Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts are only half the picture

I've been paying more attention to the thoughts that I have and with "whom" I'm having them. What is my imaginary conversation about? What do I need that I am trying to get from the mental conversation?

What if we could take a minute to experience the stuff behind our thoughts, right there in the time that we are chewing on it...

Michael Beckwith points out that we can Talk to ourselves instead of talking to the world. But it's not just the talking that can change. It's the feelings that come with them.

Young children have no trouble being angry with you in one minute, and then sharing their toys with you the next. That's because they live and experience the feelings in that moment. After experiencing those feelings to their full extent, they can let go and release the event that caused them.

There is no resentment ("feel again") because the event no longer has a charge, and there is nothing to feel again.

My goal is to look at my mental conversations as signposts to feel. To step into the feeling of that conversation and see what are the feelings that I bring with it that are waiting to be honored. To express compassion for those feelings of frustration, anger, guilt, as well as the feelings of kindness, love, and joy.

When I stop the mental conversations for a minute, it will be hard to let go of that cast of characters and my judgments of them long enough to look within at my own stuff. I've gotten used to dissociating from myself by looking out there for distraction. And it's a good change.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I know so little about dreams. There are so many books and authorities on dreams that I have not looked at, but maybe I don't need to.

There are books to tell you how to dream, the meaning of each and every symbol/object/person in your dreams, how to have lucid dreams, what dreams do for your health.... I'm actually afraid to look at this because I might mess it up. lol.

But one of my belief systems tells me that dreams are here for my well-being. I dream for my health. I dream to try to figure things out, or to bring to the surface the elements of my life that are ready to be "processed".

Even the unpleasant or violent dreams have some role to play. I'm not sure what or how. Maybe that's when I should be reading a book. One day...

But last night I surrendered anxiety to dreaming. I just said, "OK, I am in conflict on this subject, and I let it go to the angels of dreams to sort it out and put my mind at ease." I have to admit, I felt a bit silly at this invocation. I have never done that before. What was I doing? Where did I get this idea? Was it a psychological ploy? Was it prayer? Was it voodoo?

It worked. It seemed to work. I awoke without the anxiety, without the angst of wanting to figure it out, at peace. At relative peace.

Will this work for you? Haven't a clue. I don't even know if it will work for me again. I'm writing it down so that I'll at least remember it next time. Maybe I'll make a list during the day to hand over to the dream angels.

Bring me to my natural state of peace and serenity. Aaaahhhh.....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What Is Empathy?

At some point, I began to realize that I have a tough time watching gut-wrenching movies or listening to dramatic stories without being flooded with emotions. I thought being sympathetic in this way was a good path to connect with people.

What I've learned since then is that there is a huge difference between sympathy and empathy. While listening to someone's story, trying to identify with the other person's pain is a matter of sympathy. I would put myself in their shoes and see what feelings I would have in that situation. Apparently I was good at finding those feelings and emotions.

Or perhaps we look into our own history to find a similar story, or one that produced similar feelings. My mistake was in assuming that I knew what feelings the other person had actually experienced. Inevitably, by relating what happened to me and how I felt, I sound like I am engaging in brinkmanship so I can feel superior in the depth of my emotions and feelings.

Empathy is about observing and honoring. Listening isn't about how much I can identify with your feelings or story. It's about respecting your feelings and story. It's about honoring your story and feelings.

It's imperative for me to be neutral while you are relating your story in order for me to respect and honor who you are. Because you are not me. I am not you. Neither of us can know the other's experience.

Honoring and respecting each other is the essence of empathy.