Step 1: Your Conscious Living Begins When You Stop

We live in a crazy, information packed, fast-paced, high density world pushing us to do, do, do. Creating a life of conscious living begins when you stop.

Time to Stop

We rush from place to place, project to project, person to person, text to phone call to email to text, and start all over again. Like a hamster on its wheel, the running is endless. That is, until we choose to step to the side and Stop. Conscious living means we are aware of ourselves and our world.

Stop to Breathe

As we are running around in this hamster-run we call life, sometimes we are happy. We feel our work is making a difference, and we feel fulfilled. We laugh, we enjoy friends, we feel love. Yet there is so much pressure to keep up with what everyone else is doing – To be there in case something happens – To be sure to be prepared for whatever could happen – To be able to share what happens – To be able to help whether we are needed or not. For whatever reason, we keep running to keep up. Who knows what we might miss if we didn’t!

Aren’t you exhausted? Why don’t you take the time RIGHT NOW to stop. Just for a few seconds. Just stop. First, Stop. Then Breathe. Take the time to stop and breathe.

And then pay attention to your breath, and your body as you breathe. All that running often requires that our muscles must tense, and our energy must be on alert.

Conscious Living: Being in the World

Conscious Living: Being in the World

Stop to Listen

In this moment of attention, listen to the thoughts that come to your mind. Give yourself the honor and respect to listen — to you. Sometimes you  may hear criticism and urging to start up again. Let those thoughts just float away. Acknowledge them, and let them go. Listen instead to the thoughts that are positive, supportive, loving. Listen to the thoughts that tell you what IS, and that hold behind the words a gentle yet firm support that you know what is needed. Listen to the messages to make choices that are Yours, and not someone else’s.

Stop to Feel

The body is an amazing computer with a mind of its own. I believe it does not lie. Listen to what your breath and muscles and nerves are telling you. Be open to knowing what you are feeling physically. Where are your muscles tense? Where are you holding or compensating? Are you holding your breath? Do you feel pain?

Scan your body. Are there areas where you cannot sense much – areas that are like blank spots? You know they are there, but are not aware of them? Sometimes it’s the back, or the backs of the thighs, or any place where you don’t normally expend any energy. Just note these places to yourself.

Then check what your emotions are in this moment. Are you happy? Excited? Sad? Depressed? Apprehensive? Whatever emotions you feel, acknowledge them. They are yours, ready to help you decide and understand your next step.

Stop to Be

Do, Have, Be. “If I Do X, then I will Have Y, and I will Be Z.” However, now we know this is backwards.

Be, Do, Have. We must Be what we envision so we know what to Do that we are here to do so we will Have what we want. That is the core of a Conscious Life.

How do you Be? Well, you are doing it right now.

Stop. Breathe. It is in this moment that you are conscious of Being. No forward movement,no worrying about the future, no focusing on the past. Just being. So be here now. Then listen and feel. And make your choice for the next moment.

So in order to begin living a conscious life, allow yourself first to Stop.

 

 

Giving Thanks in 2014

Thanksgiving Sun 2014 by Baylan Megino

“Thanksgiving Sun 2014” Copyright 2014 Baylan Megino

Before this day is over, I want to Thank You for Being.

Before this weekend is over, I wish you and your loved ones time to connect.
Before this month is over, I wish you an abundance of opportunities to see how much of true value you already have, and that you continue to bring to the world.
Before this year is over, I wish you great clarity on the path forward.

And know
To live each moment is a gift.
To connect can be a lifeline.
To know your gifts can bring you peace.
To share those gifts is to make possible a better world.

I thank you for breathing.
I thank you for being a gift of light.
I thank you for showing me how wonderfully magnificent you are.
I thank you for sharing space with me.
Thank you.

Blessings, light, and peace,
Baylan

“Thanksgiving Sun 2014”
copyright 2014 Baylan Megino

Bioneers Nina Simons: A Masterpiece Profile

Masterpiece Profiles begins with Nina Simons of Bioneers. Working for environmental sustainability and empowered women’s leadership for more than 25 years, Nina is global visionary, a shining beacon of light in an ever-changing world. She is co-editor of the anthology, “Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart,” and has spoken in numerous national and international gatherings for leadership and environment.

Founded in 1990, Bioneers holds an annual conference where thought leaders gather for social, cultural, and environmental change. Nina’s efforts to strengthen women’s leadership have resulted in the residential trainings, Cultivating Women’s Leadership.”

In our short time together, she was gracious, warm, interested, flexible, and patient. All this amidst running the largest annual global gathering of planetary change agents.

Find out more at http://www.NinaSimons.com

Baylan Megino: If you were to identify one issue that is the most pressing right now for us to address, what would you say?

Nina Simons: Well, I am a woman who has addressed many issues in my life, and many, many of them are important to me. And yet if I think I had to pick one, it would be unleashing the capacity and power of women to stand on behalf of our mother, the Earth, and on behalf of the love and the world and the caring that we know is needed to move forward in a healthy and conscious way together.

And that because we are more than half the world, really helping women stand alongside and with and at each others’ backs across the difference of race and generation and class and ability and education — to really stand together on behalf of the world we know we want and need — that would be it.

Bioneers Mission – from the website

Bioneers is an innovative nonprofit educational organization that highlights breakthrough solutions for restoring people and planet. Founded in 1990 in Santa Fe, New Mexico by social entrepreneurs Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons, Bioneers has acted as a fertile hub of social and scientific innovators with practical and visionary solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. A celebration of the genius of nature and human ingenuity, Bioneers connects people with breakthrough solutions and each other. Our acclaimed annual national and local conferences are complemented by extensive media outreach including an award-winning radio series, book series, and role in media projects such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The 11th Hour. Our programs further focus on Women’s Leadership, Indigenous Wisdom, Community Resilience Networks, and Leadership Development and Youth.

Visit the Bioneers website at http://www.Bioneers.org

7 Things to Avoid on the Way to the Philippines

by Baylan Megino

I didn’t plan on getting stranded in the Philippines. It was only supposed to be a three-week trip. Yet the pace of life and how things are done in this tropical paradise required that I stay as long as necessary.

From the United States, three weeks seemed enough time to explore my roots, meet artists, arrange my mother’s veteran’s spousal benefits and hold a few exploratory business meetings. However, eight weeks later, what was actually accomplished was very different from my original list.

In the process, I learned how to live and make my way around Metro Manila. Before sharing tips on living in one of the most populous cities of Southeast Asia, here are seven things NOT to do on your way to the Philippines.

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your papers in order. I learned this the hard way. My departure was moved forward several weeks, so I couldn’t wait for my passport to be processed by mail. A passport is needed to apply for a Philippine visa. It took two days for me to gather and personally submit the official documents required (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html). (Note: Because my name had changed after my divorce, I had to provide divorce/court documents, or a number of statements or bills going back a few years with my “new” name.) Several companies will charge more than $200 to handle expedited processing, in addition to the government’s regular and expedited passport fees. I opted to save that money for travel expenses. Of course, there still was an expedited processing fee, and it took several days for my passport to be ready. Advice: Submit your passport application at least eight weeks in advance.

2. Don’t buy a one-way ticket. This seems straightforward, but because I didn’t know how long it would take to handle my mother’s affairs, I bought a one-way ticket. To receive a visa, the folks at the Philippine Consulate needed a document that showed I intended to return to the U.S. I spent a few hours finding a travel agent who could provide an acceptable document. Advice: Buy your round-trip ticket and be ready to show proof of travel plans.

3. Don’t sleep in when you’re going to the Consulate. Generally, in San Francisco at least, documents submitted to the Philippine Consulate early in the morning are ready for pickup in the afternoon. You may get lucky and have your documents out before noon. If you arrive after lunch, expect to pick up the next day. Requirements for a Non-Immigrant Visa are at http://www.philippinessanfrancisco.org/philippines-sf/consular-services-sf/. It’s a good idea to get at least four 2”x2” pictures of yourself. Advice: Submit your paperwork in the morning.

4. Don’t assume you can get your shots in one day. I waited until the week before departure to get shots. Because I was planning to go to the mountains and be off the regular tourist routes, I could be exposed to more diseases than a tourist staying in protected westernized hotels. There were several shots I should have had (http://www.mdtravelhealth.com/destinations/asia/philippines.php). As it turned out, a few needed to be administered over several weeks to be effective. I didn’t have that long, so I had to skip them. Advice: Visit your doctor or clinic four to eight weeks prior to departure to get the full schedule of shots needed.

5. Don’t follow the herd. Last time I went through Philippine Immigration, there were three lines: Returning Philippine Citizens (RPC – far left lines); Overseas Workers (next to RPC); and Visitors. I made the mistake of getting into the shortest line, only to find out 30 minutes later that I was in the wrong one. Advice: Pay attention to the lines at Immigration.

6. Don’t forget to convert some U.S. dollars. Figure on an exchange rate of US$1 to PhP40. You might be able to change money at the airport, however your exchange rates won’t be to your advantage. If no one is picking you up at the airport, expect to spend at least PhP400 for a taxi. You’ll need tip money for anyone providing any kind of service outside the airport. Advice: Convert at least US$50 into Philippine pesos for your first day.

7. Don’t arrive without goodies. Known as “pasalubong,” it’s nice but not expected to give small gifts to anyone hosting you during your travels. Don’t forget to bring small gifts from home. Advice: Buy duty-free gifts ranging from small Toblerone chocolates to liquor and jewelry at the airport before departure or in-flight. You also can pick up pasalubong on arrival, in the duty-free shop outside the baggage claim area.

When you arrive, be ready to slow down and learn how to flow.

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Read the previous article in this series: FilAm Notes on My Trip to Metro Manila in the Philippines

Read this article as originally published at Inquirer.net: 7 boo-boos to avoid on the way to the Philippines 
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The Ties that Bind are Loosened as Leo New Moon Approaches

by Baylan Megino

August 1, 2013

The ties that bind…. are loosened as the Leo new moon approaches.

Sleep has not been my friend lately. When I was younger, I could sleep through a rock concert, but these past few days have been long, physically demanding, and mentally draining. Hours of sleep have not brought the deep rest that I have known for so long.

Maybe it’s because the new moon is coming. Today, as waited in line for my friendly neighborhood DMV to call my number, I listened to Michele Grace Lessirard talk about the energies that have been swirling the last few months.

“June was about speaking your truth. July was about protecting your space from naysayers, protecting your boundaries, and creating sacred space.”  It has been a time of letting go, of shifts happening, of disruptions with communications and computers. Sound familiar?

And August? It’s about “the call to be brilliant and to shine brightly.” Time to go into the void, be open, see what you desire, see what inspires you, and allow the creativity to flow. And that entails surrendering the ties that bind us. Stay grounded, and yield to the flow.

I’ve been clearing a lot of STUFF these past few months. Cleared space at the house, sorting through 42 years of family stuff. Cleared the back yard — even Mom said it never looked so good.

Closed out my storage units and brought things to the house. It’s full again. I need to spend more time going through boxes and boxes and letting things go, passing them on to others who could love them, shredding documents, disposing of things that remain that have accumulated over the last 20 years of my life. Makes my arms ache just thinking about it.

The call? Oh, yes, I have one. It gets real clear, and I often move in that direction. It’s a challenge to stay fully focused on that path, though. One reason why I came back home was to help care for my Dad as his Alzheimer’s progressed. But just a few months in, it became clear that we couldn’t handle it ourselves. And my siblings live too far away to be able to help regularly. So we placed Dad in the first of several homes before he “crossed the rainbow bridge” this past March.  But that’s a story for another day.

Mom is slowing down. It’s to be expected – after all, she is over 80 years old, for heaven’s sake! She is fiercely independent, and stubborn. She spends her days going through papers and boxes and sorting through clothes while listening to the news or watching “Criminal Minds” and “Cold Case” and  other such programs. Donate, Toss, Keep. Donate, Donate, Toss, Keep. Keep, Keep, Keep, Toss.

Today I needed to get out and take a drive. I could get groceries at Safeway, I thought to myself. Could’ve gone to the one only five minutes away, but decided first to head up the hill to catch the sunset. Almost ten minutes later, I found almost all the parking spots were taken. The one or two that were open didn’t have a view I wanted.  So I parked further down the hill in a parking lot with a view of the City and a broad expanse of the Bay. The fog was rolling in and had blanketed much of the City, and the sun’s afterglow was quickly fading.

SuSunset over San Francisco by Baylan Megino

Sunset over San Francisco by Baylan Megino

Sitting in the quiet of my car, memories came flooding in of my first dog, Perdita. She just showed up one day – at least that’s what I remember. She was the “Little Lost One,” and she was mine. I remember one time sitting on the floor, grabbing and hugging her tight as I cried, pained by my father’s discipline. I didn’t understand, and Perdita was there for me. She was my best friend, and helped me through many confusing days.

And then one day she was gone. Ran off, I was told. Accept it. There was no search — Only a deep, deep sense of  loss.

Driving in the hills, watching the trees open to reveal the bay, seeing the world spread out below me – these have always brought me peace. But today it was flat, lacked the richness of a full visual feast.

I descended to the flatlands where, all the way at the other end of the next town, I pulled up to the Safeway. Located at the north end of Gourmet Gulch, it had been remodeled since my last visit. I wandered through unfamiliar aisles, checking off items on the list. Picked up a package of ginger snaps as my personal treat, and set the full paper bag on the back seat just as it started to rip.

Turned my car toward home, and drove through the quiet streets, noting the changes. Very few stores and restaurants remained from my time living in this college town. It was sad for me to see the jumble of architectural progress. Nothing felt familiar. Nothing was the same. There were a few exceptions — one restaurant that I never went to  – King Dong. Couldn’t imagine saying I had eaten there.

Driving further, I saw the produce store had moved across the street into a newly expanded building. Used to buy fresh chicken and an amazing assortment of vegetables there, and enjoyed thinking of recipes and menus while I lugged the heavy bags several blocks home. Any Mountain was in its original space. It was comforting to see the Japanese restaurant still on the corner.

Then headed to the bank, my arms tired from days of lifting boxes. As I stepped from my car, a young woman caught my eye. Slim with short cropped hair, she sat quietly at the bus stop. As I passed her, she stood up in the gathering dusk to search for a bus. No dice.

Where are you going? I asked.

Oh! She said in surprise. Berkeley, she said.

I paused. That was in the opposite direction.

I’m not in any rush to go home, I said. Want a ride?

Sure! She said, and moved to the car. Thank you!

Want some ginger cookies? I asked as we snapped on our seatbelts.

Yes, thank you, she said with a smile.

She shared the story of her name. Both grandmothers hold the same name, and so the lines came together in her. Recently graduated from a school in Connecticut, she needed to get away. She had just arrived, and tonight was visiting a friend.

So what do you do? I asked.

Oh, I work at two coffee shops, she said.

What do you Want to do? I asked.

She wanted to do community organizing, to do something that makes a difference.

Well, you’re in the right place, I said. Do you work with computers? I asked

Yes, but my roommate does websites. She’s on the computer all the time.

Well, sometimes I have a need for help with research. Perhaps you can help me with that, I said.

Sure! She said. Comfortable. Open. Young. Ready for the world.

Let me give you my card, I said. She made a sound of approval as I opened my card case.

Rosie the Riveter, I said. There’s a museum for her in Richmond.

I’m going to have to check that out.

Give me a call so I have your number, I suggested.

I will. Thanks again for the ride. She smiled and said, You know, my grandfather used to always have ginger snaps in his car. It reminded me of him.

Nice memory, I said. Let’s keep in touch.

She stepped to the curb, and we both waved as the signal light changed, and I turned the corner toward home.

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