Category: spirituality


photo-10Today was a day of reflection. It was an inspiring day of connection, family, friends, and thoughts about peace in an increasingly tumultuous and violent world. It is clear that the task at hand can not be accomplished alone. It is clear that it will take a combined effort of friendship and community. What if we all take a pledge to purposefully be kinder to ourselves and others, to let go and forgive more readily, to have more compassion when faced with dissent, and to think about how we can bring peace to our little portion of the world through the actions that we take with one another? The task of peace is certainly a lofty one. It can seem overwhelming and impossible, especially with the grand scale of hatred and intolerance that we are witnessing across the globe on a daily basis. But, in our own small way, can we each make an effort to make the world a kinder, more peaceful place to live? Can we speak out against hatred and agree to work on being accepting of the differences among us? Because if we don’t, who will? And if we do, what a difference could we make?

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” -Hillel the Elder

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer, Ph.D.

 

Screen shot 2013-04-02 at 1.20.18 PMHave you been exercising your compassionate nature?

Check out my latest article on the importance of fostering compassion in our lives in the new issue of http://www.az-lifestyle.com, Pages 61-63:

http://az-lifestyle.com/2013/4/413.html#p=62

The Beauty of Compassion

Human beings are social creatures by nature. We were designed to live cooperatively and to assist one another in the survival of our species. But in that very design of species survival we were also given an alarm system to warn us of potential danger. So we get anxious, we get scared, or we get angry in response to any type of perceived threat.  Back in cave people days, when threats happened only on occasion, that worked pretty well; fast forward to the modern digital age, when we see “threats” to our routine on not only a daily basis, but sometimes on multiple occasions throughout our day. A simple faceless text or email can send us into an orbit of upset. Relationships are impacted. Our ability to live cooperatively and compassionately has been compromised.

Think now about the last time you got upset with someone, whether from a faceless text or phone call, or a face-to-face interaction. How quickly did that feeling arise? How did it feel in your body? Did you hold on to the upset for a while or were you able to let it go fairly quickly? Many of us seem to have a tendency to hold onto our upset. Sometimes we even nurture it: “I can’t believe that person acted that way,” “What is wrong with them?” We stay stuck in our perception of what happened, justify our upset, and even feel deserving of it. But when we do that, we stay stuck in our upset too. Do we deserve that?

Compassion involves being able to step out of your own perspective and become aware that other perspectives exist. You don’t have to agree with the other perspective, but rather acknowledge that it’s there and that it feels valid to the other person, just as your own perspective feels valid to you. Compassion is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself, which is akin to empathy with the added element of having a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another. Compassion asks that you step out of your viewpoint and recognize that another viewpoint exists alongside yours.

So, how does this work? You are angry at someone and I am suggesting that you internally empathize with them? I am. The minute you are able to empathize and have compassion, your anger will diminish and you will feel better. More than that, you set a course for healing the emotional wound. What effect will holding on to anger have? It will keep you in your anger and upset. But there’s more… Recent research on compassion shows significantly positive health benefits: people who practice daily compassion meditation are found to have brain changes associated with improved stress response, improved immune function, improved ability to receive support from others, improved mood, reduced anxiety, improved ability to recognize other’s emotion and improved overall sense of well-being and life satisfaction. Wow!

Compassion isn’t just for others though. How kind are you to yourself these days? Research shows that this is different than self-esteem, or holding yourself in high positive regard. High self-esteem actually has its down sides. It can create narcissism, a better-than attitude, and can create interpersonal distance rather than connectedness. Self-compassion, on the other hand, allows for self-kindness rather than self-judgment; allows for being an imperfect human in kinship and connection with other imperfect humans; and allows for an appreciation of where you are in the present moment rather than over-personalizing situations. In fact, studies on self-compassion show that self-compassion is associated with more stable feelings of self- worth over time, less social comparison which often leads to shame, less self-consciousness, and reduced anger. Starting to sound pretty good isn’t it?

So, how do you do it? How do you get from anger to compassion in heated situations with yourself or others? You meditate on compassion daily. Seriously. That research that I’ve been mentioning – it has been on people who practice compassion meditation daily. It’s that simple.

In your mind and your heart, say to yourself, then to someone you love unconditionally, then to someone you are in conflict with, then to someone you don’t know very well, then to the whole world:
May I/you/we be filled with loving kindness
May I/you/we be well
May I/you/we be peaceful and at ease
May I/you/we be happy

Give it try. Practice it daily for a month and notice the difference in you. So much to gain, and so very little to lose…

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer, Ph.D.

I ran across this beautiful Mother Theresa quote on FaceBook and thought I’d share it …

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Perspective making and inspiring, yes?? Let’s just do our best…

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer
Editor’s Pick on Paperblog in Novemeber!

Life can be unkind at times. Sad but true. Situations can be unfair, people can be hurtful, things can turn out much differently than you’d hope they would. At times like this it is very hard not to get caught up in being a victim to it all. You know what I mean. Caught in that angry blaming place of “It’s so unfair! I can’t believe this happened to me!” Human for sure, normal response in the short term, but completely unhelpful in the long run.

What happens if you let yourself stay in that place of upset and anger? If you poke yourself with it over and over. Well…you stay upset and angry. So, what’s the alternative? Let go and forgive. How can you forgive when you’ve been unfairly wronged, you may ask. You remind yourself that forgiveness is not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about letting go of a hurt that will keep on hurting you unless you release it. It’s about choosing to harbor compassion in your heart rather than hate and anger. It’s not always easy, but I will argue that it is the right choice…and in that choice you are no longer a victim to the hurt and the upset.

Forgiveness comes a little bit easier when you recognize and accept that there are just some things in this world that are out of your control. No matter how hard you would like to make those things right or fair, you can’t. Forgiveness and compassion offers us an opportunity to heal and let go so we can move forward. Anger will just keep us mired in our upset. It will stunt our growth. It will stop us from moving ahead on our path, because it blocks our progress and drowns out our intuition. Forgiveness is not about righting wrongs and undoing the hurts of the past, it is about allowing ourselves to build a healthy, meaningful future.

So, when you are feeling hurt and angry by life and those in it:

  1. Take a breath
  2. Say a little prayer, if you need some divine assistance
  3. Find the compassion in your heart
  4. Ask yourself to release your hurt and upset
  5. Repeat the process as often as you need…

It may take some time and a lot of purposeful practice, but once you get to that place of forgiveness and compassion in your heart, you’ll be glad you’re there. Give it a try and see if it feels right to you?

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

 

 

 

What do you want out of life and how can you get it? Cut and paste the link below to see my latest Mindset column on that very topic in AZ-Lifestyle.com, pages 74-76, hot off the presses:

http://az-lifestyle.com/2012/9/912.html?pageindex=58

Great issue all about the new Arizona performing arts season. Check it out…

 

 

What Do You Want?

You can’t always get what you want. Right? The Rolling Stones even wrote a song about it. But is this really true?

What would you say if I told you that you can have pretty much anything you want to have in life? You can you know. The secret is to allow it to take shape in the way it’s going to take shape. It just may not look how you thought it would look.

Often, when we set our sights on what we want, we envision exactly how we want it to be. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually a really good start…something to aim for. The problems arise when we hold steadfastly to that vision and don’t allow it to morph and take shape given the circumstances of our lives. Our new job MUST pay X amount of dollars, our new love interest MUST have X physical attributes, our new home MUST be a single family 3-bedroom house with a pool, our health problems MUST completely recover and go into remission, we MUST lose X amount of pounds and fit into a size X. We tell ourselves that this is the way it must be and anything less won’t do. And with that, without even realizing it, we’ve put ourselves into a box of our own making. The vision itself turns into a constraint.

What if instead, you allow yourself to set a goal and then make choices along the way based on what life presents you. You get offered a decent new job that doesn’t pay as much as you would have liked, but could lead to new opportunities if you try it and stick with it. You meet a man/woman who looks completely different than you had envisioned, but is kind and considerate, making it worth going on another date to find out more. You search for that house with a pool and find you can’t afford it, so you allow yourself to consider a condo with a nice community pool and work out room, just out of curiosity. You discover your back still hurts if you do certain things, so you allow yourself to do daily excises and experiment with finding things you can still do. You lose 10 pounds instead of 20 by going to the gym and eating well, and you discover that you feel healthier and happier, despite not reaching your original weight goal. Instead of rejecting new options off-hand as not what you had originally wanted, can you allow yourself to remain open to the possibilities of what may be available to you at this point in your life…without judgment?

You see, it’s our judgments and expectations that get in our way…theyactuallyput us into our own boxes. What I mean is, most things are only “bad” or “not right“, if we tell ourselves they are. Our thoughts are just our thoughts, not the Truth with a capital T…and luckily, we can change our thoughts if we allow ourselves the option.

By letting go of the judgments and permitting ourselves to consider alternatives we open up the box. We are no longer constrained; we are free to have just about anything we want because all of a sudden we are open to the possibilities in front of us. You CAN enjoy your life, if only you allow yourself. We often resist this openness to options out of fear of loss of control. The truth is, once we are aware of the constraints and let ourselves consider new options, we often feel liberated. What we thought was control was just restriction instead! So why not just let your thoughts be just that –thoughts, instead of obstacles? Allow yourself to explore your options in life with curiosity and wonder.

So, if you find yourself feeling trapped, constrained, stuck or frustrated, maybe ask yourself, “am I considering all the options?” Be thoughtful and aware. Let yourself be curious about how things might look if you challenged yourself to look at it another way. You’re just considering the alternatives after all. Then, most importantly, listen to that inner voice of yours. It may just be trying to tell you what you need to hear…”step out of the box”…”you can have most anything you want”…”it may just look a little different than you had originally thought.”

Maybe we can’t always get exactly what we want…but we can accept and enjoy what does comes our way, if we are open to taking a new perspective.

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

Dreams…our psyche’s journey into our innermost feelings. An open avenue for our intuition. No filters, no judgements. Just pure unadulterated inspiration,  if you are open to it. Are you open to it? If you are, try out this exercise that I learned from Dr. Joan Borysenko and let me know what you think…

1. When you awake, don’t move. Lie still. Keep your eyes closed or the dream will disappear.

2. Pay attention to how you are feeling emotionally and what your bodyis feeling?

3. Give your dream a snappy title (this will help you recall it later)
4. Rehearse it. Go through the whole dream in your mind as best you can exactly as it happened. Do this twice.
5. With the pad of paper you’ll keep next to your bed, write the dream down in the first person present tense.
6. Write down any accompanying thoughts and feelings.
7. Revisit your dream log from time to time and discover how rich your interpretation can become with time.
Have fun with this. Don’t give yourself a hard time for not recalling every detail or for not being an expert dream analyst. Be careful not to let your fears or judgements block you. Approach the dream with wonder and curiosity. You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to make sense of your dreams. All you have to do is pay attention and let go of judgement. Be aware of how you feel emotionally and physically in relation to the dream and use these feelings as a guide for your interpretation.  Play with it and enjoy honing your new skill. If you just can’t seem to figure it out, talk about it with someone you trust and respect as a way to hear it out loud. Don’t put more stock in someone else’s interpretation than yours though…this is your dream. Enjoy this gift of discovering more about yourself and the issues that are/will be occurring in your life. Many new paths have been found at the end of a dream. So many doors open up to us when we allow ourselves to listen with more than just our intellect alone.

What are you dreams telling you? Are you listening?

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

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