Archives for posts with tag: life

The Gentlest Kindness… Self-Forgiveness.
So, none of us are perfect. In fact, we are perfectly imperfect. We have proclivities that can go awry. And we can do some damage to others and ourselves, thanks to our free will and our lack of insight and awareness. So what do we do now after our actions? We have to be humble enough to call it what it is….human error.
Welcome to the human race where none of us know it all or do it all right. But it is in the reflection of our offense that we have the opportunity to become the better person and grow to be the best we can be during our time on earth.
We all have a human debt list, with different items on it. Ours may not be the same as someone else’s, but you can be sure we all have one. How backlogged is yours?
But all is not lost if we can learn from the experience, rethink our actions, move through the uncomfortable feelings and resolve to increase in awareness before we venture out again and repeat the same action. And when appropriate, repair the damage to the relationships it impacted especially the relationship you have with yourself.
Most of us tend to lose a measure of trust, self-respect and self-esteem when our actions are hurtful to others and to ourselves. Without addressing the actions, it is easy to see how we can tie up emotional energy in the wrong direction…toward the hiding from ourselves and others into the darkness of guilt and shame rather than toward the light of inquiry, compassion, insight, resolve and awareness.
But what keeps us from wanting to release its painful grip on us. Perhaps it is because we do not do the work noted above and we think we deserve some kind of punishment. Those of us who have a belief in a punitive God or Higher power rather than a merciful God or Higher Power tend to have a more difficult time with self-forgiveness.
It is interesting that in America, according to a poll taken when America reached the 300 million population mark on Tuesday, October 17, 2006, the majority (close to 70%) believe in a punitive God or higher power. Some studies show it keeps you more honest and less likely to cheat if you believe in a punitive God/Higher Power.
I believe this reflects more our own level of moral development (see Kohlberg’s theory of moral development). The first level of moral development (pre-conventional) has us in obedience out of fear of punishment. If we have the highest level of moral development we would be honest as a practice stemming from value based living rather than rules or convention. But only we can move forward to higher moral development with inquiry, compassion, an understanding of humanity, insight, resolve and awareness.
Is it easy to forgive ourselves? If you have the courage to bear and tolerate discomfort and pain, you will succeed. If we tend to escape this task and hope it goes away by itself we will find ourselves building a dark pool of toxic emotions that keep us from embracing our whole self. It is a journey of many emotions and not all are pleasant but in the end with gained understanding, empathy and resolve we are the better. And this is the gentlest kindness of the gift of self-forgiveness, a better, more understanding and kinder you toward yourself and others.
Many want to take shortcuts and make it an intellectual experience sidestepping the varied emotions evoked. But self-forgiveness is largely emotional with appropriate self-talk and processing guiding the experience.
So think about where you stand in your ability to forgive yourself. Think about the higher power you believe in: punitive or merciful and think about your courage to face and live through uncomfortable emotions.
If you can learn the gentlest kindness: self-forgiveness and truly get to know a merciful Higher Being, you will want to be kind, compassionate and empathetic with everyone and live these qualities out daily with others for this relationship of love, not fear, with our higher being, inspires us to build the bridges of unity. It is in the recognition of our human condition that we can unite and empower each other to be the best human we can be so we can live in the most evolved state of being… a love consciousness that desires each to develop to our fullest in all our human dimensions.

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.
http://www.mariahildapinon.com

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A Prayer of Thomas Merton

 

Dear God.

I am not sure where I am going. I do not see the road ahead. I cannot be certain where it will end.  I do not really know myself: sometimes I fool myself, pretending to follow your will, yet knowing I am not. But I believe this: that the desire to please you, does in fact, please you. I hope I have this desire in everything I do.  I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may not know it at the time.

Therefore, I will trust you always and I will never be afraid, because you will never leave me to face my troubles alone.

Thank your dear God, for all you have given me; for all you have taken from me; and for all you have left me.

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com

 

The Wisdom of the Enneagram

 

The STAGES of the WORK

 

If we were to really observe ourselves, we would become aware of our habits.

If we were to become aware of our habits, we would let go and relax.

If we were to relax, we would be aware of sensations.

If we were to be aware of sensations, we would receive impressions.

If we were to receive impressions, we would awaken to the moment.

If we were to awaken to the moment, we would experience reality.

If we were to experience reality, we would see that we are not our personality.

If we were to see that we are not our personality, we would remember ourselves.

If we were to remember ourselves, we would let go of our fear and our attachments.

If we were to let go of our fear and attachments, we would be touched by God.

If we were touched by God, we would seek union with God.

If we were to seek union with God, we would will what God wills.

If we were to will what God wills, we would be transformed.

If we were to be transformed, the world would be transformed.

If the world were transformed, all would return to God.

From The Wisdom of the Enneagram  (Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson)

 www.mariahildapinon.com

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

 

With an understanding of the process and roadmap of grief…it is time to do some work to release the old lingering feelings of loss. This is an exercise to help us work through any of our losses.  It is a process not a onetime event and exercise so repeat as often as necessary. And by all means seek professional help if you or others deem necessary.

First take an inventory of all the unfinished loss you are carrying around. Go as far back as you would like and is necessary. The size of the loss is not what matters; it is how you feel about it. It can be loss about innocence, youth, ideas, jobs, relationships, dreams, pets…anything you have given meaning to. Make the list as long as is necessary to dig up all the toxic pile.  Jot each one down in one word or statement.  

Take a deep breath as you think about each. Write one salient feeling associated with each one. On a scale of 0-10 (10 being the strongest possible feeling) rate each one. Work with the strongest ones first or weakest ones if you prefer. You goal as you experience each one is to slowly see a drop in your rating scale of each so that a 9 becomes an 8 and so on, until it is at a 0 when possible.  (There are some losses that will always leave a residual sting and perhaps a zero is not the desired goal such as when a parent loses a child. Yet it is possible for many to get to zero.) Remember lowering the rating scale is about the intensity of the feeling, not about your level of care for the loss.  You will always care about it but it will be a source of joy and strength in the future when your grief work is over.  

How do you know which losses are still lingering?  How do you know when your grief over a loss is over?  How you feel about it when you recall it will tell it all.

Whenever you think about or see anything that reminds you of your loss, you will feel a shift in your emotional state.  If you are not finished with your grief work, the shift is downward, diminishing, and restrictive, you may not want to go there as you “will feel bad all over again”. The emotional strings get pulled and you have a reaction to stop the feeling, escape, make it go away, make it go under a façade again.  Usually they are feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, fear or shame.

Welcome this visit from your feelings instead.  This is the opportunity for coming face to face with these feelings that pull us down and are tying up our energy in the wrong direction. Sit with your feelings and letting them just be and experience their aliveness in our being until they dissipate. Resist holding onto them or pushing them away. Just letting them be gives a sense of relief, just like when you go empty your bladder. You will feel better and lighter.  The feelings may surface again at a later time, but let them be. Name them and let them visit and let them pass through you. Repeat as often as they visit. 

Eventually you do run dry and then when empty you can be filled with more light and loving energy that is always there waiting to drop in on us. Remember when the feelings are reduced you will be able to hear the thoughts related to those feelings and can explore and challenge any self-defeating or limiting ones.

If when you think about it, you feel truly peaceful and can find strength in the experience of the past and have drawn insights or just feel complete with the ending, then your grief over that issue is over.  You will have no adverse feelings, only peace and perhaps joy as it was a great learning opportunity for you and now a part of your life history you can stand on with calm and acceptance.

Do this exercise as often as you need to and work on as many issues as are necessary. The reward is more energy for being more of the best you.  The healed and transformed you. Remember you are the author of your life.

www.mariahildapinon.com

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

The journey of grief continued…

Anger/Resentment/Criticism show up and this intense energy is often feared.  We do not see it as a gift and how it is valuable but rather as a socially unacceptable feeling.  Why?  Most of us do not handle this intense feeling of anger well. Our skill set may be limited or past experiences have not had peaceful outcomes when anger is involved. These disempowering outcomes perhaps have done more damage than good to relationships and from here comes our fear of this intense energy. Yet if we think about it, this gift of the energizing power of anger when utilized correctly and in civilized ways is what we need to pull us out of the panic pit or the depressed mode. We need it to make the changes necessary in our life to move us forward to reorganize and redesign our life. How else do we get this energy, when we have been de-energized by our loss? It naturally comes as part of the journey.  Anger can narrow our focus to take action. Yet if we misunderstand and misuse the gift, we can get a hardened heart and hurt others as well and stay stuck in this venom that indeed can poison us and our health. In anger we can find courage to move on.  It is a good tool when in good hands guided by a good head. But then as we move on we feel the strings of guilt.

Guilt is normal when we have done or failed to do something, it becomes unhealthy when it is out of proportion to our involvement in the situation. Yet we will feel that sense of remorse… why should I go on without what I lost, why me, what did I do wrong or not do? I have no right to go on.  It might mean I do not care anymore. How do we keep memories alive? But if we have experienced forgiveness and acceptance we can easily admit the guilt and let it go.  Unresolved guilt can make us miserable for years.  But if we move on, how do we return when we can’t go back?

We Resist Returning to life as usual as it is difficult, demanding and unpredictable.  The familiar feels safer and oftentimes we would rather get stuck on grief than face a new world and decisions. Many out there do not let us grieve and we feel as if grief is out of place in their world and we are left to carry it alone inside ourselves…no one wants to talk about the loss anymore, yet we still carry it. Everyone forgets our loss, but we are still living the ramifications of all the changes in our life. But thankfully, a thread of hope can keep us moving forward if we do not despair.

Hope shines through since we are human and need the warm affection and encouragement of those around us.  It makes it easier to let go of our unrealistic attitude of wanting to shut the world out and all the opportunists for meaning again…not replace, just play again, just participate in the dance of life again. And this new chapter and beginning is not a sign of disloyalty to any of our past or any person of the past. But we will never be the same again.

We Embrace Reality as a wiser, stronger person. We can never be our old self again…it is not possible. We have grown through this journey and are different and changed.  Yet depending on how we responded or coped we will be stronger or weaker, healthier in spirit or diminished.  Those coping with less healthy ways never really work through their grief. Those of us with a healthy faith and healthy coping can be there for others who face similar losses as we are helped by the deepest conviction that we were not alone then and will not be in the future.  We did not do it alone; there was a higher power, God, after all.  Under the duress, greatness was sculpted in the interior chamber of our being and the rays of sun come through the dark clouds that have been inside our hearts. We may continue to struggle, but we can affirm the gift of life and go on living.  Because life is the gift and one day we will meet the end of our earthly journey.  Each loss in our life well grieved will prepare us for the ultimate loss…our very own life.  Grieve well to live and love well.

Remember the journey is unique to each one, but a roadmap helps us to keep moving and not get stuck way past what is a healthy resolution to our losses and grief. Love life and give it your best.  We only have this time now.

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

 www.mariahildapinon.com

 

There are some things in life we can change. There are some things in life we cannot change. If we can change it, we then seek solutions, but if we cannot change it and it was significant to us, then we need to grieve our loss. It is amazing how easy it is to get stuck on the journey of grief.  The two favorite parking places are depression and anger. There are those that choose to stay depressed as a way of life and those that carry a chip on their shoulder as a way of life.

 It is important to know that grief is a journey…an emotional one measured by the content and quality of the loss. Grief is not a mental experience nor defined by an objective standard.  We are in grief when we organize our life around our loss…that which is gone and absent.  And grief will continue until we organize and readjust our life to that which is present and around us.  Yet having a mental road map keeps us moving, normalizes our experience and validates our feelings along the way. The road map is not a fixed one and we can move forward and backward on the myriad of feelings. There are many books written on the steps of grieving and not all steps are identified with the same name or the number of steps. Elizabeth Kubler Ross  (On Death and Dying) and Granger Westberg,(Good Grief) both deceased offered many insights in their books from the work with those who grieve. Those of us who have lived grief can offer and expand on these insights. The steps are from Granger Westberg’s version, the explanation for each step morphs with my understanding and experience. 

Loss and grief are a universal experience; it crosses gender, age, socio-economics, and ethnicity, as well as cultural, religious and geographic divides. It unites us on the common ground of “meaning lost”. It seems no one escapes grief if we dare to care and love.

Loss happens and only we know how significant it is as we are the only ones that ascribe meaning to our loss.  So when loss happens in our life, the drama begins …yet without our acknowledging the drama. 

Shock and Denial quickly show up and we do not acknowledge the loss.  The reason of course is because the reality is often too much to bear all at once.  We cannot handle the dose of the reality.  It is like trying to stare at the sun all day without sunglasses. We cannot do this…so we are given the gift of shock and denial as a respite from the harshness.  But it is only temporary… we will move out of this place otherwise it is maladaptive to the process to remain in denial indefinitely. Shock and denial can last from a few minutes, hours, days and maybe weeks but then our facades break down and we release the emotions.

Sadness, Depression, Loneliness often follows the breakdown of our shock and denial.  A welter of emotions find their release in tears, but it can be overwhelming. If we do not move and release the emotion we can get stuck and get sick.  As long as we get triggered emotionally, it means our grief is not over, our work is not over. Notice the larger part of the word emotion is MOTION…keep the feelings moving through us. With these dampened feelings, we tend to isolate ourselves, lose interest in life and activities.  Life is hard to go on with, as there are so many adjustments, too many demands on us, yet, life goes on without us and we do not care. We feel no one cares, not even God.  We can experience despair.

Physical Symptoms of Distress can follow if we do not want to deal with the changes in our life, and we put up a front of being okay… our body soon will call us liars. We will experience symptoms of sleeplessness, or too much sleep, backaches, restlessness, eating too much or not enough, headaches; we can get sick. There is a strong relationship between illness and grief not dealt with in healthy ways. We are invited to re-examine how we look at life, explore our faith or lack of it.  Lost meaning invites us to create meaning again in our life. Beliefs are challenged.

Panic Strikes when we realize our life will never be the same again. We can think of nothing but the loss. We are hindered and less effective in everything we do. We cannot concentrate or focus and are paralyzed with fear.  The way we knew life is forever gone…forever hard to grasp.  We want to run away from life and living. We often slide back into the comfort of depression as we are familiar with it by now and social demands are eased. But how do we get out of this pit of panic…the scariest part of the grief… the realization things will never be the same again!!!!!!!!!! AGHHHH!!!! But just then the blessing of the energy of anger shows up!

to be continued…

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com

Let your pain refine you rather than define you.  How many times do we stay stuck on pain to the point that it becomes the shield or badge we hide behind or organize our life around indefinitely oftentimes permanently?  It becomes the excuse for just about everything and we do not realize our potential or dreams. This may not be intentional and at a conscious level or it may be, but all the same it leads to the same place: energy tied up to pain rather than powering our dreams and developing our potential. 

Pain is a natural result of being human and daring to care and invest our time and energy in the human laboratory of life.  I am neither minimizing nor discounting pain as it is an occupational hazard of life. However, pain can be worked through and healed.  The circumstances that created the pain and the story of how our pain came to be does not have to create our future. It can be a part of the past, a healed past that becomes a springboard to the future without any strings of the past influencing our tomorrows. We can learn from the past so our future is navigated with greater clarity. Turning back to our history brings us smiles rather than tears.  We can draw strength from the past rather than allowing it to diminish us and keep a hold on our energy needed for the today we live and the tomorrow we can still create.

Time heals wounds goes the adage, but we have to do our part. We need to call the pain by name, experience the feelings it generates to the fullest.  We neither run from them to avoid the pain by burying then behind anxious busyness or anesthetize them with drugs or alcohol or hold onto them for life like a “scarlet letter”.  We allow them to be in us. We accompany the feelings and allow them to teach us about what they want us to know about ourselves. And we let them pass through us and dissipate, until they show up again and we repeat the process.  Ask your feelings…what is this about for me? Do not cut them short due to the discomfort as they will take you on a journey beyond the surface of the first answer.  They can take you to the core of your deepest and oldest wounds by asking yourself.  When did I first have this feeling?

With the thoughts revealed that accompany this feeling you suddenly have the power to change a disempowering thought and release feelings associated with these thoughts. Our feelings of loss can be so strong and loud that they do not let us hear our own thoughts. So this is why we have to feel them to release them until they become more manageable and we can actually hear the thoughts related to those feelings.

It requires courage to stay on the healing task which means you will have to tell your fear it is uninvited in this process.  Keep breathing through it all for fear will hold you back.  Fear will consume your energy and rob you of your power to heal and release pain.  Fear will convince you that somehow this pain is crippling for life and now you will just have to live with it and drag it around like a ball and chain. How tiring!

Be not afraid to live through your pain, get support when needed, but do not live in it and with it for the rest of your life, just for the duration that is normal and necessary in your process of healing the pain…after all neither fear or pain pay rent to you, so evict them, they do not have squatters rights unless you allow it.

The pain of loss has the power to transform you. Heal your pain and evolve. Heal your pain, evolve and you will be able to give more to the world to transform and evolve it.

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com

 

Life can be like a ledger, tracking gains and losses.  Few of us suffer pain when we gain or lose if we agree with it and want it.  It is when we do not consciously choose it that we run into the emotional downward spiral.

At an unconscious level we choose everything for there are those who say it is what the soul has chosen for this lifetime. So everything even though it may feel like a painful loss is actually a gain. This premise presumes we are experiencing life from a higher level of consciousness.

Yet precisely on our journey to higher consciousness, we will stand in agreement with the above perspective and welcome all experiences as a doorway to growth and higher conscious evolution.

In the meantime, life happens, it gets messy and painful, jobs end, relationships end, earthly life ends, finances burden and redesign our lifestyle etc. and with these events a windfall of pain accompanies them unless consciously chosen.

The pain is what keeps us stuck, and into patterns of unconscious repetition unless we heal the pain, move to higher understandings and let it go…move on, release the grip it has on us.  We do not have to let go of the story of what caused the pain, it is the pain we need to let go of.  This is where healing is.  The art of healing our losses is indeed an art and a journey in itself.

Yet we often stay stuck not only with our pain, but with our story, seeking others to validate our story and make us right and someone wrong rather than validate the pain and realize that the story is a perspective and may or may not be right.

However at a higher consciousness it is not about being right or wrong, but living from a higher realm of understanding and being that does not invest time or energy into being right or wrong, but just staying in the light, expanded in our highest being and in unity. 

Seeking to heal all pain from our stories so that we can convert each painful experience into a diamond of light and draw strength from what has already happened is something to aspire to.  For as we release the pain and transform it, it will no longer diminish us, but expand us spiritually.

Loss in whatever size it comes must be grieved in order to heal…and that is an art in itself. More on this art of grieving will follow in other reflections.

In the meantime, take some time and make an inventory of where you are now on your ledger of gains and losses.  If there is a salient loss you are living now, “do not sweep it under the carpet” as they say, but spend the time to work through it, not around it.  When we experience the feelings fully, we can begin to release them, if we shortchange this process, it tends to last longer in our emotional bodies and will resurface later, reminding you that your work is not over.  Avoidance guarantees we will relive it again for “what goes under comes out sideways”, “what is not talked about gets acted out”.

We are invited to heal all our pain in order to evolve and shift to a higher consciousness…

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com