30 Days, 30 Ways to Be Your Best

Here are 30 ways you can practice implementing the Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best into your daily life:

Day 1: Begin by reading some thoughts on how to implement the Fourth Agreement.

Day 2: Start by talking to yourself better.

Day 3: Practice the art of having enough.

Day 4: Always doing your best takes practice, so practice a little every day.

Aristotle Quote

Day 5: Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is believing you’re worthy of the trip.  ― Glenn Beck, The Christmas Sweater


Day 6: You’re at your best when you are not comparing yourself to others.

Day 7: It doesn’t take anything complex to be happy, but it does take a commitment to be loving.

Day 8: Stop competing with someone else’s standards for living.

Authentic Self

Day 9: “Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

Day 10: We are at our best when we are in the service of others.  Up to 10,000 are said to have died in Tacloban city, due to Super Typhoon Haiyan, and hundreds elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands are displaced. The storm is now heading for Vietnam.

Be of service. Please make a donation to the Philippines Red Cross to help provide clean water, food, shelter and aid to the region.  If your curious about the conversion – $1USD=~43 Philippine Pesos. 

Better Person

Day 11: This is the only way you can be all you can be……

Day 12: Employ frequent and often use of the Best. Mantra. Ever!  Svaha!  Originally used in Vedic ritual to make oblations to the sacred fire, svaha is loosely translated as “an offering”, “to offer it up to the Universe”, or “so be it”.

You do what you can as an offering to the Universe, and then let things happen as they may.  We do our best when we try, not when/if we get the outcome we expect, demand, or hope to get….sometimes that isn’t the outcome the Universe had in mind for you anyway.

Day 13: Let it go and MOVE ON.

Plot Twist

Day 14: Dare we all make this prayer to live every moment of every day – good or bad?  “Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Dangerous (4th Agreement)Day 15: You only have NOW to give to this moment, this person, and to you.  We often use the phrase, “Someday, I’ll….”, or “When I’m retired, I’ll…..”, or even “I don’t have the money or the time to do…..”.  All the while you are missing NOW – get out there and DO what you came here to do!

Day 16: We often overcommit to others to gain their acceptance, yet under deliver because we aren’t honest about the amount of time or energy we truly have to give to a person, a project, a cause.  Practice the Power of NO more often.  Quantity may go down, but quality will increase ten-fold, and you will feel much more effective in  your relationships.

Day 17: These are great reminders for how to practice being your best.

Reiki Principles (4th Agreement)

Day 18: Part of being your best means you learn from all of the ways that you were not your best.  You make the effort to understand what the ramifications were to yourself and others when negative events occurred.  People mistake the idea of not living in the past as somehow to mean that you forget the past altogether.  We don’t forget the past, but do learn from it and we forgive ourselves and others for it.  If you want remember why it is important to be a better person, go see 12 Years of a Slave….it will make you want to be better, to others and to yourself – it is a reminder of a history that we never want to repeat, but need to forgive one another and heal from.


Day 19: What story about your past, or the things done in the past, fits you best – one of anger, or one of redemption?

Day 20: Learn that “failure” is all a matter of perception.

Day 21: Let go of the incessant need to be perfect.

perfectionism quote

Day 22: Remember ”Three things in human life are important.   The first is to be kind.   The second is to be kind.   And the third is to be kind.” —Henry James

Day 23: Just Stop.

Day 24: We spend too much time dwelling on mistakes.  Rather than beating yourself up, over and over and over, learn the lesson, forgive yourself, and MOVE ON already.

love yourself

Day 25: It’s time to challenge your self-defeating beliefs.  When the negative thoughts arise, ask yourself, “Is this true?  Is this necessary?  What would my best friend say?” Then, you can begin to reframe your thinking to become more compassionate, more kind, and more productive.

who holds you back

Day 26: You will be tested time and time again until you get the message the Universe intends to send you.  Be open to receiving it.

Paulo Coelho Quote

Day 27: “…Use it every way you can.”

Day 28:  Today and everyday, practice gratitude.  A good way to go about it is to write down 5 things you are thankful for at the end of each day.

Day 29: Sometimes we focus so much on what we want to do when we grow up that we forget who want to BE and how we want to feel.  Focus your energy how you want to feel about yourself in the days ahead and what kind of friend you want to be both to yourself and others….what you want to do will blossom from there.

Day 30: Be good to yourself

Agreement 4 always-do-your-best_1x

30 Days, 30 Ways to Practice the Third Agreement

Take 30-Days to challenge yourself to practice the third agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions – you’ll be surprised how often you do!  😉

Day 1: We often make assumptions when interacting with others as to what they are thinking, feeling, wanting, etc. by what they either say or do and how they act, etc.  This can lead to unnecessary distress and suffering since we also tend to forget the second agreement while making these assumptions: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

Agreement #3: Don’t Make Assumptions

Day 2: Lesson from a recent conversation thread:

Friend 1: Yes, buttmunch, just watch me struggle to load 55lbs of dog food into my cart and don’t offer to help.

Friend 2: Didn’t the generation (maybe 2) before you burn some bras and shit so that you could lift that bag of dog food  yourself?   BTW, even though I might let you struggle with a 55lb bag of dog food, I’d at least be holding the door open for you.

Friend 1: I’m not saying I’d accept your help. I mean I clearly did it and then loaded it into my car by myself but I think the offer should exist.

Friend 2: Sooooo…… you’re one of THOSE people. Hmmm…. and you wonder why #chilvaryisdead?

Friend 1: I wanted it then. My shirt was kinda delicate.

Me: I’m confused….if you weren’t going to accept the help, why are you upset that it wasn’t offered?? Explain lady…

Lesson:  This woman is all upset about why some guy didn’t offer to help her load dog food into her cart – help she didn’t want anyway.  What she failed to think about was, what if the guy had just recently had surgery?  Or what if had just gone through chemo?  What if he had just been in a car accident earlier that week and was still recovering from whiplash?  We don’t know why he didn’t help her, so here is a good rule to follow:

A.) ASK for help when you need it.  Do not assume people should just offer it.
B.)  ACCEPT help when it is given to you, because it shows that you have a   certain amount of grace (and class)

Day 3: I attended a rally, a couple of weeks ago, for those continuing to seek justice in the unnecessary death of Trayvon Martin.  People were encouraged to sign up to speak and had 45-seconds to say what was on their mind about the acquittal of Zimmerman.  The only rule was “no hate speech, keep it productive.”  Many of the people that spoke, you would expect to see up on stage at a rally like that – political activists, community leaders, mothers, fathers, young people about Trayvon’s age.

Then a white man, approximately in his late 40s stepped up to the microphone.  He looked like life hadn’t always been kind to him, wore slightly tattered clothes and was missing several teeth.  He wasn’t used to speaking in public and words were hard to find, but his overall sentiment was that of sadness that a young man went to the store, to get a snack, in a neighborhood he aspired to live in, and never made it home – due to senseless violence.

After listening to him, I realized that I was surprised by what he said because I had already prejudged him based on his appearance…..I had assumed (and profiled) him as a redneck bigot, when nothing was further from the truth.  I do so much work to let go of judgment and was ashamed to see that it still exists, even in my own thoughts, about people of my own race….it caused me great concern then about what judgments I still harbor towards others and how easy it is to assume we know someone simply based on how they look.

Day 4: “You should never assume. You know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of you and me because that’s how it’s spelled.” ― Ellen DeGeneres

Day 5: Keep it Simple

Day 6: Do you ever feel rejected because of social media?  If we allow ourselves to make assumptions as to why someone is/isn’t interacting with us, it can hurt quite a bit.

“When we feel rejected because we assume someone’s inaction is sending us a clear ‘message’—we’re wrong! That person is not trying to send us a message at all. In fact, we tend to read far more into such omissions than we should….although there are a thousand ways to feel rejected on social media, nine hundred and ninety of them are probably not personal. Assuming the worst in these situations will not only cause you unnecessary hurt, it can make you reach incorrect conclusions about your friendships and assume problems exist where they do not. The most important thing to remember about social media interactions is that you lack huge amounts of information about what might be going on for the other person. So give people the benefit of the doubt, and if you’re worried about the relationship, send the person a “hello, what’s new?” text or email. Chances are their response will reassure you that all is indeed well between you.”  Read the entire article

Day 7: Many times, when we believe negative things that others say about us, two agreements are broken – “Don’t Take Anything Personally” and “Don’t Make Assumptions”.

Day 8: There have been at least 20-30 times I have rode in the car with S where he makes a left turn on red from a two-way street to a one-way street.  Every time he does this, I yell at him that it’s illegal and really needs to stop doing it.  All he ever says to me is, “Okay,” yet he keeps on doing it.  Finally, I decided I would do some research so that I could show him the law that states explicitly you cannot make a left hand turn on red from a two-way street onto a oneway street.  And you know what?!  It turns out, S is right!  While there are only a handful of states that actually allow this, Florida is one of them.  When I came to him with my admission of error, he said, “yea, I wondered how long it would take you to Google it.”

Lesson: Don’t rely on your own information as absolute and don’t assume all States laws are created equal – some are more asinine than others.

Day 9: “Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.” – Buddha

Day 10: Don’t assume the stories you tell yourself are correct. “All of the fear, the worry, the story was created by me….all of the assumptions were my own….all of the anxiety was self-inflicted.

Day 11: How many do you still hang onto?

Day 12: “Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” –Henry Winkler

Day 13:  Let go of fear.

Day 14: Good advice to help break the cycle of our assumptions

Day 15: “The greatest progress in life is when you know your limitations, and then you have the courage to drop them.” –Yogi Bhajan


Day 16: Don’t expect anyone to read your mind.

Day 17: “Euclid taught me without assumptions, there is no proof.  Therefore, in any argument examine the assumptions.” –E.T. Bell

Day 18: Stop the drama.

Day 19: “Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you are correct, and you can see at once how this can lead to terrible trouble. For instance, one morning you might wake up and make the assumption that your bed was in the same place that it always was, even though you would have no real evidence that this was so. But when you got out of your bed, you might discover that it had floated out to sea, and now you would be in terrible trouble all because of the incorrect assumption that you’d made. You can see that it is better not to make too many assumptions, particularly in the morning.” Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

Day 20: Use these Three Little Words.

Day 21:  Racial profiling is based on a list of assumptions made simply based on the color of one’s skin, the clothes that they wear, and the way that they walk.  By doing this, law enforcement officers quickly assess whether or not they believe you are a threat.  Unfortunately, this causes many people to be the target of unnecessary harassment due to false judgments.  George Zimmerman did this to Trayvon Martin and he made the gravest of errors in doing so.  Let this be the constant reminder to us all why we must never profile people simply based on how they look.<

Day 22: Another good rule to follow – drop your baggage.


Day 23: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, and let the light in.” ― Isaac Asimov

Day 24: 

Day 25: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Day 26: Try doing once what you tell yourself you “cannot” do, and you will break that assumption too!

Day 27: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” –Henry David Thoreau  

Think about how much time and energy you waste on your assumptions.  Then decide if you have better ways to invest your time.

Day 28: Always do your own research into any thought, belief, or story (internal or external) before you blindly follow it as truth.  Often times, our thoughts are false statements driven by a negative belief that we have carried on for far too long.  Yet, under cross examination, crumbles because there is no truthful foundation for which is was built upon, just something we were “told” and therefore, thought “it must be true.”  You are scientists, studying your mind and your life, examine the data, test theories, experiment, and then draw conclusions based on evidence, NOT assumptions.

Day 29: Agreement #3 Follow Up

Day 30: Make this your new mantra! 


30 Days, 30 Ways to Practice the Second Agreement

The second agreement is by far the most challenging, I think.  Practicing it for 30 Days was the best way to make it a habit.  Here are some tips, inspirations, or motivators to stay on track…..

Day 1: Read the recap of the beginning of my practice two years ago….Don’t Take Anything Personally

Day 2: Remember…..”A negative look from someone else may mean nothing more than they’re constipated!”  – Daniel Amen

Day 3: We often forget that Karma means action – action comes from thought.  If you want to act differently, then you must think differently.  Instead of taking something personally, think about the other person who is saying these insults about you….what their life must be like?  And then we can act from a place of compassion, rather than anger, towards them.

Day 4: If choose to take something personally, just remember – The only folks you ever need to get even with are the ones who are good to you.

Day 5: When you take things personally, you allow people to poison you with their negative thinking.

Day 6: Here’s a nice little reminder from George Takei

Here’s a little Internet tip: If you feel offended by something someone else posts, remember two simple rules:

(1) It’s not about you.
(2) If you try to make it about you, you’ll sound ridiculous.

–Uncle George

Day 7: Don’t give other people permission to degrade you.

Day 8: At least half of the items on this list of things we think about too often can be dealt with by implementing the second agreement.  Which ones do you think they are?

Day 9: “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally…..Nothing other people do is because of you, it is because of themselves.” –Don Miguel Ruiz

Day 10: Do No Harm, but Take No Shit

Day 11: Rather than feel affronted by someone who is rude, just realize why they behave that way.

Day 12: As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force.  I decided to follow the latter course.” — Martin Luther King Jr. (This is probably one of my favorite quotes of all time!)

We can allow what others say to poison our spirits, or we can choose to focus on our own goodness.

Day 13: Often times we fear the idea of being “alone” because we have been made to believe that it is a sign of personal failure to make people like us.  When you stop taking things personally, you can focus on liking yourself enough to enjoy hanging out by yourself – ALONE – because it leaves you feeling better than if you had conformed to someone else’s expectations just to get them to like you.

Day 14: Too often we chastise ourselves for having any wounds, but they leave so many beautiful scars – the scar of compassion, the scar of empathy, the scar of understanding, the scar of faith, and the scar of finding love for oneself again. Remember this, as you start to untangle yourself from old agreements that caused you suffering, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” — Rumi  

Day 15: Sometimes, we keep friendships that are not healthy for us simply because we worry about how the other person will feel more than how dysfunctional the friendship is.  Instead of worrying about taking care of another person’s feelings, you first have to worry about whether or not the friendship is healthy for you.  

Day 16: “Just as being truly compassionate doesn’t mean always being sweet and nice (sometimes it means being cold, harsh), being truly honest doesn’t mean speaking your thoughts and feelings as they arise. Other awarenesses and intention must be at work—and a recognition that the truth is not solid.”  – Susan Piver Browne, from “Right Speech”

Day 17: This meme is a two way street. Remember that the next time you take something personally – it is the other person’s choice to behave the way that they are behaving and it is none of your business why they made that choice. Instead focus on the choices you have – you can choose to take it personally and stay inside the circle of their personal misery, or you can move forward and take care of yourself. Your sweetness of mind is your business – invest in it, cultivate it, nurture it, and it will grow and give you plenty of reward.

Day 18: Taking things personally means you are making an effort to conform to another person’s ideal way of being. 

“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” — Rita Mae Brown

Day 19: When you stop taking what others say or do so personally, you begin to live your life on your terms, rather than at their mercy.

Day 20:  If you take things personally, a break-up can be devastating.  I know from experience that you feel as though you will not survive the heartache.  After I allowed someone to have that much power over my sweetness of mind, and I was left a shattered mess, I decided it was time to make a serious change in how I approached relationships.  The second agreement is one of the new agreements I had to make if I hoped to regain my sense of self. 

Day 21: Unburden yourself from trying to please everyone.  By not taking things personally, you are free to succeed at being your true, authentic self.

Day 22: “Whatever you believe you will experience.” –author unknown.  If we believe what others say about us is true, especially if it is negative, we will begin to experience these opinions as our own personal truth.  To change your experience, you must change your beliefs.  In order to change your beliefs, you must change your thoughts.  Practice this everyday!  

Day 23: When you stop taking things personally, you stop participating in another person’s personal drama.  

Day 24:  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Day 25:  Your damned if you do and damned if you don’t, so do what you want and don’t do what others want you to do. 

Day 26:  You’ll be a lot better off when you can stop taking things personally.  

Day 27: Not taking things personally also means that you don’t involve yourself in business that does not concern you.

Day 28:  “People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” ~Joseph F. Newton (psssst….we build up walls when we take things personally…)

Day 29:  As I walked through the challenge of implementing the Second Agreement a couple of years ago, here is what I learned: Agreement #2 Follow Up

Day 30: In short…..

30 Days, 30 Ways to Be Impeccable With Your Word

For 30-Days, we focus our attention on how to implement the First of the Four Agreements.

Day 1: Read the Blog Post on The First Agreement

Day 2: Be aware of your same old reactions….

Day 3:“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” ― C.G. Jung

Day 4: Skip the Gossip…..

Day 5: Just say NO to magazines!  This morning at the airport, a nice airline employee was offering people magazines to read while we waited for our flight.  She asked me if I would like to read a juicy gossip magazine.  My reply was “no” and she seemed shocked by this.  Honestly, I didn’t want to read it.  I have better things to do and so do you, especially if you want to clear the negativity out of the messages you are constantly bombarded with on a daily basis.  Reading gossip magazines is some of the worst information you can consume.  They only offer endless ways to judge others and feel bad about ourselves – put them down and pick up a good book instead.

Day 6: T.H.I.N.K.!

Day 7: A Quote by Alan Alda

Day 8: Yesterday, as I was leaving to go to an event, I saw a couple walking across the street from my building.  The woman was pushing a bicycle and the man was walking, sullenly, a couple of feet behind her.  Normally, I would probably not have noticed them walking there, other than to note two people were walking on the sidewalk.  But, this couple grabbed my attention because the woman was screaming in such a vile and hateful way to the man that it caused my heart to wrench in my chest.  She openly berated him in public, and he willingly accepted this treatment.

Now, I have no idea what events led up this argument and I am not going to make any assumptions as to who is at fault or who is to blame, but it brought back memories of a past time in my life when people I loved spoke this way to one another and it saddened me deeply.  No one deserves to be spoken to in such a manner, because nothing productive comes of it.  Even if you are hurt, even if the person has deeply wounded you in some way, by using words in such a hateful way, you are affecting your own state of being in a negative way.
If your emotions have gone racing off into the wild, it may be worth considering a time out and allow them to roam free for awhile before you choose to continue the cycle of hurt and pain between two people.  If you can’t speak to someone without an intensely negative reaction, consider allowing yourself space away from that person until you have given yourself the appropriate time to heal.  Sometimes, that takes a lifetime….or more….but the more time you spend in a toxic situation or around toxic people, the deeper effect it will have on your own sweetness of mind.

Do you really want to be around someone who pushes around a bicycle and screams at people they claim to love in public?  Do you want to be the person who is being yelled at by a crazy woman pushing a bicycle around in public?


Best to work on being impeccable with your words my friends…….

Day 9: To challenge yourself to be impeccable with your words, what’s one constructive thing you would say about the person you least like?

Day 10: “It’s not the existence of beliefs that’s the problem, but what happens to us when we hold them rigidly, without examining them, when we presume the absolute centrality of our views and become disdainful of others.” – Sharon Salzberg (“Faith”, p. 63)

Day 11: What’s something nice you would say about your boss?

Day 12: Quote by Heather O’Hara

Day 13: What does “sin” mean to you?

Day 14: Sin means doing something to intentionally harm yourself.  It isn’t about what any religion deems as moral, it is about what you do to damage your sweetness of mind.  When you speak badly about yourself, or drink too much alcohol, or eat too much food, you generally don’t feel well (mentally and/or physically).  This is sin – it is simple and it isn’t about trying make you guilty so that I can control your behavior.  Being free of sin – being impeccable – means you upgrade your choices to speak better about yourself (and others) and choose better food and less to drink so that you feel more alive (physically and/or mentally).  This is impeccability.

Day 15: Self-Defeating beliefs are the agreements that we have made with ourselves that we are often not even aware of, but are full of negativity and cause us to be vulnerable to painful mood swings as well as conflicts in personal relationships.  This is an attitude that is built into your personal value system and can be the root cause of our negative thinking.  Start to bring awareness and observance to some of these common self-defeating beliefs:

  • Perfectionism (comes in many forms):  Emotional – “I should always feel happy…” “ I should not feel angry, anxious, vulnerable, jealous, etc……”;
  • Performance – “I must never fail..or make a mistake.”; Perceived – “People will not love me if I am flawed”
  • Fear of rejection (or disapproval):  “I need approval to be worthwhile.”; “If I am not loved, then I am not valuable”
  • Fear of failure: (this was the most challenging one for me, until I failed and lived to realize that failure is not the end of the world)  “My value as a person is dependent on my achievements (intelligence, status, looks, etc.)”
  • Fear of Being Alone: “If I am ‘alone’, then I will be sad and unfulfilled.”
    Conflictphobia:  “People who love each other shouldn’t fight…”
  • Entitlement: “People should behave/speak/act the way I expect them to be” (also known as Narcissism)

Which one of these most accurately reflects your self-defeating beliefs?

Day 16: You are not trying to be a martyr, or beat yourself up by recognizing these old agreements, the old words we use that cause us pain and suffering.  Through this practice, you are trying to remove sin against yourself.  More importantly, you are practicing how to love yourself through this process.  Knowing your self-defeating beliefs gives you the opportunity to revise them into something more suitable for cultivating your sweetness of mind.

Day 17: Remember to speak kindly to your inner child as well….

Day 18: This is one of my favorite articles ever written!  It is an example of the kind of effect that the impeccability with words can have on our state of being:

Day 19: Start to Untwist Your Thinking….it’s time to catch yourself in those moments of criticism and judgement and examine the evidence.  Instead of assuming the thought is true, check for actual evidence that supports the thought.  Maybe do a Cost-Benefit Analysis to list out the advantages and disadvantages of a negative thought, or self-defeating belief, or destructive behavior pattern.  Then, as you would speak to a child, or your dearest friend, substitute language that is less emotionally charged and more compassionate and accepting of your faults and imperfections.

Day 20: If you knew the person standing in front of you was going to die tomorrow, how would you speak to them?  If that person was you, how would you speak to yourself?  This is how we should always approach our interactions with one another – as delicate beings who are deserving of love and compassion.

Day 21: Increase your capacity for empathy.

Day 22: How often do you commit to things and not follow through?

Day 23: “If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” –Pinocchio This includes telling it to yourself (and whilst making commitments….)

Day 24: Do you have friends who make commitments and rarely follow through?  Once or twice is understandable, but how often do you allow this to happen without saying something?

Day 25: So, I didn’t pick this image in association with the open letter I have written to yoga teachers.  I actually had it selected a week or so prior, as I was planning the rest of the posts for the 30-day challenge, but of course the Universe will always reflect back what the thinker thinks into it…..

PS – here is my Open Letter To Yoga Teachers

Day 26: This about putting your “words” into action today……or rather not using words at all……. “The first duty of love is to listen.” – Paul Tillich

Day 27:  From a recent article in Psychology Today: “What is the single biggest determinant of your happiness? Not wealth, fame, beauty, or power, but how others—particularly those closest to you—treat you. When people close to you are nice to you, you can’t help but feel happy; when they mistreat you or avoid you, you are bound to be unhappy.”

As the courts weigh in on the right to marry whomever you choose, maybe they could bear in mind that treating others with equality will uplift their state of being.  Their duty is protect EVERYONE’S constitutional right to pursue happiness….let them be impeccable with their words/actions for all of us.

Day 28: I just think these are some really beautiful words….

Day 29: The Follow Up

Day 30: It’s that simple…..

30 Days, 30 Mantras

This 30-day challenge was inspired by a dear friend.  30 Days to reconnect with your meditation practice!  Time to get your butt on your cushion!  Mantra is a Sanskrit word that means “manas” or “mind” and “tra” or “train” or “harness”. By repeating a mantra over and over during meditation, you are using it as a tool to clear out the racing thoughts and train the mind to focus on one thought. One could conclude then you must choose your thoughts wisely, so mantra is not meant to be something that we want or are looking to acquire or attain, but rather a thought that welcomes kindness, compassion, or a sense of peace.  One mantra a day comin’ your way peeps.

Day 1: Breathe In to nurture, breathe out to nurture.  Until recently, I had this habit of thinking about meditation like a time-out – where I had been “bad” and needed to go sit in the corner until I could behave better.  Due to the negative association, I would inevitably avoid sitting for any length of time to just “be”.  Over time, I have worked slowly to reframe this thought to be more positive.  For me, meditation is still a time-out, but it is time that I take out of my day to take care of my sweetness of mind.  The time that I invest in nurturing more space between thoughts, with fewer racing thoughts, gives me the chance to be more kind towards myself and, in turn, more compassionate towards others.  Biologically, the cycle is the same.  We take in oxygen to sustain us on the inhale, and other beings on the exhale with carbon monoxide.  We nurture ourselves so that we are able to nurture others.

Day 2: May I be peaceful in my thoughts, words and actions.  I found this mantra especially appropriate today after I had visions of kicking the girl next to meet last night for announcing to the entire café, I was sitting in, “Nicki Minaj is the best singer in the whole world!”  Obviously, I still have work to do in the “non-judgment of others” department as well.

Day 3: Breath in loving kindness for me, breathe out loving kindness for you.  Of course, each one of these has a story….this one started today at the airport. I hate the airport. Mostly because I hate going through security. It is the most inefficient use of anyone’s time, in my opinion. When time on this earth is finite, the last thing I want to be doing is standing in line at security walking through a line of people with my barefeet because of the stupid rule that must expose us all to gawd knows what type of foot fungi! So, I stood there, transfixed in my frustration, and decided it was better to meditate and this is what came up.

Day 4: I love you.  If you are anything like me, you grew up with a negative core belief.  It doesn’t matter when or how this belief started, but it is at the root of all of our negative thinking.  One of my negative beliefs is a fear of abandonment.  This fear has caused me to remain in unhealthy relationships with friends and lovers during my life, simply because I thought I would never find someone that was reliable.  Guess what?  I am reliable – and I have been here the whole time!  But, I forget that I must take care of myself and treat myself in a loving manner so as to show others that is how I expect to be treated.  The little girl inside me desperately wants to be told she is loved, so every day, I tell her.  It is a simple mantra that we often forget to repeat to ourselves, but longingly need to hear. 

Day 5: So Ham (pronounced “So-hum”).  This mantra never fails to bring me back into my meditation whenever I get lost in thought.  The reason being is that it is the oldest mantra ever uttered.  As you inhale, you will hear the gentle sound of “so”, as you exhale listen for the sound of “hum”.  It is the mantra of our breath, the mantra that we were given at birth, and the mantra we repeat every moment of our lives.  It will never fail to be there for you when you need it. 

Day 6: Breathe in space, breathe out space.  Much of our time in meditation is spent “doing nothing”. The idea being to create more space between our thoughts, giving us more space from the suffering that they inflict. With more space in my mind and less repetitive or negative thinking, I give myself the opportunity to focus on and create moments of joy.

Day 7: Let Go.(Seems simple enough, but have you actually done it lately?) The true nature of love is not based on advantageous response, but on the sheer openness of one heart to another. Until we let go of our past hurts, we cannot be fully open to the present moment or to the love that awaits us from ourselves or from another human being. Letting go of old hurts is what frees you from your negative thinking and from withholding your love from yourself or another. 
Day 8: May I be clear in all thoughts, words and actions.  When we want something (or someone) so badly that we attach our self-worth to getting that something (or someone), then we insert an obstacle to gaining freedom, happiness and contentment.  The more obstacles (attachments) we put in our way, the harder this freedom is to come by.  Obstacles are known as samskaras in the yoga tradition – they are “grooves” of habitual thinking and habitual action (karma) that become deeply embedded in our cognitive behavior and guide us to making the choices we do.  If I am to be happy and free, then I must first work to clear these obstacles and habits that have prevented me from being content with what is.

Day 9:You have no power over me.  Some of you may recognize this line from the movie, Labyrinth.  The line is spoken by Jennifer Connelly’s character, Sarah, at the exact moment when she finally realizes that David Bowie’s character, King Jareth, cannot rule over her without her consent.  Through the entire movie, she believes that she must do as he wishes because he is “king”.  What she comes to realize is that she must first give him that power, without her consent he can do nothing.  The same holds true of our thoughts.  They come and go through our mind, asking for us to pay attention.  Some even go so far as to have us believe that they are in charge, and we have “no choice” but think or believe what they say.  By giving those thoughts our attention, we create a chemical chain reaction in the body that can sometimes result in a rather unpleasant physical and/or emotional experience – we feel ourselves spiraling out of control and usually react by trying to numb the thinking through alcohol, drugs, shopping, eating, etc.  Through meditation we learn to confront those thoughts, ask if they are indeed true, and make a choice to not react to the thought.  When my mind is spinning out of control, I have found this simple mantra can immediately bring me down off the ledge and to tell the thought (which is usually something fear-based) that it no longer has power.  At that moment, the spinning stops, my breath evens out, and then mind returns to a steadier, balanced state.

Day 10: This moment is precious.  Each moment passes so quickly and we rarely notice the unique quality of each one.  Being aware that each one will soon end helps gives us the ability to pay closer attention to the one that we are in, right NOW.  As Pema Chodron says, in her book “Start Where You Are”, treat each one like it will be a memory and watch how many more moments you begin to notice in your life!

Day 11:  This, too, shall pass.  Piggy-backing on yesterday’s mantra, is the notion that even though every moment is precious, every moment will pass.  Sometimes, we think that the pain we may be enduring in the present moment will last for a lifetime (and it will, if you decide to cling to it), but when I find that I am giving up hope, I remember this ancient proverb.  It is a reminder that all things good or bad, are impermanent.  No matter what awful thing is happening right now, the storm will break, it will pass, and the sun will rise.  Instead of looking for ways to numb out the pain (with alcohol, drugs, TV, etc.), we just need to remember that the pain will not last and, even though right now is not as great as we want it to be, the moment will pass and we will make it to the other side.

Day 12: Lokah Samistha Sukino Bhavantu.  (low-kaw som-iss-staw soo-key-no baw-vawn-to) May all beings be happy and free, and may I in some way contribute to the happiness and freedom of others.

Day 13: It’s good to see you, old friend.  I have a tendency to berate myself when I can’t do everything perfectly.  I found myself falling into that thought pattern this morning during my yoga practice and decided to choose a different thought.  Normally, in half pigeon I instantly have the reaction of being upset with my left hip for being “too tight”.  Instead this morning, I found this mantra and observed, as I repeated it, a different physical reaction from my body.  Our bodies will respond to the stories we tell it and what stories we hold onto.  This is the mind-body connection – if you tell yourself you are suffering, then indeed you will experience a physical state of suffering mirroring the mental state.  If you want to feel better, you must treat yourself better.

Day 14: Promote Life.  I learned this early on from one of my first yoga teachers….always ask yourself if your intentions, your thoughts, or your actions are promoting life or taking away from it.  Judging others takes away from your own life, being angry at yourself takes away from your own life, resentment takes away from your own life.  Equanimity, however, promotes life.  Joy promotes life.  Love promotes life.  It’s time we upgraded our choices.

Day 15: Breathe In. Breathe Out.  Watching your breath is probably the most common way to begin a meditation practice.  It sounds simple, yet it is incredibly challenging to really focus in on one whole breath in and out without thinking about anything else.  Yet, that is exactly what it means to be present for each moment.  You are to focus in on that moment and not think about anything else other than that.  So, we start training the brain with simple tasks like focusing on breath before we jump into more challenging tasks like not ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future.  As Jon Kabat Zinn says, when you forget, just stop, stop where you are, and simply start again.  Now, Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Day 16: May I be non-harming in all thoughts, words and actions. Once you have mastered the ability to focus entirely on the breath during meditation, challenge yourself to be non-harming in your thoughts during meditation.  It is the concept in yoga known as ahimsa.  It is what Gandhi has devoted his entire life’s work to.  It is so far from where I am, but it is what I keep practicing every day. 

Day 17: There is beauty in the world.  If you have ever suffered through depression, then it can be a challenge to see where there is beauty left in the world.  We get overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness, dismay, sadness, and emptiness.  When your world is filled with so much darkness it is hard to remember that there is an equal balance of light and the news we read on a constant basis reaffirms our general state of negativity towards the world.  After travelling much of last year, it helped to pull me out of my state of depression and helped me to see that there is indeed beauty left in this world.  I found it in the places I went, the people I met, the food I ate, and the time I spent getting to know myself again.  Meditation is an opportunity to get to know yourself and reconnect with the beauty within, so that you can see the beauty that awaits you out here as well.

Day 18: Santosha(san-toe-shuh).  What I love about Sanskrit is that name=form, so when you speak the word, the vibrational quality of that word immediately invokes a feeling.  Santosha means contentment, but if you chant it aloud a few times, you don’t need me to tell you what it means, because your body, your mind resonate in a more calm state by doing so.  Santosha is probably my most favorite of all of the yogic precepts.  When we are content with what is, rather than hoping for what might be or wishing for what was, we are freer to enjoy every facet of our present reality.  The interesting thing is that contentment is most certainly not the same as complacency and while we may be okay with the present moment, it does not mean that we turn a blind eye to the suffering of ourselves or others.  It means standing in the center of the storm and having faith that you will traverse safely through because who you are in the right now is just fine. 
Day 19: May I have Sweetness of Mind.  In the yoga sutras, this is described as chitta prasadanam, or rather a “blessed mind”.  The full sutra translates roughly to this: “To preserve your blessed mind, toward those who are happy, be happy.  To those who are virtuous, be delighted.  Toward those who are wicked, be indifferent.”  I prefer “sweetness of mind”.  It reminds me that no matter what is going on in someone else’s life, I don’t have to let that disrupt my own state of being and it also reminds me that I don’t have to live in a state of delusion that life is always rainbows and unicorns.  What it does tell me is that a non-judgmental state of being is best achieved when I work on cleaning up my own backyard of thoughts, rather than worrying or comparing my “stuff” to someone else’s.     

Day 20: Life reflects back what the thinker thinks into it. On a smaller scale, your physical body generally reflects the state of your mental health.  Through all of our various thoughts, perceptions, causes and conditions, we create our own world.  When your thoughts and perceptions are negative, you tend to create causes and conditions in your life that are equally dark.  Generally, when we can focus on the more positive attributes of life with our thoughts and perceptions, then the world seems a little brighter.  Think of Eeyore and Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.  Eeyore is quite a melancholy fellow who struggles with pointing out anything good about life and his character is visually portrayed to his outlook.  He is can be found with his head down, walking around with sullen posture.  Tigger, on the other hand, is ridiculously positive.  He is generally excited about whatever he is doing and he bounces (literally) around with glee most of the day.  If I approach the day like Eeyore, then I struggle with my posture and my breath – they are heavier and my actions tend to be slower and lack zeal.  If I approach the day more like Tigger, then I find I can breathe a little easier, I have more energy to complete tasks and I sit/stand a little taller.  We all have a little bit of Eeyore and Tigger in each of us, so it takes practice to generate a more balanced state of mind.  This is what meditation does for us, gives us the opportunity to create thoughts and perceptions that allow us to form causes and conditions that are focused more on joy and gratitude and less on suffering and disparagement. 

Day 21: May I be kind in all thoughts, words and actions. I am an honest person – sometimes it is best for me to remember that even though what I say is truthful, it may not always be kind.  It isn’t always necessary to say what is on your mind when you know that it will not uplift the vibration of the room.  Some things are just better left unsaid, and certainly challenge me to think of how to speak the truth in ways that are more compassionate towards those around me.

Day 22: Do NOTHING.  About a year or so ago, I had the honor of meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.  He is a gentle soul with a bit of a rambunctious sense of humor – childlike in his ways.  His approach to meditation is simple.  All he asked was that for __ number of minutes each day, you set aside time to do nothing, want nothing, and be nothing.  When my mind starts to ponder through the various tasks I need to accomplish for the day, this mantra is an excellent reminder that, at least for now, I am doing nothing and the tasks, the worries, the judgments can all wait.

Day 23:  Count to Ten.  While this isn’t an actual mantra that you repeat, you can repeatedly count to 10, or 100 if you like, but count out your number of breaths. It is an old tried and true way to calm your sympathetic nervous system (your fight or flight response), but taking a “time-out” and counting to 10.  If I forget where I am in my meditation practice and my mind starts to race uncontrollably, then counting to 10 usually helps me calm the worry and return to my practice at hand.

Day 24: The Ocean refuses no River.  This is the beginning of an ancient Sufi chant that has always served as a reminder to me that no matter how “good”, or how “bad”, we are, or our day was, that the ocean of life does not refuse any of us.  We are all given the chance to live, in many different ways, places and under a variety of circumstances.  In the end, we all return to the same place no matter how well we did, or did not, live our lives.  The same holds true for everyone else.  No matter your race, your sex, your economic status your religious beliefs, your political views, or who you love, you are valuable.  We are all valuable in some way, but judgments sometimes get in the way of seeing that in ourselves and in others.  I see so many people lately are so venomous, angry and frustrated, especially during this political season – we all want people to agree with us, to validate our beliefs –we might be more tolerant of the differences between us if we all were to remember that, no matter what, the ocean refuses no river.

Day 25: Thoughts move in, thoughts move out.  A lot of people are mistaken that meditation is designed to cease all thinking.  Really the purpose is to give you more focused thinking.  If you try to focus on each thought, as it arises, you end up feeling scattered or anxious.  The more you can allow thoughts to pass in and out of your mind, as the breath passes in and out of your body, the less reaction you will have to them.  It gives you some time, then, to choose which thoughts you will react upon and which thoughts are really unnecessary clutter.  Once you are able to find that space in your thoughts, you begin to realize how few of them you actually need to identify with because they just cause drama.  But, they will continue to move into your mind.  Whether you decide to give them attention or not will determine how quickly they move out.

Day 26: Ishvara Pranidana (ish-varuh prawn-ee-dawn-uh).  One of my yoga teachers once said that if you can master this concept, there will be nothing else you need in order to attain sweetness of mind.  The problem is that our own egos often get in the way of achieving the goal of complete surrender.  The translation is often seen as “complete surrender (or total devotion) to God”.  This means that every action, and the fruits of every action, are done with devotion for the Divine.  This is how Mother Teresa lived her life.  Every act was done for the greater purpose and with a sense of faith.  Whether or not you believe in some sort of Divine Higher Power (like God), we all understand the concept of faith.  Faith means acceptance that we don’t have control over the outcome, but that the outcome will be okay, however things turn out.  Or rather that we will choose to be okay with the outcome.  We trust that the universe will provide for us all that we need, and we trust in others that they will take care of us when we need them to.

Day 27: May I express loving-kindness through all thoughts, words and actions.

Day 28: Ride the wave.  Anyone who has ever surfed understands why it is important to “ride the wave”.  If you aren’t on top of it, then you’re probably underneath it.  When you are under a wave, you get pummeled to the bottom of the ocean floor.  The harder you fight against the current, the more tired you will become.  If you are to survive, you must focus on the direction of the current and move with it, rather than against it.  It is human nature to fight back when our lives are threatened.  Unfortunately, the mind cannot distinguish between an actual threat and a perceived threat.  It reacts in the same manner and sends out the same hormonal response for a perceived threat as an actual threat.  For many of us, our fears are perceived threats and not actual threats.  We struggle with our fears and fight to maintain control, much the way that we struggle to get back on top of the wave.  We end of feeling exhausted.  Instead, try to become the observer as fears arise, notice how your body reacts, how your mind reacts, not as the judge jury and executioner, but as the surfer – you are looking for the movement of the current and you will ride it out, rather than letting it wash over you.

Day 29: May I be wise with all thoughts, words and actions. 

Day 30: Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Watching the koi fish move about the pond at the zoo this week made me think how much this mirrors the way that thoughts move through the mind.  Some are bright in color, some dark and obscure, but all are fish.  At times, they dart about quickly, other times they swim slowly along, or pause for a moment to float just below the surface.  I observed them for quite some time, moving as a group, as a few, or alone.  I didn’t fixate on any in particular, but allowed each one to swim freely into my vision and out as it pleased.  The 20 minutes I sat there passed with great ease and I felt centered and calm as I left to go home.  It occurred to me that this is much the way we are to observe the mind during meditation.  We are to allow the thoughts to rise and fall from consciousness without fixating, or attaching to any one, and without trying to avoid others.  They are all free to move about in the mind, light and dark.  None are better or more important than another, but all are thoughts.  It is the attachment, or the aversion, that we have to those thoughts that give them power to rule over our emotional and physical state of being.  Although the work is tenuous, when I let go of my attachments, and I acknowledge my aversions, I feel better, calmer and less anxious or fearful.  I am at peace, peace, perfect peace.