October 26, 2013
You know the feeling: the way you feel when you sit down in your favorite chair. Or, the way you feel as your head rests on your pillow in bed and you pull the blankets up and close your eyes. Settled. Comfortable. Secure.
What about settling into ourselves?
Today my yoga teacher said, “Settle into yourself.” I thought, “What a beautiful, tender thought,” Then I thought, “How do I do that?”
So now here I am trying to figure it out. If I think about a workday morning and all that happens from the moment I open my eyes, get out of bed and begin the day, there is really nothing at all about settling into myself. I am settling into the day and the morning routines, but really not into me.
At work, it’s a similar pattern. First there are all the routine things to do, then the checking in with people and then the doing of being a preschool teacher.
And the day continues on in much the same way. I give no thought to “me”. I get caught in routines. I get wrapped up in feeling rushed, frustrated, hungry, tired, or grumpy. I do things automatically, like driving to work without really thinking about it. I never settle into me. I settle into “me in the world with rolls to play and jobs to do”, but not into the essence of who I am. My true self.
Why not? Do you?
What would settling into myself even look like or feel like? Checking in with how my body feels? With what my mind is thinking? With lists of things to do today?
How do I settle into myself like I settle into my bed at night? How do I experience the relief of being me? Of feeling comforted by me? Of feeling safe and secure in me? This is different from taking for granted or believing that I do feel these these things because I should, and therefore, somehow, do.
I had a moment during meditation this morning where I experienced something that was perhaps settling into myself. It was a feeling of being aware of my body as a feather: light and all most imperceptible. Very little physical sensation. My mind was quiet, very few, tiny thoughts of nothing in particular. A muffled sense of my surroundings that was really only insignificant. I was aware from deep inside that perhaps I had just then settled into myself. When “everything” was taken away or absent, there was only a sense of being that was fresh and light and an awareness that placed no value, judgement, expectation on myself.
Perhaps for a moment I did settle into myself……
August 25, 2013
Carl Jung came up with the idea of archetypes years ago. In college it was considered cool to know about Jungian psychology and try to piece together the puzzle of our personal archetypes.
First things first: I am not trained in any of this. I just think about it, and write my thoughts down.
Jungian Archetypes explained courtesy of Wikipedia:
” Carl Gustav Jung was a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who developed an understanding of archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world.”
Jung defined twelve primary types that symbolize basic human motivations. Each type has its own set of values, meanings and personality traits. The twelve types are found in four basic groups: The Shadow, The Anima, The Animus, and The Self.
Today I’m bringing Shadow out into the light.
The Shadow refers to the whole of unconscious—everything that we are unaware of, the aspect of our personality that does not recognize itself. All those parts of ourselves that we feel are negative, undesirable and that we try to ignore or reject, are wrapped up in Shadow’s cloak. Almost overlooked however, are the good qualities hiding there too. They become weakened by low self esteem, self doubt. They too are lost in the folds of Shadow.
The Jungian shadow often refers to all that lies outside the light of consciousness, and may be positive or negative. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive instincts.”
(*What are our primitive instincts? To survive?…how do we protect ourselves by empowering one aspect while perhaps closing off or ignoring another? What other of these primitive instincts can you identify with?)
Shadow likes to project. Shadow is instinctive and irrational. “Shadow uses projection to turn a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. If we allow Shadow to project these thoughts unrecognized and unchecked, then Shadow has a free hand to possibly bring about a “realization of its object” and give this situation character power…..it creates a thick fog of illusion between the EGO and the real world…” You/we give power to something that is a projection and is not real. (Wikipedia)
As a Jungian Archetype, Shadow is made up of life instincts. “The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others.”
Sometimes Shadow makes itself known in our dreams. Shadow may appear as a snake, a monster, or other dark or wild figure.
From Robert Augustus Masters, PhD:
“Shadow is whatever in us we are disconnected from or out of touch with, whatever we have disowned in ourselves, whatever we have not illuminated or will not illuminate in ourselves, whatever in us we are keeping out of sight.
So our shadow is that zone of us which houses what we have not faced or can’t/ won’t face about ourselves. To the extent that our conditioning (especially that originating in our childhood) is allowed to run us, it is our shadow. Or put another way, to the extent that our conditioning is kept in the dark, it is our shadow.
If we are to truly evolve, we need to know our shadow, and know it very well; if we don’t, our shadow will direct our lives on every level.”
So what can we do to bring Shadow out from the dark? How do we get to know Shadow?
First you have to recognize Shadow, and this hard. What is it in others you dislike? Is that Shadow projecting something about you onto another? What are your self doubts, fears?
How can you identify core wounds and heal them?
Are you able to work effectively with your feelings of anger, shame, fear, and guilt?
Are you able to step back and pause in order to see how your Shadow affects those around you.
Are you able to “be one with your pain” and ease your hurt and suffering by doing so?
Can you effectively stop the mind chatter that is the loudest critic of you?
Do you have a spiritual base? Anything? Organized religion or not?
For some meditation or guided practices may help.
Shadow, the part of us we cannot “see” is often the part of us that makes the decisions. And sometimes within those decisions, Shadow makes the same mistakes over and over again. We have to reclaim Shadow and understand Shadow.
Obviously, if this speaks to you, it is not a quick fix. Shadow holds the reigns on a large reservoir of energy. Somehow we have to tap into this.
Curious? The link below has some interesting thoughts. I’m not endorsing him, just introducing an idea to you. I have not read or listened to this person’s work other than this podcast.
“The big step is to turn towards what we are running away from” Robert Masters
August 18, 2013
Warning!! This post might be a stretch!!
A little while ago I wrote about ecotones. “Ecotone” means a transition area between two biomes. An ecotone is where two communities meet and integrate. I tried to relate it to our personal experiences in life and self discovery.
Today we move onto “cenotes”!! A cenote is is a natural phenomenon, a sinkhole in the Earth’s surface. Found in Mexico and the Caribbean, a cetone is primarily made up of porous limestone. Over millions of years, rainfall slowly eats away at the limestone and a huge system of underground caves and caverns is formed. Many are filled with water from rain or from the underground water table. When the roof of a water filled cave collapses, a cenote is born. The water found in a cenote may be fresh water, salt water, or both. Structurally it may be completely open, like a lake, almost completely closed with just a small opening at the top, or somewhere in between.
In the Mayan language “ts’onot” means sacred well. Cenotes were the main source of fresh water for the ancient Mayan civilization. Mayans believed the cenotes contained curative elements and considered many of them to be sacred. They also believed cenotes to be portals to the spirit world and a way to communicate with the gods. Some cenotes were the site of Mayan sacrifices.
Now we have the definition and history. Here comes my twist.
For those of us on a quest of some sort, to find our “true” self, to quiet the ego, to discover what is hidden within us, we often find ourselves slowly peeling away layers of our outward self to find our inner self. Not unlike the the rain slowly dissolving the limestone. Our “rain” comes in many forms: religion, meditation, service…..Our limestone is apathy, doubt, ego, mis-information, immaturity, not being ready, ignorance, selfishness…..
But once something has worn away enough of our personal limestone, a shift begins…….we find ways to energize and speed the dissolving process along. We are ready for the breakthough. Ready for the bottom to fall out, to open the barrier to the cenote. A place the Mayan’s believed to be curative, sacred and a portal to communicating with the gods.
Whatever journey you are on, is it so different? Are you not slowly melting away the layers of ego to discover something deep inside of you? A place, a state of being where you can discover the “sacred”, the true “self”, inside of you?
Once a cenote is born the fresh water falls, joining a vast underground system of rivers and caves. Areas of haloclines form: where fresh water and salt water meet creating eerie pools of mystical waters. Waters flow along underground rivers and hundreds of miles later, they exit the underworld and join with the ocean……they mingle with the salt water and become something new and different. A smaller part becomes a part of something bigger as it also changes from fresh water to salt water……
So as you travel along your path to self discovery maybe the imagine of the cenote will be like a lantern guiding you along.
May 20, 2013
I am in my mid 50’s. I need to loose some weight. My hair is gray. There are some wrinkles on my face. Freckles have changed into age spots. I move more slowly than I used to. I wear glasses to read.
At 50 I took up Svaroopa yoga and it has breathed a new life into me. I embrace myself. Even when I look in the mirror and do not see the person I see myself as….25 years younger, flawless skin, light reddish hair……inside I am that person.
Today I did a 3 hour yoga class. As always, the class begins and ends with shavasana (the Corpse Pose) and a guided mindfulness meditation. I have moments where I experience what some people call the” zen-like mind”. No thoughts. Just a blank silence.
Today when my teacher began the end of the class shavasana, she said what she says every time: ” As you settle into shavasana notice how your body feels.”
I momentarily held my breath as I heard my inner voice answer, “Perfect”.
That is a word I never associated with yoga. Or with myself. But there it was. Perfect. And that IS how I felt. In every sense. The whole moment. My whole being. My thoughts or lack of thoughts. The silence and the mind chatter. The muscle twitching.
It made me think of the mantra I sometimes use: So Hum. It means “I am that” or “I am this”. And that is what that “perfect” meant: “I am this”. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just this.
It was a lovely moment. A lovely place to be. Just this. And it was complete in itself. I was complete in myself.
December 28, 2012
2013 is around the corner. With it’s arrival comes the opportunity (a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances) for a fresh start. If you want to choose that path.
The tradition of making a New Year’s resolution is 4,000 years old! Ancient Babylonians made promises to start the New Year off on the right foot in order to earn the favor of the Gods. The “New Year” wasn’t always observed in January because a month called “January” didn’t always exist! It originally was the Spring Equinox celebration. Spring being a natural time to think of fresh starts, beginning anew. Throughout history different “leaders” have changed it from one date to another. Many religions and cultures still celebrate a different date for the New Year.
I think many of us would chuckle thinking about resolutions we have made and kept! My record isn’t very good!
However, this year it really struck me what the potential might be, if we could make changes that would provide a fresh start to parts of our lives. What if we took advantage of this quaint custom and did turn it into an opportunity?
Recent events have led many of us to reevaluate all kinds of things. Personally I found myself thinking deeply about living more in the present and letting go of past angers, disappointments, and focusing more on simply being kind.
While I still hope to “give up” a few things, I have decided to focus on “doing”.
My priority this year is to be kind. In big ways and small ways.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
I don’t think there is a skill to being kind. It’s in all of us. It may be buried, or other responses and actions might be stronger, but it is in us.
I have been working on kindness a little bit this year. I have had some successes, but many more surprises. I am always surprised how quickly I respond with frustration to things beyond my control. That frustration is a form of anger. I can feel my body change when it surfaces. When my body changes because my mind changes, it all becomes a spiral of downward momentum. Then I have a difficult time getting free from it.
Hand in hand with being kind comes being present and being in the here and now, not in the past or future. And that is even harder. I carry disappointments, frustrations, worries from work home with me every day. Sometimes it takes me days to digest them and let them go. I am always thinking and planning one step ahead so I am “prepared”. How can that be bad? Being prepared? But somehow it does fuel the anxiety. If I am being kid to myself, which is the first step to be kind to others, why do I worry, become anxious over things that I have managed to take care of for years and know they are not a big deal? Is it all in the wording……the wording my mind chatter loops endlessly around in my head? Why can’t it just be: “I will stop at the grocery store.”, rather than: “I have to stop at the grocery.” Have to, have to, have to, have to. I will focus on making statements with little or no value regarding things that are……no good or bad, no judgement. Just a fact. By adding the word “have” it becomes a chore or burden.
So I will focus on being present in this one moment. I will be kind, kinder, kindly. I will begin with myself. I will change the mind chatter in my head. I will reach out to others and simply be kind. This is a New Year, a fresh start. I have this opportunity to start over, and allow the kindness that is already inside of me be stronger and more present.
October 21, 2012
I came across a guide for preparing for the day. It is based on the chakras, but I think that even if you do not have interest in chakra work, the general idea is one worth considering.
It starts by reminding us that each day is a new beginning. The task for today is to learn the practice of consciously entering your body and your day. Begin by focusing attention on your entire day from morning to evening.
Review your plans for today:
- Think about where you need to be and with whom you need to be.
- Do you feel stressful about this day or do you feel comfortable?
- Do you feel prepared for today’s events?
- Are you projecting fears and expectations into this day?
As you gather yourself and plan for the day, add these thoughts to the process:
- Identify your fears for today and pull them into your consciousness.
- Acknowledge the strength of the energetic circuitry connecting you to all life.
- Visualize that strength replacing your fears for today.
- See yourself standing tall.
- Work: What am I going to do today?
- Creativity: What am I going to create today?
- Focus on your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself today:
- Am I feeling strong? Frightened?
- Do I need someone’s approval today?
- Will I need to be courageous?
- Remind yourself of your boundaries, dignity, inherent honor, and integrity.
- Make an internal promise in terms of how you want to live your life today.
- Reaffirm to yourself that you want to look at today through your heart and not through your fears; that you want to feel gratitude for events that do or don’t happen as they should.
- Keep your attention on the right way to walk into this day, with compassion and patience.
- Define your needs and desires for today and let go of doing the same for others.
- Envision choices that result in positive attitudes and feelings about yourself.
- Vow to express yourself honestly.
- Prepare your mind to enter the day feeling good and not generating fear or doubt.
- For today, release old grudges, beliefs, attitudes and patterns that no longer serve you.
- Remember that everything in your life is there for a reason and to teach you something about yourself and others.
- Pull your attention up and out, and hold the idea ‘live in present time.’
- Let go of the past and do not anticipate the future.
- Find moments of gratitude throughout the day.
At the end of the day, pause for a quiet time to reflect on the day, and put it to bed also.
- Think about how you feel about yourself and your day now that it is over.
- Reflect on the million things that happened to you today and be appreciative of them all.
- Remember that everything has the potential to be a valuable learning experience.
- Look at the positive things you invested in today and be grateful for them.
- Were you able to make choices that enhanced your life today? If so, acknowledge those choices, take a deep breath and decide to put your energy into more of them.
- What choices drained your energy? Commit to changing those choices in the future.
- Ask yourself “Did I speak with honesty and integrity?”
- How have you done with forgiveness today?
- Were you judgmental or critical of yourself or others today or did you extend kindness and compassion?
- Release your fears and doubt.
- Breath and allow yourself to prepare for restful sleep knowing that tomorrow will be a new day.
September 23, 2012
I was going to call this entry “joy is in the journey”, but the word “delight” got the better of me!
Every day we get up. Sometimes refreshed, sometimes not so much. Maybe we tossed and turned with restless thoughts or are clinging to the dream of chocolate waterfalls and trying really hard not to open our eyes. Perhaps the sun shining through the window in the morning warms our body and makes the world seem soft and perfect. Maybe the pitter patter of rain makes us frown. That nagging worry from the day before may have already taken over every thought even before we can get a cup of coffee…..our mental list of everything that has to be done today gets longer with every waking moment…….we know all these scenarios.
I suggest that these could be labeled the ‘delights of life”. Why? Because they mean we are alive.
I have no magical ability to weather with grace or patience, the ups and downs that create my days. I get frustrated. I cry. I laugh. I feel dread and anxiety. I experience giddiness and anticipation. And as I age, ( like a fine wine, versus “grow older” like rotting. Could have said ‘mature’ but wasn’t in the mood.), I notice that when I try to embrace everything, I am surprised to discover that I can begin to see them as delights in my life. Even if they make me grumble or bitter. I find my mind chatter chortling “it will be OK”, “there is a reason for this, just let things play out”, “This seems really unpleasant, but you will get through it”, etc. And after the fact there is usually an internal or external smile or smirk: a sense of ” I got through that”. And it is a delight because I always see things differently afterwards.
We are who we are because of the experiences we have gone through, because of the road we have traveled. There have been times I did not like who I was at some specific moment. There were roads I did not want to be on, and experiences that brought great pain and sorrow. I have a co-worker or two who tosses me a curve ball every day. They are delights in my life. (although I often do need to be reminded of this)
All those uncomfortable, unpleasant, people and things. Along with the love of my family, the gift and beauty of my children, the ache in my hip, the bad meal at a restaurant……the sun shining, the snow fall, the frustration with world news…..delights. Because I am here. Because I have emotions and choices, the ability to do things for others, the opportunity to advance positive change, to learn and to grow.
I asked my facebook friends to share some of their delights. There was a lot of family, friends, sunshine, time to oneself, things in nature. One said a clean house, someone said scarves, and one said when her child is well fed. It’s different for all of us. The delights of life are all around us, don’t you agree?
August 4, 2012
ECOTONES: the in-between spaces in an ecological setting.
It is a transition area between two biomes
or different patches of the landscape,
like the space where the ocean meets the shore.
We have spaces like this too. In-between spaces, where the boundaries are blurred. It is not always clear where one emotion or thought begins and another ends. There is a symbiotic relationship. Each “part” needs the other to be balanced, but sometimes the boundaries change or are blurred making it difficult to feel we have completely moved on from one to another.
Emotions, thoughts, feelings that we might consider separate, actually coexist. There is no finite boundary, no solid line where one begins and another ends.
For many of us this lack of clearness can be difficult. We want to know that one thing is ending, finished, and another is beginning. But it isn’t always so easy, so clearly defined.
We have pain and sorrow right along side joy and happiness. Anxiety can be cradled next to assurance. Perhaps trust is holding hands with doubt.
How do we live with dynamic boundaries where variables blur the edges? The in-between places where we are just not sure of what is going on, of how we are feeling, of where are going, or where we have been? What we may have lost? What we might have gained?
In nature these areas are sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful. Waves on the shore may carry sand and plants away, eroding the shore. Other times the waves bring new sand, plants or animals to the beach. Sometimes these are “good” changes, sometimes not. There is a give and take. Sometimes the balance is quick and easy. Other times, the compromises cause the two sides to give something up. But in the end it is Nature’s way. Nature is life. And death. And violence. And supreme gentleness. In the ebb and flow there is all that represents life: change, uncertainty, risk, balance, loss, pain, joy, gain, happiness, sorrow, life, death, beauty, “ugliness”, fear, calm, love……without any one part, the other pieces are diminished.
Think about the synonyms for “transition”: changeover, conversion, development, evolution, flux, growth, metamorphosis, passage, progress, progression, realignment, shift, transformation, turning point, upheaval.
What are the whispers from your in-between places telling you? Take some time in this space and listen to the possibilities.
July 15, 2012
“Be silent now.
Say fewer and fewer praise poems.
Let yourself become living poetry.”
What if we became silent poems ……? What if we each became “living poetry”? Perhaps it is time to “Be silent now. Say fewer praise poems.” And, to let ourselves “become living poetry”. Are we already? Our every moment of being is an expression of living poetry.
There are over 5o “styles” of poems. As of today, July 14, 2012, 7:24 a.m., there are 7,026,170,881 people in the world. That’s A LOT of living poetry! What will you experience today? What will you “say” today?
What is your “living poetry” style? These are the “top” 12…well, someone’s top 12. How do you “speak” to others through your daily living? I don’t really know very much about poetry, but thought it would be fun to look into it, and see if I could figure out what form my “living poetry” most closely matched!
SONNET: Sonnets are particularly associated with love poetry, and often use a poetic diction heavily based on vivid imagery.
JINTISHI: . Jintishi often has a rich poetic diction, full of allusion, and can have a wide range of subject, including history and politics.
SESTINA: The sestina has six stanzas, each comprising six unrhymed lines, in which the words at the end of the first stanza’s lines reappear in a rolling pattern in the other stanzas.
VILLANELLE is a nineteen-line poem made up of five triplets with a closing quatrain. The poem is characterized by having two refrains, initially used in the first and third lines of the first stanza, and then alternately used at the close of each subsequent stanza until the final quatrain.
PANTOUM is a rare form of poetry similar to a villanelle. It is composed of a series of quatrains; the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next.
RONDEAU originally a French form, written on two rhymes with fifteen lines, using the first part of the first line as a refrain.
TANKA is a form of unrhymed Japanese poetry, with five sections totalling thirty-one onji (phonemic sounds) , structured in a 5-7-5 7-7 pattern. There is generally a shift in tone and subject matter between the upper 5-7-5 phrase and the lower 7-7 phrase. It was used more heavily to explore personal rather than public themes.
HAIKU is a popular form of unrhymed Japanese poetry. Written in a single vertical line, the haiku contains three sections totalling seventeen onji, structured in a 5-7-5 pattern. Traditionally, haiku contain a kireji, or cutting word, usually placed at the end of one of the poem’s three sections; and a kigo, or season-word. Haiku often reflects something to do with Nature.
RUBA’I is a four-line verse practiced by Arabian and Persian poets.
SIJO is a short musical lyric practiced by Korean poets. It is usually written as three lines, each averaging 14-16 syllables, for a total of 44-46 syllables. There is a pause in the middle of each line.
ODE: The ode generally has three parts: a strophe, an antistrophe, and an epode. The antistrophes of the ode possess similar metrical structures and, depending on the tradition, similar rhyme structures. In contrast, the epode is written with a different scheme and structure. Odes have a formal poetic diction, and generally deal with a serious subject. The strophe and antistrophe look at the subject from different, often conflicting, perspectives, with the epode moving to a higher level to either view or resolve the underlying issues.
The GHAZAL is a form of poetry common in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Bengali poetry. In classic form, the ghazal has from five to fifteen rhyming couplets that share a refrain at the end of the second line. Each line has an identical meter, and there is a set pattern of rhymes in the first couplet and among the refrains. Each couplet forms a complete thought and stands alone, and the overall ghazal often reflects on a theme of unattainable love or divinity.
Some rhyme, others do not. Some have a complete thought while others only hint at something. There are poems that use refrains, a line or group of lines that is repeated throughout a poem, usually after every stanza. Poems can be romantic, political, spiritual, or mystical. Some are soft, and some are strong or even harsh. Some are metaphorical, while others are figurative. Some are short and some are long.
Personally, I feel my living poetry is not strong on rhyme, but does employ structure. I do seem to be heavy on repetition, perhaps as security. I tend not to express to much that is political and focus more on the spiritual, nature and emotion. I think I am a shorter, sharper type of poetry rather long and complex type. Sometimes people “get” me, other times, not so much!!!
I could be Tanka with a little Haiku or Sijo, and a dash of Villanelle.
I hope you have some fun with this! There are so many sources available on the internet. Explore and see if you learn a little something about yourself.