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

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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Stuck on It’s YOUR Fault!

Monday afternoons are challenging for me.

I drive my kids to various extra-curricular activities, drop one kid off here, drop another kid off there, do a food shop in between, pick one kid up and then pick the other kid up and then finally head home.

It’s quite exhausting and by the time we return home it’s nearly 7 pm.

When I walk into the house with my packages, it’s never quite clear if my other two children, who stayed home with my husband, ate dinner or not.

Last night, I came home famished and noticed there was no dinner on the table.

I asked my husband if he could make a salad which he generously agreed to.

As I was putting the groceries away, I heard my husband tell the kids the salad was ready, but no one came to the island to eat.

“I don’t think anyone wants to eat,” he said to me.

“Great,” I responded. “A quiet dinner just the two of us.”

We just started eating when our five-year old approached the island and started bouncing up and down yelling, “I want salad! I want salad!”

“OK,” I responded, “So sit down!”

But, he kept bouncing.

20160216_063551 - CopyAnd then inadvertently hit his head on the corner of the island.

Agh!

He started to scream.

And so did I.

I turned to my husband and whined, “Why did you say the kids don’t want to eat?”

Dumbfounded, he responded defensively, “What’s the connection between whether or not the kids came to the table and the fact that Amir just hit his head? Are you trying to blame me for Amir getting hurt?”

Feeling the situation escalating, I responded in an extremely calm voice, “You don’t need to yell at me.”

“But, why do you do that?” he continued to insist.

And all during this exchange, our son was still screaming and receiving no attention.

So, I turned to him, gave him some ice and a big hug.

He calmed down within seconds, climbed up to his bar stool, and began eating.

But, my husband and I weren’t done with the scene.

“Can we talk about what just happened?” my husband initiated.

“No, I’d rather not talk right now,” I replied.

“Well, I’d like to talk about it,” he insisted.

Frustrated with his insistence, I stopped and quickly thought about it. I told myself I was stuck on frustration. I uncovered one belief: Because my husband did not insist that all our children come to the table, Amir hit his head. I checked on my belief and realized it wasn’t 100% accurate. In fact, it was far from the truth.  I considered that the incident had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not my husband insisted our children eat with us and I considered I was wrong for blaming my husband for it.

“Look. I got stuck. I’m sorry. Can we move on with our lives?” I pleaded.

“Ah. An apology. It’s all I wanted to hear,” he said.

Hmph.

And then I began to cry right into my bowl of salad.

Not because of my husband’s behavior, but because I was mad at myself when, in the heat of the moment, I forgot to pause.

To stop immediately when I get triggered.

Then I remembered I forgot “K”.

So, in that moment, I held myself in compassion and told myself that it was OK I got stuck on frustration in the first place and that while I have the best intentions to slow down my lightning fast reactivity, I don’t always succeed because I’m not perfect.

With that, I became grateful my husband accepted my apology and grateful for having the tools to be able to get unstuck and move on with my life and with mindful well-being.

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STUCK on “Your Kid’s Got an Attitude!”

I was at a community event recently when I witnessed a teenager acting quite disrespectfully to another adult (who happened to have been a friend of mine).

bad attitude

I was struck dumb by this teenager’s audacity and impertinence.

How could such a child in our community speak back to an authoritative figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community deliberately roll her eyes and scoff at an adult figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community have such confidence to believe that he can even act this way in the first place?

I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

And, as I stood there incredulously, I found myself being stuck on “your kid’s got an attitude, and I’ve gotta do something about it.”

I didn’t “S” stop and pause and breathe.

I didn’t “T” tell myself what I was feeling.

I didn’t “U” see what may have been underneath this all.

And, I certainly didn’t “C” consider a different perspective.

I just reacted.

Automatically.

And, I got myself involved in something to which I wasn’t even invited.

I went straight up to that teenager and told him what I had just witnessed.

And that I saw him speaking to that adult in that way.

And that he had no right to speak that way to any community member.

In other words, I put him in his place.

And his reaction?

After a little huffing and puffing and rolling of the eyes, he just walked away.

And, in that moment, I felt really good actually.

I felt like I did a good deed.

The right thing.

That any other responsible parent would have done.

But later that day, when I finally did take a moment to pause…

And speak to my own child (who was there at the scene),

I found myself regretting my behavior.

That I didn’t just stop and pause at the time.

And recognize what I was feeling (frustration).

And acknowledge that probably what was underneath all of this was the struggle of living in a small community where there are some parenting styles which I don’t endorse (which of course leads to children’s behaviors which I don’t endorse).

And consider another perspective, such as:

  • Maybe this child actually has a real problem
  • Maybe his parents are dealing with this said problem
  • Maybe the response by the adult at the scene was enough
  • Maybe you don’t have to get involved in everything that you see
  • Maybe you don’t know everything

But, that was the past.

And, this is the present.

And, while I wish I had stayed in the framework of “S.T.U.C.K.” and avoided that confrontation, I can only be compassionate to myself and remember that it’s o”K” that I got stuck there in the first place.

And now that I’m in a different mindset, can consider whether or not the right thing to do at this point is make an apology.


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STUCK on a D’var Torah for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah

This is the D’var Torah (words of Torah) that I will be saying tonight at Friday night services on Kibbutz Hannaton in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter.

Shabbat Shalom.  This week’s portion is Behar.  The two main concepts that we learn from this portion is Shmittah and the Year of the Jubilee.

Ayalah Bat MitzvahOver the past week or so, I really struggled with figuring out what kind of special D’var Torah I could come up with in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter, Ayalah.

With such an emphasis on the “land”, I thought about connecting the portion to our Aliyah and the implications of that decision: the wonderful experiences as well as the many challenges.  I also thought about sharing with the community Ayalah’s choice in celebrating her Bat Mitzvah by harvesting crops with the non-profit organization called Leket instead of a traditional dance party.

Yet, after reading the portion a few times, I still felt stumped. I started asking friends for help.  I searched the internet.  I read articles and commentaries and watched videos, but couldn’t find anything that truly came from my heart and that was meaningful enough to me to be able to share with you and in honor of Ayalah.  I started to get nervous.  Endless thoughts starting running through my mind.  Maybe I shouldn’t do the D’var Torah.  Maybe my husband should just do it?  Maybe I’ll ask a friend?

And, then I stopped.

I just paused.

And in that space, came my D’var Torah.

The idea of “stopping”.

In this week’s portion, we see an emphasis on stopping a few times.

Leviticus 25: 3-4 -For 6 years you may sow your field and for 6 years you may prune your vineyard, and you may gather in its crop.  But, the 7th year shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Hashem, your field you shall not sow and your vineyard you shall not prune.”

Leviticus 25: 8-12 “You shall count for yourself seven cycles of sabbatical years… shall be 49 years… You shall sanctify the 50th years and proclaim freedom throughout the land…. Each of you shall return to his ancestral heritage…”

Interestingly, how often are we commanded in the Torah to DO things and then STOP doing that same commandment?

And, why are we commanded to stop?

Is it merely just to regain energy?  Rejuvenate?   So, that we have strength and energy to keep us going until the next pause?

Or, is there something more to it?

When I look at my own life, I can readily admit how difficult it is to stop.

There’s always so much to do.  I feel like I’m usually behind the 8 ball in the house, with the kids, and the laundry, and the meals, and the homework, starting a business, and the committees, and the community meetings, and on and on.

My tendency is not to stop.

And, I can think of 2 inter-related reasons why this simple, but not necessarily easily action occurs:

1)      I (like most people) believe that we are in control of our destiny.  That life is in our hands.  And so, in order to accomplish things, I need to keep moving and doing.  If I were to temporarily stop, I would appear (to myself and others) to be an irresponsible member of society or the family.  And so, believing that destiny is in my hands, I keep moving.

2)      I (like most people) want to see immediate results of their actions.  If we set any kind of goal for ourselves, then we keep moving towards that goal in efforts to achieve it without stopping, of course.

And yet, we are commanded to stop.

And, I believe there’s more to it than just the physical rejuvenation.

That when we pause, from whatever it is we are doing, something else occurs.

An opportunity: To just notice life continuing to exist moment by moment without any action on our part.  (Something we usually miss because we are so busy).

An opportunity: To acknowledge the Source of all life.

An opportunity: For gratitude.

And when we realize and accept this reality, perhaps we would be more willing to pause and be more grateful to the One who sustains us all.

And so, when we pause (before we eat, before we speak, before we act, before we start our day, when we are at work, on Shabbat), we put ourselves in an entirely different mode of being.

Which is the reason that I try to pause each morning before I start my day with meditation.

And why I often do this in the public spaces of our house (like the living room).

So that my children can observe and perhaps recognize the value of intentionally pausing.

And so, Ayalah, on your Bat Mitzvah, I wish you the wisdom of the act of pausing and the courage to practice it, even when you think you don’t need it.  So that when you do need it, it’ll become second nature to you.  And I hope that you will learn in your own life the power of a pause and how it can strengthen you as a young girl, a woman, and a human being.

And with that, I would like to pause for a moment and be aware of all of my blessings and thank Hashem for giving you life and sustaining you and helping you to reach this day.

Shabbat Shalom.


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STUCK on a PAUSE

I was stuck on despair a few days ago.

As as I processed through this challenging emotion, I reminded myself of the “S” step (in S.T.U.C.K.).  That is, the importance of intentionally Stopping and taking a break from the busyness of the mind.

And when I did this, I basically came back to the same conclusion that I had several months ago: reaffirming that yes, this business idea is what I really want to be doing with my life.  And, in order to do so, I must just move forward, be patient and keep an open-mind.

Yet, that’s not what the step of stopping is all about!

It’s not about reaffirming our life’s desires.

Rather, stopping is an opportunity to witness life as it unfolds, moment by moment, experience by experience.

And, there is a big difference between the two.

This revelation came to me (as most revelations always do) during my morning meditation sessions over the past three days.

Pause_Hammock_Postcard

I recognized two inter-related ideas of why I (and many others) may struggle with pausing:

1) In general, I think most of us believe we are in total control of our lives, when in actuality we are not.  And, if we were to pause, it would mean we are not being responsible because it would mean we are wasting precious time as opposed to being busy doing something else.

2) Most of us are interested in seeing the immediate outcomes of life’s situations.  So, if we allow ourselves to pause, for even a moment, we would presumably delay that outcome.

And so, the tendency is to not stop.

Not to pause.

But, when we do, life can appear differently.

And, incredibly interesting.

And almost magical.

And certainly gratifying.

Like two days after writing about being “stuck on despair”, when I received a phone call from one of the biggest hi-tech companies in the area (1200+ employees). A company that I didn’t even reach out to personally, but just passed my information on to a friend.  A company that invited me to give 2 (not just 1) demo classes and will pay me full-price (not free sessions which I’ve been offering to other companies).   A company who sees the value of my services.  A company who is interested not only in my yoga, but my meditation classes.  And, believe it or not, my mindful eating workshops as well.  A company that has an incredible physical space to hold my yoga/meditation sessions.  A company that wants to support their employees’ overall health.

And to think… I hardly did anything proactive to really get my foot in the door to this company.

It came to me with hardly any effort at all.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m certainly not saying, let me lean back, kick my legs up, and wait for clients to come knocking down my door.

No, I’m far from saying that.

Instead, I’m just advocating the pause.

And, to be curious about it.

And allow those precious moments of the unknown to arise.

Without judging them.

Who knows? Maybe there won’t even be interest from any employees from this company.

I certainly can’t be stuck on expectations.

Or what about the two part-time job offers (unrelated to Yoga at Work) that came knocking at my doorstep this week?

Hmm…

Interesting…

Maybe…

And, continue to pause and watch life unfold as it is meant to be.

Whether it’s how we intended it to be or not.


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STUCK on SUGAR!

I’m stuck on sugar.

Agh.

I hate when this happens.

Which is usually in the winter.

When I find myself, seeking out sugar.  

sugar

And while I may not seek out sugary “junk”, I am seeking cakes and cookies.  

Or even chocolate, even though I’m not such a big fan of it.

*******

Now, while this blog is for the purpose of processing emotional attachments (and being addicted to sugar can be argued a biological addiction), I decided nevertheless to treat being “stuck on sugar” like any other emotional attachment and see where it would take me.

Because, in a way, I guess I felt like I needed to “feed” my body on sugar because it was making me feel good, just like the way I (and all of us) feel like we need to “feed” ourselves on emotional attachments (stuck on “x”) because in each particular situation, we feel like they make us feel good or right.

*******

S.T.U.C.K.

2 weeks ago tomorrow, I….

“S” – STOPPED and PAUSED before doing anything else.  

And “T” – Told myself how I was feeling.

Lethargic.

Bloated.

Carrying too many extra pounds around the waistline.

Irritable.

Not happy with my figure.

Then, I looked to see what may be “U” – underneath it all.  In other words, how is it that I got myself into this place?

The cold weather?

Work instability?

Not getting out of the house enough?

Mothering?

4 children?

That have lots and lots of energy?

And make lots of lots of noise?

Alllllllllllllll the time?

And, perhaps I comforted myself from the stresses of life with sugar??

Could be.

Who knows.

Then I got to “C” – to consider another perspective, to choose another reality, to consciously behave differently,

and realized that I don’t have to be addicted to sugar.

I could choose to eat foods that don’t contain sugar.

Just like when I’m stuck on anything else and I choose to behave differently.

And, I certainly can eat in a more mindful manner, for sure.

So, what did I do?

Went on a cleanse.

To detoxify my body of sugar.

(Which I believe, consider me a freak or an extremist, is a poison to our bodies in any event.)

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

I started by eliminating all sugars (including all fruit temporarily) from my diet.

And simultaneously, I eliminated anything made with wheat: bread, pasta, crackers, pretzels, cereals, etc. (because not only do they also contain sugar, I felt addicted to those, too… probably because, in the end, all of these foods turn to sugar in our bodies anyway).

*(By the way, most people who think I’m crazy when I tell them I’m doing a cleanse ask, “Then what DO you eat?”… Which seems funny to me… I just respond, “My usual diet, minus the sugar and wheat: salads, all other grains besides wheat (oats, rice, barley, spelt, rye), eggs, cheese, quinoa, all kinds of nuts, all kinds of seeds, and beans.  That’s PLENTY to eat off of and be satisfied from!”)

After the first day, I already felt effects.

More energy.

Less bloated.

Slimming down in the belly area.

Patient.

More “regular” bowel movements.

Happier with my figure.

****

Almost two weeks later, I am witnessing that I’m no longer stuck on sugar.

Not only do I not need it, I’m not even seeking it out.

(Not that this detox is the final step, because it’s certainly not.)

The purpose of the cleanse was to have a jump start to get back to mindful eating: the practice of raising awareness while eating, listening to the body, and responding to its signals.

And, when I get to “K”, I remind myself that despite the fact that I fell off the path of mindful eating (again), it’s o”K” that I got stuck in the first place.

It’s just a part of living.

And learning.

And living again.


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STUCK on RESPONDING AUTOMATICALLY

We all do it.

Someone…

a family member, a neighbor, a child…

Says something that just irks you to the core.

And you respond.

Automatically.

Because you, I, are just stuck

On responding…

On reacting…

automatically.

Which ultimately tends to leads us to places we’d rather not be in.

And, yet, somehow, we feel powerless over that gut, knee-jerk reaction…

As if we have no control over it.

Yet, we do.

*****

Over this past week, I came to realize the enormous value in the letter “S” of the acronym “S.T.U.C.K.”

STOP.

Just STOP.

So when your family member, or neighbor, or child,

says something to you that irks you to the core,

you will just pause.

And in that moment, something may potentially happen.

Perhaps the pause will allow them to realize that their words were:

misdirected,

misguided,

obnoxious,

arrogant,

disrespectful

out of context,

hurtful,

or just plain rude

OR

Perhaps the pause will allow you to realize that their statement wasn’t meant to be

misdirected,

misguided,

obnoxious,

arrogant,

disrespectful

out of context,

hurtful,

or just plain rude.

You see, the simple pause may allow for endless possibilities.

The chance for the other person to realize his/her mindless speech.

The chance for you to not get resentful or angry.

The chance for compassion.

The chance to find some truth (some truth!) in what was said.

pause

Either way, we must not underestimate the power of pausing.

At the minimum, it could save a conversation.

At the maximum, it could save a relationship.

As Mark Twain said, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

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

So, how do we do this?

How do we incorporate pausing into our lives, when the most natural instinct we have as humans is to respond?

By purposefully stopping on a regular basis.

Call it what you may: stopping, sitting, meditating.

It doesn’t matter.

It’s just the intentional practice of forcing ourselves to stop,

each day,

for a predetermined amount of time.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

And, it’s value is way overlooked.

You should try it.

And, before you dismiss this invitation,

STOP.

And, in that space,

see what arises.


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STUCK on EATING MINDLESSLY

For the past 10 years or so, I’ve become very interested (some may say obsessed) of how humans eat.

After become an avid reader on the subject (mindful eating), I started to offer such workshops while living in New Jersey.

What struck me most, both in my studying of the subject and in my personal investigation of myself, is how unaware most people are when they eat.

Distractions of any sort (see below) can and do lead people to not be present when they eat:

eating distractions

  • Reading the newspaper or a book while eating
  • Eating while doing another activity (checking your email, texting, watching a movie/TV, driving, etc.)
  • Loud noises (including parties, children screaming, eating at bars, etc.)
  • Having a conversation with someone else
  • Trying to beat the clock
  • The amount and variety of food that is available to you (like at a buffet, social event, etc.)
  • The size of your plate
  • Your mindset (I have to eat “x” every morning. I have to eat “y” grams/ounces of it.)
  • Eating for any reason other than you are hungry (because of the time on the clock, because you are tired, because everyone else is eating, because you are stressed).
  • Being in the presence of others who are eating in any of the ways aforementioned.

Maybe someone may wonder why distractions during eating are a bad thing?  Well, I wouldn’t necessarily claim them as “bad”, but rather noting what the distractions can lead to: like missing our hunger signals, overeating, or simply missing what could be a beautiful and holy experience.

All of which have happened to me, or sometimes happen to me on a regular basis.

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

Personally, I feel like I have lots of distractions in my life.

Tons of them.

And often times, I find myself eating in a way that completely opposes what I would claim as ideal.

I come back to this realization a lot, make some sort of intentional change to become more aware, stay with that new change for a while, and then at some point consciously or unconsciously put it aside, and go back to my old habits or ways of living with unawareness.

Kind of like my meditation practice.

But, this morning, as I held my breakfast in my bowl, I decided to do 2 things from my acronym (S.T.U.C.K.):

1) “S” Stop before I put each spoonful of food in my mouth.  Each time.  Each time.  Each time.  Each time.  (Yes, EACH time.)  I just paused for a millisecond and held the food in mid-air, and

2) “C” Choose to verbalize to myself what I can notice.  I noticed warmth, texture, smells, tastes, and the sensation of my mouth touching my spoon.

I noticed the pace of my chewing.

I noticed how I held my back and shoulders.

I noticed going from hungry to satisfied.

Each time I put the food to my mouth, I noticed something else entirely.

Like it was the first time I ever experienced eating in my life.

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

So, as the Sabbath approaches, which for me, is the time of the week with the most distractions (personally) at the dinner table because of my ridiculous habit of preparing way more food than necessary, I will continue to practice the “stopping” and the “choosing” with each opportunity of bringing food into my mouth.

Until I get stuck again.

Shabbat Shalom!

shabbat food