July 31, 2015

Slow the Pace


As you view this post, you might have an uneasy feeling, a thought in the back of your mind: I have a lot to do; will this take long to read? These nagging thoughts can plague us on the busyness treadmill, where everything feels urgent.

I know that urgent feeling. It can happen as I prepare a mindfulness class. It can happen when I take a photograph. It can happen in my meditation. It can even occur when my schedule is open and free. 

On Tuesday I wrote these words on a piece of paper: slow the pace. This resonated with my whole being. I'm tired of the striving and judging--old habits that sneak in when I'm not looking; when I don't fully see my life. Instead of striving, I want to slow down and be patient: while in the car, I slow my speed; while walking, I notice sounds around me; when washing my hands, I take my time; as I write this, I deepen my breath. Each of these reconnects me with myself and the present moment--reconnects me with gentleness. When I rush, I tend to judge. When I rush, compassion is hard to reach. But when I physically slow the pace, I'm gentler with myself and others. In this way, the quality of my work improves, because I work from a place of love.
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July 27, 2015

Working with Difficult Emotions


It's human nature to resist pain. Evolution trained us to push away the difficult, to just survive. These habits are well-grooved, but they're no longer necessary. And they block true healing. As Carl Jung concisely stated, "What you resist, persists." 

When I resist pain, I only create more pain. If I resist my grief, anxiety, shame, or fear, I strengthen the hurt not the healing. But when I make space for difficult emotions--when I invite them in and look more closely--there's a release. It's counter-intuitive, but it works every time. After years of practice, I have a new relationship with fear. It's no longer a scary monster in the corner. Now it's a known companion. It's a signal: look inward and be gentle.


Michele McDonald created an acronym for this process: RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Non-identify). First we must recognize our situation--what is my direct experience in this moment? Exactly how do I feel uneasy? (This takes time and inner-reflection.) The second step is a big leap: allow for the feeling; allow for the experience, as is. Here, we release our grip and let the feeling flow. (This can be done in small, safe ways; it's a gradual process.) Investigation is the third step. Once we allow for the emotion, we bring curiosity--not in a heady way, but in an embodied way. How does this emotion pulse in my body? What are the sensations and how do they change? (This investigation is worthy of a lifetime.) The last step is resting in awareness, in presence. Our emotions don't define us. If we allow for difficult feelings, eventually they morph and settle, and we sit in a centered place.

This path is both brave and beautiful. It takes strength and kindness. If you'd like to try, I'll be your guide:

July 22, 2015

Hug Someone


Connection is a basic human need. We long to belong. And though social media connects us across oceans, it can disconnect us from those in our own home; it can disconnect us from our own heart. The Internet makes communication easy, but doesn’t encourage deep listening. It’s a fuzzy line between actual connection and mindless surfing. Handheld devices make the line even fuzzier. Some questions to guide us: Are we really present with the people right in front of us? Are we really present with ourselves? These connections must be cultivated.

I encourage you to get offline and make an in-person connection. Listen to someone’s story. Look people in the eye. Share a hard truth. Sit in quiet reflection. And, if it feels comfortable, hug someone. Hug a friend. Hug yourself. Hug your pet. Hug your loved ones, even if you’re not the hugging type. Hugs connect us heart to heart. They fill a basic, beautiful human need.
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