Archive for the ‘Breaking Habits’ Category
A friend of mine gifted me a wonderful book by Ajahn
Brahm, Opening the Door of your Heart, There are many lovely learning
anecdotes in the book but one of them particularly struck me – being present, I
quote directly from the book:
“We often fail to savor the moment. Instead, while we are chewing on one piece of food, our attention is distracted as we look at our plate to choose the next thing on our fork. some are even two or three forkfuls ahead of themselves – one forkful is in the mouth, one is waiting on the fork, another is heaped up waiting on the plate, while the mind contemplates the morsel coming third on the fork.
In order to relish the taste of your food, and know life in its fullness, we should often savor one moment at a time in silence. Then we might get our money’s worth in the fivestar restaurant called life.”
The following day after reading this I observed myself at
lunch. I was eating a lovely bowl of
Vietnamese beef noodles and at the beginning I was doing exactly what Brahm
said I would do, one mouthful was chewing, while my fingers where pulling
noodles out the bowl to rest on the spoon waiting to be shoveled in while my
eyes were thinking about what next. I
was 3 mouthfuls away from reality! I was
shocked! I put down my chopsticks, my
spoon and refocused on my chewing. My
lunch partner had long finished his meal by the time I was half way through but
I have to say it was a much more enjoyable experience, I only ate half the bowl
as I was able to sense I was full much more accurately than normal (so maybe a
great way to watch your weight as well!), and I didn’t notice I got any
hungrier because of it. I have been
trying to make it an exercise in presence ever since and I have definitely
slowed down my eating and improved my digestion as a result.
I think the longer term benefit is in helping me practice
presence – when we are present we slow down time, appreciate what we have and
enjoy life much more fully, rather than chasing after things 3 mouthfuls away! I have also noticed that in slowing down time
we give ourselves space to think and make decisions about the next steps we
want to take in life. Instead of having
to have the answer 3 steps away, we can make the decision when the time is
right. When I have fully swallowed one
mouthful, then I am in the right place to decide what to have for the next
mouthful. How will I know what I will
want in 3 mouthfuls time?
I recently lost my voice, totally, and what a blessing it
was! It came at the tail end of a short
but sharp cold and it threw me into fits of coughing every time I opened my
mouth. So for 2 days I could only whisper,
but it was far more comfortable to just shut up and watch the world go by.
What surprised me was the lovely freedom that came with
it. For 2 days I couldn’t call anyone, I
couldn’t bark instructions at my children, couldn’t plan anything with my
husband, couldn’t discuss, complain, direct, defend, authorize, gossip. The pure joy of it! It was so peaceful!
My children would wonder the corridors in our home shouting
at the tops of their voices, and I realized I would normally be shouting
louder, just to be heard. Yet now they
had to come and find me, I could just carry on doing whatever I was doing until
they did – no stress, just doing whatever it was I was doing. Question to self: Why don’t I do this all the time? Why do I feel I need to yell out my location
every time I am called?
My children experienced the same liberation, instead of the
constant stream of instructions coming out of my mouth – eat your breakfast,
brush your hair, brush your teeth, stop hitting your sister, hurry up, the bus
is coming, brush your teeth! Come
on! Shoes on, shoes on, bag, BAG, lift
is here, come on, come on! We’re LATE,
COME ON! – Which is the usual commentary in our morning household, there was a
quiet and gentle presence as I cajoled, herded and waved my arms in an
altogether calmer and quieter manner. I
had to be very present and constantly by their sides so they could see me as
opposed to yelling at them from the other room whilst multi-tasking – it was a
MUCH better experience! Amazingly we
didn’t miss the bus, we didn’t rush (any more than normal!), and we got
everything done we needed to do without the shouting and panic. Big note to self.
The final observation was how lovely it was to not have the
constant thinking of what to say going round my head. This was a surprise to me, I am constantly
thinking about what I should be saying next – it doesn’t just come out of my
mouth in a stream, I have to first formulate the need to talk, then formulate
the thoughts I want to communicate (and what is freaky is that my mind’s
resting state is pretty empty – I actually spend energy making thoughts up!),
then think about how I want to phrase it, then actually deliver it. What an exhausting process! When I was mute, what amazed me was how
little I needed to say, it was so nice not to have to think about it, I could
just let the world be without the constant need to provide a commentary. Bliss!
Now my voice is pretty much recovered, the stream has
strengthened back to a river, the commentary is comfortably back in place, but
I am hoping it is a little less forced, a little less self-conscious, and a
little more meaningful.
Everything happens for a reason! Have you ever been ill and had a big ‘aha’
moment from it? Comment below!
the self-development field have to be extra vigilant that we don’t replace one rigid
belief system, with another. In our
search for more peace, more happiness, we are programmed and trained to look outside
of ourselves. We look to our parents, to
our friends, to our education, our job, our governments, our country, our
communities…the trick is, of course, to look within, at ourselves. But even for those of us who know and
understand this, DOing it is a completely different thing….
friend came to me in a quandary; she has been working very consciously on
building healthy boundaries between herself and her husband. Their relationship in the past has been
rather one sided (he dictates, she obeys).
Obviously as the shift to a more equal partnership has taken place,
there has been much kicking and screaming as both sides have had to adjust to
the ‘new’ style of relationship. She is
much happier, though he possibly isn’t, but he’s getting used to it and seeing
other benefits (namely a much happier and friendlier wife!). Throughout this process I have been coaching
her to continue her search for inner peace within, and not let outside
influences affect her so much – the number one job for all of us.
came about one evening when she was feeling a bit fearful of the future, of
what that might hold for them and their family.
Her Husband told her that she ‘wasn’t allowed’ to feel down and
depressed as that was his job (to be the worrier). Her job was to be the rock, the positive and
optimistic one. Well, that sent her into
a right little mood! She came to me
complaining and upset “why do I always have to be the rock, why can’t he
support me when I’m feeling down, it’s always on my shoulders to be responsible
for everyone else’s happiness”. Fair
points, all of them – why should she?
Well the point, of course, is that she doesn’t have to do any of these
things. Her stress is coming from the
thought “I have to do/be… this that the other”.
had already analyzed the situation “he’s crossing my boundaries again, he’s
using me and sucking my energy dry – I can feel it! He’s hooking into my Solar Plexus! No wonder I’m exhausted all the time, he’s
using me like a vampire!” Ouch! Well, she had read all the right books! Coaching 101 around Boundaries, Brennan on
Energy Vampires, Myss on Chakras….but did it really matter that she had all the
correct language for the ‘New Age Self Developed Woman’? No, not really. At the end of the day, she was still looking
outside herself to blame and label and excuse.
the question is, “Do you WANT to feel down and depressed because of your fear?” Of course not! She said with a start. “So why”, I asked, “are you blaming your
husband for stating a fact and highlighting to you your negative behavior?” If you want to feel depressed than do so, but
please don’t blame your husband for pointing it out.
how freeing to truly own your own mood!
How delicious to be honest and brave enough to say “Thank you husband
darling for pointing out my negative behavior!
I have told you many times before that I am striving for more peace and
happiness in my life and you are highlighting my actions and my thoughts to me
whenever I deviate from my course…Thank you!!”
who you want to be in this world, then be it.
And thank graciously and genuinely anyone who is helping you stay on