Weekend Percolations: 17July2016

 

It’s been a tough month in the western world, but let’s not forget this is the norm for many people around the world. To those who have been touched by violence, our hearts go out to you.

Let’s learn to be more caring on social media.

Happiness leads to success, according to this fun study.

Here is a great resource for daily self care.

Krista Tippett talks about Becoming Wise.

I want to Work Less, Play More.

What are People For? by Wendell Berry

Be thankful for the gift of life.

We are all connected.

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Heron in flight

Heron totemArt Every Day Month, November 2015. Last weekend I saw a blue heron in flight. They are such beautiful birds, which I tend to notice in the various local ponds and marshy areas.

I looked up the symbolic meaning of heron and discovered it is at home on land, in the water and in the air. The land (or earth) reminds me of being grounded and stable. Water reminds me of floating or going with the flow. Air is a connection between heaven and earth, which reminds me of spiritual strength. The heron can be a symbol of being present in the NOW, wherever we are at.

Has a heron come across your path recently? What other aspects of nature are crossing your path?

The power of words

words 2012Each year I try to choose a theme word to help me focus on my goals. In 2012, my theme was Self Care. It encompasses a number of other words as well. I created this word cloud poem with various supporting words.

When I take time to name the things I want in my life, those things happen.

As newlyweds, my husband and I wrote goals for one year, five year and ten years as a way to focus on what we wanted to accomplish as a couple. We noticed that we would meet most of these goals long before the projected time frame. We started reviewing these goals every 1 to 2 years and revising them as needed, since we seemed to be ahead of schedule.

When we decided to look for a new home, we each made a list of things we wanted to find in a new location. We then made a combined list of things that were non-negotiable (such as an attached garage and a basement) as well as a “wish list” of things that would be nice to have (like extra property and space for ceramics) but not crucial for our decision. We posted that list on our refrigerator. It was very helpful when we met with the realtor. Within a few months, we moved into our current home that had everything from the first list and almost all the things from the wish list. Naming what we wanted in a house helped us find our dream home.

When we had children, we didn’t always take time to review our written goals yearly, but they were always there in the back of our minds, guiding our decision making. The long-term goal list became more general with themes of hospitality, service and involvement in our children’s lives. The short term goal list often morphed into “To Do” lists of home repairs, vacation plans or events to attend. Our mantra was “Let’s put it on the calendar, or it won’t happen.” You can track our goals through the calendar during those early parenting years.

At this stage in our life, I like to simplify things. I like the idea of choosing a word or phrase for the year as an overall theme.  Balance. Simplicity. Hygge. Breathe. Self care. These overarching themes keep me focused on what is important.

Words guide our decisions.

10 shadow 3As I meet with clients for their bodywork sessions, I discover that helping them speak their goals out loud during the session can have a profound impact on their health and well-being. One person wants to feel calm or relaxed, while then next person wants to be energized or motivated. Sometimes my clients want to feel peaceful, centered, hopeful or open to new possibilities. They name these goals out loud during the session, then relax as I release held tension. I perform the same basic Zero Balancing protocol with them, but they often leave the session feeling the very thing they asked for at the beginning of the session. That is the power of the mind.

Our words become a self fulfilling prophesy.

Some people name this phenomena of the self fulfilling prophesy as “the law of attraction” or “the power of positive thinking.” Regardless of what you call it, when we speak our words out loud, our mind hears those words and unconsciously begins to align what choices we make with those thoughts. Deep down at the cellular level, our body begins to respond to what we think. This works for both positive and negative thoughts. If we are “sick and tired” of something, our physical body soon begins to feel sick and tired. If we are “happy and excited” about an event, it usually goes smoothly and exceeds our expectations. I try to educate my clients on the importance of positive thoughts because of this concept.

What are the things you desire in your life? What things do you want to accomplish? How do you want to feel? What direction are you headed in life? I hope you can take time right now and name a few things that are important in your life. Speak them out loud. Write them down and post where you can see them.

Words have power. Use them wisely.

Be present in the moment

“God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful and painful.” Henri Nouwen

One way to be present in the moment is to take a Photo Walk each day. I discover all sorts of things to pause and savor. When I am busy with my “To Do” list, I miss the little bits of beauty and insight around me. Photo Walks cause me to slow down and notice the ever-changing world around me.

flowersThe hydrangea bushes have burst into full bloom. They form an impressive wall behind the house. They look like powder puffs. My husband brought in a few clusters and added bright orange Tiger Lily for contrast. He rarely buys me flowers. Instead, he cuts and arranges the flowers and decorative grasses from our property throughout most of the year. He often takes flowers to work for patients to arrange as part of their therapy session.

Each day, the garden changes. Today, a blossom opened on a lone squash plant in the upper garden. Will it will escape the notice of the hungry groundhog and deer? If it doesn’t, we have other squash and tomato plants that appear to be thriving in the side garden. The side garden is fenced in as a deterrent to hungry animals. The plants are much taller there, with multiple blossoms. I will look forward to cooking the squash later in the season.

My favorite time to walk around our property is early morning, before the sun escapes from behind the trees. There are all sorts of interesting shadows and patterns the sun makes throughout the morning. The grass is still wet from early morning dew, highlighting spider webs on branches and slug trails on the sidewalk.

When I take these early morning walks, I forget about the things that occupy my mind at other times. The joys and pains fade. I set aside the easy and hard moments. I look for the artistic evidence of the Creator in nature. God is present. God is in the moment. And when I return back to my routines and the things on my “To Do” list, I remain aware at some deep level that God is part of the easy and hard moments, as well as the joys and the pains.

Photo Walks are an important part of my “To Be” list. What is on your “To Be” list?

Photo Meditations

I’ve always enjoyed photography. I go through cycles of viewing life through the camera lens until my attention is shifted to other things, which causes me to push aside this practice. Eventually I am captivated by a view or a flower or an interesting photo on social media. Then I find myself reaching for my camera and resuming this spiritual practice.

I’m currently enjoying an eCourse by Susannah Conway called Photo Meditations 2015. This week I’m paying attention to lines and shapes and forms. Normal objects are transformed around me as I watch for these forms to appear in my camera lens. I completed Susannah’s April Love 2015 photo prompts earlier in the year and enjoyed the challenge of looking for those interesting views each day. It was fun to see how others interpret the prompts and inspire me with their discoveries. I like having a daily photo challenge to watch for as I go through the day.

I enjoyed Vivienne McMaster’s Be Your Own Beloved eCourse last year. I always learn new tips for taking photos in these courses. In addition to feeling more comfortable taking selfies, I was inspired by Vivienne to take Photo Walks on a regular basis, snapping photos of the things that captured my attention on that particular walk. I usually remember to do this when I go get my mail at the end of the driveway, so I often see the same limited number of objects to photograph around our property. That’s OK, because each season brings new perspectives.

Photography is a meditation practice. I find myself pausing to look closer at objects. As I take pictures, I see the details I normally rush past in the daily tasks. When I return from my walk, I review the pictures and share favorites with friends on Facebook, Instagram or Flickr. I sometimes use a beautiful shot as my screensaver on the desktop computer for further enjoyment.

My typical photo of choice tends to be nature shots. This eCourse is helping me see objects with a new perspective as I tilt the camera or zoom in for a close-up shot. Surprisingly, lines and shapes are all around me, forming interesting patterns. I like this shot of my piano. When I tilted the camera, I was amazed at all the lines I discovered. A good life lesson: Changing our perspective can bring new insights.piano linesThere are some great books on Photo Meditations. Howard Zehr’s Little Book of Contemplative Photography: Seeing With Wonder, Respect and Humility was my first introduction to photography as a spiritual practice many years ago. Eyes of the Heart:Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice by Christine Valters Paintner is a favorite resource of mine. It is full of practical tips and reflective questions. My newest find is Shooting with Soul: 44 Photography Exercises Exploring Live, Beauty and Self-Expression by Alessandra Cave. You can use it for inspiration with all the different prompts and ideas.

Do you spend time taking pictures as a spiritual practice on a regular basis? If you have not tried photography as a meditation practice, I would encourage you to give it a try. Notice the things that capture your attention and snap photos of them. Take a Photo Walk and look at the world through your camera lens. Look for interesting shapes and lines around your home.

Enjoy discovering the world through your camera lens this week!

Three beautiful things

I have a friend who often posts her list of “three beautiful things” on social media as a gratitude practice. She inspires me to practice gratitude, even if I don’t always post those things for the world to see.

Gratitude boosts your immune system and elevates your mood by dumping ‘good feeling’ chemicals in your body. It gives your body a chance to rest and digest, instead of being on alert in our typical fight or flight mode.

It is not HAPPY people who are THANKFUL.  It is THANKFUL people who are HAPPY. (author unknown)

Here are my favorite ways to practice gratitude:

  • Write three things I’m thankful for in my journal each day. i like to do this at the end of the day.
  • Use a blank calendar as my Gratitude list. Write things each day I am grateful for.
  • Post three things on social media that make me happy. I can do this daily, weekly or for a month at a time.journal

When I spend time focusing on the beautiful things in life, I find I have a positive outlook on other aspects of my day. It also bubbles over to others. If you are not already using gratitude as a daily practice, I encourage you to try it for the rest of this month.

My three beautiful things I celebrate today are:

  • A birthday: my dear husband.
  • An anniversary: 29 wonderful years! (June 21)
  • A funeral: remembering a creative aunt.

What is on your list of three beautiful things in your life?