The Road Less Traveled – Part 1

We took the road less traveled on this trip to the Yucatan!

We took the road less traveled on this trip to the Yucatan!

Dear Zen Mama Readers, I’ve been a little absent lately…teaching, traveling and going to Lacrosse games! I was recently inspired during an amazing trip. My next few posts will reflect this! Hope you’ve been well!

As you may know, we love to travel. We just got back from a 10 day Yucatan, Mexico adventure, traveling between Mayan Ruins for my middle son’s, Charlie, 21st birthday. A few years ago, we decided to take each child on a trip alone to celebrate this jump into adulthood. It’s amazing how you can connect and get closer with just one child. We learned a lot on this trip. So much so that the next few posts will be a direct result from this trip.

We traveled the road less traveled, driving all over the Yucatan in a little rental car. First we saw three sets of Mayan Ruins: Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Palenque (more about these in a later post). Then we spent two days on the Gulf of Mexico after visiting all the ruins in a town called Celestun (pronounced “cel-es-toon”). We stayed at a small self-catering place called Celeste Vida. It’s run by Karen and Kenn and Wanda (more about this place and their dream in a later post, too).

Celestun's beautiful, empty beaches filled with shells.

Celestun’s beautiful, empty beaches filled with shells.

Celestun is still the “real Mexico”. No resorts here! In fact we only saw one set of other Americans. We mostly just interacted with the townspeople. This is the type of travel we love! It’s really being a traveler, not just a tourist looking for all that you already have at home. The town in known for the flamingos that reside in the estuary and it’s empty white sand beaches that are filled with perfect shells. We loved getting up early and watching the fisherman get their early morning catch. At night their boat lights twinkled among the amazing stars, attracting sardines.
Perfect Shells Everywhere!!

Perfect Shells Everywhere!!

The setting was incredibly peaceful, just what we needed! It all reminded me of this fable of a Mexican fisherman and an American businessman. The American just doesn’t understand that sometimes we already have what we need and that less is more. Enjoy our fishermen pictures that compliment this lovely story:

The fishermen of Celestun working together.

The fishermen of Celestun working together.

The Fisherman!

An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senior.”

A flounder was apart of their catch.

A flounder was apart of their catch.

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senior, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senior?”

The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

One seemed to be in charge

One seemed to be in charge

“Millions, senior? Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

~Author Unknown

Breakfast at our guitar playing friend's home.

Breakfast at our guitar playing friend’s home.

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How To Calm Your Monkey Mind

Dear Zen Mama Readers, I’ve had a full month with plenty of “Monkey Mind”. Since I’m still rather busy, I’ve decided to post one of my favorite posts from the past, about that subject of Monkey Mind! It’s one I needed to reread myself and learn once again! Enjoy!

“I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the monkey mind. The thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. My mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined.”
~Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve had a drunken monkey in my brain this week! Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

I recently read that Buddha imagined the human mind was filled with drunken monkeys who jumped around and were constantly chattering. “We all have monkey minds,” Buddha said. All these monkeys want our attention and steal our energy. They are loud and make you worry about everything that could happen. Buddha showed his students that kind, loving and positive thoughts could transform the monkey mind. The monkeys did not go away, but became calm in your mind. Buddha said this could be done through a quiet time each day in meditation. You focus your breathing on a simple mantra/affirmation to calm the monkeys.

We live in a society where worry, anxiety, stress are commonplace. Most stress is mental. You are what you think. Spring is the crazy time of year for teachers and parents. When I woke up Monday morning, I realized I only have 6 more weeks of school left. And in that six weeks, besides teaching, I’m giving three presentations – two presentations at one conference, one at another. With that, I must update a book and make two powerpoints. Yikes!

All these thoughts set off the crazy monkeys in my mind! It started the anxiety I feel when I’m not sure that I can get everything done. The kind that starts in your stomach and feels like butterflies. You know what I’m talking about? The kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night.

Luckily I have a few tricks I pull out of my hat to calm my “Monkey Mind”:

1. You control your reaction. Often stress is caused by your perception of the problem. Can you solve it? Then do! If you cannot solve it, let go of your attachment to it. I realize that while I can’t control the next few weeks, I can control my reaction. I can be stressed out and thinking of nothing but what needs to be done. Or I can use these tricks. The things to do are still there, but I will feel calmer.

2. Practice Mindfulness. Try to live more in the moment. Let go of the past and don’t think too much about the future. Breathe in the smells of Spring, really taste your food as you eat today, look for beauty around you and feel gratitude for everything and everyone around you.

3. Take a break and let your soul rest. We all do too much and as the Zen Papa reminds me, much of it is self imposed. If you’re too busy because you’ve volunteered for too many things, then you need to take a break and let your soul rest! My husband and I took a walk and watched a movie last night. Yes, I could have worked the evening through, but I needed a break!

4. Positive Affirmations. I just finished reading Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting by Wayne Dyer. All through the book he talks about saying the “I AM” affirmations. You say the affirmation even if it’s the opposite of what you’re thinking. Strangely enough your brain believes whatever you tell it! Try one of these or make up one of your own:

I AM calm
I AM success
I AM prosperity
I AM stress free
I AM debt free
I AM organized
I AM headache free

*By the way, make sure it’s not negative or that it isn’t hurtful to others!!*

5. Meditate. According to Buddha and many others meditation is the key! I’m just getting started in meditation myself. When you’re a busy person meditation can be simple like just being quiet with yourself. Or if you can spend a little more time, you can try a guided meditation.

• Try sitting quietly, in a special stress free place, in the sun or you can even meditate on a slow walk. Breathe deeply and say one of the positive affirmations above. The opposite of whatever your “Monkey brain” is telling you.

• Do the 100 Breaths Challenge: Take a deep breath through your belly and breath IN at the nostrils and count in your mind, “One”. Let your breathe flow naturally, go with it’s natural rhythm. Continue from number 1 to 100. If your mind wonders (which it will), simply come back to your count and continue.

• Another way to meditate is through guided meditations. I recently participated in a guided meditation and was surprised at how much I loved it. Here’s a very short one by Deepak Chopra on gratitude help you let go of stress:

All this takes practice. You can’t get rid of the crazy, drunken monkeys in your mind, but you can calm your Monkey Mind by not worrying so much. As you practice all the tricks above, you will feel calmer in general and find it easier to focus. Which, in turn, will help you become even less stressed!

Photo credits:
Crazy Monkey image

Calm Monkey image

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Teach Random Acts of Kindness To Your Kids!

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

I just realized it’s Random Acts Of Kindness Week! I first published this post in 2012 and thought it would be good to re-publish! Enjoy!

A ripple is an amazing part of nature. A rock causes a huge splash at the beginning. There is a middle where the circle is perfect. Then the tiny ripples go out from there. It is a perfect symbol for people who do nice things for people they don’t know.

Think of the many things we try to teach our children in life: manners, good study habits, politeness, saving money, respect for your elders and don’t do what everyone else does.

But do you ever think about teaching kindness? It sounds very simple but sometimes I think we expect our children to be naturally kind but in fact like any other personality trait, only a few have kindness as a natural part of their personality. Children seem to be more likely not to be kind.

Did you know this week is Random Acts of Kindness Week? What a perfect week, just after Valentine’s Day, to teach kindness and love for people we don’t even know.

The RAK week fits in perfectly with the story of Laura, a mom at our preschool. She had seen a link to the Random Acts of Kindness organization and decided to introduce this concept to her kids. She knew that children are very concrete and usually need to see what is happening in their world to understand it. Sending school supplies far away to a place like Africa is a very good thing, but her 5 and 6 year old couldn’t imagine it. Laura thought the kids should start with something local. So they started out with taping quarters to the gumball machine for kids without money. Isn’t that a great idea? They brought a big container of Starbuck’s coffee for all the moms at her daughter’s dance class. Then the dance teacher brought the unfinished coffee to a dinner she was going to. She paid it forward!! And this family is just getting started!

This got me thinking that teaching children to love anonymously is a great gift to give them. Here are some ideas of teaching your children Random Acts of Kindness. The first 13 ideas can be done by your children themselves. The next ideas need you as the parent to help out.

30 Random Acts Of Kindness To Do With Your Children!

1. Smile at five strangers
2. Hold the door open for someone
3. Help a neighbor with light yard work
4. Let someone go in front of you in line
5. Return a shopping cart
6. Pick up trash in your neighborhood
7. Wash a car
8. Say good morning to people
9. Complain less
10. Make someone laugh
11. Share a toy
12. Be a positive person
13. Compliment a friend
14. Bring canned food to a food bank
15. Hand out popsicles at a park
16. Carry around lollypops for crying kids at stores
17. Put something nice in the mailbox for the mail man
18. Say thank you to the bus driver
19. Pay for the person behind you in a drive thru or at the toll booth.
20. Tape quarters to the gumball machine
21. Leave flowers or candy at someone’s door, ring the doorbell and run away! (We do this at Christmas for a special family each year for 12 days…but that’s another post!)
22. Sponsor a family at Christmas
23. Donate to the local food bank
24. Make cookies for your teacher
25. Hand out a $2 bill when you catch someone doing something nice. (We do this because someone did it for us)
26. Put a gift card on someone’s windshield
27. Bring a neighbor dinner
28. Shovel a neighbor’s walk without telling them
29. Send a real letter to someone
30. Leave kind notes on other people’s windshield

My kids and I have done a few of these ideas. We plan to do them all in the next 12 months. Please, write more ideas in the comments below! Please check out the Facebook page, Paying It Forward, One Day At A Time for some great stories and other ideas!

You and your children can change the world, one person at a time! And you don’t have to have kids to practice Random Acts Of Kindness – you can change the world yourself!! :)

“Fill each day with life and heart. There is no pleasure in the world comparable to the delight and satisfaction that a good person takes in doing good.”
~ John Tilloston (1630-1694); Archbishop Of Canterbury

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The Priceless Gift To Give Your Family and Friends

The gift:sstThere’s a beautiful gift you can give your family and friends. And, you don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day or a birthday to give it. You don’t have to pay for it either. It doesn’t need a ribbon or bow. It can’t be wrapped in fancy paper. The recipient may not even know you’ve given them this. But they’ll feel it. And you, as the giver, will benefit, too.

What’s this amazing gift? It’s the gift of non-judgment. Judge less, accept and allow and you will find your life and relationships change.

Why should you stop judging? It seems obvious…

• You hurt other people.
• You hurt yourself.
• Judging people can really make you unhappy.
• You put negativity into the world.

Judging is an easy thing to do, a very human thing. We all do it, many times unintentionally. About three years ago, I decided not to judge anymore after an incident with a friend:

Several friends met in a little beach town for one friend’s birthday. We were having so much fun. The friends that were already there were having a little gossip about one friend that hadn’t joined us yet. I can’t believe it, but I joined in. At the time, it was fun to have a little gossip! It really brought us closer even. But then the other friend arrived. She’s a sensitive friend. In my guilt I sensed that she could feel it. Did she? Maybe, maybe not. But I learned later she didn’t have as much fun as she could have. Had I been a part of that? I vowed not to judge again.

I had finally realized the difference between making a judgment and of being compassionate. In letting go of judgment, you shed discrimination and prejudice. You have an open mind. You remain impartial yet concerned. You understand every side.

Letting go of judgment is not indifference; it’s letting of of attachment and feeling kindness, compassion, sympathy or love instead.

So your homework: Try a Judgment Free Day. Try a day of no expectations. Let go of perfection for yourself and for your family, friends and co-workers. When you feel the judgmental thought come, listen to it and then let it go.

For your Non-Judgment Day:

1. Start out by not judging yourself. Don’t worry if your hair doesn’t look good, you slept in, you ate too much etc… Be easy on yourself, enjoy yourself.

2. Try thinking some words of compassion like Namaste (“The divine light in me honors the divine light in you”) If you feel comfortable, you can put your palms together and put them in front of your heart. This sets you up in a place of compassion.

3. Imagine someone’s story. You may see things one way, but there’s always another story. Sometimes you only see the tip of the iceberg. As Walt Whitman says, “Be curious, not judgmental.”

4. Let go of your ego. It’s usually NOT about you. Don’t take things personally. Along with that let go of the need to be right. If you have to choose between being right or being kind, choose kindness. (That’s to Wayne Dyer for that last thought.) Also choose to allow and accept is the “antidote” to the ego.

5. Sometimes we gossip to impress others. Those people aren’t your friends. Remember you might be the next person they gossip about.

6. Look for the good, rather than bad. What you focus on can expand. So change the way you look at people and the people will change. (Or maybe you will!)

7. Rather than judge someone, offer to help. “How can I help you?” Maybe it’s just listening with an open mind and heart.

Humans are naturally judgmental. You are. I am. It is human nature. It’s time to let go of that natural judgment. Let go; be mindful. Maybe, just maybe, there will be less divisions in the world and we’ll be closer. Whether it’s just with your family or your friends, or even people you don’t know. You might try extending non-judgment to the whole human race.

I’d love to hear your stories of judgment/non-judgment below in the comments.

Here’s few of my Facebook posters that I’ve made to go with non-judgment:

Zentips:sri chinmoy:happiest

Zentips:Merton:reflection

Zentips:judgement:dalai lama

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Be Inspired by Two Inspirational Videos

Walt Whitman Photo Credit: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/walt-whitman

Walt Whitman
Photo Credit:
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/walt-whitman

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
~ Walt Whitman

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
~ Jane Goodall

We all need inspiration. When you’re uninspired, life can be depressing and a little blasé.

When you’re inspired, anything is possible. When you’re inspired, you are in flow. You don’t just need inspiration if you’re in a creative job, it’s a necessity. But no matter what our job, whether it’s creative or not, we all work and live better on the days when the cares of the world drop off and we’re in sync with life.

One of the best ways I’m inspired is by inspirational and motivational quotes and movies. I’ve shared many movies and quotes with you over the years.

Yesterday I got inspiration in two places. Both are ads (yes I’m a big one for being inspired and crying over ads).

1. First, I wanted to share this Thai video. It’s an ad from Thailand. Please read the subtitles. And note, baht is the Thai money. You may want to watch it twice.

And the inspiration: Do a kindness without thought that it will come full circle! But maybe it will…

2. This is an iPad Air ad. And while I’m an avid apple fan, this ad is meant to inspire you to share your creativity. The question asked is what will be your verse? The narration comes from verbatim from Robin Williams and Dead Poets Society. Also you can click here and go see the real stories about what people are doing with their iPads. This also inspired me!

The inspiration: Be creative; you can do anything. You, too, must contribute a verse!

I must add the video of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society and the verse by Walt Whitman from O Me! O Life! that inspired the iPad ad.

BY WALT WHITMAN
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

I hope these short videos inspire you, too! Have a great rest of the week and weekend!

Read more about finding your inner muse and inspiration by clicking here.

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Posted in Inspirational Movie Monday, Kindness, Positve Thought | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

13 Top Self Improvement Bloggers Discuss Manifesting

Zentips:Collier:Manifesting:Wailea Sunset
Lately I’m thinking and dreaming about a beach sunset, palm trees and a spring trip. That’s what I’m manifesting into my conscious and subconscious mind! Last week I wrote about manifesting and how to bring what you want into your life.

My post on manifesting brought about some great discussion! So I asked some of my favorite bloggers to add to that discussion. Here’s what they have to say about manifesting:

Paige-smiling2-e1338329694384Paige Burkes of Simple Mindfulness
“Every minute of every day we’re manifesting everything about our life based on our thoughts and beliefs. Whether we do it consciously or unconsciously, it’s happening. I love the quote: “Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world.” Whenever things aren’t working the way I would like in my own life, I don’t blame people or circumstances. I look deep within myself and identify the thoughts and beliefs that are creating the unwanted situation. Sometimes what I find can be hard to deal with. Changing negative and limiting beliefs that have been created and reinforced since childhood is difficult. But I know that when I face these things and change them, my situation will change for the better.”

IMG_2456.2.mini_.Aileen from Kaizen Vision
“I find that the times manifesting tends not to work out so well for me is when I really, really want it like crazy. When I’m just practicing manifesting, it works much better. An example of this comes from a year ago when my husband was talking about a friend of his who is incredibly lucky and wins at things all the time. Without thinking I said “I wish I were lucky, I never win anything.” My husband laughed and said, “With that attitude you certainly won’t.” I laughed too, then I thought I’d play a manifesting game with myself and repeat the affirmation “I love being lucky. I win things all the time. I love winning things.” That month I managed to win 5 gift cards. One from a lunch mixer, one from a contest my mechanic was having, one from an office party etc…So I find it’s great to play with manifesting, and not try to manifest when something is really, really, big in your mind and heart. The more continuous small successes you have, the better you’ll become with manifesting.”

Vidya SuryVidya Sury from VidyaSury.com
“Focus on it, visualize it and it will happen” is a credo I grew up with. My happiest memory of manifesting is buying our home. When we moved to the city where we now live, we had rented accommodation. Rental advances were exorbitant – we paid the landlord a deposit, thus locking up our money. And naturally, each month when we paid the rent, we went through a series of “if only we had our own place”. We would fantasize about it. We even hypothetically discussed which area we would buy it in, how large it would be and laugh when we always visualized a three-bedroom apartment. Laughed, because property prices in that area were crazy-high. We imagined the color scheme in each room, the furniture we would have, the color of the curtains, the arrangement in the kitchen – and at the end of each session, felt very good. As karma would have it, I saw an ad in the newspaper and called the number. The apartment for sale was a three-bedroom in the area we fantasized about. We saw the place. Decided to buy it. Finances were tough, but we managed with a home loan and moved in quickly. We registered the property on my birthday. The funny thing is, it is not the most stylish apartment or anything, but we have a deep sense of home here. Manifestation/visualization has worked for me in various instances. The focus, the faith and the effort combine to make it happen for me. It seems like when I want it enough, the Universe conspires to make it happen. Other major instances where this has worked for me are – meeting my soulmate, a career change and university admissions for my friends’ children.”

Victor SchuellerVictor Scueller
“There are two aspects to the mind — the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Whatever your conscious mind receives from the five senses, and whatever you consciously perceive as true will be passed down to the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the conductor of the body’s functions by way of the autonomic nervous system. On a subconscious level, you will physically manifest whatever you have consciously chosen to accept as true. You have no choice.”

Picture043_edited3Angela Artemis from Powered By Intuition
“Manifesting is best done consciously rather than unconsciously. Wake up to the habitual thoughts you have and the themes that repeat themselves throughout your life. Once you are conscious to how your thoughts have crystallized into your current life you can retake the reigns and manifest a life according to your desires, not your fears.”

Jodi ChapmanJodi Chapman from Soul Speak
“I truly believe that we can create our ideal life. The power has always been within us to make magic happen, but first we have to believe – really believe – that we are worthy of greatness and deserving of abundance in all forms. Once we believe this deep down in our soul, we can then create a clear vision for our life, ask the universe for loving support, and take conscious action to soar toward our dreams!”

Elle SommerElle Sommer from Reflecting a Life
“Manifesting isn’t really complicated, we are believing things into being on a daily basis. Whilst we think and feel, we’ll always be creating our next experience always manifesting something, but deliberate manifestation means being conscious of what we’re doing.

Manifesting isn’t forcing what you want into being. It’s not trying to make something happen. It’s equally not sitting back and waiting for a truck to pull up outside your front door and dump whatever you desire onto your doorstop. Manifesting is opening the door to what you claim for yourself. It’s gentle and sometimes subtle.

It’s being willing to receive, which means doubts and fears and all forms of resistance have to be released. And faith comes in handy for that. It’s assuming mentally, in your imaginaton, that you already have what you want and feeling the joy or relief or exhileration of receiving your desire. It’s the belief that you already have it that sets powerful universal forces in motion, drawing your desire into your life experience.

As I say, not really complicated.”

arvindblog3Arvind Devalia from Make It Happen:
“Before you can manifest anything in your life, simply ask what would be in the highest good for both yourself and the world. So often people attract things into their life which are actually detrimental to their life journey. For instance, attracting a life toxic relationship. To get clear on what you should manifest in your life, simply meditate for 10 mins and reflect on what higher experience you would like to attract into your life now. Of course, the thought of having this in your life has to feel good. And then expect it to happen in the best possible way for you.”

Suzie CheelSuzie Cheel from SuzieCheel.com
“Magical manifesting seems to be something that comes naturally to me. Most recently I was at a business networking event and one of the door prizes was a Super Sales Speaker training day. I thought that would be great for me to promote my upcoming book Lucky to be Alive. Then the presenter asked who had a big goal for 2014 and as no one was forthcoming I put my hand up and shared my dream. Then came the draw and yes it was my name that was drawn out. this is just one of many courses I have manifested in the past year or so, from putting out the intention.”

Claudya Martinez UnknownMamiI love this story of manifesting from Claudya Martinez from Unknown Mami:
“My husband and I managed to change our financial and work career situation hugely last year and we began by putting up signs all over our home of what we wanted. I still can’t believe we got it, but I guess there was a part of me that knew we could or I wouldn’t have put the signs everywhere.”

Lisa HamiltonLisa Hamilton from The Conscious Runner
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s we are ALWAYS manifesting. Each thought draws to us either something we want or something we don’t want. When you think and feel “I’m awesome’ you put out positive energy which then attracts positive experiences. Just like this is true, it is also true when you put out negative energy.

The Universe is always unfolding EXACTLY as it should. Sometimes it’s gifts come in the form of good luck. Othertimes they come in the form of challenge and strife. You may not always get to choose what happens to you, but you DO ALWAYS get to choose how you respond to it.”

Headshot 3 - smChristine Callahan-Oke from The Brighter Side of Life
“Over the past few years I’ve been amazed to see the power of positive intention, and what I know is this: if you focus intently and authentically on what you want to achieve and take conscious steps forward in faith, you’ll manifest positive results.

I don’t believe we should necessarily limit our intentions to an exact vision. If we want to manifest something, I think we’re better to focus on that vision as “this or something better” – we then give the Universe a chance to provide something even better than our initial vision.

Manifestation works whether we dwell on the positive or the negative. What we focus on expands, so it’s up to us to decide if we want to focus on the positive, such as the affirmation “I am so grateful to be enjoying health, happiness and joyful prosperity in my life,” or the negative, such as the limiting belief “I’ll never have what I really want.” Our thoughts hold great power, so why not choose the positive?”

JodiAmanJodi Aman from JodiAman.com
“Creation begins in the imagination. What will come forth is planted and might grow in this womb for years, minutes or months, but only if it is attended to. It is easy to attend our dreams, we just have to have gratitude for them.” (PS Please read my guest post at Jodi Aman. Click here!)

Thank you to all these wonderful bloggers for their take on manifesting! What do you think? Please comment below:

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What is Manifesting? A “How To” Guide Inspired by Wayne Dyer and Neville Goddard

Ztips_Buddha_The Mind Is Everything

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.”
~Napoleon Hill

One of the things I’d like to be more adept in 2014 at is “Manisfesting” what I want into my life. What exactly is manifesting? And why aren’t we all doing it??

We are always manifesting. The mind is our most powerful tool. Each thought we have creates an energy which leads us in the direction of that thought. If you think you can’t, well then you can’t. If you think that you’re able, you can. I truly believe it’s all in how you think.

When I first heard about manifesting, while reading a Wayne Dyer book, I thought to myself, “This is crazy. It’s like magic.” Now that I do manifest I think, “This is crazy! Is is magic!” I’m still amazed that it works. Here are a few examples:

• The first time I tried it, I said to the universe, “We need a new double bed for our guest room.” Within a few days, my fellow teacher said to me, “Do you know anyone who needs a double bed?” Her mother had just died and they were getting rid of a brand new bed from the guest room. We still have that bed in our guest room.

• Last year, our van died. We couldn’t decide what kind of car to get. After a lot of research and indecision, we were frustrated and finished with looking. So, I said to the universe, “By this weekend we will know what car we want.” Sure enough, a friend called and asked if we knew anyone interested in a used car he was trying to sell for a client. It’s in our garage right now.

• 6 months ago we sold our home and found the perfect one all within a few weeks. The result of the sale/purchase seemed to happen quickly but we’d been manifesting for a while. (This will be my example later on.)

Now, thanks again to Wayne Dyer’s newest book, Wishes Fulfilled, I am trying out “I am” statements. In fact I like them so much that my newest book, ZEN TIPS, has one on every page. Dyer read a book by Neville Goddard called The Power Of Awareness and decided to write Wishes Fulfilled to put Neville’s book into layman terms for everyone to understand.

“I am” affirmations are powerful. “I am” is a positive visualization. Say the affirmation even if it’s the opposite of what you’re thinking. The visualization enters your consciousness and then your subconscious takes charge and transforms you. Your brain believes whatever you tell it! Last year I was having headaches. So, I tried the affirmations and said, “I am headache free” as if it had already happened. The headaches ended almost immediately. Try one of these or make up one of your own:

I am calm.
I am success.
I am prosperity.
I am abundance.
I am stress free.
I am debt free.
I am organized.
I am healthy.
I am filled with energy.
I am living my dream.

You will notice a shift in feelings as you say an “I am” statement.

ZenTips:I AM

How does one do it? After listening to Wishes Fulfilled and reading many other books and articles on the subject here is what Dyer and others suggest:

1. I believe that to create an abundance mindset you have to a positive attitude and an attitude of gratitude. Tell yourself: I am worthy. Nothing is lacking. Have nothing but the best in mind. Have gratitude for all things, good and bad, that have been in your life. Have good thoughts…No revenge. No bad wishes towards others or yourself.

*I had fears of selling our house and leaving our neighborhood. I acknowledged those fears and thanked the house for 16 wonderful years. I knew that nothing was lacking in my life and I’d have even more time and abundance in my next house.*

2. Use your imagination. All things in life first started as someone’s imagination. So you must first imagine it! What is it that I want? If you think you want to win the lottery well what is it that you really want from that? Security, worry free lifestyle? Are you imaging a trip like I often do? Remind yourself that all things are possible.

*We imagined an easier home that had very little financial worries. One that would be great for future empty nesters but that our kids would still love. I needed a little space for a garden, too! We wanted a house in our community.*

3. Imagine the end. I love this! How will life be when this has happened? What will it feel like. “Assume the feeling” Neville Goddard writes. Fake it ’til you make it.

*That was easy for us! We’d thought a lot about the future home. I could imagine the end result; a feeling of relief, joy and contentment. It would be a gathering place for friends, family and our children’s friends*

4. Make the I AM statement. Don’t make it, “I am going to…”, just “I am..” Say it to yourself as if it’s already happened. Live like it’s your reality.

*After we contacted our neighborhood realtors, we said, “I am moving to the perfect new house” and the wheels of the universe were set in motion.*

5. Now let go… of a timeline, let go of worry and anxiety. Repeat your “I am” statement. Remind yourself that everything is happening as it should.

*We let go of a timeline. We didn’t even have a place picked out. Although I sometimes felt anxious, I just knew that everything was happening as it should.*

6. During those last 5 minutes just before you go to sleep, have positive “I Am” thoughts that will enter your subconscious. Let the good thoughts be the ones you fall asleep with, not the thoughts of what went wrong today.

*The result of our house experience is that our house sold the day after it went on the market. We put letters into mailboxes of houses we wanted in several neighborhoods. One person got back to us and we’re living in that house right now! We feel very lucky – like we won the house lottery!*

So when trying to get what you want out of life, don’t let your thoughts get the best of you. Instead, get the best from your thoughts! Just try this manifesting technique on something small and see what happens. Let me know what comes of it.

What are your manifesting experiences? Please let me know below in the comments!!

A few more quotes from Neville Goddard and Wayne Dyer:

“Disregard appearances, conditions, in fact all evidence of your senses that deny the fulfillment of your desire. Rest in the assumption that you are already what you want to be, for in that determined assumption you and your Infinite Being are merged in creative unity, and with your Infinite Being all things are possible.”
~Neville Goddard

“An awakened imagination works with a purpose. It creates and conserves the desirable, and transforms or destroys the undesirable.”
― Neville Goddard

“Dare to believe in the reality of your assumption and watch the world play its part relative to its fulfillment.”
― Neville Goddard

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”
~Wayne Dyer

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
~Wayne Dyer

PS I’m very proud and humbled to be part of this wonderful group!! Check out all the Top 100 2014 Self Improvement Blogs at the Start of Happiness Blog!
top-100-self-improvement-blog

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Carpe Annum/Seize The Year! 10 Resolutions for 2014

Happy 2014!!

Happy 2014!!


“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~Howard Thurman

Happy 2014!
My theme for 2014 isn’t just Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) but Carpe Annum (Seize the Year)! Rather than pick impossible goals to accomplish, try these new habits to practice. Resolutions like this make you a happier person. And in becoming happier, the people around you will be happier, too.

1. A Balance of Work, Play and Learning
Balance is extremely important for a healthy mind and body. A balance between work, play and learning. It’s a simple idea that is really hard to accomplish at times. What does being balanced mean to me? It means not rushing, feeling grounded, calm and peaceful, and best of all, excited for my day and for just being alive. It’s feeling awake, mindful, receptive and wise. We all have glimpses of balance in life but not usually on a daily basis. What if you could have this feeling nearly everyday?

2. Be Mindful
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose. It’s paying attention without judgment. All five senses become involved. You are more aware of your thoughts. People are often on auto pilot and easily distracted. Mindfulness brings about an awareness, stillness and a feeling of gratitude for your life. Even just a few minutes of mindfulness a day can help.

3. Kindness
Kindness doesn’t have to cost anything. Kindness can be given to those you know with a compliment, a smile, a chore done for someone, a meal or just a listening ear. Kindness creates community and all human beings need to be part of a community to be truly happy. People who are part of a community are healthier and live longer, too. Practice kindness with people you know and those you don’t.

4. Gratitude
Gratitude is thankfulness taken to the next level. It is a heartfelt and intellectual acknowledgement of all that is good in your life. It’s embracing uncertainty and adversity as well as the good times. Try to feel gratitude towards the bad things that have happened to you, knowing that it will lead you to a new opportunity. When you practice gratitude you will find your mood change from good to amazing!

5. Use the “I AM” Affirmation
“I am” affirmations are powerful. “I am” is a positive visualization. You say the affirmation even if it’s the opposite of what you’re thinking. The visualization enters your consciousness and then your subconscious takes charge and transforms you. Your brain believes whatever you tell it! Just say something like, “I am abundance.” And don’t say “I’m going to…” make it a definite “I am”.

6. Love Yourself
Why is it that being grateful for ourselves and giving ourselves affection is so difficult? Why is it that we are always hardest on ourselves? I hear people say, “I don’t like how I look in pictures.” “I wish I was different.” “I am so sorry that I’m bothering you.” So many people apologize all the time when it’s completely unnecessary! When you feel inferior about yourself, you will give others permission to treat you in the same way. You deserve your own affection and that of others.

7. Discover Your Purpose or Passion
Your passion or purpose is the reason you get out of bed in the morning. The Okinawans called it Ikigai which translates to “reason for being”. Do you know what your passion is? If so, make time to practice it this year! If not, take time to listen to your inner self. What is it that you really love? Find the courage to do, first as a hobby and then as a job.

8. Replace Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones
Positive thinking is a state of mind where you change your negative thoughts to positive ones. Negative thoughts can lead to depression, frustration and disappointment. Positive thinking does not mean you avoid unpleasant situations in your life. It means you approach your problems with a different, can-do attitude. Positive thinkers try to see the silver lining in situations and in people.

9. Unconditional love
What is unconditional love? Just that, love without conditions. Unconditional love is letting go of the expectations, tolerating mistakes, being there for conversations, and appreciating differences. The people in your life will flourish with unconditional love. Give unconditional love to people you don’t know. Just send out thoughts of love as you pass someone by in a store. It may sound crazy, but it works. And the amazing thing, as you give out unconditional love, it will come back to you, ten fold!

10. Do something to make other lives better.
You may not realize it but every time you help others, you make your own life more meaningful. Helping others fills your life with purpose. When you help others, you are helping yourself. We are all on this planet together and are all interconnected. True compassion has it’s own reward. As Ghandi wrote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Any more positive resolutions you can think of?
Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to experiencing a great new year with all of you!

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”
~Goran Persson

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Want To Be Happy? Try Gratitude – 7 Ways to Practice Gratitude and Be Happier

Zen Tips Gratitude Beattie

Looking for Happiness?
Of course you are! We all are.
What is the key to finding it?
Could it be gratitude?

Last week for Thanksgiving I posted 21 Gratitude Quotes. It is amazing we have a holiday that is set aside to be thankful for the abundance in our lives. I love Thanksgiving for just that reason. We celebrate family and the things we are thankful for. No craziness, no buying sprees….just gratitude. It’s become my favorite holiday over the last few years. And now, I want to live Thanksgiving everyday!

In 2001, I wanted to experience gratitude. I had been reading The Artist’s Way. I was reading about the many ways to bring abundance into your life. One way was to write in a “gratitude journal”. So, I began to write in one. However, after 2 or 3 weeks I stopped. I kept being grateful for the same things every time I wrote. Even though I was very appreciative and thankful for my life, I didn’t get gratitude quite yet. I wasn’t ready. Next I read Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I just loved this and got a little closer to the meaning of gratitude

So now, years later, I’m contemplating gratitude again. I know it’s easy to feel gratitude when everything is going your way. What is difficult is to find gratitude during the hard times. I’ve had four friends with cancer over the last year. They’ve all felt a huge shift in their lives, more joy and peace and a great appreciation for what they have to lose! I realize that I don’t want to wait for something like cancer to happen or a family tragedy to feel gratitude for the life I have.

Many of us are thankful for the things in our life. Yet, gratitude is much more than being thankful. Thankfulness is an expression of happiness. Being thankful is telling someone you appreciate what they have done. Being thankful is being glad it didn’t rain on picnic day. Being thankful is happiness from a gift.

Gratitude is thankfulness taken to the next level. It is a heart-felt and intellectual acknowledgement of all that is good in your life. It’s embracing uncertainty. To feel gratitude towards the bad things that have happened to us knowing that will lead you a new opportunity.”

In our society we’re taught to concentrate on what we don’t have. I call this “Scarcity Thinking”. Scarcity thinking is the opposite of gratitude. What you think is what you bring into your life. If you think scarcity then you have lack. When you practice gratitude, scarcity thinking disappears. You concentrate on what you do have. Remind yourself that you are not lacking. You have such abundance in your life! Did you know that? I love what Oprah said in a recent life class about scarcity and gratitude: “Focus on the $3 you do have in your wallet instead of focusing on the $50 you don’t have.”

Epictitus Lack:rejoice quote

There are many benefits to practicing gratitude:

• You will experience peace of mind and more optimism, suffer less stress, be more satisfied with life, less materialistic, often feel more spiritual, regardless of religion.

• It’s great for your family or children to see your positive attitude and that you appreciate the little things. Did you know that everyday you’re teaching your children to be good parents? Did you know that they will copy your behavior as adults? A study showed that “children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families” (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008). Last year at our preschool we had “Nice Wednesday” where everyone complimented each other. You should have seen them smile when they got compliments, even though they thought it was like a game. They still felt warm and loved.

• Gratitude is great for all relationships. Feeling gratitude for friends, family or business associates makes your relationship stronger. It may seem like a simple thing but saying thank you really makes everyone feel better! You can be general about your thank you or quite specific.

• There are physical benefits. Grateful people tend to exercise more and experience better health. Author and researcher Dr. Robert Emmons conducted an experimental comparison. Those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)

How does one practice gratitude? It’s a habit like anything else. Just as a negative thoughts can strongly influence your mood, so can a positive feeling of gratitude affect your day.

Here are 7 ways to help you make gratitude a habit:

1. Have a morning gratitude practice before you get out of bed. Begin each thought with the words, “I am…”
• First, start off being thankful for your breath, clean water and shelter. Many of us focus on what we don’t have. This is scarcity thinking. Concentrate on what you do have.
• Next, be grateful for your family and friends. Think of all their wonderful traits. How do they make you smile? What are the little things they do for you? What can you do for them?
• Next have gratitude for the little things like the blue sky, hot coffee, clothes. Be mindful of all the little things around you, in nature, like a spider’s web or a warm blanket. Then be grateful for the big things, your health!

2. Learn to identify ungrateful thoughts. Those thoughts might be: “I don’t deserve this.” “What went wrong?” “I’m not appreciated.” “No one helps me around here.” “Why is she so lucky?” Replace those thoughts when they appear. Count your blessings. You can’t be envious or angry when you are thinking grateful thoughts.

3. Write in a gratitude journal. Write three to five things a day that you’re grateful for using mindfulness as a tool.

4. Find time to inspire yourself. It can be quotes, inspiratioinal facebook pages, a video or a book of poetry. Just find at least a few minutes a day to be inspired. Click here to check out my daily Zen Tip on Facebook.

ganasha coffee machine5. Have a Talisman, a little statue or charm that reminds you to be grateful. I have a small Ganasha that I found in Thailand that I keep by the coffee machine. Ganasha is the Hindu god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles. Each morning as I make coffee or at night when I cook, the little statue reminds me to take stock and be grateful and know anything is possible.

6. Bring gratitude to the dinner table. Have each family member say something that they are grateful for. We asked our kids to say one thing good that happened that day.

7. Now the most difficult part. Can you have gratitude for the difficulties in life? We all hear about people who eventually feel gratitude for tragedy like cancer in their lives because it’s made them look at life differently. Can you try to feel it about the little things like traffic, bad weather or big things like financial or health problems?

Have fun with it! Gratitude is such a positive emotion. It will seep into all areas of your life. I feel great gratitude for all of you readers out there! Thanks for being part of my dream to be a writer and to help others.

One last quote that sums it all up, sent to me by my friend, Galen Pearl:
“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”
~Albert Clarke

What do you feel gratitude for? How do you experience it? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Please watch this wonderful TED video on Gratitude. You won’t be the same after Louis Schwartzberg’s beautiful images and Brother David Steindl-Rast’s narration.

Click on these images if you’re interested in these books:

Interested in my books for the holiday season? Please email me directly at thezenmama@gmail.com to get a $10/book deal plus free shipping!

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The Zen Mama’s Cyber Monday…. My Recommendations for Holiday Reading!

Paradise:libraryI love to give books to friends and family for the holidays.

It’s because I love to read so much! For me it’s like a form of meditation, clearing my head. You can learn, laugh and even find yourself in a book. Each one is like a mirror showing you a piece of your soul. So many books have affected and changed me.

Over the years I’ve come across some great books! Here are just a few I’d love to pass on the recommendations (click on the book cover or link to lead you to Amazon or the book):

Books For Fun
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Maryann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Stones by the River by Ursula Helgi

Welcome to the World Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg

Books For Parents
Mitten Strings From God by Katrina Kennison

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff With Your Family by Richard Carlson

Love and Logic by Foster Kline, M.D. and Jim Fay

Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

Books for inspiration

Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow

Real Magicby Wayne Dyer

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

From my favorite bloggers

Alex Blackwell of The Bridgemaker has a new book, Letting Go – 25 Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender.

Angela Artemis of Powered by Intuition has a 14 Guided Meditation: click here for more information.
“>Angela's link

Tess from The Bold Life has a course, Click here to see more of The Bold & Courageous Mastermind Inner Circle.
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Fran Sorin of Fran Sorin.com has a book, Digging Deep, Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.

Cathy Taughinbaugh from CathyTaughinbaugh.com has an audio book: 4 Giant Pitfalls to Avoid When Your Child is in Recovery.
4GiantPitfalls.200

Victor Schueller of Victor Schueller.com has a book, Mediocre No More.

Lastly check out my books at the Zen Mama’s Bookstore and at Amazon!!
My Books!

What is your favorite book?? Please let me know in the comment space below!

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Posted in Book Review, Positve Thought | Tagged , , | 18 Comments