Selfish Saturday: The Waffler is out

keepoutcomebacklaterYesterday I had to attend my son’s end-of-year picnic; he was very disappointed last year, when I didn’t. I should have passed again. The 27-degree, 100%-humidity weather made me feel like a steamed dumpling even first thing in the morning, and had given me a raging case of heatstroke by the end of the day. Let’s say it hasn’t been a fun 30-odd hours.

I can have a lot of odd thoughts when physically incapacitated… odd, but generally good. And this time I decided to break out of my rut over the holidays. I usually dread them, because they tend to mess up the regular things I want to do. Maybe giving up some of those regular things will help me enjoy myself more.

Long story short, the Waffle’s regular columns are going away for the summer. There will be bites from DailyOM to keep the mind alert, but all the books, music, food and art can wait for order to reassert itself. If all goes according to plan, regular activity will resume on September 4. Take 45 and enjoy!

Creating Your Family’s Reality

Family planning generally encompasses questions about when to have our children and how to be financially prepared for the future, but it can also include questions that are more creative and visionary for your family. For example, you might consider and plan on what qualities you would most like to emphasize and develop, and which experiences you would like to place the most value on, within your family unit. One of evolution’s greatest gifts is the gift of experience, which teaches us what worked in our own families of origin and what did not. This information will be exceedingly valuable in envisioning our own family’s ethos.

Perhaps you feel that the world needs more people who are practiced and capable in the art of generosity. With this in mind, you might develop a family tradition of setting one day aside each month to give to the people around you. This could be as simple as making extra portions of a delicious soup, or many loaves of bread, and bringing them to friends and neighbors. Most children love the act of giving, and allowing them to be the ones to present the food will make them very happy. It will also give them positive memories and set a lifelong pattern of generosity. On a larger scale, you may decide that travel and education are your family priorities, and design your lifestyle to suit that philosophy by traveling extensively or living abroad. On the other hand, you may decide that putting down solid roots and building community means the most to you and your children, choosing to spend most of your energy and resources in one chosen spot.

The act of determining what you value most and how you will pass that on to your children is both empowering and creative. As your family grows and your children have ideas of their own, you can incorporate them into the process. In this way, you fulfill the additional purpose of teaching your children how to envision and create their own reality. Most of all, they will learn that life is rich with potential and that expressing their deepest values empowers them to create a life that will be of benefit to the whole world.

DailyOM

The Ultimate Authority

To a certain degree, we rely on other people’s accounts of reality to inform us of the nature of the universe. For example, we can’t all be molecular physicists, but we can benefit from taking their findings to heart. In the same way, we often look to teachers, various leaders, and gurus to tell us about the path to enlightenment and the nature of the realm of spirit. While this input from experts is undeniably valuable, our own sense of the truth is ultimately the most important piece in processing the information we take in from external sources. In the end, we are the authorities in our own lives, and we have the final say on whether something generally held as true is true for us.

We need only take a brief look at history to remember that the religious, scientific, and political establishments that ruled the day were all wrong about something at some point in time. This is the beauty of learning, experiencing, and evolving. While we sometimes wish we could just let someone else decide for us what is real and true, this is clearly not a viable option. The good news in all this is that we can confidently devote ourselves to making up our own minds about reality, taking everything that is handed to us as truth with a grain of salt.

This does not mean that we discount the information we receive from outside sources. It simply means that we are vigilant enough to question it before we decide whether or not we agree with it. All the information we receive is useful in the process of helping us make up our own minds. As we allow ourselves to sit with the things we learn, measuring them alongside our own inner sense of the truth and our own experiences, we find that making up our minds is a joyful process of integration that grows us into stronger, smarter, more engaged human beings.

DailyOM

Short Getaways

We tend to think of a vacation as something that requires an enormous amount of preparation, but small daylong excursions can be just as refreshing and fulfilling as their lengthier counterparts. A short drive can be the channel that transports you into a world of novel experiences and blissful relaxation. Solo day trips can be a wonderful way to unwind from the stresses of routine existence while simultaneously feeding the soul. And when you choose to share your day trip with someone you care about, a leisurely drive becomes a chance to talk about childhood, recall favorite songs, or simply spend time enjoying one another’s presence.

You may be surprised to see how many day-trip possibilities exist within a mere hour’s time from your home. Forests, beaches, lakes, mountains, rivers, and deserts can serve as the perfect spot for a minivacation. The physical and mental rejuvenation you experience in an unfamiliar and engaging setting are enhanced by meditation, journaling, deep breathing, or just being still with nature. Though the cost of gasoline can make taking a day trip seem frivolous, and our commitment to environmental well-being may cause us to hesitate before utilizing our cars in this manner, there are numerous ways we can effectively offset our carbon signature while still seeing to the needs of ourselves on a soul level.

Since day trips tend to require much smaller investments of time and money than traditional outings, you can enjoy a diverse range of experiences day by day. On one weekend, you may be motivated by a need to connect with your natural heritage to explore a vast state park or nature preserve. On another, your curiosity can inspire you to visit a historical site that has long piqued your interest. In the end, where you go will often be less important than your willingness to broaden your horizons by removing yourself from the environment already so familiar to you. Each minigetaway you take will imbue your existence with a sensation of renewal that prepares you for whatever lies ahead.

DailyOM

Our Evolving Language

There are many troubling phrases in our language that we use without considering their full meaning simply because they have been accepted into common knowledge. Even as our ideals progress, our language maintains some phrases from our past that no longer serve us, for example: Boys don’t cry; good child; boys will be boys; problem child; illegitimate child; and many more. While these phrases may be used without harmful intent, they are inherently negative. Children can be especially sensitive to such phrases, which may stay with them their whole lives, adversely affecting their self-image and wounding their self-esteem. We can create positive change by choosing not to use these words and phrases as we come across them in our vocabulary.

It is challenging to examine our habits in terms of the words we use to express ourselves, but it is also exciting. Language is an area where we can exercise our free will, creating positive change in the world around us by simply choosing carefully the words we use. It may seem like a small thing, but our words have a rippling effect, like a stone thrown in a pond. People naturally pick up on the way other people speak, consciously or unconsciously changing the way they speak in response. We don’t need to actively try to influence people; it happens without our even thinking about it. All we have to do is choose to be more conscious ourselves, putting to rest words and phrases that are outmoded, insensitive, or harmful. We can also exercise our creativity by creating new phrases that carry positive and loving energy to replace the old ones.

You may already have some ideas about phrases you’d like to transition out of your language, and now that you’re thinking about it you may come across many more. As you consciously decide not to use these phrases, you may feel lighter and more joyful, knowing that you have chosen to drop baggage that was handed down to you from a less conscious time. As you do so, you elevate the language for future generations who would no doubt thank you if they could.

DailyOM

Open Heart

Spiritual teachers have always pointed to the heart as the seat of consciousness, and recently Western science has found evidence to support this realization. It turns out that the heart has its own central nervous system and is not simply under the rule of the brain as formerly believed. Anyone who has taken the time to explore the heart knows this and, more important, has realized that the heart is the source of our connection to a consciousness greater than the ego. Approaching life with an open heart means that we have opened the door to this greater consciousness, taking up residence alongside it in the seat of our soul. Fortunately, at this time there is a lot of support for this shift energetically as well as practically. To some degree, approaching life with an open heart is as simple as shifting your attention onto your heart.

Eventually you will be able do this any time, any place, but at first it may help to try it in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Simply sit with your eyes closed and draw your breath into your heart. As your breath expands your chest cavity, your heart expands and opens. You may feel tenderness or sadness in your heart, and you may also feel relief. Any emotions that arise can be effectively witnessed and healed through the meditation process, which benefits both your physical heart and your energetic heart. The more you practice, the more you will find your heart opening to your own presence and to all the situations your life brings.

When we open our hearts, they may feel tender and vulnerable, which simply means that they need our loving attention as we cleanse and heal them of past hurts and blockages. This process asks us to practice some of the heart’s greatest lessons—patience, compassion, and unconditional love. On the other hand, we may take up residence as effortlessly as a bird returns to its nest. Either way, approaching life with an open heart simply means returning to our true home.

DailyOM


Month at a Glance

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