Thursday, March 31, 2016

How Inner Joy Blooms For All

Life gave me another beautiful lesson this week. And, as usual, it came in an unexpected way.

I attended the visitation and grave-side funeral for my parent’s long time neighbor, who I’ll call “Mrs. Green”. For over 50 years, she’s lived just a couple doors down at the end of Dad’s street. While my intention was to pay tribute to Mrs. Green and support the family, I had no idea I would also be receiving inspiration and a shot of….joy.

Yeah, joy.

Not what I was expecting to experience at a funeral. But that’s what happened. You see, Mrs. Green was different.

She was a little thing who worked for many years in public service as part of a local government office. She loved to golf, entertain friends, sing in the church choir and spend countless hours in her beautiful rose garden. She was sweet to all the neighborhood kids, visited sick neighbors and supported local charities.

Sounds like a lot of nice little old ladies, right? Nope. She was different.

She wasn’t an “I’m doing this thing because it looks good” or “I have to be nice or I’m going to hell” kinda gal. She was genuine. She was kind. And she was always “smiling joy.”

Real joy.

She radiated joy.

I’m talking honest to God, sparkly-white-light-shining JOY.

Something struck me at the funeral as I heard various stories from family and friends about this lovely woman. Everyone mentioned the same things: she was always impeccably dressed with full make up and appropriate jewelry, she was healthy and active until the end; she kept a lovely home, was a masterful hostess and loved tending to her beautiful yard and magnificent rose garden. She was a steadfast friend and supportive, loving parent.

I suspected that Mrs. Green somehow knew something the rest of us didn’t.


It finally dawned on me. The love and respect she had for herself was what fueled the joy that was then reflected in her appearance, her health, her home, every aspect of her life. And that joy radiated to anyone else lucky enough to be in her world.

Mrs. Green was not a selfish person. I believe she simply understood we are all children of God and therefore deserving of love and respect. She was smart enough to understand we can’t give what we don’t have. So by creating a loving world for herself, she was able to share that joy with others. Many others.

She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, friend…all because she must have known true love for others starts within our own heart. It starts by falling in love with the “spark of God” that is each one of us at our core.

WOW! Right in my own childhood neighborhood I’d discovered an example of the teachings I’d studied for years! Countless self-help books had discussed the practice I witnessed this lady live out as I’d observed her from the sidelines for over five decades.

After the service, I drove by Mrs. Green’s house and saw the manicured lawn, lush potted plants and the radiant rose garden. It was beautiful. It was a joy to behold.

As I drove by, I realized the roses had been her joyful gift to the neighborhood all these years. Her yard is a testament to the beauty of life, if we’re aware enough to see it.

I realized this must be how her inner joy blooms for all….

Friday, March 25, 2016

“I know what you’re going to say….”

My friends and I have a running joke. Although I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who thinks it’s funny.

Anytime anything – ANYTHING – goes wrong and my buddies call me, they know the first question I’ll ask and they immediately go on the defensive.

“My three-month-old-car needs a new transmission. I can’t believe it, I’m so mad! I know what you’re going to say…”

“My mother-in-law is driving me nuts! I can’t take her endless chatter. I know what you’re going to say…”

“I work with morons! You wouldn’t believe how they run this business! They just don’t get it! I know what you’re going to say…”

Yeah, they know what I’m going to say. “Have you been meditating?”

I know. At first glance you may not see the connection. You may not understand how it relates to everything that happens to you. But it does.

How could meditation help in the examples above, you wonder? Here’s a short explanation from my book “How to Choose Love When You Just Want to Slap Somebody”:

Why meditate? Countless medical, scientific and spiritual sources tout the benefits of consistent meditation. A few common benefits widely reported by people who consistently meditate include:

  • Feeling happier and more at peace
  • Increased social skills and feeling of “connectedness”
  • “Stress eating” is reduced or eliminated thus overall weight is reduced
  • Reduced events of “impulse buying” due to calmer thought patterns
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Muscles feel more relaxed (some say they even appear younger once meditation drains stress from the face!)
  • Increased brain function: improved memory and greater clarity
  • Increased pain tolerance
  • Increased creativity and problem solving
  • Reduced overall stress (and reaction to specific stress triggers) 

In what universe do you NOT want to be more peaceful, calm, happy and healthy? From that vantage point, life’s challenges are not only easier to understand, but it’s easier to see alternatives and navigate through the issue.

Does a meditation practice mean you can eliminate stress? No. It does mean you’re better equipped to handle whatever life brings your way. Life can be stressful. Meditation makes a positive difference in how you handle the stress.

After meditating for over 20 years, I can honestly say the quality of every aspect of my life has improved from this practice. I believe meditation is so fundamental in creating the foundation for a happy, healthy life that it’s the first thing I discuss with my coaching clients.

What about you? Are you or a loved one experiencing health issues? Work driving you crazy? Feel so frustrated you want to hit your head against a wall?

Let me ask you a question…have you been meditating?