Pause

Pause

One definition of mindfulness is present time, non-judgmental, investigative awareness. That’s a lot to take in.

Let’s break it down.

Start with present time. Present time means the now, the moment that we are experiencing right now at this exact moment. Not thinking about the past or the future just being with what ever comes up now.

Non-judgmental means to just be with the experience without adding any judgments to the thoughts. They are not good or bad, they just are. We as humans have been conditioned to judge, this is a moment of non-judging. Just seeing what the experience brings without any added habitual constraints.

Investigative means to look inward, remember this is an inside journey. We are trying to understand our inner landscape and how our inner world works and influences us and just investigate the experience again without any judgment. As we investigate our experience we can attempt to see it with what is considered “Beginners mind”. It means to see things as if it were the first time we see them. It brings us some new perspective to a sometimes-stale outlook.

Awareness means to simply pay attention to the body and mind and all the sensations that move us. We are always aware in our lives. The question to me is “What are we aware of?” When we are aware of awareness we can direct our attention to a wiser response to our life.  Become the watcher.

In my experience one of the best ways to be mindful is to simply pause. Pause and take a breath and feel the air enter into our bodies. Either we feel it at the tip of our nose or in our chest or even in the rising and falling of our belly. I go where I feel the breath the easiest. I usually focus on the entering and exiting of the breath at the tip of my nose feeling the cool air entering and the warmer air exiting.

Pause

Remember It’s Only Stuff

Be safe

Saying Good Bye

Saying Good Bye

The holidays can be filled with great pleasure but sometimes its filled with great pain and despair.  This is one of those times.  As I once read: Life is filled with 10,000 sorrows and 10,000 joys.  This is one of the sorrows.

It’s with immense sadness and grief that I say good bye to my best friend, Teeva.  We have spent the past 13 years together.  Our times were filled with mischief and unconditional love for each other.  Our many journeys have filled my life with tremendous pleasure and gratitude.  She is now out of pain and I’m so appreciative for all the lessons that she taught me.  She taught me to be in the moment without looking for something in the past or the future.

I will miss her greatly.  Be safe my friend.

Grief

Grief

Grief is a very interesting emotional state of mind. It’s interesting because we all will, at one point or another, have to deal with the consequences of grief in our lifetime. It is interesting to me because we all deal with grief in our own way.

Some people hide and attempt to avoid the painful emotional experiences in their lives. In my experience when we try to avoid pain we actually run towards it. I believe I read that somewhere.

When I have dealt with grief in my life I usually ran the other way and what I noticed is that the grief seemed to hang around a lot longer. Now that I use mindfulness to watch my emotions, my strong emotions, like grief, seemed to still be there for me to deal with, but now it doesn’t stay as long as it once did.

Watching it arise and then putting it in its proper place has assisted me tremendously. I like to share some tools that I use to process the grief, or any strong emotions that arise.

I use the following acronym: RAIN

Here’s how it works. When I feel a strong emotion arising, for example grief, I usually feel it in my body. I can feel the emotions in my belly or feel my chest tighten up and my breathing becomes shallow. See for yourself where you feel the emotions. Maybe your jaw tightens up or you feel it somewhere in your body.

When I feel it then I start the R.A.I.N. process.

R = Recognize. I recognize the emotion to exist; usually it arises in the body for me.
A = Allow. I allow the feeling to be there. I feel it with my entire body and mind
I = Investigate. I investigate where the emotion has come from. Usually it’s from a thought that triggers in my mind and then it travels down into the body.
N = Nurture. I nurture the pain, sending kindness to the mind and body.

When I do that a few times, it usually takes away the intensity of the emotion. Now the emotion is still there, however I’m able to process it more quickly and I realize that it’s only an emotion that isn’t personal but just an emotion that travels through my body. Remember that everything is impermanent. I’ll go into impermanence in a future article.

Hope this tool helps when you are feeling a strong, intense emotions in your mind and body.

Be safe

How to Work with the Inner Critic

How to work with the Inner Critic

Here are some strategies on how to work with the critic in a more skillful way.
We need to first understand our Inner Critic, as described in my last article.

The primary strategy that has worked for me is to use mindfulness as a tool to be aware of my inner experiences. I’ve tried to notice the kind of thoughts coming from my critic and feel the impact. How does it feel to be judged, criticized, diminished? I keep in mind that they too are only thoughts and only live with the energy that I give them.

Another strategy that works for me is replacing the inner critic talk with a Loving Kindness practice. Loving Kindness is a practice where you replace negative thought streams with wholesome thoughts. I practice by saying the following phrases to my self silently when the critic is cruel to me.

May I be happy
May I be safe
May I live my life with ease

Replacing negative thoughts with positive and loving ones assist us in becoming more compassionate with ourselves.

Another strategy I use is humor, usually sarcastic humor. For example, I would say to myself when the Inner critic was strong – “Yes Inner Critic you are correct, I am the worst writer that the world has ever seen”, and then just move on. Obviously replace “writer” with any word that your Inner Critic uses to judge you.

Using Inquiry is another tool or strategy to work with the inner critic. Is it true what the critic is saying? Is it true that I’m stupid of whatever? Investigate if the critic is telling you the truth or just selling you a bunch of lies. When you discover that they are lies it’s much easier to release them into the wind.

You can also try and be intense with the critic. Tell him or her powerfully to stop and go away. It’s not true or helpful what the critic is telling you.

The ultimate goal is to come to a place of disinterest. Treat the critic like a barking dog in the distance. The dog is annoying but nothing more. Just tell the critic, yeah I hear you, so what. Make the comments not important. It will lose its intensity and slip away into the night.

These are just some of the strategies that I have used for many years and they have helped me deal with the Inner critic and all the judgments he brings up.

Try these tools for yourself and see if they are helpful. Try and see which ones work best for you. What do you have to lose? Maybe a better relationship with your Inner Critic will help you along the road of life?

Be safe and remember.  It’s Only Stuff

The Voice Inside Our Heads

 

The Voice Inside Our Heads

We all have a voice inside our heads that talks to us most of the time. The accepted term to describe this inside voice is “The Inner Critic”.

Hopefully the voice is a positive one, however usually the voice is the opposite and critically judges us.

Lets break down the word “Inner Critic”

 

“Inner”  – The inside landscape of our existence. Something very personal.

“Critic”  – A person who judges, evaluates or criticizes.

I believe it’s very important to recognize if your Inner Critic is a positive or negative influence on your life. Once you determine that fact, then and only then, can we address our relationship to the voice in our heads. Changing our relationship to the voice is one of the keys to self realization and awakening.

Does your voice speak to you in nice terms or is it an oppressive critical voice?

Unfortunately for most of us the voice can be harsh and tell us things that are hurtful. Have you ever listened to the voice? I mean really listened? What do you hear? Do you hear hurtful words or encouraging words or maybe some words in between?

The thing to remember is that they are only words. Words are made up of letters put together and then turned into thoughts. The issue comes up when we think those words/thoughts are real, that they are believable.

Once we investigate them by turning towards the voice and see that not only can they be hurtful they are usually wrong. Why do we just believe our thoughts without even really thinking about it? Our minds tell us to do and think certain things and we just listen and obey without even giving it a second thought. It can be considered as a sort of brainwashing or just habitual, compulsive and unwise acts.

When I came to the realization that I don’t have to listen to my mind (Inner Voice/Critic) it literally changed my life. Don’t get me wrong the mind is an extremely useful tool if it’s used correctly. We should strive to use the mind and not let the mind use us. There is a subtle difference between them, however the impact between the two is immense.

“You carry all the ingredients to turn your life into a nightmare. Don’t mix them”

“You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy. Mix them, mix them”

– Hafiz –

Remember It’s Only Stuff…

 

2 Arrows

The 2 Arrow scenario

The 1st arrow is what life shoots at us.  These are things that we have to deal with because we are human working with the human condition.

The 2nd arrow is optional and usually filled with Anger, Hate, Frustration or a myriad of other negative emotions.

Why do we shoot ourselves?

It usually comes from our unmindful thinking patterns, better known as habits.  Some call it Autopilot.  When we give the time needed to investigate them, we can have a better life experience.

Mindfulness allows us to slow things down and lets us see how things really are.  With time and practice we can make the decision to respond instead of react to the inner/outer experience.

 

Step outside the rush

A New Year is here and it’s time to get back into the rat race.

Where are people headed to in such a hurry?

Whether it’s to work or play, take time to enjoy the journey.

Be mindful as we go through our day.  Be kind and compassionate.