You Are the Gatekeeper to Inner Happiness

You Are the Gatekeeper to Inner Happiness

Protect your inner happiness: Be the gatekeeper

Recently we considered the value of reducing clutter in your external spaces to open channels for positive change. But what about that internal garden of yours – your mind? Is it thriving with rich life that enhances your inner happiness, or is it as cluttered as your email inbox? There is no better time than right now to clean up those internal spaces, and make room for fresh choices.

We face many obstacles to achieving inner happiness with all that is going on in the world. Of course it is important not to bury our heads in the sand, or completely tune out current events and news. But we must also regulate what we take in, and carefully choose what to keep as well as how much of it. We are the gatekeepers of our minds and hearts, because we alone decide what makes it past the entrance to the inside.

Weeding your internal “garden”

We have SO much power to choose what to keep or discard, that which either feeds or diminishes our inner happiness. The mind, much like a garden, is a space where ideas, beliefs and perceptions grow. We plant those “seeds” intentionally, and we also allow others to plant them there. Once you become aware of the mechanics of your own internal garden, then you possess what you need to make informed choices.

There is no single way of doing this, and it can and should become a lifelong process. Weeding your internal garden is like any seasonal clearing, but it is your mind that you are refreshing instead of a closet or your backyard. Ideas and messages drop like seeds and propagate, so it is important to declutter – weed the garden –  to make room for what serves us. Part of this decluttering may include pruning, or cutting back unpleasant content like bad news, because it may overrun your mind. It is a balancing act, and your job as the gardener.

Four tips to declutter your mind and promote inner happiness

Let’s look at some effective ways to clear away toxic weeds from your mind so you can plant what you want to grow intentionally.

  1. Start with a “brain dump.” Take an inventory of your internal garden. Deeply examine what may not belong in your internal garden, and whether it diminishes your inner happiness. Write these things down: bad news, family dramas, divisive politics, tragic events, negative self talk…whatever ails you. Get clear on vagueries like boredom or anxiety because they are simply how something may affect you. It is important to be specific – you need to know what is growing before you can weed it!
  2. Weed your garden. Look at everything you wrote down in your brain dump. If you don’t need it, then WEED IT. Tear it off the page and burn it in ceremony! Take a limiting self belief for example: it was probably a message planted there by someone else anyway (more on that another time). If it makes you feel bad, weed it out – don’t let it take up residence in your garden.
  3. Reduce input of messages. It’s okay to give social media a break, or place limits on your daily exposure to news. Choose what you allow in your feed, and establish boundaries with friends who spread controversial or inflammatory messages. If it’s daily news getting you down, then change how you take it in, as well as how often. I like CNN’s Five Things and the New York Times’ The Morning Newsletter for succinct delivery of the most important news of the day. They are briefs of breaking news, and include links to other articles if you choose to read more. Also, I NEVER read news first thing in the morning. I prefer to start with a bit of meditation, which centers me before I take in anything stronger that a good cup of coffee!
  4. Create a Zen garden. I wrote a post about this recently. It is something anyone can do, and the benefits are enormous. Working and sitting in a simple, beautiful garden can declutter your mind like a charm, and melt away all your stress. I live to be in my garden!

There are more tips than can be shared in a single blog post. Perhaps I will take you down the rabbit hole of this topic another time – there is a lot to learn here. Stay well, friends, and keep me posted on your journey of pursuing inner happiness!

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

Some tips for coming out of the long weekend!

Some tips for coming out of the long weekend!

Happy Memorial Day weekend, Friends!

I have been very busy with work, and have decided it’s a great time – this very weekend – for me to indulge in a bit of down time. It’s part of my self-care program! I am always in motion, always doing or planning something. I love my work, but also need to step back from it all and recalibrate. Brett and I have been gardening, songwriting, recording and performing, while I’ve been trying to engage my 136 students in “distance learning.” It’s great stuff, just a lot of it.

We’ve even engaged in a few not-so-healthy patterns in an effort to relieve the pressure and stress associated with the pandemic. It has been both a blessing and a curse. How about you? Are you also ready to change the channel?

That being said, what I really want to share with you is an article from a blogger named Katie McDonald, author and owner of the wellness organization, bnourished. I mean, why reinvent the wheel? I love Katie’s work, and found this article particularly meaningful – you’ll understand why as soon as you read it. Additionally, I am preparing for the next phase of my own wellness program, and her timing was just right. Don’t you just love synchronicities? Anyway, you will most likely value her wisdom as much as I do!

Have a fantastic weekend, warriors, whatever you do. Don’t forget how important it is to stop and smell the roses…or the lilacs, especially since they are in bloom right now.

b well! cool

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

Space: The Final Frontier for Positive Change!

Space: The Final Frontier for Positive Change!

Need some positive change? Declutter your environment.

Where is that positive change you’ve been craving? Do you find it hard to think clearly? It’s quite likely you are stuck in a rut, you are not feeling creative, and the flow of your energy has grounded to a halt. Maybe it’s time to make some room for new, fresh energy by decluttering your internal and external environments. Seasonal shifts inherently encourage this if we pay attention.

Clutter interferes with our energy field in so many ways. This principle applies in any physical environment, such as an interior room in your home or a garden bed in your backyard. Imagine if you never tidied up your office, or if you allowed weeds to choke out that garden of yours. Would you enjoy working at a desk covered with random papers, or walking by your once beautiful but now overgrown garden?

Let’s go one step further…how would it feel if you gave your office or garden a real facelift by changing up the space dramatically? Consider refreshing those areas by releasing your attachment to – yes, eliminating – what no longer holds meaning for you.

Making room for fresh growth

When we let go of the material possessions that we accumulate in life, whether in our home environment or in the internal “garden” of our mind, we make room for the new. Americans tend to be highly acquisitive. We live to shop, love collecting things, and in some cases we even horde. It seems to be imprinted in the pervasive culture of consumerism, and it affects us in numerous ways. This “stuff-ness” can impact our ability to make positive change because it interferes with our chi, or the life energy that balances Yin and Yang.

The culture of Japanese minimalism presents us with the idea that less is more. Against the backdrop of consumerism, especially in Japan’s urban centers, exists a quiet reverence for simplicity that underscores modern Japanese culture. Minimalism is evident in the interior home design that has grown in popularity in the West since the 1960’s.

The Japanese concept of ma is even broader than minimalism, because it begins where minimalism ends. Ma literally means gap or void, which denotes that there is beauty to be discovered in the emptiness between “things.” Consider in music, poetry and spoken language, the negative space between notes or words allows what is there to have more meaning because it is better able to stand out.

Simplify. 

Clearing away clutter is an easy way to make room for positive change in your life. Like weeding a garden to make room for the plants you want to showcase, getting rid of the things you no longer need or love can bring new life to an environment. Here are some ways to simplify your environment to release any stuck energy:

  1. Take an inventory of the space you want to declutter. What objects do you truly love or need?
  2. Remove anything that no longer serves you. Not feeling the love? Send those objects immediately off to the recycle bin!
  3. Clean all surfaces and then take another inventory. Repeat until you are happy with the result.
  4. Rearrange all objects according to their utility or their value on the “love” scale!

Now that you have intentionally created room in your physical environment for positive change, pay careful attention to how this makes you feel. Are you experiencing new vitality? If so, repeat this process whenever you feel stuck and unmotivated. In a future article we will explore the internal spaces of the mind for options to make room for positive change there, too!

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

Manifest Peace in Your Life: Create a Zen Garden

Manifest Peace in Your Life: Create a Zen Garden

How can you manifest peace when the world has gone mad?

People have more creative power than they realize. Almost all of our experience in life is a function of some kind of choice, and from there we may create our lives. Peace is always accessible, we simply need to tap into it, bring it to the surface – to make it manifest. Have I piqued your interest?

Most of us are drawn to the beauty of nature. We experience peace and joy when we gaze at a sprawling green landscape in the country, a pristine mountain range, or a body of water such as a lake, river, stream or ocean. It’s practically universal. We plan vacations around such destinations. Let’s start there and do a simple exercise to manifest such a place in your mind.

Take a few deep, slow breaths and picture yourself in a lovely garden with dappled sunlight filtering through the trees. Add some sound to this image…perhaps a stream of water spilling gently into a pool or small basin. If you can do this in your mind, then you can experience peace without ever having to be there. You can manifest Zen.

What is Zen?

Everyone has a general sense of the meaning of Zen, which is often associated with peace, calmness, clarity, and freedom from stress. In reality, Zen is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes the value of meditation, contemplation and intuition. These practices create openness, spiritual expansion, and enlightenment.

In general, Zen spirituality is grounded in the belief that everyone has a “Buddha nature.” Zen emphasizes that knowledge is attainable in every aspect of life, even if you are engaging in simple activities such as gathering wood or washing dishes. These mundane tasks, in conjunction with meditation and mindfulness, create “emptiness” – a decluttering of the mind, heart and spirit. Regular Zen practice can help us manifest deep insights, and this can lead to spiritual awakening.

Dream, create, and manifest Zen in your own yard.

I find my Zen place in nature, and by working and being outdoors in my yard. There, I have created what I refer to as my Zen garden. A traditional Zen garden is comprised of stones placed atop a bed of sand, which is then raked out to create grooves that flow like a river current. They are simple and beautiful. Creating a Zen garden can help us manifest peace as we perform the simple creative tasks required to arrange the space into something pleasant.

You may be interested in creating your own Zen garden, and there are countless options that may afford you a doorway to peace right there on your own land. Even someone who is not a gardener can manifest peace in their own space cheaply, and with little planning. One thing to keep in mind is that the act of creating the garden can help you manifest peace and joy as much as being in it.

Where I manifest my joy.

My Zen garden balances the round, flowing nature of the feminine Yin with the more angular, masculine nature of Yang. The paths in my Zen garden have a circular, meandering design. They are covered with mosses, many of which I planted myself, and the borders are defined with stones on both sides. These objects were gathered from the land, and are positioned intentionally along the inner and outer boundaries of the paths.

Creating and tending my Zen garden is an ongoing labor of love. I am able to manifest all the peace I need, no matter what emotional state I happen to be in when I enter the space. Even if I were to live in a city apartment I would still find ways to manifest peace in a Zen garden, perhaps on a tabletop indoors. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to creating a Zen garden.

A Zen garden needn’t be costly or difficult to make. If you wish to create a garden to manifest more peace in your life, then here are four easy steps.

4 steps to manifest a simple, peaceful garden.

  1. Determine the physical space: Is there a particular area around your home that would make a peaceful garden? Can you feel it pulling you, or inviting you to begin working there? Are there natural formations that you can work with in or around the space? This could be a tree, a crop of ferns, some mosses, or a boulder. Explore every location, and carefully examine it before you begin. Working with native plants and rocks can give your garden the wild feel of nature…and they are free!
  2. Take an inventory: If you find beautiful plants and rocks that can be harvested on or near the land, then mark their location. Gather both minerals (stone, sand, pebbles) and organics (plants), because they will balance the energy and feel of your Zen garden. You may purchase plants, and even use pretty beach stones that you have collected. Consider a lantern or statue, or install a small circular fountain into the space.
  3. Decide on the layout: Once you have a gathered materials, then you are ready to craft the layout of your garden. Start by tracing shapes that will enhance the placement of your elements…think Yin and Yang for paths and borders. Any digging tool will do, even a stone or heavy stick. If you are working indoors, find a wide bowl or other container to house your micro-garden.
  4. Create your garden: If you have made it this far, then you are already deep into your Zen meditation. Assemble your tools and begin the work of putting it all together.

YOU are the master!

Creating a Zen garden is an ongoing, organic process – a work in progress. If you ever feel stressed out and need to manifest some peace in your life, I invite you to wander into that magical space. In doing so, you have become the Zen master of your own internal garden.

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”

Good Thoughts for the Day: How can music HEAL?

Good Thoughts for the Day: How can music HEAL?

Music…and a few good thoughts for the day

Can music heal? Hell YES.

Music is a vital life force for countless people, including Yours Truly. Music heals the deepest wounds in my life, whether I am making it or sharing it. Additionally, just listening to music can deliver good thoughts for the day, no matter what is happening around me. I would be lost without it. Meaningful lyrics paired with the right sounds sets me on a direct path to joy in a matter of seconds.

And in addition to sharing a bit of original music with you, I am going to share my own good thoughts for the day with you right now. I want to spread the happiness that I feel when I am paying attention to the joyful things in my life, when I am actively living in a state of gratitude.

Yes, pure, simple gratitude. It is one of the easiest gifts that we can give ourselves and to those we love. We hear this cliche over and over, and say it all the time: Count your blessings. But how many of us actually do count our blessings regularly? Why do we even need to be reminded if it’s so powerful?

Why does gratitude elude us?

It is actually VERY easy to take life, health, wealth, opportunity, and relationships for granted. You don’t have to look far to encounter obstacles to your happiness. Simply reading or watching the news exposes us all to enough low-vibrational, life-sucking misery to crush out any good thoughts for the day before we even get started. It is like poison to the heart and soul, and affects us deeply when we take it in. Even music has trouble reaching us when we go too far down that rabbit hole!

Unhappy people can also have a profound impact on our degree of happiness. If you are surrounded by negative people and sour messages, what chance do you have to maintain your own good thoughts for the day? I guess that’s the million dollar question. HOW do we find joy while living a world of sadness? It is a dilemma that Buddhists have been addressing for centuries. But what does music have to teach us?

Music and gratitude

Now that I have introduced the idea that music can truly boost your good thoughts for the day, I am going to share a song I wrote – and a story – that helped connect the dots for me on both of those things. It is true that sometimes the most important life lessons arrive in spiny, painful little packages.

On the day the song Nettles was born, I had just picked up my brand-new Martin guitar, the guitar of my dreams, and couldn’t wait to play it. However, earlier that morning I had been spontaneously weeding my garden beds without wearing gloves, and ran into a fresh patch of nettles. Have you ever grabbed a handful of stinging nettles? They are aptly named. Tiny chards of thorny fibers lock underneath the skin and sting continuously for days until they work their way out. My fingers felt like they were on fire, screaming.

In this condition I played music on my new guitar nonstop for hours, despite the burning pain. During this time I composed the song that Brett affectionately coined “Nettles.” It lived as an instrumental for about a year. I penned the lyrics later …as the meaning of the song fully emerged.

Your good thoughts for the day: Gratitude is a CHOICE

The song Nettles contains my good thoughts for the day – music and meaningful lyrics to lift you up. Nettles suggests that gratitude is not something that just happens – is a conscious choice. We either choose gratitude, or we do not…because it’s more about what we pay attention to.

Every life is filled with pain. Everyone experiences sorrow and disappointment. What do you focus on, pain or happiness? Will you hold onto feelings of bitterness, deprivation and despair, or will you embrace love, gratitude and joy? Will you sit in silent misery or turn up the music that heals?

What we choose to focus on is what we ultimately get, and therein lies the good thoughts for the day that I wish to impart. It’s very simple, something the Buddhists got right. Pay careful attention to your thoughts, because they speak volumes about where you are directing your energy, and therefore your life. That is the gift of mindfulness.

Nothing can keep me down for long when I choose to connect to everything – and everyone – that are blessings in my life. For me, Nettles is a deeply spiritual song. I will share this music now – my good thoughts for the day – with you, my friends, to show how very grateful I am for YOU.

I would love to read your comments, revelations and aha-moments on our website or Facebook page!

To get this blog every week, click here

Keep calm and Brumbylon.

Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!

~ Lisa

“The seed that grows toward the light begins in darkness.”