Monthly Archives: June 2014

Finding Faith In-Between

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I recently finished reading a memoir that struck a pretty big chord. It’s about an early 40-something year old woman who’s filled with questions about life and is searching for a sense of faith amidst them all. Perhaps you can relate to this, too?

The memoir I’m referring to is titled, Devotion, and it’s written by Dani Shapiro. Here’s a particularly resonant paragraph:

“My various rituals—the yoga, meditation, thinking, reading, Torah study—these were disciplines. They had become, to some degree, habit. But it was in the space around these rituals that Faith resided. It was in the emptiness, the pause between actions, the stillness when one thing was finished but the next had not yet begun. Paradoxically, this is where effort came in, because it was so hard to be empty. To pause. To be still—not leaning forward, not falling back. Steady in the present—not even waiting. Just being. Could I just drive the car? Just cook dinner? Just walk the dogs in the front meadow and take in the rustling trees, the chirping critters in the distance? Why was it so difficult? So scary? Why does something that should be effortless require so much effort?”

That last line really sums it up for me… And it might seem like an oxymoron, but doing nothing is one of the hardest things for me to “do.” The pauses between actions often seem interminable. Relaxing in the lulls—a gargantuan feat. My mind always wants me to be doing doing doing. And it’s exhausting.

Contemplating this, I can see how it’s hard for me to trust that things are going to work out the way I intend them to work out without constantly doing something to try and ensure that they do. But I’ve come to realize that there’s no real way I can ensure every outcome of my efforts—no matter how much I do to try (which is related to the post I wrote last month about “stirring the pot“). And I’m guessing this is where “faith” comes in…

Because learning how to relax in the lulls involves having faith that things will unfold the way I intend—and (more importantly) it also means having faith in myself that I’ll be able to handle it if (or when) they don’t.

Tranquility du Jour!

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I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on Kimberly Wilson’s “Tranquility du Jour” podcast, where we chatted about mindfulness, meditation, retreat experiences—and of course, tranquility! Click on the image above for a link to the podcast online. Enjoy! 🙂

The Courage to be Gentle

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I was flipping through some old “draft” blog entries I’d written a few months ago that I half-wrote and never published—just keeping them for a day like today when I didn’t feel like starting a new blog post from scratch… And I came across an entry I’d saved back in March entitled “The Courage to be Gentle” that contained the poem below. I have absolutely no idea who wrote the poem (I’m fairly certain it wasn’t me)—but I think it’s beautiful, so I’m sharing it here with you today.

THE COURAGE TO BE GENTLE

It takes a lot of courage to be gentle in the face of things I find challenging…

Embarrassing…

Humiliating…

I want to harden

When I’ve made a mistake…

All I want to do is ROAR…

It takes a lot of courage to be gentle.

To admit my shortcomings.

Now I soften.

I can certainly identify with wanting to harden when life feels difficult, or when I’ve made a mistake or feel embarrassed in some way…. My body automatically tenses in these situations—and so do my emotions.

Hardening feels like my body’s way of creating a protective shell—or armor, if you will. And, I can see how, in some circumstances, it can be beneficial (setting boundaries to protect myself from toxic people, for instance). But, for the most part, I’ve come to understand that hardening in order to protect my ego from getting hurt just cuts me off from receiving the love and acceptance I usually need (from both myself and others) in order to truly learn and/or heal from the situation.

Softening, instead of hardening, might feel counterintuitive (and uncomfortable) when our egos get bruised. But doing so is an act of courage that just might benefit both ourselves—and those around us—in the long run.