MindfulVision

My tribute to life with all its curiosities and miracles


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…Only to find out…

My blogging has suffered lately. I am sorry MindfulVision yet again for not giving you the attention you deserve. There are always a million reasons to not find time. The truth is if I’m not motivated I will always find an excuse to procrastinate. So in this case apparently I wasn’t motivated to write because otherwise I would have. But why? Sure there are many many things on my mind and even more to take care of but in the past 30-something years that has never stopped me from doing the things I care about and love. I love my blog. I care for it. So what was keeping me?

I had given this question some thought in the past weeks without receiving an answer. Until just now, sitting in a Munich hospital waiting to see a doctor because of some allergic reaction. Nothing serious – I hope – but bad enough to give up on my usual self-medication strategy for now.

So here I am sitting in the waiting room with at least 50 other people (who by the way were all here before me). I’ve been here for 2 hours already and probably it will take at least another 2 until I get to see a doctor. I didn’t have coffee this morning so guess how excited I was to see the vending machine here… I walked towards it smiling… only to find out that I had given my last spare change to a needy man on my way to the hospital. There was a little reception booth and I asked the receptionist where I could get change (or coffee). The reception didn’t have change but she sent me to the cafeteria. I had plenty of time so went there … only to find out it was closed.

I gave up and walked back to the waiting room and figured sooner or later I will find coffee or maybe I can get some change from my fellow “waiters”. On my way I passed the nice lady again and she asked if I got my change. I told her that they were closed and gave her my friendly disappointed look. I was already half way back to the waiting room when she shouted: “Wait, maybe I can help you out.” She checked for her wallet… Only to find out that she had left it in her locker in the basement.

Now she gave me HER friendly disappointed look. I told her it wasn’t that big of a deal and was just about to leave when her face changed to friendly excited. “I’ll just go and grab it if you got a moment!” and off she was…returned with her wallet and checked it…only to find out that she only had €5 in change, which was exactly what I needed!!!

I was thrilled! Not just about the prospect of coffee but also about this lady’s natural willingness to help me out even with something that wasn’t life threatening or crucial at all – although in my eyes coffee comes pretty close to either one :) Anyway back to my point. I told her how nice this was and how much I appreciate it. And all she said was: “If I’m able to help, I just do.” It’s as simple as that! And it’s people like this lady who contribute to making this a better place. And this is when I knew I wanted to share this story with you.

Sometimes the small and random things are way more important than the extraordinary and planned ones. And here is where my little thought circle comes to a close. I didn’t write lately because I thought I had nothing big to share. And in the meantime I forgot how precious and valuable the little and random encounters are. So here I am still sitting in the waiting room typing up this post on my phone … Only to find out that this is what MindfulVison has been about from day one!

Thank you kind receptionist at the hospital. For helping me get some coffee but also for reminding me not only of my blog’s purpose but also of the incredible joy and power of random acts of kindness!

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Sadhu Saturday

I love meditating! Do I ever get bored while doing it? No, never! Do I ever feel like getting up before the bell? Oh yes! But whenever I am tempted to do so it indicates an insight of some kind: an instant flash of clarity, a sudden thought that provides a missing link or an idea that is so inspiring that I want to start working on it right away. Resisting, however, is the real meditation challenge.

When I started meditating I thought the ultimate goal was to clear my mind of all thoughts while sitting. I tried. I tried hard. And I got frustrated with myself many many times. Today, a little over 2 years later, I still don’t manage to clear out my mind. But I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter so I adjusted my goal from “Clear out all thoughts NOW” to “Be aware of any thoughts, feelings and emotions that show up”. Nothing more, nothing less. Be aware, don’t judge, don’t engage and let them pass. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’ve also come to accept that and I rarely throw angry meditation fits anymore :)

In case you wonder how all this is related to Sadhu Saturday bear with me for a minute. Sadhu Saturday was actually one of the inspiring ideas that hit me in my meditation today. In July 2012, I was on a 7 day meditation retreat with Ajahn Brahm. I had no idea who he was at that time and it was a mere coincidence that I stayed at the Zen monastery when he was there for the retreat. I could write an entire book about this retreat but that’s not the point here. In a nutshell: That retreat changed my life! Ajahn Brahm is an incredible person and teacher and these 7 days of meditation, talks and Q&A sessions enriched my life in so many ways. And I learned a new word: “Sadhu”, which is Pali and saying it three times is an expression of happiness.

While meditating earlier, memories of this retreat popped up and I remembered that I bought one of Ajahn Brahm’s books, which includes 108 stories for welcoming life’s difficulties. I devoured the book when I first got it and it really helped me to deal with some major difficulties I was facing at the time. As life is currently offering me quite a few opportunities to welcome its difficulties, I figured it can’t hurt to take a look at the book again. I grabbed it from the shelve and randomly opened up a page. I do that a lot with books whenever I am looking for inspiration or “signs” and always open up the right page at the right time. Today the story “The Trial” brought me some valuable insights on anger and forgiveness. It talks about how being angry is like running a trial against a defendant who is not allowed to defend himself. Unjust. But we need this unjust trial to convince ourselves of the wrongdoings of the other, which then justifies our anger. And once we have internal permission we can enjoy our outburst of rage to the fullest. We are furious! We seek revenge! And most of all we are 100% sure that we are right and the other person is wrong. How could he/she! But what if we really asked: How could he/she? If we approach this question with curiosity and non-judgement it might not be so evident anymore who is right and who is wrong. And who’s the judge of that anyway?

I wasn’t angry at all when I opened up the random page earlier. In fact, I had just tweeted even before my meditation that I was feeling extremely calm and peaceful. So when I opened up the story about anger I was questioning whether this was really the right page at the right time. But as my random book flipping served me well in the past I trusted that there is a message for me. And suddenly it triggered a thought: Who’s to judge if resisting the urge to engage with a thought is the real meditation challenge? What if it only serves as my justification to hold on to some of my anger? I am certainly reevaluating my take on that.

“Sadhu Saturday” might turn into a recurring post series, as there are 108 stories and insights to be shared :) Please let me know what you think about that. However, if you don’t want to wait or are looking for instant ways to welcome life’s difficulties, just get the book, do some random page flipping and get curious about the message it has for you. Happy flipping and…

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

English version:

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Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung?
Ajahn Brahm



Deutsche Version:

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Die Kuh, die weinte
Ajahn Brahm


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Contagious Passion

Have you ever met someone who is so passionate about something that this passion literally radiates and lights up an entire room? I was fortunate enough tonight to be in the audience when a great young artist from the US lit up a little coffee shop in Heidelberg with his flying sparks of passion for his music and his dream of a music career. I got to enjoy a wonderful and intimate concert with great music and great company – and when the musician asked to take him home I couldn’t resist…actually as I’m typing this he’s still singing in the other room. Oh no wait, I guess that’s just the CD I took home with me :)

On my way home I recalled something he mentioned while signing CDs: he just got his Italian citizenship. When he was asked why he simply said: “So I get to stay in the EU to promote my music!” And the way he said it sounded like it was the most natural thing to do and just the next logical step. Of course there are people changing and dropping citizenships every day and that’s not my point. I was just so touched by the empowerment and determination that came with the unshakable belief in and longing for his dream. For me this was just living proof of my “mission statement for life”:

Everything is possible! And if you truly want something you will find a way to make it happen because the price you’d be paying for dropping your dream would be so much higher than anything you might have to give up on the way of achieving it! 

Thank you Jake Rathburn for sharing your music and for reminding me of the passionate power of dreams!

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Life is what happens…

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while you are busy making other plans… I’m wondering if John Lennon actually knew how much truth this sentence really holds. At least for me, as there is no better way of putting into words what’s recently going on in my life and also in the lives of many others who are dear and close to me.

When I logged on to my account today I saw in my notifications that MindfulVision turned 1 a few days ago…and I was too busy to remember it myself. I feel terrible for having forgotten my “baby’s” first birthday. Of course I wasn’t planning on buying a cake and gifts anyway but I didn’t want to just let it pass unnoticed either. This blog is important to me and I started it with a clear vision, a mindful one. And here I am a year later too mindless to even pause for a moment to celebrate and remember it’s birth. I apologize to my blog (and to myself) and just put a reminder in my calendar so this won’t happen again.

Okay, but let’s get back to the original topic. There have been many reasons that kept me busy, worried and distracted and required my presence and attention, which eventually led to other people, events and things not receiving the attention they would have deserved (e.g. my blog’s b-day). I don’t want to go into much detail about all the unexpected events and twists and turns. After all I still have that book project on my mind and might use some of the stories for that :) However, I do want to share some of the valuable lessons I learned from them:

  • Family and friends are priceless!
  • I can’t control external factors, people and their reactions. But I can control MY reactions to whatever happens.
  • Always be grateful for what you have right NOW.
  • Just because I currently can’t think of a solution that doesn’t mean there isn’t any.
  • ALWAYS trust your gut feeling!
  • NEVER assume to know what another person might want/think/need.
  • Happiness is possible even in difficult situations.
  • Always be aware of and honor your boundaries, values and needs.
  • Be grateful for LIFE!
  • Sometimes a simple smile makes all the difference.
  • Authentic and compassionate communication is the key.
  • Always speak up if something doesn’t feel right.
  • The truth might hurt – a lot. But holding on to illusions will eventually hurt a lot more!
  • Miracles do happen!

There is no way I could have imagined a year ago what life had in store for me in the past 365 days. And even today I have no clue what’s going to happen a year from today or even tomorrow. But I do know one thing: I will keep making plans. And if life happens to interfere with my plans again, I am prepared to sail with the winds. I survived the storm before and I sure will again! And what’s the fun anyway if I’d know exactly what’s waiting for me next :)

 

 

 


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Snail Mail

photo-8A few weeks ago I went for a walk when this little snail crossed my path. It caught my attention so I figured it had a message for me. At the time I didn’t really know what it was, however, I took a picture as a reminder. Everybody knows that snail mail tends to take its time so I was willing to wait for its message.  And today, at 4:04 AM to be exact, it was finally delivered by Insight Express – and it even came with free shipping :)

At times life can be chaotic, hectic, unpredictable, exhausting and challenging. That’s what I’m currently experiencing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining because although I am facing a lot of challenges I am also learning incredibly valuable life lessons along the way. And one of them is finding my own pace and attitude toward all these challenges, changes and  demands.

As long as I can remember I used to pride myself on being resilient beyond belief. I took on whatever came my way just because I wanted to prove (mostly to myself) that I can do it. Limits and boundaries were an unknown and it didn’t even occur to me why anybody would need them. I don’t remember ever turning down a favor or a task that I was asked for. I wanted to be supportive and I am sure I was but more than anything else I was boosting my ego by taking on everything that came my way. What seemed like one of my biggest strengths at the time turned out to be a weakness in disguise.

I was so busy taking on more and more responsibilities, projects and favors that I forgot to take care of one of my core responsibilities: self-care. Each electronic device needs frequent recharging to keep running. My computer currently shows 11% remaining battery life and I already get nervous. Why is it so hard to take care of my own battery?

Life sent a not so gentle reminder my way! I was facing multiple very challenging situations at once and finally hit a point of emotional and physical exhaustion. An unknown feeling for me until then. I was irritated and really didn’t know what to do with it. And although I was very tempted to keep pampering my ego by ignoring the signals I didn’t. Instead I paid attention and made a conscious choice to slow down and adjust my pace. Life is a cycle so I know that there will be times when I am back to my energetic and active self. However, this version of me will be much more effective when rested and fully recharged. As we know partially charging doesn’t serve any battery life :)

So here’s the essence of my snail mail wake up call: Even if  it takes a little longer to reach a destination that delay is still better than collapsing at the finish line!


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MindfulVision goes Kindle

I am so excited! MindfulVision is now also available as a blog subscription on the Kindle in the US!

Check out the MindfulVision Kindle Edition and please share and spread the word and leave a review if you like!

I’d also like to hear what kind of content is of interest to my readers, so please leave a comment and let me know if you want to share what you’d like to read about!

So happy and grateful right now!

Mahalo!


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I should reconsider this post…

But I don’t. Who’s to judge our actions? Who’s to determine what’s right or wrong? Who’s to say what “one” should our shouldn’t do? In the end it all comes down to choice. The choices each and every one of us is making on a daily basis.

Societies all over the world keep a balance of “appropriateness” by defining the shoulds of our daily interactions. But what if you and me  would get up every morning and step into complete self-responsibility? For our thoughts, for our actions and for our lives? Approaching life like a blank canvas every day! I can only imagine what could be if we dropped all our internal and external shoulds. My imagination is a wild one though. I see a visionary and authentic world, one of shared responsibilities but also shared joy and true connections among people.

We spend years and years (some people even their entire lives) to craft and color our masks that keep us “safe” in a picture perfect world. They fit perfectly like a second skin and they sure look good from the outside. But what’s to be protected? And what’s really at stake if you keep up this masked version of yourself? Your identity? Your authenticity? Your freedom? Your choice? Your self-determination? Your life? I don’t know your answer to this question but I do know mine: I am giving up my illusions. This is an unpleasant truth. But it is the truth. My truth. And that’s the only one that matters to me. You might have a different truth and that should be the only one that matters to you.

Did you even notice the should in this last sentence? I didn’t until I reread it. Was I tempted to rephrase? Oh yes! But then I realized that would just be proving to myself that I am listening to my own self-imposed shoulds…I chose my own truth instead because I really believe that each and every one of us has the right and freedom to give the highest priority to our individual truth. Holding that belief creates a should in my mind. Whether or not anybody else accepts or challenges my should is a matter of choice again.  But who am I to determine if this is not just another illusion?

Writing this fills me with excitement and frustration at the same time. A deep longing and yearning for truth and authenticity is driving me to put into words what’s been on my mind for quite a while. But it makes me really sad to see how many people are caught up in their self-constructed illusions – including myself – missing out on a big part of life. Thinking about this, an image of a safety net comes up for me…but when I take a closer look I realize it’s not just a net, it’s a box. Sure, it will keep you from falling down but it will also hold you back from jumping. Only you can be the judge for yourself:  Do I choose safety and very limited flexibility over my freedom of choice, authenticity and true self-expression?

For the past few weeks I’ve been very determined to explore, find and speak my own truth. It’s tough! And I fail. A lot. But I also celebrate successes along the way. My illusionary truth shatters bit by bit but I am creating a new one every day, which fills me with joy and sadness. And I love this wild mixture of emotions and feelings. It challenges me to leave my comfort zone but this is where insight and growth can happen. I come across shadows, loyal soldiers, fears, insecurities and illusions – concerning myself, others and the world. It is a challenge – sometimes a very painful one. But after all it is my truth. And I choose to look at it. Completely unprotected but yet so safe in my own authenticity.

How strange when an illusion dies. It’s as though you’ve lost a child.

Judy Garland

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