Month: September 2016

Suffering: friend or foe?

sufferingHappiness is not offered to you on a silver platter it comes from hard work, sweat and tears and lots of nail biting moments.

“Rewards come from suffering.”

I know you have probably heard this all before; rhetoric, parents are very good at dishing out.

Parents are supposed to speak these words; this is what parents say to their children without understanding the depth of what they are saying.

As an adolescent I did not want to suffer, my parents lectures were left on deaf ears, why would I want suffer?

Suffering to me was a form punishment; all I wanted was to be happy.

Suffering meant I would hurt, why would I subject myself to that?

As I matured, I kept looking for happiness, the degree, the next degree, a house, marriage, children…

I had it all, you might say, why complain? Yet, I was still not satisfied.

During that period I suffered from panic attacks and depression, nothing made me happy despite the fact to the outside it appeared I had it all.

While my outer world was wrapped in a rose colored film, my inner world was in turmoil.

Suffering became a way of life; I resisted the suffering, restlessly looking for happiness.

One day, taking a closer look at the suffering, I watched how I would push it deep within, denying it existed, until it oozed back up with vengeance.

Then there were times I flung the suffering at others, blaming those who have caused my pain, becoming the victim was a power trip, I now did not have to own it.

Neither strategy worked, I was still unhappy…

Until, I decided to reach out and embrace suffering as part of life.

Life cannot exist with out it, happiness cannot exist without it, and growth and love cannot exist without it.

Suffering, no longer an adversary, became my companion, we shook hands and decided to unite.

We now link arms, working through the obstacles and challenges, with an understanding that we are in this together.

Suffering made me aware that avoiding or pushing suffering down; I would succumb to unrelenting dissatisfaction.

Suffering is as much a part of me, as my pleasures and achievements are.

This may sound counterintuitive, though once I stopped resisting suffering; I was free to be happy.

Yes, free to be happy.

 

Recipe: Sitting With Your Suffering Breathing Meditation

Sitting is a comfortable seat, either in a chair or on the ground, free from distractions.

Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths.

Inhale: breathe in your suffering

Hold the breath: allow the suffering to co-mingle with your heart, the centre of love and compassion

Exhale: breathe out the resistance to your suffering; allow it to be present with you.

Repeat this breath sequence until the resistance softens and you can sit with the suffering with ease.

Be patient, this may take multiple sessions depending on your suffering.

Notice once you release the resistance of your suffering, how you feel.

You may possibly feel a twinge of happiness.

Perfect family?

Perfect family?Finding the perfect family

Families are where we begin our lives.

Family’s come in all shapes and sizes; crazy, wacky, loving, smoldering, indifferent, supportive…

None of us have chosen our families, they are chosen for us.

We had no say in the process, there was no sifting through a rack of families and picking the one that fits the best, feels just right or is perfect.

Which can be good and bad.

Bad, if your family depletes you.

Good, if your family buoys you.

Most families provide a mixture of both.

Families are firsts for everything, especially first insight into relating to others and understanding ourselves.

Our self-worth is shaped by our families early in life and gets carried over into adulthood where we find it impossible to differentiate between our parents’ infiltration of their beliefs or our own.

Our family creates our root system, that foundation for development and growth, whether we trust the world, and love others and ourselves.

Families are also a place where you can get royally screwed up, where you trust no one, take few risks, fear the world, and dislike yourself.

Or you might find again, it is a mixture of both.

There are no perfect families, not one that exists.

All families have baggage; they carry it from one generation to the next. Baggage is passed down from Great Great Grandma or Grandpa, ultimately to you. Some baggage is beneficial some elicits pain.

Baggage, which is heavy, baggage, which is light, baggage, which is bulky and baggage, which is slight.

There is no perfect baggage, as there are no perfect families.

Since no one can choose their family, how do you deal with the heaviness and depletion families can leave you feeling?

Do you cut off contact? Or limit time together? Or just put up with it? Or tell them how you feel? Or drown yourself in self-pity?

What do you do?

What not to do.

Do not:

Do not allow your family to deplete you.

Do not take their words as gospel.

Do not passively absorb hostile words.

Do not react with anger and retaliate with unkind words.

Do:

Do observe yourself silently.

Do try and empathize with your family, step into their shoes to get a sense of what they are feeling.

Do observe your role in your families’ antagonism.

Do listen with understanding and attention.

Do take care of your needs by distancing if it becomes overwhelming.

Do create boundaries and let your family know what they are.

Using mindfulness helps you to pause before you speak, pause before you react, pause to understand your family member and pause to look within yourself.

No, we cannot choose our family and we will never have a perfect family but we can practice a technique called ‘detachment’.

Detachment does not mean you do not love your family or devote time to them, it means you no longer cling onto them and there are no expectations of them.

Once you can release the grip and what it is you expect of them, the family and your perception of them changes.

Through detachment, you are free, your family are now just your family, not good or back, neither perfect nor imperfect, just your family.

And now you have the space to love.

 

Recipe for: Detachment

When with your family

Taking 3 deep breaths

Pause before you speak

Observe feelings that emerge

Take 3 more deep breaths

Decide to listen with attention, without the need to respond.

Take 3 more deep breaths

Observe the desire to react, pause, don’t

Take another deep breath

Ask yourself silently what do I need to do

This might be the time you excuse yourself, or remind yourself that we are all imperfect.

Remain present throughout; use this opportunity to learn about yourself.

Remember they are just your family

Then you can love.

Achieving greatness

achieving greatnessDo we really know who we are?

Do we know what our full potential is?

What about the people who influence us, do they see it is as well?

Mary Oliver, a renowned poet, spoke about greatness, “ Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life”.

What is our greatness?

For some, it is blatantly obvious; they have voices sweet and smooth like silk, or paint pictures that take your breath away…

Some are so physically beautiful it is impossible to turn your eyes away from their beauty.

Then there are the highly intelligent who can sleep through an exam and not only pass, but get the highest grades.

There are the few who write with such eloquence and those who can bake the most delicious cakes.

What if you are not one of them? Or you have no clue what is your greatness?

Maybe you have a talent that is recognized though due to your situation or lack of perseverance it just fizzled out.

Wouldn’t be the saddest ending, when gifts are known and they get lost in the busyness of life?

It is wretched situation to end your wild and precious life with missing chances.

Sometimes it is not necessarily you to blame, it can be a loved one who thwarts you attaining greatness.

It might be husbands, wives, partners, parents, sibling or even your children who discourage your greatness.

Why this possible, when life is so short. Don’t we all want each other to succeed and be happy?

Don’t we want everyone to achieve greatness?

Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

We absorb others stories, the stories that we are not great or that good, our talents, would never make a living, leaving us deflated.

Families may not cheer us on, because they themselves are fraught with jealousy, our talent exposes their lack of greatness.

How dare you be more beautiful, more talented, and intelligent than them, if you are great they see their limitations. Crushing your greatness in the process of attempting to lift themselves up.

Has this ever happened to you?

How terribly sad, for at the end of the day, it is your wild and precious life, not theirs.

As children we know nothing about greatness, we just do what feels right and natural. Our footsteps are ours to walk in.

Then as we mature we begin to step inside our parents steps, forgetting about our own.

Don’t forget your parents have done the same, walked in their parents’ footsteps, as did their parents, and so on and so on…

I would suggest take risks in your wild and precious life; place your foot down with the resolve that you will follow your greatness.

If you don’t know what that greatness is, dedicate your life to finding it.

Don’t waste your wild and precious life!

 

Recipe: Achieving Greatness Meditation

Close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths

Sit in silence without any distractions for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, ask, “What is my greatness?”

Sit and breathe

Notice how your mind will immediately step in to answer the question

Do not pay attention to it, allow the thoughts to evaporate

Sit and breathe

Ask again, “ What is my greatness?” Keep asking

Notice what comes up, until there is nothing.

After 5 minutes gently open your eyes

Do not expect an answer within your meditation, unless per chance it comes.

Most answers come in subtle forms as we live our lives, keep yours eyes and mind open.

Do this everyday until you see what your greatness is

Be present, patient and persevere

Circles of change

Circles of changeLet’s face it, change creates much of our anxiety, it disturbs our equilibrium, shakes up our stability.

Change is constant, it surrounds us, we can’t avoid it.

Living without change is an impossible feat, whether we like it or not so why fight it.

Rather than defy change, allow yourself to see change as what it truly is, a movement or a shift that has a purpose; a circular momentum.

Change takes the shape of a circle or series of circles, like a revolving wheel, it takes different forms depending on where you are on the wheel, but always returns full circle where it began.

Once you can grasp that change is not a saboteur, or negative force to feed your suffering, rather the natural rhythm of life, you will unshackle yourself from your anxieties and be free.

Follow me on this journey through the circles of change. 

Full Circle

Summer goes autumn comes

Autumn leaves winter replaces

Winter turns into spring

Spring swaps into summer

Then it begins again

Full circle

Again, again and again

Babies are born and then grow old and die another baby is born

Full circle

A day begins and ends and begins again

Full circle

Monday moves to Tuesday, then to Wednesday until Sunday and then its Monday

Full circle

New moon is hiding, observe the quarter, how dramatic the full moon is, then the other quarter and new again.

Full Circle

Cheerful, elated, melancholic and sad then cheerful again

Full circle

No body, young in body, middle age in body and old in body, no body

Full circle

It is a mindset old and death is sad and young and fresh is happy

Young at heart and mind can remain that way throughout life, beginning and ending young

Full circle

That is your choice to make

Embrace the circle, the steps along the way

Change the mind not the circle

Summer maybe fun, but so is autumn, winter and spring

Change the mind not the circle

Full circle

Recipe: Full Circle – change your mind not the

Start with a single day. You decide on a new approach.

You wake and search for the hidden beauty of the morning,  search for a single item to savour.

Notice the quiet of the morning, the smell of the toast or taste of the cereal.

Then move to the commute to work or if at home the next step.

Move through the day as if you are walking around a circle.

Take each step, or phase and be present with it.

Continue pausing for moments to observe the phases of your day.

The feelings, physical sensations and allow them to occur as they are.

At the end of the day, once in bed, lie there for a second and acknowledge the circle you had followed that day and now you are resting and peaceful.

It is time to sleep

Full circle

You have just embraced changing the mind not the circle.

RJMindbody

RJMindbody