IMAGINE

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A phrase the Tara Brach said in her video stuck with me.  She said to give your heart permission to feel what it feels.  I thought, YES!  That’s it.  How profoundly simple–I give my heart permission to feel what it feels.

What if instead of seeing the low-energy as a curse or an enemy…what if I saw it as a blessing, a gift?!  What if this is helping me to slow down, helping me to heal, helping me to see things more clearly?  What if crying is exactly what I need to release my pain, hurt, confusion or frustration.  What if under the tears is really joy?  The joy of seeing the truth.  What if I were to believe that everything is working for my highest good?  What if I were to stop believing that the world was out to get me?  Is that why we all run so fast and busy ourselves…hoping to outrun the pain, the suffering, the challenges that life will inevitably bring?  But what if we could all just slow down and say to ourselves–

I GIVE MY HEART PERMISSION TO FEEL WHAT IT FEELS.

I GIVE MY BODY PERMISSION TO FEEL WHAT IT FEELS.

How powerful is that?!!

Imagine a world where people could experience their true feelings without judgement and shame.  I think judgement is the basis of resistance…We start out with–“This is bad.  This is not what I want.  This situation is wrong.  This is not supposed to be happening. This is not how things are supposed to go.” –and then we spiral down to–“I must be doing something wrong. There must be something wrong with me.”  or  “He/she is the cause of all this wrongness.  It’s all his/her fault.”  –and finally–“My feelings are wrong.  I’m not supposed to be feeling this way.”

Imagine a world where people turned inward to know themselves, to know their own deepest feelings, reactions and patterns.  Imagine a world where people owned their own feelings rather than blaming someone or something else.

What if we could release the inner conflict and stop fighting with ourselves?  What if we could just accept our thoughts and feelings?  What if we could stop defending and protecting ourselves?  What if we could stop pointing the finger at others?  What if we could all speak the truth freely from our hearts?

As a society, we have a lot of bad habits.  We resist, deny, avoid, grasp, blame, shame, rush, control, dominate, battle…What if we could develop the habits of awareness, of looking inward, of pausing?  Imagine a world where we responded intelligently, wisely, kindly and compassionately.

What if children learned these skills?  What if children started meditating at age 8 or 9?  What if there were classes like: How to relate peacefully with others, How to stand up for yourself and speak your truth, How to accept yourself just as you are and others just as they are, How to live with integrity and courage, How to be peacefully powerful, How to empathize and be compassionate, How to really listen, How to love…

I mean really, how often have you used your knowledge of calculus or chemistry in every day life.  Why are kids memorizing information when what they really need to learn about are the BIG things like LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, COURAGE, TRUTH.

The way to peace in the world is to begin finding peace in our own hearts.

I’m starting to feel like John Lennon here in this ramble of thoughts.  But I can see this  peaceful world;  a world full of conscious people who are living from their hearts, people who are FEELING.  People who are really awake and alive.  People who embody love, compassion, kindness, joy, passion, enthusiasm, acceptance.  People who have taken off their masks and are completely transparent.  People who are truly being themselves.  This is not just what I wish for myself anymore…this is what I wish for the planet.    Imagine…

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YES!

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Acceptance.  This is the lesson I am currently learning.  I’ve realized how much of my life I have spent rejecting my experience or my feelings.  When things aren’t going the way I want them to go, the inner resistance starts up.  It’s that feeling that life is somehow “wrong”;  that circumstances should be different;  that am supposed to be somewhere else or be further along than I am.  This can lead into feelings that I am doing something wrong;  that I have screwed up;  that I am in some way inadequate or incapable of handling life the “right” way.  As you can see, a downward spiral of negativity can completely take me out of what is really happening.

For example, one thing that still bothers me sometimes is a lack of energy.  Last week, I was feeling great–waking up early and feeling energized and alive.  This week, my energy is down.  It’s not really that bad.  I just have this sensation of heaviness and fogginess.  But what makes me feel worse is the monologue in my head that ensues.  –Why don’t I feel energetic today?  I wish I felt better.  Then I would be able to get more done.  Then I could make better progress.  I just want to get on with my life and feel “normal”!  What am I doing wrong?  Am I getting too much sleep, drinking too much water, not expressing myself enough?  I guess I am just not that strong.  I am such a wimp…and so on.  You get the idea.

You may have noticed your own mind going on its tirade–an angry rant of criticism and accusation.  Any “unpleasant” situation can set off this kind of negative thinking:  an annoying coworker, an argument with a spouse, a child who won’t listen to you, a rainy day, a headache…  Whenever we face something difficult or challenging in our lives, resistance can settle in.

When we are able to pause and observe the thoughts in our mind, we can see that the thoughts we are having are making the situation twice as bad as is actually is.  And if we dig a little deeper to try to find out what we are feeling, we might discover that beneath all the distracting negative self-talk are some feelings that want your attention.  Maybe you felt powerless, out-of-control, guilty, angry, ashamed or fearful.

If you can just step back and notice these feelings, they will start to lose their power.  Try naming them out load.  Name what you are experiencing–I’m feeling sad, kind of worried, hurt, confused, a bit disappointed.  If you don’t have a name for the feeling, try describing what you are noticing in your body–my neck is aching, my stomach feels unsettled, my heart is beating faster, my shoulders are tense.  Come back to the present, to what it really going on.

At choir on Tuesday, we were singing our most challenging song.  My choir director warned us that we might hate this song in a few weeks but if we pushed through this resistance we would again enjoy it.  And funnily enough, another song we are singing is called “Yes”.  The whole song is just that one word–YES.

I am currently reading a book called, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach and she suggests gently saying Yes to whatever is coming your way.  Now, it’s important to know that this does not mean becoming complacent or tolerating situations that we have the power to change.  Nor does it mean agreeing to things that could be harmful to us.  It simply means facing “what is”.  It is acknowledgement of reality.  Acknowledgement of our feelings.

Try this throughout your day.  Just say YES quietly to yourself.  See what happens.  Another way to shift your attention back to your present experience is to ask–What is true for me right now?  What is really going on here?–Bring a kind and friendly compassion to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend.   It may be tempting to run away, busy yourself or deny or avoid what you are feeling but trust me, that will not work in the long term…stuffing feelings down is NOT healthy.

Yes!  This is my life and it’s all right!  I’m all right.  It’s all good.  Yes! Yes!! YES!!!

COMMITMENTS TO MYSELF

A couple of books I have been reading, have got me thinking about the commitments I make to myself.  When I feel I want to change something about my routine or behaviour, I find myself often thinking–Oh, I want to… I should try… –but then days go by and weeks go by and I realize that I am still not doing these things that are important to me or I start a new behaviour but it falls aways within a couple of weeks.

Why are we humans so prone to drifting off course?  First, you have to know that this is completely normal!!  Just like we constantly are slipping out of the present moment, we can also get off the track that we were planning to go.  This always makes me think of walking with a group of young children on a sidewalk.  We had to keep telling them to stay on the sidewalk and stay with their partner.  Even though we are adults, are minds drift just like little kids and we need a way to get hold of the reigns so we are once again in control of our lives.

I think one way of staying on track is to say your intentions to yourself repeatedly and intentions can be very powerful if your can keep them at the forefront of your mind.  But if you are dreamy like me, you probably need something more concrete.  Last night, I was thinking–I really want to get up at 7am!  I really want to get an early start on my day. –But what has happened before is that I do this for a few days and then I am getting up at 8 or 8:30 again. AHHH!

So today I wrote down in my journal–I AM COMMITTED TO:  and then I started listing things I really wanted to change.

1.  get up a 7am every week day

2.  meditate every morning

3.  do 20-30 minutes of writing every morning

4.  speak freely from my heart

5.  eat a bowl of raw veggies every morning

6.  do 20-30 minutes of cardio or strength training every afternoon

7.  take one inspired action towards my dreams every day

f you don’t know exactly what you want to commit to yet, take some time to first look at your priorities and then use those to chose some commitments you think you can stick to.  Pick a number that you think is doable with your schedule.  It may be only 2 or 3 and that’s fine.  Remember, though, that some commitments do not require extra time or energy, just a more mindful way of being.  (for example:  listening with an open mind or taking a break every hour to focus on your breathing)

Once I had completed my list of commitments, I made a chart from Monday to Sunday so that I can check them off as I do them.  At the end of the week, I can take a look at how I am doing and make any necessary adjustments for the next week.  It’s taking on the “practicing mind”–breaking things down into manageable actions, taking it one step at a time and later reviewing and reflecting on you did and deciding what the next action is.

This is NOT about judging yourself–there is no need to beat yourself up if you haven’t kept up with all of your commitments.  Just compassionately think to yourself, Ok, what didn’t work this week and how can I change things up next week?  Maybe I made too many commitments.  Maybe some were not realistic.  Maybe a couple just aren’t really that important to me right now.  Maybe there’s another step that needs to come first.

As Yoda said–Do or do not.  There is no try. –For many of us, it can be easier to make commitments to others than it is to make them to ourselves.  We commit to our jobs, our spouse, or children, the PTA or whatever but we sometimes forget about the most important person–ourself!!!  So do it!  Make at least one commitment to yourself for the week and see what happens!

Recommended reading:

Getting Things Done – by David Allen (a simple yet effective way of organizing all the stuff in your head in order to reduce stress and be more productive)

The Practicing Mind – by Thomas M. Sterner (challenging us to change our perspective from a focus on product to the enjoyment of process)

Me Before We – by Christine Arlyo (an empowering read for women reminding us to put ourselves first in relationships)

Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves (a wake up call to quiet all those negative voices that hold us back from truly loving ourselves and living our fullest potential)