Do’s and Don’ts for these unusual days

Do’s and don’ts are best learned at the same time. My mom so often told me what not to do followed by what I should (or

Do’s and Don’ts

could…or she’d like it if I would) do. She ultimately told me do’s and don’ts are opposite sides of the same coin.

This morning while writing in my prayer journal I thought of Mom and how she’d deal with the situation these days. (Is it a crisis, a tragedy, a disaster, an ordeal, a problem? Situation satisfies me.) I could clearly imagine Mom pointing out things we should not do and the opposite things we should do instead.

Remember, please, the several ‘do’s’ staying home allows.

Do’s and Don’ts for “these days”

Here are 6 of each:

Don’t think about all you can’t do.
Do think how many things you can do.

Don’t wonder or worry how long this situation will last.
Do be thankful it’s now one day less.

Don’t focus on what you miss.
Do find pleasure–no matter how simple–in what is present.

Don’t watch the news nonstop.
Do watch just enough news to know enough.

Don’t bounce among all the bad stuff.
Do single out and appreciate one good at a time.

Don’t put a cloud over your silver lining.
Do let sun shine wherever you want it to. (It will!)

A prayer for all the things to do, with some attention to things to don’t

Good friend God, the blessing of so much we can do
and the power you give us to choose what we don’t do
are key to successful movement through these times.
For every action we might not perform
there’s an even better one to enjoy.
Each moment of distress we can look beyond
is matched by one that thrills us to the core.
Steering clear of bemoaning what we think we lack
takes us straight to the consciousness of all we have.
Thank you, Good Friend, that we see the great difference
between the 6 we easily don’t
and the 1/2 dozen we are glad we do.
We thank you, God. We thank the Christ Spirit that fills us.
And so it is. And so we say Amen.

Love & Blessings,

Tim

 

 

10 April 2020

Posted on April 10, 2020 at 6:00 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Happiness, Inner Peace, Peace, Prayer · Tagged with: , , ,

Thanks for the little things makes a big difference

Thanks for the Little Things

Writing thanks for the little things

Thanks for the little things? Really?

Really. Even though everyone is feeling stress these days, there is plenty of scientific evidence that it does us good to identify and experience thankfulness. Even thanks for the little things.

Since I mentioned science, I feel obliged to offer evidence.

Psychology Today (2015) cites seven benefits of gratitude relative to stress. Three of them may be especially relevant to the stress you/we are experiencing:

Here’s a really scientific statement from Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, a clinical psychologist:

At a neurobiological level, gratitude regulates the sympathetic nervous system that activates our anxiety responses, and at the psychological level, it conditions the brain to filter the negative ruminations and focus on the positive thoughts.

In other words gratitude–felt and expressed–moderates our anxiety tendencies and helps our minds to stay upbeat rather than to feel down.

Finally, as far as my evidence goes, let’s blend the scientific with the emotional, specifically with happiness. How about the Harvard Healthbeat‘s statement:

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

No matter how happy you are now, would being happier help you as the current stay-at-home environment continues?

How to do gratitude

Each of the sources cited above offers several “gratitude practices.” All are good. All are worth the read. There is a  secret to paying attention to gratitude as a way to solve feeling bad, like from long lines to get into the grocery store or nothing on television but news that’s becoming pretty redundant. You want to select gratitude activities that

Here are my own favorite 3:

  1. A gratitude journal or list. Writing by hand, rather than typing, draws the direct connection between your spirit/emotion, mind, and body. I’ve written 10 Thank Yous every morning for some 10 years. I like the morning because I can reflect on yesterday’s gratitude-givers and I can anticipate what I’ll be thankful for yet today.
  2. Writing thank-you notes. Some sources say it does you as much good to write the thank-you note mentally. Not so. The spirit/emotion-mind-body connection matters here, too. Granted, a thank-you email is better than nothing but not as good as one you fold, seal the envelope around, put a stamp on and drop in the mail.
  3. Contact those you’re thankful you know (or knew). Whether you actually thank them for being in your life or not, the simple action of calling someone up and making contact will make you thankful. That you know/knew them and they matter in some way is a gratitude experience. That you make the time and spend the energy and overcome any hesitation to ring them up is gratitude in action.

Praying thanks for being thankful

Living, loving Spirit,
knowing thanks is a powerful experience.
Showing thanks magnifies that experience.
We thank you for the awareness that no matter
how stressful life is,
no matter how much we want things normal,
no matter what we cannot do or have right now,
we truly can find abundant thankfulness.
Guide us to look closely, to see clearly, to hear sharply,
to taste patiently, to feel calmly. In doing that we will
know the little things for which we can give thanks.
Wisdom tells us we serve ourselves much more
by enjoying gratitude than by regretting lack.
We thank you for the wisdom.
And so it is. And so we thank you, Spirit.
Amen.

Love & Blessings,

Tim

 

 

7 April 2020

 

 

Posted on April 7, 2020 at 11:46 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Gratitude, Happiness, Praying · Tagged with: , , ,

Coronavirus stay home: it’s all in the moment

It may not seem much longer, but the Covid-19 Stay Home, Stay Health is really all in the moment. We can bring out attention

An all-in-the-moment moment

All in the moment: simpler
Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

to what is all in the moment. We can bring our focus to the moment, one moment at a time. That can center our minds and hearts on the very moment’s reality and how and why it matters. That can move our mind away from thinking only about the big picture of “when will this end?”.

You can make it matter. The three suggestions below are not new, although in this context and at this time they may seem new. Perhaps these are just reminders.

Reminders or not, if you try any or all of them and they work, leave a comment, let us know.  If you try them and they don’t work, it’s equally valuable for you to let us know. Please leave a comment.

One thing at a time.

It’s too easy to allow your mind to rush and ramble over all that’s going on, all the news that’s not so uplifting, all the things you have to do or cannot do or wish you could do. But it’s so much better to take on one simple task at a time. Allow your mind to focus on just the one thing and the value doing it brings, the pleasure experiencing it gives.

Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk in Paris in the early 17th Century, practiced his faith that God is present in the most commonplace actions of everyday life. He performed menial duties in the kitchen of his abbey and enjoyed the spiritual connection from scouring pots and scrubbing the tile floor. The good monk wroteNor is it needful that we should have great things to do…We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him…

With the next thing you get to do, view it truly as a single task. Separate it from all the other tasks it may be part of. Allow yourself a few moments before beginning the activity. Give thanks that you have the opportunity to perform the task. Breathe into the task.

You can break it into even smaller pieces

Keep in mind that the purpose of these activities is to allow you to let go of focus, worry, distraction, even distress by feeling confined thanks to Covid-19. Putting your attention to the joy of doing something, no matter how simple, is a proven way to release all sorts of tension.

Suppose your single task from above is putting on a shirt. Take a step closer to being in the moment. Break it down into the tiny specific steps. Surround buttoning each of seven buttons with your attention. Take a moment to recognize (and appreciate) the tactile sensation of the button. Become aware of guiding the button to, then pushing it through, the buttonhole. Notice the last small gesture that insures the button is all the way through and will remain secure.

Brother Lawrence also wrote this: We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.

Before moving onto whatever is next, gift yourself with a moment to reflect on the simple act of buttoning your shirt. How many times have you done that in your life?

Move

In an e-book worth downloading, The Inner Shield against Covid-19,  Cynthia Lee recommends that we make time to get in motion. It may be as leisurely as a walk, but it’s better if it can be called “exercise”.

Studies show that each bout of moderate exercise you do (for example, brisk walking for 30 minutes) can strengthen the immune system, but transiently. When you make moderate exercise a habit, though, the benefits of exercise may come to be lasting. Regular moderate exercise is associated with decreased episodes of illness and reduced inflammation throughout the body, which helps immune function.

Here’s a suggestion that just might get you in motion: find music from your past, from some special, high-energy, enthusiastic time. Dig out the albums or the cassettes…or more likely visit iTunes. Find music that makes you want to dance. Then dance. And if there’s no one in your Stay Home, Stay Healthy place, plug in with Zoom or FaceTime, share music with friends. Dance up a storm.

Praying for all that is in each moment

Living, loving Spirit,
the joy and love and peace that are the fullness
of every moment we embrace
shall not go unnoticed because we are distracted.
We accept and celebrate our opportunities, limitless,
to seize each moment with our hearts and our true consciousness.
We give thanks that we can feel and know and cherish
what makes each moment unique, what makes the ‘now’
and endless series of moment after moment before moment.
We allow our minds to become settled,
focused, attentive that our hearts may
open to the blessing of whatever we are doing
in the moment. We feel its blessing.
And we say thank you, Spirit. And so it is.
Amen.

Love & Blessings
Tim

 

6 April 2020

Posted on April 6, 2020 at 7:06 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Happiness, Mindfulness, Peace, Praying · Tagged with: , ,

Stay-home ordeal. What’s the deal?

Stay Home doesn't have to be an ordealThe stay-home ordeal is pretty common now to most of us. Becoming more familiar does not mean “house arrest” is more enjoyable. It doesn’t mean we like it any more. Maybe we’re not even more used to it although it is familiar.

Staying home is not unusual. Staying home 24/7 is unusual. Not going to work happens occasionally. Not going to work for the foreseeable future has become The Occasion. The grocery being out of shredded cheddar cheese is ok. The grocery being out of bread and dishwashing liquid and coffee filters is not ok.

Stir crazy, cabin fever, locked in, imprisoned are phrases used (and heard and read) more often than ever.

I invite you to use the Comment option and offer your own ways to shift from the thought of “stay-home ordeal”. How are you making it an acceptable deal, if not a really good deal? What are you doing that may be a Big Deal?

Every day this week, I will post suggestions that have worked for me or that others have found successful and have shared. Try them out if you want and please share your feedback. Now is the time to let others hear from you!

Start your day with mindfulness

Mindfulness means to pay attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally. The applied definition is to keep yourself alive in (alert to) the present moment. My favorite definition of mindfulness is that it is the capability to know what we already know is actually happening as it is happening.

I’ve meditated almost everyday for years. I had never really taken up mindfulness meditation. Then I learned that mindfulness doesn’t have to occur as formal meditation. It doesn’t require sitting lotus-like or forcing all thoughts out of my head or counting my breath, my mala beads or my om chants. (Actually, meditation does not require those things either.)

It is easy to practice mindfulness exercises anytime, anywhere. I took up mindfulness practices early this year. My Like I Want It to Be post hints why. From the mindfulness practices, I’ve known a wonderful. tangible combination of calm, focus, and energy. I believe they are direct results of increasing my mindfulness.

So what good does it do to be alert to the present moment when the present moment is the stay-home ordeal? The moment is not the ordeal. Nor is the ordeal the moment. The moment is what is happening, not what you are feeling. That’s worth a lot of discussion. (Jon Kabat-Zinn gives offers more than 600 words in Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness.)

For now, I suggest you pick one of the activities below. Try it for three days in a row. Try it as many times a day as you wish. Let us hear if/how it works. Or doesn’t.

I’ve tried these practices. I still practice all of them frequently. I don’t recommend one over another. The breathing practice is first merely because breathing will be part of any mindfulness.

Breathe

Stand or sit comfortably. Promise yourself to let nothing external interrupt you for one minute, or two or three if it feels good. Breathe in slowly, deeply through your nose. Notice the action, the sensation. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds. Breathe out more slowly. Notice the action, the sensation. Be sure to breathe out completely. Again. Again for as long as you wish.

View an object

Choose an uncomplicated object: a coffee cup, for instance, rather than a cathedral. It will be easier if it is not moving. Relax your vision. Rather than searching for every specific detail, allow the object to flow into and fill your vision. Then let your eyes wander leisurely over the object. This is neither a test of your visual perception nor a measure of your visual memory. It is just a viewing. View it until you’ve finished viewing.

Hold an object

Mindfulness to release stay-home ordeal

Hold an object
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Pick an object that fits comfortably in your hand(s). It may be something which has emotional meaning for you; it does not have to. Close your eyes. Allow your hand, your mind, your heart to engage with whatever you are holding. Shape. Size. Temperature. Texture. Angles. This isn’t any sort of test, either. It is your opportunity to pay attention in the present moment non-judgmentally to what you already know is happening.

A Prayer for Peace and Goodness in our Stay-Home Ordeal

Power and Peace and Presence, this opportunity we have now
is only as much ordeal as we choose it to be.
Thank you for allowing us to breath the opportunity
of power in our present moment, to feel the presence
of peace in our hands and in our heart and in our head.
to see presence of all that is suggested by the beauty
of all we see, no matter how small or large, no matter
how simple or complex.
Thank you that we have the blessing of home,
a place to stay and to know your presence, peace and power.
And so it is. And so we thank you, Spirit.
Amen

Love and Blessings,
Tim

 

6 April 2020

Posted on April 5, 2020 at 10:14 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Happiness, Inner Peace, Mindfulness, Peace · Tagged with: , , , ,