An Idea Worth Spreading

When I meditate I do not try to clear my mind of all thought. And I do not push away the intriguing wanderings of my subconscious. Instead, I embrace the thoughts, take a few minutes to explore them, and then settle into the theme for my meditation.

taglineAnd each morning, as I go through this ritual, I hear the echo of Microsoft’s old advertising campaign; ‘Where Do You Want To Go Today?’ It’s almost as if I have a travel brochure in my mind’s eye and every meditation takes me on a wonderful little journey into something that I am manifesting into my life. I think of it as a daily practice of free-form manifesting. I am intentionally creating my life morning by morning and meditation by meditation.

This morning I travelled to my blog. I saw it going viral. I saw the WordPress stats rising into the hundreds of thousands and the map of my readership spanning the entire globe. I saw my blog being published as a book and I saw myself being invited to speak all over the world about 365 Radical Acts. I also saw myself being invited to deliver a TED Talk.

TEDTalksTop100The TED Talk is one of my big, bold and magnificent dreams!

As I meditated, I could feel myself up on that stage. I saw the audience and I felt the energy and the rush of the moment. I felt the excitement and the butterflies in my stomach. And because I was completely relaxed and grounded in my meditation, I did not feel any pressure to come up with a talk…it just happened. My TED Talk took shape and my message was easily distilled as I sat on my couch with my eyes closed in the darkness and the quiet.

And what is my message?

My message is all about connection. Connection with self, with our bodies, with our families, with our friends, with our money, with our work, and with our purpose. And my experience of the past eighty three days is that it starts with noticing.

365 Radical Acts has encouraged me to open my eyes to the everyday ordinary. Now that I am mindfully noticing something in every day that is extraordinary, I am feeling a deeper connection to my life than I ever have. I am now stopping to really notice even the smallest things; the way the sun feels on my face coming through a winter window, the nurturing smell of home baking in the air, the smile of a stranger, the sheer bliss of a bedtime snuggle, the gift of my favourite foods, the miraculous impact of music, and the deep connection to my beloved parents.

The impact of 365 Radical Acts is that I am waking up to my life. And the daily process of taking note of the everyday extraordinary is connecting me in a way that I could never have imagined when I boldly launched this project eighty three days ago.

download (8)What if we all took a few moments in every day to notice the extraordinary ordinary? What if we were witnessing, on a daily basis, the miraculous aspects of our lives that make us all so incredibly special? What would the impact be if we all felt a deeper connection to self?

My TED Talk is an invitation to intentionally bear witness to the miracles that inhabit each and every day of our lives. Some of the miracles are glaringly obvious and some a little more elusive, but they are there. And each one of those miracles is just begging to be noticed. And if we are all noticing those daily miracles and connecting deep within ourselves, just imagine the impact on a global scale.

I think that is an idea worth spreading!images (8)

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The Open Door

My Radical Act for today was hauling my body out of bed at 5:30 this morning while it was still pitch dark and my furnace had yet to kick-in for its morning blast.

6a01116862b939970c014e875a778a970d-800wiI have made a commitment to myself to meditate every weekday morning at 5:30. Some mornings, like this one, the getting out of bed is inexorably challenging. Once I get up and going I am okay. But those first few moments when my cozy flannel sheets feel especially welcoming, it takes the full commitment.

On mornings such as this one, I lean into the ancient wisdom of Rumi, the 13th century mystic and poet. One of Rumi’s poems sits on my night table in a frame and always reminds me that, once I settle into my meditation, adventures await in the rich tapestry of my mind. And, it reminds me that there is no better time to access that wonder than in the quiet hours of the morning.

Each morning that I lean into Rumi’s wisdom, I am captivated by the idea that secrets await beyond the open door. And that I will only hear them if I choose to dance between the two worlds, tune in, and listen deeply.

 
The Breeze at Dawn

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

–         Rumi

Note to Self…

My Dearest Katie,

There are many things that I have discovered about you in the 45 years that we have been co-habitating in this body. At this particular point in time I feel compelled to share ‘Katie’s Top Three Must-Haves to Ensure Success, Balance, Fulfillment and Joy’;images (5)

  1. You need vigorous exercise at least three times a week
  2. You need to write (something) daily
  3. Quiet meditation in the morning is critical to your success

When you try to persuade me otherwise at some point in the near or distant future, please give me leave to have you re-read this lovingly delivered letter.

Seriously!

All My Love,
Your Highest and Best Self xo:)

Down the Rabbit Hole

I started practicing meditation about eight years ago. I chronicled my meditation journey in a recent post entitled ‘Owning the Om’. In my post I described the beginnings of my journey and my current ‘living meditation’ practice which, over the past year or so, has taken the place of quiet meditation in the early mornings. This on-the-fly practice has worked very well for my busy life and I have been comfortable placing a check mark beside ‘Meditation’ on my virtual to-do list.

mediateSince the New Year dawned two weeks ago, however, I have been feeling disconnected from myself and began to feel the call toward a deeper, quieter and more mindful mediation practice. It seemed that the ‘living meditation’ was not really giving me what I was needing anymore and the quiet, reflective, early morning connection-to-self was beckoning.

I got up at 5:00 this morning to kick my ‘new’ meditation practice back into gear. After successfully launching myself back into an exercise regimen yesterday I had tons of energy and awakened even before the alarm went off this morning in the winter darkness. I decided that I would begin with a 30 minute session and as I set my timer I was surprised to realize that I was feeling intimidated by that much time to just sit and ‘do nothing’. I wondered, being a year or so out of practice, if I could actually sit alone for that length of time in the pitch dark.

Well, meditating must be like riding a bike because I had absolutely no trouble and had a wonderful and relaxing meditation. I was so deep into the meditation that when my silent timer went off it actually startled me back into consciousness. I took that as a very good sign. I have not only fallen easily back into meditation but have also felt more deeply connected, blissful and grounded today than I have in a very long time.

download (3)This blissful feeling prompted me to dig into my old YouTube playlists to watch ‘What the Bleep Do We Know!?: Down the Rabbit Hole’ while working in the kitchen this afternoon. What the Bleep is a quirky 2006 docudrama that explains the link between quantum mechanics, neurobiology, human consciousness and day-to-day reality. Every single time I watch it I am absolutely enthralled and completely rejuvenated by the concept that we shape our own reality with our thoughts. And, it reminded me how important my daily meditation practice really is…if I am creating my own life, why not do it mindfully?

I decided that I just had to share this quirky movie and the feeling of connection, magic, science, wonder and love I felt this afternoon while I watched it. You will find ‘What the Bleep’ on YouTube (I have included the link at the bottom of the post- just click on the image).

Enjoy your trip down the rabbit hole!

download (2)

My Daily MEDS

I don’t think I have ever been happier to see the back end of a month than I was at midnight on December 31st. Waking up on January 1st felt like a weight had lifted. I love the New Year. It is as if the slate has been magically been wiped clean and I can start fresh. I love to imagine that absolutely anything is possible and that big things are ahead in the year to come.

I have already shared the fact that I do not make resolutions but I do dream extra big at the tip-top of the New Year.

lululemonI was standing in a Lululemon change room yesterday when I wondered whether a New Year’s resolution was in order after all. As I was trying on my snazzy new yoga pants I caught a rather unfortunate glimpse of myself in the mirror. And for the first time in a very long time, I did not like what I saw. My first reaction was horror and then a rather sinking feeling of depression. Isn’t it funny how fast we women sink into the depths of the body image blues? I called Simon into the change room and asked; ‘Is this really how I look?’ Talk about putting my beloved hubby on the spot! He responded as I knew he would but I did not feel placated and dragged myself through the remainder of our returning-Christmas-gifts trip to the mall.

On the way home from the mall I determined that it was time to pull out the big guns. It was time to go back to a practice that I have gotten away from over the past six months. It was time to re-engage with my MEDS. And, no, I do not mean pharmaceuticals here. I am talking about Meditation, Exercise, Diet and Sleep. The daily MEDS.

images (4)And so, I woke up early this morning, worked for an hour, got the kids off to school and headed straight to my local women-only gym and joined. The added bonus was that three of my girlfriends were there and it felt like a party. I did an awesome weights class and absolutely loved every second of it. The workout was challenging, fun and utterly motivating. I am so passionate about music and dancing and pushing the limits of my body and it is too long since I have engaged that passion.

I had so much post-workout energy today that I have been barreling through the work that has been hanging over my head for weeks. My e-mail Inbox is empty, proposals are written, clients have been contacted and I had three new pieces of business land in my lap just this afternoon.

With this renewed vigour, I figure I will strike while the iron is hot and get my daily meditation practice back on-line as well. My plan is to greet the dawn at 5:30 tomorrow morning to start my day quietly, reverently and peacefully.

Diet and sleep are pretty much in the bag already and with meditation and exercise re-engaged I am now back on my daily MEDS…and feeling pretty darn wonderful about it!

And, just as an aside, the consensus at the gym this morning was that I am not the only one who has been traumatized by a Lululemon change room mirror!diet-cartoon-3

Owning the Om

Years ago when I started to work with my first coach, Annie, I was the mother of three very busy young boys. My house felt wildly chaotic and I did not feel a sense of my own space, time or peace. Right from the get-go, Annie strongly recommended the cultivation of a meditation practice. meditation-6

‘‘No way, I am not someone who can meditate”, I told her firmly. “I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me. I can never get my brain to quiet down. I get way too restless and as I sit there trying to focus on my breathing I end up feeling like I actually can’t breathe. And, my brain is so busy and so loud I feel like I am going insane.”

The irony of my resistance was exactly the reason I needed to meditate. I needed to learn to nurture a quiet centre. I needed to learn how to be with my busy brain. I needed a calm in the storm.

Well, needless to say, Annie kept at me like a dog with a bone and I eventually acquiesced, somewhat reluctantly. I think one of my major stumbling blocks in the beginning was the conception that I didn’t know ‘how’ to meditate. I didn’t know what to wear, what to do, what to burn, how to sit, how to start, how to finish. I did not know how to meditate.

My solution to this meditation quandary was to buy books, watch videos and to download MP3s. I looked everywhere outside of my own wisdom for the right answer. Once I exhausted all the available resources and I was no closer to the ‘right’ way to meditate I finally decided to just start doing it.

So, on that first morning I set my alarm for 5:00am (so I was sure to be up before the first kid), went down to my dark living room, and tried my best to relax in a comfortable chair. That first thirty minute session felt like it lasted for hours and I was plagued with doubts; was I sitting right? Was I ruining it if I kept checking my watch? Was I supposed to push all thought away? Was I supposed to let all thought in?

That first morning was anything but relaxing and, frankly, fairly torturous. With Annie’s encouragement, however, I stayed with it and once I let go of all the rules, guidelines, structures and dogma around meditating I did carve out a wonderful meditation practice. The method I finally landed on was simply allowing myself 30 (or so) minutes of stillness and quiet every morning.

The next plateau on my meditation journey was to learn how to meditate when I was not alone in the quiet stillness of the early morning. Again, Annie challenged me to develop my practice so that I could access the calm and quiet centre even in the midst of my chaotic household. Now that was a tall order!

I have been on this meditating journey for almost 8 years and I am still learning. I no longer need to set the alarm and get up at the crack of dawn to carve out time to meditate. I practice meditation just about everywhere I go; on the GoTrain, in a movie theatre waiting for the movie to start, driving the car, in the shower, in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep, standing in line at the grocery store and when I am writing my blog posts. I use every opportunity I have to drop into the inner calm of my meditative state and re-emerge feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

Learn-meditationAnd when people ask me what kind of meditation I do, I tell them that I have a ‘living meditation practice’. I have no idea if that is even a real thing but it doesn’t matter because I know what it means.

And the bonus? No incense required!