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December 29, 2013
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January 4, 2014
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Lessons for 2014: The Owl-Brain and The Squirrel-Brain

     Animals have so much to teach us.  Take for example the squirrel and the owl.   The owl often perches silently, quiet and unafraid to watch the big picture of the world below.  This is a great contrast to the behavior of the squirrel, darting to and fro, in an endless frenzy of paths on the forest floor and through the trees.  Squirrels always seem to be on a hairpin trigger, ready to run. 

     Both characteristics are present within each one of us, as well.  With Christmas just behind us, we have all most likely been like the “squirrel brain,” dashing to and fro for presents and preparations for the big day.  What we do not realize, is that, unlike a squirrel, who has relatively few abstract, higher-level cognitive thoughts, such squirrel-like behavior over days and days by us can send our brain into high gears of racing thoughts as a result of our repetitively frantic actions.  It can be more difficult to stay tuned into the feelings that we have after that great Yoga class, or after meditation.   Some might reach for a pill or alcohol in an attempt to reconnect with the recalming that is needed for that good night’s sleep, or peaceful feeling again, but nothing outside of ourselves is needed.    

     The good news is that, behind our racing squirrel-brain thoughts, there exists a part of our mind that is more like the owl, with it’s stillness, level-headed observation, and bird’s eye views of the world.  The choice is ours, as to which we will more readily identify.   The owl-brain watches what goes on without being in the middle of the action all of the time.  Even if it does decide to attend a frenzied event, there is an air of grace and self-knowledge.  For our owl brain to develop and have our full attention, of course he must be fed regularly with regular doses of attention.  Our owl brain develops into a strong and healthy associate for us when we daily incorporate habits that encourage the owl’s best strengths.  Finding moments of stillness in our day, breathing deeply at regular intervals, listening to music which resonates the same tonal qualities, and doing anything with deliberate loss of the track of time; all of these go to feed your owl brain.   

     As we head into a New Year, and new you, with all of the great anticipation for a new beginning, take your owl brain with you by redefining your outlook.  There need not be a frantic racing towards goals and resolutions.  There need only be an aerial look at the “themes” in which you would like to participate for the New Year.  Doing this will keep the squirrel brain tucked away, and the owl brain ready to assist, as you diffuse your focus to experiences, rather than a checklist of laser-targeted goals. This guarantees you will have more fun and creativity in customizing what experiences would allow you to meet your themes. Choosing a theme for your New Year experience can be anything you would like to represent you in a more significant way.  Mindfulness, Nourishment, Empowerment and Self-Knowledge are just a few that you might select.   If you wanted to have more self-knowledge, for example,  perhaps you would feel inclined to write more, speak with wise elders, or choose books or workshops that lead you there.   For nourishment, your vision might lead you to try more vegetable based recipes, or find a soulful, quiet retreat time.  Either way, you will be leading by your grace-driven, unfrazzled owl mind, and that will add years to your life, as well as more pleasure.

 Read more on “Themes for the New Year”  in this Huffington Post article:

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