The S.T.U.C.K. Method

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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STUCK on a SERMON

sermon My first boyfriend from high school (who ended up becoming a rabbi), and I are still in touch.

One of his most recent posts requested feedback to a question: “With the holidays around the corner, what is keeping you up at night and what is giving you hope?”

Now, how timely for me, eh?

Honestly, if I were not completely in awe of this “getting stuck on a branch” philosophy and practice, I probably wouldn’t have much to write to him.  Nothing really keeps me up at night to be honest.  And, I’m not too sure about hope.

But, now?  I’m overwhelmed.  Totally, utterly, and completely by how powerful this practice is and how much it has influenced me in the short time that I’ve begun writing this blog.

So, what is keeping me up at night?  To be more accurate, what is keeping me up during the day?

How is it, that I’m nearly turning 40, and I’ve yet to figure out how I went through what is considered a great public school education, a religious school education, college, graduate school, and other certifications here and there, and yet I’ve never learned about anything remotely touching on this concept (getting stuck) that is totally changing me for the positive.

For the sake of my children.

For the sake of my husband.

For the sake of my parents.

For the sake of my community.

For the sake of my world.

For the sake of me.

How in the world did I never learn this?

How in the world were so many other things emphasized to me as soooo important, yet I never learned this basic, basic life tool.

And, if I never learned it (and I consider myself a good student, not even mentioning that I have one foot in the Eastern world as a yoga teacher), than it must be that most of the world has not learned this.

IS not learning this.

That keeps me up during the day.

But, I have hope.

So much hope.

Too much hope.

This practice is simple (though, perhaps not always easy), but simple enough to share it with the world.

The world can learn this.

The world will learn this.

Some of the world already is learning this.

And, quite frankly, I’d love to be a part of that revolution.  I just have to figure out how.

And, keep practicing before I get stuck again.

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STUCK on TEACHING OTHERS ABOUT MINDFULNESS

teaching others A friend of mine wrote to me the other day with a relationship issue.

Someone in his family was acting in such an unmindful way that he wanted to just shout out and let that person know of his undesirable behavior (which, in this particular scenario, was answering for others) and how it was causing anxiety and angst for so many people around him.

My friend wanted to teach this person a thing or two about getting stuck on a branch.

Should he?

My response?

Do nothing.

I wrote to him that as much as so many of us that are on this path of awakening to awareness have a desire (desire! there’s that word again!) to teach mindfulness to others, that even that may be one example of getting stuck on a branch!! As difficult as it may be, I suggested to my friend to just notice his frustration and suffering… Just be aware of it.  Because as some point, it will dissipate.

As everything does, because of nothing is permanent.

The other thing that I should have suggested, but forgot to, was to have compassion for that human being in his life, who is probably acting in a more unconscious way that he realizes.

Cultivating compassion for others will invariably help us all to bring compassion to ourselves when we (and yes, this will happen!) will act in ways that are less than mindful to others.

The practice is for yourself and yourself alone.

It’s not about preaching it to others.

When and if that person will want to learn, believe me, he will find his way.


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STUCK on DESPISING

despise What?  You don’t despise anything?  Anyone?

Sure you do.

Everyone does.

If they are honest.

One of my new year (Jewish) resolutions this year is to study more Torah on a regular basis.

And, the way I intend to make that happen is to commit to reading at least one aliyah from the weekly Torah reading at our kibbutz synagogue each week.

And, to study with my chevruta (study partner) prior to each Shabbat, so that I understand on a deeper level what I will be reading.

I intend to start at the beginning, with Genesis (Breishit), but to get myself practicing, I already read an aliyah this past Shabbat.

The portion of the week was – Ki Tetzeh.

Which is filled with tons of practical commandments.

I read the 4th aliyah and so, this is what I studied with my study partner.

The first sentence (Deuteronomy: 23:8) read: “You shall not despise an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not despise an Egyptian, for you were a sojourner in his land.”  We studied and discussed this one sentence for about an hour.

Now, considering the history of the Edomite (the descendants of Esau) and Egyptian people (slave masters of Israel), both of whom harmed the Jewish people mightily, it is curious what the Torah seems to be trying to teach us.

That we should not be stuck on despising them (or anyone?), no matter what their previous behavior was.

Now, that’s a tricky one.

My first though went to the Germans (with the history of the Holocaust).  Is the Torah trying to teach me not to despise Germans?

Yet, the Torah does not continue to go on and say what will happen to use if we choose to despise them: that we would become unhappy, or become blinded by reality, or distance ourselves from the Creator.

But, I am going to assume that.

Because, as I continue to practice letting go of whatever branch my ego is hanging on to, I can see the power of letting go of despising.

Certainly a neighbor, a community member, or even a family member, who probably did far less than the Edomite or Egyptian did to us as a people.

What do you think?

Can you admit to despising someone?  Something?

Can you consider getting off the branch?


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STUCK on RANDOM THINKING while I EAT!

mindful eating When I lived in the States before immigrating to Israel exactly four years ago, I used to offer mindful eating workshops.

Mindful eating is a practice of bringing a person completely in touch with the food she is eating, noticing her body’s signals, and being in the present moment during the eating experience.

It’s more about how you eat, than what you eat (though, what you eat is very important!).

It’s an awesome practice.  Just awesome.  So much better than any diet anyone can try to convince you that works.

But, it takes effort.

Because the mind tends to hijack our attention innumerable times throughout the day.

And, unless we practice noticing to where our attention is going (or went to!), our minds will just unconsciously slip into a place of non-reality.

Like when I’m stuck on a branch while I’m eating.

Interestingly, it’s not any particular branch.  It’s just being stuck on thinking random thoughts: what are my plans for today? Did I forget to write that email?  Do I need to apologize to that person today?  Is the oven on?  Did I invite anyone for Shabbat dinner yet?

And, before I know it, my healthy bowl of home-made granola with nuts and seeds, yogurt, and freshly picked passion fruit to top it off… is finished.

Gone.

And, I want (desire) more!

Agh.

I hate when that happens!

OK, Shira… compassion.

The moment is gone.

Take a moment now and just notice.

Notice your body.

Notice your shoulders.

Notice the muscles between your eyebrows.

Notice your breathing.

Notice your body’s signals.

Are you hungry?

No?

Wonderful.

Keep practicing.


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STUCK on ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Being in a relationship takes work.

Ask any couple who is willing to be honest.

Being in a relationship requires active listening, compromising, and plain old effort.

For me, it takes getting my ego off that branch, almost every day.

Because it creates negative chemistry between my husband and me.

So, I need to practice.

And, I do.

And, when I make progress, like the other night, I want my husband to acknowledge me.

thank you

For practicing.

For making an effort.

For working towards a better relationship.

But, he doesn’t acknowledge me.

Because he doesn’t know the efforts I make.

They are silent.

Only I know them.

And, as often as I get stuck on wanting (desire) him to know, I try to practice just noticing that desire.

And notice where I feel it in my body.

And, notice how getting stuck is actually blinding me from reality…

That in that moment, we are happy, and he doesn’t necessarily need to know anything more than that.


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STUCK on BEING RIGHT

being rightLast night, my husband and I went on our weekly date night (a tradition we recently renewed a few weeks ago).

We were invited to a Bat Mitzvah of a friend, yet because of summertime and teenagers being away or very busy, we couldn’t find a babysitter.

My husband told me to contact his mom.

His mom, an incredibly generous and supportive person, has confided in me on many occasions, how exhausted she is from doing favors (watching her 13 grandchildren on a regular basis).  Understanding her point, my husband and I have made intentional efforts not to request assistance from her.  In the four years that we’ve lived close by to her, we’ve probably only asked for help three times, one of which was last night.

When we dropped off the kids, I told her that we wouldn’t be long, perhaps only a couple of hours.

The Bat Mitzvah (celebration only) started last night at 7:30 at a beautiful hotel in Haifa, beginning with a “welcoming” with hors d’oeuvres and drinks on the main porch.  Then, we ascended to the roof for the main meal and celebration, which began with a table filled with 15 salads, breads, and more drinks.  By 9:30, the table was already served hot noodles with chicken.

The D.J. announced, “Come to the dance floor everyone, to burn off some calories before the main meal!”

Main meal?  I thought to myself.  Is that what he said?

I asked my husband, and he concurred.  Yes, there would be a meat meal coming out soon.

So, I thought to myself, do we really need to stay much longer?  I personally had enough and wanted to return to his mother, who was undoubtedly waiting up for us to come back and retrieve the kids.

I asked my husband if he were ok to leave at the moment, he shrugged his shoulders (as if he didn’t care either way).  I told him of my concern with his mom having to stay awake for us.

We didn’t dance.  We stayed at the table and continued to talk to our new friends.

I asked again.  Again, no firm answer either way.  Again, I told him of my concern about his mother.  He didn’t mention being hungry or wanting to stay to eat.

By 10:00, I asked my husband, Do we really need to stay just to eat meat??

So, he said ok, we said our goodbyes and headed out the door.

When we reached the elevator, he sighed, “I’m really hungry.”

Hungry?  I thought.  After all that food we just ate?  And, why didn’t you say anything?

The story continues (I won’t fill you in with all the details, but the end of the story was, we returned back to the Bat Mitzvah so that he could eat his meat meal.)

Throughout this whole saga, I was proud that I wasn’t stuck on leaving (even though I felt it was the right thing to do), and was present to my husband’s needs, etc.

But, the point of this blog is to say that when we got back to his mom’s house, we found her sitting outside on the porch half awake and exhausted (at 11:00 pm).

My husband was surprised.  Why are you awake, he asked.

Why?  she replied.  Because I had to wait up for you to get the kids.

Being-Right2

I was so right.

No question about it.

And, when we got in the car on the ride home, I was stuck on being right.  I was stuck on (desire) showing off to my husband that *I* was right.

But, the more I am practicing noticing how stuck I am, the quicker I can get off the branch.

I noticed I was stuck.

So, I just noticed being stuck.  Noticed how it felt.  Noticed were I felt it in my body (which was in my face).  And, I noticed being stuck wasn’t necessarily going to make me happier.  In fact, if anything, if I were to open my mouth about it, it probably would have caused a fight.

But, it came back again.  I was stuck again.

And, I noticed.  Again.

And, in the 15 minute care ride home, I probably got stuck 10 times, but I was able to notice it each time and just let it be.  Each time.

Such progress!

Just noticing really led me to freedom and happiness in that moment.

What a feeling.


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STUCK on FACEBOOK! (And you??)

Like_1I’ll admit it.  I’m stuck on Facebook.  And you?

I don’t mean that I am necessarily addicted to it (which I probably am, but don’t necessarily see that is a “bad” thing).  For me, Facebook is a way that I can stay connected to my friends and family back in the States, and I am grateful for that.

But, I’m stuck on thinking about my future posts.

Not always.

But sometimes.

Like yesterday.

When I took my older boys on a day trip to Jerusalem.

I drove us to the Haifa bus station, we took an inter-city bus to the central bus station in Jerusalem, a taxi to an extraordinary temporary train exhibit, an intra-city bus to Ben Yehuda street, the light rail back to the central bus station, a return bus back to Haifa, and then drove back home.

Whew.

What a fun filled “transportation” day.

The kids had more fun on the various modes of transportation they took than visiting the capital of Israel itself!

And, while riding on the light rail down Yaffa road (my first time since it was built), I had a thought:  This would be a great post for Facebook!  So many people will “like” this. And, I thought about how to write it…. how to make it sound interesting, fun, “likable”.  I couldn’t get it out of my head.  (Again, I was stuck on desire.)

And, before I knew it, I heard on the “loudspeaker”…

תחנת הבאה: תחנת המרכזית

(Next stop, Central Bus Station).

And, I missed it.

Not, the stop.

But, the experience of being on the light rail.

I missed watching my kids with their eyes wide open experiencing this for the first time.

I missed looking at the regulars, the tourists.

I missed hearing the sounds, the different languages.

I think I missed everything.

Because I was stuck.

On Facebook.

And you?