Monthly Archives: May 2019

Curating My Attention

I feel particularly blessed today. I just joined a 28 day challenge to build a website and put out a course through kajabi. I did this because I learned through my Barbara Sher book club that deadlines and challenges are motivating to me, that taking a course is a way i like to learn, and that baby steps are more effective than wishing. Useful information to discover about the self, made even better by applying it. And so, in 28 days or so, expect a website and the many products (daily cueing email) I’ve been promising would be available.

Is it “the answer” for Bodyfulness? I doubt it. I’m not even crazy about the website layout, but this isn’t about me being crazy about the design. this is a brass tacks kind of ‘facilitate what is working so that it can work’ endeavor. Last year’s challenge, which was the udemy ‘slowing down’ course, got me thinking about what I really want to share and contribute here in the world. As “Bodyfulness” came to be in February, it came in part through my friend Jan asking what a healthy, successful day looked like – and i got really curious about the way i want to spend my days.

Conceptually, I was raised/trained myself that an ideal day had a fruity alcoholic beverage with a straw, sitting on a beach. Truth is, I don’t do any of those things: I feel like garbage when I drink alcohol. Straws kill turtles, and while I love to walk a beach I am no longer a beach sitter. Time for new ideals.

For as long as I can remember, a day that included a deep and revealing philosophical conversation has always been a good day, so I wanted to make space for this to happen every day. People are busy, though, and it’s tough to schedule, so I wanted to make myself *really available* for these conversations.

I also have learned enough about myself to know unless I create structures to support habits, they fall off.

Bodyfulness, this practice of checking in with the feeling state of the body, I want to do all day every day. But, I am so well trained to be in the mental realm, I really need triggers. And I’ve developed a ton of them, and the more I do it, the more unfolds. So, generating structure that keeps me peering inward with accountability and sharing? Yes, this is a good way to spend my time.

It’s been over 3 months of this 3x/day practice and I’m astounded by how much I enjoy it, how much my practice is flourishing with ease and enjoyment, and how much more receptive I am to the world. People who join the practice seem to find it powerful, a positive addition to their day. Some of us keep angling for additional opportunities, and finding them, and sharing them, and marveling at the results.

I wanted my ideal day to include honoring the activities that contribute most to my wellness: physically with things like nutrition/hydration, activity/stillness; emotionally with connection, play and caring (giving and receiving); mentally with challenge, expression and discovery; and spiritually with a context of unity, wholeness, unfolding.

Determining how I wanted to spend my days, and then spending them that way has both clarified how I want to spend my time and refined how and what I want to express. I think it’s a worthwhile exercise, and a luxurious experiment.

my why

I carry a silly amount of unnecessary tension. When I walk, i need to consciously drop my sacrum and my shoulders or else I’m bursting up three feet forward. Every time. My trained walking state is in a hurry, so this grounded, balanced walking is still new to me even though my hip replacement made it possible almost 8 months ago. I’m counter-programming a lifetime of gross motor movements, so it’s really great when I remember and can drive the programming home deeper. Eventually, I hope I can achieve a new, relaxed, grounded walking style as my habitual gait and I can put my remembering on other things.

Same goes with weilding a knife. When I cook dinner, unless I notice, my shoulders are at my ears. It takes conscious relaxation to balance myself in my dan tien and allow the motions to originate from a grounded knowledge of what needs to happen. That’s also how I open jars.

Similarly, my inner dialogue can be brutal. Disappointment in myself for not being cooler and smarter and more accomplished springs up with some frequency. Luckily, having fought this particular battle too many times to count, I less and less frequently take the bait. Also, I often think I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and begrudge myself indulgence in some of the maintenance practices that take too long. Usually my body very convincingly reminds me that I may be a hypochondriac in some areas but i’m just being realistic in others, and that interplay usually has me in bed for an afternoon just listening.

When I listen, I relax. Even when there’s an underlying pain. Turning my attention to the feeling state of my body, I connect with a wholeness that is palpable, even if i would prefer it express with a few different details. Connecting with the center of that, the details become less important (and thereby more maleable) and a relaxation overtakes my composure and I’m reminded that my stories don’t matter, and that my habits can be nurtured in new directions, and this is the stuff of life.

So, I like to do this practice. And, the more I do it, the more I find myself remembering to drop my shoulders and live from a place of relaxation and not trained ‘at the ready.’ What i’m learning is that relaxation is a really excellent form of ‘at the ready,’ too, because it’s ready to meet life as it is from a position of wholeness (compared to my previous default: defensiveness — a huge upgrade) and can more accurately sense and respond as a loving, expansive being.

I don’t know how to change the disturbing things that are happening in the world (beyond being deliberate with my consumer and investment choices) but I do know that I want my experience and expression to contribute to a culture of freedom and equality. My favorite thing on earth is engaging in conversation about life itself, nature, divinity and possibility. My favorite thing about it is that each person accesses it within themselves, and so by reminding us of this inner availability we create a culture of empowerment beginning very deeply within the self. That is just so exciting to me, because it means we don’t need more information or more training or more suffering, we just need to be ourselves – and the more we access that, the gentler a world we live in.

I do this public practice because I need it. I also do it to share it because it is so effective in helping me turn the rudder of my ship, and if it can help others return to themselves that’s time well-spent. I do it for my own accountability and to give me the constructs that support my evolution towards deeper intimacy with life itself and upliftment. The great news is, for me, it’s working.

My next growth area is to do book reports – talking about the brilliant teachers I’ve encountered. We all have lists of people who inspire us. I think it would be cool to have channels where we curate our philosophical role models. Perhaps its sortof a nerdy idea, but it can include music and art playlists as well because we know these things shape us. Curating our time, curating our lives, eating from the tree of wisdom, sharing, living and growing wise…

i’d’ve thought…

For a relatively intelligent individual, I am pretty slow on the uptake regarding some pretty significant concepts. For example, I grew up in a family that literally did not understand me, which is fine because all people don’t understand each other. Where it gets weird is that I think I have constantly judged myself because I can’t bring them into understanding me AND I hold myself to both my own standards and their shared ones. This has set me up to constantly be in a double bind. I would have thought I’d know better by now.

It’s not just intelligence that counts, though. There are so many factors influencing my ability to relate to a situation in a mature and clear fashion.

Mental health really is a spectrum and I believe each of us has a constellation of points on the range at any given time. I’m awake and mature in areas x, y and z; I’m fully frozen in areas h through m; and all of the other letters have ranges, too, depending on who is speaking to me and how much sleep i’d gotten the night before.

I know several people that think I am legit crazy. The funny part about this is that the evidence they cite (natural approach to RA and unschooling as the easiest examples) is the very same evidence that makes me feel most awake. Who is right? Does it matter?

As I bring questions into my body and drop out of the mental assessments and stories, I realize we can only be who we are – that no one is “normal” – and who we are is also always in flux, growing, dynamic. It’s this labeling that is leading us astray. It’s also setting expectations that have nothing to do with reality. It leads to disconnection from the self and from others. We are all our own unique algorithm, and sometimes that algorithm is brilliant (each of us) and sometimes it is fragmented (i’m pretty sure that’s each of us, too. but i know it is me sometimes).

I also know that when I am in my healthiest zones of the mental health spectrum, I’m feeling connected, to myself and to others and to nature. And I know that I’m best connected when I’m tending to my connections. Some connections come naturally. some require more effort. as i practice being bodyful, it is moving from the latter to the former – it is becoming habitual for me to check in with my body and relax into the moment. It’s probably the best think I’ve done for my mental health, and when I forget to do it, i seem to ramp up in anxiety. When I remember, I am so grateful.

a little rain must fall…

I’m out of sorts.

It’s not a big deal, nor is it an unusual situation. From time to time, I might get a little overwhelmed or sad or confused. These things happen. They’re not fun, but I am lucky because they are not all-consuming.

When I check in with my body, I don’t feel anything in particular. I can sit for a few minutes and notice.. be with myself.. relax.. but today, when i re-engage with the world, i have a subtle malaise. I think it might be time for a nap.

But, first: candor. Sometimes I’m not exactly proud of myself. I make mistakes and fall down and blame others. Even with all this work. Even with the best intentions. Sometimes, not only do I fail, but I don’t even know it yet. Talk about foolish… But, isn’t that wholeness? This idea of trying to wipe the black off of the yin/yang symbol, of having things only be Light – this isn’t wholeness.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately encouraging enviro-activists that the way we treat and relate to our bodies is analogous to the way we treat the earth. If we’re wrecking ourselves to defend the earth, we aren’t being quite as noble as we may be intending. This holistic approach really does make us take responsibility in the microcosm before moving out to adjust the macro. And the macro needs our help, don’t get me wrong – it is just that it needs the help of balanced, grounded, real people. How do we become that?

For me, the answer is “be in relationship with my body in a way that listens more than I assert.” Sub-answers include: spend time in nature, be gentle with thyself, relax a little.

I read this weekend that Thomas Edison said the body was simply something to carry the brain around. I wonder if i read that as a youngster, because I certainly espoused that philosophy (and just said ‘youngster’ as if i was a million or more years old, but I digress…). That’s industrialism for you. Progress always and at all costs. Our culture has remarkable wonders thanks to this kind of thinking, but we’ve lost a lot as well. Quite a lot. The good news is: balance is available, and it’s our decision, our choice.. each of us.

If I were to guess the cause of my low energy (not that I have to… sometimes energy is low. that seems pretty normal to me. wanting to be chipper all of the time seems somewhat misguided, but that may be because I’m not fully connected to the inner wellspring) I think I started to get expectations about my ability to help people. I’m really only able to be present. Whether or not that helps has very little to do with me, I think. Wanting to help is fine and all, but so often for me it becomes wanting to fix and the truth is, none of us need fixing – and even if we did, I’m certainly only responsible for willingness, not result. And what do I even want? Why get into this murky water?

I can tell you truly that I want only one thing: To See God Everywhere. No one can help me do it (although the presence and contribution of so many people continue to lead me, to demonstrate the shedding of everything else) but there is no more interesting trajectory of evolution for me. and seeing God everywhere doesn’t place any expectation on anyone. No one needs to show up to help me see it, and no one needs to change. It’s all about my inner world, perspective, and beliefs.

Sometimes, I glimpse the possibility of the goal. Some days are harder than others. Some days it seems stupid. Some days I wonder just how weird I am, how ridiculously large and entirely inaccessible the goal is. But, it’s mine. And when I feel like that, sometimes it might just be best to take a nap.

holy smokes, this stuff works

Man, I love this practice.

I love everything about it. I love being present to the feeling state of my body. i love talking to people throughout my day who care and get it and enjoy it. I love the impact it’s having on my relationships. I love that when i find myself getting triggered, i move towards it gently instead of maybe some explosiveness that would’ve been my go-to, followed by regret, followed by wishing i were different.

As I was editing the Udemy course and trying to make sure the videos were in a cohesive, storytelling order, I got about halfway through and realized it was saving off as blurry.

Long story short: We shot the whole thing out of focus.

Just slightly, but distinctly so if it’s full screen. I’m pretty sure Udemy won’t accept it, but they might, i will send a sample video.

Couple of things here: my cameraman is 12. He’s a bright and precocious 12, and a good photographer, but this was his first time on this kind of thing, and Lord knows I’m pretty basic in my approach, and we neglected to look through the ocular lens. or something like that. anyway, we learned a lesson. and it works out great because said 12 year old is trying to save up for a computer, and this will get him closer faster. and i will improve the content. i had been sitting there watching thinking, “I really should’ve brushed my hair” and then I realize its out of focus, so i have an opportunity to address that.

have you noticed how not upset I am?

I gotta tell you, here, a couple of hours later and before I go to bed, I am amazed. Amazed. I’m Sicilian. There was no colorful language. That is a very big deal. Not because I didn’t behave like a crazy person (although I am extremely psyched about that), but because I didn’t feel like a crazy person.

That feels like a threshold. My mind could spin 1,000 stories, but my body is ok with it. and i’ve finally learned to trust my body. it leads me to the very best places.

standing sideways

Having my back be a bit “out” (tender. painful, but not terribly so) and doing bodyfulness practices has been a helpful part of the process, of course, but in keeping with it’s promise, it’s also insightful.

Let me be clear: my body does not wait until i am quiet enough and then slip a thought into my head that reveals my next step, or the underlying belief, or anything that direct and immediate and predictable. I mean, sometimes it does, but 80% of the time, I’m just noticing and relaxing and reminding myself to do the first two. It is rare to get a direct and immediate insight, although it has happened. I also believe that sometimes when a thought or memory comes in, it’s passing through on its way out and I go back to the breath to help facilitate it out. Mostly it’s just being open to noticing.

What the bodyfulness practice has shown me this week is how often I stand to the side of what I am doing and bend or twist a little to do it. Brushing my teeth, sitting at a table without putting my knees under it…

This is really a surprise for me because I consider myself direct. So direct. Usually the most direct person in the room. If i have a defining feature, it may be my immediate engagement with the elephant in the room. I go at things head-on. Most of the time. Most of the ways.

Isn’t it interesting when life says, “oh, yeah? is that what you think?”

Being bodyful, paying attention to the feeling state of my body throughout the day, is what revealed this unconscious habit to me. Through repetition and my noticing. No secret codes, no luminescent Pentecost. Simply paying attention.

I am amazed at how many things I do not notice, things of the ‘right under my nose’ variety. Noticing is such a gift. Noticing brings choice into the matter. Noticing begins me on the path to awakening in what used to be unconscious moments. And I don’t know how long it will take me to intentionally position my body for appropriate relating to what is before me, but I am delighted to be moving in that direction.

I also think there are subtler things to unpack there. How i may be side-stepping aspects of my life because I think it is safer, or I’m uncomfortable or just habituated to it. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m trying not to get to caught in the mental meanderings of what it could be and what problems within me that indicates. As often as possible, I bring it back into the body and open myself up to the body unpacking it perfectly efficiently without my mental soundtrack. But, at the same time, I have to be willing to engage it mentally. I’m not afraid of it, but nor am I enamored. That feels like the right place to be.

Whatever it is, it is unfolding me, as we are all unfolding through our engagement in our lives. That which is springing up in and as us, and the dynamic environment where the divine is always asking ‘can you see me now?’ – even when it brings us face-to-face with our faults, perhaps especially then, let’s trust She is Here to be unfolded, herself…

finally, i get it (at least this next layer of it)

i am whole

I get that now. I feel it in my body. (god knows not in my mind)

it’s just that: wholeness isn’t exclusively good-feeling

Wholeness means good parts and bad parts.

There are parts of me I don’t feel great about. from simple to complex. i struggle with time. oh, wait, that’s a rehearsed way to try to make being late all the time charming. i also do annoying things like try to make it sound better. I certainly wish i was a 24/7 compassion machine. I’ve got some and I exercise it regularly, but it has an off switch and sometimes I can not budge the damned dial.

and then i remember

i am a whole person. i’ve got all the traits.

I am also evolving. Just like every other living thing on this planet, I am, by virtue of being here, evolving.

All in all, I try to spend my time encouraging the best in myself so that’s who shows up more often in relationship. And it’s going pretty well. But, that’s not all it’s going. It’s going part well and part bringing up scary stuff and part wanting to hide and part wanting to express more, part Kali and part timid kitten under the couch. There are worlds inside of us. It’s part of being whole.

For a long, long time, my self development was about trying to make me The Best Version Of Me I Could Make Myself, through attention to values and what felt like a very determined maintenance crew scrubbing all the black from the yin-yang within me. Of course, it never worked.

Accepting wholeness was a big shift that could only come after a paradigm shift. There’s more about becoming who I’m encoded to become, not my mental picture of it.

This journey offers me pictures of myself I’d rather not see; I have to be willing to be with it. Sucks all the pride right out of a gal. And that’s OK. It’s helpful. I tend to pride, but when I’m acknowledging my wholeness, too many aspects of my personality/expression I wish were different/better to be proud.

So, sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m down and often i’m curious and I’m delighted to typically have something really interesting to read. I am experiencing the whole of life, good and bad and in-between.

Still, I wish I was perfect

Receiving God in everyone and in all of life; being thoughtful and eloquent enough to always be kind, even when expressing my very prominent “candor” aspect. Stop thinking i’m a genius so I can also stop thinking i’m an idiot. I know I am a particle, so why keep acting like a wave?

Probably because it’s fun. Even when it’s not.

body of knowledge

I’m happy to report I’ve had a rough week or 10 days. All kinds of emotional and physical crap coming up. I’m happy to report it because it has given me ample opportunity to explore various bodyfulness practices – to test this practice in circumstances where I have familiar patterns and to go a little deeper. I’m happy to report it because I’ve experienced so many new aspects of how soothing this practice can be, how efficiently it drains drama and honors feeling, how much is within me that just wants to be acknowledged and held.

Funniest anecdote? One morning I was quite hungry, but my body only wanted a small bowl of ezekiel cereal. I don’t really love ezekiel cereal. I wanted berries or something but every time I checked in with my body plain cereal was all i could get a positive emotional sense. I didn’t even take my supplements – I just couldn’t stomach the thought. A while later I was nauseous. Easiest experience of the sort I’ve ever had. The body; she knows.

I’ve also felt disrespected quite a bit. That’s an interesting experience to feel without story. It’s almost like I got through a single permutation of someone treating me as lesser, and I was pretty pleased with the strategy of bodyfulness to help me sort out my emotions by really referencing the feeling and not the thought. Indulging in the thought leads to drama, Inquiring into the feeling leads to relief. “Oooh,” I said to myself, “what an insight!” and as they say ‘pride comes before a fall’ – i was then inundated with fodder.  I even had one friend talk to me about how she is going into her body for guidance now as if it was completely new to me and I should enjoy her new discovery.  I’ll admit, that drudged up all kinds of emotions around feeling acknowledged or seen.

Over these 10 or so days, I think I’ve engaged in bodyfulness practices at least 5 or 6 times per day to specifically address these feelings specifically (in addition to my regular practice, shared practice and mini-practices I regularly do). Each required less than 5 minutes, but each also subtly reduced the feeling of ‘insult’ and cultivated the feeling of ‘inquiry.’ So, 1/2 hour collectively per day. And what it is opening up to me are – what are they called? False something.. shadow something… paper something… aspects of identity I’ve come to know and believe in, but who aren’t me. Aspects of identity that love to take issue with others’ not honoring me – but of course you know what comes next, right? They are parts of myself that refuse to honor the truth of my Self, who need others to tell me I’m ok, and so they are vulnerable and touchy when they don’t get what they want (so desperately need to exist – which they don’t). Shifting identification from the persona I’d like to create/be recognized as to the feeling state of where I am now (hurt feelings and all) reprioritizes my interpretation of events. It offers me an insight into my constructs and a path to my unfoldment. So, yeah. Time well spent.

I often feel that when I am starting to feel I have a grip on something the universe says, “Oh, Yeah?” and shifts the ground beneath my feet. I used to take this as a drag. It seemed like a cruel joke. I now receive it as a worksheet… “You’ve learned the principle? OK, now apply it.”  I want to embrace these opportunities, and instead of feeling defeated by them, recognizing them as opportunities to hone my skills that represent my deepest values. I’m happy to report, these days have offered a lot of exercise of this muscle, and I feel the strength increasing with use.

I’ve often felt that God is playing a constant game of “can you see me now?”

Let’s answer, “YES!”