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Posts tagged ‘Happiness’

How Buddhists’ Use Rain to Help Increase Mindfulness

mindfulness

Some years ago, a group of Buddhist teachers developed the mindfulness tool ‘RAIN’ (an acronym for the four steps of the process) to help heal difficult emotions. In todays world, feeling our feelings has become somewhat of a “no-no”. People are constantly looking for quick fixes, the next pharmaceutical, -a way out. But in truth, the only way to heal, is to feel. If you never learn this truth, you will continue to experience the same pain, feelings, and frustrations over and over again. You must heal, process, learn, and let go. You cannot store away your past. You must accept it, and learn from it.

True,  sometimes it’s hard to sit in our emotions. Being aware of our feelings and accepting them, is critical to our physical health as well as mental. Physiologically, mind, body, and spirit, are all intertwined.  

Tara Brach of Yoga Journal puts it like this:
Yes, there are times when being present feels out of reach or too much to bear. There are times when false refuges can relieve stress, give us a breather, help lift our mood. But when we’re not connected to the clarity and kindness of presence, we’re all too likely to fall into more misunderstanding, more conflict, and more distance from others and our own heart.

As a means to help others heal from emotional difficulty, RAIN was developed. The beauty of RAIN is that it can be accessed at any moment, no matter where you are. It simply asks you to direct your attention to clearing your mind, and the process is simple, and stress free.

I love how Brach describes the beauty in this method: The steps give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to come home to our deepest truth. Like the clear sky and clean air after a cooling rain, this mindfulness practice brings a new openness and calm to our daily lives.

Here are the four steps of RAIN:

R – recognize what is happening.
A – allow life to be just as it is.
I – investigate inner experience with kindness.
N – non-identification.

RAIN directly deconditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns that cause you to cut off your feelings, and in turn your mind and heart to the world around you, as soon as we take the first step.

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Recognize What is Happening

Recognition, quite simply is seeing what is true in your inner life. This means recognizing and focusing on your present thoughts, emotions, feelings, and sensations in the present moment. And when you begin to be mindful of these, your heart and mind will gradually open allowing you to connect with your experiences more fully; you will discover that some parts of your experience are easier to connect with than others. According to Brach, one way to think of it is like this: You might recognize anxiety right away, but if you focus on your worried thoughts, you might not notice the actual sensations of squeezing, pressure, or tightness arising in the body. If your body is gripped by jittery nervousness, you might not recognize that this physical response is being triggered by your underlying belief that you are about to fail.

Work on this by asking yourself this simple question: “What is happening inside me right now?” Focus inward. Listen to your heart, mind, body and spirit with compassion and patiences.

Allow Life to Be Just as It Is

This means, letting what is be just that, and accepting it that way. That is, accepting your thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations. Sometimes sitting in our feelings is difficult and uncomfortable so we look for a way out, -and quickly! But don’t. Be present with “what is”, and when you do, your awareness of your inward motion will increase which will in turn give you a different quality of attention for “what is”.  Allowing and accepting is important because it aids in the healing process.

Investigate with Kindness

Investigation means  to follow your natural instinct to know and understand the hows and whys of where you are currently. It’s important to recognize what is going on inside yourself, but it’s also important to ask, “What does this feeling want from me?” It is not until the “why’s” are understood that truly dealing and healing with emotions can happen. Avoiding investigating these reasons will only allow them to control you passively each day. They will present themselves in a disguised manner, but will nevertheless, run-a-muc in your head, heart, and life. .

An important aspect of  investigation is that it needs to be done with kindness. It is the kindness that provides healing and freeing. Whatever surfaces in this process, welcome it with kindness.

Nonidentification: Rest in Natural Awareness

Nonidentification means that your sense of self or identity is not defined or limited by your emotions, feelings, and life experiences. It is thought that when identification with the “ego self” is loosened, -that which does identify with emotions, feelings and life experiences, we begin to live and love more openly and embrace natural awareness.

Although the first three steps of RAIN require some intentional activity, the N does not. You are asked to simply rest in natural awareness and liberate yourself through mindfulness.

This post was adapted from the article “Let it Rain” via Yoga Journal. 

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Letting Your Worries Go

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 19: Letting Your Worries Go

“I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance.  Then, whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal – and soon they’ll forget my number.”

 – Edith Armstrong

Letting Your Worries Go

Worry is unfortunately a very real part of most of our minds. This pattern of thinking has perhaps increased in the last 300 years as well. As humans, our worries are no longer simple or basic; that is, surviving. We’re now worried about the mortgage, college, how we look, the home we have, how others perceive us, are our children popular, or did I marry the right person? Am I in the right career? Should I have gone on vacation? Do I have enough saved? Are my parents proud of me? The list can go on forever and ever; I’m not going to bother.

Despite the plethora of things we have to worry about these days, it is possible to get back to basics; -at least cut the list dramatically! Before we get into the how, I want to share a little story with you.

“THE TROUBLE TREE”

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stone silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet the family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

After opening the door, he Read more

Weighing the Cost and Benefits For Your Happiness

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 18: Weighing the Cost and Benefits For Your Happiness

“Happiness is always a by-product.  It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular.  But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.”

 ~Robertson Davies

Weighing the Cost and Benefits For Your Happiness

Everyday, we have commitments. We have them to ourselves, to our work, to our families, etc. But what happens when our commitments begin to become obligations we not longer value? Well, you begin to resent them, and with the endless obligations, our lives begin to feel like giant resentments.

So, how do you change that? You have to have Read more

How to Embrace Vulnerability and Ultimately Live a Life of Purpose and Meaning

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 17:  How to Embrace Vulnerability and Ultimately Live a Life of Purpose and Meaning 

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brené  Brown

How to Embrace Vulnerability and Ultimately Live a Life of Purpose and Meaning 

In the last Awakened Heart post, (read it HERE if you missed it)  you were asked to watch Dr. Brené  Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” TED talk. This is one of my all time favorites TED talks and I hope it’s one of yours now too! Dr. Brown has managed to sum up years worth or research into some of the most invaluable information we as humans have ever received; The purpose of life is to find meaning in it, and to connect with others, and the only way to connect, is to be vulnerable.

When you think about what it takes to be strong, honest, courageous and authentic, you may or may not include vulnerable to your list. In fact, synonyms of vulnerability include: defenseless, sucker, susceptible, unsafe, weak, and in danger. Quite the contrary to anything strong and courageous!

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Image credit to Brene Brown and the Ordinary Courage blog

As humans, we thrive through honest, vulnerable, Read more

We Must Learn to Let Go of Judgment

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 15: We Must Learn to Let Go of Judgement. 

“We should be lenient in our judgment, because often the mistakes of others would have been ours had we had the opportunity to make them.”

―Unknown

Part 1: Do Not Judge Others

Judgment: it’s a word that has a lot of weight behind it. The words that come with judgment are most often heavy, cold and unkind. There is nothing to gain when we judge. Nothing. If you know of something, please comment and let me know, because I can’t think of one thing.

When you judge others and others judge you, you put negative energy out into the world and in your heart. You’re also spreading a message that is likely not 100% truthful. Judgment is based on personal beliefs and schemas. Therefore, when you judge, you’re really showing many of your true colors. Sometimes, these colors are uuggglllyyyyy! These colors can easily out weight the beautiful colors underneath. We all know the saying, “Let your true colors shine!” But if your true colors are dark and sullen, then your “shine” will look much more like a dark cloud. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a sunny day, over a raining day, ANY DAY! But hey, we can’t be a masterpiece all the time. We’re human. Not a single one of us is perfect.

Which brings me to my next point… Read more

How Happy Are You Right Now?

This post is part of  The Awakened Heart Project

Week 14: How Happy Are You Right Now?

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys.  If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”

~Fyodor Dostoevsky

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How Happy Are You Right Now?

With the crazy, busy lives we live day in and day out, it’s easy to lose sight of what really makes us happy. Answer this question: How happy are you RIGHT NOW? Do you even know? Is it difficult for you to answer? We often confuse our own happiness with what makes others happy. You probably know what makes your children happy, or your parents, or your friends, but what about you? Are you aware of what brings you happiness and joy? Awareness of these little things that bring a smile to our faces, and contentment in our hearts can be difficult to harness. Focusing on internal Read more

Taking Your Goal Setting and Life Setting to the Next Level

This post is part of  The Awakened Heart Project

Week 13: Taking Your Goal Setting and Life Setting to the Next Level

“The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it.” ~ Charles DeLint

Goals, Changes, and Perceptions

Last week we talked a lot about setting goal. We worked on defining and refining existing goals and identifying negative perceptions and beliefs that have hindered your ability to successfully accomplish goals from the past. If you have not completed the exercises from last weeks lesson, I recommend you do so now. It will be difficult to continue on in the coming weeks without having set some real goals, -or even just one! We’re all on a different journey here and all seek change in different ways. Your goals are yours alone.

Pushing Forces vs. Opposing Forces

Last week we discussed Outside and Inside Forces. We established that, A body will remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force. A ball will remain on a table until nudged right? Yes! This is also true for humans. We will remain stagnant until acted upon by an outside force. Or, in many cases, an INSIDE FORCE! The uniqueness we have as humans is that we have the choice to choose the inward forces as our primary means of transportation; that is, our heart and minds. I encourage you to really think about that for a minute. Outside forces can push us yes, but outside forces don’t always push us in the right direction. They often push us in the direction that is best for the outside forces.

So we have these two forces: one working against us, and one working for us. This week you’ll evaluate these forces and rationalize them. Sometimes wanting changes to occur and actually making the changes are two difficult tasks to bring together. A useful question to ask yourself is, whether you’re committed to activity of change or the results of that change. Wanting the result is what is really most important. You can think of the analogy of someone driving with his or her foot on the gas going full speed into the world. You think, “Yeah! They’re going for it!” but if there’s no destination in sight, no place they’re headed, they may end up driving in circles with nothing but an empty tank to shoe for it. You must be committed to not only the activities along the way, but truly wanting the end result of change.

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No change will ever exist without actually making changes. But the things holding us back are often used as blinder making us believe that we can’t make the changes. You tell yourself, “It’s not the right time”, or “I don’t have the money”. This internal dialogue will absolutely hold you back. So if you really WANT the change, you have to Read more

How to Define and Accomplish Your Goals: Beginning Steps

This post is part of  The Awakened Heart Project

Week 12: How to Define and Accomplish Your Goals: Beginning Steps 

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”

 ~Sidney Howard

Free Yourself to Be Yourself

The last few weeks we’ve spent a significant amount of time discussing how fear and beliefs from the past create a wall hindering forward movement and personal growth. Fear is a very real part of stagnation in life. If you want to create your great life and build a life where your dreams and aspirations can be realized, releasing yourself from the shackles of your fears is your first priority.

FYI: A body will remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force. A ball will remain on a table until nudged right? Yes! This is also true for humans. We will remain stagnant until acted upon by an outside force. Or, in many cases, an INSIDE FORCE! The uniqueness we have as humans is that we have the choice to choose the inward forces as our primary means of transportation; that is, our heart and minds. I encourage you to really think about that for a minute. Outside forces can push us yes, but outside forces don’t always push us in the right direction. They often push us in the direction that is best for the outside forces. What do I mean by that? Well, your boss might push you to complete a task and do it in a particular amount of time. His task and time frame may be ridiculous and appear almost impossible to you. You may think, “How in the hell will I ever do this? Why would he even ask this of me?” In truth, his motivation is likely for the betterment of the company, or even himself. Don’t think it’s for your betterment, its most likely not. So you get motivated to complete his task at whatever cost. You scarifies your personal life, time with your kids, exercise, sleep, etc., etc., etc. You tell yourself that this outside force is critical to your wellbeing because it’s your job and you need it to survive.

Then one day, you wake up and an inward thought emerges from your mind: What if this wasn’t Read more

With a Hardened Heart, Your Life Will Always Be Empty

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 11: With a Hardened Heart, Your Life Will Always Be Empty   

We could never have guessed

We were already blessed

Where we are…

 -James Taylor

Your Week of Reprieve

The past few weeks the posts have been long, and the material somewhat “heavy”. This week, I’m giving you a bit of a reprieve. This week I will leave you with a story I hope you will reflect upon throughout the next seven days. It will help you prepare for the next chapter of The Awakened Heart Project. Although the material this week is lighter, take 20 minutes to answer the reflection questions, as they will help you prepare for the coming weeks as well.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the “Life Lessons” thus far. I’m looking forward to this next chapter with you beginning next week. And with that, a story…

Between Peace and Joy

With an Open Heart

One day, a woman who found a folded sponge all dried and compressed, and tucked inside the hardened fold was a message she’d been seeking. She carried the hardened sponge to the sea and, up to her waist in the deep, she watched it unfold and come to life in the water. Magically, the secret of Read more

If You Want to Move Forward, and Let Go of Your Past, You Must Be Ready to Feel Some Pain.

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 10: If You Want to Move Forward, and Let Go of Your Past, You Must Be Ready to Feel Some Pain.:

“As human beings, we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.” –Dalai Lama

Brace Yourself for Pain 

I think it’s important to repeat some important themes from last week: We all have internal work to do.  It’s inevitable that we all have baggage from our past that we’ve never bothered to open and sort through. We’ve pacified it with a band-aid and have worked quite hard to forget it. But it hasn’t worked. It’s just changed shape into the form of a tiny little metaphorical “twig”. Just like the elephant, there are “twigs” holding each of us back. The pain from our past often holds us hostage…Face it,  -we ALL have these “twigs” whether we like it or not. And the only way to realize that it’s just a twig and that you can walk away from it, is to accept the fact that the twig exists, and pull that band-aid off and to realize that this little twig can be dealt with (with some work of course), and removed. In order to see the path to what you want, you must first see what is holding you back! It is then, and only then, that you can start moving forward.

And with that, IF YOU WANT TO MOVE FORWARD, AND LET GO OF YOUR PAST, YOU MUST BE READY TO FEEL SOME PAIN!

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I know, what you’re thinking, “But band-aids help heal! If I rip it off now I could open that wound!” Actually, these “band-aids” aren’t really band-aids. They’re metaphorical band-aids. In reality, these “band-aids” are actually just concealers, camouflage, a façade, a mask, or blinders. Putting a band-aid on an emotional wound will not heal it; it will only cause it move further inward to a place that’s harder for you to reach, but it will undoubtedly continue to cause you pain. You may not understand Read more

In Order to See the Path to What You Want, You Must First See What is Hold You Back.

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 9: In Order to See the Path to What You Want, You Must First See What is Hold You Back.

 

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.”  -C. JoyBell C.

You Gotta Move Forward, But First…

See what’s’ holding me back? What do you mean? I know EXACTLY what I want, and what path to take, but everyone else is getting in the way. I’m not the problem, everything and everyone else is!

Really? I’m sorry to break it to you, but I highly doubt that everyone else is the problem, and you have nothing to do with YOUR OWN PROBLEM. Yes, sometimes there’s some red tape in your way. And yes, sometimes, people in positions higher than you can deter your progress up the latter of growth (for instance in work situations). However, if you REALLY want to grow, and REALLY want to move forward, why are you still letting these people or things get in your way? Take a minute and really think about it. You can’t control how other people or things pan out, only how you do. If you want things to be different you have to change. Sometimes, that means quitting your job to pursue your passions. Sometimes that means taking the road less traveled. But you always have the choice to say, “No, I will not take this anymore, I want better for myself, and I know I deserve better, so SEE YOU LATER friend!”

When you get into the pattern of saying (and believing) that you are not the problem and your external circumstances are, you get into the pattern of allowing everything and everyone else to control you. When you believe that you have options, and you control your own destiny, that is when you break free from the perceived barriers that are holding you back.

We all have things within ourselves that are holding us back, -some of them small, some of them large. But the real problem is not that these things exist, it’s that most people aren’t self-aware enough to even know they exist. Read more

If You Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing, You’ll Keep Getting What You’ve Always Been Getting.

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 7: If you keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always been getting.

“There are three kinds of people; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”
-Nicholas Butler Murray

 

 Jump Start Changes, Jump Start Life

Often we try to control when changes come to us, so we can be ready and there will be no fear involved. We want our circumstances to be “just right”. We want change to come when we most expect it and then we’ll be prepared; we’ll be in control! Ha! Yeah right! Seriously, life rarely works that way. Some of us even avoid it at all costs and simply wait for life changes anxiously. Why start something so scary by choice, right? Well, if you’re sick of your circumstances, and tired of the way things are going currently, you CAN’T JUST WAIT.

How many times have you wished things would be different but then you did nothing about it? How many times have you said, “I hate this job” but continue to go to work every day never looking for a new job? Often, our reluctance for changing our circumstances is not due to not knowing what we really want to change, but rather, fearing that Read more

Some Things Are Not Meant To Be. Some People Are Not Meant To Be. Sometimes, What Once Was, -Is No Longer

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 4: Some Things Are Not Meant To Be. Some People Are Not Meant To Be. Sometimes, What Once Was, -Is No Longer. to Respond

“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”

-Michelle Obama

Life and Opportunity 

You have so many countless opportunities throughout your lifetime, and you’ll meet so many different people throughout your lifetime as well. Some of these people will come into you life and stay forever. Others will barely leave an impression. Some will stay awhile and leave you behind, leaving you feeling saddened and empty. Others’ you will have to make the same decision about. Opportunities too, have a way of coming and going. Sometimes, the things we want (and people) aren’t meant to be. We try desperately to make some of these relationships and opportunities work out, but sometimes it’s just not mean to be. The sooner you realize that everything in this life has a phase, -some longer than others, the sooner you will find peace with the present, and Read more

Happiness Has Little to Do With What Happens to You. It Has Everything to Do With How You Choose to Respond


This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 3: Happiness Has Little to do With What Happens to You. It Has Everything to do With How You Choose to Respond

 “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

-Wayne Dyer

Emotional Responses and Life Decisions

It’s inevitable: Life will throw you some curve balls. But YOU and YOU ALONE choose the emotional response you will have to these situations.  No one makes you feel a certain way, or makes you react a certain way. That is all up to you.

For instance, Read more

Out of Your Vulnerabilities Will Come Your Strength: Where there’s pain, there’s growth

This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project

Week 2: Out of Your Vulnerabilities Will Come Your Strength: Where there’s pain, there’s growth

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”

Andy Rooney

Pain Exists. Life can hurt. And sometimes, life can hurt A LOT. But this pain is for your benefit.

How many times have your heard it, “Life is not fair”. It’s true. Life is often unfair. We often get the shaft. Good people sometimes find themselves in bad situations, and painful experiences. While others, who you may believe live horrible lives always seem to get the “best possible scenario” in life. Don’t worry, karma has a way of working things out, sometimes you just have to be patient. Now don’t take that the wrong way, I’m not saying go ahead and resent people or wish bad things upon them. That’s wasted energy (and bad karma). Rather, don’t waste your energy, because the universe will take care of them.  You have more important things to do with your life.

Let face it, sometimes, life is PAINFUL! Sometimes, it hurts so much, you feel as though you can’t go on.  Perhaps you’ve even had a few nights where you’ve cried your eyes shut (I know I have). You may think, “Why? Why? WHHHYYYY???!!” Read more

30 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself to Improve Your Life

Last year I reblogged the article, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself . You may or may not have had the opportunity to read it, which is why I am posting it again. Even if you did read it, chances are it’s time for a refresher, and there’s no better time then the New Year. We’re all looking for inspiration, for change, for new beginnings; anything to help us keep up with our New Years resolutions! I hope you find it inspiring, helpful, and pushes you towards the direction of personal growth. Enjoy: )

Things that will make you happy

__________________________________________________________

Mark angel

Photo by Rob Brucker

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1.  Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends. Read more