Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “growth”

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

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

 

Acorn to Oak

I was listening to a program recently that was giving the analogy of an acorn turning into an Oak tree. The basic take-away, at least according to my perception, was that we already have everything we need inside of us to become everything we are meant to be. The acorn, in its tiny seed form, holds the blueprint for a great, mighty Oak. Of course, there are the external factors that do have some influence on how well the tree grows and develops. Good soil, water, sunshine. But as long as the basic needs are met, the tree will grow and fulfill its destiny.

Could that be true for us humans as well?

And if it is true, how do we use this analogy to help us relax into becoming our best self? What are the soil, water and sunshine equivalents in our own lives? And how do we learn to distinguish between the necessary elements that will help us grow… and those that won’t, or even worse, actually hinder our growth?

I guess I’m wondering if I’m trying too hard. How would my world change if I believed that I already had all the knowledge I needed to be my best self? At this point in my life, I will admit, I’ve done a lot of seeking… read a lot of self-help books… and purchased more than my share of “healing” programs. If this acorn bit is true, perhaps I didn’t really need any of it? Or maybe a little bit is fine… like watering the plant… but too much is like a flood. (Certainly I need some of it as fodder for these blog posts, right?!!) I feel like I’m always trying to do things to learn and grow. To some extent that’s who I am and I like it. On the flip side, this constant struggle to always do more is exhausting.

Perhaps the answer lies in paying more attention to what feeds my soul. When it comes to so-called self-help books… Am I reading because I think I’m not enough and I need to learn more… or because the content of what I’m reading excites me and makes me want to keep reading? When it comes to volunteering… Am I saying yes because it’s something I want to do… something that will have a beneficial consequence to me or someone I love… or am I saying yes because I feel guilty and want others to like me?

Aha moment… I haven’t spent enough time making sure that the way I spend my time is supporting my best self. One example is magazines… I read a lot of them. I’m realizing I get a very small return on that time invested. Once in a great while I’ll apply the information I read… or pass it on to a friend. Most of the time, the information goes in and out… with nary an impact. Why do I keep reading magazines… and more importantly, why do I keep buying them? Maybe there’s a belief somewhere inside that reading magazines will make me smart… or that there will be information in there that cannot be missed? (Any therapists out there who want to weigh in?)

I’m making a commitment: Spend more time thinking about how I spend my time! This, by the way, is very much aligned with my theme for 2013 – my year for making conscious choices. I guess my take away is this… there are a lot of ways to spend time. If we already have the blueprint for success within ourselves… perhaps the best use of that time is to consciously choose things that make us happy or make us proud.

I encourage you to share your thoughts…

Love and laughter to you! ~Rashel

Baby Steps, Indeed

I think I was just tested on spiritual maturity… and I may have failed.

I interviewed for a job promotion recently. I didn’t get it. I was Super disappointed (you’ll notice that’s not just regular super… that’s Super with a capital S!). I tried to talk myself into a spiritual place… you know – saying things to myself like, “things happen for a reason,” “it wasn’t meant to be,” “now you’re available for the right thing that’s going to come along soon,” etc., etc., etc. The problem was, my ego wasn’t going for it… it had a field day. “You’re not good enough,” “You’re not appreciated,” “You screwed up the interview,” “You’re not as great as you think you are,” “You didn’t really have a chance in the first place.” I could go on… but you get the drift. My negative thoughts were definitely outweighing the positive.

I happen to be reading Wayne Dyer’s book ‘The Shift’ at this very same time (synchronicity, perhaps?). The book talks about our journey from ambition to meaning. It explains how we move from initially recognizing ourselves as separate and needing to compete for everything… to a place where we are connected to everything and can trust in the Universe to take care of us.

“Our highest self doesn’t feel threatened by others because it doesn’t embrace the concept of separateness. Not feeling separate, our desire for a purposeful life nurtures a sense of unity with all other beings. This feeling of connectedness flows in the direction of compassion; ultimately, we reach out to the world with gentleness, humility, and kindness because we’ve returned to our original nature.”
~The Shift by Dr. Wayne W Dyer.

Ok, so let’s say I get to the place of believing that we’re all connected… and one person’s joy and accomplishment does not come at the expense of my own… isn’t it pushin’ it just a bit to believe that we will all be taken care of? There is definitely a part of me that is doubtful. I look around and see plenty of examples of what I consider to be “NOT” taken care of. Then again, this implies that I know, better than God or the Universe, what it means to be taken care of. I’m pretty sure we can all think of times in our lives when we thought something was horrible… but then it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Not necessarily easy, or pain-free… but good in the sense that it helped us grow… or be where we needed to be when something else came along.

Now, even when I get to the point of talking myself into the possibility that we are taken care of in this world… I still struggle with what it means to “allow” for this possibility. I’m quite certain it does not mean we go sit on the couch and wait for things to happen. I guess the best answer I’ve come up with is that “allowing” is when we let go of all the struggling and stressing and tune in to our own wisdom.  The irony is that you need to slow down and stop being so busy in order to hear… but we’re constantly pushing ourselves to hurry up… do more… compete… get ahead. How did we get it all so backward? It reminds me of when I’m working on a crossword puzzle and I can’t think of an answer… if I walk away and distract myself for a bit, the answer comes without effort. I think somehow it could be that easy… if we could figure out how to detach from the process and the outcome… hahahahah… easy, peasy!!!

Well, if the last couple weeks have taught me anything, it’s that I certainly need to do some work around trusting and allowing. I guess you could say that not getting promoted was the best thing that could have happened… not easy… not pain-free… but definitely filled with opportunity for growth and development.  So really instead of being Super disappointed, I should be Super appreciative… Well, I might not be there quite yet, but I’ll work on it!

Trust… Allow… Be thankful… Trust… Allow… Be thankful.   ~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

Garden Math

I was reading an article in Shambala Sun the other day and it really caught my attention. It was using the analogy of a garden to explain the importance of getting rid of weeds (time-wasters) and planting seeds (taking time for meditation) that would later bloom (calmer state). The analogy hit home with me and made we wonder… how many plants I am trying to stuff into my garden and can you even see them amongst the weeds?

I don’t think I’m too different from others who are trying to balance their crazy lives. I’d simply like to fit in some meditation, yoga, aerobic exercise, weights, reiki, fun time with my family, exploring poetry and reading for pleasure into my daily routine. …What?

The article talked about the importance of weeding. Getting rid of time wasters and limiting your daily intake of information seems like good advice to me. I actually feel like I’ve already taken steps in this direction. For one thing, I gave up watching the news and reading the newspaper a long time ago. It’s funny, you think you’re going to have no clue what’s going on, but what I’ve found is that anything big enough to deserve attention gets talked about by friends and family. As an added bonus, it’s a great way to hone my listening skills as I allow people to fill me in on the news worth talking about. Yes, I have to give up being the first to know… but that was never my strong point anyway!

Another weed that contributes to the problem is screen time. Whether it’s watching TV, searching the internet or spending time on all those really cool apps like FacebookPinterest, or Words with Friends – the end result is the same… time suckers!  Now here’s the thing… I don’t think these things are inherently bad. I have a healthy obsession with Draw Some lately that has been building my creative muscles and lending itself well to my graphic facilitation work. Here’s the thing… imagine you’re getting ready to start your garden. You don’t just randomly grab a bunch of seeds and throw them on the ground. First you prepare the space… till the soil, clear the weeds, etc. (get rid of time wasters). Then you decide which plants you want to grow and whether or not your growing conditions are compatible with that particular plant (what habits do I want to include in my day, will these habits support the vision I hold for myself, and will my current schedule, minus my time wasters, allow for it?).

Here’s what I’ve realized about me… I have a modest slice of space for my garden and a barrel full of seeds. Here’s my plan… I’m going to search for weeds, and then pick some of my favorite seeds for planting based on the amount of space I have left. This should seem obvious, but I swear it was like a lightbulb went off when I was reading it the other day. The fact that I would need to clear space… that I couldn’t just expect to add in whatever lovely habit I was wanting to pick up without figuring out what I could let go of in order to have the energy and time to make it successful – what a concept!

So, it seems to come down to some simple math. I must first subtract before I add. The exciting news is that not all seeds are created equal. When we start doing some weeding and we start picking and choosing our seeds a little more closely… making sure that the ones we “grab” are in line with our goals and values… we will start seeing the positive effects of tending to our garden and then we can enjoy the multiplicative effects of an abundant harvest.

So… if you feel like commenting, I would love to know what weeds are growing in your garden and which seeds you’ll be planting this season.

Love and much laughter to you all!  ~Rashel

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