Saturday, October 27, 2007

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your life depends on it; and when the time comes, to let it go.
~ Mary Oliver

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

attachment and resistance

Gautama Buddha once said: "i teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering." and what causes this suffering? he answers this question in his Four Noble Truths: "the origin of suffering is attachment."

i’ve been considering my words recently that resistance is the cause of stress, always the only cause of stress (see post on stress). i’ve given this message often while teaching stress management but only now have i considered its connection to the Buddha’s words. while “resistance” and “attachment” sound like two very different things, it seems to me the Buddha and i are saying something similar. i am saying the “resistance to letting go” of something (which is attachment) as well as the “resistance to accepting” something (resisting something we believe we do not want so we are attached to an opposing action) are always and only the cause of stress.

resistance is not the natural order of the Universe, not the natural flow. and when we practice resistance, we suffer stress.

photography by permission
cindy lee jones

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Christine Kane

i have fallen in love with new music, the sound of Christine Kane. she's young, beautiful, brilliant, funny, smart, spiritual, and honest. in addition to playing and singing, she writes a thoughtful blog and hosts occasional women's retreats (which are quickly sold out). she is a joy, and a gift to the rest of us. you can find her, and listen to a sample of her music, at her website. her tagline is wise counsel and an example of the light she lives: be creative. be conscious. be courageous.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

introducing Spirit First

i am honored to introduce you to my dream of an inclusive meditation center, a quiet sanctuary with beautiful gardens and labyrinths nestled in a wood. you can read of the unfolding of this dream at Spirit First.

stress

for several day i have struggled with how to put my thoughts and my spiritual viewpoints into words to put onto these pages. i've spent my life working on figuring out my spiritual path and now i struggle to put it into words. please forgive my fumbling in doing so.

i started our conversation about stories, about narratives, because frequently people from my audience come to me seeking help for stress management, sometimes people who are overwhelmed with extreme stress, and i find it difficult to offer help without building an understanding of how we live our story based on our beliefs. a corporate seminar break does not allow me the depth of conversation i would like to have.

what do we tend to believe is the cause of stress? traffic? difficult people? money problems? other things? the truth is, there is one cause of stress, only one, and always the same one. resistance. resistance is the cause of stress.

i am not saying resistance is a bad thing—i’m not even saying stress is a bad thing (i spend enough time in the gym to know that without resistance or stress, we would never develop strength). i am saying, though, that resistance is the cause of stress, and if we want stress management, we must know its source.

here is a simple example: last year my sister-in-law died and i grieved her death (for i loved her very much). one might say i grieved because she died, but the real truth is i grieved because i did not want her to be dead (resistance to her death). it is important to distinguish the difference. her death simply is, and simply is what it is. my resistance to it is what causes my grief.


every time we feel stress or pain, we can ask ourself the question, "what am i resisting?" and we then decide if we want to experience it or not (i chose to experience the grief of the death of a loved one but i choose not to grieve the loss of a job or the loss of some material thing).


photography by permission

stories and emotions

sometimes people get upset, sad, or angry, and then, claiming there is nothing they can do about their emotions, they say, "i can't help how i feel. it's just the way i feel." emotional reactions become something automatic, outside control.

sometimes someone will even say it is another person who makes him feel sad, makes him feel small, makes him feel unworthy (which, of course, then makes one into a victim). "you made me feel bad."

over the years i have come to deeper understanding of emotions, and i have learned that everything comes from what we believe, even our emotions. emotions come from our story, from our narrative.

it works like this...when i am driving down the street and another driver cuts me off, my response might be anger or even rage, and i may claim my anger is caused by the other driver's behavior. however, it is not the other driver's action that causes my anger, but rather it is my belief that the other driver is wrong that is the cause of the anger. the action (what happened) is simply what happened. my belief is the cause of my emotion. imagine the same scenario but this time i was cut off by a friend rushing to the hospital to save the life of a child. i believe cutting me off was important for so urgent and valid a need and i am not angry. the action is the same but the belief is different; the action is considered to be acceptable under this circumstance, and the emotion is different.

every time you feel an emotion (negative or positive), i ask you to go deeper and seek within, "what is the belief under this?" take all other parties out of the formula.

the beauty of this is that we decide how we feel by choosing what we believe. (i understand, of course, that changing our beliefs takes some work!)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

stories

i have a story. you have a story too. it goes something like this….

a little girl is born (this much of the story is true). a little girl is born and she is told her name is katie (the name katie is not “true,” but is simply something that is being applied). she is told her name is katie and she is a smithsmart. she is told she is an american. she is told she is a christian. she is told what it means to be a smithsmart, what it means to be an american, what it means to be a christian, even what it means to be a girl. she is told lots of things, some things by the people around her and some things by the voice in her own head. she believes she is strong, or she believes she is weak. she believes she is smart; she believes she is stupid. she believes she is pretty. she believes she is ordinary, or plain, or ugly. she believes she is better than other people, or she believes she is lesser, or trashy, or poor. she believes she is a good student, a good employee, a good boss. or an okay one. or a bad one. she believes what belongs to her. she believes her house is hers, her land is hers. she believes what she believes.

everything, though, is a belief. everything is part of the story. we are living our story, our narrative.

the truth is that each one of us simply “is.” I AM, and everything else is a belief. diana christine is merely a name given to me at my birth, just a label by which to address me. american is simply a brand attached to me. everything i have believed since my birth is part of my narrative. everything you believe is part of your narrative.

and we need a story; we are here to play out a story and learn something from our narrative.

our problems arise when we become overly identified with our story, when we become attached to our story, when we believe our story is truth. we become stressed, we become depressed, and we become confused.

i am not here to suggest your story is not important, that it is not worthy of your best efforts. after all, your story gives a reflection of what is on the inside of you and provides a map for what you need to learn and how you need to grow. but i am asking that you recognize it for what it is, a story, and not “truth.” and i am asking that you spend some of every day in detachment from and observation of your story and your beliefs.

in truth you are whole and complete and pure. you are good. you are strong. you are beautiful. you are perfect.

so now, let’s bring that part of the truth into your story.


beautiful photography by permission