Monday, March 26, 2012

Connecting With the Inner-Child

by N. Jane Allio

The first day of sun in a week was a welcome surprise. I woke up Friday morning to find, not snow, but gorgeous rays of sunlight dancing through my mesh curtains kissing my face. What a glorious day, I thought to myself, and determined to not let it go by without fully basking in its majesty.

 So, I called up a couple of friends, one of which has an extremely energetic two-year-old that loves to play, and ventured outside. On our walk we absolutely had to stop by the neighborhood park for rounds of climbing big winding structures, teeter-tottering, sliding, and of course taking a spill or two in the bark.

Photo contribution by Crystal Wong
Running, climbing, feeling my muscles burn hanging up-side-down, blood rushing to my face, the sheer thrill of hanging there without a care in the world, flying freely as I flew down the slide and straight off the tail into the dirt. Listening to shrieking laughter fill the atmosphere accompanied by a multitude of smiles. This is how memories are made during sunny days of childhood play. 

All to often our daily life fills with stress, work, worries, bills, errands, chores, and other "gown-up" obligations that the kid within us begins to get lost under a pile of dishes, paperwork, and un-matched socks. Forgetting to take the time, like that dear little two-year-old, to pause, smell the daisies, and say, "Mmmmmmm." 

When we don't allow ourselves the time to stop and do something childish every now and again we begin to become callus to our surroundings, eventually we go through our days like a work horse, blinders on as not to get distracted from the road. 

Each moment is unique unto itself allowing ourselves to go through each day with child-like wide eyed wonderment does not negate the wisdom that has been gained, but rather allows it to be applied in new and different areas. Not to mention, humbling pride along the way.

At least this is what my experience has been.

After I embraced this childishness within myself, it manifested in a beautifully productive way, instead of coming out during a frustration ending in embarrassment. Ignoring the little voice with-in saying to take the long way home, or just take a break for a minute and go for a walk, suppresses needs that yearn to be filled. Taking the time to blow of a little steam by being aware, honoring, and embracing these necessities opens the hatch of the internal pressure cooker, allowing relaxation and happiness to fill the newly empty space. 

So if you feel stressed, bogged down by work, or just plain muggy, try skipping down a wooded path, sitting in a garden, climbing a tree, or whatever you feel compelled to do, I am almost certain your frown will turn up-side-down. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Opening the Door of Perspective

By N. Jane Allio

Photo contribution by Crystal Wong

My mother was earning her college degree in psychology while I was in high school. Needless to say, I ended up listening to her tell me about different cases and scenarios she was studying or wound up discussing some theory she came across and thought to share. I found almost everything she talked about incredibly fascinating.

On one particular occasion I recall her telling me about the idea of differing perspectives. Sharing the story of a family getting into a heated discussion, then when each person was asked what happened, they all gave a story that was just a little bit different. Signifying that one person may not see something the same way you see it. It could be a situation like the aforementioned, or perhaps a painting, or the wording of a math problem, the lyric to a song, or a street corner scene, etc.

Sounds elementary I know, but for the first time I began to grasp a deeper meaning. Yes, I am the only person seeing with my eyes, hearing with my ears, smelling with my nose, touching with my hands, tasting with my tongue, and interpreting an array of emotions that bloom with in me. However, I am not the only person in this world, I am not the only one capable of seeing, thinking, reasoning, feeling, or concluding. I am one of seven billion. Among those seven billion there are those with more knowledge than I possess, better skills and qualifications, wider ranges of influence, and etc. Beyond mere global population, the Earth is one of an infinite number of planets in the vast envelope of the universe.

For most, at one time or another, such thoughts have the capability of flinging the mind into a ferocious storm of self pity and doubt; all about how insignificant the existence is of one human life. I know this because thoughts like these used to occupy my mind a lot.

If I told you I now consider this truly comforting, would you believe it? Well it is - to me at least.

This is because when I consider how many others there are it does not take away from me, rather, it adds to the uniqueness that I possess. In the whole universe there is none like me or you. Our talents, abilities, ways of thinking, credentials, or lack there of, all help to create a beautiful world with diversity that ought to be celebrated.

Unfortunately, there are those that are severely frighted because everyone is not a like. Wars have been raged in the names of religion, race, virtue, and vengeance, in order to force mass conformity.

Now what if we took that fear and turned it inside out? Shifting the paradigm of our thoughts and looking, not only at each other but also the world, with humble openness instead of stubborn arrogance.

Brooks Atkinson said, “The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.”

Our earth is in constant forward motion, it only make sense that we ourselves are as well, physically, emotionally, and mentally. We need only to open the door of perspective in order to see how.

This beautiful video sums it all up.

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?" This is his answer...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Carpe Diem

By N. Jane Allio

I found myself wallowing between the past and the present today. Dwelling willfully in the memories of family and friends far away. Such gloom was beginning to steal the sun out of my usually sunny disposition.

While it is always pleasant to think upon the past, getting wrapped up in it so much that I am not being fully aware takes for granted the beautiful moment at hand.

Preoccupying my mind by living in memories of the past disconnects me from that special place in my mind and body where I allow the day to organically unfold before me; like a flower's petals unfolding to bask in the first rays of the morning sun. The little nuances that give each day a different meaning get drowned out by the white-noise of normality. Consequently resulting in missed opportunities, however big or small.

I usually tread down this road when I do not take time to focus my mind which, for me, means meditating and practicing yoga in the morning. These habitual rituals tidy my mind, so to speak, leaving a clean space for what the day may have in store. Allowing each passing minute to be new and special in its own way.

There is no moment like right now, to fully appreciate it I must be fully present. How can I appreciate the view if I don't open my eyes and look around? Well I can't. I must open my eyes and look, and when my eyes are open I see that beauty abounds.

Photo by N. Jane Allio