So let's say that one day I get really annoyed with one of my kids and have an angry outburst. And let's say that this outburst involves sputtering rage-filled comments that are hurtful to those around me. But I know that's not who I'd like to be or how I'd like to behave. If I recognize that behavior as something that goes against my own personal values, it shouldn't happen. Right? Well that's not usually how things work out. Often our lives don't reflect our values, creating a constant friction within.
Most of us have negative responses to certain emotions and events in our lives that we are not consciously in control of. Very often, our subconscious mind likes to run the same old program over and over again without our consent. So when something triggers our anger we tend to respond in the same way we've been responding our whole lives creating habitual behavior that is not purposefully chosen by us. Becoming mindful is a way to take control of our behavior and rewrite that program consciously.
First we have to get rid of the negative self-talk and judgment most of us employ when trying to change (see the left side of the chart above). Because negative reinforcement never, ever works in the long run. Ever. This only creates a negative feedback loop that feeds back into the undesired emotions and behaviors. There's nothing wrong with you, you're not a bad person. You're just a person, flawed and perfectly imperfect and on a journey of self-realization. It's okay to love yourself. In fact, it's necessary if you'd like to not pass on your own negativity to your children and those you love and really make a positive impact on the world.
Now it's time to own the behavior. Make the choice to accept it and try to learn from it. Be curious about yourself as though you were observing from a third person perspective. Think about why habitual behavior patterns have been formed and try to figure out where they may have come from. Nine times out of ten (or maybe even ten times out of ten) you'll realize that the negative behavior was something you learned along your life's journey as a way to cope with uncomfortable emotions. Often we learn the same coping skills of our parents or peer groups, taking on these things as our own. We think the behaviors are us, that they originated with our personality, but that's rarely if ever the case at all.
So we in some way name the source or the root cause (giving us power over it in a Rumpelstiltskin kind of way) and without blame of ourselves or others, just feel the emotions that go along with it. We sit with the feelings that make us upset. We allow the emotions to flow without judging them or trying to push them away and eventually they dissipate like a wave crashing on the shore. Then we know we are strong enough to handle the pain, that we don't have to cope by reacting to it, by lashing out and creating suffering within ourselves or those we love. This helps us understand ourselves, have compassion for ourselves, and recognize the triggers and subsequent patterns that have been the underlying controlling forces of our lives.
Once you have understanding and acceptance you'll be able to catch yourself when you're triggered. You'll be able to notice with mindfulness that you're drifting into old habits and patterns that are not in line with your values and then pull yourself back to consciousness. Stopping the old behavior then creates new behaviors that are purposeful and choice-driven instead of subconscious programs. This then leads to a complete rewiring of your mind where eventually you'll no longer have to re-route your thoughts but will instead have created new habits that are in line with your values and who it is you want to be. When that happens, you are finally the only one in control of your life.
By Lisa on Friday, February 28, 2014
Many people think that balance (when speaking in spiritual terms) means maintaining two separate energies at the same time, neither one changing or affecting the other. The reality is that spiritual balance is not like material balance where two objects of the same weight sit level with each other on a scale. Instead these two energies mesh together and create something new and altogether more authentic, not to mention more powerful. It's more like mixing equal parts of black and white paint. The extremes of black and white are destroyed and transformed into grey – into sometime new. This is a better way to understand the creation of spiritual balance.
Maintaining balance between light and dark does not mean honoring your dark side one day and your light the next. It means allowing the two to come together as one and becoming a whole, self-aware being. It means owning your own power instead of fearing your magnificent human potential. When we disregard or ignore either of them, we risk living life to extremes, full of drama and endless battles of ego. A large part of our earthly journey is to become integrated and whole.
Aine is a well regarded, multifaceted goddess with a wealth of attributes. But first and foremost she tends to be seen as a Goddess of Love. I find this a compelling idea when taking into consideration her balancing nature as Goddess of the Sun and Moon. Perhaps love requires balance to exist as does all things.
Could it be that without balance within ourselves we can not know real love – the love of the universe, the love that animates our souls as the life force, the love of the Goddess. Maybe working towards balance as Aine teaches may be a necessary first step before we can claim our birthright to the highest, spiritual love of self and all life.
By Lisa on Monday, February 03, 2014
According to an article published by Candice Holdorf on elephant journal a while back, people who question pornography are sexual naysayers. Hmm... funny I think people who advocate pornography are sexual naysayers. I was with her up until the defense of porn, sexual naysayer statement. In fact, the title of the article actual made me momentarily hopeful that I wasn't yet again going to read an article laced with patriarchal sewage. Ironically, she plans to donate a percentage of upcoming book sales to an anti-trafficking charity.
Anyway, I love sex. It is perhaps the most sacred experience humanity was gifted with. Our sexuality is our humanity, our life force, our beautiful radiant soul, our connection to consciousness. And, as a slightly more awake than average human (toot, toot), I resent the idea that degrading, separatist pornography should represent my beautiful, precious, awesome, and innocent humanity.
Porn continues to fuel repression, not relieve it. It doesn't give an accurate depiction of innate (not learned) human sexuality - only continues to replay the same old tired patriarchal, repressed script of disordered desire and blatant misogyny. It gives us one version of what sex can be, not what it was really meant to be or even the way it's most soulful and healing. But thanks to our cultural standards regarding sexuality, many of us have a hard time imagining sex any other way.
Pornography not only enslaves the viewer but also perpetuates heinous victimization of real human beings by preying on the sexually abused and the economically less fortunate. It's a transient, empty experience that only helps us stay separate from each other. Which, ya know, is fine if you're not a big fan of the whole "oneness" thing. However, it's pretty hard to escape.
And lets not derail these arguments with twisted comments about moralization or judging people for how they deal with the bull shit of their lives. Life sucks, we reach out, sometimes we grab hold of the quickest feel-good thing around, we learn lessons, or we don't. We're still human and deserving of compassion. Judgment is irrelevant.
What's clear is that porn doesn't save anyone. It doesn't fix marriages or give people a ticket to leave sexual repression behind. Big Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry that eats people whole and drags human souls through offal infested pits of vapid gratification. It does cause addiction, it does ruin marriages, it does cause people to see women as less than human, it does scar the impressionable minds of children. These are indisputable facts that can not be ignored simply because someone wants to get their wank on. Whether or not we can truly blame pornography or a culture that continues to provide a demand for it is not the point. I don't care about blame. I care about humanity. It's clear that porn does more harm than anything else and should be viewed critically instead of eagerly consumed.
Question for the Dalai Lama: “What’s the most important meditation we can do now?”
Answer: “Critical thinking, followed by action. Discern what your world is. Know the plot, the scenario of this human drama. And then figure out where your talents might fit in to make a better world.”
By Lisa on Monday, September 09, 2013