Fall

curl_by_schnitzelyne-d6rz86y

Curling.

An autumn leaf

Turns from cooling sun

Embracing essence

Hopeful of survival

Against seasonal odds

Brace against the embraceable

Contain the essence of self

Protect against harsh influence

Survive beyond thirst

Beyond potential comfort

Cling to breath

And blessing

Survive.

 

Words errant

images stolen from the internet

dance_in_the_shutter_IX_by_mehmeturgut

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The child’s mind; some thoughts on the past

Childhood_Reflection_by_pinkparis1233

My mind to mind, heart to heart, soul to soul conversation with my brother last night brought my firm beliefs about childhood experiences and the past into clear focus. A good friend of mine, who has been a counsellor for many years, often states ‘children are great recorders of information but not good interpreters’. I agree with this wholeheartedly (although, I will note that there are exceptional children that do seem to be great interpreters). While I do not believe in excessive reminiscing of past experiences, particularly in the form of rehashing the past over and over and awakening all the emotion that was felt at that time, I do believe that sometimes we need to assist our ‘childish’ memories to be rewritten with our adult consciousness.

I see life as being like a great tree:

  • The roots being our core beliefs and where we come from
  • The trunk being our growth, time in the world, memories and experiences
  • The branches and leaves our potential future path

We can rewrite what has been carved into our trunk, redirect the sap of memories that flow within us and, if so desired, change the core beliefs that our life is built upon. The past is not static. With a bit of mindfulness we can change our view of past experiences, even great tracts of time, so that we can respond to our present in a more balanced way and flourish.

Can you call to mind moments or situations in your life where you habitually respond with overly strong emotion, almost like a default setting? Or is there a pattern in your relationships that seems to be stuck on repeat? Have you ever wondered why certain words or phrases set you off and later you wonder why that situation blew out of proportion? It is highly likely that you may have an ingrained response linked to childhood experience/s that haven’t been contextualized into an adult perspective. It’s like a trigger that when pressed by particular pattern or similar situation to the past experience we are suddenly, emotionally, 6 years old again, or 12 or 15. Our adult mind, heart, body and soul is hijacked by this youthful version of ourselves. If we can identify the sensation and catch ourselves behaving in this way we can begin to recognise the pattern and instigate change.

As I mentioned I don’t believe that change requires an in-depth revising of the past (this is almost like rehearsing and reinforcing the behaviour). Just noticing what happens at these times is a powerful catalyst. What thought is prevalent? Is it actually relevant in this situation right now? Why do I think/feel/believe this? Try to catch the moment and slow it down, breathe and look at the thoughts that appear foremost in your mind before you say them out loud. Press pause while you breathe and assess the thoughts and emotions arising. If you can, take time out from the situation, write down what you have observed but keep it simple. When we challenge behaviour, or alter a pattern slightly, different neurons spark in the brain, beginning new pathways within our mind and igniting the process of change.

Sometimes we may have a distinct memory that arises in relation to the patterned response but a specific memory is not essential for this simple process to create successful change. The point is to break an association that is no longer serving us. As children we put in place coping mechanisms to deal with that which we do not, or cannot understand at that time. These mechanisms probably served us well when we developed them but as we outgrow them they begin to hinder us without conscious realisation that a patterned response exists.

Take your inner child’s hand and lead them through these situations with calm, care, love and attention. It takes a little time but it is not painful and leads to deeper understanding of the self, greater compassion and empathy as well as richer relationships. I am not saying banish the inner child, the innocence, imagination and wonder of the child-mind is a blessing. I am merely suggesting that there are parts of our mind that could do with a spring clean and a new perspective to improve our lives.

Change is easier than you believe.

 

Image from pinkparis1233 on deviantART

Shine bright like a diamond

“Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves – the way we are – and why we don’t accept others the way they are.” Don Miguel Ruiz

Attaining ‘perfection’ is a perpetual journey. Yet the word perfection is misleading and a potentially devastating trap. The quote ‘Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without’ highlights that there is no perfection without flaw. It suggests reaching for the most magnificent version of our selves while knowing the flaws; the ‘negatives’ help to create this whole version. The concept of perfection can be a falsehood that leads us to constantly feel lacking or not good enough. It potentially denies our core self by seeking to uphold an image of perfection. Whereas attaining holistic balance is a very real and honest process of being, or rather becoming. This describes an active process of growth and attainment where we accept ourselves as we truly are yet seek growth. Our flaws lead us to growth. I see no separation between light and dark, no duality only unity with moments of friction and dissonance providing room for change within our selves.

The first time I read the diamond with a flaw quote I was stumped by it. A humble yet perfect pebble seemed a greater achievement than something ‘grander’ but flawed. I soon found that maintaining perfection was dissatisfying and limiting, I ached for challenge and growth. I was exhausted by the constant effort to avoid my flaws in order to appear the humble perfect pebble; always happy never discontent or hurting. Yet when I embraced my flaws and moved through the discomfort of facing them I became something stronger, more durable, more beautiful and more real. Diamonds are formed through high temperature and massive pressure this process creates the most durable and beautiful gem on the planet*. This process suggests discomfort. Humans tend to shy away from discomfort or suffer through it by rejecting ourselves because we are not perfect, but through accepting ourselves and gracefully working on our flaws we attain love for ourselves not self-inflicted suffering and rejection. Then we become open to the possibility of a greater version of ourselves that can live in the moment, without the devastating and painful voice of the inner critic shaming us, and shine bright like a diamond.

* India is the place where they were first thought to be mined perhaps 6000 years ago and they were revered as religious icons.