For want of wonder

Milky Way against dark sky with silhouettes of trees in foreground

“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” ~G.K. Chesterton

Small children have no problem with wonder. They find wonder in everything they see. But as adults we often lose our capacity for wonder, getting bogged down in the details and responsibilities of daily life.

The wonders of the world don’t go away. We just become oblivious to them, though they surround us at every moment.

If you’re looking for more joy in your days, reconnect to your childhood sense of wonder, and you’ll discover that there’s no lack of wonders all around you!

Everything has beauty

frog and water lily

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucious

It’s so easy to speed through life with such business that we don’t notice the obvious beauty all around us.

It’s even easier to miss out on the beauty hidden in life’s less obvious places—the kindness in the smile of a stranger on a bad day, the silver lining in our dark clouds, air that we breathe even when choked by sadness.

Take time to notice the beauty in your world today.

What do you see?


Posts from other divisions of Chrysalis Wellness for this week

The secret to taming your dragon
from the A Kintsugi Life blog
Soothing Baking Soda Oatmeal Soap
Soothing Baking Soda Oatmeal Soap from Autumn Leaf Botanicals featured products
Black network stone and snow quartz stacking stretch bracelet with sterling silver bead accent
Black network stone and snow quartz stacking stretch bracelet with sterling silver bead accent from the Earthwear Collection portfolio

Second darts

One powerful concept from Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (affiliate link) that I have already made good use of is the concept of second darts. What is a second dart?

Authors Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius describe things that happen to us as the first dart. Our reactions to the first dart become the second darts, and these second darts are the ones that cause the most suffering. These second darts are usually the ways in which we begin to ascribe meaning to the first dart.

For example, let’s say that I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch, and my friend never showed up. Her non-appearance is a first dart; it is what happened. If I go on to tell myself things about this first dart like “she is so irresponsible” or “she must not value our friendship” or “she doesn’t care about me” or “she sure is rude to me,” these would all be second darts. These are all stories and meanings that I am creating in my thoughts to explain to myself why the first dart occurred. And it is these second darts that cause me the real suffering.

Even worse, we sometimes create second darts even when good things happen to us. Perhaps someone compliments us, and we automatically dismiss their praise thinking that they must not be seeing the situation accurately. “Surely if they really knew me, they wouldn’t say anything so nice,” we think. (Goodness knows how often I’ve done that!)

The book provides a good deal of detail about what happens in our brains when we do this. It’s fascinating stuff, but I won’t even try to cover all that here. They go on to talk about how we can change this pattern, which is enormously useful information.

So far, though, I am just noticing these second darts when they occur. Even just the noticing a second dart for what it is gives me enough distance from it to keep it from causing as much suffering. It gives me that space to consider whether it’s really worth holding onto the thought embedded in that second dart. Most of the time (perhaps all of the time?), it’s not.

Watch your thoughts this coming weekend. Where are you creating second darts?

Do you know where your head is?

Our heads are designed to sit neutrally on top of the spinal column so that our ears are aligned with our shoulders. Most of us in this society, however, hold our heads in an unnaturally forward position that creates strain on our necks (often causing headaches), rounding of our shoulders (reducing mobility), misalignment of the spine from its natural curves, and even reduced breathing capacity.

This often happens because of the time we spend on computers and other sedentary tasks that are performed with poor posture. The challenge is that most of us are entirely unaware that we are not holding our heads in alignment. How often do we even stop to think about where our heads are relative to the rest of our bodies? Given the amount of time that most of us spend “in our heads,” it’s ironic that we so seldom know where they are!

Yoga practice can be very helpful in teaching us to become aware of where our heads are and in learning to hold them in a more neutral position. Many postures, like tadasana (Mountain Pose), include a focus on holding our heads in alignment. However, it is also easy to create additional strain to an already challenged neck with other yoga postures are performed without taking stock of our head placement.

Yoga Journal has a wonderful article by well-known yoga teacher Richard Rosen called Get to the Root of Neck Problems that is full of suggestions for ways to use assistance from a partner to discover what it feels like hold your head in a neutral position. Given the many negative effects of holding your head too far forward, it’s well worth the time it takes to find out where your head should be so you can begin to retrain yourself to be aware of the location of your head relative to the rest of your body.

Do you know where your head is?

Do you know where your body is?

That sounds like such a silly question. Of course we all know where our bodies are! Except for the rare out-of-body experiences, we are stuck in our bodies all the time in this life.

And yet, most of us spend so much time in our heads that we often aren’t really as aware of what our bodies are doing as you might think we are. How often are you really conscious of your posture? Are you truly sitting properly in this moment? Are your ears in alignment with your shoulders?

The more I practice yoga, the greater my body awareness has become over time. And yet, I will still sometimes practice a posture in front of a mirror and discover that my body is not doing the posture the way I had thought it was.

I may think I’m performing janu sirsasana (head-to-knee pose) with a flat back until I see in the mirror that I am unknowingly curving my spine forward in the attempt to get closer to my legs. I may think I’m keeping both sides of my torso long and flat in trikonasana (triangle pose) until the mirror—or a photograph—shows me how much much my ribs are curving. These are just two recent examples of things I have discovered that told me that my perception of where my body was and where my body really was didn’t match up.

I see this with my students as I teach sometimes too. I may offer verbal cues about a posture to encourage a student to perform it with greater safety, but it becomes clear that the student thinks they are doing exactly what I am telling them when they are not. Sometimes a gentle touch to assist the student can help when words do not, and sometimes it just takes time for the body understanding to grow. I am still growing in my own body awareness after all these years as I continue to show up on the mat.

This increased body awareness is one of the many gifts of yoga as we come to greater awareness of how we are truly holding and moving our bodies and a greater understanding of how we can improve the ways we hold and move our bodies to maximize our strength and alignment. The next time you are on the mat, see if you can bring a heightened level of awareness to your body. Notice how you are holding your body in each posture. Focus on the ways that you are moving. You may be surprised at what you learn!