mindfulness

Why is it important to keep going?

In the face of crises, it is easy (or not necessarily easy but kind of default behavior) to give up. We might think, “I’m done” or “I can’t do it anymore.” But we should remember the things that are worth fighting for–the things that keep us going. I’ve practiced gratitude journaling here and there and find it helpful to remember what I am truly grateful for in this life.

In my mindfulness practice, I’ve decided to make a list of ten things that I am grateful for every day. Here’s what I’m grateful for today:

1.That first cup of coffee.

2.My delicious breakfast (thank you, Nutella!)

3.Today’s rain brings welcome respite from the heat in Puerto Rico.

4.A new app for me–“Hanx Writer”–reminds me that I would love a typewriter (but this is good for now!)

5.A break from school gives me time to write (it’s also a break from assigned reading.)

6.Truthfully? Living at home. And my lovely mother.   🙂

7.Having three sisters and their company when things get boring.

8.Listening to these songs today has made a big difference: Ask by The Smiths, White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes, and the soundtrack of the film Brooklyn (wonderful soundtrack!)

9.A good shower cures anything.

10.I talk to my grandparents on a daily basis. They remind me why it’s important to keep going. Even when we feel blue for no particular reason.

What keeps you going every day? What are you grateful for today?

 

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writing

What makes a person a writer?

Writing hasn’t always been my preferred method of catharsis, I used to cry much more than I do now. And talk. Talking was my preferred method of venting. But over time, I learned to love writing and it has become my favorite way to release both negative and positive emotions. It is also a creative outlet and one of the few that I have. I’m not saying I’m talented, I’m not saying I have a special gift, but I enjoy writing. I consider myself a writer, but many people would disagree. Many people would say that a writer should gain fame and recognition, but I’m not looking for that. What I want to know is what makes a person a writer? I know hundreds of writers I enjoy and I believe that anybody that desires to be a writer can be a writer. But when I feel discouraged, when I feel like I don’t want to write, or even read for that matter, I resort to inspirational quotes to keep me going and remind me that I don’t have to go anywhere in particular. I am, as they say, “going with the flow.” Here are some quotes about writing to encourage those out there that feel questioned, judged, criticized, or who just want to give up. Remember: nobody is perfect. If you want to be a writer, write. It’s that simple. But—for those who disagree or who have more insightful advice—share in the comments section below!

 

 

 

 

 

books, mindfulness

Reading Pema Chödrön

Highlights from Chapter 1 of her book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

Chapter 1–The Fundamental Ambiguity of Being Human

1.Of the Three Commitments discussed in the book, the first is the Pratimoksha Vow. This vow highlights the importance of being good to people by not causing harm to others. Not even in thoughts.

2.Understanding the fundamental ambiguity of being human is being aware and accepting one of the laws of the universe: everything changes—

3.And: “When we resist change, it’s called suffering.”

4.What happens when we let go of our self-destructive habit of resisting change? We experience freedom and freedom—as Chödrön simply puts in her book—is nothing more and nothing less than accepting change. Accepting that everything changes.

5.But how do we begin to accept change? And accept it on a daily basis? Chödrön says that we tend to hold on to things rather than letting them go by truly experiencing them in the moment. Experiencing them in the moment means not repressing bad feelings, but being truly aware of them. Holding on to our feelings is called ego-clinging and a way to deal with it is by identifying our attachment or our shenpa. “Shenpa has a visceral quality associated with grasping or, conversely, pushing away. This is the feeling of I like, I want, I need and I don’t like, I don’t want, I don’t need, I want it to go away.”

6.If ego-clinging is one of the causes of our suffering, then how do we deal with it? Besides understanding that we must accept change and renounce to the practice of holding on to things. Well, we let go by being fully mindful of both the good and the bad feelings. A good practice is thought labeling. Once we identify shenpa, we can welcome all of the feelings that we experience, but rather than cling on to them for hours, days, or even longer than that, we hold them for a couple of minutes.

7.For instance, I’m angry that somebody cut in line at the supermarket but rather than stay angry until I get home, I will embrace it for a minute or two, perhaps take a few deep breaths, and then let it go. Because, after all, these feelings are transient Feelings of sadness, anger, joy, etc. are all transient and when we identify these we begin to accept one of the most important lessons of the book:

8.Our identity is fluid—not fixed. As Chödrön beautifully highlights: “Rather than living a life of resistance and trying to disprove our basic situation of impermanence and change, we could contact the fundamental ambiguity and welcome it,” and “The way to weaken the habit of clinging to fixed ideas and contact the fluidity of thoughts and emotions is to shift your focus to a wider perspective.”

9.This means not only labeling out thoughts but experiencing them in time and space. Chödrön advises to let them arise, dwell, and return to space. When we practice this instead of “rehashing” the same feelings over and over again we strengthen our practice of dealing with negative emotions.As for the positive emotions, though fleeting as they may be, we shouldn’t pressure ourselves in dismissing. At least, that is my advice. For me, thought-labeling is useful in dealing with distressing emotions and avoiding obsessing over them. But if you’re happy, who’s to say you should immediately let go of it. Enjoy it!

10.As for the positive emotions, though fleeting as they may be, we shouldn’t pressure ourselves in dismissing. At least, that is my advice. For me, thought-labeling is useful in dealing with distressing emotions and avoiding obsessing over them. But if you’re happy, who’s to say you should immediately let go of it. Enjoy it!

 

Nevertheless, the practice is to be fully aware of thoughts and emotions as we become more mindful of them.

 

 

 

audiobooks

Wishing for // Audiobooks

I’ve always been fond of reading books, so I’m giving this a go: Listening to them instead. I made a list of ten that I hope won’t disappoint. Let’s see how it goes!

1.The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo: Read the book and it absolutely lovely. I think listening to the story will be a different experience, but a positive one nonetheless.

2.Bossypants by Tina Fey: Love her! I’ve heard good things about this one.

3.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: A classic. I think I’ll prefer the audiobook to reading the book itself. We’ll see.

4.The Help by Kathryn Stockett: Intrigued by the film that I enjoyed so much (with Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis.)

5.Paper Towns by John Green: I was recommended this book a while back. The film was good and I think I’m picking this one as the first to listen to.

6.The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett: Watched the mini-series that aired in 2010. I’m excited for this one even though I haven’t read the book.

7.Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë: A classic that I have yet to read (gasp!) But—that’s why it’s on the list.

8.The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: Stumbled upon a summary of this book and it sounds very interesting. I’m thinking this will be second after Paper Towns.

9.If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Watched the film and found it lovely. I’m sure I’ll find enjoy this one—even the sad parts.

10.The Giver by Lois Lowry: One of my favorite books! It’s different to a lot of the books that are released these days and that’s why it’s still a favorite.

 

I’m in no rush to get through these but I welcome recommendations!