Archive for June, 2011

In Touch with True Emotions

June 24, 2011

[ From DialyOM ]

Our bellies can be wonderful monitors of our emotional health and the truth can always be found there.

So often, emotions that we long to express get stored in our bodies instead. The space where this most often happens is in our bellies. Rather than telling people, our even ourselves, the way we truly feel, we may stuff our true feelings deep inside of us, where they take up space until we are ready to let them go. Stuffing our feelings in our bellies may feel like the “safe” response, since we then don’t really have to deal with our emotions. Yet, doing so can actually be detrimental to our emotional well-being and physical health.

One way to connect with and release your emotions is to do a focused exercise with your stomach area. Take a moment to center yourself with some deep breathing and quiet meditation, relaxing your body fully and turning off the chatter in your brain. With your right hand on your stomach, tell yourself three times: “Please reveal to me my true emotions.” Listen for the answers. Repeat the exercise as many times as you would like, allowing yourself to drop deeper into your body each time.  Notice any physical response in the stomach area, whether you have a warm, relaxed feeling in the middle of your body or if you feel tight knots in response to any emotions that do come up. You may even want to write down any answers that come to you. Remember that the body doesn’t lie.

Releasing our pent up feelings from our bellies can prevent disease and allow us to live more authentic and expressive lives. Sometimes, if too much emotional energy builds up inside of us, a blowout can result that can cause discomfort. You can help to alleviate this compression by doing the same exercise and adding sound to your emotional release. The more guttural the sounds released through your mouth, the more emotions you are likely letting go. Releasing your emotions from your belly doesn’t have to be painful and hard; rather, it can be organic and effortless. It’s important not to judge whatever comes up for you. We tend to stuff our feelings in our bellies when we are ashamed of them or not ready to express them. There is nothing wrong with having feelings, whatever they may be. You can’t help your feelings; if anything, you can help yourself by acknowledging the truth of your emotions so you can set yourself free.

Being Projected Upon

June 23, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

When we take ownership of our thoughts we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others.

We all have issues, as well as undesirable qualities or traits that we don’t like about ourselves. Most of us realize that we are not perfect and that it is natural to have unpleasant thoughts, motivations, desires, or feelings. However, when a person does not acknowledge these, they may ascribe those characteristics to someone else, deeming other people instead as angry, jealous, or insecure. In psychological terms, such blaming and fault finding is called projection.

When we are the target of projections, it can be confusing and frustrating, not to mention maddening, particularly when we know that we are not the cause of another person’s distress. Even people who are well aware of their issues may find that sensitive subjects can bring up unexpected projections. They may feel insecure about a lack of funds and thus view a friend as extravagant. Or, if they really want to get in shape, they may preach the benefits of exercise to anyone and everyone.

While we can try to avoid people we know who engage in projecting their “stuff” onto others, we can’t always steer clear of such encounters. We can, however, deflect some projections through mindfulness and meditation. A useful visualization tool is to imagine wrapping ourselves in a protective light everyday. At other times, we may have to put up a protective shield when we feel a projection coming our way, reminding ourselves that someone else’s issues are not ours. Although it’s difficult not to react when we are the recipient of a projection, it is a good idea to try to remain calm and let the other person know if they are being unreasonable and disrespectful. We all know that it’s not fun to be dumped on. Likewise, we should be mindful that we don’t take our own frustrations out on others. When we take ownership of our thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings, we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others.

In the Open Air

June 22, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Because we instinctively know that nature is good for us on many levels, it’s not unusual to feel powerfully drawn to it.

In this modern age, we spend so much time indoors, focused on the busyness of our lives and disconnected from the earth. But much of what we truly need can only be found under the naked sky, alongside tall trees, on open plains, or in the sound of running water. Spending time in nature allows us to commune with other living beings and to find comfort in the nurturing embrace of Mother Earth. You can’t help but experience a different sense of self while walking in a wood or traversing a mountainside. Being in nature connects us to the earth, grounding us as we walk, unhindered by concrete, upon her.  Surrounded by other living beings, both bigger and smaller than we are, we remember that human beings are simply one form of life in this vast universe.

Because we instinctively know that nature is good for us on many levels, it’s not unusual to feel powerfully drawn to it. Even if you live in a city or find it difficult to travel to a forest or the countryside, there are a myriad ways to reconnect with nature. When you step out of your door each morning, pause for a minute and close your eyes long enough to let your senses absorb your surroundings. Listen and breathe deeply, until you hear the wind rustling through branches, smell rain on damp grass, and see the reflection of leaves brushing up against windowpanes. If you have time, crouch down and closely examine any nearby grass and soil. The sights, sounds, smells, and sensations we experience that are part of nature can remind us of all the gifts Mother Earth grants us each day.

Spending time connecting with nature nourishes the soul, reminds you that you are never truly alone, and renews you by attuning you to the earth’s natural rhythms. Taking a walk under the stars or feeling the wind on your face may be all it takes for you to reconnect with nature. Remember, you are as much a part of nature as are the leaves on a tree or water bubbling in a brook.

Staying Afloat amidst the Spin

June 21, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Try not to take everything personally, things that people say and do don’t always have anything to do with you.

Every time you interact with others, you have the choice to listen to, acknowledge, and let go of their words, or you can take what they are saying personally. Taking things personally is often the result of perceiving a person’s actions or words as an affront or slight. In order to take something personally, you must read negative intent in an individual’s words or actions. But what people do and say has no bearing upon you and is usually based on their own experiences, emotions, and perceptions. If you attempt to take what they do or say personally, you may end up feeling hurt without reason.

If you are tempted to take a comment or action personally, creating some distance between yourself and the other person can help you. Try to determine what is at the root of your feelings. Ask yourself if the other person’s words or actions are just reinforcing some insecurity within you or if you can really be sure that an offense was intended.  You may even want to ask them what they meant. Finally, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Instead of taking their words as the truth, or as a personal affront, remember that whatever was said or done is based on their opinion and is more reflective of what is going on inside of them, rather than having anything to do with you. You may have been an easy target for someone having a bad day, and their comments may have been offered with no ill intentions.

When you recognize that what anyone says or does doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you, you will no longer feel hurt or attacked. While it’s easy to take things personally, you should never let anyone’s perceptions or actions affect how you see yourself or your worth.  Your life is personal to you, and it is up to you to influence your own value and sense of well-being.

Going Away to Go Within

June 15, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Going on retreat is a time to cocoon so that we may emerge ready to return to our lives with a new perspective.

Occasionally, we need to pause – and step away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. One way to do this is to get away from our daily life and go on retreat. Far more than a vacation, a retreat offers us time to ourselves to rest, heal, reflect, and renew our spirit. It is a time to cocoon so that we may emerge renewed, refreshed, and ready to return to our everyday lives with a new perspective. A retreat gives us time for uninterrupted meditation so that we may go deep within and spend time with ourselves.

A retreat may offer quiet, solitude, and sometimes even silence.  Retreats often take place in humble dwellings with simple fare so that our senses may be reawakened to the beauty of unadorned tastes and the sights and sounds of nature. When we spend days in contemplation, we can more easily hear our heart when it speaks to us. We also are able to really listen when a bird sings, deeply breathe in the smell of flowers, grass, or earth, and delight in a soft breeze blowing on our cheek. When we go on retreat we have time to connect to the sacred geometry of a labyrinth, discover epiphanies through asanas, or take a long, reflective walk through the woods where we can give each step our full attention.

Without the pull of deadlines, relationships, the Internet, or other media, we give ourselves time to go deep into our own solitude where we can fully reflect on our joys, sorrows, and fears, owning and releasing them as needed. We may even come to know and understand our life path more deeply.  Hopefully, when we return home, we can take a little bit of this time alone back with us and create the space for deep reflection on a daily basis. We also may come back to our life renewed and ready to take on the world.  The beauty of going on retreat is that no matter where you go or how long you stay, you will always meet yourself when you get there.

Plunging Into The Deep

June 15, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

No matter how brave, strong, or levelheaded we are, sometimes we all get scared.

Life can take us on a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows and twists and turns. Even for those of us who enjoy unexpected thrills, it’s frightening to suddenly find ourselves heading for a deep plunge. Yet, it happens to all of us. At these moments, it is important to remember that you are not alone in your experiences. No matter how brave, strong, or levelheaded we are, sometimes, we all get scared.

Our fears may revolve around our physical safety, particularly if we are not feeling well, living under difficult circumstances, or doing work that exposes us to hazardous conditions. Or, we may be experiencing financial woes that are causing us to be fearful about making ends meet. We may also fear the loss of a loved one who is sick, or we may be scared of never finding someone special to spend our life with. We may be scared to start at a new school, begin a different job, move to a new town, or meet new people. Whatever our fears are, they are valid, and we do not need to feel ashamed or embarrassed that we are, at times, afraid.

It may be comforting to know that everyone gets scared, and it is perfectly OK. Sometimes just acknowledging our fears is enough to make us feel better. And while it sometimes takes a lot more to ease our mind, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that life can be scary at times. Giving ourselves permission to be scared lets us move through our fears so we can let it go.  It also makes it alright to share our fears with others. Sharing our apprehensions with other people can make our fears less overwhelming because we are not letting them grow inside of us as pent up emotions.  Sharing our fears also can lighten our burden because we are not carrying our worries all by ourselves. Remember that you are not alone.

Burning Brightly

June 15, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

When we hide and try to be invisible and unseen by all we are only really hiding from ourselves.

At times, we’ve all wanted to crawl under a rock and hide away from the world. We may have preferred to be invisible rather than let other people see us or notice that we exist. This desire not to be seen often happens when we are feeling very hurt, angry, or simply weary of the world. And while we may console ourselves with the defense that we are shy, an introvert, or a loner, we may actually be hiding.

When we hide and make believe that we are invisible, we can think that we no one sees us even though, truthfully, we are only really hiding from ourselves. And while we may try to live life as inconspicuously as possible, we only succeed in becoming more conspicuous because people can’t help but notice that we are trying to hide our light. None of us are meant to hide; each one of us radiates a unique brilliance that is meant to illuminate the world. When we try to dim our light, we diminish the natural radiance of the Universe, and we deprive the people around us of the unique gifts and talents that we are here to share.

Stepping out of the wings and letting your light shine is actually a way to serve the planet. We each have a responsibility to contribute to our community, and we do this when we let ourselves be seen. It doesn’t do anyone any good when we try to hide.  We are all beings of light and we are here to light the way for each other. When we let ourselves shine, we become a bright mirror that others can see their own reflected brilliance through, and they can’t help but want to shine also.  Shine your light out into the world, bless those around you by sharing your gifts, and watch the universe glow.

Writing Your Story

June 7, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

We all have a story to tell whether we publish it or keep it for just ourselves or family; allow yourself to be heard.

Everyone, at one time or another, has wanted to express his or her story. Writing a memoir to read privately, share with family or friends, or publish is an emotionally satisfying way to gain perspective on your experiences while sharing your unique voice. We’ve all experienced feelings and events in our lives that we are longing to write down. Giving in to that urge can give you an outlet for purging any frustration, anxiety, or long-dormant feelings. No one else has to read it. You may even want to write your story without reading it right away. Satisfying the need to tell your story is not predicated upon your writing ability. It does, however take effort to write down the truth in detail. Your memories, captured on paper as descriptive scenes, sights, sounds, and scents, may at first seem disconnected or incomplete. But rest assured that you possess the ability to shape your recollections into stories.

Everyone wants to be heard. Reading your story to others can meet that need. Writing your story can also help you understand your life experiences. And when you finish writing, you may be surprised at what you have accomplished. Your story can encompass as much or as little of your life as you prefer. You may surprise yourself with new insights, or you may find yourself exploring your roots, your identity, and your future through your words. Allow your writing to guide you and write as truthfully as possible. Don’t worry about what others will think of your personal journey, your style of writing, or your words.

Research has shown that writing a personal narrative filled with feelings and perceptions can create long-term health benefits. As you write, remember to have compassion for yourself, particularly when writing about traumatic events. If you are a young person, you can add to your life story as you grow older. Your writing may help family members know you better, or they may understand themselves more through reading about your experiences. More importantly, you are expressing yourself in a permanent way, giving a gift to yourself, and letting your voice be heard.

Your Special Gift

June 4, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

We all have a genius within us and when one of us doesn’t develop or use our special gift, a cosmic void takes place.

Each of us is born with a specific genius that was bestowed upon us so we can do our part to make this world a better place. All of us have a role that we’re uniquely suited for. Imagine our planet without trees, oceans, or clouds.  In this same way, when one of us doesn’t develop or use our special gift, a cosmic void takes place.

This unique talent or ability may be hidden from your own sight like a golden treasure buried under shifting sands. Often, we spend so much time dazzled by the talents of others that we can overlook our own gifts. It may even be that our unique ability is something we view negatively. Perhaps we find it difficult concentrating on any one subject for long; meanwhile, others are thrilled by our ability to weave various ideas throughout our conversations. Or, you might think of yourself as “frivolous,” when it’s likely your charming approach to life casts a light of inspiration that others can’t help but follow. It’s important for all of us to try to find our special gift and discover how we can best express it. Ask others to name what they think is your most overlooked talent or character trait. Their answers may change your life.

Explore these riches that are yours to express, and you may find yourself helping others discover and develop their own blessings. Acknowledge and appreciate the gifts you see in those around you. Tell your neighbor that loves to garden how much her green thumb enlivens the whole block. Thank your coworker for always greeting your days together with a smile.  Tell your close friends that their ability to listen makes your world a better place. Our unique gifts are like golden rays of expression that can encircle the world with light.

What Lies Beneath

June 1, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

It is human nature to sometimes lash out at others, but we can learn to navigate our feelings without losing our center.

Each one of us has experienced situations where we’ve found ourselves lashing out at someone without meaning to. We later berate ourselves for losing control and feel guilty for treating the other person badly.  And while it is human nature that our emotions and moods will get the better of us from time to time, we can learn to navigate our feelings and negotiate difficult situations without losing our center.

Often, when we lash out, it is because we are having a difficult time containing the emotions that are coming up inside of us. We may be feeling overwhelmed, afraid, frustrated, stressed out, or angry. Having these feelings boiling up inside of us can be very uncomfortable, and it is natural to want to release them. But when we release our feelings from our body by directing them outward and toward someone else, they inevitably impact the “innocent bystander” to whom we are directing this energy.  They not only get the brunt of our anger, frustration, or stress, but also they can actually experience this energy as a physical force hitting their bodies.

When you find yourself in a situation where you are about to lash out at the person in front of you, try to center yourself by breathing slowly and deeply. A few slow inhales and exhales can help dissipate the intensity of your feelings before they escape you. Later, when you find yourself in a more reflective state, sit down for a moment; recall the feelings in your body just before and during your outburst; note where you feel sensations coming up in your body; and ask yourself if they are connected to any core issue or experience from your life.  If nothing comes to mind, then revisit the situation again, exaggerating the details of what happened by indulging in outlandish “what if” fantasies. Exaggerating events after the fact can help expose the unconscious subtext behind your heated response. Understanding the motivation behind your reactions can help you avoid lashing out again when a similar situation comes up. In learning to navigate around your emotions, you are giving yourself the tools to feel better the next time your emotions start to boil. In doing so, you will be taking care of yourself by alleviating your own uncomfortable feelings while respecting and protecting those around you.