Author Archives: Lisa

September Embodiment Gathering: Safety Exploring our Humanity Together

 

Support yourself in becoming truly available for your life.

 Artist:  Stefan Armoneit

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Scott Kiloby wrote with me:

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

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

 

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

From past participants:

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

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

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

 

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

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

Upcoming dates: September 7 and September 21,1:30-2:45 EST. You can come to one or both.

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

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

 

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

To read more about embodiment

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

Connecting to the Heart While Connecting to the Pain, Part 1

This piece was originally posted on the Living Inquiries web site, titled “Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution. Part 1, of 2”.

 

In every moment, new life.

I was going for a run this morning, on a new trail, in a new place. I came upon what looked like an extra large water pipe, but it was human sized- meaning I was to go through it. It was dusk. It was pitch black in there. And I had no idea what was on the other side. I started through, stumbling along the way, hoping I’d not lose my footing because there was stagnant and smelly water on one side of the dirt path that I really didn’t want to fall into. In the dark.  I made it to the other side, and onwards I went, into more unfamiliar terrain, onto more trails that were new to me. I ran blindly, not knowing where I was going. At every step, there was new territory. In every moment, new life.

 

It dawned on me: these runs I take into the wild, they are like the journeys I take into my heart. Sometimes my pacing is awkward… sometimes I’m not sure where my heart is. Sometimes my body is stiff or out of alignment… sometimes my heart feels closed and hard. But I go on these unfamiliar runs, and I continue to go into my unfamiliar heart. Sometimes it feels risky, uncomfortable, and just plain hard. But I go, because I always experience new life in my body, soul and spirit when I do. I go, because I know what the alternative is, and of that I am not a fan.

 

The alternative is, by and large, our current cultural structure. I will be writing more about that in part 2, but in short, our current cultural structure is pervasively led by the head, not the heart. As such, it is is not life giving, nor life sustaining, but more likely life controlling and dominating.

 

I am a fan of the heart, which honors curiosity, creativity, and expansion. I am a fan of the mystery. I am a fan of the unity and quality of all life.  I am a fan of new life- and that is why I run on paths unknown, and travel into inner territories not yet traversed.

 

 

Something is better than nothing

A few weeks ago, in late June, I was sitting in the place I spend most of my Sunday mornings- in my Unitarian Universality Church with my daughter. It was the week we started to learn that the US government was taking infants, babies, and children away from immigrants without proper documentation.

 

That morning Rev. Mary Ann spoke about what was happening on the front lines with regards to immigration. It was not a playful[1]sharing of information- it was horrific. The room was exceptionally sober. People throughout the congregation were crying, and many others had tears in their eyes, listening to the words she was speaking, trying best as we could to not only keep our ears open, but also our hearts.

 

She knew that a lot of people were weighed down by the insanity going down on the front lines of our government. She knew that many people felt powerless, and hopeless. She knew many people wanted to just ignore this, until it went away, because it was justso big. She urged us to do something. She then spoke about the many options of ‘somethings’ we could do; attending marches, making phone calls, sending letters, donating funds, and so forth. Please do something, she encouraged. She asked us to refrain from being complicit. “Nothing will yield nothing,” she said, “but something will always yield something, even if you don’t know what that is.”

Even if you don’t know what that is.

 

I thought that was profound. When it comes to political action, nothing will surely yield nothing.

 

Under the weight of what the government was doing, it was easy to think that actions might not have much of an impact. Rev. Mary Ann’s words were not only inspiring, they were also empowering. Even though we can’t know what that something will do, we know it will yield something.  And that gives cause to opt for something, any act, over nothing.

 

(Side note. Pausing a moment for a desperate prayer and to state the obvious which is often over looked by the liberal left, which includes myself: may we please, pick our “somethings” wisely. Doing violence, to counter violence, for example, sustains the toxicity of our current death fixated culture. I will write more about this in part 2.)

 

 

First, some heart-work

I knew action was crucial. Passively praying, or pretending it is “all going to be ok,” not only seems inappropriate but also morally void in these times. Social justice is a passion of mine, and I find that activism, in some way or another, is crucial.

 

I wanted to jump to action. I’d already been called to heartfully connect with the victims of the atrocities, but because of the amount of anger and righteous indignation[2]I felt I simply could not. When I tried to by pass that and do something “easier”, again all I could feel was my own arrogance, blame and resentment, and I could not ignore how ultimately disempowering that felt for me.

 

My heart had been buckling under the weight of these crimes against humanity, and I had been trying to ignore her because it was all just so painful. Not only was she buckling, she was hardening at times, wanting to close at times, and wanting to numb out at times.

 

It’s not just that I don’t want to live with a hardened or a dissociated heart, it’s that I can’t do my work in the world with a heart that isn’t open.

 

I knew that I had to address that first- as my initial ‘something.’ I knew I had to go deeper into what was going on for me, and I knew the only place to go deeper into was what wanted to close: my heart. I was in need of some heart-work.

 

 

 

Getting honest with myself

I allowed myself some time to honor what I was experiencing. It felt overwhelming and almost too much to bear and I noticed that I was feeling some hopelessness in light of the political decisions being made. I continued to go slow, and as I got clearer I saw that the government taking children way from their families was hitting me on (at least) 3 levels.

 

  • I was impacted as a human being who has empathy and compassion for other human beings.
  • I was impacted as a therapist because I know how destructive childhood trauma is with regards to the development of a healthy psyche.
  • I was impacted as a mother: the idea of my child being taken from me broke my heart every time I thought of it.

 

Between the three, I was overwhelmed with emotional responses. I was angry, I was experiencing immense grief, I was afraid and there was some hopelessness under the weight of all that.

 

It was the hopelessness that cried out for attention, for in the wake of the hopelessness there was despair and wanting to give up. And I could feel that deep in my heart.

 

As uncomfortable as hopelessness feels, as much as I don’t like to feel hopelessness, I knew that I needed to move closer to that resonance and get more intimate with what I was feeling.

 

That was my first ticket into my heart: as I allowed myself to let in this feeling of hopelessness, my heart started to crack, and, like Leonard Cohen, I experience the heart breaking as the heart opening. I could feel more as I stayed with the hopelessness, and that led to the next layer, which was anger.

 

 

 

Then came Anger

Sometimes I still feel weary and/or afraid of letting anger in, or going down into anger. Couldn’t I just jump to love? (Or, let anger spur right action?)  No, I could not. I didn’t feel love, I felt pain and anger and rage and hate. And it felt like right action in that moment was to feel into it, as opposed to act from it.

 

As I owned that powerful righteous indignation I let myself fully feel it down deep into my being. My body felt rigid, as if I was holding, or griping, and my chest was tight. I didn’t try to change or soften any of it, but instead consciously joined with it as it was. I let the righteous narrative be as it was, and before long started to see myself and feel myself as if I were having a tantrum. I was, as I often refer to this state of rage, ‘Hulk Mad,’ and in true Hulk fashion I was throwing things around (in my imagination). As I stayed with the visuals in my mind’s eye, I also stayed with the resonance of anger in my body, and my breath breathed down and into these sensations that were traveling through my heart, my gut, and legs.

 

Then a different degree of violent images arose in my imagination- first of caged children and cruel adults. Then, of me- gunning down those determent guards (I am pretty sure there were some politicians in there, too) so as to free those kids. I allowed myself to have such awful imagery and sentiments, and felt deeply into my being while doing so. Whilst breathing consciously I stayed with the heart contractions and let them have their way as they moved through my body. The sensations in my heart were painful, as if my heart was being ripped or torn apart.  It wasn’t long before long the anger and the rage and the hate started to shift- on their own accord. I started to sob uncontrollably with grief as my heart continued to break open. As I patiently stayed with the anger, and then grief, there was a shift into love and my heart started to open up even more. I could feel the impact of the heart-work I was doing.

 

The contractions and the rigidity in my body had stopped and were replaced by a deep and wide warmth that flowed through and beyond my body- all around me, and all within me. Love started to pour out to those children, and the guards and politicians, too. The imagery had turned from a killing fest into a love square dance.

 

The pain in my heart had been replaced by a mysterious yet uncomfortable pulling sensation, as if I was being drawn into the space of my heart. “Come deeper, here,” my heart seemed to be saying. Here.

 

And that’s when something surprising showed up: Fear.

 

 

You’re afraid to love, Lisa, really?

Hell yeah – fear was there. I was afraid to really let my heart blindly love. I was afraid of going so deep into my heart that I’d get lost in there, in my ‘hearting.’ There was so much to feel.  Dare I let open my heart that wide? Could I trust my heart? Could I just jump in, without knowing where or what I was jumping into?

 

I didn’t know what “here”really meant, or where it would take me, or what it would “do”. I didn’t know anything, other than I was being called into a chasm that was deeper and wider than I knew. Like on those runs I take, I was being called to go into unfamiliar territory. I was being called to go into what seemed like emptiness.

 

I took it slow, and my dead friend Travis showed up to help me. He held my hand, and he reminded me that I didn’t have to go in deeper if I didn’t want to. I was feeling the deep desire to love, but I also felt some ‘supposed tos’. In the wake of those supposed tos, I paused, and I let myself not love, for a bit. And that was just what I needed because after that the love started pouring through on it’s own accord.

 

When I can honor doubt, and just let it be there for a moment, the trust that comes next is inevitably more powerful.  I don’t know how that happens- perhaps it is pure grace.

 

My heart continued to beckon me into it, and in doing so it softened, filled, and emptied, over and over in a dance that is impossible to describe.

 

 

 

Heart-work Motto

As odd as it may sound, I wonder if the first act of heart-work stems from the radical act of self-care.

 

Maybe this is the heart-work motto:  “I value my own heart so much that I must pause with and for her health before I do anything else.”

 

For me, in the above life-story, valuing my heart meant that my first ‘doing something’ was to deeply feel, because without doing that my heart was going to close, and then what good am I in creating the social change I believe in and advocate for?

 

 

Once I tend to my heart, all things become new

 After tending to my heart, after following the path of love, then I can be grounded and open enough to be myself. I can attend marches, I can write letters, I can make phone calls, and be a political activist. AndI can continue to work with the hearts and souls of my clients, and I can continue to be a mother, and I can continue to create, and write.  And I do.

 

When I keep my heart open, I get to live another day in creating change, in creating newness, and in advocating life, not death, as our current political and economic institutions pray to. But once my heart closes down, it’s game over for me- and they win. Believe me, they want my heart to close- they want all of our hearts to close, and stay closed.

 

They want us to feel too overwhelmed, too depressed, and too powerless to feel, to act, to be alive. They want us to get lost in the horrific images on facebook and television, and believe that we can do nothing.

 

Giving up isn’t an evolutionary option, but caring for ourselves is. In fact, the love and compassion that is at the center of self care may be at the heart of evolutionary progress on a macro level. As I tend to my heart and keep it open, I have more space and resourcing to participate in life on all levels. When I tend to my being, I have more available to tend to all beings.

 

We all must find that which sustains us. Taking care of my heart sustains me. It keeps me truly alive and furthering. Do what keeps your well being alive, and involved in creating a different, a new, tomorrow.

 

Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll be writing more about the radial act of heart-work, why it’s needed for evolution, and how to keep your heart-work and social justice work a sustained part of your life.

 

 

[1]The theme in June was play, and had became a paramount part of her services each Sunday because, despite what was going on in our country politically, she felt we needed to remind ourselves of the importance of play. Rev Mary Ann Macklin had done some research-convicts of unspeakable crimes most often come from childhoods where there was little to no play. Furthermore, she contended, the opposite of curiosity- something utilized in play- is depression. “In times like these,” her words sang throughout the room, “we need play.” And, she did, thank goodness, later in the service invite us into some experiential exercises so that we could connect with curiosity, aliveness, and playfulness.

 

[2]FWIW Righteous indignation has its uses, and can be extremely powerful- and perhaps that would have been the perfect springboard into action for me in the past.  Perhaps my new slogan for myself will be, heart work first, thenrighteous indignation.

 

Seeking to Know Life

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Seeking from our mind is often an endless ride on a hamster wheel. Seeking from our being is part of our inheritance as a living being.

Each living thing has something within it that drives it to grow, to evolve- to go from what was, into newness. This movement to “life” is inherent within existence itself. In plants and animals we simply call it maturing, or growing. In human beings we can connect with it as aspect of “a me” wanting to know a greater sense of Me-ness. We may call it seeking: a seeking of life wanting to know itself in/as Life.

The trickiest aspect of knowing this is that it is Known from our direct experience, from our beings (from life itself), as opposed to our habitual source of thinking and imagining.

When we slow down, and open up, we can notice and experience our direct connection to/with/as Life- just as we can notice animals’ and plants’ connection with/as/through Life.

Take a moment and notice: in direct experience perceptions seek themselves… Hearing seeks hearing, taste seeks taste, touch seeks touch, and so on.

Does that seem true as you notice what perceptions arise and arrive?

A new participation is happening every moment in the being, not the mind, the BEing. The being is the life force life-ing. Life “goes after” life; not subject/object per say but inherently. Your mind doesn’t have to seek, your being seeks life itself. It’s born to seek, to know, life.
There is just this exchange happening, a participation. An intrinsic participation happening of a very different sort than the mind conceives. Life is inherently driven to do itself, to be itself, to know it’s greater realm of Beingness- through, in, and with Life itself.

Get to know Life.

August Embodiment Gathering: exploring our humanity together

Support yourself in becoming truly available for your life!

 

From a recent participant:

“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.”

 

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.

 

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:  August 3rd and 24th.  1:30-2:45pm  EST.

September dates: Sept. 7th and 21st at 1:30-2:45pm EST.

 

Investment: Sliding scale based on income: $10- $25. To sign up please send PayPal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link.  Free 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/

 

Honoring Lived Experiences

This was originally posted on the Living Inquiries web site as “Real life Interjects” on the Living Inquires web site.
Synopsis: Affirmations can create more cognitive dissonance, and suffering, when they are not coming from lived truth.

 

“You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You.”

You might recognize this quote from Stuart Smalley, a character who played on Saturday Night Live in the 90s. Stuart was known for his positive affirmations, including the one above, and wrote a book of Daily Affirmations. Whilst the character and the book are based in comedy, there are hidden gems of wisdom in using affirmations and many transformational modalities are based upon their use.

While some approaches largely depend upon the use of positive affirmations, lauding their effectiveness, their critics suggest that they are little more than wishful thinking, essentially ineffective when it comes to sustainable change. Breaking it down simply, the first camp might assert that the positive affirmations will become reality if said enough and that until they become reality, you can “fake it until you make it” using positive affirmations. The second camp suggests that using positive affirmations may be like planting pretty flowers on top of a smelly, full septic tank- the pretty flowers can only hide the smell for so long, leaving cognitive dissonance- and smelly yet pretty flowers.

Who’s right? In their own way both camps sound plausible. After all, it sounds logical that repeating a positive phrase repeatedly would eventually start to “soak in,” right? And at the same time, it also makes sense that repeating phrases over and over won’t really get at the deeper stuff. In my own experience, both are true.
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Personally speaking, affirmations have been helpful for me.

While exploring the depths of my psyche using somatic inquiry or other deep process methods, hidden belief systems are often found, along with how they were formed and/or what continues to keeps them alive.

A belief system I recently wrote about was “ignoring my feelings is a loving thing to do.” I had been exploring presence, and all sorts of memories arose in which I saw how my mom took care of me involved her ignoring my emotional state – i.e. not being present with me. Through somatic inquiry I was able to remove various layers of meaning that were Velcroed to the belief system and the pain body. As the layers dissolved, so did the belief. I was left with the declaration, “being present with feelings is a loving thing to do.”

Whilst the old belief had felt quite real, somatically speaking, only moments ago this new pronouncement felt genuine and authentic. To help ease this new truth into place, it was useful for me to repeat it to myself every once in a while over the next couple days. Said another way, it was useful to gently utilize it as an affirmation until it became more integrated.

In my own experience, this is an effective use of affirmations: using an affirmation, which already has some resonance, in changing out old belief patterns. I suspect that the efficacy and sustainability of using affirmations in this way is hinged upon (1) the clearing out of an old core belief, which (2) makes room for a new affirmation (3) that resonates as an actual truth, as opposed to just a thought one wishes to be true. After all, knowing something from our being is more sustainable and meaningful than something from our minds. (Consider, for example: how fulfilling is it to love someone from our minds, as opposed to from our hearts?)
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Speaking of something coming from the mind, instead of the heart…

This brings me to my frustrations with the use of affirmations; they are often from the mind, hoping that they will (often magically) make their way to the heart. I call these empty affirmations (as opposed to affirmations which already have some felt resonance). Because we’re already a mind-biased and a body-phobic culture, I don’t think strategies that are mind-focused are ultimately healing. Generally speaking, utilizing empty affirmations requires even more mental involvement (pretending/ strategizing/manipulating) and oftentimes leads to more dissociation. For most of us, subtle affirmations may begin in our childhoods, extending into our adult years.
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The use of affirmations can confuse the psyche, starting from when we were young.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before. Many of us were probably told this in our childhoods by (perhaps) well-meaning adults. Many of us have likely told this to our own children, perhaps from an innocent desire to help, and/or comfort our child so that s/he feels better.

While well-intended, it is confusing for a child (or an adult) to be told that there is nothing to be afraid of when they are actually, in that moment, feeling afraid. It can be discombobulating or create a sense of dissonance when one feels one thing to be true and then is told that something else is the truth. Moreover, the child’s actual experience and feeling is discounted and invalidated. As you might imagine, shame is a likely side effect.

But what is a child to do? Because they were met with a mental response to their emotional pain body experience, they are likely to then employ their own mental strategies to cope with the emotional overwhelm being experienced. In other words, they will dissociate. The child, not wanting to risk further rejection from their parent, may pretend that they are ok, stuffing their feelings down in the process. Or their response may get louder or stronger, in which case they may be labeled dramatic or “too sensitive.” Either way, they are discounted, which goes counter to what we all want – validation, acknowledgement and/or someone to be present with us whether they agree or disagree with what we’re experiencing.

(As an aside, one can see in this simple example how pervasive gas-lighting is in our culture: one person says how they feel and another (who has more power in the dynamic) says that they don’t.)

As it is not ultimately helpful for an adult to repeat an affirmation to a child when it goes counter to their actual experience, it is not sustainably useful for us to repeat an affirmation to ourselves when it is counter to our actual experience. (It may be temporarily useful, and I’ll get to that later.)

When, as an adult, we use this affirmation to help ourselves in this way, it can (1) mimic or echo the same discount or invalidation we received as children, which can (2) confound the dissonance even more, (3) perpetually discount or invalidate our own experience, which may then (4) lead to an internalized state of dissonance and/or (5) increase dissociation.

We continue to experience dissonance, and so we continue to struggle, maybe even more so. We want relief, but the (empty) affirmation denies our actual experience and creates more resistance to it. (Some relief may be found temporarily if any part of the psyche can “buy into” the affirmation. More on this later.)
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Real life interjects. Literally.

As I’m writing this on my porch, the sun is setting.

I look out and see the sky behind the trees turning into an orange glow, the tree branches swaying gently. I look up, and the undersides of the leaves are glowing orange, as the top of the leaves are deep green. The sunset is somehow shining upon the bottom of the leaves. I gasp when I see them. They are beautiful and they greet me in mystery.

I am reminded that we must look underneath, we must go under what we normally see, and invite in everything else that exists too.

And perhaps this is why I’m not always a fan of affirmations. I don’t want to make myself mentally ok using affirmations; I want to feel true OKness in my being. I don’t want to cover up experiences, I want to honor them. When I cover up a part of me, I am telling myself that I am not allowed to be as I am. When I say, “there’s nothing to be afraid of,” when something in my system says there is, I’m relaying to myself that something is wrong with me – that I’m doing it wrong – that I’m humaning wrong. The violence in that brings a tear to my eye.

I appreciate affirmations as temporary bandaids when used along with other adjunct work, but not as the main approach. When utilized as a practice, I see time and time again how they ultimately create dissonance and self-harm as it encourages pretending or diminishing as opposed to honoring. I see it in the clients that come to see me, heads filled with dissonance, trying painfully to have “the right thoughts” as they try to have “the right feeling” as they try to be “the right human.” The shame and disappointment are palpable.

Lastly, maybe more than ever, we are in a time of being called to wake up. I have noticed that affirmations can be used to pacify and placate. In my experience that lends itself to mindlessness as opposed to mindfulness. In a time when we really need to be paying attention, using affirmations to gloss over things so that we can go unconscious and be asleep to our lives does not appear to be what is best for our evolution.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” C.G. Jung
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Small Steps

I imagine some of you saying- “ok FINE! But I’m not there yet. I don’t know how to really live in a state of complete acceptance. I can’t always let things be as they are!”

Me either!

In those moments, I may use the mind to connect with an affirmation I already feel some resonance with to help in supporting myself. In my experience it’s very different to use affirmations that resonate in some kind of real way as opposed to using empty affirmations. Affirmations are most useful when they come from an already lived resonance in the body that feels real, perhaps because there is a deeper level of honesty and authenticity.
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Real life Interjects, again

My daughter is on her first overseas trip and is struggling. As her mother, I want nothing other than to say a bunch of affirmations so that she will feel better, so that she will feel safe, so that she will feel ok.

What do I do? More than anything I’d love it if affirmations “worked” on her. I’d love if I could cast a magic word spell on her. But I’ve learned that empty affirmations don’t help her. Rather than try to pacify her fears with empty affirmations, I acknowledged her actual experience while also mentioning some positive things that resonate in some real way for her.

Off the phone, I am confronted with my own fears. Being 4,500 miles away “as the crow flies,” I don’t know if what I’ve said has helped her, I just know that the texts have stopped. It becomes increasingly clear that I can’t make everything ok for her, and I can’t make everything ok for me either.

As I hone into what is going on with me, how it feels to my being that my daughter is out in the world and afraid, I find a sense of powerlessness. Powerlessness is no stranger to me, but this powerlessness feels different than the powerlessness I grew up with. I don’t feel debilitated, I feel humbled. There is a resonance in my being that says it is safe for me to acknowledge, “I am not in charge,” while feeling all the big feelings that come with that. There is something in me that knows “I can trust.” These affirmations nourish me, as they feel true deep in my being. When affirmations don’t feel true for me, and are instead more of a platitude, I don’t use them.
.

.
Faking it?

I’ll be honest, faking it doesn’t work for me anymore. If I use an affirmation that feels empty, I honor that feeling and attend to what is actually present in my experience. Anymore, if I use an empty affirmation to cover up my actual experience, pressure will start to build up in my system, I will start to dissociate, and I “go mental”- AND I will continue to feel unsettled. For me, the distinction between an empty and a resonant affirmation is huge and important to pay attention to.

However, there was a time when empty affirmations provided some ready-made assistance for my system, and if you fit into that category then please use them!

Sometimes we need to ground or “land” and affirmations may help with that. Ideally, it is in those moments that a combination of somatic practices and affirmations are used to help the nervous system gain some temporary relief. However, sometimes we aren’t able to land, period. It is during such times that the mind just needs a sense of certainty, and affirmations can provide some temporary relief at those times. Said another way, sometimes we can use the mind to help calm the mind.

Once the mind is just a little more calm, we can start to add the body. While the feet are on the floor, and the back is against the chair, the words “I am safe,” for example, might be repeated while slowly breathing. The nervous system loves practicality, so connecting with and feeling the floor and the chair (for example) can provide physiological relief. Adding in the words “I am safe” may still the hamster wheel mind so that the relief can be felt deeper.

When we really know safety, we won’t need the affirmation, but until that time, the affirmations can be a way to provide ourselves with temporary support. They can teach us to find a sense of inner knowing and trust.
.

.
Sustainability

I find it more sustainable and ultimately compassionate to honor what is actually being felt or thought as opposed to try to manipulate it into something we wish it were. Honoring our lived experiences, even when they are uncomfortable, allows us to really honor ourselves, rather than deny or alter ourselves, which has a tone of violence in it. The “fake it till you make it” adage can only go so far until it becomes a form of self-harm, mirroring the lack of care and attentiveness so many of us experienced in our childhoods.

When we include things as they are, we can know sustainable connection with ourselves and with life. When we don’t have to bypass, pretend, and manipulate, a sustainable sense of peace and trust becomes a lived experience as opposed to a pipe dream.

A client today expressed this: “Sobriety for me means not trying to manipulate or control how I feel and think.” I loved this so much, and of course, it is a journey as it has been the default setting for most of us to manipulate, control, pretend and be asleep at the wheel of our lives. Let’s continue to learn, and journey, together.

 

Facilitator Training 2018 with Lisa Meuser and Fiona Robertson

Facilitator Training 2018 with Lisa Meuser and Fiona Robertson

 

If you’d like to apply to become a Certified Living Inquiries Facilitator, you are welcome to apply to join our upcoming training course which will begin this September.

One of our current trainees recently wrote this about her experience:

“I am treating this course differently than I’ve ever treated any endeavor in my life. I have always been driven to succeed, to establish mastery, to become expert and competent at what I begin. I needed to justify my existence by doing and accomplishing. I’ve taken a giant step back from that strategy, willing to learn experientially in whatever time it takes instead of coercing myself to master the material. The gift of this course and the Inquiries to me is immeasurable. I don’t have to do anything other than be exactly who I am. This work is amazing. “

For more information, check out https://www.livinginquiries.com/training/   or email me! llmeuser@me.com

 

 

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

Support yourself in becoming truly available for your life. 

 

From a recent participant:

“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.”

 

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.

 

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.

 

These monthly gatherings 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:  July 6th and 27th.  1:30-2:45 EST.

 

Investment: Sliding scale based on income: $10- $25. To sign up please send PayPal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link.  Free 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/

 

Opening the Doors to Freedom

This was originally posted on the Living Inquiries web site as “Clearing Out the Basement; Decluttering Our Subconscious Interpretations of Love and Connection
Synopsis: Exploring our psyches reveals our unconscious meaning making with regards to love, greatly impacting our life and our relationships.

 

Photo By Caity Johnstone

 

There are many different ways in which we interpret love and connection.

As kids, because our survival depends on being attended to, we basically interpret love according to whatever brings us attention- regardless of the actual quality of the attention. Furthermore, we attach the experience and meaning of love/connection (and thus safety) to people, places, things and behaviors (actions) that come from “out there” (ie our careproviders) during those formative years. How this translates isn’t often very linear because of the amount of variables, and as such doesn’t always make much sense to an adult mind on the surface. In fact, it can be quite nonsensical and convoluted!

For example, let’s take the subject of coddling. One child might interpret coddling behavior from a caregiver as love and connection, whilst another might interpret coddling as a threat/suffocating. As those children grow into adults, they might come to have a push-pull (attraction-revulsion) reaction to people who coddle them. For reasons unbeknownst to them, they may both crave and resist attention that has a coddling vibration to it. Moreover, they will probably not understand this tendency until they explore their personal meaning-making with regard to what they perceive and interpret as love (as well as what they associate with coddling itself).

The hidden layers of what we have attached to love and connection are deeply rooted in our psyches. These layers can easily go unnoticed and unnamed as we humans are often complacent, resting in the thought that “this is just the way things are.” Whilst that may be true, unless we can unpack “how things are” we will continue to live through our subconscious meaning-making, which often results in a very unsatisfying life.


The Trap

How many of us have a basement (or room/corner/closet/drawer/garage) where we pile things… and even though we know it would be useful to do so, we resist cleaning it out? (It is possible, too, that we don’t even realize how much stuff we’re accumulating down there.) Because cleaning out a dark basement is neither comfortable nor easy, we often just leave things there and, instead of dealing with what’s already down there, we avoid it and shift our attention elsewhere. We busy ourselves with everything BUT that basement (or room/corner/closet/drawer/ garage).

This is what we often do with our own patterning- which, whether we know it or not, is largely in our subconscious.

Instead of going inward into our own conditioning we keep focusing outward, and with regard to the topic of love this can get particularly tricky. Trying to get love from “out there” will always bring about a somewhat complicated and often twisted relationship to it. And when the voice or narrative inside mimics the voices from outside (often the critical voices of our caregivers), it gets even more complicated and we can begin to feel trapped.

Depending on how convoluted our relationship with love has become, the more dramatic and chaotic our narratives will get. This can lead to a dramatic or chaotic life as we make harmful choices or numb ourselves in order to escape from such narratives.

Opening the Door to the Basement

Escaping the trap happens in different ways for different people.

A loved one might say something to us that makes us question our choices and habits. We might be experiencing such pain or loneliness that we reach out to a professional to help us make changes. Or a “wake up” moment might appear out of nowhere, coming from a total stranger who just happens to say something at “the right time.” Suffering and dissatisfaction can be good motivators, but questioning our lives is seldom easy and may not even seem possible. It may take us nearly our whole life before we finally take action, stop doing what we’ve always done, and embark upon a new course.

You might be lucky enough to have already opened that “basement door.” Maybe you were ready, or maybe the door was opened for you and life shoved you through the doorway kicking and screaming. Or maybe you’re apprehensively staring at that door, still closed, considering what might happen if you open it.

Personally, life has opened many doors in many ways to my many levels of basement. (Yes, apparently one basement level wasn’t deep enough for all my “stuff!”)

Sometimes I have willingly stepped through the door. Sometimes pain and suffering have nudged me through. And sometimes I have avoided the door altogether until life forced me through… despite my clinging to the doorframe, holding on for dear life.

Thank goodness it doesn’t always have to be like that.

Sometimes grace seems to gently open the door for us. And sometimes, after we’ve decided to get comfortable and “make friends” with the basement, the door stays somewhat open and no longer avoided. This “open door policy” has been my own personal path for the last many years, which brings me back to the topic of love.

It’s been my passion the last few years to explore what seems to separate me from Love. In doing so I’ve explored deep terrain and, while it was certainly not comfortable or easy, it has resulted in a more spacious “basement,” a more spacious narrative, and a very different relationship with love.

The Space to Notice More

On my own journey of wading through my false perceptions of love, I have come to know a much deeper and wider Love (which will be the topic of a later post). Suffice it to say that there is less drama and chaos in both my narrative and my life… in all ways. My relationships with people are more clean, clear, and genuine. My relationship with money is healthier. And my relationship with my career continues to become more and more filled with ease. Overall, there is an increased spaciousness with life.

This spaciousness itself is amazing.
Here I find true, sustainable connection and Love.
And yet…

And yet…

To reside in this spaciousness itself is in opposition to my learned conditioning because I come from a lineage of do-ers. And so, the spaciousness itself… the silence itself… can sometimes be uncomfortable. Even though I know there is beauty here (and love and connection), I sometimes resist.

I noticed this recently, so back into my basement I went.

Exploring the Discomfort of Spaciousness

The discomfort was a cue that something was up.

I took it as an invitation to pay more attention to what was going on. As I noticed the discomfort connected to spaciousness, I noticed visceral responses I was having to the silence and that increased spaciousness over all.

I noticed a subtle resistance and so began to study how it was manifesting in my life, noting where it was happening most often and under what circumstances. This is what I found: it was mainly arising in my bed, with regards to my phone/Facebook. And with it came a gut level push-pull within my body.

Giving Space to the Push-Pull

You see, a recent change I’d made in my life was to not engage on Facebook (or on my phone much at all) while I was in bed. This was a big shift for me as I often do social media at the beginning and end of my days… from bed. But I was inspired one day, from an internal whisper, to not bring the phone into bed as much anymore—and to stop Facebooking there—and I have learned to trust these whispers.

It was unexpectedly marvelous.

Until it wasn’t.

For the most part it was easier than I had imagined, maybe because the experience of spaciousness is so rewarding in and of itself. However… at times, existing in that gap of space and silence, I found a part of me that wanted to fill it.

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine about it. “I notice that at times I want to fill the space with ‘busy hands,’” I told her. This simple act of naming allowed me to see that some part of me still resists the silence and the space, habitually wanting to fill it with “doing” and “going out there.”

It’s as if some part of me still thinks that love and connection are to be found “out there,” even though experientially I find it sustainably here.

(Side note: This is not to say that love and connection are never experienced “out there.” We are not solipsistic creatures; we are tribal and community-based creatures. And yet, for me in this current aspect of my journey, there is very little sustainable and fulfilling connection that comes from my busy hands scrolling through my newsfeed, especially when compared to the richness and depth of what has been waiting for my attention “in the gap” lately.)

I kept exploring, and found more

Upon this realization, I decided to bring the topic to inquiry and consciously explore what was going on.

After settling in and sitting still for a while I connected with the sensations of the push-pull. There was a subtle visceral sensation in my chest area that accompanied the desire to “be busy” (distracted) on my phone as opposed to being in the gap (without distractions).

I was quickly brought back to memories of my childhood when my mom was in “taking care of” mode. For her, “taking care of” meant practical actions, not being present with what was going on. Staying busy, doing things, figuring things out… this was the world in which I grew up. There was no “being present,” resting in spaciousness, or truly connecting to my feelings or experience. Presence and spaciousness got zero recognition for me as a child, so of course I’d not have attributed any value to them back then.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we attach the experience and meaning of love and connection to people, places, things, and behaviors that come from “out there.” In my case, I had equated love with “taking care of” actions as opposed to presence or spaciousness with regards to my actual experience.

This was not new information. But the awareness of this information was coming from deep within my being, which created the space for new hidden fragments to come to the surface.

Particularly profound was the clarity that those practical displays of “being taken care of” by my mother happened at the expense of what was really going on for me: the ignoring of my emotion was actually seen as loving. In other words, ignoring or bypassing my inner terrain was seen as the loving thing to do, and even as love itself.

How can that be?

I make a living tending to others’ well-being through presence and compassion. I don’t ignore or bypass others’ emotions or others’ inner terrains, so how could I possibly think it was loving to ignore my own emotions and experience?

The fascinating thing about the depth of our subconscious beliefs is that they often don’t make sense to the logical or linear mind. And they often don’t make sense when considering the adult context of a person. I.e., it doesn’t make sense to my adult self that I would be with people who are unable to hold space for my humanity. But the pieces start to come together once I journey into the subconscious unprocessed belief that my child self developed: that ignoring my feelings is love, and going outward into action is love.

It’s no wonder that, until recently, I have attracted people who were good at practical aspects but have not been able to be present or compassionate for my actual experience. I’d been equating love with the former, while not including the latter!

The Freedom to Feel

The surfacing of this awareness brought grief and anger, and I allowed myself to deeply connect to all that was arising within my body. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I connected to my child self who wanted presence and compassion, and instead got action. Specific memories arose, and I took my time honoring all that was coming with them. My entire body became hot and constricted as the sadness and grief morphed into anger. Images of being “Hulk mad!” flashed through my mind’s eye and my breath became forceful as energies moved through me, from my head all the way down to my toes.

As those emotions and the energies attached to them made their way through my body, eventually settling, I was brought back again to the push-pull with my phone in bed. There seemed to be something at stake with regard to giving up the “busy hands.”

I discovered that there was a hidden fear that if I consciously allowed myself to go deeper into the gap—into quiet, into spaciousness—then I wouldn’t be taken care of. I honored that this was a pain body echo from my childhood, and allowed it the attention it needed. As I felt that a deeper truth eventually whispered itself: I will absolutely be taken care of fully in the gap, in ways I can’t even imagine.

I deeply experienced love entwined with presence, and experienced directly how that took care of everything, without a doubt, and without a doing. A knowing was received that love and connection in their purest representations (Love) reside in that gap, waiting for me, always.

A sat awhile longer, breathing and letting my system integrate what had just graciously flowed through. Deep gratitude washed over me.

Opening Doors

I have discovered that this internal decluttering has opened doors to an increased simplicity and ease in my life. Mysteriously, it has brought forth whispers that I had previously been unable to hear. Many of these whispers are insightful, creative, and full of aliveness. Some of them are echos of familiar deficiency stories that I’ve been exploring for a while and are reminders of old pain body.

They are all welcome. They all hold wisdom.

Taking the plunge and courageously exploring the basements of our psyches brings all sorts of things to the surface, which allows for a more satisfying and genuine connection to life as a whole.

When the basement door is kept open, and when we make ourselves more available to the whispers of the subconscious, profound revelations and healings can rise up effortlessly- for our evolution.

In my own life, as someone who guides others through their dysfunctional attachments to love, I’ve been able to do the same with regard to myself… and the revelations continue to come! The more I “clean up the basement,” so to speak, the more spacious and fulfilling my life gets.

Just as cleaning the basement in our home creates a more functional living space, when we clean up the basements in our psyches we too become more functional—and consequently more connected and loving human beings.

Thank you for reading! For more information on self-inquiry, exploring belief systems, and unwinding trauma, contact me at llmeuser@me.com.

June 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:  June 8th & 22nd. 1:30-2:45 EST

July: 6th and 27th  http://integrativehealingnow.com/blog/july-gathering-dates-and-information-gathering-journeying-and-deepening-together/

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/

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