Bucket List

Before the movie “The Bucket List,” which came out 2007/08, I never thought of organizing a list of things I would like to do. It was a new word for me, and the concept was fascinating. My bucket list, or Wishlist as I called it, was elaborate, and I can happily say that most of the items are signed off. There is one last trip I wanted to do, but unfortunately, it is no longer possible.

I wanted to travel one last time to Brussels and Paris to see dear friends. It appears that this is no longer possible, but I don’t readily accept “not possible.” In one of my meditations, the thought popped up that I could make this trip in my mind. I did, and it was amazing and rewarding. In case you have something on your bucket list which you don’t think you will be able to experience, I will share a summary of this mental adventure with you and invite you to go on a trip with me. When you do your mental exercise, it doesn’t have to be a trip. It can be anything. You decide.

Sit comfortably in an undisturbed place, feel your surroundings, quiet your mind, and breath slowly and deeply. See yourself in your home as you finish packing and get ready to leave for your trip. Close your suitcase, look around and go to the waiting car service, which will take you to the airport. Enjoy the ride, allow your feelings of anticipation to fill your heart. Arriving at the airport, check-in, then go through the security check, find your gate, and take a seat. Look around at your fellow travelers and feel the joy, that soon you will see your dear friends. Boarding is called, and you settle into your assigned seat. All is set for a smooth ride. Enjoy a book or a movie, and see your friends waiting for you at the destination. The plane is descending, you tighten your seat belt and get a glimpse of the airport below. With your carry-on luggage in tow, you reach the exit, and your friends are waiting, hugging and crying.

Can you feel it? Can you see it in your mind? The rest is up to your imagination. Make it as colorful as you can and take your mental trip as often as you wish. Play it in as many details as you can imagine. It is your adventure!

I took the metaphor of a trip because that’s my experience and an open item on my bucket list. Look at yours, and you’ll likely find a wish that might no longer be possible in the real world, and that’s the one you can live and enjoy in your mind.

Have fun with it, be as creative as you want to be, and adding some humor does wonders! If it makes you laugh, even better.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Mindfulness

What does mindfulness mean? It means living in the moment and being aware of what is happening, both inside and outside. How do we reach this peaceful state? When we meditate, we slide into this vibration and we are in the Now. Just clearing the mind brings us in contact with this blissful feeling, and we have unlimited access to it. Mindfulness allows us to be kind and non-judgmental towards others and also ourselves.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His technique of Mindful Yoga combines meditation and the traditional Hatha Yoga. It has spread worldwide and helps people to cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn. Major medical institutions have accepted the mindfulness/yoga connection, and it is widely recommended for cancer patients.

Living myself with a rare, progressive and incurable cancer, being mindful helps me tremendously. It allows me to continue a meaningful life, despite the limitations this disease imposed on me. It also makes me fully aware and grateful for what my husband and friends do for me, and I feel deep gratitude for life and the blessings it offers. I am able to live a balanced life, in which I can compensate for the lows and enjoy the highs to the fullest.

In a mindful state we can more intently experience our surroundings, while feeling peace, comfort and wellbeing. Life has its ups and downs, and stress is everywhere. Let’s remember, though, that we have the choice between being battered by life’s waves, or remaining anchored and remaining focused and mindful. We can only live a fulfilled life and help others when we are balanced, loving, and live in the present. A leaf floating in the wind offers no support, it just goes wherever the wind takes it.

We can achieve awareness through meditation. Not only will we be able to live a more mindful and happier life, but we will also improve our health and be better equipped to handle stress. If you haven’t started yet, don’t wait any longer. You cannot afford it.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

And Life Goes On

There are many changes happening in my life, some by choice, some by necessity, but in the end, it all comes down to me and how I see my life unfolding.

Being positive is one of the choices I made a long time ago, and it has been and still is a pillar of how I live my life. It helped me tremendously over the years and is a true blessing with my present health challenge. I remind myself every day that there is nothing which cannot be improved by a positive outlook. Sometimes it takes more than just reminding myself, and then I seek help through meditation and reading. But I always get there and can again feel balanced.

We all have hurdles to overcome, and it is solely up to us how we handle them. Do we become bitter, resentful and blame others or circumstances? Or do we have hope and faith that we can overcome the obstacles? The present might be painful and disheartening, but if you look to the future with a positive attitude, you will find something which you can look forward to and which can strengthen your hope. And then you can maintain positive thoughts that move you to a better place. This is not easy. It takes courage and strength to take responsibility, to admit that in the end “the buck stops here”!

We are the only ones who can bring change, and sometimes we might not be able to, like for example in the case of an incurable health challenge. But we still have choices and can decide if we want to be a victim or a martyr, or if we want to enjoy every day to fullest as long as we can. Of course, it can be tempting to blame someone or something, but what will it achieve? Blaming doesn’t change anything, it only makes us more angry and more negative. And we miss out on the joys of our life’s journey.

I have learned that life goes on with or without me. I can be dragged along screaming and fighting, or I can be a willing participant and enjoy the ride, no matter what. After my mother died when I was 17, I lived through some difficult years, I was definitely dragged along protesting and fighting all the way. I didn’t know any better then, but I still remember how painful and stressful it all was. There was very little happiness. Thanks to the gift of spiritual teachings and teachers, who assisted me in learning how to forgive, to open my eyes and my heart, I was able to leave those negative times behind and to see the beauty of life again. I still practice these teachings and they allow me to keep my balance and positive attitude.

Enjoy life to the fullest!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Resist and Resistance

There are many areas in our lives where resistance is required and welcome so reform can take place. Looking at history, resistance was often the beginning of change. It is not so much a question of whether you share the philosophy behind the resistance, but about the energy it can create.

However, as a life coach, I would like to consider resistance from the perspective of our own personal lives. Let’s imagine the following scenario: You hear or experience something you don’t like, and which is painful. A spontaneous and natural response is to resist, to push back against the unpleasantness and pain. But does resistance help? Resisting and pushing against makes the unwanted stronger, and it affects you emotionally. You cannot avoid thinking about the experience, and it occupies your mind. You become increasingly more stressed, and if you cannot stop this process, you can even become physically ill. Your joy slowly disappears, and it feels like wearing dirty glasses that give a distorted image of yourself and your surroundings. And the question then becomes, “What can you do to get out of this vicious spiral?”

Personally, I like to use meditation and mantras. Imagine your body being blocked by wearing body armor. Nothing can pass through unless you remove the resistance, so that light, love and wellbeing can flow again. How can you do this? One way is to breathe deeply and repeat the mantra, “let resistance go and love and wellness flow”. Visualize the blockage dissolving and being replaced by a stream of light, love and wellbeing. The more often you do this, the stronger you become, and eventually there will be no need to resist or to push against. You are back in balance.

There is nothing wrong with getting emotional and feeling hurt as long as you don’t dwell too long in that stressful place. Kick, scream or do whatever you need, and then utilize meditation and the mantra above so that harmony can come back into your life.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

 

 

Advent

A friend sent me a Jackie Lawson Advents Calendar, and it brought back vivid memories of enjoying this lovely gift last year, as well as my childhood memories from many years ago.

Advent was a very important time for me in my youth, not only because of its religious significance but also because of the family tradition, which I enjoyed tremendously.

Four Sundays before Christmas an “Adventskranz”, a wreath of fresh pine with four large red candles, was placed in the middle of the dining table. On the four consecutive Sundays before Christmas one candle was lit, starting with one candle on the first Sunday and ending with four lit candles on the Sunday before Christmas. This year the fourth Sunday falls on Christmas Eve which will make it very special for me since it was my Mother’s birthday.

In Germany we gathered around the Advents wreath each Sunday evening to sing and pray. It was very spiritual and festive, and I have fond memories of those special times. When Christmas finally came, I was pumped and ready, and the anticipation built up over the Advent was palpable in me.

Advent also brought the “Advent calendar” which served to count down the days to Christmas. In postwar Germany, chocolates and sweets were rare, and the calendar was a special delight because behind each window was a small chocolate, and my joy at finding a sweet treat during every day of Advent was immense.

Traditions are important. They keep our cultures and memories alive. Having lost my mother at 17, and immigrating to two countries with different ways of celebrating, I maintained a few traditions in my adult life. Advent is one of them. Our wreath is not fresh pine, but it adorns our breakfast table and while we don’t sing, Steve and I meditate in the gentle glow of the candles. It is very peaceful and brings joy into our hearts.

It doesn’t matter what traditions we chose to maintain. The objective is to find something which resonates within us and makes us feel alive and connected to our origins and who we have become. Why is this important you may ask? I believe that in order to live a centered and balanced life, the past and present need to flow harmoniously together. Just a few cherished memories can allow us to achieve this goal.

Advent is a great time to get into our spiritual mode and avoid being consumed by all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I wish you a most enjoyable holiday season.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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