Archive | November, 2014

MindBody BodyMind, let’s call the whole thing- AMAZING!

20 Nov

This may be the shortest blog I’ve written, and the laziest: please click here ( to read a great NY Times article about psychotherapy, body therapy, and how they are the same thing under the right hands!

Occupy Yourself!

11 Nov

I was just sitting in my living room this morning, meditating. When I say meditating, I mean sitting cross-legged on a pillow on the floor, doing abdominal breathing, feeling the energy in my body and the thoughts racing through my mind, both of them wanting me to get up and do the things I’m thinking about! I find that when I’m feeling good and have a lot of energy, it’s challenging to sit quietly, even though my whole being craves that space of non-doing!

We all struggle with that, I think: even for those who don’t have a meditation practice at all, there must be that “small, still voice” that begs us to pause at least for a moment! Instead of rushing about, fulfilling our “duties” and what we think others need from us, we could sit still for the space of three breaths: inhale…… suspend the breath……exhale….sit with the nadir of that exhale, before inhaling again. Breathing is a vital tool for me to deal with life, especially with stressful situations.

You know what causes most of my stress, though? It’s not all those annoying people and circumstances that seemingly try to chip away at my facade of control! It’s me. How I perceive and interpret what happens around me (I won’t say “to me”) creates my stress. I’m cursed and blessed with the need to try to help people- making the assumption, of course, that I know what’s best for everyone! So, I try to bring people to see things my way: you should make amends with that person, you should stop doing that thing I don’t like, you should do things in a way that I can relate to and not in that way that I really can’t begin to understand! (It reminds me of the comedy skit by Liam Kyle Sullivan, in which his mom complains, “These people are speaking a language that I don’t understand, and that makes me very angry!”)

So I’ve begun experimenting with Occupying Myself. Occupying my own space. Being with my feelings as they occur, recognizing them, owning them, and letting them go so I can listen to the other person better. It’s an interesting and sometimes amazing feeling to be in your own body! Most of the time, my thoughts are in the future or the past: I’m scared of what will happen! I’m resentful of what already happened! But what about what’s happening right now? The only thing that can anchor me to this moment is my breath.

Part of why I’m living in other people, so to speak, is because I love them and want to help them. But part of it is control over my surroundings. And, of course, we don’t control anything (think about that for a while!!) except our own actions. Hence my newest and most favorite reminder by way of Jack Kornfield’s meditation: “Your actions create your own happiness and misery, and not my wishes for you.” The other reason I’d like to control other people is because it’s a lot easier than looking deeply at my own stuff! There’s some evidence through the centuries that other folks have struggled with this same issue. Just look at all these sayings: “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye?”, “Mind your own business”, “Counting other peoples’ sins does not make you a saint”, “Row, row, row your boat (not someone else’s!), gently down the stream…”

But how do we join the Occupy Movement and Occupy Ourselves? Here’s how I do it, and it seems to work well, although I have to choose to do it over and over and over and over again: sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, or sit on the floor with your hands on your thighs or touching the floor. It’s important that your spine is relaxed, aligned and erect, no slumping! Use pillows if you have to. Use essential oils or incense, if that helps you take deeper breaths, and start to breathe slowly, as described in the second paragraph above. As you breathe, with your eyes closed or almost closed, put a tiny smile on your lips and mentally lean into the middle of your body. I usually have to lean back (because I’ve been in the future with my thoughts), but you may find you have to lean forward. Now, mentally scan all along the spine, right in the middle of your body: is there a spot that feels good to rest in? For me, today, it’s right above my solar plexus, and it feels like a disc bisecting my body, as if someone threw an LP record and it lodged in my midriff! In a good way, of course. That place becomes my anchor point of safety for the day; and when I encounter something or someone who triggers stress in me, I breathe, lean back a little into that spot, and recite my newest mantra: “Your actions create your own happiness and misery, and not my wishes for you.”

When I do this, it’s about staying in my own space. And guess what? When I stay in my own space, and Occupy Myself, I create space for others to move into- it allows for possibilities that weren’t present when I was taking up all the room! Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream!