Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A lesson from Yom Kippur, Living A La Carte!


Personal transformation is at the heart of my own inner work and my work with others. Yesterday morning as I contemplated going to the Holiday morning services, I found that I was stuck in a, should-I-go-or shouldn't-I-go tug of war with myself. I remind myself that I am a work in progress. No kids to get ready as they are grown and out of the house, I found it was hard to motivate myself to put on a pair of high heels, knowing that I would have to park the car a distance away from my Temple and walk the rest of the way, wearing uncomfortable shoes in the rain.  My favorite part of the service has always been the sermon because buried in the sermon is the treasure, the seeds of change and renewal. But for the past few years I realized that I just wasn't happy attending holiday services without the kids, When the structure of a family changes due to divorce, death, empty nest, change in financial status, illness or other reasons, new traditions or modifications in the old rituals might have to be established to make a better fit for the new situation.

I hemmed and hawed until the time for departure came and went.  The decision to not go, had been made by default or so it seemed. But the decision to not go at all, had not been made yet. Via text from a friend, I found out that the meditation service being held later in the day was a lovely service and so I made the decision to try something new.  I knew I had to shake things up and try something different because the old script wasn't working for me anymore . I finally gave myself permission to think creatively and made a break from the old thinking. Why hadn't I thought of this before?  I could make my own rules now! So I put my comfortable shoes on and out the door I went.

I was met by an abundance of available parking spaces right in front of the Temple, a few familiar faces greeted me with hugs and smiles and pleasantries. So far so good.  And just as my guard started to dissolve, I instinctually headed for the front of the sanctuary where my father-in-law used to save seats for us.  I think he arrived an hour before everyone else just so he could grab some of the best seats in the house! And in that instant of 'knowing and remembering' my eyes clouded. My in-laws haven't been to services in the last year or two, I think, as they aren't as mobile as they used to be.  I quickly recovered realizing that there were plenty of seats to choose from.  Another clue that I'm on the right track. This gathering was much less stressful than having to navigate myself through the morning throng of families. I found a seat right next to a good friend who was there as well. I took the seat next to her and took a breath. With that breath I found a space within myself that helped me to be there... really be there. My mind and body connected allowing me to be present in the here and now, not thinking about the past or future, only what was in front of me.  Ekart Tolle writes in his book A New Earth, "if in this moment all is well, then all is well".

Making this small change, choosing to attend a service I hadn't even been to before, created a shift for me.  Forcing myself to go to the morning service would have activated that fight or flight response in me and not going would have prevented me from enjoying and benefiting from something beautiful. The service was filled with beautiful music, meditation, and uplifting words that spoke of hope. It was lovely. As I watched people come up to the bimah to read from the Torah, I seemed to be finely tuning in to the supportive smiles and light laughter that passed from the Cantor and Rabbi to the Torah reader, especially if the reader was having a difficult time with the text. The tribute to the temple's custodian for his service of 35 years caused me to well up again. I was overwhelmed not by people's kindnesses, but by my keen awareness of them. I felt like I was in emotional overdrive. My friend just kept handing me tissues! It was kind of funny, but mostly interesting that this small change would have this kind of liberating effect, helping me to be so very present, in this moment, in this place.

This shift in perception helped me to re-experience a holiday that I had associated (in recent years) with feelings of melancholy and turned it into a joyful moment.  As a counselor and a life coach, I know first hand that it can be helpful to lean into the discomfort as difficult as this may be at times and I try to make this a part of my practice when I need to. To lean in, to rest against, to acknowledge the discomfort without judgement as to its goodness or badness was helpful for me.  Interestingly, I was told that the Rabbi's morning sermon was about exactly that, leaning in to the discomfort as our fasting reminds us to do.  And making one small change or modification, made a big difference for me helping me to 'morph' forward. Attending the morning service would have been too much, over stimulating and wouldn't have produced the desired results.  And not going would have given in to the flight response.  So instead of using the bright red crayon, I used a shade of red to bring about the experience I wanted to create for myself.   Sometime you have to through the rule book away and just take what you want. Life, A La Carte!






Monday, October 6, 2014

A Life Coaching Lesson from Yom Kippur!

Personal transformation is at the heart of my own inner work and my work with others. Yesterday morning as I contemplated going to the Holiday morning services, I found that I was stuck in a, should-I-go-or shouldn't-I-go tug of war with myself. I remind myself that I am a work in progress. No kids to get ready as they are grown and out of the house, I found it was hard to motivate myself to put on a pair of high heels, knowing that I would have to park the car a distance away from my Temple and walk the rest of the way, wearing uncomfortable shoes in the rain.  My favorite part of the service has always been the sermon because buried in the sermon is the treasure, the seeds of change and renewal. But for the past few years I realized that I just wasn't happy attending holiday services without the kids, When the structure of a family changes due to divorce, death, empty nest, change in financial status, illness or other reasons, new traditions or modifications in the old rituals might have to be established to make a better fit for the new situation.

I hemmed and hawed until the time for departure came and went.  The decision to not go, had been made by default or so it seemed. But the decision to not go at all, had not been made yet. Via text from a friend, I found out that the meditation service being held later in the day was a lovely service and so I made the decision to try something new.  I knew I had to shake things up and try something different because the old script wasn't working for me anymore . I finally gave myself permission to think creatively and made a break from the old thinking. Why hadn't I thought of this before?  I could make my own rules now! So I put my comfortable shoes on and out the door I went.

I was met by an abundance of available parking spaces right in front of the Temple, a few familiar faces greeted me with hugs and smiles and pleasantries. So far so good.  And just as my guard started to dissolve, I instinctually headed for the front of the sanctuary where my father-in-law used to save seats for us.  I think he arrived an hour before everyone else just so he could grab some of the best seats in the house! And in that instant of 'knowing and remembering' my eyes clouded. My in-laws haven't been to services in the last year or two, I think, as they aren't as mobile as they used to be.  I quickly recovered realizing that there were plenty of seats to choose from.  Another clue that I'm on the right track. This gathering was much less stressful than having to navigate myself through the morning throng of families. I found a seat right next to a good friend who was there as well. I took the seat next to her and took a breath. With that breath I found a space within myself that helped me to be there... really be there. My mind and body connected allowing me to be present in the here and now, not thinking about the past or future, only what was in front of me.  Ekart Tolle writes in his book A New Earth, "if in this moment all is well, then all is well".

Making this small change, choosing to attend a service I hadn't even been to before, created a shift for me.  Forcing myself to go to the morning service would have activated that fight or flight response in me and not going would have prevented me from enjoying and benefiting from something beautiful. The service was filled with beautiful music, meditation, and uplifting words that spoke of hope. It was lovely. As I watched people come up to the bimah to read from the Torah, I seemed to be finely tuning in to the supportive smiles and light laughter that passed from the Cantor and Rabbi to the Torah reader, especially if the reader was having a difficult time with the text. The tribute to the temple's custodian for his service of 35 years caused me to well up again. I was overwhelmed not by people's kindnesses, but by my keen awareness of them. I felt like I was in emotional overdrive. My friend just kept handing me tissues! It was kind of funny, but mostly interesting that this small change would have this kind of liberating effect, helping me to be so very present, in this moment, in this place.

This shift in perception helped me to re-experience a holiday that I had associated (in recent years) with feelings of melancholy and turned it into a joyful moment.  As a counselor and a life coach, I know first hand that it can be helpful to lean into the discomfort as difficult as this may be at times and I try to make this a part of my practice when I need to. To lean in, to rest against, to acknowledge the discomfort without judgement as to its goodness or badness was helpful for me.  Interestingly, I was told that the Rabbi's morning sermon was about exactly that, leaning in to the discomfort as our fasting reminds us to do.  And making one small change or modification, made a big difference for me helping me to 'morph' forward. Attending the morning service would have been too much, over stimulating and wouldn't have produced the desired results.  And not going would have given in to the flight response.  So instead of using the bright red crayon, I used a shade of red to bring about the experience I wanted to create for myself.   Sometime you have to through the rule book away and just take what you want. Life, A La Carte!