Archive for April 2017

What Story do You want to Live? || Dorothy Wallis

What Story do You want to Live? There is Power in the Story You Tell Yourself

By Dorothy Wallis

You are a marvel of extraordinary creativity.

     The creative force of life flows through you and manifests itself continuously. Your body is recreating itself from the patterns in your DNA, from the beliefs you hold, and the images and emotions that stream through your heart. In every moment you are born anew from the story you tell yourself about whom you are. 

     Your story is vast. It is the story of your ancestor’s experiences and beliefs about life. It is the story of how they survived, their relationship to the land and the people they loved and those they had conflict with. It is the story of their pain and triumphs. It is the story of their culture, the language, songs, dress, customs and mores, religions, social organization, governance and the ways in which they formed community. 

     Humans are storytellers.  Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly telling yourself a story.  It is the powerful and unique way in which we create. Before writing, the ancients shared story through drawings, cave paintings, song, dance, myth, and through the oral tradition of passing on knowledge.  Story coalesces images with emotion and belief.  It formulates a pattern, which remains as memory, and activates an electro-magnetic field that responds, duplicates and enacts the story as reality. 

     Self-talk is the daily chattering in our head that reinforces our story of life, how the world operates, and the image we hold of ourselves.  It tells us how to interact with others, what is safe, what is not safe and is filled with judgments, assumptions, limitations, rules, protocols, and all manner of beliefs about navigating this reality.  This “Inner Talk” is mind-blowingly powerful!  We are so used to its drone that we do not even realize the significance of its effect on our experience of life. 

     “The circumstances and conditions of life are outpictured inner talking, solidified sound.  Inner speech calls events into existence. In every event is the creative sound that is its life and being. All that a man consents to as true reveals itself in his inner speech.”  Neville

     There are different voices doing the talking.  There is your “Inner Guidance” often referred to as your “Higher Self” and most likely you also have an “Inner Critic.”  Some people have very loud obnoxious Inner Critics that condemn and demean them. Others have a softer more modulated Inner Critic that warns them or keeps them limited to what is believed to be safe. Whether loud or soft the Inner Critic is giving you messages that keep you in line with the values and beliefs that you have accepted.  This acceptance becomes your reality and shows up as an experience mirroring the story.  “As you sow, so shall you reap.”  The seeds of your inner talk beget the Story that germinates into future action. 

     Your self-talk can also freeze you into inaction and contraction when it demoralizes you.  Condemning words of self-hate, self-loathing, believing you are no good, or that something is terribly wrong with you destroy your sense of self-worth.  When your self-worth is disparaged, your vital life force is diminished.  You can feel it in your body when your inner critic attacks you.  It feels as though you’ve been hit with a heavy blow knocking you out.  You may experience confusion, disorientation, and emotions of sadness, depression or shame.  Physically, it can feel as though a compressing wave is shrinking you.  This contraction is real.  The cells of your body respond to the story whether your words are silent or spoken out loud.  Essentially, you are enacting a powerful intention with the story you believe.  When this story deflates your sense of self, your Self and your body lose their power to BE.  Low self-esteem is an action reducing the Self.  You are actually causing your physical self to lose its vitality and ability to live when you consistently criticize and belittle yourself.

     When depressed, it is often very difficult for a person to stop the inner critic. 

     The voice and the story have become second nature; the voice is a constant companion.  You are used to hearing it and you accept it as the truth.  You have built up experiences that validate the story you tell yourself.  With a mountain of evidence of abandonment, neglect and rejection, you determine that you are unlovable or not worthy.  You may have protected yourself with an armor of meanness, bitterness or withdrawal so as to not get hurt anymore.  This reaction of defense is an unconscious story, which only serves to diminish you and cause more hatred toward yourself, “see what a terrible despicable person I am?”

     Bringing the unconscious stories into your awareness is key to breaking out of the old pattern and perceiving the reality of the power your story has on your experience of life.  What is it that you believe and how do those beliefs create the story you tell?  Follow the story to its conclusion.  Will this story create the outcome I desire?  When you truly see that the images you hold of yourself and life engage your emotions and thoughts into a story, you can begin to tell a story that enriches your life.

     The stories of the experiences of the past only have power when you hold onto them and invite them into the present.  Did you know that every time you recall something, your brain changes the memory ever so slightly and thus the story of the past?  Memories are not absolute.  Our stories are embellished and altered every time we remember.  In each and every moment, you have the power to choose a different story.

     Even small changes to the story you tell about yourself will have an effect.  You can begin by not accepting the voice of the inner critic as the truth.  Every time the voice of diminishment and contraction speaks, what can I tell myself instead?  What uplifting story am I able to imagine and tell?  What story empowers me into my highest good?  Use the power of your imagination and conscious choice to create a new story.  Remember, You are writing and telling the story of your life.  What do you desire it to Be? 

Why “Living in the Moment” Doesn’t Always Work || Lora Cheadle

Why “Living in the Moment” Doesn’t Always Work

By: Lora Cheadle

I was in the lobby of Rockefeller Center in Manhattan when the secret of life was revealed to me.

Contrary to what I’d been told, happiness, peace and prosperity did not come from living in the present. Happiness, peace and prosperity came from leaving the present moment, constantly shifting between the past and the future.

My chronic obsession with being present for everyone and everything in life had actually created a bigger issue, and as a consequence, I was even less present than I was before I became mindful. My over-presence resulted in a severe lack of presence.

Connecting to the Past and the Future

This sudden shift in perspective was due to a trompe d ‘oil (trick of the eye) mural on the Rockefeller Center ceiling by Jose Maria Sert, entitled Time. The key figure in this mural straddled a wide gulf with a heavy yoke over his neck. One foot on a pillar representing the past and one foot on a pillar representing the future, with the man perpetually balancing in the present.

The remarkable feature of this mural was that the man appeared to move as the viewer moved below him. When standing to the left of the man, he appeared to be looking to the future, his weight rooted firmly on his left leg, on the pillar representing the past. Moving towards the center, present point, his weight appeared to be evenly balanced on both pillars, poised between past and future. Moving to the right, the man began shifting his weight and his gaze, once again looking to the future and shifting his weight to his other leg, which, from this vantage point, was now in the past.

Walking back and forth under this mural two things became apparent. First, in order to stay perfectly balanced in the present moment, there can be no movement. Second, the crushing weight of the present moment was too heavy, even for this strong man, to hold up without the constant shifting of his weight. His movement was what gave him strength, flexibility and resiliency. He would not have survived rooted in the present.

The Fallacy that “Staying Present” Leads to Peace

This got me thinking about the push to live in the present moment, and how we might be taking that all wrong. Single-cell organisms live in the present moment. I’m pretty sure my dogs and cats spend quite a bit of time in the present moment. Babies and children spend much time in living in the present moment, but as they develop, they begin moving outside the present moment. The greater the level of intelligence, the greater the ability to move outside of the present moment, to reflect upon the past and to plan for the future. It is the ability to escape the ever-present present moment, that leads to happier, more productive and more peaceful lives. Not simply being present.

I once heard a former prisoner of war speak.

Despite spending seven years in captivity, he was able to survive and eventually thrive, in part, based on his ability to continually shift between the past and the future in order to create a tolerable presence. I navigated natural childbirth based on my ability to shift between the past and the future, only touching down in the present moment momentarily.

Even in ordinary, everyday situations, my ability to continually shift forward and backwards over the present moment gives my life peace, meaning and continuity. Otherwise, like the amoeba, my life sometimes feels like nothing but a perpetual string of frustratingly disconnected present moments. My ability to escape the present, to continuously integrate the past and plan for the future, provides depth and richness, bringing me happiness, success and peace.

Attending my children’s school concerts, I move briefly into the future, mentally planning a quick store run in preparation for dinner. This makes my future more efficient and enjoyable. Flashing back to memories of my own high school concerts brings on a flood of warm memories, making my present more enjoyable and meaningful. I am present, listening to the music, watching my children, but I’m also teetering between past and future, using both to navigate and enrich my present.

Disconnecting from the Present Moment Preserves Sanity

For me, my problem is not my failure to stay present. The problem is my chronic obsession with being present for everyone everything in my life. My problem is my over presence.

Like most Americans, I am constantly bombarded with multiple texts, calls and people. With two children, four animals, a spouse, multiple friends and family members, as well as clients and coworkers, staying present is sometimes crushing. Staying present requires me to be in multiple places at once, which I cannot do. Nothing remains sacred. Life becomes a string of present moments where nothing gets accomplished, nothing is enjoyed and frustration and inefficiencies mount.

The crushing weight of being present for everything that life throws at me, in the exact moment that it happens, means I’m stuck standing still. Like the man in the painting, I get crushed by a burden that I cannot hold.

I stand there stoically and attentively, but no matter how present I am, I cannot answer incoming calls at the same time I am texting replies. I cannot check my Facebook messages at the same time I’m viewing a Snap Chat. I cannot listen to one child’s stories about the day and help the other one with homework. I cannot pet the dogs while feeding the cat.

Mindfully Unmindful

In order to stay sane, happy and productive, I need to escape from the ever-present present moment. I need to move between the past and the future, constantly shifting between them in order to make the present do-able.

For me, the secret of perpetual peace and happiness does not lie in living in the present moment. The secret of perpetual peace and happiness lies in my ability to straddle both the past and the present, continually shifting my weight between the two. Like Time, staying locked in the present moment is too much for me to hold. I remember my past. I look forward to my future, and I bring both of them with me wherever I go, using them both to organize and enjoy my time in the ever-present present.


To read more of Lora’s writing, visit her website.

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

Bumping into the Lost Parts of You || Mary Coday Edwards

Bumping into the Lost Parts of You

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

April 4, 2017

In my 20s I found myself tricked and captured by the mythological Greek bandit Procrustes, known as the stretcher.

According to Greek mythos, Procrustes’ house was near the road between Athens and Eleusis, and he’d invite travelers in for a meal and the promise of a bed that would fit them perfectly.

But as the unsuspecting travelers would soon discover, this perfect bed came with a steep price: Procrustes would stretch short limbs to fit and cut off any overhanging bits.

In today’s world, the Procrustean bed is proverbially defined as a forced conformity to an arbitrary standard, often through violent or ruthless means (1). 

We do this unconsciously to others when we take our own cultural values and beliefs as absolute truths and impose them on the world around us, angrily judging that which doesn’t fit.

I’m part of an online “Freethinker” group – and its more vocal members have no qualms stridently slashing out at others whose thoughts don’t fit the arbitrary Freethinker Procrustean bed.

Family members force this on each other, as do our religious, educational, political, and economic institutions. Without even realizing it, we allow others to chop off vital parts of our beings, our psyches: “This part is acceptable, this is not.”

Thus we regularly empower our egos to brutally damage our true selves to serve what we perceive as society’s norms.

Fitting into the box of conformity

I knew nothing of Procrustes when an image popped into my head more than 30 years ago, leaving its blunt message forever engraved on my psyche: I saw myself stuffed into a box, with limbs sticking out – the pieces that just wouldn’t fit into that box of conformity – but, “Not to worry! We’ll just saw them off at the edges, and look! Now you fit perfectly!”

Some history: Having abandoned my childhood faith when I was 13, I eventually fell into the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, which then morphed into a patriarchal authoritarianism. 

“Jesus will set you free,” I was told by the male leaders, “but only free to be what I tell you.”

Fast forward a few years. Carl Jung writes that within each of us is an innate drive for wholeness (2), and eventually if those parts that we have deemed unacceptable aren’t brought out of the shadows and incorporated into ourselves, lethargy sets in along with a deep sadness that won’t go away, as well as despair and hopelessness.

John of the Cross calls this the Dark Night of the Soul.

And this despair, this deep sadness, this dark night – they are all gifts to us from the deepest part of who we are.

“Wake up!” it’s telling us.

So, when people come to me in despair, dying inside, they soon see the gift in the anguish – and they work with what’s emerging from their soul.  

The Sacred Way

This road by which Procrustes lived is known as the “sacred way,” because it was the route taken by processions when celebrating the sacred rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries. These mysteries relate to the myth of Demeter, mother of Persephone, when Persephone was abducted by the king of the underworld, Hades.

Demeter, goddess of the harvest and agriculture, goes into deep mourning for this lost part of herself – her daughter. While searching for Persephone, she caused a drought during which time people starved and died. These rites describe the descent (loss), the search, and the ascent – and of course, the representation of life restored.

Symbolically speaking, we can see the pattern in our own psyches: how while traveling the sacred path of our life’s journey, we can be tricked into violently rejecting parts of ourselves not acceptable to what might be an arbitrary standard.

We’re hobbled by rejecting these vital pieces of who we are, but we continue on until the wake-up call can no longer be ignored – usually because of emotional, psychological, or physical suffering. 

And it’s here we have a choice: We can give into despair, believing things will never change.

OR, we can begin the descent into our psyches, searching for these lost parts of ourselves – and if we’re fortunate, we find apt guides who aid us in interpreting the signs along the way.

Those at risk for suicide teeter on the edge of hope. People are bumping into this lost part of themselves and don’t know it. Hope sets us off on a journey to find our missing pieces. You might end up down a path with just enough light to see that next step. You will develop new awareness skills through mindfulness practices

Wherever you end up, you won’t be the same. The energy consumed in ensuring that those wiggly pieces wouldn’t reconnect themselves is now set free and you will live your life differently.

So, what’s emerging from your soul? What beautiful fragments of you will you find?

And as always, People House ministers, counselors, therapists, and staff are here to assist you on your Sacred Way. No one can do it for you, but you can’t do it alone!

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Notes & Sources:

1.) For Procrustean bed and Eleusinian Mysteries, see online sources, such as Wikipedia and Britannica, Greek mythological figures.

2.) Jung, C.G. Collected Works of C.G. Jung: The First Complete English Edition of the Works of C.G. Jung. Routledge; 2015.

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About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation

 


Here is a list of the other blog Mary has written for People House:

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth