Finding that PEACEFUL feeling....even when the children are here!

This last month, both my children (16 & 17) were gone for 3 weeks at the same time. This is a first for me that they were both gone and I had no guests or family here. I LOVE being a mom and I have not been too excited about the prospect of my lovely children leaving our nest when they go off to college. However, after missing them both the first day, I quickly got over it and started to enjoy the feeling of quiet and spaciousness….

Before my kids left, I had HUGE plans of channeling Ms.“Tidy Up” Marie Kondo’s energy and decluttering the entire house, as well as a few other home projects. All those plans went out the window after the first few days of enjoying my childless nest. After almost 18 years of being on 24/7, I felt like I was a 12 year old on her first day of summer with no responsibility. It was heavenly. It helps that I really like my husband and enjoyed the one on one time with him.

It probably helped knowing that my kids were coming back and I know it will take much longer when they DO go off to college. But, since my son’s return, I’ve been trying to infuse that expansive feeling with him here.

One of the easiest things we can do to incorporate that lovely span of peace is to not look at our cell phones when we first wake up. Give yourself time to move into your day without bombarding your mind with texts, news, and notifications. It can wait. Try waiting for ten minutes or more.

Eckhart Tolle says, “Listening to silence awakens the dimension of stillness within yourself, because it is only through stillness that you can be aware of silence….when you become aware of silence, immediately there is that state of inner still alertness. You are present."

In tonight’s class we will focus on cultivating that feeling. When we can bring more space and silence into our day, we become more in touch with ourselves. When we can access that place, we can add more peace and tranquility to our lives.


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Best Possible Outcome

One of the most helpful teachings in meditation practice for me was the lesson of “Letting Go.” Letting go of the need to control (thinking that of course, I knew what was best for a or any specific situation). Well, after a few thousand times of things not working out how I had planned and freaking out in the process, my meditation teacher introduced me to the work of Dr. Larry Dossey.

Larry was an MD for years when he suspected there was a correlation between prayer and positive outcomes with his patients. So, he quit his day job to study his suspicions in a laboratory. By measuring the growth of cells in petri dishes, growth of plants, and the outcome of patients in clinical studies, he found that there was a positive increase in the situations with the involvement of prayer. However, he found that the most significant growth and outcomes occurred when the participants prayed for “the best possible outcome,” vs. “a specific outcome that the participants wanted.”

So! The moral of the story is that there is no possible way for us to know what the best possible outcome is for ANY situation. When we can let go and have faith that God/the Universe might have a better way for things to turn out , we can learn to trust the process. Letting go gives our bodies and minds the chance to relinquish control…to learn to breathe deeply through the difficult times by trusting and praying for BEST Possible Outcome (BPO—as my friends now call it).

Attached is the meditation we did on helping us to learn to let go and use BPO!

This is an article about Dr. Dossey that helps to better understand his work.

Tonight we will continue practicing “letting go.” Look forward to seeing you!

Mahalo,

Carla



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Earth Day

Yesterday, I walked in my 17 year old daughter’s bedroom to find her in tears. She’s my rather stoic child, so I am not used to seeing her upset. She told me she had just finished watching Netflix’s Our Planet and was devastated to see the tragic impact of global warming. My heart broke for her as I held her closely. She knows that she wants to help be part of the change that we need to see happen. I am hopeful for this generation.

I am including a link that give some ideas of what we can do on a personal level. Each of us CAN make a difference!

Things you can do to reduce global warming

I am also including a letter from the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, that he wrote to Mother Earth; it’s a beautiful read to celebrate our planet on Earth Day.

Dear Mother Earth,

I bow my head before you as I look deeply and recognize that you are present in me and that I'm a part of you. I was born from you and you are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth. My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children. We breathe your fresh air. We drink your clear water. We eat your nourishing food. Your herbs heal us when we're sick."You are the mother of all beings. I call you by the human name Mother and yet I know your mothering nature is more vast and ancient than humankind. We are just one young species of your many children. All the millions of other species who live — or have lived — on Earth are also your children. You aren't a person, but I know you are not less than a person either. You are a living breathing being in the form of a planet.

Each species has its own language, yet as our Mother you can understand us all. That is why you can hear me today as I open my heart to you and offer you my prayer.

Dear Mother, wherever there is soil, water, rock or air, you are there, nourishing me and giving me life. You are present in every cell of my body. My physical body is your physical body, and just as the sun and stars are present in you, they are also present in me. You are not outside of me and I am not outside of you. You are more than just my environment. You are nothing less than myself.

I promise to keep the awareness alive that you are always in me, and I am always in you. I promise to be aware that your health and well-being is my own health and well-being. I know I need to keep this awareness alive in me for us both to be peaceful, happy, healthy, and strong.

Sometimes I forget. Lost in the confusions and worries of daily life, I forget that my body is your body, and sometimes even forget that I have a body at all. Unaware of the presence of my body and the beautiful planet around me and within me, I'm unable to cherish and celebrate the precious gift of life you have given me. Dear Mother, my deep wish is to wake up to the miracle of life. I promise to train myself to be present for myself, my life, and for you in every moment. I know that my true presence is the best gift I can offer to you, the one I love.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

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Me & Eddie Murphy dancing on the dance floor....

On Friday evening, I went to a party where I danced AND actually had fun doing so!

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but for me it was, as I have only danced a hand full of times in the last 30 years.

Thirty years ago, one of my closest friends from the Marshall Islands, Nancy, took me to NYC for the first time. For an island girl, this truly felt like I had landed on a different planet. Nancy loved to dance so she took us to The China Club (a really “hip” club at the time). We were out dancing on the dance floor for a bit when Eddie Murphy came out on the dance floor and was dancing with us. It seemed slightly surreal, but I didn’t have much time to really absorb what was happening, as Nancy grabbed me by the hand and escorted me off the dance floor. With what she truly thought was for my best interest, she lovingly said, “Girlfriend, I just can’t let Eddie Murphy see you dance like that.” She then left me standing there by myself and went back out to the dance floor and continued to move like JLo to the beat of the music with Eddie. To say I was left dumbfounded, was an understatement. I knew I didn’t have any dance trophies at home, but I also didn’t think I was a “bad” dancer.

Even if I wasn’t dancing like Elaine on Seinfeld, I have let that experience hold me back from enjoying dancing with my friends and husband over the years. It is what we call a “limiting belief.” Recognizing a limiting belief is the first step in making positive changes for ourselves. What limiting beliefs do you have that may be holding you back?

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It's not what it looks like....

I am back from Spring Break with my teenagers.

I know from this picture it looks like we were together the whole time…this was literally the only moment that the three of us were together at the top of the mountain. Between my man child in his Spyder Man onesie who is embarrassed to be with me (when I breathe he is embarrassed….and yet HE is the one wearing the onesie…) and my shred Betty daughter who I could not even think of keeping up with, I enjoyed the amazing beauty of the Teton mountain range by myself.

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Here is a meditation we did as a group last week on “Letting Go.”


Sacha Stewart - Letting Go & Creation


It was helpful in allowing me to focus on letting go of what I cannot control. It was also helpful in thinking of things that I can let go of that no longer serve me.

Eighteen months ago, I let go of my nightly 2 glasses of wine with dinner routine. Believe me! I didn’t want to let go of what I came to view as my daily treat and what was necessary in helping me to unwind. However, I knew that I was not feeling my optimum by my daily drinking indulgence. Although it was difficult at first, I found that I felt SO much better and slept so much better than before. It’s opened up my life in really beautiful ways…like being able to get up earlier each morning to have some quiet time with the birds and my dog.

When we can acknowledge and accept the fact that we need to let go of something, it makes it easier to do so. Know that it is okay to feel sad about letting go of something (I thought I wouldn’t have as much fun without wine!). Trust that there will be great things to come from letting go.

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A whole new relationship with GOD

I’ve been having lots of practice of this with my 15 year old son getting his driver’s permit recently. This is the child who required my constant effort to just keep him alive (4 concussions—3 ambulance rides). His nickname was “Crash” Jalbert. So, with him behind the wheel and me sitting next to him, it takes ALL of my effort to not jump into his lap and take the wheel. We would both probably be better off with me just staying home and letting him go.

SOOO….I am doing lots of deep breathing and practicing everything I’ve been preaching. I have a whole new relationship with God.

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As many of you know, the science has demonstrated how helpful meditation is for all of us. However, meditation can also be a spiritual practice for us that leads to a deeper and more meaningful life. When we are able to quiet the mind and connect to stillness, we are able to connect to ourselves. Eckhart Tolle says, "Stillness is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation."

Connecting into stillness allows us to connect with the divine/universe/God. Whether you are comfortable with the terms “Christ within” or “Buddha nature,” it is referencing the same idea; the divine is within each of us. We can move pass the physical body, ego, personality, and emotional body and really get in touch with our true essence.

By taking the time to connect to stillness, we can move through the world with more meaning and beauty.

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Giving Thanks without killing each other...

I just read a bumper sticker that said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Let’s keep that in mind when we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner with family/friends—some who may have differing religious or political views. Set the intention for peace for your table and remember that it is better to choose kindness than to choose being right. By choosing kindness, you are making the right choice.

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Veteran's Day....celebrating my Dad

As with every Veteran’s Day, I will call my father who served our country for 20 years in the Army and fought in Vietnam. If you met him, you would never know that he ran a successful EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)unit and was one of the top bomb guys in the Army during his service. Watching him play Jenga would be like watching Pablo Picasso paint…his steel reserve and unwavering hands are a force to be reckon with and you are sure to lose if playing against him. My Dad rarely talked about his time in Vietnam, however, what he has talked to me about was his time on Kauai where he got to meet my Mom on R&R.

During and after the Vietnam War, our soldiers coming back from Vietnam were treated with disdain for fighting in a war that they had no say in. My mother was treated with contempt on numerous occasions when it was known her husband was in Vietnam. So, when my parents had ten days together on Kauai, they were deeply touched by the love and aloha shown to them by our beautiful state of Hawaii. The kindness and respect bestowed upon them still moves my Dad to tears. That time nurtured their spirit and helped them through my Dad’s remaining tour. My mom remembers being at a restaurant on Kauai and coming out of the bathroom to find my father up on stage with the hula dancers. One of the ladies of generous size embraced my father and lifted his feet off the ground (and my Dad is not a little guy)in a giant loving bear hug. They were treated like royalty.

My parents are both relieved that our servicemen are no longer treated poorly by their fellow Americans. So, in some ways we are moving forward! Let’s take a moment today and remember our servicemen and women, as well as their families who are also making sacrifices for our great country. Let’s help melt the toxic divide of our country by remembering our own Aloha spirit when we are with others who hold different political beliefs. Let’s take the time to connect on a heart level and show each other the kindness that we are capable of. We can make a difference!


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Getting off the Rock

Recently, my fifteen year old son, Ryder, announced to the family, “I cannot wait to get off this GOD forsaken island!!” His declaration took me by surprise, as I thought he enjoyed jumping off waterfalls with his friends, walking to the beach to body board, and going to school at the base of the stunning West Maui mountains. Before I reacted with frustration at his obvious lack of appreciation for his cushy life, I reminded myself of my similar attitude when I was fifteen and living on an island that was three miles by a quarter mile long in the Marshall Islands called Kwajalein.

By the time I was a Senior in a class of 33 kids, we were all counting down the days until we were able to get off the “Rock.” We took for granted the immense beauty of living in one of the most exquisite parts of the world. Between the incomparable crystal blue waters, first class diving and other premium water activities, we were spoiled. It wasn’t until leaving this paradise, were we able to truly appreciate the gift we had been given.

Since the advent of Facebook, I’ve been able to reconnect with my fellow Kwaj friends and read how most would give their right arm or first born (slight exaggeration) to go back to the “Rock” for a visit. So, perhaps I could understand in that moment what all my son was taking for granted. Instead of a huge eye roll, I responded with kindness and asked him to tell me of the hardships he faced with living on Maui (ranked by Conde Nast Travelers as THE BEST ISLAND in the world). Sometimes, it is easy for all of to take for granted the natural beauty of Maui, as well as other aspects of our lives—like friends, health, or family….

As we head towards Thanksgiving, let’s take some time to pause and appreciate what we may be taking for granted. Soak in the next rainbow you see and take some time to dip your toes into the ocean. Really listen to your loved one when they are speaking to you. Give thanks for being able to get out of bed and for being able to see those rainbows! Know that this day truly is a gift.

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Kwajalein…the rock

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The divine within...

When I first heard the quote that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience,” I was genuinely moved. It resonated with me on such a profound level. Through my yoga and meditation practice, I developed a deeper understanding of what it means to live from this perspective. In a consumeristic society and culture that places so much emphasis on the physical and material, it’s often difficult to remember that we are spiritual beings.

Meditation can help reduce our stress and it can also bring us into the present moment connecting us with the divine. It can help us understand our eternal nature. It can remind us of what is most important in this chaotic world.


So, take a deep breath and give yourself an internal hello. When you hear that “hello” back, know that you are connected to the essence of who you are.

See you tonight where we continue to focus on connecting into our higher selves. And as our friends in Nepal say—“Namaste;” the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.


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Happy Discover's Day!

Happy Discoverer’s Day! 

Rather than looking outside to discover what is out there in the world, take a moment to look within—the path of self discovery can be much more fulfilling and a huge awakening for you. This can bring your life so much more meaning…than moving through life unconsciously.

Rumi says, “You have no need to travel anywhere. Journey within yourself, enter a mine of rubies and bathe in the splendour of your own light.” Take a moment to sit in nature or put on your favorite music and get in touch with the divine that is inside of each of you. Find that place of peace in your intuitive center. Delight in what you may find.


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Appreciating Death....

Yesterday a good friend’s husband was stung by two wasps. He had a reaction that sent him to an almost seizure like state. It was terrifying for her and her 16 year old daughter, as this had never happened before and they feared he may die. After a 911 call and a day spent in the ER, we were all grateful for his recovery and healthy prognosis.

Sometimes it takes moments like this to appreciate all that we have. Death can be our greatest teacher, yet we live in a culture where it is uncomfortable to talk about, let alone admit the fact that we are all going to die at some point. Death teaches us how precious life is. None of us know when it will be our turn to take our last breath. If you knew you had a week left to live, what would you be doing differently in your life right now?

Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, says, “Learn to live as though you are facing death at all times, and you’ll become bolder and more open. If you live life fully, you won’t have any last wishes. You will have lived them every moment. Only then will you have fully experienced life and released the part of you that is afraid of living."

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Really listening...

Last year my PCF meditation buddy, Julie, (who was very resistant to mediation to begin with!) came to class after two months with a big AHA moment for herself. She was eager to share with us that for the first time in her life she felt like she was REALLY listening to whomever she was talking to. She realized that by listening, she was being present in a whole new way. I was so excited for her as that is one of the benefits from meditation—however, it took me years to understand that and for Julie it only took two months.

As an adult with ADD, I find that it is really difficult for me to not interrupt sometimes. I want to finish people’s sentences for them (much to their annoyance!). It takes effort, but I find that if I try to breathe deeply when I am feeling impatient, I can usually put a muzzle on my chops and let my friends complete their thoughts on their own and express themselves in a much more authentic way than if I was to do it for them. 

Take a moment to notice where you are the next time someone is speaking to you. Are you thinking about what you are going to say next? or are you really listening to what this person is saying to you. When you are truly listening to someone you are giving them the best gift there is…the gift of PRESENCE.

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Responding like Mrs. Carol Brady....

It’s amazing to have a 15 year old son who thinks he knows it all…he is certain he knows everything. One would think I would be thrilled to have such a bright son who doesn’t need to be told ANYTHING!!! Whew! However, his cheeky attitude pushes me to my wits end at times. I have really been practicing my deep breathing with his all knowing teenage brain….I am trying to not to wrap my fingers around his neck while I continue my deep breathing exercises and RESPOND to him in a way that models the likes of the Buddha or at least Mrs. Carol Brady.

Tonight will be looking at the difference between responding to an experience vs. reacting to an experience. Through a mindfulness practice, we can learn to take the critical pause in a tense moment. This can have a profound impact on all of our relationships.

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Halloween stuff in AUGUST????

When I went into Safeway last week, I stumbled upon the Halloween decorations on display…in my flu headed haze, I had to check in with myself to see what month it was….yes, it was still August! I thought to myself, “How can I be present in the moment here in August when I am being pushed into the end of October??”

I let go of the little voice in my head telling me I should by the candy and stepped back into the quiet of my mediation sanctuary where I grounded myself into the present moment. We have the capability to do this at anytime. Be here now…in this moment & enjoy!

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"Worry is pointless...."

Before Hurricane Hector arrived, I was mildly freaked out after watching the behemoth from the satellite pictures. After a day of being snappy with my family, my observant hubby sent me the following piece about being in control. It helped me to put some things into perspective.

The Daily Stoic

Humble people worry less than the arrogant. Why is that? Because they aren’t so conceited as to think they have any idea (or control over) what may or may not happen. The poet Rilke put it well: “Life is not even close to being as logically consistent as our worries; it has many more unexpected ideas and many more facts than we do.”

Worry is pointless not only because it rarely makes things better, but also because you’re rarely ever worried about the right thing!

Seneca’s line was that “nothing happens to the wise man contrary to his expectation.” By that the arrogant person might take it to mean that the wise man is so smart that they are aware of all the possibilities. The humble soul knows that is probably not what Seneca meant. They know it’s more plausible that the wise are aware of Murphy’s Law and the absurd randomness of the universe. That is, within the range of expectations of the wise man is the idea that just about anything can happen.

Remember that today when you get anxious. The thing you’re hoping won’t happen, or hoping will happen...well, it’s just as likely that the world has entirely different plans for you. These plans are often things we couldn’t have even comprehended, let alone anticipated or prevented.

So let go a little bit. Don’t worry. It’s unbecoming. It’s arrogant. Be humble instead.

Noticing...not judging....

Yesterday, I was with my 16 year old daughter, Malia, when we were driving by a neighbor’s house under reconstruction. There are some things being done in a rather different style than the other neighbors. I pointed out to my daughter that it annoys me that it is so “different.” She then looked at me, without any judgement, and said, “It only annoys you if you choose to let it annoy you.” Wow. She’s spot on. She is my child who came into the world with a moral compass the size of the Dalai Lama’s. However, when I told my husband what she said, he replied, “It would be nice if she practiced that with her brother (who’s breathing annoys her!). 

One of the goals of mindfulness is to try to view the world through that neutral lens. To be objective in our observations. When we are able to do this, we are less likely to go down the rabbit hole of negative talk. As a result, our calm mind keeps our body calm and in that optimum place of healing and health.

Notice when you are being critical. Instead of beating yourself up over it, just say, “noticing.” This practice will help you feel better about yourself and your day!

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Stubborn Gladness

After I read the morning news and some posts from friends with different traumas or dying pets, I was ready to swim in a dark cup of despair & gloom….then I remembered a podcast with the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who spoke of living with a “stubborn gladness.” She first heard of this telling from a Jack Gilbert poem that I’ve included below.

 So, I turned off my phone and focused on the chirping birds and silliness of my goofy dog named Moose. Letting go of the blue funk and redirecting my energy towards more cheery aspects of my life, lifted my spirits.

Yes, there is great suffering around us AND we can let it get us down or we can choose to pull out our rose colored glasses and an attitude of “stubborn gladness” to move through the day.

Despite whatever is going on in our lives, it feels so much better to live this way. Take a moment to find those rose colored glasses and put them on for the rest of the day….or for at least a few minutes.

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Put those rose colored glasses on!!

A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils. But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants. Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women at the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and the awfulness in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody in the village is very sick. There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta, and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay. If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance of their deprivation. We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil. If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude. We must admit there will be music despite everything. We stand at the prow again of a small ship anchored late at night in the tiny port looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning. To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth all the years of sorrow that are to come.