be where you are

I wish I was home already”.

This was a vague, shadow of a thought I had while walking home from yoga class one day this summer. I was not having an off-day nor did I have anything pressing at home that needed my attention. In fact, I was the right in the middle of an absolutely splendid summer of rest and rejuvenation.

At that moment, I simply wanted to be further along the path than I was.

A few weeks later, the path led me down a busy city street of colourful sights and sounds in Santiago, Chile.

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This time, the thought was a little louder and much clearer than before.

I wish I had a change of clothes”.

This, after the implementation of quickly-laid travel plans, sitting and sleeping through a smooth flight and enjoying a certain underlying thrill of an unexpected, first-time trip to South America.  I was surrounded by abundance.  But clearly abundance wasn’t enough for me.  I wanted to be on this adventurous path wearing different clothes than the ones I’d had on for three days.

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In each case, I was distracted from where I was and what I was doing by the thought of where I could be and what I could be doing.

Wishful thinking.

Putting the present moment on hold.

Dissatisfaction guaranteed.

The present moment is literally as close as my next inhale and exhale.  So why would I want to be anywhere else than where I am?

Even when the path underfoot is pebbled with the grayness of boredom or obstacles to step over, why choose to wish time away?

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Right here, right now is closer than you think.

And is not found in wishes.

And it is good.

 

want not, get not

Deep down to your very core, what is it that you truly desire?

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Peace and solitude?

Fame and fortune?

Love and acceptance?

Fun and distraction?

Freedom from any pain or discomfort?

Competence and efficiency?

Knowing you are warmly valued by another?

To make a difference in your world?

Appreciation for what you produce and share?

Camaraderie and affection?

Acceptance of what “is”?

All of the above?

 

Do you even know?  Are you willing to do a few experiments to find out?

Experiment #1:

Grab a friend. Sit across from each other. Breathe deeply and set the intention to not over-think. Have the friend ask “What is it that you truly desire?” You answer the question. You both take a breath. Have the friend ask “What is it that you truly desire?” You answer. You both take a breath. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Keep repeating until you have nothing left to answer. Or until you have dug deep past the unconscious shopping list of what most of us think we want down to your core values.  Those quiet, hidden values that may be huddled in a corner waiting for you to notice.

What came up? What does it say about where you are right now?
Once what you really desire comes out into the light of day, what about your life right now nourishes that desire?

If you were to write out a description of your ideal day, what would it look like? With all the photographic realism and detail of a Vermeer painting, how could you describe this ideal day so it is a superbly elegant fit for your temperament, your value, preferences and uniquely personal dreams?

If you had the words describing how you are living your ideal life and getting what you truly desire right in front of you, what is preventing you from living out this ideal life?

Experiment #2:

Take as long as you need to write, edit and re-write down your ideal day. Edit out things that do not fit your values and edit in things that do. Write it in the present tense. And don’t forget gratitude. Ie. “It is 7 am and I am grateful for getting a good night’s sleep. My morning begins with…”.  Go through an entire day.

Don’t forget the detail! The devil, god and everyone else in the world and all their dogs and cats are also in the details. Vague ideals lead to vague outcomes.

Once you have a description that excites you to read over and over again, read it over and over again daily. For a month. And notice.

What changes for you and what stays the same? What happens to your expectations? Do you notice how you are already getting some of what you want? Or do you notice that the things you do regularly are not beneficial for getting you closer to your ideal day?

If you are not getting all that you want from life, what can it hurt to try?

And if you don’t know what you desire, how do you know when you get it?

Maybe most of  your life is going just the way you want it to but there are a few pockets of discontent or a lack of satisfaction in one or two areas.  Experiment!

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the voice behind the choice

How’s your summer going?”

A variation of this question was posed to me three times, in quick succession, one afternoon very recently. I had not yet left for the summer and was working steadily to finish all the tasks left to do before I could begin my break.

Nursing a deep resentment for still being at work while most colleagues were on the golf course, at their cottage or otherwise relaxing, my reaction to this question each time was to launch into what tasks I still had yet to do and a litany of reasons why it was taking so long for me to complete those tasks, this year in particular.

I saw a similar glazed-over look that was a cross between boredom and disinterest in the eyes of each person as I spoke to them. If we had still been children, one of them surely would have rubbed their index finger and their thumb together in front of my face declaring it was the world’s smallest violin playing and that it was playing just for me.

If it had just been this one day, I could chalk it up to simply having a bad day but it was clear to me that over the past few months Moaning Myrtle was becoming a default persona so I did a little experiment to see how this would play out long term if nothing changed.

 

I’m 85 years old and I’m walking with purpose to the Saturday morning farmer’s market pulling my empty two-wheeled cart behind me. A young woman who lives on my street greets me kindly as I rush by her with my jaw set, my brow furrowed and focused on my very important business that will surely involve bartering the best price for Bartlett pears. As I pass a shopkeeper sweeping the walk in front of his store, he looks up, stops sweeping, smiles at me and asks how I’m doing on this fine morning? So I tell him how much I have to do, how I have to find time to get train tickets for next month’s visit to my son and then there’s that closet I have to get cleaned out and figure out how to the get the contents over to the thrift store. I am also sure to tell him that I didn’t get much sleep last night because the neighbours had guests over for a barbecue and they stayed until the ungodly hour of 11 pm.  As I ramble on, the shopkeeper gets the all-too-familiar look in his eyes. It is the same look I’ve seen in the eyes of my colleagues, friends and family for longer than I care to remember. 

 

Not a pretty picture. And certainly not the future I want.  For me or anyone near me.

Now the work is to look behind the repeated choice to complain and find out what underlying beliefs are informing Moaning Myrtle’s rants. What are my beliefs about hard work, about what I think I deserve and what attention I think I should get based on my perceived competence and productivity?   

And based on clarity of beliefs and tweaking any outdated or unhelpful ones, what will the new scripts be when I’m asked how I’m doing?

 

Since I am now on my summer break, I’ll have to get to that work after I go for a walk or a bike ride, have a cup of coffee on my porch, take a nap and read a book.  Moaning Myrtle’s voice is fading as she has been sent packing on a break of her own.

 

Happy Nasturtiums 2

 

By the way, my summer is starting out to be the nourishing break I needed, thank you very much for asking!

 

 

 

the right tool for the job

 

I have a quirky trait of stubbornly “making do” when faced with a task requiring a specific tool. My resistance rises with even the thought of purchasing a tool when I think that I may have an object that was made for a different purpose but will do in a pinch within arms reach. This approach has always seemed simpler, more practical and oh-so-much-more efficient than the alternative of the time-guzzling acts of browsing, shopping, listing pros and cons of which one is the best to buy, spending money on then cleaning, storing and organizing all the tools until the end of time! Doth she protest too much? Methinks so.

 

Beyond my issues with the traumas of shopping, and my still firm desire to just get the job done effectively and efficiently, I am growing in my appreciation for the wisdom of using the right tool for the job.

Despite our love affair with our minds and the wonders they perform, when it comes to emotions and moods, the mind and its incredible ability to problem-solve external situations is precisely the wrong tool for this type of internal work.

Emotions are not problems to be solved. They exist to be felt. Why then do we feel the need to enlist our minds into action, to swoop in heroically and solve our problem of unhappiness, disappointment, fear, anxiety, anger or depression? The answer is because we don’t like to feel uncomfortable and will numb ourselves to these signpost emotions that we’re off our path.

Instead of feeling the emotions, we question why life is hard for us but so easy for everyone else. We wonder why we can’t seem to just get over our hurt and resentment quickly. We speculate on what we did to deserve the pain. And we ruminate on the darkness of our lives thereby increasing the gap from where we are to where we think we want to be.

Trying to “solve” emotional issues through thinking is like digging the trench deeper. The deeper we dig the trench, the more accustomed we become living in a trench and it then becomes a future platform for the unproductive process of thinking through our feelings.

There is a way out of the self-built trench that may include professional intervention but could also be supported by:

  • Taking our minds off the pedestals
  • Remaining keenly aware of our mind’s desire to be in charge
  • Developing a practice of sitting with overwhelming emotions
  • Noticing when our mind tries to hijack the process

Our minds have their place but our vulnerable yet resilient inner workings deserve the use of the right tool for the job.

Thoughts?

 

 

 

breaking good

The calendar, the empty hallways and the locked school doors all tell me its time to rest and to take a much-needed, week-long break from teaching, supporting student learning and administrating all sorts of never-ending administrivia.

Even though I’m not rushing through a regular work week, I’m becoming more aware of how deep rest is not the mere absence of work and imminent deadlines. And how its not that easy to cultivate simply because there is more time for it.

Whether you find yourself catching warm rays on a beach this week, travelling with friends and family or hibernating at home against the devious return of the biting winds of winter, it seems that deep rest and nourishing restoration is a minute-by-minute choice.

nature resting deeply

nature resting deeply

For me, its a choice this week to:

1. Transform my allegiance to the clock as lord and master to instead choosing to listen deeply to the needs of my body

 
2. Wholeheartedly do whatever I’m doing whether its sleeping, eating, sitting, stretching, walking, cooking, reading or writing

 
3. Take intentional, extended breaks from electronics, screens and pseudo-connectors and choose to listen deeply to those around me

 
4. Hydrate often, mindfully nourish my body with goodness and to choose to pause frequently to engage in deep, mindful breathing

 
5. Resist the urge to allow the word “should” into my mind or my mouth

 
6. Be grateful for time to pause and to rest deeply.

 

Here’s to learning how to break ‘good’ this week and for the days to come.

 

 

the matter of grey matter

The mighty mind.  The brilliant brain.  Where grey matter matters.

Many of us view our minds as the essence of who we truly are.  The ‘real’ us. Thereby relegating our bodies to the role of receptacles that house our ever-important thoughts, ideas, visions and brainwaves.

Our minds are the mighty monster machines that leap moments in a single bound; jumping from past to future faster than a speeding bullet.

But our bodies cannot be anywhere else but here. They can’t drift off on fantastical adventures. They are rooted here. They root us here. They are tailor-made for the present moment.

Think of a time when your mind was drifting off from what was in front of you to somewhere else. Then, all of a sudden, a physical discomfort, or tickle or itch brought you back to the moment where the discomfort, tickle or itch actually existed.  Brought you back to your body that was still right where your mind left it to wonder, desire, fret, consider or ruminate.

Trying to think of being in the present moment or attempting to will yourself to be present doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried. The present moment is not in your mind.  Its waiting for you to be discovered in your body.

 

 

Sitting, breathing and settling your restless mind on the grounded-ness of your body is a start to discovering the present moment right there in your body, in your breath.

In this way, the body is like a magnet, pulling the present moment to you and gently inviting your mind to come in. To come in, settle in and rest.

Even right now, this very second, let your mind rest on the breath moving through your body, filling and emptying.

By noticing the breath moving in your body, the present moment is magnetically drawn to you. Your body, firmly rooted in the present, invites, this moment to stop by for a visit.

And the body continues to greet you each time your wandering mind recognizes the breath’s movement, stops to engage and watch then choosing to sit for a moment with it.

  

 

convenient half-truths

 

I can create such incredible fiction when things go sideways.

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I can’t do anything

Presumed powerlessness is occasionally still my small and misguided reaction to the prevailing winds of life. When I perceive that I’m trapped in a moment or in a life choice, I’m not. That is just a story. I can choose to take a deep breath and respond instead of choosing to simply react. I can choose to take responsibility for my response. And I can accept the outcome of the situation, no matter what.

I have to do something

Jigsaw puzzles, lateral thinking tests and crime dramas are simple ways for me to engage my imagined problem-solving superpowers. Even working away at solving a particular problem feels empowering as if I’m in control of something. But sometimes life is not a problem to be solved and is just what it is. How about noticing the puzzle?  Then doing absolutely nothing in response?

It is my/ their fault

That weaves nicely into the sub-plot of my story that says someone must be held accountable. How convenient to reduce the interaction to that black and white conclusion. But is it true or useful?  Not even a little. Instead of clarity, it creates the fog of deflection while trying to avoid genuine communication. What if it was more like ‘no matter what has happened, it is my choice how I will respond and I will take full responsibility for my response’?

 

Convenient half-truths.  Inconvenient confusion.  Choose clarity instead.

@ peace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what if it was already true?

What if what you envision for your life was already true?

What would that look like?  Your life’s work?  Your creative project?  Your relationships?  Your family?  Your home life?  Your health and well-being?

How would already having this life feel different in your body?

What limiting stories could be released?

What is stopping you from acting as if it was true right now?

It is your choice.  Choose to do one thing today, right now, that reflects that all that you truly want is already true.

Abundance