Monday, December 17, 2012

Loving awareness

I'm getting married in less than a month! In four weeks from today, Jeff and I will be waking up early for breakfast and a few special moments in Key West, before heading to the courthouse for our wedding certificate. Then we'll split up for the day and meet at sunset on Smathers Beach to exchange our promises. I'm finding myself residing in these anticipated moments a lot lately!

This moment, I'm at work, sitting behind my elevated counter. I'm alert and friendly this morning. I've got two customers in here that don't really know what they want or what they can get based on our contract's terms. This sometimes irritates me. Sometimes I just want to sit here and do my own thing, and customers piss me off simply by coming into the store. This is pretty silly. These guys just need to get some items, and my store is a pretty reasonable place to start when trying to figure out the hoops and loops of material acqusition around here.

This moment, I'm blessed to be full of food. We baked all day yesterday as part of our annual baking tradition, and ended up with clean-eating sausage balls, puppy chow with Chex, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and some rolled Christmas cookies. I love pulling those cookie cutters out each year. This year's moment was especially warm.

This moment, I'm ancy. I slept an extra hour this morning instead of working out, and I feel like moving. I like to use my cigarette breaks to walk back to the pipe yard and back, because it takes the perfect amount of time and I love the idea of moving my legs around since they stay pretty still throughout the rest of the day. I'm thinking of heading over to the gym at lunch for a little movement. Even though I left my ipod at home today, doh!

This moment is kind of ordinary in some ways, but it's extraordinary in some, too.

This moment is illuminated by loving awareness.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some helpful affirmations for today

I am a wreck. I thought that I'd be immune to the pre-wedding stress, since our plans are pretty simple. I was incorrect. I'm not so much worried about the potluck, wedding, or vacation, as I am worried about staying un-crazy throughout the rest of this month and during our Key West trip. Maintaining composure. Not embarrassing myself or Jeffrey. Not being mean to anyone. Certainly NOT having a huge, crying hissy fit. These are the things I am worrying about. I'm feeling unstable and very, very frightened.

There's the usual pre-wedding and holiday stress: Our guestbook bench isn't finished, and I'm nervous about it being painted and dried long enough to allow everyone to sign without smudging paint. I still have no idea how the "ceremony" will be led at the potluck, and I just don't feel like thinking about it. Jeff and I are both trying to curb giant portions and snacking, but we still want to have our annual baking weekend. My stepdad needs us to clean the gutters on all four houses and the garage on Grey's Point. I have a holly bush that needs to go into the ground pronto. The Christmas craft that I'm working on for my friends is JUST. NOT. WORKING. OUT. All these are small inconveniences. But they're being overshadowed by some pretty dark BIGNESS that I can't seem to shake.

One of my sisters moved back to the area about a month ago, and some discussions with her and my other sister opened up a lot of old wounds. A lot of old wounds that I thought several years of therapy would have healed for good. Does any of it every truly heal for good? Will it ever be possible to remember certain things without attaching my own anger, grief, and blame, and without brooding over those negative feelings?

Will there ever be a time in which I actually feel like doing the tough work that I know is required for me to stay emotionally balanced and out of an institution?

Lots of thoughts like these have been swarming through my head. I've been practicing a few techniques from my self-help toolbox. I'd like to outline some of them and provide some of the positive affirmations I'm using to remind myself about the True Nature of all this experience.

  • Daily mindfulness pauses - First off, I need to be sure that I'm staying present and mindful about my experiences, instead of just trying to rush through them and stashing them away without honoring each as part of my whole, part of my ever-changing manifestion of Soul. I added a mindfulness bell app to my phone. It rings (actually, gongs) every 2 hours or so if my phone isn't on silent, and when I hear the bell, I'm reminded to take a moment, put my hand over my heart, recognize what experience I'm having in that moment, and honor it. I also use an affirmation each time the bell rings.
  • Body scans - One of my biggest struggles is calming down once I've gotten emotionally worked up. The most effective technique that helps me escape the spiral of thoughts and stories about my experience, is to pause and scan my body for tightness. There's almost always a tightness in my shoulders, hunched up to my ears. I frequently notice a tightness in my neck or chest when I'm upset. There's a huge knot in my gut when I know I'm ignoring my intuition, but don't want to admit it. The more I pause to scan my body, the more I'm familiar with what each sensation can mean about what's going through my heart and mind. Yoga helps a ton, too.
  • Positive affirmations - Some people swear by them, some people think they're rediculous. I think they're a huge help with refocusing my attention towards the possibilities in my uncertain future, rather than the fears and dreads. Here are a couple of the ones that I'm keeping close to my heart this week:
    • I give out love, and it is returned to me in multitudes.
    • I am letting go of old patterns and illogical thinking in order to see True Nature.
    • The loving awareness in my heart is healing my Soul.
    • My friends and family still love me even when I don't feel proud of myself

So I go out into the world, unable to control how these future moments will turn out. But I can control my present moment, and my attitude in this present moment.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reminder Moments

I struggle often with being fully present in any given moment. Most of us do. Here's a scenario: I'm walking down the street in a small town, holding Jeff's hand. Here's what I'd like to be going through my head:

Wow, this is a great moment. I can feel the warmth of Jeff's hand, the breeze on my face, and the firm concrete underneath the heels and then balls of my feet as I stroll. There's so much to be grateful for in this moment.

Here's what usually goes on in the ol' noggin instead:

Wow, this is a great moment. I enjoy this so much more than sitting at work. I can't believe that guy at work got so angry the other day. Anger is bad! No, wait, no it's not. I don't have to freaking judge everything. I don't have to label it to give myself an illusion of control. I wonder if the control knob on the oven is going to break soon; it's acting like it. 

... and then I trip over a crack in the sidewalk or something.

When I'm able to be fully present in a moment, I feel truly open to life. OPEN. All the barriers are down. I want to embody this presence as much as I can, whether it's in a good moment or a moment of suffering. Almost all of the pain I incur during my times of suffering are a direct result of the thinking I do about the suffering. It comes from resisting the suffering and believing that it doesn't belong in that moment. But it does. Shitty things are going to happen, and it's only normal to be sad or upset about them. If I can really OPEN up to that pain, even inviting it, I can hold it in a loving space inside myself, letting it take over that moment, without letting it take over who I am or any future moments. When I resist the pain, it nearly always creeps into future moments, when I could be opening up to that hand-holding or something else beautiful.

So, my mantra this week has been, "This moment too. I allow this moment (or emotion/pain/thought/urge/craving) to move through me in this moment, and I know that this moment (emotion/pain/thought/urge/craving) does not define me or my future moments." It gets shortened to, "This, too," after a few rounds. It reminds me that I have control over how I react to life, even if I can't control what life's throwing my way.