On Being Vulnerable

This last week has certainly flown by. I’ve fallen a bit behind on my writing schedule, and have chosen to be okay with that. I’ve been writing a little less lately, and focusing on some other things — initially I was perturbed with myself for this change in habit, but I’ve decided that making a periodic adjustment is perfectly acceptable, and that the important thing is to always do what is good for my heart and soul and keeps me motivated in general (seems like a solid plan, though not always easy to adhere to …).

I’ve been feeling a bit vulnerable lately, and that could be contributing to my lack of writing — writing tends to do that to me, perhaps because I am documenting intangible things that are from deep within, whether I choose to share them or not. Being vulnerable can be quite difficult, even if practiced regularly. I am reminded of a podcast I listened to earlier this year, in which Brené Brown discusses her research on shame and its relationship with vulnerability, and subsequently courage (it’s a good listen if you have a few moments).

Speaking of vulnerability, I was extremely touched to read Janie Brown’s contribution to the On Being blog this month. Janie’s letter to a friend struggling with mental illness brought more than a few tears to my eyes. Her friend, who later did choose to end her own life, displayed amazing courage in her decision to be vulnerable when she reached out to Janie. She took steps to seek treatment, to find companionship, to hold friends close to help her through those difficult times. And this, for many (myself included) is so, so difficult. It takes immense courage to admit when you are struggling — to ask someone to be there for you, to let them know you need them. Not only are you left vulnerable, you risk rejection, along with a whole myriad of other possible feelings: obligation, burden, fear, shame, insecurity, etc. You experience doubt that people genuinely care, but feel silly afterword because you know truly that they do. Sometimes you are lost in your head and forget that people have told you they care and that you are valuable and important to them. As Janie Brown does for her friend, a true friend carries no judgement. There is only love.

It is also easy to forget that you are valuable and important to yourself. It is easy to forgot to be kind to yourself. In my journey of transformation, mindfulness has been a prominent topic and a difficult practice to make habit — though an entirely worthwhile effort. Attending meditation workshops, working with a meditation instructor, reading Buddhist texts and memoirs, seeking knowledge from those seasoned in the practice have all fueled much of my personal growth, and led to many changes in my life that continue to increase my levels of happiness and satisfaction.

I kept reading through the On Being blog, to Sharon Salzberg’s post, The Concentric Circles of Connection and Lovingkindness. She so beautifully explains:

Classically, mindfulness is really about being present in a certain way, about tuning into our experiences, interactions, emotions, and thoughts with a sense of curiosity and equanimity. It’s an overall sense of openness, and that’s what helps provide us clarity and space to cultivate insight, resilience, and compassion for ourselves and others.

Let me reiterate: compassion for ourselves and others. Through mindfulness we can learn to be gentle with ourselves and one another in a most profound and peaceful way. I can feel it in my soul – the way increasing my mindfulness calms my anxiety, eases my fears, aids me in seeing the good in the world around me, and the people in it. I can come back to this moment and feel at peace in this whirlwind of a world. For this opportunity, I am grateful.

For anyone interested in beginning a meditation practice (or interested in general), I encourage you to check out Community Mediation.  You can watch prior videos and practice at your convenience, or take part in the live feed on Wednesday evenings.

I will leave you today with these beautiful words to ponder from Sharon Salzberg:

Through nourishing ourselves with love and acceptance, we ultimately prepare ourselves to offer lovingkindness to others and recognize our shared desire to be happy and supported in this life.

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