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Nurture your Thoughts, Emotions, Actions
Nurture your Thoughts, Emotions, Actions
This weekend I was treated to a beautiful therapeutic foot bath, nurturing cup of tea, and sharing of warm, compassionate wisdom and mindful presence from my beautiful friend and co-founder of the wonderful non-profit Nurture People, Jana. It left me feeling nourished on all levels.
It reminded me of how difficult it can be to receive sometimes, but what a gift our receiving can be to others too. As Marshall Rosenberg, creator of non-violent communication says - when we give from the heart, from a place of compassion, we do so out of a joy that springs forth whenever we willingly enrich another person’s life. This kind of giving benefits both the giver and the receiver. The receiver enjoys the gift without worrying about the consequences that accompany gifts given out of fear, guilt, shame, or desire for gain. The giver benefits from the enhanced joy and self-esteem that results when we see our efforts contributing to someone’s well-being.
This quality of compassion, which he refers to as “giving from the heart,” is expressed in the following lyrics by Ruth Bebermeyer:
GIVING FROM THE HEART
I never feel more given to
than when you take from me — when you understand the joy I feel
giving to you.
And you know my giving isn’t done
to put you in my debt,
but because I want to live the love
I feel for you. To receive with grace
may be the greatest giving. There’s no way I can separate
When you give to me,
I give you my receiving.
When you take from me, I feel so
Jana runs a weekly service from Nature Baby in Newmarket Auckland, every Friday. Her non-profit Nurture People also offers a beautiful nurturing, supportive and educational service and parent classes to new parents and caregivers. Find out more here.
I love this quote by Pema Chödrön, about tending to the first arrow. The parable of the second arrow is a Buddhist parable about dealing with suffering more skillfully. The Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way.
The first arrow that hits us (an unexpected event, situation, illness etc) causes pain and hardship, which we can’t ignore.
The second arrow is the suffering we add on top of the pain. It is our reaction to it, and is optional.
The teaching is that pain and hardship are unavoidable for us all, however, we have a choice when it comes to the suffering. Our relationship to pain and hardship are what to a great extent influences our suffering.
When we tend directly to the experience, and turn off the mental chatter, suddenly the experience of suffering that seems to arise from pain will resolve. This has been shown in research using brain MRI scans in mental and physical pain studies.
This image reminds me that there is both stillness and movement in yoga asana practise. In movement we seek stillness and calm. In rest we stay mindful and attentive.
These quotes both contrast and compliment perfectly.
Take on only as much as you can do today. Be completely present with each thing that you do and find the joy in simplicity. Simple is profound.
There was once a mindfulness institute that placed an advertisement in a daily newspaper and in various social media sites. The short ad read as follows:
One-day Enlightenment. Guaranteed. Call: 0800-Mindful
A woman saw this ad and got very excited. She had been dealing with daily stressors, a new job, and even health issues. She called to get the address and the very next morning she went to the institute and found one of the instructors.
“I saw your ad. What do you mean by enlightenment?” she asked.
“Clarity of mind,” said the instructor. “Also, a sense of peace and inner calm, even in the midst of life’s difficulties. All you have to do,” he explained, “is to follow your breath completely, noticing the in-breath, the pause, and the out-breath—without any distractions for the next seven hours to realise your goal.”
The woman glanced at her wristwatch, smiled and said, “Fabulous, I’ll have my enlightenment by dinnertime! Sign me up.” She was given a cushion to sit on, and so she began. The first in-breath was fantastic, and she was present with it the entire time. Right then, however, a siren blared outside. The woman’s sense of hearing grabbed onto the siren and brought it inside her mind, where it started to spin a story: That’s loud. Don’t they know we’re trying to get our enlightenment in here?
Just then she realized she had forgotten about her breath. And so she started again, noticing the complete in-breath and then being present with the pause. She was just starting her out-breath when a fly buzzed by. She opened her eyes and her sense of sight went and grabbed the fly and brought it inside her mind. Again, the mind spun an elaborate story: I wonder if we’re going to have lunch, because having flies isn’t a good idea. Maybe someone left the window open. Who should I talk to? Finally, she remembered about her breath, and so she started again . . . and again. As the story goes, she was still there ten years later trying to get her seven consecutive hours of breath awareness!
That’s why mindfulness is more accurately called re-mindfulness. It’s totally okay to remind yourself to come back to being aware of the mind and body and environment time and time again. Remember, there’s no being perfect with mindfulness. You don’t have to stop your thoughts, either. Just noticing them is good enough. In fact, when it comes to learning mindfulness good enough is always good enough. Because mindfulness is re-mindfulness, there’s never any failure with it. And it’s why mindfulness is a way of inviting and practicing kindness toward yourself.
Reflections: If you have critical or distracted thoughts during your mindfulness practice, just notice them, smile inwardly, knowing that by noticing thoughts you are actually doing the practice! Then, just think of the words “good enough” to release the thoughts and return to your practice.
Yoga Wellness Clinic
(Adapted from: Mindfulness Toolbox)
“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love.”
– Mahatma Gandhi –