I was asked by a neighbor the other day how I was doing? What started as a casual inquiry suddenly felt like a loaded question as I paused, looked at the sidewalk and returned her gaze. I gave her a generic answer of “Okay, I guess” before I continued to my car. I sat in the driveway and felt the dread in my stomach building before I pressed a station on my radio and turned up an eighties dance song. As I pulled away from my house, I began to say my blessings out loud and gave thanks for all that I had. I didn’t feel any better, but more often than not this habit initially stops or lowers the volume of negativity in my head and I am able to redirect myself with the help of my affirmations and the music blasting.
Every day I am challenged to keep my heart open and my breathing full. Like many of you reading this if you’ve been around long enough, we’re finding ourselves dipping into our reserves of grace to stay present and active. In talking with my clients and others, we are all using our mantra’s, breathing deeply into our bellies and keeping our fitness goals just to be able to stay confident and aware. Every day, and unfairly so, we are learning to devour more horrific news expanding our capacity for being uncomfortable and releasing it all back into the luminous universe when we get a chance.
A practice that my guru taught me has become very necessary throughout my days. Whenever a disturbing thought starts gathering steam in my head, I focus on it first releasing any ownership to its place in my brain. Secondly, I take a deep breath into my solar plexus connecting the thought to the breath. Thirdly I then exhale, escorting the thought out of my awareness on the out breath. This exercise has been part of my “toolbox” for some time. It’s only in the last year or so been a mainstay of how I cope. After a while, the anxiety-inducing thoughts stop showing up as much as they use to and they don’t stick around.
So whatever you may use to free yourself of daily dramas know that you’re in good company and that when you stay for extended periods in awareness, that which used to take you down will, in the end, make you stronger.
John Shinavier, MA, Life/Career Coach
A client that I have seen off and on for many years has held positions in large corporations, been a political strategist for a president, and managed the philanthropic endeavors of a Forbes five hundred company. He has been on a trajectory that we planned together and tweaked for over thirty years. I’ll call him Will for this blog. Will has come a long way in his life and has gathered awards and kudos along with large paychecks and apartments in several cities. At his core, he is a wonderful giving person, however, at times forgets what he originally came in to me for. Reviewing his notes we found his inability to set boundaries as one theme and his feelings at times of becoming mentally and physically exhausted.
A chaotic childhood,no personal space, and intrusive parenting gave him little time for himself. Recognition that he was raised to be a people pleaser did not translate into having great confidence. Boundaries were explained in session and his homework was setting healthy boundaries with family, colleagues, and friends. His initial discomfort with saying “no” slowly changed and his life continued on its path to success and fulfillment.
Burnouts, of the kind that Will was experiencing were the result of his habit of over extending himself to those with whom he worked with. This in itself does not create feelings of exhaustion but when Will let his daily regiment of working out and taking time each day to meditate to be compromised, he began to realize that if he wanted to keep his competitive edge he needed this time in his day to recharge his batteries. The motto that he acquired early on of “Drink while you pour.”, when forgotten, led to these periods of mental exhaustion and physical stress until he brought his routine back into balance.
The benefit of taking care of oneself whether working, serving others, raising a family, or simply living one’s life is the secret of successful people.
I title this blog specifically because I am a part of that stereotype that the rest of the country may or may not remember when the ripe subject of what Californians are doing comes up around the dinner tables of the rest of the country; vegan eating, meat shaming, prayer shawl fashion, mantra loving yoga twisting crowd!
I say we are pretty lucky that Jerry Brown is still Governor of California, and still, there is a groundswell growing pack of extreme liberals that suggested we leave the rest of you, and secede.
However, it is to my own crowd that I expected more from? For all of my “spiritual” friends, I found a lot of catastrophic responses to something that we have no control over; the social media!
We should know that the basis of practicing spirituality comes to knowing the message and then practicing it; “Stop Reacting”. Stop being outraged and do a little more Breath of fire to blow out the rest of your expectations of yourself and others and get to work.
The misconception that we as meditators should be able to “hold the space” and let others have their feelings and their reactions is sorely being tested in these times.
Tool: When becoming overwhelmed, with one-foot, stomp the floor and shout ( or say loudly in your mind: “STOP.” Your mind will stop bothering you.
John Shinaiver is a Life/Career/Spiritual Coach
- Stop reacting. This is something that you eventually learn as you get older. Save your energy for the things that matter.
- Negative thoughts: Our minds are like cheap AM radios. There are no filters. You are not your thoughts. Look at your thoughts with a detachment.
- Habitual business. Where did you pick this up? If you base your worth on how busy you are, you will miss chances to connect in meaningful ways with others.
- There is emotional drama around us all the time, walk away from it. It drains your energy.
- Comparing yourself, to others has no benefits. Start by being thankful for what you have. Wanting what others have, means you find yourself incomplete.
- Practice being in the moment. Look around you. Let all your senses connect to the moment and breathe,
- If you want to become lighter, give up everything that weighs you down.
- To change, you must first give up the things in life which no longer serve you.
- No one has the same reality. Stop thinking everyone should see things your way. We’re all on our own Ask questions. Be humble.
- Being yourself is very important. It’s the most beautiful and powerful form of rebellion.
- It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel things so very strongly.
- The only mistake is a missed opportunity to learn from it.
- Stop worrying about what others think of you. You’re not that important. People do things because of themselves. Worrying serves no useful purpose.
- Fear is a feeling, not a fact. Walk into your fears on a daily basis. It’s the best way to gain strength and self-confidence. Take more chances.
- Keep yourself, and your mind open. Don’t hate what you don’t know.
- When you truly don’t care what others think of you, you’ve reached a dangerous awesome level of freedom.
- Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Everyone no matter who, is struggling with something.
- Spend more time with people that make you laugh. Keep them close.
- Cultivate empathy, hope, joy, love, and peace.
- There are no “shoulds,” only the present moment.
- When you start seeing your worth, you’ll find it harder to be around others who don’t.
- Your only challenge in this life is to silence the mind.
- Practice saying or thinking “Thank you.” Gratitude attracts prosperity.
- Don’t wait for things to happen, make them yourself.
- Never confuse education with intelligence.
- Silence is better than bullshit. Listen, let others talk.
- Old behaviors won’t open new doors.
- Stop apologizing for your emotions.
- Kindness is not an act. It is a lifestyle.
- Be yourself; the façade is so hard to carry.
- You don’t have to be perfect, just good.
- The trouble is you think you have time lots of time to change.
- The words you speak become the house you live in.
- A sense of humor goes a long way in clearing conflict, doubts, and depression.
John Shinavier, MA is a Life and Career Coach