Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spend Time in Nature

In nature, a part of the connection to the outside world, is the connection to the change. The balance between night and day, death and renewal. It is a symbol of change and balance that is much needed in our lives. This can be seen throughout nature, from the trees shedding and re-growing leaves, to animals shorter life cycles. In The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment Eckhart Tolle mentions the importance of recognizing this impermanence:

     On the level of form, there is birth and death, creation and destruction, growth and dissolution, of seemingly separate forms. This is reflected everywhere: in the life cycle of a star or a planet, a physical body, a tree, a flower, in the rise and fall of nations, political systems, civilizations, and in the inevitable cycles of gain and loss of an individual. There are cycles of success, when things come to you and thrive, and cycles of failure, when they wither or disintegrate and you have to let them go in order to make room for new things to arise, or for transformation to happen. If you cling and resist at that point, it means you are refusing to go with the flow of life, and you will suffer…. One cannot exist without the other (p 152).

As you read this, notice your reactions to the idea of change. Is it a feeling of acceptance or of resistance? Either way, take note of your feelings and let them be how they are without trying to change them to how you wish you felt.
Remember that it is normal to want to resist the impermanence in your life. Feelings of resistance to grief and loss are present in everybody, it is a common human emotion, to grieve.
While noting the resistant part of yourself, make room for the part of yourself that accepts change. One feeling may be more present than the other, notice that, too.

My homework for you is to take a walk in nature. That may be the beach, the woods, or a little park. Get in touch with a more primitive way of being, of feeling a connection to all that is around; the plants, the trees that hold the animals, and the animals themselves. Through a mindful walk through the woods, or just taking time to be in a park we can find what is unconsciously longing within us, a deeper connection to nature. Let yourself relax while you're there and recognize that you are not removed from nature, you are a part of it. You are a part of the cycle of living.
Keep a journal. Write down your feelings about the quote that I've provided and about your experience in nature. Visit nature when you can. Bring nature to you somehow.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Be A Little Selfish

It is interesting that in this western society, in which individual success is so important, that so many flinch at the thought of selfishness. When I say to be a little selfish I am not suggesting that you give up caring for others. I am suggesting a balance between giving to others and giving to yourself.

Here's my suggestion:
First of all give yourself time. This time can be something that you already have in your schedule or you may have to find the time. Now re-define this time to make some 'me' time. Start doing the things that you always tell yourself your going to do when you get around to it.
Start thinking about how you would treat yourself if you had yourself as a friend. If it helps, close your eyes and imagine an exact replica of yourself. Meet yourself. What do you think that she/he needs to be happy? If this were your friend what would you do with this person? Notice the qualities of this person that are likeable. If you were your own friend, what would you like the most about the friendship?
Make a weekly date with yourself and do something that you really want to do. Keep a journal and inside write something that you like about yourself every day.

If you are seeing yourself in a negative way, notice that but don't buy into that right now. Acknowledge that part of yourself, but remain focused on seeing yourself as the valuable person you are. Notice this and give yourself credit for not giving in to your inner critic. Know that that critical part of yourself has been put there to protect you from rejection, it has helped you to be prepared for others critical side. Tell that part of yourself that you see it's value but don't let that part of you take over your thinking.

Write every week about yourself, tell yourself what you did today that you did well. Make a weekly date that you do what you want to do. This weekly date is not about getting something finished, it is not about work. This weekly date is about spending time with yourself. Maybe go for a walk, go to a movie, do yoga, or anything else that you have wanted to try.

If you do this enough, eventually being alone will be a little gift to yourself. The quality of your relationships may improve because you don't depend on them as much to reflect back to you the positive parts of yourself. Instead you will already see the positive.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Accepting the world around you and yourself

Growing Whole Molly Young Brown (1993),
            I choose to accept the world just as it is.  I choose life on this planet, in this world, at this time.  I choose to accept the pain I feel when I witness violence, and the joy I feel when I witness love.  I let go of the demand that the world live up to my expectations and values while I dedicate myself to sharing love and light with all (Growing Whole p 172)

When reading this quote from Growing Whole what comes up for you?
For so many of us that pay attention to the happenings around the world or even in or own lives a sense of feeling out of control is normal.  This choice to accept the unpredictability of the world around you may help you to have a sense of taking back some of the control that is lost when unpredictable things happen.

An important part of this quote is the letting go of expectations of others.  To remember that the only thing that you can control is your own behavior.  To find a way to first accept yourself and let that acceptance eventually translate into how you see the world.

This is challenging.  Make no mistake.  This intention can be the beginning of a journey of a whole new mind set.  To go out into the world with the intention of acceptance and at the same time allowing yourself to notice when you can not accept something.  An important aspect to this will have to be honesty.  To be in touch with how you feel. 
To push down feelings about situations or relationships is the opposite that this is about.  Be present with your feelings. This is a great first step to acceptance of yourself and the world around you.

As you read this, please note your reactions to this.  If this is a difficult subject for you, take time to sit down and write about your reactions. If you have an immediate adverse reaction take note of that. Your reactions are important and gives more information for your own healing process.