Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate hope ala coworker

After visiting Lilly at her Lilly’s Life blog today, and after reading her post entitled “Put some boom into the doom and gloom,” I feel compelled to share this post. Lilly writes about a friend named Gail, who is an ex-Nun who is physically challenged and who has a very unique philosophy of life. She aspires to make people feel important no matter what their station in life. Imagine what a difference that could make in all of our worlds if her philosophy were to catch on.

Two days ago, I found out that my job position is slated for the death gallows on June 30, 2009. I walked obliviously into my usual weekly one-on-one with the boss like an innocent cow to the slaughter, not knowing what he was about to tell me. Afterwards, my coworkers huddled together and whispered as coworkers often do when something of this nature takes place. Before leaving for the day I calmly told everyone within earshot, which was virtually all of us, “You all don’t have to act like my job is not being chopped. I can hear everyone whispering and it would be better if you would all talk to me.” With that, I left for the day.

I came in the next day and one of my coworkers came into my office when no one was around and gave me a pep talk and assured me that the municipality I work for will surely find me another position. Then she hugged me for what seemed to be 10 minutes. Although I basically equate a hug with a fate worse than death, I endured it, and actually appreciated the sentiment.

Then there was “Kim” who sneakily bought me some dark chocolate and almonds from See’s Candy which is known to sell the very best chocolate in Phoenix. She did not stop there; later in the day she came into my office and I merely commented that it was bad luck that my final report edit was being published today since I had not been able to concentrate and do my very best work since the news of my pending lay-off. She cheerfully offered to do a final read-through for me. I looked at her in disbelief because I believe this was the kindest and most thoughtful offer I have ever gotten from someone in the work place.

The first thing that went through my mind was to say no and thank her. But when your job is on the line, and you really don’t want something to go public knowing it is not your best work, I did what I needed to do, and that was, to say yes. She found the mistake that would have been a great embarrassment to me. I had left out the word “of” in the following sentence: “Some ___ the results are listed in Table 1.” I have never been so grateful to anyone in my career. I was so relieved and so appreciative of her kindness. Here was a coworker who for some reason decided to show some compassion towards me and in the process saved me literally from career disaster. All she did was smile and tell me that we are a team and we watch out for each other. You bet I’ll be looking for ways to watch out for her!

I plan to meditate on this philosophy of trying to make a difference in someone’s day and possibly their life. I think it’s worth the effort and the results. I feel like I learned a valuable life lesson and wish to share it with you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finding silence

Trying to get in touch with my inner silence is very challenging and quite honestly it's not working at all. I find myself sitting with the five minute timer on and I'm having to drag my thoughts back to silence. I think about everything including my shopping list; I can't seem to turn off the noise in my head. I am the kind of person who needs a prop; I am a very visual person who needs a stimulus even for turning off my motor.

I have a blog pal, soulbrush, who loves mandalas. In truth I never considered the value or purpose of a mandala until I met soulbrush on the web. With me it's pouts that grab my interest. I think pouts can be very beautiful; one only has to look at someone like Angelina Jolie or Mona Lisa for proof of that. Because I love pouts so much I find myself looking at every photograph, every statue, every cloud, and I see pouts. I know another person who sees hearts everywhere; in foot prints, in trees, even in food.

Do you have something you see all of the time in the ordinary?

Since finding out that soulbrush loves mandalas, I see mandalas all over the place. This felt like serendipity to me and it led me to research mandalas and I was so intrigued that I decided to share it here.

Upon reading further I found out that mandalas are used in rituals such as meditation. Now we're getting somewhere. This led me to research how mandalas are used in meditation since that is the ritual I am interested in because I am hoping it might help me find a way to get in touch with my inner silence.

I have seen lots of our churches with round stained glass windows called "rose windows" that always grabbed my attention, and now I think of mandalas when I see them. A very famous rose window was created by Henri Matisse, the great French modernist painter, for the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, New York, shown in the photograph above.

I began hoping that somehow this will help me in my dream weaving.

Then while wandering through a bookstore this past Sunday evening I saw a mandala kit called Serenity with Mandalas. It comes with 25 pre-printed mandalas and a set of colored pencils and it cost only $10. I decided to buy it thinking that I like to color anyway and it might reduce my stress at the least. Although I cannot recommend the kit due to the fact that I had to press way too hard to get any color out of the colored pencils, I did experience some satisfaction with choosing which colors to use and the focus it took to complete the entire mandala. I plan to buy some fine tip colored markers to use with my 24 remaining mandalas rather than using the colored pencils.

The mandala kit came with a booklet with really good information explaining all about mandalas and I am sharing it here.

Source: Serenity with Mandalas by Adrienne Burke

The mandala is an ancient religious symbol found in many cultures. It is usually a complex, circular design, divided into four or eight parts. The design leads the eye around the circle, allowing the viewer to discover new areas, and it eventually draws the eye to the center.

Mandalas are said to have originated thousands of years ago, before the time of Christ. Some even say there were mandalas before civilization began. Early mandalas can be found in cave drawings and rock inscriptions created by our ancestors, as a reflection of spiritual energy.

The mandala is round: a circle is the best thing to describe it, I think, but from my reading a mandala does not have to be a circle. The word itself comes from the root word manda, which means essence. The suffix la can mean container. If we put the two meanings together we can come to the conclusion that mandalas are sources of, or containers of, spiritual or divine power.

Mandalas traditionally have been used in concentration and meditation practice. The individual first creates the design of the mandala, which can incorporate pictures of deities and story lines, as well as various shapes, symbols, and colors. Through this process the mind becomes so focused that it turns off its normal chatter. The individual begins to merge the mind to the process, thus training it to be still. The conscious mind uses words to categorize and define our experiences. The unconscious mind deals in images and symbols, which give us various perceptions.

Mandalas are a powerful tool for meditation because the mind creates its strongest associations through imagery. The majority of the people in the world are visual in nature. They need to see something to relate to it. If you say or think of a flower, a person, or an event, an image will immediately arise in your mind. A mandala is intensely visual, energized with color and enlivened with design. Once pictured and absorbed into the mind, changes in your mental state occur to influence your emotions. Your perception is enhanced and a heightened state of awareness and insight can surface. What you feel is directly related to your state of being. The creation of a mandala helps to bring out the complexity of what is happening inside. The meditation enables you to perceive more clearly and helps you approach the ups and downs of daily life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Cosmic Womb

I love this photograph and I call it "The Cosmic Womb." It feels like it makes the perfect header for my dream weaving blog.

I blog because it makes me feel connected to the world in a way I've not felt before. It allows me to become friends with people like Maithri, who lives in Australia, but does much work with the sick and afflicted people of Swaziland. I would have never known of him, or his unique way of looking at the world, if I had not started blogging 47 days ago. I suspect that I have much to learn from Maithri whose prescription for dream weaving a purposeful life begins with seeking both silence and laughter. He recommends that we find five minutes every day to listen to silence. I think some people call this meditation. I will begin to do this daily to try to connect with the inner voice inside of me. I seem to be a dichotomy of happiness and sadness and I don't fully understand why. I suspect it has a lot to do with guilt of not being the best mother I could be and knowing that there is no way I can ever make this up to my children. For this reason I cannot imagine not being sad but I can try to weave it so.