Saturday, October 29, 2011

One single flame burning softly in the night

I am one candle flame burning softly, brightly in the darkness. Bringing one flicker of light to you, especially for those I don’t understand. Especially for us. We deserve the love we crave. We deserve to be happy.

But no one owes it to us. We are all free to give or not to give, as we see fit. If I disagree with you, I choose to honor you in the process. I will not demonize and condemn – or at least I will try not to do those things. I choose to see the real you. I choose to hold you in my mind with compassion. This is what I bring to you every time I think on you, see you, embrace you.

This is what I choose to bring to us. I am one small flickering flame. I do not seek to devour you in my heat, only to share our warmth. I do not seek to change your mind, only to touch our heart.

If you add your light, we are more complete.

Chidananda roopah shivoham shivoham


Friday, October 28, 2011

Take care of YOURSELF!

Personal responsibility has been my theme this week. It keeps coming up in conversations, in Facebook posts and, dare I say, at three o’clock in the afternoon when I want to buy that sugary latte and muffin. Sigh. By the way, some days I DO eat the muffin. AND drink the latte.

But it’s more simple than just eating right, exercising, working hard, and saving our money. It’s more simple than honoring our obligations and responsibilities. It’s more simple than being aware of what’s going on in our families, communities, schools and government. It’s about taking care of ourselves. Like I said in my last post, we can’t save the world if we can’t solve our own problems. So self-care is the first step. Everyday and always.

But what about our families and friends? They need us, right? We can't be selfish and spend hours exercising and reading news articles and self-help books when we have children to bathe and houses to clean and work to do and friends going through rough times to help out, can we?

If we want to take care of our children, then we must take care of ourselves. If we want to help out our friends and neighbors, then we must help out ourselves. If we don’t, then we can’t take care of anyone else. If you don't sleep, for instance, your brain will begin to shut down anyways. Look it up. I'm not making this up. We could do ourselves or others some serious harm. We may think we can just keep on truckin' no matter what, but we will be off the mark and won’t be able to give it our best. And that’s what we need to bring to every moment of our lives – our best.

So what is our best? I can’t tell you that. That’s something each of us needs to figure out for ourselves. I might try to tell you that it’s finding balance, digging out the dark and negative in ourselves, and purging ourselves of want. But I don’t know if that’s right for you or what you need to hear right now. Maybe for some of us, it’s just getting out of the bed. For other’s, its taking a moment to stop complaining and figure out why we are bothered by others so much.

Okay, so we are each in a different place in our lives and need to take care of ourselves in a different way at any given time. So, what’s the first step? It starts with compassion and ends with a smile.

I was listening to a friend yesterday talk about a colleague who needed to be in control; so much so that she would give out assignments, then take over the tasks she had delegated. But it wasn’t the controlling colleague story that absorbed my attention; it was the compassionate and humorous way my friend related the story. Never once did she denigrate the woman. My friend related her frustrations over the situation with a twinkle in her eye and never turned it into a personal attack. She spoke from a place of compassion and light-heartedness. Actually, she lives her life from that place, and its one of the reasons I love and admire her so much. But I digress.

Or do I? How is it my friend can be this way with a woman who would challenge any one of us to maintain our good manners? I know that my friend is this way towards others because she has learned to be that way towards herself. She sees her own mistakes and foibles through the same compassionate eyes and doesn't take herself too seriously. She keeps her eye on the prize and has a good laugh over it.

Someone once said that transformation is not what happens in the future; it’s what we are doing right now.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-transformation, the Occupy movement and the American health care crisis. What I am hearing from the video clips, the news, the talking heads (that’s what I call the political pundits on TV) and the people I interact with every day is that there is someone to blame for (fill in the blank). We can’t self transform because we didn’t get enough love as children, and we can’t get a job because corporations are greedy and we can’t get affordable health care because the universities charge too much for tuition, the doctors charge too much for services and the insurance companies muck things up with their policies and procedures and PPOs and HMOs. I know that’s over-simplifying matters but it is the gist of it.

What I am learning in my day to day life is that I have no one to blame for my troubles but myself. If I didn’t get enough love as a child, then I need to work through the ramifications and give myself what I need –validation, love, and even a hug. If I can’t get a job, then I need to re-evaluate my job search process and skills. Is there something I can do to make myself more marketable; is there a career coach I could hire or have I simply set my sights too high? My first job after graduating from college was as a shift manager for a pizza joint, not exactly the perfect job for a secondary education major. But, I needed to pay the rent and put gas in my car so I could keep looking for the right job.

Ah, and the health care crisis. This one is very near and dear to my heart, as a wellness coach and yoga teacher. The thing is, I am ultimately responsible for my health. Again, I am not trying to over-simplify, because there are conditions and diseases that have little to no relation to our lifestyle. You don’t get multiple sclerosis from eating trans-fats or smoking. But, there are a lot of health conditions that could be dealt with through lifestyle choice. Obesity and Type II Diabetes is usually the result of a lack of proper exercise and too much or the wrong kinds of food. I could go on, but I won’t be obnoxious. I just want to put down the wagging finger of blame and start self-examining. Won’t you join me? It's not easy, not at all. Its a long, hard trail to hike, but we won't be alone. We can encourage each other. Maybe put all that enthusiasm and energy into transforming ourselves instead of blaming each other.

I cannot change the world until I change myself. Remember the line about the mote in your neighbor’s eye and the beam in yours? Work on yourself first, and the rest will follow. The health care and economic crisis wouldn’t be such a crisis if we all weren’t in such dire shape. And we're not going to solve the world's problems if we can't even solve our own.