Posts Tagged ‘meditation’
The quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” is often attributed to Einstein, Franklin, or Twain, but none of them seem to be the originator of the pithy phrase. Regardless of who said it, it’s running through my head quite a bit because I once again spent a pain-filled week on the floor. Yup, my back went out AGAIN. This time in the middle of the mundane act of putting on a pair of cute lace-up boots … an act that is apparently much more dangerous than I ever thought it could be.
I’ll admit it; I didn’t handle it well. First, because it really, really hurt … A LOT. And then secondly, because I dove headlong into the pit of despair and took frustration, disbelief, and self-pity along with me. All I could think through the tears was, “Why me? Why again?! What did I do wrong?” which, of course, is never helpful AND it’s looking at the situation from a really destructive viewpoint—as if making any mistakes in life makes you deserving of pain and suffering. That’s just complete and utter bullshit, to put it bluntly. Thank the Gods that I have such a loving, caring, and supportive partner in Mike and have a few amazing friends who can help ground me when I’m spinning my way into a spectacular pity party.
It became clear (with their help) that I need to focus on the positive and to recognize that for whatever reason, this seems to be part of my process in transforming my life and transitioning into a period of greater expansion and growth. Would I like this process to be less physically painful? Oh YEAH. (I’ve entered into negotiations with The Universe for just that.) And this is where the quote comes in.
What do I have to do that’s different than what I’ve been doing? What isn’t working? Or what is it that’s getting in my way? Part of the problem, I think, is my tendency to only focus on my lack, or what’s wrong in my life. I’ve got a LONG habit of doing that … I am my worst critic. Much better if I look and acknowledge all the many things that I’m doing that are RIGHT for me RIGHT NOW. For instance, I’ve got my business and marketing plans and I’m doing the tasks necessary. When I’m not lying on the floor alternating between icing and heating my back, I’m steadily adding in the physical activities to help regain strength, flexibility, and endurance. I’m eating the way that seems to nurture my body best. I’m learning to ask for help—and be open to receiving it. I am dancing with patience in a way I never have—but then I really have no choice. It’s find patience or spend every minute of dealing with my back cursing and beating my head against the proverbial wall. And that doesn’t seem like a smart plan. Why add more pain?
I also have to realize that I don’t have all the answers right now and I don’t have to. All I really have to do is listen to my inner voice and pay attention—it’s never lied to me. I need to believe that I can manifest what it is I’m working toward. Decisions need to be made based on how both my mind AND my heart feel around any choice. I’m the one who decides how my life and world unfold. My mind set is key to how I perceive my life. I can view it from a place of darkness and suffering or I can view every moment as an opportunity to give and receive compassion, kindness, and love, as well as an opportunity for learning and growth.
As I write this blog post (on the floor with the laptop propped on a pillow on my belly), I don’t know yet exactly what I need to do differently. I clearly need some meditation/contemplation time to try and figure that out. There’s always a solution, but one must understand the problem first … I’ll figure out what’s blocking my progress in time. I’ve worked with chiropractic, massage, and physical therapy, but another type of bodywork and/or energy work will likely prove helpful, along with some serious self-contemplation time. In the meantime, it seems like I must actively work on cultivating patience, self-compassion, and self-care … all things with which I struggle. So, I guess you could say that if I manage those things, I’m doing something pretty different. But, I’m willing to give it a go as I’m not fond of the idea of fitting the aforementioned definition of insanity. *Deep breath* Let’s see how it goes.
I’m hitting the end of week 6 of my meditation study and I think I’m finally experiencing a bit of traction in my practice. (I was so excited about the meditation techniques we learned, I haven’t been tempted to skip at all!) This past week’s class taught us a variety of new meditations, or rather, new anchors on which to focus since the objective is the same with all the meditations—calm the mind and train it to not be so reactive to thoughts, emotions, and situations. We’re being taught so many different paths/techniques because everyone will “click” with something different and the point is to walk away with something we want to continue for the rest of our lives.
This week, among other meditations, we learned a couple heart- and mantra-based meditations (Karuna and Metta). These have proven profound. I’ve worked many times with Metta before and I always love returning to it. It allows such a softening of the heart toward oneself and others. (And worthy of its own blog post so that’s all I say about it for now!) But it was the Karuna practice that surprised me. Karuna is self-compassion, cultivating a tenderness with the intention to heal suffering. We were given a few suggested phrases with which to work (but you could create your own if you resonate with something else):
I allow myself to be imperfect.
I allow myself to make mistakes.
I allow myself to be a learner in life.
I forgive myself.
May I be free from suffering.
Similar to Metta, the idea is to work with yourself first, cultivating self-compassion because otherwise, we just fall back into the all-too-prevalent pattern of always giving until we’re depleted and there’s nothing left to give. Instead, this works to shore you up, create an inner strength based on compassion before sending compassion out to others. When you’re ready, you turn the phrases toward those who might be challenging to you.
These simple phrases can have profound results. We all joke these days about being our own worst critics, but it’s really not funny because it’s TRUE. So many of us mentally and emotionally beat ourselves up all the time over the smallest things, and in turn, we start to judge others the same way creating tension, stress, disconnection, and suffering—and I’m no exception. (Catch me while driving the car sometimes … I’m not thinking nice thoughts!)
To give oneself permission to be imperfect, to make mistakes, to be human is powerful. Forgiving ourselves can become one of the most important things we ever do. Because if we do, then we give ourselves permission to be authentic, to expressly be who we truly are … the masks come off, and the chains that bind us begin to unwind. We can begin to feel, to be vulnerable, to be present to life and to those in our lives. The reality is life is messy and imperfect and when we try to pretend otherwise, it usually hurts.
When I started the Karuna practice, repeating the self-compassion phrases felt like having my Mother rub my back when I was ill as a child; it was lovely and comforting, and I did so for quite a bit of time. I then decided to try focusing those compassion phrases on a few others in my life and it was like a dam finally being broken—it provided such a release of old hurts that I found myself sobbing while a well of love was opening up in my heart. The combined forces of compassion and forgiveness gave me a gift I couldn’t have anticipated.
I will keep working with both Karuna and Metta because these meditations will help me remember one doesn’t grow and learn when everything is perfect. The lessons and growth come from mistakes, from picking oneself up off the ground, brushing off the muck, bandaging up the wounds, and then figuring out how to keep on going in a way that better serves. If we’re present and willing to show ourselves compassion, then we’re not as likely to make the same mistakes. Instead, we grow and move forward.
How much better would our lives be if we could regularly view ourselves and others through the window of compassion? How much easier to learn those lessons without the internal resistance and berating of ourselves? How much more rich could our lives be? How much more authentic? How much more loving?
Have you practiced a heart-based meditation? What was your experience?
“I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.” ~Walt Whitman
So, you think you’re the only one who struggles with meditation? Trust me, you’re not! And to help reassure you of that fact, I thought I’d share a typical meditation moment. The one that occurs after I’ve dimmed the lights, shut off the computer, turned off the phone ringer (I use the Zen Timer on my phone to time my meditation), arranged my meditation cushions, settled in, closed my eyes and started to focus inward seeking the peace, quiet and serenity, only to find the reality of practice.
Inhale. Exhale. Oh, I must shift, I’m not comfortable, I’ll never be able to sit for 30 minutes. Ok. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale … Are my sit bones even? Focus! Back to the breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Did I remember to put bread on the grocery list? Iggy’s bread would be good, wonder if there’ll be any left? Darn it! Focus! Inhale. Exhale. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m a fairly recent convert to the world of smart phones. I acquired an Android this past year and for the most part, have managed to use only a very small fraction of it’s capabilities. I’m getting better, but I find that taking the time to learn HOW to do this or that is somewhat overwhelming. BUT, I have found an app that is actually a very handy tool for a practicing Yogini — The Zen Timer! Read the rest of this entry »
Well, I just learned (again) what happens when one gets ‘caught up’ and doesn’t pay attention and the teachers were yoga and hiking. The other night, craving BOTH Yoga and hiking (good thing I’m Hiking Yogini, right? ;)) I grabbed my mat and water bottle for a quick ramble in Lincoln Woods, happy that I had easily an hour before I’d have to leave the park (which closes at dusk.) Read the rest of this entry »
Yup, the dentist chair! I had my six month cleaning last night and was not looking forward to the appointment. Now, mind you, I really like my dentist and staff (Dr. Hoang at Unique Dental in Attleboro, MA) — probably the least painful dental experiences I’ve had in years. However, I’m quite sensitive to sound and I’ve never really gotten past the sound — or feeling — the instruments make when in contact with my teeth. *Shudder* BUT, taking care of my teeth is just as important as taking care of the rest of me which meant I needed to calm down and somehow convince my shoulder and neck muscles that their location up by my ears wasn’t actually helpful. So, as I sat in the chair prepared to endure the cleaning, it occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to apply some yogic breathing and meditation. Read the rest of this entry »
It happens. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those moments when we intellectually (and probably emotionally, too) know that the best and most nurturing thing we can do for ourselves is to unroll the mat, move through some Asana and meditation to deal with whatever emotional crisis is sweeping through our worlds, yet we don’t. Instead, we pick up the phone, order some Chinese takeout and proceed to eat said takeout accompanied by a cocktail/beer/wine and watch something inane — or wonderful — from Netflix or your favorite cable station. Read the rest of this entry »
The Guest House — Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
I find Rumi, at this moment, both beautiful and *incredibly* difficult. My human house is overflowing today with all sorts of uncomfortable visitors — self-recrimination, feelings of discontent, restlessness, disconnection, anxiety, fear, joy, love … well, you get the idea. Read the rest of this entry »