Hello Everyone and welcome to fall and back to school, at least for those of us in the western hemisphere. I have been silent for a few weeks but now emerge with lots of good stuff for you.
Typically, this is a time of increased activity, energy, irritability and stress. However, it can also be a time of renewal, change, excitement and new ventures. Take a moment and see what combination of those qualities are arising for you today. What do you need? Time to go inwards and contemplate, or move outwards and get going? For me, as an introvert at heart who loves people, I know the necessity of taking ‘down time’ in order to be more productive, present and happy. Not squeezing it in, but taking it. In fact, it seems the more down time I allow myself, the more creative, productive and effective I become. World’s biggest secret 🙂
I have recently had a flurry of increased activity as summer holidays came to a close. This included a whirlwind trip to New York ( goodies of mindfulness, neuroscience and more are coming from that!), a week long full-out family reunion (who said..”If you think you are enlightened, spend a week with your family”?), and then a son was urgently admitted to hospital (all good… thanks to antibiotics.). Needless to say, a busy time, but also a time to put into practice what I know and have found to be absolutely true over the years. This is why we do this stuff.
There are two ideas that if you had told me this 20 years ago I would have laughed out loud and found arguments as to why they can’t be true. They are also necessary paths to peace and out of delusion. Let me save you the time by offering them to you here.
The first one is that we are all 100% responsible for our own feelings. 100%. It cannot be any other way. I can hear the ‘buts’ now… but they did this, but they said this, but this happened. Yes, I hear you. People do and say things that are hurtful, mean, tragic and worse. But they are unable to cause a particular feeling or emotion in you.
[tweetthis]To give someone else the power over our emotions is belittling to our own greatness. #mindfulness [/tweetthis]
How do I know this? Through my work with people, and contending with my own personality over the years (!!) I have seen time again that the same situation can produce dramatically different responses in different people. This depends on their background, history, present state, and so much more. Your reaction is unique to you. Your story is unique to you. Our perceptions are our world. We see the world through ourselves, not as it is. I have come away from sessions, classes, and interactions with wildly different interpretations than others. Blogs that I think will resonate, don’t, and ones I think are benign, get heated. So, whatever is going on in you, is yours. And that is good news.
[tweetthis]Be on the lookout for blaming. For if we are not actively creating peace in ourselves, we are probably destroying something else. #mindfulness #happiness[/tweetthis]
The second truth is that when we contract, react, get triggered, irritated, harden or judge, we are at war with the present moment. When we are at war with the present moment, we are at war with ourselves. Don’t take my word for it, experiment with this yourself. When you notice this, see what you are resisting, what can you soften into, accept, even love because it is reality. This doesn’t mean we roll over and let the world float by. No, it means we accept our feelings, our reactions, we notice and then decide to respond or not. Often, it is an open invitation to heal some part of ourselves. Or it may be an invitation to end a relationship that is not serving you. Out of denial folks and into the truth please!
For example, I love my family deeply. Each and every one. We are all uniquely our own people with different lives, opinions and ideas. But when we step back into our families, we often step back into our roles and expectations. It’s just what happens. What a great practice of seeing yourself. The role I step into is that of caretaking, organizing and, ahem, controlling! So, my practice was that every time I felt this happening with contraction, tension, or my words, my mantra was ‘let it be’. I let go again, and again, and again. As I let go into the present moment, I was free to love, be present, enjoy our time together, and appreciate everyone.
Will I bring this into my life? You bet! It changes everything. These are the two most profound practices I have found to find peace, embrace your life as it is and not waste your precious energy on unnecessary things. I now understand what J. Krishnamurti said when he summed up his lifetime of work:
“I’m ok with what happens.”
Are you ok with what happens? If you are not, can you take full responsibility for your feelings, breathe, let it be what it already is and choose a response? Go easy on yourself. each breath, each moment is chance for renewal, to start again.
Let me know in the comments below or join us in conversation over on the “Just Breathe’ facebook page right here.
Many, many wishes of joy and peace to you all as this season unfolds,