Thursday, January 26, 2012

Your name as a verb

Last night our chanting group Spiritsong met at my house. It is a blissful combination of shared food, deep sharing and singing. We have been meeting for several years and now meet once a season.
During the sharing one person was talking about her challenges with her adult son. I'll call him Dennis. The word that came into my mind was Dennising. What if everyone's name was a verb that meant we were being ourselves? What if all of my wonderful and horrible qualities could be expressed as Andreaing? What if all of your lovely and not so lovely qualities could be expressed as Janeing or Bobing or Harolding depending on your name. I have been using this and sharing it since last night. It takes the edge off of judgement and supports the truth that we are all just doing the best we can and just being who we are. All of it-(insert your own name as a verb where mine is) The fear, anger and grief- Andreaing. The joy, playfulness and detachment-Andreaing. The guilt,shame and envy-Andreaing. The self-love, self-acceptance and compassion-Andreaing.
What if it was all there to tteach us that it is possible to love ourselves with all of it? What if our unskillful behavior is a call for compassion? What if we have to be unskillful to activate compassion for ourselves. If we were always perfect how would we learn compassion? What if judgement is a call to come back into our circle and be with whatever is going on? So I am really getting that loving myself unconditionally means allowing myself to feel the felt sensation of whatever is going on inside me so it can be integrated. As I integrate more and more of my past unintegrated pain I experience more present moment awareness. Such a deal!
Sometimes the best teachers are the people we have the most difficulty with. I have a very difficult time with my sister. We have chosen very different defensive strategies to deal with the pain of growing up in our family. My sister chose aggression, I chose withdrawl. When I am around her aggression I shut my heart down and get small. My mother also did aggression so when my sister puffs up I regress to about four years old. I have been practicing showing up for myself in her presence. I have learned to keep my heart open and to protect myself from being emotionally vulnerable. Sometimes I am obsessively going over and over one of our interactions trying to figure out what I could have said to get her to soften and understand me. I also get very attached to being right. I am learning to pull my mind back to the present and experience the felt sensation of being misunderstood. It takes me back to being small and sad and scared. My world wasn't safe. It was hard to know when my mother would be kind and attentive and when she would be angry and mean and slapping me. It makes it hard to relax around other people. I often worry that I will do something wrong and piss them off. Lately in connecting with Andie, the little girl inside me, I am learning to be the source of my own safety. I can feel the felt sensation of being safe inside now. I am so grateful to know that safety is self-generated and no amount of outside approval or understanding will create it authentically. That doesn't mean I need to push support away. When I know I am the source of my own safety I'm not dependant on others to feel OK so it is easier to ask for help and let it in.
So my sister is the messenger of being afraid of aggresion and integrating my childhood fear. I can get the message and use our interactions to open to loving all of myself even the parts I find unacceptable. I can also create clear boundaries which I am learning to do. I can see my sister's aggression as Cyndeing. I can see her love for my Mom as Cyndeing. I can see her mastery of the material world as Cyndeing. I can see her defensiveness as Cyndeing. I can see her bossiness as Cyndeing. I can see her devotion to her dogs as Cyndeing. I can see her competence as Cyndeing. I can see that when Andreaing and Cyndeing get together sometimes it isn't pretty. And sometimes it is. Experiment with using your name as a verb and see what you notice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dismiss the messenger

Happy New Year. What a really mean is mad sad glad scared new year. Let's also throw in some acceptance of all there is and a little fun. My presence process statement this week is I integrate charged emotions. What that means is I have been commiting to the process of doing three steps when I am upset. The first is to dismiss the messenger. That means that instead of focusing on blaming the person who looks like the cause of my upset, I set blame aside and turn my attention instead to my own learning. At the start of my week off from work in Boulder I was very upset. I had the expectation that Gary was going to spend a lot of time with me even though I knew he was working. What I didn't count on was he had really bad headaches and when he was done working really wasn't up for playing with me. For the first three days I was frustrated and impatient and critical, blaming him for my not enjoying my vacation. By the fourth day I was ready to dismiss the messenger. I am slow with this process and it is challenging for me to let go of being right even when I am miserable because of it. Blaming Gary was getting me no where and was creating separation and ill will between us. In dismissing the messenger I opened to how I was creating my own frustration and dissatisfaction. It's funny how being willing to take responsibility for my own bad time opened up the space. It was as if I took a step out of being underneath a dark cloud and realized the sun had been shining all along just a few feet away. The next step is: get the message. The message is I'm not enjoying myself. The next step is feel unconditionally. I took some time to be quiet and to breathe into what was going on with me. I went back to being a little girl and waiting all afternoon for my father to come back from work. I would excitedly meet him at the door and my mom would say Don't bother your father yet. He is tired. Give him a little time to rest. After what seemed like hours my father would appear in the living room with his newspaper and would listen to me for a few moments until the newspaper would gradually start to inch up in front of his eyes. Soon all of his attention went to that newspaper. I felt like my father didn't care and that I wasn't important to him. I decided that there must be something wrong with me that the newspaper was more interesting than I was. I went off to stuff peanut butter into my mouth by sneaking up to the cupboard where it was stored and sticking my fingers and fist in the jar. In the present I showed up for that little girl who so craved her dad's attention and let her know that she mattered to me and it was all right to be sad. I told her that I wanted to hang out with her. I held her and suggested we go out and go for a walk. I let her know that even if Gary didn't have energy to play with us in the way we wanted, we could create our own vacation adventure. I began to make plans to do what I wanted to do being as active as I wanted to. We went to a differerent yoga class each day and made plans with a friend. I went to challenging yoga classes and really did the poses consciously, pushing beyond just going through the motions. I am passionate about yoga and it was fun! After doing all my active things during the day I came back to spend the evenings with Gary. He had energy to do quiet stuff together. We listened to relationship tapes, watched House, and read and talked a lot. I found my compassion for his headaches and we enjoyed each other. On New Years we went to a dancing party with a midnight clearing ritual and really had fun together. In taking charge of my vacation and really showing up for myself I came into the new year feeling strong and hopeful. That's what I wish for you. When it seems like someone else is really pissing you off take a moment to pause and ask yourself, What do I really need right now? Let go of trying to get the other person to make you feel better and focus on attuning to what you want in the moment. Dismiss the messenger, Get the message, feel unconditionally.
I am having such a growthful experience with The Presence Process this time. I highly recommend you check it out. It is written by Michael Brown. Be sure to get the revised edition which is more heartful than the first. If you do, feel free to let me know what your experience is.
Love to you, Andrea