Posted on July 10, 2014
I like to write about and share my mindfulness practice because it helps me understand it better. These past weeks I have had a great opportunity to practice being mindful of my emotions. What triggered this: The World Cup…oh yes… sounds silly right? The funny thing is that I don’t understand football very much and I rarely can watch a full match. Despite this, the world cup brings an overwhelming amount of feelings and emotions. I am sure I am not the only one out there having this issue right now. Anger, frustration, joy, anxiety, happiness, compassion, hate and many other nasty feelings that can feel embarrassing.
In these moments, the mindfulness tool we can use is : RAIN . This is an acronym for a step process that goes like this:
To RECOGNIZE is to realize what is going on inside you, is it anxiety, sadness or an outburst of happiness? We tend to go through our feelings in such a mindless way that it can be challenging to stop and see what’s going on inside us. Practicing with an event like the world cup can be an easy start because those feelings are not directed to anyone in particular. After all, it’s just a game.
Now you’ll need to ALLOW the feelings, this means you should not push them away, stay with them and let them be what they are. With happiness its easy…yes, more please, but… it can lead us to clinging. Sadness on the other hand is overlooked and many times pushed away because nowadays there is such an ode to happiness that sadness became some kind of swear word. The goal is to stay with whatever comes and accept it for what it is. Don’t judge the feelings as “good” or “bad” they are just feelings.
From there we go to INVESTIGATE. We need now to go a little deeper into our emotions: how does this feel? Is my chest heavier? What is triggering this? why do I need to devour a full bag of chips while those guys hit the ball from one side to the other? I don’t even understand football! The world cup is not about the game. It’s about having a full country rooting for the same thing despite religion, race, political preferences and all the other things that keep us apart. Its about being part of a common conversation. The feelings of “belonging” and “connection” are what create these other feelings. And those are felt physically and psychologically in different ways.
And lastly, NON-IDENTIFICATION. You are not your feelings. This emotion is what it is, it will come and go away, but it doesn’t define you. We all hate, feel sad and helpless from time to time, but it’s up to us not to get caught up and let these feelings define us.
So let those feelings come, greet them, observe them but don’t get attached to any of them, and keep cheering because the world cup is almost over!
For a more in depth analysis about RAIN visit this article from Tara Brach .
Posted on June 14, 2014
Have you ever been able to create an image that looks exactly like the one you envisioned in your head? I haven’t, not even once. Some of my finished images are a little closer to what originate it but many others are a far cry. This used to make me feel bad because I felt I wasn’t reaching my expectations.
I had the idea for the picture you’ll see below this post long time ago. I drew it on stick figures many different ways. Alex got it after I explained it with words.
“Ahhh, I see now, that’s supposed to be a brush!”
The drawing stayed in my notebook for almost 6 months. I stopped thinking about it. I didn’t find the right ladder. Till one day she found me, in the alleyway dumpster, waiting to be trashed or picked up by the next hoarder…me. It was the perfect ladder: rustic and vintage, or should I say, beat up and very, very old. I saved her from becoming ashes and she saved me time and money. A once forgotten idea was back in motion.
There was no need to explain the idea again. When Alex saw the ladder finding its way into our home he said.
- Wanna do it today? There are clouds out.
Stairs, paint brush and paint bucket in hand and off we go to the cliffs.
20 min after that we were done and enjoying the sunset. The sun sneak thought the clouds last minute before hitting the water. Everything turner red for a couple of minutes.
Is this image as I imagined it in my head? Not really, not at all but it doesn’t matter. It’s the story behind it that matters. It’s the ladder coming my way, the almost forgotten idea, the sunset after the shoot, it is knowing I have someone always game to go out and have fun taking pictures.
So here you have the finished image…tadaaa!!! and yes…I painted the birds myself, guess I can do some kind of drawing.
Posted on June 1, 2014
We plan, we pack up, we take the ride, we arrive, it is stunning, we take out our cameras and start shooting. We want to show every one later how fun and exiting our last experience was, we don’t want to lose a detail so that we can see it later on our flat screens. While doing this, while trying not to lose our memories, we are not fully experiencing the moment, we are missing the real connection with the place and the people around us. We are so concerned about how it is going to look once we get back home, we miss the real 3D high definition, surround sound right here right now experience that is being offered to us.
A study held by author Linda Henkel, PhD, shines a light on this subject. Part of her study shows how impulsive photo shooting alters the way we remember. Our memories lose detail because we are counting on our digital devices to store it for us and by doing so we disengage from the experience. This is what she named the “photo taking impairment effect” . In her words : “It’s as if they click the button to take the photo and mentally think ‘done, next thing .’ They don’t engage in the processing that would lead to long term memory.”
I am not trying to discourage you on taking photos. Not at all. I wouldn’t be able to do that myself either because yes, photos can help us recall good moments. I am just inviting you to pause and take a moment for yourself before the click. Experience how it feels to be fully there with all your senses. That way you will keep not only a photograph but also a memory. It is not about what we do, it’s about how we do it.
On my last trip to Yosemite I made a conscious effort to practice what I preach. I can remember the fresh air just by looking at the images. The best part was getting back home with only one quarter of the amount of pictures I usually get. The editing process was easier and way less overwhelming.
Below you will see some of the pictures I took , most of them on my way up to Yosemite falls. Hope you get the feeling too .
Mucho Amor! Lu.