Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Overcoming cravings

Most people have addictions, do something that soothes them in the moment, or that they wish they didn't do, or could give up. Perhaps you find yourself seeking out  too much chocolate after dinner, or need more attention than the average person.

Some people take refuge in drugs or alcohol whilst others crave the high of the gym to an obsessive level , or need a lot of casual sex, or power, or control.

Some people become addicted to connection, or trying to forge and maintain a connection with another human being whose interest in that connection is only haphazard; an empath spiraling down into codependence, a submissive person in the domain of an ambivalent dominant perhaps.

Whatever the addiction, there's a story behind that behavior, lots of suffering.

It's said that sometimes people come into your life in order to teach lessons, but addictions can be so long lasting and inevitably they cause a great deal of pain, to the sufferer and to those around them.

We tire of the suffering. That's the reason for suffering. We become desperate to be rid of the addiction. Round and round it goes, so many attempts. So many falls off the wagon.

With tenacity an addiction isn't impossible. If you can pause long enough, breathe, wait it out, the feeling of craving will dissipate. You sense your own strength to withstand the craving.

But, dare I say, that there may well be that one time when the craving is too much, the physiological feelings - perhaps a heaviness in the throat or the chest - can't be battled. You cave in and once again the addiction has the upper hand.

So, trying as hard as we do to be rid of an addiction that is causing havoc to our peace of mind and way or life, what might be missing, if we want it that badly?

Here's the thing. Each time we fail we beat ourselves up, right? If only we were stronger, more committed, then we wouldn't fail.

This is the problem. To overcome an addiction you need to have self compassion. 'Love is always loving you' you might say to yourself. Or, 'I know this is hard. I am with you'. Whatever works for you to settle yourself is fine.

Befriending yourself, it gets easier and your resolve is strengthened. You're not alone any more.  Love trumps a craving in the moment. Love is always loving you.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The sacral chakra

When you find yourself on a 'spiritual journey' of some sort it's a clear indication that something about your inner or outer life has gone wrong. Catherine Ingram, a woman who has met nearly all the great spiritual leaders in terms of interviewing them likes to say, 'I hang out with the broken hearted'.

It's almost guaranteed that an exploration outwards on this spiritual journey leads you inward. Meditation, of course, is a going inward experience. In the course of meditation I think most people search for the nothingness phenomena only to realize that the mind doesn't stop for more than a few breaths at a time.

In fact, it becomes an exercise in acceptance. The mind doesn't stop but it gets quieter as breathing is deeper and more relaxed. The thoughts in the mind are more available and so we notice the thoughts, the madness of the mind, and we find that it doesn't really matter after all. We can't control the thoughts - didn't ask for them, aren't responsible for them - and so we can begin to laugh at the absurdity of them.

Somewhere in the process you learn more about yourself on the spiritual journey. Most likely, it is the behavior of other people that led you to go off and explore the spiritual life, but isn't it ironic that it all leads back to you, your understanding that forgiveness of others is a gift to yourself, for example.

Katie Byron is famous for her very simple and profound realization that life is much happier and calmer if we remind ourselves constantly, until it becomes second nature, that we need to look after our own business, and not that of other people. There's no tolerance for trying to change or modify others, for spending time trying to fix people. As she says, if you busy yourself worrying about other people's lives, who is it that is living your life?

When things get chaotic and dramatic in your life, I do feel that there is good cause to investigate that, if for no other reason than to stop the drama. Some people have more tolerance for drama. As a younger person I did better with drama than I do in my older years. Eventually, drama wore me down and I needed to put an end to it.

I became almost an expert in the reasons for drama in one's soul and behavior, and once I had that sorted out, I became adept in stopping the drama to the extent possible. There is a warning here, a pitfall that comes with this sort of knowledge and expertise. In the same ways that stars in  the eyes will protect young love, it is easier to love someone when one is ignorant of what is going on. Disconnection occurs when conversation fails. You are on your own.

For those with an open and forgiving heart, almost too much empathy, it is a shock and a deeply felt sense of discomfort to realize that the heart can close down. Defensive measures used to end drama and chaos of those with limited awareness or consciousness can create a blockage in the sacral chakra. This comes as a great shock.

Accepting reality, the 'what is', the question becomes, how does one maintain boundaries such that chaos and drama is kept at bay at the same time as one endeavors to open the heart again; puts on display again the sort of vulnerability that allows for intimacy that is actually deeply desired? This is part of a closed heart chakra, the push and pull.

It's interesting that as a blockage is acknowledged, an opportunity is created for the heart to begin to open up again, much like a flower. It is not likely to be a gush of momentum, for the heart is tender now. More like a soft breeze that flows through an open window, felt gently on the skin. It feels good. It feels like a delightful change in the atmosphere of the inner landscape. One begins to feel that healing is occurring.

Friday, February 16, 2018


I had the sweetness of spending time with my youngest son last night. We went to see 'The Post' which we both enjoyed and then onto a Malaysian restaurant to eat dumplings and other delicious food. Usually we talk non stop after a movie about the movie. As someone not well versed with the story and the characters he was more focused on the technicalities of how they told the story and after that we moved onto other topics.

Our conversation tended to traverse areas of personality, since he has recently returned from Cambodia. When he first came home his comments related to the local people and how happy they were with their simple lives. As time has gone on he has tended to ponder the behavior of the other female students there who had a tendency to be hard on one another and especially judgmental of another male student who confided in my son that he has Aspbergers.

This boy and my son were room mates, sharing a hut to themselves. My son told me of a funny moment. At the airport on the way home he confessed to the boy that when he said he was going up on the roof to look at the stars, really he was going up there to get a break from him. The boy said, quite seriously, 'I enjoyed it when you went up there too.' Of course, I laughed, because isn't that the truth!? Too much of anyone and we find something that we have forgotten to do and take off for a while.

I've been revisiting material lately about the qualities of an 'empath' and ways to protect oneself. It seems that I had this somewhat covered as a young person according to my instincts.

When I was a college student my father gave me a little Mazda. It wasn't the fanciest of cars nor particularly stylish but I adored my first car for the simple reason that it allowed me a safety hatch. I was telling my son about those times over dinner. My husband always felt obliged during term breaks to return to the farm for the entirety of the time. He was always a very loyal son and he felt the weight of this expectation.

As his girlfriend if I wanted to spend some little time with him I needed to drive myself up there, and of course, the expectation would be that I'd stay for a week, or longer. But, a week is a very long time for an empath in an environment where everybody speaks loudly, and more loudly again to get over the loud people competing for space. So often I'd yawn in the evenings and explain that the country air made me very sleepy and I thought I'd go off to bed. It wasn't that I was so terribly tired but rather that the noise created was too much.

After five or so days I'd explain that I needed to go home and attempts would be made to convince me to stay longer. I'd explain how much I'd love to do that but I had shifts at my casual job and simply had to return. The drive home alone was always sweet and I'd stop off in some little town and buy jam or have a cup of tea. Sometimes I'd be brave and try a new route home. I've always loved these little solo adventures. To this day I love to drive alone in the country, often with just my own thoughts, or even mindlessly.

To return to Mike, the boy with Aspbergers, my son explained that he finds it hard to understand why people can't just accept people as they are. I guess it is bragging but I have to tell you that I have the most amazing son. He actually converses with me about psychology and philosophy. I can't say this to anyone else or they would think I was nuts but I told him about my feelings about trees.

So, when one goes out to the park you could just go walking and not notice the trees too much. But, I've always felt that they have personalities and that I can feel it. Some trees grow so straight and tall, majestic and proud. Some trees look as if they haven't had the most tender loving care when young, or some event occurred to interfere with their development. Maybe they tend towards one side or develop unusual characteristics. But, certainly in a park setting or out in nature we tend not to be too harsh with the tree. We accept the tree. We can do this with trees but we tend to be much more judgmental of people.  We need to think about people more like trees.

My thoughts are jumping about, I know, but this week I was working with a young boy. The idea was that he would read to me a story about fairies in which he had become immersed, but I notice that when a young person gets my one on one attention they just have to share their life with me. So, he told me all about his family, that he was an only child and a detailed story about the twins his mother was expecting ensued. When I delved further, something didn't feel right and I made a mental note of that.

It wasn't until I was driving home in the car that I remembered that he said, 'My Mum and Dad aren't married. When they get married they will have them.' This came after his explanation that the twins arrival was indeed imminent. His mother wasn't expecting twins at all, but he'd conjured the twins, just as my first son conjured two imaginary friends when he was about three years old who we took everywhere. The story Mike told me was a result of his loneliness and his feeling that he wasn't like the other kids somehow.

I see this morning that there is an article, in the New Yorker I think, with the subject matter of how the United States government has failed to keep their children safe. This is undoubtedly true. My youngest son knows that we are traveling soon to the States and he was very serious when he said to me to keep my wits about me there. This made me feel very sad, that the time had come when we felt fear about traveling to the United States of America.

The United States is my second home although I have been away for a long time. I raised three of my children there. I gave birth to two of them there and another was conceived there. It seems that the young man who shot into the crowd of students, killing 17 of them I believe, was regularly carrying guns at school before he was expelled. How is this in any human beings mind acceptable behavior?

Sadly, this young man desperately needed help and tragically young lives were stolen when he didn't get the help he needed. What could possibly have been more important than seeing to it, by his parents and educators, that he got the assistance he needed to be at ease within himself such that the carnage was avoided?

When watching the movie last night it went through my mind several times, 'Oh, we've lost something.' Investigative journalism that serves the people  seems not to matter so much any more. Maybe not enough people are willing to take the time it takes to read the long story teaming with facts. That's the way I learned about Watergate and it felt right, that a wrong had been righted through careful dissemination of the truth.

Guns are lethal weapons, best not handled by those who are in a delicate frame of mind. No child should be able to access a gun. Maybe if someone had bothered to converse with this boy about matters that were on his mind as he grew up we wouldn't be having this particular conversation.

Monday, February 5, 2018


People tend to talk about marriage failure in terms of statistics. Half of marriages, or thereabouts, fail. Yet, divorce, the failure of a union of two people, is a very personal thing.

It's not so bad, or so sad, when two people decide to go their separate ways, but when you add into the equation children, the sadness quotient escalates rapidly.

Sometimes, marriages fail very quickly. Within the year, it's determined it was a mistake; a moment of madness. That's more embarrassing than sad, I'd suggest. All that wedding planning seems so silly.

When a marriage has gone decades, when a couple have watched their children learn to walk and talk, to graduate college and begin careers, to get married themselves, there is an element of the union that seems unbreakable.

Family, neighbors, friends and acquaintances have become used to seeing them together in all types of settings, and who really thinks about what goes on behind their closed doors?

For some people there is a soul connection; a sort of stripping away of the skin and bones, the ego, such that one sees right to the core, and it's a good core; a kind-hearted soul.

Perhaps I am just being my empathetic self, demonstrating my tendency to see through the veneer and down into the body pain that can make people so demonic.

It is said that we make choices. We choose our behavior. There is nothing wrong with this statement until we consider the damage caused to individuals. Maybe they could be better, act better, be kinder, but something holds them back, something dark and deep; scarring that simply won't heal, can't heal.

What if a partner is sometimes rational, loving, kind and reasonable, but sometimes cruel, unreasonable, wilful, headstrong and committed to his own way, despite the hurt that is caused?

What then? What if all the possibilities for a better outcome - looking into oneself, committing to therapy - are simply beyond the individual, for the simple reason that he sees nothing wrong with himself - or does know there is something wrong with himself but would rather die than admit it?

Sometimes, at least in my generation, things have gone so far that one figures one might as well limp along to the finish line.

Sometimes, there is a single moment when one looks at the other raging and thinks, after all the millions of steps, he just went a step too far.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

'Forgive them...'

I'm not exactly a history buff. I've done my fair share of history since it was a major in a undergraduate degree, but even then I focused on social history rather than battles and dates.

History repeats itself and no more so than in families where the sins of the father might continue to be felt through the generations. With every action there is a reaction. With every hurt there is a scar that may not entirely heal.

Violence breeds violence, unless there is a conscious determination to end it here, right now. One rejects the patterns of the past. One says, 'it stops here'.

Only those willing to investigate the mind, our own mind and those of other people, can develop the awareness to stop unacceptable behavior. Without awareness, you've got absolutely nothing to work with.

It's no sin to make mistakes. The sin is not exploring that mistake; not committing to strive to do better.

It's my definition of insanity to be so wrapped up with self-importance, with justification of one's own actions, to not explore one's own behavior. How is it possible not to be vaguely interested in what makes one's own mind tick?

How is it not possible to see that unless we make a determination to end one's family's failings with this generation, we create scars for the next?

Of course the mind is very clever. It tricks us into justifying and projecting and denying until we are blue in the face. Anything but admit we are at fault, that mistakes were made.

Utter and complete foolishness. The wise ones stand up and say, 'I did wrong. I knew no better at the time. I will try to do better in the future.'

'Forgive them for they know not what they do.'

Good heavens, Jesus has been dead for a very long time. Time to heed the warning offered so long ago.