Thoughts On Being In The Moment

This morning, I came across a quote which resonated with me, and sparked some thoughts that I wish to share. The quote is below.

“There is only the moment. The now. Only what you are experiencing at this second is real.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

The seeming simplicity of this quote is deceptive. So often, I have had the tendency to take something which is happening in the present and allow my mind to let it take on epic proportions. We all do it, and typically it involves the things which are unpleasant or stressful. When something is going awry, do you find your thoughts diving into the past, or projecting the issue into the future, feeling like the situation is going to become a permanent fixture? I certainly have, and have been learning to work on it.

It’s definitely a process, and a very conscious choice. The actual practice of mindfulness is relatively new to me. I’ve often heard people talking about living in the moment, and just thought that it was one of those nice things to say, but hard or impossible to do. I’m finding that it isn’t all that difficult (most of the time, anyway). It takes a lot of inner reminders, but over time it is becomes easier.

For myself, as someone who has dealt with a great deal of trauma over the course of my life, remembering that what is happening right at this moment is what is real has been an amazing tool to help me keep things in balance. No matter whether a thing is positive or negative, reminding ourselves that in the next moment things shift is beyond helpful. Life is constant change, and while sometimes this is hard, the alternative is to live in a state of stagnation. I should say trying to live in a state of stagnation, because no matter how concentrated the effort may be, we cannot stem the tide of change.

The sentiment I’m writing about doesn’t mean that we squash our feelings. It’s just as unhealthy to try to pretend that it doesn’t exist as it is to let our thoughts project too far into the future. Building too many expectations for the future can be at the very least disappointing at times, and at the worst can color our thoughts so much that we lose opportunities for happiness because we’re convinced that things will stay the same. We can set goals for ourselves without becoming overly attached to the precise details. There are often many paths to a goal, and unexpected ways that our dreams manifest themselves.

By remembering that the present is all that is, it becomes so much easier to savor our moments of joy as they happen. Not only that, it becomes easier to acknowledge that we may be sad, angry, heartbroken, or any other emotion that pops up, and be able to let it just be without falling into the rabbit hole of remembering all of the “bad stuff” that happened in the past, or convincing ourselves that life is always going to follow the same patterns.

Trust me, I know that this is not the easiest practice to adopt. As a relative newbie to it myself, I have seen how ingrained it is to step out of what is happening in our present moments to dwell in the past and obsess over the future. This whole year for me is dedicated to a continuation of my mindfulness practice. So far, it has been the most helpful method inner work I’ve tried to date. If you find yourself in a place of reliving traumas or being caught up in the type of thought patterns which I wrote about above, I encourage you to look into all of this a bit, and if you feel you need help with it, please reach out and find it. I openly admit that I have.

 

 

Advertisements

Word of the Year ~ Mindfulness

In choosing my word for the year, I went back and forth a bit between the words love and mindfulness. For a few months, it was looking like the word love was going to be the word, because it is definitely something which I wish to foster more over the next 12 months. Last year could have easily been summed up into one word, and that word would have been – harsh.

2018 was filled with harsh lessons, health issues, and a good bit of general lack of direction for good measure. For the latter half of the year, I had found myself feeling quite lost. There were parts of myself which seemed to have all but disappeared, and I was on a mission to not only regain them, but to expand and improve them. So, when the time of year came to start choosing a word for this year I asked myself what word would encompass what I would need to foster the work that I was doing with all of the above.

The word love kept coming up, because one of the things which had seemed to change in me over the last year was my own feeling of love for the world at large…it had hardened a bit and there were a lot of feelings of mistrust for others and especially myself. Core parts of myself and my beliefs about things were rattled to their foundations. Then, I started to dig deeper and the word mindfulness just clicked into place as the word for 2019, because it encompasses not only a higher capacity for love, but many other things which will bring me closer to being the person I’ve always been at my deepest levels.

Definition of mindfulness 

1 : the quality or state of being mindful

2 : the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis also : such a state of awareness

I’ve been working with mindfulness for the past several months, and let me tell you, allowing myself to be more present with my state of being has been nothing short of amazing. The biggest thing I’ve noticed with this practice so far is that I’m becoming a lot less reactive. By being in the moment, acknowledging what is without judgement, or worse…overanalyzing things by diving into the past or trying to look to far ahead (which has always been hard for me), my life has begun to change in ways I’ve always wished for.

In just the last few months, I’ve seen a huge shift in my feelings about myself and the world. I am able to be much more of an observer of what is, and this has allowed me to be more appreciative and patient. The interesting thing about this is that at the same time, I am much more able to step back when needed, because my feelings of responsibility for and attachment to outcomes has done a complete turn around. This has been the most refreshing thing I’ve ever experienced, and that is not an exaggeration.

All of this has made it easier to transition back into a more creative state of being. This is something which I’m tremendously grateful for, because this was another one of the things that had taken a big hit over the past year or so, along with my sense of spirituality. Those two things are such an integral part of my core that it was literally painful to experience a prolonged period of time wondering if I’d find them again. Finding a mindfulness practice feels like it saved my life, perhaps literally.

Rather than staying stuck in the loop of trying to force myself to get back to “normal”, I learned to acknowledge and honor what was for a while. So, I spent a few months taking care of what absolutely needed to be done, checking in with how I was feeling, then sitting on my couch binge watching various shows on Netflix and Hulu. I learned to let go of my expectations of myself and others too. After a while, I had given myself permission to just be where I needed to be and enjoy the moment, instead of trying to rush myself through the process.

Before I go, I want to thank everyone who has stuck with me through this huge transition phase. 2018 taught me just how amazing some of the people in my life are. Here’s to a wonderful, and smoother 2019!

Much love ❤

 

Settling Into Just Being

Okay, so my best friend wrote a post yesterday that so inspired my post today that the very title was something that she said in what she wrote. She and I both have had a pretty difficult time of it in the last year or so. To say that there has been a lot of learning going on would be an understatement. Please do head on over and read her post if you wish. Now, I’ll get on with it.

So, the past year and a half for me was a breaking point. This is something which needed to happen because I’ve literally spent most of my life living old patterns and it became impossible to keep doing so and stay sane, and I mean that almost literally. It truly was a breaking point in my life. These are patterns which were created long, long ago. In childhood in fact. The hell of it has been that they were set so early that the real me has not really had much time to come out and play. The real me had been almost completely buried.

Sure, there have been glimpses of me here and there, but for the most part I’ve slid back into those ways of being and interacting in the world which were drilled into me as a means to stay safe. While that was never okay, it was at one time necessary for survival. After that necessary time had passed though, I was simply reacting to things which evoked those old responses and instead of standing tall in my own being, I would either put another person first to my own detriment, or I would have a fear trigger and simply squash myself into what I thought would keep the waters smooth. Well let me tell you, this never works.

Maybe for a while things felt calmer, but in the long run it wasn’t sustainable. Sometimes when we feel like we’re playing it safe, we are only prolonging the inevitable, and putting ourselves through unnecessary stress and pain. There is a lot of history which I could go into, but I won’t. Not because I’m not okay talking about it, but because this post is about the present and moving forward.

I have forgiven the past. I have forgiven the people who have caused me harm. I have made great progress in forgiving myself for the role which I played in letting some of those situations play out. Granted, my heart was always in the right place, but there have been many times in which it was very misguided. I’m at a place in which I no longer feel the need or desire to think or talk about the past, unless it’s necessary for some reason. I’ve come to terms with what the past was, and have reached the point of breaking the patterns.

This isn’t to say that my work is done. In some respects I’m only getting truly started, but it feels so good. This is where the words settling into just being come into play. I’ve realized that I truly like who I am at my core, and I really like who I am becoming. A large part of doing this work has been simply allowing myself to settle into being. Learning to live in the present, not in the past and not in the future, is strangely liberating.

Sure, I’ve read about being in the present and it sounded good but I had never really tried to put it into practice before. I had some mistaken ideas about what it meant exactly. It doesn’t mean that the past is erased, it is more of a reminding myself that when parts of the past rear their ugly heads that I am not longer in that place, and that those feelings and memories have no power over me. It doesn’t mean that I can’t make plans for the future. It is simply a loosening of the expectations of how things will work and not trying to plan all of the minute details.

The deeper I go into this space, the less I find myself wishing for anything else. This very moment is a pretty good place to be. More and more, I actually remember to stop and ask myself if there’s anything that I can do about any given thing in this moment, and if there isn’t, it becomes easier to release it and just be. If though, there is something that I can do about something, I find myself being able to break it down even further into what I can do about it right now and to be okay with leaving the rest for when it’s appropriate.

While the deep trauma work which I’ve chosen to undertake isn’t for the faint of heart, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. To finally be saying goodbye to the triggers, fears, and anxiety is the most awesome feeling. Lots of things have fallen away, and some of those losses have been harder than others. I have to admit though, that every last one of them has needed to happen. I’m looking forward to what is to come, more so than ever. This feels a little bit odd to say because everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING in me has shifted, so my exact direction is not exactly clear. In the past, this would have scared the hell out of me. Now though it feels perfect, because I am starting with a clean slate and I’m not following someone else’s map…I’m drawing my own.

 

Mabon ~ Balance Between Light and Dark

It has been a while since I’ve written anything spiritual or to honor the cycles of life, so here I am. Mabon aka the Autumn equinox is a day in which there is a balance between light and dark. It is a day to look within and reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the previous months, and to examine whether there is anything in our lives which no longer fits. Before we turn inward over the Winter, it is the perfect time to give that last push toward what we wish to manifest.

I’ve always enjoyed this time of year a great deal, and this year things really kicked into high gear in my own life in terms of letting go and looking ahead. Just a few days ago, I was finally able to let go of a very toxic situation in my life after months of confusion and not honoring myself. The amount of relief that I felt, and the almost immediate shift toward embracing what makes me feel happy and fulfilled has been nothing short of drop dead gorgeous!

Over the past year, I entered into a situation which was in direct opposition to my deepest desires, what I stand for, and what I believe in. As the months wore on, I found that I was turning into someone barely recognizable to myself. Yet, I soldiered on and continued to wander through what rapidly turned into an emotional, mental, and spiritual wasteland. I pushed myself beyond my limits of acceptability in order to give someone the benefit of the doubt…and it cost me greatly (not gonna happen again). There’s no need to go into further detail because I’ve left all of that behind me.

Looking forward, not only can I see what I do not want, but I have more clarity about what I don’t. There will definitely be more caution about what I allow into my life, and I’m gaining a broader picture of the types of activities and things which suit who I am at my core. It feels so good to have the stress gone, and to be able to rebuild my life. To reclaim my life and power has been a feeling like no other. I’ll be working through the anger for some time, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just need to be pissed, sometimes anger is appropriate and can be used to bolster us as we learn how to thrive.

Throughout the day, I’ve spent a great deal of time envisioning my life as I wish it to be and in clearing out traces of the heavy energy which had gathered around me. Am I exhausted? You betcha! Is it worth it? Undoubtedly. Thankfully I have a month to heal and rest before seeing my best friend since the 5th grade in person for the first time in…well, a very long time. I’m diving more deeply into my art and working through more rounds of submission for my novel. I’ll be putting a lot more energy into my other work too…my writing, my coaching practice, my work in constructively helping others to embrace themselves…so many things.

Even though I’ve only been out of the situation for a few days, I’ve been very proactive…making contacts and gathering information. I am being a little tight lipped about some of my plans, because I have a lot to do over the upcoming months. As things continue to take shape, I’ll reveal more. For now though, I’ll say that things are about to get a lot more creative and busy around here. One other thing I’d like to share here today is that in November, I’ll possibly be adding a feline friend to my household. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but have held back on for various reasons. I may throw caution to the wind and allow myself the joy of having a cat again.

In closing, I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to reach for what you want in life. Don’t be afraid to truly live and actively seek your joy. In that process there may be some painful truths and releases which need to happen, but don’t we all owe it to ourselves to work toward the fullest realization of ourselves which we possibly can?

Happy Mabon everyone!

Love,

Tracy

 

 

 

Simplicity

The older I get, the more I appreciate simplicity. The passage of time has provided deeper insight into how the simplicity which I longed for in the past wasn’t something for me to wait for-it’s something for me to reach out and take hold of-both within and outside of myself. Just to be clear, when I use the word simplicity, it isn’t meant to imply a lack of excitement or an abundance of dullness. Nope. Not for this girl. Laughter, play, and enjoyment are as necessary to me as a tall glass of water on a hot summer day.

I use the word simplicity to indicate a sense of ease, a lack of unnecessary complications, or a smooth flow. There are so many ways in which we can either complicate our lives for ourselves or allow others to do so. There are a lot of things which can seem complicated while in the midst of them which truly aren’t. No matter what we’re talking about, whether relationships (of any sort), career choices, health factors which are in our control, or just life in general-simplifying all things is fairly the same. It all starts with asking ourselves some easy questions which can be difficult to answer due to several factors. These factors usually boil down to a few simple sentiments-what we think we want, fear of change, seeing sometimes necessary work as too difficult, or a combination of any or all of the above.

There are all sorts of questions which we could ask ourselves when it comes to making our lives more simple. We can figure out most situations with the one question below.

Does (insert situation or relationship here) primarily enrich my life or create stress and unhappiness?

No matter which way we slice it, we are only in control of making changes in ourselves. So, if whatever it is which we are asking this question about creates more stress and unhappiness than the good that it brings to the table-the choices are to make up our mind to accept it as it is and adjust our lives and mindset accordingly, or to make the changes that we need in order to move from stress to ease.

Of course, this is usually a process and it isn’t my intention to imply that we can just snap our fingers and jump right in or out of anything. There is though, a line which can be drawn where lack of action becomes the choice which a person makes. After a while, the sorting and decision process ends and we’ve either improved our situation or we find ourselves in a loop. Not only are these loops unhealthy for us, there comes a time in which it becomes inconsiderate to continue to expect our loved ones to stay in the loop with us. If we find ourselves circling, the best course of action is to seek out professional/impartial assistance in gathering what we need in order to get out of it. Sometimes, we may even need to withdraw a little from our social circles in order to remove the temptation or habit of remaining stuck. Some things can only be handled by ourselves.

When there is someone in our life who is living the same pattern over and over, we have to understand that after a certain early point of support and advice-there is nothing that we can do which will break this loop for them. Not only do we do them a disservice by going around and around the same issues, we are not doing ourselves any favors either. We’ve all been there at one point or another to some extent.

It’s a normal part of life to go through this learning process. What simplicity looks like is different for each of us. For me, it is a life in which things flow naturally without bullying, disrespect, or undue pressure to conform. It may be something completely different for someone else and neither definition is wrong. The only thing which is our business is when the ways of another are so different from ours that it creates stress or incompatibility. Then, it isn’t our place to change their mind. Nor is it our place to “love them enough” to keep taking their shit, or keep having the same argument, or have to keep defending ourselves. At that point, we may need to decide to love them and ourselves enough to draw boundaries, and sometimes that might mean that we have to step away in order to maintain our peace and health. There’s nothing to be gained in judging ourselves for how we’ve fared with any of our success with simplifying our lives in the past. The space in which we can work is the one where are at this very moment.

As some of you who have been coming here for a while know, I do love Buddhist quotes and the one below feels like the perfect ending.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. ~ Buddha
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/buddha.html

 

 

 

 

 

What Does Your Mental Diet Consist Of?

Many of us are fairly aware of and put some thought into what types of food we put into our bodies, whether we make changes or not. What about the material we feed our minds with though? We are exposed to a great deal of negative material on a daily basis. The thing about it which disturbs me the most is that so many have become desensitized to violence, negativity and hatred. Even further, many have adopted it as a normal part of their own interactions with the world at large.

I stopped watching the news for the most part years ago. I try to take a quick glimpse at headlines now and then to see what might be happening in the world so that I know where to send loving thoughts and energy, but otherwise I avoid the news. For a long time, I was in the habit of watching it daily and after a while, found it too disturbing/depressing. It was impacting the way that I viewed the world and the people in it-and I didn’t like it. Getting rid of the news habit was a good move for me mentally and spiritually. It eliminated a great deal of stress and feelings of fear/distrust when I stopped consuming a regular diet of “what is wrong” in the world. I’m not asking you to agree with this-just sharing something that was better for me personally.

Now, I find myself at another crossroads when it comes to my mental diet. Lately I’ve been increasingly avoiding one particular social media site due to the amount of negativity, violent attitudes, and hate speech that is becoming more and more common. Each time I sign in, I find myself cringing at the amount of hatred that I see being disseminated. It isn’t that I think that it’s wrong to dislike something or the way that a person conducts themselves. What is becoming too hard for me to swallow is the way that our society has seemingly confused voicing an opinion and being outright hateful and sometimes threatening.

The questions that all of this raises in my mind are these:

Have we become so accustomed to this type of speech and behavior that it has become the new norm?

If this is true, what can we do about it?

I realize that I cannot change anyone other than myself. So, the conclusion for me is to eliminate another source of disturbing material from my consumption. It is my belief that what we focus on becomes our reality, and what I’ve been seeing on an ever increasing basis in my feed is not acceptable for me as a reality. So, my quest is to find the best solution in making sure that I will be exposing myself to the material and people who feed the loving and joyous parts of me-that are catalysts for positive change as opposed to dissension.

I’ve been asking myself more and more lately about my intake, actions and thoughts to see what changes need to be made in order to create a more positive and compassionate world. I’ve found several things which I’m working with now, and am looking forward to the shift of my personal reality as I continue making these discoveries and changes.

The reason that I’m writing about this is to help create more awareness around what we are feeding our minds with on a regular basis. Simply ask yourself if the things which you are exposed to on a regular basis make you feel positive or negative. You will gain incredible insight as to whether your mental diet is a healthy one for you. This isn’t about finger pointing or judgement. It isn’t my job or desire to do that. One of the things which means a lot to me, and always has, is the importance of bringing people together. It is our thoughts and mental attitudes which have the greatest power to accomplish this, and that is what this post is about.