Why do I procrastinate?

What is procrastination? Is it truly that you are being lazy, unproductive, slovenly, a waste? Or, is it perhaps a much needed break, a respite, a time to catch your breath, akin to the necessity of sleep? Maybe it’s both: at one point it is laziness, at another, a true and much needed break. And, does it even really matter to know?

I come from a long line of A-type personalities, and here in the U.S., we live in an ego-driven, no-pain no-gain, “productive” society, and after winning my stage 3 battle with ovarian cancer in 2001, the PTSD from the experience perpetuated the drive to go and do and achieve and win (because, among many things, I needed time, lots and lots of time, before I had the strength and ability to face the fears and pain and loss I’d experienced). I’ve come to learn that this drive and constant push to accomplish can kill, literally, and at the least, cause anxiety, depression, physical pain, insomnia, among many other physical ailments.

Some time ago, I came across an article on Liminal Space. It was an enlightening article and something I had NEVER heard of before. Liminal is Latin and it means threshold. Liminal Space is a time of waiting, stopping, pausing, it’s a transition. Like a bend in the road where we have to slow down in order to make it through the turn safely, like the 8-hours of sleep our body’s need each night in order to repair, heal, and clear out the brain connections to make room for more, like the afternoon siesta that for centuries Europe and other countries have taken every day, the a doorway between rooms. The Liminal Space is a powerful place to be, to wait, wait with confident and intuitive expectation. It’s a space where the ego doesn’t exist and the path gradually becomes clearer as we watch, stop, and trust…. and sometimes wait some more. It’s pure potential, the border/threshold between possibilities, the place where anything is possible.

In the tangible/real world, when you are in this Liminal Space, it doesn’t mean that you do nothing, but it may. What’s so hard for our culture to grasp is that doing nothing is just as beneficial and important as doing something. Think if it this way: the earth needs a fall and winter season in order to make way for the spring and summer. Liminal Space is like the night to the day. The exhale to the inhale. We humans are part of the earth, made of the same materials, and we can take a big cue from her to find out best selves and live our best life.

As I see it, there are 2 large problems at play here: 1. we have been conditioned with 12+ years of schooling to think that there is only 1 right answer, that if we get the answer wrong, we are wrong, and that success equals action and being right, and 2. in the U.S., we have become so unaccustomed to being alone, with ourselves, in silence, stopping and pausing, that it’s so foreign, we “feel” bad about it. The good news is that feelings aren’t always true and when we practice slowing down, sitting with the uncomfortable, looking within ourselves, we can begin to flesh out our own and others’ feelings and move past them. Feelings of guilt and shame are big ones that can come into play as we slow down, feelings that we “aren’t doing enough.”

In yoga, there’s a Sanskrit term Aparigraha, it often translates to ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment.’ We can take a cue from this centuries old practice and begin to live with a better relationship with ourselves, and the world around us as we become of aware of how we’ve attached to and become possessive of feelings, belief’s, making them into our identities, our personalities. We humans are so much more than just feelings, much more than a body, we are spirit: a holy ghost walking around in a meat suit. As such, we are mystical, mysterious, and ever changing. As we begin to slow down, release old attachments, we can make room for what the Divine has planned for us, becoming happy, healthy, and whole in the process. We can have faith.

Time is an illusion. The thing at the end of this earthly life is death. As we pause in the Liminal Space and “procrastinate”, we give ourselves time to “smell the roses,” noticing and becoming aware of the things we are holding on to, the stress, the tension, the lack of trust/faith, feelings, and we can let answers come when they are meant to, we can let new possibilities begin to form, dreams take shape and manifest, we can take a breather and heal. Good things take time, think aged cheese, fermented wine/beer, cigars, and when we give ourselves, and others, space and time, good things will follow. Some might call this procrastination, but whatever you want to call it, you’ll find me reveling in it as I pause to remember that I am whole, centered, and living in harmony with all of Creation, happy at all that has been, what is to come, and what is right now.

If this seems really difficult and/or you don’t know where to start when you stop and pause, try reading of of my Meditation blogs here or here and/or listen to my Yoga Nidra CD for some simple guided meditation practice. These are great ways to find that sacred space within.

Namaste.

xoxo

Liminal Space
Taking that much needed pause to regain balance with some Restorative Yoga.

Letting go of shame: Observational Meditation


Shame: it’s ugly head pops up and creeps in, most awkwardly and uncomfortably. With new experiences, relationships, and the deepening of such, I see anew where shame still lives. Seemingly never fully out of its grasp (we are always a work in progress), I use awareness and meditation to face it and then let it go without fanfare (because it doesn’t need or deserve much of my energy or focus). 

The best tool I have found to let go of shame, and any other unwanted emotion or feeling, is through the practice of Observational Meditation. Here’s how I do it:

1. I find a comfortable position, lying down or seated, somewhere quiet and where I won’t be bothered. I decide on a time: 2 minutes, 10 minutes, or longer as desired, and I set my meditation timer. (I use the free app I-Qi timer.)

2. I begin to still myself. Breathe. I settle down and settle in. Taking my time, I begin to label thoughts as they arise. (This helps us become less invested in them and breaks the chains of identity to them. Labeling also separates beliefs from reality.) Taking time to label these thoughts, perhaps even a few times, I get to their root feeling, emotion, belief, or other such deep connection. I often exhale when I get to the core thought, then I know I’ve got it. (If you have a hard time deciding which is the core thought, that’s fine, just pick a label and go with it. The body/mind/spirit will speak to you again. Remember, it’s all just practice.)

3. After labeling the thoughts, I become aware of where I feel this thought in the body. This may come easily, or sometimes I have to sit with the thought/label for some time before I’m able to identify where it lives in my body. I stay with the thought long enough to actually feel it, remembering that the goal isn’t to change or get rid of anything but to observe and experience whatever arises. Sometimes this actually works the other way around: I feel and become very aware of a feeling/area within my body, and then I label it. 

4. That’s it! I just sit with the feeling/labeled thought for as long as I need for it to dissipate and lose its hold on me. Usually this is a matter of seconds before a new thought arises and I move on, but sometimes it’s a minute or so. This is such a simple practice, but one that is super powerful and one that does take effort. 

The fun news is that since practicing this technique in comfort and quiet, I can now do this anywhere and at any time, and really, this is the point: to embody this tool and use it when feelings of shame or anything else that no longer serves, arises. 

The harder we resist, the stronger unwanted feelings become. It’s the Self’s way to get our attention to make a change. Think of this practice like a dog that needs to go to the bathroom. He will continue to bark or whine or pester you until you let him out. Our body, mind, and spirit are the same: communicating to us through thoughts and feelings to get our attention to act. 

Shame sucks. Here’s to letting to go and moving on!

Let me know how it works for you. 

xoxo

Meditations & Dreams

Last night I dreamt that I boldly asked a random, middle-aged, guy at an event, with all my friends and family around, to take a few hits off his cigar. It was wonderful: to so confidently and assuredly ask this stranger if I could share his cigar and smoke it. He had already put it out and I had to relight it, furthering my assertiveness and elongating him and others observing my behavior. Although he was slightly surprised by my asking, he had an air of awe at my boldness and I knew he was happy to oblige my courage. The cigar was wonderful and although I will share a cigar every now-and-then with friends, in real life, I woke today knowing that the cigar had a deeper meaning, and so, as the aware dream interpreter that I am, I Googled it: “To see or dream that you are smoking a cigar represents a relaxed state of mind. You are in control of your own emotions and passions.” (dreammoods.com) This. This couldn’t be a more encouraging or affirming symbol for all the hard work I’ve done, breakthrough I’ve gained, and path I still have to walk. And so, it became my mantra for my meditation this morning: “I am in control of my emotions and passions.”

There’s so much more to say about this point in my life, but I think I’ll end with this: we have dreams and emotions and passions and hurts and joys and each other (friends and family) and they are all good and true and worthwhile, but none of these things define us, we are not any of these things or experiences, we simply are.

I am.

Namaste my friends. ❤️

Meditation: faith, breath, and trust

Meditation focused on the breath used to bring me a lot of anxiety, agitation, frustration, fear, and a feeling of being uncomfortable in my own skin. There was an underlying feeling of control and lack-there-of, with this style of meditation, so I usually avoided it. Instead I would meditate on a word, a verse, being in nature, or I used actions like washing dishes, singing, and yoga to bring me into the present moment, these were things I could control. Just recently, however, I came across some info that explained that breath-focused-meditation literally demonstrates that we are not in control: the breath is something that changes and morphs with each moment in quality, depth, sound, sensation, inside of us/from us/through us, so using breath-focused-meditation is a technique to build trust and let go. Breath-focused-meditation therefore builds faith: we face fears head-on, we surrender to the Divine, we work through struggles, and with regularity, the breath shows us that moments and life change but we will be ok, transformation happens and we can move with this flow of breath and life, if we so choose. This simple explanation has changed everything for me and now I’m longing to use breath as my meditative focal point.

For so long I’ve been trying to control my thoughts in breath-focused-meditation, violently pushing thoughts away and forcing myself to “come back to the breath,” pushing thoughts away and chastising myself to “stay present.” This was my way of control, or should I say, lack of trust, and thus I built anxiety, frustration, and discomfort. It’s no wonder I didn’t like this style of meditation! Now that I realize breath is the physical representation of faith, of the Divine, I’m experiencing a subtle shift and I’m letting go, trusting. In my meditation practice when I notice the feeling of anxiety I pause, and take a step back, and gently and easily turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice feelings of frustration, I pause and acknowledge these feelings, I take a step back and gently turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice thoughts racing through my mind, I pause, I take a step back, and easily turn my attention back to the breath and I become present. Instead of forcefully pushing thoughts away and chastising myself, I acknowledge these thoughts and feelings: I call them out and literally label them “thinking,” “feelings,” or “judgement,” and maybe most significantly, I step back and observe. As I separate myself from the thoughts, I then gently come back to the breath and the flow of it, and I build faith, I build a deeper connection with the Lord. With this subtle practice, I come back to the moment, this one right now, and I center myself with grace and ease on this flow. This stepping back and separating my identity from thought, this stepping back and separating myself from feelings, this stepping back and trusting in the breath and flow of life has made all the difference and my practice builds peace. This watching, observing, and acknowledgment of thinking and feeling loosens the hold my mind tries to have on my spirit and soul. This stepping back and witnessing breath is building a harmony in my triune being and I am loving the effects.

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