MindfulVision

My tribute to life with all its curiosities and miracles


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What if?

I was walking along a little trail today, when I noticed a dove sitting on the ground. It wasn’t until a girl walked up to it with gloves though that I realized it was injured and couldn’t move. “Can’t fly anymore”, she said and told me she was bringing it to the woods nearby so it can get some peace and nature can take its course. “Or can you take it to the vet?” she asked me. “Well, I do have a car”, I replied but felt some hesitation come up at the same time.
I guess she could feel that, too, as she didn’t respond but approached the scared bird carefully and picked it up instead. Now I could see the broken leg. Poor little guy. “This is breaking my heart” she said, “but I’ll let it find some peace now.” “Sadly this is also a part of nature’s way”, was all I could say in return, still debating internally if it was my responsibility or even my right to intervene. “Goodbye” she said to me, speaking for the bird, before she walked away. It was sad. I was sad. I thanked her, said my goodbyes to the little bird, while blessing it and sending love and light.

As I walked off I still didn’t know if that was the right decision. It didn’t feel quite right but taking it to the vet didn’t feel right either, otherwise I would have done it. I was already on my way to someone I am currently taking care of and honestly wasn’t ready or willing to take on any further responsibilities. What if I had taken it to the vet? What would have happened afterwards? Who would have taken care of it? Who would have paid for it? Writing this I realize that compassion doesn’t ask what if questions. Compassion doesn’t ask questions period.

But who’s to judge if just bringing the bird to a peaceful place to die wasn’t the most compassionate thing to do in that moment? Who’s to say if it wanted to be saved at all? Maybe it didn’t even want to be moved? It didn’t say: “Could you please take me to the woods?” And it didn’t say “Could you please rescue me and take me to the vet?” either. We don’t know and all the girl and I could do was act upon our intuition and do what felt right for us in that moment based on how we experienced the situation. May you rest in peace little birdie.

We tend assume that whatever is broken needs to be fixed. However, sometimes broken stuff doesn’t need and doesn’t even want fixing; sometimes it’s much healthier to just let it die peacefully…as harsh as that may sound…people, animals, relationships, (self-)concepts, illusions… Unfortunately this is one of the root causes for guilt at the same time. “I could have done more or something else. I should have done more or something else.” Aren’t we all familiar with these voices in our heads?

I am shushing you now and for good guilty voice! This is my official commitment and conscious decision to let my shoulding guilt die right now! Fixing it or keeping it alive is no longer serving me, in fact it never was and probably never will be. It just took me a while to figure that out 🙂 Regarding the bird I did what I could in that very moment and so did the other girl. And sometimes not acting is the best action we can take as long as we are respectful of everybody’s needs including our own.

It’s so easy to forget our own needs, to ignore our inner voice and the signals our body and mind are sending us, when we are busy trying to help others. However, a broken you can’t be of much help either way. Not for yourself and even less so for others. As much as I keep wanting to save the world I’ve come to accept that I can’t and that it’s not my responsibility either. But what I can do and am responsible for is to take care of, change and save myself. And what if that might actually be my contribution to saving the world?


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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:

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 11.42.14 PM

Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung?
Ajahn Brahm



Deutsche Version:

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 11.40.33 PM

Die Kuh, die weinte
Ajahn Brahm


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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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Shampoo thoughts on happiness

photo-4This morning I hopped into the most colorful shower I have ever seen in my life. What a great start of the day! My daily showers have served me well in the past regarding inspiration about my writing and especially shampoo really seems to tap into my inspirational thinking. Here I was, squeezing my shampoo bottle, when this big realization hit me out of the blue.

I’ve been travelling Hawaii for about three and a half weeks now. After the first week I went from O’ahu to the Big Island and had a major shampoo accident on the flight. It was spilled all over the place – luckily only on my washbag. However, it was messy . I remember how happy I was that day when I took a shower and there was at least enough left in the bottle for me to wash my hair that day. And even happier when it was still serving me the day after and the day after that. When I left the place I had stayed at for a few days I took the seemingly empty bottle of shampoo with me – for whatever reason. And here I am almost 3 weeks later, still squeezing enough out of that bottle for me to wash my hair. And I did take regular showers including washing my hair in the meantime 🙂

Sometimes we are so focused on lack and our fear of losing something that we do not even realize how much we have already. Our concern is in the past – that has passed – or the future – that’s not here yet and might never come – that we forget to be present here and now with what is and with what we have.

Very little can take you a very long way! That is so applicable to anything in life. If my shampoo would not have lasted that long I could have just picked up a new bottle at the next store … or I might have come up with other ways to keep my hair clean 🙂 Either way, there are always options to choose from and just because something seems little it can serve a great purpose and be quite long lasting.

So what am I taking away from this? My shampoo bottle 🙂 and a lot of trust that it might actually stay with me until the end of my trip. Overusing, overpacking, over everything seems to be the name of the game these days. We accumulate and pile up more and more stuff thinking it will bring us happiness. But what really happens is it burdens us because we have to take it everywhere we go and also adds a lot of worries to our lives because we are so afraid that we might lose what we accumulated over time.

This trip has taught me how limited options actually serve you well in tapping into your creativity and are a great way of truly experiencing the moment. Happiness is in being content with what is in each moment, however little that may be. I know for sure now that I need very little to be very well and happy. Mahalo!


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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!


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Of ducks and driftwood

ImageThis post was inspired by the two little fellas to the left. The other day I was going for a walk along the river, which I usually do to organize my thoughts when I have a million things on my mind. While I was taking my stroll I noticed two little ducks in the water so I stopped and watched them for a bit. Although I’m not an expert on the mating habits of ducks, I am pretty sure this was the duck version of a couple – male and female. Lets call them Donald and Daisy for simplification purposes.

Daisy was swimming close to the shore pretty chill and content, whereas Donald seemed to crave the excitement. The shore wasn’t enough for him so he kept paddling into deeper waters and at times was too far away from Daisy for her to even see him. But Daisy didn’t care. She kept doing her thing and explored the shore in her own time. Turns out there was no need to worry for her because Donald kept coming back at all times. And after each return they kept swimming together for a certain distance until they parted again until reuniting…

Why is it so hard for humans to do the same in a relationship? Once we fall in love with someone we come to think that we need to be physically and mentally close to each other at all times. As soon as a distance emerges between us we start questioning the whole relationship. In situations like that life tends to send us temptations – I call them “life’s special offers” – they usually appear out of the blue and would provide an easy fix for our problem at hand. Many people love sales and special offers so they go for it. After a while they realize that there was a reason for the bargain prize: bad quality, limited durability or it breaks right away…They regret the “purchase” and want to return the “item” but usually the warranty is up so they are either stuck with the faulty person item or without it because they disposed it right away. And this is when most people start regretting quick fixes and previous impulsive decisions.

I think we can learn a lot from the two little ducks: Even if one of them maneuvers the waters much quicker, it would never leave the other one for a faster piece of driftwood. They trust that the other one will catch up at some point and enjoy the times when they swim side by side. And this is what people should do as well…instead of fussing about the differences and problems there might be in a relationship, the focus should be on similarities and trust. We put so much energy into “making things right” again according to our own definition and before we know it our ego and inner control freak is turning our relationship life into a living hell. If we’d just have more trust in life and would let go of the things that are not controllable anyway, we’d be much more peaceful and could save our energy for relevant and changeable visions and missions. Just because our pace of life doesn’t always go hand in hand we can still have a good foundation to build on. And when the time is right, our pace will come together again and we can enjoy a swim together… Two people will never have the same heartbeat…they can still dance to some groovy beats!

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau


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A little request…

about something I care about. 12/12/12 is a very special and significant day. The world is changing and energies are shifting. At 7:30 am EST (New York time) which is 1:30 pm in Germany there will be a 30 minute worldwide guided meditation to “heal the world”. A second shift will take place at 9:30 pm EST. Please check the official website for more information and your local time: http://www.theworldshift.com

Or watch the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3boqddWaF1g&feature=youtube_gdata_player

This is important and a chance for all of us to make the change we want to see in the world! Please share and participate if you can!

Namaste!


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Blown away…

“The true definition of madness is repeating the same action, over and over, hoping for a different result.” – Albert Einstein

This is one of my favorite quotes and also the reason why I haven’t published anything here for a couple of weeks. I started this blog at a time in my life when I had no clue at all where I was heading.

For the last couple of years my life somewhat resembled a ride in a hot-air balloon. I got on somewhere and didn’t even know when and where I was going to touch the ground again. As a result I just followed the winds. I hovered on soft winds and enjoyed some calm rides with pretty views but also had to make it through storms when I couldn’t even take a peek outside my little basket. Ups and downs took turns and the years went by with me constantly on the move but heading nowhere.

At some point I ran out of gas and my little hot-air balloon started sinking and finally landed somewhere. As I turned around and checked out my whereabouts it was pretty obvious that I didn’t like it at all.  Oh well but I gave it a shot and thought maybe I might like it at some point if I just gave it enough time. Turned out I didn’t so after a while I refueled my hot-air balloon and went on the next ride. Anything had to be better that this place so I just took off and trusted the winds again until – you might have guessed – I ran out of fuel again at some point…Believe it or not but I did this about 5 times until I came to realize that this balloon was taking me places but not once did it take me to a place of my choice: first of all I didn’t even have one and even if I had one I would have had no idea how to get there.

And this is when I understood the true definition of madness 🙂

Instead of catching the next blast to start yet another aimless ride, I took some time to think about where I wanted to go next. For the last couple of month I have been planning my next “journey”, considered a couple of options, revoked my choices and looked for new ones. Overall a very intensive time with ups and downs as well. I may not know all details about my destination yet but at least I am aware of the direction in which I’m heading next. I kept myself busy for a few weeks planning and preparing so I can get back on my hot-air balloon. But this time I’m bringing a compass and maybe even a map 🙂