Psychobabble4u

4 therapy on the fly…

Committed in 2015 February 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 12:03 am

Commitment is more of a skill or a practice than an innate ability. The question isn’t really can I commit to this? But more do I know how? This is a great time to think about commitment. We are a month and a half into the new year and most of you have either made your New Years resolutions or dare I say, already given up on them. It’s easy to make resolutions, keeping them is another exercise entirely.

The skill of commitment has to do with practicing both determination and flexibility. One of the biggest problems with New Years resolutions is that people set a goal, such as I am going to go to the gym 5 times a week, then they do that for 2 weeks. Then during the following month we begin to realize that going to the gym 5 times a week is near to impossible with work, kids etc. Then we usually blame ourselves, feel really bad and as a result give up on our goal.

It is precisely at the point that we feel like giving up on our goal that we need to persevere. This is when we need to apply our determination and flexibility. Be realistic. Rework your goal. Go to the gym twice a week. Achieve that first. Check in with yourself about your desire. Many people commit to do things that they do not like. This usually doesn’t work. Feeling good is important. Play around with what you might like if you aren’t sure. Do not force yourself to do something you do not enjoy or that commitment will be hard to sustain. I recently heard a statistic that at one of the gyms in NYC has 70% of their members attend the gym 4 or less times in a year. If you don’t like the gym try working out outside. Make sure you are properly prepared for the weather and then go take a walk, hike or a run. Being outside in the light is very important for our vitamin D and our well being. Try Yoga, or Salsa. Try something you have always wanted to do that involves exercise.

Look at the numbers. Keep the number doable. This enables you to meet your goal which builds your confidence. You can always exceed your goal. Perhaps focus on 3 resolutions rather than 10.

Be celebratory about what you might consider very small achievements within your goal. Being mean towards yourself when you don’t achieve your goal in the way that you originally envisioned it does not bring you closer to achieving it. In fact, being hard on ourselves is probably one of the main reasons we eventually give up on our goals.

Don’t say I am going to try this. Truly commit to achieving your goal but promise yourself that you will be flexible within that goal. When you make a commitment to this goal but you are often making a commitment to a lifestyle shift. Change takes time. So there will be times when you are too sick to go to the gym but you can manage a short walk. Sometimes you will be too sick for that as well. Taking care of yourself is listening with a fine tuned ear to what you and your body need. Sometimes what you need is rest. This can also be the time that people give up. So if you are sick, perhaps set a time and date for the next time you will exercise. The act of staying fit translates into trusting your own judgement and in time, you will come to trust your commitment. Eventually it will become a part of the way you live. Which when you realize you have truly achieved your goal.

Good luck! If you have any questions please post them as comments.

 

Committed in 2015 February 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 8:37 pm

Commitment is more of a skill or a practice than an innate ability. The question isn’t really can I commit to this? But more do I know how? This is a great time to think about commitment. We are a month and a half into the new year and most of you have either made your New Years resolutions or dare I say, already given up on them. It’s easy to make resolutions, keeping them is another exercise entirely.

The skill of commitment has to do with practicing both determination and flexibility. One of the biggest problems with New Years resolutions is that people set a goal, such as I am going to go to the gym 5 times a week, then they do that for 2 weeks. Then during the following month we begin to realize that going to the gym 5 times a week is near to impossible with work, kids etc. Then we usually blame ourselves, feel really bad and as a result give up on our goal.

It is precisely at the point that we feel like giving up on our goal that we need to persevere. This is when we need to apply our determination and flexibility. Be realistic. Rework your goal. Go to the gym twice a week. Achieve that first. Check in with yourself about your desire. Many people commit to do things that they do not like. This usually doesn’t work. Feeling good is important. Play around with what you might like if you aren’t sure. Do not force yourself to do something you do not enjoy or that commitment will be hard to sustain. I recently heard a statistic that at one of the gyms in NYC has 70% of their members attend the gym 4 or less times in a year. If you don’t like the gym try working out outside. Make sure you are properly prepared for the weather and then go take a walk, hike or a run. Being outside in the light is very important for our vitamin D and our well being. Try Yoga, or Salsa. Try something you have always wanted to do that involves exercise.

Look at the numbers. Keep the number doable. This enables you to meet your goal which builds your confidence. You can always exceed your goal. Perhaps focus on 3 resolutions rather than 10.

Be celebratory about what you might consider very small achievements within your goal. Being mean towards yourself when you don’t achieve your goal in the way that you originally envisioned it does not bring you closer to achieving it. In fact, being hard on ourselves is probably one of the main reasons we eventually give up on our goals.

Don’t say I am going to try this. Truly commit to achieving your goal but promise yourself that you will be flexible within that goal. When you make a commitment to this goal but you are often making a commitment to a lifestyle shift. Change takes time. So there will be times when you are too sick to go to the gym but you can manage a short walk. Sometimes you will be too sick for that as well. Taking care of yourself is listening with a fine tuned ear to what you and your body need. Sometimes what you need is rest. This can also be the time that people give up. So if you are sick, perhaps set a time and date for the next time you will exercise. The act of staying fit translates into trusting your own judgement and in time, you will come to trust your commitment. Eventually it will become a part of the way you live. Which when you realize you have truly achieved your goal.

Good luck! If you have any questions please post them as comments.

 

A Map of Your Life February 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 3:54 pm

She crossed in front of me on my way to work. A petite woman with dark hair in a chic, cheek length bob. The wind blowing her hair from her face in the cold rugged temperature. It exposed a taut, white, blank area reaching from her cheek to behind her ear. There in the place where all of her memories should have been nothing was in evidence. Just a blank. It looked so strange. I urged and pushed my eyes to find on her the memories that I knew existed. The line from the loss of her first born. The squint from the laugh that she shared with her husband, the love of her life. The pull on her delicate skin as she moved her lashes down with pride and embarrassment while receiving an award for her book just finished. So many moving places she had been not one of them present in her face. They are I assume still in her heart but now I, the quiet observer, can no longer identify them at her brow. One cut from her surgeon and she resembles a blank doll. Not unlike a Stepford wife. But her eyes are wise and do not match her face, at least the part I can see.
I do not understand this in ourselves. I am conflicted. I do believe that our bodies are our own and that no one else should regulate what we do with them. At the same time I do not understand this obsession with youth. I understand the uncertainty and every now the yearning when you see a beautiful young girl and think, I will never again look like that. There is a little sorrow. But not much. I would never want to be searching in quite the way that I used to be. So self-absorbed and unsure about myself that I could not come out to appreciate those around me the way that I can now. I know that many others have had such different experiences in their youth, many not filled with the bouts of pain that mine was filled with.
There are so many different types of beauties. Youth has an incandescence of its own but so does the confidence and glow that comes from knowing yourself. Knowing that if I do not know anyone else I am now at the very least, familiar with myself. My niece who is 13 said so wisely that she is just getting to know herself. As it should be at 13. And hopefully with our family’s help she is going to have a ball in the process. But here is the thing wise women, we are already there. The beauty of this knowing that spreads a light that is undeniable in the presence of an older woman. This light is communicated in each line that I have. Each laugh that I have experienced. Every tear that I have shed. Every time I have stood up to a bully or read a book that I love. Or shared a beautiful and lovely smile with a stranger in the street. Each of these is recorded on my face in the map of my life. I wear them proudly. I observe their presence really without power. I take care of them lovingly with nutrient creams and times out of the sun. But to deny them, to not want to share them, is denying the amazing journey called life and dammit I want people to know when they look at my face what a fantastic life I have lead!

 

My Friend December 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 7:56 pm

I was walking down the hall of my office and I noticed this really warm and somewhat fuzzy feeling encircling my chest. I was humming to myself and jigging a little as I walked and thinking to myself in that way that we don’t actually think something but just become of aware of where we are. I realized that I had been having a really good time with the person I had been hanging out with the last couple of nights. Hmm who was that? At that the same time I realized that I was really enjoying going home to this person and looking forward to it later that night. Normally it would have been my partner whom I feel similarly about returning to when I have been away. But that wasn’t the person. Then I realized and I jumped a little, feeling a bit perplexed, that the someone was me. Wow, it’s been a long journey but that someone was finally me.

 

The Holidays November 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 6:00 pm

The Holidays can be a beautiful time of the year with the lights illuminating each door and window dressed in their finest. However, it can also be a hard time of the year for a multitude of reasons. The holidays are a marker much like our birthdays bringing focus to where we are in our lives and perhaps where we aren’t. They also encompass a great deal of energy and happening: people traveling, gift buying, stress around getting the perfect something for each person, trying to be with a multitude of people either all at once or in many places in a very short period of time, and these are only if we have or are in contact with our families. For parents who are incredibly busy in our culture to begin with it adds additional stress. If you are on your own or choosing to be there are the images of the perfect holiday scenes everywhere you turn, on commercials, every store you shop in, via friend’s and coworker’s plans juxtaposed with what your life looks like at this time of the year. This can be difficult because there aren’t any scenes of us enjoying the holidays on our own or in less traditional contexts in which we can see our own experience reflected.

When it comes to family so many of our holidays are prescribed to us from the time we are very little: ie what we do and how we do it during this time. So here are a couple of tips if you are going to be with your family at this time of year.

-Take some time, perhaps just a couple of minutes by yourself to think about what you would like for your holidays. Perhaps a tradition that you already have that makes you feel good or think of one you would like to bring into your life at this time. My best friend and I try to bake cookies each year and I also bake something delicious and healthy every year for my family. This is the tradition which marks the holidays for me each year.

-If you have many places to be try to organize, to the best of your ability, these places in a way that works for you and your family. Try to be realistic about how long you and your kids can actually be at any one place before a meltdown occurs.

-If you need to be at one place that can be stressful really think about organizing your time in a way that creates the least stress. When the tension escalates:
*Leave the table to get a drink, go to the bathroom, make a phone call, get a breath of fresh air.

-If you are going to be with family for a long period of time create breaks in the time.
*Go for a long walk/ exercise
*Find a short trip to go on in the area without your family, by yourself or with your partner or a family member that is low maintenance
* take naps
*Don’t feel as if you have to get up and go to sleep en masse

-If there is abuse in your family or extreme tension consider staying at a hotel and/or limiting your time

-If there is a particular person(s) that is hard for you contemplate ahead of time how you would like to handle the situation that usually arises. If relevant discuss it with your partner or whomever you are traveling with for the holidays ahead of time so that you are clear on how you would like to respond.

-As a parent there is significant pressure to buy exactly what your child wants. Remember that you are the one that teaches your child about value and this is a good time of the year to begin this teaching. When I think about the holidays I cannot remember one gift that I received it is mostly the feeling of the holidays that I remember. In some ways that is what we want to impart to the next generation and this doesn’t cost anything but thoughtfulness. It is also a great time to incorporate service of some kind.

If you are on your own, which I have been many time in my life during this time of year which was hard at times and other times quite a relief, decide how you would like to spend your holidays. Is there a movie you would like to see or a service you would like to engage in? Like delivering meals to the elderly. Have a meal with friends or prepare a special one for yourself. Try to think of this time as precious rather than something to get through. Create your own tradition. Decorate, bake, if you have the money visit someone you love or go on a trip somewhere you would like to go.

Remember the holidays are a way of ushering out the old year and in the new year. They are supposed to be a break for us so try to treat them at least a little bit in this way. The holidays tend to feel much better to us if we really think about how we would like them to be rather than having them prescribed to us by our family or our culture. May the holidays be an enjoyable and peaceful time of year for you and your family.

 

Grateful November 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 3:27 pm

The clear crystal of the blue crisp morning was disturbed only by my moving legs. Faster faster. I was late. Or almost. As usual. Everything pretty much went according to plan so I arrived at the intersection of 20th and Walnut street with only a minute available. And then the morning turned itself over as I lay hitting hard on my back at the edge of the intersection. My bag midair and landing. My bike somehow both on top of and below me. I am staring at this man talking on his cell phone who moves not one iota. Not one. I pick myself up in good form cursing up a storm. Theses damn humans etc, etc…blah blah blah cell phone, f-ing, blah blah. Still cursing I get back on my bike ride access the intersection and manage to wind up staring at the sky on my back once again. And no he has not moved. The cursing gets louder. A gentleman in scrubs approaches, I’m assuming at his own risk, which seems to make the act even more kind. Because I am in a fury this morning. Muttering muttering. He gently hands me my bag. I smile, somewhat, thanking him. I decide not to get back on my bike and walk it carefully towards the Shambhala center for my third day of retreat. I realize he is walking in the same direction and that may be his destination as well. Of course he is going to my center for meditation, of course.

Lucky for me he does not. I arrive somewhat injured but walking. Still muttering I realize I am on breakfast duty. I ask multiple people for help but nobody can. Of course I am estimating a gargantuan amount of dishes. Mutter, mutter, mutter. Suddenly one of my retreat members appears. She speaks softly to me as I do the dishes. She carries them in and I wash. As she speaks and I respond, I feel the tension sliding off of me. I realize I have finally accepted my morning. I laugh as I listen to her. We leave the kitchen twinkling, everything in its place, I prepare to sit.

I take my seat. Every color in the room is emitting clear and crisp lines. Each breath entering and leaving me. And I realize I am finally awake. I have “slept” most of this retreat and now I am awake. Grateful I lower my gaze and be.

To me this story is about openness. Being open to experience, open to waking up at any opportunity, open to yourself through kindness so that you may self examine and being grateful that you at any point have the awareness to do or even contemplate any of this. I was so grateful to be awake for the rest of the retreat and that I could, which I mightn’t have been able to prior to practicing Mindfulness, even be grateful for the wipe outs, man in scrubs, my kind fellow retreater and perhaps the most, to the cell phone man.

There was a gentleman in a group I was a part of who mentioned he experienced a moment of being present. That he is grateful for the days when he is pulling himself back into the present repeatedly because he realizes that those are days he is present more often. We discussed that being gentle with ourselves is imperative for awareness. When we are hard on ourselves we tend to get lost in that harshness and the behavior continues and continues and ultimately strengthens. When we are gentle we are able to see. Have space to accept and change.

There is a counterintuitive quality to inviting in what you truly want to get rid of. That acceptance however, allows the behavior or feeling to dissipate or at least allows you to exist with it without as much suffering. As an example of this one of our group members shared that she was experiencing quite a bit of pain due to a slipped disc in her back. She had been to multiple doctors and had decided, as an experiment, to accept the pain and to see what the acceptance brought.

Another member at this point asked about the relationship between avoidance, letting go and neglect. She mentioned that she had a problem with a toe that she ignored for quite a while and that it only got worse. Another member addressed this by differentiating between the quality of letting go and neglect. It is important to care for ourselves. Letting go does not mean not addressing an issue be it medical, emotional or any other kind. It means accepting that the issue is occurring. Doing your best to address it but not resisting it. “Oh why is this happening to me?” Etc. What we are actually letting go of is the resistance we are having to whatever we are experiencing. Essentially the resistance to reality.

This is about openness and kindness and learning to be grateful to the messengers that bring wisdom in sometimes painful forms. Being thankful for our wipe outs, verbal diarrhea, heartbreak, beautiful days and falling in love. But most of all for our ability to have an awareness of this all. These are our gifts. Our cake so to speak that we offer to others as a representation of our gratefulness. And I am so grateful to all of you. Have a beautiful week while gently noticing your neurosis, practicing acceptance, welcoming the difficulties in your life (again and again, old friends.) and offering your thankfulness for these experiences that provides your learning: your own embodiment of wisdom and the wisdom embodied in our full experience of life.
Sent from my iPad

 

Two Times September 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 4:23 pm

I went to my sorority reunion this past weekend. I was skeptical to say the least. My sorority, which is actually a fraternity because in 1898 our founding women had the sense to know that they didn’t want to be slaves to the fraternity brothers on their campus so they founded a fraternity instead. I should have focused on this marked detail alone. One of my sisters reached out to me individually to request my presence. She was so kind. And I…I was direct. I thought of excuses, many. But then it occurred to me to speak the truth. I confessed to her that I was intimidated. My life was so different than theirs. No children. No marriage. 9 years with a woman as my partner and now a man. I’m Buddhist and a psychotherapist. And on and on.

A wise friend of mine told me, “Cori, you do not know what their lives have been like. It is 18 years later.” So I stretched myself. I went. And let me tell what was missing. The cutting edge of judgement. Perfect marriages or perfect lives for that matter. They were on second marriages, were raising kids on their own, had been through trauma with their spouses. I was not alone.

Let me tell you what wasn’t missing. Their strength, warmth and the only cutting edge was their sense of humor. Most of my sisters have devoted their lives to either raising kids, or teaching them and many of them both. Three of them are principles. One of a French school and when I said “Karen I’m so impressed, I didn’t know you spoke French. She said, “I don’t.” Let out a big whoop of laughter. And then proceeded to tell me that she sits in on the first grade French class. Ha! Another one of my sisters has turned around one of the top 10 worse schools in Newark. She doesn’t serve sugar in school, has implemented 10 minute meditation every day and yoga twice a week. And it’s working. These women are amazing.

It was a whip quick speed. This one was cackling about her husband, this one is sitting me down to ask what the difference was between men and women was for me and who do I prefer. I will not quote her actual comment. But let me say we laughed for a good 5 minutes. One of my other sisters tells us her blond, blue eyed daughter comes into the house calling her “Brah.”and telling her that she likes her men dark. My sister says, “So! I don’t care. But on second thought maybe you should tell your father when you spend the weekend with him.” As she winks at us. My other sisters’ parting words were, “That’s right, two times a day ladies, if your not getting that then wake the hell up.” We screamed the whole time. I haven’t been that continuously loud probably since the last time I saw them, 18 years ago.

Their warmth enveloped me from my first step into the reunion, as my first sister, Kristen, hugged me and said, “I’ve missed you.” Their warmth enveloped not only my being but my heart as well. You see nothing had changed and everything had changed. They have always been this way. I’m surprised at how wise my younger self was at the age of 18, I somehow do not envision her that way. But I was wrong as I was about so many other things that day. Happily. The only person’s cutting edge judgement I dealt with that day was my own. And I actually think I dealt with it pretty well. I noticed the box I didn’t even know I was in and how important stretching myself out of my comfort zone was and how much joy and contentment that can and has brought me. Thank you sisters for teaching me once again about myself and life.

 

Home for the Holidays December 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 8:04 pm

 

Home for the holidays and we are warming up more than just food. All our feelings get warmed up as well. Sometimes they are feelings of joy but when they are feelings of pressure, sadness, discontent, they are even harder to deal with against that backdrop of Joy. They act as a marker for where we are in our lives. The holidays with all of the mixes of pressure to spend money when the majority of the country does not have any. Pressure to spend time with people we do not see very often or perhaps to spend time with ourselves. Pressure to perform. To have holidays that look, feel and experience the way that we see them represented on the Hallmark channel and in every Target ad. These elements can all come together to create a challenging time of year. So the question is how do you want, that’s right folks, want to spend your days.

Often our holidays are prescribed to us. We always go to our parent’s house they never come to our house. Or we always spend them with Aunt Sadie, she cooks, drives us all crazy and is generally really mean. Then if that is the case why in the world are you spending your time with someone you don’t even like? Often the answer is “because that is how we always spend our holidays.” Well maybe this needs to be the first time you spend your holidays differently.

There are our families that we are born into and then the families we choose. I suggest spending at least some time with the family you choose. Your friends, hand picked family members, spouses, your kids, etc.

When we are going home for the holidays, remember no matter how old you are, you are an adult. Often we walk through the front door of our parent’s house and we feel 12 again. Bring things with you that ground you. A friend, book, dog, your partner and your kids. And keep telling yourself I am an adult. It sounds silly but it’s really easy to forget. For example. I worked with a client who reported that every time he would sit down at the dinner table his father would start ranting about some subject that was stressful, from politic to wall street, whatever it was he would get loud, and it would get uncomfortable. I said, “Get up from the table.” “What do you mean?”he said. I said, “Get up from the table you don’t have to listen. You are not a prisoner. You are 29 yrs old.” “Oh.” he said, “I never thought of that.”

So how do you get up from the table? You can be direct “Dad please, you are getting really loud and I am uncomfortable”. Go to the bathroom. Say you feel sick. I’m not big on lying but you do feel sick in way so let’s call this the path of least resistance approach.

Along the same lines most of us although not screenplay writers could write a fairly accurate screenplay of our family holiday experience. So prepare ahead of time. If your uncle always gets drunk and loud then decide how you want to handle that ahead of time If your mother always comments on your son’s weight think about how you want to respond to her. If you are looking for a job but haven’t found one yet think about how you want to answer questions inquiring about the subject. You can say, “I don’t really want to talk about that but thank you for your concern.” You may have to say it a couple of times before you are heard. Stand your ground

Manage the time you do spend with people. Especially if they are stressful for you. If you are going away, stay in a hotel, spend fewer nights. Arrive later, leave earlier. While you are there do a little sight seeing, see friends, take little trips to the movies, go for walks etc. Break up your time. You do have some control over this time even if you have never exercised it before.

Pressure to spend. Our culture is so based on on bigger equals better. There is such a pressure to buy, buy, buy, in some ways even more now because our country needs the economic boost so much. Resist! I tell you. Resist! Purchase thoughtfully, slowly. Try to ease the pressure. If this is going to be a season where you cannot spend money because you do not have it then you need to honor that. You are not alone. Try informing people in your life now so you do not feel so much pressure. Maybe just buy for the kids. Or bake for everyone. Write a personal card to the people in your life to say the things that you don’t usually. You really can give love at the holidays.

I know some of you are saying really? Give just love at the holidays? Tell that to my 12 year old or my over-bearing, high maintenance mother-in-law. You tell them. Remember you are the one that sets the tone. Especially with your kids and perhaps even with your mother- in-law but definitely with your self. Bake with your children. Do Pollyanna gift giving. Do one gift bought and one gift made.

Start your own traditions. Ice skating, cookie baking, watching special movies, throw a party yourself.

Know at this time of year feelings really do come up. And they can feel really hard and magnified. Not to minimize but remember these, in the end , are just days. There isn’t anyone spying on you and saying you aren’t spending them correctly. On the other hand plenty of people will ask you how you will be spending them. It is perfectly acceptable to say you are not sure. It is really tough to feel sad at this time of year but it is also OK. Let yourself feel it. Ask for some help from friends, family or seek professional help if it feels unmanageable. Remember other people’s lives often look one way from the outside and completely different from the inside. Come back to your own life when you begin to compare and think about what you want to do. You are not alone in how you feel. And sometimes these feelings are just our entry into having the holidays that we do want.

A holiday is a vacation day in it’s most basic form. A vacation is defined as leisure time away from work devoted to rest and pleasure. Incorporate this into your holidays. This year make your holidays what you want them to be. Make them your own.

(c) Cori Grachek, 12/6/2010

 

Practice makes Imperfect: Yoga 101 July 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 4:57 pm

 

My client said to me the other day, “Well your just a relaxed person..you were just born that way.” I laughed. Hard. “No I am not”, I replied. “ I practice being this way.” Maybe there are people who are born naturally calm. It just so happens that I am not one of those people. I have had to learn how to cultivate peace inside of myself. Every day. Again and again.

One of the ways in which I work on that “peace” of my life is through meditation. I am going to write about different types of meditation as they apply to your mental health. First I will begin with the one I have been practicing the longest, yoga. Cultivating a meditative practice can be helpful to anyone. In a study done at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine, at The Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University, after 8 weeks of meditation, presentation of symptoms of anxiety decreased by 45%, and presentation of symptoms of depression decreased by 35%. For more information on these studies Google Digital Commons at Jefferson University and then plug into the search engine, Dr. Diane K. Reibel Director of the center and, or Don McCown, mindfulness based psychotherapist, teacher and trainer.

When I first came to my yoga mat, it took me 32 years to get there, but when I finally did it felt like coming home. Before this point I just thought yoga was kind of cheesy. Some things are just like that. You start and you feel as if you have been doing it forever. My first class was my best friend’s qualifying class as a teacher. She offered, “Hey, you want to come take my class?” I said, “sure”, being up for anything physical and wanting to support her, “why not?” What she failed to tell me was that the class was comprised of every yoga position she had learned and was to be taught to her classmates and 30 other yoga teachers. Uh yeah, that was my first yoga class. Me and the 40 yoga teachers. I should have known. My best friend was notorious for understating things. It was a hell of a jumping in. I remember looking around as one leg after another popped up into head stand, hand stand, arm balances. It was a regular Cirque de Soleil. So I went for it. I did every pose, blocked everyone out. Had no idea what I was doing and had a ball. I started practicing then and have not stopped since.

Corpse pose, or Shavasana, in Sanskrit, is a pose that we take at the end of each class. You lay your body down. You can take a blanket to cover yourself and then the lights are turned low. When I first experienced this I thought to myself, Yay! It’s nap time. Sneaking a look at all of the sleeping bodies around me. Then it happened. The teacher came around and gently placed the cool, form-fitting, silk eye pillow across my eyes. The smell of lavender sifted to my senses as she anointed my shoulder with the oil. “I am a princess”, I thought to myself.

So ask yourself is that cheesy? I couldn’t remember another time in recent years when I had felt so cared for in this very specific way. When was the last time you felt like a prince or princess? We do not usually allow the time for us to feel this way. We consider it indulgent. I tell you it is essential to feel this way. There is a reason that it felt like nap time. When we care for children well, this is how we treat them. Carefully. Preciously. And the fact that we did this for ourselves, not a massage therapist or even a therapist, but that it is our own practice is what makes a meditation practice unique.

Practice: Yoga Practice is called a practice because it is just that, something you practice. You practice being accepting of yourself when you are doing yoga, of others in your class and in your life. And man does that require a lot of practice!

Beginner Mind: You will get better as you practice. It is pretty cool to see how you start to master different poses and watch your body and your mind change. But the goal is not to get better but to accept wherever you are. Every time you come to the mat your practice will be different. This is called a Beginner Mind, because each time you come to your mat in some ways it is as if you are a beginner again. You may do a pose really well in one practice and you want to hold onto that great feeling. But when you go to do that pose again it is going to be different, maybe not better or worse but definitely different. Certainly, as in life we want to hold onto the good, and feel it feel it feel it forever. But a meditative practice helps you to really appreciate it when it’s here and to take it easy on yourself when we are wobbly in our heads, bodies etc. This is what we practice. Acceptance.

Teachers: People you must really like your teacher. You are taking time to nurture yourself, away from loved ones, your kids, careers. You must like who you are spending time with. I had a client tell me once how much she had enjoyed her first yoga class except that she felt that the teacher had snapped at her when she was trying to do a position. “ But its OK”, she said. No it’s not! Look for the right teacher. As with anything else it may take some time to find the right one.

Flexibility: “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible.” This is the sentence I hear uttered most frequently when discussing yoga. You mean you can’t be flexible in your mind or heart? Because that is all it takes folks. A yoga Teacher Trainer once said: “People who are less flexible physically actually tend to get more out of yoga because they have to work harder to not be judgmental of themselves which is the core of the practice of yoga. People who are very limber and slide easily into poses, do not encounter the same kind of resistance and are at greater risk of missing this very important piece of yoga.”

Beginner classes: If you are beginner take only what is labeled a beginner class. Steer clear of classes labeled All Levels. These classes often focus on more advanced poses and forget entirely about beginners. Every teacher is supposed to teach to the lowest level in the class. Often this does not happen. As a beginner you need to learn about the foundation of poses and how to do them without hurting yourself.

Empty Your Mind: The other thing that people say about practicing yoga, “I am not very good at this because I cannot get my mind to stop thinking.” Yeah, well, welcome to life. Who can? Our minds are made to think. It’s what we do. The point is to accept this. Not to use it as yet another opportunity to beat ourselves up.

Noticing: Every time that you notice that your mind has wandered away you have a choice. You can allow your mind to follow the thought or you can gently request yourself to return to your practice.  You might do this 100 times in a pose or practice.  Just keep working it.  Our minds vary in their business.

Gentle: One of my clients asked me what I mean by gentle. Good question. Gentle means being loving and kind towards yourself and others. Not screaming at yourself in your head. Not cursing, calling yourself names or saying mean things to yourself.

All of this: All of these moments that you notice that your mind has wandered away and all of the moments you are focused on your yoga practice, and everything in between, all of this is the practice of meditation.

There is an allegory that I have used when doing training on yoga that describes the experience of yoga.

A student comes to his Yoga Teacher and he says,“Teacher, I don’t get it. My practice is horrible, my mind is all over the place, I’m falling out of my poses…I feel like I’m doing it all wrong.” The teacher responds, “This shall pass. Go and practice. Come back to speak with me in two weeks.” Two weeks later the student returns to speak with his teacher. “Teacher my practice has been incredible. I hold my poses the intended time. My mind is calm and I am peaceful.” The teacher responds, “This too shall pass. Go and practice. Come back to speak with me in two weeks.”

So what is the point of this allegory and all of this you ask? Each time you practice you are taking time out of your day to practice accepting where you are. So much of our lives are focused on where we are going and what we do not have. Which is not a bad thing. But sometimes when we spend so much time wishing we were somewhere else it can cause anxiety, depression and most of all we miss what we actually have. In a meditation practice we are working on accepting wherever we are: happy, joyful, content, angry, frustrated.  When we accept where we are it makes it easier to be there. But most of all because it helps us to get down to the business of enjoying the life we already have.

 

Looking for love in all the Right Places May 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 9:33 pm

When you are ready for love and you have not found it, it can be rough. The last blog was for those of you who are committed (or should be), smile. This blog is for those of you who are looking to get committed. These ideas can also be applied to meeting new people in general. Often I hear  “I am not attracted to most of the people that I meet” or “there aren’t any good men/women left out there”. That’s bubkas. First of all you only need one.Second, I would wonder about you if you were attracted to everyone you met. There are people out there for you. Finding them entails a strange combination of being open, taking risks and learning about what you want and how to make yourself as happy as possible on your own.

I know and remember how hard it is when you are really ready to share your life with a partner and you have not found that person yet. You ache for it. This can feel very lonely. These days people are looking for their life mates at an older age because of career and school. As we get older we have more of an idea of what we are looking for. This is helpful in finding the person for you but you also need to make sure that you are not closing yourself off to possibilities because of these ideas.

Finding the right Places:

3 kinds of loneliness: Of course there are many more types than this but for the purpose of this article we will focus on 3. There is the loneliness of the human condition. Meaning most of us humans feel lonely from time to time. We have to learn how to sit with the loneliness allowing it to pass when it is ready. There is the lonely of not having a partner, which is very true and very real. And then there can be the loneliness of our past. How we might have felt as a child if we were left alone often, left period, neglected, abused, overlooked. This lonely is really powerful and loves to mix with the other two types furthering muddying the waters of loneliness.

Old: The old loneliness is so hard to deal with that it can make us feel desperate. Out of the desperation we often start dating the next person to come along regardless of how good they are for us. There are other types of love and when we feel like this it is a great time to search them out. Get a dog or cat. Unconditional love is so healing. Go volunteer. Get out of your head and heart for a little while. Don’t date when you feel desperate. Wait until you heal up a bit.

Storyline: What is your story of love. Is it that you are doomed and you will never find someone? That everyone you find will leave you? That everyone you find must be your love? Check these story-lines. Are you acting from these beliefs. When you are dating someone and you view all of their actions through this story it can be very detrimental.For example, I’m going on a business trip can become he is leaving me for good. Finally. I always knew he would. Instead acknowledge what your storyline is. Assess how your story has and does affect your dating life.

Package: It’s great to know what you want but not when it closes you off to possibilities. Look around you. People’s matches come in the most astonishing combinations. Someone who thought she would marry a man may find her life partner in a woman. Someone who thought they had to marry a doctor may find themselves with a jewelry maker who balances them completely. Open yourself beyond your laundry list and you might be surprised at what you find.

Open the door: When you are frustrated with finding love ask yourself are there any doors that you have kept closed? “ I would never date someone without a college degree because I am a lawyer.” “I would never try internet dating because it is weird”. It is weird. You are right. But really tell me one aspect of dating that isn’t weird. The point is. Open yourself. Get out of your box.  Take a risk. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Go places you wouldn’t normally go.

Feed Yourself: Take a class you have always wanted to take. Bored with your job start looking for something that is going to fulfill you. As we learn about ourselves and grow and change we create opportunities for meeting new people. You never know who those people are and who those people know. And at the very least you are having fun and pursuing your own dreams.

Language of love: Check your body language. Do you walk with your shoulders back, head held high? Do you say hello to people on the street? Return greetings? Smile? We send out messages with our bodies and thoughts. ‘I am available for friendship or more” or “I am closed and not interested.” What message are you sending when you are out and about?

Everybody Else: This is your story. Do not worry so much about everyone elses. It is difficult when everyone else is paired up and you are not. But your path is different. We all do things when we are ready. Comparison only makes us feel as if we are doing something wrong and places a ton of pressure on us.

In closing be gentle. Remember this is a new and different way for you to think about love. We never know how long this pursuit will take might as well have a really good time along the way. This time alone is most likely temporary. Treasure the time you have alone rather than dreading it. Its darn nice to not have to compromise all the time. Value this now because that will change when you and your match find each other. And remember you only need one. And right now you are the one. Make each day as fulfilling for you as possible. Opening yourself to each new experience even if its walking out the door with your new attitude and body language and greeting the day differently.