These are the first ten exercises from Already Here: the matter of Love. People requested the ability to print them out, so we hope these are a good start.
EXERCISE 1. A Really New Dawn
GO FOR IT!
Wake up about four minutes early, find a comfortable spot, and give this exercise a shot (or, alternatively, stay lounging in your snuggly, warm bed to do this exercise—you will still feel the results, as long as you don’t fall back to sleep—and maybe even if you do return to Zzzzzz land!). Love and gratefulness feel very similar to me vibrationally, so see where your intuition takes you. When I practice this exercise, it makes a huge difference in my own “reality.” Try it for a few days, and I know you will be surprised at the changes you experience. You may never turn on the news as a day starter again!
Set your timer for three minutes. (I love Insight Meditation Timer.)
Close your eyes, and take in several deep, rejuvenating breaths.
Start thinking of all the things you have to be grateful for, and delight in the feelings these thoughts incur. Anything and everything great you can conjure up is appropriate and welcome. Last night’s view from your kitchen window of neighborhood kids playing basketball. The hilarious joke your oldest son told you. The Meyer lemon blossoms in your backyard. Your raise. Your child’s upcoming piano recital. The delicious tiramisu your beautiful Italian friend shared with you. The start of football season. Anything that delights you!
When the timer rings (you will be surprised at how speedily those few minutes whizzed by), jot down your feelings, even if you can find only the back of a magazine and a broken crayon.
Repeat daily and be impressed by how your thoughts are shifting and how your energy is shifting. People will start smiling at you more, which will make you smile even more, which will make other people smile…you see how this can go!
EXERCISE 2: Love Melt
GO FOR IT!
I recently had a conversation with a quite intelligent, creative gentleman who insisted that Love is not a “real” force. He went on to pronounce that science, however, is “real.” (Curiously, he saw them at odds, science and Love!) I’d gone down the oh-let-me-explain path before I realized I was on it (why do I still get caught in ego traffic?), so as soon as I did, I hopped off. No sense trying to convince someone of the power of Love! Better to intentionally feel it for ourselves and then just radiate it.
The following exercise is one way to actively, internally sense the energy of Love. Again, measuring devices are superfluous…you will know it. Of course, we have all felt Love at some point—hopefully, many points—in our lives, so this little three-minute activity may seem more like reheating than baking from scratch. It is very easy, and it has changed my life in wildly wonderful ways.
Think of how you are feeling at this very moment. Happy? Sad? Mad? Giddy? Just note it.
Stand or sit facing your partner, your child, or anyone willing! (You do not need to have something negative happening in your vibration to make this process interesting, or valuable, or surprisingly delightful, though the “before and after” might be more noticeable to you.) Make sure you are physically comfortable so you can bask in Love instead of having to focus on a foot that’s falling asleep.
Hold the thought of extending Love in your mind. Now convert the intention of Love in your head to a feeling in your heart. Let everything “drop” from your head to the level of your heart. Really feel it.
Start your timer for three minutes of Love.
With your eyes open or closed (it doesn’t matter; just do what feels best for you), begin imagining Love going from your heart to his or hers and back again. I like to connect my heart to someone with an infinity loop pattern.
When the timer chimes, note how you feel. How does the sendee feel? (Writing it down is always a great way to go: that way you will remember better later.)
Enjoy the shift in energy!
There is no right or wrong way to practice the exercise above. Not only will every person experience something different, but each time you practice Love sending, your mileage may vary. In addition, even if you don’t feel anything right away, the effects will show up later, in unexpected ways. Just be open to them.
EXERCISE 3: The Bob
GO FOR IT!
Stand with your eyes closed in a place relatively chaos-free. (If that kind of space is unavailable to you, don’t worry; this exercise can be accomplished just as effectively in the middle of Calcutta or Shinjuku Station.)
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat this calm, conscious breathing pattern a few times while you “drop” into your heart space.
Think of Love. Fill your chest with it. Expand that feeling beyond your body. Think of people and things you Love. Imagine your happiest moments.
Notice what is happening in your body. Is it moving in any direction? Is it shifting noticeably?
Now think of yucky, hateful stuff. (I know, not nearly as much fun.) Conjure up Hitler or war or abused puppies.
What is happening to your body now?
Take in a few more breaths, and remember the Love feeling.
I call this exercise the Bob because people generally either bob up and down or to the front and back of their center. In any case, bodies generally, unexpectedly, move. The typical trend of this deceptively simple practice is that folks will go forward or “up” when tapping into Love, as if being drawn in, or lifted. I generally categorize Love’s “opposite” as fear. (It shows up in such a variety of flavors—hate, anger, violence, greed, jealousy—but fear is at its base.) It immediately pushes people “away,” or down. When my data-loving, super-smart oldest son good-heartedly attempted this the first time, his eyes almost popped out of his head in complete disbelief over “the bob” his body carried out, oblivious to his conscious intention.
So why does that happen? By aligning with the vibration of Love, we are beckoned forward. Invoking Love’s opposite sets us back. Literally.
EXERCISE 4: 3 x 3 (3 minutes x 3 participants: you, consciousness, and the recipient)
GO FOR IT!
This exercise, 3 x 3, is similar to the Love Melt in terms of intention, but it’s even more powerful because the “recipient” doesn’t have to be involved at any conscious level. Here’s how to go 3 x 3–ing, miracle-style:
Think of someone who’s really been getting your goat lately. I’ll bet that person’s name has already popped up for you, hasn’t it? Now set aside three whole minutes to spend peacefully thinking about that person’s good qualities. “Feel” something nice about her. (No being petty: we all have good qualities!)
Grab your timer, and for the next 180 seconds, think of things that person does that are really kind/valuable/delightful to you. This may involve some up-front reframing on your part. For example, rather than being mad that your husband shrunk your he’d-never-guess-how-expensive-they-were yoga pants in the dryer, why not shift to considering how great it was of him to do the laundry?
Send that person Love and gratefulness for offering you the chance to see things from a completely new perspective. It’s OK to wander; just return if you realize you were heading off point.
When your chime beckons you out of the happy thoughts, I’ll bet you will be surprised at how quickly the time flew. More than that, you will have reoriented your viewpoint in a way that the negative thoughts will have a less easy route through your brain.
Repeat this for four days. When you wake up on day five, you’ll be delighted!
One renewed woman reported, “Day two, and I already feel different. My hubby even looked cute when he picked me up at the airport!” (Note: that was a major shift from the previous week!)
EXERCISE 5: Thank-Off
GO FOR IT!
One of my sons dances hip-hop, so we have attended Stand Your Ground dance-offs. They are energetic, Love-filled, and incredibly fun events to watch. They work like this: two dancers perform their best moves “against” each other, in a friendly, in-your-face way. If one dancer pulls out a great move (or two or three), the other dancer tries to reach even higher. The judges vote on a winner immediately, until the winners have all danced their way to the finals to determine the winner. The truth is, we all win, thanks to so much joy being generated in the room!
The Thank-Off game is sort of like that, but without the dancing (well, I’d never tell anyone not to dance, so go ahead, if you feel the urge!). We sometimes play it on the way to school, each trying to come up with better and better thankfulness moves. It’s a magical way to shift any less-than-positive energy, and I love knowing my kids have started their daily education by actively “dancing” with the good stuff.
One person starts by saying something he is thankful for that day. It can be generic (“kind friends”) or specific (“the colorful birthday card our darling first-grade neighbor made me”). They can build on each other, such as “I am thankful for quesadillas” and “I am thankful quesadillas are so easy to make!” They can be totally random. One morning, my oldest son reported that he is thankful for Nicolas Cage. Huh? That started a funny discussion of the movies he has seen, what he thinks makes a good actor, and similar topics. (I was very thankful for the discussion!)
We each take turns naming something that brings up a feeling of gratefulness in our hearts. It’s important to let everyone say anything, rather than “guiding” him/her not to be silly or off-track. There is no “right” or “wrong.” Anyway, sometimes “off-track” can be the biggest thing of all to be grateful for!
Enjoy your grateful day that is sure to be filled with lots of inspiring things that you’ve primed yourself for!
EXERCISE 6: Prime Yourself
GO FOR IT!
We have already practiced “priming” exercises in this book, but this time we will have in our awareness the studies on priming and inattentional blindness (which, ironically, will prime us and hopefully forestall any inattentional blindness!).
Look around your home as if you were in it for the first time. What do you see? Are there pictures of loved ones? Flowers? Kindergarten art projects from the little girl across the street taped to the walls (sure to make anyone smile)? In short, is there stuff you like that creates a prime-you-toward-more-joy ambiance? Or do you have mountains of unpaid bills and projects left half-done and piled high, reminding you constantly that you are disorganized/a bad person/in debt?
Consciously remove what makes you feel bad. Put it away where it doesn’t get to prime you on a regular basis. I’m not saying ignore your bills; I’m just saying it’s a better idea to have them put neatly in some drawer (and pay them as soon as you can) than to have them taunt you hourly by teetering on the kitchen counter. Now replace some of the bothersome items with things that make you happy (and happiness might be pure, unobstructed space!).
By making your surroundings more joy-invoking, you will incline yourself toward more joy without even having to think about it!
EXERCISE 7: Badnesia
GO FOR IT!
When you wake up tomorrow, pretend you have a big case of “badnesia”—that for just one day, you can’t remember a ding-dang bad thing that happened in your life history (or on the planet, for that matter). We’ve all seen movies or soap operas in which amnesia creates a whole new reality for the person experiencing it, as well as for every character around him because he’s just not acting like his “old self.” This is your chance to star in your own miniseries about selective amnesia, without the downside of a head injury or doctor bills. I’m not saying don’t go to work, or ditch your responsibilities, or disregard someone who needs help. I’m merely suggesting that for one day, you wipe your slate clean of a negative past. For twenty-four hours, stop reviewing the history book you call your life, and tell a new story…one with lighter baggage!
Here are some suggestions:
Start your morning with a decision—a proclamation to yourself—to withdraw only positive “investments” (or memories) from your memory bank. There’s nothing valuable (or even slightly interesting, frankly) in complaining to everyone how your insomnia kept you awake since 2:00 a.m. And I promise, “witty” and “delightful” are not words that spring to the minds of those who have listened to that detailed description of your horrible, rotten, no good, very bad divorce for the thirty-seventh time. Moreover, none of this rehashing is helpful to you. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying we should live our lives in deference to other people’s topics of interest. Nor am I saying we should squish down feelings that feel real and are swirling in our bodies. I’m simply suggesting that we avoid actively nurturing the negative feelings. I’m proposing that there’s no helpful reason to review ad nauseam all those it-was-bad-the-first-time-why-repeat-them? events in life. It just doesn’t serve us.
Listen to yourself throughout the day. Become an “objective observer” in your own conversations. Do you complain about your mother-in-law over coffee with your coworker? Do you expect your child to forget his homework like he has done 493 times before, all the while imagining the extra work you’ll have to do if he forgets it yet again? Do you find yourself preparing for “battles” that may never come about? (“Well, if he says this, then I’ll just say that, and…”) Such examples are all based on what you’ve experienced in the past, so gently brush them off, like lint, and go forward without allowing them—or inviting them—to cling to you.
If someone starts to complain that Mary Ann in accounting is driving her nuts—“Can you believe she clips her nails at her desk? And if she has one more phone fight with her boyfriend…”—rather than join in the verbal dump, creatively change the conversation. Consciously elect not to engage in negative chitchat. (And while you’re at it, try not to dis the person who was just dissing Mary Ann. Instead, thank her silently for helping you flex your “repenting muscle.”)
By evaporating the negativity—by simply not engaging it—we create a space for more happiness to enter. (It’s really hard for happiness to find room when we are elbowing it out with all the things that make us mad.)
Enjoy a fabulous badnesia day, unencumbered by the past, and just be in the moment you are in! As Papaji said, “Now is the time to have a direct introduction to this moment. This moment is free of time, of mind, of any notions. Introduce yourself to this moment.”
If you are like most people, your badnesia day probably surprised you. By paying attention, you likely saw some bit of habitual reference to past negativity sneak through your day, and perhaps even whack you upside the head. Our culture currently (though I hope not for long) seems to offer more support for hostility or bitterness (if it’s not too strong) than for happiness. Every newspaper publisher knows that bad news sells better than “wimpy, feel-good” stuff.
But why allow the current norm to keep us from our innate worth and joy? By regularly practicing the exercise above on “little” things, we will radically help repent our experiences to include more positives. Actively looking for better plops us right in its tree-lined neighborhood.
EXERCISE 8A: Peanut Butter Plug-In #1 (Happy residents)
GO FOR IT!
When you wake up, set your timer for a whopping ten minutes of intending a joy-filled day. Joy is the truth about you anyway, so it’s not like you are asking for something you don’t deserve. You’re pretty much just remembering who you are.
For about three-ish minutes, review the specific activities you have lined up, and imagine them—feel them—being wonderful experiences. Mentally go through events you know are on your calendar for the day. If you have a planned meeting with a coworker or teacher toward whom you generally experience negativity, imagine and feel that interaction going fabulously well. Imagine laughing, and enjoying yourself during the engagement. If your day is filled with menial tasks, feel that you do them with as much enthusiasm as if your overall happiness depended on it (because, from a bigger perspective, it does). Has the repairman blown you off for days, and your broken what’s-it really needs to be fixed? Send him Love and gratefulness, imagining how delightful it is to use your what’s-it again. (Then don’t be surprised if he calls you back when the ten minutes are up!)
Don’t set up anything too specific in your brain. Just imagine the “happiness of the happiness” you are intending.
After you’ve done that, imagine light coming from your heart and filling everything you’ve just seen. Just stay in the light for the rest of your plugging-in session. If you start thinking, simply take the elevator down to your heart space again! It’s fine and normal.
When the alarm chimes, practice feeling grateful for a really wonderful day, as if you are at the end of it, gleefully reminiscing.
Have a great plugged-in day.
EXERCISE 8B: Peanut Butter Plug-In II (Yellville Residents)
GO FOR IT!
When you wake up, set your timer for a whopping ten minutes of intention toward a joy-filled day. Joy is the truth about you, anyway, so it’s not like you are “asking” for something you don’t deserve. You’re pretty much just remembering who you are.
For about three-ish minutes, review the stuff that’s going right in your life—or, if there’s not enough for you to find in your life that seems worth celebrating at the moment, think of things that are going right in the world. For example, as I write this, I can look out and see the prettiest sunrise. My son told me the sunrise yesterday was so glorious that all the bus-riding kids on their way to school shouted about it. Now, if grade schoolers—folks who frequently forget to brush their teeth or bring home their lunch boxes—can break free from their oblivion to notice a sunrise, certainly we adults can muster that level of awareness.
If you are reading this, it is likely you live in a spot on the globe that is not experiencing war or anarchy. That’s good! You can read, I assume. How lucky is that! Literacy pretty much puts the world at your fingertips…you can go anywhere in a book! Do you have a place to live? Think about how great it is to have a safe place to sleep at night. Do you have a job? OK, even if you hate your boss and are grossly underpaid in your opinion, you can appreciate the fact that you have employment, which means you probably have food to eat on a regular basis. Just devote a bit of marveling to the really good stuff you forgot to notice before, while you were putting so much of your attention on the other than good (like your crummy car—oh, wait, you have a car! Or how the gal who cuts your hair is always late—oh, wait, you have hair!) . Try to think of Dr. Wiseman’s lucky photo-finding research.
Now breathe in and out deeply two or three times, and let even the newfound gratitude fall away. As you breathe in, imagine moving upward so you can get an even better view of the good stuff when you come out of this exercise. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy.
After you’ve climbed a little higher, imagine light filling you and everything you’ve just seen, and stay in the light for the rest of your plugging-in session. If you start thinking, gently blow the thoughts away. It’s fine.
When the alarm chimes, practice feeling grateful for the really wonderful day you created. Imagine you are at the end of the day, and you’ve appreciated where you live, your job, your town, and the other parts of your life.
Have a great plugged-in day.
If, as you go through your day, you start feeling the peace slip away, recall the feelings of all the light and appreciation you created for yourself only hours before.
EXERCISE 9: I Declare! (A Jelly Plug-In)
GO FOR IT!
About the time you start your day—when you are just putting your feet on the ground, pouring your coffee, or heading out the door—declare for yourself that you’ll be taking your peace with you everywhere you go today. Really, stop for about a nanosecond, and confirm that plan. Claim it.
To punctuate that intention, throw in a word or phrase that will help you recall your plan. Here are a few more possibilities:
• Amen (It means “so be it.”)
• Peace is right here, right now.
• Everything is awesome.
• Yo, self, remember your radness!
Should an “unfortunate incident” occur, threatening to drop-kick your declaration for peace to another continent, just take a breath and remember peace. Call peace back with your power of intention. Feel the peace. Keep breathing until you deeply remember your radness. Now, cement it with your phrase of choice.
Go about your day as if nothing can crush your calm because now that you have chosem to be peaceful and have actively invited and expected peace, it will be there for you. And that is awesome!
EXERCISE 10: Clear the Decks
GO FOR IT!
First of all, please remember that this is just what works for me. You may very well be able to use this method “off the shelf,” or it may lead you elsewhere equally valuable and important. You can do this in a time “set apart,” or when you suddenly remember as you’re hopping out of your car to pick up the cat litter you’ve been meaning to get for three days.
Get quiet. We don’t have to be in a monastery or get everyone out of the house. True quiet is not about what is going on around us. Quiet is the power we carry with us 24/7 (we begin to access it by deciding to!).
Breathe. Oh, wait, we do that anyway…see how natural this is? So maybe a better instruction is to breathe while actually paying attention. No need to think. No need to “do.” Let air flow in and out of your lungs, easily. “Watch” it go in and out.
If, two and a half breaths in, your brain starts shooting you thoughts like “Who’s going to win Fantasy Football at work?” take another deep breath and let that thought flow…like water down a stream.
Keep breathing and just watch. No thoughts, no judgments.
Now add your deepest desire. You may assume it’s having more money, but think about it a little more. That is a little, temporary wish compared to say, peace of mind (POM). Or permanent joy. Go deeper—you deserve more than that! If you proclaim your wish to be POM, that will cover all the other stuff, including worries about money you may have (because money is likely just one of the things to come between you and POM, or permanent joy).
Breathe in the joy, peace, or whatever it is you are claiming. We’ve all claimed other-than-joy for so long, that might feel silly or impossible. Stick with it. Call it yours. When you are done—however long it may be, because it doesn’t matter—feel the POM go with you. (Now you can get the cat litter!)
You can find more exercises in Already Here: the matter of Love.