Learning how to do gentle towards yourself can be, for you, the key to loving living life. At least, that's what doing gentle did to me, Helena Roth, once I understood that it was actually an option.
Imagine having turned 30+ before ever realizing it's possible to be gentle with myself. From that moment in time, I've re-learned how to be in the world - both inside and outside of myself. Here I will be sharing the tools and tricks I've picked up along the way, hoping it will help you transform from a victim of the epidemic of harshness into a proud practitioner of doing gentle.
All is not going to plan.
The wintering will continue, and season four of Meandering Conversations are put on hold. For how long, no one knows. There might be the sporadic pod episode in this feed though, perhaps me reading a few blog posts, the occasional solitary reflection or perhaps a random meandering conversation or two. Who knows.
In the meantime, if you need a dose of tankespjärn now and again, check out the backlog (in your pod feed or on YouTube), there’s plenty to revisit.
And I invite you to join me for another type of meandering conversation, in any or all of the eleven Doing Gentle With An Edge salons I will be hosting over on interintellect. All details can be found here →
The urge to write is bubbling more and more within me, and if you want to keep tabs on that, sign up for news on https://tankespjarn.com. There you can also reach out to me for a CoachTalk, which in many ways is like personal meandering conversation.
Hope to see you around – somewhere, somehow!
20. Own your reactions
First published on my blog on August 18, 2020. Read the post here →
I am no longer willing to let myself be used as the scapegoat. I am no longer willing to step up when others claim that my words, my deeds, my actions, are what angers them, what upsets them or what scares them. Because in truth, it is their reaction to my words, my deeds, my actions, that angers, upsets and scares them.
This never means I get to act like a brute, avoiding responsibility for my words, deeds and actions. That’s on me.
What’s on you, is to do the same. To own your reactions.
You might well be angered or upset, even scared. But own it.
Don’t go here:
”You make me angry, upset, scared.”
”Your words, deeds, actions, make me angry, upset, scared.”
Rather, try to find something like this place within:
”I felt angered, upset, scared by what happened within me when I came upon your words, deeds, actions.”
When both of us own our reactions, progress is possible. Connection, understanding and respect is to be had.
And I know, I cannot make you choose this. And it’s not for me to tell you what to do, or not do.
What I can do though, are two things:
I can strive to live up to this ideal, myself.
And I can be very clear with what is OK for me. To not swallow it, to not take it, should you happen to put your shit on me.
And that latter one, is where I have an opportunity to improve. To learn how to live it, to actually be someone who doesn’t take others’ shit. The outcome of that might well be that I also choose to not be with you, simply because I get to choose my company. And as peer pressure is very real and we become like those closest to us, I honor me by being very specific and particular in choosing whom I spend time with. Because that choice will impact me, making me be more –or less– of the person I want to be in the world.
And there’s nothing I want more than to surround myself with people who see and encourage the potential harbored within me, who positively challenge me to –always and already– be and become the better me.
19. Maybe violence isn't all that bad
First published on my blog on March 31, 2022. Read the post here →
Maybe violence isn’t all that bad?!
The first time I entertained that statement/question I shocked myself.
A long time ago (August of 2013) I wrote a piece entitled Violence is never the answer and I absolutely, one-hundred-percent believed it to be True. Capital T Truth. But now… No. I no longer think it is.
I am greatly influenced by Daniel Quinn and My Ishmael, where he speaks at length to this. I remember picking apples from my mother’s apple trees in the fall while listening to the audiobook. I’ve read the physical book before. I’ve listened to the audiobook before. But this time, happily picking apple after apple, I immediately ‘rewound the tape’ and re-listened to the chapter where violence is discussed in such a way that I all of a sudden saw beyond the violence, saw the reason for it, or at least a possible reason for it, in way’s I’d never before understood it.
As I worked on the transcript of my fifth conversation with Reddy, episode 49 on Tankespjärn with Helena Roth, where we spend much of the time playing (yes. Absurd as it might seem, play is the best descriptor, I think.) with violence, I heard myself say Maybe violence isn’t all that bad?!, knowing that if anyone can stomach me saying that, it’s Reddy. Which he did like a champ.
So, what about violence might not be all bad?
Well… Look at other species, and you will see more in-species fighting, and less between-species fighting. (Note, I write fighting, and not killing. Most predators hunt-to-kill other species, rather than rely on their own species for prey, but they fight with their own kind.) This has been true for humans too, for most of human life on earth. The in-species fighting has served the purpose of keeping other groups/tribes on their toes, making sure they don’t relax. (Which, incidentally, also is a way to keep the other’s as well as ourselves fit because who knows when they might return the favor?!). The concept of drawing first blood has sufficed, to a large extent, and not until the culture of Modern Man did we start to annihilate the others if they did not assimilate into our culture.
No longer settling for you are free to do what you do, as long as we are free to do what we do, the culture of Modern Man stated that you may no longer remain separate from us, rooted in your own culture and behaviours. You have to do what and how we do. Nothing else is acceptable.
The mash-up of this innate (?) trait–violence as a part of the way of nature–twisted, thwarted and manipulated by the culture of Modern Man, combined with technological advances, where you no longer have to be within arms reach to kill another person–has brought us to where we are today: A place where it’s easy, almost a given, to dehumanize the other, and where the effect of violence-at-a-distance wreaks havoc way beyond the concept of first blood.
Maybe violence isn’t all that bad?!
But the violence I speak to is not the violence of today, where brutal, lethal force is applied at a distance, dehumanizing perpetrator and victim both. It’s as if we’ve turned up the volume too high on violence and need to turn it down again, to recalibrate violence to a level where it isn’t all that bad, again. Or?
18. It all impacts you
First published on my blog on January 23, 2021. Read the post here →
The bottom line: Use discernment when choosing the company you keep, in all manners possible. Be it friends, books, newsfeeds or food, drink and exercise. And. So. On. It a l l impacts you, either short-, mid- or long-term.
The importance of the people I choose to spend time with, the books I choose to read, the podcasts I choose to listen to, the programs I choose to watch are as vital aspects of not simply sustaining me in all my glory, mind, body and soul alike, but to be regenerative, as the food I choose to eat, the drinks I choose to drink, the amount of movement and sleep I gift myself with.
Some of these things have an immediate effect, impacting me right off. Blood sugar levels, hydration, being moved to dance to a favorite tune or cry tears of empathy for the fate of a character in a TV-show. Knowing myself, being able to discern between what I truly need, what I want, what I crave, matters greatly, not taking all whims of mine as Truth to be adhered to, letting some slip by the roadside on account of not being in service, to me or those around me, near and far alike.
Others are more subtle, influencing me and the direction my life takes, the way my personal expansion behaves, in ways that might not be recognized in the moment. Like the slow turn of an ocean-steamer, taking miles upon miles to be effected, but in the long run causing the steamer to end up in a totally different place than if it hadn’t turned.
Like seeds sown. With a bit of water, sunshine and nourishment, of just the right kind, seeds will sprout and new growth will appear. Having a fondness for wild gardens, not too trimmed and well-kept, you might think I’d welcome any seed sprouting, any growth appearing, but alas. I do not. Some discernment exists even within my love for wild gardens.
I love trees, and yet, the oak saplings that are showing up at the edge of my garden will not be allowed to grow too big, because a fully grown oak tree in my small garden would totally dwarf everything else. It’s simply not appropriate h e r e however much I love and am fascinated by fully-grown oak trees in places where their presence is nothing but awe-inspiring.
So when choosing my company, in all manners of mind, body and soul, awareness and discernment are vital, or else something that does not serve me might sprout, grow and in time oust other plants, better suited in the wild garden that is me.
17. It came from me
First published on my blog on November 25, 2021. Read the post here →
Riffing about an insight from the aftermath of my first divorce, where I had gotten the insight that whatever it was, it would not be accepted by my X, on the grounds of it coming from me.
It wasn’t what I said.
It wasn’t how I said it.
It was that I said it.
Or rather… it was that I said it.
When that was the case, he shut down.
Couldn’t, or wouldn’t, listen.
That was a hard lesson to learn for me.
To be so filled with ideas, feeling as if I had the fix for whatever the problem was, all the while realizing that there was nothing, bar telepathy, that I could use to share them.
It took me a few more years to internalize this in a way that I feel is beneficial and benevolent, because to start with this just gave rise to frustration and resentment. A malevolence, eating away at me, as well as towards my X.
In time though, I have come to be comfortable, at least now and again, with holding my tongue. Actually not experiencing the dire urge to blurt out whatever thought pops into my head, but to sit with it. Sometimes choosing to share. Sometimes content with keeping it on the inside, engaging in an inner dialogue with myself.
The snippet is taken from episode 30 The everyday creativity of music, coaching and meandering of Tankespjärn with Helena Roth, a podcast of meandering conversations, this one tfrom season two, with Andy Mort.
16. A dip in the sea
First published on my blog on January 4, 2019. Read the post here →
Headed for town, but before I took off on my bike, I packed a towel. Just in case. After recording a pod and having lunch with and at Caspian’s I decided: Yes. Today is the day for the first dip in the sea of the year.
So I rode to the pier farthest from town, the one designated for skinny dipping. Parked my bike, took a picture and started to undress. Gloves, beanie, winter coat. Shoes, jeans, long johns, woolen socks. Woolen sweater, long tee, and my woolen undershirt. Off it goes. All of it.
As I pull my sweater over my head, a door to a somewhat surreal universe cracks open.
Grabbed my towel and headed out to the pier.
Sunny, windy, 5 degrees tops. Probably the same temperature in the water.
Tie my towel to the pier to stop it from blowing away.
Slippery staircase, hold on tight.
And in I go.
Hesitate… and I would never do it.
So I just take one step after the other, until I am up to my neck in the ocean.
Cold. Yes. Shockingly cold.
Fully manifest in that other universe. The am-I-really-doing-this-and-can-this-really-be-happening-universe.
Hyperventilate while two waves crash into me, then get out. One step after the other, until I am up on the pier again.
In the other universe, I get out, cold and wet… and all of a sudden, my skin starts tingling. The chill vanishes, the wind disappears, time seems to stop, and I am totally present to the beauty of it all.
And last, but not least, to myself. For doing it.
Grab my towel and rub off, while taking my time walking to the bike and my clothes.
Slowly emerging from the alternate universe, I dress, happy, pleased, not feeling any cold whatsoever.
My soul sings!
I did it.
First dip in the ocean this year, and I know this dip will be followed by many others.
Who would have known that taking a (cold) dip in the sea would let me travel to another universe?
Who would have known a dip in the sea would fill me with this most wondrous feeling?
How will you know, if you would experience something like it unless you give it a shot?
Helena has done a great job
Many people are extremely hard on themselves. This podcast is about being gentle. The numbered podcast episodes give you something to think about, and the following episode covers an application of the concept. Very actionable and very helpful. To get the most out of it, be sure to listen to them in sequential order from oldest to newest.