Living in an Atmosphere of Growth

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If I had to describe my journey in two parts I would say the first part was the physical recovery and the second was mental recovery. That’s lumping a lot of areas together, but in the end that is what I was doing. One thing truly did lead to another. I would begin a course, or hear a talk on subject I was interested in and it would inevitably send me off in another direction of personal growth. Gretchen Rubin calls this “living in an atmosphere of growth.” It would have been nice had I decided to one day just start working on all these areas in my life instead of having something so devastating happen to me, but that is not my story. And I think it’s true for many people. Unfortunately it usually takes some horrific event to awaken us to how we should or could be living. To people I’m meeting for the first time, I can seem extreme. This is partially my Upholder personality, which has always been there, it was just focused on other things instead of growth. Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I live this way because it was a WAY OUT of how I was feeling. And I never want to feel that way again. So when someone says to me “don’t you miss cookies” , the answer is always no. My “why” is crystal clear and keeps me moving forward.

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I say all this because the next step in my wellness journey was a class I stumbled upon given by Elisha Goldstein. It was an online Mindful Living Course that I did over four or five days. I’m going to share some of my revelations I unearthed while taking this class. You can find out more about Elisha here. https://elishagoldstein.com/

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Did you know our brains are wired to survive, not to be happy? Our brain fears the unknown so when we try to make changes our brains start to object. It’s a survival instinct. When we relax, we calm the nervous system. This jumped out at me because if there was anything I needed to do it was to relax my nervous system! According to Elisha, the benefits of relaxation are the following:

Less Worry
Slows Heart Rate
Boosts Memory
Better Decision Making
Less Stress Eating
Protects Mental Health
Protects Your Brain

All super important. Why would I not want all of those benefits? Sign me up! One of tips he suggests, which I have used in my own life are recognizing when you tense up. What people or time of day does this happen? When it happens, we should breathe and stretch to relax. On my Insight Time app, there are many 1 minute meditations for exactly this purpose. If you are bracing you need an antidote!

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Another tip was to practice single tasking. I’ve posted before about the fact that there is no such thing as multi-tasking, you are just doing two or more tasks more poorly than you would have doing one at a time. The biggest change in single tasking for me came with my walks. A couple times a week, I walk at our local nature preserve. I’m so fortunate to have this beautiful piece of nature in my neighborhood. When I walk, I do nothing else. I don’t listen to anything. No audio books, no podcasts, no music. I love all three of those things, but my focus is on the world around me. I do some GREAT thinking during these walks. Decisions get made because my brain can relax and wander. My decision to write a book, start a blog, take a part time job all came out of these walks.

This week think if you find yourself “bracing” and what you can do when that happens. Try relaxing by breathing, meditating or stretching. Also, try single-tasking. See if it makes a difference. It did for me! I can’t wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!


Manifestation

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Day 3

Today’s lesson was all about getting closer to your true self, which we can achieve in meditation. Deepak says when we get closer to our true selves we can attract our desires into our life and to really let our soul be our guide. When I heard this it reminded me that I had heard an interview on a podcast where the discussion was all about soul writing. If you haven’t heard of soul writing it’s when you spend time in a quiet space writing in a free form. Whatever comes to mind, you just fill the page with it. I’ve heard people say they have had some of their absolute best ideas come from this form of writing. I have to admit, this has been on my “to do list” for a at least a year. My plan is for it to go on my 2020 Vision Board! (more on vision boards to come!)

My notes from Day 3 are so telling of my state of mind at the time. I could not see things manifesting in my life and I have to say two of the three have happened and the least important one did not. Not yet. I’m on my way. And I also think that’s the universe telling me to get my priorities in order! Which does happen with a little more work in the future.

So, here are my notes from this lesson.

Question 1
Name 3 things you truly wish you could have in your life and believe to be unattainable, so much so that you resigned yourself to not having them.

My answers are so telling here.

1 To be pain free.
2 To not be afraid of the medical community.
3 To redecorate the house. (SIDE NOTE: I still can’t believe with all I had going on that I listed this as a “wish”, but there is it. I’m not editing. Being honest in all it’s glory!)

Question 2
Reasons why they will not manifest

1 Too much damage to my body.
2 I don’t know how to begin to trust doctors again.
3 Not enough money.

Question 3
Ways nature could arrange for me to get desires. (Imagine it!)

1 Yoga works. I get injections. I continue physical therapy. My brain settles down.
2 Work on ABCDE problem solving. Dispute my thoughts. Keep working on coping skills.
3 I get a part-time job.

It’s funny, when I wrote out that I wanted to be pain free, it truly felt like a wish and not at all attainable. But when I read my answer on how to get what I desire, I was on the right track, even then. This just proves to me that the law of attraction works and was working in my life. Yoga has been a HUGE healer. Yoga gives me strength, flexibility, relieves my muscle tension, reduces my stress and forces me to practice mindfulness. It’s the best part of my day for sure.

Problem solving is another key and something I’ve talked about already here. At the time, again, I can see by knowing I needed to keep up this strategy in my life I was going to make it happen.

Part time work! Yes, after 20 years of being a stay at home mom I finally came to the realization that if my husband and I were going to send our kids off to college debt free (meaning them AND us) then more money needed to come into the house. In addition to budgeting and really getting a hold of our personal finances. Which I did and still do. Again, huge stress reliever! Later in this program, I will actually discover what I want as I get in touch with my true self. Spoiler alert, I AM working a part-time job now, but I’ll save the details for a little later.

This week think about your desires and go through the questions above. I think it can be a very eye-opening exercise!


Hanging On

Day 15-21

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As I finished my last 21- Day Meditation Experience I began to reflect on the reasons I wrote this blog in the first place. On the last day of the Experience Deepak said “Letting go is a choice. If you can forgive, you can trust. Clinging to the past is your separate self.” And the most powerful statement to me.. “Forgiveness is the natural state of a self aware person no longer burdened by the past.” Forgiveness does not come easily to me. I tend to hang on to grudges until they eat me alive. Deepak says “When remembering the past, you relive it again. If you are present that won’t happen. Old hurts feel toxic in our expanded awareness. Forgiveness stops being a problem because there is nothing left to forgive.” It took me such a long time to figure out that when I stayed angry at someone for something they did, I wasn’t hurting or affecting them in any way. It just ate at me, not them. This is something I work on all the time. I tend to be highly emotional so everything I feel is at a very high level. The good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t hide emotions well. If I’m feeling it then pretty much everyone around me is clued into how I feel. When I realized I could learn to “let go” of those past hurts that really opened me up to how much better I could feel. And isn’t THAT what this journey of mine is all about? Feeling the best I can and living my life! Why would I want to hang on to all that STUFF? Do you ever notice how you feel when you relive a moment from your past? It’s like I’m there all over again. The pain, the tears, a knot in my stomach. It’s awful. There are positive outcomes to these events. I know that my ability to be self-sufficient and have a strong work ethic all came out of how early I was making decisions for myself. Which was about 18 years old. I didn’t have any financial ties to my parents so I was making all the decisions regarding college, where I lived, my healthcare, where I went and what I did, everything. Most decisions were not good by the way! Ha! BUT I know that my work ethic is 100% from how I grew up. So, there is good that comes from every situation! The point is not to dwell on the hurts of our past, but to forgive and look for the good that may have come out of it.

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Do you find it difficult to forgive? Try to let go of those feelings and see how it feels. I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks for being here!


Dynamic Life vs Active Life

Day 11/12

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I’ve talked before about Emotional Contagion, and in some ways the energy you bring into a room take on the same contagiousness. Deepak says “When you walk into a room, you bring your energy with you. Everyone can feel it. We choose what we send into the world.” Deepak explains the difference between a Dynamic Life vs an Active Life. A lot of us have Active Lives (mental activities and rushing around and ending up feeling empty). In a Dynamic Life there is a purpose to your energy.

This got me thinking of my own life before and after my injury. I most definitely had the Active life prior to my injury.. rushing, rushing, rushing with no meaning. Very self-centered. Now I have a much more Dynamic Life which I have built over the last few years to include all the things that have meaning and give me joy. It’s a completely different life.

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How was I choosing to show up? What kind of energy was I bringing into the room. We have to own that. We are responsible for it. When someone unleashes their negative energy you can feel it. So, next I was to make a list of how I wanted to show up from now on. Here we go.

Open
Warm
Friendly
Kind
Asking Questions
Talking to Everyone
Be Involved
Be Authentic to Who I am
Engaging
Positive
Complimentary

I try to run through a version of this list before I walk into an exercise class, meeting up with friends, going to events, talking on the phone and even just going grocery shopping! ANYWHERE I will be seeing people. Even in my own home. If I don’t, it’s so easy to fall into being with myself only and cutting everyone off. I can even feel when my energy is like that so I KNOW others around me are feeling it and that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid.

This week try making a list of how you would like to show up in your life. Keep it somewhere you will see it until it becomes a habit to run through it mentally before engaging with others! I would love to see your lists! Thank you for being here!


Hang On!

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Day 7/8

As I moved through my Meditation Experience, thinking about relationships in my life, both with family and friends, a few things became clear. My oldest son was growing up. At this time he was 19 years old and in his first year of college. I’ve come to grips with the fact that he has other things he wants to do now than hang out with his mom! But I miss hanging out with him terribly. This is not a unique situation I’m in. Everyone with grown children would probably tell you a similar story. But that doesn’t make it any less painful. I was losing him. I felt like (and still do) that things are happening in fast forward and I’m just trying to hang on as he makes his way through life. I can barely catch up with my feelings as he moves to the next new thing. I wasn’t used to the idea of him living in a dorm when suddenly we were getting him his apartment for the following year. And at the same time he was asking us to send him abroad to study. I hadn’t even adjusted to him not living at home fully and suddenly all this was happening. It felt fast. Really fast. That’s all I can say. I never feel ready. Things just keep moving forward. I think when they are little and things move forward, we are parents and are in control. So, we can manage it easier. But, when they are adults that control is gone.

What I try to do when I’m feeling out of control is to re-frame the situation and tell myself he is growing into a strong adult. I mean, at some point, he’s got to be off and running on his own right? When I was his age, I had my own apartment (with a roommate) with no one supporting me. I worked a full-time corporate job and went to school at night. I found my own doctors, made my own appointments and began saving for a condo. So, when I think about it that way, he really doesn’t need me as much as I think he does.

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Deepak says “Love is essential as a human.” And I feel like love changes with the different seasons of our lives. I will always miss that little boy who wanted to be with me every hour of every day. When I see other moms and little boys I tend to tear up I miss him so much. It is painful. The love we have for our children can be overwhelming! I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things he does with his life and I will continue to “hang on” as he builds a life of his own.

Thanks for being here!


Like a Roadmap to My Life

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Day 5/6

“Fear of accepting that I’m just not as “book-smart” as some others.” This was what I wrote about myself on Day 5. Not having a degree would sometimes make me feel like an outcast in social situations where I live, as we have the most degreed population in the country. It gets very uncomfortable. Especially depending on the crowd I’m around at the moment. Deepak says “true self esteem means to rest in the self.” Our self image is built over the years and to the ego our self image is everything.

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Next I was to make a list of positive attributes about myself. Don’t judge! This is just the feelings I had at the time and based on my life experiences.

Motivated
Organized
Honest
Caring
Green Eyes
Pretty/Nice Figure
Reader
Varied Interests
Take Good Care of Myself
Good Mother
Responsible
Empathetic

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Making a list like that was not something I’d ever done before (or since!) It does make you quite uncomfortable to start. What great things can I say about myself?! Not something I do! But why not? Just looking at the list I feel proud of who I am. Ok, so I don’t have my degree. But that does not mean I’m not intelligent. Life circumstances stopped me in my tracks while I was in college and I never finished. Life changed again and a few years ago I did earn my Holistic Health Certification and I’m really proud of that. When I finished my certification I was overwhelmed with ideas of what I wanted to do. I wanted and still want to do it ALL!Should I pursue a job working for a doctor? Should I do one-on-one coaching? Should I do group coaching? Seminars? Or online coaching? The list goes on and on. Then during this mediation series I had an a-ha moment where I decided what I wanted to do first was write a book and tell my story. I wrote in my notebook:

“I feel the need to get it all out there to help others. I dream of being an author and someone that can help others with my story. I have no experience in writing but I’m doing it anyway. I just have this pull to do it and get all the words out. There is a story there. Write a book and share it on my blog.”

Well, there is it. I had my answer of what I was going to do! These meditation experiences have been revolutionary and truly life changing. It’s made me think through every problem or opportunity in my life. Working through the journaling at the end of each session really got to the core of my BEING. And the words would flow out like a roadmap to my life. I really believe that.

This week try making a list of all of your positive attributes and see how it feels! I’d love to hear how it goes! Don’t forget to comment! Thanks for being here!


Inflammation

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Day 8

The first time someone explained leaky gut to me I didn’t really understand it. I was in the middle of all my pain with NO answers. But, this chiropractor was on to something when he explained to me how when we take antibiotics it wipes out not only the bad bacteria but all the good bacteria as well. So, not only did my drug reaction cause me injury, it pretty much destroyed my microbiome, which is the source of most of our immune system. Also, when we eat inflammatory foods our small intestines get inflamed which then causes particles to leak out of the small intestine and into our bloodstream. When this happens our body then thinks these are foreign objects that need to be fought. This is the cause of many autoimmune issues and fibromyalgia among a host of other things. If you want to know more about leaky gut and the effects on the body click here. .https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451

If you’ve read My Story, you know what repairing my leaky gut has done for me. A forever lifestyle change. Once I knew what inflammatory foods were doing to my body and my BRAIN it was easy to make the switch. If you want to know how I went about changing my diet, please read my blog post title “A Lightening Bolt Moment on the Hallmark Channel”.

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This week Deepak talks about reducing inflammation for lifelong energy. Yes, an anti-inflammatory diet certainly does give you more energy and so much more. Did you know your gut and brain are connected and that your brain can actually become inflamed? This can cause another whole host of problems related to your nervous system and even your mood. You can read more about it here https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection.

Did you know meditation actually reduces inflammation? You can read more here. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/meditation-brain-changes-study_n_56b4b7aee4b04f9b57d93bef Meditation brings us peace and calm. Deepak says “Daily stresses won’t trigger you as easily.” I’ve talked about how transformative meditation has been for me and it absolutely has translated into my daily life!

If you want to reduce inflammation try an anti-inflammatory diet or paleo diet. I really don’t like the word “diet”. It’s actually a lifestyle. But, you can give it 30 days and see how you feel! I highly recommend Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

Thanks for being here!


The Law of Attraction

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Day 6

“What you dwell on is what you receive” according to Deepak Chopra. It was clear to me if I continued to sit around dwelling on how much pain I was in and how I couldn’t do the things I used to do, I was just going to attract more of the same. Deepak says our power comes from our attention. This is so true. What we pay attention to does indeed grow. He explains that desire needs nourishment in the following ways:

  • Have a clear intention (no excuses)
  • Have positive emotions
  • Believe it will be beneficial for you
  • Prepare for any response. Be flexible.
  • Confident aid will come from the universe
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Having a clear intention daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.. however you want to do it is a gamechanger. It’s a complete mind shift. This is why a lot of yoga classes start with setting an intention. It’s a reminder for when you start thinking about other things. Just like a meditation and coming back to the breath, but in this case it’s coming back to the intention. When we choose an intention we are choosing to manifest something, on our mat, or in our life. Having intention is been so helpful for me. Needless to say, in my former life I did the opposite of having intention. I just was free wheeling and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t recommend that way of living!

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Having positive emotions and believing it to be beneficial falls back to my work on my ABCDE strategies. (See previous posts) My former self would be in a negative mind set. This is our human default. We have a negative bias as protection. You must learn to counteract this with positive feelings and emotions.

But, what I needed to work on most was to “prepare for any response.” Like I said, I was one who loved to control outcomes. But you really can’t control outcomes. All you can control is your reaction to the outcome. I’d been screwing that part up all my life. No longer. I’m so self aware that I have learned how to be more in the flow. I even bought an intention bracelet with the word “flow” engraved on it as a constant daily reminder! It’s that important to me that I correct this behavior!

If you would like to focus your intentions to attract the things you want in your life, try the steps above to start changing what you dwell on and where you give your attention.

I would love to hear your comments! Thank you for being here!


Your Environment Matters

Day 4

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Refuge – a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or trouble. Day 4 of the Mindfulness Challenge was creating an environment that is both positive and inspiring. This includes your physical space, the activities you participate in, the people you surround yourself and your social media. There was a lot to be learned for me here and some was reinforcing what I was already working on.

First, where is your refuge? For me, it is most definitely home. This is my space to recharge my batteries. Being out in the world “doing” requires time to recharge as I’m sure with a lot of us. I have to say that being with people and “doing” is the MOST energizing thing for me, yet I resist it. My new attitude of saying yes as often as possible made this abundantly clear. As much as my social life was giving me energy, I also need that time to recharge. And I need my environment to be a place of inspiration and calm. This also falls into the change I made regarding improving my home life. Small things can make a big difference. Clean something or removing clutter can bring instant calm and happiness.

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This presentation reminded me so much of Gretchen Rubin’s book Outer Order, Inner Calm. A fabulous read! You can find it here. https://www.amazon.com/Outer-Order-Inner-Calm-declutter/dp/1473692687/ref=sr_1_5?crid=BWI3TPK0SEDW&keywords=outer+order+inner+calm&qid=1585062485&sprefix=outer+order+inner+%2Caps%2C157&sr=8-5 Clutter creates anxiety and I certainly didn’t need any more of that in my life! The goal for me was to do small things DAILY to boost this sense of calm and happiness. Here’s just an example of some of the changes I made.

Keeping the sink clear of dirty dishes

Filing away all papers and mail as soon as I open them

Taking the trash out immediately

Making my bed every morning

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Your environment also includes any activities you are involved in. Trying something new creates all kinds of benefits like the thickening the cortex of our brains. You can learn more about the science behind that here. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-learn-something-new_n_5890b0bfe4b0c90eff0021fc The goal here was to find an activity that brought me happiness, I found interesting, and was satisfying to my soul. I decided yoga would be my thing. I had practiced yoga on my own, at home, and probably doing the poses all wrong. In fact, I know I was. But at the time, I was not a “class” person. After discovering the importance of group exercise with an EDUCATED trainer, I was off and ready to try new things. I LOVE YOGA. My first class was a free outdoor class which checked a couple of boxes for me. One, it was outdoor exercise, two, it was a group setting, three, it was with a skilled instructor and four it was a form of exercise and meditation. How could I not go? I’m so thankful to a friend of mine who suggested this class for me. It really got the ball rolling for exercise outside of the safe zone of my therapy and fitness center. Which had to happen eventually. I needed to see what I could do out in the world. First of all, yoga, real yoga, is hard. Let’s make that clear. I was not the best at yoga in the beginning. But what I loved was that I could do it, modified in the beginning and I was learning correct form, which is the most important thing in the end. I did those classes once a week for an entire summer then signed up for the membership at the studio that offered the summer program. I fell in love with this studio and it’s instructors immediately. These classes were a little harder, but I felt so safe there. It was painful at times. I really had to call in my practice of “exposing myself slowly”, telling my body this is the new normal, get used to it. It took a long time, and after about a year of yoga three or four times a week, I have seen huge progress. So much tension has left my body. Yoga provides two other benefits that were so important to what I am trying to achieve in my life. One, mentioned here on Day 4 was learning something new. I had to really concentrate on what the instructor was saying. I was learning new poses and positions for 75 minutes. Mindfulness is a MUST! It was serious brain retraining! And two, the meditative side of being in a yoga class. When you are holding a pose you have to stay mindful to maintain it. Outside distractions just slip away. Every class ends with Savasana, a total relaxation pose to end the practice. Sometimes my instructor would read a poem, other times just quiet music, but I always felt transported during this time in class. My body is wiped out, I’m completely exhausted, it’s hot, I’m extremely sweaty and now I’m just lying there taking it all in. It’s SO GRATIFYING. It’s hard to explain how much I love it.

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Your virtual environment is also important, I learned. I didn’t take this action seriously until about a year after I did this workshop. Recently, I did a digital de-clutter, which I will talk about later, but at this point in my life, I was just wasn’t ready to hear it or do it, so I made small changes, like changing my home screen to something inspiring, I deleted a few apps to de-clutter my phone’s home screen, and narrowed down some pages on my facebook feed. These were all positive changes, but the big digital declutter came later..

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And then came human connection. This is were I learned about tribes and how our social connection is the key to happiness and longevity. Even though I have talked about my tribe earlier, like I said, that was something that happened and I realized later that I was building my tribe without knowing it. This is where I learned the importance of social connection. Tribes make us feel safe, reduce stress and bring us joy! So, one of the actions suggested here, which I did immediately was to “curate your social circle”. Literally make a list of the people you see most often, because emotions are contagious and weed out (I know that sounds harsh) and decide who we really want to keep in our circle. We need to keep the positive energy flowing around us. If we surround ourselves with negative people, it will drag us down and zap our energy. Finding inspiring people became a goal. In my notebook I wrote the following:

MeetUps
Volunteer
Environment

All of which became focuses for me over the next year. And I still am always on the hunt. I recently discovered hiking. It’s a new passion of mine. I’m in the process of researching hiking groups but at the same time, I’ve been hiking with my husband on Sunday’s and it’s been really nice. My plan is to keep that up, but also find a group of ladies to hike with during the week when I have time. Like yoga, this will give me social connection, exercise outside, connecting with nature and mindfulness. Yay!

How can you change your environment to be more positive and inspiring? Try the following:

Clean something

Remove clutter

Try something new (maybe a class)

Thin out your social media feed to what inspires and uplifts

Curate your tribe. Make a list of the people you surround yourself most often and decide who stays and who goes to keep positive energy around you. Find new groups and volunteer opportunities that fit your goals.

I can’t wait to hear about it! Thanks for being here!


It’s Not Me Talking

Day 7

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Pretty sure that’s an 80’s lyric that I dug up out of my brain! What I’m really talking about is Deepak’s teaching about the ego. Today’s lesson in my 21 Meditation Practice was still focused on the present moment but now also talking about being the observer of your own thoughts. Years ago Oprah did a online course with Ekhart Tole on A New Earth. This was my first forte into learning about the ego. Once you learn it you can’t unlearn it. I see it EVERYWHERE. In myself, in others and people I don’t even know. I hear the ego speaking. If you recognize this voice as your false self you can see that you are the observer of your thoughts. Deepak says “we are not our thoughts”. That is so true. Having this awareness was so enlightening! It just drives home the idea that my true self is in my awareness, not my thoughts. If my thoughts are taking me down the road of worry and past hurts, that takes up my present time. I needed to learn how to be in the present as much as possible to keep stress and worry at bay. Deepak says there are three things that take up the present moment.

Dwelling on old regrets

Anticipating the future

Worry as protection

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I did all of these on a regular basis. Dwelling on old regrets was something I did occasionally, but not as much as the other two. Anticipating the future!! All the time. This was where all my “what if something happens to my kids” worries lied. And until I heard this I never thought about worry as protection but that’s exactly what it is. It’s like preparation for disaster. I would say to myself “if I think about it enough, it won’t happen”. It’s exhausting really. I DO NOT want to live that way ever again. And I’m happy to say I don’t. At the moment, I have a parent who is dealing with some health issues. I’m even surprising myself at how well I’m handing it. I’m not up all night with worry, I’m not projecting the future, I’m not thinking about it nonstop. It’s truly incredible. The old me would be stressed to the point of not eating, (a hallmark indicator of my stress levels) talking about the “what if’s” constantly and obsessing over any information I could find on webmd. I’m tired even reading this. No wonder I felt the way I did! Like I said before, meditation carries over into real life and I’m living proof of that! Staying present is a part of my practice.

Do you find yourself not in the present moment? Think about trying the following:

Remember that only the “now” is real.

If you find your self talk is focused on old regrets or worry about the future, recognize this as your ego (your false self). You are not your thoughts.

Please comment below! Thanks for being here!