Category Archives: Habits

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I don’t know how to “live a life of dreams while also staying grounded.” I am trying to figure it out, how to surrender myself to the whims of my creativity but still manage to get the laundry done. I’m still not there, that magic “there” I’m so sure exists if I keep heading true north to the land of balance and joy. I seem to either be completely wild or totally frozen, too loose or too tight, can’t find the middle ground, the center of the path where I can plant both my feet solid on the earth while I open my heart to the sky.

2. Truth: I keep making the same mistakes. Even though particular habits of mine clearly don’t work, aren’t bringing the results I hope for, they are habits old and deep, and as such, they are sticky and stubborn. I am comforted by my awareness of these discursive patterns, grateful that I am no longer blind to them, but still frustrated by my inability to stop myself, to make a change.

3. Truth: The most important thing I can do is relax, be gentle with myself. It won’t do any good to try threats or assign blame or smash myself to bits. There’s no bribe, no trick, no ultimatum that will work. There’s no mysterious plan or secret technique or complicated method that I can practice or purchase. I simply have to surrender, melt into this moment, let go.

The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground. ~Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

One wish: That the places where we feel stuck will start to loosen up, that we will begin to know true freedom, and that the process will be as simple as taking in a deep breath and then letting it out.

*sigh*

Wishcasting Wednesday

from Jamie's post

What do you wish to rise above?

Blocking my feelings. Running away, refusing, numbing, avoiding, dismissing and denying the truth of how I feel, my real experience.

Rejecting my truth. Being stuck in old habits of trusting others over myself, looking to them for validation, searching for external answers, methods, strategies, techniques, permission, love, and approval. Resisting my wholeness, my worth. Denying the path, the experience, the practice, the purpose, the calling. Stubbornly walking in the exact opposite direction of true north, refusing to see or accept myself as I really am.

Self-hate. The petty, hateful, critical voice and behavior of ego. The smashing myself to bits.

Attachment. Clinging, resisting, practicing too tight, collapsing into grief, resisting the truth of impermanence, rushing after, reaching for, and grasping at what I want rather than being with what is.

Hope and fear. Both keep me from being fully in the present, which is the only place I can relax, be content, find joy–be fully alive and awake. If I am afraid, I am not in the present but rather am rejecting it, and if I am hoping, I’m reaching for some other time, some other circumstance, rather than connecting to reality.

Judgement and aggression. Inability to forgive, to let go, to relax. Attraction and aversion rather than acceptance. Desire for vengeance, retribution, justice, and punishment.

Discursive thinking and habitual patterns. Obsession with and attachment to things that no longer serve me. Things sticky, stuck, deeply rooted, old, moldy and musty, rotten and wrecked.

Ego. Dissolving this is most likely the key to rising above everything else.

Three Truths and One Wish

Paradigm: A conceptual model that is used…to understand complex phenomena. A paradigm includes assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that determine how something is understood. New paradigms develop when observations cannot be explained by current assumptions and beliefs, (source).

I am undergoing a paradigm shift. It is difficult, scary, and slow, but necessary. As I “live into” this change, there are some things I am discovering, finding to be true.

1. Truth: Paradigm shifts usually don’t happen quickly. At the very least, they probably won’t happen as fast as you’d like. For most of us, it’s not like flipping a light switch. We have to ease into it, take it slow, give it time and space, stop and start, over and over, again and again, take a few do-overs, wait almost to the point of boredom or giving up–because the full shift doesn’t happen all at once.

2. Truth: Your intellectual understanding of the new paradigm will happen before you are able to fully embody it. You know, but find yourself still acting in those old ways. You move through your habitual patterns and ways of being, watching them with a new awareness, but still stuck in them. It’s tempting in this in-between to think it would be easier to go back to ignorance, to wish for that blindness, to see it as a sort of bliss, but there’s nothing there for you anymore. Once you see a new way, a better, more sane way, you can’t unsee it.

3. Truth: “Love is always in the room with you.” You’ve got this. It’s so certain, it’s as if it’s already happened. You don’t need to be afraid of freaking out or falling apart. The things you are afraid of either won’t happen or won’t be nearly as bad as you’d imagined. You can soften, surrender, let go, relax. Allow yourself stillness, silence, solitude, and space. Shine your light, sink into and manifest your truest self, embody supreme confidence.

One wish: If you want to shift your paradigm, may it go quickly and without obstacle. If you are lost in a fog of confusion, about yourself and the world, or in the midst of change, may you awaken to the light of your true nature. May you know your basic goodness, your innate wisdom and compassion and strength. May we all soften and relax and maintain good cheer, no matter where we are on our path.

Day of Rest

Today I’ve been contemplating practice, as Sunday, my day of rest, begins with me moving through my whole set, ending around noon. As I have mentioned before, my primary practices are:

  1. Word (reading and writing them)
  2. Meditation (shamata style)
  3. Yoga (asana, typically hatha style)
  4. Dog (hanging out with them in nature, talking a walk or hike being one of the main ways this is accomplished)

This morning started with half a cup of coffee and half an hour of writing.

Scribble

Then, Eric and I took the dogs on a long walk.

After that, I went to my Sunday morning yoga class.

Yoga Feet

And finally, I went to the Shambhala Meditation Center and spent an hour in both sitting and walking meditation, ending with a series of chants.


When Eric and I were getting ready to take the dogs on a walk this morning, he was brushing their teeth. This was a difficult habit for us to form. There were probably 2-4 years of real effort towards getting it to stick. One or the both of us would try and do pretty well for about two weeks, then months would pass before it would happen again. And it’s not like the boys mind, in fact, they love the taste of the paste so much, they beg for it when we are in the bathroom with them. We knew it was important, and we love our dogs and want to do what’s best for them, but it still was a struggle to do what we needed to do on a regular basis.

For the past few months, Eric has managed to brush the boys’ teeth every day. It’s been long enough that I think it’s safe to say it has been habituated. He explained this morning that he thinks what made the difference was doing it in the morning right before a walk. Something about trying to do it at night was too much of a struggle–he’d be too tired or lazy, or he’d just forget.

I told him the same thing had happened to me with my meditation practice. Even though it was something I wanted, knew the benefits, when I was trying to fit it into my evening routine, it was just too hard to do it–I’d be too tired or lazy, or I’d just forget. We get up at 4:30 am every morning, so thinking I could go strong all day and then manage to get myself on the cushion after 6 pm was like “a normal person trying to meditate at midnight,” Eric pointed out.

But it was hard to think about adding another thing to my morning routine. Even though I get up so early, I have to get a lot done before getting to work: feed the dogs, write for half an hour, check my email, either walk the dogs or do yoga for 1.5 hours, shower or pack a gym bag and go workout, and make a lunch. But as I struggled with trying to meditate in the evening, I started to notice that there was time in the morning, that there were things I could do the night before, like packing my gym bag, or do less of, like reading all my emails, that would allow me to fit my practice in. So, I did. And it’s worked. I feel much better starting my day that way.

So what I’ve been thinking about today is that even when you know what’s best for you, what you want for yourself, even if you long to make that change or adopt that practice, it can take some time to get it to really stick, to become a habit, an embodied way of being. You might have to struggle for a really long time with old habits, rusty viewpoints, and tired excuses. And yet, if you keep at it, keep trying, you’ll find the place it fits, how to make it functional. As always, it’s important to relax and have a sense of humor about things, and to keep in mind that ultimately, it’s all workable.

Are there practices you struggle with, ways of being you long for? Maybe, just for today, you could forgive yourself for not accomplishing them just yet, let go of an idea you have of being perfect or good, and rest, simply contemplate the notion of that practice or that change, without having to do a single other thing about it–at least for today.

Three Truths and One Wish

The theme of last week’s A Year With Myself (AYWM) was “In Love With Me: Getting Good at Self-Love and Self-Acceptance.” I had a rough time of it. I was in this place, deep and old and sticky, where I could see, was aware, but couldn’t seem to move. It felt like I was stuck in cement. I felt broken and hopeless. “All this work, all this time, and I am still here?”

As I have mentioned before, I realized last year that I was in a long term abusive relationship–with myself. I had lost Kelly and Obi to cancer, was reeling from a longstanding abusive work situation, and dealing with some difficult family situations. I was carrying around so much grief, carried it into the year that followed. I couldn’t seem to let go, to process everything that had happened. I was a ghost, broken down the middle. And, like Jackie Walker said in AYWM Chapter Four, “The boat was safe, and it floated. The fact that it was uncomfortable, and going in the wrong direction didn’t matter, until it did.” What I knew was that I had to save myself. So, not knowing exactly how, I started.

Since that realization, I have been trying to be a better friend to myself, to even love myself, to learn how to do these things. But, 30+ years of habitual patterns, ways of being is really hard to shift. Maybe the worst of it is I generate even more suffering by punishing myself, criticizing the fact that I am smashing myself to bits–I beat myself up for not getting there yet, then beat myself up for beating myself up. It is utterly ridiculous.

As I try, struggle, fuss, collapse, get back up, and let go, I practice patience, love, forgiveness, kindness. I am unlearning self-hate and relearning self-love. I am figuring out how to care for myself, really care and not just feed my neurosis, fuel my dis-ease. I am creeping, crawling my way towards the truth, one small step at a time, sometimes on broken hearted knees.

Brave Belly


1. Truth: Your relationship with yourself is the only one that will last your whole life. It is the only one you can trust will remain. Everything, everyone else will at some point leave, be lost, or let go. Our relationship with our self, that partnership with our one true soulmate, is the only constant. Everything else is external, apart in a way that makes it transient and impermanent. All the other people, places, things, (even our own body), will eventually leave us, fail us, even if they don’t want to, even if they desire and try to stay. But You, you can count on her. She will never leave you, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.

:: Something to read:It’s You” from Tiny Buddha.

2. Truth: No one can ever give you all that you can give yourself. As Daniel Collinsworth explained to me, “be the source of what you need, let it come from that central still point. When you feel that restless searching bubbling up, stay with it — let it show you where that healing and restoration is needed.  The rest is a journey that unfolds in time, not always easy, but so worth it.” Remain kind, gentle, patient, mindful, and aware. Relax and trust your own intuition, your own voice, your understanding of what you need and who you are. That self, You, can be trusted. She is faithful and committed, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.

:: Something to read:The Great Lesson of Loneliness” by Daniel Collinsworth on Metta Drum.

3. Truth: The best you have to offer, the best you can be is exactly who you already are. You have nothing better to give. Who you become for others or who you trick yourself into believing you are can only ever be a deluded, weakened, watered down version of your true nature, your essence, your power.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
― Pema ChödrönStart Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

One wish: Easily and naturally arising self-love and self-care in our lives. “If we are doing our true work and living authentically, it will be with ease, naturalness,” (Gwyn-Michael on Scoutie Girl, “Returning to Self and Life’s Simple Pleasures“). My wish is that we unlearn all the bad habits, the ways of being that no longer serve us, and we learn to love our self, be our self wholeheartedly and completely, always.  And that we remember if you would only let her, she will always love you.

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from jamie's post

What do you wish for your health & wellness?

I don’t know if anyone else doing Wishcasting with Jamie feels this way, but it’s like she’s gotten inside my head, read my journals, or followed me around for the past week to determine the exact question to ask–the very thing that I need to clarify, get clear about, wish and claim for myself.

For my health and wellness, I wish for balance, rest, and maitri.

:: Balance: I’ve written about this before, my ongoing effort to find a middle path, the middle way when it comes to my health and wellness. Instead of taking the middle path to begin with, I tend to practice one extreme (e.g. eat a huge bowl of Marshmallow Mateys when that’s not even what I’m really hungry for), freak out because I’ve gone too far, and in an attempt to balance that excess, go just as far in the opposite direction (e.g. restrict what I eat the next day or work out too hard). I practice too tight (e.g. write for 10 hours straight) and then too loose (e.g. spend five hours on the couch watching TV because I’m too tired to read or think), tricking myself into believing they even each other out.

This doesn’t work for me anymore, (if it ever did). It’s like Sisyphus with his boulder, pushing it up a hill only to have it roll right back down. I am stuck in this loop, this push and pull, the falling down. I had been thinking specifically this morning about the 20 pounds that I have gained and lost, over and over, for the past 20 years. I weighed myself yesterday, knowing I wasn’t going to like it, but it was worse than I expected, and made me feel bad, and then I felt doubly bad that I wasn’t evolved enough to love myself no matter what the number, to not care about the number, to just throw away the stupid scale already.

To find balance, I need less food, weight, pain, suffering, secrecy, shame, self-loathing, self-criticism, clinging, attachment, and more ease, space, light, love, joy, rest, grace, strength, bravery, and self-care. I’d like to even out, start from the middle, the stillness and wisdom and kindness of my center. Balance.

:: Rest: I was talking to a friend the other day about this, and in explaining it to her, I had a realization: the comfort I get eating too much or eating food that doesn’t support my desire for more health, is numbness. I knew that already, but what I hadn’t realized is that my desire to dull, check out, be numb is because there’s all this stuff I want to do, writing and practicing and studying and living, and I don’t want to stop, don’t want to waste any more time, so I go until I am so exhausted, I have nothing left.

Unless I am asleep or sick, it is really difficult for me to accept stopping, resting. The only way to turn off my desire to keep going, the guilt about resting, the shame about wasting time, is to numb out, and food is the way I have learned to do this. What I need to do instead is give myself permission to stop, to rest. I need to embody the understanding that I need to pace myself, that I have to restore and regenerate, I need to eat for nourishment, I need to get enough sleep, I need energy to do the great work I hope to do, and it won’t come if I keep smashing myself to bits.

:: Maitri: As I have always heard it defined, this is “cultivating unconditional friendliness,” (also simply loving-kindness, friendliness, friendship) to oneself in particular, because as we’ve heard time and time again: without self-love, you don’t understand how to truly love anyone else. My only resolution last year was to “be a better friend to myself,” and it was a good start, but I still have a long way to go. So many of my issues with health and wellness center around learning to love and care for myself.

I did a Q-Cast this morning, asked the question “Is there a way to do this lovingly, cut back and let go of some weight, get healthier without it being punishment?” The cards I pulled where “cut ties” and “jackpot.” Which means to me that the trick is cutting ties with the comfort of overeating, the numbness, find balance and learn to rest.

I need to cut ties with swinging between extremes and find balance. I need to cut ties with pushing myself so hard and learn to rest. I need to break up with this self-hate like it’s an abusive boyfriend, quit it like the worst job ever, move away from it like a bad neighborhood, throw it out like a pair of socks that have holes, toss it in the garbage like spoiled food, abandon it like a car that won’t start, replace it like a roof that leaks, trash it like a pen out of ink.

Yesterday, Ingrid Michaelson released her new album, “Human Again.” I’ve been listening to it all day. This song “Ghost” makes me think about how terribly I’ve been treating myself for so long, how that made me feel. I made my true self a ghost, invisible and unloved. I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s not working.

For my health and wellness, I wish for balance, rest, and maitri. 

What I’ve Learned While on Vacation

I didn’t take the whole week off, but most of it. I gave myself permission to be myself, to do the things that seemed right and that made me happy. Here’s what I’ve learned this week:

I am a joyful and happy person.

Yes, I get sad, and I can also be worried, anxious, angry, confused, and depressed, but mostly I am grateful. In fact, on a walk we took the other day, I told Eric that I was happier than I’d been in at least the last seven years, maybe ten. The more I think about it, other than those innocent moments of bliss in childhood or the moment when I realized that Eric loved and wanted me as much as I loved and wanted him, I might be happier now than I have ever been in my whole life, (and slightly superstitious about saying that out loud).

Thinking about this earlier, I started to cry–this small and grand shift, moving towards giving and opening and creating instead of hoarding or stealing or numbing out, is simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking. This is who I could have been all the time, if only I’d made the choice to stop generating my own suffering. Knowing this was there all along but that I denied it is devastating.  I chose not to be loved, to be actively unlovable, when love was there waiting all along.

I kept the door locked, the porch light off and the curtains closed, and pretended not to be home. That time I spent hiding, avoiding, denying was not wasted, however. I know I had to understand what that felt like from the inside to gain the wisdom and compassion I have now.

I have everything I need.

I am reading “Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything” by Geneen Roth. In it, she says “You already have everything you need to be content. Your real work…is to do whatever it takes to realize that.” Amen.

I am capable of keeping up.

I can keep my house clean, get the laundry done, keep clean sheets on the bed, pay the bills, do various other chores as necessary, take care of my dogs, etc. I am not lazy or disorganized when I don’t–I am overwhelmed and have too much going on and am tired. I can keep up, but I first need to slow down.

I can have a normal relationship with food.

Okay, confession time, (can’t believe I am going to finally do this). If you haven’t already figured it out, I have food “issues.” I am a compulsive eater, a highly functioning food addict, (highly functioning because I am able to keep my weight relatively workable through lots of exercise, and my addiction doesn’t end up leading to big consequences, like making me unable to keep a job or maintain relationships). According to the WebMB page on food addiction, the characteristics of food addicts can include:

  • Being obsessed and/or preoccupied with food.
  • Having a lack of self-control when it comes to food.
  • Having a compulsion about food in which eating results in a cycle of binging despite negative consequences.
  • Remembering a sense of pleasure and/or comfort with food and being unable to stop using food to create a sense of pleasure and comfort.
  • Having a need to eat which results in a physical craving.

The following are questions that potential food addicts may ask themselves:

  • Have I tried but failed to control my eating? [Me: “I can make it work for a while, but yes.  It goes like this: control and deprivation, which leads to a feeling of scarcity and panic and frustration and irritation that leads to a binge, which brings up feelings of shame, which leads back to the enforcement of punishment and control–round and round it goes.”]
  • Do I find myself hiding food or secretly binging? [Me: “yes”]
  • Do I have feelings of guilt or remorse after eating? [Me: “ugh…yes”]
  • Do I eat because of emotions? [Me: “Yes!”]
  • Is my weight affecting my way of life? [Me: “I can manage it for the most part through exercise, but yes”]

So, while that is all slightly depressing, maybe a bit discouraging, this is what I know: I can have a normal relationship with food. Inviting Rachel W. Cole out to facilitate a “The Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop,” reading “Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything” by Geneen Roth, and confessing to you, kind and gentle reader, are all things that make me trust this can be true.

I can get enough exercise and rest.

To me, these are two sides of the same coin. I need to move, and then I need to rest, and I need to have a balance of the two. This is possible, even easy.

I enjoy being alone some of the time.

Okay, maybe I enjoy being alone a lot of the time. But, I love, love, love my little house–my back yard, my reading chair by the front window, my meditation cushion and shrine, my art studio, the walls covered in quilts made by my aunt and painted various colors of jade (greens, blues, purples, honey browns, and creamy whites), my shelves of books, the insane number of dog beds and toys, the two couches we need so there is plenty of room for everyone to cuddle at night–my home. Eric is my best friend, and I adore my two (three) dogs.

I have work and practices that I truly love.

The work I get paid for is not what I love. Instead, it is the research, service, reading and writing I do on my own time. Practice–doing yoga, walking dogs, writing, and meditation/prayer every day–is easy and joyful, filled with purpose and meaning.

I know who I am.

And right now, I am so in love with her. I have made new promises, and I am showing up. Sometimes I fall into those same old patterns, the denial, the refusal, the fight, the flight, the freeze, but I am trying. I want more than almost anything to be dependable, loving and kind.