Posts Tagged: Noticing

The Cafe at the End of the Search

I’ve spent a whole lot of my life in a search for truth, beauty, goodness, The Way. Much of what has motivated me has been from that deep longing that propels each of us to connect with the sacred in life.

No regrets. But lately I’ve been thinking of calling off the search. Because it feels like peace. (What better reason would there be?) When I’m craving something to eat, drink or do that will fill a hole, I’m usually believing that my current state isn’t okay.

Peace Beyond Belief

I’m about to head off for a 5-day retreat at my favorite hot springs. (Here in Oregon at this time of year, hot springs are perfect because we’re still in our long spring season). I’m preparing the materials, going to the Farmer’s Market for local flowers, flowing from here in the valley to there in the mountains.
Peaceful. As long as I remember to notice when beliefs would pull me out of the flow.

Change on Unseen Levels

I’ve become more and more aware of how change shows up in the last few years, working with dozens of clients and mentoring many of them over an extended period of time.
What one principle emerges from this work? This: Change happens on unseen levels first. I learned early on that focusing on a problem (say, weight loss or clutter clearing) as a first focus just doesn’t usually work. Yes, there may be improvement out front, but it usually doesn’t last. That’s the not-so good news.

Default Self, Default Body

I’ve been on a big binge since I returned from Geneen Roth’s residential retreat last week. I’m binging on self-observation, doing deep inquiry into the very archaic patterns I slide into so easily when I’m not paying attention. The one I created when I was almost too young to remember.
My default self has a life of its own. One of the biggest defaults I experience is believing that I made a mistake when I’m confronted with unexpected events. Yesterday I got through half a session with a client who called on the wrong day because I assumed I’d made the mistake. I recovered with time enough to (barely) make it to my strength conditioning class, which was originally on my schedule. Missing this would have been staying with my default body.

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.

Acceptance or Connection?

What’s the difference between a desire for approval (a strategy for gaining acceptance) and a desire for connection? I’ve been sitting with this question during the past week.
Here are some of the what I’ve noticed, in the form of “Questions to Self.”
Where’s my focus? A dead give away. If it’s on others, I’m usually thinking about what they expect of me. Is it on my own sense peace and well-being? It’s connection.

Personalities want something.

I’m reminded this morning of one of Byron Katie’s oft-repeated phrases:

“Personalities don’t love. They want something.”

I’ve been looking at my need for approval and appreciation this month, and this is the refrain that keeps showing up in my mind. When mind is quiet, I’m just simple and present. There’s a space for love to show up, and I love sharing that.
When my “personality” (my social self) runs the show, I do want something. I want others to do what I want them to do so that I can have what I want.

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.

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.