There are so many great fathers in my life; my teacher, my brother, my brother-in-laws, my friends... they are great in their desire to love.
It is my hope that each day I will pause for a moment and think kindly of all of them, after all, I am so very fortunate to have them in my life.
I leafed through the pages of the women's magazine while I waited for my appointment. A side article about resiliency caught my eye and I quickly read through the story. The gist of it was this... a woman goes on a blind date, has a nice time. On the way home, she is in a terrible car accident and becomes paralyzed, unable to do anything, including talk. Over the months of her recovery, many people, including the young man she was on the date with come and visit her. They just sit and talk to her, read to her. As she goes through the healing process, physically and mentally, she eventually comes to realized that she has come to see that even when she had absolutely nothing to offer, she was loved.
Wow! How may of us truly believe this about ourselves? My hazard at a guess, with a quick look around the world around me, is not very many.
I asked myself that question - Do I believe I am worthy of love even if I have absolutely nothing to offer?
Cultivating Self Worth
1. Self Care
When we value our health and our well being, we give ourselves permission to be worthy. Even if you struggle a little with believing in your own worthiness, take some time to do something for your body or your mind. That might be eating a healthy meal, a massage, a walk in nature, taking a dog for a walk. No competition, no selfies, no box to tick. This is something you do for YOU. Sure maybe you have issues with eating unhealthy and beat yourself up about it most of the time. This time just eat to nourish yourself. And focus on just this time. To make this really about nourishing is the key. It is not doing for the sake of doing, it is an act of self appreciation.
This can be cleaning your home, or your car. Just make sure that when the task is being done, you recognize the effort of doing this for yourself. You want a clean home to be in. You want a clean body, with clean clothes. Cleaning removes the past, the negativity, purifying our senses. Breathe in the smell of cleanliness and the lightness of a more organized space. The beauty of a clean environment. You deserve to be in such a space.
Find some friends, find a friend and play a game. It could be tag, it could be tossing rocks into the ocean, it could be frisbee. Just play. To play allows you to stop taking yourself so seriously. Get out of your mind and into your body. When you reconnect to the physical body, the mind becomes less serious, worried. We laugh and we heal the stress in our body. With less stress, the heart and body relax.
4. Let Go
The whole world and everything that happens in it is not about you. It is about all the multitudes of threads running through it. Often times we believe that we are the centre of the Universe and all that is happening is because of us. But that is not true. All that happens, happens because of the interplay of many karmic seeds. Sure your karmic seeds have something to do with you being in the situation, but lots of others seeds also influence that situation.
5. Be kind
If a friend or your child were to ask you if s/he was worthy of love, I am fairly certain most of us would agree without hesitation that yes, they definitely were. So be your own best friend. Do unto yourself as you would do unto another whom you love.
The room is packed, the MC is encouraging the crowd to make some noise and show their enthusiasm for the competitors as the first two appear, making their way to the routes. Just about all who see me there ask me if I am competing or suggest that I should compete. I am not sure why they believe this. Perhaps because 100 years ago I was a strong climber. But that was a lifetime ago... at least it seems like a lifetime to me.
I encourage and guide the youth I coach, I hug and try to uplift, and celebrate my friends as each competes on these routes.
"I was surprised by how many tears I saw this morning." remarks one fellow coach.
I am not surprised. Competitions are like mini versions of our life which we create and shore up with successes. Not doing well at a competition leaves one feeling like they will not thrive within the community and perhaps will be placed on the lowest rung of value in the eyes of their peers.
Of course, most have not taken the time to consider why they are competing. Most are simply responding to the same question or comment I get as a person within the climbing community... "you should compete."
I am a thinker and I have considered "why I climb" and here is what I know. I enjoy connecting with someone. I enjoy the process of trying to unlock the secret that will enable me to get to the top. I enjoy sharing that discussion and trial and error with someone who like me also wants to grow in their potential. I enjoy the creative process and the focus required to put the pieces together. And I love sharing that with someone who seems as excited about the process as I am.
"You do better on reds than you do on blues. I don't know why you even bother with blues."
"You're right. I don't want blues. I don't feel bad falling off reds."
Yep... mentally I don't push myself on what I think I should do. I do not commit and so, they often become a greater frustration than something harder.
There is an amazing sense of satisfaction when you finally complete that ever sought after ascent. Or there can just be piles upon piles of frustration in the process.
Just as with anything in life.
Spend a little time in the yoga world and it won't be long before you hear, "just surrender and let go."
What the hell? How do you try hard and let go at the same time?
Letting go of things needing to be different RIGHT NOW, is what surrender actually means.. It is a willingness to be happy, content with where you are and the steps you are taking in this moment. It is being happy with all the falling off right now.
For this to work for me, I tell people how many tries I will attempt to climb. I tell people when I will come back. I pay attention to why I fell and focus on choosing the highest probability approach. I ask someone for a power spot. I reverse the move to make sure I know the correct body position. In other words, I do my best to stay focused on the moment and not looking forward to success as much as possible.
FYI, this is what they mean when they say it is a practice. Try it.
She listened as he explained, "I love that my mind has to focus and it is like I leave everything else behind. There is no room for anything else but the route in front of me."
She nodded her head in agreement. "That is why I also love Yoga. When you practice, each posture requires that you pay attention to expansion, creating greater space. Then when you layer attention to breathing in and out at a particular count, the mind becomes very preoccupied with the practice and the concentration draws your energy inward. The final step is to add visualization of the expansion or the internalizing of the energy, the movement. This continuous focus and concentration is where the mind becomes tamed. But the final step is letting go. It is a resting in the quiet nature of mind. In Yoga this happens when you suspend the breath, either after inhale or exhale. In climbing, it is where you stop reacting to the sensory information."
"What do you mean?"
"In climbing for me, when I know the route, I have practiced both physically and mentally and I know exactly what I need to do, I have to give up the urgency to do it. I want to do it, but I have to practice the letting go of the immediacy of the desire. I actually sit and tell people how many tries I will do, when I will return to try again. This allows me to settle the over anxiousness that is so easy for me when it comes to failure. I have to make it okay to fail even when I shouldn't."
That is the zone where all things become possible, both in climbing and Yoga, in life. When we reside in the present moment, that is true freedom.
But first, there must be a willingness to see vulnerability, to be curious, to feel the discomfort of negative feelings and share honestly. Only then can we see strength and courage.
As I stood outside in the dark of the early morning, I contemplated going the few miles to my brothers house to get a key rather than wake my father. I contemplated sitting in my car until he got up which may mean waiting 45 min or more, but I had left the coffee pot on the stove. I was only wearing my shirt, tights and his rubber boots. I asked God why he would put me in this predicament, what on earth was the lesson here?!? I tried all the windows and doors - everything locked. I had this tingling flashback to a night in my youth, trying to sneak in my bedroom window so my parents wouldn't know I was out.
That is when it struck me. Many years beyond my youth and I am still afraid of my father. Afraid to get him out of bed when I made a very human mistake. I was feeling the same tension in my body, the same tension in my mind that I had experienced all those years ago when he would get angry with me.
Despite aging and the dynamic of our relationship changing, my reaction has not changed.
As I sat in my car contemplating whether to get my father out of bed at 7 am to let me in the house, or to wait in my car until he got up, I asked myself do I want to be afraid of my father? Is it still appropriate to be afraid of my father? The answer in this case was no. As my father let me in the house, he was smiling at my mistake and chided me in jest. I was still living with the dad of my youth, not the dad in the present moment. Without this inquiry, I may have missed the person my dad is, and only lived with his past.
What are the habits driving your experience?Just notice and choose rather than being run by habit.
1. Living with a survival mindset, creates limits, not possibility.
As I moved through the small alleyways and along the river Ganges last January, I witnessed hunger, desparation and barely surviving. A young twelve year old boy followed our group for hours trying to sell us souveniers. This would be hhis destiny. Not college or leaving the city of Varanasi where people go to die or to see the sights. The water in the hotel could be used for bathing, but not for brushing teeth and the supply was limited.
I was encouraged to consider, what on earth could I possibly need beyond what I already have.
I had arrived in India thinking my career was not fulfilling enough and I needed a better job. I had arrived dreaming of a better financial future. And yet, here I was able to go to India, able to drink the water from my taps, able to go to a job that is relatively low stress and comfortable. Really, there was nothing I need beyond what I already have.
2. Slow down and embrace all that you have with reverence and gratitude.
As I sat in meditation, reflection and spending time writing through the quiet afternoons at the retreat center in INdia, I noticed just how happy I was. How free I felt. No need to prove, no desire to move from one place to another. No desire to go to the dancing or even the kirtan. I was content to rest, to see the beauty in the simplicity of my surroundings.
3. Life is full of ups and downs and when we block feeling the downs, we block the ups too.
In April I embarked on a cleanse. By day three, I was sitting by my mother's grave, a blubbering mess. My heart was shattered with the losses of the past ten years. The grief I had so carefully held at bay being poured out in a torrent of despair. In the days that followed, I felt lighter than I had in years. My body felt more freedom to move, and my mind felt more clarity.
4. The body is really just a vehicle and requires ongoing, daily maintenance and care to keep it running properly until the inevitable.
I have discovered that I have a strong attachment to my body, or more specifically, my strong, young body. All it took was a passing comment from my physician that went like, "it could be a tumour. We should get you into a specialist," for me to have an unfriendly reminder that this body will not last forever.
5. Confidence is the result of daring to test ones skills. Confidence will be lacking if you wait to be skilled enough before trying.
As I now try to succeed on challenging climbing routes again, I often stop just shy of really trying hard. Fear quietly sits on my shoulder reminding me how old and short I am, how strong and young those I am climbing with are, how bad the fall could be, how stupid I will look if I can't do it. And I never quite try as hard as I know I can. To face the fear and try as hard as I can is the only way to progress, even if it is only in the confidence to try again.
B - Do you respect your own boundaries?
R - Do you do what you say you will do? Are you reliable? Do you deliver on your commitments to yourself?
A - Are you accountable? When you say you will do something, do you do it?
V - To you hold confidences and do you refrain from gossip about others?
I - Do you act with integrity? Are you willing to do the things that are not easy, fast and comfortable?
N - Do you judge yourself? Do you judge others? Do you defend yourself? Yes? Then you judge.
G - Can you offer the most generous understanding of yourself?
~ Brene Brown
If you can, then you trust yourself. It is only through trusting oneself, that one can truly trust others.
When you trust yourself then you know who to trust.