Thank you to the stranger who left me feeling really irritated this morning and then, unskillfully, I was snarky to in response. I was caught off guard by my “reaction” to her behavior as it was not only out of character for me but also unskillful on my part. I have committed my life to living with compassion and this was a moment where I fell short. I was reminded of two things: 1) I am not perfect (and no one is) 2) The bubbling up of my response to her deserved deeper self-inquiry and ultimately meant there was a part of me with which I needed to check-in.
I could have fed my unskillful behavior to my inner critic who would have reminded me through incessant self-criticism of my “unworthiness” but instead, I CHOSE to turn toward the part of me who felt grumpy and to ask this tender part of myself what it was that I needed. “Oh, sweetheart, what’s going on? How may I help you feel settled and seen?” I learned quickly that a part of me felt overwhelmed by the lack of relational care in the world. This part of me felt fearful that we are losing the beautiful human connection of caring for one another in large and small ways. Zooming out and widening the perspective, this part of me felt disheartened in general by the way we treat one another with a lack of care.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I had a difficult experience with a stranger that morning and I responded to her rough behavior with dissonance. I got hooked, as Pema Chödrön refers to as “shenpa.” I bit the hook, I became triggered in the moment by the woman’s lack of care toward me earlier. It’s amazing how many feelings we can experience in a 2 minute period of time!
I served myself a slice of Humble Pie and I gratefully received this moment as an opportunity to turn to self-inquiry.
This is my personal process:
Bringing Conscious Awareness to working with difficult emotions:
- Pausing and taking a few deep breaths (I may bring a hand to heart or belly or both).
- Being willing to lovingly and kindly look within
- Engage in self-inquiry: “How am I? What do I need? What is really going on inside?”
- Validate the voice within, respect the value of my emotions, and TRUST my experience. There is always information in the wave of emotions (be mindful of how you interpret this information) This is an opportunity for CLEAR SEEING.
- Let go of what is no longer needed from that moment and move forward with information and wisdom to inform the next moment of my day
- Asking: What is the next right step that is BEST FOR ALL? (This step does not always look pretty, it may be messy)
- Begin anew: Giving myself the gift of a Fresh Start, informed with the learning of the difficult experience and taking action as identified in step 6.
A few hours later I am walking down the chip aisle at Whole Foods and I hear someone behind me saying, “Excuse me, excuse me, ma’am.” I realize she is calling to me and I turn around and this stranger says to me, “I am sorry to bother you but I must stop and tell you how beautiful you are.” I openly received her words and thanked her for her kindness and courage to call out to me, a stranger to her. We then crossed paths on the next aisle and I stopped her and thanked her for sharing kindness with me and I mentioned that I had had an opposite experience earlier in the day that left me feeling disheartened. She then told me a bit of her life story which was:
She was homeless for 12 years and is now in college studying communications and public relations. She continues to say, “I realized when I was young that I yearned for others to notice and share with me things that were beautiful to them and I decided that I would make a practice of noticing beauty and sharing it on the spot." She went on to share that she was passing through Utah from California after visiting her mother who was 9 months sober due to recovering from a stroke. She spoke of the beauty of this newfound relationship amidst such a traumatic health event. I stood humbly, now in the frozen food aisle, as I listened to her share something beautiful in her world with me, no longer a stranger to her heart nor I to hers.
There is beauty everywhere around us, mixed with darkness and difficulty. If we can practice responding to both the dark and the light as opportunities for self-reflection and growth we step even more into the shared connection of being human and, can wisely discern how to speak up and engage in the world with courage, compassion and as an act of service.In the end, healing and freedom come from our willingness to “Call Out” that which is beautiful as well as that which is unkind, unjust or disillusioned. Somewhere, in the middle of these dualities that we all experience in life is the heart, is the breath, is feeling connected to something larger than ourselves and of realizing the way toward peace and care for one another is developing a loving relationship with ourselves so we awaken to the possibilities of caring deeply for one another.
In love and learning,
Upcoming Courses and Events
Aug. 13-17: Art and Mindfulness Camp this Summer for Girls ages 9-12
with Stella and Becca Peters. Stella will be teaching art classes about fashion illustration, vision boarding, and painting, and Becca will start the day with Mindfulness + Meditation...Learn More
Sept. 10th - Nov. 5th: 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Course:
In this program you will learn: how to stop being so hard on yourself, how to handle difficult emotions with greater ease, how to motivate yourself with encouragement... Learn More
Oct. 13th Day-Long Retreat With Zen Buddhist Teacher, Deborah Eden Tull:
Save the date a day-long meditation retreat led by guest speaker and Becca’s personal teacher in the Zen Buddhist tradition, Deborah Eden Tull. More details to come but save the date to join us for this remarkable day of practice and learning about Relational Mindfulness...Learn More
Nov. 6th- Dec. 11th: MAPS II Cultivating Positive Emotions:
This 6-week format, MAPs II class emphasizes heart-based qualities that complement mindfulness and can be cultivated through meditation practices. We will explore loving kindness, compassion, equanimity (even-mindedness), joy, generosity, and gratitude...Learn More
Becca is in the process of forming a weekly evening sitting group. More details coming soon...
can be like love
embedded in velvet
watched over by Trust, Care and Joy