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Nella Coiro

Healing & Personal Development Arts

Simple Mindfulness: My 2 Cents Worth

Welcome to my blog Simple Mindfulness: My 2 Cents Worth, where I will be sharing different topics related to self discovery, personal growth, psychology, healing, spirituality, life, and just about everything in between. Please check in the Archives section to read whatever interests you and feel free to share your comments. Thanks for stopping by!


Blog Posts

Avoiding that Darn Hole in the Sidewalk

 
 
Hi everyone, I have been busy working on my book, so I haven’t posted in a while.  This week, Portia Nelson’s poem re-captured my interest so I am going to write my blog on this. 
 
This eloquently written poem is called “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters”, and it explores personal growth and change as journey which embraces unexpected detours and temporary roadblocks. I really love this poem because although brief, it is filled with beautiful and profound visuals.
 
Chapter One
 
I walk down the street;
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk;
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless,
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.
 
Chapter Two
 
I walk down the same street;
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk;
I pretend I don't see it;
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place,
but it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
 
Chapter Three
 
I walk down the same street;
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk;
I see it is there;
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open,
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
 
Chapter Four
 
I walk down the same street,
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
 
Chapter Five
 
I walk down another street.”
 
 
In the first chapter, the person unexpectedly falls into the hole and it’s takes a great deal of effort to get out of that hole. The hole in the sidewalk can be symbolic of so many situations in life – self defeating behavior, bad habits, mistakes, poor judgment, a relationship. (I’m sure you add to this list).
 
Now, walking down the same street, (in chapter two), she pretends that the hole isn’t there, (tries to ignore it).  Denial? Guess what happens next? Yep, she falls in that same hole yet again, and then becomes frustrated and annoyed with herself. She might have said to herself, “What the hell? Why am I here again?” - Been there and done that more than once. Have you?
 
This takes us to chapter three.  At this point, there is really no reasonable excuse for falling in that same darn hole again. There’s that same hole again. She sees it, and she still falls in. Oops?
 
This is what Albert Einstein might call insanity, which he defines doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Good grief! Why? Simply Habit. It’s familiar. Comfortable and frustrating, but nonetheless, familiar. Habits are sometimes hard to break. 
 
This brings us to the next chapter. In chapter four, she finally gets it, but not completely. Yes, she walked around the hole this time (bravo), but she is still walking down the same street.  Eek! It’s so hard to let go completely and change our habits, isn’t it?
 
Weary enough? In chapter five, she finally gets it.  She walks down a different street and avoids the temptation completely. 

As we fall into the holes in the sidewalk of life, we climb out of the hole and become stronger as we learn lessons. The metaphorical “holes” create “wholeness” because each hole is an invitation for personal growth. 

Your thoughts?

 
 
 
 

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

Hi everyone, this week I was planning to write about a different topic, and while reading another blog, this question caught my attention.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

Wow, what a powerful question! I pondered upon this for a couple of days and jotted down some advice to my younger self. Here goes...

1.    Try to cultivate a mindset of forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others.

2.    Every person that you choose not to forgive will hurt you, not that person.

3.    Let go of the past. You can’t change it and it no longer serves you.

4.    Those things that you wanted to say, but did not say, will haunt you the most.

5.    You cannot fill a void or emptiness within you with something outside of you.

6.    You are here for a reason.

7.    Pray more, analyze less. 

8.    Laugh more, worry less.

9.    People make mistakes, and this doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person.

10.    Treat yourself with the same kindness that you would treat other people.

11.    Don’t take things too seriously. Sometimes it’s not about you.

12.    Be grateful.

13.    The older you get, the faster time seems to pass.

14.    Enjoy the moment.

15.    You cannot control anyone or anything except for your own attitude.

16.    During times of great pain, remind yourself that this too shall pass.

17.    Don’t sweat the small things. In hindsight, most things are small things.

18.    Try to have patience. Anything of value takes time.

19.    Don’t let anyone tell you your dreams are out of reach. 

20.    You are good enough.

21.    Find the learning opportunities in all situations 

22.    When one door closes, look for the next open door 

23.     I can’t is self defeating. In reality, you won’t know unless you try.

24.    Walk through and past your fears

25.    Celebrate your victories in life - 
even the small ones.

26.    Learn to see yourself through the eyes of those who love you.

27.    Karma is a boomerang. What goes around comes around.

28.    Try to learn from the mistakes of others 

29.    Life doesn’t have to be a battle.

30.    Try not to obsess about the past or worry about the future.

31.    Be honest with yourself.

32.    Accept that often there are no answers and we must live the questions.

33.    Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you love them.

34.     Appreciate the uniqueness of others.

35.    Don’t live your life to make other people happy.

36.    Our greatest strength is often a byproduct of adversity.

37.    Nurture your mind, body and spirit.

38.    Take care of your body and health. Your older self will thank you.

39.    Don’t give up a minute before the miracle happens.

40.    Never give up hope.


Actually, my younger self, I cannot tell you anything, because we live life moving forward yet we learn in hindsight.  Hopefully, dear younger self, you will learn through your experiences and to be open enough to learn from your mistakes. 

Finally, remind yourself that your life journey, with all of its challenges, adversity, heartache , joyful moments, adventures and triumphs, will make you the person you were meant to be. 

What advice would you give your younger self?  I welcome your comments. 

 

“Still, I Rise”

 
This week has been particularly challenging for me. Since I’ve been down this road before I have learned that when a struggle arises, I need to look at the learning opportunities in the situation. Historically, my first reactions were usually anger and frustration, because I hated the idea that I felt powerless over a particular situation.  Over time I have learned that anger and frustration were just defenses that helped me to avoid the underlying feeling of fear. 
 
Since I’ve learned to acknowledge and accept my fear more quickly, the anger generally subsides, and this helps me to look at the situation with more clarity. Regardless of what happens to us in life, we always have the power to control our reactions. Learning this helps us to see that although we might be carrying a particular the burden,  the way in which we choose to carry that burden (our attitude) will make all the difference.
 
I think that there is a different mindset between people who are able to overcome life challenges versus people who feel defeated and give up. First off, people who are able to rise above the obstacles can keep their focus on the the learning opportunity that might be available in the situation.  Also, regardless of how dark the road seems, they are able to hang on to a glimmer of hope. 
 
In twelve step groups, there is a saying: “Don’t give up a minute before the miracle happens.” It’s all about hope. Hope is a very powerful motivator! We can live without food or water for a limited amount of time, but I don’t think that we can survive very long without hope.
 
Hope is a mindset and it all begins with the thoughts we choose to focus on. The good news is that we all have the ability to train our minds to think differently, be aware of our thoughts and redirect our thinking. It does take a bit of work, but it is within our reach.
 
I’ve learned that my best thinking can make me miserable if I let it.  It’s usually not the original obstacle that drives me crazy, instead, it’s the thoughts about the future and the fear that the outcome is going to be negative. 
 
The work is to remove the negative thoughts in our heads by replacing them with uplifting thoughts.  I’m a big fan of the writings of Dr. Maya Angelou, especially her poetry.  When I’m feeling anxious or afraid, I repeat these words from her beautiful poem, “Still, I Rise”, and they always strengthen my heart and lift up my spirits:
 
“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
 
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise.”
 

Clearing Our Mind Clutter

 
 
 I think that most of us find it difficult to focus and clear our minds. Our thoughts are tossed around like a beach ball. We go from one thought to another, and can often become fixated on particular thoughts, ruminating and driving ourselves crazy.
 
Here are some ways to help you empty the clutter in your mind:  
 
1.    Are you procrastinating about a project? Finish it! Then it won’t continue to rent space in your mind.
 
2.    Make lists of tasks you need to complete and add tentative deadlines for each task.  
 
3.    Use the recorder app on your phone, iPad or computer, and record everything that comes to your mind. Just ramble. There is something profound that happens when you articulate your random and recurring thoughts. As you do this, you’re automatically decluttering your mind. Also, when you say things out loud, you’re able to see the issues  with a clearer perspective, and very often you can also see the solutions. 
 
4.    Take a brisk walk. Mind clutter is pent up energy, and walking off some of this excess energy will relax your body as well as your mind.
 
5.    Play a game that forces you to focus on only one thing. I play solitaire on my iPad. It works for me!
 
6.    Play with your dog or cat. It’s fun and very relaxing, and your animal will  really appreciate it.
 
7.    Clean up the clutter in your home. I know - no one enjoys this, but it helps.  If you are looking at the clutter all around you, it is going to increase your mind clutter.
 
8.    Listen to music.  It’s a universal healer and it works for everyone.    
 
9.   I have been meditating for many years, and it’s such a beautiful way to focus and relax.  After meditating I usually feel refreshed, calm and de-cluttered. 
 
10.    Some people clear their minds by connecting with nature – taking a hike or sitting on a beach. Fresh air, captivating scenery, the aromas and sounds of nature. It’s a sure way to replenish our serenity.
 
Oh, and one more thing… How did your mind get cluttered to begin with?  Answering this question will help you to avoid a clutter overload in the future. 
 
How do you clear your thoughts?

Delicious Idleness

 
 
Recently, I watched the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” again. This time I was particularly struck by the Italian phrase, “il dolce far niente”, which loosely translates to mean “the sweetness of doing nothing” or ”delicious idleness”.  For some reason, the depth of this concept escaped me which I saw this movie a few years ago.  I guess that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  
 
So, in Italy, people feel that it’s very important to make relaxation a part of their day.  Italians take time to smell the roses.  When I pondered this, I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve savored the moment and stopped whatever I was doing to watch a sunset or inhale the sweet aroma of a beautiful flower.  In fact, it’s been too long.  
 
Even the idea of doing nothing seems stressful.  We seem to feel that we have to fill every moment with activity or we’re wasting time.  Have we become so conditioned to believe that our value is based upon how busy we are?  
 
Heres a question to ponder: Where is the race? Where are we heading to in such a rush? Are we rushing so fast to nowhere that we’re missing the magnificence in the present moment?  I think that we are becoming so busy that we might have forgotten how to enjoy life. We also put a lot of self imposed pressure on ourselves.  How much of it is really necessary?  
 
We have somehow lost our way and have forgotten the beauty that can be found in serenity and peacefulness.  Maybe it’s time to take a close look at the sweetness that can be found in doing nothing.  
 
Gradually we get better at keeping our thoughts in the now, resting our minds and enjoying these precious moments of leisure. The only thing that matters is living the moment, absent of stress or expectations. Our goal is simply to enjoy the moment - savoring it second by second.
 
Ill dolce far niente is a state of mind and means something different to each of us. 
What brings joy to your heart and replenishes your soul?
 
Maybe it watching a breath-taking sunset or sitting on a beach. So, whatever it might be for you, just consider taking time to stop doing and just be. 
 
Just be completely in the moment and see what happens.

 

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