Mindfulness

self judgement does us no good

For my birthday this year, I gave myself some gifts.

First, I asked for help.

Second, I let myself be fully seen by those that love me.

And third (I’m still working on this one), I decided to love myself anyway.

I would have said that I loved myself, but then a wave of deep “Who am I and how did I get here?” swept in. A coming undone, if you will. Stay tuned for the blog post.  

Have all the decisions I’ve made in the last year been wise? No. Have all the decisions at the time been made with best intention? Yes.


I have messed up before, for certain, as we all do, and grappled with the judgement of others. This time, the judgement was primarily my own. I’m not sure I messed up, but maybe I did along the way, and how do I sit with myself when I mess up?

Did I have integrity when I made the decision to leave my job?

Did I have integrity when I decided to speak up or not speak up about injustices?
Did I have integrity when I made the decision to risk my family’s home if my business wasn’t sustainable?

Did I have integrity when I allowed myself to say yes to a complicated love?


Yes.

I think so.

But I’m still wading through all that and back to self love.

I was talking with a close friend last week about this process (the asking for help part) and I said, “I had good intentions.” To which he jokingly replied, “Well you know what they say about the road to hell.”


I love a friend who will sit with you in your mess. And dear me, I’m blessed with many. While I work out my own relationship with my self-judgement, and self-acceptance, and the mess in between, I look around to see that I have tribe and that perhaps this is the very richness of life.

I am blessed to be witnessed and loved anyway. I am blessed to have women who spend my birthday witnessing me shedding layers of woman shame and claiming my soul. To have those friends that listen to every decision I’ve made and remove their judgement from their response, and to genuinely reflect back to me even the things I don’t want to hear. I am grateful to be seen.


I recently answered an exercise in B School about what people often thank me for. I realize, it’s all of that in the last paragraph - it’s my willingness to “go there,” to hold a space for the deepest of truths, to leave judgement at the door, to sit with someone in the mess, to support the authenticity and transformation. Now I just get to really practice on myself.


All of you is welcome here.

All of me is too.


Be gentle with yourself. If I can support you in and through your mess, it is my honor to do so. Set up a free consultation here.

black-and-white-cry-crying-18494.jpg



Shame comes to remind us how we will engage

On the phone with my 89 year old grandmother this week, she said, “Still have your man?” I inhaled to brace myself and said, “No, actually, it’s been a really difficult month. I’ve been exploring what’s really going on by focusing on me and I’ve been working with two different therapists and coaches on growing through this.” Sometimes I wonder why I say these things to her, and she wonders why I call her less often. It’s because rest assured, our conversations will trigger my shame. I think I share honestly with her both to attempt to open these doors and also to see how much shame can still be triggered.



She said, “Ha, I thought you were a coach, now you have to hire a coach too?”



What’s the implicit message? That’s right. You don’t have it all together yet? Are you weak? And, of course, you are weak for being imperfect.



Of course she doesn’t consciously intend to cause harm through judgement, but it happens. This could be a post about my grandmother, but it isn’t. I started out with that story to bring it home that messages of perfection and shame of not having it all together yet are all around us.



And this post is about me, because, if I tell you a story about someone else’s mistakes, I’m not really looking at my own, and I’m avoiding my shame.



Shame is the lowest emotion. When emotional frequencies are measured, it is actually the lowest of all emotions as compared on the megahertz scale. That means it feels the worst.



And what would trigger the worst feelings but the most profound of our crap. Our wounds. Our deepest stuff.



This month, this first month of a brand new year, kicked my ass. It brought up all my stuff, honestly, in a way that showed what I really needed to learn at this time. I’m still learning (and always will be.) This could be a post about how on a soul journey, a soul mate relationship will do that, but it’s not that post either. This is the post from the inward examination of shame. And it’ll be incomplete. And imperfect. And I’m learning more and more to be in full acceptance of that.



I really try to get it right and good. I think we all do, inherently. I really try to be brave and tell stories and help people. I intend to live in my truth and put myself out there in vulnerability and be strong in order to withstand any sort of reaction. I forgot, as I do so that I can remember, apparently, what our friend Brené Brown tells us, that if we live courageously, we will fall. We will fail. And it’s at that point that we get to decide. Whether to blame and point, or whether to integrate our experiences and grow.



I certainly dabble with the blame and point. I have to watch it, be mindful not to act from it. Sorry not sorry if that’s not enlightened enough yet. (Ha. You see what I did there? A joke about hiding shame.)



I’m a natural integrator. Living the soul journey and being willing to “go there” is kinda my gig. I also just sometimes want to avoid getting my ass kicked. Because it hurts. And I want to inherently be good. Be enough. When I see the outward world reflecting to me that I didn’t get it right, I think, well F, then I must still not be good enough and getting it right.



It triggers self worth and it triggers shame.



I think we live in a pretty interesting time where this idea that we can actually come to a point where we don’t feel these things anymore or that we are above feeling them is pretty rampant. I think that in the past year, putting myself out there as a coach after having worked in education, I definitely was worried about getting it right. I didn’t always admit vulnerabilities, even though I am this truth telling person. Even though I started Embodied Breath specifically to look at the “not enough” patterns that we all face, I was still doing it! Of course I was. They are engrained.



The aim is not perfection. The aim is authentic and wholehearted living. The aim is essentially love.



I told my grandmother, after a deep breath, that yes, of course I would be willing to hire my own coach if that’s the same help I hope to provide. My clients need to be willing to hire me when they want to self-examine something, and I don’t pretend to be above that. I told her that it’s okay to need help and that it is not weakness. We’re not culturally used to asking for or needing help, but that sets us up for a lot of high and unmeetable expectations. I told her this on the other side of a significant river of shame I’ve been crossing. Not the full other side, but I’m on the banks again enough to see where I’ve just been.



I don’t know where exactly I went wrong. It’s not entirely my story to tell, and so I won’t tell it here, out of respect for others involved, and because it’s still active. But I behaved in what I believed was honesty and courage, and yet I still messed up, somehow. People are still pissed. My character is apparently in question for some people. In fact, I’m starting to hear about it through a grapevine - stories that are partly untrue and giving negative descriptions of my character being told about me. A friend of mine told me that she heard some gossip and could say; I know this person, and what you are saying is not true. Thank god for friends like that.



I thought that in telling my own story for a living, I would somehow avoid people telling false stories. I thought that in authenticity, I would be protected somehow from criticism. I thought that if I stood up for soul and love, that love would conquer all and that we wouldn’t get hurt. These weren’t conscious thoughts. These were assumptions made while I was doing the good work of hustling forward and showing up best I knew how. And then, I made choices that ended up hurting people. And gained me criticism. And there’s nothing I can say or do or be to change minds. I can’t please my way out of this. And meanwhile my own heart aches, and precious few are asking me about my own heart. (Thank you if you are. Dear me, from my heart, thank you.)



Another friend called me to say he was there for me no matter what. He said, “Sarah, maybe it’s just time for you to tell your own story. It’s what you do.”



That same day, I pulled the Truth Be Told card from my oracle deck and thought, Oh crap. I sat with this, wondering what it meant. And then I was preparing to sit in a circle of women. Women who had paid me to be my clients in a… get this… Personal Truth group. And I got the loud, incessant cue from above to tell the whole story. All of it. Even the parts that people could judge. And I wanted to run. And I sat sweating up until the moment I told it. But I told it. I asked only for it to be heard. That there was a truth in me that needed to be spoken and not kept silent. I said I would accept judgement. I would accept the consequences of reactions. Whatever they are. I braced myself for more shame or for people to even quit working with me. And when I told it, I heard, “Thank you for modeling what truth telling looks like. Thank you for living what you say you live.” I heard, “I would not imagine walking away from you or this right now.”



A few days later, I was collaborating with a male colleague and he knows the whole story. I also worked with him and his wife with some couples coaching. I again braced myself for rejection and more shame, and he said, “I don’t judge you.”



On this man’s computer I noticed a taped piece of paper that read “In the Arena!” Brené Brown and all of her shame research and all of the books with all my notes in the margins were in my hands this month. What did I forget? How did I get here? What is this terrible feeling I’m feeling? Where do we go from here with shame? Brené tells story from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” that my friend’s personal reminder was referencing - be in the arena. It is more important to be in the arena of life, engaging with it heart and soul, than to be avoidant on the periphery. And when you are in the arena, you will mess up. You will fall. You will fail.



I had the distinct opportunity, consciously, at least a hundred times since I started Embodied Breath to either walk forward into this arena or walk back out again. Walking forward, engaging with life, following my Soul, and to do it with as much integrity as possible, is the only option. I was recently reminded that sometimes I will fail. And thankfully, this has also lead to renewed realizations that there is relief in my imperfection.



There is a kind of resilient fighting that comes from determination to prove perfection and avoid shame. I know that fighter. She’s in me, and you all have heard her tell stories if you’ve been watching for any time at all. There is a more genuine form of authenticity that comes from your heart being cracked open, having to choose whether or not to keep loving yourself and other people in spite of imperfections, and humbly standing up to say that I’m sorry I hurt someone, and I’m sorry I abandoned aspects of myself. Standing in front of my mirror and my creations and humbly offering personal forgiveness inward has been profound. After all this hard work of getting to this point, leaving a career I’d achieved a lot in, creating Embodied Breath, what, I thought I wouldn’t stumble?



If we stay in that frequency of the emotional state of shame and it survives, it will take us down. Guaranteed. We will not walk back into the arena of life for as long as we let it rule us. We can work hard and get promotions and seemingly be successful from this place, but we will not be living authentically. Wholeheartedly. I am not here to school you from a pedestal. That’s kinda the whole point. I’m here to remind us all. I’m here to walk with you. Haha, it’s more like I’m pulling at your shirt hem from my knees right now than having any pretence of pedestal.



Brené  Brown found in her research that in order for shame to survive, it needs secrecy, silence, and judgement. In my walk this month, especially this week, I discovered these antidotes. I broke my silence, my secrecy, and my own personal self judgement and the judgement of others. Friends and helpers were gracious enough to help me break it. And the shame feels much less intense.



The absolute antidote to shame is empathy. It’s what we need to be kind enough to extend to one another, even when we’re hurting. When I’m hurting and accepted my colleague Gina’s offer when she said, “Spirit is telling me to offer you this coaching,” it was amazing. Gina is helping me to hold space for all parts of myself. It is some of the most powerful personal work I’ve ever done. I can hold myself empathetically in this space and it resonates outward.



When we are willing to look at all of ourselves, we grow the most. Not that it’s some race or something, but it also feels the best. Self-forgiveness and self-love feel good. Relaxing the pressure on myself allows me to be a better space holder for others, more loving toward all, more empathetic. I am a better mother, a clearer coach, and better steward of Embodied Breath as a result of having gotten in that arena of life, gotten my ass kicked (again), and learning to be vulnerable and present with myself and others in still-closer ways. I am more authentic than ever. I am more myself than ever.



If I have behaved in a way that perpetuated a notion of perfectionism in the coaching industry, I am sorry. I do the work that I do because I want you to have a space to own your whole truth, your vulnerability, to feel your shame if you need to, to move through whatever arises, and to see yourself as beautiful and whole. My work is an arena itself! It is what I am inviting.



If I have hurt you, I am sorry.



I pray that we may all stay in the arena with ourselves and with one another, so that we may experience the wholehearted, connected, ever-conscious possibilities on the other side. I will go through, with you. Beside you.

Photos by www.NicoleMcConville.com

Photos by www.NicoleMcConville.com



Mirror love

To the older woman in the coffee shop just now, with the tight lips when you looked at my bare shoulders and black tattoos in judgement, I love you.

I love you to the heart of your judgement. I love you, the pure, true, compassionate kind of love. Because I know that to purse your lips and look down your nose at me, for standing comfortably, means that you do not. And dear, sweet woman, I know what that means. 

You have shut something off in yourself, of living, of feeling, and for that, my heart reaches out of my chest, aching, and sends you love as you walk out the door. 

To the young husband last night at the show, so embarrassed of your loud, drunk wife, I felt how many times you allowed your eyes to attract to the mystery of me, and I love you. I love you to the heart of your struggles, I love you to the heart of the temperamental and rigid sex you all are having, I love you to the center of your "I know there's something more."

If I can remind you of that, I will. 

I will. Not with fury or flaunt or directives. No. 

By being. By being, I invite. By being, I mirror. 

It's actually my superpower. (Wink.) 

To the wide-shouldered, long-haired, tender-hearted warrior man that I most recently loved. You have been in my heart these days - my bursting, expanding, ripening heart, - and I love you, too. I love you for the places you couldn't go, for the invitation you couldn't accept, I love you. I love you with my compassionate heart because I know that when you rejected my mirror, you rejected the part of the mystery you just couldn't go to. 

I'll pause my writing and breathe. This is tricky territory. The assumption will be that I am judging, and hear me, I am not. 

What I am saying is, my soul loves your soul, dear one. And as it was that that time, I was invested in the reflection, I also see that I was offered so many gifts in your rejection. To be able to stay in that place of safety for and with you would have meant the denial of my own next steps. It would have meant that I was not standing here now. I love where I am now, and I love you for your role in it. Thank you. 

I send you love in the mystery of how your soul must be unfolding. And I trust, I trust, and I send love. 

This is the opportunity of soul union - authentic reflection. Regardless the depth of time or investment - a coffee shop moment or while we watch beautiful music a few rows from one another, or if we allow ourselves to actually drop into the passion of opening bodies and hearts and love. The opportunity for the mirror always exists. The opportunity to go deeper always exists. It always exists. 

And oh my god do I love the depths. 

My soul loves your soul. Each of you. When we talk, or when we pass, however long our meeting, I see your soul. I see the heart of you. I see the places you want to go and the potential. The invitations you will and will not accept, but I love you unconditionally.

All of us. 

I accept that I am the mirror. I accept that you are too. Because all I want is truth. 

 

 

Mindful Coaching

I coach through a lens of mindfulness. Let me explain what that means.

All the time, we have flitty little thoughts in our heads, repetitive thoughts, resistant thoughts. Most people have repressed emotions that feed these habitual thoughts.

AND, here’s the thing. These habits of mind that you have are absolutely instrumental in whether or not you are able to create the changes in your life you are looking for. If you’ve got the hamster wheel of thought, emotion, reaction - we need to witness that before moving forward.

You can pick these things apart intellectually. It’s an option. But it's ineffective in the long haul. You can figure something out and say, "That's it! I'm done with THAT now!" only to have that very thing come back again and again.

When you work with me, we are going to witness what arises, and with the breath, with a gentle mindfulness practice (and other tools I’ll introduce to you), we will actually INTEGRATE what arises.

What? If it’s difficult, why would we integrate it?

Because what you resist will chase you forever.

Read that last sentence again.

Most people are running from what is chasing them, from what has happened to them, or from the patterns that went into play after a traumatic event. It’s real.

It all needs to be felt, witnessed, moved through. 

And here's another fantastic tidbit - if something is coming up for you, then it IS the thing that is ready to be healed. 

And when we’re ready to stop living with the suffering of the hamster wheel of habit, we have options. My services are but one available to you.

Mindfulness allows you to sit with what is difficult, come out of that frightened brain, and to live a more grounded and embodied, less frenetic, wholly inspired life. This is the basis of my individual work, couples work, group work. We BREATHE so that we can regulate into our own experience and speak/live/BE from a centered place.

Doesn’t that sound appealing?

My services are mindfulness-based, but that’s not all we do. Oh no. It IS, however, where we start. From there, once you notice what arises and stop running from it, you are so much more naturally able to integrate, cope, and embody resilience in your daily life. I use other tools, body-based awareness, and a lot of encouragement and actualization exercises to stretch and grow you into the next level of your better self.

I love that so many people are currently hungry for change. I love that I get to be of service when you are ready. Honestly, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

The things you know you need to address that scare you - they don’t scare me. You can be scared, but the gold and glory of hiring a coach is that I HOLD THAT SPACE FOR YOU to have your experience, AND, I will encourage you to grow. Safely. At the next level appropriate for YOU, individually.

We start with the breath, with mindfulness, and then we RISE into our true potential.

I'm interested in hearing from you. How does this land? What are you interested in changing in your daily life? Maybe it's your mindset, maybe it's that nagging anxiety, maybe it's your relationship with your spouse.

Set up a free 30 minute call with me at the link below to discuss how mindfulness-based coaching might be right for you!

Much love, 
s

EB3.png

Go get it. Differently now.

For so many years of my life, I went after what I wanted. And, I got it. Can you relate?

When my son was one, and I was working in a therapeutic boarding school (with many problems), I thought, “I can see this whole big picture! I’m going back to school for school admin. One day, I will run this show.”

So I got a second Master’s degree while he slept.

When he was three, I thought, “I want to work at Asheville’s best charter school, so that I can witness education working differently, make a contribution, and so that my son can go there.” And by the time he was in kindergarten, I was the administrator of the upper grades.

That same year, as I was separating from my husband, I had a significant adrenal crash. Here I was, supposed to be a powerhouse, and I was actually really sick from trying to be a powerhouse. I didn’t really ask for help, though, at all. I kept going being a powerhouse.

For many years in my life, I went after what I wanted. I manifested with might.

Around the same time, I started to significantly wake up to my own femininity – what had been lost, what had been sacrificed to this world of “succeeding.” I worked in education, where every answer is supposed to come from a book, where what you know is measured by the letters behind your name. And, if you don’t have certain letters, then you haven’t earned your right to talk about certain things.

I woke up to much. Too much for this post. I remembered intuition, for starters. I remembered the dance of being a female in relation to a male, thanks to one divine being who woke me up. And then I realized, that to go after, to force manifest, to endlessly give away my energy and life force was actually draining (I was already sick) and was not innately feminine. I realized that how we operate in this whole culture is not innately feminine. It’s not the foundation we were built on, even though we are all born of women. We’ve lost our balance.

It is a dance – the feminine and masculine, the receptivity with the action. Each of us, if we intend to, can learn it every day. People in relationships can learn this dance, too.

I still went on to craft and lead one more school, and what a beautiful transition that was into what I am now doing. “Leadership” in our culture means the one in charge. I am interested in dancing with different definitions of leadership. Ones that look a little bit more like “organizer” or “space holder.”

As I heal myself, as I watch my clients step back into their feminine, as I watch couples attune to this simultaneously new and ancient knowing, I trust that this is what we need in order to heal ourselves, and to heal the world.

We can’t heal the world with force, damn it.  It’s taken me a long-ass time to learn that, and I intend for the rest of the journey to be very different.

(April 3, 2018)