Limitations & Radical Acceptance

Each one of us experiences times of hitting our limit, and these limits can be in the form of physical limits, mental limits, or manufactured limiting beliefs. Understanding the difference between limiting beliefs and actual physical or mental limitations is vital to thriving. We have the power within us to shift limiting beliefs; where as substantial physical or psychological impediments require radical acceptance.

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Limiting beliefs arise from the stories we tell ourselves. These typically begin in childhood during the impressionable age of four to eight. Something as simple as being told by a teacher that you are slow or sloppy creates tension within the self. For a child, a moment of questioning arises. “Am I sloppy? I must be since an adult – an authority figure whom I have been told is smarter, more knowledgeable (or insert any word consistent with “better than”); therefore, it must be so, and I am sloppy.”

Here in lies the danger. The “I” is not sloppy. Maybe the “I” actions were negligent, but that is a momentary behavior that “I” can change if presented with options or explanations.

Our language imparts the need for more understanding and discernment of the moment’s truth. We must distinguish the doing from the doer. We are not our thoughts, and we are not our actions, but we are responsible for our thoughts and actions. One who is established in discernment understands the ground of being.

We, the experiencer of emotions, thoughts, and actions, need to be aware of the effect of our emotions, ideas and acts on ourselves and others. Through these unmindful actions, we unwittingly impose limiting beliefs on ourselves and others.

Shifting limiting beliefs is rooted in mindful discernment. Having a sense that something is not right, not quite so, is the first step in the process of shedding attachments, in this case, attachment to outworn beliefs and lifestyle patterns. This altering of one’s course is usually a gradual transformation; it requires skillful effort, such as mindful attention and great patience.


For example, as a child, I was told I could not run far due to activity-induced asthma, as I seemed to get winded quickly on occasion. What I heard was, “Kristen cannot run.” Allowing this thought pattern to solidify in my being, I did not think otherwise until I was 27, a year and a half after giving birth to my son; I decided to start jogging to regain my strength and stamina. I thought, what is the worst that can happen? I get out of breath, take a break, and walk. So that’s what I did. On my first jog, I was ridiculously out of breath; my chest was on fire. I stopped and focused on breathing, willing the breath to find its natural rhythm. It did, and I walked the rest of the way, mindful of my breath and body.

I did not pass out, and I did not have any adverse reactions, so I persevered. Releasing my attachment to any outcome, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other until I could not. After a few months, I was able to jog a full mile. I celebrated the achievement as I had, through discernment, discovered “Kristen can run.”

I ran for the next ten years. Running became a passion as it allowed freedom from thoughts and actions. I found a sense of pure being in the sound of my soles slap, slap, slapping the pavement, a peacefulness I had only experienced in yoga or meditation.

Thus overcoming this one limiting belief opened the doors to remove the mental obstacles I had placed in my way throughout my life; the question begged to be asked, “what other self-made challenge could I overcome? The answer was deeply resonant- I could overcome any limiting belief I had constructed: this can be distilled down to attachment to the fruits of any idea, thought, or action. Bear in mind this did not mean I could necessarily run a marathon. Realistically I needed to understand the difference between limiting beliefs and actual physical limitations. My knees would definitely not take running a marathon. Over the 10 years I ran, I accrued much damage to joints, a stress fracture, and a broken bone in my foot. My physical limitation prevented me from running a marathon, not a limiting belief.

For this, gracious acceptance is required. My yoga practice cultivated the understanding I needed for this acceptance.

Please note by yoga practice, I do not mean only the asanas or poses, as is the prevalent understanding of yoga in the US. I am indicating the fullness of the embodiment of yogic principles and philosophy of which the postures are but only a piece of the much more comprehensive practice.

Again, much like shifting limiting beliefs, accepting physical or psychological limitations takes time and patience. Rallying against the natural flow of our life path or playing the victim of our circumstances only creates more suffering. Adjusting one’s view to the present moment allows for space where we may plant the seeds of acceptance. When we align ourselves with the present moment, we can no longer be distracted by the “what if’s” of the past or ensnared in anxiety over the unmanifest future. We begin to nurture the seeds of acceptance with loving kindness and patience.

“In the space we create through present-moment awareness, infinity awaits.”

KMS

As an example, the chronic migraines I experience are physical limitations. Additionally, for the last year, I have developed other symptoms which can impair my ability to speak or think clearly, drive, or partake in activities that bring me great joy, such as hiking and yoga (asana). Prevalent muscle weakness, neuropathy, and confusion, such as forgetting where I am or what I am doing, can be dangerous in specific settings. My awareness of my limitations is keen.

Of course, at the onset, these symptoms were terribly frightening and frustrating. Experiencing migraine from a very young age, I was potentially in a more desirable space to adjust to the additional limitations. Still, canceling plans and adapting from an active lifestyle to one spent mainly on the couch caused anger, resentment, fear, and sadness to arise. I had to sit with my emotions and make friends with the pain and anxiety to overcome dwelling on what I could not do. I needed to invite the sadness into my being and experience it fully to taste its essence in order to mourn what I perceived as a loss.

Losses can be viewed as destruction; through mindful destruction, we create new ideas, paths, and a new view of our predicaments. In my case, it was not the joys of my past that were destroyed but my attachment to how things “must” be. It is not “I love hiking; therefore, I will always be a hiker.” I enjoy the sense of aliveness, freedom, and connection with nature that hiking affords my spirit. This experience and this sense of space can manifest through other pursuits. The destruction of one path provides a clearer view of a new path that is untrod and full of pure potentiality. This potential is available to us in every moment. In the space we create through present-moment awareness, infinity awaits.

I now have a deeper appreciation for the cycles of nature as I see my path reflected in its seasons as I experienced a time of blossoming and unfolding as well as times of mourning and destruction. The two sides of the coin, non-duality expressed in each moment, for life implies death and vice versa.

As I align myself with what my body, mind, and spirit are capable of in each moment, I sense the blossoming of the seeds of acceptance, spreading peaceful contentment through my sacred vessel, allowing appreciation of the nuance and texture of the tapestry of the universe and the mystery of its weaving.


Please note that if you suffer from limitations causing you physical or mental anguish, I recommend talking with a trusted professional.
Start with your primary care doctor if you are still trying to figure out where to ask for help. For mental health assistance: https://jwww.samhsa.gov/

Farewell 2022

Another year has rolled past and for me it was at times a painfully slow roll. It reminded me of a class in college almost 25 years ago. The professor was a mild mannered, aging hippy; complete with ponytail tied, not with a rubber band, but a piece of old leather cording. I was a geology major and just as granola as the professor. He was very knowledgeable and the cadence of the class, stratigraphy, was on par with how long it to for the strata we looked at to have morphed from sand to stone.

The classes and field trips were well planned and enjoyed by most. (As I am sure, dear reader, you are aware that there are always a few humans who need to complain no matter what.) Anyway, about two weeks into classes, as we were learning about the law of superposition, our quiet peaceful professor suddenly turned from the chalk board (yes, there were chalkboards in college-that’s how old I am) and began a rant about his ex wife, loudly, emphatically with gesticulations and maybe spittle.

Then just as fast as it began, it was over and he turned back to the chalk board continuing the lesson as if the whole diatribe never happened. Clearly he was a catastrophist! A uniforitarian would never exploded like that!

These outbursts happened randomly in every class I had with this professor. Initially it was shocking- was he crazy? A few screws loose? Overtime we adjusted to it and it became a normal part of his classroom experience.

The effusive eruptions didn’t make him a bad teacher, on the contrary it showed depth, a story- more than meets the eye. He wasn’t just an aging hippy teaching a bunch of ungrateful kids. This man had a life, hopes, fears, dreams. The outbursts were breadcrumbs leading the inquisitive on down the path of human experience just as the eruptions of pain and confusion I encountered this past year, were breadcrumbs leading me deeper into the mystery of my deteriorating health.

Pitchoff & Balancing Rocks. Adirondacks NYS

By following the trail, patterns began to emerge; both with my health and the life of my professor. Allowing a patience to settle over me- I am able to see more clearly into the patterns of detail. By pausing and stepping back, becoming the witness, I can see the forest through the trees, blossoming with awareness.

The shifting moods, subtle yet complex, were easily noticed by anyone paying attention. My professor suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety. The outbursts were his coping mechanisms when not wanting to take meds; a full release of energy- and a prompt return to normal.

Was there a clue here for me? My confusion, tremors and other symptoms had to be breadcrumbs leading me to the path of healing. I only needed the patience to persevere and not play the victim to my heath. With the belief firmly established that healing begins within, I used these random outbursts of bizarre symptoms to discover the patterns.

If the pattern of trees makes a forest then my pattern of symptoms would lead to a diagnosis. So like any good geologist, I got out my field notebook and began sketching out the layers of life that were impacting or being impacted by my symptoms.

It’s amazing that it takes catastrophe to look at the stratigraphy of our lives . Where is the fault? Where have we allowed the pressure to build to the breaking point. Where can we find small moments of release as to not completely shake loose our moorings later?

These insights along the rocky shore of healing has led me towards deeper inner wisdom and a softening of spirit. Patience, it seems, has been born of cleaving layers of sediment crashing through me. What else can you do with tremors, but ride them out, knowing this too shall pass and calm will be restored once again.

And in the calm lies stillness and elucidation; for from the pressure of living comes forth the diamond clarity of truth – all of life is an ebb and flow of pain, joy, suffering and love; leaving traces of each story to become fossilized in memory.

And in the calm, what I discovered classifying my pain and suffering was a pattern of excess and scarcity. It is between these two extremes a balance can be found. Overdoing it, taking on too much leads me down a path of deterioration. Doing too little leads to stagnation and eventually down the same path of deterioration.

However when conditions hover in the sweet spot between the two extremes; this yields a slow yet steady pace, allowing for the unexpected & reveling in its mystique. Set backs are no longer boulders blocking my way, but a chance to meander creatively around my inner space getting a fresh view, creating new neural pathways.

When we can witness our story, layer built upon layer, lessons and meaning emerge from the patterns. We can learn from our past, adjusting our patterns to create a path of fertile soil which holds within it the sediment of our memory, allowing for new growth and experience to ripple through our lives.

Wishing you a peaceful 2023.

Namaste

Inner Wisdom Meditation

open.spotify.com/episode/03dLyVHoAcJfeMjJeYM76G

Beginning Practice

Practice.

Beginning a meditation practice can be daunting. I have often heard, “Oh, I stopped because I couldn’t stop thinking,” or a similar statement. It’s a challenging stigma to overcome — meditation doesn’t mean your mind is blank, and it means we can lose the attachment to the thinking mind; we release the attachment to the thought.


Beginning a meditation practice can be daunting. I have often heard, “Oh, I stopped because I couldn’t stop thinking,” or a similar statement. It’s a challenging stigma to overcome — meditation doesn’t mean your mind is blank, and it means we can lose the attachment to the thinking mind; we release the attachment to the thought.

When I was first dipping my toes into the meditation pool, the easiest way I found was to view my thoughts as just something happening.

Like this: When you have a thought (it doesn’t matter what it is!), say to yourself, “there goes a thought,” and I guarantee you’ll have another one following right behind-“oh, look more thoughts.”

Thoughts come and go all day long. It’s not necessarily the thoughts that cause us stress but the attachment to specific thoughts. Replaying stressful situations or worrying about the future are both forms of this attachment.

Meditation allows us to learn how to find space and release our attachment to constant mind chatter. Over time, with consistent practice, we are able to sit with a calm mind. Outside meditation, the chatter quiets down, loses its hold on us, and we begin to live more mindfully with less attachment, stress, and worry.

If you are just beginning your practice, I recommend guided meditations as they provide a focal point for the mind’s eye. I have some short guided meditations, perfect for beginners or seasoned meditators, available on Insight Timer for you to explore.

Once comfortable with guided practice, try sitting for 1 minute. Yes, only 1. Trust me. Set a timer. It’s longer than you think if you are not used to sitting quietly. The first time I attempted this, I lasted about 35 seconds before checking the timer!

Patience. Practice. Perseverance.

Namaste.

Shadow

𝖶𝖾 𝖺𝗅𝗅 𝖾𝗑𝗉𝖾𝗋𝗂e𝗇𝖼𝖾 𝗍𝗂𝗆𝖾𝗌 𝗈𝖿 𝖽𝖺𝗋𝗄𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌 𝖾𝗂𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗋 𝖿𝗋𝗈𝗆 𝗌𝗂𝗍𝗎𝖺𝗍𝗂𝗈𝗇𝗌 𝗈𝗎𝗍𝗌𝗂𝖽𝖾 𝗈f 𝗎𝗌 𝗈𝗋 𝖺 𝗋𝗂𝗌𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗈𝖿 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝖽𝖺𝗋𝗄𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌 𝗐𝗂𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗇. 𝖠𝗅𝗍𝗁𝗈𝗎𝗀𝗁 𝗐𝗁𝗂𝗅𝖾 𝗂𝗇 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗆𝗂𝖽𝗌𝗍 𝗈𝖿 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗌𝖾 𝗍𝗂𝗆𝖾𝗌 𝖺𝗅𝗅 𝖼𝖺𝗇 𝗌𝖾𝖾𝗆 𝗅𝗈𝗌𝗍 𝗈𝗋 𝗁𝗈𝗉𝖾𝗅𝖾𝗌𝗌, 𝗂𝗍 𝖼𝖺𝗇 𝖻𝖾 𝖺 𝗍𝗂𝗆𝖾 𝖿𝗈𝗋 𝗎𝗇𝖽𝖾𝗋𝗌𝗍𝖺𝗇𝖽𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗀𝗋𝗈𝗐𝗍𝗁.
𝖶𝖾 𝖼𝖺𝗇 𝗂𝗇𝗏𝗂𝗍𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗌𝖾 𝖿𝖾𝖾𝗅𝗂𝗇𝗀𝗌 𝗍𝗈 𝗌𝗍𝖺𝗒, 𝗁𝖺𝗇𝗀 𝗈𝗎𝗍, 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝖽𝖾𝖾𝗉𝗅𝗒 𝖿𝖾𝖾𝗅 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗁𝖾𝖺𝗋 𝗐𝗁𝖺𝗍 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗒 𝖺𝗋𝖾 𝗍𝗋𝗒𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗍𝗈 𝗍𝖾𝗅𝗅 𝗎𝗌.
𝖶𝖾 𝗇𝖾𝖾𝖽 𝗍𝗈 𝖾𝗑𝗉𝖾𝗋𝗂𝖾𝗇𝖼𝖾 𝖽𝖺𝗋𝗄𝖾𝗋 𝗍𝗂𝗆𝖾𝗌 𝗂𝗇 𝗈𝗋𝖽𝖾𝗋 𝗍𝗈 𝖻𝖾 𝗐𝗁𝗈𝗅𝖾. 𝖳𝗁𝖾𝗋𝖾 𝗂𝗌 𝗇𝗈 𝗅𝗂𝗀𝗁𝗍 𝗐𝗂𝗍𝗁𝗈𝗎𝗍 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝖽𝖺𝗋𝗄. 𝖭𝗈 𝖽a𝗒 𝗐𝗂𝗍𝗁𝗈𝗎𝗍 𝗇𝗂𝗀𝗁𝗍. 𝖡𝖺𝗅𝖺𝗇𝖼𝖾 𝗈𝖿 𝗈𝗎𝗋 𝗅𝗂𝗀𝗁𝗍 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝖽𝖺𝗋𝗄 𝗂𝗌 𝗐𝗁𝖾𝗋𝖾 𝗐𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗏𝖾. 𝖨𝗍 𝗂𝗌 𝗈𝗎𝗋 𝖽𝖺𝗋𝗄𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 𝖺𝗅𝗅𝗈𝗐𝗌 𝖺𝗋𝖾 𝗅𝗂𝗀𝗁𝗍 𝗍𝗈 𝗌𝗁𝗂𝗇𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝗋𝗈𝗎𝗀𝗁.