I am writing to share a few thoughts about how we can successfully navigate this time.
Staying Calm: NOW is the time to USE the resources available to us to create inner peace. Whether it's yoga, meditation, writing, coaching, dancing, cooking, crying, reaching out for support, all of it...
When we maintain inner calm, we make better choices. We RESPOND instead of REACT to life. When we react, we will create more drama today and in the future. When we cultivate inner calm, we can weather any outer storm.
Staying Connected: NOW is the time to BE WITH people. We all need to listen with our heart to what people are NOT saying. When we reach out to others, we help ourselves in the process. We are never alone and we can always make a choice to plug in and connect--- especially when we "don't feel like it". Zoom/Facetime virtual dates, connection calls, dance parties, meditation, whatever.
Staying Compassionate: NOW is the time to be kind to ourselves and to others. I have heard it said compassion is love in action. I love this definition because it calls upon us TO DO something loving. Some of you know that when Peter and I opened up BWS in 2011 we created it based on Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health...to be a Sanctuary for body, mind & spirit in our community. Did you know Kripalu (named after Swami Kripalu) means compassion?
Sending you LOVE AND LIGHT, Stephanie
Buddha didn’t teach us how to be enlightened.
Buddha taught us how to deal with human suffering.
Yes, at one point or another all of us encounter some form of suffering.
Why do we suffer?
What’s the difference between suffering outside our control and suffering that’s self inflicted?
We are human! Suffering is one of our greatest teachers. Much of our suffering comes from living in fear / wanting to control (self-inflicted). More suffering happens as we continue to resist what is.
This topic is broad. So, let's consider 2 questions:
1. Is this suffering I am experiencing self made?
2. Is this suffering I am experiencing part of life?
How will you know?
For question #1, self made suffering is a result of our thoughts and emotions and the inner narrative/story we replay over and over. Thoughts feeds emotion and emotion feeds thought and before we know it, this cycle of suffering becomes a way of life. This inner narrative, often a part of our dysfunctional mental conditioning over years, keeps us regretting the past and worried about the future.
The result? We remain stuck in the present, which is in direct opposition to "how life works" and quite frankly why we were born. Life only takes place in the present. Life itself requires us to keep moving. We can choose to move, or life will move us on its own terms.
Please note: I am not saying to discard the lessons of the past. Nor am I saying to leave the future open to some woo woo practice of intention setting without action.
What I am saying...is what I always say...take responsibility for your life. Your choices. Where you are. Where you want to go. And by all means, take small daily actions to move you along.
For question #2, part of life's inevitable suffering is the pain we feel from loss of a loved one, an illness, tragedy, etc.
If this writing resonates, perhaps you will listen to this week's Mind the Gap podcast episode on suffering. I speak about the different kinds of suffering and in particular the suffering that’s of our own creation- mental and emotional. Maybe you will also decide to keep a journal and spend a few minutes each day reflecting the 2 questions.
Living life is a practice and can be the most powerful portal for spiritual awakening, growth ...and freedom.
I am with you my friends.
What is it? How can it help us? Why bother committing to it?
In this Mind the Gap Podcast Episode Stephanie discusses the 3 myths of meditation and why having a consistent practice is transformational and life changing.
She also gives an example of how to use meditation as a tool to turn negative / destructive thoughts into positive / empowering ones.
Let's Go! Listen Here.
Presence Practice by Stephanie
In times we feel emotionally unbalanced, stressed, lacking focus, energy etc.....having a presence practice helps return us to balance.
As I talk about in Chapter Two of my book Reclaiming JOY, the emotional roller coaster is not sustainable and keeps us stuck. We react and often cause more turmoil.
This simple presence practice, called BRFWA, (we love and use often at the Sanctuary) brings us back to a relaxed state where our emotions are in balance.
From this place of emotional balance or equanimity, we are able to ride the emotional wave without drowning in it / losing ourselves for too long. In equanimity we find our way back to peace and clarity and perhaps even a chuckle. Once clear, we are able to take clear, focused action that keeps us on the path of peace as we move toward our goals. Let's go!
BRFWA Explained (Give yourself at least 5 minutes to experience this).
Breathe: As a wave of emotion comes over you, slow down your breath.
Allow your breath to flow freely in and out.
Relax: As you slow down your breath, your mind and body will begin to relax.
Soften your muscles, let go of mental and physical tension.
Feel: As you relax, you are able to soften into what you are feeling.
Stay open to the sensations and emotions moving through you in this moment.
Watch: While feeling, you watch your experience closely, neither grasping what is pleasant nor pushing away what is painful.
Allow: As you watch, you allow the process to unfold.
You accept yourself and your experience exactly as it is, dropping the need to change it in any way.
BRWFA is the practice of being present.
Being present is what we learn during meditation.
"We are not limited by what we don't have. We are limited by what we don't use." -Bob Goff
Lately in my conversations with people there is a recurring theme: shift.
More specifically, the need/desire/want for a shift in...something.
What I am noticing in these interactions is how often we get caught in the false belief that shift happens outside of us. Meaning, we are looking to something or someone outside of ourselves to make it better so to speak. We often waste energy suffering while we "wait". We feel stuck, agitated, depressed. It's a rabbit hole that we can get lost in, and drag others down with us, if we are not mindful.
Here's what I want to suggest.
Instead of looking and waiting for the shift to happen on the outside (i.e: job, home, relationship, financial situation, family, etc), look inside.
Let me explain.
When we shift our perspective and look within, we prevent further energy drain in the form of suffering. We open ourselves to receive clarity about what we can do. We move from ego/lack mindset to divine/prosperity mindset.
As we move from lack to prosperity, we discover we have what we need inside of us to take action. The energy shifts from dis-connected /dis-empowering to connected / empowering.
Why is this internal shift important?
Shifting our awareness within helps us access the deeper "I", which is the place of stillness some experience during meditation, writing, running... When we access the deeper "I" we bring together the dimension of stillness and thinking. This process opens the doorway to empowered action. Insights and choices arise that were once blocked when we were caught in ego/lack mindset.
I don't have children, yet. For a long time, I didn't want children. I chose to focus on building my career and becoming an "adult" myself to say the least!
Today, I want children in my life. I am open to how that happens.
At times when people ask me about having children, and then hear I am 43, etc, etc, it can be "depressing" --- if I allow myself to get caught in the belief of what I don't have...children.
Sometimes I create my own suffering with thoughts about not have/will never have/impossible etc.
Following me? I trust some of you understand what I am saying here. Pretty much when we focus on what we don't have, and think we ought to have, whatever that is, we suffer. The greater the gap between what we don't think we have...and what we want...the greater the suffering. So, let's mind the gap and work to reduce and close it so we return to inner peace (soul congruence - more on this another time)
In talking with people and reflecting on my own inquiry about children, I realized it makes so much more sense to focus on what we can do about it! I am a triple Leo so action is in my blood anyway.
When I began shifting my attention inward, accessing the "deeper I", I got clear on what I am not using in my desire to have children in my life. From this I realized I want to help foster families deal with challenging feelings and navigating the parent/child relationship. Relationships are one of my favorite topics and I have many tools to offer in service to this. Voila. Stillness. Clarity. Action.
If you are feeling the suffering of wanting something outside of you to shift, please, stop it. Try what I have explained here. Shift your focus within. Access the "deeper I". Discover what have within right now that you can use in service to what you want to shift outside. Then take empowered action. Be patient. Everything is a process.