It’s Not Quite a Horoscope…

…but it feels equally as generic, in concept. And yet…

I stumbled across another blog ages ago – so long ago that I cannot even remember which site it was – that talked about a book she called very “woo woo,” as in, New Agey and maybe even sprinkled with some Hocus Pocus. But the blogger also mentioned that she was shocked at how relevant the book seemed to be, pinpointing things in her life that were accurate.

My library had it, so I figured I might as well check it out. And so I got the ebook version of Dan Millman’s The Life You Were Born to Live: a Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose. The concept is that, based solely on your birth date, you can determine what your biggest challenges in life are, your strengths, weaknesses, relationship highs and lows, and potential. Millman then provides some pages on helping you work through your challenges and weaknesses (based, of course, just on your birthday.)

I decide to read the book all the way through, even the sections that are not “relevant” to my birth date, to see if it all seems to be partially true – as often horoscopes will be so absurdly generic that they could fit anyone. And yes, to an extent, I read a lot of sections and a handful of things jump out as, “sure, that could maybe be me.”

But then I reach the section that is for me, and I nearly cry at the idea that, ‘someone gets me!” Oh the truths that were spoken to me!  Perhaps I am unique in the coincidence of my chapter resonating so strongly with me, but it is rather odd.

And, per my “life path,” one of my big struggles is in expressing myself. Millman suggest journaling as one possible method for releasing the pent up thoughts and emotions. Since it has been two years since I last wrote here, I thought this may be an opportune time to revisit my old site, and type with some free flow about the book, as I re-read it.

I was going to transcribe the parts from the book that resonated with me and jumped out, but there are just too many!  I will instead just focus on one: honest communication.

Millman talks about how people “working the 3 path” (meaning, based on the calculations of the birth date, one of the numbers you get is 3, and thus a part of your path is work on Sensitivity and Expression) may have under- or over-expressive issues before they find balance. I know for most of my life, I was a doormat. I wouldn’t speak up for myself, I would just bottle things up and burn with inner anger and fire. It would inevitably come out later at the wrong time, to the wrong person. I was often very volatile  with my family.  Over the years, I have come to realize that I can’t keep it in — but the pendulum has actually made a grand sweep the other way, and too far. I try to keep quiet or think of good ways to bring up issues, but I am finding more and more that tact is lacking, and I just blurt out whatever is “wrong” in my view, with what someone is doing. It is not a low-blow attack, no name calling or insults, but an absolutely blunt “here’s what you’re doing that I find annoying, now stop it” with seemingly no compassion, nor acknowledgement that whatever the person was doing may have been done with good intentions.

This is my current hurdle. To find a way to balance being open and honest in my communication, with honoring the other person and being kind and gracious.

Find Your Port

Feeling very lost today.  I suppose it could easily be blamed on the hormones, poor sleep, and bad foods from last night causing me to feel bloated and gross.  But I have been fighting this depression for the last month, without understanding its source.

A quote today I came across:

If we do not know what port we’re steering for, no wind is favorable. –Seneca

I have been trying to be open to the universe, let life guide me.  Prior to that, I tried to dictate every aspect of my life, figure out a plan, and fight for a future.  Neither option seems to be fulfilling lately.  Both leave me feeling just as lost and pathless as the other.  And unhappy.

How do you find your port in the middle of the raging waters?

Are You Fighting Your Rip Tide?

You’re out at the beach, spending the day in the sun.  Warm sand beneath your toes, the gentle keel of seagulls punctuates the rhythmic, hypnotic roll of the waves.  You slip into the cool water, swim out from shore, and float, buoyant on the water.  When it comes.  You drift into a  sharp current of water, and suddenly are being propelled out deeper and deeper.  Panicked, you start to fight the water pressure, swim back to shore.  Stroke after stroke, your arms and legs flail to get back to the sandy oasis.  You begin to make progress, when another wave of water knocks you back again, at speeds of 1-8 feet per SECOND.  On and on you fight, coughing, gagging on the salt water, and feeling fatigue leaden your arms.

Thankfully, you will eventually hit the end of the current – but it may be MILES OUT by that time, and you’ve exhausted yourself fighting this inevitable propulsion.

Instead of fighting the rushing tide, though, you can shift your direction, change your focus.  Shift 90 degrees, and swim out of the rip tide, parallel to the shore.  This will bring you back to calmer waters, and then you can return to shore.  Or just stop fighting, let the rip tide carry you to its end, and then easily make the parallel move till you can return to the beach.

This is so much like life when trying to reach a new career or life goal.  We are bombarded with things we feel we “must” do.  We must work, we must clean, we must check email, we must keep up on newsletters and current events, we must keep in touch with friends on Facebook, we must join a book club or learn an instrument… but can we stop some of those things?  Can we shift our focus away from that flood, and minimize it?

Do you want to lose weight, but want a plan, and then end up spending day after day gathering recipes, plotting your workout schedule, and making motivational signs for your room?  Or do you actually get to it and work?  I don’t mean some general planning, but I mean Over-planning to the point it is becoming procrastination and an excuse to not get to business.

I have been collecting newsletters and career tips for ages, diligently saving them in Gmail under their appropriate folders.  Sugar, Political food debates, cancer, etc.  I swear that I’ll need them again, and that they’ll be important resources when I “someday” get to having my own practice.  And one morning, after taking 4 hours to try to catch up on new listserve messages to see which would be important to save for “someday,” I realized that I was fighting my own rip tide.  If I flood myself with current news and recent research on every topic out there, I will never have more than snippets of knowledge of them all.  I need to shift my focus.  Do I want to write a thorough article on “Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells?”? Then I need to stop reading all the other topics, delete them (I can always research sources another day when immediately useful!) and just figure out what I want to do.

Stop fighting the flow of life, and either swim away from things that tire you out, or just ride it out until you are ready to come back to sandy shores, your foundation of a happy life.

By findingsilverlinings Posted in Musings

My New Attempted Approach to Life and Health

I, like many women (and a growing number of men) have spent the better part of my life being stressed (and obsessed) about my weight.  And the whole time I struggle, I try to tell myself “the number, the scale, the pant size is not what’s important – it’s the heart of me, what I do, who I touch.”  Some days, I am able to convince myself that that is true – but so many days, that voice is drowned out by the superficial voice that condemns me to a spiral of self destruction, loathing, and hate.

I have spent the better part of the last two years trying to get myself up at 4:30am so I have time to do an intense 1-hour workout, be it power yoga, P90X, Insanity Asylum, or some other program.  In the evenings, I taught power yoga, I joined judo, and I began hiking.  And I have made countless weekly plans, reward schemes, attempts to bribe myself to stick to my healthy behaviors.

And the result is that I am still 15-20 lbs heavier (mostly from fat, maybe a few pounds of extra muscle) than where I was when I was first motivated to begin these programs.  I have dabbled with local eating, with clean eating, with vegetarian and veganism, and did a stint with Paleo.  The problem was, no matter the benefits, I was unable to stick to it.  My body clings to homeostasis like dew to the morning grass.  I may make it a week or two – sometimes even four – see the scale start to edge down a few pounds… and then it all crumbles, and I have this magical vacuum of a stomach that demands to consume every last calorie that had been withheld from it – usually in the form of pizza, ice cream, and candy bars.

I get mad at myself, make more plans, research new recipes, make new pacts, and try again.

Month after month, year after year.

And then I descend into the pit of, “am I really going to spend my whole life constantly thinking about this?  Worrying about it?”  I don’t know how to be comfortable in my own skin.  To be confident in public.  To not constantly compare my body to others’.

And those are probably deeper rooted issues, than merely weight.  Perhaps my obsession with my weight is a distraction.  An illusion.  A tangible object upon which my subconscious has displaced its issues.  There clearly is a tie between food and my emotions.  I eat when tired; I eat when depressed; I eat when stressed.  I crave food when I’m having fun at a movie theater; I want treats if I’m having a tv binge night with my husband; gaming is not the same without “fun foods” near the computer.

So instead of focusing on the surface views of calories, nutrients, an exercise, I want to include more work on my inner self.  Clearly, something hasn’t been working.  I have been “trying to lose a few pounds” since 2001.  And I have managed to do nothing but gain.  It is time to try a vastly different approach.

I need to turn inward, and find out what else could fulfill me.  What else will make me feel whole, not alone, not lacking?  Many turn to faith.  I have tried that path before, too.  Over 18 years of trying to connect with the Bible.  And that also left me more wounded and exhausted in the end.  But, as I considered in a previous entry, the Westernized version of the Bible didn’t make sense to me.  But a more abstract concept of it did.

I began to read the lessons from the Self Realization Fellowship, and while some of it made me skeptical – and it’s okay to be skeptical! – a lot of it just resonated, sounded right.  And they are all about meditation, contemplation, and trying to align yourself with a higher being – whatever you want to call him/her/it.

Perhaps it is time for me to give meditation a true chance; a genuine attempt.  To commit to SRF’s 19 week beginning series.  And while I do that, I have also started to read The Yoga Sutras on swamij.com, and considering them in more detail than the skimming I did before yoga school.  It has some interesting points as well, and incorporates meditation.

While I still want to exercise – as it’s good for my health and stress levels – I don’t want that to be the 100% focus.  I need to find a new balance.

Time to break the eating insanity, and find the deeper meaning and causes.

By findingsilverlinings Posted in Musings

Mindfulness Exercise

Buddhism and Modern Psych Week 2: Mindfulness Meditation and the Brain

In preparation for meditation, the teacher first talks about being mindful — our brains often wander off to random topics.  We all do this.  While involved in one task, you’re thinking about others.  He says that, anecdotally and scientifically, meditation helps to calm and quiet those extraneous thoughts.  The first step, as in the first step to realizing dukkha, is simply to realize this is happening.

The Challenge:

Walk down the street, and see what you normally pay attention to.  Then mindfully pull your attention from that, and see what you’ve been ignoring.  Other people, the sky, billboards, building materials of the structures?  If you usually are focused on the crowded path, the smelly odors, or the trash on the sidewalk, can you instead look at the expansive sky, notice a happy baby, feel compassion for a downtrodden pedestrian?

This is not directly quieting your mind, as you are still in fact observing life around you.  But it helps you to be aware, and helps retrain your mind to new areas.

I always saw my tile counter top as “ugly grey,” but when he said to notice more, I mindfully looked a little deeper, (since I had my computer on the tile while washing dishes as a chore of love!), and I realized they are an intricate pepper-speckling of white and black dots along with various shades of grey (not the steamy book!) There is no solid background color, it’s a detailed pointillism of color!  While I still don’t like it in my kitchen, I feel I at least have a bit more appreciation for the confetti-like speckles of the tile.  Perhaps I can train myself to think “fiesta!!  Party!” every time I see them 🙂

What other things could I notice in a new light?