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VALERIEMAHA's Recent Blog Entries

What's on your mind...?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This hit me hard even though I've heard it over and over again. Sri Easwaran's explanation of that cryptic statement of the Buddha really says it all...and it's about EVERY part of my life, every high and low place, every crevice, every hidden part.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
-- The Buddha

Our destiny is in our own hands. Since we are formed by our thoughts, it follows that what we become tomorrow is shaped by what we think today.

Happily, we can choose the way we think. We can choose our feelings, aspirations, desires, and the way we view our world and ourselves. Mastery of the mind opens avenues of hope. We can begin to reshape our life and character, rebuild relationships, thrive in the stress of daily living-- we can become the kind of person we want to be.
-- Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PEACEFULONE 1/15/2010 9:55AM

    All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
-- The Buddha

So may we keep on trying to focus our "monkey brain " thoughts always to be loving and gentle with ourselves and with others.

Thank you again dear Maha for another inspirational blog. And thank you for the light you share on my path!

Namaste, Elaine

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MAZZYR 1/14/2010 6:28AM

    This is true! I finally believe this.

And/or, we can choose not to think, and just BE present.

Comment edited on: 1/14/2010 6:30:19 AM

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/13/2010 10:32PM

    Thoughts be come things (us) and more!

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JUSTDUCKY1405 1/13/2010 10:02AM

    And so in-tune with what I learnt from 2009!!!

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JUSTDUCKY1405 1/13/2010 10:02AM


To Living In The NOW!!!

Very well said, and so true!!!

I am going to borrow that one!!!

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LYNNANN43 1/13/2010 8:40AM

    My daughter considers herself agnostic, but firmly believes in the principals of Buddhism.

Another beautiful blog.


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DAVEOZ 1/13/2010 8:20AM

    Buddha has a powerful and sometimes disappointing quote. Some things we're proud of and others need improvement. It is so true though. I visited Easwaran's site. Quite interesting. Thanks for the link.


Comment edited on: 1/13/2010 8:23:14 AM

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TRUST the Process?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I have a problem with faith...with trust. I always have. The concrete reality before my eyes is easy. The unseen isn't so easy. As a spiritual being occupying a body (yeah, I've managed to get that integrated), I am aware that growth, greater consciousness, at times requires a leap of faith. And that's where I've often faltered...and failed to accomplish what I've set out to -- whether it be wellness goals or other life goals.

Don't get me wrong. I've managed to do many things over the journey of this topsy-turvy life of mine. It's just that I intuit that if I could learn the "desperate faith of sleep-walkers who rise out of their calm beds and walk through the skin of another life" THEN I would have extra-sensory experience of drinking "the stupefying cup of darkness" and waking up to myself, "nourished and surprised."

The surprise. That's it. I'm missing the surprise of deep, abiding faith (shraddha). Thank you Edward Hirsch for saying what my soul has been whispering for eons.


Tonight I want to say something wonderful
for the sleepwalkers who have so much faith
in their legs, so much faith in the invisible

arrow carved into the carpet, the worn path
that leads to the stairs instead of the window,
the gaping doorway instead of the seamless mirror.

I love the way that sleepwalkers are willing
to step out of their bodies into the night,
to raise their arms and welcome the darkness,

palming the blank spaces, touching everything.
Always they return home safely, like blind men
who know it is morning by feeling shadows.
And always they wake up as themselves again.
That's why I want to say something astonishing
like: Our hearts are leaving our bodies.

Our hearts are thirsty black handkerchiefs
flying through the trees at night, soaking up
the darkest beams of moonlight, the music

of owls, the motion of wind-torn branches.
And now our hearts are thick black fists
flying back to the glove of our chests.

We have to learn to trust our hearts like that.
We have to learn the desperate faith of sleep-
walkers who rise out of their calm beds

and walk through the skin of another life.
We have to drink the stupefying cup of darkness
and wake up to ourselves, nourished and surprised.
-- Edward Hirsch

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOODHEALTH4EVER 1/15/2010 6:31PM


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PEACEFULONE 1/15/2010 10:03AM

    Such an astoundingly beautiful piece!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CARLI_MAE 1/12/2010 8:18PM

    I yes ... incredible that both Hirsh and Frost (in a much more subltle, tangential way) both touch on similar concepts. Lovely, lovely metaphors ... the magic of poetry to paint a visual picture to help us grasp the elusive things for which we were born to strive.

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VALERIEMAHA 1/12/2010 6:59PM

    For those whose curiosity has been ignited:

Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree~
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

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JUSTDUCKY1405 1/12/2010 5:10PM

    Ok, I have to admit, that this poem was a little over my head at first... and perhaps still is! I can totally relate to your intro to the poem! And, I too am getting better with faith! I suppose it depends on my mood, and how deeply I want to think about our life as we know it! But, what I do know, is that I am alive, and I am most alive when living in the now, thus trusting the process of life, because I am not taking away from the present moment of contemplating why or how.

I don't know Maha! I don't see you as missing anything! If anything, you get it way more than a lot of people do. You are my spiritual inspiration...


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BRIGHTSPARK7 1/12/2010 3:16PM

    The poets light up the dark places where the sun cannot reach, translation of an Indian saying. Thank you for this deep sharing, Mahalakshmi. The physical boundaries we experience around ourselves are an illusion. Shraddha takes us beyond our physical sensory selves. I love Hirsch's 'walking,' ... oh the places you'll go and the people you'll meet ... though, these days, I am thankful to be wandering around the world as myself, to wake up to my own mind.
Thankful for you in my life,

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DRAGONFLY7149 1/12/2010 2:28PM

    A truly beautiful piece (peace!) dear Maha...yet Carli is a bit on the right track. Some things aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be. I have had one deep sleepwalking experience in my life -- at the age of four -- and found myself in the middle of a field on the farm we were living on at the time, sharing that space with a black bear. Don't know what might have happened had my parents not heard the door open and close in the middle of the night...

...don't wander so much in the physical sense any more, but monitor the meanderings of my partner (if not compelled to wake him, e.g., when he attempted to throw me and the mattress off the bed and through the window one night because he was convinced the mattress was on fire).

Of course, I'm projecting all sorts of stuff onto that lovely poem!


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STLRZGRRL 1/12/2010 2:21PM

    AS for waking up surprised, I have been missing that all my life... the surprise comes to me later in the day... (NOT a moring person...)

And let me take this opportunity to thank Snark... erm... I mean Carli for reminding me of the surprise I more often notice... when I am reading something by a guy like Williams or Frost, that old battle-axe, who managed to capture such surprises as "but swinging doesn't bend them down to stay" in a piece like "Birches"... I have never forgiven him for being as good as he was...


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SLASALLE 1/12/2010 2:03PM

    What Gina said - Truly - because I can say it no better and will not ever try!!!!

AND be watching the snail mail, my dear friend. Anticipation ... xoxoxo

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CARLI_MAE 1/12/2010 1:50PM

    Ah, but the mischief is in me today, sweet chum ... and I cannot help my mind from travelling to the actual scientific explanations of sleepwalking, and a particular form of it I myself experience on occasion called "hypnosomnambulism." It ain't all that peaceful ... trust me on that one.

I am reminded of a funny thing that happened long ago in my college days when all the "intellectuals" would gather at their campus hangouts. A rather dreamy-like student had in hand a book of poetry from which she read William Carlos William's short poem about chickens around a red wheelbarrow, commenting on the pastoral beauty of the image. David, a friend, totally upset the poor girl, pointing to the reality that had she ever lived in the country she might know what filthy, disgusting creatures chickens actually were in the most graphic detail. Much to the girl's dismay and fragile sensibilities, David and I had a great laugh over the whole thing, devils that we were.

Oh my. I am bad today ... but I trust that you have a pretty good grasp of my slightly twisted humor, and perhaps even get a chuckle out of my ever meandering thoughts.

Then again, as Frost put it speaking not of sleepwalkers, but young boys ... "one could do worse than be a swinger of birches." (from the poem, "Birches" ... Robert Frost: "When I see birches bend from left to right/across the lines of straighter, darker trees/I like to think some boy's been swinging them/but swinging doesn't bend them down to stay/ice storms do that/Often you must have seen them/a snowy winters morning after a storm/they click upon themselves as the breeze rises/ ..." you need to find it to read the whole thing -- nice passage about the boy swinging up toward heaven and then back toward earth ...

Snarky ... uh, I mean Carli

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WILDHONEYPIE1 1/12/2010 1:31PM

    Shivers (in a good way). Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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GINABUG 1/12/2010 12:38PM

    Ah, yes! Joe knows how to pick them -- and YOU, my friend know how to bring them to life. Thanks for sharing so generously of your personal journey, your hopes, your dreams/desires. Your compassionate presence and support in this community are a lifeline to me!

Blessings to you, Maha! YOU are never really asleep!


Comment edited on: 1/12/2010 12:43:12 PM

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It's All Right

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Really nothing more to say about it this morning.

Van Morrison
(From the album "TB Sheets," 1973)

If it matters how you do it,
And how you do it is your thing.
If it matters which way you go,
That's your way to go.
And if you get it like that,
That's the way you get it,
'Cause you get it like that
When you want to be that way,
When you wanna be that way,
That's the way you wanna be, see.

Hey! It's all right.
Yeah, its all right.

Now that you try to do to me
Out there a-walkin' doesn't matter, baby
Ain't no question, no suggestion
Nothin' in my mind that can't be
Shut out when I want it to be
Nothin' in yours that can't be kept in
When you open it up and lose it
And nothin' you can't let out
If it's got to be let out, just let it out
And don't worry which way it goes.


Now how can I tell you that I love you
How can I say so many words and so many syllables
In such a short space of time as this
Just turn it on and soak it in
And let it run off the walls
And let it down, keep it, and don't lose it
Or confuse it
It's just right there layin' open
Completely open for everybody to see
Yeah, you got it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAT573 1/13/2010 8:47PM

    OH I enjoyed seeing the lyrics! NOW I want to hear the music and put them together! I am going to use my special headset plugged into my computer and nested against my hearing aids! LOL !

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STILLPOINT 1/13/2010 8:36PM

    YOu are one remarkable woman! Thank you for sharing the ultimate music master's music.

Namaste, dear one

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CORPUSANNIE 1/10/2010 1:24PM

    Thanks for the inspiration to finally sort through my collection of tapes to listen to this again. One of my favorites..turn it on and soak it in. Gotta love that.
montie emoticon

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/10/2010 12:19PM

    I can hear it now--Thanks!

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JUSTDUCKY1405 1/10/2010 11:32AM


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GINABUG 1/10/2010 11:10AM

    Maha -- so much of my inspiration (as you can most likely tell from my daily gratitudes) comes from music and poetry! Thanks for sharing this one today! Truly inspiring!

Blessings abound!


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MISS_VIV 1/10/2010 10:18AM

    Let it be. So many great artists tryting to tell us all to relax, let go and it's all right. It can't be far from the truth. We all need to stop and be still, more often than we think. Thank you for another beautiful morning thought.

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LISANANCY 1/10/2010 10:09AM

    Isn't it something, the road to better health starts with our thinking. We really are in control. Getting control is the trick. You are always a sweet whisper to my ear. emoticon

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Thoughts become things. Choose good ones.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

WHOA! Powerful words from my hero, Sri Easwaran, this morning. I seem to be on a roll with the Thought for the Day as you can see, often deeply resonating with the daily Teaching.

The fact is that my thoughts impact every corner and cubicle of my life. I well know that thoughts repeated over and over make tracks in my consciousness and become conditioned behavior, which is frequently NOT where I want to be. One of the biggest reasons that I meditate is to slow down the mind, slow down the thoughts, the mental chatter and slowly take control. This allows me to act follow my bliss and move ever closer toward uncovering who I am, my true nature.

It is also so very valuable on a day-by-day, mundane level in attaining goals like meeting and maintaining an optimal weight, eating wisely, following a daily structure that serves me including exercise, clearing clutter, keeping my space clean, etc. In moving toward controlling my thoughts, I'm looking for progress, not perfection -- baby steps toward the goal.

The Buddha says, "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a wo/man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows her/him. If a wo/man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows her/him, like a shadow that never leaves her/him." And Notes From the Universe ( ) admonishes -- "Thoughts become things. Choose good ones." Yep. It's a purdy basic formula, simple Truth, but one that for me is not easy to live by, though it IS the "healing I took birth for" as Stephen Levine says.

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
-- Swami Vivekananda

The ancestor of every destructive action, every destructive decision, is a negative thought. We do not have to be afraid of negative thoughts as long as we do not welcome them. They are in the air, and they may knock at anyone's door; but if we do not embrace them, ask them in, and make them our own, they can have no power over us.

We can think of thoughts as hitchhikers. At the entrance to the freeway, we used to see a lot of hitchhikers carrying signs: "Vancouver," "Mexico," "L.A." One said in simple desperation, "Anywhere!" Thoughts are a lot like those hitchhikers. We can pick them up or pass them by. Negative thoughts carry signs, but usually we see only one side, the side with all the promises. The back of the sign tells us their true destination: sickness and sorrow.

Nobody is obliged to pick up these passengers. If we do not stop and let them in, they cannot go anywhere, because they are not real until we support them. There is sympathy in the world: pick it up. There is antipathy in the world: don't pick it up. Hatred destroys. Love heals.
-- Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CORPUSANNIE 1/9/2010 9:19PM

    Very comforting blog. I appreciate the knowledge that each of us has the power to
rebuff the negative flack that seems to come flying at us. I used to be much more influenced by what happened around me(o, guess I mean the world in general), but meditation helps me to clear my head of the almost ceaseless chatter. To turn away the noise of conflict and welcome the peace of silence, that always seems to be what feels right.
annie emoticon

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GETDONE 1/9/2010 8:48PM

    What great thoughts!!!!!!!!! emoticon

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MENT2BE 1/9/2010 6:49PM

    I agree, it is so good to have you back!! I loved your blog. It is so true that "Divine LOVE heals all".


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NORLANA 1/9/2010 5:04PM

    Don't you just love TUT ... I so wait for it every Monday LOL! I was sitting in class in Toronto last quarter and my mentor and I had a laugh over the fact that we go to our email first thing every morning to see what TUT has to say! Good stuff here, Maha. Glad to see you have a plan for the year and I know you will succeed in all aspect taking EXCELLENT care of YOU!!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 1/9/2010 3:24PM

    "Yad dhyayati tad bhavati," That which you think, so you become. Bhagavad Gita.
Love Eknath Easwaran's analogy of thoughts as passengers in your vehicle ... carry them along with you, let them out, or don't pick them up in the first place.
Thanks Mahalakshmi!
xo Usha.

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SLASALLE 1/9/2010 12:42PM

    There you go again!!!! THAT is a GREAT thing since there are so many of us who enjoy your blogs so much. Indeed, thoughts to things. And I LOVE being able to pass by the hitchhikers that I don't want to participate in!!!

Also of note that you bring up Stephen Levine in your blog today. I have been (once again) using the lovely CDs on grief. TODAY IS THE TWO MONTH ANNIVERSARY of losing my Gwendolyn.

Lots of love xoxoxo

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MAZZYR 1/9/2010 12:03PM

    Oh Maha, it's wonderful to have you back. Your blogs never fail to make me think.

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BECOMINGONE 1/9/2010 11:44AM

    From your mouth to my heart ... thoughts to actions ...


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MISS_VIV 1/9/2010 11:26AM

    Wonderful words as usual. Wish we were discussing this over our coffee.

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/9/2010 11:15AM

    I'm all about "thoughts become things" gotta love that TUT! I assume you know about the daily inspirationals from Yogaville/Swami Satchidanana

One more positive daily read!

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AZIMAT 1/9/2010 10:56AM

    Again, welcome back, we're happy to see the words of wisdom again.

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JUSTDUCKY1405 1/9/2010 10:53AM

    Amen to that! Well said! Again... I just love your blogs!

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Directing attention, controlling the mind....

Thursday, January 07, 2010

As usual, Eknath Easwaran spoke to me in a place that I truly resonate with. Returning home after a wonderful trip to the "left coast" I'm ready to move into a level of greater conscious attention, enabling me to flourish in body, mind, and spirit as I enter the new decade.

I have been consistent with a daily sitting practice since the Soul Writing Retreat in October. I hope to continue deepening my practice and overall wellness as I learn how to increasingly direct my attention.

May we all grow and flourish in this new year!

Genius...means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an inhabitual way.
-- William James

Attention is very much like a searchlight, and it should be mounted in such a way that it can be trained on any subject freely. When we are caught up in some compulsion, this searchlight has become stuck. After many years of being stuck like this, it is hard to believe that the light can turn. We think that the compulsion has become a permanent part of our personality. But gradually, we can learn to work our attention free.

As an experiment, try to work cheerfully at some job you dislike: you are training your attention to go where you want it to go. Whatever you do, give it your best concentration. Another good exercise is learning to drop what you are doing and shift your attention to something else when the situation demands. For example, when you leave your office, leave your work there. Don't let it follow you home and come into the dining room like an untrained dog, barking at your heels.

All this is the spiritual equivalent of kicking exercises in a dance lesson or knee bends in an aerobics class. By practicing these exercises, anybody can learn to direct attention freely.
-- Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BECOMINGONE 1/9/2010 11:53AM

    New actions, new thinking. Yesterday is just the opposite of today. Thinking = actions. Actions = thinking. Hmmmm ... circular causation is not surprising ....


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GINABUG 1/8/2010 10:20PM

    Thanks, Maha! Love love love Eknath! He was a teacher of mine during my dissertation writing -- via you, of course. You sent me a lovely quote with his picture about doing what you think you cannot do. It was framed front and center every day while I actually DID the thing I thought I could not. Perhaps it's time to pull that picture out again and use it in a new way!

Blessings and joy, my friend!


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SLASALLE 1/8/2010 6:59PM

    Ah - How I have missed your blogging. But I see now that you are back at it with renewed and refreshed energy ... and I'm lovin' it. Much love from frigid Kansas City.

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GIANTPANDA 1/8/2010 6:58PM

    Wonderful blog. I find writing is one of the best ways to explore.

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COLIBRI930 1/8/2010 6:08PM

    Just what I needed today! Thanks.

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FLORIDASUN 1/8/2010 8:29AM

    Love your blog as usual my dear friend! How awesome that you had this wonderful trip and came back energized and full of hope and happiness! I must try meditation one of these days...I know how important it is to my writing! I usually feel pretty 'in touch' with myself but if I could still the monkey mind every day...who knows what wonder would appear!?! emoticon You are usually my pendulum and I love that! emoticon

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PEACEFULONE 1/8/2010 1:42AM

    Thank you for sharing this excellent advice! How easy it is to dwell on the wrong things. We can make a deliberate choice to change our focus to the good.

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BABYFACE26 1/7/2010 10:44PM

    Maha, you're back! Wonderful blog. I noticed you wrote it today, when moon is in Libra, the sign that seeks balance. Glad you're back, safe and sound..and that you are being consistent with that practice. I am also very happy that I've gotten myself out of bed these last couple weeks, early enough in the morning to attend Tai Qi classes. I am really enjoying them, and they are kicking my butt, in the best way. So glad to have found something physical (besides walking) that I enjoy!

Your friend,

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CORPUSANNIE 1/7/2010 9:37PM

    Welcome back; see how you were missed? It is interesting to me that I felt compelled today to consciously enjoy the parts of my job that are pleasing and downplay the problem areas. I have noticed that it adjusts my whole attitude to do this and I am much more content and balanced.
Because things have been busier than usual, it seems that I have a huge number of emails in my box, piling up over the last couple of weeks.
Thank you for your blogs and your friendship.
peace emoticon

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/7/2010 7:44PM

    Heard your were out visiting our sparkly friend AT! Know you enjoyed your trip!

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CARLI_MAE 1/7/2010 3:50PM

    Just read that one a while ago ... reminded me of the tried and true advice given to all aspiring writers and artists of all kinds ... learn to view things as if you were seeing them for the very first time...

I sure wish Annie would rotate herself right side up ... every time I see her avatar it always makes me feel a bit disoriented ... but from the viewpoint of this blog, maybe that's a good thing??????? hahahaha ... hmmmm ... then again, maybe the way my mind works is inhabitual enough already.

Glad you are home safe and energized!

Comment edited on: 1/7/2010 3:51:46 PM

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BRIGHTSPARK7 1/7/2010 2:10PM

    Welcome back, Mahalakshmi! I missed you.
xo Usha.

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ANNIEONLI 1/7/2010 1:36PM

    Hey there! Great blog...just what I needed to read right now! So true...leave it there. Definitely something tto practice and think on.


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JUSTDUCKY1405 1/7/2010 1:32PM

    I just love that what you are blogging about is right in tune with where I want to be, and what I am continually working on!

Thanks for another great blog and insight!

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LYNNANN43 1/7/2010 1:28PM

    I SOOOOO missed you!

emoticon back!!!

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LUCY419 1/7/2010 12:58PM

    A wonderful direction toward awarness... this is where i'm at right now, i have let family stress follow me around day in and day out, with five grown children and there problems! I have allowed it to take over my life... like i said, I HAVE ALLOWED IT, the power and quality of who we are and how we live is in the way we choose to! I'm taking back my life and making it work for me, and in the long run i'll be a better person for everyone in my life! PEACE & HUGS... lucy

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NORLANA 1/7/2010 12:18PM

    Welcome home! Missed you :)

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