Re: What exactly is safe to do now?
Date: March 11, 2020 10:34PM
> Allalong, this is a great question that I wish
> more people would ask themselves. I have gone down
> more than a few rabbit holes searching for
> practices and techniques that make sense,
> delivered by trustworthy people. it's not easy to
> navigate those waters when you're searching for
> connection, healing, understanding, etc. I have a
> few ideas to consider.
Resilient, thank you very much for your reply. It helps to hear I'm not the only one who has gone down those rabbit holes.
> Ask yourself what need you are looking to meet and
> be very honest and clear on it. For instance, you
> can do yoga on your own or in a class setting. If
> you feel you need the particular format of yoga to
> maintain health, then even a simple set of sun
> salutations and basic hatha asana is often enough.
> Follow your natural breath.
That is a great question. I enjoyed the peaceful energy you get being in a yoga studio. But I see what you're saying--I can also experience that at home just doing basic asanas myself.
> If you're looking for a social atmosphere, or if
> you need to follow a teacher, do your research and
> find the right teacher for you. Yoga is just one
> way. You can always organize your own
> walking/hiking group and do some stretches
I do enjoy the social aspects of it, too. I could always take a class or two at different studios to see what feels right. A walking group is a great idea.
> Regarding meditation, there are many types of
> meditation and you need to ask and know what the
> purpose is/what the effect is and don't take the
> teacher's word for it. The most basic mindfulness
> meditation from the Buddha's satipatthana sutta is
> very stratightforward, and is close to what's
> taught in JKZs workshops. There is no mantra or
> transcendence, and it helps you learn to
> understand and trust the wisdom of your body. I
> was fortunate to find a great teacher who laid
> everything out in context and with the fundamental
This sounds perfect for me. May I ask how you found a teacher?
> Once you start doing guided meditations, you're
> introduced to alot of "extra" and the instruction
> is often problematic. Don't do any practice that
> causes you to dissociate or trance. Unwanted
> physical and mental effects are always a risk.
This is exactly what I need to avoid, because it is like a false sense of "calm". This is why I haven't gone back into meditation. Do you have suggestions for what type of practices to avoid--how to know if a certain practice will cause you to dissociate or trance? Even at a yoga studio I used to go to, I found that just the few short minutes of chanting would be trance-like. I enjoyed it, and I thought it was making me peaceful, but I realize it was not a good state to be in.
> Regarding essential oils - just enjoy a few
> fragrances as add-ons, much like you would use
> incense. Aromatherapy is a specific sensory method
> that can help you stay in the present (embodied)
> and comfort you when emotions and anxiety get
> distracting. Tuning into immediate environmental
> sounds is another method. Music works wonders.
> Working with senses - It's all mindfulness.
I didn't realize the connection with oils and staying present. But I did find that focusing on my sense of smell just seemed calming. I do often listen to relaxing music on youtube and that is very soothing. I remember reading something about using all of your senses for mindfulness.
> Spirituality is the sticky one, right? You
> mentioned a list of spiritual mentors, but Pema
> Chodron is also from a lineage of abuse and
> debauchery. I have ceased hitching my wagon to any
> lineage, but that's a personal choice. I do my
> best to cultivate universal virtues of honesty,
> kindness, equanimity, patience, etc, but it's not
> easy. We all get fed up, angry and selfish
> sometimes. It's part of our humanness. Keeping
> things simple has been my practice. I try to not
> take myself too seriously and focus on being of
> service to my family and a benefit to society.
Yes, spirituality is definitely where I still get tripped up, in that I'm not sure which practices to do. I didn't know Pema is from a lineage of abuse--thank you for letting me know this. I don't want to follow one particular guru, but I did want to have some sort of list of "safe" people to learn from. However, I think after reading your post, I see more clearly that I can just follow mindfulness techniques, and not spiritual techniques. I also like your point about character traits you try to work on. The spiritual group I was in taught me a lot about those which I'm grateful for. But I'm putting my own spin on it now that's best for me which includes allowing myself to have healthy boundaries, inner strength, and assertiveness now too.
You bring up a very important point about "humanness". I think these groups take away our humanness and makes us see it as a bad thing, but it's not. What makes us human is part of the life experience. But we can be better humans just by being more self-aware. And we don't need to follow spiritual groups to do that.
Coincidentally, I am also working more on just keeping things simple. That's helped me better than any group or guru. All it took was my therapist to say the words "simplify your life" and I started to read more on how to do that. I also realized whatever it is that I do to simplify my life, it's up to me to not obsessive about it. Just like what you said about doing some basic yoga asanas. If yoga helps me to stretch and relax, I can keep that practice simple.
> I place a lot of trust in natural cycles and
> whenever I feel overwhelmed or bored by a practice
> I just give it a break. It is good to drop
> everything once in awhile, rest and feel how you
> are in the natural (especially if you're
> experiencing uncertainty or not feeling well). You
> can pick up your practice again any time.
I never thought of this. I fell into the trap of, if this is good, more is better. I truly love this idea of just letting your body and mind be, and then checking in internally to see what practice feels right to do.
> Change is good, and you're free to do what you
> want or do nothing! It is always a good idea to
> consult a trusted professional for talk therapy,
> manual therapy or whatever you find helpful and
> supportive. Do your best to trust yourself to make
> the right choices - nobody has all the answers for
> you, you might make mistakes, and you'll figure it
> out as you go. Don't be afraid to try new things
> and change direction as you please. It's okay to
> go against the popular stream. Enjoy your life!
Ironically, I've known since I was young that I have a strong intuition and gut. It was other people who didn't want me to trust myself. But going back to trusting myself, versus the soft cults that told me not to do this, is definitely key to healing. And to give myself permission to not be perfect with this, but to make mistakes and continue on, is what I need to do.
I will try new things. I have a few things I've wanted to try again, that made me feel good but GROUNDED.
I've never been one to care about if I went against the popular stream, although there were times in my life I was better at this than others.
Your last sentence reminds me of something a now deceased relative wrote to me.
Thank you for an extremely helpful reply. You've helped me make so much more sense out of how to continue to move forward from here.