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Because Each of Us Matters

Tuesday, 19. November 2013 15:02

Swallowtail Butterfly share flowersHave you ever thought about who makes up your “we”? Is it your family, your partner, your political party, or your work associates?  Or maybe it’s the human race, or all the creatures of the earth?  Perhaps your answer changes depending on the issue at stake.

The way you navigate between the needs of I, you and we in your life can be tricky. How do you meet your needs and the needs of others when they compete? For example, if your “I “ almost always comes second to your service to others in your life, how does that feel for you?  Alternatively, how does it feel if you almost always seek to meet your own needs before considering the needs of others?

Say these definitions to yourself:

Loving only you is self-less;

Loving only me is selfish and

Loving me and you is self–full.

And these:

Each of us is responsible for meeting our own needs; and

Your needs and my needs matter equally, not more or less.

How was that for you?

I find it empowering to know that our needs matter equally and that I can trust you to take care of yourself. It means I can care about others (you and we) in my life without abandoning me. It enhances my respect for both of us.

I can always choose to consider our needs together in my solution set.  That’s not an obligation, it’s a choice, and that encourages me to discover creative solutions that solve problems in ways that benefit more of us.

In this context, one of my favorite questions is this:

“What choices bring more love and abundance to me, to you and to us?”

Finding your way to meet the needs of I, with you and we, may fill a lifetime.  Hopefully, each of us seeks a balance that not only nurtures us, but also allows us to contribute to our community and to our world in meaningful ways.   Because each of us matters – and how we live this consciousness makes all the difference.

 

 

 

Category:Relationships, Self Actualization, Uncategorized, Wellness | Comment (0) | Author:

Reconciliation and Healing

Monday, 2. September 2013 13:01

I so loved this post, entitled Reconciliation by blogger and yogi Jennifer Pastiloff. I wanted to share (what was for me) the most resonant piece of the essay.

How does the heart reconcile? Does it?

We move on. We get up and go and come home and pour a glass of wine or not, but we never fully get over things. What does getting over even mean? It sounds like some kind of vengeful expression that they would make a movie out of like Die Hard. Getting Over It Part 7.

I am going to get one over on you. I am getting over. It suggests that there is something underfoot, something to be trampled on and overcome.

My heart does not want to overcome or trample on my losses but rather assimilate them into my life so I can function like a “normal” adult with responsibilities and schedules. Right now, I stay in pajamas and write unless I have to go and teach, and I worry about things like having a girl because how do you even braid hair? I worry about having children. Period.

How do you make a diorama? How do you do algebra? What if I don’t want to watch their soccer practice? 

What is a normal adult? Is there such a thing?

I am a woman of a certain age. (Yes, yes, in comparison, I may be very young. I am sure some of you reading are rolling your eyes and saying, “Girl, you are so young.”) Not in baby-making years. I am not at all. Trust me on this. I am young at heart and maybe young looking, but when it comes to ovaries and eggs, I am meh at best.

Do I need to reconcile all my losses before I bring life into the world? Do I need to do the proverbial getting my sh*t together before I make a move?

(What do I do? Who do I ask?)

I have always fantasized about having someone who would give me answers, which is why it was especially devastating that my father died so young because, although I am sure his answers would be fifty percent bullshit, I would take them as The Word, happily and without question. (I would!)

Here I am a teacher and a leader, and I am still searching for someone to tell me what to do.

As I have written about before, one of the worst things for me is deciding what to eat. Recently, in Bali, I went out to eat with someone who takes my yoga classes, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I hemmed and hawed and changed my order. I fretted.

She said something to the effect of I have never seen that side of you.

What side? The pressure I feel to be somebody that always inspires, that always knows what to do and what to order and what to eat. I don’t even know if I want a baby, and I am in my late thirties.

So yes, there is this side of me. The side of me that doesn’t know. Who has lost a lot. Who has anxiety, still, yes. Who, sometimes, doesn’t leave her house and who would prefer to write than do or teach yoga and who tends to take things too personally and drinks too much coffee and gets stuck in the past and novels, too.

I have reconciled those things for the most part (some I’d like to keep). But the questions are looming.

I am not looking for answers necessarily.

I think life exists in the questions.

I am looking to never stop asking the questions. To always look and uncover and dig and smell and retrieve and throw back. If I stop asking the questions, I die.

It may take a while for my body to die, but my mind and soul and all other parts of me will wither away immediately if the questions stop. The heart can never reconcile all of it until it stops beating.

I think that is why that line chokes me up. I know the truth behind it.

How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses? It doesn’t.

Some turn to legend, some to fact, some to dust, and, the rest, well, the rest you bury inside of you and reach for it when you are drowning, knowing it will be there. And it will.

Visit Jennifer’s amazing site here: http://www.jenniferpastiloff.com  To read the post  in its entirety, click here.  

 

 

 

Category:Relationships, Self Actualization, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness | Comment (0) | Author:

Healing Our Everyday Addictions

Friday, 30. August 2013 10:05

Aren’t we all addicted to something?  Isn’t an addiction really  just habitual behavior that is difficult to recognize and to change? I came across a piece in Caroline Myss‘s August newsletter that spoke powerfully about our everyday addictions and  the healing process.  I excerpted the second half of her article here.  To read the entire piece, you can sign up for her newsletter on her site, or read it in the archives once it’s posted. Safe journeys and successful healing to you.

AM I AN ADDICT?

Excerpted from Caroline Myss newsletter article

August 2013 SALON: INTO THE WORLD OF OUR ADDICT ARCHETYPE PART TWO

 Are you? Of course you are. Who isn’t? Whatever else you do, do not tell yourself that you are not an addict. You may not be hooked on street drugs or alcohol or any of the obvious substances, but let’s go to the next level – psychic addictions. What about power issues, attention getting tactics, entitlements (endless list of those), manipulation tactics, self-pity (that’s a favorite), lying (another popular addiction), stealing (a nickel or a million dollars – it’s not the amount that makes you a thief), gossip, breaking your word, making excuses for yourself, blaming others for why your life is a mess, – the list is endless. These forms of behavior are character defects, to be sure, but they are also psychic addictions. Why? They are addictions because you automatically rely upon your dark patterns of behavior as a means of survival without a giving these actions a second thought. In general, you do not stop to consider the long-term consequences of a dark action upon others or the entire fabric of your life. Rather, you rationalize your actions by some entitlement – perhaps a wound from your childhood or some injustice done to you at work. Or you tell yourself that you want to avoid hurting others or engaging in conflict. The excuses for deceit are endless but in the end, they are still deceitful actions that you rely upon for safety because you don’t trust the consequences of being truthful. This is classic psychic addiction behavior that allows a person to say, “What did I do? I didn’t mean anything by my actions”. Not taking responsibility for personal actions is yet another flag indicating addictive behavior.

The next questions are, “What are you addictions? How fast are they contributing to the destruction of your health and life, not to mention your psyche and your spirit? And, are you interested in doing anything about any of your addictions?”

When it comes to directing people to heal, I am obviously of the school of mind that it’s tough work and blaming another person for the way you are eventually becomes a weak argument. At some point, if you are serious about healing, you have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and take charge of yourself, regardless of your background, as healing the authority your background has over you is part of the journey itself. You cannot heal an addiction and play the blame game simultaneously. These two ways of thinking X each other out. Having said that, I always tell people that healing does not in any way mean that a person forgets the nightmares of their childhood or youth or even adult years. That’s impossible. The challenge we face in healing is one of repositioning those memories, of not allowing them to have control over the rest of our life. Healing is not about forgetting though it is about forgiving – a subject for another day.

Deciding to leave the world of addiction consciousness begins by making a decision as to whether you want to actually challenge that part of yourself. If you do, if you actually want to break free of a dysfunctional pattern of behavior to which you are addicted, your next step is to identify it. Observe that behavior in you as if it’s not you, as if you’re observing a stranger. Observe what situations seem to activate that pattern. Once identified, you form and act upon a behavioral pattern that is more positive or at least less destructive. Then you have to stick to your new behavior like a duck on a June bug. That’s where the hard work comes in – and it’s really hard. Old ways die hard and that dark little voice in you that always gives you permission to do the weakest thing, to indulge in destructive behavior, to feel sorry for yourself, to blame someone for your life – that’s a powerful voice. It’s actually a reptile in your psyche that needs to be exorcised and it takes effort, lots of effort because whether or not you realize it, you’ve come to rely on that reptile to make your life easy. And it always has. Moreover, you have no idea what, if anything, will replace that reptile once you dismantle that one from your psyche. All you’ll have left is clarity of mind and for so many people, clear thinking is the most frightening level of consciousness in their world. You may need the assistance of a counselor for this type of work, as this is rigorous.

There is nothing simple about taking on an addiction. But then again, there is nothing simple or easy about healing cancer either or about weight loss or about initiating any real act of personal transformation. Of course it’s difficult. How could it not be? Do you think being an addict is easy? Really? Think of all the difficulties your addictions have created for you and add those up. The difference between the challenges initiated through healing and those created through addictions is that addicts don’t care about the mess their behavior creates. They don’t care about the pain their power plays bring to others or how their endless entitlements place demands on the lives of people.

Healing is a different type of pain. It’s the pain of becoming aware of the power of one’s strength and weakness, of one’s capacity to love or do damage to oneself and to others, and of how the most challenging person to control in life is ultimately yourself.

For those of you who are addicts or are dealing with addicts and need help along the way, let me add that the genius of the Twelve Step Program is that it provides people with an internal value system that touches the spirit without directly being religious or spiritual. The fact that this program provides food for the human spirit is its grace. Likewise, without finding an internal value system that speaks to the human spirit, replacing the shallow needs of the ego, self-serving addictions will continue to consume a person’s psyche. A person will likely continue to want more stuff, becoming terrified of aging, and always think there is something more in life waiting for them somewhere. And that person will be haunted by the fear that every one else will get more stuff then he or she will. Such is the way of the person addicted to the ultimate hell – endless fear.

Personal Work

  • Remember we are all addicts. Observe yourself and what shadow pattern kicks in automatically as your primary safety net and why.
  • What is an alternative behavior? Are you courageous enough to introduce that into your life? Keep in mind that you do not introduce a healthy behavior just once. It has to become part of your lifestyle.
  • Do not look for positive feedback or rewards for any positive changes that you introduce into your life. Any and all changes have only to do with you wanting to be a better person.
  • You may want to find a support person – a counselor or a spiritual director. These are not small changes we are talking about.
  • Finally, I am always one who encourages inner work, reflection, and prayer as a given part of life, but especially when you undertake personal transformation. You need to read inspiring sacred writings. You need to know that becoming clear and empowered is exactly the true meaning of discovering your inner potential.
  • Be blessed on this journey. It’s the only one that keeps getting better.

For more on Caroline Myss, visit her website at http://www.myss.com

 

 

 

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How Do You Stop A Crazed Gunman?

Monday, 17. December 2012 18:28

This weekend, as I mourned the horrendous loss of life in the Connecticut school shooting along with the rest of the country, I asked myself this question many times, “How do you stop a crazed gunman?” Sadly, the answer seems to be, you probably can’t.  By the time he is holding the gun, the time to stop him or her, has passed.  But that answer doesn’t satisfy my heart and so I continue to seek a response, a course of action so that I may begin to heal my grief with hope.

I believe that while we may not be able to stop a crazed gunman, we may be able to help the child that might otherwise become that gunman.  Inside all of us is a child, a child who may have been bullied, who may have had problems, been traumatized, or who may have been overlooked and passed over and passed along in our system.

Somehow, we have got to take better care of our children, and perhaps that starts by taking better care of ourselves.  Perhaps we need to take an extra moment out of our day to be kinder to ourselves, and then to others.  Perhaps we should stop and help, even when it would be much easier on us and on our hectic schedules to keep on going.

Perhaps I can take a moment to notice and acknowledge the challenges facing another human being.  I can smile.  I can say please and thank you.  I can greet another person with kindness and acknowledge our shared humanity, whether it is a homeless person, the cleaner at the gym or the assistant at my office.   I can take time to call and check on an elderly friend and lend an empathetic ear.

I think I’m a decent person, and yet, I know I can be better.  I can find ways to voice my opposition to injustice I can open my heart not just to my family, but also to the family of man.  I can stop asking, “What’s wrong with this world? And start asking, “What’s right with this world, and how can I be a part of it? “

I can question myself when I feel jealousy, resentment, fear or hatred.  I can get help to understand those feelings, and in turn, help others, especially our children, to understand their feelings – and to cope with them. I can find ways to heal myself, through prayer, yoga, meditation, nonviolent communication and community.  I can reach out.  I may not be able to save the world, but I can be more loving every day, to myself and to others.

I owe it to those innocent children in Connecticut to not just wonder how such horror can occur, but also to wonder what might we do collectively, and individually to change the things in our world that don’t support  the mentally ill, and the children who are suffering from trauma and other kinds of wounds.  Maybe that includes better gun control, maybe that includes locking down our schools, but I also believe it means helping people to love themselves – and each other more. How can we support each other so that we can be well in body, mind and spirit?  How do we work toward loving inclusion, embrace and assist those who are less fortunate or different from ourselves?

How do I become an instrument of good works and positive change?

We may not have all the answers, but I believe that if we keep asking the right questions and seek to live with love, respect, kindness and make wellness a priority over video games as babysitters, more possessions, climbing the corporate ladder and a million other distractions that keep us from putting our children and our souls first, then we can and will change the world.   It is my only hope.

Category:Self Actualization, Spirituality, Wellness | Comments (2) | Author:

Why Suffer?

Thursday, 15. November 2012 15:00

What is suffering?  Simply put, it’s not accepting the truth.  When you fight with reality, you create resistance and the energy it requires  is painfully unproductive.  Some examples:

Is suffering necessary?

  • You no longer love your lover but you stay with that person and pretend that everything is okay.
  • Your lover no longer loves you and you hope that if you are really good, sexy, well behaved (fill in the blank____)   that your lover will love you again.
  • Your arm has been amputated and you try to do the same old things in the same old way.

I’m not saying that you can’t grieve your losses or that it‘s easy.   It’s sad when something we want or that we treasure changes.  I’m going through a divorce, and although I know it is my right path, it hurts to face reality, and there is grief. But I find that simply longing for the past, coddling  the loss or even making wild ass strategic plans to force someone else to change,  doesn’t usually  get me back to where I wish I could be.  So go ahead and feel your sadness, feel your grief, and then, when you’re ready, can you allow that small, but brilliant voice inside you to say,  “This is my new reality – what now?”

I am not saying that its fun to “cowboy up” or that it doesn’t hurt like hell.  What I am saying is that the longer you live in denial of your reality, you prolong your suffering.  Once you say to yourself, “I no longer have two arms, so what can I do with one arm and two legs,” – or, “I can no longer stay in this relationship, so what relationships do I want to create now?” – the faster you can get back into alignment with what is possible and right for you.  Once you reclaim your ability to make choices that nourish you and heal you, suffering begins to shrink.

Denial is okay too.  Sometimes it is the best we can do.  If denial is what you need to take care of yourself, accept it, know it, embrace it and forgive yourself. But please don’t betray your heart forever.  If you do, you may lose your soul, and that is a big price to pay for the cold comfort of numbness.

Suffering is a choice.  What choices are you making?

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Better Healing by Looking Inside and Out

Sunday, 14. October 2012 14:10

Physical spaces in our lives can stress us, make us sick, or help us be well.

Science is now proving what we have known intuitively for centuries – that beautiful surroundings and “places of peace” aid healing. Maybe that’s one explanation of why so many of us are willing to pay more for a hotel room with a beautiful view.

According to immunologist Esther Sternberg, Research Director at the University of Arizona in Tucson, a living being is constantly repairing itself against a variety of different insults in its environment at a molecular, a cellular, and an emotional level.  Therefore, we simply cannot underestimate our environment when it comes to the impact it has on our well-being and our stress level.  When individuals who need to heal are placed in environments that don’t trigger a stress response, they are likely to release positive, anti-pain molecules and dopamine molecules that allow their bodies to heal more effectively.

The good news for you and I, is that means we can affect our wellness by managing our internal and external spaces. Since most of us are healing all the time, perhaps from a jagged day at work, bad traffic, illness, depression, whatever – we can’t afford to overlook creating a place of peace in our lives – internally and externally. The excellent news is that people like Sternberg are working with architects to build better wellness into our hospitals, workplaces, and homes so daily healing can be easier for all of us.

At an “On Being” radio interview, Sternberg spoke about her new book, Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being.  She cited a well-controlled hospital study in which the single variable that differed between patients was a view out the window.  The study found that the patients with a view of a grove of trees left the hospital a day sooner (on average), needed less pain medication, and had fewer negative nurse’s notes than patients who had a view of a brick wall.

Sternberg makes it clear that she’s not advising anyone to cancel chemotherapy and to escape to a desert island for his or her recovery.  Rather, she advocates that you aid your healing process by managing your environment and using mindful modalities, like meditation, yoga and prayer to help amplify pathways in the brain that are proven to help the immune system do its job of healing.

Sternberg talks about finding your “place of peace”, both inside and out.  She intimates what that means is slowing down – by either forgetting or not worrying about time. In daily living, we’re so conscious of time, it’s hard to strip that preoccupation away.  Activities like walking slowly, using a Buddhist prayer wheel or drum, or visiting a meditation garden can help you to slow down and notice the beauty around you.

Sternberg commented “…the most important point that I came to in my own journey in writing this book is that we really can create places of peace not only in our real world, in our physical environment that surrounds us, but in our own mind’s eye. And those kinds of places of peace are portable. In many different traditions, like the Buddhist tradition or in virtually all religious traditions, you close your eyes and you visualize something. That’s a way of carrying these environments, these healing places, within you. It’s wonderful if you can go to them, but if you can’t, you can bring them to yourself.”

Now that Sternberg’s reminded us how important our surroundings (internal and external) are, I hope you will take some time to invest in yourself and your living space. Rid yourself of clutter, but also honor objects of beauty and meaning, and add music, color and light. I hope you will allow yourself a few precious moments of quiet mindfulness each day; even five minutes can make a difference. My hunch is you’ll feel better for it.

Check out the full interview here: http://www.onbeing.org/program/science-healing-places/4856

 

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The Power of Words

Friday, 7. September 2012 16:46

Our thoughts and our words have tremendous power.  Consider this quote from freethechildren.org:

“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”

For more on using words to change your destiny, visit my blog at http://www.theprojectcoach.com/blog/bid/78493/How-Words-Can-Change-Your-Destiny  and check out this great little video about word power. If you can’t see it, click here: http://youtu.be/jOMMFx1NZt0

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Enjoy the Journey?

Friday, 20. July 2012 11:55

Painting by Artist and Yogi, Renata Loree

A little poster at my local yoga studio reads, “Don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”

I scowl.  Exactly what does that mean? Aren’t there some days when everything just sucks? With that, I enter class and mindfully flow my way through the poses.  My breath sweeps over the ragged edges of my thoughts like a wave – polishing, rounding and softening them.

HELLO!  Time to awaken to the good.  I am in this amazing class –forgetting how lucky I am to be here and to have access to this practice.  A new perspective:  I am focusing so much on the challenges that I am taking the good things for granted!  Although I spend many of my days battling incompetent and seemingly uncaring service providers, I overlook the gift of my intelligence and forbearance to do so.  And yes, my car, my bike, and my washer broke down in the same week, but gosh, I was able to get them fixed.  Yes, I am rearranging the details of my life.  And while it is time consuming and disorienting, I chose this path.   I am deeply grateful to have had the freedom to make that choice.

I also know that when difficult things happen that are not my choice, I still have the ability to choose how I deal with them.  In retrospect, I find it’s adversity that makes me stronger, wiser or takes me to the next place I need to be. When all else is amiss, I also find comfort and joy in the friends who stand by me during the hard times and who never fail to cajole me to laughter, even when the going gets tough.

That little poster turned out to be a wise reminder that when we focus only on the things that are negative and the things that aren’t getting done, it’s easy to forget to appreciate and enjoy all the things that are right in our world.   So next time you’re flummoxed, try taking stock of what is right for you:  a gorgeous sky, the air, your abilities, your pet, your loved ones.   Perhaps most importantly, remember that things are always changing.  Thankfully, every new moment brings new possibility.

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Opening New Doors

Friday, 13. July 2012 12:37

“There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors.” 

Quote by Jim Morrison, American Poet and Singer, member of the band, The Doors.

Hello friends! I hope you have been enjoying your summer.  I’ve been spending my time opening and closing doors, and arranging furniture in the rooms in between. The process has been challenging, enlightening and consuming.

Check out my latest Project U. blog, if you want to read a little more about transformation…

Back soon!

Catherine

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Home for Your Soul

Thursday, 7. June 2012 23:16

The state of your home is thought to be a reflection of your soul.  Is it any wonder then, that moving is stressful and disorienting even when you are going somewhere wonderful?   In some ways, sorting, cleaning, purging, reorganizing, packing and unpacking are like calisthenics for the soul.  These activities force you to shake things up, to rid yourself of unnecessary flab that may be weighing you down. So perhaps, a move now and then, (or at least a good spring-cleaning) may be beneficial, though strenuous, for the soul.

As I dug deeply into twenty years of accumulated possessions in preparation for a recent move to a smaller home, I had to make some hard decisions about what to keep and what to shed. It was difficult to part with some things that I no longer use – and I had to ask myself why I was clinging to them.     If the answer was that these items brought me joy or made my life more beautiful, I kept them.  If they did not, I realized that keeping them would prevent me from adding new things to my surroundings that could bring me more joy and beauty.  It wasn’t completely comfortable to let them go, but it was necessary, so I did.

Now as I walk into my new cozy abode, I feel lighter and shinier.  My hope for you is that you too find a way to make more space in your home (and your soul) for those things that bring you joy.

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