The short version of this post has already appeared on my Facebook page—that glorious cyber-venue that has kindly forced me to cut to the chase and just say it in 849 characters or less (or they amputate with a hacksaw and plug in “See more” plus those three dubious dots that most who live with dignity and purpose won’t touch).
Right here. Facebook post/cut-to-the-chase version:
I'm fascinated by the outright aversion people sometimes feel toward the concept of self-love. Like it's a weird, freaky, even shameful thing to indulge in. If this is you, I invite you to the least gushy version of self-love you can scooch into. Don't imagine a beatific face beaming at you & telling you you're a perfect divine nugget-beam of love & light. How about just sitting kindly, even neutrally, with what you're hating right now, whatever you disapprove of or think isn't okay about a sensation inside you, a story of you, a cringy glimpse of yourself someone else tossed your way when you weren’t ready to duck? Could you just watch that dispassionately & tell yourself, “Hey, typical human stuff, Self. It's okay. There’s nothing wrong with you.” The beginning of the end of self-abandonment.
I could now go for more brief instead of expounding. Haiku anyone?
Dabbing my heart clean--
Fool to have poured honey there.
Damn tissue in shreds.
Bullet points, then (because there’s always more to say, isn’t there, especially about what it means not to abandon yourself ever again, and bullets can make a bunch of brief points in a row):
What does it even mean to abandon yourself?
You’re in self-abandonment when
Simple antidotes? In a nutshell, stave off self-abandonment by living in self-honoring ways and responding quickly when something feels off.
Catch yourself in self-abandonment—kindly, not harshly. Appreciate that you’re getting conscious about what needs your conscious attention. This allows you to course-correct quickly.
Don’t allow momentum to build where bad feelings are concerned.Respond to them more quickly at ever more subtle levels. Interrupt what doesn't work for you and go for what feels truer and better.
Tell the truth to others. Have boundaries and speak them to others whether they’re thrilled with them or not. Don’t drop your boundaries when people push against them, and don’t freak out, either. That’s what people do, so someone will; no need to take it personally. But there’s a great need—your own well-being and authentic living are at stake—for you to hold any boundary that you’ve gotten clear about needing to draw. (Need a coach for boundaries? Well, I could be that coach. There’s also my amazing friend and colleague Kelli Younglove, who has a special gift with this topic.)
Put yourself to bed kindly, so you can wake up trusting life, and trusting that you’re on your own side.
Remember who you are, and don’t buy old stories from others. (Watch the family-of-origin definitions coming at you, and duck! When you need to, stay away entirely. You get to define you.)
Be willing to show up for whatever's happening. I'll close with an illustration of this point from Facebook, posted last May:
I refuse to carry around the feeling that this shouldn't be happening, this day shouldn't be going how it's going, this snafu is such a detour or setback, etc. etc. If it's happening, here it is. I want to align with it. I know I'm not aligned if I feel frustrated, I'm frowning or tensing, I'm getting irritated with human beings. Catching any of these is my cue to pause, reset, allow. What's happening is what's happening, never mind how unpleasant, unexpected, unwanted. I trust that whatever life hands me is worthwhile for me to give myself to. What could I benefit from letting go? The illusion of control, the religion of efficiency, the expectation customer-service people should make it all better at once? I want to show up for that. I want to show up for my life, wherever it takes me right now.
Keep showing up for yourself, whatever’s up, however you feel: self-abandonment no more.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Put yourself to bed kindly, lovingly, as you would put to bed a beloved child.
Would you put a child to bed hissing in their ear about what’s wrong with their face, how scary the world is, why they won’t amount to much? Just a guess, but you might instead go with a lullaby, maybe a good story, sweet murmurs of love—anything kind, gentle, and comforting. I invite you to put yourself to bed that way too. As someone who used to struggle with insomnia and take all my woes to bed with me, I’ve loved coaching others in making bedtime truly kind and likely to promote the rest we all deserve. Five easy steps follow, including in step 2 the ABC’s of addressing what needs addressing so you can put it all down for the night!
1. Sleep is the best reset button: make conscious, intentional use of its power.
Take sleep very seriously as the most fabulous (and free!) reset button at hand. Part of what sleep does is pause your current sense of identity and your preoccupations with your life’s conditions to date. If you let it, it can clear the slate every day, allowing you to come back to the truth of who you are—which has nothing to do with these current conditions. By not taking today’s batch of woes, fears, critiques to sleep with you, you allow a new opening each new day, upon waking, to the truth of who you are, and all that this can translate to in the realities of everyday life.
Go to bed with the intention to release, rest, and rejuvenate—intention is powerful. So don’t stumble to bed in a cloud of whatever’s-on-your-mind when you’re ready to drop. Be conscious about what you put down and let go, and what you take to bed with you.
2. Do not admit worries or to-do lists into the bedroom: Easy as ABC.
It’s typical to lie in bed reviewing the worst of today and fretting over tomorrow. Maybe throw in a slo-mo replay of that awkward misstep at the dog park, flash to your favorite childhood humiliation, then take another spin around the globe as bleakly highlighted by the news industry. Ready for something kinder? Make it a rule (or a grand experiment) to take none of that to bed—not admitted.
Here come the ABC’s for minding before bedtime what actually needs your attention. Ideally, consciously give these your time earlier in the evening, then let what occupies you for an hour or two before bed be what you enjoy, what nourishes you, what you love to do and think about. However, if five minutes at the tail-end of the day is all you’ve got sometimes, take five before bedtime grooming. Just sit with paper and perhaps a calming beverage to give a nod to today’s completion and jot down a few notes for tomorrow.
Address practical matters.
If it serves you, glance at tomorrow and write down to-do lists and priorities. Put the thing thrice remembered and forgotten on the calendar so you trust you’ll get to it. (Now forget about that oil change or IRS call in good conscience.) Dash off the text that’s really not so hard to write—but does crack the ice that keeps you stuck. In other words, if you can do one quick thing to begin or complete a task (rather than make a note about it), do that. Now you’ve done what you’ve done for this day: it’s enough, and it’s all good enough.
Be with emotional stuff.
If something emotional from the day needs processing, journal it, talk it out, or take it to a bubble bath. Set up future bolstering by sending the scheduling email to the right support professional or making a date with a friend. Since you’re (absolutely) not going to take it to bed with you, do make it worth your while in the evening (your heart is worth your own time and attention). Set yourself up to let tender matters go during sleep hours by letting yourself know they’re being tended to.
Consciously be done with today and open to tomorrow’s total potentiality.
Go to bed with nothing in tow about today or tomorrow: you’re done. You can reinforce this on the physical level by moving slowly and deliberately as you groom and change for bed. When thoughts of this day or the next offer themselves (and you know thoughts—they will), don’t engage. Just say, “I release you” or “Done!” or “Shop is closed.” There’s nothing more to do, fix, or figure out. Things in flux? Feeling like a work in progress? Of course. That’s how a human life goes. Your day is still complete; your mind has no more job to do beyond aligning with rest.
I like to start watching my breath as I head bed-ward so I’m already cultivating a meditative mindset. This, too, supports treating sleep as a full reset, entered into consciously. As you step into your bedroom, make it a ritual by saying out loud, “This day is complete. Tomorrow, all things new, all things possible.” As you say this (or your own phrase that sings to you), believe it as much as you can. Feel it, as much as you can. (It’s enough.)
3. Only good thoughts allowed in bed, and only briefly.
Lying in bed, if you must think at all, only review what you love about your life, what feels good, what went right in your day. (Remember, you’re putting yourself to bed as you would a beloved child.) Flash to moments of loving the beauty and brilliance of people, plants, and critters in your daily world—your own bright, shiny moments included. Honor your completions and notice what was satisfying or glorious. Review hugs and hilarity, easy connections. Whatever nice things you pull out to polish mentally, please keep even this kind of thought to a minimum. Some people love a good gratitude list, so reel off a few gems, if you will, but get in and get out.
4. Drop into love, and let love drop you into sleep.
For whatever conscious time you’ve got left (whether seconds or hours, depending on your tendencies or the day), give your full weight to the mattress and to gravity, releasing every muscle to all that supports you. You are held. Give yourself to love.
Think in terms of lying in the arms of love. You are a child of the Universe: see yourself as Source sees you as you drop into the unconscious realm. Call on whatever you know of love right now and let everything else go. Love is ever-available, as it’s the essence of who you are. (If this trips you up on a bad day or through a hard era, create spaciousness here by looking away from being loved or receiving love—hard pass on a life review of love, please. Just hold the feeling of love in the easiest, most innocent way—even your love for an animal, if that creates no resistance, or for your favorite painting, tattoo, or tree—and allow that to be enough.)
5. Use the breath to support your intentional letting go.
Make a lying-down meditation of your last conscious moments by watching the breath. Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out. I call the breath the only balm you can apply from within: feel it as a healing salve moving through you, easing you into sleep, or simply supporting your rest. (Don’t worry about how much or what kind of sleep you’ll get—breathe into full rest.) Following the breath will help you keep out of your head, too. Remember that the mind does what it does, so it’s not about staying with the breath or staying out of thoughts—just come back to breath right now, one more time, now, and now, and now. It’s working if you’re willing to find the breath one more time in this moment, as many times as it takes.
Sometimes if there’s something compelling or tricky in my world and I catch myself thinking about it in bed, I just remind myself it’s not time to think: it’s time to lie in the arms of love; it’s time to follow the breath and appreciate how it calmly ushers me into rest and sleep. I often then notice that I haven’t even felt the mattress yet, so I tune in to the physical sensations of giving myself to gravity, and this allows my return to these reliable and nurturing bedtime tactics.
Rest well, dear one.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Scroll down to #6 if sleep is your greatest challenge.
1. Your little life still matters. In the midst of all this big political stuff, and in the face of evidence that certain peoples are suffering or will suffer more because of the current powers that be, still, believe that your little life still matters. Of course you don't want to go all insular right now and forget about the good of all concerned. But some people stop tending their lives altogether at times like this! Others get sloppy in the tending, let go of countless kind details, forget to infuse their home and work space and inner world with love—and that omission won't support the good that can be directed outward. Still others let go of what really matters to them, treating the passions that activate their life force like frivolous (rather than life-sustaining and soul-supporting) matters. Hey, there were bad things happening before, and you were still willing to polish your boots and give time to buzzy creative endeavors that make you lose time! Until you die, whatever ebbs and flows around you, tend your beautiful life.
2. Speaking of death, use the current state of affairs as the current support to face and get okay with your own mortality. The Buddhists (this just made me laugh as it reminded me of how Trump says "the gays") (the Buddhists love me)—they suggest that we keep our death in view every day. This does a number of things, like keep us real about impermanence, our own included, and promote presence: I'm still alive today, so how can I love (or at least tune in to) every minute of it?
When people express their greatest fears about the current regime, it's clear that these get pretty extreme: they go all the way to total annihilation of the human race and perhaps the earth. So (I know this is radical) what if you got okay with life on earth as impermanent—the human experiment and the earth experiment as time-limited from the start? Let's say somebody's going to be here when that grand ending occurs. What if it's you? What if you were willing to be in those numbers? What if death is so okay in the grand scheme of things that even the deaths of hordes of people at once can ultimately be okay in the eternal scheme of things?
I hope you're not reading in anything I'm not saying. I'm not justifying genocide here. I'm not proposing you shouldn't care about the Earth or life on this planet. My intention is to help you let go of having to ward off death either for yourself or, ultimately, the whole human race or the planet, so you can get on with the business of living. In fact, you can live boldly and beautifully, truly voting for what you want with all that you think and speak and choose and do. If horrible things aren't what you vote for, then don't think and talk about them, picture them, rehearse them, discuss them, carry them around in your twisted gut or raw chest, and fall asleep envisioning them! Let go of what you can't control, get okay with your death (yeah, why not, every day) and go about the business of living an inspired life.
3. Please, don't use a president you disapprove of (or fear) as an excuse to revert back to old habits that you know are self-destructive, or go back to the ex you know isn't the right match, or hang out with friends who bring you down, or make any number of wacky, self-sabotaging choices as if personal insanity were a reasonable response to the unreasonable (and perhaps insane) in politics. No no no no no. At the risk of repeating myself, keep living like it matters (and sure, dance like no one's watching, while you're at it). Are you having one more glass of wine than usual? Try one less, and maybe one more bubble bath.
4. Use this time to keep learning more deeply and consistently that you can (and are better off when you do) focus on where you actually have agency. Take responsibility for your life, your state, what you cultivate internally that you then put out to others, and what you do for the greater good in smaller or larger arenas, from your household to the world. I know I sometimes harp on Byron Katie's three kinds of business (quit yawning) and I did include a whole chapter about them in my book (chapter 7, Getting Out of Overwhelm)—but that's because it's seriously liberating (no, seriously, LIBERATING) to get very clear about where you do and don't have agency and to put your energies where you do and only where you do.
Aaaaaaaaall your efforts aimed at what you can't control (including worrying, agonizing, talking about how we're all screwed, etc) can only exhaust and overwhelm you, and will not likely lead you to right action or a good life. They won't set you up to offer your best support to those in need, either. There's a reason the famous Serenity Prayer is all about locating what you have the power to change and letting go of what you do not.
5. Use this political climate to keep learning more deeply and consistently that you get to control your own focus and your own state. A president you don't like doesn't have the power to keep you from joy, clarity, kindness, alignment, or anything else—unless you turn that power over to him (I use the gender-specific him here for obvious current reasons). If you consume a steady diet of bad news; if you join in or eavesdrop upon spoken or written conversations centered around fear and focused on what we're against; if you fail to draw internal mental boundaries that can keep out what isn't here when it's not here—then you yourself (not the current politicians in charge) are responsible for your misery and eventual ineffectiveness in supporting, promoting, creating the climate you want. (The Focus Wheel from Abraham-Hicks is my favorite tool for choosing and redirecting my focus.)
6. Use this time to keep learning more deeply and consistently that you get to control your own sleep. (In the beginning of healing ruptured sleep, this means surrendering to lying awake and using that time well, for deep rest and lying-awake meditation, so that in not grasping at elusive sleep, you can gently call it back.) There's no use lying awake nights because you don't like what's going on. It's so much kinder to get rest. Again, don't give a political regime you disapprove of the power to keep you from your well-being.
Here's a link to audio and written sleep resources I've put together for anyone troubled by sleeplessness for any reason.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Invitation not to let bad sensations accrue, not to allow untended thoughts to take you down the rabbit hole! Prioritize feeling good: this will connect you to your guidance system and let in the inspiration of the moment to keep moving toward love.
1. Take a breath. Take several conscious breaths. Watch the breath go in and out. Get absorbed by the breath.
2. Go outside and breathe there. Look into the sky. Experience what's out there with all the senses you can engage.
3. Exercise. Stretch. Run up & down the stairs. Go around the block. Do anything to move your body and focus your attention off the mind and on your marvelous capacity to feel, move, inhabit a human body. Find someone on YouTube to guide you through some qigong or yoga or whatever. (Here's my favorite simple qigong sequence with Mimi Kuo-Deemer.)
4. Stay away from work, even mentally. Leave it alone and see what seeds sprout later. You've already given it great attention. Celebrate that. Let it go.
5. Feasting for the holidays? Chew more, taste more, give yourself full permission to eat whatever you choose to eat. Take long breaks between times of food intake—not to be righteous, but to enjoy the contrast and to be hungry again when you eat more.
6. Do the unexpected, have an adventure, go somewhere you've never been, do something appealing that scares you or goes against how you see yourself.
7. Meditate, even for 5 minutes. You could even exit (physically or mentally) during a conversation you don't want to take part in and just watch your breath go all the way in, watch it go all the way out, and keep coming back to the breath when you stray.
8. Call someone you almost never talk to, or haven't talked to in a very long time, or even the one you've believed is too far from the last contact to justify any lasting connection: you connect if you're drawn to. (Follow the inspired impulse, not the thoughts about it.)
9. Having a hard time? Tell yourself or another or write down all the reasons why this hard thing you're going through is perfect, the best training ground for what you know you need to develop in yourself. This is a moment to keep applying your own belief system, to take further whatever you've been experimenting with to live more consciously and be healthier and truer to yourself.
10. Unplug for a day (or days) from any computer activity, phone apps, social media. Include news in the exclusion. Walk away from political conversations if that feels better.
11. Sleep. Nap (30 minutes or less to stay out of deep sleep, 90 minutes for a whole sleep cycle). For naps and nighttime rest, be sure you go to sleep with a consciousness of RESET, of all things new/all things possible when you wake up.
Want a bonus? Mind your feeling states! Bored? Irritated? Stung? Get more interested in how you feel than in the thing that made you feel that way (the apparent cause). Just take care of yourself, and move toward feeling better.
Love & blessings, Jaya
I so often say these words to clients: Bring it to now.
There are so many brilliant ways to apply this phrase to step into greater ease, to drop torments, to teach yourself your life is manageable—in short, to set yourself free. Some examples follow, but I invite you to come up with your own, and lots of them. Apply this to anything!
How do I deal with the overwhelm of this huge, horrible challenging project (assignment, creation) I'm up against?
By dealing with the part of it that's before you right now. Don't deal with the whole thing from start to finish. Don't deal with tomorrow's part or next month's part or the part you have no idea about five steps down the line. DON'T EVEN CONSIDER THE OUTCOME. Deal with the one doable part before you here and now.
Sometimes, it's time to look at the whole, get the overview, map it all out on a timeline, define and delegate the parts, and so on. In that case, the one task of the moment is taking that bird's-eye view. Then and only then do you need to get out the whole kit and caboodle and spread it out for your perusal. But notice how often you do this out of turn, checking again to rev up the angst and to make gloomy-doomy predictions for a bad end you don't want! Bring it to now: do what's really up for you to do right now, and bring your best presence and greatest sense of ease to that endeavor.
What do I need to work out about my past?
Nothing—unless something from your past shows up right now. Then meet it head-on. Meet the pain, meet your thoughts that intensify the pain, ferret out anything you've decided about life, yourself, or other people because of that story you lived. (“Mind the Pain Body, Tend the Mind” is the substantial and super-practical third chapter of my book Scooch! that treats this topic.) I've come to phrase this, The undoing happens in the moment. That moment is now. All you need to process your pain well and untangle the stories it's tied to; all you need to live your life well (and joyfully!); all you need to get your needs met—it's all right here, right now.
How do I stop dreading the future?
Bring it to now. Is there something you don't like right now? Be with that. Be with it well. Be with it kindly, and don't tell yourself any lies. That's enough. When you're energized and excited about your life and all that's possible, all you'd like to create and connect to next—that's a fine now moment to take a little trip into the future, and then come on back to consider how to point yourself that way right now.
I'm so ashamed about … I'm so thrown off by …
When some small embarrassment or warped, oversized shame-thing grabs you (we've all got one, we've all had one activated in the not-so-distant past, maybe earlier today), come back to now. What are you in charge of now? What can you control (that's truly in your realm of control) right now? Can you forgive yourself more deeply right now? Can you soothe yourself like a kind, loving parent practicing unconditional love right now? Can you get out of someone else's head and what they saw and what they thought and what they think of you right now?
Bring it to now, and see how much kindness you can step into in this moment. Quit dragging yourself back to some shameful, painful, confused moment that does not (it absolutely does not) define who you are. I love how Byron Katie says that she loves being slapped, because it's over. The slap happens once and fades quickly, but we replay it again and again mentally, reliving the shame and all that a slap in that moment from that person before those witnesses means to us. She points out that the person who slapped us once turns out being much kinder to us than we are to ourselves, because we slap ourselves a hundred times over. Come back to now and what's actually happening now. Come back to the kindness of the moment.
How do I keep all the turmoil in the world or political process from getting the best of me?
Bring it to now. It's fine and good to have times you witness what's happening in the world, but never forget that the news isn't giving you a balanced view of things, and don't keep hanging out in the dismal spot it last took you to. Remember that the media displays the most provocative and sensational of what's happening out there, always slanted a certain way in the presentation. When you're not consciously seeking to be informed as best you can, get present.
Life is also a sink full of dishes, a walk with the dog, a moment to listen to your kid tell you something you wouldn't even care about for a moment if it weren't this particular human being doing the telling. Life is a good cup of coffee, a dance down the hallway, a moment of hard laughter over the purely absurd. Get present to the mundane beauty and magic that's right here, right now, and truly validate and value it: this is your personal life, the specific one you were given to tend, yours to mind in the moment with as much love and presence as you've got, even as the storms happening out there rage and simmer on.
Here's a bedtime trick for bringing it to now (and waking up in a good, clear space, and living a more powerful life):
Get out of tomorrow. If you must review what needs to be addressed tomorrow, do it before you even enter your bedroom, never mind climb into bed. Get out of today, but do that after you've spent a bit of time going over triumphs and completions large and small. Notice with appreciation all you did that was good, or brilliant, or even good enough. Take a moment to feel and really take in what you moved through and brought to the next step or even to a close. (Do you, like most people, deprive yourself of acknowledging and celebrating what you've accomplished?) You might also notice all the kindness that came your way. Byron Katie taught me to notice all that supports me. Start counting the supports that came to you today, and it may be hard to stop. Did clean water really just come out of a faucet because you turned a knob with minimum effort?
Once you've been with the day in that way, let it go. Come back to now. Find how the mattress supports you, how the pillow allows you to let go, how the blankets envelop you not just in warmth, but a sense of safety and well-being. Find how the darkness holds you. Imagine you're lying in the arms of love. Let go of every muscle you don't need (all of them) for holding it together right now and let yourself be held. Let go of thoughts, even if they won't let go of you, by not following them sequentially. Get off every thought train you catch yourself in. Come to love the unfinished thought! Use the breath to support you. Drop your awareness into your belly (not once, but again, again, again, now, now, and now) and watch the belly go up and down with the breath. Find what's soothing and kind and life-giving in your breath. There's nothing like connecting to the breath to help you connect to here and now.
love & blessings, Jaya