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Surrender

Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!

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Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!
Dec 11, 2017

PEBBLE
If you find who you are and embrace it, your life will work for you.
-a wise & happy woman
shared by Lauren in San Diego (who’s never forgotten this tip she heard from a guest lecturer when she was a student at Cal Poly)

BOULDER
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
-E.E. Cummings, shared by a Rippler in the Northeast

PONDER
A few weeks ago after I mentioned some ongoing health challenges I’m currently facing, a Ripples reader suggested I take a peek at Pema Chödrön’s “The Wisdom of No Escape,” a written compilation of remarks given by a warm and wondrous Buddhist nun over the course of a 30-day meditation retreat. In the very first chapter, she focuses on the concept of Loving-Kindness and how important it is to apply that to yourself.

She writes, “When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are.” She then goes on to challenge the idea that meditation is about improving or changing. “It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.”

These lines were underlined in the copy I acquired from a used book store, and someone had written in the margins, “We come to God as we are, not as who we think we should be.” That was reinforced by a Facebook post I came across a few days later: “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is, “supposed to be.”

I’m still taking all of this in…trying to be curious about how I can embrace myself and my current situation just as it is, and making a conscious effort to gently release any expectations about how things are “supposed to be.” It’s a tall order, and it might seem ironic that embracing ourselves just as we are is an essential first step to growth and change. How about we all keep pondering and working on this. I will if you will!

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #966: The Tensions and The Doldrums.

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Ripples #966: The Tensions and The Doldrums.
Nov 27, 2017

PEBBLE

We grow and learn the most during the tension we experience in life.
-Ashley Lorah
written and shared by Ashley in Columbus, OH (who has been facing recent challenges by looking ahead to get excited about the growth that will come from them rather than dwelling on the difficulties themselves)

BOULDER
It has been liberating to allow myself to feel and experience life so intensely, to go through the doldrums, and then to come out of them having learned something about myself.
-J. Hardin (adapted; original quote here)
shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

PONDER
I’m not gonna lie: I’ve been dealing with some rather unpleasant STUFF lately, including challenges related to my physical health and a few wrinkles with my mental health. Add in the steady stream of really heavy news stories over the past several months….well, it is a recipe for feeling less than my best self (understatement, you have a call on line 1).

The good news is that all of this STUFF didn’t prevent me from having some truly lovely moments over the holidays, and I continue to have a really strong support base that I’ve been able to consistently depend on over the last several weeks. The bad news is that it is gonna take some time and effort to get myself back to my usual self and my usual life, and the progress is gonna be more gradual than I would prefer (control issues, you have a call on line 2).

As I sat down to pull together this issue of Ripples, I confessed to my boyfriend that I wasn’t feeling very Ripply and for the first time in a really long time I didn’t quite know how to summon the right energy and mindset to pull together something uplifting to zoom out on Monday morning. His response was significant and powerful: “Paul, what if you just shared exactly what you are thinking? Lots of other people might be feeling less than stellar either because of all the carbs they ate, or coming down from the high of being around loved ones, or just the letdown of the holiday being over.”

I immediately recalled the “doldrums” quote Leslie had shared with me a while back and knew it would make a good base on which to build this issue. It took only another moment to match it with the simple yet powerful words that Ashley shared quite recently, which reminded me of a consistent truth in my life: I’ve always learned more during the tough chapters of my life than the easy-breezy ones.

Now I’m feeling better about not feeling better than I do, so I can exhale and get back to letting myself feel exactly the way I do. And the irony is that I can already sense the tensions lifting and the doldrums dissipating….

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #923: Winter’s Sacred Quality!

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Ripples #923: Winter’s Sacred Quality.
Jan 30, 2017

PEBBLE
If you touch the sacred quality of winter inside yourself—that quality of everything returning to its most essential form—you find yourself falling off the end of the mind and into openness.
-Adyashanti, shared by Pamela, in Hawi, HI

BOULDER
Now I realize that the trees blossom in spring and bear fruit in summer without seeking praise, and they drop their leaves in autumn and become naked in winter without fearing blame.
-Kahlil Gibran, shared by Carol in Tennessee

PONDER
We recognize spring and summer as seasons of emerging and developing, yet we tend to forget that autumn’s decomposition and winter’s dormancy are also vital components of the growth cycle. Winter is the time when many organisms are resting and recovering as they prepare for another growth spurt that will inevitably arrive when spring showers and summer sunshine returns. And while it’s perfectly natural (and perfectly acceptable) to long for those warmer, brighter days, it might be useful to cultivate an appreciation for the regenerative, restorative nature of winter.

If too many bleak and blustery days in a row have you feeling down, I invite you to reframe the need to bundle up as an opportunity to practice insulating yourself from unwelcome bitterness of the elements. And instead of feeling “stuck inside,” you might choose to leverage your inside time with an inward focus: a chance to rest, nest, and digest…which will return you to your best.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. It is completely acceptable if you just groaned at the last line. Completely. Acceptable.… Read More!

Ripples #922: Difficult Ordinariness!

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Ripples #922: Difficult Ordinariness!
Jan 23, 2017

PEBBLE
Empower me to exercise the authority of honesty and be a participant in the difficult ordinariness of now.
-Ted Loder, shared by Pat in Cincinnati, OH

BOULDER
Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.
-L.R. Knost
shared by Laura in Milwaukee WI

PONDER
Most of our days contain a little bit of good, a little bit of bad, and usually a whole lotta ordinary. If life has been a little too hectic for you lately, see if you can transform some of the mundane parts of your life into moments to breathe, center yourself, and practice mindfulness. Chores, errands, commutes, mindless work tasks are all invitations to participate in the “difficult ordinariness” of the present moment.

On the other hand, if you’ve been especially bored or frustrated lately, see if you can recognize the sacred in your ordinary. When viewed through the proper lens, tasks you’ve done over and over can become miracles of noticing and savoring.

And remember that you can usually get more out of a moment when you can remember to be:

here, now;
here, now;
here, now.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. If you’re enjoying Ripples, remember that the best way to show it is to SHARE Ripples with your peeps and encourage them to join us, and also click the SUBMIT A QUOTE button below whenever you encounter a groovy quote that we should consider for an upcoming issue. Thanks for both!

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Ripples #909: Storm Dancing!

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Ripples #909: Storm Dancing.
Oct 24, 2016

PEBBLE
Joy is a decision, a really brave one,
about how you are going to respond to life.
-Wess Stafford, shared via Values.com

BOULDER
You can dance in the storm.
Don’t wait for the rain to be over because it might take too long. You can do it now. Wherever you are, you can start, right now; this very moment.
-Israelmore Ayivor, shared by Jeff at UC-Davis

PONDER

The external climate isn’t up to me, but my internal climate is.

We’re all seduced at times by the myth that happiness comes from having things go our way. Especially on the tough days, it can be tempting to believe that good moods shine along with the sunshine, and bad moods are caused by bad weather. On our best days we know that it’s probably more accurate to say that storm fronts make it easier for sadness and frustration to rain down while our sunshiny emotions retreat behind the clouds.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from having a dog in my life for a decade was that *every* day can be a good day for a walk. While some days were more pleasant than others of course, there were plenty of rainy and snowy days that still provided fresh air and a chance to stretch my legs.

Choosing the weather isn’t up to me, but how to dress for it *is* up to me; and we can always stash a flashy, funky umbrella in the glove compartment to help keep us a little bit drier and a little bit happier on an otherwise gloomy day.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #903: Opportunities Within Uncertainties.

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Ripples #903: Opportunities Within Uncertainties.
Sept 12, 2016

PEBBLE
Uncertainty is where things happen.
It is where the opportunities — for success, for happiness, for really living — are waiting.
-Martha Nussbaum, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better. I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory.
-Helen Keller, shared by Susan in Ashland, Oregon

PONDER
There are just so many times that we are afraid to step out into the unknown. The less certainty we have about what is going to happen, the more trepidation we are going to have. It might be useful to keep in mind that just as fear is a critical component of courage since you’re only being brave if you’re also scared, uncertainty is a necessary part of stepping into new realms of possibility. The only way to *accomplish* things we haven’t yet done is to *do* things we haven’t yet done.

That means scooting farther away from our comfort zone and spending more time in our challenge zone. Not so far that we’re terrified; just far enough for our knees to wobble just a tad. What could you do this week to wade into the pond of uncertainty? Splash around a bit, and maybe make some ripples, mkay?
Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #876: Becoming Quiet.

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Ripples #876: Becoming Quiet.
Mar 7, 2016

PEBBLE
The quieter you become,
the more you are able to hear.
-Rumi, shared by Isaac in Tampa, FL

BOULDER
There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and over-work. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of activists destroy the fruitfulness of their work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
-Thomas Merton (adapted slightly), shared by Renee, Green Bay, WI

PONDER

I concluded a while back that my work in this lifetime is about encouraging us all to more consistently bring our best selves to work, school and life. And let’s face it, it is *really* difficult to really show up for anything or anyone when we are depleted. Part of being human is recognizing our limitations and finding the time and courage to build in breaks: quiet time to rest the body, mind, & spirit.

I’m consistently surprised at how sprinkling in a few extra minutes of sleep and/or relaxation time into daily life can improve productivity in a way that more than makes up for the “lost time.” I also believe it can be valuable to keep sacred one day each week, or even a solid half day, where work and chores are put on hold for reflection and/or relaxation either by yourself or with loved ones. Beyond daily and weekly rest periods, most top performers I know require occasional extended retreats of solitude to reflect, recharge, and refocus.

If you have been struggling lately to bring your best self to any part of your life, I encourage you to start with a small break, even if it is just a few minutes with calm music and some deep breaths. Remind yourself that you’ll be more effective, more generous, and more enjoyable to be around. If you’re already getting that done, perhaps you can consider a more substantial break. It won’t necessarily be easy to make the time, but won’t it be worth it? Try and see.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I chose the theme for this week because I’m taking my own advice and going quiet for a bit. You’ll still receive these Monday splashes since I’ve queued up a few weeks worth of Ripples in advance. Additionally, I’m using technology and a few friends to make sure that my social media feeds continue to unleash ripples of compassion and kindness. I promise to return once I’m replenished, restored, refreshed!… Read More!

Ripples #873: Reducing Worry.

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Ripples #873: Reducing Worry.
Feb 15, 2016

PEBBLE
It is the trouble that never comes
that causes the loss of sleep.
-Chas. Austin Bates, shared by Matt in Appleton, WI

BOULDER
Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
-Arthur Somers Roche, shared by Donna in Naperville, IL

PONDER
Worrying is one of those things we all do a bit of, and its origins are quite noble: worry allows us to anticipate potential problems and to identify feasible solutions. If left unchecked, however, it can gradually and inadvertently shift from being a useful planning strategy and head towards becoming a significant drain on energy and creativity.

If you find yourself worrying more than a useful amount, try pausing for a moment to THANK yourself for having both a *concern* about an obstacle and also the *desire* to succeed. Quickly review the situation and see if there are reasonable actions you could take to prevent or resolve issues and make a plan to implement them. If you find yourself in an incessant loop of fear and caution, make it an opportunity to create a new habit of interrupting downward spirals with complementary thoughts: shift “Oh what if this awful thing happens,” into something like “Ooh, what if things turn out just fine….or even better than fine?”

Remember, it isn’t about eliminating worry completely. It’s about adjusting the volume and frequency so you can enjoy the benefits while minimizing your discomfort.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #865: Enoughness.

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Ripples #865: Enoughness.
Dec 21, 2015

PEBBLE
Be happy with what you have.
Be excited about what you want.
-Alan Cohen, shared by Melinda in Madison, WI

BOULDER
A life of enough is born in every moment–in the way we listen, the way we respond to the world, the way we see what is and tell the truth of who we are. Every single choice, every single moment, every change of course can bring us closer to a life of peace, contentment, authenticity, and easy sufficiency, a life of being, having, and doing enough.
-Wayne Muller, shared by Jane in Irvine, CA

PONDER
As many Ripplers prepare to gather with family and/or friends to celebrate Christmas, it’s good to recognize the unique mix of joy and anxiety that comes along with giving and receiving gifts. We want others who be surprised and delighted with what is under the tree as much as we want to enjoy the gifts we receive. And so along with visions of sugar-plums, we have plenty of worries swirling in our heads: Have we selected the right gifts? Did we buy enough? Will we get enough?

I’m guessing that most of us who are part of Team Ripples have very few unmet NEEDS when it comes to the essentials (food, shelter, clothing) and therefore have the good fortune of spending time and energy contemplating and acquiring our WANTS. It can be useful to gently remind ourselves and our loved ones that with all the social mediaing and marketing we’re exposed to, it is virtually impossible to satisfy our endless cravings for the shiniest objects, newest fashions, and latest gadgets. There’s just so much muchness out there to crave!

The good news is that we can maximize the magic of this time of year as we mindfully seek the right mix of savoring what we’ve already received and sharing our bounty with others: family, friends, neighbors and also those in need whose paths may not cross ours directly but are still a part of our world and deserve a place in our hearts. When we delight in our Enoughness, unwrapping presents becomes less about what’s inside the box and more about what’s inside our hearts (which, according to Grinchy legend, has the capacity to grow three sizes in one day!).

Enjoy your holiday, and enjoy your Enoughness!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #858: Swimming In Bliss.

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Ripples #858: Swimming In Bliss.
Nov 2, 2015

PEBBLE
Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss.
-Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, shared by Pete in Sedona, AZ

BOULDER

Adversity is a mirage. People, situations, and relationships sometimes change for the worst but inevitably clear a path for far better replacements. The continued journey will always find bliss.
―Carl Henegan, shared by Elaine in Little Rock, AR

PONDER
After I found these delicious quotes and decided to focus on the concept of bliss for this week’s issue of Ripples, I found myself poking around the interwebs looking for a helpful definition of the word. I kept running into the phrase, “perfect happiness” which doesn’t really sit well with me. I’m often squeamish about using the word “perfect” since flawlessness is usually out of reach, and in this phrase seems to suggests there are ideal forms of happiness that make other happinesses inadequate.

I decided to define bliss as divine joy, a sacred state of existence accessible just about any time to just about any person willing to passionately embrace and enjoy themselves and the world around them. It means that things don’t have to be going perfectly for you to experience this state; instead, bliss declines the invitation to judge things as Good or Bad. Everything and everyone are simply pieces of your cosmic puzzle, or drops in your vast ocean, helping you to find or make meaning.

It doesn’t mean you have to paint a smile on your face and force yourself to BE HAPPY all the time; it just means that you don’t have to wait for situations or people to change in order to enjoy today. You’re invited, whenever you want, to simply take a few deep breaths and experience the divine joy that is patiently waiting for you to visit.

I hope you’re able to find bliss today, and I hope you help someone around you find it, too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

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