Monday Morning Musings on Gratitude

Who remembers the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds”??? ~ “Rise up this morning, Smile with the rising sun, Three little birds, Pitched by my doorstep, Singing sweet songs…”

And do you recall what those little birds were saying? They were singing, “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” (You can enjoy the song here: Three Little Birds.)

My first musing this morning is about how much I love the bird beings. Do you also love birds? It seems to me that they have a pretty wonderful existence, since they are able to soar through the skies of this beautiful planet. Listening to birds sing brings such joy to my mind. Even if I am feeling sad, hearing the birds brings a smile of gratitude to my heart. How do you feel when you hear birdsong?

Certain things, like birds singing, just naturally evoke a feeling of gratitude, which is wonderful because gratitude lights up neural networks in the brain, and then the brain releases the feel-good neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, which bring feelings of love, happiness, and contentment! Did you know that a bird’s singing can literally light up your brain and make you feel better? The human brain is so fascinating! This musing leads me to feel the mind-blowing inter-connectedness of Everything. Can you feel it also?

So… This week is Thanksgiving week in the U.S., but all humans on Earth should cultivate gratitude every week! Consciously practicing gratitude 365 days per year strengthens those neural pathways that help us to happy up long-term!

Gratitude also strengthens the immune system, relieves anxiety and depression, and increases positivity, inspiration, and motivation.

And, my next musing is about how Gratitude generates the energy of Love. When we feel grateful for something, we naturally feel love for that something. Gratitude and Love arise together, like the two wings of the same bird. You can’t separate them. So, a few years ago I went through a phase on Facebook in which I created posts that were like gratitude lists, but instead of saying “I’m grateful” I said “iLove”…

For example: “iLove amethyst crystals, iLove Sunshine, iLove hot black coffee, iLove Gabe, iLove Zak, iLove Mom & Dad, iLove chanting, iLove barefoot hiking, iLove blogging” and so on! Obviously it was a play on Apple’s “i” everything, and I thought it was pretty witty though I’m not sure anyone else appreciated the wit like I did! Oh well, at least I enjoyed the process! 🙂

So, dear readers, are you feeling inspired now to make a gratitude list? If so, please visit my Gratitude~Up Community Page, where you can share your gratefulness 24/7…

I hope you enjoyed reading this morning’s musings. I sure enjoyed writing them!

May you feel the Love of the Gratitude Vibration!

With much gratitude and love,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by MabelAmber on Pixabay.

 

Peace Is Every Step

“Breathing and smiling together — that is peace education…. Peace is available in every moment, in every breath, in every step.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, in the closing paragraph of his book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, originally published in 1991.

 

Dear reader,

Have you read any books by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh? If so, I welcome you to share your experiences in the comments below… If not, perhaps you will be inspired by this post to check him out… Here is a link to some of his 100 books: Plum Village Key Books.

For many years I had Nhat Hanh’s book Peace Is Every Step on my shelf, and from time to time I read a few random parts… But this Summer I was inspired to read it cover to cover, and now I have read it at least three times! It is so very good that I took eight pages of notes and now I am studying those notes daily. I highly recommend this book! In this post I will share a few of my favorite parts…

The book is organized into three parts, and I found the second part to be the most helpful because it is primarily about working with feelings. This is the best book I have ever read about how to skillfully work with difficult emotions. Nhat Hanh points out that our feelings are parts of us; that they are not separate from us. So he says, “Instead of acting as if we can dispose of parts of ourselves, we should learn the art of transformation.” He then goes on to explain, step by step, how to transform the energies of anger, fear, depression, anxiety, and so on. If this section of the book was taught in all of our schools and workplaces, the world would become happier, healthier, and more peaceful within one generation!

One of my very favorite parts is called “Nourishing Healthy Seeds” in which Nhat Hanh writes, “Consciousness exists on two levels: as seeds and as manifestations of these seeds. Suppose we have a seed of anger in us. When conditions are favorable, that seed may manifest as a zone of energy called anger. It is burning, and it makes us suffer a lot. It is very difficult for us to be joyful at the moment the seed of anger manifests.”

He continues, “Every time a seed has an occasion to manifest itself, it produces new seeds of the same kind. If we are angry for five minutes, new seeds of anger are produced and deposited in the soil of our unconscious mind during those five minutes. That is why we have to be careful in selecting the kind of life we lead and the emotions we express. When I smile, the seeds of smiling and joy have come up. As long as they manifest, new seeds of smiling and joy are planted.”

I believe this is a very important book. I want to give a copy to everyone I know! Have you read this book already? If so, what was your favorite part?

One last quote that really resonates with me:
“We all have the seeds of love and compassion in our minds, and we can develop these fine and wonderful sources of energy.”

May All Beings Know Peace, Love, and Compassion!

With great love and gratitude,
Teja

 

Photo of lone dandelion at sunset by Natalia Luchanko on Unsplash.

 

September Slow Down

“You’re going to live to be a colorful old bird,” my beloved teacher David told me more than a decade ago. Those words resonated because I was born in a Chinese year of the rooster, and also because I love birds…

Thinking of myself as a colorful bird now, I can’t say that longevity feels like a blessing. While my wings are not broken, they are certainly not functioning properly. There is a huge gap between how I feel and how I would like to feel, and thus between what I can do and what I would like to do.

On March 10th I shared my future self visualization in the post “Your Future Self: A Visualization Practice.” I read that visualization out loud daily until just a few days ago when I realized that my “plans” and “goals” and “intentions” are not happening the way I imagined and desired, due to ongoing health issues.

As I shared in my post “Reaching for Orange to Calm Your Mind,” I was hoping for a diagnosis that would help me to better understand this body, so I went to see a new doctor. Well, I love my new doctor – she is really wonderful, and… she is referring me to a rheumatologist for the not-so-wonderful diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

That diagnosis was not a surprise, because I had it in the past, but then I did a hypnosis program on myself and I was basically symptom-free for almost 3.5 years… Or was I?

Dear reader, have you ever suddenly realized that the stories you have been telling yourself and others may not have been true? Perhaps you just wanted them to be true? Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling of realizing that you need to face reality more honestly? If you answered yes to these questions, then maybe you will relate to what I’m about to share…

Sometimes a crisis, health or otherwise, functions like a truth serum. I am suddenly faced with taking an honest look at areas in which I have been in denial, such as denying how much anxiety I have, and denying how much impaired concentration I experience daily.

In doing this reality check, I am also wondering if I am really 97-98% healed of the trauma I experienced (as I shared in my post “The Helper Who Helps the Helpers”), or do I just want to be at that level of healed?

And so now I am even questioning if I really was Fibromyalgia-Free for almost 3.5 years as I claimed, or did I just want to be free of it? (Thankfully I did not publish the book I wrote about how I had healed myself from it!) Certainly I still continued to experience many symptoms and sensitivities during that time.

Sometimes we project out what we want to be true, rather than what is actually true. Have you experienced that?

Yesterday I did my month’s end review of my journal and calendar, and reflected upon the keywords I had set for August: Humility, Patience, and Peace… Well! Be careful what you ask for! I am certainly humbled by feeling sick for three weeks and having all my plans fall apart. As for patience, well, it just seems irrelevant to me now! All the striving and worrying and setting goals required patience, but now that I have no idea what is ahead, I don’t really even need patience. What will be will be, at the right time. I have lost all sense of control, so there’s nothing to be patient about. As for peace, I am feeling the peace (in moments) that naturally comes with being humble… so I guess my August prayers were answered, but not in ways I would have wanted or guessed.

So, dear reader, I am facing the reality I am in, and surrendering to my fate… and to my stars… Thus, my September keywords have arisen from the fog of this fibro flare: Slow down, Calm down, Enjoy the small things, Smile, and Cultivate a Sense of Humor.

My main intention is for September to be a slow down month for the StarFire Teja Blog, and in general.

I’ll end this post with a sweet little quote from Mother Teresa: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

Thank you for reading!

What are your keywords for September?

 

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Rooster photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash.

 

The Mind Needs to Be Worked With First

To open the heart, first calm and happy the mind.

Some people say that first you have to open the heart, but after many years of studying this, I have come to understand that the mind needs to be worked with first, and then the heart naturally opens.

The human species has reached a state in which the human mind has become quite dense. Many people’s minds are tangled up by the anxieties and traumas of this fast-paced world. So, sitting and focusing on opening the heart may feel soothing temporarily, but it won’t be lasting unless the mind is calmed first.

When you work with your mind, calming it down and happy-ing it up, then your heart opens naturally, and you can relax into the sweetness in your heart.

Choosing to be happy is the first practice listed in my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life. Here is that practice:

Choosing to be happy ~ You really can choose to be happy. Per the Upanishads (a collection of wisdom by the ancient mystics of India), the mind is the means to happiness. You really can decide to be happy. This doesn’t necessarily happen immediately, but if you regularly tell yourself that you are choosing to be happy, then over time it will become true for you. So to apply this in your daily life, try this: anytime you have to wait in line or at a red light, think to yourself, “I am choosing to be happy.”

Focusing on calming your mind down, and also happy-ing it up, will open your heart, and then you will feel overwhelming love for everything and everyone!

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy!

If you haven’t already, please read my previous post, “23 Possible Benefits You May Gain Through Reading Reaching for Orange.”

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Reaching for Orange to Calm Your Mind

Dear readers, yesterday was yet another bad day in the body. I used to have a more balanced mix of good days and bad days, but lately I’ve had quite the run of bad days, making me ask the question, “Did I not appreciate the good days enough when I had them?” But I did appreciate them, so much. In fact, right before this run of bad days began, I had very gratefully enjoyed so many good days that I almost couldn’t remember what the bad days were like…

I guess I needed a reminder… Geesh!

Anyhow, yesterday was not good, and my mind was beginning to get a little anxious about it… As anyone with chronic health issues knows, it is an ongoing struggle to maintain positivity when the body doesn’t feel well… And once the mind begins reacting negatively, difficult emotions flow from the negative thoughts… So, yesterday when that began happening, I took out my new book, Reaching for Orange, and spent the day reading it cover to cover! (“Spiritual helper, help thyself!”)

Reading Reaching for Orange helped me to happy up, just as the subtitle promises! I have read this book many times, and this time I especially enjoyed the Blessings section. I read all of the blessings out loud, and I felt calmed, soothed, and elevated as I allowed myself to deeply receive all of those blessings.

“Blessings can be vibrant transmissions of living consciousness.” ~ Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life.

If you regularly read my blog posts, then you know that I post blessings for you on Fridays… Tomorrow I will share a few blessings from Reaching for Orange, from the section of blessings to help with depression. Whether or not you feel depressed, you can enjoy tomorrow’s uplifting blessings.

Unfortunately today is worse than yesterday, so thankfully this afternoon I am going to see my new doctor. I am hoping for a diagnosis that will help me to better understand this body. If you feel inspired to send me some good thoughts, healing energies, blessings, prayers, magical mojo, or whatnot, I will gratefully receive them!

Thank you so much for reading this post.
May you feel great love in your whole being!

With gratitude and trust in the mysteries,
Teja