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Friday, August 30, 2013

Heart & Mind -Breaking our shells!

Human beings bear a shell around themselves to protect them from being vulnerable.  That shell can take many forms.  It can be a shell of numbness - where nothing affects you or u become indifferent to things.  It can be a shell where you become as rough and tough like a stone and take on the world.  It can be a total cut off from the heart and everything that occurs to you is intellectualized/rationalized.   So often we need this shell to protect us from our fragile self that we are so afraid to show to the outside world - especially those that are close to us.   We fear that if that self is revealed, we won't have a container to hold up all the emotions, all the feelings and the many ramifications that come with that.  So we go on and on and continue to build on that shell - others have a different name for it- they call it layers - there are so many layers to us that if we were to look at ourselves in the mirror, sometimes we would not recognize us.  We would wander - who is that person? Where has the real me gone?  where do these layers come from? they come from major experiences that often occur during our early years that automatically cause us to shut down or fight - and because of that we learn to form coping mechanisms  and defenses to deal with our trauma.   And then they continue to build and build and build - until we create a wall around us.   In order for us to function effectively in life the head and the heart needs to be connected - So many of us are so afraid to show our hearts -and because of that our head gets us into trouble and is often the cause of us repeating patterns

There comes a point in one's life where one is forced to look at the real me - for better or for worse - i always like to look at it for better - because i am all about self-improvement.  It is often a painful situation when we have to look at ourselves and question our motives and reaction to things.   How does one do that without breaking down? It is so important to have the right kind of support - professionally or spiritually in order to that.   daring to look at ourselves in the mirror requires a certain amount of courage.  It is like fear staring us in the face and when we are aware of what that fear it, our process of facing it changes radically.   Therefore awareness is so important.  Being aware of your emotions, being aware of your thought process, being aware of your behavior so that you can face fear in the face, face yourself courageously.   I have found that certain experiences happen to us to awaken that piece of us that we often push away.   If we continue to ignore the signs, patterns in life will repeat itself so that we can begin to make changes.   When a major event is pushed in front of us - such as a career change, a loss of a friend, a diagnosis of a major illness, a life change, a death - we have two choices - to push it behind us and just roll with the punches - or make the initiative to face it in the face - it is not the outcome that is important -it is more the attitude and the way one approaches it in order to deal with the outcome.  

Writing out these experiences and the process helps you connect with your heart again- by beginning to get reconnected with your heart-it takes you back to your real self -and helps you begin a sense of centering within and helps to face challenges in life.

I found this beautiful poem by Charlie Chaplin on this link: www.theheartofawakening.com


As I Began To Love Myself By Charlie Chaplin
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.  Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.  Today I call it “RESPECT”.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.  Today I call it “MATURITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment.  So I could be calm.  Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.  Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.  Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself.  At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.  Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time.  Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future.  Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening.  Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick.  But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.  Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!


Happy Journaling!



Friday, August 16, 2013

Intuition!

There is something about giving voice to that sixth sense in you - that small still voice that is most often heard when we allow the mind to quieten.   Sometimes intuition is not only that small still voice, it could be your body talking to you - urging you to look inside or pay attention to something - or warn you about something. 

How do you develop that intution? Or more rather, how does one learn to pay attention to that small still voice.  The mind is continously chattering and to get to that point when we know it is our gut feeling or our inutition talking to us it takes practice, it takes skill, it takes special attention.   I read an article once that gave some practical tips, and I would like to list them - I have found them to be quite helpful for me in learning to listen to what I would like to call my "higher self."   

1.  keep a notebook - and list five different random events that may have felt like intution -i really think that often we overlook the body's response to intuition - and it is important to pay attention to that.  For example - did u feel a knot in your tummy/or goosebumps/ or your heart began to stir - kind of like an opening and softening of your heart.  List them and pay attention to them.   By writing those down - you can begin to pay more attention between the difference when it is your mind versus your sixth sense.  

2.  Sitting in silence for some time and asking yourself the question "What is it that I am not seeing here? And what is it that I need to more clearly?  Allow yourself to write that for some time and see what comes up.

3.  I often find that if you are not good with words, drawing or collaging can help with intuition - the words cannot always give reason to something and words sometimes may not be enough - that's when art can assist. 

We tend to ignore that small voice often second-guessing it, or undermining it - but if we begin to pay more attention to our intution, it will help in reaffirming our worth - and loving ourselves more.  

Happy Journaling!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mindfulness

In the last three weeks, the words mindfulness and meditation keep passing me by and they have happened in different ways.  First, my sister gives me a book she recently finished called "The One who is not busy - Connecting with work in a Deeply Satisfying Way- by Darlene Cohen.  For those of us that are on the go - there is an art of being busy - how can one be busy while still practicing total presence of mind in the actual act that is being performed.  And what are the benefits? Why even read something like this?  So that you don't feel drained and make the most of the busyness in your life.   We all have 1001 things to do and our minds and hands are always multi-tasking.  Sometimes we wonder if this will end.  Yet what this book taught me was making the most of the busyness we have in our life and reminding ourselves that one way of preventing burnout is by being fully present.   Some people call this meditation - I call it present, mindfulness in waking state.   It is practice, practice, practice.  yet when done over and over again, it does wonders to us - our energy fllow is more in balance -
Ms. Cohen in her book offers various forms of meditative practices that can encourage being present.   What does being present mean? - the act of being fully immersed in thought, body and mind where you are.  It goes into eating meditation - that means, being conscious of what goes into your mouth - and not eating mindlessly.  It means focusing on the breath if you need to center.  It means when you are engaged in a conversation with someone - really listening, actively listening.   There is one meditative practice that she particulalry describes which i find useful - Talking meditation - where when you are engaged in a conversation with someone tuning into your own breath at least three times while listening to the other person speak and while you yourself are talking.   This practice requires a lot of patience with yourself and non-judgement.   

So while reading this, i also co-incidently happen to be taking a course on journaling and meditation - which I had forgotten that i had signed up for.   The book that we are reading is by Jon Kabat -Zinn - Whereever you go, there you are.   Again - the topic of Mindfulness mediation in everyday life.   But he takes it one step deeper - describing the purpose and benefits of mindfulness - the purpose - is to learn to live in harmony with oneself and the world.  But if we dig deeper, it is about questioning our world view, our place in it and cultivating appreciation for each moment we are alive.   it has to do with being in touch and aware.  He gives the example if any of you have read - Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond - where he literally had to take himself out of society to appreciate the beauty of the present moment.  But Jon Kabat- Zinn states that removing yourself from society is not needed - the beauty that Thoreau felt at Walden Pond is all
"within your breath." By focusing your energy/attention on your breath - it reminds you of the present moment and allows you to look at the situation for now - rather than for tomorrow or rather than for yesterday.   The breath is another word for awareness.

Think of a time when you felt truly present - and it could be a concert you were at - and u were so immersed in the music that you were truly there.  or it could be reading a book where u were so in the book. or it could be in an exercise class/or when you are running.  Whatever it is - think about what being present at that moment did to you - how did that make you feel after the experience?

He refers to meditation of "non-doing".  Most people think that meditation means literally not doing anything.  But in fact it is the contrary.  He states "Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way."   It requires patience on one's part - "scratch the surface of impatience and you will find lying beneath it is subtly or not so subtly, anger.  It is the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are blaming someone  (often yourself) or something for it."  The most profound example he gives is a quote by the Dalai Lama when asked about his feelings towards the Chinese -in light of the genocide towards Tibetans - and he responds.  "They have taken everything from us; should i let them take my mind as well."  

What a simple statement yet so profound - and that is mindfulness - being aware of our feelings- that yes anger will arise, sadness will stay, grief will be there - happiness will flourish - but all of this is kept in a large bowl - one by one we drop it into the bowl and let it just be there - be observant of that, but come back to the present.    He gives an analogy of a Mountain - and how talk the mountain is - and imagining ourselves tall and dignified like the mountain - the wind will come, rain will come, snow will come, the sun will shine - all of these will pass and land on the mountain - and the mountain is still there - standing tall in its glorious self - that is what mindfulness is - that all the seasons will pass through - all the events will come and go - and we experience it, but do not let it take our soul away from it. 

Journaling Prompt:
Try doing a meditative practice - focusing on your breath for at least five minutes - inhale and exhale - allow the focus to be on your breath - and as your thoughts come, simply direct them to your breath.   Now with the following Journaling Prompt write for five minutes:
"Who am I when I am not doing."

Happy Journaling!