Posted by: devonellington | September 13, 2021

Sept. 13, 2021: Compassionate Pondering

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A few weeks ago, I bemoaned that it would take me a long time to heal from particular wounds and challenges that I accumulated over the past decade.

In the middle of my pity party, I suddenly thought, “Why? Why will it take a long time? It’s in the past. I made the best decisions I could at the time. Some of them served, at least in the short term. So WHY will it HAVE to take a long time?”

Once I decided it wouldn’t take a long time, I could start the process of letting it go. How many instances where I felt stupid or inept aren’t even remembered by others who were there? When I made a poor decision that negatively affected someone else, I apologized and tried to set things right, and not repeat that action.

Of course, when it was something that hurt me, it took me longer to forgive myself and move on.

That’s something on which I’m working.

Last week, I attended a virtual event at my old alma mater, NYU. The guest speaker was a psychotherapist, with techniques for coping with the enormous amount of grief with which we’ve all been dealing.

Suddenly, a series of realizations clicked into place, like when you make the bits fit on a Rubik’s cube. More things made sense, the root causes, and there was a clear path forward.

The series of retrogrades in which we currently find ourselves slow things down. Chiron, in particular, is associated with deep healing. With Chiron in retrograde until the Winter Solstice, it’s a good stretch of time to make time in one’s daily practice to work on what needs to be healed.

The past is past. It influences the present and the future, but can be used as a building block rather than a prison. But how to do that?

What I’m finding most useful is being honest (sometimes brutally) with myself about what didn’t work, and then looking as to why it didn’t work, and why I waited so long to make changes. What can I learn from those patterns that did not serve me well, and how can I make sure not to repeat them? What positives came out of the experiences and how can I apply those moving on?

For me, it takes a great deal of quiet time. Fortunately, since I work remotely, and I’m in a new area I’m trying to learn, I can carve out the time without feeling guilty.  And, you know, the whole pandemic thing so I’m not socializing. We shouldn’t feel guilty about carving out time we need, but it’s so ingrained that we are supposed to be constantly productive for other people’s gain, that it’s something to tackle daily.

Contemplation time after meditation time is a big factor in this.

In my meditation time, I sit quietly, and try to empty my mind. It wanders, I pull it back by following my breath. I try to sit for 10-20 minutes at least twice a day.  If I can sit for a third session, mid-day, I try to do that as often as possible.

After the meditation time is finished, I continue to sit for another stretch in something I call “contemplation time.” This is when the mind is free to wander. Not just wander, but ponder different items that need attention.

The trick in this contemplation time is that no self-flagellation is allowed. It’s not about avoiding mistakes. It is about avoiding self-battering about them.

Instead of “how could I be that stupid?” it’s “why did that choice/action seem the right one at the time, and how can I make better choices in the future?”

Compassionate pondering, after already spending time quieting the mind and body, has allowed far more clarity, which then allows for more positive action.

It’s allowed me to get out of my own way. The world throws enough obstacles in our path. The fewer we self-create, the more positive our journey.

I also mull over my thoughts in my private, handwritten journal. I’ve kept a journal for about fifty years at this point, and that has been one of the best mental health tools and creative tools in shaping my life.

These are some of the techniques that are helping me. Feel free to share any you’ve found helpful, too.


Responses

  1. […] post on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site is about compassionate […]

  2. It’s taken me years but I have finally learned to chop my To Do List in to smaller portions. I get such a feeling of satisfaction crossing ‘done’ things off my list.

  3. I’m so glad they work for you.!


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