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More of the Mundane

24 Sep


The happy view from my new I-phone.

Call it commercialism. Call it blatant distraction from pure mystical awareness. Call it what my hubby does (with disgust) when we’re both relaxing at night next to each other tapping away – “look at us – we’re such yuppies.” Call it whatever you will, but I would like to thank the mystical powers that be for creating a device that has kept me on time, on schedule and on task for almost two weeks now (almost). Any contraption that can pull this hippie-dippy girl’s head out of the clouds and put her feet on the earth must be a divine inspiration. J’ai!

As for me, I will call it the “anti-planner”. I’ve chosen simple, clean apps to keep my life simple and clean. There’s Zenbe, the list maker that spills everything out of my head and onto a list (and can be synced with my hubbies I-phone – even mid trip to Trader Joe’s!), making meditation much more free, the calendar that syncs off of my computer, the alarm – my most used feature – that I set 5 minutes before I have to leave for anywhere and has kept me almost on time, there’s email for emergencies like today when the babysitter couldn’t make it to The Dog tonight, there’s the meditation app that dings every 10 minutes in gong audio for a zen reminder of how long you’ve been sitting and NOT thinking about how long you’ve been sitting. The cream of the crop? There’s even an app to keep the kids occupied during the carpool and commute in zen fashion – it’s a chubby Buddha who laughs when you tickle his belly.

So yea, Satan has finally gotten to me. (hee hee) I have been distracted by modern technology. The world is such a scary place. Be careful, Apple is out to seduce you. You may be next.

(Now look above again? Who can tell me what terrible disease my poor tomatoes have?)


meditation on sunscreen

11 Jul

We love the sun at the Gallagher abode. It’s all about the beach, the parks with water features, and the sprinklers. Poor baby girl has that gorgeous pink toned skin. You know the kind that my mother-in-law and my mom have? Both my MIL and my Mom have had skin cancer removed from their face and it isn’t fun so I’ve vowed to protect my kids. I have sunscreen in every form: the spray is killer for the fast pit stop at the park, the coppertone sport and all of it’s generic forms soak in fast and easy. I have oil-free expensive sunscreen for our faces and I even carry the sunscreen glue-stick in my bag for emergencies. None of it though is easy to apply to faces. Drew especially, is sensitive and if I get it too close to her eyes, or don’t rub it in well enough and she goes in water, it will cause her eyes to swell up and she’ll spend the next 24 hours in a rash. I know, TMI, too much (boring) info.

Well, long story shorter, I’ve taught my kids to suck it up and sit still or we don’t go out. The kids have mastered relaxing their faces so that I can rub in that protection adequately. Last week while on vacation at the beach, I was hurrying them out the door, applying sunscreen on hoards of children like a mad-woman, and when I told Drew too sit for her face and relax, she did. How does a proper 4-year old yogini relax for her dreaded sunscreen?….

sunscreen meditation

work in progress

23 May

Today after my morning yoga, I sat quietly. I felt connected, centered and peaceful. I vowed to go a whole day living from this place of peace and grace. I vowed to go a whole day without getting annoyed with my children or raising my voice. I meant it from my heart. That was at 6:45 AM.

At 7:45 AM I lost it. Voice raised, me exhasperated. 7:45 AM!!! My story was great, who is using magnets to draw and scrape black marks on the refrigerator? Again? (I’ve scrubbed the fridge of this ailment before. )

I wonder how much of my meditation, while well intentioned, is just living in fiction. I’m focused on my breath and feeling that place of peace that surpaseth understanding. Then I enter the real world and get lost in my frustrations. Interesting thing is though, that it’s the real world that’s the story, the delusion and the peaceful part that is real.

I would love to be more skilled at merging the two, this real world of meditation and being able to see past my frustrations and hot buttons throughout the day.


14 Nov

So I’ve been meditating faithfully for two weeks now. It’s been the easiest thing ever. Now, literally speaking, I have to be honest and just say that I suck at meditation. I’ve got some pretty good stories going on in my mind and they are like a vacuum, sucking me in. But, non-the-less I enjoy the process of watching where my attachments are and I am reveling in the wave of consistancy I’ve created from daily practice.

I gave up vegetarianism years ago when I gave up perfectionism. For me, the two were intimately linked.  In a paradoxical way, eating meat was very healing for me.

With my past perfectionism in mind combined with other issues from my past, I thought it wise not to make any declarative statement about becoming a vegetarian. I thought, it’s something that should happen without dogma. It should be a natural evolution.

So very quietly, tagging along behind my consistent meditation practice came a desire to stop eating meat. I can’t really explain it, except to say that it’s been a really natural shift. So far I’ve been cooking vegetarian without the kids noticing.

It’s been an unexpected side-effect of meditation and I’m fascinated by it!

Foiled Again

5 Nov

I love daylight savings in the fall. I’ve been waiting to fall back for weeks now. My grand master plan (insert evil laugh here) is to wear the kids out by day, keep them up late and have them sleep in according to the new clock. This plan then allows me to stay on the old time, easily waking an hour early to have a quiet hour to myself to meditate or practice yoga.

It’s 5:45am at the Gallagher house and I’m starting to rouse on my own, before the alarm clock. Yay! The plan is working. I roll over and smile inside – man I’m good. The next thing I hear is my seven-year old “whisper-yelling”.  Now in my tiny little house, if one person is rustling, whispering, or breathing too loudly, we’re all awake. Eeek. As it turns out, Kieran was stealing a pillow from his big brother. Yep, while he’s asleep. Nope, it didn’t go over very well. It was a big commotion and I had to drag Kieran into the closet so I could have a dharma talk with him about loving-kindness without waking the house.

Sigh. The master plan was foiled again.

I take safety pins and pin Kieran to his mattress by his pajamas – oh wait, I’m going into fantasy mode again – I mean, I tucked Kieran into my bed and went downstairs to start my meditation. Once again it seemed like a beautiful day.

Thud, thud, thud. That’s the sound of Kieran coming down my stairs. Let me tell you a bit about son #2. My Kieran doesn’t do anything quietly. He doesn’t do anything slowly. Everything is a competition. He’s the number two child. That’s his job.

On to plan B… let’s put this kid into meditation. I do meditation with the kids occasionally, so Kieran knew what to do. I gave him my mala beads to help him focus and set the timer for seven minutes – one minute for every year old he is. I gave him a little mantra to repeat for each bead, “I can use my voice wisely”. He was really excited about it. I explained that getting around the set of mala beads one breath at a time usually takes about 15 minutes, so he might just get around the beads half way and that’s just fine. After working in the kitchen for about two minutes, I heard Kieran yell “YES! Mom I already got around the beads one time!” Every couple of minutes he would squeal with delight at how fast he was able to accomplish this goal of his. At the end of the seven minutes he came to me and was so proud that he flew through his meditation so quickly! Well, his loud voice woke the other kids so our day began much earlier than planned.

Foiled again.

It’s so obvious to see that my little man had no clue why he was sitting in meditation. To him it was a chore that he could accomplish by going faster and being efficient. He certainly wasn’t paying attention to his mantra. But I have to admit that minutes earlier in my own meditation I actually caught myself thinking, “Wow. I’m meditating so much better today than yesterday.”

Foiled again.


2 Nov

November 1st. It’s the first day of my month of meditation. I love it, but somehow it feels like something frivolous or extra.  Sit. Do nothing. Wow, just the act of giving myself permission to sit and be still is healing all in itself. It’s also a bit unsettling.

My favorite analogy for meditation is that our thoughts are a river and our true selves are riding downstream.  At first we go through life, not realizing that we are not the river so we hang on for dear life and bang up against every rock and branch. It’s a pretty brutal existence. I am my thoughts… bang! I believe my thoughts… smack! When we start meditation, we take the ride and jump to the bank of the river as much as we can. If we can make it to the bank of the river, we can watch our thoughts go by and catch our breath. The thoughts still move fast and loud, but at least we are able to be an observer of the river rather than the river itself. After some practice, we can eventually develop the ability to dam up the river completely or let it flow at will. Or so they say.

Today was a fun adventure. I was in the river, and sat on the banks of the river dripping. Back into the river, onto the banks.  It went on for some time. One thing I have learned to do with meditation is laugh at myself and the thoughts that keep popping up again and again.

Try to not think at all for 5 minutes. I guarantee it will keep you busy!


24 Oct

Years ago I went to a dharma talk entitled, “The Nature of Suffering”. This was before my introduction to the world of Buddhism, of bliss, of stilling the mind. This was in the middle of my crazy mind, newly released from anti-depressants.

I went to the talk thinking that suffering had nothing to do with me. I had in my mind visions of third world countries and starving children. People scraping to get by. Pretty ironic, considering that I myself was raw, newly off of anti-depressants and dependent on yoga to sustain me. I had never classified my depression as suffering before. It was a huge “a-ha” moment for me.

The year following that talk I found my paradigms of life shifting. I became more aware of my thought process and found that karma was powerful in the energetic field of thought waves. Positive thinking became a way of life and living in the present moment became a key to my happiness. Santosha, or contentment became a guiding principle for how I framed my thinking. I surrendered many of my attachments to what I thought was important in life. It was liberating.

Yesterday a friend was telling me about her beautiful new house, explaining that she needed more square footage.  The chat quickly went to the horrors of trying to prepare her current, huge, beautiful house for sale,  keeping it clean for showings and worrying about whether it will sell quickly. About every two months I have the same discussion with someone new.  I find it extremely hilarious. I need….more square footage. More square footage to fill with more stuff and more children and more maintenance and more bills and more… happiness? I need… I want… I expect… One simple thought creates a whole lot of suffering!

We all learned it when we were kids… happiness comes from within. Somehow that is just too simple for us to believe, so we skip right over it and rush off in the world to search for happiness somewhere else. Our culture perpetuates the collective thought that we are not enough. We are not beautiful enough, wealthy enough, powerful enough or smart enough. Our houses are not big enough, our loved ones aren’t helpful enough and jobs are not fulfilling enough. We are bombarded with comparisons and disparity. If you live without an awareness of what is going on around you, you will be eaten up in the mad rush to do more and be more. I see it everywhere… people jumping from one distraction to another. My pampered, spoiled world is surrounded by suffering.

I’m not poo-poo-ing this type of suffering. It is real. I’m also not judging it. I am no master and I often find myself jumping on and off the same endless wheel of desire. Let’s call it what it is. When we’re in that mode of unconscious dissatisfaction, it is a form of seeking. It is our way in. We’re seeking happiness and our suffering is waking us up and taking us deeper inside. When I jump into the game of “I want… I need”, I try to stand back and say, “Oh. Hello suffering. It must be time to start paying attention again.”

I just found out that the husband of one of my best friends has an in-operable brain tumor. It’s the worst kind of tumor you can have and it is stage 4. That means that he has anywhere from 2 months to several years to live. News like this brings life screaming back into perspective for me. I look at my friend, her husband and their two beautiful children. They have a blessed and beautiful life. This man has had a lot of joy in his 39 years. When he says good-bye to this existence it will be a sad farewell, but also the end of a beautiful life well lived and full of love. This is suffering on an unimaginable scale, and again I’m reminded to wake up, slow down and experience joy right now.

Joy is our birthright. Happiness is our natural state of existence and its one of the great purposes of this life on earth. This life is not about proving ourselves worthy of a future reward. It’s not about lining everything up perfectly so that then we can experience happiness.  This existence is about embracing every moment we have with an open heart and an honest mind. It’s about recognizing where we are right now as perfect and whole. It’s about learning to recognize the God-consciousness that we all have within us and living our personal dharma. I’m convinced that if we could recognize the seeds of divinity within ourselves and get a small glimpse of our own potential we would be blown away. Blown away. The world would never be the same. Frances of Assisi said, “what we are looking for is what is looking.” Rabbi Kushner said, “Hold up your hands in front of your eyes. You are looking at the hands of God.”

Now isn’t that something to smile about?