Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.


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A car driver shatters my enemy image

My husband and I are on our daily walk around the block. We do that twice a day, to connect, listen, and hold hands. It’s always the same circuit, more or less 1.5 miles long. It’s drizzling, so I’m extra worried and aware that cars might not be as attentive as I wish.

And heck, for sure: an SUV backs out of the driveway, straight into us. Being alert, we’re already on the lawn of the opposite house by the time it would have hit us.

I feel annoyed. Mainly scared, but it shows up as annoyance. As a committed commuter cyclist, I have had my fair share of almost being hit by cars who don’t look around enough. For the last three years, at least once a month, I have to jump the curb, swivel around, or do an emergency break to avoid being run over.

I confess, I have thoughts of breaking car windows to teach this damn driver a lesson.

Thank God I don’t.

Once the car is out on the street, the driver rolls down the window. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…” I see a fifty plus woman with tears in her eyes. “I’m really distracted, … my mom is dying … I’m off to say goodbye to her …”

She stops the car and sits there quietly, I assume to calm herself, before she drives off.

I feel shocked. And embarrassed. Never in the world would I have expected that.

My enemy image of car drivers shatters in a thousand pieces.

I remember Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice to always ask “Are you sure?”. He invites us to write this question down and put it somewhere where we will see it: a bathroom mirror, the fridge, our calendar. And live by it.

As I regret my quick jump to the conclusion that she was inconsiderate of my need for safety, I stutter “I am so sorry for you.”

She drives off. I ask my husband to confirm which house she came from, and I make a promise to myself to drop off a condolence note.

I go home and write the note.

And a sticky note “Are you sure?”.

It’s up on my bathroom mirror to remind me to not jump to conclusions about someone’s intentions and character.

How does this land for you? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.


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Running around, looking for my Buddha nature

I’m up early. Before the crack of dawn. I love it. I feel energized and excited about a new day, about being alive and having the opportunity to contribute, learn, and receive.

I get dressed and make my tea. Green tea. Yum.

Then I hear the alarm on my phone go off. First softly, then loudly. I rush toward the sound, I don’t want my husband to wake up. It gets louder, the closer I get to the bathroom.

As soon as I think I am getting close, the sound fades. Shoot! So where is it? I don’t want it to go off next to his ear. I feel relieved to hear it again, in the kitchen. That makes sense, it must be on the counter, where I made my tea.

And again, as soon as I think I am close, the sound subsides. No! My husband worked late last night and needs his sleep. Where is my phone?!

The sound increases, in the dining room. I look around, more frantic now. Nothing to be found nowhere.

Then it dawns on me. My cell phone has been in my pocket the whole time.

My alarm sounds like ocean waves rolling on the beach: softer and louder with each wave coming in and fading away. The precious thing I was looking for, was right there in my jeans all the time.

It made me think of a story Pema Chodron tells in “When Things Fall Apart”. It’s about a woman who’s sent out into the world with only a coat. She ends up destitute, with no means to support even her basic needs for survival. She complains about her poverty. Her coat goes to shreds, and in the hem she finds diamonds. Plenty enough to sell and support her.

That woman is me, running around, looking for my Buddha nature, my Christ essence, my basic goodness. All the while, I’m stuck in my anger, fear, jealousy, and judge myself for having these feelings.

I hope there comes a moment where I realize that I had Buddha nature all along, buried in my hardened heart. The place where I stop, connect, and celebrate my innate compassionate nature. Where I acknowledge my love, care and gratitude as “enough conditions to be happy”. Where I see my happiness and suffering as expressions of our shared humanity.

Our shared humanity with people I like, and people I don’t like. People who think and vote like me, and people who do the opposite. People whose words and actions are in alignment with my values, and people who speak and act in ways that conflict with my dreams for our world.

I imagine that when I am grounded in my own goodness, I can offer my insight to help others see theirs. To help them pause, take a breath, and smile at life.

I think that thàt is the best gift I can give to others.


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Sitting on a meditation cushion is NOT about achieving peace and calmness

“The path of the spiritual warrior is to have the courage to face life.” Geshe Lama Phuntsho talks to a visitor at the Sand Mandala Dissolution Ceremony at City Hall Austin, April 17.

“We have six consciousness: ear, eye, nose, tongue, touch, and mind. Our suffering comes from our desire to see beautiful views, hear beautiful sounds, feel something pleasant, taste something yummy, and have enjoyable thoughts and feelings. We crave what we like, and resist what we don’t. That is the source of suffering. The spiritual warrior accepts all that is, and learns to see reality for what it truly is, without distortion and illusion.”

Image courtesy of Mayusanctuary.comDid you ever sit on your meditation cushion, yearning for a sense of peace and quiet of mind? Did you ever get frustrated, self-critical, or hopeless, because your mind was racing with thoughts you didn’t want, you had the urge to get up, you got antsy, felt uncomfortable? “This is not what meditation is about! Meditation is about calming yourself, having these alpha and theta waves get stronger, being still! This meditation stuff is not for me. Meditation just doesn’t work!!!” And there you go, ready to give up on sitting on your cushion.

Wake-up, beloved friend! Meditation and mindfulness are not about trying to be this smiley, peaceful Buddha. Mindfulness is about having the guts to acknowledge all the places where we are stuck, all the places we feel hurt, and all the places where we want revenge, slash out, hide, disappear, disconnect, possess, hold on to, and be reassured that everything will be okay. Mindfulness is about opening up to what is true for you in each moment, engage with your very own, personal experience, accept that that’s your reality, and embrace it with care and compassion. That is what it means to be alive, to be a full human being, and to walk around on our precious Earth in your one wild and precious life. Your feelings, thoughts, sensations might not change on your meditation cushion, AND your compassionate and courageous heart can grow in the experience!

Isn’t that what we all want?


You want help to embrace your experience on your cushion with compassion? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a free discovery session to see if and how I can help you.


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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


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May we all write magnificent stories

Leaf on a riverI joined a virtual writers community

884 Members. Bloggers who encourage, inspire and help each other get their books published.

I read that you should join a writers community if you want to have your book published.

And I do!

I want hundreds of people standing in line, waiting to get my book autographed. I want the phone ringing like crazy with publishers dying to publish my book. I want to be the most wanted guest in any important talk show.

You get it? I want to be famous, meaningful and influential.

So I joined a community, as suggested.

I now have 884 co-authors who will applaud me, cherish me, and promote my work.

884 Authors who want the favors returned

Competitors who want to sell their stuff to the same audience. An audience who can only read so much. One book at a time. Their book.

Scarcity

I feel scared. There is not gonna be enough fish in this ocean. Someone is gonna starve. Me.

This whole writing ambition triggers my sense of scarcity. I have been repeating “I am enough. I do enough. I have enough”, over and over again.  At least a couple of minutes a day. I loved singing it.

Now I feel how I don’t believe it is true. How my system reacts “No, you don’t. You can certainly pretend you are enough, but you most certainly don’t do enough. Let alone have enough. Don’t fool yourself! Go for a walk in the woods, and feel happy and contained. But remember: once you’re home, you’ll crash with two feet on the ground and face up to reality: there is not enough for everyone.”

My thoughts float like a leaf on the river

Steven Hayes and Spencer Smith write about having your thoughts, not being them (Get Out of Your Head & Into Your Life, 2005). Creating a little space between your thought and your identity. No attachment to having  them, or not having them. Just seeing them as they pop up in your head.

I can do that. I can watch the thoughts of scarcity drift by, like leaves on a river. I don’t need to jump on the leaf, nor do I need to push it away.

I can just watch the thought. And see the beauty of it. It’s monstrous, consuming presence. How unique! Fascinating. I am a tornado chaser of thoughts. I am so excited to watch it, that I don’t even think of running away from it. Bring it on, baby!

Nothing to be scared of. Nothing to resist. Just a thought. Rising and floating on a river. It is a thought, not me.

Commitment to my dreams

In this non-fighting that arises, I experience space and freedom to pursue my dream and applaud others do the same.

I am happy I joined this group of fellow-travelers. I am ready to cherish, inspire and encourage them. May we all write magnificent stories. For magnificent readers.

—–

You want help observing your feelings and thoughts, not being them? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session. 512-589-0482 


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Self-compassion, day 9: Stand your feelings

Smile at Fear, Pema ChodronI wake up and I feel heavy with fear. Literally heavy. It seems almost impossible to move this heavy weight out of bed.

I remember Pema Chodrön‘s invitation to lean into heavy feelings, to lean into the sharp points, and feel the groundlessness of our existence.

This seems a perfect moment to accept the invitation and lean into my fear.

I breathe in, and bring my attention to this dread, this apprehension, this fear. I let it cycle through me, and scrupulously observe it’s different aspects.

It turns into terror, then blind panic, then an overwhelming blackness and feverish nightmare. It grasps me, chokes me, I can’t wake up from it. I sweat and tremble.

Which idiot ever thought this was a good practice? Which imbecile ever thought that leaning into your fear was a good idea? Pema Chödron probably never experienced such consuming feelings. Never experienced the certainty of going crazy and lose your mind. Like forever. Like really forever being stuck in that nightmare.

I feel my breath go faster. I feel my body tighten. I am noticing I am bringing my attention to my breath. To my body. To my feelings. I feel into my experience. It doesn’t get much more comfortable, ànd it stabilizes. I’m getting calmer, more solid.

I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know how it’s happening. But after five minutes I get up. I feel light, relax, open. I made it. Leaning into your feelings might be a good idea after all.

If you want my help to deepen your self-compassion, healing and integration, contact me for a complimentary, discovery session.


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Self-Compassion, day 1: I’m doing the best I can

Wangari Maathai shares a beautiful story about a hummingbird and the forest. The forest is on fire and all the animals flee away, terrified of the fire and immobilized by fear of what will happen to their sacred home.

The hummingbird flies off too. To the lake. He picks up one drop and flies back to the forest and drops it on the fire. Then he flies back to the lake as fast as he can and picks up another drop. And another. And another.

All the animals watch him and ask: “Why are you doing this? It’s not gonna help? Your beak is too small, the fire too big, and your wings too slow.” The hummingbird pauses a second, then replies “I’m doing the best I can.”

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with our situation, the situation of our world. We see all the suffering, within ourselves, in other people, nearby, far away. The task is too heavy, the stakes too high. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now, but whatever we have to offer is nothing compared to the grief and suffering. There is too much to do, and we stand to lose it all. The situation seems overwhelming, and we get paralyzed.

Those are the moments that we can stop. We stop to appreciate everything we are doing. Every thought we create, every word we speak, every step we take. We appreciate how we contribute to more abundance in the world, more prosperity, more security, more love, connection, peace, joy, and harmony. We acknowledge how our efforts bring more loving-kindness, compassion, support and understanding into the world. We appreciate how we work to sustain ourselves, our loved ones, and those we don’t know yet. We might not create the results we want. But, we’re doing the best we can.

And that’s enough.


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Appreciation in 4 steps

There is a tender beauty in expressing appreciation. There is something precious in sharing how someone’s actions enriched your life. A little line of connection between two people on this earth, who care enough about each other to find joy in supporting each other.

Even if you only say “thank you”, you water the seeds of joy, love and trust within yourself. Appreciation reinforces awareness of everything you have and everything you receive that is positive, pure and good.

No matter how grim your circumstances seem, how dark your future, how gloomy your past, appreciation highlights the moments of joy, love and harmony that you do have.

My friend suggested four steps of appreciation. Three to express to your friend, partner, parent, sibling, neighbor. One to express to yourself.

1. Observations

You start with a specific observation of what the other person did. Simply, as if you are a fly on the wall who recorded the event with a camera. The less interpretations, evaluations, judgments, the easier it is for the other person to know what you are talking about.

2. Feelings

Then you share how you felt when you observed what happened. Maybe you felt happy, touched, relieved, proud, tender, joyful? You can use your physical experience to locate and connect to your feelings.

3. Needs

Then you share how the action of the other person nurtured a need in you. Needs are universal throughout space and time. All feelings point to universal, human needs we all share. Maybe your friend supported your need for support, acceptance, understanding, compassion? Sometimes sharing your needs feels a little vulnerable, because we own up to what is important to us. We are a little bit more seen than before, a little bit more naked.

4. Your contribution to the event

You end with acknowledging the qualities you brought to the table to invite this experience in your life. You appreciate your consciousness and choices that made this possible. Maybe you were courageous enough to ask for support. Maybe you are grateful enough to notice the unfolding leaves on the tree. Maybe you are helpful enough to support your friend in need. There is always something in you that made this experience possible.

You’ll notice a big shift in your experience of life, if you practice these four appreciation steps twice a day for one month. Start today. Life is too short to postpone what’s important.


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A cry a day keeps the doctor away

A friend of my teacher Kit Miller once asked her “Did you cry today?”, and upon Kit’s surprised “No.” “Well, you should. Crying once a day is good for you.

A sort of variance of “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

I agree with Kit’s friend. Every time I call Silent unity, I cry. Whether I call in with a sense of calm and peace, or a sense of anxiety and fear, I cry during every phone call.

It is refreshing, releasing, relieving. I call them, they pray for my abundance, prosperity, they tell me that all good comes from God, through Go. They reassure me that He will show us ways -both known and unknown- to make enough money to keep the house. And all this time I cry.

I love it. A safe haven to let go off my anxiety, my worries, my tiredness. No questions asked. They describe the picture of what I want so much, affirming I have everything I need and that God provides for us. And I can rest in that trust and redirect my energies to that which is positive and within my circle of influence.

The first thing I do, is ask God to take away my negative thoughts. This is new for me. Usually I empathize with my negative thoughts. I connect to the feelings that come up with these thoughts. I explore the universal, human needs underlying these feelings. I follow Pema Chodron‘s advice to lean into this experience. To use this experience to expand my compassionate understanding of what it’s like to be human.

Not these days. These days I ask God to take away my negative thinking, my looping, habitual, reiterative thoughts of scarcity, lack, not enough. And I happily have energy to do what needs to be done. Creating the conditions my husband and I need to be able to concentrate on generating income. Joy, love and harmony. My mom’s motto: Rust, reinheid en regelmaat. (rest, cleanness, and regularity).

So far, I am successful. My husband is chunking along on a deal that will generate our abundance and prosperity. I am expanding my web presence, so I’m easier find to by potential clients. We’re eating well, sleeping peacefully, exercising enough. We’re in it for the long run. This is not a sprint, it is a marathon. We’re prepared.

Crying certainly cleans up the inner space to be ready and run.


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Surrender to love

Surrender to love

Surrender to love

Dear Child,

I am very proud of you. I see how you’re finding ways to deal with your fear and thoughts of scarcity. I am very happy you found Silent Unity. I understand that you like their affirmative prayer. I can imagine how relieved you feel every time you hear them say that abundance and prosperity are yours. I know that God opens ways for you to earn the money you need to keep the house.

Trust your intention and your gut instincts. Those are God’s way of talking to you, showing you your next step.

I feel relieved that you asked the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Rafael and Uriel to guard the four sides of your home and keep you safe. I see how strong and solid they stand. Unwavering in cold and storm. Shining and radiant, powerful. They will keep all harm away from your door.

Don’t forget to pray till God. He is the source of all life, all love, all light. She will provide for you in all the ways you need.

All you need to do is open your heart. Let love and faith and trust grow in you and make you strong. Support your husband the best way you can. Nurture him, cherish him, embrace him. Make sure he gets enough sleep and food to generate the income you need.

Surrender to love. Surrender to the power within you to create what you want. A sanctuary for all life. A warm welcome for all creatures on earth. Your friends, your family, the friends-you-haven’t-met. Your home is a safe haven for the mice who chose your home as theirs. The scorpions, lizards, ants, spiders. You ferociously protect them. Against the water of the shower, the cleaning cloth, the vacuum cleaner. You are the protector of the trees and plants around the house. This home, this land is not just yours. It is the land and home of all living beings.

This is a sacred home. You’ll keep it, my beloved child.