menu of gratitude – a weapon

**This is the fourth post in an ongoing blog series, featuring some practical tools and activities. Fill up your arsenal and collect your weapons for recovery.

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When day after day is spent in combat, nothing seems to matter anymore. We are perfectly dissociated from life’s harsh realities, ranging from pressures at work to a family member’s failing health.

We are also distracted from the world’s arrant beauty and our daily graces.

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By counting our blessings, we can guard ourselves from one of our enemy’s most tantalizing strategies – isolation. With a clouded awareness, we become distanced from both positive people and experiences that give us reasons to live.

Mindfulness draws our focus away from the skin-and-bones surface, and allows us to find the beauty in life’s substance. Quite frankly, gratitude can help us heal and become whole again. It brings order to chaos, by showing us that what we have is actually enough.

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By creating a running list of life’s simple gifts, we can see how naturally deserving we are. Concentrating intentionally on gratitude, suddenly our positives outweigh the challenges we face.

Create a menu of gratitude:

Before bedtime, ask yourself – What are you grateful for? The sugary smell of spring? The steam on your morning tea? The warm comfort of your mother’s arms? Do not disregard the seemingly small blessings. No gift should be denied. Every blessing personalizes your armor and builds your protection.
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Alex

grounding tools – a weapon

**This is the third post in an ongoing blog series, featuring some practical tools and activities. Fill up your arsenal, build your team, and collect your weapons for recovery.

*****

When we find ourselves slipping into a spiral, even simple tasks seem overwhelming and impossible. The moment can become so loaded that we feel helpless to stop from spinning out of control. In these times of powerlessness, it is difficult to not be rendered immobile. We perceive the feelings as insurmountable and permanent, but we mustn’t let this fool us.

In the toughest moments, when it seems your true voice has been lost in a whirlwind, you can ground yourself. Although you may not be able to completely eliminate your struggle, you can claim the power of this current moment.

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Once you prove to yourself that you can regain a sense of control today, you will be stronger and more prepared for battle tomorrow. Here are some tools you will need to ground yourself:

1. Lucky charms
No, not the delicious breakfast food, although those are a great idea too. Choose a familiar object to keep with you at all times. Just holding this token can bring you back to earth and provide you with comfort – like a hug, embodied and actualized. Maybe it’s a smooth rock, a cross, special necklace, or a penny.

2. Awareness
Where are you? Remind yourself that you are safe in this moment. This is normal, although it may not make perfect sense right now. Firmly plant your feet flat on the ground. Hold your lucky charm in your hands and feel its texture, the weight of it. Notice your surroundings, what you see, smell and hear.

3. Visuals
Visualize yourself literally in control. Draw up an image of a box, put your fears and thoughts inside of it, and cast it aside. You do not need to get rid of it right now, but see yourself locking up the box and putting it into a drawer, out of sight.
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to be vulnerable

Life, love, vulnerability.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

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C S Lewis

the small stuff

What excites you?
What makes your heart skip a beat? Catches your breath?
Makes your knees tremble?

You’ll want to stop and think for a moment to make sure you’re response is truly profound. It’s tough to answer because most of our lives are spent in the mundane. We think we can find gratitude only in the great landmarks that define our lives. But it is not your new house, your white wedding, or the dream job.

Rather than the big punctuations, our greatest gifts are the small details hidden within. The small stuff. These moments are often overlooked and discarded, so it takes vigilance to notice and them. When we stop waiting to be grateful exclusively for life’s grandest moments, we will find shortcuts to happiness in our daily lives.
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that we may learn to bear the beams of love

Allowing someone to love us is equally difficult as actually loving someone.

At least once, you’ve likely looked around and thought, “I don’t understand why you love me.” You are being loved without feeling deeply deserving of love. This is normal. It comes from the very nature of unconditional love, in which we are loving in a way that is more than baseline requirements. We are taking the risk to offer a love that is otherwise not needed. I’m convinced this is one of the more powerful feelings we can experience as humans.

I think a lot about isolation.

One can become so well-practised at being unloved that they cannot accept it. When someone genuinely loves them, the only thing they know how to do is push them away. They cocoon themselves in a false security that seems impenetrable. Unbreakable.

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And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love
And these little black bodies and this sun-burnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove – Blake

In order to endure love, we must make ourselves vulnerable. We must risk loving without the certainty that it won’t be rejected or exploited. We must love wildly, until we forget where we are in space, and what the date is, and who will judge us.