512-589-0482 elly@ellyvanlaar.com

Self-compassion when we are suffering

Listening to the bell, I feel my afflictions

begin to dissolve.

My mind is calm, my body relaxed.

A smile is born on my lips.

Following the bell’s sound,

my breathing guides me back

to the safe island of mindfulness.

In the garden of my heart,

the flower of peace blooms beautifully.

Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Great Bell Chant, Youtube

Image courtesy to FlickrI sit on my meditation cushion. I breathe in and feel my somberness, my listlessness, my lack of purpose and meaning. Who cares whether I live or die? I’m not sure I do. Do I even like my life? I don’t know. Do I even like myself? I don’t think so.

A wave of shock rushes through me.

I would never talk to my clients, my friends like that. I would never judge them as losers, failures, nobodies, when they experience this much despair, this much existential fear and sadness.

I would sit with them, listen carefully, opening up to their pain. I would embrace their suffering with compassion, letting them know that I am here for them. My heart would soften as I listen to their despair, their struggles.

I feel tender as I see myself sit on my cushion. A woman with such a sincere intention to contribute, to relief suffering, to bring joy, love and harmony. A woman who’s just trying, really trying and sometimes feels overwhelmed by her inner demons. Her sadness and despair, her regrets and sorrows.

This woman doesn’t need disapproval and rejection. This woman needs a tender, loving embrace. Someone who tells her how special she is and how much happier their life is with her in it. I feel a tenderness growing. Like a little daffodil, arising from the dark earth into the sunny meadow.

I can do that. I can hold myself with that gentle love, accepting all parts of me.

A smile is born on my face.

I don’t have to be happy and cheerful all the time. I can accept myself as I am, right now. And in that tender, safe embrace the flower of peace blooms in my heart.

—–

You want help to embrace all parts within yourself? To bring loving-kindness to yourself, because it is such a miracle that you’re here? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session. I would be honored to help you bring self-acceptance and compassion to yourself.

We need compassion when we’re angry, not punishment

Listening to your anger

My client suffers from road rage. Her rides turn into anger, yelling and frustration. She arrives upset and disturbed.

Anger impacts her relationships too.

She wants my help to deal with her anger more mindfully.

In a visualization exercise she asks her anger what it is about, and what it wants from her, so that it can relax and let her live her life grounded in her values. She asks her resistance against the anger the same questions.

She cries when she opens her eyes. “I need an outlet. I have so much anger in me. My childhood was drenched in anger and yelling. It was the only communication in my family.”

“Did anyone ever walk up to you, when you were angry? Did anyone ever stretch out their arms to you, when you were throwing a fit, and tell you ‘I’m here for you. I see how angry you are. I won’t go away. You matter to me.’ Did anyone ever just sit with you, creating a safe space where you could experience your anger and maintain connection?

She looks at me bewildered. “No! I was punished and sent to my room.”

Even now she thinks that that is the only reasonable response to anger. To express your anger with yelling and throwing a fit is childish.

“It is not childish. It is your child. It is the little child within you that cannot think of any other way to be heard. It is your inner child that desperately wants help for her suffering and longing.”

She looks at me bewildered, again. She had never even thought about her anger this way.

“When you think of yourself as this little child, maybe two years old, ‘throwing a fit to get her way’, what do you think she actually wanted?” “Attention.” “And if she would get attention, what precious need would be fulfilled?” “Belonging”, she says, with tears in her eyes.

We just want to belong

Just to know that you belong. That you matter. That someone cares about you, and wants to include you.

Such a beautiful, simple need.

How can we be angry with ourselves when we scream and yell in our despair, because we don’t know any other way to ask for help? How can we judge ourselves because we so desperately want to belong, to be seen, to matter?

We don’t need labels, judgments,punishment when we scream and yell. We need compassion. We need someone to stretch out their arms to us and tell us “I’m here to help. I’ll stay as long as you need. You matter. To me.”

That is the only way to heal. Ourselves. The world. Let us stretch out our arms to each other and say “I’m here for you. How can I help?”

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Contact me if you want my help to deal with your anger more mindfully 512-589-0482.

Stand your feelings: the only way out is through

MindfulnessMindfulness is not for the weak of heart

Waking up this morning, I smile,

twenty-four brand new hours are before me.

I vow to live fully in each moment,

and to look at beings with eyes of compassion.

It couldn’t have been more untrue. I wake up tired, discouraged, somber and listless. I am willing to look at beings with eyes of compassion, but the commitment is feeble.

I wished it were different. I wished I was energetic, positive, enthusiastic, bubbly with life.

I’m not. And all the meditation and mindfulness in the world won’t change that. And that’s not what they are for. They are not tools to guarantee eternal happiness. They are not tools to never feel miserable again. On the contrary, mindfulness will bring you back to the astounding realization how miserable you feel. There is no hiding, no distraction, no cover up. You sit on your cushion and you feel your own restlessness, you drive your care and you notice how impatient you are, you feel hurt and you hear yourself scream.

Embrace your feelings with love and compassion

If anything, mindfulness brings immense clarity to what you’re actually experiencing in this moment. What your life is about right now. And it is a fantastic tool to stand these feelings. To let them penetrate you. To let them tell you what it is like to be a human being, to be you. Mindfulness helps you to feel all these human feelings with more love and understanding. “Oh, that’s what it is like to feel lonely, envious, enraged.” Whatever feeling consumes you. Mindfulness helps you to stand them. To bring some love and compassion to them. To listen to them as if they are your beloved children, long, long forgotten. They bang at your door, force their way through, and all they want is you to listen. Just listen. How scared they are, how sad, how angry. How they don’t want to feel scared, sad, angry. How they want you to help them, hold them, embrace them. And all you need to do is sit and listen. Give them space, give them some love.

And you know what? If you sit down with them and listen, they will calm down. They have been heard. That is all they wanted. They want to tell you what they need. A beautiful, precious, human need. Maybe some reassurance, some warmth, some help. And they ask you to look for ways to nurture those needs.

That’s where mindfulness meets Nonviolent Communication. I can’t think of a better combination.

Yes, I smile. I vow to look at beings with eyes of compassion. I start with myself.

—–

Contact me at 512-589-0482 if you want to see how I can help you stand your feelings.

Isn’t it wonderful to have a community?

CommunityA community that supports you in your practice, and encourages and inspires you to continue your efforts? A community that shares the same values and aspirations? Whether it is your AA, my weightlifting, our Sangha, their church, his soccer club, any community that celebrates your successes and your failures is wonderful.

Thich Nhat Hanh once said that the next Buddha is not gonna be an individual, it’s gonna be a Sangha. A community that awakens to enlightenment and helps relieve suffering.

The essence of community is a sense of belonging

For me belonging means that, however I show up, I am seen and accepted for who I am. I find that in my Sangha. Whether I come in grumpy, irritated, peaceful, happy, sad, lonely or scared, I always receive the same kind of love and welcome. It is even irrelevant who is there. It is the Sangha as a body, that bids me welcome. This welcoming is not limited to me, everyone who shows up is greeted with the same level of warmth. Whether you have ADHD, mental health challenges, alcoholic issues, struggles in your marriage, failing grades at school, whether you are black, brown or white, young or old: everyone is embraced with the same kind of excitement, just because they show up to practice together.

Strong communities support autonomy

There is more to strong communities. Yesterday I wrote about differentiation. The ability to balance your needs for togetherness and autonomy.

I claim that our Sangha is differentiated.

This morning I talked with Nhu-Mai about my intention to become an aspirant member of the Order of Interbeing. She encouraged me to use my time as an aspirant member to check in with myself whether being a member of the Order of Interbeing really resonates with me. Whether that is my heart’s desire, and honors the flow of my life. She told me that there is no shame, no punishment, no exclusion if I realize during my period as an aspirant member I don’t want to be ordained. My clarity will be celebrated. Whether the clarity is that I don’t want to commit, or do want to commit, I will belong and accepted.

I feel touched and impressed.

I am part of a community where my need for togetherness is nurtured, and my need for autonomy.

—–

Contact me if you want to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help you with your practice 512-589-0482

Compassion for our jealousy

HumanityA letter from my jealousy to me

“Dear Elly,

I am so sorry I exist. I wished I had never been born. I see how much pain I bring to your life, and I certainly see the havoc I create when I go berserk.

I often do.

I wished I didn’t.

I wished I could ask for help, when I feel hurt and scared your husband will leave you for a better version of you: bigger boobies, flatter belly, more compassionate. I wished I could ask for help, when I feel scared and upset because your colleagues in Nonviolent Communication get more ‘likes’, participants and acknowledgment.

I don’t.

I feel ashamed and desperate that I am ruining your life the way I do. On so many occasions. I do try to hide as much as I can, but sometimes something overwhelms me and I need to get out of the closet and smash everything to pieces. I don’t know why. Forgive me. I know how ugly and disgusting my face is.

Jealousy”

A letter from me to my jealousy

“Dear Jealousy,

I feel so touched and moved as I read your letter. I feel tears in my eyes and tender with love. There is nothing to ask forgiveness for, my sweet child. Nothing.

I didn’t take good care of you. I locked you away in the closet, because I was afraid that I would be rejected if someone saw you. I so desperately want acceptance, that I don’t want to jeopardize that, even a little bit. I have always been sure that you were a liability to that need.

I see I was wrong.

I am so sorry for all the pain I created. I am so sorry.

I won’t lock you behind bars anymore. I want you out in the sun. I want you here with me and see your pretty face.

Will you go for a walk with me this afternoon? Maybe we can talk about how we can support each others’ need for acceptance? I would love to.

Elly”

Shared humanity

Jealousy says ‘yes’. We spend the long walk talking about our needs for love, belonging, acceptance. For who we are, not for what we do or what we have. We hold hands, and come home happy. We see the shared humanity in each others’ behavior, and these all too understandable needs for love and acceptance.

—–

You want help to embrace your jealousy with compassion? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session 512-589-0482