It’s a Balancing Act Stupid!

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I know, I know, I KNOW THIS!  Then why is it so easy to slip back into old patterns?  We transitioned into this caregiver role knowing the risks, but also seeing the possible rewards, and the rewards have been many.  I (with extreme type A personality disorder) thought I had a firm grasp on what I needed to do to balance this new life, that fine line between taking charge and keeping things organized, and running around with my hair on fire!  Just where is that darn fire extinguisher? 😉

No one who knew me from my old corporate days would have accused me of being a well-balanced gal.  Ok, maybe I fooled those who fleetingly passed me in the hall, a smile on my face, a warm hello.  Those who knew me more intimately saw the “get it done at all costs (now)” approach to life, stepping aside when they saw me coming, afraid I was going to combust and consume them in the ensuing flames (lol).

Seems that incorporating meditation and yoga into the retired life works to maintain balance only if you still have a regular practice (who would have thought?).   Guess I should have guessed how far off course I had wandered when recently I had to blow the dust off my meditation cushion and the unfurled yoga mat refused to lay flat, wanting to curl back on itself (sounds just like me!). 😉

meditation cushion in the pond

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the only one doing this crazy dance of running from dawn until dusk, ignoring the aches and pains, pushing at all costs to cross yet another project off the list.  As I look to my right, Terry is slumped in the chair right next to me at the end of the day, both of us silently pleading for the other to pour the much-needed glass of wine.  So here we sit, two with wanderlust trying to remain stationary for long periods of time.  Something was bound to happen sooner or later.

This morning, amidst birdsong, I walked to the end of the drive, gingerly sticking a toe across the property line.  Once I had determined there would be no electric shocks, I headed out.  Six miles of country road under my feet, a whisper on the breeze got my attention.  “Good morning Lulu.  Welcome back”.

I had forgotten how living in the moment felt, how important it is to our well-being, and those around us.  Now, if I could just get my muse to cease with the 3 a.m. wake-up call!  In a later post I will share a poem she pushed me to write, one which she believes freed me to pursue a balanced life once again.

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Meditation ~ A Lesson in Receiving

“Your body is precious.  It is our vehicle for awakening.  Treat it with care.”  ~  Buddha

The calm of a sunset
The calm of a sunset

A meditation class I went to the other day got me thinking about the “giving season”, which is now upon us in full-force.  That most joyous of holiday seasons when we open our hearts and our wallets and give generously, if we are able.  You cannot turn on the TV and listen to a news broadcast without hearing a feel-good story about someone giving from the heart, and thank goodness for these acts of kindness.

Ah yes, the holiday season when children’s smiling faces are seen making their lists for Santa; the smell of sugar cookies and warmed cider permeating the air; and twinkling lights and brightly wrapped packages dazzling us.  Are we all feeling euphoric now or are some of you feeling a tad bit stressed thinking about all that must be accomplished before the holiday comes swooping in?   Here is the other side of this blessed season that the smaller eyes do not see and that we oft-times block out.  This is also the season of serial multi-tasking, between jobs, cooking, cleaning, and immersing ourselves in the streams of traffic and rubbing elbows with the hordes of stressed-out holiday shoppers not unlike ourselves.

Most all that we do at this time of year is done in that beautiful act of giving, for family, friends, and those in need, but let’s not forget the flip-side to this record, the act of receiving, perhaps the less popular of the two, but so very important.

How long has it been since you have done something just for you?  Sitting with eyes shut at the beginning of my class, listening to the instructor talk about opening ourselves up to receiving the breath, the life-force, letting it wash over our cells, got me thinking (ok, not during the class because I was meditating, you know) that we need this ‘me’ time more now than perhaps any other time of the year.

Sun's final rays illuminating the heavens
Sun’s final rays illuminating the heavens

I do believe in the power of meditation and there is a tremendous amount of science to support its benefits but if you just do not feel you have the time or cannot sit still long enough to appreciate the positive aspects of meditating, here are a few thoughts to kick around:

  1. Deep, diaphragmatic-breathing, practiced while meditating, expands the air pockets of the lungs, invoking the relaxation response.
  2. Second only to sunlight, oxygen is the most needed nutrient by the human body.
  3. We have roughly 50 trillion cells in our bodies, begging for this life-giving oxygen.
  4. Diseases thrive in our body in an anaerobic (lacking oxygen) state so deep-breathing delivers disease-fighting energy to our tissues.

The act of receiving is so vitally important and so often forgotten.  During this joyous yet hectic time of year, don’t forgot about you as you get caught up in the excitement of the season.  Whether you feel you have the time or the patience for a regular meditation practice, even 10 minutes a day is a good place to start. Perhaps a good place to begin is when you get into your car before merging into the stream of traffic jockeying for position or when you pull into a parking lot before entering that packed mall.  Sit still and imagine bathing your cells in a warm, comforting blanket of oxygen or perhaps standing in a meadow on a warm spring day, sunlight dancing across your upturned face, breathing deeply of the heady scent of wildflowers, whatever it takes to calm your mind and renew your spirit.  May we all practice a little receiving during this “giving season”. 

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photo courtesy of google.com

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Feeding Body and Soul in San Diego, CA

Sunrise on a cloudy day

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.  ~ Albert Einstein

I love the early morning, that quiet time before the pace that takes over the rest of the day kicks in.  Today is my day to do sprints, a way for me to “shock” my body, taking it out of its normal routine and kicking up the cardio a bit.  I know this is not for everyone and some days my body seems to be asking me, “are you sure this is what you want to do?”, but after it’s over I feel invigorated, so for me 30 minutes once a week works.  Being on the beach is the perfect place to do this, a nice soft surface, a cool breeze, the pounding surf, and the salty air.  What could be better?  Ok, a nice gentle walk along the beach, but I digress.

All together now ~ surf’s up!

Exercise time is over so I kick off my shoes and walk back in the surf, another great resistance exercise for the old bod.  The water is a refreshing 64º, that ‘just right’ mix of a little gasp when the waves rush over your feet and that feeling of utter bliss when the tide pulls back again and the sand is running through your toes.

Brown pelicans in flight

This is my time for reflection, meditation by the water if you will, and at times I find my thoughts moving back through time to the beautiful, rugged Oregon coast where we spent a few months earlier this year, and thanks to Gunta and her amazing photography, I get my regular fix.  San Diego is equally as beautiful and we feel blessed to winter here.

Paddle boarder catchin’ a wave
Wipeout!

Today began with a mixture of clouds and sunshine.  Mother Nature seems unsure which direction she wants to head, enticing us with a little sun, then pulling the clouds back like a nightshade, bringing a little chill to the air.  Whichever she decides, it looks to be a glorious day with temps around 70º.

Kelp~the sea’s gift to the shorebirds

My walk back has me jumping over large masses of seaweed which the ocean has presented as a gift for waiting shorebirds.  There are a large number of kelp beds off-shore near San Elijo State Beach and what may be viewed as large buggy masses to us is a veritable feast for these birds, and the kelp beds themselves are recognized as one of the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth.  Everything has its place in the world…perfect harmony.

Back at the RV, time for some breakfast of my own. Today I’ll share with you one of many smoothie recipes I throw together.  We like to get most of our carbs from vegetables, the green leafy kind being most dominant but berries just cannot be beat blended into a smoothie and are oh-so-yummy!  Here is what was on the menu today, should you be so inclined to whip yourself up one of these ice-cold treats.

Bluff along the beach.

Berry-Spinach Smoothie

(use organic ingredients when possible~makes 2 large drinks)

2 c. frozen mixed berries

1 c. water

1 scoop protein powder

3 large handfuls spinach

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 avocado

1 T. flaxseed oil or ground meal

Blend and enjoy!

Mother Nature has spoken; looks like another warm sunny day in paradise.  I hope wherever you are, even if the sun isn’t shining, you are having a marvelous Saturday.  Now off to work I go with a very big smile on my face.

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Living with Compassion

As I walk along the beach in the early morning, all alone save for a few joggers, my mind goes to the issue of compassion.  It seems as long as I can remember, this is a trait that I could embrace.  The only piece missing for me at times was to come from a place of compassion for myself.  During those times when I could not find it within myself to lovingly embrace me, it seems I expended all my energy giving it to others and ended up drained, feeling empty.

I once felt that putting me first was an act of selfishness but I have found that this could not be further from the truth.  When I embrace myself, telling me I am good, kind and deserving of love, it seems my heart fills to the brim and I have so much to offer others, whether it be a merely a smile, hug, or a warm thought.

So why is it that some people we meet don’t seem to have the compassion “gene”? Our culture, experiences, traumas, our parents’ traumas, etc. all cause us to approach life differently.  Is compassion lost to those who have had these different experiences?  I believe compassion can be taught and we can be our own teacher.

Practicing mindfulness, I believe, is the first step to finding our compassion mojo. Breath-by-breath, in a non-judgmental way, we could begin by sending out a blessing to those we care about, then on from there to those we struggle with, and end with a blessing for ourselves.  Many meditation mantras are available or you can use your own words.  This is one approach and may be the easiest, as it is natural to send out positive energy to those we already care about, but not so easy to do so for more challenging folks and sometimes the most difficult to send the love back to ourselves.  Starting today, how about we all give ourselves a big hug first, knowing that we are good and kind, worthy of the love we give to others, then continue on to embrace those who we may see as different.  What have we got to lose? 🙂

Gossamer threads

emerging from the heart

embracing the globe

in an intricate web

~

Some fragile

some strong

all carry messages

~

Words filled with…

love

hope

promise

compassion

~

Vivid images

beautiful to behold

reaching out

touching

heart connection felt.

 © LuAnn Oburn 2012

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A Contemplative Kind of Day

Spiritual awakening is about waking up from your ego. It is not about awakening the ego.   ~  Sampo Kaasila

The day started with a 45-minute sit and the instructor discussing the practice of Drishti, which is a technique that develops focus.  She asked us to focus not just on what we wanted or needed for ourselves but for compassion and abundance for all of humanity.  Imagine what our world would look like if we awoke each day thinking about others instead of ourselves, particularly those who we struggle to understand or even like.  Imagine a world where we attempted to see another’s point of view instead of holding on so stubbornly to our own.  This was a great way to start my day.  Yoga and a walk on the beach followed.  Ahhh, utter bliss!

Ever since I read the book Autobiography of a Yogi some years ago, I have wanted to visit the Self-Realization Fellowship Hermitage in Encinitas, CA.  This is the center that was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1937, the revered yogi who brought India’s great science of meditation to the West.  He tirelessly devoted his life to uniting East and West in spiritual understanding.

Terry and I walked into Encinitas from our campground, toured the meditation gardens and the temple.  It was a lovely extension of my morning and I am looking forward to participating in some of the meditation sessions offered.  Our walk back proved to be just as joyful, as we were able to watch a pod of whales spouting offshore and a school of dolphins playfully riding the waves in.  I think we could get used to this place.

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