When my mom was in her last few weeks of life, a close friend of mine suggested I record her voice. My friend had lost her mom to cancer years before, and she told me that, as time passed, it became hard for her to remember the sound of her mother’s voice. That had made her very sad. Imagine that feeling? Not knowing your mom’s voice … . So she suggested I make a recording of my mom saying she loved me.
Let’s connect around that and take a deep breath together. Breathe in the idea of being told you are truly loved by your mom. Mmmmm. What a great sensation.
I talked to my mom about this and I even bought her a digital recorder. While she agreed to do it, she never did. Looking back, I think it was just too hard for her to think of my being alone, without her, with my only solace being a digital recording of her voice. It was just too sharp for her to confront the realities of death and its effect on her children.
After my mom passed, I realized that I had a voicemail message from her saved on my phone. It was a simple message: “Hey Jay, it’s your mom. Welcome to Santa Clara. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon. I love you.” I treasured that recording and would listen to it often when I missed my mom. It was a bit like the Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animal I carried around as a little boy — a tiny bit of love and safety; the recording was all I had left of my mom in the physical.
When I was in business I had always been a Blackberry man. I loved its raised keyboard. With my big fingers it was easy for me to strike the keys as I was writing the usual several hundred emails a day. After my “retirement,” my emails dwindled to a few per day, and I slowly — begrudgingly — decided to join the cool crowd and get an iPhone.
So I drove to the local AT&T store, bought an iPhone, and transferred my service. I left the store feeling really hip and got in my car admiring my new phone. I dialed my number and began to record my new voicemail message: “Hi, it’s Jason, leave me a message.” I’m a believer in short messages. As I hit the save button, I realized what I had just done. My heart sank, my eyes welled with tears … my mom’s voice was gone. Forever.
A few years later, on one of the anniversaries of my mom’s passing, a friend of hers posted a video of her on Facebook. I watched the video over and over again, not sure if it was really my mom. It looked like my mom, but I wasn’t sure of the voice. I had forgotten the sound of my own mother’s voice.
To those of you who haven’t lost a loved one, this sounds impossible. But it’s true. And it also applies to all the other areas of our life. We are creatures of repetition; we learn through this repetition and we remember what we practice daily. Just as importantly, we forget when that practice isn’t there anymore, and we adapt to whatever is present in our reality at the time.
This is the value of developing a daily practice.
We’re born as beautiful bundles of love & joy – tiny gifts of enormous love wrapped up in the packaging of a human body.
We are born as beautiful bundles of love and joy — tiny gifts of an enormous love wrapped up in the packaging of a human body. You know what I mean, right? Is there anything more beautiful than gazing into the eyes of your newborn baby? Or listening to the unreasonably joyful giggles of an infant? That’s what we are born into this world as … and it’s what we were always meant to be.
But we live in a society that reinforces the negative in a very consistent, pounding fashion — like waves wearing away at the shoreline of our psyche. The nightly news, the grumbling of our friends and co-workers, the daily grind of our lives; all slowly reinforcing an often negative view of life, and of ourselves. We start to believe that we are hopeless creatures dwelling in a hopeless world. We are shown that we are violent, angry, sick, depressed, and broken beings in need of saving by medicine, products, religion, and government. Just the way that I forgot the beautiful voice of the woman who cared for me my entire life … we forget the beautiful truth inside of how truly amazing we are.
That’s a sad reality … but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s simply a matter of practice.
In order to maintain the truth of our beings — our loving nature, our beautiful purpose on this planet — front of mind, we have to practice and remind ourselves exactly who we are each and every day. In the same way that we are bombarded with messages that to smile we need a Coke, to connect we need a Bud, and to love we need a blue pill, we have to remind ourselves each and every day that we can smile, and connect, and love just because we are who we are.
In my life I look at this like a three-legged stool: my body, my mind, and my spirit. I have developed a practice to nurture these three legs of my life. I like this metaphor, not because I actually own a three-legged stool (I’m not even sure I have seen one), but because it’s a three-pronged approach that helps keep me balanced in my natural loving state amidst the noise of the world.
My body: My friend and teacher, Dr. Bruce Lipton, taught me to look at my body as a community of cells — 50 trillion of them working together to form what I call my body. He also taught me that a healthy body is the result of happy cells. What makes a cell happy? Nutrients. And when cells are happy (receiving the nutrients they need), they create a happy body, which in turn tells the brain to be happy, too.
Practice: I try to fill my body with as much nutrient-dense food each day as I can. The easiest, most efficient and effective way to consume nutrients is green vegetable and fruit juice. One of my favorite recipes is green lemonade. Juice 1 head of romaine, 5 stalks of kale, 1-2 Fuji apples, and 1 lemon. You can add just a bit of ginger if desired to give it some zing.
My mind: My teacher, Dr. Vera Dunn, taught me that our emotional state is the product of deep programming from childhood — an accumulation of all the messages we received in the womb and as a little child. Those messages were meant to keep us safe, but they often end up limiting us and creating a programming that makes us feel less than we are. We can counter that by being present in the current moment through deep breathing and fully occupying our body.
Practice: Deep breathing, stretching, and moving my body. I practice a short set of yoga each morning accompanied by long deep breaths. This resets my system to a balanced state. I do Kundalini yoga, but there are so many wonderful ways to breathe, stretch, and move. Keep it simple … choose a few stretches that feel wonderful for your body and start your day by stretching into your body glove.
My spirit: When our spirit gets muffled, we start to believe all of the exterior noise is real. My teacher Guru Singh taught me the value of quiet meditation as a tool to experience who I am in a larger context than Jason Garner the Job, or Label … instead, he taught me to look at Jason Garner, The Cosmic Being. When you have a tool to expand beyond your circumstances, it’s much easier.
Practice: At least 11 minutes of meditation a day. We tend to make meditation out to be something woo-woo or solemnly scary — it’s not. Just sit down, close your eyes, and enjoy the quiet time. Don’t worry if your mind is thinking, that’s just what it does. I like to focus on my heart and just feel it filling with love, and then pumping that love to my body. Expanding and contracting, expanding and contracting, over and over again.
I often add a final touch to my daily practice and it goes back to the voice of my mom. After her passing, I came to believe that everything I believed and loved about my mom lived on through her son, through my life and my love. In that way, her final resting place wasn’t the ocean where we sprinkled her ashes, but in my heart. And so each morning as I’m doing my practice, I imagine my mom’s love filling my being. As I drink my green juice I feel her warmth nurturing my cells, as I stretch I experience her wisdom circulating through my body, and as I sit in quiet meditation I know, silently, that she’s with me.
I invite you to develop a daily practice to reinforce the beauty that is the true you. There is no magic formula or perfect answer, just lots of tools. Try some on for yourself, see which tools work for you, and then make them your consistent habit. That is the true definition of self-love, like the warm voice of your mother saying, “I love you.”
Big hugs of love,