Day 33 of the Feast
Dear One,

There are many meditation teachers I recommend, and Pompe Strater-Vidal is one of them. She teaches from the Zen tradition. I am sharing a message of hers with you because I woke up thinking I'd write about equanimity, and then she did! It was right there in my inbox, so I asked if I could share it with you and she said yes.... Pompe writes :

"I never really liked the word equanimity. It seems like an awkward word, difficult to spell and pronounce. I preferred the word balance. Then I realized that equanimity means the wisdom of equality. A balanced mind is an open mind, with an open heart. 
An open heart accepts everything equally, with love, joy and kindness. An open mind sees everything as it is. That is the wisdom of equanimity. It is a quality of non-duality, and of unity, where opposites are seen as two sides of the same coin. 
Envy is the biggest emotional block to equanimity. You feel that something is missing, and see it outside your self, whether it’s a new car, or the perfect body. You are lost in the belief that what you have, and who you are, isn’t good enough. You see the world as the haves, and the have nots. This is a miserable place to exist.
The fastest path back to balance is focusing on what you have, instead of what you’re missing. That’s why gratitude is so powerful. 
The next time you are unbalanced and out of sorts, think of something you are grateful for, something simple, like a beautiful sunset, or a favorite animal, even a pet. Come back into balance. Love, joy, kindness and equanimity are the qualities of an open heart and an open mind."

Find out more about Pompe on her website, here.
Thank you for putting your spirituality first during this time of deep practice. I am practicing with you.

Love, Sarah

Sarah McLean
Director, Feast for the Soul, Inc.
Sedona, Arizona

P.S. Thank you to those of you who have donated to keep the Feast alive! The Feast is cost-free and commercial free. It's open to anyone who wants to join. You are never asked to buy or upgrade. Our overhead is low, since everyone (but our web-designer and this email service) works absolutely free. Our operating budget is less than $6000 a year. If each person who observes the Feast donates 50 cents, we'd be golden! Click this link if you feel moved to donate.
Meditation Teacher Highlight
Anne Sussman, the author of “The Bliss Buddy Project- How Sharing Gratitude Increases Joy," is a new faculty member for the Feast.
"Each day we are new and can choose how we show up for our lives. For me, holding fast to my meditation practice allows me the opportunity to show up shiny and new, letting go of expectations.
Anne offers a beautiful meditation series for the Feast: Meditations for Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude. Ann says she wants to walk through this world with a thirst and love for life, with presence and holding all her experience with kind attention.
Spiritual Practice Tip
Do you use meditation as a vitamin or as an aspirin?

Ideally, meditation is to be used to create an established sense of peace, not to treat a stressful situation when it arises. However, stressful situations do arise!

Though meditation can prevent reactivity and the build-up of stress, sometimes you need a quick fix -- a prescription for peace -- especially if you are feeling trapped in a stressful situation. It's not always prudent to dropb whatyou are doing to sit down and meditate.

Instead, you can use one or more of these simple practices I've put together called Peacefinder Practices that you can do to find some peace. No one even has to know you’re doing them.

Practice each of these exercises below as you read them. Each takes less than a minute. You’ll have them on hand when you need to refresh your attitude or shift your body’s stress response.
·       Close your eyes: You can usually close your eyes without being noticed, even if for only a half a minute. Try it now. The outside world takes a backseat while you go within. You almost instantly regain a sense of balance and relaxation.
·       30-second body scan: Bring your attention to how your body feels, sitting or standing, right where you are at this moment. With your eyes open or closed, scan your body from the top down, front and back, relaxing as you go. Relax your forehead, your eyes, your mouth, your tongue, your jaw. Lower your shoulders and relax your belly. Bring your attention to your hands, then your feet. In less than a minute, you can feel better from the inside out.
·       Feel your breath: You can find inner peace with your eyes open, too. Focus your attention on your breath as you slowly take in a deep breath through your nose, then, let it out slowly through your nose. Pause for two seconds, then repeat. Holding the breath after you exhale helps counteract stress patterns of shallow breathing or holding the breath in. In, out, hold, repeat.
·       Count your breaths: Eyes open or closed, it might help to silently count your breaths. In, count one; out, count two. Count your breaths all the way to ten. The mind might wander, but simply keep focusing back to your breath and counting. This calms your nervous system.
·       Pay attention to each one of your senses: What are you hearing in this moment? What are you feeling? What are you seeing? What do you taste? What do you smell? By paying attention to your senses, your focus can shift back to the present moment just enough to relieve stress.
·       Say a prayer or affirmation: Silently repeating a prayer or an affirmation can immediately shift your focus from a stressful situation to peace. Slowly say a prayer in your mind or repeat an affirmation. All is well, I’m doing the best I can , and Peace can be found here and now , and This too shall pass , are good examples. You can also choose a single word, like One, Relax, Trust, or Calm . Repeat seven times.
·       Smile: Give yourself a smile (don’t grimace.) Smiling releases endorphins that reduce stress and help you feel better. Studies have shown that even faking a smile can lead to feeling happier. Even if it feels strange at first, make it a point to smile more often.
·       Slow down: Do one thing at a time, move a little slower than usual. Get up from your chair more deliberately or walk a bit more slowly—you’ll find that this helps ease the tension, brings you back to the present moment, and relaxes your mind and body.
·       Excuse yourself: If you’re unhappy in the moment, or if you’re around people who are unhappy, the discomfort can be contagious. Whenever you notice signals of stress in your body, simply excuse yourself, “I’ve got to get back to a project,” and walk away. That project is your inner peace. Go outside, back to your desk, or head to the bathroom. Once there, use one of the above techniques.
Living the Feast
Here is a beautiful video from Thich Nhat Hanh about loving yourself. Take some time for a little self love today. Breathe in and breathe out and love yourself.

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