For almost a decade now, I have had the honor of working with students and clients in the field at Entrada. First as a field staff and now as the Health and Wellness Coordinator. For a decade I have witnessed a phenomenon that always gives me great hope in the face of even the direst of cases. Compassion. Even more importantly… self-compassion.
Viewing entries tagged with 'mindfulness'
So much of my suffering in relation to my son—and probably with most everything else for that matter—is my desire for things to be different than they actually are—a seemingly plain and simple truth. If only I could settle into what is actually occurring. Like when it rains, and I desire the sun to be out, I perpetuate the desire for the sun to be shining by choosing to feel agitated about the rain. So, instead of simply saying to myself, today looks like it’s going to be dark and rainy, I suppose instead of hiking I will get on the treadmill,” I become agitated and disappointed, which only perpetuates my suffering. I’m purposely using this scenario of the weather to demonstrate what happens in my mind when I’m caught in the cycle of wanting things—things I cannot change or control—to be different than they are. The arena where this is most profound is motherhood.
It's a Wednesday afternoon and I'm already late to our weekly yoga class. Much like other people, I have tried to fit too many things into a short amount of time. After hosting a staff breakfast at my house I had decided to schedule a pest control appointment during a 10 minute window, I only sort of had, before I needed to head to yoga. You can imagine my added stress and frustration when the employee arrived late to my house. I hustled him as quickly as I could and rushed over to participate in yoga. We provide this class for our employees every Wednesday as an opportunity for them to engage in their own practice of health and wellness and bring that back into the field. After struggling to find where I needed to be, I wandered into class late and was warmly welcomed by our Health and Wellness Coordinator, Elise Mitchell, who has a phenomenal ability to incorporate inconveniences and distractions into her yoga and mindfulness classes.
Winter weather, changing seasons, holidays, politics… what doesn’t create flux and a little chaos in our lives right now? It’s important to remember, whatever is cluttering our minds presently can also have an effect on our bodies. The gastrointestinal tract is especially susceptible to our stress levels and actually plays a role in our mental health.
I am often asked about how one can get adolescent boys to buy into yoga. Good question. First, regardless if it’s yoga or if it’s adolescent boys specifically, the answer is the same: Meet them where they are.
It was just over five years ago when I attended the personal growth workshop that would change and shape my life going forward. For me, it was a crossroads in an inescapable torrent of anxiety and confusion. For others in attendance, it was time to refuel and reassess the direction in their lives. We all came together with the belief that we had work to do. I came to it after many years of outpatient work with a gifted therapist, while others came as an initial foray into their own personal work. In either case, what was promised was, “You will get out of it exactly what you need.”
The first thing I know about encouraging gratitude in others is don’t tell them to feel grateful; encourage them to feel everything. Gratitude, for it to be deep and consistent in our lives, comes from a sense of wholeness. When we learn to feel everything, we are more likely to recognize the feelings of gratitude. As we more fully hold our pain, sadness and hurt, we will also come to see their connection to love and joy. That is, our pain and hurt are evidence of our capacity for connection and love. Holding our pain and hurt with gentleness and awareness, we will begin to connect it to the things in our lives we most value. Instead, we often try to block out or “escape” our pain and in doing so we limit our capacity to feel joy and love.
Mandala, [muhn-dl-uh], noun
There exists a perpetual tug-o-war amongst our clients’ perceptions of The Oasis. There are those who love the extra creature comforts like hot showers, less hiking, time to practice yoga or cooking. Contrarily, there are those who detest “sitting around” and would much prefer doing over being any day. Even staff, especially during the first few months of operating the Oasis, asked why we’ve created it and is it necessary.
The more I witness the subtle and profound shifts in clients after a gratitude practice, the more curious I am about what “the experts” know regarding gratitude’s effect on our overall mental, emotional, physical health. There’s some exciting notions creeping into the scientific community regarding this topic!