Mastering Silence

There is so much noise in our daily lives that silence is almost unknown. When I worked for the church I would occasionally ask people to sit in silence for one minute. I actually timed it and after 30 seconds the fidgeting would begin.

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There is not only no silence on the outside but there is little silence on the inside. Most of us have not learned how to shut off the voice in our heads. Since we have been so little exposed to quieting that voice it requires time and effort to learn how to do it. We decide that we want to try meditation and we can’t seem to settle and so we quit. It really is difficult to meditate in the beginning on your own. It is so much easier if there is a voice directing you. There are many Amazon Alexa apps that will take you through a meditation but even those aren’t always enough.

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The best meditation I ever did was in a group with someone walking you quietly through the process. A really good leader can help you explore more depths that almost any other way. I have not found many meditation experiences except in yoga classes and most of them don’t meditate long enough for you to get into the place where you can let everything go.

I am hoping to start a group but I don’t know if I will have any takers. It remains to be seen.

The Knit Wits

My friend and I have started an knit/crochet group meeting at a local coffee shop/restaurant. We have been meeting for quite a while but the group has suddenly begun to grow. It seems that we are gaining women who enjoy creating something beautiful while spending time with others. No phones, no media, just us. Since this meets at about 11:00 am we don’t have a lot of young women who can come but there are some young moms who stay at home with children who may want to join. I hope this happens. It will be a wonderful opportunity to share our old ideas and learn new ones.

The atmosphere of the place engenders pleasure and calm. It is like being in one’s home without having to clean and cook. This is an oasis on the islands where we live. There are sofas and lounge chairs where you can just chill. I love this place. The Friendship Coffee Company

Balance

This has been the calmest week (so far) that I have had in a long time. The peace is wonderful. I know that it won’t last but this time has refreshed me. I didn’t plan for calm but it just happened. Maybe because the week was so ordinary.

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I don’t know if chaos just comes naturally or I help it to appear. It is so easy to take on more than I can handle and end up depleted at the end of the week. I did travel in May and had company (family) in July so maybe this is the kick back time from that.

I know that this won’t continue since we will have our bathroom torn up in the near future. We don’t have a start date yet but I think it will be soon. Just having to move everything out of that bathroom and put it elsewhere will be a challenge. Maybe it will help me to clean out more cabinets and not put so much stuff back. That is the positive side.

change-aversion-conflicted-user-leadMost of us don’t like change. In this case change will be good but the process will be excruciating. We have another bath but it away from our closets. I have realized that I will have to sleep elsewhere unless I want to rise at O’dark thirty every day. No and no!

 

As a nurse I learned that there is stress related to good things. Think about the stress of a wedding or the birth of a baby. This is called “eustress” and can be energizing but it can be anxiety producing as well. It depends on how we use it. good changeI will have to work to maintain a regular schedule and life pattern so that I don’t slip off into anxiety. I have been better with the things I need to do lately so I plan to keep on. Wish me luck!

Music, music, music

Music is very important to me. I took piano lessons for years and studied with a concert pianist. It was there I discovered that I didn’t want to be a concert pianist. I just wanted to play for enjoyment. I sang in choirs and for 10 years was a choir director. I think that music moves me more than anything else. I can sit in church or in the car or wherever and find tears rolling down my cheeks. Once, spending three weeks in the hospital, only the Brandenburg Concerto would comfort me. This has a wonderful explanation at the beginning.

I cannot stay still when the rhythms of music move me. I have to tap my toes or move my hands. I MUST do something! I don’t understand people who sit perfectly still. I know that their enjoyment may be equal to mine but they are STILL!

My father was the same way. He loved Dixieland Jazz and took me with to bars as a child to listen to the greats. No one said anything. I think they knew he wasn’t plying me with liquor but with music.

There is so much wonderful music in the world. I know I will not live long enough to absorb it all. I want to develop a playlist for when I am fading out of this world. I want to hear the music I love and take it with me.

Finding the center

This week I have been on a bread baking binge. I’m not sure why but there is something therapeutic about it. I don’t use a mixer with a dough hook so I spend time folding the dough. It feels so good in your hands and gets rid of any frustration. I continually learn how to make different and better breads.

I made sourdough with garlic and rosemary, a normal white bread and a breakfast bread with brown sugar and cinnamon on top. I won’t eat all of these but will share them with friends and neighbors.

breakfast bread

It is a process learning what things give you satisfaction and peace. I do love baking but don’t need to be eating all of it. I am also not interested in making things to sell. I just enjoy the process.

I have been working at doing the things I need to do to maintain my peace of mind. Things happen always but we can get through if we have developed habits that help us. The past week have been trying on several levels but I am moving one.

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Persistence is, for me, the most important thing. I can be such a procrastinator…putting things off and not doing what I should. It is so much easier to find something distracting…like watching the Great British Baking Show….than meditating. But if I don’t I suffer for it.

Keeping on track is so important. Keep working at it!

Controlling thoughts

Life is uncertain; in the end we control only a single thing: our own thoughts. From the book “Pandemic”

While reading the book this jumped out at me. It is so true. There is very little that we can control and sometimes we have trouble controlling our thoughts. And yet, it is one of the things we most need to learn. Our thoughts can take us on a wonderful journey or send us into the deepest depths.

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For those who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar etc. it transpires daily. Our thoughts control how we feel. Sometimes the problem can begin with a trigger such as stress caused by the life we deal with or by physical issues such as IBS. Whatever sets off the thoughts can bring us down in a minute.

Most of the coping mechanisms we learn have to do with changing those thoughts. If only it were easy. We can learn the coping skills but we have to use them for them to work. This means making them become habits and that is the hard part.

calm yourselfWhatever helps you to override the thoughts that bring you down work hard to have it become natural as breathing. It is a struggle but one that is worth the effort.

 

Never give up on finding and using what helps you calm those errant thoughts!

Do they know how to fix it?

Technology is wonderful….until it isn’t. The more complex it gets the more can go wrong. I have spent three days trying to resolve a problem with my cable, phone, internet, provider. Their system has become so complex that even the people who work for them don’t know what is going on.

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The first person I dealt with was in the store. A very nice person who admitted that so much had been changed with their offerings that he was unsure about what channels were available with each plan. My husband was adamant about having certain channels and we were assured that they would be there. You guessed it…they weren’t. I had a very unhappy husband when he turned the TV on.

Next I got on a chat session with another agent who assured me that adding one premium channel would fix the problem. Ha! Didn’t happen.

The next morning I again chatted with an agent. In the meantime I had spent time on the web site searching for quite a while to access the channel line up so that I knew what had to be done. I told the agent what was necessary to fix the issue. He agreed but then wanted me to sign up for home security. The total would be less that I am paying now. Because of that I agreed. He made the changes and guess what? Still no channels!

This morning I again tackled the problem with another agent on chat and wrote out step by step what I wanted done. I didn’t give him a chance to decide. By this time I could work for the company. Finally what I needed was taken care of and we are all set.

It is amazing that things have become so complicated that even the people who work with them don’t know what is going on or how to fix things. I am reasonably tech savvy and wanted to just do the fixing for them.

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My level of frustration was high after all of this and I took to gardening to reach a level of calm. Potting plants can sure remove tension!

Accomplishing Comfort

Today I am baking sourdough bread. This bread became a staple for the miners who sought their fortune in the gold fields. In truth, history tells us it is an ancient bread. In order to make it you first have to have sourdough starter. I made mine from bread and water and time.

Making this bread is a process and depending on how you do it can take days. You are not working at it constantly but just doing things to the dough over time. It is a lesson in patience. It teaches that work and patience can create wonderful things.

sourdough bread
my sourdough bread

I always make bread by hand as there is something earthy and soothing about getting you hands into the dough. There is a delicious aroma and the dough is stretchy, smooth and pliable. The motion of kneading is soothing. It brings calm with a sense of accomplishment.

I love baking all kinds of bread. The bread is wonderful and the house has a comforting smell. Maybe like grandmother’s kitchen.

It is said that we should eat less carbohydrates. I guess I will have to stay away from others because bread will never be gone from my home.

Evaluating the journey

Looking over some of my original posts reminds me to take stock of how I am doing on my journey. Changing ourselves is one of the hardest things that we can do. We have to begin the change and then repeat it util it becomes habit. Not so easy.

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We struggle with the habits that are ingrained from years of practice. Once we begin trying to change it is so easy to fall back into the old routine. Since I began this journey I have made some positive changes that have stuck and some that have not.

My task now it to evaluate and decide if the things I haven’t changed are still relevant. If so it is time to tackle them. I find it easier to make small changes that lead me to the bigger one.

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I have not been meditating as I should and this is one I will tackle with intent. Why should I consider 5 or 10 minutes out of my day as a problem. From there I hope to grow back into a routine discarded years ago and see the result of spending time in “neutral.” As I said once before my long ago yoga instructor said when we are awake we are in forward gear, asleep in reverse and in meditation in neutral. Routinely meditating brought me calm and a sense of connection to the universe. I want to regain that.

Changing is hard and not for sissies. I won’t give up but keep on keeping on.

May you each have a serene weekend.

Life has stages

Western society is a “first-half-of-life” culture, largely concerned about surviving successfully. Richard Rohr

Some of the Eastern cultures understand that life has stages. The Hindus see a learning/student stage, a family/work stage, a retirement/spiritual exploration stage and an enlightenment stage.

This kind of thinking is also present in Buddhism and other cultures. We seem to get stuck in the beginning stages and have no understanding of how we need to live the “second half of life.”

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In the first half of our life we are learning and absorbing things. It is as if we are creating a receptacle in which to live. The second part of life should be about putting things in the receptacle. This means understanding the world around us from a deeper perspective. Filling ourselves up with the meaning of life and understanding what is important. This leads to a deep fulfillment and sense of purpose.

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Experience the first part of life with everything you have. Learn, grow, love but don’t skip the next part which will bring you to a place of peace.