Friday, February 1, 2013

Taming Wild Mind

What is wild mind?
Any thinking/feeling that leads us into the rocks (crashing) and reeds (tangled up).

After seeing the movie Argo (yeah, a while back - this blog entry started that long ago) -  I was left with the question: How is it that emotions can take over so powerfully - that anger and hatred become our home base?

From inner conflict to interpersonal blips to political violence - it all feels the same to me.
A surge of big, urgent emotions with accompanying story lines and radically black/white beliefs -  grab ahold and takes us on a wild ride - where our primitive/emotional mind is galloping out of control.

This state of wild mind feels so right - so real - and we just want to keep riding hard and fast.

It's like a trance that can only be broken when we STOP - and ask ourselves - what's the point here?
Sounds simple.
It's not.

This stopping in the midst of the most powerful surges of wild mind - is the essence of the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness practice - helps us to push the pause button - and ask ourselves - if what we think and feel - is so real and right - is more important than creating peace (within and between).

I hold fast to the pause button.
It's my  talisman.
It has been a tried and true calming agent -  in my most wild mind moments.
With it - I become a wild mind whisperer.
Placing a hand on my racing heart (shhh)....
Gently pulling back the reins a bit (slow down sweetie) - so I don't go careening over the cliff - words shooting out wildly - words regretted, words flung toward another, words without grace and love....

So - yeah, I begin again with each wild mind moment - forgetting and then remembering - to push the pause button and name/tame; befriend/tend my wild mind.

Addendum: There's also the yummy wild mind - the one Allen Ginsberg and Natalie Goldberg and Gary Snyder and all those buddhist-leaning poets talk about. That's the wildness of raw creative flow - thats full of grizzly grace and luscious love!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Just Write

And that's what I'm gonna do.

This morning I walked out my back door, turned to my left and fell in love.

My husband Tim is a passionate gardener.
I often take for granted the perennial beauty he creates.
But this morning - his roses finally won my heart and deepest appreciation... not only for their beauty - but for the man who nurtures them through all the seasons.

It's a warm spring day today - but as I crouched by the roses - I recalled winter and felt in my body how easy it is, during the cold days, to forget that the warmth and flowers will return.
Perhaps, most importantly - the flowers in our garden return because someone (you know who, not me) is tending, tending, tending - even when tending might not be so easy or immediately rewarding.

So yeah, my therapist brain is connecting this to self-tending.
A reminder not to lose faith in the return of our own warmth and blossoming when we are in seemingly barren-winter-garden moments.
Faith in the form of patient and loyal tending, tending, tending.

I went back in the house and wrote this...
It's my homage to Tim, his roses, and the way I've learned to tend to my winter garden when tending feels like the last thing I can or want to do...


Ache
I am not a gardener.
I am not drawn to dig in the dirt, plant and transplant.
This does not bring me alive.

My husband has this passion.
It amazes me.
He is out in the garden before the frost is gone,
sensing the silent stirrings;
trusting the promise of renewal.

I sometimes sit and watch him in the garden
and try to hold the joy he knows.
At those times
I wish I could be a garden woman,
a weaving,
quilt making,
pottery throwing,
cooking woman.

I’m not.

Yet, in my own way, I sense the silent stirrings.

I don’t want to dig in the earth.
I don’t want to go back inside, sit by the fire,
and wait for the full blossoming.
I want to run away from home.
Make camp by a cold, harsh, wild running river.

I want to pack up a little sack filled with
my pair of worn jeans,
sweater,
extra socks and underwear,
a book of poetry,
a sketch pad and colored pencils,
my writing journal,
my bright colored cap,
and an energy bar that lasts for days, if not months, possibly years.

I want to rip the door off its hinges
and jump onto a brown and white spotted horse,
wrap my arms around her neck
let her take me fast and furious into the mountains.

I want to stay where she takes me
until the ache leaves
and my body tells me that I belong.

But since I have no horse and can’t run away just yet,
I will quietly take off all my winter clothes,
fold them neatly in a pile at the foot of my bed,
slip slowly out the back door
and fall face down, 
belly down,
thighs down,
onto the cold earth
and wait.
__________________

Oh and by the way - I'm not going to suggest you KEEP LEAPING anymore. 
It seems like such a bossy thing to say. 
Maybe (since I can't help myself) - I'll just invite you to befriend and tend the entire beauty that you are. 




Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Listening and Leaping

It's been ages since I've written in this space.
I've been tapping out short snippets on Facebook and leaving it at that.

Fewer words (if any) come to me when I ask myself what helps to support leaping into compassion, courage, and joy? (my usual prompt when I sit to write).
Perhaps I need a new prompt.

I've been reading lots of other blogs and thinking - they have it covered - not much else to add.
This is not a dissing of myself - more an appreciation for what others are writing and a wondering about my own voice - what do I actually burn and bleed to say.

Burn and bleed?
No - let me correct that.

What do I actually love and yearn to say and how do I want to say it?
What wants to pour out of me - cannot be stopped?
What form does my passion take with the written word?

The answer to all of the above: Spare, less words, veering into poetry and out of prose, non-academic, non-therapy-speak - around the theme of LEAPING into more compassion, courage, and joy.
Yet - I'm not really a poet - don't have the chops for that - the education - the skill.
Again - not dissing as much as being honest.

This is definitely turning into one of those stream of consciousness blog entries that borders on the self-indulgent. Letting you overhear what I'm just overhearing myself say to myself.

Whatever.

So - perhaps instead of going on about what I want to write and why I might not let myself write it - I'm going to share a poem with you; a poem that speaks to the way LEAPING comes in many forms but the core quality is the courage to listen deeply to what is so - even if what is so ain't so easy to listen to.....


Not Shattered
Amazing exhaustion
Transcendent fatigue
Exaggerated weariness
Dog tired
Pooped
Bushed
Done in
Beat
Not shattered
Not shattered
Rescued by an astounding whisper to 
STOP 
all that does not heal my soul sleepy self
In my bones
down to my toes
a cry for rest
A scramble to still the squirrel noise
The worry
The fret
The endless squawk that life is not safe
and I am not home
My knees ache to fall under the load
Collapse and slip across the floor
Relinquish control
meet the cool floorboards with a graceful slide

Stretch out and let loose a deep  
animal belly release
calling me away from this life 
of doing the next thing and then the next
Not shattered
The whisper calls me to the edge
Warning me
Wooing me
Not shattered
Just ready to patiently rest  
like the beloved red ball left by my grandson on the dewy spring grass
___________________________________

That's my moment of listening and leaping. 
I'll leave it at that. 





Monday, January 16, 2012

A Rant About Compassion

I just changed the tag line of my blog.
I replaced the word CONFIDENCE with the word COMPASSION.

I was compelled to do this; couldn't stop myself.
Without a doubt, I believe that compassion is the sturdy foundation upon which wholehearted, confident, joyful LEAPING is supported.

Since the beginning of this year - I've been finding myself in moments (with myself, clients, family, friends, strangers) where the word compassion continues to come out of my mouth.
It just shoots out, unwilling to be denied.

I'm sure everyone is getting tired of my compassion mantra.
But - I'm not.
I'm just getting started.

Yes - I have written about compassion in a past blog entry - Radical Compassion - to be precise. But this morning I'm feeling fierce about compassion in a new way; fierce compassion, passionate compassion, kick-butt compassion. I'm on fire with compassion.

Why compassion as the foundation for LEAPING?

It's in those moments when we are highly emotionally triggered (fear, hurt, shame, etc.) or get into a judgmental, self-righteous, self-defensive jag that compassion is most needed. We are all Bozos on the Bus (I've posted this link before - but do check out Elizabeth Lesser's Bozo chapter in her book Broken Open). None of us is without faltering and fears. This planet and all its creatures is in need of megadoses of fierce compassion.

I fully understand (and experience) how hard it is to push the pause button and not speak out of a place of anger, attack, self-defense. I fully understand that we often want the other to offer their hand first in apology or repair. Yet (kinda self-evident and obvious) if we all wait for the other - we will be sinking hard and deep into the no-compassion zone. This zone of no-compassion leads to domestic violence, harmful actions, intense emotional suffering ... and ultimately war and global destruction.

To get really fundamental about this rant - we break each other with our lack of compassion; we repair each other with our wealth of compassion.

Each day we have the opportunity of choosing fierce, passionate, kick-butt compassion.
There are innumerable moments in our days when we can move through the most knotted conflict by digging deep and offering compassion.

There's a great video clip of the Dalai Lama offering his own Dalai Lama-like rant about the importance of our all getting down with fierce compassion. Might just be my projection - but as I watched this clip I thought to myself - this guy is getting really tired of repeating himself and answering the question 'what will heal the earth and its people.'

Here's the Dalai Lama letting it rip: 
"On every occasion I stress the importance of warm heartedness.... compassion, great, great compassion. In the holistic view - everything is interdependent - my future depends on the other - therefore I have to look after their interests...this is the wiser way of looking after ourselves. Sometimes we are narrow-minded and we think of only ourselves - and then we forget about the other - this is a FOOLISH way!  Good, that's all." 

That's all indeed.

I'm definitely coming from urgency right now.
I'm most certainly hitting you over the head with my invitation to bring compassion into the most challenging of moments.
I guess I'm offering you the same loving, supportive, stop-being-a-knucklehead, affectionate talking to - that I give to myself after I've gotten caught in the no-compassion zone.

I offer my apologies for all of you who are truly walking your talk in the compassion zone.
I offer deep gratitude for how you are creating a more compassionate world.

In my last post I said I'd be writing shorter, more playful posts.
I also said I was going to let it rip.
Hoping that you can hear the playfulness and compassion (!) amidst the ripping fire of my thoughts.

As usual - I invite you to KEEP LEAPING - and in this instance - to LEAP toward me and share whatever rants my rant has catalyzed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Leaping Back

It's been a while since I've leaped onto this page.  

I'm mostly leaping back because I made a pact with a writer-client of mine that if I started writing in my blog again - she would start writing in hers. But - I'm also back because I know that I do love writing in this little blogger space; it helps me sort out what's vital/healing/soulful; makes me feel like I'm offering something of merit in my living years. 

Excuses for my lack of writing? 
Well - a combination of work, family, holidays, and that spin cycle of life that I mentioned in a previous blog entry. And the underbelly truth of it is that I really don't roll easy and yummy when I'm in my 'therapist' head thinking of inspiration, helpful tips, and all that jazz.  Yes (more honesty) this blog sort of started out as a marketing thing; exposure on the web, get my voice out there, find my niche, branding type thing. 

But - the truth of the matter is - that's just not me. 

I love to just put my fingers to the keys and see what dances out. I love to inspire through poetry and buddhist teachings and everything love and peace and kindness and compassion. I'm an old hippie and a seeker and love the sound of poetry being spoken, music as it draws me into movement, and how we make our way home to ease and happiness -  and that's all there is too it.  I just happen to also be a psychotherapist who wants to inspire this love, peace, kindness, compassion, joy, and ongoing creative movement in others. 

So - here's my 2012 self-embracing vow to myself - just let it rip, inspiration, passion - leading the way. 

So  - for today - I'm LEAPING back  - and that's all I know. 
What I envision as I leap back -  are shorter, more playful entries. 

The therapist in me wants to say: Feel free to share your own 2012 self-embracing, let it rip vows. 
The playful mystic in me just wants to say....

KEEP LEAPING!




Monday, December 5, 2011

Making Our Way Home

Arriving home late tonight from a train journey.  

Hours spent rolling along the rails from CT to DC and back again; listening to music, reading poetry and witnessing humanity in its beauty and heartbreak. 

I return home with even more surety that whatever it is that we do in our lives - we seem to all be making our rugged and righteous way back home to that tender and courageous place within us where we hold ourselves with deep love, kindness, and gentleness. 

As we do this - with all our might - we grow in our capacity to do this with and for others. 

I have no other words other than the poem I returned to again and again as I made my way home...

For Presence

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to 
follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of
soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.
    ~ John O'Donohue (From To Bless the Space Between Us)

As the holiday season amps up - I'm LEAPING into blessing the space between us.

I invite you to join me. 





Monday, November 28, 2011

Radical Kindness

As part of my holiday survival/thrival kit - I've been beefing up on listening to all my teachers who remind me:  Elizabeth, stop being a knucklehead. It's my way of preparing for the emotional weather systems that inevitably blow in during this time of year. Pushing the pause button and getting more mindful is my number one priority these days.

Here's my latest keeper: "Between the stimulus and the response there is a space; in that space is our power and our freedom."

This comes by way of a great talk by Tara Brach on Mindful Speech.

It's a meaty talk - but essentially she asks us to get curious about the way we talk to each other.
The difference between interpersonal heaven and hell is determined by our capacity to speak to each other with great care, respect, and kindness. Even when we are emotionally triggered, even when the other is being a knucklehead - we can pause and suss out what's up with us and be more mindful about how our words will impact another. Will they bring healing or will they bring wounding; will they create connection or disconnection?

Tara offers a 4-step process to help us skillfully use the space between stimulus  and response to shift into the habit of mindful speech: 
1. Pause when we notice we are getting emotionally triggered (the biggest challenge!). This can be quite subtle. Even when we think we aren't triggered, but simply have a burning passion to say whatever we want - come what may - that's a moment to get curious.
2. Identify our intention. Does our intention for speaking come from our heart (kindness, respect, care) or does it come from a pattern of needing to prove our worth, assert our opinion - or some other manifestation of urgency, control, and/or fear.
3. Consider the outcome of our words. Again, will they create connection or disconnection/healing or harm?
4. Remember what matters the most; what we highly value. This puts us in touch with our core values and supports us to truly, madly, deeply live from our deepest truths.


Oh - and don't forget to add a 5th step: Refrain from judging yourself in the process of getting mindful and curious about your speech. It's a process; learning to tame old habits of reactivity; learning to calm down our justifications for speaking in a mindless and habitual way.
Patience and a sense of humor keep us out of the self-judging zone.

So - after hanging out and gathering information (in this space between stimulus and response) go right ahead and speak!
Notice what happens.
Hopefully it will be something new and exciting.
You'll notice that the outcome feels good; you feel good; others feel good.

I know this sounds like too much to do in that space - but with practice it kicks into autopilot and requires less time. I guess it's kind of like that old adage: Take a deep breath and count to 10 before speaking. The difference with the 4-step process is that it gives us something tangible to do during that deep breath.

This neat little internal inventory has the potential of preparing us to speak with the utmost awareness and kindness. I have committed it to memory and plan on recalling it when in the heat of the holiday season. I invite you to do the same.

Here's to LEAPING into radical kindness with every word we speak!