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Happy Spring Equinox!

Park in Spring Time

Today is the first day of the Spring in the U.S. Spring is here. Can you feel it?

Spring flowers are in their glory in my local parks, beaches, and neighborhood. I enjoy taking time to stroll through a park to watch and observe spring flowers after a busy day at work. By focusing my attention on the beauty, the vibrant colors of the flowers, the tension and stress falls to the background of my mind. Also allow myself to fully breathe in and out of the fresh air and to fully take in visually with the green grassy field and the blue expansive sky. Within less than 10 minutes, I am in the state of calmness and expansiveness.

I invite you to take 10 minutes this week to take a walk in your local park and to experience peace and calmness that Nature awaits to share it with you!

Also join me for a special meditation class on Saturday, March 25 in Pasadena, CA to renew and recharge yourself in celebration of Spring. Here is the link to sign up the class: http://bit.ly/2mpyR9O  I look forward to meeting and meditating with you this weekend …

About Charlene

Charlene has over 20 years’ experience in the art of meditation and mindfulness. For over 15 years, she leads meditation classes around the U.S. to inspire others to experience joy of their own beings through the practice of meditation.

4 Ways to Find Happiness In Chaos

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It’s tough these days to find a place of contentment unless you’re truly seeking it out. Phones ring at all hours of the day. Facebook notifications draw us back toward the computer even when we’ve got other things we’d rather be doing. E-mail notifications at 2 am can ring, making it difficult to get back to sleep. In the midst of all this chaos, is it really possible to find a happy place where contentment reigns supreme?

It is possible if you are willing to make four potential changes in your life:

Find time to step away from it all. There’s only so much that your mind can take. It might be a sponge that can absorb a lot of data, but even a sponge can become overflow and leak out liquid! Find time to step back from all the distractions every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, so you can find some peace from it all. You’d reset your computer when it begins to get errors, right? Take the time to restart your mind once and awhile too.

Find a place that you can breathe in some fresh air. There’s something that causes the air in my office to plug up my nose every day. If I’m in the office for too long, I start getting this creeping headache that sets in, right around the upper part of my sinuses. Add in the tension from a tough day and a full blown migraine isn’t out of the question! By finding fresh air and breathing it in deeply, the extra oxygen can literally recharge your system, much like you’d recharge your iPhone when the battery is low.

Don’t assume responsibility for everything. The reason why so many people begin to feel overwhelmed is because they try to do everything on their own. This on its own creates chaos, but when it becomes combined with all the other chaotic moments of a busy modern life, you can give yourself a hurricane force storm of chaos that is difficult to move through. Reach a hand out, grab a lifeline, and allow others to help you out. Have confidence in them, have faith in yourself, and take on only the things that you know you can handle every day.

Don’t forget to smile! What smiling does is it forces the mind to look at something in a different way. It’s not one of those ridiculous fake smiles that you see plastered on everyone’s stressed-out faces at the office I’m talking about here. No – a genuine smile that reflects the fact that there is a silver lining in even the darkest of clouds that could be drenching you right now, making you trudge through mud puddles!

If you are willing to make these 4 potential changes to your daily routine, then no matter how chaotic your environment may become, there will always be a tranquil place for you to go. Finding contentment in even the busiest of lives really is possible!

7 Steps To Loving Life Every Day

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Far too often, we treat our lives as if it were a ship passing by the world blindly at night. Instead of looking at the twinkling lights on the shore, it is possible to be actively involved in the daily events of our lives. Instead of waking up one day and wondering what happened to your life, you can wake up every day and look forward to what might happen.

These 7 steps are proven to help you love life more every day.

#1. Disconnect

3 out of 4 kids sleep with electronics on in their room. For adults, the figure is closer to 90%. Electronic devices are nice to have as they connect us to a wealth of information and entertainment, but they can also disrupt sleep patterns. Texts, calls, or notifications at night can even wake you up. Disconnect the electronics overnight and give yourself time to breathe.

#2. Embrace

Our senses help us to experience the world in unique ways. Sights, smells, and sounds can help us to embrace new cultures, learn new things, or find new favorites. Touch helps us to be in contact with one another. Taste, which includes the sixth sense umami, has elements of all the other senses. Slow down, experience what each sense has to offer, and you will find a world of possibilities is open to you.

#3. Perfection

Each moment we experience has a small piece of perfection to it. In good times or in tragic times, there is always something good that can be taken out of each moment, although sometimes we don’t recognize those moments until they have passed us by. Actively engage each moment, seek out its perfection, and you will find that there is much more to love about life.

#4. Passion

Being busy is a state of mind. You don’t always have to be busy. You can choose to make time to pursue a passion. Include a new hobby as part of your daily routine for the next several weeks. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. As you explore your passion, you’ll be exploring a bit of yourself at the same time.

#5. Engage

What has happened in the past is history. What will happen in the future is unknown. What we have is a moment, right now, that we can control. Anxiety and worry are always going to be part of our lives, but they don’t have to be a controlling part of our lives. Take control, engage your worries, and then resolve anything that might be bothersome. You are in control of where your ship sails, but only if you’re steering.

#6. Delegate

Power comes from control. In today’s world, this leads many people to want to control the world around them. This causes people to eventually burn out because the only thing in this world that each person can control is themselves. By learning to delegate the control we feel we must have over others, we can embrace the joy that is often surrounding us at any given moment. This allows us to love what life has to offer.

#7. Contentedness

There will be good times. There will be bad times. Instead of going on the rollercoaster ride of hills and valleys, find a way to be content every day in some way. Certainly there will be challenges and stresses which will create moments of doubt in our contentedness, but these can be overcome. Accept life as it is and you may discover that it is already amazing!

Loving life every day isn’t always easy. With these steps in mind, however, life doesn’t have to be something that just sails by one day and you discover it is gone. Allow yourself the opportunity to experience everything that this universe has to offer you and you will find that falling in love with life in new ways every day is one of the best adventures we have.

8 Life Changing Resolutions For 2016

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Resolutions are something that many people make every year. We attempt to set goals that can create meaningful changes in our lives, but 90% of people will give up on their resolution by the end of the first month. Here are 8 life changing resolutions to make for this year, which can be started at any time throughout the year, so that you can reach your goals consistently.

#1. Embrace the differences of other people.

What makes us different as humans can make us stronger. Unfortunately far too many people try to make others be just like them instead of embracing those differences. Instead of making assumptions, experience the many ethnicity and cultures this world has to offer. The end result? There will be much more compassion in your life.

#2. Make the most out of your emotions.

Anger isn’t a bad thing. It is the choices that get made when angry that lead to negative life experiences. Fuel your emotional energy into positive things. Take time to calm down if you experience anger that is overwhelming. Catch yourself before you lose control and you’ll have fewer emotional icebergs to navigate.

#3. Build bridges with people.

It’s easy to carry a grudge, especially if someone has wronged you on purpose. Righteous anger is one of the most difficult emotions to handle. This year, try to build bridges with others instead of burning them if you feel you’ve been wronged.

#4. Focus on appreciating what others do around you.

On the other end of the spectrum is the random compliment from a stranger. Appreciation from people we don’t know lifts up the spirit as much as righteous anger brings it down. If you see someone doing something great, then appreciate them in that moment. You may just start a chain reaction of appreciation.

#5. Be happy when others succeed.

We’re “always keeping up with the Jones’ family” in today’s world, it seems. We want that promotion. That raise. That new house. The fancy iPhone. When other people get these things, it can feel like a punch to the gut. This year, try to choose happiness when you see others succeed instead. If we think of humanity as a community, we all succeed when one person experiences success.

#6. Meditate.

If you can meditate for 20 minutes every day this year, you’ll change everything. Maybe you can’t start at 20 minutes right away, but you could build up to it. Try adding 1 minute per day to increase your time. You won’t believe the difference it could make.

#7. Find a way to be content.

Gratitude isn’t looking at others who don’t have it as good as you and trying to feel blessed. It is an attitude of contentment in both the good and the bad that life has to offer. When we can accept our circumstances in life, then we can begin to change them. Every moment has something perfect to find within it, so try to find those perfect moments this year.

#8. Stop playing the blame game.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is that when we blame other people for what we think is wrong in this world, there’s a good chance that what we’re really doing is shirking our own responsibilities for what is going on. Take ownership. Take a good, hard, and long look at yourself. Pointing fingers only works if you’re pointing at the truth.

For the next year, self-reflection will lead to self-confidence. Diversity will lead to strength. Being content will lead to happiness. What are your resolutions for the coming year?

7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

 

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The beginning of the New Year is a great time to reflect on the changes we want to make and resolve to follow through on these changes. Below are 7 New Year’s resolutions that we recommend to our readers.

1. I will meditate everyday.

When you meditate everyday, you will begin to see positive changes in your life. A regular meditation practice can enhance your life in many ways, contributing to greater calmness and happiness, improving your health, enhancing your moods and even accelerating your spiritual development. Daily meditation can allow you to create peace within yourself, which then radiates outwards to others.

2. I will live in the moment.

Living in the present is to be aware of what is happening to you, what you are doing and what you are feeling and thinking. Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, but also robs you of truly living. The only important moment is the present moment. When you begin to live in the present, you will notice that you will enjoy life more and you will be happy.

3. I will observe my thoughts.

When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. You will become more conscious of the different states of mind that you will experience throughout the day based on the thoughts you have.

4. I will be kind to others.

When you show kindness to somebody you bring out the best in yourself. A side-effect of brightening up somebody else’s day is that you will feel happier. When you are kind, you not only get an immediate payback in terms of a feel-good factor, you will also receive kindness from others, and in completely unexpected and unrelated ways.

5. I will be kind to myself.

Many people make the error of trying to be kind to others while not focusing on being kind to themselves. Being kind to yourself means getting your needs met, being gentle with yourself instead of critical when you feel you’re not performing at your best, forgiving yourself when the need arises instead of beating yourself up. When you get into the habit of treating yourself with kindness, it will be easier to be kind to others.

6. I will be grateful everyday.

By being grateful, you will treasure the people and things in your life. You will learn to appreciate life in a better way. Being grateful has been shown to have a strong positive impact on how happy we feel on a daily basis. If you are grateful, you will see the world differently. You will see that there are always good things behind everything that happens. You will realize that your life is wonderful, and you will be joyful.

7. I will laugh more.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. If people can laugh more, they will be a lot better off.

7 Steps To Love Life Now

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Life can be hard. That’s actually giving life a compliment some days, isn’t it? There are days when life seems to grind people up and then spit them out. Thankfully no one must simply accept this as their reality! These 7 steps will help get you on the journey toward loving life every day, no matter what may come your way.

Step 1: Ignore Perfection

It’s the biggest trap there is in the world today. By being perfect, people are told that they can finally be someone. That they can achieve their dreams and be anything that they want to be. No one needs to be perfect in order to achieve a dream. Instead of running toward a perfect moment, run toward those moments that bring authentic contentment.

Step 2: Eliminate Procrastination

The more proactive a person happens to be, the more likely they are to love life. Why? Because when difficult circumstances arrive, it’s very easy to put off dealing with that difficulty. When procrastination happens, however, the stresses of those difficulties weighs down a person like nothing else really can. No one needs to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Be proactive and this never needs to happen.

Step 3: People Create Their Own Circumstances

Opportunities come because people make them. Positive energy attracts other positive energies. Negative energies attract misery. If all a person sees is negativity, there’s a very good chance that’s what that individual is putting out into the world as well.

Step 4: Enjoy Life

People get so busy with life that they miss the fun opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis. It could be a walk along the river, a few moments of being barefoot in the grass outside, or attending a baseball game. Make time for more fun and this will carve out more love for life on a daily basis!

Step 5: It’s Good to Be Alive!

The details of life can become cumbersome, bothersome, and downright depressing. Sometimes these details can’t be ignored – after all, taxes need to be paid! That doesn’t mean that people can’t enjoy the good things that are part of being alive. Having a cool breeze blow in your face, the sun’s rays warm you on a chilly day, or just the smile of a loved one all prove that it really is good to be alive every single day.

Step 6: What’s Really Going To Happen?

What is the worst thing that could happen today? What are the chances that this worst-case scenario is actually going to happen? A little perspective can go a long way to realize that there is a lot to love in life. Many people are blessed beyond compare, but because they’re drowning in so much negativity, they just can’t see it. This step can really help someone begin to swim back towards a positive beach once again.

Step 7: Find Gratefulness

Being content is where love occurs. In everything, give thanks.

Every second that passes the world by is a second that can never be lived again. Love life, find the blessings in each second, and the world really can become a better place.

5 Tips To Live An Exceptional Life

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That brick wall which just hit you is life declaring that you just don’t have the ability to really control your life! It’s a lie, but it’s a lie that is coated in a spoonful of sugar, so it goes down easy and is very believable. Although you can’t always predict good days or bad days, you can predict your reaction to the chaotic nature of life during a bad day and turn even the worst days around into something better.

To do that, you’re going to need some tools in your toolbox. Here are 5 of the best tools you can have at your disposal:

1. Trust Your Gut Instinct

How many times in life have you second-guessed yourself, only to discover that your gut instinct was the right move to make? No one really knows yourself better than you do. You can’t keep secrets from yourself! Go with what your inner voice is telling you to do because chances are that’s going to be the right move to make.

2. Don’t Expect Perfection!

Each person is his or her own worst critic. Even people who say they don’t care about perfection do care about leaving a good first impression. People will fail because humans fail. People will make mistakes in judgment because humans make mistakes in judgment. Guess what? You’re a person. That makes you human. Perfection won’t happen, but a good first impression can almost always be had… but only if you’re willing to allow it to make its presence known.

3. Remember How Blessed You Are

When you’re in the midst of chaos, it really becomes the only thing you can see. The swirling winds of negativity surround you and life suddenly is all about what you don’t have or what you feel you should have. The best way to get rid of that negative spiral is to just take a few moments and make a list of the blessings you do have in life. The old adage that you get what you sow is very true, so the more good you sow, the more good you’ll be able to harvest. Remembering your blessings can help you change the seeds you’re sowing each day.

4. Allow Forgiveness To Happen

It can feel empowering to be angry, but you’ve got to put that anger into something useful or it is an energy that will consume you. It takes a lot of energy to stay angry, even if that anger is righteous and justified. Being able to forgive others isn’t always about letting people get off the hook. Sometimes forgiveness is simply about letting you move on from a problem so that life can continue to proceed.

5. Gratefulness

Even when life is a mess, there’s always a certain level of gratefulness that can be found. It might be just a solitary moment, a favorite treat, or a cool breeze blowing through your hair. Gratefulness opens more doors than it closes and as a tool it helps to discover the extraordinary in what we tend to overlook as ordinary every day.

With these tools available and at the ready, chaos doesn’t stand a chance! Quiet your storm today and reclaim the life you want!

Release the Unhappiness From Your Life

Release Unhappiness

Does it seem like everyone else is happy, but not you? Do you feel like you’re working hard to barely stay ahead while everyone else is leaving you behind? One of the easiest traps to fall into in this life are the ones that unhappiness can set for us. Once trapped, we continue to spiral down into the trap until we’re overwhelmed and feel like there is no way out…

… But there is a way out. By recognizing what trap we’ve managed to fall into, we can release the unhappiness from our lives and bring ourselves back into the sunshine of happiness once again! Here are the common traps that unhappiness will set:

1. Perfection

Does it seem like everything you do needs to be perfect? Do you work endless hours every day making sure every dot and letter is exactly where it is supposed to be? Unhappiness sets in when we believe we have failed people because we haven’t delivered an utterly perfect product every single time. This is a trap because humanity’s perfection is actually in its imperfection. Set deadlines for yourself, stick to them, and allow yourself to be satisfied in giving 100% to the task, even if it could have been better in some way.

2.  Negative Self-Talk

“You’ll never get that done in time!” “You’re just so stupid because you couldn’t figure that out!” “You’re just a moron!” Negative self-talk is one of the most powerful traps that unhappiness can set for one simple reason: self-talk defines who we really are. Sure – we might look to outside influences to get feedback, but our true worth is defined by what we believe it to be, not what others think it to be. Inspire yourself, focus on the successes that each day brings, and lock up that negativity in the closet where it belongs.

3. Past Successes Don’t Translate

It’s the classic behavior seen at a high school class reunion. There will invariably be people there who still live in the 4 years of high school they had, remembering all the successes that they had while complaining over spiked punch how miserable their lives are now. Past successes are important, but don’t stay in that importance. Create new successes. Keep moving forward and let the past stay where it needs to stay… behind you.

4. Keeping Up with Everyone

Another classic trap that unhappiness likes to spring is the comparison trap. Other people are better looking, have more money, or better lives than you. You should have that stuff too because you’re just as good as they are, right? So when you don’t get the same things, you become unhappy because you feel inferior to everyone else around you. You might even feel like everyone is judging you and looking down upon you! The only person that matters is you. Not your boss. Not Bob, your crazy neighbor. Not Gillian, who works 18 hours a day and never sees her family so she can make six figures. You are the judge of you and you just need to keep up with yourself.

No one can avoid all of the traps that unhappiness can set, but by recognizing them immediately, you can pull yourself out of them much more quickly. Happiness can rule the day if you make that choice… so choose to get out of the traps you might be in right now and let happiness rule in your life once again!

3 Tips to Live Your Life in Gratitude

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“If the only prayer you say in life is “thank you,” it would be enough.” – Meister Eckhart

Based on researches led by Dr. Robert A. Emmons, practicing gratitude can increase your happiness by as much as 25 percent. What is gratitude? Oxford dictionary defines gratitude as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Here are three practical tips to live your life in a state of gratitude.

Tip #1: Keep a gratitude journal.

Spend a few minutes every day to write down everything that you are grateful for in your life. You can start by writing down five things that you’re grateful in your life. Anything goes. It can be a beautiful sunset, roaring ocean waves, and a peaceful walk in the park.

Buy a journal that will only be used for this purpose. Imagine a notebook filled with thanks. When you feel down, open your gratitude journal. Read a few lines. Let the blessings in your life filled your being. You’ll shift the state of your mind from a state of negativity to a state of contentment immediately.

Tip #2: Make an effort to send thank you emails or cards whenever possible.

On a daily basis, make a conscious effort of sending thank you emails to project team members or colleagues who have done a good job for their deliverables or assignments. Sincerely congratulate them a job well done and acknowledge the time and effort they have spent for their work.

When a project milestone is achieved, send thank you emails or hand-written thank you cards to core project team members to acknowledge their contribution.  You’ll be amazed the responses you’ll receive by this simple act of kindness.

Tip #3: Smile.

When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you. Smile boosts your immune system. Smile puts you in the present moment. Smile gives others a better experience when they interact with you. Smile is a selfless act. Smile creates a win-win situation.

Smile at the cashiers and ask how their day is going when you’re at the checkout counters at your local grocery stores. Smile at the staff and ask how their families are doing when you drop off your clothes at your local dry cleaning stores. Smile, acknowledge garage attendants and wish them a great day when you drop off your car at a parking garage on your way to work. Smile when you walk down the hall at your office. Smile when you talk on the phone. Let your smile come through in your voice.

In Summary

I highly encourage you to incorporate these three tips in your daily life starting today. Please leave your comments below. I love to hear from you how these tips enrich your life.

Handling Adversity Using Meditation

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At some point in life, every person on this planet will face some sort of adversity. It might be a physical adversity, such as a lack of food or clean water. It might be a mental adversity, such as a bully or a supervisor that is aggressive and mean. It could even be a spiritual adversity as your established beliefs are challenged by someone with a well constructed argument. The good news is that you don’t have to accept a negative outcome from the adversity that comes your way. Through meditation, it really is possible to change your stars and eliminate the threat that adversity brings with it.

Here’s how it works:

Step #1: Don’t Allow Stress To Put It’s Foot In the Door

Some might call the process “mind over matter,” but what you’re really doing is making a conscious choice to not be as stressed out as your normally would be in an adversarial circumstance. It’s not always easy to block out the stress that can flood your mind and get your hormones all crazy, which is why meditation is such a helpful practice. If you can make a few moments to meditate, even when your mind is trouble, you’re giving your mind the opportunity to reset itself and focus on the issues at hand instead of the stress it is experiencing.

Step #2: Emotion Is Not Your Best Friend!

A friend of mine once said, “I’m an emotional guy. Nothing is going to change that. It defines me.” Then two days later he was fired because he got angry with his boss and exploded at him in pent-up anger. The more angry you are, the less mental function you actually have. As your anger levels continue to rise, your perception and understanding of what is going on around you continue to decrease. For this reason, it is imperative to take time to meditate so that you can get your emotions under control. Many people say they can actually feel themselves having a greater perception of a situation as they meditate and this is because they are stabilizing their emotions to a baseline level!

Step #3: Try To Take a Look At the Big Picture

“Will this matter 100 years from now?” is one of the most annoying questions I’ve ever been asked when I’m upset about something. The intent of that person was to help, of course, but it had the opposite effect. The point, however, is a valid one: the small picture is certainly important, but this adversarial condition affect the big picture negatively in some way? If it doesn’t, then does it really need to be dealt with at this moment? If it doesn’t affect the big picture, can the stress from this adversarial condition be set aside for a few moments so you can meditate and potentially find a new perspective?

You Can Fight Back Against Adversity!

You don’t have to let stress or anger get the best of you. Meditation is an effective way to fight back against any adversarial condition because it allows your mind the opportunity to better prepare itself for the problem at hand… and come up with a solution. If you feel like you’re up against a tough adversary, use these tips and try meditating when you get a chance. It could be just the thing that helps you achieve your goals!

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