Monthly Archives: December 2018

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?