Monday, May 28, 2012

Honoring Agitation

I woke up agitated today. I was not sure exactly why I felt so irritated or what I could do to lessen the feeling. What did become increasingly clear as the day went on was that pushing myself to do tasks I found unpleasant was making me feel worse.

I enjoyed a productive day of home organizing on Friday followed by two fun days with friends and family over the holiday weekend. I had plans to be productive again today and tackle some projects I felt were long overdue. However, my body, mind, and spirit had another agenda.  The more I pushed, the more restless and distracted I felt. It was like an internal game of tug of war.

Finally, I surrendered. Taking some time to sit, breathe, move, tone, and notice what I was feeling – to dive into my experience more fully rather than trying to distract myself from it or avoid it – I found a way through the agitation. Listening, I found that my voice wanted an outlet for this tension – and I toned and screamed and enjoyed the release. My body was also begging for more water in this heat – and rest.  My soul craved some spiritual reading and quiet. While I had ambitious plans today for more home organization and cleaning as well as doing some work on my business, my body overrode my mind’s desires and screamed, “NO!” The agitation was a call to listen.

When I slow down to honor that internal “static” when it appears – in agitation or distraction or sluggishness – I always learn something and feel better. It reminds me of that funny one-liner I have heard many times: “When you’re going through hell, remember to keep going.” You don’t want to get stuck in it, do you? While sometimes pushing through seems like the best strategy to “keep going,” often slowing down and really listening to ourselves and how we feel and what we need is more effective.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Time to "Do Nothing"

How often do we allow ourselves time to “do nothing”? When do you carve out space in your hurried schedule to sit or walk or reflect or play, without an agenda or an intended outcome? Regular practices of meditation or yoga or journaling – or even naps – are wonderful opportunities for rest, self-care, and self-reflection. In addition to these, I wonder about experiences of spontaneity, the choice to cast aside our routines and tasks lists and follow the whispers for whimsy in our everyday lives. When do you give yourself time – in your own home, in nature, on vacation, in a neighboring city, in the mind and soul of your creative impulse – to follow a random trail of your thoughts, feelings, and impulses and simply see what happens?  How often do you drive right off the map into unchartered territory for no reason whatsoever – except that you feel like it?

For me, I realize I don’t intentionally devote nearly as much time to this spontaneous experiencing as my heart desires. I remember, as a child growing up, how expansive time seemed. It seemed there were endless possibilities for play and adventure, limited only by the sun rising and falling in the sky and the occasional steady rain that drove us indoors.  I remember fondly how we would play detective games in which everything we noticed was another clue revealing itself, moving us a step closer to solving the mystery at hand.

Today, I continue to embrace a sense of mystery, continue to find people and nature and the universe endlessly fascinating.  I cherish those moments during which I allow myself to step out from behind the driver’s seat and to look for “clues” to the questions that excite and haunt me.  I love noticing numbers – and looking up what significance they may have. When an animal or bird catches my attention (e.g. spotting a red fox or a skunk in my yard or seeing Canadian Geese on my drive into work), I enjoy reading about possible symbolism, exploring the idea of animals as messengers along my journey.  Sometimes I embrace the random in even simpler ways, such as setting my ipod to “shuffle” and letting the music lead me where it may.

Nothing enchants me like the promise of entire day without anything planned. When people ask me, “What are your plans for the weekend?” and I respond with “Nothing,” they may notice my smile and the twinkle in my eye.  I love that “nothing” can become anything at all. Instead of accepting societal biases that label down time as unessential or doing “nothing,” I wonder if, instead, the time we devote to “nothing” may actually be the very zest of life.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Holding Hands

Lately, more and more, I have been nourishing myself by reading Hafiz and Rumi. Today, I opened "The Gift" by Hafiz to a random page, and the poem, "A Great Need" stared back at me with a wink and a smile. The poem encourages us to hold hands as we climb, stating that "The terrain around here is far too dangerous" to consider not holding hands, not loving, not being connected to others along the journey. What a true statement!

In our society which prides itself so much on the value of rugged individualism, we can sometimes put undue pressure on ourselves to go the rough patches alone. I remind myself that no one person really ever does anything alone. We need other people alongside us on the path. To listen to our stories and to share their stories with us. To give us a hug or a place to sleep or a mug of tea or a piece of sage advice when we need comfort and sustenance.

We learn so much from the world around us and are shaped and influenced by the people in our lives and the experiences we have had. Can anyone really say that they have achieved great things on their own? We are continuously learning from others and drawing inspiration from known and unknown sources. The interconnectedness among all people is a source of great richness. By tapping into the vast wisdom of those around us, those that have come before us, and all beings in the natural world where we live, our lives can be enriched in poignant and unforeseen ways.

As a counselor, I have noticed that my best work often comes when I allow myself to deeply surrender to the moment, to the experience of not knowing, and be present for whatever arises. My work with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) has demonstrated this to me dramatically. EMDR facilitates the mind's natural healing processes, allowing people to work through trauma and blocks in their current lives - towards healing, inner harmony, and joy. In the midst of this process, people share the most profound, spiritual insights. Experiences of divine love (a felt sense of being deeply loved and intrinsically lovable) naturally emerge through metaphor and memories within the process of EMDR. Witnessing the sweetness of love unfolding is a true gift - and reminds me time and again of our interconnectedness. My role is to offer genuine caring, share my unyielding faith in the power for positive transformation, and be present in the moment as it unfolds.

We have within us a "Great Need" as Hafiz suggests. A need for community and connection. And a need for being seen, accepted, and loved. Walking together, holding hands, we can navigate any terrain. Today, I wish you fellow travelers along your journey - and the courage to extend your hand. Extend it not only as an offering of support to others but as a gift to yourself to be received in kind.