Ruminating On Rumi

As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.

~ M. Rumi

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thoughts on self-compassion

Okay, it’s been a week since I last posted on the Pigasus Project. But, I’m not going to berate myself for this.  Posting here is intended to be a joy, a learning, an understanding through writing down and sharing thoughts and ideas. Getting angry at myself for not doing this is the antithesis of the intention.
Over the past week or so, at the advice of a very amazing counsellor, I am focussing on self-compassion. Whenever she asked me about giving myself compassion, I would draw a blank. Finally, I came up with one, I would not get angry at myself for losing or breaking something.  Now, that’s a small step towards not deprecating me for making a mistake. When I came up with this one and I really got it, I was stunned.  I, like most of us, is far more compassionate to everyone then self. On the back of a worksheet about self-compassion vs self-esteem, I wrote these words.  

Sadness is being experienced; I am not sadness.
Depression is being experienced; I am not depression.
Self-compassion invites the feelings to be experienced and run their course while holding space for a knowing that what we feel is not who we are.  Feelings are tools for understanding the human experience. Self-compassion encourages self-awareness and a call to wake up to our true nature.

There, as I ponder this, I try to integrate, beyond knowing that a turning inward with compassion and love helps to create a sense of equanimity that permeates the external world of our day-to-day existence. Being compassionate to one’s self includes self-forgiveness, nurturing the body with healthy food and exercise, thinking kind thoughts while reflecting on the infinite nature of who we really are. 
Perhaps more than anything else it is cultivating an equanimity suffuses our entire being. This holding of balance that can be dipped into when experiences are difficult and when they are exciting. Like I’ve said here, ‘everything comes and goes’. We are indeed verbs. We are always changing. It is this change that I need to make peace with. 

Now I'm going to have a bubble bath.

Monday, October 7, 2013

One Love; one heart

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of skepticism. It’s a flavour, a shade of life that sometimes denies the goodness of us as human beings. It’s especially easy, if one looks up, from the downward spiral of depression or the red, reactive place of anger. Our perception will always be reinforced by our beliefs and our experiences. 
Regardless of outer appearance, the nay-sayers, the negative forces, the careless attitude that some believe about the value of our species, we all have the opportunity of choice. I know, you may point your finger at those who are impoverished, imprisoned, ravaged by war and circumstances and ask how do they have a choice? There is a choice of how to respond to circumstances. 
Those who, by choice, have risen above circumstances shine a light on this path. They’re not always famous, sometimes they have walked the walk of addictions, illness, violence, shame and blame and so on.  Anything that can defeat a human being can also be turned around to empower. This isn’t to say it’s easy. 
Remind yourself that you are the physical manifestation of consciousness.  All of us are, as one form manifest from consciousness. The journey is how we create relationship with one another. How we practice not just tolerance but coexistence. 
It’s an inside job. I have a practice, as I move through this life, that when I see what appears as other, I say there I go, in the form, of that mother pushing a stroller or the baby in the stroller, or the man ravaged by addictions.  There I go. The journey of this short and precious life of ours is to realize how short and precious it is. It is waking up from this dream to know that we are all in this together.  All of this is us. 

This isn’t asking us to turn a blind eye to injustice or violence, it saying that we respond to this behaviour not with more injustice or more violence but with its opposite.  All of the terrors we inflict on one another when truly looked at come from a place of fear. We have a choice to realize that what is committed on one is committed on all. 

Small acts of kindness ripple out. 

As Bob Marley sang, “One Love! One Heart!
Let's get together and feel all right”

We are all in this together!  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Looking Through Fresh Eyes

Until a couple of days ago, in fact, for the last few months, depression has been a constant companion.  Albeit, an unwanted one, it whispered in my ear and harped in my brain that the world was a large and lonely place, that no one cared, that I was of no use. Unfriendly chemicals in my brain were doing a not so happy dance and there were many days when I barely dragged myself out of bed. Always tired, always doing battle with myself, each day was like a dark and lonely night. The depressed eyes I was looking through saw a depressed world. 
Most people know me as a friendly, kind, compassionate soul and to some degree I have been able to maintain that facade through these dark days.  Mostly I isolate so others don’t have to witness this side. And I isolate as many do not know how to respond to this kind of illness that can’t be shown on x-rays or blood tests. 
Unknown to many the depression side of me was not so kind or compassion to myself. There was always this sense of hopeless helplessness, victimized by genetics, by environments, by who the heck knows what. Just as firmly as that depression set hold, its tentacles are now loosening. 
This morning I woke up, refreshed, the birds yet to migrate sang songs lingering from the last days of summer sweet and melodic. The fresh air coming through my open window was revitalizing. Some pink roses are blooming in my garden, one fully open and two pink buds opening up to the world. Sparky and I walked up to the Moss Street Market this morning and I bought the beautiful extra large farm fresh eggs that I am fond of but have not purchased all season. A basket of organic garlic called to me and some lovely jewel yams. As the season changes and I wake up life is good and love is abundant. Sparky and I walked home and we stopped and chatted with fellow market goers and Saturday morning dog walkers. I feel alive, vigorous and deserving of this beautiful life as I write this. 
The lesson realized today though is that not if, but when a depression returns, I must remember that the small little sorrowful me also needs compassion and kindness. I must learn to listen to that wisdom that knows for itself. 

It is in this realization that I must speak out about how we closet mental illness;I prefer to call it emotional illness. Depression is the number one illness in this world. Yet there is shame, a denial, a shiny face that those who suffer must show to the world. We cloak it in the words, “I’m fine.” To be ashamed of an illness that is not only so debilitating emotionally, socially, financially
is the shame. Many folks struggle with anxiety, depression, mania labelled with fancy psychological terms such as borderline personality disorder, bi-polar and others. Every one of us is in relationship with at least one someone who is suffering. We may not “know” but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. 
I really believe that what exacerbates emotional illness is the denial, the minimizing and the patronizing of it. To recognize, acknowledge it, accept that it exists and like everything in this world is transitory is the much needed attitude change. Everything changes. 
How can you be of help? Don’t counsel, don’t offer just be happy platitudes, listen.  Gently ask the friend or loved one if they’ve sought medical advice and kindly suggest that you would support their decision to see a family doctor, a counsellor, a psychiatrist.  Empathize but above all do not take on their suffering, do not blame yourself, understand that if they blame you it is the mental illness talking. It is neither good for you nor your friend to become mired in the confusion and sorrow mental angst can bring. This is disempowering. All you need to do is be there, make space for what is happening not because it should or shouldn’t but because it is. Seek out resources for those like you who are supporting friends or loved ones with emotional illness. 

Above all be ever vigilant, not fearful, but aware that you too may at some time experience a depression that feels never-ending, a lonely space to be. If this happens, speak up and seek support. Remember this and always, always be kind and compassionate to you. 
Today, I look through fresh eyes.