Gaining Peace through the Wisdom of No Arrival

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I have been dealing with minor but fairly uncomfortable and frustrating digestive issues since last summer. If I’m being honest I would say that I have been dealing with minor digestive issues throughout my life. My initial approach to addressing my digestive issues was to struggle against them, to figure out how to fix the problem so that I could move on with my life. I worked with an integrative health coach/nutritionist (who was very helpful), I restricted my diet (no grains, no gluten, no dairy, no alcohol), which in turn restricted my social life. I started to feel like I couldn’t fully live my life until this issue was resolved. I love cooking and trying new restaurants and felt like I wasn’t able to engage in activities that brought me joy. I was doing everything that I could to get rid of the problem (natural methods, western medicine, etc) and it just wasn’t working.

Then around early May I began to accept that my digestive system is working very hard but struggling to digest food in the way I wanted it to. I stopped thinking about my body as a problem and started appreciating it for what it was trying to do. I reflected on the fact that I have had a sensitive stomach since childhood and accepted that I will likely always have a sensitive stomach. I transitioned away from trying to find the solution to my digestive issues and began to move towards figuring out lifestyle habits and types of food that my body prefers. This is my life, this is my body, and I can struggle against it and treat it as a problem or I can continue to practice accepting it and treating it well. I moved away from seeking to arrive at a place where I would not have digestive issues and could eat whatever I want, to accepting that there will be no such arrival. Since making this shift I have felt much more at peace. I have stopped complaining as much about my symptoms or telling people about all of the foods that trigger my symptoms. I have stopped searching for a magic cure. I have accepted that sometimes I’m not going to feel great physically and I know how to take care of my body during those times. I have gotten back to focusing on living my life instead of waiting to live my life once I’ve arrived at a solution to my problems. I still have days when my digestion feels better and days when it feels worse, the biggest change is how at peace I feel with it all; this peace has come through applying the wisdom of no arrival to my life.

Continue reading “Gaining Peace through the Wisdom of No Arrival”

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Being There for Yourself in Times of Pain

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I notice a tightness in my chest and an empty feeling in my abdomen. It’s uncomfortable. I am able to identify these sensations as signaling feelings of sadness and anger for me. I remind myself to accept these feelings as I’ve learned from both professional training and spiritual teachings. I am able to sit with the feeling for a moment or two and then my mind is off and running. Coming up with explanations about why I feel this way. Blaming someone who I think is at fault for me feeling this way. Blaming myself. Thinking of things to help me feel better. Maybe if I listen to a spiritual teaching, eat some chocolate, or drink some wine I’ll fee better. Maybe if I get some reassurance or affirmation, I’ll feel better. This usually continues for a few minutes and then in a moment of space between thoughts I am able to step back and gently remind myself to just feel it. To welcome these painful feelings like a cute puppy and to offer the feelings and myself some comfort. This is hard. I know I’m progressing in this area because my awareness of what is happening has increased. But this awareness has made it easier to see how much my mind tries to help me escape these feelings with strategies that would probably help me to feel good in the moment but ultimately don’t allow me to process and release what I’m experiencing. Continue reading “Being There for Yourself in Times of Pain”

Honking in Traffic: Are You Struggling Against Life?

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There is an elementary school down the street from my office and every afternoon around 3:45pm there is a long line of cars with parents and caregivers waiting to pick up their children from school. At least a couple times a week this line of cars is accompanied by someone who decides to lay on their horn seemingly frustrated with the traffic caused by 5 year olds getting in their parent’s cars to go home. It always feels nonsensical to me. Why would someone honk and get so frustrated if they know this traffic jam happens every day at the same time and if they know the cause of it? Why wouldn’t they take another route to get where they need to go? Or better yet, why don’t they just relax and make their way through the line like everyone else?

It’s easy to judge these drivers who honk their horns loudly in frustration and to get annoyed at the noise pollution they cause as I attempt to provide a calming therapeutic space for my clients and yet as I take some time to reflect and use this as a metaphor I realize that there must be times and places where I do something similar.

I have to ask myself, where do I create unnecessary stress and tension while also disrupting the people around me because I’m resisting what is? Where are the places that I struggle against life when I really need to relax and let life go at it’s own pace? When are the times that I run into the same predictable barriers only to respond with frustration instead of humor and acceptance? I’m going to take some time to think about my answers to these questions with the hope that it will make my life and the lives around me more calm and peaceful. I encourage you to think about where these places are for you. When are you honking your horn during a predictable traffic jam? Where are you struggling against life?

Making Space for Whatever Comes

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Today feels hard. If I’m being honest yesterday and Friday felt kind of tough too. Not overwhelmingly hard but emotionally challenging. I was feeling annoyed and irritable by 10am yesterday and while venting with my co-workers and having a generally good day helped, I still went to bed feeling sad. This morning I awoke noticing that familiar weight and feeling of tightness in my chest, a telltale sign of sadness for me. I’m not sure why I feel sad, maybe it’s my hormones, maybe it’s thinking about the experiences of undocumented immigrants this week that is causing me to feel frustrated, sad, and worried, maybe its the gray and rainy weather we’ve had over the last few days, maybe it’s not getting enough sleep recently. Maybe it’s all of these things. Continue reading “Making Space for Whatever Comes”

You Are Enough

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You are enough. Right now, right in this moment, you are enough. You are worthy of life, of love, of joy. If you never change anything about yourself, you are enough. If you wear your hair natural or straight, if your skin is light or dark, if your clothes are never in style, you are enough. If you are too thin, if you are overweight, if you haven’t lost the baby weight, if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, you are enough. If you didn’t finish school, if you failed in school, if you only got one degree, if you have a few letters behind your name, you are enough. If you lost your job, if you were laid off, if you didn’t make that 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 list, you are enough. If you are living pay check to pay check, if you are struggling to pay your rent, if you moved back home because of debt, you are enough.  If you are single, if your relationship doesn’t work out, if you never get married, if your marriage falls apart, you are enough. If you had children as a teenager, if your kids throw tantrums in public and struggle in school, if you’re struggling to get pregnant, if you can’t have children, if you don’t want children, you are enough. If you’ve never had sex, if you’ve been raped, if you’ve been abused, if you have an STD, you are enough. If you’re questioning your sexual identity, if you’re transitioning, if you’re coming out, you are enough. If you get angry and yell, if you cry, if you shut down, you are enough. If you are estranged from your family, if your family is taking over your life, you are enough. Right now, in this moment, just as you are, you are enough. Continue reading “You Are Enough”

The Gifts of 30: Learning to Love Yourself

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As my 30th year comes to a close, I have been reflecting on why 30 has been my favorite age thus far. The year has certainly included challenges and disappointments but overall I have felt more at home and secure with myself than ever before. After turning 30 last June, I felt a shift from an underlying feeling that I was not good enough or needed to get better in some fundamental way, to believing that I am worthy and good enough just as I am. I settled into myself. I began fully embracing my weird, quirky, silly, generous, anxiety-prone, outspoken self and it feels wonderful. When I was younger I had many personal life goals (e.g. getting married, having kids, etc.) that I wanted to accomplish before turning 30 and they have not happened yet.  I am thankful that I have experienced this level of groundedness and contentment without reaching those goals. It has enabled me to understand that I don’t need to get everything I want in order to be happy. What follows are the key things that have helped me to love myself during my 30th year. Continue reading “The Gifts of 30: Learning to Love Yourself”

4 Healthy Ways to Respond to Emotions

forest-1109180_1920When was the last time you experienced a difficult emotion? Was it a break up? Losing your job or being passed over for a promotion? Your child acting out or being hurt? Learning that a close family member is not well? Whatever caused the emotional difficulty, think about how you responded to this experience. Did you suppress the emotions that arose and try to move forward like nothing was wrong? Did you get overwhelmed by what you were feeling and do something that you regretted later?

With the exception of anger, Black women are often socialized not to express our emotions. Many of us were scolded if we cried or showed that we were upset as children. There may not have been room to express our frustration or disagreements with parents or siblings in a healthy way. As we got older people we dated may have communicated that our emotional responses were not okay. In addition to those experiences, we may have been traumatized by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. All of these things can cause us to have a complicated relationship with our emotions. Continue reading “4 Healthy Ways to Respond to Emotions”