“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” “Put on your oxygen mask first.” Phrases like these suggest an overly simplistic and logical approach to navigating what might be a stressful holiday season in our lives, but as the readers of this publication are well aware, there is a difference between the cognitive understanding of something and the embodied experience of it.
To start, I think it’s useful to understand what compassion is and what it is not. My working definition of compassion represents tender, empathic, and caring sentiments. It involves loving feelings that emerge when an injury (physical, emotional, or spiritual) is recognized and nurtured. Compassion is bringing a concerned, reinforcing spirit in the presence of wounding.
Matthew Appleton in conversation with Emma PalmerThe 8th and 9th of June 2019 will see the hosting of a fascinating two-day conference here in Bristol in England. The Human Baby, Human Being: Contributions from the emerging field of pre and perinatal psychology conference is being organised by Conscious Embodiment Training and ehealth Learning. An important aim of this landmark event is to bring together professionals interested in the long-term effects of prenatal and birth experiences.
Worry can plague you. It digs and jabs, disrupts and jumbles: your sense of serenity dislodged. According to Rick Hanson, PhD, anxiety—a form of worry—allowed our ancestors to survive. Being able to sense danger, to determine if it was safe to approach, to avoid or move on allowed our ancestors to see another day. But when we focus on the bad, the good gets left behind. Luckily our brain can be trained . . .
One of the top complaints I hear from people who come into my office is “I’m stuck.” What they are saying without realizing it is that they’re stuck in repeating scenes with repetitive themes in their lives, either with the same or different people, over and over again.
Where do you feel like a captive of your world? is it that you cannot quit your job? your relationship? your way of being with your parents? Your health? Where does it feel like you have no power? Where do you feel like you can change everything else about your life, but this one thing and you’re stuck with it?
Living in a world of uncertainty, a world filled with violence and struggle, natural and human-made disasters, it can be easy to feel a sense of overwhelm and anger or perhaps a sense of collapse and helplessness in the face of such adversity. While some may set their feelings aside, maybe runaway by numbing out with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc., others may feel an intensity, a rage that compels them to fight against whoever or whatever stands in their way. Others may simply put their head in the proverbial sand or hang limp as if playing possum and yield to the dangers around them.
Writing this post, I sense my heart is open, my soul calm, my spirit fulfilled, my being immersed in the gratitude for all that is here and now, in this moment, and for all who have given and continue to give their life, their liberty, their freedom to protect all of us, all over the world.
I find it simply amazing how much we can build tolerance to being with the discomfort of our emotions and challenging/confronting our belief systems. Sure, the beginning is the hardest. It can even feel like you will die if you go there. That’s the young terrified child in you that used their mind to separate from the pain in the first place. Now as an adult, or even a teenager, you have the capacity to take care of those parts. It’s like the first time you go to a gym. If you’ve never been before, the machines are daunting, and the weights don’t mean anything because you don’t know what you can do.
I have been with my partner for a few years and have grown to feel comfortable and welcome within the family. Until one morning that is, when I saw they had made plans for a family outing without including me in the decision-making process. No one asked for my opinion, my insights, my thoughts, nothing. I felt ignored, shut out, rejected. I felt like an outcast. These feelings, based on how I interpreted their actions, shocked my system. I doubted myself and how I experienced my relationships with these individuals. I tried to figure out why. I wondered, was I enough as a person to deserve feeling accepted by them in the past or was I wrong assuming they liked me and that I was accepted by them. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t have a chance to fully process my experience in the moment. I had to pause to deal with other interactions happening around me. I managed to push the feelings of rejection down to look at later. Still in a bit of shock, I directed my attention to other things. Then, as life happens, I got distracted. I went about my day wondering why I felt cranky. There was no cheering myself up nor figuring out why I felt out of sorts; the reasons escaped me though the feelings entrapped me. I had pushed that painful moment down so far, I forgot about my pain. Yet I was cranky enough that even though my mind had dismissed the precipitating event, my body clung to the results. I wanted to be cheerful but there was no way to free myself from this cranky fog.