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Monday, July 29, 2013

Incompleteness....

As children we grow up with siblings.  Often a new birth into a family creates mixed emotions.   For the oldest child, it is not only excitement, but it is also a fear of not being loved enough of not receiving enough attention, of not being the favorite.  Our parents use whatever tools they have to create harmony between siblings and to restore balance.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, depending on the degree of comparison that often is created by the parents.  Regardless of how much a parent may tell their children that they love all of them equally - if their actions indicate otherwise, the children will begin to internalize the differences and act it out accordingly.   It happens in all families, yet the power of love can create the best of bonds between siblings and often they are our best friends.  

But it takes effort to build that kind of relationship - effort on the part of parents to create an environment so that the feeling of "i wish i had what he/she had" or " i wish they would not treat me differently." or " I wish I was as smart/beautiful/etc as him/her"  doesn't develop.     I have watched families, and watched children grow into adults feeling incomplete because that foundation  of a sense of self was not established as a child due to various factors.   Blaming parents is not the answer - but learning from our past so we don't repeat the cycle is the answer.  Also being in tuned with our sense of incompleteness whatever that may be can help break the cycle.  

There are so many words that can describe this feeling - rivalry, jealousy, incomplete, insecure -whatever word you choose to define it as - if you feel it, then it is important to be in tuned with it.    Some people might say - why be in tuned with it? what is that going to do to me? how is that going to help me?   I say, that by being in tuned to it, you can become more aware of the triggers in you that create these feelings.  And by being more aware - you can change the state of your relationships and you can work on processing these feelings so they don't impact your relationships.  

Think of a situation you have been in where you either receive some news  - now think about the initial gut reaction -do you feel a twinge in your stomach - do you feel a knot in your throat - think about your initial body reactions and the process after that - do you find yourself feeling guilty for thinking negatively - do you find yourself rationalizing your thinking- do you find yourself pushing the thoughts/feelings away and bury it deep down so you don't have to think about it?

Now what if you did the exact opposite?  What if you chose to acknowledge the body sensations and be present with it? what if you chose to be aware of the thoughts in your mind whichever way they go without feeing guilty about it? what if you decided to actually write about the feelings you are having without burying them deep inside? What would the outcome be?  

The feeling may not go away - but being aware, it teaches you how to have more compassion and more understanding for yourself and for the other person.  
It teaches you to be patient with yourself.   It gives you insight into you verbalizing your desires and perhaps actually manifesting them should you feel that you have put them on the back burner.  

The practice of mindfulness - of being in tuned to your thoughts, emotions, feelings is so important in this practice when you begin to feel incomplete as a person.     Journaling is a sort of mindfulness.  It is the act of being in tuned with your thoughts, allowing you to process them, and then letting it sit with you without judgment, just more understanding.  

Prompt:   Try Breathing in 10 times - Inhale and Exhale 10 times and be in tuned with your thoughts, emotions as you inhale and exhale.   If you find yourself wandering, gently bring it back to counting back to where you left off.   When you are up to 10, pick up your pen and write for five minutes non stop.  

Happy Journaling!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Aleph

Every now and then a book comes along your way and leaves a lasting impression. I am not an avid reader, but I try to make time to read because it is one of those good nourishing items to feed the soul. Books can be of all different kinds, and not every book you read has to be inspirational, or uplifting. Sometimes a book just gives you a good laugh, whereas other times, it gets you into another world that beyond reality, and then there are those that leave you warm and fuzzy. I also believe that books that come across your path regardless of their content come to you at the right time in your life. It’s exactly what you needed at that moment. For me it was Paulo Coelho’s book Aleph.


His first book was The Alchemist which I loved. And I will admit that when I started to follow his books, I found the same theme over and over again – so I let him go for a while. It was always the same message of self-discovery, following your path, living your dreams, etc. But someone recommended Aleph to me, and I said, ok, let me read it.



It was exactly what I needed. It is books that just like The Alchemist, no matter how many times I read it; I will always learn something new from it. What fascinated more about this book – it was a biographical account of his life till today but done in a fictional way. I love traveling and I liked the idea of reading someone elses’ perspective on their travels – and more specifically making their travel journeys meaningful and purposeful – being open to new experiences on their travels regardless of how mundane it may be. Our travels could be our job – traveling for work can get burdensome and exhausting and can take a toll on us – and the character in this book experiences some of those sentiments. Seeing how he overcomes it, and makes meaning of his travels resonated with me.



Aleph is the first word in the Hebrew Alphabet. It has many meanings – symbolically- ranging from Oneness in Unity to the link between the Inner and Outer Realm of God to signifying strength, the leader. (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Aleph/aleph.html)

So getting into this book I was a little apprehensive because I did not know what to expect – whether it would be a lesson on theology, on Judaism, etc. But it was the opposite. It was his spiritual journey. So many of us at times feel stagnant on our spiritual path, and we need a boost, we need something that can help us get unstuck. In this book, he writes in the first person about him being a famous writer, and feel that stuckness. And he turns to “J” his mentor, for guidance. In doing that, he comes across an article about the Chinese Bamboo. The concept that such a tiny green shoot could shoot up in five years into such a giant thing is the catalyst that gets him moving on his journey. And he decides to take a journey on the Trans-Siberian railroad, and unexpectedly a woman named Hilal tells him that she is there to accompany him on this journey.



For me, it represented the journey of one man’s quest for inner peace – and his metamorphosis. It was about undoing the past, understanding one’s past in order to make peace with the present. It was about learning to be in the present despite all our insecurities, emotions, paranoia, vices, gifts, talents. It was a journey in forgiveness, in love, and being unafraid of confronting the challenges in life. One can’t know God in isolation – or understand God’s wisdom/love. The only way one can begin to understand God is by actively being in the present with our relationships and our lives. And in order to be actively present, one needs to come to terms with the past – not live in the past, but accept it and move on. This quote stood out to me:

“We can never wound the soul, just as we can never wound, God, but we can become imprisoned by our memories, and that makes our lives wretched even when we have everything we need in order to be happy. If only we could be entirely here, as if we had just woken up on planet Earth and found ourselves inside a golden temple, but can’t.”

This is a great link to another person’s understanding of The Aleph. http://www.giveliveexplore.com/2012/10/02/influential-books-aleph-by-paulo-coelho/





He ends the book with this quote: “Only two things can reveal life’s greatest secrets: Suffering and Love.” I ask you to do a journaling prompt with this quote and see what comes up. What has suffering taught me about myself? What has love given me? Where would I be without the two?



Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Friendships

As my son enters the world of friendships, thoughts that come to my mind are about the strong friendships that we form as children and how they help shape and influence who we are.   I may be an overbearing mother at times -perhaps sometimes controlling needing to know exactly what is going on in my son's life and who his friends are and what kinds of things they do - but I rationalize it because he is at such an impressionable age that at any point, he can go in an opposite direction.   He started summer camp on monday and this was a camp where he did not know any of the children, so we have been having alot of discussions about making friends, how to make friends, what kinds of questions to aks, what is appropriate vs. inappropriate.   This is a camp where there are alot of older kids, and with my son in particular, he is attracted to older children, so i have to be extra careful because he begins to think he is 10 or 11.  
At age 6, the whole world is all about him - and i have to keep him in check so that he learns to share a part of him self with other children - meaning that forming friendships is a two way process, and it is not always one sided.   This being said, there is discussion about the qualities of good friends and him knowing that in order for him to have good friends, he must be a good friend. 

Speaking about friendships, i began to reflect on my friendships - and how central they have been into  making me blossom into my being.  A friend is someone that can look at you and know exactly what you may be thinking and words are not needed.   A friend is someone who can complete another person's sentences.  A friend can be the total opposite of you, but still because there is a connection, you are friends.  
When I talk about friendships, I am not talking about acquaintances.   Friend is a relative term - we can technically be friends with everyone - because we smile, like to get to know people, have fun, etc.   But I am talking about true friendships - that are diffiult to find.  I think when you have found it, it is very important to cherish it.    And as I get older, I find that I treasure and value more of those kind of connections- than just superficial talk.

 A friend on many level is a form of soulmate - but in  a different sense of the world - people usually associate soulmates with lover/spartners - but I have found that we can have various soulmates - and friends come to us in that form too.   Often times, people that we are friends with - may fade away -or the friendship may fade away either because of a life change, a move to another town, a death, etc.   But that doesn't mean the friendship has ended - it's just not physically present like how we would like it to, so we often mistake it for it either ending/fading etc.   But if you were to meet the same person after many years or even months, think about the connection that you continue to have and how time nor distance doesn't really change that aspect of yourself.    Losing a friendship can be very devastating and the reason i write about it is because friends are almost mirror images of ourselves in different forms - and when we lose that part of our friend, we feel that we have lost a piece of us.   In times like that, it is so important to process that loss - individually or with your friend.  Although I'm a big champion of writing - i also believe in the power of talking and that is what friendships do for us - when you are able to have a conversation with someone that really understands you but can also tell you the truth, there is something amazing about that!
Which leads me to another thought - A quote that I read the other day was " Each person that comes into your life has a meaning and purpose.  If they are not in your life anymore, reflect on the teaching you received from them, and move on forward."  Although I always strive to live by that ideal - it struck me more in the context of friendships.  For me, this made me look at friendships on many levels - the various types of friends that we can have - we can have childhood friends, college friends, work friends, neighborhood friends - all of these each of them are in our lives for a reason - if we approach each of these categories in that way - think about our openness and newness to this.  Think about how alive we would feel, think about how free we would feel - just like a child - and reading that - it hit me regarding my son- he is approaching each situation with newness - with innocence and is like a beginner.   But he is also growing because of the people in his lives, and So too with friendships, I realized that our circles - immediate or distant serve a valid purpose and a higher purpose - all taking us to the next phase in our lives - whenever that is.   

A Journal Prompt for you: (write this for five minutes)
The Friendships in my life have been ____________________________
My friend (Name the person) has ______________

Another Journal Prompt:
Write a letter to a friend - it could be someone you see everyday, it could be someone you haven't seen in ages, it could be someone who is deceased, but is still your friend.  

Happy Journaling!