Dec 5, 2013 / 5:00 am
The first time I viewed Kate Bush’s video “The Sensual World”, it struck a chord with me (check it out on YouTube). We have five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, sound – but how many do we fully experience daily? Are you immersed in the joy of all you can touch, the flavours of what you eat, the subtle scents perforating the air, the sights around you, and what you hear? Life is a sensual adventure, if you choose to dance it that way.
Touch seems to be out of vogue, unless you’re a touch pad or phone. In our germ-phobic culture, hand shaking is almost cringed upon. Personally, fist bumping or sneezing into my elbow is not my thing. I learned how to wash my hands when I was three and we have immune systems for a reason. But seriously, if you hug at least one person a day, you’re likely to destroy any virus due to the warmth and intimacy a hug brings to your sense of well-being. Violence permeates our media, culture, and entertainment. Everyone could use a good hug.
Hiking the trails in the Okanagan offers an opportunity to listen to nature. People who are sensitive to constant noise surrounding us can take a vacation by noticing what they hear when it is quiet. Once I’ve shut off the incessant noise pollution in my head, I listen to the breeze rustling leaves, birds singing, the silence of no vehicle or electronics buzzing, and the satisfying crunch of dead leaves underfoot. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Alternatively, marinating in the hustle and bustle of city lights and shoppers is another feast for the senses.
The December holiday season is deliciously sensation-filled, and an ideal time to awaken your senses:
- Inhale the scent of a citrusy mandarin orange, a minty fudge candy, or a fresh swag of pine – personal favourites that offset my Boston Terrier gassing us out of the living area.
- Brew a decadent hot chocolate with Irish Cream or Kahlua, topped with a generous dose of real whipped cream, sit back and watch the snowflakes swirl like you did when you were little and had all day to daydream.
- Put on headphones and enjoy a Christmas symphony or old school Christmas songs (Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis are good choices) and let the crooning take you back to Christmas memories of yesterday; hopefully not that time the Christmas tree fell over immediately after you placed the last decoration. Yeah, it happened.
- Go for an evening walk to see your neighbourhood Christmas lights and listen to the crunch of fresh snow underfoot, along with the silence of the night. Or choose another area if yours is filled with large, muffler-less trucks continually roaring by.
- Visit a skating rink and watch adorable toddlers learn to skate for the first time. Remember fondly that first time your skate pick caught on the ice and you had your very first bloody nose from the ensuing face-plant.
- Indulge in Eggnog and Gingerbread – guiltlessly and joyfully, like the little girl I saw in a coffee shop recently, out on a date with her Dad. The glee on her face when her hot drink piled high with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle arrived was priceless.
- Meditate on the lights of the Christmas tree. Forget about the Christmas to-do list until next year.
- Have a meaningful conversation with a homeless person who asks you for change. Instead of avoiding eye contact and rushing by, look them in the eye and smile. Fulfil the need of someone who is simply looking for a little bit of warmth over the holidays. Ah, there’s that heart you forgot you had, Grinchy!
- Bring friends over to share dinner, drinks, and a night of laughter – avoid any discussions involving work or politics as this is sure to put everyone to sleep.
- Hold hands and give hugs away. Every day. Whether they want it or not.
- Gather friends or family to tour a new neighbourhood and sing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs. Have a competition for worst caroler. Feel good for a change for losing.
- Snuggle in front of a crackling fireplace and absorb the heat. The Yule log on cable will also do in a pinch. Big screen TVs really give off the heat, and all the stoking is left up to TV guy.
- Share your favourite Christmas stories with loved ones. Marvel over how differently your brother remembers the snowball fight where you pelted him in the head and made him cry. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down.
- Wrap up in the warmest, softest, thickest blanket you have and simply stare at the tree or candlelight. Fall into a deep nap like the bears do because hibernation is actually a pretty brilliant concept when it’s freezing outside.
When you practice focusing your attention on what sensation you’re experiencing in the moment, it enriches your world. Our senses can generate long forgotten memories, extraordinary creativity, and deep inner satisfaction. Feel, inhale, listen, taste, really look at your surroundings – feels good! Have a Merry one!
Nov 3, 2013 / 5:00 am
Sometimes, there is nothing like saying you are done with something (or someone). Sometimes, it feels good to quit. There are times when the only way to feel better is to indulge in something decadent. And sometimes, the only way to get your good vibes back is to do something you probably should not.
I don’t recommend robbing a bank, murdering your boss, or shipping a ‘problem’ child off to Antarctica so they’ll really have something to cry about! Going to jail is a whole other level of wicked. There does comes a time, however, when nothing else will do but a big box of chocolate truffles, paired with a large glass (or three) of your favourite red wine to wash it all down. There comes that cold, dismal, snowy day when nothing will heal your soul more completely than bundling under a pile of blankets with an all-day marathon of Breaking Bad, joyfully scarfing every kind of comfort food you can get your sticky hands on.
There comes a day when the best thing you can do to achieve peace of mind is throw away that goal you’ve been unsuccessfully striving for the last five to ten years, and just serenely accept it’s not going to happen. There comes a day when you confidently look your spouse or best friend in the eye and tell them the truth instead of giving a sugar-coated version that doesn’t really help them anyway. “No, I don’t want to try skydiving with you” or “No, those jeans do not flatter your butt”. Find your wickedly authentic voice.
Doing what other people consider bad, pointless, or just plain wrong may be the only action that will bring you closer to a better sense of who you are and what you truly need. Alternatively, instead of settling for ‘reality’, maybe you need to give yourself a virtual smack upside the head, get your act together, and go after your dreams, no matter how unbelievably difficult the road ahead may seem. Time to feel those fears and do it anyway! Or instead of keeping silent when an annoying co-worker spews sexist comments, maybe it’s time to tell them their words are completely inappropriate and they need to stop.
Maybe a month off from the killer term paper, killer work project, killer marathon training program, will save your life – because maybe it’s actually killing your mental stamina, or your joints. Why not sit and watch the world go by for a change? Something amazing might happen – you might actually feel good doing nothing! Why not sit in the bathtub when no one is home and sob your unwept tears until they stop? You might feel a holy release from the tension that’s been plaguing your body for decades. Perhaps it’s time to tell someone to take a hike and too bad if they don’t like it – if your sanity depends on it. Or maybe it’s time for that Harley ride your father told you never to take, just for fun!
No one is going to agree with your choices, all of the time. No one’s opinion matters as much as your own of your Self. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is not full of perfection, and it’s not meant for living someone else’s dreams. Life is what you decide it will be, every day. When you let go of caring what everyone else is thinking about you, and useless guilt about enjoying yourself, you can move mountains and swim oceans. Speaking from experience, I have been a quitter, dumped someone over the phone, had three desserts, went for a long Harley ride just for fun (and survived), and I have called someone on their lies, to their face. It all felt great!
Oct 4, 2013 / 5:00 am
For every spiritual guru, philosopher, and life coach out there, there are as many opinions as to what the meaning of life may be. But what most of them have in common, I’ve noticed, is that when you discover your life purpose, you will also find your happiness. Or, a life lived on purpose leads to contentment and therein you will find meaning to your own existence. Sounds better than feeling like a grain of sand on the beach of the universe, disappearing into a sea of too many choices!
A life on purpose is contrary to living carelessly. You see the big picture in all you do, and go through the day with a positive attitude, resisting the temptation to scream at the twit who couldn’t be bothered to thank you when you held a door open for them. You care about what you do, what is going on around you, and about the people in your life. The rest just falls away. Instead of perceiving through eyes of “What’s in it for me?” or “How can I be more important?” or “Me! Me! Me!” you perceive the world through eyes of “What can I do to make a difference or help others?” This applies to anything from working in retail to running a multi-national business. On a personal level, it applies to doing things for friends and family, or teaching children or animals. A life on purpose also encompasses self-care, doing what you most enjoy, and not haphazardly hopping from one activity to another, completely unaware as to why.
A purposeful life is endlessly rewarding. Proof of this is the way you feel, your sense of well-being after accomplishing a short/long term goal, or being in the moment, work, play or rest. Focused, involved, and fully present, you’re blissfully unaware of the neighbours mowing their lawns (always one after another) or your teenager’s wonderful violin screeching (I mean practice). You are not thinking about the next item on your list. Time ceases to exist. You are aware of your personal motivation – whether it’s working to send your child to university, or going for another run to feel strong and healthy.
Instead of taking on the role of passive observer, the engaged person asks themselves the right questions that lead to happiness and a life on purpose. What do I love about my life? What do I want more of? How can I change it for the better? What steps can I take to make it happen? What do I feel passionate about? Who do I need to contact to join a cause I feel strongly about? Write it all down and then take action! Things like poverty, pollution, and people who use power to manipulate will always exist in this crazy world. We cannot change the way others act, but we can affect our own lives, thus affecting others’ in a more positive way which control freaks like me love, because feeling in control about something feels good! Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself!
Sep 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
For me, and maybe a lot of readers, books are the door to a parallel existence, and a key to expanding my perception of the world around me. Fiction, non-fiction, self-help, mysteries, cookbooks, biographies – I just can’t get enough. But there are particular books that leave us transformed in some way, better for having taken the time to devour every last word. Although difficult to choose, following are five exceptional reads that changed the way I view the world and enriched my life in some way, and continue to do so.
1. Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain; www.shaktigawain.com. The author’s first book, first printed in 1978, has aided everyone from pro athletes to successful artists to achieve their dreams and goals. Personal results from using the exercises in this book have been miraculous. Truly.
2. Vulture’s Picnic by Greg Palast; www.gregpalast.com. New York Times bestselling author Greg Palast opens our eyes to the vast corruption and bribery that occurs in the world of power, politics, corporations, and all those other entities we tend to despise. A real shocker about the total lack of ethics and greed that rule many countries. Conspiracy theorists love him. You’ve been warned.
3. The Art of Living by Epictetus, reinterpreted by Sharon Lebell. A classical manual on virtue, happiness, and effectiveness as interpreted by the author. Originally written by Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus, born a slave in 55 AD. A valuable guide on the importance of using your intellect to steer your life in the right direction and remain focused on what is truly important. And leave the rest in the dust.
4. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle; www.eckharttolle.com. Spiritual common sense for people of all walks of life, no matter what your beliefs may be. One of the rare wise beings on this earth. His other books have the same effect – all peace-inducing.
5. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman; www.ritagoldengelman.com. An inspiring story to live your life according to your soul’s desires, and break out of the constraints of what society attempts to mold us into. This book asks you to look within and own your choices, to be an original like its’ author.
Is there a book you’ve been meaning to read? Or have you been stuck on one genre, afraid to change over for fear of reading something you don’t like? Pop into your local bookstore, library, or go online and venture out into new possibilities. A feel good transformational experience may only be one chapter away.
Read more Feel Good articles
- Turning lemons into wine! Jul 26
- Sweet associations Jun 22
- A taste of the good life May 19
- Nostalgia Apr 21
- Extremely easy measures Mar 19
- Fake lives Feb 17
- Random acts of goodness Jan 13
- Mentors Nov 17
- Sanctuary Sep 30
- Fun out of the sun Aug 26
- Don't worry - be silly! Jul 22
- Focus Pocus! Jun 24
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