Return to Innocence

There was something inside that I wanted to hide. The true name of what it was that caused my shame was unknown to me. I could see some of the situations from my childhood in which it seemed to be rooted. And I had spent nearly a decade tugging up various “weeds” to get to the root of my shame problem. Yet, the deep rooted shame was still there.

Last week, I started the process of using EFT or emotional freedom technique to systematically begin to return to innocence through the process of forgiveness. Within just a day, I began to feel my shame load lighten. It was even more amazing after five! (The book is Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything by Iyanla Vanzant.)

Then, while at a party to celebrate my birthday something happened. Well after dark, while surrounded by friends on an outdoor patio of a local bar, a young boy about 7 years old walked up to me and was trying to solicit something. He spoke so softly and the crowd was so loud that I could not here him. My mind, intoxicated by the celebration – not bourbon – was unable to fully process what was happening! He held up a piece of paper in front of his chest with printed lettering, something apparently given to him by an adult to legitimize his solicitation. In my confusion over the juxtaposition, I gently yet firmly said to him, “No thank you.” I turned to my friends and commented how surreal that was for me. Then I quickly moved on. I didn’t even turn around to see if he had left.

Later that night the memory flooded back in. The next morning, the heaviness of guilt-ridden emotions followed. Why had I not done something more? How could I dismiss this child instead of protecting him and asking questions such as where was his parent/guardian? I was absolutely disgusted with myself!

I meditated, breathed into the physical and emotional pains and also used EFT that day on several elements: anger, sadness, and guilt. I sat through the emotional storms and rode some mighty waves. I even did a constellation on the incident (I’ll need another post to explain what this meant!) and sent a prayer request to a friend for myself and the boy. I also sent prayers to his “guardians.” I even tried to talk it out to get it off my chest and also asked a trusted friend who was at the party about the incident.

While each use of a modality helped to move me through something more, there were still some lingering pangs of guilt. The next day, I told a retired social worker about the incident; as if she could grant me absolution. Tears came to my eyes and I still got choked up. It was apparent that I still felt guilty for not doing more. It was also apparent to me at some point that the boy, due to his estimated age, also reminded me of my own son. In some way, I had “taken” responsibility for this boy as if I were his parent!

Through continued mindfulness while allowing the upwelling of all of the emotions, I finally saw the keys to unlock my cage of guilt. One key was that I recognized I was angry with myself for not protecting and honoring his innocence, as I would for my own son. And the skeleton key was seeing how my own childhood innocence had not been protected nor honored by adults who “should have” done so. After this recognition, the tears no longer flowed. The light bulb was now lit: I needed to see, honor and protect my own innocence.

That evening I attended a mini constellation therapy session in which my intention was to replace shame with innocence. Through my ancestors, I was able to receive further support in transmuting the lifelong shame I had felt back into innocence.

While there are still some areas to work through, I feel that a significant amount of shame and its emotional burden has been relieved. I share this story to illustrate that emotional freedom can seem elusive when we are moving through any upwellings. It is unlocked through persisting at allowing the emotions to become our teachers, in spite of what we may be feeling. Had I dismissed my feelings about this incident, as I had the boy in the bar, I would have missed an opportunity to reclaim my own innocence; my own freedom from shame.

Letting go now has a new meaning for me. It wasn’t about letting go of the story, my feelings nor the boy, it was letting go of control of it all to rediscover the innocence I had been missing.

May we each find the roots behind the story, so that we may each be free of our suffering in new ways. We all become more free, even if just by degrees, by each root that is disentangled. This is not just about individual suffering as we each suffer with one another, at least on some level, both directly and indirectly.

Namaste

Freeing Ourselves from the Opinions of Others

We are social creatures so seeking connections with others is a natural desire.  To connect, we often hide our true selves to avoid rejection – or we “put ourselves out there” and have been or risk being rejected. This places us, on some level, at the mercy of the opinions of others – and our beliefs about what others will or will not accept. We can then begin to fear doing this or that, and thus we imprison ourselves.

What we are forgetting is that each of us has filters through which we see the world. These filters, often created in childhood before we were able to reason, impair our ability to see clearly. We see the world through the lenses of our own suffering. Yet we seek the approval and love of others whose visions are skewed and judgments that are also unjust. This sets each of us up for despair – and we give back the very rejections that we receive. Life then becomes a tangled mess in which we all suffer needlessly.

Breaking free from these limitations requires us to connect with our own inner essence; to appreciate and love ourselves for who we are; to forgive ourselves of our own trespasses. It also requires us to connect with our own Higher Power, where we are truly loved without condition. In so doing, we clear our own lenses. We can then begin to see how others are operating out of the belief of their own brokenness. It is then that we can begin to see others with compassion and forgiveness, helping them to rise above their limiting beliefs, if they choose. This is the path to freedom. Forgiveness and healing begin within.

May we each choose freedom by taking the inner path of love and acceptance. In accepting ourselves, we can no longer hold judgment against others and thus begin to extend our love outwards.

Namaste

Here is a link to the Insight Timer Course “Free Yourself From Blame & Resentment” by Tara Brach. If you prefer to read, she has several books on self-acceptance that may be helpful, as well.

Tapping Out on Emotional Overload

Last week a good friend reminded me about the benefits of EFT or “tapping” to help with difficult emotions. Her reminder was perfect timing for me as I was in the throes of coping with a mother load of anger. While I meditate multiple times a times and have other stress-reducing self-care routines, the erupting volcano required more than my “usual” self-care and meditation to manage.

I’ve had used EFT in the past and each time I’ve found it to be incredibly transformative. It is my hope that you will find some use to this technique, as it really helps to gain freedom from overwhelming emotions. EFT can also be used to support both the development and reinforcement of positive thoughts and habits, too.

Please see the YouTube video below, which has both the following written description as well as a walk-through of the EFT technique.

Before beginning, identify and then rate the intensity level of the emotion you are wanting to change on a scale of 0-10. Then think of how you want to phrase what you are feeling. In the video, my feelings were on anxiety and nervousness.

Here is the initial phrase you use while rubbing your chest:

Even though I feel this _________________, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

Repeat this 3 times before the next step.

Then repeat “this __________” on each area while tapping with your index and middle fingers about 7 times each on the:

crown of your head (1 hand)

Inside eyebrow

Outside eyebrow

Under your eyes

Under your nose

On your chin

Under your collarbones

On the bottom of your ribcage

(Personally, I run through the tapping part 3 -4 times before I reassess.)

Now, assess the emotional level and determine if you need to repeat the tapping sequence from the top.

Feel free to experiment and see what unwanted feelings you can tap away. Sometimes being more specific can help clear more thoroughly.

May this technique help you to find a greater sense of peace within.

Namaste & Happy Tapping

(I’m still working on the thumbnail frames. Mobile app isn’t as friendly lol)

This Life is Yours, Embrace It

Each detail of your life is yours to live. It was created just for you (maybe even by you), so that you can learn how to love you. Yet we resist this, don’t we? We each want the wheat, on some level, without having to deal with the chaff. Yet it is within the hard shell (and not outside of it) that we find the seeds of our soul.

This life is ours to live. Each detail: the good, the bad, the ugly. So often we grasp onto what was or some ideal of what we want it to be, that we miss that our power is in the now.

In allowing (and even loving) where we are right now, without blocking it, or how we feel about it, or trying to change it, we open ourselves to new and higher levels of being.

What we resist persists. When we block our emotions, they create within us a battle, a civil war. This creates a stress response and we either fight with or flee from our own energy. Wow! Doesn’t that sound completely exhausting? So where are you blocking your own personal sun from shining?

Where do you “kick the can down the street,” saying to yourself you’ll get to it later or another day?  If not now, then when? Please trust that these words I’m saying to you, I’m shouting at myself. 

It takes the sun, the rain, the earth and the wind to make trees mighty. Where are you shirking your duties?

Namaste

Detoxing Addictions both Emotional and Chemical

A few weeks ago, I posted a prayer request for a loved one to receive the support s/he needed. This person was not eating regular meals, and instead was drinking a superhuman amount of vodka per day. Since then, s/he has started the detox process and is eating again, returning to human status.

In developing compassion for this individual, I started to look at my own addictions. In doing so, I recognized that on a basic level it doesn’t matter what we’re addicted to: an addiction is an addiction is an addiction.

Each substance or behavior keeps us out of our own control and power. When we are addicted to something we feel powerless to change and so we don’t. Various addicts like to think they are better than others, but I no longer feel this is true… just my humble opinion. Each addiction steals our power.

So with this in mind, I chose to initiate the process of stepping away from addictions (chemically with junk foods, alcohol, coffee/caffeine, and emotionally with unhealthy habits of relating). At first, my biology craved the sugar and the caffeine. Those effects were minimized for me with an herbal detox.

The more challenging aspect has been the emotional response. For it is now that I am recognizing that the emotions I was suppressing with my addictions have begun to surface. To stay on top of these emotions, it has been important for me to keep centered and grounded. Meditation and self-care have been saving graces. Prayer and support of friends have also been tremendous in getting me through.

For several days, I have felt like I’ve been surfing in a bad storm. There have been periods of grace, yet overall it’s been tumultuous. To keep on my surfboard through the emotional waves, I have dropped into my center and grounded by imagining my consciousness being in the “bowl” of my pelvis. At times I have also imagined my tailbone sprouting roots that go downwards into the center of the earth, which takes away all that no longer serves me.

Furthermore, softening into the emotions allows for grace. Journaling has also helped. The big move, however, has been finding my willingness to forgive and send love to any others involved; including myself. At times it has felt like every trespass and each grievance had bubbled up. In finally seeing each item as a part of me that had not healed, I have become more compassionate towards myself…and others.

This detox and getting away from my addictions has helped me to see all of the emotions I was tucking away for another day. All of these chemical distractions were what I used to avoid feeling my emotions. To avoid feeling myself.

I also recognized during this time that my focus on others has kept me from taking responsibility for myself. In blaming others, I failed to see where I was failing myself.

Change takes effort. Yet we are worth the effort. When we can make these changes that support ourselves, we can further support others.

Each light that is lit helps to spark the light in others.

May we each find the solace we seek within ourselves and our Higher Power, instead of the things that are external and uncontrollable.

Namaste

Is How We Relate Healthy?

Fire up the spit, because I’m going to roast myself! No, not literally, but figuratively. Before unleashing the mea culpa, I have some thought-provoking questions for you:

  • Do you have a hard time asking for or receiving help or “handouts?” Yet, do you often “give ’til it hurts?” Do you then feel resentful when you help others and they do not acknowledge your actions “enough” or not at all?
  • Is it hard for you to watch someone else suffer? Or are you a “people pleaser?”
  • Are you someone who hates it when someone is unhappy, especially if it’s with you? Do you continually do things to seek validation and approval? Do you have the “need to feel needed?”
  • Or do you feel that there is something wrong with you, to where you try to “make up for it” by being helpful or of service to others?
  • Do you often feel responsible, at fault, or blame yourself for the behaviors and actions of others?

Personally, I have said “yes” to each and every one of these questions for far, far too long. Yet with learning to love myself, I am saying “no” to more and more of them. Today, I am bringing awareness to myself and hopefully to you, the reader, in what healing codependency looks like from the inside. So let’s dive in!

co·de·pend·en·cy
ˌkōdəˈpendənsē/
noun
  1. excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.

Power Plays. Throughout my life, I have sought validation from others based on my actions. While the actions have changed as I have “grown up,” that same nagging need was always there, “others will like me if I _______.” This is the basis for loss of personal power and boundaries. By handing over the keys to self-esteem, it is no longer our own. I would then, unknowingly, seek to balance that power loss by manipulating others to be or feel dependent on me through my incessant giving and being of service.

Then when I didn’t receive the gratitude, or validation I sought from others, I would become resentful. “Look what I did for you,” I would think – sometimes I’ve even said this aloud to my children. EEK! Yet folks, this is how it happens: we learn these patterns, typically, from our parents, then we perpetuate it because it’s what we KNOW!

Eventually I would also “turn the knife on myself” and think things like “I’m just not worthy. S/he just doesn’t like me.”In missing my “fix,” I worked harder. Self-care fell to the wayside and “supporting” the other person would become paramount. Here we have a loss of boundaries.

So in giving, I would often overcompensate. Whether it was my energy, my time, gifts or help, the scale of giving was often heavily tipped in the other person’s favor. To the point that when I would withdrawal my energy, the relationship would seem to quickly dissolve. This then would set me up for more seeking by asking “are they still there?” This can be exhausting: for myself and I’m quite sure for the other person, too… more EEK!

This giving to receive is highly manipulative and is a “slight of hand,” is it not? I did these things because I believed I needed to control others to get the love I needed, because I did not believe that I was worthy of love: straight up (or neat).

It has been through awareness that I have begun to shift these patterns more and more, relying less on others to fill my needs. To get out of the seeking habit, after I recognize the seeking pattern, I turn my attention on myself (it was hard at first, because I had learned to focus on the other person and what they were or were not doing). It is here that I ask myself, “What is it that I feel I need from this person?”

The answer has been: acceptance, validation, love or compassion. I then give that to myself to the fullest extent of my abilities, while I breathe and feel into the void that I’ve been avoiding feeling. When the challenge has seemed too tough, I have asked God or The Universe for assistance.

For me, this has been a healing process won minute-by-minute, day-by-day and at times by degrees. The key to changing has been consistently learning to meet my own internal needs for approval. As such, self-care is also important! (lack of self-care just perpetuates these giving/seeking cycles…ironically and sadly… without self-care we just circle the codependency drain – pun intentional.) Note: Seeking support is different from seeking someone else to fill the voids we are avoiding!  

The shame/blame game is an interesting one. As a codependent, I have believed there was something “wrong with me.” This shame had been a big motivator for seeking someone who could “fill the void.” Ironically, this was usually people who choose to not accept blame themselves. Can you see where this is going? I feel shame, and they seek someone to blame. The other person then never has to take responsibility to change and I get to feel like a martyr; victim-mode activated! This cycle continues to self-perpetuate until someone leaves or changes. Self-love helps to heal the roots of shame, as does speaking out; silence perpetuates shame

So as terrible as this sounds, in being co-dependent, I had learned to “feel good” when I was taking the blame for someone else (and secretly controlling them; a secret I kept even from myself!). Yet relating this way only served to reinforce my shame. This may be the plot twist you’re looking for: enabling the blamer supported me in believing I was “holier than him/her.” OUCH!

This realization that I felt holier than someone else has certainly been something that I completely avoided recognizing about myself! Going a step further: I’m seeing where I may be unintentionally creating codependent children. EEK-cubed! (choking back vomit & tears…) 

Enter the Narcissist/blamer-codependent continuum. After recognizing that I have been teaching my children what I have learned, I see where I have also been the blamer/narcissist! After all, the two are just different sides of the same coin. Both seek power in manipulative and under-handed ways. Both act as victims and thus lack personal responsibility: the narcissist in blaming the codependent, AND after the end of the relationship, the codependent often blames the narcissist for making them a victim.

In the beginning of the relationship, as a codependent, I sought void-filling from the narcissist. Later, the narcissist sought refuge in my ability to accept blame. We’d like to think that there are clear-cut roles. However, it’s very interesting that we can easily find articles written by a codependent, but where are all of the articles written from the narcissist’s viewpoint? Regardless of how we cut it or label ourselves or the “other,” if we are in these relationships we are part of the problem: codependent or not!

In seeing my relationship patterns now, I am further breaking free as this way of living no longer serves me.

Breaking free bears reiteration, the keys are self-love and self-care.  Giving myself more freely of these gifts has increased my awareness, my desire for and motivation for change. Again, when we see the patterns emerging, we must turn a good dose of compassion and love onto ourselves. Remember: Focusing on what the other person is or isn’t doing only keeps us stuck. Compassion and love for ourselves is the way. When in doubt, rinse and repeat. Then do it again!

Finally, holding anger against someone else or ourselves hurts us more than anyone else. Self-forgiveness is often harder to give. Yet, it is in forgiving ourselves that we free ourselves from our own confines. If we had known better, we sure-as-heck would’ve done better. We live what we learned, until we choose differently. Love you, boo! ❤️

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. 

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Namaste

Images: Google

Becoming The Love You’ve Been Looking For

Fantasies about knights in shining armor started at a young age for me. I wanted a man to save me from my miseries; to whisk me away on his stead into the sunset. Fairytales, it seems, were a vast part of my psyche.

Then in my late thirties when my marriage dissolved and I was left to face my life, with my miseries and messes, I turned away by looking for the knight in shining armor again; and to no avail. In seeking, I upped my misery. Yet while I sought, I also began to look inward. This blog, in all of its iterations, reflects a good part of that journey.

Today, I am seeing that the love and acceptance I’ve sought in others was quietly waiting…right here, inside of me. Yes, I’ve read in books this concept of self-love. Yet, it was only recently that I began to experience it as a regular part of my daily life and reality.

How has this come to be, you may be wondering? It really is more simple than you may want to believe. If you’ve been following my story, you may see the pattern. It is about the consistent application of self-love and self-compassion in the face of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

To be more specific: The places where we have built walls must be torn down. Those walls are the thoughts and beliefs that block us from our own light, our own love and in maintaining those walls, it eats up our energy.

This place of self-love is behind those walls. It can feel scary to “walk into” those blockades, for each brick is a thought we have taken the time to place and mortar together to form these walls. Then we take to painting our beliefs of who we are, like murals, on these walls. So to look closely at any of the murals or walls is to question our very own self-concept. It can feel like death to question who we are. In a way it is: it is the death of who we believed we were.

Furthermore, we feel vulnerable when we take those walls down. As each of those bricks was formed in the belief that life or love hurts us. Yet the reality is that those very walls keep us locked in with the pain, while the love we seek remains on the other side of the keep.

The very thing we seek is within us. It is up to us to break down the walls that separate us from ourselves and hence from others. We can be so busy blaming others for our pain that we avoid seeing how we are hurting ourselves and creating the very things that keep us locked in that hell.

So go to those walls. Breathe through the fear, the heartache. Write, cry, dance and be moved by the emotions that you’ve been keeping locked up. In freeing them, you free yourself. With each wall you break down, you will find another measure of love for yourself.

It is in “feeling the rainbow” of human emotions that we become who we are here to be: ourselves unlimited, ourselves being free.

Namaste

Becoming a Best Friend

Everyone needs a best friend, someone to turn to when life gets tough and someone with whom to celebrate the good stuff. Friends can come and go, moving to new places, having their own life changes or even passing on. The one person we know that is with us from birth to death is our own selves. Yet, how many of us are friends with ourselves, much less our own best friends?

It can be a challenge to see ourselves in this light, as we can see into our own depths. We know our own darkest secrets and thoughts. And we judge ourselves for it to no end. However, if our own best friend were to confess to us their own “sins,” we would most likely forgive them. Yet we often hold ourselves to the highest standards and repeatedly beat ourselves down for not meeting them.

It is time to break these habits of self-reprisal. It is time to put down the arms and begin to give ourselves the grace, compassion and love that we so easily dispense to others. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to do this is to see ourselves as innocent babies, ones who are here to love and to be loved.

Love didn’t hurt you. Someone who didn’t know how to love hurt you. Don’t confuse the two. ~ Tony Gaskins, Jr.

We can continue this practice into present day by forgiving ourselves for how we have trespassed against ourselves. We can then become aware of what ways in which we punish ourselves. Then we can choose differently by granting ourselves just a little bit more grace, love and compassion.

By feeling into the places where we don’t feel loved, we can begin to heal the wounds within. It is here that we are learning to become our own best friends.

Heart Meditations to Heal Thyself

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

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