“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected.
“But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.
“On the other hand, wretchedness — life’s painful aspect — softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose — you’re just there.
“The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple.
“Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”
― Pema Chödrön
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. ― Pema Chödrön
In the end, she became more than what she expected. She became the journey, and like all journeys, she did not end, she just simply changed directions and kept going. — R.M. Drake
How to Truly Hear from the Heart
Heather Plett writes, “My three daughters are all very different in how they view the world, how they communicate and how they process emotions. One of the most challenging things I’ve had to learn as their mom is that I have to listen to each of them differently.
“One is introverted and takes a long time to process things, so even when I sense that something might be bothering her, I often have to wait a couple of weeks before I’ll hear about it. One is more extroverted and tends to think and experience the world the most like I do, so I often make the mistake of assuming I know things about her before I’ve taken the time to genuinely listen. A third is very private about her emotions and uses humour as one of her ways of processing the world, so I have to listen extra carefully for the subtle things she’s saying underneath the witticism.
“I don’t always get it right. In fact, a lot of times I don’t. There are a surprising number of things that get in the way of good listening. Sometimes there are too many distractions, sometimes I’m tired, sometimes they’ve hurt my feelings and I’m resentful, and sometimes I just want them to be more like me so I don’t have to work so hard to figure them out.
“Listening takes a lot of practice. Even though we develop our ability to hear while still in utero (unless we’re hearing impaired), genuine empathic listening is a skill that takes much longer to develop. And even when we’ve worked hard to develop it, we often mess it up.”
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
Tips on how to be a good listener to yourself so you can be a better listener to others.
David Rome writes, “How often do you feel really listened to? How often do you really listen to others? (Be honest.)
We know we’re in the presence of a good listener when we get that sweet, affirming feeling of really being heard. But sadly it occurs all too rarely. We can’t force others to listen, but we can improve our own listening, and perhaps inspire others by doing so.
Good listening means mindful listening. Like mindfulness itself, listening takes a combination of intention and attention. The intention part is having a genuine interest in the other person—their experiences, views, feelings, and needs. The attention part is being able to stay present, open, and unbiased as we receive the other’s words—even when they don’t line up with our own ideas or desires.
Paradoxically, being good at listening to others requires the ability to listen to yourself. If you can’t recognize your own beliefs and opinions, needs and fears, you won’t have enough inner space to really hear anyone else. So the foundation for mindful listening is self-awareness.”
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences ― good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage”. ― Brené Brown
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves ― slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Christopher Willard writes about informal mindfulness practices for those of us who don’t have five minutes to contemplate a raisin. “I can still remember the raisin from that first mindfulness class I took in a family friend’s basement office, almost twenty years ago. I myself was only 20 years old and that first awe-inspiring taste of that raisin onward, I was hooked on exploring mindfulness. I walked out of the basement promising myself I would eat every meal like I ate that raisin. Fast-forward just a few hours, and I as eating my dinner as mindlessly as ever. I have however kept up with a few mindful meals to myself each month, and been exploring ways to bring more mindfulness, informal mindfulness into daily life.
Eating as mindfully as we do on retreat or in a mindfulness course is not realistic for many of us, especially with families, jobs, and the myriad distractions around us. This is not to mention that our friends, family and colleagues might not have the patience to eat with us as we take five minutes with each bite. So have some self-compassion, and consider formal mindful eating on retreat and special occasions, as well as informal mindful eating in your daily life.
What I want to offer in this piece is what I call more mindful eating, perhaps “informal” mindful eating as opposed to formal mindful eating. Especially during the craziness and stress and extra food of the holidays, that Halloween to New Years stretch in which are more likely to eat mindlessly than mindfully. Here are six simple guidelines to keep in mind to discern between mindless and (more) mindful eating, and bring our bodies and minds back together.”