Monday Moment: Here for it

Brene Brown Courage or Comfort quote w tag

Of all the different journeys that mindfulness can take you on, the most profound space you find may be right where you started. One of the first things that happens when you start a mindfulness practice is that you get uncomfortable. Distracted, fidgety, bored. Frustrated,  judgmental, exhausted. If you check out then, that’s where you stay. I mean, you won’t realize it because you won’t be bored, etc. anymore, but all that will stay right there under the surface.

If you choose to come back, though, things start to shift. If you can sit with being bored or irritated without running away from it or doing something else to soothe it, then something else builds, too.

It’s called courage. Courage to show up and breathe through hard things. Courage that shows you that the “monster” you were scared of facing (those uncomfortable reactions) isn’t really as big as you thought it was. Stare at it long enough, and it will shrink, and eventually disappear.

Mindfulness shows you what’s really up with you in any given moment. It connects you straight to what you’re thinking, feeling, craving and avoiding. The challenge — the reason to keep trying even if it’s hard — is that learning to be present through those uncomfortable moments teaches you how to stay with yourself, no matter what, and also shows you that none of those experiences – fun or not – last.

Learning to tolerate discomfort (not pain! let’s be clear) allows you to be present for every moment of your life, and even more so – get to see what’s on the other side of it. Hint, hint: it’s usually some pretty amazing stuff.


Monday Moment: Love wins

Love Wins_Andrea B Coan

Last week was a difficult week in the US. Again. There was the similar pattern of tragedy, “thoughts & prayers,” and outrage that has become achingly familiar. But then, there was something else.

Where the outrage usually simmers into resignation and hopelessness, there were voices. Not only the usual voices of exaggerated political dichotomy, but the empowered voices of victims and survivors, speaking on behalf of friends and loved ones who couldn’t be with them, and wouldn’t be again. Yes, there is anger, frustration, and indignation. There is also something much more powerful than any of those.

Underlying all of the cries for justice and angry tears, there is love. Love for those who were taken away. Love for those who survive with lifelong scars of many kinds. Love in text messages sent down the hallway, and across town. Love in opened doors and selfless protection. Love in memories, and tributes, and at long last, in the flicker of hope ignited by real change on the horizon.

All experiences in life can be distilled down to two emotions: love or fear. Only one, however, is the antidote for the other. The antidote for everything. In the face of crippling fear, our next instinct is love. I’m scared; I love you. I’m hurt; I’ll help you. I’m in danger; I’ll protect you. When we are frozen with fear, the few things we are capable of doing are those that are rooted in love. Selfless, ego-less, fearless love.

If there were an emotion meter hanging over that tragedy that unfolded last week, and so many others like it, I am sure it would have registered plenty of fear. But above all of that, it would have flown off its own charts measuring the love being felt and expressed in every corner of that building.

Love is stronger than fear, and everything that fear breeds. Hate, greed, self-interest, the illusion of separation. No matter how fierce the battle, or the sacrifices made in its name, there is always only one triumph. Choose it now, and be on the winning side. There is only one outcome. Love Wins.

Photo credit: Andrea B. Coan

 


Look here (x2)

Girl Phone Picture Docks_Ian Schneider_Stocksnap

Summer chill feel like it’s wearing off lately? Eh, don’t worry. It happens — every year in fact. The shine wears off of everything new (because it was an illusion to begin with…convo for another day…), and we’re left with, well, what we actually feel.

Check out this post I wrote this time last year, about how mindfulness can help us learn to deal with negative thoughts, difficult emotions…you know, the stuff we prefer to ignore. Like a playground bully, when you look right at it, you may find some of the bite dissolves from its bark. That takes courage, though, and of course a few deep breaths.

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One of the immediate benefits of a mindfulness practice is that it can make you feel more calm. Even just a few minutes of intentional breathing or focused attention can slow your heart rate, regulate circulation, and shift your body from “fight or flight” into “rest and digest” mode. Many people who engage in regular mindfulness practices (even short ones) over time report lower levels of general anxiety, insomnia, and even depression, as well as reduced physical symptoms of chronic stress. In other words, mindfulness can help you feel more comfortable, which is super ironic because it’s designed to help you tolerate just the opposite.  Read More