Category Archives: Uncategorized

April Embodied Gatherings: Being in the World, Being of Love

It is a safe human being who can humbly know one’s true nature. In this way, we can be in the world, whilst being of Love.

These gatherings are sacred spaces where everyone is welcome. People going through their Dark Night of the Soul experiences, people who have had awakenings and want community, people struggling in their life in various ways, and/or people simply wanting connection along their journey are likely to find home in these gatherings.

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our well-being. We gather to become more intimate with, and more available for, our life. For those who would like support in their journey, this is an affordable option.

Photo Credit: Karen Thursby

Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. Each gathering is organically shaped around attendees’ needs and wants. Each gathering includes a guided rest, time for questions and sharing, ways to heal the nervous system, and ways to engage in self-inquiry. Participation is always optional.

In this group we honor our experiences and we learn that we don’t have to pretend, or hide, or run. We gather together in a welcoming space where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are, and through slow, simple experiential practices we realize that profound safety can be found right here and now.

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

We live in a culture that often disempowers and creates stress, a culture that conditions us to find our well-being in people, places, and superficial activities and things – without teaching us sustainable, empowering safety from the inside out. As such, we often don’t know how to cope with existing in an overwhelming world, or how to recover from traumatic experiences. Many of us have developed post-traumatic stress as a result, and have forgotten that safety is possible.

We can learn. By providing a safe environment for this deliberate purpose, we can slowly and gently learn what it’s like to feel safe.

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

All are welcome here regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender or background. You are important, and appreciated, whoever you are.

Please note: days and times have changed!
April 7 at 1:30pm EST and April 28 at 4:30pm EST
You can come to one, or come to all! We will meet for 60-75 minutes on Zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep. Please contact me with questions, concerns or future dates: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

Investment: Sliding scale, what you can afford – $10-25 per gathering. To sign up please send a PayPal payment to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link. No one turned away due to insufficient funds. Free with Deepening Courses. Email me for details.

Minimum participants required: 4
Maximum: 15

From past participants:

Lisa is like a cocoon for expansion and love. I really love working with her. She walks her talk and creates a space for acceptance and non-judgment and I’m better able to accept and not judge myself and others. My heart has opened in my work with her. So grateful.

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

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

I have listened to the recording many times since our gathering. It continues to support me.

The Hidden Liberation in Exploring our Shoulds

This was posted in the Living Inquiries web site as “Exploring “Should Energy” As A Way To Increase Self-Awareness”


Artist Mike Waddel https://www.facebook.com/aniccaphoto/

I’ve been exploring “should energy” over the last month. Well, way longer than that. Shoulds and I go way back. Maybe you know what I mean, as it seems it’s a common feature of being human.

Should energy used to be imperceptible to me, while at the same time running my life. As I slowly developed a relationship with myself and my experiences through mindful practices and embodied inquiry, my system started to notice when should energy was running in the background. That noticing changed my life. Some invisible force no longer was pulling me along. Noticing that should energy was like shining a light on something I had often felt, but couldn’t see.

Naming the shoulds then took me another step forward and allowed me to ask questions of myself and engage in self-inquiry: Was it true that I “should” do X, Y or Z? Did I **have to** follow the should energy? What was really going on?

Push-Pull Dissonance
Many years ago I was doing inquiry on a conflict I was having with someone. I could feel this push-pull inside my gut. I did not want to speak with this person, and yet I felt like I had to because he was in my circle of friends. I was so twisted up inside until all of a sudden, I noticed that there was should energy running the whole show. As I stayed with it, more specifics were revealed: “You should get along with him. You should talk with him. You should work it out.” The second I named the shoulds, my entire system collapsed in relief.

As I allowed time for my body to feel that relief, I discovered that I could name both things as true: I did not want to speak with him yet and he was in my circle of friends. In that moment it was ok that both were true.

I was able to be with the discomfort of there being conflict, without the debilitating dissonance caused by should energy. That was a new experience for me. The increased awareness or noticing, and then naming the should energy, gave me the ability to be more of a conscious participant in my life, and the empowerment that came with that was something my system never forgot.

Since that experience, should energy has been recognized fairly easily by my system as it has a certain signature or felt expression for me, often through a sense of push/pull. However lately I’ve been studying should energy with closer conscious attention, as the shoulds in my life seem to keep getting more subtle and subtle, and access to my cellular memory has been becoming more and more available.

Disguised as Restlessness
I noticed a really subtle should sneak in one afternoon a few weeks ago. I had been looking forward to that afternoon all week, excited to have time to write about so much that was bubbling up inside me. When the afternoon came, and my house was quiet, I found myself tired. I wanted to just rest, but I had these nagging thoughts of wanting to take advantage of my time, using it to produce and create. I slowed down and as I felt into what was calling to me, I was able to honor my system’s need to rest and not produce. I took it easy that night, but I couldn’t quite shake the restlessness.

Family of Origin
The next day that unsettled energy/restlessness was still there, and as I did some embodied inquiry it took me right to should energy. I took my time to feel more deeply into the energy, and the context from the night before. Just saying the word “should” led my whole body to tighten. That let me know that there was a lot of Velcro, or meaning-making connected with that word.

I stayed with my contracted body as I said the word over and over. Eventually some content started to arise. I saw images of my grandparents’ house, which led to images of my grandfather.

As I continued to stay with what was arising I was able to see that my grandfather, who lived and breathed by rigid should energy, had passed his should beliefs on to me. It was like I was able to see a whole matrix of conditioning. I curiously studied all the should energy and corresponding beliefs that I took on from him, and as I did, they slowly started to release and I was able to get clear on what beliefs were his, and what were mine.

It was amazingly freeing to notice the various belief systems and their energetic tendrils that had been passed onto me, and that I now had a choice to be my own sovereign person, different than that of my familial lineage. This was not the first time that I had studied how my family of origin’s belief system had been imprinted upon me, but this time I was able to see the whole web in an even more profound way.

Family of Origin, Take 2
The topic came up again in an inquiry session the following week, and this time it was my other grandparents that showed up. Two different memories arose. Both contained un-integrated emotional events – one with my grandfather and one with my grandmother. As I slowly processed through each event it was powerful to connect with the different parts of me that were struggling, when, as a child I interacted with my grandparents. The thing that stood out with both memories was the lack of guidance I received then that I so needed. As I journeyed back, revisiting the emotional relationships between us, I was able to see the disconnect I felt. With that a well of grief arose that I had never known was there. Allowing myself to grieve allowed me to have compassion for myself, as well as them. When the tears subsided I was left with clarity that nothing needed to be different. There was a sense of simplicity, ease and understanding.

Curiosity Begets More Curiosity Begets Clarity
Over the next week my system continued to study hidden resonances of should energy that were coming up from within and which were also coming from various people around me. I was able to see with increased clarity that others’ expectations and should belief structures were exactly that – theirs. Being able to make that distinction gave others permission to be them, and me to be me, leaving me without dissonance or push/pull energy.

Noticing, Naming, Navigating
I’m not sure if the energy of shoulds will ever fully dissipate. Our culture feeds on expectations, obligations, and should-type energy and our families of origin often reinforce them, passing them on to us. We can stop the cycle, but it takes willingness to be mindful about our experiences and then inquire into them.

Freedom comes as we are able to notice the beliefs that bind us, name how they’re in place, and then navigate their release. But we can’t do any of this if we aren’t willing to look at what motivates/restrains us, or what is underneath the cognitive dissonance and anxious discomfort so many of us feel throughout our lives that are tied to should energy and belief structures.

For me, just asking myself “Are there are hidden shoulds here?” started to increase my awareness as to their existence. I also found it useful to ask about should energy coming from others, and then the should energy in me that showed up in response. “What should energy is X person coming from? How am I responding to that? Does it bring up my own shoulds? Do either of us need to be different than we are?”

Keep asking questions, keep being curious, keep noticing and keep naming. The clarity will come as a natural byproduct to that, as will a shift in your relationship with your experiences, yourself, and your world.

Tag words:
Self inquiry, Self awareness, curiosity, mindfulness, beliefs

March Embodied Gathering: Being in the World, Being of Love

March Embodied Gathering: Being in the World, Being of Love

Artist Trudy Campbell

Trudycampbellart.com (Please see note about the painting at the bottom)

It is only a safe human being who can humbly know one’s true nature.
In this way, we can be in the world, whilst being of Love.

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our wellbeing. We gather to become more intimate with, and more available for, our life.

For those who would like support in their journey, here’s an affordable option.

Safety is important. Our bodies, our spirits, and our psyches function with more wellbeing when safety is known from within.
We live in a culture that often disempowers and creates stress- and doesn’t teach us how to feel safe from within. Our culture teaches us to find safety in people, places, and in superficial doings and things. But it doesn’t teach us sustainable, empowering safety from the inside out.
Without this knowing, we often don’t know how to cope with being in an overwhelming world, or how to recover from traumatic experiences. We have forgotten that safety is possible, or maybe we’ve never known safety. Many of us have developed posttraumatic stress as a result.

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

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

In this group we honor our experiences and we learn how that we don’t have to pretend or hide- or run. We gather to intimately connect and explore the nature of being human. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are.

Through slow, simple experiential practices, we realize profound safety is here in our actual experience, in ways we hadn’t been able to see.

All are welcome here regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender or background. You are important, and appreciated, whoever you are.

From past participants:

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

You represent what Adyashanti talks about: “A safe place for the world to come and rest.” You are that safe, benign presence in the world.
I have listened to the recording many times since our gathering. It continues to support me.

Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. I always facilitate a guided rest. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. 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.

Please contact me with questions: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

Upcoming dates:
March 3rd and 24th- 1-2:15 pm EST.

You can come to one, or come to many, or come to all! We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep.

Investment: Sliding scale what you can afford: $10- $25 per gathering. To sign up please send PayPal to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link. No one turned away due to insufficient funds.
Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

Free with the upcoming Deepening Course, Discovering the Embodiment of Love. Email me for details.

To learn about me: http://integrativehealingnow.com/about.html
To read more about embodiment
For more, visit my blog, where I write almost exclusively about embodiment

Note about the painting: I felt conflicted about using this photo for the event. Wanting to celebrate my friend who is also a newly certified Living Inquiries facilitator… and yet it’s exclusivity stares me in the face. This tears at me, because I am adamant about the inclusion of all peoples, and here I am posting a painting that seems to be full of white people. Moving forward I will do better at being aware of my white lens, and what it is excluding.

Embodied Awareness: 101 for Coming out of the Head and into Love

First published on the living injuries web site as “Out of the Head, into the Body: How Simplifying can lead to Self-Love”

“How do I get things to be different? How can I be different? What can I do? What did you do?”

These questions come my way, in varied forms, almost every day. While most of my blog pieces share the intricacies of my own journey – belief systems, trauma and conditioning – this blog piece is going to be more about tools and practices that helped me get from there to here. I hope that some of what I share here will support and empower those who are looking to increase their level of well-being and build a loving relationship with their self.

What if?
A client was exploring their need to seek out solutions – to constantly go to their thoughts (or self-destructive actions) every time life felt hard. To my client, it felt very much like they were either living “in their head” or trying to escape from the thoughts in their head. They lived a life of varied compulsions and endless seeking. And while they were successful by culture’s standards, they were dissatisfied with their life, and often depressed.
As we worked together, something started to change in how they met life. The compulsive need to “go mental” shifted as, over time, they learned that they could bring attention into their body and feel, instead of automatically turning to escape habits or thought strategies. It was slowly becoming their reality that being in their body was a far safer place to be than trapped in their “hamster-wheel mind“ looking for solutions to problems that thoughts would never be able to solve.

“What if, as a child, I was taught or guided to feel, instead of immediately look for solutions”, they pondered. “What if I had learned to spend even just a moment on feeling before jumping into looking for possible solutions or engaging in harmful actions?”

They had been discovering first hand that there were feelings under all the “hamster-wheel thoughts” that simply wanted to be felt. These feeling had always seemed like “too much” but with practice and guidance, were actually quite safe to be with. They had just needed to experientially learn that their body was indeed safe to feel. This opened up the world to them, and shifted their perspective with themself. What had been sentiments of self-loathing and shame slowly transformed into feelings of compassion and acceptance.

It gets complicated, real fast
• When we don’t know how to be with what we’re experiencing and feeling, we don’t know how to value it.
• If we don’t have worth with what we’re experiencing and feeling, we can’t value or find worth in ourselves.
• When we can’t value ourselves, we can’t love ourselves.

Ouch.

We look for value and love elsewhere – anywhere. And when we can’t find it from another person or people, we often numb ourselves, because we’re wired to feel love and it is painful to be separated from love.

This pain makes it even harder to be in our bodies, and so we continue to try to escape into our minds or away from discomfort.

What a predicament
Sure, it sounds good – to not have to live in one’s head most of the time. But it’s not that easy. In fact, it’s down right hard when we’ve been raised to value thought over feeling, or when we’ve never made friends with our feeling body. And it becomes even more difficult when we have pain in our bodies that overwhelms us every time we get close to it.

Good news!
The good news is that there are simple practices that can help you to slowly learn that it is safe to connect with your body. We can learn new ways of being that will shift the old neural pathways and the habits associated with them, into new healthy and loving habits (1) .

The journey to loving ourselves requires us to get to know ourselves, bit by bit, and there are simple practices that we can participate in to facilitate and foster that.
If you’re interested and willing to engage in some new practices, read on and find out for your self (2) what’s possible!

Beginning by honoring your uniqueness
Everyone is in their own place on this journey of being human. Some of these practices will be comfortable and easy, while others may be awkward and uncomfortable. Some of the practices may not feel right for you, some may stretch you in a good way, and others will feel perfect.

Making these recognitions is part of the journey to self-love. It’s necessary to know what your nervous system and body likes and dislikes. It’s important to be able to acknowledge when something feels useful for your well-being, and when something feels harmful. It is loving to honor that recognition, and move forward accordingly.

Forcing yourself to do something that increases a sense of overwhelming pain or brings about more anxiety is not self-love. Yes, push your edge a bit, but love is not aggressive or violent.

If you want different experiences, try living differently
Some of these invitations may seem useless or nonsensical or even stupid. We often want things to make sense and to know why we’re doing things, but sometimes we have to be willing to just play and experiment. Entering into a space of “don’t know” or “beginners’ mind” has been and continues to be a very practical and wise approach for me, and I invite you to lean into that space.

Treating each moment as new yields the ability to discern that each moment really is different. Meeting life with child-like wonder and curiosity yields a life that feels more wonderful and curiosity-filled. As much as possible, bring new eyes and ears into your experimental playtime. Your neural pathways will thank you for it!

Safe places, safe spaces, safe practices sometimes hide in the simple
In my experience it is practical and revolutionary to name places, practice and other things that increase a sense of safety in my unique being. Learning those increases your relationship with yourself and in turn supports you in developing a sense of love with yourself.

Simple things often go over looked. Everyone is different, but here are some possibilities where simplicity may live in relation to your body:
• The area of the feet
• The fingers or hands
• The arm pits
• The pelvic floor
• The rhythmic movement of the breath
• The buttocks on the chair
• Receiving of sound
• The tongue lying in the mouth
• Air moving through the nostrils
• Air on the skin

Find areas of your body that are easy to rest with, and spend time there as resonates for you. Bring curiosity to these areas. The invitation is to curiously and gently place attention on areas of our body so as to increase the sense of friendliness and safety we have with our bodies.

Discovering simple practices that feel good, and that at the same time are healthy for your nervous systems/bodies, are instrumental in creating a loving relationship with your self.
Here are some of mine. Yours will likely be different, but I share them as examples.
• Heat: hot beverages, baths, showers, water bottles, etc are very fondly received by my nervous system. Your nervous system may appreciate cold temperatures, or a mixture of hot and cold. Honor your uniqueness.
• Walks outside
• Listening and watching birds and squirrels from inside my house
• Listening to music, depending on my mood
• Smelling certain scents, either through flowers, candles or essential oils
• Playing with animals at the animal shelter
• playing with my cats
• Watching TV shows that touch my heart or make me laugh
• Journaling
• Taking supplements and eating food which support my nervous system
• Sleep and/or naps and/or lying down
• Being mindful of my electronic use
• Reading – different kinds of genres depending on my needs of the moment
• Speaking or connecting with friends or support systems.
• Exercise of some kind

Identifying safe places is useful to. Do you like to spend time in certain chairs? Do you like a particular park? Do you like to hang out in the bath tub? Be curious about what you naturally gravitate towards, and utilize the wisdom of your body in knowing what it enjoys or appreciates.

Slowing down, noticing
We live in a fast-paced, complicated culture. Slowing down, getting curious and simplifying are essential in deepening your relationship with yourself and in learning how to love yourself.

What if we slowed down, paused, and took a moment to be here, right now?
Yes, right now, right here. No, really, right now.

• After reading this sentence, let your eyes gently close, feel your body in the chair (or wherever you are situated), take a breath, and take a moment to notice what is going on in your direct experience right this very moment.

Are you able to notice what is here, right now, without judging or critiquing? Our brains are geared towards contrasting and comparing, evaluating and assessing. It’s perfectly normal to judge or critique, AND it is useful to know when we are doing that. It is also useful to play and experiment with observing our direct experience without an assessing narrative.

The present moment, direct experience, is filled with objective, neutral happenings. Qualities and attributes are noticed for what they are, but not judged for being what they are. For example, in direct experience I may notice the hardness of my chair on my back, cold air on my face, and a gripping sensation in my jaw. Those things are “factually occurring” so to speak. The mental thoughts about the direct experience come outside of direct experience – judgments, resistance, or narrative arguments about the hardness, cold and/or gripping.

Being aware of the difference between direct experience and the thoughts about direct experience can help you to know yourself – particularly how the brain and thought structures work. Which brings us to inquiry.

Inquiry; asking curious questions without an agenda
Learning how to inquire into our experience (for example, recognizing if we’re connecting with direct experience or the thoughts about direct experience) can help us immensely in getting to know our self and make friends with our self.

Transformative inquiry is an art that gets developed through practice. It begins by pausing, and asking simple, factual questions about your experience.

• How is it to be sitting in this chair? Said another way, what is being experienced as I’m sitting in this chair?

We can ask simple, straightforward questions like this throughout our day. Our mind may quickly make these questions complicated, so it’s good to be aware of how fast that typically happens. After spotting the mind’s tendency to complicate things, play with gently and curiously returning to something very simple, practical and somewhat factual that is happening in your direct experience. The invitation is not to stop the tendencies of the mind, but to re-connect over and over and over to curious and gentle looking so that we may notice our direct experience without the burden of critique.

Somatic practices
We can start to safely know our body by including our body in our simple inquiries and including our bodies into our field of attention.

• Start slow, gentle and curious.
• Ask questions into your “now experience” that include aspects of your body’s experience. (See the chair example above)
• Steer your attention towards simple, easy and safe
• Keep returning to simple, over and over.
• Play and practice for short periods of time at first.

Play and experiment with what is already here, with what you are already doing. Simple inquiry can be introduced into activities that you habitually do. You can bring simple inquiry into washing the dishes, for example – spending more attention on the experiences of your hands, arms, legs, feet, butt and breath. Most of us do habitual behaviors like washing the dishes, going to the bathroom/taking a shower, or driving while on “auto pilot”, absorbed in our thoughts. Play with being aware of your body’s direct experiences instead of getting lost in your thoughts.

Noticing more, changing habits
Continue to bring simple inquiry and noticing into more activities of your life. After starting with simple and neutral activities (like washing the dishes or watching television), gently start to include bringing inquiry into more challenging or complex terrain. Take time to notice how fast the mind creates meaning from what you’re seeing, thinking, and experiencing. Invite your attention to routinely connect and reconnect (over and over) to the aspects of your experience as applicable.

Ask yourself questions, including:
• What am I seeing?
• What am I thinking?
• What am I smelling
• What am I touching
• What am I feeling
• What energies or visceral sensations are present?

Ask the questions from simplicity, without analysis or even to get a decisive answer. Be curious. Invite your attention to zoom in, and know the intricacies you are experiencing. Invite your attention to zoom out, and notice the wider space in which things are happening. Continue to practice noticing if you are in direct experience, or being drawn into analysis and evaluation. Remind yourself that this is a practice, and learning is happening. There is no arrival or destination.

Continue to ask curious, gentle questions:
• Am I judging myself?
• What is it like when I judge myself?
• Can I allow the judging, but also gently bring some attention to something simple that is here? Be open to the answer being yes or no, or maybe some yes and some no.
• Can I curiously rest in that which is simple? Be open to the answer being being yes or no, or maybe some yes and some no.
• Is it time to stop inquiring and do something else?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Imagine you are a scientist and you are your own science experiment. Discover what you notice. Listen to yourself. If possible, don’t try to change what you discover, simply notice it. Honor what feels nourishing for you along the way. Be aware of the flavors of kindness and self-love. Notice the flavors that don’t feel loving or kind. Adjust accordingly.

Final contemplations
What if we could see that that we incessantly try to figure things out because we haven’t learned that there is a different way to be? What if we understood that we turn to the mind, because we haven’t learned that it is safe to turn towards what exists below the chin? What if we knew that self-love is something that exists in our relationship with our self and is something we can learn? I invite you to ponder these questions. I invite you to come up with your own questions as you engage in some of the practices I share, and come up with new practices of your own creation.

I hope that this blog post has helped you connect with your life in new ways (3) . When a person experiments with their experience, magic often happens (ie their neural pathways change, which means other things change!). As you practice getting to know yourself, you will discover what feels supportive and evolutionary, what feels loving, and what does not. I’d love to hear what you discover!

(1) It takes neural pathways anywhere from 18 to 164 days to shift, so repetitive engagements with new practices increase sustained shifts.
(2) I am assuming that you have a sense of inner resourcing and agency. These practices are meant to gently bring you into a deeper relationship with yourself, and are not a replacement for direct care. If you are in crisis, or in need of medical care, please pursue specialized or 1:1 support.
(3) There is much else to be said. Feel free to check out other past blogs posts as I share practical information in almost every blog post. I also have free audios available and a youtube channel with some instructive videos. Lastly, check out www.thelivinginquiries.com for lots of audio and video resourcing.

Key words: self-love, somatic, self-inquiry, embodiment, curiosity, thinking

February Gathering: Supporting our awakening through connection

It is only a safe human being who can humbly know one’s true nature. In this way, we can be in the world, whilst being of Love.

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our wellbeing. We gather to become more intimate with, and more available for, our life.

For those who would like support in their journey, here’s an affordable option.

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

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

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

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

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

In this groupwe honor our experiences and we learn how that we don’t have to pretend or hide- or run. We gather to intimately connect and explore the nature of being human. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are.

Through slow, simple experiential practices, we realize profound safety is here in our actual experience, in ways we hadn’t been able to see.

All are welcome here regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender or background. You are important, and appreciated, whoever you are.

From past participants:

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

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

I have listened to the recording many times since our gathering. It continues to support me.

Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. I always facilitate a guided rest. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. So

metimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Other times I share ways to assist with self-inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. Participation is always optional.

Please contact me with questions: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

Upcoming dates: February 10th, 24th– 1-2:15 pm EST

You can come to one, or come to many, or come to all! We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep.

Investment: Sliding scale what you can afford: $10- $25 per gathering. To sign up please send PayPal to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link. Scholarship spots available by application as a part of my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. No one turned away due to insufficient funds.

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

Free with the upcoming Deepening Course, Discovering the Embodiment of Love. Email me for details.

Acknowledging the Racist Within: confronting my white privilege and ignorance

This was first shared on the Living Inquiries web site, as “The Freedom of Truth Telling: My Journey into White Denial”

“It’s in the act of having to do things that you don’t want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego.” bell hooks

“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Do-gooding Instead of Deeply Feeling
I run a small Facebook group. The group, set up for intimacy and safety, is where I sometimes post things that leave that me dumbfounded or enraged. Last year I came across an interview between a white supremacists and a person of color. I was I was somewhat shocked in abhorrence. The person of color was poised and in integrity throughout the interview. In contrast, the while supremacist was filled with hate, righteousness and certainty.

I was shocked by how overt this white person was about their supremacy . These kinds of overt displays of racism were so taboo in my family of origin that I had been shielded from them, which means I had never really sat in the discomfort of them.

Watching the interview, I found myself flooded with feelings. Deer in headlights, I posted the interview in the FB group. No, I dumped it into the group.

I say “dump” because I didn’t think about what I was doing by posting it nor how it might impact others. I didn’t sit with how I was feeling or what it was bringing up in me. I didn’t safe port (warn) the members of the group on what was in the video. I didn’t even offer my own reflections or share what was going on within me as I had watched it.

I dumped it into the group, and I did so from a place of privilege and ignorance.

I dumped it because as a white liberal person I’ve been taught that I am entitled to dump my stuff all over the place, all the time. White people’s level of entitlement is so thick we can’t see it. We learn of injustice and we complain, get angry, and feel bad, we even get distraught, but then we often do nothing. This lack of accountability and self-responsibility (and passive-aggressive behavior) perpetuates the status quo. And we don’t see it, because we’re the status quo!

Caught in our liberal do-goodness, we don’t stop and feel. Instead, we too often pat ourselves on the back for spotting badness/bringing others’ attention to it. Said another way, we get disgusted with racism, know others will be disgusted, and then we sit around, all disgusted together, like good, white liberal people.

I didn’t see it at the time, but this is what I was up to: I was going to share my disgust with my friends, and we were going to be disgusted together, saying things like “omg I can’t believe this kind of stuff is still happening. This is horrible!” We would be angry but unwilling to have an honest look at what was really going on. I was going to stay shielded in my white, ignorant world and stay in my comfortable role of being righteously aghast at the level of hate “out there.”

And gosh darn it, I would have gotten away with it, except that there was a person of color in the group.

And she courageously nailed me on it.

Privileged to be ignorant
Over the course of my life my white, privileged culture has shielded me from being educated on atrocities of my white culture. While I had learned a little bit about racism, and that it was “bad”, I never was taught about the historical creation of racism. I was never confronted with the abhorrence, the extreme violence, and the devastating impact of institutional racism. I never learned about the micro-aggressions that white people violently perpetuate and Black/ Indigenous/ People of Color (BIPOC) experiences’. I had never considered the complicity of my race of origin, and certainly not my own complicity. I had never truly contemplated and leaned into the pain and suffering BIPOC experienced, at the hands of white people. Privilege and ignorance shielded me and kept me from looking racism in the eye, my entire life .

Without even being aware, my ignorance fed my own internalized racism, and in doing so it disconnected me from humanity: others’ and my own. The violence in that is extreme, and what I didn’t understand is that the impact leads to the suffering of all people. There is no freedom – for anyone – when there is denial and disconnection.

Can you see?
I had been in denial of my internalized racism my whole life, and – double whammy! – was ignorant of that. Sure, I was able to spot blatant racism, and act accordingly. Of course I was disgusted by racism. But I wasn’t able to sit with the truth of it. I wasn’t able to look it deeply in the eye. I had never dared to go there and my sense of entitlement to not have to, enabled that.

I was so blind that I treated the one black woman in that FB group just the same as everyone else. I don’t know about you, but I thought I was supposed to treat BIPOC just like everyone else. Wasn’t that anti-racism? I had been pretending to be color-blind all my life, thinking that was the right thing to do. Guess who teaches that? White culture, of course.

I didn’t understand that I had become complicit in perpetuating racism by buying into the various mind viruses: be color-blind, treat everyone as equal, don’t mention skin color/talk about it, don’t make other people uncomfortable. Note that all these approaches are guised as being for the benefit of BIPOC but they are really for the benefit of white comfort. (Having said that, for the love of god please don’t misunderstand me to be saying that we need to make BIPOC the center of all conversations. Please be sure to be mindful of context.) In the context I was in – a small group designed for intimacy and safety – I was not acting in safe or intimate ways with my BIPOC friend. I was being color-blind, at her expense.

I am a white person with privilege that I have been born into. It does a disservice to my brothers and sisters of color- but also to myself– when I do not wake up to the violent ideology of color-blindness. White culture is based upon the invisibl-ing and unworthy-ing of BIPOC, so when I purport to be color-blind, I am continuing to uphold the ideas that white is the norm, white is important, white is all that matters – and everything else is less than. In a sea of whiteness, if I don’t see BIPOC as distinct in their experiences, gifts, and struggles, I am oppressing those very people. The lack of equity for BIPOC has been insidiously impregnated into every aspect of our culture. As a member of the race who literally created racism and oppression, I can have a role in dismantling that. In my experience, there is a deep empowerment in doing just that!

Having said that, it has been quite a journey, one I am still in the midst of.

From conservative racism to liberal racism
I was raised conservatively – religiously and politically. So, you guessed it, I was raised racist. Not KKK racist, but I’ll get to that in a second. It wasn’t obvious to my parents, nor my grandparents, but it was obvious to me. Being the good liberal do-gooder that I am, I’ve always tried to be aware of my racist upbringing, not wanting to be like them. In getting my Masters of Social Work, I had to take a look at some of my familiar biases, which was somewhat helpful in discovering hidden pockets of racism – but that was 20 years ago. It wasn’t until I had became good friends with a black woman last year- who was brave enough to call me out on my bullshit- that I realized, despite all my best efforts, I was racist as f*ck, but just didn’t know it.

Not racist in that overtly asshole kind of way – it was way subtler than that. In fact most people would never think of me as racist; I’m self-aware, heavily into social justice, have a degree in social work and routinely speak out about oppression. Here’s the thing though: I hang out with mostly white people, people like me. Liberal white feminist America – where no one thinks they are racist but only because the viewpoint is so radically self-referential by default.

As I began to listen and read what women of color were writing about, I very slowly started to spot my racism. I did a lot of deep inquiry and discovered more. Turns out, I wasn’t racist merely because I’m white, I’m racist because I’m a white person in a culture created by white people, for the benefit of white people, to the detriment of non-white people.

At this point you will likely be doing one of three things: nodding your head up and down emphatically saying YES!, waiting for me to say some more so you can catch on, or thinking I’m full of shit. At the risk of being repetitive, I’m going to Lisa’splain. Please stay with me.

People who have my skin color (white) have designed the culture I live in. All the rules, mores and keys for success were designed by people who have my skin color (white) for other people who have my skin color (white), and ONLY for people who have my skin color (white). The world I live in was designed for me, a white person. I’ve been privileged, but never necessarily knew I was, because of my privilege of being in the dominating class. I didn’t realize I was racist because I never had to confront my internalized racism – and so I never really understood that it existed.

When we’re not confronted with our privileges (white, male, hetro, etc) head on, there is rarely a reason to look at them. So, in the world of inquiry, for example, we might inquire about everything that has come into our personal experience, but we may never inquire about our white privilege, for example, as it’s just not “come up” in our personal experiences to be looked at. When it comes to race and gender, we live in a culture that is built upon – and actually created – racism and sexism. So, when we are a part of that group that the power comes from, there would be no motivation or need to inquire into it. This has kept white people – and men especially – complicit in oppression, which we can see quite dramatically in the media right now. The cat’s out of the bag.

Do I really have to confront my racism ?
Why would I need to confront my racism? I’m not (consciously) suffering because of my skin color. My child and I don’t get singled out wherever we go because of the color of our skin. We don’t have to worry about people constantly doubting our good intentions, our intelligence, or our worth because of our skin color. Moreover, we aren’t at higher risk for poor health/medical services, poor education, being killed by the police, higher rates of HIV and STIs, or higher chance of incarceration – because we’re white. I’ve got it pretty good, so why would I need to confront my racism?

I don’t. I don’t have to, ever.

Except that I’m in the business of waking up and heart work, both inviting me to become aware of what had previously been out of attention, and attend to that. In my reality tunnel, waking up and heart work brings along with it the inability to ignore, stay asleep, or tune out to that which is systematically creating separation and pain for living creatures. Waking up and heart work, by its very nature is inclusive, which means that if my brothers and sisters are treated poorly, even when I am not, something is not right. Because we are all connected, if I can, it is right action that I do something about the racism that exists.

But it gets more real for me than that. Here’s why it’s really imperative that I do something about it. As a white person, if I do nothing, I benefit by keeping people of color separate – and so it is me who is doing harm to people of color. Not indirectly doing harm, directly doing harm. If I do nothing, then I am the one who is violating, harming, and creating pain for people because of their skin color. As the “privileged class” , it is up to me. As such it is pertinent and imperative that I continue to look at things I’ve never needed to – and consciously seek to understand my roles in oppression and related topics as they relate to waking up and freedom.

If I do nothing, I can no longer say I’m in the business of waking up or heart work. If I don’t consciously look, I can no longer say that Love matters to me. If I stay ignorant, my heart cannot truly be open wide. And if my heart cannot be open wide, then I am not free. So you see, it really is true that if some people are not free, none of us are, because all of our hearts are linked together. This has been my direct experience, as it has been that opening my heart wide necessitates deep somatic inquiry… into everything.

But what about me? I’m white, and suffering. (I.e. How can being privileged feel this bad?)
Yes, I hear you. If you’re a while female, yes, I *so* get that you may be suffering. And if you’re a white male, yes, I absolutely understand that you’re likely suffering too. And I understand why. We, as white people, suffer because of how our culture oppresses others. When one group of people oppresses another, they will always suffer in their association with the dominating class. Oppression is built upon a sense of fragility, which is why white, male fragility is a common topic these days. It can be debilitating. A side effect of oppression is that it oppresses the oppressor.

Dealing with my own trauma, and all the darkness that has come up with it/in it, has paved the way for me to be able to (start to) sit with my white fragility and privilege, and not hide from it or deny it. I have always been aware that sitting with my own trauma has allowed me to be deeply present with others as they journey through their own trauma, but this is something different.

Not having to turn away from pain that I have been complicit in, and that my race has created and perpetuated… it’s empowering in the strangest of ways. It’s counter-intuitive and goes against what the new age rhetoric often shallowly and violently proclaims.

It has allowed me to See deeply, to Feel deeply, and to Know deeply that when one group is oppressed, we are all oppressed, and that when we turn away from looking at others’ oppression (or our own darkness), with honest and willing hearts and minds, we are oppressing our self. One might think this would be burdensome or debilitating, but it is not. There is nothing that is more freeing than truth of Love. The heart can hold it all, and grows in magnificence and simple wisdom the more it cracks open.

Implicit Bias and So Much More!
A lot of what I’ve been referencing in this blog post but haven’t named is “implicit bias.” I will write more about implicit bias in future blog posts. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn about your own implicit bias, you can take a test here. I found these tests fascinating; as were the results from a few of the tests I took!
https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Stay tuned for more. I’ll be writing about the link between our internalized racism and our internalized experience of oppression. I’ll share more on my journey of how safely journeying into my own internalized oppression has opened me up to others’ oppression, only to discover their intrinsic link. I’ll explore the shame and guilt that has been a part of my deep looking. And, as always, I’ll be offering up practical resources and practices that will support you in your own unique journey in of exploring racism.

I continue to learn every day about myself. I look forward to writing more on this topic and learning alongside you. I’d love to hear your responses to this blog post. What has it brought up in you? What would you like to know more of? What challenges have you had, and what freedoms have you experienced in deeply looking? Thanks for reading, and I look forward to connecting and learning together.

Return to Sender

 

Where will I sit

without my

placeholder

of importance?

 

Unexpectedly

the room opens,

wide and deep.

Spacious.

 

Here I am.

Free.

And it’s

beautiful.

 

Strings loosen.

No love to earn.

Life opens.

I am available

to me.

 

Formulaic cacophony

dissolves,

revealing nothingness

and everything.

 

Puzzle pieces

form

a formless

puzzle.

 

 

I can’t prove my worth

and in that absence

I experience

indisputable

worthiness

 

 

The cicadas sing with me.

We dance, play, die.

We stretch, we become.

Another breath

weaving creation.

January Embodied Gathering: Being in the World, Being of Love

 

It is only a safe human being who can humbly know one’s true nature.  In this way, we can be in the world, whilst being of Love.

Belonging, community, connection and a healthy nervous system are crucial for our wellbeing. We gather to become more intimate with, and more available for, our life.

For those who would like support in their journey, here’s an affordable option.

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

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

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

 

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

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

In this groupwe honor our experiences and we learn how that we don’t have to pretend or hide- or run. We gather to intimately connect and explore the nature of being human. We gather in a safe container, where we are allowed to be exactly who we are, exactly as we are.

Through slow, simple experiential practices, we realize profound safety is here in our actual experience, in ways we hadn’t been able to see.

All are welcome here regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender or background. You are important, and appreciated, whoever you are.

 

From past participants:

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

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

I have listened to the recording many times since our gathering. It continues to support me.

 

Gatherings focus on practical and experiential exercises that are specifically designed for the development of self-awareness, self-love, safety and a healthy nervous system. I always facilitate a guided rest. There will be time for questions and optional sharing amongst group members. So

metimes I engage in a 1:1 facilitation while everyone else follows along silently. Other times I share ways to assist with self-inquiry, or ways to heal the nervous system. Participation is always optional.

Please contact me with questions: LLMEUSER@ME.COM

 

Upcoming dates: January 13 and 27, 1-2:15pm EST

(February 10th, 24th– 1-2:15 pm EST)

You can come to one, or come to many, or come to all!  We will meet for 60-75 minutes on zoom. Each call will be recorded, and yours to keep.

 

Investment: Sliding scale what you can afford: $10- $25 per gathering. To sign up please send PayPal to LLMEUSER@ME.COM, subject line “Gathering” along with your email address so I can send you a link.  Scholarship spots available by application as a part of my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. No one turned away due to insufficient funds.

Minimum required 4. Maximum is 15 people.

 

Free with the upcoming Deepening Course,  Discovering the Embodiment of Love.  Email me for details.

 

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

To read more about embodiment

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

God, the Thorn in my Side- Unraveling our Childhood Gods

This was originally published on the Living Inquiries web site as “Unraveling the Gods of Childhood”.

I have a story to share.

This story starts with a Facebook post I made after finishing a session with a client.

“When our parents aren’t safe, available, loving gods, we become vigilant and over responsible gods, thinking it’s all up to us, with wounds in our hearts.”

It’s been a long time coming, sharing this publicly. I’d experienced it in myself, and had been seeing it with my clients for years. It has been such a pivotal part of my embodiment journey that I’m currently writing a book about it – yet never blogged about it.

This is my abbreviated story of how I learned of my own religious wounding, and how it set me free.

 

Our relationship to the world

Religious wounding is not talked a lot about in spiritual circles, and yet I think it is imperative that this territory be explored on our journey of becoming deeply intimate with ourselves, because so much of how we view the world, ourselves, and our place in the world can be impacted by religious belief systems.

From an early age I had been aware of “something wiser” than my own personal self, but I didn’t know what that meant or how to talk about it. Jesus was sometimes part of that, but I didn’t really understand that either. It felt significant and important, and confusing at the same time. Being part of a “do as you’re told household”, I didn’t feel any space to talk about things that confused me, or that were “different” than what the authorities in my life were talking about. My religious upbringing (Lutheran) was linear, practical and doctrine-oriented, and, well, that just didn’t fit in with the rather mystical and supernatural experiences I was having. I suppressed and disconnected from most of those experiences, rendering them meaningless in my mind, forgotten to my heart.

I left Christianity midway through my years at a Lutheran Missouri Synod University (oh, the irony). Being from a white, republican, middle-income family I hadn’t explored racism, classism or entitlement, but from an early age something in me knew that the Christian doctrine I was being taught was deeply unjust. When I discovered that the chapel of the University didn’t allow women pastors at the same time I was starting to learn about the oppression of women (thank you Professor Jody), I was livid. That my church did not allow a female pastor was the last draw. I could no longer believe in “God the Father”, or his violent and oppressive rules. I was sickened by how this god judged and decided who was worthy of his love. This god was just as bad as my parents, with their republican and conservative pronouncements. I wanted no part of it. I became adamantly anti-Christian, and anti “God.”

It was a profound and huge step in my personal evolution to step away from the tradition in which I was raised. I didn’t consider what rejecting Christianity meant for me, I just knew that the beliefs of heaven and hell, sin, and rejection of certain people based on geography and gender didn’t make sense to me and never had. It felt too hypercritical for me to do anything else but walk away. I was glad to “get rid of” the label.

“That’s that!” I thought. I assumed that consciously recognizing that I didn’t align with the tenants of Christianity was me working through my religious upbringing. “I’m not that,” was the subtext.  Time to move on.

Move on I did. I didn’t have anything to “replace” Christianity until a few years later when I found a spiritual practice that became an intrinsic part of my being. It was a bhakti and heart practice that nurtured the connection with god/awareness/spirit/love, etc that I’d felt when I was young. I moved on with new practices and perspectives, but what I didn’t realize was that I had not cleaned out the old before moving into the new.

 

Me and god, god and my parents

If I had been paying closer attention I might have slowed down a bit. I might have considered what giving up Christianity meant for me, or what was so infuriating for me. I might have considered that my bitterness for Christianity (and god and my parents) had some rich territory to explore, i.e. that I had some unhealed wounds. I’m in awe of the young people who make it to my door to connect to their wounds, because that was the last thing I would have considered back then.

Instead, lost in unseen self-righteousness and anger, while unable to connect to the extremely painful truth, I shut off from my feeling self and turned towards self-reliance. I thought all the problems existed outside of me “in those people” and in those beliefs, and that all I needed to do was walk away and find better ways of thinking. (This is such a common theme in our culture: we think harder, so as to feel less.)

I didn’t understand the psyche, how belief systems work, how much pain I was in, how strong my use of mind over spirit had become, or how dysfunctional my relationship with the ideas of love had become[1]. As many seemingly invincible teenagers and early 20 year olds feel, I thought I was “just fine.”  And even better, thought that I was more in control and safer now that I’d moved further away from my beliefs of my family.

I didn’t realize that underneath my intellectualizing I’d felt rejected by god, and by my parents, and that the pain of that was too much to feel, so I rejected them first.

And, since I’d rejected him, I hadn’t considered for a moment that my relationship with god was anything but “just fine.”

 

When denial no longer works

I don’t know about you, but I was full-on in pretend mode when I was young. It was a way of life, and it seemingly kept me pretty safe in some crazy situations. As I woke up, lots of that pretending fell away. But then the real journey began – that of embodiment. In my reality tunnel, embodiment cleans one out, until only truth remains. But it’s not an easy process. There can be lots of sacred cows, and for me, my relationship with god was one of them[2].

It wasn’t until I was in crisis, recovering from an addictive relationship, that I stumbled upon my unhealed relationship with god. I literally collapsed into a sobbing pile of goo as a realization clunked into recognition: I still believed in a punishing god, a god that did not love me, a god that I had failed, 20 years after thinking I had given up that belief system and moved past “all that bullshit”.

It’s not rational, but those hidden beliefs had subtly kept me from feeling truly safe and at home in the world, and it kept me more in my head than in my body. How could I possibly feel safe in the world, and at home in myself, if I believed I was inherently faulty?

This can be earth-shattering territory to journey into, which is why many people never do. After all, if we don’t have to, why would we consciously look foror go into uncomfortable core wounding? Quite to the contrary, we generally hide from it at all costs. Our psyches are constructed to protect us from this wounding. And anyway, where do we even start? It can all be very overwhelming.

Yet there I was. It had became clear that there was something under the hood, as it were, that was not just being explored, but was having a tremendous influence over how I felt about myself and how I felt being in the world. It was my shame and self-loathing, wrapped up with god.

 

God, the thorn in my side

This stuff doesn’t have a road map so, using somatic inquiry, somatic therapy and a few other tools, I just kept on **slowly and gently** exploring deep into my being. Trauma has its own timeline, and said simply, we are not in charge of how it works itself through. Loving support from others and myself was vital.

Almost always tendrils would lead to wounds connected with an early childhood medical event (which also involved my parents) that were still integrating. I had been exploring this territory on and off for years, but something was different this time. As I kept exploring, something deeper finally started to emerge that didn’t seem to be about my parents. I then deeply recognized that my wounds with god, as I knew god, had hidden behind, and were often interwoven with, the wounding I’d experienced with my parents.

What had initially been experienced as feeling rejected by my parents revealed a belief that I had been rejected by god. Where as previously it felt like my parents had abandoned me, it now felt like I’d been abandoned by god. What that left me feeling was not just rejected and abandoned, but bad and wrong to be someonewho would be rejected and abandoned.

Oh the shame! And self-loathing. And creation of self-reliance and an inflated sense of responsibility to cover it all up.

 

Me and god, god and my parents: deeper in

Some of you may be asking, “How was it that god came into all of this? How was this all made about god?”

Recall back to where I referred to God as a father:

I could no longer believe in “God the Father”, or his violent rules. I was sickened by how this god judged and decided who was worthy of his love. This god was just as bad as my parents, with their republican and conservative pronouncements. I wanted no part of it. I became adamantly anti-Christian, and anti “God.”

In my innocence I thought all I had to do “see the truth” and walk away. This is a common mistake amongst those who have spiritual awakenings as well. We see something, clarity comes, and we think we are “finished.” And then comes the process of embodiment, where we find the energies of those beliefs. My system had “taken in” all those beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong, sin and salvation. My body, mind and spirit had been infused with linking love and god the father. If god rejected me, I’d be unloved. There is nothing more shameful to a human being than being unlovable. These early teachings, as simple as they were, had woven into my system, and were desperately looking for reconciliation.

 

But it’s richer than that.

What I’ve discovered in my own journey but also with hundreds of clients is that our parents often act as our first gods. Obviously this isn’t conscious, but it’s in the subconscious stratosphere of the psyche. My friend explained it well: “My parents were gods to me. I depended on them to live.” 

Our parents give us life and we are at their mercy for safety, love, food, and nurturance – on every level. They also reprimand and punish us. And so they become synonymous with how our culture often portrays god – the life-giver, the disciplinary, the mother, and the father. My friend continues,“From that I learned that god was loving, and joyous, and terrifying, and confusing. God was everything. God also dies.”

This isn’t rational, and quite frankly is too much for our child self to make sense of, but our beings pick up this information and makemake conscious and subconscious beliefs based upon these ideas. It is only later in life that we can journey back through the layers of our conditioning to see the formation of deficiency stories that have influenced our whole life.

 

Deeper still

As I felt safe to journey into the medical trauma and prior traumas, and the imagined roles god (and my parents) played in those traumas, I was able to connect to various debilitating belief systems. I had believed that I was bad, and that I had been abandoned and rejected by my god (and my parents) because I was bad. Said another way, and more from the perspective of a child: god had let me down, I wasn’t good enough for god, and so ultimately I wasn’t good enough or worthy of god’s love. That meant I had to become my own god, so to speak. It was up to me to keep myself safe, because god and my parents had failed due to my badness.

The level of shame, self-loathing, and self-reliance (what we commonly see as a false sense of responsibility) that was under all of that was immense and had been following me around for… my whole life. Although I was not consciously aware of it, a sense of shame that seemed synonymous with my being was living under the surface and was wreaking havoc in my life.

Although my life was basically “fine”, I was making unhealthy and debilitating choices in intimate relationships. As I courageously worked through my self-reliance patterning, I innocently made a wrong turn: I trusted others unworthy of that trust instead of trusting that which was worthy. I did this because ultimately I didn’t have a safe and loving relationship with myself, or a healthy relationship with Love. This pattern dramatically revealed itself when I found myself in a narcissistically abusive relationship. The creation of a perfect storm destroyed my sails and crashed me into rocky territory I had been trying to avoid all my life. It literally took me to the darkest and most hidden places within myself that I had never felt safe enough to explore.

Eventually it took me to my unfinished business with god. After that torturous terrain was faced, I found myself experiencing a level of safety I didn’t know was possible, and a Love I had never known. My world had changed.

 

The rest of the story

There is more to say. Healing religious, parental and attachment wounding takes commitment, time, love, compassion and support. The rest of the story includes sharing practices I have developed with myself and others that help us let go of old beliefs, and in their absence fall into the experience of a safe body (and life) to reside in.

Life fundamentally changed for me as I cleaned up my past but it wasn’t an overnight change – it has been slow, steady, and eventually sustainable. Not having to be a vigilant and over-responsible god has relieved me of a burden that was not mine to carry. Groking the benevolence of Love has altered my way of being in a world that I do not have the power to control, but feel safe residing in nevertheless.

I have shared only parts of my journey here, and look forward to sharing more. I’d love to hear from you. What was particularly helpful? What was confusing? What do you want to know to know more of? I look forward to journeying together.

[1]See my Deepening Course starting in February, “Discovering the Embodiment of Love,” to learn more about that!

[2]After working with hundreds of clients, I now see that one’s relationship with “god”, however that is perceived/experienced/named, is most sacred (this goes for atheists too, although the language is going to be quite different)- even more sacred then that of one’s parents. And, it is also often very hidden within the psyche. For various reasons it can be one of the last places one “wants to go” when inwardly journeying.There is good reason for this, which I explore in my book.

 

Discovering the Embodiment of Love, A Course of Deepening

Discovering the Embodiment of Love, A Deepening Course.

Our stories may be different, and yet may overlap.

Like many of us, I started suppressing myself from a young age. My family didn’t often openly talk about emotions or feelings so I quickly learned to hide what I felt, and I behaved in such a way as to not cause problems or upset anyone. I was often in pain or scared, but I learned that my only option was to pretend that everything was ok. Before long I wasn’t just pretending to others. As a survival strategy I engaged in an insidious form of self-harm: I was pretending to myself as well, which meant I didn’t really have a self to connect to. I usually didn’t know what I was feeling in any given moment, but I was hyper-aware of others. Yes, that is as confusing and disorienting as it might sound, and something many of you will be familiar with.

I was rewarded with positivity and attention, and got “love” from the outside by pretending. That set up a life of disconnecting to what *I* was feeling and instead adapting to *others* to garner love. It wasn’t reallove, of course, but I didn’t understand that until much later.

Throughout my life I (sometimes anxiously) craved love and connection but also feared abandonment/rejection, so would avoid deep intimacy. I was not aware of any of this patterning since I was always pretending everything was ok. Attachment challenges formed early in my life led to unsatisfactory and unhealthy relationships throughout my life.

When I eventually found myself in the grips ofa narcissistically abusive relationship, I crashed and hit rock bottom. No longer able topretend, I broke apart, faced my traumas, and explored my unhealthy and grotesque relationship with love. Through intense and honest somatic inquiry (and a lot of support) I gradually came to understand that what I had always thought was love, was not.  As this was seen through, something unexpected emerged. It was during this time that the true nature of embodied and sustainable Love found me. This Love, I directly discovered, held all, and required no pretending. I was truly free and worthy to be me, just as I was.

Artist: Kathryn Long      Instagram:  @authenticallybrilliant

Our actions and beliefs are innocent

Whatmy years as a somatic therapist (and a student of my own humanity) has led me to understand is that human beings are hard-wired to want and need love, and yet our culture has created a meaning of love that is distorted, misunderstood, and toxic. Because of this toxic relationship with love – and all that we associate with it – we innocently learn and engage in unhealthy behaviors (like pretending) from our earliest days in attempts to feel or “have/get” love.

When attention (what we usually mistake as love) is not given and received freely, we innately feel a gap – and we can literally spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out how fill or close that gap. In doing so we often innocently turn to all kinds of addictive behaviors, substances, or dysfunctional coping strategies so that we can experience relief. Our well-being and health suffers, our intimate relationships suffer, our relationship to sexuality suffers – and most importantly our relationship with our self suffers.

Love – what we’ve been after all along – becomes more and more illusive and elusive. We do not find relief. We suffer, and we seek. We seek, and we suffer.

 

The good news: we can get off this toxic merry-go-round.

We can learn about ourselves. We can learn about our attachment styles. We can learn how to engage in healthy behaviors and safe practices. We can learn how to give ourselves relief using kindness and compassion (I literally had to be taught this because I had zero experience of this). We can learn how to slowly and gently find home in our bodies and beings. We can learn how to safely rest in our direct experience of now. We can discover that the true essence of Love is an innocent and profound aspect of this human journey, and it is waiting for us. 

A safe container for us evolve together

Join me in this course as we explore barriers to feeling and experiencing Love, as well as the false meaning-making we’ve given to the word “love.” I will compassionately and gently journey with you as you get to know your innocently developed strategies, core beliefs, and blockages which have contributed to harmful behaviors in an attempt to feel and experience love, but which ultimately yield a sense of separation and pain. Together we will learn that:

  • Seeking relief has been an innocent part of our journey.
  • Acknowledging the toxic dynamics of “love” can be powerfully freeing once spotted and journeyed with.
  • Discovering the true essence of Love is an innocent and profound aspect of this human journey.

This course will utilize embodied practices, including the Living Inquiries, the N.O.W. practice, natural rest, breathing techniques, and some gentle experiential practices designed to safely explore your various experiences – shame, depression, anxiety, compulsions, identities, body contractions, debilitating thoughts and/or memories and more. You will also become familiar with the nervous system, vigilance centers, the fight-flight-freeze responses, attachment theory, and will learn about ways to support and be kind and loving with your self. Lastly, you will get to experience the different inquiries first hand, and be able to practice skills for learning how to self-inquire.

I will be facilitating and guiding you in practices which will start to re-wire your nervous system and limbic system in ways that are profound.

You will have recordings so that you can practice on your own between class dates, which will help replace old habitual behaviors with new useful behaviors. All of this will set the stage for deeper self-intimacy and knowing, with compassion and love.

 

Course Information:

When: February 2nd, February 16th, March 2nd: noon-2pm EST.

This course is purposefully spread out with two weeks between each group so you will have time to explore and learn about yourself. There will be some books suggested, but nothing required.

Where:  This is an online course. I use Zoom, which is similar to Skype. You can attend from anywhere in the world using a phone, iPad type of device, or computer.

What: On top of the 3 group sessions, you will receive a total of six individualfacilitations: Four with Senior Facilitator Trainer Lisa Meuser and two facilitations with Certified Living Inquiries Facilitators. The investment is $495. This counts as a prerequisite for applying for the Living Inquiries facilitator training.

Scholarship spots available by application as a part of my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

Also included is free attendance to the January, February and March Embodied Gatherings. January 13th, 27thand February 10th, 24th– 1-2:15 pm EST. (March TBA)

All classes will be recorded so if you are unable to attend one, you’ll receive the recording. Also included in the course will be multiple natural rest and guided rest audios and videos, and a private FB group for participants to share and receive support.

Space is limited.

Please email me for questions. llmeuser@me.com