Advice from a Sloth (Costa Rica 4)

Five weeks ago today, I returned from Costa Rica. This amazing business trip was an experience which needed to be digested and the learning and wisdom needed to be integrated into my life in many different ways.

Coming back to the cold climate and a much more hectic lifestyle was one adjustment. Over the last five weeks, I often thought of the sloth which we met along the side of the road and who took a long long loooong time to make its way down to the ground from the top of a tree.

The encounter with this charming mammal made me want to hold my breath in awe. It truly felt like two different worlds colliding. This mesmerizing animal seemed to move in slow motion. We as humans, on the other hand, rush around so much that we often forget how to take it slow.

I have been contemplating what advice a sloth would give us—if it ever cared enough to impart its wisdom.

1.You’ll get there when you get there

December is the time of the year when we seem to review the old year and assess our satisfaction level with how far we have come. It can be useful to focus on our “wins” and accomplishments. It motivates us to strive for the next goal. At the same time, we often forget how arbitrary certain goals or time limits that we have imposed on ourselves are. If looking back and evaluating your successes is making you feel that you have missed a mark or that you are not where you wanted to be “at this age” or at this point in your life, remember that you’ll get there when you get there. Life is not a race after all, even though it might appear that way at times.

2. Relax and Enjoy the View

We are often in such a rush to get somewhere, to grow up, to finish school, to get the dream job or to build a business, to get through traffic to work every day, to fall in love, to get married, to buy a house, to have children, to get the children through different hurdles like school or university, to get them settled and so on.

One day, we might realize that we have focused way too much on completing each goal instead of on enjoying the journey itself. What if we adopted more of the “Relax and Enjoy the View” philosophy? What if we developed a sloth’s eye perspective from high above in the crown of a tree and remembered that there are different vantage points, and that life is about finding joy in each moment?

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3. Get a good grip and hang on tight

When the tropical rainstorms of life come down, the sloth would probably tell us to just hang on and wait for the sun to come out again. There is great value in strength, trust and resilience.

Life changes inevitably happen. Someone we love dies, we lose a job, we can’t have children when we try, we move one too many times, we finally have children, our spouse breaks our trust, we get a divorce, our teenager gets mixed up with the wrong crowd, our elderly parents need us, someone else dies… Any of this or more might happen. All we can do as life throws us a curve ball is to trust that we have the strength to hang on, and when the storm is over, we will utilize all possible resources to pick up the pieces. Some branches will have broken off in the storm and we need to find new ways of getting from one tree to the next.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated in our culture. If we don’t get a reasonable number of hours of deep and restful sleep, usually 7-8, depending on the individual, we are affected in several ways. We might put on extra weight, tend to feel more depressed and have an increased risk for inflammation in our body, diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. We need adequate sleep for a balanced hormone level, for maximum brain function, to problem solve and to have positive social and emotional interactions with others. Sleep helps to heal inflammation, balances our hormones and metabolism and lifts our mood.

5. Remember to Hang Out with Your Kind

Considering how precious time is and how fast it passes, can we make time to just hang out with our friends and family, especially our children or grandchildren, and be truly present with them? The past is over and the future hasn’t been written yet. What would it be like if we brought the energy back in that is flowing into ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, and just allowed ourselves to be here right now, in this moment in time?

 

Does that sound tempting? If you are in need of a bit of a sloth experience, here is a short meditation to help you to pause, to slow down and to just be present.

 

If you enjoyed this meditation you might want to check out other short meditations here.

Contact me for individual coaching sessions, couples’ sessions or workshops.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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In the Now

Art work by Carina Francioso

In the Now _ L' oggi

In the Now

What keeps us from living in the now?

Perhaps it is nostalgia that binds us to yesterday

or hope that leads us to tomorrow.

And yet there was a time in which the present

belonged to us, remember?

As a child there was no space for the past

Everything was a game, a discovery, a passion

Until we moved further away from ourselves.

– from the Italian poem “L’oggi” by Anna Ciardullo Villapiana,

English Translation by Carina Francioso

 

A sweet friend of mine sent me a book with Italian poems as something to pass my time while my fractures are healing. As I am reading the poem above, I am listening to the sounds of spring that enter through the open window. There is the humming of a lawn mower, birds chirping, a few children playing outside, and I am involuntarily transported back to my childhood.

Afternoons felt long, Sundays back then seemed endless. There was this feeling of a whole wonderful day stretching in front of me. Time for leisure, for play, for stillness… rolling down the hill or just sitting on the lawn, feeling the earth underneath and the lush grass, picking daisies, connecting them to a reef to place on my head; looking for four leafed clovers, and feeling so lucky when I found one, knowing that I just had to look long enough; dandelions weren’t weeds back then, they were marvellous wonders in their white costume to be blown all over the back yard.

As children the present really belonged to us, our mind could so easily just be in the now. Today, I need my daily meditation or a vacation—or two broken legs—to be in the same way, to be completely in the now. Sometimes I long to be five years old again to feel like time is standing still, like I have nowhere to go, nowhere to be but here.

That longing inside comes from our soul, which needs to stop to contemplate our humanness and the journey that we are on. It needs to feel gratitude and joy. It needs to slow down at times, right down to almost stand-still, to feel our true essence.

 

True-Essence

“True Essence”  by Carina Francioso

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Angelika, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca, 905-286-9466

Just Let It Be – Easy Meditation Mantras

There are many different forms of meditations. There are silent meditations, chanting meditations, guided meditations using imagery, and many other traditions of meditation. When we are in a deep meditation—similar to when we go into a hypnotic state—we lose track of time. We experience a wonderful right brain state of “connectedness” with all there is.

We usually make getting into a meditative state more complicated than it needs to be. As mentioned in my blog “I Just Can’t Meditate”, meditation means bringing and keeping your attention on what is right now in this very moment in time, letting past and future go, being present with whatever shows up, being mindful.

We live in a fast paced world. Everybody and everything around us is always “go, go, go”. In order to fit in and to survive in this reality, we adapt to the fast pace. Slowing down in this time of constant doing and rushing can seem like an enormous task of mindfulness. How can we outwardly move with everybody else, and inwardly find this place of stillness, a slower pace?

Mantras can be very helpful when meditating. Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Allow each breath to be full, deep and complete. Make sure your belly rises on each inhale and falls on each exhale. When we are anxious we take very shallow breaths. Just shifting to deep belly breathing is like pushing a relaxation button.

When you have taken a few deep belly breaths, begin to say silently to yourself with each inhale “I slow down”. On each exhale think “I let go”. And become a non-judgmental observer. Notice—without judgment—what or where you are holding on to.

Sometimes we have resistance to letting things go, or we don’t know how to let go. Continue to say “I slow down” on your in-breath and experiment with “I release. It doesn’t matter anymore” on your exhale. Notice how the second mantra feels in your body.

I release

One way of letting go is to let things be. What if we stopped trying to make things different? Or what if we stopped wishing things were different? What if we just accepted them as neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong, but just as they are?

Continue to say “I slow down” as you breathe in and say to yourself “I let it be” on your exhale. Notice how it feels in your body to let things be.

I let it be

Letting it be is the ability and willingness to see a situation for what it is, without judgements. Having the willingness to see what really is, increases our ability to respond, our response-ability. And we can then take action steps from a place of calm and love, rather than from a place of resistance and upset.

Most of us have a longing to go home, to be relaxed, at peace, to feel absolutely loved. Another very effective meditation mantra is “I am arriving” on your inhale, “I am home” on your exhale. Focus on your heart as you use this mantra and allow yourself to feel at home in your heart, supported, protected and loved by Mother Earth and the Universe.

I am home

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