Have a Pooh Day

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Are you getting frustrated with the world? Calm down with Pooh!

Read this from The Cheshire CT library blog:

How a Stuffed Bear Can Give You Tranquility
by Mary

Stuffed bears and other beloved toys certainly gave us tranquility when we were children, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about philosophy. I’m talking about Taoism. I’m talking, of course, about Winnie-the-Pooh.

Now what, I can hear you asking, does Winnie-the-Pooh have to do with tranquility, philosophy, and Taoism? The answers are revealed in Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh, a book of 158 pages that deftly explains the principles of Taoism and applies them to modern life using the seemingly-odd, but, ultimately, not-so-odd example of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Using excerpts from the Pooh books by A.A. Milne, Hoff makes Taoism approachable and easy to understand. It’s not just a deep Eastern philosophy for hermits and mystics! The tenets of Taoism can be incorporated into everyday life as Hoff illustrates via Pooh, a bear who exists very much in the now.

Using Pooh as his Taoist master, Hoff explores “the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain” along with “the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work”. He uses the examples of Rabbit (Knowledge for the Sake of Being Clever), Owl (Knowledge for the Sake of Appearing Wise), and Eeyore (Knowledge for the Sake of Complaining About Something) to illustrate non-Taoist aspects of life, things that get in the way of happiness.

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret…: Life is Fun.”

And what are the lessons of Taoism?

Things Are As They Are.
Everything has its own Inner Nature.
Enjoy the Process.
Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you let them.

And so much more. This is a perfect read when you need some tranquility, perfect for those desiring some calmness, slowness, some quiet. And the book is fun. It reads easily, quickly, with humor, wit, and quotes from Milne’s beloved stories. It can’t miss and it doesn’t miss.

Take Care of yourself

Dear Fellow Journalers,

If ever there was a time to write a journal this is it. We all need to take care of ourselves and take care of others too. So, what are you doing to take care of yourself?

Steps to take care:

  1. Read something that inspires you.
  2. Make a vision board to remind you of your personal goals.
  3. Use nonsense or a Yankee Candle I your writing space.
  4. Take a nap.
  5. Laugh.
  6. Use lavender.
  7. Don’t succumb to fear.

 

~Sallie

Good Intentions

Dear Fellow Journalers,

You know that saying, “life is full of good intentions?” Well, I started out with pen and paper in hand and then old habits reared their heads. It wouldn’t hurt to just check out e-mail would it? Just for tonight? The more excuses you make the more the intention (habit) fades away and before you know it you’re back doing exactly what you wanted to stop!

I knew the benefits of mindfulness (see past posts) so I didn’t have to talk myself into a new way of thinking. I didn’t want to be affected by the angst in the world yet there I was reading about it BEFORE I turned out the light! So much for that idea, I thought to myself.

Before you make a resolution you have to think it through. I read that statement once in a self-help book and it held a lot of water for me at the time. I needed to go slowly down the path. Baby steps get you where you want to go but slowly. There is a great ad on tv these days about quitting smoking featuring an animated turkey that is dressed in hilarious outfits who slowly “kicks” the habit of smoking with the aid of the product being promoted. Well, if a turkey can do “it” (whatever “it” is to you) than I guess you and I can go slowly too.

The next step is to show myself some compassion. What is my current situation? I have to find what works and makes me more comfortable. If I stop reading the newspaper every day (except for the headlines will that help my peace of mind?

Is there someone else I know that feels the same way I do? We all need buddies to travel the road with us.

Have you ever been in a situation where the triggers to your “habit” rears its head and you  sucked into the “rabbit hole?” It might be a slice of chocolate cake in the break room at work or a new book that has just been published and you just have to buy it. How do you conquer triggers? I ‘re-discovered music.

~Sallie

Prompts and Resources

Dear Fellow Journalers,

quiet-the-mind-meditation

     When you write in a Mindfulness Journal you are already moving toward the practice of mindfulness. You observe your feelings in real-time, paying attention about your thoughts and not challenging them.

     As you become adept at practicing awareness and living in the moment, you’ll naturally want to write out your thoughts. Some people can start with a prompt to inspire them. The main thing is to begin with the same intention  that is a the crux of all mindfulness practice stay present and fully aware.

Some tips:

     a) Decide how much time you want to spend writing your entries.

     b) Write, don’t edit. “Stream of consciousness” writing allows you to access the part of you that lets you experience your life moment to moment.

     c) If you do re-read your journal posts, do so without criticism. If you write long enough, you’ll begin to see patterns in your life. You’ll see what emotions or distractions consume you while you meditate. You’ll be able to see how mindfulness has changed your relationship with stress, difficult people, problem solving and the balance of your life.

     d) When you write note the date, name of meditation practice you used that day and how long you meditated. Then write your comments on your experiences, what you used to re-focus and what you felt.

Questions to ask yourself:

     1. What did I notice and how am I feeling about my meditation?

     2. What am I feeling in this moment?

     3. What is bothering me?

     4. What are my strengths?

     5. I want to thank …..

     6. People always…..

     7. I would like to volunteer my time today doing….

     8. I remember….

     9. I’m really afraid of ….

    10. I don’t want to write today because…

~~~Resources~~~

     There are many books, web sites and videos for Mindfulness. Here are a few resources I would like to share:

Apps

www. headspace.com      turns your tablet/phone info into a guided meditation

www. mediationstudio.com  step by step course available to apple app store

http://www.balanced.com   app to track your life’s goals available to apple app store

Blogs

http://www.bayart.org/2016/09/16-meditation-quotes-that-will-change-the-way-meditation-vibrates-inside-you/

check out my blog post on 4/16/16

Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwkbm_vjc

http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Oprah-and-Jon-Kabat-Zinn-practicing-mindfulness

Other sites

www.copperbeachinstitute.org

https://uniquelyyourscraftjournal.com/2016/04/15/labrynth/

Books

“Wherever you go, there you are. Mindfulness meditation in Everyday Life”

                                                                                    Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Journaling with Jesus”   Laurie Snyman

“Mindfulness made simple” Calistoga Press

“Mindfulness, Meditation and Mind Fitness” Joel and Michelle Levey

“Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and your life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Peace is every step. The Path of Mindfulness in everyday life” by Thichi Nhat Hanh

     May Peace and Joy fill your life.

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

Mindfulness and Mediation

Dear Fellow Journalers,

I first heard about this practice when I taught a fifth grade religion class at my church. I had a rather rambunctious group that year and it took a lot of energy and wasted time to settle them down each morning. Several weeks into that school year, I was invited to a teachers’ conference and was introduced to one of the books that would change my life. It was written primarily for teachers of Religious Middle Schoolers and featured scripture stories and meditations.

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. I read through the book and adapted one of the stories and meditations for my next class. The reaction was amazing. Several students didn’t want to stop and “come back to earth.” Even the most mischievous of the group was calmer. I decided to try the experiment once a month, but after the second month, the students asked if we could meditate every week! In time, I grew confident enough to script my own stories (based on the lesson) and meditations and found myself meditating as well. This practice continued throughout the rest of the school year until I “retired” some 10 years later.

Along the way, I was formally introduced to Mindfulness Meditation at Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford CT. The workshop has become the highlight of my yearly retreat. I learned that this practice has no specific goal except awareness and acceptance in your life. There are many types of meditations – some focus on a word or a phrase, some on a particular image or visualization. You look at your thoughts and feelings as though you were looking at a different person, without analyzing those thoughts or feelings.

Some of the mediations are breath, common concerns, body scan, walking, emotions, night, smile, laughing, loving, difficult people, self-criticism, positive feelings, anxiety, stress, insomnia, gratitude, and peace.

The following is a brief synopsis of how to practice mediation. If you have a book or better yet, an audio of meditation, please refer to that resource.

  1. Find an environment where you can be free from distractions for a short period of time. A peaceful view of the ocean or a picture will help you create this space. Some people light candles or create an altar of found objects like shells or stones.

  2. Choose a chair where you can sit up straight with your feet touching the floor. You can close your eyes completely or just gaze downward.

  3. Pick a time for practice every day that will be non-evasive on your schedule. You can even make an appointment with yourself, if you wish. The duration is up to you. Some people start with 10 minutes a day and build from there.

  4. Pick an anchor. Those pesky thoughts may intrude and distracted thought is not constructive to meditation so it helps to re-focus from time to time. The anchor can be one of the objects in your room, part of your body (like a hand), or word or phrase. My practice has always included the breath as an anchor. There are many books, audio and even apps that can help you in your practice. Mindfulness meditation requires practice not perfection.

  5. Follow your breath. Begin by taking 3-4 breaths. Be aware that you are breathing. Feel your breath traveling from your mouth or nose to your lungs, chest and abdomen. If your mind wanders go back to the breath. After your timer goes off, reconnect to the world around you and process the meditation by writing in your journal.

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

 

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