Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday art blogging

Artist: August Macke
Image from Wikimedia Commons

The importance of affirming others

Lately, I've found myself noticing just how damaging a lack of sincere affirmation in people's attempts to keep their relationships healthy. I'm talking about any kind of relationship: romantic partnerships, friendships, co-worker relationships, professional encounters, etc.

Here are a couple of excerpts from a little article I found on affirmation not long ago:

We all need affirmation. We need to know that we are seen and appreciated, noticed and valued. An affirmation is a communication whereby one person recognizes what is sacred in another. Albert Schweitzer once described affirmation as a spiritual act. He was right. An affirmation is rainwater for the spirit. Affirmation nurtures the soul.

Affirmation is more than a compliment. It is deeper than that. Affirmation is an expression of gratitude. It's my way of thanking you for the gifts you bring to the world. It's my way of saying I recognize and am thankful for your contributions, your inner beauty, your kindness. Affirmation is not about judgment (as some compliments are). Affirmaton is about honest gratitude.

Affirmation is an art. It takes practice. Some people take to it naturally while others seem to need a little more time to develop this skill. The more you look for gifts in people, the easier it gets to see them. And the expression of affirmation becomes more graceful with experience. As you become more adept at affirmation, you will become more aware of its power.
...
Sincere affirmation is always right, even when a person does not know how to receive it. Sorry to say, many people go through life without hearing nearly enough affirmation.

--Robert J. Furey

I like that description: "rainwater for the spirit." I really do. Think about it for a while.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

How to be supportive

How delightful:

A true friend laughs at your stories even when they're not so good, and sympathizes with your troubles even when they're not so bad.

-- Irish proverb

Friday, May 29, 2009

We tend to be confused about happiness

Read this one really carefully, okay?

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

-- Guillaume Apollinaire

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The problem with wishes

This, of course, is completely contrary to the principle of being fully present and in the moment:

We spend a long time wishing we were elsewhere and otherwise.

- Robert Farrar Capon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Point well taken

I've always liked this:

If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth.

-- Anthony de Mello

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, 2009

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.

-- Arthur Ashe

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Connection problems

Dear readers,

I've lost internet connection at home so posting will be sporadic until that is up and running again.

Thanks for your understanding!

Peace,
Ellie
~~~

Friday, May 22, 2009

Perfectionism kills

Okay, folks. I've been tellin' ya and tellin' ya! The article is entitled "Do Perfectionists Face Early Deaths? New Study Suggests Yes". Here's how it gets started:
Perfectionism, as a way of life, tends to be self-defeating. New research suggests it may also be deadly.

That's the conclusion of a Canadian
study of senior citizens just published in the journal of Health Psychology. Researchers conducted psychological tests on 450 elderly residents of southern Alberta, and then kept tabs on them for 6½ years. During that period, just over 30 percent of the subjects, who ranged in age from 65 to 87, died.

Perfectionists — that is, those who expressed "a strong motivation to be perfect" and revealed a tendency toward "all or nothing thinking" — were approximately 51 percent more likely to have died during the life of the study than those with more reasonable self-expectations. Those who were rated high on neuroticism — for instance, those who reported often feeling tense — did even worse: Their risk of death nearly doubled compared with those with a more relaxed disposition.
You know I'm going to say it: meditation will help.

There.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Starting the day

I came across this a long time ago and then just found it again:

First thing in the morning, before you meet or greet anyone, remember to greet all of nature, all visible and invisible creatures. Say to them: "I am grateful for your work, I love you and want to be in harmony with you!" At this very moment, in response to your greeting, all of nature will open to you and send you energy for the entire day.

- Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reality

Just be with this for a while:

The sun and its light,

the ocean and the wave,

the singer and his song—

not one.

Not two.

-- Anthony de Mello

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday meditative picture blogging

Letting go of the contest mentality

It troubles me so much when romantic partners or friends get in a contest with each other and make their relationship a zero sum game. Here's another alternative:

Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.

--Pema Chödrön

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Inner stillness

We've all known this for a long time. It's just easy for people to forget:

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.

Herman Hesse

Friday, May 15, 2009

Simplification

The advice to "simplify your life" has become a classic, hasn't it? But it's rare to find a source to explain how to do it a very non-judmental, step-by-step, systematic way. I've just discovered a great blog that will do just that.

The blog is Zen Habits, and I want to quote from a page called "Simple Living Simplified: 10 Things You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life". I like this example:

Purge a drawer. Or a shelf, or a countertop, or a corner of a room. Not an entire room or even an entire closet. Just one small area. You can use that small area as your base of simplicity, and then expand from there. Here’s how to purge: 1) empty everything from the drawer or shelf or corner into a pile. 2) From this pile, pick out only the most important things, the stuff you use and love. 3) Get rid of the rest. Right now. Trash it, or put it in your car to give away or donate. 4) Put the stuff you love and use back, in a neat and orderly manner.
As it happens, I did this yesterday - two drawers, in fact. What a great feeling. (And now I can find socks that match!)

Time Magazine called Zen Habits one of the 25 best blogs of the year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh, this is great!

Just look:

Stress reduction courses in the office are not the answer. Ego reduction courses would be a lot more productive.

Christopher Titmuss in An Awakened Life

That would really revolutionize work life, wouldn't it?
~~~

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Ideals vs. idealism

Ann Callaway posted the following quotation in a comment over on "Does Not Wisdom Call?" - one of my other blogs:

There is a difference between knowing the ideal and being attached to idealism...ideals are great as descriptions of how we want things to be; when they are used as descriptions of how things 'ought to be', they become idealism, a form of delusion.

-- Jiyu-Kennett

Annie went on to say:
I found this disctinction to be very clarifying for those times when I "expect" others to behave in certain ways and am disappointed when they do not.
I agree. Yes, indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Autonomy and acceptance

Artist: Mary Cassett

The other day I had occasion to talk with someone about autonomy. You know, from a meditative point of view, trying to be someone else is a form of unskillful attachment that creates suffering:

Today you are You,
that is truer than true.
There is no one alive
who is Youer than You.

-- Dr. Seuss

Now, here's what I want you to do: Go find a mirror and just gaze into it for a while - longer than feels comfortable - without judgment. And then ponder the little Seuss verse. See where you get with that!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I want to share two of my very favorite mother quotes with you today. The first one demonstrates the power and benefit of affirmation:

When I was a child, my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general. If you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.' Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.

-- Picasso

And the second one is about tolerance and humor:

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.

-- Mark Twain

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Making life workable

Well, I've found a new - new to me, that is - website called The Meditation Spot. As I browsed around I came across a page entitled Meditations for Reducing Stress. Here's the first paragraph:
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches meditation to his medical patients. He writes: "The stress in our lives has become so great and insidious that more and more people are making the deliberate decision to understand it better and to bring stress under personal control." His two books teach a selection of meditation techniques, including body scans, sitting or walking meditation, yoga, chants, and visualizations. He writes: "When you are grounded in calmness and moment-to-moment awareness, you are more creative and you see new options. Life is more workable."
It's a pity our world brings so much stress our way. That can't be changed, really. But how we react to stress can, indeed, be changed. Personally, I find that realization both consoling and encouraging.
~~~

Saturday cat blogging!

His name is Bugs.
Photo by Paul Rogers

Friday, May 08, 2009

Purpose

When you know who you are;
when your mission is clear and you
burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will;
no cold can touch your heart;
no deluge can dampen your purpose.
You know that you are alive.

~Chief Seattle

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How simple

I think I'm going to print this one out and tack it up somewhere in my house - on my bathroom mirror or on my way out the door or something. This is so good, so true, so helpful:

How simple it is to see
that all the worry in the world
cannot control the future.
How simple it is to see
that we can only be happy now.
And that there will never be a time
when it is not now.

-- Gerald Jampolsky, MD

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Henry Finlay (May 1, '95 - May 5, '09)

Henry Finlay


My wonderful, wonderful cat, Henry, died "the good death" peacefully in my arms around 12:30 PM today.

His kidneys had failed and he had stopped eating and drinking. It was time.

Henry was magnificent in every way - beautiful, possessed of great dignity, and more affectionate than any other cat who has ever shared my life. He specialized in both nose kisses and ear nuzzles! He was the "old man" of the family and never lost his "top kitty" status --- even after he got sick.

I am, of course, grief stricken - especially losing him so soon after my beloved Izzy.

But I am grateful and always will be. Grateful to have had the opportunity to give him a forever home when he needed one and even more grateful for all the emotional and spiritual support he has given me for thirteen years now.

Rest in peace my sweet boy. You are purring for the angels now.

~~~

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Words, words, words

This is very true, I think:

The words 'I am...' are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you're claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.

-- A. L. Kitselman

Years ago, my very cynical (at the time) mother sent me this equally cynical little verse (I'm quoting from memory so this may not be perfectly accurate):
When the universe began
God, they say, created Man.
Later (dancing round the sod),
Man, they say, created God.
Watch your words or they will do
Something of the same to you.
Oh, oh, oh. Really ponder those last two lines, would you?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

I just read that today is the first World Labyrinth Day. Take a look at this:
The Labyrinth Society has declared the first Saturday in May as World Labyrinth Day a global day of celebration of the labyrinth with an invitation to walk a labyrinth at 1PM around the world, in your local time zone. The first annual World Labyrinth Day will be celebrated on May 2nd, 2009.
Sorry I didn't bring this to you in time for the 1:00 PM walk. Next year!

I found the information here.

I don't know; could be!