Monday, December 20, 2010

The “I Might Consider Forgiving” Starter Kit

We can be mindful of how we forgive very minor incidents in two simple steps; first acknowledge, then release. Highly charged situations require a bit more attention, but we will get to that later and start with the basics.

A concrete example of forgiveness:
Think of something that annoys you. Don’t pick a major incident for this exercise. Choose something trivial and light. An interaction with a stranger is a good idea because there is no history beyond what pissed you off. Getting cut off in traffic is a good example.

Acknowledge what happened and make a fist. When you open your hand there is an automatic feeling of letting go. The natural state of our hands is to be open. Muscles and a tiny bit of energy are required to make even a gentle fist. Opening your hands relaxes the muscle. You are literally holding on and then letting go.

When your hand is in a fist, think of what annoyed you. When you open your hand think, “so what” and remind yourself of when you have done something similar.

I have bumbled a few dozen times behind the wheel. I am sure I have inspired a few fists amongst my fellow travelers. Assume whoever pulled an idiotic move isn’t doing anything you have not done in some form at some time. If you get stuck because you have never done anything requiring the stupidity in your example, think of something else you can remember doing.
When your fist is closed you may feel some degree or version of being: justified, angry, righteous, violated, better than, victimized, superior, offended, disrespected, dismissed, not appreciated or forgotten. The important thing to remember is these feelings are very likely charged by past events unrelated to this one. When I am already angry at something and get annoyed in traffic, I experience a stronger feeling than when I am more peaceful in general. This is an example of taking it out on something else.

The “I Might Consider Forgiving” Starter Kit
Your kit should include:
· An annoying interaction with a stranger
· A hand with a fist {okay, and a finger)
· A few thoughts
· A couple of emotions
· Intention to forgive {even a faint glimmer will work, pure skepticism and thinking I am out of my mind is fine too}

Make a fist. Your muscles tighten; think of what annoyed you; you feel upset.
Open your hand. You relax your body, mind and emotion.

As you go about your business practice holding on and letting go. Use this with very simple examples and let the awareness grow stronger. When more powerful examples surface these two steps begin to make even more sense.

Follow the blog for intermediate and advanced techniques.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holidays & Grieving

The first year after the loss of a loved one is exceptionally painful as you navigate each milestone of the New Year. Every holiday, birthday, family anniversary is redefined without a significant member of the gathering. During the first year, each closet in the home will be visited and belongings of the person are discovered. Their smell and passions are brought to the surface. Memories are revisited. Deep longing for the person is sharpened. The change of seasons brings you further away from the time you were together. The start of a new school year and the transition from summer ignites a new beginning you do not want to welcome. You are desperate to believe the new slate is a dream each time you wake up.

As the year passes, daily routines which are unimaginably painful begin to become normal. Your perspective of what is important has shifted to appreciate the smallest gestures of kindness and the suffering or others as monumental. And, what once seemed significant, in the news, in your neighborhood, in the characteristics of those you interact with, now has no impact on your peace of mind. Laughter can be annoying and sadness feels like home.

As the year rounds out and the 13th month begins, each marker on the calendar is not brand new. You have passed this way before without your loved one. You notice the pain is less intense and realize healing has taken place. Now, the holidays and the seasons are a mixture of sadness, precious memories and the welcoming of peace.

As months turn into years, you initiate new traditions. Memories will warm your heart, appreciation of the love you felt will brighten the new day and a smile will gently relax the muscles of your face. There is now a new form of love to welcome. Though it is not what you would have chosen, somehow it is a profound gift that makes you right size with everyone in your life today.

Holidays bring grieving to the surface in a powerful way, first to acknowledge and feel the pain, later to bring magic from deep in your core into your present moment. Laughter now resonates from within and peacefulness feels like home.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"When I was abandoned, ... "

Today marks the one year anniversary of my husband walking away.  The news, delivered over the phone shortly after I arrived at work, was unexpected and began an odyssey through pain, disbelief, questioning reality, my worth and the meaning of love.  It was one of those, thankfully few, moments when you realize your life has just been dramatically altered from what it was just a breath before.
In a recent conversation with a friend, I referred to this transition as ‘when my marriage ended.’  My friend commented on what she described as ‘my interesting choice of words.’  She said it would it be more appropriate to say ‘when I was abandoned.’  After pausing, I realized her comment validated the significance of my experience.  My marriage did end and I continue to learn and understand the role I played in that ending, months, even years, before it began.  Yet, it is important to acknowledge the circumstances and the impact, if only for a moment, as part of the healing process.

 My husband truly adored me.  I have no doubt.  I felt so unconditionally loved; I naively allowed my self-worth to depend on this as a primary source of nourishment.  When it was ripped from me without warning, it felt as though my soul left and I was hollow.  There was a complete and total loss of the man I knew and someone I didn’t recognize was in his place.  I was grieving the death of someone I loved, yet the person was still alive.
So, I start this blog on the anniversary of this traumatizing event, to share my path to healing and forgiveness, to share laughter and pain and most importantly to offer hope to anyone remembering or facing unparalleled pain.  What I am able to write today was unimaginable and not possible during the earlier stages of the grieving process.  By allowing myself to embrace the anguish, hours of crying, anger, regret, and blame I was able to transition into peace, forgiveness and appreciation for the love that was real.
(To respect ‘his’ privacy, I will leave out additional details and refer only to my perception.)