Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.


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True love requires understanding

Image courtesy to WikimediaTrue love requires understanding. Understanding your beloved one’s pain and sorrow, joys and aspirations. What he delights in, and what he abhors. What gets her excited, and what turns her off. What contributes to his happiness, and what doesn’t.

And then take action. Because you want your loved one to be happy. You want to see her smile, relax, enjoy life.

Understanding needs love too. Without love, understanding doesn’t open your heart, nor inspire compassion. Understanding without love becomes a mechanical one plus one equals two. There is no drive to contribute, no desire to see your beloved one flourish and bloom. Understanding without love is -at most- a tool to please and satisfy.

I feel embarrassed as I hear our Dharma Teacher Terry Cortes talk about true love. I think of Valentine’s day. I bought my love a little chocolate cake in the form of a heart. It looked so sweet, so cute.

My husband stays away from gluten. He refrains eating sugar. He doesn’t snacks, only fruit and dates.

I knew all that.

Yet I insisted on giving him something that was an expression of my culture of celebration. I insisted on introducing something that was me. It had nothing to do with him. It had nothing to do with making him happy. It was about supporting my needs for inclusion and acceptance of who I am.

I realize if I want to show my love to him, I need to ask him how I can best do that. I see that if I want to celebrate our love, I need to ask him what celebration looks like to him. If I want to deepen my love, I need his help to deepen my understanding.

The love is there.

I’m sure a little more understanding will bring miracles.

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You want help to deepen your true love and understanding? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session.


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Vulnerability deepens intimacy

Image courtesy to FlickrGosh, I have such fantastic work. I can’t think of a better fit between my qualities and aspirations and what I do right now. My clients are a continuous source of inspiration and hope for me.

Today I talked with Frank. He is getting married. He came in last week, noticing that he was becoming more and more dependent on the approval of his fiancee, her taking the lead, and him complying with her wants and desires. He was losing some of the vulnerability that radiated through the early stages of dating.

We talk about the challenge in committed, intimate relationships of finding balance between autonomy and authentic self-expression on the one hand and togetherness and acceptance on the other. How we often give up on the one in favor of the other, because we just can’t figure out how we can have both at the same time.

Maybe we don’t trust that we matter enough. We cannot imagine anyone caring só much that they are willing to stay, while we pursue our dreams. We cannot imagine that someone will encourage us and stay connected. “Fly on your wings to your destination, I’ll hold you in my heart with unconditional love and acceptance. I’ll wait for you to return.” We think we have to give up on ourselves, hide certain aspects to get the love and acceptance we so long for.

My client is not alone in this. I have certainly thought that more than once. And you probably too.

Today he comes back. He seems tender. He tells me about a conversation he had with his fiancee. He is moved as he shares. He told her he wanted a relationship that was based on their vulnerability, that honored their independence and nurtured their togetherness. She was touched as she listened. She had tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. She wants that too. It is só important to her. She is grateful he brings it up. She feels hopeful that they have what it takes to venture into this unknown land of radical honesty and loving connection.

Today I celebrate that my client is my teacher. Thank you, Frank, for allowing me to witness how vulnerability, self-connection, and authentic expression shift relationships to new levels of intimacy, trust and tenderness. I feel honored working with you.

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You want to explore how you can be vulnerable, authentic and intimate with your partner? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session. I would be honored to talk with you.


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Deep listening is a present

Image courtesy to Wikimedia, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Butterfly_transparent.jpgCan listening be too slow?

I giggle. It is like saying that meditation is too slow. “Hey, can’t we meditate a little faster? I can meditate in five minutes, what you need 20 minutes for!” Or: “Can’t we admire these paintings a little faster? I can admire this Van Gogh in ten minutes, where you need 30 minutes!”

Some things are not about speed, how much you accomplish, or the results you create, or the insights you gain. Some things are just about the joy of being present. Just sitting and watching a butterfly: the splendid colors, the way it flies, the delicate balancing on a flower. And then watch it fly off again.

Listening can be like that too. Just being present with what someone is saying, feeling the tone, sensing the meaning, hearing the energy. As if you’re on the bank of a river, seeing all these thoughts, feelings, and needs float by. Calmly. Peacefully. Sometimes not so calmly. Sometimes wildly. Your friend may get scared by everything drifting by. He may be afraid the objects will grab him and drag him in the river. Harm him. He may be scared he will drown in the river.

You just bring your presence to the fear, the anguish. “I see you’re overwhelmed, caught in the grasp of your feelings and thoughts. Your needs don’t seem precious to you at all. They seem harmful. You’re afraid. You want help to maintain your calm, so you can watch your feelings and needs float by, and maybe even enjoy watching them.”

This kind of presence may be enough for your friend to calm down, and experience her feelings, thoughts, and needs as something she is having, not being.

I have found this kind of listening healing, especially when emotions run high. Giving space to them -without fixing- is a message of unconditional openness and acceptance.

I don’t consider that slow. I consider that empowering.

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You want deep listening and unconditional acceptance to explore your inner world and heal yourself? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session to see how I can help.


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Triggers tell us what’s truly important to us

Image courtesy to goodngreat.comTonight in our Nonviolent Communication Practice Group we talk about triggers. “Think of a moment these last past days when you got triggered and you think you didn’t handle it well.”

Mine is easy. Traffic. People who hang in the left lane, next to a car in the right lane, and go at or below maximum speed. Blocking my use of the full road ahead of me. Slowing me down. Making me arrive late for my nanny kids.

Last Thursday I was five minutes late. Kiran was waiting with his teacher. In the hallway. I felt sad. I want him to know how much I care about him, how important he is to me, how excited I am to see him. Being late doesn’t tell that. It might tell him he gets third on my priority list. After my plans and my goals.

David empathizes with me “You have a need for care, to contribute and support?”

“Yeah. And now I realize that if I would leave the house five minutes earlier, I would not be so stressed for time. If I would stop trying to finish all my plans, I would be calmer and more patient on the road… That is actually a need for acceptance… Accepting that I can only do so much in a day. That if I do this, I cannot do that. If I write this email, I cannot call that friend. If I cook a meal, I cannot clean the kitchen floor.

And that that is okay. I’m probably half way my life, and I realize I cannot do everything anyway. I can’t do ànd improv ànd ceramics ànd hip hop classes ànd knit my sweater ànd start restorative circles ànd expand my business ànd become a certified NVC-trainer ànd travel the world AND connect to my family and friends. Some things won’t get done by me in this life time. If I accept that, I won’t push myself to do everything last minute. I would relax and accept that what I d0 is enough.”

“Does it also have to do with impermanence?”

That’s right on the spot.

The day has now ended, our lives are shorter.

Now we look carefully: what have we done?

Noble Sangha, with all our heart,

Let us be diligent, engaging in the practice.

Let us live deeply, free from our afflictions,

aware of impermanence,

so that life does not drift away without meaning.

Yes. That’s it. Understanding that life is to be lived, not done. It’s not about making a living, but making a life. Right here, right now. Doing less, being more. Remember? The less I am attached to results, and the more I am focused on the joy of the process, the more I can celebrate the sheer fact that I am alive. And that is enough. More than enough.

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I offer coaching to help you live more deeply. Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be honored to help.


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The essence of human bravery

NioTodaijiAgyo

“The essence of warriorship, or the essence of human bravery, is refusing to give up on anyone or anything.” Chögyam Trungpa, ‘Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior’

I always thought that difficult conversations are those where I want to express scary honesty or expect to hear a message of wrongness.

I never realized that difficult conversations include those where someone expresses a view of the world, themselves or others that seems very different from what I hold to be true.

Last week I saw a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. I knew she was going through a rough time, and imagined she would like to be greeted with some kindness. I give her a hug and express my care for her well-being. She starts talking about all the suffering and fear in her life.

I feel overwhelmed. I didn’t intend to talk about how you have to protect yourself against others. That’s not my experience. I have found most people friendly, willing to help, and open for connection.

I struggle how to handle her truth and honor my experience at the same time.

Then I remember something I learned in the Mediate Your Life retreat. When you mediate conflict, make sure your needs are heard and included too. Empathize with the other, reflect back what she says, and share how that lands for you. Express what you want and ask what she heard you say. Alternate this cycle of expression, reflection, expression, reflection till you both feel you are heard. That’s the moment when you can brainstorm how to support everyone’s needs.

So I practice mediating my own conflict. I listen, and reflect back her despair that her situation and suffering won’t change. I ask if this is what she tries to tell me. It is. Then I tell her that I feel confused and want clarity what she is asking of me by telling this: maybe she wants understanding, support, to be heard? She reflects me back, and tells me that she wants acceptance. She is afraid I will reject her, because she shared her vulnerability and her uncensored enemy images. I hear her need for acceptance. I want acceptance too, for my limited capacity to listen to her suffering and ability to help her. I want support and time to process what I heard.

Now that we both have a sense we are understood, we brainstorm together what we can do or say in this moment that would nurture all our needs.

That is actually pretty simple. She wants to hear me say that I see and accept her pain and despair, and that I am open to future connection. That is piece of cake. I’m happy to say that, because it is true.

And you know what? Because I included my needs, I look forward to our next connection as a beautiful opportunity to practice human bravery.

_____

You want to learn to include your needs in difficult conversations? Contact me 512-589-0482.


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I am afraid to die

WavesI was born and raised in a very loving, forgiving protestant religion. I was always sure that God was loving and loved all of us, including my quarreling sister. I didn’t understand how He could love both me and her at the same time, and I was absolute certain that She did. We humans are limited by our aversions and attractions, God was beyond that. God was abundant Love, powerful and almighty.

I also was sure that I would get in heaven. Not because of my personal achievements or character, but because God was boundless Love. I could not imagine She would turn anyone away at Heaven’s door. He was too loving for that.

Now I study Thich Nhat Hanh teaching’s on impermanence and interbeing. There is no death, no birth, just the stream of life. As long as we identify with the wave, we get upset with it’s disappearance. As soon as we see that the wave has been water all along, there is no gain and no loss. Just an opportunity to appreciate this unique manifestation of life. Nothing comes, nothing goes, everything transforms.

It hasn’t really helped.

Trouble began when I was 12. I realized Heaven was eternal. I imagined living forever and forever and forever. And forever. And forever. And I completely spooked out. That seemed like being stuck in a nightmare covered in icing!

Even writing it down 1:00 am in the morning, I feel scared. What if you get as terrified as me? What if you cannot calm yourself down when I panic? What if there is no way out of this stuckness?

I have no solution to my fear. Maybe there is none. Maybe I need to accept this fear as part of our human existence. Maybe I can just allow myself to be penetrated by it, and open my tender heart a little bit more. We all stand to lose everything and everyone that is dear and precious to us, including ourselves.

I don’t know. I just hope to stand tall when my time comes. I hope I’ll face my own death with love, openness and tenderness. Maybe that is the only thing I am really striving for.

We never know how high we are,

Till we are called to rise;

And then, if we are true to plan,

Our statures touch the skies

Emily Dickinson

This post is in honor of my former colleague and first introduction to Zen Buddhism, Karolijn de Heer. May she rest in peace.


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Creating results in little steps

Courtesy to www.clker.comCleaning has something healing to it. Not just the cleansing part, nor the mind-quietening impact. It is also the sheer delight of creating results. The stove is dirty, you clean it, and hup, it shines again. There is instant success.

Today I cleaned the bathroom. I hadn’t done that in a while, and it was certainly ready for a thorough clean-up. I feel overwhelmed. It is so much work. I decide to split up the chore in four parts, and work on other things in between. After the third part I start to feel frustrated. It is not only so much work, I can’t get everything done either, without giving up my other goals for the day.

When I start with the fourth part I decide to clean certain parts, and not others. Just the shower floor, the railing and the bottom row of tiles. I’ll clean the rest of the tiles at another time.

I relax. This is very doable. I can do this with joy. And success.

Setting goals is not only about getting results. It is also about how we get there. We want to get there in a way that is sustainable. If we deplete ourselves by exertion, we’ll never create what we want. We need time to replenish.

Sometimes we want to plan in-between results on our way to the top. We don’t need to get there in one jump. We might have more joy getting there, if we take one step. Then rest. Then another step. Rest. Another step. Till we get to the top.

This is not only true for cleaning. This is also true for relationships and habits. Instead of wanting to see our relationships and habits change all at once, we can set ourselves in-between goals. And then think of one step we can take in this moment to get to where we want to be. Maybe sitting meditation, even for just five minutes. Or calling one potential client. Or eating two chocolates and one apple, instead of three chocolates. And then rest. We can do more tomorrow. Now it is time to celebrate the one step we took. On our way to the top.

And if we never get there? At least we have enjoyed the journey!

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You want help dividing your big project in doable steps? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be excited to help.