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 Page Updated   3-11-15
LIVING IN RECOVERY:   CALMING READING & CALMING PRACTICES
(In Addition to Therapy, Medication, and other Treatment Rationales)

Create a relaxing spot within your home, in your yard or on your patio.  A peaceful environment can be relaxing, soothing, and be an inspiration to you. Click pix to enlarge.

Below:  Same little Zen Garden at
Mid-Summer 2011
Click pix to enlarge.

After being in Borderline treatment for awhile - be it Dialectical-, Cognitive-, Transference-, Schema-, behavior therapies, or any of the others listed under "Treatments", and possibly being put on a medication to help mood-swings, depression, angry outburst, impulsivity - one may come to the point where they ask themselves "is this all there is?"  The answer is, "Life is what you make of it." 

Recovery can be a spiritual process to people;  I have passed on some reading that may be of enjoyment to you and your recovering Borderline as time progresses.  This site is all about sharing knowledge and experience of the professionals, and the BPD clients, and Non-BPD's on this disorder.  Secondarily, a little break from all the technical talk may be welcomed.  Here is where I share wisdom from "Unknown" and others;  wonderful suggestions and tidbits of wisdom have been gleaned from readers and websites and real live people in long-term recovery.

Topics  on this page

Living Your Truth  
(6-6-14)
"The Road to Recovery is Lined with Knowledge"  
(5-21-12)
Meditation Changes the Grey Matter  
(5-19-11)
Getting Started with Meditation 
(6-29-10) 
Meditations / Suggested Practices (Includes becoming a more positive person)
Finding Your Life Purpose Through Service   
(7-19-10) 
Articles to Read  by Dr. Judith Orloff
Books to Read
Tidbits of Wisdom
Affirmations to Live By
Healthy Relationship Tips

Ways to Calm Down
1,000 Marbles (a parable)
If We Were Just a Village
Instructions for Life
Rules for Being Human
20 Keys to a Happy Life
6 Steps to Quiet the Mind

Choose a Gentler Pace  By Christine Louise Hohlbaum

 

“The Road to Recovery is Lined with Knowledge”       by Amy L. Allison  © 3-24-2011


Fiction novelist Chuck Palahniuk once said, “People don’t want their lives fixed.  Nobody wants their problems solved.  Their dramas.  Their distractions.  Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left?  Just the big scary unknown.”

Thanks to a few nerving-hitting movies produced in recent decades about the poor treatment of mentally-ill patients—a dark, murky shadow of horror-evoking mental illness  environments is stamped on our memories. 

I think the cinema producers latched on to the fact that mental illness produced the best macabre effects, and went with it for big block-buster movies.  Fear-producing:  Most certainly.  Human beings fear that which they do not understand.  The mind and how it works is a mystery that is being unraveled.  When the mind malfunctions, very sick, strange, and sometimes horrific evil can result.

Here are a few of the thematic movies:  “Sybil” (Multiple Personality Disorder), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (various), “Girl, Interrupted” (Borderline Personality Disorder), “Rain Man” (Autism), “A Beautiful Mind” (Schizophrenia), “Play Misty for Me” (Borderline Personality Disorder), and “Fatal Attraction” (Borderline Personality Disorder) name a few that may be familiar to us as movie-goers. 

Information about “recovery” from broken bones, cancer, or any illness fills our magazines and health journals.  Recovery is a gradual healing of a “disease” of the body, hopefully back to its original healthy state.  A mental illness usually requires medication, education, accepting and dealing with the condition. 

Mental illness is complex, and methodologies are being formulated more and more to operationally deal with the many forms of what can go wrong in our brains.  “Recovery” should be thought of more like ‘how to effectively co-exist’ with our mental/emotional malady.  It is minimized, but not eradicated.  However, management of the condition can give us a better quality of life. 

I say “us” for a reason.  I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder back in early 2004.  I fit all of the criteria.  There was no question as to my fate if I let this go untreated.  I couldn’t blame my biological parents anymore.  It was up to me to do something to turn my life around.  It was not enough that I was fourteen years sober (at that time) from an addiction…there was still something horribly wrong with my life, my relationships, and the choices I made.   I was scary and  miserable.  I was ashamed to mention this to the “recovering community”.  I thought I was doing something wrong. 

A psychiatrist saw the problem and told me to get into Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), or I could very well become one of the 10% of BPD’s who die while attempting suicide.   I experienced hospitalizations and years of therapy—but no professional had put it all together.  No one said, ‘you have got THIS (BPD), you need to do THIS (DBT)  to save yourself from more chaos, pain and even death.’

I went into treatment.  I was under the guidance of a PhD. trained under the Linehan DBT Model for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, (1993 University of Washington).  I was in a Skills Group, then a Process Group (for four years).  The PhD. retired last year. I got another therapist.  I was with her for seven months, then she switched jobs.  I had to keep plugging away and remain proactive in my “recovery” from this disorder.  I got another therapist.  I attend addictions meetings.  I am an annual member of a recovery workshop of women. 

One of the most important commitments to my dealing with this mental illness is that I developed a website about BPD, for both the patients and those people in their lives who may be closely affected.    Some of the topics covered in this website:  Addictions, the Amygdala, Books, Causes of BPD, Characteristics of BPD,  DBT-Therapists, DBT Skills, Dualp-Diagnoses, Anger, General Information, Genetics, For the non-BPD's, Impulsivity, Marsha Linehan PhD., Medications, Mentalization, Mindfulness, Oxytocin, Professionals & BPD,  Radical Acceptance, Recklessness, Recovery & Addictions, Reducing Severity of BPD, Schema Therapy, Self-Injurious Behavior, Statistics, Stigma of Mental Illness, Stress, Success of Recovery, Suicide, Support Groups for BPD's, Technical Articles, Treatment Centers, Videos, Living with BPD, Living in Recovery, and For Lay-Persons and Professionals. 

I am a female over age fifty.  I have my own dark and convoluted story to tell of how this disorder nearly destroyed my life.  My focus is to educate others, and to help lessen the damage of BPD.   I got my life back, but not without years of self-loathing and strife. 

Pass it forward.  Plant a seed.  Save a life.   I hope I have.  I am the author of this website.

 
Meditations & Suggested Practices
How to Become a More
Positive Person   (a HUGE page) (6-12-10)  
Please view this page!
Mindfulness Meditation  (5-18-10) taken from dbtselfhelp.com
Daily Affirmation   (5-18-10)
Visualizing Tranquility   (5-18-10)  Guided Meditation by Deepak Chopra
Waterfall Meditation  (5-18-10)  Guided Meditation by Deepak Chopra
Affirmations   
(6-2-10)

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Choose a Gentler Pace   By Christine Louise Hohlbaum    (6-7-10)

In this crazy world of high tech and high anxiety it is important to realize the power of slowing things down. Life does not have to be a daily race against time. You can choose to live at a gentler pace.

When you engage in the power of slow, you can keep distractions and haste at bay. Slow living does not mean you always crawl at a turtle’s pace. It means finding your custom-made speed and creating a more gratifying life as you pause to savor your experiences more fully.

The first step is to develop a positive relationship with time and a new attitude about how you use the hours in each day. Here are 21 tips for slowing down and enjoying life more.

1.  Embrace Time Abundance

Like time starvation, time abundance is a mind-set. Know that there is a reason for every season. Time abundance states you have more than enough time to get everything done that serves your ultimate purpose.

2.  Create The Opening

Sometimes saying ‘no’ to one thing means leaving room for ‘yes’ in other areas.

3.  Relish The Space Between Things

‘Ma’ is a Japanese term for the space between beats in music or theatrical performances. Give ‘ma’ a chance to show itself in your calendar by creating room for some breezy nothingness between appointments.

4.  Disengage From Clock Combat

Put away your watch every now and then to experience a timeless state of peace. Challenge yourself to go clock-free for a day.

5.  Invite Flow Into Your Life

Engage in activities that make you forget the time altogether such as painting, dance or making music.

6.  Eat Mindfully

You are what, and how, you eat. Take time between bites and chew slowly. Make it a primary, not secondary activity (while doing something else).

7.  Use Your Tools

Let that call go to voicemail. Suspending your availability now and then helps you regain your center.

8.  Switch Off Your Cell Phone Altogether

It is an addition as much as a convenience. Turn it off from time to time to recharge from the world. The Earth will keep spinning as you refrain from doing so.

9.  When A Window Closes, A Door Opens

Focus on one project at a time and close all other unrelated windows on your computer. Distractions can tug at your energy, leaving you feeling depleted.

10.  Captain Your Own Ship

Make a choice to include time out to dock and visit ports other than work, family responsibilities and obligations. Make sure you have time for simple pleasures and joys.

11.  Redefine the Value Of Leisure

For those who struggle with taking time off, remember a productive worker is a well-rested one.

12.  Rekindle Your Childhood Dreams

Kids are great role models for life beyond the clock. Recall what you dreamt about as a kid and pursue some of those interests.

13.  Adhere To The ‘Rule of Full’

Instead of taking a half-day off, take a full one. Focus completely on relaxing activities such as a swing in the hammock or a leisurely stroll through the park.

14.  Take An Adult-Sized Time-Out

Challenge yourself to explore a new part of your surroundings – gadget-free. Frequent unplugged fun fosters a sense of connection with your living space.

15.  Change Your Routine

Take a new route to work or order something completely different from the menu. It will raise your awareness about your immediate surroundings and create a new sense of place.

16.  Spend Thirty Minutes Outdoors

Vitamin D deficiencies arise especially in the winter months. Find ways to go outside daily for a breath of fresh air and sunlight (yes, even through the clouds).

17.  Surround Yourself With Beauty

Stimulate your senses with aromatherapy candles, soothing music or a water fountain that splashes in the background.

18.  Get Moving

Slowing down does not mean you stop. It means becoming more mindful. Incorporate movement into your daily routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It will do you good, body and soul.

19.  Take Small Steps

We often procrastinate due to overwhelm. Break bigger projects down into manageable, bite-sized chunks.

20.  Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Life is in the details, but you needn’t be overshadowed by them. Focus on what you can do to change things--not on what you can’t. Enjoy the ride on the highway of life.

21.  Savor Your Personal Bank Account Of Time

Ultimately, the choice is yours. How you spend your daily units is up to you. Living powerfully is a decision you get to make anew every day.

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Articles to Read   (5-30-10)
How to Stop Adsorbing Other's Negative Emotions Dr. Judith Orloff
Do You Get Drained by Other People's Energy? Dr. Judith Orloff

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Books to Read

"Emotional Freedom" by Judith Orloff, M.D  .(6-13-10)   Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life.  I have viewed the DVD and read the book.  Other topics by Dr. Orloff are elsewhere in this site.

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn  (51-pp. book excerpt) Click on book cover to read, after clicking link on the line above. (5-19-10)

(please view video about the above book by Kabat-Zinn. 
Length 1 hr. 12 min.)  Bookmark this. Allow ample viewing time.  Make popcorn,    (5-26-10)

Healing Your Emotional Self by Beverly Engel 
(2-9-10)

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Tidbits of Wisdom - (Below):
Healthy Relationship Tips
A 1,000 Marbles
If We Were Just a Village

Instructions for Life
Rules For Being Human
Twenty Keys to a Happy Life
Calming the Mind    (10-14-09)
7 Ways to Calm Down   (5-28-10)



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Affirmations to Live Positively By  from the dbtselfhelp.com website (Lisa Deitz)
     
(6-2-10)

  • Today is the first day of the rest of my life and I will take notice of the many positive things this day has to offer.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I like myself.
  • I like my body.
  • I can feel how beautiful I am.
  • I do not need to respond to my emotions with food. Rather I am in control of my eating habits and eat only when I am hungry.
  • I have the time to exercise and see and feel my body has strength, poise and assurance.
  • I walk with determination and confidence.
  • I can see and feel that I am physically fit.
  • I hold my head high.
  • I am strong physically and mentally and emotionally.
  • It is easy for me to be in control of my body; both with my eating and exercising habits.
  • I enjoy looking good and feeling healthy.
  • I live a healthy, positive lifestyle.
  • People like me and I like myself and I am happy.
  • I can see how much people like me and how much I like myself.
  • I am loved and supported by people who are important to me.
  • I love and care about others and they know this because I show it to them.
  • I am a loving and caring person.
  • I sometimes enjoy being with people and feel good about my interactions.
  • I see myself as beautiful and intelligent and confident and that is how others see me.
  • I have friends who care about me, and I care about them.
  • I feel great as I live with the confidence to be myself and live by my own inner guidance and can interrelate to those around me, without sacrificing my own values, goals and purposeful direction.
  • I have a lot to be proud of.
  • Today I feel good.
  • I am happy.
  • I am glad to be alive
  • I am in control of my life.
  • I have personal power.
  • I am perfectly me.
  • I am the best I can be.
  • I am centered and well-balanced.
  • I have confidence and poise.
  • I live by my positive choices.
  • I accept myself for who I am and I like myself.
  • I know that I am not perfect and never will be, but I like who I am.
  • I have perseverance.
  • I am intelligent.
  • I make wise choices to the best of my ability.
  • I enjoy the process of learning and becoming all that I want to be.
  • I am able to express my emotions in a healthy, positive way.
  • I can do anything I want.
  • I have many options and always make the best decisions I can.
  • I have stability in my life and in my self.
  • I am willing to take the risks necessary to being happy and living the kind of life I have chosen for myself.
  • I am moving in a positive direction towards my goals.
  • I have everything I want.
  • All that I want and desire is within me to achieve.
  • I have limitless resources and I use those resources for good.
  • There is enough time in the day to do all that I want to do.
  • There is nothing I cannot do or be if I want to.
  • Today I will be calm and confident.
  • I am everything I want to be.
  • I am happy with what I do.
  • Everyday is better than the next.
  • My life has purpose
  • There is no one else I would rather be.
  • There is no place else I would rather be.
  • I am in control of my choices and I like them.
  • All that life has to offer me is wonderful and it is my daily choice to enjoy that beauty.
  • There is abundance in the Universe and it is there to help me and I can use it.
  • No matter what the events of the day, the Universe is positive and will always be with me to help me through my choices, and struggles and acts as my inner guidance, direction and purpose and this is something I can always count on.
  • Today is my day. There is no person, no thing, no event or activity that can destroy this day for me.
  • I have the courage to accept the things I cannot change, to make choices to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
  • There is no limit to what I can do today, to what I can be, to the attitude I can possess.
  • Today is the first day of rest of my life and I will take notice of the many positive things this day has to offer.

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  • Healthy Relationship Tips:             (contributed by Anonymous)

    1.   Strengthen the relationship by allowing yourself to be vulnerable
    2.   Consciously work on renewing the relationship daily
    3.   Be open about life-changing views
    4.   Share your goals
    5.   Never take the other person for granted
    6.   Grow together and individually
    7.   Make the relationship unconditional
    8.   Focus on "we", not on "me"
    9.   Share in the decision-making
    10. Balance between holding the other person closely, and giving them
          space

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     Gettiing Started with Meditation      by Ariane de Bonvoisin and Arjuna Ardagh *(from Beliefnet website)

    You can light candles, sit on a cushion, and follow specific instructions on how to meditate, but the truth is that you already know how. Meditative consciousness is no more than a shifted relationship to yourself and reality; your everyday life is already filled with many moments in which you connect with yourself in this way. You simply need to recognize that you're naturally meditative, and amplify that place inside you. Here are some basics to help you do that.

    Meditation is a word for returning to a natural state of undisturbed, relaxed consciousness. Most of the time our attention is glued to incessant thoughts about the past and the future and we can get caught in a cycle of planning and worrying.

    Everybody has ways they switch off the worry of the mind and relax into the present moment. This is meditation. The first step to integrating this meditative awareness into your life is to acknowledge that you are already a meditative person.  Take a moment to consider how you already meditate.

    There are many ways people find meditative consciousness in their daily lives that don't involve sitting in silence on a meditation cushion. Here are some of them:

    •Gardening
    •Taking a warm bath
    •Resting after a workout
    •Breathing fully
    •Making love
    •Walking in nature
    •Sitting quietly with a child
    •Tuning into your body
    •Singing

    There is no wrong way to access meditative awareness.

    As you begin to make meditation a bigger part of your life, it's important not to overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations. Find ways to detach from your thoughts and relax into your own natural presence throughout the day.  

    And rather than attempting to stick to a lofty goal of say, an hour of seated meditation a day, give yourself small doses of sinking into your true essence (by sitting and breathing or any of the ways listed on the previous slide) and take regular breaks. Remember to be easy on yourself.

    While you are already a meditator, there are also exercises you can practice to help you move past thoughts and into presence.

    Practice 1: Pure Waiting

    Whenever you can, sit and wait. There's no need to distract yourself by filling the gap with random activity. At the gate at the airport or waiting for the bus, rather than picking up a book, flipping through a magazine, checking e-mail, or watching TV, just sit and wait. Present... ready... available... No need to meditate or get spiritual. Just wait, like a cat, or a bird on a tree. Become the waiting itself.

    Practice 2: Breathe Totally

    Notice how you are already breathing in this moment... After watching the way you are breathing for a couple of minutes, begin to bring some intention to your breathing. With the in-breath, let the lower belly soften and expand. When the lower belly feels full, feel the diaphragm expand with the breath. Finally let the chest and lungs fill completely with breath.

    Hold the in-breath for a few moments, only as long as is comfortable, then let the air be expelled fully from the lungs first from the chest, then the diaphragm, and then the lower belly. Just when you think you're done, give an extra little push, and you will find there is even more air to be expelled. Hold on the out-breath for a few moments, before you inhale again. Continue to breathe totally in this way for several minutes.

    Practice 3: Expand Peripheral Vision

    In the midst of your busy day, stop. Sit quietly with your eyes open. Look at any object before you. Now take an in-breath and expand your vision to include what is immediately to the left and to the right of that object. With the out-breath, relax and settle into yourself.

    Take another in-breath and expand your vision even more to include everything that's before you, in an arc of about ninety degrees. Breathe out and settle further into yourself. Take another in-breath and include your entire field of vision. Your attention is equally distributed between what is in front of you and all of your peripheral vision. Expand it even more to include things not just to the left and the right, but even things over your shoulders. Expand beyond what your eyes can see. With the out-breath, relax completely into being that which sees all.

    Remain like this, breathing softly, for several minutes. Feel the mystery of your own essence.

    Practice 4: Standing in Line at the Bank

    Waiting in line for the next teller at the bank, at a fast foot restaurant, or at the gate at the airport, sink yourself completely into this moment.

    Feel your feet planted on the ground. Put your heels about shoulder width apart, turn your feet slightly inwards with your weight equally on both feet. Knees relaxed, not locked. Open your chest. Breathe and listen to all the sounds around you. Take everything in. Feel the whole environment through your skin. Become sensitive to the atmosphere of the place. Breathe a little deeper and notice the smells.

    Expand your vision so that you become aware of everything around you. Relax. Finally, feel even deeper than all of this into your own presence, into that which is hearing and feeling and seeing. Let that presence expand and permeate everything around you. Expand and become the living blessing.

    Now that you have touched your natural, inner meditator, here's how to take your practice deeper:

    •Seek an expert in meditation and see his or her teachings resonate with you.
    •Accept what feels natural about your practice and discard the rest.
    •Become part of a community by finding others who enjoy meditation.
    •Find a greater variety of ways to be meditative.
    •Expand the length of time you practice each day.

    More and more people are recognizing that humanity is headed toward awakened consciousness and that the complicated problems of life are solved not only on the outside, but also from igniting a new awareness within yourself. Becoming more meditative is a way of stepping into a new state of perception with which to face your life.

    "You cannot solve any problem in the same state of consciousness in which it was created." - Albert Einstein

    You don't have to begin meditating alone.

    First30days.com   can help with expert advice, community support and invaluable tips.



    Ways to Calm Down       (5-28-10)      from Beliefnet.com 5-28-10

    1. Walk Away   

    Know your triggers. If a conversation about global warming consumerism, or the trash crisis in the U.S. is overwhelming you, simply excuse yourself. If you're noise-sensitive and the scene at Toys-R-Us makes you want to throw whistling Elmo and his buddies across the store, tell your kids you need a time-out. (Bring along your husband or a friend so you can leave them safely, if need be.)

    2. Close Your Eyes

    Gently let the world disappear, and go within to regain your equilibrium. Ever since my mom came down with blepharospasm (a neurological tick of the eyelid), I've become aware of how important shutting our eyes is to the health of the nervous system.

    3. Find Some Solitude

    This can be challenging if you are at work, or at home with kids as creative and energetic as mine. But we all need some private time to let the nervous system regenerate.   I must have known this back in college, because I opted for a tiny single room (a nun's closet, quite literally), rather than going in on a larger room with a closet big enough to store my sweaters. When three of my good friends begged me to go in with them on a killer quad, I told them, "Nope. Can't do it. Need my alone time, or else none of you would want to be around me. Trust me."

    My senior year I went to the extent of pasting black construction paper on the window above my door so no one would know if I was there, in order to get the hours of solitude that I needed.

    4.  Go Outside

    This is a true lifesaver for me. I need to be outside for at least an hour every day to get my sanity fix. Granted, I'm extremely lucky to be able to do so as a stay-at-home mom. But I think I would somehow work it into my schedule even if I had to commute into the city every day.

    Even if I'm not walking or running or biking or swimming, being outside calms me in a way that hardly anything else can. With an hour of nature, I go from being a bossy, opinionated, angry, cynical, uptight person into a bossy, opinionated, cynical, relaxed person. And that makes the difference between having friends and a husband to have dinner with and a world that tells me to go eat a frozen dinner by myself because they don't want to catch whatever grumpy bug I have.

    5. Find Some Water

    While watching Disney's "Pocahontas" the other day with my daughter Katherine (yes, I do get some of my best insights from cartoons), I observed the sheer joy the main character shows upon paddling down the river, singing about how she is one with the water. It reminded me of how universal the mood effects of water are, and how healing.

    6. Breathe Deeply

    Breathing is the foundation of sanity, because it is the way we provide our brain and every other vital organ in our body with the oxygen needed for us to survive. Breathing also eliminates toxins from our systems.

    7. Listen to Music

    Across the ages, music has been used to soothe and relax. During the worst months of my depression, I blared the soundtrack of "The Phantom of the Opera." Pretending to be the phantom with a cape and a mask, I twirled around our living room, swinging my kids in my arms. I belted out every word of "The Music of the Night."

    "Softly, deftly, music shall caress you, Feel it, hear it, secretly possess you...."

    The gorgeous song--like all good music--could stroke that tender place within me that words couldn't get to.

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    A Thousand Marbles                                    

    The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings.  Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at  work.  Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

    A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other.  What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.  Let me tell you about it.  I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net.  Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a  tremendous signal and a golden voice.  You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business.  He was telling whoever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles."

    I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.  "Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job.  I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much.  Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet.  Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital." 

    He continued, "Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities."  And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."  "You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic.  The average person lives about seventy-five years. I  know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."  "Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the  average person has in their entire lifetime.  Now stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part."

    "It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail," he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays.  I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."  "So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to roundup 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away."  

    "I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.  There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get  your priorities straight."  "Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast.  This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I  make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time.   And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."  "It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again." 

    You could have heard a pin drop on the radio when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.  Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss.  "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast." 

    "What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.  "Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids.  Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out?  I need to buy some marbles."     (Unknown)

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    If We Were Just a Village                         

    If we could shrink the earth's population to a  village of precisely 100
    people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it
    would look something like the following: there would be:
     
    57 Asians
    21 Europeans
    14 from the western hemisphere, both north and south
    8 Africans
    52 would be female
    48 would be male
    70 would be nonwhite
    30 would be white
    70 would be non-Christian
    30 would be Christian
    89 would be heterosexual
    11 would be homosexual
     6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth
    6  would be from the United States. 
    80 would live in substandard housing
    70 would be unable to read
    50 would suffer from malnutrition
    1 would be near death
    1 would be near birth
    1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
    1 would own a computer
    1 unemployed for over 6 months
       
    (obviously not written in 2009!  1% unemployment?)

    When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding, and education becomes glaringly apparent.
     
    The following is also something to ponder.  If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...you are more blessed than the million who  will not survive this week.

    If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
     
    If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
     
    If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death...you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
     
    If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over-head and a place to sleep... you are richer than 75% of this world.
     
    If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
     
    If your parents are still alive and still married...you are very rare.
     
    Over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

    (Unknown)

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    I N S T R U C T I O N S  F O R  L I F E                     
    1.  Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
    2.  Memorize your favorite poem.
    3.  Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have, or loaf all you want.
    4.  When you say, "I love you," mean it.
    5.  When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
    6.  Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
    7.  Believe in love at first sight.
    8.  Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
         People who don't have dreams don't have much.
    9.  Love deeply and passionately. You may get hurt, but it's the only way
         to live life 
    completely.
    10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name-calling.
    11. Don't judge people by their relatives, or by the life they were born into.
    12. Teach yourself to speak slowly but think quickly.
    13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile
             and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
    14. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve
             great risk.
    15. Call your mother.
    16. Say, "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
    17. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
    18. Follow the three R's: Respect for self, Respect for others,
             Responsibility for all your actions.
    19. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
    20. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to
           correct it.
    21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
    22. Marry a person you love to talk to. As you get older, his/her
            conversational skills will be even more important.
    23. Spend some time alone.
    24. Open your arms to change but don't let go of your values.
    25. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
    26. Read more books. Television is no substitute.
    27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think
             back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
    28. Trust in God but lock your car.
    29. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your
            life. Do all you can to create a tranquil harmonious home.
    30. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current
           situation. Don't bring up the past.
    31. Don't just listen to what someone is saying. Listen to why they
             are saying it.
    32. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
    33. Be gentle with the earth.
    34. Pray or meditate. There's immeasurable power in it.
    35. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
    36. Mind your own business.
    37. Don't trust anyone who doesn't close his/her eyes when you kiss.
    38. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
    39. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you are
          living. It is wealth's greatest satisfaction.
    40. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful
             stroke of luck.
    41. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
    42. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love
             or each other exceeds your need for each other.
    43. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
    44. Live with the knowledge that your character is your destiny.
    45. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

     
    (Unknown)

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    RULES FOR BEING HUMAN                                         

    1. You will receive one body.  You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

    2. You will learn lessons.  You are enrolled in a full-time information school called Life.  Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons.  You may like the lessons or think they are irrelevant or stupid.

    3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.  Growth is a process of trial and error, or experimentation.  The failed experiments are as much of the process as the experiment that ultimately works.

    4. A lesson is repeated until learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  When you have learned it, you can then go to the next lesson.

    5. Learning does not end.  There is no part of Life that does not contain its lessons.  If you are alive there are lessons to be learned.

    6. There’s no better than “here”.  When you’re “there” has become a “here” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here”.

    7. Others are merely mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

    8. What you make of your life is up to you.  You have all the resources you need.  What you do with them is up to you.  The choice is yours.

    9. Your answers lie inside you.  The answers to life’s questions lie inside you.  All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

    10. This is not a fantasy;  Life is not a dress rehearsal.

    11. You will forget all of this – until reminded.

    12. You may still forget it.


    (Unknown)

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    Twenty Keys to a Happy Life

    1. Compliment three people everyday.
    2. Watch a sunrise.
    3. Be the first to say "Hello."
    4. Live beneath your means.
    5. Treat everyone as you want to be treated.
    6. Never give up on anybody; miracles happen.
    7. Forget the Jones's.
    8. Remember someone's name.
    9. Pray not for things, but for wisdom and courage.
    10. Be tough-minded, but tender hearted.
    11. Be kinder than you have to be.
    12. Don't forget that a person's greatest emotional need is to feel
          appreciated.
    13. Keep your promises.
    14. Learn to show cheerfulness even when you don't feel it.
    15. Remember that overnight success usually takes 15 years.
    16. Leave everything better than you found it.
    17. Remember that winners do what losers don't want to do.
    18. When you arrive at your job in the morning, let the first thing
              you say brighten everyone's day.

    19. Don't rain on other people's parades.
    20. Don't waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.


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     6 Steps to Quiet the Mind
      By Therese J. Borchard  October 12, 2009

    Therese J. Borchard:  "I was all set to interview Eric Swanson, coauthor (with Yongey Mingur Rinpoche) of “Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Find Freedom,” when I realized that my main question — Can you give me some concrete steps to quiet the mind? — was already addressed in his book!

    So he and Harmony Books graciously gave me permission to reprint parts of chapter seven on “Attention.” Here, then, is the step-by-step approach to mindfulness or meditation — the basic practices of quieting the mind — provided in “Joyful Wisdom”:

    Step One: Objectless Attention

    The most basic approach to attention is referred to as “objectless”–not focusing on any specific “scene” or aspect of experience, but just looking and marveling at the wide range of scenery as it comes and goes….Objectless attention involves settling into this “is-ness,” simply watching thoughts, emotions, appearances, and so on, as they emerge against or within the background of “space.”

    Step Two: Attention to Form

    Form meditation simply involves raising this unconscious process to the level of active awareness. Just by looking with bare attention at a specific object, the restless bird [your mind] settles on its branch….When you rest your mind on an object you’re seeing it as something distinct or separate from yourself. But when we let go and simply rest our minds in bare attention, gradually we begin to realize whatever we see, and however we see it, is an image made up of thoughts, memories, and the limitations conditioned by our sensory organs. In other words, there’s no difference between what is seen and the mind that sees it.

    Step Three: Attending to Sound

    Attending to sound is very similar to attending to form, except that now you’re engaging the faculty of hearing instead of sight….Gradually allow yourself to pay attention to sounds close to your awareness, such as your heartbeat or your breath. Alternatively, you can focus on sounds that occur naturally in your immediate surroundings, such as rain pattering against a window, the noise of a television or stereo coming from a neighbor’s apartment, the roar of an airplane passing above, or even the chirps and whistles of restless birds outside.

    Step Four: Attending to Physical Experience

    Our embodied state is a blessing in disguise, fertile ground through which we may discover the possibilities of awareness. One way to access these possibilities is through paying attention to physical sensations, a process that may be most simply accessed through watching your breath. All you have to do is focus your attention lightly on the simple act of inhaling and exhaling. You can place your attention on the passage of air through your nostrils or on the sensation of air filling and exiting your lungs. Focusing on the breath is particularly useful when you catch yourself feeling stressed or distracted. The simple act of drawing attention to your breath produces a state of calmness and awareness that allows you to step back from whatever problems you might be facing and respond to them more calmly and objectively.

    Step Five: Attending to Thoughts

    Paying attention to thoughts isn’t aimed at stopping thoughts, but simply observing them. Like taking time to look at a rose or listen to a sound, taking time to observe your thoughts doesn’t involve analyzing the thoughts themselves. Rather, the emphasis rests on the act of observing, which naturally calms and steadies the mind that observes. You can use your thoughts rather be use by them. If a hundred thoughts pass through your mind in the space of a minute, you have a hundred supports for meditation….There’s no need to become attached to the awareness of a thought or to focus on it so intently that you attempt to make it go away. Thoughts come and go, as an old Buddhist saying holds, like “snowflakes falling on a hot rock.” Whatever passes through the mind, just watch it come and go, lightly and without attachment, the way you’d practice gently resting your attention on forms, sounds, or physical sensations.

    Step Six: Attending to Emotions

    The method of observing emotions varies according to the type of emotion you’re experiencing. If you’re feeling a positive emotion, you can focus on both the feeling AND the object of the feeling. For example, if you’re feeling love for a child, you can rest your attention on both the child AND the love you feel for him or her. If you’re feeling compassion for someone in trouble, you can focus on the person needing help AND your feeling of compassion….A more practical approach to emotions, similar to that of working with thoughts, is simply to rest your attention on the emotion itself rather than on its object. Just look at the emotion without analyzing it intellectually. Don’t try to hold on to it or resist it. Simply observe it. When you do this, the emotion won’t seem as solid, lasting, or true as it initially did.

    Reprinted from JOYFUL WISDOM: EMBRACING CHANGE AND FINDING FREEDOM Copyright © 2009 by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Published by Harmony Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

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    Find Your Life Purpose Through Service   by Angela Perkey          (7-19-10) 

    Angela Perkey is the founder of Students Serve, a national nonprofit that awards service grants to college students. Visit her website at www.changetheworldchangeyourlife.com. (from Belief.net website)
    10 Ways to Discover Your Life Purpose in Volunteer Work

    Sometimes when we are lost in the day-to-day activities of life and work, we forget there is a part of us that wants to serve and make a difference in the world. The turbulent economy is a good time to reassess your life purpose and path. It is also a good time to look for ways to express yourself through service to others. Some people who are out of work are turning toward volunteer work for new skills, friends, and a way to do something worthwhile. Many are also finding a renewed purpose in life. Here are 10 ways that you can discover and live out your unique life purpose.

    Ask Yourself the Big Questions About Life

    Most people want to live a life full of meaning that accomplishes a specific purpose. We want to see that our actions can make a difference that improves the world and helps other people. This helps validate our presence on Earth.

    However, knowing just what that purpose is can be a true challenge. This is directly intertwined with those classic, unrelenting questions: What should I do with my life? What am I here for? What should I be when I (finally) grow up? Although the questions are complex, finding the answers may be surprisingly simple. If you recognize you have a true desire to serve, volunteer work in the community and a spirit of giving can lead you to an understanding of what you care about, what your natural talents are, and what your life purpose is. It can start you on the path to a new life.

    Find What You're Passionate About

    One of the most important components of understanding how to live a purposeful life is uncovering the issues, people, and needs that you’re passionate about. What do you care about? What really matters to you? Oftentimes these things are intimately connected with a personal experience that you have had.

    For example, if your mother died prematurely of lung cancer, you might be passionate about finding a cure to this disease or helping women who are in the hospital undergoing treatments. If there were days when your parents were unsure about how they were going to buy food, you might be particularly moved by the plight of children in danger of going hungry. The key is to identify the one or two needs you care about most. Then, begin volunteering to help solve that problem.

    Discover Your Natural Gifts

    You have been uniquely blessed with a set of talents and natural gifts. Some of us are skilled with the ability to use our minds to solve complex business problems; others are gifted with the ability to use their hands and bodies to make essential products; others have exceptional artistic skills. You are individually equipped with all the skills you need to make a meaningful difference.

    To live your purpose as fully as possible, use your natural gifts when you serve others. If you are a naturally-born teacher, you could tutor low-income students who are struggling with basic reading skills. If you are good at encouraging people, you could visit people who are sick or in nursing homes. If you love to make jewelry or wood-working crafts, donate your finished works to people who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

    Define Your Life Goals and Ambitions

    What do you want out of life? Understanding what motivates you is essential to enacting an intentional life path that has an impact on others. Define your goals and long-term ambitions, then weave these into your volunteer efforts. The more motivated you are, the more likely you will devote time and resources to serving others.

    If your life goal is to open a bakery and you are passionate about environmental issues, you can make your signature chocolate truffle cupcakes and classic Southern pecan pies for a fundraiser that will generate money to solve global warming. Potential customers will be exposed to the scr

    Interact with People Who Care About the Same Issues

    One of the best things about service is that you get to meet and interact with people in the community who are passionate about the same things that are important to you. These individuals might be completely different than you are in terms of their lifestyle, values, background, or age, but you will share at least one core commonality around which you can unite. By combining your efforts and joining forces, your service will make an even larger impact.

    Take Joy in Your Abilities

    We oftentimes take our natural gifts for granted, forgetting that these abilities are, in fact, gifts. Volunteering shows you the power that you possess to make a difference. Take the time to reflect upon and appreciate your individual talents. Take joy in these blessings. When you grasp how much you have been given, you can begin to envision your capacity to give even more to others.

    Improve Your Skills

    One of the unexpected benefits of volunteering and serving is that you can refine and even improve upon your natural talents. This can help you enact your life purpose as effectively as possible, and learning while volunteering keeps service interesting.

    For example, if you are teaching English to immigrants who primarily speak Spanish, an added benefit of this type of service is that you can improve your Spanish skills and develop a nuanced understanding of Hispanic cultures. This insight can help you form tighter connections with your "students" and can even be helpful if you take a trip to one of their native countries.

    Be Grateful for What You Already Have

    Many of us forget how lucky we are and how much support we have. Expressing and feeling gratitude for our material wealth, community relationships, and natural talents comes naturally when you volunteer.

    When we reach out to help others, we sometimes realize how our lives have been blessed. When you are aware of all the blessings that you have received, you can understand your true capacity to make a difference. Even if you are not monetarily wealthy, you have countless resources that you can actively use to help others.

    Don't Be Afraid to Love Others

    At the core of living a purposeful life is loving others. Whether strangers, friends, or family members, you have the ability to change the lives of other people. By giving to others and loving them, you genuinely have the power to change the world.

    Oftentimes, the people who are in the greatest need are those who are not loved. This even applies to individuals who are wealthy. No one can buy love, and this is the greatest gift that you can ever give. Simple actions of service to encourage someone or to show that you care can have a significant impact. Even if only one person is affected, you will be living your life purpose.

    Live with a Spirit of Service and Purpose Every Day

    Service is a spirit for living in addition to a set of actions. You live your life purpose every day. It’s not just when you are volunteering at church or the local food bank. It’s every time you interact with anyone. Through your actions, your words, and your smile, you have the capability to either uplift someone or put them down.

    Meaningful, purposeful lives are built every moment, not just in isolated times spent volunteering. Whether it’s at work, in traffic, in the line at the grocery store, or at a concert, you have an opportunity to serve and change the world. Your efforts don’t have to be extraordinary, but your life certainly will be.
     


    Meditation Appears to Cause Changes in Brain's Gray Matter

    Posted on the 01 February 2011 by Michaelsweiss  From Biology Magazine Forums;  MRI scans show increased volume in parts of brain linked to empathy, awareness

    "A mindfulness meditation training program can trigger measurable changes in brain areas associated with awareness, empathy and sense of self within eight weeks, a new study has found."

    "The meditation group participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day doing mindfulness meditation exercises. The MRI scans taken after the eight-week program revealed increased gray matter density in the hippocampus (important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with compassion and self-awareness."

    "The investigators also found that participant-reported reductions in stress were associated with decreased gray matter density in the amygdala, which plays a role in anxiety and stress."

    Link to Full Article

    The positive effects of meditation have been known in the East for thousands of years, but the practice only started gaining popularity in Western society in the mid-20th century.  It wasn't until the 1960's that researchers began studying the effects of mediation and learning of its many benefits.  In the last 50 years scientific research has consistently indicated that the daily practice of meditation provides both mental and physical health benefits.  Until recently, researchers have had a very limited understanding of how meditation causes these positive changes.

    This article, posted on January 25, 2011 in the health section of U.S. News and World Report, discusses the most recent research findings regarding this age-old practice.  The results of this study(as well as several others) indicate that the regular practice of meditation causes structural changes in the brain.  Increased density in the gray matter of the hippocampus and amygdala were observed after only two months of daily practice.  Neuroscience continues to provide proof of the brain's amazing plasticity.  Practicing meditation capitalizes on the brain's capacity for change, and translates to signifcant imporvements in daily life.  It is never too late to start!


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