Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

It’s ok to rest.

Written by Kate • May 15, 2020 •
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Sunrise at Srah Srang

The world can feel a little crazy, even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic. People protesting wearing masks. People saying this interview was deceptively edited. No, it was this interview from the other side of the aisle that was.

People saying “you people are doing this” and those people saying “are you crazy, you people are doing this”. It kinda makes you wonder about the very nature of reality. But really, it’s just the brain doing what it does: make up stories to fit our current belief system.

It’s your choice to believe your brain or not. But that’s yesterday’s post.

Today I’m just popping in to say it’s ok to take a break, no matter what anyone tells you about that. Take a rest. Breathe. Get a bit of distance in order to get centered and understand the nature of illusion.

The breaks from the sound and fury in your social media feed help you break free from illusion.

And napping helps too. It’ll all be there when you’re rested.

Stop Believing Your Thoughts. Your Brain Lies.

Written by Kate • May 14, 2020 •
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Carving in the wall at Angkor Wat- Cambodia

Although I know this, I keep having to learn it. Yesterday was an interesting day, full of lessons I’ve already learned but get to keep learning in new contexts. Yeah! (Not!)

What Are Your Old, Familiar Thought Loops?

I have young kids and they don’t seem to want to clean up after themselves. Their toys are everywhere. The spilled juice spots are multiplying every day, like rabbits. Their kitchen table chairs are stained. I’m noticing all of that and then my brain appears to be saying, oh, we’re doing that? Cataloguing all the things that need to be “fixed”? “Addressed?” “Done?” It says, great, I’m in! Let’s do this! We’re so good at it!

These thoughts started to swirl, coming up faster and faster: I have to mow. I have to do my yoga. I have to relax. The kids need attention. When will I have time to prepare dinner? You know, it’s been a long time since you changed their sheets. Their bathroom sink is a mess. When will you have time to run to Costco? Have you called (my) Dad recently? You need to tweet more! What else did we plan to do today? Will it get done today? And on and on and on.

Next thing I know, my stomach is clenching up, my shoulders are hunched, and I’m “checking” FB for an hour, and I’m resisting urges to have a glass of wine at 4pm or snack just before dinner. Now my plan for the day is definitely blown because at no point did I budget an hour for random FaceBook mindlessness.

What Have You Made These Thoughts Loops Mean and What Are Your Resulting Feelings?

As soon as I muster enough consciousness to put the phone down and become aware of my thoughts, I spiral into overwhelm and despair and old familiar thoughts like, “see, I told you you can’t get it all done.” “There’s too much to do and you’ll never get it all done.” “just stop trying”.

Become Aware of the Thoughts and Detach From Them

But with lots of practice, I know what to say. First, I feel compassion for this part of my brain and I send love and compassion to it. No more hating on any aspect of me. No more derision. Just love.

So I notice the thoughts and I notice myself starting to believe the old familiar thought loops and now I just say, “No”. “That’s not true and it’s never been true”. I treat it like a child and say, “we can think better thoughts”. “Let’s stop with old familiar thought loops WHICH HAVE NEVER HELPED EVER”.

And honestly, I feel like my brain (like toddlers) gave me a sly smile and it felt something like relief for my brain to know that I’m charge and I won’t let this thought loop continue any longer.

Find the Thoughts’ Opposite and Try Those Thoughts On

Because I know about the mind and how it is constantly seeking evidence to support our belief systems, once I’m aware of my thoughts, I like to try a version of the Turnaround, from Byron Katie’s The Work.

I take a thought and come up with its opposite. For example, “there’s so much work to be done, I’ll never get it all done”. The opposite of that for me is “I can get everything done that needs to get done so long as I keep at it, slow and steady. Not everything needs to get done right now.” And I start to think of all the things I have gotten done and I find evidence to support this opposite thought. I think how I’ve accomplished so many tasks that I’ve wanted to and itemize all that I’ve done: kept meditating for over an hour daily for the past 3+months, added in mowing to my schedule, keeping up with my yoga, listening to the podcasts that support me, and on an on with evidence to support this opposite thought.

And I find the opposite thought and evidence to support the opposite thought for several of the other thoughts, as necessary. And I remind myself that I don’t need to believe my thoughts. Or even continue to follow my thought loops and whirlwinds, while the mind just keeps chattering away at me like my 5 year old. On and on with the stories. And not much of it is true. Or important. My brain and my 5 year old just want to keep talking to me.

Detaching From Your Thoughts Shows You Their Powerlessness

As I continue to detach from my thoughts, like Eckhart Tolle exerts us to, I again become aware of just how unimportant my thoughts are. How inaccurate. How repetitive. How unnecessary so many of them are. And I just drop my need to follow them and I focus on doing what’s before me, the laundry, the mowing, cleaning up the spills, the writing.

In Comes Presence

And when I move my focus from my thoughts to the task at end, a joy steals in to my body and I no longer am thinking about a past that’s gone and a pretend future that will never make me happy in the present. I’m just here. And I drop the story and rest in the task.

So much joy here in this moment.

Nothing You Do Will Fill The Empty Hole in Your Heart

Written by Kate • May 12, 2020 •
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The River Flowing Through the Rocks- Watkins Glen

I, like most other people, search here and there, near and far for something, ANYTHING to fill that hole in my heart. You may not yet be acquainted with that hole but it’s there. It’s the one that tells you need to be richer, thinner, more successful, striving, in a relationship, married, divorced, a parent, highly educated, or anything other thing that will make you better, make you different than you are now.

But all of that is a lie. The hole in your heart will not ever be filled by anything you do to fill it. And that’s why you’re over drinking, over eating, over spending, or on social media too much, doing anything that gives you some relief from that message that you’re not enough right now, as you are.

You are all you’ll ever be and and anything you’ve ever wanted to be is already inside of you. Now is the time to stop trying to fix yourself. There is nothing you have to “DO”. Instead, it’s time to be. Be yourself. Be present.

Be aware of the hole in your heart that is yours to heal through simple awareness of it and presence.

Be. Here. Now. There is no future that will heal you and no past that wounds you. Just timeless presence to what is right now.

Practice that for long enough and all the thoughts you have about being better and the utter suffering that arises from that will simply vanish. It will be replaced by boundless joy for longer and longer moments.

Stop doing. Start being.

The New Normal

Written by Kate • April 6, 2020 •
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Stillness- Early morning quiet

I just read a quote that stated “the world is a great teacher to the wise and an enemy to the fool”. That quote sinks in with me because I often look at what is happening to me or around me for the deeper lesson.

Now that we’re in lockdown for the next 2 months, life has obviously slowed down considerably. There are no playrgrounds to take the kids to. No schedule to adhere to. Just seemingly endless days with nothing to do.

For me, however, this time of #coronavirus lockdown reminds a great deal of my time in Peace Corps, when I was posted to the West African country of Benin. I lived in a small village with no running water or electricity. This was even before the internet or the advent of the cell phone. It was just me, in a small village of about 2,000 Beninois and my books. The longer I was at my post, the slower life felt until it got to the point where I could lie still for an hour and just be. Not sleeping, little thinking of thoughts about a future or a past. I just was.

Of course I visited with my Peace Corps friends and started to make friends with people in my village but overall my life was very very slow and uneventful. No phone. No Netflix. No cinema/movies. No place to travel to. No future to strive for. Just two years of being in the here and now.

The first few months were brutal. My mind went crazy trying to maintain my old patterns of striving for a future life, to make myself better, to do more and to try more. I wept many tears. I distinctly remember my Dad’s birthday in early October and I started to do some push ups and I was so overcome with sorrow that I wasn’t at home to celebrate his birthday and I was so bored with my life, that I cried throughout the entire work out session.

But after about 4 months, I adapted. I slowed down and it became my new normal. And after two years, I reveled in the peace and the pace of my new life. I was present. I in the non doing doing. Where I did what rose up in me to do but wasn’t something I planned and schemed about in advance. I was so peaceful and content.

Arriving back in the US was such a shock and my ability to stay present didn’t last long as I quickly assumed my old life habits of striving and trying to do better, be better, be different.

I see this time of lockdown inviting me to do the same thing. I’m reminded so strongly of all the positive aspects of my Peace Corps experience. I’m delighted to begin the slowing down of my life. And as I slow down, I notice the thoughts that arise about how I should be doing more and my brain is intently telling me that others think I should do “this” differently. The “this” is pretty much everything, how I do every thing.

It’s such a gift, to slow down and be present. To take the time to notice your thoughts and habits and to just notice them.

The world will likely not return to “normal” anytime soon with the realization that more animals are now virus reservoirs and we can catch the coronavirus from cats, dogs, and tigers we would visit at the zoo.

Don’t hold on rigidly to what was. Find the gifts in what is. Life will be less painful when you allow what is actually happening to be without trying to change it.

As Glennon Doyle says, we can do hard things together.

What Are You Reading- On the Bookshelf

Written by Kate • March 31, 2020 •
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I have some time these days, during our Covid19 lockdown. Not that much more than I did before, given I’m taking care of 5 year old twins. But there is some time now that the kids can entertain themselves so I’m catching up on some oldies but goodies.

I have a friend, Hema, who posted at the beginning of this year that she intends to go deep on all her programs and books rather than wider and keep buying new books and spreading herself too thin.

I think this is a great idea. I’ve spent a great deal of money on programs and books I haven’t finished. So I too am finally starting (and finishing!) books that have long been on my bookshelf or my Kindle.

The one I’m reading right now is the Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. In the past, I might have read the book but not done the exercises. Now, I’m chapter 6 of 10 and I’ve actually done the previous chapters’ exercises. It’s been enlightening.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I do pray daily to have the veil lifted from my eyes so that I can know the truth and be shown my blind spots. So this book is extremely helpful already, just half way through,in illuminating the way I’m denying my shadow self and rejecting and fiercely judging those who exhibit my shadow self. I love what the exercises are showing me.

Two things she said helped me really visualize the deepening process.

1 – she said that we are like castles and we have many hundreds or even thousands of rooms in ourselves. As children, we have no shame about these rooms whether they’re hateful, childish, loving, mean, funny, joyful, or selfish. We just are. And then the people in our lives tell us that some aspect of ourself is wrong and unacceptable. To survive, we turn off the light and lock the door to that room. As we age, we forget that we even had that room and hide the key. Like taking a coin when we were young and hide it. We wouldn’t remember where we had left if 30 years later, or even that we’d done it.

She quotes Gunther Bernard, “we choose to forget who we are and then forget we’ve forgotten”.

I did the exercise for the chapter and I could feel the rooms light up. Not that I know them yet but I could see and feel the lights flicker on- through the suggested visualization. Very cool. I love breakthroughs.

2- if you spot it, you’ve got it. I’m paraphrasing here, but she points out that if something really bothers us in someone else, it’s because we hate that about us. She gives a great visual that it’s like our chest is giant space for electrical outlets. For aspects of ourself that we’ve integrated, there is no charge when we ponder the concept of how the other person is acting. But for things we despise in others, it’s like there is a cord that plugs directly into our chest and we get an electrical surge whenever we think on this attribute or ponder the person.

Through her exercises, I am able to see that I’m all the things I’ve spotted and judged in others. And it’s so clear through her exercises.

I also see that the things are I truly admire in others are the flip side. I also have those qualities and attributes in myself.

I highly recommend her book and doing the exercises. You likely will find it quite illuminating to your shadow self (see what I did there? ROFL).