Yearly Archives: 2013

Lisa’s Breath

There is a theatrical performance/movie going on inside my body. I could title mine “Lisa’s breath”.

IMG_0811
If I stop and go inward, and bring my attention to my breath, and then to the sensations “under” the in and out breaths, I will discover hundreds if not thousands subtle “goings ons”.

Try this out yourself. Become quiet: bring your attention to the in-breath, then the out-breath. Then bring your attention to the inner space of the body, and notice how each breath (in and out) has sensations connected to the breathing. Get really curious. Drop the labels and judgements. Stick with the raw sensations.

Notice the movements with such curiosity- as if you’re leaning in to hear a pin drop in the next room. It’s amazing how many movements are present, one flowing to the next, to the next, to the next…. like logs on a stream, floating down a river or stream.

Continue to be curious with the various sensations. Nose hairs. Check bones. Jaw. Shoulders. Arms, Lets. Chest. Stomach. Then drop the labels. Keep following the sensations, wherever they take you. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

Just as thoughts are happening all day long, just as images and pictures arise in the mind all day long, breathing also happens all day long, whether we notice it or not. And also happening all day long are these countess sensations……. Drop your attention into this playground, with simple curiosity. Enjoy. 

If you find yourself getting distracted, or are not able to stop the thoughts/images/labeling long enough to notice the raw sensations, let me know and I will help guide you.

www.integrativehealingnow.com

The Ever Changing You

 

 

trees

 

I’ve been particularly enamored by the trees this fall. I spend a lot of time outdoors, and I have enjoyed watching the gradual shift of colors over time. One of my favorite bits of eye candy are trees with multiple colors. For example, the above trees have green at the bottom, then yellow, into orange, and finally red at the top. I love the variety and expression of colors!
I wonder, would the trees ever judge themselves for being so varied and expressive? I have no idea if trees think in this way, but I sure notice that we humans do. As mentioned in my last blog post, I often criticize myself and others when personalities vary across multiple roles and ways of being.  What a hopeless trap this is, to expect myself or someone else to stay static, in a world that is based on movement and change.

As a side note, something has caught my attention: One sneaky way that I do this to myself is with the label “true self”. How many times have I beat on myself for not being true to myself, for “leaving” myself, for betraying myself? Let’s look closely: is there ever a “true self”? Is it possible for there to be one way of showing up in the world? One role or identity that “defines” who I am as a person?

Looking at the words themselves, “true self” references an absolute existence of something, suggesting a thing which is fixed, perfect, and complete.  Can I be that? Ever? Can something that is constantly changing ever be held to the label of “fixed”?  So right off the bat I’m trying to make my self into something that it cannot be.

I’m more inclined to replace the word “self “ with “nature” due to how self tends to get misconstrued. When I directly look into my experience there does seem to be a “true nature”, but it is not something that is ever content-based. And what that “true nature” is….. well, it’s impossible to really get at with words, but here are some words that myself and others use from time to time: source, this, “beingness,” expression, energy.

There is not a “true me” here somewhere, not one that I can find anyway. There is no one or true way of being. I’m constantly playing out roles, and each role is not my “true self”, it is just one possible expression of being. And yet I make this idea of “true self” to be true quite a bit.

Instead of being fluid with the multitude of roles I play, sometimes I fixate on ways of being and make them mean something as compared to how I see myself, or according to the role I want (see my last blog post). When I do this, I experience self-judgment and/or self-loathing as I’m essentially measuring myself according to a pretend standard, or idea, laden with false beliefs. The more narrow my vision is of who I’m “supposed to be,” the more of my actual true nature is excluded. In that exclusion I am reduced (in my direct experience) to existing in a very small and narrow box. It’s easy to see how suffering is experienced when confined in such a way.

When I experiment with possibilities and ways of being, without demanding that I be one certain way, I can experience life not as static, concrete or certain, but as fluid and expansive. I can then notice that there is no “leaving” myself, ever. There are only moments of fluidity, or moments of holding myself to a standard that is tied to illusionary belief systems.

My true nature is beingness, movement, expression. It’s not a thing, or content-based, but is a verbing, so to speak. There is a vastness here, in each moment that includes everything- not an absolute delineation of right and wrong or good and bad. The mind seems to like to make things absolute, which is why the advice “don’t’ believe everything you think” can be helpful.

The best pointers I’ve experienced for tapping into my “true nature” (into “this”, source, beingness, the expression, or movement) is to deeply inquire and notice: what is limiting, confining, constricting, static? What belief systems, ways of being, roles, sensations, reflect an openness or expansiveness, and which are experienced as closed and constricted? Am I experiencing more inclusion, or exclusion?

I can never really leave myself but I can be dishonest and unaware in my movements. I can be honest with what I am experiencing or wanting or needing. I can play roles without being aware of the play going on. I can have awareness as I play.

I can try to manipulate others and myself into doing things to “get love.” Such dishonesty is not good or bad in and of itself- it’s also one of many ways we show up in the world. It does seem to have suffering as a bed partner though, and keeps me from experiencing the vastness life has to offer. When I’m excluding, I’m back in that box, and I’m not experiencing as many possibilities as I could be.  In my experience, the more I exclude the smaller the box I’m existing in, and the more suffering I seem to experience. The more I open up, the wider the vastness of experience, which coincidentally also seems to bring about pleasure and happiness.

In my own experience, the more I delineate or reduce myself to a particular, to the exclusion of other particulars, the more I seem to experience suffering. The more I experience the vastness, the more expanded I feel, and the more I connect with source, my true nature, which feels expansive.

Try this on for yourself: doesn’t it feel delightful not to make yourself right or wrong? Doesn’t it feel good to acknowledge that you show up in a myriad of ways? That to be human is to experience this variety?  When we don’t try to hold on to one way of being, we naturally seem to relax the critical thoughts. We experience spaciousness and fluidity. Kindness for others and ourselves feels good.

 

www.integrativehealingnow.com

Role playing for love

Roles

I was watching a TV show tonight and was fascinated by the way one of the characters was moving seamlessly in and out of different roles, without judging herself for her oscillating personality variations, ie, how she was showing up in the world. It was especially cool to notice that her peers also didn’t judge her for how she would play out one role, and then switch to another way of being.

I got really curious as I watched this, because I’ve been paying attention to how I switch back and forth between (1) boxing myself and other people into being certain ways and/or (2) changing my role/way of being; and how I’ve done both to feel safe/“get love”, or to avoid being “unloved”/feeling unsafe.

 

Boxing Myself and Other People into Being Certain Ways

I often change roles without self-judgment or even a second thought. But then there are other times when I don’t have that fluidity or flexibility with how I ‘show up’, and also when I want people to show up the same way. It’s as if there are some subtle beliefs at play:

  • Inconsistencies are dangerous
  • Constancy will keep me safe/loved
  • I should be consistent in/committed to “who I am”, (and others should be as well).

I think this is a pretty normal human experience.  I’m sure we’ve all heard or directly experienced someone getting angry with another for changing their mind, or doing something different– almost as if they were a different person from one moment to the next.

News flash! We actually are cellularly different, from one moment to the next. We are constantly evolving, moving, changing, experiencing, “being” in this movement called Life. And yet this constant change can feel unnerving and threatening. There are times when we’d much rather have stasis and consistency, and gleefully wear our “knowing hats” and have some control.

When I notice someone changing his/her behavior, I might notice some resistance to that, as if I’m saying, “Hey! Can you just help me feel some control in this world, and stay the same?!?!?  Please, just be who I want you to be!” Likewise, I might feel that there is more safety in me being a fixed permanent identity. Then I can cling to all that goes into that personality, and again try to hold onto that illusionary control.

The world is constantly changing, and so paradoxically enough, this static way of thinking does not provide safety at all, and instead leads to much frustration, exertion, resentment, and tail chasing.

We think we’d be safer in as fixed personalities, but because there is always movement that fixation leads to suffering as we desperately try to hold on to what has already passed. It’s like getting on an escalator and clinging to the walls, trying to keep from going anywhere. It can’t be done!

What keeps us trying so hard to “hold on”, to what we have known? I’ve noticed that it is usually the desire to be loved, worthy, or safe- all concepts that can’t ever be “given” or “gotten” from anything outside of ourselves. The ever-changing scenery of life can’t be depended upon to give us such conceptually based comforts. Instead we are always guided inward, to see what it is that gets in our way of directly experiencing the felt resonance of what we’d label as love, worth, and safety (or another closely related concept).

 

Changing My Role/Way of Being

I’m actually always moving in and out of different roles and different ways of showing up. It’s a natural expression of evolution. Sometimes it is fluid and not conscious. Sometimes it is done with intention and/or awareness. Sometimes it is in play, with no outcomes desired; other times I actually chase or go after a role, which will give me the illusion of either feeling loved or unloved.

We have all probably had thoughts somewhere along these lines:

“If I act happy, my partner will want to spend time with me.”
“If my child is obedient, then people will think I’m a good mother/ praise me.”
“If I am an authoritarian boss, and my employees listen to me, I’ll berespected.”
“If I’m a good listener, then people will think I’m compassionate.” 

The roles and belief systems vary in those examples, but the desired outcome is the same for all of them- to feel loved/worthy/safe. Also the same is the underlying belief that love/worth/safety is dependent upon their interactions out in the world, including how others perceive them.

If the desired outcome is to get love/worth/safety from others, and I don’t experience that, then I have a couple of options. I can continue to try to get it from outside myself, engaging in self-judgment analysis such as, “I should be more of a listener”, (i.e., “I should be in the role of the one who listens a certain way,” and/or  “I should be different then who I am, because if I am different, then people will love me/I’ll feel worthy/ I’ll feel safe.”)

In doing so, in correlating how I show up with the amount of perceived love/worth/safety I feel from the people/situations around me, I make the expression of showing up a certain way into something bad/wrong. Being busy judging myself will forever discount the love that is inherent to my being already, now, in the myriad of ways of showing up in the world.

The other option is to inquire into these perceptions of lovability/worth/safety in and of themselves.  What thoughts tell me I’m not lovable? What images does my mind conjure up to confirm that I’m not lovable? What am I noticing in my body that seems to be telling me I am SOOOO not loveable?  Are these thoughts, images and sensations really telling me that who I am is unlovable? When closely explored through inquiry, we might experience for ourselves that words/images/energy/sensations in and of themselves don’t convey lovability/worth/safety/threats. 

Looking at all of this has me even more curious about how it would be to play even more roles in the world, with all their various qualities— without pigeon-holing any of them as bad/wrong/unlovable/ lovable. Me as a yelling mom. Am I still loveable? Let me inquire and see.  Me as the fabulous multi-tasker.  Am I loveable or unlovable in that role? Let me inquire inward and see.  Me as the attractive wife. Am I loveable or unlovable? Let me take a look…..   When I think something makes me either lovable or unlovable, it doesn’t matter which, it’s time to do some inquiry, as I’m attaching content and meaning onto words/images or energy.

And then, turning that curiosity outward, also allows others to play all their roles, without making them bad. My friend as the responsible and always-timely mother.  My friend as the forgetful and preoccupied wife. Do their varied roles affect my perceptions of lovability? Let me inquire…..

What would it be like to drop the assumption/belief that we’re unloved/unsafe/unworthy, and allow ourselves to fully and creatively express and accept our aliveness, as it shows up, and play?  One way to find out…… What have you got to lose?

 

 

Blurred Lines of Authentic Expression

 

IMG_5378

I have a client who was biologically born female and changed into a male through hormone replacement and surgery in his early 20s. As he (from now on I will use a female pronoun to refer to the time period before he fully considered himself male, and the pronoun he after that took place) was growing up in a female form, she knew she was different from his peers for the simple reason that she was not attracted to men. She acknowledged her attraction to females in her early teens, was openly gay during high school, and had relationships with females. She continued to feel different, however, feeling she never fit in. She felt rejected at large from society, and even though her family said they accepted her as gay, she never truly felt accepted by them, or good enough. There was a general state of discomfort, of unease, experienced.

There is a lot to this story that is missing with regard to all the various factors that were involved in her decision to become male. For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to fast-forward to current times, a few years after the transformation from female to male took place. When I met Tim  he was seeking services for anxiety. I engaged in a number of different modalities with clients, and after discussing options with Tim, we decided on Living Inquiries, using the ‘anxiety inquiry’ along with the ‘unfindable inquiry’ (www.integrativehealingnow.com/addictions.html).

A lot of Tim’s anxiety was found in self-identification thoughts such as, I’m the one who is a freak, the one who is not good enough, the one who fears rejection, and the one who doesn’t fit in. Such thought patterns and deficiency stories are not unique to Tim— I’ve yet to meet a human on the planet who doesn’t have deficiency stories that they experience from time to time. However, sometimes these stories are very active, and the mind/body then references these stories constantly. These stories start to take a life of their own— as if they really are true— and it can seem to the holder of these thoughts that that they determine our lives and our experiences. The result of this can be anxiety, compulsions, addictions, depression, physical ailment, and so on.

Tim’s deficiency stories from his youth were still quite alive. His current issues were mainly about fitting in, or more accurately, not fitting in. He projected his anger and frustration about this out into the world, onto the various people in his lives— from family members, to people at work to friends/lovers, to large political groups. No matter where he turned, he felt excluded and rejected. And as was stated earlier, Tim had literally changed himself in the biggest way imaginable—his gender. He did this through procedures very painful, in part because he hoped to finally feel accepted, loved, and comfortable in his body. And yet everywhere he turned he was still met with challenging and painful situations that conveyed to him that he was not loved, not accepted, and didn’t fit in.

This is not to say that Tim’s decision to go from female to male was wrong, inappropriate or at all pointless. I want to be very clear about that. There were many factors involved, and I am not suggesting that his decision was made because of deficiency stories. Yet deficiency stories clearly were a significant part of his life. And I couldn’t help think, “what if.” What if we were given the opportunity and support to feel our feelings as we were growing up, going through big life changes such as puberty and adulthood? What if we were safe to question our bodies? Our hormones? Our biological changes and inclinations? What if we got to fully explore our insecurities? What if we got the support to really feel the sensations behind thoughts such as “I don’t fit in!” or “I’m not good enough” or “I feel so alone and unloved.” What if we had support to question the status quo’s expectations of us—all the way from gender related expectations/expression to sexual orientation? (See this awesome chart, which takes a look at these four factors: Gender expression, biological sex, gender identity, and attracted to http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/03/the-genderbread-person-v2-0/ )

I asked a friend of mine to read over this blog post, as she’s experienced a life of gender identification struggles. “The questions around the “what ifs” are deep ones for us all,” she said, “and bring us back to the universalities of identity and how we are raised to view and interpret ourselves and our genders.” Then she shared part of her journey with me.

I started the coming out process in ’97. But I’d been doing research since I left for college in ’93. I didn’t even really know what intersex (then pseudo-hermaphroditism) was. Transsexual was close enough, transgender was some weird thing that was just popping up in forums. We were all still sideshow freaks.

The biggest change for me came when I gave myself permission to be a toddler again and just be myself stumbling through the identity that was stifled since I was 3 or 4 and learned that I was not who I knew I was, was not going to be who I assumed I was going to be, and that I had better change or else. That little preschooler me understood that it wasn’t okay to be herself, so she learned to give everyone what they wanted. I remember spending nights going over the way I talked, the way I walked, how I sat, practicing to get the part right for everyone. But more than anything else, I had given up on allowing myself out of that prison. At 7 I was spending hours at night telling G-d he didn’t exist and begging to die in my sleep. By jr. high, I figured that I had to be insane and was just waiting until I was on my own to do what G-d wouldn’t. I didn’t know about transition, I didn’t know I could insist on living authentically. As far as I knew, I was a unique mistake.

Go, go, higher education to give me some perspective! Even when I knew that I was free of the bonds I had allowed myself to be kept in, I had no idea what to do as a 22 year old toddler. I all of a sudden had to give myself permission to be myself. The chains were gone, but the scars and memory of their constant weight were still felt.

That was/is my journey. Others, in the infinite different situations we develop in, with our unique minds, will need something else. I hope others can reach that point where they feel they are living the most authentic life they can. There’s a lot of stuff people never “should” have had to go through, and a lot of experiences people miss out on. Ultimately, there is no one way to be a man (or woman), and peace has to be made with that, eventually.

Like my friend above, my hope (and my entire healing practice’s focus and purpose) is also that people can live their lives in the most authentic ways possible. In many ways, Tim is being invited back to toddlerhood as we journey together, to explore the stories of his youth. We do this as we explore his deficiency stories, not in a way to necessarily understand or explain or give credence to his journey from female to male, but as a way to see through the various identities he’s created over the course of his life as he was experiencing difficulties growing up. This is not a cognitive approach, but a fully somatic and embodied experience, where he gets to *feel* all the identities/stories he’s created in his mind that are linked to his body’s experience of anxiety and anger and other emotions. In viscerally experiencing the stories of “I don’t fit in” or “I’m not good enough” or “I’m unlovable”, the stories lose “truth”, his experiences of anxiety decrease, and his experiences of satisfaction out in the world and with himself increase. I believe Tim’s story is quite possibly everyone’s story, just change the content a little, and the deficiency stories are found. And I believe living authentically is possible for every one of us.

www.integrativehealing.com

Don’t Make Sense: How to Inquire Into Emotions

When taken to the mind, lots of things don’t make sense.

IMG_0309

Recently, a friend asked me: How do I inquire into a feeling? I had suggested this as a Facebook post, that when a feeling comes up, you shouldn’t take it at its word, at first appearance; instead you should inquire into it further. And then my friend asked: How? So I am providing my answer to that question.

If you have ever done inquiry, you will have found that in and of itself, emotions are raw energy. Emotions are neither good or bad, but sensations. And a sensation is neutral, in that it’s not saying anything. It doesn’t have an opinion.

What seems to happen is that our meaning-making brain takes note of the energy and wants to immediately attach meaning onto it. The whys of this are varied, but in short it can be reduced to a desperate way to find some control. This happens innocently, and starts from an early age. In the Living Inquiries work we call this “the velcro effect.”

I noticed this play out with my 10 year old recently. There are a few bits of information I could share about her current state of affairs that might give shape to the situation, but I think that would actually be defeating my point because it’s not necessarily about the why’s and how’s and other information— it’s often about the energy underneath. And for a 10 year old, who doesn’t want to inquire into the particular thoughts arising, going straight into the energy can be the kindest route.

I listened to her as she shared what she wanted to share. Then I invited her to feel, because in the larger scheme of things she was experiencing lots of energy and emotion and instead of allowing herself to just sit with the energy, she was taking it to her brain, and her brain was fervently trying to make sense of this rather intense energy!

She came to sit on my lap and shared some more things from her mind. After she told me she was feeling sad, I asked her if she could give herself permission to feel her sadness with out her mind trying to make sense of things. She snuggled in and cried for a while. As I held her, I thought of how profound that invitation was: to give ourselves permission to not make sense! When I feel into that invitation, the energy almost instantaneously drops down out of the mind and into the body. The shift is palatable. Spacious.

I continued holding her, and the shift within her was indeed palatable. When she was done the words had faded, and the desire to understand and make sense of things was gone. The emotion of sadness had also dissipated. It isn’t always this easy- for some kids and adults, It’s very challenging to feel sensations/energy as they are in their raw state. In other words (no pun intended), thoughts and images continue to be “velcro’ed” to the energy. In such cases it takes a willingness to slow down to inquire more thoroughly.

Emotions want to be felt. When we give them permission to be felt, without judging them or demanding that they make sense, we give ourselves a tremendous gift. Give it a try. Or get support to assist you.

When your identity is a caregiver, you make yourself another person’s god

IMG_0157

When your identity is a caregiver, you make yourself another person’s god.

I went to my grandmother’s funeral a couple weeks ago. If you ever want to feel at home while embodying your full experience of being, go to a funeral, because just about every expression of being is allowed there. Expressions and movements that might normally get one locked up—or at the very least have a very long string of negatives connotations attached to them—-are widely received. This was my experience anyway. I felt right at home, as I am committed to allowing any and all emotion to move through my “creature” these days. As such, being my usual uninhibited feel-my-feelings-self amongst family members was immensely liberating.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I would have curtailed my emotions. I would have been a “good” daughter, there to support my parents and my aunt in their grieving process. I was raised to be a caregiver, you see. And in my family lineage, we caregivers compartmentalize our own feelings, so that we can take care of others. As a caregiver, you believe you know what other people need, and so you stifle your own emotions and your own needs, so that you can take care of others—- you basically pretend to be God by pretending to know what others need and how you should be for them.

This is, of course, a very convenient way to pretend to have control, and contains within it multiples of excuses to stay in the head, rather than fully connect with the felt-experience of the body. It can allow one to covertly move through the world in fear, but in the guise of love, because in our society what isn’t more “loving” then self- sacrifice and taking care of others? Caregiving is one of the safest identities on the planet, hiding behind “love”, and it’s also probably one of the most debilitating.

I hadn’t realized how much of my caregiving upbringing I had seen through until the other day. I was talking to my mom about her mom dying and the funeral, and she told me that she hasn’t been able to fully process it yet, which is normal, I’m told. But it was what she said next that caught my attention: “I had to hold it together for everyone else”, she said. I immediately recalled how often I’d said those words: “I have to hold it together for everyone else.” I’d pretend to believe this “for the sake of” my daughter, my husband, my brother, my parents, my friends…… I took myself so seriously–I so believed I was another person’s god– that I conveniently believed that stuffing my own feelings down was the right thing to do, because it was my “job” to protect/care/love/etc for others. It was my job to “be strong.”

Caregiving is almost always a self-appointed job, so it self-perpetuated regardless of the external circumstances, reality or actual “need.”

I felt much compassion for my mom after she said those words— words she believed with every cell in her being. She loves her job as caregiver. She loves being the strong one, taking care of me, taking care of my brother, and hundreds of other people in her life. I’m not interested in stripping her of her identities, but I sure am grateful that my identity of caregiver is gradually being stripped away. A nice side effect: not being tied to this identity feels light and free, not attached to outcome or people’s responses to me. And oddly enough, it allows me to really love myself, and to love others with more integrity, sincerity and without expectation of being cared for in return.

http://integrativehealingnow.com

Midwifery for emotions and senstations

IMG_0811
I had a client email me that her friend thinks her daughter needs a drill sergeant approach, and wanted to know what I thought.

“Every person on the entire planet is calling for love- all of our actions are begging for love. This includes the daughter, as well as your friend. And love comes in various forms, sometimes in the drill sergeant approach, sometimes in other ways.

My own approach is not the drill sergeant approach. In my experience, people get that approach from lots of people. My approach is a bit more soft and gentle, to get at the darkness that lies within, that is usually buried. That darkness, those blockages, often run our lives unconsciously. A drill sergeant doesn’t provide the environment for them to safely reveal themselves. I provide the environment for them to safely reveal themselves, so that they can be truly felt, experienced, and then integrated. The daughter seems to be energetically and unconsciously running familial patterns. I’m guessing she has lots of anxiety, fear, anger, and sadness. All those emotions need to be felt fully, if they are to be released, if they are to stop running her live unconsciously.

I hope she finds someone who can help midwife her with those energies and emotions. Sounds like your friend could use someone like that too.”

Wanting to know!

IMG_1038

I want to know things, get information, understand- I want to take understanding and use it- to drive a stake into the ground, all as an attempt to create safety and security, certainty and control. The formation of subtle identities gets built upon this knowing, and i try to rest my hat here, in this illusion of certainty.

I can try to do this all I want, but it is just an attempt to try and find certainty and control in a universe that is always moving, where there is no real certainty or control. Information, experience, and moment to moment knowing is not permanent, but instead like leaves blowing in the wind, always changing in the forever moment of “now.”

When seen in this way, the wanting to know is seen as futile. Beingness continues, without the creation of identiy, without making things to be certain, without the grasping for control, and without anything being personal.

Instead everything, life is seen for what it is, movements and expressions of form, within the formless of all.

What would it be like………….

IMG_2520

What would it be like to stop trying? To stop the constant “doing”, messing with and manipulating things “out there?” To put down the job of processing guilt, and discomfort, and things that feel “off?” To stop fixing and bettering? What would it be like to just sink into this, and accept “this” as the way things are? To not think that anything could be anything otherwise? No “hope” for a different tomorrow, or a different anything. No relying on how things or people were in a perceived past or an imagined future. No hoping that someone will be different than they are right now; that they will move beyond the “stage” that they are in, or become devoted to something different then they are currently devoted to, or fill a role that they used to fill, or fill a role that you’d like them to one day fill. What would it be like to just experience this moment, this reality, and then move from there? To say: “No, thank you.” Or, “Yes, thank you.” Not, ok yes, because if I’m patient enough then blah blah blah. Or, yes, because a good person would say yes to “this.” Or, a peaceful person would say yes to this. Or, a spiritual or awakened person would say yes to this.
How would it be to instead say; “no, thank you, not right now.” Knowing a yes could possibly open up another time. Or maybe it won’t. But for now, “no, thank you.”

As I typed those words, and allowed myself to feel myself putting down that job, I felt my body relax. I also felt some fear, and inquired into that.

It felt like I had relinquished a tiny bit of the control I think I have in the world. Ultimately, it felt like welcoming death and rebirth into every moment. To be truly alive.

How to do this? Inquire. Inquire into your motivations for actions, into the thoughts that arise, into past images that float through your consciousness, into images of a projected future, and always inquire and deeply feel into the energy/emotions/sensations in the body. Email me for more information: llmeuser@me.com, or www.integrativehealingnow.com.

Moving through the world in a human body

Calgon take me away!

IMG_2904

How many times did I hear that commercial growing up? The idea was that if a person uttered this phrase, they would magically be taken away from all craziness of life. The screaming children, the yelling partner, the dinner that was needing to be made, the house that was a mess, the report that was late, the boss that was not pleased, and so on. A modern day version of this is for the mother or parent to say they need a “time out.” However you phrase it, the sentiment is the same: I need a break!!!!! I need to get away. I need a vacation. THIS is not acceptable.

The subtext commentary might be: “there is something about my experience that is just too difficult, too uncomfortable, and/or too unmanageable, and I want it to change, NOW.” Or, in short, “can I please just trade in this discomfort for some peace?”

My daughter and I just spent a week at my parents. On the drive home, I realized something quite odd: that what I’d experienced this past week was an internal retreat of sorts. Wait, WHAT?!?!? A retreat, while at my parents? Don’t get me wrong, my parents and I have been on good terms for over a decade, but we view the universe quite differently. How could it be possible, to drive away feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, expansive and nourished? After eating a week of non organic/local meat and vegetables? In their suburban colonial home? With an absurd case of poison ivy and meds that kept me from having even one good night sleep? Ok, so let’s just say straight off that this was no typical sanga or exotic get away retreat. So what was so great about it?

I looked back over the week, and I realized all the things I did “right” that led to the experience I had.

1. I started out the day with meditation (something I usually call “noticing”), exercise, good nutrition (I’m a huge Shakology fan). Turns out, I’m a routine kinda person, so maintaining these routines while away from home are so nourishing to me. So I started every day like this, before my first skype or phone client, or before we set out on our day’s adventures.
2. When we left for the day, I had food and water with me, along with a book and other misc stuff, including all my poison ivy paraphernalia.
3. I took time each day to create via painting or writing, as well as read, or listen to youtubes /recordings/music that resonated with my felt experience of the moment.
4. I ended each day with some kind of meditation/noticing, a walk outside, and an abdominal massage.

These 4 steps were things I could basically “control” each day, things I could “do” to help me stay clear and present. Being a Capricorn, practicality and discipline are pretty easy for me, and it does seem as though my system really benefits from this way of being.

Getting back to the beginning part of this blog, what about those times when I’m freaking out? When I’m stressed and uncomfortable. I mean, steps 1-4 can only do so much. That’s when I come to number 5. Number 5 is taught in all the spiritual books, all the health books to a certain extent, and in all the self help books: be here now.

5. Be here now. What does that really mean, to be here now? It seems that it only means one thing: notice. Notice what is here now. What thoughts are here now? Notice them. What images are floating though my awareness now? Notice them. What sensations/emotions are going on in my body? Notice and feel them, now. What else is ever going on in a moment, other then thoughts/words, images/pictures, and/or energy/sensations/emotions? If we want to truly be here now, then the only thing we can do with those words, pictures, and energies are notice them and be with them. This doesn’t mean mentally engage in understanding or trying to control or change them. It literally means only being with them, exactly as they are. Just as you might hold a newborn baby.

Practically speaking, what that looked like during my week was that while out on my evening walks or at various points throughout the day, I’d stop and notice and feel what was going on inwardly. At the science museum, when I could feel the number of stimulation start to have an impact, I took a few minutes for myself and sat and noticed my internal climate. While noticing what I was experiencing, I cried. Luckily I’ve grown accustomed to crying, and so it’s no big deal for me anymore for tears to spontaneously emerge from my eyes. Apparently it is also the secret to staying young, so I’ll just keep letting the floodgates open as they do. The next day, while we were at the art museum, my parents and daughter were busy, so I sat down and spent about 20 minutes noticing what was going on in my system. And the following day, while at the zoo, when overcome by some thoughts, images and most dramatically some strong physical sensations, I sat down on the ground and sobbed. And the rest of that day, whenever I had the opportunity, instead of checking my phone or reading a book I’d brought, I lay down on the earth and breathed, and noticed.

IMG_8574

Being here now doesn’t mean being with the now you want to be here. It doesn’t mean trying to find a way to make the now different, more pleasurable, comfortable or “better.” It doesn’t mean analyzing, understanding, fixing or rationalizing. Being here now is inquiring 100% into this moment, and whatever it holds via words, pictures and energy. Which means that when there are words and/or pictures, they are noticed and looked at fully. When there is a pain or contraction in the body, it’s felt fully. When there is sadness or anger or anxiety, it’s noticed and felt fully in the body.

Here’s the funny thing. When we sit with our words, images and energy, something does seem to change. We do seem to experience a peaceful transformation. But it’s a tricky paradox, because if that is the goal, to escape what is here now, then we’ll only be left with resistance. So we truly have to hand ourselves over to being here now. Part of this unfolding happens effortlessly when we experience that there is no “me” running the show of this reality/life. When this is seen through, it becomes clearer that there is also no “me” letting go, or being here now, but instead a movement of letting go and being here now. This subtle but significant difference allows for the understanding, fixing and outcome based mentality that leads to contraction and resistance to gently unwind, and surrender to occur.

6. I realized that there was one more thing that added to my retreat like week: I communicated, asked for assistance and was resourceful. When I was needing some “me time” I told my daughter that I was needing to meditate, or breath for awhile. At different times I asked my parents if they’d hang out with my daughter so that I could connect inwardly. I asked my dad if he’d keep an eye on her at the zoo so I could lay on the ground periodically. My daughter is older now, so it’s easier then ever for me to attend to nurturing myself, but it wasn’t all that long ago that I remember being resourceful in finding ways to take care of myself. Two of my favorite ways to find time and space to inwardly connect when my daughter was younger were going to the bathroom (not to actually pee but to sit on top of the toilet seat and breath) and walk to the kitchen sink for a big glass of water, breathing and inwardly connecting all the way. (and btw, kids cry, and so why shouldn’t adults cry. Holding our emotions in not only hurts us, it sets up an unrealistic model for our children, that adults don’t feel.) For what it’s worth, those two approaches (taking “time outs” to the bathroom or to get some water) are also strategies you can use in the work place. Get creative!

IMG_8581

Being here now seems simple, but there also seems to be a million things that get in our way of doing this for ourselves. If you’d like to learn how to connect this way with yourself, send me an email. It’s become my life’s work, and I’d love to connect with you this way. llmeuser@me.com or www.integrativehealingnow.com More reading available at livingrealization.org