Like most folks, I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. But something I truly love is the ability it gives us to welcome some of the top spiritual leaders of our world into our living rooms via YouTube. I’ve been listening to many talks by Tara Brach. She’s a leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening. She’s the senior teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington and is a practicing clinical psychologist.
In one of the talks, she introduced the concept of R.A.I.N. This stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Natural Opening. It’s a beautiful way to remember how to settle into the moment and reconnect with our intrinsic ability to be present and compassionate.
Next time you find yourself upon a challenging moment: RAIN.
And for those of you who might want to listen to Tara Brach share her wisdom and gentleness in her mellow voice (complete with silly jokes and stories) here’s a link to one of her talks…
I hope you have a chance to listen…even if it’s while you’re working out or driving or scrubbing dishes. Enjoy!
I was in a yoga class a few weeks ago sitting on my knees on my mat as people around me jumped their feet up to the wall for handstands. It’s a pose I’ve never been able to get anywhere near. My elbows always bow out to the sides and I feel like I’m going to crash down on my head if my feet leave the ground.
After class ended, I asked the instructor why it was so hard for me to even come close to doing a successful handstand. Eric pointed out how my upper arms needed to spin outwards to keep my arms from bowing out. I lamented the fact that my arms must be so weak compared to all the students who were popping up to the walls on their hands. And then he said something awesome:
“I don’t like to think of it as weakness. I think of it as a misappropriation of strength. “
He described these bench-pressing muscle guys who come into yoga class and have a really hard time holding some of the poses that much slighter folks can easily hold. It’s not because they’re weak of course…it’s because all of their strength is built up in certain muscles and not balanced around their bodies.
Eric put so simply and kindly, something that we all encounter all the time–we think of ourselves as weak or insufficient in some way when really we are just encountering an imbalance of strength. Sometimes we have built up a strength in self-protection and our work is to rebalance that with strengthening our ability to be open-hearted and vulnerable. Sometimes we’ve built up a strength of problem-solving, anticipation of situations, and planning and we need to practice getting out of our heads and into our bodies and letting the moment unfold organically.
So next time you start to think about something you’re “not good at” or some way of being that doesn’t come easily to you, ask yourself: “Where is my misappropriation of strength?” What have you become just a little too good at and what quality or practice would help you achieve balance? What is the yin to your yang or the yang to your yin?
(Namaste to Eric Newton from Greener Postures Yoga Studio)
I’ve been listening on repeat to a certain part of Pema Chodron’s Getting Unstuck. The section is entitled Lightening Things Up. She talks about a Tibetan word “shenpa” which translates as “getting hooked.” You may not know the word, but we’ve all experienced shenpa.
There are times when something comes up–maybe a worry or insecurity–and we’re able to notice it and let it go. Maybe your mother-in-law gives the blue streaks in your hair the fuzzy eyeball or your husband takes a bath and doesn’t clean the hair out of the drain afterwards. You notice the irritant and let it roll off your shoulders.
But then there are the other times…Your boss is short with you about a project you did or the grocery clerk is rude and it takes you over. You go over and over the event in your head. You think about what you could have said back that you didn’t. The center of your chest is a ball of tension and you’re off kilter for the next hour. That’s shenpa. It’s like our brains have been inhabited by worms of thought that take us away from any connection to the present moment of our lives.
The more we practice mindfulness, the more we increase our chances of noticing when we’ve been hooked and it’s then that we get to decide what to do next. Do we muck around in the shame or anger or worry? Do we react in an attempt to reject the feelings only to make it worse? Or can we access some lightness, some compassion, a breath, a sigh? Can we notice our habitual reaction to struggle and do something different?
What works for you? What do you catch yourself getting hooked by and what helps you “unhook?” Feel free to share in the comments section…I’ll respond to every comment posted.
And don’t forget to check out my Busting the Fairytale E-course starting this Fall! It’s the perfect 6-week online guide to developing a realistic view of relationships to help you “Love the One You’re With!” Use Promo code FAIRYTALE2014 to get 10% off!
Sitting down to meditate can be like sitting down in a jungle. My butt may be on a cushion in a quiet room, but in bringing attention to my mind I notice circling tigers, screeching macaws, and the buzz of a million noisy bugs. The breath is an invaluable anchor into the moment, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little company to help you along in your practice. With guided meditation, there is a quiet, soothing voice offering wisdom and direction on the path.
This article originally published by the Huffington Post Blog:
I was sitting at a round conference table in an empty office when I called Pat to tell her the news. Pat was my mentor and a professor of Contemplative Psychotherapy at the university I’d graduated from and she’d supported me when I’d begun my relationship.
“We’re engaged!” I told her, knowing she’d be excited, since she’d known what a good man Chris was.
“Wonderful!” she cried.
And then she said something I hadn’t expected: