Caregiving

Hi I’m Warren, your resident people pleaser extraordinaire. That means my life is chock full of over–extending, getting pulled into every conflict I come across, and saying yes way too much. And of course, we can’t forget the full blown periodic burnout. An essential end result to the fawn response formula. Nothing better than a good ol hermit phase of binging on Netflix, spending a college tuition on uber eats and playing dopamine supercharged video games. Haha yep that’s me! Well, at least it used to be. To all the readers out there who choose to accept this reading mission, be prepared to join me on a little journey about how I found my way to being a sustainable caregiver once and for all. Well…mostly.

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Regulation as Practice

To be regulated is to stay within an optimal state of arousal – not too hyperaroused (excitable or revved up) and not too hypoaroused (numbed out or shut down). But dysregulation is baked into life. From the moment we exit the womb we are highly dysregulated. We come out screaming and crying, seeking to be soothed (co-regulated). As infants our regulation is entirely dependent on others. As we grow up, we have more capacity to regulate ourselves. In the same way that the mind wanders and we bring it back in meditation, our nervous systems get dysregulated and we (try to) bring it back to regulation. Regulation is a practice as much as it is a state.

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The Myth of Self-Reliance 

Every ecosystem is embedded within and connected to other ecosystems. I’d always understood them as something that I am in. But it turns out that interconnectivity does not begin with me and extend outward. It also goes in the other direction. I am not only a body in the universe; I am also a universe embodied.

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My Body. Myself. 

Like many meditators, I’m drawn to practices that transcend this body. It’s enticing for me to take refuge in the sounds around me, observe the colour and form of the natural world, spread my awareness out into the vast reaches of space. It was a revelation that meditation could chart a path away from the stuck places, but now that it has, I need a way back in so that I can heal them. It turns out the long-avoided embodiment practices are the ones I need most right now.

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Living in The Other Worlds

The imagination is a living thing, we are not dealing with dried butterflies pinned to the collector’s specimen board. The realms we access with the imagination are but the perceptible edge of a vast multiversal field of pulsating psychic energy manifesting through image, symbol and story. It cannot be known by analysis, only through experience. 

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Wake Up To Your Life

I feel like I was placing my faith in spiritual teachings and teachers, trusting that they had knowledge or insights that I needed, all the while overlooking my own inner wisdom as to how I should actually live my life.
This far-off idea of awakening, with its promise of everlasting peace and fulfillment, was distracting me from waking up to my life as it is. 
I now understand awakening as a process of coming more into reality.

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Mind Wanting More

So I sat. And after months and then years, I found that the samskaras started to get quieter. They weren’t so urgent. And when I was able to watch them without being pulled into their content and without dropping down their rabbit hole, they had less hold on me. When they had less hold on me, it was easier to know what to do. Noticing the transience of the samskara made the simple day-to-day reality more rich and available.

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A Taste of Transcendence

The act of celebration is a type of moving meditation. It doesn’t have to look like a dance party – that’s just the way that I like to do it. There are all sorts of personal celebration activities. It can be a walk by yourself, spending time in nature, an intimate dinner with friends – whatever the activity that helps to pull you out of your mind habits into the larger world of interconnection. 

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Relax. Nothing is Under Control.

I’ve been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years. Some things have changed and some things haven’t. The key thing I’ve learned is I don’t have to change who I am to be happy. All I need to do is accept the moment. I’ve learned that I’m not in control of most things, and that trying to control everything is not only pointless, it’s the source of most of my suffering. As one of my teachers posted on the door to the meditation hall – “Relax. Nothing is under control.”

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Ceremonies for Life 

Ceremonies and rituals can be as unique as those who practice them, deriving their meanings from the intentions behind them and the presence within them. Mindfulness and presence breathe life into ceremonies, they help us attune and attend to the subtle yet powerful energies that we invoke when we open ceremonial spaces.

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