Life tips from the road …

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I had an idea pop into my head this past weekend while we were in Idaho for a kayak race.  I initially thought I was going to share some tips on how to balance your spiritual practice while traveling, but then it turned into life tips that I have learned while being on the road and traveling with my partner, Evan.

I think you will enjoy this post.  I had fun writing it and pondering what I’ve learned from being on the road and traveling with Ev.

For the past week we have been in Idaho for one of the best kayak races/events in the world.

If you aren’t familiar with the North Fork Championship kayak race, watch this three minute video.  It will give you an idea of where I have been and what I have been up to!

You won’t be disappointed.  It’s CRAY & amazing. 

Traveling with Ev to any sort of kayak function is… gosh how do I put it? Unpredictable, uncomfortable (which is actually a good thing),freeing, dirty, exciting, and most importantly REWARDING even if at times I want to pull out my hair. 😉  

It is my pleasure to share with you some of my life tips from the road.

So without further ado, here we go…

My life tips from the road:

#1 Let that shit go
Like I said before, kayak trips are very unpredictable, which can be a little challenging for the controller inside of me.  Let’s call her Miss Serious.  Miss Serious is scary; she likes things her way and she believes that by getting her way and having control, she will protect me, but she’s a little off.  
The only way I can enjoy myself on such an unpredictable trip is to let go and embrace what is, despite the resistance I may feel from Miss Serious.  Once I am able to achieve that, life feels so much better and I can truly enjoy myself. 
If this sounds easy, I am here to inform you that it is not.  It’s like prying a vampire away from it’s next meal.  Doable, but really fucking hard.
These trips allow me to practice the act of letting go and I am reminded that the only way to truly enjoy myself is to let go.

Tip:  Relax, nothing is under control.
#2 Embrace the uncertainty of it all
This goes hand in hand with my last tip.  These kayak race events are filled with surprises and last minute changes and plans, something that I actually enjoy. What I love about traveling with Ev is that nothing is certain, which at times can drive me crazy, but it’s also what I appreciate most about our trips.  Life is best experienced moment to moment. It’s where thrill and freedom lie, which is why embracing the uncertainty of it all is one of the most crucial parts to enjoying this ride we call life.

Tip: This made up belief that we have to know how everything is going to work out is bull shit. If you don’t know how to get from point A to point B, start walking, taking one step after the other, and sooner or later you will reach your destination.  Start with the first step.

 

#3 Go with the flow
Man oh man… although I love the idea of going with the flow and I can definitely ride that band wagon, sometimes going with the flow seems harder then paddling upstream.  But as we all know, flowing with the river is a much more enjoyable ride.  

Let me just thank the rivers for showing me that flowing DOWN RIVER, rather then paddling against it, is much easier and the key to living a happy life.  

Tip:  Everything you want is down stream. Stop paddling against it. GO WITH THE FLOW, people.

 

#4 Unplugging can do more for you than you know
No matter where you are or what trip you may be taking, unplugging yourself from your phone and computer is one of the best gifts you could give yourself. Luckily for me, I didn’t have a choice.  I was in the middle of the wilderness with no wifi or cell service. (THANK YOU GOD.)  Even though I didn’t meditate or journal every day, I had more time without the everyday distractions that a phone or computer can add to ones life and for that I am super grateful.

Tip:  Go somewhere where there is no cell phone service, even if for a couple of hours.  I find that the clarity and joy I know so well can find me when I am off the beaten path.

#5 Nature is the best type of medicine
This is a simple yet very effective tip that can give you the ease and clarity you may be searching for.

Tip:  Everything seems to make sense when I am alone in nature. Get outside.  Sit with nature.  Feel it soften your heart.  Your answers will be revealed.

And remember… 

RELAX, nothing is under control.

Love,
Sarah

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What Would PEACE Do?

What would PEACE do?

I have been asking myself this question for the past week. I ask it when I feel my ego trying to push me out of the way and take over the spotlight.

A few days ago, while on the phone with my sister, a certain topic came up, which my ego assumes it knows EVERYTHING about. I felt my ego (the control freak in me), craving so desperately to interrupt her and hand out my two sense, only to be “RIGHT”. When I felt this urge, I took a few deep breathes, brought myself back to the present moment, and asked myself, “What would PEACE do?” I found that when I anchored myself back to the present moment, by taking a few deep breathes and then asking myself this question, my ego disappeared. And the answer which came to me was this: LISTEN. Be PRESENT.

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By fully listening to my sister, without allowing my ego to judge every word coming from her mouth, I was able to connect with her in a much more fulfilling and peaceful manner. Once we realize that we DO NOT have to participate in our ego’s self-destructive games, we no longer feel inhibited by our ego. We stop taking ourselves and our lives so seriously. It doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it out to be. By asking ourselves this question before our ego takes flight, we enable our true-selves to shine through. In the end we create more meaningful and heart-felt relationships, with ourselves and with others. The first step, is noticing when it is our egos in play or our authentic selves. Simply, be aware.

Note: This takes continuous practice. There are many times when my ego moves in ever so subtly and takes control. However, by practicing over and over again, the ego slowly loses its grip. If we want to create happier and healthier relationships with others and with ourselves, we must be willing to change.

With Love,
Sarah (TheLove4Happiness)

Healing through Mindfulness: Sister Dang Nghiem

Zen Lessons On Healing After Loss

This is such a great post!  For anyone who is dealing with a loss or any type of on going suffering, please read this.  Not only read it, but begin to practice mindfulness.  It is only when we live here, in this moment, that we free ourselves from our OWN suffering.  The only way to live is day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute.  Be here, be free. – TheLove4Happiness

When she left her career as a medical doctor, Sister Dang Nghiem, MD, a Zen Buddhist nun and disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, learned the true meaning of healing.

For Sister Dang Nghiem story, click here.By Siobhan O’Connor

Breathing heals; time doesn’t.
It’s a myth to say that time can heal. Time cannot heal. Breathing and mindfulness can. [Long after a traumatic event happens to you,] a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch can trigger the complete stress response as though it’s happening all over again. What saved me was the mindfulness of breathing. Sometimes I would lie down to breathe and put my hands on my belly to slow it down and anchor my body. Through breathing, you learn to slow the stress response, the fight-flight-or-freeze response. If you can do that when going through a very intense experience, the next time you recall that trauma, you will do so with more peace, mindfulness, and clarity.

You can cultivate joy even when you’re hurting.
It’s been 14 years since John died. I still miss him every day, but I have learned to cultivate joy and peace in each breath, even though I feel that pain. You have to do them both at the same time. It’s like a garden: You have to take care of the weeds, but you also have to plant flowers. If you only weed, you’ll be exhausted and lose hope. And if you plant enough flowers, eventually there will be less room for all the weeds. (Get more ideas on how to find joy everyday.)

“Applied Buddhism” means mindfulness happens all day.
We’re not saying you have to set out 1 hour a day to sit on a cushion. We’re not saying quit your job and go live in the mountains. We’re just saying if you eat, don’t eat your projects. Don’t eat your sadness. Don’t eat the argument you just had. Just eat. If you walk, just walk. If you drive, drive. We have to choose again and again to be in the present moment. The moment you realize you are not being mindful, that’s the moment you are mindful. And you come back to it again and again. It’s a mental training.

You can keep the dead alive.
When a person dies and you lose all your joy, then it is like you are making sure that person is as dead as possible. But you can learn to call on the spirit of that person for help and learn to see him or her around you. When I see a purple flower, I remember that John loved purple flowers, and I smile. That flower, in that moment, becomes him.

Mindfulness is powerful medicine.
Mindfulness is the most effective preventive medicine there is, because it teaches you to care for yourself. Because you learn not to cause harm to yourself or others, physically, mentally, psychologically. I learned in medicine that so many of our illnesses are from lifestyle, and the biggest factor of our lifestyle is stress. Stress will bring on any illness. Diabetes runs in my family. My mother had it; my uncle had it. My brother, who is 4 years younger than I am, developed it in his mid-30s. I’m in my mid-40s now and I still don’t have it. We can have a genetic predisposition, but our lifestyle can determine when an illness will manifest, if it will ever manifest.

Kind actions matter.
In the Buddhist teaching, we talk about karma. Karma means actions, thoughts, speech. So really everything we do in life matters. You think, Oh, it doesn’t mean anything to bend down and pick up a nickel and give it to the person who dropped it. You think, Oh, it doesn’t mean anything to open the door for somebody. But you know what? Everything you do means everything. Every word you say to somebody or to yourself accumulates. Mindfulness allows us to make [more thoughtful choices in the moment]. And so we are more likely to have more positive and wholesome seeds in us to save us in daily life and very difficult moments.

Real medicine means being present.
If a doctor learns to practice mindfulness, if she learns to do a walking meditation as she’s going to the patient’s room—gathering herself, truly present—and she walks in quietly, peacefully, that’s already medicine. She’s calm. She’s not outside of her own body. The patient feels that attention, that tenderness, that care, that true presence. The patient is already soothed.

Where Your Attention Goes, Your Life Goes.

Where Your Attention Goes, Your Life Goes. – Martha Beck

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love this life that I live.  Sure, there are bumps in the road, but it is my choice how I perceive those bumps.  I can either perceive them as negative and a time of suffering or neutral and a time of growth and opportunity.  It is all about the perspective we choose to have.  This is so comforting, because I realize that I have control over how I feel.  I can carefully select what I think and what I believe and depending on what I choose, I can live a life filled with peaceease, and love or a life filled with confusion, anger, and/or disappointment.  It is such a beautiful thing!  It is my choice and in that is pure freedom.  Simple, yet oh! so beautiful.

My favorite teacher, Martha Beck, says, “Where your attention goes, your life goes.”  She shares a similar analogy as the one I am about to share.

Evan, being a professional kayaker, kayaks class five rapids and many of the rivers he paddles include rocks, trees, debris, etc. that can be very dangerous if he were to hit them.  So how does he manage to get down the river safe and sound, 95% of the time?  He focuses solely on the CLEAN and SAFE lines.  In life, it is much the same.  If I were to attach myself to every negative thought I had or any thought of the past or future, that tensed up my body or made me feel bad inside, I would probably lead a dangerous life for myself and for others.  However, if I observed a thought, just as Evan would observe a rock in the river, and then decide to re-direct my attention back to this moment, where there are no thoughts at all, or in Evans case, back to the safe line in front of him, then I would move through life or a river, gracefully and safely.  There would be no attachment to any thought or rock, per se, which means I wouldn’t  be effected by any thought or rock in the river.

I want to live like this.  I want to become more and more aware of my thoughts, so that when I notice a negative shift in my body, I will know that I am focusing on something I shouldn’t be focusing on.  If Evan were to begin focusing on a rock in the river, realizing that he was getting closer and closer to it, he would immediately focus his attention on a different part of the river, a better route, which would steer him to a safe and easy way of the river .  So although I may be babbling on, I just want to remind everyone, including myself, that life doesn’t have to be hard.  It can be easy and amazingly amazing, if we just realize that where our attention goes, our life goes.  It is ALL ABOUT the PERSPECTIVE you choose to have.  Change your thoughts, change your life.

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My STROKE of Insight, By Jill Bolte Taylor

–My STROKE of insight — by Jill Bolte Taylor–

To whomever is reading this: I don’t know where you may be or what you may be doing, but if you take twenty minutes to watch this TedTalk, by Jill Bolte Taylor, you will feel something inside of you wake up. You will be filled with an enormous amount of gratitude, love, and peace. You will feel spirit inside of you.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

Advice from Winnie the Pooh

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This is one of my favorite sayings!

When we allow ourselves to focus on the present moment, putting our thoughts about the past and/or the future aside, we feel FREE!

Although it is not the easiest task to achieve, I can tell you from my past experiences, that it is the most rewarding feeling in the world.  Living in the moment enables you to clear all of your anxious and worrisome thoughts, placing you in the perfect moment, which is perfect in itself.

Let go and just BE! (Easier said then done, I know, but at least TRY!)

21-Day Meditation Challenge by Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra is offering one of his FREE 21-day Guided Mediation Challenges on November 5th!

This is SO exciting!

I participated in Deepak’s last 21-day meditation challenge three months ago. I can honestly say, from the bottom of my heart, that it was one of the best choices I have ever made!

Meditation allowed me to see my life through a clearer lens. It helped me become more aware of my thoughts and realize how each one of them effected me negatively or positively throughout the day. I began to sleep better and I felt more at peace with myself and others.

Although it has only been three months, much has changed in my life. I decided it was time to set new intentions and take control of my life in a more happy and positive direction.

After the challenge I began writing every morning. I dedicated 30 days to document my thoughts in pursuit of discovering my “Working Passion”. At the time I was working for a great company and enjoyed it. However, I knew deep down that it wasn’t a job which would fulfill me much longer.

About a week into my morning writings I stumbled upon an idea. I was in a coffee shop and while browsing through their greeting cards, one caught my eye. It had a very nice picture with a thoughtful message next to it. I thought to myself, “Hmm I can do that!”.

“I love to inspire others and I also enjoy graphic design. Why not combine the two and create something unique and special?” I thought.

And that is exactly what I did!

I left my job, unexpectedly, and began diving into the Greeting Card Business. And although I am not a HUGE company by any means, I took a chance! I took a leap of faith and now I am creating and selling cards which inspire me and hopefully inspire others as well!

This blog post is not about tooting my own horn, because it hasn’t been all sunshine! But, at the end of the day, believing in myself is what guided me to this point in my life; Never giving up and continually pursuing my heart’s desires.
Maybe you don’t know what your heart desires? Here is the chance to open another door and create a new path for yourself. I truly believe participating in this meditation challenge is one step closer to opening your eyes to your true potential!

Committing to the 21-day meditation challenge was the first step on the path I am now creating. It allowed me to become more aware of myself, the present moment, and my life’s purpose. If you already know your life’s passion, do it for your mind, body, and soul. It is life-changing for anyone and everyone who decides to take part in this challenge!

I would love to hear stories and people’s thoughts after the challenge is finished!

ENJOY!

Sarah:)

NOTE: By clicking on the “Links” above you will be directed to Deepak’s website and his Guided Meditation Challenge Page.

I Find it Hard to NOT Live in the Moment…

While visiting Costa Rica, I had the amazing opportunity of meeting a few new and wonderful friends.  One of whom shared many inspiring and insightful words which I still hold close to my heart and try to incorporate into my life daily.

I have discovered that living in the PRESENT moment brings me peace and happiness.

While staying in Costa Rica this belief sank into the deepest part of me, reassuring me that this way of life is the only way to live!

In Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, the way of life is much easier and more simple. Living in the moment almost comes natural. Worries seem afar, if not absent, and life is lived for the day which lies ahead, nothing less and nothing more.

Returning to the states I wanted to maintain the same mind-set which I had in Costa Rica.  I realized this would be difficult, yet I saw no other option. While being home for less than a month, people began asking me questions regarding my future. Questions like, what was I going to do? How was I going to make a living? Where was I going to live? These questions seemed tedious at the time, however after continually being asked, I became overwhelmed. I wanted to yell and say I DONT KNOW!!! But I resisted and settled with this…

I will figure it out, as I always do, but support my decision to live in the present moment. And those questions which you find so important will be answered when the time is right:)

After the second conversation like this, I felt the urge to e-mail my friend in Costa Rica and ask him if he lived in the moment and what his thoughts were. His answer was this…

I find it hard to not live in the moment.  While humanity is relatively evolved in different ways than other life… I feel that the expectations of the future have been detrimental.  Now is all we have.  Waiting to do something tomorrow that you WANT to do today is not guaranteed.  I do not think I can live in anything but this moment.  No plans, just options.  When people plan ‘for me’ I choose to add it to a list of options that may be up for consideration.  If I erase, forget or ignore the option… nonetheless it still is an option.   So just put the right in front of the left…until you get to a cliff.  Then decide whether to jump, walk another way or learn how to fly. 🙂

I hope this answers any question you may have! 🙂

Living moment by moment is truly the only way to live. The past has been lived, the future is to be lived, but this moment (RIGHT NOW) is alive and living. So forget about the past, yet learn from your mistakes, allow the future to be, and enjoy your time RIGHT NOW! 🙂

ME:)

A little bump in the road… but for the better :)

After I wrote my most recent post about living in the moment, I experienced a hard couple of days. I was having a difficult time controlling my thoughts. My negative thoughts seemed to be over powering my positive ones. I had to remind myself numerous times through out the day to live in the moment; use my will power to stop those negative thoughts and bring myself back to the current moment.

Its funny, when you allow yourself to be completely vulnerable and admit your flaws, those flaws tend to appear more frequently and try to test your limits and will power.

After those hard couple of days and hard work, I felt relieved and proud of myself for not allowing my own mind take control over my life in a unhealthy way.

Now 2 weeks later, even though I conqured those hard couple of days, and felt a feeling of peace within, I still have to work on living in the present moment everyday. I am not sure how much time and practice it will take, but I do know that I am much happier trying to achieve this goal, then allowing my mind to master me in ways which don’t benefit me. I believe that the hard days happen for a reason, if only to help me grow as a person and to reach my goals sooner.

I do believe that if you want something bad enough you will somehow find a way to achieve it. Your own thoughts and ego are the only factors blocking you from your goals and life’s desires. Keep on working at your goals/ life desires and they will become reality.

Live 4 right now!

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, but concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

Living in the moment…

This is a topic that has improved my life in numerous ways. I cannot express how beneficial it is to live in the present moment, forgetting about the past but learning from your mistakes, and keeping the future a distance from your mind.

Two years ago, I started my search for inner happiness. At that time I was feeling pretty down and needed a lift in a positive direction. I started reading every type of self-help book I could get my hands on. Books on self-love, inner happiness, personal growth, really any type of book I thought would help enhance my life. Throughout my search, I continually found material on living in the moment. It seemed so easy to live in the moment, and I presumed that I had attained this new approach to life, however I realized later, that I had only touched the surface;)

Now two years later, all my hard work is finally paying off:) I have trained my mind to live for each and every moment. Of course I cannot live in the moment every second of the day, however, that is the goal I would like to achieve.

Let me explain why I think living in the moment is so crucial. I’ll list a few real life experiences and then do my best to explain how this new way of life has created a feeling of peace and happiness within, and relieved me from my negative thoughts and ways, and how it can for you as well:)

My life experiences:
Below I have listed three real life experiences that have generated pain in my life; all of which I unknowingly created for myself.

Lesson 1: obsessing about my weight
Lesson 2: worrying about my future and getting caught up in the past.
Lesson 3: toxic relationships

Lesson 1:
I have had problems with being confident with my size and body since the 8th grade. I was nowhere near over weight, but I believed I was fat and needed to be skinnier. I began dieting and only allowing myself to eat certain foods. I was brain washing myself with untrue thoughts about my body, and a year later I had transformed my negative thoughts into reality. I was overweight and unhappy. Remember: What you think about, you bring about.

Now, 10 years later I am very hopeful that I am close to overcoming this obstacle I created for myself. I am working on abolishing my old delusive thoughts and replacing them with positive and gratifying thoughts. Living in the present has helped me to do so.

You see, when a worrisome thought arises about my weight, such as, what did I eat today? Or, when should I work out and for how long? Or, I need to eat healthier because I’ll get fat. I STOP myself immediately and bring myself back to the living moment. I will not allow my mind to control me any longer. I will work out when I feel like it, and when I do work out, I’ll do exercises that feel good at that time, and I will eat healthy and when I want. There is no reason to get ahead of myself and let my mind fall into a downward spiral of negative thoughts, as I know it will only upset me. Try to keep your mind still and live for each breath.
The mind is very powerful; use it to your advantage, by controlling your thoughts to live for today!

Although I only gave one example, there are a vast amount of different areas in one’s life that can be improved upon by living this way: Relationships, work environment, death, anger and frustration, anxiety, money issues, and the list could go on…Do not let yourself get tangled up in things you have no control over (the past), or get caught up in the future, which is still to be determined. STAY PRESENT!!!!! Let the past go and let the future come naturally, as it should:)
This will bring you more happiness…

As the Dalai Lama once said…