Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Surrender Box

Or Letting go and Letting GOD.

Several years ago a church I attended had a visualization practice that went along with that Sunday's message which was about letting go of all the 'baggage' we carry around with us. The things we can't control, can't change and aren't helping ourselves our anyone else by holding on to.

Christians - heck people in general are famous for saying we've 'gotten over' past issues or let something go only to pick that thing back up and continue carrying it with us into our future. We'd rather hold on to hurt, anger, regret and punish ourselves with what could have, should have, would have been than accepting events in our lives for what they are and moving on to all the blessings we've yet to step in to.

The exercise we did that Sunday was a really neat way to help permanently let go some of those things we all hold on to.

Scattered over the steps at the alter were small red bricks and black sharpies. The pastor invited members of the congregation to come up, get a brick and a marker and write all the things in our lives we've wanted to give to God but for whatever reason just hadn't been able to let go of.

After covering your brick with those things you returned to the steps, knelt, prayed, and left your brick - and issues on the alter for God to take care of.

The action of physically leaving the brick there with all of your deepest secrets penned on it was symbolic of setting aside all those things you've been carrying for so long and leaving them behind, getting up fresh and renewed.

I can tell you there wasn't an unwritten space left on my brick and as I prayed over those hurts, angers, issues and the tears fell on the brick wetting the words I'd written I felt a weight lift from my shoulders that had been holding me down for a very long time.

I can't say that every past issue I had just magically stopped bothering me - I had way too much baggage for it to be that easy, but I can say that at least some of the scars healed and some of the anger faded.

Today's DailyOM is very similar to the exercise we did at church that day and a practice I think we may begin at home.

A Place for Worries and Fears

A surrender box is a tool to let go of our burdens so the universe can take care of them for us.

There are times when our minds become too full. Our to-do lists, worries, plans, and dreams may be so crowded together in our heads that we don’t have room to think. We may believe that we are somehow taking care of our desires and concerns by keeping them at the forefront of our minds. In maintaining our mental hold on every detail, however, we may actually delay the realization of our dreams and the resolution of our worries because we won’t let them go. At times such as these, we may want to use a surrender box.

A surrender box allows us to let go of our worries and desires so the universe can take care of them for us. We write down what we want or need to happen and then place the note into a box. By writing and placing our thoughts in the box, we are taking action and letting the universe know we need help and are willing to surrender our feelings. We give ourselves permission to not concern ourselves with that problem any longer and trust that the universe is taking care of it. You may even want to decorate your box and place it in a special place. Your surrender box is a sacred container for your worries. Not only do you free up space in your mind by letting go of our worries and desires and dropping them into your surrender box, but you are giving your burden over to a higher power. Once we drop our worries and desires into the surrender box, we free our minds so we can be fully present in each moment.

Surrendering our worries and concerns and placing them in the hands of the universe doesn’t mean that we’ve given up or have been defeated. Instead, we are releasing the realization of our desires and the resolution of our worries and no longer concerning ourselves with their outcomes. It’s always fun to go back and pull the slips of paper out of the box once your requests have been granted. And it’s amazing how quickly problems go away and dreams come true when we finally let go and allow a higher power to help us.

The Surrender Box is a great idea even if you're not a Christian. Most people believe that there is something out there. Some higher power that guides us all, so whether it's God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, The Goddess or whom or what ever you believe in, the Surrender Box is something everyone can use.

Another great thing about this is it isn't just for adults. Kids today have so many stresses and worries that it's unhealthy. Not only do they worry about what is going on in school, with their friends, they pick up on what's going on at home too. Creating a family surrender box can be a great way to help them feel involved in what's bothering mom and dad and take an active part in helping with it.

Now I'm not saying you should burden your children with all of the stresses of being a parent, but if there are some small things - like wanting dad to get a raise, or issues with the car - little things that a kid can understand - talking to them about what's going on can not only help them understand the stresses or tensions they are most likely picking up on but help them feel more a part of what's going on in their lives and the family as a whole.

And including them in the creation of your family surrender box can be a fun family craft time!

So... what are you surrendering today?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Staying Grounded in Busy World

Life can get crazy busy and in the middle of our hustle and bustle we often lose track of the important things in life. we lose track of ourselves, sometimes we even lose track of the most important reason we're here and the most glorious gift of being alive and that is just to simply LIVE.

For a more grounded life, choose not to get caught up in the fast-paced world around you.

1. Live simply and live deliberately. By choosing not to get caught up in the details of this fast-paced world, you are doing your part to slow down. You will discover that you have more time to enjoy being alive.

2. Stay in touch with yourself. Soul searching, meditation, and journaling are just a few of the many activities you can take part in to stay aware and learn as much as you can about your emotions, reactions, likes, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Having a solid sense of self gives you a firm foundation for living in this world.

3. Support or teach others as often as you can. This can help you form connections with people while also giving you an opportunity to make the world a better place.

4. Consciously choose what you will allow into your being. The media bombards us with visions of hate, war, and pain. Be judicious about what you read, watch, and listen to.

5. Acknowledge the beauty that resides around you. Whether you live in a sprawling metropolis or a stereotypical suburb, there are natural and man-made wonders just waiting to be discovered by you.

6. Nurture your ties to your tribe. If you don’t have one, create a community that you can belong to. Modern life can be isolating. When you have a tribe, you have a circle that you are a part of. Its members – loved ones, friends, or neighbors - can be a source of support, caring, guidance, and companionship.

7. See the larger picture. Remember the way that you choose to live is not the only way to live. Widen your perspective by exploring other modes of being through research, travel, and discussion.

8. Embrace the challenges that life presents to you, and challenge yourself often. After a time, even the most exciting jobs or lifestyles can seem routine. Never stop assimilating new knowledge about whatever you are doing, and your life will never seem dull.

9. Move your body. In this busy world, it can be easy to live a sedentary life. Movement reacquaints us with our bodies and connects us to the earth in a visceral way. It also restores our vitality.

10. Make time for stillness, silence, and solitude. The world can be noisy, and we are subject to all kinds of noises nearly every waking hour. We are also often “on the go” and unable to relax. Being alone in a peaceful place and making time for quiet can help you stay in touch with yourself.

1-10 content from DailyOM

Monday, August 01, 2011

Getting my OM on

According to the Mandukya Upanishad, "Om, or Aum is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it".

It is a Hindu sacred sound that is considered the greatest of all mantras. The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds a-u-m (in Sanskrit, the vowels a and u combine to become o) and the symbol's threefold nature is central to its meaning. It represent several important triads:

•the three worlds - earth, atmosphere, and heaven
•the three major Hindu gods - Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva
•the three sacred Vedic scriptures - Rg, Yajur, and Sama
Thus Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe

When I lived in Michigan I started having bad issues with insomnia. I'd lay in bed and no matter how hard I tried I just could not turn my brain off. I'd read, count sheep, listen to soothing music, exercise - anything I could think of to calm my mind or wear me out enough so that once I got into bed I would actually sleep.

When none of those things worked I decided to give sleep aids a try. Lunesta, Ambian, Rozerem, Melatonin... none of it worked. Some in fact had the opposite effect and made me jittery and agitated all night.

After weeks of not being able to sleep fatigue started having adverse effects on my ability to function and I was at my wits end.

Having tried every thing medical and physical I could think of and having them all fail, I decided to take a different approach and looked into meditation. After all, meditation is supposed to calm or still the mind and it was my racing noggin that was keeping me up so I figured what the heck.

I did a lot of research and reading on types of meditations, mantras to say or think while you're meditating, posture and hand positions that achieved different results during meditation. You name it I looked it up. After finally settling on the simplest technique I could find I decided I was ready to give it a go.

I will be totally honest - at first it was HARD. Sitting thinking about nothing isn't as easy as it sounds. Even in the quietest room in the most comfortable position thoughts bombard your mind. Did I put gas in the car? What am I wearing to work tomorrow? How soon do I need to go grocery shopping? How annoying was that jerk who cut me off in traffic today! If anything trying to quiet my mind made it want to get that much louder.

But I persevered and after a while I got the hang of it. The key is - not to try and not have thoughts, but rather to let the thoughts flow freely without focusing on them. Instead of zoning in on a thought and pondering on it or trying to force it away - you just acknowledge that the thoughts are there and let them flow past. After a while the thoughts get less and less frantic and eventually you'll notice that they've completely gone and you are left with a glorious peaceful quiet.

Anxiety, stress, sadness, sleeplessness! Pretty much any thing in your life that is having an undesirable effect on your emotions or attitude can be resolved with meditation.

It also helped me feel closer to God and creation. There are amazing things to be found in the stillness of a quiet mind.

I'd love to say I stuck with it and have reached a place of ultimate zen but unfortunately life gets in the way and no matter how good our intentions the things that are best for us often fall by the wayside.

Thankfully my husband is very serious and disciplined in his meditations, mantras and spiritual practices, and seeing his dedication is helping to motivate me to get back in to the ways of all things peaceful and calm.

My DailyOM is one of the tools I'm using to help me get my zen on. I stumbled across it on Facebook and so far really like what I've read. I'm a big fan of affirmations and positive reinforcement and this site has both - as well as educational information, meditations, classes and more. I'll be posting stuff from their site from time to time and hope you get as much from it as I do.

I'll wrap this up with a funny memory involving meditation and my little brother.

He'd been having a really hard time and was partaking in some less than healthy substances to help him get through those times. During a phone conversation one night I suggested that he try meditation to try and help him feel more calm and peaceful. Either I didn't speak clearly or he wasn't hearing clearly but the reply I got back was "Mollie - I'm trying to get away from drugs - not take more!"

Obviously he thought I'd said mediCation instead of mediTation. It was a funny moment during some not so funny times.

See - even if you're not practicing meditation it can bring you laughter.