TOOLKIT

    Here's your storehouse of previously featured "Along Your Path" tools and "Just Today" playdates.  Feel free to copy and/or share them (with the source mentioned, of course) – and enjoy! 

    Archive:  Along Your Path

    Tools for maintaining your balance

    in this ever-tilting world

    Archive:  Just Today

    “Quickie” heart openers and mind refreshers,

    just for today, just for the fun of it!

    Get Gratitude-Specific

     

    Going through the motions on your daily gratitude list?  Want to revive your passion for being here?  Try this:

    1. Go for quality, not quantity.  Plan on finding just ONE lovable being, object or event as today's focus for gratitude.

    2. Get very specific.  Don’t go for categories; go for individuals.  Not “trees,” or even “that maple tree”:  choose a single leaf that calls to you.  Not "birds"; this bird that's singing right now. Not "my house";  one lovely picture or comfortable chair.  Not "the universe";  bring up a pic of just one gorgeous nebula.

    3. Sink in.  Now, go deep.  Look deeply at, and into, that leaf, back and front.  Get a sense of the life flowing through it, how the veins are arranged and why, the incredible chemical dance that makes it beautiful and functional.  Sink into it.  You get the idea.  The birdsong, the picture, the nebula, even a good night's sleep... they all have depths worth knowing.

    4. Connect in gratitude.  Let your heart speak to the being, object or event.  Focus deeply and send your thoughts to it:  "YOU.  Yes, YOU, you glorious leaf.  I see you.  I feel you. I'm glad you're here / I'm glad you happened.  I love what you are offering me right now.  THANK YOU!"

    5. Revisit the experience.  At the end of your day, relive this deep connection as vividly as you can.  Fall asleep in the arms of gratitude and oneness!

     

    Try this with a different love-object each day this week.  At the end of the week, take stock.  Feeling more at one with your world?  Less stressed, more at peace?  Collecting more hugs and smiles?  How else is your life responding to your increased care, attention, love—and gratitude?

    Play the Labels Game 

     

    1. Pick a negative self-label that has been part of your identity (for example, “I’m worthless” or “I’m ruthless” or “I’m selfish” or “I’m an idiot”). 

    2. Ask yourself, “If this were NOT true, how would I behave differently?  How would my thoughts be different?  My words?  My interactions with other people?” 

    3. Then “pretend” that just for today this self-label is in fact untrue.  What would be the real truth, the truth about you as you know yourself from the INSIDE? 

    4. In your imagination, take the old self-label off and print out a new label with the opposite, positive characteristic (for example, “I am worthwhile” or “I am compassionate” or “I am generous” or “I am brilliant”).  Feel yourself putting on the new label, just for today.

    5. Just for this day, practice thinking, speaking and interacting with others as if this new label really is an accurate description of you.  At the end of the day, decide which of the two self-labels you wish to wear tomorrow.

    ​​​

     

    Loving and Comforting the Mind

     

    Part of our mind’s job is to protect us from things. Without this protective mental function, human beings would not have survived very long at all in a tooth-and-claw pre-history.  So our mind has learned to be fearful.  It spends so much of its time being afraid!  Comforting our mind can help it to relax, open, and perceive the larger picture; to accept the unseen support waiting to embrace us.  Here’s one way to do this:

     

    Any time you begin to feel worried, uncertain, confused or afraid, envision or feel your mind as it sits huddled and shivering like a small, scared animal.

     

    Imagine and feel that you are picking up this trembling animal and holding it close.  Stroke it gently and whisper,  “It’s okay, I’m here.”  Continue for a minute or two, until you feel it beginning to relax and settle.

     

    Take a deep breath, breathe love gently into this small-animal-mind, and, still cuddling it, continue with your day. Check back in and reassure it from time to time.

    ​​

    Try this, just today:            

     

    Rename yourself.  If you were adopted into a tribe that uses descriptive names (think Dances With Wolves, etc.) what name would you most want to be given?  Just today, think of yourself by that name.  Does  it change how you see yourself?  How you act?

    Or maybe this:

     

    Exotic info. Try googling something you don’t know and have absolutely no practical use for right now, and memorizing it.  For example, how to say “Good evening” in Greek; or the length and breadth of Ireland in kilometers, miles, or whatever other measurement trips your trigger; or the make, year and model of the largest SUV manufactured to date.  Let this just-for-fun knowledge delight you when you remember it later today. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Or this:

     

    Alphabet gratitude.  Today, find five specific things in your life, your environment, etc. you are truly thankful for: the first begins with A, the second with B, etc.  Remember these A to E items all day, or jot them down, and thank them again for being in your life as you are going to sleep.   Here's my candidate for "C"...

     

     

    Kid stuff.  Today, why not think of something small, fun and do-able you haven’t done since you were a kid, and just do it?  For example:  crossing your eyes, or sticking out your tongue, or twirling round in circles, or trying to whistle through a blade of grass, or lying on your back watching tree branches against the clouds, or flicking the light switch on and off, on and off… you get the idea.

    Use Mini-Milestones

     

    You know to reward yourself for a big job well done. And it’s so much easier to get there when you:

    1. Divide a long day’s work into mini-milestones, small steps that take under an hour, and write each step down.

    2. Beside each step, also write down a mini-reward, something fun and pace-changing to do after completing that one small piece or your project.

    3. Then do it!  Your body and mind will reward you in return, with more energy and greater focus.

    Here are some “reward” suggestions for reaching your mini-milestones:

    • Smell some flowers in your garden

    • Listen to a favorite but little-played song

    • Interact with your dog or cat

    • Call a dear friend and tell them you’re rewarding yourself by talking to them

    • Do some stretches

    • Go for a short walk, especially near flowing water

    • Watch some clouds

    • Throw a Frisbee or shoot some baskets

    • Count the birds in your trees

    • Play your musical instrument (one song)

    • Open and smell three of your favorite spices

    To Give... or Not to Give?

     

    Is it wise to help this person? 

     

    Would the gift of my time, money or attention truly be an act of love—to both them and me? 

     

    One of the tougher assignments in life is learning to balance openhearted, compassionate giving with firm boundaries and self-respect.  And if the people begging for help along the way just happen to be family members or close friends, the task of honoring both yourself and others can be a tough one. 

     

    The True Help Decision Tree below can help with those hard choices.  Feel free to copy it!  I suggest you use this discernment tool any time you receive a big request for assistance and need to know if it’s time to:

    • drop everything and run to offer help;

    • gently refer your petitioner to someone else; or

    • allow them to discover their own strength and resources.

    Along Your Path, continued...

    Stretch Your Change Muscles  (Full Version)

     

    Looking for change but feeling overwhelmed by the prospect?  Here are some gentle, easy ways to welcome the energy of change into body, mind and heart.   Try at least one from each category and notice how it makes you feel.  Then try another; is it easier the next time?

     

    For the Body:  Routine Breakers

     If you have a favorite form of physical activity or exercise, break your routine. For just one day try something different:

    • Try out a new machine at the gym.

    • Add a new yoga pose.

    •  If you don’t usually do anything physically active, take a 10-minute walk in your neighborhood.  Even better, drive to a nearby park and walk there.

    • If you normally walk, find some stairs and climb up and down them.

    • If you normally ride a bike, walk.

    • If you normally run, walk.

    • If you normally work with weights, do some stretches instead

    • If you normally don’t go anywhere near weights, take two cans from the cupboard and play around with lifting them, doing wrist curls, etc. 

    • Dust or wipe just the tops of everything in your home you can reach with a chair or step-stool. 

    • Dress yourself in the “wrong” order:  if you always put your shirt on first, put on the pants first instead.

    • Get ready for bed backwards:  if you always wash your face and then brush your teeth, reverse the order. 

    •  Dress yourself in the “wrong” order:  if you always put your shirt on first, put on the pants first instead.

     

    For the Senses:  New Input

    • Buy a new fruit or vegetable and eat it with attention.  Do you like it?  Does it grow on you?  Will you want to eat it again?

    •  Find a hill to climb.  Let your eyes see everything they can see from the top.  What have you never noticed was there?

    •  Lie face down on the grass.  What does it feel like?

    • Tune your car radio to a music station you would not normally listen to.  Listen, with attention, for at least 15 minutes.  Or, choose a non-preferred type of music (if you like jazz, try classical;  if you like rap, try blues, etc.) and download 15 minutes’ worth of new-to-you songs.  Listen with attention.

    • If you normally listen to music only while doing something else, don’t.  Try doing that activity in silence.  Or, just listen to the music, eyes closed, body still.

    • If you always read or watch TV while eating, for one meal just eat, noticing how the foods actually taste.

    • Re-try a food you tasted many years ago and decided you didn’t like.  How does it taste to you now? 

    • Sniff the tester bottles at an essential oils display.  Choose one you’ve never used that is calling to you and bring it home to try.

    • Lie on the grass and watch cloud-shapes in the sky. 

    • Spend 15 minutes listening to birds.

     

    For the Emotions:  Heart Openers

     Pick one of these things that you haven’t done in the last five to ten years.  Do it with full attention, noticing how it makes you feel.

    • Stop and watch the next gorgeous sunrise or sunset.

    • Buy flowers for yourself.

    • Stand under a tree and look up into the canopy.  Feel the tree’s enveloping presence around you.

    • Soak in a hot bath for 20 minutes.

    • Eat your next meal alone at home by candlelight. 

    • Look in the mirror and let your eyes smile at you, looking back.  Slowly let the smile extend to your whole face.

    • Make an inner gratitude list:  during the day, notice five different things/people/ small events that make your heart sing.  Remember them so that you can write them down at the end of the day.

     

    For the Mind:  New Perspectives 

    • The next time you attend a meeting or workshop, take a chair on the opposite side of the conference table or sit in a different part of the room.  What do you notice?

    •  Find a way to agree—­­honestly—with someone you generally disagree with. 

    •  Choose a field of study you never think about and know nothing about.  Google it. Learn one fact, small or large, you didn’t know and find at least moderately intriguing.

    • Think of an opinion you hold strongly on a topic that really matters to you.  Then write down every argument you can find against your stance.  What would someone on an opposing debate team have to say?  See if you can just write down their arguments without countering them.