Refocus your Focus!

All of us have priorities, things we must focus on. Deadlines we must meet. But as we spend our days hyper focused on achieving whatever it is that is at the top of our to-do list…. Much of life (life happening all around us) seems to blur into the background – even when you think it is not. Even when you think your juggling really well; your eye, on all the balls… in reality, you ultimately drop one or two.

And what do we lose focus of most often? Things that are not a priority? Yes. But we also tend to lose focus on things that are a priority (usually things that are going so well… we simply feel we can relax a bit). Unfortunately, these are often our most important relationships.

Recently, my youngest started developing a nervous tick. Almost unperceivable at first, yet it went from 0 to 90 (becoming a chronic tick) in less than 2 weeks. It developed at such an alarming rate, that my child’s teacher, assistant teacher and myself all sought each other out (in a bit of a panic) to discuss what course of action should be taken.

My youngest has a learning disability, so he has had a lot of attention from me & help from tutors, therapists… to prepare him for school. After years of work & due to the fact everything was going so well, the tutors, teachers… and I all changed our main focus to more urgent priorities & BAM! Something happened to trigger his stress tick, but none of us had been focused on him enough to know exactly what. I took my eye of the ball so briefly, and one of my most important relationships immediately began to suffer.

During the same time period (not a coincidence), I had just gone back to work and was pushing myself to prove myself after being out of the workforce for a number of years. I spent far too many hours staring into my illuminated computer screens… and started developing mild headaches… Since I was trying to reach a deadline, I ignored my bodies warning and kept working until I got the job done. I pushed myself so hard that I ended up having a horrific migraine last Friday that lasted 72 hours through the Memorial Day weekend.

I reached my goal. However, I was so focused on my work, that I dropped two balls (my caregiver relationship with my son and my relationship with myself/my health). I ignored the warning signs (the mild tick and the mild headaches). I simply thought I had more time before I had to address the problems. Due to my delay, mild problems became chronic.

How often do we ignore (relationship and/or health) warning signs in our lives? We are all so busy, and our to-do lists at times seem endless… relationships (& health) often suffer because of it. How do we stay focused on all that is important to us? We don’t. However, we can address ensuing problems in our relationships as soon as they pop up – not waiting until they become chronic situations.

I know how to take care of myself when I get out of whack. So I do (although I shouldn’t) sometimes drive myself harder than I should. However, seeing my son out of whack for the first time – helped me refocus my focus on the most important things in my life. It was no mere coincidence that my son developed a nervous tick at the exact same time I went back to work. Everyone in a relationship (household…) affects everyone else. My son did not hear me speak or see me behave in any stressful ways… he simply felt the stress I was internalizing.

I dropped everything over Memorial Day weekend to right my wrongs. Thank goodness I was able to find a natural remedy for my migraines – and am back to work no problem. As for my son, we had a number of long talks. I am no longer multitasking in his presence. If he is “present” – so am I. His teachers are glad to report that his chronic tick is now no more than an occasional nervous twitch.

If I want my home to be healthy and harmonious, I have to be a model of health and harmony – not just outwardly but inwardly (physically, mentally & spiritually) as well. If your harmony/health is not deep – your energy/vibration will affect others/your relationships in negative ways (despite your outward well intended words and actions and/or your ability to “appear” healthy on the outside).

Pay attention to all that is important to you… when you notice something going astray – act as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to face a problem or change the status quo. The less damage that is done, the easier things will be to rectify. When you do fall off the wagon (so-to-speak), don’t be upset with yourself. Simply do your best to regain your (physical, mental and/or spiritual) harmony again – ASAP. If it is done quickly enough (without too much harm to those around you), your relationships should get back on track (after you say any needed amends of course:).

If life has simply been too hectic to manage, and, issues in an important relationship do become chronic… Again, do not waste time feeling guilty and/or beating yourself up over the situation… Refocus your focus and face it head on!

In love, everyone needs to be “masculine” & “feminine”…

I had always been extremely extroverted, an overachiever, a triple A+ personality type, extraordinarily (materially) successful (even in my early twenties), blah, blah, blah… I was very “yang”. However, my marriage to my childhood sweetheart was an absolute mess! My husband was uncomfortable with my increasing success… No matter how much I tried to save our marriage, sadly our marriage was lost…

As time went on, my personality seemed to only attract alpha (yang) males. However, once in a committed relationship, they did everything in their (mighty) power to snuff out my light, always wanting the limelight for themselves & expecting me to take a backseat to their lives. After a while I thought I must have been doing something wrong.

I thought that I simply needed to work harder at practicing unconditional love. I had been researching psychology, philosophies, physiology, eastern philosophy, religion…. And, as we often do when we are trying something new, I made a mistake – a BIG mistake. I mistook the idea of the “feminine principle” (yin) as all I (a woman) should try to emulate in the hopes of creating harmony in myself and in my relations with others (especially my partner).

The semantically complex compound word “yinyang” simply put means “opposites”. Exact translations of “yin” & “yang” separately are: “shady side of the hill” & “sunny side of the hill”. Yin (the “shadow” side) represents the passive female principle in nature (defined by Chinese philosophy as: soft, wet, flowing, dark, mysterious… submissive); yang, the assertive male principle in nature (defined by Chinese philosophy as: rigid, dry, solid, visible, evident… dominant).

I had found the Chinese Taoist yin principle: “be like water” very helpful in handling rigid business colleagues. The principle believes that water is stronger than stone (simply look at the grand canyon). When dealing with a “rock”, one must learn how to go around the rock, to wear it down, to reach one’s final destination/goal… It actually works very well. Not wanting another failed marriage… I thought maybe there is more to the power of the innate “feminine” principle & that it was certainly worth a try.

YinYang

Since I had an extremely dominant male, I thought all I have to do to make our home harmonic is practice the yin principles. For the sake of peace, for the sake of my children, I’ll simply be the yin to his yang… I thought, “No one is perfect, so I should continue to try to love unconditionally – this time using the yin principles…” Surprisingly, ta dah! I actually found the Chinese Taoist yin principles to be very helpful guidelines in learning to love unconditionally. I was actually able to master unconditional love… I must say it gave me an inner peace and an ability to be happy like I’ve never known. My inner (mental & spiritual) life was now bliss. However, in time, it took a great toll on my physical & material well-being (my yang so-to-speak).

What was I doing wrong? “Such a great theory!” I thought, “Why isn’t it working?” I had a beloved Zen master (who sadly moved back to Japan), who told me for years, “Why are you trying to be a saint? You are not a saint. Stop trying to be one!” Zen masters always speak in riddles… so I never quite understood exactly what he was trying (repeatedly) to make me see. I would think, “I like being a good/loving person. What’s wrong with that?” Plus, I loved Zen meditation (a yin/feminine principle) – it was great for maintaining my mental well-being.

Later, I studied with a Sufi master (who is sadly back in Turkey), he would say (also repeatedly), “You have to be a warrior! You must learn to fight! Even Jesus was a warrior!!!” I never understood why a Sufi master would be referencing Jesus, but o.k. Whatever works I thought! But it didn’t work on me; I wanted to be as “loving” as I could be. Plus, I had never been happier, I loved being connected to my spiritual (yin/feminine) side – nothing bothered my inner peace.

Then at a New Year’s party. The hostess had hired a psychic as entertainment for the entire event. Everyone was letting her read their palms, cards or something… Anyway, late in the evening I finally acquiesced. I sat down and the woman looked at me and said, “You are a very loving person.” I can still feel myself swelling with pride, surrounded by a number of guests watching the “show”. Then, in front of all those people the psychic said, “No. No. Wait. You could be a very loving person, but you don’t love yourself. Until you love yourself, you’ll never be a truly loving person.” I was mortified! What a slap in the face. My swelled ego burst. I got the message this time – loud and clear!

How stupid I had been! The harmonic yinyang principle was never about separating yin & yang (the opposites). It was never about being a compliment to someone else… It was about being the compliment to my self – being everything (passive & aggressive, soft & hard, flowing & solid, shadowy & clearly visible, mysterious & evident, submissive & dominant…) all in one. Every person has to be a lover and a fighter. The key is to train oneself to know when (and how much of) each principle is required. The mastery is being able to do that well enough to use all of the principles in only a constructive way (that is what the dots in the symbol represent — when one aspect becomes so powerful that it is about to take away from/become destructive to the other — it is time to change focus/strategy) .

At first I was too assertive (yang without enough yin). Physically and materially at my peak, but my inner self was a mess. Then I became too passive (yin with not enough yang). My psychological and spiritual life blossomed –  while my finances and body were devoured by my spouse. Now, I am able to know exactly when to be assertive and when to be passive, which is needed when & how to utilize just the right amount of both. Am I happy? You bet I am! Am I at peace? You know it. Do I know how to get my needs met without bulldozing others? Un-huh. Do I love myself? Yes, I do. Am I a loving person? I think so (but I might want to get the number of that psychic)!

An Interesting Side Note:
The earliest recorded English usage of Chinese Taoist/Daoist “yin and yang”, is cited in the Oxford English Dictionary as: 1671 – yet we are just now starting to understand their true meaning. Talk about being lost in translation!

No (World) Peace Until You Learn to Love Yourself.

Peace is: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations. (Dictionary.com). If we truly want “world peace”: We must first (and foremost) learn to have harmony in our own lives (learn how to love, understand and accept ourselves, our most intimate relations, as well as our extended families, our neighbors, our communities, our school communities, even the people where we work…). Peace (harmony/love) must start with ourselves. When the majority of people master this, then (& only then) can the concept of “World Peace” become a reality.

A slogan that needs to become a reality long before the concept of “World Peace” is: “Harmonic Homes!”, or, “Home Peace!” We should rally for: Peace in our families! Peace in our schools! Peace in our neighborhoods! Peace on our roads! Peace in the workplace! But most importantly, we should be rallying for: “Inner Peace!”

Yet, what would be the purpose of gathering for an “Inner Peace” rally (demonstration, march, or, silent protest) — except to have another networking opportunity? It would be better if people simply dedicated (scheduled in non-social/non-networking) alone time for cultivating their own peace (understanding, acceptance, harmony). Anyone who is truly tired of war, road rage, charity board power plays… should consider making this a top priority.

Remember: Love is Energy. Love, our feelings, our thoughts, our anger, our prejudices…. are all energy/vibrations (just like music – some harmonious – some not). They all effect (consciously & unconsciously) everyone nearby – as well as everyone far away (the world per se). This is a simple fact of quantum physics. A person’s behavior and speech can be politically correct… However, if their heart and thoughts are not full of understanding, acceptance, love & harmony – their gestures and words will not have a peaceful effect on others (they will in fact have the exact opposite).

How many of us are living in truly peaceful, harmonious, loving homes? Relationships, neighborhoods, communities, schools, workplaces…? For any of this to happen, we must be at peace with ourselves first. As long as the majority of people are not at peace with themselves (not loving/harmonic individuals), not only is the concept of world peace somewhat of a cruel joke – so is desirable love.

It’s attainable. All of it. World Peace. Inner peace. & everything in between. It all starts with a seed & that seed is each and every one of us. For each of us that can attain inner peace/harmony (understanding, acceptance, love for ourselves), there is another intimate relationship that has the hope of doing the same; another family; another community… Each person’s thoughts and feeling effect so many others. Simply be the positive change you want to see in your world… and in time, the rest will follow.

Mother Love.

George Washington (b.1732- d.1799) is quoted as saying, “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”

Due to family tragedy, this great man was only able to finish the equivalent of an elementary school education. What I find interesting about the quote is that fact that, George Washington attributes all his great successes in life to the fact his mother taught him physical, mental and spiritual well-being (in the 1740’s no less)…. and that his memory of her is one of great beauty…

Yet, Mothers are humans like all of us… some are healthy… some, not so much…

Albert Ellis, Ph. D. in Psychology (b.1913 – d.2007) is quoted as saying, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You (no longer)… blame them on your mother…. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

(Albert) Ellis characterized his mother as a self-absorbed woman…. according to Ellis, “she… never listened.”…. Ellis’ mother was emotionally distant…. Ellis recounted that she was often sleeping when he left for school and usually not home when he returned…. Ellis was sickly as a child…. he had eight hospitalizations between the ages of five and seven, one of which lasted nearly a year. His parents provided little emotional support… rarely visiting or consoling him. (Physical) Illness was to follow Ellis throughout his life…. (Mentally) Ellis had exaggerated fears of speaking in public and during his adolescence he was extremely shy around women (difficulty exposing his heart). (Wikipedia) Lack of his Mother’s love could be deemed as having negatively affected Ellis (physically, mentally and spiritually).

Today psychologists state that most mother’s asked, claim sincerely that they love their children. However, their findings have shown that many of the children of these same mother’s, do not in fact believe they are loved by their mothers (and some believe they are not worthy of love at all).

Psychologists go on to list the many factors as to the whys… a lot having to do with children thinking they have to achieve something before they would be worthy of (mother’s) love… The psychologists give an equally long list on how to “fix” the problem… saying, if not corrected these children often become overachievers in the unconscious desire to attain love….

All I want to say here is: a mother, her children & her relationship(s) with her children don’t have to be perfect – just harmonious. The role of the modern mom is still in a state of flux (a bit chaotic). Moms, like all of us, need to focus on learning to accept themselves first; focus on their own physical, mental and spiritual well-being. If the mother is full of love and harmony, her children will naturally reflect this.

May our hearts swell with love and gratitude (or at least understanding) for all our mothers!

Relativity in Love.

“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” ― Albert Einstein

Einstein always had a way of describing the most complex ideas concerning life (and love)… in ways even a child could understand.

In essence: Do you want to spend your time with someone who fills your heart with so much joy, that you don’t even notice the passage of time? Or, do you want to be with someone who makes every moment seem like an endless nightmare? Your (love)life is relative to the choices you make. You are free to chose.

Mind, body and spirit… What?

Mind body and spirit. Mind body and soul. These words have become catch phrases. There are innumerable eastern inspired and/or “alternative” websites dedicated to the ideas; the American Cancer Society, the Teachers College at Columbia University, Harvard Medical School (just to name a few of the increasing number of Western mainstream establishments now promoting their own special interpretations) give much advise on living a “balanced” life. Yet, many simply use catch phrases (“balance”, “alternative…”, “quality time”, “ground yourself”, “meditate”…) to describe the catch phrase (mind, body and spirit/soul). Everything sounds very inspirational, but (in layman terms) how do we “balance” our physical, mental and spiritual lives?

First, forget the word “balance”. You actually want to harmonize (not “balance”) your our physical, mental and spiritual entities. Unfortunately, the word “balance” has become a common catch phrase due to a misinterpretation of eastern philosophy (in which the word for “harmony” was misinterpreted to mean “balance”). Balance is a state of equal distribution. Who wants the stress of maintaining a state of equal distribution to attain & maintain physical, mental & spiritual health? Our bodies, minds and souls don’t want more stress; they want harmony.

Our body, mind and soul are interconnected & therefore the health of one affects the health/harmony of the other two. Harmonizing each individually (and thus as a collective) is the key to optimal health, well-being, joy, and (desirable) love in our lives. Try to exercise/strengthen your body, your mind and your spirit everyday. I know that might seem a bit overwhelming at first… Just try!

Like any new exercise/health routine, it is best to try to slowly incorporate Body, Mind and Soul harmonizing techniques into your daily routine. Start with what comes naturally to you (or what you are most drawn to), then layer on additional practices. In time, the better you feel, the happier you are, the more you love life… the more motivated you will become to try/incorporate more techniques.

Here are a few I have found to have a great impact on my health, happiness and ability to appreciate love in and around me – and (even more importantly) to gracefully handle their opposites!

  • Exercise
    • Move, Stretch & Strengthen your body
    • Move your circulatory system (strengthen your heart)
      • Using “cardio” exercises – sweat
    • Move your lymph system (clean your blood/heart from impurities and strengthen your immune system)
      • Walking is the best way to move your lymph
    • move your energy systems (chi/qi/chakras – harmonize body, mind and spirit)every day
      • if you don’t like the idea of practicing kundalini yoga, tai chi, or, Qigong… you can always try Taoist or tantric sex and/or masturbation – they are actually the best for opening chakras and moving chi
  • Eat
    • Not just “100% Organic” (chemically free), but “Whole” (unprocessed) foods.
      • There are many “organic” foods that are refined (processed) that are simply not healthy
        • Learn the difference before you waste your money
    • The largest part of everyone’s diet should be a colorful array (yet the majority green) of low starch vegetables
      • If you eat raw vegetables – make sure you soak for 10 minutes in a hydrogen peroxide & water bath to kill the parasites
        • Most people don’t think about the parasites in raw foods (they exist in large numbers in ALL raw foods & are the cause of many digestive discomforts).
      • If you eat raw foods that you are not 100% sure were prepared properly – have a daily dose of ginger (raw, tea, pickled…) – the ginger will help kill parasites
  • Drink water that does not have added chemicals (since many tap waters do – if you drink tap and don’t know exactly what’s been added to your tap water – use a filter)
    • Also use a filter on your shower heads, chemicals in water are absorbed through the our skin (an organ in it’s own right) and can cause other health problems
  • Get plenty of sleep (children need 8-12 hours; adults, 6-8)
  • Get outdoors more – “ground yourself” in nature
    • We are animals first & just like animals taken out of nature (put into an artificial environment), we suffering physically and mentally if we are indoors too much of our day. Suffering physically and mentally will lead to a weakened spirit (loss of joy).
  • Be happy
      • Practice optimism (not fool heartedness, just optimism)
      • Be positive (don’t lie, tell people the truth, simply do it in a positive/constructive way)
  • Be grateful
    • If you pray for nothing else… say a prayer (or simply some words, if the word “prayer” makes you feel uncomfortable) of what you are thankful for – every day.
      • Only once a year, on the third Thursday of November – is not enough!
    • Western science has now proven that the health (harmonizing) benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless
  • Spend more quality time with loved ones
    • What is “quality time”?
      • It is time in which you pay thoughtful attention to loved one(s).
        • It is not (for example) watching a movie together
  • Live your passion
    • If it is a passion shared with your loved ones – even better
      • If not, to be true to who you are (how you define and love your own self), you must find time to cultivate your individual passion.
        • Schedule in “quality time with self”
  • Meditate
    • There are many forms to choose from: you can practice meditation (obviously), prayer, yoga, mindful breathing, tai chi, qigong, Daoist sex, journal/blog writing, any peaceful activity in nature (such as walking, a slow jog, gardening, sailing, biking…) – remember peaceful not competitive forms (leave those for physical exercise).
  • Sacrifice
    • Practice sacrifice, compassion and empathy for at least one other person everyday (and always for yourself)
    • For example: give time to a local charity, or, simply give a pregnant woman your seat on a crowded bus/train/subway…
      • No matter how big or small the effort – make sure the gesture is sincere/comes from your heart

Last, but most importantly, DO NOT STRESS, if you are unable to do something everyday. The trick is to SIMPLY TRY YOUR BEST everyday. Be kind to yourself. Practice will make progress.

Again this is only a short overview of body, mind, and spirit practices that have helped me maintain harmony in my life — even through the most trying of times. I hope they inspire & bring health, harmony and happiness to you. Remember, all parts of us are one in the same. Be loving to one part of yourself, and in time you (and others) will love all of you even more!

Beware of the Barrenness of a Busy Life.

Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.  – Socrates

We are physical beings, living in a physical (material) world. The need to pursue networks to become more successful materially (financially) – is a vital part of our survival. However, we are also beings with complex psychological and spiritual (harmonic & loving) needs as well.

Make sure to make time for deeper connections with those around you. Being busy and jumping from one chaotic work and/or social event to the next doesn’t leave time for truly understanding your needs, and/or the needs of those around you. If you can’t find time everyday, try to find time once a week (at the bare minimum) for quiet time  to focus on keeping harmony in yourself and your relationships.

Desirable love is complex, but well worth the effort. When you have harmonic loving relationships in your life, you will be stronger mentally, spiritually, physically & thus materially. Yes, materially. At the end of a chaotic busy productive day/period/life… don’t find yourself standing alone (with none who truly loves and cares for you). A life barren of love and harmony is simply put – an unsuccessful life.