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Radical Acceptance

Compassion, Freedom, Life Coaching, Love, Mindfulness, Power Within, Radical Acceptance, Sacred justice, Self-love, Spiritual Activism, Suffering, Transformation

The Summer of Love

We’ve all seen the violence in the news, felt the despair in our communities and our social media feeds. How could I call these past few months the Summer of Love?

Do you know what was happening during the historic Summer of Love? In 1967, at the height of the hippie movement, with the convergence of hundreds of thousands of “flower children” in San Francisco?

The Summer of Love was also the summer of the Vietnam War, clashes of anti-war protesters with police, disillusionment with the gains of the Civil Rights Movement that drove Dr. King to strike out with an economic campaign to eliminate poverty, while also speaking out against the government’s misguided, deadly efforts in Vietnam. The Summer of Love was the summer of race riots and a city on fire, in Detroit, and in Newark. Then, the KKK also sat openly, in public, their hoods atop their crowns but faces exposed. What other commonalities can we see between 1967, and 50 years later, in 2017? It’s what Rebecca Solnit calls “a glimpse of who else we ourselves may be and what else our society could become,” where in moments of disaster and crisis, people come together and inhabit the possible, enacting “an emotion graver than happiness but deeply positive.” Pick up her book, A Paradise Built in Hell to get more of the story about how humanity rises to the tragic occasions of the kind that marked 1967, and that trouble our nation, now. I am not interested in blithely denying the horror of this moment with flowers and warm feelings. Rather, it is a moment when the horror is more visible, but in many ways, no more horrific then when we who could afford to, looked away. We have the opportunity to love–not in the sentimental way–but in the real, compassion in action, a kind of “just mercy” way (there’s another *must read*), in how we face ourselves and how we show up in the world. You can start by donating to EJI or to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Those of you who’ve followed me on my journey, pre-coaching, as a coach, and currently, a counselor-in-training, know that I have been consistent in my message, and it should be no surprise that I’m talking racial equity in my newsletter, again. In some ways my coaching communique reads more like social justice missives. Here’s why: I had some bad-ass teachers when I was 15, 16, 17, 18 years old. They fucking taught Howard Zinn and Marlon Riggs and James Baldwin in high school. I went to my first anti-racism workshop as a junior in college in Chicago. It wasn’t on the news back in 1999, but I saw all of it first hand, when I interned at the Organization of the Northeast, under an amazing mentor of a community organizer, and witnessed how black and brown kids normalized daily abuse from police, while the city offered pathetic solutions like pizza and basketball. I cannot say I have formulated the real solutions, but believe that our society, or the critical mass we need, once well-informed, has the creativity to find ways to justice and healing. In many ways, it starts with people like me, white, with resources, to do things differently.

I want to be clear: when I talk about Love, this is not the same as being “nice.” I have surely upset friends, community members, and readers with my clear and firm voice on these issues. There is a kind of love, mother love, informed by grief and rage, that is designed to protect our vulnerable, our children, our people. I am not a mother by birth, but by living in a society that is willing to kill children and hold nobody accountable for their deaths. I am not afraid of using this loving force to speak the truth. This must be done by more and as many of us, especially us white Americans, who know the gravity of our collective history and how it has shaped the present experience of transgenerational trauma with which so many of our human family live. We need to place our own inherited racism to the side, see it for what it is, even if disguised as humanistic or lofty ideas, and really grasp the experience of the “other.” We all need support in this process, because it’s hard to see the water we are swimming in. There are wonderful resources and racial equity trainings across the U.S. I urge you to message me if you want help connecting to support in your community. I can also work with you as your coach to help you unpack the beliefs and biases you were born into.

As usual, this is a long post. I want to wrap it up by saying that my coaching practice has always been and will continue to center around living a life of greater presence, authenticity, and compassion for self and others. When I was introduced to the wide world of the coaching industry a few years ago, much of it made me very uncomfortable. I resisted the marketing techniques I saw, and decided to go my own way. It would have felt dishonest to promote myself as having reached some pinnacle of spirituality or happiness and sell these mythic ideals as a product. I could not imagine promoting a lifestyle, as a coach, of joy and achieved dreams, while ignoring the suffering of so many for whom there is obstacle after obstacle, socially designed and maintained by us all. Instead, my goal was to encourage and give clients the tools to accept and love themselves, without conditions, and bring that deepened connection with self into all of life. This continues to be my work.

Lastly, I want to share the amazingness that is Kelly Diels with you. In her writing about the Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand, Diels identifies in a cogent and incisive way, the pitfalls of the coaching and spiritual marketplace. She describes the way some of the most successful women in the self-help/spiritual realm duplicate white supremacy in their marketing, all while co-opting the language of revolution, and how we might fall for its intentional social triggers, if we aren’t aware of the strategies being used.

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.

 

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

Adventure, Compassion, Curiosity, Discernment, Failure, Intention, Life Coaching, Life Path, Mindfulness, Open, Personal Growth, Radical Acceptance, Self-love, Transformation, Whole Body, Wisdom

The Big Fat Happy Yes of No

Today I ask: when we have a relationship, job, or lifestyle that doesn’t feel like a fit–can we view these as successful and proud achievements that are part of our path? Can we look at our seeming missteps with gratitude for helping to point us in the direction of truer callings and better matches?

I clocked out of work for the last time yesterday filled with elation, excitement, and pride.

1-Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (7 of 10)

While in my 3 years at social services, I may have struggled, cried, felt powerless, and discovered that it was not the job for me, I wholeheartedly consider my time there a success. Successful because I worked hard to learn policy, programs, and software in order to fulfill my responsibilities. And successful because I used my strengths of compassion, listening, and presence to serve and advocate for some of the highest needs people in my community. But more importantly, I consider it a success that I learned this job was not the right fit for me. It is a success that I quit. It is a success because I love myself and my life enough to move on and claim my true path.

We can tend to look at our past relationships and jobs that didn’t work out as failures or mistakes. Yet more often than not, these are the choices we needed to make with the information we had at the time, with the sense of self and confidence we had at the time, to gain the clarity and poise we need to get even closer to living out what we most desire. They were the best choice we could have made knowing what we knew then. The information we gain from those experiences, then allows us to make even more attuned and informed choices moving forward.

If we are open and aware, they help us to know ourselves better, and to invite us out to new edges of growth and emotional and spiritual risk.

When we recognize that something isn’t working, we are not just saying “No” to that relationship or job, we are saying a big fat happy “YES” to ourselves. The secret is:  keep saying “Yes.”  Keep listening to that stirring of inner passion and heart whisper that told you this isn’t quite what you need, and refine, re-calibrate and trust that, in time, the Nos will move you towards your bigger, fatter, happier YESes.

Often, when we follow our inner impulse and act with courage in honor of what we need, we quickly then backpedal into fear or succumb to mainstream narratives about what is normal or what we “should” be doing. I, for instance, “should” have waited to leave my job until I had another one lined up, or I “should” worry about how I will pay my bills.

I believe that if we make choices from love and trust rather than what society tells us we should do, we are much more likely to land back in our inner wisdom and feel peace with each decision, instead of finding ourselves in another job that pays the bills, but does not feed our souls, or in a relationship that is comforting, but not fulfilling.

So, if you consider the last relationship that didn’t meet your needs, the last job that caused you stress or boredom, can you see the success in your awareness that it wasn’t what you wanted? Can you feel proud for choosing to leave to honor your deeper desires and potential? Can you see how this was an essential experience along the way to where you are going, that showed you the next step to take? Can you keep listening, with courage, to the Nos, even as it challenges convention and norms and ideas about what you “should” do?seascape

It isn’t always the right time for us to leave, of course, and we can also feel proud if we stay and find ways to reduce stress, or stimulate and challenge ourselves, or take responsibility for our own joy. That was my path for many years in the “wrong” jobs. But then there was a “No” inside me whose voice grew louder and more insistent, which I could no longer placate with creative work arounds and spiritual strategies of radical acceptance.

I took the risk and now will own it instead of freaking out (okay, maybe I will freak out a bit). I keep coming back to my body’s cues, my heart’s longings, and am making choices that feel fruitful–emotionally, spiritually, and financially, while also allowing for vulnerability of uncertainty, because the fulfillment of my dreams and expression of strengths make it worth it.

Now is the time to embrace the Yes of adventure, unknown, radical trust in my deeper vocation and lifework. And to feel proud of my so-called failures and Nos for getting me there.

 

Compassion, Discernment, Emotions, Healing, Life Coaching, Mindfulness, Power Within, Radical Acceptance, Relationship, Self-love, travel

family first aid

 

don’t get tangled in your family’s tree. listen to this audio on ways to stay sane while visiting family.

some nuggets

1. bring something from your home that reminds you of who you are–whole, complete, adult, or find a meditation that connects you to your center that you can use as a go-to when feeling shaky

2. bring a distracting or comfort activity to soothe yourself and engage your senses (for me it was a mandala coloring book with colored pencils)

3. find a way to stay connected to your community and chosen family while far away from them, such as scheduling a check in phone call for support, bringing notes of encouragement from friends, photos

4. create space for yourself to have time on your own and set appropriate boundaries

5. accept that your family members are who they are and how they are…don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting them to show up differently

6. keep noticing that you are breathing deeply and taking care of your needs as best you can in the situation

any other ideas?

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.

painpositive

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!

Compassion, Discernment, Healing, Love, Nonviolent Communication, Power Within, Radical Acceptance, Sacred justice, Spiritual Activism, Suffering, Tonglen, Transformation

what to do when we don’t know what to do

i want to talk about Baltimore. more.

after police have been charged in the death of Freddie Gray, many are feeling temporary relief and hope. only the first step in a long road towards justice, how do we stay sane and centered along the way? and how can we respond to the suffering that is still a reality in Baltimore and across the US, where black women and men disproportionately face poverty, imprisonment, and state violence?

when we really grasp the history of our nation and understand just how entrenched institutional racism is, it can be easy to feel discouraged and powerless. while i don’t have some magic formula for creating real change, i offer here practices, tips, and contemplation for when we don’t know what to do in the face of so much suffering.

LoveandJustice

1. turn off the the radio and tv news. limit online article intake.

wha?? why would we do this? don’t we want to stay engaged with what’s happening? well…is the news really what is happening? No. does revisiting the trauma repeatedly help to undo its horror and tragedy? No. once we learn the facts there are to know, maybe it’s time to step back and breathe.

i noticed on day 3 that letting skewed media reportage set the tone for my day with my morning alarm set to NPR was sending my nervous system into a tizzy.

signs to watch for: tension in the body and tightness in head, jaw, neck, shoulders, shallow, fast breathing, a general unsettled feeling and despair or gloom.

i decided to turn it off.

it may be a privilege of being one state + one district removed from events to choose to not take in media coverage of what’s unfolding in Baltimore. and certainly some do not have the luxury of an off switch when it comes to living in a hostile or oppressive environment. but feeling stress in our bodies will not relieve anybody else of their stress. being miserable does not free anyone else.

so shut it off, take a break. underwhelm yourself.

instead of adding more suffering to the planet, focus on peace. outer peace will require bold change and great patience. so what can we do to bring ourselves into an inner sense of calm? not to deny what is happening, but to be able to act instead of react. to know it is us, our own clear minds and wise hearts, responding, and not layers of stress and media-induced despair causing us to act out, and likely, be ineffective.

get quiet. settle into yourself. respond from who you are, not what others are doing.

which leads me into step 2…

2. know who you BE. then act.

i once went to graduation festivities for a community organizing institute a friend did with Oakland’s Applied Research Center–what’s now known as Race Forward. this was in my Bay Area living days, early aughts when i worked at a local Planned Parenthood. i believed vigorously in the power of community organizing, but after a semester internship with Chicago’s ONE, i came to terms that i didn’t have what it takes to be an effective organizer myself. i lamented to the then leader of this organizing institute that i felt i wasn’t doing enough and wish i had it in me to do this essential work. she came back at me with: “We need revolutionaries in every field. We need revolutionary teachers, doctors, lawyers, scientists…” & she listed off various careers I can’t recall 15 years later. the sentiment has stayed with me, though. we need revolutionary life coaches. and we need you to be who you are. when we see thousands in the streets, it is inspiring, it is necessary, and it is not everyone’s calling.

beyou

knowing who we are means action happens as a natural and spontaneous expression of life moving through us. when we allow ourselves to be moved, and where we go is to protest: great. if we are forcing ourselves to show up against what our bodies and intuition tell us, we suffer. not feeling the call doesn’t mean we are lazy or not willing to participate in change. change needs to happen in so many ways and in so many places. go where you are truly called. be the change.

here are some ways that may or may not resonate, to show up for others’ suffering. know who you BE. move from that awareness.

practice power with

try donating! and more donating!

try showing up! across the US or in North Carolina.

try writing a letter to the editor!

for white folks, try speaking up! to other white folks in your community.

practice power within

try tonglen! this is a Buddhist lovingkindness practice that is my go-to for when i am facing difficult emotions, and is a powerful way to both heal ourselves and tap into our compassion for others. keep the flame of compassion burning bright even when the media moves on.

try empathy! as much of a stretch as it might be, we must remember that everyone is suffering and that, oftentimes, the biggest challenge can be extending compassion to those with whom we don’t sympathize, those whose actions we abhor. why would we let them into our hearts? for me, those who commit murder, who trample on the rights of the historically disenfranchised, who unconsciously replicate the implicit biases and blindness of a system in which they were raised are suffering from ignorance–of not knowing themselves, of lacking discernment, of not being connected to their own humanity, of being filled with rage, judgement or hate. if i wish to see them free of suffering, it means i wish for them to know who they are, to claim their humanity, to be humble, open, and surrendered to a power greater than their egos. if i take on the same rage, judgement or hate, even if on the side of morality and justice, i end up suffering, and not being so unlike those whose actions i condemn.

try meditation! this is a quiet way to feel the power that can never be bound, locked up, or stripped away from us. few of us ever face conditions that really test our spirits and force us to cultivate the kind of inner fortitude and self-connection that triumphs over our own personal and external limitations. all of us can access the transpersonal, though, and can sense the space and compassion it opens up for us and for all beings.

May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,
May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.

Awareness of Sensation, Love is Space, Radical Acceptance, Self-love

open (even to the places where you are closed)

open1

opening up to life begins with ourselves.

of course, sometimes it is important to set clear boundaries and not be super porous and vulnerable in every situation. being open-hearted does not have to look like you being cheery or positive all the time, that you have to hug everyone, or that you have to be “nice.”  In my experience, open means opening to the places where we’re feeling closed, to the meanness in us who wants to push a person or experience away, to the discomfort we feel when we are expected to perform or look a certain way but we just can’t fake it. It means opening to our experience.

we can start really small and slow.

together, we look. where are we pushing away some aspect of who we are? where is there strain or shame from hiding something we don’t want to accept about ourselves or don’t want others to see?

and explore on your own:

is there an ideal you are living up to, an identity to which you are attached?  are you denying traits, desires, habits, emotions, fears, mistakes, memories, visions, expressions that don’t conform to that sense of self you want to hold on to, that sense of self that has created meaning in your life, that sense of self that may be based on an old story that you are ready to transform and heal? perhaps it is that story itself that you can see is ruling some part of your life and you have been denying that it still has power.

seeing1

one that in the past, held a strong grip on me was that i should not experience suffering–haha! as someone who had a meditation practice, an understanding–at least somewhat–of the dharma (teachings of the Buddha), i had this unrealistic expectation that i would (should!) feel free, liberated, and joyful and if i suffered i was doing something wrong…or really, i believed that there was something fundamentally wrong with me! sometimes it can be very subtle. another for me is that i used to be very critical of people who i deemed materialistic or image-driven, but then i saw the parts of me that care about my personal style, expression, and that enjoys high quality, well-crafted, beautiful things. while i make an effort to cultivate an appreciation for the objects in my life and maintain awareness of their source, i could not pretend that i was truly “better” than anyone else caught up in the complex web of relationships that characterize our global economy. another is when i see a photo of myself and have a strong reaction to it as not being a good picture of me, wanting to delete it and to carefully select images of myself that i find flattering. this points to an aversion to myself. there is something of what i look like, at least at some times, that i don’t want to see. frowning, grimacing, goofy faces are still mine. can i embrace? and if not can i embrace that part that says “NO!” with a gentleness and warmth that seeks to connect to its fear and offer comfort?

so seeing is the first step, being with fully in acceptance is the next.

take a moment and find something that feels like it fits this quality for you of being pushed away, something that you have felt shame or embarrassment around.

relax your body and take in a deep breath that makes  plenty of generous space for these neglected, rejected parts. really imagine your body expanding as big as the OCEAN…as wide, as deep, as open. breathe through the heart and invite in whatever has come up for you to take up that oceanic space.

ocean

 

feel the waves of sensation move through, feel your body opening up to welcome all of you

keep breathing through this as you shift and expand and experiment with taking this in and saying “i see you. you are welcome here.” notice if any discomfort arises…and welcome that, too.

the more you open to embrace the whole of you, which contains the world, the more that openness is reflected in your interactions in the world.

as you do this exercise with me, what do you notice? where do you feel it in your body? was this hard, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being easy breezy and 10 being mega challenging? post below! i wanna know!

*also, a note on trauma. if this or any meditation or exercise provokes panic, anxiety, or horrible overwhelm, i would advise working with a professional therapist or someone who specializes in EMDR or Somatic Experiencing. my offerings here are to invite you into more self-love, awareness, and spaciousness…this can mean tolerating some distress but should not cause worsening symptoms of anxiety, self-doubt or stress, so only continue if it is manageable!