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

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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STUCK on a ROCK

rock in waterSitting with my one of my meditation friends the other day, I found myself falling in love with an image that she offered me.

I wanted to share with you.

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Imagine yourself as a rock.

Not just a rock sitting on the earth, but a rock firmly set inside a running river.

You, the rock, are “hit” by many things throughout the day:

Cold water,

Warm water;

Fast water that can hurt you,

Slow water that feels nice on your surface;

The bright and hot sunshine,

Cold wind and heavy raindrops from a thunderstorm;

Brown, mucky water,

Crystal clear blue water;

Wet leaves,

and newly fallen leaves;

Plastic wrappers and such,

Rough bumps from kayaks and canoes

Smooth bumps from tubes and rafts;

Sweet sounds of children’s laughter,

Heinous sounds of fear and horror.

You are “hit” with it all.

But, you don’t move.

You just notice.

As each thing passes by.

And, you stay still.

Because you are a rock.

*****

As this holiday of Thanksgiving approaches, and many of us will sit down to a meal with family and friends whom we love, whom we don’t love so much, whom we understand, whom we don’t quite understand, whom we admire, whom we less than admire… perhaps we can try to be a rock for a few moments.  And, allow anything that comes our way, to be an opportunity just to choose to just be still and notice.

 

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STUCK on RULES!!

rules I was playing a memory game with my son yesterday when he started changing the rules.

He (nonchalantly) started to pick up 3 cards to peak at instead of 2.

“Hey, I said.  What are you doing?  You’re breaking the rules!”

“No,” he replied.  “You’re allowed to pick up 3 at a time.”

“Really?  Since when?”

I acquiesced.

“Fine.  But, you know.  You’re changing the rules.  Which is fine.  But, we need to discuss changing the rules before you change them.  We need to agree on the new rules.”

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Over this past weekend, rules were broken.  One after the other.

I’m not talking about rules in the house or between family members.

I’m talking about rules in the community.

Which we sort of have.

(I say that because it seems that most people in our community don’t really want rules.  But anyway, that’s really another topic for another time.)

In this case, the rules that were broken occurred at the synagogue over Shabbat.

Nothing really big deal or earth shattering.

But, when you sit on a committee and you are the head of that committee (like I am), you feel a certain responsibility to uphold rules or decisions that are made.

And, interestingly enough, all the rules that were broken this time happened because of one individual (who doesn’t even sit on the synagogue committee and who was taking liberty to make synagogue decisions on his own).

But, what was I going to do?  Parent him like I parented my own child?

So, as I sat in my seat during prayer services on Friday night, feeling frustrated because rules were being broken, I decided to follow my acronym: S.T.U.C.K.

S – Just stop.  Be still.  Take a breath.  I noticed I was frustrated. I took another breath.

I somehow or for some reason skipped “T” and “U” and went right to “C” – and just recognized the decision:

Either I could stay frustrated

or

I could enjoy and stay focused on the prayer service.

I chose the latter.

And reminded myself (K), that it’s ok that I got stuck there for a moment in the first place.

The truth is, as the rules continued to be broken the following morning, I “stuck” with my acronym and amazingly came to the conclusion that the individual who caused the rules to be broken wasn’t actually purposefully trying to hurt anyone or show any sense of power.  He was, in his own mind, just trying to help the community.

And, that new perspective for me was earth shattering.

And approaching him (which I did two days later) from that place, as opposed to an angry/judgmental place was just as remarkable.

*************

And, it makes me wonder: Should I have automatically jumped at my child for changing the rules?

Or, just stop and notice first?


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STUCK on S.T.U.C.K.

I love acronyms.

Mostly because they work.

As ways to remember things.

To this day, I remember: P.E.M.D.A.S. (Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally), as the “order of operations in math” that I probably learned in 4th grade (and just passed onto one of my children who (obviously) didn’t learn this acronym in Israel)…. (Parentheses, Exponent, etc…)

Or, H.O.M.E.S. (if you ever need to remember the names of the Great Lakes)…. (Huron, Ontario, etc.)

I even remember: K.P.C.O.F.G.S. (King Phillip Can Only Find his Green Slippers) as the scientific classification system… (Kingdom, Phylum, etc.)

There’s a zillion more out there in the world, and I’d like to add one more to the list.

Because I need it.

And, it’s working for me.

When I’m stuck.

Inspired by a friend who recently completed the mindfulness-based stress reduction course and who shared an acronym that she learned in her course, I decided to create my own:  S.T.U.C.K.

So, here goes:

S = STOP and be still.  Perhaps even close your eyes for a brief second and be aware, acknowledge, and identify on what are you stuck?? Are you grasping towards something pleasurable?  Or, resisting something unpleasurable? Anger? Frustration? Disappointment? Being offended? Sadness? Grief? Excitement? Pride? Love?

T = TELL yourself what that FEELS like.  Let yourself feel the MUCK that you are in and tell yourself about it.  Describe it.  Explore it in your body.  Where do you feel it physically in your body? How does it feel?

U = Underlying the situation.  What’s underneath it all?  Do you have a history with this person/experience? Something unresolved in your life? It may helpful to consider if you would still be “stuck in the muck” had you experienced this same situation with a different person/scenario in your life.

C = CHOOSE.  Recognize that while you may not be able to stop the feeling you are feeling in that moment, you can certainly change your behavior.  Recognize that you can choose NOT to scream, or yell, or curse, or judge, or be passive-aggressive with, and instead you can choose to try to see another perspective.  What is their view?  What is their situation?  Perhaps even give the experience/person the benefit of the doubt.

K = (humor me on this one, please… It was hard to find a “k” word) = oKay.  It’s OK.  Have compassion for yourself for getting stuck in the muck in the first place.  It’s happened in the past, it happened now, and it will happen in the future.  Know that it’s oKay.  We’re all human.  We all get stuck.  And, at least if you are making small steps to become more aware of when you are stuck and you are making efforts to choose what to do with that, you are certainly making small steps to bringing more compassion, acceptance, and peace to this world that we live in.

Note: This philosophy/theory/model is different from “Hanging on a Branch”, in which the image evoked a message that the purpose is to get off the branch (or to get “off” the feeling).  Whereas in this image/acronym, you are not necessarily getting rid of or getting “off “of anything.  Rather, you are just being in it, noticing it, and allowing for opportunities for change of perspectives to occur. 


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STUCK on CULTURAL MANNERISMS

My family and I live in a bubble.

For better or worse, it’s where we live.

On a tiny kibbutz, in a remote area in Northern Israel.

We are removed from city life and all of the realities that come along with that.

Additionally, I wouldn’t say that our community is necessarily reflective of the overall Israeli population.  At all.

For example, we are probably about 1/4 English speakers, mostly all educated, and mostly all non-smokers.

So, leaving Hannaton for two days with my daughter was quite a shocker for her.

I took her to Jerusalem as a part of her preparation to becoming a Bat Mitzvah (i.e. the age at which she is expected to take on the commandments that an adult does.)

In any event, as I enjoyed watching her experience the city, I found myself STUCK on one particular Israeli cultural mannerism:

Pushing.

Whether we were about to board a bus, or the light rail, or getting tickets for a show, or walking around Jerusalem Knights 2013 Festival, I felt like everyone was pushing.  I felt like they were, well, because, they were!

I’ve been living in my bubble for so long, that I forgot that this is part of the culture here.

(For those Israelis reading this, who may get STUCK on being offended by what I’ve written so far, please know that YES, this is a generalization.  And, NO, not ALL Israelis push when they need something, just like ALL Americans are not always polite, and say “please/thank you” 1,000 times a day.  It’s a generalization, that’s all.  So, please don’t be STUCK on offended.)

Anyway, I was STUCK judging/thinking to myself…

Why do they do this?

Why can’t they just get in line and wait patiently like they do in America?

Why doesn’t someone teach them?  Like at a young age?  So, that things will CHANGE here, for G-d’s sake!

Because you know, if you DON’T push, you don’t get on that bus, or that light rail, or you’ll get run over at the festival.

And, in my angst, I started pushing to… I felt I had to.

I opened my mouth a few times… (“No need to push, you know!”), but all I got back was obnoxious stares or a lack of acknowledgement.

I actually really wanted to take a picture, for this blog, but my daughter cautioned me… saying probably it’s not the right thing to do.

Anyway, as always, I came back to this mindfulness practice.

What did I do?

First, I allowed myself to be still.  And just notice what I was feeling and allow myself to feel that.

And in that silence, I recognized what was underneath all of this… My comparison of the culture I come from.

And, even though that feeling may return to me many more times while living here, I recognized the CHOICE of how I would behave.

Instead of rolling my eyes, cursing under my breath, or staring obnoxiously, I could choose to just notice the pushing.

Just notice it.

And, be okay and compassionate with myself that I was STUCK on it in the first place.

And instead enjoy my precious time with my daughter.

Which is what I did.


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STUCK in the MUCK

Hi to my dearest blog followers,

Thank you for your responses to my latest post on choosing the best metaphor for this blog.

Many of you (on the blog and off) responded that you really connected more with the word “stuck” than the word “hang”.

Yet, going back to the initial problem, you can’t really be “stuck” on a branch.

So, I thought about this for a few days….

and came up with:

Stuck in the Muck.

(Unfortunately, someone else on wordpress.com already claimed that name, so for now, I will be “Stuck in the Muck 365.”

And, I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this one.

And, I hope you will, too.

(The current image that I snagged from Google will be replaced with my own image, G-d willing, as soon as it starts to rain here!)

Stay tuned to my latest “stuck” experience, which happened recently while visiting Jerusalem with my daughter.

Have a great week!


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STUCK on a METAPHOR

I’m stuck on a find the best metaphor for this blog.

Why?

1) It’s meant to put an abstract concept into concrete terms.

2) It’s meant to create familiarity.

3) It’s meant to trigger an emotion.

4) It’s meant to draw your attention.  (And, perhaps persuade you to start using it in your own life).

*****

Until today, I’ve used the word “stuck” (on a branch) to describe situations when I’ve been not mindful.

I’m curious, does “stuck” (on a branch) do it for you?

I’m specifically talking about the word “stuck”.

Can you relate to it?

Does it describe the situations that you get into when you are not mindful?

Take a look at this picture:

billboard-stuck_1116867i

When you are:

angry or

disappointed or

frustrated or

even any positive emotion like

excited or

proud.

Do you feel stuck?

To me, and my 15-minute-blogging-Friday-friend, “stuck” isn’t the best metaphor for the image I’m trying to convey.

And, certainly in my children’s book (which I’ve returned to, to give it another go), “stuck” just doesn’t do it.

Why?

Well, when I look at the “stuck” picture above, it makes me feel like that person has no options,

no way of getting unstuck,

and certainly no choice about it.

And, that’s certainly not what I’m attempting to convey in my posts (and in my book).

Instead, “hanging onto” seems more appropriate.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Look at this guy (above).

He’s hanging onto (something).

He’s certainly not stuck.

He has a choice.

To let go.

To keep hanging.

To hang in a different way.

To climb the branch and get a different perspective of things.

To change hands and notice the effects of what hanging had on his hand.

Lots of options.

Complete freedom (if he’s aware of it).

And so, I’ve decided to change the name of my blog from:

“Stuck on a Branch” to

“Hanging Onto a Branch”.

It works much better for me,

and, I hope it may be more useful for you, too.


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STUCK on RUSHING

As I continue to practice taking time each day to just sit, I am more and more aware of how much rushing I do.

Rushing to wake up early enough so that I can get some daily exercise in before the kids wake up.

Rushing to make breakfast (and pack lunches at the same time).

Rush to get the kids off to school (and clean up the dishes at the same time).

Rushing at the supermarket.

Rushing while driving.

Rushing with my conversations.

Rushing while eating.

Rushing even to just meditate.

Why?

What is the root of rushing and why do I (we?) do it?

Desire.

And, while I accept that yes, there are things we need to do at certain moments of the day, I’m not convinced that all the rushing I do is required to get through the day.

In fact, quite the opposite, I’m convinced that slowing down would be a much healthier and productive way of living.

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I believe in God.

I believe that the Creator’s energy is eternal.

I also believe that that energy provides us with whatever we need in each given moment, whether it is: strength, or peace, or calm, humility, gratitude, or love.

The problem is, I am rushing too often to ever notice it.

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In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob dreams of a ladder and angels going up and down it.  When he woke up, he said, “Surely God was here in this place, but I did not know it.” (Genesis: 28:16).

God was there.  But, Jacob missed it.

Perhaps (in his sleep), he was also rushing.

Or, desiring something that prevented him from receiving God’s presence in that moment.

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Thanks for my daily practice of just sitting (and therefore, slowing down), I catch myself from falling into the pit of desire to rush.

Like this morning, when I was taking one of my children to kindergarten.

And, he decided to stop and explore ants on the ground.

IMG_20131106_073403IMG_20131106_073605IMG_20131106_073506

“Are you kidding me?”, I thought to myself.  “We have to stop and look at ants at 7:30 AM?”

“Look, Ema. Here’s the big ants that carry things on their backs.  These little ones are too weak to carry anything.  They are just following.”

He was so intrigued.

So excited.

So present.

And, I was grateful that I knew to stop.

And be calm.

And patient.

And be there with him.

And feel God’s presence.