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Some Good News About (Good and Bad) Moods

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  I love music. There's a track on the Piano soundtrack titled, "The Mood That Passes Through You." I was always struck by those words put together. And then, I began to experience how it happens--how moods pass through us.

Moods do that. They pass. I didn't always realize that and quite often, I'd get stuck in a panic when a bad mood hit. Come to think of it, sometimes it would happen (and still does) when something good is happening.

Fear and excitement feel the same way in the body. Joshua Rosenthal, the founder and director of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, said that during my training to become a health coach and I loved it.

When I began to study Buddhism and learned the concept of impermanence, I came to know that nothing was permanent--or final. Nothing lasted forever. It goes for feelings that DO feel good. Those are impermanent. And it also included feelings or moods that didn't feel so good.

That's good news, I think, to anyone struggling with difficult feelings. It was for me, anyway. I relied on this during moments of depression, anxiety and when I battled strong thoughts of suicide several times in my life. I remember sitting and feeling so horrible, with a hopelessness that left me paralyzed. It scared me, because I don't usually feel that way on a regular basis. 

I felt that way the other day. I was struggling with a difficult feeling, wanting control or to know a certain outcome. It was also raining outside, it had been spritzing all day and suddenly there was a downpour about 15 minutes before I needed to leave my car. I wasn't late or rushing and I had no umbrella or boots on, so I decided to wait it out and see if it passed.

I sent a few texts, checked my facebook and instagram account and saw some loving comments and notes. Minutes passed. It was time to leave my car and I realized the downpour had passed.

My bad feeling had, too.

I got out of the car and felt the connection so strongly, I figured I'd share it with you. Next time you feel something that is uncomfortable, see if you can remember to sit it out and wait until it passes.

Because the moods pass through you, like a bird crossing the sky or a rain shower, if you just give them a chance to do it. 

What's there for you to see once they do?

 

 

Asking Pema About Anger: Pt. 3/3

When I saw the opportunity to ask a question of one of my favorite teachers, Pema Chodron, (read more about why I was in the same room at Pema by clicking here) my mind started racing. I thought about all the many things running through my head these days. The questions about identity, people, relationships, culture, family, love, food, ethics, politics, religion. You know, the simple stuff. I thanked her for sharing her natural gifts of humor and humility. Then, I referenced Jarvis Masters who is on death row for a crime he didn't commit, and she visits him often to speak with him and shares stories about him. He was watching tv during lunch one day and the volume was turned down. He told Pema he saw the KKK demonstrating. Then he saw politicians on the floor debating some legislation and they were yelling at each other. Then the news changed and he saw Greenpeace activists and they were also yelling.

And he said to Pema, "I've learned something tonight. They all have the same angry faces."

This was my very question for her: how can I be a good activist, most specifically a health and wellness activist, despite global and national issues, circumstances or interpersonal interactions that bring up my anger and rage? I asked how I can support myself and others in living happy and fulfilling lives, and not give way to the anger and resentment that comes up when faced with the many injustices in our world today, or just in simple, everyday life.

"Good question," Pema said. "That's an excellent question."

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Anger is a tough topic to talk about but it's something we can ALL relate to, no matter who we are or what we are dealing with in life. I feel such passion for relieving the suffering of all beings. In fact, bodhichitta was the topic of the retreat I attended that particular weekend.

It's what a bodhisattva does, after all. We are activists for peace, love and happiness.

She says we can only do so much for the bigger issues as individuals and this feeling of helplessness can sometimes be the root of our anger, frustration or aggression. Whether we are advocating for marriage equality, cleaner water or animal cruelty, our stance on religion or less hate crimes, breastfeeding in public or who is making dinner and doing the dishes. This remains clear:

The aggression we cause in day-t0-day interpersonal experiences can often undo the very positive change we seek to engender.

When faced with anger within myself or from others, Pema advised me to ask questions.

Pema suggested nurturing a sense of curiosity instead of rage, anger, blaming and shaming. I remember when it felt right to me to be enraged as I noticed things I'd never be awake to before--in the world, in this country and in my own family of origin. But anger hasn't been effective for me. Now, I'm giving curiosity a try.

Instead of coming from conviction, no matter how well it is defined or how real it seems, ask questions to cultivate the open heart and mind needed to bring more love and joy into the world. When we come from a place of shame and blame, attached to a sense of "being right", we only contribute to the suffering of the world--starting with the ones we love most or interact with on a daily basis.

What do you think?

What issues do you feel passionate about that can stir up some anger or feelings of frustration?

How do you deal with anger when you feel it? Have you found those methods to be effective?

 

What would you do as an alternative?

 

 

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

DAY 2: LEARN

Wow. It’s almost 2011. Today’s the last day of 2010; what are your intentions for a year of possibility and promise? What valuable lessons and experiences are you taking with you as you begin a blank page for the next chapter of your life?
As I mentioned on Day 10 of the 10 Tips to 2011 countdown, 2010 was both a blessed and difficult year for me. I had to come to terms with a lot of painful memories, experiences and realizations. I made some poor decisions and I had to reconcile with the consequences. In many instances, I chose poorly when it came to food, relationships and finances. I reflected on fear-based decisions and their effects in my life.
Having spent a few months realizing and thusly forgiving (myself and others), I am ready to move forward. To do that, I have been investing time and energy into learning several new ways of living and loving for this new year (and the rest of my life).
Many people aspire to make changes in their lives but feel limited by degrees from institutions they do or don’t have, access to finances to acquire those degrees, gatekeepers who block their progress and/or the clarity for the next best step in life.
The best way to heal and make changes for the better is to learn new skills to change the habits, conditioning and thought processes that got you where you are. A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein goes something like this:

“the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

In other words, make small changes to actually see changes in your life. Keep doing what you’re doing to expect more of the same, for better or for worse.
Something to remember is that you don’t need a degree or a certificate to legitimize you, nor do you need to spend a lot of money to learn and grow as an adult. Public libraries, the World Wide Web and your friends, colleagues and peers all serve as wonderful resources for unlimited means of learning and growth.
I desire more maturity, positivity and abundance in my life and I intend to meet those goals by expanding my understanding of:
1)   Buddhism. I continue to study the origins, philosophies and practices of what is a truly healing and centering part of my life.
2)   Non-violent communication. It isn’t perfect and it is the product of the mind of an educated, straight white man, the most privileged identity in our society. I use my experience with anti-racism and anti-oppression to filter and then apply his ideas  and I am seeing profound changes in my life.
3)   Integrative nutrition. The more I practice this with my clients, the more I need to learn and practice it in my own life. The more I embody what I preach, the more I encourage and inspire others to heal themselves from the inside out.
4)   Anger and forgiveness. Poignant revelations for 2010. I aspire to move forward to have less of the former and more of the latter in 2011.
5)   LGBTQ health statistics and projections. In order to effect change in the lives of more members of my beloved community, I want and need more data to support my work. As a marginalized community, that data is difficult to find. I may need to buy a magnifying glass and a bloodhound.
What are 5 things you are currently learning about (or intend to) in order to live a more evolved existence? How are you going to seek out resources in your community to actualize this goal?