Thank You!

Posted by Asenath in community | Humans of WorkWell - (Comments Off on Thank You!)

In the past few months of creating our Humans of WorkWell Series, I have enjoyed the unexpected pleasure of getting to hear from so many of our clients about what matters to you most. It has been funny, touching and inspiring.

In all these years of saying hello and goodbye to so many of you, getting a chance to sit down and have these short, heartfelt conversations has opened my eyes to the possibilities for human connection that are all around us.

I want to thank, not only those who have participated in Humans of WorkWell, but all of you, who have been part of our tribe at one time or another. I have heard from many people in these interviews their reasons for choosing to come to WorkWell for bodywork. The themes that emerge are trusting us to always have high-quality therapists and feeling invested in supporting a local business that they believe in.

These interviews have opened my eyes and heart to how lucky we are to have the support of so many people who feel such a personal connection to us and our work. I am so grateful for that support and inspired to do everything possible to do my very best for WorkWell and all of our amazing clients.

Thank you for nurturing a small, local business with your time, money and care. I hope and trust that it is coming back to you and that it will continue to do so in greater and greater ways. I am dedicated to doing my very best to be of service to all of the people who make up this wonderful community.

Sincerely,

Asenath

Trusting Life

Posted by Asenath in community | personal growth - (Comments Off on Trusting Life)

Hello, dear community.

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about trust. What comes to mind when you hear that word? I think for a lot of us, the first thing that comes up is our relationships and how comfortable we are or are not with trusting other people. But the bigger question is how open are we to trusting in life itself?

I have made a deep and personal study of trust in recent years. This was necessary, because I have struggled with anxiety so much during these years. Underlying my anxiety was a feeling that I needed to constantly be on the lookout for problems and solve them in advance in order to fend off disaster.

This expectation of disaster came as a result of situations that felt overwhelming and intolerable to me, after which, unconsciously, I took upon myself the responsibility of making sure that nothing like that ever happened again.

Even when I knew that my problem-solving mind was not doing me any favors by frantically trying to control things so that good things would happen and bad things would be avoided, I couldn’t stop. My mind had such a habit of stepping in to predict and solve problems, that it was beyond my control to stop it.

Under stress, I think this happens to a lot of us. We may know that we are wasting precious resources and stressing ourselves out by trying to direct the flow of life, but what else are we to do? Our fear of being swallowed by this problem or that is so great, that our mind feels it must jump in to help.

I’ve spent years practicing meditation in order to help soothe and quiet my mind, and as helpful as that has been, I’ve still found it difficult to get into a truly cooperative relationship with my mind.

There is a concept in Buddhism called “wearing out”, and in some ways, that is what has been happening in recent years with my fears. They have begun to just wear themselves out. I have sought out better ways of working with my mind and applied them to the best of my ability. And to the extent to which I have not been successful, I have just waited and allowed my fear to run its course.

Recently, the scales have begun to tip. The evidence that my racing mind is doing more harm than good has mounted and mounted until, something has gently given way. I’ve witnessed the wearing out of the old belief that I can think my way into (or out of) a certain kind of life. I may have known that intellectually a while ago, but it is only now that the knowledge is moving from a theory to a reality, from a probability to a fact.

I’m not saying that we ought not to use our minds. Of course not. Our minds exist, and they carry out incredible functions. But it’s often a case of the tail wagging the dog. For most of my life, my mind has been in the driver’s seat, trying to get life to go a certain way, and the rest of me is just along for the ride.

During a meditation session a couple of weeks ago my mind was resting peacefully, and I was filled with love for this instrument, which works so diligently on my behalf. I noticed how capable and agile it is and how exasperated it becomes from working so much. Rather than admonish it for wasting energy worrying, I acknowledged its awesome power.

I realized that it has been operating under a misguided directive for so long. I have assigned it the job of solving all my problems, and it has done its best and worked so hard to fulfill that directive. I began to perceive what an immense relief my mind would feel, if I removed that burden from it. I saw that, not only would it be able to rest and relax, but it would be able to use its great power for tasks it is fully equipped to handle.

In that initial meditation a couple of weeks ago, I had a vision of what my mind would be capable of if, instead of serving my fear, it was serving a higher purpose.

Since then, when my mind starts going, trying to solve all of my problems, I simply invite it to come lie down and rest. I see it like a cat stretched out napping in the sunlight. I let the light of stillness shine on it and let it soak up that light. Every time I allow my mind to rest like a cat in the silent light of awareness, I am gently, lovingly teaching it it’s new instructions. I am gently re-training it where to go, where to exist, who to serve.

The sense of relief is so powerful. It’s not just a break from stressing out. It’s a redesign of my inner workings that puts my mind in alignment with the rest of me. Under the old system, my mind was tasked with a huge job that it could never fulfill. How stressful is that? In the new system, my mind is reserved for taking on tasks it can excel at.

This is where my fear had to wear itself out. I had to come to the conclusion that so little of what happens or doesn’t happen in this life is within my control. I had to give up all hope that my mind could find a way for me to succeed in business, in relationships, in health, in life. I had to accept that there is very little my mind can do to alter the course of my life.

One key to this shift for me has been opening up to the experience of simply trusting in life’s process. I can see that life has a way of working things out. All of us will face hardships, and when we do, we will get through them however we get through them. And when we die, we will go through that however we go through that.

Sometimes we will get exactly what we want, and that, too, has a kind of pain in it. It immediately sets off this desire to hold on to a good thing, to increase it, to solidify it. That kind of craving is also based in fear, and the feeling of fear is discernible in the excitement of getting what we want. The mind can then spin off with a million ideas of how to increase the good fortune that has come our way. It’s all an effort to avoid pain and suffering.

What I’ve begun to clearly see, is that it is not the mind’s job to help me avoid pain and suffering, to get what I want and stave off what I don’t want. That is a fool’s errand, which wastes my energy and makes true peace and happiness impossible.

I’ve come to see that it is a better use of my energy to trust in life’s process than to try to direct it. To see everything that is given to me, both things I really want and things I really don’t want, as a gift. As what is mine to work with. Any effort to change things actually takes me further away from myself. Having a willingness to work with whatever comes my way, to do my best with what is right in front of me without pushing my own agenda, keeps me grounded in a place where peace and happiness reside and are immediately accessible.

Whatever life brings my way, good and bad, lucky and unlucky, is going to happen. There is no use in fighting against it or trying to prevent or change it. It is better to free up that energy and become supple, allowing whatever occurs to simply be, and giving my mind the rest and recognition it deserves.

Blessings to you and yours.

Asenath

We’ll See!

Posted by Asenath in community | enlightenment | personal growth - (Comments Off on We’ll See!)

A friend recently told me this great Taoist story:

There was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“We’ll see,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“We’ll see” said the farmer.

There is so much to love in this story. First, it hits upon one of my favorite bits of wisdom, being able to see the good in the bad and the bad in the good. As Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn says, “No Mud, No Lotus”. Does that make sense? Another way of saying it is no compost, no veggies. The waste makes the food makes the waste makes the food. No light without shadow. Opposites are actually inseparable parts of each other. They are actually the same thing. It’s the good old yin and yang.

The best things in our lives grow from the fertile ground left when things fall apart. And the hardest things in our lives come from the best things, too, things such as being alive, loving, learning.

Whenever things are rough, I always look for the blessings. And when things are great I try to practice letting it flow, not trying to hold on too tightly. Good and bad will come and go. Nurturing this kind of equanimity, this calm at the center of the storm is one of the main reasons I meditate.

Another reason I love this Taoist story is that it could just go on and on. You could easily add to it 10, 20 or 100 more events. And the farmer would just say, “We’ll See.”

To me, this really gets to what a long, twisty-turny path life really is. How many times have I despaired, thinking my world was falling apart only to later find myself feeling like the luckiest person alive. And on it goes. We never know what is around the next corner. I find that very comforting. I like to think of all the things that will happen in my life, which I can’t even begin to imagine now. I like not knowing the future. I like knowing that people, places and events beyond my wildest imagination are out there moving toward me and I don’t even know it. Sure, some will be tragic and some will be grand, but to me, it’s all just gorgeous. The fact that we are even here and all this is happening is such a wonder and a miracle. A million billion miracles one after another and all at the same time.

When our perspective is too small, only reacting to one event at a time, the feelings can be overwhelming. But, if we can remember that this is only one event in an infinite landscape of possibilities, we can be a bit more dispassionate, a bit more open-minded, we can zoom out and see the big picture. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about the things that happen for, to and around us in 2017. We are human and we have feelings, beliefs and opinions. But it never hurts to keep an open mind and a light heart. Especially when things don’t seem to be going in our favor, just remember, We’ll See!

Setting Intention Throughout the Day

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Hello Sweet Community.

The cold weather is finally here. The dark comes early every day. The rain and drizzle have been near constant. It’s a little harder to get out of bed in the morning. It takes a few extra layers and some waterproof boots to go outside and enjoy the hours of sunlight we do have available. It is nice to be inside our homes for warmth and for light and for nourishing food. It is a time of dormancy and going inward. We are not called on to grow and bloom so much as to hibernate, to rest, to conserve our energy. To focus on family and home. Ahh, winter. It feels kind of good doesn’t it?

And then there was the election. However you feel about the results, this is a very potent period of change, of re-balancing, getting our bearings in a new landscape. People have seemed a bit disoriented. People have experienced a wide range of feelings. At this time, we all need to be gentle with ourselves and each other. We need to take extra  good care of ourselves, so we can extend that well-being out to all others.

As is fitting for the season, I have felt the urge to look inward and watch my mind, my heart and my reactions and see what I can learn from them about myself and how I can grow as a person and a member of society. It hasn’t felt right for me to be especially active or verbal in interacting with politics or the world. Instead, I have been very introspective. Every time I sit down to write the next blog post, I feel somewhat reserved, letting thoughts swirl and simmer until they are ready, whenever that is.

For me, introspection often has a painful side to it, but I always feel the results are worth it. Lately, I have been fairly successful at observing some of the less generous or kind parts of myself, which would lead me into feeling despair about myself or the world, without really believing what they have to say. That has been very worthwhile. Being there and listening, but not buying in completely. I have learned to be skeptical about almost everything I think or believe. I’ve found that to be quite helpful.

There is one small practice which I would like to go ahead and share with you.  This is something you have no doubt heard of and practiced before many times, but it has been working for me in the past few weeks, so I will offer this little reminder to myself and to all of us about the practice of setting our intention throughout the day.

Intention setting is such a simple thing. The way I have been practicing it lately is by breaking my day into chunks and setting an intention for the next chunk. It might look like this:

OK, I’m going to write a blog post for WorkWell right now. Before I get started on that, what is my intention? Then, I sort of feel into my heart to see what I really need, what will feel right. An answer will come to me, such as “I want to get out of my own consciousness and connect with the group consciousness. I also want to be helpful.” Then I keep that as my primary focus during the activity. I know why I am there, what my purpose and direction are.

Later, as I prepare to leave work, it’s time to set another intention. OK, I’m going to pick up Gus from school and go home to make dinner and do our evening chores and routine. What is my intention? Again, I take a few moments to feel into what is needed. I don’t get stuck in my to-do list. That is there, and it will happen. But what I’m looking for now is not the what but the how. The answer will usually be simple, like I want to relax and have fun with my family. Once again, I now know purpose and can let it guide my decisions and actions for the rest of the night.

It’s amazing how differently the day will unfold if I just take the time to set an intention. Sometimes my intention is to learn something, to listen, to rest, to heal, to connect. When I take just a few minutes to tune into what I really need, my actions become so much more meaningful, focused and productive. It saves a lot of headaches.

Last thing I will say about this is that it is particularly helpful to use this practice for getting through parts of the day that are predictably difficult. Sometimes for me, checking emails is stressful. Lately, evenings and bedtime seem to be sad times for me. Noticing these in advance and taking a few minutes beforehand to check in and ask our body/minds what we need can make a world of difference. When we know our goal, we can let go of everything else. If all I desire is to be mindful when checking e-mail, then I will have succeeded, regardless of everything else. If all I need is to give myself a big break from being perfect at bed time, then I will have succeeded as long as I can accomplish that one thing.

So, this is what I am going to keep practicing this month, and I invite you to try it as well or to share in the comments or on our Facebook Page what practices are currently helpful in your life.

We are so fortunate to share this life with such wonderful companions who are also looking and feeling deeply and who support and inspire us. Thank you for being on this planet and in this life.

~Asenath

How Connected Are We, Really?

Posted by Asenath in community | enlightenment | Holistic Wellbeing | Massage | personal growth | WorkWell Personalities - (Comments Off on How Connected Are We, Really?)

Dear WorkWell Community,

We are all connected, aren’t we? We share a culture, a language, this city of ours, Austin. We all travel along the same roads, visit many of the same restaurants, hike the same trails, groove to the same music.

It’s so tempting to feel isolated, separate and alone, isn’t it? Even when we are surrounded by others, we feel separate. We may be driving in our car alone and feel no connection to the other people sharing the road with us. The truth, however, is that we are very much depending upon those other people, aren’t we? We are depending upon them to be awake, sober, alert. To be willing and able to follow the laws of safe driving. In fact, our very existence, depends entirely upon the people with whom we are sharing the road. Do we take the time to recognize this? To feel grateful to them for caring about the preciousness of life and their fellow humans? Do we take the time to wish them a safe ride, a good day at work, a good song on the radio?

We may be in our home and feel no connection to the many people in our neighborhood and city. And yet, of course, if they were not there, we could not be there either. Without them, our neighborhood would be a ghost town. We all depend on one another being there. That’s how we have roads and grocery stores and gardens and schools. We are very much connected with our neighbors. We could literally not exist in the way that we do, if it were not for them.

We may even be interacting with people at work, church or at a party, but underlying our interactions is a sense that there is a “me” interacting with a “you”, and that we are inherently separate entities.

Do we ever stop to wonder whether or not that is actually true? This sense of being a separate self is taught to us from birth and is constantly being reinforced by the ways we talk and think about the world. Have you ever tried to go a day without using the word “I”?  It would be very difficult to do, because this idea of a separate self is so deeply ingrained in our language and our way of thinking and being in the world.

But we can come up with any number of examples that will show us that what we consider to be “me” could not exist without other people and places. It can’t exist without context. It certainly can’t exist without sunshine, rain, and an earth to live upon. It only exists within the framework of all of creation and also within the framework of all of humanity. It is impossible to find an example anywhere in which the self exists completely alone with no context.

I think this is the meaning of the koan “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Having heard that all my life, I realized just the other day why that question is significant. It points us to the truth that, just as one hand cannot clap itself, one life cannot live itself. It’s absurd. We are not separate. It’s impossible to be so.

Perhaps you are thinking, “yeah, so what?” It is almost a cliche to say “we are all connected”. Is it just a saying without meaning or does it mean something? Do we notice this and think, “sure, that’s true” while we go on living as a separate self? Will it make a difference in our lives if we stop to consider that maybe this whole idea of being a separate self isn’t true?

As some of you may know, I follow Buddhist teachings and meditate with a group of people who do the same. This insight, the one I am sharing about there not being such a thing as a separate self, is the basic realization that the Buddha had. It’s not that hard to see, but it takes some practice and concentration to apply. But we don’t need to be Buddhists to see this. It actually has nothing to do with that. It’s just an insight into how we view the world, which might be flawed, and this basic flaw might be the cause of a lot of suffering. It’s just something to ponder.

I can’t say whether or not it will make a difference for you to question the existence of a separate self. But I know that for me, the practice of looking into that, over and over again has made me much larger, more loving, more open and more at peace. And, of course, for many others, as well, this simple deep question has unlocked something very profound.

So, I certainly invite you to try it. I need frequent reminders, which is why I meditate and listen to talks from spiritual teachers and converse with friends who keep pointing these things out to me. And I’m part of that, too. Continuing to remind myself and others to look again and see whether or not we still believe we are separate. Can we let go of that belief again? If so, what happens?

WorkWell Austin is 6 years old now. For the duration of these 6 years, I have been going along this path, trying to be a good business owner. Trying to understand my role or roles here. Of course, on the surface, I have many roles which encompass everything from choosing the building to sweeping the floor, maintaining equipment, hiring and training staff, managing schedules, booking appointments, marketing, accounting, etc.

Those have been a playground and a classroom for me to learn many new skills, to make mistakes, some very painful ones, and to celebrate successes and relationships. But deeper than that, there is a reason that this exists. Certainly, it is to provide great massages to our clients. But more than that it is to connect amazing people with one another to help facilitate our healing and personal growth. I have always felt that connection and that sense of community between us all. Even though most of you who come to WorkWell have never met each other, the therapists here and, especially myself, see this very connected community of people on a path of personal healing, health, love and growth.

Just recently I began a series on our Facebook page called Humans of WorkWell, modeled after the beloved Humans of New York blog. I have so greatly enjoyed being able to do these interviews and photoshoots. I just ordered my first ever real camera, so I can begin honing my skills as a photographer. The interview process is also evolving, and it is so satisfying and beautiful to me. Getting to know our clients even more deeply and share their strength and beauty with our community has enhanced that sense of connectedness that I felt was there all along.

Now, I am beginning to blog for us, writing to you all once or twice a month, and that, too, feels like a deepening of the connection we all share. I am so grateful for it. My dear friend, Alexis, will also be doing some blogging for WorkWell, and her writings will be well-researched massage and health related posts. My posts are going to be more along the lines of this one. Speaking to you from my heart about the things that matter most to me: our personal, intellectual, cultural and spiritual growth. I look forward to connecting more and more deeply with my beloved community. It is such an honor simply share in this existence with you. To realize how precious it is, how much we really do need and support one another. Thank you for being here, for bringing your unique perspective and light. Thank you to all of us for showing up.