“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
If you think about it, while we don’t really need an excuse to meditate, certain common objects can serve as visual reminders to get and stay focused on what we really want.
Glass is part of our everyday life, so that makes it an ideal “meditation trigger.”
It’s used for fine works of art and you see it in ordinary household objects. When you think about it, glass possesses many characteristics that we can use to meditate.
Hold a mirror up to yourself and ponder these 4 qualities.
Meditation on Transparency
One of the first things we notice about glass is that you can see through it. Imagine how your life would be different without anything to cover up. Keeping secrets can cause anxiety and drain us of our energy. Many people talk about the virtues of transparency, but it takes courage to fully reveal ourselves.
Think about your secrets. List the things you keep covered up. Maybe you’re reluctant to let others know your weaknesses or there’s an event from your past you keep hidden.
Examine your motives. There are good reasons to keep some information confidential, like when you’re trying to protect someone’s privacy. On the other hand, you may be ignoring something you’d be better off discussing with someone.
Imagine being more open. Picture yourself revealing more. Ask yourself if having fewer secrets would make you feel more at ease.
Unveil yourself. Get one thing off your chest. Tell someone your correct age or let a coworker know that you need help to meet a deadline.
Meditation on Reflections
A mirror reflects whatever appears before it. To some extent, we’re all products of our environment.
Contemplate your surroundings. Describe the settings where you spend the majority of your time. Form an image of your home and workplace. Or maybe you spend long hours in your car.
Assess your feelings. Connect with how your environment influences your emotions. Discover when you feel relaxed and when you tense up.
Focus on factors that make you feel good. Figure out what settings work best for you. Maybe you thrive on peace and quiet or perhaps you like a lot of background activity.
Redecorate one area. Take what you learn and make one spot more comfortable for yourself. Put a vase of flowers on your desk at the office or clear the clutter out of the back seat of your car.
Meditation on Light
Shining light on glass brings out its beauty. You see its full color and translucency. In the same way, a cheerful attitude makes us feel sunnier and more attractive.
Laugh a little. Spend a few moments laughing. It’s okay if it’s artificial at first. It will soon become an authentic experience.
Savor the feeling. Enjoy the physical and mental sensations. Notice how your heart rate increases and your face flushes. Appreciate how your stress level decreases and you feel more relaxed.
Share your joy. Invite others to participate in your glee. Spend time playing with your children or throw a costume party.
Meditation on Cleanliness
A glass window looks dramatically different after it’s been cleaned. When you remove the surface grime, the whole room brightens up. Our minds often need to be “polished” as well.
Observe your thoughts. Review what’s on your mind. Are you still replaying the traffic jams you encountered during your morning commute or are you giving your undivided attention to your work?
Identify impurities. Recognize which of your thoughts are dragging you down. You may be telling yourself that your thighs are too big or wishing it would stop raining.
Generate positive thoughts. Transform your way of looking at things. Congratulate yourself for trying to lose weight or think of how good the rain is for your garden.
Let glass inspire you how to lead a happier and more meaningful life. Let in more light and gain wisdom through meditation and reflection.
“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” – Groucho Marx
We’re all human, and while we’d ideally be happy and sunshiny all the time, there are those moments (or days) when we find ourselves feeling…less than happy. At that point, we have two choices: continue to be miserable, or change our minds and decide to be happy.
I know it’s sometimes easier said than done, but I want to choose to be happy all the time. (Of course, I’m human, so I have the occasional wallow, just like the next girl!)
That said, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that desire–the desire to be generally happy.
What makes you happy? What are your best tips for getting through a dark spot in your life? Let’s discuss.
Where do you go when you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere in your trip to being a healthier, smaller version of yourself? What happens to you at that moment in time where you’ve tried (what seems like) everything and nothing is working? Where does your mind and body take you when you’re stuck?
This is always a risky area for me. I would say for a solid eighty percent of my time I am on autopilot. To quote my pal Carolyn, “It’s just what we do now”, meaning going to the gym, eating properly, not binging, not freaking out about every little inconsistency or speed bump in the path, is our new “norm”. It’s just what we do. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The other twenty percent of my time is split between the extremes.
Fifteen percent of that time is spent ‘dorphined up, feeling like I’m taking on the world and conquering it bit by bit. Nothing bothers me. Nothing could stand in my way. I have a great attitude and hold my head up high.
In steps that pesky last five percent of my time, which is where I’ve been feeling for the past week. That last five percent is the part that says “you cannot win this game no matter what you do”. I’m living on “screw it” street in my little village and it’s such a dodgy area. There’s bums on the corners… big bums who haven’t seen a Stairmaster in years. There are seedy people in the shadows just lurking about waiting for you to trip up so they can dart out and rummage through your bag, stealing your hidden snack. The street pharmacists are on the corners handing out your drug of choice, be it cheesecake, chips or chocolate. Or worse yet, a cocktail of all three.
So where do you go? What do you do? Who do you turn to?
My first line of defense, and I didn’t even realize it until I started writing today, is my husband, Marco. Today, these words actually left my face and entered his ears.
“I’ve been doing horrible with my food. I just feel like saying screw it all”.
Those words were actually audible. To another human besides myself. I really said that to him. That’s when I realized he’s always my first stop on the self-destruction train. I like to run my ideas of giving up past him first.
It’s actually laughable as I write it because of course I’m never going to stop but maybe I just need a break. A break from what?
I’d like to call my second line of defense to the stand – Carolyn. You’ll remember her from this post.
She’s who I turn to next. She’s going to read this, as I run most of my posts past her before publishing and she’ll have some brilliant encouraging words to say. Or a punch in the arm, you know, whatever she feels will work at the time. Never fail though, she’s walking the walk and talking the talk with me.
Keeping in mind that this is still only a mere five percent of my time, sometimes I realize my funk is a bit funkier than I like it to be and I pull out the big guns.
When I left Novarum, the center where I got help for my food issues, they had me write a list of things that just worked for me, mentally and physically. It seemed so silly at the time to write it all down, they were so fresh in my mind, but I did it. I tucked it away in a book and just keep it there.
That’s my “big guns”, a piece of paper with words of wisdom that I wrote myself.
“Following this routine makes me more calm about food choices.”
“I no longer hide my eating or have that shame that was associated with hiding and eating.”
“If one of my goals ends up backfiring, that’s okay. This is all just a huge experiment to find that best fit for my life, which will change and evolve as I do.”
That’s just a few of the items on that yellowing piece of paper that I use, third line of defense, to keep me centered.
It is so much more than words on paper though. It takes me back to the basics. Back to where I started winning this thing. Back to the really simple ideas of changing the way I thought about food, myself, myself with food, food with myself and all things related, which in the end, was everything.
I get back to the beginning of this chapter in my life and re-read it like a favorite book.
Then I keep on keeping on because that five percent, that little flash of time, has had its moment of glory and I know how to move on.
It wasn’t until I became a parent that I fully understood, and came to love that saying. Just knowing “it takes a village” made me feel like there was somebody, and possibly even several somebodies, out there on my side, rooting for me. It made me feel not so alone and not quite so worried that I was screwing up my own little human.
As a parent you need to select your village wisely. Take one wrong piece of advice from the village idiot and you’ll be getting the parental stink-eye from a lot of other folks out there.
I don’t feel “it takes a village” is relative to just parent’s though. It’s important to have a village of support when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I take my tribe selection seriously!
I carefully choose the people that I take advice from and who I let into my weight loss bubble. Funny my saying that since I blog about most of it publically, but that’s not what I really mean. When you talk openly about trying to lose weight or change your habits you get input, asked for or not, valued or not. People like to give advice and help. Mostly it’s with a pure heart and good intentions.
I will listen to a lot, from a variety of people, but I only actually take a few people’s advice to heart, adding them to my village. You know what I mean. We all have well intended friends and family who still think the cabbage soup diet is the way to go. Those people would be on the “smile and nod” list and only shown property on the outskirts of town. Whereas hearing what works from a friend who really understands the craziness that is my head, that advice gets filed in the “good stuff, remember that!” and lives nearby in the village of my mind.
Weeding out the village idiots from the village people () can be a tricky and sometimes uncomfortable job. It’s not like they walk around with “I give bad advice intentionally” on their foreheads and sometimes they’re people who you are close with, be it emotionally or in proximity.
I have had office mates who I’ve had to uncomfortably tell “I really appreciate your trying to help but I have a team of people I am working with and it really overwhelms me to receive so much advice. If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to just follow what I’m doing and not get any further input.”
Man, that conversation is a hard one to have. It’s not nice. It has potential to make them feel bad and then you feel bad and nobody wants to feel bad.
Putting yourself first is hard, but important. You and your village are truly vital to your success.
My mental neighborhood starts with the people at Novarum, a health center in the Netherlands. Although I graduated from their bi-weekly sessions over two years ago, I still consider them an integral part of my success thus far. I also know they are there, just a phone call away, should I feel myself sliding down a slippery slope into old habits.
Me and Carolyn prepared to spar
Down the road from Novarum lives my pal Carolyn. She just simply gets me. I have interaction with her almost daily and she understands my kind of crazy. And believe me, it’s a special kind of crazy. We all need that one friends that just gets it. On top of being my mental collaborator she’s my sparring partner and workout buddy.
Me and Hilary, my village grocer
My village grocer is Hilary. She’s studied food, is passionate about food and is vocal about food. She’s the delicate balance of information, as I need it and can handle it, and advice. What I love best about her though is that she is always respectful of my boundaries.
Cindy, one of my trainers & me – at the gun show
Living in their own quiet cul-de-sac are the trainers from my gym. They shout encouragement to me as I tear through my workout. We laugh together when they say “burpees” and I reply with “I hate you”. They intimidated the hell out of me when they first moved into the ‘hood but after giving them a chance I know they want me to succeed just as much as I want to be successful.
And the best part about my village is my own home. I have the biggest cheerleader kissing me hello and goodbye every day. My husband, Marco, is one of the most understanding, supportive people I’ve encountered throughout my life. He’s seen me struggle with every aspect of the health game, so he knows it’s difficult. He encourages me in a non-pushy way, which can be a delicate dance. He eats what I want to eat because he knows I’m trying to be healthier. He’s gotten on the exercise bandwagon with me when I didn’t have anybody to work out with and we enjoyed it together. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. There is no better villager than that. Get one of those in your town as soon as you can.
Marco and me
What kind of neighbors make up your own mental village?
I distinctly remember what I felt like prior to getting help for some food issues and previous to working out regularly. For a while, as I mentioned in this post, I avoided being with people, even people I liked. It was a dark, dreary, terrible way to feel every single day.
Now post-workout I also try to avoid people but for a whole other reason.
My name is Sarah and I am an endorphin-aholic.
Let me preface this by letting you know I work out at my office. I am fortunate enough to have a gorgeous, fully equipped gym, complete with enthusiastic trainers and classes, in the lower level of my building. This has its perks. My fortune continues in having a boss that lets me workout during actual “on the clock” hours so I can avoid the gym’s busy periods. Did I mention I love my job and my boss?
I knew exercise was supposed to make you feel better, “they” said. But we all know how “they” can be. “They” have a lot of fickle opinions that change with the wind and the wind seems to whip in a new direction every two weeks.
They were right about endorphins though and I am here to be a witness!
If you’ve never been on an endorphin high let me tell you what you’re missing out on. Imagine taking the tingle of a first kiss and gently mixing it with the excitement of that big drop on a roller coaster and then add a twist – a generous twist – of that adrenaline rush that comes along with your ultimate song being played in a club and you know you’re about to cut a rug. Mix all of that up, add a shot of espresso and voila, that’s how good my post workout endorphins make me feel.
Oh, and they make me chatty (okay, chattier). How unfortunate for the poor souls who innocently step into the elevator with me post exercise- all ‘dorphined up.
Sarah and Carolyn enjoying their well deserved endorphins
In the elevator heading back to our desks, my workout buddy, Carolyn, and I have been known to high five one another for pushing so hard stating, “man you killed it today, you ran!”… and then we just continuing to high five every other passenger in the elevator, celebrating our victories. They had no choice. They must high five.
This is endorphins.
Wide eyed and unsure of what just happened, the innocents would step out on their floors and continue with their day. We smiled widely and waved farewell to them (only to later resolve to stop doing that to people, lest we lose our jobs).
Even on days when I didn’t feel like working out but made myself go, I would be awarded with my endorphins. When I can’t be my own cheerleader, it’s like they’re telling me “way to go Sarah, you did it and we’re proud of you.” They rush over me and they simply just make me feel good. They make me feel proud. They make me feel happy. They make me feel alive and strong.
If you’re on the verge of starting an exercise routine or are just entertaining the thought for somewhere down the road please, please just do it. If you can’t because you just aren’t there, mentally, trust in the endorphins to take care of some of your mental health. Take that one little step and get your endorphins running. You will be so glad you did.