Monthly Archives: April 2018

Navigating the Process of Personal Evolution: The Death of the Psyche

This was originally posted on the Living Inquiries web site. Synopsis:  Along the journey of waking up, there are tearing downs. As we add acknowledgment, we can give space to the natural dying aspects that are a part of this human journey.

 

Artwork by Caity Johnstone

 

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • A lingering “sense of death,” feeling that you are dying in some way (even though it doesn’t rationally make sense).
  • A heavy sense of doom or un-groundedness.
  • Persistent dreams of dying or death.

Sometimes when someone is doing a lot of internal work, exploring personal trauma, or/and diving into belief systems/identities, some interesting experiences can start to arise around the theme of death and dying. Consider it a “personal evolution.”

 

My first experiences with this were rather unsettling.

Sometimes I’d feel like I was in a daze. Other times it was more like a bad dream. I might feel kind of spacy, and sometimes during such times my thoughts would roar up- as if to find control. My tendency was to, well… freak out. After a while, however, I got better acquainted with the nuances and covert expressions of death that happen in—and are a part of—everyday life. In other words, death is constantly happening throughout the unfolding of life. And sometimes, because of what weare traversing through, we feel the impact of that more strongly.

 

A loss of self.

Parts of us are dying every day on a cellular level, but dying on the level of the psyche is quite different. We don’t mind (or even notice) that our cells are dying and being replaced, or even that our neural pathways are dying and being rebuilt. But even though we identify very strongly with our physical bodies, when it comes to our sense of self… that can feel much more real to us.

During times like these, when the confusing weight of death feels overwhelming, it can be helpful to take a step back and try on a wider lens to see more of what’s going on. But before we are able to take that step back, we need to get grounded.

 

Caring for the nervous system.

When we’re in a state of overwhelm (or fight/flight/freeze), the parts of our brain responsible for self-awareness can become dull. With this response can come an increase of tunnel vision and a decreased ability to be in relationship with our experiences. This is why we need to get grounded first. To be able to have perspective, it helps to have our body mechanics working in our favor. So, first things first.

Taking care of the nervous system may look like:

  • feeling your feet, hands and/or bum,while breathing,on the floor, chair or bed, or even whilst standing.
  • going out for a walk.
  • looking up at the sky/birds/trees.
  • putting some cold water on the back of your neck or onto your forehead.

Choose the techniques that work best for you. For an extensive list of ways to soothethe nervous system and get the right/left hemispheres working together, click here.

 

The wider lens.

Once your nervous system has calmed down and your brain hemispheres are back in sync, you can start to have a greater perspective of what might be going on. Here are some things that this new perspective will ask you to consider:

  • Parts of your biology are dying every day.
  • You, as a human being, are designed to constantly die and be re-created from a cellular level.
  • The design of the human being is to progress and evolve, to better itself, to change, and to grow/mature.
  • Change comes from the old dying, which then allows something new to come into form.
  • Your psyche, too, is designed to die and be re-created, as this is part of our maturation process.
  • Your psyche is influenced by neural pathways which are constantly changing, dying, and being recreated.
  • When belief systems, identities, and trauma are explored, old areas of solidity and certainty are “opened up.” This creates change on a variety of levels. Our behaviors may change. Our emotions may feel different or be different. Our thoughts, and our relationships to certain thoughts/beliefs, may change.
  • With change come newness, unfamiliarity, and the unknown.

So is it any wonder that feelings of doom or death are present?

 

Loose Ends.

Sometimes when we are traversing through such territory, we may even find ourselves having experiences that energetically mimic or feel akin to an event in our past when we actually thought we were going to die, and all the fear from that event was stuffed away rather thanreleased. Pain body comes to surface—to tie up loose ends, so to speak—on its own timeline, regardless of when it would or would not be convenient for us. This can be unnerving as, rationally speaking, there seems to be nothing bad happening… yet the body’s and/or mind’s response indicates otherwise.

 

What does it all mean?

Humans have the capacity to mature not only biologically, but also emotionally and psychologically. As with biology, this can include growing pains since change can sometimes bring dis-ease, discomfort, and disorientation. Have you ever met a young person who is going through a growth spurt and their own body has become unfamiliar to them? These same words—dis-ease, discomfort, and disorientation—can be applied to the experiential process of emotional and psychological maturation and integration.

 

Identity crisis.

When parts of our psyche change, a portion of our identity is dying off. This may bring a variety of different responses, some of relief, some of threat. Identities that we’ve carried around for years within us—as us—can feel like they are who we are, so we fearfully wonder, “Who will I be without them?” The mind may then imagine all kinds of dangerous scenarios as possible futures. But beneath all those thoughts and mental constructions is a simple (but not necessarily comforting) answer:

Who will we be without our identities?
Without our familiar sense of self?
What will this next evolution bring us?

We have no way of knowing.

 

Unfamiliar territory.

The mind doesn’t always like this response. Particularly in our left-brain-dominated culture, we like certainty. We like binary and linear answers. Yet life is neither binary nor linear,and not knowing can often stir up the left brain even more-ruffling the feathers of those parts of us which incessantly try so hard to figure out and procure certainty. In direct disparity to the Zen “don’t know” culture, Western culture is fixated on a “must know” mentality.

But the simple fact of the matter is that we don’t know what is coming next. We don’t know what life will be like as we outgrow these old identities. We don’t know who we’ll be if we’re not who we’ve always been. We don’t know how life will manifest when we’re no longer engaging in all the shenanigans that we’ve always been involved in. Who would I be without my controlling, figuring-out self? A part of me relishes this idea… conceptually. Another part loves to think about it. But, another part resists actually leaning into this and opposes the release of these defenses in order to find out.

 

The land of limbo.

It is in these moments, when death is underway but the new re-creation hasn’t yet come in, that we can find ourselves in a state of fear or doom. And it is in these moments that it is important to acknowledge that deaths are happening within our system, and that it is a normal part of the process to feel in limbo. It is normal to feel this way, because we are in transition. We are in the midway land between old and new: before the old is entirely gone, and before the new has become familiar.

Stepping back in this way can sometimes allow the process to happen with more grace and ease. There is less of a need to grasp and resist when we are reminded that underneath the discomfort all is well, and that the doom and death-like experiences are but temporary steps that come along whilst travelling this path called life.

 

Patience, compassion, and support.

Be patient and compassionate with yourself during these times, or/and connect with others who can fill this role for you and help support you.
Take good care of your nervous system.
Return to the awareness that death/rebirth is a natural part of life.

You are not alone on this journey. Ever.

 

And for additional support there are free resources available on The Living Inquiries website, or you can email me with any questions- llmeuser@me.com

May Gathering Dates and Information: Gathering Together, Journeying Together, Deepening Together

Support yourself in becoming truly available for your life. 

Belonging, community and connection are crucial for our well being. We come to learn about ourselves, together.For those of you who would like support in your deeper looking and/or aren’t interested in 1:1 sessions, here’s an affordable option.


Art by Caity Johnstone

 

Deficiency stories debilitate, demean and disempower us like nothing else. Sometimes coming from outside ourselves- through institutional doctrine familial conditioning- but eventually winding up in our own narratives, these stories seem to solidify a separate sense of self.

In an email to me Scott Kiloby shared“ 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…”

This sense of separation is painful, and yet we often hide or pretend- or, as Scott said- run, staying separate and isolated in our pain.

In this group we connect together, and we honor our stories and our trauma, 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 come to learn about ourselves, together. In a world where it is not always easy or safe to be vulnerable, we learn that it is possible. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are.

This monthly gathering will focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness and self love. 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.

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

You can come to one, or as many as you’d like!

Upcoming dates: May 4th & 25th and June 8th & 22nd. 1:30-2:45 EST

Investment: Sliding scale based on income: 10- $25 based on income, paypal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so i can contact you.  Free to those in my current deepening courses.

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

To read more about embodiment:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/05/embodiment-10-things-to-know-about-this-buzz-word-lisa-meuser/

For more, visit my blog, where I write almost exclusively about embodiment. http://integrativehealingnow.com/blog/

 

Gravity: a new exploration of surrender

This was originally posted on the Living Inquiries web site titled “The Gift of Gravity – A Curious Exploration of the Link Between Tension and Control.”  Synopsis: a curious way to connect with and learn about our experiences- and how we habitually and unknowingly hold ourselves back from surrender. 

 

It’s no secret – most of us humans are, to some degree, “control freaks.”

“Can we stop obsessing over the need to control everything around us?” I don’t know, but honestly I’m not sure we need to. That is, if we can learn how to be in relationship with this very normal human attribute. Studying the way we try to exert control or be in charge – as well as how we subtly or covertly resist throughout our days – can help us experience an increased sense of well-being because we are then in a mindset of engaging with, rather than of feeling overpowered by. Sound good so far? I think we can all use a bit more well-being these days.


What if it didn’t have to be so hard?

What if relinquishing control weren’t as complicated as we think it is?

There are all sorts of psychosomatic reasons why we unconsciously try to be in control, and my clients and I explore that territory intimately on a 1:1 basis or in group settings. But let’s break it down to something more universal: we all resist, control, and try so hard to be in charge because, fundamentally, (1) it’s become a habit and (2) no one ever taught us that there is another path we can take. Whilst being in control may feel good in some ways, it’s ultimately exhausting. And so, growing weary and ill under the weight of all this trying, we swing to the other side, desperately trying to not be in control. In other words, we struggle to surrender. But all that trying, even in the opposite direction, not only continues to be exhausting but can keep us stuck even more deeply.

We live in a fast paced culture which doesn’t give much attention to the mechanics of our interior world, so how we live in our bodies often evades us. We don’t realize, for example, how much muscular tension we’re holding, how tight we’re gripping within our body, and how much effort is being exerted even whilst doing simple tasks. What if we regularly took time throughout the day to reconnect with ourselves and notice, in our simple everyday happenings, ways in which we could experience relief? What if releasing tension and stress were simply a matter of curious exploring.


Let’s explore. Not to fix, but to connect. Not to control, but to discover.

Get comfortable because we’re going on an experiential journey, and I find that it’s useful to be comfortable while going on such an exploration. So plop into your favorite chair or couch. Grab a cup of tea and a blanket. Get cozy. (And for my Australian mates, turn on the fan!)

Pause right here. Yes, here. Here with the object on which you’re sitting, and you. Let’s start here. And let’s take a moment to ponder what’s here already.

Connect to the absolute simplest of happenings that is right here, right now. Your butt on the object you’re sitting/lying upon. Your back, resting against the bed / the chair / space. Your body is making contact in lots of ways. Feel the contact. Do nothing with it. Just notice the sensations of connection that are already happening

Most of us take for granted that our bodies are always making contact with solidity, but we are! I mean, have any of you ever walked on air? Or sat a few feet off the ground? Or slept hovering over your bed? Have you ever wondered, as you got out of bed in the morning, “I wonder if there will be something under me when I roll out of bed!” Of course not. We don’t question it, we don’t give it a second thought. We know that, due to this thing called “gravity,” we will always land on the floor when we get out of bed. The same goes for when we sit down. We don’t need to think about it. We just plop down and there’s the chair… holding us. Ditto for our beds at night. We don’t figure out how to lie down, we just do. We live under the influence and impact of gravity for pretty much every moment of our lives, and we can curiously study this so as to bring ourselves into present moment awareness.


We take the energetic experience of gravity for granted. But what if we didn’t?

What if, instead of unconsciously sitting, walking, and lying down, we consciously connected with these experiences? I remember what happened when I started to notice the presence of gravity, and it was pretty cool.

Maybe you’ll discover something totally different, but what I discovered was a space of holding that was coming not from within me, but from around me. The force of gravity literally holds us, and we can explore that in a direct experience kind of way.

Whether we want to be or not, we’re all subject to this energetic presence of gravity. If we choose to, we can consciously connect to this gravitational experience, and in doing so we can become more intimate with ourselves and be more present in our experience. We can also come to know how we resist in both our present moment experience and in our physiology.


Let’s start with our present moment and our physiology. While you read, include the rest of your body.

Let’s continue our experiential journey. Bring your attention back to the chair, the bed, the ground – wherever you’re positioned. These solid objects that we’re sitting/standing/lying upon are holding us. If you’re sitting in a chair or on a bed, it might be curious to notice that these objects have literally been created to hold our bodies. And yet, how often do we lie tight and tense in bed at night, or hold ourselves rigid whilst sitting in our chairs? Sure, I know posture is important, but holding our muscles tight and tense is not posture. It’s rigidity that comes from being disconnected from our actual direct experience that a chair is holding our body. We’ve practically forgotten that we don’t actually need to be tight and tense all the time.

Take a moment to breathe, and let the chair hold your body. Yes, that’s it: hand yourself over to this object which is already holding you, which has been designed to hold you, and which does hold you, no matter whether you’re rigid or soft. So, why not soften a little? Just for the fun of it… Breathe, and feel. Feel, and breathe. Keep it simple. There’s nothing to figure out, no problem to solve, and nowhere to go. Feel the sitting already happening, and the breathing already underway.


Invite the body and breath to catch up with each other.

To assist you in this – because sometimes we actually have to be taught how to not hold our bodies tight – keep your attention on your breath. Don’t alter it, just include it in your field of noticing. Notice and feel how the breath moves the body. Notice how the breath moves the body upwards (as if against gravity) upon inhalation, and how the body falls downwards with the exhalation. Stay with this cycle for awhile. Breathe in, body up (and often outward). Breathe out, body down (often with an inward sensation).

Now, as you feel your exhalation, really let gravity have you. That’s right. Hand your holdings, your tightenings, your efforts over to gravity as you exhale. You may try some sighing or audible exhalation to help yourself really feel this. With each exhalation let the body release, fall, empty, and soften.

Breathe in, breathe out. Notice what you experience. That’s it.

Are you bored a bit? That might be the case, because there is nothing to solve here and the ego mind loves having problems to solve. But keep your attention leaning towards curiosity, and let’s continue.


There may be nothing to solve here but there is loads to be curious about, and even more to discover.

Turn your attention now to your jaw, your cheeks, and your mouth. Are your lips pursed together? Is your jaw hinged shut? Or is your mouth open, your jaw unhinged, and your cheek bones soft? I don’t know about you, but personally (and for must humans that I talk to) I hold an awful lot of tension in my jaw. The thing is, however, I didn’t know this until I knew it. So don’t be too fast to respond to these questions. Take five minutes and breathe, and feel, and explore into the experience of your facial muscles. For you thinkers out there: thinking is useless for this experiment. You’ll need to shelf it for a few minutes, and hand attention over to the body to feel.

As you just sit and breathe, invite the lips to part, the mouth to open, the jaw to soften, and the cheek bones to release. Keep breathing, particularly noticing the exhalations. When most people start to explore their jaw and head regions in this way, they are quite blown away by how much unnecessary holding has been going towards nothing useful at all. There are no useful reasons why we need to be efforting, holding, gripping our facial muscles in this way most of the time, but we continue to do so out of habit. Please try it– you have nothing to lose, except perhaps any headaches or jaw issues you might suffer from.


Thank goodness for conscious awareness.

By utilizing your ability to be aware of your experience, that which was invisible can now become known. Holdings and exertions that ran the experience of you can now start to loosen. By continuing to consciously explore your body throughout the day, you’ll be able shift these stressful laden habits into new habits that will facilitate ease and bring increased well-being into your life.

It may seem simple, and that’s because it is. But it’s not always easy. Just like with all new practices, the more you change one thing, the more you’ll notice a slew of other things that you never realized were connected.   (Pssst! Those tight muscles are connected to the need to be in control, in charge, and/or in some version of ego identity.) One of the hardest parts of being more intimate with your body will be the incessant thoughts that try to convince you that spinning out of control is a more useful way to spend your time. (Pssst! Don’t believe everything you think!)

A possible outcome of this increased consciousness of your body is that, in the process, you may develop a more friendly and intimate relationship with yourself and the present moment. This means less “spinning out” and living from your hamster-wheel thoughts, and more living in the direct experience of now.


Let’s continue.

Now drop down lower into other areas of your body. In fact, while you’re at it, you might as well find out what’s going on with your body from head to toes. Why not engage in a full body scan? You will deepen your awareness of yourself, bit by bit, discovering all sorts of things that you hadn’t previously noticed.

Just below the head is another favorite place where people (including myself) unnecessarily or habitually hold tension: the shoulders. A year or so ago I’d randomly started to find my shoulders inching up to my ears. Bringing conscious attention to this habit allowed it to release, and as that happened I experienced fewer neck and shoulder aches, and less stress overall.

Move your attention away from your shoulders now and let it curiously explore other areas of your body. Are you clenching your hands? Your stomach? Your back? Your inner thighs? Your toes? All day long we unintentionally and habitually grasp, and hold, and exert. We just do this stuff, out of habit, thinking we have to. And sometimes we do. But whilst just sitting and breathing in a chair? We don’t have to tighten and hold so much during those times. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have to hold less and less once we realize that we can hold less and less.

Whilst exploring, continue to notice that there is always this field gravity here, in every second. You are either subtly or overtly fighting against it, or surrendering to it. (This applies to walking, sitting, standing, or lying down.) In every moment, you can notice how gravity is here. You can play with this experientially, and feel the dramatic relief of curiously exploring the body, rather than being caught in a hamster-wheel of obsessive thoughts.


Notice and commune with the simple.

Most people think that our experiences, or these states of being, are coming from the mind. We’re used to having most of our attention on our mental activities/thoughts. But there are corresponding sensations in the body, so keep dropping your attention below the level of the hamster-wheel mind, and come to the direct experiences of your body.

As you continue to play with your own experience of yourself – and by the way, how cool is that!!? – keep being curious. What is holding now that wasn’t a moment ago, or vice versa? How is a sense of unnecessary exertion, trying, grasping, or holding happening in this moment? The mind loves to complicate things, so keep coming back to simple.

Be curious, and ask yourself questions. “What is holding now that doesn’t need to be?” “What else can I let go of?” “What would it feel like to release this habitual holding in this moment?” “Can I surrender the holding of my muscles into gravity, into the chair, into space, in this moment?” “What is it like to feel the breath move through my body?” Keep being available to simple noticings.

It may also be useful to curiously play with questions such as “What am I releasing the tension into? Where does it go?” “What (or who) seems to “catch” or hold gravity itself?” Ask these questions not to get definitive answers, but to find out what arises.

As you’re experimenting, notice that this is all happening in relationship. There is never just you and yourself. There is always a sense of a “you” who is relating to a sense of something else. You’re never really on your own, even if it seems that way. There is always attention, tending to something. Get intimate with what that is like to know that.

Most often we gravitate (no pun intended) toward thoughts as if we were solipsistic creatures. But we’re so much more than that, and we live in a universe that is so much wider and deeper than that. We can explore the depth and width of the universe by remembering to consciously connect to this presence of gravity that is already here. We’re habituated to hold and tighten our bodies, to try to control almost all the time, but we don’t have to. We can experience a kind and gentle relationship with our very being and with our universe.

Remember- this gravitational presence is always here. We trust it every day of our lives. Why not lean into- ground into- this trust, with your whole self, and experience ease and spaciousness in the process?


Keep playing and let me know how it goes!
What have you been habitually holding all these years without knowing it? What is it like to release these habits?


P.S. Sometimes we need a little support.

I have loads of audio rests that guide through this process. Send me an email if you’d like to receive them!

April Gathering Dates and Information: Gathering Together, Journeying Together, Deepening Together

Belonging and community  and connection are crucial for our well being. The gatherings this month will be April 6th and April 27th. Come to one, or come to both!

We come to learn about ourselves, together.For those of you who would like support in your deeper looking but aren’t interested in 1:1 sessions, here’s an affordable option.
“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. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are. I always facilitate a guided rest. Sometimes there are a lot of questions. Sometimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Sometimes I teach ways to assist with self inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. We come to learn about ourselves, together. Participation is always optional.”
Check out the details in the link or email Lisa directly llmeuser@me.com

Art work: Caity Johnstone

Support yourself in becoming truly available for your life. 

Awhile back Scott Kiloby emailed 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…”

He didn’t know that I was already doing monthly groups at the request of the participants of deepening courses I was facilitating as well as people interested in experiencing increased well being. When the courses ended, some people would continue to come, while others would drop away. New people were always welcome.

Scott sees a need, and I love the community of groups- so I will be expanding my group to two times a month. Eventually I will be moving to Fridays- although this month I will be having one on a Saturday and one on a Friday.

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.

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. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are. I always facilitate a guided rest. Sometimes there are a lot of questions. Sometimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Sometimes I teach ways to assist with self inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. Participation is always optional. <3

We come to learn about ourselves, together.

 

When we don’t know ourselves we aren’t aware of thoughts we’re having, or our relationship to them. When we don’t know ourselves we aren’t aware of what triggers us, or even that we’re triggered. When we don’t know ourselves we don’t know what we need or want, or what has been missing with regards to our needs and wants. When we don’t know ourselves we don’t know what we’re feeling, or if it’s safe to feel. When we don’t know ourselves we become at the mercy of forces outside ourselves to take care of us because we don’t know ourselves well enough to take care of ourselves. When we don’t know ourselves it’s like having a party and all the guests showing up with masks on. Can you imagine such a party? I’m guessing there would be very little intimacy or connection. How can we love ourselves, how can we have compassion for ourselves, if we’re disconnected from ourselves?

When we know ourselves we are aware of our thoughts and if they have significance for us. When we know ourselves we know our needs and wants, and how to get them met without resorting to drama or manipulation. When we know ourselves we’re familiar with sensations, and how to connect with them in a way that feels safe. When we know ourselves we can develop a reservoir of inner resourcing, which empowers us and makes it possible for us to hold space for ourselves, love ourselves and offer compassion to ourselves. When we know ourselves we no longer feel like children caught in adult bodies, but capable human beings. When we know ourselves, we are aware- we are self-aware.

It’s easy to get to know ourselves, but it takes time, and often some guidance, as we learn how to do so. For most of us, no one has helped us to really get to know ourselves. In fact, too often we’re taught and encouraged to put all our attention outwards, and we lose our own sense of self in the process.

This monthly gathering will focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep. Please contact me with questions.

Upcoming dates:

 

April 6 and 27, 1:30-2:45 EST

Investment: Sliding scale based on income: 10- $15, paypal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering.”  Free to those in my current deepening courses.

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

To read more about embodiment:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/05/embodiment-10-things-to-know-about-this-buzz-word-lisa-meuser/

For more, visit my blog, where I write almost exclusively about embodiment. http://integrativehealingnow.com/blog/