Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


A Year of Mindfulness-Defining and Defending

Can you believe we are almost through the month of July? And that there are only 5 more months left in 2012? How are you feeling about your mindfulness practice so far? I definitely have weeks that are better than others. Sometimes I don’t think about being mindful until Friday; one of those “oh crap, I haven’t practiced this week” moments.

Can you relate to that? I think that is the beauty of this practice. It’s hard. We know it’s hard. And being imperfect is all part of the learning process. I mean, how cool is it knowing that if you blow it one week, it’s okay to just start over again. No guilt. No shame. No wagging finger and a voice saying “tsk, tsk, tsk.”

Okay, so where were we? Ah, last week. Becoming aware of what is above us. How often did you practice “look up” and move your awareness beyond whatever is immediately in front of you?

Well, what I just said about if you blow it one week you can start over? That was me. In fact the past couple of weeks have been challenging with other things being front and center in my mind. I am practicing mindfulness but in other areas not related to our weekly practice. It is still all good.

This Week’s Practice: Awareness of Defining & Defending Yourself

This is another interesting practice. Dr. Bays asks us to become aware of how we define ourselves and how we defend ourselves and our personal territory. One thing she’s talking about here is labeling and how we defend our position. (And with this being an election year, there is a whole lot of labeling and defending going on.)

The timeliness of this practice is curious as I’ve been working on branding in my business. Talk about an exercise in defining oneself!

So how frequently do you define yourself each day? How often are you defending your position(s)? Is this an inherent aspect of human nature considering it seems to start when we are very young?

A good example of this is watching children play with their toys. What sometimes happens when you expect the child to share…the child scoops up his toys and says “No, mine.”  Next thing you know we’re older and still defining ourselves by our possessions. Or we take a position on a particular topic and will argue that our opinion is the only right one. (If you want to challenge yourself some more, go back to the practice on saying yes.)

What is the point of this practice? To become aware that this thing we call “self” isn’t something we can defend because in reality the self is a process of constantly changing sensations and thoughts. How can you defend something that is always in flux?

Reflection: He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. –Lao Tzu

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A Year of Mindfulness: Water, Water, Water

Happy Monday! Ready to start this week’s mindfulness practice?

Before we get to that, did you practice silly walking last week? Come on, it’s okay. A little silly walking in the privacy of your own home is a great way to break the negative voice from taking over. How can anyone stay annoyed when they use silly walking? Just thinking about it flips my negative thoughts.

This Week’s Mindfulness Practice: Water

With the number of forest fires that have torn through the west this summer, becoming mindful of water seems rather timely. This week, we are asked to become aware of water in all its forms, both inside and outside of our bodies and our homes.

Did you know that your body is 70% water? Saliva, blood, urine, joint fluid. We take in water all day long. Tea, oranges, soup. Without water we’d be a pile of dried up cells & salt.

Becoming aware of water, we realize how miraculous a substance it is. Water is liquid, solid, gas. It is a substance we take for granted until we run out of it (drought) or have a problem with it (overflowing toilet.)

When it comes to mindfulness, consider how water moves. It flows without hindrance, over rocks, under bridges. What if we allowed our mind to be light and flexible, flowing (like water) with situations as they arise and change and not with energy-sapping resistance?

If water is muddy and left undisturbed, the sediment settles to the bottom and the water clears. When your mind is agitated, can you still the mind and regain clarity like the water?

This week, become aware of water in all its forms and how precious it is. This week, become aware of how your mind can become light, flexible, and clear, like the water.


Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water.
Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it.
So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one
can do it. -Lao Tzu

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A Year of Mindfulness-Desire

Can you believe we’re half-way through the year and almost half-way through our mindfulness practices? To be honest I don’t think I would’ve realized we’d come this far had I not looked at the calendar and then at the chapter number in Dr. Bay’s book, How to Train a Wild Elephant. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing great!

How did your practice go last week? Were you mindful during at least one meal or snack to take one bite at a time? How did it feel to eat slowly and mindfully? I know it’s a hard habit to break, especially if you’re doing something else while eating…like watching TV (ahem, me) or reading or talking to friends.

Sometimes practicing mindfulness reminds me of having two characters (little Buddhas?) sitting on either shoulder. One will remind me to engage in my practice. The other will tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing. Usually the tiny mindfulness Buddha wins.

This Week’s Practice: Become Aware of Endless Desire

This week’s practice is to become mindful of the arising of desire. Now, now, this isn’t what you think. Yes, I thought it too when I first read the title. Desire = sex, love, food, pleasure. Certainly that form of desire is part of what we’re aware of. But this practice is about more than shall we say carnal desire. Consider this example:

Your alarm goes off in the morning. What might be the first thing you wish you could do? You might wish or desire more time to sleep.

You walk into your kitchen. What do you do you desire, tea or coffee or a cinnamon bun?

Get it?

Now, there is nothing wrong with desire. Desire keeps us alive. If you didn’t desire food or drink, you’d starve and die. Yet where desire can get the better of us is when we cling to its pleasure. So, if you desire ice cream and you eat the ice cream and then tell yourself it was so good you deserve another serving, then desire starts to control you and direct your behavior.

Becoming aware of desire helps us to make conscious decisions about whether following that desire is wholesome or not. Desire can be pleasurable. Satisfying your desire can also be disappointing. It is the disappointment that causes us to always look for the next great thing. You see what kind of circle we get ourselves into. It is this restlessness that causes suffering and dissatisfaction.

This week, become aware of desire. Observe your response to desire. Does it control you? Can you simply let it go?

Reflection: Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires. –Lao-tzu

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A Year of Mindfulness: Entering New Spaces

First deep breath.

Second deep breath.

Third deep breath.


Now how did you do with last week’s mindfulness practice to take three breaths? This is one of my favorite mindfulness practices. We all need to breathe and taking three breaths is a wonderful way to put a little space between you and any stress you may encounter. I find it particularly useful when sitting in traffic or dealing with drivers in parking lots. Taking a breath brings you back to your center. It helps you to re-focus. It keeps you in the present moment.

This Week’s Practice: Entering New Spaces

Now here is a good challenge for you. This week’s mindfulness practice is about entering new spaces. This practice is all about bringing an awareness to any transition between spaces. Dr. Bays refers to this practice as “mindfulness of doors.”

What does that mean?

It means that as you enter a new space, pause, take one breath, and then proceed. Remember, the theme with mindfulness is to become aware of our surroundings. In this case, think of what you normally do when you leave one room and enter another room. Most likely you just walk across the threshold without any consideration for the space you just left or for the space you are entering. When a door separates the two spaces, we usually just let the door slam behind us or perhaps we don’t close the door at all.

This week, do your best to pause between those transitions when traveling from room to room. If you tend to slam doors, work on gently closing the door. If you tend to leave the door open, become more mindful about closing the door. If you stumble through the doorway, become more mindful of your steps.

Reflection: The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. -Flora Whittemore

For the wise man looks into space and he knows there is no limited dimensions. -Lao Tzu


A Year of Mindfulness: Secret Acts of Virtue

As we started a new quarter last week, our mindfulness practice asked us to look at all things in our environment with loving eyes. How did you do with this practice? I know when I first read about the practice I thought “loving eyes?” If I do that to a stranger, will they think I’m coming on to them or something? Then I realized that looking at a total stranger with loving eyes can be achieved by simply smiling when you talk to them. It seems to work with most people. How can you not smile back at someone? To me, smiles are contagious. Smiles and laughter are the one form of language that we all share as human beings on this planet, regardless of our native language.

This Week’s Practice: Secret Acts of Virtue

This week’s mindfulness practice is fun. Secret Acts of Virtue. Paying it forward. Doing something nice for someone without them knowing. I was first introduced to this practice a few years ago. It may have been called Acts of Kindness or something similar. But the intent was the same: to engage in a secret act of virtue or kindness for someone anonymously.

My favorite approach to this was paying for the meal of the person behind me at the drive-thru window. I remember the quizzical look on the cashier’s face when I told her what I wanted to do. I don’t think she “got” what I was doing.

Secret acts of virtue can be as simple as picking up trash, collecting the shopping carts in the parking lot, or buying someone a cup of coffee. While we humans love to receive recognition for our good deeds, there is something even more satisfying in doing something for someone anonymously.

So this week see how you can engage in secret acts of kindness. In doing so, you not only open your heart but the heart of others too.

Reflection: Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. -Lao Tzu

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Monday Reflection

Today’s quote is provided by Melanie Dilday

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life,
that no man can sincerely try to help another
without helping himself.

Lao Tzu

Melanie explains why this is her favorite quote:

What I particularly like about this saying is that it invites people to help others…and see for themselves what these ‘beautiful compensations’ are. I
also love his use of the word ‘sincerely’…a very important distinction. We live in a world where most of the population lives in fear of losing what
they have…everyone’s holding tight…there is a  ‘me/mine/not-yours’ mentality that pervades our society… and we are killing the world with our
greed and fear. If everyone practiced giving and helping, the me/mine mentality would fall away by itself…and the ‘beautiful compensation’ could
very well be that we save the planet.

The reason why I love teaching and running an online forum is that it’s genuine. It’s helping from the heart. I find it so uplifting and so wonderful to be sharing what I love with other people. Without doubt, whatever I have given has come back to me tenfold! I have made amazing friendships, learned so much, can call on any number of people for support when I need it myself and my heart is overflowing all as a result of helping others. Beautiful compensations indeed!

Melanie’s blog: Clay Happenings