Orlando. The night club shooting in Orlando this weekend once again brings our country to tears and brings out compassion and hatred simultaneously. Wherever you stand on gun control and whomever you choose to vote for this year, can we all agree that we want to be safe? We want to love and live in peace and joy?
How can we do this in the face of yet another tragedy? I wish I had all the answers. I don't. This morning, I wrote my congressman. And today, and every day, I will choose to practice mindfulness and gratitude, despite the loss, the terror and the FEAR.
According to spiritual teacher Jeff Foster:
Regret is the longing to change the past. Fear is the desire to control the future. Peace is the surrender to Now.
Surrender to Now. How do we surrender to Now? We accept what is and we move ahead. Surrender doesn't mean we approve or like what is happening. It means we focus on solutions instead of problems - what can we DO? WE can take action with love and peace. We can become active in the causes we support. We can spread joy and love and peace in our home, among our friends, in our community.
To do this we must be mindful. Here are three ways to find mindfulness even in the most stressful times.:
Pick one thing a day you love and do it with love and presence. Is it drinking your coffee? Is it working in your garden? Walking in your neighborhood or petting your pooch? The next time you do your thing, be there, totally there, in the moment. Pet your dog and feel his fur, look into his eyes, watch his breath, feel his love, listen to his happy purr. Be there. If your thoughts drift to when you have to walk him or groom him next, and your thoughts WILL drift, simply come back to the feel of his fur, the quiet moments you are spending with him. Every time you come back from your wandering thoughts to what you're doing in the moment, you are truly living mindfully.
Practice gratitude. What we think about we bring about. If we think of misery, sadness, all that is wrong (and there IS a lot wrong in the world right now,) we tend to bring more of it to ourselves. While we are sad and frustrated with much of what's going on in the U.S. and all over, we need to remember the beauty and the hope. The sun keeps rising, we woke up this morning, we have a bed to sleep in, we can walk and talk and breathe and hug and thank.
"Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now."
Hamilton, An American Musical
Every morning, wake up and say 'thank you for a brand new day.' And before bed, write in your gratitude journal one thing you were grateful about that day. Tell your kiddos one or twenty reasons you are grateful to be alive. Ask them about what makes them give pause and say thanks. Even if it was a close parking space, a scoop of ice scream, a good song on the radio. Find your gratitude, share your gratitude. Pass it along. The more we focus on what we have, the less we focus on what we don't have.
Find time every day to meditate. Formal meditation may seem scary, impossible and way too time consuming. While it will take up some of your time, it is absolutely possible and will most definitely help you find yourself in the present moment and calm your body and mind. With practice, meditation will reduce stress and allow you to more fully engage in the joys of every day living while also learning to navigate the difficult times with more peace and grace. Formal meditations can range from one minute to as long as you would like. You can be silent, or choose from so very many guided meditations. Apps like Headspace, Ananda and Buddhify have great guided apps for beginners and experts alike.
While living mindfully and practicing formal meditations will not eliminate terrible external circumstances like gun violence or bring back those we have lost - it will change us - from the inside out and allow us to live in these tough times with more ease and more joy.
Do you have a mindfulness practice? Does it help you during the tough times? What tips do you have to live more mindfully? Let me know in the comments below, or come follow me on Facebook.
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