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My Corner of Hope

Mindfulness in Everyday Places

Recently, a friend thanked me for inspiration he found in one of my writings on this website, Finding My Real ( He had read his morning paper and had been heartily discouraged (again), but wrote that my blog had given hope. “I refuse to yield my corner of hope!” I wrote boldly in response. But the how to hold on to optimism, and courage often befuddles as the tasks at hand, the pressures of deadlines, the angst of politics in the world or in the office, the reality of climate disasters, and the dynamics of family overwhelm the senses.

I find the how in becoming aware of myself and my environment, accepting what is without judgment, and then doing simple things that I can scatter like rays of sunshine in my day.

Wake up with gratitude. When I step out of bed each morning my left foot is “Thank” and my right foot is “You.” Thank You. Offering appreciation for Life to whatever name you give to the Force that governs our Astonishing World – God, Spirit, Creator, or simply the Universe – sets a tone of happiness for the day.

Allow everything to be. Make notes on a sticky pad, in a small journal, or in your phone’s electronic notes of anything and anyone that makes you smile. Just a word or a name and keep it handy to look at whenever you need a lift. Or make an album in your photos called “Smiles” and add photos as you realize the happiness a particular person or vista brings. Celebrate them. Send the same positive energy and love to the difficult and challenging things. Assigning “good” or “bad” to a person or situation limits my reaction. This non-judgment is hard, really hard. But I have found it to be so enlightening. Approaching all things with the gentle openness of non-judgment gives me fresh perspective on the challenges and the people who cause them. This doesn’t mean I must agree. But I must respect them in my disagreement.

Breathe with awareness. This practice at the heart of Mindfulness has carried me through challenging (or boring!) work meetings and in tough conversations with friends or family. I simply go silently within myself and count as I breathe in slowly – one, two, three, four. Hold that breath – one, two, three, four. Release the breath – one, two, three, four, five, six. Repeat this sequence two more times. I find I can focus in a more constructive way when I have calmed my inner self.

Immerse in Nature. Walk in a forest if one is close or just sit a few minutes in a city park. Notice the trees that line a busy boulevard. Watch an ant on a blade of grass. Take cheer with a plant in your room or fresh flowers from the market. Each of these can bring a moment of connection to Mother Earth if you look with Mindful eyes. My own delight is in long walks in the woods or along the ocean shore. Out in the freshness I can appreciate my breath on the air. If you can breathe, you are Alive. And each moment of Aliveness is very precious.

Light a candle at dusk each evening. Sometimes I turn out all other lights and ponder the miracle of fire and light held in each tiny flame. I am always amazed at how much brighter one candle seems as the night gets darker. If you use an electric candle consider the wonder ~ energy, stored to be accessed later by a little switch! Blowing out the candle each night I pause, mindful of the power of Light in our world: the fire-warmth our Sun-star without which we would not have life on Earth, the privilege of electricity that powers daily living. This candle ritual each night frames my day with peace.

My own mindfulness practice includes longer meditations – some guided, some silent, some sitting, some walking. It also includes journaling most days. These have become lovely ceremonies for me where I find personal power and hope. Mindfulness is an invitation to all to come, to breathe, to be aware of each moment of this wildish and wondrous life.

“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”

Thich Naht Hanh

May your days be transformed with gentle, mindful reminders of the beauty, truth, and goodness in yourself and in your world.

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