Mindfulness in the Midst of Uncertainty

SUNFLOWER
 

Our guest today is Brenda Strausz, a friend and amazing holistic psychotherpist from Southfield, MI. 

The little things? The little moments? They aren't little. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

All of our emotions are our babies. Treat them tenderly, care for them.  Be with them. 
Understanding and compassion will ultimately transform them.
~Thich Nhat Hanh. 

My years of living have finally taught me how little control I really have. I can’t bring peace to the world. I can’t control sickness. I can’t control how anyone behaves. I can’t control what anyone else thinks of me or how they treat me. 

I realize now that the only things I can control are my thoughts, my behaviors and my actions. And that knowledge holds the key to liberation. 

It has not been an easy year for our family and friends. A dear friend and my only living uncle have cancer diagnoses and have gone through difficult treatments. 

 My most precious brother-in-law is very ill and is nearing the end of his life. I have watched in awe as he lives his days. Even though he is uncomfortable much of the time he makes an effort to spend time at the ocean, lunches with friends, tells stories that make everyone laugh and watches his favorite TV shows. People who visit during his rest time get in bed with him as he continues to share his love of literature and philosophy. 

Every caregiver who enters his home walks out the door in awe and in love. He still tells his wife how beautiful she is and thanks her endlessly for her gracious care of him. He is a constant source of inspiration to all of us. He can’t control his illness. But he can and does control how he responds to it. He is alert, aware and as alive as he has ever been in his life. 

Mindfulness allows me to be consciously, compassionately and non-judgmentally present to what is happening only in the moment. It is helping me to understand that worrying about the past or fretting about the future will not bring the peace I crave. 

When I live mindfully, I can be present to life experiences.  I taste the juiciness of the orange I am eating, I notice the sparkle in my granddaughter’s eyes, I bask in the golden warmth of the sun on my face, I admire the grace of the trees bending in the wind. I am grateful for every little thing. 

I see beyond people’s words and into their hearts. I take time to be grateful. I take time to listen. I take time to notice the color of the flowers, the shape of the clouds. 

 I am aware of all my feelings, the good ones, the bad ones, the scary ones. In my awareness, I do not judge, resist or cling. 

Because I am more accepting of the world in general I find myself becoming more compassionate and accepting of myself and of others. 

When my mind starts to tell stories or predict the future, I am able to allow the thoughts to move through me, let them float away and go back to the present. 

My loved ones facing serious illnesses have been a lesson in mindfulness for me.

They have been fully open to their pain, their sadness, their fear. They enjoy a loved one’s touch, the beauty of a spring day, a bird singing in the tree. They laugh at the antics of children and are keenly interested in world events and the happenings of friends and family. 

They have been my greatest teachers of mindfulness. 

 Mindfulness allows me to be serene in the midst of uncertainty. It allows me to see life’s goodness.  When I am mindful, I feel more serene, more spacious, more alive. One day at a time. One moment at a time. One breath at a time.

Affirmations for Present Moment Living

I accept all my feelings.

I radiate peace and good will.

I offer love and appreciation to everyone I meet today.

I appreciate all of my blessings.

I stand tall and sturdy like a tree.

I let go of things I cannot change.

I choose peace in every moment.

I am a walking beacon of life and kindness.

I bless everyone I meet today.

I see clearly the beauty in everyone and everything.

I see the beauty of me.

I deserve to be happy.

All beings deserve to be happy.
Creative Commons License photo credit: cubanjunky

Brenda Strausz is a holistic psychotherapist with a practice in Southfield, MI. She combines traditional and alternative techniques to help you live with more ease, joy and freedom. Her belief in the healing power of love and forgiveness guides her work. She can be reached through her website at www.BrendaStrausz.com or dearbrenn@aol.com You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Brenda's Workshop Announcement

Free Teleclass: Living Mindfully: Finding Calm in the Midst of Uncertainty

Date:  Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Time: 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

E-mail me @dearbrenn at aol.com or call in information

Please share your comments with us below!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joy June 20, 2011, 7:34 am

    Hi Brenda,
    It is wonderful to see you here! I love the photo, love the wisdom you share..Open your heart to love and release all else..in this moment, because this moment is what we *know* we have! Your article affirms to me all that I hold dear in my heart..and these affirmations are delightful for me to remember there is a community of love..right *here*…
    Love to you, Brenda, and you too Tess..two ladies you absolutely *rock*!

    • Brenda June 20, 2011, 8:26 am

      Joy, thank you so much…been a bit out of touch of late but think of you so often. Mindfulness has been a great way of life for me of late. I choose peace in every moment…you more than anyone know how to do this…plus joy!

      Lots of love is sent to you over the miles!
      Brenda

  • Carolynn June 20, 2011, 7:57 am

    So sorry to hear of all the trials you & your loved ones are enduring. This is a wonderful reminder to me, as I begin a transition of my own. The hardest state for me to achieve was that of ‘surrender’. I haven’t quite mastered it yet, however, surrendering to what is, carries power in it. Thank you for this wonderfully tender article.

    • Brenda June 20, 2011, 8:28 am

      Carolynn, so sorry you are going through trials now. Surrendering takes alot of practice but just knowing that the possibility exists for us makes a difference. I am thinking of you and sending loving thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your sweet comments.

      Love,
      Brenda

  • Maya @ Ms Buddha June 20, 2011, 9:00 am

    Beautifully spoken! One important part of mindfulness to me is also that I am not my thoughts and feelings, but the observer of them, which so much nurtures the connection to my bigger self, or soul. And I so agree with Brenda. It takes a lot of practice…, and for that we need passion for mindfulness which you seem to have… amidst difficult circumstances. Very inspiring!

    • Brenda June 20, 2011, 10:30 am

      Maya,so important to learn to be the observer of our thoughs so we are not sucked in. Why don”t we learn this in school? I like your comment “my connection to my bigger soul”.. It feels good just saying it.

      thank you for your comments and have a great day!

      Love,
      Brenda

  • Galen Pearl June 20, 2011, 9:00 am

    I am going through transistions, too, not bad ones, and some of my own choosing, but still…mindfulness keeps me grounded. I’m participating in Shambhala training this year which is basically all about mindfulness. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to stop telling myself stories! Or at least to not attach so much to the stories. Very helpful advice. Thank you.

    • Brenda June 20, 2011, 10:32 am

      Galen, we sure are good at telling ourselves stories, aren’t we? And they can get bigger and bigger. The Shambala training sounds awesome which will be so helpful for you in your time of transitions. Good luck!

      Love,
      Brenda

  • Maya @ Ms Buddha June 20, 2011, 9:03 am

    Sorry about my confusion there with the name, Brenda! I meant I agree with YOU!

  • Alex | Perfecting Dad June 20, 2011, 9:06 am

    This is a great post. Dying people, paradoxically, can teach us all how to live through either leading a good example, as your brother in law, or by showing us how not to do it. Once we realize we’re mortal, things change. Thanks!

    • Brenda June 20, 2011, 3:11 pm

      Alex, you are so right about that. My brother-in-law is a great teacher for our family. I am so in awe of him!~ He will be sorely missed.

      Thank you for your commnet!

      warmly,
      Brenda

  • Marci | Liberating Choices June 20, 2011, 11:18 am

    People amaze me. How a person facing illness and possibly death can accept it yet not let it define them, is amazing to watch and learn.

    Being mindful is beauty, when I do it!

    • Brenda June 20, 2011, 6:47 pm

      Marci, It is amazing to watch someone dying with grace and dignity. he is a teacher to all of us~~!

      Thank you for your comments!

      Warmly,
      Brenda

  • Angela Artemis/Powered by Intuition June 20, 2011, 6:00 pm

    Hi Brenda,
    This was an amazing post. I love all the affirmations you gave us. I found it resonated deeply with me. Learning to observe our thoughts and not engage in them is the key to freedom! Once we learn that we don’t have to allow ourselves to become emotionally entangled with our thoughts we’ve found the secret to living a calm, centered and happy life. Thank you so much for all your insights.

    • Brenda June 20, 2011, 6:49 pm

      Angela, it took me a long time to realize that I didn’t have to be a slave to my thoughts. But oh, what freedom when you can practice distancing from them.

      thanks for your comments!

      warmly,
      brenda

  • Susie @ Wise At Work June 20, 2011, 6:13 pm

    Hi Marci.

    Last year at this time I was finishing a treatment triathlon for cancer. During the hills and vales of intervention, I realized that when my experience was more stories than what was actually occurring, I needed a gentle nudge. I would look at my thumbnail to give myself focus and ask “what is wrong with this moment?” Without fail, each time I was brought back to mindfulness — with each moment being absolutely perfect. To me it’s deepening this still point that sustains us in our experiences of life.

    Your message is a great reminder wherever we are on the health spectrum to appreciate this moment. Blessings to you and your loved ones as you learn gracious ways to relate to new experiences. I am so inspired by your brother-in-law.

    Thanks so much.

  • Brenda June 20, 2011, 6:52 pm

    Susie, This is really mindfulness in action. It seems like you found a great way to not let your thoughts create scary stories. I have to agree that I have never met anyone like my brother in law…it will be sad to not have him around (on earth anyways). I hope that you continue to heal and thrive.

    thank you for commenting and sharing.

    Warmly,
    brenda

  • Betsy at Zen Mama June 20, 2011, 8:30 pm

    Brenda,
    I love your affirmations! I try to be mindful all my life but it isn’t always easy! I will use your affirmations to help me. You have great quotes, too. I’ll definitely go and check out your website. Great guest post, Tess!

    • Brenda June 21, 2011, 2:19 pm

      Betsy, Thank you for your kind words. Affirmations do help … and they are such a wonderful thing to have moving through your mind, body and soul!

      Take care…(Love your name :Zen Mama!)

  • susan June 21, 2011, 7:29 am

    Hi Tess! Wow, super guest, great post and affirmations! In the midst of chaos or emotional trials it sure is “test” time for keeping up with mindfulness and gratitude. Going thru my own presently with my aunt dying – she was my mom substitute for many years – so it was especially nice to read thru the list here and say ahhhhh.
    hugs
    suZen

    • Brenda June 21, 2011, 2:21 pm

      SuZen, I am so sorry about your aunt going through this.,..so hard to watch someone you love so much die. I am glad the affirmations helped. Words are very healing…

      Love the play on words with your name.

      Love, Brenda

  • Joe @ shake off the grind June 21, 2011, 9:48 am

    Brenda,

    Thanks for the wonderful post and for the present moment affirmations. I have working to be more mindful in everything I do, from eating, to walking, to actually working. It seems that when I am being mindful it tends to help me slow down in general. This doesn’t mean I can’t be efficient but simply helps to not always be mentally rushing with thoughts racing. Mindfulness is a wonderful practice that holds the key to greater emotional and physical health.

    • Brenda June 21, 2011, 2:23 pm

      Joe, thanks for your kind words. it is so nice to be mindful. I remember the quote from the movie “The Color Purple”. It was something like, “I think God must be pissed if you walk through a field of purple flowers and don’t notice.”

      Love,
      Brenda

  • Melody | Deliberate Receiving June 21, 2011, 10:32 am

    This is amazing timing. I just coached a friend through a relative’s slow passing. She finally made her transition a couple of days ago. My friend was fine, but had a hard time with the family, who could not let go. We view death as this horrible thing, although we’re all going to go through it. What I find is that people who are close to death often get so fully connected that they’re calm at at peace while their loved ones are barely holding on. The ones who are dying know that they’ll be ok. I take such inspiration from that.

    Thanks for the reminder to stay in the moment.
    Hugs,
    Melody

    • Brenda June 21, 2011, 2:26 pm

      Melody,

      What you said means alot to me.So nice that you helped to coach your friend. I think in the time before dying people are in a very holy place. You are right, it is very inspiring~ And helpful to know that love never dies…it only changes form.

      Love,brenda

  • Andrew Olson June 21, 2011, 1:24 pm

    Beautiful post, thank you Brenda.

    It reminds me of a quote from Eckhart Tolle: “When you become comfortable with uncertainty, in?nite possibilities open up in your life. If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.”

  • Brenda June 21, 2011, 2:43 pm

    Thank you for your kind words and for the awesome quote! I put it on my facebook page! It says it all doesn’t it?

    Love,
    brenda

  • Janice Scissors June 21, 2011, 3:46 pm

    Thank you for the reminder that the only control we have in life is our own thoughts, behaviors, and actions. With my own diagnosis of cancer 3 years ago I’ve had to work on how to control my thoughts. Although I’m doing fine now there is always that uncertainty.

    A year ago my mother had a stroke which left her in a wheelchair. Her anger, meanness, and controlling attitude has been mainly directed at me and her live-in caregivers. Both my sisters live out of town. It’s been a tough year but I have learned to adjust my own actions and thoughts to her behavior.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. Your brother-in-law is an inspiration on how to respond to any serious or terminal illness. He is truly an unselfish person by making the end of his days as happy as possible not only for himself but for all of his family and friends.

    • Brenda June 23, 2011, 4:58 am

      Janice,

      I am sorry to hear about your mother. I am sorry that you are the brunt of your mother’s anger. And I know how it is to be the only caregiver in town. I am glad that you are taking care of yourself by adjuting your own actions and behaviors. Life’s hard stuff.

      thank you for your kind comments.
      Warmly,
      Brenda

  • rob white June 22, 2011, 7:56 am

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom in your time of uncertainty. Indeed, our actions are our only true belongings and choosing mindfulness makes us as solid as an oak. It is a great benefit not only for yourself, but gives comfort and ease to those closest to you. When they see you practicing mindfully, they too can have a sense of comfort and stability when everything else is uncertain… what a gift.

    • Brenda June 22, 2011, 4:37 pm

      Rob, it is amazing how our energy affects everyone around us. So it is good if we keep it of the solid oak variety. Thanks for your comments!

      Warmly,
      brenda

  • John Sherry June 22, 2011, 10:27 am

    Top quality message and meaning Brenda. The only thing for me is that I always thought the word mindfulness doesn’t match the ethic – perhaps it should be mindfreeness? Then we are liberated to simply observe what life drifts by like a cloud in a bright sky.

    • Brenda June 22, 2011, 4:35 pm

      John, thanks for your comments. It is a bit confusing…like mindfreeness…and love the analogy of clouds drifting by…or leaves floating down the river… gently..slowly…

      thanks,
      brenda

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk June 22, 2011, 8:10 pm

    Thank you for your insightful post. Sometimes it takes a painful event for us to realize what we do and do not have control over. How wonderful that your brother-in-law has found peace at the end of his life. It is these moments that makes us realize how precious life is, and to live each moment to the fullest.

    • Brenda June 23, 2011, 1:01 pm

      Cathy, So hard to learn the lesson. We all can take heed and grab the joy every day…so easy to be so busy that we forgot to give life our all!

      Hugs,
      brenda

  • Peggy Nolan June 22, 2011, 9:25 pm

    Dear Tess,

    Thank you for sharing and introducing us to Brenda. This is a beautiful post – one that I will read again tomorrow. Brenda – your brother-in-law sounds like someone I’d like to know. Thank you for sharing his compassion and love with us.

    Peggy

    • Brenda June 23, 2011, 1:03 pm

      Peggy, You are so welcome. He is such an unusual person…he is a great teacher to me and our whole family. His newest caretaker is totally smitten.

      hugs,
      brenda

  • Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord June 23, 2011, 5:56 am

    What a precious, wonderful story and set of lessons to share. Thank you, Brenda! I do my best to live mindfully, but then sometimes purposefully distract myself. I’m aware of this, and aspire to live mindfully more often than not. You listed some great affirmations, and your story is a great inspiration. You have a gentle way about you; thank you for sharing it.

    • Brenda June 23, 2011, 1:11 pm

      Megan,

      Love your name…Joy girl..they call me Joy Lady around Detroit. It is not always easy in this fast paced world to be mindful but so nice we strive for it. I am glad the story inspired you.

      hugs,
      brenda

  • Amanda @ 36broadway June 23, 2011, 3:19 pm

    Yes, yes, and yes! Brenda, thank you for this. Being mindful and present in every moment is the difference between a life of struggle and peace.
    The affirmations are wonderful.

    • Brenda June 24, 2011, 5:05 am

      Amanda, thank you for your kind words. I love your statement that mindfulness and presence is the difference beetween a life of struggle or peace. that says it all!

      take care,
      brenda

  • Andrew Walker June 30, 2011, 11:33 pm

    Hi Brenda. It’s a really nice sharing.
    Yes you’re right. We need to be always mindful, whereever we are, no matter how bad our condition is.

  • Val July 3, 2011, 9:28 am

    I agree- the only thing you can control are your thoughts and actions – and when life feels especially stressful sometimes even controlling those two things is an extreme challenge. Taking a few moments to focus and get present can really shift your energy and make difficult times easier to get through. Blessings to you and your family during this difficult time. Val

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