Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “Shopping”

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

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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

More on Reality…

I went on vacation last week… thus no post last Monday – sorry about that! There were quite a few instances that made me think of whether we do, or do not, create our own reality. On some level, I believe that we do… but I’m not always sure how…or for that matter, why? Our family was supposed to go to Disneyland for a week. At the last-minute, some pieces of the details fell through. We still wanted to do something so my husband did lots of web surfing and landed on pismo beach. Sounded good! Then we couldn’t get the place we wanted because they were booked. I started checking on condo rentals, but everything was full.

So, lets stop for a moment to consider… this was the reality I was creating.  The inability to find a place to relax and enjoy a getaway with my family. Stress and tension over where we were going to stay, if we were going to go, when we would know if we were going or not… you get the point. Nothing so great about that reality. If we create our own reality, then I was creating that. WHY?

Instead of continuing to stress out, I decided to focus on what I wanted to get from my vacation. Rest and relaxation! Not having to plan anything or hurry in any way. Laying on the beach or at the pool. Getting massages and body wraps. Doing yoga and going on hikes. Being around happy, well-rested people who want to do everything I want to do! Probably a little bit idealistic, but I tried to relax and assume that the universe would deliver one way or the other – even if the vacation didn’t end up seeming exactly like what I wanted – I would be open to the possibility that I would get exactly what I needed right now. Which, I will admit, is very hard to do when nothing seems to be coming together – but did the best I could.

Here’s what happened. My husband saw a picture one of our friends put on FB. He messaged her to ask about the place. She was having a great time and recommended it highly.  He booked it for 2 nights and put plans in the works to stay at a friend’s cabin for a couple more nights. Of course, we were planning to have a longer vacation than two nights and the friend’s cabin was not a sure thing, but I focused on what I wanted and played along. We headed off on our week-long vacation with two nights booked.

Everything seemed to slip into place as we went along. Car ride was seamless. We were upgraded to a nicer room upon checking in. The place had a pool and a spa and a slide! We put on our suits and headed to the pool for some relaxation. Then… 4:00 rolled around and it started pouring rain… thunder and lightning ensued. Really?

Here’s where I think it gets interesting. The dictionary doesn’t offer much distinction between fact and reality. I believe there is quite a distinction. The fact was that it was storming. But we each had an opportunity to define our own reality by determining our perception and reaction to the facts before us. Since hanging at the pool and lying in the sun were what we had planned for ourselves, it was very easy to get discouraged and feel like the vacation was not going well. However, it was also possible to grab the umbrella and find some new adventures… ones that we might not otherwise have had if it hadn’t rained. We ventured out and had a fun night… which included racing through some very big puddles! We spent a little more time in the room than we had initially thought we would… which made it even nicer that we’d been upgraded!

The cabin that we were hoping to get for the last 2 nights did not come through… are you noticing a theme here? We booked one additional night at the current hotel and then got invited to stay with some friends in their condo the last night. The extra day at the pool was the nicest of all (which we would have missed if we’d only spent two nights), we had a great time with our friends and in the end, had a relaxing, enjoyable vacation. And, looking back on my list of vacation desires… I did pretty good. We slept in every morning, we laid by the pool, I got a massage and did some yoga in the room. Pretty good. So… back to the question about creating our own reality. Did I do that? Did I just get lucky? Is creating your reality just a matter of choosing to see the positive aspects of the various “facts” that present themselves? Or is there more to it than that?  I don’t know… but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Love and laughter!!  ~Rashel

Pause… and Effect

I’ve been reading Martha Beck‘s latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. I like Martha’s books and her column in O Magazine. The thing is, I find that her most simple and straightforward advice is the hardest to implement. In her book, The Joy Diet, the number one road to JOY she says is pausing… taking time to meditate or find stillness every day. I’d tell you more about the road to joy, but she suggests in her book that you not move on to the next step until you’ve mastered the one before… so that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Now I’m reading about Finding Your Way… which is divided into four parts. The first is wordlessness — which again pertains to pausing… stillness… connecting to your nonverbal self for a period of time each day. I read this and a part of me resonates with truth and a certain knowing… Y E S !!!  and then I stop to wonder… why am I not doing this? Why is this so dang hard to implement when there is no part of me that questions the value? I realize that this is true of numerous things in my life… the difference between knowing and doing. Exercise comes to mind… eating healthy meals and snacks… drinking lots of water… always lathering on the sunscreen… the list goes on. Then again, if I had to choose just one thing to do every day that I thought would have the biggest impact on my life, it would definitely be meditating or taking time to be still and let go of the verbal chatter. Yet, I still don’t do it. Oh don’t get me wrong… it’s not like I never do it – but I don’t do it every day. And there’s something about the ritual of doing it every day. It’s like taking a walk every now and again… doesn’t exactly lend itself to a fit and toned body.

I was reading an article by Leo Babauta on how he managed to start flossing after years of not. He has a pretty straightforward approach that may just make way too much sense to be embraced by the masses. He suggests that you pick a trigger, use a visual reminder, start very small, focus on the enjoyment and mark it on your calendar. (read the whole article here… http://zenhabits.net/floss/). The take away for me is that I would like to use his approach to start meditating every day… tackle one small thing, take a very small step forward, set up my environment for success and track my progress. OK… now we’re talking.

I do love to meditate, but there are certain things I associate with this practice. At least 20 minutes of quiet time with no distractions. HAHAHAHA… that’s why I don’t do it more often. It is rare for me to have this combination of factors in my current life! I’ve actually managed to carve out some time at work to meditate… but the idea of integrating this practice into my home life seems overwhelming. That’s where Leo’s approach starts to seem more feasible.

Here’s my plan to add stillness (we’ll get to meditation later!)…
pick a trigger… my trigger will be brushing my teeth in the morning and at night;
use a visual reminder… I will put a sticky note on my toothbrush;
start very small… I will be still for 2 minutes – the amount of time my electric toothbrush takes;
focus on the enjoyment… I will take a moment to be thankful for this moment of stillness; and
mark it on your calendar… I will get a small calendar to track my progress and post it on the wall next to the bathroom sink.

What would you like to do that you aren’t doing because it seems overwhelming or too big to pursue? How can you incorporate the steps above to realize your goal? The beginning of a great dream begins with one step. TAKE IT… track it… do it.

Love and laughter to you!  ~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

The Good, the Bad… and the rest of the week

So… it was an interesting week – week one on the Game On! diet. I’ll admit up front that I’ve never thought of myself as someone who could stick to a diet. I don’t do well with lots of restrictive rules… does anyone? If you tell me I can’t do something… well… is that a challenge?

The week actually started off pretty well… I was following all the guidelines… 5 smeals, 3 liters of water, 30 minutes of exercise and 7 hours of sleep. Smeals, by the way, are the name I’ve given to the food that is eaten every few hours 5x/day on this plan. It’s not a usual snack – I tend to think of snacks as one food – like an apple… or Doritos! It’s also not the typical meal… which is usually much bigger and much more processed than anything that qualifies in this plan. A small amount of complex carb, lean protein and healthy fat = a smeal. Anyway, I had started off pretty well. Then Friday rolled around. You get one day off with this diet – and Friday was my day. I found myself wanting to go out and splurge. I maintained pretty well, but I definitely noticed the defiant part of me that wanted to just go off the deep end.

I had girlfriends over on Friday night and ended up having more wine than is allowed… even on your day off. SO… I had to take some negative points for that. But over the weekend I put in some extra long exercise sessions and felt pretty good about the whole thing.

Then… duh… duh… duh… I got on the scale yesterday morning. The deal is that you can weigh yourself once per day… but if you weigh yourself more than that, you have to take penalty points. The idea being, that if you become obsessed with the scale, well, that’s not good. The reality for me is that I don’t weigh myself regularly, and I hadn’t weighed myself during the week. Then, on Monday morning when I woke up, I forgot to weigh myself first thing. I had my smeal and then remembered to weigh. It was still pretty much morning and I really didn’t think my one piece of toast with cottage cheese and banana was going to make much of a difference. I got on the scale and I hadn’t lost a pound.

Now… my rationale mind was going on about the fact that it wasn’t first thing in the morning, but there was another side of me… and a not-so-very-nice-side, I might add… that was very upset. I was at once frustrated, humiliated and angry. WOW. I’m embarrassed to say that it effected my whole day. I had big plans for Monday, including writing this blog!!, and at the end of the day, I’m sad to say, most of it didn’t happen. I cleaned… I know I’m not the only one who finds solace in sponges and rags… and cleaning the crap out of something when you need to release some energy!

So, here’s what my conscious mind is finding fascinating. As much as I can intellectually talk about what’s going on and why I might be having certain reactions, I’m still having those reactions! Where does logical thinking coincide with action? Why am I so concerned about following the rules of this game, when it’s really my health that should be the greatest motivator of all, right?  Regardless of whether or not I lost weight, I made a ton of really healthy decisions last week, and I should be really proud of those actions. But… I wasn’t. Well… I was… but I really cared about the weight. And the extra points I lost because I didn’t lose 1% of my weight that week.

This whole scenario got me thinking… I work in healthcare and I generally tell people not to go on diets. (I know… ironic!) The thing is, when we just tell people to eat healthy carbs, lean protein and good fats… well, it’s boring! Exercise 30 minutes most days of the week… yeah – it’s rare to find a person who hasn’t heard that health advice before… but few who are actually doing it. Maybe we need to start looking at the factors that make this game intriguing to people… and that make people engage in the challenge. When we look at healthcare, maybe it’s a little bit about what to do… but even more importantly how we engage people in making those choices every day.

By the way… I decided to weigh myself this morning very first thing… and I was down 3 pounds!! Was it the smeal? Or maybe it just took time to kick in? Either way, I guess what matters is the everyday choices and the work … and if you’re patient… the results will follow.

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