e/u: meditation. mindfulness. equanimity.

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Greeting the New Year

The new year is upon us. As much as I like to consider the idea that years and days and hours are just human constructs, we do still have to live inside of those constructs to some degree. As a tumultuous (for many) 2016 flips itself to 2017, I wonder if we can't unravel some ways to transition a little more softly.

 

For the past couple of years, I have wanted to spend New Year's Eve quietly. Last year in particular, I was unable to attend a planned-on meditation retreat, so opted to create my own at home. I decided on a schedule of meditation (both seated and walking), of study, and of service (which amounted to me doing needed housework). I limited my time on screens, silenced the phone, and tried to spend the year's transitions in a quiet, open space. It was actually quite lovely. I missed seeing friends on NYE, but emerged the next day for a few hours to attend an annual friend-family brunch before going back into silence at home.

 

Having this little at-home "retreat" helped me to start 2016 feeling a bit more centered, a little more stable. It was a relief from that self-imposed pressure to do something on New Year's. I did "nothing" and that was fine. Perhaps you can't or don't want to do a full day of retreat, but maybe a little time in the next few days can assist in the year's transition.

 

While greeting the new year with silence might not be your thing, perhaps you might benefit from finding a quiet moment in the bustle of New Year's to remember that the next day will be that: another day. We often put great pressure on ourselves once the calendar turns to make resolutions and we go full force and we tire out quickly, feeling worse about things when we do not succeed. There is nothing inherently wrong with a resolution for the new year and they certainly don't always flop. I've had a successful few myself, but I think some of us may be better off with the reminder that we can resolve to do new things any time. In the middle of March, you can decide to train for that marathon or stop eating sugar or whathaveyou. You can resolve to do things every day. You actually do that regularly, in fact. So if the pressure of the new year and a "new you" feels like something more suffocating than invigorating: just remember that you can opt out of that business.

 

As we look upon this new year and inevitably take stock of the last, I know that I often think I should be here or there instead of wherever the end of the year finds me. I could have done this or I could have done that. Because I attached some sort of expectation to the year or to myself, I might feel disappointed instead of just in awe of how life continues to move. In looking at time as finite and the years as solid constructions, we can end up in that place of melancholy at not being where we thought we would be "by now" or at "this time." I am reminded of something Alan Watts has said: "you've got all the time in the world because you've got all the time there is, which is now. And you are this universe..." There are still an infinite number of possibilities, regardless of what the calendar or clock say.  Every moment, regardless of when, is now and you have infinite options for what now looks like.

 

However you decide to spend the last few hours of 2016 and first few of 2017, I hope that it is lovely. I hope that if you are with people, they are ones you love dearly. I hope that if you resolve for new things in the new year, that they are of great benefit to you. I hope that you embrace the times as they are and with openness. Be safe and be well.

 

 

A small reminder: January 2nd is the beginning of the next 30 Day Sit. I look forward to spending time with you in meditation soon.

I'm with You.

First, it is important for you to know that any of my classes, any of the offerings, anything that I do is 100% open to everyone. I work on a sliding scale to allow for accessibility to as many people as possible. It is my hope that every class is a safe space for people. Women, people of color, LGBTQ, everyone: you are all welcome and always will be.

 

 

Yesterday was a hard day for many of us. Prior to the announcement of our new president-elect, I didn't realize just what emotional impact this could have on me. The words "heart shock" were used by one of my teachers, as I cried on an acupuncture table after having already cried through most of the day. I think deep down, I didn't believe it could be real. I didn't want to believe that this many people could honestly decide that the rights and respect of myself and others mattered so little to them.

 

For many of us, the trauma of the election runs deep. It awakens the ghosts of past traumatic experiences. On Monday, I likened my level of anxiety to what I felt in Boston after the bombings. In fact, prior to Tuesday, I thought about bombs a lot. My subconscious level of fear was so great that the last time I was this afraid and uncertain became very vivid. I don't doubt that there are many people who have their own traumas coming back to them. It can make processing the election exceptionally difficult.

 

 

Casting my ballot on Tuesday, I thought of my nieces and nephew. I thought of the world I hoped we were creating for them. I want them to know and see that they can do anything. I want my nieces to see that women may still face a lot of inequality, but that our country doesn't think so little of us that they would put a man accused of sexual assault in the White House. I was right to think of these young people in my life, but I was wrong about what half of the country thinks about them. To them, I say: I'm sorry. I will continue to fight for the country and world that you deserve, that we all deserve.

 

 

To that end, I have to turn to two important things in the coming days: practice and compassion. They can both be hard in the face of what has happened, to the unsteadiness so many of us are feeling.

 

I implore you to find the practice that will help you through. Can't sit? Okay. Walk. Can't walk? Okay. Yoga. Can't yoga? Okay. There is something. There is something that can help you remember the vastness that is both inside and outside of you, the calm in the storms. It's in there. Maybe you feel the winds and rain more than you feel the center, but it is there. Breathe. Process as you need to.

 

 

Admittedly, I am having a hard time with the second item on that list. I know people who voted for Trump. I work with people who voted for Trump. They walk down the street and I wonder: "Did you do this? Was it you?" I try to hold the space for that to be the truth and for my anger and grief to also be part of that truth. The reason the space has to exist is so that the compassion can live there. Hate does not solve anything. Matching hate or disrespect or abuse with more of the same brings us all down. It's not easy to find compassion these days, but we must. It does not excuse this affront to decency, but if we are all interconnected (which I believe we are), we must make that space. Any ounce of compassion you can muster is greater than any ounce of hate that you encounter. It might not feel that way, but I know it to be true.

 

 

To close, I think it's important to say: You don't have to be okay today. You don't have to be okay tomorrow. I am beside you. I am here. I am in this with you. I was with you before I was ever with her or anyone else. I have always been with you. I have always wanted the best for us both, the respect, the rights, the equality. You matter. We are in this together and we can make it through. Together.

 

 

If you find yourself wanting to talk, wanting help with practice, needing support, I have set up the ability for you to schedule free mini-sessions here. In the coming days and weeks, I will also be taking to Periscope in the hopes of having some helpful sessions. I'll try to announce ahead.

 

 

Remember: You are important. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.  If you need help doing that, please reach out to those you know can help.

Kirsten CarrollComment
November: Month of Free Good Stuff

Last year for the December holidays, I offered a month of free coaching. It was a great time for people to get more connected to practice during what's often a stressful period.

 

This year, I'm doing it again but in November. November has its own challenges. It's the beginning of the holidays for many with Thanksgiving. It's a time of transition between fall and winter. The days are getting shorter. The cooler weather is settling in. November is also my birth month. So in thanks for another year on the planet, I am happy to offer a month of free good stuff.

 

I'll be teaching free walking meditation classes, which you can check out on the Events/Classes page. I'll be doing some free pop-up meditations over on Periscope. I will also take on new coaching clients for free.

What can you expect in a month of mindfulness coaching? If you're new to meditation, we can talk about how to develop that practice in a steady way. We can talk about how to bring mindfulness into areas of your life that you want to explore. You can learn some breath work to help you in different scenarios. Private meditation sessions are an option. Maybe you're going through your own season of transition or struggle and just want mindful support through that time. I am also happy to offer accountability for those that have a hard time keeping up with regular practice. Sessions can be virtual or in person. There are a lot of possibilities here, so if you are interested send me a message and we can talk it out.

 

If you're interested in the free coaching, please make sure to reach out before November 1st! I'm excited to hear from you!

 

 

*Unfortunately, spots are limited for free coaching in November due to time constraints. Never fear! My services all run on sliding scales and I do my best not to turn anyone away for lack of funds. Let's talk about what works for you and what I can offer.

A Lesson in Making Space

 

Today, I put the Patreon on hiatus. You can still go and have a peek at the current structure, patron levels, etc., but I don't plan to work with it more until at least the beginning of the year. I'd like to take some time to look at how better to serve people in a manner that is most beneficial.  In the meantime, you can check things out here on the blog, social media, etc. If you're interested in being notified of the Patreon coming back to life, stay tuned to those channels.

  

It took a lot of deliberation as to how to proceed with the Patreon. I knew I wasn't giving to it what I wanted to, therefore I wasn't seeing the response that I had hoped for.  One thing I think about a lot in my endeavors (e/u included) is how much space I have made around the project. Maybe I haven't left enough space for the Patreon to flourish.  

 

I know this can be true in a lot of other areas of my life. I wonder why something doesn't happen, but then I realize that there isn't any room. I pack my schedule pretty tightly, so adding something on can be hard. In relation to my acupuncture school studies, I see that I want to be doing better grade-wise, but I haven't built the time for it, haven't made the space. 

 

This isn't just time and schedule related, though. Sometimes we don't make space in our heart or our expectations. We cling to what we think something needs to look like instead of making the space for it to be whatever it is. It's way easier to have a specific vision of something than to let things flow as they will.  That's not to say you have no control over an outcome or shouldn't work toward something, just that not allowing for different possibilities can be limiting. 

 

I have seen this a lot in my own life over and over. It's one thing that draws me back to paying attention to the present. In the present moment, I can make space for so much possibility. We can just be here now, with what's happening now. It can be less about expectation and therefore less about the pain we might find in disappointment. Sure, when something doesn't work out how we'd like, it's normal to be disappointed or feel down about it, but we can recognize that each moment brings new possibility and that particular feelings (whatever they are) about the circumstances don't last forever.

 

The next time you find yourself stuck in some way or maybe clinging too hard to an outcome, make a little space and see what happens.

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