Tag: words of wisdom

Support yourself through transitions by changing your thoughts


Losing or changing jobs, experiencing the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, becoming a parent, having a birthday that ends with a five or a zero….what these events have in common is they signify a change. Times of transition can create stress and discomfort as we adjust to our changing lives.

Transitions are a natural part of life, and aren’t the cause of our stress. What we say to ourselves about a situation creates our feelings and beliefs about the transition. We can support ourselves through a transition by changing any unsupportive or unproductive thoughts into supportive ones. Putting the three tips, below, into action will automatically shift your feelings about your particular transition and your beliefs about transitions in general.

There is more available to us than what we see. Before Isaac Newton “discovered” the invisible force that keeps us on the ground, gravity already existed and was working for us. Therefore, just because a solution or next step isn’t readily apparent, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Often when we take the time to be calm and still— such as during meditation—the answer we seek will come to us, or we will be presented with an opportunity that takes care of our current issue.

Allow the idea that Life is in our corner although it may not always seem like it. If you can’t fully get on board with this idea, be open to the possibility. Many belief systems say that if you are here than you have a purpose. I believe that we have many purposes. When we are on ‘path’, it will feel as if life is working with us. So, how do transitions fit in? As transitions are a part of life, just because we may not like a particular transition does not mean that it is ‘wrong’ or ‘off our path’. Sometimes we just do not like everything that happens in our lives. Many believe that we learn best from the more difficult challenges that come into our lives. I however see all as equal.

Do what can be done and let the rest go. Transitions are life unfolding before us. We respond to them as best we can. Not allowing our expectations or fears to control us, will keep us in the moment fully able to see our options. There are things out of our control, knowing which those are will make any transition easier. The knowledge that everything does pass and that you will come out the other side of the transition with insight and understanding will make any transition easier. Do take action when it is called for–realizing that sometimes the thing to do is nothing.

Magnificent Mantras Part 3: Do Good, Avoid Evil, Appreciate Your Lunacy.

This last installment of Magnificent Mantras, ties it all together. Its purpose is to allow our practice to “oscillate between two levels, the profound and the mundane.” Meaning, if we’re too full of wonder in our practice, it does us no good because we allow our thoughts to be too existential; we’re not able to look at it from a real, everyday perspective. We can be, as Fischer explains, ‘soaringly metaphysical and movingly compassionate,’ yet lack the ability to relate to others and/or the worldly problems around us in real life.

The reciprocal, if the our practice is too mundane, we “sink under the weight of obligations, details and daily life concerns.” This is what happens when we become caught up in the thoughts and feelings of it all too deeply. We’re tied up in the needs of others, as well as our own, which doesn’t allow us to experience the magical qualities of life.

Our goal should be to find the sacred space between the ‘profound and practical’ and live within it; continually contemplating how to stay in the balance.

Fischer explains, “This double need, according to circumstances, seems to go with the territory of being human.” As such, how do you get your mind prepared for accepting and acknowledging both sides of our practice? It’s easy—

Do good.  (And mean it.) Anna Quindlen said it best, All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.”  Smiling at a stranger, saying hello, holding a door for someone—they’re all social norms that we’re accustomed to automatically apply. When being mindful of our practice, it’s important to take that a step further. Allow yourself to be actively present in the moment; be genuine and kind. Experience all of the senses surrounding the situation— process the seconds deeply, with compassion and gratitude. Put good energy into the universe, continually allowing it to spread pure light instead of pure pleasantries all around you.

Avoid Evil. In the powerfully inspiring Desiderata, Max Ehrmann cautions us to“avoid vexations to the spirit.”  One of the most powerful ways to do this is “to pay close attention to our actions of body, speech, and mind, noticing when we do, say, or think things that are harmful or unkind.” The more we are mindful of this, the more easily we recognize our moments of mean-spiritedness—and that disheartening realization helps us change our ways.

We want to shield ourselves from trouble or pain, so we’re ultra-protective of the ‘me and mine’ and how things affects us. Instead, we must practice a spirit of generosity whenever possible. Try to allow openness within your heart— practice positivity instead of negativity, avoid letting anger or fear spill from you into the universe and onto those around you.

Appreciate Your Lunacy.

Lunacy, for our purposes here, is really about honesty with oneself. Fischer suggests, “Bow to your own weakness, your own craziness, your own resistance. Congratulate yourself for them, appreciate them. Truly it is a marvel, the extent to which we are selfish, confused, lazy, resentful, and so on. We come by these things honestly. We have been well trained to manifest them at every turn.”

When we allow ourselves to be human, to be okay with being fallible and sometimes dim-witted or vulnerable, we see that everyone around us, as mentioned in Part 2 is just “groping around in the dark,” too.

When we’re able to let out a collective sigh of relief that we’re all just trying to find ‘it,’ whatever that means for us individually, we can accept each other, and ourselves with a much deeper understanding and compassion.  Most importantly, we can laugh at ourselves, and the peculiar nature of this incredibly complex and wondrous existence that we all share— because, as the mantra states, we can’t take it all too seriously.

Now that we’ve concluded these ‘Magnificent Mantra’ examinations and have provided insight to put them into practice; give yourself the opportunity to be open to the gift of awakening. Allow these thoughts and ideas to enter your everyday consciousness and set you free. Enjoy!

Part 2:  http://marafisher.tumblr.com/post/88379727173/magnificent-mantras-to-awaken-your-best-self-part-2

Part 1:  http://marafisher.tumblr.com/post/87595989678/magnificent-mantras-to-awaken-your-best-self-part-1

Magnificent Mantras to Awaken Your Best Self: Part 2


2. Be Grateful to Everyone

“If you feel grateful for what is possible for you in this moment, no matter what your challenges are, if you feel grateful that you are alive at all, that you can think, that you can feel, that you can stand, sit, walk, talk—if you feel grateful, you are happy and you maximize your chances for well-being and for sharing happiness with others.” – Norman Fischer

Sounds simple enough, right? Think about it for a moment—pose these questions to yourself: What are you most grateful for? When did you start to become mindful of this ‘gratefulness’ characteristic of life? Maybe most importantly, who taught you to appreciate that attribute and how did you learn to ingrain it into your consciousness?

We associate gratefulness with pleasure and like-mindedness. We find solace in our own seemingly serene understanding and feel appreciative that we can experience thankfulness for recognizing that gift. Gratefulness, however, is much greater than that—its actual, immediate cultural impact far outshines its surface-level ambiance—and has a lasting impact on our awakened life as individuals.

Fischer notes, “Unhappiness and gratitude cannot live in the same moment.”Meaning each second that we are not happy, especially when it’s for selfish reasons, we’re missing the heart of the matter— which runs much deeper than our own superficial daily, run-of-the-mill unhappiness. We must learn that the projections of our own attitudes directly affect our outside world; The Universe and all of the other humans in it; other humans we so easily forget are so integral to our daily existence. 

As noted in Part 1, sometimes, all that’s needed is a small shift in perception for a perspective to turn negative thought into positive action, as we make ‘all steps important to our journey.’ A path Fischer calls ‘profound understanding.’

That said—gratefulness is more than the appreciation for what we have—it’s an understanding of what we need, as a singular being, and how we can contribute our own gifts to a community of comrades—our fellow humans—that are just trying to make it through their own day as they try to lead their own best life.

From the beginning of our existence, we’ve needed others to survive. When we’re first born, our parents are our refuge. They’re our constant—our way to sustain and continue life—and if we’re lucky enough, we learn to thrive on our own from that example. Curating our own reality for ourselves as adults, we base our judgments upon those fundamental principles that were instilled in us in our young years—for better or worse—when enlightened, by that fact, we’re lead to a more complete compassion for other humans.

“We were all at one time precisely in this situation, and someone or other must have cared for us in this same comprehensive way. Without one hundred percent total care from someone else, or maybe several others, we would not be here. This is certainly grounds for gratitude to others.”

When identifying our interdependence in the scope of the world around us, we can start to look outside of our own three-foot-circle and see the world for what it really is, not necessarily what we hope to take for ourselves individually.

What’s more, in being human, we owe a responsibility to bear the burden for all human kind—but with a silver lining perhaps—the more positive light we shine from ourselves the more brilliance there is in the universe; power we can exponentially create for whomever decides to dwell in the light.

So each time we feel a bit sorry for ourselves—let us be mindful of two things—the impact that this situation has on our path, and also, how our reaction to this situation impacts the lives of those around us who make our lives livable, whether we actively recognize it our not, each and every day.

Celebrate your fellow humans for their flaws and relish in the fact that you’re aware that we’re all working towards something, groping in the dark, for that bright, ominous light of happiness. And now that we’ve touched on the journey and how to be grateful and happy in it, what are we tackling in final part of these magnificent mantras? We’re getting deep with Part 3: “Do Good, Avoid Evil, and Appreciate Your Lunacy.

Miss Part 1 of Magnificent Mantras? Never fear; find it here: http://marafisher.tumblr.com/post/87595989678/magnificent-mantras-to-awaken-your-best-self-part-1

Magnificent Mantras to Awaken Your Best Self: Part 1

Shambahla Sun recently explored ‘an ancient set of Buddhist slogans’ and paired six of them with powerful techniques to ‘transform life’s difficulties into awakening and benefit’ with guidance from Zen teacher Norman Fischer. 

Taking these magnificent mantras and the lessons that can be pulled from them—we’ve highlighted three to explore and examine— sharing how to implement their power into our daily lives.  Highlighting one mantra each week for the next three weeks, cherish these as treasures to enlighten and enhance our everyday existence.  I know I will. Enjoy!

1. Turn All Mishaps Into the Path

There’s a yin and yang of our daily existence; we feel happy and powerful when things go right and we’re sad and defeated when things go wrong. The reciprocal of those most glorious peaks are those seemingly desolate valleys—and when we descend from those peaks into the valleys, we lock ourselves in fear. It’s tough to wrap our minds around the idea of accepting our most tumultuous days as part of the journey and utilizing them as tools to continue moving forward. 

How do we find harmony and balance between the highs and lows? The key is practicing patience. According to Fischer, “Patience is the capacity to welcome difficulty when it comes, with a spirit of strength, endurance, forbearance, and dignity rather than fear, anxiety, and avoidance.”

Nobody wants to feel bad— angry, depressed, defeated or otherwise. Instead of avoiding those feelings altogether, however, our power comes from moving through suffering utilizing the positive counterpoints to combat the negative feelings. We can accomplish that through patience and courage.

I agree very much with Fletcher when he explains: “While trying to avoid difficulty may be natural and understandable, it actually doesn’t work. We think it makes sense to protect ourselves from pain, but our self-protection ends up causing us deeper pain. We think we have to hold on to what we have, but our very holding on causes us to lose what we have.”

He goes on to note that many of us are living dangerously without even knowing it. Because we’re ‘attached to what we like and try to avoid what we don’t like’ we try to keep what’s good and cast out what’s negative. We believe that avoidance is the best way to deal with what makes us uncomfortable; it’s not.  We need to step through pain, not away from it. 

Difficulties, when challenged with positive emotion, will undoubtedly reach positive results—so long as we are patient and give ourselves the opportunity to get past them in The Universe’s time instead of our own. This, as challenging as it sounds, will put us in a place where we’re able to feel gratitude in a new and defining way.

Meditate on this consciously: ruminating on the idea of “Turning all mishaps into the path.” Write it down, sit with it, whatever helps to practice it—and watch how quickly your mind and heart will change!

Once you experience one moment of reacting differently, you’ll begin to be aware of your behavior and your ability to be mindful of it. It’s the ability to look at life and say, “this is what it is—now how am I going to tackle it to find gratitude for its necessity to my journey?” Conquering dark thoughts with light can only increase your ability to be happy.

What’s next? The second mantra will be “Be Grateful to Everyone.” This idea explores a seemingly simply concept that can yield incredibly powerful results.