Thursday, March 31, 2016

Our Minds

Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts.  What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future?  Remain in the simplicity of the present moment”.
-Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Our minds can be such wonderful things.  Over the years I have enjoyed the development of my intellect and imagination.  I love it that I can sit down each day and spontaneously write these daily thoughts.  All of them are written in approximately five minutes with no prior thought.  Other times, however, my mind can torment me and keep me awake at night.  I don’t tend to be a worrier but sometimes I am guilty of imaginary conversations that I should have had or I want to have.  Sometimes I torment myself with how I wish I had said something differently.  Words out of your mouth are like water over the damn.  I sometimes enjoy thinking about past experiences that were a lot of fun or meaningful but I generally have few regrets.  I also look forward to the future but I don’t worry about it.  I am going to retire from working for a living in one year.  Do I have enough money?  Time will tell.  What I know is that I have done the best job I could do to prepare for retirement so I am going to take the leap and hope for the best.  By remaining in the present moment, and enjoying it as best you can, you won’t have time for regrets or worries.  Life has a way of taking care of itself and despite the fact that I’ve had some bad experiences, I have not had a bad life.  Change your thinking and change your life.  This one sentence summarizes most of the philosophical or self-help teachings I have ever read.  Our minds can give us some of our greatest joys or they can fill our lives with mostly imaginary suffering.  It's up to you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Not merely an absence of noise, real silence begins when a reasonable being withdraws from the noise in order to find peace and order in his inner sanctuary”.
-Peter Minard
Some times when I take a walk outside I cannot believe how noisy it is.  There have even been times when I was listening to music and it was so noisy I couldn’t hear my music.  We have almost reached a saturation point on this planet when there is no place on earth where you can get away from human activity and noise.  This is to say nothing about the noise inside each of our heads.  Most of us go through our day trying to accomplish our tasks despite the inner chatter that fills our thoughts.  I have used the analogy before of a tree full of monkeys to describe what is going on in our heads on a daily basis.  How can we stop the noise?  There is all kinds of noise.  A dump truck going down Main Street can be deafening.  It is a rare day that I don’t encounter an ambulance or fire truck on my evening commute.  If you work in the office there is often commotion and noise.  I am a music lover but a monk once said that even Beethoven played all day is noise.  By being present to the moment, by focusing on our breathing, and be taking advantage of all opportunities to be in quiet places, we can minimize the noise in our lives.  Spend some time in your day today being alone, being still, and being quiet.   

Monday, March 28, 2016

Practicing Mindfulness Is Befriending Yourself

Mindfulness is the art of befriending yourself.
It is not selfish to think of yourself unless you are doing it every minute of the day.  Mindfulness is a gift you give to yourself.  When I step back and breathe, I am healing myself on many levels and that makes me a better person.  By befriending myself and allowing myself to heal my own brokenness, it is also good for other people.  The more I am centered within myself, the more calmly I can deal with the rest of the world.  When I am really calm I can even deal with people who are difficult or obnoxious.  It is important to love yourself but not to the level of being a total narcissist.  A person with self- esteem, confidence, and a calm spirit is a person who can change the world around him.  Two of my favorite examples of such people are the Dalai Lama and Gandhi.  You don’t have to be a jerk or an authoritarian type person to be highly effective.  In fact, quite the opposite will probably be true because those around you will be quietly revolting against you.  I have never suffered from being too kind or too compassionate.  A kind and compassionate person is not a weak person.  They generally have a strong presence and more often than not make great leaders.  Stop, breathe, love yourself, be kind and compassionate, and you will be a positive force in the world.    

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Value Of Meditation

“Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively”.
-Sharon Salzberg
Once you acquire an education, no one can take it away from you.  You might end up as a CEO or a derelict but you will still have that Master’s Degree.  The same is true when you have a skill.  After 30+ years at Humana, I am confident that I can manage people here and anywhere else I might end up.  I also know how to meditate.  I have been studying it and practicing it since the 1970’s.  I have done it at work, at home, in the woods, on airplanes, and in monasteries.  Meditation is like going to the gym.  On a day to day basis it may not appear to be doing anything.  Meditation does its work in secret.  Over time it changes you.  Recently, in a situation that would normally upset me and make me want to fight, I remained unusually calm.  That is one of the effects I want meditation to have.  Believe it or not, I am not always as calm as I appear.  I am getting old but there is still a lot of fight in me.  Other times I have used meditation to control pain or relieve minor anxiety.  I still don’t have the personal discipline to meditate as regularly as I should or want.  It is easy to do in the early morning before I leave home for the office.  It’s very difficult for me at the end of an exhausting work day.  I usually fall asleep but one teacher told me that’s OK because that is what I am needing in that moment.  I encourage all of you to take some time throughout your day and simply breathe.  Stop what you are doing, be still for a few minutes, and simply breathe.  It doesn’t take much effort and like physical exercise it will transform you over time.  We all live in a stressful and challenging world.  Breathing helps… 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Power is about what you can control.  Freedom is about what you can unleash”.
-Harriet Rubin
In today’s world a lot is said about empowerment.  What does that really mean?  It doesn’t mean letting everyone run wild.  In much of corporate America there are rules about everything.  Over and above the rules that are actually documented, there are the rules people just make up on the spot.  When confronted with imaginary rules I have often asked, “Where is that written”?  Over the years I have also noticed that people sometimes follow rules they think exist when, in fact, there is no such rule.  It is not unusual for people to say, “It’s not my job”.  Another common phrase I’ve heard is, “I thought we aren’t supposed to do that”?  Some rules are necessary, usually because of bad behavior on someone’s part, and many things need guidelines, but many other rules are just constricting.  I once read about a company who had no rules.  Their associate handbook simply said, “You were hired for your intelligence and good judgment.  Use it”.  This describes empowerment.  Employers must believe that their employees are not idiots and they must trust them to make the right decisions, especially if they are in leadership positions.  A lack of trust encourages people to not take initiative or think outside the box.  Most employees are more concerned with following the rules and staying out of trouble because many organizations are fear driven.  Organizations that are full of rules and specific expectations about how things should be done can stifle creativity, independent thinking, and associate growth.  Always following the rules is a power game.  Empowerment can release untold possibilities and unlimited potential in people who may feel and act like drones in overly controlled environments.  Set people free and see what they can do.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Life Is Our Teacher

“Each place is the right place, the place where I now am can be a sacred place”.
-Ravi Ravindra
This is a difficult teaching for me to accept.  In a cosmic, generic way I can believe that all of life and everything in it is sacred.  Life feels less sacred, however, when I am stuck in a traffic jam, having a bad day at work, or I have jacked up my television and I can’t get it to do what I want it to do.  Many spiritual teachers have taught that it is the challenges and difficulties of life that are our greatest teachers.  Many people believe that insight is received in quieter moments or in formal periods of meditation.  This is certainly true at times.  When I am frustrated or annoyed I am not always open to what the moment is teaching me.  Some moments of my life I feel like little more than a grumpy old man.  In other more enlightened moments I try to understand why I am annoyed or frustrated.  I try not to let my emotions get the better of me.  Most of the time I am trying to understand why I am having the emotional response that I am feeling.  I tend to focus more on understanding my negative emotions but sometimes I also try to understand why I am feeling happy.  It bothers me when I sense my negative emotions outnumber my joyful ones.  Your day, and how you react to it, can be a great teacher.  Some days, however, I pass the class of life, some days I fail it, and with increasing desire I often want to skip the class of life and play hooky.          

Monday, March 21, 2016

Relax! Nothing Is Under Control!

As we encounter new experiences with a mindful and wise attention, we discover that one of three things will happen to our new experience:  it will go away, it will stay the same, or it will get more intense.  Whatever happens does not really matter”.
-Jack Kornfield
I once saw a picture of the serene Buddha sitting calmly with the caption “Relax.  Nothing is under control”.  We human beings like to control everything when the reality is that we control nothing.  The best we can do is flow with life and try to guide it’s energy.  My wife is a firm believer in Murphy’s Law.  Murphy’s Law, for those unfamiliar with it, is that if anything can go wrong, it will.  We can plan.  We can prepare.  We can hope.  None of these things will guarantee anything.  The best thing we can do is be open to the unexpected and be flexible with the reality of the moment.  It’s a worn out phrase but I still like “It is what it is”.  I can leave work at the end of the day and everything is looking good and I am current.  The next morning can be a disaster.  The same is true with all of life.  Each day is what it is.  I disagree with the part of the above quote that says, “Whatever happens does not really matter”.  What happens to us does matter.  However, we cannot control life so that it always unfolds as we would like it to do so.  If that were true, I would already be retired with $5,000,000 in the bank and a home in Hawaii.  Life requires us to bend with the wind and not always stand firm against it.  Standing firm, or being inflexible can cause us to snap.  Bending with the wind allows us to bounce back when the wind has ceased blowing. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

All Of Life Can Be Sacred

Remember one thing: meditation means awareness.  Whatsoever you do with awareness is meditation”.
Have you ever left your home in the morning and arrived at work with no memory of the actual drive to the office?  I certainly have.  I was not the least bit mindful of my morning commute.  The entire drive was done on auto-pilot.  There is a Zen teaching that goes, “When you walk, walk.  When you eat, eat, and when you sit, sit”.  In other words, do what you are doing and be aware of doing it.  In a spiritual sense, being asleep means that you are going through your day in a state of mindless routine where you are going through the motions of your activities with absolutely no awareness of what you are doing while you are doing it.  There have been times when I was driving home after work with my wife and she will ask, “What did you do today”?  Sometimes I go blank because I cannot remember a single thing I actually did.  Meditation is not limited to twenty minutes sitting in the Lotus position with a candle burning and the aroma of incense filling the room.  OK, sometimes I really do this with the exception of actually sitting in the Lotus position.  What Osho is telling us is that everything we do, if we do it with awareness, is a meditation.  When I sit in silence each morning drinking a cup of coffee before I leave home for my occasionally mindless commute, drinking my coffee can be a meditation.  I can be aware of its aroma, it’s warmth, and its taste.  I am not just chugging some caffeine so I don’t fall asleep on my morning commute.  The mindful and aware sipping of coffee, or tea, if you prefer, can be a morning prayer.  The reality is that all of life can be sacred.          

Inner Peace Is Ephemeral

No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it”.
-Harry Emerson Fosdick
Everyone wants inner peace.  No one has it all the time.  Years of spiritual seeking, decades of “growing up”, and a life time of seeking the meaning of life have not given me inner peace.  Most of the inner peace I have ever experienced in my life quickly evaporated like fog on a sunny day.  It is ephemeral.  I am starting to believe that you cannot really seek anything.  You can only find it.  If you are looking for happiness or inner peace, you will never find it.  In some ways that which we seek has always been present.  We just don’t have the eyes to see it.  In order to see we must be awake.  We become awake by being present.  It’s difficult to be present when you are multi-tasking and being pulled in ten directions by the demands of your life and work.  Most of us are controlled by our life instead of being in control of it.  I am getting old and I thought my life would be much simpler by this time.  Although my children are now adults, my life still seems complicated and full of demands.  I have expectations on me as a grandparent that I didn’t expect to have.  I worry a little about my physical decline and my financial security.  My wife and I both realize that one of us will be the last one standing and we wonder what that will be like after a lifetime of marriage.  Still, when I stand in the sunlight and I feel a breeze that cools my face and ruffles the trees, I feel a sense of peace.  I bathe in it for as long as it lasts.  I can’t grab it or hold on to it.  I can only be present to it for as long as it lasts.   Like the fog it will melt away.  The good news is that it will also return when I am not looking for it.  I just hope I am awake when that happens.     

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Creating Space In Your Life

In order to sow seeds, you must first clear a patch of land.  Mindfulness helps to clear a space in our minds which we can use to plant the seeds of hope and joy in”.
We too should make ourselves empty, that the great soul of the universe may fill us with its breath”.
-Lawrence Binyon
There are few of us whose minds and lives are not cluttered.  We may be thinking too much or have too many things to do.  If our minds were a vacant lot, in most cases they are overrun with weeds.  Mindfulness helps create space in our lives.  We all need room to breathe and time to pause.  By disciplining ourselves to stop and pause throughout our day, we can simply breathe and catch our breath.  Our lives are not intended to be overflowing with worries, concerns, and activities.  As I like to say, “It is better to be doing nothing, than to be busy doing nothing”.  I saw a quote by Mark Twain yesterday that went, “Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more restful”.  The important tasks of our day have a way of getting done.  Much of the rest is often unnecessary and meaningless busywork that has little real value.  I am sometimes alarmed at how many things I have done in my life that did nothing to make life better and often wasted my time.  At this stage of my life time is more and more precious and the last thing I was to do is waste it by being busy doing nothing.  This has been especially true in the work environment over the years.  Some people seem to have a gift for creating unnecessary tasks for other people.  Much time has been wasted over the years in non-value added activities.  Create space in your minds and life, and before filling it back up, remember that less is more.      

Monday, March 14, 2016

Some Thoughts On Minimizing Stress

If you really want to remove a cloud from your life, you do not make a big production of it.  You just relax and remove it from your thinking.  That’s all there is to it”.
-Richard Bach
Two Rules For Avoiding Stress In Your Life
  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  2. Remember that almost everything is small stuff
One of my personal weaknesses is that I sometimes obsess over small things.  When I do this I can turn a bump in the road into a mountain.  I have learned this is part of my personality.  My type is a gut type which in the short term is more reactionary than logical.  In most cases my logical mind eventually takes over and whatever happened is put into perspective and seen for what it really is.  The Buddha teaches that all of our suffering comes from our own minds.  It is not what happens to us, it is how we react to it.  In other words, most of the so called clouds in our lives are self-created.  A positive person would suggest that if we can create our own clouds, we can also make our own sunshine.  Attitude is everything.  It is usually what separates happy people from those who are always upset about something.  Knowing this doesn’t make life any easier.  There will always be people and daily inconveniences that challenge us.  Modern life is stressful and even the calmest among us sometimes wants to scream.  We all need to practice relaxing and chilling out along with our mindfulness.  We all need to step back frequently and just breathe.  Everything is not life and death.  There are more inconveniences in life than true crises.  Life, health, love, family, friends, and happiness are the important things in life.  The morning commute, the annoying co-worker, the surly clerk in the grocery, the jerk that honks at you the second the traffic light turns green are part of the small stuff in life.  Make what is truly important the priority in your life and let the rest of it roll off your back.          

Friday, March 11, 2016

Awareness In Itself Is Healing

“Awareness in itself is healing”.
-Fritz Pearls
Let’s be honest.  We are all in need of some kind of healing.  Most of what hurts us is not visible to other people.  It may not even be obvious to ourselves.  In a previous daily thought I mentioned being an “impartial observer” of our emotions.  In order to do this we must be self-aware.  In order to be self-aware, we must be awake.  I do not mean that time when we are not sleeping.  The type of awake that I mean is when we are conscious of the moment.  The reality is that most people are consciously asleep even when their bodies are awake and going about their day.  The more self-aware that we are, the more we can allow the healing process to unfold.  If I am aware of my pain, I can consciously seek to heal it by changing my way of thinking or by changing how I act.  Many of us feel that our pain is the fault of other people.  This is often true.  However, the truth is that people who cause pain are usually in pain themselves.  Until everyone’s consciousness is awake enough to be self-aware, and the healing process can begin, the cycle of pain and the need of healing will go on.  Strive to understand your own pain and consciously act in ways that do not cause pain to others.  While you are healing yourself, heal others with kindness and compassion.   

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Our Life As Art

“The thoughts we choose to think are the tools we use to paint the canvas of our lives”.
-Louise Hay
If you are your thoughts, who are you?  If your thoughts are paint, and your actions a brush, what kind of painting are you creating?  There are many kinds of paintings.  I am not a lover of abstract art.  My preferences are pastoral scenes or even fantasy inspired depictions of imaginary worlds.  I like the kind of paintings where I can imagine myself in the painting.  In more grounded moments I also enjoy depictions of real life.  I have often read in my psychology studies that all of us tend to paint or portray an image that we want to present to the world.  These images and depictions, however, are rarely the true person.  Sometimes, like an old painting, you find an entirely different image when you scape away the top layer of paint.  Getting to the original image, or what the Buddhists call your “original face” is a lifelong progress.  Few of us are the people that other people think we are.  People who appear strong can actually be weak.  People who appear weak can be very strong.  Those who appear very confident, can be full of doubt.  The timid person can rise to the occasion and become a leader.  Every artist wants their art to speak to us and for us to enjoy it.  If your life is your art, what is it saying to others?  If your life is your art, it is inspiring others?  If your life is your art, what is its value?        

Allowing Good People To Do Great Work

If we are mindful, we are aware of the tendency to first concentrate and then to feel anger when something interferes with that concentration.  With mindfulness we can concentrate when it is appropriate to do so and not concentrate when it is appropriate to do so.”
-Ajahn Sumedho
I am a creature of habit and routine.  In my head is a mental checklist of what I need to accomplish every day at work.  Despite what some may think I am very focused on what I am trying to accomplish.  One of my previous leaders told me that when I am into what I am doing I am hyper-focused.  I admit that when I am concentrating or when I am hyper-focused I don’t like to be interrupted.  I am the kind of person that once I am told what needs to be done, I prefer that you stay out of the way and let me get it done.  Every married man has a never ending “Honeydew” list.  I cannot speak for all married men but I can work through my list much quicker and with greater efficiency when my wife is not actually present.  There are people who create tasks and there are people who perform them.  For the best results, there needs to be some separation and, most importantly, some trust between the task creators and the task doer’s.  As I have said to my wife, at the risk of my personal well-being, “If you are going to tell me every move to make, why don’t you just do it yourself?”  The world is full of control freaks and micro-managers.  They can be at home or in the office.  It has always been my belief that these types of people have trust issues.  They are not comfortable allowing people to accomplish tasks on their own.  I am not a big Ronald Reagan fan but there is a saying attributed to him that I like.  He said, “Great leaders surround themselves with smart people and then they get out of the way”.  Too often some leaders feel they must control everything instead of supporting the process by allowing good people to do great work.      

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Living In My Inner World

Mindfulness is paying attention to the right things, and paying no attention to the wrong things
I’ve come to the realization that almost nothing is any of my business
-A monk of Gethsemani named Brother Cassian
Most of the people who work in my office see me walking around with my ear buds in and my head appearing to be in the clouds.  I will admit to having a music addiction.  It began as a teen-ager and has continued into my golden years.  I eat, sleep, and breath music and I was born to rock and roll.  In most ways it is a harmless addiction.  I keep it under control most of the time in terms of spending money.  If it has a negative impact it is that I don’t spend enough time in silence.  Listening to music, especially in the work environment, actually helps me to stay focused on my own objectives and to be blissfully uninvolved in most of what goes on around me.  This mindful focus on music prevents me from getting pulled into conversations and activities that have little value to me and are probably a waste of my time.  Some people probably think I am not engaged or aware but even with my perceived withdrawal, there is little that gets past me.  I am more aware of what is going on around me than many people think I am.  I just choose to not acknowledge it or to participate in it.  My attitude about engaging with life is deeply influenced by my introverted personality.  Most of what goes on around me is very draining and exhausting to a person like me.  Some of you are probably nodding your heads in agreement as you read this.  Living in my own inner world is really the only way I can live in the outer world.     

Friday, March 04, 2016

What, At This Moment, Is Lacking?

Two thoughts cannot coexist at the same time: if the clear light of mindfulness is present, there is no room for mental twilight”.
-Nyanaponika Therea
I once read that if you don’t intentionally think positive thoughts your mind will automatically default to negative thoughts.  You can’t think two thoughts at the same time.  You can only move from one to another.  Depending on where you are, this movement is either going in the right direction or the wrong direction.  It is a challenge to be positive all the time.  Every generation feels like the world is going to hell in a hand basket.  The nightly news is almost always depressing except for the feel good story at the end.  How does one counteract the world’s craziness, or even the craziness of your own life?  I know I must sound like a broken record but I think you can only stay sane by living in the moment, appreciating what is good in your life, and being grateful for what is not in your life.  In a deep conversation I once had with a co-worker, he told me that his response to many arguments and political disagreements, is “What have you lost”?  A Chinese philosopher named Lin-Chi once asked, “What, at this moment, is lacking”?  When you ask most people, who feel threatened by perceived changes, what they have really lost, the answer is usually nothing.  When you ask most people what truly essential things are missing in their life, the answer is often nothing.  Perception and reality are rarely the same and there is often a big gap between what people need and what they want.  There are people who don’t have the most basic needs to sustain life.  However, most people, at least in this country, do have their basic needs met.  What is missing for many is a sense of spiritual and emotional well-being.  You can be well fed but starved for love.  What is ironic is that many people with the least amount of money or material goods are often the happiness people.  If you only have room for one thought, think about that.    

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Happiness Is Found In Moments

When we stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we’re open to rich sources of information we’ve been missing out on…information that can keep us out of the downward spiral and poised for a richer life.
-Mark Williams
In my lifetime many people have told me to never have regrets.  I have tried to follow their advice but in all honesty there have been moments where I wonder if all my decisions were the right ones or the best ones.  Am I really where I am supposed to be?  Would I be happier if I had made different decisions in my past?  Are all of our lives what they were destined to be or have some of us really screwed up?  I must admit that I have never been overwhelmingly happy in my life.  At this very time I am struggling a bit because I feel I have lost my way and I don’t think I have much going on in terms of value, purpose, and meaning.  In spite of my own self-doubts people routinely tell me that I have made a difference in their lives.  This begs the question, “Are our lives for ourselves or for others?”  The Dalai Lama says the whole point of life is to be happy.  I not only struggle with this but the great majority of people I encounter seem to as well.  Some people are content if nothing bad is happening in their life.  Nothing good may be happening either but at least they are not suffering.  It’s like that middle option on many surveys.  When 1 is awful and 5 is fantastic, most people choose 3 which usually described as neutral.  A general sense of happiness has been elusive for me.  Any happiness or joy I have experienced has been in moments, not in days, weeks, months, or years.  Most of life has been a constant challenge and a lot of work.  I live for the unexpected moments when I feel happy, content, or blessed.  They give me the strength to deal with all the other moments when I feel overwhelmed or weary of life’s journey.  Mindfulness helps me to be awake and aware so the good moments don’t flow past me without my being aware of them.         

Our Mind Can Be Our Worst Enemy

Mindfulness has never met a cognition it didn’t like”.
-Daniel J. Siegal
Our minds are full of irritants, like fear and jealousy and greed.  Mindfulness is a way of clearing our minds of such irritants”.
Mindfulness is a kind of pure state where we are flowing and are one with where we are and what we are doing to the point of transcending time and space.  Admittedly it is difficult to maintain this level of consciousness all the time.  To use a meditation term of reference, we get pulled out of our center by distracting thoughts.  Many of our distracting thoughts are in our head and are fear based.  As I have told my wife on many occasions, most of your fears never happen.  I admit that one time in some previous daily thoughts I mentioned like five things you frequently hear about on the news but most people never experience in their life time.  A woman wrote to me and told me that every single one of my examples had happened to her!  Statistically, this was an anomaly.  In general, your mind is your worst enemy.  Sometimes it almost seems like we were given our minds just so they could taunt us.  Our minds, not our reality, generate most, if not all, the negative emotions that we feel.  By practicing mindfulness we focus on the reality of the moment and not the imaginary fears in our heads.  Less any of you think I am totally out of touch with reality, I accept that sometimes bad things really do happen to all of us.  Life is not perfect and there are difficult moments.  It has been my experience that most things in life are 80/20.  With that presupposition, I submit that 80% of life is mostly good.  Sometimes the remaining 20% can be very challenging but even that can be a perception and not true reality.  One must understand the difference between a crisis and an inconvenience.  Live in the moment and be grateful, not just for what you have, but also for what you don’t have.    

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Beginner's Mind

Our vision is more obstructed by what we think we know than by our lack of knowledge.”
-Kristen Stendahl
This quote by Kristen Stendahl reminded me of another quote…
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
-Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
We all like to hope that we have acquired some knowledge and wisdom on our life’s journey.  This is especially true if you are a parent or grandparent and you are trying to guide your children and grandchildren through the challenges of their lives.  I wouldn’t give my granddaughter so many “life lessons” if I didn’t think I had something to teach her.  Although I believe the gathering of experience and wisdom has value, there is a lot to be said for being open minded and willing to accept new and different points of view.  We should always avoid the mentality that “we’ve always done it that way”.  I have not taken enough risks in my life and too often have taken the path of least resistance by following the tried and the true.  Even if something is tried and true, that doesn’t mean it is the only way to think or to do something.  What we need to be in our lives and work places are experts with beginner’s minds.  You can’t go through life foolishly and uninformed but you also can’t go through life so closed minded or so rigid that you cannot bend or change.  Allow yourself to be surprised with possibilities.  Instead of asking why, ask why not?  Something I like to say in the workplace is “Where is that written?”  People are always creating boundaries and making up rules.  Sometimes these things are necessary but they can also be limiting.  You don’t have to color inside imaginary lines.  Be a person of possibilities and not a person of limitations.     

Mindfulness Meditation Doesn't Change Life

“Mindfulness meditation doesn’t change life.  Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever.  Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is.”
-Sylvia Boorstein
I believe that many people think meditation is a way to escape reality.  There have been people who joke that I walk around in a Zen daze while everyone around me is freaking out.  Meditation is to the spirit what physical exercise is to the body.  Exercising is not necessarily enjoyable but when done on a regular basis it keeps the body in shape so when the body is tested, it is ready.  Meditation is much the same.  Sometimes I enjoy meditating.  I will feel peaceful and content.  Other times it is not really that great and I will be restless and fidgety while I am doing it.  However, like the effect of physical exercise on the body over the long haul, meditation can help your spirit to be in shape when it is tested by the trials and tribulations of everyday life.  I think meditation is at least part of the reason I am the calm person that most people think I am.  This doesn’t mean I can never lose it.  Occasionally I do get angry and there are times when I do what my family calls “flailing”.  Meditation helps me to have emotional balance in my life.  We all have challenges in our lives although they may not be the same for everyone.  Some of you may think you have never meditated and perhaps the idea sounds too esoteric for you.  For some meditation is also some type of prayer practice that you do on a regular basis.  The words prayer, meditation, and contemplation are interchangeable on many levels.  There are differences in nuance and technique but whatever you what to call it, taking some time in your day for the pause that refreshes should be something that your value and prioritize.