Daily Gifts

Each day has such potential and so many opportunities to give and receive. Just yesterday, I sat in my favorite meditation chair at the beginning of the day to remind myself to be open to whatever the day might hold. Then, I went for a short walk.

I cut the walk short in order to make my weekly yoga class. I tell you this because it means I didn’t take my normal daily walking route. Instead, the final leg that day took me up a dead-end street perpendicular to my backyard. My neighbor was just coming out of her house.

“Do you want some peonies?” she asked.

I said “Sure!” not really knowing if it was plants or flowers she was offering.

She opened the passenger side door of her SUV, reached in, and produced a beautiful bunch of pink peonies. It was like a jar of sunshine! I finished my walk with a big smile on my face (and a bouquet of peonies in my hands).

So, whether you’re the giver or the recipient, remember that each day has its gifts. You just need to get out of bed and maybe even step out of your door. 🙂


Meditation—There’s An App For That!

Meditation is not new; it’s been practiced for thousands of years. But everything old is new again when you do it for the first time—or in a new way.

I just came from my local library where I learned about an app called Insight Timer. Brad, the technology librarian, introduced some basic tenets of meditation (posture & setting) and then invited us into a fifteen minute meditation using the app. I was sold.

Meditation isn’t new for me. Back in college, I tried centering prayer, a contemplative practice of returning over and over again to a place of inner stillness. More recently, I’ve tried some guided meditations from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s books on the power of the mind and epigenetics. Most days, I try to begin with some form of purposeful prayer and/or meditation. But using an app is a new twist.

The beauty of Insight Timer is in its levels of complexity. It’s a timer. That alone is helpful when you’re squeezing in your meditation before you leave for work or between appointments or just to keep you from checking your watch. It also provides a variety of ambient sounds and music tracks to help block out auditory distractions. You can choose beginning, intermittent, and ending bells and gongs to suit your tastes. And even add time at the end of a meditation if you’re not ready to stop when the bell chimes.

If you don’t know where to start or if you’re looking for something different or specific, there are guided meditations. Plenty of them. I saw one that lasted only three minutes. Others were listed for fifty minutes or more. You can pay a fee and download them. Or you can use the app for free. It looks like there’s plenty to explore. And now that I’ve downloaded the app, I intend to do just that.

For those who crave the dopamine hits, Insight Timer will keep track of how long and how many days you meditate. You get stars for reaching milestones. And you can even connect with others who’re using the app: social media meets the inner sanctum.

So, why not give it a try? Maybe the age-old practice of meditation can be new again — for you! 🙂


About the Journey . . .

If you’re like me, you spend a good deal of time trying to get somewhere. Lots of somewheres, probably. Trying to get to work early. Gunning to get home again. Getting to that dentist appointment on time. Rushing to the grocery store for a few things. Errands, club meetings, committees, activities. Always someplace to go. Someplace to be.

But the more time I spend on the road, the more I’m coming to see that these commutes from one place to another are not parentheses in my life. They’re not filler. Not the in-between-the-real-stuff stuff. Rather, they’re just as much a part of life as the destinations.

Think about it. What if it’s not where we’re heading, but where we are, and who we are, at that moment in time when traffic is crawling and the clock is ticking, that are important? What if it matters how we act and react on that journey? What if those impersonal cars and trucks were being driven by other human beings on their own journeys? I’m saying “what if”, but you know what I’m really saying, don’t you? We’ve forgotten about patience and what it can teach us. We’ve forgotten how to be while we wait in traffic or sit in a waiting room or stand in a checkout line. And we (I) need to remind ourselves (myself) to see these moments as the stuff of life, maybe as a test of character, definitely as the real journey. And sometimes life will even use these moments to surprise us.

Hey! It’s Your Body Talkin’ . . .

As I sit at my keyboard with an icepack numbing my upper arm, I reflect on the curious idea that we spend so much of our lives ignoring our bodies’ gentle communications. We don’t pay attention until they scream at us. And then we have the audacity to blame them for getting old!

You know the joke:

“Dr., Dr., it hurts when I do this!”
“Then, stop doing it!”

Well, it’s no joke. My own doctors and physical therapists have said it to me many times in the past couple of years. I’ve been dealing with shoulder issues (rotator cuff tears, frozen shoulder, bursitis). No surgery, just lots of office visits where I’ve been told to go easy on myself. Healing takes time. And it requires learning to listen to your body. Right? But we resist. We grow impatient. Why? Because we operate under the impression that we shouldn’t have limitations. That life should be fair. That our bodies should be perfect (if not in looks, then at least in health 😉 ). And we complain when they’re not. Like someone’s made a huge mistake inflicting us with injury and disease.

But that’s real life. Messy, constantly challenging, stressful. And each of our unique bodies has its own way of acting, reacting, adapting, and coping. If we pay attention, we notice subtle cues from our own bodies that can lead us to cooperate with, instead of hinder, their healing abilities. Even in the middle of debilitating illness or injury, we can work with or we can fight the process. One path requires patience, perseverance, and awareness. The other path is easier in the short term: impatience and ignorance. But this way doesn’t bode well in the long run.

So, after scraping, chopping, and shoveling a few crusty inches of snow out of my driveway — mostly using my good arm, of course — for over an hour, I’m dutifully icing my shoulder. And hoping my body appreciates the attention. 🙂