When Pain Becomes a Companion

Recently it became apparent to me that I’d rather hold onto the pain of my past than to allow for something better, and to prevent from feeling lonely. It was something I did not realize that I was doing, thinking nor believing. In some ways, this recognition still seems somewhat surreal to me: who the heck would hold onto their pain? (well, me, that’s who…for starters).

In speaking with my creative life coach, Sam, I told her that I still felt there was something in the way of a fuller expression of my creativity. She had me sit back, take a few deep breaths and then she asked me for what I “saw” (as in visualized) when I went within the part of me that felt something was in the way. Immediately, I saw myself standing on a catwalk over a huge dam. The water was spilling over the top, yet there was still much of the river being held back.

Next, Sam asked me to allow the river to flow more readily in a way that was comfortable for me. The dam wall then began to retract downwards and the water was fully released. In fact, it was released to the point that I sat in a dried up river bed looking up at an empty expanse of “nothing.”

It really bothered me to be in this vacuity. It was not a complete vacuum, yet the space was immense and left me feeling utterly lonely. Almost immediately, I was looking up at the walls of the canyon, wanting to climb out. She asked me to stay and reluctantly, I did so. Eventually, I began to feel at peace in this inner landscape of my own making.

It was later in the week that I saw the pattern emerging that I was also more comfortable holding onto scraps than allowing myself to wait for something better. Again, pain was my companion.

Now when I feel that I’m hoarding my emotions, or my emotional responses to something, I am sitting with it and imagining the whole dam(n) wall retracting into the ground. All of the emotions are then able to move freely. Sometimes I am left at the bottom of the riverbed, other times I grow out of the canyon.

What I’m seeing is that in allowing the emotions to run their course internally I can then see things differently. I no longer need to hold onto my pain to avoid feeling lonely… pain no longer needs to be my companion.

May we each find peace with our pain, allowing it all to flow so that we can each live more fully again.

Namaste

Healing The Roots of Despair

In talking with my mother about the culture of the county in which she was raised, which I only visited as a child, I have come to a new understanding of some of my habits. It frightens me to be publicly recognized for my achievements. Actually, that applies to any recognition, even one-on-one.

Compliments are not something that I find easy to receive. My mind focuses on where things “could have been better.” While this mindset pushes me to do better, it also thwarts my ability to feel at ease or at peace with … just about everything in my life.

Where my mom grew up, those who “had more” or who “looked pretty” were targeted by others … there was a culture of rape and a fair amount of lawlessness. So anyone who “had,” could be expected to have something taken.

The effects of this culture meant people were, out of fear, generous in giving to others and also in putting down their own achievements. It was better to be pitied (at least people would “bless your heart”) than to be seen as having something that someone else wanted.

So here I sit with this awareness. Seeing how complicated it can be to feel comfortable with being at peace or even happy. Softening into the fear, shining the light of my awareness on why happiness has scared me, aside from brief glimpses. Slowly, the fear begins to melt.

Within a metta meditation, I send love back up the ancestral lines, and the community that brought this fear into being. May all beings be at peace.

Namaste

Radiating Love: A Meditation

This is a daily mediation that I started about 3 weeks ago. It has been very helpful in keeping me from becoming overwhelmed when things gets tough. Some of my friends and coworkers have mentioned the differences they’ve seen, even without my telling anyone what I’ve been up to.

At least once a day for 5-10 minutes:

  • Sit upright with feet flat on the floor or ly down on your back.
  • See your body as a vase or vessel, imagine emptying it in the way that feels best for you.
  • Usually I visualize the wind emptying out the vessel, and when it’s been “real bad,” I imagine I “flush” the toilet. Yet without water filling back in.
  • After emptying out as much as possible, then visualize golden light like liquid sunshine filling your body, pouring in from the top of your head.
  • When the vessel is full, begin to see the light radiating outwards from you. Allow the rays to expand as far out from you as you can.
  • Call upon this image of a radiating you as you go through your day, especially when things get tough.

Consistency with this exercise increases its effectiveness. There are some days where you may notice it is easier than others.

Go forth and radiate!

Namaste

Dancing Through Sadness

For several hours, I moped around like Eeyore. Thoughts like a broken record circled my mind, it seemed the sadness and grief that gripped my heart would surely cause it to cease pumping.

The backstory could have been anyone’s. Yet what I did next may seem novel. I played sappy love songs to pull out the pain. Then, I got up from the couch, rather reluctantly, and began to tap one foot. My heart was tired of the weight of the sadness and knew dancing would help. It just took my mind and body a song or two to thaw out.

After 20 minutes of increasing movement, I had gone from toe tapping to boody-shakin’ and arms-in-the-air full body dancing. This is the best part: my heart, mind and body all felt light again and literally after 20 minutes. Now I’m asking myself, “What took you so long to shake and move it?” 😉

I wish I could take credit for the idea behind this, but it is not my own. Several months back during a session with my life coach, Sam, she suggested that I dance every day until our next session. While initially reluctant yet receptive, dancing became a necessity that got me through some rather tough emotional times.

While my regimen has fallen back to several times a week, it was so helpful to keep me more even-keeled when I danced a daily basis…

I strongly encourage everyone to find a favorite tune and shake it out. Happy or sad. Angry or not. It can be immediately mood altering and uplifting. Given time, it becomes life altering.

Namaste

image: google

The 8-Minute Miracle Shift Every Parent and Child Needs

After an emotionally stressful day at work taking care of post-divorce fall-out, and wrestling with some personal demons, I drove directly to my children’s school to pick them up. They were in their after-school programs and being away from them all day, it had been my habit to make a bee-line to each of their classroom doors. Sometimes when I get to my son’s classroom, he refuses to look at me and drags his feet to leave. I believe now that he must be able to see or sense the stress I’m feeling.

Tuesday, my emotions were too mixed up for the bee-line and I knew it. I waited until I could park in the furthest spot to give myself some privacy. It was then that I set an 8-minute meditation timer with the background sound of a “winter fire” (insight Timer App is AMAZING and free!). Once I closed my eyes, I allowed my emotions the oxygen, light and space they needed to “burn out” on their own. In 8 lovely minutes, I went from feeling like pulling some of my hair out to “I’m ready to be a calm, nurturing mom.” Allowing the emotions and thoughts is the key: to force peace, or any other emotion, just pushes them away!

When I walked into my son’s classroom, he played a game of peek-a-boo, to hide the wide smile on his face. He could tell my mood before I crossed the threshold. From kid pick up to bedtime, we had an amazing night! I even took the kids for a quick trip to the grocery store (something I usually avoid as much as possible). Though I did have to give the kids a few behavioral reminders, I didn’t lose my patience once (that’s a feat!).

In reflecting on this shift, I recognized that when I picked up the kids, it had been my habit to want to rush home so I could “relax.” As if rushing leads to relaxing?! Plus, when did the relaxation ever really come before the kids were in bed?! I’m seeing where this just made the kids, particularly my son, edgy (well, and me, too). So now, I’m committing to NOT rushing to relax, NOR putting it off until later. Why not now? Really!

So today I relaxed first and took a lot of pressure off of all of us. Now why didn’t I think of this before?! I really don’t know. It now seems so simple. BUT, I realized it and now I know how to do it differently!

Namaste

P.S. It is also important to add that I did some visualizations today, seeing my son being happy and grateful to see me when I picked him up. I do believe this was part of how I saw the need to do the meditation that shifted me into relaxation mode pre-pickup.

P.S.S. I believe this type of mini mental break can help improve any caregiver-dependent frustration. Use it at will! Really.

Is anger easier to feel than love?

As I drove to work this morning, I noticed my thoughts were honed in on the areas in which I have felt wronged. In fact, looking back further, I see this has been the primary pattern I have held this past week – and beyond. My fist and jaw muscles were clenched while I seemed to hover slightly out of my body. The still, quiet voice within softly whispered, “focus on your heart.” Immediately, I let out a slow, long breath that, before that very moment, I didn’t realize I had been holding onto. I felt the back of my body again, no longer hovering. My muscles softened, appropriately (afterall, I was still driving). In the same moment, I felt the healing glow of my heart light open and warm the restrictions in my throat and stomach.

Within seconds, I saw where I felt so much better just by changing my focus from my grievances to my heart. One of my next thoughts was, “why didn’t I just do this sooner?” I did see where, overnight, I would turn the focus onto myself to see where I was contributing to the problem, AND by doing this, I was still focusing on the problem. Now, my focus was fully on my heart and I felt complete and whole again, where once I had felt completely broken.

After recognizing the internal battle that ensued overnight, I began to ask myself: “is it easier to be angry than it is to love?” Immediately, I began to see where, indeed, our anger helps us to feel justified, gives us the feeling of power and protection. We feel armored, and it also separates and disconnects us from others. In other words, anger keeps us stuck in our own thoughts, actions and habits.

On the other hand, literally, the open hand of love versus the closed fist of anger makes us feel incredibly vulnerable. Love means we are open, to some degree, to whatever is to come.

Anger disconnects and love connects. To feel love and compassion is to see life from someone else’s perspective. Love is scary because it means we need to change how we view the world, ourselves and how we relate to others. Now love doesn’t seem so great now, does it? (just kidding).

Here are some heart meditations that I have practiced this week while working through the muck that a few times threatened to keep me forever stuck. Trust me when I say that pushing away the anger and frustration is like building a bulkhead along the ocean, the waves dig out the sand in front of it and the waves just return bigger and angrier. Here are some strategies to side-step the building up of anger, by opening up the heart light.

Gratitude

Gratitude is such a powerful tool for opening the heart and seeing life from a different perspective. Sometimes the greatest challenge is just beginning. It may be best to start with the basics. The other day I began my list with being grateful for being warm (I don’t like being cold), for my cozy bed (that I was still in at the time), then my home, running water, water heater, my kids, my Jeep, my Job….

Write the list if this helps to solidify things for you. When we focus on the things that ARE going well, it helps us to gain perspective a higher perspective and rise above the things that close our hearts. Gratitude is infectious, be careful! (wink)

Heart Meditations

Imagine the parts of yourself that are hurting, for whatever reason, in bubbles in front of your heart. Remember a time when you felt love, or ask Your Higher Power to give love to these parts of you (in the bubbles). See the bubbles filling with love and see the various part of yourself, within their individual bubbles, transformed. When ready, allow these bubbles to rise up to the heavens, or see them reintegrate with you. Or follow what your heart tells you to do.

This same technique can be used to help someone else who is suffering in some way.

Digging Deeper

What are some ways in which you can each open your heart to a greater depth of love?

How can you tell when you are being closed to others? I personally find that my muscles go into hyperdrive

Where has your focus been this week or what thoughts are you running away from?

The Epiphany of Allowing

 

It is on this day that I met the elegant, beautiful and delicately strong lotus flower named Epiphany. She was captivating to watch as she morphed into different shapes and colors as her awareness of herself grew. She was open, she was vulnerable and she knew who she was. She could be anything that she wanted; by allowing it to be. In her presence, I felt light and airy, even as I sat upon a large, solid rock. 

We each have a calling within our hearts, our DNA. Yet we allow the external circumstances of our lives to dictate which path we will take. This is not love, this is fear. Because I fear being seen as crazy, I have continually hidden behind my fears. At times, when the words of my heart want to burst forth I hold them back constricting the neck muscles around my throat; choking out my own words. This hurts me and, worse, it serves no one.

The path away from fear and towards love is found in giving ourselves permission to be our true selves. It does not require me to change you, nor for me to require change within myself. By forcing or resisting changes we are not in a state of allowing.  

The most important lesson is having faith in the unseen. Seeds sprout out of sight. Just as the farmer plants the seed in the soil, he does not later pull up the soil to see what is happening. Instead, he waters and he trusts the seed to do its job. Allowing is having faith in the unknown and not deserting a vision just because it has “taken too long” to bear fruit.

Allowing begins on the inside and is developed through our inner feminine and masculine. This strength is symbolized by the lotus and the rock. The lotus does not ask permission to be beautiful, she just is. Out of the muck she rises and reaches for the sun. Once in the sun, she blooms and opens her petals, revealing herself openly; transparently. She represents feminine strength. The rock also serves its duty by being who he is, being present, solid and still. He represents masculine strength. We need both types of strength to make our way to the pinnacle of our own life’s purpose.

It is within our heart spaces that we strengthen our intuition, which is a combination of trusting and listening. The time has come for us to trust ourselves and to truly listen to what is being said; to see the truth beyond the physical by looking and living from within. It is here that we experience our truth more fully. It is here that we no longer feel burdened by fears.

All that we need to accomplish our missions can be found within. Through stillness, meditation, faith and visualization, we can access everything we need through allowing instead of resisting or forcing. It is by allowing and going within that we have the strongest connection with The Creator and we can complete our missions. Now just to give ourselves that permission.

Namaste

Images: Google & Calm

 

 

Using the Imagination to Cope with Emotions

Her fingers shook as she raised the black clove cigarette to her cracked lips. The golden light as she lit the clove created a patchwork of dancing light and shadows, revealing deep wrinkles in the skin of her face.

Soon she began to speak as the smoke poured out from her lips in puffs. “I want to control everything. I do not trust anyone,” she said while her shoulders were drawn forward; bearing the burden of the world and caging her heart.

I understood her fears, I told her as we stood at the entrance to a dark cave. I listened, nodding my understanding as the words poured out of her mouth like acid. I understood deeply, as she was the personification of my anxiety.

After she finished speaking, I experienced a deeper calmness. I had allowed myself to hear, see and experience my anxiety, to where it released the need to gnaw at my gut.

To up the ante, I saw myself sending her love. After all, that’s all my anxiety ever really wanted; to be loved and accepted.

This method of using the imagination to have a conversation with our emotions is based on the book Inner Work: Using Active Imagination and Dreams for Personal Growth by the Jungian analyst Robert A. Johnson.

While Johnson uses more dream-like modes in his examples of active imagination, I find that this “personification method” tells me quite a bit. I gain a good deal of information based on what the emotions say, their demeanor and their appearance. By listening to them and also sharing my own perspective, I am able to regain a greater degree of peace.

This process is quite simple. While sitting in a supported position, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, then allow your imagination to take you inward. For some reason, I see myself outside of a cave and maybe another setting would work better for you. Once there, call forth an emotion that has been troubling you. You can name this person. Write down your conversation as it occurs; it helps to further the process. Following the conversation, give the emotion love or at least appreciation.

I’ve personally found this method more effective than riding the emotional wave that I’ve described here.  I hope that you find this helpful in your journey.

Namaste

Image: Pintrest, no credit given

 

Getting Unstuck in Life: Seeing Our Life Patterns

Our thoughts are our GPS, consciously or not, they affect our actions and our paths. By becoming more aware of our underlying thoughts, we can more easily change our direction in life. 

Meanwhile, allowing our thoughts to run amuck in our minds, we give up our control to them. Our GPS takes us to the wrong places, and sometimes we find ourselves driving in circles; stuck in patterns that do not serve us. By being unaware of our underlying thoughts, they unconsciously drive our actions from the backseat. Here I will illustrate some examples of the growing awareness I have had of my thoughts over the past few weeks.

After reading and implementing the daily meditation recommended in the book, Yoga + Love, I have noticed an unexpected side effect. By becoming increasingly aware of what thoughts have been running like sound tracks in the background of my mind, I see where I have created insomnia, heartbreaks and lack of resources in my life. 

For someone who thought she had at least a foothold on understanding herself, this had been an eye-opening experience. It turns out that there have been many thoughts that I’ve had that have been silently running (and sidelining the progress in) my life.

For most of this year, I had been increasingly suffering from insomnia. After a week or so of twice daily heart-centered meditation, I suddenly saw where I was telling myself that I was not able to sleep, even before I got in bed. I was, in a proverbial sense, making my bed and lying in it: sleepless. 

Once I saw this “I can’t sleep” thought pattern, I was able to change it. Now I rest peacefully at night without taking any supplements to help me sleep! By changing my thoughts, I changed my sleeping patterns!

I have also noticed how often I tell myself that I don’t have something. Examples have included: “I don’t have the time/energy/ability to deal with this.” Guess what has then happened? Your probably guessed correctly, my thoughts became a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Now, if I hear what I am saying to myself is NOT something that I want in my life, I replace the once “subliminal” thought with one that supports the direction in which I wish to move. “I am capable. I am worthy. I have all the resources that I need to do this successfully.”

Then this week I saw where I had had a strong pattern of focusing more on sex compared to the emotional connections that I have desired over the past 2 years of dating. This was a truly necessary moment of truth, albeit a painful one. 

While my intention in the last round of dating had been to focus on emotional connections, and I achieved that, the underlying thoughts about sex were still there. They continued driving me and played a role in my (dis)connection with the last man I was dating. This is a challenging confession to make. Yet it is an important one for me to acknowledge and see as I move forward, so that I can now do things differently.

To fully correct this dysfunctional dating pattern, I am giving up dating right now for  6-months, if needed. It’s time for me to clear a good bit of these (and yet to be seen) thoughts and soundtracks so that I can create the connection that I truly desire. Instead of continuing to create connections that are based on the underlying thoughts of lust. After publishing this post, I read this on Mind, Body, Green

So as you can see, heart-centered meditation has been my key to self-discovery. May each of us find ways to uncover the thoughts that are secretly driving our actions, so that we may consciously choose a different pattern and, when needed, change our direction. 


Namaste

Images: Google

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