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Posts Tagged ‘loving kindness’

I’ve been avoiding, again.  It’s this thing I do, when I don’t want to feel…uncomfortable. As humans, we are almost conditioned to not feel any kind of pain, to avoid it at all costs.  When life gets difficult – loss, sadness, change – the mind wants to run.  And so we begin to think about what’s for dinner or whether your friend was right when she was honest about that guy or if you should have tried harder with your ex and if you need new shoes for that party this weekend and if you spent too much money and what’s for dinner again…  Anything then to just be with whatever uncomfortableness is coming up.

I need to change some old habits that no longer serve me, but old fears creep in as I try to do so, old thoughts – I’m not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, worthy or deserving.  Somewhere along the way, I heard this message through something that was said or told to me or maybe just something that I inferred from a comment.  But now here I am thinking it’s the word of God – “I suck”.  And so, the habit is caught up in a mind game and can’t be broken.  But nothing is unbreakable (well, maybe steel?) and impermanence is key – nothing last forever.

So how do I break the habit and change the pattern?  Ready for it?

STAY.

When that moment comes and things start to get uncomfortable, and the feelings arise and I want to run and my mind is screaming, SCREAMING at me to walk away, turn on the boob tube or crawl into bed, I need to STAY put.  Be in the murkiness and icky feelings, with as much love and kindness and compassion towards myself as I can.  As the Venerable Robina Courtin says, “You have to get your hands in your own shit.”  We must get comfortable with the uncomfortable, whatever it is.  But this takes great courage or just the simple desire to change.  Practice helps.  Practice in skills that require us to stay with the uncomfortableness, like yoga and meditation and tai chi or any kind of meditative practice that require one to work with the mind.  And great compassion, greater than you’ve ever had for yourself, because great change requires a loving hand to really last or the fear of God – but that’s just a different storyline.

The other thing to remember?  That I won’t explode from the pain of it, my mind may expand, tears may fall from my eyes, I may be moved to express the uncomfortableness through writing or art, but I will NOT explode, at least literally.

Anyway, a little expansion and clear out could do me some good…

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Flying to get unstuck

Sometimes, it feels like the best we can do is just get by.  As if just making it through the day is all we can do.   Then it becomes a trap, with the mind on a loop tape playing out all the faults, mistakes, and tragedies of our lives at once.  The trick is not getting attached to what we think we should be doing, or who we think we should be at this point in our lives, or how we got there but (the real kicker), why we are such a mess in the first place.

So, how does one get out of this place of staleness; hitting stop on the tape loop in our head? How do we get unstuck?

Well, for starters, it helps to recognize that you’re doing the best you can. Honestly though, sometimes this works and sometimes, it sounds like canned new age advice.  That’s the thing though, what works one time, doesn’t the next.  But, loving kindness, accepting oneself, warts and all, is everyday wisdom that when put into action can change everything – truly.  I’ve had moments of loving kindness, when for whatever reason in that moment, I was able to accept myself, without judgment, pity, anger or resentment for whoever I was in the ‘now’ of that moment. And it was liberating, freeing… opening.

Sometimes, the change comes not from a mental place, but a physical one.  Last week in yoga class, the teacher had us doing shoulder work throughout the class and in one pose near the end, we leaned forward in parsvottanasana or side stretch. (Visual link without arms, here.)  With a flat back, we strapped our upper arms behind our backs, palms facing.  Kind of like Superman, but hands behind the back instead of the side.  I leaned over half way, bringing awareness to my pose – not locking the knees, bringing my hips together, using my core for strength and strapped my arms.  I went to a ninety degree pose and all of sudden, my shoulders went “up” my back!  Technically, I think they lifted off my shoulders but I felt liberated, open, as if my whole chest was in alignment allowing me to take my first, full deep breath.  It was a huge opening, as if I could breathe – my neck was free, and all of my sudden, my spine felt an extra three feet long.  I was tall and long and lean and open, really open.  For someone with tight shoulders and a lot of time spent hunched over a desk,  it was such an amazing feeling, I felt as if I could lift off and fly.

Those moments in yoga, when a subtle adjustment in a pose or the use of a prop to get into a new place or a teacher’s instruction that finally clicks in the mind, is like life, when everything comes together for a moment and it all makes sense.  Loving kindness to the body, mental acceptance of where the body is at, a willingness to see beyond the physical limitations, to try something new without judgment, and no matter what happens, to be kind to ourselves even when we fall.  Because falling is alright, falling is just another way of getting unstuck, again.

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Maitri -a Sanskrit word meaning loving-kindness toward all beings or further defined as “unlimited friendliness toward ourselves”.

In choosing a user name for writing, I came upon this word in Pema Chodron’s new book, “Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears”, and thought it was the most appropriate term in setting the tone for what I wanted to say and how I wanted to represent myself.  This Blog is about delving deeper, finding the essence of who I am or how at least how to get back there.  I’ve seen that higher self- although calling it “higher” comes across as superior or greater than.  In reality, that sense of self, (the one I acknowledge I already am on some level) carries with it a sense of lightness, sweetness, beyond the dreariness of daily life.  And yet, it is that precise heaviness that often comes with living, that becomes the counterpoint for my wanting, sensing the lighter side of life.

The reality though is that I am so concerned with coming off as together and even keeled that I can’t get more than a paragraph out.  The reality is that I feel like a constant failure on so many levels that it feels like it would take many pages to break them down.  How is it that after everything I’ve been through I actually feel like a failure?  Why not instead of listing my failures, list my success instead?  Why is it so much easier to be down and dark on myself that to find the light of what is?  And how come if I know “better” I can’t be better??  If I’ve seen the light, seen the person that I want to be, nay, already am (for then how could I have seen it?), am I back in this dark state of despair and avoidance?  What could be so painful as to block out all the goodness so all I see is loneliness, isolation and pain?  And moreover, how the hell do I get out of, this Hell?  Stay tuned…

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In case anyone’s interested, the Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron explains maitri

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