Self-Care is Detective Work

October 12, 2017

Self-care isn't always straight forward. Good self-care requires detective work sometimes. Plus get your free intuition worksheet here! >> www.christytending.com

I refer to self-care as a practice a lot.  What I mean by this is that it is not finite. It doesn’t really end. We simply refine it over time. We hone it.

I could also call it a dance or an experiment.

Really, self-care is all of those things.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about self-care as detective work.

Except, rather than trying to solve a case, we are sleuthing around our own healing.

We collect evidence. We interview witnesses. Out of endless data and what may, at times, feel like chaos, we work to make sense of things.

Like detectives, we ignore nothing. There is no piece of information too trivial. Eventually, patterns emerge. Sometimes, we hit dead ends. Other times, we discover an uncomfortable truth.

Self-care is really the act of becoming more and more familiar with ourselves.

Like detectives, we ask the tough questions. We examine every angle. We pursue our quest for justice and healing relentlessly.

Which means that self-care isn’t all sunshine, all the time. It means tracking it into the shadows, into dark alleyways.

The aim is not always to feel good but to come face to face with our being.

This takes courageous detective work. Not to find the easy answers, but to reveal the truth: of what it means to be ourselves, of what it means to be human, of what healing and self-care look like for each of us.

This detective work is specific: it’s never about generalities, but instead the tiny details and idiosynchrasies of our particular case. Self-care is just this: becoming fascinated in examining our lives and selves so that we can move toward lightness and well-being.

This is why one-size-fits-all self-care doesn’t work.

When we become detectives, we learn quickly:

When I eat this, I feel this way. I like this type of movement, but not that type. I need this many hours of sleep and this kind of free time. My batteries feel recharged when I do a particular set of activities.

These are the people who lift me up. My soul is happy when I am in this special place. And so on.

We ask: “What would feel good right now?” and follow the trail, like any good detective would.

It’s why our intuition is essential to self-care.

A good detective might just go down a laundry list and call it a day.

Great detectives follow their instincts, even when they seem zany. They collect the details that others gloss over. They use all of their senses.

It becomes an intuitive process, rather than something rote or by the book. They use every tool at their disposal, including all ways of knowing into solving the case.

If you’re looking to amplify your self-care, begin here: with your intuition and commit yourself to this kind of detective work.

Free resources to amplify your intuition:

Intuition audio meditation

Intuition worksheet

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Stop Second-Guessing Yourself

October 10, 2017

Get your free intuition audio meditation right here!

You can stop second-guessing yourself and (instead) follow your wise intuition. Learn how. Plus get your free intuition audio meditation here! >> www.christytending.com

There are few moments of regret in my life. I aim to move from mistake to learning to forgiveness with ease. The regrets that do remain, however, have one thing in common.

WIthout exception, the moments I wish I could do over are the moments when I acted against my intuition. I shushed my inner voice. I ignored the small “uh-oh” or “yes” in favor of what I felt I “should” do instead.

I’ve let peer pressure get the better of me.

I’ve let looks good on paper override ​feels good in my body​… with results that were less than stellar.

I’ve learned a few key lessons that help to ground me in my own inner wisdom and keep me from second-guessing myself. It’s easy to get stuck in your own head, especially when making a big choice.

Play with some of these practices if you find yourself at a crossroads or to bring yourself back into alignment with your truth.

 

Intuition is a practice.

Start with small decisions. We can build the muscle of our intuition. Begin by making small decisions: what to have for lunch, what song to play for your solo dance-party, the route to take home from work.

Over time, these experiences will give you the confidence to make bigger decisions with clarity.

Try it on.

When deciding between two options, try each one on. Like you’d try on clothes in a fitting room, put on each decision (energetically) and give it a whirl.

Feel and imagine what making each decision would be like. This information may cast light on an otherwise murky choice.

Without judgment, imagine yourself having made one decision or another. What is it like? Which feels more resonant? Wear each decision lightly until you’ve had the chance to make sure it fits.

You’re not always going to get it right.

​No matter what, you will make mistakes. That’s part of being human. There’s a myth about intuition that it’s either right all the time or that it’s entirely BS.

Grant yourself (and your intuitive decision-making) the permission to screw up from time to time. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, just that you’re human. Which is totally cool.

Perfectionism will stand in the way of intuition, if you let it. The need to be right isn’t serving you, and will actually keep you playing small in order to avoid risk. Sometimes, you need to take a chance, even if it doesn’t work out.

You can’t demand right-ness from your intuition all the time. You can only offer it trust.

Not every decision needs to be an agonizing one.

As I mention above, you won’t always get it right. In certain moments, you just need to make a decision (any decision will do!) so that you can move on.

Don’t over-think it. Not every move need a pro/con list or a spreadsheet.

Again, aim for it to be light. Allow yourself to be in the flow of your life. Offer yourself the mercy of simply moving forward, regardless of whether you’ve analyzed the idea to pieces.

Some decisions take more juice than others. Don’t sweat the ones that don’t need sweating, so that you have more energy and space for the ones that do.

It can be simpler and easier than you think.

You don’t always need to pick the hard way. You can choose the path of least resistance sometimes. There are moments when the choice is crystal clear and you don’t need to bog yourself down with more information.

You can choose to let it be easy. You can choose to let it be simple.

Simple and easy are not always born from apathy or resignation. At times, they are a gift to ourselves: for life to be uncomplicated and liberated.

 

Related:

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Simple Self-Care Recipe Formula (mix ‘n match guide + free download)

October 9, 2017

For me, food is a huge part of self-care. Part creativity, part nourishment, part intuition. Over the years, I’ve experimented with a lot of ways of eating. What I’ve discovered is that my intuition is often my best guide for how my body wants to eat. This is the formula I’ve developed for meals supports that intuitive spark and feeds me and my family well.

For me, food is a huge part of self-care. Part creativity, part nourishment, part intuition. Over the years, I've experimented with a lot of ways of eating. What I've discovered is that my intuition is often my best guide for how my body wants to eat. Read my self-care recipe guide and download the free recipe pdf! >> www.christytending.com

Below, I’ve written out my guide for the go-to meal in the Tending household. We make up these nourishing bowls with what we have lying around. Less food is wasted, and we always have dinner ready to go. The bowls can be customized to any cuisine or palate, and can even be cobbled together from past leftovers!.

I make the grain in a rice cooker and often chop vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge.

HOW IT WORKS:

Simply mix and match from the categories on the next page to suit your mood. I’ve give you categories of food you may want to include in your meal. Pick one or more from each category to create delicious, simple, and nourishing meals.

This approach makes healthy dinners totally feasible. The choices here are just a start — get creative and do what is right for your body’s needs. This is a jumping off point.

May your meals be feasible, nourishing, and inspired.

Mix and Match Recipe Guide:

PROTEIN:

choose from:

  • baked tofu or tempeh
  • garbanzo or black beans
  • lentils (either dal or cooked French lentils)
  • sprouted almonds
  • hardboiled, poached or scrambled egg

GRAIN:

choose from:

  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • steel-cut oats (savory oatmeal is delicious!)
  • amaranth
  • farro
  • roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or delicata squash (not grain, but carbohydrates)

GREENS:

choose from:

  • sautéed kale, collard greens or swiss chard
  • steamed broccoli or asparagus
  • sugar snap peas
  • arugula or spinach
  • nori strips

FAT:

choose from:

  • avocado
  • ghee
  • plain yogurt
  • sesame or coconut oil

FLAVORFUL EXTRAS:

choose any of the following for added texture and flavor:

  • carrots (cut into matchsticks)
  • chopped red pepper
  • sliced green apple
  • sauerkraut or kimchee
  • cherry tomatoes
  • sriracha or other hot sauce
  • tahini
  • sunflower or hemp seeds

Finally:

I always finish my bowls with a sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt and a huge splash of miso dressing, made from equal parts lemon (or grapefruit) juice, olive oil, and yellow (or white) miso; mix by shaking in a small lidded jar or whisking vigorously.

Combine all of these into your favorite bowl, and enjoy with glee.

*Before we get started, I’d like to note that I’m not a nutritionist. This works for me. I hope it’ll work for you. This is not, however, to be taken for medical advice.

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Becoming Your Own Expert

October 6, 2017

Get your free intuition worksheet right here!

You do not need to rely on outside experts. You are already the expert in yourself. Use that expertise to cultivate empowered, intuitive self-care. Plus get your free intuition worksheet here! >> www.christytending.com

Scene:

I’m standing at the front of a class full of students, teaching yoga: something I did several times a week between 2008 and 2013. I’ve given the students a choice of three variations on a single pose.

One of my regular students, a woman I’ll call S., raises her hand to ask a question. “Which variation should I do?” she asks.

I reply: “I don’t know.”

For some teachers, this is a danger zone. Not knowing. Not being able to give a student an answer. Having to admit that we’re in the dark. For me, this not-knowing in front of my class feels what I’d describe as, “pleasant neutral.”

When I tell her I don’t know, S. knows what I mean. She smiles, nods and returns to her practice, choosing one of the poses. And this is success for me, as a teacher.

I don’t have all the answers.

I hope you know that. But more than that, I hope you know why.

It’s not that I am keeping these answers a secret. Instead, I choose to believe–and ground my teaching from this understanding–that I am not the expert in you.

I can offer several choices. I can ask insightful questions. Or point out patterns that I observe. I will sit with you while you discover the answers or the solution for yourself. These types of support I freely offer.

But ultimately…

You are the expert in yourself.

This expertise still takes work. It takes trial and error. It takes experimentation. You (as much as I) need to be willing to make mistakes and to be wrong sometimes.

But ultimately, you are the expert in yourself.

Only you know what it truly is to live in your body, to have your mind, to experience your emotions, and to be your spirit.

I can be a guide. I am happy to point the way or to share bits of wisdom that I’ve gathered along the way. What I teach is a combination of my training, what’s worked for me in the past, and what I’ve seen work for others.

Only you can truly know what you need in a moment.

Because only you are your particular expression of the universe in this time and place. Only you carry your memories and experiences and culture. Only you have your particular hopes and dreams and sorrows and challenges.

Each one of us is unique.

This means that our work is not to get it right, but to become scholars of ourselves.

It can be a lifelong process, but it is a gift to do that work: to become expert in who we are and what we need. To have visceral understanding of what feels good and rightful.

 

Related:

You are wise.

Free intuition worksheet

My new course, Your Magical Intuition, opens for registration on October 24th. Make sure you’re on the list to get all the details!

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You are Wise and Trustworthy

October 4, 2017

Download your free intuition worksheet to begin mapping your inner knowing!

You are wise. Learn to listen to and believe your intelligent intuition. Plus get your free intuition worksheet here! >> www.christytending.com

 

“How do you know?”

I get this question a lot. From clients, from students, from my own family. They want to know how I know my intuition is steering me in the right direction. Really, they want to know how I have as much faith in the unseen magic of my inner knowing as I do in my direct experience. 

How do you know what you know in your heart to be true?

How do you know what your body needs? Or even: how do you know that the thing you want to do next is the best course of action?

How do you know that you’re not just following some illusory woo-woo feeling and calling it intuition?

How do you know that what you feel is really, actually real?

What I really want to tell you is that there have been times when I have felt self-doubt approximately one thousand times a day.

It is vulnerable.

There have been days when I have felt uneasy in my body, my thoughts running away with me. Those are days when it has all felt like trial and error, with no easy answers.

I can’t say that I never feel self-doubt anymore. I do. Of course. I’m human.

But now, those moments of self-doubt are my most potent invitation to practice.

How deeply can I love and accept myself there?

In that space of not-knowing, I get quiet. I breathe into it, willingly feeling my body. The quiet is intimate; and what it reveals is our personal magic: our intuition, a knowing beyond direct experience.

In that quiet, I can see my mind and my emotional body and my energy and my body–all of my parts–laid out before me. Or gathered around a table: a banquet with the dearest of friends.

And these friends have something important to tell me. They whisper it in a small, but serious voice. “This. Trust this.”

Perhaps someone told you when you were small that this small, wise inner voice couldn’t be trusted.

Aside from being a total jerk, that person was wrong.

Each of us has a well of deep inner knowing that we can choose to access at any moment. We simply need to get quiet and to listen. And then, the most magical part of all: we need to trust ourselves.

Our intuition is a real, magical being. We need to learn to let it thrive by listening closely and then trusting the answers that come.

Yes, we will make mistakes. Yes, we will falter or second-guess ourselves sometimes. But that’s okay. It is all a process, as ever.

Really, what I really want you to know is you are worthy of your own trust.

You are wise and powerful. You are an expert in your own experience. And I invite you to believe in yourself, even when it feels terribly vulnerable.

 

Related:

Free Downloads:

Download your free intuition worksheet right here.

Download your free intuition audio meditation right here.

Organized under Intuition. none

What does your intuition say? The 4 Layers of Intuition

October 2, 2017

Get your free intuitive audio meditation right here!

What does your intuition say? Stop second-guessing yourself and tap into your inner wisdom with the four layers of knowing. Plus get your free audio meditation here! >> www.christytending.com

You know that you are wise beyond measure. You know that you are an expert in your own self.

But how do we truly cultivate our intuition? How do we amplify its voice so that it can be heard? How can we learn to truly trust ourselves and what we know to be true?

The first step is learning to listen.

We do this by examining each layer of our intuition. We peel back each layer, turning it over until we can translate what we experience into what we know and understand.

There are, in part, based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, a concept from Buddhist meditation, adapted and re-ordered as they apply to our intuition. In the Sattipathana, these foundations of mindfulness are: contemplation of the body, contemplation of feeling, contemplation of consciousness, and contemplation of mental objects.

In my experience, the four layers of intuition are:

  1. The body + breath

  2. The mind

  3. The heart + emotion

  4. The spirit + energy

The body + breath

The body holds deep wisdom. It’s where we store our memories and experiences. It’s where we remember love and trauma, both. Through the body, we can access great wisdom and insight about ourselves that we might otherwise have missed.

On a neurological level, our body is supporting us in every moment with quick-fire opinions about, well, everything. It protects us by giving us what we call a “gut reaction”. It is how we decide whether something is safe.

The body offers us flight, fight, freeze, and appease – before we even know that we need one of those responses. When beginning to investigate your intuition, begin in the body and the breath. Ask them what they know to be true. Greet them as wise friends.

The mind

Much like the body, we remember more than we think we do. We store factoids and memories away only to surprise ourselves, years later, with an amazing recall of song lyrics, names, and state capitals (for example).

The brain is so powerful. Our minds can know the answer before the question is finished. It can sense what the next words out of someone’s mouth will be. The brain can (through our vision or hearing) pick up on the tiniest details and immediately suss out imperceptible changes.

Why? Because we observe much more than we think we do. We pick up on these tiny details and translate them into knowing, all in the fraction of a second.

And the mind? It helps us filter the bullshit, all day long. While we might long for things to be a different way, our minds can give us the real scoop.

The heart + emotion

There is a complicated narrative when it comes to the heart.

Our emotions are often painted as unreliable, volatile, and changeable.

Or we’re told to “follow our hearts” with no other reliable map or guide suggested.

While our hearts make mistakes (and we shouldn’t only follow our emotions when trying to find our truth or make a decision), our emotions–our hearts–can provide a lot of valuable intelligence.

Take, for instance, trying to decide whether to take a new job, where to go on vacation, or how to proceed in a relationship. If you discard or discount the heart’s knowing, you could end up someplace you don’t want to be. (Maybe literally!) Instead, check in and notice the emotion that comes up when you pretend to decide one way or another.

If you feel disappointment when you think about moving into that apartment or staying in that relationship, then even if it looks good on paper, it may be time to make a different decision. Likewise, it may seem improbable, but if it lights you up or gives you that good-nervous feeling, it may be something to chase.

The spirit + energy

Finally, your spirit and energy.

Have you ever walked into a room and known that something was amiss? Seen a stranger and not been able to figure out why you feel uncomfortable? Felt sad for no reason?

We use the phrases “good/bad vibes” or “good/bad juju” to describe the experience.

Or maybe you’re a nerd like me and call it a “disturbance in the force.”

There is no outward reason we should feel any shift, but we do. It can happen in an instant, and it is unmistakable when it does.

This is your spirit or energy. Maybe you call it lifeforce or qi. But it is as real as your physical body, and it too, has messages for you. It can instantly sense when things are out of alignment or when there is something that does not belong to you or for you.

This may be the most difficult of the layers to experience because it can feel emphemeral. But it is as real and wise as any of the other layers.

There is no perfect wisdom.

Your intuition will make mistakes. But they are your mistakes to explore, and ultimately, your wisdom to cultivate and explore. Sometimes, it’s better to rely on your own knowing than someone else’s “perfect” prescription.

 

Want to dive deeper into your intuition?

Grab your free audio mediation right here!

Organized under Intuition. none

Japanese Forest Bathing

September 27, 2017

I made you a new (totally free) class! Grab your seat here.

Feeling burned out? Looking for a great self-care practice? Try Japanese Forest Bathing. Plus sign up for the free self-care course here! >> www.christytending.com

I spent some time in Japan this past summer to mark my husband’s grandmother’s one hundredth birthday (and to introduce the new baby!). While there, we spent a bit of time in Tokyo, before heading to Kyushu.

Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite self-care practices: Japanese forest bathing.

One of my favorite places in Tokyo is Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine complex in the middle of the Harajuku neighborhood. In the middle of a city of 40 million people, it is a respite. Inside the beautifully wooded park, dotted with torii (shrine gates, like the one above), you can only hear the chatter of other visitors, birds chirping, and the breeze blowing through the trees.

I love the feeling of the breeze on my face. I love the way the light filters through the branches and leaves. Escaping to this little bit of nature in the middle of a bustling city calms me.

Japanese forest bathing is powerful.

Plus, for most of us, it’s free. It’s simple. It takes only a few minutes to absorb its benefits.

It’s some of my favorite medicine. And when I’ve been in the city too long, it feels like sloughing off tension and energy that has been keeping me stuck. Being in the trees helps me to feel free.

Just a few minutes looking up at the trees makes my soul feel a little bit more quiet and at ease.

In Japan, there’s a term for this kind of medicine: shinrin-yoku. It means forest bathing. Some doctors prescribe Japanese forest bathing to their patients because it’s been proven to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and so many other good things.

Isn’t it interesting how the tiniest actions—like taking one deep breath, or drinking one glass of water, or stepping into nature for a few minutes—can make such a big difference to our health and wellbeing?

Our self-care does not have to be big and showy.

Quiet action on our own behalf can be deeply powerful.

And speaking of tiny, powerful things…

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I recently released a new class. It’s free. It’s called The Tiny Little Self-Care Class. Get all the details and sign up here.

The class includes simple, realistic ideas on how to de-stress, reclaim time for the priorities that matter to you, take good care of yourself, and simply have a better day.

Busy parents, creative entrepreneurs, healers, activists, and world-changers… People who give, give, give, and do, do, do… this class is my gift for you.

I hope you’ll find a way to refill your well sometime today, too. Maybe a forest bath–or a bubble bath. Or a bus ride without your phone in your hands. Or listening to Harry Potter audiobooks while you chop carrots for dinner.

Whatever sounds like “a relief,” like “coming home,” please give that gift to yourself.

Self-care is something you can do today to refuel, focus, strengthen, and prepare yourself for the work that needs to be handled tomorrow. It’s amazing what even the quietest actions can do.

 


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Organized under Moments of Wonder, Self-Care. none

Do Less. Make a Bigger Impact.

September 5, 2017

Grab your seat for this month’s free workshop: Stop Doing Shit You Hate (and make space for what matters) – it’s happening September 12th at noon Pacific.

You don't have to do it all to have a major impact. Do less to make a bigger impact (and avoid burnout in the process). Sign up for the free self-care workshop here! -- www.christytending.com

How often have you felt the pressure (internal or external) to DO ALL THE THINGS?

(Honesty? I totally have. And I used to run myself ragged trying to meet those incredibly unrealistic expectations.)

In my experience, there are two parts to the burnout equation: doing too much and having too few resources.

When we spread ourselves too thin, we end up exhausting ourselves. Which means that the areas of our lives that matter most? They don’t get the best of our resources.

Which means that were less effective. Which means that things feel kind of ​blah​, instead of lit-up.

Oh, and we probably feel like crap.

The secret to being an amazing healer, change-maker or creative human being? You say no a lot. You do less.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but when you operate in your zone of genius and bring your full brilliance to bear in fewer areas, you make a bigger impact.

For years, I spent my time doing the opposite.

I was a dabbler. I did a little bit of everything, but I didn’t do anything particularly well.

Over the last few years, I’ve stopped chasing shiny objects and started focusing deeply on only 3-5 areas of my life at a time.

Right now? I’m focused on building a values-based business, being a great mom, tending my awesome marriage, and nurturing a home that nurtures me back.

That’s it. Sure, I’ve got other things going on, but that’s my focus. That is definitely not ALL THE THINGS–and that’s okay.

When I allow myself to do less, I’m less susceptible to the pressure to do it all.

It means that I’m able to follow through on what I set out to do. My impact can be greater, and at the end of the day, I’ll feel better. To me, that’s integrity–and it’s the hallmark of a sacred life.

With care,
Christy

PS: Want to stop doing shit you hate? Want to do less and make a bigger impact? Grab your seat for my free workshop next week!

Organized under Activism, Sacred Focus. none

What is Enough?

August 22, 2017

Ever feel like you work your ass off all day and it’s never enough? Read on. This one’s for you.

What is enough? You don't have to do it all. Instead, create awesome boundaries to avoid burnout. Sign up for the free self-care course here! >> www.christytending.com

The Tiny Little Self-Care Class

Warren-wong-275573

A free course for people who feel seriously burnt out—and need immediate relief.

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“Even if I work for 40, 50, 60, even 70 hours a week, there’s always more to do. I never feel like I’ve done enough.”

That statement you just read? It’s something I used to say to myself all the time.

The constant refrain of “never enough” echoed through my mind. It’s the first thing I’d say to myself every morning. It’s the last thing I’d think to myself every night.

It didn’t matter if I spent every single moment of my day working. Often, I’d still go to bed feeling disappointed in myself.

Even when my colleagues and I experienced a big victory, rather than pause to celebrate, I’d move quickly onto the next task. There was always something else.

Does that resonate? Are you stuck on the “never enough” hamster wheel, too? If so, here’s a question to consider:

What does “enough” mean for you?

Can you define “enough” in a sentence or two? (Be specific.) Can you describe how “enough” feels in your body?

So many people chase this elusive feeling of “enough.” We feel like we’ve never gotten “there.” And yet many of us don’t even know what we’re chasing, exactly.

Here’s how I currently define “enough”:

At the moment, my self-care looks like a hot shower, drinking plenty of water, and occasional yoga and walking. I read a poem every day. Right now, that’s enough. (Because even self-care can trap us in “never enough” if we let it.)

For me, those are realistic, feasible numbers.

For you, the numbers (and projects, and priorities) might be very different.

But for me, in this chapter of my life, those numbers feel like “enough.”

If I suddenly find myself worrying, “But should I do more…?” I can interrupt those thoughts and remind myself, “I did what I intended to do. And that’s enough.”

My definition of “enough” doesn’t have to be rigid. It can bend and flex.

I give myself the space and flexibility to adjust any/all of those numbers as needed, because I’m a human being, not a robot. Some months I have more bandwidth than others.

So, what does “enough” mean for you—at least, for right now? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Write it down.

If you notice yourself writing lofty and vague goals, consider re-wording that statement to make it more feasible and specific. End each statement with, “That’s enough.”

The work of caring and compassion is limitless. Our human lives are not.

Yes, there is great work to be done. But not all of it can or will be done today. More than anything, we need you for the long haul. Which means doing “enough” and doing it well.

That’s why it’s crucial to place boundaries around our time, and to be compassionate with ourselves about what “doing enough” means. (Instead of trying to “do it all” and half-ass-ing it.)

Look:

Urgency is not an invitation to burnout.

Breaking news does not automatically expand our capacity. Difficult times are really an invitation to go deeper with our practice and to fulfill our purpose with greater love and attention.

There has never been a more important time to bring love to both our work and ourselves. This starts with defining “enough.”

Once you’ve arrived in that place, there’s no need to strive for more. You’ve done your piece, wholeheartedly. And truly, that is plenty.

The Tiny Little Self-Care Class

Warren-wong-275573

A free course for people who feel seriously burnt out—and need immediate relief.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Organized under Activism, Everyday Sacred, Real Self-Care, Sacred Focus. none

The Gifts of Meditation from the Brahma Vihara

August 21, 2017

Today, I’m so excited to share a special post with you. As you probably know, I’m a practitioner of a meditation practice called metta. What you might not know is that metta – or lovingkindness – is just one of four “Divine Abodes of the Heart,” according to Buddhism.

In this post, I’m sharing a bit about each one. These are excerpts from a blog post series I did for Grace Quantock‘s site over the fall and winter 2016-2017. If you enjoy, I’d be delighted for you to go back and read each post in its entirety.

Enjoy, beloved ones!

Meditation offers a huge number of gifts and benefits. Some of these include the Brahma Vihara, the four heavenly abodes: sympathetic joy, lovingkindness, equanimity, and compassion. Explore all of these, plus click here to get your free meditation toolkit! >> www.christytending.com

Meditation Can Heal Your Heart

“Meditation is a wildly popular practice, renowned for its benefits on the physical, mental, and spiritual planes. After practicing meditation for many years, I can attest to this. But what happens when we feel heartbroken or stuck in our daily lives? Meditation can help there, too.

In Buddhist meditation practice, there is a concept called the Four Heavenly Abodes (in Pali, called the Brahma Vihara). They have other names: the Four Sublime States, the Four Divine Emotions, but the concept is the same.

Brahma means noble or divine — here, it is referring to the practitioner’s relationship to a path of purification. According to Buddhist teachings, these are the highest attitudes a person can cultivate toward other beings.

Vihara means abiding and living — not a residence, but a way of being. Therefore, those who cultivate them are said to be abiding in the divinity of that state.

Each of the “abodes” explores a different variation on the experience of love: metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity). While traditional texts offer instruction for cultivating each of these states, they are also a natural result of consistent, compassionate meditation practice.”

(Read the full post here.)

The Lovingkindness Toolkit: because meditation can feel kind, compassionate and revolutionary. Download the free mini-toolkit to begin your practice today! >> www.christytending.com

Compassion as a Healing Path

“Compassion, in its purest form, allows us to recognize our interconnection with all beings everywhere. When we incorporate it into our interactions, compassion offer us the opportunity of a, “Me too,” moment. The ability to recognize ourselves in one another and to treat others with the gentleness we so crave.

When we approach the world from this perspective, that we are all a part of the fabric of humanity, we can act in a way that lifts everyone up, that build a new foundation of relationships from dignity and respect.

We do not place ourselves above anyone else, whether through blame, problem-solving, criticism or dismissiveness. We can observe those instincts, including toward ourselves, and let them go as we would any other thought during meditation.”

(Read the full post here.)

Sympathetic Joy in a Time of Comparison Traps

“Comparison traps — the pitfall of sizing up your insides against someone else’s outsides — seem to lie around every corner. It doesn’t need to be ever thus. The ability to reframe the story the comparison trap is trying to tell us takes skill. It takes self-empathy.

In my practice, the ability originates from the practice of mudita, or sympathetic joy. Simply put, mudita is the ability to derive genuine happiness from the happiness of others. To take joy in others’ joy. To celebrate on the occasion of others’ success.

Meditation helps us get there. Through meditation, we can learn to take things less personally.

Things simply happen, and it is our thoughts and emotions that give them their significance.

Which means that my friend is not having professional success at me. She is having success. That doesn’t mean there is less left for me. It certainly doesn’t mean that she is having that success in order to hurt me.”

(Read the full post here.)

The Lovingkindness Toolkit: because meditation can feel kind, compassionate and revolutionary. Download the free mini-toolkit to begin your practice today! >> www.christytending.com

Lovingkindness & falling in love through meditation

“Lovingkindness meditation (or Metta Bhavana) is a mantra meditation practiced by repeating a set of well-wishes and aiming those well-wishes at a particular person or group. Common phrases include: may you be happy, may you be safe, may you be free, may you be filled with lovingkindness.

They are repeated silently during meditation. The practitioner imagines the person or people standing in front of them. It is a concentration practice, a mindfulness practice, and a mantra practice.

It is also a shockingly powerful practice.

One works through a set list of beings, beginning with yourself, then beloved people or mentors, then neutral people, and then difficult people. In many traditions, the practice closes by aiming wishes of lovingkindness toward all beings everywhere.

Lovingkindness is a unique form of prayer.  By beginning with yourself and repeating those phrases on your own behalf, you begin to create an interior attitude that may be different from your everyday inner narrative.

Through consistent practice, we can create a loving attitude toward ourselves. Over time, this replaces the (often negative) baseline chatter that may dominate your inner realm. Instead, you experience loving and beautiful feelings toward yourself.”

(Read the full post here.)

Equanimity in the face of uncertainty

Equanimity (upekkha), as I understand it, is flow. It is a sense of trust and receptivity toward whatever will arise.  When we rest our minds in equanimity, we are not attached to outcome. We are at peace in our actions and in our purpose. But we do not act in alignment with our purpose in order to achieve something in particular.

In the Bhagavad Gita, there is a line in Chapter Two that states that we are entitled to our rightful work, but not to its fruits or results. This is equanimity: goodness for its own sake. Rightful action because it is rightful — not for any greater benefit.

Upekkha can support us and ground us in what we know to be rightful, while freeing us from disappointment, attachment or aversion. For instance: we do not meditate to “win” at meditation. We meditate for its own inherent goodness…

Likewise, there is space for equanimity practice in the larger world as well. Whether it’s an election outcome, a particular injustice, or some other situation in the world, we may feel powerless to affect a desired outcome. But what if we reversed that perspective?

What if, instead, we simply went about our work anyway? We could use the energy that we might otherwise spend on worrying or feeling helpless, and instead, roll up our sleeves and do what we can. None of us can change the course of history alone. None of us can do it all. But we can choose to do our own little bit.

(Read the full post here.)

 

Related:

The Lovingkindness Toolkit: because meditation can feel kind, compassionate and revolutionary. Download the free mini-toolkit to begin your practice today! >> www.christytending.com

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