Sunday, July 29, 2018

Slowing down

Today, I have been thinking about slowing down. I am aware that when I am rushing I abandon myself. Rushing means not honoring my natural pace and pushing myself into the future. Today I noticed what a habit rushing is and how I rush even when I have the time to slow down. It’s as if my worry thoughts of what could happen on my way to yoga class to make me late, distract me from being present for the drive. I grip the steering wheel in determination to overcome these imagined obstacles that I have made up. What scares me about being present? When I am grounded in my body rather than up in my head worrying, do I even know who I am?
An experiment has evolved where I am returning to myself when I notice my thoughts have run away. This is the experiment of an ongoing meditation practice brought into daily life. It is important when I notice I am rushing to be sweet to myself about noticing. “You’re rushing again! said to myself in an exasperated and inpatient tone can create a spiral of self-criticism. It is also possible to use my awareness of my self-disgusted tone, to bring myself sweetness. “Oh, I get it that you are impatient. It’s OK.” I can use the awareness of rushing to kindly slow myself down. I can notice my breathing and breathe deeper and slower and breathe into my belly. I can also acknowledge myself with great fervor when I notice I am moving through my life or a moment, showing up for myself in the present moment. “Good Job, Andrea!” Ah, so satisfying to give ourselves credit for doing what we say we wanted to do. Also so easy to ignore. Let’s support each other in validating ourselves and each other when we notice a glimmer of accomplishment in the area of going slower and smelling the flowers. Goodness knows it’s easy to dis ourselves mercilessly.
Maybe make a list of all the little ways you have shown up for yourself and been present. Like today I was walking in the park and I took the time to notice the beautiful flowers and the artistry in which they were arranged. I felt grateful for whoever created the landscaping. Why not also feel grateful to the one who was noticing the flowers. “Good job, Andrea!”
Another thing about rushing is there are the times I am rushing because I have to do one more thing before I leave to get somewhere. I have to fold my laundry or empty the dishwasher or answer that text or e-mail right now. Doing so leaves me with not enough time to get where I am going on time let alone in a relaxed manner. One of the people I work with has created this brilliant campaign called,” One less thing”. When she is preparing to go somewhere she deliberately does one less thing before she leaves. As she practices doing one less thing she has noticed that her job which involves a lot of driving from place to place to see clients, has become much more enjoyable. How about in addition to doing one less thing we notice and acknowledge ourselves for doing one less thing by saying good job to ourselves? What if we could even notice ourselves rushing away from ourselves and show up for that? What if the conscious act of showing up for ourselves in the way we would easily show up for a friend, could be seen as miraculous? What if kindly noticing I have abandoned myself to rushing is cause for celebration as I welcome myself back to this moment? This precious moment.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Creative Expression

I am feeling joyful tonight. I have the evening to myself. It’s been a really full week and it’s lovely to complete it with some time to myself. While Marc and I were at Shoshoni Yoga Retreat three weeks ago they had an offering called sacred art. One of the available projects was rock painting. During the weekend I had three hours to paint 4 medium size river rocks in a way I felt really good about. Painting the rocks was a meditative experience for me.  I was less critical during my creative process and more accepting of what I created. I practiced mindfulness or awareness with acceptance as I let myself flow with the paintings. If I was more tech savvy I would include a picture of my rocks so you could see them. I am excited to have a new art form I felt good about. The more creative I allow myself to be, the more joy I feel in my life. I am grateful that expressing myself creatively is something I value and follow through with doing.
My daughter Monnya is a very creative being. When she and my grandsons were here for Spring break last week she created a garden in my front yard  using my statue of Ganesh (the Hindu god of creating and removing obstacles) as a focal point and included my beautiful rocks in it. Koa, my two year old grandson helped her. They created a lasting gift that brings me great joy and let’s me feel close to them whenever I look at my garden. Monnya is a dancer, artist and acrobat and very creative mother to her sons. She has been an inspiration to me about living creatively. I call what she creates, “the Monnya touch”. She brings a flair of creativity to whatever she does, whether it is creating a brunch or making racing car valentines that say Love Wins for Colt, my 4 year old grandson, to bring to pre-school.
 I rediscovered my creativity when Monnya was 16 and left home to study classical Indian dance in India. I decided to take a sculpture class to fill the emptiness I felt when she left. Since then creating sculpture pieces has brought me hours of challenge and satisfaction. I have watched myself grow from an obsessively critical sometimes paralyzed sculptor, to a place where I can listen to my sculpture pieces about how they want to be created. In the past, I have made nude sculptures and my current piece asked for clothes. I made her clothes. Her name is Joy Sacred Circle and she’s close to complete now. Maybe writing about Joy will inspire me to work on her soon.
I think it is important for anyone who wants to, to find an outlet to express themselves creatively. The opportunity is to focus on this creative outlet and enter the flow. The flow is a state of mind where the inner critic can go rest on the beach with a cool drink. It can be a timeless space of pure presence where we can lose ourselves as we know ourselves. Creative expression comes in all sorts of forms with varying levels of acceptance of the process and product. The lovely part is that you can’t do it wrong. Writing or cooking or gardening or singing or dancing, creative expression can be anything you let yourself be your own unique you while doing. Acknowledge yourself lavishly for whatever you allow yourself to do creatively merely for the act of doing it at all. Your soul will sing. My soul is singing writing this blog and imagining all of you giving yourselves the time and space to explore your own art forms and grinning. Thank you.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Re-evaluation Counseling

I know I want to write. I have been wanting to write all evening. When I haven’t written for a while I have to push through a lot of fear to write. At first I don’t recognize what I am feeling as fear. It is a voice inside my head that says,” You don’t even know what you want to write about.” That is often true. The desire to write often precedes knowing what I want to write about. It is easy for me to not write when I buy the belief that I need to know what to write about to write. On the other hand, I can challenge that belief and open my I-pad. In doing so, as I am doing now, the next belief emerges. It is the fear that I’m not a good enough writer to write. I am learning to let myself shake to discharge the distress of fear that I am not a good enough writer to write. I am shaking now as I write this and it gets easier to write.
I have been participating in counseling sessions using a structure called Re-evaluation
Counseling or RC for about 8 months. RC sessions involve peer counseling sessions where each person takes a turn and deeply listens to the other and offers support to discharge distress. Distress is created from the time we are born where we weren’t given the support we needed to express the emotions we had from our experiences.
 Let’s say when I was a young girl, I fell down and hurt myself and was crying. After a short time of crying and Way before I was done, one of my parents would get uncomfortable and  threaten me saying, stop crying or I’ll give you a reason to cry about. As a young girl this was very confusing. I remember thinking, I have a reason to cry or I wouldn’t be crying. I would stop crying. I learned to interrupt my natural desire to cry to discharge sadness and to shake to discharge fear and to laugh to discharge embarrassment. Distress accumulates in our bodies and new distresses pile on top of old ones. In my RC sessions I am working to allow the counselor to give me the loving attention I need to feel safe enough to discharge distress. It is challenging to trust that being deeply listened to could be so healing. In the past month my partner and I have also become part of a weekly class to learn the theory and practice RC in a group. This process is having the effect of creating more safety in our relationship.
Everyone I know has had the experience of having the natural response to both physical and emotional hurt interrupted. What if it were possible to heal this hurt by finishing the process of expressing natural responses to hurt? What if one effective way was for adults to deeply listen to each other to heal the wounds of childhood? What if by healing early hurts we could create an impact on all the patterns of distress that built on the early hurts? If you watch a young child crying because of a physical or emotional hurt and that child is being listened to, held and spoken to lovingly, in a short time he or she often feels complete and skips off to play. This loving holding environment is a sanctuary adults can recreate.
Because I am a therapist and have been practicing for thirty five years I know the value of good therapy. It has been my joy to support my clients in their healing journeys. I am grateful to have work I love in which I can contribute to the well- being of my clients in body mind and spirit.
  It is also gratifying to practice being a peer counselor where I am a humble beginner and other people have more experience than I do. I get to watch masters in action who have encouraged each other to discharge distress patterns for many years.
I practiced RC forty years ago for several years when I was in graduate school. It was life-saving for me to do many sessions a week and helped me to begin to express myself with less self-consciousness, heal my disordered eating and begin to meditate and do yoga. Then I stopped doing RC as I continued to do therapy as a client and continued my clinical social work training.
Now I am back. I appreciate RC and the current opportunity to learn and change and grow. The intention of RC is to help people discharge distress from the past that has accumulated in the present to increase the attention each person has available to be fully present now.
Practicing RC regularly has inspired me to laugh and cry every day on my own also. My body naturally wants to support me in being fully expressed. I cry after I meditate. I think meditation supports my natural discharge process because of the safety of mindfulness, which is awareness with acceptance. Maybe that’s what practicing RC or deep listening is doing. We are creating awareness with acceptance and beaming it on another person. I feel hopeful that the thousands of people who are practicing RC worldwide are making a difference in the safety of our world. I think the resilience and spaciousness that is being created in the RC community is an important contribution to the planet.
Thank you for listening. I love to write and I can be afraid and write, too.