This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
There is nothing I can add to the eloquence of this invitation by the 13th Century Sufi Mystic Rumi, to welcome and accept any and all feelings as they appear. It is very much in line with current ideas of mindfulness and self-compassion.
Call me for a phone consultation
you would like to explore the "guests" who appear at your inner doorstep!
Once the search is in progress,
Something will be found.
- Oblique Strategies
It takes courage to embark on an inner exploration when you feel unhappy, depressed or unsatisfied with your life. There is the temptation, and you may have tried these "solutions," to more actively distract yourself, attempting to find happiness or meaning in more activity, travel, substances, sex, dating, or purchases. All of these activities in and of themselves are enjoyable and not in themselves harmful; however when they are used to fill up a void they will inevitably leave you feeling empty and/or become compulsions over time.
Many years ago Ram Dass said "wherever you go, there you are." Basically, you can run but not hide from yourself! Ultimately you may be called to begin an inner journey or exploration, to begin the search with no clear path to follow and only a hazy idea of what you hope to find and of what you may actually find.
I sometimes think of it as setting out in the jungle with a machete, having to make a path out of seeming no path, following your gut, your instinct about which direction to go in. It is a practice of trust or faith, that if you enter your inner world there will be signposts and guidance from within if you listen carefully. If you initiate the search and are curious and interested, you will definitely find something or some things: there may be painful feelings that were buried or semi-buried and there will also likely be treasure that you buried to protect or keep safe in the distant past.
To begin simply take the first step, begin the search. This can take many forms from journaling, reading, spiritual work, psychotherapy, self-help groups. The most important thing is to do something, to begin somehwere and trust that something of value will be found!
All profound things
and emotions of things
are preceded and attended in silence.
We live in a loud and noisy world. If you live in a city you constantly hear traffic, people, airplanes, ambulances/fire trucks, and music on car stereos. In addition, many people listen to music or podcasts while commuting or exercising. and have music, news or TVs on while at home, also spending time watching all kinds of videos. When external sounds are minimal our minds will often pick up the slack with runaway thoughts and mental scenarios.
Some people are very sensitive to sound and make space for quiet or silence. Yet a majority of people find silence uncomfortable, preferring the distractions of multiple forms of entertainment and information most of the time.
This week I came across an interesting article on Twitter titled Science says Silence is Much More Important to our Brains than we Think, by Rebecca Beris at www.lifehack.org. Research confirms that our brains need silence to not only regenerate physically but also to process and internalize information, conncect to ourselves and the world, and to reduce stress and tension. The research shows that silence is even better for these brain tasks than soothing music or sounds.
Might it be time to begin spending some time in silence, exploring your comfort ( or discomfort) with silence?
room in your heart
for the unimaginable.
~ Mary Oliver
As 2018 begins, many people make resolutions or set intentions for the new year. There is often a desire and a hope for a fresh start or a clean slate, an end to bad habits or to frustration about things not going as desired.
Usually these resolutions or intentions are very specific- around losing weight, eating better, becoming more fit and working out more. They may be focused on finding a relationship or a new job, improved finances or feeling happier.
Specific resolutions and intentions can be useful for staying focused on reaching defined goals. They can assist you in maintaining discipline and achieving your objectives.They can help you create a plan and take actions to master things that may have been difficult in the past.
I would like to suggest, as Mary Oliver does, also keeping some space in your heart and mind that is free of specific goals, so that there is room for the unimaginable to happen; or as the Queen in Alice and Wonderland says, to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast! A space for new passions and interests to suddenly spring forth and catch you by surprise. A space that can take in wonder and beauty in the external world or between people and be deeply moved by it.
In 2018, can you leave some room in your heart and mind for the unimaginable to show up in your life?
We're being turned into a noun,
when the aliveness is in being a verb.
If you love singing, just sing.
You don't have to become a singer.
You follow the aliveness
and the identity follows over time.
~ Mark Nepo
Frequently people get discouraged from trying something new because they are afraid of not being able to do it well right from the start. It's often hard to be a beginner at something as there may be a steep learning curve. This (unrealistic) desire or need to do things well from the beginning and the fear of not being able to do so can stop you in your tracks. The fear of feeling incompetent and the accompanying embarrassment and shame may lead you to either not start something new or to abandon it very quickly, not really giving yourself a chance to enjoy learning whatever you were attracted to in the first place.
What if you could be grateful that a new idea, interest, impulse or passion bubbled up? Could you trust and follow this inner aliveness with anticipation and beginners mind? Might it be acceptable to learn to sing or dance, or play a new instrument without worrying about being a singer, dancer or musician? Can you follow your aliveness with openness and curiosity for the pure joy of doing something that has called to you?
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley