Mindfulness is being in the present moment in an open and friendly way. It's both mind-training and heart-training.You can start right where you are.
When we reflect on our day, it’s often negative events that stick in our minds—the undone tasks, mistakes, or criticisms—because the human brain has a negativity bias. When I first heard this, I felt relief: Phew, it’s not just me! A negativity bias is baked into us through evolution.
I’m humbled when I volunteer in prison. On Sunday, I felt beleaguered: too much to do, not enough time. Essentially, the “me” channel was loud and voracious. I was a big deal in my mind (though not a big deal in the world). I’d lost touch with gratitude and perspective.
Often, a new year brings resolutions. Yet meaningful change rarely comes from rigid rules. There’s no requirement to enter 2019 with a self-improvement list. Interestingly, when we accept ourselves just as we are, we’re able to make important changes. And these changes must come from within.
Winter Solstice is a natural time for contemplation and reflection. It’s a more powerful transition than the flip of the calendar year. For months, the days become shorter. Darkness descends as an invitation to rest and nourish. The primal parts of us lean into hibernation. We stock our pantries, make soup, wrap in blankets, and get more sleep. We slow the pace and turn inward.
As many of you know, I volunteer 10 hours a week in prison, teaching meditation and mindfulness; bearing witness to deep suffering and powerful insight; widening my circle of compassion and understanding.
We play many roles in our lives. These roles and identities affect us in deep ways. Some nourish and fulfill, others drain and frustrate, and some feel neutral. It's helpful to understand the wide variety of roles we play and their impact on our physical, mental, and emotional life.
I share my photographs on Flickr, which was my first encounter with social media. I joined back when it was old school: Not flashy, just plain ole’ photography and rich friendships. A place to learn, share, and be inspired. Even though the format has changed, I still enjoy my Flickr community.
We often look externally for evidence that we’re lovable, okay, and worthy; that we belong. Another path is to look inward. Instead of distracting, busying, or analyzing, we sit down with ourselves and practice kindness.
Yesterday, I had 4 meaningful pastoral visits at Oshkosh Correctional. During these visits, I listen, ask questions, mirror back goodness (the many ways each prisoner’s practice inspires me), and encourage new areas of growth.
Today, I stood with my FREE HUGS sign outside the neighborhood polling place. I was there between 11:30 and 2 in the cold drizzle. Hands numb, heart warm. At first, I was nervous; at the end, I didn’t want to leave.