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Self-confidence versus insecurity

Hello

I’ve been thinking a lot about what interferes with our growth, happiness, connection to self, success and mindfulness – Insecurity.

And what seems to enhance our growth, happiness, connection to self – others, success, and mindfulness – Self-Confidence.

Insecurity is like an unwanted weed in our garden of life.  It blows into our consciousness and then it starts to take over – it sucks up the nutrients and sustenance of our self.   We spend all this effort trying to rid ourselves of it and yet it seems so deeply rooted.

It’s different from a volunteer plant which blows in and enhances our garden – insecurity will destroy the habitat for the bright and nurturing thoughts that we have chosen or embraced.

The insidious nature of insecurity and the importance of self-confidence are juxtaposed to each other.

When I am working with someone who is developing her sense of self the most difficult element to deal with is insecurity.  This is not a matter of age so much as it is a matter of mindfulness and centeredness.

Confidence and insecurity cannot dwell together.

In order to be self-confident it requires an understanding of yourself – not just a sense of what works and is positive but also your limitations.   Knowing one’s limitations helps to define you in space and time so that you can Know yourself fully and deeply. 

If you do not know your limitations you can agree to something for which you are not skilled or able to deal and this will put you onto unstable ground and lead to insecurity.

Confidence is a function of knowing oneself and standing in the center of that knowing.

Insecurity is a function of not knowing where one’s center is, so that any comment, stray look, or experience can be de-stabilizing.

Anxiety is a term that is roughly equivalent to insecurity. 

Anxiety is related to not standing in the present moment but rather bemoaning the past or worrying about the future – neither of which can be changed.  Our only power is in the present moment – NOW.

Moving into one’s center,  with neutrality and non-attachment, and focused in the present moment, can help to dislodge the roots of insecurity.

Meditation, figure/ground evaluation and shifting are helpful in allowing this.

To battle insecurity and build self-confidence I like to use an equation of reasonable-ness.

Using this equation helps to identify what things need to be addressed, attended to, or ignored.  This equation is a combination of observation, focus, and awareness of physical and emotional senses.

Strangely, anxiety and insecurity may be your first signs that something is askew. 

This is similar to how anger can let you know that a boundary has been crossed – what I call your emotional alarm system.  You don’t want to let the anger just keep blaring – you’ll get caught in it and be immobilized to act in an efficient and effective way.  You want to acknowledge that there is a breach and then apply a mindful eye to the situation to investigate what/where the problem is and what action is required.

Similarly with the feeling of anxiety or insecurity, it may be  your first cue that you need to move into your center and view and evaluate your physical and emotional sense responses from a neutral and unattached way. 

Then apply the equation of reasonable-ness

This equation is similar to that used in liability cases to find faultWhat would a reasonable person do in a similar situation.  For example, there is a level where one can do too little and a level where one can do too much – similar to a bell curve the middle area is the area that is reasonable – within reason – well-founded, healthy, just, levelheaded, sensible, common sensible.

I find that even those individuals who are most unreasonable with their expectations toward themselves – can apply the reasonable-ness equation and find an answer that is centered, reasonable, and mindful.

If you are in your center and you feel insecure or anxious then your self-knowing  will guide you to make a good decision that is mindful and has integrity.

If you are not in your center and you feel insecure the anxious feelings and insecurities will spiral off and down into a negative space from which you have difficulty knowing or even recognizing yourself.

Focus on knowing yourself, your assets, skills, styles of being in the world and your limitations – this leads to self-confidence. 

Practice paying attention to your feelings of self-confidence.  Allowing your self-knowing to be your guide, it is a mindful self-knowing

Remember to treat your emotional and physical senses as cues to tell you that something is ON or not on –  askew, so that you can stay in-touch with your center. 

View insecurity, anxiety as you do anger, as a message from your emotional guidance system – your built-in awareness system – that you have to review or evaluate a situation to get yourself on track.

Just as removing the weeds from your garden early before they take hold allows for your garden to flourish – remember that attending to these negative cues of insecurity and anxiety early on will help to not let them take root in your inner landscape.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Introspection and epiphany

Hello

Introspection is defined as self-examination, and self-contemplation – the contemplation of one’s own thoughts and desires and conduct or actions.  This is mindfulness when it allows for paradigm evaluation and shifting.

How we incorporate that is the important piece of the puzzle and what can lead to an epiphany or divine manifestation – or paradigm shift resulting in an aha experience.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book What the Dog Saw wrote about the difference between a mystery and a puzzle.

When you’re working with a puzzle you have all the pieces, you just have to figure out how they all go together – that’s a lot like shifting your perspective so you can SEE how the pieces fit.  Sometimes that even requires a paradigm shift – changing your perspective or re-orienting yourself to a problem/solution – like adjusting the lens or angle on a camera to change perspective.

With mysteries it is a little bit different, with a mystery not  all the pieces are there, or there are hidden pieces, or there is an element of unknowability.  You have to discover what is missing, or what is hidden, and how it relates to the mystery.  Again, figure/ground understanding and paradigm recognition and shifting are very important.

Deductive logic is what is used for mysteries – the Sherlock Holmes’ concept of impossibility and improbability.  With a mystery you have to deduce what is impossible and all that remains no matter how improbable may be evaluated to solve the mystery.  Deduction is from the general to the particular or from cause to effect.  Mysteries have sequencing changes or effects that can be dynamic.

Inductive logic is used with puzzles – reasoning from detailed facts to general principles – this is an observation of the figure to induce the ground.  It is more of a lock and chain sequencing that has pattern.  Puzzles may have hidden pieces but once the pattern is known then that hidden piece is discovered, even if only in the negative space.

Mindful introspection is useful in both solving puzzles and mysteries; the solutions are the resulting epiphanies.

Introspection when it is accomplished in a mindful way utilizes a neutral perspective and an observing energy.   It’s more of a discovery rather than a judgment.  Although ultimately, a judgment or a decision may be made about what to do, the prejudging regarding what is important, what matters or what is valuable, can inhibit true discovery.

Describing rather than labeling the pieces to the puzzle or mystery helps to keep neutrality, and helps to maintain or shift perspective as needed.

Thinking of yourself as a witness, or an observer rather than a judge or executioner is helpful in maintaining the neutrality so that all that is available can be evaluated with a degree of equity.  This allows for the puzzle or mystery to reveal itself fully.

Linda Schierse Leonard author of On the way to the wedding and The wounded woman has written extensively on Jungian and Archetypal Psychology and how to apply these paradigms to our inner psychological stuck and crisis patterns to allow for transformation into healing and creativity.  In her book The call to Create she writes about the inner tyrant and the inner victim, their relationship to each other and how these interfere with creativity.

She is describing habit reaction patterns and survivor scenarios.

Understanding that we are typically blind to our own biases and pre-judices allows us to open ourselves to the opportunity to escape them, and live in a whole-istic, mindful way.  When we are in this state we often experience an epiphany and the mystery is clarified and revealed to us.

Introspection from a neutral perspective allows us to be the witness to our own inner dialogue and mis-characterizations so that we can move the figure into the ground through our resolutions of these and shift the paradigm/perspective of our inner landscape.

In the blog on Wisdom I wrote:

I suggest that sometimes to get to mindfulness one has to empty her mind – so that she can be neutral and present, focused and open to the figure and ground, with a lack of attachment to the meaning (a lack of bias and pre-judice) so that the full meaning of the situation can reveal itself.

Historically I have viewed this as grace.

To get there requires practice at this willingness to withhold reaction and gather information and then respond after evaluation of the various figure/ground perspectives from an unattached, present moment, and neutral perspective.

From this perspective  – Introspection is a way to get to wisdom.  Grace is the epiphany.

Knowing yourself requires knowing not only that which is directly available to you, but also that which is hidden.

Humans can be like puzzles and like mysteries.

Mindful introspection allows us to become more acquainted with our unconscious habit reaction patterns.

Happy puzzle and mystery solving.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Gestalt Therapy III: Peeling the onion

Hello

Continuing to look at mindfulness in relation to Gestalt therapy, with a brief application to parenting and mediation – as you read through this blog think about each point in relation to parenting, mediation, and other kinds of relationship building.

What and How questions are focal points of attention, rather than WHY, as in psychoanalysis.

When one person asks “Why did you do that?” about another’s behavior, it is often interpreted by the receiver as a statement concealed as a question. – indicating what the person did was wrong or incorrect.  It can be interpreted as an attack that provokes the other person to defensiveness rather than discovery.

What were you thinking with the right intonation can bring up defensiveness too – so keeping a neutral tone is helpful in the process.

The key is to focus on Discovery, self-awareness, and seeking understanding.

In this way Gestalt process is similar to the mindfulness process – it is a process of discovery and connection rather than right/wrong interpretation.

Furthermore, and more importantly from my perspective, Why takes you into your head and into the realm of intellectualism which removes you from  a place of sensory awareness – knowing.  The question Why takes a person out of the now and into a past or future time period.

It gives a person a false sense that they are working through something.

It may result in an insight but if that insight is not connected to the person in a form of an aha experience it doesn’t produce an actual change in their cognitions or behavior.  I have often heard individuals say I know that I shouldn’t do that but I do anyway or I know why I do that but it doesn’t stop me.  Those are Why insights.  They are interesting intellectually but not useful in  allowing integrated change.

Avoiding interpretation on the part of the facilitator is a central rule in the work.

The facilitator or Gestalt therapist endeavors to offer opportunities for the individual to become more intimately aware of his senses and to investigate and interpret their meaning personally.

Awareness is a function of one’s personal value.   By avoiding interpretation, the facilitator avoids applying his or her own bias to the situation at hand.

One can use questioning about how and what to help to delve into the unfinished business – or figure as well as the ground to help allow for paradigm shifting.  But what it Means is a function of that person and his relationship with himself and so is best found through his own intrapersonal (ego, id, superego, observing ego – or spirit, mind, body awareness) interpretation.

Another important focal point of attention is Anxiety. Here Anxiety is defined as a frame in time; it is conceived of as leaving the present, not being in the here and now.

It is a function of feeling out of power or powerlessness – One can only have power over a situation in the present, not in the future or the past, so focus in the present moment.

Perls also described holding the breath as a central component in anxiety; and breathing as a beginning force of accelerating working through resistance.  I view holding the breath as a way of refusing to continue living – in that moment – as the breath is a sign and symptom of life.  It is also a way that we can embed the issue into our consciousness in a stuck way.

Other essential metaphors are eating and digestion; these are treated as metaphors for what we do with every dimension of experience.  Do I bite into something, chew it up thoroughly, spit out what I don’t like, and assimilate what I find nourishing and healthy, or do I “swallow whole” what others have told me to whether I like it or not? (introjection).

When working with dreams in Perls’ view, every dream is an existential message about some important aspect of our existence.

Gestalt therapy works with a dream by asking the dreamer to identify with each aspect of the dream.  BE it, look at the dream from the perspective of each aspect of the dream; describe oneself as this element of it and act it out, in order to connect with and re-own disowned parts of our own experience and personal power.

Perls spoke of peeling the onion – these are the layers of inauthentic self:

On the surface is the cliché or phony surface layer – how one relates in the world that does not include their self in an authentic way.  Below that is the roles and games layer in which we pretend to be what we want others to think we are.

Underneath that is the anti-existence layer or phobic avoidance layer or what I think of as the layer of impasse – where a person retreats into non-awareness. This is an emptiness of games but it isn’t an awareness layer.

Next comes the implosive layer, where there may be a feeling of very tight, suppressed affect, where a feeling of tightness and tenseness pervades the room. This can feel very flat almost like a deadness.

Underneath that is the deepest layer where one encounters one’s authentic self.  It is the explosive layer, in which the person erupts into anger or grief or  joy and aliveness.

Here eruptions into tears and anger or a kundalini rising experience is common.  Often this is into the opposite of the person’s characteristic modality.  Someone who always cries contacts and expresses the underlying resentment and anger; or someone who always gets angry contacts long-suppressed grief.

In looking at the Gestalt process and peeling the layers of the onion of authenticity to get to authenticity – I see a correlation between that process and that of mindfulness paradigm shifting and figure/ground perception.  Authentic behavior is mindful, self-aware behavior.  It is free of habit reaction patterns and survivor scenarios and is placed in the time frame of the here and now.

The facilitator in Gestalt therapy is using various techniques and focal points in order to offer opportunities for learning through non-attached acceptance and neutrality – without biased interpretation.

This is a useful framework for mediation and parenting.

It’s fascinating how nicely it dovetails with a mindfulness approach in areas of relationship building, resilience building, and the development of individual self-confidence through connecting with one’s authentic self.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Meditation on Lovingkindness

Hello

Forgiveness is the most necessary action to be, and remain, healthy and balanced.  Yet it is not taught in school.  It is often not taught at home.  And although all the major identified leaders of various religions, spiritual pursuits, and healers speak about it – the act itself is not actually practiced much.

I think developing the capacity to forgive, and focusing our attention on that act, might be the most powerful tool against stress and disease.

One of my favorite meditations that I teach and use in my practice is a meditation on lovingkindness.

Meditation on Lovingkindness

(an opening to forgiveness)

Sit in your chair, or on the floor, comfortably if you want to use the sitting pose please do so
Breath in for a count of 5 and Breath out for a count of 7, this allows for you to move into a light, calm state
Notice your body against the chair or floor allowing your breath to continue in and out

Breath in from the top of your head and down through your body, you can imagine a sense of warmth entering your body and allow negative energy or tension to leave through your torso, hands and feet.
Continue breathing and focus inward, noticing and allowing your breath as part of the background

Focus your mind onto a being that you love and feel loved by.  Choose a being that is not one of conflict – like a pet, cat or dog, that you love, – or a butterfly, something void of conflict
See the face of that being shining love toward you, be with that and breathe in the love – allowing the love

Now shift the picture, as you are holding and feeling that love, to your face shining toward you so that you can experience self-love – if this is difficult and you feel the energy fade –  bring back the being from whom you felt that love and Begin Again
Once this is fruitful be with and breath in that love – allowing the love – until you can remain with this.

Then in that loving state you may want to put in the face of the being or problem with which you are struggling.

Allow for the love you are feeling to smile upon the problem
Again if this is difficult go back to the last loving being and feel that energy and Begin Again.
Now sit with this loving feeling and with your breath

Now bring in all three, your loving being, your loving self and your loving other/problem
Hold these together as you feel the loving energy flow between these three images into and through you.

Once you feel you have completed this you may bring your attention to your breath, and to your body in the chair, and slowly open your eyes

Forgiveness may be a function of forgiving yourself more than the other person. 

Perhaps it is a something that you have to accept about yourself before you can change that quality or aspect. 

Paradigm shifting and figure/ground perception can be a part of forgiveness.  Mindfully re-viewing yourself or the other/problem can allow you to move into a place of neutrality.  From that place you can then allow love, or grace, or compassion to enter so that you can allow forgiveness.  

Getting to neutrality is sometimes the bottleneck – blocking point.  Anxiety can feel like this, forcing you to feel stuck in a negative, powerless space which can lead to frustration and anger, and a lack of forgiveness.

Breathing in and breathing out, focusing on breath, as the meditation above described, can begin to loosen the bottleneck-blockage in your being/thinking/mind.  Once you’ve gotten that you can use the Lovingkindness meditation, or just use a word in a repetitive way, that has some meaning for you that has a neutralizing or spiritualizing power.

It may be the name you use for God, or a word that has a healing quality to it for you, or a single word or syllable like a mantra.

The word Mantra refers to sacred words or syllables used repeatedly in religious and ceremonial rituals.  Derived from Sanskrit, man – mind and tra – to deliver.

Two recent articles by J. Borman, PhD,RN suggest that daily invocation of a mantra as a useful mind-body technique to manage various manifestations of unwanted stress.  Take a word and Relax– the concept of Mantra Repetition to relieve anxiety.

Frequent repetition of a meaningful, spiritually coded word throughout the day serves as a stress management tool for coping with stress.  CNS NEWS . June 2006, Anxiety. p.10

Using both strategies of

Formal Meditative Practice – Breath focused, Body Scan, Attention shifting to different sensory modalities with Compassion/lovingkindness

AND

Informal meditative Practice 10 – 20 times each day Breathing in, breathing out attention

And Yoga poses as needed to increase self-awareness, balance, and focus

to stay and be in one’s center, and available to mindfulness interaction and forgiveness.

The best candidate for mindfulness meditation is a person who wants to work with developing an experiential fluid self view.  The more rigid a person’s self view the more they act and observe from that (limited, biased, and rigid) space.   

In order to enlarge the space they need to develop a fluid self view.  That includes paradigm shifting, figure/ground perception, neutrality, present moment, and forgiveness.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Gestalt Therapy II: Present Moment Focus

Hello

Continuing to look at Gestalt therapy and it’s process as an application of mindfulness.

The practice of Gestalt therapy is really a function of mindfulness, it incorporates, zen theory and phenomenological theory as well as a number of psychological theories as they interface on the issue of defense mechanisms (habit reaction patterns) and self-awareness.

The facilitator is always paying attention to the Pattern, Whole (Gestalt), Configuration of the person’s being and how an experience is embedded.

The Figure/ground focus is paramount – the most dominant need or unfinished business becomes the figure and emerges into the foreground out of the rest of the person’s experience which becomes the ground or background. When it declines in importance through some kind of resolution (or even boredom), something else becomes figure, and so on.  

In this way Traumatic Incident Reduction is related to Gestalt therapy practice and Freudian Repetition Compulsion.  The working through of a memory or historical situation.  The compulsion to repeat the event is the pattern/strategy for developing the figure – focus issue.

The goal of Gestalt therapy, personal growth is for the person to become fully capable of integrated spirit, mind, and body self-regulation,  that is, responding from his or her own center and needs, (with attention to sensory, intuitive, emotional, and cognitive modes of experience) within the context of the situation.  For Perls’ the goal is not to “be happy,” but to live fully.  To be real.  To experience ourselves, others, and our world as we truly are and be in a passionate connection with our inner selves and our lives. 

The central theme is developing Direct, Immediate Awareness of the total perceptual field and of specific details in it.  The development of immediate awareness, with particular emphasis on sensory awareness, is more characteristic of Gestalt Therapy than of any other psychological approach.  This is a description of mindfulness and Buddhist practice.

The path to direct awareness involves both Techniques to sharpen our awareness and tools for increasing our awareness of our habit reaction patterns or Freudian defense mechanisms, repressions, and whirling vortexes of thought that stand between us and a direct apprehension of what IS in the here and now.

In this, the Gestalt process draws on both phenomenology and zen.   And on Reichian theory that prescribes when you hit a resistance, rather than trying to move through it focus on it.  For Perls and Reich the resistance itself becomes the center of the work – forcing an increase of its expression until what it is hiding presents itself.

Frustration is an important element of the Gestalt process. The facilitator uses certain techniques to thwart the client’s  inauthentic being and avoidance patterns of behavior.  

Expressive techniques are used to help the person contact and develop unused or underused sensitivities and capacities. These techniques are  dynamic and related to the phenomenological relationship as it develops.  It is constantly changing and evolving allowing for the facilitator to intuitively adapt to a given client at a given moment in a given situation. 

The key is the facilitator’s underlying attitude of neutrality, openness, compassion and acceptance – focused on the present moment and discovery without interpretation or judgment.   This is more important than any specific technique used.

Gestalt process-work draws on Karen Horney’s identification of our “shoulds” or inauthentic introjects as a central aspect of personal growth, so that we can go on to discover our own ways of being in the world that are true to ourselves to take their place.

The Freudian defensive mechanisms or what I call habit reaction patterns are a central focus of how to address the individual’s inauthenticity, resistence or figure/ground configurations.

Projection, assigning to another person disowned aspects of oneself – especially projecting my disowned power onto others; Introjection, without mindfulness focus “swallowing whole” ways of acting, thinking, and feeling from early significant other relationships and interactions;

Retroflection, doing to myself what I want to do another but fear the consequences.  For instance, I want to strangle you so I choke myself.  I want to give you a box of chocolates but I’m afraid you’ll spurn me so I eat them myself.

Confluence, this is a boundary issue, not a clear distinction between where I leave off and you begin. This may involve projection–or it may involve Introjection–I don’t establish my own boundary but allow your definition of me to affect my perception of myself.

The person develops the ability to dismantle these various defenses when she is ready, via focused mindfulness, increase in awareness and diminishing of figure/ground dissonance.

The focus of therapy is in the present moment, so Unfinished Business from the past, habit reaction patterns, survivor scenarios, and concerns about the future, are worked with in terms of the person’s present experience of them.  

A painful old trauma may be re-enacted and mentally relived in the present. This can be done using the empty chair technique, a type of psychodrama or TIR.

Old unfinished situations that we carry around, what I call habit reaction patterns or survivor scenarios, stop us from being fully present now because we’re responding to them in history to some degree, rather than entirely in our present reality.

Mindfulness, present moment attention, and neutrality help us to release the patterns that no longer serve us in our interactions and relationships.

You don’t have to go to therapy to work with these ideas and have them be useful in your life; my ultimate response is to beckon back to the idea of chop wood, carry water – everyday, present moment, mindfulness.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Wisdom

Hello

Being wise is supposed to be connected to age.  The wise sage is usually depicted as past 50.  There are of course great spiritual icons that are younger and wise.

I think wisdom is connected to being able to see things from various perspectives – seeing the figure and ground simultaneously.  Wisdom is a function of mindful and responsive paradigm shifting, from what I have noticed a lack of attachment.

The lack of attachment to which I am referring has to do with not having an attachment to how the outcome looks, not having an underlying agenda about what it looks like.

This is key because how one evaluates various perspectives needs to be without bias.

Bias can have an effect on how we decide on choice a or choice b in decision-making.  As long as that is just preference and the two choices are equal then no problem, but when the bias is something that is related to an agenda or attachment – then there is a picture of equality when there is not an actual equality.  Under those conditions choices can be made that are a result of bias and not wise.

I think it got connected to age because youth has a tendency to be reactive rather than responsive.  But I have noticed very wise statements coming out of my six-year-old so I think it’s something else, the connection here is something about not being attached and being connected to spirit and the universe.

In the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Lately, I have been thinking about how courage and bravery aren’t about not being afraid.

And wisdom isn’t always about knowing everything but rather how you use the knowledge that you do have.

A friend commented that sometimes mind-emptiness is better than mind-fulness.

I suggest that sometimes to get to mindfulness one has to empty her mind – so that she can be neutral and present and focused on the an openness to figure and ground with a lack of attachment to the meaning so that the full meaning of the situation can reveal itself.

Historically I have viewed this as grace.

Wisdom and grace.

To get there requires practice at this willingness to withhold reaction and gather information and then respond after evaluation of the various figure/ground perspectives from an unattached, present moment, and neutral perspective.

I would say easier said then done – but it’s not even that easy to say….

These are characteristics that will allow for one to make enduring decisions that are wise.  It is useful to strive to attain and maintain these.

To get there requires practice, patience, a willingness to re-evaluate, and a striving to seek to understand before pushing to be understood.  It requires responding to what your emotion is trying to tell you about the situation rather than emotionally reacting.

Wisdom is the result of an integrative relationship between compassionate action and analysis.

Wisdom includes understanding your own as well as others’ biases and agendas and how these may interfere with one’s best choice in any given situation.

You can apply this to any important decision-making process.

I think it is paramount for best practices in parenting.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Feeling God’s presence

Hello

My beloved father has been feeling not well for over a year – not really his robust, take charge self.

Recently, he was diagnosed with cancer and it was late in the disease.

I thought that we would have this opportunity to have this warm, loving, connecting family in which people’s best parts would come together to support him. 

At first, calm did prevail and each person was staying connected and collaborating to support my father.  Then all the intensity began to come out.  And it was painful and discordant and difficult. 

It was difficult to maintain any connection to harmony. 

It was as you would expect if you’ve studied grief – the five stages – Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Sadness, Acceptance, well at least four – sans acceptance.

What a mess.   Little battles, big fights.

All the while I kept saying why is this happening

This man loved life.  He was a good person; he really made a difference in other people’s lives – his was a life that God would support.  Sure he had made mistakes but it didn’t fit that he would be dying of cancer.

Then I remembered that amazing book by Harold Kushner, When Bad things happen to Good people, and I tried to incorporate what I knew and practiced, mindfulness.

All we have control over is how we respond to the bad things that happen to us.  Cancer doesn’t come from God.  But I believe that, in some instances, God gives us opportunities at the end of our life to clean up that which is undone.  Having faith and feeling God’s presence has to do with what we take from our experiences and how we move through them.

My father’s gift through his illness was exactly like his gifts in life – profoundly generous, and selfless, endeavoring to help even when it seemed like he didn’t understand.

It was to give us the strength to weather the storm of his illness and become better, more healed from working through it.

Sometimes it was through his lead which was the typical way the family was held together, but surprisingly also through his need for us to step-up and BE the persons we were meant to be, – so through our lead, to use each of our special gifts, to make a difference for him and each other.

To make peace with him, ourselves, each other, and God.

He had always been the strength in the family – holding it together – now what was going to happen?

I kept trying to stay focused on my part – be loving and mindful and not reactive.  This was a big job because the family system seemed to thrive on competition and rivalry, while still being one – lots of individual personalities, which made us successful in each of our worlds, but were problematic as a group. 

As my brother said too many chiefs  – many perspectives, all accurate but needing connecting points. 

One brother was really trying to overcome his role in the family and I saw how much he had changed in certain ways – how having to be the one to help has given him a chance to make a difference.  He wasn’t the little brother but an accomplished person.  It was a gift.

Then another brother had to determine where his role was.  That brother was the best at analysis but he had to develop his compassion and forgiveness which was paramount.  It was a gift.

For my husband he was getting the opportunity to be the son who helps a father and credited with expertise.  It was a gift.

My mom who was very religious should have been the one to guide spiritually but she couldn’t wrap her head around how to stay in the spirit world.  I was able to use my training to help her understand about mindfulness, paradigm shifting, and figure/ground by using her terms and giving her a path.  It was a gift for both of us.

My daughter strengthened her connection to my mom – what a gift.

My beloved step-son was able to be seen and accepted as the grown-up grandson full of ideas and intelligence and strength.  It was a dream come true for my father to have a hint of what the new generation could and would bring and see how he had positively affected him.  It was a gift to each of them.

Grace prevailed.

Each of my brothers and I had breakthroughs to seeing each other in new ways that had not been previously perceived; each offering connecting, loving words to me – where I felt seen and cared for. 

My mom came to me and said God is using this to teach her how to love.

That seemed to be the gift for each of us.

My father’s illness was his last gift to us.  He was giving us the opportunity to grow up and become our best selves. 

And he was receiving God’s gift of how he had positively affected all those he loved.  Which was the thing that most mattered to him, that defined his life.

I saw these events as directly connected to God being present in our lives. 

Yes, it was about how each of us chose to respond,  but I think that spirit, mind, and body are connected – so for me it was emotionally and mindfully our gift to each other, and my father’s gift to us; but spiritually our connection to God was the guiding force – it was Grace.

For me, I was glad that although I was having to say goodbye to someone who was so important to me, this time I had a chance to do that – and show my gratefulness to him, unlike my last big loss.  It was a gift. 

I find, even in dark moments, I can feel God’s presence. 

See you tomorrow.

Beth