Love After Love

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

From Poet Derek Walcott

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Self-Compassion – Be your own Valentine

Love and Compassion: Be your own Valentine
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A lifetime without
 Love is of no account
Love is the Water of Life
Drink it down with heart and soul!
~ Rumi, mystic poet

February, and specifically the celebration of Valentine’s Day, turns our thoughts to love and romantic relationship. As joyous and beautiful romance and deep relationships are, I want to turn your attention today toward the most beloved of all relationships – the one you have with yourself. Mindful living is nothing if not an expression of the love we have for our lives, our spirits and bodies; a way of caring for our hearts. When we love and show compassion for ourselves, we are able to more deeply connect with others and relate to our world meaningfully.

How can we more intentionally bring this kind of love and compassion into our lives? This question prompts a return to a Native American teaching parable I’ve shared with you in the past. It is the story of “Two Wolves Within”. Here is a reminder of that parable:

A Native American Elder was once describing his inner turmoil with a dear friend. He struggled to find the words and after a period of quiet reflection, he shared this:

“Inside each of us are two wolves. There is a Good Wolf and there is a Bad Wolf. The Bad Wolf is mean, sad, negative and angry. The Good Wolf is open-hearted, kind and loving. The Bad Wolf fights the Good Wolf all day.”
He fell silent again, and after a time, his friend spoke. “Which Wolf wins?” he asked the Elder.

The old man reflected again for a moment and then replied,
“Whichever Wolf we feed the most”.

Ponder that story for a moment…..what rises up for you?

whitewolf

Notice in your daily life the moments when you are aware of feeding your inner “Wolves”. Do you feed the Good Wolf – or the Bad Wolf? What emotions arise as a result of these choices? The greater awareness we have of both the little and large choices we make and the subsequent paths they take us down, the better our chances of making more loving (and Good Wolf nurturing) decisions.

As a result of simply increasing awareness, you will begin making more Good Wolf choices. When we make these kinds of choices, we feel energized, encouraged, balanced and centered and as such, we are expressing love for ourselves. No matter what, we will sometimes still feed the Bad Wolf. We are human after all, and the purpose of living mindfully is gentle progress (include peace for just who we are) – but never perfection.

When we are aware and regard ourselves with kindness, the Bad Wolf has minimal negative impact on our lives. In fact, sometimes the Bad Wolf even helps by teaching us powerful insights – like pointing the way to the next growth edge or learning curve. With that kind of instruction, we can gently redirect ourselves back to nurturing the Good Wolf and expressing love and self-compassion.

How often do you feed the Bad Wolf of self-criticism, impatience, judgment, even disgust? What would it feel like instead to treat yourself as you would your dearest friend, or as a mother comforts her child? Imagine how you would respond to the experience of compassion, empathy and love for yourself. My hunch is that you would begin making more Good Wolf choices from this stance of compassionate self-acceptance – and more readily experience joy, energy, an abundance of well-being and yes – Love! These positive emotions lead to healthier, more supportive choices for how we care for our bodies, our hearts and our minds. Acceptance and love brings purposeful and meaningful change. Now that is the power of living mindfully!

Here are some tips for feeding compassionate self-love and building up your “Good Wolf Pack” in the process:

1. Reflect on a part of your life that feels conflicting or incongruent; a part of your life that is in conflict with how you want to live. It could be smoking cigarettes, binge-eating, laying on the couch in front of the TV, isolating yourself from loved ones, or a multitude of other choices that disconnect you from your authenticity.

2. Whenever you notice these behaviors or patterns of thinking, take a moment to pause and reflect.

3. As you pause and reflect, open yourself to what emotions you are feeling and what you sense in your body. Do you feel anxious? Lonely? Angry? Hungry? Tired? What else? Take note of these feelings, simply noting them as they are.

4. Notice with compassion and acceptance whatever emotions, thoughts or physical sensations come to the surface as you simply reflect. What are you longing for? What do you need? How can you lovingly comfort and support yourself? You may even find it helpful to place a hand (or your hands folded) over your heart.

5. Gently ask yourself a few questions to guide your awareness and acceptance. You might try questions like: What is it I need right now? What do I care most about? What is really important to me right now? How can I show myself compassion and love right now? Whatever thoughts and feelings come to the surface, accept them without judgment.

6. Return to the conflict and choices at hand. You will be amazed by what happens when you practice these steps with consistency and kindness!
Self compassion frees us from self-criticism and the self-abuse that so often comes when we feel inner conflict. It is a simple truth: When we are beating ourselves up, we can’t be mindful of what is actually possible in the present moment. Mindful living comes from making choices that arise from compassion and a loving relationship within. This is most possible when we are aware and accepting of what is alive in our moment-to-moment experience.

In this way, bit by bit, we learn to hold our hearts within our own loving hands. That is the Good Wolf at its best!

Healthy, loving people are very much like healthy wolves: Keen, loyal to oneself and one’s pack, playful, intuitive, brave, adaptive and vibrant!

Please remember to send yourself a Valentine this month, in whatever form shows genuine love and compassion for the Beloved within you.

~May our hearts be filled with Loving-Kindness~
Lori

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Informational session for MBSR

Hi Everyone!

The upcoming informational session for Feb 11th is now closed for further registration.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, the next workshop series begins on March 4th.

An informational session is scheduled for Sunday, March 3rd at 5:30. Please email an RSVP to register by emailing lori@mindfulmichigan.com and share your name and phone number. Hope to see you there! Lori

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Breathing Mindfully…….

Here’s a helpful little article that explains why mindful breathing goes beyond the usual “Take a Breath” refrain….there’s a little more involved!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-schoeberlein/mindfulness-stress_b_2131482.html

Notice what happens when you pause, take a natural breath, and pay close attention to the sensation of the breathe as it enters and leaves the body…… it creates an instant shift!

For a guided practice, try the 5 minute breathing practice posted on the website…do you see it just to the right of this post?  Give a listen and notice what happens.  I’d love to hear your experiences!  Please post comments and questions below.

Wishing you well,

Lori

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Wisdom from Emerson

From Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.

This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.Elephant

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Next mindfulness workshop series scheduled!

The next MBSR workshop series is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 4th. This is a series of eight weekly class meetings on Mondays from 5:30-7:45pm.  

waterdropCurious to learn more?  Informational sessions are free and scheduled on:  Monday, February 11th, 5:30-7pm and on Sunday, March 3rd, 5:30-7pm.  

Please RSVP via email to attend an informational session, learn more, ask your questions and possibly register for the workshop.

Email:  lori@mindfulmichigan to RSVP.  Please share your name, phone number and which date you’d like to attend.  Maybe 2013 will be your year to begin living more mindfully.  I’m here to support you.   ~ Lori

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To resolve or not to resolve?

“To Resolve or Not to Resolve?”

I am often asked questions about the infamous “New Year’s Resolution”.  To resolve or not to resolve, that is the never ending annual question!  As many of us have learned through personal experience, most resolutions fail to take a meaningful and sustainable hold.  There are some very important reasons for this predictable and discouraging outcome.  But first, let’s review the typical defeating pattern:

1.  First comes the emotional roller coaster, exhaustion, over-consumption and general chaos of the holiday season, often leaving us feeling out of balance and not centered.

2.  Next comes the traditional New Year’s with cultural pressure and encouragement to resolve to be and do “better” next year. The calendar gives us a psychological “reset” button, a fresh start.  And perhaps in this seasonal “heat of the moment”, we set our resolutions.

3.  These resolutions are generally lofty, as we verbally vow statements like “This year I’m going to get into shape”, or “This year I’ll lose that 15 pounds”, or “This year I’m going to eat right.”   You know these typical resolutions!  We’ve heard or vowed them for many years.

4.  Unfortunately, as early as February, most of us have “failed” or forgotten our resolutions, feeling that we’ve missed the window of opportunity to start anew. We become discouraged and perhaps even berate ourselves for lacking discipline or will-power.  Then the pattern often repeats itself a year later during the next holiday season.  Ugh!

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s okay.  We’re human and this cultural trap calls for self-compassion.  There is a better way and I humbly offer a few suggestions.

When people ask if I recommend making New Year’s resolutions, or if I establish any for myself, the answer is “No”.  I say this because the New Year’s Resolution tradition is, for the most part, a trap.  It’s a trap because the tradition lacks planning, strategies and the necessary small steps to support the desired results.  The process of change and transformation is complex and requires the tincture of time combined with direction.  Rather than “resolving”, I recommend utilizing the power of Mindfulness.  Typical “resolutions” take us far into the future without the necessary scaffolding beneath the vision thereby depriving us of the clear essential steps to take in the Present Moment.  By harnessing the power of Mindfulness, we can instead ask ourselves guiding questions about how we want to live in each moment.  It is moment by moment that we live into our vision.  It is through small daily thoughts and behaviors that we slowly but surely transform ourselves.  It happens in this moment.  And then, in this moment.  And in this moment too.  You get the idea……

If you set a resolution this past New Year’s Eve, I only encourage you to “back it up” with a commitment to being mindful in the present.  We can start “anew” in every moment; we don’t have to wait for the new calendar year to come around again!   As my favorite Mindfulness teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn says:  “This is it!   Right now is My Life”.   If we live in that spirit, we will transform and become our best selves and do so with compassion and awareness instead of self-criticism and sabotage.  Let us live and thrive with kindness, awareness and  meaningful choices made in the Here-And-Now.  This way of living is absolutely possible in every moment, provided we pause, notice and choose.

2013 provides a theme for my offerings to you; it is infused with the principles of mindfulness and how they support our well-being.  I am learning along with you and will share my journey.  As always, it is a privilege to be a part of your lives for another year.

Wishing you peace and ease of being,  Lori

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