Mojo Monday ~ Equilibrium

Contemplate U by Larry Poncho Brown

Lately I have been feeling more contemplative and observational about life.  It seems as if I know quite a few people who are facing very difficult health issues or life challenges.  Some of them are people I have known most my life.  The pattern of life can sometimes seem very rote for all of us with our daily routines, but then life also has a way of throwing the unexpected at us too.  Sometimes life is incredibly joyful and everything seems to be going our way.  Then a day arrives when life seems really hard and we feel very challenged by health issues, job losses, tragedy, death and more.   

During a particular difficult time we may even wonder, “Am I going to get through this?”  I have certainly felt that way at times.  Back in 1995 when my fiance died in a car accident I wondered for a great long time if I would ever be able to feel happy again.  The loss felt so deep and profound.

What I have learned from my own life experiences is that we humans are remarkably resilient.  We are tough, even when we may feel weak and are incredibly sensitive.  Life really is much like a roller-coaster and there are always going to be ups and downs.  There will be good times and tough times.  Even just remembering inside our head the phrase “This will not last forever” can help pull us through.  Though of course the other side of this coin are that those magic and blissful moments, that we sometimes wish could last forever, but alas cannot, because even the great and good things come to an end.  Yet have no fear, more great and good things are always ahead of us too.  

I think that trying to see that there is a bigger picture and a longer view to life, can help us get through the darker days.  If we choose to live our life more this way, the dips of the roller coaster of life don’t seem as scary or an pronounced.  I think we can choose to learn from our life experiences to flow more with the ups and downs.  There can even be comfort in knowing that a particularly difficult time won’t last forever.  We will rise again.  

Here is a wonderful essay along the lines of this topic by author Charlotte, Davids Kasl, PhD from her book Finding Joy: 101 Ways to Free Your Spirit and Dance with Life.

“It Matters, But It’s Not Serious”

“Having balance in our lives helps us find joy.  Keeping our equilibrium is about letting things matter yet realizing they are probably not of earth-shaking seriousness.

People who get lost in the ‘it matters’ side of the equation tend to treat every little ache, slight, upset, mistake, or rejection as if they qualify for headline news.  Someone slights them and they hold on to it, chew on it, bear grudges, or get obsessed with it.  On the other hand, people who don’t let anything matter tend to grin and bear it, numb out natural feelings, and say ‘ It’s fine’ even when their best friend betrays them, the roof leaks, or their feet ache.
Both of these approaches leave out part of the picture.  If you tend to create a big drama about life’s bumps, you might want to develop your ability to realize that it’s not terribly serious –it’s only a cosmic blink in time.  On the other hand, if you tend to tough out situations and play the martyr, you might want to give yourself permission to let things matter a lot more.  let yourself feel your anger, jealousy, sadness, frustration, hurt, or resentment.
One way to balance the two concepts is to first let it matter.  When something upsetting happens, let yourself feel the disappointment.  Don’t swallow it.  Don’t rationalize it.  Feel it.  Otherwise, it fests away inside.  Then, after you have had a good fit or a good whine, back off and put the experience or problem in perspective.  Look at the big picture,  Find a phrase that brings you back to yourself, and puts things in perspective.  (I remind myself that I have shelter, a warm bed, food, friends, and work, and the rest is gravy.)  Then write it down and put it up someplace so it will be there when you need it.  The more we accept our inner world and the less we deny, the more we come home to our center and the dwelling place of our joy.”

Do you feel you are able to keep your equilibrium?  Or are there things that set you off kilter and make it difficult to stay balanced?

Do you have a phrase that helps you keep your perspective?

What do you think of the phrase “It’s only a cosmic blink in time?” 

Mojo Monday ~ Freeing Your Spirit and Dancing with Life

A melancholy feeling had overtaken me.  My most recent music mix even took on a slightly gray hue of sadness.  I knew it was bad when spending some time in my artist room playing with paints and glue and glitter could not pull me out of my funk. In fact the funk grew deeper as the art piece I had envisioned and was attempting to create would not come together.  Instead of feeling pleased with the creative process I grew more frustrated because what I was seeing on the canvas was making me feel more mediocre than ever.  My woe-is-me attitude began to spiral into questioning my purpose and bemoaning that I don’t have a local women’s circle.  One way for me to try and short circuit the negative thought patterns is to pick a favorite book to read or take a bath.  Even better yet is to combine the two.  So that is exactly what I did. 

As soon as I was immersed in the hot comforting water I began to read from a well-read copy of Finding Joy: 101 Ways to Free Your Spirit and Dance with Life by Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD.  My spirit chose well that evening because the short excerpts in this particular book were so perfect for what ailed me. 

There are twelve themes in the book and each one has a multitude of topics within it. The twelve themes are as follows:
  1. Discover the Power of Joy
  2. Loving Yourself, No Matter What
  3. Tapping the Power of Your Mind: A Training Manual for the Brain
  4. Lighten Up: Finding Balance in a Crazy World
  5. Marvel At Your Amazing Body
  6. Reaching Out, Breaking the Rules: Tips for Making Life Easier
  7. When You’re Sinking Grab a Life Line
  8. Loving Your Body In Spite of It All
  9. Loving Children, Discovering Ourselves
  10. More years, More Wisdom
  11. Dancing with Life
  12. Joy to the World
Here are some excerpts for you to explore.

From Discovering the Power of Joy ~ #10 Allow Grief and Other Scary Feelings

One of the barriers to joy is a pent-up grief, sorrow, or anger.  Other barriers are the secrets we keep because we are ashamed.  Burying emotions and keeping secrets is like wrapping a shield around your soul that shuts out the smells of spring, the delicacy of touch, the softness of love.
It’s difficult to feel free and open when we’re congested with buried pain or rage or secrets. Joy flourished when we accept all of who we are.  This includes experiencing our feeling and clearing out guilt and shame by being honest. How can we ever know we are loved if we show only a little part of ourselves to others?…
In my work as a psychologist I frequently see people emotionally constricted by repressed grief and anger.  Over the years they become divided, detached or distant or turn to addictive substances or relationship.  Because the human psyche is a holistic system, to numb one part of our being is to numb the rest and create constant inner struggle.  I have worked with many couples who believe the love between them is gone. Often, after they open up and express their anger, hurt, and frustration, the love starts to return.  It feels like magic, but it’s not magic; it’s the power of our ability to shift to new states of consciousness as we unblock the illusions that come between us and our love…
So when we sob with grief over a loss, cry because we’re hurt, respectfully express our anger and frustrations, or tell our shameful secrets, we are freeing ourselves emotionally and physically, which makes room for joy.  This is a process that takes time.  We need to be gently yet remind ourselves that freedom comes when we stop repressing our feelings and honor the truths of our inner world.

From Tapping the Power of Your Mind ~ #30 Accept Yourself, Remembering and Forgetting.

You get on the path of exercising, saying affirmations, writing regularly, paying the bills on time, not criticizing your partner, and then…yikes!  You revert to old behavior.  You can’t seem to drag yourself out to exercise, you start carping at your partner, you gorge on food, In short, you forget to do all the things that are good for you.
One the path to joy, it is important to accept that we wax and wane like the moon.  We remember, we forget—and it’s all part of the dance.  We push through our fears, get organized, take a risk, then retreat for a while.  After a break, we once again push through inertia, and get going again.
Remember, you never have to do anything perfectly. Four affirmations are better than none.  Walking one a week is better than once a month.  Fresh vegetables three times a week is better than an unmitigated junk food diet…The important thing is to watch yourself play the remembering and forgetting game and be gently at all times.  How you fall of the path is part of the path.  It’s easy to love yourself when you’re winning.  The real test is maintaining that love on the tough days.  So keep remembering (until you forget) that it’s all drama, it’s all a dance, and it’s all okay.
From Reaching Out, Breaking the Rules ~ #48 If It’s Worth Doing , It’s Worth Doing Badly
Many people block themselves from undertaking new endeavors—from learning a language to taking up a sport or music lessons—because they are afraid of being clumsy and mediocre.  I suggest that clumsy and mediocre can be wonderful compared with burying one’s dreams and shrinking one’ life.  It is excellent for the spirit to be a beginner at something.  Being a beginner keeps us humble, helps us understand children, and can bring tremendous pleasure if we stop judging ourselves and just enjoy.  Better to a be a run-of-the-mill piano player than go to the grave regretting you never tried.
From Reaching Out, Breaking the Rules ~ #50 Stay Awake, Stay Aware—Learn from your Struggles
Sometimes we resolve to control a behavior and then find ourselves doing it again.  At 8 am we say we aren’t going to eat sugar and at 10 am we’re munching on a sweet roll.  We tell ourselves we shouldn’t spend more money and three hours later we’re ordering a new dress from a catalogue.  It feels like something driving us that we can’t control, but it’s usually a substitute for a deeper, underlying need. Lonely?  Eat.  Angry?  Seduce someone.  Ashamed of a mistake?  Blame someone.
The stay-awake-stay-aware approach helps you gain insight when you are going against your principles but can’t seem to stop yourself.  The basic principle is that by adding awareness to compulsive or addictive behavior you transform the behavior.

From When You’re Sinking, Grab A Life Line ~  #56. Connect, Connect, Connect

We have talked about feeling overwhelmed or feeling like a child.  Usually when children are upset they need to get rest, be held, be reassured.  There are several types of connections that can help us out of an emotional jam.  We usually need to do one or more of the following:
1)     Connect with feelings.
2)     Connect with another person.
3)     Connect with our spirit.
Connect with feelings.  When you suddenly feel disconnected, scattered, self-abusive, or nasty to others, it can be the result of repressing feelings about an event that recently occurred in your life.  Backtrack to when you first go off course.  Did you not stand up for yourself when you were angry with someone?  Did you feel misunderstood and not tell anyone?  Have you been rationalizing your feelings and need to be honest with yourself?….
Connect with another person.  When we’re in crisis or being hard on ourselves, making a connection with another person can reassure us.  No, we’re not unlovable to the core.  No, we’re no the only one who ever blew it.  Yes, other people care about us even when we get scared or make mistakes.  Talking with another person can bring back perspective on a situation.  The goblins in our mind get bigger in isolation….If you tend to tell yourself you shouldn’t bother people with your troubles or that you should figure it out on your own, you may have to push through shame to call someone.  But on the path toward joy, connecting honestly with another person and sharing your vulnerability is crucial…
Connect with your spirit.  Simply remember, this is drama, it’s not about your worth.  You are sacred, you are life.  You have the capacity for joy no matter how buried it seems at the moment.
When melancholy looms large in your life what do you do?
Did any of the excerpts shared spark something for you? 

Author Charlotte Kasl describer herself this way on her web site
“I wear the hat of psychotherapist, author, and teacher, but at my core, I am a peace and social justice activist. I believe the starting place for healing the planet is in our hearts and in the ways we practice respect, empathy, understanding and equality in all human relationships, including our relationship to ourselves.” ~ Charlotte Kasl

Charlotte has written a number of books.  One I have already read is called If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on A Spiritual Path. Her newest book that has yet to be released is called If the Buddha Had Kids: Raising Children to Create a More Peaceful World.  It is one I will read once it is released.

Have you read any of Charlotte‘s books?  If yes, do you recommend any?