Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Prepare for the Journey

suitcaseHave you ever had a dream that seems to hit you over the head with a message? Last night I had one of those dreams… I was going on a trip with my family and, try as I might, I could not get ready to go. There was always something else I needed to do first. We were late and everyone was waiting on me. But I needed to clean the dried-up macaroni out of my son’s bed (don’t ask me – it was a dream!), and fold the laundry, and create a detailed Christmas shopping list. Someone needed me to find clean socks and someone else wanted me to help with a project. My husband wanted to make sure I printed out directions and knew where we were going. Every time I went to pack my own bags and get ready to go, something else needed to be done.

I woke up anxious. But it was a good reminder for me. “Take care of yourself. Be prepared for the journey.”

I’ve been busy – but let’s face it. We’re always busy. There is always something that needs to get done and there is always someone who needs something from you. It is so easy to make ourselves last on the list of priorities. Make sure you take the time you need to care of yourself.

So today I want you to make yourself a cup of tea, or sit in a sunny window for ten minutes, or buy yourself some fresh flowers, take a bath, breathe deeply for 3 minutes, finish a small task that has been nagging you forever (not start a big project that will swallow you up!), color a picture out of your child’s coloring book, read a poem, write a poem, doodle for 5 minutes….Anything that will nourish your soul and remind you that to live your best life, you must make yourself a priority. Be prepared for the journey!

First Published 2011

15 Nov 2013

Birth of the Inner Critic

Gremlin SquashedLast week I wrote about that inner critic who sits in our head and screams about everything we do wrong. We all have one. Some critics are tamer than others. Some critics are downright abusive. But most of us can agree that it’s there. So what is it and how did it get there?

We come in to this world whole and unscathed. But at some point in our childhood there occurs a heartbreak. The first of many. This is unavoidable. It is part of the human condition. It can happen through a single event or through an accumulation of events. We can be hurt through physical or emotional abuse or through the teasing of siblings or peers. It could happen at home with our family or out in the community. But, it happens. At some point we get the message that who we are is not ok. Or that at least some part of us is unacceptable.

It is at that point that the critic is born.

There is a part of us that is determined to stop this heartbreak from happening again. It becomes a policeman or an over-protective parent. It monitors our behavior. It keeps us hidden in order to keep us safe. It tries to control us in order to protect us from ridicule, rejection or abuse.

So the critic, then, is actually trying to help us.

The problem is that sometimes this critic becomes too powerful. And too big. And too mean. Sometimes that internal voice does us more harm than good. It cripples our confidence and interferes with our growth and development. It uses harsh, abusive words. It needs some serious sensitivity training!

So what is one to do? The first step in managing the critic is to notice it. Without judgment. Without agenda. Just notice it. Study it. Notice when it is most active. What words does it use? What does it try to protect you from? Just watch it. Be curious about it – like an anthropologist studying human behavior. And remember. You do not have to believe what it says. I’ll repeat that (again and again…). You do not have to believe what it says.

In the coming weeks I will write more about the inner critic as well as some of the other voices you may notice inside your head. If you can have an inner critic, why not an inner cheerleader? Or an internal wise old woman. And of course there is the inner child (No. I’m not trying to give you all multiple personalities! This is all perfectly normal, I promise!). It’s fun to get to know yourself in this way. Take this journey with me!

First Published 2011


12 Nov 2013

Savoring Spring

crocus resizeMy garden is showing signs of spring. In addition to the jungle of weeds that seems to have appeared over night, I have daffodils, tulips, and peach blossoms. I love it. But I’m sad to say that I almost missed my crocuses altogether. They’re so small that it’s easy to walk right on by and not notice them – especially when I’m rushing out the door or preoccupied with other thoughts.

Does this ever happen to you? You’re so busy thinking about what you need to do that you become unaware of your surroundings? I’m betting that it does happen to you. In fact, if you are like most people, you probably spend more time in a state of preoccupation than in a state of present awareness.

Not only are we preoccupied with our thoughts, most of us are unaware of what those thoughts are. We go about our day with minds that are worrying and fretting and thinking outside of our control. This is normal. It is part of the human condition. But religious teachers, psychology professionals, and wise old grandmothers all agree that we will be happier if we “stop to smell the flowers.” That is to say, making a conscious effort to be aware of the present moment is essential to our well-being.

Worry accomplishes nothing. But one conscious breath will give you a moment of timeless peace. So make sure to savor moments of spring. Take a breath. Look at a bug. Smell a flower. Listen to a giggle. And let everything else melt away for the second it takes to do this. Then you can return to business as usual. You will be happier for it.

First Published 2010

06 Nov 2013