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Love is Space

Awareness of Sensation, Compassion, Emotions, grounding, Love is Space, Mindfulness, Radical Acceptance, Sacred justice, Self-love, Spiritual Activism, Spirituality, Suffering

Lovingkindness in action

Yesterday, when House Republicans voted in favor of replacing the Affordable Care Act with their own version that would raise insurance costs, exclude benefits for an astonishing array of “preexisting conditions,” and cut taxes for the rich while penalizing the poor and middle class, I witnessed the tremendous wave of anger and pain that so many in our country were feeling, those who depend on the flawed yet essential coverage that ACA provides us and those with loved ones who rely on these benefits. Sure, this system is far from perfect, but it allows so many who previously were uninsured or underinsured to finally have the safety net to access care and get medications they need to live without going into debt. Feelings of despair and outrage are a natural response to such self-serving, irresponsible, and cruel legislation. I want to share, though, that as we make space for the pain we feel, we can also experiment with some alternate responses, to help us cope and build resilience in the face of a long 4 years. For my readership outside of the US, i am sure these ideas can be applied to other situations in which injustice and power-hungry demagogues prevail in your own lives.

  • Take action. Lovingkindness is the inspiration for my coaching practice, and is the deep compassion I want us to all have for ourselves and others. Lovingkindness means responding to our own needs and the needs of those around us.  Some people’s response to seeing anger in others’ is judgment, and claims that this is a “negative” or “toxic” emotion to be avoided. Some who identify with new age spirituality want to hold onto bliss experiences and therefore stay out of politics and avoid difficult subjects like poverty and racism. I’ve seen others spread the notion that love will conquer all, as if we don’t have to actually do anything but radiate some emotion and all will be well.  No spirituality is worth anything if it does not care about the suffering of others. Anger is an energy of protection, fierce compassion, and a commitment to justice. Honor its place and channel it into appropriate, loving action. While politics may be unsavory, they are a fact of how power is marshaled in our society to the benefit of some and to the detriment of a great many. We must be invested in the fate of those around us. We are responsible for standing up for what is right, making our voices heard, and holding our representatives accountable by making calls, donating to campaigns and causes for justice, and voting. Some of you might be called to run for office, and if so, that is great! But we don’t need to make this kind of commitment in order to be involved. Start here. Call your senators to oppose the AHCA. Or text “resist” to 50409 to easily contact your senators. Donate to organizations doing work for immigrants, refugees, racial equity, the environment. Find what resonates with you.
  • Focus on the facts. It is painful to realize that so many members of Congress are okay with gutting healthcare for our most vulnerable citizens. This is heartbreaking. And we also can get grounded in the moment and remind ourselves that this was only the first step to passing the AHCA. No one is yet being harmed or hurt by this bill. This is not to deny the potential threat posed, but to help propel us into moving with resolve to working to make sure it does not get through the Senate, and to help us not suffer so much with the imagined torment and dying that could happen under AHCA. We do not need to jump to the future yet and create nightmare scenes in our head that cause us more panic and pain. Stay in the present, focus on what is happening in the moment. Nobody is dying or being denied coverage due to this bill, and if we get consumed with fear over what could happen in the future, we may not be as effective in taking steps to stop it in the now.
  • Accept reality. This has 2 important pieces for me. The first, is understanding that given who these Republican leaders are and looking at the evidence of their values that came through in recent years of intransigence, racism, misogyny, and greed, it is not at all surprising that they passed this legislation yesterday. I can ease some of the suffering and preserve some of the wasted energy that comes out of saying, “I can’t believe they did this heartless thing,” and instead, with complete acceptance of reality say, “It makes a lot of sense, knowing what I know about these people, that they would behave in a manner consistent with a lack of heart and lack of mercy.” This does not change the facts or say they are okay or good, but helps me to not argue with the truth of what is happening. The second piece is similar. I ask: what part of me is refusing to accept that this is happening? In what ways am I resisting that this legislation and this awful administration is part of our reality? I am down with the #resistance, don’t get me wrong. Political action and justice organizing are essential, and, I think, more effective if they come from a place of radical acceptance. Check out this therapist’s advice on staying sane through these difficult times, using the principal of radical acceptance of reality. We aren’t saying things are acceptable as in good, but that we when we accept that things are the way they are, we can more effectively change them.

Offer yourself empathy, place your hands on the places in your body that are feeling constricted, tense, nauseous, or twisted up in pain and offer some soothing words and spacious breaths of allowance–it is understandable to feel distraught when those entrusted to protect people are intent to cause pain. But don’t get stuck there. Pick up the phone, focus on the facts, be honest about what is happening, and put that incredible compassion you have into action.

 

Balance, Dreams, Emotions, Experimentation, Freedom, Life Coaching, Life Path, Love is Space, Movement, Open, Personal Growth, Support, Transformation, Wisdom

When the light leaves our path

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to catch up with a close friend who moved away last year.  I was excited to fill her in on all of the newness in my life, especially graduate school and all that I am learning on my way to becoming a counselor.

And I was also eager to hear where she was at, after completing an intensive training on her path as a healer. She shared some of the struggle that is common after going through a life-changing experience. In this case, when a craft or vocation that deeply resonates is shown to you, you can see yourself living this out, yet you are not entirely sure how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I went through this uncomfortable and disorienting phase after finishing a life coaching program that held me and guided me for nine months. When the 9 month gestation period came to a close, me and this tight-knit group of women who’d been meeting weekly, were set free. Suddenly in the absence of structure and with coaching certificate in hand I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. With the withdraw of community energy all supporting our learning and dreams, I felt some post-process blues, as I returned to my everyday life, wholly changed yet not able to see the change bear out. alone-971122_1280

It took almost as long to move through the phase of integration as it took to complete the training program itself, so I wanted to assure my friend that the period of seeming inaction and confusion after feeling inspired and motivated is normal, and may be necessary. In these periods of lull and let-down, we are still upgrading our psycho-spiritual processing system, and that can take time.
Giving ourselves a
healthy dose of spacious patience to move through change and integrate helps us to be more effective in our pursuits, and also allows us to model to others how to live during these difficult times of limbo.

Before I’d gotten to the point of clarity around wanting to coach and eventually counsel, when I was feeling completely lost as a librarian searching for my calling, that phase, also, was precious and valuable. I guide others through muck and distress. Having been deeply in it, myself, at times trusting that movement was happening when things felt stagnant, at times feeling excruciating pain of feeling lost and unsure of how to serve, and at times surrendering and calling out for help, all of it was part of the path.

I’d just had the realization the night before talking with this friend about those many years of feeling impatient and frustrated, when my soul and heart wanted to burst out of my skin because I knew my true calling was in there somewhere, wanting to be born, but I did not know how to birth it: I was exactly where I needed to be at the time. The pain I had felt led me to deep listening and tuning into inner awareness, tweaking my lifestyle in small and big ways, finding mentors and guides, and getting into dance to move through all of it and heal in community.surrender

Because of all of this I am able to bring a full, dynamic self to the craft of counseling, carrying many healing practices and approaches with me because I relied on them to get me here. I know that I can give my energy and effort towards excellence in my counseling program without compromising the rest of my life. I can live in harmony, so that grad school and my career path are just another expression of who I am, embodied and in my heart. If I had discovered counseling as my path 10 years ago, I would be bringing a lot less life experience, fewer tools and resources, and less perspective on suffering and the wisdom of all emotions. I would be studying and writing papers without feeling the fluidity in my body, without dance and meditation breaks, without a sense of my own wholeness.

What bell hooks says of “engaged pedagogy” applies as much to counselors, coaches, healers, or creatives as it does to teachers in the classroom. If I may adapt her proclamation from Teaching to Transgress to the practice of transgressive therapy: “Counselors must be actively committed to a process of self-actualization that promotes their own well-being if they are to counsel in a manner that empowers clients.” That process is not always easy, it happens in the dark, and at times, on a road no one else has traveled before. We walk, we crawl, we curl up and take a nap, and with courage, we keep moving.

I envision with and for my clients a pervasive sense of well-being. Who they are when living a heartful and soulful life comes through in all that they do. But I also know that along the way to purposeful and centered we can feel stuck, at a loss, and alone.  Coaching can provide the support and teach tools of self-compassion, to move into the radical trust that you are on the heart-soul path even when it feels scary or stagnant. With courage, lionhearts!

 

Awareness of Sensation, Compassion, Embodiment, Emotions, Healing, Intention, Life Coaching, Love, Love is Space, Meditation, Open, Relationship, Self-love, Whole Body

Try a Lot of Tenderness

There we were, standing in his kitchen, just 6 weeks after we ended our 2 years together, when he announced his new romance. “I wanted to let you know that I’m dating someone.” At the moment that my brain processed the words, it felt like something shot into my chest and lodged there, inside my heart. Suddenly, it felt harder to breathe. I went home as soon as I could, to cry, tears that did not come as easily when we broke up, but now flowed. What a reality check: the person who still feels the closest in my world is moving on to become someone else’s closest and is entering the intimacy of her world.

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I’ve biked to cafes, walked and talked with warm and thoughtful souls, danced my heart out, snuggled my dog, delighted at frog and bird song, laughed with my best lady friends, practiced French, planned my trip to Paris, and hiked in lush woods along waterways. I’ve watched puppets and b-boys dance, worked myself out into a dripping mess of sweat and endorphins, found a polka dot bikini that fits, and indulged in ice cream. I can forget, when totally absorbed in the present of these joyous and connected moments, the sensation throbbing in my chest. But then, eventually, I am back in my room alone, or quietly walking across town in the rain, or I catch a glimpse of a romantic card at the store, and I feel it. I feel that something wedged into my heart. When I go into arguments about how it shouldn’t be this way, or start questioning how true his love for me ever was, or picture him kissing another, or remember the sweet beginning of our relationship, the pain brightens. I try to catch my breath. I feel it as both a chasm, a bottomless cavity, and as a clamp tightening and closing around my heart.

There is no outer relief. No friend who can make it go away. Nothing out there that can fix the feeling. There is no story I can tell myself to make it better. There is no name-calling, no judgement about him, no critique of the situation, no complaints about how it is too soon, no pettiness about who she might be, that can dissolve that heart-constricting crater. It has nothing to do with him, or her, anyway. It is about the need to be loved, to feel lovable, and this is mine, a human, normal, mine. These are the fears and wounds that our relationships show us–not so that we can demand love from others to feel whole, but so that we may be that love for ourselves. Relief only comes when I move toward that which is causing pain, and then soften around it…to discover that the around it is infinite. That infinite, is who I am. That I am, is loving and open attention.

I sense shallow breathing, choppy air, tight hollowness in my chest, my throat closing, nausea, and what feels like an inner fight, a resistance, trying to push all of it away.

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I stop holding my breath, and let the air flow naturally. I soften…soften around my chest, throat, jaw, gut. I keep softening and allow what is happening to simply be. I stop pushing the sensations away and move my attention outward yet not quite outside of me–I look from just behind my eyes, and feel from behind my heart. I feel into the back of the body, breathing in my 3 dimensions. There is an energetic field extending outward from my physical body. It has eyes and ears and awareness all its own. I shift into this bigger sense of myself: the field of consciousness that surrounds me. Instead of fixating on tight heart, lumped throat, and strained breath, I move my attention up to the top of my head, to the right and left sides of me, to my front and back, then down to the earth, holding my attention on the outer edges of my body. I quietly and curiously notice the many sensations in, on, around me. Tingles atop my head, cool air passing over my face, that bird outside is a high pitched chirp in my right ear, sweat feels slick on skin, and so much space all around me. From the shrinking of fear, grief, confusion, loss and strained breathing, I move out to inhabit that space.

Inhaling deeply, I fall with a relaxed exhale into the awareness that sees and holds all of it. I invite the discomfort to come closer, to show me what it really is. At first I worry that if I give it permission to be, it will grow and consume me. But then I am surprised by the lightness and soothing comfort that arrives when I stop resisting and let it be all that it needs to be. Beyond apparent boundaries of skin, bone, and muscle, beyond my 5’8″ 160 pound frame, there is an endless and expansive me–way more infinite than that crack in my heart. Way more able to love than small, fearful me could have imagined.

You, heart-twisting, lung-pressing, breath-gasping, stomach-dropping tenderness, thank you for bringing me deeper into my life, and inviting me to love more wholeheartedly: him, her, myself, and you, this pain.

I do still feel tender and short of breath at times. The tenderness comes up, catches me and takes my breath, and for a moment I am lost in a story of suffering and loneliness. Then I remember to soften. Again and again, I move into the space around me and soften. It may take days, weeks, or months to move through this, but I am moving through with lovingkindness.

And as I continue to show tenderness towards those tender parts, I also want to encourage the fiery, fierce, and focused parts to keep alive my dreams of creating a life of inspiration, beauty, integrity, and purpose. Indeed, I am already living that life in so many ways, which is why I had to move on from a relationship that felt in conflict with these dreams. Though I may forget and get swept up in my sadness in moments, staying in a story of despair or shutting down in bitterness are not options. As I heal this sense of loss, I will keep my heart open and ready to receive wild, soulful, and romantic possibilities! What about you? Where will you offer yourself space and softness? What happens when you show up for your tender places with a lot of tenderness?

Celebration, Compassion, Dreams, Emotions, Gratitude, Healing, Life Coaching, Love, Love is Space, Meditation, Open, Radical Acceptance, Relationship, Transformation, Uncategorized

breaking up *is* hard to do

heartcracking heartcrackingheartcracking

 

 

 

We made it just a month shy of June 6th, what would have been our two year anniversary.

A few months before, I thought we would make it to June…and beyond. I prayed we would. At moments, I could picture a long life together. I wanted to believe it possible.

So much goodness danced between us, that made day to day life happier in many ways. Having a quirky and caring companion to share the mundane with…to laugh and cuddle with. That so much love and goodness was there, made letting go of what was ultimately not the right fit for each of us, that much more painful.

In my hopeful days, I saw a future together, but it was one that depended on my mate showing up differently than he wanted or knew how. I grew tired of striving and forcing, of initiating the long talks that never came to resolution, and I guess he, too, became tired of knowing I wanted more, of not just being able to be himself, to relax and experience ease in relationship.

We stopped and restarted in the winter, tried (briefly) couples counseling. I read relationship books and binged on podcasts about attachment styles and conscious loving. I questioned what were true needs from a primary relationship and what can be fulfilled from friendships and other connections. I wondered, frustrated at myself, how someone could be such a kind and wonderful person but still not be the right partner for me.

I came to a deep knowing that the romance was over, accompanied by fear of losing this wonderful friendship, and frozen with sadness as the dream of our future changed and our journey as partners came to a close. Too frozen to act. I hung and clung on a bit longer, though our connection became more strained and I depended on our therapist to help mediate misunderstanding.

My love for him, and for us, prevailed through all the difficulty, and for me, it was important to put that love in front of everything else, and to have that shape how we forged ahead in moving forward as friends.

I was so grateful he had the courage to end our relationship and so grateful, as well, he was open to being in ritual with me to honor our past, acknowledge the present, and bless the future (and for allowing me to share this here). Inspired partly, by one of the million podcasts I listened to, an interview with author Katherine Woodward Thomas on Neil Sattin’s Relationship Alive (episode 21, for those curious to hear), when she shared her own experience of moving through loss gracefully, in partnership with her now ex-husband. Because they didn’t go into detail about what a closing ceremony might entail, I meditated on how to ritualize our parting. Here’s what I came up with:

Step One: Use sage to cleanse his home  sage

Step Two: Use sage to cleanse one another

Step Three: Sit in silent meditation together 5-10 minutes (we did 7)

Step Four: Express gratitude for the relationship, speak to the gifts and lessons (Also in meditation, I typed up some prayer-like reflections on the purpose of relationship and the how we might find strength in letting go)

Step Five: Say some words to release the relationship and wish for each other’s highest good

Step Six: Light a candle and select 2 scrolls each from a vessel, each with 1 word blessing to mark a new beginning

Step Seven: Back alone in my home, sage to cleanse my living space

The ritual was very healing and love-filled for us both. If you can move back into love enough to remember what brought and bonded the 2 (or more) of you, this is a very beautiful way to say goodbye to the shared romantic vision, and transition into something new.

xoxo

“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty.     I hear your need. I feel your feelings.” -Gandhi

Awareness of Sensation, Balance, Compassion, Embodiment, Emotions, grounding, Healing, Life Coaching, Love is Space, Mindfulness, Self-love, Suffering, Whole Body

The 5 S’s of handling distress

Sometimes a big emotion rolls in and seems to take over without warning.  We may be flooded with sadness, possessed by anger or jealousy, or perhaps we get caught in an argument or crisis and our whole system seems to get overloaded and overwhelmed in an instant. When we get triggered, we can help to re-set our nervous systems and calm our body, heart, and mind. Move through these 5 steps when you catch yourself stressed out or upset. If you’re interacting with others or in a public situation, simply excuse yourself by saying you need to go to the restroom or outside for a moment…no need to give a “why.”

STOP

press pause on the moment. don’t react. just take a deep, spacious breath in…and out.

stop

SOFTEN

notice your body. is there tension? loosen, let go, and soften your whole body. your jaw–relax it. your shoulders–lower them. with your strong emotions, you may only be able to do this a teeny tiny bit. that’s great…just a notch. turn down the volume of the situation by signalling to the body that it can soften a little smidgen. feel into the softness as much as you are able.

SCAN

close your eyes (if you’re able) and go into your body with your awareness. turn within. see inside your heart, your belly, legs, feet, arms and hands, throat and neck, head. draw your attention on what is happening inside. check out the energy in your chest area, behind your eyes, in your gut, feel within your muscles and bones…tune in and scan to see what it feels like inside you. breathe here for a few minutes.

SENSE

turning from the internal to the external: are you hot? cold? how do your clothes feel on your skin? how does the air touching your skin feel? what sounds do you hear? what do you see all around you–looking up, down, and side to side? observe as if you were a scientist just exploring and doing an inventory of what the 5 senses are picking up.

SOOTHE

take 3 full belly breaths in and out. find some way to soothe yourself. a cup of tea? a walk in nature? a piece of music? a healing mantra? petting a dog? choose something that soothes and restores.

~practice, rinse, repeat.~

Autumn, Balance, Compassion, Curiosity, Embodiment, Emotions, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Healing, Life Coaching, Love, Love is Space, Meditation, Mindfulness, Silence, Soul, Spirituality

Intention, Reflection, Solitude, and Heart

Retro-Fallyinyang

For me, summer can tend to feel full and fun and overflowing with activity. It has a vibrancy and dynamism I enjoy in the hot sunny weather I soak up into my Vitamin D-loving skin.

As we downshift to fall, a new atmosphere takes over. The air is cooler, thinner. The evening sky arrives earlier and night sounds emerge in the dusk. Things slow down.

Last night I sat in my apartment enveloped by cricket sound and shadows and twilight. I felt pulled into a spaciousness and relaxation in the hypnotizing chirp that rose from the darkness.

I find that the arrival of autumn actually creates more space for me to re-set my intentions and be more deliberate about how I expend the energy I have. As I move into quieter days, what are the ways I live that are absolutely essential to my soul and spirit? And of what can I let go?

This brings me to why I do the work of coaching. When I am powering along and checking off to-do lists and staying on top of my responsibilities and running around from social event to work commitment to community meeting, I can go on for some time without ever being with myself. My head takes charge in attempting to manage and organize life, and it seems like I am doing everything “right” and staying on track. But I am not there. I am not in it–i am not really in my body or in my life.

The kind of overflowing that feels most nourishing is not the abundance of outer activity, but the abundance of our own inner resources. Coaching can be that pause button for someone else–and in the questions and the quiet, it offers my clients the opportunity to plug into their inner sense of calm, clarity, energy and wisdom.

I so believe that there is nothing more healing that being with ourselves completely. I am passionate about supporting that connection, in myself and others, that feeds our souls. Noticing, with our natural awareness, what we feel in our bodies. Tuning into our hearts, with breath and attention. Grounded and supported, by our own center.

Join me for a week long online retreat. It’s free…and though it is online, its goal is to get you offline for 20-30 minutes a day of Intention, Reflection, Solitude, and Heart. I will offer simple practices to encourage and support an ease of change into fall stillness and self-connection.

It’s easy to sign up. And the commitment is what you are willing to put in…and what you would like to get out of it. We start 10/10/2015 in the evening…we wrap up 10/17/2015. Each day, you will receive an email inviting you into short meditation, journaling, gratitude, nature walks…you have a lot of choice about how you do the practices. They are designed to nurture you as you only know how. open1

There is also an optional Facebook group that you can join in and share your experiences and support each other, if you wish. Contact me here if you’d like to be added.

Would love to have you there! Sign up here.

Compassion, Curiosity, Healing, Love is Space, Open, Personal Growth, Radical Acceptance, Spirituality, Suffering, Transformation, Wisdom

the hidden gifts of sorrow, fear, and other bummer feelings

Cheering someone on who is feeling down with a “Feel better!” or “Stay Positive” may feel supportive, but as Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out, shows, sometimes the best way to joy is sadness, and these kinds of statements can feel dismissive of whatever pain we are experiencing.

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When we try to skip over what we are feeling or when well-intentioned family and friends tell us to feel something other than what we are feeling, it can make us feel invalidated, shame for not feeling 100%, and make things worse by asking us to deny what is needing our attention and sensitivity. By shining a light on sadness, pain, anxiety…truly seeing it, spending some time with it, acknowledging and understanding why it is there, we can move through it and even touch a little gem in its center. We can hold our attention on and validate our feelings, without getting caught in mental drama or a story. Just giving to this emotional energy and the physical sensations that come up with it some space to breathe, we often find it can release and move on more easily.

Here are some ways so-called “negative” emotions serve us

  • they tell us valuable information about something we are needing –either a change we need to make, a new perspective we can adopt, the suffering can be motivation and signalling that something is off that we can take action around
  • they call on us to harness our inner strength and deep humility of feeling powerless, they give us a chance to practice radical acceptance, courage and surrender
  • they allow us to ask for and receive support from people who care about us–to share our vulnerability and be open to feeling how truly loved and cared for we are
  • they connect us to a shared experience of being human–there is not a single person who has not felt difficult feelings–we can use this knowledge to feel a sense of solidarity and empathy with all the beings who’ve experienced loss, uncertainty, or tragedy and to send them and ourselves some love as we breathe in that awareness
  • they give us the full range of the human experience, for if we numb ourselves to pain, we also dilute the capacity to feel joy–we feel more fully alive when we allow all of it into our experience

Don’t see sorrow, sadness, worry, or anger as “bad”–see it as a signal that something needs to happen, that you are alive, that you can ask for  & receive support, and feel a part of this web of human life that both suffers and celebrates. Feel the power you have to move through it, the willingness to feel it without judgment, and learn how to care more and more radically for yourself–all of yourself. Sad and joyful and everything else!

Awareness of Sensation, Compassion, Curiosity, Freedom, Healing, Life Coaching, Love, Love is Space, Mindfulness, Open, Power Within, Spirituality, Suffering, Tonglen, Transformation, Wisdom

why lovingkindness

A few days ago I came across a promotion for a self-care program that had among its marketing messages, a quotation attributed to Buddha. It urged: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

This adage stood out to me because I knew this had to be a fake Buddha quote–that is, one of the many memes on the internet that go around with a message that sounds nice but that doesn’t really sound very Buddhist, and when we search his works, we find he actually never said.

Buddha never said such a thing because he didn’t have to.

lovesignIn Buddhism lovingkindness means extending the compassion we have towards ourselves out to the entire universe. It takes for granted that we accept ourselves and regard ourselves with kindness and warmth and asks us to share this with the people we know, people we don’t know, even people we feel most challenged and offended by, and then, too, to all beings.

This is not to deny the importance of the prescription to love ourselves first. When the US psychologist and meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg asked the Dalai Lama to speak to the issue of “self-hatred” at a small gathering in 1990, he was utterly baffled and confused by her question, and repeatedly asked the translator for help, convinced he couldn’t be hearing correctly. Through their discussion in which he asked her to explain the thoughts and behavior of the self-hating, it became apparent that what is a rampant affliction in the West has little hold in the East.

So even if the Buddha never uttered these words as it wasn’t part of the culture, it seems like those of us in the modern West are desperately in need of its message. Lovingkindness, however, isn’t just love and affection. It’s not about feeling sentimental, sweet, and gooey towards ourselves and the whole of humankind. Lovingkindness is as much about absence as it is about presence. It is about the absence of suffering.

As a coach, I see it everywhere: “Self-care, self-care, self-care.” I am not convinced that this is what we most need. For in most people’s minds self-care is additive. If we continue our pace of life, continue to rush around and set goals for ourselves in work and relationship based on societal standards, continue to identify with our thoughts, continue to believe in the many lies of a culture that sells us our identities and sense of success on the backs of others, continue to get hooked by our fears, and continue to believe our stories about who we are and how we are limited in life and happiness, but then add some bubble baths, green smoothies, yoga or 10 minutes of daily meditation, then we still suffer. We might be adding some comfort but we are not taking away the root causes of suffering.

So if we start with self, and we must, in order to share with others, this needs to go beyond just feeling warmth and affection or celebrating our positive attributes. True compassion means freedom from suffering.

flowers

This is where self-care collapses in on itself and the paradox of self/other as one is revealed. We free ourselves from suffering, in part, by wishing others free, by seeing others having what we have, by wanting for others what we want. We free ourselves when we see the fate of others bound up in our own, and contribute to the health and care of ourselves so that we may show up fully for others. We question the thoughts that cause our suffering and see how our beliefs and habitual behaviors create pain in our lives and in the lives of others. Without judging ourselves or beating ourselves up–just with the recognition, an “Oh, i see that!” and choosing something different next time.

What if we didn’t believe the voices that tell us we are not worthy or enough? What if we all were to start from the same place of knowing our true nature, and that of all beings, is what wants to be expressed through us? What if we knew that true nature is love-filled, clear, open, pure, and generous?

What if when an inner voice cuts us down or tells us we failed, it is put in its place, immediately, as an untrue thought that is trying to pull us out of our power, beauty, and sense of well-being out of fear? What if we were to feel that fear without getting trapped in its stories about what it means, and to wish for ourselves, in that moment of shakiness, freedom from suffering? What if, when we get hooked or pulled into engaging with such thoughts, we noticed the sensations in our body, nurtured the wounds that weep these old hurts and insecurities, and then moved forward from a place of profound knowledge of our passion, purpose, and goodness?

How much more effective would we be in assisting and giving to others from this place of confidence in our own loving nature?

This is the work I do with my clients. For me, coaching is less about self-care and more about self-aware. Aware of self, we are awake to life and continually learning to relate to ourselves & others in a completely new way. We channel the power of the whole universe through our body, breath, being, for our unique purpose and path, motivated by an intention to share our best and express our individual talents & gifts.

In the ultimate view, the Buddha would say that the question of self-care isn’t relevant…our true nature points to an illusion of a separate self. I care for me means I care for you because we are the same, living out soul and spirit in our amazingly singular spectacular expression.

Don’t let society dampen you down or tell you who you should be or how you should live. Don’t believe the messages about what it is to be selfless, responsible, or successful unless it truly resonates with your soul.

Start here, with lovingkindness

And end? There is no end.

Just continue to practice lovingkindness. Breath by breath.

All else is illusion.

 

Life Coaching, Love is Space, Open, Silence, Soul, Spirituality, Transformation, Wisdom

silence is magic

While working with a client this morning in a coaching session, i asked one of my favorite kinds of questions: the kind that elicits complete and utter silence. The kind that opens up space for her to go inward, to new depths & from a new vantage point she hadn’t previously considered.

During my coaching sessions, i ask a variety of questions. Many of these are to help give me more clarity around why the client thinks the way she thinks.  I notice the things she takes for granted as true and aspects she has left out from view so that i can better sense what options live outside of the way she has formulated and approached the issue she wants coaching around.

Then i ask questions that are meant to stop the client from moving forward and outward with her language and instead to turn her around, to look inside–i mean really look inside, deeper, and to do so with a new frame of reference. What question will break through, create space, and allow her to consider things anew? It doesn’t feel like I am devising some strategy to come up with the “right” question, but rather, quite organically, when the client is ready and willing, our movement back and forth creates the opportunity to drop in more and more.

In these silence-inducing inquiries, i find the client is interrupted from her normal thought pattern, from the known, and is plunged into the unknown or unconsidered. Here, she has no immediate answer.  When pulled out of her familiar story and usual way of relating with life events and inner experiences, she is speechless and must go look inside of herself for understanding.

silence

I  love when listening & intuition lead me into questions that open up this silence because i know this is where the magic happens! Sometimes it is the question alone, given time to sink in and reframe her thinking–that is more powerful than any answer could be.

The client may say something explicitly like “I have never thought about it that way,” or “Hmmm, that’s an interesting question.” They may say nothing. My job as coach is to offer the question and give them the gift of silence. Silence is rare in our speedy media & tech saturated society. It is a beautiful way to witness, listen deeply, and to require of the client to rely on her own knowing and wisdom.

It is so essential for me, as a coach, to not fill that powerful silent and open space with more talk or with any attachment of getting to some goal or specific realization. When the client receives the silence, and receives the invitation by diving into themselves, they make a powerful shift. They have moved…maybe only an inch, but they have shifted into an unfamiliar stance from which that question was asked. They are changed. They will continue to change after the call is over as they ponder the question and integrate the shifted perspective. Coaching creates silence, and silence is magic.

What are some ways you can create more silence in your life?

 

Awareness of Sensation, Compassion, Discernment, Healing, Love is Space, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, Psychology, Suffering, Wisdom

When Distraction is a Good Habit

Walking through my local co-op grocery store this evening, i noticed the latest issue of Tricycle magazine.  In orange and black typeface its cover commanded: “DROP DISTRACTIONS.” Its subtitle continued: “And find time for what really matters.”

i browsed the article and it had some great advice on paying attention to what websites we’re visiting, how much time we’re spending behind a screen, noticing the feelings that are driving our habits, and taking steps to move our attention to something else–going outside, scheduling times for email and blocking our social media sites for a chunk of time.

it can be helpful to discover how it is we are using our leisure time and to reprioritize according to our values. it can be helpful to unplug and open our awareness to the magic of life beyond a screen.

but something was missing from this perspective.

buddhajam

it doesn’t surprise me to see distractions–especially of the tech variety–being cast in such an unquestionably negative light in a Buddhist magazine. then again, i think of how Buddhism is also a practice of using what is human to wake up. being distracted is just a part of reality, and we need not judge ourselves for going there, nor judge our choices, as Tricycle does (inspired by this kid’s classic) as “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.” i mean, there are no “bad” habits–just ineffective and painful ways of trying to meet our legitimate needs. instead, we can practice compassion. and more, we can use distraction mindfully.

Accept Distraction.

Sometimes we need a break. From painful emotions, intense thinking, or physical discomfort. We can consciously choose to distract ourselves without it meaning we are being unmindful, unspiritual, or self-indulgent. Knowing our limits and being tuned into our needs means approaching the internet, technology, tv, games, or other activities generally regarded as time or mind wasters in a way that can be healthy and helpful. Really.

Distract yourself effectively, mindfully, and skillfully by finding ways to draw your attention from worries, stress, or suffering into activities that feel relaxing or amusing. Set an intention and say it aloud to yourself. For instance: “Right now, I consciously choose distraction to help me cope and relax during a difficult time. My intention is to feel some lightness and relief.” It’s okay to choose to totally forget and have fun for awhile if your nervous system is heightened and needs some TLC. Or any other quality R&B.

Notice how you are feeling as you are doing whatever you are doing…allow the distraction and bring in awareness of sensation. Do you feel any relief…where? Any lightness…where? Any emotions at all…where in the body? Breathe into it and just be with it as you continue to distract yourself with whatever diversion you’ve chosen.

Meet the Underlying Need.

The Tricycle piece takes a step toward this when asking “What’s this all about?” We can see what feelings are coming up that may be expressing themselves or repressing themselves through busyness or entertainment. That is, sometimes anxiety and fear show up as lots of grasping for information and answers, insecurity and loneliness might be behind compulsive email and social media surfing, boredom and disconnection could be under our marathon tv binge.

It’s not enough to just see this and then change our activity, as much as we believe we’ve rationalized our way out of these emotions, they are likely going to return and show up even in our more so-called wholesome activities. We can be walking in the woods or sitting on a zafu and still be ruled by distraction.

treesshadow

So go deeper…

What is this feeling really telling me? What is it needing?

My own reassurance, my own love, my own presence, my own patience, my own encouragement, my own faith, my own surrender.

Keep going…

How can I give this to myself now? What is a step I can take toward meeting my needs?

Take some full belly breaths. See yourself as already 1000% being reassurance, love, presence, patience, encouragement, faith, surrender. Make a welcoming gesture with your arms, allowing the feeling in and giving yourself fully over to it…in your attention, your understanding, your compassion.

Because you know what really matters? You do. Trust yourself to make smart choices for you!