October 2011 Review: Letting Go

[Editor's Note:  I write a monthly review.  This is/was October 2011.  If you’ve arrived here from The Paradise Post, welcome!  Just click here to read the full article The Magic of Hypnotherapy.]

Strong rains have pummeled the earth several nights in a row now.  The rainy season has arrived.

Just as the seasons change, so do we.

When it comes to change, I’ve been reminded how it often involves these five stages of grief defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

It’s now understood that these five stages may be relevant not only in the process of dying, but in many different types of life transitions.  Especially ones that occur with a jerk.  The stages do not neatly occur in a linear fashion.  Some stages may be skipped.  And not everyone undergoes them.

But I have.  And I’ve found the denial stage especially tricky.  By its very definition, you don’t realize you are even in denial.  And it can get all mixed up with bargaining.  Until a sharp needle pricks the bubble, allowing clarity to emerge.

But it could be anger instead of clarity that pops out, which has its own challenges.  There’s the danger of turning it on yourself or projecting it outwardly.   Neither of which leads to happiness for one’s self or others.

These stages seem to unfold invisibly.  But knowing about them can help you face them more consciously and remember their impermanence.  This itself may bring some greater sense of ease.

It’s not easy to work skillfully with painful emotions.  They can feel so strong and overpowering.   Sometimes, I just want to bury my head under the covers.

Recognizing their transitory nature and allowing them to be – without pushing them away or over-indulging in them – is the secret to releasing them.  This is an art we can learn to master through meditation.  But it does take tremendous courage, diligence, and the willingness not to run away from the pain.  Or hide under the covers (all the time).

Remaining Groundless

Often, when change besets us, all we want to do is regain our equilibrium.  When, in fact, it might be better to experiment with remaining groundless.

The Western spiritual teacher, Pema Chodron, is a strong advocate for understanding groundlessness as an aspect of our natural state of being.

Her book, When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times, is a primer for working with change and the tsunami of turbulent emotions it can spark.  Instead of running away from them – which only continues our cycles of pain – Pema Chodron shows us how to work with them directly.  In this concise, yet revolutionary book, she provides very simple instructions on meditation, loving-kindmesss practice, and “tongen”,  a practice for working with suffering using the breath.

This book was my best-friend the past month.  I recommend it highly.

In the end, the judicious way to work with change is to allow a period of time – and it will take time – to feel the emotions of grief and then to be willing to let go and move on.  Chances are it will feel messy, but we can applaud our courage instead of falling into self-judgment.  And even if we do, we can gently release that too.

Self-Acceptance

Not judging is the essence of self-acceptance, which continues as an important theme in my own life.  I see ever more clearly that if I don’t fully love and accept myself, I’m just caught in an endless cycle of seeking external validation.  In relationships, through work, in blogging, in competitive activities, in spiritual endeavors, in myriad ways.

While relying on external validation sometimes works for awhile, sooner or later, it only activates a continuous loop of hope and fear, which generates suffering and discontent.  But, of course, it’s difficult to disconnect from all the subtle ways we seek outer validation, isn’t it?   This form of hope and fear simply is the modus operandi for many of us.  It confirms our existence and keep us from experiencing that terrifying sense of groundlessness that is actually the way things are.

Meditation and loving kindness are two ways that I nourish self-acceptance.   It may not be obvious, but meditation can also be a way to express compassion for ourselves when we refrain from judging what arises in our mind.

I’m also working on self-acceptance by taking responsibility for my emotions, being honest about my limitations, and clear about what’s true for me.  I assure you it’s all a work in progression and not a final work of art!

And, I took some time to write a letter to myself when I felt a need for encouragement.

Nonviolent Communication

I’m three sessions into a seven-week class in Nonviolent Communication.  Developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.,

“Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.

NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs

People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in their communication, increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.”

So far, I’m impressed and excited. I’m looking forward to learning more and becoming a more compassionate communicator.

A Day of Rest

I really need to chill out these days.  So I’ve declared Sunday my day of rest, relaxation, spiritual hyper-focus, and mini-digital retreat.

That means I’ll be posting on Monday instead of Sunday.  And other week days when inspiration strikes.

Supporting Always Well Within

I welcome you to  support this site and my writing by making a donation or by sharing links to my articles with your friends on social media.  Your generosity is deeply appreciated and makes a difference in my life.  A special thank you to everyone who gave in October. You made my day!

November Preview

In November, I’m hoping to take a 3-hour Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help class. 

Jin Shin Jyutsu is a simple way to harmonize the body, mind, and spirity by gently placing the fingertips on specific points along the subtle meridian channels.  Like acupuncture without the needle; but Japanese instead of Chinese.   It’s great to be able to treat yourself for an array of normal troubles like headaches, digestive distress, and much more.

You might like to know that  the planet Mercury will be retrograde from November 24 until December 13, which can cause delays.  According to astrologist Susan Miller,

“Mercury is the planet of communication and transportation, shipping and commerce / negotiation, so miscommunications may cause problems. Do not sign any papers until after December 13.”

That means it’s a good idea to shop early for the holidays if you partake, and double checking your flight arrangements if you plan to travel.

How was your October?  Any new insights or experiences to share?

20 thoughts on “October 2011 Review: Letting Go

  1. Sandra,
    I’m sorry you’ve been going through such a difficult time lately. I appreciate that you outlined the stages of grief here. It’s so important for people to understand what they’re going through – it helps them to deal with it. I deal with many clients who are grieving the loss of someone close to them and knowing and understanding the stages of grief helps me to help them deal with it.
    I have never worked with Jin Shyin Jyutsu but I met a woman in a course I took years ago who swore it cured her of cancer. She became an instructor after that.

    • Hi Angela,

      I’m glad you are familiar with these stages and are able to help you clients move more consciously through change and loss. Wow, that’s quite a story about JSJ. I love hearing about these kinds of miracles. They lift us right up! Thanks for your compassionate words. They touch my heart.

  2. Another thoughtful and inspiring post. I don’t leave comments very often because I find I have little to add what is usually a perfectly crafted piece. But, don’t assume a lack of comments means a lack of visits. I’m here for every post. Each is too much of a gem to miss.

  3. I find myself going back to the writings of Pema Chodron again and again. Every time, I get something different out of her woerds because I am a new person every time.

    The concept of groundlessness is scary at first, but it is so much more peaceful and comfortable after a while than the roller coaster of hope and fear. I like this ride much better!

    Sounds like, as the season, you are consciously in transition and growing and learning through the process. Thank you for sharing it with us and for your inspiration and example.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Pema Chodron is so brilliant! I love her writing. Wow, I’m impressed that you are cool with groundlessness. May I follow in your footsteps. Yes, I am in transition – fighting and kicking all the way, but growing too! Thanks for your encouragement and support. It means a lot to me.

  4. Hi Sandra-thank you for sharing your beautiful post. You have outlined so eloquently all the important tools to help us through life. I’m sorry that you are need of them now. Meditation has always worked for me during difficult times. I also just wrote a post today about making time for days off-as you have done with your Sundays. It’s so important to reconnect with reality and life. Your kind and open heart will pull you through- I have no doubt.

    • Lori,

      Thank you for your empathy and compassion. I find having a spiritual perspective is of the greatest help in challenging times. We all go through them and I’m glad we can support and help each other. Your kindness really touches me. My day off on Sunday was fabulous! I would slowly like to move to weekends off! Thanks for your loving thoughts.

  5. Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for sharing what you are experiencing with change. As I myself have been facing great change over the past 4 months I have experienced many different emotions and have found that for me the basis for moving forward has been to go within and listen to my heart and ask my soul for guidance. I have also been working with Marci Shimoff’s Love for no reason. Self love is my journey this time :) Meditation is so important and as you say time- I am having to develop my patience perspective! Not always easy

    I wish you love and peace on your journey of change
    Namaste
    Suzie

    • This is wonderful advice, Suzie – to listen to your inner wisdom. I love the idea of love for no reason! Self love is the basis of all love; an important journey to take. I’m walking with you on that path. This is a helpful reminder about patience too. I’m very excited by your new series of heart paintings and your focus on self-love.

      Thanks you for your warm wishes. Sending you all my love.

  6. I rely heavily on NVC to get me through the tough times. October was a return of the giant fatigue in my life and also my time to deal with what I am afraid of to open myself more fully to the epiphany of celebrating my talents in Winter.
    It is a time of cleansing and I find it good to free up the excuses…let them go and focus on more heart centered work. I then can be truly grateful in November and be more open to my blessings. ( I follow the idea of the ancients around harvest, darkness, and blessings)

    I send you more peace on your journey and renewal. I find it takes a great deal of practice to do NVC but it is so worth it…I have been able to clean up my self-talk with this energy.

    • It’s really great to hear how useful NVC has been for you, Patricia. So sorry to hear about the giant fatigue in your life. Winter is the time to rest, isn’t it. It seems like you are opening new spiritual doors. And, I appreciate what you say about heart-centered work and openness to blessings.

      I think you are right, it takes a lot of practice to master NVC. And it requires a fundamental shift in how we view ourselves and others. I want to focus on cleaning up my self-talk with this work too! Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Hi Sandra. Thanks for the reminder of loss and transition. Indeed, learning to embrace our losses, life’s necessary endings, is a great “life skill” we all need, though typically never receive this instruction growing up or in school.

    We typically learn it in the “school of hard knocks”–we find ourselves writhing in pain in the midst of some loss, find everyone’s counsel insufficient, and search for better ways to deal with these transitions. And so we begin the journey of learning this life skill, hopefully.

    That’s my story, anyway.

    • HI Sean,

      What you’ve written is so poignant! You are so right about the “school of hard knocks”. It’s funny how it’s so hard to shake off this firm belief in permanence even when we know it’s not the case. Yes, the pain can be unbearable. We can help and support each other though and serve as reminders that life is changing moment by moment. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve felt and glad you are there to help others.

  8. Dearest Sandra,
    What a beautiful review of a transformative month gone by..or should i say rebirthing month gone by :)
    I so very well understand all that you have shared about new understandings and revelations in trying times. The harder the times, the more profound the lessons!
    We are both in this together…and I’m with you all the way.
    You know how my month was..in between health, financial and emotional upheaval…I learnt to “refresh” and kind of brought about a more positive rebirthed me. But you already know that na :)
    Sending you lots of love and hugs for this month to be full of happiness and ease.
    Z~

    • Hi Z ~

      I love the way you put a positive spin on everything. Yes, it’s a period of rebirthing, that’s for sure! It’s so true what you say: the harder the times, the more profound the lessons. And I kick and scream like a baby all the way. :)

      I’m with you in heart too. We’ll grow together and kick and scream a little too! Your tips on “refresh” are real gems. The whole idea has helped me too. So thank you so much!

      Thank you for your kind wishes. I wish the best for you too!

  9. LOVE that Pema Chodran book, which I got at the library. Your slate of activities look healthy and restorative. It fits right in with the rain, which falls to wash and balance all life. Namaste, Sandra.

  10. Hi Sandra,

    The 5 stages of grief certainly can be applied to many areas of life and it is certainly relevant in dealing with change. I don’t really have a problem with denial or anger or bargaining. Acceptance comes without too much trouble, but most definitely I get stuck at depression as I try to formulate my response. I think it is trying to create order out of chaos that gets to me at times.

    I agree with Pema Chodron that the best way to deal with pain is to face it and go through the process of healing. I have never read her works though and I may just check out the book you recommended. The name Pema Chodron keeps on popping up on my radar and it might do me some good to read what she has to say.

    Sunday should be a day of rest. God probably knew what he was doing when he rested on Sunday haha! I am sure you will have better insights for us on Monday if you are fully rested on Sunday.

    My October was fine. Got back into blogging after a long absence and now I feel as if I haven’t really left. But in truth there are many changes to the blogosphere. Some old faces are no longer around and there are many new ones. Life in a nutshell.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

    PS: Crossing my fingers this doesn’t end up in your spam box again.

  11. I agree with you on the needs to self-accept ourselves as only through self-acceptance, we can experience inner peace and spiritual growth. I used to be harsh on myself. However, over the years, I have slowly learned the important life skill which is self-acceptance. What II would tell myself is that I am not perfect so If I mess up over something, I have to forgive myself and learn the lesson. Even if I commit many mistakes, I will still forgive myself. That’s the best alternative that I have.

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