“Life will break you.
Nobody can protect you from that,
and living alone won’t either,
for solitude will also break you with its yearning.
You have to love.
You have to feel.
It is the reason you are here on earth.
You are here to risk your heart.
You are here to be swallowed up.
And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near,
Let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps,
Wasting their sweetness.
Yesterday I found a new role mode, in an Elephant Journal article by Robert Sturman about The Guiness Book of Records reigning oldest living yoga teacher, 93 year old Tao Porchon Lynch. As impressive as her strength and flexibility are for someone of any age, let alone a nonagenarian, it is much more than her physical prowess that enchants me about this radiant being.
For not only does she love yoga, but also wine and dancing the tango.
In a interview with Tara Stiles-Parker, she credits her longevity and zest for living to proper breathing and making a concerted effort to think positive thoughts, along with a nightly shoulder stand before bed each night. She eschews fear and procrastination, simply doing the next right thing without delay.
She beams and twinkles with a light that simply dazzles me.
“Smile at everyone”
She advises as she illustrates the phenomenal magnetism of her charismatic charm.
This is how I want to live my life.
Waking up grateful for each new day,
thrilled by the prospect of all that I can learn,
all the wonderful places and beautiful people to be met,
making the most of the great gift of life
and blessing all I see with a smile.
Sweetheart, I’m so glad you reached out to me. I hear that you are hurting.
I’m so sorry that life is really hard right now.
I have time for you. How can I support you right now?
Where are you? Can you find somewhere quiet and safe that you can lie down on the ground?
Take a breath.
All the way in and all the way out.
When you feel ready, become aware of the floor underneath you. Mother earth, holding you in the palm of her hand.
Let go, let her take your weight.
Relax. Feel everything soften as you sink in to the support of the earth beneath you.
Feel peace spreading inside you, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.
When you feel ready, can you open your eyes and say hello to your toes?
Notice your feet, your legs and send them some appreciation for carrying you this far on your journey.
Take another breath.
Put one hand on your tummy and the other on your heart.
Can you feel your heart beating?
Let yourself notice the beat of your heart, the one constant thing that remains.
Be an empty beach at the end of the day,
The echoes of the childrens voices have faded away
and all that remains is the whisper of the surf,
As the waves go in and out, like the breath,
In and then out.
Bring your awareness to your face now.
Pay close attention
Can you feel the breath here? Going in and out.
Can you feel the warmth of your skin, radiating out in to the air?
Wait, listen, can you feel something else?
It’s the softness of a hundred butterfly kisses,
Tiny kisses of love and light.
From all the invisible loves that surround you.
And love from before,
Love from ahead,
And love from beyond.
Feel it now. Open to this love and see it surround you,
Let it fill every cell and dry every tear.
Hear the celebration for every moment of your being,
Your strength and your courage, your big, beautiful heart.
You are safe, You are loved
You are safe, You are loved
Inspired by my best friend Lauren, who is always there when I get lost, with her timeless, patient, peaceful wisdom to guide me safely back to shore.
Before I moved last time, I made a determined effort to go through my possessions and get rid of anything and everything that didn’t fall into the category of useful, beautiful or sentimentally valuable.
I tried hard to be ruthless and sold and gave away a lot of stuff. But, in spite of my efforts, I still ended up with a sizeable amount that moved to my new basement, where it has taken up residence on my to-do list ever since.
With the second anniversary of my move into this house approaching, my conscience finally got the better of my procrastination and I started to tackle this seemingly simple task that I find so daunting.
Going through the basement is not just about the furniture that hasn’t found a home or the boxes of random chargers, cords and clutter. It’s a bittersweet trip down memory lane when I open the boxes that reveal remnants of once precious moments.
In reviewing these familiar things, I am also noticing my feelings and noticing how they have changed since the last time I brought these souvenirs into my present consciousness.
Looking once again at love letters from a past relationship, I can see how much healing has taken place because this time I experience tenderness and appreciation, instead of the anger and resentment I remember feeling the he last time I held them in my hands. Finding a picture of my dog who died, I am grateful to sense that my grief for that loss is beginning to soften.
The hardest thing this time has been looking at photographs and artwork from my children, which used to bring pure joy. Touching and holding these treasures today has brought me face to face with the pain in my heart from missing my children which challenges me to the depth of my being.
Yet as painful as it may be, I am also aware that this is a fundamentally healing process. I have been looking at these hours in the basement as a voyage of self-discovery, to help me to become conscious of what I have been holding on to.
The objects I have chosen to keep speak about what has been important to me. The relationships I have had, the roles that I have played, the feelings that I once experienced.
As I evaluate each item and whether it’s time to release it or whether I still want to keep it, I can ask myself the same question about each thing that is symbolized.
Of course, I don’t want to let go of my most precious memories of my children’s childhood, but I need to face that my role in their lives has changed in order to be able to move forwards and step through and out of the grief that has paralyzed me for a while now.
What’s in your basement?
One of the biggest relationship mistakes that people make is to express anger instead of fear or sadness. That anger often arises from a sense of betrayal derived from the idea that an unwritten rule has been broken, the thought being ‘This is not what I signed up for’. But more often than not, instead of sharing the thoughts and feelings underneath it all, we ignore the elephant in the room and fight about the symptoms instead of the causes.
For Brad and Julie it all started when they had twins, right around the time he got his big promotion. All of a sudden their worlds were upside down. Between recovering from the caesarian and taking care of two babies with colic, Julie was completely overwhelmed and couldn’t wait for Brad to get home from work to give her a break.
I wrote a post for another blog, which I just discovered for complicated google reasons, I shouldn’t copy here, but I wanted to tell you let you know about it. You can read it here: Breaking Up is Hard to do: 20 Questions to help you know when to let go. (You’re not supposed to put in links that take people away from your website but I think this is some really helpful stuff and I didn’t want you to miss out!)
Relationship Hell. We’ve all been there; once upon a time, you couldn’t wait to see this person, now it’s all gone terribly wrong and you don’t have a clue how to fix it. What causes this miserable phenomenon? How can you prevent it and how can you escape once you discover yourself there.
The most common reason that a relationship runs in to trouble, is the common pattern of falling in love with the potential in a person. We can find that we are essentially committed to a relationship with this imaginary, idealized version of the human being in front of us. Spend enough time focused there, and this fantasy can take on a life of its own.
Inevitably, these worlds collide and the clash between the fantasy and the reality can generate massive amounts of resentment. We can develop a sense of entitlement about the way we “ought” to be treated. We make the big mistake of comparing and despairing but continually holding up our experience against the fantasy relationship and making everyone miserable as a result.
The sense of having unmet needs is fertile ground for a vicious cycle to develop. We begin to observe the amount of (fill in the blank) we are receiving, weighing it up against they way things “should” be, and then begin to wonder whether our partner “deserves” the (fill in the blank) that we have been giving. Our resentment leads us to withhold the thing they want, which results in their reaction to withdraw and then we get even less of the thing that we wanted and remonstrate (or retaliate) by not giving the thing they want and so on and so forth.
Check-mate. So what can you do to stop the madness?
Firstly, one of the most useful pieces of advice I can give you, is to install a mental pause button or time out switch before you react to anything, Curb your impulsivity, no matter what degree of provocation you are experiencing. Take some slow deep breaths or even walk away. There is very little useful information to be gained from exploring anger. Anger is just a messenger, the solutions lie in discovering and acknowledging – even to yourself- the deeper feelings below the anger – which is usually some kind of fear.
Once you have taken your finger off the trigger, try something different, here is a list of 6 interventions to try.
#1 Let go of your expectations
That imaginary boyfriend, (girlfriend, husband, wife, partner etc) that wouldn’t be doing any of this isn’t real. Expectations are the root cause of all suffering. If you didn’t have the idea that things OUGHT to be different, how would it affect what you are thinking right now?
#2 Be present
We got so caught up in both holding on to stuff from the past and fears about a future that doesn’t exist yet that it is easy to miss the present altogether. Try focusing in on the now. Try looking at your partner with fresh eyes. Put aside your resentments, judgements and opinions and pay them some attention. Not just some in fact, give them one hundred percent of your undivided attention – with eye contact!
#3 Be honest
The truth will set you free. Be honest with yourself and with everyone else. We waste huge amounts of energy in denial and/or trying to manipulate the situation into being something other than what it really is. Radical Honesty is the key but please remember to speak kindly.
I always say “Find someone to talk to who doesn’t talk”. Be that person for your partner. Stop being stuck on transmit. Bite your tongue if necessary. No interrupting. See how things shift when you give each other the respect of being willing to hear whatever they want to say without repercussions. Which means no responding, or defending in return.
#5 Give what you’d like to receive
It’s easy to be loving when it’s easy. Loving when it’s hard is what really counts. Love when you are tired. Love when you are angry. Love when you are bored. A romantic gesture when you least feel like can bring miraculous results, not least by making you feel good about yourself.
#6 Be vulnerable
Be willing to show how hurt and scared you are without covering it up with anger. Stay and stay open when you want to run away. Stop trying to explain, justify or defend yourself and most importantly, give up being right.
Each of these interventions can be very powerful by itself. In combination, they create a powerful set of skills to bring to the table. Maybe even more importantly, is that regardless of the outcome, practicing these techniques will help you feel better and feel better about yourself during the process.
Share this list with your beloved. Since what you are doing isn’t working anyway, why not suggest something different? Above all, always remember that the only person actually under your control is you.
To leave a comment, please click on the title. If you liked this post feel free to share it and you can also sign up in the box on the top right to receive new posts automatically by email.
Evolution equips us with the desire to learn from the perils we survive. Once bitten, twice shy; yet this pre-historic instinct designed to protect us from predators and poisons, really doesn’t serve us when applied to affairs of the heart. Take Alice. Alice has a broken heart. Like a clock that stopped, it’s frozen in time, hands pointing fixedly to the moment three years ago when she found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her. Alice would really like to meet someone. More specifically, she would really like to meet someone, get married and have children, sooner rather than later. But she is not even dating right now and the reason is because she is stuck. Immobilized by her shattered trust, the torment of the unanswered why, the bitterness of betrayal and the abject terror of being so hurt again.
Alice has a heart so tender, sweet and generous. She is a sweet girl who enjoys being a girl, inside and out and yet when men meet her, they don’t find her feminine at all. The tension of all that unresolved emotion has taken up residence in her body, you can actually see it in the jaw that aches from night after night of being clenched so tight. It’s as if the fear and pain has been there so long that it has become hardened over time, solidifying into a rock-hard protective shell around her heart, mirrored by the layer of extra weight she has cloaked her body in. Trying to meet a guy in this condition is incredibly difficult, the metaphor that comes to my mind is that it’s rather like belly-dancing in a suit of armor.
For a woman (or man) who identifies as feminine and seeks a masculine counterpart, openness and softness are powerfully attractive attributes to embody. Ironically, it is being vulnerable which requires the most courage of all.
Perhaps the most important step in the process of healing a broken heart is to make a conscious decision to stay in the present and to remember that our past does not dictate our future. If we don’t, the danger is that we show up on the doorstep of a new relationship with a pantechnicon of emotional baggage accrued in every other relationship starting with our parents. To leave the past behind may take work, just because emotional wounds are invisible, doesn’t mean they don’t need tending to or healing time just like physical injuries. Journalling, friends, coaching or counseling can help, but don’t wait for the fear to disappear. Choose to love in spite of it.
Please share this, if you liked it and click on the title to leave a comment.