Archive | July, 2013

Chasing Color…

27 Jul

If you find a path with no obstacles....Our lives are ours to polish; to brighten in the ways that will illuminate our souls; to dive into head first with consciousness and appreciation; to paint with a creative palette of colors; and to write with twists, turns, and new experiences.

Are you chasing color in your life? Desperately clinging to something or someone rather than stepping into the color that is right here around you?

If you’re suffering, do you see the shades- the depth- that is this ‘suffering’? Is the ‘suffering’ a masterpiece of your own creation? If you believe you should not be suffering, you believe that you are not capable of growing and emerging from your safe and sheltered cocoon.

Embrace your suffering. Stop chasing and start acting. Move with passion. Remove the complaints, the whining, and self-fulfilling barriers. Step away from the wishing and explore the possibilities that are right there in front of you. Check your ego at the door. No, you don’t “deserve” anything. No, you shouldn’t “have it all.” Go make it happen. Turn on the light.

“Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of ego.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

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You’re a human if you’re unveiling some crap. You don’t have to like it.

25 Jul

A significant misconception exists among many newbie mindfulness adopters.

It may sound mystical and I think it frequently turns people off because of its perceived leanings toward Eastern religion, but mindfulness isn’t about becoming religious. Perhaps for some, that’s important, but what I find is it’s much more easily accepted when it’s looked at for its tools toward becoming more in tune with one’s self and acquiring skill in concentrated awareness.

wpid-20130718_115011.jpgMindfulness meditation, while it has been around for thousands of years, has been garnering tremendous interest among fitness, health, and medical communities of late. Described by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a researcher and founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at UMass, as a compassionate, non-judgmental focus on present-moment experience, mindfulness meditation is among the top six most recommended therapies of complementary and alternative medicine. And it’s evidence-based! According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, in 2006 slightly over 9% of Americans engaged in meditation. That same year almost a million children meditated, and school districts across the country are now teaching mindfulness to children in the classrooms.

If you believe meditation in its various forms, and mindfulness in general, is just a rather fruity way of achieving some sort of transcendental spacing out, think again. It is being used  by millions to achieve optimal wellness; to cope with anxiety and stress; to manage emotional pain; to decrease the debilitating effects of depression, insomnia, and chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease; and to manage the psychological effects and treatment of disordered eating and substance abuse, just to name a few. The children who practice it are more emotionally aware, concentrate better in class, and exhibit greater resilience in the face of setbacks. Spacing out has no place in mindfulness—it is all about tuning in!

ReflectIn a lecture I gave recently, while discussing the benefits of “leaning in” to our discomfort– taking a curious approach to it to peel back its layers and discover its underbelly– I was met with a concern from an audience member. She said, “Kori, how is that not wallowing in the pain?” A valid question. The story she had written as a young girl through experiences by her caregivers held the message of “don’t show your emotion, it’s inappropriate to feel, and if you express pain, you’re weak.” Great. So pain = wallowing? Except, we all experience pain- it’s part of the human condition. Can you imagine the difficulty this woman was having as she attempted to navigate difficult circumstances in her life? Mindfulness doesn’t mean wallowing. It means taking notice of what’s there, observing it, acknowledging it. There’s a responsibility-taking in this. An acceptance. And when you accept it you may not like it! Whatever you discover could be like stepping in crap- ew, yuck, gross! But the important piece of this is in the non-judgment of the result. So you don’t like it. Are you bad because you don’t like it? “SHOULD” you be experiencing it differently? I could give you a million examples of self-judgments and recriminations that I’ve heard throughout my work with clients, and I’m no stranger to them in my personal life. “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” Except you do.

“Because of the human tendency to perpetuate old emotion, almost everyone carries in his or her energy field an accumulation of old emotional pain… ~ Eckhart Tolle from A New Earth

Another client email exemplified this well. She said, “As I was digging to the bottom of the issue, I was not proud of what I found…” I got stuck on this statement of hers. It was honest, real, and captivating to me. Her disappointment, anger, and fear were all over the place. As I read her description of the situation though, these were the words I got hung up on.  She wasn’t keen on the issues she found at the root of her emotion…

Herein lies that which is at the heart of mindfulness. Being aware, non-judgmentally. Discovery isn’t “supposed” to be enjoyable all the time. Enlightenment doesn’t mean that we like what we find or that we illuminate beauty. Oftentimes we uncover some pretty ugly crap. But are we not blessed to have done so? The crap itself may stink, but it’s what we choose to do with the crap that matters. Attentive awareness brings to the forefront what we may never have been present enough to see before. It’s not just about inner peace all the time. It’s about understanding so we’re not being guided blindly by falsehoods and irrationality.

You’re a human if you’re unveiling some crap. You don’t have to like it.

No new experience, no new insight…

23 Jul

Feel the PathNo new experience, no new insight. This is Halcolm’s Law of Induction. Until I was given the space to be out of my normal environment, it was my unthought known…or perhaps more accurately, my undone experienced.

And so I continue to travel, though my Week-Long Wanderlust has officially ended.

Learning need not come from books, but read, read, and read some more. Learning must come from the yearning and then acquisition of observation and inquiry when we are in doubt (which often leads us to books). But then when we think we are certain, we must realize this is a signal to observe and inquire even more.

Halcolm said: There is no burden of proof. There is only the world to experience and understand. Shed the burden of proof to lighten the load for the journey of experience.

I came back from my vacation feeling very different. And different is the best way I can describe it. “Different than what?” you might be asking. Different than my normal. Different than my to-do list making, regimented, scheduled, calculating, mapped out and planned self. I stepped out of the box. And while I’m back to doing these same things, there is a lightness about it.

20130718_115003(0)As I think about what being away was like for me, and the spaciousness that I walked into, the restorative benefits were so immense it just makes me pause to recognize the value of 1) nature (I was outside almost every day, in the sun, breathing in the fresh mountain air, appreciating the trees and the breeze); it was nourishing and revitalizing. And 2) walking headlong into opportunities, be them people, places, the unknown; or more so, seeing each of our moments as opportunities. The second one is not new to me, but it feels fresh.

My take-away:

“Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is like a train of moods like

a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which

paint the world their own hue. . . . ”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Week-long Wanderlust Wrap-Up

20 Jul

So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the path of each man’s genius contracts itself to a very few hours. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I feel weird. Plain and simple. I  had the thought this afternoon, “I’d take driving 20 hours again over this…” I was listless and uncomfortable though I had plenty of chores and things to catch up on. It was just a thought- some we notice and some we don’t, and many aren’t even based in reality. But perhaps that’s where the weirdness comes in. For one week I didn’t have chores. Sure, I did dishes, I straightened up the condo’s couch pillows, I made sure the lights were off when we left to head into Vail Village. But I didn’t have a to-do list. I didn’t have “real-life” responsibilities. I didn’t even make my bed. Not a day goes by here at home that I don’t tuck the sheets neatly over the pillows and carefully feather the bed skirt out around the edge of the mattress. It’s like I abandoned time for a week. On the drive home, I had to check with Kristen, “It’s Friday, right?”20130716_090525_1

I blogged every day and I cannot remember what day we did what activity, when we did it, and how it happened. Is that what a vacation is supposed to feel like? Time stands still? A wrinkle in our perception where the earth stops spinning and you’re transported to some other far-off land where you forget who you are? I recall one vacation years and years ago from which I returned and could not remember the names of the therapy team I directed. Hard to believe that I relaxed that much mentally.

We arrived home at midnight this morning. When I walked into the house my immediate thought was, “Whoa.” I stepped further into my living room from the entry way and felt as if I’d floated into a castle. It felt so spacious and empty. I thought, “I have a nice living room.” Weird. Perhaps I was hallucinating from the 20-hour drive, or perhaps I was seeing another aspect of my life through fresh eyes. Automatic pilot. I had turned it off for my week-long wanderlust and my senses were recalibrated.

Funny- my normal “on” switch was flipped immediately when I got up this morning. I got dressed, I threw all my dirty laundry in the washer, I unpacked, and I went outside to mow the lawn and pull the weeds. I showered, I had a cup of coffee, and it wasn’t until 3 hours later that I realized Last Morning Run (2)I hadn’t stopped moving. None of this is bad. Or wrong. It’s just enlightening. Often, we cannot easily see what we’ve been wrapped up in until we step outside of it. When I ask my clients to eat a week’s worth of meals with their non-dominant hand, they see their food through different eyes. When I ask them to take a different route to work, same thing. Our patterns of behavior and thought become engrained, and until we consciously and deliberately take them in another direction, we continue to move blindly. My normal had become so normal that I think what can and needs to be my normal felt foreign.

On my way into town to buy groceries, I called my mom. Here’s how a typical conversation with my mom goes:

Mom: “Hi, Kerr! How are you?”

Me: “Hi, Ma. I’m fine. Just busy.”Flowers

Mom: “What are you up to?”

Me: “Oh nothing. Just working. Studying.”

Mom: “Anything new? Are you feeling good?”

Me: “Well, there’s always something new. I wouldn’t even know where to start. Every day something different happens.”

Mom: “You’re feeling good? You sound tired.”

Me: “Yep. I’m good. Not too tired. Just going to study today.”

Mom: “Well, try to take a break, Kor. Do something different. You work so hard all the time.”

Me: “I will, Ma. What’s going on there?” And I shift the conversation to her.

The conversation this morning was vastly different. First, and importantly, I cried. Iyanla would have been proud. I’m emotional. We know this. Except all week (until we approached the final day) I didn’t cry. Not a tear to be found. Nada. The Colorado air was dry, and so were  my eyes. I felt even-keel and neutral. The emotion- a signal. So I cried, but not right away. First I talked. Well, actually I blabbed. Aspen TrailNon-stop. For about 20 minutes. I don’t even remember the drive into town, and I think I had to take a detour due to road closures. I spewed everything we did, where we ate, what we saw, details of our hike, the runs we went on, and then when I got to the part about feeling so incredibly relaxed, like the synapses of my brain cells had gotten together for a siesta of sorts…..whooooooosh! I cried.

I have a lot more thinking to do about my time away, and I anticipate many revelations. At this point, however,  I have one word to describe my week-long wanderlust:

Restorative

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What is this life if full of care; we have no time to stand and stare~  W. H. Davis’ words, from the poem, Leisure, encapsulate my experience.20130719_054926

My Week-long Wanderlust: Day 6 and 7 (half day)

18 Jul

Yesterday I was accosted by Einstein.  He asked me to sit on his lap for a photo.  I thought it harmless.  I was wrong. 

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Day 6 was relatively relaxed. Coffee,  breakfast,  and skirting around Vail Village again to see the sights unseen.

Einstein wasn’t even kind enough to offer up a dollar for the lap dance, but we managed to scrape together enough change for an ice cream meal again.

Dinner at the condo and planning our final day that would begin with a run and a final visit to our “old haunt,” the Westside Cafe. Kristen was determined to try their Captain Crunch French Toast. She did more than try! I watched as she facilitated a syrup downpour and left just one bite on her plate. I can only wish I had this woman’s metabolism!

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Captain crunch french Toast

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While she downed her breakfast Kobiyashi style, I feigned a mindful meal while intently listening in on a one-sided conversation between lovers. My assessment I’ll keep to myself. Watching him turn the pages of his newspaper like he was shooting a machine gun was comical– the irritation palpable. I contemplated spilling my coffee across my crotch to distract him from the discomfort, but didnt want our new waiter to be put in an awkward situation. More than anything I was curious to know if the menu warnings were accurate. I was skeptical.
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Now, lying on a blanket under the Aspens Im in a reflective mode.
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Here it’s like an alternate reality. The push-pull so common in life…virtually absent. Expectations moot. I’m transported back to the amazing individuals I work with and hope they can see and accept that even in the moments we notice we’re trying excruciatingly hard to drive in a certain direction, lessons abound. Our lives aren’t linear. On the run up to the village this morning and then back down to breakfast, I stopped multiple times to wait for Kristen. I walked, I jogged, I sprinted, I lunged, and I even ran backwards.
Life doesn’t have to feel like work unless we want it to. Unless we decide we have something to prove. We can act and see what happens.
I should have spilled my coffee.

My Week-long Wanderlust: Day 5

17 Jul

Today was the first day I had the thought, “Oh no, we’re leaving soon.”

Today was also the day I felt the greatest sense of appreciation for the time here.  I found myself consciously taking deep breaths as the edge that I’m typically surrounded by at home began to slowly envelop me. “Right now,” I reminded myself.

Day 5 of 7 we rose to ready ourselves for the Berry Picker.  I was eager to get onto the mountain and feel the fresh morning air stinging my face and the burning of my lungs. I didn’t know how difficult the trail would be – it was listed as moderate. But I had done week-long backpacking trips and knew what difficult was. The Berry Picker was a 2.5 20130716_094152– 3 hour hike that we could choose to take to a gondola further up the mountain or ascend higher, take another trail over and then down, or backtrack our way to the start on the same trail. We hadn’t decided what we’d do when we got to a stopping point, keeping with our trend of not having to plan everything out.

The first mile proved to meet my expectations- immediate ascension leading into a well-groomed, narrow and knotty trail of aspens and foliage that left our lungs heaving and hearts pounding in our ears. My bliss. I could go uphill all day. There was a rhythm I’d find with the exhale and inhale, turning the hike into an experience of flow. A reminder perhaps of what I would be going home to very soon?

Mile 2 seemed to come quickly. A series of switchbacks provided us with brief reprieves from the incline and my competitive mind pushed its way in as I calculated how quickly we were covering the distance. 27 minute per mile was what my high-altitude oxygen-deprived brain had determined, with stops to admire the view and snap some photos that could instantly take us back.

20130716_09021420130716_09022620130716_09175820130716_094354We had chosen a perfect day. Pillowy clouds lined the sky in the distance, and rain was called for in the late afternoon. We had gear for whatever the conditions brought us, but with only a few hours, it was clear we’d be enjoying the sun when we would emerge from out of the tree-lined forest. The birds serenaded us, the brooks we

crossed several 20130716_095516times babbled frantically as they tumbled over the smooth stones, and a far-off helicopter roared in the distance as we trekked through mile 3 and were dropped at a utility road. Signs indicated it was the detour for 3 paths, but we were confused as to the direction we needed to head. Out came our trail map. Onward! (And we’d done the 2.5-3 hour hike in 1 hour and 40 min- BOOM!).

We walked another 10 minutes and a gentleman, seeing the map, asked if he could help us. Explaining where we wanted to head, he explained the construction and pointed us in the right direction. Deciding that we wanted to continue hiking though, rather than taking the gondola back down, we got back on the Berry Picker in the hopes of running into another path that would drop us on the other end of the village where we’d started.

An hour and 20 minutes later, after landing on paths unanticipated, avoiding those marked “Easiest Way” (c’mon!), and taking to trail running, we emerged in Vail Village…right at lunch time.

Setting up camp at the end of a trail to beckon the hungry hikers through its doors,  Los Amigos, knew what it was doing. We would gladly fall prey to their savvy business strategy. We asked for  table outside and enjoyed another great meal on what the menu touted as “The Best Outdoor Patio in Town.”

Spent, content, and refreshed, we took a leisurely stroll around town again before heading back to the condo to rest and spend two hours on the phone with Samsung tech getting assistance for a gmail syncing issue. I could only laugh at the dichotomy of the day’s events.

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My Week-Long Wanderlust: Day 4

16 Jul

Today: A journey through pictures20130715_101821

10am: Ice cream (I told you!). Salted Caramel at Joe’s + a few additional samples.

So far chocolate s’mores rules the day!

We sat in the sun on a bench in the village and watched the town wake up.

10-12pm: in and out of the boutiques, talking a bit to the shop workers. Most I noticed were young

women in their 20’s, perhaps working their summer jobs. I wandered into stores and lusted after the absorbingly beautiful nature photos, most more vibrant than we’d encounter on our excursions.

We spoke with the gondola worker about some possible hikes for the following day and made our way to the Cinebistro.

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One of only seven locations in the US, the Cinebistro is a dinner theater of sorts. Not the kind where you watch a play while dining, but an actual movie. You sit down in a movie theater chair with a pull-out tray table, and you can eat while watching the film. We decided to eat beforehand and then made our way in to see “The Heat.” And the heat was what they needed in that theater! I used my purse and the  napkin to cover my legs and threw on the long-sleeved shirt Kristen had purchased as her Vail souvenir. Coffee was ordered asap!

4pm: Arrive back at the condo for some work and another movie, aptly titled, “The Tourist.”

And the rest is history. Popcorn, my laptop, a light snack, then slumber.

Tomorrow we would conquer the Berrypicker!

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