Day 65: anger and compassion

I had a charged conversation with someone recently, and it got me thinking how to reach for compassion if you’re feeling angry and upset and feel justified in your position.

I was pretty upset for a few hours after this conversation. It was only after a good night’s sleep, only the next morning, that I wanted to reach for a softening within me about the whole situation. 

I was glad I had had the conversation. I could have said things in a better way but. . . it was a boundary that I had to make clear to the other person.

When I say boundary, I’m thinking of this article that I had loved during my compassion challenge week:

I love love love this:

The Brené Brown method of boundary setting is called BIG. BIG stands for Boundaries, Integrity, and Generosity. Put simply, how can you set boundaries in your life that help you stay in your integrity while remaining generous towards others?

I urge you to read the whole article from “The Compassion Smackdown” onwards if this caught your attention.

I’ve never been someone who’s had a problem with boundaries. But with this person, because of the nature of our work together, I’ve always seen it as a more transactional relationship. It was only when my husband pointed out that if I can look for meaningful conversations and moments with strangers, I should certainly think about bringing that intentionality here, with this person, with whom I spend some degree of time together on a regular basis, that I went OH. It sounds completely bonkers to me in hindsight that I didn’t think of meaning and value in the context of this specific relationship as well (there have always been acts of kindness in this relationship but they have felt transactional, not from the heart), but. . . it is what it is. Till it isn’t and it becomes something else, and hopefully, something more.

Back to my charged conversation: the realization that I would have had the conversation, no matter what was immensely helpful.

However, that entrenchment in I was right in what I was saying was deep and refused to shift and encompass a bigger, softer standpoint. Till I had had a good night’s sleep. Till about 17-18 hours had passed since the conversation.

It was only then that I . . . that the desire to shift this within myself was truly born. And with it a desire to see what was at the basis of my outburst. More important than anything perhaps was a willingness to sit with the tangle of emotions that I had felt during the incident and also as I thought about it.

I still felt right, but my rightness didn’t feel rigid. It wanted to be generous. It could make space for the other person’s story, their reasoning. 

I breathed deep into my root chakra, and I felt, as I always do, this sense of stability, this sense of groundedness. It occurred to me that this is the energy I wanted the space between me and the other person to be full of. A sense of stability and groundedness. A shared healing space which could hold both our stories together. Where perhaps I can be right but that rightness can see that other person as well.

Day 64: Picture Books

I just spent a very enjoyable hour going down the picture books rabbit-hole. I was looking for some books to gift to N’s friends, and oh it was so much fun looking for the right book for each child.

I love children’s books. Middle-Grade, and YA are two of my favorite genres. With N, I’ve discovered and deep dived into a whole world of picture books.

Picutre books are plain out fun.

They are funny.

They are wildly imaginative.

They are full of wonder.

They are gorgeous.

They teach.

They touch the heart.

They are laugh out loud funny.

They softly tell you about a place far away (or one very near).

They delight.

They’re the best.

Books are the best. Picture books? Might be the bestest of them all.

P.S. On that note, I was DELIGHTED to find Kate Dicamillo on On Being of all places!

P.P.S. I love this blog for all things children-book.

Day 63: to see me in you, and you in me

I really enjoyed the compassion challenge (you can read more about it here and here). I’d been trying to get my head around kindness and compassion for a while and this wonderful course/challenge has helped me see a few things.

I’ve come to realize that just like with anything else, the state of being from which I approach my act of kindness matters. Is there a desire to genuinely connect and honor the person in front of me? Even if it is a simple hi and thank you to the doorman, can I put my full self and joy into it for that moment? 

I’ve come to realize that for those moments when kindness feels difficult, my work is to come back to myself, to drop my awareness into my own internal dialogue and see what is there inside me: discomfort, vulnerability, fear? Can I sit with that feeling and see what arises?

And last but not the least, I have come to realize that even if I do not share anything other than space with another soul, my internal dialogue about that person is the first step towards a compassionate state of being. Am I leaping to judge them, deriding them for doing something or not doing something I would do or not do? Why? What is the feeling underneath that stance of judgement? Because there’s always a soft emotion underneath that hard veneer. Once I can connect with that feeling, it’s easier for me to recognize the common humanity that we share. 

For example, a few days ago, I was using the public transportation, and a woman wasn’t wearing her mask (masks on public transports are still required in my city). My internal monologue switched on, derision, and just this tangle of emotions. Suddenly, my eyes fell on what looked like a big lunch box. And just like that, the thought came to: I wonder if she cooked it herself. I wonder if her mom did it for her. Does she have a partner, children? I wonder what’s in her lunch box. And as I started thinking these things, the knot subsided. I felt. . . I felt just, peaceful is the word that comes to me.

Seeing you in me, and seeing me in you, is an intention and a desire that has been birthed in me as result of this week.

Day 62: A song yet again!

I will come again and write more
Of the things I am learning.

But today, today, is about the song of the things around me.

The glorious red peonies on the table and the joy they radiate, even as they shed their leaves. Their shed leaves now float in a bowl of water, continuing to impart beauty, albeit differently than when they were on top of the stalk, but oh beautiful they still are!

A conversation. A 15 minute conversation about pain, about the messaging around that pain as communicated by a doctor/caregiver to the person in pain. About the ways of being a healer, and how to embody that alignment and compassion as you hold the healing space for another.

Today is also my son’s PJ day at school! His and his friends’ excitement!

Today is also the day I heard him singing his ‘graduation day’ song for the last day of their pre-school! My heart, be still my heart! To hear him singing in tune, with joy, and enjoyment. My heart sighs in contentment.

I had a long conversation with my brother. About this and that. I love the way we are nurturing this relationship, watering it with authenticity, with laughter, and with meaning.

My hubs. Have I told you about my dearest partner in this lifetime? It’s just fun to be with him.

And today we are contemplating a picnic on the wall. Yup, you heard it right, on a sidewalk, with broad walls meant for sitting, as requested by Mr. N! It is either that or a singing circle we often go to in summers. There is homemade pizza with sourdough fermented crust, and the last of the ramps on top with a generous amount of cheese and the first of the summer tomatoes!

Isn’t life beautiful?

What about you? Tell me what’s up with you. What is lighting you up today? What did you enjoy these past few days? What are you looking forward to? I would love to know!

Day 61: discomfort and comfort

Today’s post is inspired, once again, by the compassion journey. . . here’s day 1 if you’re interested.

For day 2 we were invited to reach out to someone if possible, and see what arose.

As I’ve mentioned here, my mom and brother are going through some truly difficult and at times traumatic situation right now. . . I am very close to them and talk to my mom regularly. With my brother, it’s not that frequent. It’s more of an effort.

I decided to call him today and while talking with him, as before, there came moments when I wanted to disconnect, and go back to the routine of my day which were more soothing. It was during one of these moments that it came to me: OH. THAT’S IT. THAT is the reason why I feel hesitant to call my brother sometimes. Because of that feeling of discomfort that arises as we talk about these difficult topics which leave me feeling helpless and sad. Or because of those moments of silence when we THINK we don’t have anything to say to each other. (Side note: it’s the same with my mom but somehow . . . over the years, we’ve built conversational tracks that allow us to deal with things like these together. With my brother there’s been more of a distance on topics which bring up so much dis-ease and dis-comfort).

That recognition, realization was/is important to me. As soon as I could cognize the reason for the hesitancy, it felt like a more tractable problem. I decided to just sit with the discomfort. I decided to just sit through the moments of silence in the conversation, and oh . . . oh, we ended up laughing over some things which filled us both up. It came to me, that this is the tenor of our conversation—laughter, and then topics which bring up discomfort for me, and then something lighthearted again perhaps. . . and perhaps, that’s the medicine for both of us, for now.

I loved this.

I also loved the two videos I came across because of the course: one was on pain: And the other is Dr. Rick Hanson whose work I’m already familiar with:

Both are interesting but the one with Dr. Hanson truly spoke to me. He talks about how to hardwire your brain for happiness. It isn’t stuff I’m unfamiliar with. It isn’t stuff I haven’t practised in some form or the other. But oh, to hear him speak in this talk, it was exactly the thing I needed to hear in this now.

The base of his practise is exactly what Abraham-Hicks talk about when they say to “milk the moment.” To see it being backed up by folks like Dr. Hanson just gives me the most wonderful goosebumps. 

The practise is essentially this: when you experience happiness, pleasure, satisfaction, contentment, do not brush past it. Stay there. 

For example, if you’re reading this, close your eyes, and go back to something that brings you comfort, that soothes. Bring it to your mind. Dwell there for a few seconds. Linger. Allow those feelings to travel all through your body. Allow them to settle into your body. Savor them. . . . and that’s it!! That. IS. IT.

You won’t wake up with a different brain overnight. But a consistent moment by moment practise through this day, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next will simply train your brain and make this as your more likely natural go-to response. Isn’t this wonderful?

This is a very abbreviated version of what Dr. Hanson talks about and if you’re intrigued, I highly recommend you watch the 13-minute video. And then get one of his books too!

I have known about his “linking” teaching as well, which uses the “neurons that fire together, wire together” fundamental but it is only now that I am getting it. (linking is bringing the warmth and essence of a positive experience to your body as you think of a negative one to shift that energy associated with the negative experience in your body: again, please go through the video/read his book to get a better understanding. I could very well be butchering something here!)

I hadn’t been able to do this partly because I hadn’t figured out how to deal with the uncomfortable feelings which arise when I try to think of the negative (for linking it to the positive). I think it is only recently, that I’ve been truly practising and beginning to get the hang of simply being with the discomfort without it overtaking me. But now that I am beginning to get a handle on it, I am eager and curious to infuse the goodness into whatever negative arises as I think about it.

The other thing I finally got as I saw Dr. Hanson’s video was this: how do you embody a feeling versus just thinking about it? Say, I want to do 10 breaths of loving-kindness. How do I move from my brain to a space of feeling? Dr. Hanson’s video really helped with that: simply dwell in that experience/remembrance-of-experience that invokes that feeling for a bit longer. Allow it to move from your brain to your skin and to your body. Linger there, and as you do, it will start moving from the cerebral to the visceral.

I am enjoying this challenge. I am glad I followed the impulse to sign up for it! I hope you get to follow one of your impulses today! Go with it and see where it leads! And then come back, and share, if you so feel like!