Friday, September 19, 2014

What if I Fail? ……Worse yet, What if I am Happy?

What if I Fail? ……Worse yet, What if I am Happy?
Catherine Cook-Cottone, The Yoga Bag

What if I fail?” For some reason, this is the question that comes to mind when I set any positive or healthy goal. I have a bias. You see, I never worry about failing at going to bed too late, drinking wine, complaining, overworking, overthinking, obsessively checking my email, or being afraid. For some reason, these things seem to hold steady like gravity, ready to manifest in my life whenever I drop my guard.

What if I forget to stay up to late? What if I don’t have the persistence for another glass of wine?  What if I forget to be afraid?

No, interestingly, I never worry about stuff like that.

My fear shows up in a different way. It’s sneaky and hides under the pretense of  What if I fail?” When I am honest with myself, I know that fear-of-failure is a cover story.

Recently, I realized that there were 108 days until the New Years. In a flash, I had an idea. I have been feeling badly about losing my inertia for last year’s New Year’s resolution. In the past few months, I watched my commitment to meditate at least 5 minutes a day slowly fade away. The 108-days-to-New-Year was my chance to get it right. I asked, “How wonderful would it be to start meditating now and meditate all the way to the New Year?” I answered, “Very wonderful indeed!” So, I set a goal, put it in my countdown application on my phone, rallied people of Facebook to join me……and then the voice, “What if I fail?”

If these thoughts were a one-time-deal, it would not be so bad. Sadly, it seems that when I set my sights on any healthy goal, I fear failure almost more than I actually pursue the goal. Then, when I do fail-- I feel a deep sense of resignation, “You, see Catherine, I knew you’d fail.

Don’t get me wrong; I have successfully completed many things. Which begs the questions, “What is going on when I commit to self care? Why fail here?

I have heard it explained all of theses ways:

1.     You are afraid what other people might think if you fail.
2.     You think it means you are not capable if you fail.
3.     Humans hate change.
4.     Bad habits die hard.
5.     More things like that….

None of these land for me. It is not my fear of judgment, fear of change, or a habit. It is something else.

When I dig deep and shine the light, I think I am actually afraid that I WON’T FAIL. I am afraid I will accomplish the goal. I will meditate (or whatever other healthy thing I do), reap the benefits and…… happier.

Yeah, I think I am afraid of being happy.

I know.

It’s weird.

My mom used to be afraid to be happy.

She said that once you are happy, you have something to lose. In this way, sad is sort of safe. Do you think that maybe she was on to something? Perhaps our clinging to the mediocre, the comfortable, and the mind-numbing drone of half conscious living is all probably some sophisticated protective mechanism?

You see, if I continue with this meditating thing, I run a very high risk of becoming more conscious. If I become more conscious, I run a very high risk of seeing more and more reality and feeling more and more feelings. If I see more reality and feel more feelings, I might love, really love, the people in my life. If I love the people in my life, ugh- yeah- I might be happy, really happy- and now I have a lot to lose.

So, it is way better to stay in my endless cycle of starting to meditate and quitting and starting and quitting and hating myself for quitting and starting and quitting. Yeah- that is a way better life. Super safe and sort of sad—good old trustworthy, familiar, going nowhere- sad.

Hmmmmmm? I am reminded of something that I tell my kids when I make them put on their seatbelts in the car, “Safe is more important than happy.

Maybe- things that are true for seatbelts aren’t true for everything?

Maybe sometimes- Happy is more important than safe.

This time I am going to risk it. I am going to stick with my plan. I am going to meditate for 108 days. I am going to become more conscious. See more reality. Be more present. Feel more feelings. And Love more of the amazing people in my life with a big, conscious, open heart- even if it scares the hell out of me.

Yep, I am going to be happy, that terrifying and beautiful happy.

Watch for my smile on New Years. It will be 108 days big.


The Yoga Bag


Monday, September 15, 2014

108 Days of Meditation to the New Year- Guidelines

Here are the guidelines 108 Days of Meditation to the New Year:

          1. In the next 108 days you commit to meditating for 5 minutes or more a day (9/14/14).

          2. You can meditate in ANY WAY (e.g., sitting, walking, etc…)

          3. If you miss a day- (a) add a minute(s) to days for the rest of the week or (b) do a secret act of kindness for someone else. It will get your karma back. Rules are- you can’t tell anyone you did it- it is a secret act of kindness- solely for the good of it.

I am excited! I will send updates etc.. on Facebook. Also, will post on my blog The Yoga Bag and on the Facebook group page Meditation in the Bag.

Last, we are working on a workshop that includes cool things like yoga and mala beads….I will keep you posted!

Happy mindfulness!

How to Meditate: 5 Simple Steps

·      (1) Find a comfortable spot. This can be seated or walking.

·      (2) Choose a timer or meditation timing app.

·      (3) Decide if you would like to meditate on the three Dharma   Seals (i.e., impermanence, suffering, and not-self) or on an object.

o   If you select meditation on an object- set your timer and begin to focus on your object (e.g., candle, breath, mantra). As you notice your attention waver, with loving-kindness, bring it back to your object.

o   If you select the Dharma Seals, set your timer and notice your thoughts. One, observe that all things arise and pass away. Two, notice that life is inevitably painful and our reaction to life’s challenges is what adds suffering to pain. Three, notice that all of your thoughts, reactions, and ruminations are not you- you are more than that. You are the sum total of your choices.

·      (4) Ultimately you will notice that two things happen: (a) there are mental events (stimuli that enter through your cognitive self- thoughts, memories, and old feelings) and sense impressions (stimuli that enter through your senses- physiological self); and (b) your brain automatically labels stimuli (mental events and sense impressions) as pleasant, neutral or unpleasant.

·      (5) You then have a choice. You can return to presence and focus on your object or the Dharma Seals- or you can continue with the rumination (i.e., thinking, sensing, judging, thinking, sensing, judging, thinking, sensing, judging---- suffering).

That is essentially it.

There are more details and methods- of course.

Meditation is an opportunity to learn your reactions, limitations, and tendencies. Knowledge is power. So, meditation is empowering. Awareness opens the door to choice and practice gives us strength. Awareness, choice, and strength lead to growth.

Happy meditation and growth : ),

Catherine Cook-Cottone
The Yoga Bag