Heard a speaker tonight talk about mindfulness in one’s life. One concept that stood out for me was that of how we get in our own way. He suggested reframing our lives.
His point was that we are taught in this culture to follow a path, for example, to high school, college, job, better job, even better job, retirement. He called this the path of knowledge and the development of the “supermind,” a term he did not like. His philosophy is that one should stop somewhere on that path and engage the “supramind” instead, and be on a path to wisdom. He maintains that the way to do this is through mindfulness, which he defined, according to my notes, as purposely paying attention to the present moment, without judgment, and to do this every moment, and the next and the next. He challenged us to anchor ourselves to the present moment and exist, for a time, nonconceptually. As a thought comes to mind, call it interesting and go back to paying attention to one’s breath. His studies indicate that this practice actually increases our productivity. Corporations are beginning to embrace this practice. He talked of the importance of living a stress-free life and someone made the comment that with stress 70% of one’s brain is hijacked. He added that to experience belonging and oneness one must reduce the stress that makes us feel threatened, powerless, helpless and in despair.
He wore black beads on his wrist, not just because it was a typical thing worn by someone who is into such spiritual exercises. He wore them because his sister died young, without warning, at age 30. It is to remind him of the impermanence of life, and instead of living the “paint by numbers” superself life, to live the “blank canvas” of the supraself life, a life of wisdom and authenticity. He urged that we use mindfulness to reframe how we think of ourselves. He gave an example of learning to see oneself for the first time, and fall in love with the person. He asked us to answer the compelling question, “How am I not being my authentic self?”
Speaker was Dr. William Brendel who teaches at St. Thomas.
I follow a few rules in order to live in this world. Some of them were learned in my life coaching training at Adler Graduate School. One is to hold people as clients as “creative, resourceful and whole.” If a person is on my doorstep asking for coaching, I will believe this to be true.
Adler states that we are social beings who want to belong and find our place in a group. Have you been in a group where you have nothing in common with others? What do you do? Do you change your behavior to fit in? Do you look harder for something in common? Do you keep quiet and observe? Lately I speak up and share my perspective, to the surprise of the listeners. I then tuck up their chin to close their mouths and enjoy the teaching moment.
How we react to the world is a choice. Do we let something get to us? Or let it go? I know that to let things go is very hard, and it requires strength and diligence. It sometimes seems impossible to do. Adler also recognizes that we are motivated by setting goals, not by being nagged into action. No one likes being nagged.
Adler states that how we see the world is not based on absolute truth but on how we assign meaning to it. We look for patterns into which details will fit. An experiment was done at Harvard Medical School where they took some kittens and brought them up in a room that had only horizontal stripes. When these kittens grew up, they could see nothing other than a horizontal world. They took some other kittens and brought them up in a room that had only vertical stripes, and when these kittens grew up they could see nothing other than a vertical world. Of course, it had nothing to do with the belief system of these cats.
Life coaching can help you see more than vertical or horizontal stripes. Through conversations and questions to challenge your perspectives, it can help you find a goal that will make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Life coaching honors your values and sees you as creative, resourceful and whole.
An Adlerian life coach holds that
• The client is creative, resourceful and whole.
• We are social beings who want to belong. and to find our place within a group.
• We are self-determining and creative. We shape our destiny and we decide how we will react to the world.
• We are goal-directed, not pushed by circumstances, but pulled by our goals.
• We give meaning to life. There is not an absolute truth, but reality or truth is how we feel about it and what it means to us.
• We are a part of a whole, and look for patterns into which details will fit.
I am seeing the need to establish another ritual in my life. I’d like to have a morning ritual beyond running for the bathroom and dodging hungry cats.
In college, Wednesday night was “Ritual Night” for my friends and me. At 10:30 pm, no matter where we were in our studies, we all gathered at Culla’s Tavern. Culla was still alive at the time, and would spend her time playing Yahtzee at the end of the bar with her friends. The place served only 3.2 beer, but a pitcher was $1.25, so it was just a matter of processing more to build up to a comfortable buzz. There were hardboiled eggs, nuts and chips behind the bar. I remember three songs played on the jukebox. Songs played were, “10th Avenue Freeze Out” by Bruce Springsteen, “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton and “Shattered” by the Rolling Stones. There were pinball machines like Star Trek which were 3 games for a quarter. The place was a dive, but on Augsburg College property, it was a bit of an embarrassment to the school. I understand the bar was not charged rent so the college could keep it off the annual report.
I will share one ritual that I do when I am driving.
1. Gratitude – say all the things I am grateful for at that moment. I am told one cannot hold depressed thoughts at the same time as one holds thoughts of gratitude. I will look for that article.
2. Requests – I have read everywhere in my research that angels are waiting for us to ask for help. Like vampires at a threshold, they can’t act until we ask for help.
3. Benevolent energy – I ask the universe to send energy to a list of people. This gets to be like prayer, I suppose. I am told the angels know the list and there is no need to recite it each time. I usually say “send benevolent energy to the usual suspects.” My angels must have a sense of humor, as I have not yet been struck by lightning for my “phraseology” of these prayers.
4. Intention – I restate a commitment to myself and the world, visualizing how I see it happening. This crosses into manifesting, picturing something as if it already happened.
5. Listening – a recently added step. I realized I was not listening for an answer. Answers can come in as sentence fragments or snapshots of images. Since I started paying attention, this information is happening more often.
Having a ritual in one’s life, whether it is drinking cheap beer and playing pinball, or a list of prayers and angel requests, is important. Good to stop, switch gears, and recharge oneself. As I consider my new morning ritual I can’t help think it involves first cranking up the tune “Safety Dance.”
I don’t remember a day when I did not see my dad refer to a map, a dictionary, or a volume of his 1964 World Book encyclopedias. Knowledge was not only respected in our house, it was required to be accurate as well, as gauged by the documents noted above.
I grew up in a world of facts and measurements. There were no approximations in my childhood home. Something wasn’t “about 400 miles” but “356 if you take this freeway and 425 if you take these highways.” The time was never “between 2 and 3 o’clock” but “2 o’clock and you arrive at 1:50.”
My dad was an engineer and lived in a world of black and white. I take after him, in my need for logic, order and control. Every job I ever had has required working with very specific information. There were no estimates. How many times have I said, “What date was the check mailed? What was the amount? What address was it sent to?” I step outside the workplace to encounter people who will be over “between 8 and noon” to fix the fridge, or will do something “later” or they will “call back on Tuesday” and don’t – and I am lost.
I have been able to use this to my advantage by being a copy editor and proofreader. I can use my need for perfection to bring a document as close to that point as possible. I get satisfaction in that way. Still, living in a world of approximations, procrastination and vague agreements cause stress in my life. Being a control freak controls my life and I am forever the teenage girl by the phone, waiting for it to ring.
The role of “hero” figured strongly in this weekend’s science fiction convention, Comicon. The celebrity guests have all played heroes on tv or in movies. People chose to wear costumes of characters who are their heroes.
My studies indicate the definition of what we consider a hero is changing. We generally picture swashbuckling, dynamic heroes, loaded with sex appeal and boldness: the Han Solos of the world. I see the new heroes as ones who can maintain their calmness amidst chaos. I think Jack Harkness of the tv show “Torchwood” counts as a new hero.
We would find strength in his peace and be confident in his actions. His first choice won’t be to brandish a sword. He will still succeed but not by violence and battles, without good cause.
Can you think of other heroes and determine which fall under the old paradigm, and which are under the new?
The traditional life path in the United States is to get married, have kids, and do the house in suburb/church/hockey games route. But I know a LOT of people, good friends, who never had kids. And they are not complaining about being infertile or not being able to adopt. I don’t know everyone’s story obviously, but it seems many people simply chose not to have kids. Some have ended up with step kids due to relationships with previously married people. But lots of us took another route and never gave birth.
So the dilemma is, now what do we do with ourselves as we age? We don’t see the prom dates, the college education, the marriages and the grand kids. We don’t have the family holidays and the traditions that come from those events.
But really, those of us without kids, are we going to be okay?
Well, yes, I believe we will be fine. I applaud those who went the traditional route. I see people who have two or three kids and thank goodness that someone is repopulating the world. But I think not having kids is a valid choice, and we have plenty of other options. Being maternal and creative does not have to be limited to literally giving birth. One can give birth to many things! Books, artwork, music, programs to help the needy, or animals or children in schools! Roots don’t need to have baby-bodies and cries and need diapering. Plant seeds for another kind of goal that you can nurture and love throughout your life.
I find myself in a situation with no kids, a diminishing family, no day job (but yes, a home business of my own which I can do anywhere), no connection to a church or school or anything else in the world. I have a mortgage, a car and good friends. I am right now determining what it is I will nurture for the next 20 or 30 years of my life. I see nothing but possibilities and will explore how I can best impact the world without driving it or myself crazy. And I am in no hurry to figure this out.
For those women out there with kids, I hope you and your children honor each other for the miracle that your relationship can be. I love and respect you for being mothers.
Today I continue my thoughts on humility, but with a flip. What about “Ego” in the field of spirituality? I am referring to spirituality, metaphysics and the paranormal or any other way you name the weird and the special in the world. These have been interests of mine my whole life.
The prevailing story I hear is that humanity is awakening to its role of being stewards of the planet and people are becoming “lighthouses” to those who are lost. The news of this awakening suggests the pool of practitioners, writers, and teachers is growing. Logically the pool of people interested in these services, books and classes should also be growing.
According to spiritual concepts I know, if something is meant to be, there will be enough abundance to support it. Should these businesses be promoting themselves as “better than” another business with the same service or product? Is competition necessary in this field?
“A rising tide will lift all boats” was first said by John F Kennedy. Would this apply to businesses in the field of spirituality? I suggest that if one is struggling with a failing business, rather than hope a competitor fails, one should review his or her business model, and make it the best it can be. “We all do better when we all do better,” said Paul Wellstone.
If a business advertises itself as a spiritual business, is its owners opening its doors each morning with the goal to live each day with an open heart, in joy and without fear? If not, why not?
I am paraphrasing my dad, here, who did many good things in his life and never wanted credit for them. He barely wanted a funeral. Over his dead body? Done!
My dilemma for the day is whether or not to let it be known when I have done something “good.” I grew up learning to not brag about such things. I was given a triple whammy to prevent this – Minnesota Nice, being Lutheran, and having a humble father. I would give examples of “good things” here, but my embedded humility prevents me from doing so.
The result of this, however, is a life of being underestimated, under-appreciated and unknown. I have done some amazing things that no one knows about. I did not receive praise, money, even acknowledgement of whatever those things were. And I just figured that was the way it was. I would know in my heart that this good thing was done. And in my religious moments I knew that God would see what I did. In my spiritual moments I knew that this was good for my karma.
Furthermore, it probably held back my self-confidence and I may have tried to do more if someone, at some point, said “Good job” and fed me a Scooby snack. And it gets worse. When I was aware of problems that could be fixed, or avoided, and brought them to someone’s attention, I was usually told to mind my own business, I was wrong, such a thing won’t happen and so on. But in a short time, the thing did happen, go wrong, or was discovered by someone else. That person becomes the hero and much grief is felt due to the broken process or whatever. No one remembers I thought of it first. So I learned not to speak up about these things, as there was certainly no Scooby snack awaiting me for that information. Where would I be if someone had known I did X, Y or Z?
Just know that when you wonder what I am up to, it is usually “good” and not up to “no good.” Umkay?
I have been feeling gut-wrenching heartburn for the last three weeks. When it flares up, it distracts me from whatever goals I had set for the day and sends me to bed to curl up under a blanket. That only works if curling up under my blanket was, in fact, my goal for the day. I could list many reasons why this could be happening, tied neatly to a guilt trip for every item. Frankly, never eating again would seem to be the most effective way to cure this. Given the impracticality, though weight loss possibilities of this solution, I chose to take an alternative route, and called my herbalist, Matthew Alfs, this morning. I worked with him last fall and was amazed at his knowledge of the human body. He sees how A affects B which causes C and therefore D. He knows what is missing and what should be added. I have total confidence in his understanding of the body, his knowledge of supplements, his compassion and gentleness.
If I went first to my medical, or allopathic, doctor, only the one issue of my stomach pain would be considered, rather than viewing my situation holistically. I could count on leaving the office with a prescription for something like an extra strength purple pill, which I already take OTC. To cover themselves, they might add a referral for an endoscopy.
So I spoke to Matthew’s assistant this morning, and conveyed my desperation. She said that the herbalist does not do triage, which caused me to smile. MASH units probably don’t include herbalists. Matthew was not in yet but she offered to call him. I received a call back in a few minutes. While he is booked solid today, he told her to tell me that he understood the situation and knew he could help to heal me. He gave me immediate steps to take for relief, and I will see him on Thursday. Calling an herbalist or other healers “alternative” is a misnomer in my mind. There is a place for medical doctors, but so many things can be handled by other types of trained healers. I think seeing a holistic, non-invasive expert should be the first step in health care, unless one is spewing blood or a bone is sticking out. Then call 911, please.
Could it finally be spring? This morning the sun is shining, and while I have not checked the temperature, it certainly looks “spring-y.” I see there are buds on the branches and I have hope that the rain of the last two days will turn the grass from brown to green.
But we are hesitant to be relieved, aren’t we? After all, it is only April. I remember years when it snowed all the way into June. I think what made this winter the hardest was not the snow, we can deal with snow, but the bitter cold. I have lived in Minnesota all of my life and don’t recall it ever being so cold for so long, with wind chills in the 30 and 40 below range. School was never canceled for me due to the cold, but I remember a day now and then when I would need to bundle up with extra layers to wait for the bus.
Humans have quite the amazing ability to be flexible and survive. Other creatures might have curled up and died. Good for us. So bundle up, or strip down, as needed for the day, and enjoy the encroaching spring. It is coming. The garage sale signs are out.