Meditation Monday: I need a mom…

middle pillar“I’m not tired.” Remember being five and insisting you weren’t tired even as you were crying for no apparent reason or running around like a crazed chipmunk?

I do. And, I remember being on the mommy side of this moment too; knowing that I needed to insist that it was “time for bed” because my little one just couldn’t figure it out for herself.

This week I did everything to not meditate. Well, it seemed like everything… I was cranky, uncomfortable, tired, distracted – looking everywhere for relief, except to the one thing that would bring me back to me.

It happens.

Luckily, after a few days of flailing Meditation Mommy came to visit. She’s the part of me who remembers to take care of me when the rest of me forgets. She has all the qualities I need:

  • A squishy lap: softness
  • Hugs: warmth
  • Loves me when I’m a mess (or think I am): acceptance
  • Sparkly blue eyes: aliveness
  • Unlimited ability to listen: empathy
  • Nowhere else to go: patience
  • Holds the superpower of Yes: trust
  • Knows what I need: wisdom

She took me gently by the hand and steered me to the mat. She insisted (kindly, of course) that I sit, “Just for a few minutes.” Assuring me that,       “After you’re done you can go back to any craziness you choose.” So I did. And then, of course, I didn’t.

You can sign up for occasional emails with tips and tools for self coaching and more, just click moveintochange.com  Then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

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Wednesday Words

“Often we treat certain aspects of ourselves as junk, having no value. We try to throw parts of ourselves in the garbage. But a human being is an ecosystem, and everything in that system is of value to the whole.”

– Stephen Schwartz.

hole-in-heartAre you abandoning the parts you don’t like? At what cost? What if you could learn to include all of you?

You are always welcome to poke around at Move Into Change. If you’re ready,  let’s see if we can work together.

Wednesday Words

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change… I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back….”
                                                                                                     Erica Jong     takingtheplunge1

Wednesday Words

Sometimes in life it is the smallest gestures of self-compassion that make the greatest impact on your life.                                                                                                 JG

3829Artwork by Angeline Dannecker  Grade 5

She says, “I chose the color pink because it reminds me of love. I made a sculpture of a good heart because it is like a stone in the ripples of a beautiful life.”

The Appleton Compassion Project http://www.appletoncompassion.org

Ask Judy #7 Fear: Part 1

miners hat“I want you to write a post about fear,” says Kate, as we step into the ink-black tunnel. She’s getting ready to work with a fear that comes up every time she tries to take this step. She wants the comfort of seeing some written guidance, some validation too.

(We’re really in her office, but I imagine us going forward into that forbidding darkness together, miner’s high-beams like third eyes, lighting the way).

So here’s some of what I know – Part 1.

It’s a truth that dealing with fear is ultimately something we experience alone. No one can do it for us. And because of that, we never have to do it; there can be no coercion.

Anyone telling you that you have to face your fear(s) may think they are helping you but they are not. They may believe that if you did (face your fears) you would be happier and they could be right. They may love you and want that for you, but they are not you and you have to be ready. Ready, and in charge of your own process – always.

 Because working with fear is internal  (it’s about you being with you) the work is in your hands. Happily, there are techniques to be learned and help to be had. An empathetic presence of someone else as your companion and guide can make all the difference. With these tools your “hands” grow kinder and will hold more with greater ease than you ever imagined. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself (again).

In Fear: Part 2  I discuss what makes it so difficult to deal with fear. Until then, you might want to give this activity a go (or not):

  • Identify a time you knew you were afraid.
  • Write a list of the sensations that helped you identify what you felt as being “fear.”
  • With all the self-kindness you can possibly stand, and the most honesty you can muster, list how you reacted to it. Here are some questions to play with:

What thoughts came up when you realized you were afraid?

What did you do?

What did you feel about yourself when you handled it this way?

Is this the usual way, or have you ever handled fear differently?

Play lightly, experiment, no outcome required.

Interested in coaching? Read more at  Move Into Change.com

You are here.

No, not literally at the Adelbert but, they have one of these maps at the outlet mall in Lee, MA where I’ve been known to spend many an afternoon. The mall is weirdly laid out, so without the directory map, it would be impossible to know that in order to go from Just Socks to Calvin Klein, you have to go through the food court into the mystery passage next to Cinnabons. I told you it was weird.

Anyway, I’m driving to see a client today and I’m feeling a bit snippy.  Come to think of it, I’ve been snippy all day.  I  wonder how I can be fully present for my client if I’m like this, so I begin to use some of my practices.

The snippyness feels tight in my chest, more like resentment now. I have choices; I can go into default mode from the past; tell myself that I can’t be feeling this right now and push it down and to the side, secretly wondering if it will surface when I least want it to, or,  I can spend some time with it, acknowledge it and promise to make a safe place for it to wait, so I can come back later when I have more time.

So proud of myself for opting out of default mode and thrilled at how easily the new choices came (Yay growth!).

Only it didn’t work.

This snippy part of me was having none of it. It needed attention – now! It was having a mini tantrum; a fists waving, feet stomping,now Now NOw NOW fit! Okay, Okay, I say with my hand on my heart, I’m all ears, what do you want me to know?

It turns out that last weekend, when my workshop was cancelled (just the day before- ack) due to a plumbing problem at the venue, I skimmed over my disappointment to address the practical matters (emails to participants, rescheduling, getting deposit back, etc.). And, I was all about the silver lining. Hey now I can tell more people about it, and I’ll have time to write some more teaching stories (say this in a chirpy bad customer service rep voice).

Yes, but I  didn’t notice the frustrated part that was  let down, or at least, not enough.  I had been so excited and then – nada – and that part just didn’t get its due. So, I  get to learn (again) just how important it is to meet myself where I am.

It’s kind of hard to get from Calvin Klein back to the car (hopefully with a new sweater) if I don’t know that I’m still in Just Socks. I am HERE (at disappointed). Nice to meet me.

Benefits of doing the work I did…

Instead escalating the feelings (which is a worry I have), giving the sensation the attention it needed, listening to it, actually dissipated its intensity. Then, coming back later, in case there was more, felt possible. By talking to “it”  I was able to use the mature other parts of me to dialogue with it, which in turn, let me know that I was much larger than this sad part. I felt confident and calmer; a great place from which to meet my client where he was.

AND – new date for the workshop, Listening From Your Body of Knowledge for Parents is  Oct. 19th. We’ll learn more of the  skills I talk about on this blog. You can check it out and sign up – click photo- if it looks like your kind of thing.

Ask Judy #4: The Problem With “Why” or Try a Little Tenderness

“Why” is a fantastic question. So, this post isn’t an effort to remove it from our language, or anything remotely like that. Lately though, I’ve been listening to how some of us use Why questions against ourselves, against other people or situations, mostly unknowingly, or let’s say, unintentionally.

For example, I have a client who has just begun to notice the power of her inner critters (critics). She has become aware of how difficult it is for her to accept acknowledgment from others, or celebrate her own strengths and accomplishments – big or small.

I’ll stop here and state how cruddy it is to want to feel good and to then notice the pattern of perpetuating the not feeling good. Ouch, yuck, and – what use is self awareness if I still feel cruddy anyway? Oh yeah, I know this one really well.

Back to my client, call her Teresa. Teresa wants things in her life to change. She wants out of the patterns that she sees are holding her back. And, she’s in that place where she’s sick of the old, but when she starts to get a glimpse of the new (and how to go about taking small steps to change her pattern) the Why questions start.

Why do I have this pattern?” Why don’t I just change already? Why do I always do this? And, my all time favorite, “Why, if I can see what’s wrong, don’t I just act on what I know?”

That last question can be the subject of this blog for the rest of my life, so let’s leave it alone for now and move on to, the problem with why. Don’t get me wrong, finding out  why a pattern began is valuable work. But, have you noticed that the Why questions above (or substitute your own)  really aren’t about loving inquiry into what might be under a pattern, but more of, well, blaming?

Mostly blaming ourselves.

Why, in this context, is about looking for what’s Wrong.  Under the guise of figuring it out, we look for the bad, or really, who’s been bad (and guess who that turns out to be?). And, on top of that, we’ve  convinced ourselves that answering the question will bring us the relief we seek. In my experience, this doesn’t happen. The answer isn’t in the reason, but in the relationship with the reason, but that’s also a subject for a future blog potentially titled, “Needing to Know.”

Back to Why. When working with young children, I learned pretty early that, why, as in, “Why did you hit johnny with that truck?” goes nowhere productive. When you ask why in that situation here’s what happens:

  • Jenna, who hit Johnny with the truck, may not know why.
  • Asking why makes Jenna feel stupid, confused and possibly humiliated that she doesn’t know, ’cause if you’re asking her, the expectation is that she should know.
  • AND, she probably hit Johnny because she was scared, angry, or hurt and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
  • That’s pretty overwhelming as it is, and Why from an adult just scares her more.
  • Scared = flight, fight or freeze.
  • The answers you will get at this point are; stone faced silence, running away, “I don’t know” or some version of, it was Johnny’s fault.

See how that works? This post is too long already, so I won’t go into what might be happening for Johnny.

We aren’t much different from Jenna except that now we get to be both scared child and interrogator.  Asking why, when we’re feeling terrible just adds to the confusion and/or self-loathing we already feel.  We think we “should” know, we “should” be able to do something about it and we “shouldn’t”  try anything new (or fall back while we’re learning) unless we can know why there’s a problem in the first place.  Gaaaah.

The first thing to do here is the opposite of analyzing the problem. Why can’t help us here. But tenderness can.  Finding some intentional practice of listening to ourselves with tender regard, as we would hold a tiny seedling that we need to re-pot, or watch a bird hatch from its egg, can bring relief. From here, we are free to know more about what we might really need to do to move forward.

There are lots of great practices to investigate. You might try Exploring the Perimeter, it’s a good start. When I’m really desperate, I pick a part of my body I feel pretty neutral about – like my thumbs- and I sense them (eyes closed) with as much patient gentleness as I can possibly stand for as long as I can.

Listening to Otis singing Try A Little Tenderness here couldn’t hurt either.

Even Though…

Aside

Yesterday, a new friend invited me to an art class that she thought I might like. It sounded great, a lot like one recommended to me by an ex- friend years ago. Sadly, this past friendship ended badly-very badly- and  I thought my ex-friend might show up there. So, I shared my story with my new friend. I told her about the shame I felt at having handled some of that situation poorly, and my regret for not knowing then how I could have handled it better.

This is what my new friend said, “If she hates you, that’s her problem. Just let it go.”

Now, I know this new friend was trying to be supportive. She did tell me first that she’d had similar feelings. And, I recognize that the words she said to me were probably what she says to herself. Maybe they give her courage and she hoped they would do the same for me. I don’t know.

Was my new friends advice good advice? Yes.

Would letting it go be a good idea? Sure.

Is it true that my ex-friend is responsible for her own feelings. Yeah.

But.There are a few problems with this.

For starters, I wasn’t asking for advice. What I really wanted was empathy, which was just what she offered, at first. I wish she’d stopped there or asked me if she could give some advice.Since I really like this person, let’s pretend she did, and that I said yes.

Her advice is still problematic, though. Here’s why.

Telling someone to just let go is like reminding a laboring woman in the transition stage to relax. Good luck with that. Yes, more relaxation = less pain. And true, on the other side of letting something go is freedom. But telling someone  words of wisdom doesn’t actually help, does it? If all it took was reminding ourselves to __________(you fill in the blank), we’d all be doing it already – we’re not stupid. To add to the pain of whatever it is I’m reacting to, when I hear something like that and know I can’t do it, I just feel worse about myself. Ew.

So, we know what we want, we’re also hooked/stuck/your word here,and we haven’t internalized skills that truly help us. There’s a reason that Lamaze classes (or any other method) exist. When women are in the throes of labor pain, they’ve had some training to get through it, to contain it. And, they usually have a partner there to remind them what to do, and do it with them when the pain becomes overwhelming. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but the point here is that there’s training to be had. There are practices to be, er… practiced, that can eventually get to the letting go part.

One place to start is with, Even though…

Give yourself 5 minutes alone. Anywhere will do. Take some deep breaths. Sigh a couple of times. Check into your body and see what emotion or sensation you notice. Write the words “even though” then leave some space blank and then write “it’s okay to” on a piece of paper. This is your permission slip: permission to acknowledge whatever feeling you are having. You can add on in writing – or not- something like this “Even though I’m busy, it’s okay to notice this ______________(pain, tingling, anger, fluttering, anxiety, judgement, etc.).” Or, my example: Even though I want to go to this art class, it’s okay to notice some dread there too.

Did you notice we were sitting in and practicing permission too - sneaky me.