Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “conscious”

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

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

Aligning conscious beliefs with reality

I really do believe that our thoughts create our reality. I also believe that our external reality is a mirror of our internal state-our thoughts and beliefs, both conscious and unconscious. That said… I am still trying to explain and rationalize my experiences over the last two weeks. I got really sick – mentioned that last week. But here’s the thing… it kept going! I was forgetting things, got a parking ticket, had a platter shatter inexplicably in my hands, causing a severe gash in my left finger, forgot my work badge, causing lots of extra signing in and tracking down keys to my desk… it actually goes on, but I’ll spare you the drama! The point is… what happened? I don’t really  believe that things are random. Maybe I needed to learn something? But here’s the more important question… if I believe that my thoughts create my reality and that I have the power to alter the material world by how I perceive and take in the events in my everyday life… which I do… then why haven’t I had the ability over the last couple weeks to shift my reality from pesky negativity to joyous bliss? OK… that may be a little extreme. We can’t have joyous bliss all the time… can we? It is interesting when you listen to the latest gurus on manifesting and creating your reality… there is definitely a yay side and a nay side… one side says you can create all that you want – it’s easy if you let it be easy – relax and allow… the other side acknowledges that tough times exist and are specifically in our life to teach us – therefore we should welcome the hardship as a lesson and allow ourselves to be taught by the experience.

Well… I’m still coughing, exhausted most of the time, my finger hurts and my life feels generally chaotic and messy. I’m trying to bring my conscious awareness to what I am grateful for in each moment, rather than what I am frustrated with. For example, I’m glad my entire finger did not get sliced off… just a portion thereof. I’m glad my parking ticket was from a private group, which apparently charges less than the city of Walnut Creek when doling out the fines. But somehow, these attempts at glass half full are falling short of having any actual impact on the overall gist of my days. In general, I realize that my life is good. Great, in fact. And yet… there is that part of me that wants no friction… no interference with all things aligned and well… a part that wants bliss and nothing less! And of course, the ability to manifest this perfection at will. Too much to ask? I don’t know… doesn’t it seem like some people posses this ability? The ones that have fortune handed to them with the slightest effort on their part. You know what I mean! Then again, maybe that is just because we’re not seeing what is going on behind the scenes.

Alas, I will probably never write an actual book because it seems like all I ever do in this blog is talk about all the things I have questions about and never any answers! I like to complain about the fact that I’m doing all the work and not getting any of the results. That is not actually true, if I’m honest. I do see results and have noticed great progress in my life in how I communicate and work with others. Also, in how I view the world and expect positive outcomes for myself and others. I guess that’s why this little hiccup is causing me such a stir. I’m feeling off my game and I don’t like… no sir, I don’t like it one bit! I guess my quest over the next few weeks will be to notice what shifts my momentum.. because if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that “this too shall pass” and I would do well to learn as much as I can from this part so I’m ready for the next go-round.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’re able to relate. If you’d like to share some of your own journey with beliefs vs. reality, I’d love to hear. Wishing you laughter and joy in each and every moment – never hurts to put it out there!!!  ~Rashel

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