Category Archives: Uncategorized

Connecting together: December’s Embodied Monthly Gathering

Getting to know you: An Embodied Monthly Gathering

This gathering is purposely scheduled on what might be a busy holiday weekend as this is often the time we most need to take an hour for ourselves. We will spend our time together connecting inside ourselves and  connecting with others who are on this embodied journey.

Participation is always optional. <3

More on what inspires these monthly gatherings:

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

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

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

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

 

Please contact me with questions and for the dates as the dates change each month.

Winter dates:

December 23rd, 12-1:15pm EST.

(January’s date: January 13th, 12-1:15 EST)

Where: Zoom, link sent after payment is received.

Cost: $15, paypal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering.”

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/

Discover your invitation to Re-set, and Rest

This is reposted from the Living Inquiries web site: http://www.livinginquiries.com/discovering-re-set-button/

Synopsis: There is the invitation to reconnect, to start over, to re-set… in every breath, in every moment.

 

I was lying in bed the other morning- thinking thinking thinking.

Thinking about a guy. Thinking about my daughter. Thinking about my calendar and my clients and my mom and my to-do list and and and and… Before I knew it I was thinking about thinking, and I was well on my way to being caught up in “it.”

 

You know “it,” don’t you? I think of “it” as a hamster wheel that moves around and around, containing within it “the shit stack” of life stuff that needs to be solved, figured out, and evaluated. Oh, this hamster wheel! It has the potential to pull one in when they least expect it.

 

We all have multiple internal hamster wheels. Some are massive and seem to be made up of the entirety of life itself. Others are small, or less noticeable, and are in and out of our attention. Regardless of size, though, once we are aware that our focus is racing away inside a hamster wheel, we’re no longer utterly consumed by it but, instead, are in relationship with it. This is an amazing first step – an empowering first step – because from that place of awareness we can then direct our attention towards something other than the hamster wheel…

 

Said another way, sometimes all it takes to throw a wrench in the works of that hamster wheel is the recognition that our attention is being consumed by it in the first place. Experiencing massive mental activity is the first sign for me – I can literally feel the tension in my head. And then having that awareness of “Oh!! I am really ‘mentaling’ right now!” allows me to give pause, and change behavior.

With one fully engaged breath, I can change my path.

 

That’s what happened on the morning I mentioned, as I was lying in bed thinking myself into a flurry. One deep breath, and all of a sudden my system was reset. Did my “problems” go away? Did the calendar empty out? No. Nothing really changed…except my attention. But that changed everything. My body relaxed. My senses awakened. I was present.

 

We can be so busy in our lives, taking in more and more data as we go.

Think about it- Every cell in our body has a sense receptor, so our bodies are constantly taking in sensory information. We’re quite literally “sense receptor mechanisms,” so it’s no wonder we are overwhelmed by the end of the day! But we don’t have to be, if we can just pay attention.

 

Due to habit, most of us continuously “tune out” or become dissociative in the face of overwhelm. This is an innocent strategy but is not sustainable, and bit by bit it actually adds to our experience of overwhelm. Luckily there is another way! We can choose to curiously and gently work with ourselves in such a way as to not feel overwhelmed by the end of the day, by simply resetting our systems.

 

At any moment we can push the reset button.

 

Pushing the reset button allows us to release old data so that we can take on fresh data.
Pushing the reset button allows us to experience the present moment, instead of living from the hamster wheel of the chaotic mind.
Pushing the reset button allows us to feel, instead of engaging in unhealthy behaviors which keep us from feeling.

 

How can we push the reset button?

There’s obviously no actual button to push, but we can experience a reset through conscious and mindful attention. Here are a few simple suggestions:

 

Stop. This is the first step to a reset. Take moments throughout the day to literally stop moving, and/or take moments throughout the day to stop ‘mentallizing’ (e.g. figuring out, analyzing, problem-solving, evaluating, judging, or thinking about thoughts). Stop any engagement in action and do-ing, and bring yourself into a state of “non-productivity.” While stopped, consciously bring attention to your breath. The breath can reset your system in a variety of ways: it can reset your nervous system; it can put a wrench in that hamster wheel; and it can bring your awareness into the present moment.

 

Slow down. As just mentioned, slowly bring your awareness to the present moment, through breath (or sensation). It’s impossible to breathe in the past, or to breathe in the future. It follows that, when you bring attention to the breath that is happening right now, you’ll automatically be bringing attention to the present moment. Follow the cycle of breath – all the way from your nostrils, down through your body to your lungs and belly, and then back up. Feel your body being engaged with the breathing that is happening in this moment. Some people find bringing attention to their breath triggering. If this is the case for you, go ahead and bring your attention to physical sensations: feeling into your toes, fingers, or sit bones, for example.

 

Simplify. Bring attention to the simplest of happenings, right now. Have you ever noticed that the mind loves to complicate everything? When you notice that everything seems extremely complicated, you’re likely caught smack dab in the centrifugal force of the hamster wheel. Find something – anything – simple in your present situation. Maybe it’s your feet on the floor, or your butt in the chair. Maybe it’s air moving in and out of nostrils. Maybe it’s the sounds or scents being perceived. Or the wind on your face. Maybe it’s the blinking of your eye lids.

 

Feel. Feel into the simplicity you’re connecting with. Don’t focus on thinking about your feet on the floor, but feeling your feet on the floor. Feel the air coming in and out of your nostrils. Feel your ribs move with your breath cycle. Feel the wind/air on your face.

 

Curiosity. Engage your curious inner child. Be curious about… well, about anything! Be curious about the leaves blowing in the wind. Or the sound of the birds. Or how you can feel your heartbeat move through your body. Being curious opens the neural network in the brain’s right hemisphere which helps to facilitate awareness and spaciousness. Being curious is not about finding answers or figuring anything out – it’s precisely the opposite. It’s similar to wondering, just for the sake of wondering.

 

Once you’ve stopped yourself in your (mental or literal) tracks, continue to curiously and slowly stay present, allowing your nervous system – and maybe even your day – to reset. It always amazes me to rediscover how much less stressful life becomes when I engage in reset practices. I no longer feel the pressure to “figure out,” and the tendency to get caught up in “it” loosens its hold.

Please try these suggested techniques next time you find yourself thinking thinking thinking away on that hamster wheel. I suspect that with a little practice you’ll find that, as a result, life becomes more fluid, restful, and enjoyable!

 

 

Let us Breath

A client today explored his need to seek out solutions. “What if, as a child, I was taught or guided to just feel, instead of immediately look for solutions”, he pondered.

Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting solutions to problems. But too often, in this fixing and solving and left brained focused world we live in, we forget to feel and we seek through solutions.

What if we spent a moment on feeling before jumping into solutions? There’s feelings under all that, waiting to be felt.

What if we stayed put, and breathed with what’s actually here now, instead of distracting ourselves away from what’s here now?

Sometimes we can act AND feel. Jump, scream, yell, cry. Let those emotions act through you. Feeeeeeeeel what you’re feeling.

When we jump to solutions to evade feeling, the feelings don’t go away. The pain, the fear, the anger, the grief… it all stays.

When the seeking is released, and the feelings allowed, wisdom in the form of solutions will arise naturally from the ashes. Until then, let us hold ourselves. Let us breath. Let us breath.

Getting to know you: An Embodied Monthly Gathering

Getting to know you: An Embodied Monthly Gathering

 

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

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

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

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

 

Please contact me with questions and for the dates as the dates change each month.
Fall Dates:

November 18th, 12-1:15pm EST.

 

Where: Zoom, link sent after payment is received.

Cost: $15, paypal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering.”

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/

Aliveness Communion

I long

to know

what it is like

to be in the

mind

of a baby

*

A time when

solidity and

certainty

aren’t The main

objectives

of the mind.

*

When inherent curiosity

and the space

of the neural pathways

gives way

to fluidity

with ease.

*

When

“I know”

doesn’t

even

register

or

matter

*

And the

viscerality

of uncertainty

is a way of being

instead of

occasionally remembered.

*

To be lost

in this moment

and commune

with you.

Aliveness;

here, now.

Wow.

Healing the Wounds; Pain Body Parenting

 

“She wants to trap me.”

“She’s always trying to control me.”

“She’s ruining my life on purpose.”

“She knows that what she’s doing is driving me crazy.”

“Clearly, she’s here to make my life miserable.”

 

 

Let’s take a poll. Who do you think “she” is in the above statements?

  1. The speaker’s mother
  2. The speaker’s partner/spouse/housemate/friend
  3. The speaker’s child
  4. The speaker’s pet
  5. The speaker’s colleague
  6. <<insert anyone, from waitress, to sales clerk, to person driving in front of them, etc>>

 

 

Realistically, it could be anyone. When we have a sense that other people trap us, control us, ruin our lives, and make us miserable, then we can’t help but project that onto the people around us. You see, the person above isn’t really talking about another person. The person is talking about his or her own relationship to the world and how it makes them feel. These sentiments are encapsulated by their current interaction, which they then project upon the other and they think, “It’s them.” Chances are good that these thoughts aren’t new, either. They’ve likely been around for awhile, either consciously or subconsciously, and they probably first came on the scene when the individual was quite young. Possibly pre-cognition.

 

 

You might be wondering, “Who would think that their infant is trying to trap them?” (particularly if you’ve never had children). Regardless of what you’re thinking, my clients are normal everyday people – people like you, and people like me. In fact, my clients often express things to me that I’ve thought countless times about my own child. As I’ll expand on later, when I was a young mother I was often operating from past hurts and experiences that I’d never processed. Those hurts infiltrated my thoughts, crept into my life, and were projected onto my daughter. So when my clients utter sentiments like you read up top, I understand. My clients are humans who get overwhelmed and feel powerless. I get it. I’ve been there, too.

 

 

We can most easily get a sense of these projections when we make the recipient of these accusations an infant. It is unlikely that a sane, rational mind would honestly think that an infant is here to purposely make life hard for its parents. But those thoughts aren’t coming from a sane, rational person. They are coming from a person who, ultimately, is stuck in their own childhood. They are coming from a person who is in pain, and is likely blaming themselves. But blaming oneself feels horrible, and utterly disempowering, rendering a parent even less capable. So the blame moves outwards, as a survival strategy, onto the object that seems to be causing the problems: the child.

 

Oddly enough, this blaming outwards is the opposite of what we do when we’re young. As young people it’s not safe to get mad at our caregivers. It wouldn’t be a wise move to blame the person who is in charge of feeding, clothing, housing, and – most importantly – loving us. We can’t bite the hand that feeds us, or hate the heart that’s in charge of loving us. So, unbeknownst to even ourselves, in our earliest days we don’t get mad at our parents, and we don’t blame them. Instead, we internalize it all, we experience powerlessness, and then we assume that something is wrong with us to explain why Mom or Dad isn’t there when needed, to explain why they yell or hit, or why they ignore us. We assume it’s something we’ve done when our parents’ attention forsakes us for our siblings, their partners or friends, their job, or even their phone or the TV. We assume that it’s us- whatever is going on, it’s our fault.

 

Naturally this is disempowering, and we try to regain that power by pleasing those around us so that they will give us the food, clothing, housing, and love that we so desperately need. We hide our true feelings, and we put on appearances. But underneath those appearances lies the self-blame in which we’ve become trapped, controlled, crazy, and miserable. We’re still just kids, and we don’t yet have the internal or external resources to acknowledge all of that…but we feel it. And we don’t yet have the internal or external resources to process those feelings…so we repress them. Those feelings remain there. Buried. Deep. This is what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain body.

 

What or who triggers these repressed emotions and feelings? There are plenty of variables, including how stressed we are or how powerless we feel. It could be the person ahead of us in line, or the people we love the most. When we haven’t become aware of the repressed ideas and emotions that are running the show, we simply can’t help but project our (sometimes paranoid) thoughts onto our lovers, our friends, and even our innocent infants.

 

I’m sure by now you’ve got a sense of how this projection has shown up in your life – both how you’ve been projected upon, and how you have projected onto others. I’ve been on both sides of this as well. An ex-boyfriend who hadn’t processed his childhood could not help but project all the ill sentiments he had for his sisters and mother onto me. Being the youngest, he felt small in his family in every way. From his young-self perspective, the women in his life seemed to control him, and one day he decided that people would not get to tell him “No.” You can imagine the toxicity of that relationship: when I said “No” to him, I’d trigger that small powerless child self that still existed within his grown adult self. And he projected his fears onto me from that child self who felt controlled by others. I thought I was dealing with a grown adult man, but often I wasn’t.

 

I’ll admit, however, that I have done the same. When I was a young mother there were plenty of times when I wasn’t acting from a mature adult place – I was responding from that overwhelmed girl from my own childhood. When I was a child and I disappointed my mom, she’d be angry, but since anger was not a safe emotion in our household she’d shut down and become cold to me. Then I’d shut down. As such, shutting down to strong emotions became my go-to strategy. As a new mother who hadn’t processed my own childhood, when my daughter would exhibit anger I’d handle it calmly…for a while. But if it continued I’d become overwhelmed and start to feel powerless and trapped. And then, sure enough, I’d shut down. I’d shut down inside myself and I’d shut down to her, making myself emotionally unavailable to her as my mother had done to me. I mirrored behavior directly from my childhood, and projected that onto her.

In both examples the adult in the situation felt controlled or trapped, as well as powerless, and so projected outwardly as if the other person were making their life miserable. From a distance we can see that this came from unhealed childhood wounds, but in the moment the projections seemed completely valid and accurate. It was clearly “them”- i.e. the other person’s fault.

 

Hearing these stories from clients and reconnecting with my own life stories reminds me of the vulnerability of parenting, of relating, of loving, of being. I take a glance back in time and I feel the pain of both my child and my younger parenting self – and in that pain, both of us doing the best we could. Wanting to be a better parent, for myself and for my child, led me to explore my unprocessed childhood – my conditioning and my unmet hurts. And even now, with my child in her teens, strong emotions can still start to fill me with overwhelm. Luckily I have tools that I didn’t have when she was a baby, and when I start to feel the overwhelm flag flying I immediately pause. I feel down and into my being. I breathe. And I breathe again. Then from my being I look at her being, from a place beyond personality. And I feel again into me. Only after the flood of immediacy washes past me do I respond. I wait until I’m inwardly connected from a place of wholeness. And later, when I have the time and space, I go deeper into the stuck places that catch me, releasing the layer of pain body that had arisen.

 

If you are a parent who finds yourself in predicaments where you can’t help but project onto you kids… please get to know yourself. Through a therapist or your own deep inner work, identify and heal your own childhood wounds. Get to know what triggers you. Then when you start to feel triggered, stop and take care before engaging with your child (whenever possible). When you take care of you, you take care of those you love. Here are some ways to take care that are designed to support and help regulate stress and overwhelm:

 

  1. Pause what you’re doing and get a glass of water. Not thirsty? Do it anyway. Taking the time to slowly walk to the kitchen, drink some water, and walk back will buy you some time to s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n, breathe, feel, and remind yourself that your child (or any other perceived offender) is not purposefully trying to destroy you. Remind yourself that your child is just a small being on this planet without inner resources. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can with what you have available. As you walk, breathe consciously.

 

  1. Breathe. Consciously. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Bring your mind into your breath. Drop your attention into the actual experience of breath coming in and out of your lungs, your diaphragm, your nostrils.

 

  1. Smell something good. Flowers. Chocolate. Fresh air. Lavender.

 

  1. Go outside, or look outside. My favorite outdoor objects to connect with are trees. I look at the trees. I feel the trees. I become connected with the trees. I breathe into my legs and my own root system. Connect with what resonates with you. Birds, plants, clouds, the sky, the breeze…

 

  1. Ground. Feel into your lower belly and sacral area. Breathe here. Feel here. Center here. Move downward through your legs, to your feet. Center here. Ground here. Breathe here.

 

  1. Pray, set an intention, and/or ask for support. Bring your attention to your heart and silently connect with yourself, your attention, your highest self, or whatever “God” means to you.

 

  1. Know that “this too shall pass.” No moment, no matter how good or bad, ever lasts forever. Breathe.

 

  1. Look – with curiosity – for the innocence of that moment. The innocence of your child’s eyes. The innocence in you not knowing what to do. The innocence of the predicament. The innocence of your exhaustion. The innocence of your love.

 

  1. Hum or sing. Music stimulates the spacious centers in your brain, while humming and singing helps your system “find itself” in times of stress.

 

  1. Make a mental note of what triggered you and what you’d like to explore later, when you have time and support. Write it down or send yourself an email. If you don’t know how to do somatic work, or even if you do, consider connecting with a somatic practitioner to help you connect with your subconscious pain body. Your inner child deserves your attention, too. Your adult self as well as your loved ones will thank you for it.

 

 

I think back to the days when I didn’t have these skills, and I feel compassion for myself and my daughter, but also grief. Taking time to sit and feel – sadness, regret, and shame arise. I sit and feel. I breathe. I sit and feel some more until all the stories are gone, and love remains. I feel love for the daughter that I was, and for my own mother who mothered me to the best of her abilities. I feel love for the mother that I sometimes was: angry, scared, and sad. I feel love for my daughter, who was being her perfect child self, caught in the web of my conditioning.

To me and my lineage: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

 

I honor all parents on their path. I extend love and compassion as we do our best to not repeat our parents’ “mistakes.” Just know that we can’t help it when we do. My heart sends love and compassion and healing to all our parents and their parents, to all our child selves, to all our children, and to all our adult selves as we still heal from our child wounds. Onward, forward, one breath at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to know you: An Embodied Monthly Gathering- October 14th

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

When This month’s gathering will be October 14th, 12-1:15pm EST.  Future dates TBA

Please contact me with questions

Where: Zoom, link sent after payment is received.

Cost: $15, paypal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering.”

Shadow Dancing

Both the light and shadow are the dance of love (Rumi)

 

In the middle of the day, a sky filled with blue and a little bit of white suddenly became dark. The insects quieted. The birds stopped singing. Day-light became day-dark. Stars and planets became visible. The world as we knew it- our *view of the world*- became another world. Bang! Perception altered.

The recent eclipse gave us a firsthand view into how darkness becomes our reality when light is obscured from our vision. We’re used to this in a very specific presentation called ‘night.’ But it was like a magic trick to see day transform into night…during the day.

 

During this rare moment, I heard people gush about how they were blown away by the beauty. The sudden expression of lightness transitioning into darkness, then back into lightness was SO REAL and in our faces – something for all of us to see and for all of us to share. The sky was met with reverence and mystery. We took it all in: Light. Dark. Light.

 

A bit less novel and perhaps taken for granted, we don’t question how every evening and again every morning we move from light into dark, back into light again. It is simply part of our reality. We don’t try to change it. We adapt. We accept it. We allow it to be what it is.

 

Our days (and nights) are also filled with emotional eclipses, when darkness temporarily obscures light or light obscures darkness. We call them “bad moods” or “good moods,” and a slew of other things. We slip in and out of these often, experiencing a glimmer of light amid persistent darkness, or a shadow of darkness within persistent light. When we get caught in these eclipses, we often project these interpretative perceptions onto people, places, thing, politics… you get the gist… or onto the nature of who we are at our very core.

 

In this relative existence, most concepts have an opposite: good/bad, right/wrong, light/dark, and so on. And we as human beings prefer to be “on the side of” good, right, and light. We love to be associated with the “positive” side of these concepts. We love to be the bright shining sun, not the moon which obscures it. But, as many of us observed Monday, this obscuring has its own kind of beauty, too.

 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be associated with the positives. That’s natural. But the truth is that we all have our shadows and the eclipse was a glaring reminder that the shadow – the darkness – is an inevitable part of this reality.

 

Too often we’re so busy hiding from this side of ourselves that it quietly consume us, sometimes without us ever knowing it. We inadvertently become slaves to these shadow sides, in our ignorance or denial of them. I had a boyfriend once who, when he wasn’t getting his way, loved to call me arrogant and a hypocrite (neither of which I denied, fwiw), and when I’d tell people about this they’d laugh as they considered the source. He was well known for exemplifying the classic psychological move of projecting what we don’t like about ourselves – what we’re unwilling to meet within ourselves – onto others.

 

What happens to the shadows that we are in denial of? Unlike the ones created by the sun, our internal shadows don’t naturally shift away on their own. But we’re a stubborn species and sometimes we’ll do just about anything but feel or acknowledge our shadows, and this avoidance feeds our culture’s heavily addictive personality as we try to ignore or escape them. We bury ourselves in food, social media, gambling, sex, drugs, alcohol, work, unhealthy relationships. We want to feel love- but we can’t- because our shadows are ‘harshing our mellow.’ So we numb ourselves or act out instead.

While the shadows that we desperately try to conceal may, on the surface, seem to be about things like arrogance or hypocrisy, or racism, sexism, homophobia, and other judgmental traits, underneath these ‘negative’ characteristics are deficiency stories – a sense that we’re not good enough, that we’re unlovable, that we’re broken.

 

We try to hide our deficiency stories, clinging to a façade of power and strength, but they come out in our anger, in our judgments, in our fears, and they fester into depression and hopelessness. We either project them onto others, or we sink into them within ourselves. These shadows shape our perceptions, our reality. We’re a culture full of unacknowledged and processed shadows. We’re a culture full of overt and overt covert addition.

 

What if we didn’t have to pretend that we didn’t have shadows? What if we didn’t have to pretend that we didn’t have deficiency stories? What if we didn’t have to pretend that we’re not addicts in some form or other? What if we didn’t have to pretend that we’re not perfect?

The opposite of pretending is honesty. What if we could be honest, with ourselves and with others, about our shadows? What if we could admit that we are hurting? What if we could accept that we are having a hard time, that we are scared or sad or angry? What if we could just be our fully human selves? We all know that love is the ultimate ‘positive’ aspect, but when we have to deny a part of ourselves, it’s not love – it’s self-loathing.

 

Most of us have what I call inner managers –essentially the part of us that insists on controlling things – and a while back, I was battling pretty heavily with mine. I was having a rough day after a series of miscellaneous triggers, and my nervous system went from fully operational to completely freaked out. Now, when my nervous system starts to freak out, my hamster-wheel mind starts to spin…and then if that momentum isn’t neutralized, in comes the overwhelm. I have a lot of tools to attend to these various experiences, but sometimes I just get lost in it. That’s when my inner manager comes out to see what the fuck is going on. As you might have guessed, she’s not the most kind or compassionate voice that plays in my head. She’s more like, “Let’s get this shit taken care of, Lisa!”

When I spotted this inner manager, I wanted to get rid of her. She was harsh, more like a bully than anything helpful, and I didn’t appreciate her being around. Well, guess what? My resistance to her only made her dig her heels in.

 

My body was tight. My nervous system continued to be amped up. Emotions were rampant. Self-loathing was on the upswing. But I quickly realized what was going on, and took a deep breath. Why was I making my inner manager into the bad guy? Why was I trying to push down this shadow part of myself? I had this idea that she was in the way of my peace. But it turns out that my resistance to her is what kept me from experiencing peace. My denial of her – not allowing her to be as she was – was the true cause of my agitation.

 

Once this revealed itself, I was able to acknowledge that she was actually welcome to be here. Thank you for revealing yourself, I told her. You’re welcome to stay. Hell, I actually love you, too! And then I let her be, as there was no reason or need for anything to be different then it was.

 

These shadow parts of ourselves aren’t bad – they have been created innocently, based on our childhood and our conditioning. If you want to hear about the formation of my inner manager…well, let’s have tea sometime and I’ll tell you all about her. 😉 But for now, just know that we all have shadows. We can’t have night without day, or light without dark; they are two sides of the same coin. We all have deficiency stories and shadow states that are part of our persona, and they’re not as terrible as we make them out to be…especially when we stop demonizing them, or shaming ourselves for having them. What began as self-loathing can transform into self-love as we allow our humanity to be here in all its variation.

 

We’re human. We exist within a plentitude of expressions – so explore them. Get to know your shadow sides. Get to know what makes them so loud, and why they are here in the first place. Learn their message and their lesson. Instead of projecting your shadows onto your friends, make friends with your shadows. Being honest about them and their existence will actually set them (and you) free, as well as dismantle the deficiency stories that are tied to them. When you shine light onto your shadows, something magical happens…the darkness that seems to be tied up with them shifts. And then, just like with an eclipse, the beauty of that light will again emerge.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to know you: An Embodied Monthly Gathering- September 23rd

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

When This month’s gathering will be September 23rd, 12-1:15pm EST.  Future dates TBA

Please contact me with questions

Where: Zoom, link sent after payment is received.

Cost: $15, paypal to llmeuser@me.com, subject line “Gathering.”

Rest in the Gap

When we stop to rest, to see what’s here, sometimes what we find is nothing, or the perception of space. Suddenly it’s quiet, as opposed to the chaos we’re used to.
Sometimes, when we find no-thing, quiet, we get scared because we want to find something- something that we think means… well, something.
Because we live in a thing based and a thing filled reality, finding no-thing or quiet can be disturbing. But if, for a moment, you can rest in the no-thing that you’ve discovered, without pretense or without wanting something, you’ll find peace in that nothing.
And yes, that peace can be uncomfortable because we’re not used to quiet.
Breathe and rest in the gap.