Saturday, October 29, 2011

Staying Balanced Within the Eye of the Storm

It’s been a while since I have written on this blog…for those of you readers who may have been eagerly awaiting my next update – I apologize for the delay!  This summer I spent a lot more time by myself and the call to write felt especially strong.  Since that point, the academic year at school has started up, I have started a new relationship, and I’ve had many opportunities to join friends in growth enriching activities.  While I am still committed to this blog, finding the right rhythm to update it and maintain it moving forward will be my next challenge.

Neo from The Matrix
One big focus in my life lately has been finding a way to keep balanced in the midst of all of the stress and activity in daily life – to devote even attention to body, mind, heart, and spirit.  My goal is to cultivate an oasis of peace, love, and serenity in the eye of the storm around me – to respond in a Matrix-like fashion – sort of like when Neo fights the Bobs and he can see their movements so clearly and slowly and respond with grace and composure.  I don’t achieve that state with great frequency, but that is definitely my goal.

To me, focusing on my body means eating healthily, sleeping sufficiently, and finding time to move and exercise – I’ve started trying to do a little bit of Aharaj Yoga in the mornings in my apartment, I go to Dynamic Chakra Dance every time it is offered, and I try to work in walking and other forms of dance whenever I can.  One breakthrough that I’ve head in this area is feeling more empowered to take on movement – such as yoga or Pilates or swimming – on my own – to not feel quite so encumbered to go to a class in order to exercise.  While I still love going to classes whenever I can, it is great to know that I have that back-up form of activity – that a lot of the movements are right there when I need them.

Focusing on my mind signifies to me my professional development, learning opportunities, and my work pursuits.  I finished my Career Development Facilitator training in early September, attended the annual NACADA (National Academic Advising Association) conference in early October, and am involved in several working groups helping to create a new centralized advising center on campus – the Center for Academic and Student Achievement (CASA).   I also continue to go to lots of retreats and trainings in my personal life and read books at lunch – I’ve gotten into watching TED videos and continue try to see the world in new and different ways.   I’ve seen two independent movies that I really enjoyed this year – Happy and Connected – both gave me excellent perspective on life and our human experience – I recommend seeing them if they come your way.

Focusing on my heart to me signifies trying to approach my new 
Collage I Made at NACADA Conference!
relationship with love and compassion and care – to really create a healthy partnership and develop new patterns that come from a place of confidence and comfort with myself – that will sustain and grow connection over a long period of time.  It also signifies developing and sustaining friendships – truly authentic friendships where I feel comfortable being uniquely me.  This past year, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some great new people – from the Biodanza community, from the Hanuman Center, and from SF Insight and other meditation groups.  I cherish their company and am enjoying the process of seeing those friendships grow.   I also continue to cherish the friends that I already have and enjoying getting together with those people as much as I can.  Finally, focusing on my heart to me signifies maintaining joyful connections with my family – even when many of them live halfway across the country – those connections are very dear to me and hope to maintain a healthy family life for years to come – someday adding a child (or children of my own) to the mix.

Awakening Joy Book
Focusing on my spirit to me means continuing to still my mind and feel the basic love and awareness deep inside – to strengthen my connection to source.  I try to go to SF Insight on Sunday nights whenever I can – and often alternate a seated meditation with my yoga in the mornings – I’m finding that it is hard to work both into a daily routine – so I figure if I’m at least doing a little bit of each within the week, that’s good.  Many of my movement activities such as Dynamic Chakra Trance dance and Biodanza also help tremendously to bring me into the present moment and help me feel part of the larger community of life.  I’ve really enjoyed the Awakening Joy class that I am finishing up this next month (it’s a 10-11 month course on 10 practices that bring joy and wellbeing into your life).  I’ve had the opportunity to go to several daylong retreats up at Spirit Rock – and I’ve also recently starting exploring with chanting and toning and other forms of Sound Healing – excellent forms for me.  I still haven’t done a lot in a church context, but I did attend a service at Glide Memorial Church this summer, and I’ve had some recent conversations with people about commonalities between Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Science, and other Religious forms.

All in all, I feel that I am starting to achieve some balance with these four areas – but it is a constant challenge.  Some weeks I feel particularly charged on mind and body to the detriment of heart and spirit and vice versa – it seems impossible to hit perfectly on all four in any given week.  Which brings me to another element that I’ve been playing with – basically a foundation of loving-kindness and acceptance and sourcing from my inner awesomeness.  So many times, I catch myself being critical of myself and or telling myself that I “should be a certain way” – I can be very hard on myself, and I’m trying to move away from that as best I can – to accept where I am and what I am feeling in any given moment.  It’s not easy – I am very good at finding fault with myself.   But – that’s okay – the point isn’t to achieve each of these qualities that I am trying to cultivate instantly – I suspect trying to do so will be a lifelong journey.  It is also important that I accept each moment as it comes – each change and bump in the road.  This morning I felt rather sad about something – that’s ok.  Right this minute I feel some peace about it – that’s ok too.  Who knows what I’ll feel two hours from now – life is full of surprises.

At a workshop that I went to recently by David Richo at Spirit Rock on his book How to Be An Adult in Relationships, he asserted that all humans basically need and hunger for the following five A’s in both childhood and adulthood:

Allowing (i.e. being given the freedom to grow and be who you want to be)

Ideally, in an adult relationship, each partner will provide these A’s the other – all the while knowing that it is important to get them fully from any given source.   Adults will know that they can get these A’s from themselves, from their source, from their friends, from their job, etc. 

One of His Many Books!
I’ve been relatively lucky in my life to have had many of these A’s provided for me by my parents, but I still struggle a bit with Acceptance and Allowing – for whatever reason, I am endlessly seeking complete acceptance and freedom to be who I want to be – in my relationships and also in my work life.   Each of us has some blocks around these A’s – either we received too much of them as a child and we expect them from every around us or we didn’t get them as a child and we have a bottomless craving for them in adulthood.  In his talk and in his book, he gave some ideas for working with our problem needs – I’m only partly through the book, so I’m still a bit rusty on that part. 

I do find it an interesting way of looking at the world, though – many of the issues I encounter relate back to these A’s in some way.  It’s also a helpful barometer to use in measuring the health of any given relationship – if I’m giving and receiving a reasonable amount of these A’s, I think that’s a very good sign.  David Richo also suggested when we feel angry or triggered by something, to use the SEE method to gauge – i.e. is this related to my shadow self, my ego, or my early childhood?  If so, it might not have much to do at all with the person whom I think I am angry with?  He has a helpful free guide (which I haven't read all the way through available at the following link:

In my case, I think I have a difficult time dealing with judgmental or critical people because I myself am so judgmental and critical of myself and maybe of others as well – because I can’t accept that part of me, I have a hard time accepting it in others.  Also – it goes back to my early childhood and relationship with acceptance.  Don’t get me wrong – I have definitely experienced significant acceptance in my life – I think a part of me deep down just wonders what would happen if I gained 40 pounds, quit my job and had to go on welfare, and never sent any cards or greetings to anyone.  Would I still be accepted then?  Would I even accept myself?

Anyway, as you all continue on in your lives this next month or so – I encourage you to use these frameworks in your life – i.e. to think how you are balancing your body, mind, heart, and spirit – what that means for you.  Also, what is your relationship with the five A’s?  Are there any A’s that you need to work on?  

Wave Photo by Chris Little
In my case – I plan to continue striving for balance – especially as we get into the holidays and the start of winter.   I’d like to bring in more movement-oriented dance-like activity (to complement that yoga I’m doing), handle a stressful stretch at work with grace and composure, to continue cultivating my relationships with friends, family, and my partner – particularly as I start to intermingle them more, and to find more consistent time for stillness in my life – by going more consistently to SF Insight and by someday going to a silent retreat – perhaps in the new year.   I’m also continually striving (and struggling) to maintain order in my life – to keep paperwork under control, maintain a clean and organized household, and keep track of my finances – I still haven’t figured out which part of body, mind, heart, and spirit those fit into – but they seem to be important as well!

Anyway, as I leave you for now – I’m including a recent song by ModeSelector that I really enjoy – it’s instrumental and a bit long (don't feel obligated to listen to the whole thing!) but to me the tone of the music speaks to the quality of clear seeing and calm that I would like to have in my life.  

 Modeselektor - My Anthem

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