One Breath

We all go through hard times. Every single one of us. While knowing that you are not alone can bring some comfort, it doesn’t help when you are in the midst of stress or grief or sadness.

There is one technique that can help. Anyone can do it and it’s simple to learn. Whenever I find myself in a situation where I feel anxious, fearful or my brain simply won’t let go of a thought, I do this.

I take one slow and completely focused breath.

I start by putting all my focus on my lower dantian point, the Qigong energy center. It is located in and below your navel (about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel). Breath in slowly imagining that you are filling up that area with beautiful clear, positive energy. Breath out slowly imagining negativity leaving your body and fading away.

If you notice your mind “chattering” while you are doing this, move those thoughts down to this energy center and try again. It will quiet the mind.

Whatever difficulty you are going through, you can find relief in your breath. When you have completed one focused breath, take another… and another… all while focusing on this amazing energy center. When you are finished, give thanks for the breath and all the good things in your life.

Quiet or Loud – Do Something

It was time. I had been working for a couple of years and was ready to move away from home. I was super excited to start my adult life. Unfortunately, my parents had other ideas. They didn’t think a woman should be living on her own, especially one that was only 20 years old.

“Wait until you get married,” they said. Well, I was having none of that. I found a nice apartment and moved in. My parents were upset and wouldn’t speak to me for a couple of weeks. We were a close family though, so I knew it wouldn’t last. Eventually they came around and everything was fine.

Around that same time, I was walking into my bank when a young man with a clipboard approached me asking if I would like to apply for a credit card. I knew I needed to establish a credit rating, so I said yes. We filled in the application together. I met all the qualifications so was surprised when it came time to sign and he told me I had to have my husband sign it. I explained that I wasn’t married, so he replied that I needed my father to sign it then. I asked him why I couldn’t sign it myself. I was working and clearly qualified.

“Sorry, that’s the rules.” he explained. He tore the application in half, handed it to me and walked away. Well, I was having none of that either. I searched out credit card companies that accepted women independently and within a couple of weeks one arrived in the mail. Ok, that was settled.

Just a few short years later I was a newlywed and looking for a first-time home to buy. I was supporting my husband as he went through University. I made good money as a computer programmer and knew I could cover the costs, especially if we bought something small. We found the perfect house in our price range. Our offer was accepted and we were assured a mortgage wouldn’t be a problem based on my income. Everything was falling into place nicely.

Except it wasn’t. Sitting in the mortgage office, we were stunned to hear that they wouldn’t give us a mortgage. The reason? I was a woman and my husband was not earning an income. They explained that I might get pregnant and quit, so we didn’t qualify. Well, I clearly was having none of that!

Fortunately, a close friend of mine was a lawyer (and a woman). I asked her advice. She immediately picked up the phone and called the mortgage company herself, explaining who she was and that this was clearly a human rights issue. We were approved that afternoon.

A few years later I had been promoted to a senior programmer position. I had two programmer trainees under me: a woman in her thirties and a young man in his early twenties. The woman was incredibly hard working and clearly had a talent for programming. The young man was lazy and spent a lot of his time at work doing personal things. When it came time for promotions, my manager called me in and asked for my input. I told him that the woman was doing really well and was ready to be promoted, but the young man needed more time to prove himself.

The next day the promotions came out. The young man had been promoted and the woman held back. I immediately went into the manager’s office asking for an explanation. He felt the young man just needed encouragement and that a promotion would help him. As for the woman, she came from a non-technical background and he wanted her to prove herself for a longer period of time, just to be sure.

I was livid but felt that there wasn’t much I could do as I was leaving the company within a couple of weeks. I approached the woman and told her that she was really talented and encouraged her to keep going. She would get that promotion soon. To the young man, I told him he was lucky this time. He just laughed at me. A year later, I ran into someone who worked for the same company and they told me she had been promoted shortly after I left and that he had been fired. Good to hear that time sorted that one out.

I experienced many of these kinds of incidences over the years but as time moved on, they became fewer and further between. We have come a long way, yet there is still so much to do, especially in developing countries.

It’s hard to believe that it was only 100 years ago that women were initially given the right to vote in parts of Canada. I am incredibly grateful to our foremothers for everything they did to make that, and so much more, happen. Their voices would not be silenced and nor should ours.

This year International Women’s Day is being celebrated on March 8 with the theme “Better the balance, better the world.”

Whether you plan to spend the day quietly contemplating ways you can improve women’s rights in your circle or going out to demonstrate for women’s rights – do something.

One step at a time, we can make a better world for women everywhere.  

#BalanceforBetter #IWD2019

Self Discovery in Resting

I’m baaack!

I am back writing in my beloved blog after a long a break. I’m also back in a much more profound sense. I’m back being me!

The last post I wrote was about giving myself permission to take a break. It was needed. I was extremely busy and had only so much energy to give. Since my blog is a love not a job, I had to let it go for a time.

I have since changed my job to a part-time consultant gig that is way less stressful. I also spent the last two months mostly resting. Quite literally as I had the flu and just when I was starting to feel better, fell and cracked a rib. Hmmm… was the Universe trying to tell me something? Perhaps I needed a little downtime.

The last couple of months have really been a blessing. I took the time to think about who I am and where I want to go in my life. I am ready for a change. Ready to try something new.

During this time of self reflection I remembered something I used to love and that is being artistically creative. I had forgotten. Or perhaps I just let that go in the busyness of life.

Now that I do remember, it’s time to make it a priority again. So, I did one simple thing. I signed up for beginner pottery classes – one of my bucket list items. It feels great to find a way to be creative again.

What one simple thing can you do in the step towards remembering who you are and who you want to be next? I’d love to hear about it.

Taking a Little Break

I can’t believe it’s been eight months since I wrote a post. I needed a break from a few things and gave myself permission to do so, without guilt or pressure. It’s freeing to do that once in a while.

I felt compelled to write today because I discovered something recently that has been life-changing for me. It’s a very small thing with a big impact.

My work is busy (who can’t related to that??) and life sometimes gets crazy as well. I have found a technique that has helped me to reduce stress and feel less overwhelmed by responsibilities.

I take mini muscle relaxing breaks. I focus on a muscle (often my jaw muscle which seems to be tense a lot) and purposely let it relax. I wiggle it a bit, take a breath and consciously let the muscle go limp. It’s something easy to do any time because it literally takes a second or two.

I do this throughout my day. Over time I have found that my jaw and shoulders muscles (which I also focus on) have become more relaxed.

In fact, my whole body has become more relaxed. These mini muscle relaxing moments have extended beyond my physical and triggered a mental relaxation as well. I’m calmer and more relaxed in the busyness of life.

I love how simple things can make a difference.

Namaste

Meditation of the Week: Stop!

OSHO’s words are a source of inspiration for so many people, myself included. I found his latest meditation a simple and effective way to become fully aware in the midst of a busy day.

Stop! Meditation technique to do in a moment, any time, any place to enhance your everyday life at work, at home, and at play.

Just as you have the impulse to do something, stop.

You can try it anywhere. You are taking your bath – suddenly order yourself to ‘Stop!’ and stop. Even if it is only for a single moment, you will feel a different phenomenon happening within you. You are thrown to the center and suddenly everything stops – not only the body. When the body stops totally, your mind stops also.

When you say, ‘Stop!’ do not breathe then. Let everything stop…no breathing, no body movement. For a single moment remain in this stop, and you will feel you have penetrated suddenly, at rocket speed, to the center. And even a glimpse is miraculous, revolutionary. It changes you, and by and by you can have more clear glimpses of the center. That is why inactivity is not to be practiced. Use it suddenly, when you are unaware.

For example, you were going to drink a glass of water. You have touched the water, the glass – suddenly stop. Let the hand be there, let the desire to drink, the thirst be there inside, but you stop completely. The glass is outside, the thirst is inside; the hand is on the glass, the eyes are on the glass – stop suddenly. No breathing, no movement, as if you have become dead. The very impulse, the thirst, will release energy, and that energy is used for going to the center. You will be thrown to the center. Why? Because any impulse is a movement outward. Energy is always in movement – either going out or coming in. Energy can never be static.

Remember three things…. One, try it only when a real impulse is there. Secondly, do not think about stopping, just stop. And thirdly, wait! When you have stopped, no breathing, no movement – wait and see what happens.

When I say stop, it means stop totally, fully. Nothing is moving, as if the whole time has stopped. There is no movement – simply you are! In that simple existence, suddenly the center explodes.

Osho,The Book of Secrets, Talk #17

Source: Meditation of the Week: Stop!

Random Acts of Kindness

Our community is participating in 30 Acts of Kindness this month. Every day a small idea of kindness is presented that can make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Doing something good for others can be as simple as a smile or a kind word. Each and every act of kindness makes our world a better place.

Here is the list of 30 ideas to try to incorporate in our daily lives:

  1. Reconnect with old friends
  2. Write a thank you note
  3. Buy coffee for a stranger
  4. Smile at everyone you see
  5. Brighten someone’s day with flowers
  6. Offer free hugs
  7. Donate or volunteer for a charity
  8. Be a Snow Angel
  9. Encourage someone with a note
  10. Organize a food drive
  11. Share your knowledge
  12. Pay a compliment
  13. Donate used books
  14. Be kind to the environment
  15. Offer to help a neighbour
  16. Forgive someone
  17. Pick up litter while out walking
  18. Be kind to yourself
  19. Share the gift of music
  20. Treat someone to a movie
  21. Offer a friend a ride
  22. Share laughter – tell a joke!
  23. Gift a reusable bag
  24. Hold the door open
  25. Be a good listener
  26. Brighten someone’s day with a balloon
  27. Show kindness to an elderly person
  28. Prepare and share a meal with a friend
  29. Return a shopping cart
  30. Reciprocate kindness shown to you this month

We truly can make the world a better place, one small act of kindness at a time.

Source: 30 Acts of Kindness Challenge

Choose Positive

Is your cup half full or half empty? Do you spend the majority of your time thinking about what is going wrong in your life or do you see the positive in every situation?

Regardless of our circumstances, we always (yes, always!) have a choice to see the positive side of life. If you aren’t used to doing that, it may take a bit of effort to switch your mind into thinking of the positive but doing so will produce amazing results. It actually re-wires your brains to be more positive!

So, make the choice to see, think and speak about the positive side of every situation. Do it daily, hourly. Look for the good. Really look for it.

Here are a few ways to help us do that is:

  • Start your day saying three things you are grateful for
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal
  • Play uplifting music
  • Watch comedies and movies that make you smile
  • Read books that are inspiring
  • Compliment others, especially those who annoy your
  • Go for a walk in nature and marvel at all the miracles around you
  • Say “I love you” to others… and yourself
  • At the end of the day forgive (others and yourself) and then let it go
  • Before you go to sleep, go over the positive things that happened that day

The choice is yours. What will you choose?

glass half full

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