Thursday, October 5, 2017

personality strategies

I recently learned a helpful tool for understanding myself and others.  It came from Jonathan Ellerby who leads Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality. He talks about four kinds of people:

Correctors spend a great deal of time and energy noticing what's wrong and letting other people know  what they notice whether their critiques and feedback are asked for or not.
Protectors spend a great deal of time and energy protecting other people from what they perceive to be discomfort or pain and suffering whether what they are doing is actually helpful to the other person or not. This style can be a classic enabler at a time when helping another can be disempowering and not helpful.
Objectors disagree with everything and anything, arguing and standing up for the opposite of whatever opinion or idea is being expressed. They may think of themselves as a devil's advocate. However, others may perceive them as being invalidating and insensitive.
We all have all three of these behaviors. Since I read Jonathan's article, I have been noticing all three in myself. Sometimes I am critical of myself and constantly correct what I say or do. I do my correcting with others too. Luckily for them my judgements are mostly kept to myself and not spoken out loud. When I notice I am focusing on being especially critical of myself or my partner I have learned to recognize it as a call for help from myself. Usually being very critical and judgmental lets me know I have abandoned myself and am in need of my own attention. Usually under my judgement is fear. If I can find the fear and comfort myself, my judgements lessen.
I have really noticed the protector this week in my work. I have the idea that I am giving my clients a gift when I run over in sessions. I want them to have extra time so they won't leave in so much pain. After we finish I have watched people run to their cars because they are late to their next appointment. One person bravely told me this week that it is helpful to her when we end on time. She feels safer and more trusting of me. I am grateful for her feedback. This week I have been more aware of ending on time and trusting my clients to finish their processing on their own without me. Being a protector is trying to help in a way that's not helpful.
When I am in the space of being argumentative and objecting to everything that I say or do, that is the objector. I do this much more with myself than others. Some people seem to enjoy going toe to toe with others and dissing everything another says. Several people I know have family members who seem to thrive on disagreement. It seems to me to be an unskillful attempt at connection.
That brings me to the forth style. It is called the connector.
Connectors have awareness of the corrector, protector, and objector in themselves. They have learned to embrace these styles as unskillful attempts at connection and to be forgiving of themselves and work to be more skillful. Connecters understand that we are all one and everything is connected. Their way of relating, although imperfect, comes from the intention of compassion for self and others. By being mindful ( which is awareness with acceptance)  of the corrector, protector and  objector, in myself,  I can ask , what else can I do besides what I am doing to feel connection here? Then I can create a do-over to experiment with a behavior that creates more of a feeling of really being connected to myself and others. Taking care of myself with healthy boundaries would be one example of a more skillful tool for connection. When I am taking care of myself it is easier for me to feel genuine compassion for myself and others. Then the sense of all of us being connected is much stronger and gratitude flows.
What do you think of the usefulness of knowing about these four styles? Can you recognize the corrector, the protector, the objector and the connector in yourself? Can you see expressions of them in others?  Knowing about these styles continues to be helpful to me.  I am grateful to Jonathan for thinking them up and sharing them so freely. I am grateful to you for reading this blog. Thank you

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rituals- A Prayer

Lately I have been thinking about the importance of rituals in providing meaningful structure along a spiritual path. I find it very satisfying to create rituals for myself and others.
Today I'd like to share a prayer with you. My daughter and I created it as a bedtime prayer when she was about 10. We said it together every night for many years. When she started thinking it was lame, I continued to say it. I began to call the prayer my water prayer because I would stop at the water when I was out walking along Cherry Creek and say my prayer. Later my daughter revised the prayer with my grandson and they now say their prayer every night before bed.
I continued to pray the original prayer. Last month my partner added a line and we started saying the prayer together when we hike. This week while I was out walking some new lines came to me to replace some of the old ones. Here is the newest version:

Thank you for my wonderful life.
I trust in peace and joy and love.
I am enough.
Let the light be the source of the healing.
I love myself enough to do what feels right.
I am the light of the universe.
You are the light of the universe.
We are the light of the universe.
All there is is the light of the universe.
May all beings open to all that we are
  in body, mind, life and spirit.
May all beings embrace the love in our own hearts
  and in each other's hearts
 in our bodies, on this earth, in this moment.

Feel free to practice this prayer. I offer it for the healing of all beings everywhere. You could also use it to inspire yourself to create your own prayer or ritual.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

meditation practice

This blog is about meditation. I am currently participating in a training for yoga teachers that is called a meditation intensive. We practice daily together as a group from 6-8am for all the weekdays for two weeks. A daylong meditation practice is also included. I am learning so much about deepening my meditation practice. Each day one person leads the meditation, sharing a practice that is meaningful to them. I noticed the first day I was lost in resistance. I didn't want to do anything except my own meditation practice. I was critical because I wanted more stillness. I used the stillness that was provided to feed my fear of not getting what I wanted. The second day I shared my meditation. Afterwards the person who had led the previous day's meditation shared how challenging it was for her to practice my meditation because she wanted what was familiar to her. Recognizing her resistance, she surrendered to practicing the meditation form I offered and embraced it as part of a new learning adventure. That day I saw this quote- Courage is letting go of the familiar. I was inspired by the participants comments and the quote. The third day I set aside my expectations and entered into the experience of the meditation practice that was offered. I imagined this new practice as nurturing my wish to grow. I had a deep, positive and joyful experience opening to a practice I hadn't done before.
What I have realized is that all the paths lead to the same place. We are all honoring the deeper awareness that is the creative energy that runs the universe. It is called by many names. Our choice is to react in fear and aversion to what feels unfamiliar and push it away or to open to the experience of resistance and embrace the newness with curiosity.  I ask for help in opening and growing both to accept my fear of what is different and to acknowledge the stretching it takes to be curious and learn from someone else's differences. I wish for myself and for all beings to learn this lesson.
Also in the training we've learned several practices from the Shambavananda tradition. I'd like to share two of them with you. If you'd like to try one or both the beginning instructions are the same.
Find a comfortable seat, on the floor or in a chair. Be aware of your body and notice any tension and breathe into the tension. Let your spine be straight. If you'd like to set an intention for meditation, it can be helpful. Ask yourself, what do I want for myself out of this meditation?
Meditation on Om
Chanting Om  is a sacred sound. You can inhale with a deep breath and chant or say Om  as you exhale. Om is said to be the primordial sound or seed sound of the universe. Chanting Om has been very powerful for me because it is simple and occupies my mind. When I notice I am lost in thought in a meditation I can return to chanting Om either out loud or silently. The sound imbues me with positive energy and chanting Om in a group is especially uplifting for me.
Ham Sa Meditation
Ham Sa is Sanskrit and in English it means I am that. I am that pure awareness and light that is the source of all there is. Ham Sa is also said to be the sound of the natural breath. When you inhale say to yourself silently Ham. When you exhale say to yourself silently Sa. Ham Sa. When your mind wanders notice the wandering and return to ham on the inhalation and Sa on the exhalation.
This meditation helps me because focusing on the breath calms and soothes my mind and helps my body to relax. The mantra or sacred sound Ham Sa opens my heart to all that I am.
Meditation has been and continues to be a source of great healing and growth for me. I have become less reactive and more willing to be present with what is. I am so grateful to have my practice as a beam of light in my world illuminating what needs to grow and strengthening my connection to spirit.
Thank you for listening.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Celebrating writing

I have begun two blog posts tonight and erased both of them. Am I just being self-critical and no matter what I write won't feel good enough? Is it a message that tonight it is a better idea to go to bed than to write a blog? What if I write for a little while and use the writing to tune into my intuition about what feels right?
I notice I have to go the bathroom and I'm writing this instead of listening. I'll be right back. Sitting on the toilet has always been a good time for me to be quiet and tune into myself. As a child it was the only time I got the privacy to be alone. I would retreat to the bathroom as a sanctuary where I could find calm and peace in the midst of the chaos of growing up in my family. Just now in my bathroom sanctuary, I got clear that I'll write for half an hour and see what happens. I love to write and I rarely give myself the opportunity to write my blog. My partner went to sleep early and I have some lovely alone time. When I first started writing my blog many years ago I was very disciplined and wrote every few days. Then I realized writing felt like a should and decided to write once a week. Over the years I began to write less and less and eventually I gave myself permission to write only when I want to. It's part of my intention to trust in the expression of creativity to be organic rather than forced. So, I notice when I make myself write, I write more and when I don't make myself write I hardly write at all. Maybe hardly at all is good enough. Maybe the idea of hardly at all is based on some standard of enoughness that is part of thinking I'm never quite enough. What if what I write and when I write are all OK? What if the critical messages I give to myself about my writing are an opportunity to notice the tendency of my mind ( and human minds) to focus on the negative? What if writing at all whenever and whatever I write about are all an expression of who I am and acceptable?What if the inner mean voice is only a call for love? What if I could celebrate the opportunity to recognize being down on myself about my writing as an opportunity to love myself for writing at all? What if I could celebrate myself for being vulnerable and authentic and brave for writing a blog?  Good job, Andrea!
Is there something you could celebrate yourself for doing just because you do it?
I appreciate sharing who I am with you in this blog. Thanks for listening. I love to write and am grateful for the chance to be myself through my writing in this perfectly imperfect way.