Return to Sender

 

Where will I sit

without my

placeholder

of importance?

 

Unexpectedly

the room opens,

wide and deep.

Spacious.

 

Here I am.

Free.

And it’s

beautiful.

 

Strings loosen.

No love to earn.

Life opens.

I am available

to me.

 

Formulaic cacophony

dissolves,

revealing nothingness

and everything.

 

Puzzle pieces

form

a formless

puzzle.

 

 

I can’t prove my worth

and in that absence

I experience

indisputable

worthiness

 

 

The cicadas sing with me.

We dance, play, die.

We stretch, we become.

Another breath

weaving creation.

January Embodied Gathering: Being in the World, Being of Love

 

It is only a safe human being who can humbly know one’s true nature.  In this way, we can be in the world, whilst being of Love.

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our wellbeing. We gather to become more intimate with, and more available for, our life.

For those who would like support in their journey, here’s an affordable option.

Safety is important. Our bodies, our spirits, and our psyches function with more wellbeing when safety is known from within.

We live in a culture that often disempowers and creates stress- and doesn’t teach us how to feel safe from within. Our culture teaches us to find safety in people, places, and in superficial doings and things. But it doesn’t teach us sustainable, empowering safety from the inside out.

Without this knowing, we often don’t know how to cope with being in an overwhelming world, or how to recover from traumatic experiences. We have forgotten that safety is possible, or maybe we’ve never known safety. Many of us have developed posttraumatic stress as a result.

 

We can learn. We can learn to slowly and gently know that safety is here. We can safely get to know safety.

We come together to find safety in our experiences, to discover that we are safe- even when we have trauma or loud core stories.

In this groupwe honor our experiences and we learn how that we don’t have to pretend or hide- or run. We gather to intimately connect and explore the nature of being human. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are.

Through slow, simple experiential practices, we realize profound safety is here in our actual experience, in ways we hadn’t been able to see.

All are welcome here regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender or background. You are important, and appreciated, whoever you are.

 

From past participants:

It is quite breathtaking to experience you working with a group; watching and listening to your communion with who-they-really-are. You have a gift, Lisa.

You represent what Adyashanti talks about:  “A safe place for the world to come and rest.” You are that safe, benign presence in the world.

I have listened to the recording many times since our gathering. It continues to support me.

 

Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. I always facilitate a guided rest. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. So

metimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Other times I share ways to assist with self-inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. Participation is always optional.

Please contact me with questions: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

 

Upcoming dates: January 13 and 27, 1-2:15pm EST

(February 10th, 24th– 1-2:15 pm EST)

You can come to one, or come to many, or come to all!  We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep.

 

Investment: Sliding scale what you can afford: $10- $25 per gathering. To sign up please send PayPal to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link.  Scholarship spots available by application as a part of my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. No one turned away due to insufficient funds.

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

 

Free with the upcoming Deepening Course,  Discovering the Embodiment of Love.  Email me for details.

 

To learn about me: http://integrativehealingnow.com/about.html

To read more about embodiment

For more, visit my blog, where I write almost exclusively about embodiment

God, the Thorn in my Side- Unraveling our Childhood Gods

This was originally published on the Living Inquiries web site as “Unraveling the Gods of Childhood”.

I have a story to share.

This story starts with a Facebook post I made after finishing a session with a client.

“When our parents aren’t safe, available, loving gods, we become vigilant and over responsible gods, thinking it’s all up to us, with wounds in our hearts.”

It’s been a long time coming, sharing this publicly. I’d experienced it in myself, and had been seeing it with my clients for years. It has been such a pivotal part of my embodiment journey that I’m currently writing a book about it – yet never blogged about it.

This is my abbreviated story of how I learned of my own religious wounding, and how it set me free.

 

Our relationship to the world

Religious wounding is not talked a lot about in spiritual circles, and yet I think it is imperative that this territory be explored on our journey of becoming deeply intimate with ourselves, because so much of how we view the world, ourselves, and our place in the world can be impacted by religious belief systems.

From an early age I had been aware of “something wiser” than my own personal self, but I didn’t know what that meant or how to talk about it. Jesus was sometimes part of that, but I didn’t really understand that either. It felt significant and important, and confusing at the same time. Being part of a “do as you’re told household”, I didn’t feel any space to talk about things that confused me, or that were “different” than what the authorities in my life were talking about. My religious upbringing (Lutheran) was linear, practical and doctrine-oriented, and, well, that just didn’t fit in with the rather mystical and supernatural experiences I was having. I suppressed and disconnected from most of those experiences, rendering them meaningless in my mind, forgotten to my heart.

I left Christianity midway through my years at a Lutheran Missouri Synod University (oh, the irony). Being from a white, republican, middle-income family I hadn’t explored racism, classism or entitlement, but from an early age something in me knew that the Christian doctrine I was being taught was deeply unjust. When I discovered that the chapel of the University didn’t allow women pastors at the same time I was starting to learn about the oppression of women (thank you Professor Jody), I was livid. That my church did not allow a female pastor was the last draw. I could no longer believe in “God the Father”, or his violent and oppressive rules. I was sickened by how this god judged and decided who was worthy of his love. This god was just as bad as my parents, with their republican and conservative pronouncements. I wanted no part of it. I became adamantly anti-Christian, and anti “God.”

It was a profound and huge step in my personal evolution to step away from the tradition in which I was raised. I didn’t consider what rejecting Christianity meant for me, I just knew that the beliefs of heaven and hell, sin, and rejection of certain people based on geography and gender didn’t make sense to me and never had. It felt too hypercritical for me to do anything else but walk away. I was glad to “get rid of” the label.

“That’s that!” I thought. I assumed that consciously recognizing that I didn’t align with the tenants of Christianity was me working through my religious upbringing. “I’m not that,” was the subtext.  Time to move on.

Move on I did. I didn’t have anything to “replace” Christianity until a few years later when I found a spiritual practice that became an intrinsic part of my being. It was a bhakti and heart practice that nurtured the connection with god/awareness/spirit/love, etc that I’d felt when I was young. I moved on with new practices and perspectives, but what I didn’t realize was that I had not cleaned out the old before moving into the new.

 

Me and god, god and my parents

If I had been paying closer attention I might have slowed down a bit. I might have considered what giving up Christianity meant for me, or what was so infuriating for me. I might have considered that my bitterness for Christianity (and god and my parents) had some rich territory to explore, i.e. that I had some unhealed wounds. I’m in awe of the young people who make it to my door to connect to their wounds, because that was the last thing I would have considered back then.

Instead, lost in unseen self-righteousness and anger, while unable to connect to the extremely painful truth, I shut off from my feeling self and turned towards self-reliance. I thought all the problems existed outside of me “in those people” and in those beliefs, and that all I needed to do was walk away and find better ways of thinking. (This is such a common theme in our culture: we think harder, so as to feel less.)

I didn’t understand the psyche, how belief systems work, how much pain I was in, how strong my use of mind over spirit had become, or how dysfunctional my relationship with the ideas of love had become[1]. As many seemingly invincible teenagers and early 20 year olds feel, I thought I was “just fine.”  And even better, thought that I was more in control and safer now that I’d moved further away from my beliefs of my family.

I didn’t realize that underneath my intellectualizing I’d felt rejected by god, and by my parents, and that the pain of that was too much to feel, so I rejected them first.

And, since I’d rejected him, I hadn’t considered for a moment that my relationship with god was anything but “just fine.”

 

When denial no longer works

I don’t know about you, but I was full-on in pretend mode when I was young. It was a way of life, and it seemingly kept me pretty safe in some crazy situations. As I woke up, lots of that pretending fell away. But then the real journey began – that of embodiment. In my reality tunnel, embodiment cleans one out, until only truth remains. But it’s not an easy process. There can be lots of sacred cows, and for me, my relationship with god was one of them[2].

It wasn’t until I was in crisis, recovering from an addictive relationship, that I stumbled upon my unhealed relationship with god. I literally collapsed into a sobbing pile of goo as a realization clunked into recognition: I still believed in a punishing god, a god that did not love me, a god that I had failed, 20 years after thinking I had given up that belief system and moved past “all that bullshit”.

It’s not rational, but those hidden beliefs had subtly kept me from feeling truly safe and at home in the world, and it kept me more in my head than in my body. How could I possibly feel safe in the world, and at home in myself, if I believed I was inherently faulty?

This can be earth-shattering territory to journey into, which is why many people never do. After all, if we don’t have to, why would we consciously look foror go into uncomfortable core wounding? Quite to the contrary, we generally hide from it at all costs. Our psyches are constructed to protect us from this wounding. And anyway, where do we even start? It can all be very overwhelming.

Yet there I was. It had became clear that there was something under the hood, as it were, that was not just being explored, but was having a tremendous influence over how I felt about myself and how I felt being in the world. It was my shame and self-loathing, wrapped up with god.

 

God, the thorn in my side

This stuff doesn’t have a road map so, using somatic inquiry, somatic therapy and a few other tools, I just kept on **slowly and gently** exploring deep into my being. Trauma has its own timeline, and said simply, we are not in charge of how it works itself through. Loving support from others and myself was vital.

Almost always tendrils would lead to wounds connected with an early childhood medical event (which also involved my parents) that were still integrating. I had been exploring this territory on and off for years, but something was different this time. As I kept exploring, something deeper finally started to emerge that didn’t seem to be about my parents. I then deeply recognized that my wounds with god, as I knew god, had hidden behind, and were often interwoven with, the wounding I’d experienced with my parents.

What had initially been experienced as feeling rejected by my parents revealed a belief that I had been rejected by god. Where as previously it felt like my parents had abandoned me, it now felt like I’d been abandoned by god. What that left me feeling was not just rejected and abandoned, but bad and wrong to be someonewho would be rejected and abandoned.

Oh the shame! And self-loathing. And creation of self-reliance and an inflated sense of responsibility to cover it all up.

 

Me and god, god and my parents: deeper in

Some of you may be asking, “How was it that god came into all of this? How was this all made about god?”

Recall back to where I referred to God as a father:

I could no longer believe in “God the Father”, or his violent rules. I was sickened by how this god judged and decided who was worthy of his love. This god was just as bad as my parents, with their republican and conservative pronouncements. I wanted no part of it. I became adamantly anti-Christian, and anti “God.”

In my innocence I thought all I had to do “see the truth” and walk away. This is a common mistake amongst those who have spiritual awakenings as well. We see something, clarity comes, and we think we are “finished.” And then comes the process of embodiment, where we find the energies of those beliefs. My system had “taken in” all those beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong, sin and salvation. My body, mind and spirit had been infused with linking love and god the father. If god rejected me, I’d be unloved. There is nothing more shameful to a human being than being unlovable. These early teachings, as simple as they were, had woven into my system, and were desperately looking for reconciliation.

 

But it’s richer than that.

What I’ve discovered in my own journey but also with hundreds of clients is that our parents often act as our first gods. Obviously this isn’t conscious, but it’s in the subconscious stratosphere of the psyche. My friend explained it well: “My parents were gods to me. I depended on them to live.” 

Our parents give us life and we are at their mercy for safety, love, food, and nurturance – on every level. They also reprimand and punish us. And so they become synonymous with how our culture often portrays god – the life-giver, the disciplinary, the mother, and the father. My friend continues,“From that I learned that god was loving, and joyous, and terrifying, and confusing. God was everything. God also dies.”

This isn’t rational, and quite frankly is too much for our child self to make sense of, but our beings pick up this information and makemake conscious and subconscious beliefs based upon these ideas. It is only later in life that we can journey back through the layers of our conditioning to see the formation of deficiency stories that have influenced our whole life.

 

Deeper still

As I felt safe to journey into the medical trauma and prior traumas, and the imagined roles god (and my parents) played in those traumas, I was able to connect to various debilitating belief systems. I had believed that I was bad, and that I had been abandoned and rejected by my god (and my parents) because I was bad. Said another way, and more from the perspective of a child: god had let me down, I wasn’t good enough for god, and so ultimately I wasn’t good enough or worthy of god’s love. That meant I had to become my own god, so to speak. It was up to me to keep myself safe, because god and my parents had failed due to my badness.

The level of shame, self-loathing, and self-reliance (what we commonly see as a false sense of responsibility) that was under all of that was immense and had been following me around for… my whole life. Although I was not consciously aware of it, a sense of shame that seemed synonymous with my being was living under the surface and was wreaking havoc in my life.

Although my life was basically “fine”, I was making unhealthy and debilitating choices in intimate relationships. As I courageously worked through my self-reliance patterning, I innocently made a wrong turn: I trusted others unworthy of that trust instead of trusting that which was worthy. I did this because ultimately I didn’t have a safe and loving relationship with myself, or a healthy relationship with Love. This pattern dramatically revealed itself when I found myself in a narcissistically abusive relationship. The creation of a perfect storm destroyed my sails and crashed me into rocky territory I had been trying to avoid all my life. It literally took me to the darkest and most hidden places within myself that I had never felt safe enough to explore.

Eventually it took me to my unfinished business with god. After that torturous terrain was faced, I found myself experiencing a level of safety I didn’t know was possible, and a Love I had never known. My world had changed.

 

The rest of the story

There is more to say. Healing religious, parental and attachment wounding takes commitment, time, love, compassion and support. The rest of the story includes sharing practices I have developed with myself and others that help us let go of old beliefs, and in their absence fall into the experience of a safe body (and life) to reside in.

Life fundamentally changed for me as I cleaned up my past but it wasn’t an overnight change – it has been slow, steady, and eventually sustainable. Not having to be a vigilant and over-responsible god has relieved me of a burden that was not mine to carry. Groking the benevolence of Love has altered my way of being in a world that I do not have the power to control, but feel safe residing in nevertheless.

I have shared only parts of my journey here, and look forward to sharing more. I’d love to hear from you. What was particularly helpful? What was confusing? What do you want to know to know more of? I look forward to journeying together.

[1]See my Deepening Course starting in February, “Discovering the Embodiment of Love,” to learn more about that!

[2]After working with hundreds of clients, I now see that one’s relationship with “god”, however that is perceived/experienced/named, is most sacred (this goes for atheists too, although the language is going to be quite different)- even more sacred then that of one’s parents. And, it is also often very hidden within the psyche. For various reasons it can be one of the last places one “wants to go” when inwardly journeying.There is good reason for this, which I explore in my book.

 

Discovering the Embodiment of Love, A Course of Deepening

Discovering the Embodiment of Love, A Deepening Course.

Our stories may be different, and yet may overlap.

Like many of us, I started suppressing myself from a young age. My family didn’t often openly talk about emotions or feelings so I quickly learned to hide what I felt, and I behaved in such a way as to not cause problems or upset anyone. I was often in pain or scared, but I learned that my only option was to pretend that everything was ok. Before long I wasn’t just pretending to others. As a survival strategy I engaged in an insidious form of self-harm: I was pretending to myself as well, which meant I didn’t really have a self to connect to. I usually didn’t know what I was feeling in any given moment, but I was hyper-aware of others. Yes, that is as confusing and disorienting as it might sound, and something many of you will be familiar with.

I was rewarded with positivity and attention, and got “love” from the outside by pretending. That set up a life of disconnecting to what *I* was feeling and instead adapting to *others* to garner love. It wasn’t reallove, of course, but I didn’t understand that until much later.

Throughout my life I (sometimes anxiously) craved love and connection but also feared abandonment/rejection, so would avoid deep intimacy. I was not aware of any of this patterning since I was always pretending everything was ok. Attachment challenges formed early in my life led to unsatisfactory and unhealthy relationships throughout my life.

When I eventually found myself in the grips ofa narcissistically abusive relationship, I crashed and hit rock bottom. No longer able topretend, I broke apart, faced my traumas, and explored my unhealthy and grotesque relationship with love. Through intense and honest somatic inquiry (and a lot of support) I gradually came to understand that what I had always thought was love, was not.  As this was seen through, something unexpected emerged. It was during this time that the true nature of embodied and sustainable Love found me. This Love, I directly discovered, held all, and required no pretending. I was truly free and worthy to be me, just as I was.

Artist: Kathryn Long      Instagram:  @authenticallybrilliant

Our actions and beliefs are innocent

Whatmy years as a somatic therapist (and a student of my own humanity) has led me to understand is that human beings are hard-wired to want and need love, and yet our culture has created a meaning of love that is distorted, misunderstood, and toxic. Because of this toxic relationship with love – and all that we associate with it – we innocently learn and engage in unhealthy behaviors (like pretending) from our earliest days in attempts to feel or “have/get” love.

When attention (what we usually mistake as love) is not given and received freely, we innately feel a gap – and we can literally spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out how fill or close that gap. In doing so we often innocently turn to all kinds of addictive behaviors, substances, or dysfunctional coping strategies so that we can experience relief. Our well-being and health suffers, our intimate relationships suffer, our relationship to sexuality suffers – and most importantly our relationship with our self suffers.

Love – what we’ve been after all along – becomes more and more illusive and elusive. We do not find relief. We suffer, and we seek. We seek, and we suffer.

 

The good news: we can get off this toxic merry-go-round.

We can learn about ourselves. We can learn about our attachment styles. We can learn how to engage in healthy behaviors and safe practices. We can learn how to give ourselves relief using kindness and compassion (I literally had to be taught this because I had zero experience of this). We can learn how to slowly and gently find home in our bodies and beings. We can learn how to safely rest in our direct experience of now. We can discover that the true essence of Love is an innocent and profound aspect of this human journey, and it is waiting for us. 

A safe container for us evolve together

Join me in this course as we explore barriers to feeling and experiencing Love, as well as the false meaning-making we’ve given to the word “love.” I will compassionately and gently journey with you as you get to know your innocently developed strategies, core beliefs, and blockages which have contributed to harmful behaviors in an attempt to feel and experience love, but which ultimately yield a sense of separation and pain. Together we will learn that:

  • Seeking relief has been an innocent part of our journey.
  • Acknowledging the toxic dynamics of “love” can be powerfully freeing once spotted and journeyed with.
  • Discovering the true essence of Love is an innocent and profound aspect of this human journey.

This course will utilize embodied practices, including the Living Inquiries, the N.O.W. practice, natural rest, breathing techniques, and some gentle experiential practices designed to safely explore your various experiences – shame, depression, anxiety, compulsions, identities, body contractions, debilitating thoughts and/or memories and more. You will also become familiar with the nervous system, vigilance centers, the fight-flight-freeze responses, attachment theory, and will learn about ways to support and be kind and loving with your self. Lastly, you will get to experience the different inquiries first hand, and be able to practice skills for learning how to self-inquire.

I will be facilitating and guiding you in practices which will start to re-wire your nervous system and limbic system in ways that are profound.

You will have recordings so that you can practice on your own between class dates, which will help replace old habitual behaviors with new useful behaviors. All of this will set the stage for deeper self-intimacy and knowing, with compassion and love.

 

Course Information:

When: February 2nd, February 16th, March 2nd: noon-2pm EST.

This course is purposefully spread out with two weeks between each group so you will have time to explore and learn about yourself. There will be some books suggested, but nothing required.

Where:  This is an online course. I use Zoom, which is similar to Skype. You can attend from anywhere in the world using a phone, iPad type of device, or computer.

What: On top of the 3 group sessions, you will receive a total of six individualfacilitations: Four with Senior Facilitator Trainer Lisa Meuser and two facilitations with Certified Living Inquiries Facilitators. The investment is $495. This counts as a prerequisite for applying for the Living Inquiries facilitator training.

Scholarship spots available by application as a part of my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

Also included is free attendance to the January, February and March Embodied Gatherings. January 13th, 27thand February 10th, 24th– 1-2:15 pm EST. (March TBA)

All classes will be recorded so if you are unable to attend one, you’ll receive the recording. Also included in the course will be multiple natural rest and guided rest audios and videos, and a private FB group for participants to share and receive support.

Space is limited.

Please email me for questions. llmeuser@me.com

 

 

Heart-Work; Guiding us Forward

This was first published on the Living Inquires web site as Part 2- Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution; It’s Time.

Artist: Laura Hilferty

I wrote a blog post back in August about the importance of doing heart-work for social activists, lest we become burned out on despair and/or anger. Titled “Part 1, of 2: Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution”, it shared my own journey of heart-work, which took me straight into anger and then back out into deep and radical love. As I journeyed, this wisdom found me:

“I value my own heart so much that I must pause with and for her health before I do anything else.”

There was much left to be said, so at the end of that post I promised a part 2, which would continue to explore the radical act of heart-work, why it’s needed for evolution, and how to keep heart-work and social justice a sustained part of your life.

But I got a little delayed.

The overwhelming feedback from part 1 was that I needed to write more about anger; people were afraid of their anger, not sure how to handle it, and had some blockages to allowing anger, and so I wrote “The Gift of Consciously Connecting to Anger, aka Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution Part 1.5”. In part 1.5I shared my own journey illustrating how anger is an appropriate and healthy response to injustice that can actually empower us. I went onto explore how allowing ourselves to journey into anger doesn’t mean we necessarily disconnect from love. Love is big enough to hold it all.

Then I got delayed again, as my clients and gathering group members were sharing their experiences with sleepless nights, and so I wrote “Sleepless Nights: When a Curse Becomes a Gift”.

It’s time to return to part 2.  This is a stand-alone piece, but in order to grok “heart-work” see my first piece, for an experiential sharing.

Thanks for your patience. ❤

 

Part 2

Heart-work, mysterious work

Sometimes our greatest “doings” come from within our deepest Being. In my experience these impacts can be profound, albeit mysterious.

Perhaps a part of what makes heart-work challenging is because itissomewhat mysterious,and maybe in that, a bit risky. In part one I shared the discovery that when I gave myself permission to hate, love found me. Deeply found me.While this may make sense in some ways, it likely seems more counterintuitive.

By giving myself permission to hate, love will find me? Are you sure?

This is my lived experience, as counteractive as it may sound. I’ve found that there is a mysterious sense of redemption that happens when I go deep into the caverns of my heart and into what ever is there, even hate. It’s not always easy – sometimes I have a lot of resistance and need the support of others to help guide me. Other times there is simplicity and a readiness to step right in on my own.

While it may not often be easy, after doing many years of intense embodied self-study my system has learned that it’s safe. This is important. It is my experience that when there is safety, there is an inexplicable knowing that makes surrendering into life – into Love – possible.  Safety is a huge part of this journey. If this is a new topic for you,or something you’d like to learn more about, please contact me or see my KISS list at the end.

 

What is heart-work?

 Heart-work, simply said, is starting with, or at the least, always including, energy of the heart. While our culture is largely intellect or mentally based, heart-work is body and wisdom based. While our culture is mainly past or future based, fixated on complication, heart-work is present based, connecting with what is simple.

Heart-work, generally speaking, is not easy: it’s actually counter to what our capitalist culture teaches. Heart-work is life giving and life fulfilling in its honoring and allowance of the individual, where I am free to be my fully human self. My hate and rage is welcome in the heart space within me. Tears of grief and trembling releases of fear are welcome here. Joy, celebration and happiness are welcome here too. Heart energy includes the entire being – from the toes to the head and everywhere in between. Somehow the heart space holds it all, until, if we are patient to go deep enough, there is nothing left but love or Beingness.

Sometimes the ‘doing’ that comes from deep inner journeying is enough.  Other times it is the springboard or foundation which births more externalized doings. It is no easy thing to blindly stay with the present moment and go into discomfort and socially stigmatized emotions, but in my experience heart-work, or the path of love, invites just that.

I understand that this is not everyone’s path, and for that I’m grateful – because thank goodnessto those on the front lines. I know not everyone has the luxury and/or the time and/or the know-how or desire to deeply feel, but instead know how to deeply act. I cannot bow down to them enough, and I am in full support of outwards actions. As for me, I don’t have that resilience anymore, unlessI tend to my heart first.

“I value my own heart so much that I must pause with and for her health before I do anything else.”

ThenI can, and I do, act outwardly.

 

A New Way

If you are the kind of person who can have the most impact by jumping to action first, then JUMP! Again, I honor your role in this life.

AND, dare I say to all of us who want to move from the toxicity of our culture towards something completely different:  We can’t push through and avoid ourselves – not love ourselves- if we are truly wanting to make change. So please, include your own well-being, as you work for the well-being of others.

Disconnecting from our true well-being is the old way. That is the way of the patriarchy, of powering over, objectifying, and monetizing everything, of valuing thinking, thinking, thinking! over the heart.  The old way doesn’t support love, intrinsic worth and value, inclusivity, and the unity of interweaving life.

The old way is life taking – it is death itself. The new way focuses on doings, actions and humaning that are truly life giving as it moves further away from the dysfunction of our current cultural paradigm and into creating something sustainable and loving.

Controlling and killing others is no longer what I want to participate in.

Utilizing internal resourcing, along with clear head and heart energy, ushers in the wise use of creativity and curiosity in living together on this planet. This is what calls me, as opposed to using control and force.

 

The Heart Path

When I say heart path, I’m not saying – “let’s just all sit around and feel into our hearts all day!” whilst singing Kum-ba-yah.  I’m saying, let’s includeheart energy all day,or as much as we can muster, as we go about our activism or social justice activities.

Our current toxic culture insists that the head or the intellect lead. Yet, the space of the mind alone is limited and is often absent of good intent, or what Buddhists call right action. The mental route is often exclusive, based on limited notions of right/ wrong/ good/bad. It is restrictive, rigid and dual.

The heart path invites heart energy to lead, knowing that the mind and wisdom will follow. When I start with the heart, what makes its way to the mind will quite often come easily, creatively, and with a new and renewed sense of empowerment because the space of the heart is limitless and abundant. The route of the heart is inclusive, curious, compassionate… and courageous.

It is also a route that has within it uncertainty and unfamiliarity.  While the mind promises that it will solve problems, the territory of the heart isn’t linear, nor does it guarantee. It’s risky, open-ended, and wild.And that is why the path of the heart is considered the path of the courageous warrior – who doesn’t use a sword to kill and destroy, but to gently open and create.

It’s why, when I was confronted with opening my heart deep and wide (See Part 1), an existential fear arose…  Going into the heart requires a leap of faith of sorts, because it is the territory of expanse, of ‘more’, of newness… and that requires a letting go and surrendering – two things almost all human beings struggle with.

 

Love is not neat and tidy, nor is the heart

Going into the heart can be messy. We humans like to know what we’re doing, why, and what for. If we know we’re going to get something out of surrendering, then we’re down for it. But surrendering without a promise of something?  It starts to feel like going down into a sewer tunnel, with no knowledge of what the hell might be in there, and if it will ever end. That’s where a certain kind of trust, faith, or Knowing comes in.

The more one explores from the present moment and the heart the more one knows s/he will live through it and the more safe it feels to do so.  Knowing, trust, or having faith doesn’t always make it easier in the moment – but maybe it’s lingering just close enoughto make a difference. What is more motivating perhaps, is the understanding that I know what the alternative is – it’s our current culture: it’s death.

Taking a step into our own hearts provides us with an opportunity to deeply connect with our planet, with each other, and with ourselves. Feeling these deep connections, we are prepared to creatively, curiously and sustainably find new solutions to old problems – solutions that are not founded in the very same toxic approaches that have created the problems at hand.

 

Heart-work for the future

It is my experience that we must step outside the old paradigm to find new solutions on a macro level, and so it goes on a micro level. If we can, we must take a moment to pause, and go inward, before we go to automatic pilot and charge outwards. Countless numbers of us have tried that route, and it is not sustainable or healthy. The life of our planet and of humanity depends on not repeating the old, but communally engaging in something new.

You might say you don’t have time to take care of yourself, however, this mindset is part of the old paradigm. If we don’t take time to honor and love ourselves, we unwittingly add to the current state of affairs. Heart-work is political: our current culture hopes we will never take time to honor and love ourselves, it doesn’t want us to be healthy and resourceful human beings.

Heart-work is political, and also practical. We all know political activists, or have been them ourselves, who have gotten burned out. We care so much, and there is so much to feel, that it becomes too much. We get bogged down by our anger, lost in our outrage, and find ourselves bitter and/or hopeless. Sometimes we find ourselves giving up or shutting down. Other times we may disconnect from the world and isolate ourselves.

If one does not allow one’s emotions to be felt, internally expressed,and validated, then the amount of flow one experiences is impacted. Without the movement throughthere is a stacking up, which can easily result in overwhelm, leading one to simply give up or shutt down.

Heart-work, because it is based in allowance and inclusivity, welcomes the anger, welcomes the despair, and welcomes the overwhelm and says, “rest here for awhile.”

Heart-work allows fighting energy, tired energy, as well as the peaceful energy. It is sustainable because it is inclusive, based upon the moment, and on the needs of each unique individual and where they are on their journey. It is sustainable because it allows for respite and nurturance.

 

KISS: Keep it simple sweetheart

Heart-work is practical and simple, and at the same time new to most of us. If you are new to connecting to your inner terrain there are options for learning this new paradigm. They all include getting to know yourself:

  • Attend a mindfulness or meditation class
  • Hire a professional to assist you in navigating your emotional wellbeing
  • Learn how to somatically inquire into your experience
  • Take a yoga class
  • Spend some time outdoors
  • Eat good food, and drink lots of water
  • Explore journaling
  • Join support groups
  • Ask a friend to hold space for you
  • Explore your sense of safety in your body/being; learn how to feel and be safe
  • Build your curiosity muscle. Here is a blog that talks about curiosity.You can also search for curiosity on my blog site, as I write frequently about getting to build a relationship with curiosity.
  • Learn healthy ways to release emotions/support your emotional wellbeing
  • Exercise can be a powerful way to connect to repressed or active emotions (running up hills is a favorite of mine)
  • Work through your trauma with a skilled somatic therapist or facilitator

 

It’s Time

Heart-work has given me the courage to be a change agent. Waking up is a political act, and in my experience heart-work is a crucial part of embodied wakefulness. Journeying into my heart has given me tremendous freedom to act, create, to be. Heart-work has led me to discover my true nature, and has allowed me to be more available for the hearts of others.

It seems to me that we have been preparing for a new heart-work based culture for a while. Mindfulness classes are taught in many schools. Bodywork is now recognized as an important part of physical health. Yoga and body consciousness have become mainstream. Even science confirms that it’s important to slow down, breathe, and take care of our internal mechanisms, as stress is linked to the six leading causes of death.

Should we accept the mission, heart-work might just be the next step in human evolution. Will you take it?

 

 

December Gathering: Safety During the Holidays

It is a safe human being who can humbly know one’s true nature.

 

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our wellbeing. We come to learn about ourselves, together. We gather to become more intimate with, and more available for, our life. For those who would like support in their journey, here’s an affordable option.

***The Holidays can be a particularly challenging time for feeling safe! We will focus the December (and November 30th) gatherings on feeling safe throughout the holidays.***

 

Safety is important. Our bodies, our spirits, and our psyches function with more wellbeing when safety is known from within.

We live in a culture that often disempowers and creates stress- and doesn’t teach us how to feel safe from within. Our culture teaches us to find safety in people, places, and in superficial doings and things. But it doesn’t teach us sustainable, empowering safety from the inside out.

Without this knowing, we often don’t know how to cope with being in an overwhelming world, or how to recover from traumatic experiences. We have forgotten that safety is possible, or maybe we’ve never known safety. Many of us have developed posttraumatic stress as a result.

 

We can learn. We can learn to slowly and gently know that safety is here. We can safely get to know safety.

 

We come together to find safety in our experiences, to discover that we are safe- even when we have trauma or loud core stories.

 

In this groupwe honor our experiences and we learn how that we don’t have to pretend or hide- or run. We gather to intimately connect and explore the nature of being human. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are.

 

All are welcome here regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender or background. You are important, and appreciated, whoever you are.

 

 

From past participants:

“It is quite breathtaking to experience you working with a group; watching and listening to your communion with who-they-really-are. You have a gift, Lisa.”

 

 “You represent what Adyashanti talks about:  “A safe place for the world to come and rest.” You are that safe, benign presence in the world.”

 

 

Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. I always facilitate a guided rest. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. Sometimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Other times I share ways to assist with self-inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. Participation is always optional.

 

Please contact me with questions: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

 

 

Upcoming dates: December 9 and 23rd, 1-2:15pm EST. You can come to one or both.  We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep.

(Future Dates: January 13 and 27, 1-2:15pm EST, February 10th, 24th– 1-2:15 pm EST.)

 

Investment: Sliding scale based on income: $10- $25 per gathering. To sign up please send PayPal to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link.

Free with the upcoming Deepening Course,  Discovering the Embodiment of Love.  Email me for details.

No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Scholarship spots available by application as a part of my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

 

To learn about me: http://integrativehealingnow.com/about.html

To read more about embodiment

For more, visit my blog, where I write almost exclusively about embodiment

 

November Gathering; discovering safety together

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our wellbeing. We come to learn about ourselves, together. For those who would like support in their journey, here’s an affordable option.

Please note: I’m experimenting with a different day/time. Please see below for details.

 

Safety is important. Our bodies, our spirits, and our psyches function with more wellbeing when safety is known from within.

We live in a culture that often disempowers and creates stress- and doesn’t teach us how to feel safe from within. Our culture teaches us to find safety in people, places, and in superficial doings and things. But it doesn’t teach us sustainable, empowering safety from the inside out.

Without this knowing, we often don’t know how to cope with being in an overwhelming world, or how to recover from traumatic experiences. We have forgotten that safety is possible, or maybe we’ve never known safety. Many of us have developed posttraumatic stress as a result.

 

We can learn. We can learn to slowly and gently know that safety is here. We can safely get to know safety.

 

Scott Kiloby wrote me:

“I see so many people want to be free but stop as soon as the trauma or core story really starts to come up. Then they run.  I think it would be great idea for you to do a group, gently guiding people…

We come together to find safety in our experiences, to discover that we are safe- even when we have trauma or loud core stories.

In this groupwe honor our experiences and we learn how that we don’t have to pretend or hide- or run. We gather to intimately connect and explore the nature of being human. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are.

All are welcome here regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender or background. You are important, and appreciated, whoever you are, whatever you believe.

From past participants:

“It is quite breathtaking to experience you working with a group; watching and listening to your communion with who-they-really-are. You have a gift, Lisa.”

 “You represent what Adyashanti talks about:  “A safe place for the world to come and rest.” You are that safe, benign presence in the world.”

Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. I always facilitate a guided rest. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. Sometimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Other times I share ways to assist with self-inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. Participation is always optional.

There are no requirements to attend: anyone who is interested in becoming more intimate with themselves and becoming more available for their life is welcome.

Please contact me with questions: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

Upcoming dates:November 11that 5pm EST (please note new day and time) and November 30,1:30-2:45 EST. You can come to one or both.  We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep.

Investment: Sliding scale based on income: $10- $25 per gathering. To sign up please send PayPal to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link.  These are free to those in my current deepening courses.

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

To learn about me: http://integrativehealingnow.com/about.html

To read more about embodiment

For more, visit my blog, where I write almost exclusively about embodiment

 

Sleepless Nights: When a Curse Becomes a Gift

This was first published on the Living Inquiry web site as “Waking Up In the Midst of Sleepless Nights (and PTSD)”

 

 Artwork by Stefan Armoneit

 

Last night was the first night in awhile where it was cool enough to keep my bedroom door open. Delight!

And!

It also led to me waking up quite a bit during the night. This led to  experientially connecting with a question that came up in a recent gathering:

 

What can I do when waking up in the middle of the night?

Waking up in the middle of the night can happen for different reasons, and when that waking happens it can catch us in different states.  Sometimes we just need to reposition the blanket, or simply roll over, and we fall back into sleep. Other times we find ourselves jolted awake, and/or restless and weary. Rarely do we care about the former, but the latter can make for some challenging nights, and exhausting days.

It’s the staying awake that bothers most of us.

 

What wakes us in the first place?

Practically speaking it can be useful in exploring why we wake up in the first place.

I can’t imagine listing all the possible factors that lead us to waking, but I think naming some of them can be helpful. There are factors happening within us that contribute to our waking: the dreams we’re having, the state of our mind before going to bed, the state of our bodies, the level of stress or anxiety experienced during the day, the food we have eaten, our digestive systems, needing to use the bathroom…  And then there are all the miscellaneous external factors: pets, children, weather, house noises and so on.

Some of these factors are random, like the occasional thunderstorm or the extra helping of chili reeking havoc on the digestive system. Other factors are more systemic and seem to be directly related to stress.

 

Stress and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS[1])

 We all know that stress can cause wakefulness as well as lead to insomnia. When I speak with people I often find that behind the scenes of their wakefulness is some kind of overt or covert stress.

Weather woke me last night, but it reminded me of a time when I was experiencing a lot of PTS and I frequently woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time falling back to sleep because there was so much stress in my system. While waking up in the middle of the night may not be a big deal for you, I’m going to share my journey as it has a lot of practical application.

During that time, period I was literally my own science experiment as I was constantly trying new and different things.  While waking up in the middle of the night was originally anxiety provoking and often terrifying, it wound up taking me on a journey where I discovered practices that changed my life and led me deeper into self-care and self-love. It was a life altering process.

 

What did I do?

I did a lot.

I utilized different herbs, vitamins and minerals (along with simple rest/meditations) throughout the day to help balance out my system so that my body wasn’t in overload when I went to bed. I also took natural remedies before going to bed to specifically aid with sleep.  I mention these things because stress and PTS is hard on the nervous system, and sometimes articles offering practical advice (diming lights/not using electronics at night, exercise during the day, aromatherapy, soothing music, etc) don’t include the nutritional needs of the nervous system.

Taking care of my nutritional needs often helped me obtain full nights of sleep, but I still sometimes found myself awake- uncomfortably awake. Simple breathing practices often helped but other times I would toss and turn desperate for sleep, not knowing how I’d make it without another decent night of sleep. That initial sense of desperation was a sign that my nervous system was already out of balance, which made it highly susceptible to even more distress.

Those middle of the night awakenings were often the most challenging part of having PST. I dreaded finding myself awake in the middle of the night because of how triggered I might find myself. My deepest fears would often surface if I didn’t quickly fall back to sleep: being abandoned/rejected/isolated, being attacked by my abuser, and being power over-ed or unable to find my agency/resourcing to “fight back.”  Few of these things made sense rationally, nor would arise during the day, but in the dark of the night my subconscious and unresolved trauma was often loud.

 And I mean loud.

When my nervous system was in overwhelm, my mind would kick in and I would be overcome by irrational thoughts. I would re-live events and painful scenarios. I often felt deep fear or restlessness, literally feeling terrorized by my mind.

 

Thinking strategies and somatic fear

When our bodies are in a state of fear, imagined or real, resourcing goes to our reptilian brain- the parts of our brain that are connected to survival/staying alive- as opposed to the parts of the brain responsible for spaciousness, awareness and curiosity[2]. This would be great news if a tiger was chasing us (who needs to be calm and present while running for their lives?) but when this happens while lying in bed it can be a pretty unbearable experience.

We’re already a culture that mainly relies on the strategy of thought, but doing so without the benefits of creativity and spaciousness makes for a very distressed nervous system. Not feeling safe to connect with our stress filled bodies, we think, think, think- and then we think some more. We’re literally convinced thinking will save us from the fear we’re experiencing because being present to a body that is overwhelmed seems out of the question.

 

The seeming impossible is actually the most sustainable option

With fear chemicals streaming through the body, feeling into that chemically invaded body seems like the least safe route.  But unless there is actually a tiger chasing us, that’s really our ticket to freedom. We must learn how to feel. In order to do that, we must learn that it’s safe to feel, even when our minds are telling us that we are not safe.

As the fear chemicals flowed through me I knew I had to find a way to gently relate with my physiology before getting sucked into the thinking mind that was convincing me of horror stories.

 

Experimenting with somatic practices. 

Somatic practices have been a part of my life for a very long time, but my circumstances motivated me to take my practices to another level. PST disrupts feeling safe, and so a crucial part of my somatic journey was going very slow and being very gentle in finding a sense safety in my being.

Learning the science behind what I was experiencing helped me understand that what I was experiencing was a trauma/PTS response.  This helped me to understand that I was not inactual danger, but perceived danger which allowed me to feel safe enough to try new things- like slowly and gently staying withthe physiological experiences I was having.

I learned how to get curious and be simple: I’d find my toes, my fingers, my pelvic floor, and/or whatever felt safe to connect with. I’d breathe. Each time I found myself awake I’d curiously connect with whatever felt safe to feel/attend to. If it felt right, I’d involve my breath, and breathe into parts of my body. If it felt too triggering to connect to my chest or core, I would just stay with feet, or fingers, or limbs. I’d cycle back from my spinning thoughts to my body over and over and over. I fell back to sleep hundreds of times doing this practice. It became easier and easier.

I spent a lot of time during the day and at night gently exploring sensations, noticing what felt safe and what didn’t feel safe. I did somatic based inquiry during the day, and eventually during the night, to explore what was leading me to believe I wasn’t safe and to make meaning of this. I started to learn that I could have sensations that did not feel safe, while feeling save to have them.

Each time I stayed with challenging sensations I learned that I was experiencing something temporary. Each time I lived through a difficult experience I learned that it was safe to stay with something that felt scary. Eventually I learned how to be present with all that was happening when I would go into a full PTS response in the middle of the night- the thoughts, the sensations and the memories.

I became more and more resourced, more and more able to have the ability to interject and interrupt the fear responses that were happening. I slowly developed a relationship withfear and the stories, instead of being consumed by them. This was huge for my nighttime waking and also huge in my trauma recovery.

Over time, I felt safe in my body, even during the most fear-ridden moments- even when my body was shaking uncontrollably, releasing trauma[3]. After living through so much, some part of me trusted that I would be ok. Eventually waking up no longer trigger dread, but instead offered an invitation to feel more deeply into the belly of the beast and into my earliest childhood trauma.

 

Life emerged in the terror

Some of my greatest healings happened in those dark moments. I fought my demons, my greatest childhood fears and terrors, and I survived.  When I would find myself tossing and turning in my bed, desperate for sleep, not knowing how I’d make it without another decent night of sleep, I turned to my practices.

I remember a pivotal moment in my healing journey.

Although I was well into my healing journey, and the PTS was less, I still was having a lot of intense dreams that involved my abuser. One night, while still dreaming, I was able to consciously engage with my sleeping/dreaming self. I was able to remind my dreaming self that I could find refuge in my body, and was not victim to the stories and thoughts playing out in my mind.  “This is not actually happening. You are safe to breath the body that is here and now,” was the subtext. From then on, when I was awake in the middle of the night my body became my refuge from my spinning thought filled mind. I was able to be present with myself even when I was experiencing a sense of child-like terror. After a while there was nothing too intense that I couldn’t be present with, and that increased sense of agency[4]and resourcing literally changed my life. I was able to truly face my most horrible childhood fears and trauma, and the PTS shifted dramatically after that.

As odd as it may sound, those sleepless nights led me to Wake Up to a different way of being. My thinking mind, which had once been the safest place for me to “go” because what I was feeling was so intense, was no longer that refuge. Thoughts no longer delivered relief or provided solutions and even in fear states I was able to recognize that thoughts would not save me.  As that was seen through, my being became safe to reside in and with.

 

Embodiment is practical

Connecting with my body became the way I learned how to fall back to sleep (and go to sleep when I first go to bed), and generally speaking continues to be my “go to” when I wake up in the middle of the night. How that looks in action can be varied. Last night I woke to the wind blowing through the trees and as I melded my conscious attention with the sounds they lulled me back to sleep quickly and with ease.

Other times I might find myself unable to fall back into sleep.

Just a few nights prior I woke up and after trying my usual “connecting to breath and being” approach found myself still awake. I tried listening to the sounds of the nighttime creatures singing their symphony outside my window, and that didn’t lull me back to sleep either.

I considered reading as I find that this is a good option for me when I wake and it doesn’t seem that I’m going to fall back to sleep. If I can get over the fact that I may not have a full night of sleep and might be a little tired the next day, I often enjoy reading or writing in the quiet of the night. I have often found that giving my mind something to do, like reading, keeps the thinking part of me occupied so that other parts of my attention are free to connect my body. While part of my mind is engaging in words, other parts are connecting to my breath, pelvic floor, legs and feet. This is often very helpful in switching what feels like “head energy” into calm and present body energy.

I turned on my night lamp, but I noticed that I was too tired to read so I turned it off and tried again. After a few moments I discovered that my mind was even more awake, and while I may have been too tired to read, I was not too tired to think!

My “laundry list” of things to do was annoyingly popping into my attention like popcorn on the burner. I wrote them down so that my mind did not have to hold them (I have found this repeatedly helpful during the day and if I wake up at night).  They continued to come but instead of resisting them I just let them be, and at the same time I kept bringing my attention to my breath, and my body.

I patiently and curiously returned to this cycle many times and was disconnected from it many times by thoughts. I just kept reconnecting. The rhythmic cycle of my breath eventually lulled me back to sleep, but it took a while.  It is not that different than times during the day in which I find my attention caught in a mental whirlwind: over and over come back to breath, to body, to the here and now.

 

Night into Day into Life

I love that the night time wakings have shown me value and insight with regards to how to be in my day time wakings: curiously conscious and present to what is happening, as it’s happening. In fact, how I was able to make it through those PST/stressful nights is quite similar as to how one might make it through PTS/stressful days.

I find the reminder to keep reconnecting extremely practical whether it’s during the nighttime or during the day. I get disconnected from my being a million times a day. The invitation is to re-connect, over and over and over. This builds a safe and relational way of existing and being present. Instead of trying to avoid or change my experience I am able to relate and be withmy present experience directly as it is happening.

Whether it’s daytime or the middle of the night, I find it very useful to have the internal resourcing to identify what I enjoy, what makes me feel comfortable, and is soothing or/and safe. This requires that I have some self-awareness and that is a big part of the process!

In my nighttime healing journey I discovered a deeper sense of agency and self-connectedness allowing me to identify and turn towards what nourished me. I was then able to have the resourcing to, find fingers that felt safe, for example, or feet that felt safe. This was a crucial component of my healing and it continues to be an important aspect of self-care and self love.

This sense of agency and self connectedness shifted my world from being at the mercy of “out there”, and the thoughts and imagery that referred to an out there, to a deep sense of coming home “here.”  I continue to come home to myself- to attend to and love myself- any time I feel a sense of disconnect. I am grateful.

 

Last notes on wakefulness practicality

 There are so many more things I could write about with regards to waking up at night, but for now I’m going to list some tried and true strategies that I’ve used over time, many of which as self explanatory.

  • Watching TV or a movie. In some of my worst nights I put on a comedy that occupied me mentally so that my body could get a break from incessant thoughts.
  • Listening to music.
  • Listening to a recorded rest or mediation. I often guide myself through rests/meditations, but sometimes it’s just nice to let someone else do this. I have hundreds of recorded rests/meditations- feel free to email me.
  • Leading myself through a breathing or rest practice, or prayer.
  • Reading or journaling
  • Changing positions in bed or changing sleep locations or clothing.
  • Getting up for a drink or a snack.
  • Doing something practical around the house.
  • Gentle yoga or stretching.
  • Cool water on the face or behind the neck.
  • Resetting the house temperature: making it cooler in my room makes it more enticing to snuggle under the covers, which often gets me back to sleep.
  • Changing something up in the room- opening or closing window/using noisemakers or light blocking blinds.
  • Not looking at the clock or phone until it’s clear that I’m not going to fall back to sleep. Keeping my eyes closed has been instrumental in getting back to sleep quickly.
  • Redirecting attention from what feels like “head energy” into that which grounds me. This may include bringing attention to lower parts of the body: into the feet, the legs, the pelvic floor, or the lower belly. It may involve grounding to in something more energetic that is running through me/as me.
  • Connecting to an energetic presence or space that exists “around” me- that energy that seems to hold all that is, and is “greater” than me. This was helpful in a practical way when I had vertigo and would feel somewhat dizzy when I woke in the middle of the night. Instead of trying to get rid of the dizzy feeling I connected to something greater than me that was holding all of me. It was extremely powerful to rest in that energy while I was experiencing physical dis-ease.
  • Use compassion and mindfulness to support the body as it may shake, twitch, tighten, hold, release and so on. Email me if you’d like support with this.
  • Do some simple inquiry as it resonates for you. If you tend to make not sleeping a problem in and of itself you can try these inquiry questions: “Who is the one not able to sleep? Is there a threat in not sleeping?”  If you feel equipped you can go into deeper inquiry questions with regards to what you’re experiencing. If you’d like specific assistance with this please send me an email.
  • Know when to get help. Nighttime is often when parts of our subconscious arise into conscious attention. Without training, practical experience or an ability to connect with a sense of safety it can be very hard for one to hold space for un-integrated experiences and trauma. Finding someone to help you journey through what is literally keeping you up at night can be invaluable on a variety of levels.

 

I’d love to hear about your own journeys with sleep, or if you’d like to hear something more on this topic please let me know! In the mean time, notice how your nighttime and your daytime adventures weave through each other in curious, mysterious, and relevant ways!

 

(For those of you waiting for part 2 of my Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution series, it’s coming!)

[1]I used PTSD in the title because most people know what that is. I’m dropping the D, because I don’t think we always need to label our experiences based on the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). From here on out I use PTS, to refer to “posttraumatic stress”.  For what it’s worth, my own experience was more akin to complex PTS, but for simplicity sake I simply used PTS in this writing.

[2]This is a basic explanation. For more information I recommend Buddha’s Brainby Rick Hanson to most of my clients and course participants.

[3]Although it can be unnerving to experience the body spontaneously shaking, it is normal for the body to shake when trauma is being released. If you’d like more information on how to support the body through this natural release mechanism please send me an email.

[4]By “agency” and “resourcing” I am referring to a source of support and wisdom that flows from within.

October Embodiment Gathering: Safety Exploring our Humanity Together

Support yourself in becoming truly available for your life.

 

Artist: Elisabeth Moss: “In Presence We Bloom” www.elisabethmoss.com

 

 

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our wellbeing. We come to learn about ourselves, together. For those who would like support in their journey, here’s an affordable option.

 

Safety is important. Our bodies, our spirits, and our psyches function with more wellbeing when safety is known from within.

We live in a culture that often disempowers and creates stress- and doesn’t teach us how to feel safe from within. Our culture teaches us to find safety in people, places, and in superficial doings and things. But it doesn’t teach us sustainable, empowering safety from the inside out.

Without this knowing, we often don’t know how to cope with being in an overwhelming world, or how to recover from traumatic experiences. We have forgotten that safety is possible, or maybe we’ve never known safety. Many of us have developed posttraumatic stress as a result.

 

We can learn. We can learn to slowly and gently know that safety is here. We can safely get to know safety.

Scott Kiloby wrote with me:

I see so many people want to be free but stop as soon as the trauma or core story really starts to come up. Then they run.  I think it would be great idea for you to do a group, gently guiding people…

 We come together to find safety in our experiences, to discover that we are safe- even when we have trauma or loud core stories.

 

In this groupwe honor our experiences and we learn how that we don’t have to pretend or hide- or run. We gather to intimately connect and explore the nature of being human. In a world where it is not always easy or safe to be vulnerable, we learn that it is possible and loving to do so. We come to learn about ourselves, together. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are, and that we are indeed safe to be.

From past participants:

 “It is quite breathtaking to experience you working with a group; watching and listening to your communion with who-they-really-are. You have a gift, Lisa.”

 “You represent what Adyashanti talks about:  “A safe place for the world to come and rest.” You are that safe, benign presence in the world.”

 Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. I always facilitate a guided rest. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. Sometimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Other times I share ways to assist with self inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. Participation is always optional.

 

There are no requirements to attend: anyone who is interested in becoming more intimate with themselves and becoming more available for their life is welcome. Please contact me with questions: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep.

Upcoming dates: October 5 and October 26,1:30-2:45 EST. You can come to one or both.

Investment: Sliding scale based on income: $10- $25 per gathering. To sign up please send PayPal to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link.  These are free to those in my current deepening courses.   

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

 

To learn about me: http://integrativehealingnow.com/about.html

To read more about embodiment

For more, visit my blog, where I write almost exclusively about embodiment

Consciously Connecting to Anger, aka Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution Part 1.5

Consciously Connecting to Anger, aka Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution Part 1.5

This was originally posted on the Living Inquiries web site as The Gift of Consciously Connecting to Anger.

 

 

Artist: Stefan Armoneit

“Everything’s going pretty well in my life, but I feel **so much anger! **”

“I can’t get past how much anger I feel! I want to feel better, but I am stuck.”

“How can I **not**be angry, have you seen what’s going on in the world?”

“Being angry is a negative emotion and now is not the time to be negative.”

 

 

Feedback

The feedback from “Connecting to the Heart While Connecting to the Pain: Part 1[1]had 1 of 3 flavors, generally speaking.

 

Flavor 1: people wishing they too could move thru their anger in the way I did so as to get to “the good stuff.”

Flavor 2: people subtly moving past the anger stuff so as to get to “ the good stuff.”

Flavor 3: people expressing the sentiment: “damn, this anger is some heavy shit.”

 

Here’s the good news and the bad news:

The good news is that all of it is “the good stuff.” The bad news is that all of it is “the good stuff.”  Yeah, that’s some heavy shit!

 

I promise that Part 2 will be published, but felt writing a 1.5 would be useful.  Anger is a big topic, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so let’s talk about it!

 

Flavor 1:Wanting to move thru anger as to get to the “good stuff.”

I know this flavor well.

Part 1was an example of what’s possible, not necessarily probable, when anger is allowed in and it’s met with loving attention. It’s one example, in a sea of examples. Does it often go that way for me? Well, to be honest, these days yes. But I’ve also spent years lost in an ebb and flow of anger, and that was exactly where I needed to be after decades of being in denial. It was evolution for me to feel safe enoughto be able to connect with my anger, and stay there as long as I needed to. It didn’t always feel good, and it didn’t necessarily feel loving, but it was far more empowering than the hopelessness and despair I’d known.

 

Anger **is** good stuff. Anger is so powerfully good that those in power consistently try to either (1) get us stuck there so that we burn out into powerlessness/ hopelessness  (political/capitalist cultures), or (2) tell us that it’s unhealthy and unattractive (religious/spiritual cultures).

 

Anger is our friend

Anger is an appropriate behavioral response when our safety is at risk, or the safety of someone we love is at risk. Anger is an appropriate response when we are being violated, or when someone is committing violence against others. It is an appropriate response to injustice, to suppression/oppression, to cruelty and brutality. It is an appropriate response to harassment and to domination.

 

Considering that a good many of us have been oppressed, dominated, or violated, is it any wonder that the “powers that be” want us to either get lost in anger so that we get killed or ultimately become docile sheep too tired to fight, or not consider anger as healthy response to our circumstances?

 

Anger is an expressive gift that humans were given to help us process and release. When that gift is taken away, we loose a part of our humanity. Let me say that again: we lose a part of our humanity. Worse yet, we reject a part that we never knew we had. We deny it, and in doing so we deny ourselves.

 

Knowing this, is it any wonder so many are festering with anger- this forbidden but biologically human expression? The dissonance is enough to make one mad! Quite literally.

 

 

It’s never too late

That’s the depressing news, but here is the hopeful news: it’s never too late. It’s never too late to learn how to be angry in a way that feels safe. It’s never too late to feel the anger that we’ve stuffed down for decades, in a way that feels safe. It’s never too late to develop a healthy relationship with anger, so that we neither get lost in it nor deny it. It’s never too late to be friends with anger.  At least that’s my experience.

 

Has it been easy? No. It’s been as hard as hell. It’s been uncomfortable. It’s been scary. It’s seemed nearly impossible. But bit-by-bit – with the amazing support of various allies- my system has learned it is safe, valid, and healthy to connect with anger. I never knew how unbelievably freeing it could be to become friends with anger.

 

So, if you are one who wishes they could move thru their anger to “the good stuff, ” remind yourself that anger **is** good stuff. Once you’ve honored it and allowed it to be, it will not have the same hold over you that it might now. Anger is sacred- it has it’s own timetable. Your anger has waited a long time to be let out of the basement. Get support, and be patient while you learn about yourself- all parts of yourself.

 

 

Flavor 2: People subtly (or not so subtly) want to move past or deny anger so as to “stay in” or get to the “good stuff,” and/or so that they don’t get stuck in “the bad stuff.”

 

I know this flavor well.

 

I won’t spend long here. Bypassing anger is so fervently celebrated in our culture- in all areas- that it has created a complicated web of self-bondage/suffering, often in the guise of happiness/peacefulness. Denying a natural part of who we are creates dissociation and disembodiment, one byproduct being a sleepy mass of people who, well, don’t really live fully on the planet.

 

I often find that at some point in one’s journey anger cannot be denied or moved past any more. The body either starts to rebel (i.e. gets sick), the psyche starts to rebel (i.e. starts to suffer), or the spirit starts to rebel (i.e. wants to die). If one is lucky they will connect with an anger midwife (some kind of guide) who will help them to safely connect to the anger monster that has been locked in their internal basement for their entire lives, refusing to be stuck down there any longer. It is my own experience that it doesn’t take long to understand that the anger monster isn’t a monster at all, but just an energetic presence that is tired of being banished into a musky and dark basement.

 

Exclusion hurts.

 

Flavor 3: “damn, this anger is some heavy shit.”

 

Yup. I know this flavor well, and I’m going to spend a little extra time here because this seems to be what most of the comments were expressing.

 

First a story, then after that, another story.

 

I friend of mine does sacred bodywork- different modalities- with clients. She is very well established with a fabulous reputation in her community. She has worked hard to create clear and strong boundaries, as body workers are known to be easy targets for predator behavior. Let me just say that again: because predator behavior is so common in the realm of body work, she has had to painstakingly and creatively established strong policies in her private practice- so as to keep herself safe– while she offers her sacred gifts to clients[2].

 

Last week she was in a session with a client who she’s seen many times.

She was deeply involved in the sacred work that she does, when out of the blue the client broke the silence and asked her for a hand job. She froze. She went into a fear response.

 

She was clearly not expecting this sacred space to be violated. Despite all the work she’d done to create a safe environment for herself, here was a client exhibiting sexual predator behavior.

 

I’m tempted to side track even morefrom this story to tell you about her elaborate policies that she’s put in place to keep things like this from happening. Why? Some of you reading this will not be able to keep yourselves from blaming my friend. Your first automatic thought will be: what was her role in this? What had she done?

 

To those of you doing that- jumping to her role in this- I so get it!I too have been raised in a cultural climate that blames the victim. I too have had a hard time being able to really sit with the abhorrent dysfunction of our culture’s toxicity, and instead, automatically, without even knowing I’m doing it, put the attention back on the violated. I too have redirected conversation away from toxic behaviors, away from the toxicity of what our culture has produced, and focused on the predator’s prey. I too have been a part of the toxicity in this way- implicitly and complicity. Me too!

 

Last week, however, that was not my response.

 

 

Anger is an appropriate response to dysfunction.

I wasn’t worried- my friend is magnificently well resourced and resilient, and would only grow from this. My response was anger. My response was anger because we live in a culture that blames the violated. My response was anger because in no way was that appropriate in that set and setting. My response was anger because such predatory acts are too common, and too normalized, and too expected. My response was anger because my friend is an amazing healer who does deep and loving work, and does not deserve to be violated by the clients that she is serving. My response was anger because my friend got mad at herselffor having the perfectly appropriate response she had. My response was anger because of how entitled her client was, in his request, and how, perhaps, clueless he was with regards to the impact that this kind of behavior has on a female psyche. My response was anger because of what this culture teaches males, and because of how dysfunctional it is that it has created sexual predators in the first place. My response was anger because of the tendency to spiritualize and trivialize such happenings. My response was anger because of how representative it is. My response was anger because of how this incident echoes the massive existence of other predatory incidents. My response was anger because of all the other levels and layers of dysfunction in our culture that exist and make women scared, in their own sacred spaces, in their own sacred bodies.

 

That’s a lot of anger, huh?  I mean, damn, this is some heavy shit.

 

Writing this now, I can feel the anger. It issome heavy shit, and I can feel it. And I’m grateful that I can feel it… because there was a time when I was so dead inside that I wasn’t able to be angry about things that deserved anger. I’m grateful because I have a system that is safe enough to feel anger when anger is warranted. I’m grateful because I don’t have to pretend and hide from such toxicity any more. I’m grateful because, not having to have to hide from anger, it is no longer a debilitating emotion for me, but a healthy emotional response.

 

I was actually reallyangry.

It had struck a chord within me, and it felt appropriate that it had. I never want to be numb to the dysfunction going on in our world. I never want to fall asleep, and shut down, because of the toxicity that exists in this world.

 

And so I choose to feel. I choose to feel because I have discovered, through my sometimes-painful journey, that I am safe to feel. I am free to feel. What an amazing gift that I have been given. It is the most empowering gift of being human. It is a gift I want everyone to have. It is my life’s work that everyone may know safety.

 

 

What does anger want?

I wasn’t able to go off alone and be physically still with this energy of anger, but I have learned that I almost always have the capacity to connect to my breath and my being regardless of what I’m doing. As I physically moved around in my house I breathed with the energy of anger. It seemed to permeate my being and beyond in vibrant aliveness.

 

Anger, when paid attention to, lands our attention in the body.That’s good news.[3]Bringing attention into my being has a different impact than putting attention into spinning thoughts/stories- I feel more grounded, as opposed to feeling spun out. I can be present, instead of getting lost in stories and fears.

All of the internal work I’ve done has helped me to know that my body is safe to be in.  As such, the energy of anger- as it flowed through my body- was safe as well. I brought attention to my limbs, my belly, my heart… to all the sensations anger seemed to be connected with.

 

It is my experience that anger, and any emotion, wants to be connected with, as simply as possible:  acknowledged, supported, felt, and/or validated. How this comes to happen can be mysterious, and it is not always an easy process. I am grateful that I have the tools and the training to be able to be present with myself. In my experience safety, compassion and love are crucial in being with challenging emotions and in discovering embodiment. The journey is endless.

 

Right next to anger is always something else

We often think that we’ll get stuck forever in a challenging emotional energy if we allow ourselves to “go there.” I think this belief has multiple layers, but one layer is based in the duality of the mind. The mind often sees things as being EITHER this OR that. I used to think that if love existed, anger didn’t. I used to think that if anger existed, love didn’t. I know now that that belief comes from a limited dual perspective, not from truth. Waking up to the lived reality that love includes all has changed my life. In my own experience love is so big that it includesanger.

 

This may not be your experience, but you may notice that while you feel anger, you are also experiencing “not anger.” One way to test this out is to ask yourself where, in your body, you feel the anger. Chances are, you are not feeling only the sensation of anger throughout your entire body from head to toes. Chances are, you are experiencing anger in some ways, and also neutral sensations, or even positive sensations, in other parts of your body- all at the same time.

 

When we’re in a heightened state we may forget that there are other experiences happening, within the particular experience that is filling up our attention. It can be powerful and useful to our nervous system and wellbeing to curiously explore what else is here right now? What else is happening right now?

 

 

Back to love, back to the heart

When my friend told me about her experience I was so very angry, but the anger was never bigger than the heart space I was inside of- it was never bigger than love. That has not always been my experience because of how unsafe it was for me to feel anger. My life is radically different now. I’m grateful that there is such an abundance of love that “even anger” is safe. Perhaps I am able to experience anger becausethe immense depth of love and heart space has revealed itself to me.

 

There is such deep love for all the participants of this story- for my friend and her family (as this one man’s behavior will have an impact on all of them). And yes, also for her client because our current toxic culture creates perpetrators- he too is a victim of this culture. My love extends to all who have found themselves here – few of us have created it; we’re the occupants of a pre-existing toxic culture.  So yes: enormous love goes out to all of us as our hearts and psyches are evolving towards a better way to be in the world.

 

AND, I have anger, because these toxic ways of being in the world are not ok – for anyone. Not ok for her client, or his wife and family. Not ok for my friend. These dysfunctional ways of being in the world are not healthy for anyone. Heart work includes opening oneself wide enough to be able to let it all in: the deep compassionate love, the deep compassionate anger, and so much more. The heart can handle it all.

 

In my experience, being able to consciously connect with anger is truly a gift. It allows us to respond to injustice. It invites us to be a conscious participant in our own experience. It permits us to honor an intended aspect of our humanity. It empowers us and frees of stagnancy and despair. We don’t have to leave the heart to connect with anger. We don’t have to get lost in anger. We can learn to know love andknow anger. We can learn that it is safe to experience both.

 

Part 2

People often want to know how “I handle” challenging emotions or social justice challenges. I think it’s extremely helpful that people have options for providing support in their own unique evolutionary journey. I will talk about this in part 2, and will also dive back into heart work as a continuation of part 1 and part 1.5.

 

I hope this blog post was helpful in revealing that anger can be a valuable and perhaps even necessary part of heart work. As always, I welcome feedback and comments!

 

[1] Also entitled “Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution. Part 1, of 2” on a different web site.

[2]Why have I given you all this information, before telling you what has happened? Why have I gone out of my way to tell you how she’s gone out of her way to have clear boundaries and policies?  Just wait one more moment..

[3]Admittedly, this is not good news for everyone. Connecting with the body is the most challenging aspect of embodiment, and I absolutely honor that it is not always safe for people to be in their bodies, particularly when experiencing strong emotions.