“What the heck does she mean by MINDFUL, anyhow?”

I am in the middle of writing “Embracing Your Light: Mindful Healing and Recovery from Sociopath Abuse” and am defining the idea of mindfulness in hopes of dispelling any misinformation, prejudices, or negative connotations, so you’re not asking, “What in the heck does she mean by mindful, anyhow!?”

Below is mindfulness to me:

Mindfulness doesn’t mean you have to do yoga or meditate or eat tree bark.

Mindfulness simply means you live your life fully aware of yourself, your surroundings, and how you and your surroundings affect and impact each other.

Mindfulness is compassion for yourself and all living things surrounding you.

Mindfulness is not prescribing to any particular religion or faith. The faith required to be mindful is a faith in oneself.

Mindfulness is a state of being and knowing, knowing you are perfect in your imperfections. Mindfulness is accepting your imperfections and understanding that they are not permanent and do not define you.

Mindfulness is knowing that life is in a constant state of change and flux and that you are part of that change and flux.

You are who you are today. Tomorrow, you will be who you are tomorrow.

Accepting this and being patient in knowing is mindfulness.

Namaste!
~Paula

How can you instantly repulse a sociopath? By living mindfully!

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We hear the word “mindful” a lot these days. But what does it mean?How do we act mindfully when we thought all along that that’s what we’ve been doing?

Unfortunately, what we’ve mostly been doing is walking around living mindlessly, not mindfully. Much of what we busy ourselves with, day in and day out, is routine and/or constructed and directed by someone or something other than ourselves.

From brushing our teeth to deciding who our friends should be, there’s not much we do daily that actually requires us to tap into our own brains. We’re sadly controlled in many ways, and we aren’t even aware of how controlled we are.

Then we’re struck by a sociopath. A person who overtly and covertly attempts to further restrict our brains and our minds. The sociopath introduces an additional layer of control into our lives that we initially don’t even notice.

We succumb MINDLESSLY to the sociopath’s control. Time passes, and our minds slowly and miraculously begin to become aware of the sociopath’s control. We move from a state of mindlessness in the relationship to a state of mindfulness. This transition of thoughtful awareness destroys the toxic relationship’s quiet anonymity. The crazy-making, chaos and darkness that seemed so normal to us for so long suddenly come into focus. We see their destructive qualities with clarity.

But now what? How do we “make it stop” without making the relationship stop?

We can’t.

The relationship was charged by and thrived on those destructive, mindless and powerful elements. Those destructive elements were based on fear and not love. To shift the dynamic requires both people in the relationship to reach, simultaneously, an awareness that they failed. As a couple, they failed.

Normal, non-sociopathic couples who love and respect each other are capable of this synergistic realization and mutual accountability. There is a natural desire between two people who truly love each other to maintain that love, and the hard work required of both gets underway.

But when one of those people in the failed couple is a sociopath, the synergy is never reached. There is never a mutual acceptance of the failure, because there isn’t and never was a heart bond.

But there is no denying that some kind of bond existed between you and the sociopath and between you and the relationship. You weren’t holding on to nothing. Something was there.

So what kind of bond was it that kept us so desperate and clinging not to give up?

Many call it a betrayal…a single betrayal bond. But there are actually two betrayals we experience simultaneously:

1.) The betrayal of the sociopath: We were fooled into thinking this person had a conscience, could fully empathize with others and was able to feel deep remorse for the pain, intentional and non-intentional pain, inflicted on others. We thought we mattered as humans, but we were simply a means to an end for the sociopath. Materialistic ends.

2.) The betrayal of ourselves: Our mindlessness was disguised as mindfulness. We mindlessly and with false idealism thought we knew things about life and love. We truly believed that if we felt love for another, the person we loved would naturally mirror that feeling and love us in return. On the contrary, we failed to realize that love, pure love, never means we are fearful. The sociopath brainwashed us, temporarily, into thinking that being fearful, walking on eggshells, was a part of loving someone you wish to please. We held on when we should have read the signs with more clarity and discernment and let go…the first time the sociopath’s mask slipped.

In a very real sense, we had been betraying ourselves all along, long before we ever met the sociopath. Our first and overriding betrayal bond was our own self-betrayal due to our zombie-like mindlessness.

Once we started thinking more mindfully, we were able to see how we betrayed ourselves and how we were simultaneously betrayed by the sociopath. Lightbulbs went off in our minds, and both betrayal bonds quietly disintegrated. They washed away. They disappeared like magic.

And if we look at it this way, it becomes less of a loss and a failure and more of a gain and a success, because now our minds are finally open, conscious and aware. Our compassion for ourselves reflects our compassion for others. We see clearly now how to measure our graciousness and love…we start with our own hearts.

We finally notice the difference between mindless living and mindful living.

Hopefully, living mindfully feels good to you and you continue striving to be open and aware, never looking for excuses outside of yourself. That’s living mindfully.

We now know how to love fully and receive love completely. Our standards for love have changed and evolved but not in an arrogant or egotistical way. Rather, we’ve learned that our standards of love and romance must match our self-love and WILL match our self-love.

If we really love ourselves, we’ll connect with others who have the capacity to truly love us, too.

If we don’t love and fully value our worth as people, we’ll likely embrace another sociopath who can’t love and fully value our worth, either.

The sociopath simply opened our eyes to our own self-deceptive patterns and mindless habits, which opened our eyes to the sociopath’s dark nature. With our minds open, we deeply and completely rejected the darkness, which pushed us toward acting less mindlessly and more mindfully moving forward.

Ironically and much to the sociopath’s dismay, the sociopath’s over-the-top need to control us ignited our desire to control ourselves and reach for the escape hatch.

And to continue being mindful in our everyday is to simply live in the moment and appreciating every inhale and exhale and be thankful for the inhales and exhales of those surrounding us.

Namaste!
Paula

(Image source: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/1200x/77/0e/3c/770e3cb42889450a2f65081d7b4ca5d6.jpg)

Put your yoga where your mouth is

big smile yoga

Source: Pinterest

“You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late, and never too sick to start from the scratch once again.”
~ Bikram Choudhury

I absolutely believe Bikram’s words to be true and repeat the above quote a lot on my social media status updates and with friends.

As a result of my wonderful yoga experiences, I tell everyone I know and meet about the healing and strengthening powers of yoga.

Most people seem genuinely interested in learning more, but few have actually taken me on my word and tried yoga for themselves. The few who have tried all agreed that their experience was positive and left an impression. They were thankful for all of my talk about yoga.

So last fall, when I learned that I would be laid off from my job, I put my talk to the test: could I persuade myself to not give up and “to start from the scratch again?”

There is absolutely nothing more humiliating than losing your job. I worked for a Federal contractor and knew the reality of contract work: nothing is guaranteed beyond the initial contract period. I was given a two-day notice that I would be losing my job; I was devastated.

I drove home that evening feeling like a complete failure and wondered if there was something I could have done that would have helped extend the contract. There was nothing. I did my job. I did my job well. The end of the contract was the end of the contract. It had nothing to do with my performance.

The worst part of that evening was breaking the news to my husband; we had just purchased and moved into a new home a month before, and the last thing I wanted to do was let my husband down at this early stage in our mortgage responsibilities.

Fortunately, he took it well and reassured me I will find a new job in record time. He said to me, “You’ve got skills, Baby. No worries.”

But I worried. I sat down and figured out a budget and what bills I needed to pay and which ones I could defer. On paper, things looked a bit bleak. I stepped away and decided to go to an eight p.m. yoga class—if there was one expense I didn’t mind paying, it was my monthly yoga membership.

Arriving at the studio, I decided to choose a spot in a corner of the room I normally avoided, because I always thought it looked too hot. (I know—it’s Bikram—every spot is too hot.) I did my pre-practice warm up and took a quick sip of water before the instructor entered.

Transitioning through the 26 postures, I thought a lot about being unemployed; I thought about how much of a loser I was and wondered how I was ever going to get a job fast enough in this economy and job market.

I was really beating myself up during this practice.

I took many savasanas and opted out of the second set for each of the balancing postures. I kept thinking that my practice was suffering along with my career; all of the self-esteem I had built and gained over the past 10 months was quickly dissipating in less than 10 hours! Where was my mind going? And how could it go there in the yoga room?

The final savasana arrived. I lay there on my back, with my body stretched out and my eyes closed. I may have looked relaxed, but I was anything but relaxed. The instructor sweetly repeated the words he always repeats at the end of his class:

“Feel free to take what you need and leave behind what you don’t need.”

In the instant those words hit my ears, I knew I had to let go of the negative thinking that had been consuming me; I needed to gain a positive attitude and leave behind the bad one. I had to start from “the scratch,” and “the scratch” just happened to be the last savasana of the evening.

I was okay with that.

I left the yoga feeling less stressed and renewed—I was ready to be jobless and do what needed to be done to land a new position.

I practiced yoga sporadically; I went during the morning and early afternoon, times I normally wouldn’t have practiced while working. If I had an interview scheduled, I went to class before the interview.

A few weeks later, I started a new job…I barely had an opportunity to collect unemployment!

During those weeks of job searching, I put my yoga practice where my mouth is, which allowed me to ease my stress and be reminded of what’s most important to my family and me—our health and happiness.

With those two things, anything can be accomplished.

Namaste!
Paula

© 2013 Paula Carrasquillo and A Yogini Transformed.


Paula Carrasquillo is an active yogi, author, and advocate who has lived in numerous watersheds throughout the United States, including Colorado, Maine, Maryland and New Mexico. She currently lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Paula is passionate about her family, friends and the motivational and brave people she meets daily through her online writing and social media exchanges. To Paula, every person, place, thing, idea and feeling she encounters is significant and meaningful, even those which she most wants to forget. Follow Paula on Twitter and check out her other blog.

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