SC Group May 1 2018

SELF-CARE, SELF-COMPASSION

DISCUSSION & SUPPORT GROUP

MAY 1, 2018

 

There’s this moment…

So complete within itself

So full

Of sounds and feelings and thoughts

And then it is gone –

In a flash!

To be replaced

By the next.

 

One moment

Is so full.

Yet I act as if there is always something missing.

As if there is nothing there at all.

Something I keep looking for

And never find.

 

I do remember somewhat

Being a child

And feeling those moments,

seeing those moments,

revelling in those precious moments.

I lived in the now

Back then.

It was all I knew.

 

I heard the wind in the poplar trees

Outside my bedroom window.

Oh, what comfort they gave me

In the midst of my pain.

The feel of the  hot humid air

In summer

And how restless it made me feel.

As if moving my body

Could move the wind

And cool me off.

 

But now

These moments have been tainted

By thoughts I do not want to have.

By worries and fears,

Catastrophes and tragedies.

These are my moments now.

 

And worst of all,

These precious moments,

I sometimes find boring,

I sometimes find wanting.

How is it that I have turned away

From the absolute wonder,

The gift of only

This very moment?

 

Now I am working my way back …

To a time when moments seep in,

Get under my skin and

Sink into my flesh.

 

Now I am moving towards

The next moment

Anticipating the trivial and minute humming

Of the every day.

 

The ticking of the clock,

The singing of my fridge,

The feel of my breath

All release me

Into this moment.

 

Now

I am here

And I am free.

And this moment

Is all that matters.

 

This is the ordinary

Turned into extraordinary.

 

Caer Weber

 

 

SWEAT LODGE

This week my co-facilitator A. told us a ‘story’. He told of his first and profound experience in a sweat lodge on the weekend. He described some of the things they did, such as praying for the women and men in their lives, then for themselves. There were also chants and songs and it was very hot. It was a wonderful story to listen to and hear how much the experience affected A. and in such a deep and beautiful way. Thank you.

 

 

 

May we all be safe, free from harm or harmful thoughts.

May we all be happy and healthy and have all of our needs met.

May we all live with ease, accepting each moment with equanimity,

neither resisting and rejecting the moment,

or attaching and grasping at the moment.

May we all see our problems as opportunities for learning and growth

Rather than hardships and pain.

May we all be liberated from our suffering.

 

 

Caer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

SC Group April 24 2018

SELF-CARE, SELF-COMPASSION

DISCUSSION & SUPPORT GROUP

APRIL 24, 2018

It is important to be clear at this point what we mean by wishing our enemies well. Matthieu Ricard has pointed out that if we are confronted by a tyrant or torturer, or somebody who is doing harm, then this is not about wishing them to be happy by continuing with their bad behavior. Instead, compassion is wishing that the root cause of what is driving them to behave in destructive and harmful ways would cease. It is also based on the wisdom that cultivating anger and hatred toward an enemy hurts us and does not address the root cause of the situation.

Paul Gilbert, Mindful Compassion

 

READING: CARING FOR OTHERS – Difficult Person

From: The mindful path to self-compassion by Christopher Germer

Summary:

  • This is continuing the concept of practicing loving-kindness, or metta, meditation and we focus on others instead of ourselves.
  • It is best to start with ourselves – May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. Then move onto others.
  • We start with the easiest first – Benefactor – someone (e.g., friend, pet) or something (e.g., in nature) that makes you consistently smile; onto Friend – someone with whom you feel trust, gratitude and mostly positive feelings; Neutral – someone you don’t know and neither like or dislike (e.g., someone you see regularly in your neighbourhood); Difficult – someone who has caused you pain or toward whom you have negative feelings

Whereas the neutral person is an exercise in breadth, the difficult person is an exercise in depth. We need to drop to a deeper place within ourselves to evoke and sustain loving-kindness toward those who’ve hurt us. Difficult people are therefore our “best friends” on the path of loving-kindness.

To begin with, choose a person who is mildly difficult, not a person who has hurt you badly or who is causing massive hardship on the world stage. Let it be someone you feel comfortable enough visualizing in meditation. Give yourself credit for taking on this challenge. It reflects your commitment to bringing loving-kindness to all aspects of your life.

You may have the following thoughts as you work with difficult people in your life:

  • I don’t want my difficult person to be happy. Then he (or she) won’t change!” When we offer a difficult person loving-kindness, we’re not accepting bad behavior or hoping the person will escape the consequences of his or her actions. Rather, we’re wishing for the person to become a happy, peaceful human being. It may help to make the phrases more credible to your ear, such as, “May [Michael] heal his inner wounds and find the way to happiness.” Your difficult person might change for the better when you have a warmer attitude, but try not to make your practice contingent upon his or her behavior.
  • I don’t even want to think about my difficult person!” Most people instinctively wish that their difficult person would just disappear or die. There’s a Tibetan saying: “Don’t bother wishing your enemies will die; they’ll do that anyway!” If you’re having strong feelings of aversion and they don’t subside, switch to a less difficult person. Also, don’t feel obligated to feel the presence of the difficult person while doing metta mediation, as you would the benefactor, it it’s too uncomfortable. Work with the phrases so you feel at ease and loving-kindness prevails. You might prefer the emotional distance of using a person’s proper name – “May [John Doe] find inner peace …” – rather than an informal pronoun. “May you be …” Finally, you can always take refuge in the company of your benefactor (or your own company) whenever you wish.
  • I spend too much time giving loving-kindness and compassion to myself!” That’s impossible. Don’t worry if your meditation on the difficult person is 95% self-metta. Working with disturbing emotions (“backdraft”) can comprise the majority of metta practice with difficult people. The more pain you feel, the more self-care you’ll need. Sometimes it helps to put your hand on your heart and slowly breathe through your heart to get the feeling of self-compassion.
  • Can’t I start by tackling the toughest character in my life first?” it’s usually best to take a middle path – someone not too hard and not too easy. With steady practice, even the most difficult people will lose their grip on you. Use your intuition to decide whether the most difficult person will derail you from the task of generating loving-kindness.
  • We’re both good people, but the relationship is a pain.” You can care for the relationship as an entity, not just the participants as separate individuals. A relationship is a “we.” Loving-kindness toward a relationship assumes you have made peace with yourself and the other person already. It’s a slightly advanced practice. When you’re ready, you can practice by saying “May we be safe. May we be happy…”
  • What if our culture is the ‘difficult person’?” Emotional pain is often embedded in social problems, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of prejudice. These can also be addressed in your metta phrases: “May you and I be free from the pain of prejudice.” Since prejudice is the result of ignorance, you can also try the words “May we all be free from the pain of ignorance.” Both sides of the bigotry equation avoid one another to feel safe or more comfortable. The inner work of loving-kindness and compassion practice can start the process of humanizing and reconnecting with one another

 

May we all be safe, free from harm or harmful thoughts.

May we all be happy and healthy and have all of our needs met.

May we all live with ease, accepting each moment with equanimity.

May we all be liberated from our suffering.

 

Caer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SC Group April 17 2018

SELF-CARE, SELF-COMPASSION

DISCUSSION & SUPPORT GROUP

APRIL 17, 2018

 

The sea, rains, necessity, desire, the struggle against death –

These are the things that unite us all. We resemble one

another in what we see together, in what we suffer together.

Dreams change from individual to individual, but the reality of the world

is common to us all.

 

Albert Camus, Create Dangerously

 

Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.

Miller Williams, Compassion

 

READING: CARING FOR OTHERS from Christopher Germer’s book the mindful path to self-compassion

 

METTA FOR OTHERS

There are traditionally six categories of people with whom we train ourselves in the art of loving-kindness. The trick is to start with an easy target, reinforce the loving-kindness habit, and work up from there.

 

  1. Self – your personal identity, usually located within the skin.
  2. Benefactor – Someone who makes you consistently smile, such as a mentor, a child, a spiritual guide, a pet, or a piece of nature.
  3. Friend – A supportive person toward whom you feel trust and gratitude and have mostly positive feelings.
  4. Neutral – Any living being whom you don’t know and therefore neither like nor dislike.
  5. Difficult – Someone who has caused you pain, or toward whom you have negative feelings.
  6. Groups – Any group of living beings, for example, everybody listed above, everyone in our home, workplace, or city.

 

Benefactor

This category starts the process of paying careful attention to another person. The benefactor is someone who puts a smile on your face and warmth in your heart. It could be a beloved teacher, a spiritual guide, a child, a pet, or something you love in nature. Pick a relationship that’s least likely to disappoint you later on – someone or something that makes you consistently happy.

 

LOVING OTHERS WITHOUT LOSING YOURSELF

When Me? When Others?

… Compassion is a kindly response to pain. You can practice compassion for your own pain, for the pain of others, or for the pain you feel when others are in pain. Just think how you feel when images of burning homes, disemboweled bodies, and malnourished children are beamed into your home on the television. The evening news is a great opportunity to practice metta (loving-kindness meditation). Stay mindful of your inner state (“this is painful to watch!”) and offer compassion to yourself and those on the screen (“May I be safe. May you be safe. May we all be safe and live in peace.”) …

 

The most natural time to practice loving-kindness toward others is when you’re genuinely happy – when you have loving energy to spare. It’s easy to wish happiness for others when we’re happy. You’ll feel even greater happiness when you do so, perhaps because you’re temporarily escaping the prison of your individuality by thinking of others. But timing is everything; when emotional resources are low, its still best to focus on yourself.

 

 

May we all be safe, free from harm or harmful thoughts.

May we all be happy and healthy and have all of our needs met.

May we all live with ease, accepting each moment with equanimity.

May we all be free from suffering.

 

Caer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SC Group April 10 2018

SELF-CARE, SELF-COMPASSION

DISCUSSION & SUPPORT GROUP

APRIL 10, 2018

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Carl Sagan

 

As far as I can see, this is a place where imperfect beings come. 

I think the perfect ones go someplace else.

My co-facilitator

 

A REMINDER ABOUT GIVING ADVICE

I noticed this week that our group was giving out some advice in the form of ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ to a group member. It’s so easy to do and it means that we really want to help someone in a time of distress. That’s our compassion at work. However, our Group Agreements stress that we not do this. I don’t think any of us know enough about anyone else in the group to give the best advice. There’s so much background to each of us and so much we can’t possibly understand about someone’s situation in the context of these weekly meetings. I even try to refrain from giving my best friend advice about his life even though I know so much about him. I prefer to trust that he will do what he really needs to do and I will support him in this.

I have slipped into this ‘should’ mode many times with people and I regret it. I know that I really wanted to help and thought that if only the person did this or did that everything would be alright. But it’s never that simple. We are complicated beings with complicated lives.

A suggestion: If you find yourself really wanting to ‘should’ someone, see if you can step back and just be aware of your own feelings as this person tells you of their struggle. Perhaps you are feeling a little of their pain and really want to not feel it, so you offer a ‘quick fix’. Just do this and everything will be alright. Nuh uh. It doesn’t work that way.

Do you remember a time when someone ‘shoulded’ you and what it felt like? I know, for me, there’s a feeling of ‘you don’t know me, or my situation that well’. I don’t like people telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. I want to be seen as the expert on my own life. And … most of all, I simply want to be acknowledged, heard and my feelings validated. I don’t need to be told what to do.

So, instead, you can let the person know how much you feel about their situation and that you wish you could help. Focusing on validating someone’s experience can be the most helpful thing of all. “Yes, I hear that this situation is really difficult for you. I think that if I were in your shoes I would want to wait before I make any decisions. However, I am not you and I don’t know the best thing for you to do. I am simply here to listen and acknowledge your suffering.”

 

READINGS THIS WEEK: We are continuing to read from the mindful path to self-compassion by Christopher K. Germer. This is the book we are using as a ‘model’ for this group.

 

CARING FOR OTHERS: THE WAY OF CONNECTION

Briefly …

 

  • In this chapter, you’ll learn a systematic method for transforming your relationships with others, based on respect and care for yourself. … you’ll learn here how to keep yourself in the picture even in the midst of intense and conflicting demands by other people.
  • Changing our relationships to the people in our heads is the first step toward working with them in real time.
  • Transforming relationships with others starts with us; it’s an inside job.
  • Negative feelings toward others tend to separate us from ourselves and from others – they trigger aversion.

 

… The connection element of loving-kindness practice becomes particularly apparent when we direct our attention toward others. It soothes the pain of disconnection.

 

Most people don’t appreciate the role of connection in their lives. It’s invisible. As my friend and colleague Jan Surrey explains, connection has an ebb and flow – we continually connect and disconnect – but we’re usually too preoccupied by our families, jobs, and other responsibilities to notice. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel it. Disconnection hurts. A disconnection can be subtle, such as when your partner falls asleep before you do, or it can have the devastating impact of marital infidelity or abuse.

 

Usually disconnection occurs under the radar. It may show up as irritability, self-doubt, worry, or sadness. When you feel lonely and disconnected, a colleague at work can become irresistibly sexy, especially while you are both working late at the office, or you may consume too much food, spend a lot of time shopping, surf the Web looking for love, or drink too much. That’s when you should follow Jimmy Carter’s advice and look for “the things you cannot see.” Is disconnection what’s really making you anxious? Angry? Sad? Sexually aroused? Do you feel like your old self when your spouse returns from a business trip? Or does your mood get worse because you feel more disconnected in the company of your partner?

 

Disconnections are inevitable, even in the best relationships. We’re all incompatible to some extent. That’s easy to imagine because we have different DNA, our childhood experiences are different, and we live (or lived) in diverse economic, racial, ethnic, and gender groups. Our dreams continually collide with those of others. Therefore, every relationship includes the pain of disconnection.

 

Yet at the deepest level, way beyond ordinary awareness, we’re all woven into the same cloth. Thich Nhat Hanh, a prominent meditation teacher, illustrates this point in a lovely way:

 

“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent on the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. Let us think of other things, like sunshine. Sunshine is very important because the forest cannot grow without sunshine, and we as humans cannot grow without sunshine. So the logger needs sunshine in order to cut the tree, and the tree needs sunshine in this sheet of paper. And if you look more deeply … you see not only the cloud and the sunshine in it, but that everything is here, the wheat that became the bread for the logger to eat, the logger’s father – everything is in this sheet of paper. … The presence of this tiny sheet of paper proves the presence of the whole cosmos.”

 

The astronomer Carl Sagan echoes this vision: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

 

Feeling separate from others is at odds with our deepest sense of self. That’s why it hurts. It would be blissful indeed to have an unbroken sense of connection with one’s children, one’s partner, all of one’s friends, and with all people of different races, cultures, ages, and sex, and with all living creatures, no matter how much their survival needs compete with ours.

 

In the words of Albert Einstein:

 

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us ‘universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

 

Is that possible? Well, sort of. We can feel connected even in the midst of disconnection by not abandoning ourselves in moments of pain. For example, it takes a lot of self-awareness and self-confidence to admit to oneself, after being snubbed by a boyfriend, ‘He’s just not that into you!’ By not dodging what we’re feeling inside, we can continue to look others straight in the eye.

 

 

 

TED Talk – on why we need to practice emotional first aid

https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene?utm_source=tedcomshare&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tedspread

 

 

WOEBOT

https://www.woebot.io/

Want ‘someone’ to talk to? Want to make use of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to help change your negative thoughts into more useful and often more positive ones? One group member highly recommends this app.

 

 

To live means to die with every heartbeat and with the next one to be born anew: with every breath to breathe out what is old and to breathe in what is new.  This demands courage.  The courage to let go.  Growing is dying into greater aliveness.

Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SC Group Apr 3 2018

SELF-CARE, SELF-COMPASSION

DISCUSSION & SUPPORT GROUP

APRIL 3, 2018

 

…through connection with others we become free.

Thupten Jinpa, A Fearless Heart

 

READINGS THIS WEEK: From the mindful path to self-compassion by Christopher K. Germer. This is the book we are using as a ‘model’ for this group. First, we returned to some earlier chapters in his book, then onto the chapter we are currently focusing on, caring for others.

CARING FOR OURSELVES: BACKDRAFT

When a fire is deprived of oxygen, it will explode when fresh air is introduced through an open door. Firefighters call that “backdraft.” A similar effect can occur when we practice loving-kindness [or metta – May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease]. If our hearts are hot with suffering – self-hatred, self-doubt – when we begin to practice, sympathetic words can open the door of our hearts, causing an explosion of difficult feelings. Those feelings are not created by metta practice; we’re simply recognizing and feeling them as they go out the door. It’s part of the healing process.

 

CARING FOR OURSELVES: OFF THE CUSHION

Loving-kindness [or metta] practice takes place primarily in daily life – off the cushion or the couch. Not everyone has the temperament or the time for formal sitting meditation. If you have to make a choice between formal and informal practice, better to practice as often as possible during the 16+ hours that you’re engaged in daily life. Most people don’t need to do formal metta meditation to benefit greatly from the practice. Every moment of loving-kindness is brain training[1], no matter what posture you’re’ in.

My co-facilitator added:

You should remember that the brain develops a habit of doing whatever it’s doing. … We’re reinforcing the intention to be loving and compassionate when we practice metta meditation.

You can work with the phrases anytime, night or day.  I like to repeat the metta phrases informally for a few minutes before I go to sleep and again when I wake up.  In the ancient text of the Visudhimagga, it’s said that metta leads to sound sleep and nice dreams and also makes the practitioner dear to others.  That’s not hard to understand.  Our dreams are more likely to be peaceful if we go to sleep without fear or anger, and people will find it difficult (though not impossible!) to dislike us if we genuinely appreciate them.

OFF THE CUSHION cont’d

… The last two verses of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Kindness read:

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

You must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

Catches the thread of all sorrows

And you see the size of the cloth.

 

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

Only kindness that ties your shoes

And sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

Only kindness that raises its head

From the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

And then goes with you everywhere

Like a shadow or a friend.

 

A heart open to sorrow may seem like a frightening prospect, but compassion can become a constant, loving companion – a palpable presence through tough times. If you notice a hurt, perhaps an experience of failure, disappointment, or rejection, say softly to yourself, “May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease.”

There’s a close association between self-compassion and self-forgiveness. Forgiveness is essential in life because we make mistakes all the time. Sometimes we’re put into impossible situations where people get hurt even when we do the right thing: a boss who has to fire an employee who is undermining morale, for instance, or a mother who has to stop giving money to her drug-addicted son. How do we forgive ourselves when we cause others pain, knowingly or unknowingly? The first step is to keep our hearts open to our own remorse rather than deflect it with anger or self-justification. Then we respond compassionately to ourselves, in words or deeds.

 

CARING FOR OURSELVES: WHAT METTA IS NOT

[Sometimes we hear members of the group call the Loving-Kindness, or Metta, practice a mantra. Here is what Germer says. Caer]

  • Just a mantra. Although the metta phrases are repeated like a mantra, there’s more to it than that. In addition to using the power of attention, metta works with connection, intention, and emotion. We’re doing whatever it takes to cultivate a loving attitude.

 

CARING FOR OTHERS: THE WAY OF CONNECTION

Briefly, from last week,

  • In this chapter, you’ll learn a systematic method for transforming your relationships with others, based on respect and care for yourself. … you’ll learn here how to keep yourself in the picture even in the midst of intense and conflicting demands by other people.
  • Changing our relationships to the people in our heads is the first step toward working with them in real time.
  • Transforming relationships with others starts with us; it’s an inside job.
  • Negative feelings toward others tend to separate us from ourselves and from others – they trigger aversion.

 

THE WAY OF CONNECTION

Loving-kindness [or metta] meditation has four healing elements: intention, attention, emotion, and connection. Boosting our core intention (“May all beings be happy”) brings energy and meaning into our lives, focused attention calms the mind (“Return to the phrases again and again”), positive emotions (compassion, love, tenderness) make us happy, and connection makes us feel more peaceful and secure (less alone, less afraid, with a sense of common humanity).

 

CBC RADIO – TAPESTRY

My co-facilitator includes this link to last Sunday’s program.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/pulitzer-prize-winner-marilynne-robinson-s-philosophy-of-a-good-life-1.4595094

 

May we all be safe, free from harm or fearful thoughts.

May we all be happy and healthy and have all of our needs met.

May we all live with ease, accepting each moment with equanimity.

May we all be free from suffering.

 

Caer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Remember Rick Hanson. He talks about the neuroplasticity of our brains, how we can change our minds/brains by focusing heavily on positive experiences. [Caer]

 

SC Group Mar 27 2018

SELF-CARE, SELF-COMPASSION

DISCUSSION & SUPPORT GROUP

MARCH 27, 2018

Here is the reading from Tuesday as well as some extras.

The Secret Strength of Depression – Frederic Flach

“[Depression] can be an adaptive response to certain situations”

Just had to include this quote. We were talking about depression and acceptance of being in a severe depressed state.

“Any event or change in our lives that forces us to break down some of our defenses, for whatever reason, is going to be painful. To experience acute depression is an opportunity for us not just to learn more about ourselves, but also to become more whole. ‘Falling apart’ not only affords us a chance for insight, but it can accelerate the process of reordering one’s life after a serious stress…. Becoming depressed is an inevitable concomitant of letting go – of a person, a position, a piece of oneself. The greater the attachment, the more involved it is with one’s self-esteem and dependency needs, the greater the reaction will be.”

 

READING: the mindful path to self-compassion – Chris Germer

This week we returned to Germer’s book. When we began in June 2017 my co-facilitator and I intended this book to be our basic model for the group. We read several of the chapters in group sessions then left it because Germer began talking about caring for others. However,  we thought that at this point many people in the group needed more help in caring for themselves. Many thought that having compassion for others was much easier.

So, now we turn to this chapter, not because we are all having a lot easier time with self-compassion but because our relationship with others is also critical part of our lives and affect our well-being. We have spent a great deal of time on self-compassion and understanding it. For the next little while we will focus on this chapter, caring for others,  and in particular doing loving-kindness meditation for others. We are going to break this chapter into segments, so we can all work through this process step-by-step.

 

CARING FOR OTHERS – PART 1

High levels of compassion are nothing but an advanced state of self-interest.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

This chapter will take what you’ve learned about caring for yourself and bring it to other relationships – the source of so much pain and joy in life. As you’ll see, self-compassion is an essential, often unrecognized, ingredient in maintaining healthy relationships.

Some of you are already practicing loving-kindness meditation with other people, such as the beloved person who naturally makes you smile. But what about the difficult people in your life? Those folks can be a huge challenge to mindfulness and self-compassion. They also present you with an opportunity to deepen the practice. In this chapter, you’ll learn a systematic method for transforming your relationships with others, based on respect and care for yourself.

Most of us find that giving kindness to others is easier and more palatable than loving ourselves. Some readers may still need special permission to focus on their own emotional needs. If you’re among them, this chapter on caring for others could feel like a sellout. Don’t worry; you’ll learn here how to keep yourself in the picture even in the midst of intense and conflicting demands by other people.

“But can’t I just avoid the people who bother me?” Although it’s often a good idea to steer clear of problematic people, I t’s not an effective strategy overall. Unless we’re hermits, we’ll have to deal with difficult people on the street, in a taxicab, at the grocery store, at work, at family reunions – just about everywhere. In the immortal words of British author Douglas Adams, “People are a problem.”

And unfortunately people live in our heads as well. Even if you stand alone on a mountaintop, your mind will be chattering with other people. What’s the conversation you’re having with your mother-in-law, your stepfather, your sister, or your friend? How does it feel? We’re the first to feel the pain of our own negative emotions, as expressed in the Chinese proverb “Hatred corrodes the vessel in which it’s stored.”

Changing our relationships to the people in our heads is the first step toward working with them in real time. After practicing loving-kindness meditation for 3 days on Rajiv, a surly middle-aged clerk at my neighbourhood convenience store, I went there late at night to buy some milk. Seeing him as I walked through the door, I broke into a spontaneous smile. My previous habit was to pay my bill and leave as soon as possible, but this time I hung around and we chatted a bit. Only when I got home did I realize what had happened. By meditating on the struggle of this man living far from his native country, working late into the night selling lottery tickets to unhappy people, my aversion had quietly turned to curiosity and caring. Rajiv was none the wiser for my efforts. Transforming relationships with others starts with us; it’s an inside job.

Experiences like this gave me the confidence to tackle more difficult characters in my life. Some people make me feel guilty, some make me angry, others trigger regret or longing. One by one they’ve yielded to the force of inner kindness: “Just as I want to be happy and free from suffering, so does ____________ want to be happy and free from suffering.” Negative feelings toward others tend to separate us from ourselves and from others – they trigger aversion. Practicing loving-kindness for others has gradually made me feel less alone and more connected to life in general.

In the words of the Buddha:

Looking after oneself, one looks after others.

      Looking after others, one looks after oneself.

What we think, feel, and do toward others shapes how we feel inside.

 

CBC on ‘neurodiversity’

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/the-art-of-neurodiversity/9570646

“Neurodiversity is a radical social movement challenging the notion of what’s normal and what’s a disorder”

 

A ‘PRAYER’

This is from a group member. These were developed for people with dissociation but can be useful to any of us.

I accept my emotions as necessary, healthy, and valid, even if those feelings are scary, painful, uncomfortable, negative, aggressive or intense.

I accept that uncomfortable feelings will pass if I do not hold onto them.

I accept my body as my own.

I accept the sensations that go along with owning my body, even when they are painful, scary, uncomfortable, or sexual.

I accept that negative sensations in my body are normal and will pass.

I accept my past, both the things that I remember and the things that I have not yet remembered.

I accept that the past was not my fault even if someone told me it was, even if I seemed to enjoy abuse or seemed to be acting of my own free will.

I accept that I can have a happy and productive life despite my past.

I accept all parts, alters, fragments, and dissociated pieces of myself as a valid and necessary part of my survival.

I accept ownership for the experiences and emotions of all parts, alters, fragments, and dissociated pieces of myself.

I accept that I will make mistakes and that’s okay. I am doing the best that I can. If I don’t know something or can’t do something it is because I was not given the opportunity to learn it.

I accept that I am a strong, lovable, beautiful person and no one and nothing can change that.

—-

Comment: If it is too hard to say “I accept …. ’ I ask instead “HOW can I accept….?” This makes me feel like a door is wide open and that an answer will come to me when I am ready for it. It may not feel right to say “I accept … “ at first. It may feel like we are only fooling ourselves. Maybe we even have to start with what we don’t accept, then ask HOW. How do I find my way to acceptance of these things? And leave the door open for the answers. Those ‘lightbulb’ moments.

 

May you (and all beings) be safe

May you (and all beings) be happy

May you (and all beings) be healthy

May you (and all beings) live with ease

 

Caer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SC Group Mar 20 2018

SELF-CARE, SELF-COMPASSION

DISCUSSION & SUPPORT GROUP

SUMMARY OF MAR 20, 2018

 

Resilience comes from having inner strengths such as grit, motivation and love.

Rick Hanson

 

A CHANGE

Well folks I have decided to not write articles here anymore. I will keep mailing out our readings and any announcements for the group but there won’t be my wonderful words of wisdom (😊) here. It takes a lot of time and thought to do these, and I have so enjoyed doing them. It’s all been completely voluntary. Now I want to take more time for myself between groups and pursue some different avenues. Possibly more on Non-Violent Communication which interests me a lot. Also, I want to learn more about photography. So on to other things and thanks for listening/reading what I have written. (Though, I must warn you, if something really gets to me during one of our groups and I feel suddenly and terribly inspired, I may just write about it here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

 

THIS WEEK

At least one of our members is reporting his success with the concepts of self-compassion, mindfulness and all that. Yea!!! I can hear that he practices diligently and seems able to accept when he’s not on track. Yea again. That is exactly how I suggest we practice these concepts. Gentle consistency (as another of our members coined). It doesn’t serve us well to crack a whip behind us to make us do anything. Shaming or shoulding ourselves is not that effective and both seem to cause us enormous pain. Accepting ourselves and where we’re at, whether we’re on track or off, is the key. Some people say that knowing where we are helps us determine where we need or want to go.

 

IT’S POSSIBLE TO HAVE SELF-COMPASSION ALL THE TIME

It really is possible to have a strong sense of self-compassion and for it to be there 99.9% of the time. Maybe even 100%. When I was most ill and went to see a therapist, she wanted me to hold a doll and care for it. I couldn’t. I felt cold anger towards this doll and I certainly took it to symbolize how much I hated myself. I wrote copious notes in my journal of how unhappy I was with my life and myself. Then, after a year of chaos trying to find the right therapist, I did, and I worked with her for 17 years, very intensely at times.

I am extremely grateful to this woman and I owe a lot to her for my level of self-compassion I am now able to have for myself. She worked with unconditional positive regard which means she always found compassion for me no matter what I said or did. And she seemed to always find a way to put a positive spin on things. When I felt my behaviour was terrible, that I had done something stupid, she would say that it was probably what I needed to do at the time. She spoke forgiveness, compassion and complete acceptance. She was always reminding me (to my annoyance sometimes) that I was exactly where I needed to be.

Then when I watched Dr. Kristin Neff, on the Self-Acceptance project site (see below), I felt more deeply awakened to the concept of self-compassion. I chose to consciously practice it everyday and it has paid off immensely. Even when I make mistakes now, big or little ones, I don’t get mad at me anymore. I look at the situation and try to understand why I did what I did and how it affected me (and sometimes others) in a way that I didn’t want. I always ended with how can I change this, how can I make it have a better outcome the next time.

 

THE TOPIC OF RESILIENCE

Which leads me to our reading this week – on resilience. When I look at my setbacks, mistakes, and failures, and some are very upsetting, I have a good cry or rant first. Then I start to look back at what happened and why it made me upset. What were my needs at the moment that I was responding to? And if someone else was involved – what were their needs. I try to understand why things went sideways. Then I focus on now. How does it make me feel now? And finally, on the future. How would I like to respond to this situation? Does it need repair of some kind? How might I respond differently the next time?

It’s not easy to do when we’re really upset about something. And if we’re really afraid of being rejected by someone because of what we did, well, that really makes things difficult. It’s hard to step back from the really emotional stuff, breathe, and observe without judgment. However, I think that the more we can remove our moralistic judgments (good, bad, stupid, smart, rich, poor…) from the picture, the better chance we have of really seeing ourselves and the situations we’re in. This is what contributes to resilience. The ability to objectively see our setbacks and failures and figure out what to change from there. This gives us hope for the future which keeps us moving forward rather than being stuck in the mud (although – no mud, no lotus) for too long. (Gawd I hate mud)

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (THE BIG SLEEP…)

I’m thinking of a famous Monty Python skit where a man returns a parrot which he had just bought. It turned out that it was dead. The customer does his very best to convince the shop owner that the parrot is actually dead and not just ‘pining for the fjords’.

‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

The point I’m trying to make, well you might have guessed. Not once does he say the parrot has ‘died’ and that’s kind of the way we are when it comes to death. We’d rather call it anything else than what it is, much less face the fact that one day we are going to die. As far as I know, we’re the only species that has the consciousness and understanding that we will die one day. And that’s got to make a difference to us.

My mom died, at the ripe old age of 102, in late 2016. Since then I have felt a kind of fear that I have never experienced before – I’m going to die some day. I really am going to die. This person will no longer exist. Wow! What a concept to get my head around! And I realize how scared I am of it. Will I get sick and die a painful death or will it be sudden, just out of the blue? The really big question though is – how do I deal with it now? Is there a way for me to prepare myself? Well, I think there is and there seem to be plenty of books out there. A few were suggested to me in group. Thank you. We all are faced with this inevitable future and each of us seems to deal with it in our own way. This will definitely be a path of learning for me.

 

READING: Rick Hanson: grow your core of calm, strength & happiness

An interview by Fiona Douglas-Crampton  09/12/2017

A growing sense of helplessness in the face of climate change and negative world news can make it seem an impossible task to maintain a sense of personal happiness, well-being and calmness. Negativity and stress take over.

Psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Rick Hanson became aware of unhappiness in his family and in the world at a young age. Now a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC, Hanson turned to psychology and brain science for answers and realized that if you can change your brain, you can change your life. In his new book, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness (co-authored with Forrest Hanson, release March 2018), the author of Hardwiring Happiness and Buddha’s Brain draws on 40 years of experience of working with people to offer practical ways to grow the 12 essential strengths of resilient well-being.

Hanson shares insights into what people can do now to build lasting well-being in their daily lives and replace a sense of deficit and disturbance with fullness and balance.

Fiona Douglas-Crampton: What inspired you to focus your work on happiness and neuroplasticity?

Rick Stanton Hanson: I had a sense as a young child that there was a lot of unnecessary unhappiness in my school, my family and out in the world. But I didn’t know what to do about it. Then as I got older and learned about psychology, brain science and contemplative wisdom, I became excited about the practical tools they offered for using the mind alone to change the brain for the better.

The brain is the final common pathway of all the causes streaming through us to make us happy or sad, loving or hateful, effective or helpless, so if you can change your brain, you can change your life. I have personally gained from these methods – my wife of 35 years says I have become nicer, which could be the toughest test! – and have seen many others get many benefits as well.

FD-C: What are the specific challenges we face today in a world that requires us to build a core of inner strength?

 RH: There are big problems in the world, plus ordinary life is full of stressors, losses, conflicts and illnesses. To deal with adversity and pursue opportunities in the face of challenges, we need to be resilient, able to endure, bounce back and keep on going.

Methods in self-help, positive psychology, transformation, new age, human potential and spiritual practice are often framed as a kind of magic carpet ride: just do X (e.g., be grateful, compassionate, meditative) and you’ll be whisked to happiness. But it’s just not true.

Any kind of lasting well-being requires coping with the hard things in life. Want to be happy? Be resilient.

Resilience is usually presented as something we need for trauma, combat, etc. True enough, but that is an inaccurate and overly narrow view. Resilience is for every day of your life, not just for surviving the worst day of your life.

FD-C: How do we get started?

 RH: Resilience comes from having inner strengths such as grit, motivation and love. These are the resources we draw on to deal with hassles and setbacks, manage frustration and disappointment, ride waves of pain and face inevitable aging and death.

Resilience is not static. Actually, it is something you can develop over time. Most research and interventions related to resilience focus on just identifying and using inner strengths. This is good, but it misses the key question: where do these inner resources come from and how can we get more of them?

This is where the neuropsychology of learning comes in. To grow more empathy, mindfulness, self-worth or any other psychological resource, first you must have an experience of it or a related factor. Second, that passing experience must be installed as a durable change in neural structure or function.

Experiencing alone does not equal learning. Think about all the times we experience something useful – a moment of satisfaction at finishing a task, an insight into how to be more skillful in a relationship – and we zip along to the next experience so that first experience is wasted on the brain. Besides the impact on everyday life, this is the weakness of much psychotherapy, coaching, human resources programs and spiritual training.

This general problem is worsened by the brain’s evolved “negativity bias,” which makes it like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones. We overlearn from stress, worry, irritation, sadness and hurt, while underlearning from moments of confidence, determination, calming, kindness and realization.

Here are two practical suggestions a person can use every day:

1) Half a dozen times a day, focus on and stay with a useful, usually enjoyable, experience for a breath or longer. Feel it in your body and notice what feels good or meaningful about it. This will help the experience be more consolidated and installed in long-term memory systems. In effect, you can make it “stick to your (mental) ribs.”

2) Pick an inner strength that it would really help to have more of. Perhaps greater calm, gladness or the sense that your own needs matter, too. Then look for opportunities to experience this strength each day and take these experiences into yourself.

You’ll notice that most experiences of inner resources are enjoyable – an aspect of well-being. Resilience promotes well-being and as you take in experiences of well-being – including experiences of inner resources – that will make you more resilient. Resilience fosters well-being and well-being fosters resilience, in a wonderful upward spiral!

FD-C: What are some things you do to take care of yourself?

 RH: Firstly, I try to frame taking care of myself in a larger context of service to others. Second, I try to take care of myself by having many little moments in the day in which I take in whatever might be calming, soothing, wholesome, beautiful, loving or happy.

Fiona Douglas-Crampton is the president and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, a charitable organization focused on “Heart-Mind Well-Being.” dalailamacenter.org

 

 

May you (and all beings) be safe

May you (and all beings) be happy

May you (and all beings) be healthy

May you (and all beings) live with ease

 

Caer