Thursday, March 2, 2017

Byron Katie's Loving What Is, and finishing what I start

Do you know that feeling of beginning something in one room, thinking of another task, leaving off the first, going to the other room to begin another, and then...what was I doing again? Of course you do.

That's how it has been for me with, among other things, books. These last two years in the Pacific Northwest I have been living in a kind of book paradise. I have well-stocked libraries nearby that, aside from lending out wonderful literature, also have the occasional sale and even free book racks. Not to mention the plethora of used bookstores. I love it, really, and I also allow myelf to indulge in multiple tomes without finishing a single one. This feeling of starting and not finishing leaves me a bit scattered, and the pile of unread pages grows on my desk and nightstand.

Now comes the season when some consider what they might sacrifice until Easter. This year, I am inspired to do something rather than give something up - and that is to finish what I have started. Yesterday was Day One, and I finished reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is, in which she describes the process of using "The Work" to break down the stories we tell ourselves that cause us pain and suffering.

First exposed to Katie's The Work during my coaching certification program, I was intrigued to read her process in her own words and "get to know her" in a way. You see, I had learned about her in German, translated from English. Thanks to my local used bookstore, I stumbled across this book in the original English, and I found her voice to be loving, kind, and full of truth. She asks such simple questions and thus assists others in uprooting the stressful beliefs they have held for many years, sometimes even since early childhood (I was the least favorite child/My husband {or children or coworkers} should respect me more/This place would fall apart if I weren't here to keep everything in order). They often leave a session of The Work having gained humility by looking reality in the face rather than creating stories to explain it, stories that make reality more painful than it actually is.

Having used The Work myself in 2014, I know that it tends to crop up again and again for me, helping me to reevaluate situations and gain understanding of them, and my part in them. I think that it can play a remarkably helpful role in enhancing self-reflection and ultimately in improving our relationships with others. Katie often points out that when there is peace within us, there is peace outside of us.

What's next on the reading list? Everyday Blessings by Myla and Jon Kabbat-Zinn.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mindfulness: Walking in the Snow

Winter this year has brought with it such ample snow to the Pacific Northwest that there have been many opportunities to contemplate its beauty, and how it reminds us to be mindful. It might inconvenience everyday comings and goings, but it has always struck me that it has the ability to create a blanket of light, peace, and tranquility wherever it settles. Being a mother of two small boys, my life is often filled with light, but it can come up short on peace and tranquility!

This afternoon, I found myself with a lapful of two little boys, each wanting hugs and help with their drawing, taping, and cutting of paper. They had come into my home office while I had sat at my computer, gathering my thoughts to write. My moment of creativity ended the instant theirs began, so I focused on helping them settle into a new activity of their choosing. And by being there right then at that moment, I could see my littlest one draw circles with his left hand - both of these skills were a surprise to me.

Later, I decided to get out and walk into town so that I could soak up a bit more of this snowy day before it melts away and becomes dark. Living in a small town that neither spreads salt, gravel, nor sand, I remembered again how snow teaches us to be mindful. Where sidewalks were still covered in freshly fallen snow, I could confidently crunch along with my boots; where slush had formed, I began taking baby steps to avoid slipping; where they were clear, I took longer strides. I listened to the sounds I made, observed the textures and changing light along the sidewalks and roads.

Mindfulness allows us to respond to and remain in the moment, and often, to recognize the beauty in it. We know that there is a time and place for everything. There are times to be creative, times to help others create, times to take big strides, and times to take smaller ones. Soon the snow will melt away and reveal the gifts the ground will offer; in the meantime, let's enjoy this!