One Gift Turned into Three

A friend just sent me a link to this video. I loved it.

I decided to listen to another one of his other songs. I loved that one too.

Then this video caught my eye. It wasn’t by Keb’Mo’ but I also loved it!

Thanks Vani… for being the person who led me to this string of gifts.

No Matter Time Nor Place

Sreejit, as always, picked an interesting Dungeon Prompt for this week; one worthy of considerable contemplation. His instructions:

Which truth do you hold no matter the time or place? This isn’t a prompt about whether you believe in God or not, or in science or not. This is a morality question. For example, most of us can say that we believe in the commandment, thou shalt not kill, regardless of religion, but would you be able to stick with that even while witnessing your mother or sister being raped? Would you feel that it was wrong if another person, in that kind of situation, killed an attacker to save someone else? So the question here is, which of your values do you hold so strongly that it wouldn’t matter the time or place? Explain.

I did my personal therapy with therapists who used a process known as corrective parenting psychotherapy. When I finished my therapy, I decided I wanted to become a therapist. After obtaining the necessary education, I chose to do the same kind of therapy with my clients.

All corrective parenting therapists and their clients use a set of six self-care contracts as guiding principles in their lives.  The contracts are:

  • I will not hurt myself or others nor provoke/allow others to harm me. I will stay safe and honor the safety of others
  • I will not run away. I will stay and work through my problems.
  • I will not be sneaky or lie. I will be honest with myself and others.
  • I will not make myself sick or go crazy. I will stay sane and healthy.
  • I will not be passive. I will be proactive.
  • I am responsible for my feelings, thoughts, actions and attitudes.

There is no expectation that anyone will keep these contracts perfectly. In fact, if we look closely, we probably break one or more of them every day. By using them as guiding principles, however, we learn to become conscious of our actions. When we break one of the contracts, we look at how and why we broke it and determine what we will do to prevent ourselves from breaking it again.

I still place great value on these principles, but since I have no expectation that I will keep them perfectly it would not fit into the “no matter time nor place” criteria.

Since Sreejit mentioned the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, I decided to take a look at those. They are:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
  2. Thou shalt not make any graven idols.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor
  10. Thou shalt not covet.

I found it interesting to reflect on the list. Some I have broken at some point in my life either overtly or subtly, intentionally or unintentionally (3, 5, 8, 9, 10). I know there are people who would believe I have broken two others, although I would disagree with that opinion (1,2). One of the ten I have broken because it is not part of my belief system (4). There are two I have not broken and can’t imagine ever breaking (6, 7). When I ask myself if I would I kill in self defense or to save someone else,  I conclude that I can’t answer the question without being in the situation. I don’t see myself as someone who would ever commit adultery, but I am always leary of saying “never” about anything. All in all, I see that I cannot give “no matter time nor place” status to the ten commandments either.

I place very high value on my path with my spiritual teacher Amma. However, I don’t do many of the spiritual practices that she instructs us to do and even though I may ask her questions about my individual practice or my life, I don’t ask her for advice unless I am willing to do what she suggests I do. I clearly am not committed at the level of “no matter time nor place” even though my process with Amma, in many ways, is the center of my life.

I place great value on my relationship with my children, Sreejit and Chaitanya. For the purposes of this prompt, I reflected on whether I would give my life if it would save theirs. I would like to think so, and I think in almost any circumstance I would, but after recently rereading the book 1984, I recognize that when tortured, a person can be made to betray even those whom they love the most. So, while I think that this would be the value I would most likely hold on to “no matter time nor place” I cannot even be sure of that.

So after much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there is no value I hold that I can say, without a shred of doubt, that I would be 100% committed to regardless of the time or place. I wonder if it is possible for any human being to stay that committed to anything.

Letting Go of Suffering- Week Thirteen: Holding Yourself Accountable

accountable

It is easier to make contracts than it is to keep them. For example, if you made a contract not to eat chocolate, how long would you be able to resist if there was a piece of chocolate on the table next to you?

One way to increase the likelihood that you will keep your contract is find ways to hold yourself accountable. In my psychotherapy groups, clients do “Accountability Work” whenever they break their contracts. The structure we use looks like this:

The contract I broke:

How I broke it:

The mistaken belief that caused me to break the contract:

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking the contract again:

 

Here are some examples:

EXAMPLE #1

Contract I broke: I won’t eat junk food.

How I broke it:  I ate a bag of cookies.

Mistaken belief that caused me to break it: My feelings are not okay. [Note: People often use overeating as a way to shove down their feelings.]

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking the contract again:
1) I will remove all of the junk food from my house.

2) When I crave junk food, I will call a friend and ask for support.

 

EXAMPLE #2

The contract I broke:  I will not work more than 50 hours per week.

How I broke it: I worked 65 hours last week.

The mistaken belief that caused me to break the contract: It is not okay for me to say “NO.” [Note: You can’t say NO to everything you don’t want to do, but many people with this belief develop an unhealthy pattern of saying YES to everything.]

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking the contract again:
1) I will let my friends know that I am going to practice saying NO and would like their help. If they agree to help me, I will ask them for something every day for two weeks. [Note: This will also give you practice in hearing “NO.” When I did this exercise I asked someone to pay for my graduate school tuition!]

2) I will say the mantra “My needs are important” 1000 times a day for twenty-one days.

 

If you find yourself breaking a contract regularly, you may find it helpful to add a consequence to the contract.

Example #1 

Contract: I will clean the kitchen before I go to bed.

How I broke it: I watched TV after dinner. I went to bed without cleaning the kitchen.

Consequence: For the 7 days, I will not watch TV until the kitchen is clean.

 

Example #2

Contract: I will exercise 3 times a week.

How I broke it: I did not exercise at all.

Consequence:  Any week I do not keep my exercise contract, I will pick up litter for 45 minutes. I complete this consequence within 5 days of breaking the contract.

 

The assignment for this week is to be accountable for your contracts. In the box below, write the two contracts you will focus on this week. They can be the same ones you worked on last week, or new ones.

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Do accountability work any time you break one of your contracts:

The contract I broke:

How I broke it:

The mistaken belief that caused me to break the contract:

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking it again:

 

After completing your accountability work, ask yourself if you need to add a consequence to these contracts. If so what consequence will you set?

Consequence Contract 1:

Consequence Contract 2:

 

Each day this week, journal about your experience with contracts and holding yourself accountable.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

25a

Day 6

25a

Day 7

25a

 

See you next Monday for the fourteenth lesson.

To find the lessons in this series that have already been published, click here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

From Darkness to Light

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I just published a new post in The Seeker’s Dungeon. It is one that is very close to my heart. I hope you will run over there to read it!

From Darkness to Light

 

We Shall Overcome

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Ever since I learned about Song Lyric Sunday, songs from my past have been going through my mind. My 67 years of life has had so many phases and the music that is dear to me reflects all the different paths I have walked.

As I contemplated what song to use this week, I realized I wanted it to relate both to my life in the past and the present. What song could do that better than Pete Seeger’s version of We Shall Overcome.  As I read the words and listened to the video I chose to accompany it, I began to cry.

There were so many levels to my tears. I grew up during the struggle for civil rights and in a lot of ways that movement created the me I am today. As I looked at the photographs that are on the video below, my mind flooded with my own memories. Some of my tears were from remembering what this country was like before the push for civil rights, and feeling touched by how far we have come.

At the same time, the events of this past week (and many weeks/months/years before it) make it evident that we still have a long way to go. Therefore, another part of my tears were due to despair arising from the recent killings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas and the overwhelm of not knowing if, when or how we will make the violence stop. When will we (humans) learn to live with love and respect for all beings?

No one knows for sure who wrote We Shall Overcome. There is some new evidence that it may have originally been a gospel hymn composed between 1932 and 1942. The lyrics have changed over the years. The song as I know it became associated with the Civil Rights movement in 1959 and was soon considered its unofficial anthem.  (Wikipedia)

 

We Shall Overcome Lyrics

We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

We’ll walk hand in hand,
We’ll walk hand in hand,
We’ll walk hand in hand, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart…

We shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart…

The whole wide world around,
The whole wide world around,
The whole wide world around, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart…

We are not afraid,
We are not afraid,
We are not afraid, TODAY.

Oh, deep in my heart…

We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe,
We shall overcome, some day.

 

While my faith is a bit shaken right now, as I listen to the music, I know that this is my truth.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I, Karuna, do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

 

 

Finding Happiness

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Yesterday, I discovered a blog created by a fifteen-year-old Finnish girl (This Girl’s Bucket List).) She is signing her posts as “ThisGirl” so that is how I will refer to her.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the pieces ThisGirl had written. When I woke up this morning I noticed she had published a new post, so headed to her blog to see what she had to say.

In the new post, ThisGirl described the guest speaker who talked to students at her school yesterday. The speaker’s name was Marja Korhonen and she “talked” by looking at a board with letters.  A helper then voiced Marja’s message. ThisGirl ended her post with the trailer for Marja’s book.

As I watched the short video, tears started running down my face. Nine hours later, I re-watched it and had the same reaction. Once again, I have been presented with a person whose willingness to live life fully inspires me, profoundly inspires me. A person who teaches me that my life will be of value regardless of the circumstances. One who by example lets me know that it is possible for me to be happy no matter what challenges come my way.  As I age, I find I need that reminder more often than ever.

I will leave you with the same video. Be sure to turn on the subtitles by clicking on the CC at the bottom, unless you speak Finnish that is!

Written for Dungeon Prompts: Getting to Our Happy Place

Creating Your World of Abundance

I suspect all of us prefer living from a sense of abundance rather than scarcity. Moving from scarcity to abundance, however, requires that we change our unhealthy beliefs and behaviors, many of which have probably become habits.

Over the years, some of my clients have found it helpful to make the abundance contracts that I describe in this post. Each contract is based on principles I have learned in my personal and/or professional journey. Continue reading “Creating Your World of Abundance”