Browsing Category

Spirituality

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, Emotions, Freedom, Healing, Life Coaching, Love, Meditation, Mindfulness, Open, Personal Growth, Power Within, Spiritual Activism, Spirituality, Suffering, Transformation

On suffering and the overcoming of it.

When I look at the tragic photos and news, I see both the horrors of the bombs and shootings and the thousands of helpers who have rushed in to care for all the suffering. It shows that the world has both suffering and the overcoming of it. It is in the overcoming of it that we are called to respond.
–Jack Kornfield on Paris attacks, November 2015

 

wall-1405964_1920US primary politics. Orlando. Brexit. Blocked immigration reform. Istanbul.

With distressing and heartbreaking headlines in the news, compounded with our own personal challenges, these past few weeks have been a time of heaviness and high emotions for many. Despite or maybe because of these private losses and tragic world events, I decided to focus on the small daily things that bring me joy or inspire me: the Carolina wren scaling my window screen in the morning, the scent of gardenias in front of my apartment, the outpouring of love after the Pulse tragedy and the music that love brought to me in the form of a mix made by a Chicago friend, and many moments of connection shared with loved ones and animals.

I acknowledge and allow the grief and heartache, while also doing my best to not add more suffering to the world. Following the lead of one of the women who I coach in an online women’s support network, who vowed to not get embroiled in heated social media debates that would do little to change policy yet do much to create stress and bitterness, I refrained, as well, and practiced privately sending compassion to each person who posted a view opposing mine online.

I understand why some cannot move beyond grief, fear, and anger. Particularly those whose communities are at the center of tragedies, bloodshed, or political upheaval. I, myself, treasure my own early experiences in gay bars. In the late 90s, the Hide and Seek in Colorado Springs, offered a glimpse into what beautiful worlds are possible when people are free to be themselves, living out their own personal style, flair, and fabulousness. The bar, and those I danced with there–the tight-knit friend group I found in undergrad–introduced me to brave love, universal acceptance, embodied sexuality, and authentic living. And even as I comprehend how grossly this sacrosanct experience was violated, I still choose to live in the celebratory space of my own queer heart that was raised lovingly during late nights at the Hide and Seek, by college friends in the LGBTQ community, and the fairy godnurturing queer friends of my early 20s, like T, who shared my love of girl groups and made me feel Supreme.

We do not need to wilt or shrivel when these horrors happen. We can mobilize for change, we can show up for others in need, and we can live our lives by following the lead of those who dance in the night–loving our own bodies loving other bodies, uplifted, buoyed, and emboldened by solidarity. It’s what happens when we totally embrace and inhabit who we are, and allow ourselves to be loved in a radically open and nonjudgmental way. Not to paint a naively Utopian picture or diminish the high rates of suicide, terror and discrimination facing LGBTQ people, but at their best, this is what queer spaces create: collective, often joyful, overcoming of suffering.

Overcoming does not mean we won’t feel the pain any less, or that we aren’t aware of our broken hearts–it is that we have learned to use that heartache to connect with ourselves and others. Vulnerability can bring us more deeply into the human experience and allows us to love that much more fiercely and compassionately.

We can do our own spiritual work that attends to the overcoming of suffering–the more practiced we are, personally, in the overcoming, the more we can share and serve others in healing themselves, as well. This is worthy work: your personal growth and transformation. It ripples out and allows you to show up strong for a weary world. You loving yourself without apology may give someone else permission to reveal who they are. Even better when we have strength in numbers. Find others around you who are willing to live courageously, wholeheartedly, and come together to create our world anew…we need you!

Celebration, Discernment, Dreams, grounding, Journal, Life Coaching, Life Path, Love, Open, Personal Growth, Power Within, Relationship, Soul, Spirituality, Support, Uncategorized, Wisdom

Spiritual Dream Team

This week I invited the women who participate in my Whole Healthy Living online support group to harness the power and energy of the most amazing women they know, as a collective of psychic support for body, mind, soul.

We’ve been focusing on journaling for the past few weeks and I wanted to share an exercise I’ve found helpful that my therapist shared with me. This is imagining and connecting to a few people who have your back and bringing them into your life, energetically, when you need! To turn this into a deeper journal practice, I added some more content. Check it out!

Who are the women you would pick to be on your spiritual dream team?

mystical-woman-huebner-7

A brain trust is a group of advisers and experts. Say you could have a brain, heart, and soul trust for life…who would you choose to be there for you? Who do you want with you as you move through life’s celebrations and challenges…and why are they there?

They may be women whose wisdom or insight supports you or challenges you, women who inspire you for their enthusiasm or energy, women who live boldly, embodied…who have been loyal friends. Whatever the reason, make a list of 12-20 women who you choose to be on your dream team. They may be real or fictional, living or passed on. These are the women you want with you, by your side, energetically. Women you can call upon in need for their clarity, strength, softness, kindness, etc. You decide.

Now next to their names, list the 3-5 traits they have that made you put the on your team.

So your page should have 2 columns

Name                                                                  |                      Why I want them on my team

1.
2.
3. and so on…

When you’ve finished writing down the qualities of your dream team members, see if you notice the themes that make up your community. What does it take for someone to be worthy of your appreciation, respect, or admiration?

You can take it further by reflecting on some examples when you showed up with these same traits and realize how, for those same reasons, you might be on someone else’s dream team. Write some thoughts about how you’ve had some of those qualities you most admire. Celebrate you and your community.

Compassion, Freedom, Healing, Intention, Life Coaching, Love, Meditation, Mindfulness, Open, Relationship, Self-love, Spirituality, Suffering

Freedom from Wanting

Last week in gathering with spiritual friends–2 women with whom I’ve been meeting for 2 years to share in sacred circle (or triangle) about our relationship with meditation, self-awareness, and trans/personal growth–we sat together and followed a guided meditation practice by Sharon Salzberg.

Our group moves through inspirational books together, though our meetings are not strictly book discussions. We open up, reflect, and listen to one another as we grapple with how the questions, quests, and heart lessons in these works land in our everyday lives.

We recently started traveling through life with Salzberg’s book, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, as our companion. We began our first evening together with this book by listening to a 15 minute lovingkindness practice available on Insight Timer.*

The practice is like most metta meditations: well-wishes and compassion sent first to self and then expanding outward to wider circles of people, creatures, beings–friends who are kind to us, strangers we feel neutral towards, people with whom we have conflict, broader communities of beings and the world of life.

peace

In this focused endeavor of sending love, health, and peace to self, friend, foe, familiar and unfamiliar souls, I noticed something happen. In only 15 minutes i felt a sense of fulfillment, ease, and warmth that had felt out of reach for me all week.  In my ruminating and longing, hours and days before,  in my busy and noisy mind, my worry about the future, desire for different outcomes or pushing away of sadness or loneliness, I’d created a lot of suffering–all rooted in wanting to be happy. And in the simple attention on happiness as it already exists in my own present moment–and sharing that with others–suddenly that suffering was gone. In wanting to be happy, I felt pain. In connecting to happiness and wishing it for others, I felt…happy. It is unbelievably simple. Maybe I can’t metta myself into happiness 24/7, but this provides a tool to heal ourselves and pull us out of thoughts that cause suffering when we are really feeling down or lost.

A simple mantra and a focused heart can cut through such hurtful thoughts about our shortcomings, our failures, our regrets, our fears about the future, and all that ails us in a culture in which shame, self-hate, and self-doubt are so common.

A lovingkindness meditation will be some variation of these metta phrases:

May I be free from harm. May I be happy. May I be healthy. My I feel peace.

May you be free from harm. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you feel peace.

May all beings be free from harm. May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings feel peace.

Starting by turning inward, then to specific persons we like and don’t like, and then global communities.

 

Another that I practiced this week:

this is a moment of suffering. suffering is a part of life and all beings suffer.

may i be kind to myself. may all beings feel peace.

Repeating for several minutes (when something is troubling you set a timer and keep cycling through)

it’s an antidote to the wanting and despair that so often fills our minds. may you feel peace!

*Insight Timer an app that is free to download with many excellent offerings and a handy dandy chime timer for meditation.
Awareness of Sensation, Embodiment, Emotions, grounding, Meditation, Mindfulness, Silence, Soul, Spirituality, Whole Body

In 2016? Resolve to do more of nothing + more loving.

I’ve long been suspicious of the popular tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. I see a profit-driven mass media stoking people’s fears and insecurities and using marketing tactics that exploit our vulnerability by getting us to feel bad about ourselves and to invest in self-improvement products and memberships. It can amp up the frenzied and fast-paced tendency to seek for satisfaction from external goals or by trying to live up to unrealistic societal ideals of adventure, fitness, balance, or beauty.

On the other hand, there is something inspiring and powerful in the ritual of resolutions. That so many people are focusing energy and attention on intention at the same time, can fuel our own motivation and support us.  How do we set goals that bring us into more of a sense of our own power and wisdom within? How do we trust we are moving at our own perfect pace and keep encouraging ourselves to love ourselves when things are hard or we mess up?

I am totally thrilled to have assembled a group of awesome women to support one another in our goals through my women’s whole wellness group that starts meeting online on January 1st. And I love list-making and box-checking from my to-dos. But the 2 most important tips I want to share for the arrival of 2016 are not about what to do but more about what not to do.

2016open

  1. Do not be hard on yourself! Please be kind, remind…yourself of how much you’ve done, how far you’ve come. Validate your feelings. Cheer yourself on and note successes. Do not use resolutions to beat yourself up, to judge or criticize yourself, compare yourself, or feel like a failure. Discouraging thoughts, harsh judgments when you fall off track do not help–they harm! They do not help motivate or change your behavior for the better. They do not come from a place of love or heart. Anytime you catch yourself in a hateful or mean thought about yourself, your emotions, energy level, progress on your goals, press PAUSE and take 3 deep belly breaths. Put your hand on your heart and offer some supportive and gentle words–to the part that let you down AND the part that is disappointed. The disappointed part has a message and a fear–acknowledge and love it. But remember you are much more likely to meet your goals and live up to your vision when you live from a place of compassion for yourself.
  2. Sit and do nothing. This is a quiet kind of courage–of going against the grain of our culture and the pressure to accomplish lofty, amazing, magical things in the new year. Believe that what needs to happen will happen–and with much more power and clarity behind it when you are moving from a centered and calm body, spirit, mind. It is brave to sit with ourselves quietly–5, 10, 20, 30 minutes a day, because when are just present to our experience without phones, friends, netflix, music we begin to FEEL the extraordinary sensations and emotions that are happening within us. Sometimes these can feel uncomfy, overwhelming, frightening, ungrounding, or giddy. Can you sit and BE and allow with the gentlness of holding a baby. Feel that icky feeling move through you as you would attend to an infant, vulnerable, innocent…maybe the infant is shitting on you and crying and screaming…how do you hold and be with an annoying baby? Curious to know their needs? Understanding their discomfort? Listening for cues of how you can help? Compassion for their suffering? Be with yourself like you would be with a baby. Set a timer. Monday 5 minutes, Tuesday 1o, Wednesday 15, Thursday 20, Friday 25. Can you go up to 30 on the weekend? Breathe, listen, feel, and be.

 

Dreams, Intention, Meditation, Open, Personal Growth, Power Within, Silence, Soul, Spirituality, Transformation, Wisdom

The Magic of Rebirth in Every Moment

Yesterday, after a trip back from the store and my beau’s house down the street, I walked, distracted by thoughts, towards my stairwell.  I was calling my dog in from the wooded wild that faces my apartment when, in the shadowy dark of evening, perched breathtakingly close to me, was the majestic barred owl.whooo

I stopped in my tracks and snapped out of thinking, overtaken by its quiet, powerful presence. In resplendent stillness, it sat with its enormous eyes fixed–it felt as though–right on me. Suddenly, it swooped over to a branch on a nearby tree and continued its hypnotizing stare. I stood under its watch, immobilized, in awe. A wave of giddy excitement cut through me and I broke my gaze to search out a friend who lives downstairs. I wanted her to come share the moment with me. She is someone who I know loves owls, but mostly my motives were selfish–I wanted someone to affirm and witness the wonder and mystery of the moment with me. In my glee, I didn’t even notice her car’s absence–so, I was to be alone with owl (excepting my dog–who whimpers, growls, and whines at the 3 am hooting that often emerges from the forest, but in its stunning silence, my lil Yoko was oblivious.)

Owls signify many things according to varying traditions, cultures, mythology. While I refrain from using language like “spirit animal,” as it feels like cultural appropriation (often made as a casual and superficial reference out of context from its deep meanings and specific cultural origins of which I am an outsider). However, I do resonate with and sense the personal and beyond-personal symbolism of owls. Intuition, wisdom, clear seeing, and a harbinger of change and death.

Mainstream culture can tend to avoid and even recoil at the reality of death. Death is an ending, and along with grief, disorientation, and loss is also the space to dream, create, and break through to the new, to experience rebirth–in this moment, and the next. When we die to the past we open up and are free from beliefs or identities telling us what we can or can’t do or be.

Each moment is an opportunity to start over. To drop the thoughts, the stories, the patterns that keep us fearful, small, or stuck. Not that we are reborn into a blissed out utopian dimension free from fear or stress or human problems, but we no longer let fear guide us or make for us choices that try to protect and keep us safe, but often limit our power and possibilities. Or when we do, we wake up and get the chance to change course and re-calibrate with compassion for the fear and the mis-steps and with courage for moving through it.

I gave my notice at work nearly 2 weeks ago and am approaching the end of my 3 years of working in social services. But this is the smallest of the changes I need to face. What about stepping into my dreams of what is next? What about believing in my unique voice and contributions? What about cutting the crap out that keeps me procrastinating and delaying bold and big action? What about being brave? What about living as if I already am the strong & soulful woman I imagine I want to be?

For me this means the following:

I,

  • make choices in integrity with who I know I can be–the me who is choosing from Love, not fear, the me who is generous, brave, and lives from inner guidance
  • take spiritual and emotional risks in order to grow, even if it feels scary, hard, and painful
  • take a month off from social media to reconnect to the kinds of modes of connection that sustained + nurtured me pre-2.0 (letters, meditation, walks in the woods, time in person with friends and loved ones)
  • throw myself into my passions and spend time each day doing the work that makes the dream possible
  • stop hiding who I am or making myself smaller or “nicer” to be liked
  • call on owl energy and let it serve as a reminder to stay open to change, to trust intuition, to see beyond what my mind thinks is real or possible

What about you? Do you have a list of things you can start or stop doing NOW to move more into the you whom you dream of being one day in the future? What is dying so that something new can be born within you? What is possible for you in the next moment, if you drop a pattern or an old way of being? What is possible if you live as if you know you are already magnificently brilliant and living your purpose? Each moment is an opportunity to reclaim your magic.

Have a list? I’d love to hear what you come up with!

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.

Balance, Compassion, Curiosity, Discernment, Dreams, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Intention, Life Coaching, Mindfulness, Power Within, Self-love, Soul, Spirituality, Whole Body, Wisdom

Balanced Living Part 2: Steps Towards Sanity

As I shared in my previous post, if we can move from the myth that balance is a state at which we will finally arrive and once and for all, figure out, then we can instead embrace living each day as an intentional practice of balancing. I want to offer some tips on how to bring more of a sense of ease around the goal of balance.

First, I want to check in. What does balance even mean to you? “Work/life balance” is a bit of a buzz phrase these days and we can easily assume we know what it means without examining it more closely. What aspects of balance, if any, are important to us?  Balance usually doesn’t mean literally spending an equal amount of time at work as we do in our personal life.  Fundamentally, this whole phrase “work-life” balance seems to set up a false dichotomy between who we are at the workplace and who we are outside of the office. Indeed, the more we can merge those two seemingly separate worlds into one–as in our most cherished goals, values, and dreams are being played out in all that we do, whether in career or in friendships and our homes, the more of a sense of balance we tend to feel.

sunglow

What is this for you? What intention would you set to inform how you live your life wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I aim to live in embodied presence, openness, and compassion at my day job and at night. There are choices I can make day to day to encourage that approach to living. What feels like balance to you? What synonyms might resonate with you that get to the heart of what balance means for you, personally? Present, centered, calm, relaxed, integrated, whole, alive?

(R you ready?) Here are 7 steps you can take towards living a daily life of balance.

  • Refine –Get clarity on what balance means to you. What are the particular qualities of feeling balanced, for you?  What are the activities and values that support that? What are some choices you could make, starting now, to bring the qualities of balance into your life. Does meditation help ground and center? A regular fitness routine? Whole nutrition and lots of water intake? Laughs with family? Hikes or  yoga or knitting? Are there things you’ve not been doing that really would contribute to more of a sense of balance? Do some journaling about what you’d like to bring more of into your life.
  • Reflect –Track everything you do for a day and create a list or pie chart that measures out how you spend your time. Minutes on social media, moments of worry or rumination, hours sleeping, time working on creative projects, exercising, etc. Are there ways you are spending time that don’t actually support your sense of balance? If there are activities that drain you of energy, what steps can you take towards letting those go?
  • Refuse –Now that you know what balance is for you, learn to say “No,” to requests that do not align with that. This could mean setting boundaries around your time and space, or resisting impulses and urges to zone out online or with TV. Be intentional about each choice you make and how it fits into your priorities. It is okay to say “No” without offering any justification for why. Be strong and clear in knowing that how you spend your time matters, so that you can show up fully invested and present in all you do because you’ve chosen to be there, in full awareness of how it fits into your intentions.
  • Rethink –Are there errands that you are running randomly throughout the week that cause you to take multiple trips in the same direction? Be strategic with your errands and find a way to consolidate driving (busing/walking/subwaying) out to get things during the same visit. Could you ask for support to lighten the load or help with chores?
  • Refrain–Take a vacation from complaining. It is natural to want to vent and can be helpful to feel and express our emotions. However, getting stuck in a loop about how busy and overwhelmed we are or how hectic life is can heighten our overwhelm and reinforces a story that we are powerless to direct our daily choices and how they affect us. Notice when you tend to go into that thought pattern and interrupt it. Focus on the why of what you are doing and talk about that instead. Shift your perspective from complaining about what you are doing to celebrating the why behind it. I care about going to work, for instance, because it sustains my beautiful and nurturing home and it allows me to contribute to my community. Even in the moments I don’t enjoy it, it is showing me how to move closer to work I love.
  • Relax –Schedule downtime in your calendar/planner/to-do list so that you guarantee yourself space in your day to do nothing. Even if a day looks to be full…find the 15 minutes or half hour. Protect that time as if it were any other commitment.
  • Remember –You are human, you are alive. Our worlds are in constant change, the amount of activity and intensity ebbs and flows. Accept that sometimes we will feel pressure and stress and that is not a sign that we are failing or doing something wrong.  There are ways to encourage calm during the chaos. Go to what makes you reconnect to who you are underneath the noise, to-do lists, and demands. Breathe in the air of being you, being here. Know you are doing great work!

beinghere

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!

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.