Mele Kalikimaka Meditation

My morning meditation spot

I christened my day with a meditation. Sitting on a lava boulder, facing the indomitable Pacific, with the actual ocean as my ambient noise and guide. When I meditate, I prefer to do so through mantras. That seems to be the only way my writer’s mind can focus, through words. I start my mediation with an intention, something on which I wish to focus, and I pick a phrase. From there, I let that phrase morph until I land on an organic one that sticks. Then I let that one settle in and carry my intention with it.

Today’s intention was to focus on being curious rather than judgmental, ala Ted Lasso’s advice. I settled upon a Hawaiian image. I imagined myself as a lava rock, washed by the sea, but not changed by it, an immovable object not reacting to the forces before me but simply noticing them. It seemed the ideal way to practice observing other people’s comments and reactions with curiosity without allowing them to affect my calmness and stability.

After a few breaths, my mantra settled in. As I inhaled, my mind asserted “I am a rock,” and as I exhaled, it reminded me “Nothing can disturb my peace.” I focused on that for ten minutes, mentally acknowledging only the sea breeze, the sounds of breaking surf and birds, the hardness of the rock beneath me. (Perhaps next time I will bring a blanket for my rock meditation?)

Any skill comes through practice, which is why meditation is a practice. It’s not something you perfect. Not unlike the ocean tides, it has ebbs and flows. One day, your focus is legendary. The next it is complete horse shit. And the good news is that is exactly as it should be. Sometimes your mind is calm, quiet, and peaceful. Other times, it is rough, cloudy, and choppy. It is what it is to be human. For a long time, I, like many others, thought meditation was a place you arrive at, a destination which only few are allowed to inhabit. Not so. Meditation is a commitment to quieting your mind. That is all. It’s the practice through which you can begin to control your thoughts rather than be controlled by them. It’s available to everyone who endeavors to take the journey. It costs nothing, but yields great things.

So, my Christmas wish for all of you is the strength and perseverance to find inner calm in the chaos of this holiday. I hope you take a moment to be a rock, to pause to observe what is happening around you without allowing it to move you, to be present in the presence of presents. Let the insanity of your crazy uncle’s comments wash over you rather than shake you from the peace that this day represents. You are a rock. Nothing need disturb your inner peace.

With that thought in mind and with any luck, perhaps you won’t have to swill spiked eggnog to enjoy your day with your natural or chosen family. Be strong. Be curious. Inhabit stillness in the midst of noise and wrapping paper and requests and obligations.

Mele Kalikimaka from Hawaii, my fellow travelers through this life!

Ted Lasso — Life Coach

Ted dispensing truth bombs

“Success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves, on and off the field.” ~Ted Lasso

If it hasn’t been said often enough yet, let me reiterate that Ted Lasso is the best show out there right now. Period. Full stop. I mean, I could stop writing this post right here because that is all that needs to be said. (If you haven’t seen it yet, get yourself Apple TV this instant.) I’m not surprised by the appeal of a show about an over-the-top, optimistic, and genuinely kind American fumbling his way through England and soccer (although the show now has me calling it football). As a global society during a continuing pandemic that leaves us more isolated than we would like, we were all looking for something to connect us. Ted Lasso does that by combining characters from around the globe who teach us that we have more in common than we know. And, yes, at the end of the day it is a feel-good show, but I don’t believe that it is as simple as that.

What makes the characters so relatable is their struggles and their humanity. Take Jamie Tartt, for example. He could have been written as a self-absorbed soccer phenom and nothing else, but the writers have taken care to show us that his drive to be the best, to be the star no matter who he tramples over to do it, comes from being bullied by his father. Consider Rebecca. Her mean girl, initially selfish desire to bring the football club of her cheating ex-husband to an end stemmed from humiliation and a lack of self-esteem brought on by years in an abusive marriage. Even Ted Lasso himself, despite his infectious optimism, is no stranger to emotional pain after learning his own wife doesn’t love him anymore because he is just too much.

What makes the show award-worthy is not its clever dialogue, winsome characters, and perfect casting, but its ability to tackle dark struggles in our human condition with honesty and maturity. At the end of the day, the show is about owning your shit and learning to rise above it. It’s about seeking continual improvement in yourself, your relationships, and your life. It’s about being accountable, apologizing when you are wrong, and working to do better. Ted Lasso is not merely a feel-good vehicle giving us the positivity we crave in what feels like dark times. It’s about learning how to endure the dark times with grace and come out better on the other side.

Ted Lasso isn’t coaching AFC Richmond. He’s coaching us. And like the seats in the show’s intro, Ted Lasso is turning our hearts from cold, hard blue to warm, vital red.