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Entries in self-care (9)

Wednesday
Apr022014

Losing sight of our needs while caring for others.

Our overwhelming desire to care for others and contribute to their well-being is often our own undoing.

We care! We care deeply and completely for our partners, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our children ... and that is what motivates us to keep going when we feel our reserves are dwindling.  

In caring for others so consistently, we often find imbalance creeping into our lives. Perhaps we notice it, perhaps we don't initially.  Many of us are not sure what to do about that imbalance, and so we ignore it or avoid it and carry on with our caring for others.

Many of us hold the belief that taking care of ourselves means ceasing to take care of others, and that in order to take care of others properly, we must forget ourselves. 

Those of us who have forgotten ourselves either pay the price personally (physically, emotionally, mentally) or seek to make others pay for it!

Our own joy and well-being must be priority when we care for others - particularly if we want that caring to be effective. If this is not the case, then it would be better for us and others if we did something else.

How often do we do damage to ourselves while doing good that we are no longer capable of doing much of anything? We cut ourselves off from our Self to such an extent that our energy and vitality run out ... we become broken.

By failing to listen to our Self we are living without compassion towards that Self and life (through demanding, controlling, overworking, feeling guilty) we run the risk of producing a violent reaction from life itself via an accident, disease, depression, anxiety, mourning).  

This new conversation with Self starts with asking "what are my needs?" or "how am I meeting my own needs and what needs are not being met just now". 

Begin it today. 

Sarah xx

Monday
Jan272014

Noticing the noise.

These days, I wake up at 4am and savour the moments of bliss before watching, noticing, observing my Mind fill with noise. 

When I had small babies, I would lie awake for hours worrying about getting enough sleep, raging against the lack of sleep I was able to get, fearing the daylight hours, fearing the night hours too. Getting up to a child in the night meant being awake at least 3 hours ... and it was making me sick. It wasn't the lack of sleep, it was my Mind keeping me awake and making me sick with worry, rage, frustration, fear. 

By accepting my being awake in the early hours, I have come to treasure it as a moment when my Mind is clear and less noisy than "usual". I get up and write, or read or research or listen to the gentle silence in my mind. 

Of course when the noise begins to take over my Mind, I notice I feel the need to get moving, do things, start on the list I want to get through for that day.  That noise is what I now recognise as anxiety in my Mind

Notice, I don't say "anxiety in me"?

My Mind and my Self are different: my Self is calm, centered, clear.

My Mind is full of noise: crazy stories, thoughts, judgements, ideas, fears, conversations had, conversations that need to happen, to-do list items, random sounds.  That is what I observe... when I step back from my mind and notice. 

This morning, for example, I noticed how I think about my ability to speak French as "intermediate", "it will never be more than that" and "I am intermediate or average at everything I do and have always been". I noticed these thoughts and wondered  "Really? ... where does this stuff come from?". 

These limiting thoughts are fairly benign: they relate to a skill that does not make or break my day - although has definitely led to all manner of frustration over the years!

But what if this kind of thinking is prevalent in other ways in my Mind ... and even more crucial, what if I am actually listening to it, believing it, holding it to be a truth, and living my life as if it's true?? What are the consequences of seeing that noise as a real part of me? 

These days I notice the noise and see it as separate from Self. These days I label it as noise, acknowledge its connection to the anxiety I feel, and accept that it is something I carry with me that does not define me. It is NOT me (Self), it is my Mind - that is all. 

Naming Mind and Self as different is a freedom we all have, if we choose.

Noticing the noise is a significant step to seeing the separation between Self and Mind and to reducing both anxiety and depression. 

When you listen to your noise, what do you notice?

Sarahxx

Monday
Jan132014

Time flies, stay your path.

How time flies ... how life changes! 

It's been almost a year since I last shared here. So much has happened, yet it's still hard to believe it's been almost a year! Regular life and a few big changes have distracted me from parts of my work and some of the things I value. 

So it is with days, weeks, months and years. We get caught up in the goings-on around us: we neglect to pay attention to the small but important items that hold us together, keep us on track, help maintain the balance - the things we value as important.

In my case, I packed up my life and moved it across the world, reinstalling myself and my family in a new location with new 'everything'. It's taken time and energy and focus away from my Self and my work and placed it on other things that are important to me.

All the while I have been conscious of wanting to get back to this place, because I value the work I do here, I know that it's important to me. I felt nervous all those months wondering how long it might take, and whether I could find my way back - whether the link was strong enough for me to know how to return.   

I consciously gave myself a year: a year seemed like a decent time limit without letting it spill over into two or three or even more (the horror :0)! Putting it off any longer would be giving in to the resistance. Not coming back would be about fear and the disconnection that comes with it. It would also be about denying a part of me I had come to know, and ignoring things I hold as valuable to doing the work I love.

Yes! time flies. Yes! life gets busy. Yes! there are other things to do or concentrate on. Yes! it's not easy to find the way again. Yes! it's scary and challenging and there are much, much easier ways to spend the time.

No! I don't want to give in to the easy option, the fear, the resistance, the distractions.

Yes! I choose to do the things that keep me in balance, keep me on a path that I value, hold me accountable to myself, maintain my authenticity, help me feel. 

Do what you value. When you find yourself distracted, review your values and priorities, sweep aside the excuses and get back on track... even IF it takes almost a year.

Sarah xx

ps I passed with a Distinction :-)

 

 

Monday
Nov122012

A call to action.

By focusing on what did and what might have happened in your childhood or in your past you are giving it power - the power to stop you in your tracks, to hold onto the old, to forget about living now, creating now, parenting now, loving now.

You want so much to live NOW ... not back then, not in the corner cowering below upraised hands, ashamed, frightened, helpless.

It's time to choose a different approach ... to choose what you focus your attention on. 

Your life is what you are creating. In order to create what you want you need to be here NOW. To be here NOW you need to stop looking back over your shoulder at what has gone before, at what the past tells you happened.

Release the past, stand in the present, create your future as you want it to be. 

Do it with self-care and love. Do it with determination and a willingness to do things you find tough - simply because they are the stepping stones to a new way of living. 

Don't want another minute. Don't wait another minute. 

sarahxx

Wednesday
Oct242012

There is nothing 'wrong'.

This is a truly remarkable story ... so often we make ourselves and our feelings wrong. Here is how to take a different path. 

Originally posted on Huffington Post Healthy Living:

Sometimes when I talk about “Radical Acceptance,” I like to tell the story about Jacob, a man who, at almost 70 and in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease, attended a 10-day retreat I was leading.

A clinical psychologist by profession and a meditator for more than 20 years, Jacob was well aware that his faculties were deteriorating. On occasion his mind would go totally blank; he would have no access to words for several minutes and become completely disoriented. He often forgot what he was doing and usually needed assistance with basic tasks — cutting his food, putting on clothes, bathing, getting from place to place.

A couple of days into the retreat, Jacob had his first interview with me. These meetings, which students have regularly with a teacher while on retreat, are an opportunity to check in and receive personal guidance in the practice. During our time together, Jacob and I talked about how things were going, both on retreat and at home. His attitude towards his disease was interested, sad, grateful, even good-humored.

Intrigued by his resilience, I asked him what allowed him to be so accepting. He responded, “It doesn’t feel like anything is wrong. I feel grief and some fear about it all going, but it feels like real life.” Then he told me about an experience he’d had in an earlier stage of the disease.

Jacob had occasionally given talks about Buddhism to local groups and had accepted an invitation to address a gathering of over a hundred meditation students. He arrived at the event feeling alert and eager to share the teachings he loved. Taking his seat in front of the hall, Jacob looked out at the sea of expectant faces in front of him… and suddenly he didn’t know what he was supposed to say or do. He didn’t know where he was or why he was there. All he knew was that his heart was pounding furiously and his mind was spinning in confusion.

Putting his palms together at his heart, Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: “Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I’m failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.” For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience. As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud. At last Jacob lifted his head, looked slowly around at those gathered, and apologized.

Many of the students were in tears. As one put it, “No one has ever offered us teachings like this. Your presence has been the deepest dharma teaching.”

Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation, Jacob had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of, and, most significantly, to bow to his experience. In some fundamental way he didn’t create an adversary out of feelings of fear and confusion. He didn’t make anything wrong.

We practice Radical Acceptance by pausing and then meeting whatever is happening inside us with this kind of unconditional friendliness. Instead of turning our jealous thoughts or angry feelings into the enemy, we pay attention in a way that enables us to recognize and touch any experience with care. Nothing is wrong — whatever is happening is just “real life.” Such unconditional friendliness is the spirit of Radical Acceptance.