Posts Categorized: Getting Unstuck

Retreating to Advance

When I tell friends I’m going on a retreat, they tend to think of beach walks, massages, “pampering me” time. Or maybe those are the images that get me packed up and out the door. Some retreats are like that, but that’s not the kind I usually choose.

Retreats with a lot of silence and meditation time always bring me home to my own being. So I know the healing powers of quieting the mind in a retreat setting. What I tend to forget is all the resistance of my hyperactive mind. Also the fact that inner work is work. The movement to stillness is usually fraught with the noise of all the annoying thoughts and beliefs that want to be heard and questioned. What I do know from experience is that lasting change begins within, in the silent realm of the unseen. So I have proof that it’s worth it.

During Geneen Roth’s five-day retreat last week I was moved once again by the power of retreating from daily life to discover what I don’t take time to notice in my usual daily flow. Roth eloquently described this magic several times, and I jotted a few things down to remember the next time I believe it’s not worth it to uproot myself and move out of my comfort zone. As I reflect on my experience at this retreat, I find tons of evidence to prove that all the following statements are true. With a capital T. So, from her mouth, here’s a concise list of why I’ll continue to retreat in order to advance toward my true nature.

Married to Amazement: Geneen Roth Retreat

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

These lines by poet Mary Oliver were a theme threading through the retreat with Geneen Roth. Although I’d read the poem many times before, it was a qualitatively different experience to sit with the words, to drop into deep amazement. This morning the state that they invoke feels like the biggest “takeaway” from the event.

From a place of amazement I drop into deep curiosity about what my unique body and self are doing here in this life.

From Boil to Simmer: Retreat Re-entry

As most of my friends and clients know, I just attended a retreat with Geneen Roth, author Women, Food, And God, a book enthusiastically embraced by Oprah on her show last Wednesday, resulting in a #1 best-selling listing.
There is much to share.
And I will, right here, in the next few weeks.
I attended because I just knew I was supposed to, that I was ready really find out what I need to know about my relationship with food AND with Sacred Self. I wanted to accelerate my learning by giving time and attention. I wanted to “discover in a short time what might take months or years to learn.” (Geneen’s words)

The “Look Good” Religion

I was raised in a traditional religion, but my family had another religion that was more powerful. I call it the Look Goods. As a principal’s daughter in the rural midwest, how I looked and whether I fit in seemed like the bottom line. I can imagine now the beliefs forming in my six-year old head. “Please approve of me,” which carried another assumption: if you did you wouldn’t leave me.”

I would belong. A powerful motivator for a first grader. What did I stand to lose if “they” didn’t approve? Everything. Security. Comfort. So what I did was become inauthentic to gain that approval. I began to do, to dress, to say what I thought would win them over. I became a false version of me.

Refreshing Your Screen

One important thing I learned about cyberland is that you have to refresh the screen when you return to a site you’ve visited before. This allows you to see changes that have occurred while you’ve been doing other stuff.
The same is true for the process of change. If I don’t refresh, I run the same old loops, have the illusion of being stuck. For me, refreshing the screen means pausing, checking in, noticing that things aren’t the same. How could they be? It’s simply not possible.

Always We Begin Again

These are the opening words from the Rule of St. Benedict. I’m not a Catholic, but I owe so much peace and clarity to my training in spiritual direction with the sisters of a nearby monastery. These words continue to remind me, each morning, of possibility.
Especially when I’ve fallen off the wagon filled with my best intentions the night before. It hardly matters what I did, but let’s just say I let myself down when I unconsciously ate half a bag of chips at midnight. In the past this kind of thing has given me enough proof of hopelessness to pull me off the wagon for good, a rebellious child running wildly amok, with no regard for the future.

Groundhog’s Day and the Same Old Loops

I awoke today thinking about how appropriate the movie Groundhog’s Day is to the patterns I experience this time of year. My new year’s resolutions have begun to wear off, just when I was noticing some success. My mind is a little more peaceful, my body is a little lighter, and then I get a “Change Back Attack” sending me back into the same old loops of thinking and eating and living that inspired the resolutions in the first place.
Today I’m deciding to REALLY wake myself up from the movie. So I’m going to the ancient wisdom of the Celtic religions. Today is also known as Bridget’s Day or Imbolc, because it’s exactly between the shortest day of the year (Solstice) and the Spring Equinox, when days and nights are equally balanced.

Is it true?

This is the 24 carat question. It’s truly astounding to me how often I don’t stop to ask it, even after more than five years of inquiry where this is the first question (The Work of Byron Katie).  The more mindful of my choices I become, the more assumptions I notice I have about the world.  This is the source of all my personal restriction.

Sometimes it’s hard to catch the belief (see my blog on Thought Catching).  Often this comes after I notice a habitual pattern of acting that keeps me stuck.  I notice I frequently don’t allow enough time to get places, to be restfully present when I arrive. I notice the stress that comes into my life. 

Oh my gosh.  I’ve been believing two things my whole life: that I have to rush.  That I don’t have enough time. Is it true? that I don’t have enough time?  That I have to rush? Be honest with yourself.  No. But by the way I act you’d never know it.

There are other profound and powerful questions in this process.  But sometimes asking just this one takes me right out of a old, robotic way of living and brings me to the present moment, where I can create something different.

Try it out for yourself.  Ask this one question and notice what other wisdom emerges.

As for me, I’m going to take my time packing for my morning exercise routine right now, testing out whether it’s indeed true that I needed to rush.

Living the Questions

Many years ago I came across these words by Rainier Maria Rilke, in his Letter to a Young Poet:

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

I’ve been compiling a list of questions that I love to ask myself and others ever since. When I’m feeling confusion or stress, it’s usually because I haven’t taken the time to ask myself some good questions.  I notice this is true for my clients, too.  With that in mind, I’m sharing some of my favorite questions in the next few blog entries.

Here’s the one that shows up today: Who am I now? I’ll be carrying it in my pocket today to find out, as the day progresses, as I live with it.  Here’s what I notice this moment.  I’m finding my way back to my center after the last month’s whirlwind of activities. I’m noticing I’ve been missing me when I’m responding to everyone else.   Read More>>

Getting Traction, as Opposed to BEING in Traction

When I’m caught in the web of my Frequently Recycled Thought Loops, it’s like being in traction.  I’m strung up, and I have a very hard time moving. And I’m in such a trance to the fruity loopy thinking that I won’t budge until I can see the predicament. Often I need to simply sit down with a pen and paper and write down what I’m thinking so I can slow the whole loop down and see my way out of traction.

Doing this, I find a different kind of traction.  I GET traction to get unstuck.  Once I can find a painful thought, I can begin to inquire (usually using my favorite 4 questions a la Byron Katie.)  And if I’m too locked in the loop (or strung up in traction) STILL, I can get someone else to help me find it.  I love being facilitated as much as I love facilitating other people. As I find the place of traction, my mind gradually gets unstuck all by itself, as it comes to understand itself. And sooner or later (usually sooner) I’m unstuck.  And if I’m not, I know how to find another thought and move deeper into the process.  Join me as we all get more unstuck. Using some traction to get out of the traction of our thinking.