Sunday, October 31, 2010


Last night, I experienced a Chakra tuning. It was part of the Chopra Center's 21-Day meditation challenge, Day 19.  It was the longest meditation of the series, and it was quite enjoyable.

I found this great illustration of the Chakra's online:

Each Chakra serves a different purpose and is represented by the color that it emits.

From Wikipedia:
Chakra (derived from the Sanskrit cakraṃ चक्रं ([ˈtʃəkrə̃]), pronounced [ˈtʃəkrə] in Hindi; Pali: chakka ॰हक्क, Tamil: Sakkeram, Chinese: 轮, Tibetan: འཁོར་ལོ་; khorlo) is a Sanskrit word that translates as "wheel" or "turning".[1]

  1. Muladhara (Sanskrit: मूलाधार, Mūlādhāra) Base or Root Chakra (ovaries/prostate)
  2. Swadhisthana (Sanskrit: स्वाधिष्ठान, Svādhiṣṭhāna) Sacral Chakra (last bone in spinal cord, the coccyx)
  3. Manipura (Sanskrit: मणिपूर, Maṇipūra) Solar Plexus Chakra (navel area)
  4. Anahata (Sanskrit: अनाहत, Anāhata) Heart Chakra (heart area)
  5. Vishuddha (Sanskrit: विशुद्ध, Viśuddha) Throat Chakra (throat and neck area)
  6. Ajna (Sanskrit: आज्ञा, Ājñā) Brow or Third Eye Chakra (pineal gland or third eye)
  7. Sahasrara (Sanskrit: सहस्रार, Sahasrāra) Crown Chakra (Top of the head; 'Soft spot' of a newborn)
Click here to visit the Wikipedia page on Chakras - it is quite informative and tells you what each one means and how each one can be cleared to help you heal.

I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did!

Debbie aka Sulilo


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thoughts, Desires and Actions

It's true that we control very little in our lives - but we can control how our thoughts, desires, and actions add up.  Together, these demonstrate integrity.

Tonight was Day 18 of the Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge.

Another blogger captured the basis of the meditation in this clear, simple visual:

It is all a cycle. If we want to change something - a pattern, a behavior, a situation - we start by intervening at the desire.

Ask yourself: "What do I *really* want? What is my dharma (my purpose in life?" During the meditation, davidji suggests that the process in finding this answer involves asking the Universe how you can use your unique gifts and talents to be of service to others and then to wait on the Universe to reply.  

Let the desire be planted in your heart, then take the right actions to lead you in that direction.

May you find your dharma.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What do I see in her?!?

Have you ever met or seen or heard of someone who led you to say, "Wow. I wish I were as graceful as her," or "I wish I had that kind of creativity" or, I really wish "I wish I were more like her"?

Last night was Day 16 of the Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge, and the topic was Archetypes.

This is a fun one that may have you pulling out the collage supplies or a journal.  

We were given a number of attributes and were asked to think of who comes to mind as someone we admire for that attribute. That person would then become our Archetype, or representative for that trait.

I'll give you an example.

Grace.  Let's say you want a little bit more Grace in your life.  Who comes to mind for you as someone who flows with this quality?  For me, it's Audrey Hepburn. 

Audrey Hepburn

We then meditated on this, imagining that some of that Audrey's graceful nature would rub off on us, and we would sense and have more of it in our lives. (And, don't worry - if there are other attributes that this person has that you do not particularly like, you are only drawing in that which you are attracted to and seeking. Just that one attribute.)

Next: Success

For me, the person who comes to mind is professional celebrity makeup artist, Kandee Johnson.  Kandee is a single Mom who started making makeup application tutorial videos on YouTube and has grown her audience to where she now travels the world teaching "Glaminars," her makeup seminar classes.  

I was lucky enough to attend 2 of them last year and meet her in person.  To see how far she's come - her journey has her doing MUCH more than makeup - and how many lives she's touched, it is incredibly inspiring. 

I really want to be successful and live my dreams just as Kandee has done (and continues to do, I hope).  It's about finding your talents and passions, getting creative, and sticking with it.

So, for me, Success is Kandee Johnson.

Kandee Johnson | Image courtesy of Ian Ruhter

I'll share one more (and I hope you'll feel led to share at least one of yours as a response comment!).

Emotional Stability.  The first person that came to mind for me was Oprah Winfrey. She simply mentions something that she likes and everyone runs out to get it. You know why? They trust her.  She's established herself over decades. She's as cool as a cucumber whether she's talking to an audience member or to the next president of the United States. Pretty much always cool, calm, collected, and professional.  I would love the opportunity to just have lunch with her and pick her brain. She truly amazes me.

So for me, Emotional Stability = Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah | Courtesy Harpo Inc.

May you have a fun time identifying and connecting with your Archetypes, and I hope you enjoyed peeking at mine. :)

Debbie aka Sulilo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Perfectly Imperfect

It's quite empowering when we realize and believe, even if for just a few moments here and there, that we can choose to lift our spirits and mood even if we've been feeling pretty funky or down.

I have become fed up with complaining and stressing about what isn't right - mostly incidents where things don't go as perfectly as I would have hoped.

As I reflect back on my day, I realize that I practiced the art of kindness as well as acceptance. I hadn't "planned" on having a day like this, but I'm sure glad it happened.

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. I've been a bit down lately and have been dealing with medical issues.  I could have easily beat myself up for sleeping in - telling myself I am lazy or some other negative self-talk. Instead, I looked to the foot of my bed and was delighted to find my kitten there, hanging out with me completely non-judgmentally.

"Oh well," I said to him, "Guess it's time to get on up now."

Time to make the bed. Or not.  Making it felt better than leaving it a swirly mess of blankets, so I began the task. When it didn't look perfect and kitty thought it would be fun to keep messing it up as I straightened it out, I walked away, pleased that it was done and happy that he was having fun. It didn't HAVE to be perfect. It's not like we were having guests or that anyone would complain or even care.

My perfectly imperfect bed-making this morning

I spent a few hours cleaning my house, slowly working from one room to the next. I wasn't sloppy about it.  I didn't rush through it like I usually do. I took my time and focused as I completed each task. Guess what? It still wasn't perfect.  No matter how many tasks I completed, I still came up with more that could be done. And, I decided to stop.  So many times we PUSH ourselves - not just with housework but with other things as well.  There will always be something MORE that we can do, but sometimes the best thing to do is appreciate the hard work you've done and then rest and take care of yourself.

My perfectly imperfect makeup

Before resolving to rest for the evening, I decided to bake a cake.  I have fun doing it, though I am certainly no master-mind at it. My cakes are usually a little bit lopsided and my frosting drippy.  But the recipients of them (I just started making them last month) appreciate it so much. I do it to see the light on their face and to feel the light in my heart. Both are good reasons. :)

My perfectly imperfect cake baking today

There's another reason that baking cakes feels like good therapy. Here's a favorite quote that sums it up nicely:

“Do you know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure – and I mean nothing – you can come home, and absolutely know, that when you add egg yolks to chocolate, and sugar and milk, it will get thick – it’s such a comfort.” 

- Amy Adams as Julie in Julie & Julia

May you seek out and find those things that bring you joy and happiness, even momentarily. May you choose to focus on what you can do to improve your mood, even if you can't do much about your present circumstances. May you allow yourself moments of peace and contentment.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Recommended reading:

Julie & Julia

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 15 | A little more time

Day 15 of the meditation challenge.  I didn't feel too well today, but I've been looking forward to my meditation session all day long.

Tonight davidji got us onto a mantra and then "watched the time" for us as we meditated for a full ten minutes.  My mind drifted a lot, but that's what minds do.

Very subduing and relaxing all over - both body and mind.  It was also soothing to hear the reminder that tens of thousands of others are also engaging on this challenge journey.

Have you begun yours?  Do you have a regular meditation or other practice that helps you stay grounded and connected?

Debbie aka Sulilo

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 14 | Asking "Who Am I?"

If you have not yet signed up for the Chopra Center's FREE 21-day Meditation Challenge, here is that link again. If you are very busy (or not) and know that you need to start taking some time out of your day to connect with and find peace, you may want to give this a try.  If you do, let me know how you like it. :)

Tonight was Day 14 for me. The mantra tonight was "Who am I?"  davidji guided us through a series of what we are not: our titles at work, our hair color, our preferences. We are something deeper than beyond our physiology and mind. 

He says that we are the quiet observer who witnesses our own thinking.  I've read similar things in Eckhart Tolle's book "A New Earth," - a book I deeply connected with a few years ago.

In it, Eckhart recounts how he hit rock bottom emotionally before awakening spiritually. One evening, he was so depressed and anxious that he contemplated suicide. He caught himself saying aloud, "I want to kill myself."  He found it peculiar that two parts seemed to be involved: The "I" and the "myself" that the "I" could no longer tolerate.

It really is a good read, and perhaps I should revisit it at this stage in my healing process.

Who am I? Who are You?  The answer goes beyond anything on the surface or any simplistic answer, doesn't it?

Recommended Reading:

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Oprah's Book Club, Selection 61)

Debbie aka Sulilo

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 13 | Forgiveness

Day 13 of the Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. The topic: Forgiveness.  davidji discusses how when we forgive, we break the ties to those who have hurt us.  He goes on to say that in order to forgive others, we must forgive ourselves.

How many of us walk around with, consciously or unconsciously, self-contempt or a feeling that we are somehow not "good enough"?   In this meditation, we are given the opportunity to connect to what may very well be at the root of this - a lack of forgiveness of ourselves for something that we have been holding on to for a long time. Something for which we have harbored guilt.  Something that we wish we did or didn't say or did or didn't do.

Sound familiar? Or, perhaps you know someone who is in a constant state of shame with regrets over the past.

Allowing ourselves the space to feel whatever comes up around these issues and offering up the space and opportunity for forgiveness can really jump start the healing process.

Toward the end of the meditation, we were to repeat silently to ourselves the mantra, "I forgive myself for _________." I filled in my blank, and after a few moments of repeating it, I noticed something odd - a warm smile emerging on my face.

Was I nuts? Smiling over this? davidji's voice soon returned as he announced that right about now, you should have a smile on your face. You've lifted a weight and released a thread that was holding you back.  Too funny.  It did really feel like a release, though I personally feel like I have a long way to go.

There were some situations in my past that caused so much pain that I have found it very difficult to TRULY forgive. On the surface I have, but inside the destructive side-effects of resentment, anger, and lack of forgiveness have taken their toll in the form of post traumatic stress.

Soooo many people go through this and may not even be aware that this is what is happening.

If we let go...if we truly accept the past and find a way to forgive those who have hurt us, can we really heal?  I'd like to find out.  I know that not forgiving and staying "stuck" sure hasn't helped much.

I am so thankful for these meditations and truly hope that after the 21 days I am able to stay in the habit of practicing. Not only does doing so create a little bit of stress reduction, but it also offers opportunities for self-growth and healing.

May you find your quiet moments. May you be able to forgive yourself and eventually others - truly, wholeheartedly, and completely. May you be FREED from the holds that have bound you for so long. May you accept that the past is the past and that now is now.  May you know that you have a choice to live a life full of hope and joy in the now.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 12 | The Masks We Wear

Halloween is just around the corner, so what better time to talk about masks?

I vividly remember a scene from the movie "The Mask," starring Jim Carey and Cameron Diaz. Jim Carey's character, Stanley Ipkiss,seeks help from an expert when he comes across a mask that transforms him into an entirely different person.

We later hear the professional say, "We all wear masks - metaphorically speaking." 

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and the Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge is eerily in tempo with my own personal journey and experiences.

Tonight, Day 12, davidji discussed how exhausting it can be when the ego takes over and we wear a different mask at home, a different mask at work, another with our family, another with good friends...

Now, it is good common sense to acknowledge and honor social norms and etiquette, i.e., you probably wouldn't be as candid and open with your new love interest's family as you would with your sister (though maybe that would come over time).

But what if all of this mask wearing caused you to feel inauthentic and as if you don't know who YOU really are? What if you feel like you've created a life where you wear a different mask everywhere you go in order to become a chameleon and a people pleaser?

As a survival skill, having been a child who grew up in a very abusive home environment, I learned at an early age to read people and then adjust my behavior and thoughts to what I thought would please them. This was especially true when I was with my father.  I never knew if it was 'happy-go-lucky' Daddy who was coming home or the nightmare on wheels. Unfortunately, it was all too often the latter.  I learned how to behave by walking on eggshells and living in fear.

It was only recently that I began to 'wake up' to the realization that I've carried this behavior into adulthood, and I am now in the place of wanting to truly connect with who I really am at the core.  

I am asking, 'Who am I?'  

I desperately want to live authentically but am not clear what that means. Who am I?  This weekend I am going to work on an art project that allows me to explore this more in depth. This is going to be a major process.  But a worthwhile one, I am sure.

May you know yourself, and may you know peace.  May the pieces of you that are real, whole, healthy, and true reveal themselves to you as you discover who you really are.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 11 | Letting Go (I couldn't)

Tonight was the midway point in the Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. Day 11. Ten days have passed, and ten days will follow.

This evening, the practice really did feel like a "challenge." I came home moody, antsy, and the last thing I could imagine myself doing was staying still and releasing stress.

I decided that it would be good practice to keep the commitment and really had no question in my mind that no matter HOW I felt, I was doing the meditation.

The resistance came with me. I felt tense. I noticed my shoulders creeping up and a feeling of annoyance - a feeling of wanting it to be over with.

I have so far been enjoying my meditation practice, so it was clear to me that whatever was going on had nothing to do with not wanting to meditate but everything to do with my state of mind and state of being.  There are often times when we don't feel like doing things. And, sometimes just because of this, we don't do them.

I wanted the opportunity to practice keeping a commitment even when feeling incredibly anxious by the thought of following through. And so I did.

Ironically, tonight's meditation was focused on "letting go," and "becoming light."  I did not feel very capable of letting go this evening. My mind wandered from thought to thought.  My muscles were tense.  I was thinking about today and worrying about the near future.

But I stayed put.  I resisted the urge to get up and turn off the meditation and go on about my grumpy way. And, it felt good.  It's sort of like not feeling like exercising. If you can just get yourself to the gym - even if you don't give your workout a full 100% effort, you still end up feeling a sense of accomplishment that you pushed yourself, showed up, and tried.

That's how I felt tonight, and meditation (and yoga) do for the mind and spirit what cardio does for the body. :)

If you find yourself resisting meditation, ask yourself why.  Some reasons I had were:

  • Not in the mood
  • It's cold in the house (so I don't want to sit still)
  • I didn't think I'd have the mental energy to write about it afterward - also part of the commitment I'd made to myself
  • I thought I'd be disappointed in myself for it not going "right" due to my mood
What I learned:

  • You can follow through on something no matter what your mood is
  • If you have a problem (i.e., you're cold), you can either stay miserable (cold) or solve your problem (grab a blanket; feel warm)
  • A commitment is a commitment. Again, regardless of how you feel, you can follow through. Clearly I've had no trouble writing about the experience (once I got going!)
  • I am learning that there is no "right" way in meditation. I can't work to achieve anything in the world of meditation. It's completely opposite of what we are taught in other aspects of our lives. 
Accepting where we are in that moment and letting whatever needs to come up come up, including streaming thoughts - that's all a part of the meditation experience.

So, if you are avoiding doing something that is good for you, take a look at why. Challenge yourself, and do that which will serve your highest good. You'll thank yourself afterward. :0)

Debbie aka Sulilo

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 10 | Be Gentle With Yourself

Tonight's meditation, Day 10 in the Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge, was all about the question "Who am I?" I think we all end up thinking this at some point in our lives on a serious level. Who am I? Why am I here?

I found this particular meditation to be quite timely. Though I am most often a sharer of joy and optimism and a cheerleader for the hurting, I have personally been going through a roller coaster of emotions with an unanticipated bout of depression and anxiety that comes and goes through out the day. My current state is not completely without explanation, but it is unpleasant nonetheless. The refuge I take in this experience is that I am alive and able to feel at such a deep level, which has brought some deeper inspiration from a different perspective. I think that at least some of this energy can be positively channeled through my writing.

No matter how sad we may feel at any given time, if we are still breathing, we have hope. It can be so difficult to see and remember other instances where we've persevered through difficulties to enjoy life to the fullest again when we are caught up in the darkness of depression or the overwhelm of anxiety.

I used to be afraid of depression. I'd experienced it in the past and worried that it would destroy me. Depression is serious and it is very important that we reach out to others for help and support (which I have done), but if we look at if from the perspective of experiencing incredibly deep and dark emotions that we would otherwise never encounter, we can appreciate what this experience means. Not that we want it. Not that we'd like it. Not that we'd wish it on our very worst enemy. Not that we'd ask for it. Not that we'd hope for it.

But if it has come, what might happen if we embrace it for a moment? Even asking that made me feel awkward inside. How do we "embrace" depression? Why would we want to? Shouldn't we run as far away from it as quickly as we possibly can? Shouldn't we deny it and fake it 'til we make it? Plaster on a smile and go about business as usual, fooling everyone but ourselves?

None of the latter has worked for me - so perhaps investigating the source of the depression - be it current life circumstances...old wounds that have been re-opened by some trigger...a chemical imbalance...something altogether different...or all of the above...and observing it without judgment as much as possible might be the answer.

What if we tap into the truth about who we really are through meditation and allow these things to reveal themselves in their own time? Most of us (including me at this time in my life) cannot afford the luxury of a sabbatical where we go on a trip and "discover ourselves" like Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of "Eat, Pray, Love" was so blessed to do.

But perhaps we can take a mini-break. I hope and pray that this opportunity avails itself to you should you need it. Let the Universe know that you are open and ready and willing to pass through this storm in order to connect with the parts of you that you are forgetting - the eternal, love-filled self that has always been and always will be.

The few lucid moments that I have when I am able to tap into this truth, my problems seem much smaller. In proportion to eternity, a bout with depression seems like something more tolerable and very temporary. That's not to minimize it. That's not to say it doesn't suck worse than anything else we can imagine. It also doesn't mean that acknowledging this will be the "cure-all" that releases you and sets you immediately on to a happier path (I speak from current experience).

But, it does take some of the edge off. It does make me think that there is SOME purpose to this current suffering. That somehow, if I deal with whatever has rocked my world, my mind, my body, my spirit, my internal chemistry, I may find healing and a more genuine happiness than the one I pretended to have for others' sakes for so long.

Perhaps I will feel freer. Perhaps.

Day 10 of 21. The journey continues.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 9 | The Sweet Sounds of Nature

I felt a little bit apprehensive when I found out that today's meditation, like last night's, was in video format rather than just audio.

Video meditations tend to make me feel a bit antsy. Even though we are given the option of keeping our eyes open or closing them, I find this irresistible urge to keep them open - not wanting to miss anything. Sort of like a child who resists taking a nap because they are afraid they'll miss out on something fun.

In my day-to-day life, I tend to very much be a visual learner.  You can tell me the same thing over and over, but if you show me what you are explaining - an actual sample, or a diagram, just something visual - I will get it.

Perhaps the antsy-ness that arises during the visual meditation is due to my mind doing what it naturally does when the eyes are open - analyzing and gathering information...interpreting it.  

I kept my eyes open during most of this meditation, primarily out of curiosity. It takes place at a lagoon in Carlsbad, California, a place that the Chopra Center refers to as "the sweet spot of the Universe."  It is indeed beautiful. I passed through Carlsbad and spent the night there while on a trip with my sister to the San Diego area.  

I'd felt drawn to that place at times, ever since, not knowing much about it.  Perhaps it is the Sweet Spot of the Universe that beckons us to it for deep meditation and prayer (thought this can be done anywhere).  

In any event, on the video this evening, I watched plants sway in the gentle breeze, clouds against an aqua blue sky, and waters gently flowing.  Due to the high quality of the recording and a good set of stereo speakers, it was possible to feel, for those few seconds where I actually closed my eyes, that I was outside at the lagoon.  With all of the various bird species singing, talking, and squawking away, in some moments, it felt like I was in a bird atrium.  

So whether you meditate better with your eyes closed or with them open, I'd recommend giving 10 minutes of your time to YOU to make your life feel slightly less stressed.  Since the Chopra Center published this video to YouTube, I can share it with you here.

I truly hope you enjoy.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 8 | The Salty Smell of Ocean Air

I find it interesting that tonight's meditation (video below so that you may experience it, too), was on ocean waves.

The video was shot in Carlsbad, a beautiful town on the coast in Southern California, not too far from San Diego.

I could literally smell the ocean breeze during this experience. It takes some suggestibility and a quite an imagination to have such a vivid sensory experience during meditation.  I really enjoyed how realistic it made the experience.  I felt, for those few moments, as if I were looking down at the ocean waves from one of the rocky cliffs overlooking the great expanse of water.

This particular meditation is somewhat of a personification of my present state of being.  I've been riding waves of emotion, sometimes crashing, and sometimes flowing naturally and smoothly.

As I participated in this meditation, I noticed that there were moments when I was paying full attention to the waves - their size, the color of the ocean, the spray emitted by their crashes, the imagined smell...and there were other times when my mind drifted off and my muscles became tense. I was thinking about things that have recently happened or worrying about upcoming events - both real and imagined.

Rather than try to force myself back into the present moment, I first acknowledged that the state I was in - one of anxiety and apprehension, was my reality at the moment. I didn't try to run away from it. I didn't fall into shame.

I noticed how, no matter whether I paid attention or fell into fearful thinking, the ocean kept doing it's thing.  It came in. It went out. Ebbs and flows.  The heartbeat of the earth...waves...

We carry on too, even in those times of ups and downs.  We make it through even the difficult waves that we experience.  Life is intelligent and supports us - it's quite easy to see this after observing the ocean, even for just a few moments.

I hope you enjoy.

(Watch in full-screen for the best experience.)

Debbie aka Sulilo

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 7 | Tapping into Happiness

Random things that make me happy:

cozy rainy days in a cafe or Ramen house with my best friend
(did that today)
We went to a yummy Ramen house
in the
Silicon Valley

a nice latte and pumpkin spice muffin with my partner
(did that yesterday)

I need to watch my sugar intake,
so I shared
the muffin and had
a plain latte. This pic is from
a while back. :)

visiting a spiritual place

This is part of a really neat
spiritual bookstore and meditation center.

using the new vegan soap I discovered at Trader             Joe's(oatmeal and honey - pure sensory bliss!)

I cannot even tell you how delicious
this smells and what a mood elevator
experience it was to use this
in the shower this evening!

remembering that we are all part of a grander purpose

engaging in my new commitment to meditate

Meditation teacher, davidji

Tonight was night 7 of the Chopra Center's 21-Day meditation challenge - a free online program that is positively affecting tens of thousands of souls on this planet, including mine.

The guiding voice, David G., whose name is actually davidji as I learned today, led us through an experience that expands self-acceptance and awareness.  There was some discussion on releasing expectations, the need to be "doing" or achieving something, and releasing judgment, knowing that the path of meditation has very different "rules" than does the demanding success-driven world we often see and experience on a day-to-day basis around us. It was refreshing.

We were also encouraged to start a journal in which we log what changes we are noticing in our lives, both within and outside of our meditation practice.  For me, this blog is a part of that journaling process.

May you find peace in even just a millisecond of your meditation experience.  May you feel relief as you release any expectations on what SHOULD be happening and as you start enjoying what IS happening.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 6 | Celebrate Your Toes! - Focusing on the Positive

Tonight's meditation had a great effect on me - it made me laugh. It also served to helped me tap into gratitude and to take the focus off of the negative and onto the positive things in my life.

David G. gently urged us to not focus on the one or two things that may keep us answering "Fine" in a monotone voice when asked, "How are you?", but to focus on the things for which we are grateful - to celebrate what is going right in our lives.

The meditation started with a body scan that involved celebrating our toes. I'll leave it at that so that you can enjoy it firsthand, if you'd like.

By the end of the meditation, I ended up feeling very grateful for the support that the Universe always provides - we just have to acknowledge it and send out our thanks and gratitude.

May you find more positives than negatives in your life, and may you be in such a place that the next time you are asked "How are you?", you can genuinely respond, "I am wonderful."

Debbie aka Sulilo

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 5 | Attention

Tonight's theme was interesting. It was about how our own personal experiences and perspectives affect our experiences.  An example was given that you and a friend are walking down the street. 

Imagine that you grew up in a household that had lots of dogs, and you are walking with a friend who was bitten by a dog. A pit bull comes along with its owner, salivating, wagging its tail, and showing its teeth. How much do you imagine your experience with this dog will differ from that of your friend's? 

The dog isn't inherently good or bad; it's our experience that colors our interpretation. Remember as I remind myself: A thought is just a thought.  Its helpful to step back and look at things for what they are, without assigning them judgment..."good/bad."  Just letting things Be...

Debbie aka Sulilo

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 4 | Mantras

Today, what should have been an otherwise routine medical test resulted in a day long emergency room visit where I was poked and prodded and tested. At some point, I may share a glimpse into what is going on, but for now, I feel its more appropriate to share with you the experiences that lifted me up on this very difficult day.

1.) The staff at the hospital were amazing. They genuinely cared and helped me through this ordeal. A lady from the lab came to visit me - twice - while I was in the E.R. She emitted so much compassion that I was overwhelmed in a positive way
2.) I was able to come to grips with the fact that I need West to meet East in terms of some medical issues I am dealing with (thank you Moira)
3.) I was reminded that people do care about me, and even if you can only count your real friends on one hand, you are still doing so, so well (Serena, Nereida)
4.) A woman in the room next to mine heard me crying and didn't want me to be alone. She came in the room and prayed with me. It was so touching.
5.) People showed up - on Facebook (so many of you) and by phone (thank you Cathy & Mary). It made me feel so much less alone and helped ease the anxiety I was experiencing.

Tonight when I got home, as exhausted as I felt, I wanted to stay as much in my routine as possible, so I continued on with the Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge, Day 4 and my related blog. 

Tonight it was about Mantras.  David G. discussed the meaning of the word and then had us focus on a specific manifestation mantra using the breath as a vehicle. He did a lot more talking than usual, but it felt nice to lay back and receive a spiritual lesson. His voice is so gentle, soothing, and almost hypnotic. My cat enjoyed it too. :)

While googling "mantra," this Feng Shui Mantra Bed
came up. I thought the image was too beautiful not to share.

May you know that you are never alone. May we all remember this, and may we all remember that in one way or another, we are all connected. 

We all seek happiness, and we deserve it too. If something is holding you back... If you have been feeling down, PLEASE reach out to someone - a friend, family member, clergy, even your doctor. Get the support you need to get you feeling TRUE happiness again. YOU DESERVE IT!

In love, light, hope, and peace...

Debbie aka Sulilo

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 3 | We are NOT our Thoughts

"I am *NOT* my thoughts. I am not my fears. I am love and can trust Life to support me!"

Today was my 3rd night into the Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge, and the focus was on thoughts.  Through no other teaching had I ever been led to feel so perfectly human for having SO many thoughts. In fact, David G., the guiding voice for the meditation, said that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts per day!!

The first thought that occurred to me after hearing this was "wow," and then "compassion" - not only for myself, but compassion for all human beings. We evidently have a LOT on our minds!

Day 3's meditation was a bit like the game where someone gives you a word and you respond by saying as many related words as you can. Except, David G. presented us with word and then asked us to allow ourselves to think as many thoughts as we possibly could about the word. And, this was the meditation. Unconventional? Sure. Eye opening? Yes.

It was very interesting, and once again it was quite a surprise when David G. disclosed the length of time that was actually spent on the assignment. If you decide to give it a try, you'll likely know what I mean by this.

May you feel less burdened by the fact that you have so many thoughts. May you take comfort in knowing that everyone does...that we can choose our thoughts...and that we are NOT our thoughts.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 2 | Following the breath

Today at work I was out in the field with my boss in San Francisco.  I was so excited to be in the city on an unusually HOT day - it was close to 90 degrees, truly unheard of in SanFran - and I wanted to share some of those moments with you...the moments that led up to Day 2 of my experience with the Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation challenge.

Although I was there to write and take photos, I had to wear a hard hat at a construction site. Do I look thrilled?

 I passed through the colorful Castro district.

I waited for my boss in a very cute little neighborhood called Noe Valley. I want to visit there again when I have time to explore.

I passed so many art schools and wondered how cool it must be to be creative in the way of design - to go to school in the city and study art.   I admired artsy, well-dressed people and met with a young woman who is an architect. It was all so inspiring.

I wondered what it must be like to have the potential to fly but to be held back from being able to do be put on display for others to admire, but to not enjoy your own potential. Yes, those are real birds.

Sat in San Francisco traffic.

Didn't eat enough during the day - ended up having some massive shakes which led to gulping down some orange juice and an all natural bar. Felt better.

Mind you, these were all little moments in a very busy, near 10 hour day out in the field. I got a lot accomplished work-wise and found an even higher level of respect for my boss after seeing how hard he works out there.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted.  I sat on the kitchen floor with my cat, eyes closed, reconnecting with the moment and very much looking forward to entering the sanctuary of quiet meditation.

Today was Day 2.  The focus was on following the breath. Frankly, when I've been under stress in the past and have tried to do breath-focused meditations, I have gotten freaked out by the awareness of my breath, realizing that it was shallow or very rapid or that I was holding it.  Those thoughts came up, and I let them melt away. 

I allowed myself to move from a very Buddha like posture to more of a supported Savasana on my yoga mat and just followed the breath.  By the time the guider's voice began to gently wrap up the meditation, I realized that I was very much into it and quite relaxed.

I think I could really get used to this daily self-care time.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge | Day 1| I am my strongest desire...

Do you ever find yourself in desperate need of some "nothingness" time? Some time when you are free from expectations, both others and your own?

Do you find that most of your time is spent expending energy caring for others or performing tasks that just need to get done?

Perhaps, like me, you find this situation to be familiar.  Perhaps you've been searching (or hoping) for a way to find some balance - a way to take care of YOU without any guilt trips, whether real or imagined.

Perhaps you've also noticed that you don't have a ton of time in the day to make this possible with all of the other responsibilities that you have taken in your life.

I'll tell you what: You can find about 15 minutes a day to do something that will help you find balance on all levels.

I've decided to do this by way of the free online Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. I really don't remember how I stumbled upon it. I was probably googling "Guided Meditation Videos" at the time and happened to land upon this precious jewel of a program. Did I mention that it's free?!

From what I understand, you get on the email list, and when the new round of 21 days begins, you get your first email. For me, today was Day 1.

I was delightfully surprised by how completely relaxed and wonderful I could feel in just 12 minutes.  In fact, it felt far longer than that (in a good way), so when the guider announced how long the session had been, I was wowed. I was also touched by the some words that he said. He asked us to reflect for a moment on our deepest desires.  Mine are to be truly happy and content.

About a moment later, he said that whatever our deepest desire may be, that is what we ARE. I acknowledged that I am that that I desire - I am happiness and contentment. It was then that I decided that I would share this journey with you here.

Perhaps you'll be inspired to participate. Perhaps you'll even share your thoughts along the way in the form of a comment under my posts.  Maybe you just want to witness another human being's journey on this path before you decide to embark on it.  Whatever has led you here and has you still reading, I am glad. Hopefully you'll hang out with me long after the 21 days. :)

Evidently, each day will be a different type of meditation, and the hope is that you will find one you like and stick with it after the 21 days of guided practice. This particular session that I practiced tonight was a mindfulness meditation - probably the best type to start with, especially if you are an absolute beginner with meditation.

The guider's soft and comforting voice guided all of my senses into noticing what was happening in the present moment. Any time my mind drifted, I was instructed to become aware of what I heard, smelled, tasted or what my body felt, and this, so easily yet miraculously brought me into the present.  

And my mind did drift, indeed.

Some of the things I recall thinking about:

My friend who had a medical procedure today
Another friend with whom I emailed with today
Another friend who had just made a funny comment on one of my facebook posts
How I would like to ice the cake that was cooling down in the kitchen
What might happen at work tomorrow
And many other thoughts...


My intention in sharing that list with you is to encourage you.  Most people avoid meditation because they think that they have to somehow turn their mind off in order to have had a "successful" meditation session. Newsflash = your mind will keep thinking thoughts. That's its job.  You are not supposed to stop it.  Let it do its thing, and over time, you will become more disciplined and less bothered by it. 

At least, that's what I'm told, and that's what I am looking forward to.

May you step on this journey with an open heart and open mind.  May you find all that you are looking for, one step at a time.

Debbie aka Sulilo