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Archive for August, 2011

We sat in the glorious afternoon sunshine at a sidewalk table outside Chipotle, my lovely German Sheperd puppy and I.  Izzy had her usual bowl of rice and pork.  I sipped a Margarita with my tacos.

Izzy’s beautiful kind eyes and inquisitive puppy face draw people in–anyone who has ever been “owned” by a German Sheperd wants to meet her.  She is adorable.

A woman stopped to greet us and we fell into conversation.  She has a Sheperd very much like Izzy.

We connected as we shared the deep joy our dogs bring us.  The comfort and sense of safety.

Our dogs came into our lives as we faced the aftermath of violation and trauma.

We created a beautiful moment of connection and healing, trusting our stories to the safe container of shared experience, empathy, and non-judgment.

Our human brains are hard-wired to connect with others.  And yet, so often in our hectic lives, we neither listen, nor are we heard.  We don’t truly see each other.  We rush through our days defended and defensive, judging and being judged.  Our hearts closed.

We all want to be heard, to be accepted for who we are.  And yet, to be heard, we also need to listen.  To quietly offer our Presence without trying to advise, judge, or fix the other person.

I am challenging myself to cultivate better habits of listening, to open my heart more and more.  To become more Present.  Will you join me?

XOXO,

Mara Rose

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How to Know When It’s Time to Leave

Why We Gossip–And How to Stop

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Are you feeling stuck, unsure whether to stay in a less than satisfying situation, or whether to leave and find another way?

You are not alone.

Many times in my life, I have stayed in an unhealthy situation far too long.

I have blamed myself, and tried harder.

Or made excuses for the inappropriate behavior of others.  Something Buddhist Master Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as “Idiot Compassion“.   Otherwise known as enabling.

I have allowed fear of an unknown future to keep me frozen in an unacceptable present.

I have worried, ‘Out of the frying pan and into the fire’.

I have bucked up and taken the High Road.

And then I began to embrace Self Compassion and my own Worthiness.

I learned that while true self esteem is generated from deep within ourselves, our self esteem is also affected by how we are treated by those around us.

And even when we know we have done nothing to deserve bad treatment, even when we believe we are “Rising Above”, consistent exposure to toxicity is damaging to our sense of who we are.  And undoing that damage is challenging and time-consuming.

As I deepen my meditation practice and connect with the intuitive wisdom of my body, I’ve discovered another way to consider the question, ‘Do I stay, or do I leave?’

First, I ground and center myself.  I spend some time in meditation.  Then, I consider my present situation.  I attend to what I am experiencing in my body.  I notice I feel anxious.  My heart races, my chest tightens, my breath becomes short.

I am aware I now avoid the situation.  The energy field of my body shrinks and becomes dark when I enter into the situation.

I have tried constructive communication, and come away unsatisfied.  There has been gossip, stirring of the pot, scapegoating.  Violation of boundaries in communication.  Behaviors I do not want in my life.  Even though there are good things about the situation, the negative overshadows.

I have found an alternative situation.  I’ve spent time evaluating the new situation–asking questions, listening, checking in with the wisdom of my body.

I have weighed the objective criteria for each path, to avoid making a reactive decision.

Then, I visualize the new situation–and I feel my body opening, softening, expanding.  I experience a Lightness of Being.

And therein lies the essence of my decision.  I am moving towards the Light.

I engage this process more than once, on different days.  I seek Clarity, Spaciousness.

As move forward in my life, I know that embracing self compassion and my own worthiness go hand in hand with being treated with respect.

And when I am not treated respectfully, when there is a pattern of disrespect–when I observe the pattern of disrespectful behavior is also directed at other people–when my efforts to establish respectful communication are not met by the other, it is time to leave. 

With class and dignity, I walk the Goddess Walk.

Life is too short and too precious to waste on toxic situations.  No situation is perfect.  Life is never perfect.  But when the balance consistently shifts towards the negative, I choose to walk into the Light.

Perhaps you are at a crossroads in your life.

It is my genuine hope that you might find my personal process helpful, as you find your way.

XOXO,

Mara Rose

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The New York Times Health Blog, Self Compassion.

Why We Gossip–And How to Stop

Ask, and You Shall Receive

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I love ending the day with a quiet, meditative ride on my Arabian mare.  A few steps into our ride the other evening, we stopped abruptly.  A snake was in our path.  Thinking it nearly dead, I dismounted and gingerly picked the snake up with a pitchfork.  The snake began writhing around the prongs of the pitchfork, his little forked tongue flicking in and out.

I had been thinking about gossip.

Speaking with a forked tongue.  The snake in the grass.

Perhaps I need to define what I mean by gossip.  The hurtful words we say behind someone’s back are gossip.  Negative crap about others that comes to us by hearsay, gets repeated–and blown out of proportion.  Confidences broken.  Judgments proclaimed.  Unkind opinions spouted.  Criticism.

The snarky comment, the rolled eyes.  The stirring of the pot.

There are some who claim that gossip is harmless.  That gossip creates a connection between the gossipers and reinforces socially appropriate behavior.

I disagree.  Gossip is not benign.

We all know that someone who talks badly about someone to us, will also gossip about us behind our backs.

When we are honest with ourselves, we admit we do not feel “clean” after a session of gossip.

Gossip lends a false “intimacy”.  Talking about others is not the real deal.

We do not respect a person who gossips, even as we participate in gossip ourselves.

We excuse our gossip by telling ourselves the target doesn’t know about it, so they won’t be hurt by our negative words.  But the truth is, the person eventually figures out that things have gone awry.  Someone slips and says something.  The victim feels the cold shoulder, the sudden silence as they enter a room.  They hear the newly critical tone of voice, perceive the lack of empathy.

Gossip hurts.

Gossip is a way to avoid our own uncomfortable feelings of shame and unworthiness, by dumping them onto the person we are gossiping about.

We get caught up in gossip when we are insecure, when we seek approval.

Gossip is a way to gain power over others.

Gossip can be a form of social bullying.  Building a case against someone.  Piling on.

Gossip in the workplace can constitute harassment.

We all desire a safe, non-judgmental friend who respects our confidences.  When we become that person, we will attract others to us.

We earn respect and cultivate deep friendships when we become known as a person who shuns gossip and maintains discretion.

For quite some time, I have been moving away from gossip.  I really don’t like to be around it, and am much happier in gossip-free environments.

I have been deeply hurt by gossip.

And yet, I recently said something unkind and completely unnecessary about someone.  At the time, I used her difficult behavior to justify my words.  But I did not feel good about myself when I walked away.

I clearly have more work to do to banish gossip from my life.

How do we stop gossip?  Especially when criticizing others may be a strong element of our social environment?

Here are some steps we can take to stop gossiping:

*Begin by setting our intention to stop participating in gossip.

*Be direct.  State we are not comfortable with the conversation.

*Change the subject.  Erect a “Wall of Pleasant” (I thank Pia Mellody for that phrase–non-affiliate link).   Sometimes this works, but often, the gossiper is intent on venting her opinion.

*Offer a voice of support and compassion for the target of the gossip.  Often, the victim of gossip is in a vulnerable place in her life, and the gossipers are piling on and bullying.

*Walk away.  Find something positive and peaceful to do.

*Avoid those who habitually engage in gossip.  Sometimes that means stepping back from friends who live in a social culture of gossip.   And making new friends.

*Look within at our own motivation for engaging in gossip.  Ask ourselves the hard, uncomfortable questions:

*What are our real motives for repeating the gossip?

-Are we feeling insecure?

-Are we holding onto resentment?

-Has our self care taken a back seat?  Do we need to say “No” more often?

-Are we addicted to approval?  Trying to belong?

-Are we driven by envy or an addiction to power?

-Are we generating a false sense of self esteem by going one up and sitting in judgement of another person?

-Are we shifting our own shame and our belief in our own unworthiness onto someone else?

-Are we gossiping about someone who has hurt us?  I can get caught with this one, if I am not especially mindful.

*Consider the Golden Rule, and how it feels when we are the target of gossip.

*Embrace our own intrinsic worthiness.  Believe we are enough.  Because we are.

*And perhaps, most importantly, cultivate empathy and compassion–beginning with ourselves.

I know I feel better about myself, and my self esteem gets a huge boost, when I choose to travel the high road and avoid gossip–no matter what.

Will you join me on a 30 day challenge to stop gossiping?

XOXO,

Mara Rose

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How to Know when It’s Time to Leave

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I just opened an email from Jonathan Fields.  His new book, Uncertainty, is soon to be released.

Jonathan has created a beautiful and deeply moving trailer for his new book.  Here it is:

Uncertainty, the book.  Awesome.

Jonathan spoke about his book at #WDS World Domination Summit.  At the end of a long weekend, his powerful and loving presentation enchanted a crowd of 500.

Reflections on #WDS World Domination Summit

XOXO,

Mara Rose

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