Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Tapped In or Tapped Out?

I took a class on Meridian tapping, also known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), last week. It was very cool. If you’ve not heard of it, you tap specific points on your face and upper body as you repeat certain phrases having to do with any issue you’re having in your life. The idea is that as you tap on the meridian points and bring up emotions, the tapping will release the stored emotions from you body. Supposedly it will work on physical pain as well as emotional pain. Cool, right?! (one link… http://eft.mercola.com/ or simply google EFT)

Well, I’ve been tapping ever since. I’ve been tapping when I wake up… I’ve been tapping before I go to bed… I tap when I’m driving and when my kids are driving me crazy. I think it’s helping but, here’s the problem… I’m not seeing dramatic results. I didn’t lose 15 pounds instantly. I didn’t wake up this morning and find an extra 10K in my checking account. I didn’t get a call from Oprah asking if I could be in a new series on OWN television. So I’ve already started questioning what I’m doing wrong. Maybe it’s just not going to work for me. Perhaps this is not an effective method at all? I must admit, the skeptic in me is alive and well!

Hold on a minute here! Why so quick to judge? Why do I immediately think that I must be doing something wrong? Why do I expect things to change instantly when they certainly haven’t been instantaneous in becoming a problem in the first place? What kind of vibration am I holding when I expect instant results and then get disappointed when they don’t happen? Somehow I hold a belief that if a new belief is true, it must be instantaneous, complete and transformative. It’s not the first time I’ve been disappointed in something that may very well have been beneficial. As I was thinking about this topic earlier today and realized that I have, in fact, seen some results. I tapped on my congestion when I was fighting a cold earlier this week, and although the cold did not disappear, I woke up completely clear of congestion (which when I think about it now, is exactly what I was tapping about!).

I guess at this point all I can say is that the verdict is still out. This is where I usually lose traction… if I dont’ get instantaneous results, then I don’t continue. It would be very easy for me at this point to conclude that tapping doesn’t work, and stop doing it. It would also be easy to conclude that I don’t know for sure that tapping does work, and stop doing it. Instead I am hoping to continue tapping and pay attention. Are there small ways, here and there, that tapping is making a difference? Even if it isn’t the miraculous cure that I was hoping for… and truth be told, that is often marketed and bragged about in the media on tapping…  are there small improvements that I can notice that over time, just maybe, can make all the difference? More to come!

Happy tapping!  Love and laughter  ~Rashel

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Non Striving… huh?

I was reading a little bit about Zen principles and one theme of Zen is that of non striving. I get it in theory. Yes, I’ve heard and recited to others the notion that we are exactly where we are supposed to be for our evolution and growth. Yes, I’ve told myself in times of uncertainty that all things are as they should be. I’ve even professed to myself and others that all things happen for a reason. However, and this is a very big however, the idea of not striving for something different? something more… something better… something – at the next level of what currently exists… NO WAY. I can’t imagine it. Wouldn’t that mean that I had no passion? Wouldn’t that mean that I was lazy… depressed… detached from life?

It makes me think of Byron Katie‘s work… which she so happens to refer to as, “The Work.” When I read her book, Loving What Is… it really shifted my perception of life. I often ask myself, when I’m feeling upset, indignant, or unhappy with what currently lies before me… can I really know that this is not exactly what is supposed to be happening for my ultimate spiritual growth right now? I mean, bad things happen to everyone. There is not one single person that you can name who hasn’t experienced hardship of some kind… and if you think you know someone… I invite you to dig a little deeper!  It makes me think of the analogy of the pearl… the rough sand is required to rub against the pearl to shine it into the beautiful gem that we have come to know and love. Without the scratchy, rough friction, the pearl would never be transformed into a beautiful gem…. and the true fulfillment of its greatest nature.

So, lets say that we are accepting the current state of our lives. We are, potentially, accepting and loving what is. (And I’m not saying that this is my current state… just the state that I aspire to)… Where does non-striving come into play? If I maintain a state of non striving, does that mean that I am succumbing to the current state and will never move beyond my current situation? I believe this is one of those quirky life paradoxes where instead of being either/or… the reality is both/and… I am BOTH succumbing to the current state AND moving beyond my current situation.

Here is what I believe, even if I have not been able to fully embody the truth that is set forth. The more we can get ridiculously excited about our current state… the more we invite events and situations into our life that are worth getting excited about. And on the flip side… the more that we focus on, talk about, and commiserate about the hardships, setbacks and irritations in our current state, the more we invite similar negative experiences into our lives. It is such a simple and straightforward concept to talk about… and so very difficult to enact. Even believing, as I do, that this concept is 100% accurate… I still find myself complaining, and commiserating with others. It is human nature, I suppose, to pay attention to the potential negativity and issues that could prove problematic. What I hope is that we can teach ourselves to move past this initial reaction, and as Byron Katie’s work suggests, we could question ourselves into a place of greater awareness and utmost content.

One last thing I want to address… does non striving mean not doing anything? NO. Non striving means not beating yourself up for not being other than you are in this very moment. It does not mean that you do not continue to act and think and believe in greater days ahead. The biggest discrepancy between non striving and where I feel that I am today, is that I do not spend enough time honoring my current state. Non striving involves much more appreciation of what is… of where you are currently on your journey… of what you’ve accomplished to date! I’m sure there is much more to learn about non striving… but I’m going to take a moment to be content with what I have learned thus far… and know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be on my own journey to non striving!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

Meditation According to Me…

I wouldn’t exactly say that I am an expert on meditation… just that I’ve dabbled. I’ve taken some meditation classes and read some books and lots of articles. I have also practiced meditating. But… to say that I am an expert… well… how do you know, really? I can’t cite the history and evolution of meditation… which seems to be a sure sign of expertise. I can, however, tell you what I think about this interesting practice from my own perspective, which is what I’d like to do now.

When I was first introduced to meditation, it was for stress relief. Unfortunately, the act of trying to meditate can actually be stressful. At least, it is when you think there’s a “right” way to do it. The thing I’ve learned over time is that I can set myself up for a successful meditation ’til I’m blue in the face, and sometimes I will drop right into a state of peace and other times it will elude me completely – even if things are seemingly the same on the outside. I’ve come to realize that, at least for me, part of the process is the discipline of attempting to quiet my mind, regardless of how quiet it actually gets or how well it goes. When I took a 7-week mindfulness meditation class, the consistency of attending class weekly and the daily commitment to practice for at least 30 minutes had a huge effect on my mental, emotional and physical self. The regularity of the practice, regardless of how “effective” or “correctly” I did each individual session, had a profound impact.

Here is what I think to be the key to meditation… showing up. We run on autopilot every single day. We are constantly thinking of what has passed and what is to come… and rarely spend much time in this moment. When we attempt to quiet our minds, what we find is that this small task is almost impossible… at first. We sit down and get quiet… and then our monkey mind goes wild! “Is this right?” “Am I supposed to feel something?” “How do I know if it’s working?” “How long has it been?” “How will I know when it’s over?” Has it been enough time?” … and that’s just the first 30 seconds of the practice!

I was reading a book by Marshall Goldsmith where he talks about active listening. He gives an exercise to help you build your active listening capability… but I actually think this is a great exercise in mindfulness. Close your eyes and count to 50 with one simple goal – don’t let another thought intrude into your mind. Concentrate on maintaining the count. Marshall goes on to explain, “This may sound like a concentration test, but it’s really a listening exercise. After all, if you can’t listen to yourself (someone you presumably like and respect) as you count to fifty, how will you ever be able to listen to another person?” I LOVE that! The 50 count exercise, as well as the attempt at meditation for beginners, shows us how distracting is our own internal chatter. So, if you want to try this yourself, close your eyes and start counting to 50. If a thought enters your mind, simply take note that a thought has entered… turn your attention back to your breath… and begin again.

So, this begs the question, am I actually meditating or am I just noticing the copious amounts of internal chatter? YES! I believe that noticing the internal chatter… and more to the point… recognizing that at our essence, we are not the internal chatter, but rather, we are the one who notices the internal chatter, is at the heart of meditation. Meditation is a noticing of the mental mind by the soul. As we begin to show up regularly, and we take the time to separate from the internal chatter… to notice and release… notice and release… we will begin to gain more moments of quiet. And if we can take it one step further… we begin to appreciate that all the internal chatter that fills our auto-pilot world, most moments of every single day, is just thought… thought made up mostly of unconscious beliefs that run like a broken record in our minds. We can begin to separate from those thoughts and start to appreciate the potential recognition of self as separate from thoughts.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… the first step is to simply set aside some time to be still… to be quiet… to notice your thoughts and to recognize that you are separate from your thoughts… you are the one who notices your thoughts. Let go of judgement… release all expectations of what meditation is or looks like… open to the possibility that becoming a better listener of yourself can be good for both you and the world! Let me know what you think!!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

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