meditation is for the birds

Our discussion about our fledgling meditation practices went like this:

Kel said, “I made it for about 4 minutes today!”

I replied, “Does sitting really still and thinking count? Because if it does, then I meditated for almost an hour. Otherwise…”

meditation instructions

When your best friend and partner in crime blogging is a wildlife biologist, you learn all sorts of interesting things. Things like why you should never be on the stinging end of a male platypus, or how to resuscitate a drowned lizard. (For the record: no mouth-to-mouth required.)

Or how to feed an injured wild bird.

The bird is wild. It has no reason to trust you…and many, many instincts telling it that no matter how still and calm that person with the food in her hand is, that is a dangerous place to go.

And so you come back, every day. You spread the seed from your hand, and wait. And one day–not tomorrow, not next week, but MAYBE one day–the bird will have built enough trust in your intentions to come closer. If you’re really lucky, maybe it will come eat out of your hand.

yes, pigeons are wild birds too Evelyn. Injured wild bird. Skill at meditation is unknown.

Your mind is that wild bird. Meditation is the practice of sitting, your palm open, the trail of seeds leading to it, waiting patiently for the day when the bird-mind feels enough trust in your intentions and energy to come a little closer, to finally take a seed from your hand.

I’m hoping that one day, my own bird-mind realizes the silence is friendly.

Do you have a meditation practice? Or another way to quiet the noise in your mind that works for you? Tell us about it in the comments!

Tracy at women making changes

 

Even small pebbles of change make ripples

Even small pebbles of change make ripples.

7 Tips For Making Your Practice Successful, Not Stressful

In the last 3 years, I have made some remarkable changes in my life. I’ve added something I really love which is painting, and I’ve let go of more than 700 items in my home.  There is more to do in both of these areas but I have no doubt that I will continue to grow both with my painting and simplifying because they have become a practice to me.

It’s important to start doing

Reading, wishing, talking, and learning aren’t enough to make change happen. You have to do it and that means starting. Yes, you have to start to make change but it isn’t in the starting that the change really happens.

It’s important to build a practice

If you want real and lasting change to occur you need to make it a practice. Daily is best but it’s important to make it work for you. Most things take quite some time before developing a noticable result. Trying something once or twice isn’t enough. When building a practice it takes lots of trial and error, adjusting, and discipline.

Tips for making your practice successful NOT stressful

  • Give yourself enough time to see a result.  They say it take 2-30 days to build a new habit. I disagree. If you do something for 20, 30, even 40 days it’s a good start but I don’t think that is enough to make it a practice.   Even simplifying my home took almost a year to accomplish. Let go of the desire for instant results, which can only lead to disappointment.
  • Be patient with those you live with, as they have to change too. I didn’t just have to fit painting into my life, I had to fit it into my husband’s and children’s lives as well. They weren’t used to me taking that time, didn’t know if it was ok to interrupt, or that I would paint instead of watching a movie some nights. It is a learning curve for everyone.
  • Choose to change only ONE thing at a time.  I added painting. I didn’t add painting, and declutter my house, and start an exercise routine…I painted for one hour a day, that was it. Later, I did declutter 700 things. I didn’t declutter, and paint all the rooms in my house, and declutter my computer, and my declutter my paperwork. I took one aspect of simplifying and tackled each of them one at a time.
  • Be willing to adjust.  Most likely when you begin your practice it isn’t going to work out the first few times flawlessly. There may be things you didn’t account for that make the time of day or space not work well.  When I added painting I didn’t have a place for me to paint. You may have to adjust the time and place several times before you discover the best one for you. I also developed a back-up time to do my painting.  If you’re a mom there are always unexpected things that crop up.  By having two different times to paint I could usually make one of them work.
  • Let the outcome be open-ended. While I did create time goals for my practices, the outcomes were left wide open.  My goals were not that I would sell paintings at a show by the end of the year, or that my house would be simplified by the end of the year. Trying to predetermine the end result just limits what can happen. Be specific with what you are going to do and how long you are going to do it, but don’t predetermine what you think will happen. There are so many wonderful possibilities!  I decluttered 500 things but the end result was that I didn’t see the difference I was hoping for. I had to go back to the drawing board and look at what else I might need to do. I didn’t feel like a failure, or that what I had done was a waste, it just wasn’t enough.

Start where you are Shiva Rea

  • Every once in a while isn’t enough.  For me, I really need to do something every single day for it to be a practice.  Much less than that and I fall off the wagon. Sure, 6 out of 7 days works fine, but if I miss more than one day a week I lose my practice.  Everyone is different but if you’ve had difficulty in the past with creating a practice, commit to doing it daily. Not to mention you will see results quicker that way!
  • Don’t deprive yourself.  Do you really want to change it up?  Then try making a change that doesn’t take anything away from you!  Seriously, we all suffer from feeling a little deprived, especially if we haven’t been taking care of ourselves.  Instead of telling yourself “no,” try adding something you really want or wish you could do! It is a blast! Try it, I think you’ll like it.

Kel

 

 

Do you have to move a mountain to make a change?

do you have to move a mountain to make a change?

Starting Something Vs. Building a Practice

I recently talked with a friend about a change she was trying to make in her life. I asked her how it was going, and if the change was helping her. The answer was, “No, I tried it a couple of times and it didn’t work so I stopped doing it.

There is a big difference between starting something and building a practice into your daily life.

Starting is good but most likely won’t bring about the change you’re looking for. It takes time to see results for most changes. I painted 13 little finches before I painted one that looked like a finch. If I had stopped after my first attempt I wouldn’t know this.

A practice is anything you do regularly that nurtures you. -Sarah Twichell

Building a practice doesn’t happen after one or two tries. It definitely does not happen over night. It’s something that probably requires some attention and effort. Building a practice can be very simple but it’s not necessarily easy.

So what does this look like if you’re trying to make a change in your life?   It means showing up every day, even when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s hard–day in and day out.  That’s building a practice and showing discipline.

“Discipline is remembering what you really want”

-Pam Young

Why is starting not enough?

  • Building one practice teaches us how to build others.  I approach change differently after having added painting everyday to my life.
  • Being dedicated and disciplined in adding something you love to your days brings better results.  Your abilities grow with your practice.

A Challenge: Build a Practice!

We don’t need to start another project and let it go unfinished.  We all have enough of those! Instead, let’s do something really loving and compassionate for ourselves. Let’s build a practice!

I want you to build a practice of doing something truly nice for yourself everyday. Just pick ONE nice thing you can do for yourself and do it EVERYDAY for the next 30 days.

Don’t put it off!  We are going to start NOW.

It should be something that you can do in 30 minutes or less. It should not take longer than that. Everyone is busy and if your truly loving thing takes more time than that then you may skip it–and skipping a day is your worst enemy!  It leads to feelings of failure, guilt, bad self talk…

One small act of self-love today, then again tomorrow.

If you can do this for a month, then you are building a practice. If you’re not, then you are just starting again and again, and that effort can be draining.

Bonus Challenge: Build a Team

Are you ready to build a practice? Does it seem easy? Good, that means you’ve built a practice before and it’s not new to you. (Remember, I said it gets easier the more you do it!)

The bonus challenge is to start building a team. Tracy and I LOVED having each other to lean on when we started making changes. Having a teammate or friend do this with you can be a HUGE help in making it stick. Here’s the best part: you don’t have to be doing the same activity. You just have to set up a way to communicate with each other to offer support, encouragement, and bounce ideas off of each other.

You could use your team to accomplish a common loving goal together. If you live nearby you could meet up at a coffeehouse or bookstore. Being surrounded by the right people can make a world of difference when building a practice.

Share what you’re building in the comments. It just might inspire someone else!

Kel

 

They always say…

Andy Warhol quote they say time changes things