Being The Change: 10 Things I Learned From My First 100 Days (Part 1)
100 Days Ago I started a personal campaign that I called #MyFirst100Days (read my original post here.)
The goal was to combat the feelings of helplessness I had at the end of last year by taking more personal responsibility for my life; to change the world for the better by by changing myself for the better (i.e. heal the world by healing myself, create world peace by finding inner peace.)
Some of the main intentions that I set and kept were these:
-Yoga every day
-Meditation every day
-Educational/Spiritual reading daily
-Gratitude & intention setting
-Participation in one public non-violent action a month
-Participation in one community service action a month
-One cup of coffee a day
-Disengage from social media
-Disengage from television
-Write 2 songs
-Practice meditation amongst a community once a week
These 100 Days have been some of the most fascinating, humbling, illuminating, maddening and clarifying days of my life...
It will take me a long time to fully unpack the knowledge I've gained from this experiment, but for now I wanted to share the list of the top 10 things I learned.
This week I'll dive into the first 5, and the next week I'll do the other 5 (I realized as I was writing this post that it was way too long to expect anyone to read all at once. So we'll do it in installments...)
The Top 10 Things I Learned From #MyFirst100Days:
1. We Are Activated, We Are Rising, We Are Showing Up!
2. I Am Happiest On The Middle Path
3. Impermanence is a Bittersweet Comfort
4. Listening Is More Than Hearing, It's Willful Receiving
5. Magical, Impossible Things Happen When You Lead From Your Heart
6. I Use Food As A Drug
7. To Move Forward, I Must Face My Issues With Control, Anger and Trust
8. My Mind Has 5 Primary Modes
9. A Marriage Must Be Consciously & Intentionally Nurtured
10. This Work Will Take More Than 100 Days
We Are Activated, We Are Rising,
We Are Showing Up!
Through my intention to participate in non-violent action and community service, I have seen first-hand that there is a legion of smart, motivated, passionate people who are rising to the call for justice, peace and equality in these times. This movement consists of people of every race, gender, creed, age and sexual orientation, and it is built in LOVE and COMPASSION.
I know this because I experienced it first-hand:
It was an incredible day rooted in love and hope. It was one of the most inspiring things I've seen in my life.
(March for Science, Los Angeles)
(People's Climate March, Los Angeles)
Beyond demonstration, people are eager to help one another in Los Angeles! I witnessed love in action at the Skidrow Carnival of Love, The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and the Monday Night Mission, all of which were completely full-up on volunteers.
I think it's important to remind ourselves that there is a lot good happening in these times. There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful, and a lot of opportunity to give back and participate. Though it may seem like dark days, the light is there if I choose to look for it.
I Am Happiest On The Middle Path
During this period I chose to cut myself off from a lot of things I was choosing mindlessly at the time: TV, social media, controlled substances.
This abstinence was surprisingly not difficult. Unpleasant, yes, but not difficult. I've always found it pretty easy to cut myself off completely from things (I haven't had soda since I was 15 years old, I am now a few months away from my first anniversary of becoming a vegetarian.)
I'm good at drawing hard lines, it's in keeping with my tendencies towards the extremes. It's choosing mindfully in every moment that is actually difficult for me.
Default abstinence takes away my process of mindful choosing because I don't have to consider each decision as it comes. Saying "I never do ____" allows me to bypass the decision-making process altogether. In its own way, it's as mindless as addiction.
Additionally, what I discovered in choosing this default abstinence is that I cut myself off from a lot of the ways that I invoke fun, joy and silliness into my life. And although there are other ways to find those qualities, I actually do love TV, social media and partying. So, the question is, how do I find balance with them?
My goal in moving forward is to find what the Buddhist's call "The Middle Path." All things in moderation. And when they're not in moderation, choosing an extreme mindfully, accepting and knowing the consequences, and being mindful of the process to find balance once again.
I think that's where the power lies: choosing powerfully in the present moment what is best for you, fully aware of the consequences.
Impermanence is a Bittersweet Comfort
In the last 100 Days I have fought to keep my home loan, made repairs from the damages done by squatters on our house, worked with a contractor to remodel the house, moved out from my old apartment, moved into my new house, decorated, performed, meditated, written, marched, taken classes, produced events, etc., etc., etc.
A lot went down in these 100 Days...
...And the only thing that is true about all of these events is that none of them lasted.
I've discovered that the natural and inevitable impermanence of everything is a bittersweet comfort.
It's a comforting promise that when things are feeling difficult: "this too shall pass..."
And a bittersweet reminder that when things are feeling good: "this too shall pass..."
All I can do is be exactly where I am.
Listening Is More Than Hearing,
It's Willful Receiving
I've had to face some hard truths in this period of self-examination, and one of them is this:
I've come to understand that I generally have a hard time listening to others.
Besides the common problem of thinking of what I'm going to say while someone else is talking, or analysing what they've said before they've finished, I oftentimes just don't want them to be talking at all (hard truth.) At a certain point, if someone seems unconfident, becomes repetitive, overly detailed, or can't reach their point, I tune them out completely.
But I don't want to do that anymore. I want to be a good listener.
So, I set out to figure out why I was struggling to listen...
I realized in analyzing my process of listening that part of the problem is that I was equating listening to hearing with my ears and analysing with my mind.
But in truth, listening is a holistic experience that is also physical, emotional and energetic. Yes, part of it is aural and cerebral, but most of it is not.
Here's the trick I'm working on:
Beyond hearing the person who is speaking, and thinking about what they said, I try now to put myself into a state of receiving in all forms.
I now intentionally try to create a vacuum in my being where the energy of the other person can be received. This willful creation of space allows all of my senses, and extra-senses, to receive the person fully and to ingest a larger spectrum of their communication.
It's a practice, but slowly I'm getting better...
Magical, Impossible Things Happen
When You Lead From Your Heart
I had a number of profound experiences during these 100 Days where I was terrified to do something, but I came out the other end having created magic by intentionally centering in my heart.
One of those terrifying experiences took place toward the beginning of the 100 Days. Around that time I was honored to be asked to host the Alumni Awards Ceremony at my alma mater, CSULA. It's like CSULA's Oscars. It's a big deal to the university with a lot of important people.
The challenge of hosting is that it entails standing in front of hundreds of strangers, reading long paragraphs of text for almost 2 hours. And, you gotta make it compelling.
The day-of, I panicked, thinking, "I'm going to be boring! I'm going to screw up! I'm going to humiliate myself." I had truly worked myself into a very constricted place energetically.
Luckily, weeks before a dear friend of mine taught me a technique on how to connect with, and function from, my heart.
She encouraged me to close my eyes, and imagine grounding my energy down into the Earth. Then she directed me to draw energy through the Earth and up into my body, working all the way from my feet up to my chest.
Next, she said to imagine the same energy coming from the heavens, coming down through the crown of my head, descending to meet the energy from the Earth right at my heart center.
Lastly, she said to combine the two, heaven and earth, in my heart, and shine the light of that energy outward into the world.
I did this meditation not long before going on stage, and walked onto that stage with my heart open and shining outward like a huge beam of light.
The evening was a huge success! I hardly made any mistakes, I was present, focused, and activated. I spoke every word of the text from my heart, and afterward, many audience members and administrators came up to me to thank me for the excellent work that I'd done.
I've now used this same technique for multiple situations in which the odds seemed insurmountable, where I was afraid that I was doomed to failure, and each time the situation turned out even better than I imagined. I think this is the power that we have when we function from the heart. We manifest goodness and positivity in our reality. It's a powerful thing.
That wraps up Part 1 of this post! Next Sunday I'll be posting Part 2. Until then, I wish you well and am happy to receive your thoughts via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.