TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I considered the idea of refresh. I also learned a new term: Freshet. It means spring thaw but I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard that word because it sounds like a 1970s word for something I might “need” for my feminine regions but should know better than to ask for.
Written as “Freshette” it *is* also the name of a device you can use to help you pee in the woods. But without shame — or so I surmised from the super empowering ads I skimmed over just now. Anything to help more of us stay in the woods longer :)
The book I just finished, “Breath”, makes a good argument that prayer is breathing. I have riffed on prayer for a few decades now with one common phrase I ponder a few times a day: Forgive me for __________ as I forgive those who ___________. I often have no idea what is going to pop into my mind when I say that and if never fails that I end up processing something.
Recently, what popped into my mind was “forgive me for feeling shame for who I am, as I forgive those who feel shame for who they are”
Immediately, scenes I still felt deep shame over ran through my consciousness and I was able to process them, weirdly, finally. And I felt intensely refreshed.
“A last word on slow breathing. It goes by another name: prayer. When Buddhist monks chant their most popular mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, each spoken phrase lasts six seconds, with six seconds to inhale before the chant starts again. The traditional chant of Om, the “sacred sound of the universe” used in Jainism and other traditions, takes six seconds to sing, with a pause of about six seconds to inhale.”
― James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
“Prayer heals, especially when it’s practiced at 5.5 breaths a minute.”
― James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
I take a careful stance on shame. We cannot help our feelings — they happen. Shame happens and results in so much pain that you, the person holding onto shame, turns things around and becomes the victim of the pain you are holding. (h/t to my amazing brewer husband for that insight)
If you at any level, though, feel that you “should not feel shame” and you are a person who for whatever reason feels shame, then it is possible to heap shame upon shame and make the processing of shame an even harder, double-shame-filled thing.
However, just to be clear, if we as a society could stop shaming people, stop carelessly throwing around this toxic and dangerous curse, that would be amazing, in my opinion.
So. Carefully, with great respect, I would like to ask you to consider processing any lingering shame you might be holding onto. But carefully. It is, I think, sometimes a feeling that pretends to hold power over us. If we believe that power, it feels very real.
Ways to process shame through journaling are:
Draw, paint, sing, dance, art your way through.
There is a lovely technique in Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) to help with intense emotions. It is contained in a workbook by Lisa Schab called Put Your Feelings Here: A Creative DBT Journal for Teens with Intense Emotions.
If confronted with a large wave of any intense emotion, first stop and take a long, slow, conscious breath. (Or three. Or five) <= the reasons to consider slow breathing are numerous and all found in Breath by James Nestor
Next, use your observation skills: describe what is going on. Literally ask yourself “What is going on here?”
If you can, name your feeling — I am going to riff here…if you can’t “name” your feeling, describe it however you want, in your own words.
Take another slow (5.5 or 6 seconds in and then out) breath.
Accept your feeling — Feelings happen. Even the icky ones we’d rather never feel.
Express the feeling safely — Write, dance, run, sing, talk to a safe friend.
Care for yourself — Whatever you need. I can feel depleting sometimes. It can also feel just tingly and refreshing.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
The thoughts that sometimes tag along with intense emotions (like shame, but also seething rage, deep heartbreak, etc) can be gently modeled to help you have a better relationship with the feelings that might follow:
And example — the thought “Oh no! not this! I can’t handle this” can be reframed as “This! This again! This (name it) is going to be hard, but I know I can get through it.”
Honestly, I have added a twist that appeals to my gallows humor (because it acknowledges the possibility that actually, this might be it, perhaps I won’t be able to get through it) and also reminds me of faith. I sometimes say, “This! Well, this might be challenging, but if it is God’s will and the creeks don’t rise I will be able to get through it and I will likely be stronger after.”
That’s a highly personal share of mine, if helpful. Good luck with any intense emotions you may still be holding onto this week, and please seek help from a qualified therapist. I almost added an “if you need to” to the end of that sentence, but I so want to normalize therapy. Just go, if you want to.
9. Hero: Jacqueline Novogratz — Difference Maker
Why? I hold Jacqeline Novogratz in high esteem because she very early on in her career ditched everything sensible and dug in to ways to create meaningful change. The result, Acumen, is a non-profit global venture capital fund whose goal is to use entrepreneurial approaches to address global poverty.
If more of us would do this, I truly believe the world would be a much, much better place.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this. Please share with someone you think may enjoy this weekly.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts.