The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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Creating Change through Acceptance


by Golda Poretsky at Everyday Feminism.com
Photo credit: Rebeca Cygnus

If there’s one thing I learned in my years as a dieter and as a coach, it’s this: Hating yourself doesn’t work – on any level.

You can substitute “hating” for “fighting with,” “tormenting,” “being at war with,” or whatever, but the take-home message is the same. No matter how you say it, being down on yourself doesn’t help you.

It doesn’t create change. If anything, it only creates more stress.

The thing is: We’re all taught to fight our imperfections.

We’re supposed to fight our bodies — changing our shapes, our weights, our wrinkles. We’re supposed to fight our tendencies — to be loud, or rude, or to take the time we need for whatever.

And even if you don’t subscribe to all of the societal “shoulds” that are thrown your way, you may feel a push to hold onto some of them.

Hell, you may even hate your tendency to feel the pressure of all of these “shoulds!”

We grow up learning that this self-hate is normal, that it’s expected, that it’s part of creating change for yourself. It’s how we pressure people into conforming to what we, as a society, deem acceptable. We bully you.

But if you really want to change a habit, or a situation, or how you feel about yourself, the only route that will bring you any peace is to start with acceptance.

From that place, and from that place only, you can actually make a reasoned decision about whether change is even necessary in the first place.

A Real Life Example

Let’s say, for example, that you have a tendency to binge at night. Maybe you stick to a meal plan during the day, or you just feel like you’re able to eat more reasonable amounts during the day, and then at night you feel like you’re bingeing.

How would you handle it if you were fighting with yourself about it?

Perhaps you’d judge yourself, feel guilty for eating what you eat, feel like you need to hide what you’re eating from others.

Maybe you’d get really strict with yourself and force yourself to stop eating as much at night for a few days or a week or two, and then you’d have a particularly stressful day and find yourself overeating again.

Then the guilt and the recriminations are back, and you feel awful. You hate yourself and your lack of willpower and feel stressed out for being out of control.

Sound familiar?

To most people, I’d wager that it does.

But the question to ask yourself is: How does this help me?

Does it at all?

Introducing the “Kindly Researcher”

Let’s consider another way to handle this situation.

I’d like to introduce you to your inner “kindly researcher.”

Your kindly researcher sees your late night bingeing not as a reason to judge you, but as a wonderful source of information.

It accepts what is and just wants to know more.

You can access your kindly researcher at any time.

Use it to ask yourself questions in a kindly way.

It might ask you if you’re eating enough during the day, if your emotions feel more overwhelming at night, if you’re eating past your comfort point because you miss your ex, or feel creatively stymied, or you hate your boss.

As you engage with this concept, you can start to use the stuff you normally fight as a source of information. Not so you can fight it harder, but so that you can, to the best of your ability, start to give yourself what you need.

It will also allow you to start accepting the parts of yourself that you may not be too thrilled with right now. (And if you feel like there’s no way you could accept yourself or your body, check out this recent post.)

Accepting Things About Yourself That You Don’t Like

You may be thinking that it’s dangerous to accept things about yourself that you don’t like.

But on the contrary, I think it’s dangerous not to accept those things.

I can’t think of an instance where someone (a client, a friend, myself) hated something into changing. Not one. Single. Instance.

For years, I hated my tendency to get flustered when I had to do public speaking, even if it was just a meeting at my job. But it was only when I became more self-accepting that I began to give myself a chance to explore some options.

A friend suggested that I try taking an improv comedy class so that I could feel more comfortable speaking off the cuff, and because I was feeling so approving of myself, I was able to do that.

I ended up loving improv comedy so much that I kept taking classes and was asked to be on a musical improv team that performed weekly.

Oh yeah – and I got much less shy about public speaking.

But the amazing thing was that accepting myself and my “flaws” allowed me to have fun doing something that I never thought I could do.

When you accept your perceived flaws, you can actually make some decisions about what you want to change, and whether those flaws are really flaws at all.

Acceptance allows for a fluidity of energy, an appreciation of tiny steps of progress. Hating aspects of yourself just breeds frustration and more hate.

I could give you a bunch of tips here for how to start, but I’d like to just get you started with something simple:

Approve of Yourself for Everything

There are so few things in life that are really do or die.

If you forget your cell phone in your office, gain a few pounds, take a route to work that lands you in bad traffic, wear pants that are more uncomfortable than you thought, forget to wax your upper lip, say the wrong thing in a meeting, or whatever, it rarely has all that much consequence.

And yet, you may find yourself saying to yourself, “I’m such an idiot for doing xyz. Why can’t I do xyz right? What’s wrong with me?”

Instead, say to yourself, “I approve of myself.”

Stop the avalanche of disapproval by thinking or saying it aloud. “I approve of myself.”

Say it or think it at least 100 times a day. (It only takes a few minutes.)

It may feel false at first, or it may feel like a bad idea. You might find yourself thinking, “How can I approve of myself when I always fuck up?”

The question should be, how can you not approve of yourself? What does disapproving of yourself ever get you?

If nothing else, loving your perceived flaws is a worthy experiment.

****

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I am baffled by this seed of love…

I am baffled by this seed of love

you’ve tenderly planted in my

stitched-up heart,

for my twisted soul now

craves that burning feeling

that lives in my eyes

the following day

after I’ve cried persistently

in the lonesome dark

of the night, over needing

you.

 

Mustafa Tattan

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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

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By: Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

 

 

Image credit: Matteo on Flickr
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Two Seas in Palestine

An excerpt from “The Man Nobody Knows” by Bruce Barton

 

There are two seas in Palestine.

One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters.

The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there.

The River Jordan flows on out into another sea. Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.

What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the River Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie; not in the country round about.

This is the difference.

The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure. The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named Dead.

There are two kinds of people in this world. There are two seas in Palestine.

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With That Moon Language

By: Hafiz (c.1320-1389)

 

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise
Someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a
Full moon in each eye that is always saying,
With that sweet moon language, what every other eye in
This world is dying to hear?

 

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The Journey

By David Whyte

 

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

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What can we affirm right now in this very moment for ourselves that is real, no matter how small it may be?

By Angela Escobar

In a discussion forum I participated in this week, Dr. Arlette Poland made a suggestion to a peer that really spoke to me in a powerful way:

“Never give yourself an affirmation that is stated in the negative or in the future. Look for something that you can affirm right now and that is real, even in a small way.”

What can we affirm right now in this very moment for ourselves that is real, no matter how small it may be?

As you are sitting there reading this, take a few seconds–maybe a minute–to engage in mindful practice.  Check your breathing, check your mind, scan your body, notice any tension harboring in your body and release it.  Observe your life’s circumstances, whatever they may be, and give yourself an affirmation for the present moment that is positive–at the very least hopeful–and real, no matter how insignificant it may seem.  Give this gift to yourself today, now.

 

 

 

 

 

image credits:

“Free-fall”, retrieved from: artofliving.org

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Gratitude Unlocks the Fullness of Life

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. 

It turns what we have into enough, and more. 

It turns denial into acceptance,

chaos to order,

confusion to clarity. 

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past,

brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.  

~Melody Beattie

 

Have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving 2015 and enjoy your family and friends!   

 

 

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I Cry for Myself

By: Everchase

If a newborn baby doesn’t see light within the first six weeks, it will go blind and remain so for the rest of its life.

The same concept applies to the human spirit and its ability to form essential connections with other human spirits.  The connections made within the first twelve months of a persons life are critical in the development of the brain.  Trauma within these early developmental years can skew the brain’s growth and abilities, resulting in a myriad of disorders and dysfunction.

Imagine if you can a baby girl that has just entered the world, moments ago.  A newborn baby is the purest form of life available to us.  Imagine that the baby is given to its mother to be held immediately after the umbilical cord is cut and the baby is swaddled.  There are tears from the mother and squawks from the baby.  The mother presses the baby’s skin against her chest and kisses its forehead, enamoured and overwhelmed by this feeling of uncontrollable love.  The nurse then takes the baby to be bathed, examined and tested.  After the nurse leaves with the baby, the mother continues to cry – and cry and cry and cry.  She does not know if she will ever see her child again.

Imagine now a young married couple, eagerly awaiting a flight from Perth to Seoul.  The flight carries twelve women who all share the same hopes and fears, excitement and terror.  They are about to meet their new babies for the first time.  Amongst them is a woman in her mid-thirties who has had several miscarriages and knows that an adopted baby is her only hope of having a family.  A day later she arrives at the orphanage where she picks up her five-month daughter for the first time.

Imagine eight years have passed.  The little girl from Seoul is now cowering in the back seat of her father’s car as it drives her home from school.  She has her knees bunched up to her chest and is trying to make herself as small as possible.  Her father’s car is swerving on the road as he tries to drive with one hand and hit her with the other.  She is crying and terrified.  When she gets home her mother opens the front door, sees her tears and asks her, “What have you done now?”  That weekend, after spending hours and hours and hours in the bar of an old maritime club, the family is finally driving home.  It is after midnight and her father’s head is lolling around through the open car window, vomit streaked down the outside of the car door.  He is an alcoholic, a wounded war veteran, a violent, depressed man.  Her mother is a shadow of her former self; anxious and lonely.  Her golden-haired brother – a natural miracle child for her adoptive parents – always watches from the sidelines, his soft hair brushing into his blue, fearful eyes, while his sister bruises inside and outside.

Imagine the little girl as a woman now, 30 years old and married.  Despite hundreds of hours in therapy over the decades, she has tried to commit suicide once and has been on anti-depressants on four separate occasions since she was 16.  She has panic attacks and health issues and tears always sit just beneath the surface, ready to gush forth like blood from a paper cut.  She adores her husband struggles immensely with her husband’s two wonderful children so she has sought out a new therapist who tells her that she has complex post-traumatic stress disorder like she were describing how to bake a cake.

Over time, her therapist tells her that the family home represents a place of fear and turmoil for her.  She tells her that her husband’s children represent a threat to her safety and her ability to be loved and so consequently every time she sees them, a deep, dark part of her brain is triggered that makes her angry, resentful and detached.  She tells her that her brain does this because it didn’t develop the way it was supposed to so she cannot form meaningful connections like most other people, she cannot experience empathy for others and cannot overcome her instinctive behaviours with reason or rationality.  Instead when these children trigger the deep, dark part of her brain, its natural instinct to protect itself and herself kicks in and she sometimes fights or sometimes flees.  Nothing else in the entire world matters to this woman other than protecting herself.  It’s how her brain was formed; it’s how she survived her entire life.

Her therapist tells her that to soften herself to life and love and all that comes with it, she must learn to acknowledge and accept.  Not judge, but just realise.  Realise what has happened to her, that the person she has become isn’t good, isn’t bad, just is.  She must acknowledge the things that have happened in her life and accept that she is where she is, instead of avoiding, instead of hiding, instead of fighting, instead of fleeing.  Just acknowledge and accept.

Her therapist asks her how she would feel about this.  Tears are streaming silently down her face and she struggles to keep her voice steady as she says that she couldn’t do it, that she just couldn’t bear it.  Her therapist motions for her to keep explaining, so she takes another moment to pull back from the brink of hysterical bawling, and says that she couldn’t bear that much sadness – to truly know all those things that happened to that little girl, to acknowledge and accept – she couldn’t imagine acknowledging that much pain and sadness and that her heart would simply break.  She would rather die under the weight of that silver ball – shiny and sparkly and so pretty but so heavy – than face the fear and pain of having to smash through the layers, risking what was at the heart of her being.

Her therapist nods and understands.  She says okay, maybe not today then.  Maybe one day, but not today.

If a newborn baby doesn’t see light within the first six weeks, it will go blind and remain so for the rest of its life.

 

 

Painting: “Himaya” oil painting (2013) by Marie Joe

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