Thursday, May 28, 2009

I don't want to

It is really hard to write tonight. I am leaving for Alamagordo to visit my Mom and sister tomorrow morning early. I still have to pack and water my lawn and I am very tired. Does it make sense to write this when I don't want to? I think it would be useful for me and maybe for you to take a mindful look at " I don't want to". Who do I listen to? It seems that the voice of my ego that tells me I don't have the energy and it's draining to write this blog. Furthermore my ideas aren't meaningful and noone reads this anyway. That critical tone tips me off to my ego.
I made an agreement to write this blog with myself and with you. I don't want to is the part of me that wants to rebel against my agreements and break them. Then I can tell myself that I'm not trustworthy. Sometimes if I'm quiet and go inside myself to my inner source I'll get that I want to change an agreement I have made. Changing that agreement is listening to that source. Not changing that agreement because I am worried that someone else will think I am a flake would be "I don't want to." It all depends on where it's coming from. Discerning the difference between the "I don't want to" that comes from the ego creating separation and the "this doesn't feel right. What is next?" that comes through guidance is an artful practice. Maybe a lifelong artful practice for me.
As I write, I notice I am energized in the way that expressing myself creatively reliably produces. Sometimes when I feel I don't have the energy to express myself creatively, I forget that the very act of creativity is anything but draining. I forget because of the part of me that would have me think that separating from my source is energizing. Eating when I'm not hungry isn't energizing regardless of what my ego tells me. I know I will probably continue to overeat when I am tired as I have been doing all this week. At least I know that
I am acting out a longterm pattern on automatic pilot. So," I want to" can also be motivated to create separatiion from the source or move us toward it. Sometimes the only way to tell the difference is to do something or not do something and see how it feels. Tonight eating when I wasn't hungry felt good in the moment and unsatisfying and draining afterwards. Telling myself that I was too tired to write this blog and eating when I wasn't hungry to give myself energy wasn't helpful. When I sat down to write and wrote from my heart about what I am experiencing right now that was helpful. Maybe what's important is to be mindful about "I want to" and "I don't want to" to see where we are coming from about it. The next step is to be compassionate and forgiving with ourselves about our choices.Slowing down and listening to the stillness within, where the voice of the source is more audible is our greatest challenge and our greatest blessing.

Monday, May 25, 2009

three marriages

I am so enjoying doing yoga with the couple I am working with. Private yoga lessons are a great way for me to contribute to a couple's relationship and to each of them as an individual. Yoga teaches presence and mindfulness in the body: skills that can help with the balance between engagement with the other and centeredness in the self. David Whyte just wrote a book called The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work,Self and Relationship. In it he talks about marriage as it is traditionally thought of being expanded to include two more marriages. The second one he discusses is the marriage to meaningful work. He talks about the importance of having work that is more than a job. Work can give us a greater sense of our own purpose in much the same way that an authentic relational partnership has the potential to do. The third marriage
is the marriage to our inner self. The self that we have to slow down to listen to. Maybe we even have to be silent to hear its voice. It's the self that when we pay attention to it and live our lives according to it, creates life being so much more than merely existing day to day. It is so easy to fill up my time with work, activities and relationships. At the end of the day, even though I've done yoga and meditated, it is possible to have gone through the motions and neglected to focus on the spiritual core that lives inside me. The third marriage and the quality of it determine the space available within us to participate genuinely in the other two marriages.Whyte posits that the models of our parents influence how we see partnerships and work. He also says that there is an innate drive within all humans to seek out engagement in work and relationships. I believe there is also an inner directing force of self-realization that moves all of us toward the third marriage. We may or may not pay attention to that force. We may or may not focus our attention on it. Yet it is still there calling us home. It asks us to be quiet and listen, it asks us to relax our bodies and our minds and surrender to it. Often when we don't listen, it gets a little more demanding. When I don't listen and don't rest I have often injured myself and I sometimes eat compulsively. What have you typically done? Do you get sick? Do you act out in some kind of addictive or compulsive behavior or other? What else do you do when your energy is firmly rooted away from being present with that still small voice? What are we running away from?
What are we so afraid of? I think our egoes are afraid of connection. When we are engaed and connected with ourselves, work and each other the ego fears its own death and moves us toward separation.
We become defensive, self-destructive and urgently busy.Mindfulness of this fear is the first step toward freedom. If I notice I am acting one-up with Gary and instead of getting lost in my story of what's wrong with him, I soothe myself with my own presence, I am honoring my desire for an equal partnership with him. I can then also reconize my intention to use the desire to criticize him as a signal that I need my own attention.I am experiencing some progress in this area. When i give myself my own attention and center myself in my inner child care center i can cop to my self-righteous criticism. That allows me to be softer and more open and to feel closer to and more trusting with Gary. He feels safe to be closer and more emotionally vulnerable when I am.
In practicing yoga with a couple I can support them with honoring their committment to a healthy partnership. Practicing yoga teaches people to honor themselves and to create healthy boundaries with other people. I want to do more yoga privates with more couples. It is such a rich combination of all the things I came here to do. It supports me in all the three marriages, thus I can support others in reimagining all of them.
Where are you in your three marriages? Where would you like to be?
Is there a way to lovingly accept where you are and open to what the next step might be?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bliss bit

This from Svaroopa yoga with some help from my imagination: Bliss bits. The bliss bit for this month is the yogic sigh. This sigh is different from the commom variety exasperated sigh and bears no resemblance to the sad expiration of resignation.
Inhale deeply so that your chest and stomach and back are filled up. Imagine a time when you felt joyful and satisfied even if only for a moment. Let your expiration out with a sigh remembering that time. Inhale deeply again opening your heart, your stomach and your spine from bottom to top. Exhale with a sigh and think of something or someone you feel grateful for. Let yourself experience this sigh of gratefulness filling your heart. The third sigh is breathers choice. You can breathe in peace and sigh out stress. You can breathe in the desire to release toxins and sigh out those toxins. You can use your brilliantly creative imagination to make up the content of your third sigh or just sigh for the sheer fun of it. When I do these three yogic sighs it is like giving myself permissiion to feel joy and to do my lungs' own little happy dance. These graceful sighs start out with a higher pitch and slide down to a lower one. It is relaxing and I feel more peaceful. It is fun to reframe something I have attached a sad story to. Maybe it would be like farting for approval. Strip off that story and sigh your way to contentment. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!
I am realizing that the opposite of doing it wrong is relaxing. For so long I thought it was doing it right. When I am relaxed it isn't important to prove that I am an asshole by convincing myself of my inherent inadequacy and incompetence. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh Relaxing! When I am more relaxed I get my inherent lovability so much more. When I am relaxed it is easier to receive love and acceptance from myself and others.What helps you relax? Would you be willing to say or do or think whatever that might be to nurture yourself toward more relaxation. Ahhhhhhhhhhh a sigh of self-acceptance and of being glad to be me. Life is good. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh a bit of bliss.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Him Why Her

In an article in the latest issue of the magazine, Psychotherapy Networker, Helen Fisher writes about biological temperament. She has done extensive empiracle research and has determined four main temperaments each influenced by a group of inherited genes. Explorers are influenced mainly by the spectrum of the neurotransmitter dopamine. They tend to be adventurous, to take risks, to seek novelty, to have heightened energy, curiosity, creativity, mental optimism, enthusiasm, mental flexibility.
Indidviduals who have inherited traits in the serotonin system tend to be calm, cautious, social, but not fearful, persistent, loyal, fond of rules and facts and orderly.They are good at bringing people together and at building social networks. She calls these men and women Builders. Testerone is the predominant chemical for a group of people Fisher calls Directors. These people tend to be direct, focused , decisive, analylitical, logical, tough-minded, emotionally contained and good at strategic thinking. The forth type, influenced by the chemical estrogen, she calls negotiators.Negotiators are people who are intuitive, tend to see the big picture, are imaginative, display superior verbal skills, and are emotionally expressive and altruistic.According to Fisher, these biological temperaments determine everything from our choice of residence to our choice of mates. She posits from her extensive research that although people have all four types within them they lead with first and secondary traits. In choice of mates, she says that Explores and Builders tend to pick mates similar to themselves and directors and negotiators tend to pick mates who are opposite of themselves. Hence the, opposites attract and birds of a feather flock together, both being true for different people. Helen Fisher identifies herself as primarily Explorer and secondarily negotiator. When I first read the explorer description, I thought, that is me. Reading the Builders, I resonated very little. I could see some of the director in me especially when I was younger and more aggressive. Then I read the negotiator and really saw myself.I think I would describe myself as negotiator first and then explorer.From what you've read where would you put yourself? This is a very simplistic explanation of a very complex idea that I am fascinated with. Google Helen Fisher's book Why Him Why Her to find out more.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


One of my readers told me about this RSS thing you can google and sign up for. It lets you know when a new post has been written on a site you are following. Check it out if you want to put my blog on it and know when I have written a new one. I am writing twice a week on the weekdays.
Today I have received numerous reminders about choice. This one was from Cheri Huber:
We always have a choice. "I can't" is what we say in order to keep pretending that we're not responsible. Here is a definition of perfect trust: People will always do what they want to do.
I can pretend that I am a victim of circumstance. It's true that shit happens and I am in charge of how I react to that. When I embrace what is, there is less suffering. Phillip Moffitt in his book dancing with life talks about the difference between desire and craving. Desire is when you want something and craving is when you are attached to the outcome about having the desire. A desire can be for things to stay the way they are or for things to change. A desire can be for more of something like money or less of something like lonliness. Desire is an integral part of being human. Attachment to desire or craving is an integral part of suffering. Desire is juicy, craving is limiting. Craving cuts off my options of life showing up in a way that doesn't fit my pictures. I choose what to do with my desires. The first step is to make a choice to be mindful of when I am caught in a craving. I get caught in craving about crossing things off my to-do list. I often feel the need to do one more thing as I am leaving to go somewhere and then I have to drive with urgency to get there on time. Sometimes I want to accomplish too many things and I want to go to sleep by 10. If I get stuck in craving to do my laundry at 9:30, like I am right now, it is a set up to not be in bed by 10. I think the difference between desire and craving is if I think I need to have something or do something or be something to be OK. If I can't be OK and do my laundry another time or be OK and not get to sleep by 10 then I am stuck in craving.
It is important to remember that I chose what I do with my desires and whether I use them to support feeling satisfied with myself or dissatisfied.
My desire is to allow my life force to flow through me so that I am in touch with the truth of my heart.
I want to have my actions in the world support that truth. I also want to forgive myself when I miss the mark. I chose to cut myself some slack and to cut others some slack too. That is the difference between desire and craving. How about you? What do you notice about desire and craving? What do you chose?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I notice that it is easier for me to write because I am less self-conscious. I think that is because I am judging myself less and therefore, projecting that judgement less on to other people. I am thinking less about what you are thinking about me. That gives me more space to write what I came here to write. It is use ful to be mindful of how I am less self-conscious and more willing to be myself with other people.
Writing a blog is a very interesting experience because I don't know who is reading this or even if anyone is reading it. I am trusting that it is useful for me to be writing it and useful to those who are reading it.
The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery
Mark Van Doren
I hope that in the experience of reading this blog I am asisting you in discovering something about yourself and your life. I hope that out of reading about my challenges with my process you are learning to be gentler with yourself. It is my wish that hearing about my life and what I go through will help you to have more compassion for yourself. Maybe you will say to yourself," Well if she can learn to be with strong emotions, I can too." or maybe, " If she can deal with self-criticism and fears and doubts that I think I am crazy or messed up when I am going through, maybe I am not so crazy or as messed up as I thought." or maybe this blog is helpful because it makes you think about things you may not have been willing to think about before or to think about them in a different way. I'd like to use my blog to encourage you to consider and practice that it's Ok to be authentic with others about your process. It is a way to create safety and intimacy with people who are willing to be authentic back.
I would like to know if this format of writing twice a week is working for the people who are reading it. I have also thought of creating an e-mail list and sending it to people when I write. I would love some feedback.
I am getting ready to do my first private yoga session with a couple. I am excited and anxious. I am getting prepared as much as I can and then trusting that I know enough to assist them in their discovery. Part of what I know is to get out of my own way. The ego voice that tells me I am doing it wrong distracts me from being present , if I focus on it.
When I hear it, if I can be mindful that it is my ego distracting me from being present and bring myself back, I can use it to be more present with myself. Then there is more chance for me to actually show up for this couple and teach them about yoga. Yoga is the union of body mind and breath. What I have to offer is my journey of working with uniting my body, mind and breath. If I remember that I teach what I most need to learn I am grateful for the opportunity to learn mindfulness and compassion through my work. Someone told me to imagine how much my students want me to do a good job when I am teaching. They aren't waiting to see how I will mess up and trying to prove how little I know. My students are looking for a positive experience and looking to me to show them the way. That is comforting. It is true for me when I am a student. If I remember my spiritual path that helps too. It is trust in God, do my part and let go of the outcome. I have prepared for this yoga lesson, I am willing to trust in God to support me and my students in this learning and I know that the outcome will be what it is, regardless of whether it fits my pictures or not.
I love teaching yoga and want to do more of it. I am grateful for the opportunity to practice yoga with other people and to learn and grow together. We are each the student and the teacher. It is useful to notice that I am less self-conscious and more willing to be myself when I am teaching yoga. The more mind-ful and compassionate I can be about my ego voice the less self-conscious I become. Focusing on recognizing that process makes it easier to notice progress.
Dear readers, thank you for being both student and teacher to me. I appreciate being able to share my process with you and to learn and grow together.
Do you notice you are any less self-conscious? Maybe you could do a research study to notice the times in your daily life when you are more comfortable being more of yourself with other people.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

difficult emotions

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are mothers, have mothers and/or are mothering yourself. I get to go to my favorite hot springs and my daughter who is going on a girls' weekend nearby will come vist for Mother's Day. It will be good to have a lovely long weekend in my favorite sanctuary.

Difficult emotions are divine fertilizer enriching and accelerating our spiritual growth. Peter Williams
I just finished an article about handling difficult emotions like fear, anger and grief. In these challenging times these emotions are everywhere.
We usually do everything we can to avoid such states, but when we are running from them, they are running us. How can we skillfully meet these emotions without denial or wallowing? Denial is pretending that everything is fine when it is clearly not fine. Suppressing these states of mind drains energy and can express itself in body ailments or depression or anxiety. Stuffed emotions can also cause insomnia and lack of sleep has its own difficulties. When I am stuffing something and not sleeping well, it is not pretty. Some people handle sleep deprivation better than others. I resemble the wicked witch of the east after two nights of less than enough sleep. Many people stuff their difficult emotions under various addictive substances including over-spending, drugs and alcohol and food. My ego loves stuffed emotions. The ego grows in power the more I am stuffing my feelings. When I am not centered because there is something going on that I don't want to feel, I am much more vulnerable to my inner critic.
The first step , as always, is mindfullness. Noticing I am behaving in a way that seems to indicate I am stuffing feelings is the first step. Compassion is the second step. Validate that you must need some attention from yourself if you are acting out. Say to yourself kindly, "I am here for you with whatever you are feeling." Ask yourself,"What is going on with me if I am acting in the ways I typically act when I am stuffing difficult emotions. Begin to explore your inner sensations both physically and emotionally. Use your breath to breathe into whatever you encounter inside. See if you can give yourself permission to experience what you are experiencing. Stay with yourself even if you are pulled to distract yourself. When we turn toward them, anger, fear and grief can not only be workable but have much wisdom and energy to offer. Showing up for ourselves in the face of these emotions and allowing them to release gives us confidence in our own abilities to use them to deepen our relationship with ourselves. You know how when someone else makes themselves emotionally vulnerable with you in an authentic way the intimacy between you deepens. The same is true internally. The more we can accept anger, fear and grief as natual parts of being human beings the more space we create inside ourselves. There is more room in our hearts for us to be all that we are. It's all one faucet. When we allow the faucet to be open to the so-called difficult feeling states we create more space for joy. My plan is to devote some time over the weekend to be with myself and explore my inner faucet. How about you?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mind chatter

I'd like to write about mind chatter. My mind is chattering so loud right now that I forgot what I wanted to write about. Being aware of the messages I was giving myself about not remembering what I wanted to write about allowed me to remember what I wanted to write about. When we bring mindfulness to our inner judge it takes the edge off of the criticism.So my inner judge can say," this is boring. Noone wants to hear what you are writing about. Noone reads this anyway." Instead of buying what the voice is saying and spinning into a story about how I should do something different,
I listen. When I listen, it pauses. When I bring the witness to the inner judge and stop trying to get it to shut up or argue with it, there is a space created. As I listen without an agenda, it runs out of steam. Eventually it runs out of steam. sometimes that takes longer than others. I can chose to make myself wrong about that or accept my pacing as it is. Lately, when I recognize my inner critic telling me I am doing it wrong, I say, "Thank you for sharing. " I used to say that line sarcastically and lately I have begun to feel a genuine gratitude for the opportunity to listen and be mindful. We need awareness of the ego to disidentify from the ego. My doing it wrong voice is really an opportunity to develop the inner witness.
When I was on my meditation retreat, I was hiking up the side of a hill. I realized that I hadn't been aware of my, "You are doing it wrong voice", all morning. I had the thought, "I wonder if I can handle being this happy or if something will happen. The next step I took my foot slipped and I lost my balance and fell and tumbled backward until I was stopped by hitting my head on a tree. I was banged up and sore and shook up. It was scary to be alone . After I figured out I was going to be OK, I felt some amusement at what had happened. I was aware in a very concrete way how challenging it is for me to be happy. The awareness of releasing my focus on listening to my inner critic was very uncomfortable. It's almost as if I don't know who I am when I'm not identifying what I am doing wrong. Gay Hendricks has written a book called, Upper Limits. I haven't read it yet. I've only read a discussion of the content. He is writing about how hard it is for us to allow ourselves to feel really good and how creative we about getting in our own way. So the first step is to listen to the chatter of our mind undefensively. Undefensively means listening without denying arguing or folding. Are there any patterns about what it is chattering about? Is there a core belief or statement that is a theme? I notice that the opposite of doing it wrong is not doing it right. That is only the other part of the right/wrong duality. Using "doing it wrong to let myself know I am focused on my inner critic, allows me to use the message to bring myself back to my center. Being present in my center, doing it wrong, is an inner criticism, to be noticed and witnessed. Ah so, self-judgement, "Thank you for sharing". I hear you. I am here listening. The witness watches and learns. She just smiles , rubs her chin and feels curious.
What do you notice about your inner mind chatter? If you notice any patterns you can write them down and then when you hear the patterns you can label them without judging yourself for judging? Can you begin to activate or continue to allow your witness to undefensively listen?