Most people are paying off some sort of loan or loans or working just to pay their bills. Many do not have extra cash to do something as luxurious as to be calm, or so they think.
Here’s the thing, though.
You don’t need money to be calm.
You really don’t.
What you need is brain space.
So, what is brain space?
Brain space is space in your brain that allows you to feel a sense of calm.
We spend our lives walking around with all these thoughts in our heads:
gotta pay off this bill have to make dinner must finish this project need new tires for the car must buy dog food
…and on and on these thoughts keep going rattling around inside our brains.
You can’t be calm unless your mind is calm.
You could go to the most beautiful beach in the world, sit in the sand, and stare at the ocean, but if you haven’t learned how to calm your mind, you might as well be sitting in your living room staring at the TV because you are going to still feel all the stress you brought with you to the beach.
You can run 10 miles a day, and while you are running, maybe your brain settles down as you fight to breathe and keep your heart going, which, of course, takes precedence over any stressful thoughts. Once you stop running, though, that stress seeps right back.
Are you super forgetful?
Chances are your brain is too cluttered, leaving little room for you to remember.
Think of your brain as if it were a favorite room in your house. When you aren’t calm, there are clothes, and newspapers, and old bags of empty (except for a few shriveled up french fries) fast food wrappers.
How can you find anything in such a mess?
You know you left your car keys somewhere in that room, but darned if you can find them with all those piles of junk. Maybe the keys are under the empty Krispy Kreme box that rattles with pieces of dried sugar? Maybe they are beneath the wet smelly towel that has been there since your lake trip three months ago?
There’s so much garbage lying around that you just can’t find what you need.
You have to clear out your thoughts just as you have to clean-up that favorite room of yours.
It’s simple, really.
All you have to do is take 20 minutes, sit down, or lie down, and just be.
Just sit and be still for 20 minutes.
Don’t solve any big problems or think about your favorite song lyrics. Just sit still and breathe.
That’s all you’ve got to do.
Sit, breathe, and do nothing. Think of nothing.
As you sit there, breathing and doing nothing, make sure you acknowledge right now, right in these 20 minutes, you need nothing.
You don’t need anything for the next 20 minutes.
Keep breathing and acknowledge that you have nothing. Go ahead, say it to yourself. I have nothing.
You know what, when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose!
Now let’s take this one step farther. As you sit and breathe, say to yourself, I am nothing.
Now you might be thinking, Hold on there Laurie, I am a big muckety-muck in my community. I have all these people that rely on me.
Hmmmmm…could it be that having all those responsibilities are cluttering your mind?
So, let it go for 20 minutes.
For 20 minutes, all that doesn’t matter.
Just let it go and be with nothingness.
Now, you might be thinking, That’s Impossible! I don’t have the time for anything as ridiculous as all this. Or, you might be thinking, I’m far too busy, or I’m far too important to do that.
Sitting still for 20 minutes will not bring ruin to your life.
What it will do is make room in your brain.
As you sit still and breathe, your brain begins to pick up the trash that’s lying around.
It tidies up.
It quiets down all those nagging noises that prevent you from finding calm.
As your mind begins to work through all those thoughts and memories that are chaotically lying about, you begin to feel more like yourself.
You become that person you were before you knew there was such a thing as money. You embrace that person you were before you knew there was such a thing as pain or anxiety or loss. You realize that person you are seeing within yourself has been with you all along, but the clutter of your mind has kept her hidden.
When you sit for 20 minutes a day and breathe, you begin to see who you were born to be.
You begin to experience calm.
Who wants to be calm?
Well, I’ll tell you who. You want to be calm because when you are calm you are able to do so much more.
With a calm mind, you begin to see how you can easily finish those projects you started. With a calm mind, you begin to see how you can make your finances work for you and not against you.
With a calm mind, you begin to see how you have control over who or what influences you.
With a calm mind, you have the ability to create a better life for the time that you have here on this earth.
Thinking about meditation, but not sure where to begin?
As in, really where? Where does one meditate?
You go to the gym to workout, the pool to swim, but where do you go to meditate?
I don’t have a specific meditation room in my home, and I’m guessing you may not either.
So, how do you start meditating when you aren’t even really sure where to go to meditate?
If this stumps you, I totally get it.
I’ve wrestled with this more than a time or two.
Once, I knocked over my water bottle while trying to meditate sitting perched on a high rock sending the water bottle plummeting down a mountain cliff. Then there was the time I tripped and fell while trying to meditate while running. Boy, was that a big mistake!
If you’re like me, trying something new, no matter how great it is for you, takes patience to work through the epic fails.
From my experience of losses to wins, here is The Happy Bishop’s top ten list of places to meditate to get you started on the path to a healthier and happier mind.
10. The beach
Sitting on the beach and meditating can be a fabulous place to explore the innermost recesses of your mind, but only if you happen to be on a private beach.
We are big beach-goers in my family, and I have found that it is challenging to find a time when a beach area is empty.
There always seems to be people around, like the boisterous kids that ghost crab hunt (Those are my kids, by the way), the sunrise turtle patrol who militantly search for turtle tracks (When I’m in my 80’s, that’s so going to be me!), the morning joggers (been there), and the shell collectors (am that person too) to name a few.
When you think about it, there’s a lot of traffic on most beaches and not just the beaches where I am vacationing.
A better place might be a quiet room where you are staying at the beach.
9. The mountains
Sitting on a large rock on a mountaintop also sounds like a fabulous place to meditate.
Be mindful of how far away from hiking trails you are, and that you don’t wander off too far and become lost.
Fun fact, I get lost often during hikes. Many a 1/4 mile hike with me has turned into a rugged 5-mile adventure.
Also, you’ll want to make sure there are no bear, mountain lions, or snakes that decide your choice of a meditation spot is also their favorite spot.
You will also want to make certain that if you perch on a perfect high rock sitting on the top of a steep cliff, you don’t accidentally kick over your water bottle and watch it roll over the side of the mountain, as you yell, “OH MY GOD, noooooooo.” Of course, the yell is met by an echo announcing your folly far and wide.
That might have happened to me.
A better place might be a quiet room where you are staying in the mountains.
8. The spa
Sitting in a lounge chair in the “meditation room” of a spa all bundled up in your soft spa bathrobe and slippers with a cup of cucumber water beside you might sound like a wonderful place to meditate.
It would be if it was just you and not you and a pack loudly chatting strangers bonding over their spa bridal shower.
I might have had that experience as well.
A better place might be your hotel room where you can sit quietly and meditate and not have to worry about anyone trying to engage you in conversation. Wasn’t it obvious to the bridal shower party that my eyes were closed? Why did they keep asking me questions?
7. The lake
The lake is a great place to calm your mind. You can plop your folding chair by the water’s edge, and relax into meditation.
That is until a large group enters the water in front of you, and you feel their stand up paddle boards miss your head by several inches as they run past you. Then, there is that motorboat you saw in the distance that decides that where you are sitting in the sand is a wonderful place to anchor so the kids can splash and swim.
A better place might be in a quiet room in your home before you go to the lake or after you get home.
6. In the car
I have tried to meditate in the car.
No, not while I am driving, but while I am the passenger.
It’s difficult though because your focus has to be away from your daughter’s choice of music (rap), or your husband using profanity, matching the lyrics of the rap music, at the car that just cut him off.
Hey, is that just in my car?
A better place might be in a quiet room in your home before you get into the car.
5. On the train
Trains have a beautiful way of lulling us into a seemingly meditative state, that is until the child sitting behind you starts kicking your seat, or the massive passenger beside you sticks his elbows into what is obviously your area.
It perplexes me why he didn’t move even after I gave him the stink eye.
Public transportation is just that, public.
When you decide to meditate while riding public transit, the person sitting next to you, or behind you, may not be tolerant of stillness.
Maybe a better place would be to meditate before you get on the train in a quiet room while you are at home or when you return from your trip.
4. During your run
Running can bring peace and clarity, with its repetitive movement and rhythmic breathing.
It’s easy to feel like you are in a meditative state.
But you are running, and you have to be aware of traffic. You have to be mindful of where your feet land so you don’t trip.
I might have fallen dramatically on my hands and knees during one run when I let my mind get a tad too zen.
Maybe a better place would be to meditate in a quiet room in your own home after your run.
3. Your backyard
You might find a place of comfort in your backyard.
That is not the case where I live, but I have a friend with a very secluded backyard who likes to meditate in her garden.
She once had a bird land on her shoulder as she meditated.
How cool is that?
I think for me, though, that would have pulled me out of the meditation as my mind began to holler, “Oh my God! Oh my God! There’s a bird on my shoulder; there’s a freakin’ bird on my shoulder. How cool is this? Where’s my cell phone? I need to put this on Insta.”
Maybe a better place would be to meditate inside your home in a quiet room.
2. Your home
Have you noticed the reoccurring location for meditation seems to be in your own home?
There is a good reason for that.
Meditation isn’t about traveling to an exotic place to find peace.
It is about traveling within.
The best place to “travel within” is where you are most comfortable, and for most of us, that place is our home.
1. Anywhere safe, quiet, and still
The ultimate place to meditate is where you feel safe. A place where there is quiet and stillness is your best bet.
You don’t have to travel physically to get there, only mentally. The best place to meditate is where you can sit, breathe, and relax.
The best way to start meditating is through guided meditations. If you would like to try guided meditation, try using an app. There are many meditation apps available, but I use the app Sattva.
Do you have some favorite places to meditate, or some epic fails you’d like to share? Let us hear about them!
Did you make one or several New Year’s Resolutions this past New Year’s Eve?
Well, here’s what you need to do: dump them!
Completely get rid of them right here and now. Yes, right now. It’s true, we are not even a month into the new year, but let go of those resolutions!
Does anyone really ever keep New Year’s Resolutions?
Have you ever heard anyone accept an award, maybe a Grammy or a Nobel Peace Prize, saying, “I owe this all to that New Year’s Resolution I made back in 2002?”
I know I never have heard anyone say anything great resulted from New Year’s Resolutions, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the fact that all too often they deal with a specific outward change.
Do these New Year’s Resolutions sound familiar?
I’m going to…
eat healthier foods.
stop drinking beer.
Usually, those resolutions come after a month of overindulgence during the holiday season, and we’re are trying to appease our guilt.
We all know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. So, I say STOP with the New Year’s Resolutions dealing with a specific change to your outward life.
Come on now, we all know that those rapid ten pounds that you may lose in January are going right back on during that spring cruise you plan on taking.
That exercise class you signed up for in January will end quickly when you find something less jarring to take its place, like watching March Madness.
Those outward changes won’t stick, and you will find yourself sad, and feeling sad too often takes us all back down the road to overindulge.
Think about that time when you saw a friend go on vacation, and she was so excited about it. She goes on vacation, comes back home, and talks about how calm and wonderful her life was while on vacation. Then, she goes back to being chaotic and miserable in her everyday life. She tells you she needs to go back on vacation. Have you ever heard that from a friend?
Maybe you have heard yourself say those things.
Life isn’t all about the outward. It has to be balanced with the inward.
Just stop the insanity of trying to change an aspect of your life that won’t change without an inward resolution.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if each day of your life was like a vacation?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could lose the weight and keep it off?
Change the inward, and you can start to change your life.
I challenge you to make an Inward Resolution.
Here are some to start you off:
I will focus on…
Living in the present moment.
Just pick one. You don’t have to do all three. Just start with one.
I WILL BE CALMER.
Find time to sit and think.
I don’t want to hear that you don’t have time for that because you do.
You have ten minutes in your day to be calm. Once you make time to be calm, you will find that you have more than ten minutes. Remember that 20-minute rant you went on about how you don’t have any time for yourself? Lord have mercy, I know I remember that rant you went on. Guess what you could have been doing with those 20 minutes instead of going on a rant?
Calm down. You’ll find it so much easier to make better life choices when you are calm, and often those better life choices include exercise and healthy eating, which means you are winning on that New Year’s Resolution you dumped!.
I WILL BREATHE.
Find time to focus on your breathing. We all spend far too much time holding our breath or shallow breathing, which are signals to our nervous system that we are stressed-out!
Don’t tell me you don’t have time to focus on your breathing. I don’t want to hear it. We all know we have time to breathe. We have no choice.
Take a few moments while you are at your desk, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.
What does that mean?
breathe in for four counts
hold your breath for four counts
breathe out for six counts
hold your breath for two counts.
Do this for several cycles.
While you are at a stoplight, focus on your breathing.
While you are sitting on the train, focus on your breathing.
When you focus on your breathing, your body will begin to calm down.
Bring that sweet magic of vacation back home and breathe!
I WILL LIVE IN THE PRESENT
Focus on the here and now.
What is in the past is in the past.
Leave it there!
You are not the same person you were back then and neither is anyone else. You are going to cause a terrible crick in your neck by constantly looking at what went on behind you.
You can’t control what will happen in the future.
We all wish we could, but let’s face it, we can’t control the future.
All you can do is do the best you can NOW.
Stressing about the what-ifs will throw you off balance.
Life is happening right now!
Pay attention to what is going on around you right now.
You’ll find yourself less likely to make bad choices when you live life in the present.
Remember back to when you were on that vacation. You weren’t thinking about the past or present. You were living life largely in the here and now, and you loved living that way!
Now, think farther back at your happiest childhood memory.
Maybe you were 4, or 8 year’s old?
We were all probably doing something different, yet we all had a few things in common: we were non-stressed or calm, breathing freely, and living in the present.
Maybe you were like me, eight year’s old and riding your bike on a sunny day. I wasn’t worried about tomorrow. My breathing was deep and steady. While living in the moment, I felt joy.
Get back to that childhood feeling of joy!
Get back to that vacation-induced joy!
Dump those New Year’s Resolutions you made a few weeks ago, and set your Inward Resolutions.
It’s hurricane season, and there is already another hurricane barreling towards us when most are still picking up the pieces from the last hurricane.
That’s life, though. Life presents one storm after another, whether it is in the form of a hurricane, personal illness, family trauma, and the list can go on and on.
We have to learn to live our best life now and not wait for the storm to pass.
Pampering is an essential part of living your best life. You HAVE to take care of yourself.
I used to live in Connecticut years ago. I loved living in Connecticut. It was such a beautiful place to live.
I made many new friends while I lived there. One of my new friends had immense wealth.
One day, I was at her humongous home, and our daughters were playing somewhere in the house, and my new friend was giving me a tour of her home.
I remember her showing me her bathroom, which was fantastic.
Floor to ceiling windows.
Beautiful sunken tub surrounded by ferns.
“I really love this tub, but I have never used it,” she commented to me.
“Why not?” I asked.
“I just don’t have the time?”
While we walked on to the next room, I was stunned over what she had just said.
How can you not have enough time for a bath?
In a tub you love?
How can life be so hectic that you can’t find 10 minutes for a soak?
Living in the idyllic backdrop of New England, I too kept myself busy; although I didn’t have the grand tub to ignore, I did ignore taking time for myself.
Then, I had a miscarriage at 15 weeks, which devastated my mind, body, and spirit.
Six months later, I had another miscarriage at 8 weeks, which further weakened me.
You’ll never guess what happened six months after that – I caught Lyme’s disease.
I felt like I was in a boxing ring getting punched in the face and gut over and over again by a prizefighter.
It’s just life, though. I am no different than anyone else.
Life can be one hurricane after another.
After it took months to climb out of the deep hole of lethargy that Lyme’s disease threw me into, I began to rethink the whole “No time for the tub” agenda, and I am hoping if that is your mindset, you will reconsider that too.
If you walk by your tub and think, boy I could use a soak, then take ten minutes out and soak.
Who is it going to hurt?
No one is going to care that you took time out for yourself.
If you have always wanted to take a gardening class, go do it NOW.
Don’t wait until the stars align or someone with higher rank gives you permission.
Go take the class NOW.
If you have always wanted to take yoga or exercise class, or meet your friend out for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, go do it NOW!
The excuses you make to not pamper yourself mean nothing.
When you take your last breath on this earth, I promise you, you will not think, “I lived a good decent life. I’m so glad I didn’t soak in my bathtub for ten minutes.”
You may very well say while at the end of your life, “What the hell was I thinking? My life is nearly over, and I never got a chance to live my best life.”
Taking time out for yourself helps you to live your very best life.
When you make that extra time in your day for yourself, go do what you need to pamper yourself.
None of us have that much time in life to pass up opportunities to be kind to ourselves.
Pamper yourself now because that next hurricane is already on its way.
Learning life’s cadence isn’t always easy. It’s not always clear when to sit back and relax in life and when to take action. The ocean knows when to ebb and flow, but for me, it takes a calm mind and at times, trial and error to feel that rhythm.
The Water’s Edge
It was a warm Christmas day in Florida two years ago, and the nine kids were to stay out of the ocean. I sat my chair in the sand and felt instant comfort as the chair sunk under my weight.
Quickly, nine children were in my personal space.
“OK, OK, you can go in the water, but ONLY ankle deep,” I told them.
I hadn’t finished the word “deep” before the nine were racing to the water’s edge.
It took less than five minutes before they were completely soaked in the clear calm ocean water.
They weren’t in any physical danger, but I cringed at the yelling my sisters would do – mainly to me.
“You know we didn’t bring any towels, Laurie.”
“You know we have to go eat Christmas dinner, Laurie.”
“We asked you to watch them, Laurie.”
The yelling would come, but for the moment, I sat and watched my daughters and seven of their cousins exuberantly playing in the ocean in their Christmas clothes, and I felt a sense of calm and peace that comes when you watch children being joyful.
Sometimes we all need to sit back, other times we must flow forward, like the gentle ocean tide before me on that warm Christmas day.
Ebb and Flow.
Knowing when to ebb and when to flow isn’t always easy.
Many of us feel that in order to survive this world we live in we must always be in constant surge mode.
I’m not so sure that’s true.
When the ocean is in constant surge or flow, we have a tsunami on our hands with massive destruction and casualties.
Ebb and Flow.
One of my sisters and I went to see a talk given by Deepak Chopra a few months ago. This sister is a huge fan of Deepak Chopra, so after the event, we waited in line to get his autograph.
It was a long line.
There were about 40 people in front of us when Deepak Chopra, or DC as his fans call him, got up and was ushered out.
We took a deep breath, didn’t become offended that he left before the line was finished, and slowly walked out of the building towards the parking garage a few streets over.
It’s OK that we didn’t get to meet him, we told ourselves. DC gave a great talk, and we felt lucky to be with each other in the big city.
Turning the corner, we found ourselves walking down an empty side street.
We kept our gentle pace and talked through the beautiful still night, resisting the urge to surge forward.
Suddenly, an unmarked door opened on the side of the building, and two people walked through the door landing right in front of us.
Ebb and Flow.
It was Deepak Chopra and a security guard.
In amazement, we stopped, and the four of us stared at each other.
I guess they didn’t expect anyone to be walking up to the door right as they opened it.
I asked, “May I speak to you?”
Deepak immediately held out his hand and took a step towards us.
Ebb and Flow.
We took turns shaking his hand, talking to him, and enjoying the moment life had presented us.
He was happy and friendly, and we felt a glee similar to what it must feel like to be a child and play in the ocean water in Christmas clothes.
After a few minutes of friendly banter, Deepak and his security guard walked on.
Ebb and Flow.
Learning when to ebb and when to flow in life takes practice, and I don’t always get it right.
I don’t get to handle tools much in my household, and here’s why.
For our first home, I thought the space above the kitchen cabinets would be perfect for my basket collection.
Here’s the thing: there was no space above the kitchen cabinets.
So, I took a hammer and started smashing the wall above the cabinet. My husband quickly intervened. He ran into the kitchen upon hearing my work in progress and removed the tool from my hand saying, “No.”
“But, this space needs to be opened up because I want to place my baskets there,” I argued.
Evidently, that’s not the way kitchen demos are supposed to work. My husband muttered something about pipes and a huge mess, and now he was going to have to drywall my handy-work. He hates working with drywall, by the way.
I should not have been surging or even flowing with that project, which required a whole lot of thought and ebb.
The Ebb and Flow Principle
We learn life’s cadence the fastest when our minds are calm. That calmness doesn’t always happen, which leaves trial and error.
It would be nice if life gave us a sign telling us when to ebb and when to flow. It doesn’t, though. Instead of a sign, we have the gentle push and pull of the ocean’s tide as a constant reminder that sometimes in life we have to ebb, and sometimes we flow.
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