One of my favorite self-care authors is Stephen Cope. All of his books are so easy to understand. I recently was re-reading “The Great Work of Your Life” – and the opening chapters really spoke to me. About how many as they get older get concerned that they’ve lived too safe a life – that they have not risked enough to find their true calling.
Stephen talks about those that bring forth what is within them. Those that leap out of bed in the morning to embrace the day. People with their “soul awake.” He carefully distinguishes that those who are on their path because of what they are doing. That it’s not all about simply “being” – a common refrain in the mindfulness community. He outlines how many of us are paralyzed by doubt, by inaction. And that our true calling often is right before our eyes, that we just haven’t taken the time to recognize it, to name it. The denial of dharma.
This is all covered just by the book’s introduction & first chapter. Stephen does a great job of weaving in anecdotes of folks he has met at his Institute at Kripalu – and the teachings of Krishna & Arjuno from the “Bhagavad Gita”…
This one might seem a little silly. But maybe it’s okay if it is? It’s essentially talking to yourself. Except you’re not doing it out loud. It was surprising, but this mental exercise truly does work for me.
Fortunately, this can be short & sweet. And whatever you need it to be. It could be a pep talk. It could be words of self-compassion. Maybe it’s simply acknowledgment that you exist. This exercise should shut down your monkey mind & get yourself in a positive frame of mind. You can win an extra bonus if you talk to your “future self” in addition to the “now you.” Or even better, the future you can talk to the present self.
Here’s an example of how this would look: First you sit comfortably, closing your eyes and just breathing for a minute. Then start this type of thought process – “Hi Broc. I see you. You’re doing good. Feeling confident & calm. Feeling so relaxed now. I love you Broc.” Now you switch over to future self – six months in the future – talking to the present you: “I’m so proud of you Broc. For the past six months, you’ve accomplished so much. You’re remained calm when you needed to be. You handled that situation beautifully. You’re just a wonderful person.” Yep, I know it sounds crazy. But maybe give it a go and see how you feel…
Like all of Jonathan Foust’s dharma talks, you can take away some real practice pointers about how to approach your life. This talk entitled “Your Next Step” is full of them. Here are a few to consider:
– Jonathan talks about someone who works in hospice & how many people on their deathbed discuss their regrets. The hospice worker’s motto becomes “your path is what you can’t not do.” Meaning that you have the freedom to do whatever you want essentially unless you have a financial or physical restraint. Be open-minded to what draws you.
– He discusses Jordan Peele making the film “Get Out” – and how decisions were made based on the principle of “follow the fun.” I love that – follow the fun!
– A lot of talk about the “pathless path.” Finding your path is your path. Be a light unto yourself (you need to be happy, healthy in order to best be of service to others). All you need is right now – living in the moment. The last 11 minutes of the dharma talk are variations on that theme…
In this podcast about “not knowing as a spiritual practice,” Jonathan Foust explains how questioning beliefs can be powerful. That “not knowing” can be a good thing. Is something that appears to be good news really good news from a long-term perspective? Or is it bad news? Who knows in the long run.
Jonathan explains how questioning a long-held belief about yourself is a “glimpse” practice. Just a short window, a brief sense, that what you think is true might actually not be true can create a shift. An awakening that one of your foundational beliefs perhaps is not true. That might well allow anxiety to dissipate. You might realize that a long-held belief has been living on the inside in a way that is harmful to you.
That when you tell yourself that familiar story, you’re able to recognize the story for what it is. “Wait a minute, I’ve encountered this story before – but I now see that I don’t have to believe. That I don’t need to preserve the notion that ‘I’m right.’” Powerful indeed.
Jonathan parses the four questions that you might consider asking yourself – these are questions that Byron Katie espouses – as a way to heal:
Start with bringing up – dwelling upon – something that you’re believing, a story that you’ve been telling yourself. In other words, think of something that you’ve been complaining about in your mind. Notice how crystalline you can you make that belief. Now ponder these 4 questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Do you absolutely know it to be true? You’re looking for the crack in the wall.
3. How do you react when you believe in that thought? How does it feel like on the inside? How does your nervous system hold it? Where do you feel it? This is a somatic inquiry. What “emotional” word comes to mind when you think of that belief? Consider how old that belief feels. Can you hold that in tenderness? How does it want you to be with it right now?
4. Who are you without that belief? Often, you might get a “feeling free” sense – this is the shift…