Compassion Creed

“May you be content with yourself, just the way you are…”

This line, one of my favourites from a Saint Terese of Liseaux blessing, makes me choke up every time I recite it in class. I am not sure whether it’s because I so deeply wish that those in my life and classes could believe this and feel their wholeness, worth and beauty, or if it’s that I long to believe this myself. A little voice inside tells me it is both, that the longing is in me for all of us to feel whole and complete: to feel like we are enough without needing to do more or become more to justify our existence.

My practice in recent weeks has been to consider that perhaps everything, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, is exactly as it should be. Including me. Nothing to change or improve: simply a practice in accepting and allowing myself to be, well, myself. Man oh man has that been a challenge. My insistence to dissect and analyze is like a bad habit. My addiction to deprecation, as in self-deprecating inner monologue, is surprising me in its compulsion. This practice has swiftly introduced me to my inner bully, the voice of my mind that says never enough, no matter what the outcome or cost. I could be winning a Nobel Prize and my inner bully, also known as IBSC (itty bitty shitty committee) would have some horrid remarks to inflict about my works, and ultimately, how undeserving I am for any recognition. It’s appalling in fact, the things I am willing to say to myself, the abuse I am willing to tolerate between my own two ears.

For those who don’t know, I have ankylosing spondylitis, or spinal arthritis. A long journey got me to this condition, and I will share more on this in another post. Last week, my AS flared up with pain in my body and I watched myself drown in confusion and dissolve into IBSC completely; I lost Lindsay. She was drowning. The doubt drowns me, suffocates me and cuts me off from the truth of my experience. During this unraveling, I tried to repeat my mantra: “I did my best. Everything is just as it should be. I am perfect exactly the way I am.” It was so hard to hear it amidst the violent noise in my head; the practice just didn’t seem viable when I was being bombarded from within. However, something in me knew that this practice was pulling me back from actually drowning in deprecation, and saving me from the psychosomatic breakdown that typically follows it. And so, I felt strangely propelled to continue, choosing to trust and stick with it, albeit desperately.

I suppose it must have helped me because the next day there was a clearing inside, and that space is what led me to write this post…So, here I am, declaring that I would like to oust the IBSC from my house, consider it evicted. I don’t want to spend any more of my time, thoughts and brain power on the confusion of deprecation, worrying, wondering, doubt. I don’t want to expend my energy on inflammatory thoughts that send me reeling into panic, self-conscious over thinking, and inevitably: analysis paralysis.

I want to spend my time on the inquiry- the curiosities that bloom when IBSC isn’t taking up real estate, and I want to pursue these with fierce kindness and compassion at all costs. Even if that cost is not knowing, having NO idea if I can offer what is needed in the situation, or if I will make the right decision. If I truly have compassion towards myself, then there is no danger in the wrong choice, because I will be able to move forward and learn from it no matter what the outcome. If there is no risk of an internal beat down, then I am safe. No one would ever be as cruel to me as I am to myself, so there is nothing to fear.

When I miss out on feeling my heart, when compassion is absent and it’s all harsh and abrasive disappointment, I can’t learn because fear clouds my ability to see myself, and I become overwhelmed with confusion. Confusion is a place of great fear for me. I so deeply long for clarity, for a clear mind, clear heart, clear body. To have this clarity, to me, means peace, and within that so much possibility for fulfillment of my purpose while on the planet.

 

I often teach a class series called Yoga for Calm, Clarity and Strength. That really does sum up who I want to be: Someone who is calm, clear and strong; someone who forgives herself always, and who gives herself the benefit of the doubt. When I dream about the person I want to be, the woman I see is someone who is fiercely resilient. Someone so gracious and compassionate that all you feel in her presence is the strength of her willingness to love you, and herself, no matter what.

I am choosing this to be who I am, today, right now, in this moment. Choosing to love at all costs, to forgive myself no matter what, to surrender judgment and to soften back from analysis when things get tricky. I am choosing to love IBSC too, as she is part of me, and she will continue to show up from time to time, but to let her know that she has served her purpose and her services are no longer required.

The Dalai Lama says that compassion is a deep and kind concern for others. The more we can care for others, even those we don’t know, don’t relate to or don’t understand, the more we can grow a warm heart of compassion. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” And so, there it is. Compassion is my creed. Who is with me?

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From my Fierce Heart to yours. I love you.

Xoxoxo Lindsay

The F-Word

Well it is December 31st 2015, and publishing my blog has been on my bucket list for this entire year. Last New Year’s eve I spent the evening creating a Vision Board and on it I declared a goal of launching a blog. That poster board has been on my wall all year, and I look at it every morning. I have accomplished almost everything on it, except this! The reason I hadn’t tackled it until it until now is simply due to a four letter word that I’ve let stand in my way: FEAR. I have been allowing Fear to rule me, providing an easy excuse not to share my stories, feelings, dreams, wisdom and experience; choosing instead to stay safe in the cocoon of my own mind.

Until today! So what differentiates today from all the other 364 days that have gone by since last New Years? Well, I can definitely consider a few factors that have shifted since that time but that is a whole other blog post. Coming soon I promise! Maybe it’s also the fact that I like to follow through on commitments? I have a few sacred friends who are holding me accountable to this 😉

Despite the changes through this year, one thing that still remains inside me as I write this post tonight is’ The Fear’…yup, she’s still there! However, there is also a little more Trust alive inside with yet another year under my belt. I do suspect that Trust is a main ingredient to this blog’s actualization.

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What is it that paralyzes me? Is it the fear of judgment, the worry that no one will read it? Or the concern that it won’t be just right….ah, yes, the preposterous perfectionism that has bullied me throughout much of my life is what emerges from the dark scary corner. What if it’s no good? What if I get kickback from people or questions? What happens if I share my opinions, experience and MY truth with the world??? This last point is a skill I am just getting familiar with doing, and is fast becoming a daily practice for me.

This inspiring quote was read to me by one of my amazing mentors this year, in the spirit of helping me reflect on how small I live at times, how much there is to step ‘IN’ to, and how holding back can actually be a rather selfish place to live from.

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Although I have heard (and LOVED) this quote a million times, it resonated a little differently with me this particular time. Holding oneself hostage, shackled by fear, is a surefire way to never live up to your potential, and certainly won’t allow you to offer your greatest service/talent/skill/heart possible to the world, or the people in your life who might be the most moved by that very potential. I see how living small keeps us disconnected, it keeps us from allowing ourselves to shine and therefore we are unable to see or support others to shine as brightly as they were designed to.

It’s quite liberating to consider that in giving myself permission, I automatically unshackle everyone else too…that is powerful don’t you think? THAT, is what motivates me. The sincere desire burning inside to help others, to provide a flashlight for the dark times, so we may illuminate one another and see more clearly what holds us hostage, what keeps us suffering.

And as I am speaking here about Shining and coming in to our brightest light, don’t misunderstand me, this illumination business puts a sharp spotlight on the darkness too. Our shadowy side, the side that most of us keep hidden from others, (and likely even from ourselves), exists with as much reality as our brightest moments. In my experience, the more we resist this shadowy Self, the more energy is required to Shine, and the authenticity seems to get lost in the mix, although the effort feels so sincere at times.

With that awareness, The Fear gets a great revival. To Shine, we have to acknowledge and get Real with our Shadow. She requires acknowledgment too, and I can feel how my Shadow is so often barricaded by Fear. And yet, the True emergence of her brings relief, vulnerability, rawness- Freedom. I guess that’s why some say “Freedom ain’t free”; for me, the fee is in the Fear.

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I have spent a lot of life working on shining bright. I spent a lot of years developing my ‘positivity’ muscles, and I believed that negative ones were wrong and bad. I even earned myself the nickname ‘Sunshine’ when I worked at my one and only Union job, barf. (Which for the record, I hated.)

In the last year, my understanding of my identity has shifted. My being, and what is important to me has changed significantly for various reasons. What this year has opened up for me is the Truth that for me to really Shine, I have to share myself with the world; not just the nice, fluffy, and light filled parts of me, but the dark, stormy, ucky mucky muddy parts too. I have to Trust that my Whole Self is worth putting on the line, because at the end of it all-We are connected. By giving myself permission to show up, scared and all, I give you ALL permission to do the same. And as I build Trust and Love inwardly in the process, I give it outwardly and honour it all the more.

To me, THAT is worth the shakey quakey feeling in my fingertips as I publish this first post!!

Deep gratitude to You all, and Happy New Year!

From my Fierce Heart to yours~
Lindsay