Be the change in yourself that you want to see in the world! Gandhi
Be a lamp unto yourself!
Here are my thoughts that I wrote in my journal last summer when I noticed that I was very cranky, reactive, and fairly miserable. I wondered what choices that I had recently made that led me to feel that way. I contemplated how I could change my perspectives and choices so I could feel happier and restore balance to my life. How about for you? Could you use a tune up?
UPDATE: This last season of 2013 and 2016 has seen many opportunities and challenges: increased work demands (and then retirement after 40 years), family, friends, and in-law illnesses came up. I was also attempting to support them too; lots of housework and gardening, shopping & cooking, and other healthy-lifestyle practices, trying to promote my Playbook; friends requests and having a variety of guests over (all fun…and it takes time and effort to plan and implement)…and I arrived at a place of feeling extremely tired and stressed. I realized I was at a place of burnout. OOPS!
I wanted to be compassionate for everyone in the world….and I realized that I was depleted. I took time to remember that the cycle of compassion is not complete without myself. I can’t drown…I need to keep myself afloat too. It’s essential that I heal my own traumas.
ASK myself: “Is this compassion for me? Can I take on this commitment and not overwhelm or harm myself?” I can remember that it’s not my job to save the world single-handedly. Plant the seeds that I can–do what I can. That is enough.
It’s essential that I take care of my instrument (my body, mind, and spirit) too so that I can make beautiful music! No one can take care of me–I have to do it. I realized that no one can balance my life for me–I have to do it.
So I asked a friend if we could stay home today (and not take a whole-day trip to Eugene from Portland OR). I slowed down and actually went to the gym for a short while, visited my spiritual group and meditated 2 hours, and then went home and took a nap! Ah…now that felt better!
I asked myself, how can I create my life more skillfully?
I want to become a doctor to my own mind, emotions, and life!
- Notice–be aware of–that my present emotional/mental/physical state is the result of the recent choices in my life. Perhaps review: Four Foundations of Mindfulness: body, feelings, mind, and all phenomena and Zen Habits-Live Simply.
- When life gets challenging (with lots of busyness, suffering, difficult experiences) then I really need extra meditation, contemplation, and time spent on managing my stress (not less!).
- Set my daily intention: this is the way I’m going to do it. I’m not creating more separation from myself and others by my choices. ASK: Does this act of body, speech, and mind serve my highest aspirations for my heart and life? It is my intention that you are not going to be harmed by me in any way. It is safe to be with me.
- Practice stress management techniques. Slow down. Release speed. Allow extra time. Release the need to rush to the next thing. Own my place on the earth. Move slowly throughout the day. Contemplate and celebrate my journey of life!
- Relax. Observe and allow. Be aware of and stay connected with each of the experiences that I encounter. Pay attention to my reactions to life’s events.
- Know what enough is. Watch greed (and compulsion) for accomplishment (e-mails, computers, house chores, social activities, etc.). Notice the heaviness of obligation.
- Ask where’s my heart? I shut off my heart when I live in my head (constant thinking—remembering, planning, and judging).
- Remember all of stories and identities I have about me and others are not true! Everyone, everything, and myself are in a constant state of change all of the time. There is no solid and unchangeable core in anything. Everything is in flux.
- Don’t buy into the idea that I need a long retreat or a special environment to get happy (have emotional and mental balance and peace). It can happen in my daily life—IF—I set up the daily patterns and choices for it to manifest!
- Out of stillness can come awareness, and out of awareness can come right planning that leads to a life that is well lived.
- Stand up to all circumstances: Retrain the perspective from which anger, despair, frustration, and self-hatred speaks. Change my mind!
- Let go of the insistence of being “in control.” Allow timing of enfoldment of life’s events.
ASK: Would I rather be right or happy? Remember, my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations!
o ASK: Am I happy, peaceful, and contented? Yes/No? If not, what habits or patterns or mind am I cultivating? Notice that attachment to what I want à anger and unhappiness are the result.
o High and unmet expectations lead to impatience and frustrations. When I have lots of desires, wanting to be right or acknowledged, and have attachment to my views and my desired outcomes (“I want or must have…”) I notice that I’m miserable!
o Do I have strong attachment to my projects, views, and perspectives? If I do, what happens to my peace of mind?
- I’m in charge of making my choices, trying things out—making the effort. I’m not in charge of the results or outcomes. When I’m attached to the results, I suffer and am unhappy.
- Watch caring more for people’s health and well-being than they do! Who is doing the work of making changes? Me or them?
o For perspective, consider the metaphor of looking at a forest floor. You will see trees fallen everywhere, branches, old flowers, shrubs, and leaves all over. They are all in various forms of decay and regeneration to new life forms. So like all of life (humans too) on earth—some falling down, crashing and burning (falling into relapse around harmful behaviors)—going through apparently difficult and chaotic circumstances, there is dying of old ways and regeneration of new forms of life. They are evolving in ways that are right for them!
Perhaps consider too:
On The Spot Stress Managers (new audio relaxation tape)
Thich Nhat Hanh questions (Mary shared them with me.)
Consider these questions today. This can apply to a romantic partner, but family or even in the business world…or really to any relationship:
1. Are you in love? Creating Healthy Relationships
2. Are you still in love? Loving-Kindness: Learn to Befriend Ourselves and Others and Love Your Body!
3. Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love?
4. Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? How to Develop a Loving Relationship with You
5. Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? Overwhelmed? Are You Taking In Too Many Empty Calories? and Help! I’m movin’ too fast! I need to slow down!
6. Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person?
7. Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? CELEBRATING The Simple Joys Of Life!
8. Do you know how to handle the suffering in yourself? Four Foundations of Mindfulness
9. Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? Relax, Observe, and Allow
10. Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering? Getting to Know Your Stress and How to Management It and Out Of Hell, Into Freedom Thoughts
11. Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? Make Your Mind an Ocean: Become Your Own Therapist!
12. Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? Thoughts On Healing and Helping Yourself and Others
13. Have you learned the way to calm down the painful feelings and emotions? Dialectical behavior therapy
14. Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? Mental Nutrients: What To Say When You Talk To Your Self
15. Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less?
16. Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing reconciliation? Non Violent Communication
17. Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? Peace!
18. Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? Be Happy and Contented!
19. Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? What Is Life About? Heart Advice
20. Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? Invent A New Life!
21. Do you know how to nourish your love everyday? Rules For Being Human