Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Year of Auspiciousness

Auspicious:  showing or suggesting that future success is likely; attended by good fortune; favorable.

I've always liked 25 cent words (you know, the big ones), and auspiciousness definitely falls into that category.  Love it.  So, why don't we just go ahead and declare this to be The Year of Auspiciousness?  Who can stop us?  Are you with me?

Here's my Auspiciousness Plan:
1.  Keep meditating and Happy Dancing and whatever-ing in the face of any adversity, as much as possible.
2.  Make lots of fun and exciting goals and plans, and simultaneously do my best to give up any need for them to actually happen the way I think they should.  Enjoy the daydreaming; no attachment to outcome.
3.  Remember that the better I feel, the better everyone around me will feel.  I am not doing anyone any favors by suffering.
4.  Keep planting seeds in my own particular way, and encourage others to do so also.
5.  Remember that Everything is Always Working Out, despite how things might temporarily appear, and there is no logical reason for me to assume otherwise.
6.  Eat more leafy green vegetables and escalate my love affair with avocados.  
7.  Remember that I always, always get what I expect.  Practice expecting Extreme Auspiciousness.

Uh oh -- this looks suspiciously like a New Years Resolution List, doesn't it?  And we all know how deadly those can be!  This might be different though, because it's fairly simple, and I'm already somewhat good at doing most of it.  (Although there's always room for more kale.)  Frankly, I think this list is a darned good recipe for -- hey, a Year of Auspiciousness!  Woo hoo! Think I'll throw in a little extra spinach and collard greens for good measure.  And another Happy Dance.  Just in case.

I am wishing everyone a year in which you take some Small Steps toward some Big Dreams!  And let's make the most we can of all the little moments in between, because I suspect that that is what Big Dreams are made of.  Here's to blooming for our own benefit, and therefore for the benefit of everyone else.

And please join me for Adventures in Meditation on Thursday nights from 7-8 pm, at the Shoreline Center for Wholistic Health, 35 Boston St., in Guilford, if you're inclined.  I'm getting pretty darned charged up about it!  Drop in any time.
Auspiciously yours,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What If?

A moment of respite from the impending holiday season.

What if?  One of my favorite questions.  The point being, how often do we ask ourselves "What if", to the negative?

For example:
What if this doesn't go well today?  What if I'm unhappy?  What if something is wrong?  What if they don't like me?  What if it rains?  What if I don't do it right?  What if I can't find a parking space?  What if my partner is in a bad mood?  What if I'm late?  What if every worst case scenario that I can think of actually happens?  (Gotta love the last one.)

If you claim to never think of any of the above, I'm certain that you are either a saint, or you are dead.  Let's just go on the premise that we are all our own worst enemies, and probably think this way far more than we even realize (or would ever admit).  For example, I've noticed that I do this while driving, to a crazy degree.  I constantly anticipate that people will cut me off, drive too slow, endanger me in some way -- that generally speaking, everyone is my adversary on the highway.  

Now, what in the name of Mary Poppins is the point of thinking this way?  Can I seriously consider that something good is going to come of it?  Well, whether you're looking at it scientifically or spiritually, the laws of physics would indicate a big fat NO, in answer to that question!  Like attracts like.  Therefore, why do we want to spend any more of our precious time What If-ing to the negative?

First of all, it feels terrible, yes?  And the bottom line is, when you feel terrible, you cannot be at your best, and you cannot connect with the good in the world.  Second of all, we are not doomed to this thinking.  Hallelujah!  It's simply bad training.  It doesn't matter why or how we started thinking like this, so much of the time.  The point is that you can take back that time, little by little, and retrain yourself.  Why couldn't we ask ourselves, "What if", to the positive?  

For example:
What if I have a great time?  What if they love it?  What if I'm there at just the right moment?  What if everything's fine?  What if it's even better than I thought?  What if s/he is in a great mood?  What if EVERYTHING IS WORKING OUT FOR ME?!

Synopsis of this column:  You get what you expect, so be darned careful what you expect.

Thanks to my lovie friend, Lori Blackwell, for planting the seed of What if.  Please watch her uplifting youtube video of her wonderful song,  Got Hope?   This is one of the songs that I do my Happy Dance to.

One last thought -- What if this holiday season was relaxing and peaceful and filled with fabulous people and inspiring moments?  What if I could really eat my weight in chocolate?  Aahhhh, I guess that's going a little too far, eh?

Love & hugs from under the hairdryer (my winter alternative to the hammock),

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Flying Dreams

Everyone has them in some form or another, right?  I don't know what your flying dreams look like to you, but here's what I remember about mine.

I've been having lucid flying dreams ever since I can remember (meaning that I know that I'm asleep while it's happening).  Over the decades, they've progressed and changed quite dramatically.  I used to just use dream flying as an escape from something bad or scary, and it always involved a lot of flapping and physical effort.  It was exhausting!  Gradually, I progressed to less effort-ful flying, and would fly just for fun.  

I remember one dream in particular, where I flew way out into space and was looking back at the planet, and I just started dancing and floating and zooming around, totally happy and blissed out.  After this, I started having dreams about being able to go through walls and objects at will.  Once I dreamed that I very purposely put my hand right through a rock.  In the dream, I had a complete understanding of how I had to feel and what I had to think in order to do it.  And the flying dreams progressed the same way, to the point where I now know exactly the feeling that I have to feel in order to just take off, completely effortlessly and totally happy.

So, that's really great and all, but what the heck does it have to do with anything?  I've read dream interpretation books over the years, but no explanation ever really rang a bell with me about this.  I know they are not 'just dreams'.  But what does this have to do with my waking life?  It seems INCREDIBLY important while I'm asleep, and I have a very strong sense of needing to practice this over and over and over -- but WHY?  I could never quite make sense of it, and I felt a little sad that I didn't know how to bring that fabulous feeling of flying into my 'real' life.

Well, isn't it amazing how we receive answers when we aren't really looking for them?  The other morning (the morning after I gave my yippy skippy Happiness Club talk -- thanks to the 99 of you that came, woo hoo!) I was woken up by my darling doggy right at the point where I was about to just take off and fly.  I still had the feeling of it as I was lying there being mauled and licked by Lizzie.  And I realized, OH, THIS IS WHY I DREAM THESE DREAMS!  I am indeed practicing!  Not to actually fly or walk through a wall, but to bring that feeling into my everyday life as much as I can ...

...And what exactly is that feeling, the feeling of flying?  The way I see it right now, it's a feeling of complete and total absence of any resistance.  A complete letting go.  No effort to control or direct.  An utter relaxation of body, mind and spirit.  Total trust.  Knowing that everything is always working out.  And why do I want to feel that way?  1.  It feels utterly fabulous.  2.  It is a clear connection to my Best Self (which I can then, hopefully, share).  That seems like a good place to start!

I guess I'll see you in my dreams ... hee hee!  Please feel free to share any flying dream stories with me!

Hugs from the hammock (we've moved it into the barn for the winter),

p.s.  Now that I've been bitten by the Speaking Bug, please let me know if you have a  business or school or group of any kind that might like to hear my Five Minutes to a Better World talk.  IT'S FUN!  And it's free!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Makin' It Up

Okay, so we all love our traditions and organizations and practices and methods and habits and rituals.  We love our yoga, tai chi, meditation, running, swimming, hiking, Christianity, Buddhism (and every other known formal religion), dancing, singing, writing and creating on any and all levels, in all of their many variations.   And whatever else you'd like to fondly throw in there.

Here's a thought that I find myself coming back to all the time:  At some point, whether it was last week, last year, or a thousand years ago -- someone made it up!  A person, just like you and me, 'made up' the information or practice or belief system or creative process.  (Sorry if this sounds childlike and simplistic!  But I guess it is!)  Yes, this information likely came to them during a highly inspired time.  (Or maybe not, maybe they were just minding their own business, and ... boom!)  Still, is there any reason to think that we ourselves cannot listen to our tiny little (possibly) neglected Inner Voices and follow our own instincts, too?

I love habits and practices.  I enthusiastically practice yoga, tai chi, and am a reflexologist.  All of those require an attention to detail, some level of study, and a desire to follow the prescribed form.  And still, I always think, kind of excitedly, "Wow, someone just MADE THIS UP!"  This thought can be applied to anything, from religion to exercise to art to music to ... fill in the blank.

What does this mean (and why on earth does it matter)?  For one thing, I think that the practices developed by others are, on a deep level, for THEM, and are perfect for THEM -- and it may also be perfect for you, and often is ... but perhaps not.  In which case, is it not absolutely fine to just take the parts that suit you and assimilate them into the wonderful, unique thing that is Your Life, and move forward?  And sometimes, maybe when the moon is full and you've eaten too much chocolate, sometimes you might even go so far as to Make Up Your Own Stuff?  From music to meditating, from cooking to Christianity, from hiking to haiku -- what if we all gave some air time to our tiny little (possibly) neglected Inner Voices, and just Made It Up -- a habit, a practice, a life system, a creative process, big or small -- for our own pleasure and benefit?  And then maybe there just might come the perfect time to share Your Thing That You Made Up with someone else.  And it might be perfect for them, too -- or it might just plant a seed of an idea, and they can take what they like and make up their own stuff.  Hmmmm.  I like the sound of this.  

Please note!  For those of you who are still dying to hear me speak about meditation and all this good stuff, I've been happily rescheduled for Happiness Club on Wed. Oct. 26th at 7 pm, at the Scranton Library in Madison.  See you there!!

Love from the hammock (with a fleece blankie),

Friday, September 2, 2011

On Being in Love

A Column of Distraction from Whatever You May Have Experienced with Irene.

A few weeks ago, I was filling up my car at the gas station.  While standing there, I noticed a young guy, about 28, filling up his car across from me.  He was animatedly talking on the phone, with a super smug, smirky look on his face – a look that I quickly realized was The Look of Love.  Young Guy was talking to his New Love on the phone – I could just see it hanging all over him, like Christmas lights.  He was aglow and afire! 

Right then and there, I just said to myself “I want to feel like that RIGHT NOW.”  I mean, what feels better than that? (Disclaimer:  my husband is a lovey – and we’ve been together long enough that it’s not quite ‘like that’ anymore!)  So there I am, pumping gas, just idly looking off to the side and feeling totally, completely, utterly crazy in love.  Champagne-in-the-veins in love.  Not with anyone or anything specifically, I just let myself feel like I was … IN LOVE.  A few minutes went by, pumping my gas, and I’m just standing there, probably with that same smug, smirky, outrageous look on my face for no good reason at all – and then I looked up.  Another young man, Young Guy’s friend, was walking straight toward me, on his way back to their car.  He looked at me in a most engaging and direct way and said  “Well, hi, how are YOU today?” 

I must have turned ten shades of red (not unusual for me, admittedly).  I felt like I was just caught with my pants down in the middle of the town square!!  I mumbled a reply and raced off in my car, simultaneously laughing and mortified.  After the fact, I had this funny vision in my head of how my energy might have ‘looked’ at that moment at the gas station – and it was probably similar to sending up a flare or turning on a giant spotlight!  Whatever I was doing, it was really obvious to me that it was highly perceptible by others on the same wavelength. 

And what is the world really made of but finding things to be in love with?  And why can’t we just be ‘in love’, without a specific object or person to aim those feelings toward?  And if we can do that, shouldn’t we?  Couldn’t we just stop at any point in our day and feel … in love?  No matter what was going on?  And wouldn’t that add something beautiful to your world and the world around you?  Just a thought.

So, for no reason at all, turn on your spotlight, send up a flare.  It will be seen and received somewhere.  And it WILL come back to you!

Note:  For those of you who were dying to hear me speak at Happiness Club on August 31st, apparently Mother Nature had different plans.  I will be rescheduled soon, at exactly the right time, no doubt, and will keep you posted!

p.s.  Thanks to Young Guy #1 and #2. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Making the Decision to be Happy

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’ll get a lot of flack for this one.  However, before you drag me off to be tarred and feathered as a lunatic, hear me out.  Please keep in mind that I, like you, have plenty of stories -- of pain, of tragedy, of upset, of wounds of all sorts.  I’ve been on and off the Pollyanna wagon my whole life.  We all have those stories.  And they are true!  We all have lots of reasons and evidence as to why we were unhappy, and why we will very likely stay unhappy, if we want to look for trouble.  The fact remains, ‘trouble’ will always show up, in some way.  Life is bumpy and wiggly, not neat and straight.  We have no choice about what goes on around us (although we can certainly influence it), but we do have a choice about how we react to everything, big and small,  that comes our way.

So, isn’t that good news?  You may not be able to change the way things are looking to you outwardly right now, but you can change the inner view.  In June, I heard Lionel Ketchian speak at the Happiness Club in Madison.  (Lionel is the founder of the Happiness Club, a free club with over 80 chapters world wide featuring different monthly speakers.)  Anyhow, hearing him speak seems to have clicked on yet another lightbulb, lighting my way to feeling really great, more of the time, for no particular reason.  
Lionel describes Happiness as a decision that he made.  That’s right, a decision; not something that comes to you from the outside, through people and actions and events.  Now, I thought I really knew that already, but I left that meeting with a new habit:  
Every time something is happening around me that I don’t like, or I don’t feel so great, or I’m brooding about something dumb and pointless and negative, I try to catch myself and say “Oh yeah, I forgot that I’ve decided to be happy no matter what!”  And I reset and refocus.
Does this sound simplistic?  It is.  Is it unrealistic?  No more than anything else.  Does it necessarily change outer circumstances?  No, but meanwhile, I get to feel okay no matter what (and then I find that circumstances ‘shift’ to match my feelings).  So -- the penalty for doing this is -- that I get to feel happy pretty much all the time, except for those ‘reset’ moments?  Hmmm, my price to pay for being happy is... being more happy.  I know, I know, this sounds like a trick.  
Still, think about it.  You can apply this to anything.  Let’s say you hate your job, your boss, your neighbor.  The next time you find yourself reacting, what if you stop and say “Oh yeah, I forgot that I decided to be happy no matter what!”  And you smile a little smile and go on your way.  Let’s say you are dealing with something truly catastrophic -- illness, natural disaster, financial ruin -- does the circumstance really have to dictate how you feel?  What if by doing this regularly, no matter what comes our way, we retrain our basic level of feeling to feeling more or less happy?  And what if by doing this persistently, you were able to eventually affect change outside of yourself, without stressful struggling?  And meanwhile, you got to feel good, no matter what?
OK, string me up if you like.  I am finding this to be more true, every day, and it’s pretty darned exciting.  And certainly, far less tiring.  
Oh -- and I’ll be speaking about all of this stuff at the Happiness Club in Madison, on Wed. Aug. 31st at 7 p.m., at the Madison Public Library.  Please come, it will be fun!!  Admission is free!
Love from In the Hammock (and I’m not coming out),

Monday, July 4, 2011

Feel better, now! No, really!

Happy summer!  Here are a few amusing but useful ideas for feeling better than you normally might, in any given situation:

Smiling.  Do it.  All the time.  Fake smiling actually triggers endorphins to be released throughout your body, which really, truly make you feel MUCH better, with no outward changes required.  Just smile.  The rest of you will soon catch up.    

Laughing.  I laugh at everything and everyone, including myself, as much as possible.  This is primarily nice laughing, not snide laughing, hopefully.  I once was nearly fired from a job in a doctor’s office for laughing too loudly.  The doctor felt that I was not serious enough and might be upsetting his patients.  It was a gastroenterology practice, and frankly, I’m quite confident that all of those people in the waiting room with diarrhea, constipation, liver disease, polyps, fistulas, and Lord knows what else could have definitely benefitted from a good laugh or at least a smile.  
Cursing.  There are those who would argue bitterly against this.  Thanks to my husband, I have become a big proponent of Selective Swearing in Order to Lighten a Situation.  Of course, I prefer swearing in exuberance over swearing in anger or annoyance (in a perfect world).  Creative swearing such as “Holy Mother of God in a sidecar, how did that happen?” can immediately change a stupid or embarrassing or upsetting or irritating event into something to laugh at.  Try it.
Talk in Funny Accents.  I cannot stress this enough.  I feel fortunate that my husband, my son and I have developed a really dopey accent that we speak to each other in.  It is it’s own accent, not particularly identifiable, but it is contagious and we find that our friends and colleagues slip into it also now and then, which is very rewarding.  It is especially important to speak in a silly accent when an argument is brewing, when you’ve done something really terrible and have to inform someone about it, when you need help doing an unpleasant job, when you want something important that you are afraid to ask for ... you get the idea.
Skip, Gallop, Jump or Flap Your Hands Vigorously.  This is self-explanatory.  I would like to thank my grown son for bringing this to my attention.  Sadly, this is a Happy Outlet that most adults have forgotten.  Try galloping down the hallway.  Now.  (No, I mean really do it.) Now don’t you feel better?  And the next time you feel really crazy and hectic and stressed out, try pretending you are six years old and just flap your hands like mad in the air, like a crazy chicken.  You will immediately feel a giant release of yucky energy, and you will also feel like.... you are six.  This is a good thing.  Watch children, they’ve got the Happy Outlet concept down pat.
Singing Aimlessly/Humming Tunelessly.  Singing of any kind is uplifting, period.  My son recommends tuneless humming and I must agree; it makes you feel child-like and silly and nice.  Goes well with skipping and galloping. 
Improve Your Posture.  Good posture is not just something invented by our parents to make us feel bad about ourselves.  When you put your shoulders back, the world will change.  This happens for two reasons:  (1) You actually feel better.  When you scrunch and hunch over, you are messing with your energy flow.  This is physics.  (2) The world sees you differently and responds accordingly.  A person with excellent posture, shoulders back, says to the world, I am healthy, confident and happy!  Yippee!  And as we all know, like attracts like.  Try this for one whole day, and see if you don’t feel that the world is responding to you just a little more positively.  IT’S PHYSICS.
Do Anything That Makes You Forget What Time it is.  This is the ultimate Happy Outlet.  This is when you are in your Element, following your calling, whatever you may call it.  This may occur while doing anything creative or artistically oriented, while exercising, parenting, gardening, fixing your car, vacuuming, anything.  It is important that you take note of the various things that you do during which time you completely forget to look at the clock, and when you do, you can’t believe how much time has passed!  Identify these things, and make every effort to incorporate them into your daily life as much as possible.  The Universe is calling you.  Answer the phone today, you know what I mean?
With a little persistence and training, we can feel better more of the time.  And everyone benefits from that, right?  Now, stand up straight and put a smile on it.  That’s an order. 
Love, MJ

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Merits of White Noise

Spring-y greetings to all!  That said, I’ll get right down to it; I love white noise. White noise is defined as a heterogeneous mixture of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range; a constant background noise; especially one that drowns out other sounds.

I’ve always had a kind of weird obsession with white noise.  I remember being two or three and following my mother around while she was vacuuming, and I would lie down on the floor next to the vacuum, contented, relaxed -- happier than a pig in you know what.  I loved it without having any idea why.  Since then, I’ve learned that the sound of a vacuum closely resembles the sound that we hear when we are babies in the womb.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Before long, I graduated to hairdryers.  This was before hand-held hairdryers; we had a hard-top hairdryer that you had to sit under.  You know, the kind that looks like an egg.  At first I just washed and dried my hair a lot, but after a while I just stopped pretending I was doing anything other than just sitting under there.  I’d read, write, draw, do my nails, nap … and I had some really, really dry hair.  This persisted to adulthood, and I still have a hooded hairdryer that I use.  I’ve done some really creative things under there, too – created entire business plans!  I’ve written entire books (which are, granted, as of yet, unpublished)!  Amazing things can happen when you manage to block out the noise of the world for a few minutes.  

These days, I’ve decided to spare my hair, the electric bill and my husband’s ears by listening to white noise on my iPod most of the time.  My current favorite is a recording called Autumn Winds, which I found on a site called  It’s one solid hour of actual wind sounds from a forest in northern Canada.  The site also has the sounds of storms, brooks, waves, air conditioners, frogs, birds, and yes, even vacuum cleaners (but no hair dryers). 

The reason I bring this up is that white noise can be incredibly soothing.  It can help you sleep more peacefully; meditate more easily; turn your mind off and relax in general.  It’s a super simple way to turn off all that noise in your mind that gets between you and your Best Self.  And heaven knows, when your Best Self gets to come out and play more often, amazing things start to happen in your life.

So if you are feeling drained, exasperated, irritated, irrational, or like you just might be losing your mind, give this a try.  And if you already have a closeted white noise habit, bring it out in the open!  I can now sit happily in the same room with my husband, the dog, my son, the parakeet – and with Autumn Winds in my ears, I can tune it all out and happily write my columns while giving the appearance of being sociable!  Ah, yes, life is good. 

Hugs from the hammock!
p.s.  I’m happy to announce that my excellent husband gave me a hammock for our anniversary!  Yippee!  

Monday, May 9, 2011

The New Moon Ritual

I don’t know about you, but I like rituals. They’re comforting. A ritual could be anything, from the way you brush your teeth -- to walking with your dog in the same pretty spot -- to holiday traditions. The great thing is, just like many of the habits and meditations I’ve written about, we can make up our own rituals and share them.

Here is a ritual that I made up, called The New Moon Ritual. I’ve heard that the new moon is a good time to plant ‘the seeds of change’ – and at the time when I first did this, about 16 years ago, I was trying to catch up with some big changes that had happened to me. You know, divorce, no money, no job, that sort of fun stuff. This was my effort to somehow bring myself to a centered place of calm, and also to ask for some sort of help. (and help came in such an outrageous way, you wouldn’t even believe it!!) Obviously, you could also do it on the full moon, or any old time you like.

So, get out the candles and let’s go! You’ll need seven candles. Rainbow colored ones are great. I happen to have rainbow colored glass candle holders, which works out well – or you can simply put a different colored piece of paper under each candle, or a colored stone next to it – use your imagination. Anything to distinguish them, so you have red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and white.

The Basic Ritual: Set up your candles in a circle on the table or floor. Light them. Settle yourself in, do some deep breathing, a minute of quiet, whatever centers you. When you feel yourself in a calm, slow, nice place, focus on each candle individually, one after another, blowing each one out after you say the following:

Red – I affirm my ability to love and be loved.
Orange – I affirm my sensual nature and my ability to allow abundance.
Yellow – I affirm my ability to teach and to learn.
Green – I affirm my ability to heal and be healed.
Blue – I affirm my ability to listen and communicate.
Purple – I affirm my spiritual nature. I affirm that I am walking a path of wisdom.
White – I affirm the Divine. I affirm the Divine within me.

Again, you can make up whatever feels right, but this is a good place to start! Follow with a short meditation or prayer or specific affirmations.

Have a wonderful month and join me in trying to remember that we are our own best counsel. Let’s follow those gut instincts for our own well-being – and I’ll see you in the hammock soon.

Love, MJ

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Best You've Ever Felt: Using Visual Cues

Think of a time when you were feeling the happiest you can remember. Falling in love, hiking, a child being born, listening to music, hang gliding, making art, getting a job you LOVED, any epiphany you’ve ever had … anything that made you jumping-up-and-down-yes-yes-yes-happy. Crying happy. Let yourself revisit that time for a few moments.

Got it? Okay, now without thinking too hard, choose an appealing visual cue to go with it. (You can always change this later on, if you like.) A tiny sticker, a rhinestone, a small piece of colored paper cut into a shape, even just a tiny dot of paint or nail polish. Whatever your visual cue is, place it everywhere you can – tape or glue it on your computer, next to the sink, on the bathroom mirror, your phone, the rear view mirror – anywhere that you are frequently looking.

Now here’s the easy (and best) part; every time you see this visual cue, stop and let yourself feel the incredible happiness of that moment again, for 10 or 15 seconds (or as long as you can).

Now, why in heck should we do such a thing? Two simple reasons: 1. You will feel and bring that same happiness into the present moment. 2. You are practicing yourself into repeated alignment with your highest dreams and desires. And the reason it feels so good is because you are, at those moments, totally connected to the Real You, with no outside interference. And practice is all it takes. And don’t try to tell me you don’t have 10 seconds to do this!

Another adventure in visual cues (try to contain your excitement): In recent months, I had found myself worrying about some family members even more than usual … and we all know how helpful worrying is, don’t we? I recently read a quote to the effect of “worrying is using your imagination to create something you do not want”. Whoa, how true is that!

So, in the interest of refocusing and not worrying, I came up with another visual cue. I made a little doohickey out of some beads and wire – it has a turquoise bead for one person, and a little ceramic sunflower for the other – and I attached it to my keychain. Now every time I unlock my door or start my car, I see the beads and I think “D. is transforming” and “A. is happy and well.”

No, we can’t control the actions or behaviors of other people in any way, but the way that we think of them does influence them positively or negatively. And, it makes me feel better. Since there is no point or good outcome to focusing on the shortcomings of those around us (despite how very right we may be), it feels like a big relief to me to just briefly think, “Oh yeah, D. is transforming!” and try to leave it at that, knowing that I’m at the very least not throwing a negative expectation their way. All I know is, it feels way better than worrying. Let me know how it goes!

Sending hugs from the hammock –

Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm right here, sweetheart ...

... and of course, I’m lined right up to share yet another Happy Habit. It’s called “I’m right here, sweetheart”. (No, that is not a misprint!) This isn't a meditation, it’s more of a ... Moment of Redirection. It only takes a few seconds, and I tell you, it always makes me feel better, despite whatever might be going on in front of me (or in my head).

First, think of someone that you find extremely comforting, loving and non-judgmental. This could be a person you know, live or dead; it could be a historical or fictional figure. In other words, it could be Winnie the Pooh, Jesus, your best friend, Buddha, Batman, your dead grandmother, Oprah or your dog. It could be an angel or fairy or however you picture your higher self. Whoever you choose, it should be someone that makes you feel warm and cozy and safe and accepted when you think of them. (I have a friend who would seriously pick Batman. I’m not kidding.)

So, let’s say you’re having a moment. A very unpleasant moment. You feel stressed, or angry, or unconfident, or sad, or confused. Now, just close your eyes and take a deep breath and stop. Imagine the person you’ve chosen. As vividly as you can, imagine them coming right up behind you and wrapping their arms around you. And now they rest their head gently on your shoulder and whisper in your ear, “I’m right here, sweetheart”. Take another deep breath. Don’t forget the “sweetheart”; it’s the best part.

That’s it. I find that this can really push a ‘reset’ button for me in a big way when I’m off kilter for any reason. I remember … oh yeah, I’m really not alone! And I’m okay no matter what’s going on! Which is a good thing to remember at any given moment, I’d say.

Happy March! Please feel free to comment, or write to me at Keep practicing, whatever your practice is. I’ll see you in the hammock!

Love, MJ

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gettin' in the hammock ...

Greetings! And welcome to my monthly column. Yay! Those of you who are familiar with me are well aware that I am usually a veritable font of endless suggestions of ways to make yourself feel better (and therefore improve everything around you). Now, I admit that this may be an annoying attribute at times, however, taken in small doses and at the right moment, it can actually be quite helpful! My intent here is to put forth a Habit of the Month – and we’ll see what happens!

First, a brief lecture as to why we should develop Habits. (Please picture Pollyanna up on her soapbox for this part.) The fact is that we are full of Habits; some are to our benefit, some are not. The more Habits we can develop on the plus side, the better. The intent behind these Happy Habits is to distract us thoroughly from the usual nattering garbage that goes on in our minds much of the time. And after just a little while of employing these Persistent Happy Habits, life starts to look pretty darned good most of the time. Take heart, we are retraining ourselves!

Okay, end of lecture. On to the first Habit! In honor of the name of this column, our Habit for this month shall be ... Gettin' In the Hammock. This is from a meditation that I accidentally made up recently, which I began by closing my eyes and imagining that I was in a hammock swinging gently back and forth, staring at the clouds. I mean, seriously, what could be more relaxing than actually doing that? This has graduated to a hammock made of stars – well, more like Christmas lights, really. And I’m just swinging back and forth, smiling … then I add in my husband … my kids … my dog … my friends … people I’m mad at … then sometimes we all start singing ‘Aaaaaaaah’ or something pleasant, and everyone is smiling and being their Best Selves.

Try it! Make up your own variations. Give it five minutes a day. Check in with me next month. And meanwhile, if someone is being unpleasant with you … close your eyes and put ‘em in the hammock. Please feel free to send me your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints. On second thought, forget the complaints.

Love, MJ