So- who has that person in their life they honestly can’t stand? You know who I’m talking about- the one who triggers you every time you interact. Who bothers you on a deep level. Who says things you can’t believe just came out of their mouth. Who you joke (or are super serious) about making sure there’s wine to be had if you have to spend time in their presence.
Sometimes we are lucky in that we can cut ties with these people. We can simply stop having them in our lives- just walk away and never look back. But what about the people we are “stuck” with? Maybe it’s a boss or a co-worker who is the single downside to a job you love. Or a family member.
I have one of these people in my life right now and I have to say, it’s been one of biggest relational challenges I have come up against in a very long time. I’m trying so very hard to overlook how malcontent, vicious, and childish this person is, because I understand that she’s coming from a place of insecurity and fear. I’m trying to rise above, to do and say the “right” things. But she’s making it SO HARD. And what feels even worse is that she’s got me so wrong- no matter what I do or how I say things, she seems hell bent on misinterpreting them to the worst scenario. Sound familiar? I speak from the bottom of my heart when I say I feel for all of you who have one of these people in their life. So what do we do?
Step One: Vent. Seriously. We are human. Don’t try to pretend it doesn’t bother you. Call a friend who will agree with you that this person is heinous and ask you where the body should be buried. Let it ALL OUT. Every bit of frustration and anger and disappointment and hurt that you are feeling. Don’t bottle it- what we resist, persists. So get it out of your system. Side note: make sure this is someone who is 100% yours. Don’t pick a mutual acquaintance, or someone who is going to get stuck in the middle. That can make everything far worse- you don’t want your confidante running back to the object of your frustration trying to make things better or mediate. This is about getting all the energy of your emotion OUT with zero chance of consequences. If there is no one in your life who fits that bill- write it out. Write them a letter saying absolutely everything you wish you could say in real life. Get. It. Out. Second side note: DO NOT SEND THIS LETTER. Burn it, throw it out, but do not send it.
Step Two: Shake it off. The point of the venting is not to whip yourself into a frenzy… it’s to truly let the anger/frustration/negative energy out so that it can dissipate and you can come back to a more rational place. So take time to now to meditate or calm yourself in some way. Of course, I think meditation is always the best answer, but maybe it’s going for a long walk, or taking a bath, or hitting up a BodyCombat class. Watching some bad TV. Retail therapy. What do you do when you need to de-stress? Do that, until you are able to say this person’s name without seeing red or feeling your blood pressure rise.
Step Three: Honestly assess what, if anything, you can do to change the situation.
- If this is a miscommunication issue, step back and see how you can be more clear. Good time to reference Non Violent Communication skills. Keep in mind that there’s a good chance no matter how clear you are, this person might not be able to hear you…but that’s a topic for another newsletter.
- If this is more about perspective, see if you can see theirs. Literally try to put on their goggles, no matter how difficult or impossible it may seem. What are their most common complaints or issues with YOU? See if you can understand how they might be reaching their conclusions about you. This one isn’t fun, because it may force you to face truths about yourself you do not particularly like. But try to do it, because the greatest growth comes from confronting these shadow aspects of ourselves.
- Face facts. There might not be anything you can do. They might be set in their ways as firmly as you are set in yours. This is the hardest conclusion to reach, because you end up feeling even more stuck. You’ve done all this introspection and concluded…. that you’re in the same place you were before and feel even more certain there’s nothing you can do to change it!
Step Four: the final step. The hardest step. The one you have to come to regardless of all the steps before. In fact, some might say you could skip all those other steps and jump right to this one. Ask yourself “If I were capable of unconditional love and forgiveness, how would I treat this person?” And then start doing that.
Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? It’s not easy. Probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I’m still ping ponging between this and Step One. Multiple times a day, usually. I go from being spitting mad with venom, to stepping back into my heart and trying to lead with compassion. Some days venom wins, some days compassion. But I try to only interact with my personal nemesis when I can do so from a place of love. Because at the end of the day, would I rather know in my heart that I have done the best I could, and that I entered every interaction from a loving place… or that I sunk to her level and rolled in the dirt and slung mud pies in her face? To be honest, it’s a close call some days. I admit to fantasizing about calling her out and leveling every barb I can think of in her direction. But then I ask myself who would that hurt? Only me. Because I can promise you, it would just roll off her back and become more reason for her to lash out at me. She wouldn’t learn from it, she wouldn’t grow; it definitely wouldn’t change her behavior. And I would end up being ashamed and feeling guilty. So as much as it might feel good in the moment (like eating a whole box of Girl Scout Cookies)… I know I would pay for it in the end.
“Show respect to people even if you don’t think they deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.” Dave Willis
All that said – your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to pick one person in your life who greatly challenges you and try to make things just a little better. I’m not saying you need to be best buds with this person, by the way. That’s not realistic. But is it possible for you to change how you interact with them just enough to make it not so horrendous every time? Can you find some common ground? Can you calm yourself enough so that you are able to remain soft and stay in the heart versus lash out and take the bait? You might not want to pick your archenemy, by the way. Best to start with someone who is only of mild annoyance versus your personal nemesis. Take this month to challenge yourself to see what you can do to better your interactions…. you might be surprised how changing your attitude may influence theirs!
Light&Love…. and Good Luck!
p.s. I feel obligated to say that as much effort as you put into this… sometimes it doesn’t work. People can only meet you as far as they’ve met themselves, so there is a chance you try this and it feels like a complete failure. But I promise you, there is never any effort lost in an attempt to learn about yourself or cultivate compassion. So even if nothing in how you interact with this person has changed by month’s end… notice what has changed in yourself and celebrate *that*!
Long time, no communication! I hope this newsletter finds you all well and enjoying your summer. The baby slept through the night for the second time last night and I’m sitting here feeling like an actual human being. More importantly, I finally have the time and the headspace to connect with all of you. Believe it or not, I’ve been wanting to write this newsletter for the past month. I kept on saying to myself “today will be the day”… and then it wasn’t. And that’s actually a good segue into what I want to talk about.
“When you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be” Mandy Hale
What happens when you do all the right things to set yourself up for getting exactly what you want… and then you don’t get it? Remember our visualization practice? And how I was visualizing the kind of birth I wanted, and I said I’d let you know how that went? Some might argue it failed miserably.
Let me describe what I visualized: Peacefully laboring at home for a time before driving to the Birth Center. I knew which room I wanted, so I saw myself there with Chuck, occasionally walking out into the peaceful courtyard with the fountain. I really liked all the midwives (except one who reminded me so much of my mother I had a hard time interacting with her), so that part didn’t matter, though I hoped it would be the first midwife we met when I started my prenatal care. I saw myself with no monitors, no IVs, no drugs, experiencing labor as women have through the ages. Overall, it was simple. And I did everything I could to give myself that vision. I ate right during my pregnancy, I rested while also staying active. I meditated and visualized daily. I prepared our bags, went to the birth class, asked a billion questions. There isn’t anything more I could have done to give myself the birth I wanted. Did I get it? That would be a definitive no.
What happened: There was no labor at home. My water broke at 10pm on a Monday night and we called the midwives and they told us to stay at home until I couldn’t talk through contractions. Well, the contractions never started. Chuck and I slept and walked and watched TV, all the while waiting for something to happen but it never did. I even took a castor oil cocktail to help get things going and all it did was make me throw up. Due to fear of infection, my delivery turned high risk which meant no Birth Center- I was required to go to the hospital. And who met us there? The only midwife I didn’t want- the one who triggered me. And what was I required to do? Have the belts that constantly monitored me and the baby, as well as an IV for the Pitocin. Things started moving along around 6pm Tuesday, but really kicked into high gear around 8pm. Honestly? I was excited. This wasn’t what I pictured, but “here we go, let’s do this!” was my attitude. I had a hard time holding on to that attitude as I went from wondering why people complained about labor one moment, to experiencing extreme, pain level at a 9 out of 10, back labor for 7 hours. Around 3am I was feeling intense pressure… the kind that everyone had described to me as being what you feel right before you start pushing…so the midwife decided to check how dilated I was. I’ll never forget her sitting next to the bed, looking me in the eye while holding my hand, and saying “Honey, you’re at 3cm”. I died a little inside. I glimpsed Chuck’s face turn ashen. And we decided to get an epidural, because honestly the thought of being at that level of pain for hours upon hours longer was untenable. If I had been at even 6cm I would have pulled it together and soldiered on… but 3? That’s 7 more cm to go. I just couldn’t, and sometimes epidurals help you relax enough to get things moving, so I succumbed and got even more drugs I hadn’t wanted. (That said- I’ve never felt such relief!) I fell asleep for an hour and a half and when I woke up I knew something wasn’t right. I felt like I had the flu, and sure enough, I was spiking a fever and both the baby and my heart rates were elevated. (This is the concern with prolonged breakage of waters). And so, a c-section. The last on my list of things I definitely didn’t want. Thirty three hours after my water broke, Charlie arrived, which of course made it all worth it and was the best moment of my life thus far.
Now, I could be bitter about how my labor went. I mean, I literally had the exact opposite birth experience I wanted. Everything went wrong, right? It is the polar opposite of what I had spent a month visualizing, nine months preparing for, and countless hours thinking about.
However, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing because in retrospect, I actually got exactly what I hoped for.
Every time I thought about laboring at home, I imagined the feeling of enthusiastic anticipation. That happened- I was so excited and couldn’t believe the time had come! I just didn’t have contractions at the same time as the excitement.
Every time I thought about being at the Birth Center, I imagined what it would be like going through labor with Chuck by my side. Not just the walking or all the other logistical suggestions we had learned during our birth class, but the connection we would have while we welcomed our child into the world. I imagined feeling supported and cared for. That happened tenfold…I have never felt more loved and in such deep partnership with my husband than I did during those long hours. It just wasn’t in my location of choice.
And when I pictured the midwife I really wanted by my side, I brought in the feeling of being calmly helped and guided as I navigated this foreign territory. And the midwife I ended up with did exactly that. She was the epitome of the eye of a hurricane, and was so matter of fact and clear with what was happening, why, and what our options were, I was reassured in all the ways I needed to be.
And the thing I wanted more than anything- a natural birth- included me staying grounded and centered. Being present with the moment, without fear or regret. I was. All I can remember is feeling connected to myself, the baby, and Chuck, as we navigated each stage and challenging decision.
I share this story to say, sometimes we are so focused on the nuts and bolts of what we want to happen that we fail to see the hidden gems of the experience when things don’t go exactly as we planned. We miss the ways in which we *did* get what we wanted, or the unexpected ways something worked in our favor. Maybe you join a singles meetup group to find your next partner, but can’t stand all the guys that show up so you bitterly say it was a total waste of time- and forget that you met your new best friend who was similarly disappointed with the options. Or you apply for a job and it gets down to just you and one other person and you don’t get it…so you feel like a failure and wonder for weeks what you did wrong. But then 8 months later you apply for a different position at the same company and you are pushed straight to the top of the list because they remember you and want you on their team. You might have spent months harshly judging yourself about the rejection, to only then realize it was just a delayed happy result.
I’m not saying we have to be immediately happy when things don’t go as we hoped. I definitely shed a few tears during my labor as one thing after another didn’t go as I had wanted. But instead of focusing on that, and swearing off visualization practices because they “don’t work”… I’m choosing to see all the ways it did. Charlie had a 14” head and was a 9.5 lb baby… I think I may have gotten the better end of the bargain by not delivering him naturally. And I will never forget the love I felt for my husband as he so perfectly loved me during the one of the most momentous occasions of our lives.
So, for the rest of August and September, I ask you to think about something in your life that has gone all wrong. Whether it is now or in the past, choose an event that didn’t turn out nearly how you hoped. Where visualization failed. See if you can find the silver lining- the ways in which it *didn’t* fail. The nuggets of good. Sometimes all you have to do is look and you may realize the worst was actually the best thing that ever happened to you. Granted, I got a perfect, adorable, wonderful baby out of my deal!
I’ve found myself fighting reality often during the past few months, and have spent a significant amount of time pondering the George Orwell quote I used to title this post. I knew life would change when I became a mother, but the magnitude of the change is something you can’t really understand until it’s happened to you.
I knew I would be taking a break from seeing private clients and running my meetup group. I knew sleep would be a distant memory. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have the same level of productivity I was used to. I knew my alone time would decrease significantly.
What I didn’t know was how extreme the change would be. What I thought would simply be a downshift turned out to be closer to going from 120mph to a standstill. What’s more- I didn’t know how much I would enjoy that standstill… but only once I accepted it.
And accepting it has been REALLY HARD. I pride myself on my effectiveness, on my productivity, on being able to hold up a list at the end of the day and say “Look at everything I got done!”. Motherhood requires a whole new list that includes things like “changed a billion diapers, got the baby down in five minutes vs. fifty, enjoyed tummy time without tears, read 3.5 children’s books.” All worthwhile, all important… but it’s a far cry from “Helped client A realize it’s her mother’s voice telling her she eats too much, taught client B how to have a non violent conversation with her father, responded to ten meditation question emails, meditated two times for 25 minutes with 10 minutes of yoga and 5 minutes of breathing before each meditation.” I haven’t skipped a day of meditation yet, but sometimes those meditation sessions only last ten minutes. Up until recently I struggled with all of this change tremendously. I vacillated between relishing my new role as Mom, to on some level resenting how dramatic a twist my life had taken- which in turn made me feel guilty because aren’t we “supposed” to love every single second with our children?? Isn’t this what I’ve been wanting for the past seven years with all my heart?
During the meditation trainings I always talk about how Love is not just about who you are in relationship with. There are many facets to the heart, and one of them is Peace, which is cultivated by Acceptance. I use the phrase “What we resists, persists” an awful lot because it is true, as is the followup-
“That which you accept, you choose to let go of.”
These are universal laws of the heart. The more you resist, the less energy you have. The more you accept, the greater the opening for new energy and new choices. It’s important to note that Resistance is natural. Accepting that resistance is a major step to transforming it and stepping out of suffering.
Charlie turned four months old last weekend and it has taken me this long to finally accept my resistance to all the change, which turned very quickly into accepting my new reality as a whole. To be ok with not always getting these newsletters out “on time”. To be ok with it taking literally the entire week to clean the kitchen. To be ok with no more hour long lazy starts to my day.
And this choice- this shift from fighting to hold on to some vestige of life before Charlie, to truly opening to all that motherhood has to offer, has led to a whole new level of peace I didn’t know I was capable of. Who knew I could be ok with having a list and *not* getting it all done? Who knew I could not only tolerate but revel in entire days spent at home with nothing to do but sleep, eat, play with my son, and repeat four times over? Who knew I could be ok with finding a different sort of balance between work and home life? This is a brand new level of happiness- my cup runneth over.
So what I propose to you for the month of November is to take note of what you are resisting in your world. Is it a job you don’t really want to be in? A relationship you wish would function a little differently? A living situation? A past decision of yours? What is it in your world that you wish wasn’t so?
And then see if you can stop resisting it. See if you can find some way to accept it. See the good that it is doing for you. Or embrace that it is a means to an end. See if you can send all that energy of resistance into a positive force- whether to change the situation entirely, or to give new energy towards accepting that which you can not change. I’m certainly not saying this is easy- it took me four months, not one! But start the process. At least take the time to investigate what you are throwing your time and energy into resisting because once you realize what a waste of resources that is, you open the door to discovering a new peace.
“Barns burnt down, now I can see the moon” ~Masahide
As much as I love Meditation, and have personally experienced profound benefit from the practice, it’s not a one stop shop. It’s not a magic pill that makes all the bad things in our life go away; all our “negative” character traits disappear. It doesn’t solve all our problems.
We still have to take responsibility for how we live our lives. We still have to do the work. Meditation can only take you so far- it can help quicken the change; ease the transformation… but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
If we truly want to grow, we have to stop rolling in the mud. What do I mean by that? As I’ve said in trainings many times, meditation (to be clear, any automatic self transcending method like Heart Based Meditation- the other types do not do this to the same extent and take much longer to “work”) is a lot like taking a shower. It helps cleanse away impurities, wash away dysfunction, and allows us to see our way more clearly. It’s very much like going to a drive through carwash. We park the vehicle (our physical bodies), and then let the carwash do its thing… trusting that it’s getting rid of all the dirt and grime both where can see it and where it’s not so visible (like the undercarriage/our subconscious).
However, how much good does that do us if we spend all our days getting “unclean”? Going off-roading in the muck, so to speak. Eating foods that aren’t good for us. Spending time with toxic people. Watching newscast after newscast telling us the world is going to pot. Spending our days fostering anger towards others… perhaps understandable anger, but anger nonetheless (that’s a whole newsletter for another time). Not exercising. Ruminating on all the things we wish we were and hate we’re not. This is how we roll in the mud- this is how we negate any gains we make by meditating.
So even if you’re meditating twice a day religiously, that’s only 40 minutes (at most!) out of the 1,440 in a day. That’s a such a small percentage of your day spent using a tool to help you find a new way of being, with the rest spent running in the same hamster wheel you’ve always been on. That car you’re driving would still be dirty the majority of the time- one brief moment of shining clean as it drives away from the carwash, and then into the hills filled with muck.
The good news is that there are many simple, easy, small ways to work towards spending less time in the mud. You don’t have to all of a sudden start exercising for an hour every day… maybe just go for a ten minute walk after one meal. You don’t have to throw out all of your junk food… maybe just add in one seriously good for you snack or meal a day. You don’t have to stop watching the news altogether… but maybe limit it to one hour a day and have that hour be in the morning (not right before bed when you know it’s going to get you all riled up). Speaking of which- maybe you make it a priority to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, which is the absolute minimum every single person needs (according to many, many studies that show less than this can be seriously detrimental to your overall health).
And more importantly than anything else- cultivate Love. It sounds insipid, I know. And there’s a small part of me that still cringes to stay something so mushy (decades of fearing vulnerability will do that to you)… but never was it more needed and true than right now. Remember that this doesn’t need to be the Love you have for a person. It could be Gratitude for things big and small. It could be the Passion you experience when talking about something you believe in (though please note there is an important difference between Passion and righteousness, one comes from the heart; the other from our mind- a whole other newsletter!). It could be Compassion for those less fortunate. It could be the Joy you feel when doing something like gardening. It could be the Peace you feel when having your coffee every morning listening to the birds sing.
Heart Centered Living combined with meditation WILL change your life. I have yet to find anything more powerful than being guided by my heart instead of my mind. I didn’t believe this to be true when I started meditating, but six years in to shifting to this way of operating I can tell you that I know it to be so. And even though I still have times of stress, anger, frustration, sadness, etc…. my way back to clarity and peace is exponentially faster than I ever thought it could be, and I can honestly say the majority of the time I find myself incredibly grateful and full of- dare I say it- bliss. And I’m not the only one.
Now, I stumbled my way to this taking the long way around and going through many ups and downs- so don’t think it’s been easy or like a switch being turned on. That said, there is support available if this way of being sounds appealing to you. The suggestions I listed above will all help, and below are a few more ideas. I encourage you to explore what resonates with you at this time.
And if this newsletter made you uncomfortable or turned you off? That’s ok, too. You can just meditate- it is still very worth it. You don’t have to want to be a body builder to do bicep curls. You don’t have to want to create systemic change in your life to want to find the stress alleviation that meditation brings. We all come to Meditation for different reasons, and get out of what we need…end of story.
As always, I’m here if you have questions, and I hope you are well.
Love & Light,
I love lists. Always have. I mean, how else are you supposed to know what you need to do? And is there anything more satisfying than crossing something off the list; showing that you have accomplished what you set out to do?!?
Here’s the problem: When I get stressed, I cope by making lists. It’s how I try to regain control. It’s my particular method for making sense out of the senseless. The problem is that my lists tend to get a little out of control. The more stressed I get, the more I add to the list. So you might be able to imagine the size of the list I started creating at the beginning of the month. It felt like all of the uncertainty I had been managing in a very healthy way since February all of a sudden was unsurmountable. It all built and built until I was one miserable, stressed out, cranky mess who had a list a mile long and absolutely zero chance of checking everything off in the amount of time I had deemed was appropriate.
My poor, poor husband. His normally very calm, very even keeled wife turned into an absolute bear to be around. Mind you, he didn’t say this (he’s not stupid)… but I’m also self aware enough to know that if I didn’t want to be around me, he problem didn’t, either. So we sat down and talked about what was going on with me and he basically said (for the millionth time), that I put too much on myself and it might be helpful to just cut the list in two and save some for later, or prioritize it, or… something. Can’t it all wait?
My immediate response was “NO!” It’s all important! It’s all stuff that needs to get done! If I don’t do it, who will?!?
However, the next day after meditation, I had this thought hit in a way it never had… “What if there was no list?”
And it felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. And it got me thinking about coping mechanisms.
At what point do they become more harmful than helpful? At what point do they perpetuate the underlying problem? When do they shift from being healthy to being the thing that just keeps us too busy or preoccupied or numb to deal with what’s actually going on? And when we let ourselves dive too deeply into these coping strategies, what do we lose?
So, I’m doing an experiment. I’m only going to check my list once a week for the rest of the year. Even writing that makes my stomach knot up. But I’ve forgotten something I learned after a couple years of meditating- that when I trust my instincts, trust my gut about what feels like the right thing to do in any given moment, I’m so much happier and my days flow so smoothly. Instead of being anxious and feeling like I’m letting everyone down, I somehow get more done than I ever thought I could. I know this is because of meditation- of getting very in tune with my higher self and learning how to listen to that still voice within. But when I get stressed, that voice gets muffled by all the angry, scared, and confused other voices that we all have within us. So I’m going to try to get back to listening to the wiser voice underneath all the chatter. It’s not going to be easy, and I’m going to have to be diligent with my meditation practice if I have any hope of succeeding, but I’m going to try now that I’ve realized how destructive my list writing coping strategy has become.
What I want to suggest to all of you is to take a hard look at whatever you are doing to cope with the stress that exists in your life. Whatever it is- look at it, even those things that might be considered positive. Exercise is good, right? Not if you’re doing it for two hours every single day and feel like you NEED it in order to be ok. Watching TV isn’t that bad for you…unless you are binge watching show after show after show… what are you avoiding thinking about? Eating is a common one- either eating super duper healthy (worried about every morsel of sugar or carb you might ingest) or throwing caution to the culinary wind (i.e. eating every bag of potato chips in sight).
Just take a moment to really look at what you’re doing to get through these times. What’s working? What’s not? You don’t have to give up your coping mechanism entirely, just make sure it’s truly helping, not just enabling you to gloss over and avoid, or letting you funnel your anxiety elsewhere (as in my case). And remember- you’re not in this alone. When in doubt, reach out. Talk to a friend, a loved one, a counselor. So often when we feel like we have no where to go, it’s because we’ve forgotten that there are always helpers out there, just waiting for us to seek them out.
Love & Light,
Uncertainty is hard. As a general rule of thumb, we humans hate it. We want to KNOW. We want a timeline, facts- most of us crave the black and white. And never has this been more difficult to discern than right now. Everything is up in the air. Even though restrictions are lifting, the amount of variation is staggering. And regardless of what you are being told is ok…which also varies greatly… how do you individually feel? Are you ready to not wear a mask? To dine in a restaurant? To go to a party? If not now, when will you be ready? There is no single, easy, straight forward answer to these questions.
One of my personal challenges has always been a deep and abiding need for control. I had absolutely none during my childhood, so as soon as I was able, I decided that the way to keep myself safe was to control every aspect of my life. The only problem is that this is impossible! So I spent many years at war with life itself. Trying to control the uncontrollable, and constantly being knocked off kilter when the inevitable happened and unwanted change occurred.
And then, I found meditation. I don’t talk about it a lot in these newsletters- of course I always mention the group meditation meetings, but as I think of it now I’m realizing that it’s been a while since I’ve talked about why meditation is such an important part of my life. One of the many reasons it’s a constant non-negotiable is that it has allowed me to let go (mostly) of this need for control. Through meditation, I’ve been able to relax into the uncertainty and accept change with more grace.
This isn’t something I “learned” to do. There was no guidebook, no “how to”, no directions to follow in order to release this trait… it just happened as I developed and grew my awareness through meditation. It used to be that I handled a change of plans very poorly- if someone altered things on me last minute it would send me off into a bad mood for days…to the point where dear friends of mine were afraid of how upset I would get if they needed to cancel a get together! Spontaneity was absolutely unacceptable. Life needed structure and a routine in order to be safe- and heaven help the person who messed with my idea of what that looked like.
And then one day a few months after I had begun meditating, a friend needed to reschedule lunch and I realized it only took me a day to get over it. And then it was a few hours. And then it was just a few minutes. And all of a sudden a few months ago, Chuck made a last minute suggestion for us to go to the zoo… while we were in the car already and heading somewhere else, no less… and I responded immediately “Let’s do it!”. He later commented “Way to not be yourself”… which sounds snarky but is actually his very loving way of complementing me on my new found ability to pivot so quickly!
This ability to loosen the reins, to let go of this need for control, stems out of the faith I have developed through meditation. I don’t speak of this in a religious context, but a spiritual one. I now trust that things will be ok, even if they don’t go exactly as I planned. I trust that life is happening for me, not to me. I trust that there is a divine order that I’m not necessarily privy to.
The quote that I used at the beginning of this newsletter comes from an article written by Richard Rohr, whom I have come to admire and respect. You can read the full article here. From his perspective as a Franciscan priest, he talks about connecting to the unified field of consciousness- the place from which sages and physicists alike agree everything arises. Connection to this source enables us to connect to faith- as Thomas Merton writes “This is the contemplative’s unique access point: knowing by union with a thing, where we can enjoy an intuitive grasp of wholeness, a truth beyond words, beyond any need or capacity to prove anything right or wrong.” Let me be clear that I’m not pushing any religious perspective or belief system, but I found this particular writing resonated deeply with me, and obliquely explains why meditation can create such profound growth. If you would be interested in diving deeper into this topic of how meditation can help a person develop faith and trust in the unknown, please let me know as I’m thinking of running a workshop on it in the near future.
I’ve never been more grateful for this part of my personal growth and this faith I have developed than I am now, as we’ve lived in this continued place of unknowing for weeks on end.
Let me be clear- I’m tired of it, too. I want cold hard facts, too. I want to know when it will be “over”; I want to know without a shadow of a doubt that it’s “safe”. I want all of those things, and some days I am so very, very, frustrated by all the gray. Black and white, PLEASE!
But most of the time, it’s ok. Most of the time, I’m able to roll with it. And every single day I get my meditations in because nothing in this world helps me find peace more quickly or to such depths as this practice.
And so, I wanted to use this newsletter to urge you to meditate. Many of you have already learned Heart Based Meditation, but some of you have not. Now is a great time to start! I wanted to also let you all know that the structure for learning Heart Based Meditation has changed, and encourage those of you who have already participated in the training to do so again because of these changes.
The training is now spread out over four days (instead of two) and woven throughout are more integration and enhancement techniques, as well as more detailed information regarding consciousness and why meditating with this form of meditation is so transformative. Some of this I typically include in the “Deepening Your Practice” workshop that I’ve previously run, however there is new material that would make it worthwhile for those who have taken the training previously. The founder of this method of meditation, Dr. Paul Dugliss, has long taught the training over four consecutive weeks, however I’ve resisted up until now because I know how busy our lives can be and how challenging it is to set aside time this way. That said, at a recent continuing ed class I was convinced that, while it may be more of a challenge, overall the benefits of having continued support during the entire first month of incorporating Meditation into your daily life far outweighs the disadvantages.
The four days are structured like so:
- Day 1 will cover the Why and How of Heart Based Meditation.
- Day 2 will give you a refinement to the practice and cover Experiences in and out of Meditation.
- Day 3 will go over in more detail how consciousness works, and give you additional integration and enhancement techniques.
- Day 4 will give you a vision of the possibilities of systemic life change you can expect with continued and consistent meditation.
You MUST take Days 1 and 2 a week apart- you are not fully trained until you’ve had these two days. If you must wait until the next session to take Days 3 and 4, you can, but I discourage it and strongly suggest you keep going with the training four weeks in a row. The month of support will give you the highest chance of success feeling confident in the method and will help you stick with it while you establish this new habit. I frequently say how lucky I feel that I came to meditation through becoming an Ayurvedic practitioner- I was required to meditate for 200 hours in order to graduate my program! If it weren’t for that, I can’t imagine how long it would have taken me to be consistent with my practice, and I am continuously grateful that I had such a strong reason to keep going.
Let me also reiterate that this would be excellent for anyone who has already taken the course. I cover so much in those two days, and I find that as time passes it can be a little like telephone- are you actually remembering the nuances of the method correctly?
The next Heart Based Meditation training begins this Saturday at 9am. To find more details and to register, click here.
If you can’t make it this time around, don’t worry- I’m sure to offer it again. I would love feedback on what day and time would work better for you if Saturday mornings don’t. Weeknight? Sunday afternoon? Weekday morning? Let me know your thoughts!
Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you are all doing well and look forward to seeing some of you next weekend!
Sending you all so much Love & Light,
I love this time of year largely because of spring cleaning. Opening the windows and letting the fresh air in always makes me feel like it’s time to begin anew. Spring also means that we are about a quarter of the way through the year already, so it’s time to take stock:
Have I been following through on my New Year’s intention?
Have I been living up to what I said I was going to do?
Am I living the life I want to lead?
This year, my intention was to put into action everything I learned from 2020. So far, I’ve been giving it a good effort. But old habits, old patterns, have snuck in again as they often do. I spent this past weekend at a meditation retreat led by my mentor where the focus was on acceptance. And what came to me most clearly as I contemplated intentions, acceptance, and taking stock, is the important difference between acceptance and complacency.
We can accept ourselves for where we are at, but we don’t have to be complacent. We don’t have to say “I’m OK with it”. We can say “I accept it” AND ALSO “I want to do better”. And the most important thing about doing better, is knowing what that looks like. It’s taking time, like I did this weekend, to take hard look about what’s working, what’s not, and make concrete plans to correct course.
So that’s what I want to invite you to do. Take time today, this week, or next weekend- sometime before the end of the month- to sit down and really assess:
What’s working in your life?
What is lighting you up?
What is filling you with joy?
And what’s not?
What is dragging you down?
What is stopping you from living your best life?
What do you know you are doing that is out of alignment with your true self?
Once you know the answers to those questions you have all you need to be able to start making plans to help realize your best life.
So often we forget that change is a choice. We stay so long at the cross roads that we forget that cross roads by nature provide us with multiple different directions that we can go. The only one who is in control of your life is you. YOU are the only one who can make the change. Only you can choose a different way of being.
Now there may be constraints. There might be financial considerations, or familial responsibilities, or other variables that have to play a role. Making a choice to change doesn’t mean that you just get to do whatever you want. And in fact, that’s one of the other most important pieces of this- being realistic. What can you actually make happen?
Take my perfect day for instance. I sat down this weekend and listed out how much time I want to spend on things every day- i.e. four hours of working with clients, an hour for exercise, time with Charlie, etc. And do you know how many hours it added up to? 33! That’s not going to work.
So while it’s important to have the dream, it’s also important to honestly asses what’s possible at this point in your life.
As you know, I run a morning meditation group every weekday at 9:30am. Today we started a five week focus on getting really clear on what living a life truly aligned with our authentic self looks like. What would it be like if you answered those earlier questions: “Almost everything in my life is working; my whole life lights me up and fills me with joy! I’ve let go of all things holding me back and wake up each morning grateful to be living the life I’ve always dreamed of!”
My hope is that by the end of the five weeks, everyone who chooses to go on this exploration with me has a vision of what this looks like for themselves – not necessarily that we’ve all achieved this way of being because that’s a lot to ask of five weeks! But that everyone has greater clarity on who they are and what they want. You do not have to come to every session (though that would be ideal) and you do not have to stay for the group meditation (though group meditations are the best!). If you want to join, just go to this page and click on the zoom link for the Five Week Focus on Alignment every morning at 9:30am EST. Every day we will discuss the topic from 9:30-9:45 before beginning the group Heart Based Meditation. (I know I’m sending this blast out after the first session, so many of you will miss the first day- don’t worry about it- just come tomorrow! The goal is for every day to have some nugget to help carry you forward that is standalone, so feel free to drop in whenever).
Regardless of whether you join the morning group, I encourage you to take stock, create the dream, and then make it workable. You’re a quarter of the way through the 2021. Just because you set an intention for the year and now realize you haven’t really done much about it yet does not mean this time was wasted. It means you now have more information to better inform you as you move forward. How well we do something is not the parameter by which we want to judge it. How we take the information gained from the experience and use it to do better next time is the measuring stick. So get curious, get honest with yourself, and adjust your sails.
Love & Light,
Eight weeks into self isolation and I’m experiencing a bit of quarantine fatigue… you?
I don’t normally struggle to write these newsletters, but I’ve found myself having difficulty coming up with what I want to say. It might be the groundhog day nature of life right now. Every day just some slight variation of the day before. From my routine with Charlie, to what’s being said on the news, to the feeling of quiet desperation creeping in.
At first, it was easy to see the benefit of this time. It was easy to talk about how this is our opportunity to slow down, to adapt, to reconnect. But for how long? At some point, haven’t we slowed and adapted and reconnected as much as we possibly can before going quietly insane?
I talk a lot about this with my one on one spiritual counseling clients. How we can experience what I call soul fatigue… there’s only so much internal work we can do at one time before we become exhausted from all the change. This can happen in many facets of life, actually. Whether it’s putting in 90 hour work weeks, or only taking care of others and never practicing self care, or constantly looking for a way to better ourselves. There’s a limit to how long we can do any of this before we simply need a break.
From my conversations with friends and family and clients, I think this is the point many of us are hitting now. The point where we’ve all realized what we want to get rid of and keep once we get back to our “normal” lives. So can’t we just get back to it already?
Some are. Some are choosing to slowly, carefully, enter back into society. Others view this as irresponsible- as being a selfish choice.
I want to take this newsletter to remind you to give yourself and others a little grace. We are all under stress, all struggling to figure out which media outlet to listen to. Which doctor knows best. Which family member has it right. Which mentor can properly show us the way. And we are all doing our best as we make our choices based on these factors and countless more- like whether or not we can afford to stay isolated. Whether our mental health can withstand yet another week of solitude or only our immediate family for companionship.
I’m here to tell you it’s ok. Whatever you’re feeling, however you are handling this, it’s ok. Probably my favorite of the articles I included below is the one regarding the risks of motivational pressure right now. You do not have to Marie Kondo your entire life for this time to be useful. You do not have to read every book, or listen to every podcast you’ve been meaning to for the past ten years. If you do these things, wonderful. But we all have enough pressure on us as it is to simply survive- so if you don’t do this, or if you decide to take a week off and just binge on the most recent Top Ten on Netflix- it’s ok.
I don’t know when this will end; I’m not even sure there is going to be a clear cut “end”. It will probably be a gradual reemergence, just as our decent into isolation was a gradual process. What I do know is that we all need to remember to give ourselves, and others, some grace right now, as we all navigate this experience to the best of our abilities.
Sending you all so much Love & Light,