I haven’t posted in a while, as I’ve been going through kind of a dark patch. Not that uncommon for when the days are getting really short and it’s gotten colder. I read a lot of blogs where people complain about how unhappy they are and how much their life sucks. I’m not judging people for doing that. People can write whatever they want on a blog, and people can choose to read it or not read it. I choose to be positive on this blog for two reasons. One, because I believe strongly in the law of attraction. What you focus on, you invite more of. I want to invite more joy and positive emotion and experience into my life. Two, because if anyone does read my words I want them to feel better afterward, not worse.
This past summer was my 11th at Kindred Spirits Camp, and this year my friend Lisa said something that really stuck with me. She said “all judgment is violence.” It made me think for weeks. I’ve learned a lot about communication and being respectful and how to interact with other human beings without being hurtful, even if I’ve allowed myself to become upset with something they’ve said or done. I’ve gotten a lot better at it. In my head though, I can still be a judgmental bitch. Even though I don’t say the mean thought aloud to the person, or say it about the person behind their back, the thoughts still come. I’m not proud of it. I’d like to be able to say that I don’t think mean things about other people, but it would be dishonest. I started thinking about what I could do to try to break that habit. In the end, I decided to get new tattoos, created by the amazing Carolyn Hawkins of the Shelton Tattoo Studio who also did my Ganesha tattoo.
The left hand has the sanskrit word for non-violence: Ahimsa. The right hand has the sanskrit word for compassion: Karuna. I figured if I had a reminder to be compassionate towards others, and not to send them the negative vibes of my own judgmental thoughts, i might be less likely to do so. I knew it wouldn’t change overnight, and it hasn’t, but it has raised my awareness of it. When I find myself thinking a judgmental thought about someone, I notice my tattoos and I make myself say something kind about them in my head, kind of an antidote. It’s making a difference.
This is a time of year when a lot of people make New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve done it myself. Pretty much every year it involves issues around food; losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier. This year isn’t any different, as my weight is at an all time high and my food addiction is out of control. My good friend and Kirtan partner Vajranada read me an amazing essay on New Year’s Day. I won’t copy the whole thing here because I don’t know who to credit, but two things stuck out for me about it: One, they suggested changing your concept from “resolution” to “evolution.” Two, they suggested changing it from “discipline” to “blissipline.” Which isn’t all that different from the point I was trying to make in my original post on this blog. Find something that is blissful, and you will keep doing it. It won’t seem like a chore.
There’s a woman named Patricia Moreno who was with us at Soul Camp for the two years it has been happening. She is the creator of IntenSati – a workout that combines affirmations with exercising your body. The first year she did this I stayed away, because I thought the “inten” part was short for “intense,” and I figured it was another one of those aerobics classes where I’d stick out as the only fat out of shape person there. The second year IntenSati was an all camp event, so I got to see what it was like. Turns out, the “inten” part stands for “intention,” and “sati” means mindfulness. That’s what I get for making assumptions! It’s totally doable for just about anyone. The past few days I have been listening in on Patricia’s daily “scopes” (referring to an app called “Periscope” which is an offshoot of Twitter, where you can broadcast a live video feed and people who are your friends on there get an alert and can interact with you). You never know when she’s going to do it, you hear the little chirping alert and there she is, walking on a treadmill, or eating butternut squash and purple cabbage, and offering us her words of wisdom for the day. I love listening in on these short little moments. I always leave feeling hopeful and excited and juiced to change my life for the better. And I love how she calls us “kitty cats.” 🙂
As a night shifter, I try to sleep from 8am to 4pm. Today I woke up at 1:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep and I was very grumpy about it. I got up and made my bed, and turned my phone on, and there she was! It was like the universe woke me up on purpose, saying “I know you’d like more sleep, but there’s a message you need to hear!” Patricia was talking about losing weight and how hard it is, and how it’s her opinion that it’s not a physical issue at all – it’s a spiritual issue. It all comes down to a lack of self-love. It’s not that I’ve never heard anyone say that before, but it just didn’t hit me the right way, or I wasn’t ready to hear it, or something. Today it brought me right back to what I was talking about at the beginning of this post. It’s not enough to try not to judge other people. I need to stop being so mean to myself in my head, because every time I put myself down, I’m inviting more self-loathing and shame. Every time I feel self-loathing or shame, I’m going to behave in unhealthy ways. Which will make me negatively judge myself more. I’ve been going about this backward. I can’t wait until I’m finally satisfied with my appearance to be nice to myself. I need to love myself now, overweight and out of shape as I am, and show myself the same exuberant love and encouragement that Patricia shows us in her scopes. I need to practice “ahimsa” and “karuna” on myself. By the time Patricia was done talking and eating her squash, my mood had done a 180.
Also at Soul Camp, we were given information on a 21 day cleanse. I decided on January 1st to do it. It’s called the Clean Cleanse, and it involves giving up alcohol, caffeine, sugar, flour, and dairy. It seemed like a lot, especially the coffee for a night shifter, but I figured I could do it for 3 weeks. I’m on the 6th day, and it’s actually not as bad as I thought it would be. It feels like a way of showing compassion and love to my body. When the 21 days are up I plan to stay off sugar and flour, as I know that’s what my food addictions are. I already don’t drink. I will decide about caffeine and dairy when I see how my body feels without them.
I’m also trying to show myself compassion and love by trying again to stop biting my nails and cuticles. I’m really bad with that – more often than not having a bunch of band-aids on my fingers. I’m taking a new approach though. Instead of putting something bad-tasting on my fingers, I am intentionally treating my hands with compassion and love. Several times a day I rub Working Hands lotion into each fingertip, while thinking about how grateful I am for my hands. They play guitar and piano. They care for me, and my kittens, and my patients at work. They’re really one of the most useful body parts we have.
So there you have it. My new year’s “evolution” is to practice self-love and compassion. If that brings about the changes in my behavior that I want it to, great. If it’s a slow process with ups and downs and successful and less successful days, that doesn’t make me any less deserving of love. I’m going to keep listening to what Patricia has to say, and other people I have met who have shown me that there’s a different way to live that is totally beyond this diet or that exercise plan.
How are you going to show yourself love and compassion today?