April

Relationships: Showers & Flowers

THEME: Throughout our daily lives, we’re faced with situations that tap into our sense of vulnerability. Depending on our mental state, and the nature of the situation, we may be completely incapable of handling this in a way that serves us. This month, we focus on using those emotional showers to reap future flowers.

 
Image by  Brocken Inaglory , 2011

Image by Brocken Inaglory, 2011

 

CHECK-IN: How have you been practicing? How often? How has it helped? What stops you? Where can you insert more practice throughout the day?

I want to share a great trailer of a movie created about the mindfulness movement in the Bay Area. It’s called “May I Be Happy.” Check it out, then Check-In. Video

MINDFUL PRACTICE: Heavy or Light Body

Perception is our reality. Here is a way to demonstrate how much we are in control of how we feel. Use this to stabilize when you feel too erratic or to energize when you feel dulled. (This can be done sitting or lying down).

  • Settle in. Take a few deep breaths to release tension.

  • Close your eyes.

  • We will start with “heavy.”

  • Imagine your body from the inside out.

  • Make sure you are sensing your entire body from head to fingertips to toes.

  • Feel every place that is touching a chair or the floor.

  • Imagine you are a sculpture made of marble.

  • Feel the weight and stability of your entire body.

  • Rest in this solid, grounded position.

  • (Let a few minutes go by)

  • Now, we are going to become very “light.”

  • Slowly, imagine that your body is no longer marble. Instead, it is filled with feathers.

  • Visualize the release of gravity as if you are barely touching the earth.

  • Everything inside you is light and floaty.

  • You may even imagine rays of light beaming out from your body.

  • Feel the light emanating from your head, your torso, your legs...radiating out.

  • (Let a few minutes go by)

  • Let’s come back to our bodies as they are. Take a few deep breaths. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Slowly open your eyes.

SHARE: What did you notice? What thoughts came? Anything to share?

We can make our reality stormy or full of glory. Ife Bell, coordinator of the Girls to Women program in Cincinnati Public Schools recently noted, "We often speak our outside feelings instead of recognizing our inside feelings,” Bell said. When we say, “I’m mad,” underneath is disappointment, fear, hurt, or other emotions that if conveyed, could be a possible next step to resolution. She found many younger girls can't articulate the result they hope for when describing a conflict. They go straight to reaction mode that often escalates the drama.

Women tend to reject action and go silent rather than facing conflict. (It's too much to tackle, so forget it.) The silent treatment, or attempts to avoid a person, can be stressful if this person is family or friend (work conflict may require HR or a mediator). To address the problem, ask yourself, "What do I need?" How can you make a connection with that person, showing some vulnerability, diffusing shame or fear? Approach with curiosity - ask questions to understand the other person's perspective and motives. Be as objective and authentic as possible. Try to find compassion for the situation. If all attempts fail, let it go. Don't relive it with others or spend time rehashing old events. Take back the power of your emotional state, wish the other person well, and know you are worthy of moving forward.

JOURNAL: How do you typically respond to conflict? Do you attack or retreat? Think of a stormy situation you've experienced. Explain the scenario briefly, then describe your outward emotion/reaction versus your inner feelings. How did it hit your vulnerability chord? Were there assumptions? Did you take something personally? Are you able to forgive?

SHARE: Feel free to share what you gained from this journal exercise. What did you learn about yourself regarding this situation?

CLOSING: You may never forget what went down, but can you find a way to forgive? This is the hardest part. Listen to this amazing podcast on Forgiveness by Oren Jay Sofer.

Watch Brene Brown's Ted Talk on courage and vulnerability - the keys to connection.