This month we talked about *warmth*. The days are getting chilly and it’s time to be bundling ourselves and our children up – Mamas of children under 7, this is especially for you. Your small ones do not know when they’re cold, and they need as many layers as you, plus one. Sarah and I are both big advocates for wool – if you have any wooly questions, I’m sure we would be happy to answer them. Fleece is soft and nice, but it does not breathe, and it is very cold when wet (like in snow), unlike wool.
Mostly, though, we talked about warmth in our presence and in our hearts. This begins with ourselves – have you noticed that the tone and the words you use when speaking to yourself are often very harsh and cold? Judgmental? Lists of things you should have done, have to do immediately, mistakes you’ve made, etc . . . Try to turn some attention to this inner voice this month. At first, just try to notice it. And then if you can, try and introduce some warmth. Imagine if you were speaking this way to a friend, or if they were speaking this way to you. Try being friendly with yourself. It’s very hard to be warm with our families if we are so cold and efficient with ourselves. Along those lines, if you have very small children, you have probably noticed that they take a tremendous amount of energy and warmth from you, lol. In the Waldorf schools, the teachers who work with young children wear aprons every day over their clothes – long, full coverage aprons that come up over their hearts. Not to be quaint, but because it offers a layer of protection, protecting some of your energy from the children so that you can work with them better. This might sound totally wacky, that’s okay. Just a thought for you to ponder. The teachers who do movement work often wear scarves, turtlenecks, etc also – again, layers, protecting the body’s warmth.
We talked about trying to take some pauses when we notice ourselves feeling cold, feeling cut off or overly critical. Try to pause, and even just gently remind yourself, warmth. I’ve been finding this a very helpful practice, personally. I’ve been reading a book called Homemaking & Personal Development by Veronika Van Duin, and listening to teachings from Pema Chodron on cd called The Fearless Heart (the latter you can get through the library), and both of them inspired this month’s meeting.
We talked about how our drive for perfectionism fuels this coldness and cut-off feeling. We want to be perfect so that other people will like us, but it’s interesting to notice that people who either appear to be perfect, or people who act as if they think they’re perfect, are not likable people. They make us feel bad about ourselves, or just plain drive us crazy. But people in our life who have human flaws, and have some ability to be honest about their flaws, or even a sense of humor about them, these are extremely likable people.
It’s important to remember that this is just a practice – a practice of trying to remember warmth, trying to pause, trying out a friendlier, warmer tone with ourselves and our loved ones. Too often we take a tool like this and use it as a weapon against ourselves. This is not easy, or quick, or something we only have to do once. It’s a long-term practice, but very gratifying, even just to do successfully once in a while.
Something else that came up in our meeting, which I hadn’t planned to talk about, but I was so grateful to have it come up, was the idea/illusion that other people’s marriages are easier. It’s so interesting how we culturally have no real models of what long-term relationships are like, and how to have healthy partnerships and marriages. It is a very prevalent illusion that other people work together more smoothly, more easily, argue less, etc . . . Once again, this is comparing what we see from glimpses of other people’s lives in public with what happens in our own private homes, and thinking that we are lacking, or our partnership is lacking. The truth is that deep, lasting relationships are hard work. And they continue to be hard work. I think this is a very juicy topic, and it would be very fun to go into it more another month, if folks are interested.
We did a short meditation exercise, and then we shared about an area in our life that needs some warmth. If you didn’t make it, you could do this yourself at home. Take 5 minutes to write about something in your life that needs some warmth – without judging. This is truly a gentle practice, a light touch, but I think you will be very pleased with the results. Just some warmth. We all have these amazing embers of love and kindness – every one of us – and we can blow on them gently to make them glow even brighter.
Blessings to all of you,