abundantlifevegan

Spiritual Musings, Creative Inspiration, and Simple Vegan Recipes


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Why I am happier without Facebook (or at least less Facebook…)

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Of course this all started because of a conversation with my mother. Most of the time when my mother challenges me on something, I bristle at first, maybe get a bit defensive, and eventually come around to the conclusion that she is, in fact, correct.

About two weeks ago, my mother and I were chatting on the phone, and I was (as usual) complaining about how busy I am with my full time job, long commute and teaching several yoga classes a week. “I’m trying to meditate” I told her, but it still feels like there is not enough “space.”

“What about all the Facebook posts?” she queried. “Where is there room to be creative, to just think, to just be, with all the Facebook updates and sharing?”

Deep breath. Followed by several more deep breaths. Then the realization that she was absolutely, 100% right. Like many of us, I had access to Facebook on my phone, and on my computer at home, and literally every time I had a spare moment—I was checking Facebook or Instagram. Has anyone liked my post? Any good pictures to share? Have I been invited here or there? Etc. etc etc.

I decided at first to give it a week. One week, no Facebook, not on the phone, the computer anything. I admit—the first two days were very hard. I posted on my page letting people know I would be absent, and I was VERY tempted to check and see who liked it almost immediately! But after the first two days—I felt free. Yes, truly, I wanted to run around and wave my arms and shout “FREEDOM!!!” at the top of my lungs. Strange as it sounds—I was no longer tied down. It was so incredibly liberating to NOT feel obligated to check up on everyone’s life/ status/ baby photos/ vacation/ buzzfeed….

Some other things happened too. I was leaving the house earlier for work or the gym, because I didn’t have to check my phone first. I was enjoying the walks between the buildings on the campus where I work—because I was present, and not staring at the screen. I enjoyed the commute more, I either talked to my carpool buddy, or if she was driving, I slept. I felt more rested, more present, and that there was more “white space” in my head. When I got home from work, I would sometimes just sit, cup of tea in hand and (drumroll please…) DO NOTHING!!

In that same week, our desktop computer and my digital watch both died—as if the universe was coming together to say—“let go! You don’t need to be constantly connected, overwhelmed and burdened with the constant onslaught of information!” I even decided to take the Facebook phone app off of my iPhone. No more check ins, no more status updates. No one needs to know that I am at Durham Yoga Company for the 102nd time. Just sayin’.

After one week, I went back on— and discovered 4 messages, and 99 notifications. No way was I going to check all of those. And I had to laugh…there is also no way in hay am I that important! I made a commitment then and there to only check once a week. Just once a week. I would comment on or like things that were truly interesting, and then go. Go do something else. Connect with a real person. Breathe in the white space and feel grateful.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been that hard! I was worried that moderation would not be possible—but it is, and once you go off the Facebook for a little while, it becomes a whole lot less interesting.

To be fair, I am not fundamentally opposed to Facebook or any other social media for that matter. I love connecting with friends, and I DO enjoy seeing your baby pictures. (I also recognize the irony of sharing this blog link via Facebook. But I am grateful again that wordpress.com allows me to do that—otherwise most of you reading this would not see it, and would not consider possibly going on a Facebook diet. )

Changing my relationship with social media has changed my relationship with myself above all. I had become so hyper aware, hyper connected, and over informed—that my brain had lost the ability to truly pay attention. I had also lost the ability to just BE. Less connection with social media has helped me be more connected to myself, and with my priorities. And again, I am not against Facebook. But thanks to Mom, I began to see what I was missing out on in my own life while I was too busy updating my status.

Thanks Mom!

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Radical Honesty: I am a Piece of Work!

Time for some radical honesty here folks. Honesty with myself, with friends, with those I love. Some of this is hard to say, but somehow sharing makes it better, taking it out of the dark and into the light.

So what’s my big secret? Sometimes it’s all just an act. The positive, upbeat, healthy vibrant woman you see at work and in the community, yep—there are days when it’s all a show. There are days that I am just pretending like it is all okay, everything is good and wonderful—because I am supposed to, right? I am a therapist, a yoga teacher, all about mediation, and mental balance, and go get sunshine and eat some fresh fruit!

But guess what? The truth, the real truth, is that some days I feel so stuck in the ruts of my samskaras (mental and emotional patterns), stuck in habits that do not serve me, stuck in ways of being that serve only to bring me down, that I feel I can never change even though they are incongruent with my true self.

Yep, you heard right. I have a lot of mess, regret and frustration in my life. I have fears about my future, my health, my finances, and my spiritual progress.  Mainly, I worry a lot about getting it all right—having control, grasping for some solid ground to stand on.

More and more I realize that my fear comes from a deep seated belief that maybe I am not enough. More and more I realize that all my clinging to security, stability and permanence is just that—clinging, attachment—and that the only way to deal with the fear is to embrace it. To sit with the knowledge that there is no permanence, security or conformation in the external world.

Pema Chodron said it in best in her book When Things Fall Apart. She writes:

“We think that if we just meditated enough, or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death…we are killing the moment by controlling our experience.”

And that is the trap I fall into again and again and again. My samskara is to work just a little harder—eat more perfectly vegan food, meditate more, exercise more, smile more, try harder and keep striving the fears away.

If I control enough, my mind habits tell me, I won’t have to feel the loss, or experience this fear, or feel insecure about how I am. I won’t have to miss my family, wonder about the bills, doubt my competence, feel afraid or alone.

In those moments I am forgetting that feeling, experiencing and going through the loss, the fear, and the anxiety is what it means to be human. To experience life fully, is to know the depths of despair and the joy of freedom. AHHHH! So here I am trying to escape from the very things that makes us awake and alive!

And this is where it gets tricky for me. How do I change the habits that I know do not serve me, if it means I have to experience some form of suffering as I go through the change? It’s not that I want to embrace suffering with open arms, but I don’t want to run away from it either. That denies me the very thing that makes me, and all of us, human.

I believe the answer can be found in our willingness to step into the unknown. If the mental habits and patterns that I have formed have kept me in a place that is unhealthy for me, I have to be brave enough to go forward into a strange “in-between space” before developing new, healthier habits and patterns.

I have resisted changing some of my ways of being, because I have become utterly convinced that these patterns make me WHO I AM! When I accept that these patterns, are simply that—patterns—and nothing more—I can step into an even more evolved version of myself—no longer dependent on these habits and ways of thinking to define myself.  Exciting Stuff!

As we let go of the old habits and patterns, new ones will form—but luckily the new ones can be positive, and can help us to chip away at the habits we once believed defined us, and come a little closer to knowing our True Self.

What can you let go of in your life right now? What patterns, beliefs and habits do you hold on to because you’re comfortable with them, identify with them, or don’t know how to function without them?

I promise you, you will never get it right. You will never have it all under control. But have faith that when you embrace the chaos that emerges, we can illuminate that part of yourself that is solid, unchangeable and Divine.


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Kindness to all, myself included. Let this be your mantra.

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama XIV