Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “truth”

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

Authenticity Test: My Choice between Liar or Loser

I had a very interesting experience today. I was attending a work meeting. The meeting started off innocently enough. There were 60 or so people – a fairly robust crowd. In lieu of having every person introduce themselves, which would have taken a considerable amount of time, the facilitator led a warm-up exercise to get the meeting started. The instruction was to stand up if you could answer yes to the statement… can speak more than one language… was not born in the United States… has English as a second language (most of the statements revolved around the upcoming presentation on Latino health). The last question was, “have attended the big-deal presentation that everyone is expected to have attended” (big-deal being code for the name of the actual presentation).

Now during the warm-up exercise, there is a mix of attendees standing and sitting throughout. UNTIL… that last question. As I looked around to see who else, besides me, had not attended the big-deal presentation, I noticed that most everyone was standing. Then, much to my dismay, the facilitator decided to further bring the point home. “I noticed that a couple people in the back there were not standing. Please stand if you have not attended the big-deal presentation.”

Then… it happened. Uh…. should I stand? What do I do? All of the various reasons why I had not yet attended said big-deal presentation came rushing to my brain. Do I admit my failure and stand up? (Surely others will see me as a complete loser!) Or pretend that I, too, had done what was obviously the expected action? (Liar, liar, pants on fire!)

The interesting thing is this… as all of the excuses and thoughts about whether or not to “fess up” were racing through my head… and there were lots of excuses… and a lot of thoughts (and doubts)… all the while… I noticed my body standing up. What? Wait? Huh?

As my eyes slowly took in the room… from the far left… to the far right… not a single other person was standing. My gaze quickly circled back to my boss, who was sitting on the left side of the room. And then my panicked gaze darted back and forth between my sitting boss and the sitting Director of my department. sitting boss… sitting Director… sitting boss… Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

So, at this point, I have a choice. But the choice is not whether or not to experience the moment… because of course I’m embarrassed. That’s a given. No one wants to be called out as the lone person who did not complete an assignment. I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t bother me. The choice is really in the aftermath. Do I spend the rest of the day beating myself up and worrying about what everyone thinks of me? Do I make up stories about how this incident will surely ruin my career and stain my reputation? Or… do I acknowledge the embarrassment and move on, as difficult as that may be. In an absolutely beautiful moment, I might even be able to appreciate my courage to be authentic… to stand up in the face of impending doom and own my situation.

Here’s what I came to realize… at the end of the day, none of us are perfect. And I’m realizing that being authentic is not about being perfect. It’s about being real. It’s about standing up… standing out… and being ok with who we are… imperfections and all. It’s letting go of the need for perfection and recognizing that there is enormous beauty in acceptance.

So from one imperfect person to another, I invite you to STAND UP… take a deep breath… and love yourself fully!  ~Rashel

 

Happiness

I’ve read and heard a lot of people talk about the fact that when you get down to it… what people really want… what truly matters… is being happy. You want money so you can feel safe… so you can be happy. You want friends so you don’t get lonely… so you can be happy. Certainly we place a lot of emphasis on being happy. And yet, there are a lot of ways that we sabotage our happiness. For one thing, we often look outside of ourselves for happiness… we depend on other people or external circumstances to lift our mood… make us smile or laugh. Often we don’t even take the time to understand what makes us happy. I had a really interesting epiphany when I went through ‘The Writer’s Way’ by Julia Cameron (13 weeks of daily writing pages and weekly fun dates). In this amazing guided spiritual journey, you are asked to schedule one thing for yourself each week that is completely fun and fulfilling (at least, this is my recollection – it’s been a while). I didn’t really know what I liked to do for fun. I was so caught up in what I needed to do every day that I hadn’t tapped into my enjoyment factor in a long time. Do you know what makes you happy? Ever since that experience, I’ve done a better job at paying attention to what I enjoy doing… not that I always get to it… but at least I know what “it” is!

In Marci Shimoff’s book, Happy For No Reason, we are invited to explore the possibility that we can be happy right in this minute… regardless of any external circumstances. Is that possible? Is it really just a matter of perspective? Seeing the glass half full instead of half empty? In the emergence material I’ve been working with, Derek Rydell gives an analogy that I find interesting. Imagine a time when you were really happy… something great has happened and you are just smack dab in the middle of it. Take a moment to experience it. Did you feel happy in that moment that you were imagining being happy? If you imagined well, you did. According to Rydell, this is basically proof positive that we do have the ability to make ourselves feel happy in any given moment. But of course, the larger question for me becomes – do you just walk around in an imaginary state, imagining yourself happy? What would that even look like?

I can imagine the water cooler conversations would shift dramatically! If you think about it, most of the time, for the majority of us, we walk around whining and complaining about our life circumstances. I’m going to suggest that in most cases, there are as many great things as negative things going on in our lives. (If you can’t think of any, circle back to some of the basics we take for granted like friends, family, etc.) If you step back, from a larger perspective, isn’t it just as much a lie to focus on only the negatives as it is to focus on just positives? And yet, I will admit for myself, it’s hard not to get caught up in what’s not working and what I’d like to have different. I certainly don’t think of myself as making things up and lying to myself just because I’m focusing on the “issues” in my life. Why is it so hard for me to turn my focus around on the positive?

I do believe that what you focus on, you get more of. In fact, I can easily see that the more I focus on what’s wrong, what’s not working, the issues in my life… the more I tend to notice what’s wrong, what’s not working and how very inconvenient those “issues” in my life are! I can even attest to this phenomenon in situations that are neutral… for example, after buying a Ford Edge – I went from not even realizing that this car existed to thinking that at least half the population in the bay area must have just realized what a great car this was… they were everywhere!  Obviously, they were already there… but once my focus was attuned to this car, I noticed. The challenging part is that when I try to focus on the positive things in my life, I don’t always feel like this phenomena sets in… sometimes it feels like the negative is just there… at the ready… waiting!  I guess my quest is not to understand why the negative is so easy to stick with… as much as it is to explore the possibility of changing that engrained habit of where to focus… and shifting to a positive state as much as possible. Perhaps the trick is to practice “being happy” as much as possible so you can start stringing those moments together into a happy life.

Let’s give it a shot, shall we? Love and laughter to you! ~Rashel

 

Perception is Reality… right?

I saw a show the other day that talked about the brain… and how we perceive things. It gave an example where it showed a color photo with a white dot in the middle of the picture. The directions were to stare at the white dot. I stared. Then the guy on TV started talking about how our brains filter information and will make adjustments as not to overwhelm our minds. To be perfectly honest, at first, I had no idea why the guy was saying all that. I didn’t notice anything weird about what I’d seen. Then they showed the example again… and the guy referred to the fact that the color photo was swapped with a black and white photo. The crazy thing is… when the photo is first swapped, you still see color! Our brains know what is supposed to be there and we fill in the blanks accordingly. It reminds me of another cool trick that has circled around email in the past… where a bunch of letters are missing from a paragraph, but amazingly when you go to read it, you know exactly what it’s supposed to say. Our brains are amazing… they fill in the blanks.

So… that made me wonder about perception vs. reality. If we see the color of the photograph even though the image has been switched to black and white… then our perception (color) is not reality (black and white)… right? If we can read the paragraph with all the missing letters, then our perception (a complete paragraph) is not reality (a jumble of letters that do not make complete sentences).  But what about situations where no one is pointing out the mismatch? What if we glanced at the photo for a moment and saw color when there was none… but no one was there to point it out? Reality, after all, is relative… right? My reality might very well be that I saw a color photograph. And if I didn’t have the email explanation following the paragraph of incomplete sentences… if it did, in fact, read like a regular paragraph to me – wouldn’t my reality be as such… that I had just read a complete paragraph? I guess the question I’m really getting at is this… Is reality objective or subjective? And how does that effect our daily lives?

I was listening to an audio recently by Brent Phillips. He gives an analogy that really struck a chord with me… a coin. Now… there are inherent qualities to a coin. It’s made of metal. It’s round. One side of the coin is Heads. One side of the coin is Tails. What determines whether you see heads or tails? The way that you look at the coin. The inherent quality of the coin never changes. It always has both a heads side and a tails side. Even if you’re looking at the coin and you only see the heads side… you know that there is a tails side if you decide to look at the coin differently. Whether you’re looking at the heads side or the tails side, it does not change the inherent quality of the coin.

I’d like to suggest that every single thing in our life is like that coin… it has a heads side and a tails side depending on how we look at it. Now you might be asking yourself… which is the positive side… the heads or the tails? Well that’s just our human selves trying to make the subjective into an objective reality again! You know that saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? One person’s pleasure is another’s pain. It’s all based on perception! Have you ever watched “Swamp People” on Discovery Channel? Those people are passionate about hunting alligator. They get excited about hunting their prey – or if they’re not, they do a darn good job pretending! I can’t even imagine going anywhere near the bayou… let alone getting anywhere near an alligator… and definitely wouldn’t try to shoot the thing and pull it up on my boat! PERCEPTION people! This is the highlight of their day!

The definition of Perception from Wikipedia is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to fabricate a mental representation through the process of transduction, which sensors in the body transform signals from the environment into encoded neural signals.[1] All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs.[2] For example, vision involves light striking the retinas of the eyes, smell is mediated by odor molecules and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive receipt of these signals, but can be shaped by learning, memory and expectation.

What’s fascinating to me about all of this is how caught up we are in “reality” and needing to “see” in order to believe. On some level, it seems like the world is just one big illusion where we individually fill in the blanks of what is true. That’s certainly what the latest Law of Attraction and positive psychology research seems to be saying. Our perception of reality… is reality. To the extent that we can influence our perceptions… we can influence our reality. WOW.  I guess that’s all for tonight. Stay tuned!

Love and laughter… if you choose to perceive it!  ~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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