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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Unintentional Intentions

Thank you life for being my constant reminder of the many lessons that are still waiting for me to be learned. And thank you lessons for being my patient teachers along the way.

A little orchid in the living room triggered these thoughts today:
Most of our actions a geared toward a specific and desired goal or outcome. If we hit the target we are happy, joyful and satisfied. Missing it, however, usually results in a sense of failure, disappointment and sadness. Sometimes the chances of hitting the bull’s eye are within our control; more often they are not. We get caught up In something that might be well beyond our scope of influence. Either way we get attached to whatever it is we consider the “ideal outcome” and identify ourselves automatically with the success or failure a particular action brings. A heavy burden of responsibility that might not even be ours to carry. What a waste of energy!

But what if we’d focus on doing whatever it is we do just for the fun of doing it instead? Not only are we releasing a lot of stress that’s related to making certain ends meet, we also open up to a whole new world of surprising – and possibly even better – results. This brings me back to the orchid. A few days ago I accidentally broke off a branch. Ouch! Not only was it in bloom, it also had a few new buds that were about to burst. I felt terrible and stuck the branch in the pot, hoping that at least the blooming petals might survive a few more days. That way I was also hoping to feel a little less guilty. This evening when I looked at the orchid I couldn’t believe my eyes: the petals were withering already. However, the buds that I was expecting to die off immediately had already started to open up and will probably be in full bloom in a few days. So unlikely and yet so beautiful! I thought I had killed a part of my plant but instead it is even more alive now than it was a few days ago!
My lesson learned:
Detachment from outcome allows for magic to happen and makes life a lot easier!

“When you learn not to want things so badly, life comes to you.”
Jessica Lange


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From grumpy carpe diem to happy camper

Today is one of these days that I am extremely grateful for being alive. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s pretty awesome to be alive every single day and stating and appreciating that is actually a part of my daily meditation. However, today was special – for no particular reason. Just an ordinary Saturday except for my mood, which was surprisingly bad for a day without plans, obligations or stress. I woke up way too early after a restless night and after going to bed too late in the first place. I was tired and grumpy!

About two hours after I had dragged myself out of bed I was ready  to hit the couch and call it a day. But for whatever reason I got dressed instead and left the house. At that point the carpe diem voice inside my head seemed pretty determined to make the most out of this day. I decided to just go along as I was too tired (and still grumpy) to fight it anyway. After grocery shopping and a little walk I called my mom to see if she wanted to get some coffee – luckily she did. We had such a good time chatting, giggling and laughing and after our first round of coffee we ordered a round of drinks. I had to be 5 o’clock somewhere at that point 🙂 What a fun time we had…and on a little side note: love you mom!

After we left the café I wanted to go home, fix some dinner and finally keep my coach some company. But apparently the inner carpe diem brat had other plans again and it seemed to be controlling my car: instead of making the turn leading to my house the car just kept driving – and  I surrendered. And this was when the magic happened. Once I stopped expecting a certain outcome and taking things for granted, openness stepped in and my eyes and soul were able to see and experience each moment fully. Carpe diem me had taken over – completely! Whenever I got to the end of a road I followed my intuition and took the turn that was “pulling” me. My intuitive GPS was taking me to places I didn’t know existed: beautiful houses, scenery and hidden treasures! And the entire time I kept thinking: How in the world is it possible that I never noticed any of this before???

CaipiBy the end of the day carpe diem me decided it was time to take myself out to dinner. I ended up in a nice (and up to this point also unknown) Brazilian restaurant with a delicious plate of dried cod in palm oil and coconut milk and a caipirinha in front of me, chatting with the Brazilian-Portuguese-African waiter, got a drink on the house after I finished eating and just sat there and enjoyed the music for a little while longer thinking: I am a truly great date 🙂 Thank you life for proving me that you are  stronger than my moods and that we never know what the day might have in stock for us!