5 Powerful Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness and Embrace the Present Moment

Monday Morning Musings: A Reflection on Bil Keane’s Timeless Wisdom

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.”

Bil Keane

Have you ever experienced the feeling that despite being surrounded by people, they somehow seem distant and disconnected? How often do you catch yourself drifting away during meetings or social gatherings, distracted by your phone or wandering thoughts? Monday mornings, especially when accompanied by gloomy weather like the rain outside my window, can be particularly challenging.

But even on the sunniest of Mondays, we can all relate to that initial struggle to get into the groove. One thing that consistently helps me combat this morning malaise is my meditation routine. As I followed my usual morning ritual today, I reached for my trusted Insight Timer app — for the 1,129th time, to be exact. I would not be as successful in my mindfulness journey without it. Today marked a personal milestone: my 903rd consecutive day of meditation. And within that app lies a little ritual that has become an essential part of my mornings — the daily quote.

Today’s quote was a classic from Bil Keane, the renowned American cartoonist behind “The Family Circus.” For over five decades, Keane graced the pages of newspapers with his endearing comic strip, capturing the essence of family life. Even after his passing in 2011, the torch was admirably carried by his son, Jeff Keane, who continued the heartwarming legacy. The timeless humor and profound insights into the triumphs and tribulations of family dynamics never cease to bring a smile to my face and remind us all of the power of love, laughter, and forgiveness.

Bil Keane’s cartoon shows Dolly talking to one of her little brothers as they sit together on the grass. Her words, though simple, resound with a profound message: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.” This statement beautifully encapsulates the essence of appreciating the present moment. It reminds us to cherish the here and now, and not get too caught up in dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

A Simple Yet Powerful Message

The simplicity of this message is what truly strikes a chord with me. It paints a clear picture in my mind, emphasizing the importance of embracing the gift of today. In our fast-paced world, it is all too easy to get caught up in the constant distractions and to lose sight of the present moment. How many times have you been with friends and family in the same room, yet their attention on the miniature screens as opposed to engaging with one another.

Keane’s words serve as a gentle reminder to remove ourselves from the endless cycle of regrets and anxieties, and instead focus on the beauty and opportunities that exist in front of us.

Carpe Diem: Embracing Each Moment

In Japanese culture, there exists a beautiful proverb known as Ichigo ichie, which translates to “one time, one meeting.” This profound concept reminds us to seize the opportunity presented by each passing moment. Every encounter, no matter how ordinary or seemingly unremarkable, is to be embraced and cherished.

This proverb encapsulates the essence of being fully present and appreciating the uniqueness of every experience. It serves as a profound reminder that these fleeting moments will never be replicated, urging us to savor them to the fullest. So, let us embrace the philosophy of Ichigo ichie and live each moment with a sense of wonder and gratitude.

This perspective encourages us to embrace gratitude and mindfulness, reminding us to fully engage in our day-to-day experiences. It teaches us to appreciate the present as a precious gift, allowing us to savor the little joys, find peace in chaos, and cultivate a deep sense of contentment. Often, we find ourselves weighed down by the past and consumed by worries about the future in our fast-paced world.

However, as Keane wisely suggests, it is essential to shift our focus to the present moment, recognizing its simplicity and clarity. This shift enables us to let go of the burdens of the past, live free from the anxieties of the future, and truly cherish the irreplaceable gift of the present.

Life is bound to throw us curveballs, forcing us to encounter unexpected twists and turns. Whether it’s the sudden loss of a friend or loved one, or the unforeseen termination of a job, these events are inevitable. How we navigate through these challenges will greatly influence our future.

Although the future remains cloaked in uncertainty, we can find solace in the present moment. It is within this moment that we can relish in the joys, share laughter, and foster meaningful connections with the ones who hold significance in our lives. Therefore, it becomes crucial to remain present and not constantly be fixated on screens, allowing us to truly embrace all that life has to offer.

Keane’s wisdom finds particular resonance in today’s world, where the relentless onslaught of information and digital distractions threatens to sweep us away. In acknowledging this challenge, maintaining mindfulness can be difficult amidst the constant bombardment of notifications, emails, and social media updates. However, it is precisely in these moments that mindfulness becomes most crucial.

Stay Present

5 Techniques to Foster Mindfulness and Embrace the Now- Think BEERR

Get ready to explore 5 incredible tools that have truly transformed my mindfulness journey. But before we dive into the details, let’s raise a glass to the cleverly humorous BEERR acronym, which pairs well with these practices (pun intended!). So, grab a seat, sip some mindfulness, and let’s explore how each method can help you cultivate peace and awareness in your daily life.

1. Breathe mindfully as you embark on a journey of inner calm and presence.

Take a few deep breaths, allowing the air to fill your lungs and then gently release. As you do so, feel the sensation of the breath entering and leaving your body, a steady rhythm that grounds you in the present moment.

Let go of any distractions, allowing your awareness to fully rest on the soothing flow of your breath. With each inhale, invite relaxation and clarity into your being; with each exhale, let go of any tension or worries. This simple act of mindful breathing holds the key to cultivating a peaceful state of mind and cultivating a deeper connection with your inner self.

The Image displays a woman sitting breathing, the bubble above her head describes the breathing technique.

2. Engage Your Senses

Tune into your surroundings and allow yourself to fully immerse in them. Pay attention to the sights that unfold before your eyes, taking in the vibrant colors, intricate details, and beautiful landscapes.

Listen carefully to the sounds that reach your ears, whether it’s the gentle rustling of leaves in the wind, the melodic chirping of birds, or the rhythmic crashing of waves against the shore. Notice the scents that waft through the air, from the fragrant blooms of flowers to the earthy aroma after rainfall.

Take pleasure in the diverse flavors that dance on your taste buds, savoring each bite and sip. And don’t forget to relish the tactile sensations that come with touch – the softness of a petal, the coolness of water, or the warmth of a loved one’s embrace. By engaging your senses, you not only awaken a deeper awareness of the present moment but also cultivate a greater appreciation for the wonders that surround us every day.

The image is of a poster describing the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique to ease the mind during stressful moments.

3. Embrace Non-Judgment: Observing Thoughts and Feelings with an Open Mind

Observing your thoughts and feeling without judgement is a powerful practice that allows you to become more aware of your internal experience. By taking a step back and simply observing without judgment, you create space for self-reflection and insight. This practice encourages mindfulness and helps you develop a deeper understanding of your own mind and emotions.

Instead of getting caught up in the content of your thoughts and becoming overwhelmed by your emotions, you can cultivate a sense of detachment and perspective. This allows you to respond to situations with greater clarity and wisdom, rather than reacting impulsively. So, take some time each day to sit quietly and observe your thoughts and feelings. Allow them to come and go, without clinging to them or pushing them away. Embrace this practice as a way to cultivate inner peace and self-awareness.

4. Release the Past and Future:

In order to experience true peace and contentment, it is crucial to let go of the burdens of the past and the anxieties about the future. By dwelling on past mistakes, regrets, or resentments, we are unable to fully enjoy the present moment. Similarly, when we constantly worry about what might happen in the future, we are unable to fully appreciate the beauty and opportunities that exist in the here and now. Instead, we should strive to shift our focus to the present moment, embracing it with mindfulness and gratitude. By practicing meditation and focusing on the present, we can release ourselves from the shackles of the past and future, allowing ourselves to experience true freedom and inner peace. If you’d like to explore this further, you can find a helpful meditation course on releasing anxiety from the past, present, and future here.

5. Return to the Present: Mindfulness is a powerful practice that can help us to stay grounded and focused in the present moment. However, it’s not always easy to keep our minds from wandering. Our thoughts can easily drift to the past or future, causing stress and anxiety. The key is to gently guide our attention back to the present whenever we notice our mind wandering. With patience and persistence, mindfulness can become a natural part of our daily lives, helping us to find peace and joy in each moment. If you’re looking for guidance, you may find this helpful: Return to the Present Moment – 5 Minute Daily Insight.

Final Thoughts

In a world that ceaselessly propels us forward, Bil Keane’s words beckon us to pause, breathe, and embrace the present as the precious gift it truly is. Amidst the chaos and clamor of modern existence, we can find tranquility and meaning by simply being present in the here and now.

These techniques have proven to be invaluable on my mindfulness journey. By implementing the “BEERR” approach, I have learned to breathe mindfully, engage my senses, embrace non-judgment of thoughts and feelings, release the past, and always return to the present moment. These powerful practices have not only enhanced my mindfulness practice but have also provided a solid foundation for cultivating peace and awareness in everyday life.

In our fast-paced lives, it is easy to be caught up in a never-ending cycle of planning for the future or dwelling on the past. We are constantly bombarded with reminders to achieve more, buy more, be more. Yet, in this relentless pursuit, we often overlook the beauty and joy that surrounds us in the present moment. Bil Keane’s insightful words remind us to break free from this cycle of constant striving and to appreciate the beauty of the now.

By embracing the present, we can tap into a sense of gratitude and contentment. It allows us to fully experience the simple pleasures that life has to offer – the warmth of the sun on our skin, the sound of laughter, the taste of a delicious meal.

When we let go of our worries and immerse ourselves in the present moment, we become more aware of the small miracles that often go unnoticed. Keane’s quote serves as a gentle nudge to slow down, appreciate the present, and embark on this day with a renewed commitment to savor the gift of the present moment.

Let’s stay present and allow its boundless beauty to guide us on a path of true fulfillment! With each precious moment, let’s tap into a deep sense of gratitude for the gift of now. Together, let’s seize the day and savor life’s wonders as they effortlessly unfold before us. This beautiful journey of presence awaits, and I have no doubt that with the BEERR technique – Breathe, Engage Senses, Embrace Non-judgment, Release the Past, and Return to the Present – we will thrive in our quest for a bright and fulfilling future. Stay inspired and let the magic of the present moment be your guiding light!

OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Disclaimer: The insights and suggestions presented in this article are based solely on my personal experiences and the tools I’ve found effective in my own life. I am not a certified or licensed professional in any field, and the information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Individual experiences with mindfulness and personal growth practices may vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to consult with qualified professionals or experts in the relevant fields for personalized guidance or if you have specific concerns.

Please use your discretion and consider your unique circumstances when implementing any of the ideas or suggestions mentioned in this article. Always prioritize your well-being and consult appropriate professionals when necessary.

The Lit Lounge: A Transformative Masterpiece – The Four Agreements

Today marks a significant milestone: 820 consecutive meditation days for Mark and me. This intentional practice became our sanctuary after the death of my mother in 2021 which left me feeling untether. Meditation continues to be an anchor for both of us and helped ground us as we were submersed again in family tragedy and grief this past year. In our quest for solace and enlightenment, we continue exploring Mindfulness, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Yoga, immersing ourselves in lectures and videos illuminating our path. From the wisdom of Ram Dass and Alan Watts to the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sadhguru, the Dalai Lama, .the Bible, and more, we seek diverse perspectives on cultivating a life of peace and contentment.

Amidst this kaleidoscope of knowledge, The Four Agreements emerged as an essential addition to my library. While currently enraptured by the epic tale of Cleopatra in The Memoirs of Cleopatra, I yearned for a brief respite, a concise yet potent audio experience to accompany my daily routine. That’s when I turned to my TBR list and chanced upon a book whose power defied its brevity: “The Four Agreements.” I discovered a profound truth in its simple, common-sense message—an eloquent reminder that even the most timeless wisdom can resonate deeply.  What sets this book apart from other self-help books is its ability to create a profound shift in perspective. Its transformative power lies within its ability to awaken self-awareness and encourage introspection.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is an extraordinary book that can change lives. It offers profound insights and practical wisdom to guide us toward personal freedom and happiness. After experiencing both the audio version and reading select portions on my Kindle, I can confidently say this book is worth treasuring.
The audio version of the book is a revelation. Don Miguel Ruiz’s voice is soothing, captivating, and authentic. His delivery adds more depth to the book, making it an immersive experience. Listening to his words, I felt a genuine connection with the teachings, as if he was guiding me through the profound concepts of the agreements.
However, as I listened, I realized I wanted to remember his words and whipped out my Kindle. I found great value in using the Kindle version alongside the audio. Reading and highlighting specific passages allowed me to absorb the profound ideas presented fully. With its ease of navigation and highlighting feature, the Kindle version enhanced my understanding of the Four Agreements and made it easier to revisit those passages later for reflection.
As for the content itself, The Four Agreements is a transformative guide to living a more authentic and fulfilling life. The agreements—be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best—are presented in a concise and accessible manner. Don Miguel Ruiz’s deep understanding of human nature and ancient Toltec wisdom offers practical tools for personal growth and inner harmony. Each agreement, when fully understood and practiced, has the power to liberate us from self-imposed limitations, unhealthy attachments, and unnecessary suffering. They teach us to cultivate self-love, compassion, and acceptance and to let go of judgments and expectations. By integrating these agreements into our lives, we can experience profound positive changes in our relationships, communication, and overall well-being.
This is not a book to read just once but a lifelong companion. Its timeless wisdom invites reflection and self-exploration, enabling us to uncover layers of conditioning and unhelpful beliefs that hinder our personal growth. It has the potential to ignite a profound shift in consciousness and empower us to create a more peaceful and joyful existence.
So deserving of every bit of its five-star rating. Whether experienced through the audio version, the Kindle edition, the printed version, or all three, this book provides invaluable guidance for those seeking personal transformation, inner freedom, and a more meaningful life. I highly recommend it to anyone open to exploring the depths of their consciousness and embracing a path of self-discovery.


These are tumultuous times and uncertainties loom ahead for all of us, making our quest for peace and harmony all the more crucial. As we journey together, hoping to navigate the complexities of life and foster deeper connections with each other and the natural world, The Four Agreements serves as a guiding light, illuminating the path ahead. Its timeless lessons remind me that we hold the power within ourselves to shape our behavior and inspire positive change. With each step, we set a firm example for our children and those whose paths cross ours. So, let us continue on this transformative journey together, exploring the literary wonders within Lit Lounge reviews, for through shared experiences and collective wisdom; we can forge a brighter and more harmonious future together. 

View all my reviews

The Importance of Journaling

I’ve had so much pressure put on me these days I think if I write them down I’ll feel better.

The first line from Book One: Christine’s Diary 2/20/80-6/20/80
February 20, 1980 – I’m 15 years old at the time

I am a huge advocate for journaling. I find it to be a great way of downloading and organizing my thoughts —a way to work out all the crazy details of what life throws at me. It gives me to have the space and time to sort out things. I have been journaling on and off for the last forty years. My mother hated that I kept a journal when I was a teenager. She read it, invading my privacy, betraying my trust. She felt it was for my own good. She wanted me to destroy my diary but it meant too much to me, I was 16 years old and gave it to my boyfriend at the time for safe keeping. It was ‘our diary’. He kept it for twenty years or more and returned it to me, still in the same manila envelope I had sealed it up in two decades earlier. He never opened it. Reading it today is hysterical and I am so glad I have those memories preserved, I had forgotten so much.

Book One is on top of the Red Diary Book IV, the diary which got me into so much trouble. I must have been watching a lot of M*A*S*H in 1981. My current journal is peeking out to the right with the flower design.

I journaled very little in my twenties. Gun-shy that my privacy, my trust would be betrayed again by those around me. I tried to start again when I had children in my late 20s, early 30s – I wanted to have at least a record of some of the milestones they were experiencing—a sentence here, a paragraph there is all I could muster. I was blocked. Mom’s voice echoing in my head telling me that it was dangerous to write things down. Someone could read it.

During a particularly difficult time in my life, little by little, I turned to journaling to quiet my mind. I began writing more in my notebooks. I had finally unlocked a part of me that had been closed off. The dam that was keeping me from being able to express myself on paper was beginning to weaken. Thankfully it burst. That was close to 18 years ago and for over a decade, I have kept the same routine every morning.

Notebook, pen and coffee – the trinity of my morning

I am an early bird who enjoys waking up when it’s dark, no matter what time of year. I head straight to the kitchen and brew myself a cup of coffee when the time is four something a.m. The dogs get a morning snack while we wait for my water to boil. For the last 10 months, I have been using an AeroPress to make my coffee. I used to use a Keurig, but we discovered too many times the minerals that built up in the reservoir, and sometimes something green looked to be floating around if we forgot about rinsing out the reservoir…So now I boil water in a small teapot with a thermometer so I can achieve the perfect temperature for coffee. I love coffee and don’t ever want to live without it, but that’s another blog article waiting to be written. After the coffee is made and the dogs have had a treat or two, we head into my den, my sanctuary.

I sit at the desk that was once my Nana’s, it’s an old secretary that would close if I ever cleared enough of my clutter away. Nana would be shaking her head at my constant mess and the look of her old desk. Usually very little of the dark brown wood is exposed on the writing surface, my journal sits upon a few notebooks, catalogs, mail and my calendar book. The few times I have cleared my desk, the clutter appears within hours much like magnets are attracted to ferrous medal. It’s organized chaos, I know pretty much where everything is when I need to retrieve things from the pile. The idea of keeping the desk clear enough to be able to shut it up when I am not using it seems absurd to be since I am always using my desk.

Journaling Helps Mindfulness

Journaling, for me, has become a form of meditation. It’s one of a couple of ways I meditate besides my time on the cushion. This may seem contrary to what most people see meditation being. Many believe to meditate they must have a clear mind. Many don’t attempt mediation because they think they will never be able to stop the rolling thunder of thoughts they constantly have. I am able to help quiet my mind by writing my thoughts about what’s on my mind first thing in the morning, so I don’t drag that load of thoughts with me throughout the day. There is no turning off of our brains, but you can learn how to control the volume.

I am trying to be more present as I go through life in these very distracting times and I find that journaling helps me to be more mindful. There is something about putting my thoughts down and seeing them visually that I find helpful. I am always encouraging my children to journal, even if it’s an artistic journal of daily drawing or a combination of words and drawings. Sometimes drawing when you can’t find the words will help.

My children are all adults now and came to visit us recently; everybody had their heads in their phones. I miss the days when you left the house, and your phone didn’t come with you. It didn’t used to be like this when I was raising them, the technology became more invasive since they moved away from home over 5 years now. You could focus on what was around you and not be so concerned with the distractions that our phones present today. Again that’s for another blog post.

There was a time when I was trying to get back to writing in a journal but was afraid to write down my thoughts. My mother’s voice in my head, saying that someone would read them and use my words against me. I tried to type a journal and use passwords to lock the entries. But now I have no idea what the password is all these years later, which is just as well. Some thoughts may be better off forgotten.

I never liked typing my journal out. It seems so impersonal. I prefer to handwrite things out. The first draft of my memoir is handwritten in three notebooks. I love the feel of pen to paper. The sound it makes as I carve each letter out into my notebook. Sometimes in the silence of the morning that is all I can hear, a sound which I find soothes me. I have a specific pen I like to use too, the Pilot G-2 .07 in black ink. The ink flows smoothly and never pools. I have had that issue with other pens. This pen feels nice and comfortable in my hand which is important since I can write for hours. When I was writing my book I would write for three or four hours at a time without a break; however morning journaling is usually an hour, sometimes two. I also have a certain style of journal I prefer to use over others: Pen+Gear. It is the perfect size and has a decent number of pages per book. It takes me anywhere from three to four months to fill one of these journals. I also love to decorate my journals the way I would have in high school or college. I don’t know what I will do with all my journals one day. They were helpful to me while I wrote Xine’s Pack of Strays & Others , helpful reminders of certain details here and there. Perhaps I will have a bonfire in our wood furnace, so as not to burden my children with their mother’s leftovers one day. 

A collection of my journals. The one in front I just started a couple of days ago.

“In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that very reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance.”

Franz Kafka

Getting Started

If you want to start a new routine of journaling. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Write as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. I would recommend trying to set as side at least two minutes of your day to start. You would be amazed at what a busy mind can write down in two minutes. And if you can’t think of anything, write down what the weather is like outside. Every one of my journal entries begin with the day, date and time that I started writing. I usually also note the time that I end but not always. I also write down the weather outside. I have a weather station that sits atop my desk so I record the temperature and wind speed if there is any. We can gale force winds on the mountain. All these little details get my pen flowing and my mind starts to spill out onto the page.

When journaling don’t worry about how say things or sound. What is important is getting the thoughts – however raw on to the paper. We carry so much with us on a daily basis, It’s a challenge to be in the present in the moment with distractions so in our face, an overload of information being thrown at us and worries about the future playing on a repeated loop in our minds. Taking a few minutes for ourselves is more important than ever. Sometimes you need to be able to vent and not have anyone judging you. Sometimes just writing down what’s bother ing you can help.

Ceremonial Burn

Burning your thoughts can be extremely cathartic. When my mother was really upset she would sometimes write her thoughts but then she would burn them. Her old boss at the Stork Club, Sherman Billingsley always advised her to never write anything down and if she did to burn the pages and the pad she wrote in. I haven’t burned anything in years however, I have a letter that I plan on writing that I don’t expect to be very nice. I will burn that letter in a cathartic ceremony to free myself of thoughts that no longer serve me. The recipient is dead so it’s really the only way to “deliver it”. I don’t wish to carry these things in to the future with me. Writing things out certainly helps in being able to not only work through things but to also help in letting go as well.

Creating New Habits

I have been trying to live a more mindful life in the last year. It’s not something that I woke up one day and said to myself, “Self, you should be more mindful.” No, it was a way subtler shift than that. 

My mother died in February 2021. I had to double-check that since I am terrible with times and dates. The last two and half years are feeling like more like five. I have trouble sometimes remembering how old I am sometimes. But I blame my best friend partially for that since her birthday precedes mine by six months. For half a year, referring to us as whatever age she was, even if my birthday was still 4 or 5 months away.

Then there is how I think about birthdays in general: when you have a birthday, you have just completed that year. You just successfully finished living the 1st, 10th, 25th, 36th year…of your life and are about to embark on living the 2nd, 11th, 26th, 37th…When I explained this to Mark one day, he didn’t like my reasoning as sound and correct as it was. I just made him a year older. No, I didn’t – he and many others have been thinking about this all wrong.

New parents understand this initially as they watch their children go from hours to days to months old. “How old is your baby?” Three months becomes six months. But they don’t stop there. “How old is your baby? “Nineteen months old.” The answer is seldom “One and a half years old.” 

But all that has little to do with what I originally started talking about, which was trying to become more mindful. I was 56 when my mother died, and I felt very untethered. It was too much – my mind racing around with all sorts of things, too many things. Life had been so unsettling that I felt as if I was clinging to a boat on high seas, and the storm would not pass.

Mark is my anchor and my navigator. As an offshore sailor who has crewed on teams sailing from Newport to Bermuda, he understands life at sea and lived through calm waters that churned up in moments forcing him to hold on for dear life and try to navigate through the storms. His mind, too, races, and he also was looking for a way to be able to settle it.

Together we decided to try to create a new habit of meditating daily. Now we made a mindful decision right there but didn’t recognize it as our first step towards living a more conscious life. The app we use is Insight Timer. I’ve written about this app before, and I guess I just can’t say more about it since it has helped us so much. As well as the guided meditations, there are many talks and lecture series which you can also listen to.

Mark wanted to learn more about Taoism and Buddhism, so we listened to lectures like the Taoist Principles for a Prosperous Life and Practicing the Tao Te Ching by Solar Towler; Exploring the Basics of Buddhism and Exploring the Fundamentals of Zen Buddhism by Silas Day. We listened to The Power of Tao: Live a Life of Harmony & Balance by Olivia Rosewood, as well as Learning From The Masters by David Gendelman. Every morning before we sat for our meditation, Mark and I would sit at the kitchen table drinking our coffee, eating breakfast, and listening to a session of one of the lecture series. For the most part, each session is no more than 10-25 minutes long but lasts 10 to 30 days. For 200 days, we listened and learned so much from these courses.

In my March 2022 post A Year of Mindfulness and Meditation, I talk more about Insight Timer and one of our favorite teachers, David Ji and the courses we took of his that we found to be so incredibly helpful. It was in his Forty Days to Transformation course which delivered a transformation in us – solidifying our new habit of mediation. I won’t repeat myself more than I have here in this post; just suffice it to say that I will forever be grateful that we took that course.

With mindfulness, I have discovered that I am consciously becoming a more grateful person. In the past, I took many things for granted. Perhaps age has something to do with that. We tend to be young and naive – we don’t know any better since we are newbies to experiencing life. Some people learn that lesson earlier than others, and some never learn the lesson. When choosing to live a mindful life, you don’t take things for granted. You live in the present moment, understanding that the past is done and the future isn’t something to waste your time worrying over in the present. You do that, and you miss what’s happening here and now.

Our cell phones and laptops have distracted us from being present. I have become increasingly aware of this and purposefully try to limit my time on these devices. Today’s children spend way too much time playing on their phones and devices – and our parents worried the TV would make us a bunch of couch potatoes! Which it did. No mindfulness is going on when you are staring into these electronic opiates. Which is precisely what they are and were designed to do.

I am glad I have adult-aged children who benefited from running around in the woods and spending time in the woods camping or on a mountain skiing. It’s not to say that my son didn’t have his video gaming phase. Call of Duty was his game of choice that he and the Cavemen played. The Cavemen are his friends and were so called when they dubbed my basement The Cave and spent as many nonschool nights overnight in the Cave as they did in their own houses. If I were raising a child in this day and age, it would be very different and challenging. Knowing what I know, I wouldn’t be handing out video games, laptops and cell phones. I would probably also be homeschooling as well. But that’s for another blog post. I’d like to think that at this point, we would have a much more mindful approach than we did in the past.

In being more mindful, I have been able to set more goals for myself and achieve them. For the last few years, I have been active in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, which has you set a reading goal for yourself. I always wanted to be a reader. I was a very slow reader in school and didn’t enjoy reading then. They always told me I needed to practice, practice, practice. I just wish there had been audiobooks around then. If it weren’t for the audiobooks, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my lofty reading goal, which I set for the age I will be at the end of the year – 58 this year. So far, I am thirty-seven books in, three of which were physical hardback books!

The other goal that I set for myself was to write and publish a book. I am happy to say that in the last two years I have been working very purposefully on achieving this goal and seeing it through fruition. I would not have been able to do this without all that I have learned about mindfulness in this last year and half. In many of the guided mediations I have listen to in the last 446 days, many of the instructors have you plant a seed of intention. At first when I listened and was instructed to do this, I had so many things I wanted to accomplish I didn’t know what to focus on. I have many seeds in my bag to plant. I settled on one of the seeds that I had been holding onto the longest. And that was to write and publish my book.

Currently my book is in the hands of a publisher and it will be published. Thanks to the seed of intention that I planted, focused on and fertilized. I don’t know where this mindfulness and meditation will ultimately lead me. I am just focusing on the present moment, and presently I must start the laundry and get back to selecting photos that are going into the book. Namaste.

A Year of Mindfulness and Meditation

A little over a year ago my mother died and about a year ago I started a new habit of daily meditation. After my mother’s death, I felt untethered and my mind was overwhelmed with emotions, feeling, questions and thoughts. I needed to regain some control. There are so many things in life that we can’t control. When I get upset, I clean. It’s the one thing I can control when things seem to be spiraling out of control.

I write in a journal on a daily basis and have for well over a decade and have diaries that date back to 1980! Writing is a form of meditation for me – a download of thoughts and emotions. I found this to be incredibly helpful for me to proceed with my days having dumped out whatever was on my mind earlier that morning on paper. Unlike right now where I am typing this article directly into my computer; my diary is handwritten. I love the feeling of pen to paper. I find that therapeutic in of itself. However, I needed some tools in my tool belt to be able to help calm me down sometimes for when sitting down with pen and paper is not an option.

Many years ago when my life was spiraling out of control, I started having panic attacks. So I turned to meditation. I started a little each morning here and there. That was about 7 years ago now. I had been meditating on and off for many years but never every day as I have in the last 346 consecutive days (and counting). I have meditated 577 days using my Insight Timer app over the course of all those years.

I like the Insight Timer app since you can learn to meditate through the app which offers a wide range of guided meditations of varying lengths and focuses. I have listened to a number of talks and lectures about Buddhism, Taoism and more. I have used their app at bedtime at times when I need a guided meditation to help me drop off to sleep. They even have bedtime tales you can choose from – one night I fell asleep to The Velveteen Rabbit read to me. By the way, I don’t get anything from them to talk about them. I just really have enjoyed using their app.

I enjoy the way Insight Timer is set up allowing for searching by topics such as Affirmations, Chakras, Mantra, Mindfulness, Pranayama, Vipassana, Walking Mediations and Zen. Both Zazen and Kōan. If you want to use their timer feature to create your own customized meditation timer with the ability to use starting, interim and ending bells, chimes, gongs, or nothing at all. You can set background music or sounds or mediate in silence. You set the time and can save your presets. They make everything quite easy for you.

You can also save your favorites and can follow teachers that you like. They encourage you to donate to the teachers and make that easy for you to do charging it to your Apple Pay account. The teachers are from all over the world.

After so long by far one of our favorite teachers has become DavidJi from Los Angeles, CA. He offers a number of courses and we have taken three of the four of them that he offers on the Insight Timer. Mark and I dove into The 40 Days of Transformation where he guided us through meditations, intention setting, yoga philosophy, pranayama and so much more.

We were hooked after completing the forty days and followed it up with his course 30 Day Journey to Rebirth. We have also done his Awaken The Sacred Power of Shakti this year and plan on taking The Healing Sessions: Freeing Your Soul Through The Second Meditation of the Day.

Early on, we took the Masterclass –Mindfulness and Meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn. This was an extremely helpful class to take which broke down a lot of questions that we had about mediation and ways to do it, what it was all about, etc… Soon after finishing that class I bought Mark and I both proper mediation cushions and pillows to ensure that, as David Ji says “Comfort is Queen and feather your nest” so that you can be still during your mediation practice. It’s amazing the difference the right set up can make which will allow me to sit still and “drop in” to meditation for 30 minutes or more. Sometimes without moving at all. Other times, I may have to stretch a leg to regain circulation.

I have found that this new habit is addictive and I will do what I need to protect my precious time to sit on the cushion, although sometimes I will be laying down, using on my acupressure mat or on some ice packs for the time. It has opened a door up to so many other doors. Mark and I find ourselves exploring Buddhism, Taoism, Collective Consciousness just to begin with.

I have learned a few things about myself and what I am capable of. I have found that I have a calmness within that I am able to tap into when things around me start to get crazy. Mark and I have started to introduce Tai Chi into our lives. Although it is not a daily practice yet but that is our goal to incorporate it into our daily practice. I look forward to this continued journey of discovery.

Namaste.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

It’s been unseasonably warm these last few weeks and some of the dandelions have popped up in the yard. Boomer took time out to join me to stop and smell the flowers; something our busy, hectic lives can make difficult at times. This week, I made an effort to get outside and enjoy the nice warm temperatures. I sat out and sunned myself while listening to one of my audiobooks. I sat outside and groomed the dogs, so I wouldn’t have to vacuum the fur up in the house. Besides it’s been in the mid 70s for the last 6 days, record breaking temperatures for Central New Hampshire. I unbelievably was stung by a bald faced hornet on November 9th – my left index finger has been inchy ever since and I have had to pop Benadryl every 4 to 6 hours. But it’s been a glorious few days of weather which I know will end very soon and we will be in for our long, cold, winter.

Meditation

For the last five years or so, we have been trying to get in the habit of mediating. We’d be on a roll for a while and then something would interrupt our flow and we wouldn’t mediate, then we’d try again but never been able to make it stick.

This year has been different, in more ways than one. We’ve been meditating on a fairly regular basis this year. The quarantine kicked it into high gear, and we are on a regular roll. I found mediating particularly helpful in early March when the shit was hitting the fan for our family in more ways than the lockdown and COVID19. Our family was dealing with some personal stuff which highlighted to me how life continued despite the quarantine. I found that there were more moments where I started to feel panicky, the anxiety levels were entering uncharted territory. Mark and I weren’t able to be together for three weeks (one week away, two weeks in quarantine) – away from me and the kids. He’d been out in the Petri dish, we had to be cautious.

It was during this time that I clung to my meditation sessions although I had altered when I did them. Mark and I always start our day out with mediation but during that time we were separated I needed to mediate at night when I was alone in our bed. I never have trouble sleeping – it drives Mark insane since I can fall asleep in the midsentence while talking to him in bed at night. He needs to read and unwind. My head hits the pillow and I’m out cold. By 8pm. I wake anytime between 4am and 5am usually though.

But in mid-March when everything was so uncertain, I needed help falling asleep as my mind would race with all sorts of thoughts. I turned to my mediation app which I knew had nighttime, help you fall asleep mediations. I need guidance to help settle my mind.

The app we use, Insight Timer has all sorts of meditations that you can easily filter the length of time, whether you want background music or not, whether you prefer a male or a female voice, the benefits you seek, etc…They also offer courses and after over a year of using the app, we have decided to give a try. Later this morning we will do Day 8 of our 10-day course, each day has been building upon the next; teaching us how to body scan and different visualization techniques. It also keeps track of how much we’ve mediated and rewards us with milestones that help encourage you on your progress. Since using the app, I’ve meditated for a total of 2.5k minutes and reached 7 milestones. One of which is 128 days with at least one session and another being that I have meditated 23 consecutive days. I believe that is a record for me. As I said doing it everyday in the beginning was the challenge as we worked towards working it into our routine.

Since Mark has been out of quarantine, we have gone back to our usual morning sessions. My daughter would join us in the mornings when she was here – sometimes coming downstairs to sit with us in the family room while we meditated, other times simply joining in from her bedroom upstairs as she would sometimes wake up to our sessions. I’d love to get my son more involved as I know it would be a good habit for him to get into. He was usually sound asleep when we meditated. We have found our sweet spot to be around 7am before 8am when the phone starts to ring and we start off our work day. We work from home, so we have control over the schedule but have found it best to get things started earlier than latter here in the homestead.

Life is always about having to deal with unknowns, they just aren’t usually on the intensity level that they have been recently. Life will always throw you curve balls and you just try to deal with them a pitch at a time. The mediation sessions have helped me deal with each pitch, by helping me to take a step back, take a deep breath and calm my mind and my body which has allowed me to take on the challenges of life a little more effectively.

Looking for the Silver Lining

What is the one thing in life that you are most excited about right now? Why?

That is Fandango’s Provocative Question for the day. Interesting that I read this right question right now since I’ve been a little sad today so it’s a good time to be looking for things to get excited about.

I have much to be excited about as I look around. I have my garden which I planted alongside my daughter who I got to spend time with for ten weeks during quarantine. Sorry for the reason, but so thankful for the time with her. The garden should provide plenty of healthy, fresh produce for me and my family if we have a good season. I need it too since having my two adult children live under the same roof again depleted our rations of canned tomato sauce and salsa a little more than twice as much if it had been just Mark and I. But it made me smile each and every time they opened a jar of our homegrown goodness and raved about how good it taste.

I’m excited to work in the garden and be outside with the sun shining and even if it’s not. After a number of months being cooped up inside because the weather was too miserable to enjoy being outside for any given time, I’m not too picky about when is a good time to spend out in the garden. Just as long as there aren’t too many bugs and it’s not too hot. My garden has fantastic sunlight so I have to pick and choose my hours which tend to be early in the morning and after 5pm.

I’m excited about the new chickens we have now! Khaleesi, Gertrude, Ethel and Lucy have joined our homestead. It’s always a thrill to walk into the hen house and see the daily deposit of freshly laid eggs. Which in turn has made us excited about breakfast and any recipe that has eggs in it. I get excited now to do the weeding since the hens love the dandelions and eat them right up, it no longer feels like weeding and more like harvesting. I know human enjoy eating dandelion leaves in salads and making tea or wine but until now they were just weeds. So I’m excited about that – it goes for all weeds pretty much too. Plus the chickens are so much fun to watch they make me excited to just come out to the yard and sit and watch.

Finally I am excited about the flowers which are beginning to bloom and I know will blooming throughout the summer and into the fall. I have a short season up here on the mountain, so I am grateful for the time we are given and excited to see it all unfold.

It can be difficult to get excited about the future when we are dealing with so many unknowns. But it’s in times like these where you need to take a deep breath, take a step back and look for the good things, they don’t have to be big things, just small positives. It’s easy to see the negative, especially when you are looking for it. When you are looking for it – that it all you will see. It’s harder to look for the positives, the good things – not matter how big or small they may be. But once you start to look for the positives, I thik they become easier to see.

Quarantine Questions For A Calm Mind — Daphsam Photography & Art

Every day, more news comes out and you wonder, “When will it get better?” We have hard times ahead and it can get very overwhelming. Here are a few Quarantine Questions for you to ask yourself in the days, weeks, hopefully not months ahead. 1. What am I grateful for today? 2. How […]

Quarantine Questions For A Calm Mind — Daphsam Photography & Art

Quest

During our lifetime, we are all on some sort of quest or another. A search for something. From the time we are born our very first quest begins, the quest for knowledge. What’s this? What’s that? What does this taste like? What does this mean? What does that mean?

The word ‘quest’ originates, according to Dictionary.com, back 1275-1325 Middle English. It was a derivation from the Old French word ‘quester’ which emerged from the Latin ‘quaerere’, meaning ‘to seek’. We are constantly seeking something.

There have been quests undertaken by mankind throughout our short history. From the knights and their quest for the Holy Grail to the men and women of NASA who successfully achieved their quest to explore our moon. Their successors continuing to explore further into our expanding universe in that ultimate and never ending quest for knowledge that we all have to know what’s out there and are we alone.

We are curious beings. We want to know more about everything. Our thirst for knowledge unquenched is one of our most powerful quests constantly driving us.

Life can be difficult. We are all on a roller coaster which we don’t control the steep highs and lows and velocity of speed at which things are thrown at us. We just have to hold on. Some people like to have their eyes open – others shut tight. I keep mine open – WIDE OPEN. Trying to see what’s coming ahead so I can prepare myself somehow. The quest for control as powerful the one for knowledge. The two go hand in hand, knowledge is power and power helps give you control.

A few years ago we moved from living in Connecticut full time to living in New Hampshire. A huge change in our daily lives, it was the perfectly timed step back we needed in our lives. To some it seemed sudden, but I had started a new quest quietly online two and half years before we made the actual move. Almost daily would take out my iPad and scour Realtor.com searching for our next step home. Vermont? Maine? New Hampshire? I researched and read about this town and that town, loving every minute of the journey to what ultimately would be my dream. I just had no idea at the time what that actually looked like or where that would be.

Another quest I have been on that any others are also on, is one that will give me not only knowledge but some control as well. My quest is that of being able to achieve a calmness within myself. We live in a chaotic world and there is so much that we can not control that it can get overwhelming at times. Whether it’s your kids having a problem that you are trying to help them overcome or suddenly facing a global pandemic which threatens the lives of every individual on the planet. Life can be very scary at times. Thus my quest to learn the ability to achieve a state of calmness in the face of a storm. This is an ongoing quest which I feel will probably be a lifelong one as well. I have picked up certain tools in my arsenal which have helped my along my journey and I will continue to keep my eyes wide open for more to help me further me in my quest to help me reach my ultimate goal – inner peace.

This is my entry for the Word of the Day Challenge March 14th, 2020.