Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
You are likely familiar with the term "lucid dreaming". It's when we are in a dream state and realize that we are dreaming. Lucid dreaming enables us to move and change the direction of our dream in the moment.
And we can do the same in life. Lucid living.
What if you could, in the moment, be the witness to your thoughts, emotions, reactions? What if you could be the observer to each moment of your life, pause and then let it go?
Yesterday, I was in the UPS kiosk inside my local Staples. Staples is a triggering place for me. While I love office supplies, I find this particular staff to be somewhat... unhelpful. Yes, I have baggage about Staples.
I feel a bit of pressure because I need to return the snowboarding boots ($200+) that I bought for my son because they don't fit. (DAMN) I found a new pair over the weekend (phew! but also another $200+ = DAMN). $400+ in the hole, I feel the need to return asap and bring that money back into my account.
My home printer is on the fritz (ugh), so I need to print the label out at the Staples copy machine (convenient). Problem is? I can't get it to print. I wait in line, ask for help, I am given a glossy slick to read and implement (do it on your own, lady). I am told to go outside to get my phone to load (that's not the problem).
I can feel myself getting annoyed, angry and angrier. This "convenient" stop has already taken 25 minutes of my life and IT'S NOT WORKING.
So I go outside. I breathe in the crisp air. "This is happening," I tell myself. "Just keep breathing. You are pissed. OK. That happens. What do you need?"
I needed another five more breaths. I needed to close my eyes.
Then, I went back inside. I go to a different associate for help. She helps.
More machine finagling. It works.
Now I feel a bit of tail between my legs. Slightly ashamed that I was so annoyed.
(What should I say when I reach the counter? Third time's a charm? Sorry I'm so pissed?)
I walked to the counter. Smiled. "Thank you!".
All those thoughts, the struggle, the realization, the moving forward. We make it so hard on ourselves sometimes, don't we? Everything doesn't have to get stuck along the way. We can actually return to the breath, drop out of the storyline, keep moving, keep living this fantastic life. We can do that thing that we are reminded of in yoga class - we can connect with the observer. We can witness it all and let it all go.
I left the counter and smiled to myself. I went for a walk. I didn't ruminate on what I should have done, should have said, on how I should have acted. Life is life and we are here to live it and let it go.
Stay open, people. We can do this thing!
This is a topic that I have been thinking about, embodying, and journaling/creating/doodling for some time. As with many "outlandish" topics that I dive into, I felt like I needed EVIDENCE before I share my thoughts with others. Today, I've decided to share this post as a work-in-progress. It's not perfect and neither am I. And if I practice what I preach, it's the perfect time to share and be vulnerable.
In my experience, the key to happiness, health, joy, connection, peace -- is love.
Stay with me.
I have worked in the healthcare industry since 2000. I know, I know, it's broken. We all say this. We can identify the challenges, the things we don’t like, the high costs, the fact that coverage doesn't seem to cover very much, the long wait times, the list goes on.
Today, I work in the area of health care quality. Outcomes. We look at programs and data to evaluate whether or not our interventions are making people healthier. Spoiler alert: they are not.
Early in my career, I worked at an AIDS hospice and saw first hand that the basis for improved health starts with food & shelter. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs indicates that people try to move forward to satisfy their needs, starting with food/shelter, moving towards safety and then on and on towards self-actualization. I personally think that "Safety" includes emotional safety and unconditional love is included in that line. I believe that love is foundational to our well-being and engagement in life.
It's really tough to feel physically well when you don't have a place to sleep or aren't sure when you will eat again. At the house where I worked, we saw immediate improvement in T-cell counts after a few weeks of regular meals, timely medication, and shared safe space.
The health care "industry" is finally starting to think about the other elements of human's lives that contribute to health with the new buzz around on social determinants. The irony in all of this is that, of course, we can't solve these problems from our tiny little boxes and silos that we put ourselves in.
And the big behemoth industry isn't going far enough to solve social determinants, and we need to work together across education, local government, social services and non-profits. Patience is not my number one virtue; I cannot wait for someone else to figure it all out. We can't rely on one president, one doctor, one guru, one smartie who will tell us all what to do (and then we'd better do it). I don't like to feel helpless in solving the problem.
The challenges we face in our world are all related. It doesn't stop at health care - you can see similarities across the climate crisis, racism, addiction, gun violence, the school safety issues, the corruption, the corporate greed.
The connection is the myth that we are separate from each other.
Spoiler alert: we are not separate from each other. On the contrary, we need each other. We share fears and failures. We share emotion and the need to feel love. We share humanness.
When we judge others, blame others, mock others - we dehumanize them (and ourselves). We make them separate from us in an effort to protect ourselves, when all it does is feed this story of isolation. We pick sides. We fight to be right. Separate, isolate, repeat.
We also attempt to numb our feelings, hide ourselves, and self-isolate with drugs, alcohol, work, exercise, television, scrolling FaceBook.
We keep telling ourselves stories that we are not enough. That we will feel better once we have the house, once we lose 10 pounds, once we have a husband, once we get divorced. And then, there we are. And turns out it wasn't enough.
We try to take what we can, for ourselves. We fear that if you get it, then I don't and there's never enough to go around.
(Of course, there is plenty to go around. But more on that in a different post.)
It's an inside job, Dr. Lissa Rankin says in her Ted Talk on resolving feelings of loneliness. And we have to do it together. We all have internal work to do, childhood traumas, baggage, and unresolved emotions. So it's yours to do. And it's mine to do. We all have work to do. So while it is an "inside job", it's also collective and humanizing and communal.
The primary relationship in your life is with yourself. When that relationship is in tact, when you have your own back, when you love yourself (all the parts - even those you would prefer to ignore), you will be able to share that love, compassion, and connection with those around you.
Science agrees. Do you need proof that self-love and compassion isn't just woo woo? (it's ok):
Today? Here's what you can do:
1. Decide to do the work. If you want to make a change in this world, in your own life, you must decide. Choose it.
2. Notice what comes up. The shame and the blame. Pay attention to how you judge yourself and others. (This doesn't need to turn into a blaming cycle, but a noticing and letting go cycle. Be kind to yourself. We are all there, too)
3. Anchor & Embody. Come back to yourself with gentleness. Practice compassion for your humanness. Let go of the story you tell yourself - it is only a story. Breathe. Get quiet. Connect with nature, the divine, your breath.
4. Express. Get it out. Create, speak, use your voice. Say what you are here to say. Be vulnerable with yourself and test it out with a few close to you.
5. Rest, renew, restore. Celebrate your work. This is effort and it's worth it. Notice what happens.
We have the tools we need to heal ourselves. When we feel connected to ourselves and others, we will find the well within.
The holidays can be a really stressful time. Consumerism abounds. There are holiday concerts, games, and lot's of investment - new skis, new boots, new snowpants. Kids grow inches in a season, let a lone the growth that occurs in a year. And that doesn't even include presents?!!!
This season, many of my friends have chatted about consuming less, shopping local, making hand made gifts and spending time with each other. Noticing the beauty of the season, the laughter, the being with each other.
And I find myself in moments of joy when it all feels so good and I feel blessed. And I want that feeling to course through my veins (and last all year long!!) - so I started asking myself how joy feels in my body? For me, joy these days is coming through crescent lunge with my arms lifted to the sky. I stretch upwards with a strong foundation rooting me to the earth. I feel grounded and limitless all at once.
How does JOY feel in your body?
Take a deep breath in. Let it go.
Let the corners of your mouth lift, ever so slightly.
Move your body to match. (or not)
Create in ways that make you feel spacious, luminous, radiant.
You gotta feel it to heal it.