Flawed but not Fatal

Last week I wrote that one way of dealing with what we term our flaws is to face them honestly. This may lead to sharing of a secret, whether it’s an old embarrassment, an unfulfilled desire, or something we never told anyone about. Based on one reader’s response, let me clarify. We need not share with anyone but ourselves, or a few trusted confidantes, like a therapist, spouse, partner, or friend. We may want to express our flaws, which can feel like deep disappointments or fears, in the privacy of our journals. The key is to express, as in lift up and out of ourselves. Think of a flaw as an opportunity to rid ourselves of something that no longer serves, like an unflattering high school yearbook photo we don’t really look like anymore. Here’s a contemplative approach to flaw recovery and transformation:

1. You may use this with a complementary approach, such as Focusing, Tapping (for tapping steps, google or go to http://www.suerasmussen.com), or EFT (emotional freedom technique). Find a half hour or so of quiet time.

2.Sit comfortably, with paper and pen by your side. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Connect to an inner stillness before calling up the particular flaw or issue you want to address. Recover any memory that might be associated with it. Examples might be going back to a moment on stage when you experienced stage fright and forgot your lines, or when you admitted having a crush on someone and were rejected; what were the consequences or decisions of these events?

3.Get a sense or picture of this flaw and its impact, for instance, never going back on stage or applying for a job you don’t think you’ll get. It’s fine even if your memory is vague or fuzzy. Stay with it a few minutes. Write down words that come if you wish, like “I’ll never do that again.” Sometimes writing will bring greater clarity.

4.Be with the flaw in an open, gentle and non-judgmental way. Ask: “How can I be with you today?” Wait for a shift or an answer, then ask “Can I release or transform (name it) now?” Then, play it forward in a potential scene. For instance, all your fear of public speaking may not vanish, but you will give one speech. You don’t have to be effusive, but you can tell one person how you feel about something important. If no scene comes to mind, take a walk or a break and try this another time.

5.Take a few deep breaths to ease any feelings of stress and relax. If you like, repeat a word or  mantra, such as “Peace,”  “All is well,”  “I lovingly accept myself right now,” “I am courageous (free, content, etc.)” Enter the rest of your day with a fresh outlook and open heart.


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Flawed and Not Apologizing

I wanted to apologize, but then, I don’t believe much in apologies. They can be so lame. That said, I am sorry for not blogging for these last few months. My “flaw” as a writer is to have too many ideas and balls in the air, and too much life to live. Actually, this is a good way to be, but writing takes time, and sometimes life is far more interesting and unpredictable than anything we can write about. On Dec. 22, 2013, I became a grandma to Micah Simon Lewis, the happiest diversion I have ever encountered. I won’t gush on here (save for another time and similarly besotted grandparents), but his birth has been a shining light in an otherwise wild winter. What I have noticed, and the world shift watchers and star gazers may confirm, is a huge shift in consciousness. Two apparent patterns: 1. People who have lived a lie or “under cover,” wanting to look good in society, will have their covers blown unless they confront their deepest fears and avoidances. 2. People who consider themselves “late bloomers,” seekers, explorers, off the beaten pathfinders, who were less invested in “looking good” but perhaps more invested in “feeling good” and transforming their planet, are starting to get their due. Still, people in this group also hide–sometimes its their light, or who they truly are.  

I will write more about this and post. But first, a visit to my grandson. I really can’t resist. For now, look at, under, and around any of the covers that are starting to slip off. Denial, control, false humility? What secrets have you been hiding? How do you plan to reveal or not reveal them, for the good of all concerned? What’s to gain or lose? 

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Be Flexible, But Not Too Much

Be Flexible, But Not Too Much.

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Be Flexible, But Not Too Much

Sometimes too much flexibility can be too much of a good thing. This is true in the case of my knees and hips, which after decades of yoga, have become over-flexed. Whether we are set in routine physical or mental patterns, the benefits of doing things the same way wear thin and over time can cause dullness or pain. Check out your own physical habits of sitting, moving, standing, etc. I started breaking the habit of sitting cross-legged on the floor in half-lotus. Instead, I sit with legs straight, ankles crossed, for part of my meditation time. This and other conscious moves throughout the day have “reversed” my knee pain.

If you sit on sofas or chairs that are too comfy or deep (especially if you are a woman and shorter than 5’5”), use cushions behind you, or better yet, switch to chairs that allow you to rest your feet on the ground. Don’t go all soft or collapsed in “couch potato” posture (asana). Vary how and where you sit. Make sure office chairs are best aligned to your computer or work station, and not causing undue neck or shoulder strain.  If you walk right foot first, aim for left foot first. My friends and students have reported great results from these littles shifts all week.

We can easily change or take care of the physical, or first level of consciousness, which the Kabbalists call “Nefesh.” Moving up the ladder to effect mental or emotional change may prove more challenging. Try this one today:

1.Assume your best, seated posture. Rather than breathing in and out using your usual technique, go for something deeper, wider, longer, or simply practice awareness of the breath. Allow the breath to breathe you for a few minutes.

2.To change a habit of mind, reflect on a mental loop or tape, a way that you think about yourself in some context. Common examples include: “I’m no good at…” (unworthiness), “I wish I was more like…” (comparison), or “I can’t do that/I’ll never change/I always fail at…” (fear/fear of success or failure). Give it space to speak and then guide it along with a gentle question or reminder, as in, “Oh, so you feel this way now? What about the time when (recall a positive event that disputes your failure theory)?“ Drastic surgery to excise negative thoughts or tapes, or ignoring them by shoving them into a box, usually doesn’t work. One exception is in using the ruthless yogic practice of mentally “cutting the negative thought at its root.” This can be very helpful in breaking a negative addiction, like smoking. You refuse to go there, or even think about it for a minute. 

3. Finally, let go of thoughts that have come up and your efforts to change or redirect them. Dwell in wordless essence or Source.  You can bring yourself to Source by letting go of as many judgments and identifications as you possibly can. If need be, listen to the sound of your humming heart or use a mantra or visual tool to help. 

Because tonight is the Jewish Holy Day Yom Kippur, the day of At-One-Ment, put last years’ “atonements” to rest. Vow to live more fully from Essence and less reactively from physical and mental habits that have worn out their welcome.  


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Shadows at Bay

Shadows at Bay.

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Shadows at Bay

Last week I was taking photos on my new i-phone at several beach sites on Shelter Island, Long Island. Sky and water were blue and clear and the near-deserted beaches sparkled with sunlight. The rock-strewn sand’s earthy hues provided nature’s palette at its best, along with surprisingly long “human” shadows of the photographer. Later, I pondered over these shadows–they were there but not really “real.” But then again, what is real and what isn’t? Are shadows figments of our imagination or tricks of the eye, and if so, what about all our thoughts and perceptions about “reality?”

Which goes to show where a simple walk on the beach can lead. Eventually I  redirected my figuring out brain to wonder at the delightful elements I encountered. Catching myself from the pull to describe, I could gently rest, free and uncluttered, in the embrace of nature. See if you can be, just for a few moments, in the free expanse of pure, conscious awareness.

Eyes open or closed, inhale and exhale deeply until you feel a shift in your energy or a slowing down of thoughts. You may wish to listen to your heartbeat or breath, or silently repeat the mantra “so ham,” breathing in “so,” and out “ham (‘hum’).” As you glide into being, let go of doing. Observe your thoughts without becoming overly interested in or attached to them. Guide yourself back to mantra, breath, or watching your thoughts as desired. 

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