• Dr. Deb

What do we save and what do we leave behind?

It is hard to believe it is almost the middle of November Thanksgiving is just around the corner and with only 43 days until Christmas and 40 days until Hanukkah some of you may be feeling a bit of stress. For some of us this is the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and for others it brings attention to what they are missing in their lives. Regardless there is most likely a "to do list" a mile long, cookies to make, presents to buy, dinners to plan - but whatever emotion comes knocking at our door Rumi suggests we open the door and welcome them all in his well know poem The Guest house.

But before we invite them all in let's begin by becoming aware of the now. If I slip into this moment, I become aware of the sound of my typing, the clicking sound as my left-hand catches on posted note I have on my laptop to remind me of the shortcuts for the computer (thanks Victoria). I hear a dog bark outside and Winston’s small woof in response. I smell the vanilla candle I have burning (to help with the smell of the salmon I cooked last night), and I hear the low hum of my refrigerator. I feel the rung of the barstool beneath my bare feet as I sit perched at the kitchen island. I become aware of a tightness and pull in my neck/shoulders since I have been on the computer most of the day working on this blog. All of these observations and sensations are welcome and serve to anchor me in this moment and that is always good place to be.

How about you? What evidence do you have that you are here? An easy and fast way to anchor yourself is to use your five senses naming something you see, hear, smell, taste (just ate peanut butter cup while editing - have to keep up my strength), and feel.

For some of us Fall is a cozy time of heavy sweaters, a bit of knitting, campfires and pots and pots of soup and chili; and yet for others, the shorter days and colder weather can be isolating and a bit daunting. But if nothing else Fall is a time to pause and clean out closets as we pack away summer and make room for winter. And so, begins the chore of sorting clothes deciding what to keep and what to toss or donate. But what if we could do the same kind of housekeeping with our behaviors, thoughts or feelings? Hmmm ... what would you choose keep and what would you toss?

I was reading a chapter in Becca Steven's book Love Heals where Steven’s talks about how we might prepare for a hike up a huge mountain. She suggests we “pack wisely, plan for mishaps, enjoy the storms (not always easy for me), and give thanks as we embark on the journey.” As I read this chapter, I reflected on the fact that in the year and a half, our daughter has lived abroad I have learned to pack lightly when we travel (carry on only). However, I don't know if I am as skilled in "packing lightly" in the rest of my life. Perhaps there are more than a few things that I could leave behind?

So, in my quest to lighten my load I ask myself these questions: what is truly essential? And what do I wish to unpack and leave behind? I think I can do this pretty effectively with most material things: I could live out of a carry-on for a season or two season and anyone who knows me well knows I could live on apples, peanut butter and tea without much trouble - and honey.

But if I take this challenge one step farther and turn inward, as Tara Brach encourages us to do - I wonder if it would be as easy to decide what to pack and what to leave behind. Some of these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have been with me since my childhood many of which were effective coping mechanisms for then but not so effective or useful now. Sort of like the old knob and tube wiring perhaps it is time for an update in my neurological wiring. So I asked myself the same two questions. First, what parts of me (thoughts, feelings or behaviors) are essential to my well-being or serve me well? And second what thoughts, feelings, and or behaviors do I wish to leave behind? My answers came pretty quickly especially the ones I wanted to leave behind.

These are pretty big questions, right? Perhaps some of you wish to keep your daily meditation practice, yoga, or night out with friends because that helps you be your best self. Or, if you look a bit closer perhaps you will find your best attributes/qualities are: patience, resilience, kindness, having a huge heart, perhaps you are a great dad or mom, full of grace, smart or creative. For this journey what are the attributes you wish to toss into your one carry-on bag and bring with you? What is essential to your wellbeing? What equips you best for this journey ahead?

Now, take a pause and follow your breath in and follow it out – breathing in and knowing you are breathing and breathing out knowing you are breathing out.

And, if you are ready make that u turn inward and write down what 3 attributes help you be your highest/best self? And, if you can’t think of any what would your best friend say are your best qualities? Write them down now.

Take a pause now and follow your breath in and follow it out – breathing in and knowing you are breathing and breathing out knowing you are breathing out.

And now identify 3 parts of you that tend to get in the way of you being your best/highest self? These are the parts of you that trip you up over and over again. These attributes keep you from living your best life – this may be some of that old knob and tube wiring that isn’t so effective anymore. Perhaps: fear, ego, anger, anxiety, depression, loss, envy, sadness, feeling unworthy or even chronic pain? Write down the 3 you wish to release now.

Now take a breath, breathe in and know you are breathing in and breathe out and know you are breathing out.

Take a moment to picture in your mind’s eye a potentially stressful situation (not a traumatic one) one that has tripped you up more than once. (On a scale of 1-10 ten being most severe nothing over a 5) Now see yourself employing one or two of your best or higher attributes of yourself. Picture yourself responding with words are actions that are congruent with that higher self. What do you notice? How do you feel? How are others around you responding? What’s that like for you?

Now take a breath, breathe in and know you are breathing in and breathe out and know you are breathing out.

Know that it takes time to make a change but someone one told me practice makes better and I believe that to be true (thanks Dr. B, 1995)


Dr. Deb

"Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most."

the Buddha


© 2018 Mindfulness Instructor/Personal Life Coach, Dr. Debra Romberger.

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