I have found myself thinking of summer fields

I have found myself thinking of summer fields. Fields full of flowers— poppies or lupines. Or, here, fields where the roses hook into the dunes, and their increase is manyfold. All summer they are red and pink and white tents of softness and nectar, which wafts and hangs everywhere— a sweetness so palpable and excessive that, before it, I’m struck, I’m taken, I’m conquered; I’m washed into it, as though it was a river, full of dreaming and idleness— I drop to the sand, I can’t move; I am restless no more; I am replete, supine, finished, filled to the last edges with an immobilizing happiness.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Owls” in Upstream: Selected Essays 


Photo: Bart Ceuppens (Belgium) with Poppies (via drxgonfly)

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Do you have a personal mantra?

You should.

Research shows that thinking of a word or phrase that affirms our values—and repeating it over and over—produces powerful physiological changes. It can lower our cortisol levels, enhance endurance and reduce perception of effort during physical exertion. Perhaps even more compelling, a mantra can quiet the mind…This isn’t a bad thing—as long as we’re thinking thoughts that are beneficial. But too many of us beat ourselves up, ruminating on the same negative beliefs.  Mantras can create and strengthen new neural pathways that are positive and not toxic. And that can make our brain much calmer and happier…

The earliest mantras appeared 3,500 years ago and were repetitive prayers or hymns. By the time meditative yoga developed, in the last few centuries B.C.E., mantras were being used to calm and control the mind. Modern mantras are still a sort of a prayer—for what we wish to be. They’re effective because they’re repetitive and simple, making them easy to turn into a habit. We don’t have to search for the positive thought to call up; we already have it.

People invoke mantras during times of stress…Some are just one word: “Breathe.” “Shine.” “Love.” Others are phrases: “This will pass.” “You’ve come this far, now push to go further.” How can you choose the best mantra for you? Not just any clichéd motto—“Just do it!”—will do. [Read more…]

Come to the woods, for here is rest.

tree-cold-winter

To Fight the Winter Blues, Try a Dose of Nature by Florence Williams (excerpts):

Wintertime is rough on those whom the 19th-century hiker-philosopher John Muir called “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people.” But we have an obvious cure for our doldrums: go outside. Though we are months away from the flowers and leafy foliage of spring, a dose of nature can still calm the mind and solidify human bonds. The real question is why we don’t partake more often of this easy balm…

After crunching the data, Dr. MacKerron and Susana Mourato…found people were significantly happier outdoors, especially in natural settings, than they were indoors…But there was a catch: Most of the participants didn’t behave as if they knew this, because they were rarely outside. They were indoors or in vehicles for 93% of their waking hours.

The study reveals our epidemic dislocation from the outdoors—an indictment not just of the structures and expectations of modern life but of our self-understanding. As the writer Annie Dillard famously said, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Why don’t we do more of what makes us happy? Part of the answer is that we’re flat-out busy. But even when we have free time, we’re not always smart about how we spend it…

Because we don’t spend enough time outside to notice that it makes us feel good, we spend even less time outside, replacing it with shopping, social media and so on. We especially “devalue nearby nature,” she says, such as small urban parks and tree-lined streets, because we tend to think they aren’t impressive enough as destinations. Scientists are quantifying the effects of even small doses of urban nature not only on our moods and well-being but also on our ability to think—to remember things, plan, create, daydream and focus… [Read more…]

Go ahead. Draw your feet up a little.

blanket-jpg


Source: Via New England Journal of Education (1878). Thank you Rob @ The Hammock Papers

 

Be Better

better-person-8-articlelarge

NY Times 11 Ways to Be a Better Person in 2017:

Second annual semi-serious list of self-improvement tips, gleaned from the Styles stories that resonated most with readers in 2017. Here’s how to be healthy, happy and a little bit Canadian in 2017.” (And if you’d like to go deeper, our 15 tips for 2016 still hold up.)”

Lightly child, lightly.

patty-maher-breeze-wind

Like wind – In it, with it, of it.
Of it just like a sail, so light and strong that,
even when it is bent flat,
it gathers all the power of the wind without hampering its course.
Like light –
In light, lit through by light, transformed into light.
Like the lens which disappears in the light it focuses.
Like wind. Like light.
Just this – on these expanses, on these heights.

Dag HammarskjöldMarkings 


Notes:

  • Photo: Patty Maher. Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly.

raven-shoulder

I sat down with myself and let myself feel. I let myself open to the bodily sensations of feeling under qualified, poorly prepared…There was no need to follow a story about the feelings that were there; what I needed was simply to let myself feel them, beyond their names, down into the visceral connection – feel them while not losing touch with the larger spaciousness that I also knew to be there. The error I had initially made – one that is all too easy to make – was attempting to control the impact of my uncomfortable thoughts through bypassing them and replacing them with a feeling of spaciousness and calm. I know it doesn’t work that way; I know that both realities need to be embraced, but sometimes I forget. The only way through is to accept the gift of the moment, however it shows up. If what shows up is inadequacy, or illegitimacy, let it be so. This too. These moments were offering me the opportunity to accept my vulnerability and fragility.

It’s this simple: I am not required to hold it together all the time. 

~ Roger Housden, Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have 


Notes:

  • Photo: via Your Eyes Blaze Out. In Greek mythology, ravens are associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy. They are said to be a symbol of good luck, and were the god’s messengers in the mortal world. (wiki) (I think it is a Raven!)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Absolute Patience

quiet-still-patience

An absolute
patience.

[…]

So absolute, it is
no other than
happiness itself, a breathing
too quiet to hear.

Denise Levertov, from “The Breathing” in Poems: 1960 – 1967; “O’ Taste and See

 


Notes:

Happy? Now? What about how? And Now?

ruth-whippman-america-the-anxious

At the playground, the mantra of mellow parenting is “I don’t care, as long as he’s happy.” Whippman notices after a while that her reflexively sardonic British brain is suddenly looping around a new set of questions: Am I happy? Right at this moment? What about now? And now? Am I happy enough? As happy as everyone else? What about Meghan? Is she happier than me?

Tuning into this alien internal monologue reveals her grand thesis about America: The problem with our quest for happiness is that, apparently, it’s making us miserable. After some idle Googling, her suspicions are confirmed. Various clever studies by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, show that “paradoxically, the more people valued and were encouraged to value happiness as a separate life goal, the less happy they were.” When it comes to emotional temperament, America is the clumsy suitor of nations. We yearn and obsess and plot new elaborate strategies as the object of our desire shrinks ever farther away. It’s a little embarrassing.

~ Hanna Rosin, Why Are Americans So Anxious?, Book review of “America the Anxious. How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks” by Ruth Whippman.

Lightly child, lightly.

birds-shoulder-mystery-happiness

There ain’t no answer…
There never was an answer
There will never be an answer
That’s the answer

You are always the same age inside

One does not get better
But different and older
And that is always a pleasure

One must dare to be happy

~ Gertrude Stein, Useful Knowledge


Notes:

  • Photo: via Hidden Sanctuary. Poem. Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

 

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