The pandemic is winding down – hopefully no variants will eclipse our progress back to normalcy.
It’s time to once again get energized and empowered: to take control of our own remote — go after what mystifies, intrigues and stimulates us.
Firing Up Our Neurons
Firing up our neurons maximizes our well-being. It jump-starts change. It stimulates reflection.
Unfortunately, we have re-emerged back into a world that is chaotic. Gun violence is rampant. Climate catastrophe looms large. We are JUST coming out of a world-wide epidemic that shattered our routines and our sense of invincibility.
So, it behooves all of us to find both space and grounding. If we settle our minds, we can change the way we deal with mayhem and bedlam – uncertainty and the precariousness of our universe. We can control our anxiety.
One way to re-boot is to perfect practicing the art of gratitude – it will keep us grounded.
And it’s more than being grateful for material things and online movies (although both are pretty high on my list). How about fresh air? As in the radio program of that name and the real fresh air. Outside our homes? We can be grateful for sunrises, parks, a drenching rain – all are pleasures we should seek out and appreciate. I coin it Turf Appreciation.
We should also, on a personal level, be grateful for the talents and resources and qualities that make us unique.
And gratitude for life lessons we have leaned and what those lessons have taught us.
Artur Rubenstein – the renowned Polish-American Jewish classical pianist said it so well: “To be alive, to be able to see, to walk, to have houses, music, paintings – it’s all a miracle. I have adopted the technique of living from miracle to miracle.”
A Happy Place
Along with practicing the art of gratitude, if we are going to re-boot successfully, we need to embrace and honor our individual need for space.
We call the space we make for ourselves many things. The first that comes to mind, of course, is observing Shabbat every week. And the rest of the time: we can conjure up mindfulness, create a Zen moment, meditate, journal, walk, do yoga, garden or paint at will.
Personally, I knit — and I like to say, “Knitting keeps me from unraveling.”
Think of it as inhabiting “YOUR HAPPY PLACE.”
My mother — of blessed memory — jumped in the car and popped a Frank Sinatra CD into her CD player and drove around listening to him croon song after song. She always said that routine was a springboard to relaxation and creativity.
My mother-in-law — of blessed memory — made soup from scratch — chopping, slicing and cutting elevated her to a serene and inventive state of mind.
My friend Michele jumps in the shower. “Ah ha moments just happen,” she notes. “My body and my mind have relaxed enough to allow an idea, a possible solution, to formulate and burst forth, always surprising me.
A Beginner’s Mind
When we are open to clearing our mind, this clearing allows us to observe our experiences and accept life without always reacting to it and judging it.
When we empty our minds of competing thoughts, obligations and to-do lists, we are crafting a beginner’s mind. This is a term from Buddhism — I didn’t coin it. A beginner’s mind: simply forgetting what we know and feel and think and looking at something through fresh, unblemished eyes. Leaving judgment behind. Leaving defensiveness behind.
Children naturally operate like that, but as we age, we lose that gift.
Author Margrit Irgang says that in order to empty our minds, we must forget ourselves.
What does that entail? Well, for starters, the obvious:
We forget about the wash that needs folding
That our skirt lost a button
That we are out of Yahrzeit candles
That the dry cleaning is ready for pick up
That we need to come up with a plan for tonight’s dinner
And the best part of conjuring up a beginner’s mind and emptying out all the superfluous junk or stuff? It stimulates our creativity. The mind is then receptive to discover new things.
Perfect timing for the end of the pandemic.
Keep Preserving Your Bloom,
Iris Ruth Pastor