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Archive for the ‘compassion’ Category

Many of us, women especially, do not shine at self care.  We are programmed for care-taking.  Nurturing others is our identity.

We scramble to fulfill the expectations we place on ourselves–ours, and those of others–while taking care of ourselves last.  Or not at all.

Until we become burned out and exhausted.

I am working on improving my self care, one habit at a time.

Recently, I spent an afternoon on self care….

Walking through town, enjoying a brisk Fall day, I discovered a flower shop, bright colors spilling over onto the sidewalk, reminiscent of the flower stalls of Paris.

I entered a quiet bistro, where I knew I would find savory-sweet heirloom tomatoes, served with ricotta and basil, savory balsamic vinegar, my Autumn obsession.

And a fresh-baked peach, lush, fragrant, still warm, floating on vanilla rice pudding.

Pure, organic produce, locally produced, beautifully prepared, and utterly delicious.

When I was young, I would never have taken myself out to eat alone.  Maybe for a snack, but not something special.

Now that I am older, I’ve discovered I love dining out by myself.

For an hour, I set my distractions aside, and lose myself in pure enjoyment.

I eat quietly and slowly, savoring each morsel.

I am learning to savor good food again, as part of my ritual of self care.

I have discovered that savoring a good meal is practicing Mindfulness.

And practicing Mindfulness is woven into self care.

We are no good to anyone else, unless we take good care of ourselves.

Without solid habits and rituals of self care, our attempts to help others eventually lead us to burn-out and resentment.

When we don’t take good care of ourselves, we approach taking care of others from ego, rather than from an open, compassionate heart.

When our self care is poor, we stop listening.  We fall into going one-up and giving others unwanted advice–to make ourselves more comfortable.  We become judgmental and critical.  We forget that true compassion doesn’t keep score.

When we practice self care, we find compassion is limitless.  We begin with compassion for ourselves.  We discover room in our hearts for everyone.  We serve from love, rather than “should”.

I believe self compassion, self care, and mindfulness are interwoven, and are essential to genuinely serving others.

What are your rituals of self care?

Where do you fall down, and where do you shine?

Comment Zen:  I would love to hear how you take care of yourself.

XOXO,

Mara Rose

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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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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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Cultivating Compassion.

All of us have experienced difficult times, an inescapable part of being human.  I recently experienced a hard fall, followed by a series of events that left me flattened.  I am picking up the pieces of my life, finding my balance.

A wise friend observed I need to give myself time and permission to grieve.  That had not occurred to me, despite it’s being obvious.  I tend to push myself pretty hard, and am generally kinder to others than to myself.  I suspect many of us are like that.

This week, I experienced an epiphany–I need to learn to practice kindness towards myself.  Not self indulgence, but lovingkindness, the heart of compassion.  The kindness I would naturally offer a friend facing my circumstances.

I have long flirted with the idea of meditation, beginning a practice, then not sticking with it.

And I experienced another very helpful insight–I have procrastinated, putting meditation off, making excuses not to meditate, because I had long ago turned meditation into a Big Thing.

I had convinced myself I needed the right philosophy, the right teacher, the right retreat, the right posture, the right cushion, on and on, until I had made meditation into Hard.  And Hard was not going to happen.

Tonight I asked, what if I simplified meditation to just sitting and being with myself, in the spirit of lovingkindness and compassion?

What if I simply sat in my comfortable armchair, where I feel cozy and warm?  What if I simply centered my awareness in my heart, and on my breath?  For only 15 or 20 minutes?  Or even just five minutes?  What if I took the Hard out of meditation?

This was an Aha moment.  This I could do!

Tomorrow morning I begin.  I look forward to my quiet time of extending compassion, kindness, and love to myself.  Perhaps the first baby steps into my new life, into Wholeness.

My commitment to myself is to meditate every morning for 30 days, until meditation becomes a habit, an essential part of my morning ritual.

What are your experiences with meditation?

What helps you maintain your practice?

XOXO,

Mara Rose

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