THE STILLNESS IN THE CHAOS -Jeff Foster

THE STILLNESS IN THE CHAOS

Your legs ache. You’ve been on your feet all day. You’re in a long line waiting for the ticket machine. They’ve just announced your train is delayed.

You feel the frustration mounting. Impatience, annoyance, aggression.

Suddenly you remember, you are breathing. And it is Now. And you feel your tired feet rather than thinking about them. You give them a little attention, which is love. And you feel the frustration in your chest and belly rather than trying to delete these innocent sensations.

And you feel the weight of your body, the way it gently rests in gravity, supported by the sacred earth. And you feel your belly expand, slowly, rising on the in-breath. Falling on the exhale. And all the sounds around you are now innocent; you are a soft microphone. And the thoughts whirring around in your head, they are just little birds, singing their songs, flapping away. And it’s all ok. It’s all ok. It’s all present. It’s all ok.

And you find gratitude again. You are alive, you have been given a day. A day to live. A day to breathe, and taste human experience, taste the joy and sorrow of it, the bliss and the boredom, the frustration and the rush and the whirr of it, the silliness and the crash and the pull and the chaos of it.

You are already surrendered. And you find yourself on the train home, trusting some unfathomably ancient schedule.

– Jeff Foster

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“Weak men make us nervous. Gentle men make us calm.” -Marianne Williamson

“Usually, when we think of power, we think of external power. And we think of powerful people as those who have made it in the world. A powerful woman isn’t necessarily someone who has money, but we think of her as someone with a boldness or a spark that makes her manifest in a dramatic way. When we think of a powerful man, we think of his ability to manifest abundance, usually money, in the world.

Most people say that a powerful woman does best with a powerful man, that she needs someone who understands the bigness of her situation, a man who can meet her at the same or even greater level of power in the world.

Now this is true, if power is defined as material abundance. A woman often faces cultural prejudice when she makes more money than a man, as does he. A woman who defines power by worldly standards can rarely feel totally relaxed in the arms of a man who doesn’t have it.

If power is seen as an internal matter, then the situation changes drastically. Internal power has less to do with money and worldly position, and more to do than with emotional expansiveness, spirituality and conscious living…

I used to think I needed a powerful man, someone who could protect me from the harshness and evils of the world. What I have come to realize is that…the powerful man I was looking for would be foremost, someone who supported me in keeping myself on track spiritually, and in so maintaining clarity within myself, that life would present fewer problems. When it did get rough, he would help me forgive.

I no longer wanted somebody who would say to me, “Don’t worry honey, if they’re mean to you I’ll beat them up or buy them out.” Instead, I want someone who prays and meditates with me regularly so that fewer monsters from the outer world disturb me, and who when they do, helps me look within my own consciousness for answers, instead of looking to false power to combat false power.

There’s a big difference between a gentle man and a weak man. Weak men make us nervous. Gentle men make us calm.”
― Marianne Williamson

Living With The Wound -Mark Nepo

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‘There is a need to be specific
if we are to survive,
which requires being honest,
the way seeing requires
the eyes to stay open.

It means I can tell you
when you hurt me
and still count on your love.

It means being honest
with myself, knowing
the ugly things are not
always someone else’s.

I’ve been thinking how
practical people cut the cord
to those who’ve broken hope,
the way breeders shoot horses
with broken legs, as if
there’s nothing to be done.

Now I know they do this
for themselves, not wanting
to care for a horse that cannot run,
not wanting to sit with a friend
who can’t find tomorrow, not wanting
to be saddled with anything
that will slow them down.

I used to think it bad timing.
When I was up, you were down.
When you were ready,
I was scared. But since
we’ve never given up on each other,
it’s clear that drinking wonder
when we’re sad is how we shed
the things we love about pain.

I have a right to joy
even when lonely,
even when in pain,
and you never need
to cover your wounds
when entering my house.

If your voice breaks, I’ll be a cup.
If your heart sweats, I’ll be a pillow
on which you’ll chance to dream
that weeping is singing
through an instrument
that’s hard to reach,
though it lands us like lightning
in the grasp of each other
where giving is a mirror
of all we cannot teach.’

 

-Mark Nepo

Emotional Intelligence: Mindful Parenting

 

 

 

 

This two-minute video is everything I aspire to be as a parent. If you haven’t already seen it, it’s a powerful video secretly recorded by a wife of her husband as he mindfully speaks to their daughter who is clearly very upset. It’s a great example of how we can help instill emotional intelligence into our children. When we respect and acknowledge our children’s emotions, we give them the tools to mindfully process and manage them more effectively. Little wonder it went viral.

I so admire how calm, compassionate and understanding the father is to his child’s feelings. He is talking to her but he is also mindfully listening to and respecting her feelings. He’s teaching her to acknowledge emotions rather than trying to hide or chase them away, observe them, label them if you like, and then try to let them go. As he explains, holding onto them for too long is when you find yourself in trouble.

It’s brilliant and such a tangible example of mindfulness. The video was posted on the Facebook page Love What Matters. You can go here and read the story in its entirety. Teachablemoment

I’ve already started teaching emotional intelligence to my two-year-old and it’s been interesting to see her positive reaction to it. Even at two years of age she finds comfort in being told that she’s allowed to have her current mood or feelings and that I will give her a safe place to have these feelings as well as strategies for moving past them.

Last night for example, she yelled at me and got in my face because I wouldn’t get on the floor and color-in with her. In my defense, I was 90% completed on another task and I really needed to get it done. And I’m also not going to simply give into a two-year old’s demands. I did however go down to her level, wipe her runny nose and tell her that I understood that she is angry with me and feeling disappointed. I explained that she’s allowed to feel that and that I still love her and if she wants a hug she can come and get one if and when she’s ready. She sat with arms folded and head down, eyes on the floor. I then moved away and let her be and within a minute she came over, hugged my arm and said “I love you mummy”. It was really beautiful. I validated her feelings, gave her space to feel it, and helped her release it. And when I had finished by task, I did get on the floor and draw with her. It ended well for all.

 

 

Go With the Flow

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“Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. the world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.”
― Marianne Williamson

Healing, a non-linear journey

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“Embracing the paradox that we simultaneously are and are not our story is precisely what enables us to keep writing new ones. My story about the abuse I experienced at the hands of my father will always be a part of me, but it no longer defines me. Of course, I sometimes spiral back into trauma; unlike the self-help pundits who say it’s possible to simply let go of the old hurts by cleansing them with a dose of love and light. I know that even as the impact fades, this experience is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.

That said, healing is not a linear journey. Old trauma is wrapped up in the fabric of the new stories I’ve created for myself, and the resulting pattern is not nice and clean and neat. In fact, the deeper we all go, the messier and more chaotic it will get. It is the contrasting loops of darkness and light, life and death, defeat and triumph, that make the human story such a compelling and gorgeous one…”

-Kelly McNelis

(~an excerpt from ‘Women for One’ founder Kelly McNelis’s new book, ‘Your Messy Brilliance’)

A PRAYER FOR THE LIVING -Jeff Foster

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A PRAYER FOR THE LIVING
Life,
Break in me whatever needs to be broken.
Fix my hope of ever being fixed.
Use me. Draw every ounce of creativity out of me. Help me live a radically unique life, forever forging a never-before-trodden path in the forest.
Show me how to love more deeply than I ever thought possible.
Whatever I am still turning away from, keep shoving in my face.
Whatever I am still at war with, help me soften towards, relax into, fully embrace.
Where my heart is still closed, show me a way to open it without violence.
Where I am still holding on, help me let go.
Give me challenges and struggles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, if that will bring an even deeper humility and trust in the intelligence of life.
Help me laugh at my own seriousness.
Allow me to find the humour in the dark places.
Show me a profound sense of rest in the midst of the storm.
Don’t spare me from the truth. Ever.
Let gratitude be my guide.
Let forgiveness be my mantra.
Let this moment be a constant companion.
Let me see your face in every face.
Let me feel your warm presence in my own presence.
Hold me when I stumble.
Breathe me when I cannot breathe.
Let me die living, not live dying.
Amen.
Jeff Foster

The Beauty of No -Jeff Foster

 

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THE BEAUTY OF A ‘NO’

“On the Tree of Life
there are two birds, fast friends.
One bird eats the fruit of the Tree; 
the other bird, not eating,
watches…”
– The Rig Veda

It is good to stay open to feedback from others, to listen to those who disagree with you. To remain open to alternative viewpoints. To try seeing things through someone else’s eyes, even if you don’t agree with their perspective or conclusion in the end.

But when they cross a line and move from intelligent disagreement and constructive feedback to attack and insult, when they belittle and shame you and remain unwilling to meet, to engage and talk things through, that is something very different indeed.

Of course, you could argue that their behaviour is ‘allowed’, since it is an expression life too. Of course it is. But at the same time, your ‘no’ is also an expression of life! Your boundaries are also completely sacred!

Standing in your power, speaking up for your truth, honouring your feelings and needs – this is also a movement of the Divine.

A clear and direct ‘no’ to abuse, to name-calling and objectification, is not weakness but the ultimate courageous act of self-love. The ‘no’ honours life deeply. It has no venom in it – it is quite compassionate in its essence. It does not shame the other but informs them. It does not attack but protects. It is fire but it does not throw stones.

To the one receiving the ‘no’, it may not feel like compassion! It may feel like rejection and abandonment. It may feel like the opposite of love. It may itself feel like abuse. But perhaps, with time and deep reflection, one day they will understand. Who knows.

We can only speak our truth Now, hopefully in as compassionate a way as possible, and move on. And trust the process. And breathe through our feelings. And remain open to the other’s tender heart, whilst protecting our precious, vulnerable human selves.

Sometimes a ‘no’ is really a great big YES to life!

– Jeff Foster

The Universe of Us

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‘She has been feeling it for awhile – that sense of awaking. There is a gentle rage simmering inside her, and it is getting stronger by the day. She will hold it close to her – she will nurture it and let it grow. She won’t let anyone take it away from her. It is her rocket fuel and finally, she is going places. She can feel it down to her very core – this is her time. She will not only climb mountains – she will move them too.’

Lang Leav, The Universe of Us

Unglove Yourself

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“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”

― Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have