The "Things-Can-Get-Really-Bad" voice is a big fat bully.
It likes to threaten us vaguely, not using real words.
It likes to talk to us, from the vantage point of being perched on our shoulder, where we can't really see it, never offering to look at us in the eye.
It likes to bring up old fears, and is really savvy at knowing what makes us weak.
Often, all it takes to send it away, is one good clear question. A question that will cut through the vague threats, the terrible, terrible stories.
This questions is:
What it the worse that can happen?
Once we have asked that question, it's good to listen for the answer (and it may be a little minute before a concrete answer shows up. Wait for the concrete). Then, maybe ask again. And maybe one more time.
Ask until you have a crystal clear / can taste it picture of what this worse scenario looks like. Then sit with it. Look at it. Settle into it. Get as cozy as you can with it.
How bad is it? One a scale of 1 to 10, what is it?
Chances are, it's not a 10. Maybe a 9, but most likely not a 10.
Certainly not the 12 "Things-Can-Get-Really-Bad" big fat bully voice wanted us to believe.
You see, clarity killed the bully. It took a whole lot of courage, but it did it.
Go ahead, ask.
I am sharing with you a text I received from the wonderful, amazing Nipun Mehta, founder of Service Space (I had the great honor of being interviewed by Service Space a while back.) This piece is written by Omid Safi, and I believe it may really resonate with you. It does with me.
How is Your Heart Doing?
by Omid Safi
In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?
What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.
I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.
Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.
Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and fast-paced sports.
I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.
We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.
W. B. Yeats once wrote, "It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on a battlefield."
How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?
I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye […] and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. […]
How is the state of your heart today?
Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”
Last Saturday night, I sat around a big table loaded with delicious food. There were thirty of us or more, sitting around that table, in the middle of the Center for Happiness' Ballroom.
The table and room had been set up and decorated in about 30 minutes, by just a few of us, and as people arrived, their dishes were placed in the middle of the table. Desserts went on the dessert table, to the side.
As more people arrived, we made extra room and let the space hold all of us.
In a way, it looked like a regular potluck, with an emphasis on wanting to eat family style, passing the dishes to one another - as opposed to a buffet.
Yet looking a little closer, and listening to the energy of the conversation, it was not quite a regular potluck.
It was a Gratitude Potluck. Our fourth one.
Initially designed to celebrate the first year of our online "90-day" Gratitude Group, these potlucks
are about tapping into - and possibly sharing - what is going right in our lives.
And whereas one might think that this would require a whole lot of planning and organized activities, my experience is that, really, it does not.
How does it work? Very simply.
We just "set up the container" (in this case a beautiful yellow room with a super long table and some small vases of flowers), Declare our Essences (Fun, Community and Gratitude), set a table, and then invite our friends and their friends to show up and bask in the joy.
To amp up the focus, we had some small Sprinkling cards on each plate, reminding everyone that They Mattered, Thanking Them for Them and that They Rocked.
A few minutes before eating, we all took three collective breaths and spent a few private minutes, eyes closed, to think about whom and what we were thankful for.
Then we ate and laughed.
Before dessert, we took turns standing at the end of the table, sharing one or two things for which we were grateful - then dropping a big red pebble in a vase of water to energize it. At that point, and amidst more laughter, I saw a few tears, too.
That's all. Well, that and great food.
And it was magical. Sweet, easy, no big deal and yet a big deal.
The reason I am sharing this with you is that I want to invite you to create a Gratitude Potluck in your community.
Really, I do. Maybe even make it a yearly thing. At a time when a whole lot of focus is spent on "what went terribly wrong," I invite you to be the host of "what went so very right." I invite you to gather people around that attention, that intention. I invite you to create, gather and celebrate a tribe of people whose vibration will carry you - and each other - through the cycles of life.
It is simple. So simple.
I believe you will find that it will have been immensely worth your time.
I also believe that many Gratitude Potlucks across the country, independent of political, religious or even hobby affiliation can create a powerful, important, and necessary web. Now more than ever.
If you want a little help in getting started, email me and I will send you my Create a Gratitude Potluck Checklist.
Wishing you a lovely Monday!
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
"Every time I read your blog I am so profoundly happy I did. The truth you speak is just mindboggling. The real, real voice you have. It makes me almost crazy how much I love your words and your way of telling stories that cut to the quick- and I never have the words to really say how much this all means to me.
You put out so many heartfelt blog pieces that touch my heart and move me down the right path at the right time. Pure beautiful magic girlie. I love you for this.
Thank you for digging in there and finding the gems of wisdom and then just sharing them out as if there's an endless supply ... which with you, there is."
"Thank you for sharing your wonderful, heartbreaking, exhilarating experience with the world."
"Thank You Laura for sharing, for teaching and spreading loving kindness. "
"I think I love you. You bring good things into my life, or remind me of things I love and know, but have let go of."
"Laura, you are so good for me. I laugh and sniffle and get the shivers when I read your essays. Thanks so much for letting all your wonderfulness run around loose."
"Heart-achingly beautiful, your words and how you reveal your truth."
"Thank you so much for who you are and what you share with the world. Your mere being transforms lives as it has transformed mine. This particular post did to my heart what water does to parched soil."
"Thank you for your gentle words that are packed full of wisdom. I have been struggling with the concept of what words can do to another person when they are negative words. Your words are the flip side of our word power, and shows how delightfully powerful kind words can be. Thank you."
"Once again Laura Lavigne takes you on an adventure of the heart. She has a way of pulling you right in the car with her. Asking you to consider changing a fear to taking thoughtful action. Whether she's teaching a class, leading a retreat or heading for a happiness sprinkling, Laura will invite you to shed old ways of thinking and be completely authentic. Join in!"
"Essentially pure love.
I enjoy how Laura is kind to herself and to us other humans who dance in and out of each other's lives. "
"Don't miss a post!
You can count on Laura for warmth, humor, charm, and a lift to your day and your heart. She inspires me to be braver than I am, and to love the world out loud. She's a gem, and a generous one at that!"
I write because this is the way I am able to taste life more deeply.