MindfulVision

My tribute to life with all its curiosities and miracles


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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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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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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 journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Lao Tzu)

This is one of my favorite quotes and it holds so much truth. I’ve been talking and thinking about how much I love to write for years and years so I figured it might be about time I actually start doing it.

I am currently at a point in my life where all previous values and ambitions somehow lost their appeal. As of yet I have no clue where this new way is going to take me – a scary but also very exciting thought!

Until recently I was leading a typical career-oriented life. After Grad School I got my first job in advertising and worked my way up over the years. Always on the hunt for the next great opportunity I changed jobs, moved several times (also across countiries) as work required it and – without realizing it – totally lost myself in this process. One day I woke up in the morning and couldn’t come up with a single reason why it was important for me to go to work. All of the sudden my life seemed to have lost any kind of purpose. Of course that didn’t happen over night. But that morning it hit me totally out of the blue: high-speed and head-on.

I hadn’t been happy in my job for quite some time but never really allowed me to even think these thoughts. What right did I have to complain? I made a very decent living, my CV was flawless, the companies I worked for were all internationally renowned and some people would probably kill to just have one of them on their CV. But as the years went on I felt like a robot. All creativity and goals I once had had slowly but surely disappeared.

It took me about a year and a half to finally find the courage to listen to my hear and soul and break out of this “condition” that used to be my life.

I quit my job, went on a meditation retreat and started to make meditation and mindfulness practice a part of my daily routine. In a nutshell: I started to live again!

And this is where I am today. I have no clue what’s gonna hapen next but it doesn’t scare me anymore. I used to have a backup plan at all times – not this time though. Mindfulness teaches us to appreciate and enjoy the present moment because this is all we have anyway. The past is gone and the future is not here yet. If we are fully present in the moment there is no regret, no worries – just being!

Sometimes we have to give ourselves time and a break to do nothing. In today’s “always on” world we forgot how to listen to our inner voice – and only in peace and calm can it be heard again. So for now I will just follow Thich Nhat Hanh’s advise: Nothing to do, nowhere to go.