Friday’s Focus—Examining Humility

Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I think a part of that is because I’ve always felt September and October were more like a new year than the actual January 1 New Year’s Day. To me, September is the month of beginnings. Even though I’ve been out of school for many years, I still think of September as the beginning of a new school year and with it new opportunities and adventures. Then there’s the changing of the seasons and temperatures and of course, moving into October, the gorgeous transformation and front row seat to nature’s fashion show.

For the first time though, this year feels different to me. I’ve noticed a deeper awareness of events and an acuteness to the days’ wanderings that feel more heightened than ever before. Maybe it has something to do with how much faster time seems to be going.  So many people I know have said the same thing and how, especially this year, time feels as though it’s speeding up and almost out of control.

No one can avoid growing older and the growing pains and warts that come along with it, but how we view this parade of changes is what can make a world of difference in our experiences of them. One way to do that is through our humility, which can lead to a deeper and richer level of wisdom and acceptance. Humility has its own quiet power in its ability to provide strength in the awareness that each one of us is a part of something else. Contrary to what many believe, the universe doesn’t revolve around us or is holding its breath waiting to make its next move based on our decision. It doesn’t work that way no matter who you are, who you know, how much money you have, or businesses you own. The Earth will still turn and the sun will rise and set in accordance to its own laws, without any help from us.

Practicing humility is not about lowering yourself and having feelings of inadequacy. On the contrary, humility is a quiet power that lies in the sublime modesty of one’s own potential and view of oneself. Some people see humility as a weakness, with feelings of unworthiness and lack of pride, but I prefer to think of it is a strength of being able to see ourselves in context and in right perspective with others, and finding that we are not lesser or better than anyone else.

By embracing humility we can we move into life’s moments with wisdom and grace by giving up the need for vanity and self-righteousness. This Autumn has become a season of deeper reds, more vibrant oranges, and fiery yellows of a changing landscape that is within me as well as around me reflected in nature, and I hope that today’s Focus will deepen your own personal Autumn and be a season of change within and without as we learn more about and practice humility.

#takingitdeeper

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Blogging From A to Z: X-Large

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Being an X-Large person continues to be a damning label in current societal views of body awareness. There is a trend that has begun to make ripples of valuing health over size but the grip of judgment surrounding a person’s body size is far from loosening. Why is it okay to have extra large televisions, cars, houses, and yet it is not okay to be that in your physical body? Bigger is better when it comes to objects and is a sign of success (or debt depending on how you look at it!) but when it comes to extra large in bodies and clothing, it’s regarded as a sign of failure—a lack of control.

Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. , a Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF School of Medicine and Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal, and author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings, was on an episode of “Lunch with Bokara” on rituals and she said, “We have edited life in such a way that none of us can belong to life anymore because we have wrinkles or we have illnesses. We don’t fit and so our love doesn’t matter because we’re not good enough. We’re all not good enough in some way. We are all ashamed of something in [ourselves] that really isn’t worth the shame.”

Media perpetuates this feeling of shame regarding how we look and continues to dictate how we should look. No one ever condemns the neighbor who just bought the large flat-screen TV, or upgraded his or her home theater. As a matter of fact, they are applauded and looked at as being successful. But if that same neighbor suddenly gained weight, then damnation and judgment begins of being regarded as a failure [in self-control of eating] or questions that something might be physically wrong for them to have “let themselves go.”

I just loved that quote from Dr. Remen and it struck a deep chord with me on how we are indeed editing life in a way that none of us could truly feel a sense of belonging unless we play by rules that some other people created. I am asking each of us to stop the judgment and to stop the editing. X-Large, or x-small, so what? As long as you’re a good person, I don’t care what size you are.

Taking it deeper.

Blogging From A to Z: Uncomfortable

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Come sit for a minute. Go ahead, sit back, settle in, take a sip of water and let’s begin. I saw you yawn (I know, I’m tired too). Bless you. Take another sip, I’ll wait while you cross your legs and relax. Comfortable? Good. Now let’s get ready to get a little uncomfortable. Well, okay, more than a little. You’re in the control seat and the level of comfort you want to feel will all depend on how you sit with what I am about to share with you.

The role of spirituality and mysticism has come roaring into our culture fueled to a previously unforeseen level thanks to mainstream media. Individually and collectively, many of us are realizing that things aren’t working so well anymore in our lives and there is still something deep inside the deepest part of our hearts that niggles at us, incessantly knocking from the inside trying to get our attention. We are saturated with seeking ways to satisfy our feelings of lost spirituality, but perhaps it’s not spirituality we seek but the connection to our soul. There. I just saw you blink and shift in your seat. Now you’re uncomfortable, at least a little bit, aren’t you? It’s okay. You can admit it. It’s just you and me here.

I’m not writing to answer the questions of why are we here and what is our life’s purpose. I’m writing to say that we can search all we want, read and meditate all day and all night, eat only organic foods and wear only natural fibers so that we can say we live in perfect accordance with the Earth but that does not mean we are living in accordance with our true selves.

It’s not the road that will get you to Nirvana but the potholes and fallen trees and the cold rain that soaks you to your bones when you have no umbrella that will make you uncomfortable and make you wonder why you are doing this. Let us be acupuncture needles with each other and learn from those people and situations that make us uncomfortable and look into why. Are you being mirrored and don’t like what you see? Are you being reminded of something you’d rather not be? Those things that make us shy away and fearful and uncomfortable are exactly the things we need to be with and not turn away from.

It is our human nature not to want pain, but it is our ego’s nature to create comfort and distraction regardless of what is at stake to keep our soul path in the shadow. How do we avoid this? By remaining present when we notice our discomfort. Let the pebbles in our shoes be reminders of moving forward out of our comfort zone. Change can only happen when we go through the muddy, thick, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful metamorphosis that will birth ego and shadows into the light.

You have to get off the mountain and get off the mat. Get angry. Get dirty and then shake the mud off like a dog that got wet to move forward into our true selves and get closer to our bone. Life is messy. Buddha taught that life is pain, and so pain equals being uncomfortable. Personally, I would rather be kicked out of my comfort zone on an hourly basis if that were what it would take me to make me shed my ego habits.

Taking it deeper.

 

Holding the Space for the Right Voice

This morning, I decided to name my inner critic Stu mainly because he stews about all sorts of things that he feels I should or should not be doing, feeling, tasting, seeing, and well you get it. So first off, apologies to anyone really named Stu.  My choice is no reflection on the name itself, only the ogre behind it.

I had been feeling irritable for the past few days, not quite able to put my finger on why (or more likely, not being able to decide which one thing was really behind my biting comments). My frustrations all came to a head this morning with the simple act of trying to clip a barrette in my hair. This normally easy task almost put me in a fetal position on the floor, because apparently even this one ordinary act couldn’t be accomplished without a struggle.

I finally got it clipped, adjusted my hair, when I heard the voice: “Eh, you made it look too flat now. Face it, just not a good hair day. You’re head’s going to be too cold. You need a haircut. You need to lose weight.” I looked hard into the eyes of my self in the mirror and out loud said, “Knock it off.” And so Stu was born, or rather named.

I had a chat with Stu on my drive in to work today, and I found it helpful to have named my judge and jury; my inner critic. It’s helped me focus my rebuttals to one voice rather than the chorus of “should’s” and “shouldn’t’s” that started to drown out my other creative “inside” voices.

So Stu has quieted down some, I think more from shock that I have identified him, and caught on to this inner critic, and that he can’t hide as a witness or shadow anymore. We all have shadows and we all have witnesses, and yes, we all have Stu’s, but they cannot hold the same space at the same time. What’s important for me is to make room for the witness to hold my space for my creativity, my divinity, and my own perfection, and not my insecurities and my shortcomings.

Now, if I could only send Stu out to shovel the snow we’re supposed to get, I’ll be happy!