Helpful wisdom, compassion and care for you

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Unforgettable: Hugging Meditation

Hugging Meditation - Love Jo

Among the many beautiful and practical teachings of the venerable Thich Nhat Hahn, an all-time favorite of mine is Hugging Meditation.

When I first learned about this, I was a mother with 3 little boys, running her own business, cooking, and caring for her family. It was, let’s face it, hectic! I loved listening to cassette tapes of Thich Nhat Hahn, and one of the segments was on Hugging Meditation. He said something along the lines of, when you hug your child don’t do it half-heartedly, thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner or worrying over the call you have to make in an hour. Be fully present to your child and do it with your whole heart.

A week of giving thanks

A week of giving thanks - Love Jo

Most of my close relatives, including two of my three children and myself, were born in November or December. The holidays used to come at us like a tsunami, starting with my father-in-law on November 7 and ending with New Year’s Eve, right after my son Ian’s birthday on December 28. It was a marathon, a test of endurance, one festive feast (8 all together) after another, a muscular demonstration of our love for one another. Whew!

More awareness, less fear

More awareness, less fear - Love Jo

The more aware and observant we become; the more we sense our feelings in our bodies, rather than our minds; the more curious we become about what’s actually happening, as opposed to reacting automatically according to our default patterns and fears — the more at ease we become. The more room we create. The more time we have to listen before we respond. We can look to see, what’s good here? What’s a way in which I can be helpful?

When we look to see what’s really going on, we learn so much!

She Let Go

Photo Credit - Etienne Boulanger

My friend Maria quoted from this poem in meditation class some months ago. Every so often I listen to a recording and to the sweet, wry, hopeful words of the poet, and I remind myself that it’s fine to just… let go.

The death of a squirrel

The death of a squirrel - Love Jo

Today when I went for my afternoon walk, it was later than usual. I could have heeded the little voice in my head saying, It’s late… you could just skip it… But I didn’t, and went out into the warm early evening, along the sidewalk dotted with brilliant sugar maple leaves, my heart full of joy…  at being alive!

Being alive is not something you take for granted when you’ve had a couple of life-threatening scares. It’s the silver lining of scary experiences. And it turns out that it’s quite marvelous, one might also say worth it, when your default mode is one of gratitude. Gratitude is a magical frame of mind that can eclipse almost every other. If you feel sad, gratitude can bring you to contentment. If you feel cranky, gratitude can bring you to… contentment! Come to think of it, gratitude is the essence of my daily walks; letting go all thoughts and worries, letting stresses flow off my mind and body like water, and simply being present and grateful for all I see. Delicious!

Living in the smallest slice of now

Photo Credit - Autumn Mott

As we know, life’s challenges can quickly overwhelm. A diagnosis. A disaster, natural or manmade. A death. A divorce. (Now I’m just getting tickled by how many “D’s” for disasters there are.) You get the picture.

We know so well the clenched stomach, the tensed jaw, the fierce inner focus, the search for solutions. There’s got to be a way, an answer, some logical plan. But… what if there’s not?

What if we just take a breath?

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