Oprah/Chopra and A Friend

I just love the Oprah/Chopra rhyme! I believe it’s more than coincidence that their names sound so similar. Maybe God/the Universe/Higher Being thought we needed both the male and female version at the same time on earth to make a bigger impact than either of them could have singularly.

Anyway, as you know, I am a big fan of their 3 week meditation challenges because it’s an easy way to get the family involved. They have another one beginning on August 11th and the theme this time is Expanding Your Happiness.

If you’ve done any of their previous meditations, you know that they always begin with a mantra which is simply a word, phrase, or sound repeated to help you get past your thoughts and deeper into your spiritual awareness. What I didn’t know, is that while there are many universal mantras, each of us also has our own personal mantra that is determined by the time, place, and date of our birth.

My dear friend, Armenia, has just completed the second in a three part teaching program from the Chopra Center and is teaching meditation and Ayurveda both locally in South Carolina and virtually over Skype. I did a meditation class with her which was great and it entitled me to my own special mantra. Since I have a pretty strong meditation practice that does not involve mantras, I was surprised by how much affinity I had for the one she gave me. It immediately became a part of my daily experience.

Since my kids were familiar with mantras in general from the Oprah/Chopra meditations, I gifted them each their own personal mantra through Armenia for their summer birthdays. They probably would have preferred an actual birthday party at this age, but I’m hoping over the course of their lifetime, they will forgive me my lack of entertaining capability and appreciate this gesture more. Armenia did an absolutely brilliant job relating meditation to their level, teaching them how to use their mantra, and keeping the kids engaged–no easy task for most subjects let alone, something as vague as meditation. If you’d like your own personal mantra, or to learn more about mediation or the Ayurveda lifestyle, check out Armenia’s website and her blog .

Remember to sign up for the Oprah/Chopra mediation series next month and see if you can get your family involved, too:)! It would also be great if you sign up for Deepak’s special worldwide meditation on August 8th. He is going for the Guinness world record and the intention is for peace. Here is the link to sign up for that one time event http://globalmeditation.chopra.com. Finally, here is a good article with a video clip of Oprah interviewing Deepak as they prepared for their first 21 day challenge.  I think both the article and clip will get you inspired for these upcoming events.

Let me know how it goes for you:). In the meantime, so hum!

Books, Books, and More Books

I just finished reading, Year of No Sugar: A Memoir, by Eve Schaub which was recommended to me by a loyal blog reader based on this post. This was an easy, fast, and light read, but inspiring nonetheless. I learned a lot. For example, I had a bias against processed food and especially high fructose corn syrup (duh, that’s a no brainer, right!?), but did not acknowledging the same biological effects on the body from what I deemed “good” or at the very least, “better”, sources of sugar such as my beloved maple syrup and molasses. I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to swim upstream against the tide of sugar pushed on us from all directions. Schaub talks a lot about another book, Sweet Poison, by David Gillespie which I hope to get on the docket soon. There are also a bunch of youtube videos about this topic from Dr. Lustig who does a great job of translating the science terminology into plain English.  Anyway, this is a subject near and dear to my heart so definitely wanted to pass along! Thanks for the recommendation, Emma!

On to more spiritual material, I just finished Spirit Junkie, by Gabrielle Bernstein. It’s also a light read as it’s mainly her personal story, but that can be inspiring, especially to younger folks. I especially liked her stories of synchrodestiny and her encounter with John of God. I didn’t love this book, but the one thing I took away from it was her breathing exercise. You start with 5 seconds — breath in for 5, hold for 5, out for 5, hold for 5.  At one point, I’d worked my way up to 10, but now I’m back down to 6. I wouldn’t do this while driving, but it’s a quick way to get present and in the center of your head. Funny how not having oxygen is a way to get your priorities straight instantly.

I have no idea how I got through, The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong as it’s a 400+ page history of beliefs since the cave men. It was probably only due to the fact that I was listening to rather than reading it. While I found it interesting in parts, I’d only recommend it if you’re a history buff, anthropologist, or just plain highly academic. My motivation to continue was that I kept thinking I’d get to some important spiritual wisdom, but it was more just laying out the history of humans evolution on faith. I’m glad I read it, but wouldn’t feel comfortable actually giving it a recommendation.

After that academic exercise, I was in need of light read so I picked up May Cause Miracles, again by Gabrielle Bernstein. I listened to this one as well, but this book lends itself to the written format so you can flip through the different exercises. I think this book would appeal to a younger person just starting to explore their spirituality. Having said that, it could be fun to have it on your nightstand and just open it up and try whatever exercise comes up.

I read a couple of books by Mark Nepo recently, The Book of Awakening and Seven Thousand Ways to Listen. I’m not sure if it was the format or the actual books themselves, but I listened to the first one and enjoyed it, but had a physical book for the second one and just couldn’t get into it.  Nepo is a poet so his writing isn’t that linear or easy to follow, for me at least, but his voice is beautiful so I enjoyed listening to his narrative. I can’t say exactly what I learned, but I truly did enjoy The Book of Awakening. Wow, how is that for inarticulate?!?! Oh well, hopefully you get my point:)…

Finally, I picked up The Seeker’s Guide, by Elizabeth Lesser. The print was really small on my version or probably more truthful is that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but either way, this was a tough book for me to get into. So tough in fact, I didn’t finish it even though I have a feeling it was worthy. There was one chapter, however, I really enjoyed on dying and helping people who are in the process of dying. If you find yourself in that situation, I think it was chapter three. My apologies, I get these books from the library and often have to turn them in before I get the chance to write about them.

I have a few more to review, but I’ll save them for next time… In the meantime, would love to hear what your reading and loving and learning!

Mindset and Fail Fast, Fail Often

As you may recall from my last book recommendation post, I was going to ask my husband to read, Mindset, for my Mother’s Day gift. I’m happy to report he did just that and since he liked it, I asked both him and my 13 year old son to read my new fave, Fail Fast, Fail Often, by Ryan Babineaux. I event sent it to my niece for her 8th grade graduation.

Fail Fast, Fail Often is a quick and easy read, and super motivating! I hadn’t thought of myself as a fearful person, but wow, as I read through the book and became more conscious of how, as just one example, I research things to death (Consumer Reports anyone?), I started breaking through layers of inertia, fear, etc. and just started doing/trying more things more often.

For example, a couple of weekends ago, a friend of ours told us about a fun one-mile race he and his family were doing in our town. It sounded fun, but this was less than two days before the event. Prior to reading this book, I would have just thought, “gosh, that sounds fun.” Maybe I would have put it on the calendar to try to schedule for next year.

But down deep, I really wanted to run the race with the kids…this year. Inspired by my new mantra, “fail fast, fail often,” I looked up the race website and found out it was possible to still register the day of the event, however, there were no details on where or how that could be done. Luckily, my husband was supportive and we both agreed that we’d just give it a shot knowing that the whole thing might be a “total fail” as my tweens like to say. We got up early and headed to the event not knowing how or if any of the logistics would work.

We scrambled a bit initially, but it did indeed work. We had a fantastic time, and the kids and I were bonded for the week afterward as as we limped around with our sore leg muscles.

My son tearing it up with my five fingers.

My son tearing it up with my five fingers.

My daughter screeching by me...

My daughter screeching by me…

A few days later, my husband told me about a monthly community bike ride that was scheduled for the next day at 7:30pm and that he thought it sounded fun. Anyone who knows me, knows that this suggestion would normally have been met with a big fat, No Way, Nada, Zilch, NOT Happening, especially on a school/work night. I am fanatical about sleep, not only mine, the kids as well. But, I threw caution to the wind and repeated my now beloved mantra, fail fast, fail often, and agreed to go.

The next night rolled around and  while every ounce of my being wanted to have some hot chocolate and crawl into bed with a good book, I helped rally the kids who were understandably perplexed since we didn’t normally do this sort of thing so late. Nevertheless, off we rode, even with one kid in tears. When we arrived, we realized it was not a family friendly event in that most of the 20 something crowd were drinking and smoking — not just cigarrets. “Mom, they’re sharing smokes,” one of the kids observed with bewilderment. “Haven’t these people heard about germs?!?” the other questioned. We waited for awhile, but ended up leaving before the ride started because it was getting dark and cold. This outing indeed, seemed like a “total fail”, but even that was kind of exhilarating that we were actually living by the book’s mandate, fail!

Then, as we were riding home, and it was really dark and cold by now,  fail fast, fail often whispered to me and we decided to surprise the kids and stop for ice cream. This was even more out of the norm for us so the kids were elated. We celebrated our unusual outing and that we’d all pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones.

In hindsight and going back to synchronicity for a minute, I think one of the best parts (dare I say higher purpose?) of this bike ride, was that  some friends of ours who “happened” to see us on our way to the starting spot, stopped their car to say hello and ask if we were going to their party on Saturday night. I’d been having issues with my email and hadn’t received the invitation. We ended up going to the event and having an incredible time! Had we not ventured out and “happened” upon them, we would have missed this magical evening.

I love what this book has done for me! It’s made trying and possibly failing quite fun! If you’ve ever heard me talk about “perfect pictures” in one of our readings, then this is the book for you! If I start cooking and/or, egads, actually entertaining, then we know it’s a miracle maker. You never know, stranger things have happened:)!