I agree with Teal Swan, the reality is that for the most part people are not emotionally safe to be in relationship with. That includes me right now. For the moment, I should wear a warning sign for although I may be smiling on the outside, on the inside, I am a grieving ball of swirling pain and confusion. WARNING: Imminent Danger. Wounded. Hold Space. Step Back. Let Be.
I wonder how many other people are walking around like this today.
Right now, I have placed myself in stealth healing mode. I am recalibrating, retreating and reflecting and yes, I want limited contact with the outside world.
We all have our painful struggles. I just really want to learn, grow and take responsibility for my part. To grow stronger while strengthening my very own locus of control. This will enable me to go forward in life choosing people, places and things that are better for me. Better decisions come from a stronger mind. Forgive and let go.
The Deep Dive
On Suffering. To Be a Warrior Against What Is.
I am a huge believer in disrupting and innovating to repair what doesn’t work in society, especially when it comes to the use of technology. As for matters of the heart, there is a different type of disruption that must start with acceptance and approval of whatever situation you are in right now. That’s right. Find the good in the bad. The opportunity in the obstacle.
Spending all of our mental energy bargaining with the universe for what should be, how it could be, when the fact is, sometimes you have to give up the resistance to what is.
This is the problem I have with trying to pray away the pain. Praying is beautiful, but it doesn’t change what is. True change begins when we accept what is and when we are ready, we take action in a new direction.
Note to self: you can’t and don’t control everything. When we suffer, we spend all of our energy fighting what has happened. Wondering how we could have prevented it from happening. The healing begins when you realize you cannot change the outcome of what has already happened. You don’t have to like what is occuring right now, but when you can find the reasons why it might actually be good for you you begin to accept and realize that the remedy has begun. From Teal Swan.
Better Things To Ponder
A better life begins with better thoughts. If you can open up to realize that your thoughts may actually be crappy ones, then you can begin to think more clearly. Yeah that’s right, from crappy to clear.
From “101 things more worth thinking about than whatever is consuming you right now. “From Essays That Will Change the Way You Think book by Brianna Wiest.
So, if you don’t like where you are in life, stopping complaining and start creating.
The way it will feel to have the life you want. The place you’ll live, the clothes you will wear, what you will buy at the supermarket, how much money you will save, what work you’ll most be proud to have done. What you’ll do with your weekends, what color your sheets will be, what you’ll take photos of.
A Magical Medicine Bag
Over the past few weeks, in an attempt to heal myself, I thought about the idea of a Medicine Bag. I have made one myself, that I have been carrying around and using each morning to reflect on the parts of me that need healing.
A Medicine Bag was a special, sacred container for various objects, or amulets, of supernatural power used, or provided by, a MedicineMan or Shaman, to carry ‘medicine‘, or symbols, of animal spirits good luck, protection and strength in battle. The Medicine Bag contains both symbolic and ritual items.
Now, if I had a magical medicine bag, it might contain . . .
- A pair of glasses to see the world and all of humanity with radical loving kindness.
- Soft, beautiful, expanding wings to strap on your shoulders. Magically, they allow you to soar above this world for a new perspective, to glide and to guide.
- Detoxing tea to help remove the sticky, stuck pain cells of the body. The bitter cells that hold anger and resentment. Those cells that may grow up to become cancer, should they not be softened and removed, eliminated from the body. Drink a small cup a day to keep the crazy rage and illness away.
- A softening salve for the heart. When applied, a hardened heart becomes mysteriously able to renew itself. This curative balm begins to mend the heart, putting back all the pieces so it may pump and flow again, while helping the love juice of life flow to every healthy cell in the body.
- A wondrous cape of self confidence that makes one feel resilient, competent, relevant and real. Ready to take on the world with love and enthusiasm. When worn, you know you cannot and will not fail.
- The compass to help you find your true north.
- A pill to help you process past issues. Not a numbing pill, but an enlightening pill.
- The death clock, a countdown tool to remind you that your days are numbered here on this earth with a daily alarm to help you remember to live each day to it’s fullest, doing all the good you can do. Touching everyone that comes your way with heartfelt love and acceptance.
- A super powerful magnet to attract the people into your life who will play and work and love and live with you on this journey. Your like-minded citizens of the world. Your tribe.
- A prescription of forgiveness serum to help heal past relationships, to let go of old pain and to open your mind and heart to the healing of this mystical moment.
- Golden keys to unlock yourself out of imprisoning stories, stories that make you smaller and hurtful.
- Some type of delicious crystalized candy to expand your mind with the metacognition for awakened awareness of what is truly important.
Metacognition – awareness and understanding of one’s own thought process.
Our suffering arises from fear-based stories that are often outside our awareness. These include stories of our deficiency or importance, of being a victim, of being unseen or unloved, of facing failure or rejection. This is true collectively too. We have shared stories of bad “others” that fuel wars, shared stories of the value of continued growth in consumption and production that destroy our earth, shared stories of our human right to enslave and violate other animals. We have the capacity to bring the stories that separate and imprison us into the light of awareness, and with great compassion, loosen their grip. These two talks look at the ways fear-based stories create suffering, and how awakening from them reveals the freedom of our true, and universal, belonging. A meditation from Tara Brach.
Prepared & Active
“Let Fate find us prepared and active. Here is the great soul – the one who surrenders to Fate. The opposite is the weak and desperate one, who struggles with and has a poor regard for the order of the world and seeks to correct the faults of the gods, rather than their own.” Seneca, Moral Letters 107.12
Whatever happens today, let it find us prepared and active: ready for problems, ready for difficulties, ready for people to behave in disappointing or confusing ways, ready to accept and make it work for us. Let’s not wish we could turn back time or remake the universe according to our preference. Not when it would be far better and far easier to remake ourselves. – The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
Don’t deny your world. Your world does not need saving, it needs more of your loving care. It’s begging you to pay more attention to the details.
Accept this moment for what it is.
Suffering is just the refusal to accept what is.
Healing is really just letting yourself feel your most suppressed feelings and recognizing that these feelings are fleeting.
Each day we must go to war and fight the good fight. Vivere est Militare. To live is to fight. Fighting for our dreams with fortitude. Fighting against impulses with discipline. Fighting to be the person I want to be with courage.
Life is a battlefield.
Surrender and Slow Down
Expect some pain today. When faced with problems during the day, I like to think of them as growing pains.
You see, the counter-intuitive (and funny) thing about embarking on the path of personal growth is that it’s not going to be all cake and cookies. Read: 7 Harsh Truths About Personal Growth.
However, whatever you do, don’t add to your pain and problems. Slow down, see life as it is, not worse than it is. Please don’t make it worse with a second arrow.
What’s a second arrow?
If we look at the way we move through the day, when something happens, when we have pain in our body, when somebody treats us in a way that feels disrespectful, when something goes wrong for someone we love, that’s the first arrow.
Our mind and body go into a reactivity that does not help to bring healing. We blame others, we blame ourselves. That’s the second arrow. – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance.
What I’ve come to learn and accept is that there is always a solution of the highest good, but it may not be aligned with what we think we need. Our job is to surrender to the fact that the Universe has a plan far better than ours. I’ve found that the more I surrender to the Universe’s plan the easier it is to move through the discomfort of uncertainty. @ Read: The Universe Has Your Back
If you look at it this way, it becomes clear. If you don’t add value to another person’s existence, then you will not be missed when you are gone. Read: 13 Simple Ways You Can Have More Meaningful Conversations.
Understand the Payoff
of Putting Things Off
The payoff you get for procrastinating is that you don’t have to do the work. You don’t even have to try. It’s so much easier to stay the same, to stay small. Hell, you’re use to it. It’s comfortable. You may not like it that much, but it kind of works. You know what to expect from your day. The work is easy. You are complacent, but you can deal with that. That’s the payoff.
Once you begin to realize that doing the same things you always do will give you the same results you don’t want, then you realize the hard part is starting. You have to put in the effort and be okay with stumbling and bumbling around for a while. It’s like walking through a dank and dark tunnel without a torch. Starting something new is really hard and frightening sometimes.
The Temptation to Control and Repair Everything Around You
When life is uncertain – and when is it not really? – I feel the need to try to control the people around me. It gives me a false sense of security. If I can control what they do, then maybe I can control some of the results. The outcomes.
And we all know, no one really wants us to control them. So, this only has me feeling more frustrated. I am wasting all that control energy doing something that is absolutely frustrating. The only thing I can control is me and my attitude. I must be like water.
Go with the Flow
Try this. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless. Be water My Friend.
In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. This is the true meaning of ‘Be water’. It is the complete and unconditional acceptance of the self. Where the self itself melts and becomes formless, fluid and flexible. When you attain that state, you are water!
Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “When you say something like I love you. . .with your whole being, not just your mouth or your intellect, it can transform the world.” Because we are interconnected, when we awaken love in ourselves and express it, our love changes the world around us. The hearts of those we touch are opened, and they in turn touch the hearts of others.
Love is the basic nature, the goodness of all beings, waiting to manifest. Whether we offer love in silent prayer or aloud, we are helping love to flower in all beings everywhere. This expression of our deepest nature is the living power of loving kindness – as the Buddha said, “it glows, it shines, it blazes forth.” A quote that brought me to tears today from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
Cooking with Love
Fatto a mano in Italian means “hand made” and fatto in casa “home made“. To prepare home made meals by hand with love is an active meditation and the creation of loving kindness. Just like a hug, a tender kiss, a warm embrace, preparing a meal for friends and family with the intention of savoring some time together around the table, is a beautiful way to touch each other’s hearts.
Meals can be sacred. Taking a moment of silence before eating, saying a prayer of gratitude together can make a meal sacred. A lovely prayer-poem from 13th Century Persia and direct quote from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Some nights stay up ’til dawn as the moon sometimes does for the sun.
Be a full bucket, pulled up the dark way of a well then lifted out into light.
Something opens our wings, something makes boredom and hurt disappear.
Someone fills the cup in front of us, we taste only sacredness.
Some of the coolest new kitchen tools to help make meal preparation a little bit easier.
The Pot Clip – less mess on the counter.
On Amazon Trudeau Pot Clip,Assorted Colors
The Citrus Sprayer – for a fresher than fresh spritz of lime, lemon and/or orange.
On Amazon Lekue Citrus Sprayer Set
The Rinse Bowl and Strainer – such a smart idea.
On Amazon Umbra Rinse Bowl and Strainer, White
The Onion holder – because I cringe when I see my daughters slice onions. Safety first.
On Amazon Norpro Onion Holder/Odor remover
On Amazon – Tovolo Pancake Pen
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
Rainer Maria Rilke.
Read: Letters to a Young Poet
Inspired by Tara Brach’s Dharma Retreat Talk “Letting Go of Judgement” 9/05/2015
“Letting go of “adversive” judgement does not mean letting go of wise discrimination,” Tara Brach.
My favorite morning tea
As I read many of your blogs I can see that we are on a similar path of questioning our lives, bettering ourselves and pursing our dreams. As I seek to accomplish the same, mine is a three part story and also an endless loop of lightening up, sparking joy and creating love. Creating a life that I love and that inspires the world.
Success So Far
Some of the less exciting details. In the past year I have lost 25 pounds, toned and strengthened my body, spent five to eight hours a day examining my values, thoughts and inner-conflicts while embracing a new lifestyle mindset of mindfulness and minimalism. All with the help of some of the best mentors, teachers, authors and leaders I can find.
Without going through the harrowing details of my personal backstory, the most important thing to know about me (that I think can help you) is that on July 18, 2014 I had had enough. Enough of everything, including –
- The exhausting “weight of the world” that I thought I held.
- Managing clients with entitled attitudes and bad business models.
- Rushing through my days without a moment to breath.
- Feeling like a worn, torn and tired door mat.
- Arguing and getting enraged at my family because I didn’t know how to ask for help.
- Tackling daily task lists that ran the length of a full page of Staple’s copy paper.
- Trying to play the role of super woman while managing everyone’s mess but my own.
Change don’t come easy.
I honestly believe it takes that amount of anger, pain and/or strong emotion to push someone out of a rut and/or from the false sense of security that society is trying to sell us to creating and designing a life that you love.
This type of energized and emotional fuel is what takes you from reading your hundredth self-help book filled with life hacks to actually taking action.
We are not what we think, or what we feel or what we say, we are what we do. Actions do indeed speak louder than words. If you are unhappy with a particular part of your life, take a strong look at what you are doing to be happier.
Part 1 Lightening Up
Symbolically, I think the added 25 pounds that I gained were due to the heaviness of life, daily strife and stress and uncertainty. I was caught in the spin cycle of success. That compounded with sitting at my desk for 10 hours, eating a mindless lunch and banging away at the keyboard with only face-to-screen interaction for most of the day that did me in.
My transformation began with –
- Getting up earlier each morning to make the time for me.
- Changing my habits and designing result rituals – daily, repeated steps towards my success.
- Remembering to rest, breathe and take a moment to come back to the present.
- Counting calories while eating low-fat nutrient dense foods.
- A powerful dose of daily cardio and strength training workouts.
- Scheduling a 10-20 minute vipassana meditation practice daily.
- Starting each day with a gratitude journal.
- A never-ending commitment to reading, learning and expanding my mind.
Part 2 Sparking Joy (where I am now)
It’s all about letting go. Realizing that perfect is the enemy of good. While it is important to have control over our lives, it can be counterproductive to attempt to control our lives. The energy spent trying to be perfect can keep us from enjoying and appreciating all the good things that exist right before us.
Which also means letting go of thoughts, things, people and habits that no longer spark joy in my life.
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
I am in the process of –
- Removing anything in my home and work environment that doesn’t give me a sense of true enjoyment.
- Guarding my time and my mind with my life. (Note: The 7-Day Mental Diet helps with the mind part)
- Detoxing my doubts and limiting beliefs about what I can actually achieve.
- Saying no instead of yes to people who want my time, even if the immediate rewards seem really great. My new motto, “If I don’t feel it, I don’t do it.”
“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Part 3 Creating Love
For me, creating love in my life begins with forgiving myself and others, no matter what my ego says.
Forgiving ourselves is a process that continues our whole life. We are so used to replaying the story of what is wrong with ourselves and others that living with a resentful, tight heart can become our most familiar way of being.
Thousands of times we might find ourselves caught in stories of what we are doing wrong. Thousands of times we might drop under our blame to where the deeper pain lives. With each round of freeing ourselves through forgiveness, we strengthen our recognition of our basic goodness.
If you have decided to make a change in your life, I would love to hear about your transformational process – what is working for you, books you are reading, workouts you love, films that have inspired with you.
If you suffer from even just an occasional attack of anxiety, worry or ruminating thoughts, this post has some very useful tips on how to stop the spin cycle of subcortical looping, ie. excessive, repeating thoughts of worry and fear. These are therapies and tips that I have been researching and trying on myself. They are not to replace professional medical guidance.
First, a few book quotes from Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness
Worrying as a Way of Controlling the Future
The thoughts spinning around and around in our minds can be very convincing. We build elaborate scenarios of failure and chaos and believe them to be true. This may be very creative, but not conducive to happiness! Worry is a very real kind of mental suffering. I know because I come from a lineage of worriers myself. My mother used to joke that when she couldn’t think of anything to worry about, she’d really get worried. “It was my way of making sure I was taking care of things,” she says.
These are the thoughts that hold us back from doing the things that will bring us success.
Our minds can get stuck in worrying about phantom problems that we convince ourselves are real. As Mark Twain put it, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
Reasonable planning for the future can give us direction, but obsessing about what might go wrong puts us in a perpetual state of stress and rarely brings about positive results.
The Problem with Chronic Worry is that it Solves Nothing and Causes Stress
“New solutions and fresh ways of seeing a problem do not typically come from worrying, especially chronic worry. Instead of coming up with solutions to these potential problems, worriers typically simply ruminate on the danger itself, immersing themselves in a low-key way in the dread associated with it while staying in the same rut of thought.” – Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence.
Health Problems Associated with Obsessive Worry
Not only does worrying drain your energy, chronic worrying will eventually manifest into insomnia, sleep disorders, stomach problems, heart issues, binge eating, headaches, anxiety and depression. I personally have suffered through IBS and severe panic attacks and have been seeking guidance and help my whole life. However, I no longer want to feel this way.
Your Worry and Thoughts are Real, but Not True
So how do we wake ourselves up from the suffering of obsessive worry and anxiety? Tara Brach, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW) suggests you shine some light on the worry by asking yourself a series of questions that begin with – What am I believing right now? Are you believing you will fail at something in the future? That something is wrong with you? That doom and gloom is right around the corner?
While the beliefs you have and those ruminating thoughts running your mind may feel very real they not necessarily true and they may be causing a very real physical effect on your body – like tightness, anxiety and fear.
Illusion exists because it’s not investigated.
As soon as you start questioning these thoughts and beliefs and shine a light of investigation on your fear-based loops you can begin to wake up out of their grip.
Question Your Beliefs
Shining the light of awareness on our worry really helps. Byron Katie the founder of Byron Katie International (BKI), an organization that includes The School for the Work and Turnaround House in Ojai, California recommends we ask ourselves some powerful questions as we investigate the validity of our worry.
Take a moment to answer these questions. (Note, this is not a one time quick fix, in order to really do the work, these questions should be asked over and over again, it’s a practice.)
What am I believing right now?
Is it true? Do I really know that this is true?
What is it like to be living with this belief? What does it feel like? Do I feel small? Contracted? Sad? Defeated?
How has this affected my life to be believing this?
How would I be if I didn’t believe this to be true?
These questions and post was inspired today by this amazing talk by Tara Brach. Click here to listen to more Releasing Limiting Beliefs
Suggested Reading: True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
I am researching and studying the benefits of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Here are a few tips I have picked up a long the way. They have certainly helped me lighten up from the weighted suffering of worry.
Pause and Breathe
Mindfulness interrupts the tape loop by bringing us back to the moment so we can respond to what is actually happening right now. Mindfulness meditation shifts the mode adopted in response to thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation involves a particular kind of attention and mental stance: deliberately, intentionally and non-judgementally paying attention to the present moment. Just one minute of mindful awareness can break the sub-cortical looping and rumination. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Just focus on that breath moving in and out of your body.
Look for Triggers
Triggers are warning signs and triggers for rumination include tiredness, inactivity and irritability. It is important to watch your mind and become aware of any of these emotions, which can lead to bouts of anxiety and obsessive worry. These can be counteracted by taking better care of yourself ie. plenty of rest, exercise and nutrition.
Get up and Move and maybe Join a Team
Cognitive behavior therapy has found that exercise and sports that are action focused and have us directly engaged in an experience can help release worry and rumination. Think yoga, tabata, tennis, skiing and team sports. Participating in sports that require your attention and engagement may really help you immerse in a sensory experience which will help you break the pattern of fear and worry.
Start a New Project
Shifting your activities from routine chores and obligations towards more self-fulfilling and absorbing activities will help you refocus your mind on something new. So will taking a more mindful approach to cleaning the house, running errands and folding the laundry.
Slow Down and Reduce the Rush
CBT therapists will encourage patients to slow things down while only focusing on one thing at a time. They will ask their patients to pace their activities without taking on too much which also may help reduces the sense of “rushing around” and “being under pressure”.
When we lighten up and let go of real but not true thoughts, we make room for more in our lives.
What have you tried that has helped? I’d love to learn more.
One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed about the Dalai Lama is how he treats everyone equally. While one newspaper photo shows him lovingly embracing Jesse Helms, another shows him with his arms around the poor Tibetan refugee. When the Dalai Lama says, “My religion is kindness,” he is expressing his commitment to live with the unconditionally open and loving heart of compassion. Kindness is a facet of the jewel that arises when we remember that we are connected with every living being we meet.
Each person is precious, each person is fragile and each person matters.
Direct quote from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
Image of a girl at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.