Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “confidence”

Simple… but not easy

 I heard the phrase, simple but not easy, quite a few years ago. I can’t remember exactly what the circumstances were at the time… but I can tell you that I’ve considered that phrase so many times since. For the last few years, I’ve been reading the blog Zen Habits by Leo Babauta. He also has a blog on minimalism, which is really interesting. In both cases, there are often times when I think about how much happier my life might be if I were to simplify. If I could learn to minimize… slow down… commit to less… enjoy more… breathe deeper, longer, and more consciously. These are very simple acts… and yet… somehow so elusive.

Upon further reflection, I realize that the elusiveness comes from the difficulty in implementation. Minimizing means throwing things away. Things I like. Things that might have sentimental value. Things I think I might need some day. Or, on the other hand, not buying things in the first place. Things I like. Things that are calling my name! Slowing down means not everything gets done. Committing less means letting people down. It means saying no, for crying out loud!

So, how do we make these simple acts easier to do? Well… I definitely can’t say I have this down! Lately I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed, cluttered and chaotic. I’ve recently been reminded of an approach to behavior change that rings true… slow but steady wins the race. Leo Babauta has a program he calls “Sea Change” where he leads participants through one dedicated change each month. You spend the entire month committed to gradually building up the habit of that one change. BJ Fogg, a behavior change researcher, contends that pairing a behavior change with an engrained habit can produce great results. You might try committing to 5 minutes of exercise every morning after brushing your teeth. Now, you might think 5 minutes is not enough time to really see the benefits of exercise. The argument is that committing to do it, using the teeth brushing as a trigger, and following through… even if it is only 5 minutes… is the best start you can make toward change. Eventually, maybe even right away, you will exercise for more than 5 minutes. But for now, it is the art of commitment and follow through that you are branding into your conscious habit.

Given my current state of overwhelm, I’m not going to attempt anything so lofty as exercise… 5 minutes or not! I’ve decided that breathing deeper, longer and more consciously is a beautiful act that I would like to practice more. I’ve already been trying to do it more lately and it feels good. It offers a taste of joy. My plan is to use the tactic above to make it easier. Every morning when I first get into the shower, I’m going to take a long deep breath. If the moment strikes me, I may take two. But the committment is one long, deep, conscious breath. Stepping into the shower is the habitual act that is already in place, that I do every morning. Maybe I’ll put a sticky note on the shower door to help me remember.

Now, before I finish, I’ll let you in on a little secret. In all honesty, this committment seems small. It seems almost irrelevant. It seems to dwindle in comparison to the big goals of losing weight, exercising more, committing to less, slowing down… and the list goes on. But here’s the interesting part… I get really overwhelmed when I think about those lofty goals. Here’s what I know about taking one deep breath when I step into the shower tomorrow… I can do it! And I think that’s part of the equation we’re looking for… a very high confidence level that I can make this happen. SO… I’m committing to one very small act… and I invite you to do the same. Be sure to let me know how it goes.

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

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Acceptance

My main area of focus at work (healthcare) is behavior change. How do we help people get motivated to make healthy changes in their lives… eat healthier, exercise, quit smoking? I’d been thinking a lot about this notion of getting people to “do the right thing.” I mean, there is a lot of evidence that eating nutritious foods and exercising keeps you healthy. I’m not exactly sure where this rant (see below) came from or how acceptance fits into the whole healthy decision-making process, but the other day I sat down and the following words just leapt out on the page… feel free to add your two cents!

What if we stopped trying to change people? What if we asked them how much fun they’re having each day? What if we
focused on all the great things they manage to do in a day and that they woke up this morning and made it to the point of connecting with us? What if we just said… OK… and stopped fighting, pushing and screaming, into change? What if we started from a place of acceptance?

What would that look like? Every patient gets asked how much fun they’ve had this week? Every patient gets complimented on their lives…
whatever they’re doing right. We don’t talk about healthy eating, exercise or tobacco cessation… we talk about play, and fun, and feeling good. We ask people what it would take for them to be happy. to take good care of themselves. We ask them how they’re taking care of themselves now. We stop doling out drugs for every known symptom and start having a true conversation about the power of
positivity and self-empowerment. We stop judging our patients and start connecting with them as real people. People with busy lives. People with fears and concerns… families and churches… loved ones and careers. We treat them as vibrant, healthy people who’ve lost connection with their inner source of vitality and joy. We hold their hand as they quiet their mind and reconnect with their body.

Stop trying to change me. Honor, accept and acknowledge that I am perfectly wonderful exactly as I am.

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

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