The Playful Side of Mindfulness

There are rare moments in life that capture the fairytale portraits of life that we see in film and magazine. Today, we are fortunate to have one of those moments with beautiful white fluffy snow falling from the sky. My children and I played for a bit outside, visited the creek that is beginning to freeze, and came in to have lunch by a lovely fire.

I am filled with gratitude with that we have a home surrounded by nature and a fireplace in our home. Mindfulness, aides in noticing what is happening at that time. This, in turn, helps to live in the moment and seize these opportunities.

As you practice mindfulness, notice changes in yourself. There will come a time that the urge to play begins to surface … careful now, the may be an ingrained tendency to push that away; stifle or squash even. A voice saying unkind things about an adult playing or time wasting or some such rubbish.

Play is essential to our well being. It relieves stress and connects us with others. It allows us to be create, to breathe and just express ourselves. If you take the time to play, a shift begins to happen. With children, you begin to connect on an entirely different level.

With play, you find your imagination coming to life. Then, when you go back to your adult responsibilities you may be surprised with the new views that you bring to your daily activities.

Be mindful … follow your instincts … play … create … and journey into yourself to create a new world outside of yourself.

Playfully,
Irisa

Winding Down & Releasing 2020

This year has been unlike any in my nearly 50 years. A global pandemic has forced the world to halt, then change. During mandatory quarantine I witnessed a shift within myself, community, and relationships. Without the daily rush, we were forced to see what was in front of us. To confront our lives, instead of burying ourselves in work, school, and obligations (self-imposed) or otherwise.

In America, the world watched as tragedy brought Black Lives Matter to global attention; followed by the increasingly publicized divide among American citizens in politics and social behaviors and attitudes. These matters, along with quarantine behaviors, thoughts and attitudes regarding the pandemic dramatically shifted workplaces, families, and friendships.

One cannot go through all of this without impact on the mental, emotional, and physical levels. Personally, all of this brought me back to a mindfulness practice. It was my way of coping with the overload and being able to guide my frightened children through this year. Stripping away our schedules, changing how often we have all been together, and stepping away from social pursuits and obligations has brought massive change to our lives.

This has been an emotionally and mentally raw year for me. The quiet has allowed my inner voice to be heard. Change in how time has been spent allowed each of us to show and share our vulnerabilities. Being in the same space each day gave reflection on whether it felt like a sanctuary or a burden. Behaviors and attitudes came forward regarding how each of us felt about the changes in our lives and routines.

Mindfulness, has been the saving grace for me. I would love to tell you that with mindfulness I have not had my anxiety and depression flare; but that would be false. What I can tell you is that because of mindfulness I am fully feeling the feelings and allowing them to naturally process. It has not been pretty, because raw emotions never are. However, as I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and honest, I have seen beauty in my closest relationships. They have comforted me and allowed me to see their raw vulnerability and personal struggles. As these have emerged, each of us has worked on communication and support with each other.

We are far from perfect, far from healed in some instances; but we are growing together. Being away from our obligations and usual calendar of events gave everyone time for reflection. This reflection gave amazingly honest conversations about wants, needs, likes and dislikes. It also has shown each of us what is really important to us and what we want to get back in our lives, what we can live without, and where the adjustments work just fine for us (such as telecommuting, homeschooling or some distance gaming). Each member of my family surprised me with thoughts and actions. Social behaviors during the pandemic showed me where my values were the same or different from those who touched our lives in some way.

Our connection to nature and our spiritual path has also been revealed to us. We missed being outside all the time at the parks and spent most of the year turning our backyard into a sanctuary. Missing our spiritual friends has been strong and recently we have been better about a home practice; instead of waiting to be with our spiritual community in person.

Hobbies and interests that reflect our personalities have emerged even more; especially with mom making the electronics be put down. New ways of communicating and connecting with loved ones have emerged for each of us as well.

Saying I love you has always been important, but now more than ever. Fear of loss is as real as loss. Living with a shadow of fear from an unknown, unseen source will shape each of us, but especially our children. Teaching ourselves and our children to continue to move forward with life and love, to move through that fear and find what love, beauty, grace, and gratitude there is in life despite the fear is important.

Today, I ask you to reflect on what you are grateful for. It can even be the lessons or conversations that your anxiety or depression has taught you. Find something joyful to reflect on, even the hope things will change in a better direction for you. Hold onto that and breathe into that. Give yourself a moment to relax and release the emotions of 2020 so you can create space for whatever the next year will bring us.

Irisa

Deep Peace and Gratitude Mantras

Gratitude, Thankfulness and Peace are on the top of my list today. In the United States it is Thanksgiving. We have a family practice of focusing on gratitude and spend time with family and friends. As this is the year of the pandemic, we are keeping with those living in the house; but like many holding close those we cannot see or speak with this year.

This is a dark difficult year and we could all use some help. Mantras are wonderful for helping us be in alignment with mindfulness. When the darkness and fear of this year feels all consuming, try a Gratitude Mantra.

You may be wondering how to do a gratitude mantra. Breathe and focus on the mantra. It can be said out loud or to yourself. This can be done simply standing in the place you are or you can set up a room of candles, incense and comfortable seating; in the bath or with kids and dogs crawling on you. They are versatile, simple and powerful.

Mantra: I feel Gratitude … Dhanya Vad (dahn-yah vahd)

Mantra: I am Gratitude … Kritajna Hum (Krit-ah-nah hum)

Another gratitude practice is the gratitude journal. However, I prefer a twist to mine. Instead of this private list I add what is called a behavioral component. Express gratitude for someone each day of your life.

To each of you I wish peace:

Shanti Mantra
sarvesham svastir bhavatu … May there be well being for all
sarvesham shantir bhavatu …May there be peace for all
sarvesham purnam bhavatu … May there be wholeness for all
sarvesham mangalam bhavatu … May there be happiness for all

Deep peace and gratitude to each of you for stopping by,
Irisa

Breathe and Remember

This is for you, a reminder that you are valuable …. you have worth …. these emotions that you feel as you practice mindfulness are necessary. These emotions tell you where you currently are, you are not stuck here, you do not need to reside here. This is not your life. This is your moment. Breathe.

Mindfulness is an exquisite practice, as I hope you have discovered, but what we learn about ourselves and the situations and relationships in our lives may not be equally exquisite. I am here to remind you that it is okay if you don’t like everything that you see and here at this moment.

The mindfulness you have been cultivating, the observations you have been making are important. These emotional, physical and intellectual insights that you have cultivated about your life are the catalyst for you to create a life that you adore.

Creating a life you adore does not mean there will never be parts you don’t like. We are humans interacting with other humans in a money based society filled with a plethora of wants, needs and desires. That recipe does not make for non-stop happiness.

However, continued mindfulness will be the greatest too you can have to navigating both the immediate and larger world around you. Change what you can to make both better. Embrace your dreams and find or create the opportunities you need to be the best version of yourself.

Embrace your growing pains and know that this is not permanent. You are moving forward every minute of your life. Continue being mindful, embrace the knowledge and blossom into a life you adore.

In Peace,
Irisa

Expectations, Mindfulness & Journaling

I have spent a week working on this discussion on expectations. Ironically, the harder I work on it the more problems I had with it. This morning, I am reflecting on what I had and just started laughing. Here, I had a set expectation in my mind of how I wanted this blog to turn out and it kept crashing and burning. Exactly, the discussion I wanted to have and have been having all week. Thank you Universe for the lesson!

Be mindful about your expectations. Are you setting yourself up for success or failure? For example, my oldest has been struggling in school because she has been expecting to read over a lesson once and know it. Does she have an eidetic or photographic memory? Nope.

No wonder she has been a huge ball of stress. I asked her where she got the impression that was how things worked. Apparently, her dad and I quoting books and movie lines made her think we just knew it after one viewing. Nope, I have worn out movies and books memorizing this stuff.

Are your expectations leading you to an unrealistic state? Remember, we don’t need to live in Hollywood and advertising view of perfection. Ask yourself: What is perfect for your life? Now, ask yourself: What stage of that perfection can you achieve right now?

Take a mindfulness moment and reflect on current self expectations.
Get comfortable, have a journal handy and ready, set, breathe!

Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one

Now, Open your journal and set a timer for 7 minutes.

Prompt … What are my current self expectations? Write until your timer goes off. If you are inclined, write past that. When you are done writing, please take a look at what you have written. Read your thoughts with loving kindness. Your inner voice is telling you the expectations that you have for yourself. Observe them with love and kindness. Treat them as though you are speaking with a loved one.

Once you have observed your inner thoughts. Reflect, but do not judge. Are these attainable? Do the expectations reflect where you are or where you came from? If the expectations are lofty, can they be broken up into stages; think of it as climbing a ladder. Are these expectations so low that you don’t feel like you are moving toward any goals? Do your expectations upset you or excite you?

Once we know what our expectations are, then we can move forward with an understanding of how we are operating. Is fear and ego at the wheel? Lack of confidence? Crazy unreachable expectations (ego)? Another person’s voice?

This awareness can give us the mindfulness we need to adjust our self-expectations. Part of my self care is awareness of expectations. Expecting my kitchen sink to never have dirty dishes is unrealistic. Expecting my children to do their chores and empty the dishwasher of clean and put in dirty is realistic if I am discussing the older two.

Let’s not get crazy though, we all have expectations that make us feel like we are banging our head against the wall. I expect clean folded laundry to make it to the dressers. My children expect magic fairies to put the laundry away and deal with the dirty clothes.

Laundry feels like a circus around here. It stresses me out and never is where I want it to be. So, when it is at its worse and I am at my best: I remind myself they are little and someday I will miss this chaos. I remind myself this mess happens because we are spending quality time instead of chore time. I remind myself that we are lucky to have clothing and shelter.

Those mindfulness prompts are the good days. On the bad days, I sound like a mom who has lost her mind in frustration, too little sleep and what feels like a mountain of dirt and filth. Mindfulness isn’t perfection or if it is, I haven’t found that particular roadmap. However, mindfulness does let us grow, learn and adjust each moment. This gives us the opportunity to handle the next such moment better than the one before.

Be mindful, check on your expectations and if you find those magic fairies send them my way, I could use the help too!

Lovingly,
Irisa

Mindfulness as Stress Relief

Mindfulness as stress relief is something that I am immensely grateful for. Without mindfulness, I would be unable really hone in on the things stressing me out and resolve them.

This morning, I woke up with a headache, body aches, tension in my neck and shoulders and that awful, tight feeling in my stomach. Immediately, my thoughts went to worry and guilt over two things. Instead of wallowing and being upset; I decided to follow this awareness and see what it was telling me.

I made my coffee, grabbed a journal and pen and began to write how I was feeling. The main source of my stress was over the quote we received for a bathroom remodel. Okay cool, source acknowledged by why was that stressing me out so much? After all, this bathroom remodel is in the category of “this would be awesome” instead of “we have problems.”

I kept writing and asking myself questions. What the writing revealed was blocks and traumas involving myself, money, relationships with men, self worth and boundaries. It was very eye opening and I gave myself some time to then do forgiveness and gratitude work on those blocks.

The end result has been a decrease in body tension and stress. Awareness on personal blocks and a grateful feeling towards my mindfulness practice. Had I not been mindful to how I was feeling, I would not have recognized that I was having a physical reaction to emotional issues. The muscle tension and headache could easily been attributed to sleeping wrong, change in weather or the nightly blanket battle with my husband and dogs.

Let’s do a mindfulness exercise:
Grab your journal and pen or electronic device.
Get comfy and prepare to breathe.
Breathe in through your nose … one … two … three…
hold your breathe … one .. two … three …
Exhale through your nose … one … two … three…
Repeat
Repeat
okay, put pen to paper and take stock of how your body is feeling. Then check in on how your emotions are feeling. Write down what comes to mind.
We are simply practicing mindful awareness of our physical and emotional connection.
If you feel called to write more and follow this awareness, please do so.
If this was enough for you for today, then congrats on beginning the journey and mark you calendar to do it again tomorrow.

Mindfulness works in ways you may not yet imagine. It brings an awareness and clarity that cuts through the mental and emotional clutter. This helps us grow and heal as an individual.

May you find peace in mindfulness,
Irisa

The messy side of meditation!

Let’s talk about meditation. I don’t know about you, but when I think of meditation I think of quiet time with no interruptions. That is not always a reality. Can it happen? Absolutely!

Does it happen each time you meditate? That depends on your lifestyle and living arrangements. If you live alone it is easier to get that quiet time. Turn off your cell phone and Viola, you have some quiet.

Roommates can be tricky to coordinate with each others comings and goings; but with communication and planning it should be manageable. Have a family with children? Good luck! There are days I swear my toddler has radar tuned to “mommy time!”

There is hope! Communication with anyone that you live with is vital. Tips and tricks for meditation time cues:

lighting. Recently, I have been changing our smart bulbs to purple when I am meditating. Also, I have been communicating to my three young children that when they see the purplelights that means that someone is meditating. The person meditating needs the respect, peace and quiet for self care.

Timing. I really do try to get up prior to my children, but between exhaustion and child radar I am not always successful. When this happens I pause my meditation, toss them on the TV or tablet they want anyway and take the time I need for my self care. Why? Because I have learned that I am short of spoons without my meditation and even an interrupted one balances more than simply skipping it because the , time isn’t right on perfect.

Getting ready for your day. Take your time and be mindful of every action on getting yourself looking and feeling your best for this day. When the kids, roommate on partner come in firmly and politely let them know you are doing set care and want 20 minutes to yourself. Make taking deep breaths and setting intentions as much of your morning and evening self care as brushing your teeth!

Meditation and mindfulness don’t always look the way that we want them to. However, that doesn’t mean that we should give up on this self care. It means we make it work for us within the circumstances of the moment and create our own ideal.

Mindfully yours,Irisa

Meditation: Holding Space

Hello Beautiful!

Today, I want to discuss holding space with you. Holding space in our lives is one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves. At this time of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and for those of us who are American – political and social uncertainty has been rising over the last four years; with elections a few weeks away those pressures and anxieties are rising quickly.

When life is at its scariest we instinctively focus on the mundane. However, when we hyper-focus that is when uncertainty and fear take root. This is when holding space is vital in our lives. The first thing we need to hold space for is ourselves. We need to connect with ourself … not fear, ego or society.

Grab your journal and join me as we take 5 slow deep breaths; breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your nose. Keeping the tip of the tongue behind the front teeth, but touching the roof of the mouth adds to the complete energy/breathe cycle within your body.

Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1

This is a small moment of holding space for yourself. I would recommend doing this breathe meditation and journaling for 11 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind and heart. There is no right or wrong here. This is about holding space for yourself. By doing so, you gain clarity amongst the mundane.

Holding this space for yourself is vital to personal balance in the mind, body and spirit; plus it opens you to knowing where you really want to focus in your life. When we are willing to stop multi-tasking and hold space for whatever we are giving our time a natural clarity occurs. It is easy to see if that is really where we want to be placing our time and energy when we are fully in the moment and aware of what is occurring with our whole presence and not split focus.

We also begin to see what relationships are feeding us when we focus on holding space when we interact with an individual. Engagement with another individual is an energy exchange. When we hold space and really focus on this exchange of time, energy and emotion with the individual we are sharing with a new awareness emerges.

Does this exchange leave you feeling balanced, drained, exhausted, happy, ecstatic, loved, etc? Is this exchange one-sided or balanced? Once we hold space we can take our awareness to a new level and make better decisions for ourself on what are healthy relationships for us. Some encounters are unavoidable, however, once you know they drain you then you can limit those encounters or make life changes to put yourself in a better place.

Holding space has a beautiful side affect. Your relationships deepen, as do your interests. Time doesn’t become a struggle to share. You are aware of what sings to you and naturally begin to align your time and energy with those things. The more you do this, the more you hold space instead of multi-tasking and rushing, the more your life and priorities become clearer and naturally align with who you are and what you want for your life.

This month I want you to practice holding space for yourself for 11 minutes a day. As you incorporate this into your life with ease, expand this to one task a day. Watch this concept of holding space naturally grow in your life. Journal and reflect on the awareness and changes that it brings for you and to you.

When you fall off the wagon, because we all do during new things, hold space and honor that it happened. Honor the awareness that made you realize it happened and simply begin again. Truth, Love and Awareness are the only perfection you need in life. We all falter, what is important is what we do when we recognize that we have faltered.

Holding Space with you,
Irisa

MESSY Toolbox: You are a Mental, Emotional & Spiritual Superhero

Sassy Tribe,

I want to discuss toolboxes with you! What is a toolbox? Is it a place where you keep your personal resources. A toolbox should be your go to place anytime you have a problem. The place that helps you make a plan and move forward.

We have been discussing toolboxes a lot around here. Part of the reason this sassy mama has been so quiet is because elementary school started and boy was the transition rough this year. I would love to tell you that we have handled everything with grace, calmness and ease … but I cannot.

What I can say is that mindfulness has been an amazing tool for us. It has allowed us to see how we are handling things as individuals and discuss that. The children have come up with some amazing thoughts on how they could have handled things differently and sometimes insight into how another family member could have done better.

Also, as parents it has been an amazing tool. We have been able to honestly look at some of the times that were handled without grace to flat out badly and say “we do not want to be that type of parent”, without judgement. The lack of judgement has been really helpful in mental and emotional clarity; let’s face it parental guilt sucks.

During a time of high frustration, my partner pulled out a wonderful phrase. He asked our daughter “what tools are you using for this problem?” I then sat back and watched him have a conversation about tools and our job was to help her learn about tools and build her toolbox.

This was a huge turning point in the mindset and how all of us had been approaching this school year. We were all mindful that there were struggles but the variety of approaches wasn’t working well. However, once we began to focus on the tools in our individual toolboxes things fell into place.

This led to our MESSY toolbox:

Mental
Emotional
Spiritual
Superhero
You


Inside our MESSY toolbox we have tools to help on the Mental, Emotional and spiritual level to make you the superhero that you are. Mindfulness is a primary tool that I have in our toolboxes. We use this to be aware of the moment, situation and our feelings and attitude about this. Once we have that mindfulness, our awareness is greater. With greater awareness we can judge what tool or tools to begin with.

What happens when awareness isn’t enough? Trust. Trust yourself. Use the tool of meditation and journalling to listen to your inner wisdom. Not the ego voice, which is often louder and validating our fears. The voice that is calm, reassuring, clear and honest. The one that feels right to your gut.

Once we have that guidepost in place, we can begin to navigate our way through the situation at hand with tools in our toolbox. You may think that you don’t have tools, but rest assured that you do.

If we are fortunate, we all begin with a base education that tells us how to read, perform basic math, and research information. These basic skills propel us forward in life and we build on them through work and play.

Community, family, tribe all of this builds another skill set that we put in our toolbox. It is how we relate to people. Communication, trust, relationships, relying on others, working and cooperation to name a few.

Experience. The good, bad and ugly are stored here. This is where we have pain and pleasure. A spot where warning, instinct and experience marry and color our actions and reactions.

Wisdom. The place that keeps us from acting solely on experience and instinct. Where knowledge shapes and molds our experiences and instincts allowing us to choose how we will act or respond to a situation.

There is much more to discuss and I look forward to unpacking this with you over the Fall season.

With Love,
Sassy Mama Irisa

Birthright: Loving-Kindness

Hello Beautiful!

I have some amazing news for you! You were born knowing loving-kindness. Not only did you know loving kindness, you practiced it without being taught how or told it was the right thing to do. You were born knowing and living loving-kindness.

How can I be so certain? Because it feels so right to live in loving-kindness. Nothing feels more natural. Being kind is easy. It makes us feel open, light and full of hope. Need more evidence? Watch small children. Watch them when someone they love is sad. Watch them with a puppy or kitten.

Earlier this summer we had a small rainstorm. My three year puts on his boots and grabs an umbrella. As I try and stop him he begins to tell me that “kitty needs help”. I let him go outside, as we don’t have a cat. He goes to my truck and tries to coax out a kitten who was sheltering from the rain.

When I asked him what he wanted to do with the kitten, he told me the “kitty needed to come inside out of the rain.” I then had to spend the next half hour calming him down as the kitten ran off in the rain. A three year old saw an animal without a home, getting wet. He then (independently) took action to care for it. That is loving-kindness.

We are taught that acting in loving-kindness is a weakness. We are taught that people will take advantage of us and yes, some individuals will. Are we wrong to live in loving-kindness? No, those other individuals have chosen to walk a more difficult path that does not involve remembering loving-kindness.

Every one of us will have experiences that pull us away from our innate nature of loving-kindness. This is when we need to be mindful of what is happening. We need to feel what we are feeling, that is healthy. However, we choose how we react or respond to the situation that is pulling us away from loving-kindness.

This is when we choose to feed the negative emotions such as hate, anger, jealousy, etc. or we forgive with love so that we can remain connected to our loving-kindness. If we can stay connected to our loving-kindness, then we can live in alignment with the Universe and create a life that we adore.

We all falter and step away from loving-kindness. The key is to forgive. Forgive yourself for being human, don’t punish yourself. Forgive the situation with love. Forgive the people. Replace those hard emotions with love. Do it for yourself. Do it so you can be in alignment with your greater good. Be the best version of yourself that you can be.

The following is a mantra that you can do a few times a day. This will remind you of what you already know. The exercise will build both your awareness of loving-kindness and your confidence in your ability to live in loving-kindness.

Exercise: Take a long, slow, deep breathe in your nose and then a long, slow, exhale out of your nose. Repeat the following: I know and understand loving-kindness.

If each of us would take the steps to be the best version of who they are. Together we can change the world. Start with yourself and like ripples on a pond, the world will be a better place.

With loving-kindness,
Irisa