Friday, July 21, 2017

Rhyme Time

Aura a11

Healing works best when done with a sense of trust, joy and even playfulness. Years ago I had friends watch the healing energy around me when I was doing a session and they gave me feedback about when it was good and when it seemed to collapse. It was at its best when I maintained a playful, joyful and easy state. Worry, thinking too much, or taking it too seriously all brought the energy down. Sometimes with a thump.

This is not to say healing isn't serious, but it is to recognize and acknowledge that the serious intention and compassion can co-exist with trust, joy and playfulness.

Some days when I do my healing sessions, it's easy to fall into that playful, joyful state. Other days it is harder. So I have a few tricks I use. One is rhyme time.

I take a few breaths to put my attention in the moment, in my body, in the place. I go through my usual steps of paying attention to the temperature of the air and the sounds around me. Then I bring in gratitude. I notice what's around me that I am grateful for. Little things are just as important as the big stuff: This is when I use rhyme time if my mental energy is still a bit too active.

Here's an example:

One July morning, while outdoors, I thought, "Thank you for the summer breezes." Hey, I'm a summer girl, what can I say?

Then I asked myself what else do I feel grateful for - something that rhymes with breezes? Trees (sort of.) "Thank you for the treezes," a silly thought that lightened things right up.

Then I wondered what else rhymes? "Thank you for the sneezes." I love that rush/goosebump feeling after a good sneeze.

Then I'm good to go. A little silly goes a long way. It's from that place that I move best into prayers and healing.



First published August 2017 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Being Patient With Myself

from https://www.facebook.com/pg/justinbaldoni/


I saw a pic the other day that was timely. Two men stood quietly and patiently above an upset toddler in a shop. One is the father of the little girl, and the other the father of the father. The two of them were smiling lovingly at her, waiting her out - supporting her without needing to change anything. The dad said, "My dad always let me feel what I needed to feel, even if it was in public and embarrassing. I don't remember him ever saying "You're embarrassing me!" or "Dont cry!" It wasn't until recently that I realized how paramount that was for my own emotional development. Our children are learning and processing so much information and they don't know what to do with all of these new feelings that come up. I try to remember to make sure my daughter knows it's OK that she feels deeply."

It was timely because I'd just made up a new card for my Joyful Intentions: "Today I will be patient with myself," and it came up that day in my own Sunny Day reading. I stopped when I read it and thought about these two patient men. My efforts to stick with a healthy eating regime had been failing in the week or two before and I was feeling stressed and helpless about it. The card reminded me that despite my best efforts, life tends to cycle. I am more helpless at times than I like. Just like a crying child, I need patient support at times like these - support without a need for anything to be different.

I recall being patient with my own daughter when she was a toddler. It may have seemed easier for me to support her than it is to support myself. After all she was just a kid. I tend to expect more from myself. Yet before I can fully be patient with others, I may have to admit my own humanity. I may have to believe it's okay for me to feel helpless that I can't seem to stick with the program. It's okay to feel embarrassed when I put my foot in my mouth, or when I fail to hear what someone is saying. It's okay for me to feel afraid or overwhelmed or sad or disappointed.

Just like the toddler, I'm just a human being, being human. There are forces greater than me at work. When I can accept this and drop the struggle, I can accept my failures without feeling defeated and my successes without feeling triumphant. Without the added weight of self-impatience, I have more room to to catch my breath, to catch up with the cycles I'm in, and work with rather than against, that flow of energy. Some inner tension uncoils. The pressure eases.

Being patient with myself is a way to support who I am without needing myself or my life to be different.



The timely pic was here.

First published July 2017 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Enjoying the Day

Tulip


When I'm busy, I get destination-oriented. "I have to finish this newsletter before I can read the book." "I need to weed the garden before I can sit down." It probably arises from childhood. We needed to learn to be responsible. We couldn't play until homework was done, or the dishes were done. Fair enough. Dad was a good example of responsibility. I used to watch him push the lawn mower long after he was too tired to continue, yet he did anyways because it needed to be done.

What he didn't teach us was that we could be content while doing the dishes, or homework, or shovelling the snow from the driveway. All I saw in him at the time was sweat rolling from his forehead, the tension in his face, and the satisfied plunk into his chair once the lawn mower was put away. He didn't look happy in the doing, but in the finishing. All he saw was the destination.

Enjoying the day is about letting myself be content with the mix of things I have to do, and the time it takes to do them: work or play. While it might feel good to reach the front of the line at the shop, I can enjoy the wait by watching my breath or listening to the voices around me. Even as I approach the deadline to get out a newsletter, I can find elegance in the language and take joy in the sharing. While fixing the kitchen tap may be mandatory, I can enjoy the pleasure of problem solving and working with my hands while I do.

If a necessary activity is difficult or painful, I can find joy by pacing myself. Dad didn't do that much. For him it was all about being able to rest afterwards. I think he was afraid if he didn't do it all at the time, he wouldn't finish it. Lately I've been resisting weeding the garden because of arthritis pain. So rather than let it become stupid, I take a kitchen timer with me. I can do 10 minutes. In fact I can do 10 minutes each morning after my prayers. So that's what I have been doing this week. Knowing that the job is not going to be painful makes it a lot easier to laugh at the black-flies trying to bite. It makes it easier to stop and enjoy the exquisite beauty of a tulip. Or the green scent of a May morning. And it brings enough joy to the doing that I know I'll be up for it again tomorrow morning. Or maybe even this afternoon.

If a necessary activity is frustrating, I can find joy by stopping long enough to get out of my head and back into the present moment or by laughing at how absurd it's become.

Enjoying the day means being where I am wholeheartedly. There is joy to be found all day, not just in those destination moments, whatever life gives me. I can be contented as I struggle to put up a bird feeder, as I unwind in the tub, as I rush to be at the appointment on time, even as I recover from bad news.

I need to remember this though. I'm a lot like Daddy - I tend to push past my limits so that I can bask in the glow of a job well-done. Especially when I'm busy, it helps to settle back into my body and notice what's going on around me. Then I can enjoy the day.



First published June 2017 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

What Will I Try?

JeepParked1


I forget what started the whole thing. I even forget who it was. I caught myself grinding away mentally at someone while driving to Alliston for groceries. It was probably the local councillor. Sometimes just driving past his house reminds me of the day he stood in my living room and called me a liar. Seeing something juicy to latch onto, my mind kicked in. "How dare he!"

Mind examined the insult from all angles. 'Poor me' to 'I'lll never vote for him' to 'I wonder if this is about unfinished business?' I didn't realize how tense my shoulders were getting until I stopped for the traffic light at Mansfield.

All that analysis may seem like it's productive, but it's not really. It's just a way for mind to perpetuate the mental activity. Mind loves to hear itself think. And it rarely takes the rest of me into consideration. Mind didn't care about my tight shoulders. It didn't care how this thinking led to frustration, helplessness, anger.

I took a breath and relaxed my shoulders as I waited for the light to change. I didn't want to think about this guy. It just riled me up. So how could I put all this mental activity to good use? What will I try?

I could do tonglen. Maybe, but I only go to it when I really feel overwhelmed. This isn't that serious. Maybe a lovingkindness meditation? It's true I wish the guy well. But I still don't want to think about him.

I could feel all that mental energy hanging around nearby, just waiting for me to pay attention to it. I took another deep breath.

Right. The breath.

It helps to have a single simple thing I can do, something I can rely on when things are just a little bit crazy or when things are downright awful. One simple thing I can do any time, anywhere.

For me, it's my breath. No matter where I am, I have my breath. I notice my belly rise and fall with each breath. Even just a couple of breaths can bring me back into the moment.

Oh yeah, that's right. I'm on my way for groceries, driving my dear old Jeep.

Now that I've used my breath to quiet that mental activity and bring me back into the moment, I can turn to a lovingkindness meditation or an empowering breath meditation, or whatever suits me at the time. Today it's a gratitude meditation. The sky is blue. I look at the new fenders on the Jeep and see what a great job the boys did. I think I'll cook supper on the barbeque tonight.

Life is good.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Doing Laps


If I say, "I have only 5 more laps to go," then I am thinking too much about the ease of it being finished.
If I say, "I can't do this many laps," then I am thinking too much about my shortcomings (as compared to some idealized expectation).
If I say, "I hate this," then it will never get easier.
If I say, "I love this," but really hate it, then it will never get easier.
If I say, "How does this feel?" and pay attention to what is actually going on in my physical body, then I can assess constantly and make any changes needed.

Doing laps isn't about buying in to what's going on in my head or emotions, it's about how it is today, or on this specific lap, and taking joy from the doing -- like being a kid and exploring with a sense of curiosity and joy.



First published May 2017 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Drop It


The other day when I was upset about something I caught myself holding my energy up. I got a sense that there was a bunch of heavy pebbles, massed together in my energy a few inches above my left shoulder, towards the front. They weren’t really pebbles, they just seemed that way – a mass composed of the complex stuff of the upset: blame, hurt, anger, resolve, my thoughts about it all. It was complex and heavy and disorganized.

I noticed that I was holding it up through sheer willpower. I seemed to be trying to keep the energy up by my head so I could figure it out or fix it or problem-solve or organize it (mental activities).

And it took a lot of energy to hold it there.

It was an old habit I recognized from when I was a kid. I was raised to be rational in a culture and environment where mentally solving problems was encouraged, and expressing pain or negative emotion was discouraged. It seemed natural for me to hold bad feelings and emotions up around my head where they could be attended to in a rational manner. The school of thought at the time was that life is a mechanical construct. If something seems broken, you fix it. If you feel a knot of mixed emotions, feeling and pain, then you hold it up so it could be attended to.

Yet life is much more fluid and mysterious than that.

It took me a half a lifetime to learn that negative emotions don’t have to be solved or fixed. They only need to be felt, and then they naturally pass out of our experience. By holding them up near my head, I was blocking that natural process, encouraging the type of “This is Awful” thinking that can make it all linger and intensify. By trying to escape the pain, I was making it worse.

So as I noticed this heavy mass of pebbles, I released the effort of holding it all up and watched to see what would happen next. I wondered if it might solidify into the coldness of fear in my belly, or the heat of anger in my shoulders, or the weight of sadness in my chest.

Turns out it didn’t do any of that. It just went away. Poof!

And the phrase “Drop it!” took on a whole new meaning.


First published in December 2009 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Are We Here to Learn?

school desks


I heard some time ago that life will give us what we need to know. As we progress in spiritual understanding, we integrate more and move closer to enlightenment.

I like this map of our lives. It feels right to have some sort of meaning underlying our existence.

Yet to call it "learning" may call up ideas of some sort of graded system. We may be here to learn but not like in school where we learn to pass tests, achieve our goals, finish with the program and then move on to the next level. Learning isn't something we do, but something we experience. We meet what life gives us, live it, experience it, and by that, what we need for spiritual growth is in us.

We're all made differently. Not everyone is interested in spiritual growth, or learning about life, or even the slightest bit curious about why we are here. Yet each of us fits into the world in a beautiful and unique and fulfilling way.

This means I can learn with the sense of curiosity and wonder of a child, rather than seeing life as a puzzle to be solved or mystery to be unraveled. All while resting in the deep assurance that I am being led towards grace.



First published in April 2017 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.