Remembering Love (from IMCW Spring Retreat) – The habit of self-judgment not only causes emotional pain, it creates a trance that obscures the purity and vastness of our Being. This talk explores how a wakeful and forgiving heart can heal and free us…
A ‘quote*’ from Tara Brach’s meditation “From Story to Presence”…
“The reality is each one of us has caused hurt to other people and each one of us has been hurt by other people. But if we keep running the story of “You hurt me; you’re bad” or “I hurt you; I’m bad” all that happen is a looping that creates separation. What if instead we say the story is that I hurt you and we let that story be there, we don’t put it aside too quickly…
We let it be there and we feel what it feels like in our body. The very presence with that vulnerability awakens compassion. Now the trick — because this is where there can be more suffering is to take the story “I caused you suffering” and to get stuck on the “I’m bad, I’m bad, I’m bad”. We’re wedded to the story and we don’t have access to deeper presence…
So the pathway I am describing to you, and it takes a real sensitivity, is that when stories arise in our mind — to not to quickly go ‘it’s just a story, back to the breath’ because that is just another form of aversion and denial — is to let it be there a bit, but not to believe the story.”
She goes on to say “the story behind some of the more drama stories is really the story of Self. As we open to this presence, we wake up out of that core story that keeps us separate”.
You can hear the whole talk here:
*I tried to transcribe it as best I could; this is NOT an official transcription…
I have come to believe that the way the term self-esteem is used is actually a misnomer. The first half of the expression, self, would seem to indicate that esteem, the second half of the expression, is derived from one’s self. Yet if we look closer, we find that most people seek a sense of worthiness from that which lies outside of them. For a student, it might come from good grades; for a businessperson or worker, it’s derived from a promotion or a raise; and for most individuals, praise or acknowledgement provide a temporary increase in esteem. Our society generates billions of dollars in revenues from inducing people to seek the quick fix of vanity as a means toward feeling better. Yet none of these actually contributes one iota to self-esteem. Ironically, they may even get in the way.
Sometimes we fail to support our partners in becoming the best versions of the of themselves because we’re scared of what that means for us. What if he wants something I don’t want? What if her desire takes her away from me?
We fear if he learns to fly, he might fly away. So we hold our partners back, sometimes without even knowing it. This strategy always backfires – it ends up holding our relationships back, as well.
But there’s a way to feel safe enough to support your partner to fly, and why doing so will take your relationship to new heights of love.
If this poem resonates with you as well, here are two Tara Brach meditations on self-compassion that I’d like to share with you. “All I plead with you is this” she says “make love of yourself perfect”…
People usually wish they had higher self-esteem because they want to feel more confident and assured. But having higher self-esteem can do much more for us than simply boost our confidence. A variety of studies have begun to demonstrate that self-esteem can endow us with a layer of emotional resilience when we encounter common psychological injuries such as rejection and failure, as well as insulate us from stress and anxiety. The picture these studies are painting implies that in many ways our self-esteem functions very much like an emotional immune system.
Self-Esteem as an Emotional Immune System
Although experts are still debating what self-esteem actually is (defining such constructs is always tricky in psychology research), we do know quite a bit about what it does. In terms of its general behavior, our self-esteem fluctuates from day to day and sometimes, from hour to hour—much as our physical immune system does. When we’re having a ‘good self-esteem day’, we not only feel different about ourselves but we respond differently to stresses from our environment.
“Yes, we have these great ideals about how we’ve supposed to be [...] we don’t have to pretend that our irritablity is not there or compare it unfavorably with our ideal version of ourselves. We could simply take a breath and say, “This is how I am — this is anger, this is fear, this is irritation.” [...] In that regard I would like to read to you my new favorite little piece: “If you can sit quietly after difficult news, if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm, if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy, if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate and fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill, if you can always find contentment just where you are, you are probably a dog.”
We hear it all the time: Meditation can improve our creative thinking, our energy, stress levels and even our success. Prominent artists, businessmen and politicians cop to the practice. Would it work for you?
“It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body — it made it both stronger and more flexible,” said Dr. Hedy Kober, a neuroscientist who who studies the effects of mindfulness meditation, which she has practiced for 10 years, at her lab at Yale University. She admitted during a TED Talk that she started meditating to deal with a break up, but found that it helped her handle stress and unpleasant feelings in all areas of her life.
Studies show that meditation is associated with improvement in a variety of psychological areas, including stress, anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders and cognitive function, among others. There’s also research to suggest that meditation can reduce blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even cellular health. But what does it actually do to the body?
For most of my life, I have been a bitter, resentful, angry person. The story that I tell myself is that I came by it honestly. I’m a classic case of a person who suffered early childhood trauma around abandonment and rejection issues and much of my life has been spent in trying to get the people in my life now to make up for the things done by the people in my past. When this plan didn’t work [for reasons that are obvious to me now] I reacted with resentment and anger; first toward myself and then toward others… Continue reading →
I feel like I’m about to write copy for an antidepressant commercial. Are you depressed? Trouble sleeping? Find you can’t focus? Find you’re feeling down when you have no real reason to, and, in fact, anyone would think you’re insane for admitting it?
I’ve been struggling lately. And it’s a little overwhelming.
That’s what I have done. Or what I want to do. Try to put down some of my load: in a parking lot, in a blog post. Anywhere, really.
I suffer from depression. Or I have suffered. Which is it? Past tense? Present?
Let me be frank: I’m slipping a little lately. So is it present tense? Do I acknowledge it, then shift my thoughts, creating new mantras, such as, “I am happy! I am free of depression!” or do I sit quietly on this airplane and contemplate it?
What does that even mean — depressed? Is it something I’ve been told (yes!) or something I know deep in the labyrinth of my body, in my DNA (also yes)?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a certain sadness I could never explain to anyone: a dead part inside of me that made me pretend I was sick and stay home from school (even in kindergarten) so I could eat cream cheese and olive sandwiches and watch TV with my mom. During college, I would leave NYU during the weekends to go home to Cherry Hill, NJ, an hour and a half ride on the Peter Pan Bus, so I could be at home, safe from the slick world of New York City and from feeling anything except hunger. Perhaps that’s how I fell in love with anorexia; it allowed me to stop feeling such nothingness. I replaced nothingness with anxiety and hunger, but I no longer felt depressed.
The point is, my life is pretty great. I’m happily married. I’m successful. I’m healthy. So, what is it? What is this demon?