All Aboard

June 12, 2011

Sometimes we get on a train of thought that is taking us somewhere we don’t need to go. The alarm clock doesn’t chime, the newspaper is wet, and the cat messes on the carpet. It’s easy to believe “Nothing goes my way.” We’re late for our first appointment and we add, “It’s always been this way and it always will be.”

We can embellish that belief with more “proof” or we can stop and practice presence in the moment. We can notice what is right this moment—we have enough air to breathe, we have clothes to wear, we can appreciate being alive this second. By being available in the moment we board another train.

There are any number of trains we can take. No matter which we choose, we’re all going home. The journey may be comfortable or challenging. One train isn’t preferable to another. We can choose the drug addict/incarcerated train or the respectable/law-abiding train. It doesn’t matter.

We all need to learn and to grow and to practice self-acceptance. One scenario may garner approval from the society while another insures locked gates. But we all have the same lessons to learn. And the lesson is not about being successful.

Our challenge is to acknowledge the flow within us and around us and to work with Life. We find peace when we accept that state of affairs. It’s momentary and ever-evolving, but it’s the only game that really matters. If a drug addict works to insure his sobriety, a jail cell may be his perfect situation. If a felon learns forgiveness by delving to the depths of who he is and working through his self-hate, prison may be his church. If the wealthy attorney never gets past his need to compete, he’s missed the point. If a famous actress doesn’t love herself, she’s lost in the midst of her fans.

Life is about welcoming our challenges. We value our experience no matter what it is and we never blame others. The corollary to “Don’t take anything personally” is “Never make the issue interpersonal.” Our feelings are ours. Whatever I experience this second I need to experience and I own it and embrace it and learn from it. I don’t try to escape from my inner world by fleeing into busyness or distraction or thinking or controlling. Gratitude is always an appropriate response. This moment is perfect for me to learn what I need to learn. The only question is, Will I? 

 

Freedom In The Pen

June 6, 2011

When new attendees enter stress management, anger management, or depression management, we breathe.  I facilitate groups for mentally ill inmates at a men’s state penitentiary.  The group members have been diagnosed as having a thought disorder or a feeling disorder. They may have a short prison term or a life term.  Most have substance abuse in their backgrounds. Today they cope with incarceration and its stresses.  They can’t walk 100 yards in a straight line and some never will again...


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Non-Resistance

May 11, 2011

The days when my groups at the prison don’t go well and the wind is cold and my phone calls aren’t returned, I give thanks. When I feel stuck and frustrated, I am grateful. When my disappointment colors every interaction, I say Yes and Thank You.

Not because I am so lucky and I have so much and many others would trade places with me.  My feelings are fine and I want to honor them. I give thanks because that’s all I can do. It’s the most selfish thing I choose because it always makes...


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The Controller and the Hero

May 8, 2011

The Controller part of us knows how things ‘should’ be.  She knows what’s right and what’s unacceptable and how we should look.  She ‘has a vision’ which, she is sure, will make our lives turn out just the right way which will then lead us to happiness. 

We listen to her and trust her during the first half of life.  She gets us through school and work and child rearing.  She focuses on behavior and activity and doing.  And we garner some rewards.  We fit in, our kids look fine...


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Owning Our Power Through Meditation

May 3, 2011

I get crazy when folks in the meditation group ask me “why” questions or repeat what the current guru has said on television or talk in abstractions off the top of their heads.  I have committed to make the Saturday morning meditation group a healing experience and healing never happens intellectually. The Controller tells us to get into our heads.  The Controller is trying to protect our vulnerability, to prevent too much feeling, and to live superficially.  The Controller is never the...


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The Anxiety Addiction

April 24, 2011

Anxiety becomes an addiction when we use it to reassure ourselves that we are doing everything we can to be safe and comfortable.  “I can only control what I can” becomes “And I’ll worry about the rest.” Anxiety is a motivator, it gets us to move in response to our thoughts of lack.  “If I don’t prepare myself, how will I ever get a good job?”  We learn skills and acquire certificates of competency and then we are acceptable.  Suddenly the arena is no longer what I do but who ...


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God's Little Box

April 5, 2011

Isn’t it funny how we try to be strong and impervious to life’s challenges? We must distance ourselves from our vulnerability (read: feelings) and pretend we can handle it, whatever today’s “it” happens to be. We want to look “together” so we cut off our vulnerability. Is that nuts?!

We hate our vulnerability and, yet, that is the only way to God. Our minds with all their intellectualizing don’t need God, our hearts do.  It’s only when we are broken that we allow God to sh...


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Forgiveness

March 30, 2011

Do you have trouble forgiving? Does it become a matter of pride? Have you ever said, “I can’t let her get away with that?” Or, “I should teach him a lesson!” Have you thought, I don’t want to forgive because they will think I’m weak? Or maybe you’ve thought, if I forgive it means that what they did was acceptable. 

The truth is forgiveness means “I choose not to carry resentment any longer. I don’t want to give my time and energy to something/someone who doesn’t deserve...


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Allowing God

March 22, 2011

At Mass when I was a kid we said, “I am not worthy. I am not worthy. I am not worthy.” Without realizing it, I learned shame and self-hate. I maintained a low level depression throughout much of my youth. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. Even today at my lowest moments I hear the words, “I am sorry I’m not good enough.”

Immediately, I catch myself and yell “Stop!” I cannot afford to deny myself. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to God. When I deny myself ...


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Hate and Fear

March 19, 2011

We hate what we fear.  It’s more comfortable to feel hate than fear because it seems less vulnerable and we’ve learned that being vulnerable is to be avoided.

  We don’t always say we hate, though. We’d rather say, “That’s illogical” (and, thus, not to be considered seriously) or “That’s immature” (and, so, unworthy of attention) or “That’s what they asked for” (and I can’t do anything about their poor choices). We separate ourselves from “them,” having alread...


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