For those of you who would prefer a meditation with images of nature, here’s the youtube version:
One of the things that always touches me is listening to the critical ways in which so many of us talk to ourselves. It’s as though we culturally tune into a particular channel of self-awareness and are taught to give ourselves a hard time, weighing ourselves down with “shoulds”, comparing ourselves negatively to others, and making sure we jump on ourselves immediately if there is any hint that we might not be measuring up to whatever judgments we may carry.
For many of us, there is also the underlying anxiety, uncertainty, and downright fear that arose during times of trauma when we may have experienced verbal or physical abuse. With abuse tends to come an internal dialogue of self-blame which then grows into an internal litany of what’s wrong with us and why we, or our lives, will never be okay.
Recently, I watched a Tedx Talk by Andrew Newman, the creator of the Conscious Bedtime Story Club and the author of many children’s books. The talk is entitled, “Why the Last 20 Minutes of the Day Matter” and I was captivated by what Andrew had to say. Here’s a link to his talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfcZhlK-FAURead More “776th Week: Programming Ourselves for More Gentle Self-Talk”
As I write this practice, current violent events that have caused immense distress and suffering continue to fill the news and Internet. Working through my own responses got me to thinking about what I might offer as this week’s practice that might be both supportive and useful.
Whenever I am in the presence of suffering and challenges that I can’t directly change, I inevitably turn to my heart space for support, comfort, and as a way to actively and mindfully process my sense of outrage, helplessness, or despair that may arise. And, inevitably and thankfully, my heart space is able to process and manage these difficult feelings in a way that always surprises and eases me. It may be because I feel like I’m doing something, or it may be—as the HeartMath Institute’s research has shown—that a coherent heart eases the amygdala and reduces activation.Read More “761st Week: Holding Space for Ourselves and All Our Kin (Which is Everyone)”
There is a Japanese philosophy called “wabi sabi”, which is about accepting and embracing that which is imperfect or flawed. Most of you have probably seen kintsugi pottery, where gold is used to fill cracks that appear in a piece of pottery—a bowl, cup, vase. One person who wrote about this said that kintsugi is how one can acknowledge the fact that the pottery object earned those cracks through the process of living and that filling the cracks with gold honors the fact of that experience.
A while back (764th Week’s practice), I wrote about choosing frequencies and engaging practices that make that process more fluid. Another helpful approach is to cultivate an awareness of the “foreground/background” dynamic that is present in every moment. Whatever is in the foreground of your awareness, there is likely to be something different in the background.
One way to think about these foreground/background dynamics could be the distinction between moments of upset in the foreground and an awareness of the present-day observer in the background. The observer is the part of us that notices what we experience and is able to make choices about what to do with what we notice. In this case, we’re exploring finding ways to shift from the foreground upset to a background of a more regulated quality, if that’s what you choose to do.
Drawing on an awareness of foreground/background allows more choice about whether you want to continue with the focus of your attention and experience or if you want to shift frequencies to something else that you may find in the background. For example, you may be upset over a news report you just heard, with your body tense, fear in the foreground, and thoughts of what terrible things might unfold. These responses are natural in these times, but you don’t need to live there. Once you notice how distressed you are, it’s possible to become curious about what might be in the background. Perhaps you notice a quality of quiet, or ease, internal steadiness, or reassurance of some kind. This doesn’t mean you are ignoring or denying issues that are realistically upsetting. Instead, it means that you will be able to respond more coherently if you aren’t caught up in the activation related to them.Read More “778th Week: Foreground/Background Dynamics Revisited”