Inspiration – Resisting

person wearing orange hoodie

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“It may look as if the situation is creating the suffering, but ultimately this is not so – your resistance is.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

Have you ever  had a reaction of “What do you mean I’m resisting? … They are the problem!”

We are all human beings with egos that are ready to duck and weave… push back and dismiss… defend or withdraw, in order to avoid feeling the pain of being wrong, not being accepted or not being good enough.

This is one of those seemingly simple statements from Eckhart Tolle that has a greater depth of meaning.

When we get frustrated and unhappy, instead of resenting what is happening to us, wishing things to be different and attacking the nearest bystander or ourselves for being stupid, we can step back with awareness.

We can ask ourselves questions such as “What is it that I am not accepting?” “What am I resisting?” Then “What can I do to change the situation?” (Bear in mind that you cannot change an other person, only yourself.) “What can I do differently here?” “Can I bring about change or accept the way things are”.

An other way to look at this is to recognize that the resistance is already within us. It’s usually in the beliefs that we hold about ourselves and life in general. When we come across something which threatens how we see the world, our ego will react to protect itself. We get triggered.

Every time we are triggered, it’s an opportunity to learn and to educate ourselves on what we hold dear to ourselves and our values. It’s also an opportunity to explore those beliefs and see if they are meaningful, or are based on early conditioning. Perhaps the other perspective is actually worth considering!

It really is all about us and our inner world.

When our ego defends and attacks the outer world; when we blame the other and create enemies in our mind; when we become judge and jury for everything that doesn’t comply with our thinking, then it is time to stop, take a few deep breaths and begin to search inside ourselves.

Self inquiry is the work of our lives.

Enlightenment and Spending Time with Family

For everyone spending time with the Fokkers this year. This is a re-post and reminder just in time for Christmas and New Years.

☯︎☮︎☯︎☮︎☯︎☮︎☯︎☮︎☯︎

meet the parents

“If you think you are truly enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.”

~ Ram Dass

I laughed out loud when I read this today! Visiting back home definitely brings me back down to earth. I then googled to see what others said about this and found this wisdom from Eckhart Tolle.

“It is a good test for your degree of Presence. The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.

… You will gain the most from this experience if you don’t take it too seriously, if you don’t create impossible standards for your conduct of behavior, if you try so hard to be Present and Still that you behave like a robot, if you withdraw into a cocoon of self-protection, or if you blame your family members for every little imperfect act from the past that harmed you in some way.

Instead, and above all, choose to relax, reduce your expectations for what may or may not happen, expect little skirmishes, disagreements, moments of humility or failure, and the distance you may feel with your family as a whole, knowing that you are trying to move beyond the ego patterns that have been impediments to your soul and that they care less about ego and Presence and even Truth.

Love and accept them where they’re at. Have compassion for their pain. Be observant while being engaged as guilelessly as possible. Watch yourself and your reactions, out of curiosity, not judgment or blame, but for the benefit of learning how and where you’re really at in your spiritual evolution.”

So … Don’t take it too seriously. Relax. Expect to re-live some moments rooted in the past. Love and accept them for who they are, rather than wishing them to be different. And above all, don’t just bring a present Be Present.

Namaste

 

In Time of Anger or Despair

angry sea

Angry Sea – Source: Dreamstime © Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

“In a time of anger or despair, even if we feel overwhelmed, our love is still there.
Our capacity to communicate, to forgive, to be compassionate is still there.
You have to believe this.
We are more than our anger, we are more than our suffering.
We must recognize that we do have within us the capacity to love, to understand, to be compassionate, always.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Come back to the love that is there, and let go of the anger eating at your heart.

Step away, breathe deeply and find your center, and its deeper knowing.

Distressing emotions are a part of life.

They pass when we stop holding on to them in our thoughts.

Learning how to handle them takes patience, insight and compassion.

Understand that beyond fear and suffering is always love.

Namaste

Pointing fingers

Do you point out annoying habits in other people?
For example, it could be someone being too controlling, or too loud, or showing off, or not standing up for themselves…
Whatever it is, in order for us to see it, we must have knowledge of it.

When we point a finger at someone else, remember that there are 3 fingers pointing back at us.

The next time you find yourself getting triggered and pointing a finger, bring your attention to yourself and ask:

 “How am I that?”
“How do I do the exact same thing?!?”
OR
“How do I NOT do it and wish I did more?

There is usually something worthwhile to learn about yourself. It’s very uncomfortable to begin with, to face the parts of ourselves that we are denying or don’t want to admit to. Carl Jung called it our shadow self.

Its a powerful practice to take time to explore what’s behind feeling triggered, and is usually done with the support of a therapist, to help us navigate the defensive ego-mind at work here.

For me, it has become a surprisingly fun practice to see how I  do the things that annoy me most in others/wish I did them more. When I have the presence of mind to pause and see what’s going on, I often find myself laughing.

Try it out the next time you’re triggered and pointing fingers. Meet yourself fully and learn to laugh at yourself.

 

p.s. There may be a time when someone opposes your personal beliefs or violates something that you hold dear. The passion and anger arising in you then, comes from a deeper part of yourself, and is much more than pointing a finger at a behavior that’s annoying. There are wrongs in this world, and it is  important to stand up for what you believe to be right.

Find Balance After Being Triggered – 6 tools to use

Its part of our human nature to become annoyed and angry when we feel threatened or things don’t go our way. Irritation and frustration seem to go hand in hand with the fast paced demands of life today.

We humans also have a “fight or flight” response when we feel threatened. It helped our ancestors survive when facing sabre toothed tigers. Nowadays, we can have the same response when someone cuts us off on the road, a colleague takes credit for a piece of our work, or we feel we are being treated unfairly…

Whether the threat is real, or in our imagination, the mind and body reacts in exactly the same way.  Our brains and bodies are flooded in a chemical bath. There is a rush of adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream, blood is sent to the extremities and the heart, digestion is put on hold, muscles tense. We are ready to bounce or run!

fight or flight

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness” ~ Viktor Frankl

“You can’t stop the waves but your can learn to surf” ~ Jon Kabat Zinn.

ooOoo

Here are 6 tools you can use to calm the body and mind’s response to center yourself:

1. Breathe. At the first moment you realize you are experiencing annoyance or anger, bring awareness to your breath. Take several full breaths focusing on the exhale to release that tension and energy. Then slow it down. Making the inhale and exhale long and even.

This will help invoke the body’s relaxation response and give you time to access your higher brain for making a decision on how to proceed.

breath awareness

2. Calm Body and Mind. Try these calming techniques for body and mind.

  • Bring a hand to my belly, to encourage fuller breathing and to feel more grounded. I also like to put a hand on my heart to initiate a mammalian soothing response. Try it and see. Feel the warmth from your palm and allow it to calm and soothe your heart.
  • Bring a finger tip to your lips can also have an immediate calming affect on the body
  • To create a new neural pathway in the brain . You may also like to add a word to say or phrase on the exhale. For example “release” or “let it go” or “have patience” or “be calm”.
  • If you are more visual, then bring to mind the image of someone you love or a place that calms you. Have it on your smart phone, ready to be accessed in a moment.

Take a moment and reflect on what would work for you…

3. Release the Tension Our body also needs to release the tension that is part of the fight or flight response. Animals naturally shake off this tension after conflict, but we humans have lost that natural ability to release it. Moving your body is important. Get out of your head and into your body to deal with the physical response.

Here are some examples:stretch

  • Find a private place to practice sun breaths (full movement of the arms with the breath)
  • Stretch the body! Stamp your feet into the ground then reach for the sky. Imagine the energy being released downwards and then upwards.
  • Run up and down stairs
  • Get outside for a walk or a run.
  • Practice “meshing”. Visualize yourself as porous as a mesh screen. As you encounter strong feelings welling up (for example, anger, fear, resentment), let the feelings pass through your body. Observes the intense feelings moving through.
  • Pretend you are in a sitcom, and appreciate the humor in every absurd situation. The challenging times are often similar to scenes in a bad comedy, especially if they are of our own making. Laugh about it. Laughter releases physical tension too!

Take a moment and consider what would release tension for you…

man reflecting4. Reflect. With blood now accessing your higher brain you can reflect on what has just happened.
Where is the emotion coming from? Is there a history behind it?
Explain it to yourself. “I’m annoyed right now because ….” This reflection may be enough to detach yourself from the emotional reaction. Don’t be quick to judge, based on your own reaction. You don’t know what the other person might be struggling with, or what is going on in their life. If you are cut off in the car, it may be that that person really does have an family emergency.

5. Switch Perspectives. Be an observer of the situation. Imagine you are an observer and play back what just happened. Let go of judgment or getting caught up in your side of the story.

Be the narrator of the scene that just occurred. Notice when emotions come up and try to step back into the observer role again. Keeping a detached distance will allow you to find your center and balance. 

Try to see the other person’s point of view. Don’t be quick to judge, based on your reaction. You don’t know what they might be struggling with or what is going on in their life. If you are cut off in the car, it may be that that person really does have an family emergency.

water lilies in calm water

6. Have a Mantra or Axiom. Choose a go-to phrase that means something to you that will help you maintain this observer mindset:

Here are some examples:

  • Everyone wants to be happy.
  • This person is acting this way because he thinks it will make him happy.
  • People who are a pain are usually in pain.
  • Recite the Serenity Prayer. ““God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Trust in time. What seems bad now will not always be so.
  • Lighten up. Things happen. Don’t take it all so seriously. What really matters here?
 Ask yourself “Is this worth fighting for” or is there something more important here.
  • Which is more important – Being right or this relationship?
  • Move from reaction to action. What part have I played in bringing this about? What can I do to make this better?

Take time and reflect on what would work for you…

ooOoo

Having a set of tools to use in the heat of the moment is really helpful, but will only help at that moment. Research has shown that having a regular practice of meditation helps us to step back and access this observer mindset so that we find our balance more and more easily.
 With practice over time, we will not react so strongly as we accept all our emotions as our teachers and friends.

Namaste

* Being Graceful When Triggered

One of the topics I always come back to, is being graceful in the lows of life and how to handle the flood of emotions that most of us feel when we are triggered.
I have also noticed that over the past few years I have become less likely to react and am able to let go and come into the present moment.
As I re-read this post called The Argument, my body contracts and I feel an echo of the very same reaction running through me.
At the end I find myself smiling with relief and gratitude.
We are all on a path of learning and growth. 😌

Find Your Middle Ground

I can recall so clearly what happens when I am triggered. It still surprises me when I am, but I also know that it will pass when I let myself feel what’s going on. I used to think that being graceful was putting on a brave face and not showing how hurt I was.  Rather than storming off and vowing never to speak to that person again …. I guess I’ve found my own way of finding grace when triggered.

The Argument

How dare you!! 

Come into the present moment and notice

the pounding head, the clenched jaw and hands in fists

the thoughts that spark like fiery daggers

Don’t control me! I don’t want this! I don’t need you!

Feel the tears and absolute frustration

the vulnerability at being in this place of hurt and loss.

Loss of control. Loss of connection. Loss of understanding.

Become that wee girl too…

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Love, Relationships and Triggers

I’m exploring more about what gets in the way of finding our Middle Ground. In the highs and lows of life there will always be more challenging days. This can happen when a colleague lets us down at work; when our partner disappoints us or when our mother criticizes what we are wearing….

Today, I dipped into John Welwood’s book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships.  He has such interesting and compassionate insights from a fusion of Buddhism and psychotherapy.

teddy all aloneJohn Welwood talks about the wounding of our heart that takes place when we are very young. This is when we realize that our parent cannot love us unconditionally and cannot meet all our needs.
The time comes when we cry and noone comes, or when we want comfort and there’s noone there.
We suddenly become insecure and very fearful about not being fully loved. We feel wounded and vulnerable.

This leads to what he calls a mood of unlove, when we don’t feel fully loved and believe that there is something wrong with us.
When we don’t feel worthy, appreciated, accepted, respected, acknowledged, valued or good enough, the mood of unlove shows up. He calls this the wounding of our heart.

“The mood of unlove often shows up in the form of sudden emotional flare ups in reaction to any hint of being slighted or badly treated. It’s as if a reservoir of distrust and resentment were ready and waiting to be released, which the tiniest incident can trigger. Even caring and compassionate people often carry within them a fair share of unlove and righteous grievance, which can suddenly erupt under certain circumstances.”

wounded heartTo bring it into everyday life. When your boss asks you to re-write that presentation you have spent hours working on, or your spouse criticizes you for not doing it right … you may get triggered!

What John Welwood is saying is that at these moments the wound of our heart opens up along with the mood of unlove. We react and try to protect ourselves from this feeling of being unloved and that there is something wrong with us..

When we become defensive and lash out or withdraw or try to escape,  we may feel better, but the original hurt will be there until we acknowledge and embrace it. We will continue to be triggered until we fully accept ourselves and let love blossom inside.

Could it be that simple … that all we long for is to feel fully loved? And that the answer lies within each of us.

By taking the time to see this in the heart of the moment, we can learn to give ourselves empathy and love and begin to heal this old wound.

Namaste