Gratitude in Action

“I am so incredibly grateful that you and your car got us from Portland to this trailhead safely,” my friend Mary stated.

And now it was my turn...”I am so incredibly grateful that I have a refrigerator and cupboard stocked full of healthy foods.”

Another steep part of the hike was upon us, we both went back into the solitude of our minds until we reached flat land again.

I am so grateful for the household that I live in,” Mary said.

I am so grateful that I have my health to be able to do this awesome hike,” I said.

My friend Mary and I have been on many hikes throughout the Pacific Northwest together since I started hanging out with her almost three years ago.  A few weeks ago we ventured on a hike and came up with a new way of hiking. Each time we came upon a new incline to hike up, we had to each think of something near and dear to our heart that we were grateful for and then once we reached flat land again, we’d share with each other what we were thinking. We did it in some back lands behind Silver Falls in Silverton, Oregon.  The trail had many inclinations and there were no other souls around.  I felt so light and as if my body was buzzing throughout the hike.

I have always known the power of gratitude as I have seen it work wonders in others’ lives and my own.  Meditation has helped me to further integrate into the wonderful energy of gratitude. By being so completely present in the moment, everything seems like a miracle.  Of course, the monkey mind comes back quite often (dang it, I’m still human!) But for the most part, ever since starting my meditation practice half a decade ago, everything…a spoonful of delicious soup, resting my body on a comfortable bed, or having a meaningful conversation with a dear friend  have all become moments of gold.

A couple different spiritual teachers that I have been listening to lately have inspired me to start a new daily practice, I made up my own term for it, I call it “3 and 3.”  It’s super easy, doesn’t take a lot of time and is incredibly powerful.  I either do it at night or in the morning when I’m having my coffee.  Basically, I list three things in which I am grateful for, but honestly it’s more than just listing them…I actually try to really feel how deep my gratitude is for them.  Then I list three intentions that I have for that day (or if I’m doing this at night, I list three intentions for the next day.) I have found this to be a very powerful practice because more often than not I reach almost all of those intentions that day.

If that seems like a lot of extra activity to your already packed world, maybe just try to do it for the week.  So before the week starts, list three things you intend to get done that week and three things that you are in gratitude of from the last week.  I have found that actually writing them out, with pen and paper really seems to make it happen.  Do whatever works for you yo, I just hope you do give it a shot and see for yourself!

Peace out!

Listen to Your Heart! And Woah! I did a video?!

​​​​Took a hike to one of my favorite waterfalls and decided to try and attempt something that scares the crap outta me: vlogging!  Click and watch a short 2-minute video done by a rookie.  The message is all about following the heart!

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Walking Revelations…

Yesterday afternoon I went for a two hour walk with a new friend at Forest Park, one of the biggest urban parks in the U.S. located right in the city of Portland, OR. Getting started on the walk, I noticed my sense of thinking forward, as in “I’m feeling kind of lazy and a little down today, I hope this is a quick walk.” Right as I noticed myself having those thoughts I snapped out of it. Noticing how vast this forest was, the happy dogs and people passing us by, I thought, “why would I ever want this to pass me by without taking it all in?” I’m truly starting to get the sense of what “being awake” really means, it’s definitely not wishing for time to speed up so that you can get to another desire, it’s not to dwell on the past and think of things you miss….it’s being fully present in the moment (even if the moment seems treacherous or daunting.)

As our walk went on, we had some of the most intense and deep life talks that I have had with anyone in a while. It was an incredibly meditative walk, the two hours actually ended up feeling like 20 minutes and we both came up with some deep realizations and revelations.

Walking, although it’s pretty simple, can do some amazing things to our body and brain. Last Friday I took a half an hour walk around the block and although I started it in the same thinking mode as yesterday, the whole “I can’t wait until I get this done with,” after just 10 minutes thoughts started just flowing and I wrote all of this down when I got back to my house:

–When something is really upsetting you, or you can’t get your mind past the worry of it, remember that you were a baby at one point….right now, who you are is only temporary….so why let something get you down when you know that EVERYthing is temporary. Don’t waste that energy, let things pass and everything will become lighter.

–If you gain control of your thinking/analytical mind and realize that it has no power over you, you open yourself up to a world you have never noticed before.

–If you let go of the ego, nothing will hurt you anymore…you will have no regrets in what you tell people.

–If you quiet that incessant chatter in your mind, you really start to notice amazing things that you, at one point, took for granted: the way a shadow looks against the sidewalk, the shine on your dining room table when the sun is blaring down on it, the way the moon appears at 3:30 in the afternoon: as if it was drawn onto the sky with a small piece of chalk.

–If you are ever in a negative funk or you feel you are alone, realize that you can never be alone because you are all that you see and every living thing is part of you.

Easier said than done with a lot of this and of course many of these thoughts have already been stated, but remaining present and realizing everything is temporary….moments don’t own you, is ever helpful to remember.

Peace and love,
Ilona 🙂

P.S. in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, I want to leave this with one of my favorite quotes of his:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”