Costumes and Masks

I don't know if I really loved dressing in costumes when I was little.  They came in ready made, one size fits all boxes.  There weren't many choices for a girl to pick from back then.  Wonder Woman (the only female superhero at the time, kinda still is), a cat, a ballerina, a princess.  After 4 years, I could rotate through this list again.  I see kids now dressing up and WOW!  So many more choices, what creativity! I mean they really bring it!   

Having gone to Burning Man (amongst other influences) has opened my eyes to the amount of play we can have as grown ups.  It gives all of us permission to be whoever we want to be.  Total freedom.  Since then, being in costume not only feels liberating, but a must.  It gives me the opportunity to flex the muscle of 'permission' to expand beyond the parameters of my daily responsibilities and roles. To exercise playfulness, creativity and sheer joy.  For years now, every Halloween my entire office dresses in costume.  Every year we create a theme and enjoy the planning of our outfits weeks before.  My team and patients love it!  I like to think we inspire all that come into our office that's it okay to dress up still and connect to their inner child.

All of this has become a norm for me and it feels more authentic than the proverbial masks I used to wear depending on the environment I found myself in.    The masks I wore I was hiding behind, thinking they were really me when they weren't.  No one knew they were masks, not even me at the time.   I am thrilled to have shed them and have found tremendous freedom in doing so.

I guess thats the difference between costumes and masks for me.  The ones I cant wait to put on and the ones I am so excited to be rid off.  It takes a long time to grow young.  I am having a blast finding out.

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When I play, I ....

My favorite four letter word is PLAY.  It might be the most carefree, natural feeling I can embody.  Its through playing that I feel like I can flirt with life, no matter what I am doing.     When I play, I feel young, timeless even.  

I was at the Chopra Center in San Diego this weekend taking the course "Journey into Healing".  One of our assignments was to rate from 1-10 different aspects of our life.  The categories were: Finances, Career, Fun and Recreation, Health, Family & Friends, Spiritual & Personal Growth and Romance.   My total average score was 8.5.   I was so happy to see that although I could take more pristine care of my health, career and finances, there is an element of fun I have with each.  Every minute of every day certainly not, but for the most part, I try not to take all of it too seriously.   Once I really committed to understanding and accepting that I cannot control Life, I made a decision to enjoy it.  

Its a choice I have to make every day.

I might as well play.  

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Vices and Virtues

This truly is one of my favorite topics. I first became enchanted with it when I began thinking of mantras and how to make them more meaningful to others. Of course there were the mantras from the Vedas that I learned during my studies in the ashram, but to the very many who haven’t experienced that, they meant very little. I came across a book while in Rishikesh, India called “How to Cultivate Virtues and Eradicate Vices” by Swami Sivananda. A very distinct and intellectual approach on how to live a more virtuous life and shun engaging with vices. I thought, we can use the virtues as the mantras! If our thoughts become our words which become our character and destiny, then how vital it is to have our inner conversation be virtuous! I agreed with Swami Sivananda that every step toward virtues is a step toward the Divine and every step toward vices is a step away from the Divine. I began looking deeply into all the reasons why I loved to dance between these two things.

I did not agree with shunning our vices. In fact, I have loved my vices. I have enjoyed each and every one of them until I didn’t enjoy them any more. They have made me who I am. The fun to my serious, the shake to my milk, the skip to my march. When they no longer served me, I learned to integrate them into my Being. This took a lot of time and a lot of patience, which by the way is a virtue. I am in no means finished, which is the fun part. I really get to pay attention to each one and invite them in.

A lot of people try to deflect their vices with shame, suppression, and regret. I’m suggesting to celebrate them, they are what make us up and woke us up. Hopefully, we can all learn to be playful around them and allow humor in, because if we fight them, they will win.

I believe that living a more virtuous life connects us to our divine nature, that which is outside of and inside of us. As long as we balance the dance between vices and virtues with the energetic flow and attention going towards living a more virtuous life, we are moving towards our True Nature, which is to be Self Realized.

So smoke that cigarette, have an extra martini, and know that one day, hopefully soon, you can sit with each and really listen to what they want to say. Then lovingly let them know, its time for you now to drive them home.

The Magic in Longing

There is a longing, a tugging, that is the constant low hum of life.  For everyone that longing is different yet the vibrational frequency is the same.   I have only recently, and by recently, I mean this week, come into a real intimacy of what that is.    Previously, the mental chatter in my mind occluded me to being able to pay attention to or even know that it existed.  I never realized it, the way one may not realize the soft whisper of the wind as it feathers past the ear.  I had to get really quiet, really still, down to my core to finally meet it and welcome it in from beyond, yet, it was always within.  A stranger to my conscious mind, a best friend to my subconscious.  

Anne Davin says "Your desires, the longing in your heart, is the interface between you and that which is greater than you.  It is your watery soul moving currents of the unimaginable, yet to be revealed, aliveness in to the world. 

I feel that the longing in my heart is to be reunited with that which it came from and that which longs to be with me.  This is pure Love in its essence.  Love of self and Self has helped me align the aperture where I can unlock the pathway and experience the limitless flow of my Divinity.  My watery soul, as if inviting and waiting to greet all that is beyond the limits of my physical experience.  Water flows without resistance to whatever it encounters, it takes shape to its surroundings, its completely surrendered and represents pure acceptance, which is in the end, Love.

This all reminds me of "The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer"  a beautiful passage my beloved gave to me> I am sure most of you are familiar with it:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to be realistic to remember the limitations of being human. It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. 

May I always be like water, my mind, my heart my soul.  For then I have truly surrendered to the magic of Life's unfoldings.

Wishing all of you the same. 

With love,

Vero

 

 

Sacred

In preparing for this post on what this word means to me, I reflected on what it is I truly hold sacred in my life. What came through me is that it can be categorized into 3 spheres.  Physical, Emotional and Energetic.  The altar in our meditation room filled w pictures of all the incredible Gurus in our lives, the artifacts that we’ve collected from around the world along with scriptures are all sacred to us on the Physical level.  The memories I have of special moments and events that have brought me both tremendous happiness and sadness (as both are gifts from beyond) are sacred to me on an Emotional level.  The tingles I feel around my heart and aura when I know I am having direct interaction with the Divine or my Beloved is sacred to me on an Energetic Level.  All of these sacred experiences I bow to and have reverence for, for there is nothing higher, in my opinion, than to cherish that which is sacred.  What do you hold sacred in your life and how do you cherish and honor it?

Photo credit: Lord Coltrane

Warren Buffett: Do This Every Morning to Be Successful

We are so happy to be a Graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10K small business program!!! 

Every entrepreneur wants to know how to succeed in business. Fortunately, luminaries like Warren BuffettMichael Bloomberg, and Jack Dorsey are here to help.

Speaking at the 20th graduation of Goldman Sachs's 10,000 Small Businesses program at LaGuardia Community College on Tuesday, the billionaire businessmen discussed a variety of issues, including regulation, talent acquisition, and cybersecurity. But perhaps the most useful bit of advice--particularly among the program's 33 new entrepreneurial graduates--had to do with where they think the business magic happens.  

For his part, Warren Buffett, the 85-year-old Berkshire Hathaway CEO, doesn't think you should just satisfy your customers; he wants you to delight them.

"Tomorrow morning, when you look in the mirror, write--or just put it in lipstick or whatever you want--'delight my customer,' not satisfy my customer," said Buffett.

"I don't remember how much I paid for my last car, but I remember the experience," Buffett continued, explaining that any business that delights customers can count them as an unpaid sales force. They'll be back to buy your product, and they'll talk about it with other people, he says.

The billionaire investor also pointed to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the "classic example" of someone who knows how to delight his customers. "Here's a guy who 20 years ago had a very, very small business," Buffett said. "But he set out every day to delight his customer by fast delivery, by lower prices, whatever it took. And, today, he is still thinking about how to delight his customer. He never quits."

Michael Bloomberg, the founder and CEO of the eponymous financial software company, agreed with Buffett: "Customers are everything." But, he added, employees are a company's greatest asset.

"You should be sitting in the middle of your employees; get rid of any offices," the former New York City mayor advised. "Rip down the walls; make an open plan ... I've done it in the company and it's gone from one person to 20,000, and I think that's one of the big reasons."

With that in mind, you need to constantly encourage your team, suggests Jack Dorsey, who founded Twitter and Square. "Attracting great people means you have to keep an understanding of what your purpose is," Dorsey says.

You also need to be able to clearly articulate your company's purpose, and identify alignments and misalignments. To suss this out, the tech founder will often ask job candidates one question: Why are you here? "If I see passion for our purpose, I know that any skill can be taught," added Dorsey.

See article here: 

http://www.inc.com/helena-ball/warren-buffett-secret-to-success-entrepreneurs-startups.html

 

 

Through The Eyes of a Visionary Wonder Woman: A Look At Veronica Ruelas’ Mission of Ambition

Whenever I think of what a real-life Wonder Woman embodies, concepts like bravery, determination, purpose, strength, focus, fearlessness, resilience, selflessness, and adaptation each come to mind. But rarely does any single person exhibit each of these characteristics. Despite those odds, I’m about to introduce you to one who does!

In 2007, Vero Ruelas’ life steered itself in an exciting and unpredictable direction right in front of her own eyes. It was the year she had lost her job and her relationship. It was also the year she embraced her restless soul, in classic Eat, Pray, Love style. Her autumn immersion in that modern memoir of transcendence left her at a personal crossroads, and eventually led her all the way to Machu Picchu by ‘08. Her aim was to take her talent as an optometrist to those who were most desperately in need of eye care, and to tour this magical part of the world with the inspiration of her newly-embraced practice of meditation. This exploration found Vero as part of an eye care missionary team….the catalyst to the founding of her own mission.

Setting Up Shop

When Vero returned to NYC from Machu Picchu, she resumed her yoga and meditation research, with the intention to combine her vocation with her new passion. She just knew her foray into meditation wasn’t going to be a one-off, and longed to learn more. She discovered the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, which has a NYC center, a Catskills location, and many Ashram’s in India. Attending a meditation weekend in the Catskills inspired her to buy a tent and invest in a 6-week intensive training in the Bahamas. This proved a brief stint since, upon the realization that she had the ability to help people “see” (a fateful play on words, indeed), it became clear that the ideal place to offer her services was India. The Himalayan village of Uttarkashi, an ample journey from the capital of Delhi, is the destination that called to her. It is here that her passion for yoga could be fulfilled, along with her mission towards service, for this was home to a Sivananda Ashram and an existing medical care facility where she would be able to set up shop.

See more here.

Inspiration

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. - Patanjali - the Father of Yoga.

Have Insomnia? A better night's sleep is all in your head.

Do you toss and turn at night, yearning for a good night's sleep?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 50 million to 70 million American adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder that can affect their lives in serious ways. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity are linked to poor sleep, as are car accidents, industrial disasters, occupational and medical errors as well as reduced quality of life and productivity. It's so bad that the CDC has pegged insufficient sleep as an American public health epidemic.

Read the rest of the article on CNN here

 

Union Through Others

The state of “yoga,” or “union,” is when the individual self reunites with the infinite, undifferentiated, eternal Self. Yoga has been described as samadhi, or blissful ecstasy, because it is such a relief to finally reconnect with your whole being after so many lifetimes of wandering in the illusionary world of disconnection. The methods of yoga help to bring together that which appears to be separate.

Enlightenment is the goal of all yoga practices. Perceiving others—that is, perceiving ourselves as separate from others—is the biggest obstacle to enlightenment. For a yoga practice to work, it must address how to dissolve the others in our lives. Yoga teaches us that in truth there is only oneness; others are an illusionary projection coming from our own minds, from our own pastkarmas (actions). The practices help us to purify our karmas, which involve our relationships with others, so that we may perceive the oneness of being.


SHORT FILM ‘JUST BREATHE’ HELPS KIDS DEAL WITH EMOTION

Article from Amy's Smart Girls:

We all live, first and foremost, on the inside of our human bodies. But that doesn’t mean that rich inner life we all have doesn’t project itself outward into the everyday world. Quite the opposite: our emotional responses are hard to navigate at any age. Figuring out how and what you are physically feeling is particularly challenging when you’re feeling things like rage, sadness, disgust, and confusion for the first time. Heck, this particular Smart Girl is 29-years-old and I stillhave a hard time understanding what it all means. Sometimes, though, the best thing to do is just breathe.

Which is exactly what’s at the heart of the matter in this short from filmmakers Julie Bayer Salzman and Josh Salzman titled “Just Breathe.” In the 4-minute long video, the duo spoke to several young Smart Girls and Boys about how their emotions affect them and how they physically feel. But rather than just opening up the conversation — which is great and also, hint hint nudge nudge, part of what we’re doing with #BeEmotionalInsideOut — the duo show how helpful the practice of mindfulness is in keeping kids emotionally healthy.

From the short’s description, “the inspiration for ‘Just Breathe’ first came about a little over a year ago when I overheard my then 5-year-old son talking with his friend about how emotions affect different regions of the brain, and how to calm down by taking deep breaths — all things they were beginning to learn in Kindergarten at their new school, Citizens of the World Charter School, in Mar Vista, CA. I was surprised and overjoyed to witness first-hand just how significant social-emotional learning in an elementary school curriculum was on these young minds.”

How do you deal with your emotions when you’re upset? Have you found any tricks and tips that help you be emotionally healthy and honest? Let’s hear ’em in the comments (or on Twitter — but make sure to tag them #BeEmotionalInsideOut)!

Read the article here: https://amysmartgirls.com/short-film-just-breathe-helps-kids-deal-with-emotions/

 

 

How to Find a Job With Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation has been good for Olivia Chow’s career.

In her first month of attending Ziva Meditation on 38th Street, the trend forecaster met Noël Rohayem, a clothing designer whom she later helped to find a new job. That led to a partnership, forged last summer, for which the two are creating a made-to-fit clothing line that will be introduced next year. Most weeks, they meet at Ms. Chow’s apartment — starting every business meeting with a short meditation — to go over marketing plans, fabric swatches and sketches.

Meditation is more than peace of mind for Ms. Chow; it fuels work. Recently she said she was hired by three fellow meditators to make custom-fit clothes. “I network wherever I go,” Ms. Chow said.

There could not be two less compatible concepts: the quiet of the ancient practice of meditation and the heart thump of striving New Yorkers looking for the next opportunity. Now, meditation studios and conferences catering to Type A Manhattan careerists are becoming a new hub for networking without the crass obviousness of looking for a job. It is hard to quiet the mind in a city where competitive cab-hailing is a blood sport. So why not look for a little stress relief, or start-up financing, among empathic meditating friends?

Read more here.

Downtowners Doing Good: Dr. Veronica Ruelas Local Optometrist Bestows Gift of Sight on the Far Side of the World

A Battery Park City eye doctor is traveling around the world several times each year to provide free optometric services to impoverished residents of developing nations. Dr. Veronica Ruelas, who has been practicing at Artsee Eyewear (on North End Way, opposite Shake Shack) since 2011, returned on Monday from the most recent of these trips, to Haiti. "I flew down on Friday night and spent the weekend at an orphanage in a place called Hinche, about two hours outside of Port-au-Prince, where I examined and treated around 40 children, and then got back on Monday evening," she recalls. "I decided to go because a friend is adopting a child from Hinche, so she travels there once a month. When she described the conditions there, like rampant pink eye, I knew I had to try to help. I brought medication, and also spent some time training local caregivers."

This was Dr. Ruelas' first trip to Haiti, but her eleventh journey to remote locations in Third World countries where optometric services for poor people are either unheard of, or else in gravely short supply.

"I began doing this six years ago," she recalls. "I went to India by myself in 2008, to see if I could help people." This desire to serve sprang from a personal and professional reevaluation, she says. "I was ten years into practicing optometry at that point, and was thinking about giving it up. I was studying to become a yoga instructor, and going through an intense program, during which I lived in an ashram in India and studied yoga philosophy."

"One of the paths to yoga is called karma yoga," she explains, "and is focused on people who devote their lives to service. This is viewed as a way to train the mind and to help purify the soul. And when I realized, because of karma yoga, that I could use optometry to help people, that reenergized my professional life."

Dr. Ruelas began by setting up a temporary clinic in the town of Uttarkashi, in northern India, near the borders with China and Nepal. This town, which was also home to the ashram where she was studying, is several days' travel time from Delhi. "In that area of India," she notes, "there is one optometrist serving 70,000 people." She started by bringing medications and used eyeglasses, which she gave to people whose prescriptions matched the lenses on the donated pairs of glasses.

On subsequent trips to India, she brought more sophisticated equipment, along with other eye doctors. "Now we have multiple optometrists and ophthalmologists on each trip," she says, "which means we can do everything from eye exams up to cataract surgeries."

On her last trip to India, "our team of five doctors saw 750 people in three and a half days. We have to work hard and fast because it takes three days to get there and three days to get out. So we need to pack in as much work as we can in a short time. And even at this pace, we didn't get to see everybody who wanted our help. Many of these people walked for hours to get to us, and waited many hours more in line. And for all of the patients we saw, this was the first eye exam they've ever had."

In the years since the first trip, Dr. Ruelas has returned to India four more times, with additional sojourns to Brazil, Peru, and Lebanon. "I haven't done this in Africa, yet," she says, "but I'm hoping to go there soon." The most moving experience she has had on any of these journeys, she says, "was in a small town in the Peruvian Andes. I was treating a young mother who was so severely nearsighted that she couldn't see anything more than an inch or two away from her eyes. Once we gave her the appropriate glasses, she was able to see her infant child for the first time, after months of holding the baby in her arms. She couldn't stop crying."

The most discouraging aspect of her work abroad, Dr. Ruelas says, "is the red tape, the bureaucratic bottle necks, and the corruption that are everywhere in the developing world. These things make it much harder to do this work than it should be."

Looking to the future, Dr. Ruelas is hoping to build a permanent clinic in Uttarkashi, which will function year-round, instead of only when she and the teams she leads travel to India. "If I can get that up and running with permanent equipment and trained staff," she says, "I'd like to use it as a template to create similar facilities in other countries. Then, I'd like to launch an online portal where medical professionals can browse volunteer opportunities in different countries and sign up for times when they are available."

In the meantime, she is planning another trip to India (with a smaller team) in November, followed by a larger trek in March of next year. "I'm hooked," is Dr. Ruelas' answer to why she undertakes these pilgrimages, which are funded from her own savings. "It's really very selfish, because anybody who does this kind of work gets so much out of it. The people I treat are happy," she reflects. "By American standards, they have nothing, but they love life. So they are onto something that very few people here get."

The article can be found at: http://ebroadsheet.com/Entries/2014/10/1_Local_Optometrist_Bestows_Gift_of_Sight_on_the_Far_Side_of_the_World.html


How Successful People Stay Calm

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

If you follow our newsletter, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as the Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress.

Click here to continue reading.

Are meditation teachers the new career coaches?

Blog Post From Well+Good.

A high-level fashion executive was in a panic. A report was supposed to be on her desk by Monday morning, and it wasn’t. She was angry at the employee and couldn’t let it go. Now, her whole week was thrown off.

So, Jeff Cannon told her a story. Not about how to manage your subordinates, but about a monk carrying a geisha across a river, with a “leave it behind” moral at the end.

His approach to working with CEOs might sound unorthodox, but for the meditation teacher and author, it’s par for the (karmic) course. Cannon’s put the ancient practice into powerful service as a tool in the modern (and often fashionable) work place.

“What I’m doing is teaching people how to leverage this wonderful practice in the real world, so that in the short-term, they can reduce stress, increase focus, and manage distractions,” says Cannon, who’s coached executives at Gucci, Armani, and Harper’s Bazaar.

The method explained in his book The Simple Truth, applies particularly well to business, a group that’s embracing meditation despite lingering New-Agey stereotypes. “You don’t have to start shaving your head, wearing sandals, and dedicating two hours a day,” Cannon emphasizes. “You can still wear Prada and meditate.”

Click here to continue reading.

Ram Dass' beautiful explanation on Meditation

Meditation:

Meditation is basic spiritual practice for quieting the mind and getting in touch with our deeper Self, the spirit. Meditation provides a deeper appreciation of the interrelatedness of all things and the part each person plays. The simple rules of this game are honesty with yourself about where you are in your life and learning and listening to hear how it is. Meditation is a way of listening more deeply, so you hear how it all is from a more profound place. Meditation enhances your insight, reveals your true nature, and brings you inner peace.

A meditation practice is extremely useful in clearing stuff away and letting you see how your mind keeps creating your universe. The ego will keep you occupied with its endless story line of thought forms. Just keep watching them until they dissolve.

Click here to continue reading.