The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

Experiencing Self-Compassion Directly

“I feel jealous!”

(Try just feeling jealous, then.)

“I feel angry.”

(What happens if you just feel angry?)

“I feel so sad!”

(Go ahead and feel so sad.)

“I am elated!”

(Experience elated directly. Feel it from within!)

“I don’t feel anything.”

(How does that feel? Take a moment to experience it as it is.)

“I feel in love and it scares me.”

(Feel it all. Tell it out loud, too.)

“But I feel so ashamed.”

(What does ashamed feel like? What if you turn right toward it instead of away?)

“Mmmmm, I feel compassion for myself.”

(Rest there, dear heart. Rest there.)

Image source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/importance-of-self-compassion.html

Image source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/importance-of-self-compassion.html

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Free Exactly Like This!

The grass ain’t greener
The wine ain’t sweeter
Either side of the hill
– Robert Hunter

I cannot possibly be any other way than how I am. Thank goodness! More and more I notice when the subtle movement of comparison is arising. I should be more like her. I want to be more like him. Something in me is recognizing the impossibility of that — and again: thank goodness! Even in little ways, there is nothing to change! In fact, best to rest.

As the juice I’m drinking couldn’t be any other color of orange mixed with red mixed with green, and the air being moved by the fan and touching my shoulders couldn’t be moving in any other way.

In Living Inquiries we begin to recognize the comings and goings, and in that, we also see their spontaneous innocence. Empty of meaning, sensations arise and pass away. Empty of inherent meaning, thoughts — like internal sounds — come and go, leaving no trace once they’ve passed. And even the idea that there is an “internal” where the sound is happening is questioned and such barriers relax.

Who would have thought that I could be free to be really scared or disgruntled or even happy? Who would have thought that all emotions, all habits, all thoughts even are so okay that they’re beyond okay?!!?

Even to make an error cannot possibly an error! If we really look, where is the error? Is it in the sound “eh-ror”? Is it in the letters E-R-R-OR? Is the feeling in our gut the error? Is the visual image announcing itself as wrong? What about the thought that says, “But it IS wrong?” If you take those letters and look at them, one at a time, which one is the error?

So even if a thought of envy comes and a feeling comes with it, those can come and go — especially when met directly, like we acknowledge our neighbors as we see them coming and going from the house. I can see a thought I want to be like her and find no meaning in it. If it seems to have meaning, there’s simply a feeling and perhaps an image arising with it. But none of that is me! Or you might even say, the whole entire thing is me. Every single thing I can sense. The shapes and the colors and the sounds and the spaces and all of the sensations and the total emptiness of it all when you drop the words and see what it’s like. Right now.

I have found it impossible to live into being like anyone else — thank goodness — and it makes me so happy.

Free-to-be-girl

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For more on the Living Inquiries, visit http://www.thetherapybooth.com/living-inquiries/.

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What if I don’t offer you anything?

water hands

What if I don’t offer you anything? Really. What if, when you come to me with a problem, I offer no solutions? What if I meet with you for an hour or so and you pour your heart out to me and tell me every thought, every feeling, every fear, and I give you nothing? Will you still make another appointment? Will you have gained something?

In Living Inquiries, I really have nothing to give you. If anything, I might take away from you, but not really. Whatever I take from you, I don’t keep, though sometimes I might ask you to let me have it so that I may set it down. Let all of those words come through, and let’s just set them down to the side for a moment and stay with the sensation. I might say something like that. But do you even get to keep that sensation? Can you make anything stay?

If I’ve done my job right, we both leave empty handed.

A friend asked me tonight what kind of concrete actions come from inquiring like this, and I replied that I don’t know. It’s different for everyone, just depending on how life unfolds. In inquiry, we sort of get out of our own way. The actions happen — or don’t — but we’re not scrambling and stumbling over thoughts and feelings and memories and anticipations in order to scrape our way there. The actions either happen, or they don’t.

Do I give you power? Do I give you charm? Do I give you a better way of looking at yourself? Do you walk away from inquiry sessions with more insights and explanations?

I hope not.

I really want to leave you empty-handed. Where no way of labeling or categorizing will stick. Where no self, nor compulsive command nor threat can be found. Where all that remains is all that remains. Where even these words don’t make any sense, and they don’t need to.

Looking in this way is not what you think. It’s not even what I think.

I can throw out lots of words to try to explain it, but the fact is, I can’t. Each moment, each experience is unique to the one looking. What’s happened before is irrelevant. What will happen after is too. And, we’ll come to find, even the bits that are coming through right now are not who you are. There’s no one here to hold it together. (On the bright side, there’s no one here to come apart, either.)

Words like gentle, compassionate and safe come up for me when describing these inquiries. But in the end, even those words can only point. Come stand over here beside me, and let’s look, together.

Is there anything there?

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Learn more about the Living Inquiries as developed by Scott Kiloby by visiting http://www.thetherapybooth.com/living-inquiries/ . Write to thetherapybooth@gmail.com to schedule a session.

For an upcoming group course, visit http://www.thetherapybooth.com/deepening-courses/.

Visit the Living Inquiries Facebook page for a community of folks looking in this way. Ask questions, hang out and watch for a while, or dive right in. The water’s fine.

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Free Expression, Part 2: The Witness Mudra

witness text

I got a text message from a friend today that said she was “caught in the swirl.” She said, “I need to relax.”

I replied asking if I could help. I said I had a Ph.D. in resting. “Dr. Carina,” I said, tongue in cheek, but anyway . . .

After sending that message, I recalled a few days ago (the day I wrote my last post here, in fact) when I’d messaged the same friend with the words Having kind of a sad and scared morning. I could use a big purging cry. Needed to tell someone other than myself.

My friend’s reply that day?

/m\ <3 x 100

I’ll provide the glossary for that first symbol in a moment (the one followed by the heart x 100), but first, I’ll share what I was present to as my friend’s text came through today. I felt the lack of being caught in a swirl, an emptiness and openness from which I could confidently ask my friend if I could help. I also noticed a little thought along the lines of Wow, I was going through such things a few days ago, and she heard all about it; would she feel I could be of use at all?

It’s as if there’s an idea that going-through-it (whatever that even means, and what I’m sure is unfindable if brought into the light of direct looking) is something that sticks around. That it means something about me or anyone else. That it stays with us, when, as evidenced by this morning’s feelings, it does not, in fact, stay. Nothing does. Hesitant to give lip service, I will say from experience: nothing but nothing sticks. From the most intense to the most gentle, from the deepest delight to the wildest fears, no thought, image or feeling stays. And once it’s gone, it doesn’t leave a trace.

And one thing I’ve found to be so supportive and generous during any and all times is the symbol my friend typed to me (and that I’d love to see go viral): /m\.

I call it the Witness Mudra, taken from the image of the Buddha with one hand folded in his lap and the other across his knee, touching the earth. (Although the other day a friend told me she’s pretty sure that’s also the fist bump icon, but I’ll have to check with President Obama to confirm that. I say it works as both.)

The Witness Mudra, when shared this way, is a powerful and supportive tool. It gives us the chance to listen to our people, to empathize, to witness, without attempting to solve or change or contradict or point out opposites or anything else. It gives us, as the witness, a chance to see that there isn’t a problem in what’s coming across. That it’s life expressing itself and it can be felt and heard and allowed to be. And on its way it will go. Like everything else.

For those of us venting or unloading or outpouring,  a Witness Mudra can be a relief. It’s an acknowledgment of being heard and comforted, exactly as the moment is appearing, alive in its mystery and innocence. At the same time, it’s a beacon of impermanence: all appearances are allowed to be, in that they are all known to be transient. Both as the ones expressing and the ones listening, we can rest.

I’m so passionate about this topic, I could go on and on, but for now I’ll just leave you with this invitation. Join with us in witnessing for one another and in holding that space where everything comes — and goes — and is compassionately and comfortingly seen. We can rest together in all of our states and reactions and keep quiet, trusting that each being is moving through whatever it is beautifully.

This isn’t to say that a word or two of encouragement isn’t appreciated from time to time. But perhaps there’s something to be said for not saying anything, too.

With love and exploration,

Carina

witness mudrea

 

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