February’s Question and Practices

Throughout the years of our friendship and marriage,

we’ve taken up many spiritual, mindful, and practical practices. This year we’ve begun some new ones.

Once a month we hold one question.  In January, this year, our question has been:

Is it real?

Throughout our days and the month, we found opportunity after opportunity to ask this question, and in so doing shift our consciousness about what we were experiencing.  Whether it was our own thoughts, or thoughts of others, a world situation or crisis, or an emotional dilemma, time and time again we asked:  Is it real—his moment, this reality and it gave us something to come up against, something to stop us for a moment of contemplation to allow us to see things in a new light, to see things differently or to affirm the moment and carry on with happiness or certainty.

Today is February 1 and we have a new question and two new practices.
The question we will carry is:

Who am I?

It is a well-known Buddhist practice, but it came as our monthly question in relationship to recent conversations

we’ve shared around: How can we truly care for ourselves during moments of not feeling good about ourselves

or situations we find ourselves in?

We will let our new February question: Who Am I? resound on every level. Taking moments of reflection or pausing in a difficult moment, or allow who we are to appear in any life circumstance and notice what arises or comes to meet us.

The first new Practice for February, along side of the question, is:
Noticing when we find ourselves negatively talking to our selves.

When we become aware of negative self talk, our practice will begin with the Mindfulness STOP practice.
S Stop what you’re doing and thinking
T Take a breath or three.
O Observe what is happening, notice.
P Practice or Proceed

After stopping to observe where we are at, the actual Practice will be turning our attention to ourselves, taking some time to remember a moment in our lives when we felt loved, really loved, and let it gently, yet completely, wash over us, feeling the human warmth and care, thereby shifting the negative energy to loving energy.

Dr. Rick Hanson, neuro-scientist and neuro-psychologist, has a wonderful Podcast called Being Well with Dr. Rick Hanson, which we love listening to. In his latest one, he gives three steps to self-compassion. We will include this exercise in our first Practice. In Rod’s words, Rick offers us questions to ask ourselves and thoughts to take up.

1. What is it like to be with someone who really cares about you? What does it feel like? Live into it.
2. Think about someone or a group of people that you have compassion for, for real reasons. Feel your compassion deeply and your wish that their pain be alleviated. Putting your hand on your heart can help. Feel it deeply.
3. Once this feeling of compassion and warmth is tangible, apply it to yourself, to the parts of yourself that long for care and attention saying things like: May this pain pass. May I be well and happy. May I be free from fear and anxiety.  Feel this warmth and compassion you are giving to yourself.

The second new Practice for February, along side of the question, is:
Practice cultivating peace actively, each and every day.

We have been reading James O’Dea’s book, Cultivating Peace, and have included some of his profound thoughts and deeply moving insights, into our practice for this month. How? By carrying an index card “in our pockets” with this list, to be read, re-read, felt deeply and taken up in any way we see possible in our lives. Why? To become more aware and part of the change for peace.

Feel love, laughter and service to others.
Experience that by living for peace, you are part of a movement that will carry forward for generations.
Practice smiling.
Be aware of labeling individuals as “the other.”
Cultivate friends and allies.
Feel deeply and interact with others out of love, gratitude, forgiveness and cherishing.
Engage with everyone and everything in ways that are fruitful.
Dissolve any form of rejection, social isolation, resentment and hatred.

We are grateful and excited to begin our new practices while also carrying our new question for February.

We will be posting each month. Please feel free to join us in these February practices if it speaks to you. Namaste.



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