Posts tagged ‘wake up!’

Creating an Environment of Well-Being

There have been times in my life when I have felt as though I was emotionally hanging on by a thread. By a thread that was fraying. And I was hanging on for dear life. Those days are behind me, and I owe it to having created an environment of well-being for myself. I wake up at 5:30 a.m. most mornings so I have time for a wellness routine. I begin with a gentle stretching routine by Bob Anderson and his DVD “Stretching.” I do the “Mindful Movements” routine by Thich Nhat Hanh, and a qi gong routine that varies according to the amount of time I have available. One of my favorite routines is free on YouTube and features Lee Holden. It is only 10 minutes long and helps move energy through my body. I like to end these wellness practices with qi gong shaking and mindful meditation. I really like the Insight Timer app for meditative music and/or guided meditations. These practices have had such a positive impact on my well-being that I also do most of these when I’m on a vacation.

The central theme of my focus on well-being is “self-compassion.” Kristen Neff, Ph.D. has written a really nice book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. My morning routine helps begin my day with self-awareness and self-compassion. I have found that by building up a reserve of self-love and self-compassion, I am not relying on others to fill me up. As Neff says, “Instead of relying on our relationship to meet all our needs for love, acceptance, and security, we could actually provide some of these feelings for ourselves. And this would mean that we had even more in our hearts to give to each other.” (7)

One of the greatest gifts of a life focused on creativing an environment of well-being is a deep feeling of calm and peace, even in the midst of emotionally challenging times. As someone who used to suffer from panic attacks, I am grateful for a sense of well-being that provides me with a resilience I never knew was possible. As Neff says, “…self-compassion is a powerful way to achieve emotional well-being and contentment in our lives. By giving ourselves unconditional kindness and comfort while embracing the human experience, difficult as it is, we avoid destructive patterns of fear, negativity, and isolation. At the same time, self-compassion fosters positive mind-states such as happiness and optimism. The nurturing quality of self-compassion allows us to flourish, to appreciate the beauty and richness of life, even in hard times….Self-compassion provides an island of calm…” (12)

As Neff says, “…open your heart to yourself. It’s easier than you might think, and it could change your life.” (15)

For more information about how to create an environment of well-being for you and your family, here is a podcast with Dr. Dan Peters of Footprint Parent, and me.

September 1, 2017 at 2:36 pm Leave a comment

Are You Willing to Be Unconditionally Happy: The Untethered Soul – The Journey Beyond Yourself

Have you ever read a book that seemed to grab you by the shoulders and shake you?  That is just the experience I had recently while reading Michael Singer’s book The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.  This really shouldn’t have happened as I’ve read other books about living in the “now” and letting go of the “monkey mind” of internal chatter.  But this book picked me up and shook me silly.


Where do I begin?  How about pages 46 and 47 where I did a ridiculous amount of underlining and note-taking.  Singer brings up the idea that “the only thing you really want from life is to feel enthusiasm, joy, love….If you can always feel up, if you can always feel excited abut the experience of the moment, then it doesn’t make any difference what the experience is….learn to stay open no matter what.”  He goes on to say, “Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.  When your heart starts to close, just say, ‘No.  I’m not going to close.  I’m going to relax.  I’m going to let this situation take place and be there with it.’….Let it be the sport of the day….You will just embrace life with all your heart and soul….Just relax and open, and tremendous energy will rush up inside of you.  You are only limited by your ability to stay open.”


I have had a variety of experiences that would normally have shut down my heart in the past couple of weeks, and several of them revolve around my 96 year-old father.  When he complains about something for the tenth time, I am now seeing this as a moment to keep my heart open and compassionate and not allow myself to shut down and try to block out the experience.  This is more difficult to do when I’m struggling with his long-term care company that has yet to reimburse us for the cost of his care, and that continues to draw a monthly insurance premium from his pension check.  But this, too, has been another opportunity to keep my heart open no matter what!


The part of the book that has been the most difficult for me is the idea of being happy “no matter what.”  Singer asks the reader “Do you want to be happy or not?”  He says this is really under our control, and of course most of us say YES!  But then he says that we “have a deep-seated set of preferences that gets in the way.”  He suggests that “any part of your being that would add a condition to your commitment to happiness has to go.”  It is hard for me to imagine being happy under painful circumstances, but Singer says, “Committing yourself to unconditional happiness will teach you every single thing there is to learn about yourself, about others, and about the nature of life…..Make that your game, and just stay happy no matter what….to stay happy, just don’t close your heart.”


I’ve always been a pretty happy person, but I’ll admit that during stressful experiences, I used to tighten my body and let my monkey mind chatter away.  Thanks to The Untethered Soul, I’m learning not to resist life’s events.  I’m trying to keep my heart open no matter the circumstances, and I’m trying to be happy no matter what. 


It may take a few more readings, and a lot more moment-to-moment awareness on my part, but I am now awake to the possibilities of the naturally-unfolding life.

Continue Reading April 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

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