Tag Archives: shame

Sitting In The Yuck

“Right now, me saying “white people,” as if our race had meaning, and as if I could know anything about somebody just because they’re white, will cause a lot of white people to erupt in defensiveness. And I think of it as a kind of weaponized defensiveness. Weaponized tears. Weaponized hurt feelings. And in that way, I think white fragility actually functions as a kind of white racial bullying.” ~ Robin DiAngelo

Over the past 3 weeks, since the murder of George Floyd in the U.S., and the ensuing protests, I’ve been hugely disappointed at the level of my own ignorance on issues regarding racism, white privilege and bigotry in all its forms. The hundreds of stories of violence against black, indigenous and all people of colour (BIPOC), both in America and all over the world, have mostly sat on the outer fringes of my consciousness. I admit it took global protests to really capture my undivided attention (a perfect example of white privilege, as only someone not subjected to consistent violence/threats of violence and discrimination could be allowed to ignore its continued existence). Before that, I only knew basic “white-washed” history of slavery, apartheid, and the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s, along with the odd news stories of police brutality against BIPOC, such as the Rodney King beating in 1991.

I lived in West Hollywood at the time of the 1992 riots sparked by the acquittal of the cops involved in the Rodney King case, which was likely the main reason I was so aware of the story. I was living with my fiancé and his roommate at the time and I remember aggressively attempting to dissuade them from leaving the house during the riots because I knew damn well they were at a significantly higher risk of being assaulted and/or arrested by the police just for being black as compared to their white counterparts. So obviously, not too deep in my consciousness I was aware of racial profiling by the police.

I admit, I generally avoid the news as I find most of it sensationalised “info-tainment” designed to stir up negative emotions and cause divisive reactions as this is what sells. The media cannot be trusted to present unbiased, neutral facts. And with so much information swirling around to such a dizzying degree, it’s nearly impossible to determine fact from fiction, which I’m sure is part of the grand plan. Confusion and ignorance perfectly aids in the puppet-masters’ goals of world dominance.

I’ve spent many hours trying to educate myself on racism, white privilege and bigotry so that I may be able to uncover my own racist beliefs and prejudices which lay under my denial. As uncomfortable as this process has been (and I’m only just scratching the surface), I’m determined to overcome my ignorance on these issues and my participation in perpetuating racism and bigotry by remaining silent and not fully addressing my own behaviour and views. I don’t want to be just another fair-weather ally to BIPOC and other marginalised groups by posting the occasional story on Facebook and utilising the trending hashtag de jour. That kind of empty support will not create any real change and only serves to make me feel momentarily better about myself. I can’t be a racist if I support BIPOC, right…? Wrong!

As I continue my research by reading, listening to and watching the stories of racism and bigotry produced by people of all races, identities, cultures, nationalities and religions, I’m more and more being confronted with the question, “In what ways have I behaved in a racist and/or bigoted way and how have I benefitted from white privilege?”

The more research I do, the more I see how white supremacy has completely infiltrated and shaped not only my own attitudes and beliefs but those of all people, including BIPOC. It’s genius “cradle to the grave” conditioning going on in societies all around the world. The more awake I become, the more I am seeing the overt and covert racism and bigotry, along with varying degrees of micro-aggression displayed by so many of my own Facebook “friends” and other people I encounter. It has left me feeling hugely uncomfortable with the part I’ve played in it. Whether I was simply ignorant of the issues and manipulated by mass media reports or because I chose to stay safely silent and on the sidelines, makes no difference. I am still complicit. I can’t claim to be anti-racist or anti-bigoted if I’m not willing to call out racism and bigotry whenever I see it, both in myself and everywhere else.

What I need to really focus on is finding skilful means of calling it out in ways that encourage honest communication, as opposed to shaming others, which only leads to defensiveness and anger. As Brené Brown so aptly says, “The biggest barriers to acknowledgement of privilege [or racism] is shame. You have to reach out with love and curiosity… [but] speak truth to bullshit. Also, be civil when you’re doing it.” I admit that in my reactive state, I have just unfriended those who have posted things that I judge as racist or bigoted. Instead of engaging them in an honest dialog with the desire to create some real understanding between us and to learn another perspective, I’ve chosen the cowardly (and passive-aggressive) approach so as to avoid a potentially ugly conflict. This stops today.

I apologise for the following vocabulary lesson, but since I was mostly unfamiliar with the proper definition of these terms and how I have participated, consciously or unconsciously, in their application, I thought some of you may also be unaware of their definitions.

Covert racism is defined as: “A form of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, rather than public or obvious. Concealed in the fabric of society, covert racism discriminates against individuals through often evasive or seemingly passive methods. Covert, racially biased decisions are often hidden or rationalised with an explanation that society is more willing to accept. These racial biases cause a variety of problems that work to empower the suppressors while diminishing the rights and powers of the oppressed. Covert racism often works subliminally, and often much of the discrimination is being done subconsciously. Sometimes, it originates instead in discrimination against poorer segments that simply happens to disproportionately affect individuals by race.”

The definition of micro-aggression is: “A term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.”

I have never considered myself racist or a bigot. I have many friends from all walks of life. I’ve prided myself on being open-minded and non-judgemental of people who come from all different races, religions and cultures. But rather than hide behind this smug attitude, I feel compelled to peel back the layers and look for the truth, however painful this process might be. Rather than tout the ubiquitous attitude of being “colour blind,” I seek to acknowledge and celebrate the differences instead of pretending I don’t notice them. After all, isn’t it our differences that make the world more interesting? How boring it would be if we were all exactly the same…

I want to bring my awareness to where I hold subconscious racist and bigoted views and where my white privilege has benefitted me. “Sit in [my] yuck” as Nicole Cameron says. Let me be clear here, I do not seek your validation of my existence as a non-racist or bigoted person. I truly wish to uncover the nature of my views and where I may have unknowingly caused harm because of them. I don’t wish to burden anyone by asking them to school me on racism and bigotry, however, I do hope that some of you might be willing to take the time to show me what perhaps I can’t see for myself because of my “white veil.” I also hope that any constructive criticism you may wish to offer is done so with the intention to be helpful and a little compassionate. It’s certainly not my aim to offend anyone, but merely an aspiration to become more aware. Only from this place of awareness do I stand any chance of making lasting changes in my heart and mind and then maybe in the hearts and minds of others. As Brené Brown also says, “…perhaps a little hypothesis of generosity” for which I would be truly grateful.

Below are a several links to some interesting and thought-provoking articles I have found in the course of my research. Please comment below with any additional articles, videos, podcasts and books that you have found informative and helpful. My goal is to heighten my curiosity and awareness by asking the uncomfortable questions. I hope you’ll join me in this quest or allow me to join you in yours.

Namaste 🙏🏼

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/summer-2019/whats-my-complicity-talking-white-fragility-with-robin-diangelo

https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/tricycle.org/trikedaily/vow-to-end-racism/amp/

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/06/the-problem-with-being-the-black-friend/

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/06/we-cant-hide-behind-white-privilege-anymore-we-must-be-anti-racists-because-black-lives-matter/

https://itstopswithme.humanrights.gov.au/what-can-you-do/speak/casual-racism

https://onbeing.org/blog/courtney-martin-the-painful-and-liberating-practice-of-facing-my-own-racism/

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/06/i-am-black-this-is-what-i-need-what-i-dont-from-white-allies-nicole-cameron/

https://e-tangata.co.nz/history/the-land-of-the-wrong-white-crowd-growing-up-and-living-in-the-shadow-of-racism/

https://teara.govt.nz/en/anti-racism-and-treaty-of-waitangi-activism

https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2018/05/prisons/crime.html#/1

Broken

“There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.” ~Rumi

No words

Only tears.

Blind rage burning like so many fires.

Fear

Fury

Taking up arms to fight an invisible enemy.

Who is the enemy?

Accusations fly like a swarm of locusts.

Pointing fingers

Panic.

Us and them.

Who is “us?”

Who is “them?”

Right?

Wrong?

Justified?

Fight against!

All words of warfare.

Same angry faces.

World War 3 has begun.

Poisoned

Infected

Divided

Isolation….within our own minds.

A terrifying hell for some,

A sanctuary for others.

Uncontrollable tears as my heart aches.

So much suffering at the hands of each other…

From our own minds.

Moving like zombies

Trying to get back to “normal.”

What is this normal you speak of?

Rampant greed?

Hate?

Fear?

Ignorance?

Keeping busy to distract us from the screaming?

The Earth screams.

The trees, the oceans, the sky…

All sentient beings…screaming.

We’ve become deaf

As we cling to the silence.

The screaming too much to bear.

We’ve become blind

As we cling to the darkness.

Too painful to see.

I have no words of comfort.

I have nothing to offer.

Nothing changes as I weep.

I retreat back into the distraction of busy-ness…

I pretend I am not scared.

I pretend I am not running away from the truth.

I pretend I know what is true and what is false.

I built foundations rooted into the earth.

But there is no ground.

Nothing stays the same, yet I cling to same-ness.

Everything in transition.

Where are we going?

Why?

I am suffocating in this global rage…

This seemingly endless struggle against hate.

Am I alone in this?

It seems we are all gasping for air.

We are triggered as we watch a man begging to breathe.

We can’t breathe either.

There is a knee on everyone’s throat.

Shut up.

Stay home.

Be afraid.

Do as you’re told.

No sovereignty over our own bodies…

our own lives.

“They” know what is best for “us.”

Be good and follow the rules.

Work harder.

Think less.

Dumb it down with chemicals and denial.

Don’t ask questions.

Drink the Kool-Aid.

We are all in this together?

As puppets in a puppet show?

Who are the puppet masters?

I tell myself….

I am free to choose.

Love or hate?

Anger or forgiveness?

Sadness or joy?

Peace or chaos?

Light or darkness?

Perhaps I’ll lie down and take a rest here in the middle.

I am tired.

I cannot change the world.

I can only change my mind.

Namaste. 🙏🏻

Sanctuary in the Stormy Sea

“Through love all that is bitter will be sweet. Through love all that is copper will be gold. Through love all dregs will become wine. Through love all pain will turn to medicine.” ~Rumi

Throughout the Covid lockdown, I read about so many people world-wide taking this time to rest and reset. What a beautiful idea that was. Sadly, that was not an option for me. I have spent the past couple months just trying to keep my head above water. Seems every time I come up for air, I get hit with another wave of chaos and drama.

I try to rejoice in the negative karmic seeds being burned off, but have been unable to conjure up even a tiny bit of gratitude for this. I have mostly maintained my daily meditation and yoga practice but find I’m not with a single breath. I am truly thankful for all the blessings in my life, but am surprised by how easily the anger and sadness overwhelm me. I am applying every single tool in my toolbox that I’ve amassed these past 27 years and believe them to be the only reason I’m able to find the strength to get to the surface of the raging sea to catch that single breath of air before the next wave hits sucking me further underwater.

I have no sanctuary, no place to seek comfort. Even my home is under attack. Among the stress and betrayal I’ve endured, I now have to stand guard to protect my dogs against those that seek to seize and destroy them for no other reason than their need to win is greater than their capacity for kindness. I’m heartbroken to have given up my beloved Ruby, but comforted in knowing she is safe from harm. I’m on alert and every sound has me peering out from behind the blinds to see if the dog police are here to take my other fur babies away.

I know I’m suffering first world issues and have been mostly spared from the very real problems of senseless violence, severe poverty, starvation, illness and racial persecution.

I try to keep my pain in perspective by practising gratitude for my abundant life. I truly aspire to be of service to others, but, lately, can’t seem to find the energy. My sleep is poor, my stress levels are dangerously high, my blood pressure is often worryingly elevated, my vision is consistently blurred now and I have headaches that are sometimes debilitating. I don’t say all this to seek out sympathy. I say this because I’m genuinely fearful for my health.

I’ve been in survival mode for so many weeks now, I can’t seem to catch up on any real healing. My adrenals are long since worn out, despite my best efforts to support them. I’ve received so much wonderful advice and have really endeavoured to apply it, however, I’m so tapped out energetically that I fear one more helpful suggestion of something I “should” try will push me over the edge.

The most painful realisation has been how weak I feel, despite decades of spiritual practice, emotional work and just plain sheer will. How could I be in such a pit of despair when I have every tool and every advantage available to me? I feel ashamed, which only adds to the struggle.

Outside, I continue to present my stronger self, but it’s a lie. Inside I’m collapsing. The sheer weight that’s been heaped on my increasingly narrow shoulders is too great. This groundlessness has been difficult to embrace. Leaning in to the pain has long been my practice, but have I leaned in too far? Have I embodied the suffering so completely that now I can’t see a way through it? There is a numbness that’s threatening to form…. a well used survival tool from my past, along with anger – my old shield used to deflect overwhelming sadness.

I go out into the world and try not burden others with my pain. I laugh and joke instead of cry. I smile instead of frown. I try to keep my darker feelings to myself and engage all my energy in listening to others and how they are doing, but I fail completely. My self-centeredness knows no bounds these days. All the meetings, workshops, podcasts, yoga, meditation and breathwork inexplicably seems to only add to my anxiety. I’m truly bewildered by this. The warrior in me is wilting…

My mind knows that the sun is shining behind this black cloud. I know everything is impermanent. I know love conquers fear. I know getting out of bed everyday and continuing to do all the things I need to do to stay afloat are not a waste of time and eventually this too shall pass. I know that I matter and my value lies in my BE-ingness, not in my DO-ingness. I know that I deeply love others and that others truly love me. I know all this pain serves to strengthen me. I know I am fully supported by the universe and one day I’ll look back on this time as a time of great shifting toward my awakening. I know that I’ll one day be grateful for these opportunities to learn just how strong I truly am. I’ve said it before… a broken heart is an open heart. I know I’m feeling the depths of this pain because my heart is wide open.

However, this doesn’t ease my pain. I need this “knowing” to find its way into my heart.

I will resist the urge to shut down and go numb. I will strive to be fully present to everything as it unfolds. I will be vigilant against the dark thoughts and practice compassion for myself and others.

My salvation lies in creating a sanctuary… a bubble of love. I will continue to call in the forces of light to illuminate my path and show me the way through. I will remain open to healing and insulate from useless negativity. I will find the balance between opposing forces and walk the line. I will move through the discomfort of change, this shedding of the old skin that no longer serves me. I will continue to stand up to injustice and endeavour to protect the vulnerable.

I will call the cops on this pity party and find my bliss! In the meantime, please continue to send some love my way. I could sure use it!

Namaste. 🙏🏻💖🕉

My Bubble Has Burst!

“Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” ~Jim Morrison

For the past few years, during my meditations, I have been working with the imagery of me sitting within a vibrant pink bubble. Within my bubble I am safe and radiate love and serenity.

Whenever I am faced with an external situation that threatens to burst my bubble, I imagine the skin of my bubble thickening to withstand all the poking and prodding. This practice usually works a treat and I am able to return to my centre, to solid ground.

These past couple of months have been a huge test of my bubble strength. My bubble has been unmercifully beaten upon and last week, it burst…spectacularly!

I was thrust into a swirling vortex of pain, mistrust and uncertainty. The depths of the betrayal and vitriol was shocking and overwhelming. It’s not so much this particular situation that is to blame, but the wounds it uncovered of so many old betrayals.

I was genuinely surprised at the level of suffering I was experiencing. I’m usually able to pull out of a downward spiral before crashing to the ground by applying any one of the many tools I’ve accumulated over the years.

Intellectually I know not to take this recent event personally. I know that the behaviour of others is a reflection of their inner world and has nothing to do with me. I understand karma and accountability and always strive to enquire as to what my part is…. what the lesson is that I need to learn.

This time is different. Why? Perhaps because of my higher than usual levels of exhaustion and stress, and also the constancy in which I’ve been engaged in this particular issue has simply exceeded my endurance capabilities. I know everyone in the world is suffering to lesser or greater degrees than me and I should strive to be more grateful for all the blessings in my life. These are unprecedented times and we’re all in this together. Compassion and kindness are the keys to emerging into this New Earth.

Still….. I am overwhelmingly sad. I feel utterly betrayed and hurt, not only because of this latest punch in the gut but for all the times my heart has been broken. However, the level of deceit and manipulation in this latest trespass has been hard to accept. I feel stupid for believing the lies so easily. Who can I trust and depend on?

Beneath these feelings is an undercurrent of emotion that I recognise as ancient. These events have triggered an old storyline that tells me I deserve all this because I am unworthy of love, loyalty or even common courtesy… that I don’t matter.

I know all of this is untrue, but I feel as though it is. I know that feelings are not fact and that all of this is delusion. I know that the opinions and actions of others has nothing to do with me. Everyone is responding (or reacting) to their own inner storyline. I absolutely know all this to be the truth. So why do I feel so defeated, so beat up, so triggered? Then comes the storyline that tells me I’m supposed to be made of tougher stuff than this and I should be ashamed for feeling so low and allowing this to affect me so deeply.

What a palaver! How do I maintain an open heart and have faith in people when so many are simply untrustworthy? How do I remain vulnerable to some but protected from others? How do I began to trust again when my ability to do so has been so shaken? How do I know who has my back and who seeks to harm me? I’ve always believed I was a great judge of character, but I guess times like these reveal who people really are beneath their masks, their gushy platitudes and false devotion.

To maintain equanimity in such turbulent times goes beyond my capabilities at present. To be completely honest, I’m tapped out. My cup is empty and my heart is broken. 💔 My bubble has burst.

So, I’m calling out an S.O.S. to my loved ones, my soul tribe, the healers and the light workers. Please share your love and wisdom, not only for my sake, but for everyone who is suffering heartbreak, loss and uncertainty.

Namaste. 🙏🏻

Let Go…. A letter from my Soul

“I envy that Autumn, that letting go always seems easy and beautiful.” ~Vishii

As I lean into the sadness,

the despair, the struggle,

I allow my Soul to arise and speak…

“What are you here to tell me?” I ask, my voice trembling.

“I want to tell you that I am here… 

That I need to be seen, to be heard, to be felt.

I need to be acknowledged.”

“Opening my heart to you scares me,” I say, as my tears begin to fall.

“Do not run from me,” says Soul. 

“I am here to tell you that it’s ok to be afraid…

But the voice of fear is not mine.

Mine is only heard in the quiet space,

the space that dwells below the chaotic hum of ego.

I am here to tell you to allow all that arises to be,

but do not grasp it.

I want to tell you that you are safe with me.

You are loved beyond measure.

You matter much more than you realise.

My messages are meant to bring you home.

To show you where you are stuck…

Where you are holding when it’s time to release.

I am the voice of your heart. 

I am here to guide you back to that place of deep knowing,

to ease your burdens, 

to open your heart and mind to your infinite possibilities.

Do not resist me.

I mean you no harm.

When you feel alone…

When your life feels like a much too small dress…

When your words come out all wrong…

When you can’t breathe

and your heart feels like it is being squeezed so, so tight,

Let go.

Do not hold onto the storyline.

Those harsh words you say to yourself is not me speaking.

The unkindness you show yourself makes me weep.

Why do you doubt your place here? 

Your magnificence? Your preciousness?

Why is it so easy to believe your ego when it tells you lies?

This is where the struggle resides.

There is no struggle in truth…. only surrender.

Let go of the idea that letting go means loss.

It is with open hands that you are able to receive.

Create a new truth,

one that fits, that feels soft and flowing, like a silk dress.

Remember, a broken heart is an open heart.

Embrace your tears.

Compassion lives in your tears.

We are birthing a new Earth, 

a unique and beautiful consciousness.

We are healing ancient wounds, 

along with Mama Earth.

Go easy on yourself precious one.

Slow down and allow all that is emerging to weave through you…

Connecting you to your Source.

You are being gifted a fresh start…

a blank canvas on which to paint a different way of being.

How do you want that to look?

What does that feel like?

If it doesn’t feel divine, delicious, honest…

Begin again.

Don’t swim against the flow.

BE the flow.

BE the light.

BE the love.

Follow your bliss.

Please believe you are always fully supported by the Universe.”

Yours in love and service, your Soul

Love Meditation Offering

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

This love meditation, called Metta Meditation, is adapted from the Visuddimagga (The Path of Purification) by Buddhaghosa – 5th century C.E. and presented by Thich Nhat Hanh – a Zen Buddhist Monk:

To begin, sit still and calm your body and your breathing. Sitting still, you aren’t too preoccupied with other matters. 

Begin practising this love meditation on yourself (“May I be peaceful…”). Until you are able to love and take care of yourself, you can’t be of much help to others.

After that, practise on others (“May he/she/you/they be peaceful…”) – first on someone you like, then on someone neutral to you, then on someone you love, and finally on someone the mere thought of makes you angry. After practising the Metta Meditation, you may find that you can think of them with genuine compassion… 💕

May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.

May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.

May I be able to recognise and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.

May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving and delusion in myself.

May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.

May I be able to live fresh, solid and free.

May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.”

May this love meditation bring you so much bliss, you’ll breath it onto everyone you encounter today lifting their spirits.

Namaste 🙏🏻🕉💖

My Balance Checklist

For much of 2017, I felt drawn to the cocoon of darkness, self-reflection and solitude. During this period, a lot of sadness disguised as anger came forward. Another layer of old wounds was revealed. I followed the pain to see where it would lead. There comes a point where there is nothing left to do with it but put it down and leave it behind. There must have been something in the stars because a large percentage of social media blogs and posts were dedicated to this wave of pain and discontent. It seems a genuine feeling of angst was being collectively expressed all around the world.

So, here we are, a quarter of the way through 2018, and I still feel agitated a good portion of the time. I’m easily overwhelmed and quick tempered. I rapidly alternate between feelings of anger, sadness, restlessness and utter bliss like a toddler (or a woman going through full-blown menopause). I have developed strong aversions to toxic people and triviality. I feel a strong pull toward those that embody love and light and are on the path to awakening. My heart feels wide open to all the energy around me, which has been my goal for a while now, but the reality is tipping me off kilter. I know that practising patience and compassion will bring me back to centre and remove my aversions, but I have to say… it’s fricken hard!

I know from experience that I’m on the brink of a big leap forward in my awakening and am both excited and terrified of what will be revealed once all the dead skin has moulted off. What major life changes will take place? What will fall away and what will come forward to guide me through this next level? How will I integrate my old life with this new version of myself? I’ll be honest here, I find myself clinging to my old ideas and habits out of fear. I have gotten used to this way of being and the unknown brings up a lot of anxiety.

Balance will be essential and, as it turns out, that is my absolute weakest link! My greatest struggle in life is finding the midline. I’m far too stubborn to simply accept its location when told where it is. I have to go to both extremes before finding my way there. And even when I arrive, I doubt, question, challenge and push.

I know that I am 100% responsible for my suffering because I am 100% responsible for my mind. Mastering my crazy, wild elephant mind is my ultimate goal. Through this mastery comes awakening. I also know that although it’s important I don’t squander my time here strengthening the habits of anger and distraction, I must also cultivate gentle kindness and patience for myself on this journey. Again… much easier said than done.

So, my Balance Checklist going forward looks like this….

1. Speak up and tell the truth about how I’m feeling without worrying about how others are going to feel about my feelings. My job is to take care of my feelings and allow others to take responsibility for their feelings without taking it personally. I need to remember that not everything is about me.

2. Say NO to what I don’t want and YES to what I do want, without worrying about being labelled selfish. There are worse things than being thought selfish…. like, becoming so unbalanced I get hit with a catastrophic illness. If others want to make assumptions about who I am based on my choice to take loving care of myself, well, that’s just none of my business, nor my concern.

3. Slow the f*ck down! There’s no finish line. There’s no awards ceremony for those who die having the cleanest house, the longest list of accomplishments, the most money earned, being the most crazy-busy (often worn as a badge of honour as code for important and successful), or being the most well liked. Do one thing at a time and do it well; do it mindfully. Effective multi-tasking is a myth.

4. Put down the phone and connect and engage with the people right in front of you. Have meaningful conversations. Exchange ideas with an open mind and an eagerness to learn something new. Share your (often painfully) hard-earned wisdom. Stop engaging in silly dramas, negativity and tedious (and often hurtful) gossip. The best questions to ask yourself before speaking are: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

5. And most importantly, know that we are ALL doing our best at any given moment. We judge ourselves and others harshly for actions we feel are “bad” and “wrong,” however, we all make decisions to act based on the beliefs we hold in that moment. Sometimes, if we have a little self-awareness, we realise later we didn’t have all the true and relevant information, or were reacting to some old wound that this present moment triggered, or were simply being dishonest or selfish out of fear. Regardless of the reasons why we behaved poorly, in the moment, it really was the best we could do. And rather than wallow in shame and guilt, we can perhaps recognise a more skilful way to handle ourselves in the future and strive to do better. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When we know better, we do better.”

Namaste 🌈🕉

Healing the Hungry Ghost

When I am triggered to engage in an activity that is harmful to myself or others, to do the habitual thing that always leads to suffering, how do I refrain?

First, I need to identify the trigger. For me, it’s usually an impulse, a thought with a juicy, seductive nature that lures me in. I call her my hungry ghost. She wants poisonous foods, or to be angry, to be perfect, or to engage in a loop of negative self-talk and toxic judgement.

First, I need to pause and breathe; be an unattached witness; bring mindfulness in….turn to my star.

Where is my star?

My star is within.

What will bring me toward my star?

Being fully present.

What is my real need that’s not being met? What do I really want in this moment?

Be a witness…. What am I really feeling underneath the impulse?

I’m feeling bored, lonely, tired, overwhelmed, sad or angry.

Will engaging in this harmful activity really satisfy my underlying needs?

No, it never does.

What will satisfy my needs?

To feel connected, loved, purposeful, engaged, worthy.

How is feeding my ghost going to bring that about?

It won’t.

What is the inevitable result when I feed her?

The continuing loop of shame and self-loathing.

How do I break the loop, the habit?

Embrace my hungry ghost. Meet her with loving-kindness and compassion. Hating my hungry ghost only strengthens her power over me.

Be a witness. Be present. Take a moment to breathe and ask myself the questions above.

Then go do something else.

Take a walk, meditate, tell someone I love them, eat something alive with nutrients, get off social media and pick up that book I’ve been wanting to read, take a nap. Do anything that truly feeds my soul.

This is the practice to heal my hungry ghost. I vow to nurture myself this year and to find balance.

What is your vow for the year to come?

Blessings. 🌈🕉

Note to self….

Note to self:

This past year has kicked your ass, ripped you open

and left you bleeding in the street.

Fear has left you feeling unloveable,

unworthy and overwhelmed.

You’ve been unkind to yourself

and allowed anger into your heart.

You’ve been manipulated and lied to by your ego.

Forgive yourself for all the mistakes you’ve made;

for unfairly judging yourself and others;

and for all the times you didn’t stand up for yourself.

Forgive others, even when they’re not sorry.

See the best in people,

even when they show you their worst.

Believe in yourself.

You have been through worse times than this

and came through them wiser and more resilient.

Believe in others and risk being let down and hurt.

A BROKEN HEART IS AN OPEN HEART.

Remember….vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.

ARE YOU AN ADDICT TOO?

Definition of Addict (transitive verb):  to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.

Does this sound like you or anyone you know?  How about everyone you know? I’ve been clean and sober for over 24 years and throughout my sobriety I’m often asked about addiction. What I mostly hear from people is that they just don’t have an addictive personality so they can’t understand how addicts think or why they just can’t stop doing whatever it is they do that is destroying their lives. 

Now, this comes from people (assuming they’re people I know fairly well) who I watch on a consistent basis obsess about this or that.  I watch them give in to cravings, worry compulsively, constantly look at their phones instead of engaging the person in front of them, desperately cling to old, wrong ideas despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or repeatedly read news flashes that appear on their phones, even though it’s invariably negative and upsets them (with the excuse that they should be well informed). They spend enormous amounts of time making excuses, rationalising their behaviour by trying to blame it on someone else, they create drama, gossip, smoke, berate themselves and bite their nails or other fidgety, compulsive habits.  So this is what it looks like to not have an addictive personality?

As a self-confessed addict, let me share some of my addictive tendencies with you….  I repeat arguments in my head over and over and over again until I prove to myself I’m right, which includes negative self talk about my mistakes and failures. I will spend an hour looking for the smallest accounting error even though it doesn’t matter in the least.  Once I get started on lollies and biscuits, there is no stopping me.  In fact, you might lose a hand if it gets in my way.  Then comes the self-loathing when I’m feeling sick to my stomach after. Why did I do this to myself yet again??  I pick my nail cuticles and obsessively write to do lists and even include things I’ve already done so I can feel the satisfaction of ticking them off. I run, even when I’m injured or sick. Sometimes I imagine horrible things happening to my husband and kids and am wracked with all the suffering and fear those dark imaginings bring, even though it didn’t happen.  And I’m only scratching the surface, but I won’t bore you with all my crazy in one blog post.

I’ve spent the better part of my life researching, contemplating and meditating on why I do what I do.  It all comes down to one simple reason. I want to move away from whatever stress, pain or fear I’m feeling in that moment.  Not that I’m always conscious of any particular feelings, as I’m often on auto-pilot and just doing the habitual thing. But if I pause for a moment, after I’ve caught myself in any of the aforementioned habits, I invariably find that I am in a negative mindset. When I’m conscious, mindful and happy none of this behaviour surfaces. Simple as that.  The irony is, in our attempts to move away from our discomfort, our habitual tendencies only enhance it. 

I believe all human beings are addicts. We believe we are different than those “addicts” in the street because our habitual patterns play out differently, but we are all the same… seeking relief from suffering.  That is all addiction is: the desire for something that will help us move away from an uncomfortable feeling, wherein the attainment of that something increases, rather than decreases the discomfort, leading to more craving for something to bring relief.  It’s a vicious cycle. Pema Chodron, the Tibetan Buddhist nun defines addiction as, “Addicted to a firm and fixed view of ourselves (ego) and the world.” Whenever this fixed view is challenged, we cling tighter to our viewpoint, which only leads to more suffering.  And in that suffering, we engage in our addictions, whatever they are.

I’ve found that creating space in my life makes me more aware of my negative patterns, or addictions if you like. This space allows me to do something different than my habitual thing. By choosing a new way of addressing my discomfort, I create new positive habits.  It’s like the saying goes…. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of crazy.” 

I create space by being quiet.  I meditate every morning, which helps me develop the habit of stopping the mental chatter and just listening. This is my sacred time to touch base with my mind and cultivate a loving kindness toward myself and others.  I don’t look at my phone first thing in the morning.  In fact, it goes on “do not disturb” every night at 7 pm until 7 am the next morning.  Other people’s emergencies do not have to be my own.  Believe me, if there is a true emergency, somehow I always find out. Setting boundaries is another way I create space.  I don’t allow other people to fill my life with their drama. I take time to nurture myself by exercising, getting regular massages, meditating, doing yoga, eating nutrient dense foods and engaging in activities that fill my soul, like hanging with my family and friends, attending teachings, travelling, writing, reading, running and hiking, to name a few.  When I get too busy for self-care, which I confess is far too often, I’m a big grump!  Surprise, surprise. 

So, go forth and get in touch with your own inner addict and see what he/she has to teach you about yourself and the universe.  

Namaste.