Thursday, April 30, 2020

Re-evaluate

The coronavirus came upon us quite suddenly, at the same time as various circles of people understood that it was just a matter of time before we hit a world crisis. My little sanga of people attempting to walk the spiritual path had access to information that suggested that the time was close.

Jane Goodall came out and said in the past few days that we had brought it on ourselves. Imposing on the habitat of animals had forced them to come closer to one another and to us and that put pressure on the relational systems of animals and humans living together. It could be more sinister than even this idea. I don't know about that. I am not a conspiracy afficionado but I acknowledge that there are evil forces in the world, so maybe so.

This is a way of saying that I wasn't completely shocked by what has occurred, but anxious and sad and worried, just like the rest of us. I am, one could say, a bit better off than those in large cities such as New York or London, and yet there has been a breakout in an aged care home just a moment from where I purchase petrol (gas) and a few minutes walk from my home. It is everywhere.

I eat well. I sleep well. I take supplements to boost immunity. I do yoga and shake daily (TRE) and I keep on top of how I am breathing, thinking and feeling. I stay at home almost all the time aside from a daily walk. I am doing all I can to stay well and ensure I don't make other people sick. I am in awe of front line workers. They deserve our praise and appreciation. They deserve Medals of Bravery.

Whilst at home I have used the extra time to do a lot of research. Whether you call it self-differentiation, or healing from a toxic relationship, or self love, or what have you, it really does boil down to the same thing, I think.

Some of us are too nice. Part of this is our personality (also looked into the Enneagram) and some of this is learned behavior and surviving a situation where we were brought up by people with a narcissistic bent (to put it nicely).

If that's the case, (and I bet it is for most people reading here) the trick now is to let yourself shine, as best you can. Just as it is understood you put on your own breathing mask if there is an emergency in a plane, and then put on the breathing mask of others around you who need your help, so in life we empaths needs to understand that we must put ourselves first.

Since I also study spirituality and seek to live that life, of course we don't become selfish ourselves. We need to live in balance, caring for ourselves at the same time as we keep in mind and attend to those other people in our lives. Another way to say this is that we put boundaries in place. We do all the caring things but we don't let people walk all over us. Maybe we did this to survive as children, but we don't have to keep doing the same things as adults.

As we come to know ourselves intimately, what triggers us, where the wounds are, we come to see that we don't have to absorb the behavior of others all too willing to hurt us or ignore us to boost themselves up. Instead, we observe them. We become a bit detached, in a good way, because now we are differentiated from them. We know where we end and they start. We build a strong backbone. We become strong at the same time as we stay warm and tender. These are not people who can change. We are people who can change, grow and mature.

It definitely isn't easy. It was very hard for me. But, I assure you, it is entirely possible. Check out The Avaiya University online for tonnes of material.

We are in a period of huge transition in every way. It's a very hard time for nearly all people, but I am betting on the fact that this is a reality check we, unfortunately, needed to have and that good people will come forth to make the changes for our world that need to be made.

Selfishness and greed won't go away. People like this have and will always be with us, but I think we have a good chance to reevaluate where we are and what we have to do as a Universe. We need every good person now to be counted. That's why you need to heal, energize and ready yourself. The world needs every good person in this fight.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A positive direction in perilous circumstances

In this troubling time, when nothing seems quite solid, reliable or certain, I believe we need extra heavy doses of positivity, gratitude, courage and endurance.

Of course, we should all be sensible and careful. We should wash our hands regularly and distance ourselves from other people in ways that make sense - working from home and staying home, wherever possible. We need to be vigilant about keeping our immune systems healthy. There is plenty of information on the Internet as to how to do this.

My contribution is simply to say that this too shall pass; that we have to get through this, that when the crisis is over, the opportunity is there to come out of it better than before, depending on one's interpretation of  'better'.

This crisis is a medical emergency and we must be vigilant. This crisis is also a moral and spiritual opportunity. We either take that opportunity and run with it or we allow fear to overtake us.

I belong to a group and the following was the offering to the members of the group this morning by the leader of the group. I just loved it and would like to offer it here to anyone who passes by these parts:


“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
"And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
"And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."
~Kitty O'Meara

Be well. Be happy.  Be safe. Have faith.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Order, disorder, reorder

I woke early and slipped out of bed with my novel, 'Wide Sargasso Sea' to read on the couch underneath a warm woolen blanket. In the quiet of the early morning I was fully engaged with the novel, the unraveling of the first Mrs Rochester (of Jane Eyre fame), when I became aware of the experience of sitting there in the quiet and the very distinct sound of bird song close by; some traffic sounds from much further away.

I registered that the sounds were coming to me clearly, as clearly as if I was engaged with conversation with someone right beside me. It was as if a portal had opened in my mind, a portal that brought with it clarity.

So profound was this experience, and yet so simple and everyday, that I turned away from the book and simply sat in the experience of living this moment.

It may be insignificant to the reader but as a meditation teacher it is significant to me, that I made no observation of my breathing, highlighting the fact that as we have revelations in a meditative or contemplative state of mind, that our transformative thought is all that draws our attention. We are fully immersed and engaged with that experience of the mind. The body doesn't come into it.

This was pointed out to me by a wonderful visiting meditation teacher from the USA and came as a surprise to us as students, but she is absolutely correct.

In a theoretical way I knew what I am about to say, but theory and practice are two very different things. As I sat there, silent and alert, it occurred to me that I was living this moment of my life. The past was truly the past and unless I particularly wanted to do so, there was no good reason to think about it.

I considered, 'if I didn't engage with the past, I didn't engage either with difficult moments from the past. In essence, if I didn't engage with the past, I also didn't need to think about, or assess or analyze events from the past which had been painful.' I know what I know, of course, but when living in the moment, so what?

It was like I had an eraser and all the writing of the blackboard, the complicated formula that had taken up the blackboard was brushed away, leaving a blank slate on which to write again.

It also occurred to me that in this present moment awareness I had full acceptance of myself. I wasn't flawed. I hadn't been neglected. I didn't have doubts.  I simply sat. (This, by the way, is the mindset of 'the doll'.)

This transformative thought happened at 7am and it is now 2pm. It wasn't just a flash in the pan. It feels more embedded as the day progresses.

As I communicated with people throughout the morning, this profundity was my constant companion. I was acutely aware that I was my own entity, empty in a sense, and thus in some way, available to them and yet untouched by them. I mean this in a good way. I was untouchable, in the sense that neither good news or bad news seemed to effect me one way or the other.

Words are hard to describe all this but I would say that I was looking out at the world not as me with a constantly thinking brain but as an observer; free floating.

Father Rohr, a Franciscan friar, talks about transformation having three components: order, disorder and reorder. To use his words I would say that this morning I had a sense of what that meant; that the disorder (the suffering) had somehow become reordered. On one level it blows my mind. On another, I am so chilled it's almost too subtle and smooth as to be an event.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Healing

There is a saying that you can't heal what you can't see. This is why I went searching for answers about how I felt because I knew what I felt wasn't how I wanted to feel, and intuitively I understood that I needed to know where I had been to begin to heal.

I've read a number of books now on topics that seemed related to my circumstances. There was marginal assistance through the psychology sessions I have had but nothing directly related to a full understanding of my circumstances and certainly no advice was administered as to what to do. In other words, there was no diagnosis and no treatment plan.

However, I feel quite clear about what happened to me now and this is a great blessing, to see the history clearly. This is profound.

I think when the brain has been subjected to thinking in a certain way over a long period of time - I am in my early 60s - it is not realistic to think that I won't have some tough moments going forward, but I definitely feel grateful to have understanding, and so long as I am kind to myself, which I see as vital, I think there is much reason to be hopeful that the shame and blame that I put on myself will fade.

It was difficult to say the least to learn that it was my inner critic that kept me in torment. I blamed myself for not being stronger and more resilient, whereas now I am learning to turn that message around:

"Things were difficult for you for no fault of your own. You had to survive, and you did what you could to survive. Now, new strategies are needed to thrive. And, you are putting those strategies in place. Be proud of yourself."

Without going into too much boring detail about my reading and understanding here's what I discovered:

- Although my parents loved me in an overarching way (the feeling was no doubt in their hearts) I was not given a childhood. I have no memories of being kissed, cuddled, held. I have no memories of being read to at night, or being tucked into bed. I didn't eat with my parents. My parents demanded that their two children be as little effort as possible and so I closed down my emotions, was 'good'.

- I began to masturbate at a very early age and this was my attempt at 'self-soothing'. My childhood environment did not provide me with a sense of safety and masturbating myself to sleep became a survival strategy for me; a way of soothing my troubled mind that was flooded with chemicals that made my body and mind anxiety prone.

- I am kinky and this is now hard wired and cannot be alerted. Fear and sexual arousal at a certain point intertwined.I don't seek to alter it. It is obvious, day by day, that I am aroused in a 'feel good' and sexual way when I have an overt sense of ownership. I want to be 'attached' to my husband. He gets this, fortunately. He is comfortable with it. I have shared my understandings with him.

- I was susceptible to having my attachment system activated due to the lack of mother love. I was also susceptible to having my inner critic activated and exacerbated. It hadn't occurred to me that the lack of mother love repercussions were the fault of my parents but rather I blamed myself, unconsciously. I now understand the thoughts. I wasn't lovable. I wasn't worthy of love. I wasn't pretty enough, or sexual enough. Importantly, I needed to be pleasing. I had learned this as a child. If you don't act how they want you to act, they reject you.

- In short, I was highly vulnerable to any sort of narcissistic behavior of another; to love-bombing, to verbal abuse; manipulation. My trained sense of loyalty to people, even when they behaved in a  selfish and unloving way made me feel that I needed to find even more tolerance and strength for toxic behavior.

- What I came to see was that in the end it wasn't about the Other. It was about the fact that I had failed to understand that any disrespectful behavior towards me should have been a red flag on which I acted to create a boundary against the toxicity of the relationship.

- I was kind of right. It was all my fault, no matter what the training of my childhood. You see, I can't change the behavior of others, but I can change my behavior and in this way I can change how I feel. It is in my power to say no to a sense of blame and shame, to have some control over the depression; to say yes to a sense of personal power; to have respect for myself.

This is a game changer. I can't say I won't have tough days. I know I will. But, there's a huge sense of power over my destiny now.

I am eternally grateful to Kelly McDaniel who wrote 'Ready to Heal: Breaking Free of Addictive Relationships' and to Abdul Saad of Vital Mind Psychology who has free on You Tube videos that have helped me so much.

There are very good people in the world. Of this, I have no doubt. If you have struggled in a similar way to the way I have struggled, I encourage you to seek your answers. Once you know what in fact happened to you, you are on your way to healing. Know that you are not alone. You deserve to be happy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Being decisive

There has been a burst of action in my life. I think feelings had been building up  for me for some time so that when I really felt them with full force, action, not words so much as action, was easier than I ever imagined it could be.

For one piece of action, which came more like a decision, a decision to take no further action, it was decisive, but sad. I knew I had to make the decision. I knew I didn't have a choice. I felt strong. I felt a bit like a Warrior, protective of myself, and that part felt good. There was the smaller and more vulnerable part of me that felt sad, but the Warrior won, and I felt proud that that part of me insisted on being decisive and clear.

How it took as long as it did, well that's another story; a painful one. But, the decision was made to end the pain, like a surgeon saying that the patient would need to lose a leg but he could save his life. I haven't heard of anyone that said 'No, no, just leave me to die with everything intact' and I made the same decision.

For the second piece of action, I have turned the other cheek with a friend over the past few years. Conflict avoidant, I had chosen to not speak what I thought, any number of times, although I registered the intuitive thought that something was not right there, in the things she said. She's ratty at times; short tempered and comes across as fragile in a sense, but she's also a strong defender of herself. She has trouble seeing how she comes across and I recognized some time ago that she wasn't going to find a man, because there aren't perfect men/people out there, and that's what she insists upon. She must have gone through a dozen or more in the past few years.

The weird thing is she's good too. She works in the caring industry and she does good work on the whole, as far as I can tell. She does snuff off people along the way because she so wants her own way and most people don't want that sort of conflict in a relationship/friendship, but I chose to ignore the trait, until now. I guess I didn't process how much it bothered me. Or, maybe I was taking the bottom down position yet again and found myself tired of the view from there...

But, she turned on me this evening and said some truly awful things by text over the course of the evening. She sees me as a competitor which I said was a silly thing to do and she just kept upping the ante. The thing is a couple of people gave me praise for what I do, and what she does, and as far as she was concerned any praise for me, even though I am the new kid on the block with loads to learn, was a reason for her to garner more control; ensure I held my place in the pecking order, below her.

In the end, she acted like a domineering, son of a bitch Narcissist telling me what I was and wasn't go to do, and with full clarity and precision of thought I texted back that I wasn't planning to adhere to her demands and that our friendship was over.

(It's the morning and I don't regret this decision although I am sad about it. Something deep inside me tells me to defend that vulnerable part inside of me. My husband, furious about the way she treated me 'I told you she'd do this one day...', wanted to go and tell her off, and you have to love his protective streak, but no, I am standing up for myself.)

I've seen her behave with people in this way before, a number of times, and I kept my own counsel about it, but what's clear is that something has cleared in me.

I can speak up. I can protect myself if necessary. I have agency in this world.

In the past, I've been a Mamma Bear for my kids. I've stood up and protected them. But, it's a very rare day in my life when I stand up for myself in this way, and twice in two days! That's some sort of miracle. There is some sort of transformation going on. I may be growing up.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Feeling into the authentic appetite

I can reject my own appetite; my own responses to stimulus. If I feel that my authentic self is tied up with what I see as the difficulties of needing someone to be in a particular way, I see no other option than to try to not need that part of myself.

Yet when the planets align, it is as if no amount of effort to be some other way could ever come to anything. When I feel the presence of Dominance, dished out like a favourite meal, my mind and my body react in just the same way as ever. Like, ahhh, rice pudding, what a treat, dominance hits just the right spot.

And, I noticed on Tumblr just now, after some considerable time, a tumblr blog that made me hold my breath. Perhaps I have held my breath a thousand times before, when my heart does a little dance, but today, fresh from a double yoga class, my mind registered it; the pleasure; the connection of two souls in some way, if only for a moment; if only through words and images that resonated so instinctively.

At this time when the news is all about Prince Harry I find myself feeling that we all need to be comfortable in our skin. That comfort starts with accepting ourselves as we are; just as we are.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Life's work

If it is true that we are all working on something, our 'journey' through this life, then my thing is 'speaking my truth'. This is true on a psychological, emotional and spiritual level.

My daughter and her little family have been staying with me, just me, for the others are on an adventure. She pointed out to me that I sometimes give off a feeling of holding onto something. She noted this as a sense of discomfort in the air and urged me to speak my truth.

I explained to her that I had no experience with this as a child and that my experience with it as an adult provided me with further proof that it isn't a good policy. I explained that I fear the reaction to my truth.

She felt that I had to try nonetheless, to practice. So, I explained that having her dogs here was not easy for a number of reasons, which I outlined. She acknowledged this information without saying very much about it.  I felt a wee bit better, but I continue to feel (which I didn't say) that one dog in particular needs to see a dog behaviorist, because I feel another 10 years of not allowing it off the lead in parks seemed a far too limited life and unreasonably stressful for the adults walking it.

Today, I messaged a friend to see if she wanted to meet for lunch in her neighborhood  and being someone au fait with past lives she shared with me for the first time what she felt were my past lives. I had been chatting about this huge difficulty of mine to express my truth and that's when she said that I had had that difficulty for a number of lives.

'Feeling that sense of choking in my throat?' I asked. She nodded.

I didn't ask for details. I don't want to know, but I am open to letting something, if anything, evolve in a meditative way over time.

As well today, I shared that I had been remembering my dreams over the past week or more and that this was most unusual for me. I had been remembering them in some detail and it seemed to have a common theme, that I was interested in 'charm', trying to charm people that  I didn't like, or to take an alternative view, trying to like someone I didn't like; to start the relationship over. It's about two men - the only two men I truly dislike, and co-incidentally both once lived on my street.

She said it was to do with the universe's movements, or something or other. I was happy to listen but I don't understand that cosmic sort of belief system.

Anyways, for the first time ever I found myself looking up, 'how to access past lives' and listened to a couple of fairly quick explanations which relate to getting very still in mind and body and seeing what comes up, more or less.

I am comfortable in saying that I only ever have had one experience of sort of slightly touching on a past life. I was in New Zealand a few years ago and in the process of a mostly silent retreat.  After lunch, my choice with part of my free time was to climb the mountain of the retreat on my own. I know I loved this time. I distinctly remember stopping at a little bridge in the thick of  the enclosed landscape of palms and trees, a little water gurgling along below the short wooden bridge, and thinking, 'Remember this', which is something I do when I feel a complete sense of peace.

I had reached the Sanctuary, sat for a while on a bench, and was making my way back when two things happened. First of all, I felt I was walking along with my husband. His presence was profoundly with me; not in body but in spirit.

(And, co-incidentally, during a meditation hour at my yoga studio last night my mind returned to this experience in such a grounded way that I made a loose fist with my left hand, much as I would if I was holding his hand.)

A little further down towards the retreat centre it occurred to me quite spontaneously...perhaps in a past life I had been a slave, or, a member of royalty. I tried to feel into both states but a slave seemed more authentic. It was no more than that, a momentary glimpse.

If it could possibly be so, and I have held my tongue, swallowed my words for goodness knows how many lives, this has some resonance for me. Above all things, this seems to be my work in this life, in any case.

I somehow think that I have been attracted to people who cannot accept my words, thereby making this work as difficult as it could possibly be. Here we are, me who fears so deeply the upset that comes from speaking my truth and the other who struggles so to hear any words that might suggest they have a flaw, or that I am criticizing them.

Ram Dass or Eckhart Tolle or the Budda or the Dalai Lama would say of this that this is what makes them so important in my life; they are helping me overcome this struggle, once and for all.

If all of this has an ounce of truth about it, then to live my best life I need to learn this lesson - to speak my truth without the fear, the overwhelming fear of being rejected, annihilated, abandoned, rebuked.

A more 'feet on the ground' proposal, one that my psychologist, who I currently don't see, would propose is quite simply that my childhood experiences ensured that this was always going to be difficult for me.

In the end PP didn't see a point in seeing me any more but rather seeing my husband. This is bearing some fruit, it must surely be so, since we have been talking away in a very heart-centred way; him listening to me quietly as I reveal things that I have held onto.

Just before he left for Europe, maybe two days before that, I found myself telling him of the time I returned home from, I think, a school trip to discover that my mother had either sold or given away my books. This came as a terrible shock but what I missed deeply, then and now, was a book given to me by my ballet master. Before he dismissed us after class on that particular day, he had asked us to take a seat on the wooden floor. Sitting there in our pink leotards and tights he said that he wanted to give a reward to the girl who had made great improvement over the term and he called out my name.

This was a beautiful moment for me. The book was in black and white, of the Bolshoi Ballet with a note from him on the inside cover. It meant a great deal to me. In my absence, my mother had whisked it away from me, out of my life, my hands.

I said to my husband when I spoke about this a few weeks ago, 'why did she do that?' and of course he didn't have a definite answer. I have had two theories over time. Perhaps most likely is that she simply didn't know me; had no idea how much the book meant to me; the books, my alternative life. It's hard to handle the second theory; that the books were too beloved by me, had to go; that my attention needed to be directed more on her.

The point is I absorbed the emotional pain of it. I didn't criticize my mother, had learned earlier that my psyche wouldn't survive doing that. I stayed silent.

Last night, I did a double yoga class, yin and then yoga nidra/meditation and the teacher asked us, 'what is it that you are holding onto?' 'what is it that you are not sharing?'

My answer is that I desperately needed time to myself, which was cut short by my daughter and her little family needing to be with me for 10 days, leaving me with precious few days on my own before the guys get back.

If I review my choices, I chose, when not alone, the yoga studio, and a spiritual friend or two. I visited my mother for a few days out of duty, nothing more. I avoided friends; happily chatted briefly to strangers in the market and such, and listened for hours to Jack Kornfield on the Internet. My treat was 'Mad Men', gobbles of it.

If I am holding back anything at this point it's my creativity. A quiet mind seems right. I adore listening to stories on the radio or podcasts, far more than I want to create a story or to work with my story on the page in story form. I think that might be because just when I think I have 'solved' my story, got the right spin on it, the story changes; another peeling of the onion makes the last edition redundant.

For years now I have been working on this thought, seeking the answer. Is a bad family better than no family? We all need to come from somewhere, and it's a universal need to belong. Yet, what if we limit ourselves with this thought and open ourselves up to the thought that we belong to creation, the universal family. If there are past lives, how can the point be this family, but rather this soul.