Peace is Within – Hallelujah!

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – Meister Eckhart

Thank you!!!

Expressing gratitude really feels good.  So does receiving thanks.  Win / Win!

It’s amazing how easily we can go around looking for Peace and Happiness in the attainment of physical objects or the experiencing of certain events or people.  In reality, any peace or happiness we experience is entirely within ourselves – it does not exist in anything external.

In the morning and at night when I spend time being grateful for all the wonderful people in my life, I notice that just thinking about these people brings me great joy.  For the people to be present in my thoughts is enough for me to experience the love they emanate. Not to say I don’t also thoroughly enjoy being with them, I just also find it amazing that we can enjoy the presence and peace of other people simply by thinking about them.

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I am most grateful for the opportunities provided for me in my life.  I know that I’ve been incredibly blessed, and recently I’ve come to more fully live in the truth that Peace, Love, Joy, Happiness, Freedom – all of that is Within.  What a Gift!

From connecting with this Gift Within, I sometimes wonder – what now?  If I can have Peace and Love and Happiness now…why don’t I just sit here?  Over the past few months of my experience of living without money, I’ve considered what is the ideal life quite a bit.  For much of the time I thought the ultimate ideal was a life completely in meditation, sitting meditation at that.  Meditation, for me, is that experience of deep connection with the Universe, with Creation, with Divinity – it is like entering a state of complete connection and harmony with the Peace that dwells Within.

Thankfully, I’ve come to realize that connecting completely with the Infinite Goodness and Beauty Within and throughout Creation does not require me to sit completely still.  It might be a little harder to maintain the focus and connection, but I can actually move throughout the world in meditation.  A sitting meditation actually serves to guide me to meditation in action.

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And now as I sit looking through a book my mom let me borrow, “One Minute Wisdom” by Anthony de Mello, I found a passage that’s quite relevant…not the one I was looking for but it is certainly worth sharing:

A disciple fell asleep and dreamed that he had entered Paradise. To his astonishment, he found his Master and the other disciples sitting there, absorbed in meditation.

Is this the reward of Paradise?” he cried.  “Why, this is exactly the sort of thing we did on earth!”

He heard a Voice exclaim, “Fool!  You think those meditators are in Paradise?  It is just the opposite — Paradise is in the meditators.”

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Happy Day 🙂

Optimizing the Health of the Human Body, that is, Humanity

Health is pretty cool.  I also find that the healthier I am, the cooler I think I am too.  Being healthy is cool, right?  Taking care of our physical bodies is awesome!  Eating healthy foods, exercising, and sleeping in a responsible way are fundamental to good health.  Simple choices we make on a daily basis can do wonders to increase our energy that we may then harness to go forth and do whatever we love to do!

What is Exercise?  How do we Exercise?

Eating healthy foods and exercising is definitely a good start to achieving optimum physical health.  Exercise, however, is a vague term which I think can be expanded on.  Most people know about the differences between lifting weights and cardiovascular workouts like walking, running, or bicycling.  Both types of workouts seem to be good in moderation.

Recently, I’ve embarked on a journey of exploring other ways to optimize not just physical health, but also mental and spiritual health.  Here are a few of the other not-so-common “exercises” I do that bring me lots of energy.

1. Meditation: sitting still, focusing on breathe or on some ideal like Peace or Love increases my awareness of my body.  I also will sit still with my eye closed and listen to a piece of classical music.  Listening to music can be a meditation too.  The key is to relax and let yourself be fully present with your experience and the music.

Meditation is almost naturally an enjoyable activity because you are singularly focusing on something you enjoy, whether it be a beautiful song, a loving person in your life, or a great idea like Peace or Love.  You can even just focus on you, on your breathe and how cool your body is.  If you have a favorite animal, you could even imagine that animal and watch it having fun in your jungle or across some planes in Africa.

In our imagination, the possibilities are endless!  We can all imagine something that brings us Peace and Happiness, and that’s what meditation is all about.  Meditation is an exercise that relaxes our bodies and opens us more fully to a present-minded enjoyment of the Moment.  Take yourself on an adventure in your own wonderful imagination and enjoy the increased energy you experience.  Also, realize that anything you can create in your mind, you can also create in physical reality.  As Napoleon Hill once said, “Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Just imagining yourself full of positive energy and radiating beautiful light will make you feel more awake and alive.

2. Yoga:  Woot woot!  In some ways, yoga is actually the same thing as meditation, as it is often translated as ‘singularness of focus,’ yet, for the purposes here, we might as well understand yoga as stretching.  Whenever you lift weights or participate in any cardiovascular exercise, you can always improve the workout just a bit by adding in some time for stretching, or yoga, at the end.  Whether you spend 5 minutes or 50 stretching isn’t important – any stretching is good!  When we stretch, we encourage our blood to circulate to all parts of our body.  I’ve heard from a yoga instructor that our deepest reservoirs of stress reside in our lower back and in our hips, so stretching out those parts of the body are particularly important to promote optimum blood and energy flow.

I usually do yoga for about 15 minutes when I wake up, then for about 30-60 minutes sometime in the afternoon, and ideally 10 minutes before I go to sleep, although I’m not quite there yet.  One thing I know for sure: the more yoga I do, the better I feel.  I have yet to reach that “too much yoga…me no like…” state. 😉

3. Laughing.  Many a times it’s been said, “Laughter is the best medicine,” a statement I believe is true.  As far as physiological effects go, I don’t know much other than that endorphins release when we laugh, and supposedly those are some very happy chemicals that make us feel good.

Perhaps more importantly though…who doesn’t like to laugh?  I used to have really high standards for what I considered funny and didn’t laugh much, but recently I have greatly lowered my standards and will pretty much laugh at anything, even what might look to be nothing.  Some days I will go outside, walk, and just make the decision to laugh at nothing in particular.  Laughing to laugh – it’s a darn good choice!  Besides, life, existence, creation, all that is, it’s a very funny world we live in, and the more we start to laugh at ‘supposedly nothing,’ the more I think we will become aware of the great Cosmic Joke, or the Divine Comedy to use Dante’s terminology.  God is the Master Comedian.  Everything is funny.

I think the more attuned we become to the humor in every situation, the healthier we will be.  Besides, not only is laughing one of the favorite activities of almost any person, but people enjoy being around people who laugh more.  Laughter is the sound of joy, love, and life.  It is the sound of energy and happiness and celebration of all that is good.  I think we’d all benefit with increased energy and health by laughing a bit more.  If laughing aloud might not be your thing, then perhaps try smiling so big that it feels like your face is about to explode, just…don’t let it explode.

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By practicing healthy living ourselves, buying the healthy foods, physically exercising, and also exercising that sense of humor and enjoyment, we set a good example.  The more energy we have, the more we have!  With more energy, we can do more and give more to ourselves and to others.

One of my favorite ways to share healthy practices with people is by living them myself – it’s a win / win.  So, if you ever find yourself wanting to do some exercise or meditation or laughing, consider doing everyone a favor and do it in public!  Okay – the ‘laughing at nothing’ bit can be a tough one to do in public and requires a hefty dose of confidence, but eventually maybe we can all work up to living in that abundance of freedom of expression.  Until then – at least we can share other healthy practices with the world, embracing the journey of optimizing our own health and setting the example for others to follow so that we all may experience more of that beautiful energy that flows freely through the Universe for all of us to enjoy.

Here’s to a healthy, vibrant, energetic day of Love and Service!

Peace is Possible: “Peace is Every Step.”

Reflecting on the most valuable lessons I learned from my experience of homelessness in NYC, I remembered that Peace is a very real thing.  After all, we all have the ability to think about Peace, so that is definitely a start.

Meditating in Times Square, I sat silently with my eyes closed, Brother next to me, inhaling and exhaling ‘Peace,’ so I thought in my mind and felt in my heart.  As people flowed all around us, as though everyone was looking to find something worthy of their attention, my Brother and I sat, peacefully, cherishing the One, True, Moment.

A mixture of smiles and tears flooded across my face, as I was overcome with Peace and a realization that World Peace is actually attainable.  If only we can all find the courage within ourselves to sit silently, just breathe, and think about what you believe is good, Peace will become much more of a reality.  The more we experience Peace ourselves, the more we share it with all of Creation, so in many ways we have a spiritual responsibility to cultivate as much Peace inside ourselves as we can.

I forget who said this, but growing in Peace is much like growing in Love.  The quote I’m thinking of goes something like this, “The more I loved, the more I grew in my ability to love.”  Just so, the more we experience Peace, the more we can bring Peace wherever we go.

I think we each have an individual responsibility to focus on Peace, on Love, on Goodness, on God – whatever the ideal – focus on it, and bring it more into reality.

I set the intention this morning to see God and Beauty in all things, and shortly after I began to laugh.  Things became a bit too beautiful, if that’s even possible.  This week, I’ve also decided for Peace to be my primary focus.  For the last week or so it was Love, and that was a truly great time.  Now is the time for Peace!

“Peace is every step.” – Thich Nhat Hon

“Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use Words.”

Imagine yourself attending your own funeral…

How do you want to be remembered?  What do you want to be said about you on that glorious day when people gather together to celebrate your life journey?

Think about it!  Even write your own eulogy if you’d like.  However, don’t simply hand your eulogy to someone so that they will read it.  Instead, ensure that your eulogy will be read by living it!  Words are cheap.  Actions are what count!  Live intentionally so that your message and beliefs about the world are crystal clear from looking at your actions alone.

As St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.”