Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love - AMAZING!

Last Sunday I decided to finally give in and see the movie Eat Pray Love. For a while I had been waiting to see it because I wanted to read the book first. However, given my previous disappointments watching book-to-movie adaptations I decided to switch the process this time around.

Disclaimer: I absolutely LOVE Julia Roberts in every film she's ever starred in.. so my opinion might be a bit biased...

Honestly though, this movie is great for women of all ages (and no, I will not categorize it as a "chick-flick" because those films usually portray shallow and unrealistic depictions of life). Now, I know many people probably think: "Are you kidding me? This movie is incredibly out of touch with reality! What woman can just take off, leave all of her responsibilities, and just go travel all over the world! Heck if I could travel all over the world to 'find myself' I'd be happy too!" Now, for those of you that may think this way, I regret to inform you that you're missing the big picture here. Yes, traveling is awesome. Yes, not all of us can afford to live in three different countries in a year. But it is feasible for all of us to embark on a spiritual journey to try to figure out what our lives should really be about. We have a responsibility to constantly improve our experience here on earth for ourselves and for others. And THAT is what I think this movie is about and why I think it is abso-freaking-lutely amazing.

I know this is going to sound incredibly cliché but I'm going to say it anyways: this movie spoke to me... In one part of the movie I seriously immersed myself in this scene and instead of Liz and Richard I saw God and I having the following dialogue:

God: I know you feel awful but your life's changing, that's not a bad thing... and you're in a good place for it, surrounded by Grace
Me: I thought I was over him but I love him
God: Big deal, so you fell in love with someone
Me: I really miss him
God: So miss him! Send him some light and love every time you think of him and drop it.You know if you could clear out all that space in your mind that you're using to obsess over this guy there'd be a vacuum with a doorway.. and you know what the universe would do with that doorway?
WOOSH! Rush in! Fill you with more love that you have dreamed of.. I think you have the capacity someday to love the whole world

That part just left me breathless. I had to pause, remember how to breath, exhale.. inhale, and then remind myself not to hold my breath again for so long..

I think every woman can see a bit of herself in the main character, Liz. I can't speak for everyone but I could definitely see part of my story reflected in this film.
Initial problem: Woman in a loveless relationship feels empty and lost but does not break it off because of guilt (of hurting the other person's feelings) and inconvenience (it's easier to conform to the status quo).
Bigger problem: Woman finally gets the courage to break it off and quickly moves into a rebound relationship with a guy that is the complete opposite from the previous guy she was with (a free-spirit type of dude that does not limit her individuality and just lets things be). This ultimately causes more heartbreak because she becomes emotionally dependent on this new person
Solution: She realizes that she is responsible for her own happiness and that she cannot expect a relationship to make her feel whole.

Eat Pray Love in a nutshell:  only you are responsible for your own happiness. In the same way, you are responsible for your misery. Forgive and let go. Find out what makes you happy and follow your dreams.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Meditation - Mother's Day Edition

"I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine - she helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights." (Terri Guillemets)

On this special day when we celebrate the blessing of motherhood, we should take time to reflect on a mother's nurturing kindness and expand that positive energy in our lives. Following this idea, the book How to Expand Love (translated by Jeff Hopkins, full of wisdom and knowledge from the Dalai Lama) describes a good meditation technique which may help us to accomplish this goal.

For those that do not have any background on Buddhist theory, this particular meditation is founded on their belief of Saṃsāra (the continuous cycle of birth, life, death, and reincarnation). One thing that I've always liked about Buddhism is that its visualization practices can be useful to everyone on a spiritual path, regardless of religious affiliation.  The following is a useful technique that can help us cultivate more love and patience in our lives (and who doesn't want/need that?)

"...reflect on the kindness that others individually afforded to you when, over the course of lifetimes, they were your parents and you were a child. Applying this reflection to each encounter, you will see that all beings have equally shown kindness to you either in this lifetime or in others.
- Visualize your mother, or prime nurturer, vividly in front of you
- Think: 'This person was my mother many times over the continuum of lives. Even in just this lifetime, she has bestowed on my a body that supports an auspicious life through which I am able to progress spiritually. She sustained me in her womb for nine months, during which she could not behave as she wished but had to pay special attention to this burden that she carried in her body, making it heavy and difficult to move about. Even though my movements would cause her pain, she would take delight in them, thinking how strong her child was, rather than becoming angry and concentrating on her pain. Her sense of closeness and dearness was great.'
Stay a while with this thought, feeling its impact.
- Deepen your appreciation by considering details: 'While giving birth, she suffered greatly, and afterward she was constantly concerned with my welfare, wondering how I was doing, valuing the child born from her own body higher than anything else. Later, she sustained me in the very best way she could...'
- Realize how dependent you were. Appreciate the kindness you received. 
- Having understood the kindness of your prime nurturer in this lifetime, extend this felt understanding gradually to other friends. (following the steps previously described)
Then consider a neutral being, someone who has neither helped nor harmed you in this lifetime. Let your positive attitude embrace them.
- Having become accustomed to considering friends and neutral persons this way, you are ready to reflect on persons who have intentionally or unintentionally harmed you and your friends in this lifetime. Imagine an enemy clearly in front of you; feel the presence of this person and go over the visualization one more time. (starting from the very beginning: 'This person was my mother may times over the continuum of lives...')
Finish the exercise by affirming: 'Therefore, although this person has appeared to me in this lifetime as an enemy seeking harm to my body and spirit, in former lifetimes she/he was my best friend, my mother, my nurturer, sacrificing her own body and spirit for me'."

(paraphrased from How to Expand Love; page 51-60)

Love, Peace, and Blessings to all

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Daily Quote: May I have the courage to live...

Saturday Morning - Beginning the Happiness Quest

I literally dream too much.. When I sleep I have intense, vivid dreams. In the morning I either wake up with a strong emotion associated with the last dream I had or with a song/tune in my head that would be a good soundtrack in the story of my life.
This morning I was woken up by an AT&T technician that came to fix my Internet connection. My lovely antisocial dog kept barking nonstop.... WOOF WOOF.. WOOOOOOOOOOF!!! (where's the mute button for this furry little thing? lol)
After my Internet was fixed I opened the Paint program in my computer and came up with this lovely masterpiece:

I've never thought that MONEY=HAPPINESS but I've met so many people with this erroneous way of thinking that I was inspired to contradict their notions through a highly artistic and intellectual medium: stick-figure cartoons.

I wish I knew how to permanently set my mind on happy mode.. do you think you know how? (please shoot me an email/post if you think you got it figured out). I've gotten glimpses of love and happiness, of course.... but I've noticed that us people are usually trying to fill our inner voids with superficial and impermanent things. We compete against each other and when we win we celebrate and are content with life for about 2 minutes.. Then we go back to being dissatisfied and start the competition all over again...

It's not about having more, it's not about acquiring things or possessing people.. Life is not about what we think it's about.. We were taught wrong.. I've realized this, and now I want to change things and I want to learn. I want to stop feeling like hamster running on a squeaky old wheel.
Starting now, this is my ongoing quest:

Learn Truth, Embrace Wisdom, Feel Love..
Be Happy.