Thursday, December 29, 2011

In Love?

It was a cool, crisp, but sunny day in Manhattan. I was delighted to be engaged in a lively conversation with a 27 year old cousin of mine that I had just met. Our conversation lead to an older couple we both know. He was shocked at the revelation of the wife that she was no longer in love with her husband of 50 years. He couldn’t understand how people could stay married when they were no longer in love. I smiled inside my head and was reminded of his youth with such a declaration and wondered if I would react as he was reacting to such news when I was his age.

When do we learn that falling in love with and loving someone are two different concepts and that one can exist without the other. Falling in love is just that, a fall, almost like an accident. Unknowingly you fall into something unexpected. It is exciting and fun being high on dopamine. I have fallen in love more times than I can remember. It can turn into love.

Love is a more conscious and deliberate choice. I truly can say that I love only a few people in my life and that love will not fade away and weathers all kinds of storms. Love makes you stay or leave depending on your situation. Love is clear. Love does not expect, demand, or judge. Love does not have to make sense and this is the quality it shares with “falling in love”. They are both a condition of the heart and not of the mind.

I thought about the couple who were still together despite not being in love and I recalled the wife’s answer to my cousin’s question, “We have children and grandchildren now. What is the point of leaving him now?” I wonder if she is still looking for that feeling of falling in love and wonders if it is lost to her for good. I wonder if she truly wants to end her marriage or just doesn’t feel the love anymore.

What makes two people stay together in a marriage is still a mystery to me. I coach many clients who are in what may seem like a dysfunctional marriage to many for reasons that change every week. Marriage is a legal contract and as such it is binding even after the love is gone. That is the main reason people stay married in unhappy marriages. Many are also wise enough to know that it takes two and if the relationship is not a happy one, perhaps they need to take a good look at themselves first.

All of this was running through my head as we continued walking up 5th Avenue. I smiled thinking about all that he is yet to learn and experience in life and hoped that he wouldn’t have his heart broken knowing well that it was sure to happen!

If you are in the process of re-evaluating your marriage or relationships and need help making a decision, you may want to consider spiritual life coaching. Spiritual life coaching is a process where the client is always in the driver’s seat and the coach provides a safe space for exploration.  If you are interested in a 30 minute complimentary coaching conversation, please contact me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Power In Silence

When my life gets super busy like it does during the holidays, the thing I miss the most is silence.  By silence I don’t mean time alone. You can be alone, yet busy with your thoughts.  What I have grown to appreciate a lot these days is true silence: silence from doing, silence from thoughts, silence from words and silence even from images, memories, and emotions.  The silence I am writing about is similar to the one you experience after extreme exhaustion from intense physical activity, when you can’t do or think anymore. 

Most of us fall into silence by accident, it is almost like the side effect of something else.

Why do we need to be surrounded by noise? Noise is evidence of life. If you are not actively participating in life, you can turn on the TV and voila, you feel like you are part of it again. The sounds of the TV, playing a video game, calling a friend, getting on the internet, checking your emails, cleaning the house, making a list, … anything is better than sitting in silence, isn’t it? If doing and thinking are evidence of living, perhaps silence is associated with dying.

Part of our discomfort with silence is the lack of purpose associated with it. You don’t go into silence with a goal other than being silent.  It won’t get you a better job, do your laundry or your shopping, it won’t even help you relax, because it won’t take away your problems.
Silence is about being comfortable with you. Silence has no agenda. Silence is not a punishment, yet it can feel like one. We have been conditioned to make good use of our time, to be productive and get things done. Sitting quietly without even thinking towards something might seem useless and pointless, yet I have found it to be a powerful experience. 

Silence brings you back to you. The you that you lost doing all that stuff, playing all those roles, thinking about more stuff and more people, that you is craving to be quiet just for a while. Silence is similar to the white background of the canvas or the paper before you start painting. Silence brings clarity and puts you in a place of choice. 

Energetically, silence can calm you down especially if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. However, that is the hardest time to be able to enter silence. Your thoughts and worries always seem to creep in. I try to spend as much time in silence as I can in a day. I walk out of silence gentler, calmer, and wiser. I become less reactive and more conscious and aware of what I want. I am clearer and life truly does become easier.

Silence is not necessarily meditation. It does not have a ritual, mantras, visualizations, sounds, etc. associated with it. It is plain and simple. Silence is where people find their answers. I know this to be true in my spiritual life coaching sessions with my clients. When there is nothing left to say, we both get quiet and the answers show up. The more comfortable we are with silence, the easier it becomes. When you trust that the answer is there, it just hasn’t shown itself to you yet, you are more motivated to sit in silence.

Indeed, silence does have a purpose. Its purpose is to give you the much needed space to discover your own answers. I wish for all of you out there, a very happy holiday season, a stupendous new year and the gift of silence so you can finally hear your own voice!

Best wishes to you and yours for 2012 and beyond!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It Is Not About The Squirrel

She was concerned that her anger about what had happened would determine the outcome of her future. She could not let go of the thought that the course of her life had changed because of a decision not made by her, but by someone else. This fact made her crazy. She had done everything right, been smart, worked hard, only to find herself at the mercy of something/someone else. The powerlessness made her bitter and she could not move forward and onward with her life…

This describes the point of transition for many of my spiritual coaching clients. Whether they were just laid off from their jobs or served with divorce papers, it is the anger and bitterness that they have a hard time letting go of. The headlines running in their heads go something like: “How could this have happened to me?”  “Why did I trust him?”  “How can I trust again?” “What will I do now?”

A person going through a so-called involuntary transition, is focused on the event and all the details that go with it. Why, how, if only, … Thoughts and questions that begin this way, keep us focused on the event. Transitions are rarely about the event, yet when caught blind-sighted all we can do is go over and over the event and all the contained details. 

Transitions are about change, a fork in the road, a sharp turn to the other direction, a new path, etc.  What caused the change is like the squirrel who ran into the road and you tried to avoid, insignificant.  If the squirrel hadn’t run in front of your car, you wouldn’t have changed direction, so something had to happen. That is the point of the squirrel. That’s all.

So, if you are faced with a big decision, an unwelcome change, don’t sit in analysis mode. Don’t wonder why the squirrel had to jump in front of your car. Don’t wonder if you had left later or earlier that you might have missed the squirrel. And for heaven’s sake, don’t get mad at the squirrel.   All these thoughts, keep you focused on the squirrel and not the road and the journey ahead. 

There is so much ahead and more squirrels yet! When we are pushed to make a change, life is inviting us to go through a different door. This can be exciting, and definitely evolving, while being extremely unsettling.

Uncertainty is the way of the transition and the sooner we embrace it, the easier it will get.

If you are in the midst of a difficult transition and are focused on the squirrel, you might consider spiritual life coaching to learn to focus on the path ahead.  If you are interested in a 30 minute complimentary coaching session, contact me.