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.

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Wednesday Words

Kindness quote + Quan YinThe habit of kindness gets easier with practice. Yet, sometimes, I’m astounded at how effortlessly I can withhold kindness from myself and others. You?

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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?

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Meditation Monday Day #100: Ta Da!

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 3.43.18 PM

Yay we did it!  I’m feeling quite good about this one hundredth day of meditation practice. 100 pats on the back, 100 butterfly kisses, 100 imaginary trumpets, and/or 100 bags of sparkles – whatever celebration floats your boat. Let’s just say, I’ve never been this consistent about meditation. Ever. Cue the dancing girls – wait, I am the dancing girl!

So what’s come out of it so far?

Beyond the bits of discovery about going in reverse to go forward, and finding new capacity for receiving compassion, which, by the way, would have been enough, I’ve noticed that when I don’t meditate I can feel the difference- big time. I didn’t really get that until this morning, when for the third day in a row I was avoiding sitting, and noticed that despite yoga practice, I’ve been weirdly ungrounded and unfocused for the past few days. Ding.

Yeah, “duh,” but instead of going down the beat myself up for not getting it sooner road (I know you know that one), I sat. And, ohm my goodness…the difference. There it was. I’ve leaped from meditation as an experiment in commitment and self-compassion into the realm of, this s–t is important to me.

So what now what? In anticipation of this day I’ve been thinking and poking around on the internet. I found the 21 Day Meditation Challenge with Deprak Chopra and Oprah (ChOprah?), which started in March, but can be downloaded for free anytime. Not my cup of tea, but could be yours. I found an old book on meditation and there’s some interesting meditation techniques in there that I might try, though this mindfulness mind training is pretty great.

Any suggestions of what I might try next?

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Standing at the Corner of Empathy and Compassion

Following up on yesterday’s post where I experienced Street Corner Compassion. It got me thinking…

Why compassion?

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”                                                                               Dalai Lama

I see Street Corner Compassion as an expression(s) of human kindness through commonplace actions in an ordinary setting.

Daniel Goleman, in an interview in Tricycle, reminds us that we are wired for empathy. He describes compassion as a the highest step in a natural emotional sequence that begins with paying attention, moves into empathy and culminates in compassion.

Street Corner Compassion is simple and easy.

Street corner compassion can be opening the door for a woman struggling with a stroller, bending down to help someone pick up spilled contents of a wallet, or asking the driver to wait for someone running for the bus. It might even look suspiciously like “good manners” if only politeness always grew out of empathy instead of feeling like disembodied rules of behavior handed down from authorities.

If Street Corner Compassion is so easy, why don’t we give and receive it more often?

First of all, you already give and receive compassion. I do. We all do. Sometimes we don’t even notice we’ve acted compassionately or we just don’t stop to name it. There are some things, though, that get in the way of more practice:

  • We’re busy. We tend to rush everywhere and when we’re not rushing we tend to be paying attention to the stream of thoughts running through our heads while looking at tweets, texts and FB. We forget to pause, to look in then out. Oh yeah, that.
  • Feeling someone’s pain (or elation, for that matter) can be overwhelming.
  • Without some skills to manage the overwhelm, we react by either hardening against out sensations, shutting them out or pushing them aside, or, we give up to apathy and confusion, “I don’t know where to start, there’s no way I can help everyone who needs it.”
  • We have expectations that true compassion ought to look different than the everyday kind, like it’s only good if it’s on the scale of Mother Teresa, or that terrific kid who delivers coats to the homeless all winter long.
  • We think we have to respond in a way that another part of us feels is more than we can handle – now what?

Since Street Corner Compassion makes a palpable difference for our collective well-being, it might be a good idea to learn some skills for managing overwhelm while we also learn to:

1. Notice/pay attention   2. Open our hearts to the experience of others  3. Consider actions that are life affirming for us and the other person/people.

Begin now. One of the best ways to start is with some kind of Mindfulness practice like yoga, meditation, or Focusing.

Iolanda Tanase, 8th Grade, appleton School

Iolanda Tanase, 8th Grade, Appleton School

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Street Corner Compassion and a Quantum Physics Moment

Wednesday 2.6.13 3:30 PM,  City of White Plains

My blue folder is gone. Papers are fluttering away. Born aloft by each new gust they travel first as a bunch, like a cloud of super-sized snowflakes, then disperse along  Mamaroneck Avenue only to move, again and again, in hiccups along the curb.

I’m surprisingly calm. I realize immediately that there’s not a whole lot I can do.  When the light changes and no cars are coming, I pick my way out into the street peeling index cards off the ground as I go.  I get close to one, it skitters. I get close again, it jumps away.   I see my alternative self  frantically grabbing at flying files like Bill Irwin chasing his hat in Popeye. But this me is methodical, serene even;  I know that I’ve been forced to let go of whatever was in the folder. The other me, she seems to exist simultaneously in a parallel universe – my very own Quantum Physics moment.

I’m not sure which are my papers or just other litter.  I bend to remove soggy slips stuck to the pavement while simultaneously checking for oncoming cars.  Unbelievably, everything I retrieve is mine.

The woman next to me asks, ” Was it important stuff?” “Some of it.” I say, smiling. Down the block, as I stand on some random piece of paper to still it, another woman says, ” I saw one of your papers go down the sewer.”

Now a man, a regular on street corners here, brings me a wad of papers. A young couple that barely speaks English hands me more. As I travel down the block more and more people are bending down to rescue my papers. I look in their eyes and thank them as I move along. After several blocks, I stop. It’s enough of looking for what’s missing as I’m too full, too grateful, for the uncomplicated compassion of total strangers and my own ability to be present in a new way, to care.

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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