Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Day 270 - Redefining Hope

My 'Positive Journal' assignment for today was to think of a negative experience that happened to me, where there was a glimmer of hope that kept me going.

Once again, I was completely blank! And I thought to myself, "oh no! I am hopeless!"

The way the journal described the assignment laid it out in such a way where I was supposed to have this 'negative experience' with some glimmer of 'positive' 'hope' within it.

I was first stuck on the word 'hope', as it reminds me of sugar, in a way. It feels really good when you eat it, but once it wears off you get a sugar crash and that feels terrible. So I actually have a negative connotation when it comes to 'hope'. It's like a drug, essentially, 'hope' is like 'dope'. You use it to pick yourself up when you are down, without actually practically doing something constructive.

Hope, to me, has been the act of projecting into an imaginary desired future outcome, and then feeding that projection with positive energy to make myself 'feel good' inside myself when I call it up in my mind. Inevitably, things do not turn out exactly as I had imagined (shocker: I'm not psychic!), and so I would crash into a negative experience, where I'd feel some combination of disappointment, heartbreak, victimization and disempowerment.

In fact, it is more when I do not have 'hope' where I actually tend to move myself more, to take more responsibility in a situation, and to take physical steps to work towards the desired outcome.

This is the dictionary definition of 'hope':

"A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen."
But then there's also the 'archaic' definition, which is pretty cool and I can align more with, and that is:
"A feeling of trust."
When I am going through a 'bad experience', knowing that the 'bad experience' is simply my reaction to a situation or event, even in my lowest of lows where it seems as though all is lost, there is something inside of me, like a void, blackness, where it is as if some part of me is untouchable, unwavering, unending. It is as if there is some pocket inside of myself where I can hold myself and know that, even if everything fails, falls, gets destroyed or whatever, that in this pocket where some important aspect of me can fit, tiny like a seed, I know that that seed will be okay, and that it may be tough, but that I can re-grow from just that one preserved part of me. 
And it is a glimmer of this that has supported me through even the bleakest moments. Not a positive experience, but rather it is a trust that, so long as I keep deciding for it to be so, it will be so.  
And so within all of this, 'hope' to me is not about being 'positive' or projecting wants and expectations, or desires for certain outcomes, but rather the Trust in Myself that I will continue deciding that no matter what, I will be ok. The Trust in Process, that no matter what happens or how long it takes, it is done. And the Trust in Life itself, that Life will never give me more than I can handle, even if the outcome was not at all what I expected or desired.
And so, my redefinition of living 'hope' is:
The trust that enough of me will be ok no matter what the outcome. 

Why I am Using the 'Positive Journal' (Hint: it's not to become more positive :) )

Something I have become aware of is my 'Yes's' and 'No's' that come from somewhere deeper than my conscious-mind decision-making process. It started with food, where I was having certain physical reactions to foods, and only later noticed that I would have a full-body 'NO!' come up in me before I would eat the foods I was reactive towards. It would even happen if the food was something delicious that I normally love eating - and I normally would  eat it, ignoring my body's own natural intelligence in order to appease my craving, desire or vice, only to suffer the consequences later - but recently, I have started listening.

As I started 'listening' to this communication more and more, over time it started to make sense.  I began to learn which foods were best for me in which moments, and which were not. And the more I kept listening to my own body's intelligence, the more my relationship to foods evened out, and the more comfortable I became.

I started to expand this communication ability to other areas of my life. It was like clearing away the emotional influence in order to determine what was really best for myself in the moment. For example I would use it to place a guard over my mouth before speaking, or with projects or endeavours - whether I should commit to them or let them go, do one before another, or put it on the back burner till a later time.

When I was gifted the 'Positive Journal' I was surprised to receive a full-body 'Yes' to the prospect of actually taking the thing seriously. My conscious mind judged the book, because I am not at all in to positivity or enlightenment or anything like that. My conscious mind said 'no', but something deeper in me said 'Yes', and I am learning to listen to that something deeper, it is becoming more clear. Even if I don't understand in the moment, it always makes sense later.

It has been over a week now and I have been reading about the book and have started to complete the exercises. As I began integrating the book into my Desteni Process of re-defining and living words, the greater picture of WHY this book is supportive to me in this moment began to become more clear.

One of the first questions from DIP, when I started the course waaaaay back when, was "What is your general self-experience? Positive, negative or neutral?" I immediately answered "negative", because I was constantly stressed, always anxious, struggling, tense, chasing, escaping, living anywhere but Here in my body. That is a part of my life experience that I have brought into my Desteni Process, which created a result of focusing too much on the problems, the issues, the challenges, the obstacles. Yes, it is cool to take things on, push self, challenge self, identify problems and obstacles, but it is also cool and necessary, to take a moment to appreciate Self, to show some self-love, self-acceptance AS ONE IS, RIGHT NOW, IMPERFECTIONS AND ALL! To live some compassion, understanding, forgiveness.

This 'negativity' and constant pushing has driven me in a lot of ways, but it has been a bit of a problem as well. It is not sustainable as it causes me to crash.  I have had increased migraines and I know it is hard on my body, because even when  I would go to relax at times I would not be able to fully let go due to the constant desire to push for 'the next point/project/challenge', always striving for something or some kind of perfection that does not exist.

And as much as I KNOW what it is that I'm doing, I SEE what I must do, I have written it out, I've cried it out, I've come to realizations and done forgiveness - the thing is so deep and so stubborn that I have only managed to chip away at it here and there.

And now I have the 'Positive Journal', which I have redefined as my 'Process Journal', seeing now that I have come to associate my Process with harshness, hardness, difficulty, challenge only, when process is about creating balance, stability, self-expression, bringing out and developing both feminine and masculine living words as expressions of Self, living in a way that is sustainable, that is Best for Self.

The 'Positive Journal' is my bridge of support to create a balance, to bring out and develop my 'softer' side, within and through assisting and supporting me to start redefining and living words such as 'gratitude', 'communication', 'compassion', 'hope', 'meaning', and 'purpose'. In doing this so far, what I have seen, recognized and appreciated almost for the first time are the ways in which I am already living these words, but which went unnoticed because the way I was living them did not fit the accepted dictionary definition that I knew. So when I thought I was not living 'gratitude' and 'hope', for example, leaving me feeling 'ungrateful' and 'hopeless', upon opening up the words I saw and realized that I was in fact living them very much! I was just living them deeply inside myself, and I had never taken the time to put myself into words to gain clarity and insight, leading to opportunities for growing and expanding on these expressions of myself, which just so happens to be exactly what I need right now!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

What is Gratitude: How I learned to be Grateful - My 'Positive Journal' Experience Day 2

I often become uncomfortable when people give me gifts or do things for me because I feel like there is a certain response I am then obliged to present in return. I never know if the giver of the gift or the doer of the favour is expecting this type of response or not, and there have been a few occasions where I was un-emotive about things I had received, and then those around me made it clear through jokes and comments, that this lack of a reaction on my behalf was unexpected and inappropriate. This made me feel ashamed and ungrateful as I had not had a certain positive feeling experience within myself that I was apparently supposed to have.

What I did over time to cope with this dynamic was to fake the positive feeling experience with my sound, my smile and my words - and each time I did this, I felt like I was betraying some part of me, presenting the false front to the gift giver in order to manipulate them into also now having a positive feeling of being appreciated, whatever other rewards as positive experience one might expect   when giving a gift.

In my 'Positive Journal' today I was asked to list three big things I am grateful for. Immediately I was struck by an emptiness, a feeling of 'the expectation to feel something I don't actually feel' and the burden to now conjure up some emotion, which often makes me feel like I 'm somehow cheating on myself through betraying myself and what I am actually going through. I thought to myself, "how ungrateful am I? How spoiled must I be to feel such little gratitude for anything at all? So I stopped in order to ask myself, "What is gratitude to me?".

I looked up the word 'gratitude' and found that most definitions in fact did involve invoking some kind of positive feeling, and some kind of giving back in return - which is exactly how I had been unsuccessfully living the word gratitude, where my living of the word means the the 'giving' is never unconditional, because as soon as I live 'gratitude' that means I must now do/be something in return, and if not then the whole thing is a bust and a disappointment. So I see that I had been living the system-accepted, consciousness version of the word gratitude, but I knew within myself that there was more to it than that.

So I took a moment, silenced my mind, and brought through MY experience of 'gratitude' up into my body, and I just sat with it. What came up was not a positive feeling at all - it was as if a bottomless abyss opened up right in the core of me, and I was deeply humbled at the vastness and expansiveness of this space, like falling forever, knowing there is nothing I could ever do to fill this space or close it up - that an attempt to repay or match the things I am grateful for would be so futile and silly, like trying to fill the ocean with a teaspoon - and yet within it all was also a deep and profound sense of shame.

As I sat with this, an image of my family popped into my head. I was reminded of the process of forgiveness and self-forgiveness I had walked over the years using the Desteni tools in relation to my family, wherein I worked on releasing the emotional points I had been holding in place since I was very young. This means, not only forgiving the family member, but also forgiving myself mostly in terms of the role I played in the creation and holding on to the point, keeping it in place not only for myself, but for everyone.

What had emerged afterwards in working with this family-point was again a deep sense of shame and humility, as I could then more clearly see not only the sacrifice my parents went through to raise me, put a roof over my head, feed me, send me to school, take care of my health, my teeth, etc... but also how they had consistently over time, been there for me, even when they didn't necessarily agree with the paths I had chosen. I always felt so secure in knowing that, no matter what happened in my life, I would have a warm bed to sleep in and a meal to eat in my parent's home, so secure in fact, that it never even occurred to me that it could be any other way, and so I never even explored being grateful for it.

From this new position came 'appreciation' - which is a recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something, as well as a full understanding of a situation. After having walked a process of self-forgiveness, and within that also forgiving others, I was able to more clearly understand the entire situation, and recognize and enjoy those qualities in my parents that they lived in order to bring up a family and a daughter in this world, giving me a foundation from which to stand.

The next step I took in walking this process of forgiveness/self-forgiveness leading to gratitude towards my parents, was to express it to them, tell them about it, let them know what I see and how I experience it. Not in a big emotional show or display of affection, but in normal, natural moments when it would come up in me in moments spent with them, or maybe in a card, or over the phone. Not all at once, but bit-by-bit, over time, taking my time with each piece, carefully forming it within myself, wherein it then became easily articulated it in moments of opportunity, where it was so unconditional, so natural, easy and flowing, that they may not have even recognized it as gratitude until later upon reflection, that is, if it even occurred to them to reflect upon it! But that doesn't even matter, because I was speaking unconditionally something that was already whole within myself, that didn't require recognition or validation from another to complete. I think the sharing of gratitude is important, because oftentimes when people do not take the time to recognize, appreciate and live gratitude towards people in their lives, or don't speak or express it, often live with great regret if that person leaves their lives or passes away.

So builds my living definition of the word 'grateful', now with the words: 'humility' and 'recognition', 'unconditional', 'appreciation', 'enjoyment', 'sharing' and even, maybe surprisingly: 'shame'.

And so, my living re-definition of 'Gratitude' is:

To humbly and unconditionally recognize and share the appreciation and enjoyment in relation to the act of giving and/or receiving.  With 'shame' acting as that reminder of how little gratitude and unconditional giving/receiving actually exists in this world and within ourselves, even towards ourselves. Until that time where unconditional living exists, for me personally, I will always be reminded of my own shame, using it constructively to support me in my personal process of change.

In terms of what I wrote in my journal for the three big things I am most grateful for, after having re-defined the living word, here it is:

I am grateful for my family and everything they have done to support me to be able to be here.

I am grateful for the fact the Desteni exists, and to everything and everyone that made/makes it possible.

I am grateful for the Physical/Life/the Animals/Mother Nature/the Sky for being Here unconditionally, and for standing for and as Life.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Positive Journal - Day 267

I was gifted a journal called ‘The Positive Journal’, which contains techniques backed by science for using journaling to "increase gratitude, confidence, communication, meaning and purpose". This is supposed to create a “happier, more fulfilling life” with just 5 minutes a day of practicing the techniques and exercises provided in the journal.

This book came into my life, and my full-body response to it was “YES – I want to try this!”. I had been lying in bed the night before, feeling a bit lost, un-grounded, feeling as if there was not enough ‘Me/Self’ in my current living, creating the experience of ‘Life happening and moving all around me’, and me being on a ship going along with the currents, using everything of me to simply ‘stay afloat’.

The timeline within which this internal experience was created was that of moving from South Africa, my place of temporary residence, to Panama – my future permanent home. There was a lot of moving pieces involved in this move, and I had gotten to a point of peace when I realized I could not fight or control my reality, but sometimes, when working with a lot of others and moving pieces, one must let go of the reins a little bit, and simply go with the flow – because I was trying to control every aspect of the move, and was becoming too stressed and panicked when things would not move according to how I thought was best. I really had to learn to become more ‘responsive’ to external factors instead of being the sole driving force. So instead of controlling every aspect of every individual involved, I had to let go of control, observe, monitor and watch things play out around me, and step in where needed, rolling with the punches as I would be confronted with the errors of others, the timelines of others, the abilities of others and so on, while at the same time, making sure I was doing my part to the best of my ability.

Then I finally, after months of preparation, arrive in Panama, and BOOM – my reality changes entirely! This ‘go with the flow’, ‘let things play out as I monitor and direct’ strategy or way of being – is no longer what works! For a while I didn’t realize this, and felt totally turned upside down, floating, helpless and disempowered as the moving pieces in my reality were no longer ‘working together FOR ME’, but was now the already established lives of others, into which I was stepping and placing myself, requiring me to now re-assert myself within myself as the driver/creator of my space and place within an already established household.

And this is where I am using the journal I received as a gift in this particular moment of transitioning into this new position of Self and Life creation, where it is now time for settling in, finding my feet, planting my roots. And to do this I must within it figure out and get to know intimately Who I Am, what do I want to create here, for and as myself, but also within a group. Keeping in mind, with this journal, that everything I do, I integrate into and as my own living principles, wherein, for example, I redefine the journal as I use it in order to create an outflow that is best for me. So, instead of the journal’s title “The Positive Journal’, I am re-defining it to ‘My process Journal’. And when I read the every day exercises, I make sure that I have looked at each word and defined it for myself in awareness.

For example, the first day’s exercise is to write a few lines about my “decision to work on the 40 percent happiness in my life that is under my control” (the journal suggests that the other 60 percent is genetic, and circumstantial).

So I looked at the words: ‘decision’, ‘happiness’ and ‘control’.

I have already walked a process with the word ‘decision’, and I have a base for what it really means to make a decision, what my internal experience is like when I make a decision for real, and when I make a decision with a starting point of energy, like hope, fear, judgment etc. So for me, I took a moment with myself to make this decision, clear my expectations, the rush, and the rigidity of my past experience with the word decision, and also bring in the complimentary words of ‘commitment’, ‘structure’, ‘flexibility’ and ‘flow’.

And my answer was yes, I am deciding to do this, I commit to this decision, and within that, I understand the challenges that come with making a commitment. I will structure a time to practice my commitment, but I realize that I may not always be able to do it at that time. I have a job and a dog and other people in my world and a reality that is constantly changing, so I will be flexible with myself instead of trying to rigidly stick to the time slot I have decided upon, I will instead flow with my reality and adjust along the way. There may come a time when the journal no longer serves me as well as something else, and  may let it go for a bit and take on the new thing, or the journal may serve as a stepping stone to get me through this period, where I will move to something else, and perhaps only use the journal when I require some grounding and direction. In this, I see a decision is not a once-off thing, but something that must be decided upon again and again. Sometimes a re-assessment is needed, and the decision changes, it all depends on Self, one’s reason and starting point for making the decision.

For the word ‘happiness’  - for me this is not a useful word as how I had previously defined it, where ‘happiness’ is like this positive energy that one sits in. This is impractical for a plethora of reasons that is for another blog. I then looked at bundling a group of words together, such as ‘contentment’, ‘enjoyment’, ‘gratitude’, ‘fulfillment’, ‘purpose’, ‘effectiveness’ – and then placed the label of ‘happiness’ onto this bundle. But it wasn’t sitting right with me. So I decided to scratch the words ‘happiness’ and ‘positivity’ altogether, and simply call the journal ‘My Process Journal’, which includes redefining the first exercise as ‘my decision to walk this process’.

For “the 40 percent I can control” – I would like to challenge this statement, as I don’t think we are stagnant in terms of what percentage of ourselves and our lives we have ‘control’ over. I see it more as a skill that is developed and expanded upon, and not something to be limited by placing a belief upon what specific percentage we should strive to attain. And besides, life and self and one’s living and ‘control’ is too complex and dynamic to break down into clean and concise percentiles. I mean, do we measure it by time? By movements? By tasks? Already this becomes too vague and impractical, creating an opening for self-sabotage and also slight frustration and confusion within me. So, no…. just no.

For the words ‘control’ – I will also replace this word for the context, use and purpose of why I am using this journal. I will instead look at the words ‘Self-Directive Principle’ and ‘Self-Mastery’. These words are already a part of my desteni process, and so doesn’t require specific attention or to be separated out in any way here, and so I am leaving it out.

The end product of walking the process of re-defining my ‘Positive Journal’ for the first day’s exercise is:

“Write a few lines on my decision to walk this process”
-          Because I know I have more potential than what I am currently living
-          Because I have seen the consequences of living as the mind/continuing as I am or have been, and I would prefer to instead change and live in such a way where I CREATE, GROW, EXPAND, instead of diminish, limit and create destructive consequences.
-          Because I would rather walk/stand/live as a solution for and as myself and this world, instead of not changing and doing nothing in a statement of acceptance/allowance of the way things currently are, for myself and everyone else.
-          Because I cannot accept or allow the ways things currently are, within myself and in this world, and so in the end, there isn’t really a choice.