“Own It, Conquer It.” (from the September e-letter, One Moment Shifts)

“Own It, Conquer It”

Before reading this month’s Shift, I encourage you to first take a few breaths and welcome an open mind and heart. An open, non-judgmental mind helps us consider new ideas. An open heart helps us have compassion for ourselves and others.
I only write, teach, and encourage what I know to have been helpful for me. I hope that some part of my own journey can be helpful to you. We are all on our own journey full of great moments and struggles. I am no exception. It’s helpful for me to remember that the spiritual journey is indeed about the path, not the destination. The path is our day to day life; the happiness, the struggles, the mistakes, the joy, and everything in between.
Part of our path includes our interactions with others. Sometimes these interactions don’t turn out so well. Then we tend to get hooked into defensiveness, wanting the other person to change, blaming them, or shaming ourselves. When we get honest with ourselves, we realize that pointing fingers is missing the point.
This month, I’d like to encourage you to try something that has become a frequent practice of mine. I call it, “Own it, Conquer it.” It’s been one of the toughest, and most rewarding Mindfulness practices I’ve done. Here’s the short of it: look honestly at your part in relationships/interactions, including how you have hurt others, without judging your self. Learn the lesson and move forward accordingly.
Own It:
The reality is, we’ve all hurt others. One of the hardest, though most rewarding, things we can do in our own growth is to look honestly at how we have hurt others. It’s easy to go into auto pilot mode and just want to focus on what the other person did wrong. I’m no stranger to this mindset. And ya know….it’s never really made anything better for me.
I’m not at all saying that we should be passive, let others hurt us without standing up for ourselves (in a way that is in line with our morals and values), or not look at the lessons regarding others hurting us. The things is, we have no control over others. So if we let our happiness and sense of peace depend on others changing or seeing how they’ve hurt us, we’re continuing our suffering.
The “Own It” part requires quite a bit of mindful non-judgmental attitude and compassion for yourself. Depending where you are on your journey, this may be quite tough. We have a tendency to want to beat ourselves up, shame ourselves, and tell the same old story of how we’re not good enough (or how others aren’t good enough). We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all hurt others. This is absolutely a part of our journey.
So, own it, or it will own you! Own your part in stressful interactions. Noticing internally what your mindset was, what your intention was, and externally what your reaction was (words, actions, choices). Perhaps think of how you would approach a child you care about, and talk to yourself in the same manner. Gentle, kind, loving.
Conquer It:
Once you aware and own it, you have the power to change it. Remember, you can’t change anyone else! The only way to guarantee change is by changing you. (Again, I’m not saying become a push-over or always change for others benefit!) Look at the lesson and start applying it. This is about taking your peace and wellbeing into your own hands.
When we see how we hurt others, then we can stop. When we have hurt others we cover it up with rationalizing and other defensive mindsets because really we are feeling guilty (which is an appropriate reaction to doing something that is not in line with our morals and values). When you can see your part clearly, you then get the opportunity to practice a different way of reacting that is more in line with our morals and values, is kind, and is respectful to ourselves.
This can be tough work. It has been tough for me at times, no question. But t’s gotten easier and I have less of those self-defeating, critical, shaming fear thoughts that get in the way of doing the work of seeing the lesson clearly.
The more we practice this the more free we can be. When someone gives us critical feedback that isn’t so pleasant (which will happen), and the more we practice”Own it, Conquer it,” the more we’ll be able to tolerate the strong emotions, listen openly to feedback, look at our self and our part with compassion, see the lesson (not the opportunity to point the finger), and move about our lives living as passionately and on purpose as we can.
I do hope you take a chance on Mindfulness. Don’t take my word for it that Own It, Conquer it will bring you more peace. Try it yourself and discover your own journey.

Peaceful travels on your journey to your happiest self!

-Kathleen Sprole

Still (and) Trusting – August, 2015 “One Moment Shifts”

This month’s SHIFT: “Still (and) Trusting”

Mindfulness encourages us to slow down, even to get still. This is essential in noticing our experience and practicing non-judgmental thoughts. When we are rushing around in the hustle-and-bustle world, competing with our coworkers and neighbors, on auto-pilot-life mode, we are too busy focusing on the goals to notice our journey or our thoughts about the journey. Slowing down, taking deep breaths, or at least noticing the pace of our breath and heart rate is a place to start.
For me, Mindfulness has been huge in changing my life, internally and externally. I’ve been an over-functioner from day 1 (ask my parents!) with an anxious, worrying, perfectionistic, critical mind. What this led to, other than never allowing myself to be happy, was me rarely to never being in tune with what I truly, genuinely wanted for myself. I was just “going along with it,” whatever seemed to be the most high-achieving option; academics, career, athletics, relationships, you name it. And of course, I was too busy to realize how terrible I felt some of the time.
Here’s why I am sharing that with you: I wasn’t trusting of anything. I was living from a mindset of lack (I’m not enough, this isn’t enough, I have to do XYZ or I’m going to be less-than or so-and-so won’t approve of me) and convinced that nothing would work out unless I somehow had my claws in it. In retrospect, I see how miserable this made me. At the moment, it seemed like the only way I could survive.
I learned of Mindfulness through academic studies. So I studied it. I read about it, I researched it, I talked about it, I wrote about it. I didn’t actually try Mindfulness until about 5 years later. It wasn’t even my choice as it was an activity in a class. But, I went along with it, and I got still. I paid attention to the contracting and releasing of my muscles as I breathed in and breathed out. I wasn’t judging my experience or others around me. I was observing my breath and my body, perhaps for the first time ever, and without any efforts to change it. This was the beginning of my Mindfulness journey.
What happened from there was a series of events, coincidences, or even synchronicities, that helped me to foster an attitude of Trusting. Instead of having to control everything (that isn’t actually in my control, or even by business anyway) in order to feel some sort of okay-ness, I slowed down and watched things work out. Some may call this manifesting, the Law of Attraction, or woo-woo.What I can say, is that the more I slowed down and was able to look inward to discover what I really wanted and needed, and eventually listening even more inward to a natural knowing of the next steps on the path, the more life has been working out for me. I didn’t become passive in my life (which was one of my fears!). I actually found that I became more active and assertive in what I actually wanted for my life. Furthermore, turns out the way I was living, “just go along with it,” was living passively.

If anything, it feels better. Controlling and worrying is anxiety provoking and it negatively impacts our mood, our brain, and our body. Trusting and allowing feels like a relief, like giant weights off my shoulders. I can actually relax, as if I’ve delegated the job of someone bringing opportunities to me and I trust them to do the perfect job. No need to micromanage. I just know what’s in the best interest for me and the world will come about; I trust my natural knowing with guide me and I move forward accordingly.
This has also helped me have more faith in myself and my capabilities. It’s become quite clear the many ways I’ve played small and lived from a place of fear and lack, a belief that I was never enough and neither was anything I had to offer. I enjoy reading Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our Greatest Fear” (see attached) and then the quote, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Not only do I trust that life is working out, I also trust myself. That’s gold to me.
What I’ve recently come to notice is how this is a cycle. Getting still helps me trust. Trusting actually helps me to get even more still, listen inward even more, have more compassion for myself and others. It’s full circle and it’s beautiful.
I do hope you take a chance on Mindfulness. Don’t take my word for it that you’ll feel better as you ease into slowing down, find your authentic self, live life purposely and powerfully, and feel happier and more serene. Try it yourself and discover your own journey.

Peaceful travels on your journey to your happiest self!

“Going With Change”

 “Going With Change”

This month I was asked to respond to “dealing with forced change,” when someone else makes a choice that then “negatively impacts you.” To be more specific and use examples that help illustrate points, I’m going to relate this to when someone makes a choice such as to end a relationship or your employment. However, the concepts will apply to any example we can think of when someone makes a decision that then negatively (or so it seems) impacts us.
Let’s start with some understanding and compassion.  Change is hard for our human brain. It is built to predict, categorize, seek familiarity. So when a situation that has been predictable and constant changes, our brain has a difficult time “computing.” Unknowns are challenging for our brain. Add in that we tend to predict negative outcomes (evolutionarily this was super helpful for survival), we can see how the message our brain sends when something changes without our permission, is, “This is bad!”
Despite our brain’s best efforts to keep us safe and focused on what is constant and predictable, the reality is that life is changing every moment. Small things and larger things are always changing. We have no control over anything external including other people and how they think, how the millions of circumstances we are exposed to have developed over years and years, the weather. Change is going to happen, and it’s going to happen constantly.
Using a mindfulness perspective, we can choose to mindfully observe how we are reacting to changes, the unfolding of the experience moment by moment. With a lot of mindfulness practice, this gets easier. For most of us, though, we get caught up in the emotions (fear, anxiety, anger) when change is happening that we don’t want and isn’t in our control.
So, how do we deal with unwanted change? We can look for silver linings. We can find the positives in the situation. We can list the pros and cons. We can think of the doors opening when this one closes. We can hang out with those that love us and support us unconditionally.
Sometimes, these still don’t make it easier to swallow. If that’s the case, doing nothing is a good option. Yep. Nothing. When our body is having a stress reaction, all sorts of systems in our body are wanting to react, “do something about it,” or “fix it.” When our emotions are making the decisions for us, though, we at times sabotage ourselves or make situations even more stressful. This is a good opportunity for us to practice being with our experience without judging it (good, bad, right, wrong, should, shouldn’t). “This is the experience. I don’t like it. I can accept that this is reality.”
Meditation can be helpful. (Reminder: meditation isn’t about making our mind absolutely quiet – it’s about observing our experience (our thoughts) without attaching.) Journaling can be helpful.
To dig a bit deeper, we can lean into trusting. Trusting that we are supported and that the Universe (please plug in whatever term/word works for you – God, Goddess, energy, love, Buddha, Elvis, etc.) has our back. We don’t have to understand it, or know how all of the circumstance that led up to this point in fact led up to this point, or even how it’s all going to turn out. Trusting also means that we trust that we have the resilience it takes to get through any tough situation and the emotions that go along with it. Trusting also means that we know we already, inherently, unconditionally, have an abundance of  love, worth, and value despite any external circumstances (relationships, jobs, material possessions). It’s all internal and has been there before we were born and will be with us until the end.
One last point until next time: The next step is going to be letting go. Letting go of what you had imaged for yourself (i.e., for a relationship, opportunities you were going to have in that job). And with this, comes releasing and forgiving. Releasing and forgiving is what sets us free from suffering. This is another One Moment Shifts topic in and of itself. If you’re interested in knowing more about this step, request that it be a topic in the next Shifts e-mail, check out the upcoming Power Series, practice sessions, and Women‘s Mindfulness Day retreat.
Change is tough. It’s how we choose to move through it that makes the difference.
Have topics or questions you’d like me to address in a Shift or a vlog? E-mail me and let me know!

Peaceful travels on your journey to your happiest self!

-Kathleen Sprole

One MomentCenter LLC
One Moment Center LLC embraces a mindfulness based approach to well being and self-discovery.
The time has come to be your happiest self!

omc.mpls@gmail.com
www.onemomentcenter.com
https://www.facebook.com/onemomentcenter
@OneMomentCenter
http://www.pinterest.com/onemomentcenter/

“Blend It”

 “Blend It”

This is the April, 2015 “One Moment Shifts,” monthly, e-mailed blog.
2 months ago I responded to a friend’s request to speak about mindful and empowering ways to handle when others “drag us through the mud.” I mentioned 3 steps we can take:
1. step out of the way of the attack (protect ourselves from physical, mental, emotional harm),
2. blend (with the attacking energy), and
3. redirect peacefully and return to balance.
I spoke generally about these in February, focused on step #1 in March. This month’s One Moment Shifts, I will focus on Step #2, Blend.

As in last month’s Shifts, I will remind us that Mindfulness does not promote passiveness or complacency. Mindfulness helps us to stay in line with our true morals and values. For instance, respecting ourselves and others, and compassion. Blending requires that we are in line with those values; we respect ourselves by compassionately removing situations that disrespect us. If you are not fully connecting with those values, take some time to get to know them and fully experience them.

Also, let me first say that this Shift is regarding situations where we are being talked about poorly, talked to in an attacking manner, or in a situation when we feel we are being “attacked.” This is not about physical violence. If you are in a situation where this is physical aggression, the information below will probably not be helpful. It’s time to leave the situation if it’s aggressive.
Blending can be a tricky concept.  But to get to the place where we can blend, we have to get to a place where we respond instead of react.

So, we’ve just been attacked (or at least we perceive it that way). It’s super easy to react with defensiveness. It’s great that we want to protect ourself, that shows that we have some compassion for ourself. However, reacting is different from responding. When there is a stressor (such as someone talking poorly about/to us), we can feel the physical stress response in our body, then we want to act (react) on it.

You probably know what this feels like for you. And you probably know the pattern of words and behaviors that follow. I know mine, and it sure hasn’t always been pretty!

The other choice, is to respond. Responding means we think before we act. And to think, instead of going into knee-jerk responses, we need to calm the body and brain. Take a few deep breaths. I personally find it helpful to say to myself, “breathe love (or compassion, or calm) into this situation,” as I breathe. Give it a try, see how it goes!

It can also be helpful to remind ourselves that if someone is saying or doing hurtful things, it is often related to their own wounds. Hurt people hurt people.
“The true mark of maturity is when someone hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.” – unknown

So, now for blending. Blending is when we join with the attacker. ‘Wait – what? Did I really just say blend with the person who attacked you?!?! Before you delete this Shift, hear me out!
In essence, we don’t get into the power struggle. It’s hard to play tug of war with just one person! Joining does not mean agreeing with, condoning, or placating. In this step, we simply hear the other person out.

This is where mindfulness can really be useful. When we are in the moment with the unfolding of an experience, and nonjudgmentally, we can really hear the message. Try not to think of what you want to say next, zone out and think about what you’re having for dinner, or pick apart every piece of “evidence” they have. Your only agenda here is to listen and understand their point of view, not judge.

Warning: Sometimes when we really hear the other person, there’s a life assignment in there that we are wanting to avoid. Perhaps there’s some truth to what is being said?

If possible, you can validate some part of what they are saying. “I hear that you are really annoyed and find my loud typing to be a distraction.” Again, power struggles don’t work when there’s only one player. When the “attacker” feels heard and understood, defenses often start to calm.

This is a bit easier to do when you can remind yourself that we’re all on the same team. Even if it’s a coworker that you really don’t like, or a family member that you find offensive to your values. Are there common goals you have with this person? If anything, we are all just trying to find our way out of suffering and into happiness.

Blending takes practice. We get better at it each time we try it. Even if it’s after the fact, we can imagine ourself responding and blending. We can imagine ourselves responding from a place of compassion and being on the same team. This starts the process of rewiring the brain, which will make it easier to call on next time.
Next month I’ll focus on step #3, redirect peacefully and return to balance. Until then, good luck practicing!
Have topics or questions you’d like me to address in a Shift or a vlog? E-mail me and let me know!

Peaceful travels on your journey to your happiest self!

-Kathleen Sprole

“Step Out of the Way”

 “Step Out of the Way”

This is the March 2015 “One Moment Shifts” monthly, e-mailed blog.
Last month I responded to a friend’s request to speak about mindful and empowering ways to handle when others “drag us through the mud.” I mentioned 3 steps we can take:
1. step out of the way of the attack (protect ourselves from physical, mental, emotional harm),
2. blend (with the attacking energy), and
3. redirect peacefully and return to balance.
I spoke generally about these last month, and this month I will focus on step #1., step out of the way.
To begin, I want to address an incorrect assumption about mindfulness. Mindfulness is not, and does not promote, passiveness. Rather, mindfulness helps us to be more in tune with our true values and morals, so that we can then make choices accordingly. Most of us value respecting our self and respecting others. If we were to communicate according to this value, we would be communicating assertively – I address my needs without disrespecting your needs (including the need to be respected). (If you are not familiar with assertive “I statements,” I encourage you to look this up and begin practicing them now!)
In addition, mindfulness practices actually change the parts of our brain responsible for feeling compassion for self and for others. We want to protect our self from harm, and that is truly compassionate.
We can also build compassion for the attacker. This might take some time and be a bit (or a lot!) of a stretch at first. Maybe starting with understanding that hurt people tend to hurt people, or that the person simply does not have the skills to be effective.
It’s super easy to focus on the other person and what they did wrong, how they are terrible at life, and how they should be the one getting dragged through the mud. But I promise you, that energy will not serve you. I encourage you to instead focus on yourself and any possible lessons that life is trying to show you through the unfortunate situation. There is always something to learn. If we don’t learn it now, it’s just going to keep showing up with a different person, in a different situation. Some times this includes looking at how the person came to the conclusion that they did about you; perhaps it’s time to change what we are doing. (This isn’t about justifying the others’ actions. This is simply about focusing on what we do have control over, which is our self.)
Okay, so all that being said, when we are in a situation that we feel we are being dragged through the mud or treated disrespectfully, step #1 is Step Out Of The way. This is what is respectful for our self, and respectful for the other person. We show our self respect by not staying in a situation that is harmful and causes suffering.  Stepping out of the way also shows compassion to the attacker. We are reducing the availability to act in a way that is hurtful to others (you). Hurting others is hurting your self.
A passive approach would be to continue “taking it,” even though it hurts(emotionally, mentally, or physically). Just because we have compassion for the person who is attacking us, that doesn’t mean we have to lose compassion for our self! We have enough wounds to heal, we don’t need more. Step Out Of The Way!
Acting aggressively (physically hurting, name calling, saying hurtful things, sabotaging the other person, passive-aggressively speaking badly of them behind their back) would not be in line with our values. I love the Dalai Lama quotes, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible,” and “If you can, help others. If you cannot do that, at least do no harm.”
It is okay to express to someone that your feelings are hurt, or that the action they took did not show respect for you. (Review assertive “I statements!”) However, getting caught up in proving them wrong, or trying to convince everyone else that the person who dragged you through the mud is the evil one, is really just getting caught up in the mud itself. Step out of it. Attacking back does not solve any problems. You just become part of their problem.
If you are not part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. Period.
So, when we leave the room when a conversation has taken a turn towards hurtful, or we leave a relationship with a friend or partner because the dynamics are toxic, or we simply decide to not feed into someone else’s muddy actions, stepping out of the way shows compassion to our self and is also living according to our values to respect our self, respect others, be a part of a solution, and do no harm.
One last comment: though I’m sure he wasn’t the first to mention this powerful reminder to focus on our self, a quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer is totally worth mentioning here: “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”

Peaceful travels on your journey to your happiest self!

-Kathleen Sprole