Water Meditation

Interested in mindfulness and meditation? Check this out.

Sup pups? I wanted to kick off the week with a Monday morning meditation. A few weeks ago we focused on the trees and this week I’m thinking water.  Remember, our goal is simple mindfulness or awareness. We’re noticing the sensations in our mind, heart and body in the present moment. Watching without judgment. If you can watch yourself and your actions you can control them or at least begin to understand them more fully.

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Similar to the tree meditation, we simply want to notice water. Recognize the significance of water in your life. If you think you’re already there, try giving thanks or offering gratitude each time you receive the positive benefits of water. It’s practically impossible, yeah? It would consume your whole day. Afterall we are more water than blood.

After you finish reading this post, be mindful of your interactions with water today. Think about how you’ve already made use of water. Did you brush your teeth? Make coffee? Wash your face? How will you use water during the next few hours? Maybe you’ll flush a toilet, wash your hands, or do a load of laundry. Beyond using water today, what are you wearing, eating and using that has already consumed water? It takes 1,800 gallons of water just to grow enough cotton for a pair of blue jeans and that doesn’t take into account the rest of the process. A single pound of meat takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce. Water is our lifeblood and yet we take it for granted.

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We tend to only pay attention to water if there’s a problem or scarcity. Water is seen as expendable and probably will be until shortages impact each of us directly. We water lawns, wash cars and maintain golf courses in the desert. We are running the earth dry and it’s starting to become apparent, just read about the disappearance of the Aral Sea pictured above.

Embrace the precious nature of water and treat it accordingly. Katie and I have a sister between us, Kristin, and her and her husband Ryan had a very touching elopement ceremony in which they incorporated a glass jar of water. A few of us were gathered in the snowy Pennsylvania woods one February while Kristin and Ryan held up the glass jug and explained the importance of water in their relationship. Water to them is symbolic of life. When they share their water with each other or their friends, they are quite literally offering them life. Kristin and Ryan never take their offering of water for granted and in turn are touched each time they share sips. Then they each took a sip of water before passing the jar around to each of us in attendance. After hearing Kris and Ryan explain it this way, I’ve never looked at water any differently. Each time someone offers me a sip of water, I find it to be a deeply meaningful gesture. An offering of life.

We all know that water is significant, but do we recognize it fully? Are we grateful? Do we do anything to ensure clean water for our future besides paying the water bill? Try your hardest today to begin to simply appreciate the role of water in your life. No matter the beverage, with each sip, stay present with how the water in it nourishes your body. When you wash your hands, really feel the water on your skin instead of rushing to dry it off. When you move throughout the world today notice the water around you whether it’s a miniscule amount in a plastic bottle or the coastline of the Pacific, but most of all notice that it’s there. Consider yourself lucky. Over 700 million people world-wide do not have access to clean water. Notice the abundance of water in your life and recognize that you are privileged.

 

Photos : 1+2 / 3

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

Sarah Here :

Friyayyy! What the f*ck happened to my week?! I’ll share my Monday alone.. Sunday evening I had an awesome friend date in Philadelphia, I stayed up all night and then drove to the airport around 3:30 a.m. I boarded my flight an hour later, slightly peeved about my middle seat and life in general since it’s 5 a.m. and I haven’t slept yet. I passed out, waking up only when the woman next to me spilled her diet coke all over my leg, and then again when the plane landed. I switched my phone off airplane mode and immediately saw two dozen messages from my photography partner basically telling me *not* to fly to Houston and if I did to turn around and come home. WTF… FML… all the curses.

I got off the plane, headed down to grab my bag, called a couple of airlines and secured a flight home in a few hours. Now what? I had a few options, be grumpy as fuck or get over it. Aren’t these pretty much always the options when life doesn’t go as planned? We can get emotional and upset or we can choose to get over it. We can replay all the ways it was supposed to go or we can be at peace with what is.

I recognized how shitty my day could become if I played into the pity party that was forming at my mind’s door. In that moment I decided to experiment with a mindfulness exercise in awareness. I like to call it Flip The Script, because I’m not that creative and it really is as simple as that. Each time I noticed an inner complaint, grumpy reaction or just pissiness in general, I completely flipped the script. It helped me to be aware of the negative inner talk and then poke fun at it. It went something like this:

  • Identify the negative thought or complaint
  • Turn it into a positive
  • Take a breath and move on
  • Repeat x Repeat x Repeat

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Here are a couple of examples, the initial negative thoughts are in red – while the flipped script is green.

Thoughts as I walked into the food court : Great. Shitty airport food and it’s all lunch or dinner options except Starbucks. Yes! A free pass to eat pizza before 9 a.m.

Thoughts as a huge drop of sauce falls onto my only sweatshirt : Fuck. How will I stay warm and not look like a slob? I knew laying so far back in this chair and eating was a bad idea and yet I did it anyway. Hahaha I’m basically laying down and eating, what did I expect putting forth so little effort to eat a saucy pizza?

Thoughts as I walk through the Philadelphia airport : Wow. It’s 5 p.m. it’s been twelve hours since I’ve been here. I hate this place. I wish I was in RDU (my home airport of Raleigh Durham) I’m so much closer to my car and therefore freedom than I have been all day. You hate Philadelphia? Good thing you don’t live here anymore.

Thoughts as I turn on my car and see my gas light is on : Of course you’d do this to yourself. This is not the first or last time the gas light will come on. This is how you operate. You can get a kombucha when you stop for gas.

Thoughts as I pay $24 for parking at the airport : Cool. I just paid $24 to park here while I spent twelve hours in airports. Today was cool. I would have paid nearly $300 if I left Houston on schedule. At least the parking attendant was super nice. (He gave me Tootsie rolls!)

Thoughts as I sit in traffic on the way out of Philly : 5:30 p.m. could not have picked a better time to drive to D.C. than rush hour on a Monday. I didn’t choose this time to leave. I’ll make it to D.C. in time for sunset. I’ll eat dinner with a friend and meet her two new kittens.

After the traffic cleared and I made my way to D.C. I can’t recall anymore negative thoughts. Sure, they came back after I left D.C. and drove through the night home to North Carolina, but I went ahead and flipped the script every time. Why?

Each year, I read Buddha’s Brain, a book I’ve recommended dozens of times on this blog. I had just read a passage the night before that said, “even fleeting thoughts and feelings can leave lasting marks on your brain, much like a spring shower can leave little trails on a hillside.” When I landed in Houston and got the call to immediately come back east, my rational brain thought, ‘okay this is fine, I’m not going to die, I’m not going to make a bunch of money that I need either, but all in all I am okay and this is just one day in my life.’ Those initial thoughts were helpful in then recognizing that an hour later I had started to flip the script in a negative way and started feeding into the grumpiness after I had already told myself that everything was fine. Why was that? Probably because that’s the thought pattern my brain is used to. Something happened that wasn’t planned that I don’t like, I should be super grumpy about it. Not so.

Buddha’s Brain helped me to understand that how we focus our attention and how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information through our neural circuits can directly alter the brain’s activity and its structure. Knowing how to harness awareness to promote well-being and positive change is the key to working with that scientific knowledge. If you’re aware of negative thought patterns, you have the power to try to change them every single day. 

Actively watching my negative thoughts and flipping the script might seem like a minute action, but these small exercises actually build up to larger changes as new neural structures are built. Neurons that fire together, wire together that’s why it’s imperative to be on your own side instead of adding to the misery. Whenever I’m being a grumpy see you next Tuesday, I seriously ask myself, ‘do I want the bitch muscles to flex or weaken?’ Each of us has a good and a bad side, try actively feeding the one you want to prosper and see what happens. Even if you can’t catch yourself with each negative thought, after you’ve had a rough day or something didn’t go as planned, try to seek out the positive or the benefits and say them to yourself. The best part about my Monday? I realized I LOVE my blue saucy sweatshirt turned inside out better than right side out, so yeah, I basically was granted a new favorite sweatshirt for that whole debacle. Worth it? Sure.

Happy Friday y’all!

 

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Quiet The Mind – Why You Should Meditate

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“Quiet the mind,” this is how I start most of my meditation practices. Take a moment to settle, to arrive, to quiet the mind. What does this mean? It’s such a tough task, for you and for your mediation teacher alike. It gets easier of course, but some days hurtle a thousand thoughts in your direction and you get caught up in trying to hold onto them, to dissect them, to attach to them, to figure out what exactly they mean.

The initial goal of meditation is to separate yourself from your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. Your brain is a muscle that is constantly flexing, it’s comfortable in a tornado of thoughts whether they’re useful or not, your goal as a meditation practitioner is to sit in a calm state with all these thoughts swirling around you. To stay centered while tiny tidbits and major revelations are trying to pull you off your seat. Eventually the thoughts will start to fall away. They’ll live in the periphery and you’ll sit comfortably knowing you can engage if you see the thought as valid or useful, but also knowing you can allow the madness to swirl around you while you relax. These are the benefits of a consistent mediation practice. Internal calm even when the world around you is going up in flames.

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Sarah’s Favorite Mindfulness Books

This post was first published in March 2016, but we’re back today with three new suggestions.

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Namaste 🙂 Want to practice being mindful? I have a little list of books to get you started, or further you on your way, if you’re already a meditatin’ fool. Each time I post something on instagram that is introspective, I feel like I’m preaching a little bit.  That makes me a little self conscious or unsure because I never know how you’ll react, but time and time again it’s been well received, therefore I can only assume you’d like to know more about being mindful since that’s where all these post stem from.

What does it mean to be mindful? To me, it means living life with intention and opening your awareness in the present moment without passing judgement.  It’s kind of like being a screen door on a breezy day. There’s a lot going on outside the house as well as inside, but you’re simply an observer of both. You’re enjoying the breeze, feeling the sunshine or raindrops, but you’re not reacting to either, just enjoying the flow of life.

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My First Year With a Smart Phone

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*flip phone high five*

Slightly over a year ago, my best friend shoved her old iPhone into my hands and said something like, ‘It’s time! Please use this.’ And so my journey began. After a month of constantly charging the out battery and yet loving my new smarty pants life, I decided to man up, and shell out over half a grand for a new iPhone SE.
I grumbled as I walked into the Verizon store, muttered under my breath as I looked at overpriced cases and screens and felt utter remorse as I walked out poorer yet somehow more equipped. After a few purchases on Amazon to protect my pocket computer and several hours of downloading apps and playing around with all the new-to-me features, I fell in love completely. This cycle is somewhat familiar as usually I’m immediately repelled by something or someone only to fall head over heels the next week. It’s odd, yet consistent and therefore I prepared to enter the honeymoon phase.

As a way-late-to-the-game smart phone user, I wanted to share my observations and experiences of my transition. In the past, I was never a phone person. I’d lose my flip phone for days at a time or let my nephew chew on it, only to have his slobber seep in and make it disfunctional and still not really worry about it, but this is more than a phone, it’s a lifeline and its cord is now wrapped around my neck, let me explain to you just how tightly..

As a smart phone user, I fit in. I don’t receive sidelong glances or ‘OMG, you still rock a flip phone!?!’ Comments anymore. I can bring my phone out at work without feeling unprofessional and it’s no longer a topic of conversation amongst all my friends. I’m no longer Schu who has a flip phone. I’m simply Schu.
Where do I begin? Let’s start with my number one love, my profession, photography.

The camera is amazing. HDR capabilities and a front facing camera, holy shit, what a difference. This is both good and bad. I’ve stopped taking my DSLR everywhere, which is nice for my back and my woes about it being broken, lost or stolen, but obviously the images are not the same caliber. Even though the file sizes are quite different and the depth and detail is completely lost, smart phones take an amazing image and this fact shouldn’t be overlooked. The live view photo feature on newer iPhones is absolutely awesome. The moments before and after the shutter clicks warms my heart, make me laugh till I cry or cringe with embarrassment, all of which I’m  thankful to have on record. The best camera is the one you have with you, which makes this little camera great.

My sense of direction has shifted. I used to know where I was at every second of the day. My sense of direction was killer since I’d have to memorize maps and directions, take a mental note of city layouts and be prepared to improvise if a road was closed or nonexistent. Most times I’m aware of my location because I’ve trained my brain to hover above the scene no matter if I’m walking, driving or riding public trans, but there are times now when I’m down right lazy about. I noticed this most recently when I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I drove a motorbike around the city for almost two weeks and yet I had to completely rely on my passenger to tell me exactly where to go. What’s even worse? The city is a perfect grid, not at all difficult to navigate and I had visited before when I was smartphone-less and got around just fine. Those two weeks presented me with the stark reality that I rely on my smartphone too much at times when I should be exercising my brain as well.

I have a record of everything
. I take images and notes of just about everything I do, whether it’s pertaining to travel, conversations or random thoughts, it goes in my phone. I think this piggybacks off my last point, I’m relying on this phone instead of storing info in my brain – is this a good or a bad thing?

All my media is on one device
– this efficiency is welcome. I’m no longer packing a GPS, iPod, camera, flip phone and tablet with me. I haven’t gotten lost in the past year, I’ve taken easily 10,000 images on my phone alone, I haven’t had to be tortured by the radio and I can post to Instagram any damn time of day and we all know that’s the main reason I upgraded to a smart phone.

Group texting and airdrop save me time and help me deeper my connections.
Wow. Group texting alone is enough of a reason to have a smart phone. I used to spend so much time being absolutely frustrated trying to piece together group texts and half the time the subject matter was so unimportant (sorry boos) that it really wasn’t worth the effort. Now I create group chats and talk my friends’ ears off about nonsense without having to decode the responses. AirDrop is a luxury for a photographer, no longer am I feeling guilty about not sending that random person that picture or wasting hours (seriously) editing, organizing and emailing people candids after parties and nights out.

There’s an app for that.
Uber, kindle, mobile banking, Etsy, WordPress, Waze, Airbnb, and the eight airline apps allow me to move through the world with ease. I haven’t been to the bank in months, I rarely have to stand in line at an airline counter for a paper boarding pass and I can blog while I fly. Sometimes I can’t fathom how I got anything done with my flip phone.

Even though my life is markedly more efficient with a smart phone.

I’m very self conscious whenever I’m using my phone while hanging out with family or friends.
I’m constantly apologizing and feeling quite bad about it, which I think is a symptom of using a phone without internet for nearly a decade longer than everyone else. No one else seems to notice or care when everyone is in the same room yet completely absorbed in their phone, but I sure do. I still think twice or ask permission before using it when I’m out at a restaurant or on the job, something that usually garnishes a strange look from my companions.


I forget how to deal with situations without the ease of internet,
for instance, I’m about to land in Adelaide, Australia and I had this moment of realization at the airport that I couldn’t call an Uber without data. Instead of waiting and using a taxi, I went ahead and enacted my travel plan so that I wouldn’t be without the internet.. is the convenience really worth $10 a day to me? Apparently.
I’m constantly multitasking and checking in and connecting, for no reason. Yes, get your shit done, but at night when I should be reading or crafting or watching Netflix (which I haven’t done in MONTHS) I’m fucking around on my phone. I have no idea what I’m doing because it’s definitely nothing of substance. I’m probably flipping through my five emails and three instagrams and for what!?

I need to put my phone physically out of reach or I pick it up.
Why? I’m not sure. It’s an awful habit and I hate myself for it. How did I become so absorbed in a screen after just one year that I managed to avoid my entire adult life?

I was adamantly against smart phones in the past because I wanted a clear line between work and life. I wanted to have to walk into my home office and log on instead of being inundated with work nonsense at all hours, little did I know it wouldn’t be work that would disrupt and call to me, it’s social media and ‘connection’ and hours of redditing instead. Owning a smartphone is a powerful lesson in self control, which I seem to possess very little of.
I’ve learned to set boundaries. I don’t answer work calls after hours if I know they’re not urgent. I’ve turned off all those tiny red notification bubbles so they don’t nag me and I’ve tried (and I fail every day) to open apps consciously not out of habit.

I suppose overall, having a smartphone has made me more mindful of how mindless I have the potential to be. It takes a certain amount of strength and willpower to voluntarily disconnect. I felt superior in the past, as if I didn’t need a smart phone and I didn’t need to be connected and that was absolutely true. I got by perfectly fine, but that doesn’t change the fact that once I became connected, I jumped in headfirst and I’m still trying to come up for air. I’m completely addicted to this tiny internet machine that rewards me with comments, likes and validation even if I detest the whole notion. It’s only when I travel (without access to wifi) that I feel truly connected again. I’m forced to look around, notice, interact and trust myself instead of google. It’s magical and it’s something I’m working on every day wifi or no wifi. I’m curious to see how I’ll transition from a new addict to a seasoned user, I’ll update you in a year, but until then I urge you to become conscious of your use and how it helps or hinders your life and relationships.

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Living The Tao of Pooh

“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”

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Hi friends!  A couple weeks ago, I took a quick trip to Philadelphia to help my childhood friend move into her first home.  As I’m waiting at the airport, I thought of another amazing friend and sent him a quick text, ‘hey, pick me up on your motorcycle!’ I totally expected the text to be the start of another conversation instead of an actual accepted invitation. A few hours later, I’m waiting at the PHL terminal and a shiny blue motorcycle pulls up. I’m handed a helmet, I swing my leg over the seat and we’re off, speeding down I-95 towards the city of Brotherly Love.

After an iced chai and a funny catch-up chat, we headed to his house in my old neighborhood, Fishtown. I sat down and looked over his prints from a recent trip to the UAE, Oman and Turkey. While I could have looked at them for hours, the photo editor in me flipped through them insanely fast only allowing a fraction of the photos to leave an imprint in my mind. I can still imagine them today. I’m excited to see how he uses my favorites, but also the images that I may have passed by too quickly. Photos are magical in that the way in which you use them can completely alter the image and message. Saleem has an uncanny ability to work with his photographs in this manner.

While I was shuffling through the images, I kept thinking of my childhood friend, Steph, the one I was supposed to be helping move in. I was torn in opposite directions, stay and hang out with Saleem who so kindly picked me up from the airport or rush off to Steph’s since she was expecting me. I hated the creeping feeling of guilt so after a quick pitbull play session and a few minutes of chill time in the backyard I said my goodbyes to Saleem.

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