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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Assumptions!

Today I want to go back to the concept of assumptions and the impact it can have on our interactions/day to day communications and relationships with others.  An assumption is an opinon we form about a particular situation, an issue, and/or persons.  Assumptions are based on our past experiences and we project subconsciously our past experiences onto the particular issue.   We often jump to conclusion based on on our assumption and inevitably it leads to an emotional drama of some sort.   The emotional tug of war can be with another person, it can be with our selves and our mind.  The emotional tug of war can be draining and at times it can ruin relationships and it can create disagreements and ill feelings between people. 

Why do we fall into that trap? Why is it that instead of being direct and asking a question, we end up assuming something automatically.   An assumption can be something as simple as if you don't get a phone call back from someone or if you don't get an email back from someone, you tend to find rationales, reasons for that.  Assumption can also be that if a person is quiet/doesn't talk much, introverted, they are either proud, etc. 

Assumptions are reflections of the way we view ourselves- if we assume someone may not want to talk to us, or someone wants something from us, in actuality, it is really a form of rejecting ourselves.   If we assume that the reason someone acted in a particular way was because they wanted to hurt us, or they wanted to attack us, or they wanted to have some form of control over us, in actuality, it is really how we feel about ourselves.   We need to look at ourselves honestly and see - how do we view ourself? Are we insecure about certain things? Explore what our insecurities are and be honest with ourselves about it.  

Something that I have devoted a huge part of this year to is not forming assumptions - i believe it is crucial to developing a spiritual practice and strengthening my core spirit.  Particularly as a mother, with my son growing, it is extremely important for me not to form assumptions about his personality and about him - 

But like with everything else it takes a lot of practice, and more than anything it takes courage.   Not forming assumptions requires that I begin to speak more and articulate my fears, articulate my questions, articulate my ideas.  In essence it is learning to be comfortable with our voice - and respecting that voice.    Sometimes we may not always have a pat on the back when we begin to voice our authentic self, but I have found that in situations where I want to avoid making an assumption - if i practice authentic communication from the heart, i avoid misunderstanding and i avoid unnecessary judgement.    It also doesn't hurt to just ask a question instead of assuming.   You will be surprised when you ask, how much you find out that so much of things are in our minds instead of it being based on reality.  

Also, if we learn not to make assumptions, we learn to accept other people more - we understand others better, and let them be who they are.  We learn that it is not about changing them - that if we change our reaction to them, in time, we may not feel the same issues or uncomfortable feelings that we may feel with each other.  

An exercise - think of how many judgements you make of yourself in a day.  Now take it a step further - how many judgments do you make of others based on their speech, their dress style, their background, etc.   Think about people whom you know now who you are friends with and think of the first time you met them - what was your impression - was it positive/negative.   Think about how you walk by someone you work with everyday and not once you say hello to them, b/c of whatever issues there may be- and the one day you have a conversation you are amazed to see how much you have in common or you were surprised that you made a friend.

My writing practice continues to help me on this path of cultivating non-judgment, assumption and learning to articulate my voice.  
One of the writing courses I took, there is an exercise that refers to as Character Sketch.  A Character sketch is a written descriptio of a nother person or a part of yourself.  When you write about another, it is a good opportunity to tune into your projections about the other person.   A projection is an unknown part of yourself that you see in other people.   Here are example of some character sketches:
- people you admire
- people who make you angry
-of yourself
-your friends.
There is no right or wrong way to do this - but pay attention to describing their feelings, likes dislikes, what bugs you about this person, the person's role, etc?    It makes you more aware and more in tune with yourself and others.

Happy Journaling!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice!

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At 1:04 AM today, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Eastern Time marked the beginning of summer and celebration of Summer Solstice.  For centuries, there are have been traditions across cultures celebrating the beginning of summer and really enjoying the longest night of the year.   I was remined about the Summer Solstice by my sister, and the question she posed to us was "What will you do with that extra time today.?"
How will you spend that extra time?   Simple in its question, yet the answer is not that simple.  So many of us may think of all the chores that may need to be done, while others may say, we can use it to celebrate the Sun.  Celebrate the beauty of the Sun.  
What does the sun symbolize to you?  For me the sun is warmth. It signifies life, vitality, energy.  When the sun is out, we find ourselves all happy, full of energy.  When the days are longer, we feel like we can get more accomplished.  When the days are longer, we enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.   When the days are longer, we find ourselves doing things outdoors we may never do.   It's like children - the moment the weather is warm, all they want to do is be outside and play.   They could be out there for hours, but don't think about their tiredness.  Instead they are too busy enjoying themselves that they forget that their body is tired.  Similarly, we too, during these special months of summer must take advantage of this gift that the sun is providing us - if makes you more alive and full.
This year in particular, i'm more connected to celebrating the summer solistice year, moreso because of the spiritual significance of it - each of us has a spiritual fire in us that need to be ignited and just like the sun extends its rays to alll unconditionally - we too need to have that spiritual fire in us -those rays of love ignited and utilized in a direction that will help us manifest our dreams.   How many of us start something and don't complete it? How many of us take on too many things and end up feeling overwhelmed? How many of us just don't have the energy to just do anything?  Traditions state that rituals celebrating the summer solistice enable those to ignite their spiritual fire and help in realizing dreams.   In yoga, there is a pose, called the warrior pose - this pose is about developing internal strength in our knees, in our legs, in our feet - to help keep us grounded.   What I like about this pose, is that it gets us to focus on our breath, and breathing through our abdomen, we gain strength in extending our limbs forward.  As we do that, we begin to create will power, we create stability, and centeredness.    I am also reminded of a yoga class that I took in a park one time with my cousin and sister and found it so relaxing and wonderful as we tried to be grounded while we were in nature.   On many levels we were celebrating the sun - and in retrospect I will cherish that moment.   So on this day, I ask you to take one hour of the day to give honor to this beautiful creation of the universe - the sun - without whom we could not be sustained.   And taking it to another level - honoring you and your beauty and your life.   Give yourself that hour of ritual for yourself.   And enjoy the summer days!
Happy Solistice!
P.S.  A Journal Prompt for you for This Day:   
"Where would I go today with the Sun?"


Happy Journaling!!!!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Wisdom

There is an old Indian saying that Our Fathers teach us wisdom, whereas our mothers teach us unconditional love.  Sunday, many of us celebrated Fathers day - a day to really celebrate and honor your father especially if he played an important role in your life.   My father left an imprint on me that I will utterly be grateful for.  Although he passed away almost 12 years ago, I still feel him with me, around me, more than ever - and I think it is because of the many experiences we had together and the time he took to spend with us.  He travelled alot for work, so we spent time apart together, however, the time we did have together was quality time.  He made sure he would have those teaching father-daughter moments that i can still remember to this day.   As a young child I watched him in his day to day interactions with others, I listened to his ever so creative stories, I learned to love music and appreciate all types of music from him, and I learned to dance from him.   He taught me humility, he taught me the importance of hard work and having a good work ethic.  He taught me about being fair and being objective.   He also had a temper - which unfortunately I inherited:).  There are moments with him that I will never forget such as the many special one on one trips with him -or the way he surprised me with a singing telegram for one of my birthdays, or just plain advice he gave me on men, on relationships.  He also taught me about spirituality and understanding the importance of spirituality in day to day life.  My father was my friend first. 

Yesterday, my husband also celebrated his sixth year as being a father - and i think it struck me even more when he said - "Fathers' Day is more important to me than christmas or even my birthday."  I was a little surprised at that first, but as he began to talk about it, i began to understand that it is the joy of seeing his son grow, being able to do things that fathers/sons do with each other and being able to pass on his wisdom to his son in the same way as my dad passed on his wisdom to me.   Maybe not in the same exact way, but watching the two of them interact is quite beautiful.  With both their energies combined as they interact together it is quite touching to see the way they play ball together, the way they watch a game together, the way they like to bug each other, and the way they understand each other with no words needed.   What's even more uncanny is their mannerisms - it's like watching a junior and a senior in action at times!

Fatherhood comes with great responsibility and it is so important that we are aware of the impact we have on our little ones as they grow into adults - be it female or male.   If you play a father figure role to someone, it is extremely important that you be mindful of the impact you have on that little one - your words stay with them, your actions stay with them, and your presence provides them safety and stability.  It is a shame to think to yourself that they may not be aware, or they may forget - if that is so, just look back to your childhood and and think back of the ones who shaped you, who impacted your thinking, and the words that were once said to you that stayed with you forever.  

There are so many of us that have lost that time with our father becuase of the negative relationship we had with them growing up, or because of their trauma history, or because of our mistinterpretation of their actions and behaviors - journaling helps in connecting the dots with our relationships so that when it is our turn to be a parent, we don't repeat the same mistakes.    

Some Journaling Prompts:
1. What my Father taught me _______________
2.  List 5 things associated with your father - now pick one of them and write about it for 5 minutes. 
3.  Write a letter to your dad...either as a form of forgiveness or as a form of praise/gratefulness. U can choose after you write it whether you want to send it to them or not.
4.  Father Figures take all different forms.  When you were growing up and even today - was there someone that you regarded as a father figure? Write about the male role models you have had in your life and the impression they made on you.  What did you learn from them? And how did you try to emulate them as an adult? 
5.  I had my son write out a poem for his dad  with the letter DAD - He was asked to write a sentence beginning with each alphabet - his first entry into journaling poems:)

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Connections.....

When you strike a connection with someone - whether it is by blood (through family) or through friendship, it is amazing how neither proximity nor distance can impede in strengthening the connection.   Our first connection with another as a baby is with our family - our mother, our father or whomever is our primary caretaker.  It is in these years that we form our bonds, our trusts-depending on our caretaker's nurturing style, we either learn to express ourselves fully or we choose to do it selectively and intimately with only those whom we trust.  We extend further to an outer circle consisting of cousins, early childhood frienships, aunts, uncles, grandparents.  All these individuals create some form of impression on us way on in childhood and we begin to either form strong positive bonds with them or negative bonds with them. 

I write about this because last week I attended my cousin's wedding and on so many levels it was a reunion of many sorts - so many of us had not been together in over 5-6 years as a family - and what struck me was our connection had not changed.   We all have very different lives - we all live in different parts of the world.  We all have different lifestyles -yet our connection has not changed.  For one full week - regardless of where we are right now in our life - professionally, personally, spiritually - non of that mattered except that we were together and that togetherness was a bond of some kind.   Words are not needed at times - a smile, a look, a hug, a drink - a meal - and for those of us that have kids - having to see our kids hang out with each other - was very special - but almost like time stood still for us. 

One of the things I will always be grateful to my parents for is that they made the effort for us as kids to get to know our cousins and to get to know our family - vacations revolved around visiting family.   And those are some of my best memories ever.  I don't know if it is feasible in this day and age to repeat the same, but I will say this much that there was effort on their part to make sure that we would meet.   And there was pay off - because to see that we still share the same bond - to see that we still get excited when we hear a favorite song, or if we share a favorite drink or if we just sit and chat somewhere together, -that is the pay off. 

I love my family - and I am so glad that the universe made it possible for me to share in this occasion.  I realized that we each in one or the other subconsciously or consciously have inspired, encouraged, motivated each other to be who we are at this point in our lives.  We may not speak to each other often, we may not meet each other often, we may not even email each other often - but when we meet, it is a sincere connection of just being with each other and I love that.  Even if we meet for one hour - sometimes that one hour is filled with so much "oomph and soul" because of that bond we share. 

The other thing that my parents encouraged is cultivating relationships with their siblings i.e. our aunts and uncles -by knowing them - we get to know and understand our family better and it makes us more whole -or rather it creates more understanding in the family.   There is a joy in seeing my aunts- they are some of the coolest women I know - and have taught me so much about living - about life- the same for my uncles - their hard work, their eccentricity, their loving life to the fullest, their wisdom have influenced each and every single one of us - and I am grateful.  

While i am not proposing things to be ideal - i am stating that there is some value in making the effort for family bonding - as one wise cousin of mine stated - "at the end of it all, what do we have - each other ."    These friendships regardless of proximity helped us in our teens, in our twenties, in our thirties and all through the milestones that we go through.  

Ultimately it also speaks to the power of connecting with another  human spirit - sometimes it doesn't have to be family - sometimes it is a friend - not everyone can have a nurturing family and so in that aspect, it is important to seek out ur individual circle of family - and it doesn't have to be blood related.   When you meet someone that you share an instant connection with, it is important to charish and keep that - seldom do we meet people that really understand us, that can make us laugh and cry at the same time, that can really read us -and that we can have never ending chats with:)..... so many of us can be horrible with keeping in touch because life just slips by so quickly - i will be the first culprit- but over and over again I am reminded of the value of cultivating relationships and keeping these strong bonds.   And it is soooo worth it!

Journal Prompt:  A Circle Journal that travels around the family - each member of the family gets to keep the journal for two weeks, and it get passed on from one member to the other - until it reaches the last one - it is a great way of connecting, it is a great way of keeping in touch - knowing where each one of us is at this point on our lives, it is a great of way of creating memories.   Happy Journaling!