Underbelly: 10 Things - Lightness

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Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly
#102 in a series of wild and precious things to help you see light in darkness.

  1. TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated lightness.
The week was mainly about levity, about feeling light, unstuck, laughing and doing slightly scary things and (aha!) watching shadows disappear. Showing up.
This week I contemplated what happens when you “Just Start” or “Just Go” or “Just ask” or “Just Breathe”
I noticed a turning toward light, a heliotropistic maneuver as I sought out what I needed — allowing myself to watch a cloud through a window at one point during a social event, making time for stringing popcorn (<= I have always enjoyed quiet during this time of year.)
I want to mention a movie that impacted me greatly. God Grew Tired of Us: The Lost Boys of Sudan. There’s so much in this movie, but at this time of year, the bit that I always come back to is when John Bul Dau, author of the book “God Grew Tired of Us” and a human rights activist, encountered his first “Christmas” in North America. “He remembered the “spiritual preparation” that he and others used to go through as the commemoration of Jesus’ birth drew near each year; contemplation and meditation rather than ribbons and bows, glitz and glitter. It was more about Presence than presents.
I hesitate to mention this but I wonder sometimes if I am not alone in feeling unsettled by what is imposed on us versus what our bodies yearn for at this time of year? I also greatly hesitate putting this forth but I very much feel that it goes beyond one spiritual tradition. This time of year feels quite deeply to be one of contemplation and meditation.
2. Quote
“Heliotropism, a form of tropism, is the diurnal or seasonal motion of plant parts in response to the direction of the Sun.”
“There would not be worth for lightness without darkness.” ― Kamaran Ihsan Salih
“Let me give you a wonderful Zen practice. Wake up in the morning…look in the mirror, and laugh at yourself.” ― Bernie Glassman, in The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges
2.1 Facts
Laughing and crying can both bring a sense of lightness — Do you agree?
Check this out (from The Nature of Things)
“As a parent soothes and quiets a crying baby, dopamine is released in the parents’ brain, making them feel good. “We have developed a positive reward association to the cry,” Haley explains. When baby cries, parents soothe them until all is quiet, bringing sweet relief. Do this enough times and a positive feedback loop is created, making the parent crave another dopamine hit from comforting their child.”
and this (also from The Nature of Things)
Laughing with others releases endorphins in the brain, a natural painkiller hormone that makes you feel great. It also activates the release of serotonin, the same brain chemical that helps to lower depression.
Laughing can also protect your heart. Research has shown that laughter reduces the body’s stress response, keeping inflammation low and protecting your blood vessels and heart muscles from the impacts of cardiovascular disease.
3. Prompt
How do you acknowledge the pervasive dark and yet turn toward the light?
How do you acknowledge what you need, even when it’s not what you are “supposed” to need?
What do you need? How do you get what you need?
4. Quest
What if there were a balance between noticing what other people need and noticing what we need?
What if we quietly moved through our week ensuring that our needs were met?
Ages ago, a lovely therapist introduced me to the concept of actually writing down my needs — explicitly. Every day, each week, etc, what do I need, how much time does each need require, etc.
Try it: Take a sheet of paper, make a couple columns, and list your needs for the day. Eating, sleeping, exercise, time with friends, time alone, etc. next to each need, allow time
It’s both a liberating and infuriating process.
Here is a list of commonly acknowledged emotional needs: security, volition, attention, emotional connection, connection to the community, privacy, a sense of status, a sense of achievement, and meaning
Do your needs meet these emotional needs?
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
It’s a theory of mine that when our needs are met, we feel lighter. It’s an intuition I have that this tension of unmet needs occasionally swirls around and wreaks havoc.
6. Video
Rethinking Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Rethinking Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
7. Article
The Blackfoot Wisdom that Inspired Maslow's Hierarchy - Resilience
8. Poem
Waiting for the Light by Alicia Ostriker - Poems | poets.org
9. Hero
John Dau Foundation
10. Share/Connect/Action
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Wendy Kelly
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Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly @wendykkelly

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Nelson, British Columbia