Have you ever meditated? Like real meditation where you’re totally quiet and you quiet your brain and can hear your heart beat in your ears? Where you lose track of time and because you know you’ll lose track of time you set a timer on your phone to play happy zen music at a specific time for fear of being in this state of bliss for hours.

I’ve tried. And I’ve tried. Many times. Sure I’ve zoned out a few times at 2:53am but only for a split second or two. But nothing meditation-y at all. And believe me, it was my homework assignment for several months and every time I tried I would fail.

The whole point of my meditating was so that I could tune out the mental chatter and get to a place where I could infuse my brain with positive and affirming thoughts. Where after days or weeks or months of doing this my brain would be so full of good thoughts that there would be no room left for the self-defeating and (what I truly know to be) untrue negativeisms.

Only I’ve never been able to do it. It frustrates me that I never figured out this meditation thing. And I truly don’t understand how other people do it. I’ve sat in my closet (it’s a walk-in so it’s OK) with the lights off. Still. Focusing on my breathing. (I got that part down thanks to a few good yoga classes!) Breathe In. Breathe Out. Slowly. In. Out. Focus on the breathing.

And then my brain starts to wonder toward a million other things. What time is it? How long have I been doing this? Is it dark enough? What if someone is at the door? Maybe I have email, I should check it. When did I last call my grandma, this would be the perfect time. I have to go to the bathroom. I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. Did I set the DVR?  What if someone broke in and found me here, would they kill me. Wait, I could hide and they wouldn’t find me, and on and on.

Turning off my brain was much harder than I thought. But really, I can barely turn it off to go to sleep what made me think that for a few minutes I could focus so intently on something other than the random thoughts zipping around my brain like space garbage in the galaxy. Other people can do this. Surely, I could do this.

So again, I tried. Into the closet. Lights out. This time, zen-y type music. The kind you would hear if you went into a tiny shop in Chinatown that sold incense or tea or something calming. I brought my phone. You know, just incase. In case of what I’m not sure because I’m supposed to be meditating! There are no phones in meditation. So the phone goes out. Ah, now to meditate.

The brain is wandering. Again. And this goes on for days. I can’t make it stop wandering. I’ve read quite a few books on healing and meditation by Louise Hay. They’ve inspired me to keep trying to calm the voices. To find ways other than meditation to quite the mental chatter.

Unfortunately, so many other thoughts and emotions come in to play because I haven’t been able to master the art of meditation. Why is meditation so difficult? Am I missing out some key piece of info that would make all the pieces come together?

Part of me thinks it’s hilarious that I haven’t been able to even sit alone in a dark room and be still. I never have been. My mind multi-tasks and races constantly. Not in a bad way. Usually. But being quiet and still is not normal for me.

Maybe it should be. Maybe I’m one of those people who shouldn’t meditate because if I do I could envision the plan for world peace or how to stop global warming or the next hot ‘As Seen on TV’ bonanza. Whatever the reason, I’m still thinking I should keep trying because that part of me that says “you’re a quitter and a failure” really needs a good ol’ fashion beat down.

If you’ve mastered the art of meditation, please share your insights and secrets. I promise that if the winning lotto numbers come to me I will share them with you!


Deciding What Is Important: Needs vs. Wants and Striking a Balance

photo credit: Banalities

At the BlogWorld Conference I met Annabel Candy. Actually it was at an after-conference party hosted by the very gracious Darren of @problogger fame. Thank you, Darren! Your hospitality and kindness are deeply appreciated. Annabel has a successful blog, Get in the Hot Spot, about helping to make work and life better mesh with what you envision for yourself. She even has a book about Successful Blogging!

Today I was catching up on things in my Reader and came across her post about how she and her husband pretty much got rid of everything they owned, packed up their three young children and moved from New Zealand to Costa Rica for 18 months. Talk about getting rid of material possessions. Take some time to read it and you, too, will soon ask yourself if all this ‘stuff’ is necessary.

I’ve been looking at my house for several months now wondering how I’m going to fit all of this into a tiny house in the Bay Area. BabyGirl has even asked if she gets to take certain things. I’ve actually struggled with this because ‘stuff’ is often the outward sign of success. And how do I get rid of this stuff without getting rid of what identifies me and my family as successful people?

Is it the stuff that makes us successful? Because we can show people these things and say ‘look at my new Louboutins!’? For many people that’s what it is. Conspicuous consumption. Telling others that you are important because of the car you drive, the handbag you carry, the shoes you wear, the things you have. But is that true?

Of couse not. I have a growing list of things I want to do someday. And being able to decide what is important will actually get me there faster than if I’m focused on trying to impress others or justify buying things because I deserve them. Needs vs. Wants. Yet I’m conflicted because I like a lot of this stuff. And some of this junk, er, stuff, is sentimental. And I can attach sentiment to all kinds of things. Which explains why my garage is full of what most people would probably call crap and sell for 50 cents at a yard sale.

But this is where it gets a bit weird. Sure, I need shoes. Do I need a pair of Louboutin shoes? Of course not. But, at the same time does it mean I should only spend $5 or buy my shoes from the local Goodwill? I don’t think it means that either.

There has to be some middle ground. A place where I don’t feel like I need to keep justifying why I bought that particular item. The need vs. want dichotomy gets a lot of play from finance experts seeking to explain how to live a frugal lifestyle. No, I don’t need cable. No, I don’t need an iPhone. But do I need to live your way oh financial expert or risk financial ruin? I don’t think so.

Annabel mentions that selling most of their possessions left her feeling free. Not just free because she does’t have stuff. But free because she realized as she ventured through an amazing experience with her family that it really wasn’t the stuff that made her or her family happy anyway.

As we get further into the holiday season keep this in mind: creating experiences is truly what living is about. Things are nice but at the end of the day isn’t it really the experience or the memories of the people, the place, the sight, sounds, and smells that matter? The holidays can easily become overwhelming and out of control trying to get ‘the hot’ items or worrying about missing the next great deal. The stress can suck the fun out of this joyous occasion. Truly, it’s really not worth it.

Do what feels right. And do it with love not only for those who mean the most to you but for you as well.

There are a lot of wants and they’re not always compatible with one another. Take the time to sort them out. Find balance between those things you want and those that are true necessities. It is possible to live with less and truly have more!

Have you ever thought about this idea of living with less so you can have more? It’s been swirling around my head for quite some time. I’d love your thoughts and insight.


The Sound of One Hand Clapping

I keep seeing the trailer and ad for the new The Karate Kid movie.  I’m completely torn by it.  I don’t want to like it because it’s not MY Karate Kid movie.  You know, the one with Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-San.  Wax on. Wax off.  That one.  The one where Daniel-san does the Crane kick at the end.  I’m old school!

But this newest Karate Kid movie looks really good.  BabyGirl has seen the trailer and she liked it.  She liked Jaden Smith because he’s a boy that seems kinda scared to move to China and she would be too.  I think I’d be scared too, but more like his mom in the movie I’d probably be very excited as well.

I’m drawn to the new version though because of the lessons.  It’s the same reason I was drawn to the original Karate Kid.  Well that, and I was the typical teenage girl infatuated with Ralph Macchio.  He was the rebel from The Outsiders, and now he was learning obedience from Mr. Miyagi.  And even though it was karate and I had no clue about it or for that matter really even cared about it, I was so taken by this movie.

I think it was the fact that my grandparents had traveled to China that same year the movie came out that it was more relevant to me.  For me it was all about the message.  The Wax On, Wax Off.  The zenish way that Mr. Miyagi went about teaching Daniel-San to respect himself, others and the world around him.  Ok, I also like that Mr. Miyagi could totally whip those other boys faster than I can say Crane kick.

So now it’s got me thinking, what’s the point of the mind control stuff we see in these movies.  Not the bad kind of mind control, like that of an abusive boyfriend.  But the personal mind control.  Our inner ability to channel our thoughts to do something we never believed possible.  Why does Daniel-san have to wax the car a certain way?  Why does the new kid, Dre, have to take off his jacket and put it on so many times?  It’s all part of the mental toughness.  The focus.  The ability to hear one hand clapping.

I think I’ll like it because it’s seems to be a lot like the original, except that I suspect the martial arts will be a bazillion times better what with Jackie Chan and progress in movie making.  I also think I’ll like it because I work toward the intense focus with BabyGirl.  Sure she’s only 7 but she play violin (Suzuki violin) and a lot of it is about focus and concentration.  And regardless of how smart I think she is, she’s still just a 7 year old and is easy distracted by her own thoughts. Seeing what focus can bring will be key.

For me it’s all the teaching moments.  All those little tidbits and zenish sayings.  They appeal to me as I try to lead my life focused on the positive.  But more than that, they appeal to me because I can see that with focus and determination I can perform the mental Crane kick (so as not to hurt myself physically).  And if I would just heed my own advice and  focus maybe I could hear the sound of one hand clapping. I could take on the world.

Do you think you’ll go see The Karate Kid when it comes out Friday, 6/11? Do you think you’ll walk away having really learned something?