Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
Now I believe there are different forms of nothing...which some might argue might actually be something...but it works for me. Some call this meditation...some argue that meditation has a goal and doing nothing has none...but does it really matter if the end result is the same?
There is the actual nothing where you turn off all distractions and just stop for 5 minutes and live in the moment. If a thought comes you acknowledge it and let it move through you but you don't focus on it. You don't think about what you have to do but instead, you just do nothing.
This is the hardest part of doing nothing for me, turning off the endless white noise chatter running through my brain. A thought will pop up like, "So and so is having a birthday," and my rational mind will start thinking about gifts and where to get them.
My nothingness mind will have to say, "Shhh we are doing nothing now. Her birthday will still be two days away after our 5 min of doing nothing and the opportunity to take care of this problem will still be there and we will address it when we are done doing nothing."
This is the same way I quiet my mind at night when it wants to think about things. Eventually, you break through to that voice, I'll call it the ego, and it lets go. It s a subtle shift but I can feel it when it happens because suddenly everything is relaxed and at peace. At night this is where I fall asleep if I am doing nothing this is where I just shift. Sometimes I only feel it for a moment. But once a week I take a long bath in my fabulous tub o' bubbles and colors and in that moment is pure bliss.
There are moments like this when I write, knit or play a game where I become so immersed in what I am doing that everything around me and within me is quiet; only the moment exists. So, in reality, I am doing something but I do it with such a focus that has that same effect of when I do nothing.
This photo came from our family Minecraft romp last week. They added bunnies and I'm always happy to try out new things and figure out how they work. So here is a shot of a bunny stalking me through my window because I am holding a carrot. Cute no?
But this picture really brings home the message of doing nothing to me. If the bunnies are your ego and the carrot is the internal chatter in your head. Do you your thoughts invite the ego in to belittle and harass you? I know mine do.
But I have to remember, that much like my picture, I am behind a wall of protection. The bunnies cannot get to me unless I let them. The more moments that I spend in the present moment instead of worrying about the moments before or the moments to come, will help to limit the negative voice of the ego.
While the ego's role can seem very negative, the ego's alignment is neutral. This is the part of your mind that responds with a voice to whatever life you have created and tries to maintain that view with whatever means necessary. It is like a day planner and will use gentle persuasion and then get more and more negative as it is ignored. This is why I acknowledge it and let it know that I have heard its demands but right now I am doing something else. This way if it heard and then you actually take care of the thing it is concerned with as you agreed to do then the voice softens again.
The ego then is the creative part of the mind that follows the path of your thoughts and tries to get you to implement them one way or another. It is really a partner that is trying to create the world that we have envisioned for ourselves in any way it can.
How does the ego's voice become so negative then?
I believe the negative voices don't come from the ego alone. The voices that float through our head and say stuff like, "You'll never be good enough," or "You're stupid," or whatever yours say, come from things we have heard and latched on to and decided for one reason or another to believe about ourselves.
Our ego latches on to these things because it believes that we believe them and then uses them to motivate us not knowing that it is harming us in the process. Because if a negative belief gets a result, it will use it, again and again, to obtain the same result not knowing that it does real damage to our psyche.
You never know which messages will stick and become a part of your belief system. You can be praised your whole life for being intelligent but one kid in 2nd grade calls you stupid and it sticks like a thorn in your metaphorical paw. Then anytime after that moment when you are not quite getting something or you make a mistake then you use this negative moniker to describe yourself. Eventually, it becomes a habit and part of your white noise that ends up rattling around in your brain.
Even when you get straight As on all your papers and then an A on your final thesis your mind keeps that single negative word to describe your learning process. You try everything to change that word into something new and positive but it keeps popping up time and time again. Why is it easier to believe the worst about ourselves than to believe the best or even a better version of ourselves? How does one stop this negative cycle once it has started?
Since the above example is my own negative cycle; I can tell you what I have done to try and at least quiet this negative voice. It must be noted that once you have a negative cycle, I'm not sure it ever really goes away. I think the voice gets quieter at times but like all self-work, the relationship with yourself is a constant work in progress and you will have good and bad moments.
1. Do something that takes you into the present moment: yoga, meditation, nothing...for me that can be reading, listening to music, watching a movie, sitting in nature (esp the ocean), knitting or gaming.
Anything that totally occupies your mind will quiet the voices. Many times in a movie, book or game I get so engrossed I totally forget that it is just a story.
2. Have an attitude of gratitude.
Thinking of three things every day that you are thankful for can shift the negative voice towards a positive one. For many years I kept a journal and it was gratifying on a really bad day to look back over all my precious blessings. Now I have an online app I use but the idea is all the same.
We sponsored a child who was happy to have a tin roof so she could stay dry in a storm and the animals could too...just a roof, no walls. But her happiness shined through her words; she compared herself to royalty since she had this roof. And when the storms were very bad she was thankful she could invite others to stay dry under her roof.
We sponsored a woman in a war-torn country who was able to learn how to start a farm and become self-sufficient through our donation. She was so happy to be able to provide for her family and then have enough to sell as well so she could save to put her daughter through school.
As I sit writing this on my computer, in my house with AC, with our cats, with food in our kitchen and family surrounding me; how can I not feel blessed...how can I not be thankful?
Just 3 positive things a day will bring your focus into the good in your life; it can change how you see everything.
3. Smile, laugh...have fun.
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Smiling releases neuropeptides which in turn activate neurotransmitters that relax your body and lower your blood pressure. Endorphins are also released which ease pain and serotonin is released as well which helps lift depression and elevate your mood...all from a smile!
A smile can be contagious and if you are smiling chances are they might smile back. If you are in a place where you are finding it hard to smile, find a movie, a picture...something that makes you flash those pearly whites and use it to uplift your mood.
4. Surround yourself with positive people. Everyone should have people in their lives who they are happy to be in the presence of. These people don't try and change you and accept you for who you are, warts and all.
5. Help someone else.
When you aide another then your focus is removed from you. There is this great feeling you get from helping someone or something less fortunate than you. In helping others you are giving a blessing to yourself.
It doesn't have to be grandiose in design. You can hold a door for someone. Let someone in front of you when you are driving on a busy street. You can donate old clothes to a shelter or torn sheets to an animal shelter. There are a myriad of ways to give. You can donate time, money or talents. You can lend an ear when someone needs to unburden their soul. You can really listen when a spouse or child has something to say. You can give love to a pet. Write a letter to a friend or write a thank you note to someone who inspired or helped you. Do something randomly wonderful that blesses someone. The ways to give are limitless.
For it is in giving that we receive.
- St. Francis of Assisi
As we work to create a light for others, we naturally light our own way.
Mary Anne Radmacher
6. Do something you love to do.
Sing your favorite song. Watch your favorite movie. Have a games night. Whatever it is that makes you happy, do it.
I realize that Ash Ketchum and Pikachu may not be your idea of something you love. But the bond between Ash and his Pokemon will always evoke a positive emotion from me...and I just adore Pikachu.
Find your something and cherish it.
7. Remember no one is perfect. Everyone has bad days. Everyone feels bad, falls down, makes a mistake, and gets in a funk once and a while. Don't dwell on it and move on.
8. Create a new reality.
In reiki, I have learned that you can go back to the moment of an event and in effect, relieve that event in a different way so that you can see it from a different light. I have been able to do that with a few of my deeper negative tapes that played in my head and it really works for me.
Just because someone said something about you that doesn't make it true. You are what you are and no one can label you. If you let them, then you certainly can un-label yourself just as easily. They are all illusions anyway, even if they feel so real. They are just words, not truths.
The truth is that I am not stupid. That voice in my head that keeps saying that the first time I don't get something, or when I get lost or when I drop something...is wrong and not helpful at all. I am working on a new voice, a mantra that I say when that "stupid" word pops up.
"I will figure this out."
You see I am fabulous at researching and cross-referencing information. I love doing it. I am really good at it and people will ask me to look stuff up for them all the time. So if I don't know the answer or I don't understand what is going on, I can look it up...I can figure it out. This is a truth that my negative voice agrees on.
I've always taught my son not to give up; that the answer is out there somewhere. It may take time and you may have to learn some new skills but eventually, you will be in a place where it will work out. He will cite back to you my month-long Zelda experience of trying to beat a yeti's time in tobogganing. Every night for a 1/2 an hour I would sled. And I failed each time: but I also learned something about making a turn tighter or shaving a second off by jumping. Some nights I would get closer some I would be farther from my goal than ever. But I never gave up.
And one shining day I beat that yeti and earned that piece of a heart that upped our health so we could finally go to the final boss and win the game. *insert happy Zelda noise here* The point is that I figured it out. The answer is not always easy but that doesn't make me stupid. Edison figured out 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb before he actually made one: and he was brilliant.
You can change the way you see yourself. Don't let someone else's words decide who you are. You are a work in progress there will always be things that you don't agree on about yourself and that is fine. But realize that there are also wonderful and beautiful things about you too.
Just to be brave and bold I will tell you three things I want to change about myself and three things that I love about myself.
1. I wish I was not scared to try new things
2. I wish I could believe in my self like my family and friends do
3. I wish I could finish things that I start before I start something new
1. I have a spiritual core which radiates through in everything I do
2. I care about my friends and family and will help them in any way I can
3. I am very creative in a myriad of ways
I'm not sure why I decided to write about all this. It is in part with a talk that I had with my sister and then my son. It is also in part because the passing of Robin Williams really struck me. He filled my life with such laughter and joy. We quote him all the time...he will be sorely missed. It is also in part because this week marked the anniversary of my parents and my Mom's birthday.
I feel. My Father always called me simpatico because I was always emphatic to a situation. Some people listen to a song and it changes the way they are at that moment; me, I read something or sense someone's feelings and it effects me. I have to go to great lengths not to absorb other's energy and make it my own.
But there are all these people that we see each day who are feeling things that we can't see. On the outside, they seem fine, but inside they are struggling.
Everyone struggles with something at one point in their lives, if not every day... the reality is hard enough...don't let the illusionary negative track get you down. You are special. You are unique and even though I might not know you personally...I give you a healing hug and pray that you find your light...a way through your darkness...a spark of hope...a smile or a happy thought...a kind word...or a new connection with a Higher Power that you can lean on until you are able to walk on your own again.
In knitting news, I am struggling with this beautiful pattern Sunburst Spectacular Shawl. I am making it out of the color-changing cotton Wolle's in the Carnival colorway. The pattern is beautiful the yarn is beautiful but the knitting it is really hard for me. I still have trouble seeing little details because of my floater and getting older I guess. This yarn is amazing; she takes 4 threads and slowly changes each to a different color so you get this beautiful transitionary color change. Mine goes from magenta to green to a dark blue.
Sorry, the picture is really bad, but it was hard to photograph as hubby and I were laughing as we took the shot. :)
The problem is that there are 4 threads to keep track of for every stitch and sometimes they want to stay together and sometimes...they just don't. The S2KPs are the hardest. I really have to slow down and pay attention that all 8 of those threads make it over my knit stitch.
So it is slow going but I love the lace and the colors and how it is working up.
I wish you all love and light and unexpected blessings.