In this video, Trui Snyman reminds us that carving out a little solitude in a fast-paced world can make a world of difference to our health and wellbeing. She encourages us to be more gentle, not only with others, but with ourselves too.
What feelings/thoughts/questions surface for you in viewing Trui’s story?
How does Trui’s story move you?
Are you too busy going nowhere and feeling like you’re getting there?
What brings out your TENDERNESS?
Is being a Caring Catalyst a weakness?
Are some of the things that popped through my mind when I was watching this. . .
F U N N Y
When I read the video transcript, I had a different feeling. . .
Y O U
“I read somewhere that worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. It keeps you busy but it gets you nowhere.
If you asked me six years ago if I was happy or if I wanted to see tomorrow or if I wanted to see next year I would have said, no. That’s a really terrible place to be. I didn’t even smile. Because life was too busy, that’s why.
We race so quickly through life that we’re blind to it, we’re deaf to it, we’re numb to it. We’ve become desensitized because we are in too much of a hurry. Did I notice the phases of the moon? Did I notice whether it was winter, summer, autumn, or spring? There was no time for that.
Should we not rather look at life through the eyes of a child? There is something new to discover, every day. What feeds your soul? If small things don’t feed your soul, what will?
People are hard, hard, hard. People are hard on each other, people are hard on themselves. Tenderness… We could all do with more tenderness. If you feel you need ten minutes to yourself just to sit and relax, why not. We have the right to invest in ourselves. Half an hour, just half an hour each day. Maybe you use that half hour to walk outside. Whether you shut yourself in your bedroom and read a book or you lie and soak in an herbal bath, that time is just for you. Forget the emails, forget the telephone.
My quality of life and my health have improved, just by taking things a little more slowly. Do yourself a favor and be a little more gentle with yourself. So yes, life is actually beautiful. But I’m still learning. Starting to learn…to be more gentle with myself.”
OR DO I. . .
I really like to talk
I use my mouth for a living
and the least of it
is what I do on
SUNDAY MORNINGS. . .
I talk to dozen of people every day
in a hospice setting
in talking with people about
CELEBRATIONS OF LIFE
for their loved ones
who’d like to get married
and want me to be their officiant
to my friends
to my family
to just about everyone I pass
in a store
or at the gas station. . .
if I could only be paid by the
(and I’m not even talking about the texting and emailing)
I like talking
LISTENING THING. . .
I pride myself on my
but I think it’s always worth
c h e c k i n g
DO THAT A LOT
especially when I’m feeling a little
How to Do It
Time Required: At least 10 minutes. Try to make time for this practice at least once per week.
Find a quiet place where you can talk with a conversation partner without interruption or distraction. Invite him or her to share what’s on his or her mind. As he or she does so, try to follow the steps below. You don’t need to cover every step, but the more you do cover, the more effective this practice is likely to be.
P a r a p h r a s e
Once the other person has finished expressing a thought, paraphrase what he or she said to make sure you understand and to show that you are paying attention. Helpful ways to paraphrase include “What I hear you saying is…,” “It sounds like…,” and “If I understand you right….”
When appropriate, ask questions to encourage the other person to elaborate on his or her thoughts and feelings. Avoid jumping to conclusions about what the other person means. Instead, ask questions to clarify his or her meaning, such as, “When you say_____, do you mean_____?”
If the other person voices negative feelings, strive to validate these feelings rather than questioning or defending against them. For example, if the speaker expresses frustration, try to consider why he or she feels that way, regardless of whether you think that feeling is justified or whether you would feel that way yourself were you in his or her position. You might respond, “I can sense that you’re feeling frustrated,” and even “I can understand how that situation could cause frustration.”
Use engaged body language
Show that you are engaged and interested by making eye contact, nodding, facing the other person, and maintaining an open and relaxed body posture. Avoid attending to distractions in your environment or checking your phone. Be mindful of your facial expressions: Avoid expressions that might communicate disapproval or disgust.
Your goal is to understand the other person’s perspective and accept it for what it is, even if you disagree with it. Try not to interrupt with counter-arguments or mentally prepare a rebuttal while the other person is speaking.
Avoid giving advice
Problem-solving is likely to be more effective after both conversation partners understand one another’s perspective and feel heard. Moving too quickly into advice-giving can be counterproductive.
After the other person has had a chance to speak and you have engaged in the active listening steps above, ask if it’s okay for you to share your perspective. When sharing your perspective, express yourself as clearly as possible using “I” statements (e.g., “I feel overwhelmed when you don’t help out around the house”). It may also be helpful, when relevant, to express empathy for the other person’s perspective (e.g., “I know you’ve been very busy lately and don’t mean to leave me hanging…”).
Why You Should Try It
Often we’ll listen to a conversation partner without really hearing him or her. In the process, we miss opportunities to connect with that person—and even risk making him or her feel neglected, disrespected, and resentful.
This exercise helps you express active interest in what the other person has to say and make him or her feel heard—a way to foster empathy and connection. This technique is especially well-suited for difficult conversations (such as arguments with a spouse) and for expressing support. Research suggests that using this technique can help others feel more understood and improve relationship satisfaction.
Why It Works
Active listening helps listeners better understand others’ perspectives and helps speakers feel more understood and less threatened. This technique can prevent miscommunication and spare hurt feelings on both sides. By improving communication and preventing arguments from escalating, active listening can make relationships more enduring and satisfying. Practicing active listening with someone close to you can also help you listen better when interacting with other people in your life, such as students, co-workers, or roommates.
Evidence That It Works
Weger, H., Castle Bell, G., Minei, E. M., & Robinson, M. C. (2014). The relative effectiveness of active listening in initial interactions. International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 13-31.
Participants had brief conversations (about their biggest disappointment with their university) with someone trained to engage in active listening, someone who gave them advice, or someone who gave simple acknowledgments of their point of view. Participants who received active listening reported feeling more understood at the end of the conversation.
Instructions adapted from: Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Blumberg, S.L. (1994). Fighting for your marriage. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Active Listening involves approaching a conversation with a genuine desire to understand the other person’s feelings and perspective, without judgment or defensiveness. When you engage in Active Listening, you tune into what your conversation partner is communicating with their words and body language. How well do you feel and understand what others are feeling? Take the Empathy quiz (at Greater Good in Action) to find out.
take a few moments to
no one will be judging you
no one will share your answers
no one will make you feel embarrassed
B U T
you just may find
that what I know
what I know I know
what I’d bet my life that I know
I don’t always ACT like I know at all
W H I C H
is why I like to do a check up
from the EARS UP
I’d like to know that when I tell you,
“YEAH, I HEAR YA”
I really do
and I’m inviting you as
A CARING CATALYST
to do the same. . .
Do you hear me?
what I QUESTION
A L L
W A Y S
QUESTIONING OF ALL
is when I
NOT AT ALL
. . .GET IT?
It’s the most precarious
of all time:
razor thin line
(which we know kills the cat)
wanting to truly
THE CURE. . .
like a little kid
asking for an ice cream cone
on a hot Summer’s Day
you’re not going to get
A S k I n G
until you get the
p r o v e r b i a l
“BECAUSE I SAID SO”
and then risk
the ice-cream cone
the late dinner
an early bedtime
by starting all over again
with a not-not-so-whimpered:
W H Y. . .
Never give up the
Q U E S T I O N I N G
. . .sometimes the greatest way to remove
is the be
the cause of it
. . .OR THE CHIEF REMOVAL OF IT
A SIMPLE QUESTION :
JUST HOW DO YOU USUALLY READ A SITUATION. . .
FROM THE TOP
D O W N
FROM THE DOWN
s i m p l e
A N S W E R. . .
SOUNDS LIKE GREEK TO ME, Right?
The World can humble you
in such a way
that what you know
what you know that you know
what you bet your life that you know
YOU DON’T KNOW AT ALL
. . .kind of sums up
L I F E
and most definitely
2 0 2 0. . .
you could sum up this tumultuous year
or just these past topsy-turvy
2 3 1 days
COVID19, hurricane, civil unrest, wildfires, politically tense
e x p e r i e n c e s
in one word
what would it be:
or the Greek word:
A C E D I A
The Lost Greek Word That Explains Our Pandemic Emotions
just may show much more. . .
The boredom, fear, uncertainty, and exhaustion we feel has a name. . .
and hopefully an even deeper
M E A N I N G
I first heard about this word when I read an article by Jonathan L Lecher from THE CONVERSATION. Literally, when we’re in the middle of yet another wave of Covid19 and having some communities in rebooted lockdown conditions and movement restricted everywhere else, no one is posting pictures of their sourdough. Zoom cocktail parties have lost their novelty; Netflix can only release so many new series. The news seems worse every day, yet we compulsively scroll through it.
We get distracted by social media, yet have a pile of books unread. We keep meaning to go outside but somehow never find the time. We’re bored, listless, afraid, and uncertain.
What is this feeling?
John Cassian, a monk and theologian, wrote in the early 5th century about an ancient Greek emotion called acedia. A mind “seized” by this emotion is “horrified at where he is, disgusted with his room. . . . It does not allow him to stay still in his cell or to devote any effort to reading.” He feels:
such bodily listlessness and yawning hunger as though he were worn by a long journey or a prolonged fast. . . . Next he glances about and sighs that no one is coming to see him. Constantly in and out of his cell, he looks at the sun as if it were too slow in setting.
This sounds eerily familiar. Yet, the name that so aptly describes our current state was lost to time and translation.
Etymologically, acedia joins the negative prefix a- to the Greek noun kēdos, which means “care, concern, or grief.” It sounds like apathy, but Cassian’s description shows that acedia is much more daunting and complex than that.
Cassian and other early Christians called acedia “the noonday demon,” and sometimes described it as a “train of thought.” But they did not think it affected city dwellers or even monks in communities.
Rather, acedia arose directly out the spatial and social constrictions that a solitary monastic life necessitates. These conditions generate a strange combination of listlessness, undirected anxiety, and inability to concentrate. Together these make up the paradoxical emotion of acedia.
Evagrius of Pontus included acedia among the eight trains of thought that needed to be overcome by devout Christians. Among these, acedia was considered the most insidious. It attacked only after monks had conquered the sins of gluttony, fornication, avarice, sadness, anger, vainglory, and pride.
Cassian, a student of Evagrius, translated the list of sins into Latin. A later 6th century Latin edit gave us the seven deadly sins. In this list, acedia was subsumed into “sloth,” a word we now associate with laziness.
Acedia appears throughout monastic and other literature of the Middle Ages. It was a key part of the emotional vocabulary of the Byzantine Empire, and can be found in all sorts of lists of “passions” (or emotions) in medical literature and lexicons, as well as theological treatises and sermons.
It first appeared in English in print in 1607 to describe a state of spiritual listlessness. But it’s barely used today.
Making like monks
As clinical psychology has reclassified emotions and mental states, terms like “melancholy” can sound archaic and moralizing.
Emotional expressions, norms, and scripts change over time and vary between cultures. They mark out constellations of bodily sensations, patterns of thought, and perceived social causes or effects.
Since these constellations are culturally or socially specific, as societies change, so do the emotions in their repertoire. With the decline of theological moralizing, not to mention monastic influence, acedia has largely disappeared from secular vocabularies.
Social distancing limits physical contact. Lockdown constricts physical space and movement. Working from home or having lost work entirely both upend routines and habits. In these conditions, perhaps it’s time to bring back the term.
More than a label
Reviving the language of acedia is important to our experience in two ways.
First, it distinguishes the complex of emotions brought on by enforced isolation, constant uncertainty, and the barrage of bad news from clinical terms like “depression” or “anxiety.”
Saying, “I’m feeling acedia” could legitimize feelings of listlessness and anxiety as valid emotions in our current context without inducing guilt that others have things worse.
Second, and more importantly, the feelings associated with physical isolation are exacerbated by emotional isolation—that terrible sense that this thing I feel is mine alone. When an experience can be named, it can be communicated and even shared.
Learning to express new or previously unrecognized constellations of feelings, sensations, and thoughts builds an emotional repertoire, which assists in emotional regulation. Naming and expressing experiences allows us to claim some agency in dealing with them.
As we, like Cassian’s desert monks, struggle through our own “long, dark teatime of the soul,” we can name this experience, which is now part of our emotional repertoire.
N O W
the biggest question of all. . .
DOES NAMING WHAT HAS BEEN NAMELESS, MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
WHO WOULD EVER IMAGINE
that the cure
for a Word
you most likely never heard of
3 minutes ago
Y O U
y e s:
Have you ever lost your heart. . . ?
Loaded question, huh?
What makes it such a touch question
is just trying to figure out
is that a
L I T E R A L Question. . .
Ohhhhhhhh how you should know by
and all nearly some 800 Blog Posts later
that I’m a Sucker for the Sap Movies
and this one,
is maybe the sappiest of all
and it’s leaked a glue over me
that I can’t wash away
(and most likely don’t want to, anyway)
Nothing seems to go right for young Kate, a frustrated Londoner who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. But things soon take a turn for the better when she meets Tom — a handsome charmer who seems too good to be true. As the city transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, Tom and Kate’s growing attraction turns into the best gift of all — a Yuletide romance. . .
it made me think
IT MADE ME FEEL
the times I’ve lost my
h e a r t
Uhhhhhhh not so much
so much as
uh-ohh. . .
dare I write:
metaphysically. . .
and I guess I’m inviting you
you’ve actually lost your heart. . . ?
Can I help answer?
Are you the same you were
What changed from the time you were an infant
to the time you became a toddler
to the time you became a preschooler
to the time you were in elementary school
to the time you were in junior high
to the time you were graduating high school
to the times of different jobs
to the the times of continuing education
to the times of getting married
to the times of having children
N O W
. . .just how many,
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU LOST YOUR HEART
and maybe better still. . .
Here’s to all of the times to come
and all the Seasons
the prompting of the question:
WHO AM I?
(MAY THE ANSWER CONTINUALLY BE DIFFERENT
as it has countless times before)
Just who do you think you are?
It’s a question that was usually asked in anger, almost disbelief when I did something wrong as a kid.
Maybe I talked back to my parents (BIG MISTAKE)!
Maybe I talked back to my teachers (BIG MISTAKE–they were friends with my parents)!
Maybe I threw bubble gum out of the balcony at Church and it hit Peggy Young in the back of the head and stuck in her long hair (before they knew how to take it out with Peanut Butter) and she had to get a hair cut and Mr. Young called the house on a Sunday afternoon that quickly became BLACK SUNDAY before there ever was a Black Sunday.
Maybe it’a been asked of you?
Maybe it needs to be!