I’d Never, Ever, Ever, Ever…

Hello all!  Blogger Slacker is making up for lost time, at least for today.  This is not an original post, in fact it is a total copy job from Lynne Farrow.  This is such a beautiful post that I wanted to pass it along.    If you’d like to learn more about her or her work, you can find her here. Enjoy!!! 




I’d Never, Ever, Ever, Ever. . .

By Lynne, on January 26th, 2011

Some days the teacher’s not the teacher. Some days wisdom rises up through a single voice to give voice to our collective experience and pain.

We’re working on an Inside/Outside project at The Lighthouse, a faith-based residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse, for the next few weeks. Someone in recover recently said  that what goes on in her inside often doesn’t match how she looks on the outside. She may look to others very put together, but feel wretched on the inside. So our art project is to explore that dissonance and explore steps toward becoming more congruent.

Last Friday’s art piece was an exploration of the negative self-talk each of us lives with daily.  While we may speak ten thousand words a day in conversation with others, we might speak millions of words to ourselves in an unchecked internal conversation of comparisons, complaints, putdowns, and condemnations. Those critical voices I’ve come to call the committee that meets inside our head and votes against us. Part of recovery is to slow down that internal talk and check it out – identify it, examine the grain of truth in it, and update it to constructive self-talk.

Each woman was invited to create an image, on the inside of a manila folder, including the most common negative self-talk she speaks to herself. Many of their drawings contained similar words and phrases – stupid, ugly, you’re a loser, only good for sex, you’re a monster, I’ll never change, you’ve ruined everything, and on and on… When it was Amy’s turn to share her painting, the anguished honesty of her words were powerful – ”I’d never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever….say to another person the things I say to myself.”

Sometimes we are so much more able to love our neighbors than ourselves. And if we’re going to extend that same kind of love to ourselves, we may have to tackle the committee that meets inside our head and votes against us. We may have to fire a few, instruct others on being appropriately supportive (which also includes constructive feedback and caution), and discourage others from globalizing, catastrophizing, degrading, and condemning, just to name a few.

If you were to draw a picture of the committee that meets inside your head, what would it look like? Who would be a part of it? And what would they say? Are there some folks that meet inside you head and vote against you that you might like to give some loving guidance to? What would you say to them? How might that change any negative self-talk you might have?

I’ll look forward to your comments. I love it when you describe the art work you would create in response to one of my questions.


The Most Important Thing

Death is certain.  The time of death is uncertain.  Knowing this, what is the most important thing?

~~Buddhist wisdom

I’ve thought about that question a lot lately.  My mom spent several days in the hospital recently, which means I’ve spent a lot of time at a hospital as well.   She is home now, sleeping soundly, and I write this from their house. Today was more doctors, more tests, more of walking the path that comes at this stage of the disease she is living with and dying from.  It is an interesting path and an interesting time.

While that is a personal thing, I also have been reflecting on how universal it is as well.  There has been recent tragedy in our country with the situation in Arizona, but there were also many people who risked their own lives to help others that day.   I talked to several folks this week who have lost friends or family members recently to some form of illness or calamity…deaths, fires, suicides, disease…lots of  broken glass,  broke and hungry,  broken hearts,  broken dreams, broken bones.  Yet nearly everyone I spoke with has already found some good that arose from the hardship.   I think of that question from Buddhism a lot in times like these.  But the truth is, it’s always times like these.  Mostly good, some pain, always something noble and beautiful to find in the ashes.  I was thinking that in all of life, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.   It’s very much about what we deem “the most important thing.”

As usual, thinking about that led me to thinking about something else and then down the path of convoluted thoughts my mind goes.  And lucky you, Dear Reader, to stop by this blog and get sucked into that wacky mess, so here we go together 😉

My mother is very sick and someday, probably sooner rather than later,  she will die.  I am not  sick, but someday I too will die.  Now, while my personality and activity level are  geared more toward the likelihood of being eaten by a bear in some remote woods than towards getting cancer, the truth is that someday I will leave this body.  I feel very okay with that knowing in this moment.  I suppose if I was gasping for air in an ER I might feel differently about it.  But when thinking about it in the abstract, it feels very much okay in this moment.

So, following the convuluted thoughts of the mind, this led me to thinking about Ram Das and his wisdom.  He has often said,

Our journey is about being more deeply involved in life and yet less attached to it.

As usual, that thought led me to thinking about my attachments and aversions, about the places I want to be more deeply involved but less attached, to love more but cling less.  I watch my mother sleep, watch the sands of time pass through this particular hourglass, watch her breath rise and fall and know someday that will cease.  I have a deep desire to be deeply involved in this process and a deep desire to be less attached to it.  I have a deep desire to be very mindful of my own process in this time, to always be mindful that being self-conscious is not the same thing as attaining self-knowledge.

I find a practice of striving for self-knowledge is more fruitful when I look for the good in any experience or situation, when I look for the most important things in complex situations.  What I often find is that the most important things are usually simple… relationships, love, gratitude, curiosity and a sense of humor.  This does not mean denying there is pain, but it does mean acknowledging great gifts often come  from painful experiences.  When I find the good in a situation, I find it often comes from good people, which leads me to believe the Divine and the Universe are good as well.  Because All is One, that means I am good as well, and all shall be well.  Granted, sometimes that process takes a minute.  But in knowing all shall be well, I can relax and again rest into the most important things.  Thomas Merton said that the more we try to avoid suffering, the more we suffer, and I think he was right. A Chinese proverb says,

Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.

So, in this time of watching, waiting, living and being with all that is, I think the most important thing is to relax, take some deep breaths, try to let go of the tension that comes from painful experiences and just be. This led me to thinking about Chapter 4 of Philippians, one of my favorite verses in the Bible…

Rejoice  always…Let your gentleness be evident to all. God is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Peace.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…And the God of peace will be with you.

So tonight, I’m sitting with knowing that just being here, present to this moment,  is the most important thing.   I’m sitting with remembering that this very moment is the best teacher, and she is always with us.  I’m sitting with knowing that the most important thing is to just be here now, to focus on what is lovely and joyful.  The most important thing is to love well, to live fully and openly, peacefully and with thanksgiving.

So tonight, may you find whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and praiseworthy.  In that and in all things, may you find a peace which passes all understanding, and may you find rest and joy in the most important things.

Night moon 😉

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