Despite the smile, somewhat groomed hair and potentially dapper beard...Its hard not to be a little sad inside. There is much pain in my life. I have a special needs son whose issues have become debilitating. He is unable to look at me, or hear my voice. I suffer from PTS. There are a handful of tumors now claiming real estate in my brain. There is a growth on my skull. My hearing is starting to go south. My memory is shot! If I had a dollar every time someone told me, "I just told you..." I would be a millionaire. I'm currently in between therapists as I wait for the VA to approve a new doctor for me. Yet, in the face of ALL this...I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world. Yep! I have so much to be grateful for. Everyday, I wake up in a warm bed next to hands down the most patient, loving, compassionate, and strong person in the world...my wife. I never go to bed hungry. All three of my kids live in my house...which means I get to see their faces everyday. My cars are paid off! I have a (somewhat at times) daily yoga and meditation practice. I even get paid to teach yoga...how cool is that?
Yes...there are many things in my life that cause pain, but they do not define me. This is not to say that we should not be sad, grieve, or reflect on that which pains us. Rather, we should use these 'things' as a point of growth. It is important to make honest self-assessments of who we are and where we are emotionally, spiritual, and physically. I don't think it is OK to let the negative define us. Pema Chödrön calls this a stuck pattern. Darkness will only lead to more darkness. On the worse of day...all I need to do is put a smile on my face and in an instant my disposition changes. It may only be for a moment...but sometimes that is all I really need. It is kind of like a defibrillation for the soul. I know first hand just how embarrassing it is to acknowledge that which brings pain in my life. I would suggest it took me 7+ years to accept there was something wrong with me. (PTSD) It was painful to seek help. Pema Chödrön suggests that there is much healing in recognizing what is causing pain. I agree. It is very therapeutic to just talk about "it!"
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
― Pema Chödrön
Perhaps, instead of labeling and criticizing everything, you can just..."think" about it. Basically, changing your perspective. Much like a smile, it will change your current disposition.
The graphic above perfectly illustrates a common misunderstanding. YOU are already the best you can be. You're perfect. You are always "Full," no matter what. What determines your happiness...is...YOU and what you chose to focus on. No matter how bad things are for you right now...somewhere there is someone who wishes they were you...because that would be easier. You can make things easier. You have all the tools you need. Change your perspective. Be grateful for that which you have. There is an old sage advice that suggests that if you want everything you have...then you will have everything you need. Use that which pains you as a point of growth and healing.
For the record...this isn't easy! It takes work. Lots of it! I struggle with this all the time. It is very easy to allow myself to sit in the corner of my couch and avoid everything. It is also just as easy to get up...and take action. For me, that is yoga and meditation. Without these practices...I have no idea where I would be today...or worse...who I would be.
YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE! You are not the only one who suffers or is suffering. With that said...YOU ARE the one who can take positive actions to change the current stuck pattern you're in. Sometimes you can't do it alone. Substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and major depression are just a few issues that need the help of others. Know that there are compassionate people and groups willing and ready to help. Save a Warrior (SaW) has already saved 100's of lives with their work. I went through last year. It was at a very low point for me. The doctors had identified more tumors on my brain but offered very few answers. SaW didn't have the medical answers...but they did provide me with hope in the form of community, self-growth, and a new meditation practice. If it were not for Mindful Yoga Therapy, I would not have taken the steps needed to get treatment for my PTS. Thank you both!
So...where do we begin? How can we change these current stuck patterns? How can we begin to be the "Best You" again? With compassion! Compassion begins with kindness to ourselves. Compassion will aid in your healing process. I would also suggest that changing your thought process and your perspective will help. Maybe take time to Sonder. Don't know what that means? I didn't either until a former student of mine shared a post about it.
7) Always see things from someone else's perspective
This is something that we, as human beings, are almost genetically designed not to do. We are the center of our own little universe and the most important thing to remember is what the world, and other people for that matter, owe us. I invite you to read the definition of my favorite word not officially in the dictionary yet: Sonder.
Sonder - (n.) the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you
Think about that. Really think about that. Think about everyone you've ever met, ever. Seems like a lot of people, probably. Now think about the fact that each of those people were brought up in different circumstances, with different beliefs and backgrounds, different feelings, different thoughts, different conclusions, etc. Obviously, people are going to think in a unique way that will differ, even if it's only slightly, from the way you think. Put yourself in that person's shoes, do your best to understand what they're seeing and feeling, and then try to communicate back to them in a way that they might see things from your perspective.