Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “awareness”

Practicing Self Compassion…

There is a reason they call it a “practice”!!!

I may have mentioned before that I am participating in Leo Babauta’s Sea Change Program, where ever month there is a small behavior change that you commit to incorporating into your life. For the month of May, this tiny habit that we are attempting to incorporate is self compassion. Seems like an easy enough endeavor… but I’m here to tell ya… it’s trickier than you might at first imagine!

What I’ve noticed is that, despite my initial compassionate, loving words to myself, I immediately follow said compassion with a smidge of negative chatter that is like adding a “yeah, but” to my attempts at self-healing. I yelled (spoke sternly is probably more accurate, but it might as well have been yelling with the tone and the eye rolling that accompanied) at my son the entire drive to school this morning. I was very irritated because he made me re-tie his shoes 3 times due to the laces not being the correct amount of “tight.” I was explaining (do you like how I’ve relabeled the yelling to explaining now?!) how he needs to take responsibility for being on time to school and that, at the ripe old age of 9, he really shouldn’t need me to be tying his shoes… let alone insisting that I retie his shoes numerous times in one morning.

When I finally dropped him at school, he slammed the door and never looked back. I can only imagine what was going through his head. I’m pretty sure it was not along the lines of, “thank goodness I have such a great Mom who helps me understand the error of my ways.” In the great irony of a good day, I realize that the very thing I told my son he needed to do, which was to take responsibility for himself (from my viewpoint, this meant getting out the door on time), he was actually doing (from his viewpoint, making sure that his shoes were tied in a way that worked for him). Funny… that whole irony thing.

Anyway… back to self compassion. After a bit of verbal self-abuse, I did manage to remember the habit for the month. I congratulated myself for having the presence of mind to remember that beating myself up over the events of the morning was not actually going to rewrite the events of the morning for the better. Instead, I took a moment to acknowledge how difficult it is to be a Mom who is trying to balance consciousness and reality! I am, in fact, very thankful for this month’s sea change habit of self compassion. I think it is an easily overlooked habit that can have the potential to hugely impact our lives for the better. After spending numerous moments today offering myself compassion, I have to say that it feels pretty good to be loved… even if, and maybe especially if, it is by my very own self.

Wishing you gobs of love and self compassion!    ~Rashel

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What’s Your Story?

We all have stories. Stories are what we believe to be true and what we tell others about our lives. Rumi says… “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” I find it interesting that he does not say, “unfold your own story,” or even, “unfold your own truth,” but “unfold your own myth.”

I was listening to an NPR podcast the other day and they were interviewing Tony Robbins. He mentioned something about stories that really struck me. He revealed that he was beaten as a child. Apparently he shared that truth with some kids when he was doing a talk in order that they might relate to him… to understand that even if you have a troubled youth, you can still turn your life around. The point he was making on the podcast was that he had consciously chosen not to perpetuate that story… that he worked hard to create a new story that he had shared with the world. Until that time, and only for the very specific purpose of relating to those kids, he had chosen not to share that story of himself and his life and to share and communicate a new story… one of empowerment and strength rather than victim hood and struggle.

Sometimes I think we get very caught up in what’s “true.” Reality, if you will. But what that realization illuminated for me is that we can choose to focus on other parts of our lives that are just as true and real without perpetuating the parts of our story that do not foster our own growth and development as a human being. Now, I am not advocating for a life of lies. I am not implying that everyone should wake up tomorrow pretending that their past is non-existent and acting as if the sky is green. I’m simply saying that we all have choices. Choice about what to share… what to focus on.. what to pay attention to on a daily basis. In any given day, there are as many, if not more, positive occurrences as negative… so why in the world do we feel so inclined, when asked how we’re doing, to list the 2-5 things that have gone wrong in the day? I know it’s not just me who does this because I walk around hearing of everyone’s issues on a regular basis. I’m not complaining, mind you… I’m just recognizing that we are very much hard-wired to focus on our negative story instead of perpetuating the positive aspects of our day and lives. I’d say we can’t help it… but that might be seen as taking on a bit of victim mentality, no?

What is your story? How do you feel when you tell your story? Does your story focus on the amazing, wonderful events that have shaped your life… or does you get caught up in the negative, difficult details? Do share your story!

Love and light!  ~Rashel

Acceptance in Action

I often think about acceptance. I really believe this is a misunderstood concept. I know I’ve blogged about acceptance before… the importance of it… the value in it… how hard it can be to master! It came up for me again the other day. I was half-way through a yoga class and began to notice my own self judgment. In a room full of yogi’s in training and full length mirrors… ones mind does tend to wander toward comparison. How in the world is that girl getting her arm to go straight up right now? Am I the only one in the room using blocks today? Why is this still so challenging after years of yoga classes?

What came up for me is how natural it is to think that judgment and criticism will lead to change. Why else would we do it? If I honestly believed that all of the negative self chatter would keep me stuck… would I really continue it time after time? I think there is a part of us that believes if we truly accept… if we let go of self judgment and criticism… that we will sink into a state of laziness, carelessness or general malaise. And on this point, I think we’re wrong.

I took some time to practice acceptance right there in that yoga studio What would it feel like to honor my achy knee… my tight shoulders… my protruding belly? Could I allow myself to be fully present in that moment? Appreciating the act of showing up on the mat… despite being exhausted and sporting a to-do list a mile long. Could I invoke a paradigm shift in that moment… moving from a place of self denigration to self acceptance? And more importantly, if I did… what would it mean for my commitment to yoga… to exercising… to my general health?

You see, I think the issue with acceptance is that we think it’s not possible to both accept and act. I would like to argue that it is. I realized as I stood in that yoga class, hand on block, reaching ever so fervently toward the sky, that accepting my limitations in that moment did not make me want to quit. Actually, if anything, I felt free. Free to just be… to exist in that moment without shame or judgment.

It felt good. And while I’d like to say it transferred immediately and directly to all areas of my life… alas… it has proven to be akin to many other transformational experiences I’ve had… profound and difficult to consistently implement! But it has made me think twice about how we encourage change… in both ourselves and others. If acceptance and change can successfully go hand-in-hand… perhaps we can do away with judgment and criticism altogether, no? It might not come easy, but I believe it’s worth the effort to give it a try. For ourselves… and those we interact with every day!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

 

Who Am I?

Sometimes I feel like I have multiple people living in my body. One morning I wake up happy… smile on my face… caring and empathic… loving the world — and then there are the other days. One minute I’m happy and content… and the next I’m moody and irritable. Some days I eat healthy, drink lots of water, exercise, go to bed early… but often I don’t.

What gives? Why such variation and self-sabotage? I know that staying up until 2am watching TV is going to make me feel bad the next day… and yet – I continue to do it. Not every night… but consistently. And what about all the other things I do that I know aren’t good for me… aren’t healthy… won’t make me feel better in the long run… Why?

How many people out there consistently make good choices that support their overall health and well-being? Surely there must be a few? I feel like there might be some kind of link to spirituality… connecting your daily choices with your inner guidance. I’m just not sure where that inner guru goes sometimes. And it makes me wonder… do I get disconnected from the inner guidance and end up making bad choices… or do the bad choices disconnect me from the inner guidance?

What does it take to get clear and consistently make good choices? I’d be the first to tell you that I want to get clear. I like to set intentions, create vision boards and write out goals. But here’s the thing… I don’t feel clear. I feel a constant struggle to figure out what I want.  As I consider why I’m not getting clear… I have to ask myself the question, “what’s good about not being clear?” If you’re doing something… or not doing something… there’s always a reason. If there wasn’t some benefit (unconscious, made-up, or otherwise illogical as it may be), you wouldn’t do it.

Here’s what I realized. If I’m clear, then there’s no question what I want (I know… seems obvious… but stay with me here). If I know what I want, then I should say what I want. But what if I don’t want to say what I want? What if I can’t get what I want? What if it causes conflict if I say what I want? What if other people think I’m selfish for saying what I want? I really, really, really don’t like conflict. Now it starts to make more sense… I start to realize that there are a lot of reasons why getting clear isn’t happening so easily.

So maybe there are multiple personalities living within me. Maybe part of spiritual growth has to do with aligning the various parts of your soul? Uncovering the various hidden beliefs that drive our less-than-ideal choices and bringing them to light. I’d like to say that simply making these connections and having these realizations has allowed me to be able to say exactly what I want at all times. That’s what I’d like to say. Instead, what I can say is that I think it’s a start.

And for that I am grateful.  ~Rashel

As Above, So Below…

What if everything in our lives is a reflection of our own current state? I know, right… scary! I can’t seem to get my mind of this train of thought recently. I’m tired (refer to earlier post… I’m tired!) I’m feeling disconnected from friends… I’m overwhelmed with work stuff… and home stuff… and all the other things I’ve signed up for stuff!  Sometimes I feel like I want to stop trying… but then I realize… it’s not that I want to stop trying… I just want to be really good at everything I do and I want it to feel like I’m not trying so hard to make it all work.

If my outer life is a reflection of my current state… then my current state includes exhaustion… struggle… and discomfort, but it also includes happiness, joy and laughter. In fact, I’m a pretty glass-half-full kind of person, but even with my optimism, I find myself overwhelmed… and quite often, I might add. It’s not that I want or expect life to be easy… (well, maybe I want that, but I don’t expect it)… it’s just that I’m surprised at how difficult it is considering how optimistic I am and how much I enjoy life. I’m a nice person… I’m kind to others… I work hard… I think positively… I laugh often… I’m open to life… I find humor in most situations. I guess there’s a part of me that feels like… Jeez – I get it – I’m doing it –  let the good times roll, already! But I digress…

So back to this notion that whatever is showing up in my life is a reflection of my inner state. Well… there’s a part of me that just finds that disturbing! Is it just me? Is it really possible that everything that shows up is a reflection? There is a part of me that resists… remember how they used to tell you in school – if it’s always or never – it’s probably false? Then again, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s possible.  I know there are issues I don’t want to deal with, and they often get pushed down and ignored. Even though those issues get pushed down, they probably still  influence my reality. So, maybe some of the issues that present in my life are reflections of unconscious thoughts or things that I don’t want to deal with. Hmmmmm….

Action step… if you dare! Pay attention to the areas in your life that bug you… and think about why. What is it about that person or situation that upsets you? Now the fun part… think about ways that you might be exhibiting this trait. I know it sounds crazy… but it’s scary how often, if you’re really honest, you can see aspects of yourself in all manner of behaviors. I’ll give you a quick example from my life. I was really irritated with someone because I felt like they were not giving me enough respect and appreciation. At first I couldn’t imagine how this could be a reflection, because I feel like I’m very conscientious about being respectful and offering praise and recognition. When I pressed myself further and thought about where in my life I was withholding respect and appreciation… It dawned on me that I wasn’t doing a very good job of respecting and appreciating myself!  And yet, here I was expecting the other person to respect and appreciate me!  Ahhh… the irony!

The other part of this exercise is to pay attention to someone who you think is amazing, inspiring or fabulous in some way or another. What specific traits do you admire about that person? Then take time to acknowledge that you hold those very traits within yourself. If you did not have them, you wouldn’t notice them in others… it goes for both the positive and less positive aspects!

Something to ponder. Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

 

Opportunities… everywhere!

One thing I’m realizing as I meander through this thing called life… there sure are a lot of opportunities for growth! My family and I went away this weekend. On our trip, we visited Calaveras Big Trees state park. It was very cool. When we started on the hike to see the trees, and we purchased the guide to tell us what, specifically, we were looking at – my daughter started to push back. Not much on school these days, and fully noting that not only is it Summer… but we are on vacation for crying out loud – she stated boldly to the group that she would NOT be learning anything on this fun walk we were taking. Apparently to her… learning is a task to be avoided.

Well, I kinda know how she feels. Learning can definitely seem like a chore. Except when it’s not, of course! We had a great time walking through the Big Trees… and we learned a few things in the process. Quite the opposite of a painful lecture, it was quite fun and enjoyable.

I’m starting to believe that life is funny about learning and growth. I think we make it much more difficult than it needs to be. Sit in a room. Study the facts. Memorize the basics. How much more impactful the tangible experience of life! But this is how we learn that learning should go. We are offered opportunity to learn and grow day-in and day-out — learn this new approach to dieting… learn this ancient relaxation technique… learn this… learn that… learn it all online without ever leaving your house! I will confess that I am a serious learning and growth advocate. I love to learn new things. I am constantly buying and signing up for programs that teach this that and the other new program, technique or process to grow, evolve and gain higher consciousness and healing.

But I keep coming back to the fact that learning is not knowing… and knowing is not being. When I consider my daily interactions, I realize that there are a multitude of opportunities to learn and grow right in front of my eyes. Instead of searching for the magic formula for healing – I could be actively processing what is right in front of me. According to Debbie Ford‘s shadow work, everything that comes into our awareness is a mirror of ourselves. WOW… talk about opportunity for growth! That’s like… you just totally pushed my buttons… what does that tell me about myself? Instead of focusing on your issues (and I’m not saying you don’t have any!), my opportunity is to push away the other and look squarely at what my mirror is telling me about myself. If you’re in my experience, you’re mirroring something for me… so thank you!!!

I invite you… just for today… to open yourself up to life lessons. What is life trying to teach you today… whether it is the opportunity to experience the majesty of Big Trees – or the chance to see how someone pushing your buttons tells you more about yourself than you ever wanted to know… invite it all in… just for today!

And I wish you many opportunities for learning and growth!! Don’t forget to pack your sense of humor for the trip!

Love and laughter… Rashel

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