Meditation retreat reflections

Buddha

If you tire of the struggle,

love your life.

Vulnerability is next to godliness.

Mary taught me to let the soft animal of my body

love what it loves.

Let go of the purity path.

Rest in divine love

rather than circumstantial love.

Bring breath to the cells;

train in a new way of being.

bodhisattva spring
i sat on top of you, when i moved, you bloomed

Embody the insight:

Let Love Rule.

Trying to get rid of unwanted thoughts,

makes them want to hang around,

to see what they will miss.

Rejecting states of mind,

solidifies right and wrong,

strengthens isolation, and

feeds the illusion.

Rejoice, good sangha-

rejoice.

The mountain sings

praises to the flowing river.

For the steadfast stones,

the drifting branches,

the swimming salmon.

Surviving.

Writhing.

Thriving.

 

I pulled this one from the drafts page of my blog. This statue was in my front yard in Washington. I moved her and the flowers bloomed. I miss Washington where we had salmon in the creeks and trumpeter swans in the sky. Aloha Finnriver Farm. We hosted weekly meditations in our living room. Walking meditation on the land. We invited meditation to quell our insecurities as young parents and global stewards. Center Valley Sangha, Crystie Kisler, Finnriver Farm, mahalo nui loa.

Be the Change You Want

Being the Miracle You Are

What is the change you want in your relationships? Take ownership for your part in the nightmare. Empower yourself to be the change you want (in your relationships, in the world). Less bickering? Stop your bickering.

More sex? Make yourself approachable and slink into the sexy neighborhood in your mind. Turn towards your beloved more often than you turn away.

Less negativity? Find what’s working in your life and set up camp there. Perhaps only daring into the dark woods of dangerous debate when you are finding the common purpose; the pure intention driving you.

This brings me to the point. Find purpose. Live with intention.

Be the change you want to see in your relationships

This year for Halloween I dressed up as a miracle. An angel dress, sparkly make-up, and an inner glow lit me up on the dark night of disguises. Too tuckered to be creative, I relaxed into the easy costume selection. Be myself. A sober woman of integrity. It is a true miracle that I am 30 years practicing yoga, 24 years sober, and 16 years married. I am grateful beyond measure. It’s miraculous when I look at where I’ve been and where I am now.

As I’m typing this I’m barking at my son for not putting the dishes away sooner. I paused and re-read the top line, apologized for my bickering, and repaired the rupture quickly. Another miracle. I don’t linger in resentments toward self or others.

Want to know a quick trick to get clear what you’re really taking a stand for in your life?

What costume you put on in the morning?

In an interview this week, I heard the brilliant prompt: if you woke up tomorrow and everything you’ve ever done or said or written were somehow wiped clean, what would you write down as your three truths?

Here’s what I came up with immediately:

  1. Heal addictions that rob your soul of the beauty of the present moment.
  2. Heal relationships with Self, Other, Spirit — this is the S.O.S. of our times.
  3. Contemplate grace daily, for me, this is spending time outdoors in yoga and meditation.

Comment below and share your 3 truths. What we share gains strength and sustenance. Mahalo.

Reactivity Lessens in Three Simple Steps

reactivity & ownership of your part

Reactivity happens when you don’t have conscious connection to the present moment. Next thing you know you are hijacked by negativity. But you hate the hate. You can’t stand the familiar core scene of negativity that creeps up on a regular basis. It is a noxious weed that you try to pull out and it grows back with greater strength and annoying characteristics.

Sound familiar?

You are not alone

I hear from so many people that they want less criticism, less reactivity, less negativity in their interactions with others, particularly their significant others.

Let me tell you, it’s entirely possible to enjoy less strife in your life! Seriously. Here’s the secret, if you get big in your reactions, contain yourself. If you get small in your reactions, expand yourself.

In other words, do the opposite of what you usually might do when you feel triggered. You gotta have awareness of what you normally do in order to do it differently. Trust yourself that you can handle life’s stressful moments differently.

Three simple steps

  1. Take a breath. Pause before reacting.
  2. Imagine what it is your partner truly needs in this moment.
  3. Notice: do you need to contain or expand to add to the safety of the exchange.

Invite curiosity now–Leave shame, blame, and criticism in the closet–Permanently

Here’s a visual that helps many people, myself included, understand their reactivity patterns, their habits.

Turtles: minimize their energy, they pull in to protect, it looks like shutting down but it is really self-preservation. Partners who see this, do whatever you can to create safety for your turtle. Speak less, speak more quietly, offer a loving gesture. If you get bigger, he will shutdown. Own your part in this exchange.

Hailstorms: maximize their energy, they push out to understand, to project their discomfort out of themselves in the spirit of trying to connect. Partners who see this, do whatever you can to mirror, validate and empathize with your hailstorm. If you shut down, she will get bigger. Be curious of how to respond.

Get curious and take ownership for your part in the nightmare

Do what you can to promote safety. From safety comes core connection. From core connection comes greater intimacy, positivity, and a sense of deep love and belonging.

 

Analysis Paralysis Cure

sunrise

Analysis Paralysis happens to all of us. We want to make the right decision to ensure the best possible outcome. Too many choices comprise the day. Big decisions, little decisions, all day long. Even what to watch on Netflix can be a big deal. And mustard? Forget about it… there are so many choices, stone-ground, dijon, yellow, pale ale, horseradish, and so on, my goodness, sometimes you just want mustard. Complaining about too many choices is a modern problem with an ancient solution.

People tell us to relieve stress we need to relax and take it easy. This is a great over-arching idea of life. But really, ask yourself, How do you do that?

Here’s how. You relax and take it easy in decision making; in the little things that comprise the furniture of our lives. Break free from overstimulated mental activity which gets you nowhere fast (analysis paralysis) and to taking one step in any direction.

Take a deep breath

Take a deep breath. And a longer exhale. Again. Do it 7 times. Then decide. Either way, decide, and carry on with your life.

The cure is the breath. The release comes from within you. Enjoy the liberation from analysis paralysis.

No right or wrong decision

What if you imagine there really is no right or wrong choice? Seriously. Feel that deep in your bones for a few moments. You are cutting yourself the ultimate slack.

Allow space for grace to enter and work in a way that is indeed miraculous.

When you drop into your intuition, you have more energy to take action.

“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.

The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.

If this sounds too mystical, refer again to the body. Every significant vital sign- body temperature, heart rate, oxygen consumption, hormone level, brain activity, and so on- alters the moment you decide to do anything… decisions are signals telling your body, mind, and environment to move in a certain direction.”

~Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets

Flip a coin

Yes, you heard me. Flip a coin. And notice your response to the outcome. Heads is about taking action. Tails is sitting and waiting. Sometimes deliberately waiting is the decision and taking no action can be the most powerful intervention at that time.

Call to action: Experiment with your life:

Embrace what comes.

Let go of what goes.

Don’t chase after anything.

Being Mortal & Transitioning Gracefully

transitioning with ease

I want to die gracefully. Moving and transitioning with grace and ease is also how I wish to live my day to day life. My desire for greater connection with loved ones inspires me to allow space for grace.

In the past, transitions challenged my sense of calm and ease. From day one, I felt the pinch of forceps on my temples, hurrying me to a place I wasn’t ready to be. (I’m talking about the birth process.) Therefore, I historically run a few minutes late. I rush past my beloveds, spill my coffee, and wonder which clock to believe. This frenetic energy didn’t get me where I wanted to go. 

Developing an observing quality of mind, I saw myself racing around and my connections with others suffered. This woke me up. I began to slow down, say good-bye with a soft gaze, offer hugs, and guess what, grace and ease entered my heart… and I ended up being on time!

Being Mortal & Transitioning Gracefully

I highly recommend this book, Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande which encourages us to find a new conversation around medicine and what matters most at the end. He describes the experiences of several of his patients’ deaths and the deterioration of his own father. He explores new ways of working with others to empower them to contemplate their own death and the considerations of family before they find themselves in the “throes of crisis and fear.” He highlights what I find myself infinitely curious about, which is, what is the story we tell ourselves about our lives?

To quote directly from the text,

“People seemed to have two different selves–an experiencing self who endures every moment equally and a remembering self who gives almost all the weight of judgment afterward to two single points in time, the worst moment and the last one. The remembering self seems to stick to the Peak-End rule even when the ending is an anomaly. Just a few minutes without pain at the end of their medical procedure dramatically reduced patients’ overall pain ratings even after they’d experienced more than half an hour of high level pain. ‘That wasn’t so terrible,’ they’d reported afterward. A bad ending skewed the pain scores upward just as dramatically.”

We have purposes larger than ourselves

“In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all of its moments–which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life can be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves.

Unlike your experiencing self–which is absorbed in the moment–your remembering self is attempting to recognize not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery but also how the story works out as a whole. That is profoundly affected by how things ultimately turn out. Why would a football fan let a few flubbed minutes at the end of the game ruin three hours of bliss? Because a football game is a story. And in stories, endings matter.”

Invite space for grace

I agree wholeheartedly that endings matter. I also think beginnings matter. We must pay attention to quality of ease in the transitioning of our mundane existence. I think this is precisely why we should all be asking ourselves the question, what is the story I am telling myself about my life? It is a valuable exercise to book-end our day with two essentials: wake up with a smile before our feet hit the floor (this sets up positive cascade of neurotransmitter responses) and review our day before our head hits the pillow with a gratitude list or a www list (what went well) and write this down and/or share with a loved one.

These two simple practices, practiced on a daily basis, provide the fundamentals ingredients for helping us enjoy a better quality of life, a more accepting and gracious remembering self, and an experiencing self who notices what is going well in the day. This adds up to a more wholesome self who is better equipped at “Being Mortal” and making the difficult choices around life and death, and transitioning gracefully. So, for today, let us narrow the lens of the “good life” to this 24 hours of today.

Perhaps this one wild and precious life is workable and worthy of appreciation in each and every moment.

Instructions for Living a Life: 1. Pay attention 2. Be astonished 3. Share about it. – Mary Oliver

Incompatibility is good news

Incompatibility, bridging differences

Incompatibility in marriage is a common complaint. It implies the inability of harmonious coexistence and fuels the power struggle. Yet most relationships have some level of incompatibility. I know mine does, and we have harmonious coexistence much of the time.

A basic tenet of truth in partnership is we are not me. When I remember this catchy phrase, I open my eyes to new perspectives. Eliminating differences is a futile waste of my precious life force. Alternatively, seeing new perspectives is invigorating and affirming.

Incompatibility is good news

It can help me heal old wounds, therefore it’s not a death sentence to relationships.

My relationship is solid, we’ve been through a lot, we adore each other, and, despite all that, my default is fear. That is the predictable hell I can land in sometimes. I know this familiar ache of loneliness, deeply. 

My Imago Mentor Maya Kollman taught me a really mind-blowing idea:

Couples would rather live in a predictable hell than have a taste of heaven and lose it. 

Here’s a recent example of how this shows up in our marriage. Away for a week, I returned home to find my paintings moved to another room. I scanned the environment in a hyper vigilant fashion, looking for clues of whether I was welcome or not.

I asked my husband, “Do you even want me here?” Based on this one observation: He had moved my paintings. Period. (I wanted my paintings in our bedroom, he didn’t).

My fear response: I concluded he didn’t want me here. Ouch. (He wanted neutral decor for awhile and he had left me a love note to tell me this). This default place of the familiar fear of feeling unwanted is so very old.

If my reaction is hysterical, it is probably historical.

Am I wanted?

This a default worrisome thought that gets triggered in times of stress, transition, and reconnection.

If I resist it, it persists. If I name it, I tame it. 

My birth story in 5 short sentences:

My mom birthed four boys.

A major historical event, man landing on the moon, brought my parents into baby-making space together once again.

Despite birth control; pregnancy.

They loved me dearly and would probably never admit that I was unwanted.

But truth be told,  I wasn’t planned.

This prenatal vibe may indeed color how I see myself in the world. With this awareness, I soften to myself and share my vulnerability with my husband. I heal the old wound through our difference of opinion of where the paintings hang. Willing to see things in a fresh perspective, I let go of the predictable hell and experience a new freedom.

For more information

Please check out the founders of Imago Relationship Theory. Harville and Helen Hendrix broke the ground for a new relational paradigm. In fact, they propose that incompatibility is grounds for marriage! Check out their website — which offers 3 free books — an amazing resource. https://harvilleandhelen.com/books/making-marriage-simple/