e/u: meditation. mindfulness. equanimity.

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Let's Get Real

What good is the love and light smoke people are blowing up your ass if you can't apply it to your life? What good are all the inspirational Rumi poem memes if you can't do anything with them? When you can't get dinner on the table, what is any of that worth?

 

If you can't apply it to your life, why talk about mindfulness? Meditation? Yoga? Real love? Why bother? 

 

I find myself trying to wade through different yoga teachers or light workers on social media. I think about what their lives must be like if they have time for all that production, and what I come up with sounds great. Personally, I work multiple jobs and go to school full time. I need things that feel real and reachable. I need things that I can apply to make my life better, especially when I have trouble finding time for that dinner. 

 

Don't get me wrong: I'm a sucker for a sunset and some trees and adventure. I like to talk about your breath and being present. I like to drill down past the illusion of reality to what's really real... And that real reality can sound pretty dang crazy. 

 

But how do you APPLY it? How do you make it real in your life? 

 

Well, the best example I can give is what I have: my own life. If we rewind a few years, we will discover younger Kirsten: angry, depressed, anxious, avoiding all emotions at all costs. My real journey with all of this started following a break-up, a death, and a bombing. You could say that was enough to make me switch gears, but it doesn’t have to be that drastic.  

 

So what does life look like now? Why do I bother when I clearly have "other things" that I could be doing? Well, in part I find a seat on the meditation cushion or a space on the mat just to make it through the day. Our brains are loony tunes and if you don’t think so, try to sit still for a minute. I sit and I practice so that I can look past all the crazy stories my brain tells me about how hard my schedule is or hard school is or how terrible it was that time that person did that thing to me. Is my schedule hard? Sure. Is school tough? Yes. Was it terrible that time with that person and that thing? It was indeed. But telling myself the ramped up stories of those experiences didn’t help then and won’t help now. Learning to meet those things with compassion and openness, welcoming the feelings, recognizing them, and letting them go: that’s the priceless part. That’s the part that allows me to live my life as I do, finding tiny steps to freedom and fulfillment, baby steps to awareness and presence.

 

Angry, anxious, depressed, robot Kirsten fades into the distance slowly. It’s a practice. Things take time. I spent 30some years learning how to be bitter and cynical and scared of love. It’s going to take some time to change the patterns. But every day, I try to be a little more present. It helps me. It helps others. It lets that tightness in my chest unwind.

 

Your life doesn’t have to look like a perfect beach sunset. It doesn’t have to be totally organic and non-GMO. It can be imperfect and totally fine. We talk about love and light and breathing and presence for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is making your every day a little easier to manage. Anger and depression (or whatever it is that’s holding you down) can be happy little homes we build for ourselves to live in, but if you don’t want to live there any more, you don’t have to. Little by little, we can change the landscape. 

 

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It's Not About You

The title of this post is a phrase that I think about a lot.  I think about it in traffic when someone cuts me off.  I think about it when I find something that a person does annoying or when someone is rude. I take a breath and remember: it's not about me.  

 

Because it probably isn't.  99% of the time, we take things personally when they don't have anything to do with us.  We get upset at someone in the movie theater using their phone as if it is a personal insult. We rage in traffic because someone won't let us merge. We get angry at our spouse because they forgot to pick up the bread. We get riled up about the opinions of strangers on the Internet. We take everything so personally when it isn’t meant to be.

 

So then what if it isn't about us?  Well, if we can see that, we can see the space between the action, the person acting, and ourselves. In that space, we have room to recognize and then let go of the anger or upset.  We can stretch out there and make the space for the reality of the situation.  Someone cuts you off? Maybe they didn't see you. It doesn't mean that they're a jerk whose sole purpose in life is to make you miserable. A store clerk doesn't help you? Maybe they're getting pulled in ten different directions by other customers, not making a judgment on you as a person. You never know the whole story of someone else or what their reality is like.  Why? Because it's not about you.   

 

Does this idea excuse someone's poor behavior? No.  It doesn't mean that you shouldn't confront someone who insults you or that you shouldn't say "hey, that really upset me.” It also doesn’t give you a free pass to treat others poorly. It just means that you don't have to take everything personally, so you don't have to carry the weight of it and pass that onto other people. Snapping at someone in traffic easily leads to snapping at people in your office or at home who had nothing to do with it.  It weighs heavily on your well-being to take these things on as personal affronts every single time.  

 

We've all had these encounters (both on the giving and receiving end) and our self-involved society has convinced us that everything is about us.  What if it's not? What if there can be that space where it isn't about you? What if we can just breathe and live in that space where compassion and understanding reside?