The Gift of Contrast and Choice

Have you ever gone camping for a week in the great outdoors?  Rejoicing in the sounds of nature, or for that matter, the deep, infinite silence of it all, savoring the scent and warmth of the night campfire and rising with the invigorating sun? It is a quintessential experience.  However, it can be challenging for me as a girl who adores indoor plumbing, air conditioning and detests gnatty flies and dirt.  Still, a week in nature is a gift.

The actual ‘nature gift’ is the shift in viewpoint I experience when I come home again.  The absolute bliss of a clean, warm shower.  The ease of it all!  The softness of sheets that smell just right.  The convenience of a washing machine and a dishwasher that simplify my life.  My blow dryer and flat iron!  This is the gift of contrast.

Whether literally or figuratively, stepping away from our daily thoughts and habits reinvigorates us and allows new viewpoints to reveal themselves.  Have you ever been hospitalized or had a loved one in the hospital for an extended period?  The beauty, quiet, and comfort of coming home are unparalleled. Contrast is one of the best educators we have, and as creators, we can learn to capitalize on that teacher.


Embracing the 50/50 paradigm

How- you ask? By embracing the 50/50 paradigm and expecting change.  When you live in a state of open expectation, you will fully welcome each circumstance and moment in your day, whether pleasant or not.  You will know that all things are temporary and precious because of the nature of change. When moments become genuinely unique to you, your world changes, and gratitude flourishes.  Service and compassion blossom naturally.   Our faith-flexing muscles are nourished with gratitude, building resilience.

Okay, let’s talk specifics for a minute.  How does one embrace the moment stuck in traffic?  Or the moment when the dog just did his thing in the front hall?  We pause (not too deep a breath in the case of the dog), check-in, rise above it- step up on your figurative, spiritual step stool, and come back into our centered self.

One quick and effective way to center yourself is to take a deep breath and blow it out slowly. Repeat the breath three times.  While you struggle with the thoughts of, “Oh, for Pete’s sake!” and you will- I promise, bring your awareness into your body.  Find your feet on the floor.  What does that feel like?  Find the feeling in your chest- noting the sensations in your torso.  Just check in with your body as you do those three deep breaths.  Your good friend, your brain will be distracted from its thought-swirling soapbox and settle into the body, allowing you to come back to the present physical moment.

Once centered, one can reflect. As an eternal learner, what is this teaching you?

Oh, wait, is that too big a question? Okay.  Let’s start small.

  • What are you feeling?

  • Noting that feeling, what thought created the physical response in your body to create that feeling?

  • Now- are you closer to reflecting on the lesson in your situation?

  • Once you recognize the lesson, you’re more than halfway home.  With centering and recognition, gratitude can emerge, and maybe even a little humor….who knows?

  • That contrast, brought to you by traffic or your stinky old dog, has become a gift to aid you in the progress you desire in your life.  So grateful!

Escaping your perfectionist judge & being grateful- your spiritual step stool.

Only a couple of things to say about this.  Our brain loves and protects us by design.  She has carefully coordinated a sequence of thoughts and actions to keep us safe, beginning from the time we were in infancy.  Most of us have a ‘perfectionist judge’ or an inner critic.  This beautiful, caring part of us is fiercely protective and loyal.  Sometimes though, she can be a bit harsh, even misguided.

You may recognize some of the thoughts she generates:

  • You’re doing it wrong.

  • Why did you say it like that?

  • You’ve got to be kidding me! Why did you do it like that?

  • YOu’re not good enough for this.

  • You smell funny. You look funny.  You’re safer home in bed.

So here’s the deal.  When your inner critic gets going down the wrong path, your creator self has a responsibility as a loving educator to help her out.  It might look like this:

  • ‘You’re doing it wrong.’ becomes, “Aw, sweetie, I can see you’re worried, but I’ve got this, it’s okay.”

  • ‘Why did you say it like that?’ becomes I am well prepared and capable.  I’ve got this.