Our first need: get quiet inside

Luke chilling out

The other day Jack and I went to Saratoga (to get a bagel at Uncommon Grounds and then on to Mrs. London’s for dessert!). While I was waiting for Jack, I checked my iPhone and saw that someone had posted a disturbing story on my website. I tried to remove it but because I wasn’t at my home computer, I couldn’t log on to change things, or at least I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I started getting physically hot and felt really irritated. By the time Jack got to the table with our bagels and soup, and I had told him what happened, I wasn’t even hungry anymore.

I didn’t want to rush home, but I felt like I needed to do something IMMEDIATELY; my energy was spinning, and a voice was saying, “This is really bad. What if people think that you advocate things like this?” My entire self went into crisis mode. It was suddenly not just something that happened that I didn’t like, to my ego it was a life and death situation. It is frightening how fast negative emotions can escalate when we don’t catch them.

What happened next was so lovely. Jack said, “I have an idea. What would you tell a client if they were in your shoes right now?” It was the perfect question. I started to imagine being on the other side of the drama/trauma story, and I could feel this calm, centered, totally OK version of me talking to myself. I also imagined putting a beautiful light around the situation and protecting all from harm, (and I didn’t add to the harm by reacting with alarm and anger).

I had never dealt with anything like this, and my initial reaction was fear. I have felt this way before when things have gone wrong with my website or computer though. The internet and computer technology are things that I am only a little bit comfortable with.  I really have no idea how they work. I even get “kicked off” my own blog every now and then and have to re-sign up!  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the lack of control, and in the past I might have let that stop me from going further, but this is not the way that I choose to live now. I’ve learned, mostly the hard way, that when I quit things because I am frustrated or afraid, I just carry that energy with me and I make more of a mess for myself in the end.

What I do know, and what I continue to practice, is that no matter what is presented to me, my first priority is to center myself and get into a place of inner quiet before I act.  The more that I practice this, the easier it becomes. I did get to this place the other day, we had a wonderful rest of the outing, and by the time I got home, I had almost forgotten about the little situation. I took care of it in a state of peace.

Hoping that everyone has a calm (inside) and peaceful (inside) weekend!

We learned that if we were seriously disturbed, our first need was to quiet that disturbance, regardless of who or what we thought caused it.
c. 1952 AAWS, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 47

35 thoughts on “Our first need: get quiet inside

  1. You handled this situation perfectly and professionally. I am just sorry it happened to you. But you turned it around and gave us another example of how to have grace under pressure.

  2. Mary, thank you for leaving us or me with this thought for the week-end. I’ve just now had a situation occur in which I felt just as you did…panic…fear but for different reasons, I am threatened by a situation that will need sorting out but from a more calm and centred place. And I have returned home not long ago from my once a month polarity therapy with my massage therapist in which my body’s energy is helped to rebalance itself. I’ve just undone all the good of that appt. now.

    Your website is you; it reflects you and what is written and accepted on the site, reflects on you. I can understand your need to control what goes on and what doesn’t.

    How timely your message is for me at this moment.
    SandyP, in Canada

  3. First, Mary, I think I likely reflect the thoughts of most of our WFF community when I say that I trust you…implicitly. I know your intent…always. And I know that if someone chose to write something inappropriate, that you would have it down just as soon as you could. So, if it ever happens again, which is always a risk with the internet, I would ask that you securely know, “my flock trusts me and knows that I am working on this”. And you would be right! I’m learning this from a wonderful teacher!

    Center myself. Quiet the disturbance, act in a state of peace. I want this to come so naturally to me…so I will keep practicing. I loved Annie R’s bumper sticker of the other day “Shift Happens”! If I do what you suggest, I know, shift will happen. It already has! Much love…

    • Thank you Kathye…Jack said those very words to me, and I find the thought so soothing and loving.

  4. Something that helps me in these moments is to quickly ask myself, “Do I want to disturb my peace for this?” And then I remember how good it feels to be balanced in peace & good will. I take a breath or two. Yes.

  5. Marilyn Ritter “grace under pressure” … yes, this is
    such a great example for everyone…

    Mary, I appreciate your honesty and courage, you and
    Jack are a great team….you both deserve a big hug….

    thanks to you … I’ve been encouraged to look inside and
    outside with new and re-focused eyes…it’s so nice to
    welcome change/challenge as a normal occurrence and
    not freak out (as often) …now that’s growth and something
    to be proud of… thank you… have a nice weekend….

  6. You and Jack; what a complimentary team!
    From panic to peace; what a wonderful lesson.
    I hope you splurged big time on the dessert!!!!!

    (And for their sake, I hope the person with the disturbing thoughts opens their heart to hearing the message that keeps this community strong and safe and loving.)

  7. Flock Unite!! Our Feathers have been Ruffled! !Mary!, dear Mary!, never ever feel that you have to rush back from a special time out (or even an ordinary appointment!) to a silly internet scruffle of feathers, or even to edit one person’s comment that may have been – foul, rude, unsettling, – You laid the foundation for this lovely safe haven into being a year ago, and just recently we all celebrated one year together. A week ago you mentioned that you bought a wise owl mug on a whim, as a way to celebrate the one year anniversary. On the same day, I googled ‘owl mugs’ myself, to buy one to commemorate this special year, where I feel I have gained a deep connection to many wonderful souls. It came in the mail yesterday, incredibly packaged, actually gift wrapped, too, and sent in priority mail (which according to the label cost the company $11.74, (and I had only opted for $4.99 USPS) But lo and behold, this lovely mug, saucer, tea infuser with a lid, was broken! The mug in two pieces. I called the 877 number, expecting to be on hold forever, but the loveliest lady came on the phone, and her name was the same as the Handwritten Card that accompanied the shipment. Elena. . She said she would send immediately! a replacement, though how could she even know I was telling her the truth? I was so taken by her handwritten note in a day of computer statements, – I said this to her and she told me that she truly appreciates her customers. Wow! Can’t wait to sip from this lovely mug and think of all the new friends I have made, thanks to you Mary, this past year and hopefully many more to come! Here is the picture of the mug I found:
    http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Sadek-Coffee-Great-Horned/dp/B005FGR7A0/ref=pd_sim_sbs_misc_4

  8. I forgot to include what I looked up on the word disturbance:

    The interruption of a settled and peaceful condition.
    A breakdown of peaceful and law-abiding behavior

    So, who and what do we allow to break into our settled and peaceful condition, one that I think we are trying so hard to cultivate here in unity on White Feather Farm?

  9. Dear Mary, Ahhhh. The internet. It’s a challenging medium. Thank you for deciding to stay centered and sharing with us what that takes. Your pure-of-heart actions are an inspiration and a superb example of love, trust and courage.

  10. Mary, your words are very timely for me. Been a crazy week and the end of my day I was feeling frustrated, angry, hurt, etc. I was feeling like I couldn’t calm down the thoughts and feelings racing through me. I tried a few things to try to relax…cooking supper for my husband and me….watching a romantic comedy and fell asleep on the couch for a bit. After waking up at 10:30Pm went to bed only to toss and turn for an hour. Reading your blog, is helping me to focus on my inner self. Feeling a little better but realize as you said it takes practice. Hopefully I will be sleeping well soon. Thank you.

  11. Is it just me, or does anyone else want to know what was deleted? LOL You need a follow up piece on dealing with the frustrations of being teased with ‘the good stuff’ and never getting the whole thing.

    I’m having fun with you, Mary. You can delete this is you like.

    By the way, I have my settings set to approve each comment (at least initially), though you have far more comments than I and I can see that would be a time consuming thing for you.

  12. A lot of people have moderated comment blogs. That’s always an option, because there is always some kind of troll that visits. I haven’t been on WFF for a while, so I didn’t see the comment. I think as a regular reader (I’m sure others feel the same) we aren’t judging you based on what a troll would post. As far as anyone can be known in cyberspace, we know your spirit. Your spirit is gentle.

    I find that technology is mostly daunting with slow dial-up, connection problems. Ever since Lyme took hold, understanding gadgets is difficult. Like a new PC, or a new cell phone. All yesterday Yahoo mail was impossible to use.

  13. Mary – I moderate the comments on my blog because sadly, things like this happen once in a while. I’m so glad that you found a way to continue with your outing with Jack and as you can see, we all agree that we would never be upset if we ran across an inappropriate comment. We’d probably all jump all over the person and dress them down for it.
    I was listening to an interview with Pema Chodron this week and she had an interesting way to help people when they get angry. She says – as you would – stop telling the story of what’s making you mad. But if it continues to come up inside you, each time you start to tell it, put pauses in it where you just stop talking or thinking and take three deep breaths. “Keep poking holes in the heat. Punctuate it with space.” I tried it yesterday and it worked amazingly well. Hoping we all have a calm and relaxing weekend!

    • Victoria, that is a wonderful idea! The image of poking holes into the ‘hot air balloon’ of anger or frustration. Pop! It deflates! I’ll keep this one in mind! Thanks!

  14. Dear Mary,

    This post was not showing up on my computer until this morning (Saturday) so I am late adding my encouragement and great thanks to you for your, again, wise councel about handling adversity with calmess, grace and wisdom!

    Love from Fran

  15. i kept sending you prayer-waves on friday since i didn’t get a post. kept wondering if all is well, though i know that some days (though rarely) you don’t post. even as i went to bed on friday evening i sent one last thought to you mary, and i knew that you are well and that all manner of things are well with you.

    so glad that jack was there for you with just the right words. thank you for reminding me again to center myself in the calm. love to you and all as we bond together for good

  16. It’s a beautiful cold (1*) on Sat. morning and checked in after walking Maggie. I’m late to reply but I know this does not matter because we as a community just go with the flow here at WFF! Mary, I echo the sentiments of the others here, we have come to trust who you are and what you are about. I am sorry you had to experience that sense of fear, but once again you used it as a teaching moment for all of us. I so appreciate that. This is one of the very things that draws me here day after day, a sense of peace and loving kindness. Angst is all around us, so it is very nice to have this very zen place to escape to, like a little retreat for the mind! Inner peace and calm to all this weekend!

    • Thank you Terri…I really love the thought that we have created a sense of peace and loving kindness here.

  17. I love the idea of getting quiet inside. I read it today in Jon Katz’s post. And it is something I definitely can use now more than ever. My work has been especially stressful. We’ve been having to deal with people who are just not pleasant. I often feel angry. I don’t want to feel this way. I hate it. What did you tell yourself to get yourself to that quiet place?

    • That is a really good question. I actually started talking to myself as if I was the detached “helper” and said, “Do you want to leave right now and go home?” Then I closed my eyes and felt the answer was No. Then I said to myself, “If you are not going to go home at this moment, can you try to turn your thoughts away from thinking that you need to do something now?” and I felt I could. As I started to feel better, I said a prayer that no harm would come to anyone. The only harm that I could imagine was someone being shocked by the story, but it is my intention that people feel safe, never shocked or alarmed when they come to my blog, so I asked that Spirit take over the situation and that helped relax me too.

  18. So much drama in the world wouldn’t exist (funny, I almost spelled ‘wounded’), if we all did this a little more often!

  19. ah yes, “Be still and know that I am God”

    I pray for protection for my computer and I send a prayer your way too!

    Isn’t it fascinating that there is consciousness in everything, even inanimate objects. We focus so much attention on our computers that sometimes they seem to take on a life of their own! Maybe a little “Hoponopono” (sp?) for the computer “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you” 🙂
    just a thought 🙂

  20. Thanks Kathye for the appreciation of the bumper sticker; I was a little worried it might be too obscure for folks to appreciate, but it’s so true in many contexts! And thanks also to Cath for mentioning “drama”; I think one of the ills in our society is that people are so caught in superficial activities that they create drama just to keep their energy going, because they don’t have anything substantial going on in their minds tand interactions to sustain them. I also believe that we all have a spiritual self that is connected to the sustaining substance of all that is, even if it’s buried in many layers of shallow concerns.

    So with that in mind, whatever the negative post was, I hope that once the person saw it “in print” that they were able to get some perspective on their own thoughts, and if not in that moment, perhaps when they realized their post was deleted. I can’t imagine what someone would need to be aggressive about in this gently encouraging realm of your making, Mary! But perhaps it is just part of their own particular path of waking up.

    Jon Katz wrote something wonderful the other day; someone sent him a “withdrawal of support” comment and he wished them peace and compassion and that they find what they need. That was so well expressed; and in fact is a Buddhist practice, almost a perfect paraphrase of classic lovingkindness practice. May we all find the peace of mind to do that with the folks who push our buttons!

  21. Mary, As always, an excellent post…your experiences, wisdom…helping all of us to see…learn…grow. But why I’m really replying is….I LOVE LUKE! You and Jack must just love that dog to pieces. Lucky Luke…lucky Jack and Mary.
    xoxo Kay

  22. @ Kay: I love him too! He is the sweetest looking dog. He seems so quietly gentle.
    Thank-you Mary for this post. For twenty-two years the 12 and 12 have showed me the way. So nice to see a quote from it.
    Stay warm! Cindy

  23. I am sorry you had that experience. Thanks for the coping words and thanks everyone for your helpful comments. I too am going through a difficult work phase (don’t we all at some point!), the result of being in a managerial position and having to make some hard decisions. Being the receiver of unkind words, unnecessary actions. It is hard not to internalize and take these actions personally, but I am at peace with myself. I actually feel the burden is on them as they are carrying around bad feelings, I am not. Is that selfish ?? I don’t think so.

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