Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The 5 Steps of Forgiveness

Since conflict's not really my bag: if I have even a TINY disagreement and it doesn't have a resolution, my mind and time turn said tiny disagreement into a knock-down-drag-out-end-of-days scenario.

The other morning, I woke up pissed. I was pissed at one person because our tiny disagreement hadn't been resolved. It really didn't matter though, it felt more like I was pissed at the world. Pissed at my alarm clock, pissed at my coffee, pissed at driving and at going to the gym.

It has become so clear to me that when I'm angry, resentful, sad or disappointed in or at anyone, anything or any place it REALLY doesn't effect that person, place or thing---it affects me.

Morter HealthSystem, the kind folks who created the healing technique that I have been studying, have a system to let go of these feelings, which they call "The 5 Steps of Forgiveness."

Here's how it works, you sit down with yourself on your meditation cushion or in your favorite recliner and go through these steps:

Imagine the person(s), place, or thing that you WANT to forgive in front of you. Identify the feeling that you’re feeling.

I forgive myself for feeling __(the feeling)________.

I forgive you for any harm you may have caused me by ‘causing’ me to feel ____(the feeling)__________.

I give you absolute permission to forgive me for any harm I may have caused you by feeling ____(the feeling)_______.

Ask yourself, “What am I learning?” (See the good and be grateful) a. I am learning ________________.
b. I am grateful I am learning ________________.
c. I am grateful I am safe learning _____________.

5. Now imagine a chord, one end of it attached to you and the other end attached to the person(s), place, or thing in front of you. Imagine giant scissors coming and cutting the chord. See the chord disintegrating. Now while you imagine the person(s), place or thing slowly fading away, say: “I release you. I wish you well. God bless you. I love you.”

Or you can just say "I release you," if you're not into all of the God and love stuff. You may have to practice this over and over again with the same person and different feelings or the same feelings and different scenarios or the same person and the same feelings until one day, almost imperceptible, like a feather, you'll realize you're starting to let go. It may take once, it may take years, but slowly, with patience and if you want to, you can let go of these feelings.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Extra Cup of Coffee

Lately I've been having a hard time sleeping. This is totally weird for me because usually, sleeping's my main thing. On some of the mornings in the last couple days when it's time to "wake-up," but I've BEEN awake, I feel a vast injustice. My brain feels fractured and the routine is an extra cup of coffee and setting expectations low for the day. It's after that extra cup of coffee, or maybe the first one, when anxiety turns on and my mind goes into storyteller mode about what's wrong with me. Some of the stories are reasonable enough and others are downright scary.

I like the word we use in meditation: proliferate. According to dictionary.com it means: 1. to grow or produce by multiplication of parts, as in budding or cell division, or by procreation. 2. to increase in number or spread rapidly and often excessively. As in, the mind will come up with one maybe true thought like, "I have to remember to pay my credit card bill." And then a judgment will follow, "Money's tight this month." And then another and another...until it's a fear of something that might happen in six years, "I'll have to sell the business and declare bankruptcy." At this point, the heart is racing too.

Thanks to my years of meditation practice, I usually catch on pretty quickly that my mind just came up with a whole bunch of stuff that isn't true and has absolutely nothing to do with right now. I heard a Zen quote a few months back that I like to remind myself of whenever I catch myself hypothesizing about something that is totally unrelated to the present moment: "Don't know what you don't know." What a relief.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Cupcake Game

My teacher Jen and her friends have a birthday tradition called, "The Cupcake Game." If you're at a birthday party for any of these ladies, you'll play the game by getting your own cupcake with your own candle in it for dessert. Every time I've played The Cupcake Game, there's a whole bunch of us, but I s'pose you could play it with just the birthday person and one other friend if you wanted.

Someone starts the game by saying their hope for the birthday girl in the coming year. When they have said everything they want to say, they blow out their candle. Then it's the next person in the circle's turn and all the way back around to the birthday girl, who says her wish and blows out her candle.

I remember the first time I ever played The Cupcake Game, I was struck by how everyone's wish for the birthday girl was to feel something: ease, peace, love, or for her to laugh a lot; no one was wishing the birthday girl a new Mini Cooper or a Jack Russel Terrier.

Back when I was a kid, I had a hard time with the word 'pray.' I preferred to use the word 'wish' and would say my wishes before bed the way I imagined other kids prayed. Sometimes, at my grandparents house we would say "grace," and I liked that word. Nowadays I have no trouble with the word pray, but I still mix in the word wish and mean the same thing.

A friend of mine is leaving for the Mayo Clinic today to find out what's been going on with his heart. I wished him an enlightening and relaxing time there, after which I realized I have completely adopted this policy of hoping good feelings for my friends and anyone.

I am thankful to my main man Rumi, who, hundreds of years ago, did this whole post in three words: "Don't worry, pray."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's not often I find myself asking the age old question, "Which line will move faster?" In addition to giving up rushing a long time ago, I now live in a tiny town and rarely experience what I would call a crowd.

The other day I went down to the big city to run some errands. I found myself in a particularly busy coffee shop wanting to buy a coffee and use the bathroom. The queues leading up to the counter and the restroom were both super long, and I struggled to decide which line to choose and when. After choosing the long line of ladies leading to The Ladies, I was grateful to realize all of a sudden that being in line is actually a lot like being on a yoga mat.

Once you're in the line, there's nothing to do. Being in the line is what you're doing. As my teacher Peter would say, "There's actually no such thing as waiting; there's only awareness of each moment."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Charge

I have an aunt who doesn't recycle. I know, I know, there's lots of people who don't recycle. And every once in a while I don't recycle either. Like sometimes if I've been carrying around an empty olive jar all weekend camping and there's a trash can right there, I might not recycle. When it comes to this particular aunt of mine not recycling though, I turn into a first-class bully. I used to send her articles about the plastic in the sea between Hawaii and Japan, sometimes I write on her facebook, "Do you recycle yet?" and every time my mom and I talk about her, I only have one question, "Has she started recycling?" Geez, I can be so mean. The truth of the matter is, I pick on her because I can tell she feels bad about it. If she was a total jerk (like someone in this story) and had declared long ago, "I don't recycle and I don't care!" I might have never surfaced the topic.

I have a word I like to use for stuff like my aunt feeling bad about not recycling: "charge." "There's a charge around it for her," I might say. My aunt's not neutral about not recycling and that's what my subconscious mind responds to, then my conscious mind starts thinking of ways (albeit, TOTALLY unproductive ones) to get her to start.  Like if someone called me after I had changed plans with them and said, "Just forget it, it sounds like you're too busy," I could say, "Ok, fine," hang up, then feel awful about being in a fight with my friend. OR, I could say, "I feel like there's a charge around this and I want to clear it." I totally dig that a word that describes physical properties known as positive and negative is SO neutral.

To clear any charge you may have around me being a total recycle bully, I would like to say that I feel super invested in getting my aunt to recycle, because it's the right thing to do and also because, I know her. She's just like me! And there's folks like us out there who really feel better when we always do our best. I know that this particular aunty will be able to relax in a whole new way when she stops feeling bad about not recycling and finally just starts doing the right thing, even though it takes a little longer. I'll also probably feel better when I can quit this whole bully gig.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"The Peace of Wild Things"

by: Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Feeling Important

I've been holding out on a coincidence that exists inside my life and thus, tipsandtricks. On September 13th I did a post called The Albuquerque Room. I found myself in that room when I was on a road trip and visiting some hot springs; the final destination of my trip was meant to be my new home of Boulder, Colorado. The name of the motel where they have the lovely Albuquerque Room is called the Lomita Motel. I now work at those hot springs and live on a street called La Lomita, approximately 40 miles Northeast of that room in the city that became my home: Taos, New Mexico. I drive past that room every Sunday on my way to and from the hot springs, where I teach a few yoga classes, and I've been meaning to reread that post.

Over the weekend someone told me they were sad after hanging out with a person who made them feel unimportant. Also over the weekend I spent time listening to various people tell me about their own unique physical symptoms. Next, I had a lady come up to me after she took my class to tell me she got a strong intuitive hit about my future. After she told me what she saw,
I went into great detail about how what she was perceiving sounded more like my past and proceeded to tell her about MY ideas of my future. I couldn't help but smile when I noticed her body language demonstrate that she was done with our conversation when I was only a year or two in to MY fascinating ideas of what's next.

For real, one of my favorite parts about teaching yoga is a conversation I have often that begins with me saying something like, "Is there anything you want me to know about your body?" Some people make a joke and say, "It would take way too long to tell you!" Some people say they have a knee injury and know how to take care of it, but more often than not, people go into great detail about this state-of-the-art surgery they had a year and a half ago or this funny way their back feels after they got a massage yesterday. I love hearing these stories, and I am genuinely interested in them because I'm there to help these folks with their stories take care of themselves. I remember when I first started taking yoga classes, I had a big long story, too.

And I remember how important I felt in those two seconds when the lady came up to ME to tell me about my great future, and the success I was going to find. And I believe we're all really special. And I also believe that we're all not that important. When my friend told me he was feeling sad and unimportant, I reminded him of a Milapera quote to "Never spend more than 7 nights with someone who doesn't know you can be enlightened in this lifetime."

I finally got around to rereading that Albuquerque Room post this morning. Wouldn't you know I'm just writing the same old things now that I was back then, yet it still feels unique and somehow new.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Other People's Altars #1

The thing I am most likely to forget when I travel is my little portable altar. If I do forget it, I have zero to no chance of keeping up with my meditation practice; and I often let myself out of routines when I'm on vacation because I'm so good at keeping them when I'm home.

This morning I meditated in front of this altar. You guys! It was SO grounding and fun.

Project "Other People's Altars," is a project including me, other people's altars and an intention to get less formal about this whole meditating thing; to forget my traveling altar on purpose and remember the world is my altar more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Guru Principle

A few years ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor. One day when she was talking about it, she quoted Einstein: "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." She believed she had a brain tumor because there was something for her to learn from it; because everything can't happen all at once, and, after some time, she would heal. "Holy Mother of God," I remember thinking, "I thought I was an optimist!"

Today is Guru Purnima, a very important holiday on the Hindu and Buddhist calendars; it's held every year on the full moon in July to honor teachers. Some of us are lucky to have teachers, you know, other human beings who teach us stuff in a formal setting and if we have questions, we can ask them. Others of us may never find another human being who we really feel connected to in that way. I believe in something called The Guru Principle in which a teacher can be found in anything and everything. Today, one of my friends, Suki, talked about the teacher in traffic which reminded her to leave more time to get to where she's going next time. Someone may see a teacher in the flying ants that have moved into their apartment and finally take the time to fix the broken window. Or maybe the teacher is another person but in a less formal setting, like an angry customer or someone who is patient with their child.

As today's holiday is a celebration of gratitude, I want to say thank you to all of my teachers everywhere. I would also like to continue to practice gratitude more than just a few times a year. I want to practice it in traffic, at the dentist, with flying ants and the lady who I think looks at me mean. I am grateful for my life, for my friend who had a brain tumor and I am grateful for right now.