Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness: Awareness of Anxiety

As the year draws to a close, our final mindfulness practice for 2012 focuses on anxiety.  Curious timing.

Anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and distress about future uncertainties; apprehension; worry. Though we move into the new year with hope and a fresh start, it may also be a cause of anxiety. With each new year comes potential change-something we cannot predict or control.

Anxiety is a constant companion for many of us.

How does anxiety show up for you? Does your heart race or your breathing become shallow? Maybe your stomach tightens or your hands tingle.

What patterns or events trigger anxiety for you? Do you become anxious when watching the news? Does it happen when you get to work or school? Perhaps it arrives even earlier, as soon as your alarm clock goes off.

As with our previous mindfulness practice on impatience, the seeds of anxiety are often planted during childhood. Was there any particular event that happened when you were a child that contributes to your anxiety as an adult?

Anxiety is often accompanied by thoughts-negative thoughts, worrisome thoughts, fearful thoughts. These thoughts can give rise to our anxiety as well as escalate our anxiety.

When you become aware of anxiety, counteract it with deep breathing. Become aware the thoughts that trigger your anxiety and flip the thoughts for the positive.

If watching the news causes you anxiety, turn it off. Dial down your exposure to the negative.

This week, become aware of anxiety, what triggers it for you, and how your thoughts influence the anxiety. Take a deep breath when anxiety creeps in. Be truly present and let your worries drop away.

Reflection: This we can all bear witness to, living as we do plagued by unremitting anxiety . It becomes more and more imperative that the life of the spirit be avowed as the only firm basis upon which to establish happiness and peace. -H.H. the Dalai Lama


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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry, you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy…

It has been 20 years since Bobby McFerrin first sang those words. I remember when I first heard the song. It was cute and quaint.

And then I got really tired of it.

I thought, how can anyone take such a positive attitude to life?

A lot can change in 20 years.

In the time since McFerrin first sang those words there have been numerous studies and reports on happiness.

Happiness is a right

Happiness can be taught

Happiness can be mapped

For most of us, happiness is conditional.

If I get that promotion, I’ll be happy.

If I get that new car, I’ll be happy.

If I had a million dollars, I’d be happy.

If I make that sale, I’ll be happy.

If s/he asks me out, I’ll be happy.

In reality, we only have one choice in life: Do I want to be happy or don’t I want to be happy?

That’s it. No ifs, ands, or buts, and no conditions because when we put conditions on our happiness, we are saying that we’d like to be happy, but not if I don’t get that promotion, the new car, the million dollars, or the sale.

Happiness is under our control. And I’m sure most of us would answer “yes” to the question “Do you want to be happy?”

In other words, “Do you want to be happy from this point forward for the rest of your life, regardless of what happens?”

Well, yes…
…as long as the market doesn’t crash
…or my car doesn’t crap out on me
…or

Without condition; any condition you put on your happiness will limit your happiness.

But I don’t have control over those things.

Face it; you can’t control things and keep them the way you want them.

It has taken me several years to finally get that through my head. There are things I can control and things I cannot control. Granted, when things are going well, it is easy to be happy. But when life gets difficult, it isn’t so easy.

Are you willing to break your vow of happiness because certain events took place?

We flew down to Philadelphia last month. On the way to the airport we received word that our flight was delayed. So we decided to take our time and have an early dinner while waiting at the airport. And then our flight was delayed again. Now we were concerned we might be late for the family gathering. This delay routine continued a few more times due to weather conditions. All flights were being held from entering Philly airspace because of summer storms. There was nothing we could do about it. And there was a silver-lining in all of this.

Our flight should have left around 4pm. Another flight to Philly on the same airline was to leave at 5:30pm.

That flight boarded and pushed away from the gate.

And had to sit on the tarmac until given permission to take off.

I couldn’t complain about the delays because we were in the airport…with food and drink…and bathrooms…and air conditioning.

Don’t worry, be happy

Our purpose in life is to enjoy and learn from our experiences. We weren’t put on earth to suffer. And we don’t help anybody by being miserable.

There are two facts in life: we were born and we will die. How we spend our time between those two events is our choice.

There is this little song I wrote
I hope you learn it note for note
Like good little children
Don’t worry, be happy
Listen to what I say
In your life expect some trouble
But when you worry
You make it double
Don’t worry, be happy…
Don’t worry, don’t do it, be happy
Put a smile on your face
Don’t bring everybody down like this
Don’t worry, it will soon pass
Whatever it is
Don’t worry, be happy


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The Core of the Ego: A New Earth Webcast Chapter 3

The New Earth webcast with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle continued its discussion on the ego this past week.  In this segment, Eckhart discussed the core of the ego.

Earlier we were introduced to the ego which was defined as that which we identify with: concepts, our story, our past.

Now it was time to discuss what makes the ego thrive.

A key to what makes the ego thrive is complaining and resentment, reactivity and grievance, faultfinding, wanting to be right, and to feel superior.

Egoic complaining is complaining that serves no purpose because it does not bring about change.  A classic example is receiving cold soup in a restaurant.  If you state the facts, “My soup is cold, may I have hot soup, please” you are stating the facts without negativity, without reaction.

However, if you state “This soup is cold you idiot.  Every time I come in here the soup is cold. Can’t you people make hot soup” you are complaining, reacting, and finding fault.

When we label people (“jerk,” “idiot”), we desensitize ourselves to that person.  When we react with force, it means we need to look within ourselves because what you react to in another, you strengthen in yourself.

When we start to complain, we need to recognize it and become aware of that inner voice.  We need to ask ourselves if this complaint is meant to bring about change or if we are complaining simply for the sake of complaining (and therefore boosting our own ego.)

If we are to be agents of change in this world, something has to change in our state of consciousness, otherwise we contribute to the turmoil.  Meditation, quieting the mind, looking to the inner body, the self and bringing awareness to the present moment are all approaches to take in promoting change within ourselves.

WORRY

Worry is a common emotion that many of us deal with in these days of turmoil.  We worry about situations and project them into the future.  “Oh how dire it will be if this happens and that happens.”  Worry can consume us.

What does it mean to worry?  It is the unconscious mind movement into the future.  You extend the situation into the future and how bad things will be.  Worry pretends to be necessary yet serves no real purpose.  Worry does not bring about change.

To step out of worry, you must ask yourself “what can I do now?”  “How can I BE NOW in this moment?”  Take responsibility for your own life and state of conciousness first.  Be with yourself, be present, and connect with the feeling of aliveness within.

Often we worry about other people.  When you ask yourself whether you can be of help to another human being, ask is there something in you that can bring about change in the conciousness of the other human being.  Can you give the person space?  Sometimes just being there is healing.

Sometimes we are so completely identified with forms that we cannot enjoy them fully because of fear or worry that we will lose them.  When this happens, I am reminded of the following story:

A guru collected tiny glass figurines because they brought him joy.  People knew how much he enjoyed these figurines and he often received them as gifts.  The guru put the figurines on a deep window sil where he could see them and enjoy them.  One day the window was left open and a strong wind came through the window.  It blew the drapes around.  The drapes caught on the figurines and brought them crashing to the ground.  The guru’s students were alarmed and afraid.  What would the guru say?  What would he do? 

As the students cleaned up the broken glass, the guru came into the room.  The students explained what happened.  The guru calmly replied “It is okay.  While the figurines were here, they gave me pleasure and made me happy.  And now they are gone; their purpose fulfilled.  It is okay.”

What you fight, you strengthen and what you resist, persists.  Make peace with whatever it is.  Be as present at you can in every moment, in any life experience or situation.

Recognize the ego in yourself and in other people.  Become aware of the ego and bring that awareness into the world.  If you don’t have a good relationship with the now, you won’t have a good relationship with life because life IS NOW.

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