unbounded awareness is real and you can contact it through meditation.

DEE:

OK.  I’m fairly new with yoga and meditation.  To go deep into my mind is a scary place for me to be.  I was relieved to finally stop being a “thinker” and finally being a “feeler”.  Letting my heart, or gut, lead me and help me to make wise choices seems to work way better for me today that rationalizing the hell out of any unhealthy thought that pops into my mind.

But the hamster wheel still turns pretty rapidly in my brain, way more often that I would like.  But when I am finally able to quiet my mind and get back in touch with my feelings seems to bring me closer to my Source, my intentions, and my unbounded awareness.

DEEPAK:

When you experience unbounded awareness, it will often seem that nothing has happened because we’re all used to bounded awareness which is filled with the thoughts, feelings, sensations and images constantly flowing through the mind.  In between each thought, however, is a gap of silence.  In meditation you dive into the gap and each time you do you have tasted the experience of unbounded awareness.  In this silence is the core of your existence.

DEE:

So I’m hoping that when I can finally have a moment when my mind is quiet that I am, indeed, experiencing unbounded awareness.  It definitely feels right.  I feel in a higher place.

DEEPAK:

Pure awareness may be silent but it isn’t really empty and far from blank.  Here you’re united with everything in creation.  Here, also, you’re completely wakeful making you aware of who you really are.  One can call this region of the mind the Womb of Creation or the Matrix of Manifestation. 

As you say the mantra in meditation there will be gaps where the mantra has disappeared but other thoughts haven’t entered.  It’s quite incredible from the viewpoint of the active mind that these seemingly insignificant blips of silence contain the true power of mind.  But that’s what the World’s Wisdom Traditions teach.  Now you know the first ingredient necessary for manifestation…unbounded awareness.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I am pure unbounded awareness.  I am pure unbounded awareness.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.

Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Om Hreem.”  This mantra dissolves the illusion between the self and the object of experience or thought.  As you repeat the mantra notice awareness becoming alert, still and unbounded.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Om Hreem.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open and receive just a little more.

DEE:

Definitely the mantra du jour.  Dissolving the illusion between the self and the object of experience or thought.  Fake it ’til I make it, just like I did when learning to live without alcohol.  Baby steps.  One day at a time.  And slowly it makes sense…”When the student is ready, the Master appears.”

Thank you for being here.  I appreciate your presence and any feedback that you would like to share.  Know that you are never alone on any journey through life.  Together we can get through anything!

With warmest Aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of spirituality and inspiration such as the mosaic above, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

DEEPAK:

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Om Hreem.  Om Hreem.  Om Hreem.”  Please continue with your meditation.  I’ll mind the time and when it’s time to end you’ll hear me ring a soft bell.  “Om Hreem.  Om Hreem.  Om Hreem.”  Just mentally, “Om Hreem.  Om Hreem.  Om Hreem.”

Chopra Center Meditation