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Mindfulness

The sound of anachronism

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When I open my mouth.

My whole heart comes out.

I don’t even care what the world thinks about how I sound

Christina Aguilera, Sing For Me

water

Anachronism (noun): an error in chronology; a person or thing that’s chronologically out of place

I put my hand under the faucet, letting cold water touch my skin, skin warmed up by my boiling mind. I am here. The really cold water reminds me of this simple fact that we often forget. I close my eyes a bit, to enjoy the sensation.

Closing my eyes brings back memories from other times when I was not in the here and now. When my chaotic life consisted of more tomorrows and yesterdays than life today. That was the time when my colors were grey, my mood black and my road consisted of an invisible color. I made no sound then, only some lamenting noises that I`d rather mute.

We come to this world from a watery place that feels safe like a warm, cozy house. There we are all alike, we know nothing more except what our fluid surroundings tell us. When we finally come out to our version of reality, we have to find our place in it.  Some of us, never quite do. At one point we`d rather be at a mountain top, smoking plants with ancient monks, at another rather lie burrowed in the earth we supposedly come from. We swim upstream and downstream, seldom relaxing to just float. Bubbles burst, and shattered pieces remind us of who we once were.

Last year I got the chance to travel to dream-destinations of mine. China. It was my chance to be in my tomorrows, walk on my mountain-tops and my chance to just be. comP9c165416270d54f35ead568db79bdc96From early on, I feel in love with simple life-views portrayed in movies like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and.. Spring and books like “Eat pray, love”. The first steps to some of these philosophical views were mapped out by Asians, so the wish to walk at the same earth as they did,  grew until the turning compass-needle in my heart pointed directly at Asia. What would I see in my own personal mirror?

One of the many places I got the chance to touch with my Norwegian shoes, was Hong Kong. There I enjoyed an extraordinary experience where I sure felt out of place constantly, silently enjoying it.

When you eat, do you taste every bit like it would be your last? When I was a child, I remember how I enjoyed a German chocolate after coming back to Norway. I saved it as long as I could, prolonging the joyful taste and thereby squeezing more happiness from it. I did this since I knew it would be long until next time a piece of  Yogurette could melt on my tongue. The more grown-up and richer one gets, the less one savors what enters our senses. For this reason, “Dialogue in the dark” was just what my under-stimulated nerve-cells needed. Before I attended this unorthodox tourist-experience, I just knew that it was created by blind people, and that we would learn something from it. My inner owl hooted in satisfaction, even when someone put a blindfold over me over me and 9 other unknown people’s eyes. It was pitch dark, but the next hour were filled with so much color that it felt like I finally could see again.

sympho
the sound of anachronism

I heard a classical piece of music that whirred up strong emotions, I touched objects that made my senses boomerang in wonder. I heard sounds never noticed before, and my body was drenched in water that almost crept under my skin. The excitement I felt was doubled by the mere presence of the strangers around me who had their own surprised exclaims and sounds. Although I`ll never meet those people again, their voices and laughter has left an imprint on my soul.

The exquisite meal we had at the end, felt like it must have done for the 12 disciples. With no sight and no disturbing white noise, I could fully appreciate what I tasted and how lucky I was to be there.

I sure felt the truth of this after we had touched, tasted, felt and walked in the dark, but shining, room in Hong Kong. In the loud silence of our journey through the dark, I could focus completely on how the food tasted and felt. I also had time to appreciate the fact that I sat there, completely free from inhibitions and restrictions, enjoying food some children never get to taste. I am one of the one percent of the population with this chance,

Even if this can be categorized under the most disorganized experiences of my life, I have never felt so clear about anything before.

Where have you arrived, and what is the sound of your symphony in the dark?

 Daily Prompt 

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The speed of life

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Time shifts. I take another sip from a crystal glass, the red liquid slithering down my throat. The glass sits on the table, resting. It can do nothing else than be. It has nothing it to do, it just stays put.

Time shifts yet again. I know I have to go soon, to meet two small kids and N. That we will be walking through the woods and eat pancakes. I will be present, quelling the unease and nervousness that is already here. I must look at the trees and remember I have nothing to prove. I am just here, like the trees. There is nothing I can do wrong. I can just be.

When we think about the future and past, we fail to see the now. Every second ticking by is an illusion. There is nothing else than what we experience at this moment. What was before, was the now then. What will become, is another now that we know nothing about. So right now I am sitting in my bed. The glass next to me, more present in the now than I ever can be. I need to breathe, to feel everything around me without trying to change it.

If the earth was devoid of life, it would be meaningless to ask a tree: What time is it? It would laugh, and say: “It`s now!”. While our clock is ticking, we forget that time has no meaning. The only thing that matters is what you do right now.

This 3-Letter Word Will Make You Live Longer and Happier, According to Science

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This is reblog By Marcel Schwantes

Ever encountered something so vast, so beautiful, so intense, that your mind struggled to comprehend it? There’s a word for that, and multiple studies have concluded that it’s very good for your health. It’s the experience of awe.

Psychologists describe awe as those feelings we get when we’re touched by the beauty of nature, art, music, thinking about inspiring people, or having a spiritual breakthrough that is so indescribable, it leaves us, well…in awe.

What it does to your brain

Researchers are saying is that we need to experience more awe in life because it boosts happiness and eliminates things like depression and other autoimmune diseases.

UC Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner, Ph.D, co-author of an awe study, says in Greater Good that experiencing the emotion of awe–“a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art–has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”

One study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that inducing awe increased ethical decision-making, generosity, and prosocial values. Just by standing in a grove of towering trees “enhanced prosocial helping behavior and decreased entitlement” among participants. In other words, it made people kinder!

It’s good for the workplace too

If you’re not getting enough hours to get more things done, take note. A study published in Psychological Science found that awe leads to feeling like you have more time available. It also brings you into the present moment, makes you less impatient with co-workers and clients, and helps you to influence your decisions.

More research found that inducing awe at work results in people cooperating, building community, sharing resources, and sacrificing for each other–all altruistic traits of a productive and supportive work setting.

Awe also stimulates wonder and curiosity in people — behavioral traits that more companies are assessing and hiring for culture-fit. As it turns out, curious people are very proactive and results-oriented — eager to learn new things and help improve the business.

Take your meeting outside

With technology ruling our lives 24/7, with so much of our attention being fixated on our devices, and with so much of our time being spent indoors at work, we are quickly becoming awe-deprived.

Conversely, we are seeing a growing trend known as “walk and talk” — meetings that take place during a walk outdoors instead of generic indoor settings where meetings are commonly held.

Research has found that the mere act of walking actually increases the likelihood of creative thinking, making walking meetings even more effective while increasing the possibility of inducing awe. Other evidence finds that walking meetings lead to more honesty at work and are more productive than traditional sit-down meetings.

Consider taking an “Awe Walk.” Keltner describes it as a “walk within a place of meaning and beauty, where your sole task is to encounter something that amazes and transcends, be it big or small.”

Keltner says you can take an Awe Walk day or night, in rural and urban settings. Here are the steps he goes through during his Awe Walk.

  1. Take a deep breath in. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Keep doing it throughout the other steps.
  2. Feel your feet on the ground and listen to the surrounding sounds.
  3. Shift your awareness now so that you are open to what is around you, to things that are vast, unexpected, things that surprise, and delight.
  4. Let your attention be open in exploration for what inspires awe — the sights and sounds, big or small, all around you.
  5. Bring your attention back to the breath. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Coming out of these experiences of awe, we often feel a sense of wonder.

As you move through your day, states Keltner, take note of the moments that bring you wonder, that give you goosebumps: These are your opportunities for awe.

Bringing It home

We are depleting ourselves of the awe-some (yes, I said it) opportunity to experience the wonders and beauty of the natural world, or the wonders and beauty of human interactions that bring value to the workplace. Organizations of every stripe are in a key position to seek out and create the environment for these experiences to take place — the kind that, they’ll find, surprisingly, will lead to productive outcomes.

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Mindful walking

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Yesterday I had time between meetings, and chose to talk a walk. Norway has a plethora of places to escape to if you need some peace and quiet, so I went into the woods. A lot of people were out, since the sun was shining and that does not happen to often in Bergen.

I had no rush, an hour was at my disposal, so I could choose the pace I wanted. That suited me perfectly, because taking your time means being in the here and now. I saw the trees more clearly, and smell how they were preparing for spring. The road in front of me went in all directions, and it felt like a privilege that I could go wherever I wanted.

After a while I came to a small lake. It had a little sand beach, that was shining in the sun. Clear water licked the sand away, and the soothing movements brought my mind to rest. I also saw a lot of dogs, eager to smell and explore their surroundings. How free they were, how simple their lives seemed. I realized that sometimes it is that simple. You only need to look around you, take the world in. Even if my head sometimes tried to lure me into planning or worries, I would not let it. Instead I continued walking, one foot in front of the other. Feeling my feet touching the earth underneath.

Usually I am not very good at being in the present. I have thought that mindfulness is not for me. I am too busy and can`t be bothered to just sit and stare into the air. Even if I have discovered time and time again that doing just one thing at the time gives me pleasure and enjoyment, I so easily forget it. Because there is another email I must answer, another task I have to do before my next appointment.

When you think about it, there really is no rush. My roommate tells me that what you don`t manage to do, should not be a concern of mine. They are just small annoyances, and the world will not fall apart.

While I walked, letting the sun touch my face, I realized that he was right. The world is very much where it should be. And nothing that I have done or will do can change that. The world is always close to us, ready for us to explore it and enjoy.

 

Sotra-Øygarden

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The fog

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We have reached the top of the mountain, and are preparing to walk down again. There is only one problem:  Fog is enveloping the mountain, making it difficult to orient ourselves as we start making our way back. We have to turn around a lot of times, and try new paths. Me and my best friend, do our best. We ask people walking upwards, where they come from and continue optimistically. But still, we get lost. A sign points us in a direction that goes nowhere. Suddenly we are surrounded by threes, and my friend remarks that this is what she loves about walking in the mountain. The unrealistic and somewhat dreamy quality of the landscape. The fog makes it even more beautiful. I nod in agreement. It is truly mesmerizing, and I feel alive even if I am a bit afraid that we won`t find the right path and eventually arrive somewhere far away from where we started walking. We pull out our cellphones, and try to let the GPS point us in the wrong direction. After walking around in a circle and through some muddy waters, we finally find a path. And as if in a miracle, we come down not where we started, but a bit further to the right. As it happens, this is actually closer to where we had parked the car, and we sigh in relief. I tell her, that this was the best thing that could happen: We got lost, but found a new way that was actually better. She tells me it was a great trip. For her, mediation is walking.

It is noticing all the small details around her, and I agree. I have tried Yoga, but somehow it does not appeal to me. I like reading, I like walking and I like having time to think while also doing something else. Some people say that walking in the mountains and listening to music at the same time, is not really relaxing. But who can decide what is relaxation?  People are different and have different needs. After the trip, I felt great. Like some part of me had awoken from a slumber. The fog did not confuse me. It reminded me that being lost means having a opportunity to find new paths. To arrive somewhere we could not imagine before we started. Being shrouded in mysteries, gives us perspective. By feeling confused, our brain have an unique opportunity to look at things a different way.

And we found our way. Just not in the way we imagined.

fog-mountain-isabel-poulin

The sound of dancing trees

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We are walking in the woods. The wind is blowing, rustling the leaves. The smell of pine trees envelops us. It reminds me of my past: Sitting under a red-leaved tree, looking up at the sky, feeling happy. The wind tries to blow off my cap, so I press it down. My ears are cold, so I put my scarf up. I am breathing through the fabric, watching him from the corner of my eye. He is smiling and talking about the future he wants to build.

I see the trees around me. Some are thin, swaying calmly back and forth. Some are thicker, with green needles drizzling down on us. He gets something in his eyes and has to stop. His eyes are tearing up and he starts blinking several times, but it doesn`t help. After a while, he gives up and continues walking. I start to say something else, and after a while asks about his eye. He smiles and tells me everything is alright now, the irritating object is gone. Funny how things suddenly stop being irritating when you stop bothering about it.

We have already walked far, and he has told me more about himself. He talks about his father, who in spite of trying to protect his children, made things worse by not letting them explore their world on their own. Suddenly I remember a psychological experiment where people in a nursing home could push a button if they needed a nurse. One group did not get this option, and had to wait and see what happened. The group that could choose when to push the button, and thereby control their environment, soon became more independent in other aspects of their lives. They wanted to decide what they should eat, and found more meaning in their everyday life. How can a little thing like that, change so much?

Humans crave freedom. Nothing is more important.

When the wind is blowing, bending trees this way and that, they can do nothing else than stand there, letting the wind decide what happens next. Some stems are weaker than others, but also more beautiful 7567cfbca97f90690cb6205acb6d94d3when they sway back and forth. They are dancing, free like birds even if their stems ground them. A realization hits me: No matter your circumstance, you can adapt. Sometimes the gushes of wind will be strong and scare you. But if you go with the wind, letting it carry you without fear, you might just be stronger than you think.

Dancing tree women 

Have you ever stood in the wind, feeling the force of it? Your hair flying, your clothes dragged backwards. Maybe you are trying to go forward, but the gusts are too strong. So you just stand there, close your eyes and feel the air on your skin. If you turn around, the wind will shove you forward. And you are the one to decide where to go next.

 

More:

The Misconception: If you are in a bad situation, you will do whatever you can do to escape it.

The Truth: If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in.

 

 

 

 

 

How to adapt and survive : Be mindful

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Right now I am struggling to adjust. A new job means thousand small differences that all must be brought together in a new way. My room-mate told me: the people who manage to survive, are those who are able to adapt. Some of the differences I have to adjust to, is more tasks of a different kind. I also must learn to work with children and the system, instead of long-term therapy with traumatized adults. I must learn to remember more practical information, like when the children got extra help in class and which subjects they like and dislike. I must learn to use different types of questionnaires and tests and focus on school instead of how they suffer psychologically. This also mean that I must put aside time to reflect and rest my head, like I do when I write. Instead of rushing from one task to another, making mistakes along the way as I forget things, I must take a breath and ask myself questions: what did I just learn? How can I remember the phone call I will have to take? How did it feel to feel a bit stupid since I couldn’t answer a question about what a dyslexic child needs?

  
By giving myself time, I am able to enjoy what I’m doing. I can appreciate the newness of it all by realizing that this is a chance to broaden my knowledge-base and understand even more about the complexity of our minds. Learning new things can be so frustrating, but the reward when we finally get where we wished we were from the begin with, is even higher since we had to struggle a bit with it. And the best of all: by being mindful about the process I’m going through, I’m more able to understand how it must be for children with different cognitive disadvantages to learn something new. 

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