Monday, May 6, 2013

Basic Goodness

There has been a feeling of uncertainty arising when I consider posting my blog entries of late.  It is a familiar feeling; one that hits at my deepest level of fear that what I have to say will be rejected or dismissed as unimportant.  It is strange to send my private musings out into a cyber world, never knowing unless I get a response (rarely, thus far), whether anyone other than the mechanical web crawlers will access them.  Worse will someone see them an think me a fool, or not worth their consideration.  All of my judging parts rise like primitive hairs on the back of my neck, bristling with defensiveness and reasons not to allow myself such vulnerability.  Yet if I don't take the risk, I will never complete my goal - that of sharing what I know and experience in my rare privilege of access to the deeper workings of trauma and human development.  In fact, my very hesitation is a prime example of how we are shaped by the meanings we absorb from personal (and universal?) interactions.  Old messages about limitations of worth; undeserving-ness of attention; self-obsession; light under the bushel basket, and all that.  Those are the big T and little t traumatic meaning that many of us carry, affecting how we participate and who we are. 

The meditation group I started attending last Autumn has been a factor in my concerns.  Confusing messages about the illusion of separateness and the limitations of ego have me questioning myself even further.  Still, I am where I am in my journey, and there are signs from those I speak with and work with that tell me I have something unique to offer, a perspective informed by training and experience.  We all have something unique to offer, and I am resolved to put it out there in hopes that it makes a difference, and that you, reader, will receive it, as I will take in what you have to offer, in a spirit of open acceptance.

Yesterday there was a message from the teacher of our Shambhala group, declaring May 7 (tomorrow) to be "basic-goodness day."  What a lovely idea, and one I get the opportunity to share, here and in my interactions with students and clients, perhaps some shopkeepers, and certainly my family and friends.  The day offers a challenge, and answers my question about whether what I have to offer is of value.  As one element of our enlightened (and enlightenable) society, I recognize my basic goodness.  I recognize the basic-goodness that is in you, and I trust that you will hear me without judgment.  If so, maybe you could take a moment to let me know what you think, I'd like to hear from you.

We declare May 7, 2013 to be Basic Goodness Day, a day when people all over the world, no matter what their beliefs, religion,culture, or creed, collectively affirm their own and others’ basic goodness.

For more information on Basic Goodness Day click here:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shining Through

My posting has slowed over the winter.  Other things keep getting in the way, and the dreary Midwestern weather of the last few weeks has felt like we are in a holding pattern of gloom.  Still there are moments of inspiration, like a trip to sunny southern shores, and special times with friends and family.  Those moments need to be held and expanded on, to counter the gloom.

The author of "Buddha's Brain," Rick Hanson, tells us that we human beings have a "negativity bias."  We are hardwired to attend to what makes us feel unhappy or unsafe.  This tendency is biologically driven, as our brains try to guide us away from what might be harmful, yet it demands that we engage in practices that emphasize and highlight the positive in order to clearly view our environment.  Allowing this tendency toward negative awareness to passively populate our view of  "reality" with fear and loss, is a sure way to dwell in discontent.  A terrible waste of opportunity for meaning-making, and a recipe for depression and anxiety, especially in these days of information overload from news sources that have the same negativity bias on a global scale.

Instead of giving our natural bias full reign, why not lean into the positive.  Slow down and attend to the small miracles of every moment.  You don't have to look far, just look.  Hold the positive experiences for a few extra moments to give your brain time to engage them.  Let yourself access balance and truth, in contrast to this overblown biological imperative to safety.  Unless you truly engage in this effort, approaching with calm, and expanding into the meaning of those "miracle moments," they may slip away, never having registered in your internal accounts, to balance positive to negative events and experiences. 

I love taking photographs of children and nature.  Photography offers one way to hold and connect with those most miraculous of human experiences.  More recently I have developed (pun intended) a practice of taking "mental snapshots" of the full, embodied event and vision of a particular moment.  I find that those images are readily available for review, complete with the sense of reverence and joy that they originally offered, when I need that reminder.  The rainbow around the moon on a Jamaican beach; the storybook castle wall in Tuscany; the first meeting with my sweet grandbaby; those moments and images along with many others are held in my mental store of reasons for gratitude. 

As Springtime approaches, take the challenge to open yourself to the positives.  They may take more time and effort, but a practice of appreciation will offer lasting opportunity to build a storehouse of strength. 
Pretty soon you will notice sunlight shining through fading winter gloom, and like the changing seasons, you will discover opportunities for new growth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Many Roads to Mindfulness

Options for accessing mindfulness are as many and varied as are the individuals who seek to open up to such growth-enhancing experiences.  A general grouping of such practices might fall under the following headings.  

·     Meditation:  Practiced since ancient times, attention to one’s experience of internally directed consciousness has long been considered a primary path to enlightenment.  Whether sound driven (chanting, listening to chimes), or silent contemplation; emptying the mind or filling it with a single-minded focus, or; non-attached awareness of moment to moment experiencing; meditative practices continue be a cornerstone of many spiritual traditions. 

·         Yoga & Body Therapies:  Since body and mind are one interconnected entity, any process that allows for non-judgmental awareness of one’s internal and external state is by definition a mindful state.  With such attention almost any focused activity, be it sensory (listening to birdsong or music, studying a flower’s petals, savoring a favorite food, healing massage), or movement (dance, tai-chi) based can result in a sense of present moment calm.

           Artistic Expression:  Symbols speak volumes.  The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true, not only for representative artworks, but, perhaps even more so, for the abstract and personal expression of inner conflicts and celebrations of self.  Even practical arts like weaving and textiles work can offer solace in their very rhythm and FLOW, at a level of unconscious expression, opening one to creativity and meaning.

·         Self-Leadership:  Internal Family Systems Theory (i) offers an open-ended structure for accessing internal guidance, and for encountering and negotiating with protective parts (even those which may have been mistaken for negative influences).  This example of internal and external compassion offers a methodology for advancing self-awareness and self-leadership based upon internally held knowledge and experience.  How much more wise and safe an option is this than an externally introduced overlay of someone else’s “truth?”

These are but a few of the many choices available for the free expression of internal conflicts and transformation of meaning.  Alone or in combination, such practices will enhance your recovery process in ways unique to your own journey and unfolding.

[i] Schwartz, R., (1995)

Friday, January 4, 2013

The New Year Reboot

My blogging has lagged over the Holiday season.  Instead my time went to cleaning house, preparing menus and meals, and making or buying gift items for my loved ones.  I would venture a guess that you, too, reader, have been doing much the same sorts of activities.  These December rituals have come to define what we love, and sometimes dread about the season.  Yes, it is distracting, and often exhausting, but there is a purpose to these predictable disruptions at the end of each year.  They shape our lives with time to pause and express our appreciation of otherwise routine activities, and offer a reminder to reach out to others in our appreciation of them.

Ritual is a way to make the everyday sacred.  In the hectic day-to-day of life, it becomes essential to slow things down and engage with our environment.  Taking time to note beauty in surprising places creates opportunity to ground oneself, not only in the external factors but in the felt relationship with those surroundings. 

By engaging "ordinary miracles" within each day, we attain connection to the energetic qualities available in that moment.  Remember to note opportunities in your day for such potential connection: the sound of a warming teakettle; the crunch of frosted earth underfoot as you walk through the world with a loved one; watching children at play; each in its own way a sacred event.  When the positive energies in such moments are embodied, they result in calm, healing moments in our lives.  Indeed, such times are likely to attract further positives to their practice and presence providing us with further opportunity to engage the world as a pathway to a life of Healing FLOW.

Now that the decorations have been boxed up for next year, and the leftovers have been consumed, make a choice to celebrate each new day with the enthusiasm and appreciation of our annual efforts.  An attitude of curiosity and positive expectations can open up avenues to fulfillment.  So Happy New Day, everyone!