Join The Mud

This month’s SHIFT: “Join the Mud”

This blog is from the February, 2015 “One Moment Shifts” – a monthly email that I send with tips on shifts in perceptions for a happier, healthier, more at peace life.

I was recently asked by a friend to speak on how to handle it when others talk behind your back, throw you under the bus, think badly of you, and you feel like you’re being dragged through the mud. My guess is we’ve all been there in some capacity and can empathize with the pain of this experience. So, this month’s One Moment Shifts is dedicated to this topic.

Before I dive into this topic, I just want to throw out a reminder that Mindfulness doesn’t “fix” anything. Rather, Mindfulness is about being present with the unfolding of our experience, moment by moment. Mindfulness is not about changing others, controlling the world, or manipulating. This includes understanding that we have no control over the brains of others (how they think of us) or what they do or say.

However, when we are mindful of ourselves (thoughts, emotions, urges, actions) we can be more effective in all of our interactions.

In MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a course in practicing mindfulness), John Kabat-Zinn discusses the practice of Aikido, a Japanese martial art, created by Morehei Ueshiba, to interact with others mindfully, assertively, and effectively.
This is from wikipedia: “Aikido is often translated as “the way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the way of harmonious spirit.”Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. “
Also, “Aikido training is mental as well as physical, emphasizing the ability to relax the mind and body even under the stress of dangerous situations.”
In essence, we can 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.

Over the course of the next 3 months I will speak more on each of these 3 parts. (Also, we’ll be discussing them even more in the March course, Live In Love: A Course in Relationships!)

For now, a bit on step 2: Blending. This step can be confusing at first, so we’ll stick to some techniques you can take away right now.
1. Reflective Listening: Truly hear the other person (mindfully! do not think about what you will say next or your judgments about what they are saying), and reflect back to them the essence of what they said. Ask for clarification if needed. “What I heard you say is that it is inconvenient when I don’t get tasks done and you feel uncomfortable addressing this with me because I sometimes respond with irritation. Did I hear that correctly? Did I miss anything?”
2. Validate: Let them know they are understood. This does not have to mean agreeing or condoning. “I really get how important it is for this project to get done.” “I am understanding how uncomfortable it is to be in your position.”
These types of techniques can help blend with the “attacker.” This helps to reduce defensiveness and bring you and the other to a place where re-balancing and peace can be established.

You may have guessed by this point, that these particular techniques require interaction with the person who is saying/doing things that make you feel like you’re being dragged through the mud. Yep, I encourage you (if it’s safe) to actually ask to talk with the other person in efforts to find solutions and a better way to move forward.
I would encourage you to first be mindful of your self – for instance any sense of helplessness, anger, or defensiveness that will not be helpful in “blending.” Mindfulness can help us to embody empowerment, resilience, perseverance, and to get in touch with our true values that will guide us toward health, joy, and peace.

As a reminder, nobody (NOBODY!) determines your value. You are inherently valuable. What others say and do is a reflection of their own sense of worth (even when it seems to be about you). It isn’t what others do, it’s how you react, that is most important to YOUR path and your journey.
“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
Side note but still related to “Join the Mud:” A currentAthena’s Circle participant reminded me of a Buddhist proverb, that the lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.
And I’ll leave you this month with a  quote by Thich Nhat Han; “If there is no mud, there will be no lotus flowers.”

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!

All for One & One for All

December 2014 One Moment SHIFT: “All for One & One for All”

Oneness is where it’s at. This topic is one of my favorites. It’s also a great lesson to come back to around the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and remembering the, “reason for the season.” When it comes down to it, our path to happiness is paved with the mindset of “all for one, and one for all.”

The importance of Oneness (the mindset that we are not separate, but all connected) is repeated throughout many religious and spiritual teachings. It is also at the core of the teaching of A Course In Miracles. (If you have not yet heard of ACIM, google it, you’ll like it!) ACIM is simply a course in mental and spiritual shifts that bring our thoughts back to love and forgiveness and away from fear. Don Miguel Ruiz also speaks of this Oneness in his book, The Fifth Agreement.

So here’s the deal, when we realize that we are all connected (through whatever makes sense to you – energy, nature, the holy spirit, the desire to be happy), we realize how we treat others is how we are treating ourselves. Take a minute to think about that. When we’ve had moments of being disrespectful (to someone we care deeply for, an acquaintance, or a stranger), we are also disrespecting our own values (to be kind, compassionate, do no harm). When I am mean to others, I abandon myself.

We also tend to treat others how we feel about ourselves. Hurt people hurt people. When we don’t love ourselves, we treat others in unloving ways. And this has a lot to do with Oneness. We are all connected. When one person is liberated to love him/herself unconditionally, this liberates others to do the same.

Taking this a bit further, we can think about how, if we are going with the theory that we are all connected in some way and that we are all truly One, then if I am unkind to someone I am hence being unkind to myself. Ya know, as if we are the same person ( or insert spiritual word here that is to your liking – spirit, energy, etc) in different human bodies (the vehicles that transport us around from place to place). When I hurt someone, I am also bruised (metaphorically).

I realize this is a perceptual shift that can bend the brain cells in ways that might impress cirque de sole. I invite you to “try it on.” The next time you’re feeling ill will or frustration about someone else, remind yourself of Oneness. I at times will say to myself, “The light in you reflects the light in me.” Find what works for you.

Plus, it just feels better when we are reminded how connected we are! We are all just trying to be happy and not suffer. You don’t have to believe me. Give it a try and see how it goes, and see what shifts start to occur for you.

If you’re diggin’ this topic of Oneness, perhaps try out a Loving Kindness Meditation.
You can find several guided Loving Kindness (or Meta) meditations on youtube.

Happy and safe holidays to you all!

Peace and love on your personal journey!

-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!

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Bring Strength to Weakness

November 2014 “One Moment Shifts,” Bring Strength to Weakness”

As we enter the Winter season, let’s take a look at our perceptions about our strengths, and how they can be applied even further for a more fulfilling life.

We all have inner strengths. My guess is you can name some of your own as you’re reading this. You can even think of ways your strengths help you with as a family member, as a friend, succeed at your work and in your hobbies. Maybe take a minute, pause here before reading further, and let yourself focus on that strength(s) and how it serves you in your life areas. As you breathe deeply, feel the strength as an experience that fills your mind and body.

It feels really good to feel confident in our strengths and how they helps us to be a better person and make the world a better place. We tend to really enjoy and find meaning in the situations and activities that utilize our strengths.

Here’s where the shift comes in: When we think of the areas of our life we see as our “weakness,” or the things we’re maybe not so great at, we tend to tell ourselves that we’re not good at it. Over time, what we think over and over becomes our beliefs. Though it may not be at the tip of our awareness, we make a lot of our decisions based on our beliefs, as if they are facts.

We can shift our perception of ourselves and what we’re not so good at by intentionally bringing our known strengths to the situation. Again, pause from reading this and imagine yourself bringing your strength(s) to the situation (that you see yourself as not so good at) and see how it might play out differently next time. Imagine how bringing the confidence that accompanies your strengths can benefit you in the situation you may not feel so secure in.

Give it a try in real life. You might surprise yourself with how awesome you are!

 Have a wonderful week!
Peace and love on your personal journey!
Kathleen Sprole

One Moment Center LLC
The time has come to be your happiest self!

“Communicate Gooder”

October’s SHIFT: “Communicate Gooder”

This One Moment Shifts is about using Mindfulness to communicate in a more effective (or “gooder”) way that helps us to be less stressed and have better relationships.
 
If you’ve read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements,” you know one of the four “Agreements,” is to, “Be impeccable with your word.” He encourages us to think about what we are going to say and how it will impact our self and others.
 
I would like to piggy-back off of this idea and encourage us all to be impeccable with our ears. By that I mean, let’s use mindfulness skills to truly listen to another’s words. Yep, the words. If you’d like a trusting, caring, understanding relationship (with your friend, partner, family member, boss, child, etc.) this is part of how we get there.
 
This is why I emphasize listening to the words. Our thinker (the thing in our skull that makes thoughts to make some kind of sense of the reality) is super good at making stuff up to make it fit the beliefs we already have. So the brain will take in what the other person is saying, then jumble it up to make it match something we are already thinking or believing.  We’ve all experienced this. We’ve said one thing, someone heard something completely different, or visa versa. It’s frustrating and at times really damages trust and relationships.
 
So, to communicate “gooder,” I encourage you to slow down and hear the words that are being spoken. Slow down enough to observe the meaning your brain wants to make out of the words, then imagine what it would be like to drop the story and assumptions you are making. When we can strip away the assumptions (including what we think s/he means with that tone of voice s/he’s using) we listen more clearly. Then, we can respond in an effective way, instead of a defensive and damaging way.
 
In addition, when we’re using mindfulness while listening, we can catch the brain focusing on what we’re going to say next, how s/he is wrong and I’m right, our to-do list, etc. Staying in the moment includes putting what is currently being said at the focus priority list. This helps the other feel important and understood. I’m betting you know how good it feels when someone expresses how important you are to him/her by him/her taking the time to truly understand you and your perspective.
 
This skill of listening mindfully and listening “gooder” can take some time, especially if we have years of experience listening mindlessly. Be gentle with yourself, catch your thinker telling stories and losing focus when you can, and bring your attention back to the words. You’ve got this!
Peace and love on your personal journey!
Kathleen Sprole

Put Down the Oars

“Put Down the Oars”

This is the April, 2014 “One Moment Shifts,” the monthly e-mail for those interested in tidbits for shifting perceptions to have a happier life. Enjoy!
A few years ago I attended a particularly memorable  meditation and Dharma talk at a zen meditation center. The message that day was about our human tendency to push, pull, force, manage, and control our ways through life and how this leads to (unnecessary) suffering. The speaker gave an example of canoeing in a river and paddling furiously against the stream, refusing to go with the flow of the river. I remember the speaker charismatically saying, “Just put down the oars!”
That Dharma talk was a great reminder for me. Dharma (our path) has a flow of its own. When I willfully refuse to trust, allow, and “go with the flow,” I am making a choice. For instance, when I try to control others by wanting them to do something sooner, going a direction in life or in a relationship because it will “look good” when my gut is telling me to abandon ship, or when I over-function to push down feelings, I am choosing to force, manage, claw, and push life around while kicking and screaming. I am choosing my frustration.
Just one quick story. This past year I tried something new: kayaking. My first kayaking excursion was a weekend trip paddling in a giant lake to different islands miles from shore. In essence, once we were out, there was no “calling it quits.” Midway through the second day, after hours of frustration and trying to make the kayak work in a certain way (and maybe a bit of crying), that I said out loud in exasperation, “This isn’t working!” I’m not sure who I was hoping would hear that, but something inside of me did. “You’re absolutely right, that isn’t working,” seemed to be the all too cool, calm and collected response. It hit me: I can’t make the water or boat do anything. My paddles are there to guide me along and help steer, not to change nature. I can choose to work against it (and continue to feel frustrated, angry, defeated) or I can start working with nature, allowing my paddles to gently move me over the waves in rhythm. I will just say, the rest of the trip went  much more smoothly.

We have a choice. Water, like life and dharma, is forceful and we can’t change it’s direction, but we always have the choice to try to change it or work against it. We have free will. Thing is, it’s lot of energy to try! When we feel lost and like we’re trying too hard, there’s a good chance our intuition is telling us just that; we’re lost and trying too hard. This is a good time to, “put down the oars,” and listen inward. Our intuitive voice will never steer us wrong, and whatever we really need will come to us exactly when we need it. The Universe (source energy, God, Goddesses, Buddha, Elvis, whatever) is good like that.

Happy Spring and good luck paddling your river!