The Power of Compassion

The Power of Compassion

 Last week, we looked at the Power of Acceptance.  About how we have been programed to judge and push away parts of who we are, either because they are what we deem bad parts or even our gifts that seemed unacceptable to those who raised us.  We talked about how accepting these parts of us allows us to explore and reconsider decisions we made growing up to fit in, receive love and acceptance and perhaps even to feel safe.

 

Let’s bring compassion into the picture 

This week, we are going to take a next step.  We are going to explore the power of compassion.  Compassion brings into play empathy.  Compassion is the feeling of true acceptance; of allowing the hardness of our heart to melt as we encounter aspects of our self that we judge or condemn. 

Maybe you say, I accept that part of me.  But is that acceptance true?  Are you secretly saying to accept it only hoping that it will go away?   Do you secretly feel shame because of that part?

 

Compassion is about feeling and empathy 

Compassion happens when we feel into and understand our parts.    When we understand that all our parts are there for a purpose.  That in their own, often misguided way, have our best interest at heart. 

 

Here is an example from my life:

 

I have a part that doesn’t trust other people.  I judge myself for not trusting other people.  I see how it can lead to isolation and pushing others away.  I judge that as wrong and feel like there is something wrong with me.  

When I feel into that part, I notice the emotion of fear.  I feel that fear in my belly.   When I feel into that, fear, I notice that underneath the fear is sadness and hurt.    Memories of being hurt, abused and tormented by other people begin to surface.  Feelings of being alone and unprotected.  Feelings of being powerless and unsafe.  I decided that people weren’t safe.  I was alone and I had to do it myself.  I had to take care of myself because nobody else would.  I became a loner.  

With all this information, I can understand why I don’t trust people.  People from my past hurt me, emotionally and physically.  At the time, I wasn’t safe.  I didn’t feel safe.  I needed to distance myself from those who would hurt me to stay safe.  I became invisible and small.  I needed to stay out of their radar.  By doing that, I was safer.  The choices I made at the time kept me safer and allow me to survive my childhood.    

In my adult life, I continued to live by these beliefs and actions.  I was small.  I was afraid to step out and be seen.  I didn’t thrive in life.  I didn’t feel fulfilled or loved.  And I was afraid.  I had many health issues.  

By understanding all of this, I could have compassion for myself.  I could embrace the part of me that was frightened and needed to be small and push people away.  I could understand why I didn’t trust people.  I also realized that I had often attracted people to me that treated me with the same disrespect.  I was reliving the experience from my childhood again and again.  

Yet, now I am an adult.  I have resources available that I didn’t then.  I could reconsider my choices.  At the time, I did what I needed to do to survive and feel safe.  I survived my childhood.  I grew into an adult.   Yet, I had to ask, if these choices were still serving me.   Are the decisions I made still true.  Are the strategies that I adopted to survive still needed and effective.    What is the cost of staying safe?  Is what I am losing out on, worth the perceived safety? 

From that perspective, I could make different choices.  I could use the power of discernment to choose who I let into my life and who I wouldn’t.  I could practice self-love by saying no to people who treated me with disrespect or hurt me.  I could find new friends whom I felt safe with.  I could let people in and feel connected rather than isolated.  I could ask for help and not feel I had to do it all alone. 

By calling on the power of Compassion we can transform 

By accepting and having compassion for the part of me that didn’t trust people, I was able to discover the fear and hurt inside.  I could understand the choices I made to keep myself safe.  I could reconsider and make different choices.  But without acceptance and compassion and some self-inquiry, I was stuck and alone.  

Now I have loving considerate friends.  I feel connected to myself and to others.  I use discernment when I meet people and discretion as to who I allow in my inner circle of close friends.  I can ask for help and not feel like I am all alone and frightened all the time.  

Also, by going through this process and feeling and accepting with compassion suppressed emotions and creating a life where I didn’t need to be fearful, my body began to heal in ways that it hadn’t before.  Pain reduced, sleep improved, fatigue lessened, anxiety dropped, contentment improved.  

Transformation is a process

This transformation has been a process.  And challenging at times.  The fearful part of me, had to take some risks to trust and try a different way of being.   Had to risk saying no to people that weren’t respectful or that just didn’t resonate with me.  I had to stop being a people pleaser and listen to my deeper inner voice and make the best choice for my well-being even if someone else didn’t approve of it.

 

It is worth the effort

It was totally worth the effort.  I will have many more years of inner peace, love and greater fulfillment for understanding and shifting the old patterns of protection into new patterns of empowerment and self-love.  This process allowed me to stop playing small and to access my inner gifts and share them with the world.  And finding great fulfillment in that.

The awareness, acceptance and compassion were instrumental in supporting this inner transformation and freeing me from a life of misery and delivering me into a life of freedom, joy and fulfillment.  I wish that for you too.   That you can meet yourself with awareness, acceptance and compassion to set yourself on the path of transformation and inner peace, fulfillment and improved health.

 

Awareness Practice for this week:

  • Take some time this week to sit with parts of yourself that you judge.
  • Do some self-inquiry to identify emotions, thoughts, beliefs, memories and physical sensations connected with that part.
  • Watch what happens.

 

Receiving help for your transformation

I understand this can be a challenging to do alone.  I am working on some affordable programs to support you in this work:

  • Reclaim your Power Program – a 21-day program to guide you step by step on how to connect with your body, heart, emotions and soul.
  • An online group program entitled, “Healing the Pain Body”, where we can come together to support each other in this transformation.
  • As always, I also offer one on one sessions to assist you in unraveling the underlying matrix of beliefs, emotions and negative cellular memories to help you to rebuild your health and reclaim your life.

 

May you meet yourself with compassion, moment by moment.

 

Bindu

The Power of Acceptance Pt 2

The Power of Acceptance Pt 2

Last week, we talked about accepting what was showing up in our environment and how by accepting that rather than ignoring, resisting or denying what was, we could empower our self to make choices and take actions or shift our perceptions of what is to improve our situation. 

This week let’s look at how accepting our inner world can lead to significant changes in our health and happiness.

 

 Increasing Awareness

When we begin to become more aware of our thoughts, emotions and body sensations, we might not approve of what we are encountering.    Most of us were raised by people who had not been raised by parents who exhibited unconditional love.    We were silently trained how to behave in order to win our parents approval.

 

 

Were you told parts of you were unacceptable? 

Perhaps you were told you were too sensitive.  Perhaps, it wasn’t safe or acceptable to feel your emotions.  Perhaps you were told that children should be quiet.  Maybe you had a gift of music or art and didn’t fare well in our mentally oriented school system.  What if the religion of your parents didn’t resonate with you? 

How often do we judge ourselves for being who we are?  How often do you compare yourself with others and think you should be different than you are?  Do you have spiritual or religious expectations that you can’t meet? 

Are you so happy and excited about life that others feel uncomfortable around you?  Do you speak your truth and notice how others might be uncomfortable with that?  Are you too loud, not loud enough?  Are to too introverted or too extroverted?  Too thin, too fat?  Too tall, too short.  Maybe your hair is curly, and you want it to be straight. 

We often embody the expectations of the elders from our childhood and use them to constantly criticize our self.  We often push away our uniqueness, gifts and talents, because they were deemed unacceptable by those who raised us.

 

Increased awareness must include acceptance and compassion 

As we increase our awareness, we become more aware of the parts of our self that we dislike or have pushed away.    We can become more aware of how we criticize our self.  This can be uncomfortable.  We might not want to look at this.  Yet, but allowing this increased awareness gives us the opportunity to make different choices.  By accepting ourselves, even the “bad” parts of our self, and looking at them with honesty and acceptance, we begin the process of transforming our self.   We even need to accept the part of our self that judges us.

 

“Whatever arises, needs more love, not less”

Are we conditioned to punish our self?

Even this may seem counter intuitive to your conditioning.  Most of us have been raised that if we did something “wrong” we needed to be punished.  We still hold that belief thinking that we are doing something “wrong” and the only way to stop doing it is to punish ourselves.  

Maybe the reverse is true.  Maybe we need more love, not less.  Maybe if we stopped criticizing and beating up on ourselves silently in our head, and instead met our self with compassion and acceptance, we would heal and thrive.    

Maybe the parts of our self that we think are wrong or bad, just need to be loved.  Maybe our unique authentic self that has been pushed into the background needs to be revisited and reclaimed as part of our journey to health and happiness.

Learning to meet our self with love and acceptance is a journey, not an event.  It must be approached with compassion and patience.  

 

Awareness Practice:

  • Become aware of your inner critic with compassion, understanding that part of you is really doing what it thinks is best for your highest good. Let it know that there are now more choices available.
  • Consider what parts of you that you have suppressed or hidden because they were deemed unacceptable by someone from your past. Acknowledge and reconnect with those parts.  (hint: they are probably parts of yourself that you judge) 

 

May you blossom under the acceptance of yourself. 

Bindu

 

The Power of Acceptance

The Power of Acceptance

Last week, we talked about the Power of Awareness.  Once you become aware of something, the next step is Acceptance.  This week let’s explore the Power of Acceptance. 

I think word acceptance is scary for most of us.  This is especially true for women with Fibromyalgia.  We think, “If I accept this, then I will never get rid of it.  The only way I can get rid of it is to reject it or fight it.”  You even might think, “How can I possibly accept something this horrible!”  I get it.  I was there.   

Acceptance is the door to the path of moving beyond any experience 

For years, I fought my fibromyalgia.

I thought I could push myself through and beyond it.  I didn’t fully accept my limitations.  After several years of this, my fibromyalgia got so bad that the pain was worse than ever.  I ACCEPTED that what I was doing wasn’t working and was not sustainable.

I had to accept that what I could do was limited and if I pushed myself trying to keep up with a life that I once had or a life that I wanted, I was only making things worse.  Out of that acceptance, I was able to truthfully reassess my choices.  I had to accept that I could only work a certain number of hours a day.  I had to accept that if I pushed myself physically, I would be in severe pain for the next few days.  I had to accept that I never knew what I would feel like in the morning and that I had to adjust my day based on how I felt when I woke up.  Some days, I felt pretty good and could get a lot done.  Some days, I felt awful and needed to move more slowly.   Somedays, I had brain fog and had to adjust to accommodate that; sometimes just knowing the same amount of mental work would take longer.

 

Only by accepting my limitations, I could make better choices

As I accepted and respected my limitations,  I could make better choices.  Here are some examples:

  • I began to be notice when I started getting tired and if I pushed myself past the fatigue, the pain would kick in. By accepting that, and stopping when I got tired, I experienced less pain.
  • I began to notice what physical activities would heighten the pain. By accepting that, I would avoid them when possible or do them on a day, where I could rest the following day.
  • I began to be aware of food choices that made me feel worse. By accepting that, I could make different food choices.  And honestly, I fought that one for a long time . . and paid the price.
  • I accepted that most medical doctors didn’t have solutions for fibromyalgia that were acceptable or workable for me, so I made different choices. I researched and discovered different options and found those that worked for me.

 

I began to accept that I had fibromyalgia and it limited me . . .

and if I wanted to move beyond it, I had to accept those limitations.

 

Here is a non-fibromyalgia example.

I was in a relationship with a person who was emotionally abusive.  I accepted that as the truth of the situation.  I also had to accept that I couldn’t change him and that it was unlikely that he would change.  I also realized that I stayed in the relationship out of a deep desire to be loved and was afraid if I left the relationship, I would be alone.  Out of these realizations, I took steps to widen out my circle of friends.  I began to realize that I was more content alone that when I was with the other person.  I had to make some hard decisions and ask the man to leave and then stand with my decision.   I am so glad that I did.  I am in a much better place as a result of these choices.  I feel strong in myself and less needy of others. 

Accepting ‘what is’, gives you the power to make different choices. 

Resisting ‘what is’, drains your energy and keeps you stuck. 

Awareness turns the light on ‘what is’.

Accepting ‘what is’ gives you the power find solutions. 

Self-Inquiry for this week:

  • Take an honest evaluation of yourself and your relationship with fibromyalgia. Are you fighting is or accepting it?  If you accepted it, what changes could you make?  What options might open up for you?  
  • What other areas in your life do you resist? What would it mean if you accepted the reality of the situation?  What changes might that inspire you to take?

 

May you embrace the Power of Acceptance and allow it to transform your life, 

Bindu

The Power of Awareness

The Power of Awareness

The Power of Awareness 

Imagine going into a house in the middle of the night, the sky is cloudy, no stars and no moon.  You walk in the front door.  The house is dark.  You can’t find the light switch.  Finally, you find a small candle.  It is very dim, but you can see a little bit.  The house is very cluttered.  Furniture and piles of stuff lying around.    Yet as the light from the candle is so dim, you keep tripping over stuff in the dark.  You fall down again and again and have to keep hauling yourself up from the ground.  It gets very tiring.  

A friend arrives and brings you a very large spotlight.  When you turn it on, you can see the house clearly.  You can see what is in the house more clearly.  You can discern useful furniture and appliances.  You can see piles of junk mail that is no longer needed.  You can see pile of unfinished projects. 

 

This demonstrated the Power of Awareness 

Our body is the house.  Within the body resides unfinished business and unnecessary thoughts, emotions and cellular memories.  Also, within the body resided our inner knowing, necessary functions, abilities, good judgement.  

By increasing awareness, we have the ability to see things more clearly.  The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.  Sometimes we don’t want the awareness because we don’t want to see the bad and ugly.  However, that only keep us stuck tripping over the mess and falling down and having to lift ourselves out of the mess again and again.  

 

A dose of acceptance goes a long way 

Along with awareness, an equal measure of acceptance is necessary.  With acceptance we observe from a place of equanimity and use discernment to discover what is helpful and valuable and what can be discarded. 

 

What clouds awareness 

The greatest block to awareness is the mind.   For most of us, our mind is going constantly day and night.  There is very little space for awareness to shine through the business of the mind.   To access awareness, we need to begin to break up the constant stream of thinking. 

 

Tools to nurture awareness 

Here are some tools to create gaps in the stream of thought and access awareness. 

  1. By bringing you attention the breath for even a few moments can create a gap in the thoughts.  Give it a try right now.  See what happens with you pause to focus on your breath.  If you have even a 3 second gap between the thought, that is a great starting place. 
  2. Slowing down the breath. Slowing down the breath takes more attention away from your thoughts and can create additional gaps in the breath. 
  3. Become conscious of your surroundings. Really see and feel the chair you are setting on.  Touch the table in front of you.  Notice the feel of the surface and the colors.  Look at the walls and notice pictures and other things hanging on the walls. Go outside and look at the sky; admire the flowers beginning to bloom; the trees getting buds; the snow on the ground. 
  4. Truly see other people. The next person you encounter, stop thinking for a few minutes and really look at them.  See them.  Let go of your thoughts about them.  See their face, their body posture, the expression they wear.  What can you observe beyond your chronic thoughts about them?  

These tools will allow you to begin to break the addiction of thinking and open to moments of the awareness the already exists beyond the mind. 

 

Awareness practice 

This week, practice taking mini awareness breaks using some of the suggestions above or creating your own.  

 

May you grow in awareness, 

Bindu

Navigating Crisis with Awareness

Navigating Crisis with Awareness

The world is in a panic with the spread of the Corona Virus. Along with the political environment the world feels chaotic and unstable and even dangerous. How can we navigate this chaos in the most sourceful, calming and healthy way? How can we use this situation to enhance the positive rather than focusing on fear while at the same time taking necessary precautions to ensure our health?

Stepping forward with Awareness is the key. Without awareness:

  • The mind can spiral out of control down a frightening rabbit hole.
  • The panic purchasing has already spiraled out of control and fuels even more panic.
  • We can either exaggerate or diminish the true and healthy response to the situation.
  • Our pain body can become triggered and run the show.

How do we step back into awareness?

1. Stop and breath.

Several times a day, simply stop and take several long, slow deep breaths. Deep breathing calms the nervous system and lessens the tendency for negative emotions to take control. Deep breathing also helps one to step back into awareness.

2. Step back into awareness.

Engage the witness. Watch your thoughts and emotions. When you are in a state of witness consciousness, you have the power to choose. It not, the mind can drag you down a very dark tunnel.

3. Chose wisely.

What thoughts frighten you? What thoughts inspire you? What thoughts are aligned with fear? What thoughts are aligned with common sense? As you watch the mind from awareness, you can use discrimination as to which thoughts to give your attention to and which thoughts.

4. What is real, right here, right now.

Be aware of the tendency to awfulizing. What do you need to do right here right now to keep yourself and your family safe? Watch the tendency to project what may or may not happen in the future. Deal with what needs to happen in the present moment.

5. Trust in the big picture.

I know the world can seem like a very scary place right now. Yet, there is a higher force of goodness that is far superior than any egoic manipulations or dramas playing out in the world. Trust that there are more loving, heart centered people in the world and that the power of love will always, ALWAYS over come fear.

 

6. BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF LOVE.

Here are some quotes to help ground you in a positive focus

And the People Stayed Home

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.  And the people began to think differently.

“And the people healed.  And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

~Kitty O’Meara

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighborhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM March 13th 2020

 

Until Next Week:

May you be safe.

May you be happy

May you be free.

May you know your true self.

May your heart be open to love and compassion.

From my heart to yours, 

Bindu

Understanding Fibromyalgia Pain and Suffering

Understanding Fibromyalgia Pain and Suffering

Years ago, someone introduced me to the difference between pain and suffering.  Until that time, I hadn’t made a distinction between the two.  To me, pain and suffering was the same thing.  Over the years, I began to begin to see the difference between the two . . . and that makes a huge difference in my experience.  Let’s explore this and how it relates to women with fibromyalgia.

 

Pain

Although there are other kinds of pain, for this part of the conversation, I will define pain as a sensation in the body.   We might have back pain, abdominal pain, headaches, neck and shoulder pain.    Our legs might ache.   We might have a burning sensation on our skin.

In this definition, pain is a sensation in the physical body.    Take a moment now and bring your attention to a place in your body where you feel pain.  Focus on that sensation as nothing more than a sensation in the body.    Rate the sensation on a scale of 1-10.  Ten being extremely intense, I gotta stop this and one being barely noticeable.

For a few moments simply observe the pain as a sensation and nothing more.  And for an extra bonus, deepen your breath while you do so.   Continue to observe the pain as sensation.

I am not saying to minimize the pain or the importance of it.  I am saying to simply for a few moments to just be present with the pain.  Watch what happens as you observe the pain.

Notice how successful you are at this or not.  Can you be present with the pain without any thoughts about the pain other than it is a sensation in the body?   Most of us can’t do that.  For most of us, our mind will be filled with thoughts and emotions will arise.

 

Suffering

Now become aware of the mental and emotional content around the pain.  I am not trying to minimize or marginalize your pain.  But to help you differentiate the difference between the mental and emotional pain and the physical pain.  Both are real.  Both are painful.  Both need to be addressed.

Now, as your focus on the sensation in your body, also become aware of your thoughts and the emotions you are feeling.

Do you feel sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, resigned, upset, discouraged?  What flavor is your emotion that is connected to the physical sensation in the body?

What thoughts come into your mind as you observe the sensation in the body?  Here are a few out of an infinite number of possibilities.  I hate this pain.  It is my fault.  Why did this happen to me?  How can I get rid of this pain?  I hope the doctors find a cure soon.  Nobody believes me.  Why don’t they understand how miserable I feel?   I hate it when people tell me it is all in my head!

When we are dealing with fibromyalgia, we experience physical, emotional and mental pain.  The emotional and mental part is what I called suffering.  It magnifies the physical pain.  This isn’t bad or wrong.  It is simply a way to pull apart the elements in the matrix called fibromyalgia.

 

Why is this important? 

This is important because it identifies and makes more conscious the puzzle pieces that make up the experience of fibromyalgia.    The more aware and conscious we are of the pieces, the more empowered we are to transform the experience.

For example.    You have pain in your abdomen.  When you focus on that sensation, you begin to feel sad.  You mind says, nobody hears me or understands me.     This is a sign that there may be an emotional wound underlying the pain in your abdomen.    Sub or unconscious cellular memories of a time when you were unheard and disrespected and misunderstood.  With the right tools, the sub and unconscious cellular memories can be neutralized and can alleviate the pain.

This is a simple example, but it illustrates the underlying cause of some of our physical pain.  There are other causes of physical pain as well.   Here are links to some previous blogs that focus on the physical causes of pain.  Anatomy of a Symptom and 12 Steps to Balance the Body

I know that this is a big trigger for many women with fibromyalgia.   I know because I had it too.  How often are women with fibromyalgia told things like:  “It is all in your head”.  “Your pain can’t be that bad”.  “You are too sensitive.”  “Everyone has pain.”  “You are just lazy.”    And when we are suffering and people say that it simply makes the pain worse.

I had a part of me that never felt valued, understood, respected, heard or loved.    For me, that was just as painful as the physical pain.  Maybe even worse.    I think that many of us, as women with fibromyalgia, have a common emotional wound around not feeling heard and believed.  My mom had that.  I had that.   Do you?   What are your triggers?  What is the predominate emotional pain in your life?   That holds the key to part of the healing process.

 

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are common symptoms of fibromyalgia.  They are both signs that there are unresolved suppressed emotions, trauma and/or negative life experiences.  This can be resolved with the right tools and support.

I am working on a program to assist women with fibromyalgia to move beyond these kinds of unresolved experiences.  Stay tuned.

 

Awareness practice for this week:

Take some time to focus on the “sensations” in your body and notice your thoughts and emotions while you do so.  See if you can discern unique patterns with different parts of the body.   Have fun experimenting with this.  It doesn’t need to be serious . . . unless it is.

 

May you discover the transformative power of self-love, 

Bindu