Tag: mindfulness training

Limbo……not the dancing kind.

You want it! You know you want it. You’ve been preparing, visualizing, praying, expecting and putting lots of action behind it! Tony Robbins calls it “massive action”.

Yet –  nothing happens.

We’ve all experienced it: limbo. Never-never land, where our plans or expectations don’t come together, while life marches on.

You could call waiting in line a form of limbo, being on hold on the phone or waiting for something or someone.

Sadly, this indeterminate state is part of life. For the most part it’s brief; we just have to muddle through it, be patient and it’ll pass.

But what if you are experiencing an extended limbo state, one that lasts for months or, God forbid, years?

What do you do? What can you do?

I’ve experienced this state of uncertainty more than once. Years ago I lived in a location I disliked very much. It didn’t resonate, I didn’t fit in. My kids didn’t fit in.

I was determined to change our situation, but the place was like a black hole. It didn’t let us out. I left no stone unturned, no possibility unexplored, but it felt like quicksand. The more we tried to claw our way out, the more we sank.

It was a painful situation! I was unhappy.

The kids had nothing to compare it to, just some vague sense that things weren’t right.

Initially I had a lot of hope and enthusiasm because I couldn’t believe that the door was closed. I took massive action, for years.

Some situations require our determination and action is important to change our circumstances.

What if it doesn’t work? Like in my case.

Sam put several years into his education to become a psychologist later in life. He spent many late nights studying, doing research, writing papers. Then interning for a year, while raising his kids.

Interning is like volunteering; most agencies won’t pay anything. His didn’t.

 He and his wife agreed that she would support the family for the time being. So of course they were both excited and ready to finally see him graduate and begin this new life.

Graduation was a big celebration among his family and friends; the following Monday the résumés went out. One after the other without response.  Some places were kind enough to thank him for his interest, but said they hired someone more suited for the position. He did not understand how that was determined since he never even had a chance to speak to anyone; the whole process was automated and every agency wanted him to apply online.

He sent out more résumés, he talked to people who might be in a position to recommend him. He called on the friends he made in school.

Several times he came close to a potential job: he was called in for some interviews, but didn’t get the position. His wife’s resentments built and they fought more often. He was shorter with the kids as he became increasingly frustrated. He felt useless, worthless and confused.

Had he made the right choice by going to school?

One night when the tension was unbearable, he sat down with his wife and they explored some other options he might have overlooked. They were one year into it and things were looking bleak. She suggested hanging out his shingle and offering counseling just to bring in some money.

This required marketing and he approached that with gusto, although technology and social media was not his strong suit.

Long story short: Two years later he was still in the same position and his marriage had reached a breaking point.

This is an extended limbo situation, wherein things seem to be deteriorating in life, while we wait for our plan to come together.

What was Sam’s option? He and his wife had carefully considered all angles, figured out how to support him through school so they could later enjoy a satisfying life together while raising their children. It was a good, well thought-out plan.

Being in prolonged limbo requires some tough soul searching. Our human nature urges us into a “doing” mode when things aren’t coming together.

If we try to force progress, we exhaust ourselves. We put extra strain on ourselves by trying to go against the flow.

Our mind may say “I don’t know what’s going on. We have to figure this out. Do something.”

Yet, we have to learn to live with uncertainty, especially during those times when nothing is coming together.

Uncertainty doesn’t stop you from living your life, because the mind is not the captain of our ship. We use our minds, but there is more at play than we can see.

At times planned projects fall away, as in the case of Sam. Many aspects of who we think we are have to fall away. Sometimes it seems that nothing comes to replace them.

Not for a while. Not yet.

We are living in limbo.

We have to trust that life brings us what we need to navigate through these stormy waters.

We could listen to our mind, but it doesn’t know what’s coming. It only wants illusory certainty. It grasps, searches, and clings.

Life seems to know when and where we need to go.

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The Gift of Mindful Presence

There was a point when I noticed that everyone in my life seemed to talk a lot while I listened.

I wasn’t a talker.

I was pretty young; maybe my early 20s and I didn’t know things other people knew….like women talk more than men in general. Men think differently about sex than women. There are chick flicks. Being vulnerable with everyone might not be smart. I could go on……….

You could say that I didn’t know much of anything about the world! I was really naïve.

However, I began to watch people. I thought that maybe something was wrong with me and I needed to talk more to be normal.

Not being like everyone else made me feel left out. Very lonely!

Being so focused on feeling like an outsider kept me from realizing that people were talking to me. It took me a long time (again! I’m a slow learner sometimes) to realize that many people told me things they didn’t tell everyone else.

The only way I even noticed was because I was told repeatedly: Oh my God, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.

It finally dawned on me that maybe listening wasn’t such a bad thing.

My work as a grief counselor, years later, deepened my understanding that simply being present, being a witness to someone’s suffering is one of the greatest gifts we can give another. No amount of advice will lessen the despair of having lost a person we love. Our platitudes are empty words that give no solace.

Don’t most of us give advice when someone is hurting or something is not working in his or her life? Men especially (I figured that one out finally) are wired to fix things.

Advice-giving in general comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs (I know that’s a tough pill to swallow) — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good. Giving advice often lessens the discomfort we feel in the presence of someone’s pain.

Many of us want to be really good helpers, making sure we say the right things and give good advice. We want to do the right thing and minister to the needs of the person whom we are helping, but taking the time and patience to really be present is often a challenge.

Mindful presence is the essence of connection.

Yet especially when we’re in the presence of deep suffering we can barely stand to be there, as if we were in danger of catching a contagious disease. We want to apply our “fix,” then cut and run, figuring we’ve done the best we can to “save” the other person.

The more uncomfortable someone is with a situation, the more likely they are to offer advice…

Just recently a client had this experience when she shared with her good friend that she found out she has cancer and is very scared: His response was that she’d be fine and then started making jokes to get her mind off of her condition. She wanted to crawl away at a time when she most needed the comfort of being seen.

The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — it longs to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

In being heard we feel seen. Listening, asking “tell me more” opens the door to the deepest parts of the other.
Someone who is unafraid to accompany another in his suffering makes the other less afraid of himself. It is the greatest gift to be present — simply and fully present — in the same way one needs to be at the bedside of a dying person.
It is at that bedside where we finally learn that we have no “fix” or “save” to offer those who suffer deeply. And yet, we have something better: our gift of self in the form of personal presence and attention, the kind that invites the other’s soul to show up.

We not only apply this over-zealous need to “fix” to others we see in pain, we often apply it to ourselves.

Often the best way to address what ails us is to be present with our own emotions, thoughts, and senses. We don’t need to “fix” ourselves all the time, but perhaps observe with curiosity what we’re feeling because there is a reason under that feeling that we need to spend time with.

 “This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” – Mary Oliver

So here’s my advice —

  • Be fully present, listen deeply, and ask the kind of questions that give the other a chance to express more of his or her own truth, whatever it may be
  • Don’t give advice, unless someone insists..
  • As you are being mindfully present… listening… you will know if and when advice is a wise thing to give.

I’m still not much of a talker. These days I don’t feel like such an outsider anymore. That’s a nice thing.

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Holy Shift – how to create miracles

Sometimes, when I read profound wisdom or insights from others I like to share that with you. Is it possible to create miracles in our lives, a holy shift?
We all experience things we don’t like, right? How can we change that?
Can we change that?

Here’s one about creating shifts in our lives.

Lauren Lane Powell is a gift to all of us who know her. She is a medical miracle, a 3 time cancer survivor.
She didn’t just survive, but healed herself with humor and love. (follow her story on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lauren.l.powell.3)
Here’s a true account of one of her experiences:

I teased you yesterday with this meme and a promise to share a technique or two to allow us create the Holy Shifts we want to see in our world. First I get a chance to practice myself!

In the mail yesterday came my first insurance claim forms from my new Medicare Anthem part D. It looks like IU Medical is out of network and that I owe $25,000+! I felt all of the normal physical reactions of fear and anger. My chest tightened. Tears formed. Face flushed. My husband and I railed together for a while and continued the downward spiral.

We watched Glee before bedtime but my favorite character died! No help at all!
I couldn’t sleep. Worry. Fear. Financial panic. Then I remembered. Get into the vortex. Feel good no matter what! THEN allow things to work out for you. They always do.
“Things are always working out for me” was my first chant. As I said this over and over again I remembered in 2012 when I didn’t have any insurance at all! What miracles came through! I felt a little better. Then I remembered my music. I listened and sang softly, feeling more as ease and finally fell asleep. It was after 1am.
I woke knowing the rest of story.

This insurance shift, this political shift, this is CONTRAST!! When everything’s coming up roses we do not grow, change, evolve or expand. It’s only when we are uncomfortable, discontent, that we change. So what if…

What if I embrace the contrast! What if I see it for what it is and, in the midst of it all, say “I see this for what it really is! An opportunity for me to decide what I really want because now I know what I don’t want!”

For me to know that and see that I must feel better now! But feeling better ABOUT the insurance shift or the political-education shift just may not be possible. So feel good about something else! Anything else! Then see what you can do from THAT perspective.

When I feel good on purpose, my head is clear, my heart is open and inspiration comes. Most times I’m reminded to focus on the big picture outcome. I want to feel peaceful and secure knowing I’m well insured. That may be too specific yet. I’ll stick to peaceful and secure.”

Lauren used Mindfulness to become aware of her reactions, then she changed those reactions.
We don’t always catch ourselves in the moment.
That’s ok.
As long as you become present at some point. That’s where your power lies….in the present moment.

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How To Get Out of a Funk

Three steps to get out of a funk.

We all have days when things don’t seem to go right and you feel down. You know those days when it would have been easier just to stay in bed.

You may know the reason you feel blue or you just woke up this way. I think most of these funks don’t actually have a specific cause but our mind tries to figure it out anyway.

It’s easy to get caught up in it, wallow in it …..for days even. You waste precious time looking for reasons. The funk doesn’t’ go away, so what do you do?

If you’re human you can’t escape these feelings. I’ve had plenty of those times and I wanted to find a way to get out of these random funks.

So I did some mindful things that I found really work.

  1. Acknowledge that you are feeling down.

Researchers have found that when we’re feeling any kind of negative emotion we can make it less severe by acknowledging it and labeling it.

Give yourself permission to be in a funk, acknowledge you’re in one and feeling whatever it is you are feeling.

What you resist persists. So stop resisting.

Our mind wants to make sense of things and giving voice to a feeling is a powerful way to acknowledge it. Everything in life wants to be acknowledged. Once we do that we find that a door opens to take away the intensity and something shifts!

  1. Move energy.

Everything in the universe is energy, and when you move that energy, you will see changes in your mood.

When we’re in a funk it’s easy to sit around, crawl back under the covers or remove ourselves from others.

But the best thing to do is something different. Get up, turn the music on and dance. Go out and meet a friend, exercise, take a walk on the beach, go to that party you’ve been invited to, go to the movies, to the park……anything, as long as it’s movement.

  1. Be kind to yourself.

Don’t beat yourself up for not constantly being peppy and excited. Life isn’t like that. It takes sadness to know happiness. Downs to recognize ups.

So treat yourself with compassion and love. Imagine how you would treat your child or best friend. You would be gentle and kind…..

Do kind things to make you feel treasured. Take that hot bath, have that special cup of coffee, take time to just be.

It’s not a license to binge on chocolate or alcohol under the guise of being kind to yourself. That won’t make you feel better. You know the difference.

Loving actions toward yourself are ones that make you feel good, increase your self-respect, honor you.

Try these things and let me know how they work for you. No, you won’t suddenly be Tigger, but you’ll feel better. A little more alive, less funky.

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How to Stop Letting your Emotions Control You

Have you ever gone into a fit of rage and come out barely remembering what you said or how you got there in the first place? Have you ever let your emotions be in control?

I think this is true for many of us. So when I found this article by psychotherapist Danielle Benvenuto I felt it was worth sharing. She uses my favorite approach to life: Mindfulness

Here you go:

Have you ever been seized by sheer panic while waiting for a response from your new crush, a state so powerful that sending a text message every hour on the hour, wondering aloud if something terrible happened, felt like a good idea?

Have you ever convinced yourself that you’re not good enough, cool enough, smart enough, pretty enough, woman enough, man enough, tall enough, skinny enough, (fill in the blank) enough and that the whole entire world must think so too?

We all have our triggers—certain experiences that take us to emotional places we prefer not to go.

For some, it’s feeling neglected. For others, it’s being criticized. The list is a long one. We all have our own set of life experiences that help to create a place where our emotions can get the best of us. I have dealt with a fair share of my own and because my line of work is in healing, I witness it every day and in many different forms.

So how exactly do we get held hostage by our emotional states? And what can we do to find our way back to solid ground, where we can see things from a clearer perspective?

Here are two fundamental ways we allow our emotions to get the best of us and how the power of mindfulness techniques can help. They not only help to ground us when we’re losing our grip on reality, but also foster a more solid foundation so that, over time, we can catch ourselves before we slip down into that much-dreaded but familiar rabbit hole of emotion.

Two things that contribute to emotion overload:

We go on the chase.

The moment we start chasing a train of thought or emotion, we begin to hand our power over to it. We do this when we judge, obsess, and over-analyze.

For example: You are feeling anxious because you have an important job interview. You begin the “chase” by thinking: I’m probably not going to do well on this interview. This thought causes anxiety and uncomfortable sensations in your body. In response to the anxiety, more thoughts occur: I bet normal people don’t feel this way. I’m such a mess. Why do I feel weird? I need a drink. Why am I such an anxious person? Which contributes to even more anxiety: I’m going to completely bomb this interview. I must get rid of this anxiety right now…but, wait, I have no clue how to do that either. I must be a failure at everything!

Instead of giving the anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings space to breathe and make their way through uninterrupted, they get amplified by a judgmental attitude similar to the above and flare up like an out-of-control fire. One of things we don’t want to happen while in the midst trying to put out that fire is for massive gusts of wind to pass through.

Imagine this fire as an emotional state you are prone to experiencing and a strong, forceful wind as the judgmental stance you typically take about this particular emotional state. We make ourselves feel worse by fanning our emotional flames, and more importantly, we leave no room for our feelings to naturally die down with time, which, by the way, is what emotions typically do if given the chance!

If we don’t create space, we also don’t allow room for reason or intuition to emerge to help with whatever we’re experiencing.

The mindful alternative:

Mindfulness asks us to take a curious, open, and non-judgmental stance to all that passes through our minds. For example, say: I think that I am not good at job interviews and this is causing me to feel anxious. Or: Right now, I am experiencing anxiety. It’s important to not make meaning out of the feeling or have it be a reflection of your self-worth or the current reality.

Instead, observe it by saying something like: “I must be a failure” is a thought that is passing through my mind. I’m feeling like a mess, but this doesn’t mean I am a mess. It can be helpful while making these statements to hold your heart. Doing this sends the communication that you are here for yourself while sending loving energy through your hands. This reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh’s to difficult feelings, in which he advises us to say, “Anxiety, I am here for you.” Replace anxiety with whatever emotion you are experiencing that you want to fight or judge.

Another approach is to imagine the thought as a cloud passing through the sky. The sky is your essence, pure and untainted by the self-defeating narratives you make up about yourself, and feelings and thoughts are the weather (a cloud, a snowstorm, rain), which is always subject to change. Watch the thoughts and feelings as phenomenon passing through you, instead of being you.

It can be helpful to  find an anchor back to the present moment—using your breath or the sensation of your feet touching the floor—when you find yourself drifting away.

We Give The Silent Treatment.

The second mode we engage in is denying our thoughts and feelings their right to exist. Repressing thoughts and feelings, however, only makes them fight more adamantly for self-expression.

Looking through a scientific lens, feelings are energy, and since energy can’t be destroyed, the energy that comprises the feeling will find a form of expression regardless of our attempts to block it. In my personal and professional experience, this usually occurs through an experience that feels overwhelming and often completely alien. Depression or ongoing panic attacks—with no identifiable trigger or psychosomatic symptoms that have no medical diagnosis—may emerge.

We typically repress our feelings because we were taught through our various life experiences that it isn’t safe to have them. If anger is not an acceptable emotion to have, you will have belief systems in place that check the emergence of an angry feeling. However, eventually this system fails.

For example, you are angry because you find yourself more often than not taking care of other peoples’ needs before your own. You don’t assert yourself when you need to, and you ignore the anger you feel brewing at being taken advantage of. You question whether or not you have the right to get what you need. You’ve been doing this for years, thanks to an upbringing where self-sacrifice was the way you were taught to give and receive love. Alas, you find yourself in a fit of rage saying something hurtful to someone, barely remembering what you said, and then feeling guilty for losing control.

The mindful alternative:

Give yourself permission to have your feelings by honoring them as they arise: “I feel anger and l will take care of this feeling by letting it unfold and, if it helps, understanding what it is asking of me or trying to tell me.” Talk out the feeling with a friend or a therapist. Often, we don’t always know what we are feeling and by voicing it to another, insights about ourselves begin to take shape.

If a feeling doesn’t feel safe to express, start by journaling about it or noticing where it resides in your body. Walking or running is also helpful, especially since physical activity can help release emotional energy being stored in the body. This approach is particularly helpful when intense emotions are passing through and sitting with them feels nearly impossible. While moving your body, practice the same non-judgmental and open attitude I mentioned earlier with whatever emotional state is moving through you.

~

As you can see, the vicious cycle of being emotionally held hostage ensues in either mode.

If we switch to a mindful approach, where we observe our thoughts and feelings rather than chase or ignore them, we create a space to see how things truly are, instead of how our limited egos and the narratives we have been telling ourselves make them out to be.

This space we create becomes an anchor and with time, this space becomes a solid structure within ourselves—a home within our own bodies—where we can enter into a positive and more caring relationship with ourselves.

Author: Danielle Benvenuto

Read her article at https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/02/how-to-stop-letting-our-emotions-hold-us-hostage/

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The Dark Side

We all have a dark side and we are masters at hiding it.

We all have traits within us that we don’t like. Usually we choose not to look too closely or we practice complete denial. It’s not at all easy to get real with ourselves.

I found there are two types of people in the world, those who want to know and those who want to believe. People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.

Interesting, isn’t it? You can see it if you look at the people in your life.

Do you know into which category you fall?

I know that I want to know. I want the truth.

One of my greatest challenges is to look at life with curiosity, rather than my same old accusing attitude. It’s a habit that’s been well taught and has become deeply ingrained in my psyche. As I started to observe myself doing that, it became the proverbial onion: I found many layers.

Looking deeply at my dark side was painful. I didn’t like admitting that I’m not all wonderful all the time and recognizing the various petty grievances I have.

I’m pretty spontaneous in general, but when I make plans and they don’t work out according to my schedule, I get pretty annoyed…..not only with the situation, but especially with the people involved. That annoyance can last a while.

I first noticed my attitude with bigger things, like planning a trip and someone throws a wrench in it, which causes us to leave late or worse, not at all.

You may think, oh that’s not a big deal. But then I saw that I do this not only with big plans but little ones as well. Like planning to have a cup of coffee and we have no creamer, because the last person to use it didn’t replace it. Grrr!

At the same time I began to notice people who don’t have my outlook for whatever reason.

I saw that they struggle too, they try to make sense of what is happening, but then some sunlight shines in and they begin to smile. They take on a positive mindset and move forward.

I quickly realized that it’s pretty pervasive, this attitude of mine. It shows up in areas I never even considered.

I want to change that. The fact is, stuff happens. If things don’t go my way, the alternative could be better, more exciting, interesting, whatever. If I can be open, who knows what great things can come out of that situation?

One thing I know for sure, nothing good comes out of my bad attitude. Definitely not peace. Only frustration for me and emotional distance from the person I care about.

So….. change! How can I change it? It requires daily practice to become present to this and create a different neural pathway.

A good way to visualize this is by imagining a well worn narrow path created by a heavy vehicle. You can literally see the tire tracks from the frequent use. It becomes difficult to navigate that path without slipping into that rut. It’s just easier to stay on that track.

Changing that path requires presence of mind and a deep commitment.

Mindfulness!

Deep within us there is resistance to something different, unless we create a ritual and some type of support for a new way of thinking.

At first, as we try to create a new path, we continue to slip back into that well worn groove, but with perseverance it happens less and less. We create a new neural pathway, which becomes stronger the more it is used.

It’s simple, but not easy.

Once you decide that you want to commit, here are some steps to support your efforts:

  1. It’s important to create some kind of ritual.

You have flexibility here, because we are all different. Find some moments of stillness each day. One of my favorites is mindfulness meditation and some Kundalini yoga. If you have no idea what that is, don’t worry, simply take a moment each day to sit quietly, breathe and focus on your goal.  Observe yourself, notice what you are doing, thinking. The object is to become present to yourself.

 

  1. You have to get support

Find someone with whom you can discuss your thoughts and insights. No man is an island. Being isolated in this pursuit is a surefire way to slip back into the same old groove. Like an alcoholic, or any kind of addict, needs a support group and a different environment, we need someone who holds us accountable. Otherwise the old patterns just push their way back into our lives.

If there’s no one in your life right now, find a group online. Find a MeetUp. Email me.

 

  1. Do not judge yourself harshly!

When we are tired we fall back into old patterns. When we are overwhelmed, we typically lose our ability to be positive and strong. Recognize when you need to just be. Degrading yourself for your humanness isn’t going to change your old patterns faster. The best way to see change in our lives is to be kind and loving to ourselves.

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5 Essential Questions for a Better Life

 

When we are curious about the world we have a sense of wonder, we feel alive. Asking questions is one way we can do that. Questions are a deeper inquiry into our universe and they can help us to think about how we might improve our lives, our world.

These are 5 truly essential questions that will change the way you look at life. These points are from a segment from the Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education James Ryan’s 2016 commencement speech. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW0NguMGIbE

1. Wait, What?
The first is a question kids are fond of asking, and it’s one you may have heard teenagers ask — or maybe you still ask it yourself. The question is “Wait, what?”

Kids typically pose this question when you get to the point in a conversation where you’re asking them to do something. From their perspective, they hear you saying something like: “blah, blah, blah, blah, and then I’d like you to clean your room.” And at that precise moment, the question inevitably comes: “Wait, what? Clean what?”

“Wait, what?” is an effective way of asking for clarification. The “wait” part is a good reminder to slow down so you can fully understand.

2. I Wonder why or if?
The second question is “I wonder”, which can be followed by “why” or “if.” So: I wonder why, or I wonder if.

Asking “I wonder why” is the way to remain curious about the world, and asking “I wonder if” is the way to start thinking about how you might improve the world.

As in, I wonder why my relationships are so difficult, and I wonder if I could change this? Or I wonder why students often seem bored in school, and I wonder if we could create a different system?

3. Couldn’t we at least…?
The third question is: “Couldn’t we at least…?” This is the question to ask that can help you to get unstuck. It’s what enables you to get past disagreement to some consensus, as in couldn’t we at least agree that we all care about the welfare of students, even if we disagree about strategy?

It’s also a way to get started when you’re not entirely sure where you will finish, as in couldn’t we at least begin by making sure that all kids have the chance to come to school healthy and well-fed?

4. How can I help?
The fourth question is: “How can I help?” We have to be aware of the savior complex, of the position where we think we are the expert or hero who swoops in to save others.

One of the most humane instincts there is — the instinct to help. But we can’t act as if we are the only ones with the right answer. We have to be aware not to enable or rescue.

Therefore, how we help matters as much as that we do help, and if you ask “how” you can help, you are asking with humility, for direction. And you are recognizing that others are experts in their own lives and that they will likely help you as much as you help them.

5. What truly matters?
The fifth question is this: “What truly matters?” You can tack on “to me” as appropriate. This is the question that forces you to get to the heart of issues and to the heart of your own beliefs and convictions.

It’s a question that you might add to, or substitute for, New Year’s resolutions. You might ask yourself, in other words, at least every new year: what truly matters to me? This will quickly help you sort through your wants, so you can get to your true values in life.
————————-

So these are the five essential questions. “Wait, what” is at the root of all understanding. “I wonder” is at the heart of all curiosity. “Couldn’t we at least” is the beginning of all progress. “How can I help” is at the base of all good relationships. And “what really matters” gets you to the heart of life. If you ask these questions regularly, especially the last one, you will be in a great position to answer the bonus question, which is, at the end of the day, the most important question you’ll ever face.

The bonus question is from a poem by Raymond Carver, called “Late Fragments.” that starts with the question, “And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so?”. Even so is the acknowledgment that life is also full of obstacles, pain and sorrow.
The poem then continues:
“I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.”

So my wish for you, myself, and all of us, is that we never stop asking and listening, that we feel loved on this earth, and that we are kind and compassionate toward others.
Here is the segment of the commencement speech James Ryan gave at Harvard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW0NguMGIbE

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Are you an old soul?

Sketch of tattoo art, portrait of american indian head over colorful paper

 

 

 

 

 

I used to wonder why some people seem complacent about life as it is and others seem to question everything and know there is more than our five senses tell us. I still sit and watch others wherever I go, rarely finding anyone who makes eye-contact or expresses curiosity about others or their surroundings.

Over the course of many years I began to realize that we humans live on many different levels of awareness, hence the vastly different behaviors, opinions and ideas. I compare it to the stages we go through as we age. From infancy to becoming a teenager, to adulthood, middle age and beyond. We have completely different perspectives at each stage, because we gather experiences as we grow.

What is it that makes someone search for more, long for more in life?

These old souls are born with a desire to seek the truth.

From the moment they draw their first breath they have a longing to know more, be more, to understand truth. Instead of being wide-eyed and simplistic, these children are perceptive and complex. Instead of being fresh and uncomplicated, they are unusual and always asking questions that are out of the norm. They are usually outsiders. Often scolded for their deep, sometimes invasive questions. They seem wise beyond their years.

They like to read and often gravitate towards spending time with older people, like teachers, adult friends, grandparents. They are psychologically on the same level.

Old souls. They are the sages and mystics of the world.

They see the world clearly, honestly and don’t like to participate in small talk. As adults their views and opinions can be interpreted as pessimistic and cold rather than recognizing the old soul as awake, aware and realistic.

They often are the “black sheep” in their family or the “lone wolves” of society. Other people find it difficult to understand their behavior or the way they feel and experience the world.

For that reason they are often loners. They go their own way, often on the fringes of society. They care little for casual encounters and small talk, such as coworkers and neighbors. In toxic family relationships these old souls will release the family member who displays a stuck, destructive pattern.

Old souls sometimes struggle, feeling isolated and alien-like in the company of others who cannot relate or resonate with their experiences. They are almost otherworldly and can feel out of sync, often believing as though they exist in an alternative dimension.

These seekers prefer to look for the deeper reason of someone’s actions so they can understand instead of condemn. They are not manipulative. They are accepting, open minded and empathetic. They are great listeners, rarely the life of the party. They seem to be forgiving beyond reason and repeatedly offer compassion even if they have been hurt in the process.

Learning and understanding truth is one of the things that excites the old soul the most.

Old souls recognize each other intuitively. They have an openness not typically found in strangers. They are always observing. They view the world differently than the majority. Their mind is constantly searching for answers and theorizing, analyzing and philosophizing.

They often seem as though they are born before their time as their ideologies, beliefs, inventions, artistic expression, thoughts and unconventional lifestyles can all make them feel as though they are out of touch with their own generation. Old souls are often misunderstood, misinterpreted and misplaced in society as they have unorthodox characters which can seem eccentric, perplexing and bewildering to most.

Old souls see the truth in what is happening in the world. They draw strength and comfort from the earth and clearly see the parallels in life and nature. The old soul has a deeper and more natural connection with the world around them. They have great respect for mother nature and seek things that improve life for all, because they recognize the we need a healthy planet, body, mind and soul to survive as a species.

Are you an old soul? Feeling alone out there? Join us here, share your experiences…..

 

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New Beginnings

new-beginnings

 

 

I wish you a wonderful Christmas Season and a Happy New Year.

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As we enter yet another New Year, we will continue to see many changes on our planet and in our personal evolution. I’m sure many of you wonder, “what is the point of this? Is it really just about rushing around, getting stuff, doing stuff? Are we getting anywhere?” I am more and more aware of the importance of my relationships with the people I care about.

Yet our hectic lifestyles can make it difficult to be present, to be in the moment, to deal successfully with issues to which we need to pay attention. Learning to be mindful, releasing painful thoughts and memories are essential skills for dealing with the ever increasing demands on our time.

For those reasons, my team and I have been working on a way to bring some peace and healing to you beginning April 1st. See more http://www.mindfulnessevolution.com/peru-retreat/

Healings in Peru

We have created a powerful workshop where you will learn to create inner peace, experience the sacred places of Peru and learn to become a bridge for others. In this setting of ancient wisdom, we will come home to our truest selves. Mindfulness and forgiveness are an intentional discipline of being focused and present, which keeps us from drifting into fear, self-doubt, pain and constant stress. It frees us and we finally come to know inner peace. With that sense of inner peace, you’ll find yourself happier and free of the impact that negative energy of all kinds has on your life and health. A bonus is that you’ll find that others are much more attracted to you.

Come join us. To learn more http://www.mindfulnessevolution.com/peru-retreat/

http://be-a-bridge.com/

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The Silent Punisher

This is the third in a series of newsletters looking at how our feelings affect our lives and bodies. It is powerful knowledge that can help eliminate pain in all areas of your life. If you are struggling with something, send me an email or call.

falseguilt

 

The Silent Punisher

We’ve been talking about the effects of feelings and emotions on our health. An emotion is a message from your brain, sent to your body as a sensation. It starts as a thought. Whenever emotions are denied, belittled or dismissed, they end up running the show. We’ve been focusing on how they affect our bodies.

Guilt and shame are natural, healthy emotions. Imagine, if we didn’t feel guilty over hurtful or destructive things we’ve done. Or if we didn’t feel shame when we are caught sneaking something that isn’t ours. Our lives, our world would be on destructive autopilot.

Shame says: I am bad

Guilt says: I did something bad

Everything has to be in moderation, everything has to have balance. Ideally, we feel the emotion, make amends and move on. However, sometimes the scales tip a little too far on the shame and guilt side and the cells in out bodies take it on. This occurs when we feel guilty over things that happened years ago. When we hold on and let them define us, when we don’t release those punishing feelings.

We all have things that haunt us for years, often a lifetime.

Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.” Brene’ Brown PhD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEBjNv5M784

A client of mine recalls how he was caught playing with matches as a young boy. He was maybe 5 or 6, a normal curious little boy. When his mom caught him, she was naturally upset, screamed at him and lectured him. Then, with magic marker she wrote on his t-shirt FIREBUG and had him stand outside in public. To this day, the memory of the shame causes him to shrink, feel guilty and defensive. Over the years this has added to the numerous other things he feels ashamed of and has caused his body to stiffen in defense of possible attacks. When walking around he also balls his hands into fists.

Another married client ended up in the hospital with a severe cut on his hand and near fatal blood-poisoning. He is an excellent carpenter, always cautious and meticulous. However, he had been carrying on an affair over an extended period of time and the guilt was eating him up. When he was repairing a piece of furniture in his home, he nearly cut his thumb off. His subconscious helped him punish himself.

Survivors of childhood abuse often blame themselves for what has happened, many have been feeling guilty and punishing themselves their whole lives for the mistakes of the adults that they trusted.

Shame and guilt cause a constriction in our bodies. Like the ripple a pebble causes when thrown in a lake, so do consistent shameful and guilty thoughts affect our bodies and finally our health.

These habitual thoughts, over time, are emotions. They create a neuro-pathway in our nervous system and affect everything from new thoughts, to self-esteem to physical well-being.

These emotions thrive in silence, secrecy and judgment.

This happens whether you think about it or not.

We reap what we sow. Literally, and in many more ways than we typically think.

It’s the law of cause and effect. It operates in all areas of our lives.

If you’ve been reading the previous articles on how our feelings affect our lives, then you already know what you have to do if you want to heal yourself from excessive guilt and shame.

Health is inner peace.” Course in Miracles. There can be no peace when we allow shame and guilt to run the show.

Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.” Course in Miracles.

Here is what I say: Love yourself enough, pretend if you have to. You are a child of God. In your meditation be willing to let those old self-punishing thoughts go. Lovingly! Always with love. Never in anger or hatred!

Shine a light on it. It cannot continue to thrive when you acknowledge it.

There is nothing you did that cannot be forgiven.

If you can’t sit still long enough, do something that causes some stillness in you. Go for a walk in nature, run, dance….anything that works for you. In that inner space of silence, go to your bags of stored up guilt and shame, open them up, let the light shine in and be willing to accept the love God has for you. Be kind to yourself.

Willingness is powerful! Doors open, miracles happen when you are willing.

 

If you are struggling with understanding something in your life or need help, send me an email or call. You don’t have to go it alone.

christina@christinadevalencia.com

804-306-7287

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