Article by Dr. Shoshanna
Mindfulness is the practice of having a calm awareness of one's feelings, thoughts and experiences in the present moment, without judging them, or yourself, as good or bad. It means living in the moment and awakening to new experiences. It is part of the Zen mind, and It is one pathway to living a life of your choosing.
The Zen Master
One day an earthquake shook an entire Zen temple. The ground beneath them began to shake, the building collapsed and the monks were terrified. As the world seemed to be falling apart a Zen Master calmly led everyone to the kitchen, the strongest part of the temple.
When the earthquake subsided the Master said, "Now you have had the opportunity to see how a Zen man behaves in a crisis. I did not panic. I was aware of what was happening and what to do. Taking you to the kitchen was a good decision, as we have all survived without any injuries. I had a Zen mind. However, despite my composure, I did feel a bit tense, which you may have noticed, from the fact that I drank a large glass of water, something I never ordinarily do."
One of the monks smiled, but didn't say anything.
"Why are you smiling?" the teacher asked.
"That wasn't water," the monk replied, "it was a large glass of soy sauce."
No matter who we are, when an earthquake hits, we all feel many feelings. They come upon us in different ways, affecting our bodies, minds and hearts. At times an emotion is experienced directly, at other times there is increased heartbeat, sweating, chills, fast breathing, a sense of dread or impending doom.
Then, there are the times when we are not even aware of what we are feeling. Instead, like the Zen Master, in shock, we may feel as though we are in control, but actually not able to tell the difference between a glass of water and a glass of soy sauce. Pursueing a Zen mind is becoming aware of our state of being, which, in turn, leads to clarity, peacefulness and a new form of awareness about our lives.
Being stung by a painful emotion can be like being stung by a serpent: it fills you with poison, immobilizes your senses, and blocks your understanding of how to proceed in life. Therefore, recognizing and releasing feelings is a daily practice to achieving the Zen mind.
The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the less threatened you will feel. Once emotions dissolve, clarity arises, along with spontaneous knowledge of what to do. This actually helps prevent many negative events that might otherwise be able to unfold. Or, if the difficult situation has already appeared, by dissolving your emotion, things calm down, recede and take much less of a toll. On the other hand, when you allow emotions to fester or grow, you may be blowing up something small, or even drawing the situation to yourself.
To begin the process of achieving the Zen mind let's become aware of the many ways which feelings appear, the effects they have upon us, and how feelings camouflage themselves and infiltrate all aspects of our lives.
The Many Faces of Feelings
Feelings are tricksters, they manifest in all kinds of ways; as obsession, confusion, loss of control, or dysfunction in any areas of our lives. Feelings can be triggered by anything - thoughts, beliefs, memories, tastes, smells, unconscious ideas. You suddenly see someone who reminds you of a cruel person in your childhood, and become flooded with fear. Or you are asked to do something you feel uneasy about, and anger arises. Sometimes you enter a meeting feeling good, pick up on the negative energy of others, and your happy mood disappears. Feelings are contagious, suddenly; you too are pessimistic, nervous and glum. When you are in the grip of strong feelings, people and situaions can easily manipulate and control you. We are longer in charge of our minds, or spirits. We are not in a Zen mind.
Realize - it is not the message you hear, but the way you perceive it, which causes suffering. A threating person or circumstance thrives on your perceptions. It needs you to hold true the stories, beliefs, and ideas the situation is feeding you. It needs you to see everything it says as true, as dangerous and life threatening. So, to achieve a Zen mind, we begin by understanding the nature of our perceptions.
To begin you have to look at yourself in a mirror, and not push away unwanted feelings. First, stop and be aware of your thoughts, your surroundings, and your emotions. You must be willing to stand back, make their acquaintance, let go of resisting them, and see them for what they are.
Notice what is going through your mind. Feel your feet connected to the ground. Listen to your breath. You may see an image of your past, or a fear of the future. You may realize a false belief you are holding. Before you can see the truth of a situation, and before you can re-claim your inner freedom and the full measure of who you are, you must stand back and grow to understand how your feelings arise. What triggers your feelings? How do they disguise themselves and take hold in so many areas of your life? When you answer these questions, you become empowered; you have achieved a Zen mind, and can live a chosen life.
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Article by Dr. Shoshanna
When distrust, arises in a relationship there are many factors which can be causing it. Unless we understand where these feelings are coming from, it becomes easy to act out, blame the partner and put all kinds of unhealthy demands upon them. We can even believe that they are cheating when they are not.
When feelings of distrust arise, some begin to create more and more restrictions upon the partner, demand more information and make them feel closed in. This often can be the beginning of the end. In all relationships every individual needs time alone, time with friends and of course time together.
When we take away a person’s individuality and freedom to grow, sooner or later the individual feels trapped. Not only does this destroy your partner’s trust and good feelings about themselves, but they can easily grow to feel that there is no way to ever make you secure and happy.
The best way to develop trust is to take a moment to first understand some basic laws of healthy relationships, and what love truly means.
Loving another person does not mean possessing them, or having them there to make you feel better about yourself. This is not loving or respectful of who they are. Instead we are turning them into an object, who exists to meet our needs. We are then, not loving, but using that person.
We all must develop basic trust in our partners and ourselves from within. If a partner is truly not deserving of trust, then tracking their behavior and restriction their lives will not help at all. In fact, it usually makes matters worse. The person simply goes underground, or finds other ways to sabotage the relationship, in order to gain their freedom.
Some individuals are filled with distrust because they never resolve past hurts about being cheated on in former relationships. They then project this hurt and insecurity upon the partner they are with now. A current relationship cannot take away old wounds. Each person must take time and responsibility to work through what happened and the feelings they were left with as a result of it. Sooner or later they must realize that their partner is different and their situation is a new one as well.
If one requires that their present partner take away the pain they are feeling, they are looking in the wrong direction. No matter how loving a person is, no matter how solid the relationship, they cannot take away pain and confusion that exists within oneself. Each person must face their feelings and work them through on their own.
There are many ways to build self-esteem and to feel safe once again. Just as we work out in a gym each day, we need to work on ourselves emotionally to build the strength we need to combat fear and negativity. One exercise that can be used is - to consciously look for the good - both in your partner and yourself. Whenever you find yourself dwelling upon negativities step back, take a deep breath, and consciously choose to focus upon what is good and right in both of you. This will create calm, balance and positivity.
Doing this exercise, becoming calm and positive will not cause you to gloss over reality, but to be able to be focused and even better aware of what’s going on. Needless to say, in cases where the partner does not deserve to be trusted, when there is clear evidence of wrong doing, if you are calm and positive, you will then be able to make healthier, constructive choices for yourself.
Greeting From Dr. Shoshanna
Article: Repairing Hurtful Relationships
So much hurt and pain arises from our feeling of having been betrayed. Not only does this undercut the foundation of our relationships, but it can cause us to lose trust in ourselves. We blame ourselves for having been deceived, for not being smart enough to realize what has been going on. Trust has been violated. We do not now know what to put our faith in. The following are forms of betrayal in relationships. Check to see if you are involved in them. If so, you will have a key to correcting pain, loss and disappointment in your relationships.
Betrayal comes in many disguises. Cheating in relationships is one of the most common. However, other forms are equally destructive. Little, white lies are common; many fib, exaggerate, and spin tales naturally, as if it were expected. Yet, these little lies also undermine the fabric of our relationship both with another and with ourselves.
There are many ways in which we lie to ourselves and others. It is so important to become clear about this because lying causes us to forget who we truly are, what we are here for, and how to find joy and meaning in our lives. As we lie, we build a wall of fantasy that we become trapped in. We lose sense of our direction and of what is really happening, moment by moment. As we lose touch with basic truthfulness, more lies (or delusions) develop. These begin to seem real. The danger escalates, both to us and others.
Lying includes not simply saying untruths, it includes exaggeration, communicating mixed messages, implying things you do not mean. Lying includes non-verbal communication - acting one way when you feel another. It includes the unwillingness to communicate - shutting yourself off. You are lying to another by withholding the truth of who you are.
When we minimize, dismiss, deny and pretend something isn't happening we are also engaged in lying. Often to ourselves. It takes great strength and courage to look at what is before us, to see it as it is, and go on from there. As we grow able to do this, lies and the need for lying fades away.
Games, pretenses and casual promises not kept, are other forms of betrayal and lying. Whether or not we realize it, we are creating confusion and lack of balance. When these forms of deception become habitual, they become a silent poison, taking joy and fulfillment away in ourselves and others away. A hypocritical person, one who plays games, says on thing and does another. He pretends to be someone he is not. He usually wants honor, acclaim, wealth, or stature that is not his due. This is another way form of deception. Some hypocrites are so lost, they have truly forgotten who they are. When hypocrisy goes to the extreme, we see con men or sociopaths. Beware hypocrites. Beware being hypocritical as well.
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